Green Eyed Monster
A.N.: Ending thanks to the production of Pimpernel I saw at the Palmdale Playhouse, whose amazing Chauvelin saved the show from being a wasted trip. Honestly the most tragic thing I think I've ever seen, and put a new spin on everyone's favorite villain for me. Thanks to all my readers and reviewers for their patience over the two years it has taken me to slowly get around to finishing this story. Special thanks to Hanna for never getting off my freaking back. Much love.
There was a strange and winter sun which lifted the fog off the river and warmed the cold, wet earth around Blakeney Manor, as if it strove to warm and dry everything it touched. In this it was succeeding.
Lady Blakeney herself had flown down the stairs that morning, her husband having returned late in the night, a bright smile on her face, a spring in her step and a song in her heart. She flittered into the dinning room, a mirror to the sun, found her husband sitting there, absorbed in a book, and rushed up, taking the book from his surprised hands and kissing him.
Percy barely had time to react. "What-"
"Good morning!" she smiled at him in a whisper, drawing a chair close to him. "How was your trip?"
He blinked, confused as to why she was pretending so well. "It was-"
"Did you save any aristocrats?"
"Did I what?"
She kissed him again and Blakeney tried very hard to gather all his anger and hurt and sarcasm to him – and failed. But she'd cheated on him, she'd…. "Percy," she sighed, looking at him with her beautiful, dark blue eyes. "I love you."
"Marguerite…" he protested, highly confused. Well, after all, wasn't that what she'd said all those months ago to Chauvelin himself? That she still loved him? Wasn't that was Percy had wanted? Hadn't he pledged that so long as their love lived so could they? Well, why not. Now was as good a time as any. "I don't understand," was all he managed.
"You will," his wife promised, taking his hands in hers and still smiling at him. He began to smile too. "Because we are finally going to be together now that you've come back. Together like we should have been before."
After a pause he kissed her hand and then her lips. And he beamed back at her. "But, Marguerite, I can't come back when I never left."
"I must say I received your note last Wednesday with rather keen disappointment." The agent was standing behind her chair as they were tucked away at Lord Grenville's ball. He was making Marguerite entirely too nervous, and she was trying to remember how she'd promised Percy she would handle the situation. But such things as these could not be handled. "I was doubly upset when you said that we shouldn't correspond for a little while." Chauvelin shrugged. "But of course you know what's best. I was given the impression that your husband was out of town?"
"I was unsure," Marguerite replied softly, still not looking up at him, "if my communiqués were being monitored or not."
"Well," he replied, dragging a chair over to hers and delicately taking her hand, which she reluctantly gave him, "if he already knows does it really matter?"
"It matters immensely," she assured him.
He shrugged again. "As I said, you know what's best. But now," he whispered, pulling himself closer to her, running a hand across her shoulder and whispering in her ear. "Last week did not work, but everything is set the moment you wish to leave for Paris, my darling Marguerite."
She pushed him slightly away, giving him a look that suggested to him she only didn't want someone walking in on them like that, which was entirely plausible. "Chauvelin," she whimpered, "I don't think I can leave with you to go to France."
He paused a moment, pale eyes looking at her and feeling monstrously hurt and disappointed. "….Oh," was all he eventually said, adjusting his cravat. "Well…"
"Please don't be upset."
"I must say it was terribly cruel of you to get my hopes up like that."
"I didn't mean to," she promised, trying to soften the blow that was still coming to a man who had really been very kind to her these last few months, and one of the only ones to be so.
"Oh, my Margot," he sighed, looking a little heartbroken as he ran a hand along her cheek. "If it was a good idea once then it still is now."
"No, Chauvelin, that's not true, and you know it."
"I see. You've merely lost your courage."
"I've lost something, amour, you can be sure of that."
He cupped her face, still looking rather tragic. "How very unfortunate." He made to kiss her and to his intense surprise she stopped him. "What-"
"Not here," she pleaded. "There's so many people around."
Something in him was sending off an alarm and he was frightened. "Then let them see."
"I don't need that, Chauvelin, I really don't." The klaxon spurred him; he kissed her, pressed her against him, before she succeeded in fighting him off. "I said no." She was glaring hot fire at him and he suddenly clung to her, rather fearful.
"Marguerite, darling, when can I see you again?" he begged her and she stroked his hair and soothed him; no, surely it was alright…He breathed.
"I'm not sure."
"Make it soon!"
"I can't promise that."
"Marguerite!" he pleaded, looking her in the eye, and she lost yet more nerve. "I love you."
They simply looked at each other for a long time before she kissed him sweetly and pulled herself away. "I know."
That wasn't a satisfactory answer, but he'd expected no less. "Of course. I've said it many times before, haven't I?"
"And…I know you never said it back, but I know, I know that you love me, too."
She sighed. "No, Chauvelin, I've told you as much time and time again."
"Marguerite, you must love me! You can't do anything else!"
"I can and I do."
"No," he said fiercely, taking her hands again which she briefly tried to pull away; it only made him hold tighter. "No, you see, we had our nights in Paris-"
"And that was all we had!" she whispered, crying a little and putting a hand to his cheek. He fell into silence. "Chauvelin, please, try and understand."
"…You're not sitting here crying merely to say you don't love me. Either that's proof you're deluding yourself or you're harboring some terrible thing inside yourself." She looked down and said nothing. "Tell me," he pleaded. Still she did not respond. He crept up very close to her, whispering and gentle. "For all the times I've ever had the honor of watching you sleep, Marguerite, dearest – tell me."
"Chauvelin," she sighed, tears stuck in her eyes. "I don't think we can see each other anymore."
He didn't say anything for a long time, just stared at her. It was almost as if he hadn't heard her at first, and he blinked a few times right before the hot knives went into his heart, the way they had when he'd realized that he'd made the wrong decision in choosing politics over love. Only now he was being brought aware of just how very wrong that choice had been; he hadn't been sacrificing a freedom. He'd been sacrificing her. And he'd thought he'd gotten her back again, for a few hours been certain in the knowledge that he could correct such an error and keep her with him forever and make her forget she'd ever thought she'd loved another man.
But here she was. And she was crying.
After a very long time, all he said was, "…what?"
"Now, don't talk, just listen-"
"I don't think I can listen," he interrupted. "Not when you're speaking insensibly." He laughed slightly and felt better, as though he'd never really heard those words at all. "No, no, Marguerite," he smiled. "What a clever way to frighten me. Trying to bind me tighter to you, are you? I promise, you needn't have bothered."
"That's not why!"
He tried to kiss her again and still failed – then he felt a twinge inside himself. "Marguerite…"
"Chauvelin," she whimpered, pulling out her handkerchief and dabbing at her eyes. The agent tried to hold her close to shush her tears, but she would not have it and he grew nervous and hurt again. "I tried to tell you. I've tried so many times. I love Percy, I don't know how many times I've said it to you-"
"If you loved him, then you wouldn't lie in my arms at night!"
"And what do you think I'm trying to do now! Lead you on? God's sakes, Chauvelin, how much more plain should I make it?"
"Plain enough to drive a knife into my heart?"
"Oh, God, please don't make me do that."
"What you do you do of your own accord," he growled, turning away from her and clutching the mantelpiece, too proud to let her see him cry. How happy he'd been when he'd found her falling into his arms in the garden that fall, how joyful that he'd won her back. It was a sign of his forgiveness, his repentance accepted, and he remembered every night in Paris, every night in London and in Richmond and any other place they could sneak their tryst. How badly did he have to love her before it over-whelmed her and replaced her love for Blakeney? How many times did he have to apologize for his mistakes before they were accepted? Was this a joke? A cruel joke? That had to be it. That must be it, and he turned to her and swiftly grabbed her hands in his. "Marguerite, my love, my only love-"
"You know my affection for you, I can express it in no better way than I already have. I beg of you, do not spurn me now; I am nothing without you, Marguerite, I swear it! I've sacrificed the Republic at your golden alter, for utopia is undesirable without you by my side each night, each day, each breath. Do you understand all that?"
She let her tears slip down her pale cheeks and he hurriedly wiped them away, pained to see them. Sniffling and shaking, she croaked, "I understand, Chauvelin."
"Then please, I beg you, do not send me away now, of all cruel times, not now nor ever."
"Chauvelin…" She took his hands and pushed them away very slowly, looking up at him and shaking her head. He stood, horrified for a moment, just staring at her with the most broken hearted expression Marguerite could bring to mind. Good God, this man had loved her, how could she do this? How could she have turned from Percy to him when he'd loved her, why did she hurt him like that? And now was she not doing the exact same thing in reverse?
God forgive me for this, for the worst is yet to come, this I know…
"Please, understand, dearest Chauvelin…."
"I am not your dearest anything," he groaned, turning away and going to his knees by her seat on the sofa. He buried his face in his hands and simply focused on restraining his bitter tears as her musical voice flittered like a torturous whip against his senses.
"You are one of the few people who has given me any comfort since Percy and I became estranged. You are, I am in your debt for that, I always will be. But to continue to pull your leash as though I loved you, to continue to wound Percy as though he were not a cuckold – these are things I, in good conscience, cannot do. I was wrong to ever begin this affair."
"You were wrong to
make me love and hope for a better life for us, that is what you were
wrong to do."
"You're right!" she agreed, touching his hair so that he flinched and she sighed heavily. "You're absolutely right, I do so need absolution for that sin of mine. Chauvelin," she whispered, taking his hands from his face and slipping her little one into his. "For the sake that I was once your little Marguerite and hope to always remain your dear friend, forgive me. Call me when you need me, let me be a pillar of support, but do forgive me first."
He stared at the little hand in his for a long time, thumb running over the fingers he'd kissed so often, had run through his hair so often, he'd adored so often. "You're really going," he whispered, so shocked, so hurt.
"I'm really going…"
"Huh…" was all he could whisper, trembling with her little hand to hold. "Huh…" He pushed the hand away and she looked up at him with hurt, dark blue eyes while he just looked away, fingers to his temples and shaking head to toe. "You expect me to forgive you, play nice with you, after all that."
"I don't expect anything, and I realize I ask for much, but that is the way things are."
He closed his eyes very tightly, the hurt welling up in his chest so that his fists clenched and he could not see straight. Such awful emotions could rule a man, as to make him blind and ignorant in his love, to make him ignorant that his love made him hate, to make him ignorant he hated that which he loved best.
But he didn't consider most of this his fault.
With all the coldness he'd ever had but never tried to show her, he rounded on Lady Blakeney, eyes very hard – and she grew frightened. "You do ask for much," he growled, wanting to go back onto his knees and beg her love back again, but he hurt too much right now for such a game, and she would only spurn him for the millionth time. Such affections could not be spurned so much and expect to survive the coldness of the winter. "But I think I shall ask you for a little bit more."
"Chauvelin," she squeaked, "what-"
"Hush, oh darling Marguerite," he snarled, seizing her hand and digging through his pockets for all his spies' notes, throwing them here and there in desperate search for one in particular. "Hush, I know what's best. Ah, here it is!" He thrust one into her tiny palm and she slowly, cautiously unfurled it, eyes scanning it with bloody horror. "Your brother's been arrested, my love, were you aware?"
"God, Armand, no!"
"Quite arrested. Your lover kept him safely out of harms way out of affection for you, but God was he a fool to do so." He snatched the note back so that she gave a short scream, and he marched to the door. "I intend to correct that error now."
"Chauvelin, no!" She launched herself at him, clinging to his arm, and he snarled and tried to pry her off.
"Get off of me, you have no place with me now."
"For the sake of our love-"
"Our love, ha! You mock the very name, you treacherous wench. What I felt you never reciprocated and what I could promise you, you were too foolish to accept. Fine, then, Marguerite, I can survive without you once more, but I don't know if you can make do without me. Armand certainly will not."
"No, wait, please!" she pleaded, crying fiercely again as he stood and watched with a sick sort of justification, a slight balm to his very aching wounds. He would never enjoy seeing her cry, he didn't now, but it was something of a triumph for all the time he'd wasted aching over her and loving her to death when she would never love him back for even a moment.
"Wait? What's this, wait?" She nodded her head fiercely and he simply gave her a look from those cold, falcon's eyes. "Wait. The idea. You used me," he snarled at her, and she clung to the very hem of his coat sleeve, pressing her lips to it as he softened and hardened again. "But never again, now I shall use you, Marguerite, for an entirely different purpose."
"What purpose could you have!" she pleaded, hands slipping down to his polished boots, clinging to him with a sad, pathetic desperation melting to any soul that had not loved her quite so well as he had.
"The one I presented to you in the past; the Scarlet Pimpernel. Deny me you, but I shall deny you your brother unless you bring me his identity."
The horror of the situation caught her, and he seemed to notice something in her eyes, noticed there was something in the way she flung herself back from him. He advanced down upon her and she shook her head and sobbed. "I don't know!" wept Lady Blakeney, a wreck at the horror – the even greater horror – that lay beyond her like a vast, consuming ocean, just waiting to swallow her and all the world in. "I don't know!"
"No, naturally you don't. Nobody does. But," he hissed, kneeling to be on her level, pressing his lips against her own and swearing when she pushed him off, "you will, my Marguerite, my former Marguerite. This I promise, you will. Armand will not see the light of another dawn if you don't."
"How could you be so cruel!" she pleaded, scrambling onto the sofa as he waved the incriminating evidence of her brother's guilt – that infamous League of the Scarlet Pimpernel had seduced him and made him a member of their own pack and there was no saving him now. "After all we've gone through, how could you be so cruel?"
"Ask yourself the same question," he snarled, turning to the door. "You know how to get in contact with me, you've done it often enough." His eyes softened on her for just an instant as he beheld her – the weeping little creature – now upon the floor. "If you have a change of heart, mine awaits you at the embassy."
"Do not expect it there."
"I never did. I only prayed for it, such foolish prayers they seem now." He hardened again, spitting on the floor. "The ball tonight, Marguerite, that's the service of friendship I call upon you now. Tonight – and all our debts are paid, my sweet."
He left after that and Marguerite found herself utterly alone once more. The candlelight on the wall mocked her, the shadow cast upon the floor next to her was harsh and seemed too noisy to her taste, even as a silent shadow. The whole world circled in too close and out too wide and she was very much alone.
"What am I to do?" she whispered to the wind, and as of yet there was no answer.
But she'd renewed a love even as she lost one – by that promise, there soon would be.