I Did it All for Love
A.N.: Oh my God! I'm updating, it's a sign of the apocalypse! Seriously, sorry for the…what, a year? The year of lag….I'll try and remedy that. As for the spelling of "vicomte." I cave, you guys win. No sense in arguing irrefutable evidence. I'm a reasonable person. However, I am too lazy to go back to the other chapters and change it…..
"Good morning, Christine."
Raoul was carefully watering a small rose bush in the glowing light of dawn, the light pink blossoms giving off a sweet scent. He was not, of course, referring to the rose bush as his dead wife. That was merely a token of a memory – all those roses he'd given her after they'd married….. He was speaking to everyone and no one. To the woman he was sure was watching him. Always, always he got up at dawn, in rain or shine, to water the roses, to talk to the air. His wife was in Heaven, and Heaven was everywhere if only he could look hard enough.
Thinking she could hear him was his only solace.
"I won't be watering your rose bush for a little while. Claudette will be doing that, I am going to Paris." He turned his face to the horizon, closing his eyes against the glowing, melted coin of the sun. "Oh, I know, I hate Paris. But Angelique does like going, and it's been so long since she's seen her cousins." A breath of wind pushed at a golden lock of his hair, and he smiled, taking in a deep lungful. "Okay, you win. Yes, that Luc does worry me."
Setting his watering can down, he meandered past a small copse of his pear trees where he was given an uninhibited view of the distant ocean. "No, he is nothing like me. I was never so rambunctious, I-" He stopped, laughed. "I suppose we did climb everywhere and anywhere as children, didn't we? But….but look what I did to you….." His head sank into his ever waiting hands, shaking slightly. "I helped to kill you….." The breeze blew against his hot cheeks and he calmed himself somewhat. "No, I know you don't like it when I say that, but I can never stop the guilt." He changed the subject, watching the water again. "Angelique's thirteenth birthday is in a week, that's probably why soeur invited us. She pesters me about my daughter constantly. I don't think my raising of Angelique is so bad….Well, I suppose I do protect her a bit overly much, but….But how can she blame me? I just want her to be safe, to protect her….The way I could never protect you…."
He swallowed hard, trying desperately to get off that subject. He leaned one hand against the bark of the tree, watching the smooth curve of the fruit that hung there. "The things they do together are so dangerous! Fair enough that we did a lot of dangerous things I suppose….Your father never seemed to worry, God bless his soul…." Raoul de Changy slowly sank to the ground, shaking his head. "He never worried….He was a widower with a daughter, and he was alright….
"What am I doing wrong, Christine?"
Dominique had been Angelique's nurse as a child, and her position as hard task master as compared to her father's soft indulgence of the girl was as obvious as ever. The large, grey haired woman was inspecting all of Angelique's baggage religiously as the girl sat on the side, the picture of beautiful melancholy. "Did you remember to pack your parasol?" Dominique had run of the house, organizing the disorganized de Chagny life style with infinite grace and patience. The younger maids cowered in terror at what le Vicomte so good naturedly called, along with his twelve year old child, "Domina."
"Of course, Domina," Angelique now sighed, feeling very oppressed by the lady of the house.
"None of your cheekiness with me, Mademoiselle," the fifty plus year old woman reminded sternly. "Domina is alright in play, but you are growing up, and should be a serious child."
"I am never a serious child."
Dominique harrumphed at that, carefully examining the small, sunny yellow parasol. "Dieu, I certainly know that. Running here and there and everywhere. Everywhere with boys for goodness sake. Such a regular tomboy," she disapproved, clucking her tongue. "You are growing up," she repeated, vigilantly probing the other bags, "and should behave as a lady. Your mother, she acted as a lady, God bless her soul." Mentioning Mama was Dominique's card at getting Angelique to behave, but she was not of the mood to rise to the bait. Instead, the girl merely sighed, her chin resting on her hand.
"Your granddame, your aunt, all ladies of class."
"Of course, Domina."
"Child, you aren't listening to your Domina!" Angelique looked away from the spot of wall she'd been staring blankly at. No, she hadn't really been listening, and Dominique was in earnest. Sighing, the old woman briefly pet the golden haired head. "You are growing up, little child. Playing the boy's games is no longer appropriate. Playing at anything with boys shall not be appropriate until you are well grown up. God knows you worry your father enough with that Monsieur Blachville."
"Luc is a gentleman," Angelique insisted, sitting up. "And I think Papa is very terrible when he treats him the way he does. Poor Luc only-"
"Is the first in a long line of boys that will be knocking the poor Monsieur le Vicomte's door down." Dominique went back to her bustling, still clucking her tongue.
"It's not like that…." Angelique insisted in a quiet whisper, blushing.
"Your poor papa, having to let go his only child. No such comfort in his old age."
"What? Do we old gentlemen mean so little to our daughters to need such silly comforts?" Angelique looked up to see her smiling father standing at the door. Angelique was about to grin, for she adored her father, but stopped herself.
"I have not yet forgiven you," she stubbornly insisted, turning her delicate little nose in the air.
"No?" asked Monsieur de Chagny. "Ma amour, you're breaking my heart!" He then turned from the door, sighing heavily, stalking down the hall. Dominique gave Angelique a very pointed look, who was biting her lip. Finally, she flew from her chair, racing down the hall.
"Papa, Papa, wait! I didn't mean it! Don't be sad, Papa!"
Laughing, Raoul caught his little sprite in his arms, kissing the top of her little head. "Ah, ma belle, you are too good to me."
"I am too little," Angelique insisted more for her own benefit, "to leave my father all alone yet."
"Yes, far too young," he agreed, stroking back her hair. "And I shall not allow you to entertain such thoughts until you are…."
"Alright," he relented, setting her down. "Twenty. And not a day sooner. However," he added, "I had most certainly not catch that Monsieur Blachville of yours hanging around your windows at night." He puffed his chest out for emphasis, crushing any hope of Angelique's that he might be made to see all of Luc's good qualities. "Or you shall soon be one less suitor. I'd wish it you were a hundred less suitors, but there's a father's nightmare. Come along, cherie, the coach is waiting to take us to the train station."
Angelique soon found that she could not stay angry at her father for his unreasonable behavior. He actually did spoil her in many ways, and Angelique really did love Paris. She loved her aunt, she got along well enough with her cousins. She was sometimes told a few stories of her father's youth, of his childhood on the Brittany coast. And enough of the stories included Mama as to satisfy a few of her questions. Papa, however, did not like these stories, and they never told them if he was in the room. If they were caught in the middle, Angelique was sent out, and what she assumed was a harsh reprimand followed.
"You shelter her, Raoul! A growing girl needs access to society, not to be kept away in your sea brine little town."
"Heaven forbid," Raoul denied fiercely, "that I ever inflict society upon her. I find it causes for more problems than it could ever solve." Society had laughed at the love sick young Raoul de Changy, and society, she gathered, had created a rift between Papa and her uncle, Philippe. She'd never met this uncle, but Papa seemed to have many fond memories of him.
"Papa has many fond memories of many things," she reminded herself. "But he never tells me any of them."
She never could understand why. "Someday," he'd promise. "When you are old enough, I'll answer all of your questions. But not yet." And she thought she'd heard him whisper, "it's too horrible for me to begin to tell such a young child. Children shouldn't be inflicted with stories of angels who are really devils."
Angelique wondered how an angel could be a devil, but Papa never told her. Papa never really told her anything, especially if it had anything to do with Mama.
It hurt him far too much. He'd loved her more than life itself.
"Someday…." He'd promised. She was going to hold him to that, too.
To Be Continued….