Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, and shan't unless, by some stroke of luck, Baroness Orczy's estate decides to give me the rights to her stories. However, they have not, yet, and so, alas, I don't own the characters. I pilfered one line froma Shakespeare play. A cyber cookie to whoever correctly guesses which line it is and which play. Please do not sue- I don't mean to infringe on copyrights in a nefarious manner.
A/N: I have smatterings of French hither and thither. "Bon matin, mon amour," is "good morning, my love", "Non" is "no", "Je sais, mon coeur" is "I know, my heart" (as in an endearment, not the body part), "Dieu" iseither "God" or "Goodness" depending on yourtranslation, "Je t'aime" is "I love you", "Je t'aime aussi" is "I love you too", and "S'il vous plait" is "if you please", or simply "please". : ) Enjoy!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the hardest time to wake up in the morning is when one does not wish to, especially if it was early.
Sir Percival Blakeney, baronet, and one of the richest men in Great Britian normally did not have such a problem. As a matter of habit, he woke early, and usually had some cause or another to propel him through his day and to his appointed destination. That, however, was before he had discovered his wife loved him.
The more modern readers may scoff, however, to Sir Percival, or Sir Percy, this was a novelty. For the first year of his marriage to the beautiful Marguerite St Just, he had been under the impression that she found him as interesting and lovable as mud, and that there was no way for him to be treated in any other way than as dirt. Though their marital situation was not uncommon (ask Madame le Comtesse de Brumiere, or any nobleman or woman with familial obligations- the Prince of Wales being no exception) there was an interesting twist.
Sir Percy was madly in love with his wife. Besides that, he was the Scarlet Pimpernel, a hero who resuced the doomed prisoners of Madame Guillotine, which complicated the matter immensely, as Marguerite Blakeney, as she was now called, was an avowed republican and had once betrayed a noble family to the guillotine.
Further investigation proved that Lady Blakeney had only wished for them to be arrested, had no idea they would be executed, and, on her wedding day, was calling in favors from every friend in Paris she possessed in order to reverse the terrible order for the death of the St. Cyr family.
And now, Sir Percy had the comfortable ability to lie in bed next to the woman he loved, in a quiet cottage in Dover (once more, something he'd never thought he'd be able to share with his wife- he was quite fond of the quiet and of the solitude afforded to him by the cottage, but had not thought his wife could bear his company long enough to peacefully coexist in such limited society). It waswonderful to Sir Percy, whowas still getting accustomed to the novelty of being loved by someone, and to the unguarded trust there was in simply being able to lienext to the woman he loved.It would drive a man to poetry, especially with the sunrise, which cast a gilded halo about Marguerite's figure.
Of course, he had another family to rescue, and he was late. If he didn't leave, there would be disastrous consequences to all the parties involved. Yet, with a single, unthinking glance at the figure beside him, he found himself unable to move.
'What's the phrase? I have more care to stay than will to go,' Sir Percy mused, unable to tear himself from his wife's side.
She stirred gently, and propped herself up on an arm. Sleepily, she smiled at him. "Bon matin, mon amour."
It was very difficult to resist. Sir Percy kissed her on the forehead. "Marguerite."
Marguerite smiled playfully at him. "You missed, darling." She turned her face up, so that her hair caught the sun's rays. She was very proud of her hair- a shade of auburn more red- gold than brown, and it the moment, a delightful red- gold that made it appear as if a halo surrounded her head. "I shan't argue should you wish for another chance."
"Zounds, m'dear, how shall I resist?"
"You don't have to." Words were made unnecessary for several minutes until the cloak chimed the hour.
With severe reluctance, Sir Percy broke their kiss, and sat up. "Lud, m'dear, but I'm to France in an hour."
Marguerite sighed and pushed herself into a seated position. Her nightgown slipped off her shoulder, revealing an expanse of alabaster skin.
Even the most reserved and proper of English gentlemen could not resist the temptation of staring at the exposed shoulder, and the lovely woman it belonged to.
"It's St. Valentine's, Percy… must you leave?"
Sir Percy managed to pull himself out of bed, and began searching the ground for the clothes he'd discarded the night before. "I'm afraid so, m'dear."
"When shall you be back?"
Percy pulled a rumpled shirt over his head. "A fortnight."
"A fortnight, Percy?" The melodious sound of her voice was strained with something akin to exasperation. "At least put a clean shirt on, darling. I had Frank and Louise pack a truck of clothes for you."
"Non, you wore it yesterday."
"Ah. Many thanks m'dear. The League would ostracize me for a week if I showed up in dirty linen."
He unlatched the trunk at the foot of the bed and pulled out a neatly folded stack of clothes. "Good bless Frank- he's a frighteningly efficient fellow."
"Je sais, mon coeur." There were sounds of her getting out of bed, muffled by the shirts Percy was offing and donning.
Once Percy had managed to put on his trousers and stockings, Marguerite wrapped her arms about his shoulders and leaned her head against his. "Dieu… don't leave yet Percy. It's not morning, yet."
He kissed her hair. "What's outside the window, then, Margot?"
"The moon." She kissed his cheek, and he could feel the softness of her lips there moments afterwards. "Come, Percy stay yet a while longer."
To this, Percy responded with a cheerful, "As m'dear lady commands." Marguerite drew back in surprise, allowing Percy to sweep her up in his arms and stride to the window seat, where he sat- never once letting go of his lovely captive.
Marguerite laughed in surprise and nestled her head against his neck. "Je t'aime."
"Je t'aime aussi." He kissed the palm of her hand, and then the ticklish spot on her neck.
"Not fair, Percy!" she cried, laughing.
"Neither is this, m'dear." He began tickling her mercilessly, stopping only when she managed to pause him with a wonderfully passionate kiss. Entertainment of this sort distracted them both for a great deal of time.
The clock chimed the half- hour, and Marguerite leaned her forehead against Percy's. "I wish you didn't have to leave."
"I do too, m'dear."
"Don't go then, darling. It is St. Valentine's, after all… a day for lovers, and wives and husbands." Percy kissed her gently, arms wrapped around her. Marguerite wrapped her arms about his neck, as if trying to hold him there.
Percy broke the kiss and buried his face in her hair. He loved Marguerite's hair. It was almost unbelievably soft, like silk, and smelled lightly of roses. It fell in waves down her back, and was gloriously tangled in the sunlight.
"Must you be off, darling?" She spoke in a whisper, her voice tremulous.
"Needs must, m'dear." They drew apart, and Percy placed a hand under her chin. He was startled to see tears in her eyes. "Don't cry for me Margot… I'm not worth it."
"Of course you are," Marguerite murmured with a little sniff. "You're my husband."
He dried her tears with the edge of his sleeve, and she leaned against his chest. Percy was content to hold her in his arms and stroke her hair. He glanced at the trunk and saw a package wrapped in brown paper sitting on a pile of shirts. 'God bless Frank… he saw to it that it was delivered and packed. It should be perfect too… the man's an absolute perfectionist. But at least his cravat is neatly tied, and he insures mine is. Demmed shame, to see an improperly tied cravat. I shall regret having to gaze on m. Chauvelin's once more… it is positively painful to behold."
"One moment, Margot." He disentangled himself from his wife's embrace and moved toward the trunk, where he picked up the package and a vest. He returned shortly, and Marguerite, curled up on the seat like a cat, leaned against him once more. The smell of roses from her hair distracted him and he momentarily forgot what he was doing.
"What's in the package, mon coeur?" she asked, with an attempt at her normal cheerfulness and winsome charm.
"A Valentine's gift for thee." He handed it to her, and Marguerite shifted her weight so the she sat on his lap. He wrapped his arms about her waist, and she opened the package with a small gasp. "Oh, Percy…."
It really was a lovely gift: a necklace with a pearl pendant in the shape of a marguerite daisy on a slender silver chain… perfectly polished, as Percy noted with some amusement. God bless Frank… the most frighteningly organized and efficient valet Sir Percy had ever met.
"It's lovely, darling…."
"I meant to give it to you at Christmas, but I wasn't satisfied with the pendant."
Marguerite smiled. "I can believe that, darling… it took you a month to propose, as I recall, simply because you kept sending the ring back to the jeweler's because you were not satisfied with it."
That same ring sparkled on her finger in the sunlight of the early morning. "You don't mind too terribly, do you?"
"Not at all… it's prettier a ring than I've seen on any other woman's hand."
Percy took the necklace from her and offered to put it on her.
"S'il vous plait," she murmured softly. She lifted the rich curtain of her hair off her neck, and Percy clasped the necklace around her neck, his hands lingering there longer then completely necessary.
With a trace of her usual merriment, Marguerite glanced up at him and gaily replied, "La, sir! You shall spoil me! Shall I see how it looks?"
"By all means." Percy began buttoning up his vest, with a slight smile.
She padded across the now well- lit bedroom, and examined herself in the mirror above her dressing table. Then, rather spontaneously, she pulled a pair of scissors, used for snipping off the ends of thread in needlework, from a basket laying off to the side, and cut off a lock of her hair.
Percy, surprised by this sudden gesture, stood uncertainly. Marguerite smiled at him, and calmly pulled a red ribbon off the table. She tied the ribbon around the lock of hair. She walked to him and pressed the lock in his hand, the tears in her eyes making her blue eyes nearly purple. "Happy St. Valentine's, Percy."
Percy kissed her on the forehead. "And to you, m'dear."
Let us draw a curtain across this scene, and leave this couple to their privacy. We shall mention, however, thatLady Blaleney was spotted wearing a necklace, lovely in its simplicity, that set a fashion trend in motion,that Sir Percy was two hours late getting aboard his yacht, the DayDreamand that, whilst Sir Andrew Ffoulkes was attempting to compose a sonnet to his own wife, the pretty Suzanne Ffoulkes, and Lord Tony Dewhurst laughing at the former's attempts, Sir Percy was uncharacteristically quiet, and his hand was buried in his vest pocket.