Author's Note:

Yes, another vintage piece from 2001, I believe. For this fiction, the lovely ThreeOranges (that's her profile name) graciously allowed me to use her fabulous OFC, Ginevra, a haughty aristocrat ensnared in an affair with Claude Frollo.

This has always been one of my most favourites of my HoND stories. The writing is the strongest and the story is good, plus I love some of the character exploration.

Nonetheless, it is, as all the others are, still very flawed.

Les Fleurs du Mal

Avec ses vêtements ondoyants et nacrés,

Même quand elle marche on croirait qu'elle danse,

Comme ces longs serpents que les jongleurs sacrés

Au bout de leurs bâtons agitent en cadence.

Comme le sable morne et l'azur des déserts,

Insensibles tous deux à l'humaine souffrance,

Comme les longs réseaux de la houle des mers,

Elle se développe avec indifférence.

Ses yeux polis sont faits de minéraux charmants,

Et dans cette nature étrange et symbolique

Où l'ange inviolé se mêle au sphinx antique,

Où tout n'est qu'or, acier, lumière et diamants,

Resplendit à jamais, comme un astre inutile,

La froide majesté de la femme stérile.

Charles Baudelaire, 'Les Fleurs du Mal"

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With clothes undulant, like pearls,

Even when she walks one thinks she dances,

Like those long snakes that sacred jugglers

At the end of their baton, stir in agitated cadence,

Like the dismal sand and the blue deserts,

Insensible as both are to human suffering,

Like the long nets that over sea swells skirt,

She unwraps herself, indifferently sloughing.

Her polished eyes have the charm of minerals,

And in her strange nature full of symbols,

Where the inviolate angel mingles with the ancient sphinx of sand,

Where all is not gold, steel, light and diamonds,

Her resplendence, like a useless star, blackens

The icy majesty of the sterile woman.

The title of this story "Les Fleurs du Mal" is taken from the masterwork of the French poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), a series of poems exploring such themes as drug addiction, Satanism, homosexuality, murder, rape, the curious and perverse states of the human mind, the damnation of the soul, the desperation to be found in the lowest hovels of the streets. All these themes, considered shocking in his day, and many considered so today, are expressed in a great beauty of language; reading these works spurs a splendid tremor in my heart, I find myself devouring the words and feasting upon the imagery they conjure up before my eyes, then hungrily moving on to the next poem, eager to discover what will unfold before me...

. I chose the title for this story because it so very well fits my two heroines, Herlikin and Ginevra. Two attractive women, despite their radically different lives, beliefs, and cultures, determined to stake out an independence of some nature in a world dominated by men. Determined to maintain a control, to be beautiful, to be enthralling and powerful.

Determination can lead to ugly acts.

Beneath the surface of the beauty and femineity they both possess, there is a savage intensity which can turn them both to viciousness that can make of them dangerous enemies. These women want to get their way and their whim, and they do not appreciate interference in pursuit of their goals. As Baudelaire shows us in the melody of his words, there can be a splendid beauty and pleasure in violence and perversity, in the brutal intensity of a mind set upon its determination. Hence, The Flowers of Sickness and Evil.

I have Aranxta to thank for introducing me to these poems which I find myself reading again and again, and I strongly urge any of you who have not done so to READ THESE POEMS. They're worth it.

I have also to thank Aranxta for schooling me in the nature of Ginevra de Vincennes and her young page, the deceptive Rossignol. She gave me the essential skeletons to build them up from and much food for thought as I moulded them up in words. Not only that, but she gave me the initial conception for the plot and brainstormed with me on several issues. Thank you Ara, you're an absolute treasure and a wonderful inspiration as well.

I only hope I have done both Ginevra and Rossignol as well as my own Herlikin, and especially the title "Les Fleurs du Mal" the justicethey deserve!