A/N: A little oneshot inspired by a classic pickup line that might have fit quite nicely with the witticisms used by Sir Percy and Lady BLakeney in the novel.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Baroness Orczy, but she neglected to give them much attention between their adventures in France, leaving wondering minds to fill in the gaps in fanfics.
An early dusting of snow had fallen on the grounds of Blakeney Manor heralding the approach of winter while the bitter wind that swirled the flakes through the bare tree branches made the evening dreary so that the country road that passed in front of the estate was devoid of travelers making their way to London. Indeed, the inhabitants of the manor had come to the conclusion that the remainder of the day could only be passed comfortably before the hearth. As a result of this theory, the windows of the various buildings reflected the cheery fireplaces inside and contrasted with the dismal weather outside. But even the hearty blaze in the master's study could not prevent the lady of the house from retiring early that night, hoping that in the morning sun would thaw the late autumn chill and make the next day more tolerable. The baronet, however, remained in his great arm chair, seeking relief from the cold in his books.
It seemed that he had found his reprieve from the storm outside for by the time the watch in his waistcoat pocket showed half past twelve, Sir Percy Blakeney was sound asleep. He remained in the chair before the study hearth, but now his book lay abandoned on his chest and he had attempted to position his unwieldy body in a manner more comfortable for dozing. One long leg was draped across the arm of the chair and the other was extended awkwardly in front of him, where he had presumably been warming its bootless toes before the fire. The rest of his frame, he had contorted to fit in the corner formed by the arm and back of the chair. However, at six odd feet, milor's long body had never fit comfortably in chairs. But, in spite of his reclined posture and the snores beginning to rattle in his throat, Percy had not been asleep long when a cry echoed through the halls of the great house and disturbed his slumber.
Had Percy's valet or any other member of the household staff been in the study when the wailing began, they would have been treated to a comical sight, for as soon as his wife's cries reached his ever perceptive ears, Percy jerked open his heavy eyelids, dropped his long-forgotten book, and attempted to spring from his chair, knocking the piece of furniture over in his haste.
Once he had regained his footing, she called out again, this time more urgently, and Percy rushed into the apartments that he now shared with Marguerite. The distance from the study's hearth to the adjoining door was short, but it gave his creative mind, accustomed to designing prison breaks and whisking condemned aristos out of France, ample time to create all sorts of horrible scenarios before he could enter their bedroom. In fact, milor was quite prepared to fight off French Republicans or run for the surgeon. But instead of being beset by ruffians or illness, he found his wife, tossing and turning, tangled in the bedding, crying out in her dreams.
"No…no…not Percy!" She moaned, as he observed her from the doorway.
He had not expected to find her asleep. Unsure what to do, he approached the bed slowly and perched cautiously on the edge, hoping she would awake. After several minutes of quietly observing, he concluded that she was not going to wake up and reached out to tentatively touch his wife's shoulder in an effort to still her thrashings.
"I'm here, Margot. You are safe now." He said softly, hoping that his presence would reassure her.
Immediately she began to flail against him, perhaps perceiving him to be an attacker. Crying out again, she struck at him. It was Percy's reflexes that prevented Marguerite striking him when he nimbly caught her wrist and pulled her into an embrace. But, instead of soothing her, the restrictive grip only made his wife more frantic.
"Chauvelin, no! Let me go!" She managed to choke out between her sobs. "Let me go to him! Please! Let me go to him!"
Again, Percy shook her shoulders gently, this time imploring her in a firm tone, "Wake up, Margot. You are only dreaming! Marguerite! "
At the sound of her name, Marguerite's eyes fluttered open. Once certain that she was alright, Percy began to whisper soothing words in her ear to reassure her that what ever had terrified her was only a dream. But his efforts were not necessary, for as Marguerite had not been fully awakened, she was quickly sleeping again. Gently, he laid her back down before reclining beside her and allowing her soft breaths to soothe him.
Sensing his presence beside her, Marguerite nestled against his side, pillowing her head on his chest. Smiling when she moved closer to him, Percy wrapped a protective arm around her and began to drift off himself. However, his perpetually heavy eyelids had barely shut when Marguerite began to giggle against his neck. Percy jerked his shoulder to wake her and end the dream that was interrupting his sleep, only to be surprised when she swatted his arm in response.
"Lud, Sir Percy! Must you drive so fast?" She exclaimed, clutching his arm, still giggling. "I was sure that you wouldn't be able to make that last turn!"
With a groan Percy began to shake her shoulders, urging her to wake up. But with each jolt, she laughed and clutched his arm tighter.
"Marguerite!" He exclaimed, giving her a final exasperated shake. Despite his efforts, she would not wake up and so Percy had to settle for rolling her to her side of the bed. With a sigh, he moved to the opposite side and exhausted, sunk into a deep sleep.
Percy was soon dreaming himself. In his dream, he was climbing to the top of Temple Prison in Paris, using the window frames and sills as footholds. Prisoners, wishing to be saved, snatched at his heels in an effort to catch his attention. Blakeney was doing his best to keep hold of the smooth stone ledges, but then one of the prisoners caught his leg and he was falling. Percy woke with a start and found that his wife had been tracing his ankle with her foot and was now caressing his calf with her toes. In usual circumstances, he would have found this paired with the way she was murmuring in his ear pleasant, but tonight he had had enough interruptions. Exasperated, he broke free from her embraces and returned to the arm chair in his study in hopes of getting some sleep before morning.
As the morning sun peeked through the curtains of the bedroom, Marguerite Blakeney woke to find her husband absent from her side. Drawing in a sharp breath, her mind was immediately inundated with a horrible memory. Percy, restrained with so many chains that it was astonishing that he even had the mobility to walk, was marched up the steps to the guillotine. From her position, crushed amongst the crowd that had gathered to witness the historic execution of the Scarlet Pimpernel, she could see that even at the foot of the guillotine that he had not resigned himself to the desperateness of the situation. His lips were pressed into an unyielding line and, although shackled, his hands were clenched into resolute fists. Unlike some of those who were to die alongside him, he did not lean against the guards or allow himself to be dragged. Instead he retained his confident posture and stride, not allowing his shoulders to slump in a manner typical to the condemned. However, it was his blue eyes that roamed over the crowd in search of any sign that might prove that he had not yet run out of luck that betrayed his growing anxiety. As she watched, the eyes flicked around the square more frantically with each fall of the blade and she abandoned her resolution to not let him see her and began to battle her way through the crowd in attempt to reach him. Perhaps he would interpret her presence as a signal from the League to have faith and be comforted. Just as she thought that she was close enough that he might see her and know that she was with him if she cried out, a hand clapped over her mouth and another grabbed her arm and hauled her back.
"I won't have your shouting ruining my trap again!" Chauvelin hissed into her ear.
In vain, she struggled against him, but the officer of the Republic tightened his grip on her arm and warned her to be still. Helplessly, she had watched the blade of the guillotine fall on the neck of the brave man.
She surely would have begun to weep for the husband she believed to be dead had a snore not come from the direction of Sir Percy's study to announce that milor was still among the living. Instantly her agonizing grief was replaced with annoyance. It had all been a dream. Sir Percy had not perished on the guillotine anymore than he had tormented her with his reckless driving or spent the night in her arms. He had fallen asleep in his study and forgotten to come to bed.
Her scowl persisted as her maid came to help her prepare for the day. Her expression softened as they exchanged pleasantries and made small talk, but it was enough to feed the household gossip that milor and milady were squabbling again. Although Lady Blakeney realized that the footmen whispered of it as she made her way down to the breakfast, she could not help pursing her lips when she saw that Sir Percy was not at his place, perusing the newspaper, incidentally providing the confirmation that the servants sought.
Marguerite had already been served tea when her husband traipsed into the breakfast room. His eyelids, normally weighed down by boredom, drooped with exhaustion and his usually prefect appearance was disrupted by his hastily tied cravat. Stifling a yawn, he slumped into the chair opposite his wife and signaled for his own cup of tea.
As they waited for the hot beverage that would revive his humanity, Marguerite cleared her throat. The annoyance had been building up all morning and she could no longer wait to deliver her carefully prepared jab. With an even voice disguising her both her irritation and eminent triumph, she commented, "You seem rather tired this morning, Sir Percy."
The man in question looked up, gave a little sniff of laughter and quipped to wife, "Well, m'dear heart, 'tis hard to get any rest when one spends the entire night running through your dreams."
Although stifling a chuckle at the response, the lady had the good nature to blush scarlet as her husband enjoyed his wit and his tea.