Fireside Dreams
By: Manna



xOx…

The Microfic/Drabble Meme!
Christmas Edition!
Requested By:
Kasia.T (FFN)
Prompt: Making love by the fireplace.
Spice: N/A
Pairing/Characters: André, Oscar
Fandom: Rose of Versailles



xOx…

March 1789

Oscar had, many months before, realized that she was in love with the one person who had been there with her every step of the way. But somehow, pride—or was it her own insecurities?—kept her from saying anything to him.

She hadn't had a change of heart.

She wasn't seeing him in a new light for the first time in her life.

No, things were still the same.

He was still André, and she was still Oscar. The world still revolved from night to day in the same way it had since the world began. A man still needed a heartbeat to continue living. The shadow always fell behind the light.

That was how things had always been, and, she supposed, how they would always be.

She sighed a little bit and dropped her military jacked onto her bed. The days seemed to get longer even though time flowed just as it always had, and she was, as usual, a bit fatigued. The French Guard Company B had the following day off, and most of them left as soon as they heard the news, eager to see their families.

She didn't blame them. She had been relieved to hear about it, even though under most circumstances she would not mind working. No, she needed this break; everyone was tired and she had a feeling that before too long, they would not get a single break.

The thought of working endlessly, for months on end without any kind of break at all…it worried her. But if that was what happened, it was what would happen. What could she do about it? Really, the best thing anybody could do was to enjoy what little time off they had while they still had it.

With another small sigh, she pulled back the curtain that covered her bedroom window, and looked out over the rain-soaked grass. Spring, again, she thought to herself. Another new beginning for the earth. It was nice to see the fresh shoots of green peeking out from the dull brown soil, ready for another year of life, another chance.

It was good to know that second chances did happen, that even in nature, they existed.

So where was her second chance? The curtain fell back into place as her chilled fingers let it go, and she wondered if she even deserved another chance. At happiness? At…at what? She didn't even know. Sometimes she would sit in her office in the barracks, and she would play scenes in her head of days that had passed by long ago. What if she had said this instead of that? What if she had chosen the left fork in the road instead of the right? What if, what if, what if?

She wasn't someone who easily regretted a serious decision once made. Even though it had been horribly embarrassing, and had broken her heart, she did not regret dancing with Fersen on that day that seemed so long gone that it might as well have been a dream. No, the only thing she regretted about that was the fact that it had hurt someone. No, several someone's. Fersen had felt guilty for not noticing she cared about him sooner. Her heart had been broken. And in turn, André had suffered as well.

But she couldn't regret her decision to put on that dress for one dance. To most people, it would have seemed insignificant, but it had meant a lot to her. She had gotten an answer…even though it was not the one she had been hoping to hear. And because of that, she had been able to put Fersen behind her.

But André…

How many things had he done for her? How many of her footsteps had he followed in? Hadn't he sacrificed his eye for her? His entire life?

And he was still hurting.

Guilt gnawed at her insides, and she retreated further into her room, away from the last remains of daylight. How was it that God saw fit to give her something—no, someone—as steadfast as André? She certainly didn't deserve it. She never had.

When had she done anything to deserve him, his constant presence, his never-ending support?

She took a seat on a small chair near her bed and stared blankly at the fireplace. No flames danced in the hearth. It was just like her, she thought.

She didn't deserve him at all! And yet… Yet…he was there. He had always been there.

Oscar wanted to curl in on herself in that chair. She remembered how, as a child, she would do that often. Curl up with a good book, curl up under the blankets, curl up to…to hide.

But that was so long ago, and she couldn't hide anymore. She had hidden for so long that she wasn't sure if she could manage to let anybody actually see her.

Her. For who she was. For what she had been from the very beginning, though most people didn't even want to know. She was to her father what her father wanted her to be. She was to Marie Antoinette what Marie Antoinette wanted her to be. But to André… Well, she was herself.

Was that why had had been there with her for so long? Why he stayed by her side, even when she tried to let him have his own life? No… Surely not. But…he had. And somewhere deep down, she wanted to believe that he was still there despite all of her flaws because he still cared about her.

She curled up a little more in her chair, but she didn't really have the energy to do much except draw her legs to her chest. She let her forehead rest on her knees and turned her head slightly to the side as a chill swept through the room.

Now… Now she could really use one of those second chances. But even if she had one, what would she do with it? She felt a little bit of fatigue settle in the longer she sat there, and before she knew it, her eyes started to droop. She wasn't really that tired, she tried to tell herself. She was only a bit cold, and the thin material of her shirt didn't help things. Neither did standing outside all day.

A knock on her door startled her out of her thoughts. Not her bedroom door, she had to remind herself…the foyer door.

She took a deep breath, "Come in!"

It would be embarrassing if anybody was to find out that she had been curled into herself like a child hiding from a punishment, so she pushed her feet back onto the floor, her boots thudding against the carpet lightly as they landed.

There was no answer. It could only be one person.

There was only one person who was afraid to come into her apartments.

One person who had a reason to want to avoid them.

Two people who had bad memories attached to the last time he had been in her rooms.

She got to her feet and headed for the door. "Just a moment!"

If she remembered correctly, he had brought her…was it tea? Hot chocolate? No, it was definitely tea… She had been so foolish that day. She hadn't even thought… The words had come out of her mouth, and she had meant them, but…

She didn't know anymore. She didn't need André to attend to her, and she had wanted away from the Royal Guards. But she had not thought that André…that…

She would have never guessed that André's entire life was…was her. Oscar François de Jarjayes.

It wasn't that she didn't want him. No, she enjoyed his company, and she cared about him more than she could ever put into mere words. But it wasn't fair to him, she thought, that he was an adult and felt obligated to stay with her. He deserved the freedom to live his own life, didn't he? She was choosing to change hers, and so she had assumed that he might wish to change his, too.

And Fersen… How had he played into things? Nothing was the Swedish count's fault, of course. It was all entirely on her shoulders… There was jealousy there, and she had not seen it until it was too late.

His unspoken words had haunted her dreams for months, and sometimes, she still heard them.

"You're heartbroken over Fersen, but… What about me? What about me? I've been here this entire time!"

He had been. Oh, God, he had been! She had been looking at Fersen while André had been looking at her.

For twenty years, he had been looking at her. And she had never noticed.

Or perhaps she had. Maybe she was only afraid to find out what she saw in his eyes, over and over again. Because who could love someone like her? Who could love Oscar François, a woman who wore clothing made for a man? Who could love the woman and the man, both? The male military commander with the stubborn temper, and the woman with the sensitive heart that she kept protected behind years' worth the walls and barriers?

No, no…she was most definitely a woman, she reminded herself as she opened the door to her rooms to see André standing there. But she acted like no other women that she knew.

"Ah…" André was at a loss for words. It…it was Oscar, after all. She always set his heart to fluttering.

"Did you need something?" She smiled at him slightly. He looked a little confused, a little lost.

"I…yes." He swallowed. He really needed to get over his fear of her rooms…of her in her rooms. Of…of what had happened the last time he had been inside. "I thought I'd make sure that you didn't need anything before I retired for the evening."

Oscar could see the uncertainty in his eye. In the one that he could still see out of. In the one that…she had not taken from him with her bullheaded stupidity… "I'm f—" She changed her mind. There was something that he could do for her. "Could you light a fire in my room?"

He was torn. He would do anything she wanted him to, but…but wasn't that too much? What if he lost control of his senses again? What if he hurt her again? Did she know how he felt about her rooms? That, to him, they might as well be resting on sacred ground?

She knew. But he had to know something… He had to know that she knew him. She knew André. Even though she hadn't expected him to…to love her so unconditionally, she did know that he would never intentionally hurt her. His fear of her quarters was unnecessary. But…he looked scared, uncertain. As if he didn't trust himself. "I trust you, André," she murmured, and allowed herself to touch his arm just slightly.

He jumped at the contact, not expecting it at all. Well, one of the few things that he could do right was light a fire. At least he could see the flames. He wondered why sometimes that was all he seemed to be able to see. No, in the dim lighting of the corridor, he could see the outline of her face, and her long hair… "Okay," he agreed, and hesitantly, he stepped into her foyer.

Her heart thudded painfully against her chest as she watched him go ahead of her. What a magnificent man, she thought. He would try and conquer his own fears for her sake. But if that were the case, then… Then shouldn't she try to conquer hers for him?

He had done so much for her.

How many times as a child had he talked her out of doing something that sounded like fun, but would inevitably end in her being punished severely? How many times had he been her friend, her confidant, her…her everything! And in return…

She was so ashamed.

André tried to control his nerves as he got a fire started in her fireplace. Her room was dark, but he managed to get a small blaze going. When the flames climbed high, he turned slightly to see Oscar looking at him. He didn't know what to do, or what to say, but he couldn't look away from her. Maybe that was his biggest weakness.

She made herself offer him a small smile though she felt anything but happy. He tried to smile back; she could see his feeble effort in the light from the fire he had started. She found her feet moving closer to the fire, found herself crouching down in front of it, letting the heat wash over her. It felt nice, she thought as her hands hovered a mere inch from the grate.

André put his hand out. It was wrong of him, he knew it was. Guilt, as heavy and thick as cold gravy, settled in the pit of his stomach when his fingertips brushed hers, pushing her hands away from the fire. He had promised that he would never touch her again… He had promised, and yet… She was almost like an addiction. He couldn't help himself. And—he almost flushed at his silliness—what if she hurt herself? No, he couldn't allow that, not at all.

He began to pull his hand away with a barely audible apology.

"It's okay," she said, and her fingertips brushed against his, holding them, keeping him from taking his hand back.

Was this…her second chance? Or maybe even her only chance? But what could she say? What could she do?

Millions of thoughts ran through her head, but she didn't know if she should act on any of them. What if she made a fool of herself? What if she only ended up hurting him like she had so many times before?

André was confused, to say the least. Why was she holding his hand? What was going on? She appeared to be thinking, but she was looking right at him. "What is it, Oscar?" he found himself asking. His voice was quiet, gentle…but it snapped her out of her thoughts, and she rewarded him with another smile.

She took his hand in both of hers, her touch light, and held his palm to the curve of her cheek.

He was startled, but tried not to draw back. Her skin was cool. Oscar was acting decidedly strange, he thought, but maybe she had had one too many glasses of wine to drink?

"André," she began, and pretended not to notice the way he flinched under her gaze just the slightest bit at the sound of his name. "Do you still love me?"

She worried. She worried that what she had said was too bold, too forward. What if he had changed his mind? What if…what if his feelings, his heart, had changed? What if she… Oh, she didn't know. But her chest ached so much that she didn't know what to do or say, and it took everything in her to keep her eyes locked onto his. Onto the one eye that he was still lucky enough to have.

"One eye isn't too much to sacrifice for you, Oscar."

But it was, oh…oh, it was. It was.

He looked away first, and she felt her heart sink.

What could he say to that? Wasn't he still with her, as he had always been? Had he left her side for a single instant, from the moment she had thrown that sword into his arms and asked—no, demanded—that he fence with her when they had been little kids? "You know the answer to that," he finally said, and he realized that his voice was trembling just the slightest bit.

She noticed. How could she not? When he first came to the de Jarjayes estate, she had seen a little boy whose heart had been broken. He loved his grandmother, but he missed his parents, and he couldn't hide that fact. Not from her.

When had his love turned into something that needed to be hidden? But that slight tremor, that shift in his usually low pitch…it gave her the answer she was looking for. And unlike her dance with Fersen, it was the answer she had hoped to find.

"How long?" she asked before she could stop the words from tumbling from her lips.

How long indeed, he thought to himself, almost in shock. Here he was, in Oscar's room. He…he still loved her, but the anger, the jealousy that had been there the time before? It was gone. It didn't exist.

So, how long had he loved her? Could he even say? Many years, almost… "An eternity," he murmured, looking back at her. She looked calm, almost content. He didn't know what to do.

"An eternity…" she echoed, blinking once, slowly. "But André… Why? And…and when? And…how?" She blinked again and lowered his hand, but refused to let go, even as she looked down at his calloused fingers, touching them with her own. He was warm, but her fingers were chilly, so unlike the fire that blazed just in front of them both.

"Why?" he said, forcing himself not to pull her hands to his lips to kiss them. No, she was…was opening up to him? Perhaps… He could not afford to scare her. "Why, Oscar? I… Why not?" He leaned forward slightly and touched her jaw with the tip of just one finger. "Did you think, Oscar, that… dressed like that, in those clothes…" He trailed off and swallowed, trying to rein in his courage. "That a warm-blooded man would not love you, would not fall in love with you?"

She only trembled slightly under his touch. What could she say to that? "Y-Yes," she finally answered truthfully, managing to look back at him again. It was hard to hold his gaze… Hard, because she could feel tears gathering in her eyes, and she wanted to hide them from him.

"Oscar," he said gently, his fingertip skimming across her cheek, "you were wrong."

Wrong? Yes, she had been wrong. Terribly wrong! But how could she have known? "I know that, now," she whispered.

"Clothes do not define who a person is, nor what they may become." He smiled lightly, and allowed another fingertip to join the first. "Oscar, when you wore that dress…for Fersen…"

It was her turn to flinch, and she couldn't even hide it. Suddenly, she wanted to apologize to him for hurting him so badly without meaning to.

"It's okay," he shushed, worried for a moment that she might think he would turn into the…the man that was very unlike him. The man that had seen fear and shock written on her face as he had shouted his love to her over and over again. No, he would never become that man again. Ever…

"It's not," she insisted, and she only barely managed to hold her tears at bay. "André…"

"Remember how you stood there, feeling awkward and unsure of yourself for…the first time in many years with all of that fabric, and that corset wrapped around you so tight you could scarcely breathe? When you wore that dress, Oscar, I thought that you were beautiful, and I even told you so… Do you remember your response? You said… "You think so?" and with everything in me, I wanted to tell you that the dress had nothing to do with it. I wanted to tell you that…if Fersen did not see the beauty, the feminine curves, the heart that beat under your uniform, then he had no right to hold you in his arms. Oscar, I…" He stopped for a moment and took a deep breath before letting it out, though steeling his nerves did nothing to prevent tears from slowly working their way down his face. "I saw all of that, before you put the uniform on for the first time. But even when you started to wear it every day, when you started to retreat into yourself more and more, when you tried to hide from everyone… I could still see it."

She let him finish before she spoke, "Were you looking for it?"

He smiled as he felt her tears run through his fingers. "No," he said. "But I knew it was there. I saw it in everything you did."

With a quiet, almost unnoticeable sob, she fell forward onto her knees and wrapped her arms around him. "I'm sorry, André," she muttered, over and over again. "I'm sorry. I was such a fool."

"No… No, you weren't. You didn't even know." Reluctantly, he let one of his hands rest against the middle of her back. His other took a lock of her hair and rubbed it between his fingers. Soon, he thought…he would not be able to see her.

"Maybe I should have." Her voice was muffled by the material of his shirt.

"But then what would you have done?" he asked lightly, his heart feeling better than it had in a long, long time. Oscar was…she was in his arms. His arms. He was only her servant, her one-eyed servant, and yet…yet she held him like he was someone dear to her, like she had when they were younger and…and before things had gotten complicated. "I wouldn't have wanted you to change who you are for anything…"

"But, twenty years," she said softly, pulling back to look at his face. "Twenty…years."

He leaned forward onto his knees, and tilted his head just slightly until his nose touched hers. She didn't flinch. She wasn't afraid. He felt his heart leap in his chest before it began to thud against his ribcage. His eyes didn't work well, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with his heart. "You know what they say, Oscar…? Forever is only a blink in time when you are with the one that you love."

She laughed a little bit and wiped at her face with the sleeve of her shirt. "I never meant to hurt you, you know. Please tell me that you knew that."

"I did."

His smile was sad, but oh-so beautiful, she thought. She tried to smile back.

"I think it only made me love you more."

She held him tightly, then. As tight as she could. "I wish you had said something earlier…"

"I didn't think you were ready to hear it."

His words, while true, sliced through them both, and even the fire in the room couldn't keep them from shivering just the smallest bit. When he had finally admitted his love to her, it had not been at the right time, either.

She decided not to mention it. She had forgiven him for his actions on that same evening, after all, and she had no intention of bringing it up again. "You would be surprised," she said after a time, settling her chin over his shoulder. "There were some days that I would have loved to hear it."

It was true. She wondered if there were enough stars in the sky to add up to the amount of times she had felt lonely. But would she have been able to accept André's love as it was, then? She didn't know, and she would never know. Those days were long gone. She had pushed him to the edge, but he had not fallen completely. Somehow, he had pulled himself up, and he stood taller and was stronger than ever.

And still…still he loved her. The notion was so overwhelming, she didn't know what to do, only what to say.

"André… I…" She swallowed. "I need to tell you something, but…but first I must know…"

"What is it, Oscar?" He was patient, ever so patient, and he knew that he had to be. Hadn't he always known that? Wasn't that the entire reason he hadn't leaned down over her and kissed her senseless after she had demanded that they would have to take her life before his when he had been blamed for Marie Antoinette's horse bolting? Wasn't that why he preferred to follow behind her, walking in each of her footsteps? Yes, yes it was.

She was still protecting her heart. If it broke…it would shatter within its confined space, behind the barrier, but…but she had to ask, she had to, before putting it out there. "Will you love me, only me…for—"

"Oscar…" he said.

And in that instant, her heart was laid out for him, only him. For the rest of their lives.

He took it, gently, wrapping his arms around her and holding her to him as one might hold something they were afraid of breaking. "Must I say it a thousand times? Or even a million times? Oscar, my answer will never change… I decided long ago to remain by your side until death separates us."

So much like a marriage vow, she thought as she tried to pull away from him. Reluctantly, he let her go, and she felt horrible, but he had to…he had to see her eyes, her face. He had to know that she was sincere. "I love you, André…" Tears ran down her cheeks as the loneliness started to ebb away from her heart. "Please believe that I mean that…"

He smiled and stroked the sides of her face with his hands. Her tears didn't bother him. No, she was finally showing herself to him, all of her! Inside, he was rejoicing for the first time in many, many years. "I believe you, Oscar." And then, with a terrible start, he realized something. She wasn't the only one who had been hiding… He had been, too.

Slowly, he lowered his head and she didn't shrink away from him as his lips lightly grazed against hers. Chaste. An innocent kiss. Her heart was fluttering in her chest like a butterfly's wings. She didn't know anything. Didn't even know how to kiss back, and before she could get the courage to try, he had pulled away, his thumb running over her left cheekbone. She felt disappointment wash through her, but…but he was still there, she reminded herself.

"Oscar, I have something I need to tell you…"

He sounded upset. Torn, even. As if what he was about to say could tear the two of them apart again.

Indeed, he was feeling that way. How did one tell the person they loved more than anything that they would be going blind? That, within a few months, they would be of no use at all? He sighed. Honestly, he felt like crying. She wouldn't reject him, would she?

His thumbs stopped moving against her cool skin. "I'm losing my eyesight, Oscar."

She was startled, and she hoped that he could not tell. No, no…it was not so much of a shock, was it? She had seen the far-off look in his eyes when he descended the stairs. She had seen him reach for something on the ground several times before he had grasped it. She had seen him trip, had seen him stumble… She had known, but she didn't want to believe it. Who wanted to believe that their best—only—friend, and the person that they had finally opened their heart to…was going to live the remainder of their life in a world of darkness, of shadows?

"Oh, André…" she murmured, her own hands going to his face, to his eyes, burying themselves under the long, silky locks of slightly curly hair to run over the scar that had taken vision from his left eye.

"I'm sorry, Oscar," he said, closing his eyes as the tips of her fingers touched his eyelids, and touched the torn skin that ran down part of the left side of his face. He let his hair grow long on that side to hide it. Nobody wanted to see the white scar, the proof that he would never again see from that eye… So he hid it. From his grandmother, lest she cry every time she saw the eye that could not see her, from the general, lest he be considered useless and dismissed from Oscar's side, and from Oscar, lest she be forced to think about it every single day.

He knew she blamed herself.

"It's not your fault," she insisted, wanting to kiss his eyes. She wondered if it might make them better, but she knew that it would not. "It's all because I—"

His hand on the back of her head stopped her. "Oscar. I never blamed you."

She couldn't help herself. Suddenly, it didn't matter if she didn't know what she was doing. It didn't matter if he thought she was acting crazy. She had to do it.

She leaned closer to him, letting her mouth join her hands. She trailed her lips over the scar above his left eye, over the scar beneath his left eye. She kissed it over and over again, her eyelashes fluttering against his own, against his hair, against the bridge of his nose as she gently touched and kissed his slowly failing eye.

"André," she murmured, brushing his hair back from his dead eye, brushing all of it straight back out of his face, "don't hide this from me, please." She let her cheek rest against his right one, as her thumb ran itself over his scar one last time. Her fingertips were trembling, but she almost didn't notice. "I always did love your eyes," she said. "And I still do. Both of them."

He chuckled and opened both of his eyes when her hand went to his neck. "Anything for you," he answered, and pulled back slightly, turning his head to catch her lips with his.

He succeeded, and shyly, she kissed him back. Or tried to. She could only hope that she was doing it right.

When he bothered to pull away at all, it was only to allow the two of them to take in a few deep breaths before he pressed his lips against hers again.

Over and over again, his mouth met hers, but it was never enough. His arms pulled her close to him, pressing her body, every curve, against him. He had wondered millions of times over the years what she might feel like in the circle of his embrace, but… Something in the back of his mind had reminded him constantly that he would never know.

Now he did.

She was thin, as she always had been, but he had never thought that he would be able to feel every notch in her spine. He felt her hipbone press into him, her chest…

Strands of her long hair tickled his collarbone.

When, she wondered, had he gotten so much bigger than her? Probably ages ago, she reasoned as he eagerly pressed his lips against hers again. Back…back when they were still children, most likely. Suddenly, she felt his teeth nibble gently at her lower lip, and, startled, she opened her mouth slightly. What would she say? She didn't know, but before she could say anything at all, his tongue touched hers.

It was a light caress, but it darted away before she could do anything in return. She wasn't sure, but if she had to guess…he was playing with her! Smiling a little against his lips, she followed his example and teased his lower lip with her teeth. He opened his mouth immediately, which she had anticipated, and her tongue crept in to rub against his for a single moment before she pulled away.

Or rather, she tried to.

He chuckled in the back of his throat, the sound muffled by her mouth pressing against his, as he retaliated and wrapped his tongue around hers. She seemed to surrender it to him, letting him enjoy his prize for the time being. His hands worked their way into her hair, relieved and happy and excited to have the freedom to do so.

"Oscar," he said, gently pulling away from her only to trail kisses down from the corner of her mouth to her jaw. "I do love you, more than I can even say." With that, he teasingly bit her earlobe and then twisted his head to kiss the sensitive skin just behind her ear.

She gasped lightly at the sensation of his warm lips pressing against her skin. It was all so strange and new…but definitely not something she could say she didn't like. She clung to him almost desperately, her hands in his hair, her fingernails scraping lightly against his scalp. "I know you do," she murmured, and gasped again when his lips found her throat.

She had to retaliate, she thought, but…but how? She was so inexperienced, and she had never… Well, even though she worked as a man, she did not partake in the other men's discussions pertaining to sex!

She almost wished she had. Then, maybe she would know something.

Her cheeks heated in shy embarrassment as her fingers fumbled with the buttons of his shirt. They were still a little cold and seemed to refuse to work properly.

He laughed gently and took her hands in his, kissing her fingertips before he started to unbutton his own shirt.

Flustered, she stammered, "Y-You don't have to if you don't want to!"

He only smiled at her as the last button came undone and leaned forward, making her tip backward onto her back, her legs spreading out rather haphazardly. "For you, Oscar," he murmured as his lips claimed hers. "I'll do anything."

She sighed lightly against him, and he pulled away again to kiss her collarbone, and then down, down…

He stopped when the V-neck of her shirt did, and he came back to her lips as her fingers started to explore his chest. She had not seen him without a shirt on since they were mere children. When had he changed so much, and how in Heaven's name had she missed it?

Suddenly, at the back of her mind, she remembered her own shirt, and how his lips had stopped; it was all so disappointing! She stroked the underside of his tongue with her own and drew back, pulling her face away from his as her thumbs brushed over his nipples. He almost choked and blinked at her; it was her turn to chuckle. "You can take if off, too," she found herself telling him, knowing that if she tried her hands would shake too badly.

She was nervous. Well, more than nervous. But she wasn't scared. No, Oscar was afraid of nothing, now! Certainly not of André.

He almost melted at her words, and he nuzzled her cheek lightly with his nose, gasping again as she ran her fingernails over his nipples. She certainly was devious, wasn't she? He took her hands in his own and drew them away from him as she tried to protest softly. "Are you sure, Oscar?" he murmured, giving her a chaste kiss. "Are you absolutely sure?"

She was frustrated. Yes, she was sure! "I never say anything I don't mean, André," she said quietly, and he could see in her eyes that she wanted to continue. "Now let me have my hands back."

She poked her tongue out at him and he rushed to capture it, his lips crashing into hers only a moment too late. She chuckled against him and let her hands continue wandering across his chest and abdomen as she saw fit. Soon… Soon, he would be able to do the same.

Gently, and as slowly as he could, he unbuttoned her shirt. When the last button was undone, the material fell away from her, and he found himself rendered completely speechless.

At thirty-three years old, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever been privileged enough to lay eyes on. Nothing, he thought—absolutely nothing—could compare to what he saw. She was on the floor in front of him, half beneath him. Her hair was spread out across the floor, and the flames from the fireplace made it look like burnished gold. Her eyes were shining, dark in the dim room, but alight with a fire all their own. Her nose was slender, the small bump right in the middle there, as it always had been, but the flush that ran across her cheeks, it was different. Her lips were swollen slightly, red from his kisses. She was looking at him nervously, expectantly.

"Oh, Oscar," he said quietly, his voice barely audible. Nothing on earth was as beautiful as she, and he doubted even an angel could compare. His right hand reached out to touch her, and settled on the curve of her waist. His other stroked her face. Tears spilled from his eyes and landed on her slender neck, her thin shoulders, her small, perfect breasts.

He felt that if he touched her any more, he would ruin the splendor that was before him.

She smiled hesitantly. "I love you, André," she told him, and she took his other hand, kissing the back of it before she placed it, palm-down, over her heart. He could feel her fast heartbeat under his fingers, his palm, and he looked at her again.

She stroked the side of his face gently, and that was her okay.

She stifled a sharp breath when his hands moved to cover her breasts. Nobody had ever touched them before… It was all so new! In a way, it was a challenge, and Oscar loved challenges. Her hands tugged his shirt off of his arms, even though it meant he had to take his attention—and his hands—away from her for a short moment. But then she wriggled out of her own shirt, so they were both even.

His skin was warm and surprisingly smooth; she let her fingertips trail down his sides, and then tickle across his ribs, but before she could do anything more, she felt his lips press a kiss right in the middle of her chest, and then one right over her heart; it ached at his touch.

He really needed to stop, he told himself, because he was almost to the point of no return. How many years had he waited for this? But he didn't want to stop, and Oscar did not seem displeased. His calloused hand cupped the underside of her left breast, stroking the smooth skin almost as if he was in a daze.

He snapped out of it quickly enough, and without much more thought, only the knowledge that her hands had stopped wandering and were clutching his shoulders in his head. His lips claimed the rounded tip of her nipple, feeling it stiffen as he ran his tongue over it lightly.

She moaned quietly in his arms, under his touch, and he took pride in that fact. Never in a million years had he thought that he would be the man to bring out such a reaction from her. Happily, he did the same for her other breast, and rubbed them softly with his hands as he found her mouth again.

The sensation of her moaning into his slightly parted lips was one that he could not—and didn't care to—explain. He was at that point, he thought as his body hardened to the point of discomfort, where he had to say something.

After a few moments, when he pulled away for air, he leaned on both elbows and just looked at her, taking in her flushed cheeks and blue eyes. His heart felt heavy to know that some day, he would be unable to see them again. "Oscar," he said as he twisted some of her hair around one of his fingers. "We should stop…"

He didn't want to stop, but… But he was right. They should! He was ready, he felt the desire for her keenly, but… If he went too far… What if…what if she got pregnant? Oh, she would be shamed by her family, by—by everyone!

She didn't want him to stop. She was a woman, and now…even in breeches and military boots, she felt like more of a woman than she had wearing a dress while she danced with Fersen!

"No…" she whispered. "No, we shouldn't…" She swallowed and tried to slow her breathing, but to no avail. "I know what I want, but… I-I don't know what I'm doing…" she blushed.

"I know," he murmured, "I don't either, to be honest."

"You…" she said in disbelief. "But…why?"

"I've loved you for so long," he answered. "I could not look at another woman. Nobody could compare to you in my eyes. Did you think that I would ever settle for less?" He smiled slightly.

"André, tomorrow… Tomorrow I'll go and ask Lady Antoinette to get His Majesty to grant a marriage permit for us. But tonight…can't we enjoy it?"

Marriage? To…to Oscar! It was unthinkable! It was…was…it was an amazing thought, almost like a fairytale.

"But what about…" he started, but she held a finger to his lips.

"André… I am an adult woman." She paused before continuing, "I can choose my own life. Let them—anyone—say whatever they will." She smiled and trembled lightly when his hand brushed against his throat. "André…they know nothing about us."

"Oscar," he breathed.

"Now," she said, giving him a wobbly smile. "Where were we? I think we can figure this out together…"

Eagerly, he complied.

xOx…

The morning sun had not yet risen, but Oscar was awake. Her hands kept stroking André's hair, and she wrapped the blanket they had taken from her bed around the two of them just a little tighter because the fire was dying down, and soon the room would get a little colder.

But no, not much colder. She silently laid her head on her lover's chest and sighed gently as she gazed into what remained of the blaze in the fireplace.

At first, when she had awoken, she thought that maybe it had all been some kind of a dream, but then she felt André's warmth beside her, and she knew.

He was no dream, not of the false kind. No, he was very real, just like her, but he was a dream in the sense that he was so amazing and perfect for her that he seemed like he ought to be a dream. He was within her reach, though, and she held onto his hand, kissing the back of it gently as she turned to watch him sleep in the last bits of light the fire gave off.

Soon, he would be her husband.

But for now, he was her André, her second chance, her fireside dream.


xOx…

Author Notes:

No joke, this took almost twelve hours on and off to write. I kept getting distracted by Livejournal. Anyway, I have managed to finish it, and I really like how it turned out. I'm sorry I didn't go further, but I doubt my skills in being able to write it eloquently.

I tried to make the story more about Oscar than André, but it seemed mostly balanced in the end, though I tried to focus more on Oscar's body than his. After all, with his eyesight quickly leaving him, he won't be able to visually see it for much longer!

At any rate, I hope you enjoyed it! Some quick notes before you go! "Fireside Dreams" was a screen name I used in the past. I'm glad I got to use it for something! The minute Kasia gave me this request, I knew what the title would be. This was an alternate "love" scene. First of all, since it happens in March, Oscar's tuberculosis has not shown itself yet. She has it, most likely, but it's symptoms are not showing up. I based this off of a mix of the anime and manga "Incident" scenes, also, if you couldn't tell. In the manga, Fersen's name sets André into motion to declare his love, but in the anime, it's Oscar's casual dismisal of him to do as he pleases. I included all kinds of symbolism for you, so if you spotted any, you were supposed to!

Thank you for reading! I would love feedback on this one!