He saw her for the first time at the Comedie Francaise.

He'd gone with Tony, because it was exactly the sort of thing rich young British aristocrats with nothing in their heads but fun and fancy did in France. Lord knew it was nice sometimes to ignore the more--hm--serious aspects of his mind that he went to such great lengths to hide, to do nothing more than go to a play and show off a new suit of clothes. He'd had a particularly nice one that day, he remembered; all in blue with pink accents. Tony had laughed at him, but he rather thought that the pink made all the blue so much more blue, and it brought out his eyes so very well. It was all exquisitely tailored, of course, down to the pink silk stockings; Sir Percy Blakeney would put up with nothing less.

It had been a lovely evening, really. The play was foolish, but entertaining nonetheless, the actresses and chorus girls pretty in a distant sort of way, and no one was dressed better than he was, in his not-so-humble opinion. And then...

It was offstage, after the show. Tony was off lurking about the stage door in hopes of getting a kiss from a chorus girl. He was lurking about the reception in hopes of getting some decent wine, much more successfully, when a burst of applause drew his attention to the door, where Marguerite St. Just had entered on her brother's arm.

Percy did not remember seeing her on stage. Perhaps he'd been talking to Tony at the time. He felt vaguely guilty about that, but no one went to the theatre to watch the play, they went to watch each other. Besides, it was rather a good thing he hadn't seen her in the theatre, because if he had, everyone would have seen him gaping like a country cousin in Paris for the first time.

She was beautiful, of course, one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen, with auburn hair the color of autumn leaves and fine blue eyes. Her face and figure perfectly matched the fashion of the times; her deep blue velvet dress was just as elegantly tailored as his own suit. In fact, their clothes rather harmonized, both in color and excellence of cut.

Percy was not so stunned that he couldn't file that little fact away, the better to win the argument with Tony.

Her laugh, sweet and clear and almost childlike, rang out across the noise of the reception, and Percy found himself moving towards her, almost in a trance. She was enchanting. Her eyes bewitched him, her presence entranced him, her wit (when he got close enough to actually hear her) fascinated him. And the smile she bestowed on him when he introduced himself and bent to kiss her hand--

"I'm going to marry her," he announced to Tony in the carriage back to their hotel, and spent the rest of the night with a foolish grin on his face.


He saw her for the first time the night after their wedding.

He'd loved her, he believed, since the moment he saw her; Tony had said at the wedding that his behavior certainly bore that out. And she had loved... he believed she had loved him. Not at first, but after a while, yes, he thought she had loved him.

Obviously he'd been wrong.

To think that he hadn't wanted to leave the house today.

Well. It was a good thing that he had, wasn't it? If he had stayed inside he might never have heard the truth, might never have heard the fate of the Marquis de St. Cyr, might never have known who had sent him to the guillotine. He might never have known who Marguerite really was... might have been happy...

Oh, all right. Percy could not imagine in what reality this heartbreak was a good thing. Certainly not his.

She'd told him herself, a little--but he had cut her off, told her that he already knew. He couldn't bear to hear it again, from her... and anyway it hadn't mattered. He'd had to sit there and watch as her face slowly froze, as she backed slowly away from him, as those great blue eyes had shuttered themselves.

She hadn't even bothered to explain. That hurt the most. She hadn't even tried.

Enough, then. He'd been a fool--well, that was hardly out of character for him; no one would notice. A fool he would remain, to her as well as everyone else, the useless fop with no interest in anything but the cut of a suit and the dash of a carriage. Marguerite could go on in blissful ignorance. He would be distant but kind, the same silly ass she knew; but no longer her slave. Never her slave.

Demned if he didn't still love her. But she needn't know that. And he would no longer be her slave.


He saw her for the first time on a beach in France.

He'd thought himself so clever, fooling Chevaulin and his men. It would probably earn him a beating, but he'd had worse, and it would mean two lives saved. Three if you counted his. Then he could go fetch poor Marguerite from the Chat Gris, set all this to rights. His pride was not worth her.

But then Chevaulin dragged her out from behind a rock, gagged, with her hair all wild and her face white as paper, and everything went topsy-turvy.

For several frantic moments he could think of nothing else except that she was there. What the deuce did she think she was doing, following around behind them? She was supposed to stay at the inn. Ffoulkes was supposed to bring her safely to the Day Dream. She was supposed to be away from any danger whatsoever by this time.

Her eyes were so wide...

Andrew Ffoulkes, Percy thought grimly, was a dead man. He had but hours to live.

Chevaulin thrust her down, and whispered in her ear for a good few minutes before he ungagged her and slipped away. Marguerite looked absolutely wild, shaking and terrified, and if he could have held her then... but he had to keep to the plan, it was the only chance of saving them all.

He sang, Marguerite screamed, chaos unfolded on the dark cliff's edge, and if Chevaulin had done to Marguerite what he so had clearly wanted to do, Percy would have thrown all caution to the wind and thrashed the bounder. But as it was, it was only his shoulders that felt the lash, and Marguerite was pushed down beside him, to lie in silent misery while the Frenchmen marched away.

The moon had dipped behind a cloud again, and Percy could see nothing in the darkness. He could only hear Marguerite's breathing, unsteady but constant. His poor Margot--what she must be feeling! But he had to give the Frenchies time to get well away on their goose chase before he could reassure her.

Soon, though... soon he could tell her everything that had happened, that her brother was safe, that two minutes after Chevaulin had arrived, his quarry had escaped, and no one but her was in any danger of worse than a thrashing. Then, back to the Day Dream. No matter how busy Chevaulin was keeping elsewhere, Percy would not feel entirely easy until he had his little wife safely out of France. Then... then...

He had not expected this sudden rush of happiness. When she had stood on the garden stairs, her chin lifted so proudly but her eyes so vulnerable, he had nearly come undone. But it was not until Ffoulkes had told him that she was in France that he had really understood her. So brave, so fiercely determined--Percy was rather surprised that Chevaulin had kept her under control for so long, really. It had been, what, nearly half an hour between that fierce whispering and her scream?

Well, Chevaulin would never threaten her or her brother again. Percy had seen to that personally.

Marguerite. He looked over to her slim form, a dark still shape against the yet darker ground, and felt a foolish grin spread across his face. He was so very proud of her, his Margot, and so very, very much in love.


He saw her for the first time.