"Why should I?!" I finally burst and sobbed. I stayed firmly in place, wanting him to erupt as I had. I felt the pressing, almost agonizing need to drive him to his limits. Hello, Marquis. I could almost feel him standing next to me, so close that I could feel his breath on my neck.

"If you don't go-." He began to blanch. My own façade shattered like so many shards of glass as Donatien reached through the open door and locked his fingers into a fist around my hair. I squealed in shock as he dragged me away and watched Coulmier scramble to the other side of the room and nestle himself in a corner.

*If the blood of anyone must be shed, then let it be mine!*

He had once said it in Madeline's defense. I hung there at the whipping post, like linen on the line to dry. Every snap of the whip, every shiver that coursed through me, every excruciating split in my skin and droplet of blood running down my back had its very own meaning. The wind began to blow, a cold wind that only made the pain succulently brutal.

Donatien wore a smile that testified to the entire court that he was "getting off" (so to speak) on injuring me so. I suppose everyone has a little bit of the Marquis inside. My face was turned away from the crowd, all for the better, I'd say.

Not a soul would have understood the smile creeping onto my face, anyway. yet in his window stood Coulmier, watching me with that same sick little smirk.

It stung no more, in fact something below my waist began to tell me I liked it, and in order to earn more I turned and spat in Donatien's face. He growled a low, vicious growl and drew back his hand, letting it fall forward, cracking the leather whip against the already bloody flesh at my back.

Then I did it. I felt almost every muscle in my body pulsate; a naughty blush crept into my already scarlet cheeks. I licked my lips and smiled; looking up toward Coulmier's window... he had gone.

"Poor little thing. Afraid that I'll not need him anymore. I'll surely find use for him."

Coulmier sat in his empty chambers, sat and thought of me as every crack of the whip resounded throughout the commons.

"Have you had enough?" Dr. Royer-Collard asked angrily. He tore the whip from Donatien's hands and threw it to the ground. "Go and unbind her... NOW!"

I began to pout, understanding that the doctor was ruining my fun. No matter, considering he only had my best interest in mind. I realized then that I had been drained, not only was I unaware of the severity of the blood loss, but I had no idea of what sort of anguish I would be in come morning...

"Tell me, Nöelle, what is it you were being beaten for?" The Doctor had found it convenient to invoke conversation as he mended my wounds. I wanted to lie. I wanted to tell him that it was all Charlotte's doing, but I had to take credit where credit was due.

"I disregarded your advice and went to visit Coulmier." I maintained a confident sort of tone as I explained.

"Hardly cause for such a beating. Is that all that provoked this?"

"I went to Madeline's tomb. All I wanted was to speak to her, I understand that, being a man of science, that you wouldn't believe she could hear, but I had to speak to Madeline, and Charlotte saw me there at the tomb."

"Go on." He said, seemingly interested.

"She pulled me to the side as I was working and began to desecrate Madeline's good name. Dr. Royer-Collard, she was kind, generous, brave, trustworthy, hardly the kind to be a chambermaid as I am. She loved the Marquis because he taught her something new and exciting." "I banned what he was doing because it was ultimately the cause of her death, had she been obedient, she might have lived."

"That woman had absolutely no respect for the deceased, and I became very irate. As a matter of fact, I hit her."

"What did she say to make you hurt her so?"

Those words. That kiss. I jumped from the table and covered up with my shawl.

"Dr. Royer-Collard, Coulmier deserves the chance to be heard. When, upon your orders, he had the Marquis' tongue cut out, he had already begun losing his grip. It is as though the Marquis has possessed him. If he isn't heard soon, and the Marquis has his way, history just may repeat itself."