A/N: So, this is my first foray into the world of The Scarlet Pimpernel, though I've been reading the books for forever. Any and all feedback is appreciated so that I can improve my writing. This fic takes place after the events of "The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel." Enjoy and please review!!
She had finally fallen into a light slumber, a feat for which Sir Percy Blakeney would be eternally grateful to the higher powers. He had always thought of Marguerite—his Margot—as elegant and dainty, something that she took immense pride in. She was not like the other women of her day who fainted at the drop of a hat and spoke of the weather when they could think of nothing else to say—which was quite often. Instead, she was a strong, free-thinking woman who was well-versed in the fine art of conversation. And on rare occasion—though those occasions seemed to be occurring with more and more frequency, much to Percy's dismay—that caused Marguerite Blakeney a great deal of inconvenience that was coming to border on trouble.
But this past occasion had far exceeded bordering on trouble. This time his Margot—his strong, vibrant, beautiful Margot—had been kidnapped and held in the dank depths of prison, the last place that a woman of her standing should be. She had been taken from their home—the one place he had promised her would always be secure—and taken to a cold prison in France in order to serve as bait in a trap, all for the purpose of capturing him. His bit of covert sporting, as they had secretly dubbed it, had once again interfered not only with his life, but with that of his wife.
He should have been able to prevent her abduction. He kept running over all the possibilities in his mind—the things he could have done, should have done—berating himself for allowing it to happen. The dark bruises that now marred her otherwise flawless face were a startling reminder of just what was at stake. Chauvelin had struck her. The man who had formerly loved her had somehow found it within himself to strike the most lovely of creatures—an act that convinced Percy that he was truly a man beyond reason.
Marguerite's bruises were a mass of black, blue and purple under her eyes and on her cheeks. She no longer had any fever, but she still looked tragic, something that would bother her to no end when she awoke. Percy found himself torn between tending his wife and staying in bed with her. Despite his many attempts, he had been unable to get her to sleep until he had slipped into bed beside her and taken her into his arms. It was only in his comforting embrace that she had finally been able to find sleep. He hated to leave and wake her once more when she had just gotten to sleep. Instead, he pulled her closer to him and tried to join her in slumber.
But slumber would not come. Instead, he studied his wife's face, haunted by the idea of what she had gone through. She had not told him, and there was the chance that she never would, what had transpired, and his imagination was making things far worse for him. Every torture ever devised by man was running through his mind, forming images of his Margot being subjected to them. He shivered and pulled her closer.
"Percy?" Marguerite asked, her voice timid and unsure, not at all like the one had had grown so accustomed to.
"Yes, darling?" he answered, running his fingers through her tousled hair. She smiled tiredly at his touch, as though she recognized it as his own. She turned to face him, as though assuring herself that it was indeed her husband who held her.
"You're holding me so tightly," she whispered, burying her face in his chest. It was not a complaint—rather, she quite liked it—and he knew it. Still, he loosened his hold for fear of hurting her.
He smiled gently. "I'm sorry. Is this better?"
She did not answer, but instead continued to hide her face in his chest. Ever so gently, as if she were made of the finest porcelain, he cupped her face in his large hands, forcing her to look at him. Even as he did thus, she still hesitated to meet his gaze.
"Margot? Are you alright? Should I fetch the doctor?" he asked.
"No!" she cried, her reaction more violent than he had anticipated. She drew a deep, calming breath and continued in a less dramatic fashion. "No, I've no need of a doctor."
"Are you certain? Your face—"
"I'm quite sure. I do not…no one else need see my face." Her voice had a downtrodden tone to it, so different from the violent response she had had earlier. It was also different from the Margot that he had come to know and very deeply love.
Then the answer to the question that he had not yet known to ask occurred to him. It was not that she was in need of a doctor, but rather she was in need of her husband. She was ashamed of the marks on her face, and he knew that he best thing he could do was remind her of what they truly signified.
"Margot…you know that your bruises…they are no fault of yours," he said comfortingly. She shook her head.
"They're marks of my weakness. If I were stronger, I would never have been kidnapped in the first place."
"No. No, these are marks of your strength," he whispered, kissing the particularly ugly bruise beneath her left eye. "If you were weak, there would have been no need to harm you. But you were strong, and you would not betray me. If anything, these are marks of my weakness. I should have been able to protect you—"
"No. You were away, saving lives. You could never have known…" She stopped for a moment, making the realization of just how ridiculous they were being. They were arguing over whose fault her battered face truly was, and if they had not been so distracted by their own guilt, they both would have realized that it was no one's fault but the man who struck her—Chauvelin.
"You did not hit me, Percy. These are the fault of the man who did." He nodded and kissed her other cheek, another bruise, followed by another and another. Each light kiss sent thrills down her spine. Finally, he stopped and pulled her against him once more.
"You should sleep."
She shook her head. "I do not…I am afraid that I will go to sleep and wake up in that place again. I cannot—"
"No, you are safe now. Safe with me. I'll not let anything happen to you," he said, kissing the top her head. "Do you believe me?" She smiled—a radiant beautiful smile—and nodded.
"Good. Now, go to sleep. I promise I'll not let anything happen to you."
"I love you," she whispered, desperate to get the words in before she fell asleep. He kissed her temple lightly.
"I love you, too."