Disclaimer: Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is copyright Mahiro Maeda, GONZO / Media Factory, GDH, Geneon, and Funimation. No infringement or disrespect of owners of existing copyrights in Gankutsuou or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, noncommercial amateur fan fiction.

Description: Franz watches as The Count and Albert rehearse.

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Etheloisa

by Silverr


(In the Greek, the sex of Sappho's beloved is indicated by only one word,
the feminine participle "etheloisa", "wishing/wanting/willing")

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"I have a gift for you, but before you accept it, I should warn you that I hope to use it to seduce you." The Count's voice had just a hint of laughter.

Albert and Franz – one blushing, the other scowling – watched as the Count's servants Bertuccio and Baptistin carried a ornate wooden trunk into the room.

"Don't look so frightened, my young friends," the Count purred. "As you know, I have agreed to host a gala here in two days. I was at a loss for how to entertain my guests – for are you all not the cream of Luna society? – when Fortune smiled on me. A dealer who knows of my interest in rare historical artifacts was able to acquire some items for me during the relocation of Père-Lachaise Cemetery from the ruins of Old Paris to Iapetus."

The Count made a motion. Bertuccio opened the trunk, and he and Baptistin lifted out two antique garments.

"Of course the objects have been subjected to molecular stabilization and restored, but the provenance document verifies that, over four thousand years ago, these belonged to Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d'Argenteuil. I thought it might be amusing to reenact the story of their love, if you are willing to help me do so."

"You want Albert to dress as a girl?" Franz asked, frowning. "How ridiculous! And I suppose that you will play Abélard?"

The Count smiled. "My dear young d'Epinay, you may take the part of the ardent scholar who steals Héloïse's maidenhead, if you wish."

"Me? No!" Franz laughed nervously under Albert's puzzled stare. "That's – no, I am no good at public performance." He rubbed the back of his neck, then gulped at his goblet of wine.

"I see." The Count lifted a long-nailed blue hand to his mouth, as if concealing a smile. "Well, Albert may decide for himself if he wishes to participate in the tableaux. In either case the artifacts are his to keep."

"That – that's much too generous," Albert stammered. He was staring at the tabletop, unable to meet either Franz or the Count's eyes.

"Ask Eugénie do it," Franz said suddenly. "She's a girl. She'll fit the dress better." He cupped his hands in front of his chest.

"Eugénie?"

"My fiancée," Albert said. "Eugénie Danglars. But she's not really into theatrics."

"Yes, as a concert pianist she must hate performing in public," Franz muttered.

"Are we not all thespians to some extent?" the Count asked, pouring more wine for the two young men. "Whether or not we are aware of the script, or how the plot will unfold, we all play parts. And as was done in the ancient theatre of the Dionysia, we all wear whatever mask is suitable for the role."

Albert, entranced, said, "I'll do it."

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Franz offered to help Albert get dressed. "You look sort of cute, now that you have a bosom," he said, adjusting the two small pink pillows that he'd tucked down the front of Héloïse-Albert's low cut dark blue gown. He gave the pillows a playful squeeze. "Maybe I should have played Abélard after all."

"Franz! stop joking around!" Albert squirmed. "Ugh, this old thing is so uncomfortable! The seams are scratching me and making me itchy."

Baptistin brought Albert a length of dark brown silk and two jeweled combs. "For your hair, m'lady," he snickered.

Albert snatched them with a growl.

"Are you almost ready?" the Count called from the shadows across the ballroom.

"Yes!" Albert said, then hissed, "Franz, fix my hair!"

Grinning, Franz draped the filmy veil across the top of Albert's head, then affixed it with the combs. When he was finished, he stepped back to check his work; as he did his face softened, became serious. "You are transformed, Albert," he murmured, and made a deep, courtly bow.

"Oh … thank you, Franz," Albert said, not sure what to make of this change in his friend's demeanor.

"Your chair, m'lady," Baptistin called out as he placed a large footstool in the center of a well-lit, slightly raised platform at one end of the ballroom.

Albert lifted the heavy skirt of his gown and hurried to sit. "So what shall I do?"

"Here. Hold this." Bertuccio handed him a necklace, a loop of fine chain strung with groups of small black beads separated by larger beads. A short piece of chain attached to the loop held 5 beads and a strange T-shaped metal pendant on which a naked man writhed in agony. "Move your fingers slowly from bead to bead, as if you are praying," Bertuccio said.

"Praying?" Albert asked, but he was alone on the stage. He looked down at the necklace in his lap, rubbing the beads as Bertuccio had instructed.

"Ah, your renown does not do you justice," He heard the Count say, and looked up.

The Count's long hair had been twisted up under a skufia. His – Abélard's – monastic robe was made of a rough-woven brown wool, belted with rope. He bowed deeply. "I have heard many speak of Héloïse's piety, her purity, her scholarly mind," he said as he walked slowly in a circle around and then behind Albert. "But they say nothing of your beauty."

These last words were whispered, and Albert shivered as the Count's breath brushed his ear. "You are," Albert twisted the necklace in his hands, "too kind, M'sieur."

Icy fingers touched the side of his neck, slid over his throat, dipped inside his dress, cupped tingling skin. "Kindness? Is kindness what you desire?"

Albert twisted to look up into the Count's face. "Desire? I – I am too young to know what I desire," he said, though his flushed skin and quick breathing belied his words.

When the Count smiled, his teeth were white and sharp. He bent down, his lips ghosting over Albert's temple, his brow, his mouth.

"Stop!" Franz cried. He stood on the stage, flanked by Bertuccio and Baptistin.

The Count pulled away from Albert, throwing his arm across his eyes dramatically. "Canon Fulbert! Are you here to castrate me for despoiling the one you promised to protect?"

Franz pulled a dagger from his sleeve and ran towards the Count in a fury. Knocking him to the floor, he stabbed in a rage until Bertuccio and Baptistin pulled him away. His hands were covered in blue-violet ichor.

Albert ran to the Count's side, gaping in disbelief. "What have you done?" he shouted at Franz. "How could you? How could you do this to me?"

The Count lifted a hand and touched Albert's cheek tenderly. "I can no longer see you, Héloïse my love. Keep my heart; it is all I have left to give you." His arm fell heavily; his eyes closed; his head rolled to the side.

"No, NO!" Albert sobbed as a stunned Franz ran from the room and the lights in the ballroom went out.

"So," the Count asked after a few moments had gone by, "do you think they will find that entertaining?"

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~ The end ~

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Written for Kink Bingo round 3, card 1, kink 1,4: historical roleplay

AN: Source of quote: www. stoa diotima/ anthology/ vandiver. shtml discussing the Hymn to Aphrodite.

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(02) 16 June 2010