An Necessary Affair
"My God." The gentleman moaned from his desk, lifting his freshly completed work only to find dozens more documents to be completed...read over...signed. Prosecutor Villefort was not a man who procrastinated nor was he of the dilatory sort, but even so, he was not a man who had the luxury of enjoying his work. Truthfully, he had never done anything he truly enjoyed from the time he was a boy, spending his time apprenticing for the newspaper while his friends courted the young ladies and attended various social gatherings.
His career had, at very least, thrilled him in his more youthful days in the courtroom. But it was mindnumbing now, almost depressing, going over declarations of crimes committed, questioning men brought up on charges, arguing cases, sending those same men off to imprisonment, away from their homes and families...possibly innocent men.
He enjoyed being unmatched in his skill, being acknowledged and praised for his practice by peers and strangers alike, but nothing more. That and the reputation his career bestowed on him were indeed all that kept him at it.
He exhaled heavily, pressing his temples with his thumb and middle finger. His workload had been even more stressful as of late, for whatever reason. He felt starved...so much so that it drove him to distraction. More than once that morning he had found himself fiddling with his nails or his pen...or simply admiring the patterns of his jacket. He looked down at it again, feeling the clothing between his fingers. It baffled him how anyone could work such intricate designs into such thick fabric.
His eyes flashed up from his jacket to the small voice in front of him and its source. He cleared his throat and his back immediately straightened, seeing the young servant girl in the doorway. She gave him a slightly curious look, but she knew better than to ask him what he had been doing fingering the insides of his jacket when he obviously had more important matters to tend to.
"Maribel," he surprised both the girl and himself when he heard the excitement in his voice, "Come in, my girl, why on earth are you standing in the hallway?" He caught himself grinning when the girl looked around as if she were unaware that she was indeed outside of the doorway. She stepped in timidly, now just barely in the arch of the doorframe.
"Madame Claudette asks where you would like your tea." She spoke again through her heavy french accent, having it almost echo behind her despite her quiet speaking. He hummed through a smirk at her behavior. She was only ever comfortable around his wife since she had come into their service. She could not even bring herself to look directly at him.
"Maribel," He spoke again, placing his pen down and lacing his fingers together on his desk, "Tell me, do I frighten you, child?"
"Pardon, monsieur?" He shook his head, chuckling quietly to himself.
"Come in, my dear," he said, "It's far too bright in here, I can hardly see you." She looked quickly at the hand beckoning to her and stepped further into the large study. "Closer my girl," he continued to gesture for the girl to come nearer until she was finally in front of him, directly in the sunlight that streamed from the window at his back. "There, now. Was that so hard?"
She shook her head. He took a moment to look her over. She was magnificent with the sun bathing her as it was now, lighting her coffee skin to a brilliant golden hue.
"Now I can ask you again." He leaned back in his chair, "Are you frightened by me?" He waited for her answer but there was none. She stood mute, darting her eyes around the study and trying to control her breathing. He pushed his chair back and stood from it, all the while looking her directly in her eyes. He crossed the distance between them in two long strides, stopping with his hands behind him.
"My dear..." He said sorrowfully, circling her, "How long have you worked for my wife and myself?"
"Troi mois." She answered hesitantly once he was behind her.
"Three months," He echoed, "And in those three months you've been in my service, have I ever crossed you?" She shook her head vigorously before he had even completed the question.
"Non! Non, monsieur!"
"I've never mistreated you in any way?"
"Non, monsieur." His gaze moved lower on her, seeing her petite ankles. She had grown out of her skirts. He'd have to see that something was done to fix that.
"No," he agreed, stopping in front of her and having to cast his eyes down to look her in her face, "Nor will I. You've no need to ever fear me, my dear girl. I would no sooner harm you than harm myself." He smiled warmly at her, watching her tilt her head to meet his gaze. He stayed that way above her for several moments before pivoting on his heel and returning to his desk.
"Tell Claudette to nevermind my tea. I'm in no position to stop my work, eating now will only serve as a distraction." He said before returning to his previous doings.
"Mais monsieur..." Villefort looked up from his papers, seeing the girl standing in the same spot.
"Yes, what is it?"
She looked down and played with her hands when he looked up. With anyone else he would have quickly grown impatient, but he smiled when he saw that she was at a loss for words. "Something is troubling you."
"You have not eaten today, monsieur. It is well past noon."
Villefort creased his brow, but was all the more intrigued. His wife did not even show this concern when he skipped meals, which was a regular occurrence. His eyebrows rose when he saw her blush at her own words, her skin just light enough to show the reddening in her cheeks. Valentina certainly never blushed at him anymore. In fact she never had at all, even during their courting. His back straightened against his chair and he toyed with pen between his hands.
"Would... you be more at ease if I were to eat now, Maribel?"
Again he exhaled deeply, leaning back in his seat. "Very well," He complied, gauging her for her reaction. His intrigue increased greatly when he saw how relief and worry flitted swiftly across her features to be replaced once more with her blushing, "Would you care to join me?"
She jolted at his question, her eyes nearly doubling in size apparently at the thought of sitting with her master, "Feel free to say 'no' if you are uncomfortable, I don't mind dining alone." He answered honestly, he had actually grown accustomed to it before he was married. His social life was nearly nonexistant while in school for law and for his first few years in practice.
"Where has Madame Villefort gone?" She asked before thinking. He was taken aback by her boldness, but he could see it was clearly a mistake, he could also tell she was mentally chastising herself from her closed eyes and gritted teeth. The girl looked as if she were waiting to be whipped. He looked off, sighing and placing the pen down. His minute stimulation had been cut extremely short by just the vocal mention of Valentina. Maribel's eyes opened when she heard him speak.
"She's...away." He answered, meeting her eyes and flashing a bitter, sarcastic grin, "Visiting her mother in London. It may be... an extended visit." He added, pressing his knuckles against mouth.
"Forgive me, monsieur, it is not my place. I-" She was stopped when he held his hand up.
"It's quite alright. You've done no harm," He silenced her, "Quite frankly we needed some...separation. I've not been myself as of late." He admitted, meeting her brown eyes with his pale blue orbs. "I've recently lost my father."
"I'm so sorry, monsieur." She spoke to the floor. It was more than obvious that the girl felt she had heard and said much more than what was appropriate and began to back away, "I will tell madame Claudette to bring your tea to you here."
"Thank you, my dear." He returned softly. He watched her as she left, reverting instantly back to his previous irritated state. He had much to do before he lost his light.
He continued his work, ignoring Claudette as she brought his tea, all the while retaining the hope that Maribel would return for one reason or another.