dedication: to cake. i really want some, right now…
notes: i hate dealing with idiots.
title: the widow capet
summary: Let them eat cake. — France/Marie Antoinette.
Her dress was made of diamonds.
In the Chamber of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, Francis Bonnefoy first met the girl who was to become Marie Antoinette. She walked slowly; a girl of fifteen summers and barely out of childhood teetering on jewelled shoes and the expectations of two different countries that had been at each other's throats for longer than anyone could remember.
Francis sprawled in the pews in the elegant dress of the French nobles and watched her float down the aisle.
She was so very lovely, he mused. Blue-eyed perfection in a thousand-crown wedding gown—there was nothing about his future Queen that was homely or common. The people loved her. He could feel them singing her praises in his veins.
She would be the most talked-about Queen in a century, Francis thought.
And still, the girl walked.
She measured her steps in slow breaths, Francis could tell. One step, breath, two step, breath, three step, breath, and four. The heavy silk of her skirt brushed the floor and even though Francis could feel every living person in France, he could not feel this girl still tied to Austria.
She was not French.
Francis had a sneaking suspicion that she never would be.
Yet she glimmered dimly in his eyesight, branded diamond and fifteen forever in his mind.
She looked up for only a second. She met his gaze.
Francis saw blue fire and determination there, in this lovely human girl. She would bring joy and light to the Court. The contact held for only a very brief moment, but in that moment, the girl who was to be Marie Antoinette smiled at him.
It had been a very long time since Francis had truly been in love.
But this lovely girl, this lovely future Queen, smiled at him.
And Francis fell and fell and fell.
/ / /
The Grand Ballroom glowed with the light of a million candles and Marie Antoinette glowed with them.
Francis wore a pale blue frock made of velvet and lace. He held a glass of wine to his mouth and he spun the glass. The wine swirled and he stared through it towards where she sat with her husband. The King was distracted—the King was always distracted.
The crimson liquid coloured her in his sight as her lips were stained and Francis wondered what it would be like to kiss her.
But, ah, to kiss her would be treason.
Not that Francis had ever minded treason.
He approached the throne. Louis' eyes lit and he clapped loudly to dispel the group of men and women who surrounded the royal couple.
"Francis! I did not know you were to grace us, this night!" he laughed.
Francis bent over the King's hand, brushing his lips against the glove. "Your Majesty. It is always good to be back at Court."
She was staring at him. Francis could feel it, though she hid her thoughts behind a bejewelled fan.
"Have you met our new Queen?" Louis asked, and turned to his wife. "My love, this is Francis Bonnefoy. He is—"
The fan closed with a snap. She tapped the closed thing against her mouth. Her eyes smiled. "We have met."
The faintest trace of an Austrian accent remained in her voice. Francis fought the urge to find Roderich and throttle him.
Marie Antoinette would always fundamentally belong to Austria.
But for now…
For now, she belonged to France.
Francis bent over the offered hand. "M'Lady."
Marie Antoinette smiled with her eyes.
/ / /
Francis travelled and heard the stories. The whispers. The anger.
Francis travelled and saw the poverty. The despair.
There was a clenching in his gut as he stared down at a little girl in a ragged white dress holding a wilted flower. She stared up at him with solemn child eyes.
He was horrified at the hunger there, laying along her bones. He could feel her starving—and not only her. So many were going hungry.
Perhaps this was what dying felt like.
Francis reached for her hand, and brought her back to her mother.
/ / /
The Queen was in her summer house.
The Petit Trianon was a cube of freedom where she would stay with her children and her group of closest friends. Francis found her there in a field with her skirt pulled up to the tops of her thighs, running between two small blond children.
"Majesty," he said. "I bring news."
She looked up at him and blinked.
Her blue eyes were like the whole sky. Francis stood stunned. Years had passed, but she was still so very lovely. So very lovely.
"Francis?" she asked after a moment. "What is wrong?"
He was about to speak when the Dauphin began to cough. Fear exploded in her face, and Francis fell silent as the Queen rushed to her eldest son's side. The words bubbled out of her fast and soft as she tried to calm him.
When his little hands came away from his mouth, they were covered in blood.
Marie Antoinette held him to her chest and whispered. The grief in her face was palpable.
"Oh, God. Why?" she prayed in a whisper. "He is only a child."
"Mama…" the little boy whispered into her throat.
Francis would have knelt and wrapped his arms around them, but he knew it was not his place. Perhaps the child, but not his beloved.
Marie Antoinette did not belong to France.
/ / /
The riots started soon after that.
The people were starving.
And still, the government spent money that they did not have. The libelles got nastier with each printing 'til Francis could not stand to look at them. The slander of his King and Queen was too much.
But Francis belonged to the people as much as he belonged to his royals.
His loyalty was split.
When he travelled, he wore the garb of the people, caught in ragged shirts and shredded breeches. He thought of her in all her glamour and gild, her with her skirts and her jewels and her gambling.
Francis clenched his fists.
The rebels would destroy it all. He knew they would burn the world, if they could; he could feel their hatred licking his insides like flames.
And then they executed his King.
That was when Francis knew that there was no going back.
/ / /
It was grey the day they brought the Widow Capet from La Conciergerie to be executed. She wore naught but a simple white dress. They had shorn her hair and he had a sudden vision of viciously chopped pale gold floating to the ground in her cell.
The crowed seethed around her as she walked.
Fear warred with rage and Francis clenched his fists at his sides to stop himself from screaming. The girl in his mind smiled and waved from very far away, through the anguish of twenty-five million people.
He should have hated her. The crowd hated her—twenty-five million people hated her. Francis could feel their bloodlust gurgling at the back of his throat. They wanted her to die. They wanted her dead.
Her head was held high and there was no regret in her face.
But Francis could not help remembering how she had looked at fifteen, when there was still innocence and food to be had. He remembered her smile.
She stumbled on her skirt as she walked up to the executioner's platform. She only barely caught herself, and she trod on the executioner's foot. She pulled back with sad blue eyes.
"Monsieur," she said softly. "I beg your pardon."
She walked to the guillotine and knelt.
Francis dug his nails into his palms so hard he bled. He would not look away, he would not.
The crowd roared its approval.
Francis felt nothing.
notes2: there will likely be Jeanne/Francis/Marie coming, soon.
notes3: please do not favourite without leaving a review. :)