Disclaimer: Neither Angelus nor the Council of Watchers belong to me, because they're Joss Whedon's; but Marie du Bray and her correspondent are mine and I'd like to keep them, please.

Author's note: This stands separately from
Les Chroniques Parisiennes (also posted here) but is connected in that it deals with the same period of time, the same place, and the same vampire.

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Editor's note: During a sale of old books at a celebrated auction house in London, these and other letters were discovered in a collection of first-edition French literature dating from 1820 to 1854. They were auctioned off and bought by a collector of correspondence, who subsequently showed them to an acquaintance, an archivist of the Council of Watchers in England. The Council has kindly agreed to their publication as part of the long and complicated history of one of the most feared, and now most famous, vampires of the last three hundred years. The letters have been edited to take out much of Marie du Bray's irrelevant gossip. It is hoped they will be of interest to both historians and those studying the supernatural.


Thursday, September 16th, 1838

My dear Madame de Lamontagne,

I write to you from Paris, where the season is just beginning to start, and where all the conversation is about a charming newcomer who has set up his household in the Marais. On Monday we received a card (most stylish, ma chère, red embossing on cream paper), inviting us to a soirée on Wednesday night.

Well, madame, you know neither I nor my esteemed mother have ever been able to turn down an invitation, and accordingly we ordered a carriage and took out our autumn robes and arrived after dinner.

The house is that large, elegant town house once inhabited by the Baronne de Montmirail, if you remember. All the best society was there last night and there were wax candles in every room, and fresh flowers from Italy, and champagne served by servants. For a debut in Paris it was quite an affair.

Nobody seems to know very much about the new owner of the house, save that he is an Irish gentleman of good family. Rumour has it that his father died in tragic circumstances and that to assuage his grief the young lord has spent the last few years journeying around Europe before settling in Paris. But in confidence, madame, he does not seem to be somebody wracked by grief, but rather someone who has decided to enjoy himself in style.

The house has been newly refurbished in the richest fabrics, reds and golds and deep blues, and there is a delightful music room with a charming harpsichord, as well as three salons opening on to it, one of which is large enough for six couples to dance at a time. All is in the most modern taste.

You must now be wondering what the new owner is like, and I confess there were so many people there last night I only spoke to him for a brief moment. He is in his late twenties, I would estimate, with dark hair which he keeps unpowdered, taller than most, with a charming smile and manner. He speaks excellent French with only a slight accent which is, madame, entirely delightful. Everyone is enchanted with him and his extravagant entertaining and I feel his parties will be the events of the season.

Marie du Bray

Sunday, 3rd October 1838

My esteemed friend,

News has just reached us of a horrifying death, that of the veuve St. Remy. You may remember her husband died of pleurisy two years ago, and since the end of her mourning she has - I must amend that, had - been outwardly searching for a new husband. We saw her only last night at one of the parties hosted by our Irish milord, and now to hear of her death! Well, my dear madame, my mother and I are quite overcome with shock. According to my mother, who heard the news from her maid (a vulgar way of receiving news, but quite the quickest), the widow was found just three streets from her home, white as snow and with a look of horror on her face. There is talk of bite marks on her neck and the servants are speaking of nailing garlic to the door. Of course my dear mother has refused this with a laugh, but I caught her tucking her crucifix firmly into her collar just half an hour ago and I am thinking of doing the same myself.

It is a great shame that this death should spoil the memories of the delightful evening we had last night. It was a complete success, all agreed, and I had the honour of dancing with our host. He waltzes beautifully, madame, and we had a lovely conversation for quite fifteen minutes; I do believe I am quite swept away by him. Indeed all my acquaintances say the same, and even my mother cannot stop praising him.

We are

I am afraid I must hurry, madame, my mother is calling,

M. du Bray.

Monday, 11th October 1838

My dear Madame,

Yet another death has today been reported, in the same manner as that of the veuve St. Remy. This time the victim is a young dragoon, who we knew very slightly. Mother's maid reports that several servants have also been found dead during the last three weeks. All of Paris is discussing the deaths. The milord Angelus has suggested that perhaps we are being stalked by some creature of the night, but then he is Irish and they believe in these things more easily than us. In France, after all, we are so much more civilised than in much of the rest of the world. However I have heard the word 'vampire' being thrown about - it is of course ridiculous. All the same, I am a little frightened and would not dream of going anywhere without my dear mother and at least one servant.

The salons are only a little emptier, and at the theatre on Saturday almost everyone was there. We went to see a performance of Racine's 'Phèdre', which was excellently acted and most diverting. Afterwards the Marquis and Marquise de Volanges held a musical soirée at which we had the pleasure of hearing their daughter sing and play; she does both most beautifully and has the lightest touch on the keys. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to our Irish milord and between the music we spoke at length about art, and the theatre, and music. It appears that what they said about his travels is true, for he told me a great many fascinating things about the East. Would you believe that in Poland they still partake in hunting bears? He would say very little about his family, save that his parents died a long time ago. I cannot see how this can be, for he cannot be more than six-and-twenty years old, but neither can I see why he would tell an untruth. He has a disarming smile and manner and has even won over my mother, and, madame, you know how hard that is. She has invited him to our salon this afternoon, for he does not frequent the salons very much, and he agreed to come. This is of course a victory for us!

Later: after dinner.

The talk this afternoon centred mostly around the mysterious deaths. The Marquise de Volanges has bought a magnificent silver crucifix which she is wearing openly around her neck, mother is of the opinion that it is monstrously vulgar and quite unnecessary. The arrival of the milord Angelus an hour into the afternoon provided a good deal of commentary, mainly because he has a magnificent carriage, with thick velvet curtains at the windows, the like of which few of us have seen. However, much to my disappointment, he lacked sparkle this afternoon and indeed complained of a headache. I think he must have slept badly, because his skin seemed extraordinarily pale and his eyes were red-ringed, and he sat in a corner shaded from the sunlight. He conversed little and refused tea three times. I tried to draw him into a conversation about his travels but my efforts were to no avail. It was not that he was impolite, simply that he was cold and quiet.

Do you think it is wrong, my dear friend, to be interested in our newcomer in such a way? I am not alone, indeed all of my friends can talk of nobody else. I am convinced you too would be interested were you here. I wish you were, the season seems very lonely without my confidante to talk to.

Please write and give me your news from the country.

Marie du Bray.

Friday, 15th October 1838

Oh, madame, I am all in a confusion and a fluster and I swear I do not know what to do. I think I am in love and I think, I hope, the love is returned. I believe you will have guessed who it is I am in love with. Is it very wrong to love someone, madame? I know that my dear mother, for all she is as enchanted with Angelus as we all are, would certainly not approve of any relationship between us. We know too little about him.

I do not know quite why I am in love with him - whether it be his looks, or his charm, or his intelligence and culture and conversation, or the glint in his eye when I catch him looking at me across a crowded room. He is different from the other young men, quite simply different in some indefinable way.

Madame, what should I do? I need your thoughts!

Your devoted friend,

M. du B.

Monday, 18th October 1838

Madame,

I write in a hurry because my mother expects me at dinner; the afternoon's guests have all just left. As we bade them goodbye, a note was pressed into my hand by Angelus, one of the last to go, and I have just read it. Oh, madame, my heart is beating hard in my chest and I can barely stop myself from shouting aloud my joy; indeed all that prevents me is the cold fear I feel also. I enclose the note and beg you to read it and advise me on the course of action.

Marie.

[Enclosed, written on heavy parchment in black ink and sealed with a signet ring bearing the single initial A.]

Mademoiselle,

Too many times have our regards crossed each other across a room, or whilst you are playing so beautifully on the harpsichord, and it is time for me to speak in the earnest hope that you share my emotions, my passion - I speak of passion for that is what it is, the feeling I have for you, my beloved Marie, if I may be so bold as to address you in this way. In all my years I have never tasted before what I know now, how much I desire the simple return of your love for mine. If you can find a small corner in your heart for me, I pray you to forget a handkerchief next time you and your delightful mother deign to attend one of my evenings; leave it on the window-seat next to the harpsichord.

Forever yours,

A.

Saturday, 23rd October 1838

My cherished friend,

Thanks and thanks again for your speedy reply to my letter, and the invaluable advice which I followed last night. Are you quite certain I am doing nothing wrong? I dread to think what my mother would say should she know.

As instructed, I dropped a handkerchief on the window-seat before leaving the soirée last night, and I caught *his* glance as I did it, so I know he now knows I share his feelings. I am waiting in anticipation to see what will happen next, but as you advised, madame, I am expecting him to contact me. I do not wish to be seen as forward in any way.

That it were Monday! I eagerly wait for mother's next salon afternoon. Tonight we go to the opera where 'Le Nozze de Figaro' is to be performed; perhaps I shall catch a glimpse of him there?

Yours in anticipation,

Marie du Bray.

Monday, 25th October 1838

Madame,

I am in the depths of despair, for after waiting patiently all weekend to see him, A. did not visit today. He sent a note in apology saying he was indisposed and could not attend. As I could not confide in anyone I was forced to sit out the rest of the afternoon in making polite conversation and pretending to be content, although I was very far from happy. I hope he is not seriously ill. There is a dinner on Wednesday night at the Volanges', and he is supposed to be there. I am planning on asking my maid to get out my favourite dress, the deep green one which brings out my eyes.

One hour later:

A servant came as I was preparing a new pen to continue my letter, and in a bouquet of wonderful flowers for my mother was slipped a note, short and simple, telling me that on Wednesday I should excuse myself just before midnight and go into the garden, where he will meet me. He says he has something to tell me. Oh, that it were Wednesday already! How will I ever survive the next two days? I will write on Thursday, madame, and let you know what happens on Wednesday night.

I am ever, madame, your devoted correspondent and friend,

Marie du Bray.

Thursday, 28th October 1838

Madame,

I know this letter will bring you great grief and sadness, for I know how you loved my sweet daughter, my dear, beautiful Marie. Forgive the smudges on my paper; as I write I cannot stop the tears from falling.

Marie may have told you that last night we were at a dinner party hosted by the Marquise de Volanges. Shortly before midnight Marie excused herself and went to walk in the garden for fresh air, complaining of a headache; and indeed she seemed rather flushed. I thought nothing of it until only a brief while later an alarm was raised by the Irish milord Angelus (Marie may have mentioned him?) who rushed in bearing my beloved child in his arms, her skin white as snow and her eyes closed. On her neck were two open wounds still bleeding on to her gown. She was scarcely breathing and indeed all our efforts, which included a heroic attempt to restart her breathing by her rescuer, were to no avail, and my daughter passed away in my arms.

She lies now in her chamber, peaceful and beautiful in death, surrounded by lilies sent by the lord Angelus, and their sickly sweet smell fills the house, overwhelming as is my grief. Her funeral is tomorrow in the afternoon; I pray you think of me. I wish you were here, madame, as my daughter's closest friend.

I can write no more.

L. du Bray.