"Papa?" A small voice came from the slightly ajar door of Percy Blakeney's study. Percy set down his quill pen and smiled at the tiny girl peering at him.
"Come here darling" He said tenderly, holding his arms out to receive his daughter.
Four years old and as delicate as a porcelain doll, Marie Blakeney was the spitting image of her mother. Long brown curls tumbled down her back, complementing her eyes. Her beautiful, unusual eyes. Bright golden colored, nowhere near the hue of either his or Marguerite's eyes.
Percy pulled the little girl on his lap closer to his chest, frowning over her head. It was obvious to anyone who cared that Marie wasn't his daughter. Marguerite's tryst with Chauvelin had produced more than the citizen's downfall.
"Father?" Another child's voice came from the door. Percy smiled. His adopted son, Lucian Blakeney. Technically, the boy was his deceased brother's son, but Percy couldn't love him any more than if he were his own.
Percy held out his other arm, and Lucian came to him. The children were close to the same age, and more in tune than twins. Wherever Marie went, Lucian followed.
Percy sometimes worried, as father's duty, if his children could harbor possible romantic feelings towards each other. Lucian was as devoted to his sister as any lover could ever be, but there was a chance they would grow out of it.
Indeed, at ages four and five, his children were different than most. Marie worshipped her father, unaware of her true lineage. Lucian was more devoted to Marguerite. Lucian followed his studies religiously, Marie loved to dance.
"I love you, Papa" Marie murmured sleepily. It had become a ritual for the children to come to their father before bed. One last hug and a kiss seemed the least Percy could do for his children.
"I love you too, Father" Luc said, leaning his head of his father's shoulder.
"I love you both very much" Percy murmured. It was true. Though neither of his children were technically his seed, the children had stolen his heart.
The clock chimed nine, and Marie yawned right on cue. Percy smiled and stood, carrying Marie in one hand, and taking Lucian's hand in his other. Baronet Blakeney led his children to their rooms, leaving Lucian at the door to his chamber and then going to tuck Marie in.
"Papa?" Marie asked sleepily.
"Yes?" Percy replied, unable to resist his angellic daughter.
"Will you put in a word with Mama about dance school?" Marie asked. Percy leaned down to kiss his daughter's forehead.
"We shall see"
With that, Marie sighed and rolled over, already asleep. Percy left his daughter's room and went across the hall to tuck in his son. Lucian was sitting up in bed, not as tired as his sister.
"Father?" He asked, worrying the edge of his blanket in between long fingers. Percy smiled. It was most like Marguerite's children to have their more serious requests at bedtime.
"Why don't I look like you or Mother?" The boy asked, and Percy could see tears forming in the little boy's golden eyes. Percy sat next to his son, patting the five-year old on the shoulder. How remarkably perceptive he was for such a tender age.
"I will tell you when you are older" Percy said after a moment. "Can you live with that, son?" Lucian thought, then nodded, scooting under his blankets. Percy kissed his son on the head, then exited the boy's room, pausing a moment in the hall.
Lucian was only five years of age and already wanted to know who his father was. He would surely tell Marie, and then she too would come asking about her heritage. Couldn't children stay children?
Percy sighed, what a puzzle his life was. He ran his hand through his blonde hair as he set off for the room he and Marguerite shared. He entered softly, but Marguerite still heard him. She sat at her vanity, brushing the curls that were so like Marie's.
Percy came up behind his wife, blue eyes fixing on her brown ones in the mirror. He played with the end of one of her curls, smiling softly as he did so.
"Your mind is elsewhere, Percy. Tell me what troubles you" Marguerite said quietly, clasping Percy's hand on her shoulder. Percy sighed yet again.
"Lucian asked me why he looks nothing like us, and Marie has been begging to go to that french dance school" He said after a moment, focusing on playing with Marguerite's hair. "It seems like children don't want to stay children for long..."
Marguerite stayed silent, looking at her husband in the mirror. Even though Percy couldn't be a more loving or responsible father, there was something in his eyes that he tried to keep closely veiled.
Marguerite knew that not having a real child of his own hurt Percy... All the secrets that were buried on the Pimpenel's head were slowly becoming heavier. She could see it in the tired look of Percy's physique. When he wasn't acting like a fop to protect them, Percy looked utterly exhausted.
"Lucian was bound to figure it out someday, with his father being whom he was..." Marguerite let the statement hang in the air.
"My brother was a complicated man. My wish is that he could have chosen the right side. I can only hope that I will do good by his son" Percy said, still avoiding Marguerite's gaze. The frenchwoman sensed there was something that Percy wasn't ready to share with her yet.
The two stayed silent for a moment more, the Marguerite swiveled on her stool, pulling Percy's face down to hers for a kiss.
"I know my infidelity hurt you Percy, but I try every day to make up for my faults" A small smile crept onto Percy's lips.
"My Pimpernel" He teased, tracing her cheek with a long finger. Marguerite smiled at his long-used nickname for her.
"We cannot keep the truth from them forever, but let us gather our forces when we do" Marguerite said with finality. Percy nodded in agreement, kissing his wife once more.
"If only children would stay children"