May 4, 1779
Blood. So much blood.
My mind failed to comprehend how one person could lose so much. I wondered to myself how he could possibly live after such trauma.
Let him live, please.
I'd never been so terrified for him in my entire life.
Please, don't take him from me.
Oh, he was so weak. But he continued to fight for every harsh breath, his will to live empowered by the knowledge of his unborn child.
I stayed by his side as Dr. White began, offering my assistance where I could.
"Aveline, use this. It'll help with the fever." I dabbed gently with the cool cloth offered to me, half lidded eyes watching my movements intently, whispering praise to him when he moaned softly as Dr. White examined the wound in his side before moving to his thigh. "We'll need to begin soon. He's lost a lot of blood." He fixed with a look of questioning concern, lips pressed grimly into a thin line.
"Do what you need to save him." With a nod, he rolled his sleeves up his elbows and began sterilizing his equipment. I helped cleanse his wounds, whispering soft apologies when I brushed against tender flesh and he whimpered in pain. I wiped his face and chest with the rag resting in bowl with Dr. White's tools, his skin searing hot the touch and considerably ashen. I felt the muscles beneath my hand tense in apprehension as Dr. White approached with a scalpel, cheerless expression marring his countenance.
"Alright, let us begin."
Connor's hand clutched the sheets of our bed as Dr. White began prodding with the thin but sharp blade, cutting away at and removing the inflamed and infected tissue, his grunts and groans increasing in frequency and volume as he continued. "Keep him still" and I vaguely acknowledged the two other presences as they moved toward the bed. My tiny hands held one large, rough hand tightly and I cooed soft gentle words to him as he screamed in agony, writhing and twisting within the linen sheet in an effort to escape the pain.
"Hold him still!" Dr. White's voice held a sense of urgency and slight alarm despite his stoic demeanor, and he withdrew the tool a fraction of an inch to avoid further damage before returning to his work. Stephane pinned his legs to the mattress with great difficulty, grunting with the effort as Connor kicked at him, and Achilles was opposite of me, restraining him with a strength that surprised me. With a heavy sigh, Dr. White removed the knife, returning it to the bowl before he placed his hands on either side of the gash. "Brace yourselves." It was the only warning we received as he pushed down firmly, sickly yellowish pus oozing from the edges and he reached with for the rag to clean it away. Connor's eyes shot open and his back arched high off the mattress, shouting expletives in English and his native tongue as he struggled against the hands keeping him place, roaring in anguish as Dr. White repeated the motion again. They flickered across the room before they locked with mine, tears streaming down his face and sweat beading along his forehead. They begged for some sort of respite.
Make it stop. Make it end.
"I'm sorry, amour."
I witnessed desperation and sorrow in brown orbs rimmed with red before they rolled into the back of his head as Dr. White squeezed again, a cry far more harrowing than the others bursting from his lungs before he fainted, limp in our arms and thankfully incognizant. I blinked away tears, concentrating on the task at hand as Dr. White stitched the wound closed and dressed it properly. I watched how my husband's chest rose and fell rapidly, almost erratically, and I pressed a palm over his heart, the pulse noticeably weaker beneath my fingertips.
I don't want to lose him, Father. Please.
Trousers removed and Dr. White quickly cleaned, stitched, and bandaged the thin laceration on Connor's thigh, respectfully covering his nudity with a sheet as he finished. He checked Connor's vitals, his brown creased downward and lips pursed into a frown when he felt his forehead. "I'll return later in the day. He has a high fever and will need to be monitored until it breaks. If anything changes, come get me, understood?"
I nodded. "Oui, doctor."
He smiled wearily, beginning to pack away his medical equipment before washing away the blood and grime covering his hands. "Achilles, if I could see you downstairs before I leave?"
"Of course." I heard Achilles's cane tapping the wooden floor and Dr. White's soft tread against the oak before the door was shut gently. I sensed another presence in the room and found Stephane in the far corner, leaning against the wall, despondent with worry and fear.
"You should rest." He spoke quietly, melancholic.
"I could say the same for you. Go, I'll watch over him."
"Madame, in your condition…" I narrowed my eyes, a dangerous glint forming in hazel orbs that dared him to finish that sentence. He didn't.
I huffed in indignation. "Nothing can or will impair me from watching over my husband. You took care of him earlier. It's my turn now."
He hesitated, torn between a restful sleep beckoning him and the obligation he felt towards his mentor.
"Go to bed. That's an order, Stephane." He smirked, some of his boyish charm reappearing for a moment before he sobered.
"I'll be back in an hour." He promised through a huge yawn.
"Of course. Guest bedroom is next door. Fais de beaux rêves, mon ami. "
"Merci, madame. Adieu."
"Adieu." With a soft click of the door, he exited the room and I sighed heavily, silent tears etching salty trails down my cheeks. I wiped them away with the sleeve of my dress.
Be strong. You must be strong for him. He needs you now.
A strange sound between a hiccup and a sob escaped my lips and Connor stirred, mumbling something incomprehensible under his breath, reaching for me.
I smiled warmly despite the ache in my heart, taking his hand and reclining next to him on our bed.
"Calme, mon amour. Vous obtiendrez de meilleurs. Allez dormir."
I kissed him on his forehead and snuggled as close to his body as my belly would allow, head propped up in my hand and content to observe him whilst he slept.
"Je t'aime." He muttered again and I knew that somehow he'd heard me and understood what I'd said.
Slumber visited him briefly throughout the morning and I observed with the concern of a wife and mother how his features contorted into an ugly grimace, how his hands clenched and unclenched in the sheets of our bed, hearing snatches of what he mumbled in English and his mother tongue. Visions of the past birthed by the fever tortured him in his sleep and I felt helpless once more, a spectator to his torment. Several times, he cried out in distress, for his mother, for me, and my heart constricted at the heart-wrenching sounds, at the amount of sadness and despair in each mournful howl. Orbs delirious with malaise fluttered open occasionally, his gaze unfocused and dazed as eyes flitted over the room before closing again. I smoothed his hair back from his face, threading my fingers through the damp, sweaty strands and he quieted almost immediately, his body relaxing beneath my touch. His whimpering ceased, his erratic breathing began to calm, and as my face beamed in relief, I began singing the opening strains to a lullaby my papa sang to me as a little girl.
Dodo, l'enfant do, L'enfant dormira bien vite
Dodo, l'enfant do, L'enfant dormira bientôt.
May 4, 1779
Sleep was far from my mind as I watched over Connor's prone form spread out in our bed. I continued to stroke his dark mane, content on running my hand through the silky but unruly locks, and he dozed in a relatively peaceful slumber, the worst of the storm passed. His fever had finally broken earlier in the day and I pressed a kiss to his forehead, the skin clammy but thankfully cool. I rarely left his side, loathed for him to wake up and find someone else in my place, the only occurrences being when I needed to relieve myself or at Dr. White's insistence that I consume something to settle my stomach. Even then, I forced Stephane to gather and prepare my meals and he was all too happy to oblige me, delivering each one with a smile and an inquiry on Connor's condition.
"Better". I remarked. "He's weak but the worst is over. He rests easy now."
Stephane grinned boyishly and patted my shoulder, gently squeezing in assurance.
"Ah, oui. Never fear, madame. He's a hard bâtard. He'll pull through."
I smiled in return. "I'm his wife. I'm supposed to worry over him."
"Oui, oui. Good thing too. We need someone look out for him. Keep him company."
I met his eyes, sensing the warmth and sincerity in brown, before returning my gaze to my husband.
"I'm that and more, Stephane. Thank you for bringing him back to me."
He shook his head swiftly, his lips pursing into a thoughtful frown.
"Non non, madame. I only acted as what a true friend and brother would. Connor would do the same if our position were reversed."
"Either way, I appreciate it. Your actions saved his life. We are forever in your debt."
"Merci, madame. But that won't be necessary. Connor's done more for me then I could ever repay. To serve under him is one of the greatest honors I've ever held. Even when he's a pain in the arse some days."
He grinned broadly and I smirked at his teasing of Connor, knowing fully that he wasn't the easiest person to get along with.
"Well, I shall leave you be. I'll return in an hour, oui?"
"Oui. Merci, monsieur."
He bowed gracefully in a show of splendor and I giggled softly before he exited, the door closing with a soft click, left alone in the silence with my thoughts for company.
That was nearly two hours ago and Stephane had yet to make an appearance. I wondered what was delaying him. Connor stirred beside me with a whine, shifting closer to me as his hand blindly reached for a piece of me. I gladly gave him my free hand and he stilled, what I'd call a mix between a purr and groan of contentment leaving his throat. He still slumbered, albeit deeper than before, and I wondered absent-mindedly when he would awaken.
Soon. Hopefully soon.
Exhaustion had begun to take its toll, my body fatigued from lack of rest and mind frazzled with worry over Connor. I rubbed at my eyes sleepily, petulantly yawning as I fully stretched, arms high above my head and back arched as muscles slowly began to relax.
A knock on the bedroom door alerted me to our visitor. "Come in."
Achilles hobbled in, a small smile on his aged features as he moved to sit on the bed beside me, observing his ward with paternal anxiety.
"How is he?"
I sighed thoughtfully. "Better since the fever broke. He accepts the broth we give him and drinks the water offered to him. Dr. White visited earlier. He assures me Connor will be just fine."
"He's very resilient. He'll pull through. I have no doubt."
"Yes. I still worry though."
He huffed in mild amusement. "Well you are his wife. I expect no less."
"I feel so helpless. I can hardly bear to watch him suffer like this."
"I know exactly how you feel, my dear." His words were cryptic, carrying the burden of untold suffering and torment of another time.
He read the query in my eyes and exhaled loudly beneath his breath, rising from the bed and heading towards the door, ajar.
"A story for another day. Try to feed him more. If he will accept it, give it to him. I'll return shortly."
I nodded and as he departed, my stomach growled nosily, voicing its complaint of starvation. My cheeks burned with mortification and Achilles simply smirked, a twinkle of mirth in amber.
"Perhaps I'll bring something for you as well, yes?"
"Thank you." The familiar click of the oak door closing echoed in my mind long after he left.
"Aveline." He purred into my ear, tongue sliding along the outer shell to rest on the lobe, exerting a gentle pressure with his teeth on the delicate skin.
"Connor. You frightened me." I gasped into his neck, the fingers of one hand firmly entwined in ebony lock free from its customary tie while the other rested on the small of his back. His arms were wrapped about my waist, pulling me closer to him as his lips brushed mine.
"Forgive me. I never meant for any of this to happen." I moaned softly as one large palm swept down my side languidly in a sweet, sensual caress to rest on the curve of my bottom, gripping the flesh gently.
"Please don't leave me." I buried my face into his chest, eyes squeezed shut to prevent pointless tears from flowing once more and I felt chapped, smooth lips pressed to my forehead.
"Never. You have my word." He was a phantom, a figment of my imagination. But it provided the greatest comfort to me, a woman desperate of reassurance when surrounded by fear and doubt.
"Kiss me." He indulged my command, lips covering mine and tongue sweeping in to brush against mine as I parted my lips to allow him further access. I groaned softly, a subtle twitch of his hips against mine disclosing the evidence of his arousal, and I tilted my head to side as his mouth moved over my jaw and down my throat, biting the sensitive cord briefly before placing tiny kisses along my clavicle.
I arched against him, realizing belatedly that I was no longer with child. My brow furrowed in bemusement and he smirked knowingly, pressing a finger to my lips to silence any further questions. He pushed me backwards until I felt the back of my knees connect with the mattress and he eased me on to my back gently. His eyes raked over my form, love and lust mixing and mashing in chocolate eyes darkened with desire. I glanced down, pleasantly surprised to find us naked and scooted further back onto the bed. He crawled towards me, settling his hips comfortably between my thighs with his weight supported on elbows on either side of my head. His swollen sex rested against mine and as I arched my hips up to meet his, desperate for some friction, he pushed forward, entering me in one smooth motion. I gasped in pleasure, tossing my head back against the bed whilst he bit down on his bottom lip to suppress a groan as he began to move with confident, firm strokes. My eyes fell shut of their own accord. God, he felt heavenly, filling me to the brim repeatedly as he withdrew and reentered, his tempo increasing as our passions rose. I clung to him, nails digging into the heated skin of his back and legs wound around his waist, and I felt calloused fingers roaming over my skin, cupping a breast and teasing the hardened peak before moving lower. Questing digits parted me and I moaned loudly in pleasurably surprise as he fondled the nub, leaning low to whisper in my ear.
"I love you."
"I love…youaaaaahhhhhh!" It was too much. I sensed myself nearing completion, begging and pleading with my body for him to finish.
"Connor, please." So close. Just a little more!
I shattered underneath his ministrations with a scream, his name falling from lips as I arched towards him, fingernails embedded deep in his shoulder and I rode out the waves of my euphoric release. I felt him tense above me, a soft grunt leaving him and I prepared to receive his seed, anticipating the rush of warm liquid into me as I continued to pulse around him. But it never came.
Something wet land on my stomach and I frowned in confusion.
Was he crying? If so, why?
I looked up, a wordless scream on my lips at the horrific scene before me. Blood dripped from blade protruding from Connor's chest, his orbs blank and wide in disbelief and pain. His mouth open to form to words but released only an agonizing cry as the knife was swiftly pulled out, lifeblood gushing from the wound. I pressed my hands against it in a futile attempt to stem the bleeding, tears springing to my eyes as his life slowly ebbed from his body.
"Forgive me." He collapsed on atop of me, crimson coating and clinging to my skin. His breathing slowed as blood continue to flow, the pulse weaker with each passing second until his heart ceased to beat and I no longer heard his soft exhale.
"Connor? No, Connor! Wake up! Please! Don't do this! Please, amour! Wake up! Please!" I beseeched feverishly but was only meet with silence and empty stare devoid of life.
"Please…" I simply laid there, crying uncontrollably and cradling him to me, completely inconsolable.
I heard laughter, felt another presence in the room with me and I was suddenly on edge.
A man appeared beside the bed, holding a bloodied dagger in one hand and a flintlock pistol in the other. A cruel malevolent smirk curved to corner of thin lips upwards. Icy blue eyes full of malice looked down on me in contempt.
I snarled in grievous animalistic rage. He was the one responsible for this.
"I will kill you!"
He grinned broadly, leveling the pistol with my head coolly before cocking the weapon.
"You can try, assassin."
He pulled the trigger.
A sudden burst of explosive pain in my skull and I was surrounded by darkness falling endlessly through the void, screaming as I tumbled to certain death. Hands tugged on me and I fought ruthlessly. I refused to die here.
"Aveline!" The hazy still surrounded my mind but I heard the distinct echo of my name. My eyes popped open wide and I leapt into a defensive stance, ready to protect my family at all costs. Achilles stumbled backwards, nearly falling over if Dr. White hadn't of caught him. Stephane cursed beneath his breath moved towards me to restraint me. I glanced around wildly, searching for the strange man, my breathing heavy and fitful. Stephane approached with hands raised in amity, free of a weapon, and placed both palms on my shoulders, forcing me to sit back down.
I whimpered pitifully. "He killed him. He killed us."
"Shhh, it's alright. You're safe here."
I shook my head, panic welling up within my chest. I needed to see Connor. Make sure he was safe.
Stephane pulled me into an embrace, one hand stroking my curly mane soothingly, and I tried to break free. His grip tightened around me.
"Non non, madame. He is fine. Calm down. Everything's alright."
I felt the tears prickling at the back of my eyes, angrily wiping them when they began to spill over the lids and down my face. The walls I'd built this morning to contain all my emotions were swiftly coming down, much to my dismay. I choked on a sob, biting down hard on my lip in an effort not to cry.
"Let it all out. Don't hold it in." He coaxed tenderly.
With a surrendering cry, I pressed my face into his chest, my face hidden as I wept without abandon into his clothes. Each wail wracked my frame with violent tremors, my breath shuddering in and out and if I spoke, I was positive it was incomprehensible. I cried for what seemed like hours and Stephane offered no inane advice or meaningless words of comfort. He merely held me, not even a single complaint uttered as I stained his vest with snot. I was thoroughly exhausted, mind and body, and when I finally grew weary with no tears left to shed, Stephane guided me to lay next to Connor, staying by my side and holding my hand. The last thing I remembered was the gentle squeeze of his hand before I drifted off into a troubled sleep.
Minor editing so you're not missing out on anything if you've already read it beforehand. Just things to make it flow and make more sense in my mind
Credits for song:
blog / french - lullaby - dodo - lenfant - doin - french - with - an - english - translation - and - midi - 2 /