A/N: Confession: the plot bunny nipped me quite painfully in the head a few nights back. I couldn't sleep until I had this written out. The French Revolution is a huge chapter in history, and for Skins to be a part of that, however fleetingly? No words, my dears.
I've got huge plans for this fic, to name a few: Naomily; unrequited love; Naomily; time-travelling; Naomily; unspeakable tragedy; Naomily; Revolutionary-Naomi-Coping-With-Modern-Europe-And-Haunting-Pasts; Naomily. Phew. I. Am. So. Excited. I'm writing this alongside my other fic, "Broken." You should go check that one out, too! Wee.
The entire Skins Cast is here, so no worries. And, I think I've dragged my author's note a little too long, AGAIN, so, forgive me. I'll leave you to it, then! Enjoy! Don't forget to leave me a review, a follow, or a fave if this one's worth it ;)
Septembre 17, 1788
La Glaciere, rue Croulebarb
Vitai lampada tradunt! They pass the torch of life!
A line of cold sweat traced down his neck: he swiped the back of his hand across his nape and chanced a glance around him. The boulevard was bare, save for a handful of juveniles avoiding their afternoon tutelage. He grit his teeth, admonishing himself for his flagrant display of agitated anxiety. His fingers smoothed the creases of his text—he'd been reading the same line over and over, the words searing into the forefront of his thoughts; an indecipherable cacophony of insidious intent.
He wrung his hands together, frightened witless at the thought of being chanced upon and caught unawares. Cursing himself inwardly for being a gormless coward despite his discretions, he drew a kerchief from his pocket and pressed it to his brow.
He gave a start, then.
There were eyes upon him.
A figure behind him.
He knew this much without looking. His fingers twitched in his pocket; there was no pistol on his holsters to rely on. He bent forward and gripped his cane, his body tensing, muscles stretched taut at the shoulder. He turned, then, cautiously.
"I could've killed you!" He yelped, winded. He sank back against the bench and let the cane clatter on the ground at his feet. She knelt down and picked it up.
"How incredibly considerate of you, then," her lips curled. "Imagine having to explain that to the police."
"That I killed you out of fright?" he snorted in derision. "Highly unlikely. I would've gotten over the shock and dumped your body in the Canal Saint-Martin."
She smiled at him, albeit thinly. "Awfully kind of you, I'm sure."
He doffed his beret and winked, "You will never find a more gracious bourgeois. The likes of me have been eradicated alongside the Jacobins, kith and kin of a noble race—gentlemen of the west."
She shrugged, "A worthy sacrifice." She held aloft a wicker basket and looked at him meaningfully. He glanced along the street before jumping to his feet. He proffered her his arm; she looked at him skeptically.
"It would seem more natural," he smiled, lifting her arm and tucking it into the crook of his own. He reached across her and slung his book bag over a shoulder.
They made off down the boulevard, shoes clattering against the cobbles, looking—for all the world—like a pair of bosom friends engaged in lively conversation.
Yet no one passed them by near enough to tell the difference between coherent speech and the senseless blather of the communally agitated: they who speak for the sake of speaking and maintaining a sufficient ruse for wary eyes.
They paused down a line of apartments down the Rue des Reculettes.
He drew her closer, gripping her elbow tightly in his fingers.
"Don't look back, don't look uneasy," he stepped back, grinning widely. Something flickered in his eyes, and she knew he was frightened. He tipped his head and winked, "Eyes on me, cherie. Only on me."
He took her hands and led her down a flight of stone steps to their right. In the cold gloom, he stretched out a hand, feeling about the brick walls. His hand brushed a brass knob and he pulled it open. It revealed a passage, six feet broad and five feet high, such that they had to stoop to enter. It emptied into a circular courtyard, a veritable cul-de-sac. He pulled her through and ran up the steps of the fifth building on the far right, its white-washed walls choked with ivy.
She was winded and sorely out of breath.
She clutched a stitch at her side, "There are—"
He spun around and clapped a hand to her mouth. "The walls have ears," he hissed. "And the high sills have eyes that do naught but watch all day." She glanced up at the windows of the building nearest theirs. He wrenched her arm, twisting her towards his body. "Don't," he warned, his mouth warm against her ear. He didn't release her until they were safely inside the confines of the apartment.
She squirmed in his arms and he loosed his grip. He ran ahead, towards the stairs, and looked up, scanning the flights for unwanted occupants. Finding none, he beckoned for her to follow him. On the third landing, he turned to his immediate right and fumbled in his pockets for the keys to his room. He pushed her in and staggered back against the door.
She pushed the hair out of her face, panting heavily. "Well," she said wryly. "That was breathtakingly exciting. You certainly know how to keep a lady on her feet."
He grinned tiredly, "And up at night."
He made his way over to her and proceeded to clear the table in his study. She looked around his room—it was modestly small, almost humbly so. It was bare, save for a wash stand next to a single bed in the corner. There was a fire place in the opposite wall, the ashes of its last fire cold on the grate. A window overlooking a canal hung over the sink, the cupboards underneath it were moldy and rotting.
She bit her lip, "Bit lonely here, isn't it?"
His head poked out from the edge of the wall, "What?" She shrugged half-heartedly. "I just can't imagine living here alone."
"Get used to it then," he muttered. "Home, for you and me, for the next couple of weeks."
"Come," he called out to her. She walked over to the bare table and lifted the basket onto it. They gazed at each other silently.
"Well?" his face broke into a smile. Her lips curled, amused. "Appreciate all the effort I took to bring you this."
She pulled off the top blanket and produced several wrapped packages of cured meat. "Dinner solved for the next three days, then," he chuckled. She ignored him and pulled out packet after packet, bottle after bottle, eventually producing a loaf of bread.
She slid it across the table towards him. He raised a brow, bemused. "Do you have jam in their somewhere? Or a bread knife to hack it with, at the very least?"
She rolled her eyes bemusedly, "Tear into it like a man."
He rolled it in his fingers thoughtfully before plunging his fingers into its crusty exterior. He tore into it, pulling it apart violently, letting it flake on the table before him.
"Damn!" he swore loudly, bringing his injured fingers to his lips instinctively: a fine line of blood traced down his wrist from a slit on his middle finger. "Careful, now," she clucked her tongue reproachfully.
"You'll spoil it," she reached across him and drew the loaf towards her. "I apologize for ruining it in advance, then," he muttered scathingly. She smiled briefly and held the loaf aloft.
"Now," she whispered, frustrated. "How to—?"
She brought the loaf down on the edge of the table with a dull thud. She banged it hard, again and again until something clattered to the floor in the thin, metallic tell-tale clink of steel against cement. His brows creased together as he bent forward to take it.
"Not entirely classy, is it?"
"If it does its job well enough, there's no reason to complain, is there?"
He turned the saber over in his hands—it was thin and lightweight; it would serve its purpose well enough. He mimed a parry and jabbed forward, towards her. She caught his wrist nimbly and twisted the wrong way; he cried out and the blade dropped to the floor.
"Well played," he mumbled through gritted teeth. She smiled beatifically at him in response. He frowned a little, "What about you?"
She quirked a brow at him, "What are you going on about?"
"I can't leave you unarmed! This is all well and good, and I thank you—" he stooped to pick the blade up, then, "—But you can't go out there without anything and expect me to—"
She pressed her thumb against his lips to silence him. He stilled underneath her touch, his shoulders rising and falling to match the rhythm of her breathing. "I'll be alright," she winked once; a playful, assuring gesture.
She drew back from him and lifted her leg onto the edge of the table. Slowly, she reached down and slid her dress upward, letting the fabric slide down mid-thigh. He watched mutely as the garment caught on a belt strapped a few inches above the knee.
"Classy," his brows lifted appreciatively.
"I am of a similar opinion, yes," she unbuckled the leather and hefted it onto the table. A loaded pistol clattered on the wood top, its steel barrel glinting ominously in the fading light.
"And what of Frederic?" he found himself asking, "And Jeanneau?"
"I chanced upon them before I came to you. The barracks are well stocked; I can promise this much."
He nodded; his fingers pinched the bridge of his nose concernedly. "I've a feeling Rousseau knows," he muttered bitterly. "They're drawing us out. He holds the fabric of us in his hands; fingers searching for the seams, pulling us apart until we come undone."
"It could be a tactic," she suggested hopefully. "A well constructed ruse designed to catch you off-guard, make you doubt."
"If it is, then he's succeeding," he growled. She laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder, "Don't, Jacques. We need you now, more than ever. A few more days and we can take Paris! And then, think—Versailles!"
Her enthusiasm was electric; it burned him. He turned away from her, his expression darkening, "But, the people—"
"The people!" she exclaimed incredulously, "The people are aflame, Jacques. They need a fresh blast from the bellows, but by then, they'll be a roaring flame. Versailles will fall: through blows and brimstone." He managed a smile, a genuine quirk of his lips stretching across his features.
He took her hand in his, "Everything I'll ever need: aren't you, Noemi?"
She rumpled his hair affectionately, "Don't get any ideas now. I don't belong in a kitchen."
"I don't doubt that," he chuckled warmly. Her brows crumpled together, then; he pulled back to peer at her closely. "What's wrong?"
"I remembered," she whispered, her frown deepening. "David, he gave me something before I left the apartment this morning. He was in tears," she drew a letter from her pocket and handed it to him.
"David?" he asked sharply, rising to his feet. "David of the British Commissary?"
"Fresh from the enemy barracks," she said confusedly. He tore open the top flap and nearly crumpled the parchment in his haste to read it. His eyes scanned the text for a good thirty seconds at least, until—
The letter slipped from his fingers, curling out and away from him, settling on the ground at her feet. She did not need to read it to know what it said.
"They killed her. Elizabeth's dead," he whispered, his hands coming up to grasp the hair on his head. Her fingers curled into tight balls at her side, but she held her tongue. She found herself echoing his words long moments later, her voice sounding strangely hollow.
Try to guess who's who from our Cast, because, yes, those are their names in legitimate French! Leave your guesses in a review ;) I'm taking language lessons, and I'm taking up Revolutionary France this sem, so this should be interesting. How did you feel about this one? Let me know.
Chapter Two will be up soon, but reviews will make me write faster. Go on. Make my day. Hihi. *nudges reader towards button* Love you, guys. Follow me on Twitter for updates!