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The Bride of Chauvelin

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Sir Percy Blakeney had a deadly serious look on his face as he paced the floor in front of his compatriots. Suddenly he stopped, hands crossed behind his back.

“It looks like we have no other option,” he declared. “Chauvelin must be suitably distracted and away from Paris for the duration of the plan.” his eyes narrowed, glinting with steel. “I will take care of that part.”

Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Lord Richard Hastings glanced helplessly at one another. When Percy got like this, they knew, there wasn’t much that could sway him. And yet, the plan this time…

“You know, I suppose I could…” Ffoulkes began with some hesitation, but Sir Percy stopped him with a raised hand.

“No, no, absolutely not. What would Collette say? Indeed, I daren’t risk her wrath should anything happen to you at the hands of that dastardly Citizen Chauvelin. It must be me.”

“But Percy…” Hastings protested, and was similarly silenced.

“Trust me; I know how to handle Chauvelin.” Percy said confidently, staring into the distance in heroic fashion, a faint smile hovering on his lips.

*

The wedding of one Citizen Chauvelin was a quiet affair, conducted in a small country church several hours ride from Paris, and officiated by a doddering old priest whose bushy eyebrows seemed to vie for attention over his hawkish nose. The obligatory witnesses were two farm hands from a field nearby, who ogled at the unexpected spectacle with wide eyes. It was not entirely in line of the ideals of the revolution, of course, but had been insisted upon by the blushing bride on account of her harking from a village nearby.

She herself, mistress Marganita of humble origin but of no little charm, as evidenced by how quickly she’d charmed the ruthless Citizen Chauvelin, was wreathed in a simple yet elegant dress, voluminous veils and wildflowers. As the priest finished the vows in a choked voice, Chauvelin took hold of the hand of his bride, and gave her an almost manic smile.
As they drove away, the “priest” muttered a decidedly un-priestly oath under his breath. He really hoped Percy wasn’t in deeper than he knew how to swim out of this time…

*

Some hours later the happily married couple stumbled into a room at a small country inn, where Chauvelin sat down heavily into a chair, his new bride settling into his lap a moment later, her arms around his neck and her veils flung back from her face. Chauvelin’s bride might not be the most conventionally attractive woman ever, but at the moment her cheeks bloomed bright with excitement, and she had a glow of such happiness to her that it was near blinding.

“Oh Armand, we’re alone at last…” she purred in a low alto, and brushed a silk glowed hand over his brow, before jumping up as the inn keeper brought in a pitcher of wine. “A toast!” the new Citizenette Chauvelin exclaimed. “A toast to our new life together!”

Handing him a cup and holding onto her own, she settled on his lap again.

Chauvelin’s mood, however, seemed to have turned for brooding in the meanwhile. He took his cup with a deep sigh, staring moodily into its blood red depths.

“A new life… oh, my dearest flower…” his voice drifted away.

“Dear Armand, is something wrong?” Marganita Chauvelin asked with concern.

Chauvelin clutched her close, his forehead pressed tenderly to his wife’s, and laughed, the laugh of a broken man.

“You think I don’t know?” he asked.

“W-what are you talking about Arm—“

Chauvelin raised his head, brushing his thumb along the line of his bride’s jaw.

“The Scarlet Pimpernel,” he intoned almost reverently. And then, suddenly, a fire seemed lit in his eyes. “I knew! I knew all along,” he declared feverishly. “I’ve chased you so long, always so close, and yet so far away. But now, now I have you!”

With that, he dipped his bride into a kiss.

Poor Chauvelin, Percy reflected as he was kissed passionately. The man had clearly cracked under the pressure. Still, for all he was a ruthless villain, he wasn’t a bad kisser… oh, to hell with it, he decided, picking Chauvelin up by the shoulders and toppling them onto the bed.

He could always escape in the morning.

 

They seek him here, they seek him there,
those Frenchies miss him everywhere…
That damned elusive Pimpernel!