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At my most beautiful

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After the news of Henrietta's poisoning king had forbidden everyone from leaving Versailles, even after the mourning period. He was determinate in finding the culprits and punishing them. The security was so tight that Louis didn't even authorize Philippe's and Henrietta's daughter to attend her funeral. “Too dangerous” was his only explanation.

That action hurt Philippe but he didn't argue. He knew that arguing or not, the outcome would be the same. Louis was always right, after all.

So when Philippe got the news that Louis finally authorized his older daughter to pay him a visit (the younger one had been sick and couldn't travel), and he was delighted. He hadn't seen her in months, and missed her a lot.

“You seem extremely happy today.” Remarked the chevalier, watching Philippe getting dressed. He wrapped his arms around him and planted a kiss on his cheek.

"That's because I am." answered Philippe, before kissing him back

“Any special reason that you can share?”

“Today I'm gonna have a special visitor ” the Chevalier rolled his eyes. The last time they had a visitor, he had to control himself not to ask Philippe to send him away.

“Don't tell me it's the another one of your friends again, please.” Philippe chuckled at his lover obvious jealous tone.

“There's no need to be jealous, my special visitor is not one of my friends. Marie-Louise is coming to pay me a visit” Seeing the confused look on his lover's face on the mirror, he explained “My older daughter silly. Don't tell me you forgot about her.”

“As you recall my love, her mother wasn't really fond of me, and did everything she could so I had little to no contact with your kids, so I can't say I had the chance to meet her properly.”

“Fantastic, then I can introduce you both.” exclaimed Philippe. “Now how do I look?” He asked turning around to show his entire outfit.

“As handsome as always, my love.”

The door knocked and the pair of lovers separated. Normally they wouldn't care much, after all their relationship was an open secret to everyone, but Philippe's daughter was here and the less she saw, the less she knew. At least for now.

One of Philippe's multiple mignions entered the room and announced.

“Your Royal Highness, the Mademoiselle d'Orleans is here. Shall I let her in?”

“ Of course, what are you waiting for!! ”

The man left the room, opening the door to the young girl, who was there waiting with a big smile on her face. She was wearing a light grey dress, and her hair was arranged in a very intricate way. The rumours were true, she was the split image of Philippe, the resemblance was uncanny. Seeing her was like seeing a younger version of her father with a dress.

Philippe couldn't contain his happiness and that was evident in his smile. Forgetting about his lover, he almost run to the door, picked his little girl and twirl her around the room.

“Papa!!”

“Ma petite bijou! I've missed you so much.” Philippe told her before kissing her cheek. “Did you enjoy your trip?”

“Not much, it was cold and I was bored” complained the little girl. “Next time you have to visit us, papa. Anne-Marie couldn't come with me.”

“I know. Of course, I will. Next time I will visit you and your sister and give you girls lots of presents, I might give you a pony, no, two ponies.” He raised two fingers to show her and she nodded in agreement “I will give you two ponies and a carriage.”

Marie-Louise chuckled and kissed her father's cheek, before asking him to put her back on the floor.

The Chevalier watched the scene smiling. It was nice seeing Philippe genuinely happy again, he looked like his old self, the one before the war, or maybe the one before Versailles, he wasn't sure. Maybe the Philippe he knew when they first met, with his big blue innocent eyes and carefree smile. Suddenly, he felt like an intruder, that he should leave both father and daughter alone, they surely had a lot to talk about. As he was trying to leave the room, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Come here, there is someone I would like you to meet. Marie-Louise this is my dearest friend Philippe de Lorraine.” They exchanged looks and de Lorraine couldn't help but smile “And Philippe, this is my precious daughter, the Mademoiselle D'Orleans, Marie-Louise.” Philippe seemed satisfied with himself.

“It is an honor to finally meet your royal highness.” the blond man bowed towards the little princess.

She offered her hand for the Chevalier to kiss, thing he did without question. She giggled.
“It tickles!” then turned her eyes to Philippe “And father, he has the same name as you.”

“That's true, that's why we are the best of friends.” The Chevalier remarked smirking. “We found out our names were the same and that our older brother's names were also the same. Can you imagine?”

“That's funny. Do you also have a daughter named Marie-Louise?” Asked Marie-Louise to the Chevalier. Philippe snorted, he couldn't help it. He found the idea of his lover with a wife and a doting daughter too funny.

“No, no, your highness. I don't have any daughters. Now if you excuse me, I will leave you and your father alone. You sure must have a lot to talk.”

With this he retired himself from the room leaving father and daughter alone.

“Your friend is nice Papa!” Philippe almost laughed. Nice wasn't a word that was normally used to describe.

“He can be, sometimes. Now you want to stay here or go to the gardens?”

“I want to stay here with you, father.”

“Then let me do your hair.”

The girl run to her late mother's toilette and started to undo her intricate hairstyle while Philippe went looking for his hairdressing utensils in his own toilette.

While she waited and already with her long dark wavy hair down, Marie Louise started looking around the jewellery and trying on the necklaces and she saw. She was trying an old blue one when her father returned to the room with box in his hand.

Philippe put the box on the table and started to take out some brushes and hair pins. He passed his fingers through her hair and pressed a soft kiss on her cheek.

Looking at the mirror, the resemblance between them was astonishing. She looked lot like himself when he was her age. They had the same hair, the same mouth, the same ice blue eyes with the same long eyelashes and same thick eyebrows. It was impossible to deny that she was his daughter, despite what people said. There was so little Henrietta in her.

“Now what kind hairstyle do you want?” asked Philippe while he started to brush her hair

“I want a plait like maman used to have. Can you do that?” Replied Marie Louise almost whispering, as she was afraid of his reaction.

“Of course. Touch my hand if I hurt you.”

For a while both stayed silent, Philippe brushing her hair and Marie Louise staring at his movements in the mirror or playing with her hands.

As the time went on and his work started to flow he kept noticing his daughter hands were shaky. He hadn't noticed it before because he was too absorbed in what he was doing.

“Is there something wrong? Am I hurting you?”

“Non, papa.”

“Then why are you crying? Don't you like anything?”

“Non, papa.” repeated Marie-Louise.

Philippe knew something was wrong. His daughter wasn't child to cry out of nothing. So he stopped and put the brush on the tablet. He crouched in front of her and cleaned her tears. He hated to see his daughter sad.

“Now tell me why are you crying.” he tucked a wild lock of hair behind her ear.

“I miss maman...”

And with those three words Philippe's heart sank. He hadn't thought about it. About how Henrietta's death had affected his daughters, Anne-Marie was too young to remember, but Marie Louise, she knew Henrietta and adored her mother, despite all the problems Philippe and her had.

“I miss her too.” he held her hands close and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Now let's finish this and I will take you to the gardens to show you something.”