Good Graces

Chapter one: Home to Stay

Don't go, I'm a homesick child
Just stay and talk to me
Even if it's just for a while

I'm afraid of the dark
but you are The Light
Stay by my side

Lucien DeCarr had never married. Even less had he ever been a father. But when the lives of his two dearest friends were at stake, he was willing to consider filling in as the latter. For Charles and Elisabeth Addington it was literally a matter of life and death that he did this. They were being chased by a League out for the life of not only them but their daughter.

Devay Addington was only 8 years old when she went to live with Lucien. They told her very little of why. Only that she was in danger by her parents' side and had no choice but to be with out them for at least the summer. Their goodbye had been sudden and fleeting to say the least. In the dead of night her father and mother burst into her room.

"Father? What is it?" her voice was tired and weak with sleep as he shook her into consciousness.

"Shh, your mother and I must go away for a while."-

"But how shall I"-

"A dear friend of ours, Mr. Lucien DeCarr will be looking after you. You'll be"-

"But mama I need you"-

"Shh, we will miss you too, Devay. More than you know. But we must go." Her mother whispered desperately.

"We trust Lucien, you'll be safe with him. We promise." And with a kiss on her forehead, her father flew out the door.

"Stay here. Don't answer the door for anyone and hide if they come in."

"But mother, who's they?" she sat up anxiously as Elisabeth edged towards the door.

"I can't say now. Just do as I say. Mr. DeCarr will be here in the morning to collect you. Goodbye my love." And just like that she had gone too, leaving Devay completely alone for the first time in her life. It had always been the three of them on their farm in the country. What could do this? What could take her parents away from her? What could possibly be so bad that they had to leave her alone?

As hard as she tried to stay awake to listen for the intruders her mother had warned her about, the young girl had fallen back asleep once more within the hour.

The next morning she awoke to heavy knocking on the fragile wooden door. The only barricade defending the already humble residence. Devay was jolted from sleep just as the knob began to turn. She sat up right, frozen and terrified.

"Blimey Dove, whatchoo so scared about?" a young woman dressed in a maid's coat and hat bustled in. Her thick plebeian accent told Devay she was originally from farther north than Lands End Island.

"I thought...well my mother told me that…"

"She told you they might try to come find you?" her smile was warm as she hurried to get the few things the young girl would need packed up. "Well your mum is a very smart woman and she's absolutely right. That's why you'll be stayin' at Mr. DeCarr's. Now hurry and put this on so we can leave. He'll be expectin' ya there before supper." The woman handed Devay a worn light blue dress to wear over the shift she already had on.

"My, I'll need to fashion you some new clothes. C'mon then. I've got ya things." Gripping her small hand in her own, she pulled Devay along outside where a dark wood carriage was waiting for them.

"I'm Meredith Hallway so you know. But everyone just calls me Merry. An' I don't blame them. S'a lot easier round the mouth."

Before she knew what was happening, Devay had been ripped from the only home she'd ever known and was traveling to a stranger's house.

"Erm, will we be traveling all day?" she was hesitant to ask, barely aware that her question was completely off topic.

"Hm? Oh, almost. At least until evening."

"And Mr. DeCarr…do you work for him?"

"Oh yes Dove. For many years I have."

"What do you do?"

"Well, I'm his maid of course. One of them anyways."

"He has more than one?" this was shocking news to a girl who'd never even met a family who could afford a maid before. Only heard of them from her parents.

Merry chuckled.

"You area funny little child. There must be at least…70 of us at DeCarr Manor."

" 70?! What does he need with 70?"

"Well the food doesn't cook itself you know. And the bed's need makin', and the tables dustin'. There's many things. His house, you see, is huge. Quite big."

"Who else does he live with that his house has to be so big? Are there lots of children, like me?" Devay was sure this man had to have an immensely large family and that every person in it had to live at this manor.

But Merry offered nothing but a smile that revealed how amazed she was of the child's lack of knowledge.

"Your parents have never told you? You've never heard…anything?" so gently surprised was the maid.

"Only his name." Devay shrugged in response.

"Well Miss Addington, I regret to inform you that not counting his staff, Mr. DeCarr lives quite alone."

"Oh…Is he a nice man?" Devay was scared to know the answer. How could she live with some cruel old man? How could her parents do this to her? What if he banished her to one part of his house and never went near her? Just tried to ignore her presence.

She appeared to be thinking, tilting her head for a moment.

"Yah…" she said slowly "Yah pretty descent I s'pose. I mean he keeps to himself. He's a very solitary man. But after all he lives on his own, so who's there to chat with? Perhaps you bein' around'll make him brighten up a spot, eh?"

They finally came to a stop around sunset. The sky was bleeding a tragic sort of red and Devay could hear the sound of crashing waves. Merry started, awakening from a light snoozing at once. Devay couldn't blame her. They'd run out of things to talk about a few hours ago and she herself had been on the verge of sleep every since. Sitting in a carriage all day had some how proved to be an exhausting business.

The door was opened by the valet and they stepped out. A great sight met the eight-year-old's eyes. A white, towering, three story manor with a north wing and a south wing. A gentle breeze greeted her thin, dark brown hair playfully and the salty air filled her lungs. A daunting change from farm life and the meek three room home that came with it in the countryside.

Merry stretched beside her and yawned as she did so.

"Come on then Dove. Supper'll be on the table soon and we'll not want to interrupt Mr. DeCarr durin' his meal, I dare say." She again gathered Devay's hand in her own and took off at once up the steps before rapping loudly on the door.

A short man in a crisp suit quickly answered the door and stepped aside.

"Step quick Merry, Lucien is anxious." He mumbled as they passed. Merry's long legs went only faster and Devay's own short support system had to almost run to keep up. Running up a flight of stairs in the immense foyer, Devay hardly had time to catch glances of gold enamel and a glorious chandelier above the entrance way. Down the south wing they went, past two doors and then they came to a halting finish. The momentum almost knocked Devay into the heavy oak door, but Merry seized her arm just before this occurrence. Her other hand busied itself, smoothing her coat and hair.

"Don't be scared now, Dove. Everything'll be perfectly alright."

Taking her time in opening the door, Merry seemed almost resistant to go in.

"Good Evening, Sir."-

A man had been standing by the window watching the sunset along the horizon as they walked in. He whipped around at once at the announcement of their arrival, giving Merry a bit of a fright. His eyes, though a rather dull sort of gold, were alive with anticipation. His skin was pale and his cheekbones high. A strong jaw line and chin was inferior to pale lips. His nose was all but pointed and his eyebrows were thick and dark. Gloomily dark brown hair would have clashed with his large eyes, if not for their worn insipidness. Lucien rushed towards them.

"What took you?"- He wasted no time kneeling before Devay.

"The journey was extensive sir. The Addingtons live on the other side of the"-

"My God…you look so much like your mother when she was your age." He didn't seem to care about a word coming from Merry's mouth. "I've waited ages to meet you. You had only been just born the last time I laid eyes on you and now here you are eight years later…and still so small…" Lucien was transfixed with her, desperately taking in every feature. Merry didn't know whether or not be alarmed for she'd never seen her employer so passionately eager. He stood once more, a small and gentle smile on his lips.

"Are you hungry? You must be after all that traveling. Come, supper will be served any minute in the dining room." For the first time Lucien bothered to take notice of his maid, still clutching Devay's small hand. His smile was illuminating his generally lulled features.

"Take her to get washed up. She shall dine with me of course." Again he looked down at Devay. "I can not wait to get to know you. Your parents are my dearest friends and I know we will be as well." Upon giving her head a dear pat, he walked out.

The next morning Devay woke to a softly sunlit room. The cream tinted curtains were drawn but the blazing sunlight still leaked through. Almost everything in the room was cream colored. The sheets and comforter, the drapes, the walls, even the dresser and tables were constructed from sanded maple wood, also cream in color. Her light russet hair clung to her neck and shoulders from sleep and was in need of a good brushing. With some trouble, the small girl managed to push back the heavy cream colored eiderdown that smothered her. Her skin was delighted to find fresh, cool water in the basin on her vanity. After cumbersomely washing her face and hands, she wasn't quite sure what to do next. Help was what she wanted, but fear held her back from calling for it. Knowing her mother would have been able to help her, tears prickled just under her eyes.

"Mama…" she cried as she was filled with a renewed sense of longing and confusion. The racking sobs must have carried down the hall because soon two maids had run in and helped her into a chair.

"Miss Addington you mustn't cry." the stouter one of the two knelt and handed her a hanky while petting her hair. The other made herself useful in the closet getting some clean clothes out for the girl. "You're safe here. Nothing can harm you with Mr. DeCarr around."

"I want my parents. Where are they? Why did they leave me?" her crying had stopped at first, but the attempt at conversation had started the storm up again. Her throat was on fire and her head began to ache. The maid pulled her into a hug.

"There, there love." She cooed, "They'll be back to pick you up soon. You just have fun here at the manor while you can. We'll take care of you dearie, we promise." The woman pulled back and began to brush Devay's hair. "Why don't you go down to the beach and have a walk after breakfast? Would you like that?"

Devay was hesitant to answer as they dressed her in a mildly stuffy, light green dress. She didn't to be outside. Her Comfort-zone didn't stretch so far and wasn't ready for it yet. Exploring indoors would be enough new-fangled excitement for that day. She was surprised at how much she wanted to be on her own, away from Lucien. It was hard to picture him outside of his library or dining room. Anywhere with a substantial amount of light at all, actually. But perhaps it was that she'd met him first in the dim light of his study and gotten acquainted with him further in a dark dining room not lit up at all aside from a roaring fire place. Maybe she was just being silly.

"Miss Addington?"

"Huh? Oh, yah, sorry…erm…can I just…stay inside today? Have a look around?"

"What ever you fancy, love." The tall and bony maid, smiling an old, but sweet smile. Devay's reply was a fervent nod. The stout maid showed her along to the dining room once more for breakfast. In contrast to supper, this room was much different in the morning. The fire was out and every heavy curtain was pulled up. Brilliant sunshine filled the room, glaring off the silver. Lucien sat calmly at the head of the table, his back to the sunlight.

"Good morning sir." Her voice was as tiny as she felt in his immense home. He smiled.

"It is, isn't it? Simply stunning outside. I trust you slept well Miss Addington. Are your accommodations fit for stay?"

She looked up, half way through spreading orange marmalade on her scone.

"Sir?"

He cleared his throat, reminded once more of the juvenile state of the mind which he was boggling.

"Do you like your room alright?" Lucien was sure to make his words clear and distinct. Her nod was once again fervent.

"Oh yes. My room's lovely thank-you. It's just…"

"Yes?" Lucien had never felt more eager to please. Extraordinary sentiment.

"Well, I hope it's not too bold to say."

His heart melted. Children were such dear things and he was proud of his friends for bringing such a conscious young thing into his world.

"No, I assure my dear, what ever it is, we shall fix the problem."

"Well, it's rather white you see. I'm afraid I'll stain it."

A laugh formed in his throat before it was coughed back.

"You mustn't worry Miss Addington. My staff knows what they're doing." He smiled as he poured himself a cup of tea. "Get it as dirty as you like. I promise it'll be clean by morning."

When one gets accustomed to something new, the overwhelming intimidation of it is very quickly overcome with the growth of one's sense of surroundings. As it goes, familiarity is pricelessly invaluable to children. Devay was no different. Within a week she was getting very adapted to Lucien and his manor. By summer's end it was, with out question, home. However with a new home, came the finality of what she had feared from the beginning.

On the second evening of September, Devay was called to Lucien's study after dinner.

"Sit my dear."

He stood with his back to her, staring again at the ocean and now starry sky. Devay did as she was told, reminded of the first day she had come to DeCarr manor. Such a long time ago…

He sighed, hung his head and turned. His tall form gracefully fell into the leather, wing back chair behind his desk. The words wouldn't come. He couldn't speak it, not to her.

"Lucien? What is it? Are you in pain? Shall I get Merry?" Merry looked after Devay often and the young girl was all but dependant on the maid's presence. He shook his head firmly.

"No love. I have…received news. Of your parents."

"Oh brilliant! That's lovely! Are they coming soon? I should like to show them around your…home…Lucien? Why are you not cheerful? Are they…not alright?"

"A league has been chasing them. Chasing you."

"Chasing me?! But I've been here the whole time. Lucien you're not making any sense."

"They were after your parents to get to you. They…did not expect your parents to have thought to send you else where."

"Well, so they want me. They don't want my parents. So they must be alright, then?"

A few moments passed in silence before he had worked up the courage to say what he had to.

"No…"

"Well then we will help them! Merry can fix them. She'll take care of them! We can take care of them! We must bring them here."

Once again his reply was quiet, distant.

"No…"

"But I thought they were your friends."

"We cannot," his voice broke, "We cannot bring them here."

"Why are you crying?!" she shouted, "Stop it! You're scaring me! Please stop it!" she begged as tears fell on her own cheeks. She walked around his desk and stood, fearful of what he would say after she asked him her question. "What has happened to my parents?" the words were so shaky it frightened her that much more.

"Devay they are dead. They were killed by the League."

A whole day passed and Devay stayed shut up in her room. The entire manor was in a state of drowsy sorrow as the knowledge of the Addingtons' death passed through the corridors. A few maids tried to coax the young girl out with food. She wouldn't have any of it and stayed quiet when they called for her time and time again. Lucien had ignored the entire matter and stayed shut up as well, in his study. Finally, that night, hopefulness got the best of him and he wandered into the dining room in hopes of finding Devay. But all he found was Merry and a few other girls setting out silverware and dishes for supper. He was silent at first, but then-

"What?" Lucien snapped as Merry set the table, her purposeful clatter and quick movements a sure sign that her feathers were ruffled and she had something to say.

"Nothing sir. It's not my place." One moment was afforded a calm smile and then it was immediately back to assaulting the dining room table.

"Miss Hallway, please. I am encouraging you to share your feelings. I advise you to take full advantage of the situation." His words were almost a threat, though it would have been empty.

The maid stopped and stood still.

"It's only…well; it's the child, sir."

"What of her?"

"You shouldn't've told her of her parents' death the way you did."

"And why is that?"

"I believe you might've frightened her, sir, if it's not too bold to say."

Lucien took a deep breath. Merry prepared for the worst. She knew she should've just kept her mouth shut. Why did she always let her emotions get the best of her?

"And what, pray tell, should I have done differently?" his stance was as composed as ever.

"Waited, until you could talk about the matter calmly, sir. Children only think there is something to fear when they know it frightens the people they look to for sanctuary…sir."

Lucien mulled over this. His eyes traced the outline of the drapes in the dining room, his fore finger absently roving over the silver head of his rattan. As the silence continued, the maid once more began to set out silver for that night's meal.

Lucien turned and started out towards Devay's room. Now was no time to be a coward. Once outside, he knocked, just as all the others had. Again there was silence to pay.

"Devay love, please. This is Mr. DeCarr. Please open the door. I only want to speak with you for a few moments."

He stood outside her door for a good long while. His eyes found the tapestry on the wall opposite her door. The image depicted a whaling scene. He would have to change that.

The door clicked open and Devay stood there, looking pitiful.

"Hello." She mumbled.

"Hello." He tried his best to offer a smile. How fragile she looked. Lucien was almost afraid to talk to her now for fear his very words would do more damage. In all his many years, handling children had never presented itself as a skill to be learned. "May I come in?"

Devay moved aside and let him in. His looks were listless as usual. She'd scarcely seen him smile lately and everything about him seemed asleep and off somewhere. Tonight there was a sense of purpose and commitment about him.

He lifted her up to her bed and sat down as well, on the edge of the mattress. The room was dark with only the last but of sunlight to fill it. Reaching to her bedside table, he took out a small box of matches and lit the oil lamp that sat there.

"Are you mad with me?" she finally had the courage to say. Her words had shocked him a bit.

"No…" He stared into her eyes looking for what to say next. "I was actually hoping to apologize for yesterday."

She looked away from him and continued to hold her tongue.

"I was so concentrated on myself I didn't…I was selfish. I should have been stronger for you." Still, he was met with her silence. "You're parents left you in my care indefinitely. They named me your Godfather. You'll be staying here much longer than we all originally intended."

The lack of dialogue happening forced him to come to the conclusion that she still needed to be left alone. He should be able to give her that, he thought. Taking a last look at her, Lucien was reminded of why he didn't believe in gods and angels. Nothing holy could hurt such an innocent and beautiful creature as a child. His weight lifted from the bed and he stood, making for the door.

"Please don't go." The words were quiet but desperate.

He turned, hopeful.

"It's almost dark out. I'm scared to be on my own."

"I understand." He said quietly. "Are you hungry? Shall I order the maids to bring you supper?"

Her head shook back and forth to indicate her response.

"I am sleepy though."

"So sleep my dear. You are in no danger. Know you are safe within these walls and sleep sound."

"I know…but I cannot. I have tried."

"That is a problem…what shall we do to help you sleep?"

"Can you sing? Mama sings for me when I need to be asleep."

"I cannot sing well, nor do I know many songs…" he looked around her room and his eyes rested on a cream colored toy chest with gold designs painted along the border. It sat just under the window.

"Ah,…" he bent down and lifted the lid. From out of it came a small wooden apparatus Devay had never seen before. Strings seemed to hold the whole bit together. Again he pulled something out of box, before letting down the lid. A long, slender piece of wood with its own bit of string. Lucien noticed her staring and smiled.

"It's called a violin. Lovely instrument. Lay down, tuck in and try to calm yourself. I'm going to play a leisurely song called 'Baloo Lammy'. I am sure it will put you to rest."

He lifted to the instrument to rest between his shoulder and his chin. At first the sound wasn't right in some way, but he was twisting the strings. Perhaps trying to find the right way they were to be going.

Suddenly the most magnificent sound was filling the room. Devay had never heard anything so lovely. So peaceful and yet so stirring all at once. She had never seen Lucien so a part of something, so passionate, like a soaring extension of his thoughts and actions. The sound was like someone singing to her, holding her and carrying her through the grassy hills of the island countryside. And though she struggled to stay awake and soak up as much of it as possible, it set her to dreaming of home within minutes.