A.N. "trou de les voir" is French for "eye of the beholder", well roughly it could also translate into "deficit of the view" heh…but that's not what I meant. Only the title is in French however, the rest of the story is in English. (No, btw, I don't actually speak French… so that's my excuse as to why the translation is socrappy! Lol)

Summery- (turn of the century France) When Chastine Lawley took the job as a housekeeper for the mysterious Monsieur Laroque, she never expected the dark drama that was to unfold around her or the part in it she would play in it. (NOT written in French, better explanation inside.)

Disclaimer- This story and all it's characters are completely fictional, and any similarities to real people or situations is completely coincidental. Also, being fictional, it belongs to me and thus copying it, in part or whole, usage of the characters, or anything else that seems questionable, is forbidden without MY consent... not that you would but if you wonder why I'm so serious about this see the end A.N.

Trou de les Voir

By: DSC (aka:SJK)

For Lizzy,who'll like it, I have little doubt.

1

Démarrer

(start)

…Once in a French village called De Patrie, there lived a French family called Lawley, and like most families in stories such as this, there were many children, Phillip, who couldn't understand that he was a child even still, Chastine, who wanted always to remain a child, fair and funny Christof, kind and patient Marjory and at last little Kurtis, who was nothing if not brave, and had to be carried every where. Why then tell a story about this family, seemtheynotperfect? They are that indeed, but you see, this family is different from the others, if in only one way…there were no parents, at least, none anymore, and the Lawley children had to fend for themselves. Even for and after all this they got on splendidly, even though they were once oft called the fairest and gayest De Patrie had ever seen and now were oft called naught at all, they didn'tseem muchto mind. I had the honor and joy of knowing well each, every, and all. However, (and I say this only because I know the others shall take no offense), of all of these many children and all their many plights, Chase was the most and the least, and the one I loved best. This is her story, although I think she would like better if I called it ours, for she would say it was mine as much as hers, in any case, I tell it because I can, and I should, so I must. And if it is thus meant to be the last thing I shall ever do I know I did so well, and am much pleased in that knowledge…

The sound of horses and carriage wheels clattering across uneven cobble stone brought many of the villagers within De Petrie to their windows, even at this time of night. No matching sets of horses ever drew fine carriages through their village, and if they were ever to do so, they would not do it by the cover of night. At least the villagers hadn't supposed so, not until that night in early March when a fine carriage drove through the village, drawn by two matching pairs of great black horses and set everything in the quiet little town upside down. Yet those this strange sight would effect the most in the end missed it's coming, and perhaps, it's warning.

The carriage passed through the town, and soon left it's cobble streets behind for the clay roads of the surrounding countryside, and up into the nearby hills. It drew at last to a stop in the courtyard of the most forlorn and imposing building one could possibly imagine. It stood at the top of the nearest and utmost rise, looming over the village like a great foreboding shadow, Les Manoir Deveroux.

The driver himself had to take a second glance at the vast structure before he climbed down from his seat and opened the carriage door. A tall dark figure stepped from it's lightless interior and straightened, gazing at his new address with an indifferent look in his eyes, "home," he said, spitting the word with something not unlike disgust in his deep voice. With that, and no word to the driver of his carriage as to what should be done about it or his horses, he stepped inside, out of the rain which was beginning to drum steadily.

Chase drew back her hood as she approached the large crowd gathering outside the grocer's, large crowds, in fact crowds of any size at all were unheard of in De Petrie, even in times of excitement the most they were able to conjure up were little bunches, or medium sized huddles. The novelty of such a thing as an actual crowd must have been what turned it into a large crowd, everyone would have wanted to join in the fun. Except when she reached the crowd, it didn't seem so fun anymore, nor even exciting, but frightening. No one was speaking, except in low muttering whispers, except a few voices at the very center of the crowd, which must have been what they were crowding around.

"…a menace I tell you, he'll be after the town next mark my words!" one voice was saying.

"Those haughty aristocrats are all the same!" another shouted, apparently in agreement with the first, the surrounding crowd grunted and nodded as one.

Chastine, now very confused, tried to elbow her way closer to the front of the crowd, but halfway through someone grabbed her wrist, "Chase-"

Chastine struggled as he best friend, Natalie Everard, started to pull her from the crowd, "wait wait… what's going on? Who's a menace?!" Nattie just shook her head and pulled her all the harder, "what's wrong? Just tell me… stop, tell me what--"

"Chase, come on," another hand pushed her from behind, but this one much more gently as it belonged to Nattie's twin brother who was too much a gentleman to go tugging on innocent girls.

"Why won't you tell me--"

He shook his head, "talking in this mess will only confuse things more… come on." They finally succeeded in dragging her from the crowd and into the grocer's, which, even for the crowd outside, was completely empty.

"Alright alright," she said, pushing them off, "what on earth is going on?!"

"Someone bought the old manor," Nate said, looking grave.

"Who?"

"That's just it," Nattie, who was always one for dramatics, leaned a little forward, her eyes wide, "no one knows."

Nate gave his sister a look, "His name is Monsieur Laroque."

"And??"

"And nothing..." he shrugged, "that's all anyone knows."

Chase raised an eyebrow, "so then why the uproar?"

"It's a bit odd don't you think? Why should someone buy the manor after so many years? It's probably condemned, it's been so neglected…"

She shrugged, "that's hardly any reason for the village to go fanatical."

"A carriage passed through town last night," Nattie said, trying to be matter-of-fact and mysterious at the same time, it did not have a good effect on her usually pretty features.

"Shocking," she rolled her eyes, they were being absolutely ridiculous, "as long as I'm here I might as well pick up a few things…" All the excitement would blow over in a couple of days, she was certain, things of even miniscule interest oft had this effect on little villages so she'd heard, they were so want for excitement, they made something out of nothing.

However the excitement did not blow over, in fact, as the days passed the excitement and fear grew until it was impossible to go anywhere, or do anything, without the mysterious nature of it all hanging over one's head. More little bits and pieces of information leaked through the village, most, Chastine assumed, was mere rumor, but some of it seemed tame enough to be fact. Monsieur Laroque was a wealthy widower from Paris, in his hire, was a man no one had ever heard of who, according to Branabe' (who owned the local pub,) did "his bidding". So far the strange Monsieur's "bidding" had been to hire a groundskeeper, and a cook, which seemed fairly innocent to Chase.

Yet she couldn't help but become a bit nervous herself, what with all the rumors of why he had left Paris, and why he was being so secretive about his affairs. Some said he had killed his wife, and this was why he had left, others said the Parisian authorities were after him and this was why, and a few said his name was not Laroque at all but Bontecou, the famed French robber and he'd simply become either to rich or to famous to carry on and was here in hiding. While this seemed unlikely, Chase couldn't help a prickle of fear on the back now, every time his name or the manor was mentioned in her presence.

"Ridiculous!" Phillip insisted, one night at supper, "I don't believe any of the foolishness for a second, tavern rat tripe and nothing more!"

"But Peter Sully said that it had to be true because--" Marjory started earnestly.

Phillip smiled at his seven year old sister and patted her dark curls kindly, "Peter Sully wouldn't know truth if it bit him on the nose." He glanced around, realizing only at this moment the effect this "foolishness" was having on his siblings, "now listen everyone, I want all of you to stay out of this, it's none of our affair who buys the run down property outside our village, wherever they may come from, or whatever the rest of the town says."

Laroque watched the fire crackling in it's hearth, the blaze in his blue gray eyes reflecting, his chin resting on the tips of his fingers. One more member of staff couldn't hurt, not really, not with all the rumors about him already flying among the locals, and he needed a house maid, someone to clean, to wash and mend… no, one more couldn't hurt.

He stared at the fire a moment longer before he stood and went to the bed pitcher, pouring water into the pan and dousing his face a few times to rid his eyes of the sting of staring so long at the flames. It was early yet, he knew, only around six, but these days he seemed to be constantly tired. Not that it mattered, not that anything mattered… drying his face on a hand towel he sighed and stared at his reflection in the water. He tried to hold the gaze of the stranger's face that stared back at him, but somehow couldn't manage it, images, memories, began playing before his mind and he had to look away.

Removing his shirt he tossed it in the basket beside the washstand, there for just that purpose, it was already becoming quite full, whomever he hired, he would have to send Clough about it soon, or he would be without clean clothing.

He crossed the room and to a small table in the corner covered by a row of eight candles in plain brass candlesticks and a simply framed somewhat crumpled photograph and knelt before it, kissing his fingers he pressed them against the glass covering the photo and striking a flame, lighting each of the candles in turn before bowing his head…

…Finishing her recited prayers Chase kissed the picture once again, a single tear running down her cheek, she and Phillip had once made the nightly descent to their cellar together, but after a short while, he'd refused to come…she'd never bothered to ask why. Christof and Marjory had never much taken an interest in it, they kept their loss at such a deep hidden level that bringing it to surface might have been too much and Kurtis was too young and already hurt too much, she wouldn't put him through it, even if he wanted to. Thus she said five prayers, and lit five candles, one for each of them for her parents. She'd heard some people lit more, but they must have been wealthy people because she couldn't afford to light so many candles.

She rose finally and dusted the cellar dust from her skirt, taking one last glance at the picture before blowing the candles out, one by one. Wiping her eyes she turned away before the smoke had even completely evaporated, and headed back up the stairs, pulling her hood up before heading into the night, toward her home, which looked much farther away than a few yards in the darkness.

TBC…

A.N. There's chapter 1, I hope you like it, but if you don't kindly tell me so in the nicest way possible because this story happens to be very special to me, it's something that's been developing in my head since I was 8 and my third grade teacher introduced creative writing. Heh, anyway, so as you can see it means a lot to me and I really don't want it ripped apart, but otherwise, reviews, even critical ones, are more than welcome. Thanks so much! -DSC