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 enfold her or the part in it she would play. (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
A.N. it was not until just this moment that I realized I was spelling Christoph wrong, from this point on 'Christof' will be spelled with a 'ph' instead of a 'f'
Trou de les Voir
By: DSC (aka:SJK)
who'll like it, I have little doubt.
Les 'Etrange Monsieur
(The Strange Monsieur)
Chase ran the scrub brush back and forth across the wood floor, scraping away nearly one hundred years of dust and grime was much harder than she could have imagined. She stared at her reflection in the soapy water, her once tight bun was becoming loose, a few wisps of hair had come free, but, she thought, it wasn't a bad effect, they framed her face, giving it a soft effect. She dunked the scrub brush back into the water, disrupting her reflection, the excitement of the situation had defiantly worn off.
She glanced around the empty entrance hall, it looked better already, after only a few hours of work, but she couldn't imagine that it would ever be returned to it's first grand glory. The walls and ceiling seemed to be permanently yellowed with age, and no matter how hard she scrubbed, the floor still seemed to retain a thin layer of dust. The pictures, of which there were quite a few, alone seemed to retain their original brilliance, one was of the first owner and creator of the manor. He seemed just as despicable as everyone said, and had the look of paranoia about him, wasn't it said that he constantly feared conspiracy? Some said he went to extreme measures to assure that no one could plot against him without his almost instantaneous knowledge. She'd never believed it before, but now that she was in his home, she had no doubt of it, fear prickled the back of her neck every time she entered somewhere new, unsure what trap or secret passage she might have stumbled upon.
She had spent the first few weeks of her employment never drifting far from the servant quarters (more exactly the kitchen) as she began her cleaning, first the few hallways in that end of the manor and a few side rooms which were there for who knows what purpose. After only a short time however, she found herself drifting further and further away, until it seemed foolish to continue on the way she'd done at first, and so she'd decided to start at the beginning, and work her way from there. In truth she had begun in theentrance hall for only one reason, it was the only place in the house that gave view to even a miniscule part of the left wing.
Her mind wandered as she cleaned, what secrets lay hidden within those dark shadows? What stories could be told if only she could venture forth? Mostmysterious ofall was the strange Monsieur, as even she had begun to call him… she was completely engrossed by thoughts of what he must be like. Who was he? This man that no one seemed to know anything about. Where had he come from, and perhaps most intriguing to her, what had brought him here?
The sound of a long held violin cord broke the silence of the giant house, causing the young maid to smile, Chastine had become used to this oddity too, in fact she looked forward to his playing most of all. It was his daily ritual, and now it was hers, he played beautifully-- no… beauty wasn't the right word, it wasn't enough. She'd heard men in the village play, they played beautifully, but his playing was something else entirely.--
Laroque struck a lower cord and shut his eyes, catching the tone, he set his bow across the strings and, with a sigh that came from somewhere deeper than he knew, began to play. It was often aimless, his music, with no true theme except his feelings of that moment.--
Today he was sadder than usual, she knew by now how to read his music, it was simply a vent to his emotion, each different, each lovely in it's own way. For instance today the strange Monsieur was grieving, she supposed, for the sound of his music made her heart want to break and nearly brought tears to her eyes. What possible thing could have happened between yesterday and this moment that gave him cause to feel such deep sorrow? Beyond that, what had happened in this man's life that gave him such deep emotionsas that he could make her cry without even knowing why? Now more than ever she wanted to know.--
Laroque shut his eyes to theimages that flashed through his mind, but this only made them more vivid, the heat and the roar of the cruel flames as they danced licking and biting at his flesh as he ran, senseless, down the long corridor, no end in sight through the thick suffocating smoke, the screaming, that was too high to have been his own, rang in his ears… he collapsed to his knees, finally overcome by the pressing blaze.--
The music ceased so abruptly that it made Chase's breath catch, she glanced quickly up at the left wing. Nothing, "well Chase what were you expecting?" she sighed and started to return to her work, but couldn't somehow… She dropped her scrub brush back into the water and rose, loosing the clips that pinned up her skirt while she cleaned, the faded blue fabric fell softly till it's hem was level with her bare ankles. She listened intently, not sure what she was expecting to hear, and then, upon hearing nothing at all, she took a few steps forward… all the sense she possessed was screaming at her not to, but she continued to move forward, "what if something has happened?" she asked herself, "he could be an old man for all you know, what if he has had a spell?" she'd heard that many old men suffered from things called "spells" and though she'd never witnessed one, she was sure, by peoples' tones when they discussed them, they were not good.
Her damp bare feet felt odd against the dusty red carpet that lined the staircase but she continued to walk forward, two steps, then three, four, she paused at the fifth step, then again maybe it was nothing… If that was the case disrupting him would be all for naught, and she would most certainly be fired, Clough had made that much clear. Still, if he was hurt somehow the blood would be on her hands because she'd known and done nothing... she found herself heading up the stairs as quick as her feet would carry her.
She turned at the top of the stairs but stopped, something was amiss, she could feel it, the silence was so heavy it sent chills down her spine and the darkness so intense she could hardly bring herself to take a step. Yet somehow she did, her nimble feet making not a sound as she hurried down the corridor, past a short series of shut doors to the last in the row, it was open but a crack, enough to allow the dim light within to pour through, and enough for her to see inside. The room was dim, and shadowy, and what she could make out of the man was nothing but a form on the floor.--
Laroque sat half up, trying to regain composure without much hope. He knew from the beginning that he would have nightmares about that night, but what did one call it when the nightmares never went away… insanity? He ran his hands through his now mussed dark hair wearily, what was he to do? He'd left Paris to escape, but now it seemed no matter how much distance he put between himself and the past it would always be with him… haunting him. "Mariette!" he cried, covering his face with his hands, he'd already shed too many tears over this, and she wouldn't have wanted that, "Mariette I can't live this way!"
He stood abruptly, too much sorrow, too many tears… with a shout of anger he leapt at the table in the far corner, flinging the picture across the room and watching it shatter against the wall, "You must either be dead or alive to me!" he shouted, overturning the table, the candlesticks clattered to the floor. He collapsed against the overturned table, "you cannot be both my love," he whispered covering his face with his hands as if this might stop the tears from flowing, "not both…"
Chase caught herself almost cry out for his distress and froze, fearing he had somehow heard her, she began to back away slowly, rigid with fear, dubious as to what she had just witnessed… she had to get away, get out, she must never return she…someone caught her from behind, she almost screamed but the someone clapped a hand over her mouth and turned her around. Chastine gazed up into the weathered face of the grounds keeper,turning pale and beginning to quiver with fear. Still with a hand over her mouth Garnir took her by the arm and pulled her downstairs, past the entrance hall, and out into the afternoon light.
"What in God's name do you think you were doing?!"
"I…" but she seemed to have suddenly forgotten how to form words, she just shook her head wordlessly, dropping onto the steps.
He knelt before her taking her hands in his, forcing her to look at him, "You must promise you will never do that again." She said nothing, but again shook her head, searching his dark eyes for some kind of explanation. "promise me Mademoiselle, now."
"Garnir…" she pulled her hands away from him and buried her face in them, tears coursing over her cheeks. "I…"
Garnir straightened, sighing, "I can only imagine what you must have witnessed child, but whatever you saw… it was not the work of insanity."
"You know," she looked up at him, "you know don't you?"
He shook his head, "only that there is a fine line for a man between heartbreak and insanity. What you saw," he ran a hand through his shaggy gray hair, "was the former."
Chase picked at her supper silently, the images of what she had seen and heard replaying before her mind, making her feel nauseous. Phillip watched his younger sister closely, she was pale, tightlipped, and looked as though she was positively shaking. He had known from the start that this was no good… "Are you alright Chase?" he questioned gently.
She rose from the table abruptly and went to the door, taking her hood from the hook she pulled it on, "I'm…going out…" Shutting the door behind her she raced away, up the street, her bare feet stinging as they pounded against the cobble stones as she ran. With no true destination in mind she raced away from the village up toward the solitude of the nearby hills, she found herself heading automatically toward the manor and rerouted herself, anywhere but there. She fell at last, out of breath, against the soft dewy grass and lay there on her back, gazing up at the April night sky, unaware for the first time in over a month that the old Manor Deveroux, now the Manor Laroque. She sighed a little, at peace for the first time since the incident three days prior, she'd returned for work the next day as she was supposed to, and continued her duties as if nothing had happened, but the work was complete drudgery. Madame Chaffee being the kind hearted soul she was, was constantly worrying about her sudden drastic change in nature but Chase thought it best to keep the matter between herself and Monsieur Garnir.
"Mariette I can't live this way!"
Still his words echoed in her ears, saddening her but at the same time sparking that damnable curiosity of hers… who was Mariette? What had Garnir meant…
"there is a fine line between heartbreak and insanity."
She sighed again and picked at the grass with her fingertips, and now, what was worse, the people in the village were beginning to hound her with questions, Nattie wouldn't let it go, and now Nate too was becoming curious… What could she tell them? They knew as much as she did!
She shut her eyes, she was so tired… everything in her life took so much effort… and she was tired of it…
Laroque stared off into the distance, nothing but hills and sky for miles… it was a pleasant sight to his tired eyes. Yet he knew there was no escape, not here, not anywhere. He sighed continuing on his way walking aimlessly to who knows where… not that it mattered, nothing mattered.
A noise made him stop mid step and he looked down, there, lying in the grass asleep, was Mademoiselle Chastine Lawley, his housekeeper. He blinked a couple of times to make sure he hadn't somehow stumbled into a dream… no, this was indeed reality… had he taken another step he would have tread directly across her stomach. Chuckling a little at this girl's strange antics, ever since she'd come to work for him, she'd appeared in the strangest places at the strangest times, making it so that he hardly ever drifted beyond his private quarters anymore, he could sometimes hear her singing softly as she worked, and her voice was beautiful it almost reminded him of.. He shook himself mentally, "No, don't go there," he told himself… Now he stumbled across her asleep in a field not forty yards from his back doorstep. "And I worry for my sanity." He was about to continue on his way and let her sleep when she stirred, her eyes fluttering open… he tensed waiting for her to spot him and scream, as most girls waking up to find a stranger over them would have done, but she didn't. She sat up slowly, rubbing her eyes, "I…forgive me I was just…" she started to stand, "just…out for a walk and…" she stopped her babbling abruptly, recognition suddenly alight in her eyes, they grew round, the color left her cheeks, and she clapped a hand to her mouth, "oh my… Monsieur Laroque I…"
He said nothing in response to her stammers but tilted his head a little as if he didn't recognize her, "You know me?"
She nodded quickly, "I am your--"
He waved his hand as if to brush away this reply, "I know who you are, but how do you know who I am?"
She blinked and seemed to go rigid, "I…I…"
"It's alright Mademoiselle…"
His face looked exactly as it had when she'd seen him in the room, totally in shadow, but she'd recognize the figure anywhere, clad in the clothes she'd spent hours washing and mending… the clothes! It was her ticket out of this mess and she was going to take it, "I recognized your jacket…this is the same that I mended yesterday it--"
"Had a tare in the sleeve," he finished, nodding, he seemed about to say more but paused, and then his mood changed entirely, "forgive me but I… I must go," he started to turn but Chase grabbed his arm.
"Why?" He didn't reply but stared down at her hand on his arm until she realized he didn't want to be touched, and removed it, "Sorry I just…why must you go?"
"Am Ito answer to my servants as though they were the master and not I?" He said coldly, she looked down at her feet, "no, I thought not." With that he turned, and by the time she looked up a moment later, had disappeared into the darkness. Chase sighed as she started in the opposite direction, heading back toward her home. All that and still she hadn't gotten a good look at his face…
A.N.- Well I'm just flying through the chapters for this story, can you tell I'm really enjoying it? I am! Anyway… please please please review!!!!!!!!