In The Midst of a Massacre

18th August 1572

Bells of celebration rang out through Paris. A wedding had taken place, a wedding joining two conflicting groups, two religions come together as one and a new hope for France. Masses of nobles flocked back to the palace to begin the celebrations that would control the next few days.

A Bride dressed in all white eventually emerged from the church, closely followed by the groom. A handsome man, young in years and tall in stature. His doublet was encrusted with fine jewels that reflected the bright sunlight.

They burst in to the main hall of the palace. It was lavishly decorated with bright tapestries, precious cloths and with scented candles lining the room. No expense had been spared in this royal wedding.

The King, Charles IX of France, ran up to his throne and stood up on it - towering above the rest of his courtiers. "To the newlyweds!" He cheered, raising his goblet. "Prince Henry of Navarre and my beautiful sister, Margaret Valois!" The court joined in with the celebrations.

Charles was a true Valois through and through.

The King jumped down from his throne and pulled out his intricate mask. He placed it over his head and watched as all of his court followed suit.

Musicians struck a song and the festivities truly began. The bride and groom were thrown in to the middle of the hall and began to dance. The upbeat music created a free, joyous atmosphere.

Laurent strolled in to the court at the end of the procession. He held his mask in his hand. Celebrations were already truly underway but he didn't much feel like celebrating, not yet anyway, a part of him was still missing. Now that the court were all hidden behind their masks he would never be able to find her. Laurent sighed and put on his mask. He had chosen a mask that only covered his eyes, it was a dark velvet with small diamonds encrusted in it. Others had either full face masks of small ones like his, the room was full of bright colours, people were laughing, dancing.

This was the French court at its best, it made Laurent feel proud.

Suddenly a hand grabbed him and pulled him on to the dance floor. Laurent panicked but then realised who it was. Beneath the half mask was a large set of brown eyes, eyes that engaged you, enslaved you and never let you go.

They were eyes that should not belong to a woman.

She smiled as Laurent took hold of her arms and spun her around. Her laugh was light, carefree. It sent shivers through Laurent's body.

"Are you not going to say something Laurent?" She asked.

"Bonjour Aimée." He said in a low seductive voice as they danced in time to the music. "I was looking for you."

"Pour moi?" She replied flirtatiously.

"Always." He whispered, focusing on not kissing her soft lips. They should not be together, they were not married, she was betrothed and yet it still felt right. He loved her.

"How long do you think we can wait until we disappear?" Aimée asked, drawing her body closer to his.

The pair split up and joined with new partners as part of the dance.

Once they returned Laurent answered. "I can only wait until the end of this dance." He replied feeling his want rising.

The music finished and the courtiers turned to the musicians and applauded them.

Laurent saw Aimée's curvaceous body slink out of the grand hall. He waited for the applause to finish and turned to follow her.

Looking both ways down the bustling corridor her saw the tail of her skirts flit around the corner. He hurriedly followed her. A hand grabbed Laurent's arm, he spun around and glared at whoever it was holding him. "Laurent, I need to speak to you." It was Albert de Gondi. Laurent turned quickly to see where Aimée had gone. He couldn't see her. He turned back to Albert agitatedly.

"I'm sorry Albert but I have to leave – the King has sent on business, I must go!" Laurent pulled at Albert's grip on his arm. Albert looked momentarily confused.

"Laurent, this is important." He begged.

"I have to go Albert!" Laurent shouted, tearing himself away from the ageing man. People in the corridor stopped what they were doing and stared at the arguing men. Laurent looked back at De Gondi. "I'm sorry." He added before turning away to follow Aimée.

Laurent rounded the corner and saw his chamber door opened suggestively. He took a calming breath and stepped over the threshold. Once inside he softly closed the large maple door. He turned around and was met by Aimée's soft lips. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her from the ground. Without breaking apart Laurent carried her to his bed and set her down softly.

"I love you." He whispered as she took off his shirt.

"I love you too." He whispered as they lay down on the bed once again.

Laurent rolled over and was met by Aimée's beaming smile. "Good morning." She whispered leaning forwards and kissing him lightly. Laurent smiled and pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her waist. Her soft flesh warmed his body.

Aimée rested her head in the hollow of Laurent's neck. He kissed her head. "Marry me." He whispered. Aimée lightly and ran her hand up the length of his arm affectionately.

"You didn't need to ask." She replied, hugging him tighter. "But it will not be allowed. The King has to approve our marriage and that will never happen with his mother alive." Laurent pondered for a moment.

"I think I can convince Charles." He whispered as their bodies merged together once again.