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Author's Note: This is more a filler chapter, I am sorry. Exploring Elise more as an individual, more than anything else. But it is absolutely necessary because this is also a transitionary chapter. We're about to get into the thick of it guys! For the past few chapters, I suppose the largest problems have been about Elise's love life, but there's been the hint of this turmoil boiling underneath the surface. I hope you like it! Tell me if it's too abrupt, or if you absolutely hate it! I know I haven't answered many reviews yet, but I am still catching up. Thank you for your patience and hope you still have some left for little old me! Again, thank you! Enjoy!

Also, if you prefer this length for the chapters, just buzz in and tell me and it can all be arranged XD

Standard Disclaimer: None of this is mine, but JK Rowling's. This fic was inspired by Gigi by Colette, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Chalotte Brontë and various works my E.M. Forster. The cast list here after mentioned is a list of people I envision to be the characters and is only provided to serve as visual aids for the reader. I have, in no way shape or form, any means to actually procure these actors to be my characters. Thank you!


5.



by me

Imogen Poots as Elise Saint-Denis
Felicity Jones as Madeliene Poisson



THE COMING DELUGE








The days passed on as they did and Elise went on as she was determined to. She went on with her studies, pouring over the books in her great library, accompanied Madame de Valière to visit her friends and acquaintances. She’d practiced her music and her conversation, her sewing and even her magic (when persuaded that no one could see). No one had noticed Elise’s growing distress, her poor spirits, for she had not wanted them to see. In the comforts of her own rooms, when all lights were out and only she lay awake, all she could do was stare at the ceiling and think. Think on how she could ever rally from the muddled mess her heart had made things to be.

It would all have been easier if Luc were there to help her. If she could tell him even the smallest fraction of her problems. But he had not been in the apartments much after Madame de Rozette’s concert. He’d busied himself, probably almost as much as Elise had busied herself. He went out every morning and every evening. His society was slowly growing and growing towards the richest scoundrels in Paris. From what Anne had told her, Luc came home staggering with drink most nights. And some, well, he did not come home at all.

For all the time Elise had known Luc, this behavior would have been very much expected. But he’d never been at his vices for this long. He’d never gone so deep into the swamp of his so called ‘artistic temperament’.

She tried a few times to catch Luc as he came back home in the late nights or early mornings, but often he was too drunk to be of any sense. There was no point in questioning him, even if she was in desperate earnest to set him to rights.

At one time, Elise even spoke to Marie-Cécile about it, but she said that they were not to pay heed to it. Luc was known for his rebellion. He would not be indulged to any behavior other than that of his choice. But though she’d had often turned a blind eye to Luc’s libertine predisposition, Elise could not help but feel as though this case were utterly different from the ones before it. What was more, she felt as if Marie-Cécile was hiding its true cause from her. Nothing felt right in their apartments and Elise could only feel the weight of it adding to the growing burden plaguing her mind.

The only solace she’d managed to find was her visits to Madeliene. She’d slowly grown attached to the girl, thinking her quite fine despite her skittish constitution. She was sweet and agreeable, and Marie-Cécile thought her an excellent friend for her protégée. Thus, once or twice every week, Elise found some time to walk out into the city and call on her friend for some tea and conversation.

Upon greeting her at the door, Madeliene all but pounced on her friend from joy at the sight of her. But as the sole of propriety, Madeliene kept to its dictum and offered a mere bow in its stead. Still, Elise kissed her on the cheek as a reflection of her own happiness and both laughed at the silliness of their conduct.

“You really are too kind,” Madeliene said, blushing a deep crimson shade. “To call upon me so often! It must be such an imposition especially when you have far grander things to do with your time.”

“I fear I’m the one who imposes! I’m simply glad you still tolerate my company. I daresay, I thought you would have grown tired of it by now.”

“Tired? Why never! Even if I were spoiled for choice of company, mademoiselle, I would still choose yours. There can be no wonder as to why the whole of Paris desires it so.”

Welcoming as Madeliene was, it was terribly uncomfortable in the Poisson house. All the curtains were shut and not a peep was to be heard from anyone. The only light that existed in the dreary home was from the dimly lit candles along the hallways and in the corners. Madeliene had said that it was for her Mamma’s nerves. Excessive brightness bothered the woman to no end and any bit of sound gave her the most terrible headache. Being a mere guest, Elise was bound to find no fault in it, but the honesty of her thoughts often confessed to her strong disapproval and distaste of the practice. If Madeliene had not even lit an extra candle for the drawing room, then Elise could not see how she was expected to drink her tea without the fear of missing her own mouth.

They spoke their pleasantries in whispers. And Elise tried to be her liveliest despite the circumstances. But she was not to be the best of company that day. In fact, she was quite terrible company if she allowed herself the freedom of open expression. The only thing that kept her even remotely bearable was the fact that things seemed brighter here than at home.

Madeliene, despite her lack of experience in social activities, was quite a gracious host. She was attentive and responsive, sincerely grateful of the company and enjoying it while it lasted. She was filled with conversation - only of fashionable topics – but guarded nonetheless. As if she constantly monitored her own actions, fearful of some unknown reprimand if she were to forget one insignificant rule.

Nevertheless, Elise adored her company.

“Might I inquire upon the de Valières?” Madeliene spoke as she poured their tea. “How they are faring? As to their health? I hope all is well.”

“Quite well,” Elise lied. She felt guilty of it, especially since she was misleading such an innocent creature. But it was necessary, she deemed. To preserve the good name of Luc, at least in the eyes of the girl who adored him body and soul. “Madame de Valière is often engaged with acquaintances, but she extends her deepest regrets that she cannot visit as often as she should have. Luc sends the same sentiments.”

A glow shone in Madeliene’s eyes as Luc’s name was mentioned. The same glow that shone in every girl’s eyes at the sight of him. But Madeliene was a singular creature. So singular that she was by far the only person Elise knew to be so engaged in Luc that the shine in her eyes was not the mere result of some spell but indeed some genuine affection. It was the fault of youth and innocence. Madeliene, it seemed that everything was worth genuine feeling, consuming and true. It would be Madeliene’s greatest beauty, Elise thought.

They talked for a while of this and that. The parties Madeliene had not been allowed to attend, the concerts she’d not been allowed to sing at. New fabrics. How the weather was turning fairer by the day. It was pleasant to be free of the weight of her burdens, even for a little time. It was hard to even keep themselves quiet for they enjoyed each other’s company so. The only thing keeping their sensibility straight was Madame Poisson’s occasional snores and mumblings. They were careful not to wake her lest their amusement come to an end.

Madeliene explained that Madame Poisson was terribly ill, or rather she believed herself to be so. Gout, ill-spirits, cold drafts and the Paris air was to be blamed, she said, and everything was to be done in order to keep the old woman in the best of comforts lest she enumerate her ailments for the duration of the day.

“You are kind to put up with her as you do, Madeliene. You must be the nearest thing to an angel this world has.”

And you do not deserve the lot that fate has given you, Elise said to herself. Poor girl. To have one overbearing mother, a father who was about as interested in his daughter as he was in a bonnet, and a man who played with her affections behind a pretty smile. People as good as Madeliene did not deserve such treatment.

She blushed. “It is not angelic to take care of one’s mother. It’s Christian,” Madeliene insisted. “I am sure you would do that same for your mother, were she with us.”

Elise nodded weakly. She would suppose that everyone in Paris knew of her past already. After all, her father and mother were beloved members of society before the revolution forced them out of their homes.

Thinking on what Madeliene had said, and how much she loved her own mother, Elise knew that she was right. No matter how difficult a person was, if you loved them, taking care of them could not be an imposition.

Madeliene saw the expression on her face and was immediately apologetic, thinking she’d offended Elise in some way.

“No, no! Of course not, my dear. You just reminded me of my mother. How much I miss her. How much I wish she could advise me now.” For the truth was that no matter how well Marie-Cécile had taken care of her, no one could replace her mother. “I am happy to remember her. In fact, I do not think I remember her enough in the day. If anything, I should thank you. Not despise you, my dear. Be certain of it.”

Significantly calmed, Madeliene sighed in relief. “She must have been truly wonderful.”

“She was. She truly was.”

Elise had a very distinct image of her in mind. One she formed when she was ten, while watching her mother at a party. Elise had been old enough to be there while entertaining guests and was supposed to be in bed, but instead she snuck out and watched from the balcony at how the people were dancing, laughing, talking, enjoying one another’s company. Her father was nowhere to be seen, but her mother, Diane, was there in the middle of the dance floor. She was dancing the waltz with a fifteen year old Rémy. She had small white flowers in her hair, a dress of ivory silk and a single sapphire hanging on her neck. The way she moved and the way she smiled, she looked like how all mothers should look. The living embodiment of happiness and contentment. But this was before the revolution and before the hardships of their family. Before the all the good things about her chipped away, one by one, and she was at her deathbed, pale and broken-hearted. Elise had held her hand as she died. She forced herself to remember her as she was, and not as she ended up being.

“She was enchanting,” Elise whispered, the ghost of a smile on her face. “Simply enchanting.”

“Just as you are,” Madeliene assured her. The young girl too her hand and kissed it. “You honor her by who you are now. I imagine she would be very proud of you.”

“You would not think that if you knew what I truly am, Madeliene.”

“A courtesan?”

“No. I am proud of my life and what it could lead to. I cannot imagine the alternative. But it is my actions that I fear do my mother no honor. How I am living the life which I am so proud of.”

“Well you know what I think, mademoiselle? I think that you are living it with more courage than I’d ever seen in a woman. Or even a man! You do, as you will. You follow your instincts and you follow your own heart. Not someone’s orders or society’s opinion. I do not think there is a braver way of living life such as that. I know I could not live so. I wish I could. But I do not. You do. A choice well made. Your mother would be proud of you.”

But before Elise could answer, or even smile, the front door rammed and Madeliene excuse herself in a hurry to see who was calling.

Elise was left to think about what Madeliene had said. How her mother would be happy to know she was following her own will now, not that of Rémy’s, or anyone else. It made her happy to think that. Elise would have to thank Madeliene for it one day. Maybe even tell her what her encouraging words truly meant.

It was not long before Madeliene returned. Elise had not even finished a quarter of her freshly filled cup before Madeliene came back wearing a half-frightened expression as she sat beside the fire once again.

Elise was worried. “What is it Madeliene? Has something upset you?”

“No,” she shook her head. “Not at all. It is just…the man who called. I’ve always been afraid of him. I should not be talking ill of anyone for it is the most unchristian of things to do, but he just frightens me to death. Now I know why…”

“What is going on, Madeliene?”

Madeleiene didn’t seem to hear her though. She stared blankly into nothingness and looked as if she was about to burst into tears. “He works for the Ministry. One of father’s fellows in Minister Guizot’s council. He came with a letter. Father is needed immediately.”

Madeliene grew paler and paler as she spoke. Elise didn’t know what to do. She leaned in closer and held her friend’s hands tight in her own. “What is the matter, Madeliene? What has happened?”

Madeliene nodded. “The man said that my father must come to the Ministry at once. He says that…he says that…”

“What!”

“The Minister has broken treaty with England. They say he’s helped Napoleon escape from Elba!”

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