When Terror Comes Full Circle
Chapter 1: The Tiger's Love
They sat in silence. Deep silence, for a very long time--neither one needed to say anything. The only thing they wanted was one another's comfort, and that they had for this brief time. Any words would only get in the way.
But they couldn't afford to stay still for too long. All too soon, a man in tattered, torn rags slipped up to the door of the carriage and said quietly, almost respectfully--
"We need to go, Lucy."
Lucy nodded at him reluctantly. "I know, Andrew," she whispered, tears in her voice.
He tried to smile, but it seemed so very forced that it lost its effect. The next moment he had disappeared into the darkness, and the carriage began to move at last.
"We have to go, don't we?" Chauvelin said suddenly, as if only realizing it. His eyes still looked into the inky blackness straight ahead of him--afraid that if he turned his eyes to her, she would disappear from sight . . .
"Yes," Lucy nodded miserably. "Would that we could have stayed together in the darkness forever!"
"Never having to go anywhere," Chauvelin murmured, lowering his eyes to where her hand touched his, "never having to worry about what will happen next . . ." He followed her arm cautiously up, until he saw her face, and the tears that glistened in the moonlight on her cheeks. "I know not what will happen, my love. I don't know what is to become of me."
"Neither do I," Lucy admitted softly, stroking his cheek, and fearfully noticing that his hand trembled. "Neither do I."
"Lucy," he said urgently, "you must leave me! It is too dangerous for you to be here . . . leave me, and return to England, before it is too late! Before they arrest you with me!"
"No, Armand," she whispered. "I want to stay with you. I came to France to find you and be by your side--I will not leave it now. Even at the risk of your anger, I refuse to leave you."
Your strength, Lucy, is overwhelming . . . for once, I haven't the will to argue . . .
He raised her hand to his lips, kissing it tenderly. "Who told you where I was going to be? Who sent for you? Surely not . . ."
She smiled softly. "Yes, in a way. It was Andrew's idea, and Percy allowed it."
Chauvelin chuckled, bitterly. "Then this is more of his doing. His pity."
Lucy took his face in her hands impulsively, forcing him to look straight at her. "Call it what you will, curse it if you must. But I bless it, because it means I am here with you."
He smiled softly, a rare smile that seemed to light up his entire being; the day had been so unusual, it was only fitting that the night was filled with rare occurrences. "I can find no words to curse him today, it seems," he almost laughed, though his words were laced with sorrow and despair. "Ask me tomorrow."
They had fallen asleep locked in each other's arms, this final bliss that they could share. And when they woke up, the carriage was motionless.
I will not wake you--I cannot bring myself to do it. But you know where we will be. Come to us when you wake, and we will escort you back to England.
But I have a feeling you would rather stay with him.
I beg you, do not risk your precious life in this way--come to us, where I can keep you safe . . .
You know where we will be . . .
"He dares not even give his lodgings," Chauvelin murmured, almost bitterly, at reading the note. "He is still so wary . . . it is wise of him, I give him that."
"It is reflex, dear," Lucy whispered to him gently. "He has hidden such things in the written word for so long . . . it comes so naturally."
"He is right to hide it. If I knew . . ."
"You would arrest them . . . set a trap . . . wait for his return." Lucy gave his hand a small kiss. "I know that, as certainly as you know . . ."
"That you would warn him, and them, and set a stick in the trap I had laid." He kissed her forehead tenderly. "How well we know how the other would betray us."
"And how we love each other in spite of it."
Chauvelin smiled softly. "In spite of it, or because of it? I know not which." He sighed, staring at the blackness that surrounded them. "Your brother is right. You should not risk your life for me--go with them back to England. I nearly lost my daughter--I do not want to lose you."
"You know I will not go," she said firmly. "Whatever it is you are destined to face now, I will face it too. At your side."
He sighed. "You are so obstinate, my love!" he whispered despairingly. "When I would give all I have to keep you safe, you refuse to obey . . ."
"As I always have. Do you not see that I would go insane if I were not here with you? Would you condemn me to insanity?"
In a sudden outburst of passion, he kissed her full on the lips in reply. She needed no other response.