One look at her and you could tell that she was different than the other girls in the village. There is an ethereal quality to the Old Ones, the Ones whose blood I have in my veins, that leaves an indelible imprint upon everything and everyone it touches. Of course, she would never have been mistaken for anything other than French by eyes who are not trained to see. But those of us who are of the Sidhe, we see our own blood, however a minuscule amount there is, in others. We can sense it in ways that cannot really be described. Trust then, that we simply know..
Perhaps it is the large eyes over fragile and impossibly high cheekbones that alerted me even at a distance as to who and what she was. A few discreet inquiries to the housekeeper and indeed I knew exactly all that I needed to know of her family. The fact was, her family and mine was intertwined for centuries. Now in this girl-woman it had come to rest. With polish and experience, she would quite probably become a breathtaking beauty. What a delight it was that she was so completely unaware of this fact. it would become a painful enough revelation when any of her undoubted future paramours would become Fae-struck. It was a madness that few humans have ever survived, leaving their psyches broken into shards like the shattered stems of crystal goblets. When such happens, there is rarely anything left to be salvaged of the person that had been before.
There had been whispers that the girl, Amarante LaGard, the granddaughter of one of my own Household from the Fortunate Island, had certain gifts. Everyone seems to think that those who rule do not pay any attention to the idle talk of their servants, but I always have. If they are left free to speak what is on their mind, such things should be revealed that not even the most well-placed Court spy could obtain. ‘She hears things and sees people who are not there,’ said one. This was then quickly followed by, ‘Do you think that the girl is mad? What will Madame think?’
What I thought is that it had been many years since I had any protege’, and the last one that I had trained had been my own daughter, Caroline, who was far more inclined toward the art of the Musician-Bard than to be a Priestess or the Heiress Apparent. I continued to listen and made up my mind that I would find out about this girl.
It was Le Premier May and the entire village was teeming with the promise of new life that wafted on spring breezes. Everyone was adorning their homes and every nook and cranny that was ever devoted to any deity at any time in the history of France. The sweet scent of Lily of the Valley and Lilacs seemed to hang over the rolling expanse of valley and up into the foothills of the mountains. It was the promise of the Maiden Goddess that was upon the wind. She stood there with her grandfather, with a profuse bouquet of Lily of the Valley as her own offering to the Mother of God. She knelt a long time, eyes closed, her lips not moving, yet her head bowed and hands clasped before her. I held back and held on to my own offerings and merely watched. When she came away from the already flower laden shrine I smiled at her Grandfather and then looked at the child. I asked the old gardener why he had not brought the child for me to meet Embarrassed he hurriedly did so. The child stared at first then cast her eyes downward in embarrassment.
I laid gentle fingers beneath her chin in one hand and raised her eyes back to mine, while gifting her another sprig of Lily of the Valley for her to keep. “To Whom do you pray, Mademoiselle LaGard? ” I asked. She was a maiden, was she not? The Goddess resides in everything and the day belonged to this girl-woman also much as it did to anyone else.
She cast her eyes downward once more. ” I pray to the Father for some things, and the Son and Holy Spirit for other things, Madame,” she answered shyly, her cheeks flushing at being put under my scrutiny, And yet there are other things that I do not think that they would understand that I pray to Mary, Mother of God for her intercession. ” She was fighting within herself not to fidget or fuss but remain still. This sort of discipline was good, I mused to myself. It would be useful if I were to decide to take her on as my protege’. Her grandfather sensing such things as needed to be discussed between women, with a tip of his hat and a slight bow to me, he excused himself to speak with another man from the village.
There was a long drawn silence between all three of us. I studied her and took in every twitch of even the tiniest of muscles in her body. Finally, Amarante broke the silence. “I have not told anyone except my grandfather, but I pray also to the Lady as well. My mother did so ,and do did her mother before her as far back as anyone can remember,” she licked her lips and implored me with her eyes, ” Can that not be a secret between us, Madame?”
“Certainly it can,” I said. To reassure her, I gave her a slight smile and placed a reassuring hand upon her shoulder. “Who do you pray for which things, child?” I asked..
“I prayed to whomever will listen, Madame, ” she shrugged elaborately, then remembered herself and pulled her demeanour back in sharply. “Sometimes I think that the Father would best hear me, and sometimes I think it is His Son, who had sacrificed himself that I may get to heaven.” All of her religious upbringing from having lived within the overarching shadow of the Mother Church spilled out as if she needed to do so in order to protect herself. She was at least wise in that. “And sometimes? ” her eyes seemed to question now, as if in this confession to me had taken a great weight off her shoulders, “sometimes the only one I have felt would listen to my pleas was not the Holy Trinity that the priests speak of in church, but rather the Lady of the Stars.” She then bit her lip.”
‘Yes. You will be my protege’, my dear one.’ I thought.‘I see the mark of the Old People upon you. You are Sidhe, like me and you need to learn before it is too late – for you and for me.’. I then eased out a question to her. “Do you have the Sight, Mademoiselle Amarante?”
She hesitated not knowing whether she should entirely trust me on this matter. “I – I sometimes hear and see people who are not there. But I don’t know that I have visions of what is to come to pass. I don’t think that I would know how to do it.” The issue had undoubtedly caused her some embarrassment.
“That is not a detriment, at this time,” I said reassuring her, “do you know of herbcraft? Has your mother or even your grandfather ever taught you?”
“A little. I know just basic healing and cooking herbs, Madame,” she answered a breeze catching a lock of her hair and blowing it across her face which she brushed away with long, delicate fingers.
I nodded. “There will be time enough for you to learn those things if you wish,” I said, “The best way to learn is by doing for yourself with someone to teach you.” Then as an afterthought I said, “There is much more in the world than what the priests have taught you, Amarante’. I am glad that you do not shun your gifts. If you are open to learning these things, then I will speak to your grandfather. But they are often Mysteries that we do not speak of them openly to others who do not also know. Do you understand?”
Amarante seemed pleased at this, as if she had at last found a small glimmer of hope that until that moment she had been alone in a world that had so many . They were rules that said one thing, while what others might have called mere superstitions that implied something else entirely. “Oui, Madame,” she said with nearly a curtsey, “I do.”
“Good,” I said, ” Then tell your grandfather that I wish to speak with him this afternoon at the château” Meeting her eyes once more, I smiled and answered her unspoken question. “You may come along with him if you like.”
Again she fell silent and looked down at the ground then quickly remembering herself brought her eyes back up to mine. There was a sense of almost relieved trust. “Merci beaucoup, Madame!”
That afternoon Amarante and her grandfather came to the great château that had been my husband’s legacy, passed to each Rochefort heir until his death all those centuries ago. As I watched the two walk the long avenue of ancient oaks toward the house, I remembered the propheciy given to me by the oldest of the Unseelie seers shortly after Sebastien’s death. ‘You will never accept his passing, Faelyn. Your husband, the love that you have for this man in black has already consumed you, your soul tied to his. Your ache will not be subdued unless you hear his voice again, feel his influence. And until you regain his life with the aid of a lost child of our line, your life will be but in shadow.’
Was this child, this little one the one of the prophecy? I confess, I had avoided thinking about it until this day. Perhaps I did not want to believe the words to be true, even though all of the Sidhe are sworn to Truth. For hundreds of years I searched for an answer myself and had failed. A priestess, a sovereign and an adept of the Seven Realms of Existence and yet I had not found sufficient skill or knowledge with which to bring back my husband from the dead! I was tired for all the nights of going beneath the château” through the dark, ancient passages beyond the huge old wine casks and racks of wines. I was weary of going into the long passageways that snaked deep into the hillside where the family crypts lay. Nearly all of those that had ever borne the name of Rochefort were buried here. At the far end, across an elaborate cast iron and black marble bridge that extended over the cold dark pool of water within the cavern, was the black basalt dais that held the sarcophagus where my husband was laid to rest. I would lay offerings of flowers or speak to him softly in the shadows or at times I would weep myself to sleep at the base of that cold carved stone aching only to hear his voice or somehow miraculously feel his kiss upon my cheek to tell me at last I had succeeded. It was something that any who were sane would say that I did all too often. But neither voice nor touch ever came. Instead it was the gentle hands of a concerned servant that had found me thus and brought me to bed.
Later that afternoon within the great library where my husband and I used to spend most of our time, it was agreed by Amarante, her grandfather and I that she would have a room of her own within the Château de Rochefort. At one point I glanced at Amarante gazing up at the portrait of Sebastien that hung over the large fireplace and then at a corner window where he and I had most often played our nightly games of chess. If she was nervous, she did not let it show but kept glancing in the corner. Much later, after I had trained her to use the Sight and to communicate beyond the Veil, did she reveal to me that even on that day, she had seen the man in black, standing at the window.
The prophecy, it seemed, was to come true.
Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character
Word Count: 2077
Crossposted to & Special thanks go to the muse and writer of sunnotshadows for the kind use of her muse.