There is no time than when a woman is with child that her dreams are the most profound – and perhaps frightening as well. Since the death of my husband, I had left Versailles, but only after having to beg my leave from the Court from King Louis himself. The King said that he was very sorry to see me go, but that he completely understood my reasons for doing so. He promised to send a mutual friend to check upon my progress. That night I left Paris and travelled to my husband’s ancestral home.
I dreamt last night that it was Louis de Rouvroy, Monsieur le Duc de Saint-Simon that the King sent to the Château de Rochefort. He was certainly one of the most well spoken and elegant of King Louis gentlemen at Court. He had a frank honesty about him that shocked many, and that Louis tolerated even when the Duc criticised him roundly for his excesses and those of the Court. When everyone there was quick to say, “Les femmes ne sont pas gens,” – ‘Women are not people,’ De Saint-Simon was the first to speak out against the idea. I think that may have been why that Sebastien and he got along so very well . The two of them were the rare gentlemen indeed at the Court of Louis who were happy to be married to their wives and defended them without appearing at all weak to the other men at Court. It was only fitting that he would come and so we walked in the gardens of the Château. I remember in the dream it was a strange combination of both day and night, the consciousness passed from one time of day to another, with neither of us seeming to notice at all.
We talked of the running of our respective estates, the politics of the day and then at last when we were more comfortable our conversation turned to more serious and personal matters.
“It was clear, Madame de Rochefort, ” the Duc de Saint-Simon said to me softly as we walked among the Mimosas and night blooming jasmine that now bloomed in the daylight of my dream, “that you and the Comte de Rochefort loved each other very much.” His eyes turned wistful for a moment. “I am always appreciative of seeing the holy bonds of matrimony expressed with such devotion from both spouses.” Saint-Simon’s tone was perhaps a little bitter, and I could tell that he had had his fill of Versailles and its never ending gossip and intrigues in the areas of matrimony and illicit affairs that were constantly going on around him. Versailles had become quite vile in the last few years and he made absolutely no secret of his distaste for it all.
“Thank you,” I said ,”but then I do remember seeing you and Mme. la Duchesse at our wedding. Your presence there for the occasion was a great honour for both Sebastien and I, Monsieur.”
“Your husband is…” he quickly corrected himself, “was a friend of mine.” Saint-Simon then gave me a wry smile as we passed into a deeper part of the garden labyrinth that we had been wandering in my dream, “insofar as Sebastien could ever have been said to have friends at all.”
I gave a small laugh. This man knew my husband well enough. “He had very few of them that he trusted, Monsieur le Duc,” I said, “But I do know that he always spoke very well of you.”
“No doubt, no doubt,” he patted my arm, “and I was glad of his esteem,” he said. He searched my face with a concern that appeared to be genuine, ” So now that you are widowed and expecting Sebastien’s child, the least that I can do is to check upon you, Madame. My wife would never forgive me if anything terrible were to befall you and I could have done something to have prevented it. She fully expects to be present at the christening of your child if not there at your bedside for the lying in and when….” he hesitated gauging the delicacy of the situation, “when it comes time for yours and your husband’s joy to be delivered to you at last.”
“Now that my child and I are out of the way of Le Grand Madame, I am certain that she will gladly forget the ‘peasant’ that the Comte de Rochefort married. She always tried to infer that it was out of either pity or outright enchantment,” I said. My tone was indeed sharp, and it was only too clear by my tone that I was quite happy to be away from Paris now.
“I take it that you do not like Athénaïs,” Saint-Simon said matter-of-factly.
“Non, I do not,” I said. “She fancies herself and those of her line, to be far above my husband’s branch of the family. Athénaïs and I do not have kind words to say to one another. And….” I hesitated, struggling inwardly with my own reaction to Athénaïs and decided it was best to be tactful, even to the Duc de Saint-Simon who made no secret of his intense loathing of her. “King Louis asked me quite pointedly to go hawking with him in front of her, and that did not please the Marquise de Montespan at all.” I indicated to the Duc a garden bench that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Even within my dream state, I was feeling the weight of my pregnancy pressing against my back uncomfortably. ” Of course, that was right before I found that I was with child and before I asked King Louis for my leave of the Court. But you know what they say, ” I offered him a wan smile as I sat down, “you cannot choose your family. And for good or for ill, Athénaïs and I are related. Neither of us are happy about that, I am sure.”
“Perhaps it is fortunate that we are not at Court, Madame de Rochefort,” the Duc said, his face showing a certain concern. “My disdain for Athénaïs is well known, but you, Madame – you should never speak of these things at Court. To do so to anyone but me, even to the King, could provide you with much trouble.”
“Yes, I know,” I said shifting my cloak around me to fight off the chilling morning breeze that had been relentless in its pursuit. “Especially now in light of the charges of poisoning, witchcraft and infanticide that have been circulating around Paris. I am told that the trail has led embarrassingly to the Marquise herself. And because of her position as the King’s mistress, the King himself tried to place the focus elsewhere.”
“Oui,” he said, “That is true, and that is why I am concerned for you. I know of your reputation as a healer, Madame, and I also know that there are those, especially the Marquise de Montespan who wish you ill. You made many enemies of the women at Court in marrying your husband. The secrets that you know can either destroy the Marquise and others or hang you. Perhaps they can do both, and I would indeed be very sad if that were to happen. And with Louis,” his brow furrowed noticeably, “I do not know that even I could successfully intercede on your behalf. There are those who say you are a Sorciere.”
“I know that there are, and you will not have to intercede for me, Monsieur,” I took his hand within mine and smiled at him warmly, “As you said, I am removed from Court, away from all of the women whom I have made my enemy. And as of now, I am very respectably retired to my late husband’s estates until I give birth to his child.The Marquise de Montespan certainly does not miss me….inasmuch that she cannot lay the blame for her own diabolical machinations at my feet.”
“It is because of your current state, Madame de Rochefort, that I do worry,” he said squeezing my had back. “The frenzy of the crowd for all things diabolical has reached a near fevered pitch. And it is such that there are those who would no doubt accuse you of not being above sacrificing your as yet unborn child. A woman such as yourself with such knowledge of healing and midwifery could no doubt concoct something for yourself to induce labour and then during such a Satanic rite, sacrifice your newborn.” Saint-Simon was making himself uncomfortable at the suggestion but made a great show of trying to avoid shocking me. I was not shocked. I knew that the Marquise was not above trying to plant such seeds in the minds of others if it meant that she could save herself from further scandal. He had no knowledge of what I was, but he had, like everyone else heard the whisperings and my late husband’s reputation and his connection to the Crimson Cardinal Richelieu and his successor, Mazarin, had allayed any suspicions he might have had if the name and history of de Rochefort had not.
“Of course, I know that you would never do such a thing,” he added quickly, patting my arm consolingly, “that is why I hope that my wife can be nearer to you so that she can also vouch for you during this time, keeping you above any possible reproach from Athénaïs and her creatures in light of these circumstances.”
“And where will you be, Monsieur” I asked.
“I will be at Versailles trying my best to counterbalance anything that the wretched Athénaïs chooses to throw before Louis,” he smiled suddenly to himself, as if remembering something quite amusing. “I have noticed something recently, however.”
“And what is that?”
“That Louis has been spending an increasing amount of time with a new arrival at Court. If we are careful and God is merciful and grants prayers, perhaps she shall supplant even the Marquise de Montespan.”
“We who have been watching have all pinned such hopes on other young ladies at Court before, ” I said, “and we have been disappointed at the outcome. Either they end up themselves poisoned, or they deliver their royal bastards far too early.”
“Precisely.” Saint-Simon nodded. “And this is another reason why you yourself must stay far from Versailles and the Marquise. The King has already taken this young girl to his bed. If she turns out to be with Louis’ child and if anything happens to her or the babe, there would be even more suspicion placed at Athénaïs’ doorstep, or…..” he hesitated, clearly loathing the idea of distressing me in my current ‘delicate’ state.
“Or?” I prompted him. Clearly if the Duc de Saint-Simon had been privy to Sebastien’s thoughts about my delicacy, he would have known to speak freely.
“Or your own, Madame,” he finished.
Now I did laugh, long and loud. “Me? And how could it touch on me at all?” I asked. I had let go of the Duc’s hand and plucked a sprig from a nearby spruce and held it to my nose, savouring its scent.
“Because, Faelyn,” he used a name that he could not possibly have known unless Sebastien or I had told him. I knew that it had not been me who had told him. ” Because you are related to the Marquise de Montespan, and because of your well-known knowledge of such matters powders and charms. There are still those who whisper that your child is not your husband’s madame, but that of a Daemon, if not Lucifer himself, especially since you refuted some of the alleged participants at Court so readily and made them look entirely foolish.”
Before erupting into peals of laughter, I let my mind go to Azazeal. How rich! He would have enjoyed all of this to be sure. At least that is what I thought until I heard the sound of shouting and invaders into the lovingly tended garden space of the Château de Rochefort. The sound of cutting and hacking, increased shouts that grew closer and closer within the gardens that were now overlain with the fog that is so common in dreams. The Duc de Saint-Simon pulled me closer to him protectively as dark and now snarling figures emerged, it was a crowd of people, some of them known, some of them unknown, but at the end of them, stood the Marquise de Montespan herself.
Slowly she came up to us, her body stuffed as usual in the latest fashion, her considerable bosom pushed up nearly as high as her chin, all but spilling out over the top of her bodice. Anyone would be hard pressed to look anywhere but at her cleavage or straight into her piggish eyes in order to avoid appearing as if you were leering at her. Apparently it did not matter to Athénaïs if you were a man or woman. Those eyes were fixed on me now, her face turned in a smug smile. Were those her teeth or something else’s?
“Ah,” she purred in that high pitched screech of hers, “there you are Frances! I knew that I would no doubt find you here bewitching yet another victim in your schemes. You can leave Paris but your influence is still felt. I thought I would enlist the help of an old friend of yours just to make sure you stay out of my way.”
From behind her, having been obscured by both shadows and fog came a tall man. His bearing was that of an angel – or more precisely a fallen angel.I was dumbstruck and astonished. Monsieur le Duc de Saint-Simon looked at Athénaïs then at me and then to this new visitor.
“How dare you, Athénaïs!” he spat, “Madame de Rochefort is in mourning for her husband! Have you no shame, no sense of decency at all?” And who the devil are you?”
“Who the devil indeed,” Azazeal smiled. “It is as Athénaïs said. Faelyn and I are old friends.Aren’t we, my dear?” he came forward and took my hand in his and kissed it, glancing up at me with a familiarity that was definitely less than proper given the situation.
“Oui,” I said, unable to form another word, and even that word, as sometimes happens in dreams did not come easily, for my voice broke,” we are.”
“There you see, Monsieur?” Azazeal let go of my hand and again came to stand beside Athénaïs. “Everything is as it should be.”
“Why are you here?” I asked, trying to ignore my belly that felt like a great writhing now, as if there was some great serpent inside of me or my babe had suddenly become quite distressed.
“Why indeed,” Athénaïs said smugly, “because this man claims that the child within Frances’ womb is in fact his.” She seemed quite pleased with herself even as I was filled with increasing horror.
“Well, not that one,” Azazeal corrected, shrugging, “there are others. One in particular….” his voice trailed off.
I looked at him, confused. Now I had to contend with that along with the writhing from within that was now becoming sharp pains, “I have never let you touch me in such a fashion, Monsieur,” I hissed. “How dare you infer….” the blow from within was excruciating and I clutched my belly, the protectively. The crowd in the background now jeering and calling out the names of “Whore!” and “Sociere!”
Saint-Simon looked back and forth confused and obviously distressed at the prospect, “I suggest you and Athénaïs and this rabble leave at once!” the Duc said, holding me up. The crowd now seemed to fade in the dream and now there was only the four of us.
Athénaïs let out a small self-satisfied laugh, “Oh, we shall, but first I must pass on a little message for my kinswoman.” She leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “When your child is born, Madame,” she hissed into my ear, her breath hot, wet and cloying, I nearly reeled back in disgust, but her hand held my wrist fast, “you should leave France at once. Otherwise no friend, no man, no angel, no one will come to your aid – or what is even more important, the aid of your child.” When she pulled away her face had turned into something inhuman and entirely unnatural.
I fumbled in my cloak trying to find my Sidhe trident so that I might plunge it into the very breast of that beast clothed in jewels and silk. When I could not find it, I also noticed that Monsieur le Duc who had been holding me up was now replaced by Azazeal. The Duc had disappeared.
I gasped but Azazeal held me tighter to him. “Remember, Faelyn,” he whispered into my other ear, “you must leave France immediately after your daughter is born. Otherwise Athénaïs will not rest until she destroys you and Sebastien’s ties to her family. You and your child are the only thing standing in her way.”
I started to pull away from them both and Azazeal began to change form, his skin became sallow and pale, his forehead broadening and upon his back could be seen two atrophied stumps that looked like the seared wings of a large bird. The sounds of the crowd could be heard again, pushing against me until I could not breathe and in so doing the pain became overwhelming, enveloping me in the red miasma that was so like blood. I woke up with a start, crying out and shivering t. A thick sheen of sweat clung to my body and the bedclothes along with the blood. It could not be time, not time yet!
My wails and cries in the night were overheard and the women of the Château who came rushing to my aid, nightdresses and wrappings flying in all directions. With lamps and candles they quickly gathered all of the herbes and things that I knew would save me from a possible miscarriage. Tragedy would not be allowed to strke the House of de Rochefort so soon after the death of it’s master. No, the Comte’s heir must be saved! No doctor could be trusted with something like this! They ladled and poured various all forms of syrups and elixirs down my throat, along with warm compresses and bed rest through the day and at least to women to watch over me at all times, even while I tried to relax and sometimes to sleep. When both midwives and I were satisfied that there was no further danger to the babe, we relaxed at last. I remember appealing to every name I knew of in both Heaven and Hell and even to Sebastien to intercede on my behalf and that of my child. Perhaps my prayers were heard, for the danger and the ill dream had passed.
But the memory of the dream did not.
Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology / History
Word Count: 3175
The Comte de Rochefort (all_forme), Azazeal (1st_of_the200 ) & Monsieur le Duc de Saint-Simon (de_saintsimon) all appear here in this little romp with permission from their respective scribes. This scribe thanks each of them profusely for their generosity and kind indulgence. 🙂