Prompt: Lacroix/Janette -or- Lacroix&Janette. Before Nicholas.
Length: ~ 6500 words
“They say there is no greater sorrow for a parent than to lose his child. One moment we take pride in the joys of fatherhood, taking for granted that she would be there forever. Yet, gentle listeners, it appears that nothing is truly eternal. Through hellish circumstances we find the ties severed, and her presence replaced by emptiness...”
Frowning, Lacroix switched the microphone off and stared at the control panel in front of him. He should be pleased with the turn of last night’s events. After all, he had regained his son. For once, Nicholas had acted on his instincts instead of letting his foolish conscience get in the way. Although his motives may have been purely selfish, Nicholas had done the right thing. He had saved Janette’s life by bringing her back across.
How long had he waited for Nicholas to come around and to act like a vampire? He should be thrilled that his son had eventually committed to his nature.
Why did he feel bereaved of his prized possession instead? His beautiful daughter, his dark jewel of the night...
Lucien Lacroix was not used to losing a possession. Yet, the non-existing bond confirmed that he had lost his daughter irrevocably. When exactly had it happened? He was uncertain about the when and how. Had Nicholas taken her from him? Or had some unknown force of nature severed their familial bond earlier, while she was away?
Had he been too pre-occupied with Nicholas’ most recent escapades - the memory loss, the possession - that he had failed to notice his other child slipping away?
When Nicholas had come to him earlier this week, insisting that Janette was in town, Lacroix had not believed him. He had been convinced that he would have sensed her presence, never considering any other options.
Why had she not come to him? He would have brought her back across, re-establishing the status quo. Instead she went to Nicholas, enlisting his help in a foolish mortal fashion that almost cost her life.
Was this what she wanted? To be free from him? Through all the centuries she had never given him the impression that she was discontent with her life. Unlike Nicholas, she never complained that he had given her eternity at his side. She had been an eager student from the beginning, quickly adapting to her new life...
<<<<<<<<<<< Paris 994 AD
Lacroix watched in delight as Janette drained her former tormentor Daviau without any hesitation or regrets.
“The best revenge is revenge,” Janette realized in wonder as she brushed a remaining drop of blood from her lips and licked it off her finger.
Lacroix regarded her demeanour in satisfaction. “There’s more revenge to be taken, I believe. Suis moi...”
She followed him out of the brothel, hopeful that she would never set a foot inside again.
“Where are you taking me?” she inquired.
“We have to seek shelter for the day. You won’t be able to stay awake much longer,” he informed her.
Janette nodded, already feeling an overwhelming fatigue. Her last conscious thought was that he caught her in his arms as she stumbled.
* * *
Janette woke in a stately bed. Sitting up, she took in her surroundings. Although heavy drapes were covering the window, casting the room in utter darkness, she could clearly distinguish the furniture, which consisted of a chest, a dresser, a couch with a table and several chairs. The room itself was tidy and very elegant in its decor. She, however, was still dressed in her torn gown.
An unknown sensation caused her to turn towards the door where she noticed her new master. He was dressed in a black velvet tunic and matching pants. At his side stood a young girl, carrying a candelabra.
“Marie will assist you with your bath,” Lacroix stated. “Meet me in the hall when you’re dressed.”
A flash of fear crossed Janette’s face as she thought of her battered body. She didn’t want Marie to see the bluish prints left behind from the man who had tried to force himself on her last night. “I will be with you in a minute. A bath is not necessary. I’ve taken one two days ago.”
“You reek like a whore, my dear. And we don’t want that anymore, do we?” Lacroix said in a steely voice. “A bath is necessary.”
Janette knew by instinct that resistance would be useless and certainly not wise. Accordingly, she nodded in consent and watched as Marie began to fill the bath tub with steaming water.
“How long have you been in Monsieur’s service, Marie?” she asked after Lacroix had retreated from the room.
“I’ve been hired this evening. Monsieur said you’ve arrived without your maid. I am to assist you with your wardrobe.”
“I have neither maid nor wardrobe,” Janette scoffed. “And I really don’t need any help!”
“But Monsieur insisted!” she objected. “He said you would need me. Let me help you with your gown.”
The moment Marie moved closer, Janette’s vision turned red. Before she knew what she was doing, she reached for Marie, who let out a terrified shriek, and bit viciously into her neck. Driven by an overwhelming hunger, Janette drained her until Marie’s heart ceased to pump any more blood into the neck. With a rapturous sigh, Janette released her victim.
Her conscious thoughts returned as the body slumped at her feet. “Oh, mon dieu, what have I done?” she exclaimed mortified.
“What your nature demanded to do,” Lacroix’s voice spoke from the door. Janette hadn’t heard him enter.
“I killed her,” she stated, fearing that he would punish her now for her deed.
“She was merely mortal,” he shrugged, sauntering into the room.
“Then you’re not angry?” Janette asked anxiously.
“She served her purpose and satisfied your needs. There is, however, a flaw in your timing, my dear,” he criticized. “It would have been wiser to employ her assistance with your wardrobe before killing her. Now you will have to fend for your own, I’m afraid.” He picked up the body and left the room.
Janette stared after him in astonishment before rushing to the door to lock it. Once alone, she moved to the bath tub and tested the water with her hand. When she had taken her weekly bath at the brothel, the water usually had been almost cold and used by several women before her. This, however, was wonderfully hot. Marie had scented the water with oil and Janette inhaled the fragrance admiringly. With a smile she removed her gown and gasped in surprise as she caught sight of her belly. Instead of the bruises she had expected, her skin was flawlessly white. She stepped into the tub and sank into the hot water, slowly relaxing her tense muscles.
* * *
After drying herself off with a linen sheet, Janette regarded her old gown with distaste. She didn’t want to wear that again.
As she examined the chest, she found an exquisite gown to her surprise. She cursed as she struggled to close the hooks on the back. Marie’s help would have come in handy right now, she realized with melancholy. A smile crossed her face as she remembered Lacroix’s scolding remark. She would have to act less impulsive in the future.
She took her time to brush her hair and fastened it with a velvet ribbon. For several minutes she stood in awe as she regarded herself in the mirror. Then she remembered that Lacroix was waiting for her and made her way to the hall. She had no doubt what was in store for her now. Although her new master had waited longer than others to claim her body, he was a man after all. Certainly he would demand his payment now for the kindness he had shown her.
Lacroix rose from his seat as she approached him.
“Thank you for the gown,” Janette said, casting her eyes down demurely as he began to circle her.
“It will do,” he said when he had finished his round, “until your grande toilette arrives.”
Janette raised her eyes to meet his gaze. “My what?”
“We have an appointment with her majesty’s tailor in one hour. You will receive gowns suitable at court, robes for a ball, travel gowns, and something casual to wear for the hunt. All complete with apparel, hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, et cetera. La grande toilette.”
Janette listened with huge eyes. She had never possessed more than two gowns at a time. And now she was to get several gowns for various occasions?
“Why are you doing this?” she inquired.
“Because the social circles I frequent, require a certain dress code and anything less than the most exquisite of fabrics just wouldn’t do you justice.”
The last was spoken in a softer voice and Janette was about to cast her eyes down, when Lacroix reached for her chin and firmly held her head, forcing her eyes to look up at him.
“I trust that Madame LaTour will remain alive as long as her services are needed,” he warned in a low voice.
“Of course,” Janette promised.
Lacroix smiled and preceded her to the door.
“When your wardrobe is finished, I will teach you the use of alternate transportation,” he said and climbed into a waiting carriage.
* * *
“Remember, we need her alive. Do not disappoint me...” Lacroix breathed into her ear as they entered Madame LaTour’s salon.
Janette spent the next four hours enduring patiently as seamstresses took measure, while Madame LaTour matched colours and discussed several styles with Lacroix.
Janette felt exhausted and slightly irritated by the time they were done.
“You did well,” Lacroix commented after they had taken their seats in the carriage.
“I feel exhausted. Can we go home now?” Janette asked.
“No. You need to feed before turning in for the day,” Lacroix informed her. He ordered the coachman to stop at the river bank. Taking Janette’s arm, he strolled along the river. “Cast out your senses...” he encouraged her.
Janette closed her eyes as she followed his instructions. In the distance she made out several heart beats. When she opened her eyes again, they were golden.
“Now, choose your prey, close in on it and enjoy,” Lacroix urged.
Driven by hunger, Janette opted for the closest heart beat. She followed the sound and grabbed her prey in a flash, sinking her teeth deeply into the mortal’s neck.
“That was not a wise choice!” a stern voice scolded when her victim slumped dead at her feet.
“He was delicious,” Janette replied, brushing her lips clean.
“He was my coachman,” Lacroix stated angrily. “How do you intend to get home now? Certainly you do not expect me to helm the carriage.”
“You’ve mentioned alternate transportation earlier?” Janette asked innocently. She was beginning to feel amused by his attitude. While he dismissed the death of a mortal with a shrug, he seemed uniquely picky about anything that implied a personal disadvantage for him. On the other hand, she had a feeling that she had only seen a fraction of his temper. So far, he had been indulgent with her mistakes, but she had no doubt that he could be quite merciless should she evoke his anger for real.
“Empty his pockets and drop the body into the river,” Lacroix instructed. “When he is found, people will believe he became the victim of burglars.”
He watched as Janette followed his instructions without the slightest squeamishness. Her only concern appeared to be the mud on the river bank that she struggled to avoid as much as possible.
“You have yet to learn how to make use of the powers I have given you,” he lectured after Janette had staggered back to his side, seemingly appalled by the dirt on her shoes and her gown. “There was no need to draw the body through the mud towards the river. You’re strong enough to throw it into the water from the walkway. Or you could have levitated and dumped it from above.”
Janette stared at him in annoyance. Why didn’t he say so before she ruined her clothes?
“Levitate?” she asked.
“The alternate mode of transportation I mentioned,” he supplied. “Come here.”
He wrapped his arm around her and drew her close before leaving the ground.
Janette gasped as they were suddenly airborne. She clung to her master, afraid that she might fall to the ground, although reason told her that the fall wouldn’t be lethal. After several minutes they touched the ground smoothly and Janette recognized their home.
“Oh, mon dieu. That was amazing,” she said breathlessly and looked up at Lacroix’s face. She was surprised by the tenderness on his features that was quickly replaced by his usual neutral expression when he released his hold on her.
“It requires practice and certain skills. Do not expect to learn it in a single night,” he dampened her enthusiasm.
She nodded and retreated into her room. After splashing her face with water, she sat down on her bed, not feeling tired at all. A knock at her door told her that her master did not think of sleep either.
It was the first time that he actually knocked instead of entering her room unannounced. Assuming that he would now collect for the favours he had bestowed upon her, she leaned back in the pillows, preparing for his approach. For once, she didn’t mind to lie down for a man. He was not unattractive. When he had grabbed her for the flight tonight, she had felt an excitement rising in her that she had never felt with anyone before.
She gave him one of her most seductive smiles as he approached her. Lacroix moved around the bed until he came to stand behind her. Janette’s smile deepened as he brushed his hand along her shoulder. Reaching for his hand, Janette placed gentle kisses on his inner wrist.
“What exactly do you think you are doing?” his stern voice startled her.
”I wanted to thank you for all that you’ve done for me,” Janette explained, stunned at his reaction.
“That is all very well, but not in this way,” he said. “I’ve made you my daughter. In return I expect loyalty and companionship. Anything else is hardly appropriate for our relationship.”
Janette froze at the open rejection. No one had ever been immune to her allure. He, however, obviously did not find her attractive at all.
Lacroix touched her chin with his fingertips and turned her head to face him. “Do not fret, my dear. This is the way I choose it to be. In time we will find a companion for you who is worthy of your attentions. To me you will be my eternal daughter, nothing more.”
Swallowing, Janette nodded. Again she reached for his hand and placed a kiss on his ring. “As you wish,” she whispered.
With a satisfied smile he walked to the door. “I will send you a new maid in the evening. Try not to drain her before she has finished your wardrobe.”
* * *
Lacroix entered his own room where a servant girl awaited his return.
“Mademoiselle is very beautiful,” she said. “I was not sure if Monsieur required my services tonight.”
“She’s my daughter,” Lacroix mumbled absently while his lips sought Yvette’s mouth. She smiled in relief and laid her arms shyly around Lacroix’s neck.
Lacroix moved his attentions slowly from her lips towards her neck, while his mind lingered on his previous discussion with Janette. Oh, yes, he had not been immune to her allure, but this was the way he wanted it. He had been seeking a daughter, not a lover. After the loss of Divia, as the decades advanced, he had been lacking a daughter whom he could spoil and protect. Someone who would not dictate terms on him as Divia had done.
He usually tired of his lovers too easily so that he never contemplated bringing one across. Like this one, Yvette had been in his service for the past two nights and she was already beginning to bore him. Without the slightest tenderness, he bit into Yvette’s vein and drained her until she slumped dead in his arms.
* * *
Janette woke on the following evening as a new servant prepared her bath. She remembered Lacroix’s advice and suppressed her hunger until she was dressed. Then she could no longer restrain herself and launched herself on her prey.
As she looked up from her drained victim, she noticed that Lacroix had entered her room, regarding her with a slightly amused expression.
“I waited until she finished helping me dress,” Janette stated proudly.
“I wished you would have postponed your meal until your hair was done as well,” he remarked dryly.
“My hair?” Janette asked. “What’s wrong with my hair?”
“It’s wild and beautiful, but hardly suitable for a night at court.”
“We’re going to spend the night at court?” Janette asked excitedly.
“Now we will have to alter our plans for tonight, I’m afraid,” Lacroix curbed her enthusiasm.
“Instead, you will learn the art of mesmerizing your prey,” he announced, which caused Janette’s face to light up again.
As they stepped onto the street, Lacroix took her hand. “Focus on our bond and do as I do,” he instructed. “Imagine yourself flying.”
Janette closed her eyes and concentrated. To her utter astonishment, her feet left the ground. When she opened her eyes, she was hovering several meters in the air, her hand still enclosed in Lacroix’s.
“This is amazing,” she exclaimed.
They rose further into the sky and flew some distance. “It’s really quite simple,” Janette observed and confidently let go of Lacroix’s hand. She was very proud of herself to have accomplished flying so soon, especially after he had warned her that it might take a couple of nights to learn it.
Lacroix smiled to himself, saying, “Follow me.”
Janette followed him closely. After a short distance, he descended and touched the ground easily. As Janette tried to follow his example, she dropped like a stone from the sky, landing ungracefully in a dirty puddle.
“Merde!” she cursed as she examined her ruined clothes.
Chuckling lowly, Lacroix held out his hand, “As I said, it requires practice. Do not expect to learn it in a single night.”
Scowling, Janette accepted his hand and brushed the dirt from her skirts after he had pulled her to a standing position.
“You would do well to take my word for granted instead of trying to accomplish something on your own,” he lectured. “Besides landing gracefully, it is imperative to choose your position carefully. Make sure no mortal is within sight, or any other obstacle for that matter,” he added with a gesture towards the puddle.
Nodding, Janette followed him out of the alley onto the scarcely crowded market place. She watched as Lacroix stopped a young man, gazed into his eyes and intoned, “Suis moi!”
Without questioning, the man accompanied them back into the deserted alley. He waited with a dazed expression for further instructions.
“Focus on his heart beat,” Lacroix invited her. “Use it to bend his will. He will do anything that you want.”
Janette caught the man’s gaze. While she focused on his heart beat, his eyes widened. Then he picked up her hand, made a chivalric bow and kissed it. Delighted by her success, Janette smiled at him.
The man, however, shrank back as soon as she lost her focus. “Mon dieu!” he gasped in horror. “What are you?”
Confused, Janette turned to her master.
“Your eyes,” Lacroix answered her unspoken question. “Focus and tell him that he never saw you like this.”
“What?” Janette had difficulties concentrating while the man continued to scream.
“Kill him!” Lacroix demanded.
“But ---“ While Janette still hesitated, Lacroix reached for the man and swiftly sank his fangs into his neck, silencing him efficiently. He only took a couple of swallows before he let go and broke his neck. Then he dumped the body on the ground and reached for Janette.
“Come,” he ordered and rose with her into the sky. He landed on a nearby roof and turned to his daughter who was trembling in his arms.
“Never ever allow a mortal to expose us,” he lectured. “The rule is quite simple. If a mortal finds out what you are, try to make him forget. If this does not work, kill him.”
“But he was so nice to me,” Janette objected.
“He was nice because you told him so. Had you tasted his blood, you would have been abhorred by the thoughts he harboured about you,” Lacroix corrected her.
Janette followed his gaze down to the alley and noticed a crowd of raging mortals gathering around the body.
“Never allow yourself to become too distracted by your prey,” Lacroix continued. “Have you not noticed the approach of others that were alarmed by his screaming?”
Janette shook her head, stunned by the turn of events. One moment she had revelled in her new skills, and the next she had almost fallen prey to an angry mob. Only her master’s foresight had brought them in time to safety.
“I will try to remember that the next time,” she replied demurely.
“Very well,” Lacroix nodded and took her hand. They rose into the air and this time, Janette did not let go. She matched her speed to his as they slowed down while descending. They touched the ground smoothly, while Lacroix steadied her to keep her from staggering.
As Janette got her bearings, she noticed that they were in another alley near the river.
“Pick out your prey, hypnotize him into following you to this alley and take him,” Lacroix ordered. “It will go over more smoothly if you manage to keep your eyes from changing.”
Janette nodded. It was difficult for her to apply all the warnings that he had given her. He could be quite demanding, but she didn’t want to disappoint him.
She left the shelter of the alley and approached a man who lingered at the well in the middle of the square. He reached for her as she got close. Fighting off a wave of déjà vu, she caught his gaze and willed him to follow her. To her relief, his grip on her lessened as he limped after her.
“He’s disgusting,” Janette remarked as she reached Lacroix. For a moment she regarded her victim with a look of distaste, then she sighed and bit deeply into the man’s neck. She shuddered as she dropped the body to the ground and cleaned her lips with her sleeve.
“Why did you pick him if he didn’t meet your approval?” Lacroix asked. “The most easily available meal is not always the best choice. In time you will learn to pick your prey more carefully. The hunt provides a certain challenge and seducing the prey before the kill adds to the overall experience. Sometimes it’s worth drawing out the kill in order to increase the anticipation. But this requires an amount of control that is still lacking at your age.”
Janette listened in fascination to his voice. It sounded so seductive when he talked about killing. She wondered how many women had succumbed to his deadly caress.
“Tomorrow we will dine at court. I am certain you will find the food more appealing,” Lacroix interrupted her thoughts. With a gesture towards the body, he added, “Dispose him into the Seine.”
Janette picked up the body and followed as her master rose into the air. When she saw the dark river beneath her, she dropped the body into the water.
* * *
Janette stared in awe into the mirror. Her new maid had accomplished a miracle with her hair by weaving threads of gold into her dark curls that were partly covered with an embroidered bonnet. She jumped slightly as she felt a hand on her shoulder, noting that Lacroix was standing behind her.
“Now there’s a sight to be proud of, don’t you agree?” he purred. “My beautiful daughter...”
“Why me?” she asked the question that had been occupying her mind for some time now.
“Hm?” he queried, while his mind had obviously lingered on the past.
“Why did you pick me?” she asked again.
Instead of a reply, he offered her his arm. “The carriage is waiting to take us to the castle,” he informed her.
Janette accepted his evasion for now, yet the question remained. What had he seen in her that caused him to bring her across instead of simply killing her as he had undoubtedly done with many others before her?
* * *
Janette was slightly overwhelmed by the crowd that had gathered in the castle. She was glad about Lacroix’s strong hold on her arm, afraid that she might do a wrong step while all eyes lingered on her. They approached the end of a long hall where a middle aged woman sat on a throne.
“Lucien! We have been missing your presence for these past evenings,” she scolded and held out her hand.
“Adelaide,” Lacroix breathed and bowed elegantly over her hand. “May I present my ward, Janette duCharme?”
“Quel magnifique!” the queen exclaimed, while Janette sank gracefully into a deep curtsey.
“Charming,” a male voice said admiringly. “May I hope to open the dance with you?”
“I --,” Janette began, realizing that she would probably now be exposed as an uneducated and imposturous woman who had no business at court.
“My ward will be honoured to reserve the first dance for you, Robert,” Lacroix cut her off.
With another bow, he retreated from the throne, drawing Janette with him.
“When the co-regent invites you to dance, you accept the honour without questioning,” he lectured in a low voice. “Anything else would be an affront.”
“But I don’t know how to dance,” Janette objected, clearly panicked.
“That is easy to accomplish,” Lacroix soothed her.
“Perhaps you should have thought of dancing lessons before you dragged me to this place. I will embarrass you in this society where I don’t belong.”
“Are you questioning my judgement?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. He scanned the crowd until his eyes settled on a slender girl. “There is someone I want you to meet. Wait here until I have pursued her for a walk, and follow us into the garden.”
Janette watched as he approached the girl and whispered something into her ear. Smiling, she took his arm and accompanied him towards the garden. As they passed Janette, Lacroix nodded at her imperceptibly, ordering her to follow.
“Odette is quite adept in the art of dancing,” Lacroix told her as Janette met him in a secluded spot. “She will be an exquisite tutor.”
Janette stared at the girl that was hardly taking notice of her surroundings, seemingly completely under Lacroix’s spell.
“You want her to show me the steps here?” Janette asked.
“No,” Lacroix chuckled. Then he used his thumb nail to injure Odette’s neck. “Taste her,” he offered in a compelling voice, shoving her gently towards Janette. “Focus on her skills, make them your own...”
Janette closed her mouth over the wound and drew in several mouthfuls. She was already used to the images that started as soon as the blood touched her tongue. After her immediate hunger had abated, she was able to focus on the information revealed in Odette’s blood. As she touched upon her dancing skills, Janette became confident that she was capable of repeating the steps herself. But there was more in the blood. She tasted a deep desire for her master. The girl had obviously followed him into the garden, expecting a romantic encounter. Startled by this unexpected piece of intimacy, Janette looked up at her master who merely shrugged while he licked the spilled blood from his thumb.
“She was in love with you,” she observed.
“So?” he remarked without compassion, causing Janette to shiver inwardly. “I believe the co-regent is awaiting your return. I will follow shortly.”
Slightly disturbed, Janette returned into the castle while Lacroix disposed of the body. The young woman had been sacrificed because Lacroix considered it more important for Janette to acquire the art of dancing than to indulge Odette’s romantic fantasy. Janette had learned to pay close attention to Lacroix’s lessons, and this had been a lesson that went beyond dancing. When she had discovered more in Odette’s blood, then this was exactly what Lacroix had intended, because he did nothing without ulterior purpose. The girl had served as an unspoken reminder not to develop any romantic feelings for him. He had made it clear on the second evening that such feelings would not be returned. He saw a daughter in her and as such she might find a place in his heart if she did not disappoint him. Yet, Janette couldn’t avoid feeling sorry for Odette. Would she be as easily discarded if Lacroix found someone else whom he valued more?
As soon as Janette entered the throne room, Robert hurried towards her.
“I was worried you would bereave me of this dance,” he said and took her hand.
“I wouldn’t dare,” Janette returned.
He led her onto the dance floor and nodded to the musicians who commenced playing. Janette suppressed her nervousness and noted with relief that Lacroix had returned as well. Taking a deep breath, she began to move. After the first hesitant steps, she grew confident and enjoyed the dance.
Finding all eyes on the pair, Janette sought out her master, who gazed at her proudly.
“You dance like a goddess,” Robert observed as he led her back to Lacroix. “May I hope for an encore?”
“Oui, bien sûr,” she responded flattered.
“You did well,” Lacroix approved. “All eyes have been watching you.”
“I noticed,” Janette said, looking around. Suddenly she froze as she found a pair of brown eyes lingering on her longer than was appropriate.
“What is it?” Lacroix inquired, sensing her discomfort.
“That man over there. He’s one of Daviau’s customers. He will recognize me,” Janette said, trembling.
Lacroix followed her gaze and took in the man who was about to ruin an evening that had begun so promising. He was determined that this man wouldn’t survive this night for the mere reason that he was upsetting his daughter.
“The king’s bailiff. He may note a resemblance, but he wouldn’t dare to address you as a whore,” he said soothingly.
“He has violent tendencies,” Janette recalled with a shudder. “I hated him, but Daviau always sent him to me.”
“Here’s your opportunity for revenge,” Lacroix whispered persuasively into her ear. “Remember, without your permission, no mere mortal will ever dare touch you again.”
Janette took a calming breath and fortified herself as the bailiff approached her.
“Excuse me,” he said in a nasal voice. “You do look familiar. Have we met before?”
“I highly doubt that,” Lacroix replied. “My daughter arrived only recently in Paris.”
“She’s your daughter?” the man asked, obviously surprised. “May I be so bold and ask for a dance?”
Janette regarded the man in front of her. She was no longer afraid of him. Confidently, she cast him an alluring smile and said, “I’m still a bit exhausted from the previous dance. Would you agree to walk with me in the garden instead?”
“I’d be delighted,” he agreed and offered his arm.
Janette exchanged a glance with Lacroix before accompanying the bailiff towards the garden.
Lacroix smiled to himself. His daughter learned quickly. Casually, he sauntered after the couple.
* * *
Janette allowed the bailiff to lead her a distance into the garden. Behind high hedges, he turned towards her.
“You have no idea about the nature of feelings your mere sight evokes in me,” he said with a leering gaze on her bodice.
Janette evaded him as he leaned forward, intent on stealing a kiss.
“Are you telling me that you desire me, monsieur?” she asked.
“You can’t imagine how much,” he breathed.
Moving behind him, Janette leaned forward and whispered into his ear, ”Be careful what you desire, monsieur.” Then she bit fiercely into his neck.
The bailiff cried out in pleasure as he felt the sharp pain in his neck. But his delight turned to instant horror as he felt himself captured by strong inhuman arms.
Janette revelled in the fear she tasted in her victim. She took her time, draining him slowly, hoping the experience would be as painful for him as possible.
“That was delicious,” she sighed after the heart had stopped. Her eyes still had a golden hue as she looked up into Lacroix’s face. Her master had watched his daughter feeding with delight, enjoying the sensations that reached him across the link. Now he reached out and brushed a lingering drop of blood from Janette’s lips.
“I’m pleased that you enjoyed your meal,” he said and licked his finger clean.
“Janette?” someone called from the gate to the garden.
“It appears your suitor is looking for you,” Lacroix remarked. “Go and join him. I will take care of this.”
“Is everything all right here?” the co-regent asked after Janette had met him on the main walkway. “I’ve seen you leaving with Bois-Gilbert and I was beginning to worry.”
“I’m fine,” Janette assured him quickly. “Thank you for your concern.”
Robert looked around and asked, “But where is Bois-Gilbert?”
Just as Janette was beginning to become increasingly nervous, she felt a calming hand on her shoulder. She relaxed instantly as Lacroix caught Robert’s gaze and ordered in a low voice, “You have not seen Bois-Gilbert leaving with Janette. Return to the banquet room. Janette will join you shortly.”
Robert turned instantly and walked with a dazed expression towards the castle.
“This is what you do in a case like this,” Lacroix breathed. “Shall we?”
Janette nodded and took his arm as they returned to the festivities.
* * *
“Isn’t your wife going to be jealous?” Janette asked after Robert had engaged her for a third dance.
“Suzanne has to get used to the idea,” Robert shrugged. “We’re going to be separated soon.”
“Are you not in love with her?” Janette asked, surprised.
“I like her, but she failed to produce an heir these past six years. My father is currently at the court of Bourgogne to negotiate a union with the king’s daughter Bertha.”
Janette stopped in mid-movement. “What will happen to Suzanne?”
“She will be removed to Flanders.” Noting Janette’s angry glare, Robert continued, “Why so upset? She won’t be lacking any of the amenities she has here at court. All that is required of her is that she continues her life with discretion. I cannot afford to remain without heir.”
“Has it never occurred to you that you may be to blame instead of her?” Janette hollered. “Men! It’s always the easiest way to discard the woman and seek a new marriage. You disgust me!”
She fiercely pulled away from Robert and fled towards the garden.
“Arrest her! She has insulted the co-regent!” she heard shouts from the banquet room. Before she reached the bottom of the stairs leading to the garden, she was grabbed by strong arms and swept from the ground.
“Have you lost your mind?” her master hissed angrily into her ear.
A moment later they touched down in front of their home.
“Pack your belongings. We’re leaving within the hour,” Lacroix instructed.
“Why? Where are we going?” Janette asked.
“We can’t have the king’s guard barge in here during the day. If we leave instantly, we can reach Chartres before dawn. Hurry!”
Stunned by his urgency, Janette nodded and rushed into her room. She changed into a travel gown and placed the discarded robe along with her other gowns that had arrived from the tailor into a trunk. Then she swept her combs and brushes from the dresser and fetched the bath oils. Looking around the room, she sighed. It had been the first place where she had felt at home. Now she was forced to leave it due to her own folly.
* * *
Lacroix closed the door to his room and pulled out his travel trunk. He was used to moving on quickly. He had been forced to leave in a hurry on many occasions, but none ever remotely resembled the current circumstances. Although he felt clearly inconvenienced by the sudden departure, he had gained one certainty tonight. His daughter had quite a temper. Eternity would not be boring at her side. He had chosen well.
Lacroix frowned at the irony. He had told her that he would harbour none but paternal feelings for her, and yet he had chosen her for her remote resemblance to Selene, his lover from his mortal days.
“... But emptiness in one does not necessarily lead to liberty in the other...” he breathed thoughtfully into the microphone. “Liberty is an illusion, mes amis, as long as the heart remains captivated...”
He switched off the equipment and stepped out of the broadcast booth. Not in the mood to spend time in the club, he moved to the back door, intent on taking a walk through the night in order to clear his mind.
As he opened the door, he stopped in his tracks, finding himself face to face with Janette. He took in her appearance which was as beautiful as ever. He felt a feint connection to her that marked her as Nicholas’ child. But it was no comparison to the bond they had shared before.
“Is this still a place for the strays?” Janette asked.
“Is that how you feel, astray?” he inquired.
“I feel forsaken,” she admitted.
“You’re not...” he breathed and held out his hand. “I promised you eternity at my side...”
As mesmerized as she had been that first night, Janette allowed him to draw her towards him. Yet, this time, Lacroix did not bite her neck, but claimed her lips instead.
Janette responded passionately to his kiss, as a millennium of pent up emotions found release. She clung to him as he carried her into his bedroom, always fearing that she might be rejected again.
But as soon as her back touched the mattress, she realized that her fears had been unfounded as Lacroix seemed to be as hungry for her as she had been for him.
* * *
Lacroix watched the sleeping woman at his side. She would always belong to him. Their bond was strong now after hours of passionate blood sharing. However, it was no longer the familial bond between master and child.
As she opened her eyes, he bent down to kiss her lips again. “It seems I’ve lost a daughter and gained a lover,” he observed. “Plus ça change, Janette. Plus ça change...”
Hugh Capet was the first King of France (987-996) of the Capetian dynasty. He was married to Adelaide d’Aquitaine. Soon after his coronation, he had his son Robert (Robert II of France, aka Robert the Pious) crowned as co-regent in order to secure the succession. Robert divorced his first wife Suzanne for lack of children. He married his cousin Bertha, daughter of the King of Bourgogne. The Pope, however, refused to sanction the marriage for reasons of cosanguinity, and Robert was excommunicated in consequence. When Bertha also failed to produce children, the marriage was annulled and Robert married a third time, Constance d’Arles, with whom he had children.
“Les reines de France” by Patrick Weber (2006)
“Medieval Lives” by Terry Jones & Alan Ereira (2006)
Forever Knight and its characters were created by Barney Cohen and James D. Parriott and are copyright to Sony/Tristar. None of the characters in this story belongs to me. I'm just borrowing them temporarily. No infringement intended. No profit is being made.
Special thanks go to waltd for beta-reading, to Tina for providing literature on medieval France, to greerwatson and Doris for helping out with French phrases, to merfilly for the inspiring prompt, and to the moderators of fkficfest (brightknightie and amilyn) for creating the opportunity to write this story.