Disclaimer: I don't own these wild characters but season 5 would have been glorious in the French court. Long live our Queen Catherine and her delectable arm candy, Narcisse :)
Chapter 1: The Demons We're Made Of
Catherine was stunned by what the witch Emmanuelle revealed to her.
"They will make you their scapegoat. Your name vilified for all time."Her head was pounded with whatever that witch gave her. Why does this keep on happening? Her thoughts are far more painful than the physical pain.
"You're asking me to sacrifice my sons for myself. Oh, but I have always put my children first. I've done terrible things! I've always done it for their good!" Always them before me. I've never placed myself first.
"But are they worth it? Francis was…" The witch continued to taunt her. Everything became muted after she heard her son's name. Francis, my golden child.
In her younger years, especially at the start of her marriage with the dauphin, all she ever wanted was to have an heir, to save herself, to survive. But everything has changed when she gave birth to her savior. She devoted all her energy and time into caring for her firstborn son. She promised her fierce loyalty to the family she was about to build.
That royal family turned out to be not the most ideal kind, as Henri made that very possible, but it is a family she created and will protect until her last breath.
But the circumstances are now turning against her promise that her heart is breaking simultaneously with her head being assaulted in waves by the drug she just recently, unwantedly ingested. Her trance with the current predicament was dissolved when the witch gave her the only option a devil could offer.
"The key to your survival, should you choose it, is your daughter. Margot. Blood will flow but it won't be yours if you have Margot at your side."
Margot? My youngest daughter? Why her? Why should I believe this devil? Catherine intently looked at the witch as she held her cold façade facing the window. The full moon shining brightly at her face as she rubbed the growing child inside of her. This is ridiculous. Catherine thought as she closed her eyes trying to find her balance. When she opened her eyes to inquire more, the witch was gone.
Just a few steps from Catherine and where the witch was a moment ago, stood Stéphane Narcisse by the dark corner of the corridor. He heard everything. I can't be seriously fathering an anti-Christ of sorts through a witch and Catherine!? His thoughts were shouting at him while hitting him in waves, as the obvious effect of the drug the witch gave them. He closed his eyes and tried to recall how he got where he is at the moment.
He can't believe that an amazing threesome could lead to the most disastrous thing he could ever experience. Once Catherine told him to get away from the witch, he ran to the banquet hall and tried to calm himself and shake off the recent events from his very being.
He didn't know how long he was just standing, drinking water at the gathering when his eyes landed on a very dazed Catherine. He saw her going to her sons. He didn't understand what they were talking about but clearly, the King and the Prince want nothing good from their mother.
Catherine looked very displeased, confused, and hurt at the same time. Then slowly turned away as her sons dismissed her. Stéphane followed his lover as she exited the hall. Seeing you hurt every time wants me to immediately care for you even if it's against my will.
For some reason, Stéphane always finds Catherine in her extreme states. Her wrath can move heaven and earth if it pleases her. Her passion for power and control, especially in their sexcapades, can make her the most irresistible being in his world. Her vulnerability can be the most endearing thing he holds so close to his heart.
Going back to the task at hand, he did his best not to trip and fall as he wobbly walked towards her. In a split second, Catherine ran like the wind towards what he thought was a shadow of sorts. He massaged his temporal area and tried his best to follow Catherine.
And now, I'm stuck here. As his mind came back to the present and as he held on to a column to keep his balance, a loud heavy alarming breathing that isn't his invaded the surroundings. The sound made him open his eyes. Catherine.
He squinted his eyes trying to find her from where she stood. He saw no figure. Stéphane finally stepped out to the light and located her. She was kneeling, her head on the floor, breathing heavily by the second. He managed to run to her despite the drug also affecting his every nerve.
"Catherine, are you alright?" He sounded so anxious and it didn't help that she didn't reply. He tried to loosen all her garments without rendering her indecently. Pure adrenaline helped Stéphane lift Catherine, bridal-style. He heard a little whimper of protest from her under the heavy breathing. He knows that she doesn't want anyone helping her and knowing what happened to them.
"I know, Catherine. But the drug is way ahead of us now and probably soon I'll be in the state that you are in. Please, don't try to argue and just breathe for me." He was pleading for her to live.I can't lose you too, Catherine. You're all I have left.
"Guards!" He shouted with all his might. He thanked the heavens for the acoustic of the corridor. He only managed long strides instead of a run towards the end of what felt like the longest alley he had ever walked on.
At the end were the guards who heard the call. As much as he doesn't want any man touching Catherine, especially with her loosened gown, he had no choice but to give her to one of them. He ordered one of them to support him as his balance was dwindling, then he ordered the other to fetch the court physician and Catherine's servants.
"Do all my orders discreetly or I'll have your heads otherwise. Am I understood?!" He eyed the three men and all of them nodded in fear. The one tasked with fetching people ran like a speeding arrow upon his last word.
"We'll take her to her chambers. And…" He was cut off by Catherine. For some reason, Catherine found the strength to dart a more fearful eye at Stéphane and shook her head in disagreement. She nearly fainted with her exhaustion. Then it clicked to him. Of course, you do not want to go back to where this all started.
"Wait, no. Not her chambers. We'll take her to my chambers carefully. We'll take the dark halls to the South Keep. It is quicker but most especially you should never let any soul see you. You will have to go first as we can't be seen together." The guard nodded.
Narcisse swung the guard's cape on her to serve as cover and whispered to her "Just try to relax so you can breathe better. I'm at a safe distance behind you" He held her hand briefly for her assurance. All these happened so quickly that Stéphane just now realized they were already walking once he barked the orders.
He was behind but not too close and it alarmed him that he can still hear her labored breathing. Just as they were a corner away from his room, a couple of drunk idiots decided to walk the same path. The guard holding Catherine looked behind and Narcisse darted at the dark area, praying no one will see or hear them.
We're almost there, Catherine. Please hang on. I need you to live. As the coast was clear, they finally made it to his chambers. The guards in front of his door gave the guard holding Catherine a questioning look.
"Open the doors, NOW!" As they finally heard their master, they followed and quickly brought Catherine to Stéphane's bed. Then Stéphane realized he didn't hear the labored breathing ever since the passers-by came to halt their pace. He thought Catherine managed to silence herself because she knows they can't be heard.
"Oh no. Catherine!?" She passed out about a few minutes ago. Her hands were cold and her mouth was starting to darken. He listened to her heartbeat, he was grateful that there was still something he heard but it was becoming slow and her breath was becoming shallow. Please God, not like this. He prayed that what he was going to do will save her.
"Get me a tubing and warm water, QUICKLY! GET THE PHYSICIAN NOW!" He barked at the servants that arrived. He ran towards the fireplace to gather charcoal. He has done this before when a friend of Charles overdosed with opium. He was not sure what drug that Emmanuelle had given them but he was going to do whatever to not lose Catherine again.
He crushed the charcoal, mixed it with the water the servants promptly brought. He connected a tubing to the end of a goblet making a funnel and ran back to Catherine with the charcoal solution.
"Prop her up and hold her head straight, making her face the ceiling." The servants followed as Stéphane placed the end of the tubing in her mouth. They were also nervous about what was happening but no one dared question their master's actions. He placed the solution at the other end and let it enter Catherine as gentle as he could manage.
After a few moments of continuous administration of the charcoal solution, Catherine finally vomited. Thank God. He sent a grateful prayer to the heavens. Her colors slowly came back. "Catherine, can you hear me?" He was now sitting by her side as he gave the saving device to the servant that previously occupied his current position.
Catherine didn't answer and continued to vomit. Stéphane massaged her back as the onslaught of reaction to the solution kept on overwhelming her fragile body. She wanted it to stop and her look at Narcisse pleaded like a baby who just wants to sleep. Stéphane felt a tugged in his heartstrings as he witnessed Catherine suffer. As much as he wanted this to end too, he knows Catherine needs to keep vomiting to release her body from the toxin that almost caused her life.
"I know. I don't want you suffering like this either. But we both know you need to vomit some more, Catherine. Please, my dear. This will be over soon, I promise." He held her hands firmly, brought it to his lips, showing his care for the Queen Mother and caring less for the crowd around them. With that, Catherine vomited some more and the servants just kept cleaning every mess.
Finally, the physician has arrived and Narcisse ordered everyone to leave. "You, prepare a bath, something to eat for us, and fetch the nightgown of the queen. After the physician has finished tending on her, change the linens of the bed and we shall not be disturbed under any circumstances unless urgent." He was stern and tired with the night's events but he didn't forget the most important order.
"All of you, no word will get out about what happened tonight. Not even to the King and Prince of France. If I learn that any of you have disobeyed me, best believe it, your lives will never be good for any of you or your families. Am I clear?"
The Lord Chancellor commanded the room's attention including Catherine who was still so weak and internally thanked him for saving her. Every servant, guard, even the physician, nodded in unison. They all went to their respective task and left the lovers with the physician.
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, My Lord, may I ask everything that had happened?" The physician inquired cautiously. As much as Catherine wants to explain, she was too weak and instead rested her frail body on the bed. She looked at Narcisse who was now by his table, drinking water. Seeing Catherine with the remnants of the charcoal on her mouth, he reached for a cloth dipped in a bowl left by the bed.
"We were drugged but I think we ingested two different drugs respectively. I didn't have breathlessness like the queen. My mouth has been quick to dry for hours and my head is assaulted in waves." He sat by her side and carefully wiped her mouth clean as he talked. Catherine gently smiled at the gesture then turned to the physician's direction.
"I feel the exact headache, but my mouth never went dry. On the contrary, it felt like I'm being drowned in my drool. I would swallow every so often so that I could breathe." She uttered with all the strength she could muster.
Stéphane and the physician finally got the grasp of her symptoms. "Hence, the breathlessness. But did you feel like your throat was swelling or mainly the chest heaviness overcame you?" The physician further inquired to fully know what to give her.
"Just chest heaviness, drowning feeling to match and a whole lot of emotions" Catherine whispered, both men still managed to hear her but only Stéphane fully understood her. Your children still fill your mind even if you just almost died and they don't even know the hell you go through for them. Stéphane dare not say this truth. She's been through a lot tonight. She needs to recover from this.
The physician further examined both of them to make sure they are out of the woods. He assured Stéphane that the toxin will naturally leave his body as he will frequently pass water. Then he advised Catherine to rest and expect more headaches with occasional vomiting but of less intensity. He gave them some tonics for their similar symptoms. As he gathered his belongings, he observed his patients.
If they are not the Lord Chancellor and Queen Mother of France, one could think they are an ordinary married couple protective and in love with each other. Stéphane held Catherine's hand lovingly as he whispered words of comfort as if they were prayers. Catherine leaned on Stéphane's shoulder and closed her eyes to try to absorb all the comfort he gives her. The physician was amazed at the view.
"That was fast thinking on your part, my Lord. If you didn't act as fast as you did, we might have lost the Queen Mother." He caught both their attention but Catherine immediately shifted her attention to Stéphane as the physician acknowledged his heroic deed. Catherine squeezed his hand and whispered thank you earnestly. Stéphane smiled back and caressed her face with his free hand. Their faces were so closed as they intently look at each other. Their almost kiss was interrupted with the forgotten guest in the room.
The physician cleared his throat and addressed that he should get going when a knock on the door informed that food and bath preparations are ready to enter the room.
"Oh, that reminds me. Your Majesty, you will need to eat but only light meals for now. Should both of your symptoms become unbearable, I'll just be in the infirmary." Both acknowledged, thanked him for his service, and finally bid goodbye.
The servants started to come in upon Stéphane's command and both remained on the bed. Never did he leave Catherine's side. As much as she wants him near her, she also wants him to at least be discreet with his affections for her, especially with the servants around. But she was too weak to even protest.
"Food is here and a bath is being prepared. Would you like to eat first before you take a bath?" Stéphane was doting on her. How she missed being doted on. Catherine can't help but caressed his cheeks. So much for discretion. She reminded herself. But she could care less of the gossips. She's just thankful to be alive and be saved by him, yet again.
Stéphane returned her action with him cupping her face and kissing her forehead. He didn't care about the people around or whatever happened in their past. He is just grateful he didn't lose her. He looked at her one more time, memorizing every detail of her face.
She held his hands while still on her face, shifted her face from left to right as she kissed both his hands. Stéphane was surprised by what she did. Just hold on to me, I'll make it right this time. He internally promised to her.
She saw the shock on his face and wanted to capitalize on the moment, she just coyly answered. "As much as I'm hungry for you, I think I'm hungrier for food. And yes please, I want a bath." He sees she is regaining her energy back and smiled at her in amusement. Still a minx after everything? You are incorrigible.
He ordered the servants to leave once they have settled the necessary things in the room. Stéphane went over to the table full of food. He eyed Catherine as he pointed out what food she would want on her plate. He then went to her side and settled 2 plates of her heart's desire. A soup would do her good as the physician advised a light meal.
Catherine observed Stéphane as he stirred the soup. Are you going to feed me? As he moved a little forward with a spoonful of soup, Catherine gave him a questioning look. He just gave him an open mouth, gesturing for her to open up.
"No, I can feed myself. I'm a queen. I'm…" Stéphane interrupted her by reality.
"So stubborn and weak. Please, you can't simply hold the bowl with balance. I will let you eat your tarts on your own for they require only your beautiful hands. But this soup is going to be fed to you by me. Now, open up, my Queen." She gave him an eye roll but gave in eventually. He chuckled to her reaction and enjoyed feeding her.
I wish I could take care of you every day. He was hopeful with the moment they now share. This peace right after a demonic storm of a night was everything they never thought they'll ever get. After she finished her soup, she was excited to get her favorite raspberry tart. Catherine appreciated Stéphane's knowledge of her favorites. Well, that's the kind of demon we're made of. She countered as she reached her dessert.
Stéphane noticed her sudden change of expression. "What's the matter, Catherine?"
"I just appreciated how much you know me then realize how much I hate that fact. You always save me yet you hurt me in more ways I could muster. How do you do that?" She was so honest as she stared at her tart with an incomprehensible look. Stéphane wanted to giggle at her initial insight but the latter half was a dagger to his heart. I betrayed and left you hurting countless of times. Mostly because of your actions but it can never change the truth that I have harmed you. I'm truly sorry, Catherine.
As he was about to verbalize his thoughts, Catherine held his hand firm look through his soul. "You don't need to answer now. I just want to eat my tart in peace." Without letting go of their locked eyes or his hand, she bit on her favorite dessert with her free hand.
Hello! Literally squeezed this one out of my brain amidst a very busy 'cause I needed an escape like these two. Who likes bath time in the next chapter? Definitely these two. Thank you so much for reading! Can't wait for your reviews :)