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The Tale of the Dancing Cavalier

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Lady Yvonne, the second most important lady in France, was depressed, even when she was in the Palace of Versailles, considered the most beautiful palace in the world. When asked why by her close friend Theresa as all the Queen's ladies-in-waiting walked the famed gardens, she was frank.

"I am already engaged to a man, the Baron de Landsfield and I can't stand him" she declared.

Her friend Theresa looked confused. "Why not, my lady? All the ladies would love to be in your pretty shoes."

"He likes men," she said flatly. Upon seeing Theresa's horrified look, she hastily added, "And I love someone else. Pierre de Battaile."

Her friend still looked horrified. "My lady, could you not be mistaken? Such a beautiful man, so rich and close to the crown-"

Her voice was wry. "Perhaps too beautiful."

The implications of that statement caused many of the ladies attending her to go faint, which made her left quite alone, as she wished, to think of her love.

***

She had been passing the time in the garden when she heard something loudly fall to the ground from nearby. She gasped and turned, only to find her Pierre frowning at the ground before moving to greet her.

“Pierre, what was that sound?”

Pierre grinned ruefully. “That was me dropping my cane, love. Nothing to worry about.”

“What is your cane made of?” she said dubiously.

Pierre laughed.

She tried to remember what she was supposed to say to him. “Pierre, you shouldn’t have come!”

“How could I stay away? Tis Cupid’s arrow that smote me, that I will always come to worship your beauty.”

Her eyes rose even as her heart fluttered at his words. Pierre seemed to have improved his romantic lines. She rose to the occasion also.

“Oh, Pierre, if we are caught tonight-“ Teasingly she rapped him on the shoulder with her fan, only to gasp when he crumpled to the ground.

"Pierre, are you all right?"

He got up slowly, a rueful look on his face. "Ah, my love, I was but caught unaware by the unexpected sturdiness of your fan."

She examined it critically. She didn't think he had hit him that strongly. She decided not to think about it, content to look in her lover’s eyes.

He started kissing her hand then moved up her arm. "I love you, I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you-"

So much for improving on his romantic lines, she thought. "That's a lot of love," she said wryly. "Can you not say anything else, something more romantic?"

He deflated, lips pausing over her elbow.

She smiled and placed her hand under his chin to look at him properly. "I love you, Pierre. Even if you don't have much imagination with your romantic lines."

“I will improve, my lady” he promised as he brushed a kiss to her cheek, before he left.

***

Pierre had gone away to manage his lands and meet with an old friend and Lady Yvonne was bereft at this ball the Queen had hosted. She was just thankful that her fiancé had not been able to make an appearance either, by his note delivered to her door. She had a feeling her fiance’s absence had much to do with the arrival of one of the more famous lieutenants, currently resting in his rooms.

"While the one I've chosen for you is away, Lady Yvonne, it would please me if you would show me your fine dancing with any of these men."

She curtsied to her queen, though her head was spinning with consideration. She could hardly dare ask a man, not to mention the man she truly wanted to dance with could not be there.

"Would my lady honor me with a dance?"

Her eyebrow rose. He was no Pierre and definitely nothing compared to her betrothed, but he certainly was bold.

She held out her hand, only wishing Pierre and his bad romantic lines could save her from this dull night.

***

After one had come more to dance with her; after many dances she retired to the gardens to rest and think of more pleasant things.

"Oh, Pierre" she breathed. "What I wouldn't give to hear your bad songs and romantic lines."

She remembered the last bit of poetry he had given her and winced. Rhyming her name with a most needed loan was not something she would ever show her ladies-in-waiting.

"My lady, whatever could you be doing here alone?" The moonlight illuminated the face of the man that had interrupted her thoughts - she recognized him as the man who had first asked her to dance that night.

"I have been thinking, dear Sir."

"Of your fiance?"

She could hardly say she hadn't been, given where she had been found.

"Or of your lover?"

Her gasp was stifled by a cloth covering her nose scented with something she could not name; she fell into darkness.

Distantly in her dreams, she heard the man's voice:

 

The villain I am,

The villain am I,

I've taken the lady,

I've beaten the knight

 

"Pierre isn't a knight," she thought woozily. "And my luck to be abducted by a superbly awful singer."

***

"Yvonne has been taken by the Rogue Noir of the Purple Terror" he read disbelievingly. "Oh, my love! Oh, my sword!

 

My lady, my love,

I love, my love is gone,

My wrecked morn-

 

He broke off mid-jump, crashing into a quiche the servant had also brought with him for his breakfast. "I can't sing and dance right now, I must save her!" He ran out of the room quickly, clothes stained with quiche, a sword in his belt.

The servant who had delivered the letter and the quiche shared a glance with his friend who had been with him at the time.

"Exquisite jump, had he not stopped singing," said the friend. "Shame about the quiche."

The servant bowed and removed the offending object.

***

Yvonne awoke to find herself in a well-furnished room, with breakfast foods about. She was carefully reaching for one of the long loaves when the door opened. The man who had clearly abducted her was there, forcing her to stand up and looking in her eyes.

“Why have you abducted me?”

“Why would a Rogue abduct a lady?” he grinned wolfishly.

She was outraged. “You dare-“

“And hiding a lover from the queen and your fiance, even if he is a pouf, isn’t?”

“Obviously you are-“ she broke off, wondering what else she could say other than ‘a horrible man’ but decided to just say it, “a horrible man.”

“The Rogue Noir, at your service” he said while bowing mockingly.

 

The Rogue, dressed in Noir,

Scandalous yet quite-

 

He really had a horrible voice. And he desperately needed a songwriter.

“So have I been ransomed?” she demanded.

“Of course,” he said. “But not to the Queen or your family or fiancé. I sent a letter to your lover, not that he will make it here. Once he is dead, there will be no need to refuse me, for you have no honor left if you are found with me” he said heatedly, his arms pulling her close.

“You lie; Pierre will save me!” she cried, trying to wrench herself away from the horrid man who had abducted her. Alas, he was too strong, his voice firm as he told her that her lover was too far away to stop him, and she found herself overwhelmed by his kiss, an unwanted yet passionate one that made her forget for a moment that he was evil until she did. Horrified, she bit his lip to stop him but he was triumphant as he said "Yes, yes, yes!"

She wondered if it would be ladylike to spit. She decided not to, she would be a lady even if this pirate was no gentleman. She settled for contradicting him.

"No, no, no!"

“Yes, yes, yes!”

“No, no, no!”

“Yes, yes, yes!”

“Yes, yes, yes!!”

She blinked. She had said the wrong thing. Oh dear.

His eyes gleamed with triumph. “Dare I say you enjoyed my kiss, Mademoiselle?”

She found her fan and hit his head with it. “No, you just confused me. Pierre will save me, I know he will.”

He took her fan away, tossing it across the room. "None of that, my lady. You will see reason when your love does not come. I have twenty men guarding this door; he will be dead long before all of them." His pinky finger extended, he opened his mouth.

 

The villain am I,

The villain I am-

 

She grabbed the long loaf of bread she had been eyeing before the wretched man had come in and hit him with it once, twice.

He just stared at her, bread crumbs in his hair.

"Can you do your gloating without the singing?" she said primly.

***

Pierre had reached the Rogue Noir's lair and had started defeating his men. His endurance was flagging by the fifteenth man, so he decided gravely to use his secret weapon to make the fights go faster.

 

I am the Dancing Cavalier,

the best in dancing and singing,

love and justice are mine to protect,

Soon you all will be sleeping-

 

The man he was fighting looked pained. "Will you not sing?" Pierre then heard him mutter, "Almost as bad as the Rogue Noir in composing, though much better a voice."

"All's fair in love and war," said Pierre while executing a jump as graceful as could be, his shoe flying off his foot and into another man's head and knocking him out. His next move was off with his established beat but effective nonetheless, smashing the hilt of his sword into the man's head and knocking him out cold.

Pleased, he allowed himself two lines of a song.

 

I am the Dancing Cavalier,

About to win what should be won-

 

And he was off to the next room.

***

Finally, he had reached the last room of the Rogue Noir's lair, though why a pirate's lair was not his pirate ship was beyond his comprehension.

He flung the door open dramatically to find his Yvonne clutching a baguette, slightly battered, and the Rogue Noir, covered in breadcrumbs and sulking in a corner.

"Scoundrel! Will you release Yvonne to me and get thee gone?”

“Never!” cried the Rogue Noir, dramatically turning around, brushing the breadcrumbs off. “She is mine, Dancing Cavalier!” Yvonne's heart gladdened to see her love, even though he was covered in what seemed to be blood.

"Then so be it, I will fight for my lady! En garde!" He then executed what seemed to be very complicated footwork, nothing Yvonne had seen before while singing an obviously self-composed song. Even with his fine tenor voice the song was unsalvageable.

 

I am the Dancing Cavalier,

the most skilled swordsman of the highest tier,

great defender of justice, love and truth,

even as I dance in my boots!

 

Clearly the Rogue Noir had not either, as the pirate stared at him like he was mad. So as much as the man liked to gloat by singing, he did it without dancing or any footwork whatsoever. Maybe rhyming 'truth' with 'boots' was a bit too much.

“Are you not going to battle me?” said Pierre. "En garde!"

“Battle, yes. With swords. Not dancing and singing,” said the Rogue Noir.

“I’ll cut out the singing,” Pierre said cheerfully. “But the dancing, well, swordfight’s a dance in itself, if one is a master.”

“Yes,” said the Rogue Noir, frustrated as he drew his own sword. “But the minuet is not a typical sword move.”

***

"You add dancing moves to your fencing?" she asked as they walked away, the Rogue Noir and his goons finally subdued and surrendered to the authorities.

"That's why they call me the Dancing Cavalier, my dear" he said cheerfully. “Singing and Dancing Cavalier was too long, and some of the people I fight complain about the singing so I don’t mind it being dropped from the title.”

"And here I thought it was because you were just good at dancing, like you were at the ball we first met."

"That too," he agreed.

"Twirling him about before delivering the killing blow seemed a bit much," she said as she ran into his arms.

"They never expect it then," he said. “My lady, if I were to kiss you, would you kiss me back?”

“We’d be lip to lip, Pierre, so undoubtedly so” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “Always, Pierre.”

“Then I am yours,” he said with his own twinkling eyes.

“Then I am yours,” she replied as she kissed him deeply. “But we have to talk to the queen first, have her approve the end of my engagement” she said carefully. “Do you have any more dance moves that you can pull out?”

“For the Queen, it will be a magnificent performance beyond your wildest dreams, my love.”

"Let's look for a songwriter first."

"If thou wishes, my love."

 

I love, I love you, Yvonne,

I love like I do-

 

She hugged him warmly. When they would be married she would hire a permanent songwriter.