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Innocent Blanc

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May, 1797. 

Streaks of sunshine painted over the soft blankets, creeping up to warm the person who was curled up underneath.  Their pale-blond hair was longer now, and covered the bed like streaks of gold.  Feeling the sun hit their eyes, the owner known as Zero Sanson groaned as they sat up from bed. Rubbing the sleep from their bright eyes, Zero whined as they stretched their arms overhead. Finally adjusted to the light, Zero stood up from bed and padded towards the nearby window to open up the curtains.  As they relished in the warmth, Zero opened the window completely and the warm spring breeze welcomed the child.  Zero surveyed the landscape of Reims, from the little houses below to the church that watched over the town beneath the blue sky. Zero could never get tired of such a picturesque scene!

Zero closed their eyes and smiled as they drank in the sounds of the people, the wind and the birds.

It was time to start a new day.

----

“Bonjour, papa!” Zero said, giving Jean-Louis Sanson  a peck on the cheek before they dove a hand right to the basket of freshly-baked financiers.

“Bonjour to you as well!” Jean-Louis chuckled, amused at Zero’s appetite; evidence that they were truly his child. Jean-Louis was dressed for the day in the latest fashions, including the beaded necklace with the skull of the goofy little monkey whom Jean-Louis grew fond of before the creature’s passing.  Zero was still in their white muslin morning robe and nightgown, with their hair tied in a low ponytail with a matching white ribbon, as well as soft slippers.

Unaware of their father, Zero quickly realized that the pastry was still hot between their fingers, and they immediately dropped it on the plate in front of them, waving their lightly burned hand to cool off the pain. After they were seated next to their father and were served a cup of coffee, Zero began to eat their pastry alongside a small plate of fruits.  Jean himself just started breaking fast himself when Zero greeted him.

Breakfasts were always like this for the past couple of years, but there was always a shadow of emptiness that hung over the two.  In a perfect world, there would be three people sharing a meal: Her sun-blonde hair would be unconventional as always, like a lion’s mane, and perhaps her undershirt would be shamelessly open enough to show some of her chest.  She’d talk about the politics of the day and note how much Zero has grown up so quickly, too.  The atmosphere would’ve been warm and cozy; yes, just the three of them....

“Papa? You’re thinking about Marie again, right?”

Jean-Louis jolted at the sound of Zero’s voice, and noticed that he felt his eyes were wet with tears. Looking up from his plate, he found Zero giving him the ghost of a sad smile on their lips. Not a day went by that the child thought about their mother, even if she was miles away in a different land rather than being six feet underground.  While the memories of their early childhood were becoming hazy, they could still recall how much they loved Marie and her strength.

Jean-Louis smiled through his tears and wiped away his eyes, nodding in reply. Even now, Zero was sharp and was able to see through another person’s heart. It was no small wonder why Charles-Henri, his brother-in-law, chose Zero for the task of guiding prisoners at the tender age of 5.

As if to comfort Jean, Zero reached out to gently squeeze his hand.

----

The blade sliced through the man's neck quickly, with the head falling into the box.  The blade glistened with blood underneath the clear, blue sky.  With practiced ease, a hand gripped a mass of the convict's hair, bringing it up for all the crowd to see.  At the sight of another man dead, the crowd cheered at justice being served, like a wild beast.  Zero, who calmly stood by the guillotine now as an assistant, glanced at the man who was now the fifth Monsieur de Paris.

"The decapitation of Edgar Auclair for the crime of murdering his wife is complete!" Cried out Henri Sanson towards the cheering mob. Turning towards his younger cousin and the other assistants, Henri nodded, his face showing no hint of emotion. As befitting of an executioner.

"Please bring up the next convict up onto the execution platform."

"Oui, monsieur!"

----

Zero peeked at the kitchen entrance, eyeing the tray of pastries that was just taken out of the oven.  Glancing at the cook, who was preoccupied with other tasks, Zero snuck inside.  The pastries looked even more delicious up close, and Zero slowly reached out to grab one. The cook wouldn't noticed if just one of pastries was gone, ri-?

"You must think of a better way to pull the wool over my eyes than that, little Lord Zero."

Zero whipped their head and saw the cook standing before them, her expression being one of amusement.

"But they look so good....." Zero whined, putting their hand to their side. As if to emphasis the point, their stomach growled loudly, causing old lady Abelle to laugh.  "Alright, alright, you may have one of these before tea time. I need someone to try them and see if they taste any good, anyhow." Picking up one of the pastries, she handed it to Zero.

"Oh, but your food always taste amazing, Abelle!" Zero replied, breaking off a piece, only to notice that it had a filling of red cherries. Before it entered their mouth, another person walked in and swooped the piece from their hand.

"So this is where you were! I figured as much." Came the voice of their father, munching on the piece.

"Papa!" Zero cried out in surprise. Suddenly noticing that they were holding air, Zero glanced at their hand and at their father and put two and two together. "Hey! Zero was gonna eat that!"

Behind them, they could hear the cook stifling a chuckle.

----

The carriage rattled to a stop in front of the Jean-Louis Sanson residence and out stepped the man who once decapitated Louis Capet, along countless others. All of the sorrow that he had witnessed and went through aged him considerably to appear far older than a man of 58 years. Adjusting his top hat, Charles-Henri Sanson made his way to the entrance of the house. He, among other relatives of the Sanson family, were invited to a family gathering that night.  In a way, Charles was grateful, as he'd be just spending another night alone at his house instead.  Standing in front of the door, Charles-Henri knocked on it a couple of times.  Rather than the knock be greeted by one of the servants, Charles-Henri couldn't help but smile who greeted him instead.  There was only one person who were their hair in pigtails, with black ribbons streaming down the sides.

"Uncle Charles! You're here!"