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Golden Dawn

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Half a year had passed since Marie escaped with her servant to England, leaving everything behind for the sake of survival. It wasn’t easy, given how heavily wounded Marie was, the amount of money that was brought for travel expenses (set aside in advance when Marie told Andre of her plans about her “execution”), but they got through it all. Marie and Andre were some of of many who fled to England because of the revolution ,such as fallen aristocrats and a people who practiced the Jewish faith. Others had turned their eyes to Nouvelle France or America for freedom.

Living in the heart of London was out of the question. While the more densely populated area of England would’ve proved useful in helping the two stay low, the air and streets wouldn’t do any good for Marie’s wounds, so both master and servant now lived in a small, two story home in the countryside. The original state of the house was much like the dingy apartments that Marie lived in back when she raised Zero and worked as the bodyguard for the Jacobin Club, so she didn’t really mind the overall appearance, in contrast to Andre. Another hurdle that many migrants came across was the language barrier, which Marie wanted to remedy by learning the language in any way possible - and which also proved to be a useful distraction for those earlier days of when Marie was unable to move from her bed. Such efforts were rewarded with a better comprehension of the language, and the ability to start speaking it as well, much like when she studied with Charles-Henri as a child. Marie had always been a fast learner.

Entering Lord Marie’s room to bring in tea and food for her breakfast, Andre noticed that Marie was already sitting up in bed, book in hand. The sleeves of her nightgown shifted slightly to reveal a peak of the bandages that snaked around her body. He tried not to think much on how agonizing the first weeks were for Marie when she began rehabilitation, where she was unable to move from her bed because of how damaged her lower half was, as Andre set the tea tray down on the small desk beside her. The desk was also where the medicinal balms, gauze, and the like were stored, which made things all the more easier for when it was time to change bandages. A bathtub was also placed in Marie’s room so that she wouldn’t have difficulties moving from her room to the washroom to bathe. Hearing the sound of the door opening, Marie set her book aside.

“Took ya long enough. Were ya trying to let Marie starve?” Marie joked as she turned her head towards him, strands of her sun-bleached hair now having grown enough to reach her shoulders. Andre huffed out a chuckle and shook his head in reply as he set the tray on the desk next to her bed, which was a simple dish of fried egg, toast and bacon, along with some black tea for her beverage. Andre was lucky that a kind neighbor gave him some leftover ham. The food paled in comparison to the more lavish meals, but at least Marie was no longer stuck with the soup or porridge that was suggested to her for recuperation.

“Is there anything else that you’d like, Lord Marie?” Andre asked, moving to open the curtains of Marie’s window to let in some light.

“That’s all.” Marie replied, already cutting into the fried egg, the yolk bleeding and spreading on her plate. Andre bowed and left the door ajar in case Marie needed something else later. As he was about to go up the stairs to parse through the mail that had been received in the last week, a knock was heard on the front door.

“Lord Marie,” Andre said, returning to his master’s room, “Mademoiselle Sharon and her father have arrived earlier than planned. Shall I ask them to come back later?”

Marie looked up from her plate, not expecting one of the village kids to arrive so soon in the morning. Nonetheless, she shook her head, set her plate on the small table and sipped some of the tea to wash it all down.

“Nah. Since they’re already here, might as well do the lesson now. Bring them to the living room while I get dressed, alright?”

----

Sharon’s father, Edward, had to drop off his daughter earlier than expected because there was a sudden emergency with one of his patients in the village. However, even if that wasn’t the case, the girl would most likely beg for her father to take her there anyways. Plus, if not for Edward being a doctor, then there was no way that Marie would’ve healed as she did. A tall, stocky man with a scruffy beard, Edward thought that he had seen everything until a few neighbors mentioned to him that two men had arrived, with one of them looking worse for wear. Never ignoring an injured person, the man visited the two people, and was surprised when one of them was actually in a woman in menswear. The country doctor put aside his burning questions and gave the woman first aid, along with instructing the man, her attendant named Andre, on how to apply the balm and bandages. Rather than pressing further, Edward had decided to wait until he was given the full story by either the patient or her attendant.

At the question of payment, Edward replied that there was no need, as he was already being paid more than enough by the other villagers. Edward must’ve mentioned his daughter at some point, as he was flummoxed when Marie proposed that his daughter be her first student as her form of “repaying” him. It was ideal, and now Edward no longer had to worry about his daughter, even if some city relatives would’ve preferred otherwise.

The one and a half hour lesson flew by quickly, finished off with learning about internal anatomy. If one of Marie’s other students immediately got bored in the first 10 minutes, she had to come up with a far more creative strategy to get their attention. Fortunately, Sharon was practically absorbing everything like a sponge, and was observant. It most cases, it was a blessing.

But in this case, one can call it a curse.

Ever since she met the woman when giving her extra bandages and balms, Sharon had noticed the peeks of white gauze that always wrapped around Marie’s neck and wrists. Many scenarios came to mind on how the woman could’ve gotten such wounds, recalling how she once helped her father with a patient who arrived with a slashed throat. Whatever Marie went through, it was much more than a gash along the jugular.

“Why do you always wear those bandages, Marie?” Sharon asked, her young voice cutting through the still air like the guillotine.

A flicker of a pause came over Marie before she resumed with putting away the extra papers. From what she knew of her pupil, Sharon wasn’t the kind of child to be told about horrible things in a brusque manner like Zero. Plus, it was still too soon to let her guard down completely with Edward and tell him the whole truth of the matter.

“Terrible things were happening in Marie’s country, so she had to leave.” Marie said without heat, glancing from the corner of her eye to see the girl’s reaction. Finishing up, Marie noted that Sharon’s expression was that of surprise. Her mouth parted halfway as she tried to come up with an appropriate response, making Marie wonder if she should’ve phrased it more gently.

After what felt like an eternity, Sharon nodded and replied with a soft, “I see. . . “. As much as she wanted to, her father told her that she shouldn’t press patients to tell more than they feel comfortable with, and the girl had to be content with her tutor’s answer.

******

Following Sharon, Marie had tutored about two other children for the day, wrapping it all up by 10 AM. By that time, the gloomy English weather receded in favor of the sun to finally give color to the land. She was halfway finished writing a letter to one of the children who didn’t show up the previous week due to an illness, when the small sound of the tip of the quill tapping against the basalt inkwell broke her concentration.

Marie opened up the small drawer in the desk where extra bottles of ink were kept, and swore under her breath when she found the drawer empty, save for the stains of pitch black ink that eternally marked the wood. Marie-Joseph huffed out a sigh. The letter will have to wait.

“Andre, prepare a cab. We’re going to London to get some new ink.”