Treville went to Paris barely two weeks after his first heat, fifteen and alone. His father had died two years before—and it was his father not his sirrah, with his mixed line of throwbacks and Betas betraying his lot in life even from the beginning. (Nobody wanted a mutt of a country noble as their Omega. And especially not an orphan.)
So Jean would go to Paris, even though Paris wouldn’t want him. Not that city of splendor and light, so unlike Gascony. So unlike home. But Paris took all types even though the pure bloods didn’t necessarily want them there, and he would fade into the crowd of Betas and throwbacks alike.
But that didn’t mean life would be easy, and getting there wouldn’t be either. Not in the middle of winter, when everything was rough and cold. But it would be better than staying at home another year, stuck with his brother; with the wandering eyes and heavy perfume. His brother, who stared at him with not-at-all concealed envy, because Jean was the younger of them but would still inherit. Or, rather, Jean’s mate would inherit.
Assuming he ever got one. Which, staring down the biting winds and snow, didn’t seem very likely these days. It hadn't been very likely from the first place, but only rarely did he allow himself the melodrama which came from envisioning that he would die without ever even meeting a compatible alpha.
The winds howled on. His horse trudged through the snow. Life went on. So would he. Even through the cold, and even through wind, he would go on. It took more than winter to get rid of Jean de Treville.
He would be fine. He would. He knew that much, even when he was laying next to a fire and couldn’t bring himself to feel warm. Even when the winds howled and bit, and when winter had turned everything into the horrible hues of white and silver; when he forgot what it was like to be warm.
Paris wasn’t that far away. He could make it to Paris. He would make it to Paris, even if it was the last thing he did. But Paris was far away, and every day he moved slower and slower. His horse, bless its soul, was hardly going to keep up under these conditions.
Ice had set into Treville’s veins, making his blood flow slower with every pulse of his heart. Snowflakes swirled above him, white and cold as anything. Paris, he thought. He had to make it to Paris. But he was tired, and it was cold. The sky was white too, colorless and unfeeling. Perhaps it wouldn’t kill him to sleep, just a little.
He was tired.
“Hello?” Darkness. “Hello?” Again. “Are you alright?”
Light. Ouch. “Mmfh.” His mouth tasted like something had died in it. He blinked again. A man stood above him, tall and dark haired. He was a Beta, Jean could tell from his scent. Not a threat. Still---“Who are you?” He asked, cheeks flushed, posturing.
“Robert Jussac,” he said. “Are you alright?”
Jean blinked, taking in his surroundings. It wasn’t cold; they were in some sort of hunting lodge. A fire roared in the hearth beside him. “Better now, I suppose,”
“I found you by the side of the road, practically frozen to the bone,” the man said. “We took you here, I hope you don’t mind.”
“We?” He mumbled, breathing. Oh—three Alphas. Still, all of them were mated, or… something like it.
“Apologies,” he said. “This is Cahusac, Bernajoux, and Boisrenard.”
“I’m Jean de Treville,” he said, more out of habit than anything else. The Alphas in question were tall, strong young things clad in leather armor and red cloaks. Bernajoux and Boisrenard, seemed like their smiles were permanently stuck on their faces, and they only seemed to have eyes for each other. Cahusac had long dark hair and dark eyes, and had Jean been a cliched omega in a bodice-ripper romance, he would’ve fallen in love immediately. As it was, Jean was nowhere naive or idiotic enough to fall in love with the first city Alpha he saw, and Cahusac wasn’t even Jean’s type anyway. While Jean did have a slight weakness for tall, dark, curly haired Alphas whenever he allowed himself to daydream about such things, he always liked to imagine his Alpha would have an air of elegance about him: less swagger and more confidence.
“Hello,” they waved from across the room.
Still—oh Lord, alone with three strange Alphas with only a strange Beta as company. His governess would turn in her grave. “Ah—where exactly would ‘here’ be,” he said instead. “I’m trying to get to Paris.”
“What luck, so are we,” Cahusac said, throwing another log into the fire. He stood up, wiped the ashes off of his hands. “We being red guards, of course, since Jussac forgot to mention that bit.”
“Red guards—the private military of the Richelieu family?”
“The one and the same,” the one they called Bernajoux said, smiling at him. “You’re in an old Richelieu hunting lodge, right now. Not one that they use any longer, but still in working order.”
“We have to wait out the storm,” Boisrenard supplied. “It’s too rough to continue on to Paris.”
“Not that we’re very far, mind you,” said Cahusac. “Another day’s ride.”
That certainly was closer than he’d been before. “How long do you think the storm will go on for?”
“Another day, at least.” Jussac shrugged. “Give or take.”
The wind blew so hard that the walls shook. “More like give or take a few weeks,” Cahusac grumbled.
What to do until then? They glanced between themselves, Jean fidgeted.
Then: “Say, Miss Treville, do you know how to play cards?”
Oh, did Jean know how to play cards. He grinned.
When the storm finally broke, it had in fact been a week, and Jean had nearly cleared them out of all their gold. They were fast friends.