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 Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)

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Azalea Harrington
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PostSubject: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Sun May 11, 2014 1:46 pm




Vanessa Jhalak Sheridan

The morning's letters were all arranged in a neat stack as usual, the witch not trusting her staff to sort through the envelopes in order of importance. Importance, Vanessa had learned long ago, was relative and a keen eye was required, one that servants hardly ever possessed.

The invitation to various events were given an insignificant glance, to be noted in her diary by her Lady's Maid, the thank you notes for attending various events previously were graced with not even that cursory glance.

The letter from Versaille demanded some consideration though.

It had by no means been the first to arrive addressed to her from House Clement but after her flight from Paris and then the UK, the stream of thick, extensive enveloped had turned into a  trickle, with years going by without one.

And then a few years ago the letters had started again, appealing to Vanessa's sense of duty and honour and questions of her character and her desire to see her family survive the tide of time.

Her answer today was the same it had been five years ago, that though the witch loved her family, she could not sacrifice the one person she loved more than it.

But Dominic's steadily worsening health had ensured the letters continued coming, and being ignored. The Sheridan heiress answered some but left others unreplied. There was no point in repeating the same words over and over again and her demand had been only one. That she would only step foot unto Clement soil with Louis by her side.

In true aristocratic fashion, her request had not been acknowledged in the slightest. Aunt Lynette and Uncle Thomas had done a good job over the years of pretending they only had one son but Vanessa was the thorn in their side, reminding them that the son she was engaged to was the only one she would marry. So the battle had commenced quietly, one of words on parchment and of strong wills.

And Dominic had fallen victim to time.

The latest letter spoke of the Clement heir now being unable to stand, aided or otherwise. While the words were perfectly cordial, they told the tale of how Dominic was taken around on a chair in the gardens in order to keep his spirits up, that the healers said it wouldn't be long now and that the best that could be done for the man was to keep him happy in his last months. Whether this was her aunt unburdening herself of her emotions or trying to appeal to Vanessa's sympathies, the witch didn't care. Her demands would always be the same.

Discarding the letter to one side, the witch rose to her feet, making her way to the withdrawing room. She had no more time in her day to fight battles that would never be won.

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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Sun May 11, 2014 2:06 pm

Louis Clement was not a usual pureblooded man in many ways. As much of a Clement as he tried to be, he'd spent far too long working in amongst Muggles. An ethic for work had formed despite not needing to and being around Vanessa once more had only made him realise he worked too much. With that knowledge he'd cut back as much as possible to reap the benefits of both worlds and that morning was one he had to spend with Vanessa.

The witch had already gone downstairs when he'd woken, Vanessa never woke him for reasons the man couldn't fathom. Once the valet Vanessa had gone to the hassle of finding for him had finished dressing him for the day, Louis moved downstairs. Breakfast had already been served to Vanessa which meant the Frenchman was truly behind this morning, but his cousin would never mention it.

Letters littered the table, though none would be addressed to him. A simple fact of life was that Louis had dropped of the radar in pureblood society. The quietness didn't bother Louis, because Vanessa kept him up to date with everything. Once the Frenchman had finished breakfast, he moved through the house with one destination in mind. The withdrawing room was silent as he entered, the woman he needed stood with a letter in hand. "Good morning, Ven." Louis whispered softly, hoping not to startle the witch. "Je suis desole." He added, moving in to the room and taking up a seat on one of the sofas. He didn't need to explain, she would understand.

"Something important?" Louis asked, motioning to the letter in her hand.
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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Sun May 11, 2014 2:27 pm

"Good morning, Ven."

The sound of Louis' arrival came not unlike the breath of fresh air to the witch, making her smile fondly as the man approached the room quietly. Folding the letter in her hands, the Sheridan heiress made her way to Louis, placing a soft kiss on his lips.

"There's no need for an apology, its your day off," she smiled, taking a seat beside him. Sleeping late was a luxury rarely to be indulged in, Vanessa had learned early. Especially when one had a household to run and a social calender to keep. The staff at the palace was competent enough but that did not excuse any negligence on the Lady's behalf, grandmere had instructed years ago.

"Something important?"

For a moment, the brunette entertained the notion of lying. After all, the issue of their family in France hadn't arisen until now. Not that there had been any cause to discuss it. But the frequency of the letters warranted some sort of acknowledgement she supposed.

"Its... From Versaille," she admitted, uncertainty lacing her usually confident voice. "Aunt Lynette," she added, holding out the heavy cream parchment between her slim fingers.

"About Dominic."

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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Sun May 11, 2014 2:49 pm

"There's no need for an apology, its your day off,"

The words combined with a soft kiss was enough to bring a carefree smile to Louis' lips. A smile that only Vanessa could elicit from him because such things could only be shown to her. It had been a long time since he'd trusted anyone but his cousin with such luxuries. "I wasted our time." Louis replied softly.

Another luxury that only Vanessa could bring him. Time.

Whilst Louis continued to play at life, Vanessa kept them moving forwards in the right manner. The manner his family would have insisted them to have. The thought of his family was pushed away though, they did not hold importance in his life anymore. Nor could they grate time away from his time with Vanessa.

"Its... From Versaille,"

Or maybe even that luxury was taken from him now.

Aunt Lynette,"

"Maman?" Louis asked, his voice falling to one similar to his fifteen year old self. Twenty five years had passed since he'd last seen his mother. Twenty five years since his family had thrown him out. And here was a letter from his mother and the contents...

"About Dominic."

The hands that had moved to see what his Maman had to say paused at the mention of his brother, hesitating before moving back to his lap. The man who had ruined his life, taken every right he'd had, taken the woman he loved from him before he had chance to make things right. The Frenchman's features turned stone like as he processed inwardly all the information.

It didn't take a genius to work out his mother's intentions.

"They want you home." Louis stated, because a question was unnecessary.
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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Sun May 11, 2014 3:01 pm

"They want you home."

"For many years now," Vanesa admitted quietly. Though the letters had stopped for a few years there had never been a question of them ceasing permanently. No, a Clement, even one who wasn't a member of the family by birth, was never forgotten.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Grandmere to make a match of any other pureblood family with Dominic, only for long enough to provide an heir from the all too grateful bride. But blood spoke volumes, and none ran as thick as the Clement's in their line. Vanessa might be a Sheridan by name but her mother was born a Clement and as long as she existed, Dominic's options were next to none.

As were hers, but in the Sheridan heiress' case, she had long ago pledged all her love, honour and duty to the man sitting beside her.

"They don't understand that "home" is with you, not with them," she added, eyes lowered to the ground as she spoke.

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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Mon May 12, 2014 1:21 pm

"For many years now,"

In hindsight, Louis shouldn't have been surprised at this news. The mistake he'd made so many years ago had not only hindered his own life in so many ways, but it had thrown a lot of things in Vanessa's path that she should never of had to deal with. Though, if asked, Louis would do it all again.

Everything, except trust his older brother.

"They don't understand that "home" is with you, not with them,"

"I can't give you a home." Louis whispered back. The elders of his family had not forced him to the streets, that had been their kindness, but they had not left him anything to his name. Enough money to get what he needed, and the summer houses during the winter. They had made it clear, however, that none of it was his own, he was living in the kindness of the Clement name.

Because to them, he was nothing.

"What do they say?" Louis asked, deciding not to look for himself. Vanessa would give him what he needed to know. And not a word more.
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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Mon May 12, 2014 1:33 pm

"I can't give you a home."

"Then I suppose we'll have to live on the streets," the witch smiled softly, her grey eyes resting upon he fine furnishings of the palace's withdrawing room. "Maybe we'll even go foraging for food like we used to pretend as children," she reminded him. Those days in the Versaille maze had been magical in their own way, where as children the two cousins had pretended to be encased in a world of their own where they had to fend for themselves, always until one of the many governesses were sent to summon them back for tea.

"What do they say?"

The seriousness returned to her expressions as Louis asked about the contents of the letter. For reasons she would rather not probe, her cousin didn't wish to lay eyes upon his mother's written word. Vanessa could understand. Aunt Lynette had been the closest to a mother she had ever known too.

"Only that Dominic gets worse every day," she conveyed quietly, trying not to shudder at the name uttered from her lips. "He's permanently confined a chair now. He can no longer stand and the best they can do it take him for strolls in the Dahlientelle in this chair."

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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Mon May 12, 2014 2:28 pm

At the mention of the silly games they used to play, a small smile graced Louis' lips. They had been so naïve back then, believing they could make it in the world alone. They'd been naïve at fifteen thinking the world was theirs for the taking. But the sad reality had been much too powerful in the wakening of the real world as it consumed Louis without warning.

The army had shown him everything a "real" man dealt with, and he could never bring Vanessa to such lows. Even if that meant leaving her where luxuries were guaranteed, leave her in the world she belonged to.

The idea made Louis stand from the seat, his hands tucking neatly behind his back. The gestures were sweet, but Vanessa would never understand. Not properly, and he wouldn't let her see the pain it caused him when she believed that she could do anything.

Even his Ven had flaws, loathe as he was to admit it.

"Only that Dominic gets worse every day,"

Even when you knew your brother would never get better. Even when you knew a day would finally come when they would leave this world and everything behind them. Even if you believed yourself to be prepared for such news, you still cringed at the thought. Louis hated Dominic in more ways than he could express. He'd even dreamed about the many complicated manners in which he could draw the last breath from his brother to cause him the most pain. Louis had thought every hateful word about his brother and plotted so many acts of revenge to try to make the world right, but the simple fact remained, that Dominic was, and always would be his big brother.

"He's permanently confined a chair now. He can no longer stand and the best they can do it take him for strolls in the Dahlientelle in this chair."

Louis' eyes closed as he stopped in front of the window, collecting himself for a moment. Everything in life had gone wrong because of Dominic Clement. His life shattered, his marriage not even vowed, his fiancé deflowered, his children never born. Every single cruel loss in his life was due to the bastard that was his brother, and still Louis could not find it in himself to be happy that they were coming in to the final days of his brother's life.

"Do they say how long Dominic has left?" Louis asked, his voice devoid of all emotion as his eyes opened and focused on the maze towards the lake. Wondering just how long he had to convince himself this was how it was meant to be.
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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Tue May 13, 2014 10:37 am

"Do they say how long Dominic has left?"

"A few months," Vanessa surmised, scanning the letter once more for time indicatives. "A year at best. But the healers are adamant that the only thing to do now is keep him in good spirits until the... until the time comes."

Dominic's condition had always been fetal, even as a child Vanessa remembered her Aunt's worried looks when Dominic got too tired far too quickly, when he couldn't play with the other children. But despite it all, her older cousin had seemed... alive. He had read instead, managing to be a highly intelligent and productive individual.

But that had been when he still had his brother, his baby cousin and everyone in his family. But now the disease had wasted him to the point where no one could bring him back.

The Gods teach humility in cruel ways, Vanessa reflected, placing the letter on the coffee table in front of her.

"I won't be going," she added, her voice soft but firm. "Not until we can go together."

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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Tue May 13, 2014 11:29 am

"A year at best. But the healers are adamant that the only thing to do now is keep him in good spirits until the... until the time comes."

Louis didn't give a reply to this news. He knew how it worked, of course he did. The Frenchman had simply never given it much thought because it was Dominic, and despite him never being able to keep up as a child, or defend himself as a teenager, Dominic was always going to be there. But the truth was, not even that hope from a young age lasted anymore.

"I won't be going," she added, her voice soft but firm. "Not until we can go together."

Despite himself, Louis let out a soft, rueful laugh at Vanessa's words. "You know they won't call me back there, Ven. They made it very clear twenty four years ago that I was not their son. Try as I might to battle those words, they won't change their minds. They're Clements, after all." The last was said with a shake of his head, but even as he said the words, Louis couldn't think of anyone they could possibly bring in to take Dominic's place.

Unless his father found a bastard, Louis was their only hope.

But even Louis doubted that much now.
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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Tue May 13, 2014 7:47 pm

"You know they won't call me back there, Ven. They made it very clear twenty four years ago that I was not their son. Try as I might to battle those words, they won't change their minds. They're Clements, after all."

He had a very fair point, the stoic nature of the House they belonged to had been encapsulated in poetry and art through the ages, a portion of the Louvre dedicated solely to Clement history, lining the portraits of their ancestors, all staunch, unflinching and somehow eternal in their austerity. House Clement did not go back on its word, not since the days of Lady Lissette the first of her name.

And yet Louis had forgotten one thing.

Rising to her feet, Vanessa closed the short distance between them, reaching to take his hand in hers as she looked up at him, her grey eyes meeting his with the kind of quiet strength and determination that had been bred into her since childhood.

"I am a Clement too," she spoke, the authority of Grandmere years ago ringing in her tone. "And I made it clear twenty four years ago that I will not return to Versaille without you. So I think it's a fair test of wills."

With that, the Sheridan reached up to place a soft kiss on her cousin's lips.

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PostSubject: Re: Woodstock, Oxfordshire - 2012 (Louis)    Tue May 13, 2014 11:32 pm

"I am a Clement too,"

And she was right. In everything but name, Vanessa Sheridan was a Clement, almost as much as himself. No more than himself these days. Contact was still held with his parents for her, whilst they pretended he didn't exist.

"And I made it clear twenty four years ago that I will not return to Versaille without you. So I think it's a fair test of wills."

Louis opened his mouth to come up with a reply to that sentence but his lips were captured in a soft kiss of reassurance. That no matter which one of them his family needed more, neither one of them would return without the other. Louis' hands moved around Vanessa's waist, drawing her to him in a manner that said he agreed.

That the world and everyone in it could wait until they were accepted once more.

Together.
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