Reunion

Historical (fan)fiction set in the mid 1800s, after the conclusion of the events in the Count of Monte Cristo. Eugénie Danglars (living under an assumed identity in Rome with her lover Louise d'Armilly) is angry to find that her father has tracked her down. After such a complete breakdown in familial trust and loyalty, what can he want?

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1. Etienne

Through the streets of Rome, a young man can sometimes be seen making his way among the markets and cheaper apartments on the West bank of the Tiber. Sometimes in the evening his journey takes him over one of the ancient bridges and through better-lit streets to the Opera House, where he meets a young singer, and escorts her safely from  the grandeur of that place, through increasingly squalid streets, where they both vanish into obscurity.

During the day, he seeks and sometimes finds employment, but times are hard, and he is a young man with a somewhat difficult personality and particular tastes. Always meticulously and neatly dressed, very clean-shaven, he doesn't lower himself to manual work, but is so fastidious as to instead make a small living wherever he can use his education to best effect.

For Étienne, as he is known, is indeed well educated, having been taught by the best tutors in Paris, and to such a standard that he can only be the gifted son of a noble family. However, noble French families have been known to fall on hard times, and Étienne does not invite discussion of his background.

Sometimes his fresh, almost feminine face, or some quirk of his demeanour attracts foul comments and lewd propositions from the idle and depraved men on street corners. Étienne has therefore taken to carrying a smallsword, as is his right as a noble, although he has never yet had to draw it to defend his honour---besides, some of the comments and suggestions merely make him smile, as though enjoying a secret joke.

On bright days such as this, he walks always in the shaded side of the street where possible, and this lends a little apparent furtiveness to his movements, although it is possibly more to do with the oppressive heat of the Roman summer than a desire to be unnoticed.

He reaches the shabby building where he rents the very small apartment he can afford, and climbs a narrow stair three floors up. Étienne knocks the door, announces "Louise, I am returned" in a clear and youthful voice, and enters.

And without more than a relaxation of posture, the removal of his sword belt and tight, constricting jacket that was entirely inappropriate for the heat, and the appearance of a smile never seen outside these walls, Étienne becomes once more Eugénie Danglars, and embraces her beloved.

 

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