An Unusual Request
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Author’s Notes: Here’s a short one-shot on Oscar and André, set in 1770 and totally unrelated to my other RoV fic, Memories. I do hope you will enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am sure that the theme of this story is very familiar and has been engaged in many RoV fanfics before, but I'd like to render my own interpretation of it in this present work. In posting this fic, please be assured that there is no infringement onto other authors' works intended by this writer.
“I fail to see why this should upset you so greatly!” Oscar burst out. “If I had only known you will react this way I would not have asked you for it at all!”
A few feet away and standing shin-deep in the pond water, André hurled back, “Do you realize how outrageous a request you’re making? Is that part of the curriculum that they teach over at the Military Academy?”
“No,” replied Oscar, “but that’s the point, isn’t it? This is not something taught in a classroom. This is real life. Don’t you think I ought to be taught everything expected of a man, including all things concerning the social graces? I may not stay long at the Academy. I have heard Father say that they are currently discussing my appointment as Head Guard to the future Dauphine in the highest circles in Versailles. She’s due to arrive in May.”
Of course he had heard of the news himself—the whole house was abuzz with it—but André was at a loss figuring why Oscar could not see things his way when it came to the request she was making.
“This is not a conventional part of the graces that society is looking for in a military student like you, so you don’t have to worry about people expecting it from you,” he retorted, his hand gradually clenching at the piece of cloth that he had been using to clean their horses. “You ought to confine yourself to kissing the hands of ladies, like all well-bred gentlemen, if you know what’s good for you. What you’re asking for is a scandal if anyone should ever come across you exercising…this…in public. Your father will surely have my head for it.”
“He’s not going to find out unless you tell him,” returned Oscar smoothly.
André continued to look at her askance as she stood gravely by the water’s edge. Mysteriously sent home for a few days’ furlough from the academy where she was studying, Oscar had refused to give an explanation. On the other hand, she had accepted his offer to go riding that morning across the stretch of woodland behind the mansion; it was their custom to do so whenever she was home.
She had even brought along a book, ostensibly to read while he led their horses to the small pond for their regular wash. Now the book lay forgotten in the cool shadows of a nearby tree as its owner stood rooted at the edge of the pond, looking determined to have her way with the fifteen year old boy before her, as usual.
André shook his head. “What’s gotten into you?” He finally asked, bewildered. “I can’t believe you’d suddenly be so interested in kissing.”
“Nothing,” murmured Oscar. “You don’t have to look at me like I’ve gone mad. Evidently I won’t be asking you about it if I don’t know you well enough, or trust you with the matter.”
After a moment her gaze wavered and she looked away, squinting in the bright sunlight as she let her gaze settle elsewhere—anywhere but on André’s face as he looked at her searchingly.
Naturally something did happen to prompt her to make this most unusual request of André.
It had been between classes at the Academy a few days ago, when they were changing for a fencing lesson, that a classmate of hers had pulled her aside.
One could tell that Jean Josephe Gaillard was a slow learner. Oscar François de Jarjayes could not have stayed several terms in the Academy, with her true gender being public knowledge, without inviting some unwanted attention. Likewise, she could not have stayed that long without knowing how to defend herself.
Her father may be a powerful general in the French army, but Oscar knew the sacrifices he had to make just to get her to be accepted in the Academy. She was also aware that there were many inside the Academy who would love to see her fail in her task of succeeding in military school. She was not about to prove these fools right any time soon-- and she was definitely not going to let her father down-- just because she was a girl.
And so on her very first term in school, her male classmates had found out at great cost what it meant to mess with her. But Jean Josephe was different. He had gone out of his way to be downright annoying; he had dogged her, had tried to capture her attention and talk to her at every turn, had tried hard to please her, until Oscar had sensed that the silly boy had something apart from mere friendship on his mind and resolved to ignore him.
Then it had happened. He had managed to sneak in while she was changing into her fencing clothes and stole a kiss from her.
She was not that naïve not to know what a kiss generally meant. Her mother, sisters and Nanny had showered her with kisses, especially when she had been very young. But this one had not been the kind of kiss that she was used to. It had been hot and wet, sloppily given with an open mouth. She had turned her head away angrily after a few, shocked seconds and delivered the first of a series of blows that was to land the boy in the school infirmary, and she ultimately on her way back home for a short suspension.
Needless to say, the Academy had not taken the incident very well. She had been grilled for several sessions by the school authorities before they had sent for her father. He, too, had raised hell with her on the subject behind closed doors as soon as he arrived. In the end, it had been her cold disgust and her constant story, more than any amount of hysterics, which had managed to convince the authorities and her father that she was innocent. That and the fact that there had been some witnesses who saw the incident.
Nevertheless, they had decided to send her home while they dealt with the boy. While it had been a harrowing issue, her father had pointedly refused to answer her when she plied him with questions on the way home, saying curtly that it would be best for her to forget about the incident as it had been successfully concluded.
Had her father been any wiser it would have done him and everyone else a world of good to tell her everything frankly, she reflected. Now her curiosity had been aroused…and there was something else that had sprung up from the incident that she needed to deal with.
She knew that it was a delicate subject enough not to be brought up in front of her mother or Nanny, which left her with only one option—André. She knew that he would kick up a fuss, but ultimately he would never refuse her anything.
Yet the matter had not been easy to bring up even in front of André. Knowing he could easily pick up feelings that she might unconsciously show while she went about her investigation, she had resolved to treat the matter like a scientific puzzle, a problematic mathematical equation that needed solving.
French high society—corrupt and debauched on the inside—had some of the strictest rules of etiquette to maintain its façade of respectability. Obviously, kissing people on the mouth and bestowing anything remotely resembling affection to anyone not of your immediate family were taboo. Scandalous. Yet there were many in the French court who enjoyed such a controversial reputation, the prime example being the King’s mistress, Madame du Barry.
Oscar had seen the woman as her father began to take her to more and more balls and soirees at Versailles in order to familiarize her with the surroundings that were to become her workplace in the future.
She had heard of the talk concerning the du Barry and knew of her special work, that she was there “to please the King”. To please the King. A scandalous woman. Kissing was a scandal. Therefore the woman must surely be a very good kisser.
“André, do you think the du Barry is a great kisser?” she had asked as her way of starting the conversation. From the look on André’s face, she could see it had not been the best line to break the ice on the subject.
“Now why would you ask that?” He had wanted to know.
Oscar had shrugged. “How else would she please the King?” She asked.
André had considered that for a moment and she saw his brows rise. “Well, I guess you can say kissing is one of her many…specialties,” he answered as he resumed the task of wiping his horse’s shiny flank. “Why would you be asking all of a sudden though? Are you considering giving that woman a kiss?”
“I wouldn’t go near her with a ten-foot pole,” said Oscar with a shudder.
“So why the questions?” He had asked, laughing.
“Why would a kiss invite so much talk if it’s just a matter of putting two mouths together?”
“Precisely because it is not just a matter of putting two mouths together,” answered André dryly. “It says a lot about how you feel toward the other person, and please don’t ask me to explain that aspect in detail because it’s too complicated.”
“If you like the person you’re kissing and the person likes you back, then it’s all right?”
“Well…” André had scratched his head, attempting to think of a convincing answer and failing. “What’s important is you don’t go around doing it in public, no matter how much you like somebody. Not unless you want to be talked about.”
“And if you’re not seen?”
He had stared at her then, and she could tell that he had started to suspect something. “I’m not going to say that everyone’s a saint and can resist temptation all the time,” he said cautiously. “It can happen that people kiss each other for a variety of reasons, but so long as both parties are willing and they do it discreetly then I hardly think it’s anybody else’s business.”
“Well said, André,” said Oscar. “Given such words, I take it you’ve kissed somebody before?”
“I most certainly have not!” came his indignant reply.
“Then you’ve seen people doing it, haven’t you?”
Here, André had paused. He was not sure what Oscar was getting at with her questions but he had liked the conversation less and less as they continued talking.
He had finally shrugged. “I live in the servants’ quarters, after all,” he said. “I can’t deny there have been incidents every now and then.”
Then in a more severe tone, he said, “And you’re not to tell Granny or your father what I just said, all right?”
“Rest assured it will not reach them,” said Oscar, smiling.
Well, at the end of the conversation, she had pretty much decided. Aloud, she said, “André…”
Of course he might have over-reacted just a bit to Oscar’s unexpected declaration, but one must understand that it had stemmed from shock. Besides, it was most disturbing to find Oscar--normally so sedate and sensible--suddenly asking for kisses, of all things. It almost bordered on the indecent.
So they had quarreled, with him asking how it came to be that she had acquired a sudden, shocking habit of going around asking for kisses, and she along the lines that he was hopelessly immature to react to her proposal the way he just did.
But seeing her look away just now as he asked what had gotten into her, something seemed to click deep inside of him. Her unexplained furlough, her father’s foul temper from a few days’ back, her strange request now…
Something must have happened at the Academy. He was suddenly, inexplicably sure of it. Folding his hands in front of his chest, he asked tersely, “Did someone try to kiss you?”
“It’s not important—”
“Did someone try?”
She turned her gaze back at him, the light in her eyes almost fierce. “Yes,” she said simply.
André felt as though the wind had been knocked from him. He had been expecting her to say yes, of course he had. Why he should feel this way was beyond him at the moment.
“And?” He prompted, willing himself to speak despite the strange ache squeezing at his heart.
“I nearly broke his arm,” said Oscar softly, not in the least apologetic. “That’s why I’ve been sent home, although it is an injustice if you ask me.”
“You didn’t like it?” André chuckled as he felt something like relief course through him upon hearing her words.
“Do you think I would have injured him if I had liked it one bit?” rejoined Oscar.
André shook his head, grinning, as he made his way out of the pond. For a moment he stood before her, their heights level. For a girl, Oscar was tall for her age, athletically built. Sometimes it was quite difficult for him to remember that she was not a boy and one year his junior.
She returned his gaze levelly, and he could see then that what they were about to do was fraught with such fearsome complications that any sensible human being would not have given in to her demand. But she was curious, and so was he. Very curious indeed.
“So. You still want that kiss?” He asked after what seemed like an eternity.
He jerked his head toward the inviting shade of the tree a few paces away. “Up there, where it’s cooler,” he said.
“Why do we have to go somewhere cooler for a kiss?” she asked immediately even as she followed him to the tree.
“No particular reason. But no sense standing under the glare of the sun,” he said. And in full view of anyone who might happen along this way, he added silently.
Once there he made her stand against the great trunk.
“So that you’ll be comfortable.”
“But I’m comfortable enough standing anywhere else,” she said.
André fumbled around for an answer to that remark, but finally said, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
“See what? Nothing’s happening yet,” she said, her tone gradually becoming complaining.
André laid a hand at the wooden bark beside Oscar’s head and turned his full gaze at her. From one breath to the next, something about the air between them changed, grew charged. He was looking at her in a way he had never done before; his gaze was as palpable as a caress.
“Promise me something, Oscar,” he said softly, his bright green eyes never leaving hers.
“Promise me you won’t go kissing somebody else,” he breathed.
“I—I don’t know—”
Before she could finish what she wanted to say, she saw him angle his head and lower his face to hers, felt his warm breath fanning across her cheek and mingling with hers.
And then he was kissing her; lightly he touched her lips with his-- a series of soft kisses as light as a feather. With great interest, she saw that he had closed his eyes during the entire process.
Almost before she realized it, the kiss ended. He withdrew his mouth from hers and stepped away.
“Well,” he said, sounding oddly out of breath “That’s that.”
“That’s it?” Oscar asked. “Why do you have your eyes closed
the whole time?”
André did not appear to have heard her second question. “You seem disappointed,” he said, and it was obvious that he found her reaction a let down.
Oscar shook her head. “No, no,” she said hastily, baffled at his wounded tone. “It’s just… that wasn’t how Jean Josephe had kissed me.”
She saw his gaze harden at her words. “Oh? How did he kiss you exactly?” He asked softly.
Without thinking, Oscar said, “Well, like this.”
She stepped up to André and kissed him full on the mouth, taking him by surprise. She remembered how the other boy had used his tongue, so she used hers now, inexpertly drawing it across André’s lower lip.
She heard him groan as if in surrender, as if he were about to let go of his self control. She felt his arms go around her, crushing her to him. She felt him open his mouth, felt his tongue return her gesture.
So this is how it feels, thought André mindlessly as he coaxed her to open her lips further beneath his.
He had seen a manservant and a maid kissing in the darkened mansion gardens one early evening as he returned from the stables. They had not heard him approach, and he had been so transfixed by the sight of their passionate embrace that for several seconds he had stood rooted at the spot, gaping.
This was how he had seen them, with their arms around each other, their embrace almost a struggle. Seeing it, André had felt a thrill go through him. Afterward, he had periodically found himself dissecting the scene in his mind down to the smallest details, had imagined what it would actually feel like to have someone in his arms.
Now he knew. And Oscar had asked for it of her own volition.
Even as he tried to deepen the kiss, he felt her lean into him, felt her hand move upward from his shoulder to his dark hair tied back behind his head. He followed suit, plunging his hands into her golden waves, wondering at its softness.
He had never regarded her like this before. To him, she had always been just Oscar…just Oscar. Yet her body was changing, becoming distinctly different from his. The soft, slender curves beneath the masculine cut of her clothes…how had he failed to notice them before?
Forcing his eyes to open for a moment, he noted with deep satisfaction that she had closed hers. So much for her question why people closed their eyes during this most cherished of moments.
He felt her other hand touch the side of his face, felt it pass slowly over the skin of one cheek. He sucked her lower lip into his mouth, teasing it gently with his tongue, and felt her open for him further, granting him full access to explore the insides of her mouth.
She heard him groan inside her, was astonished to find herself sighing, moaning as the kiss turned scorching. How did things get so hot all of a sudden? She felt as though she were burning up, and all because of this boy’s kisses. Ah, the difference when it was somebody you liked who was kissing you…
When he sought her tongue, found it and wrapped it around his, she felt that she could lose herself in tasting him. He felt so good. So very good…
It was André who broke the kiss first, and for long seconds they stood facing each other panting, catching their breaths.
“Now you realize why you can’t go around kissing people that way in public, don’t you?” he asked raggedly.
Oscar said nothing, merely brought up a hand to touch her swollen mouth almost dazedly.
“No gentleman could ever be called thus if people should see him do this,” he continued almost desperately. “How much more a lady?”
“I am no lady,” snapped Oscar, having finally recovered enough to speak. “I am going to be a military officer, like my father and his father before him—”
“--Who must recognize society’s strictest code of etiquette more than anyone else,” finished André.
Oscar regarded him for a moment longer before she said, “You have nothing to fear, André. I won’t go around kissing just anyone for my enjoyment. Only, Jean Josephe Gaillard is not exactly the person that I have in mind in sharing such an intimate moment with. Now, at least, I do not have to look back on this occasion with him in mind.”
André looked at her carefully, almost tentatively. “So…you enjoyed our kiss?” He asked.
“I didn’t try to break your arms, did I?” she returned with a grin. “Come on, let’s saddle up or else we’ll be late for lunch.”
André watched her as she emerged from the shadows of the tree and into full daylight, feeling the beginnings of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. It had not been mere curiosity and caprice that had prompted her to request a kiss from him after all. Rather, she had wanted to perform an exorcism of sorts. She could have told him from the start and spare him a lot of troubled thoughts.
There were times when he found it difficult understanding Oscar. Still, this remarkable friend was admirable in every way; she was somebody who could really make a person’s dreams come true.
More Author’s Notes: Of course, this kiss between Oscar and André is pure conjecture. In both the manga and anime, André’s love for her developed shortly after she saved him from execution following the skirmish surrounding Marie Antoinette’s horse. Still, it’s interesting to speculate how Oscar was educated with the more scandalous aspects of the French court and it is toward this aim that I have written this one-shot. I hope you enjoyed it.
pubblicazione sul sito Little Corner del luglio 2006
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