Home is what you take with you, not what you leave behind. – N.K. Jemisim, The Fifth Season

Petit Lac Des Cygne

The Duchess took a deep breath and slowly descended the stairs.  She walked into the main parlor, slowly turned around, and took in all the work she had done on the Chateau.  The head butler walked in and announced the luggage had been brought down and placed in the limousine as ordered.  A private jet in Paris, France, was being readied for her departure back to the states.  Taking a step out onto the front portico, she looked up at the Chateau she called home these past five years.

As she closed her eyes, a single tear traced a path down her cheek as she remembered the first time she saw the Chateau. How happy she had been to restore the grand ole dame and how contented she had been here in France.  But sometimes, reality sneaks in on the fairytale and becomes a nightmare.

Henry kissed her forehead as he set about on one of his regular walks into the Pyrenees, assuring his love that he would return soon. He enjoyed traversing the hills and mountains as much as time would allow. But, unfortunately, light snow began to fall shortly after his departure. The afternoon came, and as the lateness of the hour drew near, the Duchess grew alarmed he had not returned. A feeling of dread tripped across her heart, and several menfolk were dispatched to search for the missing master. Returning at dusk, and the snow now 2 feet deep, the foreman stood before her, with hat in hand, and stammered that not a trace could be found of Henry.

Days turned into weeks, then weeks into months with no word or sighting of her beloved. While the outside world saw her as the strong Duchess Lion de Montagne, it was in the evenings that she let the illusion fall as she slipped into bed, and sobbed herself to sleep. Spring arrived, and with it the realization that Henry would never return. Alone now, the pull of home started out as a gentle tug, and then the longing became so strong, she felt there was no choice but to return across the pond.

Sighing heavily, clutching the locket around her neck, she brought it to her lips, kissing it ever so lightly. Taking one last look around, she knew she would never return, at least for any extended length of time. Turning, she entered the limousine and settled herself for the long ride to Paris.