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I opened the door furtively, waiting for a sound to betray itself. The sound of a footstep, the gentle whisper of a breath, the drumming of a beating heart.
All was still.
The moon hung over the lake, blurred by the black, glassy surface. All I could feel was the cold air against my bare shoulders, the sound of my skirts rustling the dead leaves. My hair was down; covering my back in a soft blanket, but it wasn’t enough against the draft.
My lips were chapped and cold, my hands numb with fear. This was where I was to meet my killer.
My assassin had tracked me for months now. The city of Paris was under attack by an invisible murderer, one who killed with poison, invisible in wine and deadly in the system. People were stabbed to death in their beds. People of standing. And I was one of them.
My father had been advisor to King Louis XIV and his queen, Marie Antoinette. He was killed a year ago, and his death sparked the endless string of murders throughout the city. I was to be the last spilled in cold blood.
I sighed in relief, knowing I was to be the last. I would give my life for it to be over. It was too dangerous living.
I heard the footsteps come from behind in the darkness, and knew it was time.
Imagine my surprise when I saw him. I knew him. He was someone I loved. And still did.
“Rachel.” The word hung in my ears like a curse.
I did not respond. I knew he was weeping, I knew he was shaking, but I refused to acknowledge him.
“Rachel.” His voice was begging now. I still did not speak.
“Rachel, there’s no other way.” His voice was mechanical, as if he had told himself this many times. “Rachel they forced me, my father is in the Brotherhood’s grip. He’ll die if I don’t.”
“Don’t what?” I responded with a frozen smile on my face. I wanted to tease him, seem innocent. I knew it would torture him. That was what would give me satisfaction. In times such as these, when you look death in the face, all you want is time for one last bitter laugh.
The blood drained from his face. I saw for the first time the gleaming silver dagger in his hand.
“Ah.” I said in a nonchalant voice. I began to walk towards him with my usual, confident stride. He knew my walk, my smile, the taste of my lips.
He bit his lip with his teeth, his eyes burning with many conflicted emotions.
“I will make you this promise. It will be quick.” He said in a distant tone.
“Lovely.” I wanted to torture him even more. If he was going to live, he will remember every word I said. “And I will make you a promise. I will haunt you the rest of your life. My ghost shall come to you in the night, stroke your brow, and promise you that your journey will end in the lake of fire.” I smiled sweetly, knowing now my time to toy with death was up.
I dropped my arms, and puffed up my chest, waiting for the silver dagger to plunge itself into my heart.
Instead he dropped the knife, and pulled me into his embrace, his lips burning white hot against my own. I could feel the beating of his heart.
“Torment me all you want. It doesn’t make this anymore right or wrong.” I felt him bend down and pick up the dagger again. “I might as well die with you.”
His knuckles, now white, gripped the silver handle. I covered his hand with my own.
“Kiss me as I die.” I whispered.
He nodded his head, tocuhed my lips to his, and plunged the cold silver deep into my chest.
A well-known French historian was studying manuscripts concerning the Reign of Terror. Assassins were commonplace, but one story pricked her interest. A member of the Brotherhood council made a comment in his journals.
“It was a most peculiar thing. We had ordered the death of Rachel D’Arouet, the daughter of the Louis’ advisor. Her assassin was someone we trusted to do his job right. We found her dead by the lake at dawn. Her face was oddly peaceful. Our assassin laid still, his arms wrapped around her, but as we turned him over, he stared up in death. It seemed that love had killed them both, one happy and peaceful, and the other to be tormented forever. We took the report to our leader, and he stared in silence at our words. He finally spoke thus: “No one must know that they died with hope. It would be the end of all our efforts.” We left without another word.”