Rating: General Audiences
Fandom: Versailles (TV 2015)
Relationship: Chevalier de Lorraine/Philippe d'Orléans | Monsieur (Versailles 2015)
Characters: Philippe d'Orléans | Monsieur (Versailles 2015) Chevalier de Lorraine (Versailles 2015) Louis XIV (Versailles 2015) Alexandre Bontemps (Versailles 2015) Henriette d'Angleterre (Versailles 2015) Marie-Thérèse (Versailles 2015) Original Characters
Additional Tags: Soulmates, Alternate Universe - Soulmates, Soulmate-Identifying Marks
Series: Part 1 of the Monchevy Soulmates Series
Summary: In a world where a mark should appear where your soulmates hands touch you for the first time, Monsieur doesn’t believe his mother’s stories about it anymore. When he was a child he used to imagine his soulmate, but life seemed so cruel to actually reserve something like this for him. So, now he is almost 16, dressed in his mother’s favorite gown, ready for his brother’s marriage announcement at Palais Royale. What can possibly go wrong?
Philippe really wanted to run away. If he was in better circumstances, if he wasn’t wearing a gown, if he wasn’t in heels, he would probably go back to Saint Germain in a hurry.
The prince of France sighed, checking on his hair in the mirror, braided by his mother just a few hours earlier.
She always liked to dress him up, since he was a child. After all, he was her “little princess”.
When he was little, everything about this dress-up thing was normal to him. The first time his mother braided his hair, he was ten and it was finally long enough for her to do it properly. He remembered the moment he saw himself in the mirror, a boy in a lilac dress, long dark hair up in a simple braid and just one, single lock left free to settle on the boy’s naked shoulder, too short to reach the dress’ neckline. Now, almost six years later, the strand of black hair reached that neckline and rested on the fabric of the green gown he wore, at chest high.
Philippe caressed that lock of hair, fear of messing it all up. He felt like he was watching someone else, someone he couldn’t recognize.
He was still looking in the mirror when he felt a hand at his lower back. Philippe raised his eyes in the glass, and a spontaneous smile formed on his thin lips. His mother smiled back at him, standing still behind his back.
“Philippe… ma petite princesse.” the Queen of France kept smiling, making her second son turn around so he would face her. She took his hands in hers, both of Philippe’s wrapped in light green gloves, long enough to reach his elbows. The queen cared so much for his gloves, in fact, he wore them all the time, a shorter version was made for his male clothing, but she went more uncompromising during court events. Tonight was no exception.
“Thank you, mother,” Philippe said in a whisper, still smiling at her. She checked one more time at his dress, then his gloves and his hairstyle, smiling, satisfied that everything was perfectly settled. As she seemed to say something else, someone cleared their throat and distracted them. Mother and son turned, seeing Bontemps waiting for a sign to speak. Queen Anne smiled, nodding to allow him to talk.
“My Queen, Your Highness, it’s time. The King is waiting for you to make your entrance.”
“Of course he is,” Philippe whispered, only for his mother to listen. She smiled again at him, releasing his hands from her gentle grasp, and began to cross the room, through the door that connected them to the Gran Salon. The prince followed, hearing Bontemps doing the same behind him.
“Tell me, Bontemps,” Philippe waited for the young man, letting his mother make her own entrance before him. The Prince put his right, gloved, hand on the valet arm, allowing him to lead the short way through the salon. “How much my dressing for tonight is the Queen’s idea?”
“I sincerely don’t know what you are talking about, Your Highness,” Bontemps said politely, as he always were.
“Oh, you know what I’m talking about. He’s announcing his marriage and now I can dress as I please. Something must be up tonight, and I know him too well to ignore it.”
“Monsieur, I really don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me,” the valet said and smiled, but Philippe knew from his voice tone that he knew it very well indeed. “But, if I can tell you with all due respect… I will take off my gloves for tonight’s event if I was in your shoes.”
“Luckily, you are not. Plus, listen to my mother rumble again and again about all that soulmates stuff? Please, spare me.”
His mother loved to tell him stories about soulmates when he was a child. Every night she was ready with a new story, written in an old journal she took with her everywhere. When the King died, she took away that book, and Philippe never saw it again. Every story was so different from one another, one time it talked about a shiny prince and a farmer daughter, another one was about a princess of a foreign kingdom and a king, already married to someone else. But his favorite was about a couple of valets, separated by their king at the end of the tale. It was sad but Philippe had always seen himself in one of them, who found out who their soulmates were, then got their mark for never seeing each other ever again.
“You know,” Bontemps interrupted him, the only one Philippe allowed to do it, posing his free hand on the prince’s, still on the valet arm, though they were so close to the salon. “That is not just soulmates stuff. I have my own mark, and I’m very grateful for it. It reminds me that someone loves me, no matter what.”
“Isn’t a marriage made for that thought of yours?”
“Are you so sure about that, Your Highness?” the valet broke their contact, taking both of Philippe’s hands in his instead. “Do both of us a favor tonight and listen to me. Take off these gloves, and give all this stuff a chance, before it’s too late.” Philippe stared at him, confused by his words. Why so suddenly?
“I promise I will think about it during dinner,” he finally said, even if his confusion was still there, written in his beautiful blue eyes.
“I think I won’t have anymore from you right now, won’t I?” Philippe lightly smiled, nodding while releasing his hands from Bontemp’s gentle grasp.
“Yes, I think so. Now, It’s time for me to make my glorious entrance before my brother steals all the attention. How do I look?” the valet looked at him for a moment before smiling at him, a smile that could be compared only with a father’s one. Philippe had no memories about his father, at least not a clear one. All was blurred, he was so little when the man died, and Bontemps was the closest figure to a father that he could ever have. Yes, he had his uncle, the other Monsieur as his mother liked to call him, but it wasn’t the same. It would never be the same.
“Stunning. Maybe tonight will be your chance to steal all the attention, who knows.”
“Bontemps, sometimes I really don’t understand whose valet you are, mine or Louis’. But, thank you for your words. Now, clear the way, the show is beginning.” Philippe straightened his naked shoulders and raised his head, ready to make his entrance in the salon.
He knew what to expect once inside, he could already see in his mind all the kind of emotion that will appear on the nobles’ faces once they will see him dressed like that. Disgust, hilarity, concern, maybe rage (probably Louis’), even desire if someone hadn’t ever seen him like this.
Philippe was curious, like every time he crossdresses, on how much people would try to talk to him with feminine pronouns. Yes, he was dressed like a woman, but he was a man under all that fabric and ribbons. He liked to be a man, a man that liked to cross-dress too. He knew that in other circumstances if he hadn’t been the king’s younger son and then the king’s brother, he would probably be imprisoned and sent to the American colonies if caught dressing like that in public. But, that was France, that was the Palais Royale, and that was royalty. And even if Louis often liked to forget sometimes, Philippe was royalty too.
Monsieur crossed the door of the Grand Salon, a polite smile on his lips and his eyes right ahead of him, pointed on the Queen just at the farthest end of the room. Philippe let his stare to pose on his brother, right beside their mother, and for a second the blue of the sea met the azure of the storm. If they were still kids, Philippe would have probably lowered his gaze, afraid of the consequences of disrespect to the king. But now he wasn’t a kid anymore, he was a young man, he was a soldier on his inner side. He would win a war, he knew it for sure. But Philippe was locked in the palace instead, studying the war from the books and the stories of those who lived that kind of reality.
The two brothers were now facing each other and after a little moment, the room went silent. Philippe smiled again at that sudden absence of any sound, it seemed like everyone had stopped breathing. Bunch of cowards, it was the only way he could call all of them, even if it was only in his thoughts. After all, even the king’s brother had to respect his guests. At least, aloud.
Philippe bowed in front of his brother, or better, he made a reverence, as every other noble lady had done before him. He knew Louis would be mental for it, but he also knew the king would never throw a fight right there, in the middle of the party. After a couple of glasses of wine, he would forget about his ladylike reverence.
“Enough, brother,” Philippe raised his eyes at those words and realized Louis was watching him politely, not a sign of disgust written in his sight. “You look stunning tonight, our mother has a talent for fashion, I’m sure you agree.”
Now he was confused, who the hell is this, and what happened to his annoying brother?
“Of course she has,” Philippe said with a little voice, smiling though feeling like the most confused man of the country. Or the world, better.
“Well, you remember Henrietta, right?” the prince looked at his brother like he had something growing on his curled head.
“You mean our childhood friend Henrietta? The Henrietta who I played cards with all afternoon? Yes, I think I might remember her.”
For the first time that night, his gaze went on Henrietta, beautiful as always in her light pink dress. Her eyes had the same veil of confusion as his own, they matched perfectly.
“I believe you two would be a perfect match, don’t you think mother?”
Oh, there it is, the pink elephant he felt behind him, the knife ready to stab him right between his shoulders. He knew something was up, but he didn’t imagine it would be out so soon. Philippe looked at his mother then and her smile explained everything, all the cards were on the table now. Bontemps words echoed in his mind, a bleary warning that he hadn’t caught. Maybe the valet thought he had more time. Well, he hadn’t.
“Louis, I don’t…” Henrietta tried to say something, but she was smarter than that, she knew nothing she said would change anything. And so do him, he knew nothing could be done at this moment. So he straightened his shoulders like the man he was, so much in contrast with his dressing and his looking, but he knew by his brother’s eyes that he never looked more masculine before.
“I think some decisions have been already made about this. So, brother, who am I to interfere?” Philippe asked rhetorically and made a reverence again, smiling to his fiancée (oh, he had to practice saying this out loud) in the process. “Now, if you excuse me, I would like to take advantage of my last free man night. I think we will see each other at the dinner table, won’t we?”
And he was gone, gone before his tongue got him in more trouble. He only needed some wine, so much wine, and everything would be alright.
Philippe knew someday that night would come, the moment in which Louis will tell him who he had to marry. Thinking about it, he was lucky after all. He knew Henrietta very well, they were friends for years, she was the first one he told about his preferences, and she was always supportive of him. She told him she was in love with his brother, she hoped Louis liked her back and maybe marry her someday. But that day will never come, and the truth was slapped in their faces in front of every noble of France.
How kind of him, so caring.
Philippe sighed at these thoughts, closing his eyes to gain some strength he was sure was missing. His life was at a breaking point, and he thought about it as an island, divided by a swollen river. On one side, there was him in his high uniform, a shiny sword tied at his left side, Henrietta at his right one, dressed in the most beautiful wedding dress he would ever imagine. On the other side, there was always him, dressed with his casual wardrobe, a huge smile on his face, and a male figure beside him. His hand shows a mark, a soulmate’s mark that looked like the one his mother talked about in all her bedtime stories when he was a child.
“Your Highness?” reality brought him back in that salon, to that voice calling him. Philippe opened his eyes and turned, frowning at the sight of Bontemps in the company of a boy he’d never seen before.
“Bontemps. Something wrong?” he tried to say, clearing his throat soon after. The valet shook his head, nodding at Philippe’s hands.
“I see you followed my advice, Your Highness, I’m so glad about it.” Philippe looked at him in confusion and lowered his gaze on his hands, wincing slightly when he saw his naked skin. Probably he took off his gloves while deep in thoughts, or he was so idiotic and didn’t notice someone was taking them off. He hoped for himself it was the first option.
“Oh well… Maybe. I think my brother’s words were… convincing, you know. Who’s this?” Philippe pointed a finger to the young man at the valet side, making him wince for a second. Then a smile broke on his handsome face and his eyes met Philippe’s before he bowed in front of him.
“My pleasure, Your Highness. My name is Philippe de Lorraine, but they call me Chevalier. I think it has the same effect as your Monsieur, Monsieur.”
“He is the Count of Armagnac’s younger brother, just designated after his father’s death. They arrived today to live here with some other noble families. Our King’s idea.” Philippe snorted for a second, but he smiled right after, as his eyes were back again in the other Philippe’s.
“Well, it seems like we both have a brother ahead of us, don’t we?”
“For this reason, I thought, with your mother’s consent, you two could have something in common. The palace can be so huge and empty sometimes.”
Philippe frowned at the mention of his mother so out of place in that sentence’s contest.
“I must say my mother had a lot of surprises for me tonight, hadn’t she?” the Prince murmured, lowering his gaze for a second. When he looked up again, he met the Chevalier’s smile, and his own lips moved to mirror that expression. He was handsome, and that was a fact. He had long, blond hair, so fair that it almost reflected the salon’s lights.
“Well,” the Chevalier’s take a step ahead, presenting his right arm to him. “I think we shouldn’t make them wait, shouldn’t we?”
Philippe smiled, a real smile so different from those he reserved for the nobles and for his brother. The Prince took that arm then, pleased at the sensation of his jacket fabric, so soft under his naked hand.
“I totally agree with that. Bontemps, I hope our guest will find a seat beside mine at the table.” The valet smiled at his Prince, bowing slightly in front of them.
“Of course, Your Majesty."
The dinner went better than Philippe could ever imagine. In the beginning, he felt awkward to sit between his new, stunning, fiance’ and his new good looking friend, but his smart-talking and the wine made Philippe relax before the main course. Food was eaten and more wine was drunk, the atmosphere in the Salon light and full of its occupants’ smiles. In that joyful air the Chevalier’s took his right hand, skin against skin, making Philippe shiver a little bit.
"You know, people say that this palace has the most wonderful garden in the whole of France. I would really like to see them, at the lantern light they would be even more breathtaking.” Philippe’s smile grew on his lips at that request and nodded briefly, feeling his black hair move around his head.
“I think that is a wonderful idea. And I would like some fresh air.” The Prince replied, adjusting his gown before standing up, hiding their entangled hands in the fabric of his skirt. While they were crossing the room to the door, Philippe’s eyes met Bontemps’. The valet was openly smiling, some kind of sparks in his gaze. The younger smiled back, catching that sparkle and knew its twin was now in his own fair eyes. Philippe hurried a little his pace, entering the gardens with a sigh of relief, the fresh air of that beautiful night like a gentle touch against his skin.
“I knew they were beautiful. But, Your Highness, I believe your mise en place put everything else in the shadows.”
“What a charmer, You are,” Philippe was delighted by his attention, he would be a fool to deny it. That man in front of him was saying everything he wanted to hear by someone, he was holding his hand in that kind of way he thought he could only dream about. For the first time, he felt ‘normal’, a young man like the ones of his mother stories, that valet in which he always feels so identified. “Surely, You say all of this to every man You want to sleep with.” The blond tightened his grip on his hand, taking it to his lips. He gave him a perfect kiss on the back of his hand, making the prince almost blush.
"You believe it or not my prince, I’ve never done something like this with anyone else.“ The Chevalier’s voice was so clear that Philippe couldn’t do less than believe him.
The Prince took a step forward then, coming closer to that man and to his mermaid’s voice. Maybe that was what Bontemps was babbling about a few hours before, that marriage wasn’t made for soulmates. In fact, when Philippe thought about it, even in his mother’s stories rarely soulmates were married at the ending of the tale.
"You know… call me a fool or naive if you like. But, Chevalier de Lorraine, I believe you.” and their entangled hands were the proof of his speaking. Chevalier’s hand was warm against his own cold one, and the prince found himself shivering for it. That was new for him, he never felt something like that for anyone. “And I think You could accompany me to a little walk among the oranges, couldn’t you?"
And he did. He guided the prince through the gardens as he knew them for his whole life. The moon, high in the cloudless sky was their guide, the bright stars the only witnesses of their time together, the audience of one of many kisses that they gave each other that night. Words were said, so many to fill thousands of pages of a book Philippe will certainly keep forever in his mind.
Splitting for sleep was hard, both their faces a mirror of what they spent the night doing. Their lips were swollen, still red and wet even when they reached the hallway in front of Philippe’s rooms. The candles were the only audience of their last kiss, the braids in Philippe’s hair were a long-gone memory. Now his dark, long waves were loose on his shoulders, the makeup on his face not so in place anymore. But the Chevalier didn’t seem to care, both his hands were holding the Prince’s face and he locked their eyes together.
“Henceforth, every day that I do not touch you, taste you, feel you, will be a day of death and mourning.” Chevalier murmured right against Philippe’s lips before kissing him again, and that tasted like a goodnight kiss. A new, bright smile cracked on Monsieur’s face, while his hands flew in a second to cover the other ones.
“You don’t have to worry. I’m not going to let a single day pass without seeing you, touch you, taste you, or feel you. You are under my skin, Chevalier de Lorraine… and you don’t even know what kind of trouble you put yourself on.” The smile on the other man’s face didn’t show any kind of worry. Chevalier kissed his forehead this time,
the small hint of blond mustache pinched his skin, and for a split second, Philippe thought about that sensation on other parts of his body, so much more sensitive than his visage.
“I’m not worried, my Prince. I know royalty always keeps its promises,” He said and took a step backward, sliding aways his hands from the other’s face. “I’ll see you tomorrow, will I?”
Philippe simply nodded, biting his lips while he watched the blond young man walk across the corridor, and disappear around the corner. A huge smile took place on his lips as he turned around and entered his quarters, the feeling of those gentle hands still a relevant feeling above his skin. He watched himself in the mirror again, like he did a few, but that felt like years, hours earlier. Now, his hairstyle was completely ruined, his precious hair clip was now pinned on Chevalier’s jacket, right where Philippe had placed it while in the gardens. He liked the idea the other owns something it was his, and that hair clip was his favorite.
The prince let his own gaze go down to his neck and he moved his long hair to look better at his soft skin. There was one little, but so visible, red spot on it, right down his jawline. Philippe touched it like he was afraid of feeling it burn, but it didn’t. It was warm, yes, but a good kind of warm, and it was tender under his fingertips. His first love bite. Someone cleared his throat again, and the prince got distracted again from his inspection. A valet was behind him, a little smile on his own face but a particular sign on his cheek took the other man all the attention, a shape of a handprint. A birthmark, it seemed. A soulmates’ mark.
“Your Highness, I think it’s time to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day, I can assure you that, if I may.” Philippe took a moment to look at him, before answering. He was a ginger, so rare in their country, his curly hair cut really short so anyone could barely see he was curly. Nobody was cutting their hair like that in France, so Philippe frowned a little.
“You may. Begin to unfasten the corset.” the prince ordered and took away his waves, so the valet could reach the laces. He saw him nodding and reaching him, soon beginning to work with the knots. “Why is your hair so short?” he asked him, without really the intention to. But the boy kept his smile, his hands still busy with the laces.
"My lover liked them this way. It shows my mark.” The valet’s voice was calm like he was talking about the weather, or the soup he ate for dinner. “He is very proud of it. And so am I.” The prince kept watching him through the mirror, his hands still caressing his own hair.
“I’ve never seen you here before. What’s your name?"
"Lucas, your Highness. And yes, I arrived today, with the nobles and other valets.” Philippe nodded and he never let the gaze flip from the valet reflection. He felt the corset loosen the grip around his own torso, and the Prince could finally breathe properly again.
“For what it’s worth, we are very grateful to your highness for allowing us to follow our masters. At home… It would have been very hard. “ Philippe watched him turn and put the garment back with attentive eyes, always through the glass.
“I would like to take all the credit for my brother’s placement choices, but in reality my observations count as very little. Although I’m glad it’s a good thing for some of us at least, ” The prince then saw him smile as he approached again, working hard afterward to untie the bows of the dress’s skirt.
“I don’t want to be indiscreet, but I noticed earlier that you bonded with master Philippe. I haven’t seen him smile like that since the count of Armagnac was still alive, ” the prince tightened his shoulders hearing that name, narrowing his eyes.
“To live here, maybe you have to learn to keep your tongue in check.” the valet immediately lowered his face, actually realizing that he had talked too much.
“Forgive me, your highness,” he said, continuing with quick hands to finish his job and help him put on his nightclothes. During the action, Philippe could not get that bright smile out of his mind, and he could not even imagine seeing that face obscured by sadness. He walked towards the bed almost like a puppet, sitting on the mattress before looking at the valet again.
“Thanks and … I’m sorry. I was thoughtless, ” he said almost as if it were a secret, and he noticed the boy smile as he heard him address to himself like that.
“You know, you are so different from what is expected. And it’s a good thing, your highness. One day who knows .. You could be a great king. ” Philippe was speechless for a moment, but Lucas gave him no way to reply. “But now you have to rest. A great day awaits you, ” he continued and blew on the candles, so they both found themselves in the dark. Philippe heard him go away and saw him in the twilight go through the door of his bedroom, going out and closing it behind him.
When he woke up the next morning, Philippe was sure that his lips were red exactly like the night before. He felt his head in full motion, the previous night spent reviewing all the memories of the past evening, those kisses, and those light touches. For a moment, as soon as he opened his eyes, Philippe thought it was just a giant dream. Then he had felt his swollen lips and the discomfort at his torso where the corset splints had tightened him, and yes, it was all true. A smile was born spontaneously and he ran a hand through his hair still with his eyes closed, removing it from his rested face. He then brought that same hand to his mouth but stopped halfway. There was something different, the tone of his skin was different. It was more red, like a birthmark he was sure he didn’t have before.
No, it was not possible.
He sat up suddenly, without taking care of the hair in front of his face this time. He blamed the semi-dark that still reigned in the room, surely he had seen wrong. Then he quickly got up from the bed, throwing the covers sideways, making them almost fall off the mattress, and hurried with his bare feet to the window. He opened the doors without care, letting the wood slam and the roaring rumble for his apartments. Then he laid his eyes on her skin again and felt his heart beating madly in his chest as if it wanted to go out and plant himself on that wine-colored skin. The prince only looked up when he heard the door of the room open, revealing a breathless Lucas, still in light clothes and a jacket that was evidently thrown hurriedly on his shoulders to seem presentable.
“Your highness, what ..” he stopped too, noting what had shocked him in that way. And when Philippe noticed the bright smile on the face of that boy he had just met, he understood that yes, it was really what he thought. At that moment he really felt part of those stories that had accompanied him throughout his childhood, and the phantom island that seemed to represent his life appeared again in his mind.
But this time, the hand joined to his was Chevalier’s, both of them smiling. And then all the words that Philippe had no sense during the evening before found a place, beginning to write his personal story, worthy of being written alongside those present in the journal that his mother so jealously guarded.