DISCLAIMER: All characters, contained
in this part, are the exclusive property of Marvel Comics.
I am neither using them to make me a profit or to bring down
Marvel’ s particular heavens with a crash. :) Comments however
are much appreciated at email@example.com as is any criticism,
kvetches and bouquets, along with requests for archiving.
I won’t say no. :) Um, this part is probably a G, if I had
to rate it. Sex is mildly implied, but I use the precise same
words as Queen Victoria so I doubt anyone will be offended.
Oh, there’s also a pseudoVoudoun ceremony - well, the tailend
of one, because I have no idea how the ceremonies really run
and didn’t want to guess. Otherwise, no romance etc ... in
this one, merely a competiton between two masters of their
Mercy still clinging to his arm and talking nineteen-to-the-dozen,
Remy made his way to the outside cottage that Tante Mattie
had claimed as her hospital. She spent her mornings there
and her afternoons at the Assassin’s Guild, caring for those
who needed her, daring them to make her choose between her
two families. Consequently, he knew he would find her there,
but he did not know whether she would be free to help him.
Between the feuds that were so much a part of clan politics
and the injuries obtained by careless thieves, the beds were
seldom empty and Tante Mattie refused to leave until every
patient had been treated. Pain and death were personal affronts
to her, and she dealt with them ruthlessly.
"Looks like you’re in luck, mon frere," Mercy commented,
jerking her head to where the traiteur was hanging herbs to
dry on the low, wooden beams of her cottage. Remy grimaced
reflexively at the remembered taste of them. Although Tante
Mattie cared tenderly for the sick, she had no patience for
malingers and believed that foul medicines would logically
speed up the healing process. As to the times when he had
pretended to be ill ...
Seeing the expression on his face, his sister-in-law laughed
and called, "Hey, Tante, our family disgrace be home. Looks
a bit under de weather, though. Could probably do wit’ some
o’ ya herbs."
Turning to face them, the other woman joined her rich chuckle
to Mercy’s and held out her arms to Remy. Almost as wide as
she was tall, dressed in a shimmering robe of reds and golds
with matching beads woven into her hair, she looked like nothing
so much as a maternal parrot. Remy bent to kiss her on the
forehead, inhaling the fragrance of rosemary and lemon thyme
that he had associated with her since childhood. It was a
safe, comforting smell; a smell remembered from being held
in her arms after the nightmares had passed. She had spent
many sleepless nights in his bedroom, stroking his hair, whispering
that everything would be fine and she would box the ears of
any loup-garou who dared come near her boy. She was the closest
thing he had to a mother, and, although it had been fifteen
years since she had beaten up any bogeymen, he knew he would
still believe her if she said everything would be fine.
"Mercychile," she clucked in disapproval, "Ya should be restin’,
insteada gallivantin’ around the house like ya ain’t eight
The blonde woman made a face, "I’ll go insane if I have t’spend
one more minute looking at de ceilin’, an’ it wouldn’ do for
de grand heir t’de LeBeau name t’have a crazy mother."
Even beneath the lightness of her tone, the bitter relief
in her voice was evident. If the child were born healthy,
she would have one less sham to endure in her marriage. She
had quipped once that she lay back and thought of Clan LeBeau,
but her blue eyes had looked like bruises when she had said
it. He hoped for her sake that this one pregnancy would be
enough to continue the family-line.
Resting his hand on her shoulder, he commented ironically:
"Clan LeBeau expects every good woman t’do deir duty, huh?
Dey’ve given up on me ever settlin’ down so de responsibility
falls on you an’ Henri. It’s a damn shame, Merse."
Her lips curved in a smile that did not reach beyond them,
"Some woman’ll collar ya yet, Rem."
A woman’s face, as hazy and half-remembered as a dream, flashed
before his mind’s eye. Had her hair been white, like Ororo’s,
or had it been chestnut? Had her eyes been green? Her name
was Carol, but it also was not? What was her real name? He
shook his head, knowing that there were far more important
issues at stake than a random woman who might not even exist.
"Dat reminds me why I’m here, Tante," he said, "As I tol’
Mercy here, I woke up yesterday mornin’ t’find dat I couldn’
remember what happened de previous evenin’. Fine, I guess
I coulda been tired enough t’just fall asleep, but dere are
t’ings dat don’t fit dat theory. F’r a start, my room smelt
like a woman’s perfume an’, f’r another, dere was a singed
card beside my bed."
"An’ you want me t’perform a Ceremony of Ownership for you?"
Tante sounded disapproving. Her large, square hand had gone
to the golden crucifix that dangled over her breasts. Although
she was a skilled practioner of Voudoun who used magic to
complement her healing herbs on occasion, she was also a professing
Catholic who took the creeds and dictates of her religion
"I wouldn’ ask, Tante, but I t’ink de woman in my room might
be involved in somet’ing huge," he sighed, "I assume Poppa
told ya about de e-mail I sent him, about Carol Dee an’ Valhalla.
I t’ink dis might have somet’ing t’do wit' dat an’, if I don’
find out who she was, de whole world might find itself knee-deep
Mattie nodded reluctantly, "Fine, I’ll perform ya Ceremony,
but, firstly, Remy Jean LeBeau, I’m going t’wash that mouth
of yours out wit’ soap."
When he had been a child, Remy LeBeau had sneaked into the
Atrium Mysticum or Hall of Mysteries that was situated at
the very heart of the Guild Hall. It was said to date back
to the Old Kingdom, although little enough was known about
that legendary time, and was rumored to have been the refuge
of a powerful mage when the Old Kingdom fell. She could not
save herself, the stories went, so she imbued the room with
all her power before turning herself into a statue. It was
said that the stones sung with magic, the air thrummed with
it. To the young Gambit, it had been an irresistable challenge
-- if one that had provided fodder for years of nightmares.
Even at eight, he had been good enough to pick the complex
lock that Jean-Luc had erected as proof against the more curious
visitors that the Guild attracted. He had even known the ancient
codes that unlocked the inner doors, although he did not grasp
the significance of the symbols that moved into a line beneath
his hands: the cloud, the eagle, the lance, the crown, the
spear. Torch gripped in his hands, he had descended the staircase
and emerged into a room that seemed to have been frozen in
Everything had been constructed of warm, golden stone that
had seemed to glow where his torch’s light had rested. The
twisted, melted remains of candles had edged a path that had
led to a dais on which three, velvet pillows had been placed.
Above them, a woman’s face, carved in stone, had appeared
to hold court. She had been beautiful in the same way that
a Greek statue was beautiful, serene eyes speaking of an ancient
wisdom and strength, of knowledge that was too old and too
deep to ever be revealed or fully grasped. Her lips curved
into a faint smiled, she looked as if she were watching him
from across the space of centuries. Fixed and transfixed by
her gaze, he had turned and sprinted upstairs, shaken by something
to which he could not put words.
At twenty-four, watching Tante Mattie perform a Ceremony
of Ownership, her stare still unnerved him slightly. Some
child-like part of him was grateful, therefore, that Mercy
had insisted on accompanying him and that the traiteur had
almost come to the end of the ritual, sprinkling pungent herbs
into a charcoal brazier and whispering words into the smoke.
It seemed to swirl and shift in response to them, like a charmed
snake. Finally, she removed the card from the tray beside
her and crumbled it into the ashes.
Remy sharply sucked in his breath as the smoke suddenly shifted
from grey to purple. Spots of silver, like a million stars
or fireflies, began to whirr around in the indigo mist and
coalesce into the figure of a woman. Every detail of her lovely
face was perfect, every hair on her head visible, and her
dress seemed to swirl around her as she walked. There could
be no mistaking her, he thought in horror, fingers going to
touch his lips. That was the woman who had been in his room,
the woman who had kissed him, but ... He swore beneath his
Clearly sensing something of his mood, Mercy’s slim hand
found his free one, her voice low and urgent in his ear: "I
know who dat be, Rem. I saw her on de news a month or two
ago. She de woman who killed Carol Danvers. Her name is..."
Hoarsely, "Her name’s Rogue."
Continued in Chapter
Atrium Mysticum - Hall used for the Mysteries (if you
want a very literal translation) I went on the picture given
in Gambit #12 for the description of both the room and the
Despite apparently being a bit of a nymphomaniac herself,
Queen Victoria did not encourage women to enjoy sex. They
were counselled to "lie back and think of England". ;)
The symbol-lock on the door was inspired by an episode
in David Brin's "Glory Season" although I have changed a great
deal of it. The significance of the symbols ... I might go
into that in another story. We'll see.
I also may have stolen a line from Robert Jordan that
I thought fitted Tante Mattie. I can't remember if he actually
used it or if someone else said it on a list, but ... hey,
I'm shameless that way.
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