Trials Past

Versailles 1675

Author: Danielle Frances Ducrest <sword_girl[at]>

Disclaimer: Highlander concepts belong to Davis/Panzer Productions, Rysher Entertainment, and Gaumont Télèvision. Buffy characters/concepts belong to Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, Twentieth Century Fox Television, UPN, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, and Sandollar Television. Any copyright infringements were not intended. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit.

Summary: Marie's First Death.

Everything hurt. Her skull throbbed with a pain that began in the center of her forehead and ended at the back of her scalp. Marie de Champagne grasped her head in both hands. The pain only seemed to increase.

"Mademoiselle?" It was a man's voice, and it was a familiar one. "Marie, regardez-moi." Look at me.

She felt hands on her shoulders lifting her into a sitting position. Marie opened her eyes. It was le Compte du Crest, Count Alexander.

Her eyes met his. The throbbing in her head disappeared. "Compte du Crest?" she questioned. "Pourquoi-"

Her memory returned to her in a rush. She remembered crossing a road when a carriage appeared out of nowhere. She stared at it, frozen in fear. The horse's hooves bore down on her before the driver could make them stop, trampling her…

Marie sprang up from the bed and glanced around wildly. She recognized the bedroom as one of the count's. What had happened? Frantically, she pushed back the covers on the bed and stared. Her gown and undergarments were in tatters and stained with blood. Forgetting decency in a panic to see the state of her body with her own eyes, she frantically pushed open the tears in the layers of fabric without heed to the amount of skin she was publicly displaying. What she found bewildered her even more, for she found perfectly unblemished skin under every tear.

"Mademoiselle, Je peux expliquer," the Count told her. I can explain.

"Ce qui s'est produit?" Marie demanded. What's happened? "Sommes-nous dans le ciel?" Are we in heaven?

"Non, non," Alexander reassured her. "Nous sommes beacoup vivants. Nous sommes Immortel." We are very much alive. We're Immortal.

"Immortel?" Marie repeated, feeling very disoriented. "Je ne comprends pas." I don't understand.

"C'est vrai." It's true.

He told her everything about Immortality that he knew. He was not originally French, but Greek. His name was actually that of a peasant - Alexander la Velle. He'd lived for thousands of years and so could Marie. Marie thought it was all so fantastical. How could any of it be real? How could there be beings that could never die unless they lost their heads? And yet, if Immortals did not exist, she couldn't account for how she was still alive.

He told her about the Game. Marie was horrified. Why would other Immortals want to behead each other? And yet, she would have to learn how to defend herself if she wanted to live, and she really, really wanted to live. But she was a courtier. How could she wield a sword?

Alexander promised to teach her how to fight with a sword. In the meantime, she had to hide in his house. Her death had been a very public one. Everyone she knew - the Royal Family, her family and friends, the servants - all of them thought she was dead. She couldn't go back to her old life, no matter how much she wished she could.

Less than a week later, the two of them were leaving the city of Versailles behind. Marie wondered if she would ever see it again, and hoped she would live long enough to do so. She'd lived in Versailles fourteen years of her life, and had been a courtier and Paris before that time. She wondered if she could handle life away from the life of a courtier, and hoped that Alexander would teach her how to do that as well.