They met in a cafe, he was a young soldier, fighting for the Revolution, she a lady of good breeding, but untouched by Revolution. He sat across from her, his nervous glances, none to discreet, made her blush as she saw how handsome this young soldier was. She smiled at him, and for a moment his heart stopped in his chest. After a moment he stood and came over to her table. “May I?” He asked, politely, bowing his head slightly. “Yes, Mr.?” She said. He cleared his throat. “Corporal Francois Couvrettes, Miss?” He questioned, his nervousness almost forgotten, something in her style and the way she spoke, as if they had known each other much longer than five minutes. “Miss Denise Montcreux.” He paused for a second. He knew the name, knew the family to be of Jewish faith, knew they were just below the aristocracy in France. Their good fortune on being left alone thus far may not hold if the Guillotine should grow lonely and want for company again. He glanced away from her, could not dare to think of the horror of holding the crowd back as they Guillotined anyone whom they declared a “threat to the Revolution”. In his opinion, not that anyone asked nor did he volunteer it, the greatest “threat” to the Revolution was the Committee of Public Safety. He fought to bring himself back to that table, the little bit of peace before he left for Toulons to help push the British and their Royalist allies into the sea. He banished all trace of thoughts of Death and his duty for now, trying to appear happy. “Well, I suppose we should order something to eat, yes?” She questioned, he fealt the inside of his pocket, he had plenty to spend. “Most certainly.” He agreed. She smiled, waving the waiter over, she ordered some kind of pastry he’d never heard of before, he simply ordered a sweet biscuit to go with his coffee. “You Americans and your coffee.” She opined after their food and drinks were brought. He swallowed that particular sip of his coffee wrong. Trying not to choke or be impolite, he put his hand to his mouth for a moment until the burning liquid had gone. “What makes you think I am an American?” He questioned, innocence filling his voice as if he were being accused of a crime he had not committed. “Your accent gives you away, Corporal.” She said simply, the rank she added stinging him obviously. “You do not like the Army? Or is it that you are a mere enlisted man?” She asked, not trying to be rude or hurtful, she fealt herself falling for this man but would not allow it were he a coward or a braggart. She could tell by how he hesitated that he was developing the same feeling for her as she for him. Love. “No, it’s not that.” He said slowly and deliberately, obviously still trying to get used to how he spoke in French. “I just regret that I am not of a station more befitting to a lady as yourself.” He said. There it was, he thought he wasn’t good enough. She laughed, instantly regretting it as his face flushed with anger and embarrassment. “I am sorry, I was not laughing at you, just our circumstance.” He raised an eyebrow as he sipped his coffee, the size of sip showed how he longed for it to be stronger stuff than mere coffee. “Here we are, two people in a cafe on a sunny and beautiful day. The sky is blue, the sunshine feels fine on the skin, warming us to our very souls.” She said, sealing every thought, every feeling, every emotion along with his face and voice and the way he sat and walked and drank. “Yet, here we are, you thinking of the old conventionality of an enlisted man courting a Middle Class man’s daughter, whilst you fight for a Revolution that preaches Equality.” She said, he grinned, showing how foolish it sounded when she put it like that. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” He said, raising his voice and cup, all joining him in the toast. Most from fear of the National Razor rather than patriotism. He looked at her, his eyes laughing at the fearful response from a people who were supposed to be set free by the Revolution. “I have my morals and values as well, Miss Montcreux. I am not a mere mercenary or adventurer come here by chance or seeking fame and fortune. I came to fight for the Revolution ’89 because I’d seen how America had betrayed the fundamental designs of the revolution there.” He held his hand out and began to count off points on his fingers. “All men are created equal, yet still the plague of slavery stains the land. Freedom of religion, yet other religions are suspected and looked down upon. I had hoped that perhaps in France it would be a true Revolution in which the ideals would not be corrupted.” He glanced around. “Obviously I was wrong.” He said, sarcasm tinging his voice. No, not just sarcasm, but regret, so much regret for so young a man. “Do you regret coming to France?” She questioned, her voice faltering as she asked, fearful he’d say yes, and just as much if not more if he said no. “It’s not that easy, Miss Montcreux.” He said, his voice sad. She was about to apologize when he looked her in the eye with a flame that consumed her very heart and soul. His voice when he spoke was filled with such conviction, such raw emotion, that she wished to hold him in her arms and just stay there forever, his intensity only out done by his passion. “I do not regret the Revolution, nor my part in it. However I do regret the end result. When I came to France it was for ideals, not to start a new bloody Roman Age of barbarism and cruelty. I also do not regret coming to France for personal reasons which may seem selfish and which I rather not say at this time for fear of scaring you. However, none of this can quell the pain and sorrow in my heart at the things I have done and helped in doing.” He said, his eyes not seeing the cafe, but another place. “I have helped in the executions of thousands of people, some of whom had no crime but being hungry. Men, women, the old, the young, the weak. It does not matter to Monsieur Le Barber and his National Razor. I have killed for the Revolution and in It’s name I have bled and lost many friends. I have even lost more than friends to this Revolution. I have never seen cruelty or barbarism on this level before. Back home, in America, I fought for the Revolution and saw what a war was supposed to be. Between soldiers, not civilians at the mercy of men with guns and boots.” He sipped his coffee, she slowly moved her hand across the table and placed it atop his as he set the coffee cup down. “No matter what you have done or taken part in, I believe you to be a good man. I am usually correct in these matters. Now, you will listen to me. I wish you to be happy, to know true happiness. You have seen the worst of humanity, have you ever seen the best? Have you ever been in love? Have you ever been loved? I cannot answer for what you feel you are guilty of, but I can tell you that if you want to go on fighting than go, fight. If not, than do not.” He smiled, looking at her hand atop his. “Miss Montcreux,” he said, she raised her free hand. “Please, call me Denise.” She said, his face didn’t hide the shock as she allowed that level of familiarity from him. “You can call me Francois. If I do not fight, I die anyway, cowardice. If I try to leave France and get caught then i will be tried and executed for desertion. No, I must stay and fight.” He placed his other hand atop hers. “But now,” he looked into her eyes, “I believe I have something worth fighting for in a way that I never have before.” She could feel her heart beating in her breast, faster and faster. His was also beating wildly she realized, feeling his heartbeat through his hands. “Which is?” She asked, trying to keep her voice calm and cool. He gulped, as if unsure as to continue. “Well, Denise, I would like to make a promise to you and explain something. First, I am but a common soldier and therefore would not be suitable for your hand in marriage. Second, the first fact makes me incredibly sad, due to the fact that I love you, however, I am determined, even if it kills me, to bring myself to a station worthy of you. Perhaps I can get a commission as an officer somehow. But until then I cannot, nor will I ask for your hand.” He said, she was amazed, such a whole hearted Revolutionary, and yet so old fashioned at the same time. “I will not even ask for you to be true to only myself as I have no claim nor do I make one. Instead I simply ask if you would mind my writing to you?” He asked, nervousness coming into his voice again.

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