Love is the Most Selfish of All the Passions

Chapter 5

The Cardinal spent the rest of the evening with Louis as his counsel while the King conducted business such as seeing a number of townsfolk coming to see him with problems, shop owners and vendors coming to sell items like food for the palace and for the people of France and new material for the King's and Queen's clothes, and finally planed a celebration for the Duke of Buckingham's upcoming visit. Louis didn't much like the Duke, but he didn't show it as their countries were allies whenever Europe went to war.

When they finally finished, Richelieu headed back toward his chambers and as he arrived, he found Count Rochefort waiting outside his doors. Instead of going inside, the Cardinal motioned for the man to follow him and together they walked through the corridors until they came upon a room where the Cardinal conducted most of his personal business in private.

As he opened the front drawer in his desk and pulled out a small bag containing silver coins, the Cardinal spoke up asking, "I take it that you have finished overseeing our men as they prepared for their newest assignment?"

Rochefort nodded and responded, "I've done just as you asked. Our men have left to enlist bandits and other criminals to join them, then will go after the musketeers. They will never know that a few among the scum are really members of the Red Guards."

"Well done, Rochefort," the Cardinal replied coolly. "It is wonderful to have you back, as my loyal captain. What do you think of the rest of the men under your command?"

"They are hardly worthy of being called soldiers, but they will have to do," the Count answered in frustration.

Cardinal Richelieu sneered in agreement as he responded, "Yes, unfortunately it seems that the best of France's soldiers are all a part of those blasted musketeers. However, if anyone can bring our men up to our standards, I do believe it's you."

Count Rochefort smiled and replied, "Indeed I can."

"Very good," the Cardinal answered as he handed his captain the small bag from his desk. "Thirty pieces of silver. A handsome sum as your monthly payment, wouldn't you agree?"

"The same payment I received from you when I agreed to betray the musketeers those many years ago," Rochefort responded smugly and pocketed the money as he turned to leave for the night, but then stopped and turned around as he spoke again. "I appreciate the irony of the payment, as it was what Judas received when he was asked to betray his so called Messiah."

Richelieu smiled as he replied, "I thought you might. Good night, Rochefort."

The captain answered, "Good night, Your Eminence."

Meanwhile…

Up in the King's and Queen's quarters, Louis was preparing for bed while Anne sat in their bed waiting for her husband to lie beside her, fear and sadness gripping at her heart. A part of her cared for the King, as he was kind to her and truly seemed to love her. However, she did not love him in return, as she never did. On the night that her father told her of her duty to become the Queen of France by marrying Louis, she felt anger and a deep sadness because she believed then that she would never find true love. And now she finally has, though not with her husband, but instead with a handsome young musketeer, fully devoted to protecting her and her unborn child; Aramis.

"Is there something wrong, Anne?" Louis asked as he finally laid himself down beside her and reached up to gently touch her face in order to turn her head to look at him. "You seem very troubled."

"No, of course not," she responded quickly as she became startled by his touch, then thought of something to hide the real reason of her fear. "I was only thinking. Why do you suppose there are so many people outside these walls who wish to harm us? I mean, we do our best to treat our people fairly and visit them often, even give them money every Sunday after mass. I genuinely care and love the people. What more can we do?"

Louis moved to get under the blankets as he replied, "The world is full of greed and hate, my dear. So long as all the power belongs to the kings and queens of France, there will always be those doing all they can to strip us of it. I love being King, at least most of the time, but you never really have. Why is that?"

Anne shrugged as she answered sadly, "I suppose it is just that I have never really felt as though I am up for this task. It isn't easy to be Queen."

The King leaned over and kissed his Queen passionately on the lips, then began to do so more forcefully as he slowly began to undo her garments, then roughly pushed her all the way down against the bed, preparing to make love with her, knowing that he wouldn't be able to for much longer once his child would begin to grow larger. Anne allowed him to do so because she knew she had no choice as he was her husband after all. Tears began to stream down her face as he continued. The only thing that allowed her to endure the pain as he forced himself upon her body, was her thoughts of Aramis, as she tried to envision him making love to her instead as he had so gently on the night before he had saved her from Cardinal Richelieu's assassination attempt on her.

When Louis finally finished some time later and rolled off of her to lay upon his back to go to sleep, Anne slowly rolled over onto her side, turning her back to the King while she continued to cry softly as she thought about the man she truly loved as well as his companions who were out there somewhere alone risking their lives once again. Before finally falling asleep, Anne said a silent prayer to God, asking Him to protect the musketeers and to keep them safe from harm, not really knowing if He was listening, but hoping that He was there for her as well as for them.

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