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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Ephiginia
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 7

The Thieves' Guild's High Council had met in the same ancient room since the day it had been founded, plotting and planning for heists and the various ceremonies which made up Guild life. And though the walls and ceiling looked for all the world as though they'd crash down at any moment, nothing save divine intervention could have made the Council meet, even just once, somewhere else. The legends said that it was here the Benefactress had first called the heads of the ten Thieves' families together, and selected from among them a leader. But it was such a implausible thing for any of them to accept they could be standing in the same place as the one who had created the Guilds, that none of them really believed it.

The Council members had bickered and rambled half the evening away without even once touching on a relevant issue. So-and-so had been unsuccessful in a pinch; such-and-such had become a wealthy town ripe for the picking; an Assassin had said something insulting to someone's sister. It was the kind of talk during which Jean-Luc's mind wandered, and tonight, more than any night before, he certainly had much to mull over.

What did one do when one's son turned out to be a mutant? When their child suddenly discovered he could make nearly anything explode with little more than a touch? What happened when the son of a Thief had an Assassin's power?

He had dreaded coming here to the meeting, half-expecting for the others to be in an uproar. But not a word was spoken about Remy, and after an hour of meaningless chit-chat, the Guild leader began to think perhaps word hadn't gotten out about his son. But that, of course, was impossible. There were no secrets in this Guild, and the high-ranking LeBeau's were under the critical spotlight at all times.

Remy had shut himself up in his room, refusing to come out. His friends, even Bella, were turned away at the door, and Tante Rosie couldn't entice him, with pastries or uncommonly gentle words, to budge.

"Marcel Broussard's taken off for Sweden," someone said in a particularly loud voice.

"After dat diamond, is he?" someone else asked. There were mixed murmurs of approval and jealously.

"In de ol' days, one had t'ask de Guild 'fore he went off an stole somethin' under dat kind o' security," the first grumbled.

Jean-Luc sighed, and slid back further in his chair. The Council meet on the same night of each week, whether it was necessary or not, according to tradition. And though LeBeau had argued vehemently against it- time wasted on talk when it could have been used for practice, he reasoned- it was as integral to the Thieves' as this chamber was.

Europe. Jean-Luc had, at last, offered Remy an expedition to France. Time to think things over away from New Orleans would do the boy some good, in his opinion. Jean had known Paris and Angers just as well as he had known the streets of the Crescent City as a child; as the second son of the Guild leader, he had spent years honing his thieving skills with his mother in Europe while his older brother- heir to the family's prestigious position- had studied at home under their father. That had all been before sickness swept through the family, taking Jean-Luc's brothers and father to the grave, leaving his mother to take up the Council Chair of the LeBeau family as the boy began to learn the politics of the Guild.

"Non," Remy had said.

"You'd really rather just sit up here in your room, then?"

"I don't want t'go anywhere."

"It would be good for you. It would be fun."

"Poppa... I just don't want to go."

"You think it over," he had said. But a few days later, when he asked again, the answer was the same.

It was understandable, perhaps. Maybe he just didn't want to go because it would be one more new thing in his life, one more variation when normality was what he needed. Maybe Jean had best just keep quiet and hope for the best, and allow time for it all to pass.

If that was the good thing to do, he wasn't sure. He had made sure that everyone knew he was going to stay home as long as Remy did, including Remy himself. But beyond that, he was totally confused.

Time, he decided, for a trip to Mattie's.

"Jean-Luc?" someone said. And he noticed that several of the Council members were looking at him.

"My apologies, M'sieus," he murmured. "What was it you said?"

"If you agree dat Bernard LeBranche is nearly ready t'accept de Elixer," someone repeated for him.

Bernard LeBranche... his son, Henri LeBeau's friend. Jean hadn't seen Bernard since the two younger thieves had gone off to the East, but reports of his skill had tumbled through the ranks of the Guild. Henri, of course, had long ago had his first taste of the Elixer of Life. "Certainly, it is his right," he said. Most of the others nodded. Two showed their disagreement only with a subtle exchanged glance.

He glanced quickly at a clock, and repressed a smile. "It's time to close this meeting, everyone," he said, standing. The others were slower to do the same. After following the age-old tradition of shaking hands with each member, Jean was free, and he wasted no time making his way to the savant he had relied upon for years for advice.

Jean-Luc could remember when Tante Mattie had been young, and her house had been full of her younger relatives. The place had been as noisy and crowded as any New Orleans street, and it would have taken a diviner just to find her in all that ruckus. But all those who had frequented the little place had all moved away, some to the city, some farther into the swamps, and some to the coast or out of Louisiana, leaving Mattie alone here.

Even so, it hadn't changed much. It was still littered with exotic herbs and dried roots, statues and icons of the Virgin, and crucifixes. She was making something in her kitchen, though from the smell of it, he highly doubted it was food.

"Mattie?" he said, peeking in.

"Ah, Jean, nice to see you," she said, though she didn't turn to see him. She picked up a ladle and stirred something in a big yellow bowl, adding what looked like chopped up flower pedals in.

It wasn't much use trying to talk to her when she was absorbed in her work. He leaned against the wall and waited for her to finish whatever it was she was doing. It didn't take long until she said, "What brings ya here?"

"I need your advice," he told her.

"Oh?" She picked up a large black jar and dumped its contents out into the bowl unceremoniously. Then she spun on her heels and walked into her pantry, waving for Jean to follow behind.

"It's Remy," he said.

"What about him?" Her fingers ran across a dozen labeled pots, jars, and other containers, upon which not one name was recognizable to the thief.

"You haven't heard?"

"I haven't heard much of anything for a while. I been to busy to get to town."

"He's... a mutant."

"Oh," she said. Then she pointed. "See dat little tin up on dat shelf? Get it down f'r me." He blinked, then reached up obediently and took it down, cautiously. He knew better than to handle anything at Mattie's without great care- not because it could be poisonous or rotten, but because she would insist that whatever strange, rare substance was contained within be replaced if spilt or broken. Which usually proved to be nearly impossible, or expensive.


"Really," she said, turning back into the kitchen. "Couldn't you tell before? Dat boy's been seethin' wit' power ever since you met him. And his eyes..."

"What about them?"

She shook her head, spooning a crimson powder into her concoction. "Never mind. You can't see it yet, I'll reckon. Lissen-" she looked him directly in the eyes, "-he's still your boy. Nothin's changed. Ain't no fault of his he's different. An' you tell him dat. An' you also make sure to tell dat to anyone who'll try and argue."

"But his powers," he said. "What do we do about that?"

She shrugged. "Teach him to use 'em, of course."

"But how? I wouldn't I don't have a clue how to help him."

"Then," she answered, "you bring him to me. I'll do what I can. Don't use my own powers too often. But if you won't, somebody else got to."

That said, she went back to her concoction and stirred it energetically. "And you'd best be goin'," she added, when he didn't move. "De sooner de better. It's gonna be late night 'fore you get home."

"Thanks, Mattie," he said. "You've always been a help."

"I'll see you later," she said, and paused long enough to embrace him. "An you don't worry none. Remy'll be fine."

Mattie Bonte- not a true mutant, perhaps, but powerful none the less. Essex might have chosen another teacher, one more proficient in the use of powers similar to Remy's. But for the first, she would do.

Of course, there would be a time when Nathaniel would come for his son, and then the true training would begin. And the father waited with something less than patience for that day to arrive; when Remy LeBeau would stand beside the mastermind who had taken the title of "Sinister," as a perfect example of Essex's brilliant work.

And of course, someone who had lived this long in waiting could stand still a few years more.

Remy had, at a rather young age, developed the peculiar habit of visiting cemeteries. It was the fenced-in tombs of the Lafayette cimitiere in the Garden District he frequently haunted, the place where members of both Guilds had been laid to rest. Here, at least, there were no Guild territories, no claims to land made by Thief or Assassin; the dead had moved beyond the wars of the living. This refreshing concept was true only of what was sacre terre, sacred ground- namely, the churches and burial grounds which dotted all of New Orleans. And that may well have been why Remy came here. It was quiet, the only others who came here being the grief-stricken visitors who did nothing but mumble to those within the mausoleums, and the droves of the faithful and the curious tourists who flooded the famous Cities of the Dead once a year at All Saints'. Here it was eternally peaceful, eternally beautiful, and unchanging. Unlike the boy's life, which had been chaotic from the very start.

And so Jean-Luc knew exactly where to go to find his son. He walked through the shadows beyond the massive statues and monoliths which stood in rows white as bones, silent feet avoiding the places where thugs and dishonorable thieves would be, near the gates. Though he didn't hurry, and he didn't call out, it didn't take him long at all to find Remy.

He had been sitting by an old statue which stood atop the stone tomb of a girl referred to only as "Anna" in her epitaph. She'd died some hundred and fifty years ago at the age of fourteen, but her young face, which had been carved into the marble angel above her coffin, hadn't withered or aged in the weather and passing of time. Remy had always been drawn to her- someone born an age ago, but who lived on in everlasting rock, her delicate features masterfully captured by a skilled artist. The rest of her body, however, was plain, her granite body covered with the essence of an ordinary white dress, as though the sculptor had run out of talent- though perhaps not interest- after the head. She was the very embodiment of the place in which she now lay- permanent, tranquil, and most of all, very, very simple.

Remy was cross-legged at her feet, chin resting on the palm of his hand. He was so still that he might have been an extension of the statue, and he barely acknowledged his father as the man sat across from him, back against another mausoleum. They stared for a long time at each other, until Jean simply crossed his arms behind his head and looked to the sky.

"This is nice," he remarked.




"Been thinking much?"

"What do you mean?" Remy asked.

"It just seems like the place one would go to think," Jean-Luc shrugged.

"I guess." He paused. "Poppa?"


"You had a... a Guild meetin' tonight, right?"

"We did."

"Did you... well, what did..." he looked at the ground. "What did dey say about me?"

"Ah," Jean said, and smiled. "Nothing was said about you."

"So... I'm still part of the Guild?"

Jean looked at him sharply. "Of course! I wouldn't have allowed them to throw you out!"

"Maybe. But dey wouldn't take too kindly to me being a... mutie..."

"They said nothing," he repeated. "And you stop worrying about things changing. Everything will stay the same. You'll go on with your training, you'll become a master."

"But t'ings are different now!" Remy argued. "You can say things won't change, but how do you know somethin' unexpected like this won't happen again!" He waved his hand in the air, but his powers didn't manifest themselves.

"Even so- your family is waiting always with open arms for you- no matter if you're a mutant or not. No matter what happens. We love you. I love you." He locked his gaze with Remy's, and not until he had looked long and hard into his eyes did he notice what Mattie had said- that they were different. Almost as if they were darker. He pushed the thought aside. "Understand?"

Remy nodded slowly, and then stood. "Can we go home?"

"I am ready when you are."

They walked back to the front gates, both lost in whatever whirlpool of thoughts had possessed them at the moment. By the time they had nearly made it home, Remy finally looked up. "I love you, too," he said.


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