So here for our
perusal, the thoughts of a certain Mlle. Gillenormand at seven moments in her
life. Revived for the MajorlyMinor characters week
Hestia and Her Kindred
Her story, or rather lack of one, all began at her mother’s deathbed.
Even in later years she could still see the room in its sharpest detail: her
mother lying pale and too still in bed, the doctors arguing among themselves in
a corner, and her little sister squalling in the arms of the nursemaid. The
only person absent of course had been their father. She had not even bothered
changing out of her stiff boarding school dress, but as soon as she had set
down her belongings she rushed to her mother’s bedside and clasped her hand.
“Maman? Maman, I’m here!” she had shouted.
Madame Gillenormand could only open her eyes for a second. Those
once lustrous hazel orbs were now dull, made even more forlorn by her limp dark
hair dragging about her face. “Celeste?”
“It’s me. I’m home,” she said. She loved it when her mother
used her pet name ‘Celeste’, which always sounded so much better than her given
name ‘Celestine’. “Maman, you’ll be better now—“
Madame Gillenormand shook her head tiredly as she let go of
her eldest child’s hand. “You be a good girl, Celeste. Be a good girl for your
“But Maman—“ Celestine protested, only a moment before the
doctors returned to the bed. “Is she dying? What are you going to do her?”
“We have to try another medicine. Run along, Mademoiselle
Gillenormand,” the most stooped and frightful looking of the physicians had
Celestine looked around and saw that her sister and the nurse
were now gone. The reek of physic hit her nose, forcing her to bolt out of the
room. She ran through the house, past their father’s study where she could hear
him having a chat with another nice woman who’d come to their home the day
before, past guest rooms being emptied for the inevitable arrival of mourners,
and all the way up to the quiet nursery in the topmost floor.
Their nurse was already asleep, having had only enough
strength to put the younger Gillenormand girl in the cradle before dozing off
in a chair. Celestine had to wipe her eyes before going to the cradle to see
her sister. “You’re too little to know anything, Lucille,” she whispered when
she saw the little girl staring back at her with a bewildered expression. She
figured that she and Lucille were lucky; she’d known their mother for twelve
years and Lucille for just two, but other children knew nothing of their
parents at all. That did not make the situation any easier though.
Celestine sighed when she saw Lucille whimper and begin to
fuss. Before she could scoop up her sister, the nursemaid stirred.
“Mademoiselle Gillenormand, what are you doing?” the woman asked sharply.
“Only trying to help,” Celestine replied as she backed off
from the cradle.
The nursemaid huffed and went to pick up Lucille. “Go
somewhere else. Read your lessons.”
“Maman is dying.”
“Then go pray for her. Say your beads. They taught you at
the convent, didn’t they?”
“Yes, Madame,” Celestine whispered before running off to her
own room. She quickly unpacked her trunk and found her purple glass rosary at
the bottom of everything, nearly squashed between a pair of stays. She snatched
up the beads and clutched them to her chest, knowing better than to trust in
human hands to hold.