We all know how it went. Young Gambit married childhood-sweetheart Belladonna to unite their feuding families. His family steals things, her family kills things. Comprendez? But some of Belle’s family are less than happy and her brother tries to kill Gambit in a duel to the death, who promptly kills him in self defence and ends up exiled from New Orleans. And so he goes on to be an X-man…

This is what happened on another world. This is… What If?

He stood there frozen in the headlights of Fate. As eyes moved from the dead body of the second finest assassin of this generation at his feet to the bloodstained sword hanging loosely from his long pale hand. He did not resist as hands seized him, the red eyed scion of Clan LeBeau, the one they called the White Devil.

The light in those red eyes had died the moment he heard her scream. Those red eyes had stopped seeing the moment she ran to her dead brother’s body.

The only reason why he wasn’t dead in body as well as soul was the approaching clan patriarchs, their fathers, eyeing each other with mutual distrust, each suspecting some traitorous compact, some double-cross. But they knew there was none…

Here, in the secret underworld of New Orleans, there was honour amongst thieves. A truce had been called, and yet it had ended in the death of one heir. It remained to be seen if this night would end in the death of another.

Amongst the press of bodies in the cavern, each striving desperately to see some nuance on the faces of their leaders that would betray what was to be done, a woman older in years than her looks would ever show, staggered slightly. Her face an unnatural grey colour and her braids pushed back, she tried desperately to get through the crowd with renewed vigour.

The crowd wasn’t going to let some jostling old busy-body through. So she cried out, “LeBeau! Bordeaux! There need be no dying on this day! Exile the boy! The absence of his true love will be punishment enough!”

And the crowd parted to let Tante Mattie take her place amongst the leaders of the secret world that lay beneath New Orleans, the sorciere, who, they say, knew all and saw all. “You take my counsel, this is the best medicine I can offer.”

A cry rang out around the roof of the subterranean chamber. It was Belladonna. “No. If this must happen, for Tante Mattie is wise and you have the interests of our families at heart, then let me kiss my love goodbye.”

She walked towards him, the long limbed man with the face of an angel and the eyes of the devil, her white bridal train dragging in her slain brother’s blood.

She reached up to push back the auburn hair from his face. “Remy, close your eyes, and this moment need never end. I shall always be with you, wherever you are.”

They kissed as if that kiss had become their entire life as if all the passion of a lifetime had to coalesce into that one tender embrace. And Remy never opened his eyes, for to open his eyes would have been to acknowledge the reality, that he must go and that he would never set eyes upon the only woman he had ever loved, ever could love, again.

The guards stood back, for nobody could deny so great a love. I was as if their love was a light in the dark cavern and all had to stand back or be blinded. All eyes were on their lips as they desperately tried to map every contour, explore every hidden perfect spot so that they might remember it for all eternity. They held each other tight, knowing that they would never touch again.

So nobody saw the flash of steel in Belladonna’s hand as she reached to touch her lover’s heart. Nobody except Tante Mattie, and as soon as she could cry out, it was too late. She had already seen this, and she had relaxed her guard, she had already saved the life of her foster son.

Belladonna, well versed in the killing arts of her family, had sent her lover into the only exile she could bear. Those red eyes flickered open a moment only to close to the words, “Dors bien, Remy, I shall join you upon our wedding bed”

And with those words, she turned the dagger into her own breast, and, with all the gifts her family gave her, she struck herd and true. They were both dead before they hit the cavern floor

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