I. Needed and/or Valued
Bossuet had told me that his father was bald at twenty-five, as he was, and there the matter stayed until he insisted that we stay home one evening. He could not speak at first, but tried several times.
I patted his hand and tried to soothe him, but he only became more agitated. "I'm ill," he said finally.
"You look well enough."
"No no, love. It's damn my luck. It's the English disease."
I slapped him before I could think. "Bastard!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's too late "
"I've medicine enough for two."
We spent the evening in bed.
She could tell from his silhouette that he laced his waistcoat, enhancing the effect, and his smooth cheeks had more to do with a barber than his age. But he was pretty, undeniably so, and this particular boy with his charms and his airs would spite her aggravating lover more than anyone else. Let him writhe in jealousy rather than imagined fever for once.
No one had said her name properly since she left home, but the boy did. For that she could love him, for a night.
Bossuet would forgive her this, and he would forgive the boy anything.
Daumier ingratiated himself with Les Amis d'ABC. They joked with him and spoke at length with him about politics. He was surprised when Bossuet had approached him with words of love, but Théophile was too charming to refuse.
Not three days later, they were sitting together in the Cafe Musain when Prouvaire arrived and shrieked, "Let him go this instant, Théo!"
Bossuet blushed and squeezed Daumier's hand. "You left me."
"I thought you loved me."
Daumier tried to stand, panicked, but Bossuet touched his shoulder. "No, Constant. Stay."
"Go to Hell, both of you." Prouvaire left and slammed the door.
"Oh God, oh please, don't kill me," Jehan whimpered.
The National Guardsman twisted his arm harder. "What good are you to me, Republican brat?"
"Please. I'll do anything." Jehan reached back with a trembling hand and touched his captor's groin.
"Filthy boy." The guardsman dragged him into a doorway that hid them from the ranks in the street. "You're almost pretty enough to be a girl."
Jehan closed his eyes. "Anything."
"We're not to take prisoners." The guard readied his gun. "Shout. Make them think you're dead."
The word "future" was cut off as the guard shot into the air.
V. Keeping the Faith
"Jesus God, Jeannette " Marius kissed her and moaned against her lips.
She stroked his hair. "There, chéri, it's all right."
"More than all right." He kissed her cheek. "I should be going, though."
"Can't keep the baroness waiting, can we?"
Marius sighed. "Don't speak of her."
"She's too important."
Jeannette pulled away from him. "And I am only a trifle, I know."
"Jean, stop. You know what you are to me."
"Two wardrobes worth of expense," sardonically.
"Brother," pained, "stop."
Jeannette leaned back against the pillow. "I'm sorry."
Marius kissed her cheek. "Jehan tomorrow, nine-o'clock?"
"As you like."
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