A/N: I actually managed to get my hands on the book (although I did have to pay an arm and a leg, and even sell my soul at some point for it, it was so worth it!) Hopefully my portrayal of the characters is more accurate now.
Young Motier poked his head around the guest bedroom door. Disorientation forced his features into an uneasy smile. He had no idea where all the other occupants of this household were residing… Not to mention, where Georges was. This house was big. Big enough to get lost in. His own home was large, by all means, but this chateau was something else altogether! Never before had he been somewhere so posh and refined. There was this one time he visited Versailles with his family in the summer, two years ago, but even then he wasn’t sure it could possibly be as regal as Georges’ house. Nothing could beat Georges’ home, Alexandre decided there and then.
Fingering the door frame, and feeling a little overwhelmed, Alexandre cast his eyes over to the far end of the corridor; a flash of white fur shot out from an adjacent door way. Shuffling his feet into slippers, he made his way over to the Persian cat and scooped her up into his arms. There, they would be lost and confused together. With the reluctant cat held hostage in his cradled arms, the perplexed boy ambled down the red-carpeted hallway big enough to house a family of five, his wide eyes scanning the room for any sign of life. Portraits of long-forgotten De Sarre aristocrats lined the walls with watchful eyes. His face broke into a broad grin as a familiar, yet sleepy face peeked around the door and met his gaze.
‘Good morning,’ Georges said, very formally, yet even he couldn’t keep his face straight to mask the joy he was feeling. ‘This is the earliest time I’ve ever seen you.’
Alexandre checked his wrist watch. ‘Seven-thirty,’ he beamed, ‘Another memory for us to share.’
Georges gave Alexandre a full-body scan. He blushed all over when he realised he was wearing the rose-coloured pyjamas he had kissed in a stolen moment in Alexandre’s dormitory. Instead, he focused on the disheveled golden blonde locks, and brushed them into place, no matter how cute he initially thought it made Alexandre look. It would make his mother irritable to see a hair out of place — especially on another boy.
‘Before we get dressed, I have somewhere to show you,’ Georges said, linking his hand with his friend’s. Now they were perfectly alone (save for the cat) he had no reason to hide the affection he felt for the youngster. It was blissfully open and honest, a quality Georges felt he had lost at Saint Claude.
Pausing, he added: ‘In fact, I have many things to show you, before we leave for the seaside.’
His friend could barely suppress his happiness at the idea. It was very exciting for Alexandre to stay at Georges’ home for the summer, and he wanted to see everything there was to see, and do everything there was to do. Typically he’d be spending his dog days cooped up in a bedroom along with Maurice, his elder brother, who made it obvious he wasn’t exactly desired there (he’d much rather be off doing the unmentionable with his mother’s silly chambermaid, and Alexandre just got in his way). Either that, or deliberately forgetting about the list of wholesome activities to do in the summer, handed to him by the Rector from Saint Claude — all at the same time as desperately dodging Father Lauzon’s attempts at “saving him from the Devil”.
The eldest boy cheerfully led his companion to the award-winning garden, smiling happily to himself at the memories of Easter, where he imagined a pyjama-clad Alexandre playing in his garden. His flight of imagination would become a reality, he was sure of it. In his fantasies, Alexandre had been many things; the Pope, a young Roman soldier, a nymph, but this Easter memory was his favourite of all.
Alexandre opened his eyes. He was in the most beautiful garden he’d ever visited in his life. Almost every flower he could think of was there, giving off a delicate aroma and jewelling the striped velvet lawn with clusters of exotic, traditional, rare, and common flora. His favourite of all flowers were the white lilies by the greenhouse.
Almost although reading his mind, Georges strode over to the lily bed and plucked three of the largest, finest lilies. As he handed the posy to Alexandre, he said: ‘These flowers have always reminded me of you, you see. I asked mother to get the gardener to plant some, and so I dedicated them to you.’
‘Thank you,’ Alexandre said, blushing bright red. ‘Your garden is simply wonderful.’
Placing a gentle hand on his guest’s shoulder, Georges brought him to the place he spent many lonely days at home fantasising of, the Baroque water fountain. Soft pattering noises were made as the purified water jetted into the main basin, surrounded by little cherubs and bewitching women from long ago, all wearing ethereal garments spun of stone. Whilst clasping his lilies to his chest, Alexandre rolled his pyjama pants up to his mid-thigh and carefully stepped into the first ring of the fountain. Childishly, he willed for Georges to join him, and began to splash him with chilled spray, giggling although he were five years old again. First Georges’ expression was one of complete surprise — how did this work out exactly as he imagined? — but it quickly grew to one of competitive, frivolous glee.
Before they knew it, the family butler was making his way towards them, his strides brisk and stealthy.
‘Master Georges, your parents have requested that you and your young friend get dressed, for breakfast is in fifteen minutes. I trust you have already packed your bags for today’s trip?’
‘Yes, Edgar,’ a stunned Georges replied hastily, his cheeks flushing a rosy pink with embarrassment.
Besides him, Alexandre’s expression was as serious as a Philosophy professor’s, just as it had been that time in March where he had to explain himself to his confessor. He didn’t look ashamed in the slightest, in fact, he looked disappointed that the butler had to spoil their fun.
‘Could you tell them we’ll be there shortly? I just have to show Alexandre something quickly,’ Georges said, the colour in his face fading to it’s typical lacklustre complexion.
‘As you wish, sir,’ the butler responded, bowing slightly and taking his leave.
When he was gone, Georges breathed a sigh of relief. ‘And I thought we were perfectly alone!’
‘That butler is as sneaky as Father Lauzon,’ Alexandre agreed, pursing his lips. ‘What is the other thing you want to show me? Is it more flowers?’
‘No, not flowers. It’s an item in my father’s collection, dating from around the Roman era.’
‘You have a keen interest in history, Georges,’ Alexandre commented. ‘Are you sure I should be on familiar terms with such an intellectual?’
The eldest turned to look at him with such amusement in his eyes, that Alexandre himself burst into a laugh. After drying themselves off and dressing with haste, Georges in his blue shirt that was Alexandre’s favourite, and Alexandre dressed in short pants and a navy blue sailor shirt under Georges’ instruction; both of them sporting the red cravats that had brought them together in the first place. Side by side, they admired themselves, and each other, in the Baroque mirror in Georges’ bedroom.
Through the mirror’s reflection, Alexandre watched as Georges stretched out his hand to his and entwined their fingers. Their eyes met, and both mouths stretched into a knowing smile as the eldest boy’s hand travelled down to touch the youngest boy’s bare legs. He gave Alexandre’s slender, sun-kissed legs a soft pinch before placing both hands on his shoulders and pushing him to the front. Naturally, Alexandre closed his eyes, for he knew without a doubt that Georges would tell him to close them. The youngest was led, once again, to the family study where Georges’ most coveted possession was kept.
On the way to the study (which took quite a few minutes to get to, as it was on the other side of the chateau to Georges’ bedroom), Georges had time to become nervous about his decision to show Alexandre his father’s coin. What if Alexandre laughed? What if he thought he was strange or creepy, to be so obsessed with Alexandre that he would become enamoured with such a thing? Georges knew he would devote himself to collecting all kinds of items that reminded him of Alexandre; once he left home, of course. He also knew that he would bankrupt himself in the process, and would be absolutely happy to just as long as he was surrounded with reminders of this enchanting child.
When they both had their faces close to the glass, Georges explained himself:
‘The boy on this coin was so beautiful, that it reminded me of you. He kind of reassembles you, don’t you see?’
‘Oh, yes,’ a flattered Alexandre blushingly replied, gazing intently at the piece of bronze.
‘When it was the holidays and I couldn’t see you, I would visit this coin. Unfortunately, it’s all the way over in the study… I’d really like it in my bedroom, so I can see it all the time, but father would think it strange of me to ask him to move it into there.’
‘I suppose he would. But it truly is a wonderful collector’s item,’ Alexandre said. ‘Did you sa—’
‘Georges, Alexandre?’ Came the butler’s voice from outside the door. ‘Your parents are fearing you’ve forgotten to eat breakfast, and they request that you come down immediately.’
Georges dropped Alexandre’s hand although it were scalding hot. ‘Coming,’ he answered, wondering how on earth Edgar knew they were in the study. He didn’t like the stern tone of the butler’s voice, for it told him he would be in trouble for being late.
Usually his parents weren’t so strict (sometimes verging on doting), but whenever there was a guest to the family — even a young guest — they would clamp down on discipline with an iron fist. Apparently it was what caring parents did, but Georges would rather be left to his own routine and rituals.
Of course, when they arrived to the dining hall, both their eyes filled with guilt, and Georges’ mouth ready to launch into a convincing excuse, the parents simply told them to hurry up, for their food was going cold. Inwardly, they both sighed of relief; they weren’t suspected of any wrong doing. Georges knew it was paranoid, but recently he came to fear that his parents knew about his relationship with Alexandre. He was usually the most careful and organised man on the planet, but one time he was going to write to Alexandre, he had left his previous correspondent’s letter out in order to answer it. Whilst nipping onto the terrace for a breath of fresh air, he came back to find his letters scattered wildly on the floor. His rational mind told him he had left the window open, and that there must have been a particularly strong gust of wind whilst he was gone. The other part of his mind, however, suggested that either one of his parents, or one of the servants, had been into his room and read his most private and precious letters. They had been acting rather cold towards Alexandre recently…
Daring to lift his eyes from his hot chocolate and grapefruit, he cast his gaze on his mother, who was simply gazing out the windows. His father was watching alongside her, drumming his fingers against the tabletop and humming impatiently when a servant accidentally dropped one of his wife’s hat boxes onto the gravel. Yes, he decided he was definitely being paranoid. It was hard to maintain and nourish such a friendship, when it had to be a secret friendship full of rendezvous and stolen kisses.
After they had wolfed down their meals, the two boys told Monsieur and Madame De Sarre that they were ready to depart for the Basque Coast. Luckily, they had changed the destination once again, from the Pyrenees to the Basque coast, for there were no rooms available there. Georges found it quite fortunate, because he knew Lucien and his special friend André were staying at Pyrenees. He liked Lucien a lot, he really did, but he knew Lucien would rather spend all his time alone with André, without having to worry about leaving Georges out. On the other hand, he also wanted to spend as much time as he could with his own particular friend.