Marius was tired. The night was still young, but he had been bent over an English manuscript since early that morning, labouring to translate it into French in between bouts of daydreaming and a couple of midday walks, and now he was tired. He was so tired that he could hardly even pick up his feet. The short distance from the Café Musain to the tiny apartment he shared with Courfeyrac seemed like a hundred miles to Marius under the influence of his remarkable drowsiness. All he could think of was sleep, of that exquisite moment when his head would hit his pillow, and he would sink into that beautiful abyss of slumber.
Only if Courfeyrac were not there.
For if Courfeyrac were there, then the dynamic Fiera would most certainly also be there right by his side, their boisterous laughter floating from the windows down into the dim Parisian alleyways.
And Marius did not want this. Marius wanted to sleep.
Finally, Marius reached his building. He wearily climbed the three flights of rickety stairs up to his apartment, his foot coming down heavily on each step with a loud, hollow clunk. In time, he arrived at the top of the stairs, and slowly pulled out his key. Much to his relief, he heard nothing inside. He placed the key in the lock.
But then, without Marius unlocking the door, it opened of its own accord, and a voluptuous dark haired woman stepped out, a smug and satisfied look on her face. Courfeyrac stood behind her, resting his hand on her hip, with an equally smug and satisfied look on his face.
Courfeyrac turned to face the beauty and said, "Genevieve, my darling, it was such a pleasure to see you this evening. When can we meet again?"
"All that depends on you," Genevieve told him. "You know where you can find me-if you want me." She then kissed Courfeyrac soundly on the cheek and sauntered away, her hips swaying suggestively from side to side with each step.
Marius gaped after her. Who was this strange woman, and what was she doing in his apartment? With Courfeyrac? And where was Fiera?
What was going on? Poor Marius was so confused.
And so very, very tired.
"Marius, for God's sake, answer me!"
Marius finally jumped at the sound of his name. He turned back to Courfeyrac, who was tapping his foot and eyeing the boy impatiently.
"Marius," he repeated, for what he hoped was the last time.
"Why don't you come inside instead of standing there like an ass?"
Dazed, Marius shuffled inside. Courfeyrac followed and shut the door tightly behind them.
Once the two were inside, Marius turned to his friend and asked, "Courfeyrac, who was that woman?"
Courfeyrac beamed. "That's Genevieve," he answered. "I met her last week at the bakery. Charming little bit, isn't' she?"
"What happened to Fiera?"
"What do you mean what happened to Fiera? Nothing has happened to her. She's probably home right now, I'd suspect."
Marius looked about him for a chair, and collapsed when he found one. He managed to look frustrated even through his glazed-over eyes. "So you're cheating on your beau?" he asked.
Courfeyrac was taken aback. "What beau? I don't have a beau." Then, in response to Marius's shocked expression, he clarified. "Do you mean Fiera? She's not my beau. She was never my beau. I see a lot of women, Marius, but I certainly don't have a beau!"
Marius just stared blankly at him.
Courfeyrac sighed, "Marius-"
"I don't understand."
Courfeyrac sighed again. "Of course you don't." He went to the table and poured himself a glass of wine; he was going to need it later on. Then he pulled up a chair next to Marius, and took a deep breath.
"Marius, I think it's time that you and I had a little talk."
Marius paled noticeably. "Courfeyrac, I'm sorry, but I don't like you that way…"
"What? No!" Courfeyrac recoiled from the boy in horror. "My God, no!"
Courfeyrac sighed again. Sometimes he just did not understand what went on in Marius' head. "Marius, I'm talking about the facts of life."
"What facts of life?"
"Never mind. Just listen. I'm going to explain to you about the birds and the bees."
Marius looked pointedly at his friend. "Courfeyrac, I'm a well-read man, I think I know about birds and bees."
"Oh really?" Courfeyrac countered. "So tell me."
Marius looked dubious, but complied. "Birds live in the trees and build nests. They fly. Bees fly too. They are black and yellow…Courfeyrac, what is the point to all of this?"
"Ha! That is not what I'm talking about!"
Puzzled, Marius asked, "Then what are you talking about then?"
Courfeyrac leaned forward into Marius' face, a rakish smile forming on his face. "Marius," he said, with a winning smirk. "I'm talking about sex."
Marius furrowed his eyebrows. "What's sex?"
Courfeyrac laughed. "Oh, Marius, please! Come off it! You know what I'm talking about!" But then another look at Marius' obvious befuddlement at that unfamiliar word assured him that Marius truly did not know what he was talking about. "You're serious. You don't know what sex is."
"And you've never even heard of it."
"Not even once? In passing? In the theatre district?"
Courfeyrac found this very difficult to believe. "My God, whoever thought that I would have to explain sex to a nineteen year old boy," he muttered to himself. "Ah, well…if it's anyone's job, it might as well be mine. Marius." Courfeyrac raised his voice again.
Marius jumped in surprise. "What?"
"Let's start with the basics. Have you ever seen a pretty woman before?"
"Why, of course I have."
"Good. Now, can you think of one woman in all your life whom you thought was the prettiest?"
Marius thought for a moment. "I-I think so. Yes, I can."
"Good! Now answer me this. Can you remember feeling a peculiar warm feeling in the pit of your stomach?"
"How about in your pants, then?" A short, impish laugh accompanied this query.
"Courfeyrac, I didn't wet myself, if that's what you're implying."
Courfeyrac decided not to dignify that with a response. "Did you feel light-headed?" he asked instead.
Courfeyrac paused, trying to think of something else that might possibly help Marius understand what he was getting at. "Well, did you feel feverish at all?"
"Well, I was in the apothecary at the time, so yes-"
"Oh, that's not what I mean! Did you feel anything at all, Marius?!"
"I told you, I had a bad cold, and I was feeling quite ill…."
"Oh hush, Marius." Courfeyrac pondered a moment. How can I explain this difficult subject to someone who's never had a sexual thought in his life? he thought to himself. I guess I'll just have to tell him the facts. Just the facts. Courfeyrac took a long sip of his wine. Too bad I didn't have enough time to let this wine take hold before I started.
"Yes?" Marius answered, sounding more than a little miserable by this point.
"Do you know the difference between men and women?"
"Women wear dresses and men wear trousers."
Courfeyrac smacked his forehead. Hard, in the hopes that he would pass out. "No!" he shouted.
"Yes! Men don't wear dresses! Well, except for that time you-"
"Let's not bring that up!" Another frustrated sigh escaped Courfeyrac. "No, Marius, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about their physical differences. What's between your legs, for example."
"Well, what do women have between their legs?" Marius screwed up his face, thinking hard through the sleepy fog which covered his brain. After a few moments, he finally confessed, "I have no idea."
Courfeyrac's mouth dropped open.
"No, no, Marius, it's alright, really. Really." Courfeyrac drained the rest of his wine with one gulp. Then he had an idea. "Marius, you've put together a puzzle, right?
"So you know how all of the pieces fit together perfectly. One piece fits inside another, isn't that right?"
"Well, people are like that, too. They fit inside each other; men and women. That's sex. That's why we're made the way we are. " He leaned in closer to Marius. "Do you understand?"
"I think so." Marius thought for a minute, and then asked, "But what does this have to do with you and Fiera?"
"Ah! Now you've gotten to the point. Well, Marius, this 'fitting together' is just about the most pleasurable thing imaginable."
Marius looked sceptical. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Yes, I am absolutely sure. And that's why I see all of those women."
"Well, do they like the sex too?"
"Of course! I've been told that I'm excellent in bed."
"That's where it usually happens, Marius, in bed."
"Oh….alright…." Marius shut his eyes and leaned his head forward until he cradled his brow in the palm of his hand. "I think I am starting to understand."
Courfeyrac raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Yes. But I still think you're cheating on Fiera." And with that, Marius stood up on his unsteady legs and shuffled into the bedroom. "Good night, Courfeyrac," he mumbled, before shutting the door.
Courfeyrac stared after the boy in amazement. "Well, I'll be damned," he said. "Boy does know something about women after all." He stood up and followed Marius into the bedroom. He was tired after all.
And he had some thinking to do.