Then You Stand
By: Manna

Chapter Seven: Worry, Regret, Fear, Guilt



xOx…

I awoke in a cold sweat, the remnants of a dream that consisted of flickering candlelight across the peeling paint of a ceiling burned into my mind. I couldn't remember anything else from the dream, and I didn't want to. My breathing was harsh and fast, my skin cold and clammy; I was trembling from head to foot. I felt around for my blankets and finally found them on the floor.

Dim moonlight from my window fell across my nightstand and illuminated a drinking glass. I hadn't put it there… I started to get a little nervous—where had it come from, who put it there?—but the obvious answer came to me and squelched any fears I might have had before they could surface completely. Of course, I thought, it had to be either André or Nanny, and since I vaguely remembered telling Nanny that I did not need anything, it had to have been André's doing.

Greedily, I took the glass in my shaking hands and gulped down the contents. The water was cold and strangely refreshing even though it was at the beginning of winter and the fire in my fireplace had been reduced to only a few glowing embers.

When I set the glass back on my nightstand, the freezing temperature hit me, and I quickly dove underneath my blankets, pulling them around me as securely as I could with my good arm before I turned onto my right sight.

My stomach seemed to fold in on itself, and I sighed, trying to ignore the physical pain and the memories that came along with it. It was the middle of the night… I needed to get to sleep, not lay there wide awake thinking about my bruises!

I would have a lot of work to do in the morning, I reminded myself. I would make sure that I had plenty of work, and it wouldn't do at all to be tired in the morning. No, I needed to be as energized as possible. If I ran out of things to do, I would just have to find more. I could visit Marie Antoinette at La Petit Trianon, I could work ahead on paperwork, I could straighten my office…

I closed my eyes and willed sleep to come to me; it did not come fast, nor was it restful.

xOx…

My office was deathly quiet in the mid-afternoon, and I slowly sipped some tea, willing the dull ache in my stomach away while I alternated working and watching the rapidly darkening sky through one of the windows by my desk. I felt lucky that I had plenty of paperwork to do after the regular training drills were complete.

I tapped the feathered end of my quill against the side of my cheek and sighed, staring outside at what would certainly become a light drizzle in the near future. Nanny had brought me a breakfast that morning fit for any king, and as a light rain began to fall, I felt guilty for the hundredth time that day for refusing it. She was concerned, but I wasn't sure why. I would eat when my stomach did not hurt so bad; I was a little afraid of making myself feel worse by eating.

I knew that she had told André, because he hovered around me all morning and into the early afternoon, asking me if I needed anything, if I was hungry, thirsty… Finally, I let him bring me tea, and that seemed to satisfy him for the most part. I hadn't seen him since.

I wasn't too worried about him… He would be fine. But I wished that he would come back, because when he was gone I would just stare out of the window and think…

I didn't want to think. It was the last thing I wanted to do.

When he sat in the chair on the other side of the room, though, I seemed to concentrate better. Perhaps it was because I was afraid of making him suspicious. He would notice a change in habits immediately, and I couldn't remember ever having such a ridiculous problem before, but then again, I didn't have anything so terrible to think about before, either.

I ignored the rain outside and stared down at my unfinished paperwork. It was the middle of December 1783, and I realized abruptly that within only a couple of weeks, I would turn 28 years old. Years had passed, and I don't think I had quite realized how fast time could fly. I didn't feel 28 at all; I felt closer to 20. Mentally, I was still young, but physically…

I let the corners of my mouth tip upward in a wry smile. Physically, I was getting to be what most people would consider an old maid. Strangely, I hardly felt like one. Perhaps it was because the men closest to me and closest to my own age—André, Fersen, Girodelle—were not married and it did not seem to bother them. I felt suddenly curious about it, about why they had not married or at least courted. Fersen, at least, had an excuse; his love for Marie Antoinette was more important than anything else for him, and he would never be happy married to anybody that was not her.

I couldn't deny that I was disappointed at the thought, but I knew that it was true. Fersen was a good man…I would not like him if he wasn't. But it still hurt. Did he know that I loved him, if only a little bit? I supposed not. He had no way of knowing because I never told him, and I doubted if I would ever tell him such a silly thing. He had the Queen of France pining for him! What would he want me for?

I sighed again and started to write after dipping the quill into the ink bottle, but I didn't get far. My heart ached at the thought of that man! But why? Why? I knew why. Why did he have to show up when I needed someone? Why was he there when I had been injured and rendered helpless and even André could not get to me? Why did he make me feel like a woman for showing up when he did, and why in God's name did I want to feel that way again under better circumstances?

I could have cried… I was so confused. I was getting old though I hardly felt it, and subconsciously, that fact bothered me. Was it my biological clock, something women tittered about all of the time in Versailles? Perhaps I should have paid more attention to their babble when I had the opportunity.

But what of Fersen and Girodelle and André? Surely, Fersen had a reason for not marrying and having a family, but what about Girodelle and André? I wanted to ask them, wanted to find out why they were not married. Why Girodelle had such a good rank and a good title and why he had not taken a wife though he had courted many women, and why André never courted any women, ever.

I had never thought of such things before, and I lifted my teacup to my lips, my hands shaking slightly. This was all new to me… All very new. Girodelle might hesitate, might take longer to find someone due to money and dowries, and other things I didn't really understand… But André? I felt horrible thinking of him, wondering about him.

I felt that of all the people I knew, I knew him best… I felt that I should know the answer already. But why wasn't he married? He had recently turned 29, and I suddenly couldn't remember if I had even wished him a happy birthday. Surely, money could be a problem for him, but there were many women he could marry! The maids who worked for my family were always throwing him flirty looks—something I could recognize a mile away but had never tried doing myself. I saw it every day, but maybe he didn't know…

Maybe…

No. No! I couldn't keep thinking like that, I couldn't keep wondering and speculating on other people like another magpie of Versailles. Maybe André and Fersen and Girodelle didn't want to get married! Perhaps that was all, and there was no other reason. I could only thank God that I would not be alone by myself… I had known my entire life that I would probably never marry.

The thought was a little disheartening, but not altogether depressing. I shook my head and bent over my desk to begin writing again, ignoring the dull ache in my stomach that didn't seem to want to go away. I hoped the bruises would clear up soon. I had the strange feeling that they would take far too long to heal, and I couldn't shake it.

It was probably just paranoia, though, I thought, and I began to write out a report only moments before my office door opened behind me after only a single quick knock.

xOx…

She wasn't surprised to see André out of the corner of her eye; he smiled a little and took his usual seat. She acknowledged his presence with a small nod, pretending to be absorbed in her paperwork. It was terribly boring work, but as long as she was writing reports out, her mind did not have time to wander anywhere else.

She had thought enough on men—particularly Fersen—for one day.

The light rain continued outside, and after a long time, small bits of lightning started to illuminate the sky in the distance. It was dark thanks to the rolling clouds, and she could only see thanks to the candles in the room; she hoped, absently, that the little storm would end quickly. But it didn't.

André's voice broke her out of her thoughts, startling her slightly. She hadn't expected him to speak, really, after he had remained mostly silent all day.

"You would think," he began dryly, "that it would be snowing in December, not raining."

She silently agreed with a nod, staring out of the window again at the puddles that were forming on the cobblestone streets. She liked rain in the summertime, when it was warm and the air smelled sweet… but like most people, she preferred snow when it was cold outside. At least snow didn't soak you through and chill you to the bone.

A long period of silence passed between them. It wasn't awkward at all, and that relieved her. If André still had his suspicions about the night in Paris, he was keeping them to himself for the time being, and that was fine with her.

"We'll go home when this clears up," she told him, shaking her head tiredly as she returned to her paper and ink; she immediately regretted it and reminded herself again not to shake her head. Maybe she really did have a concussion.

"And if it doesn't?"

She looked up at him and smiled a little. "I suppose we'll return home soaked through and chilled."

A smile flickered over his face at her comment, even though it was wry and not very funny at all. She didn't know why, but she felt better seeing it. Things would soon be back to normal between them, she hoped. André could not remain suspicious forever, but she could keep up her façade of being just fine for as long as it would take… Or at least, that was what she told herself.

Another hour passed in silence, and the rain had lightened but still lingered on persistently. She sighed and sorted through her reports, filing them appropriately, not at all annoyed that it took longer than necessary to do with only one hand. The longer it took, the less rain would be falling, and with any sort of luck, by the time they left Versailles it wouldn't be raining at all.

"Are you ready?" André asked, looking partially asleep as he watched her stand.

She nodded and put the last remaining papers away into various desk drawers, locking them all as she finished. "Better now than never," she murmured, half under her breath. "Since the rain hasn't stopped yet, it might continue all night."

He grinned. "You don't want to be here all night?"

"Not particularly, no." She smiled back at him feebly and grabbed her cloak, shrugging it on over her military jacket with only a little difficulty. She doubted it would do much good against the onslaught of rain, but it would certainly delay the inevitable.

"I'll get the horses, then," he said, and pulled his own cloak around him. "I'll meet you out front." As he opened the door to her office, he paused and turned around, his expression serious, concern flickering in his eyes. "Please don't wait for me out in the rain."

The door closed behind him and Oscar listened to his receding footsteps, blinking confusedly for a few minutes before she shook her head again and checked to be certain that she still had her sword with her. She felt a little dizzy and reprimanded herself for forgetting that shaking one's head was a bad idea.

Why André would say such a thing, she thought, was beyond her. Well, perhaps she sometimes spent a lot of time standing in the rain, but that was usually in the summertime. Quietly, she closed and locked her door behind her, pocketing the key, relieved when the world stopped spinning.

Maybe… Maybe he remembered the time she spent a cold winter day in the rain as a child… She wouldn't really doubt it.

xOx…

Nanny tried not to worry. It was cold outside, it was raining, it was dark… The light drizzle had stopped just long enough to allow for a ten-minute downpour; the old woman paced back and forth in the Jarjayes kitchen, waiting for the arrival of her grandson and her precious Mademoiselle.

They had only been back at work for two days, and, she noticed, they had worked very late both days. She tried to tell herself that it was only natural seeing as how they had missed a little work and likely needed to catch up on some things, but it didn't do anything to soothe her troubled heart.

André had a broken rib and cuts and bruises that were beginning to heal, but Oscar… What was wrong with her? She stopped pacing as she heard loud hoof beats against the cobblestone path to the stables. Perhaps they were back! She rushed to the door to await their arrival.

She knew that Oscar had a broken wrist and a possible—in other words, likely—concussion, but there was more to it than that. She had raised Oscar from birth, and she thought she knew the youngest Jarjayes child well. But perhaps… Perhaps she didn't, not as well as she had always assumed. She couldn't figure out why Oscar had refused to let Doctor Lassone examine more than just her wrist and her head… Why, if she had been hit hard enough, there could have been internal damage!

Why did she refuse to eat; was she not hungry, as she claimed, or was there more to it than that? A relieved smile passed over her face as two figures came up to the door. She opened it and tsk'd over their soaking wet forms.

"André!" she scolded without any real enthusiasm behind her words. "How could you let our Mademoiselle ride in the rain?" She bustled about the kitchen, handing the two grateful adults towels. "Hurry, hurry," she said, arms outstretched. "André, your cloak and coat, Lady Oscar, you too, your cloak and jacket."

Both complied, wiping their faces and squeezing out their soaked hair.

"Your shoes, too," she ordered. "I just washed this floor, and the main hall was finished just this afternoon."

André obeyed right away, but Oscar hesitated. Nanny knew that the Mademoiselle did not have to do anything she said. Even though she was her caretaker, Oscar wasn't a child any longer…she was an adult woman. But, the older woman thought to herself, Oscar had never refused a perfectly harmless order like removing her shoes.

Suddenly, the blonde colonel bent down to take off her boots; Nanny couldn't see the expression on the younger woman's face because her hair had fallen forward to cover it, but André could. She made a mental note to ask him about it later, because the expression on his face was…what? Sad, she decided after a few moments. Her grandson looked sad as he watched his longtime childhood friend slowly peel her wet boots from her feet. It took a few more minutes before Oscar managed to finish and stand.

She saw André look away, his eyes adopting a happier, almost carefree expression.

"Dinner will be served in a few minutes," she said, addressing Oscar.

"Oh," she answered distractedly, her eyes focused on the door that led toward the main corridor. "I'm sorry, Nanny, I'm not very hungry tonight."

Two nights in a row, the old woman thought. Two nights that Oscar had refused dinner! What could be the matter with her? She would have to speak with André about it; maybe he knew something, anything…

"It's okay, dear," she lied. It wasn't okay… Her little colonel wasn't eating and it was absurd! The young woman didn't have the same appetite as André did, of course, but she usually ate with enthusiasm…

Oscar smiled, but it looked forced. "I think I'll retire early tonight," she murmured, heading for the door that led further into the house. Marron let her go, and turned to her grandson.

Did she eat today, André? Anything at all?"

He shook his head, and she could easily see the sorrow that had settled in his eyes. André had always held immense affection for the blonde-haired girl; she knew it hurt him terribly to see her looking so bad. "No, Grandma," he answered, looking at the door Oscar disappeared behind.

"She's going to hurt herself, André, she's going to get sick, she's going to…to…wither away!"

"Calm down Granny," he laughed, recovering a bit of his lighter mood. "After dinner, if you make her some tea, I'll take it to her. I convinced her to drink some earlier today; maybe she'll drink more."

"Well, I suppose if that's the best we can do…"

"We can't force her to eat anything," he sighed, smiling a little. "Sometimes she's too stubborn for her own good, but… I think she really does have a concussion. She looked a little unsteady on her feet a few times today."

"Do you think she's too dizzy to eat?" She smiled at the thought. Well, if that was all… It would only be a few days before her little colonel would be eating heartily and asking for seconds! "The poor dear… She shouldn't be working, especially not so late."

"I'll see if I can convince her to come home a little earlier, tomorrow," he said, pulling his wet shirt away from his chest. "But if you don't mind, I'd like to change. It's freezing cold in here!"

She chuckled and pushed him out of the kitchen, giving him a playful swat on the behind at the door. He yelped indignantly and she smiled, bustling back to the stove to check on the bread. It was nearly done, and she sighed with the potholders still on her hands, waiting the last few minutes until it was ready to be served.

Marron tried to push negative thoughts out of her mind, but it wasn't easy. André was sad, Oscar was more distant than normal… She didn't know what to make of it. What could she possibly do to help that she hadn't already tried? André's happiness usually lay with Oscar, but Oscar was obviously in some physical pain and perhaps upset about not winning the bar fight… Though, she wondered, Oscar had never been so distraught after losing before… The younger woman was acting decidedly strange.

She wouldn't let the doctor examine her, she wouldn't eat…

Well, she decided, if she would at least drink tea…that was better than nothing. She would be certain to send some up with André as soon as Monsieur and Madame de Jarjayes finished their dinner.

xOx…

André changed into dry clothes and waited impatiently for the master and his wife to finish their meal so that he could take Oscar some tea. But…oh, he wished she would at least try to eat a little bit! It would make him feel more at ease to know that she had at least tried, whether or not it was really a good idea. Of course, he would probably feel even worse if she complained of nausea afterward…

Sighing, the dark-haired man fell onto his bed. The frame squeaked slightly, but he hardly noticed it, or the ache of his chest. His rib's physical pain, his heart's mental pain. Both hurt. From the far-off look in Oscar's eyes, though, she was hurting too… And more than just physically!

Sometimes he wished things could be a little different.

He prided himself on his honesty, but he was too afraid to go to the woman he loved, even to try to offer her some sort of comfort. If she wanted to be held, he would happily comply; if she wanted him to sit quietly by the fire with her in companionable silence, he would do that too. Whatever she wanted, he would do if it would make her feel better at all.

His fear be damned! What if it was the only thing keeping them both from a life of contentment? The thought rolled around in his mind; it refused to leave. What if all he had to do was grab her shoulders and tell her that he cared about her, he was worried about her?

He shook his head and closed his eyes, pulling out the soaking wet hair ribbon that tied his hair back. He threw it and it landed on his dresser in a messy pile.

She knew he would be worried about her! She had to know!

Oscar had been acting so strange, and he had a terrible feeling that he knew why; the images of her crying—first in the bar and then in her room—never stayed out of his mind for long.

Oh, was the tea ready, yet? He couldn't keep thinking; it would drive him insane! Worry, regret, guilt, fear… The emotions revolved around him constantly since that night. Where was a good emotion?

Maybe Oscar was not the only one who could use some comfort, gentle words and a warm hug.

Silently, he made a fist with his hand and held it in front of him. He could fit all of his dreams inside such a small space, he thought, because he had so few of them. It was nothing to be ashamed of, and such truths brought him only feelings that were slightly melancholy. His fingers opened slowly until his eyes were gazing at his empty palm.

His dreams…they would probably never be realized.

He could still hope, couldn't he? Dreaming and hoping never hurt anyone… But they did hurt. Every minute of every day, his heart ached just the smallest bit. His mind and his heart were in a constant battle.

His mind told him that Oscar could—would—never love him, and his heart reached out to her anyway. He was 29 years old… How long had he loved her? An eternity. How long would he love her? Forever.

Hearts, he realized, did not care if the person you loved was rich or poor, thin or fat, strong or weak, blonde or brunette, tall or short… No, his heart didn't care that she was rich, of noble blood, that she stood proud and she was tall even though only her boots made her look that way. He loved her for being like that, for her temper, her kindness, her small hands that were calloused from holding a sword…and yes, even her weaknesses.

So what did it matter if he only had one dream in the world? One small, seemingly insignificant never-to-be-realized dream? Oscar…

He smiled to himself, feeling a little embarrassed as his hand fell to his side. No matter how much she tried to hide it, she was beautiful. And every time he was in her presence, his dream of having her for his own didn't even matter anymore. He got to spend nearly every moment by her side! So he kept telling himself that it was enough, it would have to be enough…

She counted on him, depended on him… Only him. It satisfied that little piece of his heart that sometimes felt left out, unwanted, tossed aside.

She was his dream, though. To hold her and feel her heart beating, to know with no small amount of uncertainty that she wanted to be there just as much as he did…

Well, love could be blind.

And it could be stupid.

It had this uncanny ability to make someone weak in the knees, and the next minute, it would send a flare of jealousy that was white-hot down the back of one's spine. He had felt every range of emotion, from joy to sorrow, because of his love, his dream.

His…

He hesitated. Was it really right to allow his mind to lay claim to her, even though it was only in his thoughts? He wanted to, he almost felt that he had the right… After all, they had grown up together! He knew everything…

No, he didn't. She was hiding something from him. His Oscar wasn't eating, she was bruised and had been beaten probably severely, and she wasn't telling him anything. He felt dejected, and slowly sat up, putting one hand to his busted rib at the small bit of pain he felt.

He loved her so much his heart felt like it would burst! Didn't that love amount to something, count for something? He would have to try harder… Not to win her affections, but…to make her feel…better? Safer…around him? He didn't know. He only knew that he wanted her to smile again, because he missed the days when she would smile and his heart would thud so loudly against his ribcage that he thought she would be able to hear it.

xOx…

The hall was dark as I made my way up the stairs to Oscar's bedroom. Dinner had been finished, and I had immediately wolfed down my own dinner, eager to check on the woman who had won my heart and didn't even know it.

I was worried, still worried, always worried… She hadn't eaten for two days, and even though I knew it was probably due to her concussion and a fear of getting nauseous, it bothered me. Wasn't she hungry? Didn't her stomach feel hollow and empty? Frowning, I knocked on the door to her foyer.

I received a soft, barely noticeable answer, and I opened the door and saw her sitting in her favorite chair by the fireplace. Pain tore through my chest that reminded me of the night in the bar, of the same pain that I felt every time I saw her bruised, tear-streaked face in my mind.

Oscar was sitting in that chair like she always did. I tried so hard to rationalize with myself, but the more I looked at her, the more I knew that there was something very, very wrong with her.

"I've brought you some tea," I murmured to her, studying her slender figure.

I was happy to see that she had changed into dry clothes. I didn't know what I would have done if she hadn't, but I would have had to do something… I could only hope that our December rain excursion did not leave her with a nasty cold.

"Thank you, André…" She smiled at me, and I forced myself to return it. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I poured her a glass of tea, and she took it, her fingers trembling. I pretended that I had not seen, but I knew that she knew I knew. I still said nothing. What was there to say? She would say that she was cold, and it would not be a lie.

She had a blanket over her shoulders and another on her lap. The chair seemed to dwarf her, and I could honestly admit that I had never seen her look so small and delicate in it. If I touched her, I was certain that she would break.

She held the tea under her nose and let the steam hit her face for a long moment before she began to drink it.

She finished quickly and handed the empty cup back to me. "I feel much better now."

"I'm glad…"

She looked away, gazing into the flames of the fire. I wondered if she was trying to block me out, if she wanted me to leave, if…

"André?" Her voice sounded so small…

"Yes?"

She hesitated only a moment, but I saw it. "Do you…want to stay…for a little while?"

I was so relieved, I almost sighed aloud. Finally, something familiar… "Of course, Oscar." I took a chair and set it next to hers, making certain that it was far enough away from her to respect her personal space.

When we were children, we would oftentimes read in her favorite chair together…sometimes aloud, sometimes to ourselves. We were now much to big to sit in the same chair—though I'd have tried it anyway if I could—but when she felt stressed out or worried, she would appreciate and sometimes even request my presence.

"Shall I read to you?" I asked, adopting a light-hearted voice and expression.

She smiled just a little bit and my heart beat in my chest that much faster. "If it amuses you," she answered, her eyes still staring into the fire.

I wondered if she could see something there that I could not, just as King Nebuchadnezzar saw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking in the fiery furnace with an unnamed angel among them.

Perhaps there was nothing there to see, and she was only avoiding looking at me…because there was something in her eyes that she did not want me to see.

"It always amuses me," I said, and picked up a book. "Does it matter which one, Oscar?"

She shrugged slightly, and I noticed, not for the first or the tenth or the hundredth time, that her shoulders were very thin. "Anything is fine."

I watched her as I read. I'd read the book to her so many times that I had it nearly memorized. It wasn't long before I saw her eyes fall closed and her head tilt to the side just a little. She was fast asleep, but I kept reading… Just for a few more minutes, I told myself, and several chapters later I forced my lips to stop speaking the words I knew so well. I watched her for a moment, the gentle rise and fall of her chest, the slight flutter of her eyelashes as she dreamed…

"Do you dream of me, Oscar?" I asked, my voice so quiet I knew she would never hear. I felt so silly afterward… People thought me to be mature and levelheaded… If they knew I dabbled in the childhood lovestruck fantasies of an adolescent, they would certainly change their minds.

I didn't want to wake her. I wanted to scoop her up into my arms and lay her gently on her bed. I wanted to tuck her in and kiss her forehead and smooth back her hair and know in my heart that she would be fine with that, that if she knew I was doing it, she would not mind.

I sighed and stood, walking over to her chair. "Oscar," I said, one hand on her shoulder lightly.

At first I didn't get a reaction, so I tried again, squeezing her shoulder as I said her name, "Oscar…"

She frowned in her sleep and tried to shrink away from me. Strange, I thought. Oscar usually had the urge to shrug me off of her when I tried to wake her… She had never shrunk back before…

I tried again, and again. "Oscar, wake up. Oscar!"

Her eyelashes suddenly fluttered and her blue eyes, looking dark in the dim lighting, were suddenly blinking at me. "It hurts," she murmured, her voice sounding stressed.

I immediately pulled my hand back. "I'm sorry… You fell asleep so…I thought I should wake you so that you could get to bed."

"Y-yes, of course," she stammered, lurching to her feet. The blanket on her lap fell to the floor, but she didn't bother to pick it up. She only hugged the blanket around her shoulders closer to her and walked toward her bedroom, her nightgown dragging the floor. I didn't think she looked any different than usual in it, but it almost seemed to hang off of her… Maybe I had only overlooked that fact before. I bent down and picked up her blanket, setting it across the back of the chair.

I walked into her room, not even bothering to knock. The door was still open, and I knew that she was already dressed to sleep. I stirred the fire and added wood to it; her room was far too chilly, even for me, and I slept better than normal in cooler weather.

"Goodnight, Oscar," I said to her, peering over at her bed. She didn't answer, so I crept closer, careful not to make any noise. There was only a lump in the blankets where she had to be sleeping. She had buried herself underneath, and I could hear soft breathing from a small hole through the blankets that she probably made to let fresh air circulate through.

I smiled a genuine smile, reminded instantly of our childhood together. I had the urge to reach through the hole to take her hand, but she was no longer a little girl, and I was no longer a little boy… I blushed to think of what might happen if I tried it.

I didn't dare.

"I'll see you in the morning," I whispered into the opening in the pile of blankets, but all I got in response was a light sigh.

xOx…

Author Notes:

Well, well, well! I slacked off, but I managed to finish this chapter tonight!

As I've said before, Oscar and André have to take things little bit by little bit. Romance, while obviously a part of the story, is not the plot. I do hope that the story moves along a bit quicker, soon, but for the moment, it's going slow and easy; there are a lot of thoughts and emotions to sort out for both André and Oscar.

Thank you for reading! Feedback is much appreciated!