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Apr 10, 2020 3:23 PM
valentine furnishes his new house
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"...I'm sorry?"

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"What I mean to say is that when the young prince said you weren't 'being a person', he wasn't entirely off the mark."

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"...yes...?"

Still confused. That much was obvious.

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"And that's something you would be glad to do indefinitely?"

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There's only a breath of hesitation before he says "yes, Valentine," but the breath is there.

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"...was that entirely true?"

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"...I'd be glad to do it. I only wish I could -- be useful to you."

He's glad to be Valentine's pet. But even the chickens lay eggs.

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"...I suppose I've been neglecting that, as well."

He puts a hand on Jean's cheek.

"I intend to keep my promise, pet."

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"I ...'m sorry, I didn't ... mean to..."

Whatever he was saying seems much less important than Valentine's hand on his cheek.

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"Shh. You've done nothing wrong."

His thumb brushes gently over his jaw.

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Jean hushes, rapt and shivering, gazing up at Valentine with painful adoration.

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"Anything, to be useful? Any use at all?"

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Valentine doesn't ask meaningless questions. He stops to think.

If Valentine wanted him to die, of course he'd die. If Valentine wanted him to kill -- it would be someone who ought to die. If Valentine wanted him to rape -- Valentine wouldn't. If Valentine wanted him to be raped, it would be less than he owes.

What else could Valentine do to him? Maim him? He hates the idea, but he'd bear it, for Valentine. Send him to burn down the Musée d'Orsay? Valentine would never ask.

If Valentine wants Jean to hurt him again -- god. He'd rather die a hundred times over. But -- if it would be useful -- he won't refuse this time either.

If Valentine wants to send him away...

 

...he doesn't know if he could bear it. But he'd try.

"Nothing to harm my sister."

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He nods.

He smiles.

"I'm sure I'll find you something appropriate."

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"I -- please don't go to any trouble on my account, Valentine, that's not -- I can sweep floors, I can -- only let me be good for you, please."

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"I'm not quite sure that would be dramatically appropriate, are you? But you can certainly do housework in the meantime."

He looks immensely fond.

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It would be unflattering to describe the noise Jean makes as a squeak.

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The laugh isn't any less fond.

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"--thank you, Valentine," finally remembering to speak.

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"It's my pleasure."

He drops his hand.

"If you'd like to join us after dinner, you may. I'll expect you to help clear up after everyone is gone."

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"Thank you, Valentine," he repeats, breathless with delight.

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He smiles, and nods, and then he leaves Jean alone with his food.

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He's practically floating, as he eats.

Rejoining the company sounds -- ill-advised. But he'll wait until the faint sounds from downstairs disperse, and then come help clear up.

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Cato isn't the only one helping.

Valentine, himself, has his sleeves rolled up and is scrubbing out a pan.

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Jean isn't about to venture into the kitchen without an explicit invitation. He stacks plates and passes them to Cato, sweeps the dining room, puts the tablecloth in the laundry.

He lets himself stare through the doorway at Valentine with his sleeves rolled up. Just a little; not even the beginning of as much as he'd like to.

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