Nicolas helps Julien remember what happened to him in the Deep Roads
before the two lovers desperately grasp at this moment together which could be their last.
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Julien watched as the three men left down the path. He waited but Nicolas remained inside the cabin. He entered. ‘Mon amour?’
Nicolas stood staring at the hearth, looking grim.
‘Are you going to tell me what that was about?’
Nicolas turned his head to look at him, his eyes were filled with tears. ‘I love you so much, Julien.’
‘I love you, Nicolas.’ He frowned in concern and walked to Nicolas, taking his hands in his. ‘Tell me what is going on, please?’ Nicolas just stared at him, his blond moustache twitching. ‘Every time you look at me of late, you seem…chagrined. I am only worried. If I have done or said something—’
‘It’s not that,’ Nicolas quickly interjected.
‘Then what is it?’
Nicolas turned his head away from Julien.
‘Nicolas,’ Julien breathed, elongating his lover’s name. He gently turned his face back towards him. ‘You look at me with such sorrow, why? Why are you so sad, Nicolas?’
Julien waited anxiously as Nicolas stared at him, his expression unreadable. ‘We’re dead.’
Julien scowled. ‘Dead? Because of the taint? Because the Calling will find us?’
Nicolas shook his head. ‘We died. Killed.’
‘What?’ Died. It was past tense. Julien’s stomach tightened. ‘How?’ His heart was racing.
Nicolas backed away and led him to their bed. They sat down.
‘Do you remember going into the Deep Roads with King Maric?’ Nicolas asked carefully.
Julien thought about it. The memory seemed to come back to him as if through a haze.
‘Yes. We were searching for Geneviève’s brother.’
‘Do you remember what happened after?’
Julien furrowed his brows in concentration. ‘We found him…wait…no, we didn’t…it’s all a bit hazy.’ His certainty began to ebb, only to be replaced by confusion. He searched for the memory and wondered why everything he thought he remembered suddenly seemed so unreal. Panic took him and his breathing became erratic. ‘I…I don’t remember.’
Nicolas placed his hand on Julien’s face and looked him in the eyes as though searching. ‘Do you remember how we got back to the surface?’
‘I…’ Julien held his breath; he could not find the memory. ‘No,’ Julien conceded.
Nicolas swallowed, and his Adam’s Apple rippled. ‘What do you remember?’
Julien focused on the memory, glancing away. ‘I remember the dragon. It was coming down; that idiot warden did the stupidest thing and brought it down. But it wasn’t dead yet.’ He chuckled. ‘Brave lad. And…’ Julien looked deep into Nicolas’s eyes. ‘I saved Duncan.’
‘And the dragon…gnawed on me.’ Julien’s heart sank and fear gripped him, yet not for his own death. He let out a shaking breath as the memories flooded his mind. ‘I died.’
Nicolas nodded, tears pouring down his face. ‘You died.’ A sob escaped him.
Julien felt panic for Nicolas. ‘That was Maric, Duncan and Kell back there! Are they dead too?’ Nicolas shook his head. Julien’s heart dropped. ‘But then how did you…’ He was unable to complete the question.
Nicolas heaved, holding Julien’s hands more tightly. ‘I held you. I begged – no demanded – Fiona to heal you, but you were gone, you were already gone.’ Julien’s heart broke at his lover’s sorrow. ‘I couldn’t let you go, I wouldn’t let you go.’ Tears poured freely down Nicolas’s face as he let out another sob. ‘We let your body sink into the deep pools and I felt dead inside.’ He put a wrist to his mouth, closing his eyes tightly.
‘Nicolas, mon amour, I am here now.’
A wail escaped Nicolas as he took Julien in his arms, holding him tightly. ‘Julien, I…’ He wept. ‘A demon took us into the Fade. The others are trying to get out, but I…’ Nicolas heaved again, his anguish loud.
Julien understood what Nicolas had done. He held his face in his hands and looked him deep in the eyes, tears pouring down his face as well.
‘You didn’t have to, Nicolas.’
‘I did.’ He heaved. ‘For at least a chance to be with you for a bit. For at least a chance to say a proper goodbye.’
Julien pulled Nicolas into his arms and buried his face in his shoulder. ‘Oh, Nicolas, mon amour.’ He sobbed loudly. He was sad and glad at the same time. He pressed his cheek against Nicolas’s.
‘This place,’ Nicolas began, still heaving, ‘it could be our creation or the demon’s.’
‘I was here before it found you, no?’
‘It could have used your soul.’
‘Then if this all disappears,’ Julien mused tearfully as he held his lover tightly, ‘we will be in the Fade and find each other again and create this place anew.’ Julien felt Nicolas’s tears on his face. He closed his eyes. ‘I love you, Nicolas. I always have, and I love you more for what you sacrificed for me today…just so you could be with me forever.’
Nicolas pulled away, leaning his forehead on Julien’s. ‘I don’t know if we have forever.’
Julien’s heart swelled with chagrin, and his stomach lurched with fear. He captured Nicolas’s lips with his and kissed him ardently. The man’s moustache was wet and Julien tasted Nicolas’s salty tears. He pressed his lips harder, breathing heavily, and a groan escaped him. A sob escaped Nicolas as he nibbled Julien’s lower lip.
Breathless, Julien wiped the tears from Nicolas’s face. ‘Ne pleure pas.’ He tried to sound soothing.
Nicolas gave him a wan smile. ‘You’re one to talk.’ He wiped Julien’s tears with his thumb.
Julien merely looked at Nicolas for a few moments. ‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered. Nicolas seemed confused. ‘I’m sorry I died. I’m sorry we could not have this future for real.’
‘Don’t be. The taint would have taken us eventually. We knew whatever time we had would never be forever.’
Julien passed his hand through Nicolas’s long blond hair, caressing his lover’s skin as he did so. ‘Then this might be the last time I truly see you.’ He shook his head. ‘I will find you again. Or perhaps you are wrong, we will remain here forever.’
Nicolas looked down. ‘All I know is I did not have the chance to say goodbye.’
‘And how would you have said goodbye to me, then?’
Nicolas looked up at him, his eyes no longer shedding tears but burning with a fire that sent a tingle vibrating through Julien’s body.
Continue reading A Proper Goodbye
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