“The Comte’ will see you now.”
Camile stood up with a slight smile. “I thought he might.”
The secretary said nothing, just stood to the side as Camille walked past.
He entered the door to Mirabeau’s private office. He had become used to the gold leaf on the walls- he wasn’t sure when that happened precisely.
“Camille!” Mirabeau was standing at an imposing drinks cabinet on the side of the room, a bottle in his hand. “Have a drink with me.”
Camille inclined this head briefly. “Of course.” As he crossed the room, he saw a copy of his newspaper on the desk and was almost shocked. He wasn’t prone to false modesty - but part of him was surprised that the Comte actually read it. Or at the very least pretended to read it.
“You are well?” Mirabeau asked as he handed over a glass.
Mirabeau didn’t look that well. There was talk that the Queen was being particularly obstructive recently, and it seemed to be taking a toll. There were dark circles under his eyes. His coat and stockings were well put together though. He was nothing if not tidy. Camille's own hair was staging an escape from the ribbon that tied it back.
“I’m well.” Camille replied, taking a sip. The wine was good - as it always was.
They walked to sit on a nearby pair of chairs - with a window that overlooked one of the nicer areas of the Palace gardens. Camile cast his eyes upwards. The mural on the ceiling was looking down at him. Aphrodite. Ares. Apollo. Camille had never really liked the trend to paint on the ceilings and on the walls. It felt like too many people were watching you. Camille didn’t need more nervous-ness in his life. More people looking down at him from lofty heights.
“You have heard the latest news from the Assembly of course?”
Camille had (of course) - and they talked of it for a while. Mirabeau seemed to find his opinions amusing today. Sometimes they argued passionately - oftentimes an expression crossed the Comte’s face, an expression that Camille saw on many people that talked to him - as if it say, ‘Oh Camille, you just don’t know how this world works - but today Mirabeau was in a softer more jovial mood and even asked after Danton and Max.
He knew he had his faults - but Camille thought he did understand how this world worked - he just didn’t like it very much.
He brought his hand up to cup Camille’s cheek and ran his thumb across it.
The kiss was soft at first. Delicate. Searching. It had initially surprised him, that Mirabeau could be this gentle. It came out at odd moments. He could be yelling one moment - ranting against Lafayette and the Duke for some political move or other - and then the next he would be quiet, gathering Camille close to him, whispering things to him.
When they laid together after, Mirabeau ran his knuckles down Camille’s arm- the big rings on his hands feeling cold against Camille’s skin and he looked at him like he was caught up in something.
He then got up from the bed, threw a robe around himself and called for his servant to bring him something to drink.
Sometimes he didn’t even say good-bye as Camille made his way out.
Max was talking to him, and Camille was listening. For the most part.
“Mirabeau said that when I saw him last night.”
Max just nodded - showing no surprise at the time Camille still spent with him - if he even felt any. “He is well?”
“Mostly.” Choosing not to think about the dark circles. “He thinks things are turning in his favour at the Palace.”
Max made a non-committal sound. “Does he not always think that?”
“No. Not always.”
“You still can’t believe I still talk to him, can you?” Camille continued.
Max just looked back at him. Calm as anything. (Always so calm - Camille had know him for years and was still amazed by it). “I never said that - although I do admit that he and I see things quite differently.” He paused. “Quite differently from you too I thought.”
It was true, things had shifted, but Camille could not separate himself from the man. In some ways it would be better if he could have, but something always reeled him back in.
Camille thought back to how it all started. He’d been flattered and Mirabeau had been a useful person to know and his circle was interesting, his alcohol was good, and he was always at the centre of what was happening. He knew the right people (well - the people who were the right people) and how to use them. What he sometimes lacked in nuance he made up for with reputation and knowledge.
At first he had also not been sure if the Mirabeau just had him there just for his own personal amusement - (come friends, look at my pet journalist - he write those fiery tirades in the paper against all we hold dear, isn’t he amusing?) - or if it was more than that. Camille didn’t think their arrangement (whatever you wanted to call it - their friendship? Their relationship? Their liaison?) would have gone on so long if Mirabeau didn’t care.
It was said in the streets that he only was around Mirabeau for the money and the protection he could offer, but Camille did like the man. Genuinely. He was a force of nature - not unlike Camille himself - even if sometimes it was the nature of quite some different place altogether.
When Camille wrote, “Go then, witless people, and prostate yourself before the tomb of his god - this god of liars and thieves,” - he meant it. Despite his protestations to Danton, he did feel a touch of guilt as his ink touched the paper, but he did mean them.
Camille cared, but what Camille cared about most was a reaction. A spark. A chance to start something. Mirabeau would have understood - forces of nature - but they would have disagreed on the particulars.