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It wasn't the thought of Philippe being with another person that was the problem. It was him. And her, but, well, at least there was a reason for her. 

But Thomas? No reason whatsoever. Other than he wanted to, apparently. 

The woman was pregnant. Chevalier and Philippe could be together now. Would be, if Philippe wanted it. But instead he was fucking a man with a moustache so ugly it made Chevalier want to rip it right off his face. And as for his hair, curls so tight they bounced like springs off his head, and his eyes, tiny and piggy, always cold… How could Philippe ever be with anyone so cold?

Chevalier had lost him. He was more alone now than he had been in any dungeon cell he'd ended up in.


How many dungeons was it now?

Chevalier got up and went to the window. The splendour of Versailles lay before him, but all he could see were cold stone walls. He felt the cold weight of shackles at this ankles, smelt the stench of death and decay in his throat. He reached instinctively for the vial in his pocket, only to remember with an unpleasant flutter of his stomach that it was empty.

He closed his eyes, and detested himself for the pathetic whimper that escaped his lips.

He remembered the night in Paris when Philippe's mother died. Chevalier had found him sitting on the floor in a corridor, staring at the wall. His beautiful face was flushed and streaked with tears; his clothes were rumpled and sweat-stained from days at his mother's sick bed. Chevalier approached softly, unsure what to say. His own mother was strong as an ox and twice as stubborn, very much alive. He could have no idea what Philippe felt in this moment.

So he sat on the floor at Philippe's side, shoulder to shoulder. He ignored the dirt and cold, and a noise he was certain was rats. He took Philippe's hand and said nothing.

They remained like that for a long time. Philippe stared, Chevalier ignored his many discomforts, until eventually Philippe said, "I don't know who I am any more. I don't know how to be in this world."

Chevalier caught his gaze and said, "You are my beloved Mignonette. And I can show you how to be."

They kissed, the single sweetest moment in the whole damn palace, for all that it took place in a dirty corridor in a haze of loss and grief. Philippe's lips were soft and pliant, and he accepted all the direction that Chevalier gave him.

But that was so very long ago. Now Philippe was guided not by Chevalier but by the King, the Princess, the odious Thomas - and all the while Chevalier languished in a prison of his own making. 

He could bear it no longer.

Philippe's footsteps echoed through the antechamber, returned at last from the arms of his repulsive lover. 

Chevalier ran his fingertips over the ornate guilted barrel of the gun he'd left on the desk.

One sweet kiss, and the pain would be gone.