Maurice found Alec standing at the window when he returned from the village. As Maurice was in no hurry to impart his terrible news, he remained at the sitting room threshold for a moment, his eyes fixed on the shafts of sunlight that had filtered into the cottage. He hadn’t noticed it before, but Alec’s hair had become more silver than brown. Alec had joked that he was turning into an old man when he first started to go grey, but Maurice liked the way the silver strands defined the dark curls.
With barely a thought, Maurice found himself crossing over to the window. He was about to wrap his arms around Alec when he noticed the tense set of his shoulders. So Alec had heard the news. He knew that Paris had fallen.
Maurice began to back away, intending to give Alec the space he needed. Then Alec turned and threw his arms around Maurice’s neck, hugging him tightly. Maurice returned Alec’s embrace, squeezing him just as hard.
“I take it you’ve heard the news, then,” Alec said.
“Yes, it’s all over the village.”
“Do you think Hitler will make it this far?” There was a faint trace of fear in Alec’s voice that Maurice might have missed if Alec hadn’t been resting his chin on his shoulder.
“I thought I was the worrier.” Maurice began to stroke Alec’s hair. “I doubt that Hitler intends to occupy the village. It wouldn’t make sense, strategically speaking.”
“Hitler’s a madman,” Alec muttered against Maurice’s shoulder. “Nothing he does makes sense.”
Maurice smiled sadly. “Hitler may be mad, but he seems to understand warfare all too well.”
Alec pulled away from Maurice. “Do you think we should leave France?”
“And go where?” Maurice asked. “Sweden? Switzerland? They may be neutral now, but there’s no guarantee that Hitler won’t invade them. Look at what happened to countries like Denmark and Norway.”
“Perhaps we should return to England,” Alec said.
Maurice laughed. “England isn’t safe. Hitler could invade it any day now – and probably will. Besides, even if England was impenetrable, it would hardly be a safe haven for us, would it? A war isn’t going to stop them from arresting us for ‘gross indecency’.”
Alec scowled. “Then what should we do?”
Maurice leaned over and attempted to kiss the frown from Alec’s lips. “We’ll do what we’ve always done, love, and take each day as it comes.”