After the meeting departs, I go to where Gerald is, by the front door. He turns to me, hearing my foot creak on a loose floorboard.
"Bonjour," I say simply.
"Hello." he replies, pulling me into a loose hug. "How are you?"
"I've been better. How are you?" I ask, trying to take his attention off me and onto himself. He doesn't fall for it.
"Emmanuel." he pauses, "How have you been?"
I sigh, leaning against the opposite wall. He imitates my movements just like Gilles was beginning to do. The thought brings pain to my heart; I bow my head slightly, sniff and look up to Gerard's cool, comforting eyes.
"That well, huh?" I smile quickly. Gerard has been my friend for a long time, since before I even joined the Blanche. He was the one that introduced me to her in the first place. They were cousins I believe.
"How is your family?" I inquire, again moving the topic from me to him.
He sighs. "Constance is still morning, in our home in England. But, ah. Ethalda, she is, well. She's doing all she can to take her mind off it, she's even offered Father to help over here. He denied of course, he doesn't want another woman of the family to die over here."
She shouldn't have come.
As if reading my thoughts, Gerard places his weapon on its strap and over his shoulder, and grasps my shoulder. "It's not your fault they died. Elisabeth was too bloody headstrong to listen to anyone. She wanted to come here. You weren't there because you were serving your country - or what you believed it to be anyway.
"Never keep all the blame. What was it you told me? Always look for something else to blame-"
"Before you blame yourself." I finish, smirking at that selfish sentence that made us laugh over beer and wine for hours.
"There we are. The old Emmanuel I know!" He booms, stepping back to retrieve the single-barrel riffle from the ground.
I pull the gloves off my hands, allowing the damp air to embrace them and drop the gloves to a small side table. "So. Looking forward to returning to England?" I ask conventionally.
"Of course." he sniffs the basement air. "Mmm. I can just about smell Mother's famous casserole."
"You mean the one that poisoned Uncle Herbert, and made his bed ridden for a fortnight?"
"That's the one!" he says enthusiastically. We laugh. "Looking forward to doing your military snooping in Versailles?"
"How did you know that, I thought you were guarding the door?"
He taps his nose with his forefinger. "I have my ways," he winks.
I sigh, shaking my head. "I suppose so; you know the city's almost like a war zone. Like when our countries we at each other."
"The good ole days." he looks off into the corner dreamily. I raise my brows, my mouth turning into a small 'o' shape. He glances to me and laughs, "Only joking, brother!"
He catches my eye, pulls a face and despite myself, I laugh. He has always managed to do that, make me laugh. It's like; we may not be brothers by blood and only cousins by marriage. But, he's still like my brother - despite being English, of course.
We go into the main room where everyone else is when Zachary takes over as doorman. We talk more about the war and resistance in general when Annette walks up to Gerard. She hands him a letter, explaining that it must go to her father that will help if he gets into trouble, and then as quickly as she came. She walks off.
Gerard puts the letter into an inside jacket-breast pocket. "Always good to be the mail man." he laughs.
His face turns serious. "How do you think the war will end? Do you think that your country will just be like England and end up having the King back in the end?"
"I don't know." I answer truthfully, everything within me wishing that it won't happen.