The air outside quickly turned hot for Philippe, his chest felt as if someone was trying to squeeze the breath out of him and beads of sweat quickly lined his forehead. This, he knew, could not be happening it must be a nightmare or perhaps he was sick and these were just caused by fever. But everything around him felt too real, Philippe wiped away the sweat on his forehead and looked at the wetness of his hand confirming to him that this was not a dream. Philippe glanced back at the party, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves unaware that outside he was getting his heart ripped out of his chest by the woman that he loved, still loved. He looked back at Sybil who now had the look of pity in her eyes and her hardened face softened a tiny bit. She stepped towards him and put a hand on his face, he closed his eyes at her touch loving the way she seemed to make everything better with her just being near. But slowly her hand left his cheek as she walked back towards the party; turning his head he caught one last look at Sybil before she fell back into the crowd.

Philippe rested his hands on the balcony leaning forward so he could see the ground below him, which was a sea of darkness; he wished the ground would swallow him up. Philippe closed his eyes, he wanted to scream and to shout and to curse and to cry, and his fingers clawed themselves at the stone barrier until Philippe released his grip from pain. The sound of people clapping and cheering congratulations erupted behind him, but Philippe did not turn he couldn’t face what he knew the picture would be; Sybil Kerrigan, his heart and world, holding the hand of Charles Tonnerre who was one of the wealthiest men in London.

Light footsteps came out to the balcony; looking back Philippe saw Margot standing at the doorway looking at him curiously and with great regret in her eyes. Behind her he saw Sybil and Charles dancing in front of the crowd that gathered around them.

“Did Sybil send you out here to tell me to leave?” He sounded harsher than he intended to but Philippe hardly cared about Margot to apologise to her. In reply she shook her, no, and Philippe turned his head to look back out towards the garden.

He listened to her footsteps as she walked to the balcony and he looked at her through the corner of his eyes as she stood next to him peering into the darkness of the garden. Margot was too thin and too tall for any man, her hair was a darker shade of gold than her sisters and her eyes just didn’t have the same sparkle that Sybil did. For once since Philippe had known her he felt sorry for Margot, his heart giving a little twinge of regret as he remembered the times when he laughed at Sybil’s joke about her younger sister’s ugliness.

They stood together in silence, which wasn’t uncomfortable and Philippe thanked Margot for not berating him with questions as to why he had come to a party to which he received no invitation.

“I’m sorry for what my sister did…” Margot apologised, Philippe turned to look at her, her voice was quiet and yet it had gentleness to it that Sybil herself did not have. He surprised she could talk at all, but she looked up at him and smiled before quickly looking back down towards the garden below.

Silence again enveloped the pair of them, Philippe did not feel the need to talk, he didn’t want to he just needed some wine to help the headache that grew every minute. He heard the guests behind him clap as the music ended, he knew that Sybil and Charles would be bowing to the audience and to each other before everyone else would join in the festivities.

Anger boiled within him as he thought about Charles Tonnerre, the man was older than Sybil but acted as if he were still a child. Even though he was rich everyone knew that he lacked intelligence, subtlety and stamina – apparently. Philippe knew for a fact that Charles thought very little of Sybil; he was a man who cared not for the thoughts or opinions of a woman but instead took an interest to the sex of the baby she was going to deliver him. The only reason why Sybil would even consider marrying Charles was because he was wealthy and could buy her anything she wanted.

Philippe on the other hand could not give Sybil anything that her hearts desired, he wanted to scream and curse at how utterly unfair life was to him. Charles Tonnerre had money, power and now the most beautiful woman in the world whilst Philippe only had the clothes on his back and a piece of paper telling him how little he was going to earn for the next year.

“When Sybil told me about Charles I told her to stay faithful to you, but she wouldn’t listen to me and told me that I knew nothing.” The sadness and bitterness in her voice cut through the silence and Philippe couldn’t help but turn to her, “but what I lack in beauty I make up for in intelligence, although my sister is pretty she is not smarter than I am.” Margot held her head high as she spoke, proud that she at least succeeded in something that her sister lacked.

Philippe thought that Sybil was not at all stupid, she was just whimsical and enjoyed to daydream a lot. But he kept silent; he wanted Margot to have something at least to be proud of.

“Out of all the men that took an interest in Sybil, I’ve always liked you best… No, I am not implying that I want you, what I mean is you were different to the others. Gentler, more attuned to your feelings rather than how much money you have in your pockets. I believe Sybil will see that and will regret the day she accepted Charles.” Margot explained, Philippe could tell that she took care in her words as if she were reciting new lines from a play. But he smiled nonetheless at her, it was rude to wish that Sybil would regret her choice one day, but Philippe couldn’t hide his feelings.

He wanted her to regret ever choosing Charles over him.

Sighing Margot took a step back from the balcony and without another word made her way back towards the room leaving Philippe alone yet again outside in the dark. He stood there for another few minutes, waiting until his anger subsided so he could trust himself enough to go back into the room to leave without punching Charles in the mouth. That would be a bad mistake if Philippe ever did that.

Turning and walking towards the room Philippe began to fondle his pocket watch, he could see the guests in their pastel colours dancing and laughing together. He knew for a fact that those people would never know of hardships or of a hard day’s work and the only sort of sweat they would break would be from shopping. Taking a deep breath Philippe opened the door and walked in, his feet did not stop, instead they carried him across the room, and even cutting across the dancers until finally he made it outside the front of the mansion. 

The End

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