Foto bij 765. - Lucien

"Come here, you." I mutter, still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes while Felix makes grabby hands at me. Throughout the night, he's the one who spend most of his time crying. The two times Emilia cried, who luckily sleeps in another room, it was mostly because of the noise her brother made.
Felix, red-faced and tear-stricken, kicks the volume up a notch when I'm not quick enough.
"Sshh, you're gonna wake the women in the house." I shush him, lifting him out of the camping crib and cradling him against my chest. It doesn't shut him up, but it muffles the sound a bit. "And we don't want that, do we? They deserve all the rest they can get."
I walk around the office with him, rocking him gently and humming old lullabies. He quiets down a bit, but doesn't stop.
There's a couple of times when he does stop, and each time I wait until he's seemingly fallen asleep, but the moment I try to put him down in his crib he puts his little lungs back to work.
"Okay, okay." I mutter, lifting lifting back out for the fifth time. "You've made your message quite clear, petit. No sleeping in the crib, I get it."
I go back to walking around the office in circles. There's no clock here, so I have absolutely absolutely clue what time it is. Sleep is getting to me, though. While my argument to Emma wasn't a lie, there's a difference between laying awake in bed and keeping a child from crying.
"You miss your mummy and daddy, huh?" I say softly, partly to keep Felix calm, partly to keep myself awake. "I get it. Sleeping in a strange environment, and every time you want your mummy or daddy, this weird man with a beard shows up." I yawn, completing yet another lap around the room. "I'd be upset, too." He's mostly quiet now, which makes me decide to head out to the living room for a change of scenery. Lighting just the lamp near the piano, I make myself just enough light to navigate around the furniture.
"You know, my sister loved the piano when she was your age. I'd wake up in the middle of the night to my mother playing. She was a fussy sleeper, my sister - just like you. They put a crib jn the music room, because it was easier than holding her. Sometimes, I'd sneak out and go to the music room just to listen. She'd play for hours if she had to." I smile at the memory, pacing in front of the glass balcony windows. "I'd be wrapped up in a blanket in the large armchair, and often I'd wake up to my father carrying me back to bed. I'd always be afraid he'd be mad at me, but he never was. I'd play for you, if I wasn't worried about waking up your sister..." I look down on the boy still cradled against my chest. He looks sleepy, which is no wonder with how much he's cried in the last few hours. I kiss the top of his head, surprised at how natural this all feels. I'm exhausted, waves of memories and emotions hitting me at unexpected moments, often paired with flashes of jealousy because of how very nearly this was our life as well. Claire could have been the same age Felix is. She could have been the one keeping us up night after night, but make it worth it by giving us a laugh every time we'd come in the room. She could have been the one we'd take to play grounds and who'd have us washing jam off of surfaces that were never intended for, nor near to the source of, jam. She could have been our 'you've-been-crying-for-so-long-I-want-to-toss-you-out-the-window-but-you're-lucky-you're-cute'. If only the stars had wished on us.
"Tell your parents to give us some of their luck? I want one for myself." I mumble, making one final turn and then finally sinking down on the couch; my legs can no longer carry me and my eyes are drooping. Careful not to jumble the little boy too much, I put a blanket over myself and then position the boy on my chest. He seems to stay quiet, but he's not quite asleep. Quite the contrary - he looks up at me with large, dark eyes that gleam in the dim light. I smile at him tiredly.
"Vous êtes juste déterminé à rester éveillé, hein? Petit morveux ... tout comme ta maman." I carefully brush my hand over his head. I'm so tired that I've turned over to French, and I can barely think of the English words anymore. "Don't tell her I said that. I'm still not sure if she's forgiven me for breaking up with Emma. Or not stopping Emma from breaking up with me, who knows. Doesn't matter. She was pissed, and she still might be." His mouth turns into a perfect 'o' as he yawns, and his eyes flutter close. I drink in the vision, ignoring the painful pang of how this was almost mine. I drop my voice a little. "But I'll bet she'll forgive me come April. She might be mad at me first, might yell at me for 'what I put Emma through', because that's what she's like. But it's how she shows affection to her friends. She's the type to call them idiots, instead of saying I love you." His eyes are closed now and his breathing seems to have evened out. My voice lowers to a whisper. "But then she'll be happy. For me, but mostly for Emma." I can't help but smile at the thought. Somewhere this week I have planned to go ring-shopping with Gabriel and Matthew, so it's all fresh in my mind. It's been an itch all day long, living this family life I never thought I was destined for. There is an urge to say it out loud, to speak it into existance. "I'm going to ask her to marry me, little one. And if I'm lucky enough, she'll say yes."
He's asleep now, finally looking peaceful in a way I haven't seen him since we put him to bed. If I crane my neck I can just see outside; light is already peeking over the horizon, announcing the day. Iook back down on Felix, unaware of what he's put me through. I smile, and let my eyes fall closed.

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