The Mirror of Courtesy, part one

December 1, 2008 Danae Klimt
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A Tale of Nouveau Montmartre

“Just stand in front of the mirror.”

The boy pouted and cocked his hip. The line of his back deserved to be sculpted by Praxiteles, or painted by Michelangelo. “I’ve done this before, you know.”

Fionn kept his voice calm and reasonable, the way Xan used to when dealing with unarmed idiots. “Yes, but not with a teacher. That’s different. If you don’t think there’s anything I can teach you, you can just go back to classes with everyone else, right?”

The boy straightened up, his face flushing quickly. Precocious little brat, he was, and so transparent that Fionn couldn’t even feel proud of himself for sussing out that the best way to manage young Jerome McFarlane was to flatter his vanity. The brat thought he was special, so he did. The trouble is that he was likely right.

Fionn gave his new apprentice a minute to look at himself in the mirror. He could catch over the boy’s shoulder the quizzical expression on his face. What am I looking for? The same look that was on every new student’s face at first, sometimes for a long while. He remembered seeing that same look on his own face, young and unfinished and yet already battered and nearly broken. He remembered seeing Lady Willow standing behind him, looking into the mirror with him and not flinching.

He got up and stood behind Jerome. “Relax your shoulders.” He took hold of those slim pale shoulders, felt them ease under the weight of his hands. “Good. Feel that looseness go all the way down your arms, into your wrists, your thumbs. Not too soft, though. There’s tension, and then there’s flab. You don’t want either one. What you want is poise. Good.” Jerome’s hands had come to rest on his thighs.

“Now look at your face. Not just at yourself, but into yourself. Can you stand to look into your own eyes?”

Fionn had not been able to, not for weeks. He and Lady Willow had done this every day, together, until he’d been able to meet his own face, and then her reflection, watching. It wasn’t going to take this boy that long, and he wouldn’t need the treatment in between mirror sessions that Fionn had had, waiting on the Lady as her houseboy and learning pain from her hands, her whip. Young Jerome was an innocent, precociously erotic but emotionally untouched. He was so pure, in some way, that Fionn almost felt guilty about touching him.

Jerome raised his head and looked into his own face, his own eyes. His eyes changed color, Fionn had noticed, depending on how he felt, what he was wearing, what other colors were nearby. At the moment they were distinctly green, like leaves in midsummer. A few very small freckles sprinkled his cheekbones–inevitable, with that red hair and white skin, and all part of the charm. His hair was the color of polished copper, hanging loose and straight not quite to his collarbone. After a moment the puzzled little pucker of his lips and forehead went away, and he seemed to be looking into the glass as if he expected a lover to come forth.

He took Fionn’s breath away.


Entry Filed under: Nouveau Montmartre

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jsabrina  |  December 2, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Lovely, as always. You communicate so much in an outwardly simple scene.

  • 2. Danae Klimt  |  December 2, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you!

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