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In which some trivial affairs are recorded between M. Fogg and Passepartout

Chapter Text

Passepartout found his master in a very bad state.

Monsieur Fogg's usually cold blue eyes were now veiled with mist; it made them watery, to some extent. His hair (perfectly combed by Passepartout himself this morning) was disarrayed and somewhat fluffy, and his collar was askew. His lips parted slimly; his cheeks had colors that were probably painted by the dim, amber light from the kerosene lamp. The tip of his ear was red, Passepartout noticed. His master was disarranged, the most improbable thing for a gentleman like him. 

At first, his master did not recognize him. It was not until Passepartout stepped to the attrited wooden table and asked if his master needed to retire that Monsieur Fogg lifted his eyes and really /see/ him. It was an inexplicit and inexplicable gaze, conveying more meaning than it should have. 

Passepartout dared not move nor speak. From the other side of the tavern came soft, faint music played by harpsichord, the notes floating in the air like weightless feathers. One or two of them brush against Passepartout's ear. The flame inside the kerosene lamp flickered. Someone was singing an old barcarolle about /les amours perdus/. They were inside a tavern at the other side of the earth, and Passepartout might have thought of Paris or of /maman/ or of anything, but he could only stand there being looked at by his master, and found himself not only unable, but unwilling to turn his eyes away. 

He finally broke the silence by asking the question again, and this time his master did give an answer with the slightest dip of his head. He then made to stand up from his chair but stumbled; Passepartout quickly helped him straight. He found his master unusually /warm/, and he could feel the heat even against the perfectly-tailored cotton coat. His master seemed unable to stand straight by himself, and leaned on Passepartout a little while they walked.

He usually didn't touch his master in this way. It was somewhat strange, but Passepartout felt no distaste. When he successfully helped, or rather, placed his master on the bed inside the small chamber they were to stay in for the night, Passepartout felt strangely disappointed.

He regarded Monsieur Fogg, now a motionless slim figure against the bed. He could not allow his master sleep just like that. Sleeping in full dress was no gentleman behaviour at all, and the outfit would be totally crumpled and ruined. Yet even with his master apparently intoxicated, he could not do it without permission.

Still.

He began his task by removing his master's shoes and placing them at the door. Then came the long coat, a fine piece of corduroy that was always good at keeping its wearer warm and comfortable. The vest. It was a little more difficult, and Passepartout kept his fingers steady when he undid the buttons. The cravat. His fingertip accidentally brushed against the skin of his master's neck, and for a moment he was immersed by the sheer warmth of the touch.

Such close contact that could almost be called an intimacy. 

He then found himself gazing at his master, incapable of performing any other motion. So close. He observed; the shadows under his master's eyebrow, a result of continuous travel and lack of rest; a disheveled strand of hair which found its way against one of his closed his eyelids; the cheeks that were indeed faintly reddened, rather than a mere fancy of silhouette created by the lamplights. The straight nose which would make the finest profile for artists.

The beautifully carved lips.

He nipped his thoughts. It was impossible. And it would be inappropriate. And intolerable. Such inhuman practices were forbidden, according to British laws.

Yet something in the smell of wine, for he didn't drink, took its toll on him. They were on the other side of the earth, and his master was unconscious, and there was no judgment waiting ahead, only a peaceful night before tomorrow's departure. So he dared to reach out, to try to touch. 

Chapter Text

That morning should have been an ordinary one in our extraordinary journey-I got up early, prepared myself, prepared Monsieur Fogg's clothes, prepared the water for washing and shaving which was, of course, at the right temperature. Monsieur Fogg was due to rise at 6:30 a.m. precisely, and after washing himself he would have his morning tea, the temperature of which would be exactly 42 °C.

Yet eight minutes had passed, and the bedroom of Monsieur Fogg remained silent.

As a valet, it was my duty to ensure that orders of my master were carried out perfectly and that his health was guaranteed. Therefore, it cannot be regarded as malpractice if I knocked on his bedroom door.

“Are you awake, Monsieur Fogg?”

Inside the room came a faint grunt, which clearly showed that my master did not wish for my interruption. I was about to draw away from the door to reheat his basin water(the temperature of which had already been two degrees lower than he had assigned) when I heard a sound again inside the room. It was Monsieur Fogg speaking. I turned, speaking a little louder.

“What do you say, Monsieur Fogg?”

I cannot hear my master's muffled voice against the plank, but I presumed that it must have been Monsieur Fogg giving orders. It would be inappropriate of me to back away now, while as the job of valet required I should not violate my master's private space either. I hesitated for a while before finally making up my mind to push the door open.

Monsieur Fogg was sitting on the bed, regarding me with a look he had never had before. It was a mixture of confusion, helplessness, and even consternation, and all of a sudden I felt my throat tighten itself into a knot. His lips were slightly parted (in strong contrary to their usual way of being pinned together), making his facial expression completely at a loss.

“Where am I?”

Surely my master wasn't being serious by asking me where he was! I tried to appear calm as I replied: “In Paris, Monsieur. We are in Paris.”

“Paris...?” Monsieur Fogg furrowed his brows and turned his head away, looking museful. His expression didn't relax after a moment of contemplation, but became, as I dare say, rather puzzled instead. Then, he looked back at me and asked,“Why?”

That was a ridiculous question! I couldn't believe my master would ask such a thing while it was HE who started the whole of it. But I remained controlled as I could and answered him using the most polite tone possible. “We are in Paris, monsieur, because you decided it to be so. And we are going to travel around the world.”

Here, for a second, my master's expression fell entirely into terror. He soon got himself composed as ever, but I could sense the  undergoing uncertainty in his voice.“Around the world?”

“Indeed, around the world, and in 80 days only,” I said, “There's a wager for it.”

“How come...?” Monsieur Fogg murmured, as if in a dream. “I was just attending the boxing competition yesterday against Oxford, how come that I wake up to find myself in Paris with this unfamiliar Frenchman?”

“I am your valet, monsieur!” I felt rather offended by his forgetfulness, and exclaimed, “It is fine if you will find fault with me, for I will be able to correct them. But this! This is unimaginable! To be employed as a valet, only to find that your own master doesn't recognise you!”

Monsieur Fogg did not reply. It now dawned on me that he, indeed, did not recognise me; or rather, he did not, and had never /known/ me at all. He regarded me with the look you would direct at a total stranger, and my heart dropped at that cold, blank gaze.

"Monsieur, are you all right?" I wanted to come closer to him, but his eyes held me still.

My master then broke our eye contact and started rubbing his temples while I stood and waited in anxiety. Finally, he let out a small puff and asked me in a very gentle, low voice: "You are my valet?"

"/Oui/, monsieur."

"Then depict to me everything that has happened. Since you met me."