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The Moulin Rouge was quiet that night. What was usually a place full of boisterous music and laughter and joy became somewhat liminal as all the dancers and staff went their merry ways home and the lights had been put off. The stage was empty; the curtains were drawn. The halls were so quiet that one could hear even the mice scampering across the floor.  

Charles decided to stay overtime that night to take care of the paperwork, and naturally, his secretary, Jeanne could not just leave without him. Charles was stressed thinking about ways to make a new revue that wasn’t as much of a disaster as La Vie Parisienne . He needed to think of plans: Does he hire a few more dancers or does he just polish the dancers that he had already? He was so busy the past week, running around meeting people, making deals, meeting directors -- everything was hectic. He hardly had the time to talk to Jeanne apart from work-related things too. 

Still, Jeanne was patient. 

Jeanne was sitting on top of his desk, sorting out the pictures of the people who wanted to audition to be new dancers in the Moulin Rouge. Most of them were ballerinas, waiting for their big break, it seemed. She rubbed her eyes, drowsily. She let out a yawn, which drew Charles’s attention to her. Charles stood to meet her, with his hands clasped behind him. He looked at Jeanne with soft eyes, like she was the most beautiful human he had set his eyes on. 

“What is it?” Jeanne asked. 

“Maybe we should take a break,” Charles said.

She shook her head, curls following the direction her head moved. She seemed to be fighting another yawn as she said, “Maybe you should take a break, Charles… you’ve been at it all day and you haven’t really stopped.” 

“If my lady wants me to take a break then I shall.” Charles held his arms out in front of him, “come here…” 

Without a moment’s hesitation, Jeanne buried her face in Charles' neck, wrapping her arms around the man’s torso. The papers she had been holding fell carelessly to the floor, but Charles couldn't care less about them. Charles held Jeanne closer, feeling all his stress melt away the more he pressed against his girl. Jeanne closed her eyes, inhaling the perfume on Charles’s orange collar. 

“Did I ever tell you,” Jeanne started, nose against Charles’s neck as she spoke, “that this coat makes you look like a pumpkin?”

Charles looked offended for a second, but then whispered right into Jeanne’s ear as he said, “Would you like to take it off of me, then?” 

It took less than a heartbeat for Jeanne to glow as red as a cherry. She had never been flirted with like this before, at least with someone she was mutually interested in. She had never been in love, even, and the days since they had professed their love for each other were bliss - but aside from the occasional kisses, they have never gone anywhere more than that quite yet. Charles was respectful and patient. Some days, he would watch her work, gazing lovingly with those beady dark eyes. He might not know the way to Gabrielle’s heart, but he sure did know the way to hers. 

Charles’s back was pressed against the desk as Jeanne nuzzled closer. She unclasped her hands from his back and made her way under Charles’s coat, warming her palms on his waist. In response, Charles turned them around so their positions were switched. He raised his head so that their noses touched. Jeanne stared at his lips, which were parted slightly.  

Then, Charles drew closer, until their lips were a mere inch apart, but then decided to be a little tease at the last second. He pressed his lips on the corner of Jeanne’s mouth, which made her gasp. Then another on the other side. He felt the corners of her mouth turn upwards as he continued, kissing her around her chin area, dotting kisses wherever their lips could reach. Afterwards, he planted slow, slow kisses on his lover’s jawline. So slow that he could hear Jeanne exhaling every time he did so. 

Jeanne’s hands moved away from his waist to his shoulders, fingers carefully making their way up his coat. She inhaled and moved to take the coat off of Charles, to reveal a dark purple waistcoat underneath. The coat fell to the floor and Charles kicked it out of the way so that he wouldn’t slip. Charles kept kissing just below her jaw, making his way down their long, swan-like neck, slowly. 

“Did you miss me?” Jeanne asked, combing his slicked-back hair with her fingers.

Before saying anything, Charles hoisted them up so she was sitting on the edge of the desk, Charles standing in between her legs. “What do you think?” 

“I missed you too,” she told him, looking right into his eyes. 

Charles stalled. He knew that that was the cue to kiss, but he had forgotten, since he was so lost in their eyes he could not think of the next thing to do. Instead of kissing them, as she expected, Charles pulled her closer into another hug, then pulled away. He raised her hand to bring it up to his face. There were ink stains on them, and a few healed papercuts. One by one, he kissed her fingertips to relieve them of the work she had been doing the whole day, then the back of her hand until Charles simply could not stop praising her body in kisses. 

“Charles,” she breathed, “you’re making me go insane—” 

Her lover, not heeding, bit gently on her finger which elicited a small squeal from her. Then, he kissed the back of her wrist. He did the same to the other hand, tenderly pressing his lips against her soft, warm skin. He looked at her as soon as he was done. 

“You’re making me go insane,” he told her, quietly. 

Charles Zidler has of course had his own fair share of women and men, but none of them took his attention like his beautiful Jeanne. She was everything he had ever wished for in a person — earnest, hardworking and charming. Jeanne did not seem like any girl or boy he had met, but she gave him the will to live. He fell in love, before he even knew Jeanne was a woman. Well, either way, it did not matter to him. He fell in love with her , and not her sex.

She undid his waistcoat with slow, hesitant fingers, setting the article of clothing down past his shoulders until Charles shrugged it off to join the discarded orange coat. Then, she pulled him closer with her legs. She hid her face from him, shyly. She was not used to this — she was not used to being so eagerly in love that all she could think about was his body on hers and tender kisses in the morning after. She made her own stomach flip just from thinking about the morning after… their bare bodies blanketed in Charles’s warm duvet… 

Charles raised her chin with his finger. “Why do you hide your face, darling?” 

“I am… not used to this…” Jeanne admitted.

“Then let me take the lead, this time…” 

Charles’s finger brushed against the top of Jeanne’s lips, parting his own slightly before pressing his lips against hers. Jeanne, shameful it is to admit, did not know how to kiss. She had read about them multiple times in books, particularly Gabrielle’s books. She knows what a kiss is — but to kiss someone like this was new to her. She never let anyone touch her, so she could only imagine what a kiss felt like. As Charles’s tongue slowly made its way into her mouth, she squealed in surprise.  

“My, my,” Charles pulled away slightly, just to give Jeanne’s heart time to breathe. “It seems like someone is in need of a kissing lesson—”

“W-well,” Jeanne tried to compose herself by sitting up a bit straighter. “Maybe I learn better by example.” 

Charles giggled softly, stroking her cheek. “Maybe you do.” 

With that, he did the same thing again. Only this time, Jeanne was able to receive it better than she did the previous time. A small moan snuck out from Charles’s mouth, making Jeanne’s stomach flip again. Her heart was pounding embarrassingly quick in its cage. She put her hands on Charles’s chest and found comfort knowing that Charles’s heart was beating at the same pace as hers. 

Jeanne’s hands crawled up along Charles’ back, feeling his shoulder blades with her fingertips before her fingers landed on the back of his head. She played with the locks as they continued to kiss, not caring how his hair would look like afterward. The more Charles sighed, the more assured Jeanne felt about how well she was doing. The next time Charles made a sound, Jeanne tried to follow suit as well. 

“Put your legs around me,” Charles said. He took the back of her knees and pulled her as close as he possibly could. 

Now, Jeanne was not an idiot. She had read “Claudine” after all. She knew what would happen whenever a man felt good about a certain… something. Judging by the sounds he was making earlier, it was clear that Charles was getting… pleased. What Jeanne did not expect to feel was just how excited he was underneath all that. She felt it against herself. Between her legs.

Jeanne tried so hard not to melt on the spot. 

“Don’t be scared,” Charles said, in the softest voice he’s spoken in all day. “I won’t do anything you wouldn’t want me to… in fact, tell me what you want… now you take the lead...” 

Jeanne bit the bottom of her lip, trying to ignore how much her heart was pounding because of all of this. 

“Take your shirt off,” she requested. 

“As you wish,”

Charles undid the buttons on his collar first, then he led Jeanne's hands so they were on his hips. He crossed his arms in front of himself, grabbing the hem of his shirt, before pulling it over his head. As soon as she saw the exposed skin, Jeanne's hands padded on Charles’s toned physique. It wasn’t that of a dancer, for sure. Charles was not as muscular as Leo, but he was still beautiful. So beautiful that she had lost her ability to speak for a moment.

“Do you like what you see…?”

“You're so beautiful—” 

“Not as beautiful as you are, my love,” he smiled. 

He allowed Jeanne to explore him as much as she wanted. She would pinch and squeeze his arms, then his stomach, his chest. She leaned in to press her ear against his heart to hear it beat.

“What is it?”

“It’s beating very fast…” 

She looked up at him, with eyes that glimmered with uncertainty and curiosity. Charles ran a hand through her soft, bouncy locks before bringing it down to her chin again. He gently raised her from the chin to meet his face—Charles found it very attractive that his lover was taller than him—before leaning in for another kiss again.

Jeanne pulled him close, as close as she could to feel how warm he was. He was very, very warm, almost as warm as the glass of a gas lamp. Jeanne enjoyed the warmth, she wanted to bask in it forever. She leads Charles' head down to her neck, making him do what felt good to her. Charles was happy to oblige. He latched a finger under Jeanne’s bow, silently asking permission to take it off. She nodded. He slipped the bow off with one swift movement. With all this new access, Charles’ lips made their way further down Jeanne’s neck. 

Jeanne threw her head back, holding on to Charles for balance, her legs crossed around his back. Charles’ lips made their way down the length of her neck, his mustache occasionally brushing against her skin. Jeanne’s fingers moved to the buttons of her waistcoat, quickly trying to unbutton the thing with one hand. 

“Jeanne—” 

“Let’s turn this around,” she said, making Charles stand a bit away so she could switch their places around.

He truly did not expect Jeanne lifting him up the desk the same way he did (and with more ease too) but God on high, that only made him more excited. Jeanne had her waistcoat open and undone, her bow on the floor, neck red with kisses. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever set his eyes on.

Jeanne felt more secure when she felt like she was taking the shots this time, with Charles’ legs around her . She pulled him by the backs of his knees, so his legs would cross around her. Charles cupped her face to bring it closer to his. 

Instead of kissing her lips, however, they landed on Jeanne’s plump cheeks. Kissing them softly as if he were kissing apples. He would nibble sometimes, to tease her, and to see how she would react, but she only giggled. How melodic her giggle was too…

“Should we really be doing this here, in your office?” she asked him, some rationality returning to her after realizing that they were still in the Moulin Rouge. 

“Everyone has gone home already,” Charles reassured her, “so there is nothing to fear…” 

Jeanne couldn’t even protest because Charles’ lips were again on her neck. His hands found hers and their fingers laced together, palm pressing against palm. She turned the tables, using her free hand to lift Charles’ chin up so she could devour his neck as well. Charles was already getting so loud. 

“My Jeanne,” he whispered against his sighs, “ my Jeanne…”

“My Charles,” she replied into his ear, to make him shiver, “all mine…” 

Charles moved his free hand over to the top button of her shirt, asking permission by looking into her eyes with his own pleading ones. 

“You may.” 

With that, Charles unbuttoned only the first few ones, just to have enough access to her skin. He didn’t want to see her if she didn’t want to be. His lips and tongue explored her sharp collarbones, sucking a little, to make a small mark. He did not care if the rest of the dancers saw. They knew they were sickeningly in love.

Knowing Charles would not dare overstep his boundaries, Jeanne took it upon herself to unbutton the rest, revealing everything that she wanted to hide from the world before, to him. He stared, mouth agape like he was staring at a painting in the Louvre. She was so beautiful, Charles could not comprehend anything anymore. He lined kisses down her chest, in places he didn’t think he would be able to reach until much later. Jeanne was much quieter than Charles, her sounds were soft, like the squeaks of mice. 

He peeled the shirt off slowly, to feel the muscles on her back, on her biceps, on her shoulders with his bare hands. The shirt joined the pool of discarded clothes on the floor. Jeanne was so much stronger than he was, and that only made Charles more excited. When the shirt fell, Jeanne immediately covered herself with her hands.

“What is it, darling?”

“It’s just… I’ve never been seen like this before,” she explained, “by… anyone.” 

“There’s nothing to be afraid of.” 

He put a hand on the arms that were covering her chest, gently easing them down so she would not be so nervous. His hands made her way to exploring her, hands slowly making their way up to the curves of her breasts, slow enough that Jeanne would be prepared for when his fingers would touch the skin. He was going to worship her body in so many kisses. He pulled her close, so that his face was directly on her cleavage, before kissing in between them. Jeanne exclaims in surprise but lets him continue. She closed her eyes and let Charles pamper her. 

“Excuse me, sir, I think I might have forgotten something in your off—”

Leo stopped in his tracks to read the room within a second, before immediately shutting the door behind him. Jeanne, face now entirely red but for a different reason, snapped out of her trance and immediately picked up her shirt to button herself up. She moved aside so Charles could stand up and walk to the door. 

“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to walk in like that!” Leo said on the other side. 

“Dear God, boy, at least learn how to knock!” 

“Right. Y-you know what, I think I’ll just get the thing tomorrow… good night, sir!” 

They heard the sounds of shoes rushing away from the door, which meant that Leo had left. Charles realized that all this time they hadn’t locked the door. He was confident that no one would walk in, after all. The Moulin Rouge was empty, the last time they checked. Jeanne was standing in the corner of the room, arranging herself. Charles took a glance at her neck and saw that it was still freshly peppered with his markings.

“How about we go home for today?” He offered.

“I agree,” Jeanne said, fixing her bowtie. 

“...To my house,” he continued, giving her big, pleading eyes. He held his hand out to her.

Jeanne giggled at the proposition but didn’t take his hand. 

“Oh dear, at least take me out to dinner first!” 

With that, Charles laughed and kissed her again, but this time he raised himself on his tiptoes slightly to kiss her on the forehead. He will woo this girl for as long as she wants, especially when she gives him that knowing smirk. She swiped her tongue across his mouth (a trick she learned that night), and then left out the door. 

Charles just stared at the door after she left, breathless.