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A Thin Line

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A thin line

'Falcon, calm your feathers.'

Stopping his tracks over the marble floor, the veteran lawyer gave his assistant an anxious glance. He could afford one. Somewhere in his mind, Falcon agreed he should take up Sparrowson's advice but his emotions were hardly in tune for reason.

Not realising his anxiety and its leaking effects, Falcon continued his uneasy pacing beside the window, past the glass panels looking over the Seine. It was late into the afternoon with the sun sitting low, a beautiful sight. That was if anyone had half the heart to care. As pleasant as the view was, this was the hospital. No one here came for sightseeing.

Adding to the taps of his boots resounding within the walls, Falcon began mumbling, repeating to himself the slimmer man survived the night with all the inflicted torture cuts. Or that Séverin, proud as a peacock, would not go out this easily.

It was a good convincing theory but so were the hard evidences to prove otherwise. Moving the man had reopened the wounds. The moment they left the Church grounds, the posture perfect man had leaned heavily on Falcon for support, to pass out shortly after.

Up and down. Sparrowson's sigh passed over his head.

Up and down again. The hinted coughs and annoyed looks of waiting visitors went unnoticed.

Falcon should be more considerate but with the rooster's condition unknown, graces seemed unimportant. In fact, very little else mattered till he was sure Séverin was alright.

The darkness of the catacombs made it difficult for him to see the extent of Séverin's injuries, a secondary concern of little difference when a gun was pointed at the Prosecutor’s head. First and foremost should be securing Séverin's release and ensuring their rights, including his own to leave, which Falcon had barely scraped by obtaining both. It was under the light of the mid-day sun, where Falcon finally had a clear glimpse of Séverin's bloodied state and the amount of willpower the Prosecutor had to have held on to his conscious for them throughout the mocked trial.

It felt like forever before Doctor Alpes finally stood outside. Soft words of assurance to both, the man had pulled through. Being old friends with the Prosecutor, the weasel was pleased as well and excused himself to inform a member of Cocorico household. As Falcon allowed himself into the room, he sent Sparrowson home for a well deserved rest. They all did but he insisted to stay.

Left alone with the sleeping patient, Falcon sat heavily down onto the armchair beside the bed. With the adrenaline drained, replaced with a sense of relief, Falcon felt the exhaustion washed over his old bones and ran a tired hand through his ruffled feathers. It had been a crazy and hectic day, and the very person before him almost joined one of the many millions sleeping below the city.

Séverin’s torn clothes was changed into a clean hospital gown but Falcon would not forget the blood. The lingering image of Séverin's white crisp shirt turned red had done little to ease his mind while the rusty smell of the dried stains on his coat only intensified his fears that he might had let another person down.

No, a friend. Séverin had called him a friend in his letter.

Until this morning, Falcon personally would call themselves acquaintance at best or the occasional arch rival, having only met in court 6 times. Each time they encountered outside, they only traded insults. Never was there a time the two had done anything remotely close to what most people understood friends do. And yet, Séverin had seen him as a friend, with enough faith in Falcon to entrust the latter with his parting words if anything was to happen to him.

All on a day Falcon chose to wake up late, adding weight to his guilt, feeling it was his fault. Séverin could have sustained lighter injuries. If he had stepped into the office earlier to receive Séverin's letter, to force into the catacombs than waste time bribing the crow, the outcome might be less drastic. Sparrowson, of course disagreed, posting a strong argument it was only Falcon’s sense of duty as a lawyer and Séverin was the one who chose this path, agreeing to scout without support.

Probably.

Even so, Falcon felt he could have done more and Séverin would not be lying here, on this bed with his smug eyes closed, skin looking paler than white and swollen bruises tainting the once flawless skin. He hoped no scars stay on the perfectly groomed man.

Something brewed to the surface as he took in the pompous Prosecutor’s weak and vulnerable form. There was no arrogant tone nor any sharp words to put him down. Only silence. The same dead silence he gave the rebels, which was unlike Séverin. The Séverin he knew could and would have easily defended himself with words but when they found him tied up, beaten and interrogated for a crime he did not commit, the man did not utter a single word to prove his innocence.

In fact, Séverin’s behavior from the whole letter onwards was nothing like him at all. To go to the meet up point knowing it was a suicide mission? When the infamous Prosecutor was well known to research thoroughly before any actual action? Something seemed amiss and misplaced now that he could sit and think through it clearly. There were no signs of Séverin fighting back. Hardly a logical reaction for someone who carried a riding crop everywhere for protection. What had stopped the man from doing anything? Yes, he might have been outnumbered but Séverin had not objected to Beaumort’s attempt to shoot him. On the contrary, he urged the young Madame to pull the trigger.

‘Why did you do that, Séverin?’

Do you remember the trial of a homeless lion……….his crime was to feed a homeless child………my father died in his third………year of his sentence.

‘Please don’t tell me…’

Had Séverin recognised Beaumort when he was dragged off? It was possible he might even knew before he went.

Séverin claimed he did not remember the trial at all, which Falcon knew it was a lie if it was indeed the ruthless Prosecutor who handled the trial for the lion. The meticulous man had a annoying level of memory for many things, remembering the faces and names of every person met. He highly doubted Séverin had forgotten.

If so, why did Séverin lie? And going as far as taunting the lioness?

So many questions. So many possibilities.

If it was to atone for indirectly causing Beaumort’s father’s death, an unjust outcome for only stealing vegetables for a starving child, then Falcon had only word to say. One that often left Séverin’s beak.

‘Séverin, you’re a fool as much as I always am. What happened to the Justice you always preached about? If you had died for a crime you didn’t commit, how was that even remotely fair and just?’

They were lucky that despite the young Madame's grudge towards Séverin and her distrust for anyone of the law, she had been reasonable. She allowed Falcon a fair trial and not take the blind path of revenge. Falcon would call it justice. But was it? A debatable concept of what it could mean. The law claimed to bring order and justice but had it? Not always. He had been tricked into defending the criminals and brought the innocents their death. He had doubts for the Justice system and its loopholes, its incapacity to protect the weak.

Séverin, it wasn’t your fault the lion died. He had a noble means but he still committed a crime when he stole. You did your job. 5 years sentence was too harsh but it was the law, which finally passed that judgement. It was the corrupted state forcing the poor to resort to crimes, to empower the rich even more to twist the law to their benefits.

In the end, it was a tool for whoever knew its uses and the best they could do was to use it as well. Maybe that was the reason for Séverin’s obsession with Justice.

‘Good evening, Monsieur.’

Falcon’s deep thoughts was disrupted by a voice behind him. Rising and turning from the chair, he saw a smartly dressed peacock and the doctor in the doorway, whose straight posture reminded him strongly of someone.

‘Good evening to you too, Monsieur...?’

‘Bleupaon. It’s an honor to meet you, Monsieur Falcon.’

Giving a deep bow, the elegant man stepped into the room and moved right up to the bed to tug his master deeper into the quilt.

‘How did you know my name?’

‘Master Séverin has always speak highly of you in excruciating details, Monsieur. I would recognise the description anywhere.’

In details?

Giving a barely audible chuckle, the older butler looked up with a trained smile.

Not sure if I want to know what Séverin said to him.

‘Monsieur Bleupaon-’

‘Please, only my name. I’m nothing more than a humble butler of the Cocorico household. It would be too bold.’

‘Alright. Bleupaon it is. Now that you’re here, I’m sure Séverin’s in good hands and thus, I must take my leave. Your master had gave me a good idea what I should be doing so I shall prepare for it.’

Another bow and the man escorted Falcon to the door. Before Falcon left, the curious bird turned to the peacock with a question.

‘Have your Master always been this reckless?’

A slightly surprised face and then another smile.

‘No. If I dare say, he’s most careful about pursuing the correct person. Although his calm demeanor seemed forced since two days ago after receiving a tip off and a little distraught as he flipped through some old documents. Was this any helpful?’

‘Yes. Very. Thank you for your time and good night to you, Bleupaon. Doctor, good night.’

‘Good night to you too, Monsieur Falcon.’

A nod and Falcon turned into the corridor. Stepping into the colder street but a lighter heart, Falcon believed he had at least one answer to all the questions tonight.

Séverin, you’re a bumbling fool.