A/N: Sorry that this chapter took a bit longer than I'd thought it would. School kind of snuck up on me, but even aside from that, this chapter was a tough one for me to write. I'm not really sure why, but every time I'd come back and try to write it, I would stop because it sounded so horrible to me. Hopefully you guys think it's still pretty okay (although I wouldn't be able to blame you if you didn't).

"Oh," I said softly, watching as Julien made his way over to the kitchenette. "Okay then."

Julien opened up the refrigerator and began rummaging around in it. "Is there anything you would like to drink, Margalo?"

I pulled one of the wooden chairs out from under the dining table and sat in it. I shrugged. "Sure. I'll have whatever you're having."

Julien paused, ceasing in his search of the refrigerator. "Ah. I see," he murmured. "In that case…" He shut the refrigerator door and moved over to a cabinet instead, reaching in and taking down two glasses. He filled them both with water from the tap, then came back over to the table. He handed one glass to me, I thanked him, and then he sat down at the table himself.

I took a sip of my water and waited for Julien to begin. He, however, remained silent, running his index finger along the rim of his glass. Obviously he didn't intend to give up information that voluntarily.

I sighed and decided to help him along a little bit. "So, Julien," I began tentatively, "have you…always lived down here?"

Julien waited a beat before replying. "No. No, I have not always lived here." He fell quiet again, as if taking a moment to gather his thoughts. Finally, he took a deep breath and went on. "You see, Margalo, my family and I are from France, originally. We moved to America after the death of my mother."

I sucked in a breath. "Oh, Julien, I'm so sorry."

Julien inclined his head. "There's no need for you to be sorry. It's quite all right. She didn't suffer."

I frowned a little at the strange emphasis he had put on the last statement, but quickly waved it away. "Still," I continued, "it must have been hard on you. How old were you when she died?"

Julien looked up at me. "What?"

"I said, how old were you when she died? You don't have to answer; I didn't mean to sound so insensitive, I just--"

"No, no, it's fine," Julien said quickly, cutting me off. He blinked. "I was…five," he said after a moment.

"How awful," I murmured.

"Yes," Julien mused, his eyes leaving my face and instead staring at something that seemed to be far away. "Yes, I suppose it was. At any rate," his eyes returned to me once more, "Father was very torn up about it. We decided to move to America, then, and stay with some of our relatives in Louisiana until he was back on his feet again."

"I see," I said quietly. "Wow. What a thing to go through when you're only five years old."

Julien shrugged. "I honestly can't remember most of this. Many of the details were told to me by my sister, Colette, when I was older."

"Oh. So, how long did you stay in Louisiana?"

"Not for very long." Julien shifted a bit uncomfortably in his chair. "We were there for a few years when things began to, ah, get rough. Father figured another move would probably do us good."

I opened my mouth to ask him what had happened in Louisiana, but decided not to. If he had really wanted to tell me about it, he would have told me, I figured. I was lucky that Julien had agreed to even talk this much.

"So, needless to say, we moved here, to River Oaks, and bought this house." Julien gestured at the room around us. "Things were quite peaceful for a time. As a matter of fact, I was just beginning to believe life could be somewhat normal for us again, when…" Julien trailed off, his eyes getting that far off look in them once more.

"When, what?" I prompted softly, leaning forward in my chair.

Slowly Julien turned his eyes to meet mine. "He left."

I blinked. "Who left?"

"Father. He just…went out one night and never came back."

My mouth fell open. I didn't know what to say. I understood perfectly what he had to have gone through, and yet I couldn't find the words to tell him so. I couldn't even tell him how sorry I was that that had happened to him. Julien didn't say anything either, just continued to sit there, gazing steadily at me with an odd look in his eyes. It was almost like he understood that I wanted to say something but couldn't, and he was prepared to sit there and patiently wait until I did so.

"I…how horrible, Julien," I finally managed to say. I had been going to tell him about my sister, but had chickened out at the last second. I had never told anyone about how hard it had been on me after Marianne had run off. We weren't allowed to talk about her at home, and I had never even considered telling Arisa, who was practically my only friend, anything at all. Perhaps one day I would tell Julien...but it wasn't going to be today.

Julien sighed, a trace of disappointment flickering across his face before his expression became cool and composed once more. "Yes." His voice was strained all of a sudden. "Well, naturally, we all searched for him for quite some time. However, after all of our searches proved fruitless, my siblings began to give up hope. Antoine and Colette were already old enough by that time to start their own lives, and Luc wasn't far behind them. None of them had ever cared very much for this town; they were all quite eager to get out."

"And what about you?" I whispered.

Julien was quiet for a moment. "I…I couldn't bring myself to leave. After all, this was first place that had ever actually felt like home to me. And deep down, I knew, just knew, that Father would return one day. I still believe that. I don't think I ever stopped believing it, actually." A small smile appeared on his lips.

I smiled back at him half-heartedly. For the first few months after Marianne had run off, I'd believed she would return, too. Of course, then I had been only ten years old. I knew now that she would never come back. Not only because she had made a life for herself out in the world that she was perfectly content with, but because she was no longer welcome at our house.

"So," I said after a moment. "How did this place wind up being a library, anyway? I'm still curious about that part."

"Ah." Julien leaned back in his chair, looking more at ease. Apparently, the hard parts of his story were over. "Well, when I told my brothers and sister that I planned to remain here until Father returned, naturally, they objected. Antoine in particular seemed to think that my idea was, in his words, 'incredibly stupid.' But I refused to change my mind. So, in an effort to get me to leave, Antoine sold the house to the town to be used as a public library, since we had more than enough books to start one. Since the house would then belong to whoever decided to run the library, I would no longer have any right to live here. Luckily, however, the new owner of this house sympathized with my story and allowed me to continue living here for a small fee every month."

I smiled. I didn't have to try very hard to imagine Mr. Wren doing something like that.

"And so, here I am," Julien said, clasping his hands together and leaning forward in his chair. "I hope that I've managed to answer your questions satisfactorily."

I blushed, suddenly embarrassed as I recalled how I'd practically begged for him to tell me all those things about himself. I looked away from him, focusing instead on the piano in the corner of the room.

Julien must have followed my gaze, for he asked, "Do you play the piano, Margalo?"

"Only a little," I said, still not looking at him. Then I sighed and turned to face him again. Something else was bothering me now. "Julien," I said quietly. "Can I ask you something?"

Instantly, Julien's face became suspicious. Before he could say anything, I continued, "It's only one question. After that I promise I'll never ask you anything else again."

Julien relaxed somewhat, but the look of suspicion remained on his face. "All right then. What is it, Margalo?"

"Why has this been kept such a big secret? Why doesn't anyone else in town know that you live down here?"

Julien's guarded expression turned thoughtful. "Well, you see, Margalo," he began, seeming more at ease now. "If it was a well-known fact that I lived down here, it wouldn't take long for all sorts of malicious gossip and rumors to begin flying about my family and situation. My family has endured such things before, and I would prefer it if that did not happen again."

I nodded, remembering how he hadn't seemed to want to mention exactly what had caused his Father to want to move their family out of Louisiana.

"Besides," Julien continued, "I'm really quite happy here by myself. I teach myself the lessons I would have learned in school, and Mr. Wren is wonderfully obliging when it comes time for him do some, ah, shopping for me. It's really for the best that no one, save for Mr. Wren, Heather, and now you, Margalo, know my little secret."

"I see," I murmured. I was still somewhat irritated that Mr. Wren hadn't let me in on the secret sooner himself. I had, after all, been coming to this library for years, developed very close friendships with both him and his granddaughter. Yet he still hadn't believed he could trust me?

The sudden low growling of my stomach interrupted my thoughts. I blushed once more, embarrassed anew. To my surprise, Julien burst out laughing. For a moment, I just sat there, feeling more embarrassed than ever. Then, slowly, I felt a smile spread across my face. I had never heard Julien laugh before, I realized. I could feel my heart warm towards the sound.

Julien finally managed to get his laughter somewhat under control. "I am terribly sorry," he said, putting a hand to his mouth. "I didn't mean to laugh at you; I honestly have no idea why I found that so funny…"

"It's all right," I said quietly, watching as he stood and took our glasses over to the kitchen, dumping the remaining water in the sink. I realized that I had never seen him take a sip of his, despite how thirsty he'd claimed to be. I shook my head, brushing the thought away.

"I figured you hadn't had any breakfast before you came here," Julien was saying, the smile still on his face. He rummaged through some of his cabinets for a moment before turning back to me, an apologetic look on his face. "I'm afraid, however, that I have nothing to fix for you. Mr. Wren has not yet done my grocery shopping."

"Oh, that's okay," I said, standing up. "I should probably be going, anyway." I had a bunch of new information to process, after all. "I'm sorry for taking up so much of your time."

"It was no problem at all," Julien said, walking over to join me as I headed for the stairs. "I'm rather glad that I had the chance to finally talk about some of those things."

I beamed at him. "I'm glad that you talked to me. Thank you."

Julien held out his hand and I grabbed it once more, letting him lead me back up the stairs.

"Think nothing of it, Margalo," he said in a voice just barely above a whisper. "Please come back and talk to me anytime you wish."

A/N: Okay, so I cannot believe how many little errors I made here. I also can't believe I didn't catch them before I posted the chapter! So, I decided I had to go through and revise this one already. It simply couldn't wait until the end when I am planning on revising everything. Okay. Anyway, I have the next chapter all planned out already, so unless school really decides to get tough on me, it shouldn't take too long for me to get it posted. Thanks so much for reading!!