Louis was singing another lullaby when Riel snuck in for their daily meetings. The young prince hugged his knees to his chest, rocking himself in a corner.
'Louis,' the older boy whispered, approaching Louis with a smile.
Louis looked up at him, his blue eyes vacant and his face deathly pale. After a few moments of silence, he returned to what he was doing.
'Louis, it's me. It's Riel,' he tried again, crouching down in front of him.
'Louis…that's the name of my father.' The younger boy whispered.
'Yes, your father, the king. The man who ruined France. The one who, as I remember, is the cause of your rapid deterioration in this detention cell.'
Louis only looked at him. Riel was starting to get annoyed with Louis. The latter wasn't usually like this. He was always happy when Riel came by. Riel was also starting to get freaked. Anything. Anything at all was better than seeing Louis's eyes vacated of expression. Anger. Sadness. Happiness. Anxiety. That's it; he had to get Louis to rise to a bait.
'Your father was a bastard and a coward,' Riel's voice was so harsh and cold, it sliced through the blank feelings of Louis.
'You have no right to speak of my father! You don't know him like I did! You didn't live with him for almost all your life! How dare-' Louis was red faced with anger, standing now.
'YOUR FATHER IS THE REASON THAT FRANCE IS A HELL HOLE! YOUR FATHER is the reason why you're imprisoned here! Your father is the reason why France starves and there is no money for your country, you ignorant brat!' Riel retorted as he too stood to tower over the smaller boy, 'You are so blind! Clever, witty, amazing but blind! What did you see when they took your father away? What did you see when he stayed but he wouldn't insist on letting you, your mother or even your sister?'
Louis didn't reply.
'You're an ignorant brat!'
Once the words were out of his mouth, Riel regretted them immediately. His eyes widened considerably as he saw Louis's blue eyes fill with unshed tears. He made to reach out to the other, brushing his fingers on Louis's balled up fists. He tried to hide his hurt when Louis moved away, farther for him.
'Louis…I…I…' he struggled to find the right words, to soothe the blonde boy…but he found none.
'Then why do you come back every day? Am I…Am I some sort of way to pass the time?' Louis's voice was feeble.
'Go,' barely audible but firm.
Riel rubbed his face with his hand, staying there.
'Please…just go…' and Louis looked at him with the most heart wrenching stare.
Riel nodded, keeping his gaze on Louis for a little while longer before leaving the way he usually came.
Once Riel had disappeared, Louis let the tears fall.
'Oh how foolish I could be. First, maman. Then papa. Now…now that I have finally believed that I meant something to someone…I am nothing but a brat,' he sniffed quietly, 'And here I thought…'
Suddenly, the blonde boy burst into hysterical laughter; clutching at his abdomen in hollow mirth. Tears continued to stream down his face though.
'No…he could never. He would never. It is nigh possible…He would never love anyone like me; helpless, mad, imprisoned and dirty. I am nothing to him.' Another cackle of laughter.
Louis broke into his round of lullabies once again. He wished if there was a God above, he would die quicker. It was a mercy. He wished for someone to love him for who he was. He wished to find that light in the dark.
Riel came back the next day. He found Louis in one of his fits once again. But this time around, it was worse than ever. Louis sat there, his legs crossed and his back to Riel, talking to someone who wasn't even there.
'Alex…I wish I could see the fireworks again. Remember? The ones in Versailles were the prettiest,' Louis paused, as if waiting to hear a reply.
'Petit prince, you will see the fireworks again one day. I promise you. I will set you free of these walls, mon petit prince,' Louis heard the soft voice of Alexandre, his once-upon-a-time companion in Versailles and Tuileries.
Alexandre was dead though. This Louis knew, in his sane mind; Alex was killed when he tried to sneak Louis out, under the nose of the Duc du Orleans.
'I've seen the fireworks again, Alex. In the eyes of a boy. His eyes are silvery gray and it shines so bright. Odd for a French boy, oui? And when I see him, my days are filled with hope.'
'He will help you escape,' came the reply of Alex and only Louis could hear him.
'No. I don't think he would. He is in love with another. And…and I think he only comes here to while away time whilst the revolution at its ugliest. I don't mean anything to him.'
There was silence, but Louis ploughed on.
'Alex, I don't know what to do anymore. I want to die. I would rather die. France is doomed. And my love for the one hope I have has proven to be my undoing. He speaks of her in affection, and here I sit…wondering if I could ever have his. But it is not to be. For whatever God they speak of does not exist. My cries fall on deaf ears, Alex. Alex. Alex. Alex. Take me with you!' he cried, 'I am tired. I have resigned myself to my doom. Even Simon's or Robespierre's beatings cannot get anything but a whimper out of me, anymore.'
Alex? Riel thought, Alex is dead.
Riel was wrenched from his thoughts when he heard Louis punching the brick walls. He quickly took the boy's wrist in his hand and pulled him away from the wall. Seeing his face streaming his tears, Riel pulled the boy into his arms. Louis clung to his shirt, sobbing and shaking. Riel hushed him and soothed him until Louis was just hiccupping and shaking slightly.
'Riel,' the hoarse voice of the young prince called.
'Hush now, Louis. You need rest. You are bruised and bloodied. Dirty and exhausted. You must sleep now.'
'Riel…I wish to see the fireworks once more.'
'I promise you Louis. I will give you freedom. I will not let you suffer anymore. You will see the fireworks again. And the beauty of the night in the fields of France. It will be alright, Louis. I promise.'
'Riel…I love you…'
Riel did not bat an eyelash. He knew. He knew the young boy had come to love him, and he too loved the boy. There was a better world out there, and he knew it. But he would drop it for a moment with Louis.
'I will show you, mon amour, fireworks that will light up the sky.'