The noise from the party filtered through, up the staircase and the through the dumbwaiter chambers. Angeline moved slowly, the champaine effecting her only slightly, emotion effecting her more. Her eyes hurt with unshed tears; she had too much pride to let go of the pain and ruin her makeup.
The high-heels hurt her ankles, but she didn't notice anymore.
As she moved away from the grandstaircase towards a far wing of the Manor the noise of the aristocratic crowds lessened, and as she moved further she imagined that if she ran far enough it would never have happened.
But she knew it had.
There was a turn in the corridor and the decor changed; this far from the party they hadn't bothered much. Butler was standing outside the door.
"Is he asleep?"
Butler nodded once. "Yes. He was very curious about what was going on, though. You've got an intelligent boy on your hands, Ma'am."
Angeline smiled, and the tears that had never been shed retreated slightly, only changing into a different form of potentiality, tears of half-sadness, half-joy, whereas those from before had been the tears of betrayal.
"Of course, Ma'am." Butler stepped out of the way, presenting the door to Angeline. She opened it, peaking inside and sighing.
"He looks beautiful. Peaceful..."
"Two-year-olds generally don't have many worries. Worries are only learnt in later years."
Angeline bit her bottom lip and nodded.
"Do you want me to leave you alone with Master Artemis?"
Angeline started to nod yet again, then: "No, stay. Please stay. I need someone here."
"As you wish, Ma'am."
"Please, don't call me ma'am. You make me feel like an old woman and I start looking around for my mother-in-law. I've known you for years, Butler."
"Of course, Angeline."
"Don't you ever get sick of these fake worlds that we live in? Haven't you just wanted to tell your charges to fuck off sometimes, becuase they're arrogant, selffish bastards that don't know of the real world?"
"I've never told your son to fuck off."
"I'm sacred for him. I... I don't want him to learn from his father. I don't want him to become Timmy."
"He won't. I promise you that I will do anything in my power to make sure that Artemis grows up ... well. The real definition of well."
"Thank you, Butler." She turned to face him, finally closing the door into her son's bedroom sliently. "Thank you."
And then, disregarding the shoes and the dress and her place, the tears flowed, she hugged herself to a stiff-back Butler and cried into his shirt. Her eyes were swolen, red, when she pulled back and smoothed his rumpled suit.
She kissed him, the heels giving her almost enough height, and only then did he react. He pulled her away and held her at arms length.
She blushed. "I'm sorry, Butler, I'm sorry. I... Timmy's having an affair. He's fucking Lady deCohen in one of the guestrooms as we speak."
"You didn't marry for love. He didn't marry you for love. You know that."
Angeline nodded. "I know. But I... I'm sorry, Butler. You must think me an idiot now."
"You didn't mean to fall in love with him. And I'm sure you don't need forgiveness for love. Do you want to go back to the party?" She shook her head. "Sleep in my room, Angeline. It's interconnected to Artemis's. I'll stay up and make sure that no one comes looking for you."
"Thank you, Butler, thank you."