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The two little girls came toward us dancing, darting, whirring, while making happy little humming noises. “They are being bumblebees,” Théodred murmured. “It is their new favorite game.” Their mother watched, smiling, from a doorway.
Théodred knelt to swoop them up into his arms, laughing as they covered his face with kisses, listening intently as they whispered in his ears. As he whispered back, one of them turned suddenly, reaching out her freckled arms to me. Without thinking, I took her.
She was warm and solid and smelled of sunshine, and Théo’s blue eyes smiled at me impishly from that flowerlike little face. I had never held a child before – the fathering of children being a duty I prefer not to consider – but at that moment I understood Theo’s delight and pride and love for his daughters.
Suddenly she leaned forward, brushing my cheek with her eyelashes. Butterfly kisses, I remember my mother calling them, and held the little girl tighter as the joy and pain of that memory swept over me. Only her low chuckling brought me back, and I softly kissed her forehead before setting her down beside her sister. Giggling, they twirled off.
“Bumblebees?” I asked. “Or butterflies?”
If Théo noticed the brightness of tears in my eyes, he never spoke of it.
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