"MONTSABOT CHARTERHOUSE" is a gay story, with some parts containing graphic scenes of sex between males. So, if in your land, religion, family, opinion and so on this is not good for you, it will be better not to read this story. But if you really want, or because YOU don't care, or because you think you really want to read it, please be my welcomed guest.

MONTSABOT CHARTERHOUSE by Andrej Koymasky © 2018
written on 29 June 2002
Translated by the Author
English text kindly revised by Brian

Being able to be together again, being able to tell each other their love not just through letters, but with all of their bodies, was making less burdensome and less terrible for the two lovers the conditions of that exhausting war. When death flutters all around, mournful but undisputed mistress, the best antidote to fear is only love.

After each battle, be its result going forward for a few kilometres or withdrawing to defensive positions, being able to devote themselves totally to the beloved one, even if for too brief periods and in conditions all but agreeable, was for them the way to not lose hope, to still believe in the future, to acquire new strength in their hearts.

One evening, during a truce a little longer than the others, while they were in each other's strong arms, Hervé said, "I don't know if I was right to get married, do you know?"

"Why do you say so, my love? Aren't you happy? Madeleine is delightful, you have three wonderful children... don't you have all you desired?"

"Yes and no. Yes, I desired to have a family, that's true, and I got a really great and beautiful family. I love Madeleine, and she deserves my love. I'm proud of my children, and love them, and I regret I had to leave the newborn twins, so that I cannot enjoy their first years, I can't see them grow up, help them to grow... But you are and remain my first and biggest love. Wouldn't it have been better if I renounced all that, in order to stay with you?"

"At times life imposes on us some choices... and going back and un-doing those choices is not always easy to do. But looking at the past and regretting it is useless. Let's look at the present, my love - we are again together..."

"But one day this horrible war will be over and then... then we will again be separated."

"Of course, as your first duty now is towards your family. You anyway love Madeleine, you cannot simply renounce her... and even less your children... If you didn't love her, if you didn't have three adorable sons, you would probably have the possibility to make a different choice. But now... I am the first who wouldn't accept it. I can't desire my happiness at the price of that of four other people, innocent and good people..."

"You are right, but... but so the only one to lose is you."

"Not for the moment, I have you here, in my arms. And anyway, when one makes a choice for love, he never loses anything. I love you and as a reflex I love your family, believe me. Your and their happiness is for me really important."

"At the price of your own happiness?"

"No, because I could not be happy if I had to harm them... and you with them."

"You are too good, Roland..."

"Nobody is ever too good, my love. One can just try to be a good chap, try to be honest. Is it not you who taught me these things?"

They kissed and restarted making love, with tenderness and virile vigour.

The second army, of which they were part, consolidated a bridgehead between Amiens and Péronne, where was also the second army of the Germans. In mid-1916 the centre of the battle between the German troops and the French and English alliance moved towards Verdun, but then moved along the Somme river and the artillery sustained the main part of the battle, even though aviation started to make its presence felt.

A hundred thousand men died, mainly in the Anglo-French side that lost two men for each man lost by the Germans - in all more than eight hundred thousand men were dead. New recruits were coming to fill, at least in part, the gaps and the average age of the new soldiers was rapidly lowering - at that point at the front there were seventeen years old boys, and even a few just sixteen.

Then in 1917 the French would seize again Mort-Homme, near Verdun, and in the battle of Malmaison they succeeded in putting an end to the war of attrition at the Chemin des Dames. In this second battle the quantity of artillery and of mechanic transport used by the French army to give some respite to the infantry, which was much too worn out, reached the highest figures of the whole war.

On November 20th, the French attacked Cambrai and in just ten hours the French troops advanced for ten kilometres. But on the 23rd the German troops' counteroffensive cancelled the French conquests almost totally, also because the English infantry wasn't able to give the hoped for help.

So Roland's company had to hurriedly retreat and along their retreat many of his men were killed. They had just consolidated a bridgehead on a point more easily held, and Hervé was checking the men's placing the weapons and the ammunitions, when from the German lines came an attempt to attack. It was a short-lived attempt, immediately repelled by Roland's men.

But a German gun-machine burst reached a group of men assigned to a field gun, and amongst them there was also Hervé. Roland saw them fall before his eyes, one after the other in a fast sequence, like dislocated puppets to which the strings have been cut. And he saw also his Hervé fall.

Careless of the danger, without thinking of anything else, he ran headlong to the spot. He found Hervé body - he was lying on his back, a leg folded under his body, an arm spread outwards and the other on his head, and a line of black holes rimmed in red traced with a geometric precision and crossing his chest... and the red of the rims was slowly spreading. Hervé's eyes were open and had an expression of deep astonishment.

He was still breathing. Roland bent to him, then sat on the ground beside of his head and called to him in a low voice, having almost difficulty to utter the words.

"Hervé... Hervé..."

The eyes of the wounded man turned towards him and his lips tried to smile, "They... have... got me... the bast... bastards..." he murmured.

"It's just a wound. I'll go to call the nurse... don't move..."

"No... wait... don't go... it's useless a nurse, let him care for who really needs him. Stay here... don't leave me... not now..."

"What are you saying? You too can come out of this, my love!"

"Shush! Don't let them hear you call me so... I know, I feel it, unhappily I'm going away. Unhappily for you, for my family... but at least... so... I don't have to... make a choice."

"Shut up, don't waste your energies. I go to call..."

"No!" Hervé said with such a force that Roland stopped himself. "No..." Hervé repeated with sweetness. "Don't leave me alone in this moment. Put my head on your lap... I want to go in this way, in your embrace..."

"No..." Roland almost moaned, "you will not go... you should not leave me... you can't leave me... No, Hervé, I pray of you..."

"It's not to me you have to ask, I would stay, of course I would. You have to pray to Madam Death, but unhappily she is deaf, she doesn't listen to our prayers. Stay here... I want to go with your smile in my eyes, with your voice in my heart..."

"No, Hervé... no..."

"I loved you above all things, more than my life... you have to believe me..."

"Of course I believe you..."

"And now... now at last... I will be with you night and day... only my soul, it's true, but it will always be with you."

"Why are you going on talking about... going away?" Roland asked, his voice choked and trembling.

He tried to push back his tears, but he could feel that it was a battle he was going to lose soon.

"Because I know it's so... Roland?"

"Tell me..."

"My life gave me very much... gave me you..."

"But now..." Roland started to say but was unable to add more.

"Love..." Hervé whispered with a hint of voice.

Roland saw that his beloved's eyes were staring in the emptiness, his half-open lips weren't moving any more, Hervé's hand that Roland was holding between his hands became suddenly heavy.

"Hervé?" he called in a low voice. "Hervé?" he repeated feeling a steel vice gripping his heart. "Hervé..." he murmured and finally his tears dripped down and fell on the beautiful face of his beloved man, like the first drops of Autumn rain, sprayed the lifeless face of his lover, who had ceased to live.

He cuddled his body that was leaning with the shoulders against his lap, rocking back and forth, going on to silently cry, to call him, and to yell the beloved name inside his heart, gently caressing the back of his lifeless hand.

The exact year of war that followed saw Roland engaged in the battles with fierce determination. Two urgent and violent sentiments were pushing him - the desire that the absurd massacre came to an end, and a desire of revenge for the death of the man he loved. And if before, the death of any of his men saddened him, now it devastated him, because in those poor boys that were falling like flies, he saw the face of his beloved Hervé.

Finally in November 1918 peace was signed. Roland was discharged with two medals for valour, wore again civilian clothes and went home. But before going back to the villa where his father was waiting for him, he wanted to go to Tours. He bought an old car and went there, taking with him a bag with the few belongings of Hervé.

The headquarters had already informed Madeleine about her husband's death. When she saw Roland, she embraced him and both cried.

"You were there, when he died?" the woman asked him.

"Yes... he died... in my arms."

"Ah. I'm glad. At least he died happy, didn't he? I know how much he loved you."

"Yes... he was my dearest friend." Roland answered.

"Yes, of course... he always talked about you... and after I was informed he was dead... tidying his things... you know how it is, as I had to decide what to keep for me and our sons and what not... I also found all your letters... He kept them divided by year... I read them... and understood how much you loved each other... I know that to you too it has been a terrible loss... hasn't it?"

"Yes, it has been so... terrible. I would have given my life to keep him here with us... to give him back to you alive... I swear, I would have given my life... but it was not possible..."

"Before leaving for the war... he never told me about you two, about your love... but he did always talk about you, do you know? You met when you were still boys... He loved you, even before meeting me..."

"But also he always talked to me about you and your children... And he really loved you... He chose you, not me... Because you, beyond love, gave him a family, while I could not..."

"Yes, I know, I understood it... Hervè had a big heart, he was able to love, he was able to love two people in the same way... he was able to be in love with you and with me... I understand that. And I also understood the intensity of your love through your letters... Now I would like to be able to also read the letters he sent to you... You still keep them, I think."

"Yes, of course... and I will bring them to you to read. You are really nice to have accepted the fact that he... that he loved me too."

"As much as you have been nice to leave him to us, without any attempt to take him for yourself... You have not been at all selfish, on the contrary... I should say you have been really generous."

"Because I loved him and the only thing I cared about was his happiness. I hope, or rather I know, that I was his happiness before he met you, but I know that afterwards his happiness were you and your children... Then..."

"And... you again were his happiness in those years of war... at least we have the relief that he was never alone."

"Hervè was an incredibly good and honest man."

"Yes, he really was. Thank you for having come here to see us, to bring us his belongings... Will you stay in touch with us?"

"I promise, Madeleine. How are the children?"

"Serge suffered very much, as he is already able to understand. He was incredibly close to his father. Michel and Jean-Marie are still so young... they were just born when Hervé had to leave for the war... They cannot even remember him, unhappily... and he cannot see them grow up, unhappily."

"You will tell them of their dad, you will show them his pictures... they will love him through your love. And he will follow and protect you all from up there, I am more than sure of this."

"Yes, you are right."

Roland stayed at Hervé's house for a few days. And so he gradually became aware that his lover's family was going to meet a hard, difficult period, without Hervé's economic support. Moreover he came to know that Madeleine's father also died in the war, and that when she was called to receive the inheritance, it turned out that the man was covered in debt, so that it was better for Madeleine to renounce to all the inheritance.

Roland finally went back home, to his father, thinking he had to take care of his lover's family, he couldn't leave them in need. Madeleine hinted she was looking for a work as a housemaid, in order to support her family. Roland didn't tell her anything, but was determined to do his best for them.

Roland's father welcomed his son home as a hero. He was proud of his two medals for valour, a gold and a silver one that his son received. About him, war allowed him to become remarkably richer. He was already a rich industrialist before the war, but now his capital was five times bigger and he was very proud of that.

Roland, on the contrary, was not so proud, because if on one side it was true that they won the war also thanks to the war industries of his father, on the other side he could not avoid being aware that his father built death machines, thanks to which who knows how many thousands of men lost their lives, who knows how many families were destroyed and reduced to misery like that of Hervé...

Roland's father, after the first days, having reinserted his son in his industries, was reconverting his industries to a civil production, and started to insist to his son that he had to marry. Roland tried to avoid the subject, but his father seemed to become more and more insistent.

Then Roland remembered he promised Madeleine to bring her all the letters he received from Hervé, to let her read them. So he took all of them and informed his father he was going to see the widow of his late tutor and spend Christmas with her family. His father didn't have any objection - very likely he was rather happy, as he could spend those days with his mistress, about whom Roland had an inkling in spite of the fact that his father believed he succeeded in keeping her existence a secret.

He took his new car, a beautiful light blue cabriolet, went downtown to buy presents for Madeleine and the children, and drove to Tours. Madeleine didn't have a telephone and it was too late to send her a letter, but he thought he would certainly find them at home, and anyway it was worth making an attempt.

As he reached Tours, he went to knock at Madeleine's door. Little Serge, who was then eleven years old, came to open the door.

"Hi, Serge, is mum at home?"

"You are dad's friend, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am Roland. Do you remember me?"

"You came just one month ago... of course I remember you."

"So, then, is mum at home?"

"No, she is at work. But she will be back for lunch, she said. Do you want to come in?"

"If you let me in, I'll be glad. But do you trust me? You don't know me..."

"You are a friend of my dad, therefore of course I trust you. Come in. Mum told me a lot about you, don't you know? She says you are a good man..."

"And your dad very often told me about you. He loved you very much, he was proud of you, my little one."

The child smiled and did the honours of the house like a real little man. The twins were playing games in the living room.

"Serge, where is mum's piano?" Roland asked noticing it was no more at its place.

"She sold it, we were short of money..." the child answered serenely. Then asked, "Does that beautiful car parked here in front belong to you?"

"Yes, it's mine."

"How wonderful! Would you please take me for a ride in it, if mum lets me?"

"More than willingly, Serge."

Finally Madeleine was back. She was really happy to see Roland and at once asked him if he could stay for some days. Then the young man gave her the bulky sheaf with all the letters he received from Hervé.

"I promised you to let you read them... here are all his letters..."

"Thank you! You are really kind to allow me to read them..."

"I owed this to you, don't you think?"

"No, you didn't owe it to me... and this makes your gesture even more generous."

Madeleine decided to start to read the letters in the evening, in Roland's presence, after she put the children to bed. They were sitting in the living room, Madeleine at the table, under the lamp, with the sheaf of letters in front of her. Roland was sitting in the old armchair near the fireplace, and looked at her engrossed in the reading...

"He talks rather often about me..." at one point the woman murmured.

"Of course, he really loved you..." Roland commented with a tender smile.

"But he was deeply in love with you too..." the woman said in a soft tone.

"It's true. Do you know... it was not sex that pushed us into each other's arms, it was love, that made us desire to show it also with our bodies... can you understand me?"

"Yes, Roland, I can, because it has been the same also between him and me... exactly the same. You have been his first and only man, I think, as I have been his first and only woman..."

"You... you never were jealous of me?" after a while Madeleine asked him, almost in a whisper.

"No, never... I felt just some envy the day of your marriage... there in the cathedral... as I would have liked to be able to say to him that same yes..."

Madeleine smiled, "I think I can understand you. But even without the rite... your love was beautiful, wasn't it?"

"It surely was... But at least you two were allowed to live it in the sun light, not hiding as we were forced to do..."

"That's true... It must have been hard, I think."

"At times it was hard. But, you know... man adapts to all situations... and the one who has wider shoulders, has to bear the heavier weights. Who doesn't have wide shoulders, is crushed..."

Christmas day came. Roland took her out to do some shopping on him. Madeleine prepared a good meal. Then Roland gave them the presents.

"I didn't prepare any present for you..." Madeleine said, a little embarrassed.

"My wonderful Christmas present is being here with you all..." the young man answered with a gentle smile.

The day after Christmas, in the evening Roland asked Madeleine, "Even though just a year has passed... don't you think you should marry again? For yourself, who are still so young, and for the children, that could benefit from having a father..."

Madeleine smiled, "No... I don't intend at all to marry again. I feel good as I am..."

"But also for the money... I noticed that... that you are not in a very good situation, without a sure salary..."

"I will find more hours of work... we will go to live in a smaller apartment... we will get along..."

"But then you will have less time to spend with the children..."

"Yes, that's true, and this is the only difficult thing for me..."

"Madeleine... I don't know if... how to tell you, but... I would like to help you in some way... because of the love I had for Hervé and that therefore I have also for you all..."

"You are dear..."

"No, let me say all I have to say... You see, I cannot offer you... I cannot offer you what Hervé was able to give you... or what possibly also another man can give you... but... but if you accepted to... to become my wife... at least under the law, you understand, not... not in bed, as I'm afraid I would not be able to... but so at least you would have a friend at your side and support... and the children could have in me a... a surrogate of their father... I swear I will do my best... And if one day you... you fell in love with a man, I would leave you totally free... But at least up to that day, you all will not be alone and would have a serene and proper life..."

"Oh, Roland!"

"I'm not asking you to give me an answer at once... but think about it, please. I would really do it, for Hervé, for you, for the children... If you like better, I can just send you a monthly allowance, I would do it, I will do it if you want... but I would like much more to be allowed to give you all my affection, besides a concrete help... And so you wouldn't need to work and can bring up your sons... and if you let me, I can help you to bring them up..."

"Oh, Roland!" the young woman repeated, moved, and started to silently cry.

"Did I offend you? Don't cry, please, I didn't want to..."

"Offend me? No, not at all! On the contrary... You are so sweet, so tender, so good..."

"I would like to be able to offer you even more..."

"And what more? It's incredible, what you are offering me is so very much..."

"I would like to be able to offer you also... also a man with whom you can make love..."

"I already told you that I would refuse a man for that, I don't feel the need of that, I don't want it. But... but you are offering me much more than financial help, you are offering me your friendship and your affection... And I really feel the need of that... How could I refuse such a wonderful offer? After the death of my father and my husband I felt alone and lonely, and only my children gave me a reason to live. But you are offering me to be alone no more, no longer lonely... How could I refuse your offer?"

"If you want to consider it more... We're not in a hurry..."

"Yes, all right, I will consider it more, but I already know that my answer will be a yes. I have only to talk about that with Serge. He is old enough, I think it would not be fair to impose my choice on him. I will talk with him tomorrow, is that all right? And when I understand what he really desires, I will give you my answer."

"Whichever your answer will be, be sure anyway that you can always count on my friendship and on my help..."

"I know, thank you, I have no doubt about it. Yes... Hervé was right to be in love with you..."

"When I first met him... I think I was odious towards him... He changed me, do you know?"

"I have no difficulty believing you. It was impossible not to love him, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was really impossible." Roland sweetly answered.

The day after Roland left Madeleine alone with Serge and, pushing the pram, took Michel and Jean-Marie out for a walk, after he carefully wrapped them up.

A passerby, thinking he was a father taking his children out for a walk, looked at them with a tender smile. Roland became aware of that and he too smiled inside himself, and hoped that Madeleine accepted his proposal. And he understood his Hervé's desire to have a family...

When he went back home, while Madeleine was taking care of the twins, Serge drew near Roland. He looked up at him from below.

"Roland, would you really like to become our father?"

"If you desire it, and if your mum agrees, I would."

"I know you just a little, but I like you."

"And would you accept me as your dad?" Roland asked him with a hint of hope in his voice.

"I think I would. Because you loved my dad, didn't you?"

"Of course I did."

"So, then, you would love us too, right?"

"That's certain!"

"And would we have to come to live at your place?"

"Well... yes. Would you regret leaving Tours?"

"Not so much. Is your house beautiful?"

"It's really large, there is also a garden and a park with a lot of trees..."

"Good. Even though, after all that is not so important."

"So, then? Do you want me as your dad?"

"I already told you yes..."

"And your mum? Do you think she too will accept?"

"Oh, I really think she will... but ask her."

"Would you give me a kiss?" Roland asked crouching in front of him and opening his arms.

"Sure!" the child said, flew to his neck and planted a wet kiss on the tip of his nose, then smiled at him, and brushed the tip of his little nose against that of the young man.

So Madeleine accepted. Roland went back home and informed his father that he was going to marry Hervé's widow and adopt her three children. His father at first seemed not really happy, but before his son's determination, at the end gave his assent.

So, in February 1919, after all the needed preparations, Roland married Madeleine and adopted her three sons, who therefore added to their family name that of Roland, becoming so Laforest-Brout. And all of them moved into the beautiful villa of Roland's father, where each of them had his own room.


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