When he was greeted only by the stillness of the house, he retreated to his room, and emerged when the shadows had grown rich and the lamps had begun to spark into life along the busy streets.
Fabien did not like to be alone for long, and at once sought out the company of his friend. Free from her chores, and if not, then pestered into abandoning them, the boy managed to persuade Colombe into passing some of the evening in his room.
The youth was evidently troubled, and his unusual quietness prompted the girl into suggesting they make use of the boy's playing cards. The games were played innocently enough at first, until the boy begged they play for winnings.
And so, in this moment they were arranged in a sprawl on the plush rug on the boy's floor. Colombe surrounded with her pile of treasures, an old pin, several buttons and selection of coins which had been in the room since the boy's arrival. And Fabien, empty handed and irritable.
"Ah, ç'est impossible! My luck is shot through. I have never lost so many rounds." He groaned despairingly, and began to gather together the cards. They were shuffled in a blur of red and white, moving with impossible speed between his agile fingers.
The boy caught the girl's eye, and noticing her interest in the practised flit of his fingers, he grinned.
"It is not so hard. The cards know where they want to be," he murmured, and allowed them to cascade from one palm to the other.
"Here, I can teach you a simple one. First, all is split in two, then they slot together, but only at corners here, like weaving. Then bend their spines, just a little, and let them flow."
The cards were separated and merged in a wing-like flutter, gliding liquid fast between his palms. When his little demonstration was complete, the urchin tapped the cards together and offered them to her with crooked smile.
"Now you try it."