Hello - this is my first attempt to write FF in chapters and in different point of views (Jane and Edward's), so far I've always done short stories... I hope you enjoy this one, is how I imagine could have ended Jane Eyre if the fire in Thornfield hadn't happened. Again excuse my english, I tried to do it as clean as possible. Constructive reviews are welcome, let me know if you are interested in more chapters :P
*** Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in Jane Eyre, everything is work of the wonderful Mrs, Brönte. ****
Chapter 1- an unexpected visit.
It was hours past dusk, the Moors looked peaceful, the only sounds audible being the fireplace with the woods cracking in the heat of the flames, and the teapot whistling in the back of the room. Everything seemed at ease, calmed. Everything but me.
It took a few minutes before I even realized the teapot was whistling, I was lost in my thoughts, more than usual. Trying to check and grade the simple math homework from my students was turning into an impossible task, I simply couldn't concentrate. I got up to take the kettle away from the fire and fix me a cup of tea and biscuits, my dinner for that day. I was utterly alone, after class was over, nobody else came to see me or visit, which was good given my peculiar mood that day. I wanted to be alone, but at the same time, I felt desperately alone.
That may sound illogical, but not to me. I wanted to be alone, except for the company of one person, one man, whose presence was impossible, and his company forbidden. I took my cup of tea and biscuits to the small table where I was trying to grade the math assignments. I took a sip of my cup, and began drowning in my thoughts again...
I couldn't understand how life had turned out, I was now a rather rich woman with my newly found rich uncle and his will, and better yet: my kinship to Mary, Diane and St. John. Oh St. John... How is it that a tall, fair, good looking and accomplished man asked me to be his wife? Why did he have to do it? We both know he feels nothing for me but sympathy, not the kind of love a man should feel for a woman. That love's owner is Rosamond Olivier, he knows it, I know it, and yet he proposed, just because he feels I would help him in his mission on Earth: being a soldier of God in far away lands. I said no, over and over again... My heart is not his, and his heart is not mine, I didn't think I could marry out of anything but love and passion... Maybe if he had asked before I met Edward I wouldn't have hesitated a minute, but after… Edward marked a "before" and an "after" in my life… Why did I accept his proposal? Am I really that desperate to get away from yesterday's memories? Or was I bored of rejecting him and accepted so he can leave me alone? Or perhaps, I simply felt God's call as well?
As I was sunk deep in regret for accepting his proposal, angst took over my being… I was to marry St. John; I gave him my word just a day ago… I was to sail away to another continent, holding hands with a man I didn't love, and I was to be his wife in every sense of the word, and "eventually love him" and have hopes that he may love me too someday. Then again, what's in England for me? What's left for me? This is exactly what I need to start again fresh, with a clean slate, away from all the pain and shame of the past…
But then reason was crushed by the heart… "Edward… my Edward, I wonder where you are… what are you doing right now.. How terrible must have been for you to find out I was gone the next morning.. how frantic you looked the night we parted! I'm sure you looked for me, for how long? I don't know, if you gave up quickly or you are still looking for me… Maybe he's forgotten me, thinking himself forsaken and abandoned by the woman who professed to love him despite our ranks and stations in life, who accepted to pass life by his side and be his "earthly companion". Maybe anger and bitterness made you go look comfort in the arms of another woman, one who didn't care about his situation, one who could offer him shelter in her body and peace in his mind. Oh God, how I wish I could see him, just one more time… Feel his arms around me, touch his thick hair, caress his cheek, feel the fabric of his coat, smell his perfume, kiss his lips….
With this last thought, a tear stained the paper with little Mary Simmon's math homework, the first one I began checking two hours ago… I involuntarily began sobbing, and dropped my head to the table supported by my arms, and began crying away… the force of my sobs shook me, and I kept crying and began whispering "Edward… oh Edward please come…"
As I said these words, somebody knocked my door. First 3 shy strokes, then 3 loud ones, as if to make sure somebody was home.
"I'm coming" was all I could muster in a broken voice. I got up, wiped my tears, arranged my skirt, pulled my hair and arranged my knot, trying to look as best as possible. My "betrothed" was to come visit me in the night, that must be him, and a crying bride is not a pretty sight for a groom.
I walked to the door, and as I opened it, a dream appeared.
I thought for sure I had lost my mind, that finally dreams and reality had mingled in my mind and now I couldn't discern true things from fiction. Edward Fairfax Rochester stood in my threshold, his mouth half opened as if to say something, his strong chest rising and falling with heavy breathing, his nostrils full, and his black eyes dilated, fixed relentlessly in my own.
Reality or dream? I didn't care, and reason had no space here. My heart once again took over, and before I could realize what I was doing, I was holding his face in my hand and kissing him as hard and best as I could.
For maybe 2 seconds, Mr. Rochester didn't move, he was frozen, his eyes wide open with the surprise of the welcoming I was giving him. By the third second, he didn't care either and he enveloped me in a strong embrace and took my lips in a searing, burning kiss that made my knees almost give up on my own weight.
We continued to kiss right there, in the threshold of my humble little cottage, my hands pulling his head closer to me, disheveling his black hair, while his arms pulled me closer to him, our hearts beating at the same furious pace, our mouths greedily tasting each other, our tongues exploring our mouths in a desperate, fervent manner, our heads moving from one side to another.
Then, a flash of lucidity stroke me, and a voice screamed inside my head "HE IS STILL MARIED!" With that alarm, I violently opened my eyes, gasped and put my hands in his chest, pushing him from me. Again, for a couple of seconds, Edward couldn't react and kept kissing me and caressing my back, then he opened his eyes and broke the kiss, gasping and panting, fixing his eyes in my own, as if his soul was looking at mine.
I stepped apart, and while I was regaining my composure and my senses, I could tell this was no dream, no madness had taken over me. This was the master of Thornfield Hall standing in front of me, nearly a year after I had left him crumbled in a sofa in his house.
For what seemed an eternity, none of us said a word. I felt extremely ashamed of what just happened, ashamed with him and especially with me. I was weak, I couldn't resist seeing him a second… We regained our breath, looked in each other eyes, and remained standing there, like two mesmerized spirits who couldn't break free from a spell.
"Jane…" he said, breaking the silence between us. Oh his voice… How I had missed it! But this wasn't the rough, almost hoarse normal voice of Mr. Rochester, this was the voice of a broken man, soaked with shame and remorse.
"Mr. Rochester" I replied courtly, calling him "Edward" now was out of the question.
Hearing him being called this way made him release a small chuckle, but a sad one, as if he realized nothing had changed since the last time we spoke.
He opened his mouth, then closed it again, as if he thought again of what he was about to say.
"Please come inside, you'll catch a cold if you stand there." was all I could think of saying, after all, Mr. Rochester is still a visitor and is not polite to leave a gentleman standing outside and have a conversation.
He replied with a simple "Thank you", and stepped inside. As I closed the door, I noticed he began to inspect the place from corner to corner, his hands held behind his back. Meanwhile, I walked towards my little table, picked up all the spread sheets of paper with the girl's assignments, pulled a chair and offered it to him. We sat in front of each other. "Would you like some tea and biscuits?" I asked him, and he accepted them, with a shy smile that almost made me jump right back into his arms.
As I placed the cup and some biscuits in his side of the table and sat down in front of him, I could only think how to explain what just happened. It was me who kissed him, he simply responded. My brain was racing, thinking what to say, and ineptly I could only say "I'm sorry for what just happened, I don't know what got in to me, but be sure Sir it won't happen again".
Edward then took my hands in his own, looked into my eyes and said softly "don't do that Jane, don't apologize… what just happened is exactly what must happen every day for the rest of our lives…"
I took my hands away from his, he didn't try to pin them or hold them tight, he let them slip away, but he did smile a sad kind of smile, and sighed as I did so.
"Sir, we had this conversation before, and I think it's very clear that whatever relationship we can have is impossible… I can't be anything to you, not a friend, not an employee, nothing… What we had was beautiful, it was magical, but it's over, you belong to another woman."
As Edward was about to reply, another knock on my door. St. John. He was supposed to come see me tonight. Oh God, what would he think if he find a man in the cottage at this hour of the night, and worse yet, if he realizes this is Mr. Rochester? I gasped as I realized, and Edward moved his head as if he'd try to understand what was happening.
"Mr. Rochester would you be so kind to wait in the schoolroom? Please, is no fitting for the schoolmistress to receive house calls from gentlemen at night."
Edward smiled, gallantly nodded, and left to the schoolroom, to wait whatever kind of meeting I was about to have.
As he hid in the shadows, I picked up Edward's cup and plate (I couldn't leave clues right there to give away my visitor's presence), and went to the door.
I opened, St. John didn't wait for an invitation, he simply stepped in, took of his cloak, hat, hanged them and sat right where Edward had just sat.
"Good evening Jane" he said cheefully, smiling and inviting me to sit too. This was another St. John, not the cold, distant man I knew. He was gleeful, I could almost say he was enchanted to see me. As I sat, he took my hand and kissed my knuckles. This took me by surprise, he had never done that, not ever, not even yesterday when I accepted his marriage proposal. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't take away my hand, for he was my betrothed now, and I couldn't stop thinking that Edward just witnessed that.
I simply smiled, a nervous kind of smile, and took my hand and placed them in my lap, to avoid another demonstration of affection from my future husband.
"How was your day? Let me tell you about mine, I received a letter from Captain James, the merchant, remember I told you and Mary about him? He said he'll be sailing to India in 2 weeks, enough time for us to make all arrangements necessary, marry and then be on our way, isn't it exciting? Do you see God's hand in this? Things couldn't go better!"
I again thought I had never seen him so lively and happy, he displayed a lovely wide smile, showing off his perfectly straight, white teeth, and his eyes had a strange sparkle that made the whole room glow, like two gorgeous sapphires. What a contrast from Edward, who seemed like a tormented ghost.
"Don't you think everything is going a little too fast? I mean, 2 weeks and be off from England for good… aren't things being rushed a little?" I shyly replied.
"Nonsense! I've been waiting for a ship to take me to India for months now, after I met you I've stalled my trip to see if I could convince you to come with me. I can tell you darling, you proved to be the hardest person I've ever had to convince in my life." His beautiful smile wouldn't leave his face, it was beginning to irritate me and at the same time, torture me.
Everything was being heard and seen by Edward, he must have heard St. John call me "darling".
Oh he heard it all right, I confirmed it by a startling sound, a sound that seemed like a punch to one of the planks on the wall by the far corner of the schoolroom. I heard it, and St. John heard it too.
"Did you hear that? Is someone else here?" Whispered he.
"Yes, I heard it. Rats, we have a bad rodent problem here, Miss Olivier generously offered me her gardener that will come next weekend to take care of the problem."
"Hmmmm" said he, and fixed his eyes on me. This simple fact made me nervous, is like I knew he could tell I was lying. I've never been a very good liar, I just couldn't let him discover Edward here, it would be disastrous.
The conversation and the tension to know my ex and current groom to-be were so close-by made my stomach turn into a knot and my spine produce chills that I couldn't control. I passed my hand to my head, and started to feel an anxiety attack coming. Heavy breathing, rapid blinking was telling St. John about my current state of mind and heart.
"Are you all right Jane? You look rather pale.." was his remark.
"I'm fine, I'm just tired… you wouldn't mind if we finished this conversation in the morning? I have a mountain of homework to grade and I hadn't even started" I replied, smiling nervously.
"Hmmm… all right… if you don't feel right, just tell me and I'll fetch the doctor right away… I can't have you fall ill days before our wedding"
- Wedding! Again that word! Please stop saying that! -
I chuckled and nodded. I walked him to the door, and without me realizing, he took my hand and kissed me in the lips. A small, swift, cold peck, but a kiss all the same.
"Good night dear" he said, as he put his hat and cloak on. Then he walked away.
I was terrified to turn around and face Edward. I supported myself on the door, and heard the floor planks creaking under weight. I turned around and there he was, standing, the "tormented" air gone and replaced by sheer fury. His eyes were two balls of fire, his mouth was twisted into something fearful, and his nostrils wide with the heavy and slow breathing he was having, his fist clenched and his chest rising.
A voice, an unrecognizable voice came out of him "Ah. I see how things stand now… I just wish you could have told me you were engaged to somebody before you kissed me like you did".
"I already apologized for my reaction earlier … and what did you expect me to say? Hello Mr. Rochester, I'm engaged!" – was all I could think as a reply.
He sneered at my reply, and came to me again, his eyes never leaving mine. He strode all the way to me and for a second I feared he would run over me, but he stopped one step away.
"I never imagined, that as I was searching for you like a madman, all over England, you had formed new ties and had a new suitor. I didn't think you could forget all we felt, all we lived in less than a year. But I guess it's useless now. At least I found you, you are alive and you seem well, that is good enough consolation for me. But you know what Jane? I'm going to tell you the same thing you told me when you thought I was going to marry Blanche Ingram: You don't love that man, you and I know that, and yet you will marry him. Marrying to someone inferior to you, how does that feel, tell me? And in your own words, that makes me better than you, because my love for you has been constant, never faltered, never weakened, never forgotten. I love you with the same force, the same fire, the same passion and the same tenderness I loved you a year ago, but you… You have chosen to forget that and live a new life in another Continent with a man you don't love. I've experienced your love, felt your passion, and what I just saw had none of that."
Those words of accusation had stabbed me right in the heart, and twisted the knife to leave me stunned. Somehow, I managed to reply, more agitated than I expected:
"What do you want from me Edward, huh?! Do you want me to give up on life, on company and turn my back on a chance for happiness for a man that has already a wife? I believe you keep forgetting over and over again the fact that YOU ARE A MARRIED MAN! It isn't fair to play the victim with me when we both know our love wasn't possible because you were the one with the impediment! If you hadn't had a wife, I would be yours right now, we would live together in whatever place you wanted, we would be happy. But you also seem to forget you deceived me! You lied to me Edward, you let me believe you were a free man, and you almost made me sin! What would have happened to me after the truth would have come out? I would be an outcast, a sinner in the eyes of God and men, you would have gone to jail and I would be a ruined person forever! So don't come to my house and pretend it was I who has betrayed our love, and don't lecture me on what is wrong and right. Yes I'm marrying St. John, he's a good, honest man, he cares for me and I care for him, and I do love him, not in the same way I loved you but saying I don't is not true! And yes, we are going to India to do God's work in a few weeks. There's nothing you can do Edward, even though a part of me will die when I leave England and all our past behind, I must carry on, I simply must."
Edward's eyes filled with tears. I had wounded him, I didn't want that, I never wanted that. I simply wanted to let him know it was him who had done harm, not me, I was trying to rebuild my life. With a swift movement, he grabbed my arms with his strong hands, almost hurting me.
"You say you love him, do you Jane? Do you love him?" he whispered.
"Stop" – I replied
"Tell me again you love him, and I will walk away and leave you be. Tell me Jane, do you love that man?"
"Sir you are hurting me"
-"TELL ME! DO YOU LOVE HIM OR NOT?!"
"WHAT DOES IT MATTER IF I LOVE HIM OR NOT? What good has love done me in the past? I loved you, with all my heart, with all my soul, and look how wretched that made me, made us both!"
"You don't love him! I knew it! Maybe you love him as a friend, as a brother, but not at as man, not the way you love me!"
With this, the last step that kept us apart evaporated, his lips took mine like a magnet, an incredible force drawing us together. I was hopeless. He pulled me closer and kissed me with all the passion he had, I was lost in a swirl of confusion. I loved Edward, I still did, with the same intensity, the same ferocity, it hadn't lost none of its beauty and shine. I knew that before he knocked on my door tonight, this was just a confirmation of what I already knew.
But I couldn't be his, I just couldn't. With all my mental and physical strength, I stepped apart and broke the kiss.
"Edward please… Stop hurting me and hurting yourself. I can't be yours while you are already somebody else's, even if you constantly choose to overlook that, or if you refuse to call that poor woman "wife". She is your wife, your companion for this life, unlike you, I do believe in the words "until death do us part". It's better if you leave, please… don't hurt me further, if the love you claim to feel for me is real and pure, please, let me be."
Edward smiled and lowered his head, I could tell he felt defeated. He reached for his inner coat's pocket, and drew out a folded piece of paper. He handed it to me.
"Here. This is why I came all the way here. Read it, when you feel like doing so. I will leave now. It's too late to ride back to Thornfield, so I'm staying in the town's Inn until tomorrow noon. Go look for me Jane if you still want me in your life, if you don't, I will depart and I promise you, this is the the last sight of me you'll ever have."
His voice was again low, sad and pounded. It took all my will not to grab his face and kiss him again, to see my beloved so battered was killing me.
With these last words, Edward Fairfax Rochester walked to the door and shut it behind me. He left my house, and I presumed, my life.
I couldn't help to begin crying again, loud and hard. I ran to my bed and threw myself there, kept crying and crying.
Why was life so cruel? Why would it show me what true love was like, only to snatch it from me? To let me taste de sweet wine of passion and true affection, and then never let me have a sip again? Why is it that at any stage of my life I could never find happiness? Orphan at a very young age, forsaken from my blood family, sent to an orphanage where cruelty was the day-to-day lesson to learn, I lost the only friend in the world I had, then found a man I thought was good but in reality our union was completely forbidden. Now that I had finally found some peace, some relatives, and a man I could learn to love in time, Edward walks into my life again like a hurricane, and leaves a huge trail of destruction behind.
All these events had tired me, and before I knew it, I was fast asleep in my cold, lonely bed, thinking of the man who had stolen my heart and never returned it.