DISCLAIMER: Yes, boring but obligatory. I don't own Chocolat the film nor the wonderful book by Joanne Harris. The closest I'll get to owning the book is the copy that sits on my desk now. I do however own the character of Theodore and any others that may appear along the way. I'll be sure to tell you who they are when they spring forth onto the page...or computer screen.
Author's Note: Now, this is a mix of the book and the film so don't kill me if the details aren't the same as in the film because some things were changed in the transition from page to screen. However, if I have any HUGE details wrong please tell me - it'll save embarassment for all involved. Enjoy! Reviews appreciated as always.
Squeaking Hinges, Ganache Peaks and Hasty Decisions.
The wind blew Anouk's flushed cheeks as she stared out onto the small village of Lasquenet-sout-Tannes. Young children ran through the streets with hula-hoops and different toys to keep them occupied for the long summer afternoon. Anouk could hear the soft sound of her mother downstairs creating various delicacies to place in the shop window, enticing the villagers to enter the warmth and comfort of the Chocolaterie.
Anouk, now being just shy of sixteen, had been in Lasquenet longer than she would have ever imagined. The Comte, once harsh and cynical toward her mother's small shop, had reformed his opinion and become and somewhat regular patron to the Chocolaterie, even staying for some time to speak to Vianne over a steaming cup of chocolat-chaud and a fresh batch of Mendiants.
After the inspiring sermon young Pere Henri had delivered but seven years ago, the young Pastor had relocated to another parish, perhaps because he never really fitted in with the village with his fondness for American music.
Joséphine had continued with her Café Armande and found business to be better than it had ever been during the summer with an array of colorful tourists and late nights. Anouk remembered when Joséphine had been looked at as an outcast, 'waltzing to her own tune' as one of the villagers had so tactfully put it, but now she was viewed with admiration. It was strange how people's opinions changed when they find out that someone has an abusive husband.
Once again, the soft sound of her mother working woke Anouk from her reverie. The soft and sweet smell of melting chocolate wafted from the kitchen into Anouk's room on the top level of the Patisserie. Anouk shut her eyes and savored the smell. The scent of chocolate always seemed to ease her mind.
Anouk heard her name being called from downstairs. Turning away from the open window, she sighed and quickly paced down the staircase and turned into the kitchen.
Vianne smiled at her daughter, her face dusted softly with brown cocoa powder. The sight of her mother at work always seemed to make Anouk smile. Vianne had her brown hair tied neatly behind her ears in a red headscarf, a few stray tendrils falling in front of her face as she tested her ganache.
'Yes, Maman?' Anouk inquired as she appeared at the door, walking further toward her mother.
'Anouk, darling,' Vianne began, looking up from her tray of ganache peaks. 'Could you please run down to Josephine and borrow some eggs? I seem to be running short.'
Anouk nodded briskly and quickly dipped her finger in the bowl of ganache, stealing a small amount and placing it in her mouth before her mother could protest. Vianne just shook her head playfully at her daughter and went back to her work.
Anouk jogged out of the kitchen a fetched her read cloak from the hook on the wall and draped it around her shoulders, walking to the door and opening it. The hinges still squeaked.
The hinges had been squeaking for some time. Roux had not returned as he had promised when he had last left them and he had never left Anouk's mind. Each time the wind changed she found herself subconsciously looking to the river for one of the riverboats to float by, but they never came. Her mother had been heartbroken when Roux had not returned. He was the one man who had offered her comfort when the whole town had been against her small shop. Roux had almost been a father figure toward Anouk, spending long afternoons playing with her and Pantoufle by the river, but those afternoons had faded as had Pantoufle and his bad leg.
As Anouk walked through the town she realised how much it had changed. Guillame Bleirot and his dog Charly had long since passed and now watched over the town from above. Anouk dodged an awry hula-hoop as it spun through the square. A young boy muttered a quiet apology and Anouk smiled kindly back at him, remembering the times when she had played down by the river with Luc Clairmont and his friends. They would spend the entire afternoon skipping rocks across the glassy surface of the Tannes. The thought caused Anouk to smile.
Before she knew it, Anouk had arrived outside Café Armande. She could see Josephine busily working behind the counter serving drinks to customers. Anouk opened the door and walked in, the scent of so many different types of liquor and coffee filled her nose with a comforting smell. As she walked up to the counter, Anouk caught Josephine's eye with a smile.
'Anouk,' Josephine said in greeting as she poured the crème on top of a cup of steaming coffee. 'How good it is to see you.'
Anouk smiled and once again savored the scent of the drink Josephine was preparing. Josephine passed the coffee to a thankful customer in return for four francs.
'What brings you here?' Josephine asked and she placed the money away. She turned back to Anouk and reached for another glass.
'Maman is running short on eggs. She was wondering if she could borrow some.' Anouk replied, pushing the hood of her red coat back from her face, allowing her hair to fall free.
'Ah.' Josephine bent down and rummaged through the cupboards below the counter. She resurfaced momentarily with a basket of what looked to be about two-dozen eggs.
'Thankyou.' Anouk replied and took the basket as Josephine turned back to another wanting customer.
Anouk slung the basket over her arm and walked briskly out of the café. Once home, Anouk opened the door and placed the eggs on the counter, hanging her red coat on the hook by the door.
'Anouk!' her mother called from in the kitchen. 'Did you bring me my eggs?'
'Yes, Maman.' Anouk called back as she picked up the eggs and made her way to her mother. 'Here they are.'
'Thankyou, Mon Cherie.' Vianne kissed her daughter's cheek and placed the eggs aside, still working on her ganache peaks, except now they actually looked like the nipples of Venus as oppose to lumps of unformed clay.
'Is there anything I can do?' Anouk inquired, admiring the chocolate from afar, her hands clenched firmly behind her back to stop herself from giving in to temptation.
Vianne looked up from her work once more, her hair falling in front of her eyes, looking out the door of the kitchen for a moment. 'I think I hear some people in the shop. Could you tend to them, please?'
Anouk obliged and hurried out of the kitchen and away from the temptation of the sweet chocolate. Anouk arrived behind the counter, and, true enough, there was someone there.
'Bonjour.' Anouk greeted the customer with a smile, but the smile went unnoticed because the patron had their back turned. 'May I help you?'
The customer turned around and faced Anouk. He was a young man, around the same age as Anouk herself. He smiled kindly and walked toward her. He wore a pair of black pants and what seemed to be a white dress shirt. He possessed a head of shoulder-length brown hair. The young man smiled at Anouk as he stopped at the counter.
He was young, perhaps around her own age. He was handsome for someone that young, if it was possible to be good-looking at the age of fifteen.
'Yes, actually.' He looked curiously at the various Mayan artifacts on the walls and the chocolate displayed in the glass cabinets. 'But first, what is your name?'
'Anouk.' Anouk smiled and opened her mouth to speak, but her words were drowned out as her mother began pounding cocoa. She let the noise pass and spoke. 'And what is yours?'
'Theodore.' Theodore brushed some hair from his eyes and looked around once more. 'What kind of shop is this?'
'It's a Chocolaterie, my mother and I have been here for years.' Anouk paused, gesturing to the array of chocolates around her. 'Can I interest you in anything?'
'Not at the moment.' Theodore replied, though he did look tempted to take some of the sweets before him. 'But you can help me with something.'
'Well, my parents and I have just moved here. Father is the new minister at the church, we are living in the Manse down by the Tannes. Anyway,' Theodore continued, sighing heavily 'mother sent me on an errand to find some milk, do you know where I can find some?'
'Oh, I didn't know we were in need of a new minister.' Anouk shrugged inwardly. 'Well, there is a small general store on the other side of the square. Do you know where Café Armande is?'
Theodore nodded and Anouk proceeded. 'Well, it's three shops down from there, next to the bakers, I think.'
Theodore smiled in gratitude and walked towards the door. 'Thankyou.' He replied. 'I'll be sure to come back for some chocolate later.'
'Maman.' Anouk said as she and her mother began preparing a chocolate cake. 'Why has Roux not come back to us?'
As soon as the question reached her mother's ears, Anouk wished she could snatch her words back up and place them into her mouth, but that was sadly not possible. Why had she even asked that question? She was thinking it, but was not sure what had caused her to think it. Alas, it was said and now she would await Vianne's answer.
'I am not sure, Anouk, I am not sure at all.' Sadness filled Vianne's eyes, but she continued to busy herself by whisking the chocolate mixture together. At this time it seemed not even chocolate could soothe the woes of Anouk's mother.
'He promised me.' Anouk's voice was laced with pain and grief. 'He promised me that when he came back to us he would take me on grand adventures. He promised that he would be there forever and never leave…why did he hurt us, Maman, why?'
'I don't know.' Vianne replied once more. 'I am holding onto the hope that he may come back to us one day, no matter how far away that day is.'
As much as Anouk wished for her mother's words to fill her with hope, they did not. Instead, they made her feel sad…she wished for the wind to blow and for the gypsy boats to float in on the Tannes. She wished for Roux and her mother to be reunited and above all she wished for Roux to take her on the adventures that he had promised her so many years ago.
'Roux!' the voice invaded the gypsy's dreams. The voice had been present each night for many, many months. Each time it grew stronger, more…real, as if someone was calling his name right next to him. 'Roux!' The voice once again called his name.
Roux shot up and rubbed his temples. Why did these night terrors haunt him so? Could they not find another person's dreams to invade? The answer of course was "No.". As much as Roux disliked the night-voice there was something comforting and familiar about the sound. He was sure he had heard the voice before, but where he did not know. For many moments the gypsy sat, trying his best to think of where he had heard that same sound, then it came to him.
He had thought of Vianne each and every day since he had left them five years ago. Vianne and Anouk had not left his mind at all. Roux felt endlessly guilty for leaving them the way he had. The only reason he had gone was because he had heard of a travelling fair in London full of wealthy opportunities for gypsies like himself. He had promised Vianne that he would return and stay with her, never to move again. But he had not fulfilled his promise and Vianne had most likely found another man to take his place. Alas, he was determined to find his way back to them- all he had to do was wait for the wind to come and take him on his way.
Perhaps he should leave tomorrow, or even the next day. Why had he not gone back to them in the first place? Why had he stayed in London so long? He was now settled, or as settled as a gypsy could be in one place. He had continued his wayfaring life, travelling around England, Ireland and Scotland. But the thing that shamed him the most was the fact that as much as he had thought about Vianne, she had not been the only woman on his mind.
Over the years of his travels, Roux had run into many women for nights between yellowing sheets. All of them had meant nothing to him, but he still felt ashamed that if he ever did see Vianne again he would indeed have to tell her of the women he had spent evenings with whether she asked about them or not.
That was it. Roux stood up and looked around the room he was in. He owned a new riverboat, but only used it for transportation rather than accommodation because it lacked the necessities for sleep and comfort, so Roux was now staying in a small Inn on the outskirts of Hastings. All he had to do was cross the channel and find his was to the Tannes and finally to Lasquenet and back to Vianne and Anouk.
But would they want him back? He doubted it. He had made a promise and broken it. If Roux were them he would not take himself back. Oh well, the only way to find out would be to go and if he was rejected so be it.
The gypsy looked around him and found someone next to him on the bed. He sighed. Roux had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he had forgotten the woman beside him. She sat up, her chest bare and her almost white-blonde locks tumbling over her shoulders. She looked at Roux and rubbed his back.
'Are you all right?' she asked, her voice was laced with a foreign accent. German perhaps? Roux was not sure.
Despite himself, Roux found that he was actually enjoying her hand on his back. He looked over at her, remembering her name. Lucky. He often never remembered their names. 'Yes, Ulla, I'm fine…just a little tired.'
'Aaah,' Ulla played a small smile on her lips. 'Did Ulla wear you out last night?'
Yes, it was definitely German. Her English was broken, but still understandable. Roux decided to play along with the game. 'Yes, Ulla did wear me out last night.' He replied, laying back down on the bed and closing his eyes.
Ulla stroked his bare chest and lay down beside him. Roux hated it when they did this. All he wanted to do was leave her and get on his riverboat and sail back to Lasquenet. He loved it there. The time he had spent on the Tannes had been extremely pleasant, despite the efforts of Reynaud to "Boycott Immorality". There was nothing immoral to Roux's way of life…well perhaps lying with nameless women was immoral, but other than that Roux was somewhere near having values.
Roux sat up once more, despite Ulla's objections and made his way to the end of the bed, picking up his crumpled clothes and placing them back on. He could not remember how they got there, but obviously in the heat of passion all clothes are forgotten.
'Where are you going?' Ulla inquired, she too sitting up.
Roux tossed Ulla her clothes and made for the door. He stopped and turned around to face the woman. 'It was lovely meeting you Ulla, but I really need to leave.'
He walked out of the door before she could protest. The inn was only small. Roux walked down the wooden staircase and left a few silver coins on the bar table for the price of the room. The barman thanked him with a smile and slight nod of the head and Roux continued out of the inn.
The inn was right on the water. Roux squinted against the sun and saw his riverboat. It would have to be his most prized possession above all things he owned, which was not an extreme amount of objects. The boat was small, but enough for just one person. It contained a mattress, sink and an antique wooden chest full of clothes and other mismatched belongings – each of them dear to his heart.
He knew in his heart that this was a more than hasty decision. He knew he would probably be slapped in the face as soon as he entered the door. Anouk, however old she was now, would never forgive him for leaving her and the town would probably cast suspicious eyes upon him once more.
Jumping onto the deck of the boat, he untied it from the old tree he had been using in place of a wharf. It was much cheaper than having to pay for the use of the dock and it was just as good. As he felt the wind brush past his now longer hair, her smiled and thought of the door he had long since fixed. He wondered if it still squeaked…
Authors Note: Yes, another one. Thanks for reading this far - however painful it was. Hope you enjoyed it. I would like atleast 4-5 reviews to post the next chapter. I don't want to keep going if no-one is going to read it.