GOODBYE, BELOVED WIFE
Eroica followed Klaus into the Schloss, wondering just what he could possibly have in mind. In his current mental state, the German was capable of anything, including killing the Earl in some very painful ways with his bare hands.
"When was the last time you were here?" Klaus asked suddenly.
"Um…I don't remember. Before you were married, if that's what you're asking."
Klaus gave a nod and led the way down the main hall. He stopped, holding out a hand, indicating the door to the study.
Eroica frowned before hesitantly entering the room. He looked around, his eyebrows going up. The only change he could see to the room was a collection of photographs on one wall. The most prominent one was a wedding photograph, Klaus looking stern and handsome as ever next to the smiling Mercedes.
Eroica felt a pang of grief when he saw this. He had almost forgotten how her smile could light up her face. Surrounding this photo was a collection of photographs of Klaus, all of which Mercedes had e-mailed to the Earl at some point over the past five years.
He turned back to look at Klaus, seeing a pained look in his eyes before he snapped back to reality and turned. "Follow me."
Eroica felt it was best not to argue and obediently followed. He found himself being given a tour of the Schloss. All the rooms that Mercedes had mentioned in her e-mails. The last room was the nursery. He looked at the brightly decorated room and could just imagine Mercedes placing all the objects in it. His eyes fell on the enormous stuffed bear he had sent after her first miscarriage. He was actually surprised to see that Klaus had even allowed it to remain in the Schloss, let alone be placed in the nursery.
Klaus crossed to the bear and snatched it up, hurling across the room at the Earl. "Take that ridiculous monstrosity and get out."
"Colonel…" Eroica began hesitantly. "You're the one who brought me here." Then he considered the officer's mood, and decided that walking back to town might actually be healthier. As he picked up the object, there was a soft clatter and he looked down to see a CD on the floor.
"I'll have someone drive you back," Klaus snapped. "And I want you to take everything you've sent over the years with you."
Eroica picked up the CD and held it up. "I didn't include this with the bear."
"What is it?" Klaus asked impatiently.
"It looks like a DVD." Eroica turned it over, seeing Daddy Dorian written in black ink. His eyes grew wide and he turned it around for Klaus to see. "I think, perhaps, we should have a look at this."
Klaus took the disk and stared at it a moment before looking up. "There's a DVD player in the bedroom." He led the way, not even turning to see if the Earl was following.
Eroica dropped the bear and hesitantly followed, standing in the doorway as Klaus dropped the DVD into the tray. A moment later, the recording started.
The room on the screen was obviously the study, the image of the Man In Purple squarely on screen. A moment later, Mercedes took a seat in front of the camera. "Do you like the setting, my dearest Dorian?" she asked before taking a deep breath. "If you're watching this, I can only assume the worst has happened. I'm afraid I didn't tell you or our Klaus the full truth. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. You see, even though I look like an Amazon, I don't have the constitution of one. My doctor was concerned when I had my last miscarriage and told me not to try to get pregnant again."
She paused, closing her eyes and drawing another deep breath to steady herself. "How was I supposed I tell our Klaus that? He's so driven to live up to everyone's expectations, and that means producing an heir. His father will finally have something he can admit to being proud of, and that will make Klaus so happy. And you know I'll do anything to make him happy." Mercedes gave a bittersweet smile. "Thank you for all your wonderful advice over the years. You truly were my second husband, weren't you? I can see why Klaus loves you, even though he's too thickheaded to admit it. I hope I loved him adequately enough for you, you darling lunatic."
She sat back, a startled look coming to her face. She put a hand on her enlarged abdomen and smiled. "Little Peter is running the marathon again," she said. "Where was I? Oh, yes. Saying good-bye. Well, I guess I've said it all. And…Klaus, if you've stumbled across this before posting the 'ridiculous monstrosity of a bear' off to Dorian, I can only say that I'm sorry if learning the truth hurt you in any way. I only wanted to make you happy. Please, tell Peter his mother loved you, because…I did. Truly. You really are the most amazing man I've ever met."
Mercedes broke off, unable to go on. She gave a small sob and stood up. A moment later, the recording ended.
Eroica stood staring, tears welling up his eyes. He looked over at Klaus, seeing he was just as stony faced as ever. "Colonel, if you tell me you still can't forgive that lady—" He broke off when Klaus gave a small sob and sat down on the bed. Then the grief he had been fighting for weeks finally overwhelmed him and he broke down.
Eroica didn't even realize he had moved. Suddenly he found himself sitting at the German's side, himself in tears.
"What do I do now?" Klaus asked quietly.
"Oh, Klaus," Dorian sighed, taking him in his arms. To his shock, Klaus did not push him away. In fact, he simply allowed himself to be comforted. What do we do now?
Dorian opened his eyes and smiled. He wondered when he would stop thinking he was dreaming when he woke up to find Klaus beside him. The man was just so perfect. Everything Mercedes had told him and more, the little vixen. She'd never told him about the nursery rhyme. No wonder she could manipulate the man so easily.
Now it was his turn. It had taken time to get the thickheaded Prussian to finally admit to what Dorian and Mercedes had known all along. In fact, it had taken Dorian doing exactly what he had told Mercedes to do in the first place. Attack.
At first, Dorian was sure Klaus would kill him in one of several very nasty ways. He certainly threatened to enough times, but the Earl kept in mind what Mercedes had told him after she had taken his advice. "If I'd admitted to being afraid, the game would've been lost. You know him better than he realizes."
Dorian kept this thought in mind as he pressed on relentlessly. I know you better than you know yourself, Klaus. So he ignored the threats, the panic, the attempts at escape. When at last he had the man cornered, he went for broke and kissed him, full on the mouth, and the German finally crumbled.
Who's giving advice to whom now? Dorian thought later as he used every trick Mercedes had described to drive Klaus mad with pleasure for the first time. And again, and again. Christ, the man had stamina! She never mentioned that!
Klaus opened his eyes to see Dorian watching him. Not for the first time, he called him by the wrong name, not that Dorian minded. Mercedes had, after all, been acting in his place. She must've done an excellent job, for Klaus to mistake the two. Is that why you fell in love with her?
"The new headstone is being delivered today," Klaus said quietly.
Klaus nodded. "Are you coming?"
"You couldn't keep me away," Dorian replied.
"I didn't think so, but I thought I'd ask," Klaus said as he got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. "I'm going to shower and dress." He turned back. "Do you think you'll be fully conscious by the time I'm done?"
Dorian sprawled out on the bed and stretched. "Possibly."
"They're setting the stone at eleven. Try to look presentable, will you?"
"You can be so demanding in the morning. How ever did your wife put up with you?"
Klaus gave him a small smile. "She didn't. She ignored me."
Dorian laughed at this. I'll bet she did.
Unlike the day of the funeral, this day was clear, bright, and sunny. Spring was giving way to summer. Dorian glanced over at Klaus, seeing the same stony expression on his face as the existing headstone was removed and a new one was put into place. The German stood looking at it for several minutes, his face unreadable.
"She deserved better than the two us," Klaus said quietly.
Oh, no. Don't you get all reflective and melancholy on me. You don't know how to do it right. Dorian gave a small laugh. "Don't be absurd, my darling Klaus. She had two men in her life who adored her. What more could a woman want?"
Klaus gave him a sideways glance and then rolled his eyes. "You're still a narcissistic bastard, you know that?"
"That's why you love me."
"Bullshit. That's why I hate you." This was spoken without the German's usual vehemence.
An amused smile lit up Dorian's face and he stood watching Klaus for several minutes, wondering what was going on inside his head.
"I think she would've approved of that, don't you?" Klaus said finally.
Dorian looked at the oval-shaped stone. Etched into it, all around the inscription, were roses entwined in wire. He nodded. "I know she would." He turned back and smiled again. "It's ironic, don't you think?"
Klaus turned, giving the Earl a steady look. As he did so, he suddenly realized the black hole that had opened in him when Mercedes died had very quietly closed. "What?"
"That a woman should be the one to finally get us together."
Dorian chuckled and looked over at the headstone. You were right. It does mean I love you.
Mercedes von dem Eberbach
Beloved Wife of Klaus
Eroica Yori Ai O Komete © Yasuko Aoike and Princess Comics; no profit is being made from this fan production and no disrespect is intended to the original creators.