Mrs de Winter: The ashes of Manderley

What happened after that terrible night at Manderley? Will Maxim and his wife ever live happily ever after?

This story will hopefully answer these questions.

NOTE: This story is mainly based on the movie version of Rebecca, but does feature a few events from the book.

(Also, the title Mrs de Winter, has no connection with the book of the same name, this fanfic is completely my own)

Chapter 1: The phoenix

I watched a terrible memory burn in a fiery blaze. I could feel the heat from the house burning the skin on my face.

The feeling was almost hypnotic; I could not look away as the flames danced about the house.

We were all silent as we watched the great Manderley burn away into the night.

I felt a guilty wave of relief stir up inside me. Manderley was Rebecca to me. A great, beautiful, shadow looming over me. She was always there. Watching me. I felt her. She was in the walls, in the dark corridors, her lingering, haunting presence taunting me. But now she was nothing, just a faint memory. A bad dream that we had all awoken from. Her memory could not be drowned, but it could be burnt, burnt so that only ashes would remain. Ashes that would fly away, through the air...and disappear.

Mrs. Danvers. I did not know what to feel. What a spiteful soul she was, cruel, and terribly ill. Consumed by her obsession. It killed her in the end. I hated her, yes, and the icy hostility that she treated me with...but for her to die...did she deserve that? I didn't know. She was there somewhere, in that house, burning. Oh, no, no. I shut my eyes trying to make the morbid thoughts and images disappear.

I felt my eyes become terribly dry from the heat. They began to water as I clutched tighter to Maxim's thick wooly coat. I could look no more as I buried my face in his chest.

Poor Maxim. He had endured so much lately, so much emotional hardship. I tried to comfort him through it, but I couldn't always reach him. When we would talk, sometimes he would trail off or become silent. Getting a particular look in his eyes. Going off to a far away place in his mind, a place where I could not always retrieve him from.

I felt guilty, feeling so relieved. Manderley was Maxim's family home. A home holding so many memories, good and bad. He had always loved Manderley, I could tell by the expression on his face whenever he spoke of it. But during Rebecca's reign of terror, the sweetness of Manderley turned sour. I turned my head and looked back at the house, glowing with all of it's angry colours. I could almost feel the ghosts of the past leaving, flying past us in a hot gust of wind. The house resembled a great demon, the windows ablaze like fiery eyes, and the great doors like a roaring mouth.

I looked up at Maxim's face, his mouth open. Still in disbelief of what was taking place. The expression in his eyes was a mixture of horror and confusion. I wrapped my arms around him and tightened my grip. He looked down at me, a single tear forming in his eye. He did not say anything. I looked him in his dark eyes and saw the fire's reflection dancing there. "The past is dead, it is time for happiness." I told him with my eyes. Something evil had been laid to rest. I pulled his head down toward me and held it, stroking his hair. Past words echoed in my mind. "In a few hours, you've grown so much older." Those words stung when I first heard them, but now it felt different. Maybe Rebecca helped me, in some small way. Perhaps she helped me to grow up, to mature. To shed the shy little child exterior, like a caterpillar breaking free of its cocoon. To leave it behind. When I first met Maxim, he always looked after me, protected me. But now we could equally protect and look after each other.

The firemen's hoses rained water on to the flames. The water seemed to be flowing forever, and soon the fire's brightness began to die. The light in our eyes and faces grew dark, soon only the pale blue light of the moon remained. The fire grew dim and soon flickered out. I looked back at the house, only a skeleton of it's former self. It's soul had escaped, leaving only a jagged shell. Half of the house was exposed, the roof was gone and the floors had burned away.

What would happen now? I wondered. What now for us? I began to think of the phoenix, I had always been fascinated with it as a child. My father used to tell me about the Greek myth. I imagined us, Maxim and I, as a phoenix which must rise from the ashes. Leaving behind the ruin, and nightmares, spreading our wings. Flying away, into a new day.

To Be Continued...