Summary: "I hated her without having known her. Now I know that hate had a cause." Mary finds James after the funeral. One-shot.
The drizzle pattering on the canopy of the umbrella, slowly started to die, and Mrs. Barrie, who was now simply Miss Mary Ansell again, lowered it, closing the umbrella. The rich black colour of her gloves contrasted deeply with the paleness of her hands.
She had not waited to see the casket be lowered, to see Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies one last time. Mary had not loved her in life, and death would change nothing. It was for the better, and Gilbert would be happy to see her if she returned early.
He had taken up the void in her life, and filled it. There was still a void in her heart, but with Sylvia's death, it was closing.
James did not belong there anymore. That night at the play had seemed to break the thread that held them together, even through divorce. She had let him go now. He was free, and she wanted that. Because then she could be free as well.
Why was she at the funeral of a woman unloved by her, a woman hated? A woman who had stolen from her home, any last chance of happiness?
And why, more pressingly, was she before James Barrie, who hadn't moved from the wooden bench and his umbrella, while Mrs. Davies's son took it upon himself to disappear?
Why had she said,
"There is something I need to tell you, if you're willing to listen."
"I know I've made my mistakes," said James slowly, the Scottish accent rippling in his voice, his dark eyes darker in sombreness, "but I want to repair them, too. So, yes ... I'm always going to be willing to listen. Won't you sit down?"
She shook her head. It came with sudden clarity, what a gallant man her husband was. The man who had been her husband.
"I'll only say this, and then I have to leave. It's about Mrs. ... it's about Sylvia."
He nodded gently, like he already knew.
She said, without qualms or hesitation or second thoughts which she did not need, "I hated her. I hated her without having even known her."
Her eyes were blue and sad in faded anger as she looked at him, and he returned her gaze, while his eyes told her he finally was starting to understand something about her.
"In my mind, I accused her ... of stealing what was never mine. I know that now. But then ... then I'd accused her of stealing you, stealing ... Neverland."
She laughed, or she started to, but then, her hand flew up and choked it.
He said slowly, heavily, "I don't think it was a childish thing to do, Mary ... I do think you're brave to tell me this today."
Yes ... yes, he was a gallant man. "Then, that night at the play? Do you remember me, James? Because I know you went to her house afterwards, and I knew that, and I thought that I was being selfish ... That I was the one who was stealing you ... I felt ashamed..."
"Of your hate?"
She nodded wordlessly, and he sighed, and tried to smile, and reaching out, took one of her hands in both of his. His touch was warm, and she'd not forgotten how happy the years of their marriage had been ... Even if they'd not found Neverland, it hadn't mattered.
But now ... did it?
"I don't blame you, Mary," and she looked at him in suppressed surprise. "I swear I think no less of you, if that was why you were afraid when you came here."
"That's very like you, James." She smiled, withdrawing her hand. She swept forward her skirts, and sat down beside him. "You're ready to forgive. Always were."
He said nothing. He tilted his head to look at her, and there was the perpetual half-frown, half-smile about his mouth, and then he cocked his head, looking back at the ground.
"I'm not like that, Mary ... you know that. There are always going to be some things that I'll never forgive. Things I can't even forget..."
"Myself. I've been the damnedest fool."
"I won't deny that." Then, softly, "You know, I hated her without having known her ... Now I know that hate had a cause ... She made you happy, when I couldn't."
The rain started to fall again. Lightly, pattering on the bench, pattering as it fell on them, his hand clutching hers.
—- End -—