Disclaimer: I do not own The Count of Monte Cristo, the characters, or any of the locations thereof. It all belongs to the Dumas family and Touchetone Studios (lucky ducks).
This is a movieverse one-shot concerning what was going through the mind of Mercedes after Albert's birthday, after her encounter with the Count of Monte Cristo. Feel free to read and review, and enjoy!
As I stare at this hand, at my ring finger, the moonlight falls across the string laced around it. It is my engagement ring, signifying my undying love for Edmond Dantès.
My Edmond, oh my Edmond…
He was a man in love with life, with his happiness, and with me. I know this to be true; I know he loved me dearly. The love reflected in his eyes, in his smile, I could practically feel it pass from him to me in an instant. I would always return it threefold. His beautiful eyes, his dark hair which he would absentmindedly twirl, everything about him was wonderful. Then came the horrible day in which he was taken from my life.
The day before that had started well enough, the Pharaon had return to port in Marseilles, and I ran to the docks to be with my love who was disembarking from the ship. Yet before I could be with him, he disappeared into Monsieur Morrel's offices, and Fernand was dragging me down to the rock. The rock was our special hideaway when we were children, for the three of us, but it also became the rendezvous point when mine and Edmond's love.
"Make love to me."
Fernand's words were truly appalling. He had been a dear friend for years, but as Edmond fell for me and me for him, he started to grow jealous of our joy. I could tell from the gleam in his eye, in his envious stomp as he would often leave Edmond and I behind for a drink in the town's taverns. He was the son of a count, and yet was the poorest of us all. He had the title of nobility and yet he had not the character. Quite detestable, really.
I had refused, of course. I reminded him of the time when we were children and Fernand had received a lovely pony for his birthday. Even though he had the pony, he became jealous and obsessive over Edmond's birthday gift, which was a whistle.
"I'm not going to be your next whistle."
I scoff at myself now. I became that whistle, and now I am bound to him forever, even though he has obviously tired of me. But enough of our doomed marriage, I will turn back to my only love…
Edmond came to me soon after Fernand expressed his lustful desire to me. Running to him, my dearest caught me in his arms and kissed me deeply. He whispered that he was now captain of the Pharaon, and then he shouted it to his best friend. Fernand nodded his congratulations, and then said as much. Leaving, he had said a phrase he and Edmond often passed to each other, signifying that one or the other had the victory of the moment.
"Kings to you, Edmond."
"…You're still the best man, Fernand."
Dragging my beloved off, we spent the happiest afternoon, the most perfect night of our lives out on the beach. We swam together, shared conversation and a lovely meal, and then…I gave him all of my love. I gave him myself, and I was given him in return. As we rested before a fire he built himself, Edmond started to twirl his hair once more. Laughing, I bid him stop lest he go bald. He smiled, and continued conversing for a time. We promised that we had kept no secrets from one another, and Edmond murmured that as soon as he had the money to buy the ring, we would be married.
"I don't need a ring."
I pulled at a string that was part of the fringe of my shawl, and it snapped off. Drawing it around my finger, it became the ring that would show one and all I was to be the wife of Edmond Dantès.
"And it will never leave my finger. I promise."
And it never has. Even with all the rings and jewels and gold Fernand has showered upon me, this is the only ring I shall ever wear. Only Edmond's ring for me.
He was taken from me the next night, accused of conspiracy and intrigue. He was accused of being a Bonapartist. My life spiraled; I could not focus on the smallest detail. All I could do was rest on my friend Fernand and beg the magistrate at the time, Villefort, to set him free. From his lips he uttered the charges, including one for murder, which I never have and never will believe. Doubtless that no one else believed it, either. Nothing could be done, and only Fernand stayed behind that day to help set his friend free. At the time, I believe everything was put into perspective for him, especially since Edmond was caught on his chateau grounds, trying to escape. Fernand returned to me, and dejectedly announced that he did all he could, and it was all in vain.
Three weeks later a letter arrived, courtesy of Monsieur Villefort. He reported that my Edmond had died in prison, executed for crimes I know he never committed. A week prior to receiving that letter I had discovered a horrible truth: I was with child. As happy as I was that some part of Edmond would survive with me, I was absolutely terrified. What was I to do? Fernand appeared out my window at that moment, beckoned me outside, and I went to him. To save Edmond's child, I would marry Fernand.
I have been married to Fernand for sixteen years, and have loved him not at all in that time. As of late, we've been estranged. He has been visiting the beds of other ladies and I have turned him away from mine for fear of infection. Only fourteen years ago was I made a countess, my husband's family all passed away to leave him his title. My son, Albert, was made a Viscount.
Oh Albert, you have your entire father in you. Headstrong, honorable, handsome…Fate has smiled upon you, my son. You are truly my Edmond reborn, like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of death and destitution. There was a part of him to hold onto in you, and no mother could truly love her son more than I. But how stubborn you are now!
"You cannot go to Rome unchaperoned, you're only fifteen!"
"I'm almost sixteen! Father, please let me go, as a birthday present?"
"No," I interjected.
"Yes," Fernand answered. "I could do with some peace and quiet around here."
Off he went on his Roman holiday, and I worried over him. One night, be it mother's intuition or what have you, I knew he was in danger. Weeping, I felt that he would not be saved. I felt as though I was losing Edmond all over again. Thanks be to God I was proven wrong when he returned the following week. Telling his tales, he came to his story of adventure, as he called it. Kidnapped by robbers, he bravely endured his terror and spoke down to the wretched creatures. As they prepared to take off his finger to confirm a ransom from his family, a mysterious man darted in from the shadows. Fighting off the bandits, he commanded they let my son go. The man's name, he told me, was the Count of Monte Cristo, and that he would personally come to Albert's sixteenth birthday so we would bestow our thanks onto him.
"It was truly an adventure, Mother."
"Everything's an adventure when you're young."
"That's what the Count said."
This Count of Monte Cristo, I mistook him for the man I once and still love almost immediately. His eyes, his face, even when obscured by a beard, still looked like Edmond. He had walked in and greeted my husband first, who bade come over. So shocked was I that I did not immediately respond. When I finally ambled over to the Count, I could not take my eyes off his face, and my practiced words of gratitude came out of me mechanically, almost in monotone.
"You would have to be a mother to appreciate the service you've done for me and my son. I thank you."
"It was nothing, I assure you."
It was his voice; it was Edmond's voice coming from that man. It was all surreal; I vaguely recall his requesting a dance with me from Fernand, and Fernand's consent. As I waltzed with him, I stared unabashed. He stared back for a moment, asking me what was on my mind. I confessed I felt I knew him, from long ago, that he seemed to be a man I had cared for and died. With a small chuckle in his voice he replied that he couldn't possibly be that man. The living proof was there before my eyes. He withdrew, his eyes never leaving mine.
Shaken on the inside, I bounded off to make final preparations for the dinner, situating a place card here and there. Clutching at the stem of my champagne glass, I searched for Fernand. He was departing to the roof, most likely to make a business deal. Losing my temper I told him that he must stay and make a toast to his son.
"Albert expects it. You know how he admires you."
"Then he'll forgive me of my absence."
And as always, pushed Albert to the back of his mind and left me behind to do the deed. I could hardly look at my son as we were seated for dinner. Standing to give an apology and a prepared speech to the guests and my dear Albert, the Count of Monte Cristo, somehow sensing the unsavory deed I had to do, stood. He spoke of my son's merits, his abilities, and alluded to a bright future in store for him. Never had a speech been so eloquently given to cover up the failings of a father. Yes, a surrogate father, but he does not know that. Neither of them know, husband or son.
As he sat down, I bowed my head to the Count, unable to express my thankfulness to him. He nodded back, seemingly understanding what was on my mind. Turning from me, he started a demure conversation with the person seated next to him. He reached up his hand…and started to twirl his hair.
All doubt left my mind at that instant. He had to be my Edmond, he just had to be. With the help of his manservant, whose name was Jacopo, I clambered into his carriage and awaited him there as the Count bid farewell to my husband and son. He started in surprise when he realized I was there. Never taking my gaze from him, I shifted to the seat next to him. He whispered that he must take me home. The tears welled up and fell from my eyes. Once, twice I tried to kiss him, but he gently pushed me away. I protested, begging him to drop the pretense and admit to being Edmond. He claimed that he was not, and I brashly commanded him to stop denying it. I couldn't breathe for a moment; the tears apparently were in my throat as well as my eyes. I wondered aloud what he was, if he were a spirit sent to punish me for my misdeeds and unfaithfulness to his memory. Patting my back, the Count asked me several questions.
"This Edmond, did you love him?"
"All of my life."
"…How long after his death did you wait for him?"
"…That isn't fair."
We had returned to my home, and he frustratingly pushed the door open himself. Climbing out, he motioned for me to do the same. Taking his hand as I descended, I looked him in the eye once more. The hard outlines of his face stood out in the moonlight. His frank gaze back was devoid of thought or emotion, unlike my Edmond's. I could always tell what he was thinking or feeling just by looking at him. It was not true of this man.
"You are right. You could not be my Edmond."
"There, you said it yourself. Edmond Dantès is dead."
I walked away, retiring to my chambers early, and now I sit here looking at my ring.
"…Edmond Dantès is dead…"
This thought is racing through my mind constantly, but why?
"…Edmond Dantès is dead…"
Dantès! I've never said his name, his surname, in sixteen years. Not to my husband, who seems to have no memory of Edmond ever existing, or to anyone else. No one knows his name but me…except for the Count of Monte Cristo. He knows, and he therefore is Edmond Dantès. The Count is my Edmond, and I must see him again.
His servants tell me he has gone to Marseilles for a week's stay, to visit the Messieurs Danglars and Villefort. No matter, I informed them. I paid the one called Jacopo to summon me to the Chateau de Monte Cristo the moment the Count returns, and conduct me to his rooms secretly. Until then, I shall wait, and thank God for returning me my Edmond.
End note: I recently finished reading the book and watched the movie. I find both to be very good, and this had been sitting in the back of my mind waiting to be written for awhile now. I hope you enjoyed it.