A/N: I wrote this the day after I posted chapter 7, which to me is a record…two chapters in two days, whoo-hoo:-P Despite my "love-hate" relationship with this story, I'm kind of sad it's over…it was great fun writing for Josette instead of Maggie for a change, and my reading Pride and Prejudice helped a lot with her pretentiousness. :) Some of you will probably hate this ending, but I don't care! I'm the authoress and what I say goes, so MWUAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!! Oh! And this chapter's title was inspired from the lovely song "Once Upon a Time" from the musical All American.
Once upon a time
A girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine
And said she loved me so
But that was once upon a time
Very long ago
Once upon a hill
We sat beneath a willow tree
Counting all the stars
And waiting for the dawn
But that was once upon a time
Now the tree is gone
How the breeze used to ruffle through her hair
How we always laughed as though
Tomorrow wasn't there
We were young and didn't have a care
Where did it go?
Once upon a time
The world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours
How happy we were then
But somehow once upon a time
Never comes again
-"Once Upon a Time"/All American
CH 8: Once Upon a Time
When Barnabas arose the next evening, he made sure to come upstairs the normal way since Josette was finally aware of his disposition. Oh, how wonderful it was to have someone to share in his pain – to have someone who accepted him for the horrid creature he was!
Smiling to himself, Barnabas entered the foyer before pleasantly entreating, "Josette? Josette, my darling, are you home?" When no answer greeted his senses, he tried yet again, "Josette? Really now, it is quite cruel of you to go playing games such as this, for I…" He froze.
There, sitting atop the book he'd been reading the night before laid a piece of parchment, his name lovingly scrolled out over the front in well-formed calligraphic letters. Trembling, Barnabas rushed over to the note and opened it with hasty fingers, his breathing growing all the more shallow as he fearfully read:
I am most aggrieved that I was unable to relate this to you in person, but it has come to my attention that the unthinkable has happened: I have fallen in love with two men. I will not reveal to you the identity of this other man, but my affections for him have been steadily rising ever since our first meeting one week ago. I know how you are, mon ami, and I beg of you to not to seek him out – if you do, be rest assured that I shall never forgive you for as long as I live.
Before you condemn me with the disdain and hatred that I so sorely deserve, please know that I never once lied about my love for you. It is everlasting like the sun, and twice as brilliant, but because of this fateful situation that God has so cruelly placed before me, I have washed my hands clean of this era and have returned to 1795 to be with Papa and Aunt Natalie. Before the notion even enters your mind, dearest Barnabas, let me put your fears at rest and assure you that the other man did not accompany me on my journey. As difficult as this must be for you to understand, I realized that I could never give you my full love when I still had feelings for him and vise-versa. How can I be expected to love you as you so deserve when this man holds half of my heart, and you the other? Neither of you deserve such torture, and for that reason I used Willie's mirror to transport myself back to where I belong.
Do not come looking for me, my love, for you will only be making this inevitable separation far harder on us both. I have resolved to die an old maid, but if by some miracle of God I manage to forget the other man, there may still be hope for us in 1795. On your deathbed you promised me that you would return, and I can most humbly assure you that I still believe that with all my heart. You never broke a promise to me, after all, which is why it kills me knowing how I must now break mine.
I took the music box with me to remember our unconditional love, but I left the engagement ring on my bureau so as not to cheat you of your happiness. I did so with the hopes that a more beautiful, deserving girl will one day wear that ring and make you happier than I could have ever hoped – amidst my selfishness, I find that I envy that girl, already. I know that it may come as a shock, but I truly shall be in love with you forever…
Love to you always,
Barnabas stared blankly back at the letter for several long, excruciating minutes, yet somehow he found that he could feel nothing within his soul but an unfathomable emptiness. The agonized cry that longed to escape his throat never came, but after some time, a lone tear trickled down his quivering cheek and absorbed into the stiff collar of his dark suit.
Josette was gone, he realized, and in the process had taken away his heart and soul and left behind his empty shell of a body. Without her he was nothing…how could she have been so cruel!?
Crumpling up the letter within his fist, Barnabas tossed it fiercely into the fire before watching it burn with a bitter satisfaction. He would do as Josette said and not seek out the mystery man, but that didn't mean he would forgive them for their unpardonable transgressions against his heart.
When Willie entered his bedroom after a hard day of work, he half-expected to find Josette's slim form standing there demurely before him. Sighing in disappointment when no such welcome came, he wearily sat down on his bed and gave a cry when he discovered something crackly and suspiciously like paper beneath his hand.
The hints of future sleep now completely gone from his eyes, Willie hastily opened the letter with bewilderment as he read:
I am no longer ashamed to admit to myself that I hold no regret towards you or anything that has happened between us, for as much as I have longed to fight against it, I have realized that over the course of this week I've fallen in love with you. If it were not for my dear Barnabas, I am almost positive that I would have allowed you to make love to me and then begged never to leave your side.
As abominable as I first found you, you have proven to me what a kind and gentle soul you truly are over the course of this week. There is no use in denying your integrity, for I am completely convinced that you saved me from that drunk out of the goodness of your heart and not the selfishness that you initially claimed. My feelings for you were even further altered when you revealed Barnabas' secret and begged with me to see reason – I'd never understood your intentions more than at that very moment, for I realized that you were only concerned about how I would take Barnabas' being a vampire.
Your heart is pure and virtuous, and I only wish that there were two of me, as incredibly selfish as that sounds, so that I could be free to love both you and Barnabas with all my everlasting soul. Perhaps I have been completely undeserving of your attentions, but I am truly honored that a man of such warmth found something worth pursuing in my otherwise indifferent heart. There is no escaping the fact that I was cruel to you, so I cannot help but wonder how you managed to overlook our shaky start and ever admit to loving me. I must confess that I am ignorant of when and why I first started loving you, as well, so maybe we are not meant to know such things.
As I wrote to Barnabas, I have decided that I cannot marry him since I am also in love with you, so I used your mirror late this afternoon to return to my time. I pray that you will learn to forgive me, but you must know that I never once revealed you as being the other man – our secret will continue to remain safe as long as you burn this letter, so please do so as soon as you finish reading.
Although my appreciation of you knows no bounds, I dare only write one more piece of information for fear of being caught by you. As you might already know, Carolyn Stoddard stopped by today and, surprised to find me here, invited me out to lunch. As we were talking, she revealed to me that she'd gotten her first job (imagine, a woman working in a professional setting!). After a bit of bragging in regards to her being a secretary for the Collinsport Star, she then told me about having to work with odd contraptions such as a typewriter. Since I didn't know what this was, she graciously revealed its purpose and asked if I wanted to stop by the office and see how it worked. I know I probably shouldn't have expressed my confusion since she seemed most surprised, but I could not help myself, dearest Willie, for I had developed a most marvelous idea!
Subsequent to being taught how to use the curious device, Carolyn allowed me to type a note (one that I did not show her, of course), and after I had finished she dropped me off at the Evans' Cottage and I slipped the note under the door.
By now I assume you are most curious as to what I could have possibly written Maggie Evans, but fear not, I refuse to be so cruel as to hold you in suspense any longer. What I wrote, mon ami, is a love letter confessing your innermost thoughts and feelings for the girl whom has so foolishly turned you away. I am hoping that by having typed this letter (with your name as the closing signature, of course) Maggie will realize what a warm and caring man you are, and that she will abandon her fiancé after discovering how much you truly love her.
I trust you are not too angry with me, mon chéri, for I only did this with the desire that you would finally get the woman and the happiness you've always wanted. You may think I wasn't listening when you spoke of how miserable you are, but I can assure you that I hung on to every word. I am a woman in love (albeit with two men), mon cher, and for that reason I cannot help but give you the warmest wishes for success in your future endeavors.
Love you to always,
Willie stared back at the letter in utter disbelief, yet he found that in spite of his blatant shock he couldn't have been happier. Knowing that Josette had actually returned his feelings somehow made the blow far less severe, and even more incredible still, she had loved him so much that she'd actually gone out and tried to sway Maggie into seeing how willing he was to make her happy.
As Willie continued to reread certain passages with a smile on his face, he couldn't help but jump the moment he heard a car door slam from out front. Warily approaching his bedroom window, the servant gazed out in astonishment once he caught sight of Maggie Evans slowly approaching the house from the walkway, one hand pressing against her blushing cheek while the other held what appeared to be a note.
Feeling his heart pound in eager anticipation, Willie abandoned his spot by the window and went rushing downstairs like a madman on the loose, his palms sweating profusely as he yanked open the door and beheld Maggie's sweet, yet bemused countenance.
"Willie" she greeted, "I…how did you know I was here? I didn't even get to knock!"
"Oh! W-w-well I heard the car, a-a-and…"
"It doesn't matter" Maggie warmly assured him. "I just came by because I wanted to tell you…I-I mean…I wanted to discuss something you left me this morning. May I come in?"
Completely unable to stop the grin from spreading across his lips, Willie nodded before stepping aside and gesturing toward the sitting room. "Sure, Maggie – y-ya never need ta give a reason ta come talk ta me, 'c-cause I'll always listen."
Smiling, Maggie followed him and began the conversation that would soon lead to years upon years of marital bliss.
"Josette? Josette, are you in here?"
"Coming, Aunt Natalie!" With a sigh, the miserable beauty placed the last of her belongings into her suitcase before turning and opening the door for her aunt.
"Goodness, have you been packing for an entire regiment? You have been up here for at least a half hour!" Entering the room, Natalie continued to complain, "Really now, ma chéri, are you leaving so much behind? That dress in the closet was made especially for you by the finest seamstress in Paris!"
Josette dejectedly bowed her head. "It does not matter, Aunt Natalie – I do not need it."
"Not need it? Well what if you catch the eye of a baron's son at one of our annual balls? If you have no finery, how shall you ever become a bride?"
"I shan't be a bride ever again, and I truly mean that" Josette stubbornly revealed. Feeling tears coming to her eyes, she added, "I have loved and lost, Aunt Natalie, and now I know that I can never love again."
Natalie snorted. "If this is about Barnabas again, I demand that you…"
"No" Josette sternly interrupted, "it is not. I have come to this decision on my own accord, for I know it is best since I can never possibly give a future husband a good life."
Dismissively waving her hand, Natalie argued, "Oh, ma chéri, you are far too dramatic – so much like your father! In time you will learn to love again, and on that day we can look back on this evening and laugh."
Josette sighed. "Oui, Aunt Natalie."
Appearing to be satisfied, Natalie firmly continued, "I will be downstairs waiting for you, but please do not take so long this time."
"Oui, Aunt Natalie."
As soon as Natalie shut the door, Josette turned toward the mirror and miserably hugged herself. Oh, how she longed to be back in 1967 – it hurt so dreadfully to be away from the men she loved!
In what seemed to be in accordance with her thoughts, the mirror began to quiver and swirl until the image of two figures began to take shape, her eyes widening once she realized who they were.
Barnabas was sitting in his favorite chair as Willie stood alongside him, and to Josette's astonishment they were both talking and smiling. After a brief while two charming women joined them, one of which she recognized to be Maggie Evans. The other was a tall, slender redhead in what appeared to be her early forties, yet this by no means slighted her unique beauty. Although Barnabas was currently ignorant to the fact that this woman clearly adored him, Josette was able to sense it and, judging by Barnabas' tremendous partiality to her, felt that he would eventually see that they were meant to be.
Alongside Barnabas and the redhead, Willie cheerily stood with his arm slung across Maggie's shoulders, both of them laughing at something he'd whispered in her ear. Josette couldn't help but smile at this warm little scene, for she realized then that she had, indeed done the right thing for all.
A/N: YAAAAY, it's OVER!!!! I tried to give it a happier ending than it was going to initially have, but my decision to end it with Josette choosing neither lover was influenced by one of the British Literature themes: the failure of love. This theme has been so deeply ingrained in my brain this semester that I suppose it was only natural to choose it. The basic meaning of the failure of love is that there IS love in existence, but by the end of the story all the lovers have failed to have been united, whether it be emotionally, physically, or both. I hope nobody's super incensed about this ending, but I tried to imply that Willie and Maggie got together, as well as Barnabas and Julia. Poor Josette didn't get anybody, but her love for both men is strong enough to keep her satisfied. Hope this didn't seem like a copout to anybody, and I hope everyone enjoyed! ;0)