This story was written for the second Fireplace Writing Challenge. I want to take up time and space thanking Flame Rising (F/R) for coming up with the idea for this challenge and SaoirseWaveglow (Sao) for BETA-ing the story.
Disclaimer: I don't own Giselle; the libretto is by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I saw Hans with the sylph. He was so happy with her, more so than he had been with me. She had an ethereal beauty, and her soft wings fluttered delicately as she escaped his grasp. I forgot about the cold, unforgiving winter until soft, pure white snow, the same color as the sylph's wings, took my life.
I kept my eyes closed as Myrtha and Giselle argued over Prince Albrecht's life. Prince Albrecht stood off to the side, gazing at Giselle with a loving expression on his face, as if he couldn't tell that she were trying to save his life. He didn't seem to care for his life, only for being with Giselle. It hurt so much to see the love that they shared, especially compared to my trivial, fake relationship with Hans. I had given up everything—my friends, my family, and my dreams—to be with him. Even so, he had left me for a beautiful, delicate sylph, and I was left in the shadows, mourning my loss. I knew why, of course, but it had still hurt me.
Giselle begged Myrtha to spare Prince Albrecht's life. If she knew the Queen well, she wouldn't have tried. It would be a wasted effort, unless she was stalling for time.
Myrtha had raised me from my grave; it was, in a way, my duty to serve her. She spoke softly, explaining why I became a Wili and what I was to do. She was very kind to me, but soon pushed me away from the clearing that surrounded my grave, and into the forests. She told me that she had done so for a good reason; I trusted her judgment, as she had been kind to me so far.
Hans entered with the sylph behind him and as curious as ever. He held a bouquet of white flowers as he approached my tombstone, which was adorned with a simple cross. When he bowed before my grave, the sylph, now realizing what had happened, pulled away from him and fled past me, right into the forest. Her eyes were filled with a sad betrayal.
Prince Albrecht held Giselle gently in his arms, despite her being a ghost. His careful embrace betrayed his wonder and happiness. It seemed as if being with her was worth everything to him; she was gone, and this would be the last time he would ever be able to be with her. We all knew it to be true.
I seethed as I saw the sylph's eyes. She knew absolutely nothing about betrayal. She had no reason to be hurt, and she had brought this upon herself. There was no reason for anyone to sympathize for her, and not one of us did.
Hans attempted to go after her, but Myrtha was in his way. She stared him down as he began to back away. He tried to leave, but Zulme and Moyna stood in his path. He backed away and rushed over to my grave, hoping that the cross would protect him.
Giselle urged Prince Albrecht towards the cross, hoping to save him. Myrtha followed and issued her orders: Giselle was to bring the prince to his death.
I approached him from behind my grave, watching as his eyes softened once he caught sight of me. He thought I would help him. He gazed at me as he had before,when I was still alive, although now his eyes held traces of fear and insanity. He was afraid of death.
"Nerissa," he gasped, "I thought that you were dead."
Prince Albrecht followed Giselle to his death. He seemed glad to be with her, even just this once.
"What makes you think she's alive now?" Myrtha hissed. "She's just as dead as you are alive."
Myrtha's eyes betrayed something else, though. "But not for long."
Zulme and Moyna smirked at Hans as he attempted to run; the hidden meaning in Myrtha's voice was unmistakeable--he was to die. There was no escape for him; he wouldn't live to see the next day, nor his dear sylph.
Giselle danced with a sadness that could touch anyone's heart; even so, as a Wili, none of us had hearts anymore. Only Giselle was able to really feel, to really love.
As Myrtha commanded him to dance, he began to smile like a madman. His dancing was full of joy and energy until he stopped, his chest heaving as he gasped for air. He couldn't continue, no matter how much he wanted to to. The only way he could was to commit suicide for the joy of dancing.
Myrtha smirked at Hans, delighted with her new toy. Once she commanded Hans to dance once more, he ran towards me, his eyes pleading and desperate; he had finally realized what he really was to do, and what it would cost him. He wouldn't be able to live much longer, and it was nowhere near sunrise; he would die in the middle of the night.
Giselle's anguished scream and Myrtha's delightfully sinister laughter, along with Zulme and Moyna's, cut through the silence as Prince Albrecht collapsed on the ground.
I laughed at him when he approached me and turned away from him. He should have known I wouldn't help him here. This was my chance for revenge, and I wouldn't just let it slip away. This was once in a lifetime; that is, if "lifetime" could be applied to a ghost.
He began his once-joyful leaps again, his eyes fearful. He was afraid of us, the Wilis, and of death. It didn't take long for him to stop dancing. Soon after, he stopped breathing, and my revenge was fulfilled.
The church bells rang, signaling the end of our time. We would be back the next night, waiting for our next victim. We faded away as Giselle reluctantly returned to her grave. With my final moments, I saw Prince Albrecht kneel before her grave, tears staining his cheeks as she disappeared.