A Rose of Versailles fanfiction.
A part of me had hoped, or even prayed, that the note to my father would not be my last, that André's promise to him would not be broken, that the world would go on and so would we. He and I. André and Oscar. Two people who had come to care about each other—somehow, despite class differences and the opinions of others—more than anything else in the world.
So, I had hoped, with every fiber of my being, that I would not hear the words or see the image that was, at that very moment, right before me.
The stone steps of the church are cold beneath me, the rain is cold, my lungs are cold…my heart…is cold. But I cannot make myself move. I don't feel as if I have the strength to even do so much as cough, but my chest is aching with the humidity that hangs in the air. There is no strength within me without him, I think, and I bite down on my tongue, trying not to let a cough escape, though I ultimately fail. I don't even have to look at my hand to know there is blood there; I hold it out in front of me and let the light drizzle that will soon become rain wash it away.
My André reached out for me, his eyes wide with shock and pain, my name on his lips. How cruel, I thought, that this would happen to him. To me. To us. I wanted to reach for him, to catch him in my arms before he fell to the ground, even if his weight caused me to fall, too. Fall against me, André; let me catch you like you've caught me so many times before…
The thought passed through my mind, and I heard his body hit the street with a thud and a groan. Some great military commander I turned out to be. Some great wife I turned out to be.
Our reckless charge had to succeed, I told myself, because André—my sweet, compassionate André—needed a doctor. And when I could not see him, enfolded and protected in Alain's arms as he was—an internal struggle began.
He's dead, he's dead, my mind cried, insistent and prideful and usually right. But my heart, with a soft and gentle voice, whispered words that I tried to grasp, tried to hold onto and never let go of. He's fine, he's fine.
He wasn't fine, but he wasn't dead, either. He was struggling to breathe, his eyes staring blankly ahead. I remember wondering if he was looking for me. Perhaps it was selfish of me to hope that he was. Ahh…André…
Why are you crying, Oscar?
For you…for me… For us…
Am I dying, Oscar?
No, no, please God, no! Don't take him away from me. Not my loyal, devoted, caring André. Not my husband, Lord, please…not my husband…
I did not want to believe the truth; perhaps, I decided, the bullet had missed his heart. There was still a chance we could still have a life together, a brief but fulfilling future. He and I. André and Oscar. The two of us, together.
I let my hand rest over my stomach. There could be a child within, I think, and the thought of a baby born of us, made by us…cherished…by us… makes me smile a little. Wouldn't André have loved to have children? Wouldn't I? The smile fades from my face as another cough wracks my body; my lungs burn for air as I recall two words that don't seem nearly as important to me now that he is gone.
Ahh…André….six months is not long enough to give birth to a child, our child.
I rest my elbows on my knees and bow my head with a sigh. Where you're at now, André, you could look down and you could see this child if I could live long enough to deliver. But I'm sorry… I won't live that long. I don't have the strength to live that long. Forgive me for that.
Marry me, André, please? Will you swear before God that you are my husband, and I, your wife?
My heart clenched with sorrow and joy simultaneously when he said that he would. We don't need a church… It's okay. God saw us. He knows.
Before God the Father, we are joined as one. I don't need pen and ink and parchment to prove it to myself.
Nor do you.
The words he spoke to my father on that rainy day came back to me, then, as I held his hand and waited, talking to him and hoping that he could hear, that he would live to see the 14th of July, 1789.
Just one more sunrise, André… We don't even have to go to Arras to see it. We can watch it from here… You and I. André and Oscar. The two of us, together.
No longer were we André the stable hand and Oscar the military commander. No, we were simply ourselves, now. Two hearts and two people that had combined to become one. André and Oscar Grandier.
I'll describe the sunrise for you, André, since I know you'll be unable to see it. You'll hear of the yellows and oranges and the rose and lavender-tinted clouds in the sky.
Life was fleeting, and André had taken his last breath before I could come to terms with losing him.
André…! Are you leaving me behind? André!
He was already gone. Others all around me were grieving—even those who had never met him—but my own choked sobs were all that I heard. I don't remember them taking him away, but I must have followed.
My eyesight starts to get fuzzy as I remember him in the church, laying so still, his eyes closed. I stare at the street, and the stones there blur until I cannot tell one apart from another.
Is this how you felt, André, as you lost your sight? Did you really call me back to the stables? You did, didn't you? What made you change your mind? When I tossed the bottle to you, could you even see it at all? You couldn't, could you? How much could you see? Could you see me? Were you afraid?
I'm afraid of living alone, of dying alone, of a life without him. I will go to be with him soon, I realize as my body convulses, as I cough so hard I fall down the stone steps and can only barely manage to rise from the cobblestone street.
This tuberculosis will kill me.
How long before I succumb to this disease?
My eyesight swims. Any amount of time away from him is too long…much too long…
How could I have been so…so blind? André is the one of us whose sight had been lost, but I was the one who could not see. Why hadn't I seen it and accepted it for what it was sooner? Why had I run from something that I had needed so much? This is all just too much for me…too much…
My faithful, old horse whickers from in front of me, and I want nothing more than to die where I stand. This horse has been with me as long as André has…had… I bury my face in the steed's mane and let it soak up my tears. It isn't fair, I think, that I'm alone and so is he. The smell of my horse brings me back to the stable at the mansion, to memories of André lounging on a bale of straw after grooming the horses, of apples and a couple of sharp slaps to the face.
Those days seem as if they were from long ago… If he… If my André had lived, if he were with me now, we could do anything. My mind drifts to the feeling of curious, hesitant fingertips against my skin, of lazy kisses in the moonlight, of his warm lips searching for mine, sometimes missing, but still filled with such love, such longing.
André, do you know how much I miss you already? Don't apologize for missing; if you cannot find me, I will find you…
I remember his strong jaw and the deep green of his eyes, and his gentle hands as he handled the horses. I remember the way he sang when he thought I was not listening, the calluses on his fingers, his laughter as he bit into a particularly mushy apple and the juice dribbled down his chin. I can't stop thinking about him, and the sight of my once-lovely, once-beautiful snow-white steed…does not help.
How many times had we ridden together, with André and his horse at our side? How many times had André done or said something while I was on that horse, and I was unwilling to see it as it was? How many times had he carefully brushed her mane and combed her forelock to make her look beautiful for me?
One more horseback ride, André… it's been some time since we've last done that.
I can see how it will go, already, and I smile despite the tears that slip from beneath my eyelids. I need… I must… I have to get away from this.
Galloping down the street does not make me feel the freedom that I had, at one time, felt riding across the countryside. I feel the anxiousness of my horse, and I feel the aching in my chest. Is it loneliness that I feel, or is it my fate, my tuberculosis?
Suddenly, I'm looking at a corpse… My…my horse is…is dead, and…
My head spins, my heart pounds, my chest aches, and I feel weary and sad and far too alive all at the same time. It isn't fair, I think, that she should go to see him while I yet live.
And I fight, ignoring the tears, ignoring everything except what is right in front of me. And all I'm seeing is him, is André, is my horse that could have carried the two of us off into the sunset together like some silly romantic dream. The horse is dead. My dream is dead. Our future is dead. André…is dead.
And… I wish I…
I want to die.
I had acknowledged his love, but it had almost been too late. When my father wanted to see me in a wedding dress, I should have told him I would wear one if I could marry André. I should have run away with him when I happened upon him in the barracks, when he'd been hurt so badly and all because of…of me.
Why hadn't I? Was it hard for me to accept the fact that he loved me more than I had ever loved Fersen? My infatuation was nothing compared to what he felt when he looked at me, but I realized it all too late.
It's raining now, and the fight is over, but I cannot remember if I won it. Had I run away as I'd run from André? Forgive me for that.
My lungs ache, and I cough, not even trying to hold it back. I wonder how Gerodère is doing, now. Is he happy? Will he be happy? If he were with me now, would he fight by my side for a cause such as this? Would he have thrown down his honor and his name for the commonfolk of France?
And my father… Oh, but he will be disappointed to know that his daughter is a traitor… If I live through this, if I go home once more to see him, to see Mother… I must find a way to tell him about my husband… André must be buried in Arras, Father…and when my turn comes, I must be laid to rest beside him as his wife.
Oscar François Grandier sounds nice, I think as the handkerchief over my mouth is covered with blood.
With pain comes relief. Perhaps I should have seen this coming. So much for going back home. Goodbye, sisters. Goodbye, Nanny.
I only barely realize that I am lying on the ground, that the life is draining from me with every small movement I make. I try to raise my head, and I turn to stare at a blurry sky. André, are you there? I know why I am thinking of him, now.
Alain and a few others help me… I know they mean well. I know they do, but… I want to rest, I want to rest in peace… I'm dying. They know I'm dying. Why do they try so hard? Why are they crying?
Ah…Rosalie… please don't cry. Bernard, hold her…
Alain, the cannons…the cannons… The citizens cannot fire them, they don't know how. Why are you here? Please don't look so upset… I can't see you but I know… Alain, did you love me, too, if only the smallest bit?
The blanket over me does not warm me, and Rosalie's tears are soaking into Bernard's shirt. Please live, Rosalie. For you, for your husband, for me. Have the life I'll never have, please. Love with everything you have the way I learned to do too late.
Goodbye, Lady Antoinette. There are so many things I should have said, but didn't…
I hear them, the citizens of France, as the Bastille is stormed. Is this relief I feel? No, for my Company B, it's pride. You did well, men… very well. Live your lives and don't regret… Thank you for following me and trusting in me to the end.
The pain is gone, and for a brief moment, I panic when I realize I can no longer hear. Not the sounds of gunfire and cannons, not the sound of Rosalie's crying or the victorious shouts of France. And the sky above me starts to fade around the edges. André, are you there? Are you waiting for me? Please say that you are…
I would cough if I could, for my chest is burning like only an inferno can, but I haven't the strength any longer. Goodbye, Mother… I love you. Goodbye, Father… I hope you are not too angry with me over this. Please know that I will be happier this way; please try to understand this one thing…for me. Please…be proud of…
My vision abruptly goes dark, and I struggle to understand. Am I…dead? Is this death? This endless black void? A light. And then another, and another. Small flecks of light flicker in the complete darkness, illuminating the empty air. This is…
André! André! My words aren't quite spoken, aren't quite brought to the air. I don't mind. This place, this isn't a memory, but it's so similar. How fitting for André to be waiting for me in a setting such as this. I run, though I'm not certain my legs are moving. He has to be here… he has to.
I blink, and suddenly…there he is.
I feel strength flood through my body, and all I can think is that I have to touch him, have to feel him to make sure that he is real. Ahh, André, my husband, my friend. It's been far too long. You got your wish, to die before me… but just as you followed me anywhere, always, I followed you.
Do you still love everything about me, I wonder, tracing the lines of his face with my eyes, even though our lives are over? Or does eternal life count, too?
My fingertips reach out for him, my arm straining as I stretch it as far as I can. For a long moment, I feel disappointment race through me, but then I feel his fingertips brush against mine, his hand closing over my arm as he draws me against him, and I feel an airy warmth that is unmistakably him, and I smell straw and horses and apples, and I laugh and cry at the same time, holding onto him with every bit of strength granted to me.
Finally… We can be us again. He and I. André and Oscar Grandier. Husband and wife. Lovers. Friends. Everything we had been and more.
I feel something push against my back, and then my neck, and I turn to see my horse standing behind me, her eyes full of affection. My beautiful, perfectly groomed, snow-white horse. André, I think. Did you do this? I love this man so much.
I breathe in the scent of him, and I feel him kiss my cheek. I missed you, he says, and my heart clenches. I want to tell him I missed him, too, but I can't help but believe that he already knows. I pull away and look into his eyes, both beautiful and as green as I remember them to be, and I stroke the side of his face, taking in everything about him. It feels so good to see him, to be with him, to touch him… I don't even care if he can see again or not. But when his lips find mine on the first try, I know that he can.
And so can I.
Well, I toyed with the idea of perhaps Oscar actually dying pregnant, but decided against it in the long run. So that part, in this 'fic, is mostly just speculation on her part. This was fun to write, though admittedly a bit depressing. I can only begin to imagine Oscar's grief as she sits on the steps of the church. Word repetition is intentional. I do hope that the point of view switching (present to past, and back again) was not too confusing.
Anyway, I know this fandom is small (as in, almost non-existent for English-speaking fans), but I wanted to contribute at least one thing to this little anime that has captured me so completely. It is, in my opinion, hands-down the best anime I have ever seen before. Thanks Forced Simile for recommending it to me.
Thank you for reading. I'd love feedback if you've got the time to give it!