A Happy Ending
((A Rose of Versailles Fanfiction.))
I meant what I said to the Commander, I really did. Every last word of it, as a matter of fact. She did not mean to sound selfish, and I did not mean to sound harsh, but I said what was on my mind and in my heart. André had become a great friend, a wonderful comrade, someone worth having on your side. Worth having on our side.
She had no way of knowing all of the hardships he'd gone through, all of the dark looks he'd received from the other men of Company B for being the servant of a noble, all of the suffering he'd kept hidden from her. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been easier for us all if she'd have known all along.
The rain soaked through Company B as we tried to get a few hours of sleep before the dawn of the 14th. After being awakened when one of the men couldn't find the Commander, I remember thinking to myself that I should go and find her. But at the same time, I had the feeling she wanted nothing more than to be left alone.
Does she feel as if she's failed as a Commander because of André's death? I wondered. But no, the truth was, she had to have felt she'd been unsuccessful at a lot more than that. LaSalle's death had affected her, but not like that. No, I could only imagine that she felt she had failed as a leader, as a wife, as a woman… Ah, yes, as a woman.
I'll never forget the proud look on André's face when she announced it to us, or the way the hard, stern lines around her eyes and mouth seemed to soften as she stole a glance at him afterward. That, I remember thinking, is love.
As I turned over and tried to sleep again, ignoring the rain and the cold chill it brought with it, I couldn't help but wonder about Oscar. That was when all hope of rest flew from my mind. I had known all along that I had no chance of winning her over. No, not that stuck-up noblewoman! It made me smile to think back on when I had called her that. Oh, how wrong I had been!
André certainly had the right idea about her all along. She was headstrong and tight-lipped but there was just something about her… That was when it hit me. André! He was gone. My drinking buddy, my friend… my rival in love even though he'd had the girl the entire time and didn't quite realize it.
But now…now he had gone and left Oscar alone. I… I distinctly recall wanting to apologize to him for even thinking such a thing! Ah, but she was beautiful—and he knew that. And for one instant, nothing mattered. Not the fact that she loved him and not me, not the fact that I was no one compared to her, not the fact that we might not make it out of this war, not the fact that I was younger than she, and not the fact that she might not live much longer, anyway. Oh, but the amount of time she had left didn't make any difference to me. I had seen and heard enough to know that it was no cold… Colds don't last months.
But did André know? He had to have known, or at least suspected. Clearly, she didn't want us, her own men, to find out. But some of us were just perceptive enough to figure it out on our own.
In that moment, though… In that moment, I imagined taking her to the countryside to live out her life. Our lives, if you will. And I know, it was so very foolish of me to imagine that she, so strong and proud and fierce, would, in a million years, agree to live with a farmer-wannabe nobody like myself. But at the same time, in those few seconds, it made complete sense to me.
Finding her the next morning took a lot of work. I won't say that I knew where to look, either, because I didn't. In fact, I had no idea. The shouts of "Storm the Bastille! Storm the Bastille!" echoed all around me, and gave me a headache so big I was certain I'd never be able to concentrate long enough to find her. But then, almost like a tiny gentle whisper in the back of my head, I felt something. I might be an idiot for saying this, or at least, some might think I'm crazy, but I could have sworn that it was André trying to lead me to her. "I can't take care of her now," he would have said, "so would you please do a man a favor and help me out?"
But the voice sounded more like, "She needs you, Alain." And I was so confused that I suppose I didn't really care where the voice came from or who was saying it. I saw a back alley and I remember being completely and utterly shocked to find her standing there, staring at me with a look on her face that left me hurting more than I've probably ever hurt, before.
I wasn't sure if I imagined it or not, but I could have sworn I heard her say André's name. Either way, the look in her eyes was unabashed amazement and hope and love and all of those things I would never even have thought of repeating as a young man for fear of making myself sound like a romantic fool. The sad thing is, as soon as she realized it was me, ah, just Alain, she was left looking dazed and confused and about as hurt as I, myself felt.
She handed me the cloak I had loaned to her, and I took it. But the way that she stood, with her arms around her like she was trying to hold herself together… I don't know. I do know that Alain de Soisson's heart has never hurt as much as it did in the instant she turned to me and asked if she could cry. Cry, Commander? "Of course. Cry as much as you can."
She fell against me, sobs wracking her body as if she would never truly live again. And I wondered a little who it was she was crying for. For André? All of this for André? You must really love him, I thought, my hand awkwardly patting her back. I'd never seen her in such a state before, and it both unnerved and amazed me.
But she was cold, so very, very cold. Her clothes were wet, her hair damp, and I knew then that she had been left lying in this back alley for, at the very least, part of the night. Oh, I should have come looking for you, I mentally scolded myself. But as she cried, as I held her and did what little I could do to comfort her, I came to two important realizations.
Oscar—not Commander, not some stuck-up noblewoman or a woman pretending to be a man—was the most beautiful, easy-to-love person that God placed on this planet. I would do anything to take care of her for the rest of her life even though I doubted she would ever come to love me as I did her. This, I realized, was what André saw in her that I could not initially see. It was no wonder that he loved her so much and would do anything for her—even to the point of dying for her sake. Oh, Oscar, I thought to myself, my eyes nearly closing. When this is over, when the Bastille is stormed, run away with me to the countryside and let me take care of you until the end of your days. But I never could voice it… No, not to the heartbroken woman in front of me.
My second, and very final realization was quite simple. It found its way to me as I felt the water from her uniform seep into me, as I felt the chill that she had to have felt as she lay on the cobblestones in the rain, most likely due to a terrible fit of uncontrollable coughing, as her tears fell freely and her sobs wrenched from her body in a manner that said far too much about her. Oscar, Oscar… I sighed to myself, holding her closer and tangling my fingers in her damp hair. You've had enough, haven't you? I understand. The pain is too much.
Oscar François de Jarjeyes…wanted to die. Though she never said it, I could feel it. Her pain, her suffering… It brought me back to seeing Diane lying there on her bed, her life completely gone, and it made it easier for me to empathize with Oscar's loss. Oh, but if you die, Oscar, I'll have lost someone else. And just the thought of losing her made me pull her against me so tightly I was almost afraid I would break her.
It was soon after that she pulled away from me, made an attempt to wipe away her tears, and suggested we make our way to the Bastille. I could only nod and agree, but inside, I was quavering like a scared child. Do you plan to die today, Oscar? Please don't die. Not you, too. I promise to look after you for the rest of your days… I…
She started to walk away, and I hurried after her, my thoughts forgotten for the time being.
I remember telling her that André was a lucky man since she returned his love, at least. And I suppose that by the same token, Oscar was a lucky woman. But they were both lucky, because they were only forced apart for one day. And though my thoughts were forgotten that day as I chased after her to help storm the Bastille Prison, the ache in my heart stayed. I still feel it, sometimes, when I think of her. Of him. Of the two of them there as she announced she and André were husband and wife. And I smile when I remember that, because even my love for her could not compare to what they had.
Everyone says how tragic their ending was. But was it really? As I get older and older, I find myself thinking more and more about how I've never chanced to find the kind of love they had. I doubt I ever will. And I have this image of them in my head from a day long ago, when she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and he smiled back at her, making her look away almost shyly, and I can't help but think that damn. You know? That was love if I ever saw it. And I've never seen it quite like that before.
But they found it. Despite all odds, they found what they were looking for: each other. So what if they had only been allowed to enjoy it for one day? They were also only forced apart for a day, too.
Tragic? No… God blessed them both by allowing them to be together again so soon, don't you think? And that's a happy ending if I ever saw one.
I did not want to pick this title, but after thinking for nearly an hour, I realized I could come up with nothing better. Ah, oh well. I apologize that Alain's thoughts seem to drift all over the place, but he just seems like that sort of person. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I believe he cared for Oscar a lot. Underneath his rough shell, he's a really good person.
I thought Alain deserved a 'fic. I just wish I had been able to keep this thoughts more organized. Please, feel free to critique this one. I hope it at least made sense. Thank you for reading! Feedback is appreciated, as always.