A/N: This is based off both the book Wuthering Heights, and the recent 2009 miniseries. There are elements from both, though it's more from the book. If you like it and want to read more, please review! I shall update faster that way. It's not edited, so watch out for grammar mistakes, and misspellings. I also have the worst habit of switching tenses. Really, really sorry about all of that. But other than that, i hope you enjoy.
I know you've betrayed me.
Those five words stood out against the stark white paper that Catherine Earnshaw, soon to be Linton, gripped in her hands. There was no doubting the penmanship, that fast and careless hand that she had taught when she was little. She would've recognized it anywhere and under any circumstances. Her heart nearly stopped as she slowly sat down onto her bed. This couldn't be. It just simply couldn't. And today of all days. A shiver ran up and down Catherine's spine.
"Miss? Miss, are you ready?" Nelly asked from beyond the bedroom door. Catherine sat, motionless as the flood of memories swarmed her from head to toe. The sounds of Nelly's voice were lost as she could feel his presence pierce her very soul. She heard his voice, not Nelly's.
The word came as a whisper, silently out of her mouth. Even speaking the word felt surreal. She had not mentioned, nor heard his name in three years. Yet there it was.
"Mistress? Are you ready? We must get down to the church this instant," Nelly said as she finally burst into the room.
She took one look at her young mistress and knew something was dreadfully wrong. The usual bright complexion had paled to almost as white as the Lintons' delicate features.
"Catherine? Are you quite alright?" Nelly asked as she approached the bed. Her mistress did not seem to even realize that Nelly was in the room. She moved to lightly touch Catherine on the shoulder when the girl whipped around, her eyes wide with fear, or perhaps anxiety.
"Nelly, who sent this note?" Catherine asked, her voice quite a deathly whisper.
"What does it say? Who is it from?"
"This isn't time for your incessant questions. Tell me who delivered it and what they said when they delivered it," Catherine asked, her spoiled and saucy manner surfacing.
"I shall not say, miss, unless you tell me its contents," Nelly replied, more curious than ever about the particular note which lay crumpled in Catherine's hands.
Catherine grabbed hold of Nelly's shoulders and gave her two good shakes, her dark Earnshaw eyes ablaze with fiery.
"Nelly, if you don't tell me now, I swear to God I will hurt you. TELL ME WHO SENT IT!"
Nelly had never seen her mistress give such a fit, not since Heathcliff left more than three years ago. She was more than a little scared of the power those small hands held.
"It was a…a boy. He came from Gimmerton. He told me some gentleman he met in the village inn told him to give it to you after you've gotten married."
The hold loosened as Catherine took in the new information. Nelly adjusted her frock and her gaze fell on the clock, which was fast closing in on noon. The wedding was in less than half an hour and yet, here they still were. If they didn't hurry, Master Earnshaw was going to get drunk before the ceremony even started.
"After I've gotten married?" were the first whispered words out of Catherine's shocked lips.
"Yes. That's what the lad said. Then he told me that his mother was making him take the sheep to the next village at noon so he didn't have time to wait. He instructed me to deliver the letter only after you've been married. He said he was told to go to the Linton's and hand you the letter personally after your marriage, but he could not wait. I thought it was merely some congratulatory remarks and since there's so many of them delivered today from the village, that I simply forgot about it and left it with the other mail for you. I assumed you would open all of them after the ceremony anyways," Nelly said as she studied Catherine curiously.
What could the letter have possibly been about to work her mistress up to such a temper? Was it possibly from Mr. Linton? No, that was impossible. Mr. Linton would never write something that would shock or upset Catherine so much, and he would never use such stealth to deliver a simple letter. No, Nelly knew that Mr. Linton was not the kind of man for surprises. Who else could it possibly be? Suddenly, the name Heathcliff popped into Nelly's mind. No, that isn't possible, Nelly thought. Heathcliff, by now, was probably long dead.
"You don't have to tell me what the letter is about. Can you please just put on your necklace? We're going to be late, Miss. And the master is going to be drunk any moment if we don't hurry."
The girl did not move. Nelly was more than curious now about the letter and its contents. Just this morning, when Nelly had brought in the stack of mail and her lady's breakfast, Catherine was in quite a cheery mood. She had a bright smile on her face as Nelly fixed her hair and laid out the dress to be worn. It was quite a pretty silk frock, beaded and embroidered from London. The ivory white matched well with Catherine's dark hair and eyes. Mr. Earnshaw was more than willing to buy his sister whatever she needed. His pride and desire to make an alliance with the Lintons rose above his usual greed and disregard for his sister. He was even refraining from drinking anything this morning, which only put him in a sullen mood.
"I must go!" Catherine suddenly yelled, shocking Nelly out of her thoughts.
"Yes you must. Mr. Linton will be waiting for you. The whole town is gathered there. We can't be late for such an event," Nelly replied, but that was not what Catherine had meant.
"Linton?" Catherine asked, forgetting her fiancé, the church and everything else in the world that was unconnected to Heathcliff and the Gimmerton Inn.
"Your fiancé. Catherine, I demand you to tell me what is going on."
Catherine tried to think fast. What could she do? She had no doubts that she must see Heathcliff before she married. She must. She didn't know why. She didn't know whether she would be able to forgive him if she did see him. But those five words stared up accusingly at her. He knew. He knew she was going to get married. He knew that she was going to marry Linton. And yet he wanted her to receive the letter only after she married. Why? Why would he do that? Was this a test? Catherine didn't know, yet she could not stop thinking of these questions. She simply knew that she had to see Heathcliff.
"No, Nelly. I must go to Gimmerton."
"We are going to Gimmerton. The chapel is there."
"No! No! No! Not the chapel. Not Linton! I must go to Gimmerton. You must tell everyone I've fallen sick. Yes! Deathly ill. You must tell everyone," Catherine cried, her mind working again as she got over the initial shock of everything and started to plan. She was getting excited now. If this letter really meant what it meant, then Heathcliff was back. Heathcliff. Simply thinking of his name sent another shiver down her spine.
"I will tell no such falsehood until you tell me what is going on," Nelly said, her eyes shocked at what her mistress was suggesting. She should've said no. She should've told her mistress that she must not miss the wedding. Yet, Nelly's curiosity was getting to her.
Catherine thought fast. She didn't want anyone to know. Was Nelly really to be trusted? But there was no time for that. The only way her plan would work is with Nelly's help.
"Nelly, I know you don't particularly like me. Don't deny it. I know you don't. I'm much too naughty and spoiled for you to like me. But I've grown up with you and you must swear me one thing. You must swear not to tell anyone. Swear, Nelly."
Nelly thought for a second about this, and knew she should say no.
"I swear on the grave of my own mother," Nelly said solemnly.
Catherine thrust the note into Nelly's hands. As Nelly read the five words and tried to figure out what it meant, Catherine looked around her room. She grabbed her old, green dress that Heathcliff had always loved, while she tried to remove the jeweled hairpins.
"What does this mean?" Nelly asked, unable to make head or tails of the letter. "Do you know who it is from?"
"It is from Heathcliff," Catherine said as she sat in front of her vanity, pulling out hairpin after hairpin with alarming speed.
"Heathcliff!" cried Nelly. "How do you know?"
"I taught Heathcliff how to write. I would know his handwriting even if I were blind," Catherine responded as she shook her long, dark curls free from the fashionable London hairdo Nelly had spent more than an hour on. She quickly ran a silver brush through the mass of curls.
"But…but…what does it mean? Why is he writing to you? Is this from Gimmerton? I thought he was dead," Nelly asked, frightened and nervous. Her mistress, on the other hand, was calm and collected as she removed the pearl earbobs that once belonged to Mrs. Earnshaw.
"Yes, it's from Gimmerton. You told me so just a moment ago. He must be in Gimmerton, and he wanted me to read those words only after the wedding. I don't know what they mean, but I will once I go to Gimmerton and ask him."
Those words shocked Nelly out of her questioning paralysis. "Go to Gimmerton?"
"Yes. I must go to Gimmerton and ask Heathcliff at once. You must stall the wedding. Cancel it. Tell everyone I'm deathly ill and I can't possibly attend," Catherine said as she turned around from the mirror and looked into Nelly's eyes. There was a pleading, desperate look that Nelly had never seen before in those dark, once fiery eyes. No longer was the spoiled girl Nelly had seen just this morning. This was a determined woman who would let nothing get in her way, and that kept Nelly from questioning Catherine's judgment of meeting Heathcliff.
"Why not after the wedding?" Nelly asked, as she moved to clean up the mess at the vanity while Catherine struggled to remove her wedding dress.
"Because by then, I would've betrayed him. You saw the letter. It's accusing me of marrying Linton and I want to know why before I go through with it," Catherine reasoned, flinging her white dress aside and quickly donned the forest green dress.
"But what will Mr. Linton think? What will the whole village and your brother think?" Nelly asked.
At the mention of Mr. Earnshaw, a yell rocked Wuthering Heights. "WHERE THE DEVIL IS EVERYONE? CATHERINE? BE DAMNED! JOSEPH! BRING MORE WINE!"
For a moment, both froze. Then Catherine's lips split into a grin. "No need to worry about Hindley. He's drunk as a mule now."
It was the first time in three years Nelly had seen that particular look on Catherine's face. She was either in a snarl at Wuthering Heights, or a simpering, charming doll with the Lintons. Yet there it was: that mischievous, bright smile that reached beyond those beautiful brown eyes. It was a smile that came from deep within her soul.
"The Lintons. The village. We have people coming from over thirty miles away. How can you just not go? What will people say?" Nelly asked.
Catherine seemed annoyed at the question and the smile fell off her face, though her eyes were still bright with joy. "What would you have me do, Nelly? Tell Linton I refuse to marry him? Is that what you want me to do? What would happen if I go to the Inn and find no one there? What would I do then? There would be no Heathcliff, and no Linton. Yet, I can't marry Linton now. If I do, I shall regret it to my dying day."
"Alright," Nelly said quietly as she looked into Catherine's burning, passionate eyes.
"Alright? That's it, Nelly?" Catherine asked, surprised.
"Yes. That's it," Nelly responded. In some ways, Nelly understood Catherine's heart without any words spoken. She may not like the girl, but she knew Catherine through and through. Nelly knew that Catherine was more than in love with Heathcliff. It did take her three years to finally accept Linton's proposal. If she were to marry Linton now, Nelly knew that Catherine was not exaggerating when she said she would regret it for a lifetime. Nelly could not forget that conversation she had with Catherine by the hearth. To Catherine, a world without Heathcliff was no world at all.
"Good. Do not worry so, Nelly. Edgar will not care too much. He is too much in love with me. He did wait three years, didn't he? He will wait a lifetime, if he had to. The villagers will be there any day, as they always have been. It's not like there's much to do in Gimmerton. As for those from more than thirty miles away, I don't know them and therefore, I don't care. Now help me tie my stay, Nelly."
Nelly moved to help with the laces. "But are you to go now? Half the town is already at the chapel. There are celebrations in the village. If I say you're sick, and someone finds you in the Inn, there will be lots of talk. Wait until night, when all has calmed down."
Catherine thought of it. Although every fiber of her being was telling her that she needed to see Heathcliff as soon as possible, she knew that it was much smarter to follow Nelly's suggestion.
"Alright. I shall wait until nightfall."
"Good. Stay confined in your room. Do not go near the windows. There's wedding preparations coming and going, and they can see you from your lattice. I will tell Joseph of your sickness. It is a good thing that the doctor is spending the fortnight in London or we shall be in trouble there. I shall go inform Mr. Linton, and hopefully, he will take care of everything. What shall I tell Mr. Linton?" Nelly asked.
"Tell him…tell him that I'm quite sorry to not be present. Tell him that I really want to go, but I have a fever and cannot stand or talk. But you must also tell him to keep away from Wuthering Heights. Tell him that I do not want him to catch the sickness too, as his parents did. Also tell him that we will be married as soon as I am better. There. That should do it. Go Nelly. Go now."
Nelly took one last look at her mistress, who was staring off into space with a small, secret smile. What was happening? Nelly wasn't sure. Everything had been so perfect this morning, but it seems as though a dark cloud had descended over Wuthering Heights.