Disclaimer: I don't even own the DVD.
A/n: I saw Miss Pettigrew and not only fell deeply in love with the movie, but deeply in love with Lee Pace as well. The idea for this hit me the following day and here it finally is. I want to marry Lee Pace and for anyone else who loves him at all, start watching Pushing Daisies. It was sadly cancelled, but its a completely adorable show and Lee Pace is the star in all his dreamy adorableness. Anyways, enough drooling over Lee. Timeline for this is slightly pre-movie.
The first time I saw her was a little over two years ago. She was hurrying along the boulevard, laden with too many parcels and shopping bags. I was busy brooding, hands deep in my pockets, head down. I'd lost another job that day – some sleazy club owner who no longer had use for a male pianist now that he had scantily clad female dancers. I was busy wondering how I was going to afford supper that night with no paycheck when her shoes came into view. They were these delightful, sparkling turquoise high-heels that I remember so clearly. Then of course was the messy collision of her packages and bags with my body and head, followed by the hasty and awkward apologies while trying to repair the damage done.
"Madam, I am so sorry," I repeated, helping her gather her things.
"Oh, it's quite alright. I wasn't looking where I was going and I'm in such a hurry." She said.
I looked up at her and the wind was knocked from my chest. She was exquisite, with porcelain skin, spectacular blue eyes and a gorgeous cascade of fiery red hair. I managed a wobbly smile and tried to be dashing and charming as I helped her with the rest of her belongings and asked if I could buy her a coffee.
She giggled and it sounded musical to me.
That is when this never-ending saga begins.
I found out her name was Delysia Lafosse – Del-liss-see-ah… oh, how I love the way her name sounds on my tongue! I learned she was an aspiring actress and singer and that she was a gopher and runner on the set of the new Katherine Hepburn movie. I in turn told her all about me. Alright, not all about me. I told her I was a pianist who played in clubs around London and that I was currently in between jobs. I left out the part about how I was dirt poor and dipping into my rent money to pay for our drinks.
We became quite good friends from that point on. She was always so lovely, bright and knew exactly what was on my mind. I fell in love with her quickly – very quickly, for it was not hard to love Delysia. Soon she guessed my feelings – I wasn't exactly subtle – and she seemed to return them.
One night while we lay in bed together, she revealed to me that her real name was not Delysia LaFosse but Sara Grub. She wrinkled her nose prettily as she said it.
"Don't make fun, Michael." She said. "That's why I changed it, you know."
"Sara is lovely name."
"But no one goes to see Sara Grub perform. They go to see the exotic Delysia LaFosse!"
I laughed again then said seriously, "Delysia, Sara… I would love you no matter what your name was."
She smiled and kissed me deeply. "I love you too."
What a damned, bloody fool I am.
When she told me she was an aspiring actress that should have been my first clue. Instead I went full steam ahead, became madly head over in heels in love with her, only to have her break – more accurately shatter – my foolish heart. Repeatedly. Now how dumb does one have to be to continue to love a woman after such things? As dumb as I, I suspect.
First there was Nick. Tall, dark and relatively handsome, I suppose. He walked into the room and he owned it (I could never own a room, I can barely rent one). He was rich, he was a shrewd businessman and he owned his own club. He was the guy everyone wanted to talk to at the party so they could use that connection at a later date should the need arise. Nearly everything was business to him. He had a dark underside, however, and a foul, jealous temper. If things remained business-like, he remained cold. If things became personal, he became vengeful and physical.
Delysia was drawn to him right away though she could never articulate why exactly. He saw her in an audition for an extra in a musical and liked her enough that he wanted her to sing once in a while at his club. In fact he liked her enough to start paying special attention to her, to flirt with her and the like.
I hated him.
"Don't worry, Michael," she'd tell me. "He likes me and I encourage it because it means I get paid well at the club."
I didn't care why she encouraged him but I suppose I understood it. My empty stomach and empty pockets understood too well. When she noticed how shabby my limited sets of clothes were getting, she used her influence with Nick to get me a job as a pianist at his club. I was grateful of course, but embarrassed that I was unable to secure a job myself. I played the good best friend when I was around Nick and Delysia so as not to make Nick jealous or suspicious. It killed me to see his arm around her waist, holding her as if he owned her.
I don't know exactly when they started sleeping together, but it wasn't long before she moved into his flat. He was hardly ever there so it really became Delysia's flat. Her contact with me dwindled though she'd invite me over for drinks occasionally. I'd arrive brooding and heartbroken, sure she loved Nick over me, and always leave somehow reassured that it was me she wanted. She just needed Nick for the time being.
That should've been my second hint. Unless I became rich and owned a club, I wouldn't be as good or powerful as Nick. Of course, I didn't realize that at the time. At the time I believed pretty well anything she told me. She loved me, after all, I would tell myself, and therefore would never lie to me. So I suffered through the long periods of time without seeing her or talking to her, I suffered through looking on as Nick kissed his singer at the club (who sang all the big nights now). I suffered through it all.
And then there was Phillip. Son of a major director, who waltzed into the club as if he owned it (I still couldn't own a room but by now I could at least rent a half-decent one). Bright blue eyes, charmingly wide grin, boyish good looks and money. Lots and lots of money. Whatever he wanted, it was his. If for some reason he couldn't get it himself, his parents would get it for him because he was daddy's boy and mommy's little angel.
I hated him too.
He forgot about the two thin, glamorous women he'd arrived with when he laid eyes on Delysia. All starry-eyed and grinning, he asked her to dance when she was done singing and she said yes. The pair laughed and chatted all night as Nick and I looked on with jealous eyes. When it was over and Phillip had gone, Delysia informed us that Phillip was being given the chance to cast the lead in his father's big upcoming theatre production. She said she knew the way to gain an edge over her ever present rival, one Miss Charlotte "The Rabbit" Warren, was to work herself into Phillip's affections.
Though I thought he would, Nick didn't protest. As long as it didn't become too personal between Phillip and Delysia, she could work on him all she wanted, he said. I refrained from commenting until we were alone that night when I expressed my immediate dislike of the young Phillip.
"You're just being jealous," she laughed.
"Yes! I am!"
"You felt the same way about Nick."
"Feel. I feel the same way about Nick. The way I feel hasn't changed."
She smiled then. This smile she always seemed to save for me: one part innocence, one part amusement, one part affection and all parts alluring. The smile that made me fall in love with her all over again every time she used it. The smile that kept me hanging around instead of seeing with clear eyes and walking away instead of letting myself become so repeatedly heartbroken.
"Oh Michael. You know you're the only one for me."
I now wonder just how many times she'd said those very words to other men. She can't have meant them, because if she had, I wouldn't be where I am now. She would've said "yes". Then, the proposal to end all proposals wouldn't have become the disaster to end all disasters.
It was all romantic and wonderful in theory, of course. A private boat on the Thames at night (that cost me three months of wages), roses, music, champagne, the last of the season's strawberries (another month) and of course, the ring (I won't even admit how long I saved for that). It wasn't the biggest or the fanciest – Nick could probably afford something five times as big and Phillip could get something seven times as fancy – but it was from me. It was a show of all I could give her, which wasn't much, but I loved her and I believed she loved me, and we had this grand idea of us going on the road together, all around London, her singing and me playing the piano… it was all we needed, all we wanted.
Or so I thought.
I asked her to marry me, out on that boat under the stars and the lights of London. I poured my heart out to her. She looked at me with those stunning blue eyes, which were filling with tears, and she hesitated then didn't give me an answer.
I prompted her and she looked away. I dropped my gaze to the ring I had worked so hard to purchase and it suddenly seemed laughably small.
"It's not good enough, is it?" I said sullenly.
"No, it's perfect." She replied quickly.
"Do you love me?"
"Of course I do!"
"Then what is it?" I demanded. "Is it because I'm not Nick?"
"Goodness, no, I would never marry him!"
"I'm not rich enough?"
"Money doesn't matter – "
Delysia glanced around, casting about for a suitable answer to express her thoughts. She turned back to me after an agonizing second or two.
"I don't know." She whispered in a trembling voice.
"Then say yes." I pleaded quietly. "I love you more than anything in this entire world, Delysia. I think I've made that abundantly clear on more than one occasion. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
She nodded and looked over the glistening water of the Thames as the boat bobbed along.
I stared back down at the ring in my hand. It was the ring, I decided, it had to be. It was just too small and pathetic and unworthy of her beauty and stature. How could I have ever thought she'd yes with this junkyard trinket in my palm? Blinking rapidly against the sudden uncomfortable prickling in my eyes, I saw the Tower of London off shore.
Now, I'd had a lot of champagne and was too desperately in love with the woman in front of me to be thinking clearly. At all. Downing a good portion of the bottle of champagne right then couldn't have helped matters.
I abruptly brought the boat to shore and ignored Delysia's apologies for not agreeing to marry me. She tried to make things better, tried to win me back over and I forced myself not to listen or look at her. I clambered out of the boat without waiting for her and I stalked purposefully (though in rather non-linear fashion) down the street. She ran after me and I drowned out whatever she was saying by singing a song we always sang together when we performed. I made a beeline for the Tower's entrance – the guarded entrance. It's pretty easy to surmise what happened next.
I drunkenly tried to fight my way into the Tower to steal the crown jewels in order to "properly" propose to Delysia. I had decided that they were the only jewels that could be good enough for her. She kept hollering at me to stop, that it wasn't the ring - yet she wouldn't tell me what it was that stopped her from saying "yes".
The impromptu trial I was given after I was arrested was very, very quick. I think the judge felt sorry for me after I explained my story, and he took a look at my drunken, shabby state, as he only sentenced me to thirty days bread and water in lockup. As the officers took me away, the judge looked at me with pity in his eyes.
"You'll be together if it's meant to be, son. But realize she didn't yes, so it might be time to move on."
I didn't reply.
These past twenty-seven days, however, I've thought a lot about his words. I've thought of Nick and Phillip. I've thought about glamorous Delysia, with all her parties, fashion shows, clubbing, singing and acting, who once loved me, a pianist barely a step above a homeless beggar. I've thought about how she's managed to have three men in love with her at once. I've thought extensively about that smile she uses on me.
Damned, bloody fool! I curse and punch the stone cell wall. Pain spiders sharply from my knuckles and I forcibly ignore it. A tear escapes unbidden down my cheek.
I want to be angry at her because she has played and manipulated me so many times. I want to shake her and demand why. But even if she has the most dishonorable of intentions, I don't think I could truly be mad at her. I'm the one who let myself fall for her. I'm the one who let her always wash away any doubts I had, over and over again. And even so, even knowing all that, I still believe she truly loves me back. I don't know what's stopping her from admitting it, but I can't give up just yet.
So in three days, I will be released from this dank prison cell. I'm going to give her one more chance, because I love her too much not to. Hopefully while I've been gone, she's gotten over whatever was holding her back before. If she says no, then I'm going to disappear from her life forever. Go somewhere far away and lick my wounds.
And pray I don't die of a broken heart.
A/n: "He is so... exquisite." ;) Thanks for reading! Reviews are like oxygen.