Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me. All dialogue is taken from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
Author's Note: Just something I wrote for class. Let me know how it is. And to those following my Twilight stories, I deeply apologize for updating nothing in the last three months. College is crazy! Winter break, I promise!
A touch of my heel and my steed started, reared and proceeded to gallop away. I winced as my ankle gave another painful throb. Damn that girl sitting on that stile and startling my horse!
She was the governess... I now remembered Mrs. Fairfax's hesitant suggestion before I had left, that perhaps it was time I engage someone to instruct Adele. I had told her, reasonable woman that she was I trusted her to find someone suitable.
The creature was different... Bold even, I might say. I had met my share of forward women yet she was unlike them. Her forthrightness had none of the more distasteful female wiles that I had been subjected to over the past. On the contrary she was modest and offered to help me in a manner that most women would shirk from. Interested to see what she would do, I asked her to lead my horse to me though I could have instead asked for the assistance of her shoulder at once. And yet she did not try to evade it but proved to obey my command albeit failing. I couldn't help but be slightly impressed.
I thought about my parting comment to her, to make haste and return home and I realized I was confused as to why I had uttered it. Was I worried about the girl? Hardly. If she took it upon herself to walk the long trek it was not my duty to assure her safety. Was I impatient to see her again? There was a flash of intelligence I noticed in the dark eyes that drew me to her...
I shook my head. What was the matter with me? I had vowed to never make the mistakes I had made in the past, again. I had enough women willing to throw themselves at me, or rather, at the many comforts my money could buy them and I did not plan to invest in an emotional attachment with any of them. She was the governess, an employee and would remain that way. Another member of my staff to serve me when she was not attending to her primary duty of educating my ward.
I approached the house and glanced at it indifferently. It was my house, certainly and a handsome house at that but it was not my home. My mood grew darker as I led my horse through the front gate. Every thought and part of my life I tried to escape from, all the gloom and melancholy that tormented me to the brink of madness existed within these walls.
I did not anticipate my return.
Her name was Jane Eyre. A simple name for an obviously simple girl. That she was frugal and expected very little did not surprise me. Hers it seemed had been a hard life. Yet she was none the worse from that experience. It possibly did her some good and schooled her in discipline.
There was something she was not being entirely truthful about. I could hear the subtle tightness in her voice when I questioned her lack of family and friends. The traces of hardship were evident in her manner yet she had a resigned almost indifferent air that never left her face as if she were suppressing...something inside. I could see it in her surprisingly artistic paintings as well. They were a mixture of hope and despair.
It intrigued me. And it irked me that it intrigued me. The girl was irritatingly not intimidated by me at all. Why this young girl should interest me so much was unfathomable and I barked at her to put Adele to bed to conceal my confusion.
She saved my life.
If it were not for Jane's quick thinking by now, I would have been incinerated in my bed. It was her. It was always her. She hovered in my life like a black fiend, destroying what little peace I tried to build for myself. The little sliver of peace that Jane had brought...
And now, she was preparing to leave my chambers without a word from me. I could see it in her face; she neither expected my gratitude nor craved it.
In that moment, in my devastated and scorched room, I realized just how much I desired her to want a word of acknowledgement from me. Did her nonchalant attitude mean she did not care how I felt about it? Of course it did, I was her master after all. But would she be wounded if I didn't respond to her act of courage?
I had to stop her, ask her, "What! Are you quitting me already: and in that way?"
"You said I might go, sir," she said, softly.
"But not without taking leave; not without a word or two of acknowledgement and good will: not, in short, in that brief, dry, fashion. Why, you have saved my life! – snatched me from a horrible and excruciating death! – and you walk past me as if we were mutual strangers! At least shake hands," I implored her.
I held out my hand and as she placed her small, soft hand in mine, I had an epiphany.
I loved her.
This girl, this woman standing before me, with her innocent eyes and trusting heart had captured my very being from the moment I had laid eyes on her, sitting on the stile, that winter afternoon. The unexplainable pull to while away the time and converse with her suddenly became clearer and I was staggered at the force of my feeling.
I clasped her other hand in both of mine and said, "You have saved my life: I have pleasure in owing you so immense a debt. I cannot say more, Nothing else that has being would have been tolerable to me in the character of the creditor for such an obligation: but you; it is different; - I feel your benefits no burden, Jane."
I gazed long at her, willing to convey my feelings for her through my eyes.
"Good night, again, sir. There is no debt, benefit, burden, obligation in the case."
"I knew you would do me good in some way, at the same time – I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not – did not strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing. People talk of natural sympathies; I have heard of good genii: - there are grains of truth in the wildest fable. My cherished preserver, good night!"
Indeed that was what she was. Here, tonight to save me from death, here in my life to save me from myself.
"I am glad I happened to be awake," she murmured before turning to leave.
"What! You will go?" No, I wanted to say, Stay with me. I wanted to crush her to me, keep her with me and never let go.
"I am cold, sir," she said.
"Cold?" I said, as if coming out of a dream. "Yes, – and standing in a pool! Go then, Jane go!" And yet I did not release her, could not release her.
"I think I hear Mrs. Fairfax move, sir," she said.
"Well, leave me," I said, finally releasing her fingers. She was gone in an instant.
I sank down on a chair and breathed heavily. Oh what folly was mine that I had to love her? What madness was it to even indulge in the fantasy that she would be mine one day? For I would not be content with simply having her. No, I wanted to possess her, own her, make her solely mine and see my name at the end of hers.
And yet how could I? How could I ask her to be mine with her living upstairs?
I let out a growl of frustration. Jane was everything she was not. For her black nature, Jane had one that was untouched and pure as possible. Must I be saddled with the devil and crave the angel?
And yet, how could Heaven recognize my past? There was nothing remotely good about it. My mind wandered to what Hope had told me that fateful day in Jamaica, "That woman....is not your wife nor are you her husband."1 I did not consider us married, therefore I was free. Free to love and free to be loved. And in due course I would tell Jane about my past. I would not conceal it from her always. She should know, so that she would be able to see more clearly how much I valued her, how wondrously wholesome and untainted she was.
I watched daylight break with a more hopeful feeling in my heart than I had felt in years.
She said yes.
My heart was lighter than it had been in a long time. There was hope, there was happiness and a lifetime of content ahead of me, ahead of us. Never had I felt more loved and more whole and never had I been willing to adore and cherish anyone as much as I did Jane. The surge of protectiveness that swelled in my chest whenever she was in my arms surprised even me. For the first time in my life, I was loved not for my money or for my title. I knew not what my Jane saw in me but I prayed she would see it always. Unlike other women in my life, I wanted to shower Jane in riches and comforts. I wanted to treat her as if she were royalty. Perhaps it was because she never asked for anything but my love. She was even willing to allow me to marry Blanche Ingram because she believed I cared for her. My selfless Jane! Her soul was a breath of fresh air in my stained life, rejuvenating and strengthening me.
Four weeks.... and then we would be married. Two souls who would capture the very essence of what it meant to be man and wife. The feel of her soft lips, of her graceful body pressed against my own, the mix of girlish inexperience and budding womanly ardour made me heady and impatient with desire to love her in the most passionate way possible.
Four weeks....and then an eternity of peace.
The swiftness at which one's Fate can change astounds me. But should I be surprised? I should have known that happiness and love were fruits forbidden to me. Should have grasped that souls like mine were not meant to love souls like hers.
I was a damned fool! This was my punishment for assuming I could go against laws of Heaven... But why, God, why was I not allowed to have one bit of happiness in my life? I had wronged no one, and yet was cursed to carry this cross forever. A wife who did not love me, mistresses who loved my money, nothing and no one who cared solely for me save one girl. One girl whose hazel eyes pierced my rough exterior and saw the broken man within and whose smile nearly brought me to my knees. A partner, a lifelong companion whose presence determined my sanity...
And she was gone... Gone without notice, without one word of farewell. Was my presence now too repulsive to her? Was she forever disgusted by my behaviour? Was there no hope for redemption in her eyes?
I was a monster. A soulless, black monster!
The pain was crippling, incapacitating. Her absence was painfully evident no matter how intoxicated I would get. Nothing, nothing would distract me! Was it not enough that she had left, was I not even allowed the mercy of a drunken unconsciousness?
Jane... Where are you now Jane? Do you think of me? Are you well? Are you happy?
I asked her to live in sin with me. Guilt coursed through my veins as I recalled that moment and for a moment I believed she was going to agree. But that was wishful thinking. She was much too virtuous to transgress any law, of God or man.
But I implore you Jane, understand why I asked you that. Life without you is no life at all. I was never living at all until you walked into my world, a fearless, good angel. I need you, I am nothing without your affection and your trust in me. You, only you saw me as a person worth loving, only you can give me that peace I so desperately need. My life has been one black event after the other. I need serenity, Jane... I need you... This pain is like a fire, burning and consuming me. I cannot bear it...
The flames grow hotter and hotter and I struggle to breathe. Perhaps this was the end. Perhaps God was answering my prayers and I was dying. I wanted nothing more. Living was too wearisome.
My eyes snap open and it takes moments to realize that the choking sensation I feel is from the smoke pervading my room. A yellow glow is visible from underneath my door and I hear a high cackle of chillingly, triumphant laughter.
That God exists I now fully believe. That He forgives and restores peace also I believe.
She came back to me. My Jane, my little English girl, she came back to me. I am now less than half the man I used to be, useless, damaged, and completely dependent on her, yet I feel her love in every caress, in every word, in every kiss. I do not deserve her forgiveness or her understanding but I cannot let her go again, ever. That I will not survive.
Our pasts were behind us. We had both walked through flames to reach this new place of tranquil and harmony. Sometimes the nightmares haunt me, grip me in an icy grasp of fear. But I have an angel guarding me, soothing my sweaty brow with sweet, tender murmurs and soft kisses, reassuring me that I am safe, that I am loved.
My heart is hers and I have surrendered to her healing touch. Slowly I am mending, the cracks within me disappearing as each day passes. Even though I still cannot see well, never have I had clearer insight as to what is most important. My wife, our child and the life of love we have built.
A/N: Hope you like it. And please, please leave a review.... =D