NOTE: I wrote this story for a final assignment in one of my upper-year university class, and since my Prof really liked it, I decided to post it.

**I decided to explore the development of minor characters, namely Adèle and Frederick, who I think deserved a bit more face time than they received.

Adèle Varens Rochester

April 13th, 1857

Dearest Adèle,

I hope that your stay in London with my cousin Diana has been a most pleasant one. Your father and I have missed your company as have your brothers, who send their warmest regards and their love to you. I do hope that you have spent your time in not only the delights of town, but also improving upon your acquaintances and your private faculties, especially in song and the piano. Your beautiful little songs are much missed by your father and I.

We have finally settled into Etongrove Manor, which is a rather large house for my taste, but you know how your father is, and so we have settled remarkably well, with both your brothers seeming to approve of the change. There are, of course, plenty of rooms for you and your possible acquaintances to remain with us, and I am sure you will love the beautiful drawing room with its French doors that open to the beautiful garden. I fell in love with the garden upon seeing it and thought of you immediately, my dearest daughter. I know that you will love to frequent the little pond with your brothers in the little striped boat, which we have brought with us in hopes of your anticipated return to us.

Etongrove Manor is in a small little hamlet named Currskell just within sight of the tall chimneys of Milton, an industrial but profitable town. Your father is much pleased with both my suggestions of remaining outside of the heavily-polluted city and investing in the factories so that both Nathaniel, Lucas, and you, my dear Adèle, might each have the equal opportunity of a life of comfort. Most surprisingly, though, the landlord or should I say landlady, and her husband both live in Milton and are both quite young to have control of such vast property. We have dined with them at their rather lovely home twice and they at Etongrove once, and the Thorntons seem to be a most agreeable and polite couple, both being very intelligent. I am sure you will like them very well indeed when you are introduced.

I must finish this letter to you now, my dear, for your father is feeling quite neglected by me, as is his nature when I am too long spent on something else. But I do hope that you were able to find success in your endeavours to locate your birth mother while in France with Captain and Mrs Fitzjames, though I do hope you remember that your English parents love you ever so much, though they be but adopted ones.

Many happy wishes to your health and safety on your travels, and we wish to see you as soon as ever.

Regards and love,

J. Rochester &c.&c.

I kissed the letter fondly and could almost smell the distinct fragrance of soap and linen that was my old governess, my friend, and my mother. After Miss Eyre had become Mrs Rochester, she had asked me if I would like to be her daughter, her adopted daughter, and the happiness in me seemed endless. Though I had been proud of my name as Varens for many a time, I admit I was a foolish and stupid child, and have come to love my name as Rochester far more than anything else. The teasing Mr Rochester has become my father and the kind Miss Eyre had become my mother, all was well.

The twenty years of my parents' marriage has been a whirlwind of time and, as my mother loves to tell me, I have grown into quite an accomplished lady and lost that which she calls my 'French defects' of which I am very glad. I flatter myself that I am much older and wiser in my withered twenty-six years and am wholly thankful for my English education as it has made me much more aware of myself in relation to the world around me. I see the near perfect marriage and love between my parents and know that I want what they have for each other more than anything else in my life. The frivolous pointless lifestyle I had been accustomed to in France with my mother has now been placed in the past, and I yearn for a rational and a happy life of love.

The carriage was much too rocky for me to hope for any rest, so I placed my mother's letter in my pocket for safekeeping and continued to watch the landscape passing by. The move North was a bit disquieting to me after being so accustomed to my Southern lifestyle in London, but I knew that seeing my family would put all other vexations to the side. I longed to see my wonderful younger brothers, and have my Mr Rochester tease me in French. Though my Aunt Wharton and Aunt Fitzjames were the most amiable company alternately, they were not to me what Nathaniel and Lucas were, my brothers in every way but blood.

Another few miles and I would be home with my family in our new estate, which I had never seen.. Though it would never be the fortress that Thornhill was to me, nor the quaint ut dilapidated abode of Ferndean, I was happy to live somewhere new and exciting, where new friends were to be made. Nathaniel always said it was the French in me that made me capable of forming new acquaintances, and I hoped he was right, for I very much wished to be happy in Currskell. The society would naturally be very limited when compared to London, but after being accustomed to the fawning of my mother's suitors in Paris and then the isolation of Thornhill, I knew I could endure anything—even the people of the Industrial North.

The road to Etongrove Manor was lined with leafy trees that fed my imagination of a mysterious and hidden manor with all sorts of secrets to be found. But as the carriage rounded the lane that brought me in view of my new home, I found that it was a meticulously groomed estate with a neatly built building. The manor itself was a pretty brown stone and appeared to be large enough to fit several Rochester families within, and perhaps a half-dozen couches as well.

My mother, father, two brothers and even the new housekeeper, Mrs Virgil, were all waiting for me with ready smiles on the gravel. The carriage stopped and I was refused to exit on my own as Nathaniel quickly pulled me out and swung me around in a hug.

"You've grown, sister."

I laughed, "Yes, but not as much as you have. You are as tall as father now."

Nathaniel smiled proudly as our father grumbled something about 'fairy blood' and then Lucas was swinging me around in an embrace as well so I could comment on his latest growth in height.

"I am very glad you are home, Adèle, as is your father."

A familiar 'harumph' was heard from Mr Rochester, which gladdened me much more than it ought, with the familiarity of people that I had come to love quite dearly.

As we made our way into the manor, I let Nathaniel and Lucas lead me into the drawing room while my mother had our father holding her elbow to guide him through the still unfamiliar rooms. We knew that our father's sight had bettered enough that he could manoeuver around the rooms with relative ease—but it was also known that our father did not like being very far from his wife if he could help it, and as taking her elbow was no inconvenience to her, it had become yet another little familiarity that drew me to my family.

"We are to dine with the Thorntons this evening, Adèle. I know you have just arrived and would have preferred to a private reunion but—"

"Nonsense, Jane," interrupted my father with a rough chuckle, "Adèle has always been fond of fancy dinners and this one is no exception. I am right, am I not?"

He was right, as always, and I nodded with a smile. Though many of my 'French defects' had been remedied, there were some things that a woman such as I could never refuse—a fancy dinner party with new friends was no exception.

The carriage ride that brought me my first view of Milton was dirty, smelled heavily of smoke and made me quite afraid to step out of the carriage My family seemed already accustomed to the incredible change in lieu and I knew that I would have to do the same. The Thornton residence was right next to their main factory mill, a noisy and smoking edifice that frightened me more than the bustle and noise of London's working quartier.

We were greeted kindly by a servant and then shown into a well-furnished and tidy drawing room where there was already a number of people.

"Mr and Mrs Rochester, we are pleased you could come. Please, come in."

"Thank you, we have brought our daughter who has just come from London with us."

I smiled politely with 'How do you do' to both Mr and Mrs Thornton, a young and handsome couple and likely newly married with the way Mr Thornton stood beside Mrs Thornton, his gaze never leaving her for more than necessary. Mr Thornton was probably no more than five and thirty, and Mrs Thornton likely only a couple years my junior—but evidently an intelligent and happy couple.

"Miss Rochester, may I introduce to you my cousin who has recently returned to me from the Continent and is the manager of the factory your parents have invested upon, Frederick Desmond. Frederick, may I introduce Miss Adèle Rochester, the adopted daughter of Mr Rochester."

Mr Desmond was a very handsome and very agreeable man, no more than five and thirty with a handsome countenance, though rather reserved in his conversation. I had only managed to express the conventional questions of conversation when Mr Thornton approached bringing another handsome young man who appeared to be the same age as both Mr Thornton and Mr Desmond.

"Miss Rochester, if you will excuse me, but my wife's cousin by marriage desired to be introduced to you. May I present, Mr Henry Lennox."

I smiled in greeting to Mr Lennox who was equally as handsome as Mr Desmond but far more agreeable in his lively conversation. My mother noticed the two gentlemen standing with me and I noted how she leant towards my father to tell him, only to see his brow furrow and a disapproving look cross his dark features. My father, Mr Rochester, was not a man who liked to share that which belonged to him—especially when it was his daughter who was still quite eligible.

Nathaniel seemed to have noticed my need of conversational assistance and manoeuvrerd his way into our little triangle, much to my immediate relief. Though he teased me on my French abilities to conversate, I admit that even I could find it difficult to continue conversation with two handsome gentlemen looking at me in a way that meant they seemed to approve of my company far more than they ought.

"Dinner is ready."

With the servant's pronouncement, I was embarassed to find both Mr Desmond and Mr Lennox's elbow extended to me as escort to the dining room. Without Nathaniel to ease my mortification with a joke and his own elbow, I was forced into the situation of choosing. Both men looked at the other wish an acknowledgement of the situation, and much to my shame I chose the defective French method and received both their elbows. A well-placed soft laugh and a coy smile to each of them, and I was happily escorted into the dining room by two gentlemen, much to the good humour of my brothers, the Thorntons, and my mother.

"So, Miss Rochester, how long were you in town before coming to Milton?" Mr Thornton's mother seemed the sort of woman who desired to be informed on all circumstances, mine being no exception.

"I reside with my mother's cousins alternately throughout the year and return to my father's house selected months at a time. There is no set season I am in London, only when my company is not necessarily required by my family, I suppose."

Mrs Thornton seemed to approve of my answer, though it was difficult for me to tell with her unwavering stern expression. I could tell she thought I was old, much too old, to be still unmarried, but since neither of my parents' seemed to find it an offendable circumstance, neither did I. I admit, six and twenty was an advanced age for a husband-less situation, especially when my father's estate would leave me with an agreeable recommendation for marriage, but that was neither here nor there.

"You are quite fortunate to have the luxury of a well-disposed family, Miss Rochester, but I do hope you do not intend to leave Milton too soon."

There was a quiver in the younger Mrs Thornton's voice that I could not place, but she recovered quickly and I noticed the quick upward look of Mr Desmond and Mr Thornton towards her. A little missing knowledge that I had missed in the comment, but it was apparent that Mr Desmond and Mr Thornton were well-acquainted with the circumstances. It was none of my business, but my curiosity was horribly piqued to know what had caused the alteration in her voice and the countenance of her eyes.

"Yes, my mother and father have ever been kindness and love towards me."

The slight clink of silver against china by Mrs Thornton, and then her husband immediately redirected the conversation as the plates were being cleared and the party were being summoned to the parlour where coffee, music and conversation were to be had. I was among the last to exit the room, but I saw as Mrs Thornton carefully exited the room followed by Mr Desmond. I hoped that I had not made offence and wished to apologize in haste to Mrs Thornton, and quietly followed their path upstairs to another room.

The door was left only slightly ajar, but I could clearly see Mrs Thornton, on her knees and in tears with her face buried against Mr Desmond's shoulder as he tried to comfort her.

"Don't cry, little goose. You have been so strong all these years. Dear Margaret, you are even more beautiful with tear-stained cheeks and red eyes."

Mrs Thornton choked back a sob with a soft laugh and then Mr Desmond handed her a cloth to wipe her face as he kissed her head softly.

The intimacy between them, the familiarity, and even the way they looked at each other deeply, told me that they were far more than cousins. My mind shouted Amants! but a corner of my heart wished it could not be true. Four hours had passed upon my introduction to Mr Desmond and I already refused the idea of his heart being taken. The feelings in my chest and in my head were foolish and I hated that he made me feel reckless and irrational—but his quiet sophisticated way of speaking, his eyes yearning to speak to someone with compassion as his emotions conflicted with the other, made me want to reach out to him more and claim his troubled heart for my own.

The wood beneath my foot creaked and both Mr Desmond and Mrs Thornton looked up sharply. I was not so English that I could walk away from such a scene, and instead I quietly stepped into the room.

"I apologize for the interruption, but I had been afraid that I had offended Mrs Thornton at dinner and wanted to make my apologies. I will leave."

I turned to leave but both figures whispered for me to stop. "Fred, think of how this must look—again! The last time we were caught together like this, John thought that you were my lover. Just explain it to her. She can be trusted; your secret would be safe with her."

Secrets were safe with me, but I was not aware of my ability to keep the secrets of new acquaintances—however, the trust Mrs Thornton held in her eyes towards me, and the look of hopeful trust in Mr Desmond's convinced me that I could help and that I could understand better than anyone else.

"Miss Rochester, Margaret and I are not distant cousins, we are in fact brother and sister. I am a convict, a mutineer of the British Navy, though wrongfully accused so. My sister and I, especially Margaret, has suffered much loss and your obvious love for your family reminded us of our still fresh pain at the loss of our dear parents, and two very good friends. Margaret has helped me acquire documents to return to England under ther guise of Desmond so that we might comfort one another in our grief. Please, Miss Rochester, you must understand—"

"I do understand, more than anyone. Please know that you can trust me, both of you." I wanted them both to trust me, I could see their suffering and I wanted to allieve it. Living my life knowing that I had been abandoned by my mother for a life of folly, only to die of disease in an brothel, had shown me that being with those who loved and cared for you was what was most important. I was fortunate enough to have the Rochesters who loved me so.

Mrs Thornton smiled and stepped out of her brother's arms and hugged me to her. "I knew you were good. I saw it in your eyes the moment you entered my home. You will be a great comfort to not only me, but to my brother as well, who suffers far greater than I, and in deeper silence."

The door to the room opened again further and entered Mr Thornton, whose expression was both curious and then turned desperately concerned as he hurried to his wife. "Margaret, what happened?"

"Just a few tears, it was nothing."

Mr Thornton held her close and I noticed the exchanged look of mutual understanding between the two men. So much goodness within one household—with the exception of the elder Mrs Thornton, as she intimidated me with her severity—and I could feel that my move to Etongrove and so close to Milton, would be a good one.

As Mrs Thornton was led away by her comforting husband, only Mr Desmond and I remained in the room. He walked to the window and stared out at the hazy town of noise and smoke.

"I have known you but for an evening, Miss Rochester, and yet the ache in my heart has lessened so that I could feel its beating again."

My breath caught and I willed myself to approach the window, though not so near as to be entirely beside him. He turned from the window to look at me, his eyes gazing into mine, and I felt myself see things so much more clearly. Despite his handsome gentlemanly features, the pain had marked itself quite clearly in the set of his jaw and the furrow at his brow where his eyes had probably once been quite easy.

"You have lost much more than your sister, haven't you?"

He nodded, and dropped his head into one of his hands as the other braced himself against the window casement. "Far too much. Far, far too much."

"You were married once before, weren't you?"

He looked up in surprise as my accurate guess, his eyes brightened by the tears still brimming near the edge. I removed the small handkerchief and offered it to him politely, and he accepted, his rough fingers lingering against my soft ones a moment longer.

"Dolores died during childbirth back in Spain. It was too great a loss for me to remain away from my sister, my only family left to me."

"Family can be found in those who care, I have learnt that from the Rochesters."

"Neither are your parents?"

I shook my head and he did not pursue the topic further.

"I would be very grateful to you, Miss Rochester, infinitely so, if you could be a comfort to my sister. She has endured far more than she ought to for someone so young and so gentle. Left alone for far too long that I feel, even with my presence, it is not enough to heal the wounds in her heart."

He looked at me again, his hand seeking mine. He clasped my hand firmly, this brush of his thumb against the back of my hand made the flutters of my heart beat wildly within my ears. "I will do as best I can, for you and for her."

That seemed to please him and he sighed in relief, though what relief my comment made I knew not for certain, but he brought my hand to his lips, and gently kissed it. His other hand brushed an errant strand of hair from my face, lingering at my cheek and then I knew our acquaintance had changed with the way he looked at me.

"We had better return to the parlour, Mr Desmond—"

"Frederick Hale. That is my name, Adèle."

"Frederick, we cannot linger for too long before even my father will become impatient."

"Your father has an eyepatch and a gloved wooden hand."

I laughed, I could not help it though it was cruel in jest. "Yes, well, though my father may appear physically deficient, I would not let that hold complete sway. And as for my mother, just know that she has tamed Mr Rochester, which is nigh impossible but for her fairy blood."

He laughed playfully and then nodded, leading me towards the stairwell and watching me leave as he likely took another set of stairs. When I entered the parlour again, I had managed to control the flutterings of my heart and the rising blush against my cheeks.

"It is a labyrinthine house, I'm afraid, Miss Rochester. I hope you did not get lost?"

I smiled at the now composed Mrs Thornton, who was seated by the fire with another lady, and I shook my head.

"I was admiring a lovely piano in one of the adjacent rooms and I admit I was quite envious of such a fine instrument."

The room erupted in exclamations of whether I played and if I might indulge the company with a few airs, to which my father nodded with approval. And so I sat in the adjacent room with the piano, the doors open so that the party in the parlour could hear me play and sing, all the while Frederick was standing across from me, out of sight and smiling as I sang to him.