A Hole in the River

By: vcatrashfiend

Summary: Someone takes the road less travelled, and the end result puts two rivals on equal footing. A story fraught with lost identity, surprise invitations, and male posturing!

Rated: T

Disclaimer: All characters identifiable with 'Pygmalion' and 'My Fair Lady' clearly do not belong to me, and I am certainly not making any money off of this creation. My only compensation is reviews, so pray don't be stingy!


Prologue

Eliza Doolittle gripped her reticule in one hand, and her suitcase in the other as she peered out into the night. Sure enough, that foolish boy from Ascot was standing outside the front door, looking wistful and quite cold. Eliza rolled her eyes and snorted; what a fool! Didn't he know that he could do far better than she? Ah well. It would do no good for him to see her out and about, it would ruin everything. Eliza lifted her chin, squared her shoulders, and headed for the kitchen. She would simply have to sneak out the back.

As soon as Eliza was out in the night air, she hazarded a backwards glance. It seemed her exodus had gone unnoticed. Perhaps the events of the evening had rendered Eliza completely invisible. The dark thought was one of many others that Eliza found herself mulling over, each as bitter as raw chocolate. Tears burned at the corners of her eyes, and Eliza raised a hand to angrily rub them away. It was time for action, not tears. But first…

Once Eliza was safely several blocks away from 27A, she hailed a taxi. The cabbie gave her a queer sort of look when she calmly requested a ride to Covent Garden. After all, she gave every appearance of being the genteel sort, and it was a dangerous part of town to wander around in at three in the morning on the weekend. However, Eliza promised a generous tip, and all misgivings became invalid.

The taxi came to a halt near the market, all but deserted and ghostly in the moonlight. Eliza paid the driver, who issued a quick warning before driving off. A few of Eliza's old friends stood, warming their hands over a contained fire. The familiar sight tugged at Eliza's heart, and with a smile, she walked over to their comfortable little group. To her dismay, the men gave a start when they saw her. She could not discern any recognition in their faces, rather an awed sort of reverence. Defeated, and unwilling to reveal her identity, Eliza walked away.

It seemed not moments after her run-in with the familiar-yet-unfamiliar acquaintances, the shock not fully worn off, Alfred Doolittle strolled back into her sphere, donning coattails and a silk top hat. Eliza listened intently to his tale of new riches and marital woe; he was finally being forced to make an honest woman out of Eliza's long suffering "step-mother". It was further revealed, once Alfred got an inkling of Eliza's rupture with Henry Higgins, that he was unwilling to help Eliza in any capacity, not that she would ever ask assistance of him. Eliza had learned at the tender age of fifteen, that in order to survive in the world, she'd best rely on things other than her father; namely herself. They parted on the promise that Eliza would not be attending the ceremony, even though she sent her fondest wishes for his marital bliss.

Eliza retreated from the market, and headed to St. Paul's, where she left her suitcase in the jumble box, and said a hasty prayer. She would not need clothes where she was heading, fine though they were. Eliza managed a dark chuckle, when she thought of what the poor would say when they pulled her expensive French ball gown from the box in the morning. Perhaps someone would have better luck in it than she.

The Waterloo Bridge loomed ahead, and Eliza took a deep breath before picking up the pace. One should not drag their feet en route to destiny. Once Eliza was standing on the bridge, the first order of business was to unlace her boots. It didn't occur to her to wonder why she found such an act necessary, it merely was. Grunting, she pulled herself up onto the ledge and sat for a while. In the distance she could see Cleopatra's Needle, pointing towards the sky. Eliza learned about the Egyptian queen when Henry read to her from the works of William Shakespeare, and at the time, the woman's final act had seemed to forbidding to Eliza. Yet, months later, Eliza was perched above the Thames river, shivering, bootless, and filled with purpose. She no longer belonged to any world on the earthly plain, and the river's gaping black maw was beckoning.

Eliza took a deep breath, rocked back to gain momentum and then… No. Call her cowardly, but Eliza found herself quite unwilling to take the plunge.

"I will go to Mrs. Higgins in the morning, and ask her for advice," Eliza informed the night air.

Eliza turned, too quickly in her eagerness to return to solid ground, twisting an ankle in the process. The pain caused her to cry out, and she lost her balance, hitting her head on the ledge before succumbing to the chilly, filthy embrace of the Thames. Eliza knew no more.