"But how am I supposed to get her attention?" Christian hisses anxiously. Cyrano levels a slightly incredulous glance at him.

"Do you ever read? No, don't answer that; I shudder to think." Smiling faintly at the young man's aggrieved look, the poet stoops and scoops up a few small pieces of gravel. He tosses them up and down lightly as though to test their weight. "Somewhat passe, perhaps, but there is something to be said for tradition." He throws the pebbles at the window above their heads, and ducks under the balcony.

The door opens, clearly audible in the silence, and a tired voice says crossly, "Who is throwing stones?"

He seems to be considering a thought, mind working furiously under that thatch of curls. "I. Christian."

"You have proved that you have nothing to say to me."

"No. No, I have something to say. I love you-not as you would like, perhaps, but well enough! Everyone expects too much from me, or too little...but I think I don't like being my own rival." The boy shows a different kind of courage; emotional courage. His back is straight and his voice steady, despite of the naked loss in his (beautiful) eyes-and Cyrano thinks, not for the first time, that under different circumstances he could have been friends with the little Baron. "I would love to win your love. Not like this." He takes a deep breath and looks straight at Cyrano, who shakes his head, eyes wide. Christian ignores the silent plea and looks back upwards at Roxanne. "Those letters? I didn't write them. The man who did is here."

"Christian!" Cyrano hisses, dragging him under the balcony out of sight, but the smaller man pulls his arm firmly out of his grasp.

"No, Cyrano. You are the one who is good with words-I'll let you explain to her about your game of letters." He is bitter, understandably so; but the well-shaped mouth pulls into a rueful smile. "If it is a game," he finishes, very quietly. Stepping out from under the balcony, he sweeps a perfectly correct bow at them both and moves away-head bowed but back straight.

"Well?" comes Roxanne's voice, sharp yet wrought with curiosity. "Is the ghost writer here?"

"Yes. Yes, I am here."

His voice is almost silent, and she laughs at him, harsh as a woman scorned, or perhaps toyed with. "Are you so shy now, Ghost? You were bold enough in your letters."

"I was not fighting gravity in my letters," he says, finding a little courage in a duel of words. (perhaps, he thinks, something like Christian's "soldier's wit".) "You see, your words are heavy, and fall easily enough into my ear; mine must claw their way up the trellis, like a robber, breaking in where they were not invited."

"Why would someone invite whom they do not know?"

"How would one come to know another if they never invited him in?" he counters. "You see, we could proceed in this manner for hours; chasing one's tail is charming enough in dogs, perhaps, but not the poet or the precieuse."

She is silent for a long, long, long minute. When she speaks there is a strange note in her voice like a new idea waking and rubbing the sleep from its eyes. "Your voice, Ghost...your voice reminds me of the voice of my cousin."

"I am sorry to hear that."

"Why would you be sorry?"

"Your cousin has been accused of many, many things during his life, Roxanne...but never has anyone accused him of being a truly happy man."

She speaks so softly he strains to hear: "Why would my cousin be unhappy?"

Cyrano sighs, and allows the silent tree to bear him up. "I hate to speak for him," he says with forced casualness. "Your cousin is a very complex man."

"Try," she says dryly: beneath the confusion and hurt pride, there is a hint of something familiar-that old mixture of exasperated affection. It is probably this that coaxes the words forth.

"What is he?" he finally bursts forth. "What is any man, that he would claim to be worthy of you? What has any man, lacking the blood of a god in his veins, that would render him worthy of your notice?"

"I would like the man that I love to be honest," she says tartly, but there is a slight shake in her voice.

"And beautiful."

She squeezes her eyes shut against the resigned emotion in the words. "Shhhh," she says, and folds her fingers over her mouth as if to silence him with the gesture, but he is relentless now that he has begun.

"You asked for honesty," he says softly, intensely, with a hairline fracture of vulnerability. (one of these three things, or all of them, making her shiver) "If I lack honesty, cousin, it is because I lack beauty."

Neither of them notice that he has abandoned the pretense of anonymity, or perhaps both of them pretend not to notice.

She smooths the faint tremble in her lips with pale fingers. "You will make me quite ashamed of myself."

"That is not my wish," he says caressingly.




The little priest bustles about his preparations, and Cyrano finds himself twisting his hat's brim between his hands.

"It is not too late," he says softly. "Christian is still here; and I am sure that I could convince the priest that the change makes sense."

She laughs a little, looking surprised at herself for doing so. "You could convince a mouse that he was a lion, I think, cousin. But no. It is best this way."

"I would do anything for your happiness, Roxanne. But I don't think I am brave enough for this."

"We are friends, are we not?" she says, and softens it with a sad smile. They both think of that disastrous day in the pastry shop; the words still hurt, and she doesn't know how to prevent that: but now at least she realizes that they hurt.

"Yes, Roxanne." She will be the end of him, but he can't bring himself to regret it.

"We love each other, in...in our ways."

He lowers his head so that the brim of his hat hides his eyes. "Yes, Roxanne."

She lifts his chin with her hand and looks at him with grave eyes. "I am perhaps not as insightful as I have always believed, but I am no fool. And you, my brave poet, are even less of a fool than I. Things will work out. I don't know how, or when or where...but we will come to an understanding, you and I."

Cyrano doubts her words, but exults at the wisdom he sees taking root where mostly wit had grown. (How does she do it, this girl / woman / love-he thinks that he cannot possibly love her more but each day it settles deeper, grows stronger, leaves him thrilled and frightened by the threat and promise of it.)

When the priest calls them forward to begin the ceremony, it is Roxanne who reaches out to take her bridegroom's hand. Cyrano carefully folds his fingers around hers, and the fit is as good as with the handle of his saber.