CHAPTER 4 - CONCLUSION
She gasped, blotted her eyes then blew her nose. "Oh, you poor dears" Mrs. Aberline whimpered softly, straightening her back and breathing in deeply. "You are so right, Gwen. You could have had such a lovely life together. And now …" she reached over to gently touch the young woman's stomach, "Your child will never know its father."
"One way or another it will." Gwen reassured, softly. She put her hand on Emma's and smiled mildly, appreciating the woman's sympathy, yet also understanding it may be somewhat misplaced, "This baby will be loved and brought up well, even if it will only be by its mother and Grandfather. Which, when you think about it, is more then some families can offer with both a mother and father present." Her tone was more self assured then Gwen really was.
"You are so brave." Emma Aberline said. Getting control of herself she slipped the handkerchief into her sleeve, "You will always have a part of Lawrence here to remind you of the deep but brief love you shared with one another."
Miss Conliffe's smile widened. This coming from a women who, only a few hours ago, called the man a cad. Gwen felt much better now, having told the story and divested herself with another who, for the most part, listened with a patient and compassionate ear.
The sun was beginning to rise in the east. Birds chirped around them and a visible mist now arose from the apron around the forest off in the distance.
The women stood as they heard a call from the mausoleum. It was human and eager to be set free. Gwen lifted her hand and gave the key to Emma, "Go," she said, "He will want to see you first and will need your help to dress. I'll follow shortly, pay my respects to the dead, and we'll leave."
Mrs. Aberline nodded thankfully. It had been a long night. She move away, anxious to rejoin her husband.
Unexpectedly, Gwen saw something out of the corner of her eye and she looked over to the woods. It was an animal of some kind. It darted from between the trees, in and out of the fog, and looked as if it was searching for something.
Gwen nearly gasped. It was Samson. After all these months Sir John's hound still lived. Somehow it must have escaped the great house before the fire. "Samson!" she called, excited.
He represented a sort of innocence, a beast never knowing the true evil that was its master's household. Or maybe - just maybe Samson did understand but, like Singh before him, felt obligated to stay; to let the drama play out until the very end, whatever the consequences.
The dog's ears lifted and it looked directly at Gwen. It slowly moved forward, hesitant after all these months without human company, living off the land as its ancestors had thousands of years before the hound was born.
"Come on, boy!" she called.
Samson did come then stopped and sat attentively, staring at Gwen, twenty paces before her. His expression was one of recognition but not necessarily warmth. When she reached forward to pet him he backed up a bit.
"They're all gone, boy." she told him. Gwen couldn't help the sudden sob which escaped her. Sir John, Salona, Ben and Lawrence … all gone. She had loved them all, including the memory of Salona. Lawrence and Ben's beautiful mother. Again, her eyes traveled to the burnt out estate. She hated Blackmoor, disliked its people, but she had loved the old Hall, regardless of its disrepair … or maybe because of it.
The dog's head turned from side to side, quizzically, as if trying to understand her grief.
"Do you want to come home with me?" Gwen asked. "I could use a good friend …" she started but heard a howl off in the distance. Both Gwen and Samson turned to the forest.
Samson panted and got up on all fours. He then howled back.
Gwen saw two or three dogs trotting back and fourth on the apron, watching them.
"You have friends, I see." Gwen gently smiled at Samson, "A female in there for you?"
He looked back at her.
"Go then, my friend. You've found a new family. Be happy, dear Samson." she clapped her hands and watched as the hound ran off to be with his pack.
She was glad for him. But she also felt very lonely.
With a sigh Gwen began to pick wild flowers. The Talbots may have been cursed - but they were not unloved. She would put a small bouquet on each stone incased coffin before they left Blackmoor.
And she would pray … particularly for the soul of her beloved Lawrence. He believed he was damned. 'No,' Gwen thought, 'not while I live and breathe.'
They had their own compartment on the train.
Inspector Aberline, pale and exhausted from his ordeal, fell asleep in his padded bench-chair the moment they boarded. He said very little to either women, other then he wanted to go home and see his children.
Gwen thought it rather sweet from the usually surly lawman. Apparently, his current situation had made Aberline introspective and, possibly, he felt his life might be over soon. He wanted his progeny to remember him as a good, kind, courageous man - and a father to be proud of.
After a few hours he awoke and told Emma he was hungry. He glanced twice at his wolfs head cane, once belonging to Lawrence Talbot. He kept it. He felt he should. No one ever questioned him and he was grateful.
Mrs. Aberline asked Gwen if she would like to go with them to the dining car.
"No, I'm not really hungry." she said, "I think I'll take a nap now."
They left, closing the door behind them.
Miss Conliffe was grateful to be alone, to stretch and look sleepily out the window, to dream and wish he were here …. She closed her eyes, the steady clack of the railroad car's wheels against the track lulling her to sleep.
Her eyes instantly opened, recognizing the voice.
He was sitting across from her.
He was dressed as they had buried him, with a well tailored suit - and he looked very handsome, his expression completely devoid of the stress and sorrow it had displayed too often while he visited Blackmoor, back when he was simply trying to find the fiend who murdered his brother. A visible glow surrounded Lawrence's body, the only indication that he was not of this world.
"I'm dreaming." Gwen said, disappointed.
"Yes, but that doesn't mean I'm not here."
"Why are you here?' she asked, lowly. Gwen supposed she should be pleased - absolutely thrilled out of her mind - to see him again. But, somehow it seemed a little cruel.
He leaned forward and laced his fingers together. "Because you need me. You've been so brave for so long, Gwen."
"I miss you." she whispered, trying to hold back tears, "It's so unfair, Lawrence."
"We will be together again some day." he assured.
"Forgive me for being selfish but I want you here now."
"I know. Me too. But at least we can speak before I have to go back and take my place in The Order."
"It's too complicated. One day you will understand." He chuckled, gently. Then, a bit more seriously: "I'm so sorry, Gwen, leaving you at a time like this." He looked to her abdomen, "My son." he whispered, nearly in awe.
"No, it's a boy."
"You're so sure."
"Yes, I am."
Tears finally fell … Of course he was sure.
"I will always be with you both. You will feel me in your hearts and in the air around you. You will know I'm watching over you, protecting you from harm …"
"And the Talbot curse?"
"It will not follow you - ever."
"Oh Lawrence, I wish I could hold you."
He lifted a hand to her, "Touch me." he said.
She looked at him for a moment. Could she? Was it really allowed?
He said nothing but she could hear him in her mind. No, it was not allowed but an exception will be made. This time. 'I need to touch you too.'
Slowly, Gwen lifted her hand to his and touched, feeling warmth and love. If this was a dream how could this touch be so vivid? How could …? The glow transferred from his fingers to her own. It was incredible. She had never felt such softness, such utter contentment.
But even this was not enough.
Their eyes met.
They both stood at the same time and enfolded one another, kissing and feeling an exquisite joy and passion that would have to carry Gwen Conliffe forward for the rest of her life. He would never be able to return to her again. At least not in a form like this, that she could recognize, and they both knew it. This was a blessing, a gifted time, and it would not go unacknowledged.
"Our baby will know you." Gwen whispered between kisses, "He will know you."
"And I will be waiting for you both." Lawrence pulled back with great difficulty, yet continued to hold her hands. "That won't be for a long time. But time is irrelevant where I exist. Be patient, Gwen - My Love." He smiled once again, backing away, and allowed his fingers to slowly slide from hers.
Their eyes met once again and they continued to look at each other until he faded slowly from sight.
She heard his disembodied voice say: "I love you … forever."
Gwen awoke and found she was still alone, the train continued to travel rapidly along its track. She lifted her hands and thought, for just a moment, she saw a glow to them, as if there had been a residual effect from what most certainly was a mere dream.
Miss Conliffe felt suddenly very hungry and decided to join the Aberline's. After all, she was eating for two now. She stood and opened the door to their compartment. Her eye caught something odd. The wolfs-head cane was laying directly across from where she had been seated. Hadn't the Inspector taken it with him? Gwen nearly reached for it but decided it was not her place.
She closed the door behind her and walked down the small hall.
The cane dissolve away.
(I hope you enjoyed this THE WOLFMAN fiction. Please let me know what you thought. All my best!)