Resero is Latin for, "to reveal".
Chapter Thirteen: Resero
For what felt like ages later and when the clock moved past the five o'clock hour of the early morning, she could wait in doors no longer to wait for Noctis and the men to come back. They have been out there all night, putting forth all their efforts to rescue as many from the doomed ship that could be saved. The bits and pieces of information that had made it to the house were not encouraging. The sea had claimed many lives and another ship in its shadowy depths, and yet, the shipwreck had most probably saved her life too. If not for the raised alarm, she might have actually jumped from that window. It was a strange thing to think upon. At the advisement of the servants, she had tried to get a little bit of sleep but it had been restless until she had given up all together. She needed to go out there and to check on Noctis. Her worry about how they had left things between them weighed heavily upon her. She could bear to be separated from him no longer. So, with a heavy coat about her shoulders, she makes her way to the shoreline, weaving through the many men still bustling about her amid the still heavy fog in search of a familiar face. Only to give a startled yelp when she runs into one that is not quite so welcome.
"Ben!" she cries, trying to compose herself enough to approach the strange man with the vacant stare. "Ben, have you seen Prince Noctis?"
Those far off eyes look nervous as they look down at her. "She's gone, ain't she?" Ben implores her. "You said so yourself."
"Who, Ben?" she asks.
He hesitates, looking fearful and she is not sure if he will answer her so she starts to move away to continue her search.
"The other one!" he cries when she's a distance away.
She has no time to wonder what he means before she sees another familiar face.
"Ignis!" she calls out to his much taller figure. "Ignis, have you seen Noctis?"
"No, he hasn't gone up to the house yet?" Ignis asks quizzically.
"No, I have been waiting for him but he has not come," she responds, still looking around her in hopes of catching a glimpse of him.
"He should not be alone right now," states Ignis grimly. He pauses for a moment, seeming to decide whether or not to share with her the news that he obviously has. "The divers found another boat at the bottom… a sail boat."
"Oh no," she breathes out in dread. "Was it Rebecca's boat?"
"Yes," Ignis answers in a low voice. "Which means that it will start all over again."
"Poor Noctis," she laments. "It must have been horrible for him." No wonder he had not come back to the house.
Ignis gives her an uncertain look, noticing the dejected look that must be on her face. "I had better start making breakfast arrangements for the men," he states before moving away and leaving her to herself.
"That's a good idea," she agrees weakly. "I will just continue looking for Noctis."
Walking further along the shore through the thick fog, she continues looking about her intently and feeling so…torn. There was no other word for it. She sympathizes with how he must be feeling with that blatant reminder of the one he loved. A reminder to her that she could never compare. She loves him enough, though, to put that aside for a moment and be there to try and offer him some comfort at a time like this. That is when she spies the shack that had belonged to Rebecca. She would have missed it all together had it not been for the bright light shining from inside the windows. There was only one person that would seek shelter there and she hurries towards it.
The fragile door creaks open at her urging and she makes her way to the main room to find Noctis sitting solemnly at the furthest corner, beside the lit fireplace.
"Hello," he says in a monotonous voice by way of greeting.
"Noctis," she cries, rapidly approaching him without hesitation. "You have not had any sleep."
That he should seek shelter here, in a place he had forbidden her from even entering, makes her position in his affections all the more clear to her.
"Have you forgiven me?" she asks.
"Forgiven you?" he asks in that same hollow voice. "What have I got to forgive you for?"
"For my stupidity over the costume," she replies dejectedly.
"Oh," he says without inflection. "I had forgotten. I was angry with you, wasn't I?"
"Yes," she replies, remembering all too well how angry he had been and now this. This fresh reminder of who should really be here with him instead of her. "Noctis? Can we not start all over? I won't ask that you should love me. I won't ask for impossible things. I can be your friend or your companion. I will be happy with that."
He rises from the chair and comes towards her. Once close enough, he places his hands on her shoulders before running them over her hair and face. "You love me very much, don't you," he states, pulling her close and embracing her to him. "But it is too late for that now." He pulls away from her but she grabs onto him to prevent him from moving much further.
"No," she argues.
"Yes," he states simply. "It is all over now. The thing that I have been dreading every day and every night, has finally happened."
"Noctis what are you trying to tell me?" she asks, moving forward with him despite his turning his back to her to hide his face.
"Rebecca has won," he says in defeat. His proud head bows with his weariness. When he turns, it is only to sit heavily upon one of the other plush chairs.
She kneels in front of him and leans forward to peer into his face in an effort to remain close even when she can feel the acuteness of the distance between them.
"Her shadow has been between us this whole time, preventing us from really being together."
"What are you saying?"
"The divers found another boat in the water."
"Yes, Rebecca's boat," she says for him. "Ignis told me. How awful for you. I am so sorry, darling."
"The divers made another discovery when they broke one of the boards and looked into the cabin. They found a body in there."
"So she had not been alone? There was someone with her on that night. That's it, isn't it?"
He looks at her , seeming to brace himself for her reaction at what he is about to say. "There was no one with her. That was Rebecca's body lying there on the cabin floor."
"Oh no," she whispers. That was even worse.
"That woman that I identified, the woman that is buried in the family crypt, that was not Rebecca. That was the body of some unknown woman," he explains in that same monotonous voice. He sounds so hollow, so defeated, so unlike himself. "I identified her but I knew that it was not Rebecca. It was all a lie. I knew where Rebecca was all along. I knew she was lying there at the bottom of the sea."
"How did you know, Noctis?"
"Because… I put it there," he confesses slowly.
She does not know how to process what she has just heard him say. He had… placed her there? How could he have done such a thing? She does not understand.
"Can you look at me know and tell me that you love me?" he asks, leaning towards her, but she cannot think. She cannot wrap her mind around his confession to answer him.
She staggers back and away from him in an effort to ground herself. It feels as if her entire world has been thrown off its axis.
"You see?" he sighs in resignation, obviously misreading her confusion for rejection. "I was right." She can hear him stand again and walk towards the other wall. "It is too late."
She turns to see him gazing at the fire. "You are wrong," she insists, rushing back to him and placing her hands on his back. "I love you more than anything. Noctis, please kiss me to see."
"No," he says, with a shake of his head but he does turn to look at her. "It is no use." He reaches for her and hesitantly touches her face again.
"We can't lose each other now when we should always be together. Only this time without any secrets or shadows between us," she urges him.
"We only have a few days," he reasons. "Perhaps only a few more hours."
"Why did you never tell me before?"
"I wanted to at times but you never seemed close enough," he admits sadly.
"How could we be close when I knew you were always thinking of Rebecca?" she cries. "How could I even ask you to love me when I knew you loved Rebecca still?"
"What?" he asks abruptly. "What are you talking about?"
Unable to look at him in that moment, she hides her face in his chest. "Whenever you touched me, I knew you were constantly comparing me to Rebecca. Whenever you looked at me or whenever you spoke to me or during our afternoon walks, I knew in your head you were thinking that these were all the things that you had done with her," she admits in shame. "That is the truth, isn't it?"
"You thought I loved Rebecca?" he asks, with an edge to his voice that has her turning to face him. The hollow quality that had been in his voice vanishes. "You thought that?"
He looks at her in bewildered fury for a moment.
"I hated her!" he growls.
Just like that, her world is thrown again. His admission shocks her to her core, leaving her in a mixture of happiness and utter confusion. He looks at her with that baffled expression still, clearly conveying that he had, had no idea that she had believed such a thing. She can see in his eyes that he has finally decided to tell her everything. Everything at last!
"I can admit that I was enchanted by her like everyone else was and when we were married I was told I was the luckiest man in the world to have caught her." He looks over at her and she can see the self disgust at himself. "She was so lovely, so accomplished, so full of charm. She had the three things that really mattered, everyone said. Beauty, brains and breeding… and I believed them, completely. So foolishly." He starts to pace now, as he relates his tale. "But I never knew a moment's happiness with her. She was incapable of love or devotion or tenderness… or decency."
"You… really did not love her?" she asks, completely overwhelmed to hear this revelation. He is the first person to say anything negatively about the woman that everyone else seemed to idolize. The reality of his feelings hits her like a violent crash.
"Do you remember where I was standing that day when we first met?" he asks and she nods. "Well, I went there on my honeymoon with Rebecca. She stood there, laughing… her brown hair blowing with the winds. It was four days after we were married and then she told me all about herself. She told me everything. Things that I will never utter to anyone else. I wanted to kill her then for her deceit and trickery. It would have been so easy. Do you remember how dangerous it was there?"
She nods, remembering vividly.
"I frightened you that day, didn't I?" he asks, his face softening as he looks at her. "I am sure you thought I was mad. Perhaps I was… or am mad. It would make sense wouldn't it? Since I had been living with the devil." His look turns to anguish before he forces himself to continue.
"'I'll make a bargain with you,' she said. 'You would look rather foolish trying to divorce me now, after four days of marriage. So I shall play the devoted wife and princess to your precious kingdom and mistress of Manderley. I can make it the biggest showplace if you like. Then people will visit us and envy us and think we were the happiest couple on the planet. What a grand joke it would be! What a triumph!'"
He takes a breath and shakes his head.
"I never should have taken her up on her filthy bargain, but I did. I was younger then and very conscious of my family's honor and public reputation. Imagine how much of a scandal it would have been if the prince divorced his wife? But what did I know about honor when my wife had none and was of the worst sort, hidden by such a lovely face? She knew that I would sacrifice anything to avoid dragging her to a public court and admit that our marriage was a fraud." He stares at her again from his place beside the window. "You despite me, don't you? As I despise myself. You cannot understand how my feelings were… can you?" he implores.
A tear rolls down her cheek in sympathy to his unimaginable plight. "Of course I can, darling. Of course I can understand."
"Well I kept up my end of the bargain," he continues, angry at himself. "And so did she. She played the charade so brilliantly. Only after awhile she began to grow careless. She took a flat in the city and would stay away for days at a time. Then she started to bring her friends here. I warned her about the chances of exposure at her recklessness but she just shrugged her shoulders and demanded what it had to do with me. She even started on Ignis… tried to seduce him just to see if she could. Poor, faithful Ignis." He lets out a sigh. "Then there was a cousin of hers. A man named Favell."
"Yes I know him," she says. "He came the day you went to the city."
"Why did you not tell me?" he asks in worry.
"I wanted to but… I thought that it would only remind you of… Rebecca," she explains lamely.
"Remind me?" he lets out a bitter laugh. "As if I needed any reminding."
He shakes his head at himself before he continues.
"Favell used to visit her here in this cottage," he says, looking about them disdainfully. "I found out about it and warned her that if he came here again, I would shoot them both. No decency at all," he says, walking towards the inner doorway. "Then, one night when I found out that she had returned quietly from the city, I thought that Favell was with her and I knew that I could no longer live with such filth and deceit any longer. I decided to come down here and have it out with both of them. But she was alone. She had been expecting Favell but he hadn't come. She was lying there on the divan with her large tray of cigarette stubs beside her. She looked ill, queer. Suddenly she got up and started towards me.
'When I have a child,' she said. 'Neither you nor anyone else could say that the child was not yours. You would like that wouldn't you, Noctis? An heir to your kingdom and Manderley.'
Then she started to laugh.
'How funny. How perfectly, wonderfully funny. I will be the perfect mother, just as I have been the perfect wife and no one will ever know. It ought to give you the thrill of your life, Noctis. To watch my son grow bigger day by day and know that when you die, he will be King and all this will be his.'
She was face to face with me then, one hand in her pocket and the other with a cigarette in her hand. She had a smug smile on her face.
'Well Noctis? What are you going to do about it? Aren't you going to kill me?' she goaded."
His expression falls. "I must have gone mad for a moment and slapped her. She just stood there, watching me. She looked almost triumphant. Then she started towards me again, smiling. Suddenly she stumbled and fell," he says, bumping into the door and showing her where Rebecca had fallen. "It seemed like I stood there for ages, looking down at her. She had struck her head on a heavy piece of ship's tackle. I remember wondering why she was still smiling and then, I realized that she was dead."
"But you did not kill her! It was an accident!"
"Who would believe me?" he asks. "I lost my head. I just knew that I had to do something. So I carried her out to the boat. It was very dark that night. There was no moon. I carried her to the cabin and sailed away. When I was out far enough, I took a spike and drove it into the hull over and over again. Then I opened the sea cocks and the water began to flood through fast. I climbed into the dingy and pulled away. I saw the boat keel over and sink." He lets out as if exhausted. "Then I made it back to the cove… and it started to rain."
"Noctis, who else knows about this?"
"No one. Just you and me."
"We must explain this. It has to be the body of someone else."
"No, it is easy to identify her," he says. "There are rings, bracelets… jewelry that she always wore. Then they will remember the other body already buried."
"Then you have to tell them that when you went to identify the body before that you were distraught and that you made a mistake. Surely they'll believe that. Rebecca is dead and she cannot bear witness." She rushes towards him and hold the collar of his coat to get him to listen to her. "We are the only two people that know."
He looks so forlorn and sad, but there is open affection there too. An affection for her and only her. "I told you once that I did a very selfish thing by marrying you," he reminds her. "Now you know what I meant."
He pulls her into his arms and holds her tightly to him. She feels his lips press against her hair and breathe in her scent.
"I love you," he says. "I have loved you from the first. I will always love you." He pulls away just enough to take in her face. "But I have known all along that Rebecca would win in the end."
She holds his face in her hands to make him look into her eyes and shakes her head. "She has not won! No matter what happens, she has not won."
The ringing of the house phone causes the both of them to freeze. They trade a look before he slowly reaches for the dusty phone.
"Yes?" he asks into the receiver. "Hello Ignis. Who? The colonel? Yes, tell him I will see him there as soon as I possibly can. What? well, we will talk about that when we are sure about the matter." He concludes his conversation with Ignis and hangs up slowly.
"What has happened?" she asks anxiously.
"The colonel called. He is the chief magistrate of the area. He has been asked by the police to go over to the mortuary. He wants to know if I had possibly made a mistake about the other body."
They look at each other and the look of accepted defeat on his face is something that she cannot abide. It was so soon, too soon. It was becoming unraveled so quickly and she wishes she could take that desolated look away from his face. But no matter what she did, there is no stopping what is coming and she has no idea how it will all turn out.