And the Moonlight Fades
A Jane Eyre one-shot
Author's Note: This fanfiction contains adult themes. If that offends, please feel free to leave. All characters are Bronte's. This fiction takes place in the time of canon (just after the wedding attempt), however, that does not mean that is it completely fateful to it. Oh, and if you're looking for the semantics of the scene visit "And the Fire Consumes," the companion piece to this one-shot.
Comments and criticism are always welcome. Please excuse any grammatical errors.
Through heavy sleep he felt soft lips feather lightly over his own. They barely pressed their honeyed warmth to him and retreated all too quickly. He wanted to grasp at the face connected; he wanted to press those sweet lips even closer to his own.
But Edward was still deeply entranced in the desperate magic that had come to him last night like a goddess, and he was unable to wake enough to grasp at the retreating figure.
Out of the darkness she had ghosted into the room. The burning ache blazing in his chest seized upon his heart as Edward realized Jane had come to him. She stood as still as a shadow: her face pale and sad illuminated in the sliver moonlight shining through his drapes. "Jane?" It escaped his lips before he thought. And once he heard his own voice, he cursed speaking. She would run away now, and all he wanted to do was crush her towards him.
He knew she spoke – demanding he leave her be. He knew he spoke – shocking her already blushed face. Finally blushed, no longer still and silent and without proof of tears. But he remembered walking towards her; he remembered the way her lips bit at his own. And her innocent lusciousness provoked him to madness. At her boldness, Edward's hand contracted around her arms and pressed her fiercely to his hard body. If she would not trust his word or his eyes, perhaps she would trust the physical proof he thrust before her.
Then she sighed. She sighed quietly into his mouth. His blood thrummed in his ears. Terrified his own need—already coursing selfishly through his veins—would overtake him, he broke the kiss and trailed his lips down her neck, searing wherever they touched. Edward's tongue worshiped over Jane's frantic pulse as her fingers demanded his body be set free of its heavy clothes.
He dared not think too deeply of her actions, for they were more than he had dared dream about. Her passion and desire overwhelmed him. He knew her to be passionate and willful and his equal in everything, how could he possibly fail to realize she would be his equal in fire as well?
Edward's hands trembled as he set free her chest from her stark wedding corset. And when she moaned in pleasure—her hot flesh pressed against his own—he could not blink away the grateful tears to God for this grand blessing in his cursed life.
Had he not been made of weak mortal means, he may have felt guilt fall upon his heart, but Edward Rochester was man, not some angelic being. And he was far worse than a man simply damned, he was a man in desperate love. So he felt no guilt or fear, unmitigated joy and visceral possession as he took the unearthly creature in front of him into darkness.
When his body found hers, warm and welcoming, he no longer believed in the Lord's heaven. For heaven was now called Jane and it could only exist where she existed. And in thinking thus, he did not beg God for his own soul, but for her's. For, to drive a man to blasphemy was not her intention at all.
In the darkness he sunk into her and breathed the deep woods outside in her hair, felt her breath break upon his lips, and believed in the long life of shared passion that stretched out before them in a never-ending spiral of pleasure and hope. She was tight and lush and new. All her movements drove him to further madness – they were artless reactions to desire firing her veins. Never before had a creature been so demure yet demanding, hesitant yet eager. Even in the darkness of the night, her voice lost in hushed pleasure, Jane's lightness of being enchanted him beyond desire.
And when both were sated, their limbs moving slowly in exhaustion from their love, Edward held Jane tightly against his chest, barring his arm across her. The uncertainty of their discussion earlier invaded his mind as she lazily drew circles with her fingers upon the back of his hand. He did not ask her the question he wanted to, he feared too deeply the answer. So silence fell and sleep called to him when she burrowed her body closer to his under the damp sheets. Edward kissed the nape of her neck, letting his lips rest against her skin without thought of removal. She was the perfect shape, the perfect size, the perfect heart lying against his own. A wonder: both were so contradictory, yet complimentary.
Jane yawned quietly. And he found it the most peaceful sound in the world.
Edward dosed late into the morning, until a strange stillness in the room awoke him. The stillness did not match the lightness of his heart, and half at the house, half at providence, he chuckled. He would turn to Jane soon, her curious eyes wide with inner struggle, and he would kiss all her worry and questioning away with the thorough sureness of his mouth. And then they would not rise this day. Tomorrow, he thought fleetingly, tomorrow we will sail away. Remembering that the true delicious being lay next to him, Edward stretched up his large hand towards Jane.
He found nothing but a cool pillow.
At first, simple confusion muddle his brain. She would not rise before him? Fear sliced through his nerves like lightening. His hand clutched out again, seeking the tender softness of his new wife's flesh, but nothing was there. Edward sat up in bed, his hands clawing at the sheets as though she was under the mattress. And then he saw the ivory set of pearls sitting on his nightstand, next to a letter inscribed to Adele. He paled.
Clutching the sheet around his waist, Edward raced the stone corridor to Jane's old chambers. He half expected her to open the door shocked at his attire, pretending last night never occurred. His other half choked on the fact he would not find her there. When he reached the door he did not even knock, just slammed his body against the large plane of wood. Its hinges splintered under his force.
She was not inside. The death-like silence of his chamber had already settle on the little room. It felt like a tomb too early made useful.
Edward began to howl ferociously for her throughout the house. Mrs. Fairfax came running; so did John and Mariah. He cared little that they stared in open shock at his attire. "Where is Jane?" He yelled at them all. To this, they had no answer. He returned his frantic pace, searching the hall.
Mrs. Fairfax was the only one to venture an answer, half out of breath from following him, "No one has seen her since yesterday." Edward slammed his fist against the wall and placed his head upon it, "Perhaps she has gone out for a walk this morning, for some exercise." Yes, the foolish old woman had to be right. Jane would not leave him. In his desperation he believed the excuse given and took a deep breath. He would go find her and his actions this morning would be just as trifling as Jane's fear of him leaving her. She would welcome him to her—
"M. Rochester, où est mademoiselle Eyre?" Adele's soprano voice grated upon his thoughts and then he remembered the letter addressed only to the child. Jealously roared his is ears. He stalked pass the small girl and servants without another word.
Jane had left him. Jane had left him and did not even dare to say goodbye. But a note to the small child– the young one who did not even hold her heart— she could leave word to. Once back is his room, the cold fury he felt twisted into anguished longing. He could still smell her here; he could still taste her body in the air. Clutching the pearls in his hands, he tore Adele's letter in two.
He would find her. She could not have gotten far. He would find her, and bring her back and demand to know why he meant so little in her esteem to not warrant a goodbye. And then he would prove to her why she would never say goodbye to him again. His purpose made, he dressed, locking the delicate strand of pearls around his neck.
John knocked lightly on the door. Edward did not even wait for him to enter, "Ready my horse. And no servant is to enter this room until I tell them otherwise." A curt reply to him in the affirmative met his ears.
Pilot could sense his master's determination as he mounted his horse and galloped ahead. Excitement ran through the dog's veins. The moors were his again. And he could sense the master would keep him out all day.
Three days later, Edward lay in the middle of his large bed, the dream that was Jane's body still tingling upon his own. His black eyes had begun to sink into his sockets, deep purples circles under his eyes making the particular feature frightful. He would not eat. He could not sleep. And so he lingered in their bed, replaying his one night with her in his mind. He scavenged his memory for a word, a look, and sigh that would tell him where Jane had gone, but there were none. She had fully given herself up to his will and had no thoughts of her own that night, certainly none about her days to come.
He had ridden like a man possessed for three days and nights to all the villages and manor farms around the county. They all looked at him the same: with disgust and contempt in their eyes. All said they had not seen that governess. If they had, he suspected, they would not tell him. But even those of good Christian charity, who would not meet his eye, told him they had not seen her.
On his fourth morning the council parishman had stopped him at High Gate just beyond King's Cross. The man told him that his gentry status would not save him past the next town and he should return before word got to the good villagers a devil was riding into their midst. "They'll want non' e y'ur kind here, Sir," he clucked with a churlish accent. Edward cared little for the man's displeasure, but feared if Jane was hiding in the city, his actions in seeking her out would cause more harm than good.
And so, tired and desolate he returned home to Thornfield and spoke to no one upon his entrance. He did not eat, he did not sleep: he simply fell onto his bed and clung to the lingering scent of her.
She had vanished as suddenly as she appeared, and Edward began to think he had gone mad nearly a year ago. Perhaps she was not real at all, and he should have been locked away just as much as the demented demon above.
Somewhere between sunrise and twilight one day, he took to mending the letter Jane had scribed to Adele. It must contain some hidden message for him, it must have some goodbye. In vein he read it over and over again, until his salt tears began to mar Jane's beautiful hand–
You will be angry with me for leaving, but you are very strong and will no doubt forget me in time. Keep enchanting Sophie and Mrs. Fairfax with what you learn, and be outside as long as possible if the house is too quiet.
It meant nothing. It all meant nothing. Edward Rochester sent Adele away as soon as the money to school cleared the bank. It took but a few days. The money had already been sent before the mockery of his second wedding. And though she wept and clung to her nursemaid until placed in the carriage, Edward said nothing to her. He was, indeed, a petty man and Jane's favor for the child still enraged him to jealousy. We he found Jane, Adele would never return; he would keep his enchantress all to himself, forever.
When the carriage drove through the gate he returned to the house without saying a word. The servants had become accustomed to his silence. Or they had become accustomed to the increase in their pay for staying on. Either way, Edward did not care. As long as they remained compliant—and best of all silent—he would suffer their necessity. Now all in the county knew of his story, or at least knew the gossip of it. He traveled no where: terrified he would leave and Jane would return to him. The loss of her once was unbearable, but to have her think him inconstant was excruciating. No, he would never leave Thornfield until the day he died, if only for a chance glimpse of her again.
The days passed slowly, but soon a month had come. His sheets, though still baring the proof of Jane's angelic state before her last night at Thornfield, had lost all essence of her. He still refused to part with them. Every morning, though he'd slept little every night before, he would slip into her old chamber and open one of her abandoned trunks, drinking in the stale sent of her. He had Mrs. Fairfax make his cravats out of one of Jane's old petticoats, and he would tie the fabric around his neck so tight, the pearls clasped there would leave marks. In his study he arranged all Jane's paintings throughout the room. He drowned himself in what she had left him with. She had left everything. The realization was like a noose around his neck which pulled tighter with every passing day.
While his business conducted itself as usual, guests forced to make a stop at the estate could tell the master was pining away for a ghost he could no longer have. Many a man whispered to his wife it was better the governess had fled. Seeing Rochester in such a state had them fearing what he would have done with her had she stayed.
That night, one month to the day of Jane's flight, Edward went to bed in agony: repulsed by what he had done and not done in the last month. Tomorrow, he would leave to find her and he would not return until she was safely in his aching arms. And once she was, and once he'd proven to her she could not leave him, they would find the first ship in port and venture where it was going. Be damned its destination. He would have her and she would call him husband and they would be free.
His mind made up, he closed his eyes and fell into a contented slumber for the first night since Jane left.
A shrill shriek followed by a ghoulish laugh awoke the sleeping master of Thornfield. When he ran to the door to see what was the matter, the hallway was incased in flames. Pilot wined at his feet, but did not run to flee. Bootless and shirtless, Edward Rochester ran towards the servant's quarters to remove them from the house.
It was not until everyone was out that he remembered the firestarter herself, now twirling around on the roof as though a sparrow caught in a headwind. Edward ran back inside the inferno to find her, taking the main staircase that was not yet ablaze. This would be his act of penance. If mortal man saves his own destruction, surely that would earn him grace in the eyes of an angel?
But no grace would find him there, on the rooftop, that night. The only thing he found was the creature of himself, and she did what he would have done a month ago had not his entire being been beholden to some unworldly creature miles away. And his penance was still not complete.