A/N: Hello all! For those of you who have read my "Count of Monte Cristo" fic, welcome back! To those of you that are new, welcome! This is an idea inspired by the plot in my previous Count fic as well as the anime Gankutsuou. howlingwolf456 has helped out a lot and she's my co-writer and editor for this story, so give her a hand too ^_^ Before we get started, WE DON'T OWN GANKUTSUOU - the anime belongs to Funimation, the story belongs to Dumas, and the artwork inspired for the pieces of jewelry mentioned belong to their respective owners. We only own Crystal and any anonymous, random characters that may appear later in the story.
With that said, just a quick overview - the story has been cut down to 15-17ish years instead of 25 (sorry...o_O;). The story follows a young girl as she grows, vowing to find her friend who was taken away from her (she also has a crush on him ;)) Anywho, enjoy, and please leave a message telling us what you think! (But no flames por favor).
Prologue – Happiness Shattered, Paradise Lost
Fireworks lit the night sky as the throng of people below danced and laughed gaily. All were dressed their best and looked on admiringly at the young couple that was to be married in the morning.
Edmond Dantes couldn't have been any happier as he danced in the inn with his beloved soon-to-be wife, Mercedes Herrera. Dressed in white, the couple appeared to be floating as they gracefully swirled about on the floor.
"Oh, how romantic," sighed a girl, twirling her hair. "I can't wait until I get married."
"Mercedes is sooo lucky!" another squealed in delight. "And she's beautiful!"
"Dantes is definitely a catch," another smirked, eyeing the sailor lustfully. "I wouldn't mind being stranded in a rowboat with hi-OW! You little brat! Come back here!"
Running past them, a girl of twelve years of age stuck her tongue out at them as she gave them a nasty look. "That's what they get for saying things about my friend," she said to herself, squeezing between several people before making her way to the center of the room, where the dancing continued.
The child was well known in the town for being a tomboy, playing with the boys and her little cousin, Maximilien Morrel. Her parents died when she was a baby, leaving her in the care of her uncle, Pierre Morrel. She was a lovely girl though, when she wasn't in pants and her earth-toned hair in pigtails. Her brown eyes sparkled tonight, though, and she didn't mind wearing her rose-pink dress on this happy occasion. In her hand, she held a little white box tied with a red ribbon, accompanied with a white rose bud.
As the song came to a close, she spied her friend and made a beeline for him. "Edmond!" she called, her face all aglow.
He turned at once at the sound of her name, his violet eyes shining in delight. "Crystal!" he smiled, his arms outstretched as he allowed her to attack him with a fierce embrace. Laughing heartily, he picked her up and spun her around, causing her to laugh as her shoulder-length locks whipped around her head. "How's my little gem?" he chuckled, placing her back onto the ground.
"Oh, Edmond, I'm so glad for you!" she smiled, looking over at Mercedes, who was also beaming with joy. "I've brought you presents!" She handed the rose to Mercedes at once, causing the lovely lady to blush and giggle.
"You're such a sweet girl, Crystal," she said, kissing the girl's forehead with a smile.
"And this is for you," she added, giving the box to Edmond.
He took it, one eyebrow raised as he pulled the ribbon off and removed the lid. His eyes grew wide at the sight – a silver Celtic charm consisting of three triangles intertwining hung on a sturdy ink black cord. "Crystal…where did you get this?"
"I have lots of charms saved in my collection at home," she shrugged, blush appearing on her little cheeks. "I thought you might like this one best…it's one of my favorites."
A smile grew on his lips as he slid the gift over his head, letting it hang on his neck. "Thank you, Crystal…I'll never take it off." Grinning mischievously, he slid his hand into his pocket and said, "Now I have a surprise for you." From his pocket, he took out another necklace. A satin ribbon held a pendant the size of a robin's egg. It was an elegant piece of silver, crafted to act as a frame to hold a gorgeous sapphire at its center. Another sapphire, the size and shape of a teardrop, dangled below.
Crystal's brown eyes grew wide as she gazed upon the majestic piece of jewelry. "Oh…Edmond, it's beautiful! Shouldn't Mercedes…?"
"I have my very own," she smiled, touching her diamond pendant that she now wore with her wedding gown. "I thought you'd like this one."
"It suits you," he said, placing it around the girl's neck. "You'll grow into it, and when you do, you'll outshine that necklace. It belonged to my mother, so take good care of it."
"Oh, I will!" she said, her face aglow as she clutched the lovely gift. "I'll never take it off – EVER!" Wrapping her arms around him once more, she embraced him tightly. Mercedes bent down and the three of them remained there, the perfect picture of a family…
The doors to Caderousse's inn flew open, startling all. A troop of soldiers swarmed in, all menacing with their tall hats, sinister swords, and expressionless faces. "Which one among you is called Edmond Dantes?" the leader demanded.
Mercedes paled, trembling at the situation. Crystal, though frightened, frowned and stood protectively in front of her friends. Edmond stood bravely, though wary of these intruders. "I'm Edmond Dantes."
At once, they were upon him, surrounding and capturing him as the captain announced before the crowd, "Edmond Dantes, you are under arrest of charges of treason!"
"Wait – this is a mistake!" he cried as he struggled in vain to free himself.
"NO!" Crystal cried, jumping upon the men, punching, kicking, and even biting one man at one point.
"Grab her!" the captain ordered.
"No!" she screamed again. "EDMOND!" She clung to him as tightly as she could, for his arms were bound behind his back. "I won't let you take him!"
"Crystal!" Mercedes cried, striving to pull the girl away before she got into more trouble. Not too far off, Crystal's uncle and Edmond's employer, Pierre Morrel, came running to help the poor woman as she yanked the girl away.
"Don't worry, Crystal, I'll be fine!" Edmond pleaded, not wanting her to get into trouble because of him. "This is a misunderstanding – I'm sure it'll work out!"
"No! Edmond, you can't go!" she wept, her fingers becoming looser by the minute. When she felt him place a kiss on her cheek, she saw his face, filled with reassurance and pleading. "I'll be all right…stay with Mercedes for me."
Tears spilling, she finally allowed them to pull her away from her beloved friend, watching with a tumble of emotions as they pulled him out of the room.
"Crystal! What will I do with you?" her uncle sighed, hugging the poor girl as she sniffled.
"Don't worry, Mercedes," she heard a familiar voice say firmly. Turning her head, she saw Fernand Mondego placing his hands upon Mercedes' shaking shoulders. "Like Edmond said, I'm sure it'll work out…"
At that moment, several things clicked in the girl's head. Her brows furrowed as she recalled earlier that evening that he, Danglars, and Caderousse were gathered at a table, looking sinister as they shared their drinks. The owner had been in a drunken stupor, as he usually was, but Fernand and Danglars looked evil…she'd overheard Edmond's name, something about a letter, and Mercedes…Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Danglars grin like he had just won a fortune. Her eyes returned to Fernand. Over the years, he had changed…he was no longer carefree and friendly as he used to be, rather cold and snappish, always gazing at Mercedes in longing. Trembling, the feeling that something was terribly wrong overtook her and she bolted from the room, off to the Prosecutor's office so that she might see if Edmond would come out all right as he had said he would…
She ran like she had never run before, panting for air by the time she arrived at the building. Huffing, she was proud that no one had been able to stop her from leaving the party. Sneaking past the horses and carriage men standing idly outside, she lurked in the shadows, climbing up crates and clinging to ledges to see if she could get a view of which room her friend was held captive in. After checking the third set of windows, she was rewarded – Edmond stood in a lit room with a man known to the town as Gerard Villefort.
"Surely he'll let him go…" She watched, cloaked in darkness as Villefort opened a letter that Dantes had handed over.
"It was my captain's dying wish that this letter be delivered," the sailor explained earnestly.
Villefort smiled politely as he took out the letter, his back now turned slightly towards Crystal so that she could read the letter as well as he could. At once, she knew something was off when, with her hawk-like vision, she saw the words "organization", "plot", "attempt", and "overthrow". Her eyes went large when she saw Villefort's own name in there. He was a member of a group plotting to take over the government? She noticed his own eyes went large before he composed himself and burnt the letter, lying to Dantes. "This is extremely dangerous, my friend," he said, watching as the letter crackled and curled in the flames of the fireplace. "You must not tell anyone of this lest you wish to put yourself in danger…please, allow my men to take you back home. There's a carriage awaiting you at the front of the building."
Edmond beamed while Crystal turned pale as a sheet. "You're a good man, Monsieur Villefort! Thank you!"
Shaking her head slowly, mouthing 'no' in despair, she watched as two soldiers entered and escorted him away. Ducking down so that Villefort would not see her, she saw a hideous, terrifying grin cross his face. "Thank goodness no one else has seen…this letter could have ruined everything for me!" she heard him hiss. Fear swallowed her stomach once more as she leapt from her perch and ran to the front, desperate to stop this madness. Edmond had been framed…and even the man in charge of justice in her hometown was against him!
"No, Edmond! Don't get on!" she cried, seeing him enter the vehicle.
Surprised, he turned his head. His eyes widened upon seeing her, but before he could do anything, one of the guards roughly shoved him in, slamming the door and locking it before banging the wall as a signal for the driver to move.
"STOP!" she screamed, running once more after him. "EDMOND!" she shouted, reaching out, wishing she could grab the fast moving buggy.
"Crystal!" he cried, his hand waving frantically from between the bars of the window.
"EDMOND!" She ran…she ran even though the carriage was out of sight and his voice faint…she ran though she was exhausted…she ran until her body betrayed her and she collapsed onto the dirt road, tears soiling her once cheerful face.
5 Years Later…
Marseilles had taken a turn for the worst two years ago. The seaside town was suffering from storms, and ships were continuously lost or came back with little cargo. The Morrel firm managed to survive fairly well, but even they were under harsh times.
"Crystal, where's Father?" eleven-year-old Maximilien Morrel asked, poking his head into her room.
"He's in his office," the seventeen year old girl answered, completing yet another sketch to add to her collection.
"Who did you draw this time?" he asked excitedly, stepping into her space. He was fascinated with her improving artistic skills and loved her like a sister. His own sister, Juile, was older now, almost twenty, seeing young Emmanuel who worked for the firm and constantly taking care of the household since they had to let several servants go.
"I drew my dear friend again," she smiled sadly, showing the picture to the child.
He peered at it before looking up at her, inquisitive. "Did you like him?"
"Very much," she nodded, setting the paper aside. "He was my dear friend…"
"Crystal?" The girl turned, flipping her long brown braid over her shoulder as she saw her cousin, Julie Morrel step into the room. "Would you mind helping me with the laundry outside? I have to keep an eye on the stove."
"Sure, I'll get it," she smiled. Her cousin thanked her before leaving. "Max, why don't you go help Julie? I think she's making stew…"
With a lick of his lips, the boy took off, allowing Crystal to review her portfolio full of artwork. She glared down as she gazed upon the familiar faces of her past.
The last that anyone had heard of Danglars was that he gave up his position of captain of the Phareon to go into banking, only to marry a rich baroness in Paris. She gave a disgusted look at the picture of the once slender man who had started to gain weight and become quite the weasel…
Villefort, the liar and traitor, had become a grand judge just last year, moving himself and his family to Paris, just like Danglars. He had a little girl now, and she pitied her for having such a terrible father, a man who condemned others when someone ought to condemn him…
Poor Mercedes waited for less than a year before marrying that horrible man, Fernand. Crystal felt pity for the woman, who didn't know what to do after Edmond had been taken away. She and Crystal had cared for Edmond's father, Louis, but he died within a few months of Edmond's arrest. She couldn't help but shed a tear for the man she's loved like a grandfather…
The drunken louse hadn't changed in the least. He still owned the inn, and continued to drink like the idiot he was…
Out of all these men, Crystal had come to loath Mondego the most. After Edmond was gone, he began wooing Mercedes. Six months after the incident, he wed Mercedes and joined the army. He came back a year later with the title "General Morcerf." When and where he conjured the name, she didn't know, but she knew he was up to something when he came back with enough riches to call himself a Count. He left the town, and with him, so did Mercedes, and they were re-wedded shortly after his triumphant return. She refused to be near him, for she had figured out and overheard him several times after Edmond's arrest about his and Danglars' dastardly plan to frame her friend. "If anyone knew about this, we'd be done-for," Danglars had warned Fernand. "Oh, if they only knew…"
The most sketches she had were of the innocent sailor, Edmond Dantes. She would never give up hope, though many said he was a traitor, a criminal, or worse…dead. No, she thought, putting away the pictures and leaving out to the porch to collect the drying laundry. "One day, when I've completed my lessons and have my own little ship, I'm going out to find him…"
The laundry was hung in the nearby alley, secluded from prying eyes. This was usually a place where lovers met to exchange promises of love and a better future. Grabbing the wicker basket from the kitchen table, she stepped lightly outside and began to pull the clothes from the line.
"So…Caderousse spoke the truth."
Crystal froze at the voice. She felt her blood boil at once as she slowly turned to see Fernand, dressed handsomely in a pristine uniform, badges covering his coat.
"Mondego," she said, her voice emotionless, her eyes filled with hate. "I'm surprised to see an upper-crust such as yourself back in such a dismal, disgraceful town."
"Don't be so depressing, Crystal," he smiled shrewdly.
"Oh, you remember my name…must've been difficult for you," she sniffed, returning to her work.
Fernand ignored her comment and watched her with curious eyes as she grabbed the clothing from the line and placed it into her basket. "You've grown," he noted.
She said nothing.
"Caderousse, the old drunk, told me you're a fine young lady…rebellious as ever, but still a fine young lady."
She felt her stomach churn uncomfortably at his words. Something wasn't right… "Where's Mercedes?" she asked, continuing to avoid his gaze.
"She's back home in Paris with Albert."
"Albert?" she asked, confused.
"My son," he smiled.
"Oh." "I feel sorry already for the boy." She moved to another line, commencing her work as he watched on. "Did you come all this way just to watch me do chores?"
Stepping forward, he grabbed her hand, startling her. "Look at me, Crystal. I'm different…I'm important, rich…I'm practically a hero."
She scoffed. "Hero indeed," she scowled, yanking her arm away, placing her hand over her only necklace. "Why have you come here to tell me all this?"
"Why do you hate me so?" he frowned, somewhat hurt at her words. "I've always tried to be kind to you…"
"What do you want?" she hissed, facing him at last.
Glancing down upon her, he cleared his throat. "In Paris, men such as myself have great wealth, families, and other trimmings…we can have practically anything we want…" He reached out at this to stroke her face only to have her nearly bite his hand off.
"A mistress?" she hissed once more. "Out of all the people in Paris, in the WORLD, you came to me to ask if I would be your whore?" She gave him her most poisonous look before saying, "You're a monster. Utterly despicable."
"As if any man would have the sanity to even look at you and consider marriage!" he growled, his eyes on fire. He lunged forward, grabbing her arms and pinning her to the wall. She fidgeted in his grip, her mind racing. "I could give you the world!" he whispered, leaning towards her. "You'll get nowhere here…and no one minds you. I've always thought of you, Crystal…I've felt a degree of strong affection towards you-"
"You mean lust," she clarified, staring him down. "I will never give myself over to you…there's only one man that I would even consider giving myself to, if he were my age and if he were here! If he loved me and respected me and married me, only then would I give myself to him!"
"And who, pray tell, is he?" Fernand gnashed his teeth, his temper flaring.
Glaring him defiantly in the eye, she whispered a name: "Edmond Dantes."
Before she could blink, his hand flashed before her face, a loud smack filling the air as her cheek began to burn. He was furious at her words and was ready to make her pay when he felt a hard, sudden contact with his groin. Toppling aside, Crystal kicked him as she dropped the basket, running…
…Running straight into her uncle.
"Crystal, are you all right?" he asked, his face covered with concern.
Her jaw dropped, making her wonder how long he had been standing there. He looked over her shoulder to see Fernand, who was also in shock at the sight of Morrel.
Glaring at the man, Morrel sharply said, "You may be a Count now, Fernand, but that does not give you any reason to attack my niece. Leave now…if I see you again, or if you should go near my family…I'll hunt you down myself."
With these words and a final exchange of anger glares, Mondego left, his ego and manhood wounded. Once he was gone, Morrel helped Crystal pick up the clothes that had fallen from the laundry basket, hugging her tightly afterwards. "I'm sorry I didn't come sooner," he said softly, kissing her forehead.
"You heard us, then?" she sniffled, wiping her eyes.
He nodded. "This stays between us."
Grateful, she nodded and thanked him before getting up and walking back to the house with him. "Uncle Pierre?"
"I'm not going to change my mind."
Heaving a sigh, he scratched the back of his neck. "Yes, I know…once you've completed your schooling, I'll allow you to go out as you wish." Her eyes glistened as he spoke, as if to say "You mean it?" "Well, you're already skilled with a sword, you can handle a firearm, and you've already proven that you know self-defense," he chuckled. "I've taught you how to handle a skiff, so you should be able to manage with a small ship we've got here…maybe the Arabella?"
Embracing her uncle, she kissed his cheek. "Thank you."
"I should be thanking you for still believing," he smiled sadly. "I'm sure poor Edmond would appreciate it…"
"He will, when I find him," she said firmly. Glancing up at the grey, cloudy sky of Marseilles, she whispered, "I know you're out there somewhere, Edmond…just hold on a little longer…"