A/N. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Yes, this is primarily a love story. Just a basic wish to fix the situation. (The illogical thoughts of Mercédès are caused by her natural reaction to his visit. Nothing incurable)...
"Stay," she whispered after a heavy pause, turning back to face him. "If you have no business to attend to… yes, I would rather you stayed and waited for Albert... Edmond." Mercédès was feeling weak; her mind kept telling her it was not right to address him by his first name... Her heart kept telling her Edmond Dantès was truly back int her life… for better or for worse.
Meeting his eyes required some inner strength from her. She knew the "waiting for Albert" part was something she had made up to mask her uneasiness. She could have acted as if she were nervous about how their meeting would go. It would have been a most transparent excuse, as she knew the Count and Albert got along well. But Albert and Edmond? The son and his father?
Dantès smiled, not attempting to hide his joy from her. He understood her reasoning fairly well. Having learnt human psychology the hard way… Knowing hers well did help, but was frightening at the same time. Was their child the only thing important for her now?
"You should know, Mercédès," Edmond spoke uneasily, afraid that touching upon the subject would shatter his hopes about their future completely, yet understanding there was only a very tiny chance of it happening. "Your last name had never changed this way in my mind…" he stopped. "I could never have thought you would marry my best friend," he cringed. Mondego was dead. Gone, never to return. The only traces of the traitor were now encountered in this very household…
"Why bring sad things up again?" The voice of Mercédès was but a broken whisper, and she did not look at him. Her last name. Their son's last name. It was all wrong. "I would have preferred to have yours, you know. Albert should have been a Dantès from the very start… should have known the truth from the beginning." However, she knew it was her marriage that saved her from public disgrace. It seemed to be a mistake, nonetheless...
"No, Mercédès. Albert has use of it, even more so now that your husband is gone… Mercédès Mondego, not Mercédès Herrera." Not Mercédès Dantès, either. She believed she could hear discontent in his voice.
"Forgive me," she muttered, meeting his eyes at last. This, however, did her no good.
"No need to apologise… There was nothing else for you to do," he realised how much she had been suffering all these years. "We were victims of circumstance… both you and me, my Mercédès…" The tone of his voice seemed to bring back so many things… She felt her hands tremble.
Mercédès was feeling uncomfortable at the apparent familiarity, once so common between them. It was no surprise that she turned her eyes away from him once again. The feeling impossible to have for any other was there, attacking her violently. The only way to ignore it was to pretend nothing was wrong, the way she had when she had thought her Edmond dead.
"Your name opens every door for you, as well," Mercédès finally found the courage to speak, her tone strangely artificial.
"Monte Cristo, the Count?" he uttered the words rather sadly, his tone suddenly acquiring a mocking shade. "Oh yes, it does. I can have almost everything I have ever been dreaming about." Almost…
Mercédès took a deep breath. "I am happy for you," her small smile made Dantès regret his words at once. He wished to see her smile at him again… but not like this.
Instead of saying anything, he came up to her and made her look up at him.
Edmond was worried about her. It seemed as if Mercédès was close to losing consciousness. He grabbed her by the hand, concerned. The woman froze in place. The pretending did not seem to be working. She was tense, uneasy and puzzled about the effect the…Count had on her. Her head was about to start spinning. And now he was holding her hand! What sorcery was this?
"What is wrong? Is my presence really troubling you so much, Mercédès?" His voice was soft and caring… this was Edmond, her Edmond… They had all fooled her, saying he was dead! He was right there beside her, holding her hand, watching her closely and… and…
Dantès was there to catch her. "You need to lie down right away. I will tell everybody you are not to be disturbed." If it was he who was causing all the trouble… The Count was ready to leave. Her health and sanity were much more important than-
She did not object, when being led upstairs to her bedroom. "Where is this life leading us?" She whispered, certain of nothing and not waiting for an answer. The man she loved was now somebody else. She was now somebody else. "Thank you for helping me…"
Edmond did not know what to expect from her. Blaming himself for putting Mercédès through everything, he could only fix his eyes on some giant colourful tasteless tapestries. "You have asked me to stay, remember?" He had to keep her aware of the fact he was ready to stay with her for as long as she would have him.
Instead of reacting to his statement-question, the beautiful woman gave one to him. "Explain this to me… Who are you? Are you the Count of Monte Cristo… or Edmond Dantès? Or someone else?"
He did not think it was going to be so complicated. But it seemed to be.
"I could be anyone you need me to be, Mercédès."
Anyone? Anyone? He could never be "anyone" for her! Why was he talking like this?
Dantès could read confusion in her eyes. Apparently, she did not feel well. Could not think clearly. He sighed. "Have some rest now… I will be here."
He intended to stay, whatever the cost. And Mercédès was the last person he could lie to. Edmond did not know where their story was going. If there still was a story between them possible to rebuild. There had to be.