Disclaimer: I own none of the following characters. Purely for entertainment purposes.
Je ne sais, ne sais
Ne sais pas pourquoi
On s'aime comme ça-a.
La Seine et moi.
If you asked her when she'd first discovered that she didn't love Raoul, she wouldn't answer. Not at first. She'd blink a little, blush a little, and look away, fiddle with the flowers on her vanity, stroke the little gold locket around her neck. You'd think for a minute that maybe she didn't hear you, maybe she didn't understand your question.
You'd be wrong.
She's just thinking.
She's trying to identify the first time she realized it, that she didn't feel anything more for her childhood friend than…well, friendship. It's hard for her to put her finger on. She doesn't think she can nail it down to one particular instance.
Maybe she just…has never loved him.
Yes, it's easy to love someone you have known your entire life. You love your parents. You love your friends. You love the familiar, the faces that have appeared consistently in your vision for nigh on twenty-five years now, and so, of course, she'd love Raoul. Ever since she'd met him. Stolen his little, ridiculous toy truck, fled behind a tree giggling, watched in utter confusion as he sprinted away, weeping, when she'd only been teasing.
She loves Raoul desperately.
But she isn't in love with him.
She would tell you this. She would absently stroke the rose petals in their crystal vase, the one she kept on the piano sometimes, and she would tell you this.
And you, clutching your green hat, biting your lip, would ask her why.
She would shake her head, sit down at her mirror, stare pensively into the glass and whisper that she doesn't know. Maybe it's as simple as knowing him too long. Too well. He has lost his mystery for her. When she looks at him, all she can see is the goofy, day-dreaming, bad student she knew in first grade, long-limbed, awkward, with impossibly messy hair and a faraway look in his eyes from which she could not pull him away. She cannot see him as a man. Especially not as a man she could be in love with.
In the back of your mind, you can picture Raoul with his characteristic bad luck, just happen to be walking past her dressing room door at this moment, hear this, stop, stunned and hurt beyond belief, and you lower your voice, approaching her cautiously. Her angel wings flutter slightly as she removes them, and places them on the mannequin beside her.
Why did you tell him you did? The question slips from your throat, unbidden, before you can stop yourself, and you find pride in your ability to disguise your…anger? Sadness? Disappointment?
She sighs, again, staring at the roses, and you wonder suddenly who they are from.
Again, she doesn't quite know how to answer your question. She tells you that she was high on the rush of victory, on the thrill of success in their mission to protect the Monster of Paris from the true monster in their midst, and she felt infinite gratefulness to Raoul for his help. She'd never known him to be brave, and so when he'd rescued her, rescued the Monster, conquered his own fears and conquered hers too, she didn't know what else to give him. Except the one thing she knew he wanted.
You freeze, your hat brim bent backwards in your fist. She knew?
She smiles. She'd overheard you speaking with Raoul, shouting at him, while you fought over Maud's postcard in the box at L'Oiseau Rare. She'd heard you confess for him. Practically the entire cabaret heard you.
You blush in shame. You know it truly has nothing to do with you, but you cannot help but feel a twinge of guilt. Somehow, some part of this mess is all your fault. You are responsible for your best friend's misfortune.
But she rescues you, releases the blame, by telling you with a little quirk of her perfect, peach mouth that she's always known how Raoul has felt about her. He thought he disguised it so well. She couldn't find the heart to tell him.
She falls silent then, her typical ram-rod, immaculate posture slouched slightly on the velvet cushion. She stares at an object on her desk, her little brass comb, and for some reason it seems to absorb her whole attention. She is not going to say anything else without prompting. You clear your throat.
Is there another?
She jumps, whirls, auburn curls flying, and asks whatever gave you that idea.
You begin to answer when there is a slight tapping at the door. Just the lightest of knocks, so soft you could swear on money that there had been nothing at all. She freezes, straightens, corrects her hair and bids the interloper softly come in.
The door opens. A giant of a creature looms through the doorway, dressed in a white suit and a blue scarf, his signature mask removed, and his square shoulders filling the threshold. His eyes are wide, yellow, impossibly big with the darkest pupils you've ever seen, and they lock with yours when he steps into the room. He seems shocked to find you there, but he greets you nonetheless with a soft chirping.
Francoeur, you answer with a smile.
He pays you no more mind, and makes a beeline for Lucille. He crouches to his knees before her, takes her hand, and smiles a smile you've only seen a handful of times on his face, and he begins crooning softly, intimately, and the gentle noise fills the room.
She answers, beaming, folding his gloved hands in hers, and speaks to him, with him, her eyes gazing down into his with a look that makes you blush, suddenly feel extremely warm and crowded in this too-small room, and the realization hits you over the head with a hammer.
From snippets of their conversation, you can tell that they are discussing their performance tonight. She praises his dancing, lifts a hand to his cheek, and the blue skin beneath her touch blooms into purple. He answers with soft clicks and whistles, purrs that only she can understand, but at this point, language is superfluous. You can read it in their eyes as plain as day.
You stumble back against the door, feeling for the knob, and when your hand makes very audible contact with the brass, she looks up at you. As though suddenly remembering your existence.
"Are you alright, Emile?" she would ask you, only the slightest of distracted concern flexing her brow. If anything, she looks a trifle annoyed with you. You have pulled her focus from Francoeur's eyes. The flea looks at you innocently, wide-eyed, a childishness in his gaze that crushes your chest, and you cannot breathe.
You cannot speak. You stammer an apology, and you leave as quickly as you can.
She loves him. She loves him. And he loves her in return. You can see it in their eyes.
Emotions war in your head, a mixture of shock, betrayal, hurt, confusion, excitement, and, though you're reluctant to admit it, the smallest hint of disgust. How could she? Raoul is your best friend, and though you have nothing against Francoeur, for the record and species aside, Raoul saw her first. How can she do this to them? To this nucleus of a family he's built his world around, his life, his home, his heart? How can she rip them apart so easily and not even seem aware that she's doing it?
You stop, extend a hand, and brace yourself against the mottled green walls of backstage L'Oiseau Rare, and you're suddenly, incredibly sad for all three of them. Lucille, in love with a beast, Francoeur, in love with a beauty, and Raoul? Unrequited, alone, fooled into believing the love he shares with the Angel is real and solid, and you wonder how you'll ever be able to tell him.
You wonder if you should tell him at all.