It had been years since I'd seen Edmond Dantes; I could see how many did not recognize him.
Edmond had changed. He had become a man, strong, intelligent, and more fierce some than I could ever have imagined him.
We had been close friends before he was arrested on false charges, and I, believing that surely he would soon be proven innocent took care of his father.
It did not take me long to guess that Monsieur Villefort had played a part in the betrayal of Edmond Dantes. Other pieces soon began to fall into place as well... I hadn't believed in Fernand's feigned attempt to free Edmond at all.
There was something in his eyes, something in the way he acted that revealed his true nature. Though whether or not he had been involved since the beginning or had suddenly had a change of heart once he saw his chance with Mercedes' was a mystery to me.
I confronted him about it, but as one would expect, he denied all involvement. He cursed me for even suggesting that he would betray Edmond. I might have believed that I had imagined the causes of my suspicions in him, had I not been forced to flee for my life the very next day.
Then, came the news of Edmond's death… It was news that at first cut me in two, but that I soon came to terms with under the illusion that, like Edmond's crime, the news of his death had been falsified.
I had no proof of this, but my heart chose to believe it, even if my head told me it wasn't true.
And so here I stand now, panting in the darkest part of the alleyway staring at the back of the man I love.
I had called out to him, making sure we were far from the party three blocks down before I did so.
"Edmond!" I had called after him, "Edmond Dantes…"
He stopped, tilting his hat ever so slightly as he called quietly over his shoulder. "I regret to inform you, madam, that Edmond Dantes is dead." The voice was hollow, dripping with false regret, but it was Edmond's.
"Then why did you stop when I called out your name?"
I was no fool, I knew who he was, and he couldn't lie to me, I wouldn't allow him to. I'd loved him since we were children, and had he not wasted his life chasing after Mercedes, he might have seen that. For him to imagine that for even a moment that I wouldn't know his voice, that I wouldn't recognize his eyes, was a betrayal on its own.
I shook my head brushing these thoughts aside as I awaited his answer.
"You're mistaken Madam."
Again I shook my head, this time in defiance, "I disagree Monsieur."
A moment of silence passed between us.
"Believe what you like." The words were cold, harsh, like the ones before them…
He approached me furiously now, "EDMOND DANTES IS DEAD." He hissed, glaring fiercely down at me.
I couldn't stop the tears that brimmed in my eyes, and all I could think was of how much he'd changed, how much I loved him despite it all.
He seemed to stop for a moment, breath hitching in his chest, before he spun violently away from me, his cloak whipping violently in the wind as he stormed down the alley.
I felt my knees grow weak, as I fell to the ground, effectively ruining the dress I'd worked so hard to buy. I didn't care, the dress was just material, it could be mended with a bit of hard work. Edmond's heart would be harder to mend.
I did not know if I could help him before he made a mistake he would regret for years to come… but I was willing to try.
I was willing to do whatever it took to help him, to bring him back… because in the depths of the Count of Monte Cristo's eyes I could see unbearable pain and despair buried deep beneath his fury.
The count had been wrong when he'd said that Edmond Dantes was dead… I knew better…
Edmond Dantes had never been a furious man, and so the count was Edmond's fury. The count was Edmond's vengeance because Edmond had never believed in revenge. The count and Edmond were one in the same. Two sides of the same coin. No, Edmond Dantes was not dead; he was hiding; hiding behind a fancy title and a false name.