Tag Archives: fanfic

Fanfic Update

Finished posting my first Spooks stories. Glad that it got such a good reaction. Posting a first story in a new universe is a nerve-wrecking thing – you never know if you’re true to the characters and their environment. Looks like I did fine here though, and as a consequence I’ve got 3 further stories planned in the Spooks universe.

Spooks:
Reunion (completed)

Jane Eyre:
Some Enchanted Evening (still uploading)

Fanfic Update

Spooks:
Reunion (still uploading chapters)

North and South:
In the Company of Children (complete)

Jane Eyre:
Awakenings (complete)

It’s interesting to analyse the traffic for my stories. Most of the hits for North and South, Jane Eyre and X-Files are from the States, but for my Spooks story they are mostly from the UK. Not too surprising really, considering that Spooks rarely shown in the States. Australia’s got a pretty fanatical group of fans though.

I’ll start posting my long-haul Jane Eyre story next.

Fanfic Update

I’m posting pretty quickly here… Quite impressed at the moment with the response I’m getting. The audience is definitely more far-reaching than any forum I’ve ever posted in.

If you read please also take the time to review! Always appreciated.

Spooks:
Reunion (still uploading chapters)

North and South:
In the Company of Children (still uploading chapters)

Jane Eyre:
Awakenings (still uploading chapters)

X-Files:
Bittersweet Symphony (complete)
The End of the Beginning (complete)

Fanfic Update

I’ve been busy posting my stories on Fan Fiction Net, and realised I have been industrious over the years. So here are the stories I’ve posted so far…

Jane Eyre:
A Sort of Homecoming
Love in a Major Key

North and South:
In the Company of Children (still uploading chapters)

X-Files:
By the Beam of My Flashlight
Raw Hide
Bittersweet Symphony (still uploading chapters)

It’s kind of funny reading back over the X-Files stories, because I wrote these about 13 years ago while I was still at uni, when X-Files was all the rage. Now David Duchovny’s doing nothing much, and Gillian Anderson’s on the London stage with Toby Stephens… Times have changed.

Together Alone

I know it’s been absolutely ages since I posted last on this, but be assured that I’m still writing. Just to refresh your memories, Rochester has just received some urgent news. What could it be?

Now we’ll let Jane tell her story.

**

I gasped with shock as soon as the icy wind hit my skin. It must have been close to freezing, and my thin shawl was wholly inadequate to fend off the chill. Wrapping the flimsy material about me, I hastened through the darkness toward the servant’s entrance on the other side of the house, but the wind was so cold that I had not made it half way before I began to shiver.

When I finally got to the entrance, I was faced with another problem – a pair of visiting valets stood guard at the door, smoking and talking. It would not do to attract their attention so I hid behind a bush and waited. By the time they returned inside my teeth were chattering, but fortunately I was able to dash inside and return to my chamber unseen.

As soon as I bolted my door, I wrapped myself in a thick, woollen shawl and stood in front of the fire until the shivering subsided. Then replacing my dress with my nightgown, I climbed underneath the covers. Still, the feeling of cold did not entirely abate – my feet remained ice-cold and the rest of me could not seem to get warm. Closing my eyes, my thoughts immediately drifted to Edward – his yearning, passionate kisses, the feel of his hands upon me – the feeling that what we did was so very right.

Jane Eyre, you forget yourself! Such things can never be right!

But how can it be wrong to be so loved?

When it is wrong in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God, you silly fool!

Somehow I managed to drift into a restless sleep where I dreamed of the jewel-like eyes of my lover – his husky voice sending shivers of delight down my spine, his kisses as blistering as fiery embers, his deft fingers caressing me from head to foot. My dream lover pulled me into his hard chest, and as he did I felt my skin dissolve into his, merging us into one physical body. The feel of him in me and me in him was akin to ecstasy, and the sensation of his heart beating within my breast suspended all fears so that we floated in a cocoon of happiness.

But as we revelled in bliss, a wild-haired demon bounded in, destroying our cocoon in one fell swoop, and we were agonisingly ripped apart, atom-by-atom. Separated once more we shrivelled until we were merely skin and bone, devoid as we were of happiness, of love, of hope.

I awoke to an aching head, a sweaty brow, and a heart was heavy with desolation. If my dream was a sign of what was to come, then would Edward forget me once he left Ardfry? Was I destined to live alone, mourning the loss of my soul friend for the rest of my life?

A knock. “Miss Eyre? Are you there?”

It was Máire. Looking at my pocket watch, I saw that I had slept so long that I would be late for the children’s lessons if I did not hurry. I struggled out of bed and opened the door.

“Miss, you look a fright! I got worried when you did not come to breakfast, but now I see that you are not well.”

“I am very well!” I protested, “I only need to eat a little.”

“If you say so, miss.” Máire said reluctantly. “The children shall be ready in half-an-hour.”

“Don’t worry, I shall be there.”

My body felt sluggish and a little feverish as I washed and dressed. By the time I entered the servant’s dining room, the sideboard was bare and the room deserted. Since most were undoubtedly going about their duties in the breakfast parlour I went into the kitchen where the cook was laying out toast. She gave me an annoyed glance when I asked if she could set some aside for me, but nevertheless handed me a few slices and a cup of tea. I took my breakfast back to the empty dining room and ate it there, but just as I was consuming my last morsel of toast, I saw Mrs. Kirwan enter.

“You are late. Where were you at breakfast, Miss Eyre?”

“I am sorry, Mrs. Kirwan. I’m afraid that I overslept this morning.”

She looked at her watch and said, “And late for the children’s lessons too, I see. The mistress will not be pleased.”

She studied me grimly. “You are very pale, Miss Eyre, as if you are feverish. What on earth were you doing last night?”

I replied, “I put the children to bed and then retired to my room. I had not a very restful sleep because the storm kept me awake, but otherwise I am fine.”

“So you did not come downstairs again? Because Mr. Rochester found the nursery candle in the drawing room.”

The candle – I had forgotten about the candle!

“No,” I lied, “I went straight to bed.”

She was not entirely convinced but thankfully let the subject pass. “Well, with winter here these storms will be as regular as clockwork. I suppose you don’t get such fierce weather where you’re from but you must get used to it here. I cannot have you poorly and expose the children to illness when they are such delicate creatures.”

“I shall take care, Mrs. Kirwan. Now you must excuse me or I will really be late for the children’s lessons.”

I made my way back upstairs and met Miss Joyce coming out of the breakfast parlour. She invited me to have tea with her – an invitation I readily accepted. After agreeing to meet with her in the afternoon, I was finally able to rush upstairs to the school room. Mercifully, the children were in a good mood after their triumphant performances last night. I would have had little patience to deal with their misdemeanours, for my body weakened as the morning wore on. I was glad when luncheon came around for I needed the rest. A little nap would have done nicely, but as I made my way to my chamber, I saw Edward approach. He had a look of infinite grimness that I often saw in the days when he first returned to Thornfield – a look that alarmed me.

I forgot my infirmity and immediately asked, “Is there anything wrong?”

He gave me a half-smile. “When is anything ever right, Jane?”

Edward looked so defeated that I knew that something terrible had happened – but what?

But instead of continuing, he asked me, “Are you well, Jane? You are so pale. Did you catch a chill when I forced you outside last night?”

“No, I am well, just a little tired.”

“Are you sure?”

“Don’t worry about me. What about you?”

He looked down the long corridor, before suggesting, “Shall we walk to the end there?”

I nodded. We walked slowly to the large windows at the end of the corridor, and then looked out on the stormy landscape – the fierce wind that threatened to snap trees in two, the whipping rain that lashed horizontally across the fields.

When he did not speak I put my hand gently on his arm. “Tell me, what is the matter?”

He dropped his head, and whispered, “I must go.”

“When?”

“Today.”

A knot tightened in my stomach. “So soon?”

He nodded. “I just received a letter from Mrs. Fairfax. Grace has been wounded. She had a little too much to drink, as is her wont of late, but this time Bertha took full advantage of her indiscretion.”

I shivered. The wild-haired demon in my dream – it was Bertha!

The horrors that she caused at Thornfield instantly came to me – the attempted burning of her husband, the biting and the stabbing of her brother. What has she done now?

“Is Mrs. Poole much injured?”

He nodded. “She was stabbed in the stomach. Luckily Carter got to her quick enough to prevent her from bleeding to death.”

I clutched his arm, drawing him close. “Poor Mrs. Poole…”

“She is under his care now, but not likely to recover for some weeks, perhaps months. In the meantime, Bertha is without a carer. The servants have looked after her so far, but none of them are fit to do it permanently – that task falls to me.”

He laughed bitterly. “Poor Grace. She does not deserve such a fate since the fault is mine to begin with. That is what happens when one neglects one’s wife – one’s life literally falls apart around you! But this time I shall attend to my duties – I shall never escape from Thornfield again!”

There was such pain in his voice, in his look, that I was ready to do anything to ease it. “You cannot do this alone, Edward. Let me help you – let me help you take care of Bertha.”

He gave me a forlorn smile. Then lifting a hand to my cheek, he stroked it softly with his thumb, and said, “You don’t know what you are asking, my little firebird. Your selflessness, loving heart might think that you are doing me a good turn, but I shall not let you condemn yourself. Opportunities await you – you have an uncle in Madeira, and newfound relatives and friends that will certainly change your life for the better. Let me go to hell alone, as I deserve.”

“No!” I cried. “How many times do I have to tell you that you are a good man and deserve better? I shall not let you go alone, for I cannot abandon any friend of mine.”

“You talk of friends, Jane, but can you see us remaining just friends if you do come with me?”

He stared piercingly at me, and there was no hiding the fact that as much as I loved him, I also desired him with all my being.

“You and I know that we are not the platonic sort, Jane, as last night’s encounter testified, and if I cannot marry you then it is better that I not have you at all.”

His eyes were flint-like, full of bitter acceptance at his fate. No longer able to hide my anxiety, I wept – not for the prospect of a life without him, but for the kind of life he had been condemned to – spending day after day in that cold, damp tower – risking life and limb to attend to his wife. He would be worn down in a matter of weeks, and shrivel up to nothing as he had in my dream.

When he saw my tears, his hard countenance crumbled. Without a word we threw our arms around each, grasping each other as if our lives depended upon it.

“Jane…” he whispered, “I don’t know what I will do without you.”

“Then don’t do without me – let me share your burden. Write to me – about anything you like, no matter how trivial – I want to hear all of it.”

To my surprise, I heard him chuckle. “Do you? Even about Pilot’s latest misdemeanour?”

Especially about Pilot’s misdemeanours. Please Edward, promise me that you will write.”

“I promise!” he rasped.

“Good.” I replied, smiling into his chest. “For though I may be five hundred miles away, I am still yours – whether you like it or not.”

**

Read more

OR

Catch up on previous sections…
4: An Irish Air
3: Soul Friends
2: Listless
1: Revelation

An Irish Air

Back with the next section of Across the Sea, and we find Rochester in a good mood. But will it last?

**

“You were right in saying that she is talented.” said Blake to me after dinner.

He was of course speaking of Jane, who sat quietly – radiantly – with Lady Blake and the children.

Blake continued, “I would go so far to say that she possesses extraordinary abilities for such a young girl.”

“I am glad that you appreciate her talents. Not many would, you know.”

“And she said you had taught her while she was at Thornfield?”

“Yes, the natural sciences – or what I know of it. She was interested; hence I was more than willing to impart my knowledge. Apart from Eshton, there are not many people in the world who claim an interest, as you very well know.”

Blake chuckled. “Yes, I know that I have long disappointed the both of you with my lack of interest in science, but knowing what a sieve of a brain I have for facts, I had better stick to my horses and dogs!”

We both laughed and took a sip of our whiskeys.

“But more seriously,” said I, “I must thank you for taking on Miss Eyre. I did not like sending her all this way on her own, but it was the least I could do to ensure that she had a good place to go to when Adèle went to school. A governess’s life is tenuous at the very best. I could not bear to throw such a girl, already alone in the world, out to the wolves.”

Blake looked back at Jane. “Such a brilliant girl without family or connections – that is a pitiful thing.”

“Not pitiful, Blake – it is a source of inspiration.”

I excused myself and walked over to join the little group. Jane eyes glittered when she spotted my approach, and I could not help but grin back. Then again, after this afternoon, I would grin at anything. I seated myself in an armchair adjacent to hers, and would have stared at her all night if it was not for Lady Blake.

“Ah, Mr. Rochester, just the man we wanted to see. Erroll here has some questions to ask of you.”

“I told him that you have been to Africa.” added Jane.

“Yes, that is so,” I replied in the most serious manner, “So what would you like to ask me – out with it, boy!”

But the boy remained mum, gazing at me with large eyes before hastily whispering something into Jane’s ear.

“It’s alright,” I heard her say; “He is not as frightful as he looks – truly.”

The boy swallowed, and then said hesitantly, “Sir, have you seen a lion?”

“I have.”

“And a… a hippopotamus?”

“That too.”

The boy’s face lit up. “Is it frightfully big?” he asked in excitement.

“Frightfully – and dangerous too – they can outrun a man if they wish.”

After that it was inevitable that Erroll plied me with more questions, to the consternation of his sister, who also asked her fair share. Jane sat listening amusedly, and to my surprise I quite enjoyed this little interlude, until a disquieting thought came to me.

Was this what it was like to have a family?

I frowned, and my expression did not slip Jane by. She caught my eye questioningly, but not being able to voice my thoughts at that moment, I could only return a half-hearted smile.

So close we are – and yet so very far away!

At least you know that she loves you and trusts you.

But is her trust misplaced?

Too soon, it was time for Jane and the children to retire for the night. I watched them go with regret, barely noticing that Arthur had returned to the drawing room and was studying me closely.

After breakfast the following morning, he invited me to go riding with him. Eager to stretch our legs before the party, we saddled our horses – magnificent geldings courtesy of our host – and galloped around the bay towards the nearby woods. After half-an-hour of hard riding, we reeled in the reins and slowed the horses down to an easy walk. Still, there was little talk, I being preoccupied with Jane, and Eshton – well, something was evidently troubling him, though I had no idea what it could be.

When we reached the edge of the woods, Eshton dismounted and suggested that we walked for awhile. I joined him on the ground and together we walked the horses towards the shore.

It was only then that Eshton remarked, “You seem a little happier of late, Edward.”

I paused and looked at him cautiously.

“So do you, Arthur.” Up until this morning, that is.

He continued, “I suppose the Irish air is doing us both a world of good.”

“One cannot help feeling good when one is surrounded by this stunning prospect.” I replied, looking out on to the vast Galway Bay with its uniformly clear skies, its sparkling blue water, and its emerald-green grass.

“So you would be glad to stay a little longer than a fortnight?”

I grinned. I would be happy to stay here all my life – as long as Jane was with me.

“Yes, Arthur, I shall be happy to extend our stay. But why this sudden change of plan?”

He looked ill-at-ease but still replied, “Nothing to speak of, Edward. Just like you, I have discovered the beauty of this place, and now find it hard to leave.”

Somehow, his words made me uneasy, but I did not have time to dwell on it for he quickly added, “But one word of advice, Edward.”

“Advice? About what?”

“About… About Miss Eyre. I noticed how you are getting on much better with her of late-”

“So you have been watching us? Spying on us?”

“No, of course not! But it was unusual to see the two of you together last night after you had scrupulously avoided her since we first arrived. Edward, as a friend who knows the extent of your situation, I just want you to think about what you are doing.”

“What I am doing?” I cried furiously, “Who do you think I am? I am not out to ruin her, Arthur, but cannot two good friends spend some time together?”

“Not when they are practically lovers.”

A charged pause.

Then Arthur said gently, “Look, I know you would not intentionally hurt her, but Edward, please be careful for there is so much at stake here.”

At stake? I knew very well what was at stake. But why was he concerned all of a sudden?

And then it came to me.

Oh, Arthur, surely not.

**

Read more

OR

Catch up on previous sections…
3: Soul Friends
2: Listless
1: Revelations

Soul Friends

Continuing the saga that is Across the Sea, let’s catch up with Jane.

**

The children were restless the whole morning, finding a multitude of reasons to stop and fret.

“These sums are so difficult, Miss Eyre.” moaned Lizzy, my precocious nine year old charge. “Please, can we play outside instead?”

“Oh, yes, Miss, can we?” echoed her spirited younger brother, Erroll. “We cannot miss seeing Mamma and Papa arrive home with the beautiful ladies.”

“How do you know the guests will be ladies, Erroll?” I asked amusedly, “It could well be a lady and a gentleman.”

“It cannot be a lady and a gentleman because Mrs. Kirwan said she’s to prepare two rooms.” replied the astute boy.

“I’d rather it be ladies since I do so wish to see their pretty gowns!” chimed his sister.

I smiled inwardly. The master and mistress’s homecoming had been the children’s focus all this week, ever since Lord Blake’s letter arrived informing Ardfry of their imminent return – along with two unnamed guests. Since then the household had been in a whirl of frenzied preparation, sending the children into ecstatic expectation.

“So can we finish early, Miss Eyre?”

Their eager blue eyes gazed at me so excitedly that I struggled not to laugh. “Finish your arithmetic and we shall see about going outside to sketch.”

“By the pond?” asked Lizzy hopefully.

“If you complete all your sums in silence.”

That was motivation enough for the both them since they both loved to draw. They also knew full well that the pond afforded a good view of the drive, and hence of any incoming carriages.

As my pupils scribbled their answers upon their slates, I went to the window to look out upon the bare November garden, the green patchwork fields beyond, and the grey sky mirrored in the blue-grey sea. The sea. Three months ago I had never even glimpsed the sea, and now I was surrounded by it. The waters of Galway Bay encompassed Ardfry on three sides, making it feel as if the house was perpetually afloat.

So different from the refined, pastoral scenes at Thornfield – so wild.

The west coast of Ireland was more rugged than I ever imagined, much wilder than even the moors of Lowood. Here, one had no protection from the untamed squalls that blew in from the Atlantic, and all life seemed geared towards self-preservation. Plants were small and hardy, and the cottages squat and stout, as stout as the people who lived in them.

A world away from Thornfield. A world away from…

A flood of sorrow flowed through me as I thought of Mr. Rochester, of his mournful eyes as he bid me farewell. Where was he now? Far away from here, I was certain. Did he move on as I bid him to? Did he try to rebuild his life? Shall I ever know?

“Miss Eyre, we have finished!” I heard Erroll cry.

I turned around and saw that both the children had laid down their chalks. Their eagerness made me yearn for the simplicity of childhood and its lack of complications, but I knew that one cannot relive the past, just as one cannot predict the future.

Live in the present, Jane Eyre. Think of nothing more than the here and now.

But it is so hard!

Have faith, child.

I returned to the children and cast a quick eye over their work. With a grin I said, “Good work, the both of you. Now if you are quick to put on your warm things, we may go out to sketch before luncheon.”

They raced away after I had instructed them to meet me at the front door, leaving me free to return to my chamber down the corridor. My room here was smaller than my chamber at Thornfield, but what it lacked in dimension it made up for in its cheerfulness. Facing the south, it received the full face of the sun and afforded comforting views of the fields, hills, and mysterious grey mountains of the Burren.

As I put on my merino cloak, bonnet and gloves, I saw that the mountains were hidden under a covering of cloud – a sign that rain may be on its way. Knowing that time was precious, I retrieved my box of drawing materials and a blanket before making my way downstairs to the entrance hall. It was quiet there, most of the activity being in the kitchens where preparations for luncheon were taking place. I stood examining a portrait of a handsome officer, but I was not alone for long.

Mrs. Kirwan suddenly appeared from an adjoining room. Like Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper of Ardfry was middle-aged and widowed, but that was where the resemblance ended. Mrs. Kirwan was a formidable character – tall, stern, careful, and efficient. She was well-known for demanding high standards from those under her tutelage, particularly newcomers who had arrived unexpectedly.

“A girl sent all that way – alone?” I had once overheard her say, “She is either brilliant or trouble.”

Since then, she had kept a close eye on me, more so since Lord and Lady Blake departed for England. Now she took in my cloak, drawing box and blanket, and asked sternly, “Where are you going, Miss Eyre?”

“Taking the children to the pond for their art lessons.” I replied as calmly as I could.

“When it’s threatening rain?” she said disapprovingly.

“I shall not keep them out too long.”

“Humph. For your sake, I hope that they do not catch a cold, not with the master and mistress almost home.”

“I shall make certain that they are appropriately dressed, ma’am.”

“I hope so. Be certain to bring them in for luncheon at half past twelve – sharp, you understand.”

“Yes, Mrs. Kirwan.”

The arrival of the children thankfully saved me from further reprimand. Instead, Mrs. Kirwan gave the children an almost cheerful smile, adjusting Erroll’s coat and Lizzy’s bonnet, before sending us all on our way.

The air outside was crisp, but the children, excited to be out-of-doors after a rainy week, chattered and skipped happily along the path. We swiftly passed the carefully clipped hedges and bare flower beds of the ornamental garden, and soon arrived at the pond. There, I set out the blanket, took out the paper and pencils, and bid the children to sketch the pond in front of them.

As they set about this task, I added, “Now children, use your imagination. Imagine that the pond is in somewhere magical, like a jungle or a distant valley, and imagine that your favourite animal lives in it.”

“Like a hippopotamus?” asked Erroll.

“Yes. Imagine it swimming among the reeds.”

“Or a flamingo? They’re so lovely and pink.”

“Yes, Lizzy. Can you see it perched upon its long legs? I want you to draw these animals in your pond.”

As they continued drawing, I too began to sketch the pond. Working quickly, I drew the shoreline with its tall reeds, and then the hills beyond. But there were no hippopotamuses or flamingos to be seen in my drawing, but a lone horse and rider galloping away upon a distant road, followed closely behind by a great, shaggy dog.

“Are they on a hunt, Miss Eyre?” asked Erroll from over my shoulder.

I blushed, and quickly regaining composure, replied, “No, they are on a long journey.”

“Where to?”

“I do not know,” I said sadly, “And I do not think the rider knows either.”

“They are on an adventure!” Erroll concluded joyfully. “I would love to go on an adventure!”

I gave a wistful smile as he told me of his future plans to explore the deepest, darkest Africa. His thirst for travel inevitably reminded me of Mr. Rochester. Was he like this boy as a child, full of dreams and vitality? To my chagrin, I felt a tear well and fall as I thought of how his dreams had been quashed by the cruel heel of life. Would his dreams ever be fulfilled? Would mine?

“Miss Eyre! Miss Eyre!” I heard the children cry. “Are you unwell?”

“No, I am fine.” I managed to reply, hastily wiping the tear away with the back of my hand.

Lizzy came up beside me and took my hand. “Don’t worry, Miss Eyre. We won’t go on any adventures before we are grown up. And you can come with us!”

I drew them both near and kissed each their foreheads. “Thank you. I am honoured to be invited.”

We continued outside for another half an hour until a misty rain began to fall. As we rushed back to the house, we heard a clatter of wheels over gravel, and through the rain I saw four figures alight from the carriage.

**

Of course, you might be thinking what Jane might have seen from Ardfry. Well, it might look something like this:

**

Read more

OR

Catch up on previous sections…
2: Listless
1: Revelations

Listless

After some requests, I’ve continued on from where Across the Sea left off…

****

The night was clear, unusual enough for a November evening after weeks of heavy skies. From my opulent suite at the Claredon I looked out on to busy Bond Street. Though night had fallen more than an hour before, there was still plenty of activity as horses and carriages drove by, their lamps like fireflies in the night. On such a night one dreamed of the open countryside, not of grim London, but London was where I was – far away from the gardens, the river, and the fields of Thornfield – far away from any reminders of Jane Eyre.

Determined as I was to await the news of her safe arrival at Ardfry House, I stayed a month after Jane’s departure. But though I had little doubt that life without her would be difficult, little did I know how difficult it would be. There was no escaping her at Thornfield, not when a stroll by the riverside brought back memories of our intimate talks, not when Mrs. Fairfax’s praises reminded me of how much Jane was loved, not when the howl of the storm prompted the recollection of our final night together – how we had embraced beside the flickering fire, so entwined, so in love.

My memories were all that I had left of her, bittersweet remnants that in an instant could lift me to ecstatic heights only to drown me in its murky depths. But was this not better than living in perpetual guilt, better than incurring Jane’s eternal hate when she inevitably found out the truth?

You know it is, Rochester! So bear up and be a man for once! Live the life that she asked of you – one lived to the fullest!

I laughed bitterly, for I had made a poor effort thus far. As the days passed, I grew ever more morose, so much so that it cast a noticeable air of uneasiness among my household. This was particularly evident among my most valued staff – Leah no longer exchanged pleasantries but flew away as soon as she fulfilled her task, George kept a stern silence whenever I ordered another decanter of brandy – even Mrs. Fairfax cast a concerned motherly eye over me whenever she was in my presence. Only Grace improved, perhaps because her charge had miraculously changed overnight from an irrepressible tiger to a meek kitten.

She was the only one grateful for Jane’s departure; otherwise the household had assumed a state of bereavement for the bright, little governess, thus when a letter from Jane did arrive, one could almost hear the house itself breathe a sigh of relief. The letter confirmed that Jane was safely installed at her new home, but it brought more than just mere reassurances for me – the letter was also my deliverance from the bounds of Thornfield – and my chance to escape the pain that it wrought.

Three days later I was in London, but despite my haste to reach town, I made no further plans to venture beyond it. I dared not cross the Channel, afraid that once crossed, my chord of communion with Jane would snap once and for all, and my precious memories of her would seep away forever. Hence installing myself at the Claredon, my usual London residence, I assiduously devoted my days to remembering.

The Serpentine was a particularly favoured spot for my contemplations. My mornings were spent watching rabbles of nurses and their charges play by the waterside, and as I watched I would picture how our children would have looked among them – how our bright-eyed little girl would giggle as pigeons pecked breadcrumbs from her hand, how our ruddy boy would run through the grass, his dark curls a flutter. The afternoons were no better, for it was the time when young ladies appeared for their daily stroll, their beaus and chaperones in tow. I imagined my Jane among them, where she would inevitably outshine them all with her warmth, honesty and tenderness, so rare among these superficial blooms.

Such scenes lashed upon my soul, each lash cutting ever deeper into my heart, leaving it gaping, bleeding. The only relief came from the blessed bottle, a vice that I indulged in more and more often. Still, I had yet enough strength to not completely succumb, but as the days passed, I felt myself growing a little more careless, a little more dependent on the comfort it brought – for who in the world cared if I did succumb now that Jane was across the Irish Sea? Who in the world would help me now that I was once again alone?

The nights brought a change of venue for my meditations as I shifted from the park to the club. Travellers Club was a place for those who came from or had lived abroad. Consequently, it was a place where my acquaintances generally congregated, but once again I sought to avoid all company by secreting myself in the library – a place I had come to regard as my own.

However, I was in no hurry to reach the library this evening. Instead, I swirled the glass of brandy in my hand and took a generous gulp, feeling the fiery liquid settle in my belly. Then heading to the dresser, I took out a cravat, fixing it haphazardly in front of the mirror. That task was accomplished, I shrugged on my coat and stepped back, studying the reflection before me.

The man I saw was weary, undeniably middle-aged. Though his unruly hair and muscular body imparted an element of youthfulness, his eyes inevitably gave away his true age. Staring into those great orbs, I saw a man not only tired of life, but frightened of the future ahead – a future bleak and doomed by loneliness.

“Take care, Jane.” I had said to her one evening, “Don’t look too closely inside of me – you might not find anything within at all beautiful.”

Yet Jane, my courageous girl, saw beyond this coarse facade, recognised the wild beauty beneath, and had loved me for it.

“She loved me,” I murmured, “Truly loved me.”

I had never been so loved – really loved for love’s sake – and it crushed me to know that I might never be loved again. My eyes burned as I again recalled our final night together, recalled the glimpse I had of the life we would have led if circumstances were different – a life of immeasurable joy and love – a life with the twin of my soul.

Letting out a gasp, I turned away from the mirror, pacing back and forth until I had quelled my emotions. But no amount of pacing could ease the ache within me – an ache that seemed to have pervaded my entire being.

“Jane,” I cried, “How I miss you…”

I finished my brandy in one searing gulp, and after blowing out the lone candle that lit the room, I hurriedly exited my suite. Once outside, I ignored the concierge’s attempts to hail me a cab, preferring to take advantage of the clear night and walk to my destination. The sting of the cold air reinvigorated me, as did the exhilaration of dodging carts, carriages and all manner of obstacles that made its way down Bond Street at this evening hour. But the walk was not long, and soon the ivory buildings of Pall Mall, ever elegant even in the dim gaslight, appeared.

The Travellers Club was housed in one of its smaller buildings. I entered hastily and made my way directly to the library. Expecting it to be deserted at this early hour, I was thus surprised to see a familiar figure perusing its shelves.

****

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Some Enchanted Evening

Well this is the final snippet of fanfic that I’ll post for now – because I’ve got no more stories up my sleeve! This one started out as an idea but quickly turned into my longest Jane Eyre piece. So for a touch of whimsy, read on…

**

Edward had been in a fierce mood since daybreak. He snapped at George for not having his green coat ready, berated Mary for being slow to bring the hot water, and grumbled incessantly as I helped him tie his cravat.

The cause of his moodiness? Our visit to town.

“Why do we need to go to Millcote?” he protested. “Why do you not charge George with your errands and be done with it?”

“George is not so young to be travelling twenty-five miles a day,” I reasoned, “And besides, he has plenty to do here now that there are two of us to keep.”

“Then John or Mary would do just as well. Mrs. Rochester should not be undertaking such common duties.”

“Mrs. Rochester will do whatever she thinks is right! I need to enquire after my packages from Diana and Mary, and post my letter to Adèle. Then we will visit the apothecary for your dressings, and the dressmaker’s after that – my summer gowns are quite worn out and it will be warm soon. Only then shall we rest at the inn for a much deserved dinner.”

When he protested that he would collapse in exhaustion from so much activity, I said teasingly, “You do not have to go. I shall do quite well on my own.”

“No! No, I will come and keep you company. It is a long ride without a companion.”

I knew that he was reluctant to go as he did not want to encounter any of his acquaintances in his changed state – not because he was ashamed of his infirmities, but because he loathed their pity. This was the reason why he had shut himself up at Ferndean since the fire, and considering the arrogance held by such people as Blanche Ingram, I did not at all blame him.

When he had buttoned up his coat, I urged him to sit at the dressing table while I combed his wild mane.

“As unruly as ever.” I jested as I forced his pocket-comb through it, a remark that induced a smile from him.

“Yes, I know,” he chucked quietly, “It is still hideous.”

He sighed, relaxing while I completed my ministrations.

“Edward, you know you cannot stay hidden at Ferndean forever. Even if you will not re-enter society you will still have to venture out sometime.”

He scoffed, but said nothing in reply.

“You have never cared for other’s opinions so why should you care now?” I cajoled, “I shall not leave your side, and if we do encounter old acquaintances I will not let them mock you.”

“I know, my dear.” he finally said, “And neither will I let them mock you. Forgive me for being a foolish old man – I should know such things aren’t worth my worrying about. Besides, Millcote is large enough that we may not meet any of our acquaintances.”

And taking my hand, he gently kissed it before rising straight and proud. “Well, Mrs. Rochester,” he said more spiritedly, “Let us brave the hordes!”

The ride into Millcote was uneventful enough, but when we arrived it became plain that we had perhaps mistimed our visit. I had forgotten that it was market day, the one day in the month when the entire district descended upon the town, causing considerable havoc and delay on the roads.

“Why are we moving so slowly?” cried my vexed husband, “Has John gone to sleep up there?”

The news that it was market day did not ease his irritation. “The deuce it is! There goes my plan to remain inconspicuous. My appearance is sure to give the gossip-mongers food for the next year at least.”

We first alighted at the post office, where my trunk from Morton awaited along with letters from Diana and Mary. There was nothing from St. John, a circumstance that did not escape Edward’s notice.

“That man St. John must certainly be heartless. When I found you gone, I was on my horse scouring the entire county, while he has sent you nary a letter! You were right, Jane – he could not love you.”

The visit to the apothecary passed without incident, but when we reached the dressmaker’s, we were greeted by a familiar face.

**

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