Title:  Of Loss & Hope
Author: elfin
Email: elfin@burble.com
Homepage: http://www.sundive.co.uk/
Genre: pre-slash
Rating: PG
Fandom: Moulin Rouge
Pairing: Christian/Argentinea
Archive: Red Windmill, Britslash, others with permission
Spoilers:  for the film!
Warnings: none
Summary:  Christian's friends try to ease his grief

Thanks to: Tomy for beta reading after my usual notice!

Disclaimer: characters are beloved creations of and copyright Baz
Luhrmann & Craig Pearce.  Story copyright MJHughes 2001


 

Of Loss and Hope

by elfin

 

For a long time - hours, days, weeks, I honestly have no way of knowing
– there was nothing but the searing agony of grief.

As I held her in my arms, as she left me here alone with my empty
promise and breaking heart, my world became a single point of light,
growing smaller and smaller until my head was filled with the sound of
my own sobbing and then... it all went black and I could feel nothing.

I wish now that I’d died there with her.  That’s what it had felt like
and it’s what I wanted.  I didn’t want to go on without her.

But I woke, in my own bed, to the dim light of a single lamp and the
hushed voices of my bohemian friends.

For a second, I knew an odd sort of calm, of peace.  And then I
remembered, and my heart broke anew.  Toulouse was barely at my side
when the flood of grief broke free.

Through bouts of silent tears, of wracking sobs and agonising screams,
they stayed with me.

Toulouse soothing with endless patience, Satie bringing in supplies and
making hot drinks, my Argentinean standing guard in case any unwanted
company should attempt to intrude.  And the doctor keeping a check on my
physical state lest I looked to be following Satine.

I wasn’t aware of any of them.

All I knew, all I could feel, was a desperate loss and the crushing
knowledge that never again would I hold her.  Never again would I hear
her voice, kiss her lips, know her love.

I was broken.  Not by jealousy or hatred.  Not by the bullet of a gun or
a man’s fist.  But by fate.  The ideals I had believed in for so long
had destroyed me.

*

I opened my eyes to see the sunlight pouring in through the small, open
windows.

I knew that the strong arms holding me and the body I could feel lying
protectively, half over me, wasn’t Satine.  I knew in my heart without
any thought of the physical facts.  She was gone, and nothing could
bring her back to me.

I moved, and Astor, my Argentinean protector, moved too, sitting up
gracefully and swinging his legs off the mattress.

“You were ‘aving a terrible nightmare,” he explained needlessly.  “I
just wanted to ‘elp you.”

I tried to speak, but no words would come from my desert-dry throat.  So
I nodded, attempting to put my thanks into my expression.  He dipped his
head, and reached out one large hand to squeeze my arm as I slowly sat
up.

I had no idea at that moment how ghoulish I looked.  I hadn’t eaten in
days.  The doctor had been making sure that I was forced to drink water
at regular intervals, none of which I have any recollection of.  Each
time, they told me, I had cried myself to sleep, sometimes silently,
sometimes with heart wrenching sobs.  My eyes were sore, my nose
blocked, my throat hurt.  I felt more fragile than I had ever felt.

And yet, beyond all of this was the sharp spike of pain driven through
my heart.

“Chwistian!”  Toulouse came over through into the bedroom, gazing at me
through worried eyes.  “Will you eat?” he asked, “I’ve pwepard some
soup.”

Silently, I nodded.  As he hurried back to the kitchen, I stood
unsteadily and crossed to the window.

“What have they done with her?” I could only whisper.

“They buried her yesterday,” Astor told me quietly.

The news shocked me.  My eyes began to sting, but for now at least I had
cried myself out and no more tears would come.  “Already?”  I heard my
own broken voice.

“Zidler thought it best,” the Argentinean told me softly.

“I’ll never see her again.”  I doubted it could hurt any more than it
already did.  Would this ever ease?  Would I ever again be able to walk
the streets below?

The whole town knew of my love for Satine.  Our final declaration could
not have been made any more publicly.  And so it knew too of my grief.

How could I face their sympathetic looks and words?

The first I knew of Astor moving behind me was his hands on my
shoulders.  “You are not alone, Christian,” he assured, “even though you
feel that you are.  We will look after you.”

Whether I wanted them to or not, it seemed.

I wanted to close the windows, draw the curtains and hide away here
forever with my memories of her.  I wanted to cling to them like a
lifeline, all that remained of my beloved Satine.

“You pwomised her, Chwistian.”  I heard Toulouse’s voice as if it he
were standing a hundred miles away.  “You must keep that pwomise.”

“I can’t….”  My voice a murmur, I wasn’t even sure if I’d answered.

“You can,” Astor intoned.  “You can and you will, soon.”

I felt his lips pressed against the back of my head, and closed my
eyes.  I could imagine her in his place, her hands on me, her lips
kissing me.  More than anything, I would miss just holding her.

Three times my heart had been broken.  This time I wouldn’t ever be able
to pick up the pieces.  I didn’t want to.

Love had betrayed me.

“Come, Chwistian, eat.”

“No….”  How could something so humdrum as eating cause so much pain?
How could I go on living like this?

I let my head drop and the grief consume me yet again.  And this time,
Astor’s arms came around me.   He rocked me, gently, steadily, where we
stood.

“You’re still alive,” he whispered to me, “the only way we can get
through this is if you stay with us.”

“I died with her,” I told him through my tears.

“No, you didn’t, Christian.  Only a part of you, a part that will never
heal, will never grow back.  But it is a part that you can survive
without.  I know it hurts now, but it will get better eventually.  I
promise you.”

He held me like that for a long time, speaking only when I spoke.

Toulouse’s soup went cold, so he made some more, and a lot later, when
the sun had set and everything outside was dark, I ate a few spoonfuls.

In the early hours of the morning, the doctor and Satie left to go to
Toulouse’s attic upstairs, apparently for the first time since Satine
was taken from us.  Toulouse stayed, although I have no idea where or if
he slept.

That night, and for many nights afterwards, I slept in Astor’s
protective embrace.  Waking alone was more than I could bear.

One such night, I lay awake, the moon shining in through the open
windows, in Astor’s arms, one under my neck where my head rested on the
pillow, the other wrapped over me, fingers linked with mine on the
mattress in front of me.

“Will I ever stop feeling like this?  Will my heart ever stop crying?”
I’d only whispered it, not meaning to wake him if he were sleeping.

But I had my doubts that he ever slept.  “Yes.  The pain will ease, my
beautiful poet.”

I wanted to cry at his words.  Instead, I turned in his arms and buried
my face against the red silk of his shirt.  He held me as he had through
the long nights, simply being there for me, a silent comfort.

As I knew he would be for as long as I need him to.  They all would be.

“Satine wasn’t the only one who loved you,” I barely heard.

But I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it.  I would be one day, but not yet.


fin
elfin

 


 

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