A/N: Well, since they don't have a section for the book, I'll post this here. I do happen to love the musical as much as the book, so it's all good. Anywho, this story is set when I (or Ich) and Maxim are on their honeymoon in Italy. I'm not sure if they include the part about the book of poetry in the play, but if they don't the whole thing is just that there's a book of poetry that Maxim lets I borrow and in it there's a page that says "To Max from Rebecca". I burns it. And yup, I hope you enjoy. This was just written on spur of the moment, so I'm sure there'll be mistakes and later editing, but I tried to write it in the style of the book. I'm done rambling now. Enjoy! :D
Italy was truly a charming place. The houses seemed to be pulled directly from a picture book, rising large and looming over one's head, yet warm and inviting. Every time I passed one, I wanted to reach out my hand and touch that warm stone and make it part of myself. I wanted the warmth of Italy to come with me on all my journeys in life. When I am an old woman, I wanted to be able to look at my hand and say, "I still have the warmth of Italy with me, the warmth of the happiest time in my life." I thought for a moment how this sentiment was similar to my wish to bottle my memories. Then I remembered how Maxim had reacted to that sentiment, and I quickly banished the thought.
"And what are you so busy dreaming about over there that you can't even bother to listen to me?" I heard his voice ask teasingly from my side.
I looked abruptly at Maxim standing next to me. He had a teasing smile upon his lips as he met my eyes. He acted so different here it Italy than he had in Monte Carlo. He was much more open and prone to teasing; he often smiled and lovingly held me. The man that I had at one time thought to be the picture of an upscale proper gentleman had turned out to be a man of loving words and smiles. As his initial question returned to me, I felt heat rush to my face. I realized how childish it sounded to want to capture warmth from a building.
"I was just thinking what it will be like to remember this when I'm old…" I mumbled in response, hoping that he wouldn't comment further.
Luck was not with me that day. He gave a small smile, "You should not be so concerned about remembering when it's happening right now. Enjoy it now, worry about remembering later."
I simply nodded my head in response.
"And there may come one day where you may not wish to remember," Maxim added.
I felt a sickening feeling rise in my stomach. His voice had become distant, that voice that I knew he only used when he thought of the past; when he thought of her. I dared to look at him and saw that his eyes were no longer starring at the beautiful sights of Italy, but instead he was looking at some phantom of the past. The sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach increased.
"Maxim…?" I said cautiously as I continued to look at his distant face. For a moment I thought how silly it was that I had to hesitate while saying his name, after all I am now his wife. Yet, I was nothing more than a child, an inexperienced child. "Maxim?" I said again, hoping that the repetition of the word would bring about a response, but he continued to look ahead with the distant look.
I looked down at my feet as the two of us continued to walk on, wanting to concentrate on anything but his face; his face when he thought of her. My feet were much too large in comparison to the rest of my body. I wore simple brown shoes that Maxim had bought for me on one of the first days of our honeymoon. "You are no longer just a companion to Mrs. Van Hopper, pick whatever pleases you," Maxim had said as he smiled at my expression which I must have imagined was extremely shocked and childish. I had never been free to browse and buy what I wanted; I had only ever gone with Mrs. Van Hopper when she had come to pick up an order of the latest fashion.
Initially I had wandered around the store cautiously. I could feel the eyes of the attendant of the store on me, as if he had evaluated me and placed me in the category of "inexperienced child". Each time I picked a pair of shoes that I thought to be attractive the man would come to my side.
"Do those please you? Would you like to try them on?" he would say in a high and strained voice, as if his patience with me was wearing thin.
"No thank you," I would say quickly and guiltily as I replaced them, "I'm just looking. Their quite charming, aren't they?"
"That they are ma'am. Let me know when you find one that suits you," He would say, then draw away quickly to watch me once again.
In the end I had decided on the simple pair of brown shoes that were currently on my feet. I looked at them critically as I noticed that some of the dust of the cobble road we were walking down had gotten on them. I would have to remember to clean them later.
I stopped staring at my feet as I felt Maxim stop next to me. I looked up at him and was relieved to see that the lost look had left his face. He silently took my hand and gave me a light kiss on the head, "Here is our home for the next few months," He said as he met my eyes and smiled.
I looked away from his eyes and looked at what was to be our home. An audible gasp escaped my lips, I could hear Maxim chuckle from my side.
The hotel we were staying at was huge and ornate. It was the same style as all the other houses in the area, but on a much more grand scale. It really looked like a palace.
"Oh Maxim, it's beautiful," I breathed as I continued to look at the marvel in front of me.
"If you think that's amazing, I can't wait to see your face when you see Manderley, your eyes are likely to fall out of your head," Maxim said as he lightly squeezed my hand.
I nodded mutely as I felt color rush to my cheeks. He was teasing me again, and although I enjoyed the fact that he was so comfortable with me, I couldn't help but think that he was treating me like a companion rather than a wife.
"Let us head in. We don't want to be standing here all night," Maxim teased as he lightly pulled me toward the door of the hotel.
I followed him quickly and was met with an even more grand sight when we entered the lobby of the hotel. A marble tower spiral staircase lead up to the uncountable upper levels of the hotel. Women stood about it the latest fashion chatting lightly and fanning themselves with large feather fans. A few of them turned to look at the two of us as we entered. I could feel their eyes looking me up and down, evaluating me and my sense of fashion, or lack thereof. I guiltily lowered my head and attempted to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I felt terribly out of place in such a grand place.
We walked up to the large desk to check in. A woman with a pinched face and haughty glare looked at us as we approached. I could feel her eyes staring at me; I knew she was evaluating me much as the other ladies in the room had done. She gave a small huff as she quickly looked away from me and turned her attention to Maxim. I could tell that I had failed her evaluation.
"How may I help you sir?" She said in a voice that was high and airy, quite unlike I had expected.
"We're here to check in. The reservation should be under Mr. and Mrs. De Winter," Maxim responded.
I felt my heart skip a beat in my chest. He had said Mrs. De Winter. Yes, I'm his wife. A small smile played on my lips at the thought.
But he had had another wife.
The thought abruptly entered my head, but I could do nothing to shake it. Unexpectedly, I thought of the page from the book of poetry I had destroyed. The huge and looping R filled with such confidence and life. The way that she had been so familiar with Maxim.
The way she had called him Max.
I wanted to be that familiar with him. I wanted to be able to call him Max, and give him gifts of books, yet I wasn't sure whether it would be alright to call him Max. He had allowed me to call him Maxim, but to shorten his name almost felt like entering into a new sort of relationship, something more intimate and lasting. I wanted it, but I wasn't sure that he did yet.
The thought that he might not want it sent a stab of pain in my chest.
"Ah yes," the receptionist woman said, breaking me from my musings, "Here are the keys to your room. You are on the top floor in room 146."
Maxim nodded his thanks and took the keys. We headed over to the nearby elevator. The young attendant smiled at us as we entered, I smiled weakly back. At least he wasn't evaluating me like everyone else in the hotel.
As the rickety elevator began its accession I clung tightly to Maxim's arm. I was never much fond of the excessive shaking in these things. This trip was made even worse by the fact that with each shake of the elevator two words jumbled in my head.
Our perilous climb eventually ended and I loosened my grip slightly on Maxim's arm. I was so glad that the trip was over. Maxim looked over at me and laughed lightly.
"Shall we get off before you spoil the lovely upholstery my sweet?" He said lightly as he grabbed my hand and escorted me out of the elevator.
I hung a few steps behind him, my thoughts and stomach still jumbled from the bumpy and uncertain ride. I stared intently at the overly ornate rug as we continued to walk to the end of the hall.
When we reached our destination, Maxim unlocked the door and gestured for me to enter the room. I followed his suggestion and felt my breath escape me in a rush.
The room was lightly furnished with white and clean furniture. The room had an almost airy and ethereal quality, like something not of this world. It was quite unlike the rooms Mrs. Van Hopper always chose. She always insisted that her rooms be robust and warm, with bright and lively colors. This room was very muted and charming in a way that to this day I still can't find words to describe.
"It's lovely," I said under my breath.
"I do believe that's the second time today that you said something like that," Maxim said with a slight chuckle as he walked to face me. He held my face lightly in his hands, "Does it suit you?"
"Of course it does Maxim. Anything that you would pick for me suits me. I love you so much," I said as I looked into his eyes.
His eyes momentarily softened and he gave me a kiss on the forehead. I closed my eyes and willed him to say those words I wanted to hear so much. I wanted him to tell me what he felt for me.
But instead he pulled away and walked toward the window. I felt disappointment rise in my throat, but I fought it back as I began to busily unpack. True to his nature, Maxim had not brought any attendants along with him, even if he had I don't think I could have watched as they unpacked my drab and out of fashion clothes. I hadn't had time to go shopping for new clothing, so most of the clothes I owned were the castoffs of Ms. Van Hopper's daughter and as a result out of style. The rumors would quickly spread among the attendants in the hotel.
"Have you seen the couple that is staying in room 146?"
"Yes I have. They look to be quite refined."
"I helped them unpack, and I promise you they are anything but!"
"Really? They looked to be quite an affluent and fashionable couple."
"Well the man is, but the lady is terribly out of fashion."
"That's horrible! Why would he choose to marry someone like that?"
"I'm not quite sure. It's truly a terrible shame that he should have to suffer being married to a woman like her."
All I can remember from that day is that those thoughts continued to plague me as I unpacked my clothing. Before I realized it, the entire day had passed and night had fallen. I was folding the last garment as Maxim lightly placed his hand on my shoulder.
"We should head to bed early tonight. It's been a long day," he said lightly.
"Of course, whatever you wish," I said carefully, not sure how I could handle him sleeping so near to me.
"You should head to bed first. I have some matters to attend to," He said as he released my shoulder and walked over to sit at a nearby table.
I nodded mutely as I gathered my night gown and went to change in the small attached bathroom. As I closed the door, I leaned back against it. He wasn't going to lay in the same bed as me tonight. Thousands of thoughts crossed my mind in that instant, but one kept pestering me over and over.
He can't stop thinking of Rebecca.
I silently changed and returned to the room and lay under the cool clean sheets. I stole looks out of the corner of my eye at Maxim. He began to read over a few letters and he occasionally chuckled as he read the words written. I couldn't help but wonder what the letters could be about or who they were from. One time he caught me looking and he gave a little crooked smile.
"Why are you looking at me like it's a crime to look at your husband?" He said with his smile still in place.
I quickly buried my face in my pillow as Maxim chuckled at me. As I continued to lie there, I felt sleep slowly overcome me.
I saw the cliff in Monte Carlo. Maxim's was holding my hand. He looked at me with a deep love in his eyes and he kissed me feverishly on the lips. I returned his desires with my own as we were wrapped in a cocoon of happiness. It was what I had always wanted. Eventually the two of us separated and I leaned my head on his chest. I could hear his heartbeat in my ear.
He stroked my hair and spoke to me, "I love you Rebecca," he whispered.
I felt a chill run through me.
I pulled away quickly and looked at Maxim's face. He had a hurt and lost look. He wanted to know why I had broken his embrace.
"That's not my name," I said weakly as I continued to look at him. I didn't want to break the spell, but I couldn't go on kissing him if he was thinking of her.
The hurt look on his face increased, "Of course it is."
"No it's not," I said weekly as I felt a stab of pain pierce my heart. I backed away from him, frightened for some reason I couldn't explain.
"That must be your name, the only person I have ever loved is Rebecca," He said as he reached out his arms to hold me again.
I continued to back away as I kept repeating no over and over. I wasn't her; I wasn't ever going to be her!
Suddenly I felt the world fall from underneath me and I felt myself falling. I watched the look on Maxim's face turn from sadness and confusion to cold indifference.
"If you are not Rebecca," I heard his voice say in my ear as I fell, "Then I do not need you."
"No!" I practically shouted as I sprung out of bed. A cold sweat was on my skin and the chill night air wasn't helping my situation. I looked out the window and realized it was almost morning.
I looked guiltily next to me, and found that Maxim continued to slumber on, his back to me. I so wanted to reach my hand out to him and wake him up. I wanted to beg him to say my name so that I could confirm who I was. So that I could confirm I wasn't her.
Instead, I stood and walked over toward the window, much as Maxim had done earlier that day. I opened the window carefully and felt the semi-warm breeze of the early morning on my face. I closed my eyes and listened to the silence of the morning.
As I continued to stand there, I once again looked over at Maxim. He had turned in his sleep and he was now facing me. His eyebrows were furrowed as if he was having a bad dream. I wanted to run and comfort him, but I knew that wouldn't help things. That would most likely just make him irritable.
"But I want to help you…Max…" I said aloud to the air and my sleeping husband.
There, I had said it.
My heart was beating in my chest. I quickly turned around to look out the window again. I had wanted to call him that for so long, and now I had done it. But no one was around to hear it. I wanted him to hear me call him Max; I wanted him to accept me calling him that.
It was then that I began formulating my plan. I smiled as my plan continued to come into focus. I hurriedly and quietly snuck into the kitchen. I changed a glance at the bed as I passed it and gave a quiet smile as Maxim continued to sleep on.
I began to busy myself in the kitchen and I don't remember much. I remember foolishly burning myself on a hot pan and almost crying at my foolishness. But through all the trial and error, I finally managed to complete what I had set out to do.
"And what are you up to at these early hours in the morning?"
I gave a small jump of surprise at the voice that was not far behind me. I quickly turned and saw Maxim standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He was already fully dressed and looked ready for the day. I looked down guiltily at myself, still in my night gown.
"I prepared breakfast for us," I said quickly as I looked at the ground.
"Well, we shall eat after you get yourself ready for the day," He said in his soft teasing tone.
Heat rushed to my face, but I gave a soft smile and left the room to get myself ready for the day. When I returned, Maxim was sitting at the small table reading the newspaper. He looked up and gave a smile as I passed him on my way to the kitchen.
I quickly emerged with the eggs, bacon and toast I had made for both of us. I placed the plate lightly in front of him and sat down at my own spot across from him.
"It's just like old times," He said lightly as he picked up his fork and began to eat the eggs, "except you're not looking over your shoulder every few seconds to make sure that Mrs. Van Hopper isn't coming to drag you off."
"And also, now we are married," I said, daring myself to look him in the face as I made the declaration.
He looked up to me and gave a small smile, "That we are," he said as he met my eye.
I felt my voice flee at his look. My courage was slowly faltering. I didn't think that I would have the courage to go on with my plan, but I quickly reassured myself.
"So, how do you find my cooking…Max?"
He froze. His posture became completely rigid as he continued to stare down at the breakfast I had cooked for him. In all the times I had watched this moment in my head, he had never responded like this. He looked up at me and I sharply inhaled. His eyes, which moment ago had been teasing and loving had become cold and hard. He continued to stare at me, saying nothing.
All I remember clearly in that moment was the heavy silence that rested in the room. That and his eyes, staring at me, almost as I was a ghost of the past.
"What did you call me?" He asked me as he continued to stare at me with those eyes that were so different from the man I loved.
"I, I called you Max…I'm sorry I won't do it again…" I said quickly as I broke away from his gaze. I could feel his eyes still staring at me harshly.
He quickly crossed the short distance that separated us and he grabbed my wrist. I gave a sharp intake of breath at the sudden and unexpected pain. It wasn't supposed to happen like this.
"Never call me that again," He said his voice angry and flat, "I detest that name. What the hell possessed you so that you called me that?"
"I'm so sorry Maxim. It was in the book of poetry. I thought it would be alright. I'm sorry. I love you. Please don't be angry," I said everything in a rush as he continued to grip my wrist tightly.
"That damn book," he said darkly as he released my wrist and turned his back on me, "Never call me that again," He repeated as he continued to keep his back to me.
I nodded mutely as I softly massaged my wrist. My vision was starting to blur as my will to hold back my tears began to deteriorate.
"Please excuse me," I said weakly as I ran into the bathroom.
The day passed in a blur of tears and avoidance of Maxim. I remember thinking that I had ruined any hope of happiness I may have had. Every time my attempts to avoid Maxim failed and I happened to see him, I looked away quickly before I could get a good look at his face or he could get a good look at mine. It was an unbearable game of hide-and-seek that I continued to play through the day. By the time night came, I was so sick of the game that I no longer tried to hide. I simply sat on the bed looking out the window.
I wasn't sure how long I sat there like that when I abruptly felt the bed dip slightly. I knew what that meant. Maxim had sat on the other side of the bed. I worked hard to control my breathing as innumerable second seemed to stretch out before us.
Eventually, I felt Maxim move on the bed and, I assumed, lie down. I continued to stare out the window at the many stars that hung in the sky. I began to look for any of the constellations I knew. Unfortunately, the sky was different here in Italy and I wasn't able to locate anything.
"You should be heading to bed. It won't be good for you to be tired tomorrow. It's going to be busy."
I stiffened slightly at the sound of Maxim's voice. Rather than respond to him, I simply laid down next to him, being careful to keep my back to him. I thought for a second how odd it was that we were so close and yet there was huge riff between the two of us. I continued to stare out the window as I tried to ignore the heat of Maxims' body next to mine.
We stayed like that for a while, both of us wrapped in total silence. Sleep was beginning to overtake me despite all my attempts to fight it off. I didn't want to have another dream like last night.
Suddenly I heard the sound of movement next to me and felt Maxim wrapped his arm around me. I could hear my heart beating in my ear.
"To hell with it," I heard him say quietly into my neck, "People always say that it's a bad idea to go to bed angry. To hell with it."
"Maxim?" I said cautiously as he continued to hold me.
"You can walk away if you want to. A woman shouldn't have to suffer through a man like me. I've been terrible to you. We've only been married for a few days and I've already been horrible to you. Leave if you wish," He said as he began to unloop his arms from me.
"Please don't say that…" I said quietly as I grabbed his arms to keep them around me, "I don't want to leave. I love you more than life itself. Please don't make me leave Maxim. I'm sorry, but please don't make me leave."
I heard him gave a small chuckle, "My God, what are you apologizing for? You really are a little fool for staying with a man like me."
"Don't say that Maxim. I love you so much," I said as I turned to look at him for the first time since our argument in the morning. He had a queer look on his face, as if he wasn't sure whether to smile or frown. His eyes looked haunted by a shadow of the past. I gently touched his face as I smiled.
He slowly returned the smile as the ghost that was lingering in his eyes melted away into the night.
"I love you Maxim," I said softly as I continued to look into the eyes of the man I loved once again.
Rather than respond, he kissed me lightly on the lips. I remember my head filling with butterflies at the kiss. I smiled once again as he pulled away and met my eyes.
"Well enough of this for one night," He said, his teasing tone returning, "We can't have ourselves worn out for tomorrow."
I felt a blush work onto my cheeks as the meaning behind his words registered in my head. I nodded dumbly as he gave another of his chuckles that I realized I had missed immensely in the time when we weren't talking. He gave me another quick kiss on the cheek.
"Goodnight my sweet little fool," He said teasingly, but with that tone of immense love that I knew all too well.
"Goodnight Maxim," I responded softly as he rolled away from me. I continued to stare at his back as his breathing grew even and deep. I knew he had fallen asleep. I watched him for a while longer before the thought that I had been avoiding all day returned to my head.
He doesn't want you to call him Max because that's a name only Rebecca can use.