(Disclaimer: Not my characters.)

"But why?" Roxane whispered helplessly. "Why could he not tell me the truth . . . not just these last fourteen years, but before? Why hide behind Christian?"

Crouched beside her, where she had taken Cyrano into her arms, Le Bret spoke slowly, his voice heavy with grief. "He told me once, Madame, that he feared nothing in this world but you."

He grimaced at his own words, for even to mention fear over the body of his courageous friend was like speaking an obscenity. Roxane seemed to feel it, too; she drew Cyrano closer to her with a gesture almost protective.

"But if he loved me, how could he fear me?"

"Ah, Madame," answered Le Bret softly, "he feared because he loved."

Roxane could speak no more. Her face burning in the darkness, she recalled a young girl prattling about how she could read a man's soul in his eyes. And Cyrano had tried so gently to remonstrate with her. "Mais, ma pauvre petite . . ." What might she have seen in his eyes at that moment, had she only looked?

Gazing through her tears at that still face in the moonlight, she knew she was seeing clearly for the first time.