Deux Églises, and after.
We awoke late, after a restless night, neither of us able to sleep with what we had learned and were learning of each other. I lost track of how many times we’d made love.
Neither of us wanted to be the first to move. It was warm, we were comfortable, and it was a Saturday; so we didn’t move.
We lay in each other’s arms and talked, kissed, touched... and then made love again.
I’d forgotten to wash the blood and other personal stains out of my shirt, and besides, it was still doing service in the bed with us, rumpled beneath us, damp, helping us to not stain her sheets too obviously.
After another hour of playing and making love again, we got up and I saw to my shirt for myself as she stood behind me, wrapping her arms around me, holding me close... playing with me.
It was too wet to wear, until I’d patted it as dry as I could, between towels.
It took us a further hour to leave for the train, after eating anything that took our fancy, from her refrigerator. I wore a leather jacket, belonging to her father, that he’d left there after one of his visits to Paris. It covered my still-damp, stained shirt, well enough.
There was an envelope in one of the many, zippered pockets, that had his address on it in London. Another small thing which would ease my way forward, though he would have been easy to find anyway.
We sat quietly, holding hands, each deep in our own thoughts, but always needing to feel the other.
The journey was barely an hour. I remember it taking me a day, or even two days in earlier times.
We ate again when we left the train, an hour later, at Deux Églises, and bought another crucifix at a small store, before we walked to the church. It might not be needed after what I’d done the night before, bathing her as I had, but I preferred to be on the safe side.
I looped it over her head, seeing her drop it into the front of her shirt.
I needed to watch, and I would have liked to have followed it down there. She knew I watched, letting me see where it settled, undoing several buttons so that I might see and approve of everything, even encouraging me to reach out and touch her there for a few seconds, hidden from view of anyone else; letting me touch and hold under her breasts—on them—before she fastened her buttons, hiding her wondrous breasts again. I felt weak already. No one else had noticed her do that.
I might not survive before we got back to her apartment in Paris.
We had dressed each other that morning just before we’d left. She’d insisted that she did not need to wear a bra, so I had left it off her. That slight change had been enough to delay us with what had to follow that (again), that we almost missed the train.
Neither of us said anything yet, concerning what we were both convinced of, but without actually ‘knowing’, or even sharing that feeling... that Rossignol was already pregnant with our children; just as that first Rossignol had been.
‘First Rossignol’... ‘second Rossignol’... they were both the same to me.
I felt as though I was reliving that earlier existence from almost that moment I’d lost her all of those years before, but now transposed into a more modern setting.
I wanted to believe it, and so I did. It would make my leaving her, and my rapidly approaching death, so much harder for me to do, but I would be able to go, with a sense of leaving something with her, to hold onto life with.
Saturday should be a quiet enough day for this. Had we left it until Sunday, we would have been caught up on the busiest day of the week for that church, as well as a wedding.
We wandered the cemetery, reading the names and the dates.
Eventually, we got to the place we both needed to be. It was that large vault, of which there were few, and despite its age it still looked new and recently placed.
Those who followed my instructions to keep it well maintained, did a good job, keeping weeds and tree roots back from it, keeping its surface free of growth. It was constructed of thick slabs of marble, which the ages would have little effect on, unlike concrete.
I was the only one with a key to that massive lock on the heavy wooden door, and I used it now to let us in, after making sure no one saw us as I led her in. I was not known in this village in my present guise, and anyone seeing me, in company of a striking young woman, going into there with her, would raise questions.
The lock was well lubricated and gave easily.
Inside the door, was a can of oil which I used on the lock and hinges, each time I left, and an oil lantern to light the otherwise dark interior. Glass-covered openings, up near the ceiling, admitted only little light.
I took the key in with us, closed and re-locked the door after I’d lit that lantern.
I should have replaced it before now, with one of those new-fangled LED things.
It was cool and dry inside. I did not let outside air in, to condense inside. There were other things in here that water would too easily cause to deteriorate.
No one had been in here since my last visit.
“I come here at least once a year and make sure nothing changes. I sit and read to her and tell her all that is happening to me.”
“Where is she?”
Rossignol watched as I moved a stiff, linen curtain to one side, and then dropped open the side of a heavy wooden casket at waist height, in an alcove, to reveal the bones, carefully laid out within.
“This is she? My namesake, my ancestor? Your first Rossignol?”
I put my arms around her. “This is she.”
Some of the bones still had fragments of cloth upon them. I’d taken great care in moving her here after I’d disinterred her, but only did that after I’d built this vault over her grave to hide what I had been doing. She was the only occupant. Our children had moved away, eventually, after her death, and both of them had died elsewhere.
There was a ring upon one of those bones. I’d had a ring made for her many years before, a copy of the ring I’d given her, as well as placing another crucifix, a copy of the one she’d given me, upon her chest.
We were both crying.
She raised her face to mine, and I kissed her.
She noticed a drawing becoming visible to her on the wall as her eyes grew accustomed to the low light.
“And that is a portrait of her?”
“She looks like me.”
“She is you, my love, in every way, and you are her. As you live, so does she live within you.”
It might almost have made sense to her.
“In that case, Guillaume, do you think she would mind if we... I think it is needed. She may need it, to feel it, to see it again.”
I shook my head. It was needed, especially after I’d seen her drop that crucifix down between her breasts as she’d opened her shirt to let me see her there, wanting me to touch her. I wanted to touch her again, and now I could.
“I think she will approve, my love. I think that is why we are here.”
We slowly began to undress each other.
We were soon naked where it counted, and made love standing up this time, as we both shed tears, giving thanks for having found each other.
We got back into Paris about three hours later and went for dinner... but not immediately. We still had other things to work off after that long ride in the train and watching her breasts move under her shirt, as the train bounced over the tracks. I wanted to reach out and hold them still for her.
She smiled at me, knowing of my thoughts.
Later, she did not see me put that key of mine to that vault, on her key ring with the courtyard key... very like it... and the ones to her apartment and for the university. I knew I could trust her to look after the inside of the vault for me.