Categories > Movies > Corpse Bride

Giving Voice

by RapunzelK 0 reviews

Victoria's thoughts upon meeting Victor.

Category: Corpse Bride - Rating: PG - Genres: Romance - Published: 2006-08-09 - Updated: 2006-08-09 - 2246 words - Complete

I'd never fully decided if I'd been dreading or looking forward to this day. When my parents randomly announced to me three months ago that I was going to be married to the son of the wealthy fish merchants William and Nell Van Dort, my mind had gone completely blank with shock. I was at once both excited and terrified. A young girl of noble blood does nothing all her life but prepare for her wedding day to a fine gentleman. To hear my mother talk, the only thing fine about master Van Dort was his parents' fortune. However, nouveau riche is still rich and we badly needed the money. I suppose one's family legacy can only last so long, at least monetarily. But as a daughter who would be surrendering her family name to those of a fish merchant, it seemed that legacy would end as well.

I had thought that perhaps the Van Dort's might call upon us some time so that Victor (it took my father weeks to remember his name properly) and I might be able to meet. I asked about it until mother told me to stop fussing. I suppose I ought to have kept my mouth shut and trusted my parent's judgment, they had always been good to me, but I could not help feeling a little anxious about the whole thing. Rather than risk plaguing my parents with questions, I turned to my dear nurse Hildegard. She proved to be a more agreeable and reliable source of information.

Master Victor Van Dort was two years my elder, educated at Oxford, a scholar of music and entomology. He was polite and respectful, quiet, bookish, and most painfully shy. While a highly eligible bachelor, his parents had not sought to make a debutante of him and so kept him away from the hordes of middleclass ladies clamoring for his attention. Instead they had reserved him in order to buy their way into the aristocracy. I wondered if they knew how impoverished my family had become. I rather doubted I would be marrying master Van Dort if we'd had any money left.

Yet despite Hildegard's reassuring assessment of master Van Dort, I could not help the butterflies fluttering about in my stomach. They flitted faster as the day of our wedding approached. I could not help worrying. What if he was quarrelsome? What if he wouldn't speak to me? And worse still...

"Oh Hildegard," I sighed as she tugged on my corset strings, "what if Victor and I don't-" she pulled harder-"like each other?"

"As if that has anything to do with marriage," my mother sniffed, watching from the doorway. I blushed slightly at her catching me in my underclothes. She always insisted I knock before entering a room, I rather wished she would adopt the same policy herself. She had a most unnerving habit of barging in on one and making one feel as if one were doing something improper.

"Do you suppose your father and I like each other?" she asked.

I blinked. I thought about it briefly. They had been married with minimal fuss for over thirty years.

"Surely you must, a little," I hazarded. She gave a short, sharp laugh.

"Of course not!"

I gawked blankly. How could she and father have lived together for so long if they did not like each other? Certainly they bickered, and I could not say that they were passionately in love. They...tolerated each other, I suppose, like partners in a business. They did not outright hate each other, at least, not that I could discern, but I had never supposed that they did not like each other at all. I could feel my cheeks growing pale at this disheartening new information.

"Get that corset laced properly," mother snapped at Hildegard, "I can still hear her speak without gasping."

I waited until mother had shut the door behind her and turned back to look at my faithful friend who only winked and did up the last few loops of my corset. My waist was already eighteen inches, there was really no reason, I felt, for it to be any smaller. But my waistline was the least of my problems.

"Oh Hildegard what shall I do? What if he doesn't like me? What if I don't like him?"

"Don't fret so, Dearie," she told me, patting my cheek. "Master Van Dort is a fine young man. You'll get along splendidly. If you can get him to speak two words to ye." She smiled, her pale blue eyes twinkling with quiet mischief. I smiled back. Hopefully Hildegard was right and I had nothing to worry about. My parents would not choose someone who was wrong for me.

Would they?

The worry nagged at me all the rest of the morning. It was still there gnawing at my thoughts after Hildegard had helped me dress and had not left when the Van Dort's carriage rattled up to the front gate. I tried hard to ignore the sound of the doorbell and the echo of extra footsteps in the hall. I told myself it didn't matter that Victor had not been announced, though it seemed unlikely they would have left home without him. How could one have a wedding rehearsal without the groom? The faint shuffling of footsteps faded away as the adults went off to have tea. They should be calling for me at any moment. Unless of course I was to have tea in my room. Rather than worry myself or the thin carpet any further, I sat at my vanity and fussed with hair that was already perfectly combed into place. I told myself I was being a ninny, and tried to calm down. It didn't matter. It didn't. But I couldn't quite make myself believe that.

And then I heard it.

At first I wasn't sure what it was, it'd been so long since I heard the sound. Then I realized someone must be playing the piano downstairs in the foyer. It had stood there perfectly dusted yet untouched for as long as I could remember. Mother had never allowed me to touch it, and neither she nor father played so it had stood silent yet perfectly tuned. And now... I listened as the bittersweet melody floated upstairs. It was a tune I did not recognize. Curious to see who on earth could be making use of the old instrument I ventured out of my room and out to the staircase. The music swelled from a few timid notes into an ever more complex whirl of wistful song. I couldn't help feeling that it was singing the wordless melody of my own hopes and worries. It was elegant, beautiful, and at the same time tasted of some unnamed, ungranted wish, a desperate plea for...something.

I looked over the balustrade and felt my breath catch and my heart stop. Not father or mother nor Mr. or Mrs. Van Dort, but a young man I had never seen before sat at the polished black bench, letting his long fingers wander over the keyboard. This could only be Victor. It had happened upon hearing that first hesitant note, but had not been realized until now. My parents had not chosen poorly. Anyone who would play with such passion, such honesty, who could lay bare their soul in music this way... And he was laying out his feelings for me whether he knew it or not, for there was no sheet music before him. He was not even watching the keys. As I tiptoed down the staircase I noticed that his eyes were closed much of the time. He was not playing some remembered piece, but was giving voice to his own gentle, nervous heart.

I stood and watched, transfixed, as his fingers danced across the yellowing keys. The old piano sang sweetly under his touch, causing my heart to swell along with the music growing from its stringed throat. He leaned into the keys, the music building, turning his head to glance at the keys he abruptly stopped and jumped up, knocking over the bench in the process. I started myself at his sudden alarm.

"Oh!" he cried, staring at me wide-eyed. "Do forgive me...!" He stooped and hurried to righten the bench, fumbling over himself in attempts to apologize. I smiled gently, feeling slight guilt over the fright I'd given him.

"You play beautifully," I told him, feeling my cheeks warm a bit at my audacity. It was true, and I wanted him to know that I had enjoyed the impromptu concert. I had always wanted to learn how to play myself, but had been forbidden.

"Mother won't let me near the piano. Music isn't proper for a young lady, too passionate, she says." I thought it ridiculous myself. Most young ladies were taught some form of music- piano or harp or singing- but I had been denied this. Victor swallowed and began to twist his tie nervously at the mention of the word "passionate". I felt rather bad for him. He looked as nervous as I had felt only a moment ago. I considered him, waiting for him to speak for he seemed to be struggling for some sort of reply. He looked every inch his unpracticed twenty-two years, as young and sheltered as I, still nervous in the company of a lady. He was handsome in his way, standing a good head taller than myself and thin as a rail, his long arms and legs giving him the appearance of a well-dressed scarecrow. It occurred to me that like myself he was only recently an adult, still growing out of that awkward, lanky stage. I remembered only too well how much I myself had fumbled, all knees and elbows, tripping constantly over my first long skirt. He had a pleasant if melancholy face, pale with large dark eyes and slightly unkempt black hair. Those eyes darted about the room, perhaps searching for a point of focus, something to rest upon that was less frightening than myself.

"If I may ask, Miss Everglott," he stammered, "where is your chaperone?"

Oh. Yes, there was that. Hildegard had not followed me downstairs and Victor and I were alone together. I could understand his unease and yet we were to be married in less than twenty-four hours. Surely it wouldn't matter if we were alone together for just a short time. Mother would be calling us to the rehearsal at any moment and I sincerely doubted Victor had considered doing anything outside of the usual decorum. Maybe it was his obvious nerves, or perhaps the earnestness in his eyes, but I trusted him.

"Perhaps," I ventured, "I light of the circumstances, you could call me 'Victoria'?"

I confess it was a little bold of me, but again, we were scheduled to become husband and wife. There was no reason for him to go on calling me "Miss Everglott" all the time.

"Oh," he swallowed, strangling his tie. ""

He nearly choked on the word and had to take a moment to recover.

"Yes, Victor?" I prompted, hoping that once he began speaking he might feel a bit more at ease.

"It...seems...tomorrow we are to be..."

It seemed his tongue had caught. Every time he tried to pronounce the word he became stuck, unable to progress farther than a flustered hum.

"Married," I finished for him.

"Yes, married," he agreed, nodding gratefully. I smiled and he seemed to relax a bit. Not entirely sure what to say next, I seated myself at the piano and ran a hand across the keys, wishing vainly that I knew how to coax music out of it the way he had.

"Ever since I was little, I'd dreamed of my wedding day..." The words were spoken before I'd even given thought, but I let them go on. It was foolish, but perhaps he would feel a bit better if I shared my worries as he had accidentally shared his.

"I used to dream that I would marry someone with whom I was deeply in love." I smiled shyly at the keyboard, remembering the thousands of daydreams I'd had as a small child. None of them had come remotely close to this admittedly awkward first meeting, and yet... I turned my eyes upward to find him watching me, a quiet, thoughtful expression upon his pale face.

"Silly, isn't it?"

"Yes," he nodded. "I mean, no! No!"

He jumped and laid a hand on my shoulder, only to snatch it back at the realization of such a breach of etiquette. In doing so he banged against the edge of the piano, the little vase set atop the soundboard reeling and then toppling, spilling a small mount of water onto the dark wood. Victor hurriedly snatched it and stood it upright before it could fall into the strings.

"I'm so sorry," he apologized.

I made no reply, only smiled. The look in his eyes had mirrored my own. He felt as I did. He might not be Prince Charming, and I was certainly no Sleeping Beauty, but perhaps we could be happy together. Maybe not lovers, but definitely friends. Reaching, I picked up the single sprig of Forget-Me-Not's that had tumbled out when the vase had fallen. Lifting it, I offered it to him. Hesitantly, he took it and for the first time, I saw him smile.
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