Disclaimer: Christian, Toulouse and company are not mine. They belong to Baz Luhrmann. I do, however, own Belle.
Author’s Notes: Since Satine doesn’t have a last name in the movie, I borrowed one for her. This is dedicated to my friend Zigs for her birthday. Happy birthday!
Paris, August 1901
The warm sun crept through the open window and poured across Christian’s handsome face. As the light reached his eyes, he cautiously blinked them open. Almost immediately, he rolled away from the window and pulled up the covers to his chin. He had never been a fan of the early morning. He almost closed his eyes again until he saw the beautiful woman lying next to him. Instead of going back to sleep, he smiled as he took in her soft features.
Belle wasn’t what people would call extremely gorgeous, but she was beautiful in her own unique way. Her long dark hair fell across the pillow in waves, setting off her porcelain skin. Her chest rose and fell with her even breathing, and Christian loved to just lie there and listen to it. Even though her eyes were closed, he knew that they were a rich dark brown. Extremely soulful and caring. Those were the eyes that had brought him back from the brink of death a year ago.
He had gotten it out. Every word. He had kept his promise to Satine and had written down their love story. A story that he had not wanted to end. Now he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Did he really want to share his story with the world?
Coming to a decision, he bound the huge manuscript with a blue ribbon and cradled it in his arms. Slowly, he ambled over to the window and climbed out onto the ledge. Closing his eyes, he held it out in front of him. All he had to do was let go.
Just then, the front door to his apartment burst open. “That’s it, Christian! I’m not going to stand out there and let…” Toulouse Latrec’s familiar lisp filled the room. “Oh, my God! Christian, get down from there!”
The young writer’s blue-green eyes flew open at the sound of his friend’s scream. Leaning too far over the edge, he almost lost his balance. He immediately reached out and held on to the window, trying to retain his stability on the ledge. Miraculously, his other hand held tightly to the bound manuscript. Behind him, he heard Toulouse quickly shuffle across his apartment and felt a hand grab his arm.
“Don’t do it! You have too much to live for! Too much talent!” Toulouse pleaded.
All Christian could do was continue to grasp the window casement and pray he wouldn’t fall to his death. Tossing the manuscript on the floor, he grabbed Toulouse’s hand and slowly regained his foothold. He then turned and looked down at his friend. “What are you trying to do? Kill me?”
Confusion entered Toulouse’s brown eyes. “I was trying to save you. You were going to jump, right?”
“No. I was actually going to throw this story out the window.” With that, the writer stepped down and scooped up the bound pages. Turning away from Toulouse, he started to step onto the ledge again.
Before he could climb onto it, his short friend caught his arm. “A story? You wrote a story?”
Christian stopped and sighed, wistfully glancing across the way at the deteriorated elephant that stood guard over the former Moulin Rouge. “Yeah. I finally got all of it out; I finally wrote down mine and Satine’s story.” He moved his gaze from the elephant to the large manuscript in his hand. Did he really want to let go of it?
“Christian, that’s wonderful! Maybe that’s the break you needed.”
“So why don’t I feel any better? I still feel as dead inside as I did before.”
“Maybe you need to let someone else read it,” Toulouse suggested.
Christian gave another heavy sigh and stepped back into the room. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, Toulouse. I don’t know if I want anyone else to know the story.”
The shorter man gripped his cane and shuffled across the room. Flipping through articles of clothing from Christian’s makeshift closet, he chose an outfit and tossed it to the writer. “There’s only one way to find out. Ask Satine.”
Christian’s blue-green eyes narrowed into little slits. “Is that supposed to be a joke?”
“No, I’m being quite serious. You haven’t even been to her grave. Maybe you should make peace with yourself before you choose what to do with your story.”
Too tired to argue, the writer took the garments Toulouse offered and went into the bathroom. As he closed the door, he caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror. A thick dark beard covered his once boyish visage, and sadness filled his eyes where a glimmer of life used to be. He was much too thin, having only sustained himself on Absinthe and a few morsels here and there for several months. It had been so long. Could he really face his true love’s grave?
Thinking of the story, Christian summoned his courage. He cleaned himself up and quickly got dressed. With his book securely placed under his arm, he and Toulouse left the messy, dank apartment.
Toulouse walked with him to the graveyard, but the shorter man stopped at the gate. “You have to do this alone, Christian. Only you can come to grips with everything that has happened.”
Solemnly nodding, Christian entered the graveyard. This particular site wasn’t very well kept up since it was created for the poor people of Monmartre. Vines covered most of the graves, and several of the slabs were broken or parts were chipped off. The writer wove his way through the stone markers and marble statues until he found a small, gray marker in the back corner near the fence. Scribbled across it were the words “SATINE DeBRABANT”. Underneath that in smaller letters, it read, “Our Sparkling Diamond – forever”.
As he read the words, tears sprang to Christian’s eyes, and he crumbled to the ground in front of the grave. Dropping the manuscript beside him, he reached out and tenderly touched the engraved letters. He had avoided this moment for so long, and now it was staring him in the face.
Taking a shaky breath, he addressed the stone marker. “I know it has taken me a while to come visit you. I hope you can forgive me.” He paused as a fresh wave of emotion overcame him. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t face her like this. Every fiber in his body told him to turn around and run back to the safety of his apartment. He could close the door behind him and never come out again.
Glancing at the unpublished story sitting beside him, he knew he couldn’t do that. He had to face this moment; he needed to face this moment. Reigning in his emotions, he turned his attention back to the grave.
“I kept my promise, Satine. I wrote out the whole story.” He picked up the manuscript and showed it to the grave. “See? It’s much bigger than I thought it would be, but it’s all there.” He set the pages back down beside him. “Now that I’ve written it, I don’t know what to do with it. Toulouse told me I should ask you. I don’t exactly know how to do that. If there’s a sign or a way you could show me what to do, I would be very grateful.”
At that moment, the wind, which had previously been a light breeze, began to pick up. Christian placed a hand on his manuscript to make sure that it wouldn’t blow away. He looked around to see colorful leaves swirl around him. Among those swirling leaves was a dark blue scarf. It sailed passed the trees and safely landed across Satine’s grave. As soon as it had settled, the wind died down to a gentle breeze. Curious, Christian took the scarf and examined it.
“Monsieur?” a female voice called from behind him. “Monsieur?”
He turned around to see a petite brunette clutching her long dark green skirt as she hurried towards him. He knew she wasn’t wealthy based on the wear of her garments, but he also knew that this was no whore either. When she reached him, she paused to catch her breath before speaking again.
“I’m terribly sorry to disturb you. I was showing it to my mother when the wind pulled it out of my hands,” she explained, indicating the scarf.
“That’s all right.” Christian stood up and handed her the scarf. “How far did it travel?”
She glanced up at him with dark brown eyes. “Excuse me?”
“Where were you when you lost your scarf?”
“Oh,” she slightly chuckled. “I was just a couple of rows back near the gate.”
He couldn’t help but smile. “You were showing your mother a scarf in a graveyard?”
Embarrassed, she looked away. “I was showing it to her grave.”
He immediately sobered. “I’m sorry; I didn’t realize. It was rude of me to ask that.”
She turned her brown eyes back to him and a smile graced her lips. “No offense taken, monsieur.” Slowly, she backed away. “I’ll leave you to your privacy now. Thank you for catching my scarf.”
Christian glanced at Satine’s grave and his bound manuscript. It felt so good to actually talk to someone, and he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to be left alone anymore. “Wait,” he said. “Please stay. I don’t even know your name.”
“Belle,” she answered simply. “And yours?”
“Christian.” An uncomfortable silence descended upon them, and the young writer, for the second time in his life, was at a loss for words. Searching for something to say, his eyes fell on her scarf. “I don’t mean to pry, but why were you showing your mother a scarf?”
“It’s the latest I’ve made. I’m a seamstress by trade, and every week, I proudly show off my clothing to my mother,” she explained, her smile widening.
“You are not married?”
This caused Belle to laugh. “My, you’re full of questions, but no, I am not.” She then turned the tables on him. “And what is your story?” She indicated the grave. “May I ask who she was?”
Christian solemnly glanced back at Satine’s grave and sighed. “She was… the love of my life.” Quietly, he bent over and retrieved his manuscript.
Belle’s eyes showed genuine concern. “My condolences, Christian.”
Clutching the manuscript, he met her eyes. “When she died, she made me promise to tell our story. This is it.” He didn’t really know why he was telling her this; he just felt that he had to.
“You wrote a book about your life together?” She sounded impressed.
“Are you going to publish it?”
“I don’t know.” There was a pause, and then Christian had an idea. “May I walk you home? It’s awfully windy out here, and I would hate to see you lose your scarf again.”
Belle smiled. “I would be honored.
“Good morning, my love,” Christian whispered into Belle’s ear as she stirred in the morning light. “Sleep well?”
“Of course,” she smiled as she sat up and kissed him.
If he hadn’t have met her that day in the graveyard, he knew he would still be locked up in his tiny flat, drunk on Absinthe. Instead, she had read his story and convinced him to publish it. With that, came a new income and a new life.
And he owed it all to this wonderful woman.