Finding Redemption - Part II

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Finding Redemption - Part II

Welcome to the second part of 'Finding Redemption' :D I've been asked to give update dates on this one - I'll do my best, but if I forget to update the title, please forgive/prod me. Otherwise, on with the story!

- X -

The pitch black shrouded her, making her shiver and huddle her knees to herself. She needed to touch her own skin, to reassure herself that she was still there and that she wasn't just imagining things in the darkness. Time had no meaning down there, but all the same she had worked out from the sound of footfalls above her that about three days must have passed since Matt had grabbed her arm and dragged her down into the darkness, ignoring her tears and her pleadings for mercy.

It had all started when he announced what her future plans were to be, how she was to earn money for him and repay him for all that he had done to help her since they met. His voice had been so calm and casual as he told her, holding her in his arms and against his chest as if nothing was wrong while he informed her of what it would mean. It was the clinical way in which he described her duties from thenceforth that had chilled her to the bone and convinced her that this was not the same man she had fallen in love with.

For a little while she had entertained the notion that he must have a twin and they had agreed to swap places for a few days without telling her. With each passing hour she expected Matt to come and let her out, and laugh, and tell her that it had all been a misunderstanding and that he loved her really. Only he never came, and by now hope had been worn out and there was only self-pity left. It would be so easy to say that she would do anything to be let out of the cellar, but she knew that all Matt demanded was that she accept her fate and comply with his wishes, and she couldn't do that, she just couldn't. What he'd described to her, the way that he had made it sound so coarse and vulgar, had terrified her and she had vowed never to let anyone do that to her.

If she could just get out of here then she could get home, back to her family, and they would protect her and look after her. It had been two months since she'd run away and she'd stopped thinking of them bitterly since then. Now all she wanted was to feel their arms around her, and hear them as they reassured her that all would be well and that they would stop him from forcing her to do what he was suggesting. Never before had she believed so passionately in the complete infallibility of her parents and their capability to do anything.

It was cold in the cellar, especially as she wasn't wearing a single thing. They had been curled up in bed together when Matt told her of how she would make the money to pay him back, she had been tracing tiny patterns across his stomach, and so when she refused to do as he asked she had firmly been escorted through the door that she'd been banned from entering thus far and left on the floor to either freeze to death or submit. She'd tried banging and calling and screaming for help but nobody came, and in the end she gave up, her throat hoarse and her strength abandoning her.

Maybe it wouldn't be as bad as he made it sound, maybe he was only trying to scare her. The thought disgusted her, but she knew that she had to accustom herself to it before she could be released. After all, it was fun with Matt; afterwards they were loving and before were sensual, passionate, but during – in the part that she would be forced to repeat again and again – she did find herself enjoying it, and she hadn't at first. If she could just teach herself that trick for all men then it wouldn't matter. Blind optimism would see her through, until she was found and rescued by a gallant knight in shining armour.

Bitterly she thought of her younger self, and all the nights that she'd lain awake planning their wedding. It would have to be in the church on the Platz because she didn't know any other, but all her family would be there – he didn't have any, he said, and so she had promised that all of hers would become his too. She would be dressed in white and would look so beautiful, especially on her father's arm. The ceremony would be a simple one, with just the traditional vows, but when he looked into her eyes she would feel herself falling in love all over again, and with a gentle sigh she would turn over in bed and drift into sleep.

It should have been so easy, the way so open, but he had taken that from her and left her with nothing but a seediness that she couldn't overcome. There wouldn't even be a wedding now, there couldn't be, not for someone like her. Not that anybody could say she wasn't getting everything that she had asked for when she ran away with him in the first place. She should have listened to her parents, who knew what he was like and knew that she shouldn't associate with him.

For the first time since Matt had so calmly informed her of what she would be doing now, Cecil, with thoughts of home and family overwhelming her, allowed herself to bury her head in her knees and cry a storm of tears, the passion of which left her so tired that ignoring the hardness of the tiles and the draught that trickled around her, she lay down and shut her weary eyes. Sleep washed over her, starting to heal all of her shattered dreams.

Author:  Abi [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

What can I say? Poor Cecil. :cry: :cry: :cry:

(I always forget to update the dates when I update, Ariel!).

Author:  JB [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks Ariel. Glad you didn't make us wait too long for Part II.

Author:  shazwales [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  shesings [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks, Ariel! Poor trusting, naive little Cecil - and there are so many like her.

Author:  lexyjune [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks, good to see to more of this.

Author:  cal562301 [ Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks Ariel. Good to see the next instalment, though it's not a happy one. Poor Cecil.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks everyone :D

- X -

All through winter Cecilia had taken to her bed, and even now spring was dawning fast she refused to get up and watch the weak morning sun struggle through the clouds as the first optimistic birds began a dawn chorus. Instead, she pulled the pillow over her head and attempted to block out all noise with a tiny groan to herself. How she hated this room, this bed, this very pillow that even now was suffocating her, keeping her from her rightful life; but how much like an exotic drug it was, that she couldn't bear to be parted from it.

Although only young in years, she had seen people on actual drugs, had watched what it did to them and what it lead them to. There had been people who worked alongside her by choice, who if they'd had the strength to turn away from their chosen addiction could have been perfectly normal, healthy. Before this she had despised them, but once she found herself unable to face anything more than waking up – and even that was a struggle – she began to pity them for what they had done to themselves. After all, she had been addicted too; addicted to Matt and addicted to love.

Shifting a little, she strained her ears through the thick cloth of the pillow to see if she could hear Joey moving around the house yet. Her daily routine hadn't varied in all these months; every day, when she heard her mother get up, she would go into the bathroom opposite her room and dutifully bathe herself in an inch of cold water, once a week washing her hair so that she remained presentable. Then she would run back to her room, huddle under the layers of warmth and wait for Joey to bring her breakfast on a tray.

Three times a day, punctually, food would be brought to her, and she would sit up in bed and eat silently while Joey watched her. Sometimes her mother made inane conversation and sometimes she just stared at her daughter, then awkwardly around the room, not knowing what to do for the best. Never did Cecilia talk, for never did she have anything at all to say to the long suffering body that kept her alive. There was nothing to say to anyone but Matt, and he had gone now.

Only once in all the time that she had lain there, getting up when she needed to use the bathroom, or occasionally to go into her childhood bedroom and wander around until Jack appeared and lead her gently back to bed in the middle of the night, had she said anything to anyone. Suddenly, while she was eating lunch one day, she had informed Joey that once Matt's wife had been kind to her. She'd been punished for some trifle, she wouldn't think of it now, and as she sat in front of the mirror struggling with herself, Adelise had come in and taken a seat behind her. Surprisingly gently, she combed the wayward locks and touched over the injuries with a little make-up. It had been the only tenderness she had ever shown Cecilia, but it had remained with her all the same.

When Joey had glanced down from the tear-stained cheeks, and seen delicate fingers tugging angrily at the pure skin, pinching and pulling until bruises formed, she had screamed for Jack, hadn't known what to do. Together they calmed their daughter down, left her lying in a huddled up ball, and had gone to telephone the San. There were specially trained psychiatrists there – only two, admittedly, but it was the best that they could do in a crisis – for families and patients trying to deal with grief, and one had come to see Cecilia the next day. The response to all his coaxing and techniques was a silence so deep that even he was forced to admit defeat.

And so life went on, bustling and changing around her without any input from the tiny girl in the bed, lost to the vast labyrinth of corridors in Freudesheim, a house on a mountain in the middle of a nondescript country. Outside her window the girls of the Chalet School would play sports, go on rambles and discuss the Sale theme for that year. They made friends and enemies, laughed and cried and even fell over, all within her view if she had just chosen to stand in the window and watch them. Doctors drove past to the San and then home again, their wives occasionally called in for high English tea with Joey, knowing they would always receive a warm welcome even amid the turbulence. Once Nancy Wilmot came over, as the relationship between the Maynards and the school started to heal.

Impervious, Cecilia lay alone in her room. She had vowed to herself that she wouldn't stir from that bed, or break her daily routine at all, until Matt sat down next to her and told her otherwise. He was the only one that could break the ice around her heart and the only one who could wake her from the reverie of mourning into which she'd fallen. Unresistingly, she lay and waited for death to claim her, so that she could be reunited with the man she loved so dearly.

Author:  Kacca [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Oh Ariel, these two updates are heartbreaking. I'm not surprised that Cecil is reacting like this. I get the feeling that there is much more to what Matt has put the poor child through.

Poor Cecil :cry:

Author:  Joanne [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

That is so sad. Cecilia needs help so badly, but I suppose the types of help available then were more likely to do harm than good. She needs Mike to come and talk to her, maybe.

Please find a way for her to recover :cry:

Author:  abbeybufo [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Poor heartbroken Cecil :cry:

Author:  charli [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Thanks for the update. Poor Cecil, this is very sad, i really feel her emotions in this :-( x

Author:  shazwales [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Thanks for the update, she feels so lost but i don't think anyone up the Platz would be able to understand what she's been through.Another bit of sensitive writing Thank you.

Author:  hac61 [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Trust Joey to scream and make things worse. I would have thought that it would be better to have Anna come up with Cecilia's food - they seemed to have become comfortable with each other. It would make anyone worse to have their mother sitting there.

Grief is a weird thing.

(Getting at Joey, not Ariel :) )

Author:  cal562301 [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Thanks Ariel. Not sure how to respond to this sad situation. Just trusting that someone will be found who can help Cecil, though I've no idea who or how.

Author:  Abi [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Poor Cecil. I hope something happens soon to help her - though like others I can't imagine what.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

All this changed one morning at the start of April. Nobody, least of all Cecilia herself, could have said what it was that made her deviate from her usual routine, but something compelled her to get up that day. It certainly surprised Joey, who was awoken from a blissful dream in which she and Jack had gone on a picnic in the Tirol and had rediscovered Rufus gambolling in the long grass by the sound of movements in the bathroom and running water. Ten minutes later she heard the gentle pat of footfalls moving across the hallway, and was so surprised that Cecilia had gone to have a bath before her mother was awake that she sat upright in bed and pulled the duvet off of Jack, who grumbled under his breath something about an anaesthetic and turned over.

Her first instinct was to rush in and make sure that Cecilia wasn't hurt, but common sense told her that her daughter wasn't going to talk to her. She might let her mother manhandle her like a doll, sitting her up and feeding her, brushing her hair and plaiting it to keep it out of her eyes, but no matter what they tried she wouldn't unburden herself on any of them. The best thing to do, she realised as she dressed nimbly, was to treat this as if it were a perfectly normal occurrence – which in any other house it would be – and not mention it, certain that Cecilia wouldn't.

However, the shock of their daughter's footsteps on the stairs half an hour later was too much for both Jack and Joey, and they stared at each other in silent disbelief until the door swung open. The last time that Cecilia had been downstairs it had been to learn of Matt's death, and they had even told Madge and Jem not to start looking for a house for them in England yet as they didn't want to disturb her. Thankfully, the rest of the children had become accustomed to the idea; the boys and Con had been wildly excited that their parents would be closer to them, and after some grumbling even Claire and Phil had been brought around to the idea.

Only Cecilia's permanent refusal to even consider the notion of leaving her room had held them back; neither of them had held on to the hope that she would one day get out of bed and attempt to lead a normal life again, and they had never even dared to think of her actually achieving more than a cheap imitation of what she could have been. To see her stood in front of them was as heartbreakingly proud a moment as if one of their other children had announced that they'd solved world peace.

True, her hair flew wildly around her head in tangles, her eyes were red and dark in her pale face from a lack of sleep, and she had turned up in just her pyjamas and dressing gown, which was tied loosely around her and covered in stains where she had refused to let them wash it for several months. Silently, she took a seat opposite Anna, with a space between her and her father, but nobody minded. Being the first to recover, Anna smiled and greeted her in pretty German, putting before her the plate which had contained bread rolls and now only had one left, and making sure that she could reach both butter and jam.

Although Cecilia smiled, she didn't say anything, but applied herself to her food with a vim and vigour which had been absent in the lacklustre way which she had played with her meals previously. After a warning glance from her husband, Joey started a cheerful conversation about what good weather they'd been having recently, and how she had been invited to watch Phil play for the school in a lacrosse match against St. Mildred's the following day.

Gradually, conversation moved on to the imminent visit of Roger. As Cecilia had yet to hear of this, she lowered her eyes and began to break the bread off of her roll more slowly, suddenly losing her enthusiasm for it, but Jack was careful not to comment on it and Joey followed his lead. It was an ideal opportunity to try and make Cecilia talk, and they weren't going to pass it over – but if she did mind her adopted brother visiting, she said nothing.

As soon she had finished eating she stood up to leave again, not even waiting for the simple grace to be said before she bolted to the door. Previously she would have been called up for not asking to be excused, but now Joey was prepared to let it slide, not wanting to scare her daughter away. Only Jack guessed that she would prefer anything approaching normality that she could get.

“Cecilia,” he called, and was surprised when she turned around as if prepared to listen to him. “You know that we like it if you ask before you leave.”

Silently she came forwards and stared at him, until he nodded, but before she could leave again he held open his arms and gingerly pulled her into a hug. It said everything that he couldn't for fear of upsetting her; that he was proud of her, and loved her, and that even this simple gesture had gladdened his heart more than she would ever know. What he did say was that he had been reading a new book which he thought she might enjoy, and would she like him to bring it up with lunch; wordlessly she nodded against him and then shuffled away in her too big slippers. Behind her, three surprised adults wondered whether this was the start of a much longed for recovery.

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

That sounds more hopeful :D .

Author:  CatMcC [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

I really am one to sit in the shadows and wai for an interesting bit of reading but I have to break my silence to tell you I am hooked. I have been fromt he first post and am having slight panic attacks about when this has ended and what I am going to do then.

I am glad that Matt is dead but poor Cecil - it makes me want to cry because she is so unhappy. Jack is so warm and understanding. I feel for Joey though, her life experience has been so small that there is no way that she would be able to cope with this in any suitable way.

Thank you again for writing this.

Author:  cal562301 [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

So glad that there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of what must still be a very long and dark tunnel for all of them.

Author:  shazwales [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

Thank you it's lovely to see that she is starting to brave leaving her 'cocoon'? because she wants to without any pressure.That was really nice to read.

Author:  Abi [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 29 Dec

So glad Cecil looks like starting to make a change - it feels like the first tiny sign of spring after a long, long winter. And even better that it seems to be coming from inside herself and not because of an outside influence.

Thanks, Ariel. :)

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 30 Dec

You do all make me blush sometimes :oops:

- X -

They saw nothing of her for the rest of the day, and Joey reported that she still hadn't spoken when the trays of food were brought up to her. When she also failed to appear for Frühstück the following day, a silent agreement seemed to be reached that yesterday had been an odd day and that they shouldn't expect Cecilia to be so forthcoming again. All the same, she must have been battling with herself to overcome whatever stopped her from leaving her room, for she appeared in the Salon just after Joey had taken her lunch away.

Slowly she set up her bed again on the sofa by the fire, and then lay down quite contentedly under it, the pillow propped up by the arm and her head resting on her hand. Unseeingly she focused her gaze on the wall opposite, as if she was still in her bedroom and nothing had changed. Of course the other adults had heard her dragging her bedding downstairs behind her, but they left her alone until the fire needed to be stoked and banked up again with logs, which seemed like a reasonable excuse for Joey to go in.

“Are you comfortable?” she offered tentatively, and was rewarded with a nod. It wasn't often that Cecilia even acknowledged something had been said. “Can I get you anything?”

“Some water would be nice,” mumbled Cecilia after a moment, struggling with herself to make the words come out. It had been so long since she last talked that her voice was rusty and hoarse, and sounded unnatural even to herself. Greatly daring, she propped herself up on her elbows and added, with a faint grin, “Don't look so surprised.”

Trembling slightly for fear that she would do something wrong and arrest this progress, Joey hurried out of the room to fetch the drink and consult Jack on what to do next. He refused to go back with her, saying that if Cecilia had chosen to talk to her, she would only be disconcerted by any intrusion. After that, he trusted her to do what she thought was best – after all, she was infamous for helping new girls to the school, he was sure that she would know what to say here.

Aware of the responsibility that she had now and exceedingly careful because of it, she sat down opposite her daughter and handed over the cold, misty glass, her fingers brushing Cecilia's for just a moment. Taking a deep breath, she did her best to relax, leaning in to the chair and staring into the flames to see if Cecilia would talk again. After a long time, she said something, but a log exploded at the same moment and she flinched, knowing that Joey wouldn't have heard her.

“Sorry,” said her mother politely. “I didn't quite catch that.”

“If Roger is coming,” she repeated with an effort, then stopped and appeared to think about what she needed to say next. Her voice was awkward and ungainly, and she seemed to have almost forgotten how to speak it had been so long. “I'd better start behaving normally, hadn't I?”

“Not at all,” said Joey quickly. The last thing Cecilia needed, she knew, was more pressure. “He's only coming for a week because he had holiday from work and nowhere else especially to go. I doubt that he'll even stay here more than two or three days, he was talking about booking a hotel somewhere else in Switzerland and exploring more of the country.”

“I don't mind,” was the quick reply. There was a pause as Cecilia sipped her water, then she added so quietly Joey almost had to lip read to understand her, “I don't want to stay in that room anymore.”

So many times Joey had dreamed of this moment, had hoped with all her heart that she could hear those or similar words spoken, that she nearly burst into tears. The only thing that stopped her was the knowledge that it would only drive Cecilia away again, and it was a barrier that she didn't want between them. With a great effort she managed to control herself, though tears glittered in her eyes. Struggling, she tried to think what to say next. She could hardly asked what had brought about such a change of mind, other than Roger's imminent arrival, but there was nothing else that she wanted to know.

“He comes on Tuesday,” she said at last, then added stupidly, “Roger, I mean.”

The only confirmation she received was a short nod before Cecilia lay her glass down on the floor and burrowed under her blanket again, pulling it around her shoulders so that only her messy black curls were visible. Guessing from her tiny yawn that she just wanted to sleep, Joey excused herself and left the room, having pulled the curtains so that the sunlight wouldn't keep Cecilia awake.

As soon as she was sure that Cecilia was safe she went to find Jack, who was pacing the study waiting to hear anything, good or bad. He was therefore considerably startled when Joey, who scorned all tears with a boyish hatred, flung herself into his arms and started to cry. Gently he patted and soothed her until the storm had passed, and she was able to tell him that at long last Cecilia was starting to heal, and that the worst seemed to be over.

Privately, he doubted that, wary in case this was only a temporary gain, and worried that something would happen to send her back upstairs. The smallest reminder of Matt now could set them back months, and they would have to be very careful with their daughter for the foreseeable future; but at the same time, this was such progress that he couldn't help but revel in the blind optimism that suggested to them both that they could all start to move on from the past few years.

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Hope she's really starting to move on.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Two updates together! [I was off line all yesterday :( ]

Thanks Ariel :D

Author:  JB [ Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Fingers crossed that Cecil is coming out of this.

Author:  cal562301 [ Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Good to see that the light is still shining at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  Abi [ Thu Dec 31, 2009 9:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Oh, I do hope Jack is wrong that it's just temporary. It's so lovely to see Cecilia starting to recover a bit.

Author:  ammonite [ Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Glad that Cecil seems to be getting better :)

Author:  Kacca [ Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Nicely timed for the new year :D . I do hope the future is brighter, surely it has to be even with the setbacks Cecil will face.

I feel so much for Jack and Joey. They are doing so well with a situation no parent would know how to deal with.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Happy New Year everyone! What better way to start it than with a drabble update?

- X -

The following days weren't easy for any of them. While Joey, Jack and Anna were cautious and overly sensitive around her, Cecilia struggled with herself not to regress and stay curled up in her room like she wanted. At least while she was there she felt as if she could remember Matt, could think about him without feeling guilty; when she was in other parts of the house, around other people, he just seemed to taint everything, and stop her from reaching out and saying all that she wanted to.

Deep down, she knew that he had never loved her as much as she loved him, because he would never have forced her to do all the things she hated if he had. But he had come back for her, he hadn't just kidnapped her or forced her along, he had tried to be nice, because he didn't want to hurt her really. Sometimes he was the kindest, most sensitive man she had ever met, and he could guess how she was feeling and what he needed to say just by looking at her.

It was when he was around his wife that he changed. He had told her all about how he had been young and foolish, and had thought he loved her despite her shady background; it was only when he realised how much trouble he would be in thanks to her actions that he acquiesced and began to lead the life she wanted him to. More than anything, he said, he wanted to be the respectable doctor that he pretended to be away from the brothel, but whenever he came back she was there, taunting and teasing him, threatening him unless he did what he was told.

After his death, Adelise had written to Cecilia. When she was given the letter, she recognised the handwriting straight away – it was the day before she was prompted to tell Joey of what had happened to her. Jack had been the one to bring it to her, and she had entreated him to read it, and memorise it, so that if she was ever strong enough she could know what Adelise had wanted to say to her, but then to burn it. She couldn't bear to have anything from 'that woman' around her. Reluctantly, her father agreed; he had wanted to take it straight to the police, but when Cecilia said that she was tired of everything that had happened and didn't want it all to start again, he had let the matter drop and done as she asked.

Four days after she first joined them for Frühstück saw Cecilia starting to try and talk to them. Until then, although she had come downstairs, it had only been to sit with her book or lie and think, and when she did join them for meals it was still in her pyjamas. It was therefore something of a shock to Jack when she appeared in his study, fully dressed, and asked quietly if there was anything she could do to help him. As she explained, she didn't feel up to helping Anna with the housework, not when she still wasn't sleeping well and was so tired, but she wanted to do something, there was no point just sitting around.

In truth, Jack had no need whatsoever of her help, but he was wise enough not to say so. Casting his mind hastily over everything that he planned to do, he quickly found her a job. Presenting her with a huge armful of paper, he explained that he was going through all of his notes from work, finding old case files that had been brought home after a visit or to study away from the San so that they could go back, and putting everything else into order. This was all in preparation for their eventual move back to England, though he didn't say so, not knowing yet how Cecilia felt about that.

“Those,” he said, pointing at the pile which towered to nearly her chest when she sat cross-legged behind it, “are or should be nearly all notes that I took in various meetings and never filed properly. Here are some files; each should be numbered and dated, so you just need to organise them into which meeting they came from, put them in order and file them away. I've got no idea what use I'll have for them now, but it's probably better to try and have them ready in case they are ever needed.”

Smiling shyly, she set to work, doing her best to put things in order but soon just having paper in neat piles all around her. There were notes with pages still missing that she couldn't file until she'd found them, things that weren't anything to do with meetings and which Jack would have to decide what to do with and finally a neat stack of three files in the corner, from meetings that she'd actually been able to complete. By lunchtime, this number had risen to five, and half the pile was still balancing unstably in the middle while the rest of the paper was in several parts that even Cecilia was starting to lose track of.

When the bell rang, Jack stood up then reached out a hand and pulled her up with him, walking with her to the cloakroom where they washed their hands – which were dusty and ink-stained – and in Cecilia's case brushed hair into something resembling order again. Just before they left, Jack started to dry his hands on a towel, and said at the same time,

“Thankyou for all your help. This is proving to be something of a headache, but your mother is insisting that now I'm retired I haven't got an excuse not to sort it all out. Will you be coming back after Mittagessen or can I not tempt you with my promises of adventures among the paperwork?”

Cecilia laughed and walked under his arm as he held the door open, promising that she would give the matter careful consideration and decide what it would be best to do. It was all that he could get out of her, for she fell silent as soon as they sat down at the table, but for just a time they had been so normal that he'd almost managed to forget how hurt she was and how little he could do about it.

Author:  cal562301 [ Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

What a lovely interlude. There seems to be a real glimmer of hope for Cecil.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  shazwales [ Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Thank you Ariel, Happy New Year. :party: :party: :party:

Author:  aitchemelle [ Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 31 Dec

Happy New Year Ariel. Thank you for the latest updates.

Author:  Abi [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 01 Jan

So glad it seems to be a non-temporary improvement! Thanks Ariel for a lovely New Year's present. :D

Author:  JB [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 01 Jan

Thanks Ariel.

Phew - no cliff. :D

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 01 Jan

I must apologise - it seems that my narrative has been hi-jacked for a little while. I promise to have it back on track soon, though!

- X -

Once they'd all settled back down around Cecilia and her new routine, it did seem as if she had simply swapped one burrow for another. Now she got up every morning, got dressed, and appeared at the table for meals, but other than that she was a law unto herself and frequently disappeared for hours at a time without telling anybody where she was going. As it was nearly always out in the garden, unless the weather prevented it, they guessed that she must have decided to inhabit the old tree house that the boys had built one summer just after Stephen left home.

Despite the evident improvements, however slight, though, Jack was still worried about her. It was plain just from looking at her that she wasn't sleeping well, and he meant to talk to her about it and try and find the reason. It was to be hoped that now she was out in the fresh air and moving around again, even if she wasn't tiring herself out, she would start to sleep better, but he wanted to make sure. If not, he would ask Reg to come and talk to her, in case he needed to proscribe something to help her sleep.

However, he was determined to be cautious about this. With a wife as volatile as his, and a job as demanding, he had always been prone to slipping her a dose whenever she became too excited, as a simple way of dealing with the problem that didn't take up much time; and he knew that she never minded this treatment, having been accustomed to it from her early years. But now he needed to get it right; even if they could persuade Cecilia that she needed some sort of medication, getting her to take it would be something else, and then there were all the problems that came with it if she did. But if she wasn't sleeping properly, he was going to do something about it.

With this aim in mind, he waited one morning until she would have settled wherever she went in the garden and then found Joey, to tell her that he was going for a stroll round the grounds and possibly along to the shop after that if she needed anything. Pecking her cheek, he threw his large green Barbour jacket over his shoulders and left, whistling nonchalantly as he strolled along. This high up the sun was already blazoning down, and although it was nowhere near as hot as it could get in the summer only the light breeze stirring the grass gave him any cause for the extra layer.

Purple saxifrage waved their heads gaily at him as he passed, and he nodded back to them, smiling to himself at how pretty they looked along the dark wood of the house. Behind them reared up Sorrel, also bending daintily. All of the flower beds were kept in spick and span order by Joey and Anna, who during the summer months preferred to be outside. They would take out their mending during the morning, and in the afternoon would do any weeding that needed to be done and make sure that the border edges were tidy; all the children were expected to do at least three days' work in the garden during their summer holidays to help, and visitors were always remarking on how pleasant it was.

Despite the size of the house the gardens were comparatively small, though it did them nicely most of the time, and he was soon at the tree house where he suspected Cecilia to be. With the sunlight glancing through his hair and birds calling around him from the dappling trees, he looked every inch the dashing if aging hero as he started to climb up the 'stairs' – small pieces of wood which Felix had screwed irregularly into the trunk of the tree so that they just jutted out. When it was built the rules had been that it could only be so high that if anyone should fall out no real damage would be done, and as such he knew he was in no danger. All the same, his knees weren't what they once were, he thought ruefully, and he was pleased to reach the top, slightly out of breath.

As he pulled himself into the tree house, he was greatly amused by the sight that met him. As if in answer to his unasked question, Cecilia was sound asleep, snoring gently as she lay underneath the window built into one side. As she had no mattress and no covering, it didn't look like the most comfortable of beds, but seeing her so innocent and sweet Jack didn't have the heart to wake her. Instead he glanced around, taking in the basket of apples on one side for if she missed Mittagessen, and the neatly stacked notepad and pen near her hand.

He watched her sleeping peacefully for so long that a robin ventured to hop onto the edge of the window and eye the apples hopefully. Courageous as he was, even he wasn't brave enough to come that close to a human, though, and with a disappointed trill he took to flight, disappearing among the green foliage above. Recalled to himself, Jack made a long arm and slid the notepad carefully towards him, making sure it didn't scrape against the wood and wake Cecilia up.

The front page was covered in her neat, slightly italic handwriting to almost halfway down, but wary of invading her privacy he ignored the temptation to read it and instead flipped the page over to a clean sheet. There he wrote a small message to say that he had come up but that she was asleep, and that if she needed anything Joey was in the house, although Anna had been granted a rare day off and had gone down to Interlaken with one of the maids from the Chalet School. As an afterthought, he finished by saying that he would try and get her some more variety for her food stores, then signed off with a kiss and a flourish, placing it where she was sure to see it. Then, humming jauntily to himself again, he made his way back down and started to mosey to the shop at the end of the Platz, unaccountably cheered by what he had seen.

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 02 Jan

Hooray - Jack has finally realised that you can't just go around dosing people without their consent whenever you feel like it!

Author:  Abi [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 01 Jan

ChubbyMonkey wrote:
However, he was determined to be cautious about this. With a wife as volatile as his, and a job as demanding, he had always been prone to slipping her a dose whenever she became too excited, as a simple way of dealing with the problem that didn't take up much time; and he knew that she never minded this treatment, having been accustomed to it from her early years.

I find this a little chilling. :?

Thanks Ariel. :D

Author:  cal562301 [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 01 Jan

Abi wrote:
ChubbyMonkey wrote:
However, he was determined to be cautious about this. With a wife as volatile as his, and a job as demanding, he had always been prone to slipping her a dose whenever she became too excited, as a simple way of dealing with the problem that didn't take up much time; and he knew that she never minded this treatment, having been accustomed to it from her early years.

I find this a little chilling. :?

Thanks Ariel. :D

It worried me, too, as I didn't get the impression from the books that Jack did this to Joey very often. However, it's possible I'm wrong.

Thanks for the update.

Author:  Verzasca [ Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 01 Jan

cal562301 wrote:

It worried me, too, as I didn't get the impression from the books that Jack did this to Joey very often. However, it's possible I'm wrong.

Thanks for the update.

I always thought it was the norm - Matron was always at it too - slipping doses here and there into warm milk!

Author:  clair [ Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 02 Jan

This is so well written, Ariel. I don't get to comment often enough but it's one of the first drabbles I check for updates.

Hoping that this proves to be a real start for a new life for Cecil at last

Author:  2nd Gen Fan [ Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 02 Jan

I haven't had a chance to catch up on this in ages; what a treat to have so many posts to read at once. I am so relieved that Cecilia appears to be making some progress at last, and Jack and Joey are doing much better in the type of support they are offering her now. Still a fantastic story!

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 02 Jan

Sorry for the delay! I do have to confess to possibly putting unecessary emphasis on Jack's dosing tendencies - I know how popular Jack bashing is on here! On which note, I do hope I've got his childhood home correct...

- X -

Tuesday was upon them long before they were ready for it, and the morning when it dawned was one which had to be started before the sun had begun to rise. Roger's train was getting in early, and Jack was up at five for the long drive down. He was gratified to discover that Anna had also woken in order to hand him a package of sandwiches, still wrapped in her dressing gown. Joey he left sleeping, for unlike him she was unused to ordering her sleep around her life instead of her life around her sleep, and he could see that she needed a little more rest than usual. Everything that they'd been through with Cecilia had left her peaky, with deep shadows under her eyes; a danger sign for anyone who knew Joey.

Silently he slipped out of the house, with Anna's assurances that she would have everything ready by his arrival still ringing in his ears. The car was slow to start, and he guessed that he would need to take it down to the nearest garage soon, but a little coaxing soon saw it purring gently. Light was already filtering down through the thick cloud layer, and the darkness was dissipating quickly, but the only person he passed was an old colleague, whom he raised his hand to as a greeting when they drove past each other.

It was lovely to drive such empty roads by himself, and although he had to concentrate hard to get down the mountain safely, once he was away from the hairpin bends and steep slopes, that always threatened to throw one over the side and crush one on jagged teeth of rock, he put the car into gear, found his speed and let his thoughts start to roam a little. The countryside around him was beautiful, old chalets in the middle of green fields, mountains rearing on either side and snow clad peaks just smiling out from behind clouds.

Behind him it was impossible to see the Platz from this low down, for a fog had inserted itself between the valley and the shelf, but the road ahead was clear and almost completely devoid of traffic. Gradually everything seemed to disappear, so that there was the road in front of him and the mists of past times. Adept as he was, his mind still registered every small detail, and his foot still waited to hit the brake should it need to, but other than that he let his mind turn off and the memories flood him.

The first thing he thought of was the endless summer days of his boyhood, spent with Mollie racing around the fields of Pretty Maids. His twin was a lively young girl, always ready to follow him as he picked up a toad or – on one memorable occasion – ate a worm. Grinning, he remembered what had happened when he forced Mollie to do the same, and she'd been sick afterwards. His father had whipped him soundly, but unbeknownst to their parents, Mollie had had another attempt soon afterwards to prove to him that she could do it.

When they had been parted to go to school, it had been a blow, and at first he had missed her, but soon he found his own friends and began to miss home less. In a trunk in the attic at home he still had the letters he and Mollie had exchanged from boarding school, so that he could trace her growing up and becoming the young woman who had accompanied him to Austria. Sometimes it had hurt to read of her doing things without him, but most of the time he was too caught up in his own affairs and just pleased that she was happy.

Idly, he wondered if his own triplets had ever felt like that. Of course they hadn't been separated until they were adults, apart from the year that Margot spent in Canada, but going to university must have been a wrench for them. Even at the same one, Len and Con had always said that they never had much time to see each other, and Margot had been stuck in Scotland and really isolated from the family. But she'd talked to him once, and told him that she preferred it that way; away from them all, she wasn't Margot and her Devil, she was Mary Margaret the trainee doctor and would-be nun, with nobody to remember her sins. Besides, as she'd so rightly pointed out at the time, she never saw her family now – though Stephen had been out to see her once, and Joey and Jack had written to promise her that they were still saving up, and by next year when they had their new house in England and were more settled they should be able to come and see her.

At first it had hurt him again, just like when Mollie left him, that Margot was so far away and they had no chance of seeing her. But gradually he'd become accustomed to it, and all her letters of how happy she was despite the poverty and horrendous situations that she was placed in told him that she'd made the right choice. More than once he and Joey had doubted her, everyone had; she knew that she'd felt a calling, though, and she'd been right to follow it. Her heart was in her work, and if the parting was difficult the knowledge that she was contented with her lot now was all that he asked in return.

Separation from his children had become much harder since Cecilia left as well. Not knowing where she was or what was happening to her, his first instinct had been to gather the rest of his children close so that he could keep them safe. Every morning he awoke, and one of the first things he wondered was whether or not any of them were being hurt at that moment, if he could ever protect any of them. It was silly, though, and he knew it was; even the youngest were being looked after by their schools, it was what he paid them for after all, and Cecilia would have been fine, too, if only she'd listened to him.

Gratefully, he noticed the turning approaching where he'd planned to stop and have breakfast. It was an old, winding track leading eventually to a farm, but there was a stopping point halfway along next to a delightful stream where he could have his sandwiches in peace. Whenever his thoughts strayed towards Cecilia and what she had been through he looked for distractions, but on the open road there hadn't been any. Now he splashed his hands and face in the icy water of the stream and took a seat on the grass, smiling at the note he found which Joey must have left out the night before for Anna to include with his meal. Tucking it neatly into his breast pocket, he started to eat, purposefully keeping his mind occupied on what sort of bird it was trilling above him.

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 04 Jan

Yes, it's Pretty Maids, except in one book in which it's Merry Maids :roll: :lol: .

I do often wonder (as you do!) why Jack's relations were so rarely mentioned: I know Mollie was on the other side of the world, but we hear very little about her between her marriage and Reunion. We never get to meet Jack's friends, either (except Carola's dad). Nor Jem's, for that matter.

Sadly you can't always keep your loved ones safe :( .

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 04 Jan

Sorry it's so boring at the moment! Please don't let any of the threats I might have heard recently be carried out.

- X -

As he was sitting down to breakfast on an idyllic riverside, at Freudesheim Cecilia was playing idly with hers, pushing a friend egg around the plate and doing her best to avoid her mother's inquisitive looks. For once Anna had chosen to eat in the kitchen, to give Joey some time alone with her daughter, but so far there had only been an awkward silence as they realised that they had nothing to talk about. In fact, Cecilia seemed to be in a different world altogether, and she barely murmured her request to leave the table before she bolted away to put her coat on.

In the pocket, nestled snugly, was her notebook, and she plunged her hand in to feel both the reassuring solidness of the packed pages and the round pen, her only lifeline at the present. Her father's note had made her smile, and she had flipped the pages so that it would be on the top, and she could see it whenever she sat down in the tree house. Before she could be caught by Joey to help with some menial task as preparation for Roger's arrival – Anna having been stripping the bed to put clean sheets on just before they sat down to their meal – she slipped out of the front door and into the bracing air.

Even now Joey liked to keep the hours that she had at school for the most part, as it was the routine she knew, and as Cecilia sauntered along by the hedge, breathing in the freshness which brought redness to her cheeks and stung her bare skin, she could hear the school going on an early morning walk. How well she remembered the mad rush to bathe and be dressed in time, followed by a large Frühstück which she always struggled to finish and a walk straight afterwards, so that the first lesson usually passed her by as she did her best not to feel ill.

It was a world away from what she knew now. At some point it had become incomprehensible to her that she should return to the daily routine and forced jollity towards others, perhaps even before she left. When she was planning her life away with Matt the school had faded in importance, so that a scolding from Matey for not eating her meal or low marks from her teachers because she hadn't been paying attention were just something to be escaped from as soon as possible. Certainly now she could never be like the streams of jolly girls meandering down the Platz; their destinies were as far apart as two stars at either side of the universe, and were never to be reconciled.

Gaining the tree house, she climbed nimbly up the makeshift stairs and, sweeping out a couple of woodlice, shook her coat off and placed it on the floor so that she had something slightly more comfortable to sit on. Jack had offered to build a low chair for her for her hideaway, and Joey had added a promise to dig out some old cushions that didn't matter so that she wouldn't be forced to always sit against hard wood, but for now she had sparse luxuries.

That was unimportant, however. Pulling her notebook into her lap, she sat back and began to think. In front of her was a list of names, some crossed out and some written in an incredibly wobbly hand, as if she had been crying as she put them down. There was a great variety, all first names, some in French and some in English. More than once Matthew had been written, but each time it had been crossed out, sometimes so heavily that only the imprint was still readable. Girls names scattered across the list too, but it was mainly focused on men.

Ponderously, she jotted down Jack. It had been written before, but she seemed to feel the need to do so again; then, smiling, she leaned back and shut her eyes. The wind came softly through the window above her head, and the sun shone in weakly, not warming her yet though she knew that by lunchtime it would do so. Trying to keep her focus on the names was impossible, and she let her mind wander, even when it came to places that she didn't want to go. Her real home shimmered before her, as she remembered what it was like, what she could have been doing at that time in another city entirely.

Dirty streets with dark minds down them, all waiting just for her. Dressed as she was marked her out for exactly what she did, how much she belonged in the sordid underworld. Soon, she would feel the cold chill of unfamiliar fingers running up her back, offers of money trickling down her uncaring form. The long walk back to the bed so that they didn't have to brave the cold anymore. The hollow feeling afterwards as she looked at the few coins in her palm and wondered when she became worth so little.

Smiling to herself, Cecilia let her hair float around her, ruffled by the gentle breeze, and the weak sun fall on her closed eyelids. If she could just get back there she would find the answers, would discover that elusive name on the wall of one of the alleys just waiting for her all along. And he would be there, to hold open his arms and present her with everything he had taken. She couldn't step back in time, and she could never be part of a family without him in it. But whenever she was alone she had him, whatever his name was.

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 05 Jan

She could do with someone to talk to about all this properly, but I don't know who at the Gornetz Platz'd be the right person.

Author:  JB [ Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 05 Jan

How well she remembered the mad rush to bathe and be dressed in time, followed by a large Frühstück which she always struggled to finish and a walk straight afterwards, so that the first lesson usually passed her by as she did her best not to feel ill.

Makes me feel ill just thinking of it. I like a slow start to my day.

Thanks for the update, Ariel.

Author:  Abi [ Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 05 Jan

Not at all boring, Ariel. Thank you.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 05 Jan

Duly, the meeting came between herself and Roger, which she had been dreading in her heart since she learnt that he was coming. Every new person presented a challenge, for she was wary now of how people would react to her, and unsure of what to say to them when there was such a big thing hanging between them. Even if they didn't know everything that she had done, she did, and it stopped her from interacting with everyone else properly. All she wished was that it could be her and Jack and Joey and Anna, by themselves, so that she didn't have to worry about what others would think of her.

She had hidden in the tree house for as long as she could, knowing that she wouldn't be disturbed there. It was known in the house that that was her place, and all concerned were only thankful that she was at least going out, and it was a slightly healthier place to hide than in bed. At least she joined them regularly for meals, so that they could see her and talk to her.

When the dying rays of the sun illuminated the distant, rosy pink mountain tops, reflecting off of the snow permanently around them, and darkness crept in to claim its victims, she forced herself down from the haven and, dusting herself off, she made her way stealthily to the house, clinging to the shadows in the hope that she could at least slip in unnoticed and be upstairs before anyone worried about her. Once there, she was confident that nobody would try to move her again if she didn't want to be moved.

The door loomed large, and her hand hesitated over the handle. Haphazardly, the car was parked in the driveway, suggesting that Joey had been so eager to see Roger again that she hadn't given Jack a chance to come to a full stop properly – something she frequently did when they had long anticipated visitors, and which he teased her about all of the time. Smiling to herself at the foibles of her parents, whom she had come to see loved her deeply despite everything, just as they would always love each other and all of the children so much a part of the happiness they shared. Somehow it wasn't enough, though, not when he lurked in the shadows, reminding her of what she'd lost.

Shivering at the sinister thoughts, she tried the door, but it had been locked as they thought she would come in through the quicker route of the kitchen, and even when she rattled the handle it refused to budge. Gritting her teeth, she reminded herself that it was all in her imagination, but it didn't stop her jumping when an owl hooted nearby, a noise which echoed through the eerie silence.

Treading carefully, she stepped back from the porch and followed the lights of the windows to keep to the side of the house. Tree branches tapped each other knowingly above her, and something scurried through the undergrowth nearby and made her jump. Feeling in her pocket for the reassuring solidity of her notebook, her lifeline right now, she rounded the corner and sighed with relief to see the kitchen door, and Anna moving around inside. Banishing all thoughts of what lurked just beyond consciousness for her, she felt for the door handle and turned it quickly, ducking in to the warmth and light which enveloped her.

A moment later and her heart sank, as she realised that Roger was there, trying to coax something out of faithful Anna. Unprepared for meeting him, she debated trying to creep out of the kitchen without being noticed or just bolting and hoping that they couldn't stop her, but all of her exit routes were cut off when he turned around and relaxed into a slightly nervous smile.

“Hallo,” he greeted shyly, not taking his gaze off of her face. Doing her best to smile, but achieving something nearer a grimace, she returned faintly,


“How are you?” he tried in the interests of politeness. Flickering her eyes to the door, she tried to explain that she was just going upstairs, but before she could say anything Anna intervened, bustling around them in good nature.

“She's going to help me by laying the table now, aren't you, mein Blümchen?”

“If – if you want,” she stuttered, draping her coat over one of the chairs before the fire and rolling up her sleeves as she came to collect the pile of plates that Anna was holding out. Disconcerted by the presence of a strange man in her kitchen, for aside from the doctors who had traipsed in to see her and traipsed out again without having made any difference, and Mike's friend who had been so good to her, he was the first that she had met, she fled. It wasn't even that he was a stranger to her; she could recite his history without pausing, knew his full name and his birthday, had even been told that he was her brother for as long as she could remember. He used to say that he could remember bouncing her on his knee when she was smaller. But he wasn't related to her, not in the strictest sense, and that made a difference. It meant that he could hurt her.

Confused, but wishing and knowing that she could accept he wouldn't be a threat to her but that she wouldn't until he'd proved himself in some way, she laid down the cool plates on the table and then pressed a hand to her hot cheeks. She was blushing badly and she knew it, but she didn't see how she could stop herself when she was required to go back to the kitchen and face him again. There was just something about him that seemed to fluster her.

Author:  cal562301 [ Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 06 Jan

Hm interesting. The list of names is suggestive of something, but maybe I'm barking up completely the wrong tree, as I guess it could have several meanings.

Thanks for the updates Ariel.

Author:  Abi [ Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 06 Jan

Poor Cecilia, so consumed with fear. But hopefully, every time she learns to trust someone, she'll be just a little less afraid. I don't know.

Author:  Emma A [ Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 06 Jan

I was wondering, reading the earlier updates, whether some "tough love" might have been better for Cecilia rather than letting her go on wallowing. Still, she seems to be recovering, but I agree with Alison that she needs to talk over the whole thing with someone who knows about abuse, and who isn't related to her.

Thanks, Ariel, for this thought-provoking and sad story.

Author:  Kacca [ Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 06 Jan

cal562301 wrote:
Hm interesting. The list of names is suggestive of something, but maybe I'm barking up completely the wrong tree, as I guess it could have several meanings.

Well I'm befuddled by the list of names. It seems significant but I'm being quite dense at the moment. (I am on summer holidays after all)

Poor Roger. It must be so confronting for Cecil to have him there though.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 06 Jan

A little hint, perhaps! Probably won't be able to update tomorrow - might try some Sunday, but need to do some serious work for exams, so I might not be able to. Sorry!

- X -

That night, she found it impossible to sleep, haunted by dreams of what could have happened, where Roger appeared suddenly and started to laugh, a cruel, harsh laughter unlike his own. Thoroughly frightened by the final one, in which he took a knife and advanced towards her, sometimes Matt and sometimes himself, steely light bouncing off of the walls until he plunged it into her and she sat bolt upright with the bedclothes tangled around her, she got up early and wandered over to the window.

The view was, as ever, magnificent. Moonlight glinted through trees and winked at the tiny hamlets dotted around the barren rock, a full, bright moon as a father to the world. It even seemed to the tiny girl lost so far below when she looked up that there was a benevolent face smiling on her, for doing him the honour of being up to see him. Her thoughts turning to Roger again, she wondered how he felt when he looked at the moon. Did he see his own father in it, and wonder what he'd done to deserve to lose both his parents? Or perhaps she was being silly and he didn't feel anything at all, it was just a planetary orb.

Shivering, she crawled back under her plumeaux, though this time she sat up against the headboard, knees curled into her chest. Now thinking about her adoptive brother, she tried to call his face to mind but found the images becoming blurry. Under the shock of dark red hair which framed his square jaw and masculine face he was laughing, head thrown back at the general amusement of something. It was odd, but she didn't think that she'd ever seen him be angry before; he was so mellow that she always pictured him smiling.

There was something alluring about him, and she wished that they could have been closer. The trouble was that he was so much older, and his work was always so difficult that he didn't have much time for his family, even Roddy and Ruey, thus to him she was nothing more than a name on a Christmas card every year. They never even bought each other presents, not having any idea what the other would want, he was more like a distant friend than a relation. With Ruey and Roddy it was different – they visited regularly, and were always writing letters or sending news through Daisy and Laurie. But she guessed that to Roger, at least, Joey and Jack could never be parents, only guardians.

After that, she couldn't get back to sleep, and when she appeared the next day it was all that she could do not to rest her head on her arms against the table and snooze contentedly. As is often the case, the effort of getting up and getting dressed showed her how tired her body actually was, and she thought that if she could just curl back up in bed then she should be asleep in an instant, and not suffer constantly from the nightmares, harbingers of doom, thanks to the sunlight streaming through the window. But as soon as she saw Jack glancing at her in concern she was quick to bury her own tiredness under a flurry of eating. The last thing that she needed now was more questions.

Soon after Frühstück was finished she excused herself to go into the garden, though she was annoyed when Roger offered to come with her. All that she wanted was to be alone, and certainly not with the man who had so calmly stabbed her the night before, but unable to argue without sounding rude she acquiesced and went to get ready. Hopefully he would only accompany her as far as the tree and would then leave her alone to get on with his own walk, so that she could be in peace. She had almost finished the list of names, and although she didn't know what she needed to write next she could tell that there was something important tugging at her.

To her chagrin he insisted on joining her in the tree house “for a breather” before he went on, which vexed her deeply though she couldn't help feeling embarrassed at her ungratefulness. He was doing his very best to bond with her now, evidently thinking that a fresh face would be something new for her and might take her mind off of her problems for a little while. At first they just talked about general topics, such as how well Roddy was doing on his farm and how much she must be looking forward to Charlie giving birth again.

It was as he was leaving that the disaster happened. Cecilia had drawn out her notebook from her pocket to start writing again when he called something to her. In leaning out of the window to listen, she knocked it from her hands, and even as her fingers grasped desperately it fluttered gracefully towards the ground, making her cry out. The morning dew was still lying on the grass, and the ink must surely be smudged. But through the tears in her eyes she saw Roger dart forwards and catch it; even as her heart slowed again, however, she realised that she had turned the page back to look at something else, something that nobody must see.

Cursing herself for ever having written it down, she scrambled down the tree trunk, jumping the last three steps and landing awkwardly. It didn't stop her for a second, though, and she raced around, stopping suddenly just in front of him. His face was ashen, and he had clearly read exactly what she didn't want him to, purely by accident, as she could tell from his horrified features. Snatching it from him, she turned to go, but he called her back with one simple sentence.

“Was it really your baby?”

Shutting her eyes to stop herself crying at that word, she turned, fighting with herself to give a coherent answer. The wind was blowing her hair back and stinging her face, her excuse at least for the tear running down her cheek, and it whipped her words away from her even as she tried to choke them out. Eventually she gathered herself together enough to clutch the precious notepad to her, fingers running fondly along the crumpled paper.

“He was never mine,” she said suddenly. Then she turned and ran to the house.

Author:  cal562301 [ Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

Wow. Not sure what to make of that.

I figured Cecil must have been pregnant at some point and it seems I may have been correct, but what happened to the baby? The ending is ambiguous.

Please don't leave us in suspense any longer than you have to Ariel, though I know exams are important.

Good luck in those, by the way!

ETA But if something in the notebook is all that she has left to remember the baby by, that would go a long way towards explaining why it's so precious to her.

Author:  Alison H [ Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

I'd assumed the same, but because of the comment about Jack's religious beliefs I'd assumed she hadn't actually had the baby ... wondering exactly what happened.

Good luck with the exams - hope you can get to them through the snow. You could do with Sebastian Scott (sorry, have just been reading Elle's drabble so've got the Wells books on the brain!) turning up to get you there on horseback if the trains play up!

Author:  KJX [ Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

Oh I hoped I'd guessed wrong! Poor Cecily.

Author:  JB [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

I had no idea about the secret but that makes so much sense. What a high cliff on which to leave us. I feel an attack of vertigo coming on.

Good luck with the exams, Ariel.

Author:  Abi [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

Alison H wrote:
I'd assumed the same, but because of the comment about Jack's religious beliefs I'd assumed she hadn't actually had the baby ... wondering exactly what happened.

That's what I thought too. But what really happened? Wish there was someone she could talk to about all this. :(

Author:  cal562301 [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

Abi wrote:
Alison H wrote:
I'd assumed the same, but because of the comment about Jack's religious beliefs I'd assumed she hadn't actually had the baby ... wondering exactly what happened.

That's what I thought too. But what really happened? Wish there was someone she could talk to about all this. :(

But what alternative would she have had? Her Catholic upbringing would certainly not have allowed her to consider an abortion.

Most unmarried girls of that era, whatever their religion, would have given up their babies for adoption, I think. But in this drabble, any outcome is possible. :D

*Echoing Abi's wish that Cecil will find someone she can really talk to about all of this soon*

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 08 Jan

Another small update - and a guarantee that all cliffs will be resolved. In time.

- X -

All was quiet and peaceful, in the way that things usually are quiet and peaceful – in either a metaphorical or literal sense – just before a major event. As it was the quiet and peacefulness of a clear, calm night among the mountains, this was nothing unusual in itself; in fact, anything to the contrary would have provided the oddity for the situation. Just as it had been for many thousands of nights in the past, ever since the surrounding giants pushed their way through the earth and into being, and as it would be for many thousands of years to come, so night brought with it quiet and peace.

Most inhabitants of the Platz were too busy being asleep to enjoy the solitude and comfort offered by this fact. It was true that nurses still paced the deadened wards of the Sanatorium, checking breathing and pulses and talking to each other through the swish of starched garments. All information was conveyed this way in the silent labyrinth. Some doctors joined them, snoozing over a cup of coffee in their office or preparing to go home to loving families.

At the school, Matron walked around the corridors one last time to check on the sleeping girls before she retired, satisfied that all was well with her charges. Even Nancy and Kathie, whom she had been sharing a cup of coffee with shortly before, had fallen gratefully into bed by this point. In a different chalet, Len nursed an ailing Mary, who had come down with a cold and didn't like it all. While she paced the floor in the bedroom, Reg snuffled into the pillow and muttered something about sausages. Gradually, even the baby quietened and became a dead weight in her mother's arms, so that she was lain in her cot and left to her rest.

It would have been possible to hear the rustle of the grass as a night breeze swept through it, if only anyone had cared to listen. From further up the mountain came the ringing of a cow bell, and a soft lowing. Grasshoppers chirruped occasionally, and an owl hooted in a low tone; all of nature was aware of the stillness around it. No cars drove and no people walked or hummed or talked. Floorboards seemed hardly to creak, and knockers weren't forced against wood in the wind. Not even the moon dared to filter through a single curtain, or rest against a single face, so that it seemed as if all the world must be in sleep.

One piercing scream rang out. It echoed across the Platz and down to the valley below, disturbed the twinkling stars from their slumber, and certainly awoke the four other inhabitants of Freudesheim. Just as the last ringing mimic faded, another came, and a third in quick sensation, making hearts race and hands fumble for dressing gowns. There was something haunted, primeval about it; it was that of a wounded and dying animal, begging to be put out of its misery. And it was coming from Cecilia's bedroom.

It was Jack who reached the scene first. Anna hadn't even bothered to attend to the noise, but went straight to the kitchen to brew some hot milk; she knew her place and what would be needed of her. Without having to think about it, Jack ordered his wife to stay out of the bedroom, and she hovered in the doorway, clutching Roger's sturdy frame in terror as scream followed scream and nearly deafened them all.

Shouting to make himself heard, Jack wrapped his arms around his daughter, who was awake, eyes wide in terror and hands shaking as she tried to rip off the bedclothes which clung obstinately to her. As soon as she felt his strong grip around her waist she lashed out, scratching him until she drew blood and kicking as best she could for the restraints. But Jack had dealt with patients like this in the past, and his only response was to pull her harder, until she slid out of the bed and curled up on the floor, pulling him into a kneeling position behind her, sobbing loudly now that she was free.

“Get it away from me,” she cried breathlessly, now clutching at him as tightly as she could. Her eyes were so haunted by fear that they scared him, and it was all he could do to keep his hold on her, although she refused to let him go. “Get it away, get it away. It's coming for me, don't let it take me, please don't let it take me, get it away from me. Get it out. Out. Let me go, let me get away, don't let it take me.”

It was no easier to hold her now than it had been before, but with Roger taking her legs, they managed to half carry and half drag her out of the room, and at Jack's signal along the corridor to his own bedroom. Although she still cried, when she saw that she was away from whatever had scared her she calmed down enough to stop shouting, and just lay curled up on the blankets, a pitiful object. Doing his best to order his thoughts logically, Jack felt her brow with the back of his hand and then turned to Roger.

“Help Joey make up a bed – she's fine, love, not even too hot. Whatever it was, it came from a bad dream and nothing more. I heard Anna going to make a hot drink – I'll tell her to bring you a cup, and you can go back to sleep. I'll stay with Cecilia, but she'll be fine once she's calmed down. You can go back too, Roger, once you've seen to that.”

He nodded pleasantly and turfed them out of the room, welcoming Anna and her hot milk with a weary smile and a reassurance that everything would be fine, it was just a bad dream. Having asked her to call in on Joey and on being told that she would see herself back to bed, he returned his attention to Cecilia, who was sipping the drink perfunctorily. It gave her something to do. Then, comforted by Jack promising that she could sleep with him for the rest of the night, she lay down quietly against the soft sheets and obediently shut her eyes. Even though she still shuddered occasionally, she looked much better when Joey stuck her head around the door before retiring to try and get some more sleep again. Jack promised to let her know if there was any change and then, weary, resumed his own bed, pulling the unfamiliar form of his daughter into his arms.

Author:  JB [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 09 Jan

Thanks Ariel. Jack is so sweet here.

Author:  Abi [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 09 Jan

:shock: :shock: That was very scary. Glad Jack knew how to deal with it.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  shazwales [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 09 Jan

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 09 Jan

Jack handled that well.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 09 Jan

This could be the last bit for a few days because I don't know what's going to happen next. Hopefully the plot bunnies will come in the night (if anybody has any to share, please do!) but if not I'll update when I can. Thankyou for all of your lovely comments so far.

- X -

The next morning, many and varied were the guesses at what had happened to Cecilia – throughout, Jack stolidly insisted that it was just a nightmare and, thanks to her taut nerves she had become more frightened than was necessary. As he pointed out, she was just like her sister Con, only instead of sleep walking she had become disorientated when she woke up and reacted differently. But Joey maintained that she had been calling for something to get away from her, and they should call a priest in case the house was haunted. After she had been turfed out of her own bed, she had slept in Cecilia's room, and her imagination had evidently been suggesting things, for she looked tired.

“Nonsense,” refuted Jack at the last claim. “Fancy you believing in ghosts at your age. You really are silly sometimes, Joey. Now eat your breakfast and let me hear no more about ghosts or others of the supernatural. Unless,” he suddenly added with a twinkle in his eye, remembering an old legend of the school which Joey had told him once on a long summer's day when they had been reminiscing about the Tirol, “you see Baby Voodoo. Then you can scream.”

“You horror,” she shrieked, pushing his arm. “Fancy bringing that up now.”

“Don't be so silly, then,” he laughed, but there was no jollity in his eyes, and their teasing stopped abruptly as they remembered what had lead on to the discussion. Whatever Jack said, it was clear to them both that Cecilia was far from better, and desperately needed help. But there was precious little that they could do to help her when they didn't even know the problem, and she had made it clear that she didn't want to talk to doctors.

Upstairs, Cecilia had only just woken up after her troubled night, and the first thing that she did was to sit bolt upright and stare around the room through wide, alert eyes. The phantom of the night before, who had spooked her so, despite being nothing but a bundle of bloodied rags, hadn't deserted her and for a second she was convinced that it was still there, haunting her. Whimpering, she started to swing her legs out of bed so that she could run from it, but as soon as she made a noise the reason she had been woken became apparent.

“Sorry,” murmured Roger, sticking his head back around the door. “I didn't mean to wake you up, I just wanted to see that you were ok. After yesterday -”

He tailed off, and Cecilia quickly swung her legs back under the duvet, for she was only wearing her nightdress and she knew that Roger would have seen more than she wished him to. The last thing that she needed was for him to get the wrong idea about her intentions towards him. Then, beckoning him in, if purely to keep her safe from the thing, she made herself more comfortable while he sat down by her feet.

“Are you ok?” he asked in the end, concern radiating from him. It made Cecilia smile to think that there were still some people who didn't have to care about her, but did all the same. Shifting slightly so that she was sat fully upright, she nodded.

“Just a scare last night.” There was a long silence, as they wondered what to say next, filled by Cecilia. “Can I talk to you?” she blurted out, not meaning to say anything but suddenly finding that she couldn't resist. All the same, it took a great battle with herself to hold back tears, as she started to wonder how to phrase everything that she needed to tell him. Roger nodded mutely as confirmation that she could say whatever she needed to, but from his face she could tell that he didn't really want to hear it. Whatever she was going to say, it must be serious for her to ask, and he liked to avoid responsibility where he could – especially of the sort that left him stuck between two people, as he would be if he wasn't allowed to tell Jack and Joey whatever he was about to hear.

“Hey,” he said softly, as Cecilia really started to cry, pushing angrily at her tears. Shuffling up the bed, he took her hand in his own and stroked her fingers, so softly and tenderly that it made her cry more. It had become so rare to feel a loving caress, something that she clung to when she was with Matt, and he would let her feel emotions she couldn't with all the men who came and went. “Don't cry, whatever it is, we can sort it. Just tell me what's wrong.”

Such pointless platitudes seemed to do what nothing else could and remind Cecilia of what she had meant to talk about. Like most men his age, Roger didn't know how to deal with tears, especially in a girl whom he knew so little about, and as he patted her hand ineffectually she suddenly gave a weak, watery smile. When she'd told Reg and Eugen, they'd turned instantly to the medical problems it brought, had behaved like cool, logical doctors without needing to consider emotion – just as she'd told them so calmly, as if the words didn't tear her in two.

“You can't,” she promised. “You can't make it better. Nobody can. They took my baby.”

Author:  JB [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 09 Jan

Glad she's starting to talk. Hope Roger can handle this. Love Jo being afraid of ghosts - great light relief.

Good luck with the exams, Ariel.

* Sprinkles bunny food liberally *

Author:  Alison H [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Hope Roger's able to deal with this very difficult situation.

Author:  ammonite [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Please get Cecil's baby back to her.

*leaves heaps of plot bunny food*

Author:  Abi [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Poor Roger, what a thing to have to deal with, especially as he's obviously not accustomed to such situations. Very glad Cecil's found someone she can talk to, though.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  cestina [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Should we be sprinking bunny food and tempting Ariel away from her revision?

Yes, we should.....*sprinkles as well*

Author:  cal562301 [ Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Very moving, Ariel. Thanks.

*leaves carrots, cabbage leaves and other plot bunny treats*

Author:  jmc [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Difficult situation for Roger. Hope Cecil can talk to him and that he can help her.

Be strong - ignore the bunny food. Although I really would like some more of this.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Just remembered an English project which needs to be started as well - which of course made the plot bunnies come out tenfold! Oh, well, I have until Monday... Thanks for the bunny food; I'm starting to see where I'm going again, so it evidently worked a treat!

- X -

“It was last year, in the spring. I had one man, Emile, who always came to see me. He was the nicest, kindest man I've ever known, would always talk to me and tell me how pretty I was. I always half thought that he came more for my company than anything else. But one night he came drunk. There was an accident and – and I hoped so hard that nothing would happen, but -

“When I told Matt, he was furious. Said that if I was pregnant then I couldn't earn him money anymore, and useless girls were no good to him. Then I'd have to look after it as well, that would be more money. Just a few months ago he'd thrown someone out because her boyfriend impregnated her, and I was terrified of the same thing happening to me, I didn't know where I'd go or what I'd do.

“But that night I thought about having my own baby, having someone who looked up to me and relied on me for everything. I knew that it would be difficult, but Emile had a daughter and he'd look after us as best he could, just like he did for her. Perhaps he wouldn't have been the man I would have chosen to make my family with, but he was so kind and thoughtful, and I knew he would always do his best for our baby.

“The next morning I was woken up by Matt coming in to the room early, with some men I recognised. They sometimes did jobs for him. He said that one was a doctor. He wouldn't make me leave, he said, I was too special and made him too much money, so it would have to be my child that went. At first I didn't know what to say, and the doctor was getting out all of these instruments, they looked so sharp and painful and I couldn't imagine what they would do to my baby. I was so scared. When the doctor tried to touch me, I shrank back. All that I could do was beg Matt not to. Even though I didn't know what I would do with a baby, I knew that I had to keep it. I cried and pleaded with him, but he wouldn't listen.

“One man looked doubtful, he didn't think that it should be done against my will, but Matt promised him more money and they held me down. I tried my best to struggle so that they couldn't do it, and I kept begging and begging, pleading with him. All that I could think about was my baby, about how I had to save it whatever it took. Even when they bruised me because they had to hold me so hard I still struggled. I couldn't see anything through my tears I just – I'd felt so happy before, thinking about finding someone who wouldn't care what I'd done or who I'd been, and Matt was going to take it all away again.

“There was this sharp sort of pain, and then a bundle of rags. I remember that I stopped struggling when I saw it, and I knew it was too late. I was numb, I still felt as if the baby was inside me but it wasn't.

“Matt was so very merciful, he let me have the day off of work, and I went out for a walk. It still hurt badly, but I couldn't stay in that room. It smelt of blood and death and it was horrible. I just kept seeing that bundle. In the end I found Emile's stall, and there he was. I must have run over to him, because I tripped, and he caught me in his arms and smiled at me. Then he saw my face, and I had to tell him that I was going to have a baby, but it was gone. I never told him that it was his, he was such a lovely man that he didn't deserve that.

“He let me stay with him all day, shared his lunch. We didn't talk much, but I helped him sell fish, and he said how good I was. At first we just joked, but then he suddenly said really seriously that if I could get Matt to name a price, he'd pay it, and take me away. He said that it didn't matter how long he had to save up, but after what had happened I had to get away, and he couldn't give me as good a life as he wanted to, but he'd make me safe, and we could sell fish together.

“Of course, I didn't think that Matt would ever agree to that, but he was more cunning than I thought. All along he'd told me that I'd chosen to do what I did, and that he would never force me to stay. I even believed him, sometimes; it amused him. He told Emile how much he wanted for me, and naturally it was far too high, we all knew that, but he told me that he'd save up anyway. No matter how long it took, he wanted me. Matt had guessed where to find me, and he made me go back with him. I had to be up early the next day to start work and make up what I'd lost.

“Walking back into that house, and that room, was the hardest thing I'd ever done. They'd taken my baby away and burnt him – it was going to be a him, because Emile had a daughter, so he needed a son too – and there was just the furniture left. I thought that I was going to be sick. But I forced myself to lie in the bed, and someone had even thought to change it so that there was no trace left, only me and my memory. How badly I wanted to run away, to Emile, and beg him just to take me. I thought that even if we came to the Platz, or to England, someone would take us in. But he had a daughter and that wouldn't be fair on her.

“The sunset that night was marvellous. It bathed all the rooftops in golden light and shimmered across the ground. I remember watching it and wishing that my baby could have lived to see something similar.”

Author:  ammonite [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Ahhh poor Cecil.

I could kill Matt if you hadn't already killed him off. How does Roger react now?

Author:  cal562301 [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

Heartbreaking. Poor Cecil. I only hope now she's had the courage to confide in Roger, he will be able to support her and not reject her. She's had more than enough of that.

I would also kill Matt, if he wasn't already dead.

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

I hope Roger can handle this - what on earth do you say in response to that :( ?

Author:  JB [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

“Matt was so very merciful, he let me have the day off of work,

Oh, Cecil.

Author:  cal562301 [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 10 Jan

JB wrote:
“Matt was so very merciful, he let me have the day off of work,

Oh, Cecil.

Oh Cecil, indeed. Isn't that the classic response of someone who's been abused over a long period? It's as if deep down they believe they somehow deserve the treatment they receive.

ETA I cried my way through most of that post. Just as well I was on my own, not in the office as I am now.

Author:  Abi [ Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 11 Jan

:cry: :cry: :cry: That was a heartbreaking story. I can't imagine how Roger will cope with having heard it.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 11 Jan

Sorry, Cal :oops: I didn't mean to upset anyone! Sorry!

- X -

Throughout the description Cecilia had talked hesitantly, uncertainly, stumbling over words and pausing for long periods as she tried to gather her thoughts and remain calm. This time, it was impossible to keep her emotions in check, but she brushed ferociously at her tears every time they appeared and kept on, as if resolved that now he knew a little Roger must know everything. Carefully she kept her arms wrapped around her knees, so that she wouldn't have to feel how empty they were, or think about the person that could have been lying in them, cooing softly.

Meanwhile, Roger sat in shock. Whatever he had been expecting, it wasn't that, and the thought of it horrified him. He had always considered himself broad-minded and accepting, forgiving even, but to see her sat before him, so empty, he cursed Matt as he'd never cursed anyone before. There was nothing that he could say to her confession, words were so meaningless and empty compared to her suffering, and even if there had been something he didn't know what it was. Children, for him, were something that he'd decided he would have at an undetermined point in the future when he met a woman he could trust; he'd never considered what it would be to lose one, or to know that you might never have one.

Silence sat over the bedroom for a long time. Even the noises from downstairs didn't drift up, and both people were glad, it gave a comforting sense of solitude to the scene. When she had gone through it, Cecilia had sworn that nobody else should suffer even a little of the pain that she had, but she was finding it so difficult to try and live with her secret. At least in Paris she felt as if the life she led was a punishment for what she'd let happen, or that it was a punishment for what she did, it had given everything some reason. Here, safe and cared for, she had more time to think of her child, but nothing could console her.

“I'm sorry,” said Roger at last. “I – it must have been difficult.”

Mentally he kicked himself for saying something so obvious. Of course it was, she'd made that clear already, and if he could only utter unhelpful things like that then no doubt she'd tell him to leave quickly. But nothing in his life had prepared him for dealing with such an awkward situation – he avoided them where he possibly could. At least if it had been Ruey it would have been easy, he could have got angry and shouted at someone. But Cecilia meant so little to him that he could only relate to her as he would a thousand other people, and he only felt angry in the same way that anyone would when presented with such a story.

“No, I'm sorry,” whispered Cecilia, all her energy gone now that she had choked out her story. “I shouldn't have told you, but I had to tell someone. It was haunting me all the time, and I tried to tell the doctors but they didn't understand, I could tell from their faces. I've tried so hard to keep it from mum and dad, but I want to tell them, I can't keep it from them any longer. They'll hate me, I know they will, but it's always going to hang over me while they don't know. Every time I look at them I feel like I'm lying, I'm so deceitful and dirty.”

“You can't,” Roger replied, horrified. After all that they'd been through, Joey and Jack had barely held it together so far, and the lines on their faces told of their suffering. This would destroy them, he knew. When Cecilia started to cry, he overcame his natural instinct to feel awkward and pulled her into his arms, holding her loosely. There had been many women, but Cecilia was neither a friend, a sister or a lover, and he worried what she might think at such intimacy. “Don't cry, there must be something we can do. But it would hurt them so badly.”

“I know. The longer I leave I leave it, the more it will hurt them, though, and they must find out in the end. Before he – Matt threatened to tell them, to make me go back with him, and other people know. If they found out from someone else it would be even worse, they'd never talk to me again, and I don't know what to do.”

It was a problem which couldn't be solved then. Logically, he could see that if Joey and Jack reacted in the way she wanted, telling them would be the best thing for Cecilia. With their love and support there might just be a chance she could get over what had happened. As she feared, though, they might not react as she hoped, they might blame her for what had happened, hate her for letting her baby be killed. Then all three would be separated so utterly that it would be impossible to bring them together again.

Then there were the other children. If Cecilia had been the youngest then it wouldn't have mattered so much, because the adults might have understood. But they weren't, and if this came out it could destroy the family – and Phil, Geoff and Claire were too young to understand that yet. So many people could be hurt by this.

“Wait a little while,” said Roger in the end. “Give it time for you all to move to England and then see how you feel. If you still need to talk, there will be people there – not doctors,” as she started to exclaim, “people like Sir James and Lady Russell. You could tell them, and if they think it's for the best they'll help you to tell Jack and Joey, so that you have someone to support you as well. I go tomorrow, so I really am no use. Just – don't do anything hasty.”

Reluctantly, Cecilia nodded, and drew away from him, wiping at her eyes. She'd set her heart on telling her parents so that at least she didn't have to feel that she was lying to them any more, but there was sense in what Roger said. Alone, she didn't think that she would have the courage to tell them, no matter how much she wanted to. And Madge would always listen to her if she asked. When Roger asked if she was ok, she nodded, but said that she wanted to be left alone. He was worried, she could tell by his hovering by the door, so she added with a very faint smile that he could get Anna to bring up breakfast, she was hungry.

Author:  JB [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

Thanks Ariel - perfect timing for lunch. :)

I like the insight into Roger's character here but i'm not sure he's given her the best advice. Talking to Madge is a good idea, though - someone not as close as her parents but with a lot of understanding.

Author:  ammonite [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

I think she should talk it over with her parents - I think they would be supportive. It wasn't her fault.

However, talking to Madge may help especially as she isn't catholic so might not have the inflexible view on abortion that Joey and Jack could have.

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

I think Roger did his best there - it was a very difficult situation to handle.

Author:  cal562301 [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

Don't feel guilty about making me cry, Ariel. Cecil's story moved me so deeply I couldn't help it, but that's not a bad thing.

Thanks for the update. It's good that Roger listened without condemning Cecil, but I'm not sure his advice was the best. But then who could know what the best advice would be in this very difficult situation.

On a lighter note I think even OOAO and Joey (assuming it was someone else's daughter, not her own) would find it very difficult to give advice in this situation. :)

Author:  cestina [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

If I were Joey I would be very hurt that my daughter had talked to my sister rather than to me.....

I can't imagine that either Jack or Joey would blame Cecil for not being able to prevent what happened, and knowing about it would help them understand why she is taking so long to recover from the terrible experiences she has undergone, despite all their love and care.

Author:  lexyjune [ Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

My internet has been down since hogmany so I've just caught up with this. It's really emotional writing and I'm really enjoying it. Like the others I think Joey and Jack would realise that the fault didn't lie with Cecily. Thank you so much Ariel.

Author:  Abi [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

I think Cecil's right - she'll have to tell her parents some time, but whether this would be the right time or not I simply have no idea. Roger did his best in a situation in which he was completely out of his depth and at least he didn't condemn her.

Thanks Ariel!

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 12 Jan

Thankyou, everyone - your support as I write is, as ever, lovely, and a big thing for me, so thankyou.

- X -

The next morning saw Cecilia at rather a loose end. Her father had commandeered the study to do some reading of a journal that he still kept up with even after his retirement, and Joey was in the Salon with Barbara Holmes, who had come back to the Chalet School as its History Mistress the term before Cecilia left. She had always been rather friendly with Joey, whom she remembered from her own school days, and had come over that morning for English tea and a talk. It had made Cecilia think, for she had always been keen on history – one area in which she did take after her mother – and she wondered whether she could ask Miss Holmes to give her mother the specification for History for her year group, so that Joey could teach her a little at home. Time, she found, hung rather heavy on her hands on the Platz, and any distractions were more than welcome.

While she mused on the matter, she went down to the kitchen and agreed to help Anna by packing a lunch for Roger, who was leaving them as soon as he'd packed his things to go on to a hotel in the far south of the country. He intended to spend his last three days exploring there before he flew home again, despite Joey's entreaties for him to stay and see more of them. As she worked, she hummed a little, a popular French tune which she had picked up in Paris. The world seemed brighter today, now that someone else knew what she'd done and hadn't judged her for it.

She was just packing his sandwiches when Roger himself appeared in the kitchen. He explained that he was leaving as soon as he'd said goodbye to everyone, then swooped down and planted a hearty kiss on Anna's cheeks. She promptly batted at him with her floury rolling pin – she was making an apple pie for pudding that evening – and told him not to be so silly. But she was beaming all the same, and she showed her appreciation by saying that she would go and tell Joey he was preparing to go, leaving him alone with Cecilia.

“I'm sorry that I have to go,” he said, genuine regret in his voice, as he watched her bustle around putting food into the lunchbox for him. “It would have been nice to stay longer, but I'd already booked the hotel before I came. You could always come with me, if this really is too dull for you! I'd see you safely back on the train for here before I left.”

“It's a kind offer,” she responded, “but I can tell that you're only offering it out of pity – no”, as he started to protest “- you are, and I appreciate it, but I don't want that. It would ruin your holiday and be awkward for both of us. If you really want my company, you can write and we can arrange a holiday with a couple of the others over the summer.”

“That would be nice,” he said, casting an odd glance at her. Flustered, she pushed the carefully made lunch into his hands, turning away so that he wouldn't have to see the confusion on her face. She knew that she shouldn't have said what she had, but she was always saying the wrong thing, and not thinking before she spoke. In the end, it was Roger who broke the silence, conscious that he would miss his train if he didn't leave soon, but that there were things to say.

The atmosphere was tense, and he wished that he could have given her some sage advice or a piece of profound wisdom to console her. If he could have left her with anything, it would be the knowledge that all her family loved her and wanted to help her, and that would never change, but somehow it felt wrong to say that. As if, if he acknowledged that was how she felt, it would force her to acknowledge it too. In the end, he said the first words that came to mind, doing his best not to blush so that she wouldn't disbelieve him.

“You know, you're really attractive – sorry, that makes me sound like a dirty old man.” He paused, thought for a moment, then started again. “What I want to say is that you're really pretty, and, as long as you promise not to tell them I said so, even prettier than any of your sisters. I do include Ruey in that, though I sincerely hope she never comes to hear of it! And, you know, your past really doesn't matter as much as you think it does; people always ask me if I'm related to Professor Richardson who was such a pioneer of space exploration, but I won't let that define who I am. You'll be the same one day, even if you don't believe me now.”

“Roger - “

She was clearly uncomfortable at such closeness. Talks of this nature with anyone tended to make her fidget, and not know what to say, and end up sitting and listening pointlessly like a complete idiot while they tried to be nice, she thought viciously. With Roger especially it was awful, because he wouldn't have been saying any of this if he didn't know what he did and there was no need for him to be so especially nice to her.

“Listen,” he said softly, “I'm not just saying it, I promise. When you move to England, you'll soon find a young man who doesn't care what's happened to you in the past, and who'll be prepared to listen to you, and support you, but who won't let it affect his love for you. You really are stunning, and you'll have them queuing up to ask Jack if they can take you out, you watch. And one day all of this might fade, even, into just a bad memory. Of course you'll never forget, but you can still be happy.”

Where such a speech had come from he didn't know, but he found to his surprise that at the end of it he did believe it. Clearly Cecilia wasn't so sure, but when he smiled she ventured around the table and put her arms around his neck, hugging him softly. It should have been natural, but both found themselves wondering what the other person would think, whether they were showing too obviously how they really felt about it. Cecilia, who had never quite felt those emotions before, was confused, and did her best to hide it, but she was blushing as much as Roger when they parted, for which she scolded herself. It was nothing more than a friendly hug, and she was reading far too much into it.

Slowly, she followed him upstairs and waited in the hallway while he said goodbye to Jack and Joey. Then all three stood in the front door to wave him off, Miss Holmes collecting her things behind them as she had the Middles after break and didn't want to be late for them. Glancing back, he was as surprised as Cecilia to find that it was her he smiled at.

Author:  JB [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 13 Jan

That was lovely, Ariel. Thank you so much.

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 13 Jan


Hope you're OK in the latest lot of snow!

Author:  cal562301 [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 13 Jan

Thanks Ariel. Good to see more positivity creeping in, although I know Cecil still has a long way to go.

I do admire you for being able to write such powerful stuff!

Author:  shazwales [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 13 Jan

Thanks Ariel, Roger is lovely in this.

Author:  Abi [ Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 13 Jan

Glad Roger has given Cecil a little positive feeling, and hopefully she'll find things a little better now that she's managed to tell someone. He is indeed lovely in this!

As always, thank you!

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 13 Jan

I'm ok at the moment, thanks, Alison, but I do have to venture out into it today!

- X -

The news came three weeks later. It had been Cecilia who surprised them all in the intervening period by suggesting that they start packing, so that when Madge and Jem did find a house for them they could move quickly without too much stress. Having been waiting only for her to feel ready for the move, Joey and Jack smiled on such wisdom and agreed. It turned out to be for the best, for a few days later Madge had rung to say that they might have seen somewhere suitable, but she would say nothing more until she'd seen the place for herself; which left Joey hopping with impatience.

All the same, she had been forced to hold on to her tongue until, over breakfast one morning while reading out a letter from Roger thanking them for having him to stay, the telephone in the study rang. She jumped up instantly, berated Jack when he tried to follow her, and disappeared. By the time she returned her food was cold and everyone else was preparing to leave the table, though they looked over at her when she came in. This had happened every time the phone rang while they waited for news – they would come together in one room and wait to hear if it had been Madge, though as yet it hadn't been.

“They've seen the house,” said Joey, beaming on them all. “It sounds perfect. Smaller than this place, much smaller, but obviously that doesn't matter as much now most of the children have flown the nest.”

“Yes, yes,” said Jack impatiently. “Tell us what Madge said.”

There was a glimmer in Joey's eyes that warned him not to tease, for she was perfectly capable of saying nothing more until he had apologised and he knew it. With a sigh he subsided, wishing heartily that just sometimes Joey could be sensible about things – though of course, she then wouldn't be Joey. After a moment to make sure they were all quiet, she continued.

“It's got six bedrooms – just the right number if Phil and Claire share one when we have guests – a study, living room, dining room and its own garden. Madge said that the kitchen was big enough even to satisfy Anna,” she added, bestowing a smile on that lady. “Only two bathrooms, one of them en-suite to the biggest room, which would be ours, but I'm sure we can manage with that. She said that it might be a little bit of a squeeze at first, particularly with all our things, but they want a quick sale so it's going for under the asking price.”

“Well,” said Jack, having listened carefully to all that Joey said. “It certainly sounds suitable, even if we only used it for a couple of years until something better came up. Did she say where it was?”

“Not far from them. Jem checked it over as well, said that it all seemed in good shape – though Madge seemed to think that it would need redecorating from top to bottom until it was more to our tastes.”

After a little more discussion on the practicalities, Jack agreed to think it over and ring Jem that evening to see if he could haggle the price down a little, and make a decision then. It looked as if they would be putting in an offer for it, though, for Joey was enthusiastic about the move, and even Cecilia looked cheered by the news. Shortly afterwards, mother and daughter were found going through an old chest, which had sat in the corner of Joey and Jack's room for years, and which contained all their old things from the Tirol.

This kept them occupied until lunch, after which Cecilia declared her intention of starting to pack things from her own room. She still hadn't collected a lot, though all of her siblings had sent something for her to add to it, from the painted vase Phil made in Hobbies club to an old glass tray to put jewellery in, which Con said had been lying around her house for as long as she could remember. There was a sleeping dog which Charles had sent, and a tiny mirror that Stephen confessed to having stripped down and painted in his spare time.

The cost of posting all these things must have been phenomenal – especially as two or three had been sent together – but every time Cecilia felt the lack of company on the Platz she would handle on or two, brush against them, and think about the person who had sent them. Her personal favourite was Claire's, for that young woman, also in time usually reserved for Hobbies club and the making of goods for the sale, had embroidered a small cushion with Cecilia's name on it, which she hugged to her when she was upset.

Heart lightened by the news that they had received – for she was as excited as her parents at the thought of the move, especially as for her it would be a fresh start as well – she began to move things into a box, packing carefully to fit in as much as possible. Once she had nearly finished, the room looked empty and desolate, but knowing why she hummed to herself as she worked. The tune died on her lips as she discovered an old, dusty envelope, the familiar boyish scrawl starting to fade in the light now.

It was from Mike, the letter he had given her at Christmas and which she had never managed to read. Fumbling her way backwards until she was sat on the edge of the bed, she looked at it for a moment and then slit open the top, pulling out the pages with trembling hands. There were only two, but they were closely packed, and in the dim light cast on the bed it was difficult to read them, so that she frequently had to go over a sentence twice or even three times before she understood it.

Mike had written to her of a memory from when she was much younger. Home from school for the summer holidays, he had planned a ramble with the hardy, tom-boyish girl who loved sports and was already planning when she could take up lacrosse and hockey. Together they were going to climb to the top of the mountain, to fill in one of the endless sunny days which always fill childhood, supposedly with Felix although he cried off at the last minute and Charles had to take his place.

Going up had been easy enough for three people so experienced in mountain walking, and coming back down Mike dared Cecilia to a tree climbing competition. Always game, she at once shed her rucksack and started to haul herself up the nearest suitable trunk, scraping hands and knees and tearing clothes, though none of the mattered to an eight year old. In fact, she had to be stopped by Charles when she reached a certain height, and it was then that she discovered that she couldn't get down again.

We got you down that time, Mike had written, and we will again, you'll see. You just have to give us time, and trust us. I remember how much you howled while Charles was climbing up to you, you kept saying that you were going to fall and die. But none of us were going to let that happen, and we never will. Love, Mike.

Author:  JB [ Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

Thanks Ariel. Mike is very thoughtful here.

Good luck with the snow.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

Brilliant letter from Mike - just what Cecilia needed at the moment, I should think...

Thanks Ariel :D

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

Good luck with the snow!

Author:  shazwales [ Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

Thanks Ariel,we've actually got busses running normally over the side of the village where i live.Good luck.

Author:  cal562301 [ Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

Lovely, thoughtful letter from Mike.

Thanks Ariel.

Hope you survive the snow when you go out.

Author:  Abi [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

What a lovely letter from Mike. How fortunate Cecil is that her family are so loving and caring. Can't imagine what might have happened if they hadn't been.

Thanks Ariel.

Author:  Chatelaine [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

I've been reading this drabble avidly, and the extract from Mike's letter left me with tears in my eyes.

Then, last night, I got a real-life view of what it must have been like for Cecilia in Matt's control. BBC3 showed a programme about the darker side of stag weekends, and how women in some "stag destinations" can often have been trafficked and forced into prostitution. The presenter interviewed a self-confessed trafficker, and the man's callous attitude to the women he bought and sold was chilling; he really did just see them as property, commodities, rather than human beings. I sat in front of the tv thinking "This is the modern equivalent of what happened to Cecil".

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II - Updated 14 Jan

Thanks for letting me know, Chatelaine! I shall have to try and find the program on i-Player. *rather hastily makes self scarce*

- X -

The house seemed strangely large without all of their things in it. Each room was a hollow box, waiting to be inhabited and changed again. Every mark on the wall and groove in the wood held a memory for Cecilia, for whom this had been the only home she'd ever known. She'd met so many people, done so many things, laughed and cried and in the end run here for safety. But despite that, she was happy to think that she was leaving it. Matt tainted every memory she had and seemed to hang in the air above her.

After a long conversation on the phone to Jem, Jack had agreed on an offer for the house. As they had yet to sell Freudesheim Jem had agreed to put some spare capital that he had to make up the offer, reassuring Jack that he could pay them back when he had the money. The grateful buyers accepted quickly – it was, they said, their parents house, and after their mother died recently they were keen to get rid of it. The move to England had been scheduled, furniture sent away several days in advance and loose odds and ends only were coming with them. The car had been bought by Reg, and the minibus was crammed with suitcases and delicate china which Joey hadn't wanted to trust to travel without her.

Perhaps the most difficult part of leaving had been saying goodbye. Since coming back, Cecilia had realised just how close she was to Len and how much she would miss her once she couldn't see her – but Reg had been told that he could have a senior position at the English San in two or three years, once David could come to Switzerland, so the separation was only temporary. Her farewell to Reg, too, had been emotional, for he had been there for her during her troubles. Whenever he came to visit he would always come up and sit beside her on the bed for ten minutes, demanding no conversation just letting her have some company. The worst, though, had been George, who had made her cry when he presented her with a card wishing her happiness in her new house.

Now Jack and Joey were moving the last few bits into the van, while Anna fussed about food supplies. Left to her own devices, Cecilia had gone over the house and said a fond if thankful goodbye. She hadn't had the chance the night before, for, recognising that whatever their recent differences of opinion Joey had always been the best friend that the school had, as many of the mistresses as could be spared had brought over Claire and Phil to see them off in style. Joey and Nancy had reminisced about the old days, right back to when the Saints had first come to the shores of the Tirol, and then they all talked about where the school would go now.

Restless, Cecilia sauntered outdoors and managed to slip past her parents, who were having a furious argument about whether or not Joey could possible need a towering pile of eight books to read on the drive through Europe. Not knowing where she was going, she decided to wander aimlessly along the Platz one last time. Bracing herself, for the air was balmy and warm but the wind had a bite to it, and she was only in a cardigan which she wrapped more firmly around herself, she set off in the direction away from the school.

When she had barely gone out of sight from the house, she was forced to stop and sit down at the edge of the road, to admire the sight before her. Sunlight glanced off of the snow on the distant mountains, dazzling in a blaze of reflected light, so that they appeared to be a line of exploding stars before her. A glacial breeze tinged the air, and the dark pines which peeped out from among the blinding light provided a plethora of greens and browns against the greys of the mountain rock. Below her the valley bustled on about its daily business, a tiny hamlet scattered carelessly from so high up, lives spent like scurrying ants.

Amid all the beauty, she tried to capture her feelings about the Platz. It had been home to all her hopes and fears and dreams, had nurtured and fostered her through infancy then provided excitement and education as she grew up. It had given her places to hide so that she could meet Matt privately, and welcomed her back when she ran home. The echo of laughter through the years, with Mike, and Charles, and Felix and Felicity, and Phil and Geoff and Claire, the thrill of childish adventures and the dignity with which she first courted love, it all came back to her as she sat and watched.

Yet it would never be safe for her here, and she cried as she realised that this place could never be as it once was. Its innocence had been taken from her, more damning, even, than the loss of her own, and everything about the place was tainted now. No more would she run through the pines trying desperately to avoid being caught and losing the game, no more would she glide so gracefully down the ski run in winter, feeling the rush of wind and the freedom of being able to fly. No more could she remember the exact course of the river, or where the prettiest flowers grew. It had changed and grown without her, and she could never recapture that.

Silently, her tears stilled on her cheeks, she looked out across the mountain ranges, memorising what she saw. Heart lightened by the promise of new adventures, she still solemnly appreciated the beauty before her, captured her last moment among the mountains. One day she would bore her nieces and nephews with tales of the mountainous regions, try to show them in words what was before her now. But she had to remember it, for she knew that she would never be coming back.

The End?

Author:  Alison H [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Oh ... wasn't expecting that! If that's the end, thank you for an interesting story.

Author:  cara [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

absolutely perfect.

Author:  abbeybufo [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Much as I don't want it to end, I think that is a good ending.

Maybe we could have a glimpse, some time, of her and the family in happier times in England, a few years down the line - and Charlie could come into that, and, and ... please :halo:

Author:  JB [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

I wasn't expecting that, yet it seems right. Thanks, Ariel.

* Joins Ruth in a chant for an epilogue. *

Author:  lizco [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thank you, thank you very much. I have been totally wrapped up in this - incredibly moving and beautifully written.

Author:  lexyjune [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thank you so much, I too would love an epilogue.

Author:  cal562301 [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't see it as the end, because there are so many unresolved issues and questions. However, if you feel it's the end, Ariel, that's fine.

An epilogue would be better than nothing more, though I would love to see how Cecil works things through in more detail. Perhaps that's too much to ask, but again you did put a question mark after 'The End'.

Thank you for an incredibly powerful story which must have been very hard to write at times.

Author:  hac61 [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Please can we at some point see her happy?

You don't know how much this has helped me right now. Thank you.

Author:  gwynne [ Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

This has been brilliant! thank you so much for writing it...but oh! I would love to see some more - some kind of epilogue with those nieces and nephews.....

Author:  Kacca [ Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Oh thank you Ariel. It was all wonderful (and emotionally intense).

It makes a good ending to this part of Cecil's story.

But oh yes I would love to see some of her future. More about Cecil in a few years time or to see her as a part of Charlie's story (no pressure :lol: ).

Author:  jmc [ Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks Ariel for an extremely thought provoking story. I think you finished it at just the right place but would like to join in with everyone else in saying that I would like to see how Cecil copes when she is in England.

Author:  Chris [ Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

that was a great story - your writing is so powerful. Hopefully Cecilia will move onwards and upwards after moving to England. Also hopefully, we will hear more news of her progress in the future!

Author:  JoW [ Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

This has been a moving enthralling story. I too would like an epilogue - just to see her happy at some stage in the future.

Author:  cestina [ Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Loved every bit of this Ariel. The letter from Mike almost made me cry (I don't weep easily....)

An epilogue would be lovely. In fact a drabble about how Joey,Jack and the family resettle in England would be great....*looks around for bunny food* (but won't scatter yet as you may need time to recover from the Grand Oeuvre :D

Author:  Abi [ Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finding Redemption - Part II

Thanks Ariel, that was a beautiful ending. Sad and yet with a feeling of hope. Thank you so much for all of this.

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