Winterfest logo
booksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooks

The Journey Continues

by Moose

 

 

Another year had come and gone, and it was again the season of celebration. Winterfest was a time of coming together for family and friends Above and Below. A time to reflect on the past and hope for the future. A time of gratitude for the people that made his world and all that it held possible. A time for Vincent to show one special woman just how much she meant to him.

 

Vincent had delivered the Winterfest candle to Catherine several days prior. With all of the preparations required for this celebration in addition to his regular duties, even Vincent’s strength had been taxed, and he had fallen exhausted into his bed each night. Before that it had been over a week since they had met at her balcony. Knowing how tired he was, Catherine had only allowed brief visits at the threshold between their worlds. It was not enough, it was never enough.

 

Since his breakdown and illness they had grown much closer. Vincent had finally accepted that there could be no other for either of them. Even the seemingly unbreakable barrier of physical intimacy had been broached. Time and again Catherine had been the only one that could bring him back from darkness. Whether that darkness had come from his protective rages, the drugs of Paracelsus or the horrible vortex of madness, Catherine had always pulled him back. He had finally accepted that there was nothing in him that did not love her or could harm her.

 

In hours the Winterfest celebration would begin, and with it, he hoped perhaps a new life as well. The hall was ready, food was prepared and helpers had begun to arrive. He had enough time to ensure that his personal preparations were in place before he went to meet Catherine at the threshold of her building.

 

With a feeling of joy, Vincent sensed Catherine’s presence coming towards him, and he hurried to meet her. She had descended the ladder and was standing in the shaft of light just in front of it, waiting for him. Vincent’s breath caught. She was a vision in dark green silk and velvet. The top of the dress was shimmering green velvet with long sleeves and a scooped neckline and was liberally splashed with small green beads that flashed and sparkled as she moved but could not outshine the simple crystal necklace at her throat. The necklace he had given her on the first anniversary of their meeting. The bottom had a full skirt of dark green silk that nearly but not quite brushed the floor. Catherine always dressed for these events in his world as if for the most exclusive elite of the world Above. He knew she did this not out of vanity or in an effort to impress his tunnel family. Catherine did this because of the personal importance she attached to these occasions. That she would take such care with her appearance for him and for his family both pleased and humbled him.

 

“Catherine, you are a vision that I can scarcely believe to be real. Come to me so that I may know that I am not dreaming” He held out his arms and she quickly glided into them to envelop him in a warm embrace. Vincent lowered his golden head to hers and met her lips with a soft and tender kiss of greeting.

 

“Love, you are a vision yourself. Let me look at you”

 

She held him at arms length to take in his tall tan boots, dark green dress pants and her favorite ruffled shirt. His new vest was made in the patchwork style of the tunnels in greens and golds. The green fabrics in that vest seemed to be made of the same material as Catherine’s dress. The clothing had mysteriously appeared in his chamber several days ago, but no one had been forthcoming regarding its origins.

 

Vincent cocked his head at her in amusement “My new Winterfest clothing appeared in my chamber several days ago. You would not know anything about that, would you? It would seem my new vest compliments your dress very well”

 

Catherine blushed prettily and agreed that the coincidence was remarkable without admitting any complicity in how it actually got to his chamber.

 

 Vincent offered her his arm. “I see that you are carrying a package. If we leave now, we can make it to my chamber so that you can drop it off there before we are expected at the great hall.”

 

When they reached his chamber, Catherine handed him the package and told him it was his Winterfest gift.

 

“Catherine, I need no gifts from you. Your presence in my life as all that I truly need or could ever wish for, you know that don’t you?”

 

She answered his smile with one of her own. “I know you don’t expect anything, but you deserve everything, and I am here to see that you get at least part of it. Please, open it. This is a gift from someone else as well, and I know she would want to know if you liked it”

 

He quickly unwrapped the package, carefully reserving the paper for reuse. The look of stunned joy on his face was all that Catherine could have hoped for. It was a hand rendered calligraphy copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #116 in a simple but beautiful frame. That however was not what put the look of joy on his face. Below the poem was a charcoal portrait of the two of them done in various shades of grey. It had taken some persuasion on Catherine’s part, but because of her great fondness for the subject matter Elizabeth had finally relented and agreed to complete the portrait.

 

Vincent had to force the words through his tight throat. “Thank you for this gift, Catherine. It is beautiful, and I will always treasure it. I have a gift for you as well that I hope you will do me the honor of accepting later this evening. Can you bear to wait?”

 

“If that is what you want, Vincent, of course I can. We should go to the great hall now, don’t you think? It wouldn’t do to keep everyone waiting. After all, no one can get in until you open the doors,” she answered cheekily.

 

“I bow to your wisdom as always, Catherine. Shall we go?” He once more offered his arm and she gracefully accepted it.

 

As always the opening ceremony for Winterfest affected her quite strongly, and she tightly clasped Vincent’s hand under the table. She felt so fortunate to be able to count these people as friends and family and hoped that they realized how much they all meant to her. This year the celebration was unmarred by any violence or unpleasantness, and they even got to dance several times. It was late by the time the closing ceremony was concluded, and Catherine and Vincent were ready to go back to his chamber.

 

“Catherine, I must speak briefly with Rolley. Can you wait for me for a moment? This should not take long”

 

Vincent was speaking very quietly to Rolley when Daniel, Mouse and Geoffrey also joined them. Vincent kept glancing toward Catherine, and she was about to walk over to join them when Vincent clapped his hand to Rolley’s shoulder and went to meet her.

 

“It is late, Catherine; I can have a guest chamber prepared if you would like to stay with us instead of returning to your apartment”

 

“I would love that, Vincent. Thank you for being so thoughtful”

 

When they reached his chamber, Vincent excused himself for a few minutes to see to the arrangements for the guest chamber. Upon his return they sat on his bed and talked quietly about the Winterfest celebration that they had just attended and simply enjoyed each other’s uninterrupted company. That had not occurred with any great frequency lately, and it was very relaxing not to have to worry about other commitments for a few minutes.

 

They had been visiting for perhaps half an hour when Geoffrey excitedly appeared at the chamber entrance. “Vincent, Rolley says he needs to see you right away”

 

Vincent showed no surprise at Geoffrey’s abrupt appearance and actually seemed to be expecting it. He got up and thanked Geoffrey and then put his hand out to assist Catherine to her feet.

 

“If Rolley needs to see you, I can go to the guest chamber. I am sure that it should be ready by now”

 

“Will you please come with me, Catherine? This concerns you as well”

 

“Of course I can, Vincent. What is it all about?”

 

Vincent merely gave her one of his small smiles and tugged her forward “Soon all of your questions, and mine as well, will be answered, Catherine”

 

She gave him a quizzical look, and when he would say no more, she shook her head in puzzlement and motioned him forward.

 

They headed back towards the great hall, and Catherine sent Vincent a puzzled look. “What are we doing back here? Everyone left a long time ago”

 

“Not everyone” Vincent answered “Would you allow me to lead you through the dark once more, my Catherine?”

 

“Lead and I will follow. I would go anywhere with you, Vincent”

 

He looked at her with tears in his eyes and bent to give her a gentle kiss before turning back to the doors and opening them to a transformed hall. Candlelight and roses were everywhere. Rolley was sitting at the piano with Daniel directly in front of it. They seemed to be waiting for something.

 

At a nod from Vincent, Rolley began to play and Daniel started to sing in a rich clear voice. Vincent led her to the center of the room and began a slow dance to the beautiful music.

 

 

I am amazed

When I look at you

I see you smiling back at me

It’s like all my dreams come true

 

I am afraid

If I lost you girl

I’d fall through the cracks

And lose my track in this crazy lonely world

 

Sometimes it’s so hard to believe

When the nights can be so long

And faith gave me the strength

And kept me holding on

 

You are the love of my life

And I am so glad you found me

You are the love of my life

Baby put your arms around me

I guess this is how it feels

When you finally find something real

My angel in the night

You are my love

The love of my life

 

Now here you are

With midnight closing in

You take my hand as our shadows dance

With moonlight on your skin

 

I look in your eyes

I’m lost inside your kiss

I think if I’d never met you

About all the things I’d missed

 

Sometimes it’s so hard to believe

When a love can be so strong

And faith gave me the strength

And kept me holding on

 

You are the love of my life

And I’m so glad you found me

You are the love of my life

Baby put your arms around me

I guess this it how it feels

When you finally find something real

My angel in the night

You are my love

The love of my life

 

They had not spoken but allowed the music and the words to wash around and through them. Catherine knew how much trouble Vincent had gone through to arrange this and was fighting back tears when he drew her to a stop as the music ended and stepped back slightly. He pulled a small box out of his pocket and went down on one knee. Rolley and Daniel took this opportunity to quietly exit the hall to give them the privacy they so obviously needed.

 

Looking up at her, Vincent spoke the words straight from his heart to hers. “Catherine, you are more than life to me, and I can no longer bear to be without you. I want your face to be the first thing I see when I wake and the last thing I see before I sleep. I want to share the rest of my life with you and provide you all that is within my ability to give. I can ask no more of that life than to grow old with you and die in your arms. The gift I spoke of earlier was the gift of myself, and all that I am or ever hope to become. Will you accept it? Will you do me the honor of consenting to be my wife?”

 

Vincent pulled his other hand from hers and opened the box to show her a ring set containing a diamond surrounded by two half circles of sapphires from the pale blue of a summer sky to the dark blue of the deepest ocean. “These rings belonged to Father and Margaret. Father gave them to me shortly after Margaret passed away. It was their wish that I give them to you when I felt the time was right. It represents a love that endured despite great hardship, as ours has endured. Will you do me the honor of wearing them as a symbol of our love?”

 

Vincent remained kneeling and holding the box toward her, awaiting her decision. Catherine had both hands held up hiding her face and her emotions were in such turmoil that he could not read them. Long moments passed while neither of them moved.

 

Catherine finally removed her hands from her streaming eyes. “Vincent, I can think of no greater joy than to consent to be your wife, and no greater honor than to wear these rings as a symbol of our love. I can think of no higher purpose than to join my life with yours and live all of the days of it in your keeping. Yes, I will marry you”

 

With a slight tug, Catherine pulled Vincent to his feet. They stood supporting each other for some time before turning as one and continuing their journey towards love and a new life together.

 

~

 

Lyrics: Love of my life

        Jim Brickman

 

The last few minutes of this story can be seen at the end of the episode “Dead of Winter”

 

booksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooksbooks