Return to Great Hall

golden pen and ink back button


"I Am Not Yours" is a fanfic, inspired by characters belonging to Ron Koslow and by the poem "I Am Not Yours" by the late Sara Teasdale.  Nothing here is my own possession, merely a toy for the amusement of those attending Winterfest 2011. 

I Am Not Yours

Laura Selinsky



Catherine flipped the butane cartridge from the curling iron.

"Just enough heat for one last curl," she said, wrapped a lock of Jamie's chestnut hair around the barrel.

"Mouse would love that gadget. How'd you get one that doesn't have to be plugged in?"

"My dad got it for me to take on my graduation trip to Europe," she chuckled, "or I guess his secretary got it.  Not the kind of thing he would have thought of."

“Well, you better keep it hidden if you don't want Mouse taking it apart to improve it," Jamie answered, craning her neck to peek at the ringlets tumbling over her shoulders.

"Yea, improve it into a blowtorch," added Samantha, tossing her own curls.  Laughter pealed through the crowded chamber.

"Well, all five of my Bennett sisters have their curls done, so I'll just hide this."

"Come on, Sam, we've only got an hour.  I promised to watch Luke while Olivia dresses," said Ellie, as she grabbed her friend's hand.  They scurried away.

Enamored of Jane Austin, the younger girls had professed a dream to attend Winterfest as the Bennett sisters.  Catherine overheard their chatter and encouraged them to recruit three more sisters.  When Jamie and two newcomers to the Tunnels agreed to play along, Catherine set to work.  Mary supplied measurements for Catherine's tailor.  Soon he completed a Winterfest surprise: five simple white empire dresses and five perfectly fitted velvet jackets.  Wide eyes and delighted grins rewarded Catherine's efforts. 

If only all dreams could so easily some true, Catherine thought, her spirits sinking.  She turned her attention to the newcomers Erin and Allie, who were whispering together.

"And in Jane Austen's time, girls over twenty-three were poor old maids. They weren't allowed to wear white anymore," said Allie, as Erin twirled slowly, holding out her gleaming silk skirt. "I'm not gonna be an old maid.  When someone comes along who loves me, I am going to settle down with them right away…right here in the Tunnels.  No playing hard to get like Lizzie Bennett.  No working in some stupid job Above."

"Perfect, that would be my dream life," sighed Erin, wobbling a little from dizziness. 

Allie steadied her friend, giggling at her moonstruck expression.  Neither heard Catherine's soft gasp.

My dream life.

Tears welled in Catherine's eyes, and she turned to leave.  A hand closed on her shoulder and gave a rough squeeze.  Jamie leaned close to her friend's ear.

"They don't mean anything.  They just…don't know yet.  That you don't always get the life you want."

Catherine nodded, not trusting her voice.

"I'll herd them toward the Great Hall.  Take a few minutes, before you come down.…"  Jamie's voice rose, "Enough primping.  If you don't want to miss your first Winterfest, better get moving."

The moment the girls had disappeared, Catherine sank onto the bed.  She pressed her face to the coolness of the mended linen and thought of the poem that haunted her: 

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

Nearly a month before, Catherine had first read those lines, as she waited by firelight for Vincent's visit.  Her grandmother's hand-copied book of poems was a little battered; she'd unearthed it in as she cleared out her father's house.  The page was dog-eared; the tiny yellowed flap fell away when Catherine turned gently to the page. 

Grandmother must have loved this one. 

She slowly scanned three short verses.

This is my life, my dream for a life with Vincent.

Stunned she reread first verse and felt her own love and longing pour out through the words:

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

Catherine's hands trembled, and she steadied the book with effort.  She whispered the second verse aloud: 

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

The hesitant tap on her French door drew her to her feet. Without a thought, she dropped the book.  Eagerly, she flung open the door, startling Vincent, who froze his right hand still upraised to knock again.   Her own hand stretched out to take his left, but he slipped it into the pocket of his cloak.  Their eyes met, and she stilled, too deep in his blue gaze to speak.  After a long moment, a flush rose in Vincent's face, and he tried to break their mutual trance.  Silently, he pulled a Winterfest candle from his pocket and placed it in her still outstretched hand.  Without a glance, she set it on the occasional table.

"Winterfest, please, come…" 

"Come in.  The firelight…" 

They spoke together, word tumbling over word, through the charged air.  Her tender expression was utterly unguarded.  He felt her desire reach through the bond to tug away his armor.  Ashamed at how much he wanted to reach for her, he looked down.

"You've dropped your book, my dear.  That isn't like you," he murmured.

Bending, Vincent reached past her for the discarded volume.  She stepped back automatically to make room for him when he filled the doorway as he did her thoughts.  He pulled back onto the balcony, holding the fragile book.  It opened naturally to the page Catherine had been reading.

"Sara Teasdale- come in and read her poem.  I found her in my grandmother's copy book.  She must have written it down when she was a girl."

Accustomed to the tunnel's dimness, Vincent read by starlight.

"Perhaps she copied this, but it is not a na´ve girl's poem.  What I felt just now, these lines filtered through your heart…"

"You must know, Vincent, that the feelings are my own, not the poet's.  Please, come inside.  Come with me, please." 

With a sweet smile, she stepped onto the balcony, lifted the book from his fingers, and clasped it to her heart.  She wrapped her slender hand around his broad one, drawing him toward her until only the open book was between them.  Vincent's mouth turned dry.  The lines of the third verse scorched the air, as Catherine recited them:

Oh plunge me deep in love put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

"My dream, Vincent, in these three verses."

"Our dream, dear one," he replied, gently disengaging his fingers. "But never more than a dream.  The risk is too great."

Vincent slipped the book from her hand, closed it and returned it.  He fled before her tears really began. 

The pipes woke Catherine from her reverie - 45 minutes until Winterfest.  Shaking off remembered sorrow, Catherine rose and turned to the makeshift dressing table.  Her candle, curling iron, makeup, jewelry - all muddled by the girls' enthusiastic and inexpert toilette.  Shrugging out of jeans and layered sweaters, she reached for her midnight blue gown.

Too old to wear white…poor old maid.

Her tears began to fall again.

To Vincent, her private tears registered as clearly as if she stood in his chamber beside him.  He remembered the days and nights since he had delivered her candle as a continual nightmare.  The constant busyness of preparing for Winterfest had allowed him to mute her recent depression…but only to mute it.  Whenever he was alone with his thoughts - bathing, journaling, struggling to sleep - her sorrow cut him to the heart.  Since delivering the candle, he avoided being alone with her, limiting his visits to her balcony to quick meetings.  Leisurely strolls to the falls gave place to supervising the little ones as they decorated cookies.  That was certainly no time to discuss the poem that haunted them both.

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
     

In deep tunnels, Vincent roared out his confusion, "I'm darkness.  How can she feel that way about me?  Creature that I am? "

In his worst moments, he cursed the lines that made her devotion clear to him.  Torment filled him at the image of her light being lost in his. 

"I will always be a creature of darkness.  Her passion should be spent in light and air, not darkness and isolation."

Vincent tried to repress the sorrow that hissed through their bond.  He would be the charming host at the festivities and then… after so much misery, what then, but to give her up?  He tightened the laces on his boots and smoothed his hair into a tidy tail.  The pipes chimed the hour- Winterfest would begin in thirty minutes.  Throughout the Tunnels, people started making their way to the spiral stair. 

Catherine heard Vincent's step outside the guest chamber's door- such a light step for so great a man.  She blinked a sudden rush of tears away.  Smoothing the satin folds of her gown, she picked up her candle and fashioned a smile to mask her grief.

"Come in, Vincent; I'm ready."

"Dear heart, are you well enough to join the celebration?  I felt your…discomfort…and thought you might be ill." Ill? I know she's not ill.  Have I sunk to lying to avoid facing her desires? 

"How can I miss Winterfest?  My Miss Bennetts would never forgive me if I missed their coming out, "she said lightly, then, "Besides the procession gives me an excuse to take your arm.  We haven't touched much lately."

She looked away, as if to search for something forgotten.

 To protect me from her pain.  To protect me even now.

He crossed the room in a single step and dropped to his knees a few feet from her.

"Catherine, look at me.  I am not a man and perhaps a monster."

Her look was stricken and she started to speak, but he rushed on.

“You love me, creature that I am.  I have denied that.  I have tried so hard to protect you from my darkness, that I broke your heart.  Can you forgive me?"

Catherine looked up, vulnerability and hope on her unguarded face. Her voice was pleading as she clasped his hand.

"Doesn't Winterfest celebrate the light in our lives?  You are as much a creature of light as I am. Please, accept yourself.  Accept us, Vincent."

He rose, but wavered there, a few steps beyond her reach.  Seeing that he didn't flee, she took a step closer, whispering,

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

Catherine's candle slipped from her hand, as she reached for him.  Standing on tiptoe, she pulled off the navy ribbon that had confined his mane and trailed her fingers through the golden curls.

"Your hair is spring sunlight." 

His dazzled eyes drifted closed, but still his vision was full of light. 

"I love you," he whispered.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

She pressed her lips to his throat. 

"Warm as sunlight," she breathed the words against his skin, "You are my private sun." A tremor ran through the arms that encircled her.  "Open your eyes, dear."

When he opened his eyes, Catherine was haloed in golden light.  The light swelled and enveloped them both.

"How is this possible?" he breathed.

"With love all things are possible," she replied, just before her lips touched his.  Strong arms lifted her, deepened the kiss.  Light brightened until there was nothing else but light. 

Oh plunge me deep in love put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

Time passed. 

A little late, but still glowing, they ran, hand in hand, against the wind.   Vincent unbarred the door and welcomed the light to his world for another year.

~