melanie dupuis; melanie/simone. vacationisover/original. for petitesmorts's birthday, this is late because i fail. title from an appeal to st. peter by pale young gentlemen. might not make perfect sense to people not familiar with the story, but feel free to ask questions!
"i set fire to things,
i set fire to things,
i'll set fire to you,
i'll set fire to me."
we will meet. pale young gentlemen.
The last time Melanie wore a dress, she was eight, it was one of her mother's (they still keep some of her things in the attic, her father never goes up there and it is layered with dust-- but she wouldn't know, she never goes either) and it was this soft grey lace and too long, Sophie and her father were away for the weekend and her mother was supposed to be coming down, she was running late, she always is.
Simone moved in next door that week. Melanie sat out on the deck with a large glass of water in her fist and the movers took the things into the house (Simone had a doll house, she hated it).
The girl was tall, taller than Melanie and Simone had blonde hair but it was short.
"Nice dress," she said and Mel opened her mouth, she was going to ask something-- she can't remember what, but it was going to be clever and important and then her mother swoops down, there is a brush of soft hands and perfume and Melanie shuts her eyes.
When she opens them, the girl and the doll house are gone.
Melanie grows up tough, she grows up tough and smart, a special kind of smart, not her mother's or her father's; she cuts sharper than either of them.
(Her teachers don't know what to do with her which Jean finds amusing, Sophie finds worrying and who the fuck knows what her mother thinks, her mother rolls her eyes and grins.)
In the mirror, when she is younger, all dark hair and big eyes, skinny elbows, Sophie buys her clothes which Melanie does not wear, she looks like her mother, this is what Amelie tells her (but Amelie would and she is not sure if she believes it), there is a picture on her dresser, she guesses she does look a bit like her mother.
She is not cold though. She is nothing like Severine.
They are sitting in Jean Paul's study. There is some kind of a party.
"Your father's quite good looking, you know."
Simone twirls an empty bottle on the table. Her eyes are lined with blue. She flicks her lashes up and down with a tiny smirk.
"Shut up," Melanie splutters.
Her pale eyebrows raise very slowly and for a minute there she is unreachable, she is as mysterious as the sphinx, as still and Melanie hates it when she can't read people, she's sick of mystery, why can't people be straight with her why isn't everything as it seems--
Simone cuts the silence with a quick laugh. "Your mother is prettier, though."
"When did you ever see my mother?"
"Oh, I saw the two of you at the train station last month," she goes airily, "She's gorgeous, really," Simone looks up, her hand reaches up to her neck, the long white line of her arm sticking to the white linen of her dress and she bites into her pink lip; "You look like her, you know."
Melanie smirks. She's wearing red. She had a phase of all black but Amelie told her that's what Severine had done when she was her age so she stopped.
"So, you think I'm gorgeous then?"
Simone straightens the bottle and sits up.
"Don't let it get to your head, Dupuis."
Sometimes, she thinks there are too many things in life that don't make sense, too many things that are difficult, she is not difficult, she doesn't want to be and she is not a rebel. There is trouble, though, some of it-- it looks for her really, and she gets kicked out of a couple of places (once for having sex in a broom closet and once, she and Sebastian smoked up in the parking lot; he had perfect grades, he did not get kicked out.)
Simone gets a little lost in some of this.
She didn't mean to leave her behind.
Sebastian's the kind of dick who gets everything right and doesn't really give a damn.
They bite and fuck for a year and when it ends, there are no hard feelings and they'd shake hands if they trusted each other enough.
"You're going to fine," he tells her. It is supposed to be reassuring, he flicks up his lighter with a smirk and the flame burns briefly in his face and then it goes out and she can't remember what it looked like when it was there.
It is a little unfair, that they break everything in their wake and she is the one left with the pieces, always. Sebastian has this ability to shake things off like nothing touches him, this kind of detachment that reminds her of someone-- she's not sure who and doesn't care, she doesn't like it, god, Sebastian, you absolute--
(She doesn't think she really cares either. Maybe she loved him in a way.)
Sophie would call it some kind of romantic. She's always liked Seb, with his moody eyes and crooked grin.
Melanie tries to live without regrets.
The year before university, she gets back to school-- the first one. Jean made some kind of donation.
She is trying to get her act together.
"Got time for some tutoring?"
Simone's sigh is heavy across the phone. "I really shouldn't have time for you."
"But you do."
Her acceptance letter to Cambridge is a kind of fuck you. You're not supposed to do things like this to say fuck you.
Melanie does anyway. She gets into university with the sweat of spite and hard work and Jean looks happier than he's ever looked before, like he is proud of her, he has never been the disappointed parent but he is so happy and it's all fucking worth it.
They celebrate in the house, her and Simone, they are downstairs, she didn't think her parents would be home, and she kisses her. There is the taste of champagne and success and something stuck to her hair and they are going up the stairs when the door clicks and shit, they're home and Simone chokes mid laugh and she is gasping and--
Severine is happy to see her. Severine is always happy to see her which makes Melanie think it must be some kind of facade.
"So, how are you?"
Melanie looks out of the window. They are driving up to the apartment. She's hardly been here since they moved. She tries to make her mother come to France most of the time. (When she was younger, she always insisted on Paris, she used to think she could fix her parents back then.)
"I've been sent her to be disciplined, how do you think I am?"
Severine tuts. "You're not here to be disciplined. Your father just wants to give Sophie some... time. To adjust."
Her mother's always been prickly about Sophie, that cold studied politeness, Melanie's always wondered how much that has to do with her father and how much that has to do with her.
"Adjust to what?"
"Anyway, Simone's coming up next week."
"So, if you have a problem, I won't have her over at yours or anything--"
"Don't be ridiculous."
Melanie twitches the ends of her mouth. "Fine, then."
"Congratulations on Cambridge."
"I sent a note." It's not an accusation. She doesn't sound hurt or anything, just-- says it.
"Yeah, I saw, I'm sorry, I--"
"No, it's fine. Just checking to see that Jean hasn't been intercepting my mail."
"Oh, he did. I check his drawers regularly."
"Very sweet of you."
"Well, you might decide to send me money one day, I can't miss out on that, can I?"
Severine laughs. "No, I guess not."
London is all right, it is a bit bitter, she supposes, it is always there (her mother has that queer half hurt thing on her face in between takes of coldness and she is always trying too hard-- she doesn't get to be hurt, she left, she is the one who left, she has no right, not really) and she's never going to like Zuckerman, but their friends are okay, crazy but vaguely entertaining. The city is cold. She likes that.
Simone arrives a week later and they sneak out of the house late at night even though Severine (Sev) has no curfew and she thinks that there is something odd about the streets when they are empty, something incomplete.
"I wish you were coming with me."
"It's not funny, you could go to Cambridge if you wanted."
There is a soft smile then. "Thanks."
She shrugs. She is packing her things. The summer drew to an end and Sophie appears to have recovered from her fit of homophobia, Jean is being overly cheery and pretending he isn't secretly looking for ways to stop her from going.
"Just the truth."
Simone throws a blouse in her face and then stands up. Her hands are on her hips. She looks very determined and tiny.
"Well, maybe I'll follow you there, Dupuis."
She leans forward and kisses her, it is quick and soft and Simone is smiling when she draws back.
"I hope you do."
Cambridge is a new start.
It was always going to be a new start and she writes Sebastian a letter, she might even go and see her mother, Simone is coming up for Christmas.
Sometimes, she wonders if she really needs a new start. Melanie is not her parents.
She does not like to erase the past.