by Joan W.
Authors Note: This story is written strictly for the enjoyment of all Beauty and the Beast fans everywhere. No copy write infringement is intended. I dedicate this story to Vicky who has the voice of an angel- also to Carole who is an amazing writer, thank you both for your kind words they mean so much to me.
When twelve year old Vincent awoke that morning he found the space beside him in the bed empty. He thought that perhaps Devin had arisen early to get breakfast, so he dressed quickly and went in search of his older brother. He didnít find him there as he expected, although doing the unexpected was not unlike Devin.
After breakfast Vincent went to class as usual. Devin was not there either. At lunchtime, everyone became concerned as to Devinís whereabouts especially Father "Vincent have you seen Devin today?" he asked.
"No, he was gone when I woke up this morning" Vincent replied.
"This is most peculiarÖ I wonder where that boy has gotten off to now." Father said exasperated.
At dinner there was still no sign of Devin, or at bedtime. Vincent paced their chamber, troubled. It was not like Devin to be gone for so long and not tell anyone. Father came in to check on Vincent, and informed him that he had called an emergency Council meeting, and they had formed a search party to look for his older son. Devin had been missing for nearly twenty four hours now.
"Vincent, I donít know what has happened to him, but I am sure we will find him. We are contacting all our Helpers above, and we are searching for him in the tunnels. Did he say anything to you, anything at all last night when you went to bed?"
"No, he was quiet." Vincent said. He recalled to himself the events of the past few weeks. It was unusual for Devin not to talk late into the night. But he had been rather sullen lately, and even somewhat distant, since their battle over the knife.
The disagreement began when Devin accused him of tattling to Father about the clasp knife he bought. During the fight Devin punched him squarely in the nose. Without even thinking, he retaliated by clawing Devinís face, leaving three deep lacerations on his cheek. Later Devin found out that it was Mitch who told on him.
In atonement Devin tried to make amends by taking him to the park one evening with the other boys for a late night ride on the carousel. He wanted to give his brother the gift of a new experience, to ride on a carousel just like any other child.
Tears formed in Vincentís eyes at that thought.
"Well, goodnight. Donít worry, we will find him. Try to get some sleep" Father kissed Vincentís head, and left the room. But sleep was the farthest thing from young Vincentís mind. He lay awake; in the morning he planned to join the search party to look for Devin.
They searched the tunnels for days. The days turned into weeks, and still no sign of Devin. Vincent was frantic with worry. He joined in the search but to no avail. There was no word from the Helpers above either.
One day after class, Father and Mary came to see Vincent in his chamber. "Sit down, Mary and I would like to talk to you."
"Is it about Devin?" he asked.
"Yes," Father replied gently, and sat down on the bed beside him.
"Theyíve found him!" Vincent exclaimed rising off the bed.
"No, I am afraid not." Father answered. "WeÖ everyone has been looking very hard for himÖ"
Vincentís facial expression changed to one of utter disappointment, as he sat down again.
Father put his arm around the boyís shoulders. "We think he may have Ö met with an accident."
Mary walked over and sat on the bed next to Vincent looking at him tenderly "Do you know how sometimes he liked to play in the maze?"
"Well we think that he went there, and got lost. He must have been confusedÖand gotten all turned around." She said quietly.
"W-what are y- you saying?"
"What Mary is trying to say is that we think heÖwe think heís not coming back. We think Devin is Ögone." Fatherís voice cracked and he was crying now.
"Not, n-not coming back?" Vincent stammered his eyes wide.
Father shook his head.
As soon as the realization dawned, tears started to flow down his cheeks. "No, no, n-no, n-noÖ"Vincent wailed a mournful high pitched sound. "It canít be, no, oh no Father. Itís not true! H-how can you s- s-say that? NoÖnoÖ" he sobbed.
The shock was too great, all had suddenly gone black, as he fainted in Fathers arms.
"Hurry, come quickly Father Vincent is at it again" the two boys ran into Fathers chamber helter-skelter.
"Oh, Dear Lord," Father swiftly followed the boys Pascal and Winslow down the corridor to Vincentís chamber. As they approached, they heard the sounds of shattering glass, and the crashing of objects being thrown around. Loud growling accompanied the din.
As Father stepped cautiously through the doorway, a chair narrowly missed his head. "Vincent, what in heavens name do you think youíre doing?" he asked sternly.
The room was a disaster. Books lay on the floor tattered and shredded. The furniture was smashed and broken. Shards of glass were everywhere and standing in the middle of it all was Vincent. His shoulders were hunched over as if bearing a great burden, his chest heaving quickly.
He turned towards Father "Iím just moving things around!" he said, with a scathing glare aimed directly at the two boys.
"Thatís not what I would call it, and I wish you wouldnít use that tone with me." Father retorted.
Vincent began to pace amidst the clutter. His fists were tightly clenched at his sides. "Itís my room now! Devin is gone, remember?"
Father flinched, as if cut by his words. The comment left him speechless, as it was intended. It hurt but he knew it was only his sonís pain talking. He motioned for the boys who were still at the door to leave, and waited silently for the inevitable.
Vincent stopped pacing abruptly and hung his head. His shoulders began to shake, wracked by great silent sobs. So intense were they that he couldnít breathe, and no sound would escape. He stood like that for several moments and then he lifted his head "Why, Father! Why?" And he roared to the ceiling, finally releasing the crushing pain.
Father opened his arms, and Vincent went quickly into them. He held his young son tightly, and allowed him to shed his tears, crying with him.
It had been over a two months since Devin had vanished.
The guilt was beginning to wear on Vincent. He felt guilty for destroying Devinís things. He had cleaned up the mess in their chamber, but it just didnít seem to be sufficient. No, there was something else he needed to do.
He had apologized to Father and to everyone for his behavior. But he couldnít apologize to the one person he really needed to say he was sorry to Ė Devin. If only they hadnít fought, if he hadnít clawed him, hadnít hurt him, he might not have left. In his young mind, Vincent knew the answer to the question of "Why?" Devin had left because of him, and he would do anything to have him back again.
Vincent still couldnít believe that Devin was dead. He went to the Mirror Pool daily, and sometimes saw Devinís reflection there, but when he turned around it would be gone. Tonight he would go and talk to his brother at the Mirror Pool and tell him just how sorry he was. He would apologize for the fight, and for hurting him.
At the Mirror Pool he met Narcissa. He was surprised to see her; it was rare that she ventured this far up into the tunnels.
"Hello, young Veencint" she said in her Haitian accent. "Ah chil, I see dat you are mourniní a loss." She was blind, her eyes clouded over by thick cataracts and Vincent wondered how she could see that. The intuitive woman smiled at him, and as if she heard his thoughts, she answered "I see Veencint, I see".
"Hello Narcissa. Yes, weÖ" he looked down "lost Devin more than two months ago."
"I come to see da Father" she said. "But itís you I should be talkiní to Veencint. I tell you dat your brudder is not lost, but He ees far away and you can not go to him. Wait Veencint, he comes to you." She patted him on the head fondly and continued toward Fatherís chamber.
Vincentís heart leapt for joy, but just as quickly, his elation faded. He remembered that Father told him once not to heed Narcissaís fantastic tales or to take her prophetic visions seriously, calling them "wild tales".
Lying on the edge close to the water Vincent looked deeply into the pool. He could see the stars shining in it, and suddenly a shooting star fell with a bright flash. "Devin if you can hear me, Iím sorry for hurting you. Please come home. And God if you can hear me I promise to be a good boy. I will be kind to others. I will do anything, whatever you ask. Please God, bring Devin back to us." His bottom lip trembled as he whispered the word "Amen".
Teardrops fell into the pool, making wide circles on the water.
Five months had passed. Father had decided that it was time to lay his son to rest, as the search had been called off weeks ago. The grieving community needed closure, and so did he. There wasnít a day that went by that he wasnít overwhelmed with sorrow, grief, or remorse. He was sorry for the way he had spoken to Devin that night, reprimanding him for taking Vincent above for a ride on the merry-go-round. But now it was too late. He would never be able to tell his son how sorry he was, or to ask for his forgiveness, and it tore at his heart.
He still had Vincent, and he did everything in his power to protect, love, and comfort him, but nothing he did seemed to soothe him. Vincent, a once happy child, had grown morose, quiet and brooding. He rarely smiled anymore, ate very little, and spent much of the time in his chamber alone, lost without his brother.
The memorial service was held in the Great Hall and the whole tunnel community attended. The ceremony was beautiful; each person lit a candle and recalled what Devin had meant to him or her. When it was Vincentís turn to speak, he said "I love Devin; he is my brother. He will always live on in my heart. I hope someday he will come home." Sniffles and sobs were heard among the crowd of mourners and several of them sadly shook their heads.
Afterward, Vincent went to the Whispering Gallery. As he sat on the bridge, he thought he heard Devin calling to him. He missed him so much. The tears that he had been holding back all day finally came. He wept for Devin, and for all the dreams they had shared together. The ones they would never live out, like building a raft together; Huck and Jim on the Mississippi, and it broke his heart. No one would ever again include him in their dreams.
After Devin disappeared he would lie in bed at night with the flashlight under the covers and pretend that Devin was next to him. He would read the stories they had shared, and recite the adventures they made up about King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Huck Finn. Devin had left him a legacy of dreams.
Many years passed, and Vincent had grown into adulthood. Nearly everyday he thought of his brother, wondering if Devin was alive somewhere, and if he had ever found those palaces shining golden in the sun that they once imagined as children.
Vincent had long since weathered all the stages of grief, all save oneÖ acceptance. Deep in his heart, he never really could believe that his brother had left this world for the next. Ever the dreamer, he continued to hope.
One Fall eveningÖ
Vincent stood behind the tunnel door his heartbeat thundering loudly. Catherine told him that she had followed the man she worked with to this very entrance last night. Only he and one other person above would know of the two names etched into the stone near the gate so long ago. Was it possible? Could it be?
I remember that day we carved our names into the rock. Devin had just bought the knife he always wanted. "Címon, letís see what we can do with it!" he said, and we ran all the way to the entrance. "Hey Dev, what are we going to do?" I asked him. "Little brother, we are going to put our names here, for all eternity. Weíll make a pact-- brothers forever."
He heard the intruder cut the lock, the chain moving as it slid across the bars, the metal gate creak, and then all was silent.
Calm yourself, he thought.
Holding his breath; he opened the secret tunnel door. He couldnít believe his eyes, it really was Devin! And ardently embracing him; he whispered a silent prayer of thanks. His brother had come home at last!