gilbert-centric (onesided gilbert/elizaveta and roderich/elizaveta)
gilbert has never been one for small talk. especially not with roderich, and especially not about a girl.
“She looks beautiful tonight.”
Gilbert isn’t facing the party - he’s leaning on the balcony, staring out at the Berlin nightscape (it’s black, black as his tux, and consumes everything but his pale hands and face). He knows who Roderich is talking about - there’s really only one girl that Roderich talks about, but that’s okay, because there’s really only one girl that Gilbert thinks about, too. His fingers flex on the stem of his champagne flute. “You say it as if she sometimes isn’t.”
“Oh, please.” Roderich turns to lean on the balcony with Gilbert. The attempt at comradeship rankles. “There must be some times when she isn’t.”
Gilbert looks Roderich up and down, from his dress shoes (tailor-made) to his jacket (Armani S/S 2014) to his wine-coloured waistcoat (Chinese silk, imported) to the white rose on his lapel (wilting). He knows that Roderich thinks that he looks good - it’s obvious in the way that he lounges on the balcony, and in the bored tap of his foot when someone’s speaking to him - and Gilbert snorts, because beauty was never about money.
“Name me some examples, Roddy. When isn’t she beautiful?”
“When she’s exhausted and snappy. When her foundation is too thick. When she’s ill and weak and vomiting. When her dress doesn’t flatter her.” Roderich takes a sip of champagne. “Surely. She doesn’t vomit gold or poetry, you know. Don’t tell me you find her beautiful then.”
Gilbert sets his champagne flute down on the balcony and watches globes of carbon dioxide chase one another to the drink’s surface. “So you think she’s only beautiful when she’s in a tailored D&G dress with Jimmy Choo heels and pearls holding her hair up, diamonds mirroring the pretty bones of her wrists?”
“Spare me the poetry.”
“No chance. I’m a poet, and she looks like a poem tonight, Edelstein. But not a pretty poem. One that you use to fill up your anthology, maybe, one that’s pleasant to read, but not the one that you remember.”
Roderich raises an eyebrow. “So you won’t remember tonight? How stunning she is now?”
“Nope.” Gilbert pops the ‘p’ of the English word, as a kind of verbal punctuation. “Because that’s not what beauty is. That’s bought beauty, what she has now. Sure, it accentuates what she had already, but it’s still bought. She might as well be covered in paper money for all that her beauty tonight means. Beauty doesn’t have a price tag.”
There’s a noise like a cat trying to vomit (Roderich snorting). “How high are you on your poetry right now? Dear God, someone deliver me from this pretentious asshole.”
“You’re still listening,” Gilbert shrugs. “Go back into the party and don’t talk to me if I annoy you so much. Everyone knows you don’t like me anyway, given that I’m her ex and you fancy her pants off.”
“It’s more the fact that you’re an insensitive sod, actually, but I’ll let it slide.”
Gilbert flexes his fingers in his pockets. They’re shaking with the urge to punch Roderich in his heathen face. “Wow, how gracious of you. You do have a heart after all, even if it hankers after someone that you won’t believe is beautiful when she wakes up at ten in the morning and collapses onto a chair in a tangled heap of hair and limbs to watch you make breakfast. She’s beautiful with unwashed hair because you got in late last night, did late-night things afterwards, styled her hair with sweat and kisses. She makes your ratty old t-shirt look like haute couture with her skin showing through its holes and her eyes are barely open for sleep and she tastes like carrion when you kiss her but dammit, if you can’t find that beautiful, you don’t deserve her.”
“I suppose you think you deserve her, then,” Roderich snaps (the cat does have claws). “You’re the man who left her in a sobbing, broken heap on a doorstep for all of Berlin to see.”
Gilbert snarls in his throat. “I wasn’t fucking good enough for her, that’s why I left, and if you fucking listened to Natalia and Lovino, you’d know that because it’s one of the few things they got right.” His voice contains fewer words and more songs of bones burnt black by guilt. “You think I wanted to leave her?”
“You broke her nonetheless. The shopkeeper doesn’t care if the boy meant to break the vase - he’ll charge him anyway.”
It’s a very good thing that Gilbert set his champagne down earlier because the flute would have snapped in his fingers by now, and he really doesn’t want to bleed on his suit because he couldn’t foot the dry cleaner’s bill, given how awfully his poetry’s doing at the minute. The market for heartbreak seems to be drying up. “She is not a vase.”
“You’re still a vandal.”
“God, Roderich, get the fuck off my back! Do you have any clue what it’s like to lie awake at night with the mould on the ceiling growing across your vision until it’s dark as a theatre before the curtains rise and when they do rise, all you can see are your mistakes, dancing across the stage in Technicolor glory and puffball skirts? Do you know what it’s like to be unable to hold a pen or a coffee mug because your fingers itch so badly to touch someone again? Have you choked on your apologies every time you try to inhale in someone’s mere presence? Do you have any fucking clue, Edelstein?”
Gilbert shoves his elbow backwards. His champagne glass goes flying off the balcony, catching the streetlights, flashing as it falls. It lands in a heap of glittering splinters on the pavement five stories below, and Gilbert is done here.
“Goodnight,” Gilbert says, voice shaking, and tugs on the lapels of his tux. He leaves.
S i l e n c e , for a second. And then Roderich raises his glass in the direction of the woman inside the party. “Elizaveta Héderváry. Kiss the grown men and make them cry.” He drinks to her, and then drops his glass off the balcony too.
- image credit here
- thank you for reading ♥