A/N: I am grateful to purpleC305 for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for beta-ing. You brighten my day more than the City of Light. Thank you. Xx
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m just here having fun.
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” – Sophocles
“If you say so.” I’m skeptical, but ready for more of this day of Paris adventure.
We walk to Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame station and catch the line 4 to Réaumur-Sébastopol station where we pick up the line 3 to Gambetta station. From there it’s only a quick walk to the entrance of Père Lachaise Cemetery, but not before stopping at a flower stand to purchase a small bunch of red roses.
“I don’t know about this one, Edward. It seems a little creepy.” I hold the roses tightly to my chest.
“Oh, come on. Where is your sense of adventure? This cemetery holds the graves of some of the greatest people of our time. Let’s take a photo of the map then we can use it later.”
“You think we will get lost?” I look down the winding pathways.
“Not a chance. Let’s go.”
Edward settles on a destination and grabs my hand. We wind our way through various paths looking through the grave markers until we locate the simple grave of writer, Marcel Proust. I pull out a single rose from my bunch and leave it in remembrance.
I’m starting to sweat as we walk toward our next grave marker, which isn’t anywhere close to the last one. We finally locate the tomb for artist, Georges Seurat.
“Isn’t he the one who painted with dots, pointillism? I think it’s called?” I remember my high school art teacher having us do a project on his style of painting.
“Yes, he has some rather well-known pieces you would probably recognize if you saw them.”
We leave a rose and pay our respects before moving to a different portion of the cemetery.
“Do you know the story of Héloïse and Abélard?” Edward points to an elaborate tomb.
“No, I’ve never heard of them.” I marvel at the carved, life-sized figures resting side by side.
“Héloïse was an exceptionally intelligent wealthy woman of her time, and her uncle was looking for someone to further her studies. Pierre Abélard, who was a teacher of philosophy and logic at Notre-Dame and twenty years her senior, was asked by her uncle to be her teacher. They began a love affair, which eventually led to her pregnancy. He sent her to live with his sister in rural France, who they think ended up raising their son. When her uncle found out, he was furious. So Abélard proposed a secret marriage to appease her uncle, but her uncle made it publicly known and ordered a gang to castrate Abélard, which was the ultimate humiliation.”
“Wow, that’s intense.” I’m shocked someone would use such drastic measures.
Edward continues. “It is disputed whether it was her uncle or Abélard who forced Héloïse into a convent and to take her vows as a nun. Some think it was for her protection, while others think it was to protect Abélard’s career. He became a monk and continued his studies as a scholar and theologian. Years went by without contact until Abélard decided to write his autobiography and sent a copy to Héloïse. This started a correspondence between the two for many years, in which Héloïse reveals her undying love for Abélard and how she never wished to marry; she just wanted him. I think the love letters are published, as I have read excerpts of them. Both of their remains have been moved numerous times, until finally they were brought here as the first residents to be laid to rest side by side, a forbidden eternal love.”
“I can’t believe I’ve never heard their story before. When was this?” I look around the area, wishing I could get closer to see the structure in greater detail.
Edward leans against the fence. “The twelfth century.”
I move to the other side to get a better look at the tomb and notice the carved details of a nun and a monk side by side forever more. I leave two roses nearby in remembrance and notice a few envelopes scattered on the ground.
Edward slides his hand in mine and points with his other. “People leave love letters in hope that someday they will find their true love.”
I smile and look up at him. “I think I need a kiss after all of that.”
“Absolutely.” Edward leans down and plants a sweet, chaste kiss on my lips. “Let’s keep going.”
We walk hand in hand to the next area of interest, but it takes a little while for us to find musician Jim Morrison’s grave as it isn’t on the main path.
“I love his music. The Doors are one of my favorite groups,” I share, and leave a rose with plenty of other flowers, notes, and pictures.
“Isn’t it kind of odd that he’s buried here?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. He died here at his apartment in Paris. So, maybe not.”
“What’s your favorite Doors’ song?” I ask.
“That’s a tough one. Probably, Love Her Madly. How about you?”
I pause to think. “There are so many amazing songs. I’m torn between Light My Fire and L.A. Woman.”
Edward weaves us through several pathways before finding the tombstones of composer Frédéric Chopin then cabaret singer Édith Piaf. I leave roses on each of their markers as we continue to wind our way through the narrow passageways.
It doesn’t take long before we are standing in front of the grave of journalist Victor Noir.
“This one is interesting,” Edward tells me with a twinkle in his eye.
“Is this a life-sized effigy?”
“I believe so.”
“Oh my goodness! Does he have a death erection?” I swear he looks happy to see me, if it were possible. “And what’s up with the fact that the finish is different there as well as his mouth?”
“Victor was a journalist who was shot dead at being caught in the middle of a dispute. However, he’s become a symbol of fertility and sexual happiness due to the prominent bulge in his pants. Supposedly, if you rub his bulge, give him a kiss, then leave a flower in his upturned top hat you will be given enhanced fertility, a blissful sex life, and some believe a husband within a year.” He wiggles his eyebrows up and down.
“Oh really? And let me guess, you think I should do those things?” I smirk.
“Well, I don’t want you to miss out on an opportunity such as this. They put up a fence years ago to prevent women from rubbing Victor and defacing his grave. However, a number of protests by the women of Paris ended with the fence being taken down. I just want you to have the possibility for… more of whatever you desire.”
I look Victor over from head to toe. “I’m going to try not to think about all of the women you’ve had before me, Victor.” I chuckle because of course I’m game for something like this. “How many more tombs will we need roses for after this one?”
I pull out a single rose and hand it to Edward, which leaves me with four remaining. I cringe a little at the thought of putting my lips on Victor’s, but make a show of my actions for Edward. I give Victor’s bulge a good rub, then lean down to place a kiss on his bronze lips, and finally leave four roses in his top hat.
My eyes find Edward’s. “Well, that should do it, bring on the husband, kids, and break the bed sex.” I laugh.
Edward puts his arm around me and kisses my lips. “Yeah, bring it on.”
I feel a pinch on my ass and squeal out in surprise. “Edward!”
“Come on. Let’s go find Oscar, although I don’t think you can leave him a kiss anymore.”
We take the short walk and locate Oscar Wilde’s tomb, which has a flying naked sphinxlike angel as the main carving with protective glass around it.
“This angel appears to be male.” I observe his silver prosthesis.
“Yes, when the tomb was originally installed there was a huge outcry over the unusually large size of the angel’s testicles that many were offended. Rumor says the genitals were hacked off and used as a paperweight in the cemetery manager’s office.”
“Unbelievable. And what’s up with the glass?” I look around the sides.
“Oscar Wilde once wrote, ‘A kiss may ruin a human life.’ They think mostly tourists started leaving lipstick kisses on his tomb. Unfortunately, with the grease found in lipstick, each cleaning to remove it was causing further damage to the stone. So, they decided to put up the glass barrier to protect the extremely porous surface that remains.”
“Didn’t he go to prison for his homosexuality?” I try to recall.
Edward nods. “Yes, two years of hard labor at several prisons around London, then he left for France when he was released. He lived a life in decline for many years until he died bankrupt and estranged from his wife and sons. Recently, he and 50,000 other men were pardoned under the Alan Turing law for their convictions of homosexual acts.”
I nod and drop my final rose over the side of the glass. “Life can be really overwhelming at times, and all we want is to belong to someone or something. So many of these people here died very young according to today’s standards. It’s such a shame.”
I interlace my fingers with Edward’s, and we walk back out the cemetery entrance.
“Thanks for bringing me here. I found it surprisingly fascinating,” I concede.
“With over 70,000 tombs on over a hundred acres, we didn’t even make a dent in everyone’s stories, just the more famous ones. I knew you would end up enjoying yourself.”
“You were right, once again.”
He puts an arm around my shoulders and pulls me close to kiss my temple. “Would you expect nothing less from your very own, Mr. Perfect?”
I look up and find that crooked grin on his face. “You’re never going to let me live this down, are you?”
“Not a chance. I kind of like it. The name fits. Now, let’s go catch the Metro and check out the Louvre.”
Edward and I board the Metro and leave Gambetta station on the line 3 to Opéra station where we change to the line 7 which brings us to Palais Royal Louvre station. We only have a short walk to the Louvre from there, but I stop us to take some selfies in front of the glass pyramid.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Evening is starting to settle around us and the pyramid provides such a spectacular light show. “I hope my pictures are good with this lighting.” I fuss with my phone.
“It is quite unexpected considering the surrounding buildings, but I suppose that’s the point. Expect the unexpected.” He looks on with great appreciation.
“I’m all for it. After the cemetery, my mind is wide open.” I smile and grab Edward’s hand. “Let’s go.”
I pull out our tickets and hand Edward a map from the entrance.
“What do you think we should try to see first? I think it would take us a week to see everything, so let’s be a bit picky.” I look over his shoulder at our options.
He surveys the map. “Definitely the Mona Lisa. Hmmm, do we need to see Veronese’s Wedding at Cana?” Edward smirks.
“Well, since I’m now familiar with the story thanks to you and my non-engagement to Emmett, maybe we can skip that one?”
“Whatever you say, Sainte Bella.” He snickers.
I smack him across the chest playfully, but he grabs my hand and holds it against his heart, then leans in for a quick peck.
“How about we just head to the Mona Lisa then wander around until we’ve had enough?”
“Sounds good to me. Where’s that gal at?”
We drift from room to room and floor to floor enjoying various pieces. My favorite is Van Eyck’s Madonna of Chancellor Rolin. Supposedly, the seven deadly sins are found in the painting, but without really knowing how they are depicted, I have some trouble figuring them out.
Fortunately, it isn’t too crowded to see the Mona Lisa, so Edward and I have plenty of time and don’t feel rushed to view the painting. It is a lot smaller than I expect, but it doesn’t stop my need for pictures.
One of our favorite areas is Napoleon’s apartment in all of its over-the-top grandeur. The gold and crimson rooms are extremely ornate from floor to ceiling, and I just can’t imagine actually living there.
Edward’s favorite is the pyramid, and we spend plenty of time admiring the amazing glass structure from both inside and out.
Time moves quickly and soon we realize we’ve been inside the Louvre for more than three hours. Unfortunately, I’m feeling oversaturated with paintings and sculptures.
“I think I’m ready to go. How about you?” I ask.
“Yes, I’m at a point where it’s all starting to swirl together. There’s only about an hour until closing and I’m hungry again.”
“I could eat too. What are you up for this evening?”
We exit the museum to find the sun has set and evening is upon us. The City of Light is out in full force with a dazzling array of sparkles from every direction.
“Well, I’m thinking maybe some room service and something sweet,” Edward suggests.
“You? Something sweet?” I furrow my brow in confusion.
“Yes.” He smirks.
“One of my macarons?” I offer.
“No. Something sweeter.” He winks and grins devilishly. “I think it’s time for you to take a beard ride before I trim it.”
“A beard ride.” I giggle with excitement. “Can we order champagne too?”
Edward grabs my hand and leads me to the Metro. “Absolutely. Let’s go. I’m starving.”