Chapter 1: Prologue
Dusk had settled into night in Nohant.
George Sand was unsure just how long she had been sitting at the edge of her bed staring at the little black card she had received earlier that afternoon.
You are cordially invited to attend the funeral of Monsieur Frederic Francois Chopin on Tuesday the Thirtieth of October 1849...
You are cordially invited to attend the funeral of Monsieur Frederic Francois Chopin on Tuesday the Thirtieth of October 1849...
You are cordially invited to attend the funeral of Monsieur Frederic Francois Chopin on Tuesday the Thirtieth of October 1849...
the funeral of...
She had known for a long time that Chopin was sickly. When they were together, she remembered the malaise that hung in the house after he had recovered from his latest illness, for it was certain that he would soon succumb to a new one. His sicknesses had worn her down over time, transforming their relationship from that of two lovers to that of an ill man and his caretaker. Still, the pianist always seemed to recover, to come back from the brink of death, no matter the odds. She could not believe that this time was different, even though the card confirming her anxieties lay nestled between her hands.You are cordially invited...
Sand knew that attending the funeral was not an option. She was not quite sure why she knew this, but ever since the two had parted she - irrationally, she told herself - blamed herself for the fact that the man's illnesses had increasingly become more and more dire. What if it was their time together that had put him in an early grave? Sand buried her hands in her thick, black tresses, mentally chastising herself for even thinking such things.
Her thoughts began to spiral. Even if their separation was anything but amicable, the thought of Chopin dead...Sand realized the sheer impossibility of attending the funeral. Everyone there would blame her for making him weaker. Everyone would see her as his grave digger. To show up would only add insult to injury.
Many years had passed since they parted ways for good. As much as Sand wanted to dwell on the parting - especially on how it was necessary if not downright just - her mind, swirling with the dizzying sensation of fresh grief, could only focus on the first time they met, the first time they kissed, the first time they made love, the trip to Majorca (what a fiasco that was!) and all of the countless, sublime hours of music.
Try as she might, Sand could not hold back the hot tears that had begun to spill down her cheeks. Her lips parted and through them a shaky breath emerged.
"George, I love you," Chopin laughed, "But I'm almost certain you'll be the death of me."
"Darling don't say such things! Besides, if you were to die, I hope you at least drag me with you. Just think of how lonely Nohant would be without you."
"George I couldn't bear to even so much dwell on such an idea."
What was it they did that day? That's right, they went out for a picnic on the Nohant grounds only to get caught in a surprise summer thunderstorm not a half hour later. She smiled to herself, remembering how soaked they had gotten, and the food - good Lord, the food was just completely ruined. Images kept coming and coming and coming - smiles and nicknames and parties and fights and illnesses and triumps and ah, so this is grief, she thought to herself - unexpected - but grief all the same. George, unable to sit up any longer, eased her body back into the bed. She buried her head in a pillow, muffling her anguished cries even though no company was present at Nohant to possibly overhear them. Perhaps she did not want to hear them herself. As heavy sobs broke free from her lips, she knew that she had let go of any resolve she had mustered and there was no use in fighting the surge of painful memories besieging her.
"Pardon me madame for not introducing myself," he had said curtly with an unenthusiastic but ever-polite bow. "My name is Frederic Francois Chopin. I presume you must be Madame Sand."
How were they supposed to know what would become of them?
"We did nothing wrong," she cried, her husky voice racked by sobs. "We did nothing wrong. We did nothing wrong. We did nothing wrong..."
[A/N: These first few chapters will be short, just to test the waters and set the mood. Hope you enjoy! xD]
"Did you hear, George? Franz has a new rival."
It was a radiant spring afternoon in Paris, and light streamed through the tall bays of windows that lined the spacious third floor of the Hotel de France, recently occupied by a certain Franz Liszt and his lover, Marie d'Agoult. A small breeze wafted through the room from outside, stirring the delicate, sheer fabric of the parlor curtains, and each disturbance splayed the walls with playful shadows. Two women sat comfortably on opposite sides of the same chartreuse divan, halfheartedly tending to their sewing.
"I find such a notion quite difficult to believe, Marie. I can't imagine anyone coming even remotely close to possessing such a magnitude of talent and...musical stamina as Franz Liszt."
Marie frowned, mostly in the direction of the thread which had, most inconvieniently, slipped out of the eye of her needle. She brushed a strand of tawny blond hair behind her ear and began trying to rethread the needle, her gray eyes focusing with steely intent. Her companion, a lover of gossip, furrowed her brow, displeased that Marie was now ignoring her. She rested her embroidery hoop on her lap and sighed irritably.
"So who is this rival?" George asked. Marie waited until she had finally succeeded in wrangling her thread before replying.
"They say he's Polish. I think Franz knows his name."
Why bring him up if you don't even know who he is? George felt a chill on the back of her neck and instinctively removed the clip that had held up her thick, inky curles, which soon cascaded down to her shoulders. They were both so focused on their respective tasks that the two women did not notice that Franz had returned.
"Franz knows what?" the pianist bellowed, clearly in good spirits. He entered the room with a smile.
"Darling!" Marie beamed, setting her embroidery down on an adjacent table as she rose to greet him. George always forgot just how tall Liszt was, something he deliberately augmented by his preference for black clothing. He bent down to give Marie a kiss on the cheek, his caramel-colored hair tickling against her neck.
"George! What a nice surprise. Writing any good novels lately?" Liszt asked.
"I find my time most frequently occupied by the duties of the editor," George lamented. Franz sat across from them in a matching armchair, resting his elbows on his knees.
"We were just talking about your rival, Franz," interjected Marie, who had resumed sewing.
"Rival?" Franz seemed confused but soon realized who they were talking about. "Oh, oh. You mean Monsieur Chopin?"
"He's the Polish one, right?" Marie asked, hoping that her gossip source had given her an accurate dossier.
"Yes, yes. He's new in Paris. I believe he's rather young as well, only a few years younger than me. Thank goodness he's not younger than that or we'd certainly have trouble.
"Is he really as good as you, Franz?" questioned Marie flirtatiously. George's dark eyes, alternated between her two companions, searching their faces for any emotional subtext to their words. George was an expert listener; her skills for observing and documenting the world around her and especially those who inhabited it brought a great deal of realism to her works as a writer.
"Now darling, life is not always a competition, though in this regard you'll be comforted by the fact that Chopin, since his arrival in Paris a few months ago, has not performed much. The man came here to make his living quietly in the form of teaching wealthy aristocrats. Of course, such a talent couldn't possibly stay clandestine for too long. I finally had the pleasure of hearing him play and must say that, though he is quite the showman, I believe his greatest talents rest with his compositions rather than his performances." Liszt smoothed a loose strand of hair back behind his ear. His answer seemed to satisfy Marie whose relief that her lover would not be usurped anytime soon was palpable.
"Tell me more about these works of Monsieur Chopin, Franz," George urged, always eager to hear more about the city's latest artistic sensations. Franz paused for a moment to consider his words.
"Well, they have a rather specific quality namely, rather than choosing the palette of virtuosity, Monsieur Chopin prefers to write pieces of great sensitivity. His work, at least that which I heard last week at the invitation of Monsieur Pleyel -" Liszt broke into a gossipy aside; "You know Pleyel - he sells pianos and nothing sells more pianos than a new pianist in town. The man is a shark - of course he would be the first to catch wind of any talented visitor to our dear city. Anyways, Pleyel invited me to Chopin's debut, and I was certainly smitten. Like any newcomer trying to make his mark, he presented a variety of repertoire - starting off with Bach fugues, Mozart sonatas, the usual fare, just enough of it to show he was capable. Around halfway through the recital, Chopin addressed the audience that he was to perform a sample of his own compositions. I was skeptical at first, as you all know from the many salons you've had to sit through that all pianists fancy themselves composers. However what he produced astounded me, to put it frankly. Chopin's pieces - ballades, dance pieces of a Polish sort, notions playful and somber alike - spanned the entire range of human emotion. There was sadness, anger, joy, amusement, even. I found myself quite envious as his pieces seem closer to written poetry than music in their form. I was instantly enamoured. I even asked his financier - a Pole name Grzymala - where to procure copies for my own study."
The more George heard of Franz's recollection of Monsieur Chopin, the more interested she became. A poet of the piano...the very idea was simply scintillating.
"Say Franz, when will we get to meet this young musical poet?" she asked.
"I suppose it would only be polite if we introduced him to our little scene. Perhaps we should throw a soiree here maybe...next week? Speaking of 'here', George, how has your move downstairs progressed?" George was in the midst of a scenery change, moving from a small apartment on the other side of the city to the suite in the Hotel de France a floor beneath Marie and Liszt's.
"Moving, Franz, is never pleasant; however, the whole ordeal seems to finally have reached its end. We uncrated the china just yesterday, in fact. But back to the party - you will host one, won't you? Your parties are always well-received."
"Oh yes, Franz, please say we'll have a party," Marie pleaded in a singsongy voice. "I haven't seen all our friends together in so long."
Franz realized he had backed himself into a corner. "Alright, alright. How about the following Thursday around eight. Does that work for you, George?"
"Perfectly," George replied. Franz rose from his seat.
"Excellent, excellent. I'd love to stay and chat more ladies, however I must get back to work. I promised my publisher I'd have these etudes finished three days ago, and if I put it off any longer we won't be able to pay the bills." He leaned down to kiss Marie on the forehead.
"Goodbye, Franz," said George, herself rising from her seat. "My apologies Marie, but I too should be heading downstairs. The children are almost finished with their tutoring and I'm sure the tutor would be most displeased if she has to leave empty handed."
"Goodbye, George," replied Marie with a little wave. She was glad George was leaving, for she wanted no interruptions when Franz was practicing. "Thank you for helping me pass away the hour."
George gathered her embroidery and gently wrapped it back in its paper covering. Franz was already running up and down the parlor piano with a barrage of scales. Not wanting to disturb a man at work, George smiled before stepping quietly into the hotel hallway.
A new virtuoso? And a poet, at that! George could not help herself: she was certainly intrigued.
"Going somewhere, Aurore?"
George stopped dead in her tracks and felt the color drain from her face. God damn this man! Already he has found me here! She quickly made an attempt to control the anger which came to her in the form of a furrowed brow and balled fists. The writer forced her mouth into a crooked smile and she lamented her theatrical shortcomings.
"Felicien, what a surprise," she managed to say with an unwavering tone. Mallefille's countenance darkened, made ever-more sinister by his devilish goatee and rather pointed eyebrows. He was a large man, with a shock of unruly dark curls; big-nosed and stern-browed, his face had a tendency towards ruddiness which was very prominently on display at this moment.
"Felicien," he mocked, blocking the entry to her room as George motioned towards opening the door. "Where have you been these past few weeks, my love?" Mallefille asked in a saccharine tone. "I've noticed you've recently changed your address."
Partially because of you, you louch, George thought.
"Am I under arrest, officer?" she asked sweetly, again extending her hand towards the doorknob to her room only for it to be seized roughly by Mallefille. George, as tough as she was, clad in men's clothing, brusque and a smoker of cigars, remained, in essence, a small, delicate woman, standing just five feet tall. She tried in vain to withdraw her hand from Mallefille's grip. Unable to, she glowered at him in staunch defiance.
"Now is not the time to get funny with me, Aurore. You don't want me to commit a crime of passion, do you?"
George knew that Mallefille, a playwright by trade, was not the type of man to be won over by coldness, and, considering her situation, George mustered her best imitation of the confused damsel Mallefille wanted her to be.
"Felicien, darling," cried George before dropping dramatically to her knees. "I never thought you'd find me. I thought you'd abandoned me!"
Mallefille let go of her hand in surprise. "Abandoned you? Sweet Aurore, what could have possibly given you such an absurd idea?"
George buried her face in her hands, trying desperately to conjure up some tears. Think of childbirth! Think of seeing your little Maurice for the first time! Finally, after much efforts a few misty droplets managed to form in the corner of her eyes.
"Felicien! Don't you remember? You came home drunk, we had that fight! You called me a harlot and a harridan and cast me out into the street!" No such event had occurred byt Felicien, being a rather licentious person, frequently arrived back to his apartment late at night in a drunken haze, and George was hoping he bought the lie. After slowly lifting her head from her hands and seeing the softness return to his face, she knew her farce had worked. Mallefille kneeled beside her, his face ashen with shame.
"Dear Aurore, I didn't realize! To be quite honest, I don't even remember what event you're referring to, but I do recall becoming quite inebriated two weeks ago - come to think of it, that was the morning I awoke without you. I'm so terribly sorry - what an embarrassment this is. And to think you were the one at fault, to think I had sat alone at night, fantasizing in my rage that you had taken another to be your only one. Aurore, you have to believe that I'm a poet at heart, a gentle soul, a -" Mallefille's maudlin soliloquy was interrupted by George's tutor who had opened the door. The two quickly rose from the floor, Mallefille's face deep red with embarrassment. He was a private man and the idea that someone had heard his most heartfelt testimony greatly unsettled him. The tutor, Madame Gerard, appeared horrified at the apparent impropriety she had been privy to. George seized on this comedy of manners to make her escape.
"Felicien," she said brusquely. "I accept your apology, but I should hope that you will not be too upset by, in response to your recent actions, my distinct need and desire to be alone and clear my thoughts. Perhaps in a few weeks we can put this whole affair behind us and move forward with our life together, however for now I ask you to please give me time to gather my resolve and dispel of my sadness in a productive fashion." George paused and retrieved an envelope from her inside pocket.
"Ah, Madame Gerard - poor timing I suppose - here are your wages and I thank you once again for your dutiful service."
Madame Gerard, an aging woman in her mid-fifties, gave George a weary and disparaging look before taking the envelope, putting it in her coat pocket, and, with an awkward sidestep out of the looming presence of Mallefille, bowed and headed swiftly and curtly down the hall. After she was gone, Mallefille took George's hands in his and spoke.
"Aurore, my love, as much as it pains me to leave you to your necessary emotional recovery, I must say that, now that I have been confronted by my own poor manners, that I am, with every part of my being, sorry to have rued you in this most unseemly fashion. I will leave you to your children, but please - take pity on a poor, lovesick man and write - write to me, for I live each of my days on the back of your words."
George offered the playwright a coquettish smile. "Dear Felicien, I promise I will write. But please, you should leave swiftly. I do not want to expose my children to such a scene. They are at an impressionable age."
Flustered, Mallefille acquiesed and, with a deep bow and a kiss on her hand that George felt lingered far too long, Mallefille turned and, with one last longing, pitiful glance, disappeared down the corridor. After he was out of sight, George let out a deep sigh of relief. She was not sure how he had found her here, but she supected that gossip had gotten around most likely via Marie, who had not quite memorized the roster of who was and was not close to Sand's former lovers. After taking one last glance to make sure Mallefille had truly left, George stepped into her suite and closed the door.
[A/N: Poor Mallefille, he's only trying his best! xD Don't worry, we'll certainly see more of this poor brute and his unseemly antics!]
[A/N: I know this story was originally going to be told from just George's point of view, but, not being a woman, I can't write in the voice of a woman (even one like George xD) forever - so I've decided to mix the point of views and insert some chapters from other characters' POVs.]
A week earlier... The Salon Pleyel, albeit large, had a tendency towards stuffiness especially when it was packed to the gills with society dilettantes, music enthusiasts, patrons and potential patrons, rivals, distracted lovers, interlopers looking for entertainment, fellow musicians, music publishers and other unseemly individuals. Franz Liszt began to grow impatient. He considered himself far too important to have to suffer amidst the masses who usually gathered in great, rapacious throngs to hear him play. He reached for his pocket watch. Ten minutes after eight...they're late. Being a performer himself, Liszt was used to engaging in the vices of tardiness when it came to recitals - he found that it helped to build excitement, and it seemed that tonight's act, a Monsieur Frederic Chopin, was no different. All star pianists did this, but it was unusual for one to engage in theatrics on their first debut. The crowd's restlessness seemed to be growing in a manner most unsustainable when, finally, Camille Pleyel's stocky form revealed itself on the salon's small, yet suitable wooden platform on which sat a Pleyel piano.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen," shouted Pleyel. The audience seemed pleased that the recital had finally started. "I have come before you this evening to present a wonderful new talent who has only recently taken our beloved Paris as his new abode, a monsieur Frederic Chopin. Now, I see that, because there are so many of you present that the gossip machine of Paris has performed its duties most splendidly."
The crowd, self-aware as always, chuckled in agreement.
"In response, I believe it my duty to quell any malingering rumors from such gossip before they spread too far and as such I will say a few choice words about Monsieur Chopin before he takes the stage to perform for you tonight." Pleyel, a short, bespectacled man whose brunette hair parted precisely down the middle, produced a note card from his vest pocket and cleared his throat.
"Monsieur Frederic Francois Chopin, aged twenty two years old, was born in Warsaw, Poland and began studying the piano at a remarkably young age. His precociousness propelled him into private performances in the homes of Polish royalty while still a child, and, as an adolescent, he gained a coveted spot at the prestigious Warsaw conservatory. Monsieur Chopin has toured throughout Europe, including in Poland, Russia, and Vienna, before choosing - to our great pleasure - to make his home here in Paris, where, he insisted I tell you, he is currently accepting pupils." Someone in the crowd whistled, and a few patrons chuckled knowingly at the advertisement. Pleyel continued, unfazed.
"Chopin the performer can only be described as a virtuoso, capable of all the daring pianistic feats I know you all are here to see, but, unlike many a virtuoso, Chopin is also gifted as a composer. He will be performing for you tonight a recital consisting of Fugues by Bach, Sonati by Mozart, Variations on themes by Corelli, and a selection of improvisations and compositions written by this young master himself." Pleyel, an experienced booker, could sense that the crowd was getting restless, and decided that now was a suitable time to conclude his introductory remarks.
"And now, without further ado, I present to you, monsieur Frederic Chopin."
The crowd burst into excited applause and Liszt found himself craning his neck, eagerly awaiting to see what this Monsieur Chopin, his supposed rival, looked like. As the applause continued, Franz could finally see a diminuitive figure appear from behind the curtain, give a brisk, polite bow, and take his seat at the piano on stage. The audience waited with bated breath, and Franz Liszt found himself holding his as well.
The small, delicate form of Frederic Chopin seemed to Liszt as if he'd blow over in a stiff wind, but this notion was soon put to rest when Chopin buried himself in the explosive opening of a particularly thorny Bach fugue. Liszt took mental notes. The playing was excellent - a crucial and expertly delivered combination of technical and emotive. Chopin's performative allure hinged on the dissonance between his appearance - a ghastly pallor and frail-looking body - compared to the powerful, adroit music which flowed from his fingertips. The more Liszt observed Chopin play, the greater his fear that the poor fellow would simply collapse onto the floor became, but the Hungarian had underestimated the sheer stamina of this elusive young Pole. Time seemed suspended as Chopin worked his way through repertoire historical and contemporary, excelling at every turn, every tricky phrase, every emotive gesture. This was no ordinary run-of-the-mill piano showman. Chopin, Liszt realized, was something extraordinary. After the brilliant conclusion of a sonata by Mozart, Chopin stood and bowed to thunderous applause.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he wheezed through thick, heaving breaths. "I must take pause for a short intermission. I promise I shall return shortly, after which I will share with you some of my compositional work." Chopin bowed again before curtly dissappearing through the door to the performer's room, held open by Pleyel. Liszt found himself lost in thought, wondering what kind of compositions this young man would present before such a receptive audience. He appreciated Chopin's talents but could not help feel anxious that his reign as king of the piano would soon be ursuped. Finally, after what seemed like a short eternity, Chopin returned. After a short bow, he sat at the piano, coughed to himself a few times, and then began.
Liszt worried that Chopin's fare would be similar to his - explosive, virtuosic fantasies and impromptus - but was instead surprised to discover the sincerity and quiet genius of Chopin's work - Nocturnes, Ballades, and even some Polish dances. Each work was just as virtuosic as it needed to be, for Chopin's skills as a performer gave him a broad palatte for his compositional techniques. The pieces he played that night astounded Liszt with their sensitivity, breadth of emotion, and subdued flourishes. Chopin did not compose because he could play the piano, he played the piano as a means to compose. What a remarkable young man, Liszt thought to himself. He wondered where he could get copies of this music - he found himself yearning to find out just how these clever little pieces came together. Liszt became lost in the poetry of each line, the unpretentious beauty of each phrase, and soon, far too soon for Liszt's liking, the recital had concluded to thunderous applause. Chopin, unlike Liszt, was not as keen about receiving audience accolades. After a few short bows, he quickly retreated through the door of the performer's room. The audience quickly sensed that there would not be an encore - smart of him, thought Liszt, to not overstay his welcome and instead build intrigue. Liszt could not help himself - he was eager to talk to the young musician, to learn more about him and his thoughts on music, the piano, composing, Paris. He rose from his seat and surreptitiously walked over to the door of the performer's room, only to be blockaded by a thin, middle-aged, impeccably dressed man with a rather fastidious moustache.
"Monsieur Chopin is not feeling well. He informed me to offer his apologies to those who wished to speak with him."
"And who are you?" asked Franz, offended that the man did not recognize who he was.
"My name is Grzymala, I am Monsieur Chopin's patron."
Realizing that the man was a patron of the arts, Liszt immediately changed his tone.
"Forgive me monsieur. My name is Franz Liszt. I was going to commend Monsieur Chopin on a tremendous performance as well as inquire about where one could purchase his compositions."
"Ah, Monsieur Liszt, the virtuoso pianist. My apologies - I did not recognize you. I will forward your message to Monsieur Chopin. As for compositions, I would inquire with Pleyel, perhaps at another date since he is too occupied to conduct business at this time."
Liszt nodded, catching a glimpse of Pleyel, giddily conversing with a circle of young women. "I see. Thank you Monsieur..."
"Grzymala," Liszt finished. He produced a piece of stationary from his inside pocket. "Please give this to Monsieur Chopin - I would love to hear from him at a later date about his plans in Paris."
Grzymala took the slip of paper and put it in his jacket pocket. "Thank you, Monsieur Liszt."
Liszt nodded curtly before, after a brief examination of who was in the room, deciding that the optimal choice of action was to leave the recital rather than get stuck socializing with the likes of Pleyel and his clique. Surreptitiously, the pianist made his way towards the salon door and quietly stepped out into the brisk Parisian night.
Marie d'Agoult turned towards Liszt who reclined languidly on the parlor divan. She knew that tone of voice well - it was one marked by a certain playfulness. Franz was up to something.
"Yes Franz?" she answered, humoring him
"Aren't you simply exhausted by all the gossip that seems to follow us?" he asked. What an absurd question! Of course she was! The pair couldn't go out in public without causing a chorus of poorly concealed whispers. What woman wouldn't be bothered by such a thing?
"Of course I am, but I'm not quite sure what to do about it."
"Yes, it does seem like quite a problem..." the pianist drawled, wrapping a strand of hair around his finger. "If only the city's attention could be diverted to a different couple," he mused, piquing her interest.
"Who did you have in mind, Franz?" she inquired, leaning forward in her armchair.
"Did George tell you anything about her little fling with Mallefille, by chance?" Liszt's voice had an air of the casual and the mischevious simultaneously. Marie furrowed her brow.
"If you think that George and Felicien are going to serve our needs as a distraction, I have to inform you that your hopes will fall flat. Not many members of Paris high society even know who Felicien is, much less care about his affairs, even though they're with George. I see your point, however. Both of them are a magnet for drama, it just doesn't have enough...novelty to it. Certainly not enough to distract from the saga of a young aristocrat who leaves her husband for a piano player."
Liszt smiled impishly. "I was more inquiring about the status of their affair, not its qualities. I heard from Delacroix that George confided in him that they're on the fritz and that's partially why George agreed to come live here, in the Hotel de France."
Marie frowned in slight offense that George would not confess such things to her rather than Eugene. Wasn't that the whole point of female companionship?
"This is the first time I've heard such a thing," Marie pouted.
"Now Marie," Liszt crooned, "don't you see that this presents a very specific opportunity?"
"I don't see how George's breakup helps our lot in any way," Marie answered, irritated. Why couldn't Franz simply come out and say what he thought rather than lead her on these guessing games?
"Marie, if George is through with Mallefille, that mean's she's available. It means she's looking for someone new, perhaps someone who could help redirect the gaze of the public away from us."
Marie smiled. Of course! Brilliant, Franz. She began rolling through her mental address book trying to come up with the right character to set George up with. Unable to settle on one in particular, she turned to Liszt. "But who, Franz? Maybe Eugene?"
Liszt laughed. "George and Delacroix? Absolutely not. They're too close as friends. Besides, he's not her type - she's never had a taste for visual artists. I frankly think she respects them too much."
"Do you know if Heine is single?" Marie asked, thinking of the young German poet, with his soft features and passionate political bent. Definitely seemed like George's type.
"Last I heard he's gone and fallen in love with some illiterate shop-girl. Terribly embarrassing."
"I suppose his taste for the proles extends into his romantic preferences," she giggled, sharing a laugh with Liszt. "I don't know, who else is there? Baudelaire? He hates her guts. I'm running out of writers."
"What if we set her up with someone who wasn't a writer?" Liszt suggested. "Maybe she's tired of writers by now."
"If you've got someone in mind, Franz, you should simply inform me instead of playing games," Marie frowned.
"What about Chopin? He's the hottest new act in town. Certainly would cause a riot if he took up with George, our city's most infamous paramour."
"I don't know anything about Monsieur Chopin. Have you even met the man, Franz? It seems a little presumptuous for you to assume he's even available, much less interested in someone like George. I'm sure he's already been warned all about her."
"Hiller informed me yesterday that he suspects Chopin is unmarried. He's never been seen at the Salon Pleyel or at any social functions accompanied by a woman. Besides, he's so young."
"What makes you think he'd be interested in George? Or that George would be interested in him? You seem so sure, Franz. Certainly you must know something."
"I know George, and I'm certain she'd be quite intrigued by this young man. He's a somber, sensitive, meticulous artist. And his music - I'm sure it would sweep her off her feet. As for Chopin, he seems like a proper and quiet young man - innocent, even, as much as that's still possible. Someone like George could certainly provide him excellent tutorship in matters of love, if you know what I mean," Liszt gazed at Marie flirtatiously, and she blushed in response.
"That's all well and good, Franz, but how are we to set them up?"
Franz rose from his reclined state and leaned forward on the edge of the chair. "It's simple really," he said. "You'll call on George tomorrow, around four. Invite her to sew - nothing unusual. Whittle away the hour with idle gossip, then, around quarter til five, bring up Monsieur Chopin, but be discreet. Just mention that there's a new pianist in town. I'll come in shortly after and fill her in - she'd be more excited to hear the juicy details from me because I have seen Chopin personally. At some point, I'll suggest we have a party. I'm sure George will agree. I'll write a letter to Chopin's publicist inviting him to the event, which I'm sure he'll accept, because, being new in town, I'm sure Chopin will be eager to make the acquaintances of the members of Paris' artistic mileiu. Then, at the party, I'll introduce them to one another and the rest is up to the divine magic of romance." Franz beamed. His plan was foolproof, and Marie, at first skeptical had to agree.
"You've certainly thought this through, Franz. Alright then. I'll call on George tomorrow afternoon, like you said. I certainly hope you're able to pull this off. I don't know how much longer I can stand this society muttering."
Liszt's grin widened, thankful for her approval. He rose from his seat, strolled over to Marie, and kneeled at her feet.
"I'm glad you approve of my clever little scheme."
Marie was unable to respond, for Franz's face inched ever so close to her own. He cupped her face with the palm of his hand and drew her into a long, gentle kiss. Flustered, she peered at him through her long, blonde eyelashes.
"Isn't it about time we headed to bed?" she whispered coquettishly. Franz took her by the hand and stood, helping her rise from her seat.
"After you, madame."
[A/N: Ahh, I'm sorry, I just simply had to end with Franz getting frisky xD. I hope you've enjoyed so far!! Next chapter will be a little longer. Finally Chopin and Sand will meet!!]