Frederic Chopin was sure that he couldn’t love somebody.
He simply believed he didn’t have the right to love. He supposed it was like the way he wrote his music, wonderful music, but he was always too afraid to play it loud.
He viewed himself as being introverted, sickly, quiet, and meek. In a way, he viewed that all humans were, in some respect. All humans had their weaknesses; alcohol, money, pleasures of the flesh… addictions. Chopin thought that he was better weak and helpless in health rather than codependent on substance. But, there is always an outlier in terms that apply to “all humans”.
In this case, it appeared that George Sand was the outlier.
Sitting up in his bed, Chopin grimiced, but it slowly transformed itself into a smile.
There was a time when Chopin believed that he could live the remander of his shortened life without ever meeting the 'devil woman of Paris', or so the public claimed. Chopin didn’t, at the time, even know the woman, much less hate her. As for her writing and personality, by speculation Chopin just thought that Sand was, quite simply, too brash. Perhaps, if he so desired to coin the term “archenemy” in such a situation, George Sand was archenemy to his peaceful silence.
Besides, Chopin could never get a glimpse of her even if he wanted to. Sand was almost always flocked by potential lovers, editors, publishers, and exes. It was almost impossible for anyone to see her, but eventually, Frederic Chopin did make the acquaintance of George Sand. Little did he know at the time, but that woman would certainly change his life forever.
And it was all because of Delacroix.
Though he appeared at many cordially, Chopin hated parties. Every time he went to one, he ended up getting horribly ill, frustrated, flustered, and most of all, uncomfortable. But something had plagued him to go to a gallery opening of Eugene’s. Perhaps it was because the party was invitation only, or perhaps it was because his benefactor, Camille Pleyel would be there. Most likely, there was no direct motive.
Eugene was celebrating the success of his recent portraits, and in typical artistic, Parisian style, he was throwing a loud, boisterous party for it. Chopin had decided even before he arrived that he would just sit on the sofa like the wallflower he was.
For two agonizing hours, he was bored; listening to other performers play their various instruments (notably, Niccolo Paganini was there for some reason, as the devil Italian was rarely seen at parties and Chopin was quite entertained by his performance of the complex “Witches Dance” on a one stringed violin), and the various bourgeoisie laugh and dance with the ever smooth Delacroix and the strange, mingling women that he kept in his company.
Chopin himself wasn’t really a fan of upper-class ladies. He found them fickle, and agitating creatures. This didn’t apply to all women, he kept company with a few he seemed to like. Chopin didn’t like most men, either. He kept a close circle of friends, and while he was cordial to everyone, he was only his genuine self around his said friends.
The Polish man sipped at his flute of champagne for about thirty minutes. Alcohol, be it the smallest of smallest amounts, always made his weak body feel woozy. He began to feel a little woozy when he was halfway through his third glass. The frail pianist cursed at himself, before (in an attempt to collect himself) closing his eyes to listen to the didactic, octave-scaling music that Ferdinand Hiller was playing on the Pleyel piano in the corner of the salon. When a calm adagio piece ended, he found himself calm enough to open his eyes, only to see from across a clearing in the room made from all of the patrons crowding around said piano, a parlour mirror.
Chopin felt his heart lurch. He had serious self loathing issues when it came to his appearance. He was a short man, but not enough to be stereotyped as such, with curly brunette, almost black hair, a thin, feeble frame, and a feminine face. His hands, although with pianistic fingers, were also small in stature, and sometimes Chopin had a hard time reaching some of the notes he so longed to play.
After looking at himself, the Polish man decided to finish off his current glass of champagne so he could put the glass down on the table (he was tired of holding it) when a man came and sat down beside him, flopping on the sofa most unceremoniously. Chopin quivered. He was scared of people who did whatever they wanted to with no remorse, as this young man did.
The man gave him a cocky grin, and it was at this moment that Chopin realized that the man was not a man at all but a woman in a man's clothing. Chopin, in a most uncharacteristic moment, almost blushed. The woman was quite lovely. she had curly brown hair that went down to her chin, and pretty sea-colored eyes that sparkled when she grinned. The stranger was tall and lithe, with a round face. On that face, were her eyes, pretty as they were, an aquiline nose which signaled to Chopin that this woman had come from French descent, and below that nose were a pair of thin, soft lips that added color to her creamy, yet pale skin tone. They hid perfect teeth.
Noticing Chopin’s badly masked discomfort, the woman smiled in a less predatory fashion. Chopin eased up when he saw the stranger’s kind expression, idealized by the premature crow’s feet forming in the corners of those ocean-colored eyes.
“Are you alright?” the woman asked Chopin, after noticing the Polish man’s distress. Chopin nodded fervently, further emanating from him his own discomfort. The room suddenly began to swirl around him, blurred with people yelling, dancing and singing. And then this woman, this stranger, was only a hair’s breadth away from him. It was all to much to bear for the poor pianist.
The woman with the sparkling eyes noticed Chopin’s discomfort. She grabbed the trembling man by his gloved hand and led him to the grandiose patio outside Eugene’s back porch. Once he was out of the throngs of people, Chopin started hyperventilating, compensating for the myriad of breaths he didn’t notice he'd withheld. The stranger, who was clad in a three-piece suit tailor-fit to a woman's form, sipped idly at her champagne while watching Chopin with an amused look before asking, “Are you alright, dear friend?”
Chopin coughed and wheezed before managing to give the woman a nod.
“Go back to the party…I’ll be alright.” He managed to whisper in-between deep breaths.
“Certainly not,” the woman snorted. “The air here is not good for you at all. Let me treat you to something, and take you home.”
“No, I’m sure I’ll be quite alright—"
The woman smiled serenely at Chopin. “No, I insist.”
The stranger showed Chopin to a fancy, very Parisian restaurant, with exquisite, if not overly grandiose food. Chopin had been far too shy to speak to the woman that accompanied him, and who was now staring at him with fascination.
“I’m terribly sorry, I have not asked you your name yet, kind...madame.” Chopin blushed realizing his faux pas, before looking down sheepishly at the white napkin that occupied his lap. The woman let out a hearty laugh.
“Well! I’m just surprised you don’t know who I am!” she cackled. The woman held out one of her hands for Chopin to shake. Chopin took it with hesitation, and was startled at its warmth. The red painting his cheeks darkened.
“My name,” the woman began, pausing for dramatic emphasis, “Is George Sand.”
Chopin felt his blood go cold.
This kind, smiling, woman was the dubbed “man eater of Paris”?! There was no way. George Sand was supposed to be a mean-spirited harridan and vain peacock, parading everywhere with at least one or more ex-lovers on her arms and a cigar between her lips! She couldn’t be this charismatic and cooly-collected socialite! It didn’t compute with Chopin. Not one single bit.
“Is something the matter?” George Sand asked, looking at the poor man who was sinking down gradually into his chair.
“N-nothing!” Chopin forced a smile that almost shook on his face.
George let out a laugh that sounded like the ringing of bells to whomever heard it, except the now petrified Chopin.
“Well then sit up! Introduce yourself!”
Chopin composed himself. “I’m terribly sorry. My name is Frederic Chopin, and I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.” His voice almost faded into a whisper by the end of the short sentence. Sand smiled bemusedly. “Ah! The pianistic genuis about which I’ve heard such grand things! Why, I’m delighted. I had no idea that I would meet you under such humorous circumstances. It’s an honor.” George Sand stood up out of his chair and gave Chopin a deep bow.
Chopin did something that was a rare for him. He genuinely laughed. He laughed so tremendously hard that by the end he was coughing profusely but with little chuckles in-between. His face turned red, and his eyes normally so lifeless and terrified lit up. Seeing the look upon Chopin’s face made Sand feel like she’d just witnessed something special and life changing. She took it upon himself to laugh in harmony with her companion.
It was in that moment that they both knew that their lives would never be the same.