Rosaline entered unafraid. Unlike the night, the mausoleum was glazed in gold, the flaming light of a hundred candles playing across the ancient stone tombs.
In the centre of this silent palace of the dead lay two bodies, veiled in a silk like woven ice. Trails of petals ran across the floor, all leading to the pair framed by further flowers. Scarlet chrysanthemums, orchids like snow and roses; woven into their hair and pressed into their hands, they were encircled by thousands upon thousands of roses; each bouquet given as a gift of grief.
The families had taken their time to weep, and at dawn, the couple would be laid to rest together in their final bed. A day before, Rosaline would have thought it impossible for such a thing to happen, but now in the wake of the tragedy, all agreed that it was the only thing to do. They would be closer in death than they ever had in life.
How sad it was, she thought. The boy had relished barely a year of manhood, and the girl was on the cusp of 14; both were much younger than herself. Still, now they were forever frozen in their beauty.
Rosaline stared at the girl’s face, how peaceful it was. Her hair darker than night, her skin like moonlight. She stretched a hand out until her palm almost brushed the girl’s cheek, soft as velvet. She was beautiful. Of course, Romeo had been swept in by her grace.
Rosaline turned to look at his still features and felt her heart shudder. She remembered how he had followed her, acting out a part he had believed was love. That fine falsehood of youth.
But what did she know? Her heart and never been one to stir under another’s soft gaze. She saw nothing in men, and she knew she never would. But perhaps the world had made her like this, this world where marriages were formed for wealth instead of people.
Her hand drifted to run over the girl’s hair, a shadow beneath the veil of ice. Maybe if Romeo had lived for more years, he would have found that his passion was brief, a burst of flame soon to falter. And the girl? What would her feelings have mattered if she came to find they were not true. She had signed herself away in a storm of fire, a contract near impossible to escape.
At least she died in love, Rosaline found herself thinking.
She paused at this. Her gaze slid to the hands, the fingers entwined.
Like their beauty, so was their blaze of passion frozen in time, never to extinguish. A blaze that matched their families’ hate.
Rosaline drew away, her gaze flicking over the crest at the lover’s feet. The elaborate letters of ‘M’ and ‘C’ interlaced into one. With a smile bitter on her lips, she turned and left the mausoleum, leaving Juliet and her Romeo.