Hi guys! This is a little late as I was gone all weekend (Mumford&Sons VIP was amazeballs!!) But here we be! 😀 Enjoy, and as always the reviews are more than appreciated.
I woke up the next morning to a warm bedroom and a cold bed. Eric was gone, but the fire was lit and roaring, heating up the room nicely too. One of the windows had the shutters opened and I saw that a fresh blanket of soft snow had fell overnight, I was thankful to whoever it was that lit the fire. I looked around for something to wear, emptying my bags to find my layers for the day. I’d had chosen some decently thick thermals for under my skirt and blouse, I would be adding an indoor jacket too, I never thought I would ever get ‘used’ to the cold as Eric always insisted I would.
Just before I started to undress, he came through the door with a tray in hand.
“Good morning!” He smiled, coming right over leaving it down and leaning back to kiss me on the cheek he was beaming.
“Good morning, someone is happy?”
“You know what? I think I am. Things are good, a lot better than they’ve been lately, and I don’t know maybe I am just getting into the Christmas spirit or something.”
Christmas was not for another two weeks, but whatever floated his boat.
“The tree arrived today, for downstairs, I love decorating that thing, and I’ve done it every year since I got here.”
“You’re a fan of the holidays then?”
“A little,” He smiled wide again, before popping a slice of toast in his mouth. “There is breakfast here for you too, scrambled egg, toast, tea. I hope that is okay, Millie asked what you’d like and I guessed.”
I nodded, grabbing some toast myself before I took a seat in the middle of the bed.
“Technically, we should be eating this downstairs, but since Niall gets a tray to his room, I’ve been doing the same lately, it’s not like when I was depressed and wouldn’t go down though…” he talked as he took a seat on the bed too, me in my nightgown and him fully dressed in the dimly lit room.
“I lit the fire this morning, I thought you’d rather I do it than have Dawn in here, since she’s in fires this week.”
“You didn’t have to –“
“You’d rather her in here?” He asked his eyes wide.
“No, exactly, oh and I telephoned my friend again this morning, he can definitely employ her and will take her after Christmas if she’s willing to go, if she’s willing to stay that’s another thing. She won’t be their nanny, but those children run while… from what I heard.”
“It’s a pity of those kids…” I rolled my eyes, “The idea of her attempting compassion? I don’t think she could even if she tried.”
Then I remembered that she must have been able to at one point to get Eric in a place where he would even consider taking her to bed, never mind actually doing it. I decided to shut up and just eat then.
“I was hoping you’d come into town with me for lunch, perhaps? I have a few things I want to get and I thought it would be nice to go out for a while, maybe we could even eat out if you would like? I know Niall naps a lot these days, so it’s usually just me, but if we tell them we’re going out they won’t need to make a fuss?”
He asked opening up the remaining two shutters, then taking a seat on the windowsill.
“That might be nice, some fresh…freezing air, a nice lunch, sounds good.”
“Good, I know it’s your last day here for a bit, and I want it to be nice. Oh and I thought you should know Amelia is back today.”
That caught my interest right away.
He smiled at my excited reaction.
“She is… would you like her to come up?”
I nodded enthusiastically; I desperately wanted to talk with her. I got dressed quicker than even I thought possible, even if my hand still hurt a little. Eric very sweetly buttoned up the line of buttons on the back of my heavy wool skirt.
“Or you could go down there…” He offered and I knew what he was doing. I knew I would have to brave the cold winds coming off their icy exteriors at some point, but I would much rather that be later rather than sooner.
“Um…” I fidgeted with my braid before fixing it up in the mirror a little bit.
“I’ll go get her, its fine Sweetheart.” He said looked at me through the mirror before planting a kiss on my temple and heading downstairs.
I made myself useful, adding coal to the fire and making the bed, and opening the window for some fresh, admittedly freezing air.
Five or so minutes later, the door knocked and I ran to it in excitement.
She smiled at the other side, and I was sure I was beaming just as much. Wordlessly we threw our arms around each other and hugged before the jumping started, and then the squeezing.
“It is SO good to see you, Sookie!”
“You too! You too!” I said still squeezing before we parted, still smiling.
I dragged her by the hand inside and shut the door from any prying ears. We had a lot to catch up on!
“You look wonderful, really.” She said as we took a seat on the bed, both of us still smiling.
“I’m healing, that’s the main thing I think. You look wonderful too, new do?” She’d cut her hair a little shorter, and it was pin tucked up and under to keep it out of her way, the familiar uniform and cap in place, but I could still see.
“New do… new lots of things.” She said pushing her cap off with her left hand. There was a ring.
“Oh holy Jesus… Is that a wedding ring, Amelia?” I gasped and she giggled.
“Is it, it’s why I took a few days off… Sam and I got married.”
We hugged and I congratulated her, and we gushed a little on how lovely it was, that his dad came for the wedding since her family could not make it, and that they had their eye on a little house nearer the village.
I was in awe of how simple she made it sound.
It made me question if I was simply over complicating my situation because I was scared of if it was in fact that complicated.
“I spy a ring too, Sookie. Or should I say Mrs Northman.”
“Soon though, if the stars in his eyes are anything to go by.” Her description of him made me smile. I didn’t see it, but I hoped it was as happy as he made me.
“I knew there was something about you, when you came here. I knew there would be so many changes but I just was not sure what. Now I know, you were meant to come here, to bring him back to the land of the living.”
“You sure it wasn’t a money grabbing, digging for gold yank that you saw? Everyone else seems to think that’s what this is.”
She ‘tutted’ to herself.
“Sod them and their stupid ideas. We know the truth and they do too, even if they don’t want to admit it.”
“Enough about them tell me everything. How did he ask you? Where was it? Everything!”
I decided to focus on her, and he happiness for now, we had such little occasion for happy thoughts as friends, I was glad this was one of them. I hoped they’d be the first of many.
“And do you plan on quitting now that you’re married?”
I had hoped she wouldn’t but I understood fully if it was something she and Sam wanted now that they were wed, they had other things to concentrate on, and if it meant Ames leaving here,, I would just have to visit her instead.
“Well that was the plan.” She sighed. “But in truth, Sam is a driver for an Estate that requires very little of him these days. With his Lordship bedridden and Eric in charge of his own driving now with his own motorcar, there has been very little actual need for Sam’s skills. So he has taken a job on at the Tavern in town to make up a semi decent wage, but as it stands we just can’t afford to have only one income. So we decided that we’d hold on trying to have a family for now, but if it happens and it very well may happen…” she blushed and it was adorable. I wanted to pinch her little cheeks.
“But until then I suppose I’m lucky to have this job.”
“How would you feel about a promotion?” I tendered.
“A … what?”
“Well…” I sighed since this was more Eric’s idea than mine, but if it had to be anyone I’d rather it be her. “Eric has insisted that for the more ‘busy days’ I might be in need of a Ladies Maid. I mean, honestly, the absurdity of it all.” I laughed at my own words, because the irony was not lost on me.
“Wow…” She said a little stunned, I suppose the irony was not lost on her, either.
“I know it is beyond ridiculous… but if it has to be someone I’d rather be paying and spending my time with you than anyone else here.” I admitted with a smile and she smiled back.
“I’ll have to talk it over with Sam of course; apparently we have to talk all kinds of things over with each other now.”
The joys of a ring.
“But, I would love to. You know that I adore you, and the extra money could come in handy and I adore you…” she repeated with a grin, and then we hugged. Just at that Eric popped his head around the door.
“Oh…sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“It’s fine, what’s wrong?” I asked pulled away from Ames to go to the door.
“Nothing, I just wanted you to know that I was taking Thor for his walk, we might be a while… and hello Amelia.”
“Hello, Sir.” She answered back with a blush.
“That’s good; I mean you have your layers don’t you? Last thing any of us need is you catching a cold. Pam would kill you if you show up looking like the red nosed reindeer.” I laughed; it was funny because it was probably true. Her wedding portrait was very important to Pam, more so that it be ‘stunning’ than anything behind it.
“I have many layers and a thick coat. I was hoping to steal you away this afternoon for town?” He reminded me, and I nodded. “Okay, excellent…” He left, closing the door behind him, but a second later, he reappeared. He walked into the room, kissed me on the cheek and smiled. “I forgot we can do that now when people are around.
I blushed as Amelia giggled. I could do not much else other than shake my head at him as he left again.
“Fool…” I smiled to the closed door.
“A fool is love is a fool indeed.” Ames rhymed off with a grin. “You are both just adorable it is just sweet.”
I rolled my eyes playfully at her before I shut the door again.
With lunch over with, Sookie and I left the pub, and took to the streets. She had a hankering for the dinners that were served there and the talk of it all put me in the mood too. We had had a few glasses of wine too, and by the time we took our walk about town, we were feeling more than a little relaxed and happy. Of course, I was stopped a few times, the townspeople knew that Niall was ill, and wished to pass on their best thoughts to him via me, I obliged them of course, because it was a nice thing to know that he was well thought of in the town. I knew he would like to know as well, and I thought that it might have helped to booster his spirits if he knew people were hoping for his recovery. I knew in the previous weeks, his spirits had dampened considerable, and once the doctors started stopping by on the regular basis, to the point of having rooms made up for them, I knew he had lost what little hope he had in making a fully recovery. What I knew of his condition was that his heart was failing him, everything else was where it should be for someone his age, but his heart just was not cooperating. It was a shame, for when he was completely himself; Niall was a good man to be around. He made me feel welcome in his home, even before I had met Sophie and all that had even begun to happen, he was good to those he liked, and if he didn’t like you he just didn’t try. I knew for a time I filled the space of the son he lost, and maybe I still filled that space for him, if I was honest with myself, he filled the place my parents left too, at least for a time. We could never replace those we lost, but I knew there was no harm in form an attachment with another parental figure, nor was there harm in him seeing me as family, we could all use more family.
Sookie was not filling any space, she had created one all of her own, and as we reached the town center, where the Christmas stalls were all set up and the fair was well underway, I watched her browse, and then converse with those she met so easily with such grace. I only hope that she knew that she had created her own space in my life, because I also knew her insecurities of becoming a fully blown ‘lady’ was nagging at her mind constantly. I only wished to put all to rest, but how, I had no real idea.
“This is nice, I think I … we should get Amelia and Sam a wedding gift.” It was a porcelain set.
“I can’t believe they got married, I think there might be something in the air.” I smiled as she linked her arm with mine again, we got various looks of course, and the loud whispers, but I did not care, and it seemed, at least on the surface, that Sookie did not notice.
“I know there must be!” she smiled. “She said they’re hoping to rent the place by Boyle’s?”
“Next to the cobbler’s place?”
She nodded. I knew that little place, Niall owned it, and the previous tenant had left for America a few months before. It had been empty since.
“It needs a lot of work, and I think new furniture.”
“Oh.” Her face fell a little as we continued browsing the stalls. “I don’t think they want to spend a lot right now, or they can’t, at least not yet.”
“What if that was our present to them then?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I can get someone in to fix up what needs fixing for them and we could rent it to them with a healthy discount.”
She smiled. I would have said free, but I knew that Niall would kill me, and that was terrible business. I could not risk either, no matter how nice a couple they were.
“You would do that?”
“I’ll run it by Niall of course, but since he’s been pushing for me to take over more responsibility here, it could be the first of many.”
She leaned up and kissed me on the cheek, ignoring the many onlookers from the village that were obviously watching us with much interest. I overheard one saying that ‘the maid had certainly worked her way up quickly’, I chose to ignore it, even if it made my blood boil.
We reached the part of the fair with the games, and at Sookie’s insistence we took up the shooting range, if we hit the cork off the balancing balls, we won a prize. She went first, her bravery matching her smile, big and wide for everyone to see.
She hit the balls but they did not move, so she handed the toy gun to me with a disgruntled sigh.
I won her a small plush today, shaped like a rabbit.
“He’s cute, look at him.” She said holding the very small toy up to me, waving him at me almost comically. I could not help but laugh, as did she. I was glad our spirits were this high, after everything, small moments like this made it all worth it. I hoped we would have many moments like this in times to come. I was tired of drama, tired of pain and hurt, I just wanted us to get on with our lives and continue to be good people. Growing up my mother always said that good things happen to good people, I know now that was just simply optimism on her part.
However, I decided to try to adopt some of that optimism, I wanted good things for us from now on. I did not think there was much wrong with that.
“Dance with me.” I asked her, after we had stood watching the dancing that was happening on the makeshift dance floor under the tented roof, it was freezing but they were making their own heat through their enthusiastic ceilidh dancing and swapping partners.
“What? No! I don’t know how to do…that.” She pointed at the fast paced spinning and complicated looking steps.
“Neither do I, come on, we’ll make it up as we go along, no one will notice.”
I took her hand and took my winnings off her, laying it on the seats outside. Her hat almost flew off her head as we walked fast into the tent. I took her hands in mine, and we went for it.
We were awful, shameful even, but it was the most fun we would have outside of the bedroom since she had here.
We could not stop laughing, her face was pink with the cold and then with the spinning, we switched partners a few times. I ended up with Margaret Mullen first, she ran the bakery in town, then her sister Ellen, and finally a woman I didn’t know but who’s friendly smile and hearty laugh put me right at ease before I got back to Sookie, both of us breathless and happy.
It was a good day.
“Let’s get married soon?” She asked when we finally stopped laughing long enough to collect ourselves and compose ourselves a little better than we had been.
“Really? I thought you wanted to wait –“
“No.” She shook her head, smiling. “I thought I did but… I don’t anymore. I just want us to be… I do not want to wait to start our lives any more than we have. I want this…” she looked around, then back to me. “I want it all with you, and as soon as possible. Look how easy it was for Ames and Sam… they just snuck off and no one knew! I love that.”
She was beaming and I can honestly say I would never see anything more beautiful than her standing there, in the soft snow surrounding us, the town tinted with that sort of blue colouring the cold brought with it in winter, her rosy cheeks and bright smile.
“When?” I asked.
“I don’t know… as soon as we’re allowed to?” She giggled. “I’d marry you right now if I could.”
As we rounded the corner to where we had parked the car, I had an idea.
We drove out of the village, and about five minutes into the drive I took a unexpected turn.
I turned into the church grounds.
She looked at me shocked.
“Let’s just see how soon is as soon as possible, eh?” I asked as we stopped and she started laughing. “We can always ask.”
She looked to the church, and then to me.
“Are we seriously going to do this without even an appointment?”
“You want to see?”
She nodded enthusiastically.
I guess we were asking!