Index > Ongoing Stories > Patience and Bullen Dream of Adventure

Patience and Bullen Dream of Adventure

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penelope_stout ((This scene is a collaboration between the players of Patience Sharrington and James Bullen. Implied sex prior to the scene.))

This was the third time they’d been together, and every time feels like something new. Bullen does not think this will ever grow old. Now though, since she has finally agreed to stay he stokes the fire in his bedroom while she reclines on his bed, before returning to her.

Patience lays back and the pillows and sheets smell like him. She nestles her face into it, wanting to wrap herself up and fall asleep. "Do you know you spoke French this time," she says casually, twisting a bit of blanket around her hand.

Running one hand up and down her chest and stomach, he smiles. He brings his other hand up to pull the pins from her hair, burying his face in it for a moment when it falls. "French, you say? Well, I suppose it is no surprise at this point that you manage to draw out all the languages I know. Do tell me if I speak one I /don't/ know though. That would be a feat to be wondered at."

She rests her hand over his, following as he trails up and down her body. She should want to leave, but she does not. This is better than being home, and she is decided on staying. They have an agreement. She laughs at the absurdity of it all. The languages, the love making. "What made you decide to learn so many?" She asks. Her voice is quiet, and she thinks she could very likely fall asleep easily like this. She takes his hand and brings it to her lips to press a kiss to his knuckles.

He laughs, pressing a kiss into her shoulder. He is glad she has decided to stay without him having to practically beg her. It is nice to know that she /wants/ to be here. He isn't even sure it meets the terms of their agreement. "Well, it started with mother believing that everyone should know at least French and Italian - in addition to English of course. She is not wrong by the way, it is a boon to know French especially." He pauses, trying to think of all the reasons he had decided to learn what he did. "I suppose I fell in love with knowing that there are things in other languages that do not translate directly. And to know those things, and to understand them, one must be fluent in those languages, to speak them as a native speaker of the language would." He falls silent, burying his face in her shoulder with a near silent laugh. "And you've likely fallen asleep listening to me ramble on about it."

It must be wonderful having something that one is so passionate about, so enraptured with. Patience is not sure she has a single thing like it. Hearing him talk of language is inspiring. "Far from it," she says, pushing back against him. "I like it when you ramble." She turns so she can face him and hooks a leg over him. She finds that she truly wants to get to know him. It should send her running, but it doesn't, not today at least. She runs her hand across his chest gently. "You must truly love it to have spent so much time in becoming fluent. I do not think I have ever had dedication to anything."

"I am sure you will grow weary of it if you stay around long enough." Saying this makes him wonder how long she /will/ stay around, which causes him to pull her a bit closer. The idea, even after so few days, of her deciding not to spend time with him anymore makes him more unhappy than he could have expected. He lowers his mouth to hers for a moment before pulling away. "I do love it. I am certain there must have been /something/ you were dedicated to. Even if it was when you were a child. I am convinced everyone has something at some point. Be it horses or archery or fashion or anything else."

Whatever the agreement is between them, she knows after a while she will leave. She is too easily bored, and this cannot last. It will not. And the thought that there could be something lasting seems ludicrous. She does not tell him that just yet, and lets the topic slide away. Instead, she shakes her head. "I do not let myself become dedicated. I strive to be completely disenchanted by everything," she says, with a small smile, as she is mostly teasing him. "Did you always want to be a tutor?"

"A shame, not to be in love with /something/." He shakes his head and sighs. He cannot imagine not having a passion for something. It would make life so dull. He wonders if it makes her unhappy to be so disenchanted by everything she engages in. "No, it was something my parents suggested after I refused to go into the church as my father did. I am sure it disappointed them that I didn't. They still mention it from time to time." He tries to remember what he wanted to be before deciding upon being a tutor. "I wanted to be an explorer. To travel to India and the West Indies and any other exotic place I could think of. Mother was nearly apoplectic when I told her that, and Father chastised me for such a ridiculous notion."

She frowns because she has allowed herself to be shallow and vapid for so long she wonders what it might be to give her devotion to something. Probably, she thinks, it would be quite exhausting. But the light in his eyes makes her smile. "I do not see you as a clergy man," she tells him, laughing. "I could see you as a wild explorer though." She frowns and reaches up to kiss him. She knows what it is like to be reduced to a parent's wishes. "And knowing languages would certainly help you in your travels. Maybe you would pick up more."

"Indeed, I would make a poor clergy man." He pauses and then laughs. "Especially since meeting you." Returning her kiss, he sighs and looks down at her with a wistful smile. "But an explorer? It would be the adventure of two lifetimes. Who knows how many languages I might learn then." He runs a hand lightly down her back, something that would likely tickle. "It is a shame ladies are not allowed the same dreams as men. What do you think you might have done if you were?"

"Yes, I do not think this would be kindly looked at within the church." She finds herself getting mad that he is not off in some balmy country, sweating with native people and surrounded by beauty and flowers. She sits up and looks at him seriously. "If I were a man, I would probably kill my brother for the inheritance and live my life as a drunken rake," she tells him, off handed. She does not really know what she might do. She looks down at him and takes his head into her lap. "You still could, you know, be an explorer." She tilts her head to look at him seriously. "It is not as if you have any real ties here, why not just sell all you have and take to India! Or Jamaica or... /anywhere/."

"I suppose, though it may sound surprising, that that could be rather fun. Well, aside from the killing. But I am sure, as a woman, the idea of having your freedom would be tantalizing." He lays his head in her lap with a happy sigh and looks up at her with a smile that turns into a bit of a frown. "No, I could not leave now. My parents are in advanced years and I could not leave them now. It is hard enough being this far away from them. I could not away to another country. I am content here with my position at Mrs. Hatch's and I am sure that the longer I stay the more friends I will make."

"I consider myself lucky, James. Many women have it much harder than I. I can at least handle my brother if I wish." Despite everything, she does not allow herself to be kept as some sort of pretty thing. But it is an unfortunate truth that women are not free. It was obvious to her the moment her father left her and her mother destitute. "I think," she starts, running her fingers through his hair gently. "That you should not resign yourself to being content. If you wish for an adventure, you should look for one." She smiles, eyes bright. "Maybe not now, but one day?"

"But are you happy? Content? I should not think being able to handle your brother would matter very much if you are still unhappy with your life." He closes his eyes as she runs her fingers through his hair, sighing deeply. For some reason, he is driven to kiss her forehead, and sits up to do so before dipping his mouth to her lips for a brief kiss. "Contentment is more than most have. Perhaps someday I will travel, when things have settled down on the Continent, but for now, all the adventure I need is you. You are more excitement than I thought to expect when I came here." He laughs, reaching down to kiss her again, his hands pulling her closer.

She frowns. "I suppose I do not let myself think much of it. I am--I am alright. At the very least." She is not unhappy, but perhaps she is not happy, not completely. She is not sure what that would feel like. She stretches back out and kisses him. His words ring out in her ears and she feels her face heat up. "You're just saying that because I warm your bed." She leans over to bite at his ear. However, she truly wishes he could have the adventure he wants. She would hate for contentment to be it for him.

"You deserve more than that, Patience. So much more than that." He runs his fingers through her hair, marveling at its color and how silky it is against his hand. When she kisses him though, all the thoughts fly from his mind. Would this be how it always is, at least until she leaves for the last time, whenever that might be? "I /say/ that because you are funny and clever and yes, you are a lovely sight and a welcome presence in my bed. But there is more to it than that even if I cannot think of the right words to say it. You keep me on my toes. You make me into something more than what I've always been told I should be, all I ever /could/ be."

He is so nice. Sometimes she wants to tell him off for the words he says to her. But these are not platitudes of a satisfied lover, she feels he may truly mean what he says. That thought makes her chest tighten in uncertainty. "I do not mind helping you to transcend what your parents may have told you to be, so long as I do not ruin you." She likes him the way he is. And strangely enough, realizing that she does /like/ him makes her laugh. It has been a long time since she has thought of anyone as someone she might consider befriending for reasons other than her own self destruction. "I feel the same, you know. If you were anyone else I might have kept my word and never looked your way again." She pouts, thinking about it. "Actually, if you were anyone else I do not think I would have made the effort to give my word on that regard."

"Transformation is not ruination, I do not think." He looks up at her with a small smile, as if reassuring her that though he may change a little, he will still always be himself. Truly, he does not think she could ruin him, only do what she said: transcend what he was expected to be, pushed into being. His kindness is not something he would seek to change, but his niceness? It is fine, but it cannot continue to be at the expense of his own happiness. He is not sure why she laughs now, but he cannot help but join her, shaking his head. "I am glad you did not keep your word, though I am not sure I understand why you would have even given your word on such a thing if you did think so much of me."

Patience curls closer to him, resting her head on his chest. "I definitely think a clergy man may disagree. But I am glad you do not." This is too easy and too open. There is a part of her that wants to go, that wants to leave and be done with their agreement. But then she would have almost nothing in this little village. "Perhaps that is /why/." She does not add that she was terrified by the thoughts that had run through her head, of how no one had ever looked at her with such reverence, at how she could not let herself be heartless around him. She does not say that she thinks he would make someone quite happy someday, even if all of those thoughts do cross her mind. Instead she tugs at a loose thread on the bed. "I am still not sure why you did not just let me go. It would have been a lot easier for us both," she chides.

"It is a good thing I am not a clergy man then, is it not? If I were, everything would be different. It is unlikely we would have even met, and /this/ could never have happened. There would have been no agreements, no fighting over whether you leave, none of that. And I am glad, in a way, for it all." He notices a change her expression, though he cannot put his finger on what it might be. He frowns, hoping she has not suddenly begun having second thoughts. "Easy is dull. I am tired of dull. And you are as far from dull as one could possibly get." He grins playfully at her, reaching out to touch her cheek.

She smiles and rolls her eyes. "I think you may be smitten with me, Mr. Bullen," she teases adopting a mockingly proper tone. However the smile on her face is real. She is glad for it all too. Even if she has no idea what she is doing, what the point of an agreement with him is. The only thing she knows is that, right now, she wants him, and she wants to spend time with him. And aside from damned society, why should she not? As if to answer her own question, or maybe to respond to his statement, she kisses him, slow and open mouthed, before pulling back. "Considering how often you have surprised me, I can honestly say, you are far from dull as well."

"I think every man who has ever met you, even for the briefest of moments, must be smitten with you. Though, I think I have an edge on them, considering that if anyone has seen anything close to the /real/ you, I must have." He kisses her back, his hands tangled in her hair, prolonging it until he's out of breath and has to pull away. "I have surprised you?" he asks after a moment, tilting his head to one side like a confused bird. "And how have I done that? Is it my temper?" He moves to the head of the bed, and leans against the headboard, tugging at her hand so she will lay against his chest.

She is quite pleased by his answer, and finds herself realizing how true it is. She is far from her adopted self when she is around him. She is angry and happy and silly and passionate and safe. She does not hide herself. Perhaps because he does not seem willing to let her hide. She shifts herself so she can lean against him. She folds her hands under her head as she rests on him. "You surprise me because you are so much more than you seem, and you are easy to be around because of it. And because I find myself wishing to learn more and more about you." She laughs. "The temper was surprising as well. But you seem to have a lot built up behind the face of nice Mr. Bullen." She kisses his shoulder.

"I think that actually surprises me too. I had forgotten there was more to me than the nice tutor, Mr. Bullen, rather than what I am around you. Granted, the temper would never have come out if you had not acted the way you did. I prefer you this way, most definitely." He kisses the top of her head, and takes one of her hands, lacing his fingers through hers. "What is it you would like to learn more about? I am an open book. At least, for you I will be. I /trust/ you." His eyes grow wide as he realizes that there are few people he has ever trusted enough to be more than what he appears, more than what he has been raised to be. Even his parents have likely forgotten who he truly is beneath his facade.

"The Sharringtons are cursed with a temper and an ability to bring it out in others," she laughs, a small, soft noise against his skin. He says he trusts her, and that makes her pause. Patience is not used to being trusted, or trusting, it seems a big thing to say. "Alright," she says. "Is it just your parents and you? Do you have any brothers or sisters?" She asks, not sure really what to ask, not now that he has opened himself up to her. She is not sure what she might ask, nor what she might find when and if she does.

"I would not call a temper a curse, necessarily. Only something to be aware of when interacting with others. A temper is alright until it hurts someone else." He wishes his parents had said the same thing to him as a child instead of chiding him and saying that one must tightly control one's temper or be looked down upon by any who are unlucky enough to see it. That alone had quashed any anger he might have felt in the years since then. He is so drawn into his own thoughts that he nearly misses her question. "I am an only child. My parents were convinced they would never have children, but then I came along. They called me their miracle. I suppose it was that designation that made me so eager to please them. A miracle should not disappoint, you see."

She nods, supposing he is right. She knows she has hurt people in the past, just as her brother has, her father, perhaps she might be more inclined to consider what she does when losing her temper. Or perhaps not. As he tells her of his past she leans up and kisses the corner of his mouth. "That must have been a lot in your shoulders," she says. She could not imagine having to be perfect to please a parent. Her mother is too sick to truly even realize, and her father did not care as long as he could use her. "And that is why you are not an explorer." It is making sense to her now, like he is a puzzle coming together bit by bit.

"It was not so bad." He shrugs, looking away from her to the fire. "It was not that they did not love me. They do. Only, how /I/ am reflects back on /them/. As a vicar, my father's reputation is even more important than mine." He looks down at her and smiles, kissing her gently. "Thankfully, there is not much I can do here to ruin that reputation as long as I am careful. They are very proud of me." She isn't wrong about the weight on his shoulders, but he is not ready, yet, to share how much it does weigh on him. "And yes, that is why I am not an explorer. It was a child's dream anyway. Being a tutor is much more realistic."

"Of course. Well, your reputation seems to be nothing but sparkling, they should be proud," she says. "Though, that should not have anything to do with upholding a good reputation and kind smile." She knows how important reputations can be, and how those reputations affect family. "I understand that though. Thomas cares more about how my dalliances might affect him than what it could mean for me," she admits. "You know what, I say we should tell everyone to hang and go to India." She looks up a teasing glint in her eyes.

"Your brother seems to be a selfish wretch. He must be very unhappy if all he worries about is how someone else's choices impact him. I would respect him more if he worried about you rather than himself." He shakes his head, running his fingers across her cheek and following them with kisses. "I will happily run away to India as long as you come with me. Reputation likely means far less there, and they need not know anything about us. We could have new personas that only follow us as far as the next place we go." He is of course only joking. He could not leave his parents. Even this far away he worries how he could get home in time should something terrible happen. This worry is reflected in his eyes, though he quickly covers it with a playful smirk.

"Thomas is the worst sort. But I owe him everything," she says bitterly. "I do not think he could be happy if it punched him in the face." He had been drinking more often as well, likely seeking out places to gamble now that it is the only vice he can truly satisfy in such a place. She prefers that. At least he is not home to yell at her. She smiles at the thought. "Yes. And we will travel the world and make love in a jungle and not care about this blasted, little country." She looks at him and sees something cross his face for a moment. She wants to ask, but she is not sure what it is she should ask. "If only it were so easy," she adds instead.

"I can punch him in the face, if you think it would help." He laughs a little as he says this, realizing that he probably /couldn't/ punch her brother in the face, but after knowing all that Patience has been through, he certainly wishes to. He cannot help but think that so much of Patience's feigned cruelty and fickleness is the fault of her brother. "Traveling the world and making love in each place sounds like the best sort of way to spend one's life. And likely much warmer, unless we travel to the Arctic to see what it holds. But you are right, nothing is as easy as I wish that could be. We would be free as the birds to roam as we pleased. I suppose we will have to make do here, and pretend that my little house is all the places we would rather be."

She laughs loudly, tossing her head back at the very notion. "I would rather you did not. He's fond of fighting dirty. And I like your face as it is." Thomas would chew him up and spit him out. Her brother fought much differently than a gentleman should, and she did not fancy seeing James take her brother on, no matter how flattering. "He would not hurt me though. You he would have no qualms about." Her eyes slide closed as she thinks about their fantasy. She would be happy to go, even to the Arctic, but it is just that, fantasy. "Well, where shall we go first? What would be your choice?"

"I will not fight him then, but only because you ask me not to." He loves it when she laughs like that, with abandon and true happiness. It warms his heart to realize that /he/ is the reason she laughs, at least on this night. And he cannot help but laugh himself when she does. "Where shall we go? To the heart of the jungle in India I think. We shall see tigers and monkeys, seek out the wise men that live there who can tell us the secret to happiness." The secret, he thinks, lies right here in this room, in his arms. At least for as long as she stays. And he will not take such a thing for granted. "And where, my lady, would you prefer to go? Jamaica? South America? The Arctic?"

She did not really think he would fight her brother, but now there is a strange sense if worry. Thomas would not be happy if he finds out she has been warming someone's bed, and he already suspects such. "Yes," she agrees. "I think that would be a good first stop. Then we can sail to the West Indies. But we will of course be shipwrecked on an island where you must act as translator with the natives," she says gleefully. "They will try to make me their queen of course."

"Oh, we're going to be shipwrecked are we? It will be a good thing you have me there then, won't it?" He laughs, and trails his fingers down her side, hoping to make her giggle and squirm. "I suppose that if you are to be their queen then that means I shall not have to defend your honor from them." This fantasy of theirs is becoming something he dearly wishes he could have. He has not dreamed of such things since he was a child, although even then he had always dreamed of doing it alone. The idea of sharing it with someone makes it even more tantalizing. Of course, it is a far out dream that will never come to pass, but for now he will shove that from his thoughts. "Though, perhaps you shall have to defend /me/ from /them/! What a sight that will be."

She laughs and pulls him close. This is still, and every bit of it makes her happy. She does not want to think of leaving this little cloud of imagination and endless things that will not come to pass. Out of this room, is reality, and she is not interested in that right now. "I will be quite grateful for your assistance, but once I am queen I will be at liberty to do what I want with you." She smiles wide, leaning in to kiss him a few times, quick and chaste on the mouth. "Though I would imagine they have not seen many men so handsome as you. The natives will probably try to make you their slave." She bites her lip grinning wicked. "I would protect you, but we will have to leave immediately and set off for the Americas, since we offended them so." Her chest is tight and she realizes it is because she is bloody /happy/ to be sitting here teasing and fantasizing with him. She knows that it would never happen. Even if he were to take off on an adventure, she knows he could not bring her. But in truth it is not the words making her happy, not the words at all.

"Oh, will you now? I suppose if I am to be your subject I must get used to such treatment. I do hope you will be a kind and benevolent ruler." This teasing, this easiness between them, it is not something he had ever envisioned himself having. Even were he to marry, though he hopes for love, he knows it is not often that a husband and wife are also /friends/. Not that he thinks Patience would ever deign to marry him. She likely deserves better than he can offer anyway. Being a tutor did not come with the best income, after all. "I shall be grateful for your protection, for I do not think I would make a very good slave for anyone but you. The Americas could be a whole new adventure though, so it will not be so bad to have to leave. Would you prefer South or North America? I speak neither Spanish nor Portuguese, so we might wander into trouble if we are not careful. I shall have to learn quickly if I want to keep us from being stoned by the locals."

"I will be just and stern, but I will not have enough time to begin my reign of terror as we are forced to leave, of course." She is not sure when the last time she really just talked to someone was. Certainly not since coming to Derbyshire--not since word began of her indiscretions in London. In all honestly, probably before this. She feels real around him. She has felt like nothing more than a doll for so long, numb to feelings, pretty to look at, and fake. Now, she is here, teasing him and kissing him and planning adventures that can never happen. She wonders why she ever wanted to leave, why she was so stupid to run away in the first place. But then she remembers that it is not just about this silly fantasy, and the real world is too close and too cold for this to be anything more than fantasy. All of it. She is frowning now, but she responds. "Anywhere will do. Just not here. I will risk being stoned."

He notes the frown, sighing as he wonders what he might have said or done to cause it. Unsure of how to cheer her, he leans down to kiss her once before making her look at him. "Patience, I know things seem terrible here, and I know we have an agreement, but you know that if you need anything -- anything at all -- I will always be at your disposal. Even if --when-- this comes to an end. You may always think of me as a friend. You understand that, right?" He hates that the lighthearted air has gone out of the room, but she had become so suddenly unhappy that he did not know what else to do or say.

She wishes she could turn time back just a few moments so she can take back her frown. She ruins everything, she always does. She liked pretending, and now the harshness of reality is back. Even so, his words are comforting. She knows he means them. And in a way, she understands that she can think of him as a friend, no matter what their arrangement is. "You might think differently when this ends, James," she tells him, then shakes her head. "But I thank you. It means a lot to hear that, honestly." She is sorely lacking in friends. It is good to have a least someone who might be on her side. She is not sure what that might mean for such an agreement as theirs, but she chooses not to think on it. She has already broken their imagined adventures, she does not want to question friendship when it is offered.

"Will you believe me if I promise you I will not?" He shifts so that they both are sitting upright and facing one another. His offer of assistance in anything she might need is honest, and he means it when he says that regardless of the status of things between them he will be there for her in any way she might need it. Cupping her cheek, he kisses her forehead. "I am not so stupid as to believe that this will last forever. You and I have an agreement and I respect you enough to adhere to that agreement. Should you change your mind about it, then we will face that when the time comes. Regardless of that, as I have said, you have a friend in me."

She looks at him, her face blank as she searches his face before she nods. It is enough for now. If he is willing to give that to her, she will not doubt it. He kisses her forehead and she allows herself to smile. "Very well, I believe you," she says, and she does. Because right now he has not given her a reason to think otherwise. And she feels that she truly can open up to him, to talk to him. That is not something she is used to in the least. She sighs and leans into him. "You know I am not the only one who can change their mind," she adds quietly. She is easily bored, she is quick to change, but it does not mean that he may not do the same. And she knows too well that this arrangement is not made to last. She just is not sure who may be the one ending it.

His face lights up in a bright smile in response to hers, relief flooding him that perhaps everything will be alright after all. "Good." He does so hate to see her unhappy. In fact, he realizes there is little he would not do to see her genuinely smiling and teasing. Even if it is only for a few days, or weeks, it is enough to see her smiling /now/ even if it is all he can have of her. He is not so stupid as to forget that every moment is one that is stolen from a world that would not see them together if it had a choice. "I know. And perhaps I will. But I do not see myself deciding this is not enough, or that it is somehow too much. No, I am more than happy to stay exactly as we are for as long as you will allow it."

He says this now. He says he will let this go one day. She hardly believes him, but he seems so sure when he says it She will have to take it for now. At the very least, it comforts her to know that she might still have some control over what they are doing. "I should not allow it at all," she chides, despite this, she is smiling. If she was anyone else, none of this would have transpired. "It would be so much easier if we /could/ stay exactly as we are. Right here, hidden in your room." She turns momentarily serious. "There would be far less of a chance of being caught. And I would never have to wear damned clothes," she adds.

If she weren't smiling he would frown at her remark, but she is and so he raises an eyebrow instead. "But you have, regardless of what your best judgement may be." Then, of course, she does become serious, and he sighs. "I wish that too, for it would indeed be worlds easier. But we cannot. I would be missed and so would you. I would rather your brother not come knocking on my door looking to defend your honor." He smiles and kisses the corner of her mouth. "I am not too worried about being caught, but it might be wise to begin using my back door instead. You can simply let yourself in rather than waiting for me to open the door. It will lessen your chances of being seen." He pauses and frowns. "Though I do wish we did not have to be so clandestine about it."

"Yes. I have." She agrees. "And I do not have any intention of stopping it now." Being here with him makes the cold loneliness of the rest of the village seem to not matter. She laughs. "Right. And I would not wish for Mrs. Hatch to come searching for you." She pulls him in and kisses him again. His suggestion makes sense. And strangely enough, it makes her feel at ease. If she is to continue, and she /is/ going to continue, discretion is of the utmost importance. She does not wish Thomas to find out, especially if there is to be wandering eyes. "There's no way around clandestine, unfortunately. But I don't mind being your secret mistress sneaking in the back door." She laughs.

"I am gladdened to hear it." His eyes dance with amusement, but in the back of his mind is relief. "Mrs. Hatch would certainly, ardently disapprove of this. I cannot bring myself to care beyond making sure she does not find out so I may stay in Tyrehampton and with you." He kisses her back, running his hand down her throat and over her collarbone before coming back up to rest at the nape of her neck to hold her there. The idea of having /her/ as his secret mistress sends a thrill through him, though he does not understand why. He would much prefer them being able to be out in the open, but the only possible way that could happen would be if they married. He knows Patience well enough to know even a whisper of that would send her running. And it may just send him running as well. No, he will keep her as his mistress, and be happy for even that. "Then I shall relish having you when I can, and never breathe a word of it otherwise. It shall be a thrilling secret to have."

Whatever small, mean little voice which lives inside her mind is silent. And she is glad of it. This makes her happy, and she sees it makes him happy too. There is no reason to run from it, or complicate it. He knows who she is, and that is a comfort. She pulls him closer into her and rests her forehead on his. She likes the thought of secrets. There is something dangerous and exciting in it. And this time she cares what might happen if they are found out, which only serves to exhilarate her more.

He sighs happily, leaning his face so he can capture her mouth, kissing her long and deep as if to drink her in. Would he ever grow weary of her? Somehow he cannot imagine that happening. Knowing that he sees through her facade to the core of who she is, understanding why she wears the mask she does, it feels like a seed of hope in his heart. Hope that maybe there can be something more than what they are now. He reminds himself how unlikely that is, resolving to be happy in each moment and think no further than the present when he is with her. "What is it you would like to do now? I suppose we could /read/ together." He looks at her and laughs, thinking of how they had come to their agreement in the library.

His kisses are intoxicating, even when they are not filled with want and need, they hold something else. She thinks she could lazily kiss him forever, taste him, feel the movement of his lips. She makes a content noise in the back of her throat as he pulls back. Her heart skips a beat at the idea of reading with him. "I would like that," she agrees then sits up. "We are talking about actual reading, right?" She laughs. "Because our conversation in the library was quite ambiguous."

"It was ambiguous indeed." He laughs again, shaking his head and pulling her into another kiss. "Yet somehow we both knew exactly what the other was saying. It is almost as if we speak the same language. One that no one else speaks." He likes this idea for it makes what they share that much more precious to him. Which, he realizes, is very dangerous territory when he knows she could change her mind at any second. "But yes, actual reading. I do still have that copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Or, if you prefer, I have a personal copy of Sappho's poetry. I shall leave the choice in your capable hands." He thinks for a moment, tilting his head to one side. "Though, it does mean I shall have to go downstairs to retrieve them."

"A new language for your resume then?" She asks, quite pleased with the idea. “I suppose we must continue speaking it if we are to meet in public." She would be happy to talk of literature and the like when no one might know what that truly mean. She wraps her arms around him in a tight embrace for a moment before releasing him. "Shakespeare then. I feel he is our old friend. That is, only if you are willing to leave the bed. I do not think I would be willing." It is warm, and comfortable, and the rest of the house seems so empty in comparison.

"A wonderful idea, though I doubt I could explain to Mrs. Hatch where I learned such a coded language. I suppose we must keep it between us alone. After all, we would surely be caught if everyone knew we were speaking a special language. Then they could translate and would likely be shocked." He trails his fingers down her back as she holds him tightly. "I do not /wish/ to leave the bed, but if keeping you entertained with Shakespeare entices you to stay then I will happily venture forth to retrieve it. Do not move a muscle." He reluctantly climbs out of bed, shivering as he leaves the warmth they shared, and gives her one last look before heading downstairs to retrieve the book she decided on. When he returns he is covered with goosebumps. "The fire has nearly gone out down there. Quite chilly."

She laughs. "It is a good thing we are the only ones who can speak it. I would not wish to offend anyone, or reveal ourselves." She makes a noise of protest when he leaves the bed. While he is gone, she shifts, pulling the blankets around herself. The lack of his warmth makes her shiver, though the room itself is warm from the fire. She lays back and props her head up as she waits for James to return. It is easy to wish this would never end. When he comes back she pushes the blanket back and gestures for him. "Well come here, it's warm in bed." She waits for him to settle in next to her before wrapping herself around his air chilled body.

He happily climbs back into bed with the book, curling around her and accidentally putting his feet against her warm leg. "Oof, sorry." Once they've settled and he's warmed himself a little, he pushes away from her and moves up against the headboard again, opening the book. "I suppose we should start at the beginning. Have you read it before?" He flips a couple of pages until he reaches the beginning of the play, his eyes scanning over the words. "I must admit that I failed to pay close enough attention to it when I took my class on Shakespeare. It will be like reading it the first time."

She squeals at his cold feet and rolls away for a second before sitting up and positioning herself next to him. "Yes. The beginning, I should think." She leans sideways against him and rests her head on his shoulder. "I read it years ago. But I expect it will be different reading it with you," she tells him. Her words hold more meaning than she intends for them to. She lets her eyes slide closed and she laces her fingers in his. "You first. I quite like to hear you read."

He makes a happy humming sound as she leans against him and clasps their hands together. When he arrived in Tyrehampton, the last thing he could ever have expected was to have a woman in his bed, listening to him read Shakespeare. And it warms him more than any fire to realize how very much he wants her here. And that she /wants/ to be here. Settling in, he runs his finger down the page, and glances at her once before beginning. "Athens. The palace of Theseus." He reads out every entrance and exit, makes sure she knows who speaks, and tries to read it as dramatically as he may, even if it is a little overdone. Every so often he pauses, having to laugh at how silly he must sound.

His voice soothes her and she finds herself relaxing listening to his voice. She manages to laugh at a few points, a soft exhale of air, as he speaks many different parts. She does not want this to end. Right now, at least, she is happy to be in the present and ignore right now for as long as she can. She thinks, in her half asleep mind, that she could be very content drifting off listening to him read Shakespeare for a long time.

The longer he reads, the sleepier he gets. Patience's warm, drowsy body against his is enough to lull him into sleep and it is all he can do not to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence. He pauses long enough to yawn and run a hand down her arm, looking down at her to see if she's fallen asleep herself. She seems to be awake though, or at least half-awake, so he keeps reading, though he has forgotten in his drowsy state to continue with the voices. Finally, he sighs and sets the book aside on the table beside his bed. "Patience," he whispers, not wanting to disturb the sleepy room, "I cannot keep reading. I am drifting off between parts. Will you stay again?"

She smiles and nods, her eyes peeking open just to look at him reassuringly. "I can stay. But we should not make a habit of it," she whispers. She knows that she risks waking up after Thomas has noticed her absence. If she comes in and Thomas catches her, she worries of what may happen. She shakes her head, letting those thoughts drift from her mind. This can be the last time she stays the night. Even if she is just telling herself that. "But I will stay tonight, if you will have me?"

"Of course I will have you. As many times as you think it might be safe." He laughs quietly, a low rumble in his chest, as he scoots down in the bed, pulling her with him and enfolding her in his arms. It feels as if his arms had always been meant to be around her, as if she was formed to fit perfectly in his embrace. He reminds himself once again that this is temporary. She could change her mind at any moment. In any case, he sighs and turns onto his side so he can curl around her, kissing her one last time before they fall asleep. "Thank you for staying." This comes out as a sleepy murmur, barely heard above the crackle of the fire.

She hardly hears his words of thanks as she presses against him, her eyes still closed. She wants to wrap herself in the warmth of his bed, of his arms. The kiss he pressed to her lips still tingles as she starts to drift off completely. She murmurs something, probably nonsense, but she means to thank him, for having her, for letting her be like this around him. She vaguely is aware she may not have conveyed such a thing as sleep finally claims her.


Posted 2 weeks ago

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