A Blizzard Falls on Tyrhampton
(( This is one of several unlocked scenes detailing the secret affair between Adam Wilson and Persephone Callahan. It was written and takes place in late March, a few days after the pair kissed. This is primarily a collaboration between myself and xMayberry but there were some other players who participated in the blizzard last spring whose interactions with Adam I saved. So you'll see some bonus collab from Mr. Stanton, Mr. Graves, Heph, and a yet-unwed Grizella and Earnest. <3 This also takes place around the time Hugh Washington and Cadi O'Shea got engaged, and there are some rather passionate objections to that from Seph.
Content warning for strong language, albeit starred out. ))
It took only a few days for Adam to awake to another note slipped under his door. This one too was simple and short.
Mister Adam,If you are as massive an idiot as I am, and I venture that you are, you will be beneath the oak at 8 o’clock this evening. I have a bottle of whiskey and it would be irresponsible to keep it to myself.P.C.
He paused, and read the note a second time. Before he could convince himself he shouldn’t go, a shrill whistle past the window disrupted his thoughts. Startled, he turned and crossed the room to examine the noise’s source. There he found that the ground outside had already been blanketed with snow and the howling wind carried more down with it, with no signs of stopping. He was a little disappointed to see the weather had made his choice for him, and crawled back into bed.
Adam spent the better part of his day in his room, despite hearing a great deal of activity downstairs. Surely anyone who had been outside when the blizzard hit would have sought shelter in the nearest building. After several hours, however, his protesting stomach encouraged him to descend to the first floor of the house.
Hearing some commotion, he poked his head into the parlor, where a number of people have busied themselves about Mr. Stanton - apparently caught out in the storm and now half frozen. A gaunt gentlemen with haunting dark eyes appeared behind him and spoke up.
“Excuse me, sir. Men are to go to the music room and women to the main parlor when ready to retire. All mixed and awake persons are to stay here in the foyer. Can you spread the news? I am rather exhausted and shall turn in as soon as possible.”
“Er, thank you, sir, but I have a room. I board here,” Adam responded.
“You are very lucky, sir. I hope you do not freeze in the night. I believe the idea is to store up body heat and save the firewood for the main fireplaces. But good luck, should you decide to return to the dark and solitude of your room. Good night.”
The man bowed and disappeared into the music room.
Adam raised a brow after him. What an odd, chilling person. He entered the parlor and approached Miss Grizella Campbell-Coffin, with whom he was loosely acquainted, to inquire after the ill Mr. Stanton.
Miss Campbell-Coffin presented her intended, Mr. Earnest Elmsworth, and both assured that all appropriate arrangements had been made for Mr. Stanton.
“May I inquire after Mrs. Fairchild, Mr. Wilson?” she asked.
Adam frowned. “I’m afraid I must say I am concerned for her -- my younger sister,” he offered in way of explanation to Mr. Elmsworth. He returned his attention to Miss Campbell-Coffin’s question. “She was out for a walk this morning and has not returned. I hope she did not stray too far before the storm hit.” He glowered a little, thinking of Lucy’s reckless nature.
Grizella was a little surprised, though she supposed she shouldn’t be. She gave a comforting smile. “Oh, yes, I am sure she was able to find shelter somewhere, in a home or somewhere else.”
Earnest tried to think of some comforting words of his own that might help such concerns. “Worrying about such matters has little use,” he said.
Adam gave a curt nod, his hands folded behind his back. “Thank you both. I quite agree.”
“Yes, Mr. Elmsworth has a sister in the village as well. Fortunately, we have no reason to believe she is not at home with her husband.”
“How very fortunate indeed. Who is your sister?”
“My sister’s name is Cecelia Byrd. Have you been introduced to the Byrds?”
“No, I don’t believe--” Adam cut off his sentence to turn his head toward the sound of the house’s back door opening. Fearing it might be Lucy, he hastily excused himself and hurried toward the noise. His shoulders fell to see it was the Callahans.
Hephaestus, in all his broad-shouldered height, brushed the snow off his hair, coat, and breeches. He also rubbed his side where his healing wound still hurt some. “Yeh okay Seph? I dunno how we’re here, but at least it’s warm.”
Earnest rushed over to determine the severity of their condition and encourage them to come inside and rid themselves of their wet things.
Adam removed his jacket and draped it about Persephone’s shoulders, a dutiful, gentlemanly gesture.
Persephone looked up and blinked with surprise to see Adam. She quickly drew her attention back to Hephaestus, brushing snow off his back and helping him out of his wet coat. She slipped Adam’s jacket off her shoulders and tried to drape it over her brother’s instead. Finding it looked ridiculous, she snatched it off Hephaestus and handed it back to Adam. “Thanks but I’m wearing enough layers to clothe a small village.” She looked with worry at Hephaestus.
The blacksmith looked back with bleary eyes and now recognized Adam. “Oh, hello Mr. Wilson.” He rubbed his arms and legs, feeling warmth return to his limbs.
Adam nodded uncomfortably to the pair and retreated to the music room, where the dark, gaunt man seemed to have vanished again.
Persephone sighed and moved to sit on the floor in the back room, between the parlor and music room. She leaned her back against the wall and pulled her mandolin from its case, inspecting it to make sure nothing had been soaked through.
With some encouragement from his sister, Hephaestus grumbled and joined her on the floor with a thud. He actually didn’t mind resting away from the bitter wind.
Satisfied, she handed him the mandolin and stood, moving briefly into the parlor to pour two large cups of hot tea. Reclaiming her seat, she handed one to Heph. “It’ll warm yeh worse than whiskey, but it’s a start.” She smirked and took the mandolin back to begin plucking a soft and somber tune as quietly as she could manage. She assumed it was safe to play in the back, away from everyone else, and she knew music always comforted her twin, who did indeed feel calmer at once.
She began to quietly sing, her gentle and well-practiced voice dancing across a melancholic tune.
Adam could only make out a few notes of song. He leaned against the wall in the music room so he could hear better and slid into a seated position. He frowned, his expression bittersweet.
The Callahans both sighed at the end of the song. “Are yeh alright Seph?” Hephaestus asked. “Somethin’ be botherin’ yeh too, I feel.”
“Me?” She glanced at him and shook her head. “No more than usual.” She took a large gulp of her tea. “So...everything. Always.”
He gave his sister a playful nudge, though such gestures felt more like a shove from him, and after a few more minutes of easy talking, they resolved to venture back out and try to make it to the forge.
Adam meanwhile slipped back upstairs to his room.
Late that night, Persephone was back out in the snow again, this time furious. She was borderline murderous in her rage and trudged through the snowdrifts, now three feet high in some places. She had told Hephaestus to go home and sleep, but had gone out herself into the night.
As she paced outside, she noticed a figure moving through the snow. She narrowed her gaze and caught a glimpse of red hair shining in the moonlight. The figure ducked into Mrs. Hatch’s. Lucy…
She stood there stewing. Adam would surely need to know that his sister was safe. It was worrisome having family out in a blizzard like that, wasn’t it?
Having determined the validity of her cause, Persephone set off towards the house and, with some effort, climbed the tree behind the building. Perched on the branch, she knocked quickly and quietly at Adam’s window.
Adam lounged on his bed in a shirt and drawers, legs crossed lengthwise and one arm crooked up and behind his head. It was an easy pose, with his other hand balancing an open book, the same German philosophy volume he'd been wading through for weeks. A very low burning fire smoldered in his fireplace. He didn't give two figs what some gaunt stranger told him downstairs about men in one place, women in another, body warmth this, and firewood that. He would be spending the night in his own bed. If he could get to sleep that was.
He knew it must be well past midnight, but he couldn't quiet his mind enough for sleep. Hence the book. Just as his eyelids started to feel heavy, a rap came at the window. He started out of the bed nearly dropping the weighty book. There were only two people he knew reckless enough to climb a tree in this weather. He clutched a blanket in an attempt to cover himself, and bent to open the window and see who plagued him tonight. A stern, tired frown set across his lips, but his eyes were soft.
"Oh come off it, I already saw yer underpants." Persephone reached out to lightly squish his face between her thumb and forefinger. "Relax. You'll give yerself a headache with all that disapproval." She released his face and tilted her head. "Just thought you should know I saw Lucy head this way from the library. She made it inside. Seems well enough. May have a cold." She looked around a bit and cleared her throat, evidently upset. "Okay, well I've got a murder to plot, so I should run." She moved to slide back on the branch.
He snatched her arm before she could get away and reached out with both hands to grab her and pull her inside.Taken aback by the sudden movement, Persephone found herself being dragged into the room. She slid to the floor with a thud. Her skirt gathered up by her waist to reveal several layers of stockings and her trousers. She blinked for a few moments and then her face twisted in defiance. "Now...Wait a moment..."
Adam slammed the window shut, turning and sitting on the sill. He crossed his arms and glowered down at her. "Explain."
She sighed and kicked her feet over her head, rolling up into a sitting position. "Explain /what/?!"
He half chuckled, crossing his legs at the ankle. "You can begin wherever you like."
"Jesus, this is stupid." She rose to her feet and waved her hands at him. "Move. I have s**te tah do."
"After midnight?” he cajoled in a somewhat mocking tone. “You have ‘s**te to do’ after midnight, after climbing a tree under nearly three feet of snow to a gentleman's bedchamber to inform him his sister has entered the house - a fact the lady in question is perfectly capable of relating herself?" He raised a triumphant brow. "At least tell me you brought the whiskey."
She narrowed her gaze at him and said spitefully, "I /drank/ the whiskey." She glared at him for a long pause, then sighed and lifted her skirt, removing a sizeable flask from a holder on her right thigh, while a dagger was holstered on the left.
She tossed him the flask and crossed her arms in a huff. "I have to dispose of a body that I haven't created yet as I have to wait fer the f*** to leave the church before I can kill 'im." She snapped her head back at him. "And sorry...I was under the delusion you were worried fer Lucy and it may make yeh feel better to know she was safe."
His eyes blazed. "Of course I'm glad Lucy is safe. That doesn't mean you had to go to such lengths to share that information." He lowered his voice, hearing footsteps coming down the hall. "You see? That's likely to be her now." Sure enough, a light tap came at the door.
Adam put a finger to his lips, his eyes boring into Persephone's.
"Adam?" Lucy whispered through the door. "Are you awake?"
Adam glared for a moment at Persephone daring her to make a noise or escape through the window. He swiftly made his way across the room to slam the door shut just as Lucy cracked it open. "I'm not decent Lucy. I'm glad you're alright, but just go to bed. We can talk in the morning." He hovered by the door until he was satisfied by the sound of his sister's retreat. He let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding and turned back to Persephone, his manner softening a little.
She had tiptoed very quietly to the window, but when she glanced back at him, she found him looking at her just as she was reaching for the latch. She patted the window and cleared her throat, a little embarrassed to be caught. "Very secure, good work." She sighed and grabbed the flask from where he had set it and took a long swig.
He looked at her with some disappointment. "Do I have to sit on the sill all night or can I trust you? Because I'd really rather not freeze and leave you with two bodies to bury."
"Yeh could always just agree to help with the first one. Washington's a giant f***in' a****,” she grumbled, crossing her arms. She flopped down reluctantly onto a chair near the bed.
Adam peered at her and hazarded the question. "What's he done?"
"He is a f***in' treacherous pig." Her face twists again in anger. "What sort of man sweeps a woman away from a man that loves her and knows her and is kind tah her...And after the better man befriended him, and brought him in and let him call him brother and demanded his sister 'lay off him' cause he's a good man." She scoffed. "Good man my a***."
Adam squinted a little, trying to follow.
"And I knew it - I knew it from the second I saw 'im he was trouble." She waggled her finger about as if scolding someone. "Running about flirtin' with every young thing. I practically has tah spit on 'im tah get him to lay off me. And that was when he fancied Miss Bexley.” She furrowed her brow. "It's all farce with men. Like it's a game. Took around with every Colleen and see who takes the bait and then maybe yeh can be bothered tah settle with her. And if that doesn't work yeh always have a backup or two or three." She turned a bit red and reached for the flask again. "And she knew...She knew he loved her and she chose that giant a*** anyway. Saying he's family...Not my family! Bet he couldn't name even one of me sisters or me ma or da’s name. I'd be knocked back on me a*** if he even knew the names of any of her family." She glowered.
Adam moves a little nearer and sat on the edge of the bed. “Is...this the same man who got your brother injured?"
Persephone almost yelled, but remembering where she was and the compromising position Adam could be put in if she were found there, she kept her voice quiet. "The very same." She wondered for a moment why she gave a s*** if they were caught together, but quickly shook it off and takes another swig of drink, passing him the flask.
"Me brother’s always been there for her. He's done everythin' fer her....And she goes and chooses this Johnny-know-nothin' with an a*** for a face and s**** in his bones." As angry as she looked, there was also a sense of betrayal washing over her.
Adam's eyes widened a little as she shared details of her family tragedies, and heat crept up his cheeks to think of his ignorance. Part of him wanted to hold her but he hadn't failed to notice the dagger in her skirts. He remained still and patiently listened. He knew when Lucy was frantic, it was usually just best to let her tire herself out in private.
"He's a two-timin', good fer nothin' rake. And I'd bet yer inheritance he expects forgiveness." She crossed her arms and glared into the fire. "Jesus are yeh tryin' yeh catch a cold?" She stood and placed a couple more logs on the dim embers in the fireplace, if for no other reason than to busy herself.
Adam watched her with a gentle gaze and a light smirk. He was a bit embarrassed to find he liked her familiarity. "You're one to talk...Persephone." As usual, he hesitated slightly to use her Christian name, but deep down he liked that too.
“I'm a rake with a purpose and a justified cause. He's just a f****n--" She stopped herself and glanced at him. "Oh. You mean the cold. Well I hardly matter," she said with a dismissive wave.
He lifted an amused brow. "You're a rake?" He nearly laughed.
"The village folks prefer the term w****," she said with a roll of her eyes.
It was clear he didn’t quite believe her. "Well you have snuck into a gentleman's bedchamber after midnight..." He cocked a brow, teasing.
"It's true Adam. I am one." She straightened from tending the fire and brushed off her hands, giving him a pointed look and heading back to the window. "So all the more reason tah let me leave."
He sat stunned for a moment, brow knit in confusion. A little hurt even flashed through his eyes. He came to attention before she opened the window. "Do you ever stay?"
She turned to him, eyes incredulous. "What?"
His voice was measured, trying to control or at least cover his shallower breaths. "I have only ever seen you run the first chance you get. Do you ever stay?"
She glanced around a moment, then back at him and shook her head. "No...I don't...Why would I?"
He stared back somewhat blankly, his question answered.
"Adam, I'm a nobody Irish girl with a chip on her shoulder, a closet full o' skeletons and more notches on me bedpost than I can count....Honestly what good am I to you?" Though her words sounded sarcastic and biting, her eyes betrayed her. She believed what she said had merit, and that was exactly why she always left. She felt she alone was worth very little.
His eyes softened a little at this speech. And so his next words clearly pained him. "Then don't come to me again." He gave his head a little shake. "You don't get to have me at your beck and call and just disappear into the night whenever it pleases you." He turned his head to face the fire, fully expecting her to leave.
She glared at him "Fine," she spat. She threw the window open and climbed back out, slamming it shut behind her.
Adam fell back into his bed and picked his book back up, his mind even busier than it had been to begin with. He read and re-read the same paragraph over and over, the words passing lifelessly before his eyes, practically without meaning.
For an hour, Persephone sat in that tree out of sight while she considered...well, everything. Freezing and shivering as dawn began to break, she slowly climbed back to the window and knocked again, this time in a broken rhythm as she shivered.
Adam lifted his head from his pillow and seriously considered ignoring the tap. But after a moment, his better self pulled through and he snapped up the frame, his eyes looking as worn and tired as hers.
"W-W-Why.. are you ssssso nice tah me A-adam? I am a m-m-m-maaaaassive p-p-p-p***k,” she said through chattering teeth.
He rubbed a large hand over his stubbled face. His other hand rested on his hip. "Yes you are." He practically sighed the words before reaching out to pull her back inside. The fire she had stoked before still roared under the mantle and he was very warm.
Once in, she slipped out of her coat and sat cross legged on the floor by the fire. She held her hands to the flames and rubbed them. "It's f-f-fine...Just a little ch-ch-chill." Suddenly losing all energy to uphold her farce, her head and shoulders slumped and she buried her head in her hands.
He sighed and dragged her up by the shoulders to tuck her into bed. He was stricken by the similarity to the last time he had to do so, and at the same time, it was so very different.
She began to resist and sat up. "I'm not puttin' yeh out of her own bed. Not again. I'll...go warm up downstairs and go home."
He cocked a brow. "Oh you will? With all those people sleeping in the parlor and the music room?"
"If yeh want me teh stay here then say so, but don't just act like it's yer duty to tend to a freezing woman and expect me to put aside my stubborn pride fer that." She rubbed her arms, already getting warmer.
He frowned and moved away from her. "Fine. But you could have gone in the front door for such a goal." He turned to rearrange the books on his nightstand and waited for her to leave.
Persephone nodded slowly, suddenly wondering why she had been such an idiot to sit outside this man's window fretting over him. This was why she always left... She grabbed her coat and looked back at him once more, before opening his door and slipping out of it to start down the hall.
He had sunk back down onto the bed, facing away. At the sound of footsteps, he buried himself under the covers, finally tired enough he just might sleep.