everything about this episode makes me want to sit and stroke my screen because it's all so lovely

Netflix and Chill

I’d like to thank @katryusha for beta-ing this for me, you sweet cinnamon roll child. I’ve been trying to write some omegaverse fluff now, seeing as what I’ve written so far is a just lot of is smut and a bit of angst.

Arthur bit his lip, gazing up the small white steps to the front door of the house. The evening sunlight cast scary shadows on the place and the little omega shivered, eyes darting around nervously as he awkwardly shuffled his feet.

It was his first time at Alfred’s place and of course, he was a bit worried. Half an hour ago, he’d gotten a slightly questionable text from the man…

(30 min ago) Netflix and Chill?

(28 min ago) I mean, in the PG way.

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Amanda Abbington interview from today’s Times

The stage can be nerve-racking at the best of times. So how does Amanda Abbington feel about returning to it after a ten-year gap during which she’s found fame on television? About taking time out from Sherlock, in which she plays the delightful but dangerous wife of Dr Watson, a man played by Martin Freeman, who also happens to be her real-life partner? About making her comeback in a new play at the Royal Court where, as she says, the audience is so close you can observe their reactions? “Terrified, terrified, truly terrified,” she says, “but I wanted to exercise that muscle again and face that fear. And there’s something magical about telling a story live.”

The terrifying play is Molly Davies’s God Bless the Child, in which Abbington will perform alongside teams of eight to eleven-year-olds, all of whom (she says with a laugh) seem totally nerveless. Moreover, the faces out there aren’t likely to beam happily at the character she’s playing: the treacly, pushy, sadly modern inventor of an educational system that infantilises the children she purports to adore, suppresses their individuality and seeks to manipulate them into docile citizens, “but that’s great for me because I’ve tended to play people with good hearts and she’s passive-aggressive, ambitious and doesn’t care about kids at all.”

Indeed, the play raises questions that Abbington, the mother of eight-year-old Joe and six-year-old Grace, thinks particularly pertinent today. What’s the right way to bring up children? Not, she thinks, by ingratiating oneself with them: “I love my own children more than anything but I want to be their parent, not their friend. If they don’t like me that means I’m doing something right, because if they constantly liked me that would mean I’d be saying yes all the time.

“Nowadays it’s give them this, give them that, without thinking of the consequences. Constant giving without getting anything in return is a recipe for disaster. We have to shape our children into human beings and they must learn that it’s not easy out there. People aren’t always very nice and don’t give you everything on a plate.”

Abbington, 40, speaks from personal experience. She clearly respects her mother and her father, who in her childhood was a cabby based in north London, for expecting her to do chores if she wanted the money to buy a toy. Meanwhile, primary school taught her that people were often a lot less nice than her parents. Children stole her packed lunches, binned her PE clothes and persistently called her ugly, stupid, skinny and too smelly to live. “I was very badly bullied. One time these girls came up to me and said, ‘If you give us your Penguin biscuit you can play with us’, and I said ‘OK’, and they took it and skipped away saying: ‘We don’t like you.’ I was seven. It’s always stayed with me.”

In a perverse way persecution shaped the actress-to-be. She adopted masks or personae, doing silly voices in vain attempts to make the bullies laugh and to protect herself. Indeed, she still thinks that people often become performers because they need to be liked, appreciated, made to feel they belong — but a stage career? That seemed unlikely since her family weren’t theatregoers. However, some sort of die was cast when her mother told the young Amanda that there was money for her to do either ballet or horse riding after school, but not both. “I was just five,” she laughs. “I think my life would have been very different if I’d chosen horses.”

As it was, a childless neighbour took her to see ballet at the Royal Opera House and, aged 16, Abbington was at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, Surrey, preparing to become a professional dancer but also realising she’d never be an excellent one. A sympathetic teacher there suggested she turn to drama and, after a stint at a theatre school in Hitchin, work came her way. “Bits and pieces,” she says self-deprecatingly of a television career that took her from The Bill to Man Stroke Woman and the comedy After You’ve Gone, then to big breakthrough roles as the lovelorn head of accessories in Mr Selfridge and the charming yet dangerous woman who marries Freeman’s Watson.

Abbington remembers first seeing Freeman in 2000 in a BBC Two sketch show called Bruiser and thinking: “Oh God, he’s lovely, I hope I get to work with him one day.” Two months later they met on the make-up bus for the TV film Men Only, got chatting, went out for a drink the next day and two months later moved in together. Her professional regard for him is considerable too. She saw his recent Richard III in the West End six times and was struck by the subtle differences he brought to the role each time. “And he’s generous, focused, prepared; not in any way a prima donna. I love working with him.”

That came about after Mark Gatiss, co-author of Sherlock, invited her and Freeman to watch The Hound of the Baskervilles, asked her to sit in on a discussion in the kitchen about the third series, then offered her a role she expected to go to a supposedly superior actress, so astonishing her that she burst into tears. Some Sherlock fanatics, updated versions of those school bullies, didn’t want a woman getting between Holmes and Watson and trolled her — “f*** off and die” — on Twitter, but most have been silenced by the result. Freeman and Abbington have a rapport they have transported from their Hertfordshire home to the screen: “We can try new ideas, bounce off each other, change a scene’s dynamic and know it’ll be fine.”

The third series, which was aired this year, gave Abbington a 2013 that was both mirabilis and horribilis. Horrible because a serious cancer scare when Freeman was filming The Hobbit in New Zealand was followed by her own brief bankruptcy, since she’d spent money put aside for HM Revenue and Customs. Yet shooting Sherlock also allowed them to sit on the sofa, practise their scenes, go to London together then return to discuss the day. And 2015 will bring a fourth series, more togetherness — and Abbington her own screen time in new episodes of Mr Selfridge.

She’s as unpretentious and modest as she’s open and candid, and, she says, all too aware that she has not faced a live audience since 2004, when she played a jargon-spouting therapist in Nick Stafford’s none-too-successful Love Me Tonight at Hampstead Theatre. So the prospect of acting at the Royal Court leaves her with mixed feelings. She’s long loved the theatre for the fearlessness of its new-play policy and wanted to work there. Yet she left her audition for God Bless the Child saying, “I was awful, I won’t get the part”, and when she was offered it her surprised delight didn’t last: “Reality set in and I said: ‘Ooh, now I have to do it.’ ”

Our own Andrew Billen has called her Mary Watson “terrific”, adding that she brings emotion and humanity, plus intelligence and wit to a cerebral series. So it’s fair to assume that her performance of a comically yet horribly smarmy education tsarina won’t exactly harm a career that, self-effacing and self-doubting as she is, Abbington still fears will have its dips. Yes, she’d love to tackle major parts, for instance Lady Macbeth, “but what I most want is not to be not working. I just want people to say: ‘Oh, Amanda. Let’s get her. She’s good.’ ”