I was aiming for Becoming Jane rose garden scene vibes here if that helps get you in the mood. :)
It is some combination of the spiced brandy and the swollen summer night and the need to get away from the dancing, laughing crowds and the inexorable pull of him that takes Jemma out of the hall, away from the party, down the stairs and out into her father’s garden.
She knows he is there because she has been unable to take her eyes off him all night. Wherever he moved through the room, her gaze followed, breaking only when it would stretch the limits of propriety to continue gawping. Even then she kept track of his progress through the other guests, his dark blue suit always in the corner of her eye.
He hears her coming, her heels crunching the gravel, but he does not turn. His shoulders look tense as he watches the fountains and she wants to run a hand over them, relax them under her touch, and continue down his arm until she finds his fingers and intertwines them with hers as they used to do as children.
She stops beside him, her large skirts brushing his shoes, and they gaze over the darkened water together. In her periphery she can see the scruff he has seemed unable to entirely shave away for several months now, the darkness under his eyes. Both remind her that he is no longer the penniless orphan her father took in, who became her best friend, later her brother’s page and constant companion, and for the last two years her father’s advisor.
“It’s a beautiful night,” he says at last, wistfully, tilting his head up to the stars. “A good night for beginnings.”
She does not stop herself from looking at him now. His eyes remain on the sky but his Adam’s apple bobs several times.
“That’s not how I’d expect a woman to speak on the eve of her engagement party.”
She closes her eyes, turning her head away. The invisible hand that has slowly been gripping her heart and lungs for months clenches.
“I’ve seen the way you look at me when you think I don’t notice,” she whispers.
He inhales sharply and shifts beside her but says nothing. She is tired of existing in his orbit and not giving in to his gravity, so when she looks at him again she lets the hand dangling between them brush against his, asking to be held.
“Jemma,” he murmurs, half of his face in darkness as he stares resolutely at the ground in front of her shoes. “I am your father’s most trusted– your brother’s dearest–”
“What about my most trusted? My dearest? You are my best friend.”
“And you are to be married,” he counters harshly, finally meeting her eyes, his own expression frantic, desperate, longing, exhausted. “And I have nothing to offer you.”
“You know that is not true, Fitz,” she breathes. “You know my mind is never as alive as when I am with you. You know no one makes me smile as much–”
“Or scowl as much–”
“Because no one makes me feel half as much, a quarter as much, a hundredth of what I feel when I am with you.”
It is Fitz’s turn to close his eyes and she lets the moment linger, taking in his perfect eyelashes, his crooked collar, the lock of hair curling over his forehead.
Eventually, her voice breaking, she continues, “And I cannot be married until I know – until I have just once–”
She turns slightly towards him and brings her left hand up to ghost over his cheek. He leans away from her touch but that brings his face towards hers and she closes her fingers around his chin just as she closes the space between them, meeting his eyes a second before their lips touch.
He knows his place, has been well-taught that he has no right to kiss a lord’s daughter, so he doesn’t lean in to meet her, but the moment she presses her torso to his and wraps an arm around his neck his hands are on her shoulders, her waist, her hips, unable to stop touching her, unable to stop holding her. He groans – they both do – and she pushes too hard, too fast, having now found that kissing Fitz is everything she wanted and feared it to be and terrified of the moment it will stop.
The sound of boisterous giggles from the next path breaks them apart and Jemma presses a shaking hand to her lips, feeling the heat radiating from Fitz’s chest. He looks down at her wildly, then takes her hand – God, finally – and pulls her with him into the darkness under a tree.
“Don’t marry him,” he blurts out.
“What?” she splutters.
“Don’t marry him.” His chest is heaving and the blue of his eyes is apparent even without light and she should be kissing him, why is she not kissing him? “I have nothing to give you, but… If this is what you want, if you will have me–”
The force of her body on his slams him against the tree. Her fingers in his hair, she tries to communicate with only her lips that he is all she has wanted for years.