“Bring her back home,” Samuel had said, leaving off any
appellations that would suggest politeness or a request. It was an order and
Jed knew Samuel would have liked to have been able to carry it out himself, but
the risk was too great, so he had waited for Jed to return from the fool’s
errand McBurney had engineered, aware that they both might be too late. But
there had been enough time, since Anne had revealed McBurney’s plan and Jed had
driven the horses to a lather, time enough for Samuel to issue his directive
and for Jed to arrive on the dock where Mary lay, her fever spiking and her
beautiful dark eyes confused. She had reached for his face, her hand trembling,
and when he’d caught it in his own, she had murmured his name Jedediah but it was a question and not a
confirmation. The book Anne found was heavy in his pocket, slapping against his
thigh as he knelt beside Mary on the stretcher they’d carried her on, through
the streets and in a rude wagon; she would have whispered bits of the Tennyson
to herself between coughing spasms, fretful when she could not recall a word,
unable to wipe the tears from her cheeks.
The woman Miss Dix had sent to be Mary’s escort had looked
both stern and helpless. Jed had seen that she knew how ill Mary was and how
cruel her task would be but without his intervention, there was nothing she
could do but take Mary ever closer to her grave. Her protestations were made
without any vigor and he heard the relief in her voice when she acquiesced to
his curt commands. She had not blushed or lowered her eyes when he picked up
Mary in his arms, wrapped in the paisley shawl they’d covered her with, the
thinnest veil of propriety. He had been distracted almost immediately by how
light Mary was, how the illness had wasted her strength except for her soul’s
fortitude. It had taken McBurney’s cruel expulsion into the lonely night to
weaken her spirit, the explanation for how readily she laid her head against
his chest, the sigh she’d given when he tightened his hold on her. He had
bitten back the words that had no place on a steamship dock, oh my dearest girl, oh sweetheart, I’ve got
you, just a little while, stay with me, darling, darling, and tried to
consider what to do. Where to go, where he might take her and care for her—he
could not solve it and he must. She shivered in his arms and she burned,
moaning softly when he shifted her, a sound that could break him.
Samuel had demanded he bring her home, but where was that
now? Not Mansion House, where McBurney remained a grave danger to her, not the
hotel Hale frequented when Anne refused him her bed and a whore obliged. He
could not ask Emma’s family to take in a delirious Yankee nurse and he would
not risk the schism their refusal might create, between Emma and her parents or
Emma and the chaplain. If he had had more time, he would have taken rooms in a
boarding house run by a respectable widow or made arrangements with the wife of
the garrison’s commanding officer, a Vermonter who would have taken pity on her
ill countrywoman. Jed wished he had not given up the house he had leased for
Eliza, that it stood empty and waiting for them, with rooms enough for a
contraband servant to sleep or one of the Quaker women living just outside of
the town who might be induced to care for a suffering soul. There would be a
roof over their heads and a bed to lay Mary in, a lamp to light and a chair to
draw up next to the bed, where he could sit facing her and watch over her until
dawn broke. He felt how it taxed her to breathe and when she opened them, her
dark eyes were full of pain; he had no time to waste and no solution.
Dorothea Dix’s woman had helped him get a carriage so he
didn’t have to carry Mary through the dusty streets but when the driver had
asked him the destination, he had not the faintest idea. Want Jed, get him for me, please, please Mary murmured with her
cheek pressed against his beating heart and Jed heard himself say “Mansion
House” before the horses’ hooves and Mary’s catarrh filled his ears. When it stopped
in front of the steps, he knew he could not carry her through the door and
expect her to live so he returned to where he had started.
“Mr. Diggs? Have you seen him?” he asked Charlotte Jenkins,
who evidently slept lightly and in her serviceable dress and apron. She had not
even rubbed her eyes or yawned, just regarded him steadily, how he stood with
little grace, Mary clutched in his arms, the hem of the paisley shawl with its
silken fringe trailing in the dirt.
“He got called to the ward. Dr. Hale…needed his assistance.
A hemorrhage, I think,” Charlotte answered. Jed felt the last certainty slip
away, the confidence he’d had in Samuel solving the problem he could not,
Samuel still waiting for Mary’s return as Mary had once waited for his.
“Oh,” Jed said, the exhalation what passed for a word, the
beginning of a sentence he had no idea how to finish.
“You won’t be able to return, you must know that,” Anne
Hastings said. Her tone was not kind, but it was not cruel, not glorying in her
imminent promotion to Head Nurse. Miss Dix would refuse to consider any explanation
and Major McBurney had already shown a predilection for Anne that would make
her advancement the obvious choice after Mary left. There was hardly any time
to pause in packing, but Mary felt she owed the woman a response. Or perhaps
she only wished to say aloud what she had worried and suffered over so, even
though she had made her decision nearly instantaneously once McBurney issued
his dire edict.
“I cannot do otherwise,” she began, her hands folding his linen
shirts, his vests, then tucking them neatly in the open satchel, a wifely
pleasure she had not thought she would have again.
“It way well ruin you,” Anne interrupted, offering a warning
and not a satisfied pronouncement. She was unfamiliar, this Anne Hastings, and
Mary wondered what it was about the situation that brought forth this other
voice, the expression that was thoughtful and concerned, that did not criticize
when there was ample cause as she had eagerly done when there had been none.
“If I let him go, there would be no question of that,” Mary
replied. Jedediah had been sick for several days, fractious and irritable with
all the staff, all the patients, before he had taken to his bed, sullen and
weak. There had only been a few hours before his fever spiked and hell had
broken loose and he had begged her not to leave him, to make sure he would not
be sent away. She had been soaked with the icy water they’d bathed him in to
bring his temperature down, but he had been the one shivering, panting,
forgetting where he was, who else might be there as he cried out softly oh Molly, don’t let me go, don’t let him do
it, I can’t be sent away from you, Molly. Sister Isabella had dropped her
eyes before Mary had to look into the nun’s fresh young face and stand gently,
rightfully accused. She had soothed him without thinking, never imagining
McBurney would be cruel enough to cast out his desperately ill Executive
Officer, his hostility vituperative and intense beyond any incitement Jedediah
could have given him in their brief work together.
“You cannot mean it– he has nowhere to go! He is estranged
from his family, there is no one to fetch him and no home for him to be
welcomed in,” Mary had exclaimed when McBurney declared they could no longer
devote their meager resources to caring for a doctor who could not treat
patients, who had become a patient himself, the burden Jed had decried and
“A pity, I’m sure, madam. Yet, we don’t trade in pity here,
we practice medicine. You might address the situation with the chaplain but
don’t dally. You are needed here to do your duty,” McBurney had responded. Mary
had bitten her lip rather than say McBurney had yet to make rounds on any ward,
had yet to assess or diagnose any patient but himself, while Jed and Hale had
continued to see to all the men under McBurney’s queer, unpredictable, fey
scrutiny. She had gone to Jed’s bedside first and seeing how restlessly he
slept, how Sister Isabella frowned when Mary inquired with her gaze alone about
Jed’s health, how his hands plucked at the bedclothes, those slender, sensitive
hands that could save a man’s sight or move a rook into mate, the hands she had
held and had felt against her cheek, her lip, pressed to her heart, and she had
known Jed must leave Mansion House and she would go with him.
“Miss Dix won’t forgive you,” Anne said, repeating what Mary
had said to herself. It was a smaller grief, one she could bear.
“Hers is not the forgiveness I would seek,” Mary said. For
all that he had asked, implored her to stay with him, she knew Jedediah would
rail at her for it, at the risk she took for her own health, the damage to her
character, her loss of position, when he had turned the corner and was
regaining his health. He was given to self-pity and self-loathing and would not
see his value; he could not understand that what she chose was selfish. For all
that he liked to present himself as standing apart from his fellows, he judged
too much by society’s mores and his definition of what was due a lady was not
Mary’s. She expected his condemnation to come with his returning strength and
only hoped he would not say something neither of them could forget.
“Byron says you’re taking him to Baltimore,” Anne said.
Jedediah stirred but did not wake and Mary wished again that Samuel could be
spared to help her get Jedediah home. McBurney had refused as if he were the
owner Samuel had never had, but she would not let her friend incur the
displeasure of a man powerful enough to destroy a freeman without the slightest
effort. Charlotte Jenkins had known an escaped slave named Thomas who had
family in Maryland and who was eager for the journey. She had thought to manage
alone until Jed had tried to walk the few steps from his bed to his chair for
the linens to be changed and she had buckled under the weight of his collapse
and felt his shamed tears on her bare neck, the sharp angle of his hipbone the
illness had revealed. He had fallen asleep before she could finish consoling
him and Mary had planned what she would say to Charlotte when she accepted her
“Yes. He has friends there, it won’t be hard to open his
house again,” Mary answered.
“Will you? For you are not Mrs. Foster, nor any relation.
Will they welcome the Baroness von Olnhausen, a disgraced Yankee nurse?” Anne
“Perhaps a few. Shall you be surprised to know I have never
been counted among the popular set, even in Manchester? It won’t trouble me as
long as those Jed needs most do not turn away. I don’t think they will—they
have not here,” Mary said, thinking of Samuel and Henry, the Frenchwoman lately
arrived but stalwart nonetheless, Matron who had booked the tickets and held
Mary by the elbow for a long moment. Jed’s closest friend was a man named
Jonathan Harris he’d spoken of in the quieter evenings, but he was working in
Boston and Mary knew she could not have taken Jed home with her unless he was
her husband. There were others he’d mentioned still living in Baltimore, Scott
and Foyle, men who were colleagues but more than that, companions from his
university days, and an old friend, named Wyatt, who’d married a woman “you
would like, though Eliza never did, Harriet has her causes, just as you do,”
whom Mary thought she could call upon and be assured of assistance.
“He does have a way of engendering a…certain tenacious
regard, doesn’t he? A blessing we’re not all granted,” Anne remarked. Mary let
her eyes stray to Jed’s face, noticing the grey at his temple and his chapped
lips. She felt a compelling urge to take him in her arms and lay his head
against her breast, to breathe her own health into him and watch his eyes open,
full of recognition, trust and an overwhelming tenderness, to see the kiss he
wanted to give her. She looked back and saw Anne had been regarding her with
the acuity she brought to the most challenging cases, the few that made Anne
show the gentleness she generally concealed.
“You won’t regret it,” she said. It was a question but only
a little; it was a declaration and an assessment, a prediction and an oracle
and Mary took it as all of those and everything else it was—a wish, a memory, a
hint of the devastation that had left Anne as she was.
“I couldn’t. I’ve gone through this before, remember? I know
what I can bear—and what I can’t. What I won’t,” Mary said, closing the clasps
on the satchel. Anne nodded, glanced at Jed, who was starting to wake, a hand
at his cheek, rubbing his eyes.
“He won’t be angry long, you needn’t pay his temper any
mind. But let him apologize properly for it anyway. He’ll likely make a lovely
apology if you let him,” Anne suggested, smiling as Mary had never seen,
tolerant and amused and so very sad. Mary was not sure what she would have said
in response, what agreement or question she might have voiced, but then she
heard something that took all her attention, took it though she gave it
willingly, joyfully, entirely and she turned away from Anne to answer it.
Do you have any Scott/Allison/Isaac fics to rec cuz that you be fantastic and you would have my weird undying love forever.
and keep your feet on the ground by pocketmumbles (T, 2k) She tells herself that it’s an exercise in romance, a further practice in navigating relationships and coming out strong before anything else, but she knows that isn’t true. She’s falling for him too soon, too fast, hurtling through free fall with the bottom nowhere in sight. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating.
How It Works by SandrineShaw (M, 3k) They don’t talk about it, and the tension builds and builds between them all until something has to give. Or: Five times Allison, Isaac and Scott kissed.
here i am leaving you clues by ceserabeau (T, 12k) In his life Scott has kissed exactly two girls: Mary Jenkins when he was twelve in the schoolyard, and Kira Yukimura when he was twenty-three under the cover of an Italian night. Scott has never kissed a boy, so when Isaac slots a careful hand around his face and leans in, he’s too shocked to move.
We Could Be Heroes by MarauderCracker (G, 2k) They do it because they can. That’s what superheroing is about. They keep trying even when they can’t, though, and that’s what being a hero is about. Or maybe they are just too proud, too stubborn, too reckless. All teenagers are.
the way you drink your coffee by nighimpossible (M, 6k) Isaac is an employee at Wired On Elm, Beacon Hills’ most popular coffee shop, Allison has just broken up with her first boyfriend, and Scott remains impossible to hate.
charmed meme |ten episodes: 8.21 “kill billie vol.02” ⇒ “Piper, do you remember the last time somebody unleashed the Hollow? Yes, I do. The Source used it to steal our powers, which I think is the point. But then he went nuts, and then it went into Cole and he went nuts and then he turned evil, and we had to vanquish him. Is that ringing any bells here?”