st declan

St. Patrick’s Day with the Lynch Brothers

Declan decides to reinstate the Lynch family tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

o   Growing up this was Niall Lynch’s favorite holiday and the family went all out

o   Imagine young Ronan, Declan, and Matthew performing at local festivals

o   Kilts may or may not have been involved

o   Church was a must

Ronan takes Opal and Matthew up to Declan’s apartment in D.C.

o   They are so LOUD in the car

o   They fight and sing stupid songs and play car games

o   Ronan yells at them but he secretly loves it

Adam drives up from college. He’s never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and he’s nervous/excited about the family reunion. Declan is intimidating af

o   But Declan’s totally cool and gives up his room for the “newlyweds” as he likes to call Ronan and Adam pretty much every chance he gets

o   Matthew and Opal camp out in the living room

o   Declan shares the guest room with his “housemate” (who turns out to be JIANG!! Ronan is shocked and keeps muttering to Adam about the “fucking plot twist”)

Family hijinks ensue

o   Seriously competitive Apples to Apples

o   Candy Land with Opal

o   A very late night game of poker after Opal goes to bed

o   Ronan and Declan are definitely pre-gaming; Adam and Jiang exchange mutual looks of resignation

St. Patrick’s Day arrives!!

o   Declan’s got this all planned out. First he gets them all to mass. Almost everyone sleeps through the majority of the service. Declan is very Annoyed

o   Irish Breakfast with Irish Breakfast Tea because ofc

o   Wardrobe: y’all know they were kitted out in all the green. Blue sent Ronan T-shirts for him and Adam to wear: Ronan’s says “Kiss Me I’m an Asshole” and Adam’s says “Pynch: Est. 2016”, both are in green, Ronan’s is a muscle tee; Adam is confused by his shirt. Declan further surprises everyone by wearing one of Niall’s kilts. Jiang says he looks very handsome and Declan Blushes so bad. Matthew is wearing green everything: pants, shirt, shoes, he even sprays temporary green color in his hair. Opal is wearing a super cute dress with an Irish flag pattern. Jiang is looking quite dapper with a white button-up and a green tie.

Next stop: the Parade. They stand outside forever and it’s cold so they’re just this huddle. Adam thoughtfully brought thermos of tea for them to share. Ronan brought a flask. Matthew brought pickle flavored Pringles. They are Good to Go

o   Somehow they get to the very front of the barricades lining the parade route. Ronan puts Opal on his shoulders anyways and she is delighted, having the time of her life. Adam takes a million pictures and sends them to Blue, Henry, and Gansey

Afterwards they go to one of the local Irish pubs and it is madness. They wait almost two hours for a table. Opal falls asleep on Ronan’s shoulder. Ronan’s flask is mysteriously not empty and he confesses that it’s a dream object and never runs dry. While they wait the boys tell Adam and Jiang about Niall and Aurora, about growing up at the Barns and some of the crazy legends their father would tell them about Ireland

The pub is well worth the wait. Everyone gets a different dish and they all end of sharing. Declan works some magic and gets them pitchers of Guinness (Matthew is not allowed to drink and he’s quite sulky about it)

There is live music and, after drinking a lot, Ronan gets it into his mind that he should join the group and play everyone a song?!!! Adam is dying of laughter and of course films the whole thing. Even sloshed Ronan is an impeccable musician and everyone wants him to keep playing so he does

Perhaps the most hilarious/unexpected moment is when Ronan and Declan join in the impromptu Riverdance dance off. Matthew can’t believe that these two drunken idiots are related to him. Jiang is deceased because Declan dancing in that kilt… Adam’s phone is running out of storage because Jesus Christ this has to be saved for posterity

Eventually they stagger back to the apartment. Ronan and Declan are singing The Rocky Road to Dublin at the top of their lungs the entire way; they keep making the song faster and faster until it’s just a bunch of loud, high-pitched slurring

Jiang helps Declan to bed, Adam gets Opal settled in for the night, Ronan finds his father’s guitar in Declan’s room and plays mournful Irish tunes until Adam makes him stop. Once they’re cuddled up in bed Ronan tells Adam more about Niall. They make plans to visit his hometown in Ireland

The next morning is Hangover Central but they all agree it was worth it

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!

Part 5. Anne and Declan

He’d lost so much she felt she couldn’t take anything more from him so she told him though she knew the risk, that he would turn his face away from her, push her gently from his side without any discussion, mutter, Go, just…go and be silent, holding his breath while she gathered her skirts and rose, walking as gracefully from the room as her namesake had walked to the block.

“You’re not the only man I’ve loved, Declan.”

There was the sound of the night in the hospital—men everywhere and somehow nowhere, the orderlies’ boots in the hall, a nun, always a nun praying, her habit making its own prayer against the floorboards and then Declan spoke.

“Aye, well, you’re not the only woman I’ve loved either, Annie. Did you think it would trouble me?”

“I wanted you to know the truth,” she said, loosening her hands in her lap.

“I’m glad of it but that’s not the answer to my question, is it?” he said calmly, shifting in the bed. She leaned over and adjusted the pillow that had moved, moving his shoulders and straightening the blanket over him, smiling as he sighed with relief.

“I was…afraid. I thought you ought to know who you were marrying. Do you want me to tell you more?” she said, thinking of Robert the first time he’d seen her and the last, how he’d caught at her hand, of William who’d promised to come back when he joined the Navy and never had, of how Byron had looked up at her drowsily from her breast and how he grinned at her every deception.

“Not especially. You’re not planning to jilt me for any of them, are you?” he said easily and she choked on the laugh she couldn’t stop.

“No! I’d never—all I want is to marry you, to be Mrs. Brannan,” she declared and he reached over to pat her hand with his, the one that was not crabbed and bandaged, ruined despite Jed Foster’s finest work. She had thanked God for Declan’s injuries, severe enough to keep him away from any other battle but still repairable, needing the skill and delicacy only Foster possessed with his Parisian training. Byron had not made a peep when she insisted Foster take Declan’s case. Even so, Declan had lost the eye and his right hand was hardly more than a stump; his leg had fared better but it was likely he’d be lame. He’d woken from the chloroform entirely himself, taking a full accounting of his injuries for a moment before remarking, “Seems I’ve kept my silver tongue at least and that counts for something for an Irishman!

“We’re in agreement then, as all I want is to make you mine, wreck of a man that I am,” he said, grinning so roguishly she couldn’t keep her hand from brushing the hair off his forehead, stroking his cheek.

“You’re not a wreck,” she said.

“Did the other men believe your lies, love? For I shan’t and I don’t. But I suppose I’m enough of a man to know what I want, to be grateful for what I don’t deserve,” he replied, holding her hand in his, his touch reminding her of the night they’d spent together, how much delight he’d brought her and how he’d enjoyed her cries, how she’d pulled him to her, demanded he give her more like that oh never stop, the most amiable ravishment she could imagine. It would be weeks before they might consummate their marriage but they were both clever and greedy of any joy to be had.

“You mustn’t say that. That I’m more than you deserve, you’re mistaken,” she said and he squeezed her hand. Tomorrow that might hurt, if the ring he gave her pressed into her palm. It was a pain she would welcome.

“I know you were angry at Dr. Foster, that he couldn’t do better by me, but Annie, one eye is all I need to see,” he replied and looked at her intently with the one he had left, with its long, dark lashes and the chalcedony gleam of the iris. “Now, kiss me one last time as Miss Hastings and off to bed with you. Next time, I shall be kissing Mrs. Brannan and she’s the highest of standards.”

She bent over and kissed him softly, deeply, tasting the tonic she’d given him, feeling the way he wanted her, the low sound he made that was part gasp, part moan, an ardent desire that left her dizzy because there was no part of her he knew and did not want, no aspect unknown and unknowable. She put a hand on the bed’s frame to steady herself as she drew back, watching him lick his lips and gaze at her appreciatively.

“Mind you rest. You’ve a long day ahead of you,” she said.

“I wish it were a long night ahead,” he said and she laughed.

“Soon enough, Declan.”

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!

Part 3: Sister Isabella and Matron Brannan

The nuns rejoiced, quietly, that she had found her faith again. Bridget knew it, knew she was remembered in their rosaries, and did not disabuse them. She wore her own rosary around her neck, under the layers of her bodice and shawl; the beads were visible, dark against her white throat, but protected as they wouldn’t be wound around her wrist, unremarkable to any who were not cognizant of their meaning. She took them out when the wards were subdued or when there seemed little chance she would be interrupted at her prayer. Mary had found her with them once and reached out a tentative hand to graze the curved belly of the carved wood as if it were the finest jewel, a baroque pearl or a ruby, saying “It’s a very beautiful ritual, isn’t it? Very…compelling.” She’d learned something during her illness, Bridget thought, something about pain and abandonment and what salvation was and though she spent less time at the hospital since her marriage, she was still in some way its anchor and compass. Certainly Jed Foster had altered since they were wed and Bridget had not been able to keep herself from patting Mary on the hand and praising her for it, noting “He’s finally become what he ought to be, eh? Make sure he gives you the credit you’re due, Mrs. Foster,” enjoying Mary’s response, a knowing smile that did not obscure the softness in her dark eyes. Bridget wondered who would be bettered by Anne’s marriage to Declan, her son or the woman she’d never imagined as a daughter.

It was the most predictable prayer she made and the one she might admit to the Mother Superior if the other woman inquired, God’s blessing on the upcoming marriage. Little Sister Isabella, who’d once had an eye for the Major in his plume and brass buttons, was less easily answered. Was it the nun’s youth or her curiosity? Bridget imagined how her hazel eyes would widen if she told her the truth: that she thanked God for taking her son’s eye, making him lame and weak, ruining his right hand, saving him from another battle. She prayed Anne’s drinking would not become Declan’s, for he was always the worse for gin and had never learned to apologize properly. She addressed the Holy Mother, asking that Anne not be sent a child at all if she might die of it, unable to bear another loss herself, to see her son suffer as she had, even if Anne begged for a baby of her own. She prayed for forgiveness for not seeking the deferment her boy had asked for, as if his honor was worth more than his life, as if her own virtue was worth more than his life, his body unfamiliar since manhood except that she knew those eyes since they’d looked up at her from her breast and the way his hair curled at his nape. And she prayed for absolution for searching the inventory for some additive to Byron Hale’s chicory that would make him ill unto dying and remove any chance he would try to interfere in the wedding, a bottle she’d put back when she found the man in his cups, muttering to himself “She’s gone, s’too late, too late, might as well take the transfer to Hell.”

She remembered Byron Hale in her prayers she told the little nun, for that he was a fine physician and had no helpmeet as had Dr. Foster, and her son and the woman who would be his bride, and winking, said she prayed for them all since they were shortly to lose the light of the Crimea herself and as she’d been telling them all since she arrived, however would they manage?

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!

Part 4: Anne and Byron

“I suppose I must offer you my best wishes on the eve of your marriage. That’s what’s expected, isn’t it?” Byron said from the doorway.

He was rumpled from a full day’s work and once she would have found it a disgrace, that he should come to her without making any effort to be presentable, but tonight, she only found it mildly endearing. He’d not said very much to her since her engagement to Declan had been formally announced, hadn’t tried to convince her to throw her wounded soldier over for him or suggest that she was making a grave mistake. She knew that if he had taken up with a widow visiting the hospital, she herself would have done both and added a healthy measure of bitter recrimination and likely shrieking, but then she had always intended to get her way and he had always been content to settle. She had lost Robert in the Crimea and despite their attachment, Byron had never proposed, never cared enough to secure her, and she did not mean to take a chance with Declan. When he had asked her, an uncommon mixture of charm and diffidence, she had nearly shouted her acceptance, clapping her hand over her mouth at her volume and immediacy and Declan had laughed aloud, thanking her “for not makin’ me wonder if you had any misgivings, acushla!” He had a way about him, Declan did, of taking any awkwardness away and leaving her blushing and basking like a young girl with the pleasure of her first beau’s attentions. She couldn’t say Byron had ever evoked anything like that in her.

“You and I, we were never too concerned with convention, Byron,” she said mildly, making him look at her with surprise, a little relief and some poorly disguised longing.

“No, we weren’t. Though I thought one day, one day convention would suit us both. That is, oh damn it, Anne, I always thought it would be you and I,” he replied, running a hand through his sandy hair, pinching the bridge of his nose. Once, she would have taken this as her signal to come to his side and stroke a hand along his arm and give him an order he’d be eager to follow, “To bed with you now, my dear Dr. Hale!”

“Thought, but never said,” she retorted, a flash of her old venom, all the nights she worried about whether he would ever marry her, whether she would simply be cast aside, a sullied spinster whose value was only in the work she could do, each day less until death would be better than being useless and forgotten.

“You must have known. You know everything,” he replied almost helplessly.

“Not that. Not enough,” she said, suddenly very tired and very much wanting to hear Declan’s voice in her ear, some fond, lilting nonsense, his unshaven cheek tickling hers, her hand reaching to adjust the dressing Miss Green had nearly mastered to her satisfaction.

“If I’d asked you, you would have said yes?” he asked. That he could ask the question and be unsure of her answer told her how little he had ever known her. She thought of how confident Declan was, how well he had understood her from the first and how Byron looked at her through those spectacles, like she was the most complex diagram in the anatomy text he could never memorize.

“Yes, Byron. I would have said yes,” she said.

“But now,” he began hesitantly. If McBurney had succeeded in sending him to Santa Monica, what would have become of him? There would have been no one to come to his rescue.

“Now I am marrying Lt. Brannan. Tomorrow. And I will thank God on my knees for that tonight before I sleep and when I wake. Byron, you need to find your own way. And you need to say good-night,” she said firmly. This would be the last secret to keep from Declan, not because he would laugh, but because he would not, would say, “Ah, the poor bastard, Annie love, how sorry he must be!” She would keep this moment, the lamplight kind to Byron, to her, making them golden and full of regret, purer versions of the selves they had always been to each other and she knew Declan would not grudge her.

“Good-night, Anne. Good-night, my only love,” he said and walked out before she needed to say a word.

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!

Part 1: Henry and Emma

The news had spread through Mansion House on whispers, nods and side-long glances. Henry could not have imagined battle-worn men would be as taken with gossip as his variable flock but it made a certain sense, that they would be eager for something that reminded them of another time and place, that if not entirely wholesome, given the connection and the unspoken assumptions that went along with it, still had the form and function of world unmarred by the War’s brutal destruction. He felt the urge within himself for the former minor pleasures of domesticity and society’s occasional rigid structures. How much he would like to worry over the starch in his collar, whether he had arrived too early for tea, what it meant when a lovely young woman played with the lace at her throat or fumbled with the button on her gloves! The War had humbled them all, reducing all men to the same voice that called out in the night, the same aching flesh, anguished souls, or so it seemed to him and so it seemed he was just another who would find a way to tell someone what he had learned, waiting to see the change in the expression like the sun coming from behind a cloud.

The boy in one bed told the man next to him. The orderlies mumbled to each other in the hall, even the nuns murmured between rosaries, schooling their faces to a uniform cameo. Henry told Emma because who else would he confide in? Who else meant everything, whose response to even the smallest alteration was worth a held breath, a searching gaze?

“I hadn’t thought the War would be interrupted by so many weddings,” he said, watching her eyes that were such a dark blue. She was careful with him now, had been since his disastrous attempt at being a hero, earning his Union commission he had worn so lightly, and though her lips curved a little, she did not laugh aloud or pause in her mending.

“So you’ve heard?” she asked. He should not be very surprised he was one of the last to know, nor that she may have been one of the first. She was very clever and very adept at concealing that when she needed to, or thought she did. He missed seeing her with Nurse Mary, who had made it clear such deception was neither required nor appreciated, who valued above all the genuine and praised it in those she held dearest.

“Corporal Mahoney was crowing about it. I gather they’ve found a priest, a Father O’Brien, to officiate, so I shan’t be there unless they extend an invitation,” he said. He was relieved not to be asked for he could not have brought himself to say no to Miss Hastings and he could not perform the Catholic ceremony Lt. Brannan insisted on.

“Do you think she had given up hope?” Emma said quietly. He had expected some polite remark about how she believed all the staff would be guests at the wedding or how pleased the couple must be to have removed another impediment to their marriage. She spoke as if to her friend Mary, as he imagined she might when she called at the Fosters’ house on Duke St., Jed in his study with his brass microscope and the women talking in the sunny front parlor, Mary pouring out the tea liberally.

“Hope for what?

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Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!

Part 2: Mary and Jed

He couldn’t get enough of Mary. Before, with other women—Ruby in Baltimore, the courtesans in Paris, Lisette, Eliza, he’d taken his pleasure and been done, rolled aside an arm’s length, fallen to sleep, sometimes sat up after a moment and begun dragging his trousers back on, cursing when his sleeves were recalcitrant. He had never acquiesced to cooing or importunate calls to return to bed, to her arms, darling, mon lou-lou, husband. He had taken what he wanted and surfeited, removed himself; he could not say he was a better man even now, for he knew he did not leave Mary’s side simply because she wanted him near, but because his appetite for her was unchanged by the delight he found in her body, her cries, the hazy look in her eyes after she had achieved her own ecstasy through his ardent efforts. He admitted to himself what sounded sentimental said aloud, that it must be he had never loved a woman as he did Mary, perhaps that he had never been in love with a woman before. He had thought Mary might laugh, gentle and low but still making merry at his expense, if he told her but he could not resist that either. He had been wrong, for when he said it, she lifted her head from his chest to look at him and smile, a smile of smoke and moonlight and such deep, abiding affection, and he’d stroked her chestnut hair, the curve her cheek made, and her bare shoulder before she dropped back down to rest against his heart.

“Perhaps Dr. Hale is to blame, that he has not loved Miss Hastings well enough,” she said contemplatively, as if they had been engaged in a lengthy conversation over tea on the relative talents of Dryden and Pope. Her hands played with the curls scattered on his chest and he could not restrain himself from exclaiming in shock, to hear his modest Yankee wife speaking so nonchalantly about sexual congress between their unmarried colleagues.

“Mary! I can hardly believe it’s you saying that!”

“Oh, you thought I meant intimacy,” she replied, chuckling at this as she had not laughed at his confession, pressing her warm, naked body even closer to his. He sighed with the luxurious pleasure of her breasts against him, the silkiness of her skin. She was still too slender from her illness but each day, her vitality returned, her beauty more relaxed and less ethereal. “Oh, Jedediah, I shall have to recall how much fun there is to be had in teasing you, that you are a greater prude than I could ever be…but that is not what I meant, though your idea does have a certain merit to it,” she finished thoughtfully.

“What did you mean then?” he asked, soothed by her praise, intrigued by the direction she was taking, delighted in this new aspect of marriage he had not had before, these conversations in their bed, their bodies languorous, the counterpane above them adequate against the beginning of winter in Alexandria.

“Her temper lately, when I come to work at the hospital I’ve seen such a change in her, and Emma recounts it similarly when she comes to call. Miss Hastings is a woman transformed since her engagement,” Mary said and Jed could not resist interjecting,

“Or perhaps she suffered a head injury during her fainting spell,” drawing from Mary the little huff she made when she felt he was derailing the discussion with unnecessary humor.

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