the kitchen maid

a sad truth of women in relationships; their silent tears in the bathroom, the lights off during sex, unspoken insecurities and questions; fear of being too loud too hysterical too clingy. try to fix themselves to fix the other person’s problems - if i am prettier, smarter, faster, better - try to erase themselves to avoid conflict. small terrible jealousies he does nothing to dispel - he likes her facebook profile picture even after you tell him she rips you open - small terrible compromises that are really just giving up. women who change the core of themselves, who quietly give up dreams for his successes and for his children, who ask for little more than somebody else doing the dishes and still get moaned at. women who are the backbone of their house and still only seen as a kitchen trophy, a maid, a ball and chain.

concept: young thor and loki playing “get help” for the first time to cause mischief together.

like 6 yr old thor with loki yelling to one of the kitchen maids to get help because loki’s so pale and so ill, and the MOMENT the servant runs off they both grab all the cookies that they can and sprint out.

frigga’s too proud of them to give them an actual telling off, which just makes the problem more and more common

oopsnocturnal  asked:

hi! i'd love to hear what you think would have happened if wyldon hadn't let keladry stay after her first year!! love your writing :^)

“Mindelan, it may be that the best thing said of my tenure is that you were my student. Should that be the case, I am the wrong man for this post. I did all I could to get rid of you. Your probation was wrong. You know that, I know it. I was harder on you than any lad. Thank Mithros I remembered my honor and let you stay when you met the conditions—but it was a near thing. Next time, I might not heed the voice of honor.”

– Wyldon of Cavall (Squire)

Kel sat and thought about it all through the long summer– thought about joining the Riders when she turned sixteen, or going back to the Yamani Isles with her parents, or running away to become an unlawful bandit hunter. 

She drank tea with her mother and accepted her quiet sympathy. She wondered what was going to happen to Peachblossom. She did her morning glaive practice dances in the heady air of the tiny courtyard garden of her parents’ townhouse, where the cook grew herbs and spices in big overflowing boxes.

Summer rolled on. She sat, and she thought, and she did not tell her thoughts to anyone. On the first day of what would have been her second year of page training, she woke before the sun and had a quiet breakfast with her father, and then she jogged up the big dusty hill to the palace grounds.

When the pages trailed out of the building to the practice yards with dubious enthusiasm, she was waiting just outside their ground. Her chin was high, her shoulders loose while her hands gripped her weighted staff.

“Probationer,” Wyldon barked out her, when one of the boys went to fetch him. “Was I unclear in the spring?”

Kel stared him down, fingers white on her staff, and said, “I’m not a probationer anymore.”

“She’s a private citizen, just enjoying the fresh air,” Neal called from the other side of the practice yard fence. He got armor cleaning punishment for a week for his cheek and Kel lifted and lowered and struck with her staff to the call of the masters. Her staff hit thin air. The clack of the pages’ staves colliding hit her ears.

“That’s palace property,” Wyldon said ten minutes in, and plucked the staff out of her grip, so Kel followed the lesson with empty hands and brought her mother’s spare walking stick the next day.

They started calling her trespasser, after that, and Kel stood calm on the public grounds just on the other side of the practice yard fence, practicing her high blocks.

While the pages had riding practice, she sat in the dirt outside the riding yard and did the homework Neal smuggled out for her. He handed the finished assignments in for her, too, even though only Myles and the one Mithran priest who had never learned anyone’s names graded them. She took notes on what riding exercises the masters were assigning the pages and watched Neal where he sat on Peachblossom’s back like a sack of mulish peanuts.

“When I heard you weren’t t’ be coming back,” Stefan the hostler told her. “I wasn’t sure what would happen to the old lad.”

“Me, either,” said Kel, looking down at her math and trying to keep her face smooth and still.

When the pages went in for their seated classes, Stefan let her take out Peachblossom to try to exercises herself. Days the gelding was too tired, he found other mounts for her and Kel learned all their names– gentle Aubrey and fastidious Starfall and distractible, clever Redding and poor anxious Terence, who almost threw her more than once. “He comes by the fidgets honest,” Stefan told her and Kel brought extra apples for Terence when she could.

She still took on Lalasa when Gower found her feeding the sparrows in the courtyard beside her old rooms and asked her. Her parents’ townhouse had the funds to hire another maid, though Kel didn’t need or want a personal servant.

Lalasa pinched Kel’s torn clothes from her room all the same and returned them better hemmed and beautifully mended. Kel barely saw her, though she tried to leave a coin from her allowance on the piles of clothes she thought the young woman was most likely to steal away next.

She didn’t ask for the help and she told herself she didn’t want it, but she jogged up the big dusty hill to the palace grounds every day with her weighted harness weighing on her shoulders.

She stood just outside the low fence of the practice yards and ignored Joren’s comments and Zahir’s sneers and the rebukes of the swordfighting teachers– distraction, they said. Lump, waste, failure.

The sun beat down on her aching shoulders and she thought I could stand here forever, thought you are just noise and wind, I am a mountain. I will be here long after you cease howling.

Neal landed blows on Joren’s fingers, apologizing blandly to the masters for his clumsinesses, because Kel had ordered him to get in no fights for her honor. The sun beat down on the careful stitches of Kel’s cotton shirt, which fit as perfectly as Lalasa could manage from a shy distance.

She told herself she didn’t want the help, didn’t need it. Her harness weighed down her shoulders, her makeshift staff weighed down her arms, but the cotton laid light and kind on her back.

Read More (Ao3)

Keep reading

Victorian Era Masterpost


  • Flanders, Judith - The Victorian City
  • Hughes, Kristina - Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England
  • Jackson, Lee - Daily Life in Victorian London
  • Mayhew, Henry et al - The London Underworld in the Victorian Period
  • Mitchell, Sally - Daily Life In Victorian England
  • Pool, Daniel - What Jane Austin Ate and Charles Dickens Knew
  • Stevens, Mark - Life in the Victorian Assylum

E V E R Y D A Y   L I F E

  • Popular Names in the Victorian Era
  • Cassel’s Household Guide (1869) - basically an instruction manual from 1869 telling you how to do everything from making tea to picking a job.
  • Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management: A Guide to Cookery In All Branches (1907) -  Lots of period recipes, plus information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and under house-maids, Lady’s-maid, Maid-of-all-work, Laundry-maid, Nurse and nurse-maid, Monthly, wet, and sick nurses, etc.
  • The Victorian Era-Society
  • Appendix D: English Society in the 1840s
  • Class Structure of Victorian England
  • Victorian England Social Hierarchy
  • Social Restrictions in the Victorian Era
  • (Excerpts From) Promises Broken: Courtship, Class, and Gender in Victorian England (Regarding Broken Engagements and Premarital Sex)
  • Five Filthy Things About Victorian England
  • 1841: A window on Victorian Britain
  • The Demography of Victorian England and Wales
  • What was life like for children in Victorian London?
  • Historical Essays: The Victorian Child
  • The Life of Infants and Children in Victorian London
  • The Inequality Between Genders During the Victorian Era in England
  • Women as “the Sex” During the Victorian Era
  • Writers Dreamtools - Decades - 1840
  • Victorianisms – Adventures in Victorian Slang
  • 56 Delightful Victorian Slang Terms You Should Be Using
  • A Dictionary of modern slang, cant and vulgar words (1859)
  • Victorian slang - a guide to sexual Victorian terms
  • A Glossary of Provincial and Local Words Used in England: To which is Now First Incorporated the Supplement, by Samuel Pegge (1839)
  • Anecdotes of the English Language: Chiefly Regarding the Local Dialect of London and Its Environs (1844)
  • British Slang - Lower Class and Underworld
  • Lee Jackson - Dictionary of Victorian London 
  • Domestic Violence in Victorian England
  • The Victorian wife-beating epidemic
  • How to Survive and Thrive in the Victorian Era
  • 19th-century Radiators and Heating Systems
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray; a mirror of the Victorian Era, era of Hypocrisy
  • The Victorian Supernatural
  • Politics of Victorian England
  • Dualism & Dualities - The Victorian Age
  • Black Victorians: History we’ve been taught claims we’ve only ever been slaves
  • Video: Mini-lecture - London’s Black history
  • Flowers - Victorian Bazaar (The Language Of Flowers)
  • Victorian Funeral Customs and Superstitions
  • Racism and Anti-Irish Prejudice in Victorian England

M E D I C I N E  &  I L L N E S S 

  • Victorian Health
  • Medical Developments In Britain During The Nineteenth Century
  • Hospitals
  • The Entire Case Records from a Victorian Asylum Are Now Online
  • Victorian psychiatric patients’ grim fate in hellish 1800s hospitals
  • Locating Convalescence in Victorian England
  • Sanitation and Disease in Rich and Poor
  • 19th Century Diseases
  • Death & Childhood in Victorian England
  • Health and hygiene in the 19th century
  • Disease in the Victorian city: extended version
  • Musing on Illness in the Victorian Era
  • Female hysteria / Vapours
  • Sent to the asylum: The Victorian women locked up because they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety
  • The History of Women’s Mental Illness
  • Anorexia: It’s Not A New Disease
  • Rebel Girls: How Victorian Girls Used Anorexia to Conform and Revolt
  • Warburg’s tincture
  • Apothecaries and Medicine in the Victorian Era
  • The Creepy Factor in Victorian Medicine
  • Medical Advancements: Victorian Era Prosthetics
  • The Victorian Anti-Vaccination Movement
  • food poisoning in the Victorian era
  • Typhus (Gaol Fever)

L A W ,  G O V E R N M E N T  &  C R I M E

  • Crime in Victorian England
  • The 222 Victorian crimes that would get a man hanged
  • Juvenile crime in the 19th century
  • Victorian women criminals’ records show harsh justice of 19th century
  • Organised Crime in “The Mysteries of London” (1844)
  • Dickens and the ‘Criminal Class’
  • Victorian prisons and punishments
  • Victorian Prison Conditions
  • The Development of a Police Force
  • Life in Nineteenth-Century Prisons as a Context for Great Expectations
  • Gaols
  • Sentences and Punishments
  • Courtroom Experience in Victorian England at the time of Great Expectations
  • Courts of Justice - Victorian Crime and Punishment
  • Victorian Criminal Laws: Barbarism and Progress
  • Child prisoners in Victorian times and the heroes of change
  • Victorian Legislation: a Timeline
  • Women and the Law in Victorian England
  • The Corn Laws
  • The Corn Laws in Victorian England
  • The Anti-Corn-Law League
  • The Corn Laws and their Repeal 1815-1846
  • The Poor Laws During the Victorian Era
  • Private Property and Abuse of Rights in Victorian England
  • Bastardy and Baby Farming in Victorian England
  • Baby Farmers and Angelmakers: Childcare in 19th Century

C L I M A T E ,  W E A T H E R   &   E N V I R O N M E N T

  • The Climate of London (Luke Howard, 1810-1820 - PDF)
  • The Illustrated London Almanack 1847
  • Victorian London - Weather - Fog


  • Victorian Fashion Terms A-M
  • Victorian Fashion Terms N-Z
  • Early Victorian Undergarments; an introduction, and about silk
  • Early Victorian Undergarments; Part 1
  • Early Victorian Undergarments; Part 2
  • Early Victorian Undergarments; Part 3
  • 1830s-1840s Underpinnings
  • A Look at an Original 1840s Corded Petticoat
  • Lingerie Guide : Crinoline - Petticoat
  • 1840s Stays
  • Exploring the Myths of Corsets I
  • Exploring the Myths of Corsets II
  • How to Dress a Victorian Lady
  • Pre-Hoop Era 1840-1855
  • 1840s Fashion (Pinterest Board)
  • 1840-1848 - Early Victorian (Pinterest Board)
  • 1840’s fashion (Pinterest Board)
  • 1840’s fashion: men (Pinterest Board)
  • 1840s Fashion (Pinterest Board)
  • 1840s Fashion (Nineteenth Century) (Pinterest Board)
  • 1840’s fashion (Pinterest Board)
  • Mourning Dress During the Early Victorian Era
  • Victoriana Magazine’s Victorian Fashion
  • Early Victorian Women’s Hats; Part 1, concerning bonnets
  • Early Victorian Women’s Hats; Part 2, for sun & riding
  • Early Victorian Women’s Hats; Part 3, wear whatever you like
  • Empire of Shadows - Clothing (Includes very basic information about upper & lower class fashion, military uniforms & undergarments)
  • Women’s Costume - Dickens Fair
  • Victorian Prudes and their Bizarre Beachside Bathing
  • Victorian Feminine Ideal; about the perfect silhouette, hygiene, grooming, & body sculpting
  • Fatal Victorian Fashion and the Allure of the Poison Garment
  • 1840’s Men’s Fashion
  • Gentlemen |  Early & Mid Victorian Era: A Universal Uniform


  • Public transport in Victorian London: Part One: Overground
  • Victorian Public Transport: The Omnibus
  • Omnibus
  • THE HANSOM CAB - A Visitor’s Guide to Victorian England
  • “Growler” and the Handsome Hansom
  • Regency Travel (Earlier than the Victorian era, but still relevant for the earlier years)
  • A Regency Era Carriage Primer
  • The Victorian Thames - River Thames Society [PDF]
  • Nineteenth-Century Ships, Boats, and Naval Architecture (dozens of links to relevant articles)
  • Early Victorian Rail Travel
  • Catching a Train in the Early 1840s
  • HORSES: Matching a Team — Color is Only the Beginning

M O N E Y   A N D   F I N A N C E S

  • British Currency During The Victorian Era
  • Victorian Economics: An Overview
  • Wages, the Cost of Living, Contemporary Equivalents to Victorian Money
  • Victorian Economics: a Sitemap
  • The Cost of Living in 1888
  • Pride and Prejudice Economics: Or Why a Single Man with a Fortune of £4,000 Per Year is a Desirable Husband
  • The Price of Bread: Poverty, Purchasing Power, and The Victorian Laborer’s Standard of Living
  • How a weekly grocery shop would have cost £1,254 in 1862
  • Costs of dying in Victorian and Edwardian England
  • 18th Century Wages (Earlier than the Victorian era, but good reference)
  • Cost of Items 18th Century  (Also earlier than the Victorian era, but good reference)

F O O D  (A N D   L A C K   T H E R E OF)

  • Victorian Dining
  • The Victorian Pantry, Authentic Vintage Recipies
  • Victorian cooking: upperclass dinner
  • For Rich or Poor: Creepy Victorian Food
  • Victorian History: A Fast Food Generation
  • 10 Weird Foods Sold By Victorian Street Vendors
  • Victorian Food For The Rich & Poor Children
  • Dictionary of Victorian London - Food
  • The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse
  • Victorian England: a nation of coffee drinkers
  • London Life: Victorian Coffee Sellers
  • Victorian street food imagined
  • What the Poor Ate
  • Adulteration and Contamination of Food in Victorian England
  • Workhouse Food
  • An Overview of food in 19th Century Gaols
  • Food and Famine in Victorian Literature
  • Milk teeth of Irish famine’s youngest victims reveal secrets of malnutrition

D R U G S   &   D R I N K

  • The Temperance Movement and Class Struggle in Victorian England
  • Gin Palaces - The Victorian Dictionary
  • Alcohol and Alcoholism in Victorian England
  • Drugs in Victorian Britain
  • Cannabis Britannica: The rise and demise of a Victorian wonder-drug
  • Laudanum Use in the 19th Century
  • Victorian Women on Drugs, Part 1: Queen Victoria
  • Victorian Women on Drugs, Part 2: Female Writers
  • Substance Abuse in the Victorian Era
  • Opium Dens and Opium Usage in Victorian England
  • Chinese Opium Trade; as it was in the mid 1800s
  • Poetry, Pain, and Opium in Victorian England

L E I S U R E   &   E N T E R T A I N M E N T

  • Victorian Entertainments: We Are Amused
  • Entertainment in Victorian London
  • Leisure, An Extensive study of the Victorian Era
  • Vauxhall Gardens | Jane Austen’s World
  • Theatre - Victorian Era 1837-1901
  • Almack’s Assembly Rooms
  • The Cannibal Club: Racism and Rabble-Rousing in Victorian England
  • Restaurants - The Victorian Dictionary
  • The Story of Music Hall
  • Sex, Drugs and Music Hall
  • Victorian and Edwardian Public Houses (List, links to relevant articles about each listed pub)
  • Victorian London Taverns, Inns and Public Houses
  • Gambling in Historic England
  • Gambling in London’s Most Ruinous Gentlemen’s Clubs
  • Victorian Sport: Playing by the Rules
  • Seven singular sports from the Victorian era
  • Penny Dreadfuls; the Victorian era adventures for the masses
  • Romantic Era Songs

H O L I D A Y S & C E L E B R A T I O N S

  • A Victorian New Year
  • Fortune Telling for the Victorian New Year
  • Hogmanay: New Year’s Eve, the Scottish Way
  • Victorian Valentine
  • Valentines Day - The Complete Victorian
  • Easter Traditions During the Victorian Era
  • halloween - The Complete Victorian
  • the traditions of halloween
  • Victorian Christmas - History of Christmas
  • Christmas in the Victorian Era

W E A P O N R Y  &  V I O L E N C E

  • The Victorian Gentleman’s Self-Defense Toolkit
  • Early Victorian attitudes towards violent crime
  • Victorian Violence: Repelling Ruffians (Part One)
  • Victorian Violence: Repelling Ruffians (Part Two)
  • Victorian Violence: Repelling Ruffians (Part Three)
  • Victorian Violence, Part Four ~ Elegant Brutality for Ladies and Gentlemen of Discernment
  • 10 Deadly Street Gangs Of The Victorian Era
  • Early Victorian Handguns; Part 1
  • Early Victorian Handguns; Part 2
  • Early Victorian Handguns; Part 3
  • Pistol Duelling during the Early Victorian Era
  • Cane Guns: Victorian Concealed Firearms of Gentlemen & Cads

M A N N E R S   &   E T T I Q U E T T E

  • Manners & Tone of Good Society (This is a Victorian book on manners, written by an unnamed ‘Member Of The Aristocracy,’ and is available in full to read and covers a ton of ground, everything from leaving cards and morning calls to introductions and titles, and etiquette for many different types of parties and events).
  • The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society (1875)
  • Manners for the Victorian Gentleman
  • Victorian Dancing Etiquette
  • A Checklist of 19th Century Etiquette
  • Social Rituals During The Victorian Era
  • An Online Dating Guide to Courting in the Victorian Era
  • Calling Cards and the Etiquette of Paying Calls
  • Morning Calls and Formal Visits
  • A Time Traveller’s Guide to Victorian Era Tea Etiquette
  • Traveling Etiquette and Tips for Victorian Women
  • Equestrian Etiquette and Attire in the Victorian Era
  • Etiquette Faux Pas and Other Misconceptions About Afternoon Tea
  • Victorian Table Etiquette
  • Victorian London - Publications - Etiquette and Household Advice Manuals
  • Etiquette Rules for Dinner Parties from a Victorian Magazine
  • The Etiquette of Proper Introductions in Victorian Times
  • Forms Of Introductions And Salutations. Etiquette Of Introductions
  • Etiquette for the Victorian Child
  • Victorian and Edwardian Mourning Etiquette
  • Etiquette Of Carriage-Riding
  • Victorian Etiquette - Shopping

U P P E R C L A S S   &   N O B I L I T Y

  • Royalty, Nobility, Gentry, & Titles; A Matter of Victorian Ranks & Precedence
  • Order of Precedence in England and Wales
  • The Victorian Era - The Debutante Tradition
  • The Gentleman - The Victorian Web 
  • “Coming Out” During the Early Victorian Era; about debutantes
  • The London Season
  • The London Season - The History Box

T H E  M I D D L E C L A S S

  • The middle classes: etiquette and upward mobility
  • The Rise of the Victorian Middle Class
  • The Victorian Man and the Middle Class Household - Domesticity as an Ideal
  • Middle Class Life in the Late 19th Century
  • A Woman ’s World: How Afternoon Tea Defined and Hindered Victorian Middle Class Women
  • Working Women in the Victorian Middle-Class
  • The ASBO teens of Victorian Britain: How middle-class children terrorized parks by shouting at old ladies, chasing sheep and vandalizing trees
  • “A Dangerous Kind:” Domestic Violence and The Victorian Middle Class [PDF]
  • Eligible Bachelors: Suitors and Courtship in the Lower Middle Class

T H E   W O R K I N G C L A S S

  • The working classes and the poor
  • Poverty and the working classes (links to relevant articles)
  • Dirty Jobs of the Victorian Era …
  • The Working-Class Peace Movement in Victorian England
  • Victorian Child Labor and the Conditions They Worked In
  • History of Working Class Mothers in Victorian England
  • Income vs Expenditure in Working-Class Victorian England
  • What about the Workers? - 1830s - 1840s

T H E   S E R V A N T   C L A S S

  • Household management and Servants of the Victorian Era
  • Victorian Domestic Servant Hierarchy and Wages
  • Domestic Servants
  • Serving the house: The cost of Victorian domestic servants
  • Domestic Servants and their Duties
  • Precedence in the Servants Hall
  • The Servant’s Quarters in 19th Century Country Houses Like Downton Abbey
  • The REAL story of Britain’s servant class
  • Servants: A life below stairs
  • The Green Baize Door: Dividing Line Between Servant and Master
  • The Victorian Domestic Servant by Trevor May: A Review

T H E   U N D E R C L A S S  (T H E  P O O R) 

  • The Underclass (or the Submerged Class)
  • Poverty in Victorian England: Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist
  • Down and Out in Victorian London
  • Poverty and the Poor | Dickens & the Victorian City
  • The Victorian Poorhouse
  • Poorhouses
  • Victorian Workhouses
  • Entering and Leaving the Workhouse
  • The Poor Law
  • The Poor Law Amendment Act
  • The New Poor Law - Victorian Crime and Punishment
  • London’s Ragamuffins

I N T E R S E C T I O N A L I T Y (Of Class, Gender, Race, and Ability)

  • Class, Gender, and the Asylum
  • The Impact of Social Class Divisions on the Women of Victorian England
  • The Daily Life of Disabled People in Victorian England

W O R K &

  • Early and Mid-Victorian Attitudes towards Victorian Working-Class Prostitution, with a Special Focus on London
  • Prostitution and the Nineteenth Century: In Search of the 'Great Social Evil’
  • Attitudes toward sexuality and sexual identity
  • Victorian slang - a guide to sexual Victorian terms

O T H E R   M A S T E R P O S T S

  • Writing Research - Victorian Era by ghostflowerdreams
  • How to Roleplay in the Victorian Era by keir-reviews
  • Legit’s Historical Fashion Masterpost by legit-writing-tips
  • Susanna Ives - Many Research Links (covers Regency Era - Victorian Era)
I almost lost you...

Expect a number of mini ficlets based on kiss prompts from me over the next few days. This first one was requested by a lovely nonnie -  Captain Duckling and “I almost lost you” kiss. (rated T, 1600 words)

The tip of her silver spoon dips in and out of her lamb stew as she tries to conjure an appetite, her mind too full of other things to focus on the meal before her. It’s been much the same each time she’s sat at this table these past few weeks, eating enough to sustain, but too nervous to indulge - even when presented with her favorite meal of warm brie on toast. He left before dawn almost two fortnights ago, taking with him her heart. The truth of this had hit her like a kick to the gut she received once while learning to fight with one of the Royal Guard, feelings she’s been avoiding stealing her breath as his ship grew smaller and smaller on the horizon. A shakily forged alliance between Pirate Captain and Queen Snow had set him on this journey, his task to pretend to be an ally and ascertain The Evil Queen’s plan.

The man she apparently loves is attempting to trick the most dangerous villain in all the realms and she’s just supposed to sit here and eat food and breathe and - oh god - something’s wrong. Her stomach heaves and her spoon chips the china bowl as it falls from her fingers. Sweat immediately begins to tickle at her temples and along the back of her neck as her own light magic pulses to life beneath her fingertips.

“Emma, what is it?” 

Snow is on her feet and kneeling before her in seconds and Emma lets her hand be taken in her mother’s strong ones, knowing her magic will never hurt the ones she loves. 

“I…I…I’m not sure, I just feel, something has happened…” 

A loud crash and muffled voices cut off her ramblings and soon Grumpy is barreling into the dining room, his face a mask of annoyance as he shakes off one of the palace guards. 

It’s here! The Jolly Roger, it’s back!” 

Keep reading

cinderella of sorts (pt. 1)

synopsis: a servant girl’s change of position has prince wonwoo in a debacle (♥ω♥) modern royalty!au part 2: x part 3: x part 4: x

genre: slight angst, fluff 

word count: 5,033 ♕

“Back straighter!” The woman barked at you from behind. “If I see even the least bit of slouching, I’ll add another hour.”

“Yes, Lady Margaret,” you responded instinctively. There was a dull pain at the bottom of your spine from the endless time you had put in to your new training as a personal servant. Lady Margaret, the harsh noblewoman whose sole job was to break the resolve of rebellious servants, had chosen you to become Prince Wonwoo’s personal hand. In those moments, you even longed to be back slaving away in the kitchens. But those thoughts came in passing as you were afraid to focus on anything but the teetering books atop your head.

“You have one week until Sir Richard officially retires and then you will be Prince Wonwoo’s sole confidant,” she repeated. Poor Sir Richard, you thought. He’s been the prince’s teacher and butler since before I can remember, but now he is too senile to button up a waistcoat. “I expect you to not disappoint me.”

“Of course not, Lady Margaret.” Your legs were going numb for sitting absolutely still in the throne-like chair you had been forced into and the dress’s countless layers itched at your already irritated skin. You didn’t dare ask why you had to go through the same training as a noblewoman, seeing as the most you had ever done was served food to the royals, and your future job only really entailed dressing and following the prince around like a miserable puppy. A part of you appreciated being a kitchen maid, but your pay and status were going to be better, so the suffering almost felt worth it. Hopefully you could finally escape the palace after working there since you were a young teenager– all to pay off your family’s debts.

“A prince’s daily dress is in what order?”

“If it is cold, a cotton undershirt that has the same sleeve length as the overshirt is necessary. The overshirt should always be steamed and pressed as to not have a wrinkle, but not be too crisp that it is uncomfortable or unflattering. The prince is allowed to choose his own cufflinks, but is pleased to be gently advised. The prince’s waistcoat or officer’s coat should always be fastened to conceal his overshirt when he is outside his room or unless he specifically requests otherwise. If the prince is going to an official visit or parade, it is necessary that he be wearing his belt, sash, and epaulettes fastened by matching passants.”

Lady Margaret gave you her regular cold smile, but she seemed rather proud. “And his shoes?”

“The prince is allowed to choose, but he must be reminded of common fashion faux pas.”

“Must I be reminded?” A deep voice said from behind you.

You watched Lady Margaret’s eyes widen and would have spun around immediately if not for the delicate tower you were balancing. She stooped into a deep bow and you quickly swiped the books off of your head and placed them on the long table gently, suddenly keenly aware of the heat crawling up your neck and reaching your face. You stood and faced the image of Prince Wonwoo descending the large staircase, the huge window behind him throwing sunlight across his broad shoulders.

“I dare say all of us need be reminded of certain things each day, Your Highness,” you tried to diffuse the tension with a deep bow that matched your instructor’s. You heard Prince Wonwoo chuckle and a deep sigh of relief from Lady Margaret.

“Right you are,” he nodded. Your breath hitched in your throat when he reached the bottom and took calculated steps towards you while you finally garnered the courage to stand up straight. It was a rare moment of seeing Prince Wonwoo alone before you, without being surrounded by councilmen or tailed by Sir Richard. He was breathtaking, you had to admit, especially up close. Even in simple black slacks and a white dress shirt he seemed to be beaming.

“She is the young woman who is to become your personal assistant, Your Highness,” Lady Margaret interjected. “I was simply quizzing her on your daily dress.”

Wonwoo’s wide eyes traveled back to you. “Does my future personal assistant not have a name?”

You bowed quickly. “I’m Y/N, Your Highness. I am a kitchen maid at the moment.”

“Ah, I knew you looked familiar,” he hummed, one side of his mouth tugging upward. “I’ll leave the both of you alone, then,” he concluded, nodding at each of you before you found yourself once again bowing while he disappeared behind one of the many doors in the dining hall. Lady Margaret let out a huff that made her shoulders fly up before falling again. Your heart finally returned to a steady beat and you made a similar sound of solace.

“Disaster avoided,” she cleared her throat. “Well done, Y/N. I believe we’re finished for today.”

Dinner that evening was uniquely awkward. Kitchen servants generally didn’t interact with the royals outside of meal times, and it was strange pouring wine and holding platters for someone you had spoken to just hours earlier. Wonwoo held an odd smile that was distinctly out of character for him throughout the meal.

“That’s enough,” the king held his hand up to you to stop pouring into his tall glass. “What of you, Wonwoo?”

“I’m quite fine. Y/N already took care of me,” Prince Wonwoo held up his glass as evidence. You stepped back from the table and gulped, instantly feeling the king and queen’s eyes on you.

“Oh, forgive me. Lady Margaret introduced me to Y/N earlier. Father, Mother, she is going to be my new personal assistant,” Prince Wonwoo explained, gesturing in your direction.

“Is that so?” The queen sang, looking you up and down. You felt rather self conscious before the royal family in nothing but your bland servant’s dress and holding a bottle of wine that was certainly more valuable than your life’s savings.

You bowed, clutching the bottle harder than what was necessary. “Yes, Your Majesty. I will do my best.”

“Wonderful,” the king chuckled. “Then you must already be acquainted with Sir Richard.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. He has informed me of everything that will pertain to my duties,” you spoke. They nodded in pleasant agreement and you excused yourself back to the kitchens to fetch dessert plates. When you returned, Wonwoo was standing and pushing his chair in. “Your Highness, are you not going to stay for the cake?”

He shook his head decidedly. “I’m going to see Richard’s car off,” he said, his voice wrapped in sadness though you could tell he had tried to hide it. “Goodbye,” was all he uttered before he paced out of the hall, his coat thrown around his shoulders. His parents watched him go with painful gazes, and all at once you felt their simple family dynamic heavily. You couldn’t help but feel a pang at your heart as you imagined Wonwoo having to let go of the man who practically raised him.

“Y/N, you’ll do well for our boy, won’t you?” The queen mumbled absentmindedly.

“Certainly, Your Majesty,” you answered. You bowed and fled to the kitchens where you let out the breath you had been holding. The other servants were fervently washing dishes but you threw off your apron and gathered your skirt in your hands so you could jog to the main hall. When you finally arrived, you saw Prince Wonwoo coming back through the main palace doors, from the darkness into the light. He was looking at his feet and had his hands stuffed into the stiff pockets of his slacks.

“Your Highness,” you called to him, your feet flying across the plush rug. His head snapped up and shocked eyes met yours, and you gave a short bow to him when you were just a few feet apart. “I came to give my apologies that Sir Richard has to leave. Your Highness must have been very attached to him.”

“Indeed,” he murmured. His fingers were fiddling with the cuff of one of his sleeves as he searched your face. “Why you?”

“Pardon?” You asked, your head tilting slightly.

“Why did Lady Margaret choose you?”

You had given the same question extensive thought and still had no answer. “I’m not sure, Your Highness. I promise I will do my best to provide like Sir Richard.”

He looked down at you– you always forgot just how brooding he was– and nodded. “I would hope so. I’ll be off to bed now.” With that, he walked past you, in the direction of the residential wing. One of the guards at the door gave you a shrug. You shook your head in minor disbelief and slowly walked to the servants’s dormitories.

The Saturday’s blue dawn barely lit up your small room in the servants’s wing; you rolled out of bed reluctantly, but padded around getting ready as you had no intention of being late on your first day. You crept past the other soundly sleeping maids, many of whom were grateful they weren’t on breakfast duty. You threw open your wardrobe after brushing your teeth in the communal bathroom, even pressing on some make-up (Lady Margaret’s voice echoed in your head: you will be in the presence of the prince around the clock, after all). New dresses filled the rack, replacing the old maiden outfits you had worked in for years. Your heart swelled at their beautiful simplicity, but a part of you longed for the practical skirts you were used to. Nevertheless, you pulled one off of its hanger and put it on, your hands running over the soft skirt. It had elbow-length, breathable sleeves and its cream skirt fell just below your knees. The feeling of having your hair down was pleasantly unusual, and you had a bounce in your step as you headed to the kitchens to pick up Prince Wonwoo’s breakfast platter.

You carefully ascended the stairs with the silver tray which was weighed down with toast, fruit, and the type of coffee that Sir Richard had described to you in annoying detail. You knocked on Wonwoo’s door softly, one arm balancing the food, and turned the knob when his crisp morning voice said you could come in. You entered, struck by his messy hair and his normally prestigious frame adorned with black silk pajamas. He was sitting on the side of his bed, his long legs slung over the side, and gave you a weak smile as you set his breakfast on a coffee table just a few feet away. “Good morning, Your Highness,” you chirped, walking over to the window and throwing the drapes open. “I do hope you slept well.”

“I did, thank you,” he yawned, wobbling over to an armchair and sinking into it. You threw open the door to his closet and began picking out each aspect of his outfit precisely before laying each piece over the foot board of his huge bed. Finally, you grabbed the polished wood box filled with cufflinks and presented it to him.

“What would you like today, Your Highness?”

His tired eyes scanned the rows intently while he sipped on his coffee. “You pick.”

You raised your brows, but plucked out a pair of silver cuff links with metal that appeared to be tied in shiny knots. You heard Prince Wonwoo chuckle as you returned the case to the closet. “Is something the matter, Your Highness?”

“Not at all. It’s just that those were Richard’s favorites,” he said, more to himself than to you. You felt your chest deflate and busied yourself with selecting a gray waistcoat. “Y/N, this coffee is good,” he changed the subject.

“I’m glad, Your Highness,” you smiled, finally done with the meticulous process of putting an outfit together. “If you don’t mind, it’s time for you to pick some shoes, Your Highness.”

He got up and was suddenly just inches from your face when he playfully asked, “Are you sure you don’t need to remind me of common fashion faux pas?”

It was rude to break the gaze of a royal, but you instantly turned your head in embarrassment. “I apologize for that incident, Your Highness. It was not our intention to insult you.”

“If you don’t wish to insult me,” he stepped around into your field of vision again. “Then call me Wonwoo.”

You were so shocked that you stuttered for several seconds before you finally insisted, “That’s simply not possible, Your Highness.” You intentionally avoided his warm brown irises.

“Why is that?” He inquired, taking another step toward you. “Richard called me Wonwoo.”

“That– that was a very different circumstance,” you stumbled, hurrying over to his foot board and snatching clothes off their hangers in urgency. You could hear him laughing behind you, but you were so red in the face that you couldn’t bear to turn. He stepped in front of the full-body mirror that hung over his closet door and began unbuttoning his pajama shirt, letting it fall from his shoulders. Your eyes were glued to the floor so you weren’t tempted to stare at his bare torso. You helped him button his white dress shirt and light gray waist coat and turned away while he pulled on gray slacks; he stepped into the shiny black shoes he had finally decided on and tugged on a fitted gray sports jacket.

“Bow tie?” You suggested, holding up a black one, which you tied around Prince Wonwoo’s neck after a swift nod from him. You stepped back and admired your work while he fastened his cufflinks.

“I have a luncheon with the prime minister, so I won’t be seeing you until afternoon tea,” he explained. “While I’m away, I would appreciate you dusting my study.”

“Certainly,” you agreed, beginning to make his bed. He popped another strawberry into his mouth and watched you work. The two of you sat in comfortable silence while you went about the room, familiarizing yourself with the space Sir Richard had told you so much about. You grabbed a kerchief from the dresser and Prince Wonwoo watched in a daze as your delicate hands folded it into a neat square before you bashfully slid it into his front pocket. “Perfect.”

You took the mostly empty platter from the table, including the drained coffee cup, and made your way towards the door. With one leg holding it ajar, you called, “Have a good day, Your Highness.”

A flattered smile spread across his face. “You too, Y/N.”

Prince Wonwoo’s study smelled of old parchment and the wood that sat charred in the fireplace. Thick books of laws, poetry, and stories lined each wall with each tall set of shelves presenting a new part of his collection. A thick layer of dust covered every inch of the room, apart from Prince Wonwoo’s tidy desk. You imagined that the prince had kindly refrained from asking Sir Richard to clean in his deteriorating state; you subconsciously smiled at the sweet thought.

You gripped your feather duster, furniture polish, and rags and got to work. Your eyes scanned all of the interesting series that decorated the shelves. A surprised laugh sprang from you when you came across a stack of records that contained Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. “To think Jeon Wonwoo likes easy listening on records,” you said under your breath, sliding a Perry Como record out of its case and carefully setting it on the nearby antique player. The needle glided across the vinyl and you sang along as you cleaned.

Don’t let the stars get in your eyes
Don’t let the moon break your heart
Love blooms at night
In daylight it dies
Don’t let the stars get in your eyes
Or keep your heart from me
For some day I’ll return
And you know you’re the only one I’ll ever love…  

Hours later, you were finally finished with the meticulous dusting around the spine of each book and you spent the next several hours steaming and pressing Prince Wonwoo’s shirts, another mind-numbing process. You were just hanging the pristine shirts when you looked down at your wristwatch and nearly cursed at the time– three. You hissed to yourself in annoyance and darted out of the room and down the staircase to greet Prince Wonwoo and accompany him to tea with his family and, presumably, some councilmen. He was just coming through the palace doors, waving goodbye to his driver, and you suddenly thought back to the sad farewell of last night but shook it from your mind and smiled at the prince.

“Good afternoon, Y/N,” he greeted you with a bright smile. You grinned back at him and bowed.

“Welcome home, Your Highness,” you said. “You seem to be in a good mood.”

“Policy is going well,” he told you, gesturing that you follow him to the dining room. “Tell me, how miserable were you while dusting today?”

You resisted the urge to laugh. “Not at all. You were very gracious to Sir Richard, Your Highness.”

He busted out with laughter in a way that made your fingertips tingle and cheeks raise up. “Perhaps a little too gracious. Thank you for doing it.”

“There is no need to thank me, Your Highness,” you contended, walking past him so you could hold the door to the dining room open to him. He raised a brow at you and paused his walking.

“There’s always a need.” You could have sworn he winked at you in that moment, but he disappeared past the door frame and you were obligated to follow, regardless of your pounding heart.

“Ah, Father, Mother,” he yelled, much to the surprise of the king and queen. “Good afternoon.”

“Why hello, son,” the king chortled while Prince Wonwoo kissed his mother’s cheek. You pulled out a chair for the prince and slid it back into place before stepping away from the table, like you were used to as a servant. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Nothing in particular. The Prime Minister was in a fine mood and I learned this morning that Y/N is a barista in her own right,” the prince chatted, and you nearly jumped at the sound of your name. You weren’t sure you were ever going to get used to the royal family speaking of you so much.

“How lovely,” the queen said, her warm eyes finding yours. “So you’re getting on well, Y/N?”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” you clasped your palms together with nerves.

The family talked among themselves for the rest of the hour about national affairs and other matters you didn’t understand, so you ended up drifting into your own thoughts while you stood several feet behind the prince’s chair. You were astounded at all you had discovered about him in just the few months of training you had done, and the one day of actually knowing him personally. The man you had always perceived as cold and off-putting liked his coffee in a very particular way– so sweet it could hardly still be called coffee– and kept his own vinyls of big band music. He was surprisingly sweet and just wanted to be called by his first name, despite your status forbidding that. You almost wanted to cry at just how ignorant you were before. How could you have served the royal family for so long and still not known him?

“I’d like to go for a walk now,” the prince announced, standing and throwing his sports jacket over one arm. You bowed to the king and queen and followed him out to the courtyard. The two of you began your stroll through the royal arboretum, you offering to carry his sports jacket beneath the leafy shade offered by the rows of trees, and he only gave in after you insisted. “You know, Richard would be giving me a lecture about every single tree we passed.”

You gave him a sad smile. “Well,” you began, pointing to a mature oak just ahead on the path. “I fell out of that tree while I was playing with one of my servant friends when I was ten. I broke my arm and Lady Margaret still hasn’t let me live it down.”

The prince let out a hearty laugh that you found yourself wishing you could hear all the time. “So you’ve been here for that long?”

You tilted your head in thought. “I suppose, Your Highness. It’s odd now that I think about it.”

He shook his head, apparently not comprehending. “What a life. I couldn’t imagine…” He trailed off.

“Don’t misunderstand, Your Highness, I enjoy serving here,” you declared. The pang of loneliness and homesickness in your chest was painful, but who were you to complain to a prince?

He remained silent and you could tell he was lost in thought. His hands were tucked in his pockets with each thumb sticking out, like they always did when he was dazed. Maybe you had studied him more than you thought. The two of you walked the path full circle, both wandering through your own thoughts, and arrived back at the start before you realized that time had passed.

The prince cleared his throat and took his jacket from your arms. “I think I’ll go to my study now, as I do believe I have some work I need to finish. I’ll meet you back in my room… after dinner?” He suggested. You nodded and bowed to his retreating figure. As you walked back to your own room for some pleasure reading, you wondered if the heat on your face was from the afternoon sun or the thought of undressing the prince later on.

“Come in,” Prince Wonwoo called to you on the other side of the door for the second time that day, and you were no less nervous than before. You twisted the gold knob and found him lounging in the armchair next to his bed, feet crossed and propped up on the coffee table, with a novel in his hands. He shut the book decidedly and tossed it on the table, walking over to stand in front of his mirror, while you set your empty laundry basket on the end of his bed. He watched the news on his huge television while you undid his cufflinks and the buttons on his dress shirt before tossing it in the basket.

“I found something rather peculiar in my study today,” he smirked, unfastening his Rolex and handing it to you.

“Did I not dust well enough?” You asked.

“No, no,” he chuckled. “There was a record that I haven’t listened to in ages still spinning on my player.”

“I’m so sorry, Your Highness, that was my mistake,” you gasped. “I should have never touched it–”

“You like Perry Como?” He said, barely audible. You stared at him in absolute awe, confused and amused all at the same time.

“Quite a lot,” you admitted while polishing the face of his Rolex with your skirt.


He pulled the cotton shirt underneath off and discarded it, too, before handing you his belt to put alongside his cufflinks in the closet. You did just that while he stripped entirely and you heard him start his shower. You left with the laundry basket on your hip, the tones of the prince’s singing following you into the large hallway; you wouldn’t dare tell anyone, but you lingered outside the door just a little while to listen.

Months went on like this, with you bringing breakfast and dressing him every morning, while you did chores or errands for him throughout the day. He finally convinced you to call him Wonwoo (This stays exclusively between us, you threatened), and he confided in you about a surprising number of things. He complained that you were too reserved around him, but you didn’t dare to become more casual with him in fear of being improper or, even worse, falling in love with him. You began being rather short in your conversations and limited your time with him.

One night, you entered to start his regular routine to find him surrounded by papers, bottles of expensive whiskey, and rings of condensation from him moving his glass around. You sighed and began to organize the papers on the table. “Rough day?”

Half of his face was covered with one of his large hands while the other held a half-empty glass. From what you could see, he had a bitter smile on his face and his cheeks were aflame with the obvious rash of drunkenness. Wonwoo didn’t answer you, which was really all the answer you needed. You helped him stand and it took all the strength you had to not laugh at his hiccups, though a large part of you was sad that he had drank himself into this state. Nervous hands stripped his top half, while his miserable head was slung over your shoulder.

“I– I hate when they do… that,” he slurred into your ear. Both of you almost toppled over when you tried to get him step out of his slacks, but you steadied him and practically carried him over to his bed, sliding his pajama shirt over his arms and working on its buttons.

“What do you hate, Wonwoo?”

He laughed. It was a pitiful, lonely laugh that made you feel worse than if he was sobbing. “I hate when they say– they say that I’m s’pposed to marry some random girl,” he hiccuped again. “Their efforts are… use– useless,” he muttered, looking over your shoulder to some dejected place.

“It’ll be alright, Wonwoo,” you tried to comfort him, giving up on the idea of getting him in pajama bottoms and simply pressing his shoulders so that he would lie down. You pulled the covers up to his neck and found that his glazed-over eyes were looking at your face again.

“No, no it won’t,” he whispered. His eyes fluttered until they were barely open.

“I don’t see why not,” you consoled him while gathering his clothes and throwing them into your basket.

“It’s because I…” he shook his head. “It’s awful, Y/N. Just awful.”

You sighed and put the basket down on the carpet before slowly sitting on the side of his bed. “What’s awful?”

“It hurts loving you this much,” he groaned. His eyes were closed. Your heart fell to the floor.

“You don’t mean that,” your voice broke and you were thankful he couldn’t see the tears fall down your face and onto his duvet. He had certainly passed out, while you felt your chest could explode with admiration and anguish. You reached a hand out and stroked his cheek. “Wonwoo, darling…You let it happen.” The sleeves of your dress dabbed away your incessant tears. “You let the stars get in your eyes.”

You took the laundry basket and finally left. Every time you tried to sleep that night, you saw his face and were jolted awake.

Your steps were horribly slow up to his room the next morning: you even considered feigning illness and sending a butler up there for him, but you didn’t want to embarrass him by exposing his hangover. So you took the grim march with the tray that held his breakfast (including ice water and aspirin, the medicine you had sneaked out of the infirmary) and hoped that your exhaustion wasn’t painfully obvious.

You knocked on the door and weakly called out, “Prince Wonwoo?” There was no answer and after waiting several seconds, you pushed the door open and walked in anyway. You were surprised to find him fully dressed, sitting in his regular armchair, with the drapes still closed. The only light in the room came from his bedside lamp. You kicked the door closed and melted at his sorrowful gaze, his hands pressed together in front of his mouth, and his tall frame slouched in the chair. Dark circles lined his eyes, and there was a definitive crease in his forehead, probably from his headache. He said nothing as you walked over and put the tray on the coffee table.

All you could think to do was crouch beside him and wrap your arms around his shoulders, so you did just that. He exhaled deeply and stood to hug you back, his arms firm around your waist and your head tucked under his chin.

“I really did say it, then,” he mumbled, to which you simply squeezed him tighter. 

“One of us had to, I suppose,” you tittered, leaning back so you could see his face. You used the pad of your thumb to swipe away the one tear that escaped his eye. “You know this is no good, Wonwoo.”

He shook his head slowly, pursing his lips. “Say it.”


“Say you love me too. I’m fully aware this is in no way easy for you, but I can’t imagine that you could look me in the eyes in this exact moment and tell me you don’t feel this.”

You sighed in disbelief and a stinging adoration for the man who still had his arms locked around your waist. The dull light of the room highlighted the tired features of his face, but you still thought he looked like pure art. Thoughts of his dismal state the previous night in contrast to his lighthearted personality in the day raced across your mind. Did he even know what he was getting himself in to? Could you stop him from barreling down a road of uncertainty even if he did know?

“Wonwoo, I love you more than you’ll ever know,” you sniffled. “That’s why I can’t let you–”

His large hands held each side of your face and instantly his soft lips were pressed to yours. You took in the smell of his musky cologne and the way your fingertips felt clutching his sides. One of his hands wandered to the nape of your neck and cradled your head.

Wonwoo broke away with the most dazzling smile you had ever seen. “I’m the prince. I’m fairly sure I’m the one who makes the decisions.”

“Lady Margaret is going to give me an earful about this.”

The Maid Tommy Shelby x Reader Request

Hey everyone! It anyones listening… I haven’t actually been able to watch season 4 of Peaky Blinders so I just kind of did the story to my best ability. I had a lot of fun writing this though. If you anyone wants a second part to this please let me know.

Request: Working as a maid for Tommy and him slowly falling in love with you

“Come on Charlie, Come on.” You soothingly bounced the toddler on your hip while pouring hot water from the china teapot decorated with lavender stalks into a beautiful delicate white china teacup.
You placed Charlie on the table you were working on to arrange the plate of biscuits that you were asked to bring out to the study.  You careful picked up the teacup and saucer and held it in your right hand and with your left you careful balanced the plate of biscuits on your forearm.
You then carefully very carefully picked up Charlie with your left arm holding him against your hip. You complimented yourself on your fine ability. You slowly started to walk out of the kitchen and into the drawing room, that was cozily decorated for Christmas. A big tree was planted in the corner. You smiled gently remembering helping pick Charlie up to help him put the star on the very top.
The fire was burning brightly helping maintain the warmth. Ada and John were sprawled out on the overstuffed armchairs talking loudly and laughing at the littlest things. You walked through and entered the front room.
Arthur and Micheal were in a heated discussion over something probably not that important. Both were grasping a cup of whiskey.
Lizzie was sitting on the recliner in the corner reading a book contently.
You continued to walk through until you were met with the door to the study. You stood for a second a bit stumped at how you were going to knock but soon you realized you had an extra pair of hands.
“Charlie, Charlie.” You cooed. “Could you knock for me?”
You spent the next couple minutes trying in vain to get Charlie to cooperate but the poor little boy didn’t know what you were saying to him.
You finally gave up and started to knock with your head when the big oak door swung open. Revealing Tommy standing there with an amused smile on his face.
“I heard you were having a bit of trouble.” He chuckled.
“Charlie wasn’t cooperating with me.” You teased.
You entered the big room, happy to find Polly sitting on a couch smoking a cigarette.
She looked over at you as you walked closer. “Darling, I don’t know how you do it all.”
You smiled humbly and set the tea down for Tommy and the plate of biscuits most likely for Polly.
Tommy came up behind you and gently lifted Charlie from your arms. You watched fondly as Tommy sat down with him talking to him quietly, making him laugh.
“Do you need anything else?” You asked politely to the both of them.
Tommy looked up from Charlie. “We’re fine, why don’t you get an early night? You deserve it.”
“Do you want me to put Charlie to bed?” You offered.
“No, it’s okay. I’ll do it."Tommy responded looking up from his son.
"Good night.” You said and turned around and headed back through the rooms until you reached the kitchen. You closed the door to gain some privacy from the rest of the Shelby’s.
You went about preparing yourself some dinner.  You had been Tommy’s right handmaid for about three years now, three long years. He had hired you after his wife’s death to help run the house. You didn’t really mind the job. It wasn’t a huge amount of work, it was only really Tommy and Charlie, which was a bit sad.
You always glanced up at the painting of Grace Shelby as you passed it in the hall, and she was captivating, remarkably beautiful.  Over the years you had worked for Tommy the two of you started to share a connection a special connection.
He would never let any other servant into his study except you. He preferred you to take care of Charlie, he never minded when you sparked up a small chat with him when he wasn’t busy and he also never minded you cleaning the room he was in, which he could never stand with any other maid.  
You liked that he allowed you to do these things. They were small in some peoples eyes but to Tommy, they were a big step. You had also grown to do certain special things tailored for Tommy. You know the time he comes home so you always put a glass and bottle of his favorite whiskey on his desk. You also decorate the house for him around the holidays which he would never admit but truly loves. When he forgets presents for his family you always buy and wrap some for him. And if he’s had a really bad day then you run a bath for him.
You sigh gratefully as you sit down in the chair at the kitchen table with your sandwich and cup of tea. You reach across the table and grab your book and begin to read.
After a couple minutes, you hear a few attempts at someone trying to open the door. You reluctantly get up from your comfortable seat and go open the door, only to find little Charlie staring up at you with a smile on his small little face.
“Whacha ya’ doin here little one?” You asked picking him up. You closed the door with your hip and plodded on over to the cabinet rustling around for a box of biscuits.
When you found them Charlie made a noise of happiness. You chuckled.
“Just like your dad, aren’t you? He loves these as well.” You go over to your chair and sit down pretzel style and place Charlie on your lap and give him a couple of biscuits while you continued eating.  You both fell into a nice quiet silence, Charlie eating his biscuit and you eating your dinner while sipping your tea.  Soon Charlie fell asleep leaning against your chest and you continued reading your book in peace.
A little while later you were brought out of your content little world when you heard a chuckle. You immediately looked up. Tommy was leaning against the door frame with a genuine smile on his face.
“He really does like you.”
You blushed a little under the watchful eye of Tommy. You glanced down at Charlie and smiled.
“Do you need anything, Mr. Shelby?” You said looking up at the man.
“I just wanted to see where my son went running off to. I was going to put him to bed now everyones left.”
You immediately leaped up holding onto Charlie. “I’m really sorry Mr. Shelby! I didn’t know they were going so soon, I would have gotten there jackets!” You looked at him apologetically.
“Don’t worry. I had a hunch you were with Charlie, I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“That’s very kind of you, Mr. Shelby. I’ll go collect all the dishes.”  You walked towards the door, stopping to give Tommy Charlie so he could put him to bed.
“Good night Mr. Shelby, good night Charlie!” You called over your shoulder as you started tidying up.
You were peacefully sleeping in your room on the third floor which was the same floor as Tommy and Charlie. Tommy had insisted on it for the sake that Charlie like you best.
You were awoken from your slumber by a loud wailing. You slipped on a light robe over your thing night dress and walked slowly towards Charlies room.
“Charlie, Charlie.” You softly sang as you sat down with him in your arms. You slowly rocked him on your lap. You thought for a moment and then began to softly chant a few lines of a poem.
“In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.” You repeated those few lines a few more times and eventually, Charlie was fast asleep. After you had laid Charlie in his bed you turned around and let out a yelp at the sight of a figure in the door.
“God! Mr. Shelby, you scared me.” You tried very hard not to look at his bare, perfectly sculpted chest.
“Where did you hear that poem?” He asked quietly.
You gestured to Charlie sleeping and walked out into the hallway that was dimly lit.
“I was a nurse in the war. I heard the poem said by a soldier before he died. So whenever a soldier was close to death and had no comfort I tried to bring it to them with soothing words. Why?” You answered in a whisper.
He looked a bit surprised, which you didn’t see quite often.
“I didn’t know you were in the war.”
“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me.”
Before you registered what was happening Tommy had brushed a few loose strands of hair that were covering your face.
“I like your hair down and a bit messy.” He whispered.
“I like your hair a bit messy too.” You said while reaching up and brushing his bangs aside.
“Good night, Mr. Shelby.”
The next couple weeks were calm and unchangeable Tommy went out to work early in the morning and came back late as usual. On one particular wintery day, Charlie had drawn a picture of Tommy that was quite endearing.  
“You want me to show this to dad?” You asked as you stroked Charlie'shair as he was about to fall off to sleep.
He nodded and whispered a sleepy, “Yes, please.”
You smiled and kissed his forehead feeling bad for the little boy, growing up with no mother, and having a sweet but distant father.
You loved this time of night. When the house was still. The few cooks Tommy hired were cleaning the kitchen. The other two maids were cleaning the upper two floors, leaving you the ground floor.  
You hummed a quiet tune as you dustied around and cleaned up things that were left around.
You had just started to dust the study when you heard the door open behind you. You looked around and saw a very tired looking Tommy. He gave you a solemn nod and sat down on the couch with a sigh.
You queitly coutinued your tidying taking care to be extra quiet You could sense Tommy’s tiredness.
As you finished up you made your way towards the door, and said a quiet “Good night Mr. Shelby.”
But just before you left you heard him mumble a few words.
You turned around to make sure you werent hearing things and you watched as Tommy gestured for the seat across from him. “Please, sit.”
You hesitated for a moment but you gave in and went to sit down on the carefully polished leather couch.
“I’m tired,” Tommy said suddenly letting out a stream of smoke.
You looked up from fiddling with your hands in surprise, Tommy had never expressed his emotions to you before.
“Me too,” you responded quietly.
You stared at eachother for a long time.
“Where are you from?” Tommy asked.
“London.” You said simply.
“You’re smart, why did you end up as a maid?” He said in his deep monotone voice.
“I was in school until the war came and they needed nurses, so I stopped doin math and started stitching up soldiers instead. When I got back, I had no experience for anything then a household job.”
“What was your job before this?”
You suddenly found it quite hard to look Tommy in the eye.
“I didn’t have a job before this.”
Tommy looked at you with confusion written on his face.
“How did you make money?”
You glanced away from Tommy and began to inspect the vase that sat on the side table.
“I was married. My husband had the job.”
Tommy suddenly sat forward. “You’re married?” He asked.
“Was.” You whispered looking back at Tommy.
Tommy was now the one that found it hard to look you in the eye.
“I’m sorry, I understand how it feels.”
“I wish you didn’t” And with those last few words you stood up and remembering Charlies drawing you took it from your apron pocket and unfolded it and handed it to Tommy.
You walked out of the study. Only to stop when you heard his voice, “Tommy,” You turned around, “Sorry?” You asked in confusion.
“Please, call me Tommy.”


It’s only recently that I discovered both Diego Velazquez’s “Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus” and  Denise Levertov’s poem inspired by the painting.

Notice how the “kitchen maid” seems to be watching the event from a reflection in the jar! Try to compose yourself within the scene. Take your place in the painting. Read Levertov’s poem a few times and then consider this one question:

  • Who are you in the scene and how are you participating in its unfolding?

The Servant-Girl at Emmaus
(A Painting by Velazquez)

She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?

Surely that face—?

The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

Poem: Denise Levertov, The Servant Girl at Emmaus from The Stream & The Sapphire (New Directions, 1997)
Art: Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus, c. 1617-1618

Star-crossed lovers

ANON REQUESTED: Hello! Could you write a one shot with jon snow please? Where the reader is the daughter of the winterfell maid and when she dies Nedd gets y/n to care, she grows along with the Starks and gets very close to them, y/n and jon end up falling in love but jon leaves for castle black and she stays “Depressive”, like, she don’t smile anymore. After the war between jon and ramsey they meet again and you can make a super fluffy final, please? i just found you blog and i love it ❤️

Jon Snow x fem!Reader

Words: 1712
Notes: Y/N = your name; f/c = favorite color.

Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn had always been kind to your family, especially in the rough times they supported your parents in every possible way. Your house was not important like house Stark, but it was respected and your castle led over rich domains. Sadly, you seemed to be born under a bad sign as the first years of your life were scarred by tragedies: first, your land started to dry out and the crops had been poor; shortly afterwards you father fell ill and even maester Luwin couldn’t do anything to save him. As a widow who was no longer of marriageable age, with nothing but unfertile lands for dowry, your mother accepted lady Catelyn’s offer to stay in Winterfell and she became one of her maids; anyway, a few months later, she died too, leaving you alone. That was when Eddard and Catelyn Stark decided to take care of you, welcoming you in their castle as their own child.

You were tutored by septa Mordane with Sansa, but you also liked to play with Robb and Jon with wooden swords and mud in the courtyard. Those days of your childhood, spent with the Stark children who were roughly the same age as you, were quite happy indeed. The three of you got along fine, but when Theon arrived in Winterfell, Robb unattached himself a little from Jon and you, bonding with the Greyjoy as they were brothers. Theon, moreover, seemed to despise Jon: they were always quarreling, dragging you and Robb in, and that regularly resulted in fistfights and punishments for everyone.

So, in a way or another, you grew up with the Starks and became a pretty, young northerner lady. To return the kindness of their parents, you took care of Bran, Rickon and Arya, especially Arya, and because of it you often ended up with her and Jon in the backyard shooting arrows at a wooden target, just like that day.

Arya stood in front of the both of you, stretching the bowstring and taking aim; you seated on the low wall just ten feet further, humming and kicking the air, while Jon leant against the bricks right next to you.

– Are those new shoes? – he asked suddenly.

You looked at him at first and then you lowered your eyes to the f/c slippers and nodded.

– Such attention to detail – you kidded stealing one of his rare smiles.

– Just thought they were pretty.

– I agree, – you stated clicking the shoes’ tips, – that Greyjoy can be a prick, but when it comes to this kind of things he really knows his stuff.

– Theon? – Jon asked with wide eyes.

– A-Aye… – you stuttered timidly noticing his gaze souring.

At that moment, Arya yelled from across the yard, – It would be nice if my teachers looked at me hitting the bull’s eye! –, and she unstuck the arrow from the target.

– Well done! – Jon shouted back, then he left without saying more or even giving you the time of day.

You gave a quick and worried look to the little girl, waved her a short bye, and followed him inside.

– Why are you angry? What did I say? – you exclaimed walking briskly at his back. At those words, he stopped and turned to face you.

– Are you serious, Y/n? Are you really taking presents from Theon?

– Is that the problem? Theon buying me a pair of shoes?

You didn’t expect a reaction like that, but the look he had on his face was quite troubled. You sighed, searching for the right words to explain him the situation.

– He bought me a new pair of shoes because he ruined my old ones making me falling in the muck, two days ago.

Jon’s frown soothed a little, but not enough. You groaned and took one of your feet.

– Y/n…? – he said confused watching as you put off the slippers. You then pounded them on his chest.

– Here. Take them, Jon.

The two of you remained quiet and so close you could feel your breaths on the skin. Your lips were just few inches apart. That day, with your new shoes pressed on his chest, bare feet on the cold stone floor, you gave your first kiss to the Stark bastard Jon.

Because of Lady Catelyn opinion about him and because you felt so in debt to her, you and Jon agreed to keep your love affair a secret for just you and him two. Even if you found it hard not to sink your fingers in his hair when he was seating beside you at the dinner table, or not to rest your head on his shoulder when you were watching Arya and Bran practicing, you held on for the sake of your love. Jon was struggling too for the same identical reasons, not to mention the great effort he had to make to stay calm every time Robb, or worse Theon, got too close to you. Besides, you were the only good thing happened to him in a whole life and the only thought that helped him getting through Lady Catelyn bitterness day after day. He didn’t talk to you about it, he didn’t want to be a burden or made you sad, but he could not consider Winterfell his home anymore, and the night he heard by mistake Lord Stark and his wife discussing about a possible suitor for you from the riverlands, he made his decision, alone.

The night of the celebration in honor of the royal family’s arrival, when you joined him outside in the cold night air, you felt something was wrong. Then Jon stretched out a hand and took you by the wrist, keeping you close to him. Resting his forehead on yours he told he was leaving for the Wall and you knew deep down inside there was nothing you could do to make him stay: if you forced him to do that, he would eventually hate you too. So, the next day you let him go away with his uncle; when his figure disappeared over the distance, he took all your love, joy and laughs away with him. No one never heard your laugh once since that farewell.

There is not much to tell about the following years: you spent your days out of apathy, sharing fake smile cold as the north winds. During the Ironborns’ possession of Winterfell, you helped Bran and Rickon to escape, but were not able to run away with them; free or caged, you had nothing to lose anyway.

Speaking about Ramsey Bolton, the things were different. Under his captivity, you really were frightened. You saw what he did with Theon and what your poor childhood friend had become because of his twisted mind. Twice you implored the bastard to have mercy, and twice his men beat you senseless; by the time you restored consciousness, you found yourself in the courtyard, with rain and blood all over your dress, hands and face. Servants had orders to ignore you, on pain of death. After that, Ramsay ordered you to serve as a kitchen maid, and so you did. Once Sansa came back and became his wife, he humiliated you in front of her more than one occasion, dressing you with rags, keeping you locked up in the kennels for the night, or cutting your hair short with a knife in the middle of the hall threatening to skin you.

It was an endless nightmare.

Everything that happened after Theon and Sansa ran away was fast and terrifying. In a blink of an eye, Rickon was brought to Ramsey and a second later Winterfell was at war carrying the red flayed man banners. And when, in the silence of the castle walls, the sound of the distant battlefield was overcome by the main gate blown to pieces, your heart started to beat in your chest again: Jon was standing there, strong and alive, and he was defeating Ramsey who now laid exhausted on the ground. Every punch hit the Bolton’s face you took a step towards Jon, until his eyes finally met yours.

Jon closed the door behind his back as you stood still ahead and never once did he averted his gaze from yours. Neither of you had said a word yet, but your fingers were tenderly caressing the palm of his hand, sensing the earthy and bloody smell from all his body. Just like he did years before, he took you by the wrist and held you against his chest, embracing your bruised body in his sored arms.

– I never should have left – he said in a hoarse whisper.

The tightness in your throat cut off your breath and you started to sob softly.

– I never should’ve let you go! – you cried out holding Jon as hard as you could.

You both remained there in each other’s arms, without paying attention to the flow of time. Tears were falling quietly down the cheeks and hands were firmly gripping fabric and leather. Only when your heartbeats were back to their calm normal rate, Jon pushes a little away from you; even so, he did not let go of you.

– I’m afraid I’ve soiled your hair – he smiled looking at the hair that was falling on your forehead, now a little muddy. You giggled, sniffling and drying the trickles on his face with your thumbs.

– Don’t worry, Jon, it wasn’t my best hairdo anyway – you kidded gesturing to your short locks. Then he rested his head against yours and closed his eyes.

– You still look ravishing, Y/n – he said softly, – You can’t imagine how amazing it is to see your face again, after being all these years away.

You raised your chin and laid a gentle kiss on his lips being careful not to touch any bruise or cut the battle left on his skin.

– I was rather surprised to see your hair up… – but you were not able to go on because, in the heat of passion, Jon wrapped you up in his strong arms and deepened the kiss you both longed for so long. You’d never divide again, and now you knew that, after all, you were not star-crossed lovers, because that kiss was just the first of many to come.

anonymous asked:

Imagine a universe where Jamie got to keep William as his own, pretty please!

Special thanks to Mod Gotham for coming up with the title for this new AU of mine. I have it all planned out but I’m not sure yet how many parts it will be. I hope you all enjoy it. - Mod Lenny

Mac Ruaidh - Part One

The cold of the raging storm outside had nothing on the cold that invaded his veins at the news from the Ellesmeres’ cook, though he was less certain whether it was caused by the news that Geneva was dead or that her husband was thoroughly convinced her child had been fathered by another man.

Though it was wrong to curse the dead, the impulse was strong. He had known when he accepted her twisted bargain that it wouldn’t be so simple. He should have tried harder to find a way out of it without giving in to her demands. As his anger and frustration rose the chill faded and heat rose through him.

Perhaps his wits had gotten slow from lack of use. In the cave he’d had little to do but think and second guess his every move; at Ardsmuir there had been the men to think on, their welfare to negotiate and in the governor he’d found a man willing to challenge and bargain shrewdly, not to mention the opportunities to play at chess or read a bit from one of the books on the shelf. But at Helwater he had slipped into a routine that didn’t require the same mental exertions; physical exhaustion carried him to his bed at night and the relative freedom of movement––being outdoors and working but not under the eyes and guns of guards––he had given over to enjoying the simpler aspects of his life, pushing aside the harsh terms of his servitude. In playing the part of a mere groom perhaps some of the simplicity he played at had seeped into his mind and impeded his faculties.

How else could he explain the apparent ease with which Geneva––hardly more than a lass––had gotten the upper hand on him enough to force his compliance?

Jamie closed his eyes, took a deep breath and let it out slowly, urging his mind towards quiet. Half a dozen ideas for what he could have done or said differently in the field that day were fighting with each other as though settling on which would have been most effective might change his current situation.

But what exactly was his situation? The lad was his by blood but Ellesmere’s by law and as far as appearances were concerned.

The rising heat of Jamie’s anger cooled suddenly as something within him sank. He had a son, another child he wouldn’t have a chance to see or raise or know. Well, perhaps Ellesmere would let the lad visit Helwater from time to time; the Dunsanys were still the babe’s family. Jamie might be able to see him from a distance, which was more than he’d had of either of his other two children. Lord that she might be safe, she and the child , he prayed silently, habitually, and then with a sigh added, And may Lady Geneva rest peacefully.

A maid came scurrying into the kitchen with wide eyes. “Your master wants you right away,” she urged Jamie and Jeffries. “And he wants you to come armed.”

Jeffries ran to fetch the pistols from the carriage but Jamie urged the maid to show him to Lord Dunsany immediately; if arms were indeed needed he shouldn’t have trouble improvising with something at hand or at least stalling until Jeffries could join them.

Ellesmere and Dunsany were both red-faced from screaming as he entered and looked about to come to blows.

“Your daughter was a whore and I’ll not have her bastard bearing my name,” Ellesmere hollered. “I’m getting rid of him one way or another.”

“My daughter was no WHORE!” Dunsany screamed, taking a swing at Ellesmere who easily dodged it. “And you’ll not shame my grandson with your lies!”

“He’s no son of mine, of that I’m sure,” Ellesmere taunted Dunsany, “so that ought to tell you all you need to know of your daughter and her character.”

Jamie felt the blood drain from his face but it had no effect on his legs. He inserted himself between the two men saying nothing.

“We had an arrangement when I agreed to marry that slut and I don’t care––”

Jamie gave Ellesmere a shove so that he fell back into a cushioned chair. Both he and Dunsany were startled into silence by the action.

“Have ye no heard that it’s rude to speak ill of the dead?” Jamie said with a quiet calm that made Ellesmere go pale. “There’s a child lost its mother and parents lost their child. Whatever betrayal ye may be feeling, have a care for their grief at least or ye dinna deserve to call yerself a gentleman.”

The color returned to Ellesmere’s face in a rush of red but he simply clenched his fists in his chair as Jamie continued to stare down at him from his physically imposing height.

“Tha–thank you, MacKenzie,” Dunsany muttered weakly behind him. “I’ve sent my wife to fetch the child. We’ll be leaving with him this afternoon and––”

“No,” Ellesmere said with cold fury. “You’ll not be leaving this house with that child and playing the gracious grieving parents offering to raise him for me because I’m too distraught or whatever bullshit reason you give the gossip-mongers. I never touched your daughter and I’ll not have her bastard son as my heir.”

“I’ll take him.” The words were out of Jamie’s mouth before he’d even thought them and once again both Ellesmere and Dunsany were shocked into silence.

Swallowing and turning to begin pacing, Jamie was aware of the men’s attention on him while he scrambled to piece his impulse together into a plan.

“I’ll take the bairn and raise him as mine––a lad got on a kitchen maid that left and sent him to me rather than raise him herself,” Jamie said quickly. “As far as Lady Geneva goes, her bairn died and can be buried with her.” He turned to Ellesmere. “It frees ye of having a living heir ye dinna want and garners ye a bit more sympathy than a scandal would––or would ye rather word of yer… inabilities spread along with yer insinuations about yer late wife?”

Ellesmere glared at Jamie who stood holding the older man’s eye without flinching. He was vaguely aware of the throbbing pulse in the man’s throat, a subtle fluttering movement that was slightly out of sync with a twitch in the corner of the man’s right eye. Ellesmere blinked and Jamie let the breath he’d been holding go then turned to Dunsany.

“I ken it’s no how ye want the lad to come to yer house,” Jamie said with gentle understanding, a tone of voice he’d used frequently on skittish horses. “But he’ll be near ye and ye’ll have a chance to see him even if he canna know the truth of who ye are.”

“You propose to raise an infant on your own while working as a stablehand…” Dunsany summarized with obvious skepticism.

“I’m sure my employer will prove sympathetic to my plight having so recently lost a beloved child of his own. None would question such an impulse under the circumstances,” Jamie reasoned. “But… he would be mine. I’d have the final say over him.”

Dunsany’s mouth was drawn tight and grim but there was exhaustion and resignation in it too.

“Why? Why would you do such a thing?” Dunsany asked.

Jamie inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. “My wife,” he said quietly, his voice barely managing not to break at the mention of Claire, at the thought of discussing her with these people, of bringing her memory into the light of day to be gawked at when he preferred keeping her to himself, cherished and protected. “My wife and I wanted… We lost our first at birth. It took time for her to get with child again… and then I lost them both together… I love my wife still and dinna mean ever to wed again… but it pains me to think I’ll no have a chance to be a father. A child without a father ought to have one and if I’m no to be father to my wife’s children, I should like to act as father to such a child.”

“If you want the bloody bastard you can have him,” Ellesmere said, unmoved by Jamie’s display of emotion. “I just want all of you out of my house and out of my life as soon as possible.”

But Jamie’s focus remained on Dunsany and the watery redness of his eyes. When Dunsany blinked his head moved in a subtle nod.

“William?” Lady Dunsany asked as she appeared at the door to the library with the blanket wrapped infant in her arms and Jeffries at her side, the pistols from the carriage clearly visible.

“Jeffries, those won’t be necessary,” Dunsany said, his voice thick but firm.

Dunsany crossed to his wife and whispered about the proposed arrangement. Lady Dunsany was shaking her head vehemently and clutching the tiny bundle to her tightly before Dunsany was even half-way through. Her eyes darted to Jamie, pleading, but then caught Ellesmere’s hard and unsympathetic expression. Dunsany moved to take the child from her arms but she shook him off and took the first few steps towards Jamie, her hold on the child never loosening.

“He’s called William,” she said firmly.

“Louisa,” Dunsany began to say but she interrupted him.

“It’s William; she gave him that name and I think it’s the least MacKenzie can do to call him by the name his mother gave him before she died.” The grief in her voice was strong but lent that strength to her resolve.

“Aye,” Jamie whispered looking to reassure the grieving grandmother. “William is a good strong name for the lad. My older brother was called William. May I hold him?”

With tears streaking down her cheeks, Lady Dunsany brushed the blanket aside so that she could look at the face of her sleeping grandson and trail a finger down his cheek before yielding him to Jamie’s large hands and strong, solid arms.

The child didn’t seem to weigh a thing and yet for the first time in more than a decade, Jamie felt as though his feet had a solid hold on the ground. The baby’s ears stuck out a little and his shut eyes appeared to slant a bit––nothing that blatantly suggested the child in his arms was his by blood to anyone in the room aside from him––but he couldn’t help swallowing against a lump the observation created in his throat. Claire had told him that Faith had those features when she’d held her; had they looked like this? The lad’s hair was darker than his own, promised to be a rich brown like his mother’s… like Claire’s.

The other people in the room faded from Jamie’s awareness as he gently rocked the sleeping bairn and made his way closer to the warmth of the fire; it was just him and his son. Had the child Claire carried with her through the stones been born with her hair, or his? Had that child looked like this child? Closing his eyes and focusing on the warmth of the small, fragile body in his arms, Jamie could almost convince himself that he was standing before the hearth in the laird’s room at Lallybroch with Claire resting in the bed behind him, that this son in his arms was somehow one of the many yearned for but unborn children he was supposed to have had with Claire in that life they were supposed to have lived together.

Fàilte mo mhac,” he said quietly then looked up and around until he spotted what he was looking for on Jeffries. He crossed and had the knife out of the paralyzed coachman’s belt.

“What are you doing?” Lady Dunsany screeched, similarly frozen as her eyes went wide seeing a blade so close to the baby.

But Jamie ignored her. William was sleeping securely and oblivious in the crook of Jamie’s right arm while he held the knife tight in that same hand and used his teeth to pull up the sleeve of his left arm so that nothing was in the way of that hand. The middle finger bent towards his palm and lightly pressed at the faint ‘C’ at the base of his thumb before he flexed the hand flat and guided the point of the knife a little further below the old scar. Blood of my blood and bone of my bone. His blood had mingled with Claire’s and was part of him, even now so many years later, she was and always would be a part of him. It was a shallower cut, only enough to raise a small line of blood, then he let the knife fall to the floor at his feet.

Is tusa Uilleam donn mac Sheumais ruaidh,” Jamie murmured as he smeared the blood across the boy’s forehead. The sensation caused the child to squirm and his eyes to peek open. “Aye… Mac Ruaidh mar tha mi Mac Dubh.”

Turning towards the shocked and wary faces of the Dunsanys and Ellesmere Jamie explained, “Now, he is of my blood.” My blood and Claire’s. With pride he claimed, “He is my son.”