unclothed man

The Other Side of the Ocean - Chapter 3

A Taylor & Joe fanfiction

Need to catch up? Read the prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2


Nashville. It’s what Taylor thinks of when someone says ‘home’. Her mom and best friend live here. It’s where she recorded her first song, created her debut album, and every single one thereafter. Nashville is the birthplace of her first kiss, first love, and first heartbreak. Braces happened here. Birthdays have come and gone, so too have anniversaries and Christmases and New Year’s, all precious memories firmly cemented in her mind.

What hasn’t happened here? The grime and filth. The lies, the made up stories, the stalking of her by paparazzi, the snarky Ed Drosteish opinions, none of that.

Nashville is safe.

She loves the people, the community, the manners, the food, the music. The lakes and the forests are her sanctuary. She enjoys going out for brunch to have her favorite sweet potato pancakes, running into people who aren’t overwhelmed by her fame or celebrity. She likes that she can have a sense of normalcy in Nashville. 

Here, she can be Taylor. She doesn’t have to be Taylor Swift every day.

No one really bugs her here, and there aren’t usually paparazzi. She can drive, and she can go places without her bodyguards sometimes, even though they always get wishy washy about that.

When she comes home, fans aren’t standing around her gate, and no one’s taking pictures through her windows. No drones are circling overhead. Her neighbors generally ignore her. Sounds weird but, she loves being ignored like that.

It’s the perfect place to spend time when you don’t really want to be noticed.

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Feel Again - some more snippets

Still not ready to post a chapter unfortunately, but another scene has come together and it may be shite, but I sort of like it.


“I want you to see what I see,” he says, his brogue thicker in the lingering drowsiness of a lazy morning. He moves to stand close behind me, the heat of his naked chest suffusing into my back. Reaching out, he wraps an arm over my shoulder, resting the palm of his hand on my breastbone. I take a small step back so that his chest and my back are touching.

“I see us,” I tell him, working a hand up behind me so that I can touch his cheek. “Together. We make a pretty picture, you and I.”

He grins. “Yes, we do. I used to dream about this, you know. The way you would feel in my arms. The way we’d fit together.”

I turn my head to look at him, really look at him so that our eyes meet in earnest and not in the mirror. “So did I,” I murmur, kissing the line of his jaw.

“The most vivid of those dreams pales in comparison to the real thing,” he whispers against the shell of my ear. “But I want you to see yourself the way I see you. Look at you, your body. The way you move. So elegant, Isobel.”

I lean back into him, chuckling. “‘Elegant.’ Richard, I think love has coloured your perception of me.” I still haven’t worked out how to accept compliments from him. But I hope I’ve not embarrassed him, either. He takes a long time to warm to people, and I never, ever want to shut him down. Bearing that in mind, I amend my statement. “But I love the way you think, sweetheart.”

True to form he puts up with my deflection, showing his agitation with an eye roll even as his hands skim over my shoulders. “The point, if I may …” he says, looking directly into my eyes, “… is that I don’t simply think you’re beautiful because you’re the woman who’s with me. I love you, Isobel. You have a beauty all your own.” I watch in the mirror as he lowers his head to brush his lips against the curve where my neck and shoulder meet. I shiver in anticipation of the contact. He continues, “You’re strong, but delicate. You have lines like a dancer.” His hand caresses the length of my arm, holding it out as if to illustrate his point. “And you have the most remarkable skin. You look as though you soak up sunshine, do you know that?”

Giggling, I bring his arms around my waist, wrapping my own on top of his. “I’m not laughing at you,” I explain, “I just love the things you notice. It’s a wondrous thing to be admired. Strange, but wondrous.”

“What, because you were so long without it?” he asks, pressing a kiss to the side of my head.

I nod.

“I’ve wanted you from the moment we met, Isobel,” he rasps. Warmth blossoms at the base of my spine in response to his words, travelling upwards and outwards until it becomes a dull throbbing ache deep inside. “The first thing I noticed were your eyes, so wide and dark and different to my own. So earnest, but sad. And whatever it was that had caused that sorrow, I wanted to send it packing.” He chuffs a rueful laugh at the memory. “No wonder you carried what you did, and what a fool I was to think that you needed anything I could offer you.”

At this I turn in his arms, appalled. “Richard! How can you say that?”

“You were fine on your own,” he explains. “You weren’t just scraping by; you were brilliant. Head of obstetrics at the leading hospital in all of London with a flat in Ladbroke Grove. There was nothing you needed, sweet girl.”

I fix him with a pointed look. “That is categorically untrue, my love. I was so alone. My career was all I had, and I only ever got there because I had Reginald cheering me on and pushing me to excel and helping to raise our son so that I could finish school and my residency. But when he died, I died right alongside him. Or I thought I had done.” Reaching for his hand I bring it to my lips, kissing each of his fingers. “Then I met you. You were exactly the thing I didn’t even realise I was missing. I could just be when I was around you. Whether that was exhausted or emotionally overwrought or hapless; it didn’t matter. You accepted me without question. And almost from the start, I loved you. I couldn’t have kept on going for so long without your … just being there. I knew how to be alone, but I wasn’t living. Maybe I could have been by myself forever, but it wouldn’t have been by choice. I didn’t need someone; I needed you. I need you.”

Our lips meet, and at first the kiss is deep and solemn and then … Then he begins to chuckle against my mouth.

I look at him, astonished. “What is it?”

“Minty fresh breath,” he snickers, kissing me again.

“Oh, you silly sod,” I huff, affecting vexation and pretending to box his ears. I can’t keep up the charade though. He’s here and he’s mine and I never dreamt that I’d be in this position, standing naked in front of the mirror in the arms of a beautiful (equally unclothed) man whom I love. Who loves me. Who can reduce me to tears one moment and have me in stitches the next. Taking his face in my hands, I pepper it with kisses — his cheeks and brow and eyelids and the stubble that looks irresistibly sexy even as it defoliates my lips. I love every last little bit of him, and if that makes me giddy, if it makes me foolish, if it seems out of place for the battle-hardened doctor who stood on her own for two decades then I shall go down a fool.

cleganegirl  asked:

Hi, I must say I love the Sandor imagine you wrote and I'm just wondering if I could request one? If not that's absolutely cool! I just want one full fluff and maybe him eventually getting to be happy. I don't have a real plot maybe their first time saying I love you or something? If it's not too much trouble. Thank you!

More Than Meets The Eye (Sandor Clegane Imagine)

You could say I was a little taken back when they first entered. We don’t get many new faces around here, much less an odd pair like them. A young girl roughed up to try and look a boy, accompanied by a man who must have towered above every person he has ever met.

The others sitting about the inn seemed a tad shocked as well but their shock seemed to be more out of fear. He would have been intimidating with his sheer size alone but he also happens to have some tremendous scars on his face. I for some reason don’t find the them to be horrific but rather intriguing. I know not every beast of a man is a beast on the inside as well.

“Have (y/n) greet them.” One of the other workers pipes as they all huddle near the bar. The others quickly begin to viciously nod in agreement, desperately hoping not to have to go themselves.

“I’ll go, I don’t mind.” I voice as I leave the three other girls and make my way across the room. “Hello.” I chime as I stop by the table sitting our newcomers. “Welcome you two. Is there anything I could get for you?”

The girl and I lock eyes and she gives me surprised smile. “Uh hello?! Um some stew would be nice if you have any?” She offers. I return her grin and then look to the man. “Oh for him an ale will do. For now anyways.” I nod and take my leave. Before I’m all that far away I hear a soft, “What’s the matter with you? Why didn’t you say anything?”

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I Am an Accidental Bride (pt 2.)

Originally posted by misschunfaceboo

Summary: Today was your wedding day it should be the happiest day of your life and it would have been if you were actually the one who was supposed to be getting married. In a crazy turn of events you end up taking the place of your mistress in her arranged marriage to a Prince. Will you be able to keep your secret or will you and your family be punished in the end? 

Length: 1922

Genre: Angst, Smut, traditional, multipart

** WARNING there is sexual content in this chapter** 

Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Your eyes widened at his words, and you looked up at him with a shy smile, “I thought you would have forgotten all about me by now. Especially with so many other elegant ladies surrounding you.”

“I could never forget you, y/n. I tried for the sake of my station and what my father wanted. I tried to forget you, but I never could. You were always there kept safe and close to my heart. You can’t imagine how glad I was that it was you that appeared before me today.”

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youtube

Someone put all of the 2009 Unclothed Man series on YouTube.

anonymous asked:

CAN I HAVE A LONG PUPPY CHANYEOL SCENARIO PLZ. I NEED THIS. What I mean is Chanyeol started out as a puppy but one day I come home from college and he's a man. Make it fluffy plz. thank you bye

A/N: Sorry this took so long, I haven’t had a lot of time to write because of work :c since this was my first time writing in a while, I kind of got carried away XD It’s 3052 words. I had trouble with the fluff for some reason but there is fluff :3 if you want me to just write a quick super fluffy scenario (instead of like a story) with the same puppy to human thing, I totally wouldn’t mind ^.^ anyway, enjoy c:

~~~~~~~~~~

You patted the head of the adorable beagle who’d just become your new roommate. You giggled to yourself when he lifted his head lazily from his slumber. Droopy lids fell over puppy eyes and his tongue flopped out of the side of his mouth that formed some sort of dog smile. You leaned down and gave the sweet animal a quick rub behind the ears before grabbing your bag and heading out for your seven a.m. class.

When you had decided to go to college almost as far away from your hometown as you could possible be you hadn’t expected it to be so lonely. You had always been rather shy and soft spoken but capable of making friends. However, with all the work and studying that came along with college classes there wasn’t much time to socialize and you were too nervous to really talk to anyone in the short time you did find to converse with your fellow students. You had your own dorm room even as a freshman because the classes had been so small in past years and you couldn’t just go and visit family and friends whenever because they were too far away. The loneliness was starting to get to you and you finally decided you couldn’t take it anymore.

So you’d bought a dog. Chanyeol had been a loving and exceptional companion for the past couple of weeks and you could now say he was probably your best friend at college. As sad as it sounds to have a dog for a best friend, you couldn’t deny it. He was quiet when you needed him to be but playful any other time. He had been easily trained and would wait until you got home and took him for a walk to… do his business. He was unbearably sweet. He always greeted you happily when you arrived home, slept at your bedside and just kind of followed you around the house with that idiotic yet adorable expression that reminded you of a smile. He’d been a part of your daily life for such a short time and yet you already loved him to death.

That morning’s class went by incredibly quickly, probably due to the fact that it was a hands on day, rather than a lecture. It was around 10 and you had another class at noon but you decided to head home for a quick lunch and to take out Chanyeol. You sighed as you walked in the direction of your apartment, pulling your thin coat tighter around you in hope of better protection from the cold air. Spring was on the way. You could smell it in the air but the air still held the freezing sting and chilly breezes of winter. Your breath still clouded the air and the cold wind still made your eyes water.

Your stiffened hands fumbled with the key before fitting it into the lock and turning. As your entered your home warmth wash over you and you let out a sigh of content. You closed the door and then turned to hang your coat and book bag on the hanger to the right of your front door. As you were removing your coat you heard the usual padding of Chanyeol’s paws in your direction. You smiled to yourself as you finished hanging your coat and began to turn around to greet your pet. However, before you could move anymore something, or rather someone, enclosed you into a tight embrace from behind.

“Welcome home, __________!! I missed you!” a male voiced hummed into your ear. You froze in terror. Your eyes falling to the bare arms that were wrapped around your stomach and arms, crushing you to the chest of their owner. It took you a second to process your situation but the instance you did you let out a blood-curdling scream. The sound seemed to scare the man for he instantly released you.

You didn’t even look at him as you turned and ran into the living room of your apartment. You jumped behind the couch and slid to the floor, trying to stop your hammering heart and the tears that had been a side effect of your fear. You wanted to scream again as it fully dawned on you that there was a male intruder in your house but instead you silently glanced over the top of the couch. Your eyes found the man peaking around the corner between the main hallway and the living room. The moment he noticed you looking at him a dazzling smile spread across his face. That smile reminded you of someone but you didn’t have the time to figure out who it was because at that moment he stepped out from behind the corner and you couldn’t help but scream once again.

”___________? Are we playing a game? __________? __________?” He stepped forward and you quickly grabbed the nearest couch pillow and chucked it at the clothing-less man. He yelped happily and dodged the flying object. You thought you were going to puke as the completely naked, yes, as in nude, no shirt or pants or underwear, as in absolutely unclothed man pranced childishly after the stuffed square that had slid across the sleek wooden floor and stopped at the opposite wall. He bent to pick it and you looked anywhere but at him. When he stood and turned to face you, you made sure to focus only on his face as you pointed a finger in his direction.

“I don’t know who you are and I don’t even want to imagine what you’re doing here but I swear on my grandmother’s grave that if you do not get out of my house right now I will call the police!” That was a lie simply because it was impossible seeing as you had stupidly left your phone in the bag currently hanging next to your front door. “So get out NOW!”

During this exchange the man’s face had fallen and for some reason he kind of looked like he was about to cry.

“You don’t- you don’t know me?” He asked quietly, pulling the pillow to his chest as you shook your head forcefully. His eyes fell to the ground as he let out a small sound that kind of sounded like the horrible cries of dogs that were absolutely heartbreaking. “But, __________, I thought you loved me… I thought you loved your Chanyeol.”

It was then you realized that you had not seen Chanyeol all this time and your heart almost stopped with panic. Your eyes grew wide and stared at the man before you in silent horror.

“What have you done to him? Where’s Chanyeol? What did you do?” Your voice was hoarse as these questions fell over your lips and now his eyes grew wide and he took a step back. His watering eyes were fixed on you with so much sadness and confusion that even the sight of them probably would have made you sad if he wasn’t a naked intruder in your home and probably the murderer of your dog.

“But I’m Chanyeol. Can’t you see that I’m Chanyeol? __________… please…” Your breath caught in your throat. What? What had he said? This guy was crazy… That must be it. However, your eyes grew even bigger than they already were as you realized that you were probably crazy too because for some reason, some part of you believed him. The black of his hair and the brown of his eyes were the same colors as the fur of Chanyeol. His long, lanky limbs and large ears reminded you of your beagle. And that smile… that smile he’d given when he ‘d peaked around the corner… that was your dog’s smile. You blinked a couple times in disbelief.

“Chanyeol?” you almost whispered his name but even that made the man before you perk up with happiness. You could almost see his tail wagging. Your hand jumped to your mouth in disbelief because somehow you were absolutely positive that before you stood your dog as a human. You weren’t sure how it had happened but you knew it had. You let out your breath slowly. You were still a bit skeptical but no longer scared. You leaned forward, grabbed the couch blanket and threw it to him. “Okay, I believe you. So can you please cover up?”

“Cover up what?” He asked innocently and you didn’t know whether you should laugh or be embarrassed.

“Um,” you said quietly, closing your eyes as you tried to think of the best way to explain this. “Well, humans, you see, consider it improper to expose, um, ‘down there’.” You stepped around the couch and gestured to the mentioned area. His face changed to one of realization and embarrassment as he dropped the pillow and clumsily wrapped the blanket around his lower half. You nodded in approval and he replied with that smile that for some reason made you blush.

“Alright,” you said quietly, checking your watch and then looking up to see Chanyeol taking a seat on the couch and looking up at you with expecting eyes. “I have a class at noon so I have time to go out and grab you food and clothes. Don’t do anything while I’m gone, got it? If you have to pee, use the toilet. Take a nap or something to pass the time. What ever you do, do not leave the house. Got it? Okay. Cool. I’ll be right back.”

You turned to leave but before you even took a step you heard an awkward cough and looked back at Chanyeol who was biting his lip awkwardly with his eyes basically glued to the ground.

“Um, __________? How do I use the toilet?” you nearly choked on your saliva. Geez, how on Earth were you going to explain this?

~~~~~~~~~~

After a straight twenty minutes of question-and-answer with Chanyeol, about everything from exactly how a door handle works to where the water goes once it’s down the sink, you were finally out and on your way to school spirit store. That place sold just about everything if you didn’t mind having the school logo on it. You were now under a bit of a time crunch so you didn’t even notice the cold air as you rushed to the store. Once inside you grabbed a pair of sweatpants, a t-shirt and a packet of socks. You didn’t know where you were going to find shoes so you just grabbed a pair of slippers. You then realized you needed underwear. You glanced around the store and saw nothing. You decided to ask someone who worked there. You eyed the cashier nervously but decided to just go for it.

“You wouldn’t happen to have any men’s… undergarments, would you?” He gave you a rather strange look but helpfully directed you to the back corner of the store. You grabbed a pair of school spirit undies and checked out, rushing out of there as soon as possible in order to avoid anymore of the cashiers questioning stares. As you exited the store you checked your watch and realized you probably wouldn’t have time grab food for Chanyeol or you would miss your class. You decided you would just teach him how to order a pizza and then you headed in the direction of home.

When you reached your apartment, you couldn’t help but giggle when you found Chanyeol sitting in the exact place you’d left him. He really was such a good boy. The instant he saw you he bolted off the couch, making sure to keep the blanket clutched around his body. He ran over and pressed his forehead to yours lovingly.

“Welcome home, __________. I missed you!” You took a step back, blushing at his actions. You pushed the bag of clothing into his arms before turning on your heels and padding into the kitchen. He followed suit, a huge smile plastered across his face as he looked through the bag you’d handed him.

“Okay, Chanyeol,” you said, turning to him, a piece of paper now presented in your hand. “This is a number to a pizza shop. You’re going to call this number and make an order. So, first you’ll say-”

“I know how to order food!” he chimed in. You looked at him in disbelief.

“You’ve ordered food before?” You questioned, making him laugh.

“Of course not, silly. I was a beagle before. But now that I’m human I haven’t forgotten the things I experienced as a dog. You ordered food a lot so I remember how to do it,” you gaped at him and he smiled. You wondered if this meant that dogs could always understand what you were saying. You didn’t get to ask for Chanyeol made a request first. “Can you write down the address though? I’m afraid I’ll forget it.”

You nodded in reply, still a little too shocked to speak, and scribbled down the apartment information. You then shooed him off to go put on clothing before he ordered.

“Oh, Chanyeol!” You called before he closed the bathroom door. He obediently popped his head back out with a questioning look in his eyes. “Did you need me to explain how to put on the clothes? You probably don’t know what they are, right?”

“But I already told you, __________,” Chanyeol said, smiling a mischievous smile that seemed to be coming from a more confident side of him, rather than his puppy one. “I still remember everything from when I was a dog. You changed in front of me quite a few times. I think I can remember what goes where.”

Your cheeks turned a deep red and your tongue seemed to swell for you couldn’t find your voice reply. He laughed that sweet laugh before disappearing into the bathroom and closing the door.

~~~~~~~~~~

Your afternoon class went by much slower than the class that morning. You generally enjoyed this class more than the first but today you had something much more interesting waiting for you at home. Once the class finally ended you decided to stop at a few stores to pick up things like a tooth brush, real shoes and snacks for Chanyeol. You lugged your supplies home and the second you entered you were greeted by Chanyeol.

”__________! Look, look!” Despite being almost a foot taller than you, this boy seriously reminded you of a child. You followed him into the kitchen where he pulled a pizza box out of the fridge, opening it so that you could see it’s contents. “Sausage! The guy asked me if you wanted any toppings so I asked ‘Sausage?’ and he said ‘Of course!’ and the pizza actually has sausage on it! Do you see the sausage, _________?”

You giggled at how excited he was before grabbing a piece and bringing it to the microwave to be heated. As you waited for the machine to beep a pair of arms snaked their way around your waist. You yelped as Chanyeol nuzzled his nose into your cheek.

“I missed you, __________.”

“Geez, would you stop doing that?” You asked. He smiled even as you pushed him away, for the blush in your cheeks was quite obvious.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was strange how normal things seemed to be that night even though your dog had turned into a human by some strange miracle, if you could call it that. He sat on your bed quietly as you did your homework at your desk. It was a bit weird because even though Chanyeol was the same being in a different body you hadn’t expected human Chanyeol to have such a long attention span. He basically just sat there quietly, asking one question every now and then, which you didn’t really mind. You had to teach him how to brush his teeth but after that you crawled into bed and he settled down on the ground beside you, just like always. The only problem was it was a little awkward having him sleep on the ground when he was human.

You glanced at the boy curled up on the floor beside your bed and, with a reluctant sigh, you grabbed one of his thin wrists and yanked, indicating that he could crawl into bed with you. He obliged quickly, gracing you with one of those smiles that you couldn’t help but adore. Chanyeol slid under the covers beside you and his arms automatically found their way around your body, pulling you closer to him. He rested his chin happily on your head.

“W-what are you doing, Chanyeol?” You didn’t sink into his embrace but you couldn’t help the blush that crept into your cheeks.

“I’m cuddling with you, __________.” He said, stating the obvious, though you had to admit, it was sort of a rhetorical question.

“Why? I’m letting you share the bed but that doesn’t mean we have to… be all… touchy.” He scrunched his nose in annoyance in response to your reply.

“But we’ve cuddled plenty of times before.” He retorted, only pulling you closer to him.

“Yeah, when you were a dog but you’re a-”

“Hey, I don’t see why it matters,” You looked up a bit to meet his gaze and instead of that submissive puppy you saw that confident side of him swimming in his eyes. “Listen, even if I’m human, I am still your eternally loyal companion. That has not changed so why should the feelings between us have to change?”

You honestly didn’t know what to say. All you could do was turn a darker shade of red and continue to stare into those beautiful brown eyes. The same eyes of the dog you’d fallen in love with. It was strange, for it was true that your feelings toward him had not changed, you still loved him, but it was almost like they were shifting. Maybe you were all flustered and nervous because what was once puppy love was turning into something more… something deeper and somehow you didn’t care. You let out a soft sigh and cuddled into his chest. You could almost feel him smile, too, as he crushed you closer to him.

And then you told him what you told him every night.

“I love you, Yeollie. Sleep well.”

But this time, he replied.

“I love you, too, __________. Sweet dreams.”

~~~~~~~~~~

PART TWO

A/N: Sorry if the ending feels kind of rushed, it’s really late and I have to wake up early for work tomorrow :c (work ruins everything!!) But I hope you liked it anyway :3

~Admin N

Fortunate Happenstances

I decided to write this because of the overwhelming response I got for the previous regency piece I wrote. This is just a silly little piece, which I had a tremendous amount of fun writing. It is unrelated to the previous one (though you could probably think of it as a prequel of sorts?). Thanks for all your prompts. I’m currently working on them.

Hope you enjoy it :)

***

Mrs Anne Hooper had always loved to ride. She was an extremely private woman, to be sure, completely out of place in the company of others, and yet, there was something about the presence of a horse which made her feel at ease at once.

To her pleasure, it was a trait she had passed on to her daughter, Margaret (or Molly, as she would be known).

It had been something that the mother and daughter would enjoy doing together, she on the ageing mare Athena and Molly on her beloved foal Aidan.

The two ladies would find a secluded field or forest, and then discard all societal values and ride astride.

“Safety first,” Anne had told her daughter, when Molly had asked why they wouldn’t ride side saddle.

Now when Molly rode, it was when she particularly missed her mother, or when she wished to be closer to her.

Indeed, today was one of those days, when Molly made her way into the forest where she would ride with her late mother, and just wandered through the trees, giving Aidan a gentle pat every now and then.

She smiled contentedly, as she came to a small stream. She dismounted and sat on the rocks, removing her bonnet as she did so. She lifted the hem of her skirts slightly, and dipped her toes in the stream, as she watched Aidan lapping up the clean water, both the horse and its mistress willing he moment never to end.

***

“For the last time, mother, I have no interest in meeting another of those insipid women! Why can you not understand that I should like to remain unmarried? Why can you not inflict your schemes on Mycroft, for goodness sake!”

Unable to take any more of his mother’s matchmaking, William Sherlock Scott Holmes stormed out of the house, grabbing his shotgun as he left.

Catching his trail, his gun, Redbeard, was soon at his heels.

The Irish Setter had been bought into the family when Sherlock was younger, originally to serve as a hunting dog. However, over the years, Sherlock had found a form of companionship with the dog that he had seldom, if ever, found with any human.

Redbeard seemed to know when Sherlock needed someone to simply be with him, if only so his rants did not go unheard, as now.

“Why won’t she understand, Redbeard? There is no woman for me! I do not wish to settle, I do not wish for the normalcy that marriage is sure to bring to life. I do not! OH HELL!” He shouted the final two words and pointed his gun into the trees, even in his anger making sure not to hit any wildlife.

BANG!

Sherlock sank down by a tree, the shotgun falling from his hands. His eyes closed momentarily, a frown covering his brown, before Redbeard came towards him and began to lick his face. He pushed the dog away, but his pet was persistent and soon the master was laughing, his prior mood temporarily forgotten.

“Oh, you have managed to get mud on my face, silly dog,” he told his pet fondly, before getting up. “Come, Redbeard. Let us make for the stream.”

As they neared the stream, however, Sherlock froze. There, before him, was the most wondrous sight he had ever beheld.

On the rocks sat a young lady, softly humming to herself. She was not, perhaps, the most beautiful woman he had laid eyes on, yet there was something enchanting about the contentment on her visage, something mesmerising in the way her freckles glinted in the sun, and the way her bonnet was clasped in her hand, as her hair blew freely in the wind. 

She must be a woodland sprite, thought he, as a heretofore unexplored feeling arose in his chest. He wished there were some way to capture the moment, but knew that he would soon have to make his presence known to her.

He walked towards her, almost in a trance, as he wondered how he would introduce himself. Yet, fate conspired to take the introductions out of his hand.

***

Woof!

Molly was startled out of her reverie by a shout of protest, followed by a bark. She turned her head towards the source of the noise, to see Aidan standing at the side of the stream, looking guilty (or as guilty as possible for a horse to look). Next to him was a large dog, his barks sounding more like guffaws of laughter.

She soon realised what both animals were both staring at, as a pair of arms emerged from the stream, followed by a head, gasping for breath.

“Oh, Aidan,” she whispered, bringing a hand up to her mouth, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. She chose to simply blush, as the man pushed himself out onto the bank beside her and paused to catch his breath.

He was a handsome man, to be sure. His dark curly hair had become damp, and was plastered to his forehead. She had never seen a man so unclothed before. He wore no more than breeches and a white shirt, which now stuck to his arms and chest, allowing her to see his well defined muscle structure, and his long legs were stretched out in front of him.

He ran a hand through his hair, pushing it out of his eyes, and Molly was almost tempted to assist him. She turned her head away and blushed even more furiously, chastising herself for thinking such unladylike thoughts.

As her eyes turned towards him, almost of their own volition, she caught him looking in her direction, a strange introspective look gracing his features.

He seemed to shake himself out of his thoughts when he saw her regarding him, and stood up before walking towards her.

“I believe I have made the quite the fool of myself,” he spoke, embarrassedly. He certainly was tall, and she almost felt she would break her neck from the strain of looking up at him.

“Aidan is… fiercely protective of me,” she said, using all her effort to keep her voice steady.

“Yes, indeed,” he said, a hint of amusement in his tone as he glanced at the animals. Aidan was currently looking extremely displeased, as the excitable dog sniffed the ground around his legs. She let out a giggle at the sight and his head immediately turned towards her. There eyes met, and suddenly they both could not control it any longer.

Should anyone have come across the sight at that moment, they would have been alarmed and slightly concerned for the sanity of the man and woman, two complete strangers who were currently sitting on the bank, almost crying of laughter.

The scene was only interrupted as the animals now made their way towards the owners, Aidan nuzzling his mistress’s neck, and the dog licking his master’s hand. Their laughter died down, as they finally looked towards each other.

“I believe it is time to depart,” Molly said, getting to her feet, and the man stood up too.

“But we have not been introduced,” he said, a sense of something resembling urgency in his tone. 

“Molly,” she told him with a hasty curtsey, not wishing to reveal her full name to a complete stranger, and yet unable to leave him without an answer. He seemed to understand, as he bowed.

“Sherlock,” he told her. “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Molly. I hope it shall not be the last we see of each other.”

The genuineness with which he spoke made her blush again, and she nodded slightly, not trusting herself to speak, before turning around, and walking away, Aidan following closely behind.

***

He watched her go, feeling a strange pang of loss.

Woof!

He glanced down to see Redbeard sniffing a strange item… her bonnet! She had left her bonnet behind. He picked it up and shoved it in his pocket, before making his way home, preparing to face his mother’s displeasure.

“A grown man, fleeing from his mother, when all she desires is his happiness! I have never heard such a thing, have you, Mr Holmes?”

“No indeed,” his father said from his place by the fireplace, with a smirk at his son, and Sherlock frowned slightly towards him.

“No, indeed! And to come home in such a state, soaked through and through. What have you to say for yourself?” To his credit, Sherlock looked ashamed as he looked down to his feet.

“I fell into the stream,” he mumbled.

“Sherlock. You know that is not what I meant.”

“I am sorry, mother. I should not have left so,” he said, quietly, before finally meeting his mother’s eyes. “However, I rest my case. I do not wish to get married, mother.”

There was silence for a few moments, as mother and son looked at each other, and his father’s eyes flitted between them. Eventually, his mother sighed.

“Oh, Sherlock. All I have ever desired is your happiness. Your brother shall inherit the estate, and he shall be perfectly content to spend the rest of his days handling business. That is his nature. However, I have always believed that the two of you are different. Where he finds comfort in solitude, you, from a young age, have craved companionship. Whether that be from dear Mrs Hudson, or Watson and Lestrade, or even Redbeard.”

She paused and gently placed a hand on her son’s cheek. “I do not wish for you to remain behind. To be alone.”

He swallowed, finally understanding why his mother was so keen for him to find a wife. He took his mother’s hand in his.

“Mama, I understand how you feel. I felt the same, just months previously,” he admitted to her. “However, since then, Lestrade has gotten engaged, and Watson is well on his way to being in love with young Miss Morstan. Nothing has changed, mama. I will not be left behind. I will move on with them.”

He embraced his mother, and they stood there for a moment, his father coming towards them and resting a hand on his shoulder. 

“Very well, then,” his mother said to him. “If you are certain, I shall no longer push you. You shall, however, have to bear dinner this evening. It has long been arranged.”

“Mr Hooper is a friend of mine,” his father spoke, finally. “You and his daughter, Margaret, would play together as children. You got on very well. However, they moved out of the county when his wife grew ill, and have only recently returned, so perhaps you would not remember.”

“Do try to befriend her, Sherlock,” his mother told him, and when he made to interrupt, she added, “just friendship, that is all.”

He nodded and left to change, and his parents stared fondly in his wake.

“We have raised him well, Elizabeth.”

***

“Ah, Molly. You are home. Would you come here a moment?” Her father called her into his study as she returned home.

“Yes, papa?” she asked, making her way towards him.

“We are to have guests dine with us this evening. A friend of mine, from Cambridge, and his family,” he told her.

“I shall change at once,” replied she, and made to walk out, but his voice stopped her.

“He has a son, about your age, Molly. William, I believe the name was,” said he, and she turned back towards him.

“Oh papa, you know I have no desire to leave you,” she told him, placing a hand on his cheek and he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it gently. 

“I know, Molly, I know. But you must consider it eventually. I shall not be here forever, my dearest child.”

Molly turned away to hide the tears which had immediately filled her eyes.

“Very well, papa,” she muttered.

“If nothing, it would be nice for you to become friends,” he told her, and she left the room with an honest smile at him. Mr Hooper then looked towards the likeness of his wife on his desk. “She has grown to be a good girl, Anne.”