Welcome back to the Norrington Legacy! Tis the season for snow, penguins, eggnog, ice-skating, resolutions, valentines and of course a visit from Jolly Ol' Saint Nicholas. Last time we left them, Asher and his siblings had brought several new faces into the world: Barry and Bonnie Finch, Bobby T Norrington, Fabiola and Belle Davies, Nathan (Botan) Buckley and Moria Norrington. So grab yourself a mug of spiced cider and curl up in front of the yule log to see what the Norrington six have been up to this rotation.
Chapter One As usual, the start of Winter found the Finch family in good spirits. Abby and Barrington began their day in their usual way; indulging in an early morning cuddle. Which, unbeknown to them, resulted in Abby being once more with child.
There was the typical morning scramble: Breakfast, diaper changes, finding misplaced homework before dashing for the bus. Abby and Bonnie spent some quality time together in the nursery before Abby made her obligatory calls to friends and acquaintances. (I do hope bonnie grows into those cheek bones)
Barry brought home a new friend from school, Ettie Oxley. Ettie wasn't like the other girls. She cared nothing for quiet, ladylike pursuits. She preferred rousing games of tag instead. Barry liked her right away. As the days grew colder and shorter, the two began spending most of their time together. Sharing lunches at the noon bell, and chasing after one another during the afternoons.
Barrington, despite his work load, made a point to spend time with his children at every opportunity. He tried his hand at getting his unruly daughter to speak anything other than a demanding shout. To little avail.
His time with his son was far more productive. Though young, Barry learned quickly and provided his father a challenging chess partner.
Barry was altogether a content little boy and easygoing by nature. (makes a change from his toddling years) Independent and capable of looking after himself, he never needed watching. His homework was done quickly and without issue and he sought out constructive ways to entertain himself without telling. (reminder: 4 sloppy, 5 outgoing, 7 active, 2 serious, 8 nice)
Bonnie, on the other hand, was the complete opposite of her brother. She was very difficult to keep happy. Her only wants revolved around learning new things, such as walking independently, talking and being understood and of course leaving her dreadful, soggy nappies behind. Unfortunately, Bonnie skilled so slowly that she was perpetually discontent which further conflicted with her ability to learn. *sigh* (reminder: 10 neat, 10 outgoing, 9 active, 3 serious, 1 grouchy)
Still, seeing as Barry was a bit of a handful as a toddler, Abby and Barrington could only hope that Bonnie would follow in her brother's footsteps.
Abby began to suspect that she was once more with child. A bittersweet revelation for the haggard mother of two. Fortunately, Barrington was most pleased to hear of the forthcoming addition to their happy family.
December brought with it the first snow of the season. As well as the first break from school. Barry was especially excited about it. Later that day his father had promised they could go choose a Christmas tree for the Parlor. While he waited, Ettie came over and they enjoyed a morning playing pirates. (now that I look at him, I think barry is quite cute. in a natural, boy-next-door sort of way. nothing stands out about him but he is aesthetically beautiful)
As Christmas came closer, Barrington regaled the children with stories of father Christmas and his transatlantic trips to bring toys to all the good Christian boys and girls. Abby sat nearby, listening on with a small smile on her face and her needlework in her lap.
And later Bonnie continued to be her charming self by screaming bloody murder at all hours of the night. (wonder where she gets it? yup, that's our dear lil abby *smirk*)
Christmas morning dawned cold and bright. A soft blanket of snow covered Guilford and twinkled in the early sunlight.
Having been forced to sit patiently through an excruciatingly long breakfast, Barry and Bonnie raced to the presents waiting beneath their tree. Barry teased his sister in good nature before searching out a gift for her to unwrap. Barrington and Abby smiled at the sound of ripping paper and sat back to watch while nibbling on yule biscuits.
Even the fifth Finch family member to be made himself known by kicking his mother's tender diaphragm. It was a most pleasant morning. There was a toy train, teddy bear, a wooden boat, treasure chest and spyglass, mittens with matching woolen hat and muff, chocolates, sugared almonds, a crystal snow globe from Aunt Lora, new dress shoes, an interesting tome and a pretty bundle of assorted fabric. (can you find all the presents in the last two slides? there's actually a picture of everything except the dress shoes)
Miss Ann Johnson, kept out of sight though she worked diligently to make certain that the family she served had themselves a splendid yule. She prepared a delicious ham for their Christmas lunch and saw to the cleaning up. Abby wasn't required to lift a finger. Such strict attention to detail was sure to be rewarded come boxing day.
Barry especially appreciated playing with his new skipping rope Miss Johnson had given him. First inside, until his mother reprimanded him, and then outside. His last skipping rope met an untimely, and knotted, demise during one of he and Ettie's more rigorous games.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. And like today, Christmas is officially over when the creditors come a calling. (I hate bankers in any era)
With the holidays over, it was back to life as usual. Bonnie had her fifth birthday and unfortunately there was little improvement in her behavior. Due to her tempestuous nature, both Barrington and Abby thought it best she be educated at home.
Apparently part of that education was learning about the birds and the bees. Bonnie was quite taken aback to learn that her mother's swollen stomach meant that she was to be a big sister very soon. So soon in fact that Abby went into labor that very morning while both Barry and his father were gone.
Fortunately Miss Johnson was on duty and heard Abby's cry of pain. “Mrs. Finch?” “ Oh Ann! Thank heavens. I'm in need of your assistance!”
Bonnie, who had been tending to her lessons, came running. “Mama?! Are you alright?” “ Go on Miss Bonnie.” Ann shooed the child from the room. “I'll see to your mother. The birthing room is no place for a young girl.” “ But I want to help!” Bonnie stamped her foot. “ And you shall, by keeping quiet and from under foot so that I may tend to your Mama. She's in need of all my attention now.”
And was she ever. Abby brought not one child into the world, but two. Two beautiful little girls with black hair, brown eyes and their brother's freckled skin. (I think)
Beatrice Ann... and Arabella Mae Finch. Beatrice, or Beezus, as Bonnie insisted on calling her no matter how many times she was corrected, seemed to be following in her older sister's tempestuous footsteps. Bella, on the other hand, exuded the calm, self reliance of her brother.
Barrington was most pleased to come home and find two more children waiting for him. “ Why ever didn't you send for me, luv?” “ I had no wish to trouble you.” Abby explained. “I have given birth before.” “ Yes, but never two at once dearest. I did manage to bring you a little something. It's not much, only a small token of my gratitude and affection.”
“ Oh Barr!” Abby grinned. “I suppose I ought to say 'you shouldn't have', but that would be dishonest.” Barrington chuckled and watched as Abby unwrapped the bundle of pretty colored fabric from the milliner's. “ Oh, they're lovely!” She exclaimed. “ I thought you'd be eager to get started on some new infant gowns.” “You are the most thoughtful of men.”
It may have been cold and icy outside but the Finch household was bursting with warmth. A lovely, organized chaos prevailed. It wasn't long before Bonnie began to complain about not joining her brother at the village school. She hated learning domestic tasks. She detested staying home and having no friends or interesting tales of her own to tell. To Barrington's surprise, Abby was uncharacteristically adamant that Bonnie continue her schooling at home.
Despite disliking her lessons at home, Bonnie was a natural at housekeeping, the piano and painting. But that wasn't why her mother wanted to teach her at home. Abby feared Bonnie's... outgoing rudeness, for lack of a better word. Despite their ongoing correction, Bonnie refused to temper her forwardness. She spoke her young mind callously and without thought. She reminded Abby of her sister Alice during her worst times. Remembering the difficult time Alice had of it, Abby wanted different for her beloved daughter.
And there was Bonnie's future to consider. Abby well remembered the unbridled freedom of University and her own disappointment at having to leave it behind. Bonnie, like her mother and aunts before her, was going to be married someday and Abby thought it most unfair to allow her daughter to believe and dream of any other future. How would someone as spirited as Bonnie handle having the world offered to her, only to have it snatched away due to an inevitable matrimonial fate? Sometimes freedom was empowering. And sometimes it was best not to know what one was missing. Unlike her parents, Abby intended on curbing her wild child any way possible.
Though Barrington didn't understand his wife's reasoning for refusing to send Bonnie off to school (after all, Abby herself was educated at the village school with her sisters), he supported her decision, much to Bonnie's dismay. In an effort to cheer his sister's sour disposition, Barry offered to allow her to join he and Ettie's after school games. Just because she was taught at home didn't mean she had to be isolated. Aside from their numerous cousins, he was certainly willing to share his friends.
As the cold season began to wane, the six Finches continued their domestic dance of familial routine. Abby was on double duty in the nursery getting to know Beezus and Bella. Bonnie continued to do well at her home studies with reluctance. And looked forward to her father's arrival from work (which heralded the end of her school day) with great enthusiasm. Barry too excelled at his studies. So much so that Barrington couldn't help wondering if the village school was challenging enough for his son. Perhaps an alternative means of education would be necessary in Barry's future.
Chapter Two Another dinner without Trace. Sally hardly brought attention to it anymore. Instead she spoke to Merit about purchasing a new hat and muff set for Bobby. The sky looked like snow and she didn't wish for her son to catch a chill.
With his first Christmas season just around the corner, Bobby was restless with excitement. Merit found herself forced to keep him up later in order to wear him out. Many a night the two of them could be seen playing in the parlor; Merit on the piano and Bobby on the chessboard.
During the day Sally made her usual courtesy calls. She and Abby made plans for their boys to get together and play. Merit's domestic skills saw great improvement seeing that the cold was keeping most decent people indoors.
The one thing Trace and Sally did discuss together was the subject of Bobby's education. He was getting too old to be taught by Merit, despite her proficiency. Trace had a negative opinion of the country school in town and Sally was completely against sending him away to boarding school. She wouldn't be parted from her beloved child for the sake of education. The couple reached a compromise by enrolling him at the Private Boy's Academy in Guilford where both Trace and Asher had been educated.
As was customary, the school sent one of it's trustees to meet with the family, Mr. Vincent Watkins. Mr. Watkins was more than happy to meet an alumni of the academy and took great pleasure in gushing about the improvements made since Trace's years there. (the boy's academy can be seen in the background)
Bobby's poor piano skills aside, Mr. Watkins seemed charmed with the boy and the house as well. Dinner was beautifully prepared and pleasant conversation had by all. Merit offered up details about Bobby's home education so far. He was already quite ahead in his lessons.
After dinner there was coffee and brandy in the parlor while Merit saw Bobby off to bed. Vincent was greatly impressed with the Norrington family and looked forward to having young Robert join their school. (final score: 120/90. 48 food, 45 tour, 9 schmooze)
Due to start school after the Winter break, Bobby was determined to enjoy what free time he had left. He and his cousin Barry fully indulged themselves in the snow.
An evil snowman! Well done Bobby dear. Barry's too sweet to make a snow demon. (reminder: bobby = 5neat, 8outgoing, 9active, 3serious, 1grouchy)
When it grew too cold outdoors, the boys retreated to the third floor nursery. While he enjoyed his cousin's company, Bobby couldn't comprehend Barry's incessant occupation with some girl named Ettie.
Though the new games she'd introduced Barry to were fun enough to excuse the fact that she was a girl . Some days the boys played so long that Abby was obliged to come fetch her son after evening supper.
While the cousins said their goodbyes, Abby and Sally said their own. Making plans for Sally to bring the boys to Lora's to play with Bee since Abby was soon entering into her confinement. (I always used to hate the obligatory pics of kids hugging. their cute, smiling faces plastered together. but now I see the appeal. they are pretty adorable, though I may be biased)
While Bobby was enjoying childish pursuits, his parents were occupied with, what Sally considered, more trying social obligations. Trace and Sally found themselves with almost the sole responsibility of welcoming the new Mr. And Mrs. Prescott into their proper place in society.
Despite the blemish and gossip that went on during their brief engagement, Mr. And Mrs.Trace Norrington were greatly respected in Guilford. Several dinners and conversations in their parlor went a long way in covering the slight scandal caused by the Prescott's questionable marriage.
Trace wasn't certain what to make of Mrs. Prescott. At fifteen, the former Miss Willimeena Morton was still a giggling school girl. And every bit as animated as James had described. Whether or not the eager little chit deserved her husband's disdain, Trace couldn't yet discern. Yes, she was talkative and a bit too... energetic , to put it nicely. But she was still young and held some promise that with time, and the right influence, she might grow into a woman of grace and class.
As for James, Trace found it both wonderful and agitating to have the object of his misplaced affections so near, so often. He sometimes felt James was too pleased to see him and wasn't trying to hide it.
Sally, on the other hand, was of a different opinion about the whole affair. She found James' presence both ill timed and unwelcome. How ever was Trace meant to forget him if the young man refused to be forgotten? She felt he was far too satisfied at being in Trace's company once more. Not that his young bride would have noticed had James leaped into Trace's arms. Though somewhat endearing in her naivety, Sally found Willimeena as vapid and irritating as James did.
Trace did not envy his wife for the time spent in Willimeena's sole company. Nor did he always enjoy the time he spent in James' company either. Still, it was all mostly pleasant and tolerable. Until the day James' self control broke and he accosted Trace as they were coming in from the back of the house. Before he'd had a moment to dust the snow from his cloak, Trace found his mouth occupied by the other's tongue.
He allowed himself to enjoy the bliss of James' kiss before pushing him away. “ What on earth are you doing?!” He whispered fiercely. “Our wives are not but a room away! Anyone might have seen...” “ Oh stop.” James immediately dismissed Trace's anger. “I wont have you ignore what's between us by getting self righteous.”
“ Besides, I checked to see that all was secure before I lunged.” James smirked. “I love you too much to risk damaging your illustrious reputation. I'd never do that to you again.” He finished in a whisper. Trace felt this honesty took the wind from his sails and his anger quickly dissipated. He sighed and couldn't stop himself from leaning into James' caress. “ You've always been too concerned with appearances.” James commented affectionately. “ And you've never had any regard for them.” Trace sighed ruefully.
James chuckled. “I suppose not.” He leaned in close again but Trace stopped him with a desperate whisper. “ Don't... Sally.” “ Yes Sally. Let us not forget the love of your life.” was James' bitter reply. “ Do not mock me. You know better than anyone that she isn't so. But she has been the best of wives and she deserves my respect having accepted my hand despite knowing of my...” Trace trailed off. “ Your what?” Trace sighed. “My unnatural desires.”
“ Unnatural ?!” James hissed and pulled Trace close. “How dare you call this unnatural! Feel this here, now, with me. Feel the flush of my skin, my quickened breath, my racing pulse... “ All of that is my desire for you.” He brushed his lips across Trace's cheek. “And I feel you responding the same. The call and answer of two souls longing to become one.” Trace let out a shuddering breath as James' lips hovered over his own.
“ Now I ask, what on earth could be more natural than that?” James closed the distance and Trace melted into the warmth of their kiss for several minutes before pulling back with a sigh. “ We mustn't do this.” “ Trace...” “ No.” Trace shook his head and stepped back. “I can't.” James gave a long suffering sigh. “Still playing the noble one I see.”
On a simpler plane of existence, Bobby was secretly comprising his Christmas list. More than anything in the world, he wanted a puppy. But he was afraid to make this known to his father, certain Trace would never allow an animal in the house. Instead he tried to show his father how responsible he was becoming by being on his best behavior. Also he went out of his way to show his father the school work Merit set for him.
Though he believed his father ignorant of his plans, Trace was wise to his son's subterfuge. And he took great pleasure in indulging Bobby's need to express his maturity. They planned games of chess together, Bobby insisted he'd practiced enough to play a proper game. And despite the lack of physical affection between them, father and son grew close in their own way. Though his introspective and quiet nature caused others to think him cold, Bobby was very fond of his father and wished to emulate him at an early age. Trace too was quite proud of his boy and let him know it.
Another unexpected improvement was the time Trace was spending with his wife. Neither of them addressed the change but both found themselves spending a great deal more time in one another's company. And enjoying it.
Perhaps it was the season. Sally, Merit and Bobby had great fun decorating the house for yule. Bobby especially enjoyed creating his own ornaments and sticking them all over. There were the yule candles in the dining room...
Downstairs there were seasons greetings in the hall, and Bobby had made Christmas trees to adorn his father's office doors.
He made a star and an angel for Merit and his mother...
On his own door Bobby had fashioned a snowman and the word NOEL on the back. There were paper pine trees in the corner and a picture of he and his mother admiring a decorated Christmas tree on the wall. And over his bed were three mismatched and ostentatious stockings Sally wouldn't allow him to put anywhere else.
At dinner Sally and Merit poked fun at Bobby by going on about the possible gifts he might receive from Father Christmas. Such idle chatter even brought a smile to Trace's face. He joined in on the fun though his gift suggestions were far more practical.
Christmas eve the house silently awaited a visit from Father Christmas.
Bobby awoke groggy, the importance of the day forgotten. But one look at the snow falling outside his window and it all came back in one great rush of excitement. Christmas!
“ Happy Christmas!” He greeted his mother and Merit in the hall, before being ordered back to his room to dress properly for breakfast. Downstairs Bobby assessed all the gaily wrapped presents and wondered which one might be holding a small dog. If one was, it's occupant was being awfully still and quiet.
To everyone's surprise, Trace suggested they exchange gifts before breaking their fast. He'd barely finished speaking before Bobby leaped headfirst into the largest box within his reach. There were the usual gifts of candies and sweets, novelties for decorations, carefully crafted toys to add to Bobby's nursery collection, a lovely new dress for Merit, a grandfather clock for the hall and a shiny new pocket watch for Trace picked out by Bobby.
When every box had been opened, every gift unwrapped, Trace smirked at the barely suppressed look of disappointment on his son's face. “ I suppose that's it then.” He stood and beckoned everyone to the dining room. “I for one am famished. Though there is the matter of this last gift left in the hall.” “ In the hall?” Bobby was confused by the large box. “Who's it for?” Sally smiled at Trace in realization. “In good sport we shall let you open it dear. I too am ready to eat.” Bobby stared at the present while his family went to eat their breakfast. He was afraid to hope. Could it be?
As he picked up the black ball of fur, Bobby's shriek of happiness made the adults smile over their breakfast.
“ Father!” Bobby cried as he raced into the dining room. “Father, however did you know?” “ Know what?” Trace pretended ignorance from behind his mild expression. “ That I wanted a dog more than anything!” “ I didn't. I simply thought the little mongrel could use a home is all. How fortunate for you.” Bobby wasn't buying it. “Thank you Father.”
“ What will you call him, Robert?” Merit asked. “ I haven't decided yet. I wonder if he's hungry.” “ Well at least now we've someone to eat the leftover table scraps. Best keep him out of the kitchen.” Sally joked and gazed at Trace happily. She hadn't been sure he'd known just how much Bobby wanted a dog. Or had cared for that matter.
She was to be amazed still. After breakfast, Trace coaxed Sally outside for one last gift. It was a beautiful morning, the world outside blanketed in white. “ Husband, what exactly is it you wished me to see?” Trace said nothing, only pointed to where the garden lean-to used to stand. Hidden at the corner of the lot was a newly erected greenhouse. Sally hadn't even noticed in the snow.
“ What... Oh Trace!” She gasped. “Is it?” He smiled. “You like it?.” She gazed about, her eyes resting on the small birdhouse centered. She knew it had to have been from her son. Only he shared her love of birds. “ It's lovely. Absolutely perfect. But how ever did you manage to have it built without my knowing?” “ Mr. Davies' company had it erected in less than four hours. It was simply a matter of waiting for you to leave the house for a significant amount of time. What with the busy season, it wasn't difficult at all.”
“ I couldn't love it more.” Sally came out, all smiles. Forgetting herself, she gave Trace a quick and gentle kiss for his efforts. “Happy Christmas, husband.” Trace stared at his wife's happy face and thought how lovely she looked with her cheeks red with cold and excitement, the snow creating a halo of her golden hair. He found her beautiful and the thought caught him off guard.
Bobby decided to name his new friend Perseus. Percy for short. The two of them spent the whole of the day getting to know one another. That evening Bobby showed Percy his new bed placed just outside his bedroom. “ Mother wont let you sleep any closer than this.” He explained at what he perceived as Percy's reluctance. “ I'll leave the door open, shall I? That way we can keep an eye on one another.”
Later on Trace was forced to bring the little mongrel out to meet his call of nature. He began to wonder if getting a dog had been a good idea after all. As he put Percy back in his bed he heard his son murmur, “ Don't shut the door. He'll be frightened on his own.” Trace smiled. Definitely a good idea.
Soon the new year had come and gone. Bobby started his classes at the academy, Trace returned to work (he's been promoted to a protector of whales) and Sally was again paying visits and receiving company. Unfortunately for her that meant visits with the Prescotts had resumed.
On one particularly warm afternoon, James and Willimeena came a calling. The ladies took tea in the parlor while James sought out his friend in his study. “ Ah, here be the scholar. Still slaving away on that infernal contraption?” I'd hardly call it slaving away.” Trace didn't look at his companion. “This here is pure joy.” “ And here I was believing that you avoided joy in all it's forms. Come now, lets get out of here. The wives are suitably occupied and I'm suffering from cabin fever.” “ Oh alright.” Trace reluctantly stopped. “Lets sit outside.”
In the parlor the ladies settled down to study separately. Sally looked almost pained listening to Mrs. Prescott's idle chatter. “ Are you a great reader then? I've never been. Books simply can't keep my attention. There are so many other things to do. Not that my governess didn't try. I can't tell you how many times she rapped my knuckles for sneaking off to play instead of sticking to my studies. My poor hands were reddened raw for most of my childhood. Not that Mama and Papa cared one whit. Mama suffered from fainting spells caused by the lack of discipline in the household. The cook's antics alone could throw her into a frenzy. And Papa couldn't be bothered with us. He always said it was as useful to educate a girl as it was to teach a female cat...”
Merit tried to engage Bobby in a lesson but his attention was elsewhere. “ Robert, are you listening to me at all?” “ Hmm,”
“ So what great novel are you working on now? Or are you still writing your memoirs?” “ It's actually a children's book.” Trace said. “About a little boy seeing the world with fresh eyes. Before he's been spoiled or tainted by life's experience. I'm calling it 'Wide Awake'.” James smirked. It's about your son, then?” “ What?” “ The book. It's obviously about young Robert and your seeing life through his eyes.”
“ Huh,” Trace thought about that. “I hadn't considered it but you may be right.” James smiled. “You're really enjoying him aren't you?” “I've no shame in admitting that I am.” “Nor should you. He's a remarkable young man.” “ Yes. Though I can't take much credit for it. His mother is amazing with him.” James' eyebrow twitched. “Yes. I'm sure she is. So you've certainly taken to family life favorably. I suppose such domesticity is what I've got to look forward to.” There was a bitter edge to his voice. “I doubt it will take the chit very long to provide me with sons.”
“ Don't call her that.” Trace said quietly. “ Excuse me?” James frowned. “ Your wife. She has a name.” “ And you've taken a particular interest in what I call her, have you?” “ Not especially.” “ Then what...” “ I simply dislike your blatant disrespect!” Trace snapped. “ She hasn't done a thing to earn anything else but disrespect from me!” James spat back. “You don't know her like I do. Trust me, your overwhelming empathy for her is wasted. She's dumb as a rock and twice as dense. Her only saving grace is that she's too stupid to even realize how much I detest her very presence!”
“ I thought you would, if not agree, at the very least understand. It's not as though we asked for these marriages. Neither of us ever wanted a wife and you can't seriously begrudge me for my resentment, can you?” Trace was quiet for a moment. “No. No I don't suppose I can. But neither can I dismiss my wife as easily as you do yours.” Now it was James' turn to be quiet. “Not all of us are as fortunate in our marriages as you, my friend.”
The two sat silently in the scant winter sunlight for a bit before James cleared his throat. “ So you were saying you have a greenhouse?” Appreciating the attempt to move on from their disagreement, Trace jumped onto the segue way. “Yes. If you'll follow me, it's just back here.”
James gazed about the greenhouse with a sad smile on his face. “ You built this for her?” “ Well, I had it built. Never been very creative with my hands.” Trace admitted. “ I beg to differ.” “ James.” A warning. “ A very thoughtful gift.” James continued. “I do hope the lady appreciates it.” “ Of course she does. Sally loves to garden.” “ Hmm. I hope the lady realizes the thoughtfulness of such a gesture...”
“ I hope the lady perceives how fortunate she is to have married such a man who loves so selflessly.” “ James,” Trace was uncomfortable with his friend's tone. James turned to Trace. “And does she? Does she understand that this is your way of loving? Giving your all? Or is she blind and think you distant and cold?” “ Please...” “ Just tell me she sees your efforts and I'll leave it alone.” “ ...” Trace said nothing as James reached for him.
“ Because for everything we've given up, you must allow me this courtesy. Let me be envious of Sally. It's all I have left.” Trace felt his knees buckle and was thankful for James' arms around him. “ Let me have this Trace.”
And returned to reality a short time later, where their wives sat waiting. One completely oblivious, the other... not so much. “ Why James, what a pleasant afternoon I've had. Mrs. Norrington is everything that is becoming in a lady. I do adore her. I was quite able to forget the time in her presence. What on earth do you and Mr. Norrington get up to? You were gone ever so long. Like school boys you are. Up to trouble I'm willing to bet. Oh do give me your arm dearest, these stairs are quite icy...”
With Winter coming to an end and the last snows melting away, Bobby found his days full of activity, both at school and at home.
His parents on the the other hand, found their days filled with a new and bitter cold silence. One that seemed in danger of lingering on long after the Winter months.
Chapter Three Unlike Trace, James cared not one wit if his wife spoke to him. Nor did he mind if she suspected just what he and his school 'friend' got up to when they went off. He suffered none of Trace's guilt and had Sally been his wife, he most likely wouldn't even notice the hurt and accusation in her eyes. As it was, the only thing he ever saw in his own wife's eyes was vacantness. And it disgusted him.
Still, he had to bed her. Even if the thought made his stomach turn. It wasn't that James was put off by women entirely. No, he was quite the equal opportunity sort. After having his heartbroken by Trace, James spent his years after University... exploring his sexuality. In red light districts all over Simdon and Paris. An innocent he was no longer. And he knew women had their merits. But Willameena was no woman. She was a child. Frightened yet eager and needing assurance and encouragement. Being a patient, gentle, understanding yet reluctant lover did not bode well for James' temperament.
He still had a sour taste in his mouth from the first time they consummated their union. It had been awkward, Willameena unsure and afraid and James wanting it over as quickly as humanly possible with little regard to either he or his new wife's comfort. Afterward, Meena had leaped from the bed in tears and had been unable to explain why she was crying.
Lastly, James was simply too preoccupied. After all these years he finally had the love of his life back in his bed. And despite promising himself that he would never again behave like a besotted school girl, all he wanted was to run away with Trace. To be with him, live with him, have him near his side always. Nothing compared to the desire in Trace's eyes, the feel of his skin, the heat of his kiss... nothing. Staring down at his wife's expectant expression, James swallowed back a dry heave. There were only two things keeping him in this bed. Trace's nobility and James' own need for sons.
As he once again succumbed to his husbandly duties, after all sex was sex, it was Trace's face he saw, Trace's lips he kissed and Trace's name that nearly slipped out between his clenched teeth.
As predicted it wasn't long before Willameena was with child. While James was pleased with the reprieve from his odious marital duties, Meena was devastated at her weight gain, the hormonal changes that made her want to weep, laugh hysterically, scream and then weep some more. She felt fat, unattractive and mourned for her lost girlhood. Her husband was insensitive and wouldn't come near her. She was large and ungainly. And confinement meant she couldn't have any company or go to any gay parties.
It was both a blessing and a curse when she finally went into labor. While Meena was relieved to be getting it all over with, she wanted to slap every women who called child birth a miracle . From where she was screaming there was absolutely nothing miraculous about it.
She was blessed with twin boys much to both she and James' pleasure. Little did she know that her husband saw his sons as a ticket to a permanent holiday away from her bed. Except for his brown eyes, Peter James was almost a spitting image of his father. On the other hand, James Peter, the namesake and first born twin, resembled his mother in looks and coloring. Too much for his father's liking in fact. It didn't take long for Willameena to realize that James had little notion of looking after their children and that raising kids on one's own was not fun and children were not so cute what with their runny noses, smelly nappies and piercing cries at all hours of the night.
Fortunately Lucy Eldrich, Meena's favored and most beloved cousin, came to stay with them to help raise the boys. Lucy was a poor relation with little in the way of opportunity. Despite James' dislike for his own wife, he welcomed Lucy graciously into their home. She was witty, knew when to keep her tongue and he couldn't help but admire her intelligence and grace.
It was nice to have Willameena suitably occupied so that James himself needn't be bothered by her insipid conversation. Now he could be left in peace and think on the only thing that truly mattered; How soon before he could see Trace again.