Notes and Disclaimers:
Oh man, I can not believe this is happening. I started getting ideas for this story over a year and a half ago, and I've been working on it, mostly passively ever since. My goal was to have it all written before I started posting, and I have not done that. Over half of it is finished and the entire thing is planned in detail, I'm hoping having readers will give me the proper motivation to actually sit down and finish. So if you like what you see now, please, please review. The title of this story and the quote from the summary are from the song "More Than This" by Vanessa Carlton. The Felicity Series is owned by The Pleasant Company.
More Than This
An American Girl: Felicity Fanfiction
"Felicity!" Mrs. Merriman called from the bottom of the stairs.
Felicity Merriman had been hiding in her bed chamber all morning. She felt like she'd been cleaning for two straight days to prepare for the Twelfth Night party her mother was hostessing. At breakfast that morning where she was told to clean her room, which she did despite the fact that she was sure none of the guests would be upstairs at all. She decided after polishing silver and helping Rose in the kitchen all day yesterday, she deserved the rest of the morning off. Apparently, her mother didn't think so.
Despite the last few days of work, Felicity thought this Christmas had been wonderful. The whole town seemed more cheerful because the soldier's were expected home any day. Their enlistments were up at the beginning of January, and since the British had decided to stop the war for the winter, most of the men were not reenlisting. At home, her Mother had done everything to make this holiday extra special. She had been sick for the last two Christmases, once with a fever and the next because of her pregnancy. Felicity knew that tonight's party was going to exceed everyone's expiations.
The only person Felicity knew who seemed unenthusiastic about the Christmas season was Ben, her father's apprentice and her close friend. He had spent the few weeks since his eighteenth birthday complaining and sulking about, pouring over newspapers and Thomas Pain's pamphlets.
"This is ridiculous!" He'd ranted. "They say they're not taking recruits right now, to wait until spring. The whole army will be leaving within the week! When spring comes we'll have no army, but the British will be well rested and ready to fight!"
"Ben, from what I've read the soldiers are freezing and starving, with no supplies or weapons, they are not ready to fight now anyway."
"I'm ready to fight." Ben said irately.
"I know," she said in a low, soothing voice.
To be honest, she was happy that Ben couldn't leave. It was partly selfish, her best friend Elizabeth had just moved with her family to upstate New York, where they had connections with other loyalist families. Elizabeth's father had fled there after being jailed for supporting the British in Williamsburg, and her mother wanted to get her daughters as far away from the war as possible. Felicity didn't want another friend to leave her. But mostly, she was worried. She'd seen too many families waiting on letters from their sons and brothers, which never came often enough. Or worse, they would receive a cold unfeeling letter from an officer saying that their loved ones were never coming home. It would be hard if Ben left, but if he never came back, she couldn't imagine how awful that would be.
"Felicity Merriman, What are you doing up here?" Her mother asked, hurriedly entering the room without knocking.
"Cleaning my room," Felicity said, trying to sound innocent.
"For three hours?" Her mother accused. "I want you to go and get the good china and set the table. Make sure all the silver is polished, then go to the kitchens and see if Rose needs any help, but, I want you and your sister bathed and dressed by four, understand?"
"Yes, mother." Felicity said through clenched teeth as she headed down the stairs.
An hour before the guests were to arrive Felicity's mother was still in her work dress, in a frenzy of fixing last minute details, when there was a knock on the door. Felicity, who was already dressed, went to answer it.
"Who on earth? Who would show up this early?" She muttered to no one in particular brushing past Felicity.
A messenger boy was impatiently waiting on the step with a satchel was full of letters. "I have message for Mrs. Merriman." He was slightly out of breath. Mrs. Merriman paid the boy. When she had finished reading the message she sighed.
"Felicity!" She called out, forgetting she was standing right behind her "Oh! Your Father and Ben are going to be late. I need you to help me move the furniture in the parlor. I was waiting for them but…" She trailed off as she pushed a large chair against the wall.
Everything was ready when people began to arriving. Felicity and Nan were greeting guests and taking coats at the door, William and Polly were in the kitchens with Rose eating their dinner, and Mrs. Merriman was in the parlor, helping the guests with their drinks. The only thing that wasn't going according to plan was the lack of men. Nearly all of Mother's guests walked into the Merriman's house with apologies, "My husband sent a message saying he'll be late, but he'll be here soon." Or "My son is on his way, you know how young men can get distracted."
Felicity wanted to wait for everyone to show up before the dancing started. She had no plans of explaining to anyone, but she was hoping to dance the minuet with Ben, but her mother said they were going to start the party with the guests they had.
Felicity watched the front door as each guest danced the minuet with one of the few men or boys present. When the last couple had danced Felicity gave up and stood up with Nan. Felicity felt slightly sorry for the few men who did show up on time, they danced for nearly two hours without stopping, constantly switching between all of the ladies in the room. Some of the women partnered up for the jigs and reels, which caused terrible confusion when everyone always expected the other to lead. It was hardly a traditional evening, but everyone had a good time.
Just before dinner Mr. Merriman came home accompanied by eight of the male party guests. He removed his coat and quickly walked across the room to his wife. Felicity watched them talk in hushed tones. Her mother looked surprised and worried when she looked up at Felicity.
The upbeat waltz and the smell of cinnamon filled the room, Nan was laughing as Mr. Deare lifted her off the ground while they danced, Fitchett was commenting on how good the punch tasted, but as she walked toward her mother Felicity was filled with dread.
"He's fine, Felicity." Her mother assured her, seeing the fear in her daughter's expression. Mother gave Father a questioning glance, he nodded and continued.
"Ben is having supper at Kings Arms tonight, Felicity. We shall talk more tomorrow."
Felicity was confused, "But, the party, he knew…"
"Ben would want you to enjoy the party." Mr. Merriman said in a tone that meant that they were finished with the conversation. "Let's eat supper," he finished in a calmer voice.
Felicity wasn't hungry for supper. The conversation blurred around her, even when the strawberry tarts that Felicity had been looking forward to all week were served she only poked at them with her fork. When Polly walked into the dinning room crying in her nightshift Felicity volunteered to take her back to bed. She tucked Polly in and laid on Nan's bed across the room, from there she could see out the window onto the front hall path. She watched for Ben until she could no longer keep her eyes open.
It was before dawn the next morning, when Felicity awoke. She was surprised to find herself in Nan's bed, Polly still asleep on the other side of the room. It took a moment for her to remember why she was there. She laid back down thinking over last night's strange events. She was suddenly frustrated with herself for going to bed early, if she hadn't, she could have waited for Ben to come home, or at least asked her parents where he was once the guest's had gone. She didn't understand why he would miss the party, he knew it was important to her mother, and to her.
Lying there confused was enough to drive her crazy, so she decided she would go to the stables to see her horses. Riding had a way of clearing her head, and Ben slept in the stables, so if he was awake, she could ask where he'd been.
She snuck back into her own room, careful not to wake her sister, who was asleep in her bed, and quickly got dressed. She quietly walked down the stairs and was almost to the door when something sitting on the dining room table caught her attention. Something about the stack of papers made her suddenly nervous, she knew it was late when the guests left, she could see no reason why everyone would stay awake to read the newspaper.
On top was a copy of The Pennsylvania Gazette,dated December 29th. The Headline read Across the Delaware! and the two articles beneath told that General George Washington had ambushed British forces in Trenton, New Jersey. The next paper The Maryland Daily Intelligencer wasdated January 4th, with the headline Victory in Princeton! She read that Washington had finally won a battle. The war had started again.
Felicity's hand was trembling as she picked up the single page that she had not yet read.
Enlistment in Virginia's Third Regiment of the Continental Army.
Private Benjamin Davidson, hereby, commits one year's service and loyalty to the Continental Army of the United States of America.
Her eyes filled with tears, blurring the rest of the page, but she could see the bottom of the contract was already signed by Ben, with her father as his witness.
Ben had been talking about joining the Army since they had met, but Felicity was shocked that it was really happening. She dropped the paper onto the table and ran to get Penny. She just wanted to ride. Hoping that, maybe, when she came home everything would make sense again.
Ben hadn't brought many belongings when he came to Williamsburg from his home in Yorktown. Now he was finding it difficult to decide how to narrow down his small wardrobe to things he could carry on his person.
He'd decided to wear his, now ruined, Sunday breeches. He told himself he didn't know why, but he knew when she wore them something wonderful had happened, and he thought maybe he would be able to share in their luck.
He packed an extra shirt, letters from his parents, and his father's pocket knife into his satchel and was nearly ready to get into bed when there was a knock on his door.
Before he realized it was her she threw herself, crying, into his arms. For a moment he was too surprised to respond. He couldn't help thing she was too old to be running around in only her nightshift as he tentatively wrapped his arms around her shoulders.
She hadn't spoken to him in four days. The morning after he enlisted, she was gone when he'd woken up. Felicity was prone to early morning rides, so no one worried. Mr. and Mrs. Merriman explained Ben's plans to the younger children over breakfast. Nan was worried, and William was fascinated, while Ben answered their questions. When they heard the front door open Mrs. Merriman called "Lissie, please join us in the dinning room, we'd like to talk with you." The only response she gave was the slamming the front door, stomping up the stairs and then slamming the door to her bedchamber.
"She must have seen the papers on the table." Mr. Merriman sighed. "We have to open the store, let's give her the day to calm down and we will talk to her tonight."
When Ben got back from the store that night she had already gone up to bed. Mrs. Merriman said that Felicity had hardly said a word to anyone, going to lessons and doing chores all day.
Felicity continued to be wherever Ben wasn't until that morning at church. Where even though they were closed in the same box pew she sat on the opposite side of her parents and neither looked at, nor spoke to him.
He did not want to leave in the morning without saying goodbye to her. Despite being six years his junior, she had become his best friend in Williamsburg. He was going to miss her. They had a way of leveling each other's quick tempers, while supporting each other at the same time. But when she simply refused to talk to him he couldn't understand what she was thinking, and he didn't know what to do.
"Felicity, what's wrong?" He asked quietly.
"Don't go," she sobbed, "please, don't leave."
"Lissie, shh, listen." He guided her backwards and she sat down on the bed, he picked up a blanket and draped it over her shoulders. She immediately pulled the corner to her face and used it as a makeshift handkerchief. "I must, everything is set. I have to go."
"No, no, you can't." She cried, "Tell them you changed your mind, or have Father say he needs you as an apprentice. I thought you liked being my father's apprentice, I thought you were happy here."
"Felicity," He pulled his desk chair to the side of the bed and sat in front of her so their knees were barely touching. He reached for her hand. "I do like being here, and I admire your father greatly. I would love to have a life like his, a business, children," he paused and looked down at his hands, "and a wife. Someday, but we can't always have everything we want, sometimes we can only follow one desire at a time.
"If I say I changed my mind, I'll be deserter, I'll be court marshaled. And your father was there when I enlisted. I have another contract with him, saying I'll finish my apprenticeship when I return."
"What if…" She stopped and took a shaky breath, "if you don't return." She was staring at him with her green eyes wide and filled with tears.
He nodded slowly. "Felicity, listen." He said gently. "I was five years old when the British passed the Stamp Act. One of my first memories is sitting on my father's lap, while he and his friends spoke against the British. Since then things have only gotten worse, and worse. You are the one, who told me a promise is something we make with ourselves. My entire life I swore to my self I would fight for our new country. There was never a question, never a choice for me. I understand that it is dangerous, that I may not return, but freedom is worth the risk."
"What is freedom worth if you die?"
"If any thing happens to me, then I am fighting for you, and for your children, and their children, so that you can have freedom, and that is worth my death. We march out just after dawn, nothing will change my mind."
Felicity nodded, not looking at him. She wrapped the blanket tighter around her shaking body as she stood and walked toward the door. "Felicity," he said, and he heard her stop. "May I write you while I am away?" He turned around to face her, there were tears running down her freckled cheeks. She nodded, and he stood letting her cry into his shoulder.
"I'll do everything in my power to come home, that's the best promise I can make right now." He said after a moment, "you should go back to bed."
She wished him goodnight in a teary voice, and he told her to have pleasant dreams. The next morning Ben left eating a muffin Mrs. Merriman had made for his breakfast, while Felicity, with her tear stained cheeks, still slept wrapped in the blanket from his bed.