Worst. Semester. Ever. Then right into Christmas – But I still love you all. And none of my busyness involved buying the rights to Felicity. They still belong to Pleasant Company.
More Than This
An American Girl: Felicity Fanfiction
Everything felt rushed as soon as Felicity arrived in New York. With less than a fortnight before the wedding, and Annabelle confined to her bed chamber, Felicity and Elizabeth spent their days in a flurry of dress fittings, and flower arrangements. It seemed the night before the ceremony was the first time they had to relax, and joined the boys at cards.
"You've hardly ever talked to her!" Felicity snapped, looking up from her hand.
"Yes, but, I had heard you talk of her extensively, I knew of her character before we met." Andrew tried to explain. "Can I buy the queen for two pence?"
"You called her a prude every time I spoke of her! No, you may not have the queen."
"I was prejudiced then, and immature. But after I met her I saw how she could mange her decorum with such grace and elegance. And think, when we get married, all of our children will be cousins. Four pence?"
"What about Nathaniel?" Henry asked. "Is he to marry Felicity and join in our happy family?"
Felicity saw Andrew's eyes dart across to Nathaniel, searching his face with a nervous glance. It had happened so quickly that no one else even noticed, but it gave Felicity a fleeting anxious feeling.
"I will never marry." Nathaniel said in a firm, even voice. "I'll give you eight pence for the Queen."
"I suppose if we consider the way Nathaniel treats his own family," Henry laughed "I'm not entirely sure we would want him in ours."
Elizabeth suddenly turned to Felicity. "Is Ben courting you?" She asked sweetly.
"No." Felicity said quickly, "and no, Nathaniel, not even for eight pence."
"Is anyone else courting you?"
"No," Felicity said, annoyed at the sudden interrogation. "I spend most of my time with Ben, but we are not courting."
"Are you sure?" Elizabeth asked.
"'Tis just a strange situation, isn't it? You live together. It's not as if he can call on you."
"'Tis not uncommon for apprentices to marry their employer's daughters," Felicity said briskly.
"What is uncommon is your friendship with Ben. I'm sure few apprentices have a relationship with their employer's daughters like you and Ben. He's cared about you since you were nine years old."
"All of the more reason for him to think of me as nothing more than a sister."
"You know that's not true, He's always cared about you, and trusted you, as if you were his equal."
"He's made no indication of intending to court me." Felicity said cutting her off.
"But he doesn't see, or write, or talk to any other girls?"
"None that I know of."
"If you spend all of your time together, wouldn't you know of them?" Elizabeth asked with a grin, "I believe you have nothing to worry about," she turned her top card revealing the Ace of hearts, "and it seems I have won this hand."
The day that Miss Elizabeth Cole became Mrs. Henry Lockwood was a sunny mid-summers day with a light breeze that cooled the air and filled the church with the scent of flowers from the garden. Andrew led Felicity down the aisle and she stood with Elizabeth as maid of honor while Annabelle, so close to her time, sat with Lord Harry.
Elizabeth was as beautiful as Henry was handsome and the entire day was flawless. It wasn't until that evening when Felicity watched Henry and Elizabeth's carriage pulling them down the drive that she felt a sense of dissatisfaction.
"What troubles you?" Nathaniel asked walking up behind her and taking her arm
"Oh!" Felicity said quietly, surprised by his sudden appearance. "It's nothing. It's… silly."
"Of course it's not." He said his voice serious. He led her to the sofa and sat down beside her.
"Just seeing Elizabeth getting married, I feel like it means our childhood is over, as if I should be married too."
"You're seventeen years old, Felicity. That's hardly an old maid."
"I know, but…"
"I am an entire year older than you and I am still unmarried." He stated with a grin.
"Yes, but you have sworn off marriage."
"I have. And it's taken a lot of worry out of my life. You should swear it off with me. I fear I am going to lose Andrew to that little sister of yours. You can replace him as an eternal bachelor with me. I will take care of you and we will do whatever we wish."
"This sounds quite scandalous."
"Well, well, well, you are becoming an adult, aren't you? Not to worry, you have already sworn off every eligible bachelor in New York, and spending the next week with Andrew and I will help you remember how to be childish again." Nathaniel grinned.
As it turned out there was one young man in New York Felicity had not met, and once they did meet, Felicity spent most of her spare time with Hugh Walker Lacey.
That night, just after midnight, Felicity was awoken by a piercing scream. She threw on a dressing gown and dashed out into the hall.
"What was that?" She asked finding Mrs. Cole and Lord Harry in the hall.
"It's the baby, Felicity. Can you take Lord Harry down to the parlor? Make him a drink and sit with him, if you will, my dear."
"Of course, Mrs. Cole." Felicity dutifully
Felicity sat up for the rest of the night listening to distinct step-knock-step-knock of Lord Harry pacing across the parlor.
At dawn she finally explained, "Lord Harry, you need to sit down, pacing across the room is not helping anything." She spoke in a dull voice and never looked up from her sampler.
"Right-Oh!" Lord Harry distractedly muttered. He sat by the fire for a brief moment until another cry from upstairs made him leap back out of his chair.
Felicity smiled. With such a lack of sleep she couldn't help but be amused by the fumbling of the lanky nobleman.
"How long has this been going on?" Andrew asked, appearing with Nathaniel in the parlor.
Felicity sighed. "All night. I've been sitting with Lord Harry, who had been this much of a nervous wreck since it began. I'm so glad you're here, I'm not sure how much longer I could have sat here with him without beating him with is own cane."
"How did we not know about this, it cannot have been this chaotic all night?"
"Of course it has. Only, the two of you will sleep through anything. Sit with him for a moment and I will go check on Bananabelle." However, just as Felicity began climbing the stairs Annabelle's last cry was joined by another.
Lord Harry passed Felicity and ran up the stairs, moving faster than Felicity could ever imagine a man with one leg could.
"Can I hold him?" Lord Harry immediately asked.
"Of course." Annabelle said, her voice tired.
Lord Harry reached for his son, and then hesitated. He turned his body and tried once more, again stopping just before he reached him.
"Just make sure you are supporting his head."Felicity offered from the doorway. "Then you can just rest him on your arm. Like this." She crossed the room to show him what she meant, carefully handing the man his son.
"Right… Right-oh…Thank you, Miss Merriman." Harry said, his voice disbelieving.
Neither Annabelle nor Lord Harry had any experience caring for children. When Felicity asked if they had hired a nurse for the boy, she learned that Annabelle's selfishness extended to her son.
"I don't want a nurse to raise him," Said the girl who had always wanted a small army of servants at her command. "He is my son. I can care for him myself."
Felicity had been helping with little ones for years, and thus became invaluable to Lord and Lady Lacey during that first week.
"I would have loved to have you waiting on me hand and foot like this when we were children." Annabelle laughed a few days later and Felicity showed her how to pin a diaper.
"Yes, well, then you were bossy and annoying, Felicity laughed. "But now you deserve the help, and I'm happy give it."
She was surprised to find that she was. She felt an affinity toward the young mother and wanted to help her. Caring for Walker was different than caring for her siblings. She didn't feel like it was her responsibility to watch over him, more of a need. When she was holding him she couldn't stop from thinking about what it would be like to have children of her own, and although the suddenness of these wishes frightened her a bit, she was surprised that she was enjoying them.
She was sure that this was the opposite of the fun, the irresponsible week that Andrew and Nathaniel had planned for her.
Felicity returned home late on a Tuesday night. Ben had been waiting up for her to come home since Saturday. Waiting up did him little good as after quickly hugging him and her parents she headed wordless to her bed. The next morning she and Elizabeth had already gone before he had woken. The newlyweds had stayed the night with the Merrimens, but were planning to leave just after the midday meal. When Henry Lockwood showed up at the store later that morning, Ben found he wasn't the only one the girls had eluded.
"Good morning, Ben. I was wondering if you had seen my wife, I seem to have lost her, and I've heard many stories of her loitering here in the past."
I haven't seen your wife since breakfast. But it's nearly time for supper. We will most likely find them back at the house."
"The stories you heard are true. They always seemed to be everywhere, making trouble." Ben admitted fondly as they began down the road, "Mr. Merriman would often call them the Merriest Girls in Virginia."
"I envy you, you know, that you knew them when they were young. I can just see them running around, making mischief, always one step ahead of everyone."
"I was always a prop in their schemes to tease Annabelle, so unless you envy confusion and embarrassment…"
"Oh, from what Lady Lacey had said of them, it sounds worse being the objects of their teasing."
Ben laughed. "I assure you, whatever she's had to say about it a half a decade later, Annabelle never came out of their pranks with anything worse than damaged pride and a better sense of reality."
"No, I never imagined they did any real damage."
"I wouldn't go that far. You know Lord Harry's sister?"
"Pricilla? She returned to England; the family hasn't heard from her in years." Henry said disbelieving.
"I believe I know the reason for that." Ben grinned.
"Well," Henry laughed. "They grew up to be quite lovely, anyway. We are lucky men you and I."
Ben wasn't entirely sure he knew what Henry had meant, but agreed none the less. "If you'll excuse me," Ben said as they reached the barn, "I need a moment to clean up before dinner. I'm sure the girls must be waiting in the house."
"I've never drank that much tea in one morning!" Elizabeth's said, a few minutes later, from the barn under Ben's loft.
"Well, we were supposed to have gone riding, not calling on the entire town. I understand why everyone is excited to see the triumphant return of the successfully married Miss Cole, but between your husband, our families and every bored, gossipy wife in Williamsburg, I've hardly had a minute to talk to you since you've been married!" Felicity replied, Ben could hear her putting the horses back into their stalls.
"Now that we are alone, I must tell you that you must get married as soon as possible. The things you get to do once you are married – you shouldn't have to wait any longer!"
Ben didn't know what to do. Obviously the girls weren't aware that he was there. He remembered Felicity telling him that she was afraid of the old apprentice, because he would watch her through the floor boards. Ben felt very uncomfortable, but it seemed far too late to announce his presence.
"You don't mean…"
Ben knew exactly what she meant, but he was shocked that she would talk about it. Men talked, crass, lewd, conversations in the army or at the taverns, but it was nothing for ladies, Felicity and Elizabeth, to be speaking of!
"It's amazing, Lissie, I don't even know how to describe it."
"I've seen animals and heard… It always seemed so frightening and…painful."
Elizabeth laughed. "There is a certain amount of discomfort at first, but it's well worth the rest, and even then Henry was so affectionate and gentle…" Her voice faded away for a moment "I'm sure Ben will be the same way with you."
For an instant Ben's mind was completely blank.
"Stop it!" Felicity snapped.
"No, you stop denying that you want to be with him. Everyone can see you dancing around each other, it's silly. I could have told you that you were meant to be together when we were eleven years old! Then you came to New York and there were scores of eligible men, and you showed absolutely no interest. And you know that not all of them were loyalists, I won't have to hear that excuse. I mean really, Felicity, can you even imagine yourself with anyone else?"
Ben couldn't. He couldn't imagine a life where he didn't see her every morning. Where they didn't ride horses, or work at the shop together. If she married anyone else he couldn't watch her reading by the fire after supper or mumble things to herself while she is cooking. These were the things he missed whenever they were apart. And all of this had been obvious to Elizabeth Cole, whom he hadn't seen in years? He realized what Henry had meant earlier, about them being lucky men, or the after breakfast teasing from his brother. Even looks that he had gotten from Mr. Merriman suddenly made more sense.
"No." Felicity answered in a small voice. Ben wasn't sure if the noise that accompanied his release of breath was a sigh, gasp, or laugh, but he knew it was too loud. Felicity would most assuredly deny take back her confession if she knew he had eavesdropped on her in such a way.
"Well at least you've finally admitted that to yourself." Elizabeth said. "Let's get to dinner."
Nan loved dance lessons; learning the ways that intricate movements could display so many thoughts and emotions without the use of words. She was excellent at it, if she did say so herself. However, the unspoken messages that were being conveyed over supper that afternoon were too complicated for even Nan to follow. Mr. Lockwood seemed to be the most straight forward to her. He was watching her. Not in an unsettling way, Henry Lockwood was a perfect gentleman, she wished his brother was more like him, then she would feel such dread at his was observations and his apparent approval.
From across the table, Felicity would hardly look at anyone. Nan knew that something had to be going on if her sister was so subdued while she had company. Elizabeth, sitting right next to Nan, knew whatever the issue was, she couldn't stop giggling whenever she looked at Felicity or Ben. Ben had only looked at Felicity once, grinned like a fool for a half of a moment, then kept his eyes only on his plate as well. Nan wasn't sure if she was more annoyed that she had no idea what was happening, or how awkward it was making the dinner.
"Did you girls have a good time, you were gone all morning!" Mr. Merriman asked Elizabeth.
"We didn't intend on being out so long, I assure you. But there are so many things to catch up on. Lissie and I were just talking before dinner and- "
Felicity's head suddenly shot up with a panicked expression. Nan felt a sudden, sharp jab in her shin.
"Ow!" Nan exclaimed quietly, looking at Felicity with wide questioning eyes. He sister looked wildly between her sister and her best friend with a horrified disbelieving, expression.
Elizabeth could hardly hold back her laughter as she continued. "And we decided that we have not spent near enough time together."
"You're going to take her away again?" Ben asked suddenly.
"Elizabeth and I would like to invite all of you to our house for Christmastide." Henry announced quickly, taking control of the situation and making Nan wonder if he was even more perceptive than she was.
"The Lockwoods are coming, and all of their connections from North Carolina, but my family will not be able to visit this winter." Elizabeth added, "I would be honored to have you as my personal guests. It's going to be a grand affair, with dinners and a ball for twelfth night."
Nan couldn't bring herself to be excited about seeing Mr. Andrew Lockwood again, but who was she to refuse as ball?