A/N: Welcome to my latest literary endeavour, you lovely reader! Here we have a Jeffergelica story featuring the Angel herself, big TJeffs, Hamtheman, Laf-a-minute, and even Maria Cosway the Italian painter who was friendly with both halves of the ship in this story. The majority of this will occur as a flashback, and just to warn you, although this is inspired by historical events, I change the time and dates to suit me. Special thanks to Minniemora for always helping me to improve my writing amongst countless other things, and also to iiMalloryRoseii and a guest named Brie for encouraging me to follow this plot. Thanks for clicking on this, please let me know what you think!
(Edit: Thanks to the guest squid pro quo, any feedback is hugely appreciated, and I've edited this a bit based on your advice to make it less blocky!)
The September sun had thrown a warm glow over the Hamilton household during the day, but now the night had come, the only light within the house came from candles, which happened to be a scarcity in a home where the mistress had been rendered incapable of completing the organizational duties which ordinarily fell to her. They cast a sombre ochre gleam over any surface within reach, yet provided little warmth despite appearances, therefore neglecting to thaw a certain heart, turned to ice after decades of careless management and consequential fractures, and leaving it as solid as granite.
However, that did not mean that the organ in question was frozen into a cool, passive silence, rather it meant that it pounded with an ominous, cold fury, like a drum roll just prior to an execution, aggressively pumping liquid rage through the body and instinctively oxygenating muscles in preparation for a fight, the automatic reflex to retaliate with brutal venom crushing any hesitant fraction of her soul which longed instead to flee the situation in it's entirety rather than go to battle with one of the few men who might feasibly constitute a worthy opponent.
After all, flight was not an option Angelica Schuyler Church was willing to entertain for even a moment when her own dear sister's heart had been broken.
The woman could have been legitimately mistaken for a snake as she stood in her brother in law's office, towering above him as he slumped in his seat, the image of defeat. If Angelica was a cobra, with palpable poison dripping from her mouth whenever she spoke, hissing and spitting vile curses to him as she drew ever closer, the trembling of her voluptuous curls as anger seized her entire body and caused her to shake mimicking the way the reptilian hood would flare so as to mesmerize her target, Alexander was a lame rat, obviously inferior to the impressive predator and completely aware that he could never even hope to deflect the hail of blows she would rain down on him, yet simultaneously knowing that he lacked the ability to flee her omnipotence, too damaged to so much as dream of retiring to someplace safe and peaceful; he was left with the single option of accepting the punishments she would lavish upon him copiously, and praying that she would be swift when she metaphorically dispatched him.
The powerful woman was not feeling quite as merciful as he would have liked, following his unscrupulous treatment of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, however, as she landed strike after strike on the tattered remnants of his pride and arrogance, where she knew it would cause him the most pain:
"I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that it is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, and I have listened to a lot of fools propose schemes so blatantly idiotic that I have had to be sympathetic for them and their stupidity in my time, Alexander. I never thought you, of all people, would sink so low as to invent a new kind of stupid, and for that I suppose I should congratulate you for surprising me."
She was physically incapable of containing her rage within one location, causing her to pace the length of the room. She continued in the cycle of approaching the defenceless man before retreating and easing his nerves slightly, before frightening him once more as she whirled around and stomped towards him again, her scowl growing even more disgusted and her footsteps increasing in volume with every length she took.
But despite all of that, the thing which caused Hamilton to flinch as if physically struck was the fact that she growled his name like a curse, the name Alexander which had once sounded so tantalizing when coming from her lips transformed into something bitter and revolting which she had to spit out due to the vile taste. But how could he blame her, when he himself shared her loathing of his actions? The only difference between them was that he knew his own version of events and he continued to believe he had no choice but to betray her sister, and while for him that allowed a level of chagrined acceptance to replace his inner self-hatred, his sister's lack of comprehension left her unable to forgive. Submitting to her, he meekly murmured, "I know, Angelica."
"And do you also know that this is a damage which can never be undone? Because it seems to me that you failed to think this through at all, as if you had paused for even a heartbeat, you would have seen that and recognized that everything you had - your family, your children and your wife and your sisters - was infinitely more precious than the career you have sacrificed us to preserve." Her voice trembled now, her anguish daring to make itself known before a further surge of rage swiftly crushed it and she continued, "Now you can never recover what you tossed aside: it is far too late."
Again, simply, "I know, Angelica." Thick, heavy, carrying the weight of scarcely suppressed tears.
Still she was not done: for years, so much had gone unsaid between them, there had been so much that she hadn't dared to confess for the sake of her sister. But now she was free to unleash more of herself onto Hamilton than she had ever dared before, and although she had never dreamed that releasing her internal stream of heartfelt confessions to him would be so aggressive, she found she could not stop until she was satisfied that he knew precisely how deep her feelings for him were.
She had just hoped that the feelings she harboured for him would never be so ferocious. She was ruthless as she pointed out, "It was already too late to salvage your bond to your family the instant you found solace in another woman's bed, and now there is no hope for you whatsoever. Your writing can't save you any more, dear brother."
She touched a nerve when she spoke of the futility of his writing. She knew this, and yet she said it anyway. The only justification Hamilton could deduce was that she was intentionally attempting to provoke a response, and feeling threatened, he was happy to oblige. "My writing allowed me to be honest to my wife about a mistake made years ago. Much as I hate that I have caused my Eliza such agony, I can not regret writing my pamphlet." The adrenaline from his argument gave him the courage to meet the fiery furnaces of Angelica's gaze, something he immediately regretted when he felt his skin swelter under the heat.
Still, he foolishly continued, "Plenty of men do whatever they please, and never confess their guilt. Though I admit a completely guiltless life would be preferable, at least I have ended several years of lies by writing my account of -"
The loud slam of Angelica's palms meeting the wood of his desk cut him off, causing the words to wither and die on his lips. His temporary courage was gone as fast as it had arrived, although he still maintained eye contact with his fuming sister. She was completely still, save for her hands as she gradually dug her nails further and further into the oak, needing to feel something within her grasp to refrain from strangling the man - he was still married to her sister, after all.
She visibly had to struggle to cling on to her composure as she replied in a silky, threatening murmur, "So now you choose to defend yourself... How fitting that you should argue the logic behind your writing rather than argue that you still have a chance to salvage your marriage." There was unmistakable disappointment in her dark eyes, but when she blinked, it was gone. Years of wearing a mask had made her adept at concealing what she perceived to be weaknesses, so there was only unwavering conviction as she responded directly to Hamilton's last comment, "Do you want to know why a plethora of men, your friend Mr Jefferson, for example, can do precisely what they want regarding matters such as this?" She succeeded at hiding a blush as she recalled how she knew for certain that Thomas Jefferson had engaged in something similar to that which had been disclosed in Hamilton's Pamphlet, proceeding with increasing volume and reduced composure after nothing more than a customary pause, "He doesn't dignify the sort of infantile taunts which drove you to reveal all with a response!"
"And does that excuse his behaviour?" Hamilton queried, timid in the certainty that he could not win, but genuinely curious as to any alternative which she would have viewed as preferable to the route he took. "You say the likes of Jefferson can do as they like, so would you rather I had simply remained silent, like him? As if protecting Eliza's oblivious bliss would have made the situation any better?"
Seething, Angelica practically bared her teeth in a grimace as she leaned closer towards his face and scornfully declared, "This situation would be made better if my sister had never married a man who would ever do something to threaten her bliss whatsoever!"
"But she did, there is no way of escaping that fact no matter how much you may wish otherwise," Alexander replied, slowly raising to his feet if only to have an excuse to pull away from her wrath slightly, "so I am asking you if there is any way I could have eased her suffering. If there is anything I could have done - or could still do - to alter her pain." His sister paused, considering it before reaching a conclusion which he had already known to be true.
He shook his head forlornly as he confirmed, "Precisely. No amount of mimicking my rival's tendency to remain silent would have spared my darling wife from the torturous humiliation she has had to endure. It would have come out eventually anyway - rumours only grow." He shook his head, regret reflected in the way his body retained its hunched shape despite having stood up. "I tried, I promise you. There was nothing else I could have done."
"At least that way, my dear sister would not have known heartbreak," Angelica retorted, an automatic reflex reaction; Unbeknownst to him, he was criticizing the very approach which had kept word of her own affair from public attention. Yet she was determined not to concern herself too excessively over that comparatively trivial matter. Besides, he was correct when he said that it would not excuse the fact that he had strayed.
Angelica released her grip on the desk and tossed her head back, closing her eyes as another wave of disappointment at his idiotic arrogance washed over her. She breathed deeply, and paused before freeing the air from her lungs, allowing it first to cleanse her wrought spirit. When she exhaled, it was with the utterance of phrase she had repeated several times throughout the duration of her slander, "You could have stayed out of another woman's bed."
Hamilton returned to his seat, scraping it along the wooden floor as he collapsed clumsily into it. "I know, Angelica."
She turned away from him, seeing that he was equally as disappointed by his own actions as she was. Yet that doesn't mean he deserves sympathy, she decided, remorseful or not, he still shattered my Eliza. Even so, it would have been far easier to berate him if he could do anything but agree with her. "Stop saying that," she instructed impatiently, albeit with a slight stammer. Her face was hidden from him for the time being, allowing her to show the true sorrow she felt although it compromised the strength of her words. "You claim to know so much, and yet..."
And yet you still managed to tear my sister's beautiful, radiant heart from her chest?
You still couldn't see that you had everything you ought to need to be satisfied?
You still didn't anticipate the dreadful consequences of your pamphlet?
You still expect me to be somewhat forgiving towards you, because poor defenceless Alexander has gone through so much, and his wrist has a slight ache after writing all ninety six pages of his pamphlet?
She bitterly realized she could not select the most appropriate ending for that sentence.
In his own state of distraction, he would have missed the tiny indicator of her personal sadness in her shaking voice. But even in it's numbed state, his perceptive mind registered the hand she brought to her face, the way she viciously swept it across her cheek as though she detested the emotion shown in the tear she had shed as much as she evidently loathed the man who made her so upset. She may not be capable of pity, but he was, for he had always been prone to presenting a gentler demeanour towards a damsel in distress.
Though it caused his chest to ache with the effort of uttering something more than a few syllables, he offered a distraction from the topic which currently tormented them both. His attempt was somewhat tactless, however, as he asked the first question which came to mind, a matter he was honestly confused over rather than some harmless query, "One thing I do not know is this: why is it that you are so defensive of Jefferson's romantic endeavours and the lengths he goes to in order to guard his privacy? I would assume you were simply arguing in his favour for the sake of opposing me, but for the fact that I know you are above such childishness." That along with the fact that you don't need to pretend to believe in anything in order to criticize me. You are perfectly talented at finding a ceaseless stream of insults and arguments without copying those already made by some other rival of mine.
She whipped around to face him again, all trace of sadness gone. Which was a slight relief to Hamilton, although the renewed surge of fire in her gaze indicated that his prying question had stepped on forbidden territory. Her voice was a low growl as she insisted emphatically, "That is not an enquiry you are entitled to make, Alexander. The reasons are mine alone." His eyes narrowed in suspicion at her fervent response, and she swiftly defended herself, "You can not distract me from Elizabeth's grief by tossing your irrelevant enquiries at me."
If anything, her obfuscation only heightened his desire to learn the truth of a few offhand remarks he had heard over a few years. She had been furious before the question, and she would likely be furious after he was done.
So, unable to resist and able to justify it with the decision that seeing unbridled aggression mar the perfection of her usually placid, beautiful face was far more tolerable than heart-wrenching sorrow, he took the fleeting opportunity to press, "Jefferson told me you had met, during your time in France."
"There are plenty of respectable people in France, many of whom I socialized with at some point," she insisted dismissively. "And you are still avoiding -"
"He told me you had been close, taunted me with it, even." He had risked saying too much to possibly be shunned into silence by her venomous glare, so he continued, "Was he being honest?" His sister folded her arms over her chest, closing him out or maybe urging her heart to stop fluttering at the mere mention of Jefferson's talking about her. She had clearly resolved to ignore him until he allowed the matter to drop.
Nevertheless, he continued to offer an opportunity to answer at least one of his invasive questions, "Did you favour him to your brother?"
"Do you honestly think there is a single person on Earth I don't favour over you at this point in time?" She snapped, shattering her silence with such sudden speed that Alexander felt almost as though her words had landed upon him with the force of a slap.
He blinked, momentarily stunned, which gave her all the opportunity she required to fully close down his investigation. "You are undeserving of my time and energy, and you are completely unworthy of prying into matters which don't concern you." She began to walk away, determined that she would not waste a single precious second more that ought to be spent with her sister on berating her treacherous brother.
"Is that all you're going to tell me about Jefferson, then?" Hamilton called after her, no longer even pretending that he was trying to save her from the torturous thoughts of his betrayal: he wanted the answers which eluded him, though he was almost certain that he would not get them. His final attempt to pique her interest failed drastically, not even causing her to halt, let alone turn to face him, as he added, "I think I'm entitled to know anything you have on him, since it was the pressure he applied that drove me to all this!"
That was news to the woman who had assumed she knew all the information she needed to judge who was in the wrong. Still, her exit did not falter, and she corrected him, "I was not talking about Jefferson, though his friendship with me has nothing to do with you either. I was referring Eliza, who you will not approach. I am here for her now." Just as I always have been. No matter the sacrifices I have made in order to care for her, I would never change my choice to prioritize her happiness over my own. I only wish I could have protected her better.
Yet as she left, she did not immediately make her way towards the bedroom where she had left her sister over an hour ago, when she had been consoled sufficiently that she was able to sleep. Angelica could not come face to face with a pain which seemed to throw her own suffering, reawakened by Hamilton's questions, into irrelevancy. Instead, she loitered in the hallway and took a moment of solitude to revisit her regrets before she locked them firmly away within her heart, hiding them securely away from any prying eyes just as she always did.
She had scarcely even thought about Thomas since she first heard of Elizabeth's distress, but now the ghosts of her memories had been resurrected, crawling under her skin and fixing there like Jefferson himself had managed to so many years ago.
And now, Angelica had no option but to remember every last bittersweet detail.