[center [font "Calibri" When the Great War broke out there was a surge of patriotism and a rush of men signing up to fight for their country, thinking that the war would be over by Christmas. Four harsh years were taken from those that signed up to fight and for some of the soldiers their time in this world was over; their lives claimed by the horrors of war.]]
[center [font "Calibri" As the war was being fought on the Western Front there were real battles being fought every day back in England. Many women were fighting against the loss of their husbands, fathers and sons and loved ones. It was not uncommon and many banded together to deal with such loss. Still, life had to go on and soon enough the war would be over and those who had lost could work on rebuilding their lives whilst always remember those who had given up theirs.]]
[center [font "Calibri" Elizabeth lost a man whom she loved; a man who had once asked her to marry him but sadly it was the war that broke them apart and one day that dreaded telegram was delivered to her home letting her know that her soul mate had passed early on during the war. She had promised to wait for him until the war was over, but now she knew he would never return to her.]]
[center [font "Calibri" In 1918 a miracle happened and the war came to an end and with the end, came the return of the brave soldiers who had remained to fight for them. Elizabeth hadn’t expected that the man she had once loved would return to her after being pronounced dead but sure enough one day he showed up at her door, ready to give his entire world to her. Yet she seemed sad. It has been a year since she had been told he had died and with not one letter from him how could she had possibly hoped that he was still alive? For when he had returned she had been engaged to another to help with the debt that had been brought upon her family when her father passed.]]
[center [font "Calibri" I am wanting to start at the very beginning of this story. It will begin in 1914 just before the war breaks out. At some point along the line Elizabeth will meet your character, whether that be before the war breaks out or during one of his relief visits home. We can decide that together. I want to follow the story all the way through from them meeting to him returning to her after she had been told that he was dead. Again we can discuss the finer details if you decide to join me. I think after that point we can allow the roleplay to flow however it may.]]
[center [font "Calibri" I would like someone who would be willing to play Elizabeth's love interest. Please PM me to let me know that you are interested and we can discuss the details further. I generally post anything from 300 - 1500 words depending on the level of depth required although I do not require or produce this for every post, especially if there is a conversation taking place. When the time comes, I figured that both of us could have control of Elizabeth's fiance so that we can move the plot along.]]
[center [pic https://orig00.deviantart.net/b0ca/f/2018/004/9/f/c35e_by_burningsxn-dbyw6qk.jpg]]
[center [pic https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/0f/32/92/0f3292a4a124cf8a1d4c43d52ade7c35--thomas-barrow-downton-abbey.jpg]
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They had been expecting this. The moment she saw Jamie standing at her door, she knew that he would have to leave at some point but that did not mean that it would hurt them any less, especially now that the nature of him leaving could mean that he would not return to her. Even if he did, he might not be the same man that stood before her now. That was partly why she wanted nothing more than to commit every single detail of his face to her memory. While she would never say it out loud, she was scared that this might be the last time that she saw him. As they stood there in her hallway, she could not draw her eyes away from him and she was sure that he would be able to see the tears that were beginning to form at the corner of her eyes.
Elizabeth’s heart grew heavy and she found herself wondering if she would be able to continue as normal the moment he walked out of that door. How was she supposed to pretend as though she did not have someone she loved fighting for their country; for their lives? As he lifted his hand to her cheek she leaned into it and allowed his warmth to graze her skin, knowing that she would remember what his touch felt like. She would need memories like this to help her through their time apart. When he brought his eyes up to meet hers, it felt as though something had stabbed at her heart and she could no longer keep the tears from sliding down her cheek.
At first, his smile confused her but when he spoke soon after, she knew that he was trying to give them both hope that this would not be the last time they saw each other. Neither of them could think like that because Jamie would never leave if he thought that she feared the same and he would never be able to forgive himself if he allowed others to fight for their country while he remained home for a woman who was too scared of the potential of losing him. As his thumb grazed her cheek, it took her tears with it and she tried her hardest to hold back the rest of them until he left.
Elizabeth’s heavy heart quickened as he spoke and she tried to smile at his words as he began to tell her just how he felt about her and the way she had changed his view of love. She hoped that he knew just how much the same things were true for her. While most girls dreamed of romance, Elizabeth had tried her hardest to avoid it, wanting to focus on her training to become a nurse. She wanted to prove that she did not need a man in her life but now, the exact opposite was true although it was not [I any] man, it was Jamie. It would [I always] be Jamie.
Elizabeth’s eyes closed as he pressed his lips against her forehead and her breath hitched in her throat when he told her that he loved her, simply and with complete honesty.
“I will wait for you for as long as it takes for you to return to me. Even if this war continues for a decade, I can promise you that my heart will always belong to you Jamie. I love you.” She said as he pulled her close to him. They remained in each other’s embrace for a few minutes before it really was time for him to leave and she pulled back with hesitation so that she could take him hand and lead him to the door. “I feel as though we met far too late.” She said with a smile, leading him down the stairs and towards the front door. “But I would not change anything for the world. I am forever yours, that much I can promise you.”
Jamie watched the woman sink back into the bed, her eyes closed. She looked so much like Elizabeth and though he had only known her mother for such a short time he felt his heart sink at the fatigue that swept across her face. They would have gotten along so well, he could not have asked for better future in-law. Elizabeth rose from her seat next to her mother and walked over to him, gesturing for them to leave. Jamie swallowed back the thought that this would be the only time he got to meet her mother, a woman who meant so much to Elizabeth. Once they were out the room he looked down at their hands as Elizabeth took them in her own. He could not speak for a few moments, understanding that the love he felt for Elizabeth extended to her family. He could only hope that one day he would feel kindly towards her father.
As she spoke he bit down on his lip, trying to force back the emotions that were bubbling inside him. This was it then. This was their goodbye. It had come around too quickly and an alien panic started to fill his stomach. How could he leave her now when he had only just got her back? If something happened to him, to her, in their time apart… he was not sure he could live his life without her now. Jamie disentangled their fingers and rested his hand against her cheek, feeling the warmth against his palm. He had thought that morning, that just being able to spend a few hours with her memorising her face, would be enough, but now he knew that nothing would be enough until she was in his arms again, with no plans of ever leaving. Jamie lifted his downward stare to meet her gaze, her sparkling eyes, eyes that he would miss.
Swallowing back his own sadness and fear he forced a slight smile on his mouth. “Do not thank me, love, it is the first day of many perfect days together.” He said his words with as much hope as he could muster, hopeful they would come true if he really believed it. He brushed a strand of her honey hair back from her face and grazed his thumb across her cheekbone.
“I would trade anything for a few more hours with you.” He said, and he meant it. “But, you’re right. I need to leave before your father is home and if I stay any longer, I am not sure that I will ever be able to leave.” The words caught in his throat and he wished with all the spirit in his body that someone would burst through the doors, telling them that the entire day had been a trick, a lie, that the war was some sick joke and that he didn’t have to leave.
“I know… I know that this is not goodbye. Not truly love, but I will regret every waking moment away from you if I could not tell you before I leave how I feel.” He paused and sucked in a deep breath as if inhaling all the courage he could muster. “Before you, there was nothing. I had my farm, my family and my friends but it was empty. I laughed at those who spouted declarations of love and despised losing my friends to women. I spent each day just surviving, just getting through the sunrise until sunset. If I had known that you were out there, that there was a chance that I could feel this way, I would have found you sooner. From the moment I met you, everything changed. I know what it is to live now and I live for you, for us and our future.” Jamie stepped closer to her, pressing his lips to her forehead, barely touching. “I love you, Elizabeth. You are my everything and I am going to fight harder than anything to come home to you.”
Jamie closed his eyes, trying to suppress the salt water that was threatening to escape. His hands had dropped to her sides and he held her to him like she was the most breakable thing in the world. There had never been anything so difficult in his life as saying goodbye to the woman that stole his heart. Every breath that he drew was filled with her, like the moment she broke away from him he would suffocate. He loved her and now he had to let her go.
Elizabeth looked over towards Jamie as her mother spoke and detected the nerves from him straight away. If she had any way to make him feel less nervous about meeting her mother then she would take his nerves away but the only thing that would help him overcome them was actually talking to her mother so he would know that he had been worried about nothing. It was strange to be on the other side of this situation. She only remembered all too easily how nervous she had been to meet Jamie’s parents but it was not as though their relationship could go very far without either of them meeting the people responsible for their existence.
After a while, the conversation between her mother and Jamie flowed well and it was mostly light conversation that allowed her to learn more about Jamie. While Elizabeth had told her most of this already, it was only polite for her to ask questions and get to know him herself. She could not help but smile at the sight of the two exchanging conversation like there had never been any nerves to begin with. Her mother made it easy for him though, knowing already that Elizabeth was in love with this man and the fact that she trusted her daughter’s judgement implicitly meant she had already accepted him. In this moment, she was happier than she ever had been. Knowing that her mother had met Jamie before she passed was more than she could have hoped for. Perhaps if Jamie turned up a week later, they might not have had that chance, nor would she likely have seen him before he went off to war.
Elizabeth could almost see the energy draining from her mother as she conversed with Jamie but she did not let that stop her. At one point Elizabeth moved around the bed to get her some water and made sure that she drank something before letting her continue. While it was heart-warming to see them together like this, it also broke her heart to know that this would be the first and last time such a meeting would take place. She would not be alive to see the two marry one day, nor would she be there to watch them live a life of happiness together.
Her mother’s tone changed after a while. She moved to sit next to her mother and took her hand as she spoke and when she realised the nature of her words, she looked up towards Jamie. If time could stand still, she was sure that it had then. The two of them looked deeply into each other’s eyes. Her heart quickened and her cheek flushed a light shade of pink as she pulled her gaze away from him as he started to answer her mother. There was an air of sadness in the atmosphere now. They had purposely kept the declaration of war away from her mother. Elizabeth wanted to shelter her from whatever heartache would come with the war and knowing that Jamie was about to go off and fight for their country would only taint the promise he was about to make to his mother.
The entire time that he spoke, she had a smile on her face. He still seemed to think that he did not deserve her and she wondered whether there would ever be a time when she could prove to him that they deserved each other. When he finished talking her mother sank back into the bed. “Jamie…” She whispered his name and touched his arm to get his attention before gesturing towards the door so that they could both leave her in peace. “She gets tired quickly.” She said as they made it to the hallway. “She likes you.” Elizabeth reached out to take her hands in his and spent a few moments looking down at their intertwined fingers before she looked up at him.
“As much as I want you to stay, my father will likely be home in an hour or so. I wanted to thank you for today. It has been the most perfect day.”
Declarations of love could never have meant as much to a person as Elizabeth's words had to Jamie. Before he had the chance to tell her how he too loved her, with a passion that could not be put into words, she kissed him. All the oxygen in the world couldn’t have stopped the breathlessness that was caused by her kisses. If he had been a different man he would have held her to him and never let go. He was, however, a decent man and as much as he needed her he was not about to have her name tarnished or worse, word getting back to her father. So when Elizabeth pulled back and smiled, he willed every muscle in his body to still and not reach out to pull her closer. Instead, he let himself fall into their comfortable conversation, his eyes never leaving her own.
Jamie could feel the nerves settling back into his stomach as they approached the house, its size only adding to the feeling that he was out of his depth. As Elizabeth took his hand he held onto it, focusing on the feel and warmth of her skin against his, the familiar fit of their hands gave him a sense of safety and it was only when she turned to reassure him and kiss his cheek that he finally looked up from their hands. The thoughts and doubts had started to occupy his mind, if Elizabeths mother didn’t like him then it would surely change his loves feelings. He knew that his own parents’ opinion of Elizabeth had meant a great deal to him and whilst it was clear that she had so much to offer a husband, he had little to offer her.
As they entered the room he found Elizabeth letting go of his own hand to take her mothers. Jamie slowly made his way further into the room, his eyes taking in the woman before him. It was clear that Elizabeth took after her mother, the smile she gave her daughter as he was introduced was so familiar, a smile he had seen mirrored on Elizabeth many times. The woman looked frail and evident signs of exhaustion on her face gave him enough evidence that Elizabeth had every right to be worried about the woman’s future.
“I do hope it is good things she has told you, mam. She has spoken so highly of you I admit I’m rather nervous.” He laughed, the words sounding just as tense as he felt. The woman laughed a soft weak sound and motioned for him to move closer. Jamie took a few more steps forward.
The conversation was mainly polite small talk, Elizabeths mother asked about his home, his own parents and how the two had been spending their morning. Jamie was careful to only mention the walk in the park, not wanting to talk about the war or the kisses he had shared with her daughter. After a while a serious expression passed across the womans face, she shifted in her seated position and leaned forward. When she spoke her words held little of the lightness that had before.
“You must promise to look after my Elizabeth, Jamie.” His breath caught in his throat and he looked over to Elizabeth.
He had expected something like this to come up, after all the woman likely knew she would not be around much longer, why wouldn’t she ask for assurance that her daughter was not spending time with a scoundrel.
“I love her mam. I want nothing of my own happiness anymore, everything I do is for her.” Jamie rubbed the back of his neck nervously and went on, his words coming out quicker, the faster he spoke the less time he had to think of how ridiculous he sounded.
“I promise I will do everything I can to provide her with a life she deserves. I know I do not deserve someone so… so wonderful and beautiful but I won’t give her up, not for anything.”
It seemed as his words had been the right ones for the woman sat back and closed her eyes. Whether it was contentment at his answer or tiredness taking over, she did not share her thoughts with him.
Jamie did not seem to hesitate to lower himself to the ground next to her. She shifted herself slightly so that he had more space and the two spent a short time sitting in silence simply enjoying their surroundings. After a while she allowed her eyes to travel back towards him and watched as he pulled her hand up to his lips. She wanted nothing more than for them to stay like this forever. Elizabeth was sure that their future would hold many moments like this for them and the very thought of that brought another smile to her lips. Even though he had teased her only moments ago, she could tell by the tone in his voice that this time he was being completely serious when he spoke towards her.
She listened intently, not once pulling her gaze away from him as he spoke. Her heart seemed to pick up pace slightly at his words. She knew in her heart the he meant every single word and she leaned into his hand as it found her cheek. She swallowed slightly before she started to speak herself.
“Jamie, you have changed my outlook on everything. This last year I have been spending my time pretending to enjoy functions and entertaining Helen’s ridiculous notions of love. All it took was one single evening with a man who completely destroyed every single thought I ever had.” She smiled again let out a quiet laugh before continuing. “I do not think I could envision a future without you now.”
Elizabeth laughed again as he tapped his finger against her forehead. “Well that is good because I do not want to get rid of you.” She let out another sigh and she leaned her forehead against his while making sure that their eyes were connected the entire time. “Jamie, I love you.” Her voice was as low as a whisper now and she brought one of her hands up to his jawline and traced the line of it with her finger before closing her eyes and allowing her lips to connect with his. She made sure that this kiss held every single ounce of love she felt for him. The kiss was sweet and passionate and she was still smiling when she pulled away from him. She did not care if anyone had seen the pair sharing an intimate and as if to prove it she pressed a final gentle kiss against his lips.
The two lost themselves in conversation for some time, keeping the topics light-hearted and completely steering away from the topic of war and their impending separation. After a while she addressed the fact that he had promised to meet her mother. At this point, her father would be at work in a meeting and that would give them the opening that she needed for her to take Jamie back to her home. “I think it is about time that you meet my mother.” She said as she pushed herself up from the ground and dusted herself off. “I promise that you have nothing to worry about.” Elizabeth waited for Jamie to join her on his feet and when he did, she took hold of his arm and started to walk towards the exit of the park. Along the way, she tried her hardest to make him feel better about meeting her mother after detecting the nerves from him.
By the time they arrived, she turned back towards him and reassured him one last time before walking through the door. She was greeted almost instantly by a member of staff who confirmed that her father was no longer in the house and that her mother had been awake for the last thirty minutes. While she didn’t want to rush things, she knew that it was only a matter of time before her mother was too exhausted to hold a conversation. Elizabeth took hold of Jamie’s hand and lead him up the stairs and stopped just outside of her mother’s room. “Just…be yourself.” She said with a smile and kissed him gently on the cheek before opening the door and leading them both into the room. Her mother smiled the moment she walked into the room. Elizabeth let go of Jamie’s hand and went to her mother’s side and took her hands in her own.
“You are looking well. I have someone I would like you to meet.” Elizabeth squeezed her mother’s hands and gestured towards Jamie. “[I This] is Jamie.” She said with a smile, knowing that she did not need any other explanation. Her mother smiled in an instant and sat herself up so that she could look towards him.
“Well, come closer dear. Let me get a good look at you. My daughter has told me so much about you.”
If people had a magnetic force assigned to them, Elizabeth was his polar opposite, causing him to be constantly drawn to her, both physically and emotionally. Though the two had been bought up in different backgrounds, individual childhoods and their own set of morals, by parents who were clearly very unalike, Jamie could not have written on paper a more perfect woman for him if he tried. When she smiled, he smiled. When she laughed, he laughed. When she looked off into the distance, her eyes glazing over as the thoughts that filled her head drew her attention away from him, he wished that he could be in her mind with her, that he could know what she was thinking. Now, as she lowered herself onto the grass, Jamie followed. He had no aversions to dirt and soil, he spent most of his day working with it back home. If she had sat on a pile of glass and looked at him the way she was looking at him then, he would have risked the cuts, just to be next to her.
Elizabeth’s bright eyes scanned the park and Jamie took it as an opportunity to contemplate their conversation. Marriage had always been something the man had been opposed to. A silly notion that silly people believed in. The belief that a contract would tie two people together, solve the problems that occurred in relationships or give a man ownership of another human being. Nothing about marriage had seemed romantic to him, it was a practicality that he would one day have to approach with a forced smile to please those around him. The most he could have hoped for was a wife who was a friend to him, someone who didn’t cause him to want to gouge his eyes out when they spoke as most of the girls in his village did. Instead, he had found a diamond, a woman whose soul was as beautiful as her exterior and his whole world had flipped because of her.
It was different now, Elizabeth had changed the way he saw the future. Jamie wanted to tie himself to her, he wanted to make sure that she owned his heart in every way – including by law. It had taken him his whole life to believe in love but only a single night to find it and as much as he once may have protested to a union, he now wanted nothing more than to start their future together. It may have seemed hasty and if you had asked him months ago to marry a woman this quickly, he would have laughed till he couldn’t breathe. He knew marriage was something other than a legal contract, he had experienced love and it was only the start. To top it all off, he could not stomach the thought of her marrying another. Knowing that he would soon have to leave her for a few months was heart wrenching enough, he didn’t need to now have paranoid thoughts swimming in his head. He would keep holding out for the desperate hope that she would wait for him.
Jamie let his thoughts simmer away, he would have time to overthink things in the next coming months, now was not the time. When Elizabeth let out a small sigh he drew his full attention back to her. She was sat so close to him and yet he wanted nothing more than to pull her closer so that he could remember the feel of her skin against his. Jamie looked down at his hand, still holding hers and bought it up to his lips, placing a quick kiss on her wrist.
“Speaking of rushed decisions.” He started, his fingers gently brushing against hers as he carefully chose his next words. “I know that I may have given the impression before that I did not believe in love or marriage, that has changed. I want you to understand Elizabeth, that when I said I will not be leaving your side once I return, I meant it fully.” Jamie smiled and used his free hand to softly touch her cheek.
His smile grew after a moment and he playfully tapped his finger against her forehead.
“You’ll never be able to rid yourself of me. My parents have been trying for many, many years and they just can’t shake me.” As if to prove a point, he gave a small squeeze on her hand and laughed. Serious words with serious meanings quickly flipped on his head to a light-hearted joke. It was a defence mechanism that he was using to shield his heart, but Jamie knew and he suspected Elizabeth knew too, that leaving her once for war would be hard, leaving her twice… well, that would just be impossible.
In her mind, she could see no other life for them other than a settled life in the country. Perhaps they might even live on the farm with his parents or even live close by so that Jamie could still help run the farm with his father. Her lips curled up into a smile at the thought of it. She was sure that they would have a nice home, one that was much more modest than the large town house she lived in now. They would likely have a garden for them to spend their summer days in. She often enjoyed picnics and spending her afternoons with a good book in the sun and she looked forward to having someone to enjoy those moments with. Until now, she had always enjoyed spending that time alone as it took her away from the lifestyle she detested and now she just wanted to fill all of her time making memories with Jamie and she was not about to waste that time now. After all, their time together was precious now. Perhaps upon Jamie’s return, they would not even hesitate to escape to the country and live out the rest of their lives in the solitude it offered them.
As Jamie spoke about his parents she could not hide the humour from her expression. Despite what Jamie seemed to think about the way his parents acted towards her upon their first meeting, she adored them both and had no concern for their comments. Elizabeth saw the jest in them and knew that they would likely tease them both whenever they could. After all, Jamie had a very similar quality in that respect. She thought for a moment, wondering if it would be possible, or at all appropriate for her to visit his parents while he was away fighting for their country. If they truly had every intention of waiting for each other, she could not see the harm in wanting to get to know his parents better and she thought it might help bring her closer to Jamie while the distance between them would be more than she could possibly bare. Elizabeth let out a laugh with Jamie before he continued to speak again.
This time he brought up something that neither of them had talked about yet. Their relationship was still so new that she did not dare to bring up the subject of marriage but there was no doubt in her mind that her relationship with him would evolve into a marriage one day so when he mentioned it, she only flinched slightly. More than anything, she was shocked that he had brought it up. She had remembered how uncomfortable he had seemed when his parents had commented on their futures, so she thought that she might have to wait a long time before she heard him talk about such things. She met his gaze for a moment, no longer dwelling on the initial shock and laughed as he buried his head in his hands.
“Jamie, your parents are wonderful. While it may be a disaster the day our parents meet, it will not change the way I feel about you, nor will it affect our marriage.” It sounded slightly strange for her to utter such words, especially since she had always been so sure that marriage was one of the traditions that she would never follow through with. Yet stood here now with Jamie, she finally understood what other women felt. She could not help but wonder how much hassle his parents had been giving him over the last few weeks. She was sure that they would often question him and tease him about his relationship with Elizabeth and she found humour in that too. Elizabeth laughed to herself again as she pulled her gaze away from his to take in the sights around then for a moment. She had always enjoyed this park but having someone to share it with seemed to increase the beauty around them.
It was not until Jamie spoke again that she allowed her eyes to travel back to his. There was a seriousness with his expression that seemed to match his tone and for a moment she found herself confused about what important decision it was that she had to make. Considering the topic of their most recent conversation it did cross her mind that this might be linked in some way and it did cause her heart rate to quicken ever so slightly. A million thoughts went through her mind in that moment but she did not let it show upon her face. Instead she nodded and waited for him to explain what he meant. As he told her to think very carefully she let a nervous smile play upon her lips. There was something about his expression that seemed off but she could not quite figure out what it was until his pretence broke and she found herself laughing with him. She gently nudged her shoulder against his arm and shook her head.
“You had me for a minute there.” She said with a smile and looked down at the ground so that she could compose herself once more. “Now, this is a hard decision so you will need to give me some more time to think about it. It is not something I can simply rush in to Jamie, I hope you understand.” Elizabeth looked towards Jamie’s smiling face once more and found herself falling in love with him all over again, realising the intent behind his teasing. She squeezed his hand and gestured towards the tree. “Let’s go and sit. I know it may seem like I rushed my decision but I know what I want.” Elizabeth pulled gently on his hand, leading him towards the spot he had pointed out and lowered herself to the ground easily, not worrying about whether the ground might dirty her dress. “This is a good spot. You chose well.”
She let out a content sigh and looked around to see that the park was still rather quiet for this time of day. Usually it would be full of couples and families but instead there were only a couple of people wondering the park. Perhaps they had not yet heard the news and she found herself slightly jealous that they could not hold on to that blissful ignorance for even a moment longer. It did not matter now, they would not dwell on it today. Nothing would ruin her time with him.
Only that morning Jamie had felt like the world was theirs. The anxiety of surprising Elizabeth by turning up at her door had been his biggest worry, and still, after all, they had endured that morning, he did not regret visiting her. He couldn’t have imagined that the days' events would unfold as they did. Now as they walked through the park, the sun shining through the trees, he wished he could rewrite fate, just to give them an extra week or day, hell, he would take an extra hour to be with her before everything had changed. If things weren’t moving so quickly he would have prepared properly to meet her mother. How did he get ready to meet someone who was likely to have left the earth by the time he returned from war?
Jamie knew that Elizabeth adored her mother, that much was clear, and he was in no doubt that her mother adored Elizabeth. He took comfort in her words, hoping that her mother really would like him. Their meeting was important to Elizabeth and that meant it was important to him. He was broken from his worries when he felt her eyes on his face. Jamie turned to look at her and couldn’t help the smile that formed on his lips. She was looking at him with a new intensity, and as the pretty pink blush that was so familiar on her face spread across her cheeks, Jamie felt his own face warming. When she spoke of the country and how she missed it, he felt his heart tighten. How perfect it would have been to take her back to the country, they could spend their days, just the two of them, ignoring the world around them. Jamie wanted nothing more than that.
“We can go to the country anytime you want. I’m sure my parents would be thrilled to see you often.” Jamie said, frowning slightly as his words left his mouth, the memories of how his parents had acted when they met Elizabeth play over his mind. “Though on second thought, I’m not sure exposing you to my parents would be good for you, or me for that matter.” Jamie let the frown slip from his face and let out a small laugh. His parents really did mean well and he hoped that Elizabeth had seen through their forwardness and inappropriate comments.
“When we’re married they will have to meet your parents, oh lord, Elizabeth it’s going to be a disaster.” Jamie dramatically buried his head in his hands and groaned. It was typical, his parents had never been overbearing with him until he met Elizabeth, then it was constant talk to marriage and children and grandchildren. He couldn’t imagine that the man Elizabeth described as her father would warm to people like his parents.
Jamie dropped his hands and looked at Elizabeth, a feigned seriousness on his face.
“My love, you have a very important decision to make.” He paused, enjoying the look on Elizabeths face. He was, of course, only teasing her. There was a real fear for what would happen when they got married, his parents and hers would surely clash, but they only had to keep it together for a few days and then the two could go back to their secluded far. But that was a while off and Jamie liked teasing Elizabeth, her ability to take it without getting offended was another reason her adored her so much.
“Now, I want you to think very carefully before you answer me.” He said and looked at her, trying to hide the smile that was bursting to break free. “Would you like to stop for tea, or shall we go and sit by that tree.” He said, his voice suddenly light and carefree compared to the pretend serious tone he had been speaking in before.
Jamie couldn’t hold his laughter in any longer, whilst he knew it could have been construed as cruel to tease Elizabeth, he had needed to do something to bring them back to their usual way of being together. The morning had cast a dark shadow over the couple and he knew that if he could do anything to take away the uncomfortable fear that lingered, then he would do it.
As much as Elizabeth tried to push aside her emotions, she found it extremely difficult to do so. They had promised that they would focus positive things and start to make memories but every thought led her back to the fact that a war threatened to rip them apart before they even got the chance to figure out what their lives might be like together. Even though they could both assume Jamie would arrive home safely, in truth there was no guarantee that would happen at all. She willed the thoughts from her mind and looked towards him as he pressed a kiss to her forehead. These were the moments she would miss and although she had grown used to the distance and the time between their visits, she had hoped that things would start to change. She did not expect that they would change like [I this.]
Elizabeth knew that her request of him would likely put a lot of pressure on him and she wished that she had not done so but she truly believed this would be the first and last time they would ever get for Jamie to meet the other important person in her life. Soon Jamie would be the only person that she could rely on and he would be fighting in another country to defend the honour of their own. Very soon, her world could be become a lonely place. She was sure that the smile she offered to him echoed her sadness and she wished that she could do more to hide it but she had never been very good at hiding her emotions.
When he agree to meet her mother, she was sure that her true happiness shone through her sad smile for a moment. She understood that this was something that Jamie would find unnerving, mostly because she had felt the same upon meeting his parents. He would be overthinking everything, much like she had and she knew that he would probably put a lot of pressure on himself because of their difference in status. Her mother would not care about that. She would only need to take one look at him and the way that he looked at her daughter for her to approve of their relationship. It was so obvious that Jamie cared deeply for her.
“I think you will find that all your worries were for nothing when you do meet her. She will love you as much as I do. That much I can promise you.” She wanted nothing more than to offer him some kind of reassurance but all she could do was squeeze his hand affectionately to reaffirm what she was saying. With that, they started to walk in the direction of the park, knowing that Jamie’s concerns could only be subsided the moment he actually met her mother. For some minutes, they remained in silence as they walked towards their destination, both seemingly lost in thought. Jamie broke the silence that had fallen between them. At first, she found herself to be confused by his words. Right about what exactly? Her brows knotted as she looked towards him, waiting for some kind of explanation that would allow her to understand.
When he spoke again, she allowed her eyes to meet his and when he smiled, she could not help but return it. If anything, Elizabeth was glad that he seemed to share her thoughts. For her, she felt as though she knew that they were perfect for each other the moment she recognised the fact that he was not like other men. He did not seem to have an inflated ego, nor did he try too hard to impress her. In fact, he had not tried at all, yet still he seemed to be successful at winning her affections. The way that he made her promise to dance at Helen’s wedding, even though they had both admitted neither of them had a liking for it; the way he kissed her near the tree outside of the reception; the way he tried to protect her from the rain the very first day they met; all of it contributed to her deep-set belief that they truly were made for each other.
They shared a look for a moment before he finally pulled his gaze away to take in the park. Neither one of them had realised they had arrived until that point and while she would normally so the same, she had seen the park so many times that she preferred to watch his face and see his reaction to it. She traced every single line upon his face with her eyes and committed every single detail to her memory so that she would not forget what he looked like in this moment. She smiled to herself as she watched him, thinking about all the times she had watched him without him really knowing and played back some of the memories in her mind as they continued to walk. Perhaps they would help her get through the next few months without him.
Elizabeth still held on to his hand tightly, not really wanting to let go anytime soon and when he comment on their surroundings, he met her gaze again. Her cheeks blushed with the complement and she chuckled to herself quietly as she took a moment to look away from him. “I’m sure there is plenty more that you have missed in this town. Although I do not think it can possibly compare to the country. I have grown to miss the seclusion and the peace it offered. Somehow, the town seems much too busy now.” She thought for a moment and smiled when he spoke of his return. “I think I would rather like to return to the country when you are back but you are right, there is so much that we can do together when that happens.”
Jamie knew his heart was breaking, every tear that fell onto her cheeks and every forced smile was causing the pressure on his chest to increase. Leaving her was going to hurt. Not just the emotional pain, but as he stood there, his hand pressed to her back, the smell of her hair as he placed a quick kiss on her forehead, he realised he was drawn to her with every movement and each second he wasn’t touching her was agonising. How was it that such an independent man had come to rely on closeness so much in such a short time? Jamie looked down at her hand in his and pushed the rising emotions back down, now was not the time to dwell on how difficult it was going to be to leave her again, now was the time to create memories that would get him through the next few months.
Her words filled his ears and as let them turn over in his head, he bit down on the insides of his cheeks. Meet her mother? It shouldn’t have scared him as it did, after all, Elizabeth had already met both his parents. The difference being, if her mother didn’t like him, it would change things. It was obvious that Elizabeth adored her mother and being as sick as she was, her opinion of Jamie would leave a lasting impression upon his dearests heart.
“I would love to meet your mother.” He said, knowing that the hesitation in his voice was clearer than he intended. “I do hope she likes me. Your father disliking me I can handle, your mother is a different story” His words were quieter this time and he hoped that Elizabeth didn’t take his concerns for disinterest. He really did want to meet the women who had raised such a wonderful, beautiful soul.
Deciding that her offer of walking in the park was exactly what they needed, Jamie kept her hand wrapped in his own and started walking.
After a few moments of silence, Jamie suddenly spoke again “I think you’re right.” Her words had been circling his head whilst they walked. Were they made for each other? Jamie had never felt this way before, about anything. Elizabeth bought out things in him he didn’t know existed. He wanted to protect her from threats that weren’t there. He needed to make her smile because somehow her happiness had become his priority. Elizabeth was smart and witty, she cared about things and that made Jamie also care, her laugh was infectious and caused his heart race every time she blushed. She was everything he could have asked for and she cared about him.
“I think we were made for each other. I may not believe in much, but I can believe that.” When he looked down at her face, those pretty eyes were looking at him. His heart jumped and his mouth broke into a smile.
Jamie looked away from her gaze to take in their surroundings. They were at the park, though he could not remember how they got there. As they started to walk he thought back to the first time they had met, walking in the gardens to avoid having to dance. Had he known that night that she would change his entire life? He had gone to that party as a favour to his cousin. His biggest hopes upon arriving had been drinking in silence in a quiet corner, now he was voluntarily walking in public with a woman he had given his heart to that night. Was it how she openly voiced her dislike for dancing or how she innocently asked him to walk with her alone? Maybe it was how she had called him Mr Emerson and for the first time in his life, the name hadn’t made him feel uncomfortable. It didn’t matter really how it happened, but quickly she had stolen his heart.
“It’s beautiful here.” He said drawing his eyes back to the women at his side. “Although it doesn’t compare to you in the slightest.” His words were light and playful and although they were true, he wanted to keep the mood light and not smother her with his overwhelming emotions.
“It’s strange, but I’ve never actually been here before.” He said, continuing his dialogue as they walked. “My cousin may live here but I’ve never ventured into town willingly other than to chaperone her. When I’m back we will do things that don’t involve just walking outside.” Jamie said. He should take her out properly when he returned, it would be much easier when her father accepted
She had not intended for the kiss to take place in public where they might be seen but in that moment, she did not seem to care for the opinions of others. The two of them knew that they probably should not be doing this but as the seconds passed neither one of them seemed able to pull away from the other. She no longer had any coherent thoughts and as Jamie’s hand pressed against her back, her breath caught in her throat. Elizabeth could not tell whether that was because of the feel of Jamie’s hands touching her or whether it was because her need to cry grew more urgent as their kiss progressed. It took all her energy to hold back the tears even as they parted. Her cheeks were flushed their usual shade of pink and her breathing had quickened but they were just signs of her inability to control her emotions in that moment.
She pulled her gaze away from Jamie’s as they parted and lifted her hand to wipe at the tears that had started to fall down her cheek and she inhaled deeply with the intention of calming whatever emotions had come over her. Today was not supposed to be like this. She thought that from the moment he turned up on her doorstep, she was being granted a day free from the sorrow that her mother’s illness had brought her. Instead, there was a new reason to be sorrowful and with every passing moment of silence she knew that it was unlikely that Jamie could promise her anything close to her request. She knew that it was unfair of her to ask him to promise to come home to her, especially when they could not predict how long the war would go on for or what horrors it might entail. Elizabeth almost apologised and took back her words but she was unable to speak as her eyes travelled back to his. They were so full of emotion and she understood that this was equally hard for him.
When he finally spoke, he brought his hand to her cheek and she leaned into it, letting a sad smile dance across her lips in the process. She was sure that his voice was about to break but he managed to swallow the emotion that threatened to surface. Elizabeth smiled and shook her head. Even though they had not spent a huge amount of time together since the day they met, she already knew that it was impossible for her to ever grow tired of his company. In fact, she wanted nothing more than to tell him that she was sure she could never be happy without him by her side but that would not help either of them. He had to leave to fight for their country and they both had to accept that fact.
“Jamie, when will you begin to understand that we are made for each other? There is no [I deserving] of each other. However, I do not see how my father could have any quarrels with my love for you when you return home. I still do not want to see this war as a blessing though.” She smiled towards him and in that moment, they both understood that they could no longer waste their day worrying about the news that had shattered their mood. Instead, they needed to make sure that they did not waste a single second. They should be making happy memories together so when they needed something to help them through their time apart, they could look back on this day with nothing but love and happiness.
Elizabeth inhaled once more and brought her hand to her face to wipe away any evidence that she had shed some tears before Jamie changed the subject. In honesty, she was not sure what she wanted to do with her day but she knew that she wanted at least one thing to happen before Jamie left. “I think we should go for a walk around the park for a while.” She said, not really knowing what else to suggest now. Their day had been so full of possibilities before. She felt nervous about her next suggestion because it meant so much to her but it was the one thing she [I needed], knowing that there would not be another opportunity. “Would you please come home to meet my mother later?” She asked shyly before offering more to her explanation. “My father has a meeting this afternoon and will be gone for several hours and I think it would break her heart to know that you were here and she missed the chance to meet you. I do not think there will be another opportunity now and I want her to know you before…” She trailed off then, knowing that she did not need to finish her sentence for him to understand what she meant.
Jamie let his brown eyes wash over her, trying to scrutinise her expression to assess how she was feeling. The worry was clear on her pretty face but he was unsure if it was the worry for the future of their relationship or worry about the war. Either way, it did not matter, it was his duty as someone who loved her to put that concern to rest, as much as he could. Her words were wary Jamie soon realised that she really did take a bigger interest in politics than he did, maybe even more so than his father. Her knowledge was not comforting at this time but he understood that it was better, to tell the truth than to speak pretty falsehoods. If she had been the kind of women to smile and say that everything was going to be fine, she would not be the women he loved. Elizabeth was smart and honest and it was one of the reasons he admired her.
Before he had a chance to open his mouth to speak, she reached up and kissed him. Jamie knew he should have pulled away. They were in public and he had a responsibility to not ruin her reputation but the moment that they touched his resolve broke and he could think of nothing but her. Tears stung the backs of his eyes and he placed his hand on the small of her back and pulled her closer, wanting to remember these moments with her forever. Could he promise to come home? Did he have that power to make a promise like that? Jamie had never thought of dying seriously, and why would he? He was young and up until today he had always imagined living a long life on the farm.
Pulling back slightly, Jamie blinked back any threat of tears and looked at Elizabeth’s face. If he could just pause time, he would. Just to stay in this moment with her. She was the sun and being around her made the skies brighter and the grass greener. It was a sappy sentiment but to Jamie it was true. They could have been stood in a wasteland, in each other’s arms, and he would have still thought it the most perfect place, just because she was in it with him.
As a child, he had been taught never to lie. His parents were honest people – sometimes too honest- and Jamie had always tried to follow in their footsteps. Though he would playfully make up stories, exaggerate to invoke his charm and more than once told his parents he was working when he was bunking off with friends, he did not lie. Jamie swore his next words would be the only lie he ever told Elizabeth, but it was a white lie, a small thing to take her worries away.
“I promise, no matter what they throw at us, I will pull through and the moment I am home, I will be standing at your door.” Jamie brushed her cheek softly and swallowed the emotion in his throat.
“I will be home before you know it, and then I will never leave. You’ll be sick of me.” He forced a laugh and took her hand, giving it a squeeze.
“The bright side to this is that your father wouldn’t be able to turn me down when I return a huge war hero. Maybe, I should singlehandedly win this war, maybe then I will deserve you. “ Behind his words, he could hear the commotion of people still happening, people had passed them and though it had seemed like time had stood still, it hadn’t and Jamie was aware that this would be all their time together for a while. Straightening up he looked around for just a moment before looking back to Elizabeth.
“What would you like to do? Anything you want. We can go anywhere, I want you to remember today with some happy memories, not just the news.” He gave her his brightest smile and wished he had the power to reverse time so that he could start the day again, avoiding the news until a later time. No matter how much they enjoyed their day the war would be lurking at the back of their minds. Thoughts of not coming home, or experiencing things that could change him. Thoughts of losing Elizabeth, of her finding someone else or not wanting to wait. Things he did not want to think and desired with all his heart that he could shut the anxiety out.
The only benefit of hearing the news with Elizabeth was now knowing that this time was precious. If he had not travelled to see her, he would have found out at home and most likely would not have had the time to travel to see her one last time before leaving. If the war lasted a few months or if it lasted the rest of his life, he would have today with her and that was more than he deserved
Everyone else around them seemed to blur into the background. She could no longer hear the conversations of others, nor could she see anyone else in that moment. Elizabeth wanted nothing more than to make the rest of the world disappear so that they were alone. She wanted him to take her in his arms so that she could commit the feel of his body against her to her mind. Elizabeth continued to bite on the inside of her lip until she had pierced the skin, encouraging her to release it. If they were anywhere other than then centre of town she might have kissed him with the desperation she felt to keep in her life. She knew deep down, that she could cope with a few months without him if she knew that he was alive and loving her.
When he spoke again, his voice seemed to echo the broken feeling that had found the two of them in the last few minutes. He avoided her gaze and she understood why he did it. Elizabeth was so sure that she would have broken down any minute but still she managed to hold herself together for him. It wasn’t until his hand found her cheek that their eyes found each other again. Normally she would find his touch intoxicating but this time it felt different. She wanted every touch to last a lifetime. If she could freeze time she would have; Anything to prolong the short time they had together. That morning, they thought that they would see each other again in a few weeks but even if neither of them wanted to admit it, it could realistically be months or even years before he would come home to her again. She did not want to think about what might happen if he did not return. Elizabeth knew that she wouldn’t be able to go on if that were the case.
Jamie needed to know if she would wait for him and as her lips parted to speak he seemed to stop her. It saddened her to think that he thought that she might not do exactly that but she pursed her lips and nodded when he told her that she should tell him later. He was right about the fact that they should try to enjoy their day together as much as possible, more so now that he would be leaving to fight for their country. As she inhaled, her breathing seemed a little broken for the heartbreak she felt but she managed to pull herself together for him. She didn’t want to spend the rest of their day sad about something that neither of them had any control over.
She watched his hand move from her shoulder down to her hand and he tugged on it gently to encourage her to follow him through the crowds of people who seemed to blur back into her vision. She obliged and stayed close to him, not wanting to be apart from him for even a second. Soon enough they cleared the busy square and found themselves in a much quieter part of town. As she looked around she could not see a single soul. Knowing that most people had probably heard the news by now, she was sure that they were at home with their loved ones. Having Jamie’s lips pressed against her hand pulled her out of her thoughts. She did not really know how to answer his question and she gave herself a minute to contemplate her response as they allowed their feet to carry them forwards.
She wanted to believe that the war would be over in months but she was unsure of their resources compared to Germany. While it was true that Britain had allies and an empire to support them through the time of war, Germany had an empire and a military that would certainly stand up against others. While she did not pretend that she understood politics and international relations, but she had read enough to know that this war would not be an easy one to win.
“I’m disappointed that we live in a world where war seems to be necessary to live in peace.” She said simply, not wanting to lie and tell him that she was fine and that she was not doubting that Britain had a fighting chance. “I thought we might have longer before we inserted ourselves into the war but I suppose alliances and treaties had to come into action at some point and if Germany had tried to include Belgium in this war, then it really was inevitable after all.” Elizabeth sighed and watched Jamie try to force and smile, wondering whether he really believed what he was saying. She looked around once more, to see if there were any spectators to their morning endeavours and when she was satisfied they were alone, she pulled on his hand to stop him from walking anymore.
Elizabeth swallowed the sorrow that had surfaced and brought her hand up to his face. “Promise me that you will come home to me?” She did not wait for his answer before closing the distance between their lips, no longer caring about the fact that they were in public. She needed him to know that there was nothing that would break them apart and she hoped that this would be enough to let him know that she would wait for him a lifetime so long as he came home to her.
Elizabeth had spoken but her words did not register in his mind. He was too busy looking at her face, trying to burn the sight of her into his mind so that he would not forget for even a moment how beautiful she was. Her eyes, her hair, her lips, everything in that moment seemed to matter more than the air he breathed. If he was another man, he might have considered staying. Their relationship and her love for him meant more than anything in the world, but Jamie was nothing if not loyal to his country. He looked down at her hands then, so delicately holding his own. She knew. She had read the paper and seen the look on his face. The words she had spoken were true. He was going to fight.
“I will not be gone long.” He said, his voice barely a whisper over the crowd. He was sure that if he looked at her face again he would cry. The tears in her eyes had not gone unnoticed and for a long second, he stood there staring at her hands. The commotion around him continued but to Jamie, they were the only two in the world. His thoughts wandered for a split second, the dark ideas of war threatening to fill his brain with fear. If he died, this would be the last memory she had of him. Jamie shook his head as if to shake the thoughts from his mind and looking up at her, removed his hand from her own and placed it against her cheek.
If she asked him to stay, he would have. If she said she could not wait for him then he would not go. However, he knew that she understood him, his soul, and this was something he needed to do or else he would never forgive himself. If the war hit his home and his mother, father, friends or, god forbid, Elizabeth was hurt because of it, he would forever blame himself. That morning he had wanted to become a man she would be proud to marry, one her father could never turn down. Fighting for England would make him that man.
“It is selfish of me to think you would wait, our time apart is already too much to endure. However, if you do wait for me, I promise the moment I am home I will not leave your side for a single day.” He said, dropping his hand from her face to her shoulder. The tears now stung his eyes and he was not sure how he could continue keeping it together.
He reprimanded himself silently for all the times he thought about fighting, all the times growing up as a young boy he had pretended to be a soldier, a knight. For now, it was in front of him and it had come at the worst time possible when he finally had something in his life that was worth fighting for, that he was possibly going to lose. To lose Elizabeth would hurt more than any battle wound. Before Elizabeth could speak Jamie spoke up again.
“Don’t tell me now, we have the rest of the day together. We should enjoy it as much as we can. I want to be with you as much as possible before I have to return home.”
Jamie took her hand again and steered her through the crowd until they were, once again, apart from it. He kept his grip on her hand, not ready to let go of her. If he was to give her up for a few months then he should be allowed one day with her, at least.
He looked at the expression on her face and realised that since the moment he had read the headlines he had been thinking about himself. He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it gently.
“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” Jamie wished that he could hear her thoughts, if she was scared or worried, if she had seen this coming or had it been a complete shock to her, like it had to him? “Everything will be fine, England is a powerful country. This will all be over in a matter of months.” He said, forcing himself to smile at her. He believed his words in part, that it would be over in a few months. However, those months would possibly prove to be the hardest of his life.
Elizabeth could only hear a few of the words that were being thrown around in the chaos. She had no doubt in her mind that her worst fears were about to be confirmed. Her eyes darted around the crowds of people, reading the different expressions upon their faces. Some of the men were smiling and laughing, throwing their arms around their comrades. Other men looked worriedly towards the woman in their life. Those women exhibited the same expression she would echo herself when she finally read the article. Elizabeth felt her heart rate quicken as the anticipation built up inside of her. Part of her wished that they have chosen to avoid town that morning.
Jamie took hold of her hand, gripping her tightly as they made their way through the crowd towards the newsstand where they might be able to get a better view of what the papers were saying. At this point she was sure that neither of them needed to read the headlines to know what happened. She had known the moment she had heard of the Archduke’s assassination that Britain would insert themselves into the affairs of Europe. Germany had been applying pressure to France and she knew that it was only a matter of time before Britain went to their aid. With every footstep she became filled with even more dread. She was so lost in concern that she almost bumped into Jamie when he stopped and she quickly put her hand onto his shoulder to stop her body from colliding with his.
Reading the headline only made it real. Her throat began to close up and the butterflies in her stomach erupted with anxiety rather than with the usual pleasure of Jamie’s company. She watched as he took the paper from another’s hand. Now was not the time for manners and etiquette and no one else seemed to care. She tried to read the expression on his face as he read over the words but the emotions were unclear. As Elizabeth stood there, it felt as though she had been waiting a lifetime for him to say anything to her. When he said her name he held out the paper and she reached out for it with apprehension, unsure that she wanted to read anything that had been printed in the paper.
Her eyes started to scan the page and the mix of excitement and sorrow amongst the crowd suddenly became clear. She was overcome with conflicting emotions, knowing that this could likely force the two apart. Elizabeth was concerned that this would be the last time she would ever see Jamie and she couldn’t bring herself to look up at him yet. Her eyes remained on the paper as different thoughts began to race through her mind. She was no longer reading it but she would have done anything to avoid seeing that look on his face; the look that told her he would likely leave to fight for his country. As a woman, she found it difficult to understand the sense of pride that a man felt the moment a war had been announced but she could not be selfish at a time like this.
She inhaled deeply, trying to calm her mind. They had barely even established a relationship and now this war threatened to take him away from her. The distance between his small country home and her town was already too far and knowing that he would be transported to the front lines meant that the distance would be greater and although they thought the war would be over by Christmas, she was not sure if their new relationship could survive that. It would not be for lack of trying. She would not turn her back on him simply because he wanted to fight for his country but there was always the risk that war would prevent him from returning home to her. Suddenly the joke he had made about death parting them no longer seemed so funny. It was a harsh reality that they both faced now.
Soon enough she worked up the courage to look up at him, her eyes locking with his. Tears threatened the corner of her eyes and she could barely find the words to talk to him. She allowed the paper to fall to the ground and stepped towards him, taking both of his hands in her own. For a moment she looked down at them and tried to commit the feel of them to her mind. Elizabeth no longer cared about the crowds around them and she was sure that they would not be paying much attention to one couple standing amongst the many who were attempting to exchange their concern and their affection. No one really knew how long they had left together or how soon they would start to ship out troops. She bit her lip to hold back her tears and allowed her eyes to find his again.
“You are going to fight.” She said simply. It wasn’t really a question because they both knew that it was an unspoken truth that hung between them. Jamie was the kind of man that wanted to protect what was his and he would consider fighting for his country to protect his land and his family and she could not begrudge him for that. It did not mean that she had to like it but she would accept it.
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