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[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow was not so surprised by Anastasia’s decision to dine with Jobe’s mother. She had grown in strength from the time they had originally met and she was beginning to behave as though she were a lady not a servant. Although Willow did wonder how the woman would be able to adjust to life as Jobe’s wife. She would not be permitted in the kitchens or to clean and do her normal duties. The thought of Anastasia losing her mind over not being able to lift a hand made her laugh quietly to herself.
At least the two of them would be adjusting to their new lives together. Willow needed to find something to do with her time or she was sure she would go mad. She could not simply sit around the house and write all day, especially since she had been so used to a busy life in modern London.
She knew what lay ahead for Anastasia of course. She would become very active in Jobe’s attempts to reform things socially. She would spend some time at the factory as well as staying by Jobe’s side when he begins to campaign to change the conditions of the workhouse. Anastasia would go on to become quite an inspirational woman. Yet Willow had to learn to adjust and start over, becoming an insignificant being in a history that she could not change.
She was glad when Justin suggested that they should get some rest because now she knew that she had a lot of thinking to do. [b “Of course I will help you look your best. Anything for you.”] She said with a smile as she rose from her position on the floor to take Justin’s arm. As she bid goodnight to their friends she started to make her way out of the room and up the stairs with Justin. [b “ We have some very busy times ahead.”]
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe was equally impressed with Anastasia‘s approach to the situation. Justin was right when he said that Willow’s influence upon Anastasia was having a positive effect on her confidence. If he would’ve asked Anastasia to marry him a month ago, he was sure she would have said no and there would be no conversation about telling his mother about the news.
No matter what his mother said he would not change his mind. She had no power over the business or the will his father had left and there was no clause about who he should marry. However, he hoped that the woman would be accepting because he loved his mother and he loved Anastasia. He would hate to lose one over the other.
[b “Quite right. We should all get some rest.”] He helped Anastasia to her feet and nodded his head towards Justin and Willow before they left the room. [b “I truly cannot wait to call you my wife.”]
Anastasia had to think very carefully. She looked to Willow and smiled gratefully.
“You’re right.” She looked to Jobe.
“You are going to be my husband, therefore we should share every burden equally. Perhaps if your mother met me properly she might change her tune.” She remarked and nodded to them.
“Justin and Willow would give a welcome distraction too, if anything becomes too much then Willow can make an excuse, and relieve me of the situation by taking me elsewhere.” She explained but Anastasia wanted to be strong for Jobe and be the wife he so desperately deserved in this life. She looked to Willow, hoping that suited her too because she knew the woman could be outspoken.
“That is my decision on the matter.” She said to them with a nod.
“Willow- tomorrow, would you help me look my best for Jobe’s mother?” She asked quietly.
Justin watched and smiled a little.
“That’s that, then.” He remarked quietly and looked to Anastasia.
“It seems you’re gaining strength from Willow.” He remarked and looked to Jobe.
“And we are happy to serve as distraction should things go more south. Sometimes if there’s an audience, others may well be a lot calmer.” Hopefully the presence of guests would put his mother off being too hurtful or too harsh. At least, he hoped so.
“It’s been a very eventful day and I think tomorrow will also be. We should all get some rest, in preparation.” He said to them and looked to Anastasia,
“You especially, you’re still fully recovered.” He said to quell any protests she might have as he held out his arm to Willow to escort her upstairs.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow smiled happily, knowing that she had made the woman feel good in some way. It was not hard to be a nice person but Willow had always been told that she could be quite inspiring when she wanted to be and she like to think that would come in useful here since they were stuck. Regardless, she had her brains and Anastasia to help her navigate things as they came up.
While she enjoyed spending some alone time with Anastasia, she was quite happy to see the men return, mostly because it meant she could see Justin and ever since they shared a kiss it was as though she missed him when he was not there. It was silly really but she didn’t mind feeling like a teenager again.
Willow looked to Anastasia when Justin told them of their conversation and she wondered what the woman would decide. [b “It is your choice and no matter what you decide we will all support you and be there for you.”]
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe laughed when Justin spoke of his ‘flings’ but he was not about to judge him for a time he had not been a part of. It is was normal behavior to partake in casual sex then it was their normal. He did not need to understand it. He was grateful that Justin broke the news to Anastasia about his mother and it was probably best that it was done in a way that showed she would get as much support as she needed.
[b “If you want me to speak to my mother alone then I am more than happy to do that but I want the decision to be yours. I am going to be your husband but I will not be making your decisions for you Anastasia. I want you to have a choice.”]
Anastasia smiled to Willow.
“You have a compliment for every person. It’s outstanding how you can be such a good person.” She commented as she hugged the woman back tightly and looked to the men. She felt Jobe’s kiss and nodded.
“No matter. I don’t think we even noticed your absence.” Anastasia joked as she looked to Willow with a broad smile. It was so refreshing to have another female close by that she could rely on. Justin was a very lucky man.
“And what have you two fine gentlemen been speaking about?” She asked them both, she could only imagine talks of Justin and Willow had transpired at some point.
Anastasia fixed some of her hair and listened to Justin. She looked slightly bewildered and absolutely nervous at the prospect of his mother coming to dinner. She supposed the woman had to know of her sons engagement but that didn’t make the woman any less frightening.
Justin thought for a moment.
“A few. Uh, flings if you would call it that. When I was training in science, we would drink and things would lead on.” He remarked and looked over as he walked with Jobe and smiled to Willow.
“Oh, just the usual.” He commented to what they had spoken about.
“And Jobe will be inviting his mother for dinner, to break the news of the engagement. We were talking and thought it best to ask you two ladies if you want to be present or not?” He looked between them.
“From what I have heard she may be disapproving and put her voice to it. It’s understandable if you wish to make other arrangements. But you will have to face her some time.” Justin murmured.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow laughed, realizing that her expression would not be properly understood and she started to explain. [b “It’s just a modern expression…it means that women here were seen as only useful for having children and nothing else. Although I am sure Jobe does not see you in that way.”] Willow smiled at the woman as she thought about children and how much time they had to think about such things. She knew about the traditions of the time so she did not seem surprised by the revelation.
Willow’s eyes lit up and she smiled towards her with another wave of excitement. [b “Anastasia I would be more than honored to help you choose a dress. I will personally make sure that you are the most beautiful bride to grace this town.”] She said as she pulled the woman into another embrace.
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe nodded. He had decided that he would let Anastasia make decisions for herself. The last thing he wanted to become was a controlling husband who did not let their wives have an opinion. No. He wanted his wife to have as much freedom as she wanted and deserved.
[b “Well, that’s certainly and interesting development. Have you shared your bed with a woman before?”] He asked, mostly out of intrigue. He could never imagine being with another woman. [b “It’s an interesting time, one that is not without their hardships but I do not think I would want to be anywhere else. Who knows? Maybe the two of you were always supposed to be here.”] He said with a shrug of the shoulders as they entered the room with Willow and Anastasia once more.
[b “Sorry we took longer than expected.”] He said as he placed a kiss on Anastasia’s forehead.
Anastasia looked to Willow.
“A machine for making babies?” She raised an eyebrow.
“I hadn’t even thought about children, I never wanted to set myself up for something that might not happen.” She laughed a little.
She would have liked a few children, a single child would be worrisome as she would be worried of sickness taking them or loneliness.
“All in good time I suppose. We will not even share a bed before our wedding.” She remarked and looked thoughtful.
“You will help me choose a dress, I don’t have a mother or any relatives to help me, so it seems right that you would help me?” She asked, almost nervously.
“If Anastasia wishes to meet your mother then I’m sure Willow will help to look as proper as possible for such a meeting.” He said to Jobe. Perhaps if he gave Anastasia the opportunity to speak for herself she would find it liberating.
“Oh? Well... sharing a bed became more about uh... pleasure than simply making children.” He said to Jobe.
“Some people still wait until marriage. Of course me and Willow will adhere to all expectations, we would never bring shame upon you or Anastasia.” He added, hoping Jobe didn’t think he was hinting. He laughed a little.
“I think me and Willow prefer this era to our own.” He remarked quietly.
“She certainly seems to enjoy it here.” He remarked. So did he, he had found friendships and been able to confess his love for Willow. He wasn’t sure he would have any of that in their home time.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow knew all too well about the protection that women needed in this era, and the way women were treated if they were to get pregnant before that happened. It was a difficult time and where sex had been something of passion and enjoyment in her own time, here it was dangerous to do outside of marriage because protection was not exactly something that was reliable or easy to get hold of.
Willow shook the thoughts from her mind, not wanting to be forced to think about such things this early on in a relationship that was still new to her. She couldn’t ask Justin to marry her simply because it would protect her, and she did not want to marry for that reason. She had never even thought about marriage until this point and she would fight any man that tried to tell her she should be married because it is what is expected of her.
[b “A partnership is right and I believe Jobe will treat this as a partnership. He wants a wife he can share his life with, not a baby making machine…although I am sure you will have beautiful children.”]
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe laughed and nodded. [b “That could work. Willow can have her way with my mother if she reacts negatively upon their return but we could at least try to control the situation. Although you must realise that the more we send Willow into town, the more men will see her…if a high class man takes to her there is no knowing what can happen.”] He said seriously. He then thought for a moment a made a sound that told him he was thinking.
[b “Perhaps we let the women decide?”] He said before Justin mentioned sharing a bed. [b “Men and women share a bed before they are wed? But why? The more I learn about your time the less I think I understand how and why things have changed so much.”]
Anastasia looked to Willow and smiled a little.
“Years? Good grief.” She commented and looked thoughtful.
“It’s protection here. Women don’t do well on their own. Most women are put into arranged marriages if they are wealthy, Jobe’s father must not have wanted that for him.” She explained.
“You May only have children if you are married. If you aren’t... then it can grow very unfortunate.” She remarked and thought back to her time in the poorhouse. They were very distant memories for her now but she knew not everyone was so fortunate as her.
“I will try. Jobe will keep me sheltered from such things, but he should not deal with them alone, after all, a marriage is a partnership.” She said to Willow with a small smile. Anything Jobe did to her was always in kindness and never through cruelty but if he was to bear the weight of burdens, then she would share the load.
“Well. I suppose we could send them to town. I’m sure they would like a day looking at wedding dresses or something of the like. Willow is kind but she has a sharp tongue if your mother was to put down Anastasia in her presence. I suppose such matters should be dealt with diplomatically.” He remarked and watched Jobe.
“But remember, you share all burdens now and I’m not sure Anastasia will thank you for letting you do this alone. It may even be good for her, to realise that harsh words are only that, words.” He pointed out. However, Willow was sure to come to Anastasia’s defence on the matter and he would need to be sure and forewarn her that she needed to be civil on the matter.
“Still, I’m sure you and Anastasia have much to talk about and a bed to share- Ah, never mind. Wrong time period.” He said and sighed at himself. He kept forgetting things were not the same here.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow laughed at the woman’s reaction. It was almost as though she had never heard such exciting news before and she shook her head and the way the woman almost squealed. It was like they were two high school girls gossiping about boys.
[b “Yes on the lips…and no I did not.”] She said, almost embarrassed by the fact. There was talk of marriage again. It was so strange to move from one society that did not care too much about marriage, to another where it was one of the most important things in the world. [b “Well I do not know about that. Do not forget that we are from a different time. Marriage would come three, maybe four years down the line and here…well it would be considered strange for a woman of my age and ‘class’ not to be married. I don’t really know what to do.”] She said with a sigh and looked towards Anastasia as she voiced her concerns.
[b “You should not worry about all of that. Just be happy and let Jobe take that burden away from you. Let us all take that burden for you.”]
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe bit the inside of his lips and thought for a moment. [b “Not necessarily at risk…there is no danger in it. However, she cannot have wealth of her own without a man. Women rely on men here and I can imagine Willow won’t enjoy it but she will [I need] you to take care of her.”] He listened to Justin when he spoke to about his mother and he nodded his head, hoping that he was right.
[b “I hope you are right. I will her invite her to dinner tomorrow and break the news to her then and see what she says, allow I am not sure I want to subject Anastasia to her reaction until I know what it will be exactly.”]
Anastasia smiled a little at her words but she almost knew that without intervention her and Jobe would never have become a couple. Still, she didn’t press the matter but when Willow told her about Justin she almost squealed in excitement.
“He did?! On the lips?” Well of course! She laughed a little.
“And you didn’t deny him?” She beamed.
“This is great news! It should be you and him getting married next.” She joked and she did hope so because she would have loved to see them get married in a quaint little church and Willow would look so beautiful! It was all so exciting for them both and she honestly couldn’t contain herself. Of course she was excited for everything with Jobe,
“I am still worried. Jobe’s mother wasn’t like his father, she’s not as understanding. And then there are his business partners.” She murmured to Willow.
Justin pondered in Jobe’s words.
“Is Willow at risk if she remains unmarried?” He asked him and thought carefully. He would not rush into marriage and he knew he loved Willow but he also would not see her at any risk. If marriage was a way to secure some sort of safety for her then he would. He sighed and rubbed his eyes.
He was sure eventually he would ask Willow but he didn’t want it to be because it was the right thing to do or what was expected of them. He wanted to do it because he loved her and he wanted her safe and to be his wife.
“I’m sure your mother will just be glad to see you happy. Anastasia is a healthy, beautiful young woman. Every mother ants what’s best for their son.” He remarked and took another drink. Of course he found it strange marriage was such a necessity in these times but he supposed a lot of people were also god fearing people. It would be an honour to see Jobe and Anastasia married and he just prayed people showed some tolerance for them because they deserved it.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow giggled and shook her head. Perhaps she did have something to do with it but all she did was give the woman the confidence to say yes. Their love was developed long before her arrival and she had nothing to do with that. Then she shook her head.
[b “I’m not sure about that. Justin and I were not here before and you both go married anyway. I’m sure that you would have found your way to each other. You truly are destined to be together. You have no need to thank me. I simply talked to you like any friend would have done and I am glad you are happy. Sisters remember?”] She said with a smile, leaning into the woman gently to show her affection for her.
She did not want to make this night about her but Anastasia was not going to give up trying to figure things out unless she told her. Willow just laughed towards the woman and sighed, knowing that she would find out one way or another.
[b “Justin kissed me.”]
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe looked towards him with a curiosity and refused to move until he spoke of what happened. They would return to the women with their scotch when they finished their talk. He smiled and tapped the man on the back in a congratulatory manner.
[b “Good man!”] He poured a glass of scotch and handed it over to him. [b “And I am sure that she was delighted to finally hear how you feel.”] He listened to his concerns about marriage and weighed in on the situation. [b “It is a strange time you are from. Here, if you have affections for a woman you court her and marry her. I cannot imagine a world where marriage is not a necessity. Here it is a sign of partnership and offers a woman protection from society. An unmarried woman can often be shamed. It does not make sense to me…I believe in marrying for love but as woman have no status on their own, they must have a man to protect them.”] He said thoughtfully as he took a sip from his glass and nodded.
[b “I believe that my mother will have something to say about the matter but she promised I could choose whom I wish to marry [I and,] as you pointed out, there is no clause to say I have to marry a woman of wealth.”]
Justin was lead away by Jobe and he didn’t object.
“My evening? Ah, well...” was it a bad thing to kiss a woman before marriage in this time? He wasn’t overly sure and he laughed a little.
“I told Willow how I felt.” He said, starting from the beginning.
“We kissed.” He confessed and took a drink of scotch, looking to Jobe. He thought for a while,
“Things are different in these times. Marriage is not a necessity where we are from and I never believed I would ever get married. Never even thought of a family but somehow- Willow changes that. I’m not sure if her thoughts on such things but she does care for me, like you and Anastasia had told me. It just seems surreal I suppose.” Willow was a beautiful woman and someone he didn’t deserve and he would thank his lucky stars every day for her presence.
“Perhaps in time.” He murmured and swirled the liquid around in the glass.
“I suppose we have you and Anastasia’s wedding to get out of the way first.” He laughed a little.
“Your mother will approve?” He asked.
Anastasia smiled to Willow,
“Of course you would be the first to know, you helped.” She said to the woman.
“Without you or Justin, I’m not sure how things would have gone between me and Jobe.” She hated to think of it because she knew he would have entered into a loveless marriage and she would still be his diligent servant.
“We owe you our thanks.” She said to Willow with a laugh. She positively couldn’t believe what had transpired that evening and she was so afraid she would wake up in her bed and it would be a cruel dream.
“I cannot recall a time I have been happier.” She commented to Willow.
“And what of you and Justin, Hm?” She asked with a coy smile playing on her lips.
“You have an air of happiness about you.” She remarked and watched her.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] Willow stood up excitedly when Jobe announced their news. Even though she knew it was coming, it did not change the level of excitement she felt. They had become their friends and it seemed far more important now. It was not just history. It was love and friendship too. She moved towards Anastasia, taking the woman in her arms and smiled happily towards Jobe as Justin shook his hand in a congratulatory manner.
[b “Of course you will have to put up with talk of weddings now until the day arrives. I believe they are quite the affair in this time. More meaningful than our time Justin. The ceremony is more about love rather than how much money you have.”] She smiled, sitting herself back down on the floor as Anastasia followed. Jobe and Justin went to get their scotch leaving the woman alone for a moment and she squeezed her hand.
[b “I am so happy for you! This is such an exciting day for you both and I am truly blessed to be one of the first people you announced it to!”] She said with a smile.
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] Jobe shook his hand gratefully and smiled towards the two. He was glad that they were here to share in this special moment with them. He knew that he had a privileged life, but somehow, he was happier than he had ever been surrounding by friends and getting ready to marry the woman he loved.
[b “A scotch is most certainly in order. Come let us go a bring some back in here. I believe more than one will suffice in celebration.”] He placed his arm around Justin’s shoulder and led him out of the room and when he was out of earshot he looked towards him. [b “So…how was your evening?”] He asked, pulling his arm from around him and reaching for two glasses and a glass bottle filled with the amber liquid they had both come to enjoy.
Justin smiled to Willow and ran his thumb over the back of her hand before looking up to the other couple. He laughed at the news,
“That’s wonderful!” He said and stood up, shaking Jobe’s hand excitedly and looking to Anstasia.
“That’s great news!” He smiled to them both, honestly happy for them both.
“And watch us lose our lovely ladies to talks of weddings.” He grinned. He wondered if it was the same in this time, women would gush over dressed and parties and all sorts of things. It would give them both something to bond over and given Anastasia was marrying Jobe Hughes, there would be no worrying over finances he was sure.
Justin watched them all and smiled,
“I believe the women won’t deny us a scotch to celebrate?” He raised an eyebrow to Willow and Anastasia with a small laugh.
Anastasia watched them both and smiled, glad they were happy for them.
“I could never say no.” She said to Jobe and looked to Justin and Willow.
“I think we denied each other for long enough.” She said to Justin and meant the relationship between herself and Jobe. She did worry what others would think but in that moment she was happy and excited and content. She had everything she ever wanted, just Jobe. It was all she wanted, was just him. The house could burn down, the factories could go bust and she would be just as happy so long as Jobe was with her.
Anastasia looked to Willow and she noticed the woman looked much happier as well but she would ask her when they were speaking in private, not wanting to embarrass the woman. She sat with Willow and looked to Justin when he mentioned scotch,
“If it saves you from that wretched coffee.” She said, jokingly and let the fire warm her up.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/R9bcGpC.jpg]] As if her heart could beat any faster, he pulled her closer to him and she felt a new waves of emotion sweep through her as the butterflies in her stomach were given a new lease of life. She never imagines that she would feel something like this but now that it was happening it felt right. When he pulled away she wished to pull him back into her for another kiss but she held herself back and just smiled at him when he spoke.
Her cheeks were slightly reddened by their affections and she gave herself a moment to look at their interlocked hands before gazing back up at Justin as he spoke. When he spoke she smiled and raised her eyebrow at his final words. [b “Who said anything about marriage?”] She asked with a smile. [b “Justin, I do not need romance or pretty words. I just need you.”] She said with a smile, squeezing his hand reassuringly before she heard movement outside the door.
Willow released her grip on his hands and closed the book in her lap properly, placing it on the chair before turning to face Anastasia and Jobe who announced they had some news.
[b “Oh?”] She asked, her curiosity peaked.
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/gb7q260.jpg]] [b “Wife. Mrs Hughes. I like the sound of that.”] He said as he pressed his finger against her nose affectionately. [b “And I the happiest man. I assure you.”] He said as he took hold of her hand and pulled himself up off the ground. He was excited to share his news and he was intrigued to see if there had been any advancement between Justin and Willow.
[b “You know I think tonight might have been a special night for all of us.”] He said towards her as he took her hand in his and made their way into the room where they had left Justin and Willow. He looked them both over, no evidence of what had transpired between them but he was sure he would ask Justin later.
He looked towards Anastasia with a smile as she spoke before turning his attention to Willow and Justin. [b “Anastasia has agreed to be my wife.”]
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