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Willow laughed gently and shook her head. [b “Perhaps he is persistent. He loves her and I’m sure that he will not give up.”] She smiled to herself for a moment. [b “We are witnessing a real life love story here and yet I find myself more invested than I ever have been in anything in my own world.”] Willow laughed once more, not know that it was the fact she was invested in this, had a much larger impact in the two getting together in the first place. She turned to face Justin, placing the glass of wine down on the table as she did so and raised her eyebrow. Now they were making their way towards their rooms and she was feeling suddenly self-conscious.
[b “What feelings?”] Her tone was somewhat defensive and she could help but wonder if he knew that she had feelings for him. She wasn’t sure that he could mean anything else and for a moment she became filled with dread. Willow shook her head, trying to ignore what he had said and nodded. [b “You are right. It’s been a long day. Sleep will certainly help.”]
She woke up feeling much more refreshed the next day, eager to get started on their relationship once more but she did not progress much. Anastasia seemed to retreat back into her shell and by the time three days had passed, she could only hope that the two would get there on their own. After all, their life was destined. History told her so.
[b “You know Justin, we really should start thinking about heading back to our time.”] She said quietly one morning as she had made her way into his room without being seen. [b “As much as I have learned and as much as I love it here, we have to go back and some point. Besides, there is nothing stopping us from coming back here right?”] At least she hoped. She had grown quite attached to Jobe and Anastasia and she wasn’t quite sure that she was ready to let go yet but she must.
A sigh escaped her lips as she played with the material on his bed. Being here with him only made her realise how much she had missed out on back home. He seemed much more open about things here and his personality was a little more relaxed. Willow hoped he would take some of that back with him.
Justin sighed and shook his head.
“How do those two end up together?” He murmured and gestures they should go up towards their rooms as well. It was easier to leave the peacefulness.
“Besides, you are complicated. You have all those feelings and everything.” He joked as he went into his room and turned to look at her. He eyed her over and smiled a little.
“We can try tomorrow, after some sleep, that I think we both need and Jobe and Anastasia need some time, I think. Well, I hope.” He explained and exhaled before he got that urge again, the urge to kiss her but he quickly closed the door after a hurried ‘good night’.
The morning was bright and there was rain on the windows. He washed and dressed and head downstairs, it must have been earlier than he imagined but he was grateful the house was warm. He looked to the conservatory and to Anastasia who had evidently fallen asleep down there. That wasn’t good.
He prodded her,
“Uh, Miss Anastasia- you will end up with a sore back if you sleep there?” He was taken aback by how quickly she awoke and he watched her hurry off to help with whatever duties she had to attend to. Poor woman, her back must be killing her from sleeping in one of the uncomfortable chairs.
Before he could blink, breakfast was being served and he sighed a little. He at least hoped Jobe was feeling better than he had been. Rejection was never nice.
Anastasia must have fallen asleep in the conservatory because the next thing that happened was Justin and she was panicked.
“Oh! No- what?” She babbled, confused as she looked around. She sighed an apology and darted off to dress.
Of course she was back in her servants dress as she busied around making breakfast and making sure it was served properly. Everything had to be perfect for Jobe and his guests. Last night still lingered on her mind but once everything was done, she settled with a cup of tea in the back garden, a favourite spot of hers to watch the sun come up. It was nice, the peace and quiet.
Willow had been so understanding with her lately and she would need to thank her properly, when the time came but right then she wasn’t sure she wanted to see anyone. She was tired and she felt like yesterday had been nothing but an errant dream, so easily chased away. She could see Jobe’s face when she denied him what he wanted, every time she closed her eyes and it felt so wrong but she would not be the reason his name was dirtied amongst others. She cared for him deeply; she loved him and she knew that it meant pain. Ever since she was a girl she had known what it had meant.
She blew some steam from the tea and watched the rain come down as she sheltered in the doorway, it was going to be a grey day.
Jobe could tell Justin was making excuses but it did not matter. Perhaps having another man to talk to about all these things would help him sort through his own thoughts, and he knew that Justin was unlikely to judge his feelings for a servant girl.
[b “Anastasia does not want to address our feelings for each other.”] He said simply, waiting for Justin to say something in return. What he said made sense and he hadn’t thought about it before. As she was seen as working class, she would have been punished more severely, therefore it would have been harder to change her mind in the long run. [b “Juliet certainly seems like she could help smooth things out in some way. I will trust that time will help for now. Perhaps you are right. We should confront things head on soon enough and I will now give her the chance to walk away. Not tonight though, I do not wish to upset her.”]
The two started to walk back to the house and he was sad to see Anastasia leave with haste upon their arrival. He downed his scotch quickly and looked between Willow and Justin. [b “Forgive me, if you do not mind I am going to retire to my room. I do not think my company will be too enjoyable right now.”] With that he left Willow and Justin standing alone.
It broke her heart to see Anastasia with tears rushing down her face although she could guess that they were linked to Jobe’s affections for her, not something that he had said. Jobe was far too kindhearted to have hurt her feelings in any way. At least not intentionally. Regardless of the woman forcing a smile and telling her not to fret, she did. She had grown to care for the woman significantly in her short time here and if she was going to have anything to do with it, she would try and smooth things out.
She listened to her carefully, trying not to give any indication that she was worrying about nothing. From what she read, Jobe had come to realise that his business had always been sustained by those who were of similar views to him. The only people who looking down on them was other business owners. In fact, his business blossomed when he decided to marry Anastasia. More people wanted to work for him because he had proven publicly that class did not matter to him. Other businesses lost on workers and her was approached my the local council to run inspections upon the workhouses. With Anastasia’s help he brought a lot to light and none of this would happen if the two did not marry. She had to be careful though. She couldn’t just say that.
[b “Do not suggest that you are not a proper woman because you were not born into a family of wealth dear Anastasia. We women are what we make ourselves.”] She thought about how to word what she was going to say next, hoping that she didn’t give away more than she intended. [b “Take me for example. I was born to parents who had nothing, no aspirations or wealth. I grew up with very little and when I was old enough to make decisions I decided that it would not be my life. My wealth did not come from money but from happiness. There are more things to life that marrying for money and status. I can assure you Jobe would not marry for that reason.”]
Her lips parted to speak once more but when Justin and Jobe returned the woman retreated leaving her unable to speak. When Justin’s appeared at her side she looked up at him.
[b “I am certainly not complicated.”]
Justin watched Willow go after Anastasia and he looked to Jobe,
“There’s a chill in the air, Juliet prefers the warmth so our walk was not ruined.” Justin said to Jobe.
“What happened?” He asked him, although he had a good idea.
“Anastasia sees class, she doesn’t want to, you know? I suppose she had harsher punishments than you did if she overstepped.” He mused half to himself and sighed,
“Allow Juliet some time with her. She’s very good at helping others when they are confused.” Willow had a way about her that seemed to show the clear path most of the time and Justin patted Jobe on the shoulder.
“Perhaps you should not give Anastasia a chance to run. Sometimes making her face things head on is better.” He remarked. He could tell the two felt the same about one another but one was too terrified of ruining another that it was too much to handle.
After some time had passed, Justin lead them both back inside.
“A scotch each I think.” He murmured and watched Anastasia glee the scene. He approached Willow to stop her following because sometimes matters needed to fix themselves.
“Are you women always this complicated?” He whispered and looked utterly perplexed.
Anastasia looked to Willow when she came in. She had streaks of tears down her cheeks.
“I will be, fret not Miss Juliet.” She excised and wiped her face with a forced smile.
“Miss Juliet-“ she hesitated but what did she have to lose and Willow had always been so kind.
“I have been fond of Mr Hughes for the longest time and his affections for me never went unnoticed. I do feel deeply for him but- our society is not kind. If it were discovered then Mr Hughes could lose all status and reputation. He tells me he does not care but others do. His businesses could suffer.” Anastasia said to her, as if just needing to get everything off her chest.
“He is a dreamer, and a wonderful man but I cannot deny him a proper woman with a proper name and proper wealth.” She explained. It was as if her heart was ripped in half.
She quickly quietened down when Justin and Jobe came in from the night air. Thankfully her tears had dried so Jobe would not pity her.
“I should get us some wine, Miss Juliet-“ however it was taken care of before she could even finish the sentence and she sighed quietly.
“I should be getting to bed, I see no reason not to return to work tomorrow.” She explained and looked to Willow. She thanked her quietly for listening before going out into the hall and taking a deep breath as she moved to the conservatory of the house, looking out at the night sky through the glass.
While it was not often that the two discussed such things, Jobe and Anastasia had both grown up knowing that there was something between them, whether society willed it or not. His feelings for her were not likely to change and part of his side with the marriage clause in his father’s will was that she would not marry him. He wanted to tell her how easy it would be for him to give up his wealth and station for her but it would only upset her to here such words. Jobe swallowed hard as the woman spoke of her own feelings, confirming hat he had not been imagining things all this time
Her hand on his cheek, however brief, felt right and he wanted nothing more than to take her hand and keep it there. [b “I do not car about my reputation. Anastasia, please...Are we not all dreamers? I simply can not believe that we will always live in a world where we are definite by our wealth.”] His words did not seem to matter. Anastasia retracted her hand and looked towards him apologetically before she moved away from him.
He felt as though someone had taken something and plunged it into his gut, yet it was his heart that ached, yearning to go after her but it would be of no use. She would not listen to him. He looked at the ground for a moment before he noticed Juliet rush in after Anastasia. Perhaps she could talk some sense into her.
[b “I’m sorry, I did not mean to ruin your walk with Juliet.”]
Willow allowed her thoughts to wonder about who those two extra people in the book she had been reading. More than likely, they were friends of Anastasia or perhaps two other people that worked in the house that they have not yet met. Such things did not matter right this second but she made a mental note to research further into the past when they arrived back in the present...or the future…
Time travel sure was messy. She was still unsure about how to refer to their real time. Willow shook her head as she came back out of her thoughts and looked towards Justin. [b “No siblings and the initials don’t match his parents. No matter. I will figure it out I’m sure.”]
Now she was more intrigued by Justin’s college years since he spoke of something she had not heard him speak off before. Knowing that Justin had jumped in rivers and maybe even had gotten drunk on occasion brought a smile to her face. [b “Drunk?”] She asked in disbelief, shaking her head and laughing. [b “I am sorry, but I simply do not believe it. You have always been professional in every manner of speaking. It is hard to imagine you in any other way. Although I have to admit, you seem to be blossoming here. Jobe seems to have brought out a side of you that I have not seen before and I implore you to allow this out more often. You do not need to be professional every second of the day. I would hope that you consider us to be friends and that you can let your guard down around me.”]
Having him ask her what she did for fun was actually a difficult question. In her mind she was already doing what she found to be fun. History was not just a job to her but a genuine passion. She wondered if Justin would laugh to hear her tell him that the most fun she had ever had was reading Jobe’s diary. Yet again l, Justin roused a laugh from her and she found herself realising that she had not laughed so much in a long time. [b “I do not need another party just so I can shout at men. In fact parties are not really my thing at all. In case you hadn’t noticed I’m more of a walking in the sunset kind of girl.”]
It was then that her attention was taken back to Jobe who was now left standing alone, Anastasia nowhere to be seen. She gave a look to Justin that told him she would go after her, she just hoped that he understood that it was Justin‘s job to talk to Jobe. She made her way through the house until she found her.
[b “Anastasia are you alright?”]
Justin raised an eyebrow,
“I suppose but still- two others Hm?” He thought back.
“Does he have siblings? Maybe his mother or father?” He thought. Certainly it seemed Jobe’s father had been on the same wave length as Jobe but still. He looked to Willow.
“Yes in a river. Despite me being a boring old scientist back home, I did go to college. I may have even got drunk once.” He said like it was a big secret and he laughed a little.
“I also never thought I would enjoy hunting, you know? Turns out it’s not so bad and Jobe can sure tell a story, it makes sense he becomes a writer!” He remarked but reminded himself to keep quiet.
“Alright then, Miss Juliet.” He said and watched her, closely,
“What do you want to do for fun? I could convince Mr Hughes to throw another party, perhaps something grander, like a ball or something? We could dance and you could go around telling more men off?” He joked with a boyish smile on his face. He glanced to Anastasia and Jobe,
“Encouragement, huh?” He looked to Willow and sighed. Whatever had happened, had not gone down well. Anastasia had left Jobe standing there and he looked to Willow,
“Did they get together easily because it looks like she just left him hanging?” He murmured and sighed.
Anastasia watched him and she so badly wanted to agree with him, wanted to throw her arms around him and feel his lips and every inch of his skin beneath her fingertips.
“I know your feelings. They are as mine are for you.” She said quietly and watched him but she was not finished speaking.
“I would have your reputation in tact, Mr Hughes.” She was shaking slightly, as if revealing such emotion was terrifying for her.
“You have been the kindest man to me, the gentlest but what we want is a dream...” She whispered to him, forgetting herself as she reached up to touch his cheek. She loved him but it could not be.
“You deserve more than a servant, Jobe.” She said quietly and looked to Willow and Justin,
“I apologise.” She said to Jobe and retracted her hand.
“We cannot chase a dream. Some things we must accept in our lives, I am content to serve you in any way you want. I’m sorry.” She apologised and it was very clearly killing her inside to say such things but she could not indulge the fantasy. He would always be above her, in class and status and she would not have him lower himself to come to her. She parted from him and made her way back inside the house, how foolish she had been. She made sure the fires were well lit in the main room and paused a moment in front of the flames.
Jobe remembered what it was like to be chastised by the adults. Though his father never punished him for spending time with Anastasia, the other adults in the room judged. They would get glances of disapproval and he was sure that some, even conspired to make Anastasia work in another house but his father would never allow it. He was glad of that fact. Jobe could not imagine growing up without Anastasia in his life.
When Anastasia came to a stop, he did also. He found himself wondering what the woman required his attention for. She looked nervous, as though what she might say might upset him. How she did not realise that all he wished for was to hear the woman speak and be happy. Upon hearing her words, he wanted to reach out and trace her face with his finger but he forced himself to stop, knowing that she did not belong to him for him to do so. Instead he simply took hold of her hand and squeezed it gently before allowing it to rest at his side.
[b “You have nothing to thank me for. I would have you dine with me every evening if I could or if you would let me allow that. I do not think that you understand just how important you are to me.”] There was brief silence for a minute as he thought about his next words carefully, not wanting to scare the woman but also not wanting to say something out of place. [b “I would hope that you know how I feel about you.”] His final words a whisper as though scared of her response.
All a little encouragement could do was reinforce their relationship. They clearly loved each other already and there was no harm in getting them to admit that a little earlier than intended. What Justin said was true. She was smitten with them both and she was smitten with the lifestyle. She wondered what effect her staying might have on history because right now she couldn’t envision ever wanting to go home.
[b “I think that are men and women like that. I think you are right. We were lucky to end up here with people like this. I’m not sure I would enjoy my time here as much if I were surrounded by arrogant rich men.”] she laughed to herself and glanced back. [b “Well she inspired him and two other people I am yet to meet. He doesn’t refer to them by any name I recognise but I’m sure it will all become clear soon.”]
She laughed once more when he spoke of coffee she laughed. [b “We are a little bit early for that. Coffee houses start popping up in 1840. Quite revolutionary.”] Willow couldn’t believe what she was hearing from him now and she stopped where she was, with her hand on her stomach as the laughing started to cramp. [b “Jump in a river? Is that what you do for fun?”] She asked, imagining him doing so. [b “I imagine some do, but these are not exactly fun times.”]
Justin looked to Willow and smiled.
“Well, I suppose a little encouragement can do no harm then.” He murmured as he looked to the flowers.
“Still,” he said and looked at her again,
“You seem smitten with them both.” He mused and looked thoughtful.
“I didn’t imagine these times to be like this, you know? Every person is different and when you said upper class I thought perhaps we would meet pompous rich people who didn’t care about anything- perhaps we were lucky to end up with Jobe.” He said to her. Still, she was happy and that was all Justin cared about right then was her being happy and he hoped she stayed that way.
“I swear I never even though we would end up J Hughes home, that’s just luck.” He promised and drew her close to his side.
“How amazing that she inspired him though, to do all that change.” He said as he glanced back at them.
“Although, I do miss coffee, though I have to say the scotch here is nice.” He chuckled as he walked.
“What do people do for fun? Do they ever just let loose? Dive in a river or a lake when the moment takes them?” He asked her and he had to wonder because everything seemed to refined. Everything seemed so planned and careful.
“We were told to see class, I suppose. And we were reprimanded when we didn’t see each other’s classes.” Anastasia said quietly. She had received many punishments for talking with a young Jobe or playing hide and seek or failing her duties, it was probably all that which had lead to her being so terrified of looking at Jobe differently.
“Many people are different, you are different from the guests you invite here. You are kind and forgiving.” Anastasia pointed out when he mentioned Willow and Justin being different. They were but it was not a strange different or a dangerous different and Anastasia had grown fond of them both.
“Mr Hughes.” She stopped walking for a second so she could look at him properly in the fading light.
“I want to take a moment to thank you.” She said to him,
“For today. For allowing me to-“ she sighed quietly,
“To be like you and your guests.” She murmured but holding his gaze too long brought about unspeakable desires and emotions that she knew would never come clear. She looked away and kept walking. She was chasing a dream that wouldn’t become reality and she was dangerously close to losing her grip.
The air was growing slightly colder as the sun dipped and she knew it wasn’t late and she didn’t want any of this to end. She looked to Justin and Willow, wondering why they had every opportunity to act on their emotions but didn’t, it almost made her frustrated at them because they could have everything she couldn’t.
Jobe seemed satisfied with himself when he encouraged the woman to take his arm and he took it quickly so that she could not change her mind. He did not care about the talks of other people and he wanted nothing more than to make this day last; the day where Anastasia was just Anastasia.
[b “I believe you have made quite the impression yourself. Juilet is smitten with you and I do believe that Fletcher thinks that you are quite strong-willed. I have to say that I agree with him on that matter.”] Now that the two of them were out in the gardens, they ensured that they allowed Juliet and Fletcher the space to enjoy each other’s company. Whether they wanted to admit it or not, there was definitely something between them.
He smiled towards Anastasia as she spoke of his childhood and he laughed. [b “Times were much simpler then. When we were children, neither of us seemed to care that there was a class dividing us. I do not know why we care so much now.”] He looked forward once more and nodded. [b “They are both fine individuals indeed. A little…different but kindhearted nonetheless.”]
Willow watched the expression on Justin’s face change as he rushed to try and correct what he was saying, raising her eyebrow when he suggested that she had lovely hips and she couldn’t hold back the laugh anymore. She allowed her arm to take hers once more and she started walking again, allowing herself to enjoy the sun that was setting in the distance. Justin had been right about the beauty of it. She glanced up at him as he spoke. She liked the idea of fitting in here but a part of her was saddened by the fact that she didn’t; that in a couple of days they would be going home.
She shrugged. [b “They are easy to get along with. Jobe is everything I imagined him to be and Anastasia is a darling. I just love her.”] She said with a smile. For a split second her heart skipped a beat but she didn’t quite know why. There was something about the way he looked at her that warranted it but Jobe and Anastasia joined them, still keeping a bit of distance so that they could talk in private.
She noticed the way his grip tightening around her arm and she smiled to herself in response. [b “I’m not playing anything.”] She said quietly, looking back at the two, nodding in agreement. [b “Whether I was here or not, they end up together anyway.”] Willow looked back at Justin. [b “Mrs A.Hughes. That is Anastasia. She’s the reason he starts campaigning for social reform.”]
Justin watched Willow and laughed,
“Oh no! I mean- you have lovely hips- I mean well not that I- ah.” He gave up half way through when he realised she was joking and laughed a little, taking her arm once more as he looked around the garden and walked with her.
“You fit in here, you know that?” He said to her and she looked amazing in the light of the sunset, like she was set fire to and each feature glowed so wonderfully.
“You’ve done wonders with Anastasia and Jobe, you get along with them so well.” He remarked to her and for the briefest moment he thought he might kiss her but he was distracted as Anastasia and Jobe joined them. He smiled, awkwardly and caught himself.
He tightened his grasp on Willow’s arm, as if somewhat protective of her as he gazed around the garden as they walked.
“And I think you’re playing Cupid.” He added to her quietly and gestures behind them to Anastasia and Jobe, giving her a knowing look. He couldn’t blame her but at the same time, he didn’t know how Jobe’s life turned out in the end.
“He’d be miserable with anyone else.” He murmured and he had to admit, he would be the same with anyone else but Willow.
Anastasia looked to Jobe and sighed softly, it was too much to put into words sometimes.
“Very well.” She murmured and took his arm. She was worried that if they were seen, people would talk. Then again it was Jobe’s private gardens, she didn’t have to be afraid when they were alone.
“You have made a wonderful impression on your guests.” She said to him quietly as she looked to Justin and Willow up ahead of them.
If everyday could be like this then she would have it so. She did not remember the last time she had been so relaxed in Jobe’s company. She had been raised by other servants, coming here when she was just a child from a poor house. Jobe hasn’t been much older than her then but they had very different upbringings.
“Your kindness has been apparent since you were a boy, Mr Hughes.” She murmured, as if forgetting that he was her master.
Once they had even been caught playing in the halls together. The head servant, an elderly lady, had gone positively crazy and chastised them both. Maybe because she was worried what others would say if they saw a servant girl playing with the son of a successful man. Anastasia looked to Jobe as they walked and swallowed slightly before looking away and then to Willow and Justin ahead of them. They made such a wonderful couple and it was a real shame neither of them could see it for themselves.
“She is a kind woman, and he is a fine gentleman.” She mused quietly, breaking the silence between them.
Willow was thankful for the fact that Justin interjecting, saving her from her own mistake. She could have kicked herself for being the one to screw up, confident that the mistake would not have come from her. She sighed and thanked Jobe for the dinner also and looked up towards Justin as he held out his arm. This was the most interaction the two had in such a way. He had always avoided physical contact with her but it was not like she minded.
Willow stood and threaded her arm with his, allowing him to lead the way as he put some distance between them and Jobe and Anastasia.
[b “I’m fine, I feel stupid and I [I did] nearly choke but I am alright. I just…I forgot that most married women would have had children by now. It just caught me off guard.”] She laughed to herself quietly and looked up at him as he winked. [b “My what?”] She said as she pulled her arm from him and looked at him with feigned shock. [b “What are you saying about my hips?”] She was joking and hoped he realised that.
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