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Justin gazed at Willow and then at Jobe,
“Oh no! We don’t live locally- uh quite a distance away but I’m sure a carriage will see us home before morning.” He assured and eyed the weather.
“Your hospitality has been so gracious, Me Hughes .” He said to the other man and looked to Anastasia.
“And of course a thank you to your servants.” He made to shake Anastasia’s hand and she flinched and drew back. He glanced to Willow and then Jobe.
“I’m somewhat of a Doctor, perhaps I could take a look?” He said to Anastasia and sat with her, lifting the sleeve to reveal ugly bruises and swelling. He seemed concerned but the chances were there was no lasting damage.
“You should have spoken up, this looks unpleasant.” He murmured and inspected the bruises.
“A day or two and some ice that Juliet advised should take that down.” He commented and looked to Jobe, hoping he wasn’t overstepping as he left Anastasia.
“I am happy to stay and see fit the young lady looks after that arm.” What was an extra few days? They could go home any time and not be missed? He smiled to ‘Juliet’.
“Besides, my brothers widow has heard much of your businesses.” He said to Jobe and looked to Willow. He found this era fascinating and they could even go home tonight and return in the morning so they weren’t missed.
“I am sure we can find the rooms ourselves, you look exhausted.” Justin said to Anastasia when she returned. He wondered if all servants worked this hard in this era or if it was just Anastasia.
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Anastasia offered no voice of objection as the strange man looked over her arm and she just nodded at his advise and avoided looking at the man’s face. It was still shameful, to her anyways. She rubbed at her tired eyes and stood up,
“I can make the guest bedrooms ready for your guests.” She said to Jobe and she didn’t mind. Serving him was as close as she usually got to him, perhaps a stolen few moments together in the hall now and then but otherwise, it was so difficult.
She gave a small, apologetic smile to Willow and Justin that she had not done it earlier. She took her leave to set up the bedding and make sure the rooms were clean. The quiet of the corridors did her good and it was relaxing as she lit the candles and lanterns in each room before returning a short amount of time later.
“Your rooms are ready.” She announced, quietly. She looked like she might keel over for sleep in a moment but she was invested in doing well for Jobe’s sake.
“The first two guest rooms on the first floor.” She said to them both.
“I can show you, if you you wish it.” She said and bowed her head.
Jobe took a sip from his scotch and nodded in approval as Fletcher seemed to be on the same page as him. It was not very often that he met a man of high status who seemed to agree that all humans were born equal so should live as such. It was impressive to see that someone who clearly came from money had such views. Now that man was giving his sympathy for his loss and he nodded in gratitude, not wanting to talk about his father.
He glanced over in Willow’s direction and watched her and as she conversed with Anastasia. It was a nice surprise to see a woman show such a caring nature towards a servant girl. [b “That she is. Anastasia has always been strong, and I don’t foresee that changing. Although sometimes I wish that she was not. Now I wish that she took the evening off.”]
For some time, the two became lost in conversation, discussing whatever came to mind, as well as enjoying a couple more glasses of scotch in the process. This man definitely made his evening a lot more enjoyable and he had barely noticed that people had started to depart until the woman who had introduced herself as Juliet made her way towards them.
[b “Ah, where are you both staying? I assume that you do not live locally. You certainly do not seem like you do.”]
Willow would have taken the woman to the kitchens herself and made sure that she put the ice on her hand if she had not been concerned about causing another scene. [b “I would urge you to do so sooner rather than later. It will help with the swelling and the pain.”] She said, keeping her voice low so that many others did not hear them conversing. She knew the woman had already been embarrassed by the whole situation and she did not want to do more to add to it.
[b “If you should find that you need some help with your arm later, I will be happy to help you.”] She said softly, nodding softly towards her before watching her walk away and serve the rest of the guests. Willow could not imagine what it must be like to be in her shoes, but she told herself that Anastasia would be a good person to observe. She had a relatively good understanding about the life of the lower class in the workhouses and even though she thought she had a good knowledge of Anastasia’s class, she was more interested by the way Jobe treated her and the other staff. They both would be interesting to watch.
Willow sighed to herself as she glanced around the room, finding other people to converse with until the night was over. When the numbers began to dwindle she found herself looking over towards Jobe and Justin who seemed to be talking for the majority of the night. It was nice to see him get along with someone, but she would have to pull them apart now.
[b “I am terribly sorry to interrupt Fletcher, but I believe that it is time for us to take our leave.”] She smiled towards Jobe and offered her hand to him. [b “Sorry for your loss once again Mr Hughes. Thank you for indulging us, particularly Fletcher this evening.”]
Justin looked to Jobe Hughes, why was his name so familiar? Then it clicked. The writer?! Surely not!
“Ah! Fletcher Gallway, pleasure to meet you.” He said as he shook his hand. This was unbelievable! What a twist of fate!
“Ah, yes. My brother liked fiery women. I can only apologise but she was right, at least I believe.” He said quietly as he took another drink of scotch.
“Ah, no, you have my support. We are all born the same way.” He commented and looked to Willow and Anastasia as they spoke and he smiled to himself. It was remarkable how she could simply just get along with others, something he lacked. His eyes went back to Jobe Hughes. He realised he must be at the funeral of his father.
“I am sorry for your loss.” He said to him, glancing to the window as rain began to spatter against it in fat droplets. He sighed quietly and realised they had nowhere to stay but they would most likely go home after this night.
“Juliet has weathered better than many women in her situation.” He said to Jobe thoughtfully, still being wary of using the right names and such.
He looked to Anastasia holding out her arm to Willow and cocked his head to the side. Perhaps the servant girl was more hurt than she cared to let on to her master and he looked back to Jobe.
“Your servant is stronger than first glance might indicate.” He remarked, more of an off the cuff remark to keep conversation flowing.
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Anastasia looked to the woman and nodded,
“I will fetch ice from the kitchen later when my work is completed. It’s just a bruise.” She excused the soreness. She held her arm out so the woman would be assured she was alright but didn’t dare lift the sleeve to reveal the true injuries.
“Ah, I understand Ma’am.” She said to her and looked around.
“I should get back to work. Please enjoy your stay.” She murmured to Willow before going to make sure everyone else was fully topped up.
The night seemed to go on forever and Anastasia was exhausted by the end of the night. Anastasia was careful to make sure each glass was cleaned and she waited once more for any instructions. She would get ice and see to her injury when everything was done and she was excused for the night. The rest of the servants had taken to their beds but she was always happy to stay up later and make sure Jobe was content before her own rest.
Anastasia smoothed her dress and was glad there were no more drinks to pass around as her arms couldn’t take much more strain. She looked tired, her braids were beginning to come out of place but she kept the same dutiful expression as she watched the guests beginning to leave as their carriages turned up outside, despite the rain thundering down outside.
When the woman seemed embarrassed and decided to retreat, Job wanted nothing more than to go after the woman. He would much rather spend his time with Anastasia than anyone else, but he knew that he could not been seen to go after her, if not for the divide in social class, then because he knew how much the woman wished to be strong. He was reminded of the countless times that Anastasia had shown her strength, even if she did not realise it herself. He saw within her, what she failed to see so many times. He only wished that he could tell her just how he saw in her.
Jobe looked around at the other guests now, encouraging them that there was nothing more for them to see and that they should continue enjoying the gathering. He sighed and looked over the other woman, the one who had stayed, and she showed nothing but intrigue as he looked her over. His company had told him that she was his brother’s wife. It was clear with the concern he showed that the two were close. It made sense that he would look after her considering her newly widowed status. He knew all to well what death could do to a person.
[b “It seems that women have a tongue where you are from.”] He mused as he looked her over, holding out his hand to introduce himself. [b “My name is Jobe Hughes. It is a pleasure to meet you.”] After their initial greeting he found himself turning back towards the man who had introduced himself as Fletcher, nodding towards the woman to take their leave so that they could return to their conversation, especially since the male seemed to be questioning his treatment of his staff. Although, he did detect that he did not seem to do it in a way that was questioning him. It was more intrigue.
Job took a sip from scotch and looked back up towards the gentleman. [b “I do not see social status in the same way that most do. Whether you approve of that is your own business.”]
It was all over rather quickly. Willow found herself relieved that Jobe did not chastise her for speaking to a man in a way that should have been considered completely unacceptable. She wanted to follow after Anastasia, but she recognised the embarrassment upon the girl’s face and she permitted her the time she needed to gather herself. However, she would ensure that she checked on her before the evening was out. They had only been here for a short about of time, yet they seemed to have experienced the rift between classes and the formalities of a Victorian funeral.
Willow blinked twice as she looked up towards Justin. [b “Well of course I am alright. The gentleman did not grab hold of my arm. I think things might have turned out very differently if he had.”] She laughed softly, both of them knowing that they were from a time where such behaviour was not accepted. It was then she turned her attention to Jobe, meeting his hand with her own. [b “Juliet. I know who you are.”] She said faster than she could think. [b “I mean, your business is heard of far from London.”]
Willow was left to mingle once more until she heard Anastasia’s voice find her, thanking her for her interference earlier. She turned towards her, holding out her hand so that she could accept the wine and offered the girl a smile. Willow laughed as she looked towards Justin. [b “No. No, he is not my husband.”] She said as she looked back towards the girl. [b “I’m sorry. No, he is my husband’s brother. He passed away and now he looked after me.”] She said with a smile as he eyes glanced down towards her arm. [b “Do you have an ice?”]
Justin looked to Jobe,
“Fletcher- Ah and that is my brothers wife, he died of smallpox not long ago.” He was doing really well at going along with what Willow had told him to do. He looked at the exchange in some amount of shock and looked to Anastasia and Jobe. He was almost sure that classes were very divided in these times so his kindness seemed odd.
“I can see some cannot handle their wine.” He mused quietly and looked to Anastasia, wondering if she was bruised. He supposed he could pass himself off as a doctor but it would be risky.
He looked to Willow,
“Are you alright?” He asked her, looking her over and taking a drink of scotch thoughtfully. He could tell Anastasia looked flustered by the attention and so he changed the subject swiftly.
“Very fine scotch.” He mused and swirled it in the glass, wondering if it was from Scotland. It tasted expensive and Justin had never been much of a drinker in all honesty but this was smooth and enjoyable.
The tension was thick in the room and he was doing his best to lighten the mood. He glanced to Jobe and then to Willow.
“No injuries I trust?” He murmured and looked to Anastasia who seemed to have retreated, embarrassed and humiliated by the ordeal. He figured at best it would be a bruise to the servant girl.
“You speak to your servants as if they are of equal standings?” He mused quietly, wondering why that was in all honesty. He wouldn’t object to it though, he wasn’t sure he could stomach much more abuse in his presence.
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Anastasia was horrified by the experience and looked to Jobe and Willow when they intervened.
“Quite alright.” She assured quickly despite her arm hurting from the man’s grip.
“Apologies.” She said sorry and stepped to the doorway once more, rubbing her arm. It was horribly embarrassing to be in such a state in front of noble classes. It was humiliating and she certainly didn’t like to seem weak to Jobe, and not only because he was her employer. She kept wary of the other guests and could tell they believed she had shamed the house.
Jobe was always kind and she was grateful but she did not want him to touch her because her emotions were already so fragile when it came to him and even if it was a dream, she wanted to so desperately believe it could happen one day. However dim that dream may be.
She gave a small smile to the woman who had been brave enough to stand up for her. Anastasia could never talk back to a man! It would cost her employment and she would end up in a poor house and no doubt end up a lady of the night! She kept quiet and just did her job, although her arm aches horribly. She ducked out of the room to look at it, rolling up her sleeve and checking. There was swelling present and angry bruising beginning to form. She closed her eyes and sighed, what would her master think of her now?!
She stepped back into the room and refilled everyone’s glasses,
“Thank you.” She said to Willow quietly as she filled her glass with wine and she was struggling to bare weight with her sore arm. She looked to Jobe and Justin and then back to Willow,
“He is your husband?” She asked, keeping quiet and honestly she just wanted an excuse to not work for a moment until her arm was better.
Jobe’s hand massaged at his temple impatiently, hoping for some relief from the guests but a voice broke through to him before Anastasia had the chance to leave to fix his scotch. He thought the worst. That perhaps a rival was attempting to seduce the man into selling the business but as he looked up towards the gentleman he could not place him amongst any of the men he had met before. He did not mind entertaining if it was just one person. Jobe looked towards Anastasia and smiled with gratitude, nodding as she motioned that she would bring two drinks instead of one and for a minute, he allowed his gaze to linger as he watched her walk away.
Anastasia had become a fixture around the house and he was sure that he would not know what to do if the woman wasn’t there. His father had given her a job to save her from the poverty her family was in and had worked for them ever since he was young himself. The two of them grew up together. So close in proximity, yet so far in reality. Yet, Jobe refused to see her class; refused to see her as a servant. She was as much a part of his family than his mother was, or his father had been, and he would ensure her safety in every single scenario.
After a moment his thoughts betrayed him, reminding him that he had company. He forced his throat to clear and he turned his attention towards the stranger who had approached him. [b “I admire a scotch drinker.”] He said with a nod, looking the man over for a moment, trying to figure out if he had seen the man before. After a minute he decided that he hadn’t and continued to talk. [b “I do not believe that we have met.”] He said holding out his hand and offering his charming smiled. [b “Jobe Hughes. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”] He detected Anastasia’s presence but did not divert his attention so that he did not seem rude but handed the stranger his drink when their introductions were over.
His lips parted to speak once more but when he heard the commotion of a man shouting, followed by a woman chastising the same man he could not hold his attention on him for long. His eyebrow rose as he took in the sight of the brave woman who had taken it upon herself to speak up to a man. Perhaps she was not from around these parts, because here, women did not dare speak to a man in such a way. Oddly, he admired her for it, but he would not have his guests upset by an altercation. When he saw that the man had hold of Anastasia’s arm his heart leapt in his chest. He did not hesitate to rush forward to remove it.
[b “I think it best for you to leave sir. In my house everyone is to be treated with respect. Maid, woman, butler or gentleman do you understand?”] His tone was commanding as his eyes narrowed at the insolent man. He did not seem to be as forward with his words now, instead he huffed and threw his hands up.
[I “The wine was awful anyway.”] He said, rather childlike as he moved away from them, leaving Jobe to turn his attention to Anastasia, taking her hand gently so that he could inspect her arm.
[b “Are you alright?”]
Willow did not need to be told more than once to move into the crowd and mingle with the guests of such gathering. Although she wanted to spend as much time as she could with Justin, mainly so she could avoid looking out of place, it was not likely that she would get a chance to do this sort of thing again and she wanted to take advantage of every single moment. It was then that she realised that the technology Justin had created meant that she had all the time she needed to do just this. However, she was far too excited to turn down the opportunity.
Willow smiled towards him before moving towards the guests and started to mingle with them, ensuring that every now and then she glanced over at Justin to check that he was doing okay also. Willow had never seen Justin socialise at a gathering such as this and a part of her did worry that he might find it overwhelming. There was no doubt that she might have to rescue him from an awkward conversation at some point but for now he seemed content in joining the host of the gathering in drinking a scotch. It’s actually surprised her to learn that he drank at all. He didn’t seem like the type, but then social drinking was not the same as habitual drinking. Satisfied that he had found good company, she found herself thrown into the world of the Victorian elite.
After a minute Willow found herself in the company of a husband and wife. It seemed that they knew of the deceased and had a business that assisted his. Most of the booming businesses London centred around the factory system and their business was no different. It seemed that this couple owned a plantation that had sold cotton to the deceased. Now they would do business with his son. It was interesting to learn that their plantation had never committed to the recently abolished slave trade and that was the reason why Hughes had only been interested in their supply.
What she had managed to learn was that the man who had passed away owned a very prolific factory here, one that she had heard of before. She knew that she would meet some of the people she had read about but she never expected to be in the home of one of them now. If the man who had died was Harrison Hughes, then the gentleman Justin was talking to was his son Jobe. J.Hughes. The man she had been reading about for weeks. The man whose handwriting she had become obsessed with. She swallowed hard as she glanced over at Jobe conversing with Justin and her mouth but dried up in an instant. J.Hughes. She could hardly believe it was him.
Then the woman thoughts were interrupted quite rudely by the sound of a drunkard chastising a poor servant girl who had not yet fixed him a glass of wine. As she found the face of the man the voice belonged to, her own screwed up in disapproval. He seemed to be shouting at the woman who had led them to the toast area earlier that day. Willow was confident that this girl did not deserve such treatment. Even though it was not her place, Willow could not stand back and let this happen. Forgetting that this was a different time she moved towards the man and started to speak out.
[b “I think you have had quite enough to drink sir. I do believe that you have the right to lay your hands upon this woman. She does not work for you and she has done a fine job of ensuring that everyone here has been well looked after.”]
As though he were completely flabbergasted by the way a woman had spoken to him, he was shocked into silence. He looked towards Jobe as if asking if he was going to permit a woman to speak to him in this way and Willow did the same thing wondering if what she had done would just cause more problems than solve them.
Justin glanced to Willow and nodded,
“Fletcher it is then.” He said to her quietly as he looked around and drank some wine. It wasn’t the same as modern day wine but it was sweeter and he actually liked it. It seemed they were at a funeral of some sort but not like present day ones. Still, he was remarkably uncomfortable with all the social activity but he gave a polite smile to those who passed. He glanced to the man who addressed the servant girl and raised an eyebrow. Was that the master of this house?
How extraordinary this was because every person here was dead now. He also couldn’t help but admire how Willow looked. The braid that framed her face, complimented by the dress she wore. She belonged here, he thought. It was like every feature of hers fit so perfectly with the time period. It was almost perfect. She was perfect.
Justin tore his gaze from her and looked to the others mulling around and he sighed out softly. He hoped this was everything Willow had wanted. Everything she had dreamed of because the expression that painted her face made it all worth it right that moment.
“I’m guessing we landed in an awkward spot.” He remarked to Willow with a small smile. It was amazing to see her so giddy. It was cute, actually but he didn’t put words to it as he smoothed the waistcoat down. He looked to Willow,
“Go mingle, talk to them all.” He encouraged Willow gently as he looked to the man who seemed in charge, hearing him ask the server girl for a scotch. A scotch sounded better than wine. He drew himself up and approached him,
“I hope you won’t mind if I indulge, also?” He asked. Wine was nice but somehow not as fulfilling right then.
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Anastasia looked to Jobe and nodded to him,
“Right away, sir.” She pauses when another man joined her, one from before and she looked to Jobe,
“I shall bring two.” She said and gave a neat curtsy before leaving them.
She careful made sure to pour the scotch with precision. Her masters had never been cruel to her. They had never struck her or chastised her. She knew her place. She also knew Jobe was a dreamer, perhaps that was what she found so enthralling about him. She didn’t often believe in his and his fathers ramblings about how classes should be different. She wanted nothing more than to speak out but her place told her that she must never speak out of turn.
She looked to the amber liquid in the glasses and sighed softly. She was sorry that Jobe’s father had passed, he had been a kind man, patient with her when she was but a girl. She returned to the room and diligently placed the scotch beside the gentlemen and gave them a dutiful smile before returning to her post. Of course most people did not share Jobe’s outlook on classes.
[b “Dear me, I have been without wine for too long and you stand like a frightened child! Don’t just stand there, girl, fetch me something or feel the back of my hand!”] A man growled at Anastasia which seemed to cause silent as Justin felt uncomfortable at how frightened the servant girl looked and he glanced to Willow, wondering if this was normal.
“Apologies. I will fetch it right away.” Anastasia made to move but the man caught her arm,
[b “Well I do not think I want it anymore!”] Evidently the wine had gone to his head.
[i “You should be far more grateful for the position you have been put in Jobe. Your father left you a rather tidy inheritance, but the terms are relatively clear. He insisted that you marry before the year is out or you will never see the money and it is rightfully yours.”] The woman sighed softly, as if she had become frustrated with having this conversation with her son. [I “Honestly, I do not see what the problem is. Marriage really is not that bad.”]
[b “Of course you would say that Mother, but can you honestly tell me that you have been happy all these years married to my father? Your marriage was arranged and if you think that your lack of love for one and other escaped my notice you are wrong. I will not commit myself to the same fate.”]
[I “I know Son.”] The woman rose to her feet and as she moved towards him, she placed her hands on the man’s cheeks, smiling lovingly towards him. [I “I am sorry that we did not do a better job of showing love to each other but that does not change our mutual love for you. We were bonded in that way for life and we always will be.”] Another sigh escaped the woman’s lips as she allowed her hands to fall to her sides. [I “I will not choose a wife for you, but please, I implore you to think about what you will be giving up if you do not try.”]
The woman left the study, leaving the man alone with his thoughts. Jobe Hughes was not a man who liked to be forced into making decisions but he could not let his father's fortune fall into the hands of another. It was not because he felt the greed that many men of his social standing felt, but he knew that other people would exploit his father's businesses if they managed to get their hands on it. The Hughes factory in the centre of London was a highly respectable brand, known for treating the workers with respect as well as overturning a lot of profit. Allowing someone else to take ownership of the business would mean that their workers were no longer protected by the regulations that his father had put in place and he knew that his father would turn in his grave if he were to let his hard work go to waste.
Like his father, Jobe had always been sympathetic towards the working class and worked with the aim of making their lives, at least in their workplace, slightly easier. However, it was increasingly difficult to truly know the horrors of what their class endured in society. He knew nothing of the workhouses or the slums, nor did he realise how many died due to the lack of sanitation. It was best to remain ignorant to such horrors.
Jobe picked up the piece of paper from the desk that held the final will and testament of Harrison Hughes and as he read over the words again he found himself shaking his head. [b "Why was it so important to you that I wed?"] He asked aloud, knowing that an answer would never come. In reality, his father just wanted him to be able to produce an heir to inherit the family business and fortune but Jobe had not thought of that. His father was trying to protect what belonged to his family in the long run and when the time came for Jobe to realise this, he would surely understand and succumb to the man's wishes.
Jobe placed the piece of paper back down on the desk and made his way out of the study, locking the door behind him as he did. It was getting late but he knew that he would not be able to sleep just yet. His mind was busy with thoughts of marriage and business and he felt it better to spend some time near the fireplace, keeping warm, as he allowed his mind to sort through the array of thoughts that plagued him. On his way towards the living room he passed one of the family's male servants and nodded towards him.
[b "Ah Patrick. Would you please ask the kitchen to fix some tea and bring it through to the living room?"] The gentleman clicked his heels together and nodded, retreating with haste. Jobe had to hold back a laugh when he witnessed the formality of his departure. Now with a smile playing upon his lips, he moved into the living room and placed himself in front of the fire by pulling one of the chairs closer to it. While he waited for his tea, his hands joined together and came to rest underneath his chin, elbows resting on the arms of the chair as he became mesmerised by the erratic movements of the fire. Tomorrow would be a busy day and he just knew that he would not be able to wait until it was over.
The affairs in the garden were far from what Jobe wanted. This was supposed to be a celebration of his father’s life yet he observed the faces of people he had never met, competitors in his field and it only fuelled his anger. However, it was about time to give a toast and he knew that he needed to make sure that he honoured him appropriately.
His words were full of love, affection and admiration for the man and luckily, they were over quicker than he expected and before he knew it, the gathering was moving into the house since the sky had begun to darken. He had no doubt that he would still have several more hours of torment. One thing he hated more than parties, were the stuck up people that attended them, still he moved from one guest to the next, talking to them about his father’s memory and pretending like he could remember who they were.
Soon enough he had a minute to himself and he found himself sighing and in desperate need of a drink. Luckily he spotted Anastasia nearby and a smile formed. [b “Anastasia, my dear, would you mind fetching me something a little more palatable than this wine? Some scotch perhaps?”] He asked gently.
After they had talked through all the details of their travel Willow returned to her dorm to gather whatever they would need. In the end, Justin felt that it was best for him to stay and check through everything once more just to make sure there was nothing that he had missed. While she was in her dorm she accessed her draw of hair pins and started to pull her hair up into an up do that would be suitable of a high class woman of the Victorian era. She smiled at her appearance she place the final pin in her hair. It had been quite some time since she had bothered to do anything other than leave it down or pull it up into a simply braid but she liked how the new hairstyle framed her face. Now all that was left to do was get back to the lab, get dressed and get to their destination. Her excitement was at the point of no return now.
Back at the lab, Justin took his turn to change into the clothes she had brought him and she couldn’t help but smile towards him, taking in the attire on him. It suited him rather well, almost as though he was always meant to belong in such a time. She nodded towards him as she moved into the bathroom, pulling on her dress. She had chosen one that did not require another person to help her into it. Willow did not want to have to coach Justin through tying the laces of a dress so she had kept it simple yet classy.
As she emerged from the room, it appeared that Justin no longer wanted to wait for their adventure to begin. He wanted to go now and she was more than happy to oblige. With an excited giggle, the woman took hold of his hand and moved towards the panel and within a matter of seconds her body was within inches of his. She knew that it was for nothing more than safety but she couldn’t help but notice the soft flicker of butterflies awakening in her stomach as his heat found her. She checked the date over and the two of them shared one last look to reassure each other that they would be fine and then it happened.
They were transported through time, yet it felt like only a second had passed. With the blink of an eye they were stood somewhere different. They were still in London but everything looked different and it appeared that they had…landed near a group of people. It was lucky that their arrival had gone unnoticed as she was sure that it could have caused some problems if it hadn’t. The smile on her face told of her desire to celebrate. They had travelled [I back in time.] Yet it seemed fate had other ideas.
Willow looked towards the woman scurrying towards them and she glanced up at Justin as he spoke towards her, nodding at his fabricated story as it to confirm it and it appeared the two were expected to follow, so she obliged.
[b “Don’t forget that Justin and Willow are not popular names. If you introduce yourself, change it to something more relevant like Silus or Fletcher.”] She giggled to herself as she played around with the names, wondering what he might choose for himself, all the while keeping her voice low so that woman did not hear her.
[b “Thank you.”] She said softly towards the woman as the wine was placed in her hand before she hurried off. Willow smirked and took a sip of the wine before glancing up at Justin. She looked like a giddy child and she could barely control her emotions.
Justin allowed Willow to deal with the costumes and things. When she returned, he dove into the bathroom to change. It wasn’t exactly comfortable clothing as he wasn’t used to it but he figured it would do for now. He brushed his hair down like Willow had shown him how to and he looked at his reflection, he figured he would pass right? He hoped so. He sighed and exited the bathroom, gesturing it was free for Willow to use if she wanted and he began putting things in place. It wasn’t exactly comfortable and he had no idea if this would be comfortable to travel but he figured, it was worth a shot?
He looked to Willow when she was ready and smiled a little.
“Ready?” He offered her hand as he held the control, standing on the panel. He took her hand and pulled her close, if only to make sure they ended up in the past together. He set the date to match and looked to Willow.
“Let’s go.” He said quietly as he flicked a couple of switches and before he knew what was happening there was light, blinding bright lights, a heavy sensation and then there was-
Justin opened his eyes, his firm hold still on Willow as he looked around. They were in a garden? A huge country house garden and not far away there seemed to be some sort of gathering going on. He had never seen anything like it before, women dressed in beautiful colours and men clinking glasses. He looked to Willow and eyes the area again. They were a distance away enough to not draw attention.
“This looks right.” He said as he slipped the panel into his coat pocket and looked surprised as a young woman scurried over. She was not dressed fancy or in colour.
“Ah- yes. Apologies we wandered whilst talking.” He apologised and glanced to Willow.
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Anastasia Bell was not of wealthy heritage. She was grateful to just be able to make an honest living.
“Apologies. I believe our host wishes to make a toast, if you would be so kind?” Her voice was soft, used to being submissive as she handed them each a glass of red wine. She gestured for them to follow her towards the groups of people.
She lived within the house, the great manor and her master was kind and considerate. Still, such things she could not speak of. Her eyes glanced to the newcomers and noted they looked confused but she guessed it must be that they were from far away, more travellers came and her master quite enjoyed their company. Still, she was a servant so it was not her business to trifle in things but this couple seemed rather kind faces and not as quick to dismiss her. She gave a neat curtesy to them before scurrying to the kitchen to make sure that everything was in order.
Her secrets were buried so far down within her it seemed impossible to tell. Still, events were being held and she had to keep her calm composure. She heard the toast and lead the remaining guests inside to a warm fire as night drew in and made sure all of them were hydrated with wine and fed. She was still young, she had much to do with her life but it all seemed so far away, like memories vanishing with a slick summer breeze. She stayed by the doorway, ready to wait for commands.
Willow knew that the two of them would be able to move around more freely if they chose the upper class and she accepted that they would need to move forward in such a way. However, the only problem she could foresee with their chosen social status, was that a woman of her age would have been wed. It was uncommon for her someone of high class to find herself without a husband in that era, but she was not about to ask Justin to pretend to be her husband. The last thing she wanted was to make things awkward between the two, especially since Justin would likely hate the idea in the first place. She made a mental note to talk about their cover story just before they left to ensure that things were clear for the both of them.
[b “They’re over in my dorm. We can grab them and be ready in ten minutes whenever we are ready to go.”] She said with a smile, knowing that she would not be able to retrieve them just yet. Willow was far to excited to learn the science behind his discovery and explore the lab for a little while. Besides, he would probably need to help her carry them. Victorian clothes were heavy, and they couldn’t go back with only one option to wear. They could get clothes while they were there, but it would be easier for them to have a few options in the beginning. Neither of them knew how long they were intending to stay but she supposed they could be gone for a year without anyone noticing because they could return back to the exact time they left.
As they entered the lab she found her eyes moving over every little bit of equipment. She had always been so fascinated with the experiments that Justin had assigned himself and the complexities of the equipment translated into fascination. As he talked her through his thought processes and how everything worked, she found her eyes trained on him, looking over at the different computers as he gestured towards them. Her eyes mirrored the excitement and captivation within her and she found herself unable to wait much longer.
[b “So, how do we get back?”] She asked, knowing that Justin will have thought of every detail possible, including how to get back safely. He would not venture into the past without a way back to the present. Willow watched as he sat at the desk and she clapped her hands together. [b “Oh, I’m ready to go. We just need to change into more appropriate clothing and I will need to fix my hair.”] She looked him over for a minute and nodded gently, moving towards him as she inspected his hair. [b “I mean, your hair is a little short at the sides and has a little more volume than most Victorian men, but it is an easy fix. It just needs to fall a little here.”] Willow smiled. [b “It was common for a man to have facial hair, but it won’t make you stand out for not having any.”]
Willow could picture what Justin would look like in a suit, with his hair falling much more naturally and she couldn’t help but smile to herself. He would fit in just fine and he would look as though he belonged in the upper class. [b “There is one last thing…I’m considered to be quite…mature in the Victorian period and it would be uncommon for me to have made it to this age without a husband or children.”] She waited for him to catch on to what she was saying before continuing. [b “I was thinking that our story could be that you are the brother of my late husband, passed from a smallpox.”]
Willow wasn’t wrong.
“Probably upper class, more freedom to move around as well.” He mused to himself as they walked.
“How soon can you get some uh, costumes, sorted?” He asked her as they walked towards the laboratory and he swiped his key card and let them in, taking off his jacket and moving around the corridors to his own private laboratory. He had the funds to pay for it so no one bothered him.
“You’re as much to thank as I am, Willow.” He said to her with a small smile as he pushed his door open and let her in.
“So I whittled down calculations and everything, a photo booth idea was good but didn’t quite seem practical. So.” He went to his desk, ignoring the beeping computers as he gestured to what looked like a control of some sort.
“You click the dates, adjust the frequency and just like that you’re off.” He said to her,
“You just have to stand on that pad.” He said and smirked a little, he was giddy and it was easy to tell.
He looked to the computer and ran some scans and checks.
“It measures everything. Body temp, critical life supports, everything and makes sure it’s safe to go from here to there and such.” He explained and smiled. He would never attempt it if it wasn’t safe, he knew that much and he was clever enough to know that dying for an experiment had little results except people thinking you were incredibly stupid! He set his gaze to Willow, he wondered how she would be, dressed up in Victorian attire like a proper lady from the region and he snorted slightly but didn’t comment, as if embarrassed for thinking of her that way.
“It’s ready to go whenever we are.” He explained and finally sat at his desk.
“I’ve ran every possible scenario, there’s no risk to life or health.” He said to her, almost reassuringly but mostly just factually. He ran a hand through his hair again, as if still coming to terms with what he had discovered right then. What they had discovered. He couldn’t wait to see her face and he looked her over,
“Will I need to change anything?” He asked, maybe he would need a haircut to get rid of tousled curls or something, he wasn’t a history expert. He stretched a little in the chair and his limbs itches with the need to just get going.
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