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White Chocolate 2 [Divide and Rule]

Title: Homecoming
Author: lost_spook
Story: Heroes of the Revolution (Divide & Rule)
Flavor(s): White Chocolate #2 (boredom)
Toppings/Extras: None.
Rating: All ages.
Word Count: 1146
Notes: early September 1949; Edward Iveson/Julia Graves.
Summary: Edward Iveson had never considered his life to be especially dull, but he’s beginning to believe he was wrong.

***

Edward Iveson had never considered his life to be especially dull, even if other people sometimes made it plain that they did. Of course he’d been bored on occasion, just as everybody was, and he wasn’t going to pretend that he hadn’t hoped to marry again as much as a few other interested people had seemed to think he should. But now when he looked back on the time before marrying Julia, he was appalled at the idea of returning to that state. In comparison, suddenly, he did think it must have been dull, and certainly far too lonely. Even earlier in the war, when the activity and moments of heightened excitement had disguised that, it had also intensified his isolation. There was so much he could never tell anyone without breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Most of his work in the service had been paperwork, information gathering, interspersed with interviews of captured spies and even one or two moments of danger. He’d come home to a small, empty flat – this house had been rented out and had been ever since soon after Caroline had left him. The war had made it more difficult to travel; even getting back to Kent to see his family could become too difficult to manage on such a regular basis as before. He’d finally been able to visit his mother after their long estrangement, but she had been so unwell that it was also a source of pain and reason for self-reproach that he’d left it so long.

In contrast, now he never knew what he would find when he walked through the front door. He smiled at the thought, his mind wandering from the report he was supposed to be reading.

Take last week, for instance. It had been a rather more unexpected week than most, but few days were identical any more. On Monday, he had arrived home to find a quiet, domestic scene, with Julia listening to the radio while the dinner cooked in the oven. On Tuesday, he had returned to find her kneeling on the floor in the hallway with her ear to the wainscoting and impeding his opening the door. She had pulled herself up and claimed that she thought she’d heard a mouse, although she hoped not, and what did he think? And a few minutes later, Edward found himself in pretty much the same position she’d occupied, listening for a mouse which seemed, thankfully, to be entirely non-existent.

On Wednesday, she had evidently been embarrassed enough by Tuesday to stage a performance as the perfect housewife, but Edward had foiled her. He’d been waylaid at the Foreign Office by a conscientious under-secretary with a query and had spent nearly an hour trying to find someone who could help and who was actually still in their office. When Edward made it home, he was two and half hours late and Julia had given his dinner away because, as she told him, she knew if he was that late, he must be with Mr Harding and Mr Harding invariably took him for dinner at his club when that happened.

Edward had been somewhat puzzled as to how exactly she’d managed to find anyone to give it away to in that time, but apparently Nancy had popped round and hadn’t eaten yet, so Julia had offered her what was left.

“It seemed such a shame to waste it,” Julia had said and after stifling amusement, she had turned guilt-stricken and rushed round to find some soup and tinned potatoes that could be spared to feed him while Edward hadn’t been able to resist telephoning Nancy to tell her that she now owed him a dinner. (Nancy had told him that if didn’t have anything else to say, he should get off the line and go and do something more useful than pestering her.)

Edward had then promised Julia that he would take her out for dinner on Thursday to make up for not letting her know where he was, but when he arrived home the next day, there was at first no sign of her, until he heard a muffled shout and knocking from upstairs, and found she had somehow locked herself in the spare room.

“I told you that lock was faulty,” she had said through the door. “Now, do please go and find a screwdriver and get me out. The hinges are on your side.”

Edward had obliged, although once he had returned and set to work on the hinges, which had unfortunately been painted over several times over the years, he had to ask why she’d decided to lock herself in there.

“I was testing the lock,” she had said, after a pause.

Edward had been working on the topmost screw. “And you didn’t think to do that from outside the room?”

“I was in here, painting the window sill and I just thought – oh, I know it was silly, but I didn’t really think it would completely go like that. I wanted to see what was wrong with it, and show you that I wasn’t imagining things.”

Edward had been unable to stop laughing, too much so to work on the hinges, until he finally managed to pull himself together again. “I believe you now, I promise.”

“Thank you,” she had said, although she didn’t sound especially grateful. “Can’t you hurry up? I’ve been in here for well over an hour – it might be two by now. Honestly, I’m sure Sir Lancelot wouldn’t have taken this long to rescue someone. If there was a dragon in here with me, I’d be dead by now.”

Edward had grinned to himself on the other side. “Well, I suspect he’d have charged straight through the door on his horse and not worried about unscrewing the hinges, but I wouldn’t mess with your nice paintwork in such an inconsiderate way.”

“Beast,” she’d said, but he’d heard her stifle a laugh. “Stop talking and get on with it!”


And of course, once he’d got the door off the hinges, it had been even later still, and he’d had to telephone and cancel the booking at the restaurant while they wound up instead buying fish and chips at the one chip shop they could find open at that odd hour. He’d wanted to say something again, about how glad he was to have her there, even as they were, but he wasn’t sure it wasn’t stepping over the line they’d set for themselves.

Nevertheless, as he packed up his papers and contemplated how long it was before he set off home, he couldn’t help wondering what he’d find waiting for him today. He grinned again at the thought. Even on the occasions when it was something annoying, or that ought to have been annoying, it was miles better than the silent, hollow evenings of only a month or two ago.

***

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
winebabe
Apr. 2nd, 2017 10:33 pm (UTC)
Aw, this was so sweet! I absolutely loved reading it. :)
lost_spook
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! <3
roisin_farrell
Apr. 14th, 2017 10:54 pm (UTC)
:D
lost_spook
Apr. 15th, 2017 12:12 pm (UTC)
<3

;-p
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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