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Title: By My Side
Author: lost_spook
Story: Heroes of the Revolution (Divide & Rule)
Flavor(s): Peach 8 (all in a day’s work), Cookies and Cream 2 (fall).
Toppings/Extras: Chopped Nuts + Malt (Truth or Dare prompt Role-reversal! Julia is the one in a position of power, always being called away to work, and Edward is just "the husband." from winebabe) + Gummy Bunnies (also for origfic_bingo square “drugs/intoxication” and Trope Bingo square “power dynamics.”)
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1887
Notes: Continuation of the AU begun in My Tomorrows In Your Hands; Edward Iveson/Julia Graves.
Summary: Julia’s worried that Edward’s getting tired of playing second fiddle to his wife.


The civic function was about as enthralling as most such events were. Julia forced herself to keep her attention on what Councillor Gulliford was trying to tell her. Since it seemed to be something about how he had improved the water supply to his borough, it might even be useful, although she gravely doubted it as he droned on. Pompous bore, she thought, and let her gaze stray across the crowd, instinctively looking to share a glance with Edward, only to be reminded again that he wasn’t there.

At that point, Julia gave up the effort of concentrating on the Councillor’s words and excused herself with a polite smile and the claim that she had to find someone else before they left. Of course, she had been to many functions, receptions, parties and the like since winning the by-election two years ago, and before in the effort to win it, and plenty of those had been without Edward, but still she felt his absence. There was a certain amount of performance involved in the process and, for Julia, Edward was her most important audience.

Tonight, however, he had said he would be here, and it wasn’t like Edward to fail to turn up, not without some word. She had come to rely on that, too and she felt wrong-footed again. He had told her that he had to attend a board meeting, but that he would be back in time to accompany her. She had given up on waiting for him and left for the function an hour ago, and he still hadn’t appeared.

It would be traffic, of course, she told herself. It was silly to think anything else. But she couldn’t help uncomfortably wondering if he had grown tired of playing second fiddle to his wife; if he could truly be happy in marrying a woman who had plainly told him that she would have married just about anyone to change her situation at the time. He’d been oddly quiet this past week or so, when she had seen him in passing, and she wished now that she’d stopped to ask why. It was, after all, no good expecting Edward to explain unless she pushed him to it.

“Mrs Iveson,” said Amyas Harding, President of the Board of Trade, arriving at her elbow with a glass for her. “I saw you were empty-handed. And without your faithful shadow, too, I see. I trust Iveson is well?”

Julia gave a smile, but didn’t take the glass. “Yes, of course.”

“Oh, is there trouble?” he queried, an amused light in his eyes. “I don’t suppose it’s enough for me to steal you away from him?”

Julia’s smile grew. “Impossible, Mr Harding!” she said. “In fact, the reverse – I believe it’s about time that I stole away and rejoined him.”

Julia climbed out of the taxi, and straightened herself up again on the pavement, looking up at the house. The lights were on, so Edward must be home, or at least have returned since she left. It gave her a mixed feeling of relief and further anxiety – she was glad to know that he was home, and he wasn’t hurt, but that meant he had deliberately chosen not to join her.

She hesitated, taking a deep breath, before she stepped forwards and opened the door, walking into the hall. “Edward?” She heard no reply, so she took off her coat, and checked the living room and the study, before heading up the stairs. “Edward?”

To her further relief, he appeared in the doorway of the bedroom. “I’m here. I was on my way to join you.”

“Were you?” said Julia, and bit back a smile as she surveyed him, and took in the details: he’d evidently tried rather too hastily and clumsily to change into evening dress and his bow-tie was just a little askew, and when she moved forwards, she felt fairly sure that he hadn’t managed to get all the buttons of his shirt in the right holes. Her smile became harder to hide. “Edward, darling – are you drunk?”

He waved a hand, and then followed her across as she walked past him, sitting back down on the bed. “Perhaps – a little. Is it so obvious?”

“To me,” she said, and then, sitting down beside him and smelling the spirits on his breath, she laughed. “Well, yes, it is, you know.”

“Probably as well you came back then,” he said.

She poked his arm. “Where were you, you wretch? I was stuck, talking to the most tedious councillor I’ve ever met – which is quite the achievement, by the by – and you were stuck in the bar?”

Edward put a hand to his mouth, but failed to cover his smile. “Sorry. I was at the meeting – it ran over – I missed the train. So, Hurst said I could get a lift with him, but his driver wasn’t due back just yet.”

“And you couldn’t possibly wait without getting too drunk to come to the reception?”

Edward looked at her, seemingly distracted. “Is that a new dress? I like it.”

Julia instinctively glanced down at herself. She let her wrap fall, showing off the evening gown – a long, blue-grey affair in silk, with straps and a tight bodice. “Yes. I’m an extravagant, frivolous sort, you needn’t remind me.”

“Hmm?” said Edward, raising an eyebrow.

She shook her head. “Never mind. I’ve been slumming again today. It makes one think.”

Edward laughed, and kissed her forehead.

Julia swallowed, closing her eyes momentarily. He wasn’t tired of her, and he didn’t despise her. Why he had wound up spending the evening with some tiresome businessman instead of her was, however, another question. “Anyway, never mind my dress – I still don’t see that you’ve explained yourself yet, at least not to my satisfaction.”

“Oh, Hurst wanted to make some sort of – of proposition,” said Edward. He put a hand to his head. “I’m fairly sure it involved carbon paper.”

“Carbon paper?”

“It’s all go in the printing and stationery industry,” Edward said. “Anyway, he was fairly blatant about softening me up –”

“And instead of telling him where he could get off, you let him,” said Julia. “Perfectly logical, darling. I quite understand!”

Edward shot an apologetic, sideways glance at her. “It was rather a fine Scotch. Besides, I couldn’t leave without him, and I wasn’t in any danger of agreeing to anything, whatever he thought.” He grinned. “And it was amusing.”

Julia glanced down to hide her own amusement, trying to hold onto some part of her annoyance. She could imagine the scene only too well, however. “Honestly, though, Edward!”

He put a hand to his head again, then let it fall and looked at it as if in puzzlement. “A very fine Scotch?” was all he could offer in his defence.

“Darling –”

“Anyway, then, once the car arrived, he took me off to see the place – the carbon paper business – thing,” he said, with another vague wave of his hand. “Wasn’t very much I could do about that, either.”

Julia raised her head and gave him a hard stare. “Edward, as excuses go, I don’t even know where to begin –!”

“I was trying to get home,” he pointed out in a reasonable tone. “I mean, to your party. And I think I disappointed Mr Hurst.”

“And enjoyed doing it, too; yes, I know,” said Julia.

He gave her a guilty grin and laughed. “I do take the business seriously, of course, but sometimes – well, when you think about the war, or Whitehall – carbon paper –!” He shrugged. “It is a little ridiculous, isn’t it?”

“Not as ridiculous as letting businessmen get you drunk and kidnap you,” Julia told him. “In the unlikely event that I ever rise to higher things in the government, I hope you learn to be more careful before I’m getting ransom notes every other day, and all you can say is that somebody offered you some particularly excellent brandy or whatever it happened to be!”

He looked at her. “I have known Hurst a while.”

“And here I was thinking you had grown tired of such a terrible, unnatural wife,” said Julia, shifting over and setting to work on undoing the tangle he’d made of his bow tie. “Honestly, Edward, what would people have thought if you’d turned up like this?”

“I was wondering,” he said distantly. “When I looked in the mirror – I wasn’t sure –”

Julia shook her head. “Quite! But I do appreciate it when you’re there. I hope you know that. I missed you quite a lot tonight. I know people are obnoxious sometimes – although the idiotic jokes about you being my wife –”

“Shows a lack of intelligence,” said Edward, glancing down with a slight smile as she removed the tie. “A warning sign. Hurst’s like that, too. Said if he were me – if I were me –”

“No, right the first time,” said Julia, and kissed his cheek, before undoing his top button.

“Whichever, he wouldn’t stand for it. All rubbish.” He paused and caught at her hand, taking her by surprise. “Not really the moment to explain, but I’m going to write something – a book. I’ve been looking into it lately. If someone would be interested – that sort of thing.”

“Good,” said Julia, and smiled again, briefly blinking back tears. So, that was why he had been abstracted and it was nothing to do with being tired of her; she could let out her breath again. “Because I can’t help but feel that if you need to keep yourself amused, that sounds much more constructive than getting drunk and winding up carbon paper manufacturers. Am I allowed to know what it’s about?”

Edward frowned for a long moment, and eventually said, “Things. I can’t explain now.”

“Oh?” said Julia, returning to working her way down the buttons of his shirt. “I didn’t think you were that drunk.”

“Yes, and no,” he said, his gaze straying across to her again.

Julia kissed him once more, this time on the mouth, and then undid the last of the unevenly fastened buttons with a well-satisfied smile she couldn’t quite hide. Then she slid herself across onto his lap and put her arms around him. He leant in against her in relief, and she threaded her fingers through his hair, kissing him again, laughing a little. She rather liked it on the rare times when he was in this sort of state. In the usual way of things, there was a sort of resistance in him that was now entirely absent. She didn’t know exactly why that was – whether he had to pause and worry in case it wasn’t the appropriate time or place, or to remind himself that it was permissible to be intimate with one’s wife, or whatever it might be, given Edward’s tendency to worry too much – but now, he might be proof against obnoxious businessmen, but not in the least against her.

Possessiveness wasn’t nice, it wasn’t pretty, and was no way to think about people, Julia knew that, but still, silently as she pressed in closer and he fell back against the bed, she told herself again, secretly, fiercely, that he was hers, and she’d make certain he always remained that way.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 23rd, 2017 06:33 pm (UTC)
Aw, that was adorable! Julia and Edward's interactions never fail to entertain me.
May. 25th, 2017 07:52 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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