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Prune 3 [Divide and Rule]

Title: Out With the Old
Author: lost_spook
Story: Heroes of the Revolution (Divide & Rule)
Flavor(s): Prune 3 (to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction)
Toppings/Extras: None.
Rating: All ages
Word Count: 969
Notes: New Year 1950/1951; Edward Iveson/Julia Graves. (With this, I've finished off another flavour, and since I've also come to the end of my LJ paid account & am unsure how much fic I want to post under the new ToS, I'm not sure what I'm doing from now on - maybe I'll be back anyway, but if not, it's all been such a lot of fun. <3)
Summary: Edward and Julia see in the New Year.

***

“Excuse me,” Edward said, cutting into the dance to retrieve Julia from Amyas Harding.

Julia let him steal him from her partner, giving Mr Harding an apologetic shrug as she went, before raising an eyebrow at Edward. She was only amused, but it wasn’t like him.

“It’s almost twelve,” he said.

Julia smiled. “And you were afraid I would turn into a pumpkin and the shame of it would ruin your career, I do understand, darling.”

Edward refused to be baited into explaining the obvious, merely leading her away while keeping one eye on the clock. The fact that he was a perfectly good dancer, possibly better than she was, always came as a surprise to Julia, although it shouldn’t any longer. In most other circumstances, he positively radiated awkwardness – how much of it was a front and how much was not was difficult to judge. They had been married for over a year now – a year and a month in proper and secret terms, a year and a half by the official date, and still not much over that since they’d met again in Paris. Julia could have danced with him with her eyes closed, used to moving together like this – although she thought that that would be asking for trouble in a crowded space, so she didn’t.

The dance came to its end, but Edward kept hold of her hand. “This way,” he murmured in her ear, guiding her along through the crush and out into the night. “Before anyone starts up Auld Lang Syne,” he added when she looked at him.

Julia laughed, although she caught her breath at the chill in the air as they stood there. Edward pulled her in against him, trying to keep the edges of his jacket around her as she shivered. “It won’t be long,” he said in her ear again. “We should be able to hear Big Ben from here.”

“It had better not be,” she said, pressing herself into him, feeling the buttons of his shirt on her back. She was wearing a long sleeveless dress of blue satin, which had been perfectly adequate inside, but not out here. It wasn’t all that icy, perhaps, but the wind was strong and bitter and it would probably start raining again soon. It had been a wet autumn and winter so far.

Edward kissed her hair. “Any moment now, I promise.”

He was right: Big Ben started chiming out the hour even as he said it, prompting bells and fireworks elsewhere. Edward and Julia were standing in the alley by the side entrance to the hotel’s ballroom and the view was nothing special, but Julia found herself blinking back tears nevertheless. Sometimes the weight of history seemed too much to bear when she stopped to think of London. It was her home, after all, in a way that was not as true for Edward, and it had seen so much; these church bells had rung in so many new years, now long gone, even if Big Ben was a child by their standards.

“Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clements,” she half-sung under her breath, shivering again. “When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey.”

Edward put his hand to her shoulder, kissing her again, on the cheek this time. “Julia?”

“Nothing, nothing,” she said. It was a rather sinister nursery rhyme with which to welcome in the New Year, one that ended with losing your head, even if it started with oranges and lemons and the sound of bells. “Happy New Year, darling!”

“And to you,” he said.

Julia turned slightly in his hold. “And now can we get back inside?”

“Yes, of course,” he said, leading her back towards the door, as she hitched up her skirt to be sure of avoiding the puddles. “I’m sorry – I just thought it would be nicer.”

Julia reached for his hand and squeezed it. “Yes, and it was. But next time you want to escape Auld Lang Syne, make sure you fetch my coat first!”

“It wasn’t really that,” he said, holding open the door for and pulling it shut behind them as they rejoined the party, which hadn’t quite finished the dreaded chorus yet. “Although, honestly, I don’t even know if there’s anybody here who’s actually Scottish, so why everybody has to –”

Julia poked him. “You grouch.”

They were also not too late for a waiter to immediately pass them a glass of champagne each, with which to toast the New Year. Julia drank hers a little too quickly, keeping her eyes fixed on Edward, paying little regard to random people wishing either or both of them a happy New Year. She waited till she’d caught his gaze again, as he turned aside to speak to Mr Harding, and then put down her glass.

“You want to go home?” Edward said.

Julia smiled. “You’re learning to read my mind.”

“Hardly,” said Edward, giving a sudden, undignified grin in return. “You’ve never been what you would call subtle.”

“Let’s get our coats,” Julia said, still smiling, as she put her hand through his arm and let him plough his way through the crush. They weren’t the only ones who’d only been waiting for midnight to leave.

They managed to retrieve their coats and then stopped outside while Julia changed her shoes for a more sensible pair – at this hour on New Year’s Day in central London, walking home was by far the best option, but not in party heels – while Edward watched her in bemusement, catching at her occasionally when she seemed about to fall in pursuit of her aim.

Then, at last safely wrapped in coat, scarf, hat and sturdier shoes, Julia took his arm and they walked out into the new decade together.

***

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