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08 April 2011 @ 03:19 pm
April Showers Prompt #1: Furlough (American Girls)  
Title: Furlough
Author: mrstater
Prompt: #1, April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain. (T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land")
Fandom: American Girls
Characters/Pairings: Benjamin Davidson/Felicity Merriman
Genre: angst, romance
Rating & Warnings: rated PG-13 for mild sexual tension and war themes; age appropriate pairing for historical setting
Word Count: 998 words
Summary: April, 1780: A springtime furlough should bring hope and comfort, but instead Ben finds his old friendships and old dreams turned as topsy-turvy as the weather.
Author's Notes: Don't know if there are any other American Girl fans out there; I've shipped grown up!Felicity and Ben since I was a kid, and the movie made me want to write fic. Finally, a prompt inspired some!



Furlough


The lilacs draw his eye from the sodden street. He should be heartened by the vivid color, seemingly the only color in Williamsburg this wet, gray day, but as he pulls his woolen winter cloak tighter about himself and braces against a howling gust that sends dead leaves skittering across the street, the flowers only serve to solidify Ben's conviction that April is a tease.

Or worse.

Well--perhaps lilacs aren't the only color in Williamsburg today; rounding the corner he spies a figure cloaked in Continental blue kneeling over a drowning herb garden on the other side of a picket fence, her hood slipping back to reveal hair that would be gleaming copper were it not dripping with rain.

Leaning against the fence, he remarks, "Pleasant weather for gardening, little Lissie."

At once she stands, turning to face him in a whirl of muddy cloak and skirt and petticoat. Ben notes with some surprise that little is no longer the most apt descriptor for Felicity Merriman; as she throws her arms around him he estimates that she has grown nearly as tall as he.

And her figure is, well…He is grateful for the fence between them.

"'Tis horrid weather," Felicity says, when she draws back, "but Nan was after me to polish the silver."

Ben is relieved that the woman's body, so strange to him, is inhabited by is his same little Lissie who eschews her little sister's domesticity. At least, he thinks he is relieved. There is a strange squirming sensation deep in his belly which he has never associated with relief.

"Your mother would be glad to know that life carries on as usual in the Merriman house," he says.

Though Felicity continues to smile, her bright green eyes blink against welling sadness. "Or she would be disappointed that her eldest daughter yet shows no signs of becoming a notable housewife."

Ben regrets stirring up memories of last year's tragedy. That mothers should so often give up life in order to bring it into the world is another strike in his book against the month of April. An ironic thought for a soldier, to be sure, and at Eastertide nonetheless, but surely Felicity shares his opinions, tarnished as her birth month must be by the anniversary of the loss of her dear mother.

The shine of Felicity's eyes, however, shifts to that familiar sparkle so befitting a girl of her name.

"Mother never could argue when I told her that any guest worth having would take more notice of my lovely garden than of my silverware."

"Indeed."

The chuckle catches in Ben's chest as he observes, with alarm, that his little Lissie's broad grin is no longer gap-toothed, that her curving lips are full and…kissable.

And that fighting these new feelings budding for her is as fruitless as the War for Independence so often seems.

Well then.

"What age will you be this birthday?" he asks, even as he figures the sum in his head, counting off the years since he marched with the Continental Army just after she turned eleven. "Sixteen?"

Five long years of war, and not an end to it in sight.

"Aye," says Felicity, with neither the enthusiasm of childhood nor the suggestiveness that she is a woman grown enough for a man of twenty-one to take notice. "If I were a boy, I could join the Army." Tilting her head toward his, she adds, conspiratorially, "Or I could always steal a pair of breeches and go in disguise."

Ben smiles at the reference to the simpler time, years ago, when their friendship had blossomed because he'd lent her his breeches so she could covertly tame Jiggy Nye's horse; he is unable to stop his eyes from sweeping over her and wondering if she realizes that she could never disguise her femininity now.

Alas, the pleasant memory also reminds him of his own youthful idealism of Revolution and Independence, not yet tried by the horrors of war.

"You'd bear up in camp in this wretched rain and cold better than many a man," he remarks, huddling deeper into his cloak again, "including myself."

Felicity's hand closes over his where it rests on one of the pickets. Somehow, though her muddy fingers are like ice, they bring comfort. He looks up into her understanding eyes, always so wise beyond her years.

Has he always loved her?

"You must be so weary of fighting," she says, "but Mother always told me that April showers bring May flowers."

He wants to smile at her simple words of encouragement, but instead finds himself able only to cling to her hand and ask, rather desperately, "What if I die before the flowers bloom?"

"Wasn't that the bargain from the beginning? That you were willing to die for the freedom of a country in which you might not live?"

He pulls his hand from her grasp as though burnt. "Don't you dare give me one of your lectures, Felicity Merriman! You've no idea what it's like!"

He turns away from her, but as he steps back toward the road, a blast of wind cools his ire.

"Neither did I, when I was sixteen." He sighs. "Before I had anyone to live for."

"You've always had me to live for, Benjamin Davidson."

The sweet words should inspire hope, and for a moment, Ben closes his eyes, allows himself to imagine returning in the sunshine, dropping his musket in the dusty road to catch her as she runs into his embrace. Or he might not go back at all; he could stay, and court her while he finishes his apprenticeship to her father.

But Felicity would never let him do that. Nor would he let himself. No matter the cost.

He turns to her. "Or to die for."

She looks at him sadly, but opens the lilac-flanked garden gate. "Come along then, and have a cup of chocolate."

"I will be certain to compliment Nan on her shiny silver."
 
 
 
litlover12: AH1litlover12 on April 8th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
Very sweet! (But I'm so sad to think of her mother dying!!)
What's Taters, Precious?: Lupin Familymrstater on April 8th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm pleased you enjoyed. (Sorry about Mrs. Merriman...it's just something I see happening. :()
litlover12: AH1litlover12 on April 9th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
Well, I hate the idea of her dying, but I like the rest of the story. Your imagery is very striking.
(Deleted comment)
What's Taters, Precious?mrstater on April 8th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Love That Story!!
Thank you so much! I'm really glad to know you enjoyed the story, and as for more, I'll see if any of the other prompts inspire, because this pairing was really fun to write. :)
Ni!: fairytale girlallie_meril on April 8th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
*sniffs* Oh, my poor Felicity. Lovely and bittersweet story. The imagery is beautiful.

*goes over to hug her own Felicity doll*
What's Taters, Precious?: Springmrstater on April 9th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really pleased you found this an evocative read.

I would hug my Samantha doll in lieu of Felicity, but I sent her out of state to play with my nieces!
(Deleted comment)
What's Taters, Precious?: Springmrstater on April 20th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm glad there are other Felicity/Ben fans out there. :)
(Deleted comment)
What's Taters, Precious?: Ivy Heartsmrstater on April 20th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
I know, I've shipped them since I was a kid, too, before knowing there was such a thing! I didn't see the movie till this past Christmas, with my mother-in-law, and we were both sitting there the whole time commenting on how Felicity and Ben must get married, lol. They had so much chemistry!

I haven't written any more Felicity/Ben, but maybe I will over the course of this event! There's a little at fanfiction.net, but nothing that's really rang true for the characters IMO.
Caddy: [ugly betty] j/anocoward_soul on July 22nd, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad I found this community and great Felicity/Ben story. I love the sensual descriptions and the older versions of the characters.
What's Taters, Precious?mrstater on July 22nd, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I'm so pleased you like this look at grown up Ben and Felicity!