Author: Genevievey PM
Little oneshots that capture moments in the life of Assumpta Fitzgerald and Peter Clifford.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 5 - Words: 6,291 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-18-12 - Published: 08-07-09 - id: 5282751
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The piece of writing that follows is flagrant, shameless self-indulgence. It doesn't build a plot-line or answer any difficult questions - it just shows our two beloved characters being happy together. I like the idea of Assumpta mellowing a little under the effect of Peter's love...so I made some flimsy excuse for the curate's cottage to be unavailable for a few nights, and voila, we have Peter & Assumpta sleeping under the same roof.
Please note that these vignettes aren't published chronologically - in the last one published, "Waking", Peter & Assumpta were already married, but here they have only quite recently confessed their feelings.
I'm a touch nervous about publishing this one...so if you feel inclined, reviews and comments (including criticism of the constructive kind) would be most welcome!
Assumpta Fitzgerald rolled over in bed, heaving a sigh and slamming her fist into the opposite pillow for good measure. Sleep was proving elusive, and she knew exactly why. She had always thought that, if ever by some miracle she was able to express her feelings for Peter Clifford and he returned them, her sleepless nights would be ended. Apparently, this was not going to be the case.
Oh, Assumpta knew she'd be an ungrateful wretch to complain – her 'miracle' had indeed occurred a couple of weeks ago, and she could now rest in complete certainty that Peter Clifford loved her. He struggled to hide it these days, even when they were in public – she smiled at the thought. Yes, that part was turning out really rather well…but sleep was still elusive. Usually she slept alright, but this particular evening she couldn't help being all aflutter – because tonight, the man who she was very definitely in love with was sleeping just two doors down the hall.
They'd hardly been sure whether it was incredibly convenient or distinctly dangerous when Quigley had had another offer from tourists who wanted to let the curate's cottage, and out of consideration for Brian's financial situation Peter was practically forced to take up Assumpta's 'generous offer' of a room for a week or so. Peter was going through the formal process of laicisation from the priesthood, and they had not yet made their relationship public. Assumpta wondered vaguely whether they'd make it through a week of sharing breakfasts without someone noticing a spontaneous kiss goodbye…
But for the moment, it was the very memory of those spontaneous kisses which was keeping her from drifting off. Knowing that Peter was sleeping just down the hall…
She kept thinking of the story of Tantalus that her Da had used to read to her from a book of Greek myths – what she wanted was so very close, and yet…
At first she thought she'd imagined it – the wishful thinking of a woman deranged with longing – but no, there it was again. A soft, tentative knocking on her door. Blinking, suddenly nervous, she managed to find her voice.
"Assumpta? It's me."
A smile curved her mouth as she propped herself up on one elbow, raising her voice to converse through the closed door.
"Damn, there I was hoping for Brad Pitt."
"Sorry to disappoint."
She could hear the grin in the way he spoke, she could practically see the look on his face…and there was something exciting about talking surreptitiously through a bedroom door like this, in the pitch black. It was somehow…flirtatious…
Assumpta smirked at her own idiocy.
"Anyway…um, can I come in? For a minute…"
That had her snapping to attention, and for a moment she floundered, but after ensuring that she was decent and presentable, she nodded, "Yeah, sure."
Her eyes were more adjusted to the dark than Peter's, but even so she heard him more than she saw him as he opened the door and slipped inside, shutting it behind him. He felt his way across the room, stumbling over Assumpta's shoes briefly, but her laughter died away when Peter sat down on the edge of her bed. That hint of contact made her want him even closer immediately, but Assumpta managed to divert her attention to the formation of sentences.
He ducked his head, in that sweet way he would when he was embarrassed, or trying to look casual. "Nothing. I, err, just…couldn't sleep."
She might have replied, 'join the club', but a long-held cautiousness kept Assumpta frozen, and she pressed, "Is something wrong?"
And Peter laughed – a warm, joyful sound that melted something in her, even as she frowned in confusion.
"No, no, nothing's wrong – that's just it. Plenty of things could be wrong – should be – but despite all the complications we're going through, I've never felt more… That's why I can't sleep. Because nothing's wrong."
Assumpta was glad of the darkness – they were still getting used to this new honesty, after years of hiding what they felt, and for the moment it suited her fine that Peter couldn't see just how affected she was by his obvious happiness. But when she spoke, her voice betrayed the depth of her feeling anyway.
"Yeah, well, I haven't been sleeping so well either."
Peter chuckled softly at her subtle admission, putting a hand out to rest on top of the duvet. He didn't say anything more, but he made no move to stand up, either. Assumpta drew a deep breath: she knew she shouldn't push him, but…
"Can I just…hold you?"
She blinked. She'd only hoped, she hadn't expected him to…
But there was no doubt in Peter's tone, no guilt at his own suggestion. He was just asking her permission, making sure he wasn't crossing any boundaries. As she felt her pulse quicken quite against her will, Assumpta shuffled over to make room for him, lifting the duvet in welcome.
"Well," she smiled, not even sure why she was apparently desperate to keep the tone casual, "I can't have people freezing to death in my accommodation – it's bad for business. Hop in."
Peter slid into the bed beside her, settling into the warm space she had previously occupied, but Assumpta didn't mind giving up her cosy spot – if the way her temperature rose was any indication, she'd warm up the other side of the bed quick enough. There was a moment of adjustment as they repositioned the duvet, and Peter plumped the pillows so that his head was level with hers. They lay opposite each other, parallel, and after a moment the man reached out and placed a hand on Assumpta's waist. She smiled at the tentative contact, and shifted a little closer, letting her own arm come to rest on Peter's hip. Warmth was already radiating between them.
"That's better," he murmured, and she had to grin, even if she was currently experiencing more butterflies in her stomach than she had in her entire life. She and Peter had never been quite this close, quite this alone – quite this horizontal – and Assumpta was incredibly aware of it.
"Sorry if my feet are cold," he whispered, and it seemed such a thoroughly unromantic thing to say that Assumpta laughed a little, and relaxed.
"I'm surprised they're not sticking out the end of the bed – you're taller than me."
Peter smiled, letting his thumb brush her waist in a casual caress.
"Oh, I'm quite comfortable, thanks."
And he certainly seemed to be. She wouldn't have picked it. Since they'd got together he hadn't hesitated to express his feelings, that was true – after all, they had some lost time to make up for – but nevertheless Assumpta wouldn't have expected him to be comfortable just yet with this kind of intimacy, comparatively innocent as it was. She could sense that he was a little cautious, testing the waters for them both – but apparently his other feelings were overriding any trepidation. He surprised her constantly. And she liked it.
Assumpta was pulled from her little reverie when Peter broke the silence.
"I just realized…I haven't been in the same bed with another person since…since I was nine, and my brother and I had to top-'n-tail when we went on holiday to Blackpool."
Assumpta chuckled, imagining Peter as a child.
"Niamh and I used to top-'n-tail, when I'd stay the night at her house. One time there was a power cut, and her Mammy let us sleep in the lounge on mattresses like we were going camping, and we toasted bread over the fire…It was fun."
Peter's arm tightened a little around her waist, only adding to the warm feeling spreading through her. In that moment, it seemed to Assumpta that, for all the hardships, she had really been quite lucky in her life. Peter's warm breath tickled her forehead.
"We could always top-'n-tail, if you want."
Something about the teasing tone of his voice combined with his breath against her skin made Assumpta shiver, but she managed to roll her eyes in scorn, even as she snuggled a little closer, causing him to grin smugly. "Ahh, I'm comfy enough as is."
Peter's reply was slow, and satisfied, and as full of warm affection as two monosyllabic words could be. "Me too."
"It's kind of surreal, isn't it?"
"That we can lie here together like this. After so many nights imagining…"
"Imagining, Father Clifford?" Assumpta teased, raising an eyebrow. "Imagining what, exactly?"
Peter laughed, flustered, and rolled his eyes. "Being close to you, like this."
"Hmmm," she grinned, taking care to sound unconvinced. She shouldn't tease him, she knew, but she had to maintain some kind of high-ground when every innocent brush of his thumb across her waist was making her shiver. And anyway, he didn't seem to mind. A silly little smile lit her face.
"So what's your favourite colour, then?"
"What?" Peter drew back enough to look down at her.
"I'm making conversation. Getting to know you. Being close."
"Assumpta, we're in bed together – I think we're past the stage for 'ice-breakers'."
"Speaking of which…how much does a polar bear weigh?"
The man rolled his eyes, laughing now, but as he dutifully answered "Enough to break the ice," the smile between them was coloured by the echo of another conversation – one which seemed to have occurred so very long ago, in the time before they were happy like this. And now, this felt so right – to be lying in bed together, talking about nothing and everything.
"And, for your information," Peter continued, "my favourite colour is green, if I have to choose one. Dark green."
"You chose the right country, then." Assumpta smirked. "Mine's red, I think."
"Mm, I like you in red."
She had just raised her eyebrows in gratified surprise at the compliment, when he added, "Middlesbrough colours," and she smacked him on the arm, but failed to maintain her glare.
"Right, my turn," Peter grinned, changing the subject for the sake of his continued good health, "umm…What's your favourite book?"
"That's impossible," Assumpta protested, "there are so many."
"Fair point," the man nodded, "I couldn't choose just one either. I do love books though – I've always meant to browse the ones you've got on the shelves in the bar, but I've never had a chance."
"Well, maybe you'll get a chance now," she suggested, smiling at the implication. "Do you good to get some Sean O'Casey into you."
"Only if you read T.H. White."
Any self-consciousness had long since dissipated, and Assumpta realized that sometime during the last five minutes she had gone from lying parallel to Peter to being snuggled right up against him, his chin level with the top of her head and her lips tantalisingly close to the skin of his neck. She breathed deep, contentedly, and inhaled the delicious scent of him – heady and masculine. Feeling it go to her head, Assumpta cautioned herself against getting carried away.
"Mmm, I love you," she breathed, before she'd even realized she was speaking aloud. Peter's arms tightened around her again, and he nuzzled in to press a kiss on her hair and murmured with quiet sincerity, "I love you too."
Assumpta smiled and pressed a lingering kiss to his neck, before sighing again in contentment. As she lay there, enveloped in warmth and Peter, some part of her brain acknowledged mildly that to be pressed up against the man's torso like this, their bodies aligned, was delicious and really rather tempting…but on the other hand, she was so perfectly comfortable and sweetly drowsy that to move at all and break the spell would be a terrible waste. No, she'd just lie there, with him…
It was warm and dark and she was still mostly asleep, but something was stirring around the edges of Assumpta's consciousness. She wasn't alone in bed. There were arms around her, and the even sighs of a man's breathing, and – what, it seemed, had woken her – warm lips brushing her cheekbone. Eyes still closed, Assumpta couldn't help an almost delirious smile lighting her face as her drowsy mind pieced it all together.
It was wonderful enough to be a dream, and she'd certainly had many like it in the past…but no, this was real. She felt his lips brush her cheek again, a feather-light touch that seemed almost unintentional – and a sleepy sigh of contentment escaped her. Assumpta tilted her head to face him, seeking more soft, sweet touches. It wasn't long before her mouth found his.
Peter murmured sleepy contentment against her lips as one tender, half-conscious kiss became two, and then three. His hand stirred at her waist, sliding up the fabric of her t-shirt with more instinct than intent to caress her back and pull her closer against him – and it was the most natural thing in the world to respond in kind, letting her fingers trace caresses on his chest.
"Mm, 'Sumpta…" he murmured, dipping his head to nuzzle the skin of her neck.
"Mmm," she replied, because anything more coherent was becoming increasingly improbable with every stroke of Peter's fingers down her spine. Nonetheless, she was not quite so dazed as to be unaware that they were teetering on a rather significant brink: one that meant a lot to both of them.
Then Peter's mouth was on her neck in slow, sensual kisses, and ohhh God help her, how was she supposed to do anything but gasp? This was definitely dangerous ground…but nothing seemed to matter in that dark, warm world between the covers. Nothing could possibly be wrong.
And, said the petulant-child-within, the last time he'd been kissing her neck so exquisitely, she'd been responsible and sensible and pushed him away. But now, now they knew they loved each other, and they were going to be together…Why shouldn't they indulge in this closeness?
So Assumpta gave herself over to sensation, for a few blissful minutes…until a particularly well-placed kiss beneath her ear caused a soft moan to escape her lips, and Assumpta found herself surfacing suddenly, with a slightly shocking awareness of just how lost in him she'd been. And she had to tell him, she had to see him, she had to look into his breath-taking eyes…so she pulled back a little, dipping her head so that her lips brushed Peter's ear.
"Peter…darling… Are we awake?"
He drew back a little, hands stilling on her back, his breathing as ragged as hers was.
"Hmm? I…I wouldn't be surprised if this was a dream. I've had some like it."
Assumpta chuckled softly, her fingers stroking his shoulders calmingly.
"Me too," she admitted, and couldn't resist kissing his cheekbone. "But maybe we should…"
"Yeah," Peter nodded, catching her unarticulated meaning and drawing back further until there was a careful several inches between their bodies, just his hand still at her waist. She felt colder immediately, but the dark eyes glittering at her from the opposite pillow were proving a more than adequate consolation prize.
"Sorry," he added sheepishly, but – she was pleased to note – without any deep regret. Assumpta raised a hand to stroke his cheek.
"Don't be. Quite aside from being completely wonderful…that was both of us."
"I love you," he whispered - a declaration that continued to stun her on a day-to-day basis, let alone when she'd just been thoroughly kissed, "and, when the time is right, I want to be completely awake and alert, and love…every inch of you."
The promise of his words sent a flush right through her, and for a moment Assumpta thought she'd have to send him back to his own room if he was going to say things like that…but no, what she wanted was to be close to Peter, and close to him she'd stay – until the morning came and they had to face reality yet again.
She exhaled a ragged breath, shaking her head at him.
"Sometimes, you know, you're disgustingly perfect."
Peter chuckled softly as she rolled over, grabbing his hand in a wordless direction that he should hold her – an embrace he was more than happy to provide.
"I'm sorry you find me so utterly repulsive," he murmured in her ear, a smug little smile in his tone.
"Hmm," was all Assumpta trusted herself to say, because she was too drowsy and too happy and too goddamn in love to think of any snarky retort at 2 in the morning. She could only smile.
And as they drifted off again in the pitch-black bedroom, Peter and Assumpta held each other close.