Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by the estate of Winston Graham, various publishers including but not limited to Pan Macmillan and the BBC. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. This is a work of fiction.
Author's Note: This is a companion piece to Becoming Undone. This fic was written to fill in some of what I felt are missing elements to the story because the BBC fades to black just when things are starting to get interesting and the book was written by a man in the 1940s. Thanks to the absolutely wonderful Nokomis for the beta read.
Please do not archive elsewhere without permission.
It took Ross two days to come to the decision to marry Demelza.
Things could not continue as they had since the last night of May when he'd lost his head and taken Demelza to bed. He was half drunk and angry. She was desperate and bold. It had been a combustible situation and now the fire raged out of control.
If he was honest with himself, he'd admit it was Elizabeth's visit the following afternoon that was the motivation behind his conclusion. She was lost to him forever. She'd made her choice. It had never been more clear to him than when he sat on the settle across from her, squirming under her knowing gaze in his shabby parlour.
Of course Elizabeth had heard the whispered rumors about Captain Poldark and his kitchen maid. Never mind the fact that there was no truth in them until a few days ago. She knew the truth of the matter the second Demelza had come in, humming to herself, with an arm full of wilting blue cornflowers. He could see the shock of it in Elizabeth's eyes.
He'd spent the better part of the past four years mourning the loss of the love of his life. Elizabeth had been around Demelza's age when he'd joined the army to avoid the gallows. She was young and beautiful and impulsive. He'd loved her desperately. There was no formal undertaking between the two of them, but there was an understanding and thoughts of their future together was what sustained him during three long and bloody years in America. Returning home to find her engaged to his cousin was a blow from which he suspected he would never recover.
And now there was Demelza.
She had come into his life most unexpectedly. It was on a whim that he'd asked her to come home with him to be his kitchen maid at a time when things were at their most dire. It was an impulse he had never come to regret. Demelza had grown into the household like she'd always been a part of the fabric of life at Nampara. Her presence had somehow transformed the old ramshackle stone house into a comfortable home.
Then she'd tried to leave him, unsure of her position in light of their reckless behavior.
He would not imagine a life without her.
So the decision had been made.
He ridden into Truro to see where his finances stood with Pascoe the morning following her promise not leave again without informing him first. On the way home he saw Reverend Mr. Odgers in Sawle to make the necessary arrangements. It would be a very quiet affair three weeks hence after the banns had been read. Two witnesses would be required. He would have to mull that over since most of his acquaintances were likely to disapprove of his choice.
If he had ever wanted to distance himself from so called polite society after what had happened to Jim Carter, this would be it. A man may sleep with his kitchen maid with little more than whispered gossip as a consequence, but to marry her would be another thing entirely. He would be ostracized from polite society. Damn to them all.
The house was quiet upon his return. Jud and Prudie were skulking about somewhere avoiding work. Demelza was nowhere to be found upon a quick survey. He was anxious to tell her what he had planned for them.
"Demelza!" he called when he'd heard stirring about in the other room. "Demelza!"
"Sur?" She stopped just on the other side of the open library door and he didn't like that.
"Are you afraid me?"
She startled at his question, ducking her head, something she hadn't done in years. "No, sur."
"Then why are you standing out there?"
"I thought…" she mumbled.
"Come in and shut the door. I don't want Jud nor Prudie overhearing what I'm about to say."
That got her attention and she dropped the apron string she'd been fidgeting with to what she'd been told. "Sur?"
"I've been to Sawle to see the reverend about calling the banns," he announced.
"Banns for what?" She watched him with narrowed eyes.
Ross gave her a rueful little half-smile. "For our marriage."
"Marriage?" she repeated. "You be wantin' to wed me?"
"Yes," he stated plainly so she would not misunderstand him.
He stood up to move from behind the desk with the intention of going to her. Being his servant, she no expectations of him beyond the status of her employment, but as he'd told her yesterday on the cliffs when he brought her back: things could not continue as they were.
"Me? Your kitchen maid?" She was shaking her head in protest as she tried to frame her argument.
He deliberately crowded her back against the door to prevent escape. "No, not my kitchen maid, you, Demelza."
"Why?" she whispered, her breath coming in shallow pants as her panic started to rise.
"Why not?" Ross buried his nose in her untamed red curls, still warm from the sunshine, breathing in the earthy scents of sunbaked soil and green growing things that clung to her. She'd obviously been out roaming the valley picking flowers in his absence.
Her little gasp when his teeth grazed the hollow of her neck went straight to his cock. One hand was on her waist holding her against him as the other cupped a small breast through the coarse material of her dark yellow dress. His want of her had not diminished now that he was clearheaded, if anything, he wanted her more. She pressed into him, hands sliding into his messy dark hair as she leaned her head back to give him more access to her neck. It seemed she felt the same way as he.
"But, sur," Demelza said in a feeble attempt at protest.
"Ross," he demanded of her. His fingers dipped into front of the close fitting bodice to undo the numerous hooks.
She helped him make quick work of opening her dress, her darkened blue eyes never leaving his, silently challenging him. "Ross," she finally purred.
It was only then that he kissed Demelza, demanding and possessive, and she met him full measure. The spark between them was once again a raging inferno. He pushed the dress down over her hips to pool at her feet on the floor. She tugged at his shirt and the buttons of his britches with nimble hands and he had to remind himself that she was just this side of innocent despite her wanton behavior.
That single word, whispered desperately in his ear, would forever be his undoing. He could no more resist her now than he could two evenings prior and he preferred not to examine too closely why. She was a fever in his blood and he had to have her. He'd denied himself far too long while he attempted to rebuild his life from the ashes. A monk he was not meant to be.
She stood, watching him with eager eyes as he shed his boots and clothes. "Come," he beckoned her away from the door toward the fireplace. Despite it being early June the pleasant weather of the past few days had turned chilly on the north wind off the Celtic sea. "It's a bit warmer over here."
Everything in the world ceased to exist except her when she slipped her arms around his neck and pressed up on her toes to kiss him. His large hands were all over her, memorizing the soft contours of her slender frame. There was no mistaking his desire for her.
"I want you," he groaned, mouth pressed against her neck where he could feel her pulse fluttering beneath his lips. "God help me, I want you."
Demelza kissed his mouth gently, lovingly. "Then have me. I am yours."
There were no more words between them after he drew her down on the rug before the hearth with him. He removed her shift, but left her stockings, finding the sight of them tied just above the knees of her long legs was more than appealing. Demelza watched him with intent eyes when she was emboldened enough to inspect him as if he was a prize horse available for purchase. She had no inhibitions instilled in her by a prim mother's dire warnings about the marriage bed, instead she acted purely on instinct. Ross was well pleased in knowing that with their nuptials he would be the only man to ever possess her in this way.
He slipped a single finger through the damp curls at the juncture of her thighs, smirking when her thighs clamped closed around his hand and her hips rocked. Her eyes dropped closed, her head fell back as a groan escaped her parted lips. That was a sound he was sure to never tire of hearing for all of his days and that lead him to wonder what other delightful little noises Demelza might be induced into making.
It felt like he could spend hours learning all the ways he could bring her pleasure and not exhaust himself. Brushing his fingers over the tender flesh on the back of her thighs caused her to giggle. She trembled when he kissed her low on her taut belly. He was enraptured with teasing her with his stubbly afternoon beard when he paid reverent attention to her lovely breasts, adoring each in turn until she was near to beg.
The most gratifying sound she made was the low moan when he finally slid deep into her welcoming heat. It was more felt than heard and yet completely understood by him. They were developing a new language between them, something deep and earthy, erotic and indefinable, a form of communication only they could understand and meant for no one else, consisting of caresses and moans, kisses and sighs. It was a new way of making love for him, having seen enough years now to have moved beyond the single-minded pleasure seeking of youth.
He might not ever come to love her, but if they had mutual satisfaction in one another it would be enough.
They lay together in a tangled heap, wrapped in the old blue throw from the settle, each lost in their thoughts. He idly stroked the curve of her hip and pondered the young woman nestled against his side. If it hadn't been for a twist of fate that day at the Redruth fair, Demelza might already be living a hard life married to some rough miner who didn't deserve her, that is if her father hadn't beaten her to death first.
No, Ross was sure he didn't deserve her either, but he was going to make her an impoverished squire's wife anyway. He could do better he knew, by marrying some wealthy young heiress of his own class, but he found he couldn't be bothered to make the effort that was required of such an endeavor. Demelza's interests aligned with his own concerning his estate and tenants. She was familiar, comfortable, and dependable. She knew him, his moods, his whims. She would make very few demands of him. Best of all, he wouldn't have to pretend. Or change.
"Sur? Ross?" she started awkwardly, lifting her head from his chest so she could look him in the eyes. "Father…"
"Will not be dragging you away," he drawled slowly, sated drowsiness was making it difficult to put in any real effort into reassuring her.
"But he said-"
"It doesn't matter what he said. You'll be my wife as soon." His arm tightened around her.
She remained unconvinced and he could see the echo of fear in her eyes. "He might still come to try."
"Then we'll invite him to the wedding." He had his doubts about the man making the ten mile trek again so soon just to try to thwart the inevitable.
"You'd never!" Demelza cried.
Ross chuckled then, imaging standing up in the old Sawle church to speak his vows with a blackened eye. It would be worth every scrape and bruise to send Tom Carne packing once and for all from their lives. "And I'll deal with him if he does."
"Oh, Ross, you couldn't!" With the emotional wounds of her father's visit a few days ago still fresh, she frowned.
Not liking to see her upset, he asked: "Would it make you feel better if I sent Jud over to share our good news?"
"Yes," she answered slowly, scrunching up her face as she mulled the question over, no doubt trying to suss what her father's reaction might be since he was as volatile as a Cornish storm squall. No matter someone was going to end up unhappy and Ross had his preference. "Maybe. I don't know."
"Well, which is it?" Ross gave her a playful little squeeze. "Yes, no, or maybe?"
She gave him the scowl that she usually reserved for chastising the dog when he left half-chewed rabbits for her in the garden. It warmed Ross's heart to know he'd risen to same level in Demelza's esteem as Garrick.
"Yes," she firmly stated, mind made up. He liked that she was resolute once she came to a decision. "Father'll not be liking it though."
"I do not care and you should not either."
"I wish I could be that brave."
Ross tangled his fingers in the straggly ends of her hair, pulling playfully. "I'll be brave enough for the both of us just this once."
"You're kind to me," she said, her cheeks turning a very lovely shade of pink.
"For purely selfish reasons to be sure," he rejoined with one of his rare true smiles.
She started to cast about for her discarded clothing, the spell of the last few hours broken by the onset of reality, and dressed quickly in the fading afternoon light coming through the windows. "I need to see to supper," Demelza offered by way of an excuse.
He followed her lead and put himself to rights. It would take time, he knew, for them to settle into whatever was to become the new status quo of the household.
"I'll send Jud in the morning." Ross could only imagine what Jud would have to say upon hearing the message he was to relay. The old man had never taken to Demelza in the same way Prudie had and they were often at loggerheads. Only a healthy dose of fear kept Jud's tongue in check, mostly.
"I'll be that glad to have it done."
"I as well. I want you to be happy."
"Do you really?" She stopped at the threshold to give him a querying look.
"I do mean it," he answered and reached to tuck a stray curl behind her ear that had escaped her hair ribbon.
And he found he truly did.