A/N: This was written for the third round of the AOS Big Bang. A huge thank you to Nicia for checking the grammar for me, to SlightlyTwistedSilverware for reading through it and giving me an honest opinion regarding characters and such, and to Lana for all the inspiration. Anything dirty in here was written due to her supplying me with pics and gifs. To Zoroark3496... I think he stills hates me for this!
It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on earth with you
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby now you do
Lana Del Rey - Video Games
Lilly pulled the heavy wooden chest away from the corner; it had taken her hours to dig it out of all the trash her Nana had buried it under. It looked a lot like the older woman was trying desperately to hide something, from the world or herself, Lilly wasn't sure. She wiped the sweat off of her forehead as she took a look around the huge attic; it was kind of funny how a single room could hold fifty years of life. She wasn't even supposed to be doing this, gathering bits and pieces about her grandparents and their life for the biography her father wanted to put together wasn't really her job. He could very well have hired someone but no! The family secrets must be kept that way! Her father was so ridiculous sometimes, she huffed as she brought the chest to rest in front of an old armchair and draped herself over it in exhaustion.
She really couldn't see the point in all of this. Yes, her father was running for Senator in her late Uncle's place and he needed a way to lure voters in, but this was kind of stupid. People didn't need silly biographies and mentions of political royalty in order to decide who they'd like to vote for. They needed action, politicians who were willing to bend over backwards to help them and not drive them farther down the shit hole this economy was in. But try explaining that to her father; to be honest, he lacked that something that made her grandfather and her uncle good politicians. That honesty a person could hold that would make the common people trust them. Then again her father wouldn't be the first nor the last idiot that was voted into the Senate the last few years.
They were Old Money, considered a legacy family by most people, after all and her father counted on it. Years and years of holding places in the senate and a presidency that raised America higher than it ever had been was the key to the White House once again. What her father ignored though was the fact that he couldn't do politics to save his life; just because he had the name didn't mean he had the grace. To be honest after her Uncle died the Ward family had lost most of its life and glory. The tragedy was too big for them to bear.
Her aunt and cousins moved to London for a new start, everything in DC just reminded the poor woman of what she lost and it was just too much. Her own family drifted apart and her father lost himself in the alcohol for a while. That accident cost them all very much but most of all it also cost her Nana's life. Her weak heart just couldn't handle losing a child. Parents should never outlive their children. Shortly after her Uncle died, which Lilly wasn't convinced was an accident at all, her grandmother followed him, and with her death the entire family sank into darkness.
Taking a deep breath she pushed the chest open and whined when her eyes settled on the numerous elegant, leather bound diaries, complete with the number of each year on the front page. This was going to be a long weekend.
Her wedding day was the kind of perfect that exists only in fairytales. Everything was black and white, from napkins with their monograms on the corner to her wedding dress, which cost a small fortune. But then again Cal Zabo's only daughter was getting married, and to one of the most loved and well respected senators the US had ever seen, and so no expense was spared. Pictures, Vogue articles, paparazzi were after a shot of them together, the entire country went nuts over the so called fairytale romance.
Yet everyone ignored the fact that it was anything but that. There was no courting, no honeymoon phase, they didn't fall in love magically in the gardens of her childhood home like she swore up and down in her interviews. Skye remembered clearly the morning her mother came to her room, took the hairbrush from her hands and proceeded to run it through Skye's hair while she explained how her life was about to change within the next few weeks. She had to do this, for them, for their family, she just had to and Skye knew there was no way out of it.
No way out of it at all.
"But I don't want to be his wife," she protested and Jiaying just looked at her in that warm way she did when Skye was a child and refused to eat her dinner.
"Don't be silly. Every girl would kill to be on Christian Ward's arm," her mother said calmly as her fingers threaded through Skye's hair, turning the dark strands into a beautiful braid. "He's handsome and polite and holds a special kind of respect towards women that most men don't in our age. He's going to make you very happy if you let him."
"Mother," Skye turned around on her seat to face Jiaying. "I don't want an arranged marriage. I want to meet someone, I want to like them and for them to like me back, I want to fall in love! I want to live!"
"My marriage to your father was arranged." Jiaying whispered and smiled at her daughter's surprised look. "You wouldn't have guessed it, would you?" She wouldn't, her parents were far too happy to be together for their marriage to have been forced. "Yes, your grandfather was very fond of that practice, and years later I'll have to agree with him. Your father gave me everything I ever wanted and then some." The subject was dropped after that and Skye didn't really protest about it again.
Besides as her mother said, Christian was fun to be around. Though she always felt like something was missing.
December 20, 1949
Mother was right, Christian is as sweet and charming as they come and he makes me laugh. I want to make my parents happy, I really do, but I still feel like something's missing. There's... no spark.
I'm dying for that spark, Diary. I'm dying to feel that real love, the kind that keeps you up at night, the kind where butterflies fly around in your stomach, the kind that makes you lightheaded. I know he'll be a good companion and the sex is not half bad either but I don't think he's my true love.
Skye didn't have the pleasure of meeting Christian's younger brother until their rehearsal party two months after the first time they met. She had already met Rose and Tommy but apparently Grant was away with the military or something. Where she'd have preferred he had stayed because all the rumours were true.
For all his good looks he was doubly as stuck up and obnoxious and made no secret of his dislike for her or the way she and his older brother came to be a couple. No matter how much she tried to get close to him and get him to open up to her the way the rest of his siblings did nothing worked with that man. Skye didn't take it lying down though, she gave as much as she got and by the time she and Christian celebrated their first anniversary she and Grant couldn't stay in the same room more than two seconds without turning every conversation into a fight.
Everyone had pretty much given up on actually trying to get them to get along, for some weird reason they just rubbed each other up the wrong way. So when a fight broke out their family tended to drift off because they all knew how long it could take or how loud it could get, but someone always stayed behind to make sure they didn't kill each other. Except this once; this once they were left to their own devices and maybe that was the great mistake.
Because one moment they were screaming at each other and the next her back was pressed against the wall, her legs around his waist, his lips on hers and Skye hadn't been kissed like that before. So passionate, so wild, like the world was about to end. She couldn't remember how they found themselves on the floor, with his dress pants open and her underwear torn but she was sure she'd remember the way he felt when he slipped inside her for the first time for years to come. There was nothing romantic about the way they came together, his moves were rough and she liked it that way, such a contradiction to how sweet and gentle his older brother was in bed. No, Grant Ward brought your deepest, darkest desires to life and demanded everything back from you.
Skye wasn't afraid to give them. Her hands slipped under his pristine white shirt and dug into the skin of his back, drawing angry red lines with every thrust. She tried to hold back her moans as she planted her feet firmly on the floor, pushing back against him but to no avail. His lips fusing on hers helped somehow but even that couldn't mask the small scream she let out when her orgasm washed over her in waves. Skye whined as he pulled out, finishing all over her and the carpet, making a mess. That was the last thing on her mind though, her first and only thought was the fact that someone (her annoying brother in law at that) who wasn't her husband had given her the best and most intense orgasm of her life.
He fell beside her, panting as hard as she did. Skye didn't have the courage to face him, keeping her eyes closed tight, the reality of what happened finally setting over them. He was gone a second later like he never existed, like they hadn't just fucked on the floor of the library.
April 15 , 1951
I can't complain about my life.
My marriage was a forced one, yes, but compared to the husbands my other friends ended up with Christian is a gem. He loves me, I can see he does, he tries to make me happy all the time and then I go and do that! I honestly don't know what came over me and made me kiss Grant, I don't know what came over me and let him kiss me back or lay me on the floor or do things to me that I wouldn't allow even my husband, the man I swore myself before God to, to do to me.
I feel guilty, Diary, I do.
I feel guilty for my sins but I also feel... alive. It was like my body was sleeping and it was jostled into a start by his touch and forgive me, Diary, but I want more of that. I want more passion and frenzied kisses. I want to feel him between my legs again, his hard body pressing me down as he drives inside me. It's like an itch and I've tried to sedate it, Diary, poor Christian can barely walk anymore but it won't go away. It looks like Grant is the only one able to put out the flames and I'm willing to let him do so and it scares me.
I don't know what to do anymore.
I just don't.
The next few weeks passed in a relatively peaceful manner, for the rest of the house at least because the fights had miraculously stopped. The same couldn't be said for Skye and Grant though because lust had replaced anger and the tension just shifted to something more than just rage. It was like her body had become attuned to his because every time he was in close proximity the hair on the back of her neck would stand on end and her body would start to feel warm and fuzzy.
She realised a little too late that he was like a drug, one hit wasn't enough and with every dose she took she would take a step closer to death. Yet, he had breathed a new kind of life inside her that she was willing to die for; he had woken up a side she didn't know she had. The worst thing was that she didn't have anyone to talk to about it, anyone that wouldn't judge her, that is, and they'd have every right. She had crossed some pretty bold lines and while she wasn't proud of it she wasn't strong enough to not want to sin again either.
So she stayed up at night, thinking about him and that hot romp on the floor, and about how she'd like to try more; she'd dream about doing things with him that would be scandalous to people in their circle. The more she thought the more the wetness between her legs grew and she couldn't wake Christian up again, poor thing had so much work in the morning he couldn't handle the extra exercise.
Giving up on sleep she threw the covers off of her, slipped into her robe and made her way to the kitchen. She prayed to whichever God was listening and felt even remotely sorry for her, even though she didn't deserve it, to take pity on her and put her out of her misery. Something caught her eye as she walked past the library and she stood still for a moment watching him work; jacket discarded hours ago, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his biceps flexing as he scribbled things on a piece of paper. Skye felt that wave of lust come back full force and her feet took on a mind of their own and carried her towards him.
"You seem tense," she whispered, coming to stand behind him, her hands reaching for his shoulders. Her fingers dug into the tight muscles and tried to work the knots out slowly. The small moan that escaped him brought a smile to her face.
"That's because I am," he said, leaning into her touch, letting his guard down for a second. Skye saw the opportunity and seized it, pushing his chair back a little to make room.
"I can fix that," she murmured seductively as she slid onto his lap, her long legs resting on either side of his. It was by no means comfortable but it would have to do. She fused her soft lips against his before he could protest.
"Skye-" he tried to pull away but Skye only pushed her lips harder against his and his hands went from shoving her away to grabbing every part of her he could reach, trying to mold her soft body against his. "We shouldn't," he said, trailing kisses down her throat.
"I need you," she whined, grinding her hips against the obvious bulge in his pants. So she wasn't the only one affected by this? It gave her a strange kind of satisfaction to know that she held such power over him. "Please, I just need you so much." That was all it took to break him, the next moment he was on his feet taking her with him.
Grant turned her around, her back to his front, and pressed her up against the oak desk. The smooth wood dug against her soft thighs almost painfully and her heart beat wildly, threatening to burst out of her chest. Her breath picked up, his body trapping her between the expensive wood and himself, Skye hadn't been more turned on in her entire life. She was at his mercy now and it made her burn like nothing else before, grabbing the edge of the desk she pushed her behind back against him, earning her a feral growl.
"Is this what you want?" he snarled and his hand slipped under her nightgown; pushing her panties to the side he slipped two fingers into her effortlessly. Skye moaned at the pleasurable intrusion. She nodded, too far gone to be able to form actual words and it only made him go harder. She felt that sweet release approaching but he left her hanging before she could actually reach that breathtaking ending. Not for long though; he was inside her before she could take her next breath. One of his hands settled on her hip holding her steady, leaving bruises on the smooth skin, while the other wrapped in her silky hair forcing her back to bow, only driving him deeper. "What have you done to me?" he panted, riding her for all her worth, like she wasn't the precious only daughter of one of the most powerful men of this country, or his brother's wife.
He fucked her like she belonged to him body and soul and Skye wasn't sure if that was entirely a lie. Grant Ward gave her exactly what she wanted without even asking, all the passion, the lust, the hunger to own another person so completely that the dos and don'ts of their society weren't obstacles between them.
"Harder!" she barked as he angled her head to the side, taking her lips in a possessive kiss. "Give it to me harder!" Not one to deny her anything Grant pulled her upright, his arms wrapping around her much smaller body as he gave her exactly what she wanted. She came on his cock when his fingers slipped between her legs to trace the small bundle of nerves. Her orgasm hit her like a ton of bricks but he didn't stop on just one, no, he took from her until she had nothing else to give, until the pleasure was too much to bear anymore.
They both fell back on his chair trying to catch their breath. Once again, no words were exchanged and this time she was the one to leave the room as soon as possible without even a glance back. Skye stepped inside a bathroom on her way back to the bedroom she shared with Christian as guilt of what happened again settled over her. A look in the mirror had her thinking about it though; her hair was a mess, her lips were swollen from all the kissing and she was covered in sweat, making her body glisten in the dim light.
There was a war raging inside of her and she had no idea which side would win eventually. She had a perfectly fine marriage with a man who loved her, a nice house, a family that cared for her as much as her own did... but she was twenty two and her blood was boiling. Skye didn't want peace and serenity, she needed passion and wild kisses and someone to challenge her every once in a while. Christian was everything a woman would want in a man but he wasn't everything she wanted. What she desired was someone like Grant, someone not afraid to possess her and let her own them in return.
"Skye?" Christian's sleepy voice made her jump a little as she closed the door behind her. "Where were you?" he asked, turning the bedside lamp on. Skye prayed that she had actually taken care of the mess she had been after she left the library as she made her way towards their bed.
"Got thirsty." She shrugged her robe off and slipped under the covers beside him. Christian nodded and laid back down with her, his arms instantly reaching for her, wrapping around her body tight as if he was afraid she'd leave him. His breath evened out a second later and Skye finally closed her eyes, relieved she hadn't been caught. She went to sleep with the sound of Grant's moans still ringing in her ears.
May 25th, 1951
It happened again last night. I couldn't sleep and I thought a glass of milk would help me relax. My plans changed on the way to the kitchen though, he was in the library working again and he was looking good enough to eat and I just couldn't resist, Diary! I have no idea how I walked the small distance from the hall to where he was and one thing led to another.
I just couldn't let it be. It's like his body is calling to mine, it was unavoidable. I knew it from that first time that this wasn't just an one time thing, or that whatever that is between us is only one sided. The thought brings a weird kind of pleasure, to think that he burns for me the same way I burn for him, that I'm not alone in this.
It won't end well, Diary, and I know it. A smart woman would walk away and never speak of it again. A smart woman wouldn't have acted on this from the start either. But as it turns out, Diary, I'm not one of those and while I know that he's like the sun and that flying too close to him can burn me I'm still going to try.
Lily shut the leather notebook and rested it on her lap, letting what she just read settle in. In all the years she had spent with her grandparents and the stories her father told her, she had never heard that they had been remotely unhappy. They had their bad moments, of course they did, like any couple but nothing that would hint to an affair. Lily had heard things about her grandpa's younger brother here and there but people didn't like to talk about him a lot. Only her Nana would tell them a story or two from time to time but then her usually happy mood would switch to sad and grumpy and she would retire to her room.
Lily shook her head and sat up, notebook still held tight in her hands. Whatever the story in those books it couldn't reach the hands of her father or the press. It would ruin them all in more ways than one if it did. She was curious though and now that she had learned a small fraction of that secret life her Nana led she had to learn more. Nodding to herself she made her way out of the attic and towards the first floor of the comfortable cottage Skye Ward had spent the last decade of her life in.
"Leo?" she called and the old butler poked his head out of the kitchen. "I'm going to take a bath and have dinner in my room tonight. There's a chest up in the attic by the old Victorian armchair Nana loved, send one of the boys to move it down to my room for me, please? It's too heavy to do it myself." Leo nodded silently and then he was out of sight. He had been with them ever since Lilly could remember, always by her Nana's side, loyal like a dog.
Her mind raced back to all those memories trying to find even one clue that something wasn't as perfect as it looked with their family but came up empty handed. Curiosity was eating her up inside so instead of a bath she took a quick shower and by the time she was in her PJs her food was waiting for her and the wooden chest was resting beside her bed. Settling back against the fluffy pillows she pulled the tray with the food closer to her and picked another notebook.
Just like Skye had predicted, their get togethers went from quick shags to a full out affair. Sometimes they talked, sometimes they didn't but it was clear to both of them that whatever there was between them was evolving to something so much bigger than what they thought. They didn't question what it was though, they both could feel it down to their bones and that was enough.
"What was it like?" she whispered, raising her eyes to look at him. It was one of the rare occasions that Christian was out of town so that meant she was free to spend her night in Grant's bed. Nights like this, they didn't get much sleep, she wanted him as many times as possible and he had no problem with it.
The dim light cast shadows on the side of his face and Skye took him in. His dark hair, the trademark Ward high cheek bones, his full lips; he truly looked like a Greek God's statue. So much perfection couldn't be possible. Something skirted inside her and Skye pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She didn't have the willpower to deal with her real feelings now.
"What was what like?" he asked as he put his cigarette out. His arm tightened around her waist and he turned on his side, laying down beside her. Her heart might have skipped a beat or two or maybe twenty but he didn't need to know that.
"The war against Hitler," she said softly and his eyes darkened. "Christian said you were in a special team. He's quite proud of you for it. Said you were the first Ward in ages to actually man up and do something so brave." That one earned her a small laugh from him and she smiled in return relieved that her question hadn't ruined the mood. It was no secret that Grant wasn't too fond of talking about his time as a soldier. But then again she suspected that no one would be willing to share such horrors. Contrary to popular belief a war was never something to brag about no matter how much most Americans wanted to believe that.
Christian was rather proud of his little brother though and would talk about it all the time. Skye was present when quite a few stories about Captain America and his special team were told, especially by her Uncle Phil who had a small man crush on the famous hero and his squad. Their tales of bringing down one Hydra base after the other were known all across the globe. Steve Rogers was truly a remarkable human being and a great leader, and even though he fell for his country at a very young age his legacy never withered. The Howling Commandos honoured his memory by finishing what he started.
"I don't really remember much to be honest. It's all a blur of bombs, gunshots and death," he admitted quietly and something told her it was the first time he had done so. "We lost many people but we also won our freedom. God knows what Hitler would have done if he actually made his plans come true."
"I wish I could have been there," she offered in return.
"I'm glad you weren't," he said sharply and Skye's eyes narrowed into two tiny slits.
"Why?" she asked, her voice dripping venom, already gearing up for a fight. "Because I'm a woman and we're weak?" It wouldn't be the first time someone said that to her, men in their circles were very fond of pointing out how 'fragile' their other halves were. She sat up pulling the sheet with her, covering her breasts. His eyes followed the move and lingered on the hidden flesh for a brief second, his mind probably going back a couple of minutes to when they were still locked together.
"You're always ready for another round, aren't you?" he laughed softly and pulled her stiff form to lay down beside him again. He grabbed her chin gently and forced her eyes to meet his. "No, not because you are a woman. Because I don't wish what I saw even on my worst enemy. You're too innocent and I'd like it to stay that way for as long as possible." He kissed her nose, resting his forehead against hers.
"I'm far from innocent and you know it," she said saucily as her hand slipped between them, their almost fight already forgotten. He choked back a moan as her slender fingers wrapped around his hard length and that was all he needed. He pushed her on her back gently and settled between her legs.
"Trust me," he groaned as he slipped inside her welcoming body once more. "I know very, very well."
June 30th, 1951
There's a heavy weight on my heart when he's not around. Like an elephant is sitting on it and I can't breathe, Diary, I swear. But there's nothing I can do about it, I have to keep up appearances so I go to party diners with Christian, smile and make small talk with all of our friends and play dress up with my mother in law and Rosie.
My mind is always with him, though. He had to leave on an important trip to New York and couldn't share information with anyone about it. Is it really a business trip or has he found another woman, Diary? I know I have no right to ask from him to stay alone his entire life but I don't think I'll be able to bear seeing him with another. That might actually be my breaking point.
Him in another woman's arms!
Dear Lord, even the mere thought of it tears me apart.
He was gone for a good two months and in those eight weeks all she learned about him was that he was okay. There was no way for them to communicate directly because every call went through Christian's office, just like the letters. Whatever she learned was from her mother in law and even Lillian didn't know much. The men of the family were being too secretive and it drove Skye mad.
Years later Skye would swear that the moment she saw his car drive up to the mansion in the dark of the night her heart stopped for several seconds before she leapt to their bedroom to wake up Christian. If her husband noticed her excitement he never said a thing. He did hug his brother tight, however, slapping a hand over the younger man's back. Skye stayed in the back of the room, content to just look at him. Their gazes locked several times and the longing in his eyes made her own body crave for him more.
Finally they stole some time away the next day and snuck to one of the guest rooms in the east wing of the house, the one that no one really stepped foot in. He barely let the door close behind them before he pushed her up against it, his lips searching for hers desperately and Skye couldn't blame him, she felt exactly the same.
"I missed you," he breathed between pulls of their lips, one of his hands on the back of her neck, the other on her waist pushing her closer to him.
"I missed you more," she whined and her fingers laced in his soft hair. Nothing more was said after that, well, nothing that required words. Half an hour later they lay together on the soft sheets, tangled in a mess of limbs.
"I'm leaving again in a few days."
"What? Why?" She shot up not bothering to hide her naked flesh. He reached out to smooth her frown but Skye pulled away; he had just gotten back, it was unfair for him to leave again.
"I'm not done yet with business." His words fell over her like a bucket of cold water. Whatever that business was Skye didn't want him involved. Something inside her told her that it would bring bad news.
"But you just got back!"
"I'll be gone for a week at most, sweetheart," he assured her and tried to pull her back into his arms. She followed him without much protest, burying her head against the crook of his neck. "It's not something I can avoid." He tried to kiss her pout away but nothing could fix her sore mood. "Why don't you come with me?" he offered and her ears perked up.
"To New York." Skye looked at him surprised that he would actually suggest something like that, spending an entire week alone with her.
"Do you want to come?" He cut her off.
"Yes!" she nodded, excited.
"I'll figure something out," he smiled and pulled her in for a kiss, New York forgotten as they got to travel to places more familiar and way more magical.
The discussion was picked up three days later by her loving husband and it surprised her like nothing else.
"How would you feel about a few days off to get away?" Christian asked one morning over coffee, his hand gently cupping hers, bringing her knuckles up to his lips to press tender kisses.
"You and I?" she smiled seductively and leaned towards him, his eyes swept quickly down to take a good look at her cleavage but like the gentleman he was only for the appropriate time. Fun as her affair with Grant was, she was still married and some standards had to be met. She couldn't ignore her husband's desires just because hers were constantly sated and Christian like any hot blooded male had quite a few of them.
"Kind of," he grimaced and Skye graced him with a wary glance.
"I'm not going to the country side with your mother again," she clarified as the last time they were there came rushing back. Sometimes her mother in law didn't know what having boundaries meant and while they were on a family vacation and she and Christian were having some alone time she had burst into their room and the rest as they say was history.
"No, you're not going anywhere with Mother," he smiled cheekily, obviously remembering the same incident. "Grant is going back to New York for a few days. I know you've never been there and I was wondering if you'd like to join him."
"Don't be ridiculous, your brother hates me," she said, taking a sip from her tea. 'We also kind of fuck each other into oblivion too' she wanted to add but the words got caught up in her throat.
"Actually it was his idea, something about a bonding exercise or something," Christian assured her, placing another kiss on the inside of her wrist. "Besides we have friends up there that would love to meet you! They've been asking for you all the time, they're almost convinced that I made you up." He leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to her lips and Skye only deepened it, suddenly in the mood to play with him.
"I'd love to," she whispered, her fingers already reaching to undo the buttons on his shirt but his hand on her wrist stopped her.
"Tonight," he promised, pecking her lips quickly and then he was gone. The guilt of what was going to happen came back full force though. She knew that Grant had set it up just so they could have a week to themselves, a week to cheat on her loving husband, but still she couldn't find it in herself to say 'no', to put an end to it.
She loved Christian, she did, but not in the way a wife loved her husband. Even when they came together most of the time her mind would drift back to Grant, to how his touches felt, how his kisses tasted, how his voice sounded when he emptied himself inside of her. Grant was it for her and it killed her inside that the only thing she could get from him were stolen moments. If only he had come into her life a day sooner than Christian, if only he was the one her father had chosen to merge the two families together.
The days came and went and before she knew it Christian was driving them both to the airport, they'd travel by plane, Grant had said, no matter how much Skye had protested. She'd rather they spend a few days on the road than get on a machine that was supposed to fly. It was safe, both Christian and Grant had said, much safer than any other transportation means and saved them a lot of time. That way she'd have a full week to enjoy New York instead of just a day or two.
"Scared?" Grant teased as they buckled up and she nodded not trusting her voice. "Want anything to drink?" he asked, taking her small hand in his larger one, placing light kisses on her knuckles.
"Do you have Valium on you?" she bit back sarcastically, her free hand holding on to the armrest for dear life. He gave her a soft laugh and pushed a button over their heads. Soon after a tall blonde that couldn't be older than her came swaying down the aisle between the seats.
"Could we please have two glasses of wine?" Grant smiled at her and the young woman almost fell over herself trying to get the drinks as soon as possible.
"Such a charmer," Skye taunted, her gaze locking with his.
"I'll show you charm as soon as we're inside our hotel room," he said and his words sent a tingle down her spine.
Sixty minutes and two and a half glasses of wine later, Skye was a little bit on the tipsy side and all her nervousness from the trip had gone away. She curled up on his side on the ride to their hotel and let the night lights of New York lull her to sleep. She woke up the next morning rather refreshed, a barely there headache the only thorn in her good mood, to the smell of fresh coffee and croissants.
"Good morning, Sleeping Beauty!" Grant smiled handing her a cup of tea. "How are you feeling?"
"My head hurts," she mumbled, taking a seat beside him on the small couch.
"That wine really got you, didn't it?" he teased, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "Is it bad enough you'd want to go back to bed?"
"I wanna go back to bed but not alone." She placed her cup on the table and climbed on his lap, her nightgown riding up her full thighs. Skye purred as her lips touched his and his arms wrapped around her trim waist.
"I like the way you think," he breathed as they pulled apart. "But I have work to do." Skye's face fell and he reached up to smooth the frown lines on her forehead. "No, no frowning. I have to get to this meeting, but I'll be back by noon and then we can take a walk around. I've already made plans for dinner. "
"I hoped you'd stay with me." Skye batted her eyelashes, baiting him, but just this once he didn't bite.
"It's only for today, after that I'm all yours. Go back to bed, sleep a few more hours. We're gonna have a long day. There are some people I'd like you to meet," he said cryptically.
"People?" she asked slowly.
"Friends." Grant rolled the word around in a way that left no arguments on what those friends knew about them.
"They..." she trailed off and he nodded.
"You'll understand when you meet them." He dropped a last kiss on her lips, grabbed his jacket and left her alone in their luxurious suite.
Time passed faster than she thought and between strolling the streets of New York and looking at monuments she had no idea how dinner time rolled around. Her mind raced back to all the things they did together as she got ready. How they walked hand in hand, and how he had his arm around her waist the entire day, and how they sneaked a kiss or two and no one even noticed. Things only couples did, because they could be that here, they could be a couple under the New York sky where no one knew who they were.
"You look beautiful," he whispered in her ear and his arms wrapped around her waist from behind, pulling her body flush against his. Skye smiled, catching his gaze through the mirror as she rested her head back against his chest, just enjoying being here with him, just the two of them. Her eyes dropped closed a moment later though, when his free hand slipped under her dress and past the silk of her underwear, tracing the sensitive flesh lazily.
"We're gonna be late," she moaned and her fingers wrapped around the edge of the vanity mirror when he slipped two digits inside her effortlessly. He ignored her weak protest and his lips found her neck.
"They can wait," he mumbled and Skye realised that she really didn't care either.
They indeed were half an hour late and Grant's friends weren't happy with him. They did love Skye though and Skye loved them back. In the four hours they spent with Peggy and Jack never once did they mention the fact that Skye was married and to Grant's brother no less. They did however talk politics and art and philosophy and Skye was happy to discover that she and Peggy shared quite a few common views on various subjects.
From what she gathered Peggy was Grant's Commander while in the army and for a woman their age that was a big thing. They talked about what it was like a lot, about the war, about how chauvinistic and arrogant men were, so much so that they refused to acknowledge that Peggy did twice the job a man did and with much better results. What surprised her even more was the level of admiration and respect Grant showed for that woman; that was one thing she didn't expect from her uptight soldier.
"You make him happy." Peggy's soft voice brought her out of her thoughts, her British accent making her words more pronounced. Grant and Jack, Peggy's husband, had stepped out for a smoke leaving the two ladies to their own devices. Skye's eyes lowered to the floor in shame and Peggy reached for her hand squeezing gently. "I'm not judging you," she whispered almost to herself. "I know enough of true love to know that you can't control who you fall for or how long it will last. Live it up now that it's here and you have it because you never know how cruel fate can be to you."
"Tr-true lo-love?" Skye stuttered making Peggy smile knowingly. It felt like the older woman was in on some secret that Skye didn't quite know.
"You might not see it now. I give it a few more months and you'll know what I'm talking about. There's going to be a point in your life that you'll feel like he's the air you breathe and trust me it's the most amazing thing in the world but high as that feeling might get you it can also bring you down to earth rather quickly." Jack and Grant came back before Skye could say anything and the conversation was cut short.
October 15th, 1951
New York was everything I ever dreamed of, pure paradise. An entire week spent wrapped around him, late mornings in bed together, walks around the city hand in hand, dinners with Peggy and Jack. I dreaded the moment we had to come back to Boston but sadly it couldn't be avoided. I'd give everything to stay in that moment, Diary, in that hotel room alone with him. But everything comes to an end and our get away wasn't the exception.
Enough of that though, New York or not there's nothing that can keep us apart. That trip was an amazing experience in more than one, for starters I finally got a small glimpse of the man behind the façade he wears every day. He's not half as moody or stoic as he leads people to believe. Quite the opposite actually, the Grant Ward I saw around his friends was a little sarcastic shit that sassed everyone.
My mind keeps going back to Peggy's words. Can she be right? Can this be what I was longing for? I'm too scared to find out to be honest, it started off as something purely sexual but things changed fast and I don't know how. I can feel it however, down to my core and I think he does too.
Thanksgiving came but not alone.
Skye could barely keep what she knew a secret. Grant had suspected something but he didn't say anything, only he'd look at her funny for a while and then shake his head and go back to his work. Christian on the other hand was obliviously happy.
She sighed as she pulled her belt off. She would go without it, the only thing it did was restrict her and her doctor had made it clear that she should avoid tight clothing. She slipped out of the skirt and opted for a more free looking dress. She gazed at her reflection for a few minutes, there was no sign giving away her situation but Skye could see small changes. For starters her stomach was firmer and her breasts were slightly fuller, filling her bra just fine and even spilling a little out of it. Yes, shopping was definitely on the to-do list. She curved her arm around the non existent bump and smiled to herself again. New York had been indeed the best time of her life.
She was happy with the news Lance gave her but she went straight to cloud nine when he confirmed what she suspected. There was no way for Christian to be responsible for her situation, the dates didn't match, but she'd find a way to cover it up. Besides, who was going to question her on her loyalty to her husband, anyway?
"Skye?" Christian called from the small drawing room adjoined to their bedroom. "Are you ready?"
"Yes!" she answered as she stepped inside, fixing her earrings. "How do I look?" She twirled around and the red dress puffed out.
"Beautiful as always," her husband breathed, coming to a stop before her. He reached out and tugged a dark strand of silky hair behind her ear lovingly. "Red really does suit you very well." Skye couldn't help but return an affectionate smile. "Shall we?"
Conversations were buzzing around the table but Skye's mind was focused only on one thing. She planned to announce it as soon as they were done eating but now that the moment was close she didn't feel quite as courageous, worry replacing her excitement. Christian asked her several times if she was alright and why she was fidgeting so much and Grant had caught her eye several times across the table, the same question swimming in his dark gaze. She ignored both of them though, choosing to talk to her parents and spend the rest of the time eating because her appetite had picked up quite a lot.
"Excuse me!" She didn't realise she was on her feet until the words left her mouth. The entire table fell into a gravely silence and a couple dozen eyes focused on her, but two pairs burned holes through her body though. "I have something to be thankful for this year more than any other year before. I have someone that loves me more than a woman could ever ask." Her gaze rested on Christian, who gave her a smile in return and then flicked to Grant, enough for him to realise that she was talking about him too. "A family that still has all their members, we're all healthy, we are all happy and I'm thankful for that too." They all raised their glasses in salute but she stopped them with a hand. "But that's not all! I'm pregnant!" she breathed and a moment later a loud buzz spread over the table again.
Christian's arms wrapped around her and his lips kissed her and then her parents were there and her in laws and Thomas with Rosie but Skye's eyes searched wildly for him. Grant was nowhere to be seen though, he had disappeared into thin air and it tore her heart in two. Her mind held only bad thoughts. For a moment she believed that he'd want this child, their child, as much as she did but apparently she was wrong. She didn't have time for that now, though, a celebration was in order according to her husband.
How did the British saying go?
Keep calm and carry on.
That's what she had to do.
He drove her mad on days like these. No one saw him after he left the table and it was like he'd dropped off the face of the Earth for the next five days. Between the morning sickness that was starting to settle in, the gossip around her pregnancy and her mother along with her mother-in-law coddling her, Skye had no free time to think about Grant and how he felt about this. This child was first and foremost hers and if Grant didn't want to be a part of its life Christian would be more than enough. Her husband had mentioned quite a few times the last six months how he'd like for them to have a baby and she kept avoiding the subject by claiming they were too young.
She mentioned Grant's disappearance to Christian the third morning he was gone, making small talk over the fact that his younger brother was the only person in this town that didn't congratulate them on the news. She was about to give birth to the first Ward of the next generation after all. Her husband though brushed it off with the excuse that after the war his brother tended to go rogue a lot. It was a miracle, really, that he stuck around for as long as he did this time.
She sighed as she turned on her side. Sadly for her, while their families kept her busy during the day, at night her worry combined with the steadily increasing anger came rushing back. Christian snored peacefully beside her, annoying her even more. Giving up on sleep she finally threw the covers away from her body, slipped on her robe and made her way to the kitchen. A glass of milk with some chocolate cookies was very much needed.
A small scream escaped her as two strong arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her inside the library. A large hand over her mouth muffled the sound and Skye settled back when the familiar scent flooded her senses. Grant let her go as soon as the door closed securely behind them. Her eyes ran over him once, twice and her heart broke at the miserable view before her. He looked like he hadn't slept in days, the dark circles evident under his hollow eyes, there was a thick layer of scruff on his face and his clothes were the same ones he'd worn that night.
"You asshole!" Anger was the first emotion that caught up with her after the surprise wore off. "I was worried about you!" Her fists came hard down against his chest again and again, and he let her for a while, let her get it all out.
"God, I missed you," he whispered to himself and finally pulled her into his arms for a kiss. Skye tried to pretend she wanted to get away but she failed miserably. She was gone as soon as his lips touched her own, her arms found their way around his neck and then she was pressed up against the wall. "Being away from you was hell on earth." He kissed a trail down the column of her throat, towards her chest and down her stomach. Dropping to his knees he pushed the skirt of her nightgown up and his lips found the skin of her lower stomach. The gesture took her by surprise, her movements stilled for a moment as he worshiped the soft skin.
"Grant?" she breathed, running her fingers through his thick hair; it wasn't until the wetness touched her skin she realized he was crying. "Grant?" she repeated again, falling to her knees too, her arms coming around him, wrapping him in a tight embrace.
"I'm sorry," he apologised after what felt like years. "I shouldn't have left like that but the mere idea that you were carrying someone else's child..." He trailed off breathing hard. "It tore me apart, I had to get out. I went to see Peggy, told her what happened and of course she told me I was an idiot. That it didn't matter who the father and that if I loved you I'd love the child too and by God I love you, damn it! I love you more than you can ever imagine." He expected a lot of things but not the slap that struck him like lightening. His cheek stung from the force of it and he pulled back in surprise.
"Idiot," she murmured, grabbing his shirt and crushing her lips to his. "It's yours," she informed him when they came up for air. "The doctor was pretty sure that I'm six weeks gone which means it happened while we were in New York!" The happiness that graced his features was all she ever needed, the way his eyes twinkled at the idea that she was pregnant with his child made her chest swell with love.
Their situation wasn't ideal but they would make do with whatever they had.
December 25th, 1951
This is getting ridiculous.
I'm not allowed to even raise my own glass of water, everything is prepared for me, everything is handed to me and I think that if I would let them carry me around they would do that too. There's one child forcing me on my knees at least six times a day and two fathers driving me nuts by coddling me.
It was nice at first but now it's just too much. Though one thing I will never get tired of is seeing Grant talking to the barely there bump. Every time we're alone we'll lay down on his bed and he'll just talk to the baby about everything. About philosophy, about history, about his Aunt Peggy and Captain America, one subject after the other. Doesn't matter if the baby can hear him or not, he'll just keep talking.
Then you have Christian, who has taken it upon himself to give me anything I want. Does his cologne bother me? Out of the window before I even say something. Do I want baklava at 2 am? Done! He'll drive the forty minutes to get to the shop to bring me some. The thing that really does make me smile though is the fact that whenever we go to sleep he curls himself around me and rests his hands on my stomach as if he's protecting the baby. Of course he has no idea that he's not really the father but I don't have the heart to tell him the truth. I can't hurt him like that. I won't hurt him like that. He deserves to be happy, and the thought of this baby does that.
I guess what they say is true - ignorance is bliss, Diary.
The next few months were spent in a state of constant bliss. Everything revolved around Skye and the baby and getting ready for the next Ward. With all the baby fever she barely noticed the people that came and went or the fact that Grant and Christian seemed to work together more than ever. It wasn't until Peggy dropped by that Skye realized something was up.
Her meeting with Howard Stark, one of the brightest scientists America ever raised, happened a few weeks later and everything settled into place. Her husband had invited him for dinner and Howard had spent the entire night stroking her ego and collecting death glares from Grant, who seemed awfully bothered by the shameless flirting. Of course Howard would never actually follow through, knowing that she was a married woman, but still it brought a smile to her lips. So between Grant's jealousy fits and Christian's focus aimed at Peggy and Jack no one noticed that some papers fell into Skye's hands by accident.
A few nights later, when Christian was out of town, she cornered him, demanding answers and he couldn't say no to her. Especially since her wild temper had become even more temperamental as her pregnancy progressed. Grant knew that refusing to answer would lead to him sleeping cold and alone in his King sized bed when he could be sharing it with Skye, relishing in one of the few moments they got together. So he spilled all the details. Apparently Peggy and Stark were putting together a new division focused on making sure that the Hydra incident wouldn't be repeated and they wanted Christian's support to pass it through Congress and Grant to run the first few operations. None of that sounded ideal to her but none of the men in her life wanted to hear her thoughts. Something just wasn't adding up to the whole. There was a sinking feeling inside her and no matter how much she wanted to ignore it, it just stayed there.
February 10, 1952
Everything is going well so far, the baby is growing just fine and both Christian and Grant are over the moon. They'll rub my bump every chance they get and of course coddle me as much as possible.
I still have that sinking feeling though, I don't like this new division thing they're putting together. It keeps Grant away for days sometimes and Christian has started making enemies even among our supposed 'own' people. They all think I'm young and naive and haven't noticed how they look at him, or maybe they think I don't care enough to have his back. My heart might belong to Grant but I do care for Christian. Maybe I don't love him the same way I love Grant but my husband has my loyalty and my respect, I would never, ever, let anyone hurt him.
Either of them.
Alexander Jonathan Ward was born on a warm July Sunday morning while his father was away on 'business'. Skye wasn't due for another week or so and Grant swore that he'd be back before it was time. Their son, however, had his father's temperament, which translated into an early labour. To say that everyone ran around like chickens with their heads cut off would be the understatement of the century. Thank God Christian got himself under control after a few minutes and was able to walk her through it.
When the labour first started the previous afternoon she wrote it off as nothing. It wasn't until late in the evening that she realised what was really going on and alerted their family to it. After almost ten hours, baby Ward graced them with his presence. Ward firstborns are always boys (her father in law had said so proudly), and if he had a wicked resemblance to his uncle, no one said anything. No one except her mother though, who looked at her daughter and then back at the baby, and Skye was ninety nine percent sure that somehow she knew.
The traditional gifts were presented to her, family heirlooms from all of them to her for all the 'trouble' she went through and after that, her mother finally kicked them out so she and the baby could rest properly. Christian tried to protest but Jiaying would have none of that; everyone was banned from the room until Skye had at least six hours sleep. She'd stay in case her daughter needed anything. Of course, no one could go against Jiaying so they left one after the other with Christian leaving last, after he kissed both her and 'their' son goodbye and promised to be back that evening.
Skye woke up a few hours later to soft words and the baby cooing. Tears prickled behind her eyelids as her gaze rested on one of the most beautiful pictures she had ever seen. His jacket was draped over an armchair, because, of course, she'd get one of the best rooms available, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, tie loose and their son cradled in his strong arms. Skye felt a surge of love and pride overcoming her, maybe it was hormones or maybe it was the unbelievable love she had for those two people but she couldn't keep the small sob locked inside her or the tears from falling.
"Hey!" He turned to face her alarmed, baby still cradled carefully against his chest. "What's wrong?" Grant took a seat beside her on the bed and reached with one hand to push a strand of dark hair behind her ear. God! She must be looking awful right now, with huge dark circles under her eyes and all.
"You look perfect," he teased and dropped a kiss on her lips.
"Did I said that out loud?" she asked, just a tiny bit embarrassed and he nodded with a smile. "How did you get here? You weren't supposed to be back for another week." The look he gave her was all kinds of weird.
"Your mother called." His words confirmed only what Skye already knew. "She said that I shouldn't miss a moment like this otherwise I'd 'regret it for the rest of my life."
"I see." She nodded though her mind was racing with thoughts of the impending conversation she'd have to have with her mother. It wouldn't be pleasant for sure.
"She was right, you know," he said after a moment of silence. "I wish I had been here for you," he murmured almost to himself, his thumb rubbing soft circles on the back of the small hand wrapped around his finger. Their son sighed in his sleep and Skye watched Grant as he turned into a puddle just because of that quiet sound.
"You wouldn't be able to do much." Skye reached over and adjusted the blanket around the baby, covering him up a little bit better. "The doctors wouldn't let anyone stay in the room for more than five minutes, not even Christian, and of course no one was allowed in the delivery room so you'd be pretty much useless." Her mother told her that they actually had to get Christian out of the waiting room because he tried to get to her a few times when she screamed too loud. If that was how Christian had reacted she couldn't imagine what Grant would be like.
"Still though..." he insisted and she kissed his cheek reassuringly, there was no point crying over spilled milk. "I love you." She had waited forever to hear those three little words and hearing them now, in this too white hospital room with only the two of them and the tiny creature they created together? It was as close to perfection as something could be.
"I love you too," she murmured with the biggest smile she could muster. "And you know," she began, and he looked at the her curiously, a dark eyebrow raised in question. "There's always next time!"
Their laughter could be heard several rooms down the hall but they didn't care. Instead they spent the rest of their time together laying on that small bed, with their son sleeping peacefully between them, making plans. Unaware of what fate had really weaved for them on her loom.
September 1st, 1952
People always gush about how amazing it is to have children but no one prepares you for the fact that you'll spend the next couple years of your life sleepless. Alexander is as cute as a baby can be but apparently he also inherited Grant's bad moods and you can never know when they'll strike. So his father took it upon himself to present me with a gift for every sleepless night we spend. As a thank you, he says, for giving him the best gift anyone could. My favourite by far is a golden heart shaped locket decorated with a ruby heart surrounded by diamonds. Alexander's birth date is engraved on one side while our initials are on the other. I know it's not much (considered to the other jewelry I was given) or overly romantic but it's everything to me. I haven't taken it off since Grant gave it to me.
The most amusing thing of all though is that you also never know which one of the family will reach his nursery to quiet him down before me. It's always a toss between Christian, Grant and Lilian, with Grant being the fastest but just barely. Alexander also seems to favor his father too though and zips his pie hole only for him. Through the last few weeks it has turned into a bet to see who, other than me of course, can get him to go back to sleep the fastest and even my father in law has joined in.
We have a happy family, Diary. A little messed up but happy nonetheless.
Which brings me to my next problem, what I knew since the day I gave birth was only confirmed a few days after I was back home. On one of her many visits my mother cornered me and I confessed everything about what has been going on for the last year. To say she wasn't happy would be an understatement, she tried to change my mind, to make me end it but when she saw that I wouldn't back down she gave in.
I know she doesn't approve, Diary, but you can't control who you'll fall in love with and trust yourself to completely. Grant is it for me and I can't ignore my feelings for him. Not for lack of trying, but what we have is so powerful you can either embrace it and go down saying that you've lived it or let it burn you slowly from the inside as you die regretting not acting on it.
I know I'm going to hell for what I've done, Diary, for betraying the man I promised myself to in such an unforgivable way. So I decided a long time ago to ride out the flames to the underworld even though they'll burn me.
Grant's worth it.
Her eyes flicked to the clock on her bedside table and Lily put the notebook down. It read a little over two in the morning, and she had been locked up for the better part of nine hours going through journal after journal, fascinated and baffled by what she had discovered. So many secrets locked inside a wooden chest for no one to ever find out. If it wasn't for her father's annoying pestering for that biography she'd never have gone up in the attic to go through old stuff and discovered such a treasure.
There were some things through the years that didn't make sense to her but she never questioned them, never until now. Like why the name Grant Ward was never spoken inside the house since he was such a great hero according to almost all their family? Why weren't there any portraits of him on the walls? Or why would she catch her Nana crying over old photographs she had never seen before, and as soon as Lily would ask her who the handsome man in them was, her Nana would shove them into the drawer again and pretend like it was nothing.
She looked at the books before her a little bit scared of the truth they held. It had been clear to her the moment she opened the first one that they'd never make it out of this house one way or another. Now the question was did she want to know more? Was she ready for what she was sure her family wasn't?
Looking at the clock again she decided it was time for some much needed sleep. Pushing the piles of leather and paper to the side she slipped under her covers and closed her eyes. She needed a clear mind and that came only after a good night's sleep.
The next morning, more like late afternoon actually, found her on the balcony of her room with a cup of coffee and a couple more books. She had given it a lot of thought and truth be told she couldn't stop reading now she had started. Curiosity was eating her up inside and there was no way in hell she could pretend like this never happened. Making up her mind, she opened a new notebook and dove in.
Life in the Ward Estate passed in a relatively peaceful manner. Alexander was growing up to be a bright and happy boy while his parents, (all three of them), and family got to watch him do so. Grant was in and out of the house helping Peggy with SHIELD and occasionally doing missions, she still wasn't happy about those, or that the details were not disclosed to her no matter how much she pressured for them.
Christian on the other hand was climbing the political ladder more with every passing day. He was loved by the people and even respected by his opponents though they clashed heads most of the time. His decision to run for President still came as a surprise though. While everyone was celebrating at the dinner table she sat in her chair, tight lipped, pushing her food around. His victory was a given but something told her that he shouldn't be a candidate. He would occasionally turn and smile to her and Skye would return it but she couldn't shake the bad feeling taking residence in the pit of her stomach.
She had tried to change his mind many times after that announcement but Christian seemed oblivious to her worries. He'd shake his head and tell her that everything would work out just fine and when she'd take it to Grant he'd say the same, kiss her forehead and assure her that he'd never let anything happen to his brother no matter the situation between them. It didn't stop her from trying to twist it around again and again though.
"I'd like to talk with you about something." She brought it up once more one night while they were getting ready for bed. They had spent the day with Alexander at the park and Christian was in a very good mood so she hoped that it might make it easier for her.
"Is there something wrong?" Concern coloured his voice as he slipped beside her in bed.
"About that presidential candidacy-"
"Not this again, Skye!" The fact that his voice rose took her by surprise and she pulled back a little, eyes wide. In all the years they were together he had never, ever, spoken to her like that. Of course she argued and had shouting matches with Grant, because that's how they worked, but Christian was nothing but calm and collected with her. "We might have a chance to make a difference!" Something snapped inside her and Skye felt her temper rising.
"What if I don't want to make a difference?" She hissed throwing the covers off of her body, launching to her feet. "Did you ask me if I wanted a change like that? If I want to burden our son with such things?" She was furious with him, the feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach turning into rage . She felt like a caged lion, like there was something about to happen and she couldn't stop it.
"Politics are not a woman's concern, Skye," he shot back and her jaw hit the floor. "Have you ever considered that maybe I don't need your opinion on that?" His words were like a cold bucket of ice, where had her loving husband gone? Had she lost him to the idea of power already?
"I can't believe you just said that to me," she murmured, and turned on her heels, moving swiftly through the huge room, ignoring his voice calling her name. At first she made her way toward Grant's room until she realised he was in New York for the next few days and then took a detour to her son's nursery.
She pushed the heavy door open slowly, thankful that one of their personnel had actually oiled the hinges like she asked, and slipped inside soundlessly. Her beautiful baby boy was sleeping peacefully, laid on his stomach, limbs sprawled all over his bed, so much like his father that it almost brought tears to her eyes. Everything she wanted, she wanted it for him, so he'd grow up with his family intact, because something told her that if Christian went through with this madness that wouldn't be the case.
Her fingers ran through Alexander's thick dark hair and the little boy stirred in his sleep. Smiling to herself Skye laid down beside him and as if he knew she was there he wrapped his little body around her. That's how sleep found her, in the arms of the only man that would never hurt her. Christian was gone by the time she woke up but his apology found her mid afternoon; a huge bouquet of daisies, a bad pun on her middle name, along with a very expensive pearl necklace. It didn't soften the blow from his words though.
Tense as things were between them, Skye still was by his side through all of it. She didn't approve of the whole thing, that had been made clear to everyone in their family, but her place was beside Christian nonetheless. Grant took up residence in Christian's personal guard just to ease her mind, and then there was the fact that Alexander was with them most of the time and the only person he'd behave for was 'Uncle Grant'. It made her feel safe having him around them even if it meant they'd have to keep as far away from each other as possible.
Talk around the country was that Christian had the victory in his back pocket. It was the first time in centuries that the people were actually coming together under one leader. Skye could see the influence Peggy and Grant had on him, if it wasn't for the fact that Peggy was a woman and their society was as chauvinistic as it could get Skye was sure it'd be her friend up there running for President and not her husband. The way she thought things through, the way she spoke, the diplomacy Peggy's word carried, it was amazing. It made Skye want to be more like her.
October 15th, 1954
Things between Christian and I have been tense, we don't fight but there's always an edge in our words. He's taken to sleeping in a guest room the past few days and I feel like a rift is built between us. He's not just my husband, Diary, through the years he's also become a close and dear friend, to lose him like that hurts more than you can imagine.
Grant thinks it's just a phase and we'll have to talk it out eventually but I know my attitude towards that circus that our lives have become doesn't help. I don't want to become the First Lady, I don't want an entire nation to worship the ground I walk on, I don't want more money, more power, more of things I don't need.
You know what I want, Diary? My family whole and safe away from bad things. Sometimes... I know I shouldn't wish for this but sometimes I wonder what would it be like if I wasn't born into a rich family. What If Grant wasn't either and we ended up together, what if we actually got our happily ever after?
Maybe we'd get married before he left for the war and had Alexander after he was back, just as damaged and broken as he's now. He'd take a job that would help us just get by and I'd stay home with our son. We'd have no money to do everything we can do now but we'd have each other and that would be enough.
I wonder about all these things, Diary, and yes, occasionally looking at my son I wish they were true. But they're not and I'm stuck within a reality I don't want any part of.
Her mother always loved helping people and that bled into Skye's upbringing. So when she was old enough to understand certain things Jiaying started taking her daughter with her to various meetings about the organisations she ran and to the shelters that were under her care. They had money to spare and her mother wasn't afraid of spending a large sum of it to help people who really mattered.
When Skye married Christian she adopted that tradition and followed in her mother's footsteps, helping as much as possible. Things were quite hard after the war and even though it was almost a decade later the working classes still struggled with making ends meet. So every once in a while Skye would give up her fancy clothes for less expensive ones and take a cab to a homeless shelter whose amazing people had stolen her heart.
No one knew who she was, or more like if they knew no one talked about it and Skye was grateful. She'd help the other ladies cook and serve and then she'd sit with all those wonderful people that life had kicked in the teeth and smile and laugh. There was this one kind lady that swore up and down she could see the future that Skye liked to talk with in particular.
Raina was an enigmatic person. She said only what she wanted you to know and never more than that. After dinner was served Raina would brew a 'special tea' and they'd sit and drink it side by side, talking. Later the older woman would gather her wild curls away from her face, and she would lower her dark eyes towards Skye's cup, inspecting the tea leaves closely.
Usually all she got out of it were good things, there were the occasional big bangs (like her relationship with Grant and later the pregnancy) that Skye had promptly ignored, but this time was different. Raina's beautiful and mostly calm features turned grim, the wrinkles on her forehead squeezing against each other. Skye felt panic rise inside her, pushing all the air out of her lungs.
"What is it?" she asked quietly.
"I don't know, little girl," Raina answered turning the cup in her hands. "But it's the first time your future is so dark. You're going to lose something, or someone. Whatever that is though, you value it too much."
"Be careful." The older woman cut her off, grabbing both of Skye's soft hands in her own callused ones. "Just be careful."
She returned back home a mess. They were just a few weeks shy of the elections and things were still looking up for Christian. Skye paced around the room nervously, like a caged animal, trying to work out something to make Christian give up this silly idea before it was too late; Raina's words only confirmed her suspicions.
"Skye?" He was clearly surprised to find her in his office. She didn't really come down here, preferring to not trespass in his working space, and obviously if she did seek him out after their fall out something important must have been going on.
"Hello," she said quietly as he stood a few feet away from her, not sure how to react. She could see it in his eyes, the doubts about how he should treat her. Skye could be kind and loving but she could be a lioness too and he found that out the hard way. He was still licking his wounds she left during their last fight. Nothing physical, no, but Skye had been taught early on that words could cut deeper than a knife so when the situation called for it she used them mercilessly.
"Please have a seat." She lowered herself gracefully to the leather couch and patted the space beside her.
"Is something wrong with Alexander?" he asked in concern and she shook her head.
"No, our little rascal is fine," she assured him. "We're not though."
Her words made his head snap toward her, she was extending an olive branch, one that he offered after that unfortunate night but she had turned down.
"We've been together for how long now? Four years?"
"Almost five," he corrected her quickly.
"Almost five." She nodded smiling sweetly, for a moment looking like that young girl she was all those years ago.
"We've had a good marriage so far, haven't we?" she asked and he nodded, agreeing with her. "I mean we didn't fall in love but we do love each other, we care for each other deeply which makes me wonder why you're fighting me so hard on this."
Christian's blue eyes pierced through her and Skye tried not to squirm in her seat.
"Skye, please don't-"
"Let me finish, please," she begged him and he swallowed whatever he had to say. "We don't need this to have a good life, Christian. You're already respected and loved by the people, you don't need to be a President. They'll try to eat you alive as soon as you walk through the White House gates and, unbelievable as it might sound to you, I can't lose you and neither can Alexander."
A tear or two escaped her but she was quite proud of how she held herself together. Selfish as it sounded, she had Grant and she loved him with every last nerve in her body, but she needed Christian too.
"My love," he murmured, taking her small hands in his larger ones. "I appreciate your concern but there's nothing to be afraid of. I have the best security that's out there, people that support me in high positions and of course Howard Stark has my back. We're untouchable!"
At that moment it became clear to her that Christian was too far gone to understand her words. She smiled sadly and finally surrendered to destiny, hoping that whatever it had planned for her wouldn't be too cruel.
"Everything will work out, you'll see," he promised and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. Skye had nothing else to say as she watched Christian going back to his work.
She found Grant in his room, laying on his bed surrounded by papers. He looked deep in concentration, his glasses resting low on his nose. After a brief talk with Peggy they decided that it was time for someone to write the true story behind Captain America. Steve Rogers was a hero, that was a fact, but not in the silly way people wanted to believe. All the public saw was a ridiculous blue, red and white uniform, that stupid shield and silly speeches but he was so much more. Steven Rogers had led his team through different missions one after the other and Peggy and Grant had been lucky enough to be part of said team. So it was only right of them to give everyone the truth the way Steve would want. Peggy trusted Grant to do it justice.
"Hey," she whispered as she stepped inside. Grant waved in her general direction without taking his eyes from the notebook on his lap, his hand scribbling words down quickly. "What are you doing?"
The mattress dipped under her weight as she took a seat beside him and pushed some papers to the side.
"Writing," he murmured absently. "I'm almost done with the last chapter. I'll just hand them to Peggy to double check after that."
"Good," she said and something in her voice must have caught his attention because his gaze locked with hers.
"Everything alright?" he asked, finally putting his work aside.
"Yes," Skye lowered her eyes to the floor, fidgeting with the end of her skirt.
"Skye?" he chastised kindly, grabbing her jaw gently. "What's wrong?"
"I'm just worried that's all."
It wasn't something they hadn't talked about before but much like Christian he had the same reaction. Grant too thought that this election business was a good thing for their family, from what she gathered having someone in the White House meant that SHIELD would be up and running without a hitch and she could see the appeal in that.
"Sweetheart," he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her on his lap and just for that one moment Skye felt absolutely safe, like nothing could hurt her. "I made a vow to you that nothing will get close to Christian, Alexander or you. I'll protect you with my own life if need be."
"Don't say that!" She slapped his chest and he smiled kissing her lips softly. "Make me forget," she begged him as they came up for air. "Just for tonight make me believe that the outside world doesn't exist."
Her wish was a command to him and Grant did exactly that. He undressed her slowly, worshiping every inch of skin as it was revealed and brought her body into submission the only way he knew how. Skye lost count of how many times they came together in the most intimate way, how many times she moaned his name, or dug her nails into the soft skin of his back. It didn't matter to be honest; the only thing that mattered was them.
Their coupling had a newfound gentleness in it, like they had just discovered each other. It felt perfect, like nothing she had felt before. It felt a lot like... goodbye. No, no it couldn't be, Skye refused to believe that this was goodbye. Why would it be anyway? Because of a silly prediction Raina gave? Because of the bad feeling that was eating her up inside? No, both Christian and Grant were right, she was just overthinking. She left his room after a series of passionate kisses early in the morning, before anyone in the house could wake up and found no one in the bedroom she shared with Christian. She thanked her lucky stars that this was the case and slipped into bed, content.
The conference hall Christian was giving his last speech in before the elections the next day was full of people. His name was called repeatedly, weaved with encouraging words and unwavering support by every single person in this room. It was really touching to see that they trusted him so much, and Skye had faith in him, Christian wouldn't screw this up. She was standing at one side, just a few steps behind the podium while Grant stood on the other, sweeping the room with his eyes. Everything seemed just fine and for a moment she let herself go, thinking that maybe, just maybe, she was indeed overreacting.
It happened so fast she could barely register what was occurring. She didn't see the red dot on Christian's forehead in time but Grant did. He did, and he pushed Christian out of the way just as the bullet left the gun. Christian fell on his knees as chaos broke out in the huge room but Skye's eyes could only focus on Grant.
Grant who was laying on the floor with a bullet through his head, bleeding all over the old dark grey carpet. The moment his last breath left his lungs, a huge part of Skye died with him too and she felt it down to her bones.
November 23, 1954
Do you know what it feels like to lose someone and not be able to mourn? Not being able to let it all out because obviously everyone knew you barely tolerated each other? Or even if I could, pretending I was hurting because my husband lost a brother I wouldn't be able to stop. I still can't believe that he's gone, Diary. I refuse to believe I'll open his bedroom door and he won't be there, or that I'll pass by the library late in the night and the lights won't be on. As a matter of fact both the library and his room are the two places no one is allowed to step in, Lillian herself declared so in a fit of hysterical sobs and tears.
Have you ever seen a mother lose a child, Diary? I did and I wish I hadn't. The pain I feel... it's just a fraction of what Lillian is going through. I want to console her, I want to be there for her, to let her know that while Grant is gone she hasn't lost all of him. I want to let her know that we have Alexander and that losing Grant will never become easier but we have to learn to live with it. I can't though, because if I do I'll destroy our lives and more importantly, I'll hurt Christian even more than he's already hurting, and I can't do that.
I want to cry. I want to scream and shout until my lungs are sore and my throat is bleeding. I want for this cold earth to split in two and take me down with him, Diary. I don't want to believe that fate took away from me someone I loved with every fiber of my being.
On second thought, maybe this is the punishment for everything I did, and Grant is the one who paid the price. For all the cheating and the lying and the pain I might have caused. It would only be right to hurt me the way I might have hurt others. It would only be right for me to pay my dues with the most precious thing I ever possessed in my life, right after my son.
He's gone and with him a piece of me has died too, Diary.
Nothing will ever be the same...
Christian of course won the elections and with great difference from the other candidates. He won but at the cost of his brother's life, and that was what Skye wanted to avoid. Sadly, while they had the chance to stop it, no one had listened to her. Peggy came to see her, they spent an entire afternoon locked in her room, where she finally let go under the watchful eye of her dear friend. She cried until there were no more tears left to spill and her throat was sore. If her sobs could be heard down to Christian's office he did not come to bother them.
No one questioned the presence of the older woman in the house; she had become a constant in their lives over the past few years. So Peggy took it upon herself to walk Skye through losing her soulmate the same way Grant and Howard had done for her. She listened to what Skye had to say and held her through the storm of tears and later when Skye was spent, Peggy told her stories about Steve, and Grant, and the War, and how they were together now and at some point, much later in life, they'd join them too. It didn't soften the pain but it did her good to have Peggy there.
The rest of the family didn't fare better though, they were all in pieces. What broke her heart the most, however, was her son, with big innocent eyes that looked so much like his father's and pierced through Skye's heart. She loved her son, she loved him with everything she had but sometimes looking at him was hard. From time to time she'd catch Lillian looking him and then she'd shift her gaze to Skye and it felt like her mother-in-law knew too but didn't say anything.
Skye shook her head and her eyes caught her reflection in the mirror for a brief moment. Was this really her? Her cheeks were hollowed, the dark circles under her eyes evident and her face had lost that glow it always held, even though it was caked in the most expensive makeup products. Christian had given his first speech as President a few hours ago and even though she had been by his side like a good wife, she was dressed in black. The only thing that broke the dark cloud surrounding her was the pendant he had given her the day Alexander was born.
Christian made sure to mention the sacrifice his little brother made for him; he spoke about Grant's years in the army, about his ability to lead when need be, and he swore in front of everyone that whoever took his life would pay - that his brother fell trying to protect the American flag and that he was every bit the hero people didn't want him to be.
She felt so tired when she slipped under the sheets of their new room, in the White House. A room that was paid for with blood, the blood of her other half, and Skye wasn't sure how she could ever sleep in here peacefully, knowing the cost it had come with. In the month and a half they had been there she had missed the Ward Estate, with their entire family around them, the fact that his room was just a few doors down from hers, and then she remembered again that it didn't matter because he wasn't sleeping in that room anymore. No, Grant Ward was buried six feet under in the family tomb and it tore her apart.
"Skye?" Christian's soft voice woke her sleeping mind, his fingers combing through her long hair.
"You were crying in your sleep again," he said as she sat up.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realise it." she apologised and finally took him in. He was still in his work clothes, jacket left somewhere else, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his tie long gone too.
"Nothing to be sorry about," he murmured as he toed his shoes off and joined her under the covers. He reached over and pulled her into his arms and Skye didn't protest, burying her face against his chest; he was the only anchor she had in her life after all. Christian and her son were everything that kept her alive.
"I miss him too, you know," he said almost to himself and Skye threw a wary look towards him. "You really thought you were that discreet?" His smile held no malice or anger, instead it was almost teasing.
Despite her instincts telling her to stay relaxed, to feign ignorance, Skye froze. "Christian, I-"
"Don't bother," he said, shaking his head as if to clear his mind. "I knew you never fell in love with me. We were forced into this marriage after all, but I could see how this would play out from the very first moment I introduced you. It was like something pulled you together and it was only a matter of time until you saw it too."
She tried to say something again but he held a finger up stopping her.
"I don't blame you, either of you, you can't fight love. I just wish I would be able to give you what he did."
"You give me enough," she assured him, laying down beside him. They laid in silence for a while, taking comfort in it. His fingers kept running through her hair and her mind processed his words.
"Christian," she sat upright again, this time turning her bedside lamp on, letting the dim light illuminate the room better.
"About Alexander..." She trailed off, searching for the right words. How do you break it to a man that he hadn't fathered the child you gave birth to?
"He's the spitting image of his father." Skye felt the blood drain from her face. All this time she thought she had covered it oh so cleverly. "You have to be stupid to not see how alike they are. I mean I grew up with the guy, but even if you didn't see Grant growing up if you look at his baby pictures Alexander is a copy of him. Doesn't matter though, I still love him, because he's mine too. He's the child of my heart, born from two people I love, one of whom I lost too soon."
Skye didn't realise she was crying again until she felt the wetness run down her cheeks.
Any other man would have kicked her out, would have despised her for sleeping with someone else, (much less their brother), and drag her name through the mud to soothe his ego. But not Christian, no, not him. Instead he swallowed it all up and pretended that he didn't see it just because it made her happy. Her mother was right all those years ago; he had made a good husband.
"I'm pregnant again," she whispered, breaking the heavy silence into a million pieces. "It's Grant's."
Again she expected some kind of negative reaction but all she got from him was an ecstatic look. Christian leaned down and kissed her lips gently.
"I'm glad I'll be by your side again, then," he said simply and pulled her down with him to finally get some sleep. Skye's last thoughts were that fate took away from her the most precious thing she had, but left behind something equally good to help her get through until it was time for her to meet him again.
Just like Peggy said, sometimes what you get is not really what you wanted all along, but it might be what you need.
Lily put the last notebook down, thinking about everything she had learned the past two days. What had looked like a perfect, happy family, almost too perfect if she were honest, was anything but that. After all this it made sense why the name Grant Ward was forbidden inside their household and why there were no pictures of him. If she had lost the love of her life she wouldn't want a constant reminder of him either. But then again, Skye saw Grant everyday in their two sons.
As far as Lily knew, her Nana hadn't tried for another baby with Christian. Not after the miscarriage she had shortly after she gave birth to her second child. The doctors had said that it would be too dangerous, and Lily found that almost poetic. Nevertheless though, those diaries could never reach the press otherwise they'd have a problem. What was she going to say to her father? Shatter the perfect image he had about his parents? Tell him that the man he knew all his life wasn't his father? No, she couldn't do that, he wouldn't be able to take it.
Something caught her attention as she turned towards the chest to put the notebooks back. A huge stack of papers, yellowed by time, filled with words in beautiful calligraphic letters. Picking it up, she rested it on her lap as her eyes ran over the first page.
Captain America: The Man Behind The Legend
Written by Grant D. Ward
The lightbulb went off in her head almost as soon as she read the words. Her father might get his wish after all, she thought as she skimmed over the pages, reading things here and there. Her Nana's diaries shouldn't be made available to the public for obvious reasons, but this? This was an absolute must she decided as she gathered all the papers and dropped them on her bed.
Yes, the diaries would go back to the attic to be eaten away by time until there was nothing left of them. Because that secret affair, no matter how built it was upon love, had to stay just that; secret.
Captain America's story on the other hand? The man thought to be a war hero? His tale had to be told for everyone to hear; his story would inspire people even now to do their duty. From Steve Roger's tough start in life, to Howard and Peggy finding him and taking him under their wing, to his injection with the serum that turned him to Captain America, to his adventures in the battlefield, his memoirs had to be known.
Grant Ward had made an incredible job of showing exactly that without masking the ugliness of a war and turning it into something that wasn't. In a way be also fell the same way Steve did, as a hero protecting the future of his country.
As for his story with Skye? That was always meant to be a private affair, something between the two of them and no one else. So Lilly would keep it that way to honor their memory.
The memory of a love long lost, of many 'what couldn't have beens' and the true history behind an entire family.
Some secrets were best left hidden.