My first fanfiction in six years, and my very first Dark Shadows fanfiction. I finished watching the series not long ago and it inspired me to get back into fanfic writing. One of my favorite aspects of the show was the uncle/nephew bond between Quentin and Jamison, so I wrote about how their relationship could have begun (i.e., the "birth" of it). I had this image in my head of Quentin holding Jamison as a newborn and instantly developing a tenderness towards him. And, well, I ran with it. :P
Some things I want to address:
First, the Dark Shadows FANDOM wiki gives Quentin's age as 27 and Jamison's age as 12 during the 1897 storyline. That means Quentin would have been about 15 years old when Jamison was born. So I had to imagine him as a 15-year-old. I have him drinking alcohol in the story because that would have been common in the 19th century.
Second, this takes place before the arrival of Jenny and Beth, so they're not present. And since Beth was the only maid shown during the 1897 storyline, I created Agnes. I'm sure the Collins family had multiple maids over the years. :) Also, Mrs. Flannery is mine.
Third, this is set during the original timeline, before Barnabas and Julia went back to 1840 and Edith was killed, so Edith is in the story.
And lastly, I intended for this to sound as though it were written in the 19th century. When I write "period pieces" I want them to be as authentic as possible. I'm sure some things are a bit off, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I accomplished. :)
Hope you guys like it! Reviews would be much appreciated! :)
It was unlike Edward to lose composure. He was known to carry himself with poise and conviction, a quality on which he prided himself. No one could fault him, however, for succumbing to his nerves on this night: the night he was to become a father.
Judith had accompanied the midwife into the bedroom—that which belonged to Edward and his wife, Laura—where Laura would now give birth to their first born. She had gone in at the midwife's request to offer comfort to Laura, leaving Edward, Quentin, Carl, and their grandmother Edith in the drawing room to await the child's arrival.
"No reason to fret, Edward," Edith said, her attention never leaving the embroidery she was using to busy herself. "Women have been bearing children for centuries."
"They've also been dying in childbirth for centuries," Edward replied, pacing the drawing room floor with a brandy in his hand.
"That's our Edward—ever the optimist!" Quentin taunted from where he stood at the mantle above the fireplace, brandishing his own glass of brandy.
"Be quiet, Quentin!" Edith scolded.
"What do you think, Grandmother," Carl said from the settee, "will it be a boy or a girl?"
Quentin chuckled. "With Edward as the father, one can only hope."
"Oh, do be quiet, Quentin!" Edward barked. He downed his brandy and went for another, his hands shaking as he refilled his glass. He growled in frustration, "What is taking so long?"
"Edward, calm yourself," Edith told him gently. "Come, sit down."
Edward scoffed. "I couldn't possibly sit down at a time like this!" He finished his next brandy in one gulp, then went to pour yet another. It would make his fourth for the night.
Edith turned to Carl and answered him with, "I have no doubt it'll be a fine, strapping son."
"No doubt?" Quentin raised an eyebrow in her direction while taking a sip of his brandy. In return, Edith said, "When you're a woman who's carried both a boy and a girl, and you've lived long enough to see many other women do the same, you develop a sense for such things. The child will be a boy. I'm sure of it."
"I do hope so," Carl stated. "I'm rather excited at the prospect of having a nephew. Just think, Quentin, we're going to be uncles!"
"Yes," Edward interjected, "you are. Saints preserve the poor child!"
"Just what do you mean by that?" Carl asked indignantly.
"Edward, I think your nerves are getting the better of you," Edith said. "Please sit down."
"I assure you, Grandmother, I am quite in control," Edward told her. He took a swig of his brandy.
"Nonsense," Edith replied.
"Don't press him, Grandmother," Quentin said in annoyance. Then, a jeering smile forming on his face, he added, "Besides, if he keeps on like this, he'll be lying down before too long."
Edward waved him off dismissively.
"I'm surprised Judith agreed to be present, given her disposition towards Laura," Quentin continued. "She and Laura aren't exactly"—he paused, considering the best phrase to use—"bosom friends. Even more so, I'm surprised Laura accepted. Comfort from Judith? A hungry cat would be more likely to comfort a mouse." He sipped the last of his brandy. "Then again, I'd wager having Laura at her mercy is giving Judith a great deal of pleasure."
"Quentin, that's an awful thing to say!" Edith reprimanded. "Whatever her personal opinions, Judith would never derive pleasure from another's suffering."
Edward opened his mouth to respond to Quentin himself, but just as he did so the double doors to the drawing room flew open and Judith rushed inside.
"Speak of the cat," Quentin muttered under his breath, barely loud enough to be heard though no one acknowledged him.
"The child has crowned!" she announced. She turned to Edward. "It won't be long now!"
"How is Laura?" Edward asked her. "Is she in terrible pain? Is there anything she needs?"
A brief look of incredulity crossed Judith's face at the question of if Laura was in terrible pain, as though she were thinking, "Certainly she is! What is it you suppose she's doing, nursing a sprained ankle?" Almost immediately, however, her expression softened and she answered with, "She is quite well. You have nothing to fear, Edward. She's a strong-willed woman, your wife."
As Judith disappeared behind the double doors, Quentin said, "That she is, if this morning is any indication."
He was referring to when the labor pains first began, at ten in the morning or thereabouts. Laura had been reclining in the drawing room, her feet propped atop an ottoman that had been brought down from one of the bedrooms, specifically for her use. Edward had insisted she stay in bed but she refused, declaring that she was not an invalid and if she remained in bed another minute she would go mad. She fanned herself silently as Edward discussed matters of the estate with Judith and Edith, until finally, after gazing out the window awhile, stated that she felt a rather intense desire to step outside for a walk. "Nice days are such a rarity in Collinsport," she said. Edward was against it but there was no deterring her. She managed, slowly, to lift herself from the settee and began making her way towards the double doors. Edward, immersed as he was in his conversation, instructed Quentin to accompany her. She attempted to protest, promising to stay on the grounds, close to the house, but he would hear none of it and she relented, allowing Quentin to trail behind her as she left.
It was during this walk that she complained of frequent cramps, some of which bowled her over. Quentin suggested they go back inside but was met with a wave of her hand and an assurance that she was alright. It wasn't until she released her waters and toppled to the ground that she agreed they should return. She sent Quentin to fetch Edward and Judith, as she could hardly move and Quentin could not support her. They came immediately. While helping her inside, the pains progressed, one of which would have brought her to her knees had Edward not held her upright, and she bellowed a succession of obscenities that would shame any of the seamen at Collinsport.
"Any woman who can swear with such fervor is no delicate flower," Quentin said, helping himself to more brandy.
"Not too much, Quentin," Edith told him.
He paused before pouring, the bottle slightly tilted over the edge of his glass, then shrugged nonchalantly and poured to the glass' brim.
"I think I will sit down after all," Edward remarked. He took a seat next to Carl and placed his hands on his trousers, his legs shaking. His eyes found the hearth, where the ashes and charred wood from the morning fire had not been cleaned out due to all the excitement. It was late March and Collinsport was slowly transitioning from winter to spring. The previous few days had been dreary and cold, but on this day the sun had shown bright in the sky. It had set now, casting darkness over Collinwood. Edward shivered. "I'll have one of the servants build us a fire," he declared. "These nights are so drafty."
He began to stand but Edith waved her hand at him. "Don't stand, Edward," she said.
"Yes, Edward, don't stand," Quentin jeeringly added, "lest you fall and hurt yourself."
Edith gave him a look of disapproval and then said, to Carl, "Carl, please fetch one of the servants and have them make us a fire."
Carl stood and left the drawing room to return shortly after with Agnes, one of the maids. Edward watched as she built the fire, as though transfixed by her movements, and eventually said, more to himself than anyone else, "Soon my life will change. All our lives will change."
"Yes, and try not to let it bother you too much," responded Quentin. "We all know how you loathe change, and you're stubborn enough when everything is normal."
Edward scoffed. "Rest assured, Quentin, handling an infant can't be any worse than handling you." Agnes stood, having made and stoked the fire, and asked if there was anything else she could tend to. "No, thank you, Agnes, that will be all," Edward told her. She gave a slight bow and then took her leave. Edward turned his attention back to Quentin. "I'm quite convinced that the only reason the good Lord saw fit to bestow you upon me as a brother was to test my resolve."
Quentin grinned. "Why, I'm honored that you have assigned me a purpose!"
"Quentin, Edward, please!" Carl exclaimed, agitated. "Now is not the time for family feuding."
"Indeed," Edith agreed. "Let us set our differences aside and focus on the new child. Before long, Collinwood will have another heir."
"God help him," Quentin said.
"Quentin!" Edward's face was becoming red with exasperation. "I shall have it inscribed on your tombstone: 'The Collins Family Disappointment.'"
"I would consider that the highest compliment," Quentin replied, holding up his glass as though he were toasting the sentiment.
The double doors to the drawing room opened and Judith entered once again. "It is a boy!" she announced. "A beautiful, healthy boy! He's cleaned and ready to be seen!"
Edward and Carl leapt to their feet. Edward dashed through the doors after Judith; Carl helped Edith to her feet and they followed suit, though at a slower pace as Edith could no longer run. Quentin remained in the drawing room, nursing his brandy. "Alone at last," he said to it as he brought it to his lips. He finished it in one gulp and then poured himself another.
He took a seat on the settee and leaned his head back, closing his eyes and listening to the crackling fire. Not a minute passed before the doors opened and Carl's voice followed: "Are you not coming? Don't you want to see your nephew?"
Quentin, his eyes still closed, replied, "I'm sure I'll be seeing him plenty in the years to come. But as of right now, I'm quite content with my own company." He took a sip of his brandy. "I have all the companionship I need."
He waited to hear the doors open and close again, signifying that Carl had left, but instead he heard Carl's boots scuff across the floor as he approached. "You are a member of this family, Quentin," he continued, his voice louder.
"I'd thank you not to remind me."
There was a pause before Carl said, "Laura asked for you."
At that, Quentin opened his eyes and looked at Carl. "She did?" Quentin was very fond of his sister-in-law. Fair and gentle, to him she epitomized womanhood, and though he would never admit it, he was envious of Edward's marriage to her. "Alright, then," he finally agreed. "I'll be right up—just as soon as I finish this brandy."
Carl accepted that and left.
Despite wanting to see Laura, Quentin finished his brandy slowly, savoring every drop as though it were the last he would ever taste. Once he'd finished it, before setting his empty glass on the countertop where the bottles of brandy and sherry were arranged, he stole a final gaze at his surroundings: the quiet, vacant drawing room. He had a fondness for solitude that most people, especially boys his own age, did not seem to understand. He barely understood it himself but if asked, he would blame his family—how they were always on about maintaining appearances and preserving assets. Quentin could not care less about any of it, which did not sit well with the other members of his family, namely Edward.
Quentin sighed, and then exited the drawing room to meet the new Collins.
He ascended the stairs and made his way down the corridor that would lead to Edward and Laura's bedroom gradually, the newborn's wailing growing louder seemingly with each step. Upon entering the room, he stood, statuesque, inside the threshold, silently observing the sight before him: Laura propped against a pillow on the bed, her skin and hair moist with sweat; Edward, Judith, Carl, and Edith on either side of her, beaming; the midwife, Mrs. Flannery, in the far corner, wiping her hands, her expression triumphant. The infant was in Laura's arms, swaddled and crying. She rocked him gently, humming to him.
"The boy has powerful lungs," Edith remarked. "No doubt from you, Edward."
"He's a stout little fellow," Edward declared.
Carl turned to face the doorway. "Perhaps Quentin would like to hold him," he said.
Edward tensed and pursed his lips, but Laura's welcoming smile was all Quentin needed for an invitation.
He took the child from her slowly, as he had never held a newborn before. The child was still crying when Quentin nestled him against his chest. "I haven't yet been able to quiet him," Laura said. I'm sure seeing Edward must have been quite a shock, Quentin thought, though he did not say so. He rocked the boy as Laura had. The child wriggled in his arms, continuing to wail. Quentin released him with one arm and began to tug at the swaddling cloth.
"Keep him covered," Mrs. Flannery ordered. "There is a dreadful chill in this room."
Quentin paid her no heed. Once his arms were freed from their confines, the boy raised them as though reaching for the ceiling, or perhaps the sky, and his crying steadily ceased.
"Sakes alive!" Carl exclaimed. "Quentin, I think he's taken a liking to you."
The child's eyes found Quentin's and, without realization, Quentin smiled. The child stared in wonder and then reciprocated, and so they remained for what felt like years: eyes locked and smiling at one another. When Quentin finally spoke, he only said but two words: "He's beautiful."
"He is," Judith agreed.
Edward's disagreeable expression softened, faintly but noticeably.
"Look at him," Laura gushed. "The proud uncle!"
Quentin said nothing, but he did feel an unmistakable surge of pride rising up within him, as well as another sensation, one of which he rarely spoke and was often even accused of lacking: love. Quentin had never placed much value in love, seeing it as quite useless and a cause of unnecessary pain. But he could not deny its presence at this moment, nor its genuineness. It came to him so forcefully that, for the first time in years—and certainly the first time in front of an audience since early childhood—his eyes welled. "What is his name?" he managed to ask through a lump in his throat.
"Jamison," Laura replied.
Quentin touched his forefinger to the tiny palm of the child's right hand and repeated: "Jamison."
His eyes never leaving Quentin's, the child—Jamison—wrapped his fingers around Quentin's forefinger and gripped.
The tears rolled down Quentin's cheeks. The rest of the family stared at him in awe, but he was not ashamed.
"Hello, Jamison Collins," he said to his nephew. "I am your uncle Quentin."