Annie never got to see what her little trick set in motion. By the end of the movie, she was sound asleep and dead to the world around her. Though she would never say as much, Grace was grateful for Annie's push. Throughout the evening she noticed Oliver's eye glancing her way. At first, she was sure she was imaging it. His earlier compliment was a spur of the moment. It meant nothing.

And then she let herself wonder.

Sure, it was logical for him to carry Annie home, but instead of passing her off to Punjab, he took her upstairs. Instead of setting her on the bed and going back to work, he stuck around to help tuck her in. Grace watched in wonderment as she led him through the motions. He was so genuine, even expressing concern when Sandy jumped up next to her.

He was so gentle, quiet, and caring. So unlike himself and yet what Grace had always chosen to believe was hidden beneath his gruff disposition. Suddenly, leaving her hair down didn't seem so intimidating. His compliment might have been genuine. After exchanging goodnights, she decided tomorrow she would embrace Annie's advice in full.

She scavenged through her closet, finding the dress she'd earlier hoped for Annie to miss. She bought it just over a year ago for no occasion in particular. It was seldom she purchased clothing for anything but work. Now she was glad for the impulsive purchase. The yellow sundress would be perfect for today.

Her confidence was evident to the staff as she bid them good morning. Not many questioned it, though. Annie changed the entire atmosphere of the once stuffy and solemn mansion in a matter of days. Grace smiled when she asked Drake where Annie was, his reply being she was still asleep. She felt bad for keeping her out so late, but inwardly she was thankful to be given the morning alone with Oliver.

Mrs. Greer sent her to the garden where Oliver has chosen to dine for breakfast. An affirmation in itself. Oliver never thought much of taking advantage of good weather—and today wasn't the nicest day they'd had all week. The wind made eating and work preparation a challenge. Still, Grace wasn't complaining, although, she felt her confidence weaken when she saw him. In part it was shyness, feeling self-conscious when he didn't notice her unusual attire, and the other part was due to his typical deadpan expression and focus on the ticker tape machine.

Conversation didn't go beyond good mornings. Work was hardly mentioned in Oliver's focus. Any other day she'd ask what he was reading. Right now she was preoccupied with scolding herself for letting a single out of character night fill her head with ridiculous fantasies and hopes. It couldn't get in the way of what she needed to ask him. She only prayed his lack of interest this morning would leave him as fast as the events of the previous night.

"Tea, Miss Farrell," was the only coherent words he's said after a while.

Grace nodded as she stood, rushing over to the tea tray in the corner of the garden.

It was now or never, she knew. This was his second cup of tea which meant he would be ready to move to the office soon. She couldn't have imagined everything last night. Just because he thought better of it this morning didn't mean what he showed wasn't genuine. If nothing else came from it, she could at least go on knowing she took the chance.

Taking a deep breath, she picked up the teapot, straightened her back, and walked back to the breakfast table. Her words came out in a ramble once she was at his side again, her voice high and nervous as she poured him his tea. Fortunately, he didn't notice the delivery, unfortunately, he noticed the absurdity of her request. Once it was out of her mouth, she heard it, too.

Adopting Annie… what was she thinking? Lying awake last night it sounded wonderful, plausible even. Now she felt humiliated. His gruff response was to be expected, but with how much Annie meant to her, she felt herself welling up.

And then he grabbed her arm.

The rest of the conversation was a blur. She could have sworn he called her beautiful at one point but refused to believe it. At least she did for as long as she sat there. When she stood, overjoyed with yet another sudden change of heart, he stopped her again. In a second he was on his feet with her in his arms. With a firm kiss, he confirmed his earlier words. Best of all, when they parted he would be off to the orphanage to get the adoption papers signed.

The end.

I toyed with adding one more scene from the script (especially where this is such a short story), but that would mean having to go through the rest of the movie as it is on screen to get to that part. Not exactly fanfiction in that case... Perhaps another time I'll come up for a story surrounding that scene! In any case, I hope you enjoyed this little 'addition' fic :)