While I had a great time writing this story, I want to say thank you to everyone who gave me kind words of encouragement and sometimes much-needed threats to keep it coming.

But I especially want to thank WeasleyKid8 who always pushed for more, Tim who always had an encouraging word or praise – that meant so much – and to PallaPlease, my long-distance friend, who believe it or not, inspired me to write an A/D fic after reading "Academia."

And no thanks would be complete without thanking Tracarvic, or just Vic as he's affectionately known. He gave me screenshots, answered my countless questions like "How high is the ceiling from Point A to Point B?" and let me bounce ideas off of him. He was my midnight muse as I like to think of it, and an endless source of information and laughter. Thank you Vic!

And now … a teaser of things to come …

Beyond Measure

Chapter 1


        The heavy clouds hung low, blanketing the sky in a dark grey, and filling the air with the fresh smell of rain. Outside the shuttered windows, droplets of rain splattered against the clear glass panes, flattening as they made contact with the smooth surface, then slowly trickling down, out of sight. It wasn't a hard rain, rather it was soothing. The soft steady cadence of the splattering droplets created a soft rhythm. Overhead, the same storm pelted the roof.

        Down below, the once loose, sienna-colored soil had turned into a dark swirl of burnt copper, the occasional hint of grey streaking through the thick mixture. The constant crash of the ocean waves against the rocks far below the house drifted up along the craggy precipice, creating an eerie symphony of sound.

        Although a cacophony was echoing beyond the thick glass panes, inside the house, in an upper bedroom, the view was an altogether different sight.

        Illuminated by the soft glow of the fire flickering in a small hearth, two bodies lay nestled together, burrowed under a heavy patchwork quilt, both radiating warmth. The echo of raindrops filled the room. It was soothing, and Amelia had never felt so content in her life.

        She listened raptly, in quiet wonder of the sounds surrounding her, and was once again reminded of how being here was a soothing balm to her soul.

        Coming here was like finding refuge. She felt safe. No matter how hard the storms battered her physically and weathered her soul, she knew she could always seek shelter. Worries could be laid aside and, for a few brief moments, she could forget everything that weighed down upon her. She didn't have to worry. God knew Delbert worried enough for the both of them. He often worried even when there was nothing to be worried about. She sometimes thought he took secret pleasure in fretting over her, making certain things were absolutely perfect, nothing out of place, everything done exactly to her liking. It was a bit overwhelming at times.

        Still, the attention, nay devotion, was wonderful, she decided as she affectionately traced the outline of one floppy ear.

        The gesture didn't set well with the sleeping canine. He growled slightly and removed a hand from beneath the covers to swat at the annoyance, causing Amelia to smile. He was adorable. But the temptation to tease him was too irresistible, so she leaned closer and blew softly against the back of his ear. This earned another growl, slightly louder this time and a rapid twitching of the offended ear. A moment passed, and then another breath against his very prominent nose.

        "It's in your best interest to cease this line of action," he warned, never opening his eyes.

        "Mmm, should I really?" Amelia purred softly. "It is almost 10 o'clock, you realize. Well past the hour you should have been up."

        "I'm not a spacer. I don't keep absurd hours like you."

        Amelia sniffed, slightly offended. "Oh no, of course you don't. Staying well up into the wee hours of the morning to pore over star charts. That's not absurd at all."

        There was no reply.


        There's more coming. Honest.