A/N: Hello! The world is pretty terrible right now. I've been desperately trying to write A MIsguided Mistake but I'm just not in the right headspace for it. So, I thought I'd write some fluffy oneshots based in the world of A Strange Situation. I have zero plans for these so if there's anything at all you'd like to see (including smut, on A03) please let me know. I'm struggling to think of ideas but I need to write, if you know what I mean? So I could really use a few prompts, I will obviously credit you.
Anyway, these are in no particular order. Here we start when Arthur, born at the end of A Strange Situation, is nearly one. Enjoy.
"More for Mama?" Margaret asked, waiting for the sealed cavern of her son's mouth to open. "Come on, baby. Eat for Mama."
The sound of John's footsteps behind her made her pause, then jump in her place as he wrapped his arms around her waist and placed a kiss on her neck. She looked around to make sure they were alone, save for the squawking infant.
"Stop it." His voice was in her ear as she lifted her arm to feed the baby.
"What?" Margaret asked, looking up from the bowl of porridge she was currently trying to feed the whinging baby in front of her.
"I know exactly what you're doing."
"John, I am sure I don't know-"
Another kiss to her cheek before he pulled away to look at her with a stern expression. What on Earth was he talking about?
"You're trying to make him say your name first."
John sat down at the table on the other side of the baby. They had purchased a high chair for him two months previously, placing it at the table so their son might participate in family meals. It was rather unusual; babies were usually fed in the nursery, but Margaret wished to have Arthur grow used to being part of the usual routine of the house.
Arthur greatly enjoyed sitting with his family at meal times, grinning at them all and enthusiastically bashing his spoon against the table. Hannah, who had always been a stickler for manners, was the most amused of all of them - much to Margaret's surprise.
"Darling, don't be so ridiculous!" Margaret said innocently. "I don't know why you would think that."
"Hmm. Hello, son. Can you say Papa?"
The baby steadfastly ignored both of them, turning his head and smacking his lips. John reached out and tickled his chin. Arthur squirmed and giggled in his chair. Margaret sighed; feeding time was always a little easier when her husband was still at work. Still, she loved how much he adored their child. It reminded her of how her own father had behaved towards both of his children; pure love.
Still, she frowned as she returned to the topic at hand.
"It is not a competition, John. Besides, I spent nine months feeling wretched and a considerable amount of time screaming in agony. Don't I deserve this?"
"I thought it wasn't a competition?" John turned to her with one eyebrow raised.
She scoffed at that.
"Please, he is already your mirror image. You've won that battle. There's not a scrap of Hale about him."
John looked at the baby, now trying to put his own foot in his mouth, a proud expression plain to see on his face. There was no denying the child was a true Thornton, with his thick swirl of dark brown hair and strikingly blue eyes. He was an adorable baby, his beautiful looks bending anyone who looked upon his face to his will. Heaven help them when he was a little older, for Arthur Thornton would have the whole of Milton wrapped around his tiny little finger.
"He has your cheeks, and your nose."
"I suppose." Margaret relented. "That hardly makes up for the fact he has your eyes, your hair, your frown.."
"My frown?" John interrupted.
Margaret laughed, for the very same frown was now firmly in place on her husband's forehead. She placed the bowl down beside her and reached to tap a finger against the crease between his eyebrows.
"Yes. Your frown. And your smile, too. Though Arthur's are far more easily given than yours."
John smiled then, so broadly that the corners of his eyes crinkled. He smiled more these days; their son had done that to him. If marriage had mellowed him, fatherhood had done so to an even greater extent.
"How was your day?" Margret asked, resuming her thankless task once more as she waved the spoon near Arthur's still-closed mouth.
"Long and busy. You?"
"We went for a lovely walk. Now it is not so wet and foggy, I wrapped us both up warm and carried him to the churchyard. My arms are aching, but it was entirely worth it to see the flowers starting to bloom again."
"There's sickness about." John warned. "Fresh air is all well and good but keep him out of Princeton and away from the schoolroom. I've seen the workers pawing at him in the yard an' all."
Margaret rolled her eyes; it was true that anytime she took Arthur outside, he would attract a great amount of attention. Men chucking his chubby little chin, young girls fawning over his gummy smile and bright eyes. However, she thought it was wonderful they thought well enough of the Master and his family to behave in such a way.
"John, they are merely fond of him. I think it's lovely that they have shown us so much kindness. But very well, I shall listen."
"I need to go back, I've a stack of contracts to read. I wanted to see him before he goes to bed." John sighed. "I feel like I barely see the lad from one day to the next."
"I'm sorry, darling. I know you'd like to be with us more, truly I do. But you have a duty to the mill. You are a wonderful father and master both, you know."
"I'm not sure about that." John said. "I'll bring my work over here, to the study. Perhaps you'll both come and sit with me awhile?"
"Of course. Go, work a little longer while I try and feed our little beast."
Arthur began babbling loudly, little "ba ba" sounds (that were absolutely not "pa pa", Margaret thought to herself) while John merely watched. She often caught him just staring at their child. It made her heart skip to see such love.
"Be good for Mama, you scamp." John pressed a kiss to the child's dark hair, and another to his wife's forehead. "See you later."
"Goodbye darling. Say bye bye to Papa?" Margaret asked Arthur, who waved his little hand dutifully.
John waved back, beaming. Arthur had started waving a few weeks before, much to the joy of his delighted parents who thought him quite the cleverest child who had ever lived.
An hour later, after Arthur had been bathed and dressed in his tiny little nightgown ready for bed, Margaret took him into the study she and John shared. There was a large armchair in the corner, perfect for curling up and reading in. Arthur yawned, tired and ready for his bed, as he rested his head against her shoulder. Oh, this surely must be heaven.
She had waited so long for her precious baby, but she was certain that every moment of heartache had been worth it. Everything about him was perfect, from his tiny toes to the thick crown of hair on his head. Whatever she had done to deserve such a blessing, she did not know.
"Sorry, sorry." John said as he pushed open the door with his elbow, his arms full of papers. "I didn't mean to be so long."
"It's quite alright, we've only just finished bath time, haven't we darling?" Margaret asked the sleepy child in her arms, who merely blinked in response. "Say hello to Papa."
Arthur waved half heartedly, snuggling further into his mother's arms. John placed his papers on the desk and walked over to kneel in front of them. Arthur held out his arms, and John took him. He groaned as he stood up, and Margaret was sure she heard his knees click.
"When did he get so big?" John said, tapping the end of Arthur's nose. "I'm sure he was only born last week."
"Hmm, not quite darling. Almost a year ago now." Margaret said. "I do hope we can give him a sibling before too long. I should not like him to be lonely."
"Hey now, don't think about that now. Right, I suppose I should get on with this. Is he to bed?"
"Yes, I think he is exhausted. All that fresh air." Margaret yawned herself, suddenly overcome with tiredness. "This chair really is most terribly comfortable. I could fall asleep."
"I'll put him to bed." John said, shifting Arthur on his hip. "Rest."
"You're sure? I can ask Dixon-"
"No, I'll do it. You can come with us if you like, if you think I'll do something wrong." John teased. "Mama doesn't trust me son. She thinks I'll tuck you in too tight, or forget to read you a story."
"Of course not!" Margaret laughed. "I think I can trust you, my love. Oh, I am so tired."
"Rest. Say bye bye to Mama."
Margaret froze. John blinked. Arthur had said her name, as clear as day, and Margaret felt tears spring to her eyes. She grinned broadly.
"Yes, son. That's your Mama." John grinned, kissing the top of the dark hair that so closely matched his own. "The finest woman who ever lived."