As always I want to thank my very fabulous beta, fulfilled . To say she makes everything I write so much better is a huge understatement. But in this case it's even more true. I decided for the ficathon to step outside my S6 based comfort zone with Rory & Logan, and try my hand at something different, them when they are first meeting, even if I am setting it differently from when it happened on the show. They are very different characters, in a very different place in their lives. Which for me was a challenge. It has also been a lot of fun too. But it is a bit slower going since I'm wanting to wait on the next part from fulfilled before I really dig into the next section I have to write. I'm having to really pay attention to the pacing of things here, which I normally don't, since I've always written them already as a committed--and in love with one another--couple.
Also, I'm very much so exploring a different side of what attracted them to one another from the usual. I think a lot of people focus on the banter & wit in S5 based fic, and that is a big part of them, I always try to keep true to that as well. Or the LDB, which is out of the question here, since none of that has happened as of yet where I'm setting this. But there are references, allusions, in the canon of the show to the approach I'm taking. I told I think I produced Lit fic, which is kinda amusing to me, since I'm so not a Lit. However, I think it fits them. I hope y'all enjoy it, like I said, I've had a good time writing it.
Finally, I should note, the form of the story took some inspiration from A Confederacy of Dunces. If you've ever read it, you will understand.
She - a working title
Today she had come. You smile to yourself, reaching over to pick up the spyglass to see what today's selection would be. For the first time she had three books with her; the three other days she had only brought two - one novel or play and one essay anthology or poetry collection. You need her to tilt the books where you can see them, though you guess they are authors of American origin; so far that's what they've all been.
The first day you noticed her she had been accompanied by a pair of Henrys: Thoreau's Walden and James's Portrait of a Lady. Day two had seen her accompanied by another Henry - Longfellow this time - and you hoped she had read The Courtship of Miles Standish when she had picked it up. It had been your selection, but she had mixed it up with Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence as well. Day three had been completely different - no Henrys - instead, Whitman's Leaves of Grass and Eugene O'Neill's A Long Day's Journey Into Night, which you had gone out to a book shop after she went inside to find a copy, since there hadn't been one in the library downstairs. That had been on Saturday, when someone taking her bench had annoyed her. She had given him a hard stare for a minute; you had chuckled to yourself, wondering if you would finally get to see her speak, but she had turned and sat under a large nearby tree instead. Her powers of concentration were tested that day by the weekend revelers taking advantage of the perfect mid July weather, but she seemed to be unphased by the children playing football and tag, or anyone else in the garden that day.
Yesterday, though, she hadn't come, and you had been afraid that perhaps she'd left, until she appeared just now. But then, perhaps her serenity hadn't been quite as deep as it had seemed at first glance; perhaps she's been just as annoyed by all the noise as she was by the couple sitting on her bench.
The Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift and Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie; all excellent choices, you nod, setting down the spyglass and getting up from the window seat, assuming you will find them downstairs. Your father keeps a well-stocked library in all the family residences, including both London addresses. Of course, given the family business, reverence for the written word seems natural.
She was beautiful - that's a given, otherwise she never would have caught your eye - but not what you would ever call exotic. Maybe it's because you assume she's American, but she comes off as a classic 'girl next door' type of beauty, from the straight brown hair to her fresh, always almost make-up free face. Her huge eyes though, they're what really catch your attention. Your curiosity as to their color is nearly driving you to get a closer look at her. The way she sometimes stares at nothing makes you think of the women of Vermeer's paintings, like Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Woman with a Water Jug. They draw you in, making you want to be the one that is the key to putting a smile on their faces, but the veil and sadness rebuff you at the same time. Making you want to decipher their mystery, but unsure if you were worthy of the task. The sadness you've imagined in them is what keeps you coming back, hoping for a glimpse of her, but also keeps you rooted to the window seat, not daring to actually approach her.
It makes you think she would require more work than is your style, more work than your usual playmates require, really than makes you comfortable. Emotionless fun, where everyone knew the score, is your modus operandi, no one that might require some tenacity or effort, or might actually involve emotions. But if you never approach her you'll never really know the color of her eyes, if they are the windows to her soul that you envision them to be.
"Ah, screw it," you say to yourself once you get to the library, picking up a copy of James Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain, which you need to read for a twentieth-century American authors class you have in the fall anyway, and heading out the back gate before you can think twice about your decision.
She's partially obscured by the large tree near her bench, your current angle different from the one you're used to seeing out the window. When you get close enough and you can see her clearly, you hesitate. Till now, she could be anyone you want her to be, an empty vessel that you can fill with your own ideas of who she might be, but actually approaching her might ruin all of that.
She might have a churlish attitude, or be a social climber, or find out who you are and suddenly start planning how to entwine your names together forevermore, just like every other girl you've ever met seems to do. She wouldn't be the soft-spoken, intelligent, beautiful bookworm you've built up in your mind. Her voice would instead grate on your nerves, be screechy, or too loud. Those eyes that you could tell through the spyglass are huge might be hard and brittle, telling you of her jadedness, something so familiar to you in the girls you know. Somehow you know that would disappoint you most- you need her to be different, worth the time you've already invested in her.
But if you don't try to find out, you'll never know, and she would be built up in your mind as this paragon of perfection that got away, and that just isn't you. You live in the moment and jump at opportunities when they are presented to you; spontaneous is your middle name.
Colin and Finn would never let you hear the end of it if they knew you were sitting in a window seat overlooking a private garden in London looking out a spyglass hoping to see a particular beautiful girl, five days in a row. They would think you'd lost your mind. So would Honor, who is the reason you're stuck here anyway. She was supposed to meet you, but instead, you're cooling your heels, waiting with your mother, and your idea of fun doesn't include going to tea with her friends every afternoon, listening to them try to marry you off to their daughters and granddaughters.
You're not entirely sure why you've stayed; even Honor's phone calls each morning are beginning to be hollow and redundant. But she's the one person in the world that you've always tried to not let down, and you're supposed to go up to Skye with her, to go hiking for a couple of days, even if she can't seem to quite tear herself away from Ibiza.
So you keep going back to the window seat and her. And if you don't act, you might always wonder about the beautiful girl from the garden, that maybe you had passed on the opportunity to meet the perfect girl for you. Not that you're looking, though, because you're not.
"Hello, do you mind if I join you?" you ask after a moment. Her powers of concentration are evident - she hadn't even realized you'd walked up, pointing toward the large tree she'd sat under two days prior, with your book.
"No, that would be fine," she says softly after a moment, looking up in confusion. Her eyes are even more beautiful close up, as blue as any ocean you've sailed, and filled with the sadness you've projected onto her. Her voice is just as beautiful as you'd imagined - soft, yet melodic.
"You're American," you continue, sitting down under the tree, not wanting to lose the moment.
"Yes, I am," she nods. "As are you."
"Yes, I am," you repeat back, falling into silence nd opening your book when she puts her head back into hers.
You want to say something, to continue the conversation, but you also don't want it to seem obvious that you'd come here just to speak to her. So you instead let yourself get immersed in nineteen-thirties Harlem.
You steal glances at her every so often, hoping maybe she will meet your eye, but she doesn't. The powers of concentration she displayed on Saturday are obviously not challenged by one mere mortal. She switches between her books every so often, not with any discernable pattern - at least not one you're able to pick up on.
You continue reading and stealing glances at her for the next ninety minutes or so, till she looks up at the sun with an open mouthed glance, as if it's about to tell her something, before getting up, brushing down her skirt, picking up her books and heading back in the direction you've realized she comes from with a soft, "Enjoy the sunshine. Have a nice day."
You mumble something incoherent in return. It's one of the few times in your life you're not ready with an appropriate comeback, making you kick yourself, thinking, 'So much for making a good first impression'.
…I'm starting to miss Mom. I love Grandma, and I think I did need to get away from things for a while, but I'm starting to miss her now…
Story prompt: (from the movie Notting Hill; referring to Marc Chagall's painting 'La Mariee'):
Will: You like Chagall?
Anna: I do. It feels like how being in love should be. Floating through a dark blue sky.
Will: With a goat playing the violin.
Anna: Yes-happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat.
One thing you would like to see in the story: a private garden square in Notting Hill, London
One thing you don't want to see in the story: Rory in tears or crying