Title: Love Always Wins
Movie: Becoming Jane
Summary: How BJ should and would have ended if life was fair and love was true!!! Tom x Jane
It had been three years since his eyes had sparkled. And though his smiles were charming, they stubbornly remained empty.
Tom LeFroy was still as roguishly handsome as ever; thick brown hair, once-bright cerulean eyes, and almost invisible wrinkles. His muscles were lean and strong thanks to his 'gentleman' boxing, yet he never played cricket any more.
Instead he threw all his energy into law. He had become a prodigy, climbing the ladders quickly.
As was she.
His sisters brought her books and devoured them, though they tried to keep it a secret from him after all that had happened.
They didn't know that he traveled with the same books, but his were worn from the many times he had read them. Seeing her on every page, even a bit of himself.
Her smile. Her eyes. Her hair. Her skin.
And her lips.
Oh, her lips. The nights he dreamed of her kisses, then awoke with a shaking body and tingling lips, those nights were too many to count.
Her books were selling well.
She deserved that. She deserved so much more. Yet she had not married Wisely, Lady Gresham's nephew. The one she had been engaged to when they…
He clenched his fists, staring out over the Irish countryside. He had come to visit home for a while. He hadn't been in over a year.
Turning his thought's away from that he began again to climb the hill he was on. Rather then come up the front path, Tom had decided to sneak around back, to better surprise his parents and the few siblings he had still living at home. He crested the hill…
He sent quite a bit of money home each month, yet you would have to double that amount to pay for the restorations that had been done.
The house he grew up in was the LeFroy family manor, but when he lived there only one-third of the house had been livable. Now not only did the entire house look repaired, it looked like it had been expanded a room or two. And the sheds and barns around a garden courtyard were defiantly all new. The whole place was painted and the road leading to the house freshly cobbled.
But How? When?
Tom just stood starring until two female figures appeared at the back door. Though both wore bonnets and he was far away, he recognized his mother's slightly plump body in her faded yellow dress. The other, however, was not a maid or sister. He squinted.
It almost looked like…
Tom began to jog down the steep slope. He was still too far away when the figure in the green gown swung sidesaddle onto a grey mare. He let out a loud yell, and both people turned their heads toward him quickly.
Yet, instead of staying to greet him, the mounted woman began franticly urging her horse forward as his mother swatted it on the flanks. He broke into a run, but was still to late to catch the fleeing feminine figure.
"TOM!!" His mother screamed, and before he could ask any questions she was hugging him fiercely and crying, tugging him into the house. He had a fleeting glance of the toy sized galloping mare before the door closed and his other family members appeared from the respective rooms and barns.
He didn't actually get time to enquire about the woman until after a light dinner of roasted sparrow and pork.
The whole dozen or more family members and their respective guests poured out into the garden courtyard to watch the twilight fade. Under the guise of studying a lily, he sauntered closer to one of his dearest sisters.
Camiell – Cammy for short – was five or six years his junior, but she had large, deep brown eyes and an inquisitive nature.
"Cammy, who was Mother entertaining just before I arrived?"
"Whoa!" Her brown eyes looked sharply up at him. "You saw her? Up close?"
Tom drew his eyebrows together slightly.
Cammy let out a disappointed sigh. "Oh."
Now the older man raised an eyebrow.
"Why? Have you not seen her?"
"No," Cammy shot back, "No one but Mother has seen her. When Elizabeth is due she has everyone working. We've only ever seen the brim of her bonnet and the hem of her dress as she sweeps hurriedly in and out."
She looked around and lowered her voice confidentially.
"Scott doesn't even think 'Elizabeth' is her real name! All we know for sure is that we get packages from her the first Friday of every month at a very early hour in the morning. We don't know how long they've been coming, and we've never seen what's inside, but Lacy thinks about four months after she discovered the first package we suddenly had enough money to buy not only all our food and clothes, but also enough to start refurbishing the house."
She was waggling her eyebrows meaningfully.
"At first we though it was you sending twice as much, but after Clive stole an empty envelope from the trash, we saw that it was sent from 'Elizabeth JBA'."
Cammy paused and took a deep breath.
"So? What do you think?"
Tom gave her an aloof smile, but his eyes were distracted. He excused himself from the garden soon after, pleading travel fatigue.
Lying in one of the new rooms, staring up at the ceiling, thoughts swirled in the young Mr. LeFroy's head.
The first was that his mother was involved in some sort of illegal activity, then that she was calling in favors, and after that came the idea that it was all nothing. However, in the locked chest in the deepest corner of his mind something stirred.
Tom slammed the thought back into the chest and wrestled to keep it there. But even that brief contact sent lances of pain into his heart and made his pulse race.
He lay awake for a long time after.
They settled into a nice rhythm over the next few weeks: breakfast together, chores, after which he would ride about the countryside alone or with a group of old friends. When he returned it would usually be about time for lunch, after the meal was done he enjoyed some time to himself before tea. Then between tea and dinner Tom went around with his father, discussing the world while they tinkered with odd things. It was usually after this time with a few hours before dinner that Tom wrote letters to his friends and boxed out in one of the empty old barns. Dinner was a large affair always with friends and older siblings who had moved out coming around. Then they would all go for nightcaps in the east drawing room, until, one by one, they excused themselves for bed.
However, in order for life to be exciting, things must be stirred up now and then. So, on the first Tuesday of the next month, someone took it upon themselves to start stirring.
"Tom! Scott! There you are!"
The young man looked up from the game of cards he was currently beating his younger brother Scott at. While Tom took after his father, Scott took more after their mother, fair where Tom was dark. A boy of thirteen, he looked up to his older brother greatly.
"Scott, go upstairs and help Missy rearrange the furniture in the second guest room on the right. Tom, get a ladder and get up on the roof, I'm worried about how it will hold in the rainy season. I think it's leaking."
Grumbling slightly, both boys stood and headed towards their directed destinations. On the way to the barn, Tom began to notice that the entire house hold was bustling. It was like a thousand things suddenly needed doing, right away.
Just before he reached the barn, Tom became aware of a tapping noise behind him. Turning, he found a group of his sisters pointing desperately. He was about to call out to them when he realized why they had not opened the window. His mother was standing in the doorway right below them, directing two of the hired help in moving out some of the large floor rugs.
She gave him a questioning look when she noticed him just standing in the middle of the courtyard, squinting up at the house.
He looked back up at his sisters who were once again pointing animatedly.
"Ah, yes. Of course Mother."
He turned, and then glanced the way they had been pointing.
A line rider was thundering up the lane.
He froze, staring, mouth slightly open.
Elizabeth! The infamous woman was riding for the house once again. That was why his mother was so anxious to have everyone busy, just like Cammy said she always did!
He could hear the frown in his mother's voice. Angry and frustrated, he stormed to the barn.
When he emerged again, covered in hay with the ladder over his shoulder, the hem of Elizabeth's dress was just disappearing around the doorjamb.
He dropped the ladder and broke into a run, but was still too late, hitting the door just as the lock clicked shut.
His own mother had just locked him out of the house! He pounded on the door, before a window further down the house opened and his mother's head popped out.
"Roof Thomas!" She snarled, then her head disappeared and the curtains were drawn.
Fuming darkly to himself, he climbed the ladder onto the roof. His mother probably just made the stuff about the roof to get him up here and out of the way. He stomped over to the roof slats above the room where his mother and Elisabeth were meeting, and sat there brooding for a good hour and a half before he heard a door opening blow.
He lay on his stomach, his head poking over the edge of the roof right above where a maid was bringing up a grey mare.
Once the horse was as close to the door as possible, Miss Elizabeth emerged. He could just see her shoulders past the brim of her hat. She and his mother hugged briefly, and then the woman mounted her horse gracefully. He listened carefully as his mother began to speak quietly.
"It has really been a pleasure. I do look forwards to your visits. Are you sure the other could not…"
She petered out for Miss Elizabeth was already shaking her head.
"Well, thank you anyway, and I will see you again soon."
The mounted woman nodded silently, spurred her horse and was gone.
His mother waved, then walked slowly back inside, calling for someone.
The boy on the roof made up his mind, for he had to find out somehow. Next time she came, he would be ready for Miss Elizabeth J.B.A.!
Two days later, Tom rode into one of the largest towns in the area. It was market day and the main street was bustling. Young ladies batted their eyelashes and curtsied 'hello' as his gelding passed.
Bored, he had offered earlier that morning to accompany one of the kitchen hands into town to restock the kitchen. He rode along side the small empty cart for about an hour before they reached the outskirts of the main town.
Upon arriving, the two dismounted, walking through the stalls, bartering for what the cook needed, one or the other leading the horses as the pile of food and jars on the cart slowly grew.
It was not until they were almost finished that the hairs on the back of Tom's neck stood on end.
He was being watched.
Slowly turning his head he scanned the street. Nothing, except for the swirl of a lady's blue skirt as it flashed away behind a fruit stall a few yards away.
Wary, Tom followed the man servant towards the outside of town. After a few minutes, he turned again – quickly this time – and once more caught a glimpse of the light blue hem.
With a word to the servant he began to walk brusquely back the way he had come. Through the stalls he saw the blue dress slip down an alleyway. Tom broke into a run, racing off the main street after the blue clad watcher.
He rounded the corner in time to spy the blue dress and the brim of it's owner's hat ducking through an archway into another side street.
The woman was fast!
Around the next corner he saw her whole body for an instant before she disappeared again. Not only was he catching up, but he knew that hat.
Was the lady as curious about him as he was about her?
He accelerated even more. On the next street there were only a few feet between them. It was his first good look at the woman.
Elizabeth was almost as tall as he was, and she had strong shoulders. Her hair looked black, but was piled up under her hat, so he could not be sure. The white skin on the back of her neck was exposed. Both of her hands were in front of her, holding up the hem of her dress as her booted shoes flashed in her race to escape him.
He was so close to her when a sheep cart pulled in front of him, almost plowing the woman over.
Tom slid to a stop, using both hands to avoid clashing into the wooden side that now blocked his path. He cursed loudly, and in the few seconds that it took him to skirt the cart, the street was empty, but for an upside-down ladies hat, rolling in the dust.
The handsome young man stooped, scooping up the hat. And, spinning it thoughtfully in his hands, returned to the market.
Tom was leaving soon. He had to get back to London for business, and Elizabeth hadn't been seen for five and a half weeks. He was expecting her any day now. Any day.
He found himself lying awake at night, thinking about the woman that wore the hat hidden beneath his bed.
Who was she? What did she want with his family?
He had snuck out onto the landing at six the first Friday of the month. Watching silently as his mother opened the door before there was a knock. Taking the plain brown package and sending the deliverer on his way. Then returning quickly to her bedroom.
What was going on?
The brunette stared absentmindedly out the window down the drive up to his house, her latest book open in front of him.
It was one of her best works yet.
Embossed in gold on the front of the leather cover. Her name. The most beautiful name in the world: Jane Austen.
He had locked himself away in the small garden guest house at the edge of the grounds for the two weeks and a half of his stay. It was the size of a small shed, but it had two stories. The top story was a bedroom with a writing desk and chair while the ground floor was a small veranda with one wall of solid glass. All the furniture was more for comfort that style, a place of retreat. Tom had stumbled upon it while searching the grounds one night when he was unable to sleep in the main house.
Since then he had been living there, alone with his memories. Opening the locked chest of his mind, and letting out the most precious things he had.
Every moment with her.
Every detail he had memorized so carefully.
Every dream that haunted him.
Every tear he cried for her.
Every rip in his mutilated heart.
All because of her.
Jane. The woman who was almost his Jane.
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. When it came to her, he was always running around in circles.
"Tom?" Cammy's voice rose from downstairs.
"Come in!" She slowly opened the door to his room as he stuffed the novel under a stack of letters.
"Mother has something for you to do."
"Ah, alright. Thank you."
He stood, and followed his sister downstairs and out of the guest house, through the gardens to the main house, where his mother was crying out chores to anyone who was standing or sitting idly.
Just like last time.
"Ah! Cammy, go help Deidre with her music lesson, she doesn't quite understand some of the notes. Tom – "
"I'd like to go check up on the gelding I rode to town. I believe his left hind leg is bothering him. It might be a loose shoe."
His mother stood for a second, digesting the offered work.
"Yes. Good. Off you both go then."
As they separated, Tom snuck his sister a wink, and then headed for the barn.
He pulled one of the wooden doors almost shut, watching through the gap as a lone rider galloped up towards the house.
Right on time.
He watched with growing excitement as she dismounted and was rushed into the house by his frazzled mother.
A maid walked the grey mare around the courtyard before leading it to the smaller shed they used for holding guest horses that would not be staying long.
Grinning, Tom turned to the gelding. Having picked up on his excitement the horse's ears were swiveled toward him and his eyes were bright. He stood ridged as the saddle and bridle were pulled into place and he was led to the barn door, where he and his rider stood patiently. Until…
…the maid brought back out the grey, and Elizabeth mounted. She waved good bye to his mother, and spurred her horse.
Tom counted to five, then kicked the sides of the excited gelding. They burst from the barn and he was after her. The windows flew open and his siblings were cheering and calling to him as his mother screamed at him to 'stop this instant'.
Elizabeth obviously heard them, for her horse sped from its canter to a flat out run, racing down the deserted road with Tom on her heels.
Her hat flew off her head and was trampled beneath the gelding's hooves. A cascade of long brown hair spilled down her back as he chased her toward town. They were both low over their horses' necks, all involved breathing heavily and concentrating solely on the rode ahead and the horse so close to their own.
Tom thought he could hear her softly murmuring to her horse and felt a jab in his heart. He knew that voice. But…it was impossible! He dug his heels into the gelding's sides, willing it to go faster.
He had to catch her.
He had to.
She veered off the path and they were suddenly racing cross-country, leaping over streams and rocks. She swung one leg over her mare's side, now riding as a man would. She was a good horsewoman.
So tantalizingly familiar. Yet so horribly false.
He was so close, his gelding could stretch out its neck and it's nose would touch her mare's flanks.
Just a little further.
Her horse veered violently left, almost throwing her off as the side saddle beneath her slipped, hanging upside down and threatening to trip the exhausted mare.
Tom stared in shock as she took one hand off the reins, attempting to unbuckle the saddle.
Her mare let out a startled scream as a low wall loomed suddenly ahead, she leapt, and her rider was falling in a cloud of fabric and chocolate hair. The mare stopped, looking around confused for her owner.
Horrified, Tom leapt from the gelding, running toward the fallen woman.
"Miss Elizabeth! Elizabeth!"
Her hair was covering her face as she lay on the sparse forested floor. He dropped to his knees, heart hammering from fear and adrenalin.
Slowly he reached out, taking her by the shoulders and propping her up against him. She was breathing.
Carefully, he brushed the silken strands from her face. His entire body freezing as he stared into the face of an angel.
The angel he lost.
Slowly, her dark chocolate eyes fluttered open. She opened her perfect mouth, her voice a weak whisper.
He let out the breath he was holding in a gasp. It was so like her.
Lost for words, all Tom could do was shake his head.
"Yes, I am. If I wasn't you couldn't be holding me."
"Well then, we're both having one hell of a dream."
His voice broke at the end of his comment.
He had missed her so much!
Slowly Tom stood, Jane Austen cradled in his arms. Their horses followed the young man to a tree stump, where he mounted his steed, Jane sidesaddle before him. He tied her mare's reigns to his saddle, and the odd procession began back the way they had come.
Jane closed her eyes and leant against him, reveling in the feeling of his chest behind her and his arms around her.
Tom nuzzled her hair, his arms tightening around her briefly. He moved his head slightly to the side so that hers could rest on his shoulder. Her breath tickled his jaw, making it hard to concentrate on the horse beneath him and the road before him.
"A good dream."
He heard her murmur softly, her hand coming up to caress his other cheek.
"I've missed you."
His voice hitched, he forced his eyes to stay focused on the road to his house.
A small wet drop landed on his neck. A single tear.
"I missed you too."
There were so many questions to ask and so many answers to be had, but the two rode in blissful silence. Listening to the other's breathing, and wishing this ride would never end.
Tom bypassed the main house on his way home, riding instead straight for his garden house.
When he reached it, the young Mr. LeFroy dismounted, carrying Jane into the house bridal style. She was dosing.
Her face looked so relaxed.
He laid her gently on the double bed, then slowly tore himself from her, going out to tend the horses. At some point he would have to return to the main house to talk to his parents and siblings.
But not yet.
Not quite yet.
When he returned she still had her eyes closed, but there were tears glistening on her long black lashes. Tom laid down beside her, protocol forgotten. He gathered her gently into his strong arms, marveling at how well she fit against him. Jane whimpered slightly in her sleep, turning to better gain access to his warmth.
For the first time in a while, Tom LeFroy slept peacefully.
Jane Austen slowly pulled herself out of a deep slumber. Hovering on the border of consciousness, the young female writer allowed herself to reflect upon the strange dream she had been visited by last night.
In it she had made one of her increasingly more frequent trips to see her beloved Tom's mother. It was the closest she would allow herself to get to him.
He must hate her.
The way she left him, right in the middle of their elopement! The way she fantasized about him every time she put ink to paper.
He was her inspiration.
That was probably why she sent the money in the first place. A sort of redemption. Yet, the more she sent the money, the more paranoid she became.
Did he know?
Did the money get through?
Was his family insulted?
Was he grateful?
Was he looking for her?
The thoughts and daydreams plagued her, until all she could do to satisfy herself was to observe the delivery with her own two eyes. Ireland had proved the perfect environment for a reclusive writer.
Then the correspondence had started.
Tom's mother proved to be a charming woman. Genial and welcoming.
It was not long before letters became meeting, and meetings became house calls. But it was made very clear that her identity be kept secret, especially from the eldest LeFroy.
His mother suspected something, Jane knew. The woman was no fool, and it was possible she had even figured out the truth behind 'Elizabeth JBA'.
'Elizabeth Jane Bennet Austen'.
Thankfully though the woman was far too polite to ask outright.
When Jane heard that he was back...saw him with her own eyes...got chased through the city streets...
Well, she had panicked.
It was obviously that panic that had spawned the dream. The wild phantom-chase and fall. His strong arms and whispered nothings.
The memory of them made her entire body physically ache for him.
A warmth around her stomach began to fight off the familiar pain that encased her. A hot spot on her neck also began to do battle. It was not long before the pain was almost completely gone, a warm tingling in it's place.
Jane quickly snapped herself into consciousness, trying to remember how she came to in bed wrapped in another's arms.
Surly she had not!
She did not…take a…lover?
Slowly opening her eyes, the lady found herself in a most compromising position.
The warmth around her waist was the well muscled arms of a male, his breath the burning source of the shivers stemming from her exposed neck. Her back was pulled tightly up against him, their legs in a mighty tangle. Her hands were clutching his arms tighter about her while his features were buried in her now unpinned hair.
She had no idea ho to react. A scream began to well in her chest, and she breathed in deeply to release it when…
If there was one thing in the world she was certain of it was that smell.
The scent of musk and leather and hickory.
Tom LeFroy's smell.
A new feeling replaced the impending scream in her bosom.
It hadn't been a dream.
He had actually chased her over wood and dale the previous day. The reckless chase and miraculous return. The whispered confessions. The promises without words.
It had all been real.
He was holding her near him as he slept.
The game was up.
She was never so happy to be exposed.
Gingerly, Jane attempted to roll over. She had to see him.
She was halfway there when a sleep laden moan escaped him. His hot breath caressed her throat and cheeks, seeming to spread across her entire body and making it tingle.
"For heaven's sake Jane dear, do stay still."
His voice was deep and gravelly from sleep. It sounded just the way she had imagined it would. The way he addressed her, as if they were married! It brought a pleasant, flattered blush to her pale cheeks.
She could not contain the soft giggle that escaped her.
"Do you find something funny, darling?"
He continued with his familiar, half unconscious speech. She did nothing to correct him.
His sigh was deep, bringing her in closer contact with his incredibly well sculpted chest. She took the opportunity to finish rolling over, resituating herself within his arms.
When she was still his chin was in the top of her head, and her lips pressed against the base of his neck. Their legs were in even more of a knot, and her arms went underneath his, holding his shoulders tightly.
"Haven't slept this well in a long time, dearling."
The words knocked the breath from her. He couldn't sleep either.
Tears welled up in her eyes. Of course he didn't hate her.
It was just like every love story she had ever written.
Love is blind and merciful.
And Love always, always, wins.
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Gone Crazy and Staying There,