A/N: Sorry for the long waits in between updates. I like writing about Tory and Alex and love it when people take the time to review my story but I seem to have a hard time getting into their heads and so it takes me awhile to write even short bits. Rest assured I do plan to continue to update, though probably not as fast as some of you would like. I hope the waits are worth it :)
Tory waited somewhat patiently for Alex to return, hopefully with his son in tow. In the doorway a little boy clutched his father's hand as tight as he could. He hid behind Alex but from what she could see of him Andrew had Clara's blonde hair, Alex's light blue eyes and his ears stuck out a bit like Alex's did.
Kneeling down on the floor, she held out her hands to the boy, "Hello Andrew."
The little boy clutched his father's pant leg tighter and looked up at him with a question in his eyes.
"It's okay," Alex told his son, "This is Miss Darcy and she and I are going to get married. She'll be living here soon. She's really very nice. I hope you'll like her."
"Is she gonna send me and Momma away?"
Tory's heart cracked. How could she even consider sending the boy away now? Even if she was less than thrilled with his mother. "Oh, no. I couldn't do that, Andrew. I'd like to be your friend."
Gently urged by his father, Andrew emerged from his hiding spot and reached out his tiny hand to take one of Tory's hands, bowing over it. It was clear Alex had taken more than a passing interest in his son. The boy was being taught manners befitting his father's social status.
"It's an honor to meet you Miss Darcy. May I congratulate you on your upcoming wedding to my father?" Andrew straightened and looked up at his father, his face looking concerned that he might not have spoken properly.
Tory grinned; Alex's son really was a very cute little boy. Tory took her finger and turned Andrew's face back to her, "You did wonderfully and I'm honored to meet you as well. Do you have many playmates here?"
The little boy nodded, "Sometimes I play with John next door. He's fun."
"That's lovely. Do you take your lessons with him as well?"
"Lessons? I don't have lessons 'cept what Papa teaches me. Mum says I don't need no lessons as I'm not to be employed as anything better than a footman."
She looked up at Alex, alarmed at the boy's expectations for himself. Certainly the circumstances of his birth wouldn't help him advance in life but she didn't think it was appropriate to not give the boy every opportunity possible. Why with Alex's backing it was entirely likely Andrew could attain a respectable position. Not that a footman wasn't a perfectly fine occupation but surely he could at least be allowed to dream larger.
"Don't worry. I'm working on that," Alex assured her.
"You could always talk to Mother about it. I know she interviewed a number of tutors for Henry. Which reminds me," she turned back to face Andrew, "Do you think you might like to have another playmate besides John? I'm sure John is a lovely boy but I think that we all need more than one person to play with don't you? It helps us learn."
Andrew nodded his head enthusiastically.
"Well," Tory grinned, "I can't promise when you'll meet him, especially as he's not in Town at the moment, but I have a little brother who's a couple years older than you but I think you and he would have a lot of fun together. Perhaps the two of you might take the occasional lesson together. Henry, my brother, likes learning and he likes helping others learn too."
"Does he like to race? John doesn't like to race much. He gets in trouble for causing too much commotion."
Tory nodded, "Yes, Henry love to race. He also likes to listen to stories. Do you like hearing stories?"
"Oh, yes! But Mum doesn't ever have time to read me any."
"Would you like me to tell you one?"
Andrew's eyes widened and Tory knew she'd just won a friend for life. "Really? Would you?"
"But—but there's no books here."
Tory patted the floor next to her, "That's okay. I don't need one."
Andrew settled on the floor next to her, putting his head in her lap.
Stroking his hair, she began, "Once, a very long time ago, there was a knight…"
Backing out of the room Alex intended to go to his study and compose a letter to Tory's family letting them know she was safe and where she was. As he was passing the Entrance Hall, Varely was opening the door to a visitor he assumed would be summarily dismissed. The butler was well aware that Tory could not be caught in Alex's home without a proper escort.
Before Varely could give the person a quick refusal a familiar voice exploded, "Bancroft! You bounder! I didn't want to believe it when they said…but here you are! Where is she?"
"Bennet," said another low, warning voice. "Let's keep our heads until we get to the bottom of this."
"Mr. Darcy, Bennet, would you like to discuss this in my study?" Alex asked, glancing towards the parlor, thankful that Tory was apparently so occupied with his son that she hadn't noticed Ben's yelling.
No one spoke until the door to the study closed behind the three men.
"Well?" Ben asked, "What have you done with my sister?"
"I haven't done a thing with her."
"Then she's not here?" Ben looked panicked at this thought.
"I didn't say that."
"Please," Mr. Darcy said, "would you explain the situation before Bennet has some sort of fit?"
"It seems," Alex started, sitting in the chair behind his desk, "that one of my maids felt Tory needed to be appraised of some…sensitive information before we were wed. She was understandably upset and not thinking clearly when she came here, with Molly in tow, looking for answers from me. Molly, by the way, did make the effort of telling Tory that she didn't have a proper chaperone. I believe Tory was waiting for about an hour or so when I arrived."
"Victoria can be…somewhat impulsive with her reactions, rather like her mother," Mr. Darcy slowly explained.
"Yes, and since I've arrived home I've been attempting to calm her and explain things to her."
"I do hope," Mr. Darcy interrupted before Ben could make a comment, "that the maid in question will be reprimanded."
"She will be reprimanded, but I'm not going to dismiss her if that's what you're hoping. Though she went about it in entirely the wrong fashion, she did have her reasons for doing what she did. I had assured her that I would address the issue in due time, but apparently, the maid did not feel that my word was good enough for her."
"And what exactly did she feel was so important that she had to approach Tory about it?" Ben bit out.
"About six years ago, before we met at school, I had a…clandestine affair with one of our maids. Yes," he said when Ben opened his mouth to speak, "the same maid that talked to Tory today. Her name is Clara. After I was at school I received word that Clara had found herself with child. My father, in his kindness, dismissed her. Without references or severance pay. She had no way to care for the child nor was she going to be able to find gainful employment in her state. You know I had not long acquired this property. I found Clara and offered her a position here. I was not going to abandon my son to a life of destitution when I was capable of preventing it."
"That is…admirable of you," Mr. Darcy said.
"Thank you. Tory is currently in my parlor, along with Molly. When I left her she was telling Andrew a story."
"Andrew?" Ben questioned. Apparently he was having trouble making the connection himself.
"My son. If you'd like we can go see her and perhaps figure out how best to remove ourselves from this situation. I should warn you though, Tory hasn't mentioned anything about it so I don't believe she's yet realized the ramifications of her being here alone."