Author's Note: This is based on the BBC's "Return to Cranford." The love story between William and Peggy struck me, and I wanted to explore their feelings for each other.

Disclaimer: I own nothing here.

William Buxton

Our love has been put to the test. My love has been put to the test. But I have never wavered, for could there be one so enchanting as Peggy? I scarcely noticed her when I first met her. The dog preoccupied me, and I was embarrassed. I was afraid to look the mourners in the face after the grave had been desecrated. I remember a young woman's voice, tentatively trying to reassure me. But I was too ashamed to glance at her.

Then when the Bells came to our house, Erminia liked her immediately, though not so much the other Bells. And Edward was indeed a stuffy man. When I'd heard of his gambling debts, I could scarcely credit it at first. For someone so bent on being proper to have such a vice? But he struck me as so unpleasant that perhaps it wasn't a surprise after all. He did seem unabashedly selfish. And dear Peggy was willing to risk herself for him, despite everything. I admire her for that. And more.

She is brazen yet circumspect. A combination hard to find. When she rode that horse bareback—I think that's when I fell in love with her. Why must women ride sidesaddle anyway? 'Tis a most useless convention. Perhaps people fear that we could somehow see up a lady's skirt otherwise. But I surely saw no such thing with Peggy that afternoon. Though, if there'd been a chance that I could have . . . Mayhap there's a reason for such traditions after all.

Erminia was right. I did not appreciate what true work was until Captain Brown employed me for the railroad. Though life was rough in the camp, I still wish to be an engineer. For it interests me. I feel that we should always follow our interests. I did not mind anything I did, as long as I could marry Peggy. It hurt when father castigated me for my choice, but I hoped that he would eventually come to see Peggy's value. And when he did, I stood amazed. After expressing so much disdain for her, he came to see her virtues, and I am confident that one day he may love her as a daughter. Hard work reaps its rewards.

Peggy is worth all that.

Peggy Bell

When I first laid eyes on him, I thought that he was gorgeous. Those blonde curly locks—rather unique, but cute. His blue eyes—if the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, then his is most beautiful, I remember thinking. And time would prove that his soul was indeed beautiful. More than anything, I sympathized with him. That dog refused to be caught. When William knocked down the vase, I heard mother hiss in vexation. Edward rolled his eyes. William apologized fumblingly, and I liked him even more. I attempted to reassure him, but he still seemed so nervous.

Mother didn't understand. She still doesn't. "You have no charm!" she said upon hearing of our engagement. That stung. Bitterly. How could I explain what was between William and me? I felt so comfortable around him, more so than I ever had in my life. He seemed at his ease as well. Our very souls—they complement each other perfectly. At least if feels so.

He is solicitous. I remember the first time; it warmed my heart. He noticed how uncomfortable I was in the sidesaddle and asked me what was wrong. No one else would have ever commented on such a thing. I was frank with him, and he seemed to appreciate that. He even agreed that it would be better for me to ride bareback comfortably than sidesaddle awkwardly. Before I knew it, he dismounted, entreating me to do the same. His smile—it felt as if it was just for me. I found myself involuntarily grinning as well. The debacle was our own little secret.

Soon we had many such secrets. I showed him where I went when I wanted to be alone. It was tranquil. I could stare at the blue sky and the verdant fields for hours. Contemplating. He would do the same. We could enjoy a quiet moment together there. Sometimes we would talk, and sometimes we would sit in silence. But it was always lovely.

When Mr. Buxton opposed our engagement, I feared that William would have second thoughts. But I had no reason to do so. Our love tested, it prevailed.

I do not deny that those moments were hard. But they were good. It reinforced what we both knew, that our love was real. It proved that our love could withstand anything. And I knew, after that. Our love will forever endure.

William and I cannot be broken.