YEAH, I CHANGED IT. SO FREAKIN' WUT?
Anyway, I edited in the storyline about the coughing because I needed it for another story I'm planning with Dodger. I didn't feel like it would make sense if it wasn't in this fic first. Sorry! R&R, please!
The sky was clear. The sun shone down on the world, and their was a warm breeze that rustled the grass. It seemed that all of London was happy.
Well, except for one soul.
He was walking on a hillside, far away from the bustling city. With a small, potted rose in his hands, he strode across the grass, stopping in front of a recently refilled grave. A small boulder stood at the head of the grave as a marker. For a few moments he stood there, staring at the marker. Then, his knees buckled.
He collapsed on the ground, placing the flower by his side and holding his head in his hands. Tears fell onto his over-sized jacket.
"Why?" he whispered into his hands. He remained there, sobbing, for quite a while. Finally, he lifted his head, his swollen eyes on the boulder. He dug a small hole alongside the grave, took the rose out of its pot and placed it inside, pressing dirt around the rose to keep it steady.
He rose to his feet, walking slowly to the marker, where he kneeled on the ground once more, one hand on the boulder.
"I love you, Nancy. I always 'ave, 'n I always will." He shut his eyes tight, letting a few more tears fall. "I 'ope you like it there in 'eaven. And I'll miss ya, 'cause I know I ain't going where you are."
With one final sniff, he got to his feet, the flowerpot in his hand. He twitched his head to bring his ragged top hat to an upright position, and trudged back down the hillside.
----15 years later----
"'Urry up, Dad!"
A ten year old, blonde-haired girl ran ahead of her father and brother across the hillside.
"Wait fer me, Nancy!" An eleven year old with rusty colored hair ran after her, leaving their father behind. The boy caught up to Nancy.
"Race ya!" the boy said, and took off. Nancy frowned and took off after him.
"Ollie, no fair!"
Their father, quite a ways behind them now, laughed a strange, raspy laugh. He walked, cane in his right hand, limping after them. He'd been injured while working at a work camp in Australia.
He shuddered at the memory. The confounded carriage had come out of nowhere and was about to strike little Jackson Manningford, one of his fellow workers. It had all happened so fast: he'd run, pushed him out of the street, and it went dark.
And now, over a decade later, he was stuck with a limp, his time served. He'd learned the craft of carpentry; made his own cane, in fact, and owned a small shop in London, which also served as a house.
He looked quite ragged; he wore an old coat that had been patched in several places, and a very old, tattered top hat; he'd had both his hat and coat for quite some time.
He looked up and realized that the two children were out of sight. Worried, he hobbled up the hillside, only to find the boy laughing at the girl, who was laying on the ground. Their father bent down and pulled the girl up.
"Daddy! Ollie tripped me so 'e would win the race!" Nancy told him. Her father frowned and turned to look at the boy.
"Oliver James Dawkins, what were you -cough- thinkin'?"
Oliver looked at his feet in shame. "I'm sorry, Dad. I, I wasn't thinkin' straight."
Mr. Dawkins narrowed his eyes. "That's right, you werant! And you, -cough- Nancy May Dawkins, you shouldn't 'ave -cough- run off like that." His harsh face turned to a smile as he ruffled their hair. "S'okay, though. Jus' try not to run off anymore."
Oliver and Nancy both nodded. Mr. Dawkins patted Oliver on the head. "Now, what the 'eck did you stop fer, you two rascals?"
Oliver and Nancy giggled at their father's strange accent. They knew they'd been adopted, and were taken in by Mr. Dawkins when they were little, but they still laughed at his funny way of talking. They were from a different part of Britain then Mr. Dawkins.
Mr. Dawkins smiled. "Why you're not laughing at me, are ya?" he asked. He grabbed Nancy around the waist and spun her playfully in the air.
"Hey! Daddy, put me down!" she yelled, laughing. Her father did as commanded, smiling.
"After all these -cough- years, me accent's still -cough- funny?" Mr. Dawkins coughed harder, and doulbed over in a fit of rasps. Oliver and Nancy looked at each other, both feeling pity towards their father. While in Australia, he had suffered from diseases his body wasn't prepared for, and one winter he had suffered from such a bad case of pnemonia that his lungs were still 'out of whack', as he put it. His immune system was impaired as well, and he had to be careful so he wouldn't become ill in the winter.
"We stopped 'cause we saw that thing, Dad," Oliver said, pointing. Mr. Dawkins followed his finger, and his heart sank.
There, on the hillside, was a small grave with a boulder as a marker. Next to it was a large rosebush.
"Wot a pretty bush that one rose became," Mr. Dawkins murmured, ending with a soft cough. Nancy looked up at her father.
"Dad, have you been here before?"
Mr. Dawkins looked down at his daughter, and wrapped an arm around her. "Yes, darlin'. This is where a…close friend o' mine was buried. Yer -cough- namesake." He took a deep breath. "Could you an' Ollie wait here a -cough- moment?"
Both children nodded, and watched as Mr. Dawkins walked over to the gravestone and knelt down next to it.
"It's been a while, 'asn't it, Nancy?" he muttered, stroking the stone. "I got caught by the traps, ya -cough- know. Was a long while ago, though. Now I'm walkin' with a limp and a cane, 'n I -cough- can't stop hackin' fer the sake of me own life. Guess I got wot I deserved, -cough- eh?"
Mr. Dawkins continued to talk to the stone, as Oliver and Nancy stood a ways off.
"What's wrong wit' Dad?" Oliver asked.
"Can't ya tell? Why dya think 'e never got married, eh? I bet he loved her," Nancy said. Oliver's eyes widened in understanding and he nodded.
Mr. Dawkins stood up. "I'll come see ya again, Nancy. I promise I will," he said, and turned to his children.
"Dad?" Oliver started. "If she was Nancy's namesake, am I named after anybody?"
Mr. Dawkins smiled. "Yes, indeed. A kind young man I'd known -cough- once, and 'ope to find again someday." It was true. He did want to see Oliver again, to apologize for everything he'd done. He smiled and added, "That was back in my -cough- younger days."
Oliver and Nancy exchanged a glance, as if they couldn't imagine their father having 'younger days'. Their father wrapped an arm around each of them, and they started to walk home.
"Ya know, I didn't really 'ave a 'ome back -cough- then. Lil' Oliver was a good mate. I didn't deserve to know -cough- 'im." He looked down at his feet.
Oliver smiled. "Yeah, but now you've got us!" he said.
Mr. Dawkins smiled and pulled both of them closer as they walked. "Tha's right, and I'm -cough- glad for it."
Nancy laid her head against her father, and said, as she'd often heard him say, "Yep. It's a fine life."