He couldn't be persuaded to love such a childish affair. "I won't enjoy myself," Benjamin said stiffly, looking down at his wife in her sick bed.
Lucy beamed weakly with the colour jaundice staining her round face. "But Johanna will. Off you go, Sir Knight," she said, wringing her hand gently from his grasp. Even inside, in bed, she insisted on wearing her bonnet.
A little like a child, Ben thought, turning his head from the yellow scene. He endured it for Lucy's sake. It was the colour of the Plague. And sickness.
He nodded. "Very well."
The pram was a spectacular cream white, decked with pink and yellow ribbons, and inside it, his gift with the gold hair. "Let's depart then, shall we my little princess?"
Infant Johanna, looking wide-eyed and placid like a blessed child from a medieval portrait.
"Don't read," Benjamin warned his wife, propped against the ruffled pillow with a romance book in hand. It would make her already ill mind spin.
She waited blankly until he'd eased the pram down all the stairs, then shouted out: "don't spoil her Ben!"
He didn't intend to spoil her. He thought of his wife all the way down to the end of Fleet Street. When the fever took her, and she muttered strange fears, he had no words.
He had promised them all a trip to the Florist the following Thursday, if Lucy had recovered.
The pram wheeled its own path through the crowd of fair-goers. He was searching out the woman who wasn't sick.
The carousel music followed them, until Johanna cried. He bought pink fairy floss to calm her.
"Fairy dust," he said to his gurgling child with impish fingers outstretched.
"Foolin' her already, sir?" The woman had her back turned, and was shooting brightly coloured balls into the mouths of clowns.
"All of us must have our fantasies." He began rocking the pram in time with the spinning of the carousel.
"Wot's yours?" she said sharply, turning haphazardly from the yawning clowns.
"Don't laugh." Ben gave her the pram. She took it lightly, taking no interest in the child inside. She might have been rolling dough.
"Wot?" She pretended to laugh, but the sham was already prevalent. The whole fair was a sham, designed to fool them all into believing they could spin their own invisible kingdoms.
"When I was a boy, I imagined this fair was faery-land, and that I wandered through on a dream somehow."
"It's a nice little dream, love," she said, moving one arm from the pram to him.
He didn't mention that he'd seen her too, a little girl in black lace, with a face as deep as the woods.
She'd been a part of the magic, and always would.
"Excuse me," said a distinguished voice behind them, and the two friends were forced to part.
Nellie frowned. "It's that awful Judge Turpin," she said, turning her nose up at the red-coated man and his yellow-haired companion, the stick-wielding Beadle.
"They say he's broken men's necks wif that stick," she observed.
They kept their bodies shielded around the pram, until the two men had disappeared into the faint lights.
"He won't break mine," said Ben, hoping to elicit that famous baker smile that men across Fleet Street laboured for.
She smiled, but they were no longer quite in faery land.
A/N: For Nellie Lovett Gracey and Eminently Practical. I tried to do a combination of both your requests. Sorry I couldn't make it happier than this, but at least Lucy misses out on the Fair!
Sakura Katana: Ha ha good request. I think that will be the final chapter, since I have indeed killed her off quite enough for now. ;)
Nellie Lovett Gracey: I know! I feel like such an idiot, because I couldn't see Stayne was going to betray her until it happened! I was fooled just like the RQ =O
the-sadisticalovett-nutcase: Yep, he's alive! I hope you're enjoying your break - I have a driving lesson to look forward to in less than an hour!
F8WUZL8: Thanks for the challenge! I think I know what to do with your request - leave it with me!
EminentlyPractical: Lol I love the Burton-in-the-park image ;) Again, sorry I didn't do more with your request, but I did put Lucy in the sick bed as way of compromise. =D
AngelofDarkness1605: Yes, I decided to make this chapter a tad longer! Well really it's not a very common expression, even in English. I sort of stuffed it in there to be obscure, so your confusion was legitimate! Still addicted to Patience? =p