Title: "Light Me a Candle"
Length: 496 words
Summary: Post ep 2, Elizabeth Lilburn and Edward Sexby conspire.
Notes: Title & cut tag quote inspired by a gorgeous song you can hear on YouTube. I didn't have much to say straight out about the last ep; this conversation crept into my brain instead. It hasn't been beta read, so it's rather rough. Hope you enjoy it anyway. :)
The evening after Angelica's arrest, Elizabeth sought Edward out. She found him outside, where he had the habit of making his bed. He had pulled his hat down low, and his fire had burnt down. He did not wish to be seen, she thought, but refused to let him be.
"I am told you leave," she said, seating herself beside him. She reached out, tending the fire.
He gave her silence as she worked. Finally, he spoke. "Rainsborough is dead," he told her flatly, pushing his hat up. "My purpose here is at an end."
"Will you seek the army?"
"I do know not what to seek. Once more, " he said with a wry twist of his lips, "I doubt the cause. Tell me, do you believe Rainsborough died by the hand of Royalists alone?"
"That is the story we are asked to believe," she said.
"He was slain by men who fight for just enough equality to please themselves, but cannot stomach it for other men. Your husband is a threat to them, too."
"Aye. Yet he will not leave," she said pointedly.
"He has a purpose." He shrugged, raising his hands to warm them at the now flourishing fire. "I've not gift with words."
"Rainsborough is dead," Elizabeth repeated. The words fell heavy from her lips; he had been a light to them all. "Yet Angelica lives. Will you not stand with her, Edward?"
He pulled back from her, straightening. "I would better than that" he said roughly. "I would stand between her and all comers. I have. But I cannot stand between her and this." He shook his head, looked away. "My lady wishes to join her husband," he said quietly. "I cannot persuade her otherwise."
"No," she agreed, "you cannot. But the babe in her womb may yet."
He turned, seeking her face. "A young Rainsborough," he whispered. "She has told you this?"
"She sought my counsel as friend and mother."
"You think to convince her to plead her belly," he said, leaning forward.
Elizabeth nodded. "While the child grows, you may bring your energy to bear upon securing its mother's freedom, may you not?"
He smiled. "I may well."
Elizabeth felt so for him at his smile. She knew what it was to love one first and best whose best love was held elsewhere. She reached out and grasped his hand firmly. "Good Edward," she said, "should our lady live, she may yet find in you a heart the equal to her own."
He sucked a breath deep, and had to recover his words before he could speak. "I hope only we may preserve her life," he said. "I do not hope..."
She nodded, releasing him. "I do," she said. "I hope for you both all good things."
He looked away, into the fire. "We will see tomorrow what hopes we might bring to life."
She stood. "Tomorrow."
Further note: According to Wikipedia, that great source of TRU FAX, "Pleading the belly was a process available at English Common Law, which permitted women pregnant with late stage fetuses to receive a reprieve of their death sentences until delivery. The plea was available at least as early as 1387 and was eventually rendered obsolete by the Sentence of Death (Expectant Mothers) Act of 1931."
I've messed around with history, in honor of the series, and decided that in TDW's alt!England, even women in the early stages of pregnancy could plead their bellies.