Author's Note: This idea has been kicking around in my head for a while. Grace and Warbucks are absolutely one of my favourite movie couples of all time – the 1982 version with Ann Reinking and Albert Finney was played beautifully. But I have always believed that there was much more to their story than we see on the screen – which is obviously Annie focused. In short, I don't believe that the first kiss that we see between Grace and Warbucks on screen (at the party, during the singing of "I Don't Need Anything But You") was actually their first kiss. I don't think he would do that to her – put her on the spot like that. I believe they use the party as a chance to let the world know about them. Also, the way they kiss and hold one another at the very end as the fireworks are going off is tender and comfortable – not at all the way they would be touching each other if they had just suddenly shifted, in public no less, from secretary/boss to a couple in love. And so, this story is a possible background explanation of how they came to be together. Plus I am sucker for hurt/comfort stories and I don't think Grace's feelings about Annie's kidnapping were dealt with sufficiently (aka not at all!) in the movie.
The police were being escorted to the door by Punjab and Grace Farrell had just taken Annie upstairs to put her bed after the harrowing ordeal on the bridge.
Oliver Warbucks, trying to relax with a drink, couldn't stop thinking about how close he had come to losing Annie that night. He had known there was something not right with the Mudge couple as soon as he had laid eyes on them but, as they had both the birth certificate and the other half of the broken locket in their possession, there was little he could have done to stop them from taking Annie. From his balcony he had watched her leave with them, his heart breaking, and had tried to console himself with the fact that what Annie had wanted most in the world was to find her real parents.
As the car had driven out of sight and he had re-entered the house he was sure he had heard the faint sound of crying from Annie's room. His heart had almost broken again to hear the sound, he was so wrapped up in his own distress that he had almost forgotten how upset Miss Farrell, Grace (when exactly had she become Grace anyways?), would be about losing Annie. He hadn't spoken to her since the Mudge's arrival and she had disappeared into Annie's room to help the little girl pack. It was Grace who had first suggested keeping Annie; in fact it was Grace that had brought Annie into their lives in the first place. He knew she must be devastated and he wished he could do something to take her pain away. But the sound of her soft sobbing paralyzed him - it was one thing to hand a handkerchief to a teary woman in the movie theatre but this – with this Oliver Warbucks had zero experience. And so he had retreated to his office and left Miss Farrell, yes – it was best to think of her as Miss Farrell, to suffer alone.
When the orphan girls had made their way to his home and informed him of the deception he had suspected from the start, Miss Farrell was right there at his side organizing the staff and making phone calls. Her face was calm and composed; no trace of the tears he knew she had been shedding an hour earlier. And when they left the house to conduct their own search for Annie, Miss Farrell had slid into the car ahead of him and assisted him as ably in this crisis as she had in many other business undertakings.
When they had reached the bridge and exited the car, Oliver held out his hand for his secretary as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He held on tight to her as they watched Annie struggle at the top and only let go of her to grab Annie from Punjab's arms and reassure himself that his little girl was safe. For a brief moment Grace had, in her excitement, held them both in her happy embrace but then she had backed off, as was appropriate, to give her boss his personal space. Somehow, despite all the turmoil of the moment, as Grace extracted herself from the happy pair the thought flickered through Oliver's mind that he wished she might have stayed.
The trip back to his home was a bit of a blur, Oliver drove while Annie sat between himself and Grace snuggled into his secretary's side. He kept looking over at the pair to make sure Annie really was safe and he couldn't help but notice how decidedly maternal Miss Farrell looked with the girl's head curled against the soft swell of her breast. Back at the house, Oliver had sat in on Annie's interviews with the police while Grace had disappeared to take care of all the other matters that needed attending to. When the police were done and it came time to put Annie to bed, Oliver discovered that the other orphans had all been found rooms for the night, the press had been dealt with, and a drink was ready and waiting for him at his desk.
And so there sat Oliver Warbucks, billionaire businessman, contemplating how dramatically his life had changed in the past week. He knew that all the money in the world would have meant nothing to him if one red-hair on that little girl's head was harmed. And he knew just who he had to thank for bring about this wonderful revelation.
Oliver waited what he hoped was an appropriate amount of time for a little girl to be bathed and readied for bed, and then headed upstairs to Annie's room. Knocking gently he found his secretary tucking the already sleeping child into bed just as she had done a couple of nights ago when they had brought her home from the movies.
Looking up to see her employer as she gently kissed Annie's forehead, Grace whispered to him.
"She's exhausted. She fell almost as soon as she was out of the bath."
Oliver nodded, his gaze lingering on the little girl as Grace straightened up and smoothed her skirt. Oliver's eyes finally shifted up as he sensed her presence next to him in the doorway and he took in the sight of the beautiful woman in front of him. Her hair looked lovely down – she had been wearing that way since the morning after the movie – the morning she had asked him if they could keep Annie. He briefly wondered why she had started wearing it that way, but wasn't complaining – it made her look so much more feminine, so much more youthful. But looking closely at her face Oliver could see that Grace looked exhausted. And yet she still somehow managed to maintain a great measure of composure and dignity, an air of...well, grace.
Closing the door behind him as they exited the room, Oliver tried to maintain eye contact with his secretary but she looked down and then away.
"If there isn't anything else you need sir, I'd like to..."
"Grace." She looked up at him again, tears brimming in her eyes.
Oliver forgot whatever it was he was going to say when he saw those tears in her beautiful blue eyes. He reached down for one of Grace's hands and stretched his other hand up to gently touch her cheek. "Don't cry."
His tender touch and soft tone had quite the opposite effect from what his words commanded. She started sobbing, her shoulders shaking, and she suddenly leaned forward into his broad chest. She found herself immediately wrapped in his strong arms and heard him whisper "Shhhhh." in her hair, as if he was comforting a child. This only made her cry even harder.
Oliver, not really having a clue what he was doing, simply did what came instinctually when someone you cared about was in pain. He stood there in the hallway holding on tightly to Grace, letting her cry out all the sorrow and fear she had been holding in. He regretted not going to her earlier in the evening when he had heard her tears for this moment between them felt completely natural, and he almost laughed at himself for thinking it would be awkward.
At the same time his brain was processing this thought, he realized why it might have been awkward. Grace was his secretary, and until a few days ago when Annie had informed him that Miss Farrell thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread, he had never considered her much beyond that. He had never considered anyone in life much beyond that.
As her tears abated and the shaking subsided, Oliver tried to gently remove Grace from his arms and lead her down the hallway to a stone bench near the top of the stairs.
"I'm sorry sir..." Grace managed to sniffle out, her face crimson in embarrassment for falling into her boss's arms.
"Grace." His voice was stern and she looked up to meet his eyes. "Call me Oliver."
She nodded, still blushing, and allowed him to escort her into a sitting position on the bench. "Oliver." she managed to whisper.
"Grace." Oliver started again, taking one of her hands in his and rubbing the outside of it lightly with his thumb. "Thank you. Thank you for everything – everything you have done for my business, everything you have done for Annie, everything you have done for...well, everything you have done for me."
Grace had been concentrating on watching his hand entwine with hers, wondering just where this was leading. She had cared for her employer so long and he had never, not until Annie, shown her the slightest bit of encouragement other than his implicit trust that she would look after him. Was it possible that...maybe...just maybe...? He had held her hand earlier tonight when they were searching for Annie – he had held it as tight as a vice. And the other day he had told her how pretty she was. And now, she looked up at him, he was thanking her?
"Oh sir...Oliver, you don't need to thank me. I was just doing my job."
"No, Grace. You have gone way beyond the duty of the job. Watching you in there with her...you love that little girl."
"Yes, Oliver. I do." Grace gripped the hand he had wound into hers. "I was so scared tonight..."
Tears began to gently fall down her face again and she made a futile effort to wipe them away with her one free hand.
"I know. I was too." Oliver replied, reaching up to wipe the tears away with his free hand. "But, somehow Grace, with you at my side tonight, I just knew things would be okay."
"Look Grace, I know I am not exactly the ideal...I mean I might not be the right...I'm probably not what you...damn, I wish I knew how to say this!"
Grace, looking at their linked hands and blushing furiously, smiled at him and took a chance.
"I love you Oliver."
Oliver Warbucks stared in amazement at this woman - this beautiful, intelligent and wonderful woman who had somehow become a part of him he couldn't live without - and leaned forward to gently capture her lips with his own.
"I love you Grace." he spoke finally, as their tender first kiss ended.
The couple looked adoringly at one another and leaned back against the wall, Grace's head resting against Oliver's shoulder and his one arm around her, keeping her safe and close, his other hand holding hers with their fingers interlaced. They stayed like that for quite some time, until it was apparent to Oliver that Grace had fallen asleep. He picked her up, as he done with Annie just a few days earlier, and carried her into her room.
The bed had already been turned down, so he laid her gently down, removed her shoes and covered her up lightly. He imagined the dress wouldn't fare well as a nightshirt, but he didn't dare touch her in any unseemly way, and anyways he could buy her a new one. He would buy her a million new dresses, just as soon as he had bought her a ring. Cursing slightly to himself as he realized that meant a trip to Tiffany's on his own, as he obviously couldn't ask his secretary to do this task for him, Oliver suddenly smiled.
He knew just who to take with him – Annie.