1

"What is this?"

Lucy looks up to see Nellie standing in the doorway, an envelope clenched tightly in her raised fist.

"It's a letter," she says, trying to sound casual and unperturbed. She turns her focus back to the pile of silk on her lap and picks up her needle. It's the last silk gown Johanna will likely have for a long, dark while, and she fully intends to make sure it's finished before her daughter grows too big to wear it. "I was hoping to send it out this afternoon."

"To who?" Whom.

"A... friend. I think he might be able to help with..." Lucy clears her throat and ties off a careful knot at the end of her thread, plunging it into the silk and pulling it tight. "... with our situation."

"With Ben, you mean."

She takes an unsteady breath through her nose. "Yes. With Ben."

Nellie stomps into the room, her heavy boots shaking the floor. "That's a load of-"

Lucy looks up at her, frowning.

"- hogwash," Nellie finishes, but she slams the envelope onto the table beside Lucy. "What're you up to?"

Lucy stabs the needle through the silk again, nearly driving it into her fingertip. "Must you constantly pry? It's really none of your business."

Nellie throws her head back and laughs. "You're livin' in my 'ouse, love. It's my business when I say it is."

Lucy looks up, dropping her sewing to rest a hand over the letter. "If you must know, I'm accepting an invitation to a dinner party. The judge who presided at the trial invited me to talk about getting the charges lightened. We might not be able to get Ben back right away, but perhaps in a year or two. Five or six, at the very most."

Nellie's eyebrows rise until they sit only slightly lower than her tangled mess of hair. "Really. Judge Turpin invited you to a dinner party."

"Yes."

Nellie stares at her. "Hogwash," she says again, though the look on her face suggests she'd much rather say something else.

"It is not!"

"One, 'e's a bloody liar and a crook. And two, 'e doesn't 'old dinner parties."

Lucy scowls. She stands, placing the sewing carefully behind her on the armchair. She leaves the needle in the silk and secretly hopes Nellie might sit on it. "Fine, so what if it's a few hours after dinner. There will be other people there... and I'm a married woman, I don't exactly need a chaperone anymore. I don't see you heading off to the market –or wherever it is you go – with a nanny or a nagging landlady dogging your every step."

"You're a blithering idiot, Lucy Barker," Nellie says. "I could go to the marketplace in the dead of night and I'd still 'ave a better chance of coming 'ome conscious than a woman alone at one of Turpin's parties. Surely you've 'eard the tales."

"The tales also said my husband was a murderer and a thief. Forgive me if I don't put much stock into them."

Nellie's eyes narrow. "You're not bringing 'im back, Lucy. I 'ope you know that. And if 'e ever does make it 'ome, it's not going to be because of anything you did, or any letters you wrote, or any parties you graced with your royal presence."

Lucy's stomach tightens, and she places her fingertips on the letter, pinning it down. "Maybe not, but I have to try."

Nellie huffs, blowing a curl out of her face and tossing her head like an impatient horse. She stomps around the room, and snatches the letter from the table, pulling it from under Lucy's hand. She shakes it in her fist, inches from Lucy's face. "Try, then. Do what you 'ave to do. Sell your body, sign your soul away on contract to Satan 'imself, write a letter to Turpin... I don't care, so long as you don't come cryin' to me in fifteen years when your husband comes back to find you with nothing but a sullied reputation and an 'eadfull of bloody bad memories."

Lucy narrows her eyes, "If I come home crying, I can assure it won't be to you."

Giving a disgusted look at Lucy's handwriting scrawled across the front of the envelope, Nellie crumples the letter into a tight ball, throwing it into the dusty corner. "And next time, Mrs. Barker, buy your own paper. I'm not a bloody charity."

The slamming door rattles the window and sets Johanna wailing like a banshee.


A/N: Hopefully you enjoyed this. This particular fanfic will just be a collection of drabbles and oneshots I wrote in the ST genre, in no particular order and with no particular theme. Some of them were based on songs, and some were prompts, and some were just... written. But hopefully you'll get something out of them and keep reading. Right now I have 5 written, so you're guaranteed that many, at least. I won't wait too long between updates until they're all posted, and after that... you get them as I write them, I guess.

Thanks loads for reading.