A/N: Well, here it is. The next chapter of a supposedly-already-finished story. But you all were so insistent, and I can't bear to disappoint you, so here is a continuation of the story.
This takes places not moments after the events of the previous chapters.
Oh, and a little disclaimer: I am not particularly knowledgeable about events during and after the American Revolutionary War, and did not actually do any research for this (I know, I know, I am a bad writer), so some of this may not actually be historically accurate. My apologies for any misinformation and/or mistakes.
That said, I still hope you enjoy!
Ben gaped at her in shock, opening his mouth to form some kind of response, but Felicity cut him off.
"No! I don't want to hear it, Ben! I almost don't want to believe it really is you, because the Ben I know would never behave like this! How could you!"
"Look, Lissie, I apologize for my behavior, okay? I'm sorry I didn't exercise more restraint, didn't follow the rules of society, I just carried away, and I just had to kiss you…."
"That's what you think this is about?" her voice rose in incredulity. "You think I actually care so much about the impropriety of you kissing me that I would slap you?"
He looked confused. "You mean, you don't?"
"I could care less about that kiss!" she stated baldly, failing to see him wince slightly.
"Alright, so what else could I have possibly done to drive you to hitting me this soon after meeting me again?"
"That's exactly the point! I'm only seeing you now!"
He still looked confused, and she sighed exasperatedly. "Ben, the war's been over for a year now. You were supposed to come back right away, come back and complete your apprenticeship. But you were gone for a whole extra year, no letters or anything, and I was so worried, so worried that something might have happened to you.
"And after all that worry, I see you here, happily attending a ball mere miles away from Williamsburg instead of returning home and telling us all you weren't killed! You could've at least had the decency to come see us before coming to this party!"
His face shuttered closed, becoming harsher than she'd ever seen it. "So that's what you think, is it? That I've been running around the country for the past year, attending parties and neglecting my responsibilities? Well I won't disabuse you of your notions, if you want to believe them so badly."
She opened her mouth, intending to protest, but he cut her off. "Tell your father I'll see him in the morning. Good night, miss." He turned and strode purposefully away.
Felicity ran after him. "Wait, Ben! Wait!"
He ignored her, entering the ballroom again and heading for the front entrance.
"Ben..." her voice trailed off as he got too far away to hear her.
He was here. Ben was really, really here, right in front of her, hale and healthy as he had been when he left. Relief warred with anger inside her.
How could he have done this to them? To her? How could he have forgotten so quickly his commitments to the family? And why on Earth was he now so upset at her? She hadn't been the one to neglect her duties and leave them all hanging, waiting for word that he'd survived alive.
But he was here, and alive, and not hurt…she could've sobbed in relief.
And then he'd left. How dare he just run away from her?
Well, she wouldn't let him do it. She ran for the door, skirts clutched in her hands, dodging as well as she could amongst the crowds of people. By the time she'd made it to the front door, he was just about to swing up onto his horse and ride off, leaving her again.
She couldn't bear it. "Wait, Ben!"
He just looked at her, then turned back to his horse, sliding his foot into the stirrup.
She rushed forward and grabbed his arm. "Benjamin Davidson, don't you dare get on that horse!" she cried, tugging at him.
He turned, his face impossibly controlled as he shook her off. "Tell your family I will be by to call on them tomorrow," he said, voice horribly calm.
She nearly burst into tears. "Ben, please…"
His face twisted at the evidence of her emotions in her voice, and he stopped trying to mount the horse, placing both feet back on the ground and turning to face her. "What is it, Miss Merriman?" He kept his expression blank.
"Ben…" her voice broke. "Ben, I'm so glad to see you." And she threw her arms around him, partly to keep him there with her and partly to reassure herself that yes, he was in fact there, healthy, unhurt, with her.
It took a moment for him to respond, and then his arms slid around her waist and he lifted her up of the ground, holding her so tightly she almost couldn't breathe.
It was wonderful.
"I missed you," he whispered in her ear, his rough voice sending tingles down her spine. "Every hour of every day, I thought of you, and prayed you were safe."
"You prayed that I was safe?" she laughed, drawing back. "You were the one off fighting a war! I was so worried about you!" She sniffed, and realized she was crying. "I was so afraid that you'd be hurt, that you'd be killed, that I'd never get to see you again…"
He smiled, handing her his handkerchief. "Ah, Lissie. I promised I would come back, and so I have."
"But where have you been?"she asked, wiping away her tears. "We've been so worried, what with the war over and done for a year yet no sign of you."
His smile soured. "You think I've been off enjoying myself, neglecting my duties to your family." He made as though to push her away.
"No!" she cried, clinging to him. "No, not really, I don't. I didn't mean what I said earlier, I just was so happy to see you that I wasn't really thinking."
He looked at her for a long moment, as though he were trying to peer into her soul. "Alright," he said at last, "do you want to know where I've been?"
"I'm warning you, it's not a pretty story. Are you sure you want to hear it?"
She nodded again.
He sighed, and looked down, seeming to look right through her. His eyes became haunted, and she could feel him tense.
"About six months before the end of the war, my battalion was traveling to help the people of Boston. Along the way, we were ambushed." He paused for a long moment before shaking himself and returning his mind to the present. "You don't need to hear all the details," he told her, giving her a small half-smile. "Suffice to say that a few of us were taken captive."
He continued. "The British Army had take quite a few prisoners, from all across the countryside, and now had more than they had facilities to keep. So they packed us up onto ships and sent us across the ocean, back to Britain. Once we had made it there, it was mere weeks before peace was negotiated.
"But peace was of no help to those of us trapped over there. Yes, we had been released from prison, but were provided no means of transport back to America. Jobless, penniless, we were left on the streets to fend for ourselves as best we could.
"And so we did. I found work at the docks, loading and unloading ships as they came in to port, and eventually I had saved up enough to buy myself passage on a merchant vessel, back to New York.
"I was lucky, really." His voice took a sober turn. "Some of the men were sick, or wounded…we tried to help them, but…"
Watching his face, Felicity could see that he'd lost himself in his memories. Desperate to pull him back out of that, she hugged him close. "But you made it home."
"Yes. I made it home." He stroked her hair. "In fact, I only made it in to New York two weeks ago. I stopped by my family's home, then came straight here to see you and your parents. I only stopped at this party as a favor to a friend of mine, who wanted me to join him here tonight. I was going to come by tomorrow and explain everything."
"Where are you staying tonight?"
"Ahh…" he scratched his head, looking a bit awkward. "Well, I don't exactly have a plan…I've mostly been sleeping in barns and waystations, but there isn't one around here, so…"
"Come home with me," she said impulsively.
He raised his brows. "Wouldn't it be best for me to return tomorrow, in full daylight, where I can meet your whole family again and explain myself fully?"
"No, come with me tonight. You can stay at our house for the night, and be there to explain everything to Papa in the morning. You don't have another plan, so why not just come with me?"
"Well, alright, I suppose." He laughed. "This is certainly not how I'd pictured things happening."
"Oh, really?" she asked, suddenly in a teasing mood. "And what had you imagined happening?"
"Well, I'd come back to Williamsburg and stop by your store, during the day, of course, and apologize to your father for being so delayed in returning. I'd tell him what I told you this evening, and then be invited back to your house for dinner. I'd take up my place as your father's apprentice again, living in your house, and then eventually I'd be made a partner in the store and I'd—" he stopped short, suddenly, looking as though he'd revealed too much.
"Yes?" she prompted. "And then you'd…?"
"Never mind," he said with a twisted smile. "You'll find out eventually. For now, though, let's get you your coat and be on our way home."
"Home." She smiled happily, content to let the mystery pass for the moment. "I'm so glad you're home, Ben."
He grinned at her, and it was as though he'd never been gone. "Me, too."
A/N: Well, there you have it. There will be at least one more chapter, Ben's point of view, coming up (at some point) (soon, I hope). And then I might do another set of chapters (both Felicity and Ben's point of view) after that, but we'll have to see.
So, what did you think? Reviews are much appreciated!