Author's note: Well, here we have it… A little longer than I had intended for what's sort of an epilogue. Well, Epilogue Plus, I guess (the 'plus' being the fluff I couldn't stomach earlier)…
For a sensation one formerly held in such familiar terms to be rendered alarmingly foreign. Yes, Emily Merchant was quite bewildered about how to calm her racing heart. It used to be standard form to be taken by such a state on a daily basis. But in the past few months, nothing so shocking as poorly prepared grouse had threatened her tranquil life.
Tranquil was not quite the word she'd use for it. It was a bore.
Prior to dashing through that first gateway, she had been unhappy with her life. Now, now she was downright miserable. It was impossible to feign interest in the social niceties, to play her role as wife to a lord. She managed somehow, perhaps from that slim hope that she might have the opportunity to run off once again. Or perhaps it was the faded memory of those arms wrapped tightly about her, of those sad blue eyes.
Yet, she had nowhere else to go. And the Merchant family had accepted her fable, if only to avoid scandal. She had suffered a brain injury in the ruckus that day, wandered off, was taken in by a charitable sisterhood of nuns -catholic yes, but a much more respectable fate than others that could've befallen her, and upon regaining her memory returned home to her husband.
She lived in comfort and ease, despite the gossip-mongering and suspicion. Her heart and soul, however, remained absent, as if she had left them long behind her.
That was until she had sat down this morning with her husband's newspaper. It was unladylike to be interested in anything but the society pages that discussed which ball was well-received and which gowns were on display the previous evening. Emily always went straight for the 'hard' news. She could never have said quite why, that was until now. Because she had found it.
And her heart, whose existence she had begun to question, had leapt into her throat and then took a pace to best those set at Epsom Downs. Her hands were shaking and she couldn't seem to manage steadying them. Furtively, Emily glanced around. Thankfully, the elder Lady Merchant found the presence of the younger mistress of the title intolerable and was conspicuously absent from the back parlour. Lord Merchant, too, had vacated the sitting room without her notice. Likely out on a hunt with Lord Fitzsimmons and the Duke of Coveney, somewhere she still longed to be (not for the company but for the outdoors and vigorous activity) but no longer even made the futile effort of the request.
Were there servants lurking nearby? There always were, whether they were visible or not. Thus, despite being seemingly alone, Emily calmly set aside the paper, rose from the settee in a smooth movement, straightened her skirts and bodice and collectedly traversed the large manor to her rooms. As soon as the heavy door closed with a soft thud behind her, the bottled emotions burst forth from her like a whirlwind.
It could only be a gateway. The author of the article hadn't the slightest notion on the origin of the strange creatures. Nor the magistrates or constabulary he'd interviewed. Nobody knew. But Emily knew. It simply felt right.
Throwing herself on her stomach upon the plush oriental rug, Emily peered under her bed. With a smile, she reached into the dark depths and pulled the small trunk from its hiding spot. Hidden somewhere not so secret as to arouse real suspicion. It took several tries to loosen the straps that held it shut tight, her hands were still trembling with excitement.
On top, resided the item she had most removed from its trove, gently handled, depended on for solace every night only to tuck it securely away every morning. She buried her face in the fabric, though it had long lost the scent she sought. It was a presence that had taken root deep inside of her, however, and she still felt the comfort of it. Would Matt even realize she had taken it?
She blushed a little, as if she were a young girl with a keepsake stolen from the person of her beloved. Not even a beau, just a man with whom she had been secretly infatuated. It wasn't so silly as all that, was it?
Perhaps, it was.
But there had been something about that man, something that stirred her in ways she'd never experienced before. But more than all of that, there had been this underlying vein of comfort despite all of the confusion, frustration and excitement of being in that time. And it had been in the form of a man. An Irishman with a piercing blue gaze, the weight of the world on his shoulders, and an insufferable protective streak.
He had hugged her so tight.
Emily resisted the urge to shed all of her clothing, wrap herself in the reassuring embrace of Matthew Anderson's liberated shirt and crawl into bed and dream of a place where she belonged.
Now, there was the chance she could find that place of which she dreamed. Because those creature attacks... they had happened just a couple of days ago. There was a chance that the gateway was still open and that she could get to it in time.
Oh, the chances that it led to where she really desired to be were nonexistent. Fortunately for her, however, she would gladly accept being anywhere but here as consolation. She set the shirt gently aside.
They had kissed goodbye. A quick peck on the lips. She oft lamented its brevity, its curtness. But she knew why it had been so. Anything more... anything more and she wouldn't have been able to leave. Anything more and he wouldn't have been able to let her go.
She pulled her old clothing from the trunk -the worn corset and corset cover, the drawers and skirts, the jacket- that had become like a second skin over the years. They had wanted to destroy them, and so as not to seem contrary to being generously accepted back into the bosom of Merchant family, she had not argued. She had, however, instructed Amelia to save the items (surprisingly the young woman had been kept on the staff even though there was no lady to tend to after Emily's disappearance). And brilliant girl that she was, Amelia had done so.
Damn! It was near impossible for a lady to extricate herself from such an elaborate bodice on her own. Emily fumbled about, feeling for the pins and fasteners that held her prisoner in her receiving gown.
"May I be of assistance, ma'am?"
Emily yelped. Her poor thumping heart actually skipped a beat before continuing its excited pace.
"Bollocks! Amelia, You frightened me!"
The maid looked thoroughly admonished by the strong language from her mistress. Emily felt guilt bite at her stomach.
"I believe I owe you an apology," Emily said, turning her back to her 'inferior' whom also happened to be her closest companion. Amelia's deft fingers quickly set about the task of liberating Emily from the layers of silk and cotton.
"Not nes'ry, ma'am. I ought to have announced m' presence."
That's not from where the bulk of the guilt was derived.
"It can't have been easy for you..." Emily said. "After my...er... disappearance."
She had told Amelia the truth. It was a horrible pressure that she just had to release or she'd burst. And the only one she trusted was the servant.
"You're leavin' again."
Amelia's voice was flat, as if she were commenting upon the weather with no real care to whether it poured. It was an obvious fiction of a carefully tailored demeanour.
"I believe there's a gateway in Brighton."
Emily stepped out of her skirts, shed the underclothes and began to dress in those laid out upon the bed, that were not much more than rags really (at least in comparison to the elegant pieces stored in the numerous, elaborate wardrobes purchased for the sole purpose of housing her gowns). She didn't look at Amelia.
She shrugged into Matt's shirt, buttoning it and tucking it into her skirts reverently, before adorning her leather jacket.
"You'll be searchin' for 'im?" Amelia asked. Emily had been careful to guard her emotions when speaking of Matt to her ladies' mai-friend, but the young woman was obviously perceptive. When she met her gaze, Emily was truly struck by the emotion in the depths of her grey eyes.
"From what you told me... you mightn't even find 'im. Beggin' your pardon, ma'am, but you 'ave a home. I know it's not the 'appiest, but it's more than a lot got, if you take my meanin'. And I'm sorry for sayin' so, but 's the truth."
"No apologies are necessary, Amelia." Emily forced a smile on her face, realizing that she would indeed miss one thing from this life. "I'm glad you've spoken your mind, because it's time we say 'goodbye.'"
The look of pure desolation on Amelia's face tugged at Emily's heart. Suddenly, she felt compelled to make her friend understand.
"This isn't my home," she said. "And no longer is it my parents' house, as it once was, when I was a child. It's been so long since I felt as if I truly belonged in a place..."
Amelia nodded. "My home is with you, m' lady. Always has been."
It took a moment for Emily to take the young woman's meaning, and when she did it shocked her into silence. She really ought to dispute Amelia's intentions, but the thought of some of the places she had been on the other side of the gateways... to be alone. It was frightening. To have a friend might ease her journey.
"Traveling clothes," Emily said. "Only what you can wear. And anything you think useful. But only what you can carry on your person with ease."
Amelia smiled broadly.
"And don't let anyone catch you at it."
The maid promised exuberantly to be quick and discreet, before she practically threw herself at Emily's bedroom door, which she had thankfully closed tightly upon originally entering so that no one had overheard the exchange.
"And you had better start calling me 'Emily.'" This gained her the rare grin that lit up the girl's entire face before she disappeared into the vast manor. She really was quite pretty when not playing the demure servant girl she'd been fated to be in life. Well, apparently, fated only for the first part of her life...
Perhaps, she shouldn't have... Emily shook her head, casting the foreboding thoughts away. Amelia was just as trapped and miserable as she, and Emily could not bring herself to leaving her behind without the little comfort the station of
'lady's maid' bestowed. She'd be demoted to scullery maid or something worse this time. Perhaps, thrown out altogether.
But this way, maybe the young woman who had only defined her existence with service to others would also find a place where she could be herself and still belong. A real home.
Emily sighed as she pulled on her boots and tucked the dagger into the left one. This was not going to be an easy journey. But she had never been one for the easy path. Even when she was a little girl, Emily always took the long road home...
145 years later...
"I love you, Emily."
The strong arm that was wrapped about her waist pulled her tighter to the naked body she was curled against.
"I know," she said. A sharp, little stab of pain made her flinch as the flesh of her side was pinched by the same hand that had been caressing her skin so gently.
Lord, he could be so infantile and apparently was in constant need of reassurance (even though he well knew her feelings). But, she supposed that she could give him it this one night, since it was a special occasion.
"I love you, too, Matt."
She was rewarded with a full, tender kiss, that were she not already entirely spent, she would've definitely seen developed into more. Of an equal mindset, he instead relinquished her lips and they returned to laying easily in one another's arms. Emily sighed when her husband of less than a day (and all of eternity) fell asleep. His breathing was a slow, steady rhythm that lulled her.
And as her eyelids grew heavy, she nuzzled into his warm flesh once more before joining him in her dreams.
Emily's last thought as she drifted off to a blissful sleep was that she had finally made it home.
A/N: So, sort of just realized that this is the most epic/longest fanfic I've written thus far. Guess these two just hardcore stole my imagination.
And now, maybe I can scrounge up some Primeval Series 5 episodes... (although I watch them with my friend, generally, so the waiting on her is quite painful!)