"The Covered Way of Love…" (Part One)
A/N: The sequel to "How Delicious Was the Glow…," following on from the end of the 2005 BBC adaptation of Sarah Waters' Fingersmith. (I own nothing!) Originally published on the sadly defunct site fingersmithfever dot com, which now lives on only in the Wayback Machine (but some excellent authors posted there, if you're interested).
That day was one of those rare, glorious Autumn days, as I've come to know over the years. Of course, I didn't think any day was glorious, when I was a girl in London ― for every day is gritty in the Borough. We had only cared whether there was rain, that might keep the toffs indoors but make getaways easier; or whether there was snow, that might make our hands too numb to pick locks. But I had experienced some days like this one the year before, when I had been content to walk silently with that strange girl in her wooded park. At first I had enjoyed our outings because I didn't have to play the part that I played so badly, and I could keep my thoughts to myself; but eventually, I liked just being in her presence, seeing her out of that damned library and breathing the fresh air. Then Gentleman had come and ruined everything, even our walks.
Now here I was, standing at the curtains in my shift, so caught up in all these memories that I didn't even hear Maud call out to me from the bed. She stepped behind me, lifting up my hair to kiss my shoulder. "A fine lookout you must've made, peering out the window while you let someone sneak up on you from behind. I said, how's the weather? Sue?"
I turned and kissed her quickly, but couldn't muster a clever response. I could see it in her face, a flash of recognition, as she blinked and waited. The moment had changed, even though I didn't want it to; I wanted to be distracted from my memories, not to let them set the mood. But I knew ― we both did ― that our time together would not always be gay.
"It's a fine, fine day," I said with a reassuring smile, "and we'd better get out, because we'll be cooped up in here all day to stay warm, soon enough. Not that I'll mind…," I winked as I leaned my head against hers conspiratorially. I thought of adding, "Remember how we stayed warm, last year?" ― but then thought the better of getting tangled in that particular rat's nest just yet.
Maud smiled, looking at me earnestly; and when she saw that I didn't want to say anything else just then, she touched my face and kissed my forehead decisively. "Quite right," she said. "Time to go survey your estate, my love. But I must warn you, I haven't been out much lately. We'll have to brave the jungle, and whatever beasts might be living in it."
"You can't scare me," I said, as she turned away from me to head for the clothespress; "I can be a beast myself!" And I reached out, growling, to pinch her, as she swatted my hand and bit her lip to keep from laughing.