So, this turned out being absolutely nothing like what I set out to write for what will most likely be my one and only ACGaS. Originally, it was set on Christmas eve, it was James who was missing, and it was a one-shot. But then I decided I'd rather write a story where everyone was worried over my favourite character, Tristan - as that never seems to happen too much, bless him - and it grew. Because of the large number of fics I'm working on right now and the fact I am still in full-time education, I will be updating this based on the number of reviews I get, while still keeping in mind that this isn't the most popular fandom in the world.
ANYWHO, on with the story.
The moon continued its haunting ascent over the hills. The clouds cleared, leaving the air uninsulated and frosty. The icy roads glistened in the moonlight.
In Skeldale House, Helen sat chewing her lip on the sofa, staring distractedly through the gap in the curtains. Siegfried, sat on the other end reading the newspaper, glanced up. He folded the newspaper into his lap and leant towards her.
"My dear Helen, whatever is troubling you? Here we are, finally a quiet evening, and rather a pretty one I might add, and you don't seem able to enjoy it at all." His brow furrowed. "What is it?"
She looked at him, and then to her lap, now chewing the inside of her mouth. "It's James. I'm certain he should be back by now, he's never usually this late."
As if to emphasise her point, the clock chimed ten.
Siegfried smiled a little. "Not to worry, my dear. You must remember that my little brother is also absent. But you don't see me letting my mind run away with itself." He patted her knee, his smile broadening. "James will be back safe and sound, you mark my words."
Helen smiled, and eased into the seat a little.
The front door opened. Helen rushed out into the hall.
"James," she sighed, relieved. She went to him and helped him off with his coat.
"Hello, Darling," he said, cheerfully. "Sorry I'm late. Trist wanted to stop off at the Drover's Arms. I thought it would only be for a few minutes." He had taken off his coat now, and hung it up, still looking at his wife. "Eventually I had to just leave him there. A right state he was in too!"
"But how will he get home, then?"
"Oh, he's got the car." James put his arm around her waist and began to lead her upstairs. "I walked back. That's why it took me so long."
"But James, it's awfully far."
"I know. I'm awfully tired, and I want to get to bed."
"Morning, Siegfried," said James, entering the living area.
"Good morning, James. Had a good sleep, I trust?"
"Yes, thanks." He sat down at the table and poured himself some tea. "What time did Trist get in in the end?"
"Oh, goodness knows. After I went to bed."
James laughed. "A lay-in for him, this morning, then."
"Not if I can help it," said Siegfried, getting up.
James smiled to himself as his partner left the room, and picked up the newspaper.
Mrs. Hall had just come in with James' breakfast when Siegfried came storming down the stairs again.
"He never came home!" he bellowed, bursting into the room. "That scoundrel has completely shirked his responsibilities. He spared not a thought for his work, not to mention the people people who are… relying one him, who may be worrying about him, who have utterly no idea where he may be." He lowered his voice a little as he sat down. "You know, I may actually kill him this time, James?"
James smiled. "Not to worry, Siegfried, I'll go out and find him after breakfast."
"Would you? Thank you, James. And when you find him, would you make sure he knows what's coming to him?"
James parked up next to the Drover's Arms and looked around. No sign of the car; Tristan had definitely left last night.
The public house seemed to be open, even at this time of day. James got out of the car and went in. One or two patrons sat sombrely in corners alone, quietly nursing their drinks. They stared at James as he walked up to the bar, and he smiled uncertainly back.
"Ay-Up, Mr. 'erriot. What'll it be?"
James smiled again, resting his hands on the bar. "Nothing for me, thanks. I'm here to ask about Tristan."
"Young Mr. Farnon?"
"Yes, that's right. He was here last night, wasn't he?"
"Aye, that's right. If I remember rightly you were too, Mr. 'erriot."
"Yes. But I left."
"Aye, I remember. Had to throw Mr. Farnon out, Mr. 'erriot."
"Throw him out?" said James, surprised. "Why, whatever did he do?"
"Didn't do nothin', Mr. 'erriot. But he were gettin' too drunk, like. He were a danger to 'imself."
"Oh, I see. What time was this?"
"Just past midnight."
"Oh, alright. Thanks very much."
"No problem, Mr. 'erriot."
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