Reclaiming His Heart

Wentworth paid the view the window before him offered no mind. Every muscle in his body stiffened as he realized the situation he had gallantly waltzed in to, for the first time in seven years he found himself nearly alone with Miss Anne Elliot. He had been at Kellynch Hall for weeks but he had carefully navigated any encounters like this with her – until now. Her presence had caught him off guard, and once again he regretted his brain's course of action. He had dumbly explained that he was told the Miss Musgroves were to have been there before retreating to the window he now stood before. Her face was as startled as his – she must have remained behind while the others went to breakfast to look after the young boy still recovering from his fall.

"They are upstairs with my sister: they will be down in a few moments, I dare say" was her reply after a few moments. He heard the rustle of her skirts and he braced himself for her flight, she would try to spare him, and herself, the pain of the moment. However her escape was prevented by the child's pleas for some service.

Wentworth struggled to find something to say, he might not get another opportunity to speak to her so intimately, to acknowledge just how acquainted they once were, but he knew that would only hurt them more. "I hope the little boy is better" was all he said as he sunk in to silence.

He could hear her motions as she knelt to attend to the child and her soft whispers to try and amuse him, the boy's weak laughter at one of her musings. He did not need to turn around to picture the scene that went on for several minutes. He only finally turned when he heard another enter the room. Unfortunately it was not Henrietta and Louisa as he had hoped, instead they were joined by Charles Hayter. Wentworth had only recently been acquainted with Charles Hayter and his knowledge was limited to knowing him to be a cousin of the family and Henrietta's intended.

Anne's attempt to get both of her unexpected visitors to sit down as the awaited the other ladies arrival prompted Wentworth to leave his window and attempt conversation with the new addition. Yet his advancement was short lived as Charles Hayter unfolded the day's paper instead.

The silence only lasted a minute as they gained another unexpected arrival, this time in the form of a young boy of two who was determined to have his share in any amusement being provided for his sickly brother. Anne's refusal to allow him to tease her patient only caused him to turn his attentions towards her as fastened himself to her as she attempted to work. Her pleas turned commands without any relinquishment from the boy. Wentworth listened as Charles merely admonished the boy without any move to help Anne. When he finally turned to witness the scene he resolved to step in. The few strides that had separated them were crossed quickly as he detached the young child from his grip around her neck. Their eyes met as she was finally able to straighten. He heard her try to give her thanks but they were drowned out by Wentworth's own attempts to console the boy. He saw her return to her patient and he focused on his own charge now as he attempted to engage the child. They continued on this way until they were finally joined by the rest of the ladies who assumed the care of both the children. He glanced up in time to see her slip out of the room as the other ladies surrounded the sofa, no one else had even seen her go. For the first time he realized his own arrival was likely just as painful for her as it was for him, a realization that left him with another – he did not want to hurt her.