A/N: quick little ficlet that has been sitting in my docs file collecting dust for months. Takes place at some random point in time after Emily is put into quarentine.

He watched her from the door way.

She didn't know he was there.

So overwhelmed by everything, she took the few minutes she would be alone to sink into a chair, heave a great sigh, and let long held tears fall from her eyes. She cried in silence, too strong a woman, perhaps too proud, to vocalize her grief.

She was so beautiful in the moment, so vulnerable as well. He stood there, watching her, his heart breaking for her. There was no one near to comfort her, to offer her solace or strength. That wasn't right. And although it wasn't his place, he stepped into the room and approached her chair, pulling her into his arms and offering her a shoulder to cry on.

She pressed her face against his neck, silently taking comfort from him just being there. He whispered gentle, soothing words, his lilt as rolling as the hills of their homeland, the way he smelled and the way he felt reminding her of a time when life was so much more simple. She gave in to her pain and anguish, the confusion and heartache that had been plaguing her for weeks.

When her tears were over, and that strange relieved numbness settled over her, she left her head resting on his shoulder. His hands rubbed her back. He rubbed his cheek against her hair.

When their lips met it was unexpected. But it felt right.



A tiny caress of thumb over temple.

The way a finger could twine with a loose curl.

The tender brush of lips along a jaw.

Strong fingers grazing silken skin.

A meshing of bodies, mingling of souls.

An unselfish act, given by one for the need of the other.

That moment where, world be damned, to hell with propriety, something so perfect could never be considered sinful.

He gave her all of him, and she took everything he offered. His words telling her to let her worries go, just for a moment, think only of herself for this brief interlude.

She gave herself fully to his attention, letting the strain slide away beneath his kisses and caresses.

In that short time, she became nothing but a woman. He made her mind forget. He made her body sing. Her soul emerged from the dark shadows and reached for the light, knowing it could not last, but relishing the moment of freedom.

He called her by name, this was no time for formality, they would return to that soon enough. For now, she was just Margaret. He was only Owen. Until that time when they joined, and it became 'them' and 'us', even if it was only a short time, even if it might never happen again.

It was slow and sedate. It would be something that left no guilt in its aftermath, no shame for either of them. Their first time had been a whim, a lark, a test of some sorts in a way. This was an act of kindness and respect, comfort and healing. He wanted her to forget her worries briefly, to ease those stress lines that lately marred her smooth brow. He wanted her to remember that she was above all a woman who needed to, occasionally, think about herself, no matter what else drew her attention. He wanted her to understand he admired her strength and her dedication to her family.

He wanted her to know how greatly he respected her.

She let herself get lost in it all, feeling alive and unbowed for the first time in weeks. There, on the table she would later sit at with Nucky and Teddy, Owen made love to her, worshiped her in a way no one ever had, gave her a small window of time where she could be selfish and forget everything.

It didn't last long enough.

But it was still perfect.

There were no words, after. They slowly re-dressed, sharing small glances, and he graced her with a shy smile, lowering his eyes as she searched his face, wondering if she might find some deeper reason for what he had done.

"I'll be outside if ye need me," he told her quietly, kissing the spot between her eyebrows lightly.

"Mr. Sleater," she said as he prepared to walk out the door. He turned, his eyes soft, yet with that merry glimmer that seemed so much a part of him. "Thank you," she said, color creeping into her cheeks. It was the first time since Emily first fell ill that she looked almost healthy, almost happy.

"Aye," he replied with a small bow of his head. His mouth spread into that irrepressible grin that often infuriated her, always intrigued her. " 'Twas my pleasure, ma'am."