Title: At Dusk
Genre: Romance
Rating: K+
Couple: Tom/Hester

author's note: Mortal Engines is my favourite novel, and probably always will be, so I decided to write a one-shot. This is set after the first book, but way before Predator's Gold. Hopefully they're in character, but in such a situation it's a tad hard to write. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy!

This evening, the Jenny Hanniver was a Queen. Beautiful as it steamed through the midnight sky, prying away clouds, almost like they were bowing towards the fabulous machinery. Tom Natsworthy believed if he were one of the clouds, then he would have bowed for it as well.

A silent, soothing breeze tousled through his jet-black hair and he inhaled sharply, fresh air filling his lungs. It was fantastic at the moment. The moon was bright and full of life, casting a glow –– it was a sight Tom refused to let Hester miss. Beauty, for her, was a rare sight.

He found her inside, scribbling on a piece of paper, calculating their earnings from trading today. When the door opened, Tom realised he was rather loud, surprising her a little. The scarf which usually wrapped her scarred face was out of reach, which, for some reason, Tom was pleased with.

Confidence was Hester's prime weakness, and she was the strongest woman he knew.

'You should come outside.'

Tom couldn't fathom whether she was either sneering, smiling or simply looking at him, but he smiled either way and when she hesitated he took her hand. It was as if he electrocuted her. Hester, at once, retreated but followed him anyway. Admittedly, Tom didn't feel taken aback by her refusal. It took time with her, and he was willing to be patient. She deserves that much.

Maybe he grew a little excited that she had joined him, but Tom was keen for her to see the things he saw. Hester needed to appreciate how wonderful the world truly was, even if her sight had been damaged. Both stood on the edge, leaning forwards a little to swallow in this breathtaking sight. Lights seemed to glitter from below; moving towns winking at them as they passed.

When Hester pulled the collar to her coat higher, Tom sighed. Don't hide from me.

They had only been travelling for a month, so he shouldn't expect so much from her so soon. However Tom couldn't help wonder if they were... well, possibly a couple. Hester never spoke on the matter, and just the slightest hint made the girl withdraw.

Yet that kiss. When London was up in smoke, when it was just them two, alone, finally together, hearts still beating –– she kissed his cheek. And it was there he realised she was beautiful.

Nothing else compared.

'What do you think?'

Hester nodded. 'Yeah, it's nice.' It was a short, and rather blunt response. He noticed her feet shuffle, an implication she was about to leave, but Tom quickly held her in place, his arms wrapping around her waist and claiming her surprisingly small hands. She stiffened. A deep silence fell between them, and he tightened his embrace, propping his chin on her shoulder.

Then she began to breathe again. Soothing. She... even smelt quite nice, actually.


A smile crawled over his lips. 'Shh, it's okay.'

Never had they been so intimate. Tom's heart pounded against his chest, and it almost made him laugh how such a broken girl could make him feel so much.

She was a damaged soul.

His voice caught in his throat, and the man was taken aback when he felt tears stinging his eyes, threatening to escape. No. Tom couldn't cry in front of her. The last time he was silly enough to do so was, well, a long time ago. Before they knew each other.

To think, there was a time in his life when she didn't exist.

Now –– she was the only constant.

Hester's hands slipped from his, and then claimed his arms gently, pressing herself against his chest. She's trembling. Losing control.

Because of him.

'Let me go.'

It was a sharp command, and he obeyed, warmth leaving him instantly. Tom stepped back so she could return, when he met her eye. Hester, accidentally, let her guard down and winced when they came into contact, before quickly strolling back inside. However the male adolescent grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him. His hands gently held her face, and she shrunk back, timidness now more explicit than ever. It broke his heart to see Hester this way. The horrific scar which travelled down her slightly tanned face, the cracked lip, savagely removed eye. A finger trailed over her chapped lips, and a shiver shot up her spine.

'You poor girl,' Tom whispered, brushing his nose against what remained of hers, closing his eyes. 'Poor girl...'

And Hester kissed him, made a move the two had been desperate to commit for so long. Tom responded at once, sighing happily, his lips caressing her own, the jagged scar barely noticeable against his tongue. Neither were experienced, but Tom had kissed another girl in the past, and she was generous enough to let him explore.

However this girl, this amazing lady, was reluctant, practically breathless against his soft and warm touch. Never had such affections been offered to her. Her heart pounded, and she was worried it would burst.

How could a gorgeous angel kiss a broken gargoyle?

When Tom leaned forwards, craning his neck to deepen their buss, Hester pushed him away violently. She remained speechless, catching her breath whilst Tom tried to figure out his wrongdoings.

But they both knew nothing was wrong. However, Tom still wanted to redeem himself.

'I'm sorry, I... didn't mean to hurt you––'

'Give over, Natsworthy,' Hester sneered. 'I'm not that fragile.' Then he noticed her twitch a tiny smile.

She enjoyed that.

So he smirked.

'You're not bad,' he complimented.

Hester's face burned, scars turning a tinge of blue. Tom laughed.

'No really––'

'Shut up.'


'I'm going back inside.'

Tom let her go, but he continued to beam, proud of what had occurred between them both.

Next time, though, he wouldn't submissive.