I do not own Little House on the Prairie nor any of the original characters.

I do not know how often I will be able to post, as sometimes I have to go to the library to post. Be forewarned, there will be adult situations in at least one chapter...hence the reason for the T rating. Also, for the time frame I have this, Hester Sue was not on the show. However, I need her so...she's in. I'm not sure if Lars would have been on the show or not,..he's in no matter what.

Stranger In Their Midst

Chapter One

The wind was blowing fiercely through the air and the clouds were throwing down raindrops as lethal as bullets. No animal or human could be seen anywhere. Inside the Olsen's café, the customers found themselves having more than enough time to catch up on the latest news, as the violent storm had caught everyone off guard and now they were stuck where they were. Not that it hurt Mrs. Olsen's feelings any, as she simply saw it as an opportunity to make more money.

The customers, which included Charles Ingalls, Dr. Baker and the good Reverend, were so busy visiting they did not notice the stranger in the corner. To look upon her, one would guess the woman to be around thirty. She had pitch black hair that set in a bun on the back of her head and her attire was a simple blue gingham dress. She wore no jewelry except for a simple small gold band on her left hand. No, there was nothing to make it so she'd draw any attention and, to be honest, the stranger preferred it that way.

"I wish this rain would let up." Mr. Cotton, a farmer who had recently moved to Walnut Grove spoke up. "My mrs. is going to be worried 'bout me." In the short time the Cottons had lived in the area, everyone knew that Mrs. Cotton had to be Harriet's twin sister! That meant everyone in the café knew Mr. Cotton was really saying he didn't want his ears blistered for getting home late. He'd actually been complaining quite a bit and it was starting to get on everyone's nerves.

"Well, if you're so eager to get home to that wife of yours," Charles spoke up and pointed towards the door, "go ahead and get home. That is, unless Harriet Olsen locked the door; it should be open." Murmurs of agreement rippled through the room shutting the man up. Well, shutting him up momentarily.

Hester Sue ignored the murmuring and mumblings and made her way to the corner table where the stranger sat. As always she wore a cheerful smile, though she couldn't wonder what the matter was. The stranger had been keeping an awfully close eye on the table where Charles, Dr. Baker and the good reverend sat. "May I get you something?" Hester held a notepad in one hand and a pencil in the other ready to take the stranger's order.

"Just a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee," the woman answered as she turned her head and watched the rain which was still falling at a pretty good speed, even if it had slowed down a bit. A part of her wished it would rain forever; another part wished it would stop so the majority of customers would leave. She'd never been at home around any size of crowd and the café was packed full; that meant she was feeling rather uncomfortable.

Hester Sue sensed something was troubling her customer, but knew better than to pry into another person's business. "Yes, ma'am," Hester answered as she wrote the order down and turned to leave, only she found herself stopping and turning back round. "Is everything all right, ma'am?" If there was something wrong, Hester Sue wanted to help. That is, if she could.

The woman stiffened ever so slightly, not even that it was noticeable though and kept her eyes on the rain. She hadn't realized her moodiness had been showing. She couldn't have that; she couldn't let her guard down again. Letting it down, meant getting hurt, and she didn't need that either. She answered with a matter of fact tone in her voice. "I wouldn't worry about me. I'm fine. Thank you for your concern."

While Hester Sue was not completely convinced, she turned around and went to get the soup. She couldn't stop herself from thinking and wondering about the stranger in their midst. Hester Sue didn't remember seeing her before and wondered where she'd come from. Because of the gold band on the woman's hand, Hester Sue was assuming she was a widow. After all, what married woman would be traveling by herself? Because she had her mind on the stranger, Hester Sue about bumped into Caroline cooking at the stove.

"Hester Sue, are you all right?" Carolina set the order she'd just finished aside. She didn't like the worried looked upon her friend's face. Hester Sue explained what was on her mind.

"She just wants some soup and coffee, but something's not right," Hester Sue answered, "I can feel it." She could too, but with nothing solid to put her finger on, the good woman knew there was nothing she could do.

Carolina dished out the soup and set it on a tray for Hester Sue to carry out to their guest. "There's nothing we can do if she refused to talk. Here's her order."

While Hester Sue carried the soup to their guest and poured her coffee, Hyrum had finally turned his head enough to see the stranger sitting in the corner. His eyebrows furrowed just a tiny bit. She looked familiar and he had the feeling he should know her, only from where? He started pulling up one memory after another trying to find something, anything, with her in it. He was still trying to remember when Charles chuckled and tapped him on the shoulder. Because he could see where Hyrum had been looking, Charles assumed the stranger's beauty had caught the good doctor's eye. That being the case, he teased Hyrum, "You in there?"

"What?" Hyrum shook his gaze off the young woman and looked at Charles and Reverend Alden, both wore grins a mile wide on their faces. "Oh, sorry, my mind was elsewhere."

Charles and Reverend Alden wisely kept any comments to that statement to themselves. "Looks like the rain is taking a break, I best head back for the mill while I can. Who knows, maybe I'll catch a break and get to go home early."

"See you, Charles." Reverend Alden and Hyrum said the words at the same time, causing all three friends to laugh. Charles then left, as did a number of other customers. Before long the place which had sounded like a class full of students, held only two pupils…Hryum Baker and the stranger in the corner.