A/N: Welcome to another story. This is a special one for me because I've always wanted to write something like this tale. It was inspired, of course, by the Tim Burton movie.

Okay, it takes place during the 18th century where Barnabas Collins was still human. It's BC/OC so if that bothers you turn around now. If you like it please review. No flames please. If you don't like it don't read it. Constructive criticism is welcome!

Rating will change to M in the future.

Disclaimer: I do not own Dark Shadows.


Age of Innocence

Chapter 1

The night had fallen and the woman's feet picked up their pace. She was late.

She could already see the large metal gates of Collinwood mansion, the soft light of the house barely illuminating her way. The fingers of her left hand tightened around her luggage as with her right one she held onto the letter she had received from the Collins' housekeeper, explicitly confirming that she had acquired a position in the household.

As she got closer and closer to the gates she straightened her spine and flicked her hair behind her shoulder so that her face was fully visible. Her bright green eyes perused the area before she slowly came to a stop in front of the gate guard.

"Good evening. I am here to see Mrs. Hattie Filch." She said quietly and the man regarded her with narrowed eyes.

"May I ask your business, madam?"

"I am the new household addition." She slowly outstretched her hand with the letter and he took it. He read it briefly and frowned.

"The letter explains that you should be here on the morning of October twenty first. It is now evening of the twenty first." He said as he handed it back.

"I was delayed because of the bad weather." She explained as she tightened her hold on her bag.

The man regarded her in silence for a few moments before he sighed, "Mrs. Filch won't like it but you can pass, Ms. Hawkins." He said as he opened the gate for her.

She took a deep breath and stepped through the gates.

"Most of the family has retired and the rest of the staff is cleaning up for the night so you must find your way to the kitchens alone. It's through there. Follow the trail and you'll arrive to the back door of the mansion. Rosy will open the door for you. She's always there." The guard said as he shut the gates again and nodded at her.

In silence she followed his directions, passing by the water fountain in the middle of the garden and then following the trail that led to the back door.

Tall trees decorated the path she walked on and there was barely enough light for her to see. The wind, still powerful and cool from the storm, blew her hair and she reached up with a hand to push it out of her face.

"Oh, for God sake's." she whispered when suddenly a rustling sound alerted her of someone's presence. She stopped and turned her head towards the direction of the trees, squinting in the dark until she saw a shadow a few feet away. The tall form of a man greeted her and she paused. There was more rustling about and the moment she was about to take a step forward a breathless voice resonated in the air.

"Oh, Barnabas!"

The voice was definitely feminine and it caused Samantha Hawkins to take an involuntary step back. As her eyes slowly adjusted she realized that the man was leaning over a woman, his head buried into the crook of her neck while his hands were tightly clasping her hips. From her place she could see the finery of the man's clothing and she realized with a start that she had just almost interrupted the intimate, and very public, embrace of one of her employers.

As more gasps and groans reached her ears her cheeks flushed and then turned on her heel and carried on walking.

As she rounded the corner she found herself in the back porch of the enormous mansion. She headed straight for the door and knocked twice. She waited for a few moments before the door was finally answered by dark haired young woman.

"Yes?" her accent was light and her voice smooth.

"Good evening. I am here for Mrs. Filch." Samantha said and the woman looked at her intently before she nodded and opened the door wide to let her pass.

"Come in. I will inform Mrs. Filch of your presence immediately." The maid said before she disappeared.

Samantha placed her luggage down on the marble kitchen floor and admired the large space. The kitchen utensils, the pots and cutlery were all in excellent condition and you couldn't even detect a fleck of grime or dust anywhere.

"I suppose you are the new maid." A loud, authoritative voice came from the door and Samantha looked up, the woman's words breaking her from her reverie.

"Yes, ma'am." She lowered her head.

The woman approached her and looked at her in the most scrutinizing way ever before she scowled, "You were supposed to arrive this morning. Where is your letter?" she thrust a hand out and Samantha quickly handed it over.

"It says it here. The morning of October 21st. Do you not know how to read, girl?" Mrs. Filch raised a single dark eyebrow at her, making her expression even fiercer than it already was. The woman had a severe face that spoke of years of hardships and hard work.

"Unfortunately I do not, ma'am. My father handled all my correspondence." Samantha said quietly.

"I see." the woman murmured, "You're from Portland, if I remember correctly."

"Yes."

Always keep your answers short. That's what her mother had advised. She usually had a difficulty doing so.

"Hmm."

The housekeeper's fingers gripped the young woman's chin tightly before she tilted her face up so she could look at her. Her gray eyes scrutinized her youthful features before he looked down at her body; from her bright green eyes to her slim waist and tiny feet.

"What is your name, girl?" the woman's voice was hoarse and her gaze imperious.

"Samantha Hawkins, ma'am." She replied as she made eye contact.

The woman gasped, "Such impudence." She spoke quietly, "Staring so blatantly at your superior." She murmured and then gripped Samantha's chin again.

"I do not know how your parents raised you, girl, but here we do not tolerate impudence. This is the Collins house and you shall conform to the rules. Number one; always conduct yourself with humility. Number two, never meddle with the work of the other house stuff. Number three, keep your focus on your work. Number four, work hard. You will be rewarded. Number five, always keep your eyes down when in the presence of the masters and the lady. Number six, do not slack. The sooner you start working the sooner you will be able to rest. Number seven, never hide your indiscretions from me because I will find out. Number eight, do not interfere with the masters' business. And last but not least, do not meddle with the young Master. He's the worst thing that can happen to you, I assure you." The woman let go of Samantha who blinked.

"The young Master?" she spoke quietly and the housekeeper nodded.

"Aye, the young Master." The older woman confirmed, "His name is Barnabas."

Samantha's eyes widened and she gasped as her cheeks flushed a deep crimson. So that was the gentleman she had spotted in the garden. How embarrassing.

"Something the matter?" Mrs. Filch commanding voice pierced the air and Samantha quickly shook her head.

"Good. The young Master is always more lenient but I wouldn't lose my head over that fact if I were you." The housekeeper said and Samantha blinked in confusion at her words.

"Now," Mrs. Filch tore her letter apart and discarded it on the table, "As a chamber maid your work will mainly evolve on the upstairs floors. Sheets, towels, linens and the cleaning of the bedchambers will be your main tasks. You might be asked to assist the other girls at nights in serving the masters' dinner." She turned and plucked a key from the table, "Your room is this way. Come along." Mrs. Filch walked ahead of her and Samantha picked up her things and followed her, her legs having a hard time keeping up with the woman's quick pace.

They rounded a corner and entered a long hall.

"This is the staff's quarters. Your room is the last one on the left. Here's your key." Mrs. Filch handed her the key, "Inside you will find your work clothes. You are always to wear your hair up so it doesn't get in your way while working and you are to keep your clothing in excellent condition. There is an adjoining bathroom that you can use along with Maria, the laundry maid. Wake up time is on six in the morning. Do not be late for you will lose breakfast." Mrs. Filch looked her up and down before she nodded, "Now go and rest. I will introduce you to the rest of the stuff in the morning. In addition, I will show you the upper floors and I will explain your duties to you. Good night." Mrs. Filch inclined her head before she turned around and disappeared down the hall, leaving Samantha to stare after her with wide eyes.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Samantha tentatively placed a towel on top of her pillow and then slowly lay down on the bed. As soon as her body hit the mattress she sighed in bliss and pushed her hair upwards so it could dry while she slept. She brought the cotton covers up to her chest and looked at the ceiling. She had never slept in such a soft bed before. Well of course there were better but when compared to her old hay mattress, the softness underneath her seemed like paradise on earth.

Her parents were farmers but the bad weather had almost diminished their annual profits for the last two years. She was an only child and she thanked God for that because there was no way her family could have provided for a fourth mouth. Her father had given little care to her education and she had always worked along with her mother. When she was of age her father had sent letters to every possible household that could get Samantha off his shoulders. She didn't blame him for that. She'd do anything to help her family and if she had to leave in order to achieve that, she would do it. And she did do it in the end.

At the ripe age of eighteen, Samantha had been sold to the highest bidder who had happened to be the Collins family; the richest family in Maine who owned a cannery business.

As Samantha looked around her she knew that if the downstairs rooms looked like her room did, all vibrant colors and good quality furniture, she couldn't even imagine what the upstairs rooms would be like.

As she lay there with her thoughts, noises came from the upper floor along with some voices and the sound of shoes hitting the wood accompanied the discussions. Samantha blinked sleepily and looked away from the ceiling. The small wall clock showed that it was after ten in the night and she had better go to sleep.

She had a long day ahead of her. She only hoped she didn't do anything foolish on her first day.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"Pick up the tray." Mrs. Filch pointed to the large tray that included a teapot, three porcelain cups, one container of milk and a jug of sugar.

Samantha wiped her sweaty hands on her crisp apron before she did as she was told. She gently picked up the tray and the housekeeper scowled.

"Hold it more tightly, child. The teapot and cups are worth more than you, I assure you."

Samantha flushed horribly and pursed her lips, trying hard to suppress her reply.

"Something you wish to say, lass?" Mrs. Filch asked and a giggle resonated in the air around then.

"Angelique!" Mrs. Filch snapped and Samantha looked at the dark haired woman who was standing with a tray of freshly baked cakes near the kitchen door.

"Sorry, ma'am." She replied in a thick accent; her expression not contrite in the least.

Samantha looked away and focused on the tray in her hands.

"I am going to introduce you to the masters now. Keep your mouth shut and answer when spoken too. Is that clear?" Mrs. Filch asked and Samantha nodded.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good. Follow me and watch your step." The older woman snapped before she walked ahead.

The woman named Angelique turned to Samantha and rolled her eyes before she followed Mrs. Filch out of the kitchen.

Samantha followed after them, trying not to rattle the tray too much. The silver tray showed her reflection to her and she could see her flushed cheeks and ashen eyes. She had not slept at all.

They climbed a flight of stairs and then walked down the hall that led to the dining room. Lavish, crimson curtains were adorning the windows and large French doors and the furniture was a dark mahogany color that made her dizzy by simply looking at it. The large dinner table was made for three and three of the comfortable looking chairs were occupied by two men and a woman.

"Hattie." The older man nodded at the housekeeper who smiled at him. Samantha was shocked. Mrs. Filch had never smiled in her presence. She turned to look at Angelique but the other woman was looking ahead, a glazed look in her eyes.

"Master Joshua. Your tea. And may I introduce you our new chambermaid." Three pairs of eyes were immediately upon her then. One severe, the feminine one merely curious and the third one…the third one was merely looking at her. Brown collided with green and the young man in the chair inhaled sharply before he smirked and inclined his head. His pale face was nicely defined with sculpted cheekbones, a straight elegant nose and soft looking lips. His hair was short and a beautiful dark brown color. What startled her the most was his gaze though; his eyes were a dark honey color and so vibrant and bright that they drew you in instantly.

"Welcome…" his voice was smooth and elegant and his posture straightened as he leaned slightly forward. Samantha's eyes widened minutely as she recalled her arrival and quickly blinked, trying to remove the image from her mind.

She could feel Angelique's gaze on her but she didn't dare look away, fearful of showing impudence again.

"Her name's Samantha. She's from Portland, my lord." At Mrs. Filch's words Samantha lowered her gaze.

"What is your age?" the patriarch asked as the younger Mr. Collins leaned back in his chair and regarded her with amusement.

"E-eighteen, sir."

"Hmm. What does your family do for a living?" Mr. Collins continued.

"They are farmers, sir."

"My lord, you could pass for a lady with those hair and skin." Lady Collins spoke up and Samantha inclined her head in silent thank you.

Angelique snorted and she received a glare from Mrs. Filch and a frown from Lady Collins.

"Are those cakes, Angelique?" Lady Collins asked and the other maid quickly nodded.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Samantha, tea." Mrs. Filch said and Samantha moved forward. She placed the tray on the table and distributed all three cups. She picked up the teapot and started pouring the tea while Angelique served the two men cakes. Out of the corner of her eyes Samantha saw her lingering near the young Master but she quickly averted her gaze when she moved onto Lady's Collins cup. Her hands were shaking madly as she poured the tea and by the time she was done sweat had beaded on her upper lip.

"Anything else, sir?" Angelique asked and when Mr. Collins shook his head in negation Mrs. Filch spoke up.

"I shall need your input in today's menu, Lady Collins." She said and the woman nodded.

"Of course, Hattie. I shall pass by the kitchens once I am done."

Mrs. Filch inclined her head and then walked away, "Angelique, come." She called and the dark haired woman followed her in silence but not before glancing towards the younger Mr. Collins first.

Samantha was left on her own as the three of them took their breakfast and conversed quietly.

"I hope you have woken up with a good mood today, son." Mr. Collins spoke up, "I shall need you to have a look at the new boats."

"Of course, Father. I am indeed in a very good mood today." The younger man spoke softly and Samantha dared a glance up towards him. Barnabas was looking at his father with a grin but he must have felt eyes on him for he turned and locked eyes with Samantha. Immediately she averted her gaze and her cheeks flushed.

"I think we shall throw a ball, Joshua." Lady Collins said brightly.

"A ball, my dear?" Mr. Collins asked with a raised eyebrow while his son gently stirred his tea, his gaze out of the window.

"Why, yes! It's time for us to find our son a proper wife."

Master Barnabas' spoon rattled his teacup as he let it go abruptly. Samantha jumped and looked at the table.

"Mother, I appreciate your ardor but I will find my own wife. You may organize a party but I wouldn't appreciate it if you forced your tastes upon me." The younger man said firmly and Lady Collins blinked.

"One would think that you do not wish to marry!" she looked aghast and her husband sighed.

"Naomi…"

"Of course, I wish to marry. But unlike the beliefs of this society, I would like to love and respect the woman I'd make my wife." Barnabas replied before he pushed his chair back and inclined his head.

"Enjoy your tea." He murmured as he placed his linen napkin on the table and then walked out of the room, his intricate coat flowing behind him as he made his way down the hall.

Samantha's eyes followed him until he was out of sight.

End of chapter 1

Author's note: There you have it! The first chapter. I hope you liked it. If you want more then please review and tell me your thoughts! Reviews are love and they feed the muse!

More of Samantha's duties on the next chapter! And of course more of the young Master. :P

Thank you for reading!

Xxx Lina :)