A/N: So did anyone just bust out laughing at the way Francis said "Don't leave me with this quack," in the finale? Because for some reason I just found it hilarious. I'm also stretching the timeline a bit of the Better Times Are Coming episode for this fic. I'm going to go ahead and apologize in advance because I don't know when I'll be able to update over the next month and a half due to limited access over Christmas break. If I'm unable to update over break then I promise that when I'm able to, I'll update with more than one chapter. Anyway, thanks for the reviews, they're very encouraging and I'm glad you are enjoying this! I own nothing. Enjoy this next chapter!
Chapter 3 Irish Stew
Gwendolyn spent the next morning in an old dress covered in flour. She had two of her famous apple pies in the oven and her house was filled with the smell of apples and cinnamon.
While the pies baked she opted for a bath.
Her hair dried while she cleaned up the kitchen and tidied up around the house. She wore her ivory colored silk robe embroidered with pink roses on the bottom and the sleeves, over her undergarments.
Once she decided everything that needed to be cleaned was clean, she spent the next few hours reading. She finished Persuasion as well as going over the next week's lesson plan for school.
At five o clock she dressed in a dusty rose dress and put her hair up in a loose chignon. She was sure to rub lavender essential oil on her wrists and collarbone. Lavender was her absolute favorite scent; she even preferred it to rosewater.
There was a knock at the door.
When she answered the door there was a very pretty blonde woman on the doorstep in a beautiful green dress.
"Hello, I'm Elizabeth Haverford. May I come in?" she said politely.
"Of course." Gwendolyn moved aside to allow Elizabeth entrance and closed the door behind her.
"We can sit in here," Gwendolyn said, motioning to the drawing room.
Ms. Haverford took a seat in the same armchair that Francis had sat in a few days before.
"I'm sorry I don't have any tea made at the moment," Gwendolyn said, "I was just getting ready to leave."
"Oh I hope I'm not making you late."
"No, no. I can make some tea if you like."
"Oh it's quite alright. I shan't be too long. I am here because I heard from an acquaintance of mine that you are the new teacher?"
"Yes I am."
"And how is that going?"
"It's going quite well, thank you. My students all have a lot of potential."
"Most children do, but sometimes that potential can be lost if not nurtured."
Gwendolyn nodded in agreement.
I also heard that your father is a senator for Massachusetts. Is that true?"
"Yes it is. Who did you hear it from?"
"Just a close acquaintance, I might be able to introduce you to him. I actually came here because I would like to extend an invitation to you for Thanksgiving."
"Well thank you. I'll have to get back to you on that though. I'm not sure what I'm doing yet."
"I see, well the day before I will send someone to get your answer."
"Tell me, do you enjoy the theatre?"
"My father took me to a few plays when I was younger. I have excellent memories of them. They were wonderful."
"We shall have to go to one soon then. Well it has been a pleasure but I must go."
Gwendolyn led Elizabeth to the door. "Thank you for your visit Ms. Haverford. It was very nice meeting you."
"And you as well, Miss Clover. I hope to see you soon."
After Ms. Haverford left Gwendolyn placed each apple pie in its own paper bag and two bars of lavender soap. She set out for the police station.
She was glad to see that all three men were at their desks when she knocked on the doorframe. Francis hopped up quickly and walked over to her.
"Gwendolyn what are you doin' here? I thought our dinner date was at 6? And I thought I would come to your house."
"You agreed to a date with Francis?" asked O'Brien, chuckling.
"Yeah she did," Francis said, glaring at Andrew.
"So that's why you bathed," remarked Corcoran.
"Oy! Cut it out," Francis said as Gwendolyn let out a small giggle at Kevin's remark.
"I just wanted to thank O'Brien face to face."
"Ah Miss Clover it was nothin'," O'Brien said.
"Well Francis told me you found it while looking for a present for your anniversary and I thought I'd bake you one of my apple pies to take home."
"If it makes it home," remarked Francis, causing Corcoran to chuckle and both Gwendolyn and O'Brien to glare at Francis.
"I brought another one for you Kevin."
"Oh. Thank you very much," he said, taking the paper bag that the pie was in from her outstretched hand.
She placed the other pie on O'Brien's desk.
"Is that lavender I smell?" Corcoran asked.
"Um yes, it's all I use. Speaking of lavender, I also brought two lavender bar soaps for you to take to your wife. My sister makes them. You don't have to tell her they came from me." She handed another paper bag to O'Brien which held the soaps.
"Wow thank you. She'll like this very much."
"Well are you ready to go?" asked Francis.
"Yes," Gwendolyn replied with a smile, doing her best to ignore the butterflies in her stomach, which she had fought with the whole way there.
Francis put on his hat and Gwendolyn nodded towards the other two as they left.
Fifteen minutes later they were seated at a small wooden table inside an Irish restaurant.
Gwendolyn assessed Francis in the waning evening light. His hair was clean and she could tell he had shaved a bit to neaten up. She could smell a hint of rosemary, which must have been from his soap.
"Are you used to Irish food?" he asked her, pulling her back from her wandering thoughts.
"Not really," she admitted, blushing.
A man who looked to be in his forties and who had a very thick Irish accent came to take their drink order.
"I'll have a pint of ale please," Francis said.
"Tea for me please," Gwendolyn said.
After the waiter left, Francis chose to complement her. "I like your hair like that. It's very nice."
"Oh thank you. And you do look like you've bathed."
"Well I wasn't goin' to take out a pretty lass like yourself and be stinkin'."
Gwendolyn let out a laugh at that which caused a lady seated at the table nearest them to give her a disapproving look.
"I like it when you do that. Laugh I mean. You have a warm laugh. It warms me right down to my bones." remarked Francis, causing another light blush to rise to Gwendolyn's cheeks.
The waiter brought their drinks and lit the tall candle that was in the middle of their table. "I'll be back in a moment to take your food order," he said.
"Francis are you nervous?" Gwendolyn asked, noticing a light sheen of sweat on his face in the light from the candle that had just been lit.
"Do you blame me?" he asked jokingly, before take a big gulp of his ale. "Anyway since you're not familiar with Irish food, you should be ashamed by the way, how about Irish stew?"
"I shouldn't be ashamed. I'm not the Irish one here. What's in it?"
"Mutton, potatoes and onions. It's very good."
"Alright. I'll trust your taste in food."
"Well I am the Irish one here."
They both shared a laugh as the waiter came back. He took their order and left again.
"Um, I was wonderin', and please don't think me rude, but how old are you?"
"Oh now that is quite rude, but seeing as I'm young it's alright. I'm twenty-three and if you don't mind me asking, why exactly did you ask me to dinner?" Gwendolyn asked in curiosity before taking a sip of her tea.
"I didn't actually mean to ask you out, it just slipped out."
"Oh," Gwendolyn said, somewhat disheartened and she looked down at her tea.
"No I didn't mean it like that. I'm glad I asked you. I do like you. I find you intriguin'. After I asked you I was afraid you would say no for a second."
"Oh. So you find me intriguing?"
"You enjoy readin'. When I was little me Ma used to read to me all the time although I never really enjoyed readin' for myself. You seem to love what you do, teachin' I mean. Like me. I very much enjoy my job. And you're very kind and of course I'm attracted to you. Why did you agree to go to dinner with me?"
"Well you made me laugh the moment I met you and I can tell you love what you do as well. You have been very kind to me also. And to be perfectly honest, I'm attracted to you as well."
The waiter suddenly appeared next to their table with their dinner and after he placed their plates in front of them, Gwendolyn thanked him and he left.
"This looks very good," she remarked.
"Well go ahead and try it."
Gwendolyn got a small forkful with a little bit of everything on it and slowly brought it to her mouth. After she chewed and swallowed, she wiped the corners of her mouth with her napkin.
"It's very good."
"Ah I told you."
Gwendolyn smiled and took another bite.
After dinner Francis walked Gwendolyn home. He smiled to himself when she hooked her arm through his.
When they reached her doorstep, she unhooked her arm from his and turned to face him. "Thank you for dinner Francis. I had a very nice time."
"You're welcome. I had a nice time as well."
They stood there like two awkward teenagers, finding love for the first time and unsure about how to proceed.
Francis placed his pointer finger gently under her chin and pulled her face to his, but before his lips could meet with hers, she turned her face away.
"I'm sorry Gwendolyn. I didn't mean…"
"No, no, it's alright. I just, you should go," she said, looking down at her hands.
Francis, now being the one that was truly disheartened tipped his hat and slowly walked down the steps of her porch and headed home.
As Gwendolyn lay in bed, she contemplated the events of the last few hours. She had Irish stew for the first time, and had been out to dinner with a man for the first time in a year. When Francis went to kiss her panic had shot through her. She wasn't sure if she was truly ready to commit to someone. Not that a kiss meant a commitment. She decided to be honest with herself. She was scared, but when she had been with Francis for just the few times she had, she felt good, cared for. She wasn't sure what she wanted at the moment.
With all those thoughts in her head, she drifted off to sleep.