A/N – Another writing challenge/experiment, inspired by Sassy Lil Scorpio's fic, "Her Name Was Vernita Green" (if you are a Kill Bill fan I highly recommend checking it out, along with "Foaming at the Mouth," an excellent character study on Elle Driver). I borrowed the livejournal prompt, "50 Sentences based on 1 character" – my apologies if the sentences are more convoluted than usual; this type of fic is harder to pull off than it looks! – and adapted it to describe a scenario Tmyres77 challenged me to write a fic about: It is mid-December 1912, and even though their honeymoon has passed, Harold and Marian have stayed up far too late making love, and must deal with the consequences of exhaustion now that they have resumed their busy schedules.
A guy what takes his time, I'll go for any time.
I'm a fast movin' gal who likes them slow.
Got no use for fancy drivin', want to see a guy arrivin' in low.
I'd be satisfied, electrified to know a guy what takes his time…
How does one blend into proper society after such a long night of not sleeping, even if it was with one's husband? Marian Paroo Hill wondered as she stifled her yawns and tried to reduce the intensity of the beam that lit up her face when she greeted passerby on her way to the library – a conspicuous three hours later than usual.
Perhaps the former charlatan should have considered it yet another stain on his conscience that he had thrown his dear little librarian's precise and well-ordered schedule into such glaring disarray, but all Professor Hill could do was grin from ear to ear as he rather drowsily went about his own business.
No man was an island – especially in River City! – but Harold didn't even try to conceal the delighted exhaustion in his eyes or smile, nor did he care if anyone took issue with a newly married man's obvious happiness and clucked about it behind his back.
However, out of respect for his wife's sense of propriety, Harold made sure his behavior was beyond reproach when they arrived at Mrs. Paroo's house for lunch later that afternoon – and he was pleasantly stunned when, shortly after they'd each ravenously downed heaping portions of the matron's stick-to-your-ribs Irish stew and scrumptious apple pie, Marian approached him in the parlor with a mischievous gleam in her eyes and gave him a long, deep and delicious kiss.
Normally, Harold would have groaned at the mound of paperwork Tommy Djilas had so helpfully left on his desk while he was gone for lunch, but on this particular afternoon, the music professor found it made an excellent pillow for a clandestine snooze before band rehearsal.
Marian, too, had noticeably relaxed her standards in terms of keeping up with the constant flow of books being taken out and returned, but as her desk was in public, she attempted to at least present a veneer of industriousness… though judging by the giggling of Cissy Gale and her friends when they caught sight of the gibberish the librarian was languidly typing onto an index card, she wasn't fooling anyone.
Marian normally would have chastised herself for setting such a poor example for these girls, who certainly did not need any more encouragement to be frivolous and addle-pated with romance, but she had turned over a new leaf since her marriage; indeed, she and Harold had turned over several new leaves last night, mirroring more than a few of the scandalous illustrations she'd glimpsed in The Perfumed Garden and Kama Sutra.
However, although Marian blushed to recall the more unusual configurations they'd been entwined in, she was most decidedly not abashed because she knew from the heatedly fond way Harold looked at her and the steady stream of sweet declarations he whispered in her ear that it was more than mere lust to him; at these proofs of his devotion, the librarian strove to demonstrate the depth of her feelings by loving her husband just as warmly, passionately and openly.
When Marian confessed to Harold in a soft, sad whisper that she used to wish she were ugly so as not to attract unwanted male attention, he held her even closer and silently vowed that if Ed Griner or any other man of his ilk so much as looked at his wife with ill-intentioned covetousness, he'd sorely regret it.
Of course, Harold hadn't quite done everything by the book during his own pursuit of the librarian, as she archly reminded him when he heatedly told her he'd never put up with anyone, man or woman, treating her with anything less than the utmost respect.
But as Harold was never a man to brood about the past even though he did harbor a few regrets about his previous behavior, his response to his wife's gentle teasing was to give her a searing kiss to show her that he meant business – and when her thighs immediately parted to welcome the ardent advances of his fingers and then his mouth, he reveled in this unspoken reminder that Marian would never have allowed their intimacy progress to this degree if she hadn't completely trusted he was as good as his word.
Although Harold had always excelled at spinning grand, pie-in-the-sky visions that captured people's imaginations, even he never could have dreamed that he'd end up so happily enmeshed in one of his own illusions – that of an accomplished music professor with a thriving business, comfortable home and devoted wife… and perhaps even a child or two, if whatever fortune, fate or deity that had led him to River City and to Marian saw fit to smile upon him once more.
Harold had to laugh when a similarly-grinning Marcellus Washburn, who'd stopped by the emporium to purchase a new mouthpiece for his tuba, observed that the former fly-by-night salesman had gone completely soft – and although the music professor fired back a retort noting his erstwhile shill's own complete and uncomplaining surrender to the delights of domesticity, both men knew that they wouldn't have changed how they'd ended up.
As she lay supremely content in her husband's arms, Marian couldn't help recalling how even Amaryllis had believed the town's librarian was consigned by fate (or perhaps her own prickly personality) to eternal spinsterhood – and laughed inwardly as she reflected that she most certainly had not been left on the shelf, as her mother feared and everyone else in River City predicted.
Now that Marian was indeed married – and to a man she loved passionately as well as congenially – it was hard not to spend more time than she ought to have reveling in the fact that she no longer had to endure winter's long and cold nights alone, and she knew from the feverish intensity of her husband's embrace and the awed tenderness of his expression as he made love to her that he felt exactly the same way.
Of course, the womanizing charlatan and the pariah librarian had both fallen much harder for each other than common sense would have deemed appropriate, but as everything had worked out so beautifully in the end, the pair gleefully and shamelessly continued to flout propriety by not sleeping well into the night – even though their honeymoon was officially behind them and their days were jam-packed with several social and civic obligations.
However, as Harold purred into her ear in that low, velvety voice of his when Marian slyly observed it was well past midnight on a weekday and they still hadn't managed to fall into the briefest of dozes: Now that they'd finally tied the knot, why shouldn't they have a little fun?
Although Marian's reproach about the lateness of the hour had been good-natured in tone, Harold's embrace slackened and he moved away from her a little, earnestly assuring his wife that it hadn't been his intention to overcrowd her – and his silver tongue was promptly silenced when the librarian laughed and pulled both his mouth and his body flush against hers once more.
Now that Harold and Marian were no longer in denial about the true depth of their desire for one another, as they'd been during that tumultuous first month of their acquaintance, and now that they no longer had to exercise cautious restraint when they were alone together, as they'd had to during their courtship, they didn't attempt to curtail their ardor – even as inconvenient as lack of sleep might prove the next day.
Harold ought to have let his wife sleep for at least a little while once the sun started to peek up over the horizon, but when the whistle of the early-morning train jolted him out of his doze, he was reminded of just how lonely the life he left behind had been, and his mouth eagerly sought Marian's once more.
Back when Marian had utterly despised him, she'd really made the fur fly during their encounters, so Harold found it even more intoxicating that the librarian now made love to him with the same passionate vehemence as she'd once spurned and denounced him.
22. Chrome (Chromium)
Marian knew the library's archives so well that even obscure book requests rarely stymied her, but when Tommy Djilas arrived seeking information on the properties of chromium for a report for his science class, the librarian had to relinquish her romantic reveries so she could fully concentrate on the task at hand.
But when Marian caught sight of Zaneeta Shinn perusing Daniel Deronda (yet another classic that had once been looked upon with suspicion by the River City-ziens due to its Zionist and other risqué themes), her heart constricted when she reflected just how fortunate she was to have married a man who was gentle, affectionate and considerate even in the midst of his wilder appetites; as lonely as the librarian had once been, she would much rather have died an unloved spinster than suffered the emotional and physical degradation Gwendolen Harleth miserably endured as the wife of the cruel and brutal Henleigh Grandcourt.
For even though Harold had both shamelessly and vigorously kept her up all night, Marian knew it hadn't been his intention to purposely rob her of sleep, let alone mistreat her out of a wicked sense of delighted malice; while her husband's ardent caresses were bold, they were never forceful.
Although Harold had indeed promised himself he'd never push Marian into doing anything she didn't want to do, he wasn't above using a little heated persuasion to urge her to loosen up a little in the bedroom; however, marriage had already put so much at ease that he hardly needed to do anything for her to be a willing and active participant not only in keeping them awake long into the night, but in venturing down new avenues of passion that a lady might not have initially considered pleasurable, let alone appropriate.
However, from the sweetly provocative come-hither looks Marian gave him as they writhed feverishly together, physically intimate as two people could possibly be, Harold knew she was enjoying even the more unorthodox positions they ended up in just as much as he was.
It was a huge weight off Harold's shoulders to know that even though his wife was a blushing novice in practice – if not in theory – when it came to carnal affairs, she was not at all disgusted or scandalized by the intensity of their passion.
Yet it was the little moments of levity in the midst of their lovemaking that the music professor loved best, such as when he surreptitiously tickled Marian's arm with his fingers and teased that it must have been a spider crawling on her, earning him an exasperated glare from the no-nonsense librarian even as laughter danced in her eyes.
In retaliation, Marian had coyly slipped the sleeve of Harold's forest-green robe off his shoulder and, instead of tickling him in return, she kissed her way down his shoulder and throat and chest so tenderly that he found himself pleading for her to not stop, even as he rolled her beneath him to make love to her again.
While the librarian was a stunningly gorgeous woman, it was her loving and unselfish nature that really made Harold's heart quicken when he thought of her – even after he'd kept her up all night and they were both running scandalously late, she insisted that he take their only umbrella with them that morning, as the emporium was a much farther walk from their home than the library.
The emotions that Marian stirred in him still amazed the music professor; in most cases, his desire to be with a woman had only lasted one or two trysts, at best, but even after nearly a month of marriage, he'd barely scratched the surface of his longing for the librarian.
Even after his reformation, the idea of making love to only one woman for the remainder of his earthly existence continued to unsettle Harold a bit – would a man like him, who'd always gloried in his freedom, really be able to remain faithful even to a beloved? – but as their courtship progressed and he started thinking of it as making love to Marian for the rest of his life, it became a surprisingly easy and delightful notion not just to fathom, but downright anticipate.
When the sun came up in earnest and husband and wife subsided into another dreamy lull, Harold left Marian to her slumber and gazed out the window at the ice-encased branches, which glittered like diamonds in the early-morning light; he really ought to have gotten up by now, but the world, while beautiful, was awfully cold, and he much preferred to stay where it was warm.
When Marian awoke to find her husband snuggled against her chest, quietly but avidly listening to her heartbeat, she told him with a smile that he mustn't expect too much warmth from "a lump of lead as cold as steel"; she'd said this jokingly, as the words no longer hurt to recall, but her husband's head immediately shot up and he hotly declared that anyone who'd ever believed her to be coldhearted – including him – was a blind fool.
As the music professor often overflowed with praise for what he deemed were the librarian's many fine qualities, Marian rarely acknowledged his outpourings with anything more than a coy smile, even though she inwardly reveled in the certainty that her silver-tongued flatterer of a husband meant every word he said to her; but this morning, she couldn't help herself, and pulled Harold into a kiss that demonstrated the full measure of her delight.
Indeed, Harold often paid Mrs. Shinn and the other members of the Ladies' Dance Committee admiring compliments as to their grace, natural flow of rhythm, and expression of line and movement, but from the first time he followed Marian home that warm July evening, it had only ever been the slight but tantalizing sway of the librarian's hips as she strode confidently forward that truly set his pulse racing.
"I don't suppose we could petition the Almighty to add a few more hours to the night?" Harold chuckled when he caught Marian valiantly attempting to stifle her exhaustion mid-yawn as his fingers once again found their way into the softness between her thighs – and he was both amused and gratified when she nodded vehemently before covering his mouth with hers.
Harold really should have gotten up when Marian's bedside alarm went off – or at the very least, he should have let go of his wife so she could rise and attend to her usual morning ablutions – but instead, he buried his face in the librarian's tousled honey-blonde curls and huskily whispered, "Fifteen more minutes."
As the sun climbed even higher in the sky and husband and wife continued to bask idly in the warmth of each other's embrace, they talked of prosaic, everyday things – including the weather, which was now in season, so it was a perfectly acceptable topic of conversation.
Harold supposed it had all started when Marian came to bed wearing the delectable sky-blue "Marie Antoinette" nightgown he'd given her on the first night of their honeymoon, but really, when had he needed a specific excuse to spend a whole night making love to the woman who meant more to him than anyone or anything?
When Harold reflected how different his life was these days, he was doubly grateful that not only had he been able to overcome his former fly-by-night existence with such aplomb, but that he'd been able to rein in his carnal appetites long enough to make it to the altar with Marian; even he would not have been able to enjoy their long nights of lovemaking as blithely as he did now, if the nagging thought that they might be blessed with a child just a little too soon to be a premature birth had been lurking at the back of his mind.
Still lying in bed much later than he should have been the next morning, Harold languidly watched his wife braid her hair and then wind it up into a tight chignon – and as tired as he was, he still had to stifle the urge to get up, go over and dishevel it once more.
However, the music professor did marshal enough energy to get up, encircle his dear little librarian in a warm hug and give her a soft but deep kiss, gently threading his fingers in the loose curls that charmingly framed her beautiful face; when he finally parted from her, Marian let out an indulgent laugh and said, "I wondered what it would take to get you out of bed this morning."
Despite the numerous improvements made to the Think System, the River City boys' band was still, in truth, hardly fit to play among the choirs of angels – and thanks in large part to Professor Hill's happy stupor, they ended up sounding even more toneless than usual at today's rehearsal.
Harold often teased his lovely wife to get a rise out of her regarding the sweetly vapid expression she wore while daydreaming, and he could only laugh in contented defeat when he realized he was now on the receiving end of such impertinence; his boys snickered, chattered and goofed off far more than they usually would have during a rehearsal because their normally sharp music professor was conducting them in a similar absentminded haze.
Even as she sighed in resignation at the library's slightly more than usual – but nevertheless scandalous – state of disarray, Marian couldn't help giggling; if Harold was in the same lackadaisical mood as she was today, the rehearsal for the Christmas concert was likely to be a complete nightmare.
Marian supposed she ought to start insisting that they get more sleep at night, but even in the midst of her own exhaustion, she didn't have the heart to be too strict about such matters just yet; she realized that Harold considered it a matter of honor to love her as sweetly and passionately as he knew how, and she also felt it important to reciprocate, even if it did occasionally interfere with their other duties.
Just before they each went their separate ways – she to the library, he to the music emporium – Harold caught Marian's gloved hand in his and lightly stroked her palm with his thumb, a coy reminder of last night's delights and a heated promise of what she could look forward to when they got home that evening.
As a conman, Harold had taken great care to hide his feelings behind a smokescreen of devil-may-care nonchalance even when he was ensconced beneath the sheets with a woman he genuinely desired, but when he made love to Marian, he was naked in both body and soul – and to the music professor's surprise and delight, the more he opened his heart to the librarian, the more he wanted to be with her.
When Harold met his wife at the library around closing time, her weary expression immediately perked up and she nestled closer to him than was strictly necessary even on a chilly December evening; as he felt the warmth of Marian's body against his, the fatigued music professor's pulse began to race and he forgot his own exhaustion, as well…