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In Which Nicola Greets the Morning


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#1 sarahcada

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 09:25 PM

The sun rose early that day. Of course, the sun rose every day in London, and, of course, the sun could not truly be early for, by definition, something being early meant that that particular thing happened before the time it was expected. Nay, the sun was not early, but simply on time. As it rose, the aroma of fresh bread was filling the air, jovial horse hooves were clapping on the cobblestone, and morning chores were already being done in the Sheridan household. Servants scurried about, airing carpets, sweeping corridors, and flinging heavy curtains open to let the sunlight into the house. Like all servants in all households, they worked quietly, especially when passing by the bedchambers, so as not to rouse their masters from their sleep. Indeed, as maids glided through the hallways, their feet barely made a sound.

Despite the soundlessness with which the staff worked, however, and despite the lack of proper light in the room, the moment the sun rose in the horizon, Nicola Sparks stirred in her bed and awoke. She blinked, noting the sliver of sunlight that peeked through the gap between the curtains, before sighing and covering her head with a pillow. To her, the sun rose too early that day, for she had no desire then for the the day to already begin. Oh, she was not in a downhearted state—far from it! But the truth was: she did not know precisely what she felt that morning.

Disoriented? Not quite. She knew exactly where she was (the guest room she always occupied whenever she was in the Sheridan household) and she knew exactly what year it was (1810, at the tail end of the social season).

Distressed? Not hardly. Granted that she only recently survived a rather traumatizing ordeal, it was a wonder why she slept quite satisfactorily. What she had experienced not more than half a day before could easily have been stuff of nightmares—getting tricked by her relative (as well as someone she thought to have been in love her), being kidnapped, falling from a roof—nevertheless, her slumber had been dreamless. She would have preferred having good dreams, of course, but a dreamless, somewhat restful sleep was better than a nightmare-ridden one. Perhaps her heart, her poor, battered heart, was, after all, as resilient as she had supposed on that afternoon in the drawing room with Nathaniel.

Nathaniel...

Nicola felt her cheeks grow warm at the mere thought of his name. His name, which she had, up until recently, exclaimed in irritation whenever he teased her (which was all the time). His name, which, to be truthful, was a rather pleasant one (not that Nicola ever admitted it to anyone). His name, which meant “gift of God” (a fact that Nicola knew but never consciously acknowledged). And oh! what a gift of God he was! Charging forward atop his galloping steed in order to miraculously catch her from dropping to her death...

A sudden squeal of delight bubbled up from Nicola's chest, and, out of reflex she buried her face further into her pillow to muffle the sound. The Lady Sheridan had known Nicola when she was still a girl in braids, but proper ladies did not squeal, as was taught in Madame Veuxvincent's Seminary for Young Ladies, and Nicola did not want the Lady Sheridan to think her to be improper.

Nicola was certain now that she did not feel distressed. Not now, when she could not remove the giddy smile from her lips. Not now, when she could not seem to will her excited heart to calm down. She still could not help but be amazed how Nathaniel, whom, once upon a time, she had only seen as her best friend Eleanor's annoying older brother, turned out to be the one she truly loved, and, what's more, loved her in return.

Nicola bit her lip, suddenly realizing what she might truly be feeling that morning. She felt excitement about the recent developments, yes, but alongside that exitement was the reason why she had yet to get up. If she was only excited then she would have jumped out of bed to joyously reunite with the reason for her feeling. No, she was not only excited. She was also, and quite verily, nervous.

She did not, for the life of her, know how she would carry herself. After the previous evening's debacle, she had practically collapsed in bed without even the courtesy of bidding her hosts good night. Nicola knew that emotional and physical exhaustion was to be blamed—and probably also her warm bath for being a little too soothing—and she knew that the Sheridans most probably understood. Still, Lady Sheridan and Eleanor had both been so worried that they both hugged Nicola for one full minute when she arrived with Nathaniel, the least she could have done was come down to share supper with them. She hadn't been able to properly thank the Lord Sheridan, either, for leading the Bow Street Runners to her rescue. As for Nathaniel, the last time Nicola had seen him was when she was being led away from him and towards her room to clean up; she had looked over her shoulder to find him still standing by the doorway, gazing after her with a smile on his handsome face.

Oh, even the butterflies in her stomach were nervous!

Nicola let out a small growl of self-scolding, then sat up so abruptly that she felt light-headed for a brief moment. She knew she was going to have to join the living world eventually; she had no valid reason in trying to postpone it. Eleanor would most likely go to Nicola's room before going down to breakfast, and if she didn't, then Nicola would go to hers as a best friend should. The Lord and Lady Sheridan would most likely simply embrace her when she bows her head in gratitude and apology. And Nathaniel would most likely be surprised out of his wits when Nicola kisses him the moment she sees him, but he just have to suffer through it.

So, with a resolute nod, Nicola set to preparing for the day, and when Martine came knocking a while later, the maid found Nicola already dressed and almost finished fixing her hair into a low bun at the nape of her neck. Martine, who had seen Nicola before, during, and after her foolish engagement to the Viscount Farnsworth, seemed to be glad that her mistress was up and about, and not moping over the tragic turn of events. Eleanor, as well, was elated to meet a perfectly energetic Nicola in the hallway—as Nicola had guessed, her bosom friend was on her way to check on her before proceeding to breakfast.

At the breakfast table, the Lord and Lady Sheridan greeted her warmly, and Phillip, who had heard of the exciting events that had transpired, begged Nicola to tell her side of the story so that he could have a better idea about the antagonists. (It must be said that neither master of the house scolded Phillip for referring to an earl, a viscount, and a baron as antagonists, because perhaps that was what they were.) The youngest Sheridan was bouncing in his seat, as usual, and attempting to act out an imagined fight at the Gilded Rose, that Nicola couldn't help notice the stark contrast between him and the empty chair beside him.

Nathaniel went out early that morning, Eleanor had told Nicola on their way down to breakfast. Wherever he went—Eleanor wasn't sure, or was simply not telling her—Nicola found herself half-relieved to know that she didn't have to face him just yet. Yearning though she was to see Nathaniel's smile, the one she had been imagining all morning, she didn't know if Eleanor would appreciate seeing her brother kiss (or be kissed) in front of her. And even if no kissing were to take place, Nicola was quite sure that she would have trouble eating her breakfast instead of simply looking at Nathaniel over the dining table. That, or she would quite possibly squirm in her seat if he were to fix his warm gaze upon her.

Nicola was just about to interrupt Phillip so that she could relay how exactly she had been kidnapped—strange that she was already able to think of it as an adventure story to tell a child, rather than an event that could have cost her her life—when the sound of familiar footsteps—goodness, she could recognize his footsteps!—reached her ears. With unconsciously bated breath, she watched Nathaniel come into the room raking his fingers through his wind-tousled hair; a beloved brown lock, of course, stubbornly fell on his forehead. He seemed to be deep in thought, absently mumbling out a morning greeting and an apology for being late, before looking up to the occupants of the room.

And in that moment, when Nathaniel's hazel gaze met her sapphire one, Nicola finally decided that whatever she felt, or did not feel, when the day had started, was not at all important, for she now knew what completely filled her heart.

Happiness.

Contentment.

Love.

And when Nathaniel smiled, Nicola, quite happily, greeted him, “Good morning.”

 

A word from the author: Tada! I return to the MCMB with a Nicola and the Viscount piece. Ahahaha. Please accept my peace offering. If you're familiar with Nathaniel and the Orphan and you're wondering why it took me years before I wrote this, then...let's just say inspiration seems to strike me only when something major happens in my life. And if you're NOT familiar with Nathaniel and the Orphan, then... that's fine. Hehe.

A few people have been asking that I do a continuation fic for Nicola and the Viscount, but since I'm fond of wtiring fanfics that are in-story, write-between-the-lines type of pieces, here we have a one-shot that happens between Chapter 19 and the Chapter 20 in the book. I'm not quite sure yet if I'm going to make this a multi-chaptered piece, but at least we have one chapter for now.

I didn't plan for the whole chapter to not have any dialogue until the end, but that's how the story unfolded. Ehe. I hope your eyes don't hurt after reading those paragraphs or something.

I'd love to hear what you think! Thanks for reading!
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#2 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 01:24 AM

I quite literally let out a little shriek when I saw this topic in the 'Recent topics' added.

Then I took several deep breaths, clicked upon it and then took some more deep breaths...

What a lovely one-shot! (Or possible multi-chaptered one which shall make me very, very, very happy)

I loved every single word, right from how Nicola was feeling so nervous about what she should do when she saw Nathaniel (which was uber cute, by the way)to how she did greet him in the end! :DD Although I wished she would have kissed him lol, just so I could see the looks on everyone's faces, especially Eleanor :)

Oh, even the butterflies in her stomach were nervous!


This line made me laugh :)

With unconsciously bated breath, she watched Nathaniel come into the room raking his fingers through his wind-tousled hair; a beloved brown lock, of course, stubbornly fell on his forehead. He seemed to be deep in thought, absently mumbling out a morning greeting and an apology for being late, before looking up to the occupants of the room.


And these lines made me sigh....

And in that moment, when Nathaniel's hazel gaze met her sapphire one, Nicola finally decided that whatever she felt, or did not feel, when the day had started, was not at all important, for she now knew what completely filled her heart.


And this line made me smile so wide that I though my face would burst from stretching :D

So thank you you for a really good morning :) (It's morning where I am haha...isn't that wonderful? :) )

Rivea :icon_flower:
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#3 sarahcada

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 11:37 AM

I can't believe I forgot to put a disclaimer in the first chapter. Huh. Shows how long I haven't written anything. Posted Image

So. Just for the record: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. 'Kay? 'Kay.

Rivea! You're here! And you're still reading! Eeeeeeeeeeeee this makes me so happy!!! Posted Image Thank you so much for the encouragements! And a rather detailed comment, too! I love hearing what my readers liked (and didn't like) in my work. So thank you thank you thank you!

Yeeeeah, I'll probably make this a multi-chaptered piece. I'll post another chapter as soon as I can! Posted Image

Edited by sarahcada, 28 February 2011 - 11:37 AM.

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#4 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 10:58 AM

AHHHHHH!!!!


*shriek of joy*

It's gonna be multi-chaptered!!!!

Rivea :icon_flower:
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#5 sarahcada

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 10:14 PM

Yey I'm back!

Okay, folks. Here's the plan: This piece is not actually going to be one whole story since I can't seem to gather enough creativity to think of a new story arc, since,y'know, Nicola and the Viscounthas a pretty solid ending. But we do have two years to play with,don't we? This, then, shall be a collection of one-shots regarding Nat and Nicky, all of which can (supposedly) stand alone, but can also be read as one story. Sort of. WHICH MEANS that each chapter will have a separate title. WHICH MEANS that I...don't have a title for this whole collection yet. Posted Image

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway.The next chapter spans about Chapter 15(-ish) to 19 in the book, and takes the tail end of a scene in Nathaniel and the Orphan. I didn't want to write angst so early in the game, but there was a bit in that first chapter that prompted me to write this one.

One last thing: “mistress of the house” pertains to the female master of the house. Okay? Okay.

Disclaimer: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. I do not own Nathaniel Sheridan, either. Which is a bummer.

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In Which Eleanor Holds on to a Promise

“Eleanor,”the Lord Sheridan spoke; his kind, fatherly voice seemed to boom in the hallway in which they were standing in. It wasn't that big of a hallway, really—Eleanor supposed it was a fairly regular-sized one,like all other hallways in Mayfair—which is probably why it seemed so crowded. That hallway was not made for six people to congregate and tensely converse, and yet here they all were.

“I know you're very worried,” Lord Sheridan was saying, “but you shall have to stay here.”

No!Eleanor did not want to stay at home! Not when her father, her brother, and her fiancé were all off to save Nicola from danger. Nicola Sparks, Eleanor's best friend! Eleanor had already made a mistake of lounging around all day, thinking that all was well, and even inwardly snickering at Nathaniel's irrational worrying about Nicola's absence at luncheon,when her brother's worrying hadnotbeen irrational, because there hadbeen a reason for him—for everyone!—be worried.

No, Eleanor did not want to stay, and she so wanted to tell her father this, but she found that her lips remained shut, and that time seemed to be going so slowly, and that her father was still speaking.

“All right?”

Eleanor realized that she had been asked a question and that it was her turn to speak. But try as she might, she could not speak. She felt cold and frozen and she could almost feel her hands shaking and she still could not tell her father what she truly felt—

“Yes,Papa.”

That was her voice. That was Eleanor's voice, saying something that she didn't want to say. Although . . . now that she heard her own voice say it, she realized that maybe that was really what she should have said. After all, her father knew what was the best thing to do in situations like this. Not that Eleanor actually hadbeen in a situation like this before.

She still felt frozen.

Eleanor vaguely heard Stella Ashton say something from behind her, to which Nathaniel responded with a movement of his head. What was it called again? Oh,yes, it was called a nod, wasn't it?

Nod. Why, it was such a strange word, wasn't it?

It was even stranger that she was thinking this.

Oh, dear. Was she in shock?

“Ellie.”

Eleanor blinked at the sound of her brother's warm voice, and just like that, just with that one word, the ice that seemed to have held her for the last few moments shattered. (Was it really just a few moments? It felt like hours!) Like an elixir, the fierce determination in his hazel eyes seemed to fill her with strength—

“I'll bring her back,” he said.

—and all at once Eleanor knew that everything would be all right.

“I know you will,” she replied, already feeling a smile pulling at the corner of her lips.

He had asked her once, “Did I ever promise you something and didn't do it?”

The answer was a definite negative. Nathaniel had never, in Eleanor's sixteen years of existence, broken a promise to her. He kept his promise that he would stay beside her whenever a thunderstorm terrified her in her childhood. He kept his promise that he would chaperon her when Sir Hugh had come to call. He even kept his promise to annoy her for one whole weekend when he first returned for a holiday from Oxford! He didn't say the words “I promise” to her this time, but Eleanor saw it in his eyes and heard it in his firm voice.

Nathaniel nodded and quickly followed their father to rescue Nicola, but not before making another promise,this time without making a sound.

I'm not done with you yet,he seemed to say, glowering at Harold Blenkenship on his way out.Nicola's cousin visibly shook.

When Winters, as ordered by the Lord Sheridan, motioned to escort Mr. Blenkenship to the guest room, the pale boy kept his head bowed, completely and deliberately avoiding Eleanor's hazel gaze, the one that she was sure that mirrored her brother's glare.

Oh, that foolish,foolish milksop!

“He's not worth it, Miss Sheridan,” Stella Ashton spoke, taking hold of Eleanor's arm. “Please, shall we to the parlor?”

Eleanor let Stella drag her away without much protest, but if she was to be honest, she verily wanted to stride over to Harold Blenkenship and strangle him.Strangling someone was not at all ladylike, she surmised, but Eleanor found that she did not care about being ladylike at that very moment.Not at all!

“Stupid, stupid,stupid, stupid . . .” Eleanor heard herself muttering as Stella led her to the couch. To be truthful, Eleanor wasn't certain whom she was pertaining to.

The Milksop,probably, for aiding his father and the Farrelly men in abducting Nicola.

Or perhaps Nicola herself, for lying to the Sheridans about her whereabouts.

Or possibly Nathaniel, for not fully employing his own brand of stubbornness and taking action the moment he started worrying.

Or . . .

“Oh, I'm so stupid!” Eleanor exclaimed, bursting into tears. She was thankful that Stella had placed her on the cushioned divan; Eleanor wasn't sure if her legs would support her in the midst of her breakdown otherwise.

“Nat was right!”she added when Stella attempted to calm her down with a hand upon hers. “Nat's always right!He had been right about Sir Hugh complementing my silliness, and about Sebastian Bartholomew being a wastrel; how could I have not believed him when he thought that there was something wrong this afternoon? He's my own brother, and I didn't believe him! Oh, he had been right all along!”

“Oh,Miss Sheridan” Stella spoke a few moments after Eleanor started only to sob. “But there was no way you could have known.”

“But Nat had been complaining for hours!” Eleanor reasoned. “I should have realized it! Or at least I could have been more supportive of him.”

“Well, you did send me a note to confirm that Miss Sparks was with me.”

Fat good that note did,Eleanor thought, sniffling. Of course, that note had caused the arrival of Stella Ashton to the Sheridan house, which in turn helped Nathaniel first process the fact that Nicola was, indeed, missing—if he had found out directly from the Milksop, Eleanor was sure her brother would waste no time in beating the boy into a pulp. And, of course, Stella's presence offered some comfort to Eleanor, as well.But, oh! if only Eleanor had sent the note earlier . . . !

“Miss Sheridan,” Stella's voice broke through Eleanor's thoughts. “It won't do at all to think of if only's and what if's.”

She was right. Oh, she was right, wasn't she?

“I know you have faith in your brother,” Stella continued. “It would be best to hold on to that faith.”

Eleanor nodded, willing her sobs to settle. With a long, deep inhale of air,she closed her eyes and summoned the confidence in her brother that she had displayed in the hallway. Surely, surelyeverything was going to be all right.

“Thank you,” she said, once she had reopened her eyes. “Thank you, Miss Ashton.”

Stella smiled, heaving a sigh, herself. “You're very welcome, Miss Sheridan.”

There was silence for a moment, until the door gently opened to reveal Lady Sheridan. The mistress of the house stood elegantly straight, as she always did, exuding lady-likeness and authority. And though the rest of her countenance was schooled into calmness, her eyes were undeniably filled with motherly worry.

“Eleanor,”was all she said.

“Mama,”Eleanor said, taking three quick steps and enveloping her mother in a hug, “it's going to be all right. Nat's on it. Nicky's going to be okay. Nathanielis on it. Everything's going to be all right . . .”

Eleanor didn't know how she had expected for her mother to react, but she knew that she had not expected her to laugh.

“Oh,my dear,” Lady Sheridan said, through teary eyes, “and here I thought I was the one who was going to do the comforting!”

Eleanor laughed, as well, “I rather think I was talking to myself, too.”

Since the Lady Sheridan wasn't in the hallway during Harold Blenkenship's surprisingly skillful narration of the recent events surrounding Nicola Sparks, and since Winters could only relay so much, Eleanor had to take on the responsibility to put her mother up to speed.After the Lady Sheridan digested the story, the rest of the afternoon was spent in silence. Eleanor lent Stella Ashton a book from the library, and Lady Sheridan went to see that the servants prepared dinner and everything else that would be needed when—not if, but when—the rescue party returned with Nicola.

Eleanor initially took to stitch work, attempting to use the detailed patterns to distract herself. But the repetitive action of pulling in and pulling out of thread soon became so monotonous that Eleanor's mind kept drifting back to Nicola and her safety. Perhaps this what was Nathaniel was feeling during afternoon tea . . .

And so, following her brother's example, Eleanor let her stitch work fall onto her lap, and just chose to gaze out the window, as if willing for the awaited company to appear.

They lured her out of this house,” Harold Blenkenship had told them, “with a note supposedly from Sir Hugh Parker, asking her to secretly come to Grafton House to help him select a surprise gift for Miss Sheridan...”

Eleanor felt tears pricking her eyes again. Just the thought that it was Nicola's desire to help Sir Hugh surprise her—her, Eleanor Sheridan—struck a new pain in her heart, as well as love for her most bosom friend. Indirectly, Nicola's abduction had been because of Eleanor. Oh,must Nicola be so sweet and caring and helpful?

No! Eleanor thought, stomping that feeling—the pain and self-loathing, not the love for her friend—under her feet, and focused on the empty street outside. The sound of horse hooves reached her ear, causing Eleanor to sit up straighter . . .

.. . only, those horse hooves belonged to greys that pulled a curricle that Eleanor wasn't familiar with. Also, that curricle passed by the Sheridan home without so much as pausing.

Eleanor sighed,sitting back again. It had been that way for a while now, her giving a start and hopefully staring at a horse or a carriage—anything!—that approached by. And yet none of them were there to bring Nicola back.Not yet, anyway.

So, the next time Eleanor heard the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone, she decided to give her aching back a break and remained leaning on the cushions.And when she saw the outline of the horse itself and its rider,Eleanor didn't strain her eyes to see through the darkness—for it was indeed turning dark outside, and the street lamps had been turned on. She still watched, however, as the horse and its rider approached. She observed that the rider was carrying a rather bulky load . . .

Hold on. It quite looked like the load was actually a person.

Yes, atop the steed one rider was sitting straight, and another—a woman, Eleanor realized—was sitting sideways about his arms. Why, it was as if he were the brave knight Lochinvar, carrying his fair Ellen! Eleanor imagined that Nicola would enjoy being carried like that. She wasn't sure if Nathaniel would appreciate it if he would be compared to Lochinvar, however, given his dislike of the knight, so perhaps Eleanor would just keep this particular imagined scene from him.

Except, now that the couple riding on horseback was getting closer, Eleanor could see their features clearer. The man had brown hair and wore a blue coat,much like Nathaniel did. And the lady—Eleanor finally sat up to peer at them better—yes, the lady had ebony hair and gown in a color quite similar to Nicola's when Eleanor had last seen her...

Oh, but Eleanor had to be hallucinating!

But then Stella Ashton, whom Eleanor had not heard approach to stand beside her,whispered, “Is that . . . ?”

That was all Eleanor needed. In an instant she was on her feet and rushing out of the room towards the entrance. If Stella Ashton had seen it, then surely it wasn't a hallucination! With a wide smile on her face and a pounding heart in her chest, Eleanor flung the door open wide and very promptly happily shrieked.

For there, being helped by Nathaniel to get off a horse, was Eleanor's bosom friend and soul sister, the exhausted, dirtied, but smiling and positively glowing Miss Nicola Sparks.


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A word from the author: Let's show Eleanor some love, eh? I've been thinking of writing a Sir Hugh+Eleanor spin-off to Nathaniel and the Orphan, but,seeing as we know nothing about Sir Hugh's background, I'm not entirely sure if I should go ahead and do it. After all, I still haveJacob and the Heiresswaiting in the pipeline, and it is feeling very lonely indeed.
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#6 sarahcada

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 10:40 PM

Yey I'm back!

Okay, folks. Here's the plan: This piece is not actually going to be one whole story since I can't seem to gather enough creativity to think of a new story arc, since, y'know, Nicola and the Viscount has a pretty solid ending. But we do have two years to play with, don't we? This, then, shall be a collection of one-shots regarding Nat and Nicky, all of which can (supposedly) stand alone, but can also be read as one story. Sort of. WHICH MEANS that each chapter will have a separate title. WHICH MEANS that I...don't have a title for this whole collection yet.Posted Image

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway. The next chapter spans about Chapter 15(-ish) to 19 in the book, and takes the tail end of a scene in Nathaniel and the Orphan. I didn't want to write angst so early in the game, but there was a bit in that first chapter that prompted me to write this one.

One last thing: “mistress of the house” pertains to the female master of the house. Okay? Okay.

Disclaimer: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. I do not own Nathaniel Sheridan, either. Which is a bummer.

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In Which Eleanor Holds on to a Promise

“Eleanor,” the Lord Sheridan spoke; his kind, fatherly voice seemed to boom in the hallway in which they were standing in. It wasn't that big of a hallway, really—Eleanor supposed it was a fairly regular-sized one, like all other hallways in Mayfair—which is probably why it seemed so crowded. That hallway was not made for six people to congregate and tensely converse, and yet here they all were.

“I know you're very worried,” Lord Sheridan was saying, “but you shall have to stay here.”

No! Eleanor did not want to stay at home! Not when her father, her brother, and her fiancé were all off to save Nicola from danger. Nicola Sparks, Eleanor's best friend! Eleanor had already made a mistake of lounging around all day, thinking that all was well, and even inwardly snickering at Nathaniel's irrational worrying about Nicola's absence at luncheon, when her brother's worrying had not been irrational, because there had been a reason for him—for everyone!—be worried.

No, Eleanor did not want to stay, and she so wanted to tell her father this, but she found that her lips remained shut, and that time seemed to be going so slowly, and that her father was still speaking.

“All right?”

Eleanor realized that she had been asked a question and that it was her turn to speak. But try as she might, she could not speak. She felt cold and frozen and she could almost feel her hands shaking and she still could not tell her father what she truly felt—

“Yes, Papa.”

That was her voice. That was Eleanor's voice, saying something that she didn't want to say. Although . . . now that she heard her own voice say it, she realized that maybe that was really what she should have said. After all, her father knew what was the best thing to do insituations like this. Not that Eleanor actually had been in a situation like this before.

She still felt frozen.

Eleanor vaguely heard Stella Ashton say something from behind her, to which Nathaniel responded with a movement of his head. What was it called again? Oh, yes, it was called a nod, wasn't it?

Nod. Why, it was such a strange word!

It was even stranger that she was thinking this.

Oh, dear. Was she in shock?

“Ellie.”

Eleanor blinked at the sound of her brother's warm voice, and just like that, just with that one word, the ice that seemed to have held her for the last few moments shattered. (Was it really just a few moments? It felt like hours!) Like an elixir, the fierce determination in his hazel eyes seemed to fill her with strength—

“I'll bring her back,” he said.

—and all at once Eleanor knew that everything would be all right.

“I know you will,” she replied, already feeling a smile pulling at the corner of her lips.

He had asked her once, “Did I ever promise you something and didn't do it?”

The answer was a definite negative. Nathaniel had never, in Eleanor's sixteen years of existence, broken a promise to her. He kept his promise that he would stay beside her whenever a thunderstorm terrified her in her childhood. He kept his promise that he would chaperone her when Sir Hugh had come to call. He even kept his promise to annoy her for one whole weekend when he first returned for a holiday from Oxford! He didn't say the words “I promise” to her this time, but Eleanor saw it in his eyes and heard it in his firm voice.

Nathaniel nodded and quickly followed their father to rescue Nicola, but not before making another promise, this time without making a sound.

I'm not done with you yet, he seemed to say, glowering at Harold Blenkenship on his way out. Nicola's cousin visibly shook.

When Winters, as ordered by the Lord Sheridan, motioned to escort Mr. Blenkenship to the guest room, the pale boy kept his head bowed, completely and deliberately avoiding Eleanor's hazel gaze, the one that she was sure that mirrored her brother's glare.

Oh, that foolish, foolish milksop!

“He's not worth it, Miss Sheridan,” Stella Ashton spoke, taking hold of Eleanor's arm. “Please, shall we to the parlor?”

Eleanor let Stella drag her away without much protest, but if she was to be honest, she verily wanted to stride over to Harold Blenkenship and strangle him. Strangling someone was not at all ladylike, she surmised, but Eleanor found that she did not care about being ladylike at that very moment. Not at all!

“Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid . . .” Eleanor heard herself muttering as Stella led her to the couch. To be truthful, Eleanor wasn't certain precisely whom she was pertaining to.

The Milksop, probably, for aiding his father and the Farrelly men in abducting Nicola.

Or perhaps Nicola herself, for lying to the Sheridans about her whereabouts.

Or possibly Nathaniel, for not fully employing his own brand of stubbornness and taking action the moment he started worrying.

Or . . .

“Oh, I'm so stupid!” Eleanor exclaimed, bursting into tears. She was thankful that Stella had placed her on the cushioned divan; Eleanor wasn't sure if her legs would support her in the midst of her breakdown otherwise.

“Nat was right!” she added when Stella attempted to calm her down with a hand upon hers. “Nat's always right! He had been right about Sir Hugh complementing my silliness, and about Sebastian Bartholomew being a wastrel; how could I have not believed him when he thought that there was something wrong this afternoon? He's my own brother, and I didn't believe him! Oh, he had been right all along!”

“Oh, Miss Sheridan” Stella spoke a few moments after Eleanor started to only sob. “But there was no way you could have known.”

“But Nat had been complaining for hours!” Eleanor reasoned. “I should have realized it! Or at least I could have been more supportive of him.”

“Well, you did send me a note to confirm that Miss Sparks was with me.”

Fat good that note did, Eleanor thought, sniffling. Of course, that note had caused the arrival of Stella Ashton to the Sheridan house, which in turn helped Nathaniel first process the fact that Nicola was, indeed, missing—if he had found out directly from the Milksop, Eleanor was sure her brother would waste no time in beating the boy into a pulp. And, of course, Stella's presence offered some comfort to Eleanor, as well. But, oh! if only Eleanor had sent the note earlier . . . !

“Miss Sheridan,” Stella's voice broke through Eleanor's thoughts. “It won't do at all to think of if only's and what if's.”

She was right. Oh, she was right, wasn't she?

“I know you have faith in your brother,” Stella continued. “It wouldbe best to hold on to that faith.”

Eleanor nodded, willing her sobs to settle. With a long, deep inhale of air, she closed her eyes and summoned the confidence in her brother that she had displayed in the hallway. Surely, surely everything was going to be all right.

“Thank you,” she said, once she had reopened her eyes. “Thank you, Miss Ashton.”

Stella smiled, heaving a sigh, herself. “You're very welcome, Miss Sheridan.”

There was silence for a moment, until the door gently opened to reveal Lady Sheridan. The mistress of the house stood elegantly straight, as she always did, excuding ladylikeness and authority. But although the rest of her countenance was schooled into calmness, her eyes were undeniably filled with motherly worry.

“Eleanor,” was all she said.

“Mama,” Eleanor said, taking three quick steps and enveloping her mother in a hug, “it's going to be all right. Nat's on it. Nicky's going to be okay. Nathaniel is on it. Everything's going to be all right . . .”

Eleanor didn't know how she had expected for her mother to react, but she knew that she had not expected her to laugh.

“Oh, my dear,” Lady Sheridan said, through teary eyes, “and here I thought I was the one who was going to do the comforting!”

Eleanor laughed, as well, “I rather think I was talking to myself, too.”

Since the Lady Sheridan wasn't in the hallway during Harold Blenkenship's surprisingly skillful narration of the recent events surrounding Nicola Sparks, and since Winters could only relay so much, Eleanor had to take on the responsibility to put her mother up to speed. After the Lady Sheridan digested the story, the rest of the afternoon was spent in silence. Eleanor lent Stella Ashton a book from the library, and Lady Sheridan went to see that the servants prepared dinner and everything else that would be needed when—not if, but when—the rescue party returned with Nicola.

Eleanor initially took to stitchwork, attempting to use the detailed patterns to distract herself. But the repetitive action of pulling in and pulling out of thread soon became so monotonous that Eleanor's mind kept drifting back to Nicola and her safety. Perhaps this what was Nathaniel was feeling during afternoon tea . . .

And so, following her brother's example, Eleanor let her stitchwork fall onto her lap, and just chose to gaze out the window, as if willing for the awaited company to appear.

“They lured her out of this house,” Harold Blenkenship had told them, “with a note supposedly from Sir Hugh Parker, asking her to secretly come to Grafton House to help him select a surprise gift for Miss Sheridan...”

Eleanor felt tears pricking her eyes again. Just the thought that it was Nicola's desire to help Sir Hugh suprise her—her, Eleanor Sheridan—struck a new pain in her heart, as well as love for her most bosom friend. Nicola's abduction had been because of Eleanor, albeit indirectly. Oh, must Nicola be so sweet and caring and helpful?

No! Eleanor thought, stomping that feeling—the pain and self-loathing, not the love for her friend—under her feet, and focused on the empty street outisde. The sound of horse hooves reached her ear, causing Eleanor to sit up straighter . . .

.. . only, those horse hooves belonged to greys that pulled a curricle that Eleanor wasn't familiar with. Also, that curricle passed by the Sheridan home without so much as pausing.

Eleanor sighed, sitting back again. It had been that way for a while now, her giving a start and hopefully staring at a horse or a carriage—anything!—that approached. And yet none of them were there to bring Nicola back. Not yet, anyway.

So, the next time Eleanor heard the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone, she decided to give her aching back a break and remained leaning on the cushions. And when she saw the outline of the horse itself and its rider, Eleanor didn't strain her eyes to see through the darkness—for it was indeed turning dark outside, and the street lamps had been lighted. She still watched, however, as the horse and its rider approached. She observed that the rider was carring a rather bulky load . . .

Hold on. It quite looked like the load was actually a person.

Yes, atop the steed one rider was sitting straight, and another—a woman, Eleanor realized—was sitting sideways about his arms. Why, it was as if he were the brave knight Lochinvar, carrying his fair Ellen! Eleanor imagined that Nicola would enjoy being carried like that. She wasn't sure if Nathaniel would appreciate being compared to Lochinvar, however, given his dislike of the knight, so perhaps Eleanor would just keep this particular imagined scene from him.

Except, now that the couple riding on horseback was getting closer, Eleanor could seetheir features clearer. The man had brown hair and wore a blue coat, much like Nathaniel did. And the lady—Eleanor finally sat up to peer at them better—yes, the lady had ebony hair and gown in acolor quite similar to Nicola's when Eleanor had last seen her . . .

Oh, but Eleanor had to be hallucinating!

But then Stella Ashton, whom Eleanor had not heard approach to stand beside her, whispered, “Is that . . . ?”

That was all Eleanor needed. In an instant she was on her feet and rushing out ofthe room towards the entrance. If Stella Ashton had seen it, then surely it wasn't a hallucination! With a wide smile on her face and apounding heart in her chest, Eleanor flung the door open wide and very promptly happily shrieked.

For there, being helped by Nathaniel to get off a horse, was Eleanor's bosom friend and soul sister, the exhausted, dirtied, but smiling and positively glowing Miss Nicola Sparks.


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A word from the author: Let's show Eleanor some love, eh? I've been thinking of writing a SirHugh+Eleanor spin-off to Nathaniel and the Orphan, but,seeing as we know nothing about Sir Hugh's background, I'm not entirely sure if I should go ahead and do it. After all, I still have Jacob and the Heiress waiting in the pipeline, and it is feeling very lonely indeed.

Let me know what you think!
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#7 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 02:33 AM

Disclaimer: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. I do not own Nathaniel Sheridan, either. Which is a bummer. Agreed :D


I loved it! Finally, Eleanor gets the story she deserves! And I would love it if you do the Sir Hugh - Eleanor thing! I've always liked Sir Hugh! And you can always invent his background ;) I don't think anyone will mind!

I loved every word! Seriously, and especially when Nat said 'I'll bring her back' (*sigh*) and when Eleanor was saying 'stupid, stupid, stupid' and trying to think of who she was calling stupid ( :icon_lol: ) and when she imagined Nat as Lochinvar and then immediately thought that she wouldn't mention it to him! :D I love Eleanor.

and the last line was just perfect! :D

Waiting anxiously for the next one-shot :)

Rivea :icon_flower:

Edited by Allthingsstellar, 05 March 2011 - 02:34 AM.

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#8 sarahcada

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 04:22 AM

Well, that was a very productive weekend. Haha!

Today's featured character is probably not in anybody's favorites list, but, hey, after rereading the chapters that included him in Nicola and the Viscount, I thought I'd give him another chance. I hope you give him a chance, too. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. I do not own Harold Blenkenship, either, which is a relief. And I do not own Nathaniel Sheridan, which is a bummer.

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In Which Harold is Observant

Harold Blenkenship wasn't a very sharp man. His cousin Nicola Sparks would attest to this, and his father, the baron Lord Renshaw, would also agree wholeheartedly. No, Harold Blenkenship wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but that didn't mean that he was dim.

His father had not told him about Lord Farrelly's plan—not early on, anyway—but Harold had known it. He had known that they had planned to convince Nicola to sell Beckwell Abbey. He had known that they had planned for Lord Sebastian to woo Nicola as a back-up plan—to be completely honest, Harold had felt sorry for the Viscount Farnsworth at the time, being forced to show interest in Nicola. He had known that, when the Lord Renshaw encouraged Harold to pursue Nicola after seeing just how lovely she could be, it wasn't so much about supporting his son than it was about sealing a business deal—and what had slighted him a little then was her laughing at him as a person, more than her rejection of his haphazard proposal.

No, Nicola's rejecting him as a prospective husband wasn't a surprise, really. After all, he was not strong and tall, like Sebastian Bartholomew, nor was he intelligent and confident, like Nathaniel Sheridan. He was, however, as he liked to believe, a great deal observant.

He had observed, during the very limited number of times he shortly saw her during the season, how Nicola was being swayed to believe that Lord Sebastian actually fancied her—it was Nicola for whom Harold felt sorry for, at this point; that poor, deluded girl. And when Nicola had somehow gotten wind of Edward Pease, he had tried to nudge her into selling the old Abbey—that way no one had to be forced to marry anyone. And when Harold observed, through a keyhole, what his father and Lord Farrelly were going to resort to in order to get Nicola's birthright, he had mustered everything he had in order to warn Nicola, even if it meant standing up to Nathaniel Sheridan.

He had warned her to run away. Run away to America with him to be his business partner—not as his wife; he had no desire to ask her again—and, more importantly, to be safe, but Nicola had, not surprisingly, declined his offer. Being that Harold was, as mentioned, not tall or strong or confident, and only observant, there was nothing he could do after that.

Indeed, when the Lord Farrelly had employed Grant to kidnap Nicola, there was nothing Harold could do. He could only watch—or, not watch; he chose to bury his eyes in his arms—as they tried to talk Nicola into selling. And when that didn't work, they tried to threaten her into it; and when that didn't work they had locked her up in a room upstairs. During the few hours that Nicola was held captive, Harold stayed—it unsettled him to think that Nicola might finally ask for his help, and he would be absent—and tried to see if there was a way for his cousin to escape.

There was none.

So, the first chance he could get—not too soon, because his father and Lord Farrelly might finally decide that he was their weakest link and should therefore be eliminated—he climbed the stairs to Nicola's room and see how she was faring.

She was faring just as Harold expected she would, quoting poetry and still not backing down from the fight. It comforted him a little to see hope in her eyes when she saw him—it meant that she didn't hate him, not really. She actually thought that he was there to rescue her, which was not at all what he was there to do, no matter how much he did want to rescue her. He simple wasn't capable.

But, while Lord Farrelly—large, bulky man that he was—scared Harold, he did not scare him as much as Nicola Sparks did. Not when her sapphire eyes were ablaze, not when she was commanding him to action, not when she was actually making sense.

“For once in your life,” she had said, “you are going to prove that you have a backbone. You are going to do the right thing.”

Funny. Harold was close to believing that everyone was right, that he did not have a backbone. And here was Nicola Sparks telling him that he did, and that he just had to prove it.

And prove it, he did. He ran to Mayfair, addressed the Lord Sheridan as confidently as he could and gave him all the information that was needed in order to rescue Nicola. It had entailed standing up to Nathaniel Sheridan again, however, which, personally, Harold wished to never have to repeat in his lifetime.

But he expected that he had to do it again, sooner or later. Well, soon was more likely. Specifically the day after the events in the Gilded Rose, when the magistrates saw to the case in court.

Harold had expected, of course, that the Earl of Farelly, the Viscount Farnsworth, and the Lord Renshaw would be sentenced to imprisonment. What he didn't expect, however, was that he, Harold Blenkenship the Milksop—oh, he knew Nicola called him that behind his back—had not been declared guilty and sent to prison, as well. Even more unexpected, it was both Lord Sheridan and his son Nathaniel who had testified for Harold in order for this to happen.

What was most unexpected, however—but should not have been at all surprising, now that Harold thought about it—was that the proper gentleman, Lord Sebastian Bartholomew, would lash out in court, and that his rage would be directed at Harold Blenkenship himself.

“You traitor, you sorry excuse of a man!” he had yelled, making Harold jump from where he sat, “You'll pay for this humiliation you've caused me!”

The Viscount Farnsworth, athletic young man that he was, had moved so quickly that the officers around him were not able to grab him in time, and, as much as Nicola had insisted that Harold had had a backbone, he could only watch with wide, terrified eyes as the Lord Sebastian advanced towards him. Harold could only watch even as, suddenly, Nathaniel Sheridan appeared in the viscount's path—

“Bartholomew, grab a hold of yourself—”

—and was promptly and violently punched in the jaw.

This jolted Harold out of his stupor—this, and Lord Sheridan's booming “Nathaniel!!!” among the other yells of surprise in the court—and he leapt out of his chair to attempt to keep Lord Sebastian from hurting anybody else. He wasn't sure how he was going to do it, but by God, he was going to do it!

Only, he didn't have a chance to, because Nathaniel Sheridan, a scant instant after receiving the blow, immediately recovered, pulled back, and answered the Lord Sebastian with a very solid punch to his pretty nose, sending the Viscount Farnsworth sprawling to the ground, unconscious.

“I've always wanted to do that,” Nathaniel confessed, looking rather pleased.

It was overall a very curious afternoon, and Harold spent most of the ride back to the Sheridans' home in silence, trying to process the day on top of the previous evening's events. He was so deep in thought that he didn't realize he had spoken out loud until he heard his own voice.

“Why?”

Nathaniel Sheridan, who was ironically forced to ride inside the carriage with Harold instead of on horseback like that morning, cast him a quick sideway glance. His lips were in a grim line, his hazel eyes were narrowed, and somehow the slight swelling on his jaw made him look more intimidating than usual. Still, he answered, “Why what?”

“Why did you defend me?” Harold asked in the same quiet voice that he had involuntarily used earlier. “I mean, I knew everything, I was practically an accessory to the crime, and yet you and your father testified for me.”

Nathaniel shrugged. “Not having a backbone is not a crime punishable by imprisonment, I think.”

“I... I suppose.” There was a pause before Harold asked again: “But why did you stop Lord Sebastian from boxing me? I think I deserve getting boxed, after everything I did—or didn't do, I suppose.”

“Milksop or not,” Nathaniel readily answered, “you're still Miss Sparks' cousin.”

“But my father is also Miss Sparks' cousin, and we let him be punished. Shouldn't I be punished, as well? Yesterday evening, you did look like you were going to punch me.”

“But, as Miss Sparks had tried to persuade me last night, you did the right thing in the end—”

“But still—”

“Blenkenship,” Nathaniel interrupted, looking rather irritated. “I would very much like to punch you, but I think, for your well-being, it would be best if you stopped trying to convince me to do it.”

Harold gulped, knowing full well that Nathaniel truly was capable of beating him into a pulp. As guilty as Harold was about everything, and as much as he wanted redemption, he gladly took the offer to forgo being punched.

“No one's ever called me a milksop to my face,” he mused out loud after a moment.

“First time for everything,” was all Nathaniel said.

Harold silently agreed. Truly, there was a first time for everything. And everything, as it turned out, included seeing his cousin as a frantic woman in love. And a woman in love, Nicola Sparks evidently was, as she gasped and fussed and worried at the sight of Nathaniel's swelling jaw.

“Seriously, Nicky, it's not that bad!”

“But, Nat, it looks positively painful! Martine! Be a dear and fetch ice, will you? Or cold steak if we have any!”

Harold watched his cousin from his corner of the parlor where the Lady Sheridan had ushered them all in for afternoon tea. From the moment she had entered the room, her eyes had not left the eldest Sheridan, and even if they did, it had to be the briefest of glances towards her other hosts. Even as she looked nervous about Nathaniel's health, there was an undeniable joyful twinkle in her eye. A twinkle that Harold may have seen when she talked about poetry... Only, that twinkle paled in comparison to this one.

“What do you mean, you're familiar with Lord Sebastian's pitiful punches? Don't tell me he's hit you before!”

“...Er... Well...”

“Actually, Nicky, Lord Sebastian had landed a punch on Nat once, right after you've broken your engagement—”

“Eleanor!”

“What? She ought to know how valiantly you defended her tower. Like Lochinvar!”

“Good Lord, not that knight again!”

Harold looked away, focusing instead on the patterns on the carpet beneath his feet. Nicola would be all right here, he was sure. The Sheridans had taken care of her for years now, after all. And now that she and Nathaniel looked like quite a pair—Harold might have observed this before, only he was too occupied with the whole plot against Nicola to actually take notice—surely, Nicola would be happy. Especially since Beckwell Abbey, her beloved home, was also intact.

As for Harold... Well, his name was rather ruined now, given the fact that his father was in jail. Perhaps it would be best to follow his plan and slink away to America to pursue his fashion career. It should be relatively easy to leave. Nobody would pay attention to a milksop jumping ship, he supposed.

Harold very nearly jumped then, when, suddenly, the patterns he was staring at was filled with the blue hem of Nicola's dress. Looking up, he saw his cousin gazing down at him, looking very regal and much like a viscountess, which she would be eventually if and when she married Nathaniel Sheridan.

“Harold,” Nicola said.

“Cousin,” Harold acknowledged, dropping his gaze to the floor once more, “I...th— that is...”

“Thank you.”

Harold's head snapped up to see Nicola's softly smiling face. “What?”

“Thank you,” Nicola repeated, “for granting my request to call Lord Sheridan when I had been in captivity at the Gilded Rose. You very well could have run off to save yourself, especially after I've treated you.”

Harold, blinking, could only nod.

“We haven't really talked since then, so I haven't had a chance to thank you for it. So, thank you,” Nicola said again. “Thank you also for standing your ground and testifying today. That took a lot of courage.”

For a moment, Harold wondered where Nicola might have drawn this opinion from, until he remembered who else was in the room. Harold risked a glance behind Nicola, where the eldest Sheridan still sat. He was watching them with an eye of a hawk, but there was a small smile on his lips, as well. A tiny one, in any case. Miniscule. Microscopic. But it was still a smile.

Oh, Harold knew that he had nothing to do with Nathaniel's agreeable disposition. More likely, he was smiling at how Nicola found it in her heart to forgive Harold, and even thank him. Even so, Harold discovered that seeing someone—two someone's, actually, at that very moment—direct something towards his general location other than a look of disappointment was a welcome change.

“Miss Sparks,” Harold said, managing a smile, himself, for Nicola, “you are very welcome.”


-------

A word from the author: Did anybody else notice how Nicola didn't seem to say anything insulting towards the Milksop in Chapter 20? She even called him “my cousin Harold” instead of her usual nickname! I thought that was pretty curious, don't you?

That, right there, is Nicola and the Viscount from Harold's POV. Sort of. I surprisingly had loads of fun exploring it! Next up will be...everyone's—or at least everyone who read Nathaniel and the Orphan—favorite supporting character! I do believe I'm going to have loads of fun with that one.

Let me know what you think!
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#9 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 12:43 AM

I actually never hated Harold...just felt really sorry for him.

So yeah. I LOVED THIS! I think he deserves it! And I like your take on him - how he's really more intuitive than he appears (his knowing the whole milksop thing and all). And I felt sad when he was thinking the whole 'I'm not intelligent or confident or handsome'

I LOVED it when Nat punched Sebastian! Awwwww :heartbeat:

And when Nicky fussed over him :)

“What do you mean, you're familiar with Lord Sebastian's pitiful punches? Don't tell me he's hit you before!”

“...Er... Well...”

“Actually, Nicky, Lord Sebastian had landed a punch on Nat once, right after you've broken your engagement—”

“Eleanor!”

“What? She ought to know how valiantly you defended her tower. Like Lochinvar!”

“Good Lord, not that knight again!”


and this conversation was really funny! Poor Nat - always being compared to the person he detests the most! ;) But I guess he'll have to get used to it if he's marrying Miss Nicola Sparks, lover of poetry and Lochinvar!

It was very nice of Nathaniel to smile at Harold :)

Update soon!!!

Rivea :icon_flower:
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#10 sarahcada

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 12:45 AM

There are three things that you must know before reading this chapter.

First, you must know that I think that Sir Hugh and Nathaniel were good friends during (and possibly before) the events in Nicola and the Viscount.

Second, you must know that in Nathaniel and the Orphan, I had imagined Sir Hugh to be Nathaniel's roommate in Oxford, along with Sir John Beckett, who is my original character. These two studied Literature.

And third, you must know that it makes me very, very nervous whenever I write Nat+Nicky doing things other than talking.

Disclaimer: I don't own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. I don't own Nathaniel Sheridan, either. Bummer.

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In Which Nathaniel Faces a Knight

It was a well-known fact that Miss Nicola Sparks loved poetry. In her conversations in Almack's Assembly Halls she was usually heard injecting a line or two from Wordsworth or Byron. And she did so so beautifully that her fellow debutantes sometimes wished they had also memorized as much flowery verses as she did.

It was also a known fact that the Honorable Nathaniel Sheridan disliked poetry, and disliked it with passion. He didn't walk about declaring his feelings towards it, being a rather genial young man that he was, but whenever he was seen with Miss Sparks—and this was increasing in frequency after the incident with Lord Sebastian Bartholomew—half the time he was arguing with her over the poetry which she so quoted often.

It was artistic, she would say. It had no reason, he would reply. It put feelings into words, she would explain. It made no sense to a normally functioning mind, he would retort. It was from the heart and touches the heart, she would insist. It sounded fake and insincere, he would conclude.

No matter how proper and behaved Miss Nicola Sparks often was, she would lose the cool disdain that ladies often adopted when they were around gentlemen. When she was with Nathaniel Sheridan, a gasp of disbelief would escape her lips, and sometimes—nay, oftentimes—her hand would fly up to slap him on his arm in frustration. Occassionally, she would turn her back on him in search of the Honorable Eleanor Sheridan to verbalize to her how impossible her brother was, but at those times, Nathaniel would just catch her elbow to wheel her around to return to his side and replace her gloved hand about his arm. Nicola would protest at first, but she would eventually, without fail, be last seen with a smile upon her lips as a blush colored her cheeks.

Their debates over poetry were so regular and normal for the people closest to them that it was a bit of surprise when Nathaniel, in the middle of a chess game, announced that he was going to strive to appreciate poetry. It was a sudden declaration, Nathaniel had to admit to himself later. Sir John Beckett had stared at him as if he had grown another head, and Sir Hugh had chuckled, telling Nathaniel that it was a jolly good joke. The topic was easily dismissed.

But the idea was not.

During the next several days, Nathaniel finished his work early so that he could begin reading in the privacy of his study, but he soon found that shifting his brain so quickly from calculations to over-emberllished narrations proved to be too tiring. So, he turned to smuggling the items he needed into his room. But the realization that the maids or his siblings—or, God forbid, Nicola—might stumble upon them forced him to return them to their proper place.

He resorted to sneaking to the library at night, after everyone had gone to bed. So far, no one had yet caught him, although Nicola had begun to notice the effects of his lack of sleep. Nathaniel had smoothly told her that he was fine—and he truly was, save for the occasional drowsiness.

Nicola's inquiry prompted Nathaniel to once more seek guidance from his two friends. After all, they both studied Literature in Oxford. Surely, they would know how to help him.

Their response was far from his expectation.

While their concern upon seeing his pale appearance was somewhat encouraging—Sir Hugh thought that Nathaniel looked like he had been run over by twenty phaetons, despite the fact that he was satisfactorily groomed—their response to his hard work left much to be desired.

Sir John said, shaking his head, “By Jove. You were serious?”

Sir Hugh, on the other hand, was not able to say anything because he was too busy laughing to do so, and his attempts to get any words in only resulted in unintelligible syllables and further laughter. If Eleanor was there, Nathaniel was sure she would have stomped her slippered foot upon Sir Hugh's in order to silence him.

Perhaps.

But if Eleanor was there, then the whole point of that meeting would be for naught, because Sir Hugh's head would be full of Eleanor and only Eleanor, and he would not have paid any attention to Nathaniel's pleas for help.

Help that Nathaniel was not receiving, as it turned out, despite Eleanor's absence. Having had quite enough, Nathaniel stepped towards the blond gentleman and, as calmly as he could, thwacked him on the back of his head.

“Ow!” Sir Hugh protested. “Whatever is wrong with you?”

“I asked for your assistance,” Nathaniel reminded his friend, “and not your ridicule.”

“Yes, well, I can't help it if you looked ridiculous.”

Truth be told, Nathaniel himself felt rather ridiculous, reciting lines from a poem about lovers who needed a goblin—a goblin, of all things!—to solve their problems for them. Still, Sir Hugh needn't have laughed so hard at Nathaniel's predicament.

“Sheridan,” Sir John began, thus interrupting Nathaniel's retort, “your effort is most admirable...”

“Thank you,” Nathaniel said, shooting a glare at Sir Hugh.

“However,” Sir John continued, “you have just reminded all of us what your true feelings are regarding this form of Literature.”

Nathaniel deflated. “Is it still that obvious?”

“Yes, unfortunately. How did you even come up with this idea, anyway? Everybody knows you hate poetry.”

“Yes, but see here. Everybody thought I only saw Nicky as the annoying friend of my little sister—”

“I didn't,” Sir Hugh volunteered. Nathaniel ignored him.

“—but now I'm courting her. So, even though everyone thought that I didn't like poetry, if Nicky sees that I actually like the thing she loves the most, then I would win her over!”

“But you've already won her over,” Sir John pointed out. “And you don't actually like poetry.”

“That's true,” Nathaniel agreed, “but she doesn't have to know it while I'm reciting to her.”

“'Oh! what a tangled web we weave,'” Sir Hugh interjected, “'When first we practise to deceive!'”

“See?” Nathaniel exclaimed, pointing at Sir Hugh accusingly, “Parker can quote Marmion even though he harbors the same feelings as mine about it!”

“Except, I'm not jealous of the brave Lochinvar.”

“What— that's—!Whoever said I'm jealous? He's a fictional character! Why should I be jealous? I'm not jealous!”

Sir Hugh and Sir John, as if they had rehearsed it, each raised an eyebrow at the exact same time towards their sputtering friend.

“I'm not.”

“Perhaps you should elicit help from Eleanor,” Sir Hugh suggested, choosing to overlook Nathaniel's weak insistence. “She should be more familiar with the female psyche than we ever could be.”

Nathaniel hadn't wanted to ask Eleanor, but he conceded that it was a rather logical thing to do. After all, Eleanor was Nicola's best friend, therefore she understood not just women in general, but, specifically, Nicola's thinking. On top of that, Nathaniel was her brother, so perhaps she wouldn't laugh at him like her fiancé just did.

But, even before Nathaniel could get past the first lines, “True love's the gift which God has given to man alone beneath the heaven,” Eleanor already began to snicker.

“Really, Nathaniel?” Eleanor asked him, “The Lay of the Last Ministrel?”

“It's what brought popularity to Sir Walter Scott,” Nathaniel explained, feeling very strange indeed to be the one defending the value of a poem, and that Eleanor should be the one laughing at the recitation of it. And he hadn't meant it to be funny this time!

“Well... At least you had the good sense to select the canto that tells of love instead of the ones that tell of goblins,” she commended him. “Still, Nathaniel, I can't quite picture you spouting the lines after that.”

“I would have if you hadn't interrupted me with your very ladylike snicker.”

“Oh? Then please, by all means, continue.”

Nathaniel opened his mouth to accept his sister's challenge, only to close it again. Preparing himself for this mock recitation had been laborious enough, and now that Eleanor had interrupted it—and now that she was grinning at him—Nathaniel found that he, indeed, could not speak about silver links and silken ties, even though he had thought, after several nights of research, that he had selected the perfect passage as his starting point.

“You know, Nat,” Eleanor finally spoke when her brother said nothing more, “It has always amazed Nicky how you know so much about poetry despite your very vocal dislike of it. Of that, at least, you can be confident.”

Oho.

Ohohoho.

So Nicola was amazed, was she?

Armed with this revelation, Nathaniel returned to his task with renewed motivation. Yes, forcing himself to read pages and pages of poetry had been torture, but he was going to survive it magnificently, if he wanted to amaze Nicola.

In fact, he was going to take it one level higher. He had already conquered—albeit temporarily—his disdain for Scott's work, so he might as well impress Nicola with a selection from her favorite piece.

Even better, he was going to sweep Nicola off her feet by facing Lochinvar.

His victory was inevitable!

Later that night, he stood in the dim library, a resolute frown upon his mouth as he glared at the tome that was sitting on the shelf amidst the other poetry books Nathaniel had leafed through the past week.

This was it. This was the confontation. Once he brilliantly learned to appreciate that section of Marmion, Nathaniel and Nicola would stop arguing about him, and that prick of a knight would no longer stand between them. And with poetry out of the way, he could scoop Nicola into his arms and—

“Nat?”

Nathaniel's thoughts came to a screeching halt at the voice, and he whirled around sharply exclaiming, “Nicky!” He wisely put down his candle upon the table before he dropped it and asked, “What— Is something wrong? Why are you still awake?”

“I could ask the same of you,” Nicola said, her eyebrows furrowing as she cautiously stepped towards him. “I got thirsty. I was on my way to get a glass of water when I saw the light.”

“Ah.”

There was a moment of silence as Nathaniel watched Nicola's eyes surveyed the empty table, and then his empty hands. She gave him a hesitant smile.

“What about you?” she asked, taking another step towards him. “What are you doing here?”

“I was reading.” Nathaniel took a step towards her, as well. “Or trying to, anyway.”

“Oh, right. Of course.” Nicola laughed softly before adding under her breath, “What else do people do in libraries, anyway, silly girl?”

Nathaniel said nothing as Nicola fiddled with her fingers for a moment. He didn't know what it was, but there was always something about Nicola in a comfortable house robe and loosely braided hair that made Nathaniel want to pull her to him and kiss her breathless.

“But... at this time of night?” Nicola asked again, the warm light from her candle dancing across her features.

“It's quieter.” Reaching out to kiss her, Nathaniel reckoned, would be easy to do since they were alone. But kissing her was something he shouldn't do at the moment precisely because they were alone. And, as Nicola had pointed out, it was late into the night. After all, Nicola, being a proper lady, wouldn't— And Nathaniel couldn't— And they really shouldn't—

“Well... Well, you enjoy reading, then.”

But, good Lord, Nicola looked so very kissable at that very moment.

“Right.”

And then, without another word of poetry or otherwise, Nathaniel took that last step between them, took the candle from her with one hand and lifted her chin with the other, and watched her eyes flutter closed as his lips descended upon hers.

Perhaps his friends and Eleanor were right. Perhaps Nathaniel didn't need it to impress Nicola, seeing as she seemed impressed with him enough to let him kiss her in the darkness of the library, and even slowly slide her hands up his shoulders so she could wrap her arms around his neck...

All too soon, Nicola pulled away. She still hovered close to Nathaniel, however, he could the small puffs of her breath on his lips.

“I... I should...” she spoke with much effort, “let you get back to your reading...”

“'Stay yet,'” Nathaniel murmured, already leaning down again, “'stay a while, my wildered fancy still beguile.'”

Suddenly, Nicola moved away so swiftly that Nathaniel nearly stumbled from leaning into empty space. Her hand remained upon his shoulder, but this time it was unyielding as she kept him at a distance.

“Was that...” she began, her eyebrows furrowing once more. “Was that Marmion just now?”

Nathaniel blinked. “What?”

“You said, 'Stay yet... stay a while, my wildered fancy still beguile,'” Nicola quoted, her voice flat and her expression unreadable. “Nat, did you just quote Marmion?”

In retrospect, since his goal was to make Nicola swoon with poetry, Nathaniel should have smiled, pulled her close once more and whispered softly into her ear, “Yes, Nicky, that was indeed Marmion.”

Instead of that suave move, however, Nathaniel, unable to help himself, winced.

So much for making her believe that he liked poetry.

“Nathaniel,” Nicola said, her eyes boring into his. “Why are you quoting Sir Walter Scott?”

Nathaniel's eyebrows raised, this time. “Why do you sound so suspicious?”

“Because you acting favorably towards poetry is suspicious!” Nicola exclaimed. “Nat, what is going on?”

“I just...” Nathaniel tried. “I thought you'd like it. That I was getting over my 'absurd prejudice against poetry,' I mean.”

“Absurd preju—” Nicola stopped, eyes widening, and she stepped around Nathaniel to the shelf he had been glaring at moments ago. She gave a small cry, whipping out their copy of Marmion. “Is this why you're getting sick? You've been reading poetry in the dead of the night?”

“Nicky, I'm hardly sick.”

“But you're on your merry way to it,” Nicola told him, jabbing his chest with the spine of the book. “Good gracious, Nathaniel, I was worried about you! Have you any idea what it was like to watch you the past few days? You've grown pale, you're always tired, you won't tell me what's wrong, and you wouldn't even argue with me properly!”

“...You want us to argue?”

“If it's over poetry, then gladly! Don't tell me you don't enjoy it. Otherwise, you wouldn't have done it mercilessly for years!”

“Only because you look so beautiful when we do it.”

“Ah, you see? The truth surfaces.”

Nathaniel sighed, raking his fingers through his hair. “But, Nicky. That's just it. I don't want to mercilessly argue with you, especially over something you love.”

Nicola smiled, returning Marmion in its place the shelf. “And I don't want you to neglect yourself for me,” she said, touching her palm on Nathaniel's cheek, “especially over something for which my fondness is nothing in comparison to my love for you.”

Nathaniel, still feeling the need to give it one last try, said, “Nicky, I would do anything for you. You know that, don't you?”

“In that case,” Nicola said, bringing her arms upon his shoulders again, “do this one thing for me: don't look so pained whenever I say you're like Lochinvar.”

Nathaniel groaned, letting his forehead fall on Nicola's shoulder.

“I kid, I kid! ”Nicola laughed, her happy voice filling Nathaniel's ear. “But, really, Nat, don't force yourself into poetry. However, I won't complain if the day will come when you will actually, honestly like it.”

Nathaniel, lifting his head from her neck, smirked, saying, “Don't count on it.”

Nicola smiled as Nathaniel drew her even closer to him. “I wasn't going to.”

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#11 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:24 AM

awww awwww awwww

SUCH a cute chapter :) It was soooooooooo sweet of Nat to try to appreciate poetry :D

:heartbeat: :heartbeat: :heartbeat:

*melts into gooey ice-cream*


Update soon :)

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#12 sarahcada

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 04:36 PM

Disclaimer: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. That's why I don't know Lord Sheridan's given name, and I won't even try to guess it.

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In Which the Lord Sheridan Drinks Tea

The Lord Sheridan always enjoyed the moments when his household was in a comfortable silence. It was not that he was a cranky curmudgeon who thought his children to be noisy little brats—quite the contrary, he treasured his family's lively interactions: Nathaniel's teasing squabbles with Eleanor were entertaining, Phillip's never-ending enthusiasm was often a source of mirth, and whenever Nicola Sparks was present, it was a joy to the whole family. The Lady Sheridan would never miss a beat and would dutifully remind the children how proper ladies and gentlemen were to behave, but Lord Sheridan knew that his wife found amusement in their children's activity.

But there were times when the Sheridan home would fall into a calm quietness even when the whole family was in one room, and in these times the Lord Sheridan liked to observe.

That morning, Phillip was sprawled on the floor as usual, despite Lady Sheridan's wishes for him to sit properly. To his credit, he was diligently studying history, just like a young gentleman his age should be doing. To the Lord Sheridan's right was a settee upon which Eleanor sat reading beside Nicola, whose attention was on her stitching. On another divan opposite Eleanor and Nicola's was Nathaniel, who had been gazing out of the window for the majority of the hour until the Lord Sheridan finished reading the newspaper, which his eldest son promptly took up. Across the table from the Lord Sheridan, his wife was replying to letters.

It was altogether a peaceful scene, until Phillip, propping his chin on his hand, said, "I'm hungry."

"It shall be luncheon soon, love," Lady Sheridan replied.

But Phillip's declaration had nothing to do with wishing for the next meal, it appeared, because he mused aloud, "How can I possibly be hungry? I haven't done anything particularly tiring yet."

"Nothing physically tiring perhaps," Eleanor said, sounding very much like a caring older sister, "but mentally tiring, quite possibly. Thinking takes more energy than the regular physical activity, did you know?" Phillip replied that he did not. "Hugh told me so—he is a reliable source of facts and sciences despite his studying Literature, you know. Well, drink some water. Hugh says that sometimes we think we are hungry but we are actually dehydrated."

Phillip frowned. "I'd very much rather have tea. At least that comes with sandwiches."

"Tea isn't for several hours," Eleanor said, frowning, as well. Beside her, Nicola silently nodded. It was a merit to the two ladies to know and enforce the proper time for tea, but the Lord Sheridan inwardly agreed to Phillip's yearning for the meal. Not so much to appease his stomach, but more to satisfy his taste buds.

"While we are on the subject," he said, "my dear, did you find a new place to buy tea, or acquire new tools for it?"

"No," the Lady Sheridan answered, pausing from writing.

"Have you assigned a new maid to brew it, then?"

Again, the Lady Sheridan answered in the negative, before asking, "Why? Is it not to your liking?"

"No, no. In fact, I quite like the new tea, or, whatever new thing that is being done. I noticed it was changing bit by bit every day the past week, though I have yet to discern what exactly is different."

Out of the corner of his eye, Lord Sheridan noticed the corner of Nicola's lips lift. Aha! Perhaps she knew something. She seemed to be in good terms with her maid, regardless of the woman's strictness; perhaps she had a hint of the goings on in the kitchen.

"Well," Lady Sheridan said, turning back to her correspondence. "If I do discover the riddle of this new tea, be sure that you shall be the first to know."

"Such great lengths people go for a beverage," Nathaniel muttered as he turned a page of his newspaper.

Lord Sheridan saw, because their positions in the room permitted it or because he was already observing the young lady, the speed of the change in Nicola's disposition. From struggling to keep her smile from being too obvious, her countenance instantly fell, and her hands froze from their stitching.

"Do you think," she said with wide eyes, "that there is something wrong with people liking tea, Nathaniel?"

Nathaniel didn't turn his gaze from his current occupation. "No," he said. "Nothing wrong with it, I suppose, though it's always seemed strange to me how people make such an enormous fuss over it."

Jaw dropping, Nicola let out a cry of disbelief, making Nathaniel finally look up at her as the top of his newspaper limply folded over. Nicola caught herself and paused, clearing her throat, and then resumed her stitchwork. Her eyebrows furrowed on her forehead.

Lord Sheridan looked to his left, where Nathaniel sat, blinking over the fold of his newspaper. "Did I say something to upset you, Nicky?"

"Pray do not worry over it, Mr. Sheridan."

Oh, boy.

"Mr. Sheridan", was it?

Nicola stood up. "Excuse me, Lord Sheridan, Lady Sheridan," she said, crisply curtseying before turning to leave the room.

"Nicky," Nathaniel tried, but it was drowned out by Nicola's saying, "Eleanor, might I have your assistance with my dress for Miss Murphey's picnic?"

"Certainly," Eleanor said. She threw a quick, concerned glance towards Nathaniel before hastening to follow Nicola to the stairs.

Nathaniel's gaze followed the ladies before turning to Lord Sheridan. "What did I do?"

"Maybe Nicky likes tea as much as poetry," Phillip volunteered. "Hehe. You're in trouble, Nat."

"Thank you for your encouragement, Phillip."

"I should think," Lady Sheridan spoke, "that Nicola simply values tea like a proper member of society ought to."

At this point, Nathaniel rolled his eyes. "It's comforting to know that I have the full support of my family," he said, ducking back behind his newspaper.

The rest of the morning continued without consequence, and at luncheon when Eleanor and Nicola rejoined the family, the latter seemed to have lost whatever foul mood that had threatened to endanger her morning. Nathaniel had carried himself warily at the beginning of the meal—it was almost as if he was bracing himself for Nicola to empty the contents of her plate on the top of his head—but eventually he visibly relaxed, especially after Nicola offered him a small smile when their gazes met.

Despite the family's being used to seeing the two arguing about something or other, the exchange that morning had been a peculiar sort—Nicola rarely backed down from a challenge to a debate from Nathaniel—but the Lord Sheridan was relieved that it did not upset Miss Sparks as much as it had seemed. Seeing this as a sign that she was not in any delicate state, Lord Sheridan summoned her to his study that afternoon.

"Miss Sparks," he began after greetings had been exchanged. "There was something I have been meaning to ask you since this morning. I must know: did you also notice the difference in the tea being served?"

Nicola, who had arrived with a pleasant, polite smile, hesistated and looked rather unsure of what to say. Deciding to allow her honesty, Lord Sheridan continued, saying, "Any difference at all, I mean. If you think that it is quite the opposite of improvement, then say so, as well. At least then I should know that my taste buds aren't deceiving me."

Nicola hesitated for another moment. "Well, I..." she finally began. "Allow me to assure you, my lord, that I am also aware that there is a difference in the tea."

"Ah!" the Lord Sheridan exclaimed in relief. "At last someone agrees with me. And do you also think that it has greatly improved the past few days? I dare say we've gotten ourselves a mighty fine batch of tea leaves!"

At this, Nicola blushed slightly, and turned her eyes towards the window. "I'm afraid I am unable to give my opinion of it, my lord."

"You'll have to forgive an enthusiastic tea lover, child. I find it a most gratifying part of the day, you understand."

"I understand, sir. Tea is delightful gift from the East. I could only hope that everyone would share your eagerness towards it."

"Indeed. I am grateful to those who take time to serve it."

"Yes," Nicola said, nodding. And then, with her eyebrows furrowing slightly with conviction she added, "Tea is a complicated business. It is only a drink, yes, but as cooks take time to conjure a perfect dish, a significant amount of thought must also but put in creating a good cup of tea. Every such serving is different. — Green or black tea? What specific herbs are to be added? Strong or light? How much milk? Or is it with lemon? How many teaspoons of sugar? Hot or warm? In a mug or in a cup? — There are so many factors to consider in order to serve good tea, and I've only been striving to present him with a satisfactory one, and he thinks it a fuss!"

"Then Nathaniel isn't particular about tea," Lord Sheridan summarized. "We ought to see this a fortunate thing, don't you think?"

The mention of the name made Nicola freeze, her eyes widening in realization of what had just occurred. Sometime in the middle of her impassioned speech, Lord Sheridan had noticed that Nicola stopped actually talking to him and started instead to be carried away by her emotions. But Lord Sheridan chose to think that Nicola saw him as a father figure as much as he thought of her as a daughter, and that she was therefore sharing her opinions with him freely.

"I... I wasn't... That is, I wasn't talking about..." Nicola bit her lip, perhaps deciding that it was useless to lie about whom she was pertaining to. Again, her cheeks colored.

"My lord," she tried again after a moment, "would you know if he has a favorite tea?"

Lord Sheridan smiled. "I don't think he does. He drinks it as everyone else does, but he seems to have neither high nor low opinion of it."

Nicola looked thoughtful. "I know how he likes his tea, but I did not see him favor any of the variations I've tried to make. Oh, what am I to do? I only wish to show my gratitude—surely, even a morsel of it—in a manner that would be a service to him."

"I doubt Nathaniel would want you to overexert yourself just to show him gratitude."

"Oh, if only you knew what he attempted to do for me, sir," Nicola exclaimed. "Why, last week he nearly drove himself to sickness just to learn poetry just because he thought I'd like it!Nathaniel reading poetry! Can you imagine it?"

"To be sure, I cannot," Lord Sheridan laughed. "And how did you feel about it?"

"I thought it was absurd," Nicola admitted. "I appreciate the thought, but if he had told me sooner, I would have told him to stop—... Oh."

"Yes, precisely, child. 'Oh,' it is." Lord Sheridan laughed again. "For what it's worth, Miss Sparks, I like your tea."

Nicola smiled, and she looked like she was going to reply, but she was unable to, as a knock came upon on the door, and Nathaniel came bounding in.

"I heard you had an audience with a lovely lady, Father; I thought I'd see her for myself," he said with a grin as he deposited himself on the armrest of Nicola's chair.

"Lord Sheridan," Nicola said, "who is this foolish flatterer and what has he done with your son?"

"Aye," Nathaniel agreed. "Foolish, indeed, is he who doesn't acknowledge the fact that Miss Sparks is spoken for by an intelligent, accomplished young gentleman."

"He is foolish, and apparently exceedingly self-confident."

"And also a touch jealous that the lady he loves is not pestering him in his study as she does every day, and is instead spending the afternoon with his father!"

"Nathaniel!" Nicola scolded. "I should think you're pleased that I get along splendidly with your parents" — "No surprise there," Nathaniel muttered.— "and, please, I do not pester you in your study every day."

"Perhaps. But you were there yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that, and the day before that!"

"Well, forgive me for failing to maintain my pestering, the one that you appear to miss so much."

"If you two are quite done," Lord Sheridan interrupted, "I believe it is time for tea. Ah! Here comes Monique now."

As the maid poured the tea for the occupants of the room, the Lord Sheridan watched as Nathaniel and Nicola quarrelled a bit more about their quarrelling—Nicola chastised Nathaniel for picking a fight right in front of Lord Sheridan, and Nathaniel waved her off, saying that his father should be quite used to it.

"I confess," Lord Sheridan laughed, "I find your disputations to be diverting."

"Pleasant to know that you are amused at our expense, Father."

"I doubt the fact that it is such an expense, Nathaniel." Lord Sheridan took a sip—just one sip—of his tea, and immediately he knew: "Oh. This tea is a bit different, isn't it?"

"I can hardly tell," Nathaniel said, shrugging. "But of course you'd think it's different. Nicky has been here, after all, instead of preparing our tea for us."

At that, Nicola stopped mid-sip, turning towards Nathaniel so sharply that it was a testament to her grace that the contents of her cup did not spill. Although Nicola was obviously astonished that Nathaniel had known her secret all along, Lord Sheridan had to admit that he had seen it coming. After all, Nathaniel had a sharp eye, and was a very perceptive young man. He easily put behaviors and clues together to figure things—even things as serious as plots to steal Nicola's birthright.

"Of course I knew it was you," Nathaniel replied when Nicola expressed her surprise. "But I apologize for not having a skillful enough tongue to distinguish the slight differences in taste. All I know is that it's tea, and that you know how to make it. I have no worries, Nicky, that our guests will be happy with your serving it."

"Our guests?" Nicola asked, innocently blinking up at Nathaniel. "Whatever do you mean, Mr. Sheridan?"

"For... Well, for when we are married, of course."

Nicola took a moment to raise an eyebrow at Nathaniel before turning away and raising her tea cup to her lips and saying, "If we are to be married."

Nathaniel blanched, sputtered, and proceeded to demand what on earth Nicola meant by that, to which Nicola responded with a coolness that she was sure to lose later. As for Lord Sheridan, he simply sipped his tea, thinking that if only Nicola wasn't presently contending with Nathaniel she might have said, "'The Muse's friend, tea does our fancy aid, Regress those vapours which the head invade.'" But, of course, if Nicola were to quote Edmund Waller, then Nathaniel would make some unconscious disappointed action, which would then eventually lead to them into an impassioned discussion, anyway.

Still smilingly watching the verbal fencing in front of him, Lord Sheridan thought wistfully: his youngest son should be running through the hallways with the dogs by now, his wife and daughter should be having tea in another room and talking about his future son-in-law, and, right here in his study his son and his future daughter-in-law were in a heated debate as usual.

Quiet moments were all well and good, but thiswas what a peaceful day in the Sheridan household was like. And Lord Sheridan wouldn't have it any other way.

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A word from the author: I had planned this to focus on Lord Sheridan being fatherly. Seriously, I did! But somehow Nathaniel always steals the spotlight. Hahaha! Sorry.





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#13 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 05:49 AM

awww Nicola is so caring :heartbeat: So much ado over tea! :icon_lol:

But what a wonderfully cute update!


hahaha - Nathaniel is meant to be someone who always steals the spotlight. And I didn't mind :P Really ;)

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#14 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 01:41 AM

bump
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#15 SoccerRules

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 03:41 PM

this is magnificent!
Whatever happened to Carstairas POV you were working on though?
It was really good and I miss it. =(
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#16 sarahcada

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:59 AM

I don't know if anyone will still be reading this, but this chapter just came to me and begged to be written. It feels so good to be back to working on this, though. If you're still reading this despite the years of hiatus, THANK YOU! And if you're a new reader, thank you, too, and welcome!

Just a reminder: In my universe, Sir Hugh and Nathaniel were good friends before and during the events in Nicola and the Viscount.

The big theme of this chapter was inspired by a small tidbit I wrote in Nathaniel and the Orphan, and the desire to write something about Sir Hugh and Eleanor because they deserve some love.

Disclaimer: I do not own Nicola and the Viscount. Meg Cabot does. I do not own Nathaniel Sheridan, either. Which is a bummer.




In Which Sir Hugh Makes Proposals



Sir Hugh Parker knew that Miss Eleanor Sheridan was many things. A beautiful face, a graceful lady, a bright personality, an engaging conversationalist; she was a soft encouragement and a tenacious pillar of support; a loyal friend, a loving daughter, a treasured sister.

A very treasured sister, she was, Sir Hugh knew.

And a very, very treasured sister, she was, Nathaniel Sheridan reminded him very firmly when Sir Hugh informed his friend of his intention to court her.

"I trust that you're not an imbecile," Nathaniel said that day.

"I thank you for your vote of confidence," Sir Hugh responded jovially, because that was what he did. He did not do it to mock anybody; rather, he did it to somehow alleviate the weight of serious situations.

"But I know you'll do something stupid and hurt her at one point," Nathaniel continued as if Sir Hugh had not spoken, "and when you do I will hit you on the head and tell you to go to her and fix it. But if you do something completely idiotic such as lie to her, dishonor her, or break her heart—I swear to God, Parker, no manner of friendship will matter and I will throttle you from here to Derbyshire."

"I believe that that is not physically impossible," Sir Hugh mused out loud, because that was what he did. He was one to bring back reality in the very rare times that the level-headed Nathaniel Sheridan panicked or exaggerated.

But it quickly became apparent that Nathaniel had not been exaggerating. Instead of furthering his argument with more threatening words, he only set his jaw and fixed Sir Hugh with a rather fierce stare—Nathaniel looked about ready to strangle him. At this, Sir Hugh let his merry expression change into the serious countenance that reflected his inner sentiment, because that was what he did. He was a joker, but he also knew when the situation called for sincerity.

It was many weeks later, after many outings with Eleanor under her older brother's watchful eye and Sir Hugh had yet to be thrown to the country, that Sir Hugh truly appreciated Nathaniel's protective nature. Sir Hugh was stood in the Lord Sheridan's office, his posture more confident than how he truly felt, for though the Lord Sheridan was a very hearty man, he could be a quite intimidating when needed. Throughout the conversation his words seemed to be straight to the point, his usual cordial smile appeared to have been replaced by a simply polite one, and his voice, though surely used in the appropriate volume, seemed to reverberate loudly through each corner of the room.

Overall, the man before him made Sir Hugh feel that he should stand straighter, use "sir" more often, and be completely honest and transparent because the master of the house could smell falsity. Not that Sir Hugh would ever lie to him, really.

"I'm curious to know," the Lord Sheridan ventured at one point, "what did Nathaniel do when he found out about your intentions to court my daughter?"

"He threatened my life, sir."

There was a pause as the Lord Sheridan raised an eyebrow, one corner of his mouth twitching as if he was suppressing a grin. A proud one, most likely.

"Despite your friendship?"

"Because of it, I believe. Aside from the fact that he truly takes care of his sister."

"And what was your response to this threat upon your life?"

"I acknowledged it, and promised that I shall do everything in my power to ensure her happiness. The same promise that I give you now, sir."

"And he accepted this promise?"

"Only after warning me again to refrain from idiocy."

The suppressed grin turned into a true one, and then the Lord Sheridan nodded, evidently finding Sir Hugh's answers satisfactory, and moved on to more practical topics such as finances and living arrangements. It was not lost on Sir Hugh that his first passing Nathaniel's strict evaluation had a significant effect on the Lord Sheridan's opinion on the matter.

It was also not lost on Eleanor, who, after learning how Sir Hugh's interview with her father went, speculated: "Oh my, what if Nat wasn't dreadful to you? What would have Papa said?"

"Oh, I'm sure I would have convinced him, regardless," Sir Hugh replied easily.

In response, Eleanor wordlessly threw him a glance similar to that of her brother's unimpressed one, which usually came with a jesting declaration that Sir Hugh was conceited.

"Really, Eleanor," Sir Hugh said, instead, "are you saying that you delight in your brother being dreadful to me?"

"As long as it somehow paves the path to our marriage, then Nathaniel can be dreadful to you all he wants."

Sir Hugh felt a grin pull at the corners of his lips. "Are you saying, then, that you'll endure anything to be able to spend the rest of your life with me?" he asked, fully expecting Eleanor to blush, avert her eyes, and daintily exclaim a few denials that weren't really denials.

Eleanor did blush a little—a touch of pink blossoming on her cheeks—but her gaze firmly remained on his and she said in a clear voice, "Well, I did agree to marry you, did I not? I believe it was understood that I also agreed to enduring everything for you and with you for the rest of my life."

The directness and candidness of her words completely derailed Sir Hugh's joking train of thought, and filled him instead with a warm feeling; one of a combination of love and pride and dizzy, happy disbelief.

"Sometimes," he confessed gently, "I think you are much too good for me. How did I ever manage to deserve you?"

Eleanor's already pink cheeks took on a decidedly red color, and she stumbled a bit before she was able to answer, "I should think that you would have a solution to that puzzle, since you convinced both my father and my older brother of the same thing." She averted her eyes, suddenly shy, "And you flatter me too much, sir; I am not so impressive."

"You are, to me."

Eleanor seemed to have run out of replies—save for a very delicate "I...well...thank you,"—and looked to be finding her sandals very interesting. Sir Hugh, for his part, was not very eloquent anymore, either, both in the serious and in the joking way. Instead, his eyes could not look away from his fianceé—his fianceé!—as they were wont to do most of the time, and his fingers twitched a little, wanting to reach out and tip her chin up so that she would look up at him.

As he carefully crossed the three paces that separated them to do just that, noticing that Eleanor had closed her eyes and was taking slow, measured breaths. For a moment Sir Hugh paused, wondering if his advances would be unwelcome, before deciding to take a safer tactic. He reached out instead for her hand, and lifted it so he could press a warm kiss to her knuckles—he closed his eyes, unable to keep himself from lingering a moment longer than usual. When he opened his eyes again he found Eleanor's eyes closer than he thought they would be, looking up at him from beneath her eyelashes.

All other coherent thought left Sir Hugh's mind then, and, with a smile that mirrored his Eleanor's, he bent forward to meet her lips in a soft kiss.

Suddenly, a loud slam of the door made Sir Hugh jump, and, blinking, quickly regain his bearings—Oh.—It was with a slightly dismayed heart that he recognized that Eleanor was not in the Sheridans' drawing room with him, and that she was not kissing him at the moment. (He took solace in the fact that his daydream was not one from imagination, but was a remembrance of a scene from several months ago.) Instead, she was upstairs with Miss Nicola Sparks, preparing for the Sheridans' visit to Northumberland on the morrow. Sir Hugh would be coming along, as well, since he was not only Eleanor's fiancé and therefore almost part of the family, but was also Nathaniel's friend and will stand up with him as a groomsman on his wedding to Nicola.

It was on Sir Hugh's insistence that Eleanor remain uninformed of his presence for a while. Tomorrow's trip was very important, and the preparations for it need not be hindered by a too early visit. Sir Hugh had arrived more than three quarters of an hour too early for tea, and it was solely because the Sheridans' staff found him amiable that he was able to ask for unlikely favors such as not announcing his arrival.

And since none of the Sheridans knew of Sir Hugh's being in the drawing room, it was understandable that Nathaniel Sheridan should look surprised as he stood by the door.

"You're early," he stated.

"That I am," Sir Hugh replied.

Nathaniel took a moment to blink, obviously trying to deduce the reason for Sir Hugh's unheralded presence.

And then he took a moment more.

And this was how Sir Hugh himself deduced that perhaps something was troubling Nathaniel, because the particularly intelligent eldest Sheridan simply did not take that long to figure things out.

Neither did he typically come into rooms and slamming doors behind him.

With a strained "Eh!" Nathaniel waved a hand dismissively as if he decided to give up his process of deduction, proceeding instead to pace in an agitated manner.

Something was decidedly troubling him, therefore.

"Problem?" Sir Hugh asked jovially—because that was what he did: trying to somehow alleviate the gravity of the situation. Whatever this situation was.

"Yes," Nathaniel said simply, his gait not faltering in the slightest.

Sir Hugh nodded and let Nathaniel complete twenty more laps up and down the room before saying, "Any chance I'll be hearing about this problem before you wear off the carpet?"

Nathaniel promptly stopped and looked up, as if only then realizing how much time had passed and how much pacing he had been doing. Sir Hugh allowed himself to grin at him, because, really, that was what he did whenever Nathaniel began panicking irrationally.

But then, without any preamble, Nathaniel announced, "I'm going to ask her to marry me."

Sir Hugh's eyebrows shot up, grin fading. "What?"

"I don't know why I've put this off for so long," Nathaniel continued, apparently still in the state of mind that usually came with the pacing. "We've all known for quite a while now, but― things have been discussed, of course, and we have had an understanding― that is, I think we have had an understanding― but it isn't quite an understanding if only one of the parties thinks it an understanding, is it?"

"Wait, wait, WHAT?" Sir Hugh demanded, because that was what he did. He was a joker, but he also knew when the situation called for seriousness.

And possibly some yelling, by the looks of it, because, as Nathaniel had predicted once, Sir Hugh had long thought of Nicola Sparks as a sister. Partly because Eleanor, the love of his life, thought of her as a sister; and also because Nathaniel, whom Sir Hugh had always thought as a brother, was in love with her; but mostly because Nicola Sparks, in being Nicola Sparks, somehow felt like a sister to Sir Hugh even though he never truly knew what it was like at all to have a sibling.

Oh, yes. There was definitely going to be yelling.

"You had better tell me that I'm misunderstanding your senseless rambling, Sheridan, because— Miss Sparks might not be my sister by blood, but if you betray her, I swear to God—"

"Betray Nicky?" Nathaniel bristled, finally looking like he was paying attention to what he was saying. "I would never— What are you on about?"

"What are you on about?" Sir Hugh shot back.

Nathaniel, who knew that Sir Hugh did not typically yell at him—or anybody, really—paused for a moment to steady himself before trying to repeat his statements. "I was saying— I was saying I was going to ask Nicky to marry me. How is that betraying her?"

Sir Hugh took a moment to process this and realize with relief that he had misunderstood his friend's muttered words. "Thank God," he breathed as he slumped into the nearest chair. "I thought you were talking about someone else."

"Someone else!" Nathaniel echoed incredulously. "Who else would I ask to marry me?"

"I don't know, someone you're not already engaged to?" Sir Hugh shot back again, but this time he was laughing. "I mean, really, why ask Miss Sparks to marry you when you've already done so?"

Nathaniel visibly stiffened at that, looking away as he answered, "Because I...haven't."

Sir Hugh's laughter died as he sat up straight. Really, but Nathaniel wasn't making sense this afternoon.

"The day after you rescued Miss Sparks from falling to her death at the docks," Sir Hugh recalled, "we were all of us right here in this very room talking about how your wedding should come before Eleanor's because you're the eldest, despite the fact that she was engaged before you. Did we or did we not have that conversation?"

"Indeed we did."

"Then why are we having this one?"

"Because I haven't asked Nicky to marry me," Nathaniel repeated. "I've been wanting to—God knows I've been wanting to for quite a while—but all that kidnapping business happened and I never got to ask. And then after that incident at the docks, everyone just assumed that I had asked for her hand and that she had accepted. Although she never actually objected to the assumption of our engagement, I don't want her to marry me just because it's expected of her. I don't even know who to ask for permission to marry her."

"Didn't you tell her you loved her—and kissed her in public while doing so, might I add!—and didn't she say that she returned the sentiment?"

"Yes, but all of that happened between her and Sebastian Bartholomew, too."

"Whoa, whoa, stop right there!" Sir Hugh stood up again. "That was different. She said so herself: she didn't know him, so she didn't really love him. That's not the case between the two of you. Really, are you doubting Miss Sparks' testimony?"

"No."

"You're an idiot."

"Yes."

Sir Hugh allowed himself (and Nathaniel, really) a laugh. "Look, I propose the idea that you're overanalyzing things because you're nervous about tomorrow: it's an important trip, after all. But if this non-existence of explicit permission for her hand will bother you later, then just settle this once and for all and ask her."

Nathaniel said nothing, his disposition obvious that he was taking Sir Hugh's words into consideration. Also, his posture, which had exuded worry and self-doubt since the moment he entered the drawing room, began to return to his usual one of level-headedness and confidence. Indeed, when Nathaniel grinned, Sir Hugh could see the determination and purposefulness that was usually present in the eldest Sheridan's countenance.

It was at this moment that Eleanor entered the drawing room, having finally been notified about Sir Hugh's presence.

"Ellie," Nathaniel addressed his sister as she went to stand beside her fiancé, "Since one of Nicky's two remaining relatives is in jail, and the other is—well, I don't think Nicky doesn't need the other's permission for anything she does— Would you know who I should talk to to ask for Nicky's hand in marriage?"

"Oh, dear," Eleanor said after a moment's consideration. "I'm afraid I don't quite know. She's always said that Papa's already like a father to her, but he's your father, too, so that hardly seems— Wait, why do you ask?"

"Never mind, I'll figure it out," Nathaniel said, smiling as he turned to leave. "Is Nicky in her room?"

"Yes—Oh, remember to knock, Nathaniel!"

Sir Hugh grinned, relieved to see his friend back to his normal self, complete with the extra spring in his step whenever he was off to do something related to Miss Sparks. The extra spring was more like an extra special one at the moment, but Sir Hugh decided that that was a good recovery from all the pacing that was done earlier. As for Eleanor, she considered the whole exchange with a curiosity.

"What's wrong with my brother?" she asked.

Sir Hugh only shook his head, kissing Eleanor on the cheek.

"Nothing more than usual, love."

Later, after tea was served and had, Sir Hugh was surprised to find that it was him whom Nathaniel asked for permission to marry Miss Sparks.

"Well," a glowing Nicola had reasoned when asked, "I've always felt an older brotherliness about you, Sir Hugh. Plus, you're going to be my brother-in-law soon; we'll truly be brother and sister, in any case. I should like a jovial older brother!"

Sir Hugh laughed. Jovially, of course, because that's what he did.
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