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fic: Help and Comfort

Title: Help and Comfort
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (TV)
Length: c. 800 words
A/N: part of You Can Be Had: Extras, and follows on from Dogs and Sorcerers; thanks to Owl for encouraging me to write this chapter.
Summary: Jonathan makes a trip to Inverness






Grant looks thinner, tired and strained, which isn’t surprising but still makes Jonathan’s chest hurt.

“It’s good to see you,” he says, hugging Jonathan as if he’s been gone a month or more instead of ten days.

“You too,” Jonathan says, hugging him tightly back.

“Come on,” Grant says, “ I’ll take you to Leakey’s.”

“Wherever you like,” Jonathan says, pulling his scarf tighter around him.

Whatever Leakey’s is, it has to be warmer than Inverness bus station. He knew it would be cold up here, but the sharpness of the air still takes him by surprise.

“This was the Gaelic church,” Grant says, when they get there. “They used it as a hospital after Culloden, and Cumberland’s troops took the wounded outside and shot them against the wall.”

“Christ,” Jonathan says. Everywhere you go in the Highlands it seems there’s some grisly piece of history waiting to ambush you.

“It’s a bookshop now,” Grant says, “best bookshop in Scotland. We used to get the bus over on Saturdays and hang out in the café…”

He trails off, dismayed, looking up at the bookshelves and a scattering of plush armchairs on the mezzanine. No sign of a café anywhere here, though at least the place is warm, with that log fire blazing away in the middle of it.

“Oh,” Grant says. “Sorry – it’s – I should have checked.”

“Don’t be daft,” says Jonathan. “It’s fine. We can come back later and have a browse. Let’s go and see if they know somewhere good round here to eat. I’m starving.”

It’s true that he’s hungry after the journey, but also Grant definitely needs feeding up. He’s too quiet and subdued for Jonathan’s liking. He’d half expected Grant to protest that he didn’t need to come up, that he’d be back soon, that he didn’t need rescuing, but all he’d said to Jonathan’s text about the journey was to ask when he’d arrive, and tell him the time of the bus in from Forres.

The young woman at the till directs them back to a café near the bus station, plainer and simpler than its fancy signage suggests. It’s clean and welcoming, and Grant begins to look a bit more like himself over smoked fish soup and a cheese scone.

“Come back with me,” Jonathan urges, stroking Grant’s hand. “We can get the sleeper tonight and wake up in London. I’m sure your friend could send your things on.”

There’s nothing to stay for here, he wants to say but doesn’t. Grant already knows that the hard way, and he doesn’t want to push him.

Grant’s silent for a long time, and then he says “OK.”

“OK?”

“I’ll come back with you.”

He looks so weary and defeated that Jonathan can hardly bear it. It’s just as well he’s unlikely ever to meet Grant’s mother, because the temptation to shake her and yell at her would be overpowering. No point saying that, though. Instead, he squeezes Grant’s hand and says “Thank you.”

“I missed you so much,” Grant says, in a burst.

“Me too,” says Jonathan. “Let’s get out of here and sort out the tickets, and then walk for a bit.”

It’s even colder by the river, but at least they can stop and kiss now and then. Grant calls his old school friend, Dougal, who offers to drop his stuff at Inverness Station for him. He seems nice enough, and gives Jonathan a hearty, slightly awkward handshake that turns into a hug. They sit and drink in the sleeper lounge until it’s time to go aboard, saying very little. It feels like the aftermath of a battle. Jonathan supposes it is, in a way.

“Lie down with me,” he says, as the train pulls out of the station, and Grant does.

It’s not exactly North by Northwest or Murder on the Orient Express in terms of comfort, and they’re keeping everything but their shoes and coats on, but he doesn’t care. He holds Grant and strokes his back, and kisses him until he stops shaking. It’s all right, he wants to say; but he knows it isn’t, and may not be for a long time yet.

They talk a little as the lights of stations flash past outside the window, about what lies ahead: about Grant’s need to find a new job, and a place to live. He’s agreed to stay a few nights at Jonathan’s, but he’s adamant that’s all he’ll do for now, and Jonathan doesn’t argue. Maybe he’ll change his mind, maybe he won’t. At least they’ll be together for a little while, and Grant can begin to recover.

Grant falls asleep eventually in his arms, and Jonathan lies awake, listening to the small sounds of his breathing and the noise of the train as they travel on south through the night.




Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/219998.html with comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
brumeier
Jan. 31st, 2017 02:10 pm (UTC)
::sniffles::

This is so sweet. I love that Jonathan takes care of Grant without pushing, or showing how angry he is about what's happened. That's just what Grant needs, a reminder that he is loved.

::more sniffles::
fengirl88
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:52 pm (UTC)
thank you - I needed to write this one! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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