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fic: Loss and Change

Title: Loss and Change
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (TV)
Length: ~850
Rating: PG
Content notes: no warnings apply
Characters: Arabella Woodhope, Colquhoun Grant
Author note: Written for the New challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks; part of You Can Be Had: Extras, and takes place shortly after chapter 8 of You Can Be Had
Summary: Grant's new life brings change for Arabella too.

Grant’s never late for his shift at the Mission, no matter how bad the traffic is. By half-past ten on the second of January, Bell’s close to ringing A&E, convinced something must have happened to him, when he finally turns up, dishevelled, apologetic and still in yesterday’s clothes.


“Sorry,” he says. “I didn’t have time to go home for my uniform.”

His hair is tousled, as if he’s just got out of bed, which seems more than likely, and there’s a red mark on his neck that shows above the line of his t-shirt. No need to ask where he’s been for the last twenty-four hours, or what he’s been doing. If you’d asked her to guess how she’d feel, seeing him like that, she’d have said it would disgust her, but what she actually feels is fury. Oh, Colley, you fool. You fool.

“I’m leaving the Mission,” he says, sounding half-dazed, as if he can’t quite take it in.

Of course he is. It needed only that to put the finishing touch to a horrible morning. The Mission doesn’t encourage particular friendships – a policy that sits oddly with the rule that officers can only marry other officers – and most of the time you’re moved around too much to get close to anyone. But the thought of coming in here every day and not seeing Grant’s friendly face, not being able to talk to him about the latest issues with the drop-in clients or grumble about social services, is a sudden sharp pain under her ribs. She turns away to put the kettle on, not trusting herself to look at him.

“Does Brother Abernathy know you’re going?” she asks coldly.

“Not yet,” he says. “I wanted to tell you first. I’ll miss you.”

It’s as much as she can do to keep from slapping him. He’s throwing his whole life away, and for what? So he can be Jonathan’s latest toy, played with till he gets broken or Jonathan gets bored and moves on to something shiny and new. Which he’s bound to do, sooner or later; she knows what he’s like.


She turns round reluctantly, and sees what she didn’t see at first: a stillness and a certainty in Grant, tired and dishevelled as he is. He looks resolute, but also quietly happy, as happy as she’s ever seen him.

“Where will you go?” she says. “What will you do?”

“My rent’s paid till the end of the month,” he says. “I’ll find somewhere. I’ve saved a bit – not much, but it’ll tide me over. I need to go up to Scotland and see my mother.”

He falls silent, and she doesn’t have to ask what he’s thinking; General Jean Grant is something of a legend, though Bell’s never met her in person. She’s retired now, but still keeps her finger on the pulse of Mission affairs; Colley’s going to have to move fast once he resigns if he wants to tell her the news himself. It takes Bell a moment to catch up with the other implications of what he’s saying.

“You’re not moving in with him then?”

He flinches a little at the edge in her voice, but says steadily, “It’s a bit soon to be talking about that.”

How he can sound so calm and sensible when he’s doing something so stupid and reckless is beyond her.

“I know you don’t like him, Bell, but he’s better than you think he is. And I have thought about this, I promise.”

“Oh, Colley!” She hugs him, half in exasperation, and he hugs her back. They haven’t done this before, and to do it now, when he’s leaving, is almost more than she can bear.

“I don’t want you to go,” she says, knowing that it’s pointless, that she sounds like a child.

“I have to, Bell,” he says, disengaging himself gently from her arms. “I can’t stay here now. They’ll throw me out anyway once they know, and I’m not going to lie about it. At least this way I get to choose how I go.”

“Write to me?” She didn’t know she was going to say it till the words were out of her mouth, but she’s not letting him go that easily.

“Thank you – I’d like that,” he says, with a catch in his voice that makes her want to hug him again. There’s some comfort in knowing they’ll still be in touch, whatever his new life holds.

“Wish me luck,” Grant says, and shoves his hands through his hair.

“Good luck,” she says. He’ll need it.

“I’d better go and see Brother Abernathy now.” He looks like a man about to go into battle, bracing himself for what lies ahead.

“Have some tea first,” she says, pushing the sugar towards him in case he needs fortifying.

Why that simple gesture should make him wince is a mystery she probably doesn’t want to know the answer to. The Bible says you have to forgive seventy times seven, but she’s going to have a hard job forgiving Jonathan Strange for any of this.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/218784.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2017 02:52 pm (UTC)
Love Bella's POV here. How angry she is at Grant, how sad she is that he's leaving. That she thinks Jonathan is going to get tired of Grant and leave him for someone new. That's a lot of emotion to deal with.

But I love how steadfast Grant is. Understandably feeling the loss of his position, which he clearly loved but will no longer be permitted to keep because of where his heart lies.

Great entry into the series!
Jan. 11th, 2017 08:09 pm (UTC)
thank you - very glad you liked it! I feel sorry for Bell, but it's a necessary stage on the way to better things, for her as well as for Grant.

the Clan Grant motto is Stand Fast, so Grant's steadfastness tends to be a feature. *grins*

Edited at 2017-01-11 08:09 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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