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fic: A Strange Party

Title: A Strange Party
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (TV)
Length: 635
Characters/Pairings: Arabella, Grant/Jonathan
Rating: PG-13
Content notes: mentions of religious bigotry and homophobia
Author note: written for the Party challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks, this is part of You Can Be Had: Extras; thanks to etave, theicescholar and Owl-by-Night for their encouragement with this one and for conversations about party food. I am sorry there is not more food in this fic...
Summary: If you'd told Bell six months ago that she'd be at a party in Jonathan Strange's flat of her own free will, she'd have laughed in your face.

If you’d told Bell six months ago that she’d be at a party in Jonathan Strange’s flat of her own free will, she’d have laughed in your face. But here she is, joining in a chorus of Happy Birthday To You, even though Grant’s birthday was actually last week, with a bunch of people she hardly knows. Friends of Grant’s from the Menier, some of Jonathan’s friends from the club, and there in the middle of it all Colley, pleased and slightly embarrassed, with Jonathan’s arm around his waist, looking ridiculously domestic.

They haven’t said that’s what the party’s really for, but she’s pretty sure it is: Colley finally moving in, after months of living in the shared house with her and Paul and Sasha. She’ll miss having him around; it’s been a good time in spite of the battles she’s had with the Mission about giving him a roof over his head. Would they really have preferred to see him on the streets?

Bell’s used to standing up for what she believes in, but she never expected to end up fighting people she used to think were on the same side as her, about something as fundamental as the meaning of Christian charity. Now Grant’s moved out, she’s getting a lot of soapy forgiveness from Brother Abernathy about the Mission’s willingness to overlook this unfortunate episode. It’s even more intolerable than the finger-wagging lectures about consorting with outcasts and apostates, or the warnings, touch not pitch lest ye be defiled. She’s never been so close to telling a colleague to fuck off, though what she’d actually said was that as far as she was concerned she hadn’t done anything wrong, and she’d do it again tomorrow if she had to.

When she’d first found the Mission, it felt as if all her prayers had been answered, as if the world finally made sense. She’d found her cause and her army. Now it feels increasingly like a straitjacket or a prison, because she can’t see the world their way any more. She can’t see Grant the way they see him, as someone to be shunned because he refuses to abandon the life that he’s chosen, or as a deluded victim of the Evil One’s wiles. He’s not just happy; he’s more himself than she’s ever known him. It’s as if he’d been covered in some sort of dull gauze, and it’s melted away, so that all the colours of his being stand out strong and clear.

The kitchen timer goes off, and Colley detaches himself from Jonathan’s embrace, diving into the kitchen to get his cheese and herb biscuits out of the oven to cool. Benefits of living with a Bake-Off fan, Bell thinks, and grins. Jonathan’s a lucky man, but at least he seems to know that.

She can’t see Jonathan in the same way she used to either. They’ll probably never be best friends, but it’s gone way past the grudging mutual respect and toleration of those first months, as they both tried to support Colley through the fallout of leaving the Mission. He’d had so much to deal with - coming out, the troubles with his mother, finding a new job, making a new life. It astonished her that Jonathan was capable of caring for anyone but himself, but she’d watched him learn how to care for Grant, through all the mistakes and stumbles to what they have now, a bond as strong and good as any she’s known. Like the old words of the marriage service say: the mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.

That’s something worth celebrating, even if the Mission can’t see it. She raises her glass to Colley as he comes back from the kitchen and pulls Jonathan into a hug.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/220423.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2017 03:49 am (UTC)
Aww, I love this! I'm glad that Bella is in a place where she can be happy for Grant. And tolerate Jonathan. ::grins::

But the best part is that she can see how happy Grant is, how much more himself he is now, and that's so wonderful. I love that she's standing up to her superiors in her support of Grant, and that she's not quite as ready to buy the company line anymore.

Just beautiful!
Feb. 13th, 2017 06:59 pm (UTC)
*glows* thank you! It was important to me to weite this part and I'm very glad you liked it. <3
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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