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fic: A Check To Anger

I've been wanting to write a version of this fic since January, but couldn't find the right way in before. It's a sequel to Blaming the Messenger, which I think of as being the other side of the Billiards at the Bedford 'verse. written for the Check challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks, this is for [personal profile] owl_by_night, who encouraged me to write it.

Title: A Check To Anger
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (TV)
Rating: G
Length: 700
Content notes: no warnings apply
Pairing: Grant/Strange pre-slash
Summary: Strange had known the crossing would be rough, but not so rough as this.

Strange had known the crossing would be rough, but not so rough as this. He had expected some awkwardness in being at such close quarters with Grant when he was so angry with him, but it was impossible, he found, to hold to any strong emotion in the face of acute seasickness. The world shrank down to a body in torment as the ship pitched and tossed. He cast up his accounts until he was hollow, shivering and sweating. He was dimly aware of Grant’s presence at his side, of the murmur of his voice, though he could not make out what he was saying, and of the touch of his hand on his back, steadying him as Strange shuddered and heaved. At another time he might have been ashamed to have Grant see him in this state, but the seasickness left no room for shame either.

Towards morning the ship’s motion grew less violent. Strange slumped on the floor of the cabin, exhausted. Grant gave him brandy from his flask, and he drank, grimacing at the sting of it, but grateful to have something to take the foul taste from his mouth. He was light-headed, and his throat ached.

“Water,” he croaked.

Grant went out of the cabin and returned with a stone bottle of water. He would have gulped it down, but Grant stayed his hand, saying “Slowly, or you’ll be sick again.” Strange was too weak to protest, and did as he was told.

Even taken slowly, the water chilled his stomach, and he found he could not stop shaking. Grant, solicitous, draped his greatcoat around his shoulders. Strange wanted to be held, as his mother would have held him after such a fit of sickness, or Bell – His mind shied away from thoughts of Bell; the pain was sharp now, as it had been distant before. But the anger at Grant had dissolved, along with the glass that kept the pain at bay. He could not see him any more as the destroyer of his happiness, only as a present source of the comfort he so badly needed. When Grant put his arms around him, Strange whimpered at the relief of being embraced.

Grant held him until the shaking stopped, talking to him in the soothing tone he would have used to a restive horse. There was no particular sense to it that Strange could make out; he was not even sure it was English, yet the sound of it warmed him. Grant took his handkerchief and wiped Strange’s face, pushing back the damp curls from his brow.

“There,” he said encouragingly, “you look almost like yourself again.”

Strange was not at all sure he would ever be himself again, but he made no reply, only leaned his head against Grant’s shoulder, which seemed to him excellently adapted to the purpose. There was a curious voluptuousness in being cared for, now that the grossness and anguish of the past hours had receded. He sighed and shifted closer, pressing his head against Grant’s chin.

Grant gave an answering sigh and his arm tightened around Strange’s shoulders. There was no trace now of the excitement he had shewn in relaying the news of Napoleon’s return. Perhaps the business of tending to Strange had driven it out of him.

“Poor Merlin, what a night you have had of it,” he said, passing his hand lightly over Strange’s hair. “But it will soon be over, and you will be on dry land again.”

An hour ago, had he been capable of taking in the news, Strange would have rejoiced in it. Now he found, very much to his surprise, that he did not want to be on dry land again. He did not want this quietness of being with Grant to end, not yet. Grant’s fingers moving against his hair made him sigh again, and then shiver a little.

“Are you still cold?” Grant asked, pulling his greatcoat tighter around Strange. There was a careful note in his voice that made warmth start under Strange’s breastbone.

“No,” Strange said, and found he could not say any more. He put his arms around Grant and pressed a kiss against his neck.

Also posted at https://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/231694.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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