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tanyareed in fraser_thatcher

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Chapter 3

Title: Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
Pairing: Fraser/Thatcher
Rating: PG
Summary: Sometimes two souls are fated to be together.
Notes: I'm posting this one for Magsy. She'll know why. This story takes place between Seeing is Believing and Perfect Strangers. It's also the first Due South story I ever wrote, way back in 1999.
Disclaimer: Characters, setting, show: Not mine. Never mine. Never will be mine.



September 19, 0603

Margaret stared gloomily out of the carriage window. She didn't care if the scenery was beautiful and that she had left all that was familiar to her over an hour before. The clomping of the horses' hooves should have been soothing, but it wasn't. Instead, they seemed like some big gong, tolling out the last minutes of her life.

Margaret's life was over.

Angrily, she dashed away the tears that came to her eyes with a dainty white knuckle.

"You will not break down," she muttered darkly. "You will meet this with strength and pride. You will look on his face and not shudder. You will pretend that you do not know that this man bought you for a brood mare."

Gritting her teeth, she stared out at the sky defiantly, as if it had been the one who traded her away like a sack of potatoes, and not her own father. How she hated him at this moment.

Being angry helped the fear.

Margaret caught that thought going through her mind and grabbed it. Carefully, she examined it from all sides. Was she afraid? Yes, she was terrified. It was a new feeling for her; she prided herself on being able to handle any situation. But this...Thinking of what was waiting for her at the end of this ride made her heart pound loudly in her chest. This was barbaric. What had possessed her father to get together with some old crone and decide that Margaret should marry her son?

It wouldn't be so bad if she had met the man before, but no. Her father had met his mother at some party thing, and they had hit it off. After two hours of talking, Margaret was engaged--and she wasn't even there.

Anger burned in her and she let it. Maybe it would completely consume the fear. What did she know about this man--this Benton that she didn't even know the last name of? Was he young? Probably not. It was the old ones who were always shopping for a wife, the ones who couldn't find one for some reason when they were young.

Well, Margaret thought charitably, there were worse things than being old. Her thoughts went to her friend Mary. She had been married less than two years and had two children. Where she had once been plump with laughing eyes, she now was pale and thin. The only emotion in her eyes was a bone weary tiredness that tore at Margaret's heart--and then there were the bruises. She shuddered. Would Benton be like that? Cruel and brutal? Would she have to wear long sleeved dresses with unusually high collars?

There was old and there was cruel, but there was also isolated. What if she married a man who ignored her except when he wanted to...wanted to...She repressed another shudder.

Yes, truly, her life was over.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the jarring of the carriage as it slowed down. Margaret knew what expression she had on her face, so she took a couple of deep breaths and smoothed her features. Slowly, every sign of the feelings inside her chest had disappeared. By the time the carriage stopped and the door opened, she had an air of elegant calm.

On the other side of the door was a young man, not much older than Margaret herself. Dressed in working clothes, he had a face that could make women faint. Even Margaret felt herself warm enough to flush slightly. He smiled up at her, his eyes a deep, clear blue. She saw kindness in those eyes. Immediately, she trusted him.

"Margaret?" he asked softly, his voice like no man's voice she had ever heard.

"Yes," she replied, taking his hand and allowing him to help her down. His hand was warm and caused a pleasant tingle in her skin.

He let go of her hand to watch the driver steer the team into the barn, then turned to her once more.

"Did you have a pleasant journey, ma'am?"

Margaret felt herself smile at him. A rebellious thought ran through her head. If my future husband keeps this man around, it might not be as bad here as I thought. She squelched it, but not the positive thought that this man would never hit a woman.

"Yes, quite, thank you."

"I'm glad," he answered, studying her face.

She found herself blurting, "I lied."

Amusement tinged the blueness of his eyes. "Was the driver a little rough then?"

"No. No. He was fine." Margaret dismissed this with a wave of her hand.

"May I walk you to the main house?" At her nod, they began walking and he continued, "Then what was the problem?"

It was her turn to search his face. There was something about him that she trusted, an open honesty that she had never seen before.

"You won't tell?"

He gave a slight shake of his head. "Of course not."

She believed him. "I'm a little...um...nervous about meeting...well, you know, him. What's he like?"

A puzzled look went over the servant's face. "By him, you mean...?"

"The man of the house."

"Ah."

She waited for a moment and, when he did not answer, she prodded, "Well?"

"He's average looking...tries to do what's best....loves his mother...not very good with women most of the time, though. Rather shy when they..." He coughed, "...assert themselves."

"You like him?"

"Well, I'd have to say yes, most of the time."

Margaret breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm so glad. I was afraid he'd be horrible. No offense."

"None taken. But if you felt this way, why did you agree to marry him, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Well," She knew that it was none of his business, and that she should not speak of it, but her only friend had been Mary. With her gone, Margaret had had no one to tell her fears to. Making a decision, she continued, "I didn't have a choice. My father made the decision."

He drew his brows together in a frown--a rather endearing frown, she noted, "And you just went along with it?"

She snorted. "Are you kidding? I told him..." She stopped. She could not tell this man the things she had said, they were definitely not things she wanted people, him especially, to know had come from her mouth. "...I told him that it wasn't right not to consult me." Then she shrugged. "But he's my father. What could I do?"

"I know...um...Benton agreed to this because..." He cleared his throat, looking away from her, "...because his mother asked. She is not well and wants to see him settled before she dies. I'm sure if he would have known..."

"You think he would have cared about what I thought when my own father didn't?"

"Yes."

Margaret stopped walking and put her hand on his arm. It was firm and browned from being in the sun. "You know, I never even asked your name."

When he faced her, his cheeks and neck started to flush. She read an apology in his eyes.

"My name is Benton."

Shock made Margaret completely freeze for a moment. After that, she wanted to turn and run. In horror, she ripped her hand from his arm.

"What? Why didn't you tell me?"

"I'm sorry. I thought you knew."

She turned her back to him, rubbing her forehead. "Do you think I would have said those things if I knew?"

"By the time I figured out you didn't, it was too late. Please forgive me, Meggie. I'll send you home if you want. I didn't know you hated the idea of marrying me."

He took her shoulders in his hands and made her face him. She didn't put up a struggle, as something he had said took her breath.

"What did you call me?"

"Meggie? I'm sorry. It just...it just came out."

"Stop apologizing," she ordered, then softened at his hurt look. "My mother used to call me Meggie. She and my newborn sister died when I was seven. Nobody's called me that since."

"I won't call you that again."

She bit her lip and something made her say, "But I want you to."

The sad look on his face began to brighten a little. "You do?"

"Yes." She was sure now. Sure of everything. She had met her dragon and he turned out to have soft teeth. "And Benton, please don't make me go back."

"What?" His eyes widened.

"My father...my father, he doesn't love me, and I think...I think..." She felt herself blushing.

"You think what?"

"I think that I could love you."

"You do? But what about..."

His voice trailed off as she leaned forward and took him in her arms. Strength radiated from him, strength of body and strength of character. Margaret knew that in him she had found a rare, precious thing, and she wasn't letting go.

"I am going to love you."
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