Drabble/Oneshot set in 1914. Following my OCs Gwendolyn and Leonardo after the announcement of the First World War.
Amongst the flurry of Londoners was a young woman, a large hat placed on top of her mass of pulled up blonde hair. She struggled against the bodies rushing past her, attempting to get past a rather slow man who's pace matched that of a snail.
Gwendolyn sighed in frustration, not caring if the man heard or not. She'd been stuck behind him dawdling for a good ten or so minutes, and she was at the end of her patience. Sighing, she rolled her eyes and decidedly kept quiet, unable to stop herself from thinking she could have walked faster in her restrictive hobble skirt from nineteen-twelve.
"Happy Birthday, Mr.Grey."
Gwen looked up at the tall blonde haired man before her as she presented the neatly wrapped gift box to him, a smirk playing about her full lips as she referred to him more formally than she needed to.
Leo looked down at Gwen with amusement, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth as usual. He raised an eyebrow, looking pleasantly surprised at the gift before him. He removed the cigarette from his mouth, breathing out the last bit of smoke as he turned to stub it out, raising an eyebrow."Really Gwen, I'm sure you can flirt better than that. But you didn't have to get me anything." Leo smirked back at her as she went a little pink, taking the box carefully and beginning to unwrap it.
Gwen blushed a little, fully aware of just how feeble her 'flirting' was, and she wasn't even sure that was what she was trying to do. “Just open your present, will you?"Leo looked down into the box once he had removed the paper, his smirk settling into a gentler smile when he realised what Gwen had bought for him – a smart looking pipe, set in a velvet bed. It was made of wood and had been polished, and a metal ring circled it, inscribed with the name of the manufacturer.
"Well, thank you Gwen.” Leo looked up at her again, smiling still as he closed the box, putting it down carefully. “Though I thought you didn't like my smoking? Now you're just encouraging it."
Gwen huffed a little in response, her smirk fading from her features. "Well I can't make you stop. But I suppose since it is your thirty-second birthday, I thought it could make you look a little more refined, in your old age." She grinned at him, removing her hat from her head carefully, revealing the mass of blonde hair that was piled on top of her head, in the typical fashionable style.
Leo huffed in response, feigning offence at the idea of being old. "Old? I'm not old. If I was old then you wouldn't be with me now, would you?" He gestured for Gwen to sit, and he followed suit.
The sitting room was a rather charming room in Gwen's opinion. It was large enough, the walls were adorned with paintings of landscapes, the curtains swept neatly to either side of the Georgian style windows, of which a light lace veil hung in front of. Three plush arm chairs were placed before the large fire, which had provided cosy warmth during the cold winter months. Atop the mantle piece were mostly framed black and white photographs of family members, as well as ornaments depicting characters in Georgian fashion. The room was not done to Leo's taste, but his Mother's. She was a bossy woman who seemed to try to replicate the life of the aristocracy as much as possible, and apparently had a liking for anything Georgian. Gwen sat quietly in one of the chairs, sitting up straight, looking to Leo again with a somewhat more serious expression. "I suppose your birthday has been overshadowed somewhat?" she asked, referring to the outbreak of war and so knowing the answer already, and ignoring his question. Leo nodded, shrugging a little and not looking particularly bothered about it. His expression no longer held a smile, and he looked down at his hands, no longer meeting Gwen's blue eyed gaze.
"...I'm going to enlist tomorrow." he announced after a moment of awkward silence, meeting her gaze once more, trying to figure out how she was feeling about it. Gwen stared at him, not entirely sure how she could respond. Her stomach had sank as soon as he told her he would be signing up, and she clutched at her purse a little tighter. She didn't want him to leave, but she supposed that he didn't want to leave either. What else could she do but support him in his choice? "...Of course." she replied quietly, looking away from Leo's grey-blue eyes. "I thought you would be."
Leo nodded a little, before he moved forwards in his chair, reaching to take a hold of Gwen's hands, to which she co-operated and held his in return.
"Listen, Gwen..I've been thinking...we've been seeing each other for a while, now. If it weren't for this war breaking out, I'd have proposed sooner rather than later. But this war could change everything. So I thought, why couldn't we get married before I go?" he stared at her hard, holding her hands gently as he rubbed his thumb against the back of her hand lightly, meaning every word. Gwen stared at him, looking completely taken back. She blinked, trying to grasp what he had said to her, feeling uncertain. She drew back a little, biting her lip. Gwen didn't like what he was saying, it made her feel uneasy. Almost as if he wasn't planning on coming home."...I...I don't see the hurry." Gwen replied hesitantly, watching his face closely. "They're saying this war will be over by Christmas, Leo. You'll be fine, you needn't act as if you're on your deathbed."
The blonde haired man shook his head, frowning a little and looking a little impatient, but held onto her hands still.
"Don't be so naïve, Gwen. You're smarter than that. This war could last for much longer and stretch far after Christmas. Nothing is certain. I might not come back. Don't look at me like that, there's no point trying to sugar coat this. If we were to marry, you'd be properly informed about everything that went on, and if anything were to happen to me, you'd be looked after. I know you have your Father but I want to do this for you. And it would help me a great deal if I could go into this war knowing that we spent our time together properly. But I won't force you into it, it's completely your choice."
Gwen held onto his hands a little tighter, shaking her head a little as her eyes started to well up with tears, growing more and more worried.
"You're scaring me, Leo. I couldn't bear it if anything did happen to you, and you're speaking almost as if it already has!" She shook her head again, letting go of his hands to hold onto his face gently, stroking a few stray hairs back from his face. Leo stared at Gwen quietly as she held onto his face, raising one hand to place over hers, looking just as upset as she did, and he was beginning to regret putting her into such a difficult position. He sighed, rising from his chair and wrapped his arms around Gwen tightly, pulling her into a hug as he placed a soft kiss against her cheek, holding her close to himself."I'm sorry, Gwen." He murmured into her hair quietly, holding her tightly. "That was selfish of me."
Gwen hugged him back tightly, gripping at his jacket at the back, closing her eyes as she tried to stop herself from crying. "I just don't want anything to happen to you..."