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It's a Fine Life

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Nancy grew up in the heart of London in the late 1810's to a well to do family, the daughter of Adelaide and Sebastian Black. She was their oldest daughter with a little sister named Elizabeth. Nancy and Elizabeth were given the world and then some, pretty dresses, toys of all sorts, food on the table cooked for a king, and most important, they had two parents who loved them more than anything.

There was something special about their little family though, they were born into magic. While they tried to keep it away from the public, the girls parents were found and tried as witches when Nancy was just five and Bet was only three. The girls had to watch as their parents were burned at the stake in front of all the public.

“Mommy!” Nancy cried out, he screams could be heard over all of the London crowd. “Daddy! Mommy! No!” she fought the official that was holding her to watch the execution. Kicking and hitting him, she even bit him at one point which caused him to finally let go of her and she ran up to where her parents were.

She only got close enough to her parents that she could see the tears in their eyes and as the flames were lit, the red and orange flames illuminated her own eyes. She watched as they just vanished, but as they did, she heard her mother whisper, only for her to hear “We love you baby.” followed by her father saying “We will be back for you, we promise.”

It was enough to make her stop. She knew that her parents were smart, but she didn’t believe them, but then again, they were gone and there was nothing to fight for now. The little five year old dropped down to the grown, her beautiful, clean pink dress was covered in the slums of the London streets, her face red from crying so much, and she just sat there as the rest of the town all left to go back to their lives, as though nothing had happened, as though two little children hadn’t just watched their own parents die.

All of the Black’s possessions and their belongings were taken by the state and Nancy and Elizabeth were both sent to baby farmers and seperated. The only thing that the girls were able to keep were enchanted, Bet had a gold locket with a moonstone on the front of it, and Nancy had a ring that hung around her neck with the same moonstone. Their parents enchanted them when each was nothing more than an infant, an enchantment that would protect them and keep them safe. Now, there was only so much that the enchantment could do to keep them safe, and no matter how strong it was, the Black girls lives were about to change. 


 

Life at the baby farm wasn’t too bad for Nancy, she definitely got lucky and the woman that she was placed with was a rather sweet woman. She fell in love with the little ginger girl, a girl who she couldn’t help but feel pity for, an innocence. She would hold her and tell her wonderful stories, fairytales of magical places. She would sing songs to her and play games with her. This couldn’t last forever though, the kids were only kept in baby farms until they were six years old, and after that, it was to the workhouse for them. The woman would have loved to adopt the little girl, but that wasn’t an option. Nancy was the property of the church now, and she was finally old enough to work for them, so she was sent to the workhouse as a seamstress.

Nancy would prick and poke, her fingers calloused from the work that she did. The work didn’t bother the girl, it was the treatment at the workhouse that she didn’t like. She was fed bread and cheese and grool everyday, and was given a small helping of meat only on Sundays. Her stomach hurt at first, but soon she didn’t notice the pain of hunger anymore. Nancy had a tendency to get in trouble often though, due to all the energy that she had pent up inside, and she couldn’t help but try to find something to do with that energy. Often, the young six year old would get a lashing or go to bed without food, or both.

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After a year of this, seven year old Nancy had had enough of this torture and she ran away. With nowhere to go, the young girl found an abandoned building in the city where she hid out, she would jump from place to place, keeping herself hid as best as she could. With her bright red hair, she stood out amongst a crowd, and that was the last thing that she wanted.

The church had stopped looking for her after a week though, it was winter and they were sure that the young girl must have been dead or close to it, and at that point there was no benefit in trying to save her and nurse her back to health.

About a week and a half after taking off from the workhouse, Nancy had finally stayed put in a single spot, a rundown, abandoned home. The air had dropped to a much colder temperature too, and after being out on the streets for so long with nothing but the clothes on her back and the ring around her neck, Nancy was cold, hungry and sick -- very, very sick.

It was a lucky day though when a young chap not too much older than her came to house where she was hiding at, Bill Sikes.

“What you doin’ in ‘ere all by yourself?” Bill asked the young girl. Nancy was shivering under the hay and the scraps of cloth that was left behind and her cough was rough and very sickly. “When’s the last time ya ate, eh?” Bill walked towards the girl who still didn’t answer, she cowarded a bit in her corner as he got closer. “I ain’t gonna hurt ya girl, what’s your name?”

Nancy finally looked up at the boy, finally getting a good look at his face. His eyes were tough and a bit scary, but his demeanor was soft and honest. “I’m Nancy.” she said quietly.

“What’s got you out here by yourself, eh? A young girl like you, this city isn’t safe for the likes of ya.” Bill said, taking a seat next to Nancy, taking off his jacket and wrapping it around the redhead. “I’m Bill by the way, Bill Sikes.”

Nancy held the jacket around her tight, and Bill, getting a good look at her, noticed that her face was extremely pale, she had no meat on her bones, and her lips seemed to just barely be turning blue.

“I ran away.” Nancy said before coughing again. She sounded of death, and Bill knew that she was going to need help if she was going to make it.

“From the beak?” he asked.

“No, the church.” Nancy talked quite proper compared to Bill, but she barely even noticed the difference, and quite frankly, she didn’t care. Bill was the kindest soul that she had come across since leaving the baby farm.

“Well, if you come wiv me, I got a place you can stay at. It’s nothink fancy, but there’s a fire to keep ya warm and food to eat. Fagin, the man who takes care of us, he could put you to work so you could stay there.” Bill wanted nothing more than to help the girl in front of him.

“I’m a great seamstress, that’s what they made me do at the workhouse.” Nancy wasn’t feeling any better, but if you were sitting there listening to her cheer up, you would think that there was a miracle about to help in front of your eyes.

“A seamstress would come in handy indeed, but there’s more to it then jus’ that.” Bill wrapped his arm around the girl, hoping that sharing his body heat with her would help fight the cold that she had been fighting ever since winter had begun. “I’m not goin’ to lie to ya, Nancy, are work is a bit more tedious than that. We pickpockets and then sell the goods to pay for things like food and clothes.”

“I’d do anything to have a place to sleep at night.” Nancy said.

And with those words, Bill helped Nancy up off the ground and led her to Fagin’s hideout.

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The house where Bill stayed with Fagin was a run down building that was off from the main roads, the walls were rotting and the stairs up to the door were lose and creaking with every step. Nancy had a hard time walking up those steps, and Bill took it upon himself to lift her up and carry her himself.

Inside there were about twelve boys, doing all sorts of things, from fighting, playing games, eating whatever they could get their hands on without Fagin yelling at him, and he seemed to do a lot of that from where Nancy was standing. It made her smile though, seeing kids being kids in a home, while nothing special, where they had food to eat and smiles on their faces. It was something that she hadn’t seen for quite some time.

Bill introduced Nancy to Fagin and the boys at the house, all ranging from about five into their late teens. There were no other girls there though, and Nancy could tell that the gentleman who seemed to run the home, Fagin, didn’t seem too fond of the idea of a girl living in the house with them. She could overhear him and Bill speaking as she sat at the table.

“What made you think it was a good idea to bring a girl ‘ere, eh?” Fagin asked as he also smacked Bill upside the back of his head. “What good is a li’l girl gonna do me? It’s jus’ another mouth to feed!”

“She needed a place to stay, what of it?” Bill replied. While he didn’t do anything about the man smacking him around, he also didn’t hesitate to stand up to him, speaking his mind. “What, would you ‘ave it she died out there in the cold?”

Fagin finally took a good hard look at Nancy. “No...no, I s'pose I couldn’t be havin’ that, no, no.” Fagin said as he thought about some way that Nancy could help contribute to the home.

“She can’t work yet, she’s too ill, but she already agreed that she would do whatev’r job ya give her, Fagin.” Bill chimed in as he realised that Fagin was trying to spin some wheels in his head, some ideas of what the young girl could do that none of the boys could.

Fagin walked over to Nancy, still sitting quietly at the table, shooing the boys away who were swarming around her. “What’s your name, li’l one?” Fagin asked the red head. “Ain’t no one looking for you are they?”

Nancy coughed as she stared up at the man in front of her. He was intimidating indeed, but at the same time, his eyes were soft. “Nancy, Sir.” she said in between her coughs. It was evident that she wasn’t well. “I ran away from the workhouse over a week ago. They ought to think I’m dead by now, Sir.”

“Good, good…” Fagin trailed off slightly as he continued to think. “So, Bill says that you know what we do ‘ere, do ya?”

“Yes, sir.” Nancy replied simply.

“And ya don’t mind doin’ it with them, do ya?” Fagin asked again.

“No, sir.” she said. “I’ll do anything I have to, sir.”

“Yes, yes indeed…” Fagin trailed off again.

Bill walked over and took a seat next to Nancy, setting down a hot skillet of sausages in front of her. “Eat up,” he said, “You’ll need to if ya plan on gettin’ betta.” Bill waited for Nancy to take her first bite of sausage before directing himself to Fagin. “Ya know, Fagin, who would ev’r expect a young, innocent, li’l girl to be a pickpocket out on the harsh streets of London, eh?” he asked. “I’ll snatch her a lovely, proper gown, and she can come out with me an’ the boys and distract the people for us, even snatch a thing or two ‘erself. Ain’t no one gonna know the betta.”

Fagin’s eyes lit up, but never once did he take them off of Nancy herself. “Yes, yes, Nancy…” he said, “Would you like that, Nancy? A working girl with a pretty gown.”

Nancy didn’t say anything as her mouth was full and she was starved, but she enthusiastically nodded her head yes. This was the first time since her parents were killed that she felt like she may have found a home, a real home, and she didn’t care what that meant.

“That settles it then, my dear Nancy.” Fagin said as he finally got up from the table. “You lot!” he yelled at the boys in the house, “Time for you all to get to work! Pockets won’t pick themselves.” Fagin let out a small chuckle. “And you, Nance, you’re going to need your health if you plan on working for me. Soon as you’re done eating, Bill’ll have you a bed set up to get some rest.”

Nancy smiled bigger than she had in over a years time. She watched as the boys filed out of the house, one by one, and Bill gave her a soft smile himself, before going off to the other room.


 

 

It took Nancy about two weeks to fully heal, but while she was unable to go out to work, Fagin had put her to work on the handkerchiefs, taking out the stitchings and stitching in their own signs of ownership, in order to be able to sell them without suspicion. The girl was also quite good at keeping the house clean, and while she couldn’t be too rough while she was healing, she was showing quick that she could fit in with the boys anyday.

Bill had set up her bed right next to his, which was also away from the others, and they would stay up late at night talking. Nancy had never been happier than she was here with Bill and Fagin. Now it was time for her to work outside of the house, and Bill finally revealed to her the gown that he was able to get his hands on. It was a beautiful purple gown with ruffles on the sleeves and on the bottom of the dress, black, lace trim, a big black bow that tied above her buttocks, and it came with a beautiful bonnet that matched to hide her face from the sun. Bill had also been able to snatch her a pair of white stockings and proper black, buckle shoes.

“If you’re goin’ to play the part, you gotta look the part.” Bill told Nancy after she put on her stockings and shoes, and he helped her pull her dress over her head. He had already helped with braiding her hair into two long, red braids that fell directly next to each other on her back. “You look absolutely lovely Nancy, jus’ like a proper young woman ya do.” Bill would be lying if he didn’t he said that he wasn’t starting to have feelings for Nancy. She was younger, but only by three years, and in their day and age, that was actually quite normal, and much more closer in age then some relationships. The only problem was that they were both still young.

Nancy wasn’t all that innocent though, Bill literally saved her life when he found her that day in that house, and Nancy was starting to fall in love with the young man that was helping her get ready for her first day on the job. She didn’t say anything to his compliment, but her cheeks got extremely red as she blushed and looked away.

After staring at the young girl for a moment, Bill walked over to his bed and pulled out a golden hair comb that he had hidden under his bed before walking back over to Nancy. He gently placed it on the side of her head. “A beautiful girl deserves a beautiful piece of jewels,” he said, “You jus’ gotta promise not to tell anyone. Fagin won’t be happy to know that I didn’t ‘and it over when I got it.” Bill stepped back from Nancy, taking in the whole picture of the girl standing in front of her, a young lady for sure. “‘Ere,” he grabbed the bonnet and tied it around her head, but as he did, Nancy took that moment to lean in and give him a gentle kiss on the cheek before pulling away, embarrassed, attempting to walk away from him.

Bill grabbed her by the wrist to stop her though, pulling her back towards her gently and giving her a very quick peck on the mouth. “You’re gonna do great today, Nance.” he said before leading her out of the house and into the city.

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The streets were packed full, and as Nancy had been locked up in the house for so long after hiding out of sight, she had forgotten just how busy the city could get. It was loud and colourful with all the people who were going to market and all the people shouting at one another.

Nancy held tight to Bill’s hand as they watched from around the corner, but Bill finally let go of hers. “Ya do know tha’ we can’t be seen together, right?” he asked. Nancy simply nodded her head. She was scared that the church may still be looking for her for whatever reason, and she was scared that they may recognize her, but Bill had already assured her that there was nothing to worry about. “‘Member, I will be watching you, I won’t let anythink happen to ya. You can trust me, Nance, I promise.” he said as he walked away before Nancy could protest, again.

The young girl kept a close eye on Bill, watching for his next move. They had talked about what she was going to do to help the boys out, and she didn’t question her role in the job. When she saw Bill give her the signal, rubbing his nose with his thumb and pointing at a gentleman with his pinkie finger, Nancy went to work. She put on the waterworks, tears falling from her eyes on que and she walked up to the man, tugging on the hem of his jacket.

“Sir, I can’t find my mum,” she said through the tears, “I was just with her, but now she is gone, sir. Can you please help me find her?”

The man couldn’t help but kneel down to the girls height and look her straight in the eye. “You poor dear, of course I can help you find your mother. What does she look like?”

“She has blonde hair and green eyes,” Nancy said, watching Bill but also not taking her eyes off of the gentleman. Bill gave her a reassuring look as he slipped the man's pocketbook out of one of his pockets, and his handkerchief out of the other. “She’s not very tall, but she’s awfully gorgeous. She was in the book store, but I can’t find her.” Nancy continued.

“Well,” said the gentleman, “You stay here and I will go see if I can find her for you. Don’t move from this spot. I’ll be right back, dear.”

As the gentleman left to look for Nancy’s nonexistent mother, Nancy went to meet Bill where they had planned on meeting. Bill had hidden the items away in his jacket, smiling at Nancy. “You’re a right natural at this, Nance.” he said as he leaned up against the wall.

“That’s good,” she replied, “because you’re stuck with me now, Bill.” she joked with that last part. She knew that Bill didn’t mind her staying with them at Fagins, he wanted nothing more than for her to continue to live there with them.

“You betta not plan on goin’ nowhere, Nance. I wouldn’t allow it.” Bill said as he kicked himself off of the wall. “I like havin’ you around too much. That’s it for your first day though.” And with that said, Nancy followed Bill as he headed back towards the hideout.

 


 

 

Nancy had a busy day that day, her first day out on the job, and she was honestly quite proud of herself, and a bit tired. She had gotten better, but not entirely well yet. It was still daylight out, but not for too much longer, and there was no one else at the house. Fagin was out selling the items to a local shop that knew him and wouldn’t mind keeping their tradings a secret, and the boys were not allowed back until after sunset each night. It was quiet, and while Nancy had experienced that before, it was different this time. She had just returned from the noisy city, her adrenaline rushing from the job that she did with Bill, and now it was silent. Nancy didn’t know what else to do, so she started picking up from earlier that day, but Bill stopped her.

“If ya gonna clean, you ought to take that gown off, don’t wanna scuff it up, do we now?” Bill said.

Nancy turned to look at him with an obviously faked pitiful look on her face. “But I feel so elegant in this gown, I don’t wanna take it off just yet, Bill.”

“Can’t ‘ave you messing it up though.” Bill said as he walked behind her, untying the bow on her backside. “We ain’t got but one dress for ya, and ya gotta make it last until we can get ya a new one.” He then reached around and untied her bonnet, laying the bonnet on the table. “Arms up Nancy.”

Nancy obliged, as much as she didn’t want to. She couldn’t remember ever wearing a gown quite as gorgeous as this one, and the idea of taking it off, it felt like she was a different person and she didn’t want to go back to her old life. As Bill took her dress off of her, her pale skin shining in the sunlight, shining through the window, he stared at her. He knew that they were young, and while he had only met the girl weeks before, he felt like he could see himself falling in love with her. “Stockings off too.” He wanted to see more of her, he wanted to see everything. Nancy slipped her shoes off carefully, making sure that she didn’t scuff them up before slipping out of her stockings.

She started to walk away to grab her clothes, but Bill grabbed her by the waist, stopping her. This was only the second time that a man had seen her this bare before, and the first time was earlier that day when Bill was helping her get ready. This time was different though. Earlier, he simply helped her get dressed, this time, he made her stand there. He was looking at her intently, staring at her. He then leaned over and gave her another kiss, only this time it was much more passionate.

He held her close to him, close enough that the young girl could feel his bulge through his pants. Nancy didn’t know how she felt about this and tried to pull back, but Bill grabbed her by the wrist and stopped her. “What’s wrong Nance?” he asked, looking down at her.

“Nothing’s wrong, Bill.” Nancy lied at first. “I...I don’t know if I want this, Bill, it feels weird.”

Bill never loosened his grip on Nancy, in fact, he tightened his grip on her wrist. “Don’t you trust me, Nancy?” he asked, his tone rougher now than she had heard since she had met him.

“Of course I trust you, you saved me.” Nancy didn’t fight Bill, she was a bit scared at this point. His demeanor was matching his eyes for the first time, and Nancy didn’t know how to feel about it. “I could be dead now if it weren’t for you.”

“Then is this really so much to ask of you?” At this point, Bill finally let go of her wrist and waited for her response. Nancy didn’t try to walk away this time, instead she stroked Bill’s cheek, watching him closely and remembering the face she saw in that abandoned house.

Bill leaned in once more and began kissing her, his hand making it’s way down her back, caressing the upper curve of her buttocks. He then moved his hand from her buttocks and around to her chest. It was completely flat, but he couldn’t help himself from rubbing it gently with his rough hands. Nancy pulled out of the kiss again. “Bill, this can’t be right, doing this right now.”

Bill stopped at this point and looked down at her dead in the eyes. “Ya know what? If ya don’t wanna do it, then we can wait.”

Nancy bit her lip, she felt bad for rejecting him, but she was grateful that he was understanding. “Thank you, Bill.”

“Get yourself dressed. I gotta get back out and grab a few more things.” Bill’s soft demeanor was back, the boy who saved her. Nancy felt at ease once again and quickly grabbed her clothes that she would normally wear, a dirty, torn, white smock over top of a black dress and some brown boots.

That night, Nancy slept next to Bill. She may not be ready for anything more, but she felt safe in his arms. He was her protector and she knew that.

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Nancy had worked for Fagin, alongside Bill and the other boys for six years now. It was her life, and as messed up as it may be, it was a fine one. No one ever suspected the young girl of being a thief, and so it made it quite easy to get away with whatever she did do for the gang. Nancy was now thirteen years old, and she was still the only girl in Fagin’s home.

One day, when she was out on the town, wearing her new dress that was blue and white, a hat atop her head, she saw a young girl on the street, crying. This young girl was wearing a torn dress and no shoes. It wasn’t winter, but that didn’t change the fact that it almost always rained in England and the streets were filthy. Nancy took her time to leave her job for a minute to check in on the girl.

“Do ya mind if I ‘ave a seat here with ya?” While Nancy could bring herself to speak ‘proper’ as she was taught all those years ago in the workhouse, she didn’t speak that way anymore. The young girl just shook her head. She was about the same age as Nancy, only a few years difference. “You hungry?” While she still didn’t get an answer from the other girl, Nancy took it upon herself to hand over a roll that she had in her pocket from breakfast that morning. She had taken the habit of hoarding food while she was out on the job. The young girl took the roll and devoured it in front of the redhead. “I’m Nancy. What’s your name?”

“Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Bet.” The young girl finally answered the ginger.

“Do ya ‘ave any family?” Nancy asked. She knew the answer to this question. The only time that kids would walk around town wearing such torn clothes was when they had no family and no home. It was the only thing they owned, and she remembered how that was. Bet shook her head no. “Well, it’s a good thing that ya found us then.”

“Us?” Bet asked a little confused.

“Us.” Nancy repeated herself. “Me, Bill, Fagin and the gang.”

“Where are they?” Bet asked. Her eyes were wide, obvious signs of curiosity shining through.

“They’re working, as was I.” Nancy took her shawl off and handed it to Bet to wrap herself. “I saw ya over ‘ere though and wanted to make sure that yous was alright, ya know?” Nancy stood up and helped Bet up to her feet.

There was something about Bet, the more Nancy looked at her face, the more she felt as though she knew the girl, but she knew that she couldn’t, not possibly, not hardly.

“It’s about time that everyone meets up at the pub to hand ov’r the goods to Fagin, why don’t ya come with me?” Nancy wasn’t really asking, she just thought that it was polite to make the girl think that she was the one that chose to go with Nancy. Bet straggled behind for a moment, so Nancy urged her to follow. “Come on now!”

Nancy had lead the girl with her to where she could see seventeen year old Bill, giving him the signal that she was heading back. When Nancy turned the corner, Bill followed suit meeting up with her and Bet. As soon as they were out of sight from the public, Bill’s hand rested on the back of Nancy’s neck as his fingers gently dug into her.

“Who’s this ya got ‘ere, Nance?” Bill asked, not even paying any real attention to Bet.

“She needs a place just as I did, and how could another girl in the ‘ouse not bring good luck?” Nancy joked. “She needs a place and some work, Bill. I’m proof that she could come in handy real quick.”

“Well, it’s not up to me now, is’t Nancy?” Bill said.

Bet continued to follow Nancy and Bill, but she kept a little bit more distance between them now. Bill was tall and had a very harsh look to his face. To Bet, he seemed almost foul, but she didn’t say anything, she wouldn’t dare. As far as she was concerned, Bill could snap her in two if she got on his bad side.

The three of them walked down the dark, dirty alleyways, walking across planks laid out over the mucky waters that seemed to line the back streets of London. There were rats and few people spent time back there, but Nancy and Bill never missed a claim. They knew that the more they stole, the more they could hoard for themselves. Bet’s jaw dropped when she saw Nancy pick a wallet out of a gentleman’s pocket as swift as can be, the man never even realising what had happened. Nancy took the money from the wallet, stuffing it in her bosom and handed the leather to Bill. She continued to follow them though, and she couldn’t help but realise how Nancy stood out like a sore thumb in her dress and hat. People with that kind of money were never seen in places such as this.

It wasn’t much longer before the trio got to their destination, Bill and Nancy stopped at the entrance. Fagin was already there and the boys were joining one at a time, some from the same direction as they had come, and others coming from every which way.

“You, go ‘ave a seat at that table and wait for us there.” Bill said. Over the years, Bill had become a much more brass and violent man, but Nancy didn’t budge from his side. After Bet had made her way into the pub and Nancy headed towards it herself, Bill grabbed her by the wrist, like he so often does when he isn’t getting his way. “Why’d ya bring ‘er along Nancy?”

“She needs ‘elp, Bill, just like I did!” As violent as Bill was, Nancy wouldn’t bring herself to be scared of him, she loved him, and she never backed away from speaking up to him and telling her mind either. “I couldn’t leave her just starvin’ out there, now could I?”

“We’re already barely eating ov’r ‘ere, we don’t need anover mouth to feed.” Bill yanked Nancy to the other side of him when he realised that the little blonde was watching them from the table.

“It’ll also be another set of ‘ands out on the streets, another li’l innocent face to distract the gen’lemen.” Nancy said, the exact same job that Nancy had been doing for years now.

Bill grabbed Nancy by the face, pulling her onto her tiptoes and closer to him as he looked into her eyes, planting a kiss on her lips. “Yeah, we ain’t got no innocence in this job no more, do we?”

“I’m only thirteen, ya know.” she said, her hand reaching up and placing itself instinctively on his chest, feeling his heavy breathing underneath of it, looking at him dead in the eyes.

“I do know, and yous a woman now Nance, you ain’t no child.” Bill said, and with that, he let go of her, letting her drop back down to the flats of her feet.

Nancy made her way into the pub, not waiting for Bill to lead the way. Going behind the bar, she made up four mugs of gin, bringing them to the table where Bet was sitting with Fagin and where Bill was heading to take his own seat. Nancy took her seat next to the younger blonde. “Drink up.” Nancy told her before taking a big swig of her own gin.

“What have we got ‘ere, Sikes?” Fagin asked, staring intently at Bet. He knew there was a place for her in the house, but he didn’t know if they could afford it, if it would be worth it in the long run.

“I brought ‘er Fagin.” Nancy said. “I know that I ain’t gonna be a child much longer, and good bit of our monies came from me.” Nancy cared about the home that she ended up growing up in, and she knew that they needed any bit of cash they could get their hands on.

“Like I said, Nance,” Bill chimed in, “you ain’t no child no more.”

“Ain’t got no family, ‘ave ya?” Fagin asked, ignoring the bickering couple.

Bet simply shook her head. She was intimidated, and even that was a bit of an understatement.

“So, Bet, ‘as my dear Nancy ‘ere told you what we do ‘ere?” Bill asked. He was leaning into the table, so close to Bet even with the piece of furniture that kept them separated? Bet simply stared at the man, not saying a word nor making a movement, scared stiff. “Well, speak up why dontcha?” Bill belted at her, his tone more aggressive. “Ain’t ya got a voice, girl!”

“You’re scarin’ ‘er Bill!” Nancy exclaimed, placing her hand gently on Bet’s face and adverting her attention to herself. “It’s okay, Bet.” she said reassuringly. “He’s right though. Ya gotta be able to speak for yerself ‘ere, ya wouldn’ be able ter make it if ya can’t.”

“So, I’ll ask again,” Bill’s voice was a little softer now, not yelling his words but speaking them towards the girl, still harsh and brash though, “‘as Nancy ‘ere told you what we do, or not?”

Bet shook her head, “No, sir.” Her voice was barely noticeable, but she did speak.

“Why don’t ya tell ‘er Nance?” Bill glared at Nancy, not only did she bring this girl here, she never got confirmation that she wouldn’t go and rat them out the moment she knew what they did.

“Well,” Nancy started, “You’ll do what I did when I were yer age. I gots a pretty gown from when I was younger, it would fit you so perfect. It’s a proper gown, and you would go out on the town with me. We always eat, and you would ‘ave yer very own bed to sleep in.”

As Nancy kept beating around the bush, neither girl noticed Bill stand up from his seat and walk around the table behind them. He leaned in between them and they could feel his breath on their necks. Bet’s eyes were wider now then they had been the whole time that she was there.

“We steal, we’re right thieves we are.” Bill said as his hand rested on the back of Nancy’s neck, gripping it tight. “We ain’t scared o’ no magistrate either, so it wouldn’t matta much if ya wanted to tell them. It wouldn’t be smart for ya though, I can promise you that.” He turned Nancy’s head so that her hazel eyes were staring straight into his. “We would take good care of ya though, isn’t that Nance? And all ya ‘ave to do, is exactly what yer told.”

While Nancy should have been scared of the man in front of her, for she knew just how terrible he could be, she never was. She loved that man, ever since they were just children, and she always would love him. Bill finally took his hand off of her neck and stood up straight. “So, why dontcha show us what ya got today, ey?

Nancy started taking out little knick-knacks from her bosom and wallets that she had hidden under her skirt, a snuffbox, and three handkerchiefs, laying each one of them on the table. She then stood up, grabbing both her and Bill’s tankards and as she walked back behind the bar. Bill took her spot next to Bet who instinctively went to stand up herself. “Dontcha move girl, yer haven’t been given permission to go anywhere yet.” Bill started to go through the items on the table. Solid gold watch, two silk handkerchiefs and one lace. The two leather wallets had what added up to seven pounds in them and the snuffboxes were both full. Bill pocketed the money and the watch and left the rest on the table for Fagin.

“What ya think yer doin’ Bill? Whatcha expect me and the poor boys to live offa?” Fagin asked defensively.

“My girl did the work, I get the first choice of the earnings.” Bill said, “And if ya got a problem wiv it, I guess you could take it up with me some otha time, but I’ve got thinks to do.” Bill headed for the door to leave, and never once turning back around called out, “Come on Nancy, we’re going ‘ome.”

Nancy left the full tankards on the counter and stopped by Bet for one last quick minute. “You stay ‘ere with Fagin and the boys, ain’t no one ‘ere gonna hurt you, Bet. I promise. You’ll be well taken care of if ya do, my word.”

“Nancy!” Bill yelled again, quite irritated this time. He stayed in the doorway waiting for the redhead to join him.

“I’ll come see ya tonight, Bet! Soon as I ‘ave the chance” Nancy said as she ran towards Bill, taking his hand in hers as soon as she caught up with him, and the two of them walked off into the dark alleys.