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Alice Harding is one of Septimus Harding's daughters, who was at one point the warden of Hiram's Hospital until he had to give up the position. And of course what ensued was the longest headache she'd ever had. About, what was it again, a year or two? She couldn't remember. It felt like an eternity passed until she was happy. Though when the new Bishop arrives, The Proudies, and brought with them their chaplain, Obadiah Slope; it shook up Alice's already stressful world. Obadiah Slope was a man who seem to take a liking to her sister and, well any beautiful woman. The man was a snake and Alice was hopelessly in love with him.  

Alice sat in the chair next to her sisters and looked out the window. She was very proud that Ele has been so strong since John, her husband, became ill and passed away. Leaving Eleanor with her beautiful baby that was now sitting in the bassinet, smiling away and cooing. 

"Seems like Slope is the new Bishop." Septimus' voice pulls Alice out of her trance. Obadiah Slope seem to always be on her mind lately. 

Alice looks between her and her sisters. Here we go..

"What makes you say that, father?" Mary finally asks.

"The Proudies have went back to London for the season and to bring back Mrs. Proudie's horses. They left Mr. Slope in control of the diocese. He seems to enjoy it." Alice watched as her father sipped his tea. Mary looked in Alice's direction. She wasn't going to be the one to tell him. No thank you. Her father sensed the tension and frowned putting down his cup of tea. "Is something wrong?" 

"Mary will tell you..." Ele slyly smiled across Alice to her their sister in law, who's eyes widen. 

"Mary will not!" She frowned, "The letter was addressed to you, Eleanor. Therefore you should be the one to tell him."

"Alice-"

"I'm sorry sister.. but it is your responsibility." Alice knew that her father wasn't a fan of Mr. Slope since he wanted to rid the church of the music.

"A letter? What letter?" Their father asked.

"Mr. Slope is going to pay us a visit, father. He wants to get to know the locals better."

Alice watched her fathers face fall from confused to what looked like to her... Shock?

"Slope. Oh.. I see. Here? And you agreed?"

"Well yes, I couldn't just say no you may not enter my home." Ele chuckled, almost surprised.

"He must be givin' the benefit of the doubt." Mary smiled, trying to keep the mood light.

"And what say you, my dear?" Septimus asked, eyeing Alice for support. 

"It can't hurt if he just visits.." Alice shrugged and took a sip of her tea. Her father would not be happy with her, she always took his side. But not this time. Septimus frowned at her and went to stand up.

"When he is expected?" 

"Very soon." Ele stood up, "We'd hoped you'd stay." 

"Yours is a very proper attitude, mine is not."

"Father, please." Alice rolled her eyes, "He's not the devil himself."

"If he can't hear my music, then I can't hear his words."

And with that, he left. 

How could he be so stubborn. She knew his music was very important to him but not everyone is going to feel the same way about it.

"I don't see what's the big deal." Alice frowned towards Eleanor.

"Of course YOU don't, you are quite taken by him." Mary snickered, making Alice turn towards her and give her a deadly glare. That's the last time she ever talk to her about anything private. Eleanor rolled her eyes and sat back down.

When Mr. Slope arrived he sat down on the couch across from her.

"I have looked forward to this meeting since I have first arrived in Barchester." He smiled.

Alice's body shivered at the sound of his voice. She has never heard a voice that deep before. 

"I am a most fervent admirer of your father and his work in the diocese." Alice watched as he stirred his tea.

"Including his music?" Ele asked.

Alice noticed he seemed taken back by what Eleanor said.

"Especially his music, Mrs. Bold." 

She watched as he went to drink his tea. She wished she could be that cup. STOP  ALICE. She shouldn't be thinking thoughts like that.

"Really?" Mary asked.

Mr. Slope stopped mid sip and smiled a little. "I think I know what you're thinking."

"Do you?" Alice was now sitting quietly looking from Slope to her sister.

"You're thinking, how can I profess admiration for your father's music having apparently condemned such music from the cathedral pulpit."

Hit the nail right on the head. Alice hid her smile behind her cup. Though she knew her sister in law probably have seen it and will tease her about it later. 

"With respect the thought crosses my mind Mr. Slope."

Obadiah raised his eyebrows and sat down his cup of tea. "My criticism if, indeed it was criticism, it was intended in a constructive sense. To correct some of the general tendencies in our forms of worship. But aware such criticism is concerned, if indeed it was criticism, your father and his music are a glorious exception."

Alice's mouth dropped. Wait, so he did indeed like father's music?

"I shall convey your sentiments to him." Ele smiled, obviously happy with what Mr. Slope said.

"Pitty, he can't be with us I did say I want to talk to him." Obadiah looked towards Mary then finally to Alice. Who's heart was already beating out of her chest. He smiled at her. She hoped she didn't have to answer, she probably make an utter fool of her self.

"You may be assured Mr. Slope that only the most pressing of engagements would have prompted his early departure." Mary came to her rescue. Though his eyes never left Alice's. 

"Of course." Alice bit her lip,"Would you like to give him another message from me Mrs. Bold."

"By all means." Ele smiled when his eyes left Alice's to look at her.

"It is quite possible that the new bishop will invite your father to resume his old situation as warden of Hiram's hospital."

"Go back to the hospital?" Eleanor smiled at Alice, "That would be wonderful." Alice was too busy watching Mr. Slope to really care about the conversation.

"I can give no guarantees and nor would you expect me to but-"

"I shall certainly tell him the good news." Ele turned toward her John Jr. "Did you hear that?"

"And this is your child, Mrs. Bold." Obadiah turned towards the child as if he just noticed him here.

"This is John Bold Jr, yes."

Slope got up and leaned down towards baby John. "Truly this is the most beautiful and exquisite sight I have beheld since I arrived in Barchester." Alice blushed when he looked at her then back down to the baby. "The Lord's blessing be upon you, my child. May your innocence security flourish and may you always give thanks to God for the wondrous grace and tenderness of your mother." He looked to Ele then towards Alice again, "And your quite and beautiful aunt." 

Alice nearly dropped her now cold tea. Did he just call her beautiful?! Eleanor and Mary looked across at each other and smiled a knowing smile. Her heart would surly burst from the pressure she is feeling and that look in his eyes. She must say something right? But she couldn't, she just sat there wide eyes and mouth parted.

"I must go. It was a pleasure talking with you." He stood, eyes still on Alice. 

"I'll get your hat." Ele got up and walked past Obadiah with a smirk on her face. 

"I'll help!" Mary smiled at Alice before walking out of the room. Leaving her and Slope alone. This is my worst nightmare come true. She would have to scold her sisters later but right now Obadiah was watching her closely. 

"You have a wonderful family here miss.."

"Alice. Alice Harding." She stood.

"Pleasure." Obadiah slipped his hand in hers and brought it up to his lips. Alice's heart fluttered and her eyes nearly closed at the soft touch.

"I enjoyed your sermon, Mr. Slope." She payed no attention to what he was saying during the sermon just on the way his voice rang off the church walls. Alice wasn't the most religious woman and knew only what her father forced her to learn.

"Thank you, my dear. I wanted to talk to you after but I couldn't find you." He smiled, down at his hand that was still holding hers.

"Oh, I apologize, Mr. Slope. If I knew you wanted to talk to me I would not have left so quickly."

"It's of no fret. I'm glad to have ran into you here. Maybe we can meet again soon." 

Is it that hard to fetch a hat? That it takes two people!?

"I-I umm yeah. I'd like that, Mr. Slope." Alice was at loss for words. His soft lips on the back of her hand made her dizzy and his close proximity clouded her mind. Not to mention how good he smelled and his beautiful eyes. Oh sisters please come back before I throw myself at him!

"Here you are Mr. Slope." Eleanor came back into the room followed by Mary. Both women had huge smiles plastered on their faces. Obadiah gave her another heart stopping smile before letting her hand out of his gentle grip. 

"Thank you, Mrs. Bold." 

He said his goodbyes and had Eleanor show him out. Mary walked over to Alice who hadn't moved yet.

"Alice... Are you.. Alright dear?" Mary held her arm and squeezed it lightly. She blinked a few times before moving out of her sisters grip.

"I'm perfectly fine, Mary." If she showed any emotion now, they would tease her until she died no doubt. 

"Oh yeah sure." 

"Your face is a red as a tomato, my dear sister." Eleanor walked into the room. "Mr. Slope seemed to fancy you too."

"I think so too." Mary giggled. Alice shot her a deadly glare. 

"Well it doesn't matter what you both think. I have no intentions of any kind in meeting with Mr. Slope outside of the conversation we just had." To prove her point, Alice kissed her nephew and walked out. Leaving her sisters dumbfounded in the middle of the living room.

She did lie about not wanting to see Mr. Slope, she did want to see him. But she couldn't let her sisters feel like they had something on her. 

No no. I don't think so. 

Even before Eleanor got married they still picked on her. Yes, she was the youngest and they meant no harm.. it still annoyed her. Though John was always sweet to her when we was alive. She missed him so much. She always wanted a older brother like John. He took good care of her and Eleanor. 

Alice walked back to her house, which wasn't all that far from Eleanor's. John wanted her close just in case she needed anything. Alice placed the back of her hand, where Obadiah has kissed it earlier, to her lips. This was going to be tough for sure.