From the moment Sarah had appeared like a mirage in her father’s dining room, Tally has been all in a tizzy, her every nerve ending alert and aware of Sarah; each blink, each breath, the very strands of her hair. What she has been aware of more than all the rest combined however, is the clear and concerted effort being made by the General to avoid her eye. It is not that Tally is unaccustomed to such treatment; quite the opposite in fact, coming from her mother’s house this is not at all unfamiliar to her, but she must admit that this is rather more affecting coming from Sarah. After all, with their parting words being what they were, Tally cannot see what reason the General could have for showing up unannounced here other than to see her, yet she refuses to meet her eye.
As the dinner progressed, not that Tally managed to consume more than a few mouthfuls of it, there could be no denying that she has been outright ignored. So, excepting the fact that her entire person has been vibrating with restrained emotion since first hearing Mrs Kohlson’s pronouncement, Tally gave nothing away. Not a word, nor a move out of place, no sign at all of the turmoil roiling beneath her perfect posture. If Sarah does not wish to even so much as look at her anymore, then Tally will not force her hand. That she is within touching distance, but farther away from Tally than she has ever been before is the height of irony. It is a relief and an agony both when the transition from table to drawing room is made.
Her interest in Sergeant Nicte Batan is the only part she is not feigning; the woman is charming to be sure, and far more at ease in the company of others than Sarah tended to be. Nicte is also an incorrigible flirt, unafraid to pepper conversation with salacious implications which Tally finds refreshing, if a touch shocking at times. To be so forthright with her every passing fancy, totally unfettered by the shackles of proper society, is something Tally had never really considered as a possibility. Penelope is, naturally, enthralled by her.
“Of course, I was not blessed to be so lovely as either of you,” Nicte drawls, eyes mirthful even as they look somewhere over Tally’s head and the back of the armchair in which she sits, “Why, if I had dimples like Miss Craven’s I am sure there would have been orders handed down to the battalion to keep me smiling so they might have something beautiful to look at. I would summer in one and winter in the other without complaint.”
Tally rolls her eyes at such obvious fare, but Penelope giggles, delighted by the easy charm of harmless fun. “Nicte,” Tally sighs, and is surprised to see the grin on Nicte’s face widen further.
“Oh, you have been spending time with the General, haven’t you,” she breathes, half laughing, “That was a perfect imitation! Down to the world weary intonation - and I would know, I spent a number of years exasperating the woman daily.”
Her stomach tightens at the reminder, but knowing that if she simply turned her head, there Sarah would be, seemingly completely uninterested in conversing with her, Tally cannot allow the words of others to give her false hope that she might mean more than she does to Sarah. She has made that mistake once before. “Then we must have more in common than appearances would suggest, Nicte, for I assure you that I too have been an exasperation for General Alder.”
There is something knowing in the look Nicte gives her, something more than consolatory or simple empathy, that Tally does not want to acknowledge aloud. Nicte is regarding her like they are comrades in arms, and Tally wonders if Sarah Alder is aware that she has such a devoted party of lovelorn women hurting and yet still caring about her against all their better judgement. Nicte shakes her head. “Not the way I have heard it told, Craven, but I will not fight you on it. I do not think you capable of causing exasperation - you know her better than I Miss Silver, what do you think?”
“In the time that I have had to come to know her, I would have to say that you are quite right, Sergeant Batan. Tally has been diverting and patient, never even close to exasperating to me,” Pen nods fervently, her dark curls bouncing wildly. Tally finds herself rather caught up in what, exactly, it is that Nicte has heard told. It had not occurred to her that Sarah would have informed her friend of the goings on between them, and to what degree she would have explained any of the complicated tangle that had come about over the course of the season.
“Exactly as I thought,” Nicte says smugly, though Tally is not paying much attention,“and please feel free to call me Nicte, Sergeant Batan feels terribly formal.”
Ever delighted to be considered at all, Penelope beams. “If you’re sure, Nicte. Penelope is just fine for me too.”
“What way have you heard it told, Nicte?”
The question is out of her mouth before Tally really considers if she is prepared to hear the answer. She cannot unask it, however, and must live with the consequences. Nicte shrugs one shoulder, though Tally can see the self satisfied smirk that she hides. All the needling had indeed had the intended effect. “Well, as I have gathered, you are all things good and kind, selfless beyond imagining, and a great deal more intelligent than our friend. The way it was explained to me, you are the ideal to which all others should aspire. Part of me had hoped, when I realised I would in fact be meeting you, that you might be plain or arrogant, but I find myself deeply disappointed that you are undeniably both humble and beautiful. An annoyingly accurate representation of your character I think.”
All of this, and it still had not been enough. Knowing that Sarah has spoken of her as if she is the ideal to which others should aspire to be is confounding. This is how she thinks of her, and still she was not worth the risk of loving? Tally is exhausted suddenly, a bone deep weariness that is not helped by the closeness of the room, her intense awareness of the woman she has been spurned by and the man she detests at her back, or the watchful eyes of her companions as she digests Nicte’s words.
“You know, I am rather tired tonight,” Pen, a saviour, says brightly, “Would you ladies mind awfully if we retired?”
Though Nicte seems to baulk at being referred to as a lady, she is quick to acquiesce. “Of course not, Craven and I will escort you - is there anything we might retrieve for you? Water, perhaps?”
“I do usually collect some sprigs of lavender from the garden to aid in restful sleep, but I can forgo them if it is too much trouble-”
Tally leaps at the opportunity for solitude where she might collect herself. “No, no, a stroll in the garden sounds divine to me, allow me to gather them for you,” Tally smiles, rising quickly from her seat, “Perhaps you might show Nicte where she and the General will be sleeping in the interim?”
The garden is as soothing as any Tally has been in, the hum of cicadas and the cooling summer evening a welcome respite from the constrictive atmosphere of the parlour. What a horror it is, to love someone who will not even look at you! It is cruel of Sarah to show up to Tally’s father’s house without a care for the tattered remains of Tally’s heart, a heart that she has refused, Tally notes bitterly to herself as she plucks fine sprigs of fragrant lavender. Rising, she stumbles over booted feet and is steadied by strong hands, a grip that is seared into her memory; Sarah.
“I don’t mean to startle you, my apologies, I thought you might have heard my approach.”
In another life, she would sink into those arms content with the world. In this one, however, they serve only to exacerbate the open wounds of a woman scorned, and Tally jerks out of them as quickly as she falls into them. Sarah is as handsome as ever, blue eyes piercing where they finally meet Tally’s own. It is rather infuriating that her heart still thrills in her chest at the mere sight of the woman, though the physical pain of meeting again does wonders to counterbalance them.
“Why have you come here, Sarah? Why say all that you have said, and then show up out of the blue with a stranger at my father’s door?” Tally cries, feelings spilling over.
“Primarily to apologize to you. I have been such an ass, I can scarcely believe you’re willing to speak to me. You have done nothing but treat me with the utmost care and respect, far beyond anything I might have envisioned, and all I have done is push you away time and again. You were right,” Sarah admits, and though Tally would generally like to agree, she cannot honestly say she knows what she has been right about.
“About me. I am a coward. I am prideful, and refuse to ask for help even when Goddess knows I am in need of it. I can be stubborn, and taciturn, and resistant to change. I am built of fear, guilt, anger. And I am sorry. You came this close to giving your life in place of mine, and I punished you for the privilege. I…” Sarah trails off, blinking back tears, and Tally feels her anger melting away in the face of it. “Beyond sorry, I will regret my cowardice when it comes to you for the rest of my days.”
It is difficult to remain incensed when Sarah is so genuine in her apology, and more so because Tally does not want to be angry. Anger is exhausting, and the day has been trying enough as it stands. Forgiveness is the only route forward, and though she does not quite know yet what that might look like, perhaps this closure will allow Tally to begin that process in earnest rather than continuing as she has been, yearning for a life she will not have.
“You came all the way to Boston to tell me that? A letter would not have sufficed?”
Sarah shuffles her feet. “Perhaps, but that is not the limit of what I wish to say to you.”
“Alright then,” Tally replies, curious as to what could have the General so out of sorts, “say your piece.”
Somehow, she had not anticipated at all that what might come out of Sarah’s mouth would be a declaration, and a dizzying one at that. It is everything her heart has desired these last months. Yet, Tally holds her heart back; she will not be toyed with, not ever again, and if she is to allow Sarah back into her life, her heart, then there are answers she needs from the woman standing before her.
“You told me to leave you.” Tally gasps out, fierce even at a whisper.
Sarah swallows, and damn her for being so genuine. “I know.”
“You said that any other choice would be better, that I would forget about you.” Tally had tried to, but knew intimately that there would never be a day that passed in which the remnants of Sarah’s affection did not linger like smoke on her skin.
“I did.” She acknowledges simply, taking full responsibility for her words, and Tally can feel her body even now leaning in like Sarah is a magnet. The worst, the truth that has wrecked her head since she had fled Salem is all that she has left to ask.
“You loved me, and yet you would have let someone else court me. Why on earth would you do that?” And that is the crux of it all. Tally stares beseechingly into her soul, craving an answer that will make those words sensical.
“Because I am a fool. I thought more of your safety than your happiness, or even my own. A very wise old woman reminded me that to value one above the other is to forgo the best things this life has to offer us.”
A very wise old woman indeed. There can only be one person so well acquainted with them both. “Camille?”
Tally laughs wetly, the cacophony of emotion overwhelming in this moment. “You hurt me more acutely than I have ever been hurt before in my life, you know.”
“It is my greatest regret, believe me. The last thing I ever desire to do is hurt you.”
Tally considers this for a moment, and Sarah stares at her, a terrible fear and hope in those blue eyes, but above it all a tenderness so tangible Tally would be unsurprised if she could reach out and touch it. “And you love me?” She asks softly.
“I do. I love you. With all that I am, I love you, but I will understand if you do not feel the same.” Tally steps closer, until the tops of their shoes are touching, and takes Sarah’s hand tightly in her own. There could only ever be one answer to this woman’s declaration of love. “Of course I feel the same, Sarah. There is not a person who has crossed my path in weeks who does not know that I am in love with you.”
When their lips meet again, it is with the passion of all the great lovers that have gone before them, burning heat rushing through Tally at the drag of Sarah’s hands against her bodice, her thigh. And when Sarah produces a ring, an heirloom from the family she had so beloved that she has made her life a dedication to their memory, Tally knows that this is exactly how it was meant to be between them. All of the confusion, the wonderment and delight, the love, the loss, all of it leading them to this perfect understanding and commitment to the other. So, naturally, the moment is ended rather abruptly by the intrusion of Gerit Buttonwood, and now she is standing at the edge of a field with her heart in her throat because her General is taking a twice-damned pistol from the man and setting out the paces. She does not have a single whiff of fear about her, just a grim calm that has even the wind itself stopping in its tracks. Tally wishes for the first time in a long time that her gift did not respond so intensely to danger, because it would be an incredible relief to be able to feel that same calm.
“Please be careful. He is a charlatan and a fool, but I fear he is rather counting on your underestimation of his ability,” Tally murmurs worriedly, and this does give Sarah pause. She smiles, soft and lovely, and caresses Tally’s cheek with her empty hand.
“I do not doubt that he is, but I do not fear anything he might attempt for as much as I may have underestimated his contributions in the past, it does not hold a candle,” Sarah bares her teeth, grinning sharply, “to how greatly he has underestimated me . If he wanted to live he should have thought about that before he set the Camarilla loose and nearly killed you. Do not fret too keenly, Tally. He can scheme all he likes, and it will change nothing. I will succeed. There is no law of sovereign or Seed that I would not bend to keep you safe.” She never wavers, absolute in her conviction, and it should not, but her speech sends a thrill through Tally. To inspire such devotion is beyond what she has ever hoped for. To receive it, and from Sarah Alder, the love of her life? Tally covers Sarah’s hand with her own and squeezes briefly.
“This goes beyond bending and rather directly into breaking, Sarah, but I understand your meaning,” she says, smiling fondly back at her, “I would do most anything to keep you too.”
“Let us start so I might finish, Alder! You’ve delayed long enough, unless you are too much of a coward to face me?” Buttonwood goads, and watching Sarah’s handsome features harden into those of the General, Tally knows that there can be no more avoiding this. With great reluctance, she lets Sarah’s hand go.
Tally bites her lip, anxiety filling her heart, and clutches the ring to her chest. They are no strangers to the spectre of death, and knowing how her own injury had affected Sarah, she cannot imagine what hell she would call down if Sarah was the one felled. “I love you. Do not leave me here again.”
Sarah smiles softly, tenderness returning to her countenance at Tally’s command. “As I love you. I mean to keep my word; I will not be parted from you from this day on.”
With that final quiet assurance, Sarah walks to meet Gerit, back to back with their weapons in hand. It occurs to Tally only now, seeing the metal glinting in the moonlight, that she has never before seen a man shot, only grouse and fowl during the hunting. How different might the scene be from what had occurred on the lawns of Fort Salem? Her stomach churns and her palms are slick with sweat when they take their first step apart, and the urge to shut her eyes like a child frightened of the shadows grows with every consecutive step after that. She forces herself to keep both eyes on the proceedings however much it makes her heart pound in her chest, the lingering fear that something about the whole affair is soured by Buttonwood’s trickery a motivator she would have preferred to live without. The grounds have fallen deadly silent, as though the cicadas and night birds, the sky itself, hold their breaths in solidarity with Tally.
Time seems to stretch long and thick like taffy being pulled before her eyes when they begin to turn, and Tally can feel the scream in her throat but cannot release it because Sarah is not raising her pistol. She is not raising her pistol, but Gerit is staring down the barrel with terrible glee, and Tally is frozen to the spot, eyes wide in horror, as a shot rings out.
Tally’s terrified scream lingers in the air as the smoke clears, and Sarah takes some pleasure in seeing the confusion on the Buttonwood boy’s face when she stands, unharmed by his shot, but more in the guttural cry of relief from the keeper of her heart. She takes a step forward, and he pulls the trigger a second time - as Sarah knew he would - and it is her great pleasure to open her mouth in a bellow and strike the bullet out of the sky. She has restrained herself again and again, a grace given only for the belief that Tally cared for the boy, but there would be no mercy, no quarter, no care now. What is a man such as he to a witch of the old country?
“I did warn you, Buttonwood,” Sarah says lowly, stalking forward with intent, “And you have proven that there is not an honest nor honourable inch of your soul.” Now there is fear in his eyes, the acrid reek of it as blood in the water to Sarah. He takes a step backwards, eyes flitting to and fro for an escape, but the fields are wide and open; unless he can make it back to the Craven house, there is nowhere to hide. Sarah takes another step forwards, and he begins to stutter uselessly at her.
“Hang on a moment now, let us talk about this, hm?” He wheedles and Sarah feels her lip curl in disgust. “The duel is finished, why not leave as we are, no harm no foul?”
That this is the same man who has tried to make a mockery of the woman Sarah loves, who put countless witches in grave danger all for his own vanity, the man who required this ridiculous duel in the first place, has attempted to shoot her dead twice now, would be unbelievable to Sarah if she was not well aware of the nature of his character. She raises the pistol and without a word pulls the trigger, utterly unphased when nothing comes of the gesture, though it garners a quiet gasp from Tally at her back. She clicks her tongue disparagingly, tossing the offending weapon aside.
“Did you think I would not notice the lack of firing pin? I fought in wars that began before you were a thought in your poor mother’s head, boy. You have the gall to ask for leniency ? I will show you leniency .” Sarah draws herself to her full height, her disgust and anger warring for dominance because she has seen many a man in a position such as this in her time, and they are no better than a wild animal caught in a trap, willing to gnaw its own appendage off to escape its captor. She is a master tactician, after all, and it is patently obvious that Buttonwood would never have the stones to chew his hand off, nor the brains to attempt something as simple as an apology. No, Sarah does not doubt that, caught in a situation from which there can be no escape, Buttonwood will go for the unthinkable. Tally.
She watches the thought play out across his sly face, the tension changing in his grip around the handle of his pistol, the minute shift of weight from one foot to the other. His eyes flicking over her shoulder to Tally. If she had required any more reason to want his head off his shoulders, this would have certainly been enough to cement her position. Shooting her is somewhat within the bounds of reason; she had agreed to duel. The instant the thought of hurting Tally has formed in his head, Sarah is finished talking, finished entertaining the sham that they are equals on this field.
He does not get farther than raising the shoulder of his gun arm in her direction. Without hesitation, Sarah sings a high trilling shriek of a Seed, and watches in grim satisfaction as a wave of wind slices through him from hip to shoulder like he is made of butter. The force of it lifts him off his feet, and there is only a moment for surprise to dawn across his features as the wind blade does its work. He is dead before his torso hits the grass, and certainly long before his bottom half follows suit.
Sarah kicks the pistol from his limp hand before going to Tally, who has her eyes firmly set on Sarah’s face and not the ground where even in the dark of the night, it is undeniable that she has cleaved a man in twain with nothing but her voice and a great deal of anger.
“He would have shot you if I gave him half a chance to. For nothing. All of this havoc he has caused for his own pride, to own you like a trinket, and he would have shot you if it might save his own skin,” Sarah shakes her head, weary in a way that she has not been for a long time. She does not move into Tally’s space, though the desire to reach out is strong within her; it is one thing to see her fell man after man on a battlefield full of ostensible strangers intent on killing, and quite another to have that same lethality turned on someone she has known for some time. If anything could alter Tally’s opinion of her, the cold calculation of killing Gerit Buttonwood might be it.
Sarah finds herself pleasantly surprised when she does not meet revulsion but concern instead. “Are you alright? You’re not hurt?” Tally babbles, all but falling into her in the rush to ensure there are no injuries to be attended to, soft hands roaming over her, “Tell me he did not hurt you.”
Her obvious care is still such a marvel to Sarah. “I am unharmed, I swear it, I—”
“Foul, unnatural beast! What have you done!?” Blanton Silver’s fury echoes where he stands halfway between the manor and their duel, a hastily lit lamp in his hands illuminating the revulsion on his face. “You will pay for what you are, make no mistake!” His eyes are wild, dangerous; and Sarah knows he has seen what happened here tonight. Enough to come to certain conclusions about her abilities. Enough to go to any authority that might listen and rave about the witch that should be hunted down and slain.
“Mr Silver, you know not what you are saying, there was a duel at the behest of Buttonwood himself, and his second shot-” Tally tries to explain, curling one fist into the fabric of Sarah’s coat, as if she believes Sarah might disappear if she is not grounded to the earth. Sarah would tell her not to waste her time attempting to change the minds of those who have already come to their own conclusions about who and what she is; she has seen this scene play out too many times before to think there will be a new ending.
“Quiet, girl! I am well aware of what I witnessed - a brave young man killed in pursuit of an abomination!” Silver bellows, and if the gunshots had not been enough to rouse the house, there could be no ignoring that - so Sarah is not surprised to see Mr Craven emerging from the house at pace, bleary eyed and tugging a robe around himself.
“What is the meaning of all this? Blanton, Talia, what is going on?” He asks, shooting concerned looks at his daughter and the body on the ground behind her.
“We have a killer, an abomination, a witch in our midst, Craven,” Blanton spits before Tally can speak, “and I don’t intend to let that stand.”
Sarah sees William's eyes widen slightly, and his gaze falls to her, confusion abounding. While Blanton would sooner bring out the mob with pitchforks and torches than listen to any reasoning, William must know that his wife and daughter are witches themselves. “He would have killed Tally. I was simply quicker off the draw,” Sarah explains bluntly, though when Tally shivers at the words she cannot help but draw her close with a hand seated low in the curve of her spine.
“So you do not deny it, witch?” Silver growls, face mottled with apoplectic rage. His was a mask of hatred that Sarah has seen many times before, and like a lead balloon, the realisation of what likely must happen sinks in Sarah’s stomach.
She sighs, and gives a half shrug to the man seething before her. “I will not defend my actions, Silver, what good would it do me when I know it would fall on deaf ears regardless?”
“We’ll see what the police have to say about all this!” He hisses in reply, and marches back towards the house muttering darkly to himself as he goes.
William runs a hand through his hair, clearly unsure of what it is he is supposed to do next - stay or go. “Is what you say true? You did this in defence of my daughter?” He asks, gesturing loosely to Buttonwood. She would have done it even before he had decided to turn his weapon on the most precious person in the world to her, but even still, to kill him was to remove a violent force from Tally’s life, and the life of the Saint girl also.
“Yes.” Sarah replies, feeling Tally’s heart racing beneath her palm, “That is not the entire reason, but it is the truest sense of it, yes.”
He wrestles with this for but a moment before nodding, a short sharp bow of the head, as he has seemingly made up his mind on the subject. Sarah can feel her own heart thumping against her ribs as she considers the consequences of his disapproval. “Then I owe you a debt of gratitude, General Alder. I will see it repaid,” he vows, solemn, and Sarah is rather certain he will not be able to make good on that promise; not when she will not be able to stay.
“Perhaps.” She smiles without intention, and William cups Tally’s cheek in his hand before racing off after his business partner.
The moment he is gone, Tally rounds on her, a too knowing look in her eye. “ Don’t you dare. If you are so much as thinking of suggesting that you are going anywhere alone, you had best think again immediately.” Sarah huffs a quiet laugh, and shakes her head. No, there could be no life here or anywhere else without Tally.
“I was not even considering it, truly. I have learnt my lesson. I would not leave you unless the goddess herself takes me,” she says, allowing some of the deep affection she holds for the young woman to bleed into her expression, tucking a lock of red hair behind a delicate ear.
“Even then,” Tally clarifies, tucking herself beneath Sarah’s chin and breathing her in. Sarah holds her tightly, and pointedly avoids thinking too deeply about the fact that they are perhaps out of time already.
“Even then. Unfortunately I cannot see a simple way out of this mess with Mr Silver, so I must ask you; if I said we must leave, tonight, would you come with me? I have seen what happens to our kind when the mobs come, and come they will. Would you love an outlaw, with nothing to her name but that which she has on her back?” Sarah asks, a whisper, a plea.
“As long as you are by my side, I will be the merriest outlaw in the country,” Tally whispers back, “I am sorry for all of this.” Many things Sarah had prepared herself to hear in response, but that is not one of them.
“You have nothing to apologize for my love, whatever would give you that impression?” She asks, lifting Tally’s chin so that they may speak to each other face to face. Tally shakes her head, dark eyes wet with tears waiting to fall, and Sarah’s lungs tighten at the sight of it.
“It is because of me that any of this has happened. Your home…” She sniffs, and Sarah’s heart breaks, “I am sorry to force you from it, that to love me you must lose something else that you love.”
“Oh, no, that is not your burden to carry - I have laid my own path, made my own decisions. Buttonwood forced my hand when he came here in the first place, and besides all of that,” Sarah soothes as best she can, wiping tears from Tally’s cheeks with gentle brushes of her thumbs, “I certainly regret nothing; I would do it all again for you.” And she would. In a heartbeat, without question, she would move mountains, fight the masses, leave her ancestral seat, if it meant she would have a love such as this for the rest of her time. The Alder line would perhaps disappear from the annals of history, the last heir disappearing in the night, but the heart of it would live on between them, the Lord and Lady Fort Salem would never see. Sarah cannot help but think that more than all the trinkets in the manor combined, that loving Tally would be the best monument to the memory of her family she could hope to present. Still, it does hurt her heart to think of those hallowed halls in the hands of any other - Anacostia would keep them empty for a time, the biddies too, but when they have been gone for years without a trace… then the vultures of Salem would get their due.
“You really must love me, to give up so much and receive only this,” Tally chuckles through her tears, and Sarah presses a kiss to the knuckles of her hand. Only . As though this is not more than she had ever thought to hope for.
“I am to be an almost penniless criminal on the run who cannot offer you even half as much as you would deserve; no dowry, no grand wedding, no land or titles. Just me, and all of my many, many faults. You must love me a great deal to want to be my wife knowing all of that.”
“It is a good thing that of all those things, the wedding, the dowry, all of it, the only thing I need is you. To be your wife is enough. To be loved by you is enough,” Tally grins wryly, playing with Sarah’s fingers where they are entwined with her own as she speaks, “Besides, we will find our feet. You will hunt or butcher, I will sew, and we will make a modest living. Not enough for staff or a grand house, but enough for a cottage somewhere perhaps, where we might live quietly content for the rest of our days.” She speaks of this imagined future with such tender affection that Sarah too can see it laid out before them; the cottage, humble but beautiful, with trellised roses by the door, honest work made easy by the prospect of returning to the love awaiting her. She ought to have married this woman the second they met, but seeing as that is no longer possible…
Tally blinks and her brow furrows, apprehensive for the first time since she agreed to accompany Sarah’s flight. “You wish to make our grand escape from witch persecution, for which you are willingly leaving Fort Salem, to live in the next town over?” She asks slowly, her confusion clear. Sarah laughs, overflowing with love for her.
“No, but I wish to marry you before I steal you away to parts unknown. Lowell happens to be a Gretna Green. We could marry without needing any other present, nor permission from anyone.” They would need to be gone, and long since, by the time William made it back. An unfortunate reality of their situation, for Sarah actually finds the man to be quite pleasant in his manner, and would have liked to go about it in the proper fashion. The notion of marrying Tally is a thrilling one to be sure; being allowed to hold her, love her, as openly as Sarah might like rather than stealing pockets of affection and hoping none would come across them would be wondrous.
The idea seems to affect Tally also, heat rising in her cheeks, she cocks her head coquettishly to one side, an intensity in the heat of her gaze that has Sarah’s own face heating in echo.
“If we make it by morning, we could marry tomorrow? You would be mine, and I would be yours, in every way that there is?” She demures, and Sarah nearly chokes at the implication therein - though to say it has not crossed her mind would be a blatant falsehood. The things she would give to kneel at the altar of her Lady wife and worship… well. Now is not the time for such things.
“ Yes ,” Sarah replies hoarsely, clearing her throat with a bit of embarrassment at how affected she must sound, “yes.” Tally is rather like a cat who got the cream, clearly pleased to have affected Sarah so, and Sarah cannot begrudge her it.
“Well then,” She asks brightly, “Where have you left your horse?”