It was a cold, snowy evening in London. The streetlamps were lit and all sorts of folk were bustling around with parcels and presents. Rayne Williams shuffled along the cobblestone streets, his bag full of parcels and his cane tapping along the streets with each step. He sighed as he searched for a cab.
His top hat gave him little protection from the falling flakes as he glanced up at the crescent moon. He grumbled as the roads became busier than before and he moved himself to the sidewalk, avoiding puddles.
There were a good 3 weeks left before Christmas and he felt rather pleased with himself getting his shopping done ahead of time. He soon spotted an empty cab and made eye contact with the driver. "Asper! Oh thank god you're here, I think my arms may have fallen off if I hadn't caught you." He smiled and hopped up into the cab, gently dropping the bag next to him.
"Evening Sir, always 'appy to see you." The young man replied. Rayne sighed, though he still had a smile on his face.
"How many times have I told you, boy, you can call me Rayne." He grinned, closing the door.
"Sorry sir, force of 'abbit." Asper replied. Rayne rolled his eyes.
"Very well, I believe you know where to go?" He asked, knowing the answer.
"Yes sir, 924, Giltspur street." Rayne nodded, and Asper smiled. "Well then off we go!" He snapped the reins of the horses, and Rayne gripped the seat, his eyes closing as he felt the carriage sway and bump against the stones.
"Wake me up when we get there if you please." He requested.
"Yes, sir." He heard before drifting off.
He awoke with a start, a few beads of sweat dotting his brow, and Asper gently shaking his arm." 'nother nightmare sir?" He asked tentatively. Rayne gently brushed his hand away and pulled out his handkerchief, wiping his forehead.
"It's nothing, not your concern." He said gently. Asper didn't look convinced but decided to leave it alone. Rayne grabbed his cane and limped out of the carriage, ignoring the boy's offer of help. He pulled out the bag and slipped it back into his other hand.
He looked up at his house with a fond smile. The man had bought the house after he'd been sent home from the navy with a large amount of money. He and his wife, Hiccup, had moved in as soon as possible. He'd soon picked up a job as an inland strategist, thanks to his experience, and he had been able to keep the house-made-home. Hiccup's work as a home business seamstress didn't hurt either. Between the pair of them, they'd hired a small staff and had successfully kept the place for just over 3 years now
He manoeuvred around the small bit of ice on the bottom step, and hobbled up to the cherry wood door, immediately seeing their maid waiting for him by the stairs, a rather suspicious smile on her face."Evening Poppy, any particular reason you look so smiley this evening?" He inquired as she came forward, taking off his overcoat. He looked around for their housekeeper, they were usually the one waiting for him.
"You could say that sir." The young girl replied. Rayne's pondering was abruptly interrupted by the sound of a hearty laugh and a soulful giggle. Both were all too familiar. He now understood why Poppy was smiling so brightly.
"If you'll excuse me." He muttered absentmindedly to the girl. He strolled into the drawing room, sighing in contentment at the sight before him. Hiccup and his brother, James, sitting in front of the fireplace, laughing heartily at a story Aleks was telling them.
"Are you serious, right in his lap?" James chortled. Aleks nodded.
"Right in his lap, poor Jem was startled beyond belief." They replied. Hiccup smiled, putting a hand to her mouth.
"Oh I must've been out, I'm sure I would have remembered- Oh! Dear, you're home." She turned around and tried to hold in her giggles at the sight of her husband. Rayne rolled his eyes, knowing exactly what Aleks was speaking of.
A few days ago, one of their cats, Jem, had been up on his desk, right there with a cup of tea. She'd accidentally knocked it over and the tea had fallen into his lap, scalding him and causing him to yell out. So obviously Jem had been startled and had proceeded to run out into the hallway, yowling and alerting Aleks to the situation.
The three of them were trying to hold back their laughter.
"Oh go ahead, it is rather amusing." He chuckled, achingly sitting down in his chair, putting the bag on the table. At the sound of his permission, they burst out laughing once more. Once they'd finally got hold of themselves, Rayne looked at his brother."James, might I ask what you're doing here so early?" He inquired. James sat up straight.
"Well if you must know, brother dear. I've been offered a position as a detective of Scotland Yard," James replied, a smug smile spreading across his face. James had been wanting a position there for years.
As children, they'd argued which was better, sailors or detectives. James would always claim that he'd won the argument, as would Rayne, though neither truly won. Rayne had been ecstatic when their mother had finally allowed him to enlist in the Queen's navy. But now, Rayne would rather join Hiccup in sewing than going back into the fray.
"Oh James, that's wonderful, about time if you ask me." Hiccup smiled fondly. She and James had gotten along since the day they'd met, an immense relief for Rayne. "So, does this mean you'll be staying with us?" She asked, an excited twinkle in her eye.
"Quite the contrary, I've found a place on Chiswell street." He replied. Hiccup and Rayne's eyes darkened, but they were still happy.
"Well, that's a lovely place." Rayne grinned."I'm sure now it ought to be easier for you to visit. Especially with Christmas coming up." He leaned heavily on his cane and stood; James stood across from his brother.
"That it will," He replied, smiling and sticking out his hand. Rayne clasped it and shook it."I'm sorry to leave so soon, but I have a great deal of unpacking to do. And unfortunately, Payton is still in Bloomsbury, so I'll quite literally be doing the heavy lifting myself." He chuckled. Hiccup stood and hugged him.
"I suppose we'll see you on the 25th, yes?" She smiled and pulled back. James nodded.
"I should hope so." He replied jokingly. Rayne grinned and saw Poppy loitering in the door, still smiling.
"Poppy, would you please show our guest out?" He asked. She jumped a little, startled by the acknowledgement.
"Uh, yes sir, right away sir." She nodded and went to fetch James' coat. The soon to be detective smiled and sauntered back into the front hall, Aleks trailing behind him as they prattled on about lord knows what. Rayne sighed and sank back down in his chair, finally allowing himself to relax. He put his leg up on the ottoman and looked up at Hiccup, a smile on his face. He loved his brother, but nothing beat spending some time alone with his wife. They'd been married a good 12 years now. Married at the age of twenty, after leaving their own arranged engagements.
"Soooo.." Hiccup prompted her husband, glancing at the parcels on the table."What have we got here?" She asked, pretending to reach towards them. Rayne only laughed and gently pushed her hand away.
"Patience dear, patience. You know the rules, only surprises-"
"Unless from both of us." She smiled in return."Alright, alright, if you insist." She sat back down."But truly, how were the shops?" She rested her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands.
The woman was almost always busy sewing away at dresses and tailcoats, she barely had any time to go out. She made every bit of clothing she owned herself, she'd even made her own wedding dress. To that very day, it laid in their attic, in a trunk which all the things from their wedding resided. At least the things they wanted to keep.
With such a case, most of their friends believed Rayne was the one out and about, but really he only left the house for work. They'd usually send Grace and Poppy out together if they needed something. Since he'd been sent home, Christmas seemed to be the only time he'd go into town by himself. And whenever he did, Hiccup always wanted to hear everything.
The couple prattled on through the night, only standing to feed the fire when a sudden knock startled the pair. Rayne looked at his wife, then back at the entrance to the front hall.
"Poppy?...Aleks? Could you get that please?" He called.
"Um, dear, it might be a bit late for that." Hiccup chuckled as she looked at the clock. Rayne followed her gaze and saw the hands at 12.
"Oh, so it is." He blushed a bit, and the knocking sounded again, more urgent this time."It must be James, lord knows he's forgetful as a goldfish." He reluctantly picked up his cane, stood and limped towards the door."Alright, alright I'm coming." He sighed. He opened the door."You know you really ought...to..." His eyes widened. There, standing in front of him, were two small girls, one with a tiny boy on her back. Both were crying
"Please, please sir we need your 'elp!"