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Fic: Widdershins, part 1, The Eagle AU
brigante please
beederiffic
Title: Widdershins, part 1
Pairing: Esca Mac Cunoval/Marcus Aquila
Rating: NC-17
Length: 5k
Warnings: This is set in the 50s, so the language is and will be un-PC. Not that mine ever is...
Summary: The Eagle AU – Esca's a house master and history teacher at a 1950s boys school on the English/Scottish border, where welcoming the new Latin teacher proves to be a challenge
A/N: For awarrington, who deserves a treat ♥ I hope this turns into one.


This headache wasn't going away any time soon. Too much of Stewart's rancid homebrew last night was making sure of it. Esca allowed himself to close his eyes for one necessary second, fighting the urge to clout Nibbetts around the ear with his chalk duster for being such a thick, over-bred shit.

“No, Nibbetts. It was an asp. A. S. P. Cleopatra is not thought to have committed suicide by donkey.”

“But Mr. Mac, sir, is it true about the carpet? She got herself rolled up in a carpet to seduce Caesar? While, um, all in the nude, sir?”

A ripple of sniggers moved around his classroom like expanding circles on a pond in the rain, bouncing back to him as he leaned back in his desk chair and fixed them all with the stare every one of his boys understood meant they were pushing it too far, and that today was not the day to poke the tiger's cage.

“Quiet down. That's a reasonable question, Mr. Nibbetts. Sources seem to agree that she smuggled herself past her brother's guards to meet with Caesar, but it's Plutarch, writing over a hundred years later, who provides us with the account of the carpet. Impossible to know at this time if that's the truth or simply a romantic piece of myth-making. She bore Caesar a child nine months after that first meeting, though, so the matter of her clothing may still be in question.”

The room transformed into a sea of rounded eyes, awkward coughs and flushed cheeks as twenty desks of twelve year old boys considered for the first time the fact that people were having sex two thousand years ago. In the nude. Carpet optional.

“Maybe we could read some Plutarch, sir, in Classics, sir?” Edwards. A boy on a partial scholarship. Bit of a know-it-all, over-keen and unpopular with the others, not quite as smart as he liked to think. “If Nobby ever gets around to replacing Nasher. Perhaps we could read it in the original Latin for the test, sir?”

“Plutarch was Greek.” Yeah, got that one wrong, you smarmy bugger. “Later translated into Latin. And please refer to your headmaster by his correct name, or I'll have to put you on report.”

“I heard Mr. Knobs already replaced Nasher. Uh, I mean, Mr. Parnasher.” Mikie Jones-Faston, a cheeky sod and one of Esca's favourites. Not that he'd ever let on to it. Smaller and skinnier than the others, popular and chatty, with a cut-glass accent that didn't belong in a second-rate school like this one. “He's given the job to some dago.”

“What, an eye-tie? There's no way Nobb- Mr. Knobs would have some wop teaching Latin.” Bruiser Cairns, the tallest boy in the second form, a proto-bully and a nasty piece of work in the making. “You're telling fibs.”

“It's true. Mummy's appalled.”

“That's enough, Bruiser, Mikie. We're not here to listen to second-hand gossip.”

It came out sharper than Esca had intended it to, Mikie biting his lip and nodding, hanging his head after shooting a 'What crawled up Mr. Mac's bum now?' look to his desk mate. Esca checked his watch, the need for a cup of tea with a smoke and preferably a good single malt chaser itching around his veins as he unpeeled his tongue from his teeth and forced himself to concentrate.

“And we're getting off subject. This is not Classics, this is History, of the ancient and exotic variety. Cleopatra, gentlemen, was the Marilyn Monroe of her day, a superstar who had men falling at her feet. Who said of her, 'She was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one. Being brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate everyone . . .'?”

A room full of blank stares regarded him.

“Anyone? You truly are an ignorant bunch. Okay, well, let's make that your prep. Library time. Find some interesting near-contemporary quotes about Cleopatra, and we'll have a go through them tomorrow, trying to separate fact from fiction. I'm letting you out a few minutes early. Make the most of it.”

As usual, not a soul questioned the early let-out, a rabble of hastily-grabbed books and dusty heels exiting the room fast as Esca finally gave into temptation and closed his eyes without a single intention of opening them again for five minutes.

“Out early again? Better not let Nobby hear.”

He kept his eyes closed, recognising the voice coming from the open doorway. This headache was all Stew's fault anyway. “It's only five minutes.”

“Kettle's on, I've got half an hour before I'm due out for rugger. Though you look like you're in need of something stronger. Time for a wee nip?”

“Now you're talking.” The tinny sound of Stew unscrewing his hipflask was perhaps the one thing that could make Esca pry his eyelids apart. “Hand it over.”

Ugh. If it took him however many years he was stuck in this pit of a school, Esca would break Stewart of his detestable Highland Cream habit if it killed him. “This is pigs swill. What happened to that Laphroaig I got you for Christmas?”

“We finished it off at New Years.”

“Pity.”

One more throat-searing gulp and Esca handed it back, leaning forward to shove Stew's gym-suit clad hip off his desk so he could start to gather up his notes. This was why he liked Stew. Not simply because they were the only two masters under the age of forty, but because he always arrived with the accompaniment of grain alcohol. He also had an never-ending supply of cigarettes, normally confiscated from a huddle of boys found in a far corner of one of his wind-gusted sports fields.

“You got a smoke? I'm out. Got to get to the village later, if the weather holds. Gloria can't handle more than an inch of snow.”

“Absolutely, so long as you're okay with one of Fitzherberts senior's mother's du Mauriers. Perfect for a dainty girl like yourself.”

Esca took the crumpled pack from where Stewart took it out of his sports coat. “Ta. And, for that side swipe, I'm suddenly busy Saturday evening.”

“Aw, now, Mac, c'mon.” Stew's even features rearranged themselves into an aghast expression of deep woe. “It's taken me all year to get Janice warmed up for a night out.”

“And your prep won't supervise itself.” Esca pulled an ashtray and matches out of his desk drawer, lighting his cigarette then taking a draw before blowing out a smoke ring. “Looks like it's going to be a long, cold winter.”

“Okay, okay, bide your heid. You're a braw, halesome brither, a true gent and a good friend.” A heavy hand on his shoulder, beseeching eyes staring piteously into his. “The best. Who would never dream of letting his pal down in his time of need.”

“Alright, you're forgiven, I'll do it. Perish the thought that I deny you a second of Janice's ample charms.”

“I'm nearly in there. So close. Heads will roll if anything screws this up now.”

The headmaster's new secretary had proved surprisingly resistant to Stew's advances, considering the sports master was the closest thing Cranholme would ever get to a good hunk of beefcake. Esca certainly wouldn't kick him out of bed on a cold night, if Stew ever showed an inkling for anything other than tits. He tucked his papers under his arm, stubbing out his smoke and placing his ashtray back in his desk, pocketing the matches along with the rest of the Fitzherbert du Mauriers.

“Kettle must've boiled by now. Don't know about you but I'm gasping.”

“Bet you a pound Liz has already pinched the last biccie.”

“Forget it, those odds are terrible.” Esca followed Stew through his classroom door, turning to lock it behind him. “Blast, I almost forgot – Have you heard anything about a new Latin master? Apparently Mrs. Jones-Faston's heard we're getting an Italian.”

“A wop? Naw. Can't see Nobby going for that, or it going down well with the rest of the faculty. Look on the bright side, though – it'd give MacDougal that final push into a heart attack.”

“Apparently Mummy's appalled.”

“As would we all be. Including, I might add,” Stew poked Esca's shoulder with the flask. “You.”

“It would certainly be . . .” He searched for an appropriate adjective as swarms of boys started to flood out of the neighbouring classrooms when the bell rang. Horrifying would suit, perhaps. Murderous. Repulsive. Deplorable. “It would be difficult.”





“And, hang on . . .” Esca counted out the cash from his trouser pocket. “Six packs of Woodbines. Christ only knows when I'll make it back out here if the weather turns. I'll put the chocolate back.”

“Nonsense, Mr. MacCunoval, I'll put it on the slate for you till next month. You're a far better risk than your colleagues, I'll give you that.”

“You're a saint, Miss Anderson.”

He flipped through to the weather report in his newspaper as the shopkeeper started to wrap his other purchases in a thick layer of brown paper. Looked like the unseasonal mild spell was definitely coming to a close, the snow storm promised by the low-lying, dirty yellow clouds hanging over the village forecast to hit the coast by the end of the day. The wind outside bit at his face through his scarf, and his hands through his threadbare gloves as he wrestled the parcel into Gloria's wicker basket, a muddy puddle frozen solid under his feet as he moved to swing a leg over the crossbar. Any snow would be with them for a month or two. Last year he'd promised himself that it would be his final winter somewhere this bleak, but still, here he was, struggling with his recalcitrant bicycle as a frigid gust threatened to blow him off into the street.

“Mr. MacCunoval! Oh, thank goodness you're here!”

Drat. Esca checked his watch, the wind wriggling up his coat sleeve as he did so. It was only just past half three, but the dark was already setting in and last time he'd cycled home from the village at night, admittedly after a long session at the pub on pay day, he'd hit a fence and flipped over it into a cowpat. Plus he'd miss supper if he was too much longer.

“Afternoon, Mrs. Carmichael.” The village pub's landlady. It wouldn't do to be anything other than polite to her, considering the living nightmare he'd be in if he was ever barred from the one pub within a twenty mile radius. “Getting nippy, eh?”

“I've got a man for you! In the pub.”

Esca blinked at her, taking in the wind-whisked grey hair and tightly-wrapped cardigan, the anxious expression. A man for him? Unlikely, to say the least. “Beg pardon?”

“A man. For Cranholme. His car's broken down, and Jimmy's still off at his sister's. I didn't know what to do with him till I saw you out the window.” Her mouth folded in on itself in disapproval, a twisted, puckering cat's arsehole of disdain. “I haven't been able to get hold of Mr. Knobs on the phone. That Janice is a, well, I'm a God-fearing woman and won't say of her what others might, but a good secretary is not one of the things I'm not saying.”

“I don't know if we're expecting anyone, Mrs. C.” But he leaned Gloria back against the shop's railings, grabbing his parcel and offering an arm. “Plus I'm not sure Gloria's up to another passenger.”

“You can take a look at his car. Perhaps you can push-start him?”

“I know as much about cars as I suspect you do, but I'll do what I can.”

“Of course you will. Soon as I saw you, I thought to myself, Esca MacCunoval'll come through.” She squeezed his elbow through his coat. “You're a good wee lad underneath.”

It made him smile. Even though he stood a good head above her, Mrs. Carmichael and all the other ladies of the village persisted in seeing him as the boy he'd been way back. Ten years and a Cambridge education hadn't changed a thing in their eyes. Nothing ever changed around here. He ducked down to follow her through the tiny pub door, the heat of a roaring log fire hitting him in the face as he did so, the wind rattling the door behind him as he latched it and pulled off his gloves, tucking them into his coat pockets.

“So, where's our stranded traveller?”

“In the lounge. He's polishing off the last of my pie.”

“Lucky devil.”

The scent of Mrs. C's famous steak and ale pie snaked into his nostrils, hints of dried thyme and bay in the rich smell of meaty gravy and flaky pastry, Esca's mouth beginning to water. That pie was legendary, and seldom lasted beyond Sunday nights. It'd perfect with a foamy pint, maybe a few pork scratchings, and a pickled onion, too. Lunch seemed like it had been days ago.

“He's lucky he caught me. I heard him pounding on the door just as I was running my bath. Would you mind terribly if I got back to it? Last of the hot water, and I was hoping to get my hair washed and dried before opening.”

“Of course not.” He gave her his most charming smile, the one usually reserved for the mothers at Parents Day. “Providing I can help myself to a Glenmorangie on the house.”

“Och, get on with you. A small one, mind. You MacCunovals could drink a poor woman out of business . . .”

Her voice trailed off, her eyes going soft with pity as she turned back towards him, reaching out to touch his arm. “Me and my silly old mouth. Sometimes we all forget –”

“It's fine. Sometimes I do, too.” He patted her hand, needing to eradicate the pity she was still sending his way. “Go. I'll get our traveller sorted out.”

Not much of a silhouette was coming through the lounge door's patterned glass panel, the pub's lights turned off and little more than a dull glow coming through the windows now, a flickering fire emanating from the small wood burner within. Esca ducked through, clearing his throat as he pulled his hat off, placing it with his parcel and scarf on one of the lounge's polished tables.

“Hullo? Anyone in here? Mrs. C seemed to think you were in need of rescue.”

A man got up from a chair by the bar. Then carried on getting up, Esca fighting to keep his mouth from dropping open as the man appeared to keep standing until his head was hovering up near the pub's oak roof beams. This was a man mountain. A handsome, muscular and, as the traveller smiled and held out a hand in greeting, exquisitely chiseled man mountain. One even more mouthwatering than the last slice of Mrs. Carmichael's steak pie, this one all wrapped up in a tailored silk shirt. His knees getting as weak as other parts of him were all of a sudden not, Esca couldn't prevent a curse spilling from his lips as he stared up at the man in complete shock, a huge, warm hand enveloping his in a handshake.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Not quite.” That smile was making the not-weak parts of him less weak by the second. Thank God he hadn't taken his coat off yet. “I'm Marcus. Thank you for coming to my rescue.”

“Oh. Uh, well, I haven't actually rescued you yet. I'm from Cranholme. I understand you were headed our way?”

Whisky. Now. Lots of. Esca dropped the hand in his and walked around to the bar, shrugging out of his coat now the bar was shielding him from the waist down. Then he grabbed a glass and the nearest bottle of anything strong.

“Cranholme school? Yes. I'm due to begin a new post there, but my car engine failed half a mile out of this village and I am not familiar with English engines.”

Esca threw back two fingers of gin so fast his eyes watered, pouring himself another as the man mountain eased himself back onto his stool. “English engines? As opposed to . . . ?”

Don't say Italian. Don't be the fabled Italian. The accent wasn't strong, but something was there, something sickening, pale gold skin unnaturally tan for this time of year, green eyes narrowing at him as Marcus's lips pursed in a perfect, plump moue.

“If I tell you, you may no longer wish to rescue me.”

“Perhaps you don't need to tell me.” One more gulp of liquor, which would hopefully settle the churning mix of nausea, growing anger and helpless lust that was boiling in his gut. “But answer me this – are you our new Latin master?”

Marcus lifted his glass of beer, raising it in a gently mocking manner. “Veritas Vos Liberabit.”

The truth will set you free. Esca remembered that much from his school days. He watched Marcus drink from his pint pot, Esca's mouth dry with the desire to lick the thin strip of foam off that biteable top lip in the second before Marcus raised a hand to wipe it away. Esca's impulse disgusted him down to his bones.

“Shall we take a walk to my car, while the light remains? If you don't mind. A boost should get it moving, then I'll follow you back.”

Esca snorted at the idea of Marcus faithfully trying to trail Gloria's usual haphazard route over the hills, and he recapped the gin, placing it back on the pub's bar shelf, leaving his glass in the washing-up bowl. “I think we'd be better off with you pushing while I steer. I'm not sure I could shift a car an inch with you in it.”

“Perhaps we will manage it together.”

“Suppose so.”

Tall, handsome, and lazy, it seemed, because Esca felt sure Marcus would be strong enough to shift a butcher's van if he so chose to. Then Marcus stood, leaving a pound note in grateful overpayment on the bar before pulling on his coat, again in a impeccable cut that followed the strong, lean line of his body to perfection. Then he picked up a trilby to perch at a flawless angle to set off those cheekbones, a pair of leather driving gloves from the bar, and a bone-topped cane that had been leaning, unnoticed, against his bar stool.

“I am ready, if you are. I am afraid I can't walk too fast, so you will have to dawdle beside me.”

Oh. So the cane wasn't for show. Marcus leaned heavily on it as he turned to follow Esca out of the pub, his gait awkward and unbalanced, his leg held rigidly straight under the expensive suit trousers. The walking wounded weren't exactly unusual since the war, but it was unexpected on someone so huge, so seemingly invulnerable. Esca disguised his surprise by tearing open a pack of Woodbines, offering one to Marcus, who shook his head with a polite smile.

“No, thank you.”

“D'you mind if we make a quick stop to pick up Gloria?”

“Your wife?”

“She likes to think so, but no. My push bike.”

Those green eyes shone in an entirely disturbing manner when lit up with humour. “You have named your bicycle? Which believes it is married to you?”

“It's a joke. A Latin one, actually. You know, as in Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

“'Thus passes the glory of the world'? I am uncertain that I understand . . .”

Out of automatic good manners, Esca held the pub door open for Marcus, who had to fold his frame near in two to get through the small exit. He wasn't the tallest man Esca had ever encountered, but he was big. Solid. Broad. Looked like he'd shrug off a cannon ball fired directly into his stomach, like the Strong Man Esca had seen at the circus once as a little boy. It'd had made a lasting impression on a seven year old Esca, along with his brothers, who'd thrown rocks at each other for two weeks afterwards until their ma had put a stop to it.

“I should've said a bad joke. She's my only form of transit, and, after a small bump I took last year, is most definitely sick.”

He hadn't expected an Italian, of all people, to get it. After all, none of his few friends thought it was entertaining. But a dry chuckle warmed his neck from behind, and Esca turned his collar up against that more than the cold, the wind once more winding around him as he moved slow enough for Marcus to keep up.





“Try it now. Ah, fuckit!”

The match burned all the way down, burning his oil-stained fingers as Esca swore and sucked on their tips after carefully tossing the smoldering stub of matchstick out onto the field rather than letting it drop. He could hear the engine making heroic attempts at starting, Marcus sitting inside the car repeatedly turning the key, but the night was fully on them now, the dark of the open fields surrounding the village's one bumpy road wrapping them in total silence, and the car was dead.

“Okay, that's the last of my car know-how worn out. Last try before we head back to the pub. One more bump?”

He slammed the hood of Marcus's car down, opening the passenger door once more as Marcus climbed out of his, both of them placing a shoulder against the car's frame to push. Marcus had been less than useless with pushing the car, his one good leg sliding about in the icy grasses without the other capable of providing some grip, but his head had came up proudly with an angry refusal soon as Esca had suggested he sit in the driver's seat while Esca tried to get them moving all by himself. Fine. Let the big stupid clod cripple himself further for no practical reason at all. Esca gritted his teeth and ground his heels down into the ice, pushing for all he was worth as the car slowly began to shift.

“We're moving! Faster, now. If we can get over the lip of the hill . . .”

Every tendon strained, every muscle screamed at him as he pushed harder still, grunting with the effort, his own feet slipping and sliding from under him as he picked up speed. He heard a distressed yelp from the other side of the car, but couldn't look over to see how Marcus was coping. Besides, he wouldn't, his only focus to get the car up and running long enough to drive him back to his room and into a hot bath, if any hot water remained within the school's ancient plumbing systems. Only a few more feet, inches now, just a little further . . . One more Herculean shove and the car's front wheels tipped over the crest of the hill, Esca feeling the metal against his shoulder pulling away as it started to roll downwards.

“Quick, jump in! Marcus? Where – ? Ah, shit.”

Marcus was nowhere to be seen as Esca pulled away from the car long enough to glance over its roof. The moon was covered by the glowering clouds, but he could just make out a darker lump by the side of the black road. A big lump, possibly Marcus-sized. Esca swore, and ran a few paces to catch up with the car, throwing himself into the passenger seat, desperately reaching for the key and scrambling into the driver's seat to start the ignition and pump the clutch, swearing under his breath the entire time. It was only a short slope, and he was already halfway down it.

“Come on, come on, start, you bugger. I'm not carrying that big bastard all the way back to the village, come on . . . Yes, you beauty!”

The car coughed and chugged into life, Esca accelerating down the rest of the hill, the car's headlights picking out a turning onto a farm lane where he could turn around. He could hardly reach the pedals, his bum scooted forward to the edge of the driver's seat, Marcus's no doubt mile-long legs needing every inch of space inside, but he didn't dare stop the car yet to adjust anything. He edged the car back and forth to turn around, the muddy lane icy, the car's wheels spinning whenever he tried to move with too much speed, instead inching his way around until he could get back onto the road and up to Marcus, every instinct inside him telling him instead to floor the accelerator and leave a six foot problem behind to freeze solid overnight.

Marcus turned out to be the Marcus-sized lump in the road, struggling to get to his feet while clutching at his thigh and flinching in the headlights as Esca approached him. Esca jumped out, leaving the car running as he pushed a shoulder under Marcus's arm and helped him up.

“Did you take a small tumble back there?” He wouldn't ask if Marcus was okay. Good manners could only carry him so far, and the grimace of pain on the other man's face was horribly satisfying.

“Yes. My apologies, but I think you'll have to drive. I believe that my leg may be out of commission for the time being.”

“Right. Well, then. Better get you back to the San.”

Supporting Marcus's torso was like handling a slab of meat, not an inch of fat under the silk shirt where his coat had gaped open, his scent a mix of an unfamiliar cologne and bulky, muscular man.

“The San?”

“Cranholme's Sanotorium. Our medical wing, complete with a matron fresh out of your nightmares. It's easier to get blood out of a stone than an aspirin out of her medicine cabinet. Easy now.”

“Euch. Ah. Slowly, please.” Marcus let out several heartfelt winces through clenched teeth and Esca helped him down into the passenger seat, Marcus's knees almost at his elbows where the seat was too far forward. “Thank you.”

“Only a few miles now. I'd better take it slow, everything's icing up, plus I don't want Gloria to break free from the back.”

The snow was starting, slowly at first, a flurry or two in the headlights as Marcus managed to slide his seat back, cursing something in Italian as he straightened his leg out as much as he could.

“You're not bleeding or anything?”

“No, I don't think so. Just a muscle spasm.”

“Ah. Okay.”

Again, he wouldn't, couldn't comfort or commiserate. Besides, Esca had nothing to use as a tourniquet save his scarf, which was on its last legs as it was. The snow was falling more thickly now, Esca having to squint through the streams of white swirls to the dark road beyond, not wanting to deposit them both in a ditch. They drove on in silence, Marcus perhaps understanding that Esca needed to concentrate, or maybe he simply wasn't the chatty type. He'd grunt in pain every time they took a bump over a pothole, but that was pretty much it, and Esca didn't feel the need to make small talk with the first Italian he'd met in years. Not that Marcus looked that Italian. If it hadn't been for the soft, slight accent and careful English, he could've simply been a southerner, lost up north on his way to look at castles around Edinburgh. An outrageously handsome southerner, admittedly, and you didn't get many of those around Cranholme.

“If I'm not mistaken . . . ah yes, here we go. Cranholme School for Boys. Cuad mile failte.

“Excuse me? I don't understand.”

“A thousand welcomes.” And that's it, because you're unlike to get them off of anyone else, or any more off me. “I'll park 'round by the San and find a couple of older boys to help you in.”

He pulled up beneath the San's external light, turning off the car, the windscreen blanketed with a fluffy layer of snow within seconds now the wipers had stopped moving.

“Thank you, once more. It appears that you have now officially rescued me. One moment . . .”

Green eyes glinted at him from beneath the over-hanging brows, a thumb reaching up to brush against Esca's bottom lip. For one brief, perfect moment, he allowed the caress, before horror settled in and he jerked away, smacking Marcus's hand from his mouth, sudden fury colouring his words.

“Get your paw off me. I don't know how you do things back in Italy, but here, that's –”

“Grease. From the engine, over your mouth.” Marcus held up his thumb for inspection, smeared thickly with black oil. “I'm sorry, I should have said. I didn't mean to cause offense.”

“Oh.” Marcus's touch continued to burn on Esca's lip, and he pulled out his handkerchief, ostensibly wiping away the rest of the grease, but scrubbing harder still to remove the memory of that fleshy pad of skin stroking across his mouth. “Just let me know next time.”

“Of course.”

“Well, I'll go, uh, get two lads to come help you in, then I'm going to go see if I can persuade some leftovers out of Cook. Stay put. I'll fetch Gloria in the morning if we're not snowed in. Don't trouble yourself.”

As if Marcus would be going anywhere in this snow with that leg in a hurry, but Esca needed to get away from him. Perhaps scrubbing his mouth with wire wool might get the feel of that thumb off him, because his hankie wasn't doing a blasted thing.

“Wait.”

The snow felt like it was sizzling as it melted on his over-heated cheeks, the winds howling around him like demons chasing at his heels as Esca turned on the spot, looking back to where Marcus was slowly working himself out of his car, pulling himself upwards to hold out a hand to Esca once more.

“I don't know the name of my saviour. That seems to be an oversight on my part.”

“Of course, I never said.” Esca couldn't shake the man's hand again. Not now that he knew what Marcus was. “I'm Esca MacCunoval, the whole of Cranholme's history department, and House Master of North House. Speaking of which, I've got thirty boys to get to bed.”

“Then thank you one last time, Esca Mac . . .”

“Cunoval.”

Marcus withdrew his unshaken hand, his face serious as snowflakes landed in a gleaming coronet on top of his hair. “Esca MacCunoval. I am in your debt.”

“Not at all.”

Call me Mac, everyone else does. He couldn't bring himself to speak the words, or even a good night. He settled for a curt nod, and then he was marching away, almost running, his feet slipping in the snow. The clouding flakes swallowed him in a swirling silence, wrapping him up in the glass ball of his own personal snow globe, until he could almost believe that his enemy hadn't presented itself to him today in the kind of form he'd been dreaming about since he'd sat as a seven year old at his father's side, watching the circus Strong Man take a cannon ball to the gut without so much as a gasp.



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Oh, I'm loving this so far! The whole set up with the boys' school - it took me a while to figure out the time period. :) The whole meeting with Marcus was intriguing, with Esca's clear disdain for Marcus, due to his Italian heritage clear, though no idea why, yet he very clearly found him attractive! Also, I love all the period details you've included. I can't wait to read more of this! :)

Oh, thank CRAP for that! If you weren't going to enjoy this, there was zero reason for me to write it.

No pressure ;)

This is wonderful! I am very intrigued as to why Esca seems to hate Italians so much and whether or not it ties in with Esca apparently having no family left. I love how torn Esca is already with regards to Marcus - the way he is both attracted to him and almost repulsed by him at the same time. Also, your imagery is very evocative.

Okay, last try before I give up and admit that I can't type at 1am:

Whee! Another reader! I was sure Amanda was going to be my sole reader/commenter, which would be fine, but extra is a total treat. I'm so pleased you're enjoying it as writing a new pairing's always so nerve wracking.

And thanks for reccing me to Seascribe! You're a doll <3

(Deleted comment)
Ooh! Thank you so much, I adore the movie and have watched it many times now thanks to awarrington, but it's a new pairing for me to write so it's great to see you like my Esca. REALLY great.

I'm going to try to update at least once a week, twice if possible.

Wow, that's just amazing! The amount of detail you out into the story, how tactile and real it all seems! And Esca is so real as well, he's full of flaws but they only make him more human :) Marcus, on the other hand, looks like he's such a nice guy, so impressive too, and you can almost feel the regret Esca feels for the fact that he *has to* hate him...

(I promised not to offer any sexual favours for this but oh I would, I would)

This is wonderful, utterly wonderful. The language detailed, painstakingly thought out and so beautifully lush. Feels like a sepia photograph with juicy colours seeping through somehow.

I do love your Esca, who favours cheeky little sods over know-it-alls, names his bike (I do that too!) and could drain a house out of gin.

Your Marcus is absolutely stunning and above all, Italian. I have such a sweet soft spot for Italian!Marcus and we get him so rarely in the fandom that whenever he appears so wonderfully drawn it's a true gem.

MY UTTER LOVE FOR THIS *SIGH* REALLY.



Amanda pointed me in your direction and although I will admit to being chiefly a bookverse gal, I was hooked after your first scene and now I am off to read part 2! It's the dialogue that does it for me, I think - so full of character and humour... and all the little period details are beautifully researched. (Plus the awful weather rings very very true - I lived in the Scottish Borders for several years before fleeing to the south coast of England!)

This is brilliant! Amanda recc-ed it to me (and told me about our previously twin titles ;-)). I'm really enjoying it so far, and very pleased to hear you'll be updating regularly. Off to read Part 2...

THIS IS THE FIC OF MY HEART AND I COULDN'T POSSIBLY LOVE YOU MORE FOR MAKING IT HAPPEN. *throws flowers and lace panties at your feet*

Oh, I am really enjoying this so far. Perfect setting.

So Amazing! Gah, I love your Esca, such a bitch. :)

The clouding flakes swallowed him in a swirling silence, wrapping him up in the glass ball of his own personal snow globe, until he could almost believe that his enemy hadn't presented itself to him today in the kind of form he'd been dreaming about since he'd sat as a seven year old at his father's side, watching the circus Strong Man take a cannon ball to the gut without so much as a gasp.


GAH! Beautiful, I'm loving this!

Superb! Brilliant! I love the way you've set up Esca's automatic dislike, on the basis of Marcus' ancestry, on contrast to his automatic attraction, on the basis of Marcus' looks and demeanor. Can't wait to read the next chapters!!!

Just to say that I'm a third of the way into the first chapter, and already grinning like a fool. This is everything I didn't know I wanted <3

THIS IS SO MUCH GENIUS. MY BRAIN HAS EXPLODED.

I'm kind of caught up in other crazy fannish activities at the moment, but am bookmarking this and will read (and feedback) the whole series when it is complete. Jesus Christ, this is brilliant. You are brilliant. It all feels so authentic and lovely and real, and I can actually hear the characters speak, it's amazing.

Thank you so much for writing this.

Hello! I've created a few single document files of this story so that I could transfer it to my Kindle. If you'd like to share them with others, you're welcome to. PDF, RTF, and MOBI files are located at mediafire here.

Looking forward to the read!

Oh, you are awesome. *snatches PDF for offline reading later*

And to the author: I promise to be back with feedback later. : )

This is brilliant! I'm really enjoying it! Here because of the art at AO3 that mentioned it this fic :)

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