Edward swallowed nervously as Bill trotted up the path to Jopson’s small cottage.
There were those damn sheep grazing on the hill, each one of them turned their eyes to look at him with a dumb stare as soon as they saw him.
Thomas had invited him to have dinner with him and the former naval captain, Francis Crozier. The man had basically become Jopson’s surrogate father in a way, the man caring a great deal for him.
He himself had never met the man, but he’d heard a lot about him.
The Irish captain had served with his friend Sir James Clark Ross on an Antarctic exploration at one point.
As Bill came to a slow toward the front stoop Edward saw something out of the corner of his eye, a flash of white that disappeared around the corner.
What the hell? Were those damn sheep causing trouble again?
Huffing he dismounted Bill and began to walk around the corner of the house.
As soon as his eyes settled on the sight before him his jaw fell open in shock.
There was a large white goose in it’s beak it was dragging a bottle of wine through the dirt and grass.
A nice bottle of wine too.
Beast held the neck of the bottle between it’s great bill as it hurried as fast as it could with the thing.
“Shoo! Get out of here!” Edward shouted waving his arms.
The goose suddenly looked at him, and for a moment he thought he saw his death coming.
Both of them stared at each other for a long time until finally the goose dropped the bottle and charged at him, wings flapping and hissing and honking at him.
What in the world!?!
He didn’t even want to find out what would happen if he didn’t move, so he moved alright, he was sprinting in the other direction!
The damn thing was chasing him too!
Scrambling back around the corner he was too busy looking over his shoulder to pay attention and ran smack into a firm chest.
“Oof!” the collision took his breath from his chest and he stumbled back falling on his arse.
Loud clacking of horseshoes filled his ears and Bill came rushing past him in a blur of black, the large horse rearing up and stomping it’s hooves at the goose who promptly started going at Billy’s ankles.
The horse snorted and gave the bird a good kick and that was the end of that, the damn thing scurrying up the knoll to join the sheep.
It turned back around and Edward could have sworn that demon goose was staring into his soul.
Glancing back up he saw a very tall man, graying blonde hair and the most piercing blue eyes he’d ever seen. He wore an off-white shirt partnered with a black waist coat that had a silver chain attached in the front and a pair of dark trousers, black boots that looked to be from the navy.
A handsome man, in that rugged, explorer type of way.
“Ye must be Mr Little I keep hearin’ so much about.” the man gruffed.
Oh good God this man was intimidating.
“I.. ahm… yes… yes, sir!”
The man laughed, a raspy smokers kind of laugh and a large hand reached down to help him up and after a moment of hesitance he took it allowing the man to help him to his feet.
“Not to worry, lad. I shan’t bite you. Francis Crozier.” the man introduced himself offering his hand to shake.
“Ah.. yes, Edward Little.” he replied, taking the man’s hand and blushing madly at having been chased by a goose of all things.
“Edward! Oh goodness are you okay!? That damn Terror, I can’t stand her!”
“Terror?” both men asked in unison.
Jopson nodded insistently as he checked him over, dusting off his waistcoat and fussing over him.
“The goose. That’s her name.”
Francis guffawed, “Thomas, you named a goose Terror?”
“Aye, Cap’n. That there be a terrible beast if there ever was one.” the younger man replied trying his best at a seafarer's accent which made Crozier laugh and Thomas smiled broadly before embracing him tightly.
‘Wow. This man truly makes him feel happy. I can see so much admiration in his eyes, goodness that smile...’
“I’m so glad you could come Edward!” he gushed with a beaming smile and his heart just melted.
This man was so cute. How he loved him.
Snapping from his surprise at the man who was Captain Francis Crozier, he smiled himself wrapping his arms around Thomas and kissing him tenderly.
Jopson returned the kiss gratefully, his hands reaching up to pet at his hair before he pulled away with sparkling eyes and that big sunbeam smile.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“How long have you been here?”
“Not long, I saw your… Terror.. dragging a bottle of wine away from the house.”
Thomas’s face turned to one of outrage and he shot a glare up at the goose on the hill who hissed at him with nothing but disdain.
“You’re the one who took the wine! You damn beast!!” he shouted before rounding the corner of the house to retrieve said item.
Both he and the former captain just stared where Jopson had just stood in surprise.
Had this happened before?
Does this happen often?
Once the younger man had returned Crozier clapped him on the shoulder with a rather benign smile, “You know, I know a good recipe for roast goose.”
Thomas tittered and he tugged on his wrist reassuringly to get him to follow them to the house.
~ - - - - - ~
“Lad, I haven't had a meal this grand since I was back home.” Crozier stated as he wiped his mouth with his napkin.
Jopson blushed a deep red, beginning to poke at chunk of beef in his own bowl of soup.
“It’s just soup, sir.” he uttered in a voice so very shy Edward actually laughed.
“Aye, that it is. Magnificent too.” the man repeated with a warm smile.
“So where is home, sir?” Edward asked taking a sip of the wine they’d recovered from that terrible goose.
Edward set the glass down with a delicate hand before he spoke again, Thomas was watching in interest as he tried to get acquainted with his guest. “That’s in Northen Ireland, is it not?”
“It is.” the man said with a nod.
“Family still there?”
At the words Francis laughed heartily, despite there being a sort of bitterness in his eyes. “Twelve siblings.”
Edward had dropped his spoon and Jopson sputtered on the broth and pounded on his own chest for a moment to help it down.