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The Grassy Knoll

Chapter Text

As one of the oldest Cotswold that make up this peaceful flock upon a fine green grassy knoll, Gerald had a mildly decent life.

Their shepherd a young man the other human’s called a range of names, sometimes ‘Tom’ or ‘Thomas’ or other times this weird preposterous thing called ‘Jopson’.

Whatever in all the finest lush grass a Jopson was, Gerald did not know. He knew what a Tom was though. There was a Tom among their flock, as well as a Dave, a Kevin, a Richard, a Betsy, a Jane, and a Matt (to whom they would all bleat and tease that he would be butchered and made into a matt) It was a sheep thing, Gerald couldn’t speak for the humans but he could speak for the sheep and he would admit that sheep had a surprisingly dark sense of humor.

Master Jopson was a kind and very gentle soul.

He always made sure their feed buckets were filled, that their coats were taken care of when it came time to a nice shave. Made sure that no mongrel dogs tore them to pieces, he was a nice crack shot with that strange wooden thing that he would point and aim at one of them wolves.

Never had he butchered any of their companions for meat but quite the opposite, if they were sick he would spend long hours be them night or day to help them drink water or mashed up food through a tubular thing that reminded Gerald of the beautiful pink teets on a ewe’s udder.

Yes, Master Jopson was a kind man that they all enjoyed being around.

Jopson was young in human ages, if his skin was anything to go by.

One of the things Gerald would never understand was how humans lived, yet alone how they could even look at themselves.

They were naked! All the time too!

Not the type of naked he or his fellow flock members would be deemed when their coats would be shaved off and picked up off the ground, often letting their bodies cool down from having such tedious coats for so long on summer days.

It was a different kind of indecency, they walked around all pink and pale not much hair on their bodies.

They were in his opinion quite ugly.

And the older they got the uglier they got, their pale skin becoming all wrinkly.

Master Jopson though, he had a sweet enough look to him. He was not very tall, Gerald had seen taller men before.

He had a length of black fur sprouting from the top of his head, he usually pulled the dark tendrils to the side away from his face as silly as it was since his face itself had short trails of fuzz that ran down form his ears against the sides of his head.

A pretty thing he usually did with his mouth that revealed white teeth and for reasons they were still trying to figure out, made them feel safe and happy to be around the human. He also had eyes that reminded Gerald of fresh spring grass covered in a light frost in its light color.

Still, ugly, but not bad. Gerald agreed to himself.

Such an appeal it was to have such nice hair and fuzz and a nice wooly coat.

How in the name of the Four Great Holy Goats did they not freeze to death?

Perhaps that was why they tended to wear things.

Similar to how the ewes had these cute pink little silky ribbons around their necks that Jopson would have to shoo the lambs away from suckling, since they do indeed love sucking on anything soft not just their mam’s.

Jopson lived alone on their little ranch since the passing of the female human who used to live here and take care of them, though he could recall seeing the man much younger in the house too.

Humans aged so very slowly.

Kevin bleated somewhere near the bottom of the hill and Gerald glanced over at him.

Company?

Today?

Oh fiddlesticks! Didn’t those two just get it on yesterday?

There was a horse trotting up the lane that led to the ranch, a man on top of it in a saddle.

Not him!

While Gerald’s life was mostly peaceful in the way of a Cotswold sheep, there were some things in his life in the current moment that he found unsavory, much like leaves that had lost their fresh taste as they had started to turn brown and crispy.

One of these things was the man that had been recently coming to see Jopson frequently, stealing all the man’s attention for hours and hours upon end.

He hadn’t been by for a month and Gerald had thought that their last tactic had scared the man off.

Matt with the help of Jane had come up to the man’s horse, a large dapple grey Barb stallion named Oscar. Oscar was a good sport, and he found the idea of tinkering with the man’s saddle to be quite funny and gave not a single fuss as the two sheep worked together to work with the strap that went underneath his belly.

As soon as Jopson’s guest decided to leave he found himself upside down with his feet caught in the stirrup, Oscar dragged the man about ten feet before he’d finally freed himself and thumped into the dirt to quickly roll out of the large horses way.

Of course they didn’t know anything about this misfortune as they continued to munch away, bleating loudly in between indulging on the grass.

Apparently it would take more than that to get rid of the man.

Gerald heard the infernal bang of that wooden abomination that led into the place where Jopson spent the most time when he wasn’t caring for them.

Jopson emerged onto the front stoop, he had a wide grin on his pale face as he hurried down the front stoop.

“Edward! Oh goodness, is this the new one I’ve heard so much about? Good Lord, what a beautiful horse!”

The man let out a low rumbling noise from his throat and now looking at the human Gerald did a double take.

He looked different! He… he… good lord how did he get such a fine dark wool coat upon his face!?

Thick dark hair bushed out on the sides of his head like their master’s except much thicker and wooly, he had hair above his mouth and around it, covering his face all he could make out were bits of pale skin, a white smile, and two big brown eyes.

‘Why does the man look like a sheep!? Is he mocking us!? This is an outrage!’

As the man continued to chuckle he brought the horse a magnificent all black Friesian stallion to a stop. Planting the end of a long limb in the stirrup firmly before he dismounted the large horse, he ran to Master Jopson and easily hoisted him off his feet with two strong arms and large hands that wrapped around his middle.

Master Jopson let out a shrill noise then a laugh and Gerald watched as the rest of the flock moved down in a group to the water bucket, clearly remembering as well as he about some of the awful things they had seen on the man’s prior visits.

“A lovely hello to you too Thomas! Gods how I’ve missed you!” the human, Edward, spoke low and warm.

Jopson reached his arms out, placing his hands on either sides of his face and feeling the thick wool that had grown there, before bringing his mouth to the other human’s.

Kevin, Matt, Richard, Jane, Betsy, Tom and Dave all bleated loudly and took a drink out of the bucket as was their ritualistic game they had made for every time the two human males showed each other affection.

Edward set Thomas back down on his feet smiling broadly before wrapping him into a tight locking hold with his arms, and Master Jopson returned the gesture.

His flock took two more long drinks out of their water bucket.

Gerald shook his head in disgust, humans were so strange.

When the two men parted from the other’s grasp, Edward flashed a wolfish grin, pointing over his thick shouldered body towards the black stallion waiting patiently.

“Want to meet Bill?”

Master Jopson bobbed his head enthusiastically and Gerald watched as they approached the large horse.

Jealousy burned deep inside the old Cotswold. How dare this human come and take their beloved Jopson’s attention away.

He had to go.

Chapter Text

Edward knew he should have sent a telegram or something to warn Thomas of his arrival back home. That horse fair was well worth the trip as far as he was concerned.

He’d gotten this beautiful Friesian stallion for a pretty penny but it was worth every bit of it.

Two years old. The previous owner had passed away and the family didn’t want to take on the responsibility, opting to sell the fellow’s ranch instead.

Willy was his name, but he also responded to Bill. Such an even tempered stallion there had surely never been before.

He came to a stop nice, waited patiently and didn’t need much of a tap to his sides to get him moving.

A great gentle beast really.

His grin broadened with each clack of Bill’s metal horse shoes upon the dirt pat that led to Jopson’s small sheep farm.

The lacking telegram would give the man quite a surprise, as he’d been training busy getting to work training Bill. He’d sent a couple letters to his lover regarding the new addition to their ranch, but not much else he’d been too busy.

In the pasture he could see the small flock of sheep grazing upon the knoll, a couple bleated at the new animal that had come onto their grounds to which Bill comically whinnied and shook his head tossing beautiful long tendrils of his mane about.

“You needn’t worry about them Bill, just don’t let them mess with the saddle.” Edward chuckled rubbing his large palm against the dark span of Bill’s neck.

‘I know it was those damn sheep that messed with that saddle on Oscar. I had tightened it myself. No way it could have come loose.’ Edward thought bitterly.

As if agreeing with him the large horse snorted and he smiled, “Atta boy.”

He was approaching the front stoop of Jopson’s small cottage like house upon the ranch and he could see Jopson in the kitchen through the open window that faced the front of the pasture.

Pulling back the slightest bit on the reins the large black horse came to a slow trot and whinnied again.

Edward grinned when he spotted how Thomas visibly frowned at the sound of Bill’s nicker and lifted head to glance outside.

His mouth fell open in a small gasp and a grin spread across his face as he dropped whatever he was doing inside, an small clatter he heard from inside he obviously dropped something in his hurry to the door.

The sheep bleated loudly at him, especially the one on top of the grassy knoll that seemed to stare intensely at him. Challengingly.

Trouble, that one. He had no idea why but he just had this feeling that Jopson’s sheep were always plotting something. They had a mean look in their eyes.

He’d told Jopson that once to which Thomas had playfully swatted at him and told him he was being paranoid, they were just sheep.

Unfortunately there was the underlying problem.

They were sheep.

Edward always deemed sheep notoriously stupid. Very stupid. He hated sheep.

He worked for a sheep farmer once as a young man and that is what fueled his hate for the stupid animals.

Well, he supposed one would hate sheep without question if they were to get trampled by the dumb things as he had.

Shuddering at the memory he turned when the front door opened with a bang and Thomas came running down the stoop.

“Edward! Oh goodness, is this the new one I’ve heard so much about? Good Lord, what a beautiful horse!” Jopson cried with unbridled excitement.

Chuckling he pulled a little tighter on the reins he brought Bill to a complete stop before quickly dismounting.

He patted Bill’s neck briefly before rushing over to his Thomas grinning so beautifully at him with delight at the surprise visit.

Not slowing even as he reached him he planted his hands on Jopson’s hips and lifted the smaller man off his feet with a broad grin and a laugh as Jopson let out a loud squeak in surprise, his face going beet red despite his grin.

“A lovely hello to you too Thomas! Gods how I’ve missed you!”

And he had. Very much. Oh it seemed like it had been forever, but it’d only been a month.

His Thomas looked the same with his black hair, beautiful pale eyes, and clean shaven face with a brilliant smile that adorned it.

Jopson leaned in against him and he lowered him slightly so the man could feel the sideburns on his face before bringing their lips together.

The kiss was quite chaste and it ended as Jopson grinned against his lips before pulling away when he set him back down on his feet and they both shared a warm embrace.

It didn’t escape Edward’s attention that all the sheep, save for the old one on the hill, had moved to the water bucket and were bleating and drinking.
The weird thing was they would all dip their heads down at the same time drink and then they would all stare a them.

He could feel their eyes on his back now.

Sheep were so stupid.

Thomas pulled away first and he smiled gleefully, eyes bright, and smile itself brighter than the sun in the sky.

He pointed towards the black stallion behind him. “Want to meet Bill?”

When Jopson nodded he grinned and looped their arms together, turning towards the large stallion and leading Jopson over to where Willy stood patiently, his front hooves tapped at the dirt a couple times idly every now and then.

As they came up to the large horse Jopson’s eyes absolutely melted to mush as he stared at the beautiful creature.

Smiling he reached his hand out and stroked the side of the large horse’s neck before grabbing the reins, “Billy, come here boy.”

Bill neighed softly as it stepped closer at is voice and he brought his large head down to sniff at Jopson’s face much to Thomas’s delight as he reached out to stroke the softness of his muzzle.

“Hello boy.” his gentle voice addressed the large animal who snorted and shook his mane again.

Thomas chuckled softly and turned his attention back to Edward, “He’s magnificent. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to part with such a sweet animal.”

“Why indeed.” Edward agreed patting Bill again before reaching up and taking the horses’s bridle off.

The large stallion shook his head again and snorted, the rush of air from his nostrils moved Edward’s bangs to the side.

“Go on now, play nice though and please don’t let those damn sheep mess with the saddle. Play nice.” Edward spoke to the animal.

Upon the spoken words the horse huffed again before trotting off into the pasture to explore.

“Would you like to come in?” Jopson asked.

Edward turned to him with a charming grin, wrapping an arm heavy around his waist and pulling him in close.

The sheep bleated again, multiple white head dipping into the metal water bucket, and Edward felt his nerves throbbing against his forehead.

There was some sort of pattern.

“Oh!” Thomas giggled when he’d leaned in to suckle on his neck.

“I think, I would like to come in, very much.” he purred giving the younger man’s beautifully sculpted buttocks a rough squeeze.

Jopson blushed a bright red, his eyes wide and quickly darkening with lust.

Yet again the sheep bleated and drank out of their bucket.

“Gods! Will you dumb things shut up!?” Edward snarled in the direction of the wooly animals.

Thomas laughed heartily at his outburst, his fingers found his sideburns and his beard.

“They must like you Edward. I mean you look like one yourself.”

Edward let out an indignant scoff, jutting out his chin in an undignified pout. “I most certainly do not.”

When his lover hummed deep in his throat and shook his head, combing his fingers through his beard he glowered slightly.

“Well, if I may be so bold, the only thing I saw at first was your big brown eyes peeking beneath all this.”

He let out a scandalized gasp, “But you said you liked my beard! You said it makes me look distinguished.”

Thomas smiled and nodded, agreeing with him.

“It does… but not quite a this length.. you look like a sheep yourself. Mr Edward Little… or mayhaps.. Mr Edward Lambchop.”

“That’s enough out of you Mr Jopson.” he snapped.

His younger lover started to laugh joyfully at such a reaction and he leaned forward cupping his face tenderly in his hands as he kissed him fiercely, silencing the man’s titters with his lips.

When he pulled away he once again heard the sheep voice their ‘opinion’ and drink simultaneously.

Gritting his teeth Edward started for Jopson’s front door, dragging the shepherd by his wrist, and to the bedroom as he tried to stifle his giggles of amusement at how much his sheep’s behavior seemed to bother the older man.

Chapter Text

They had a new plan much to Gerald’s delight.

A most genius plan that was sure to be rid of that other human, that sheep imposter Edward whom their Master Jopson seemed so obsessed with.

First the plan required Kevin.

As the second youngest Cotswold of their small little group, Kevin wasn’t the brightest of their flock, in fact he had always been quite dumb even as a lamb. Especially as a lamb.

The damn fool often getting his head stuck in the fence because he wanted to eat the grass just out of reach of the pasture. Jopson would have to free him a good couple dozen times every day, always cooing patiently and comfortingly at the idiot even when he would get his head free and shove it back through the fence which would cause Jopson to let out that noise that humans made when they were amused.

No, Kevin was not smart, stupid really, but if there was anything he was good at, it was causing a distraction.

All of them knew what it was Master Jopson and this Edward were doing inside the human’s house.

Unfortunately they knew, because they’d seen the two men do exactly that out in the middle of the pasture on a blanket spread underneath the big willow tree.

Such horrible… horrible disgusting noises they heard.

Their master crying as the other human mounted him like an ewe, even though they were both male, wet squelching noises, and slapping sounds of that pale hairless skin hitting each other, and Master Jopson making most indecent noises and spoke words that seemed to encourage Edward to be more through as the men tried to breed each other, didn’t they know that male creature’s bodies can’t produce spawns. Only females give birth to young.

Gerald was positive that humans were the stupidest creatures on earth.

Perhaps that man the Jopson had come by to remove the bits off of Kevin, Richard, and Dave so they couldn’t do their business with the two ewes, and have him remove them off of this sheep impostor Edward.

They could all hear them awful noises coming from the bedroom on the west side of the house through the window that let a nice gentle breeze blow through the curtains.

“E-Edward… oh… yes… o-oh god...”

“Mmm, now there’s a sound I have missed very much, indeed.” came the wretched human’s voice in a low purr.

Kevin looked up at him from where he stood beside the house below the windowsill.

He bobbed his head enthusiastically and Kevin went ahead and bleated loudly beneath the open window.

“What in hell’s name?!” they heard Edward’s voice after a grunt.

Their master let out a small whine of displeasure. “Ooh Edward don’t… don’t stop….”

The younger sheep looked up at him from his place below the windowsill, eyes searching for confirmation that he’d done a good job and whether to continue.

Gerald let out a small bah, all the answer Kevin needed.

“BAAH!” Kevin shouted, standing up on his back legs and poking his head to look into the bedroom where the two men were on top of the flat thing within it, their master on his hands and knees with the evil one, Edward, draped over the top of him as he bred with the other man.

Their master started to giggle loudly he hid his face in the strange wrinkly flat things that looked like the towels Jopson would dry them off with after a bath, but much lager, his shoulder shaking as he laughed into the thing he slept on most nights.

Edward however let out a loud cry, his head darting up to look at Kevin and shooting the young sheep a mean look.

“Thomas!! Those damn sheep are-”

“Hahahaha, oh Edward… it’s harmless!”

Jopson finally lifted his head from the bed and looked at Kevin with a gentle expression but his eyes became firm. “Shoo, you great fluffy beast.” he laughed the demand with a wave of his hand.

Kevin turned to him with hopeless eyes and trotted off, obeying their master’s words like a foolish sheep.

Goat Gods be damned! He would take care of this himself.

He trotted down the hill and made his way up to the window.

That man NEEDED to go.

He was NOT welcome.

That was THEIR Master Joposn.

“BAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” he put as much power as he could into his bleating call and while Jopson began to laugh, more so when he stood on his back hooves to poke his head into the room, Edward met his eyes.

The human’s big brown eyes stared into his. Narrowing in challenge.

He knew who his enemy was.

“You.” the man growled.

Ewe?

He, Gerald was no ewe!!

He was a ram god dammit!!

Did he not see these magnificent hanging testicles?

“Ahah.. oh Edward… you’re so rattled my love an- hehe.. what are you doing?” Master Jopson giggled as the man raised two fingers up to his lips.

“Getting rid of a distraction love.”

As soon as he spoke the words he blew air and a loud shrill noise that hurt his poor sensitive sheep ears emerged from behind his mouth.

The insolent human smirked at him and it was now that Gerald could hear the faint clacking of horse hooves, before he could turn around he felt a nip to his back end that pulled a big chunk of wool out of his beautiful coat.

“Baah!!!” he cried and startled, he ran full speed back up the hill and he could hear the large stallion, that dreadful Bill chasing him.

As he ran, the rest of the flock dipped their heads into the water bucket as the noises from Edward breeding the other man continued.

They all bleated in amusement as they watched the large horse chase him all the way to the other side of the knoll.

Bill didn’t stop until he was on the bottom of the other side of the hill and when Gerald turned around he was mortified to find that the large black stallion had big tufts of white wool between his teeth.

His beautiful wool!!

Bill snorted at him, tossing his mane before trotting in a small circle and then back up the hill and laying beneath the large willow tree like a silent sentinel.

His plan had been foiled this time, but Little would not win this war.

Chapter Text

"I've missed these lips far too much." Edward growled hungrily against his mouth as they made, or more stumbled their way into the bedroom.

Large, rough hands kneaded his bottom and he choked out a gasp.

"I-I can tell..." he breathed his hands reaching up to card through the taller man's dark hair.

"Mm... good." his lover purred squeezing sculpted buttocks roughly to elicit a gasp so he could invade the shepherd's mouth with a thick tongue.

Thomas let out a small squeak his eyes sliding shut as he revelled in the sensual feeling of soft lips against his own.

They were soft, and well moisturised and felt rich and luxurious, like the finest of silks.

Edward's tongue swiped briefly against the roof of his mouth, his teeth, and the inside of a cheek before meeting his with gentle caresses that were indeed, so very tender and sweet.

He let his own tongue wander too, and it wasn't long before things stated to heat up as their tongues explored each other.

Thomas found the kiss became more and more fierce, desperate even. Teeth knocking against each other every now and then, small nips to his bottom lip here and there, his tongue occasionally being stilled as it was held between the man's teeth, and every one his groans of pleasure was greedily devoured as Mr Little took the reins in the bedroom.

Finally needing air he patted a firm hand against the man's chest a couple times.

Understanding the action Edward pulled away huffing slightly with a wolfish grin on his face as he watched the younger man gasp for breath.

Head spinning slightly Jopson had to pause, but he leaned forward to nuzzle into the crook of his lover's neck, pressing his cheek against the warm flesh with a content hum.

How he'd missed him.

There has never been another in his life that had ever brought him as much joy as Edward Little.

He himself was a friendly man by nature, but seldom had he ever found many friends with whom he could make lifelong friendships.

Well, besides Francis Crozier, a retired Royal Navy Captain. He'd met him eight years ago when he worked briefly in a tavern. That was before his mother got so sick.

A kind man of Irish heritage who was a sort of surrogate father figure. Especially since his father had left for America upon learning of his mother's addiction.

Never in his wildest dreams would he think to find a friend of such value, nor did he ever believe he'd find the man of his dreams at a horse show.

A burning feeling of warmth filled his chest rather than a pit in his belly.

It was a pleasant feeling, one of warmth, content and adoration. It was like a gentle but intense wave of joy, like the world he lived in was perfect.

Like it was perfect as long as he had Edward Little.

He smiled against the warm flesh of Little's neck, before placing a gentle kiss to the sun tanned skin.

When long arms wrapped affectionately around his neck and shoulders Edward's eagerness seem to quell, still there, but now tempered as he enjoyed the sweet embrace.

Tempered as he enjoyed his Tom.

His sweet, affectionate, warm, gentle, beautifully bright-eyed Thomas.

Smiling adoringly he removed his hands from that magnificent behind, and placed them carefully upon the man's waist.

Edward was not a man usually drawn to others, wasn't a socialite, he was hard to impress, preferring to keep to himself.

People drawn to him normally didn't stay long, and he didn't mind that. He knew most people he met were intimidated by his ever stoic demeanor, his seemingly non-existent sense of humor, seriousness, and lack of a smile.

Oh he had a smile, indeed he did, it just took certain things to draw it forth and it had never been people.

Never people.

Animals maybe, especially horses.

It had never been people... until he met Thomas Jopson at a horse show.

Now there was one person, not people, but one person who could make him smile.

When he first saw Thomas Jopson at that event on such a beautiful sunny day, he'd found that for the first time in his life he'd been drawn to something other than a horse.

So mesmerized had he been, that he'd felt the need to approach this individual.

Though when he finally stood behind the stranger, he realized just after tapping his shoulder that he knew not what he was going to say.

~ Memory: Four Years Earlier ~

Good Lord, this was a mistake! How could he be so impulsive!?

As he berated himself with hand still hovering in the air after tapping the stranger's shoulder, the unknown man had finally turned around completely.

Edward heard a knicker and felt the soft coat of a horse's neck stretch forward over his shoulder. A large black head came into view, lowering to sniff at the stranger's even darker black hair.

'Zeus!? Oh no, how could I forget about this great beast!? Dammit Edward you're such a fool!'

As soon as the man found himself staring at the underside of the large Shire stallion's neck, he flinched with his eyes going wide.

Edward was starstruck.

Those eyes... oh how beautiful and unusual in color.

Pale in color... but at the same time they were blue... no green... wait... they were gray... goodness he didn't know.

They reminded him of the clear and tranquil stream on his family's property and it's water such a pale blue that he could see the occasional fish swimming around his ankles while he let the cool liquid caress his bare feet.

They reminded him of the pale green that the leaves of his mother's garden and house plants take up from a lack of sunlight.

They reminded him of clear see through ice, but yet there was a mix of off gray and watered down steely gray.

They.. were beautiful.

Zeus snorted a breath in the man's face, and the warm rush of air from the horse's nostrils caused him to flinch in alarm, and moved a thick lock of black hair loose from its part to hang over his temple.

"Oh!" the man gasped in surprise, taking a slight step back.

The horse whinnied comically, quite pleased with himself and began tossing his head about playfully.

Coming back to reality, Edward pulled backward on Zeus's reins firmly.

"Zeus. You know better." he admonished the large horse who snorted in response tossing his face up with indignation.

Whoever said horses had no personality was absolutely mad.

Regardless the horse took a couple steps back to and began to munch on some grass behind him.

The man before him was absolutely gorgeous.

Hair the darkest shade of ebony there ever was, and skin tanned from working in the sun, and there was stubble upon his jaw.

Shorter than he but lean and muscled. He'd been wearing a white cotton long sleeve shirt with the laces at the top loosened, black trousers that had some tears and specs of dirt and mud on them, brown muddy boots.

A farmer maybe?

The man looked at him curiously, those eyes so... so incredible that it took his breath away as they shifted their gaze from him to the large stallion behind him.

"I-I'm so sorry, sir! I forget Zeus's big I'm so used to him... b-but he really is harmless. I-I forgot to tie him up... before I... came over to talk to you." he gushed before he could stop himself.

When the man's eyes widened slightly in surprise, Edward felt his cheeks heat up and Zeus nickered behind him, almost mockingly, as if telling him, 'You awkward fuck.'

He glared at the stallion behind him and the horse snorted not giving a damn.

Edward ran his tongue over his lips as they suddenly felt very dry before turning his gaze back to the stranger.

Though he was surprised to see a small, shy, abashed smile curving full pink lips upwards as he pushed that errant strand of dark hair back to tuck it behind his ear.

"It's alright. I just wasn't expecting to see a horse..." the man paused for a second blushing lightly as he realized how absurd that sounded since he was at a horse show, "I mean- that is to say... I haven't seen a horse so close before."

Edward exhaled a breath and nodded, glad the stranger hadn't been offended.

"I didn't know there could be a horse so big."

He had to clear his throat just to speak again and he pulled forward on the reins. Zeus stepped forward gain, this time coming around to stand beside him as he shifted his hold up the leather to handle the large stallion better.

"Zeus is above average for a Shire. He was done growing at six years old. 19.2 hands... definitely the largest horse we have." Edward explained rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.

"May I?" the smaller man asked politely, eyes bright and a sun beam smile that revealed pristinely white teeth and prominent dimples upon his face.

Edward felt week at the knees at the sight of such a joyful smile.

"O-Of course!" he replied swiftly.

He clicked his cheek at the stallion and he stepped forward with a small nicker to investigate the new person again.

Edward was surprised by how eagerly Zeus met the stranger's hesitant hand, letting long nimble fingers brush his dark face and lowering his large head further to let him stroke his off-white mane.

"He's beautiful." the other man stated aloud with that wonderful smile still on his face, and those eyes still oh so enchanting.

"You're Beautiful."

Immediately Edward turned bright red and soon darker bordering into violet as the stranger paused in his attention to his large Shire stallion. His eyes were wide and his smile had fallen to a look of surprise, his tinting prettily.

"I-I... mean um... your eyes... I have... I've never seen such a color... I'm sorry... I-"

A sweet, beautiful laugh erupted from the man's throat, a laughter so cheerful and void of any sarcasm or cruelty.

"I'm sorry... that was too forward." he apologized again after the man's laughter died and warm eyes focused on him with a smile.

"I take it that's why you came to talk to me, sir?" the man asked though his voice had a hint of playful knowingness.

Edward was still blushing when the man chuckled softly at him, shaking his head. "Rest easy, sir. I jest."

Heaving a sigh he felt his heart fluttering when he extended a hand towards him.

"Thomas Jopson."

Feeling like a fool for introducing his horse before himself Edward's face continued to burn awkwardly.

Easing up on the reins in his hand allowed Zeus to wander back behind him to munch on a weed while they talked.

He reached out and took Mr Jopson's hand giving a firm handshake.

"Edward Little."

Thomas smiled sweetly but there was a mischevious glint in his eyes, one of which winked at him playfully.

"I must say, Mr Little," he trailed off letting his eyes scan him up and down, smiling at what he saw before continuing, "You're quite possibly the handsomest man I've laid eyes on today."

Oh god he might faint.

All at once he felt a hard shove in the small of his back that sent him flying forward towards his new acquaintance, who didn't have time to brave himself and instead lost his balance as he crashed against his chest.

Both of them toppled to the floor with a cry of surprise, him landing on top of Thomas who let out an 'oof' as the breath was knocked out of him.

When he opened his eyes as he recovered he saw those beautiful lips just centimeters away from his, ragged puffs of breath tickled his nose.

Both men stared at each other, too shocked by the intimate position they had landed in.

They were both blushing and Edward had a feeling he knew what had happened as soon as he realized Zeus had been behind him and the reins were no longer in his hand, having dropped when he fell.

His suspicions were confirmed when he heard Zeus neighing happily.

When he turned to look over his shoulder the large horse was trotting in a circle tossing his mane about.

"Zeus!!"

~ End Memory ~

Edward had known as soon as he saw those magnificent eyes that he found the love of his life.

Thomas Jopson was, and would forever be, his heart... and hopefully before he left more than just a lover.

A wave of nerves hit him hard, and he swallowed the lump of emotion that had arose in his throat at the thought of what he planned to ask Thomas before he left tonight.

"I love you Edward." Tom whispered gently in his ear.

He turned his face to kiss the younger man's temple.

"I love you too, so very much. My Thomas."

Their lips met briefly before they parted, and Thomas smiled with something lusting in his eyes.

"Your Thomas, eh?" he asked leaning in close to lick the shell of his ear and voice dropping to a breathy purr, "Why don't you show me how much of me is yours then Mr Little."

With a fire renewed, Edward didn't need to be told twice. Immediately he was working on the buttons of the loose white or whitish flannel he normally wore for work around the farm.

He hadn't been dressed for the occasion of Edward stopping by. Realizing this now his cheeks were aflame because he must look a mess.

- - -

Edward smiled smugly as Bill came trotting up to them both there was sheep wool stuck between his teeth and they both laughed, even though Thomas swatted his arm scolding.

"You awful man, Edward." his giggled rebuke hardly admonishing.

Edward smiled adoringly at him and his beautiful smile before turning towards him and placing his large hands upon Thomas's broad shoulders.

Jopson leaned in expecting a kiss but pulled back when he noticed Edward's serious expression and how he appeared lost in thought.

Alarmed he placed a hand against that whiskered jaw and met big brown eyes.

"Edward. What is it?" he whispered softly, worry in his voice.

His lover gulped violently, he watched how his Adam's apple bobbed fitfully and his eyes developed a glassy sheen to them.

"Thomas. I have to tell you something." he uttered gently, his voice edged with emotion.

"Is something the matter?"

When Edward shook his head and swallowed again, proceeded to offer a small reassuring smile Jopson was confused.

"No, everything is perfect."

Bewildered and at a loss Tom wiped away a couple tears.

"Then why are you crying?"

Edward took in a shuddering breath, exhaling before pressing his forehead against his affectionately.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw his sheep upon the hill.

"Because I'm scared, Thomas."

"O-Of what?"

His love's hands trailed down his shoulders to his biceps which he rubbed soothing circles into before continuing down until he found his hips.

What on Earth was the matter? Things were fine an hour ago when they were making love... well besides the interruption of a couple naughty fluffy beasts.

Oh no, he wasn't breaking up with him?

"Afraid you'll say no."

Baffled and ready to press the panic button he opened his mouth to speak but Edward quieted him with a hand.

The look in the older man's eyes was nothing but warmth and nervousness.

"Just listen Tom, please?" he pleaded.

Uneasy, confused, but curious he nodded.

Edward took a breath and let his hand leave those lips only to cup his stubble cheek tenderly.

"Thomas, the past four years have been the happiest for me, I never thought I could love another person in the ways I love you. I've never been one for love, but you... you bring that out in me Tom. Somehow from the moment I laid eyes on you at that fair.. I was drawn to you. I saw you standing there and I had to talk to you. Nothing else mattered."

His young lover's eyes had gone quite wide and began to brim with tears.

"As soon as you turned around and I saw those eyes... I knew. I knew that I had to have you. That we were meant to meet somehow."

Taking another deep breath he slowly sank to one knee he continued to stare up into those sea-glass eyes now wide as an owl's.

"E-Edward...?"

"I love you Thomas. I love your eyes, your smile, your body, your kisses, your hands and their touches, the tender warmth of your embrace. Most of all I love your heart. Everything, I love everything about you. I love you so much it drives me mad."

A couple tears trickled down Jopson's face as he stared into the older man's big, puppy dog eyes. Oh how he loved them.

"I want to wake up every morning from now until I die to the sight of your angelic face. I want to wake up with you in my arms. That's why I-"

He swallowed thickly as he reached into a pocket on his waist coat pulling out a small box and licking his lips nervously.

"Oh my..." Tom muttered eyes wide and yet unreadable.

"... I have to ask you. Thomas Jopson, my heart, will you grant me the greatest gift in the world and marry me?"

He opened the small ring box revealing a dazzling sterling silver ring.

Looking up he heard a sniffle and as soon as he saw Thomas crying, he broke down sobbing himself, and all the sudden he was tackled to the grass by a blur of white and black.

Lips crushed against his, they were wet with tears as were his.

"Yes!!!"

"BAAAAAAHHHHH!" came the deep rumble of a handful of sheep from atop the hill.

They both promptly started laughing.

Chapter Text

No!! Not one of those rings that humans put on each other to display ownership!!

This was an outrage!!!

How dare this heathen, this sheep impostor, bring his monster of a horse that had taken a bite out of his beautiful coat, how DARE he claim he owned Master Jopson!

HOW COULD THEIR MASTER AGREE TO SUCH A THING!?!

That man… this horrible awful man who hates sheep just as much as they hate him he needs to go.

He needs to go and he needs to go as soon as possible.

It was urgent that they get that ring away from their master! To free him!

Gerald froze when an idea came to him.

Perhaps… they should ask that… that fiend for that favor that he owed them.

A shiver ran down Geralds’s spine at the mere thought of engaging that horribly mean spirited creature down by the pond.

Everything they were trying failed though… Edward needed to go.

They needed help.

It was needed.

After telling Kevin and Tom about his plan they agreed to accompany him, after being bribed with more claim to the flowers they loved to nibble on even though Jopson tried his best to keep them away.

- - - - - - -

Right when the three of them made it to the small pond down the way they could see that horrible creature swimming happily about the water.

The Terror. That’s what Mr Jopson called the thing.

Rightfully so… even Master Jopson didn’t like him. He was mean, always stealing things, and nibbling at his ankles, no matter if you chase it Terror always came back.

“Honk! Honk! Honk!!!!”

The Terror had seen them and had immediately charged towards them, shooting out of the water and flailing its white wings as it ran up the grass angrily.

“Bahhhhh!!!! Bahhhh!!!” Kevin and Tom both turned with heavy thrums of their hooves and ran the other way, not looking back even once.

‘You really can’t find good help these day.’ Gerald thought, though he himself took a couple nervous steps back as the mean goose continued to charge.

Upon seeing that the ram was going to stand it’s ground the goose slowed to a stop, but it honked angrily at him.

“What do you want. This is my territory!”

Gerald shuffled his hooves nervously gulping down the grass that he’d been grazing on this morning as it threatened to come back up.

“We need to call upon that favor you owe us.”

“Honk honk! What favor!? I owe you nothing!”

Snorting irritably the ram stomped a hoof. “Yes you do! It’s in your best interest too!”

The goose shot him an annoyed but curious stare, stretching it’s wings for a moment before resting again.

“What do you think of the company Master Jopson has been keeping lately, the one with the fancy horses?”

Terror honked softly shaking his head before scowling as he normally did. “He looks like a sheep.”

“NO HE DOES NOT!!” Gerald bleated loudly rising on his back legs and stomping both his front into the ground in irritation.

“I think the two breed like fucking rabbits then, what do you want me to say? Why?”

“We want you to get rid of him! Scare him off!”

“...honk? How come?”

- - - - - - - -

After explaining the dire situation to The Terror, the great white bird decided to help them.

If not for his own personal agenda than for amusement more than anything.

- - - - - - -

Thomas couldn’t believe this. It was a dream come true.

Marriage.

To marry the man he loved more than anything.

It was such a wonderful thing to think of and that was precisely why both he and Edward still lay on the grass upon the hill where he’d tackled the man with his answer.

They’d been laying there for about an hour now, just talking, cuddling, crying with emotion mostly joy, and occasionally having spurred kissing sessions.

Bill was napping up on top of the knoll beneath the large willow tree, every now and then he’d lift his great head and look around like a watchful sentry before resting his head again.

Edward nuzzled into his hair from where he lay tucked into his side with his head using the crook of his lover’s strong arm that was wrapped around his shoulders as a pillow.

“Now the question is, when do I get to meet dad?” he chuckled softly.

Thomas laughed gleefully at his words knowing that Edward meant Captain Crozier with whom he’d been meaning to introduce to him.

“Soon, I promise darling.” he spoke leaning in to capture his lips in another kiss.

Edward’s eyes suddenly looked worried and unsure, “Do you think he’ll approve?”

Oh Edward, always having to worry about something or another.

Smiling warmly he rolled onto his side to face him better, taking that whiskered face into his hands as he’d done so many, many times.

“I think he’ll be very, very pleased. You are a fine man Edward Little, I promise that I will make sure that you needn’t ever think otherwise, you silly sod.”

His love smiled gratefully and leaned in to kiss him again as he carded his fingers through dark hair.

“I am so happy to have you in my life Thomas, all of you.”

“Even the sheep.” he teased with a grin enjoying how Edward bodily shuddered.

“You know I hate your sheep, Tom...” The man said giving him a mischievous but heartfelt smile, “, but I would put up with a whole field of sheep if it meant I could spend the rest of my life doing this.”

Jopson frowned about to ask as to what he meant when Edward rolled on top of him and began to attack his sides with fingers.

“No!!” he wailed, already giggling as the older man tortured him with tickles.

His eyes were blown wide in panic as he flailed beneath his lover who had pinned one of his arms down with a well positioned knee.

“Hahaha Edward – ahhahah.. nooo stahp… ahahaha!!” he squealed when those nimble fingers moved to sensitive spots near the top of his rib cage.

Edward laughed as he wiggled and squirmed, and it wasn’t until he was shrieking for mercy that the man actually eased up ceasing his torment. Instead he began to run large soothing hands up and down his flanks as he leaned down to kiss him passionately.

“You wicked man.” he whispered against the kiss with a smile.

Chuckling softly he rubbed his freckled nose against Thomas’s beautifully well proportioned one. “Wicked, and you love every minute of it.”

Thomas’s smile broadened to reveal those beautiful dimples that he kissed softly, and thus so earning him a pretty blush upon that beautiful face.

Velvety lips moved to kiss the freckles on his nose and then his brows and his cheeks and then finally his lips once more.

His sweet, affectionate Thomas, his… all his… the thought was so wonderful.

Thomas lifted his hands to trail down his chest, moving down… down… until he found the waistband of his trousers.

“Oh…” he couldn’t help but groan as long dexterous fingers unfastened them.

One hand moved down beneath drawers to fondle him while another moved up underneath his shirt and waistcoat running over his furred belly.

Edward sat up for a moment to strip off his already open riding jacket, then his waistcoat before leaning moving back to those lips again, leaving the undershirt and it’s buttons for Thomas to deal with.

Too busy were they to notice the arrival of one of Jopson’s sheep and a large goose upon the top of the hill.

Chapter Text

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.

“Banbridge.”

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.