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From Snowtime to Sunshine

Chapter Text

“Eliza?”

Eliza halted, cursing herself inwardly. She’d almost managed to not wake him. She turned, hand still on the door; she’d just been about to leave after checking on him. “Yes, darling?”

Alexander was pushing himself into a sitting position on the bed. “Is it supper time yet?” He rubbed a hand into his eyes.

“I was just going to tell Mama and Papa that you wouldn’t be able to come down. You can eat it up here,” she told him.

Eliza had known, as soon as she’d seen Alexander that morning, that the first thing he needed to do was rest. She’d been elated to finally see him, elated that he was done with the war, and all she’d wanted to do was to hold on to him and not ever, ever let go. But she could see that the war had worn him down hard; he could barely stay standing. (That was probably largely due to the breakneck pace of his riding to return to her. Eliza wasn’t sure if she wanted to scold him or kiss him for that ridiculousness.) She hadn’t been able to relax until she’d seen her husband safely in bed.

Evidently Alexander disagreed with her concerns over his health. “No, I can make it,” he said. She could see the resolution in his eyes, even in the dim light of the bedroom. “I don’t want to disappoint your family. They said they would make a special supper for me.”

Eliza shook her head. “If they care enough about you to make you a celebratory supper, they care enough about you to see you well. I won’t have you die on me on the dinner table.”

He let out a huff of exhausted laughter. “But…” he ran a hand through his hair. Then he sighed. “Fine. I’ll stay.”

Eliza smiled at him; a genuine, relieved smile. “Thank you.”

“But you have to stay with me.” He was looking into her eyes as if he’d never been more serious about anything in his life.

Yes, please, Eliza’s head said. “I can’t,” said her mouth. “I have to help Mama with supper.”

“Pleeeeaaaase,” Alexander implored. “I’ve spent months without even seeing you. All I want is to hold you. At least for tonight.”

The smile spreading across Eliza’s face was betraying any future protests she had. She wanted the same thing. “Fine,” she said finally. “Wait here. I need to let Mama know.”

She ducked down the hall into her brothers’ room, where she found Peggy, sitting on the floor and talking animatedly with the boys.

“Peggy?” Eliza said. All four heads turned to Eliza. “Can you do me a favour?”

“Depends on what it is,” Peggy replied with mock haughtiness.

“Can you help Mama with supper tonight? Alexander wants me to stay with him. And I’ll take over for you the next two times--no, three--in return.”

“I’ve heard better excuses,” Philip commented.

“Yeah,” Rensselaer said. “What are you even going to do, just sit there?”

Eliza glared at her younger brothers.

But Peggy was giving her a heartsick smile. “Okay, okay, I’ll help,” Peggy said. “Only because you two are so cute, and he just came back from the war, and you haven’t seen each other in so long, and, aw.” She got up and started heading for the door. Meanwhile, their three brothers were looking at Peggy like she had grown a second head.

Eliza chuckled. “Thank you. Get me when it’s supper time, please?”

“Sure.”

Eliza headed back to her room. Alexander was laying down in bed again, and she crawled under the covers to join him.

“Thank you,” he said quietly, arms reaching out to her.

“No need,” she replied. She would hold him for the rest of her life if she could.

He rested his head against her chest. One hand had found the small lump of her growing belly and was caressing it as though he were transfixed. She tangled her fingers in her hair and breathed deeply.

Her Hamilton was finally home.

Chapter Text

Hamilton didn’t know why he’d agreed to come to this ball.

It was warmer in here than in Ford Mansion, he supposed. It was nice to see his friends enjoying themselves, and the wine was… all right.

But the lively music and dancing guests were doing nothing to distract him from his hopelessness. He’d much rather be at his desk, his mind occupied as he worked on letters for Washington. The women in the ballroom, with their expensive gowns and powdered hair, were only reminding him that he’d never be enough for them.

He made for the refreshments table, so as to not look like a sad lonely man standing by himself. (Now he looked like a sad lonely man walking by himself, which was at least a bit better.)

“Ham!” A figure intercepted him and Hamilton stumbled back. “Are you okay?” Tench Tilghman asked. “You’re all alone–you should ask someone to dance.” He gestured to the crowds of young women standing in huddles along the edge of the room.

“I’m fine,” Hamilton told his fellow aide. With effort, he pulled his mouth into a small smile. “I’m just not in the mood.”

“Not in the mood? You?” Tench looked genuinely confused. “What about last week, when you were charming the heels off Polly? And before that, you were going after Cornelia. You’re always in the mood.” Tench tilted his head. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Hamilton struggled to not grimace. He’d never had a chance with Polly or with Cornelia. He’d thrown all his charms at the both of them, but it seemed that neither was able to look past his poverty. They’d rejected him, one after the other. He couldn’t blame them; he couldn’t blame them for wanting financially secure husbands. He’d understood.

But it was awful to feel like you’d never be enough.

Third time’s the charm, is what people said. But Hamilton had learned to not trust many people.

“Yeah, Tench, I’m fine,” Hamilton pressed. “I think I’m a bit tired. Been working all day, you know. And besides, we come to these things every other week–I think the novelty is wearing off on me.”

A line of concern remained between Tench’s eyebrows, but he relented. “All right.” He laid a hand on Hamilton’s shoulder. “Make sure you get proper rest tonight.”

Hamilton nodded, and Tench walked away.

Hamilton was just resuming his journey to the refreshments table when another figure bounded into his path, dragging someone else with her.

“Colonel Hamilton!” exclaimed Kitty Livingston, beaming. Hamilton forced himself to keep his gaze on her and not on the refreshments table a few metres away. At this rate he’d never get there.

“Kitty!” Hamilton said, forcing a smile again. “It’s a pleasure to see you here.” He studied they girl whose arm she was linking. Her dark eyes seemed familiar…

“This is my friend, Elizabeth Schuyler,” Kitty supplied. In a flash, Hamilton remembered the dinner he’d spent at General Philip Schuyler’s house a few years ago, and his lively daughter whom he had sat with. Eliza, she was usually called. “General Schuyler’s daughter. She’s staying in Morristown with her uncle and aunt, Dr and Mrs Cochran.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you–again,” said Eliza, curtseying. Turning to Kitty, she said, “I was lucky to meet Colonel Hamilton a couple of years ago in Albany, where he was a guest of my father’s.” She turned to Hamilton again. “Thank you for all your service.”

All of a sudden, like a splash of cold water, Hamilton saw how focused Eliza’s bright dark eyes were on his own, and he could hear the rush of admiration in her voice, and see the faint blush under her powdered cheeks, and he suddenly didn’t care that she was wearing a beautiful blue silk gown or that she was from one of the wealthiest families in New York. He took her hand and kissed it and, as though the words were preparing themselves for this moment, he said, “If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it.”

Eliza went pink. Hamilton smiled, his first real smile of the evening.

Several seconds too late, he realised he was still holding her hand.

He dropped and felt his face flush. “I’m–I’m sorry,” he stammered.

She chuckled (clearly trying to restrain a larger laugh), which made Hamilton laugh. He felt something loosen in his chest. “May I have this dance, Miss Schuyler?” He held out a hand.

“Only if you promise to let go of it when we’re done,” Eliza said, eyes sparkling.

Hamilton opened his mouth to make a retort but Kitty cut him off.

“I’ll leave you to it.” She frowned at them both, exasperated, and disappeared into the crowd.

Hamilton turned back to Eliza. Some part of his brain was screaming at him to stop before he got hurt, but really, he couldn’t stop. He was helpless.

And as he looked into her dark eyes, looking up at him like he was the only man in the world, another part of him thought that perhaps he could be enough. Perhaps he could be enough for her.

Chapter Text

The sheet of paper before Eliza was as blank as her mind.

She had been sitting at the desk in her bedroom for several minutes now, staring. The quill in her hand surely needed to be dipped into the inkwell again. The flame in the candle on her desk danced as though taunting her for her writer’s block. Balls of crumpled up paper sat on the floor by her feet, failed previous attempts to get the right words across.

Eliza groaned. A small pile of letters, from Alexander to her, sat on the desk, and she reached for one. Her fiancé had sent her at least three letters since she’d last sent him one, and she knew it was about time for her to reply, but she couldn’t write . She looked over his intricate handwriting in despair.

Pardon me my lovely girl for any thing I may have said that has the remotest semblance of complaining. If you knew my heart thoroughly you would see it so full of tenderness for you that you would not only pardon, but you would even love my weaknesses. For god’s sake My Dear Betsey try to write me oftener and give me the picture of your heart in all its varieties of light and shade. ”*

Every sentence of his was weaved with a poetic, musical quality. His paragraphs were palaces; his letters were cathedrals of his love for her. She rubbed her thumb back and forth over the paper, caressing it as if she were caressing him.

And what were her letters to him? Clumsily phrased, blunt and too direct. Nothing like the portraits of love he gave her.

A creak of the door snapped Eliza out of her thoughts. She turned to see Angelica enter the room, who did a double take upon seeing her.

“Bess, are you still writing?” Angelica advanced into the room to inspect. “I believe it’s been an hour.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Eliza said. She plopped her face down on the desk, away from the empty sheet so Angelica could see it was blank. “I can’t write.”

“You can’t write? What does that mean?” Angelica took the blank sheet and held it up to her face, as if hoping it would give her an answer. Angelica looked back at her. “Eliza?”

“Just--” Eliza sat back up. She thrust Alexander’s letters into her sister’s arms. Angelica took them, bewildered. “Read this.”

“All of this?”

“Any of it!” Eliza cried. “ His letters are so--so poetic and well-written , and mine are--I have nothing interesting to talk about and I can’t write , not like him! I’m…” She sighed. “Not good enough.”

Angelica was skimming through the stack of papers, somehow able to read them and listen to Eliza at the same time. She finally returned all the sheets to the desk, giving Eliza an incredulous look.

Then Angelica’s gaze dropped to the floor. “What’s this?” She was pointing at the pile of scrunched up paper on the floor.

“No, those are--” Eliza reached for the papers but her sister, too quick, snatched them up. “No, those are failed attempts, Angelica, and they’re not good.”

Angelica was already unfolding one. She read it silently, thank goodness; Eliza wouldn’t be able to stand hearing her awkward words read out loud.

When she was finished, she looked down at Eliza again. “Eliza…”

Eliza stared intently at the desk. Eliza, this is why you should have studied poetry like me, Eliza thought.

She felt Angelica’s hand on her shoulder. “Eliza, look at me.” She did. “This is fine .”

“But…” Eliza frowned. “But it’s not…”

“But it’s not what? It’s not what he wrote?”

Eliza scanned her mind for a rebuttal, for something to show Angelica how she was feeling.

“Bets, in every one of those letters he wrote you, he was practically complaining that you weren’t writing him more. I think that’s all you need to understand that he doesn’t care how you write; he simply wants you to write. Has it never occurred to you that your words are enough for him, just because they’re your words?”

Eliza’s stomach fluttered at that thought. Did Alexander really cherish her letters as much as she did his?

Angelica lifted her hand from Eliza’s shoulder and smirked. “Besides. You’re going to be writing letters to him for the rest of your life. It would be quite a pain if you took this much time each time you started writing one.”

Eliza chuckled. “All right.” She let out a breath. “You really think he wants to hear everything I want to say?”

“Eliza, he’s in love with you; of course he does. What do you want to write him?”

Eliza considered, letting the thoughts flow freely. “I want to ask him if he’s getting enough food and enough sleep and if he’s working too hard.”

“Heh,” said Angelica.

Eliza poked out her tongue, then resumed. “I want to tell him about how Peggy’s obsessed with yet another boy… I want to tell him about how Rensselaer got stuck up that tree and I had to help him down.”

Eliza smiled softly. “And I want to tell him that I love him, and that I miss him, and I can’t wait until he comes back so we can be married.”

“He certainly wants to hear that,” Angelica said. “So?”

“So…” Eliza picked up the quill and dipped it into the inkpot. She looked at the blank sheet and suddenly couldn’t wait to get all her words down. “So, I’d better make a start.”

Chapter Text

The beating of raindrops against the window pane. The scratch of the quill against the paper. The rustling of textbook pages. The sounds enveloped Hamilton, surrounding him and cutting him off from the rest of the world.

He squinted at the law tome he was studying, struggling to comprehend a sentence. He read it again. And again. He tapped his quill on the desk, his hand eager to write, but his brain unwilling to make sense of the words.

He rubbed his eyes and returned to the beginning of the paragraph. Perhaps he’d understand it if he paid attention to the context.

It was only when a knock came at the door that Hamilton realised he’d been rereading the same sentence for a few minutes now.

Hamilton heard Eliza’s footsteps as she entered the room. “Alexander,” said his wife. “You’ve been in here for hours now.”

“I’m studying,” Hamilton said. He rubbed his eyes again.

“I know,” Eliza said. She crossed the room and came to lean against the wall in front of his desk so she could look at him, crossing her arms. “But you’ve been doing it for too long. Take a break.”

“I can’t. I need to get through this. That bar exam won’t pass itself.” He let out a dry chuckle that sounded more like a plea for help.

Eliza looked down at him. Hamilton tried to ignore the concern in her eyes. “Please?” she said. “Just for a few minutes. Then you can come back in and continue studying. It’ll be good for your mind.”

He tried to force his mouth to decline. But it was true; he’d been studying for so long. If he stayed in here for another minute he’d lose his sanity. And it was Eliza asking.

He sighed. “I can’t say no to you.”

He rose, Eliza beaming, and put his hand in hers. She led him out of the office and through the few rooms of their house towards the back door.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Outside.”

He made a face. “But it’s raining outside.”

She made a mocking face at him in return. “So?”

She opened the door and took a few steps outside, so that she was still underneath the roof. A wall of rain crashed down beyond.

Hamilton followed her, wary. “So, we’ll get wet,” he said. She looked back at him, her eyes smiling. He frowned. “And cold,” he said. “And I’ll have to dry up before I get back to work-- hey !”

She grabbed his wrist and pulled him out into the downpour, laughing at his shouts of protest. She stopped, and they stood in the rain, Eliza chuckling. Hamilton tried to give her the reprimanding look he sometimes gave little Pip, but the parenting skills he’d learnt didn’t seem to be working on her.

Under the cool rain, he began to feel lighter, and he started laughing as well.

“That was mean,” he said.

“It didn’t seem you would come out unless I did that,” Eliza said. She tilted her face to the sky and closed her eyes. Hamilton knew she must have been taxed from another day of caring for their infant son. “But it’s nice out here.”

“It is,” Hamilton admitted, savouring the cool droplets on his skin. “But what do we do now?”

Eliza looked back at him. “We can dance.”

Their hands found each other at once. Hamilton held his wife close, and they swayed to a beat in their heads, barely moving. The rush of the raindrops was drowning out every other thought in the world: it was just him and Eliza.

“Hamilton?” Eliza said after a few minutes.

“Yes?”

Eliza pulled apart to look up at him. “Maybe we should go inside.”

Hamilton smiled. They were certainly both drenched. “That might be a good idea.”

Taking his hand again, she led him towards the house. Under the eave, she began wringing out her dress.

“And perhaps you should dry by the fireplace with me, before you go back to work,” she said, looking at the ground. He caught her triumphant smirk; she already knew she’d won. “It would be terrible if either of us caught a cold.”

“Whatever you say, my charmer,” Hamilton said, smiling again. He really couldn’t say no to her.

Chapter Text

Eliza snuggled closer to her fiancé on the couch, savouring his warmth and his presence. It was almost dark, so it wouldn’t be long until he had to leave her uncle and aunt’s place to return to the army’s camp. Despite his coming here each night for the last few weeks, it continued to pain her every time she saw him go.

My fiancé, she thought. Their engagement was new, and unbound elation still bloomed in her chest whenever she thought about it.

She looked up at him, studying his face in admiration. He was staring into the fireplace, his eyebrows furrowed. She frowned. “Alexander?” He turned to her, expression softening. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m just--thinking about our wedding.”

“Which was making you frown?” she asked, smirking.

“Yeah--no, I was--” He looked back into the fireplace, his eyes panicky. Then he turned back to her and splurted, “Betsey, can you teach me how to dance?”

Eliza blinked. “But you know how to dance.”

“Hardly,” he countered. “I only learned a few months ago and we haven’t had a ball since last month. I don’t want my terrible dancing to ruin our wedding.”

“Darling,” Eliza said, “Nothing short of you dying would ruin our wedding.” Sudden irrational fear seized her chest, and she shoved the thought aside. “But I’ll oblige you. Come on.”

She took his hand and pulled him up off the couch.

“Thank you,” he said, following her.

She led him to the centre of the room. “Take a few steps back,” she instructed. He did so, and she mirrored him.

“I do know how to begin the dance,” Alexander said.

“I’m just being careful,” Eliza said. “After all, it’s been a month since you last danced, as you said. That’s so long. It’s entirely possible you’ve forgotten everything.”

Hamilton rolled his eyes. “I don’t sound that ridiculous.”

Eliza giggled.

Calming down, she began, “One, two, three, four, five, six; one, two, three, four, five, six.” Establishing the beat, she went slowly to make it simple.

“...five, six, now . Right,” she said, stepping out with her right foot. “Copy me,” she added. “Left-right-left. Right.”

“Wait, I was supposed to copy you?” said Alexander. He was matching her movements flawlessly; he really had nothing to worry about. “That makes sense. I thought I was just standing up to watch you.”

“Right. Left-right-left,” Eliza continued, fighting a smirk.

They continued to dance in a circle, Eliza’s instructions replacing the beats of music. They came closer, she took his hand, and they circled each other closer. Every move she made, he replicated with ease. It felt as though the connection of their hands was the centre of the world.

“Alexander, your dancing is perfect,” Eliza said softly.

“Only because I’m dancing with you,” Alexander replied. “I feel like I was made to dance with you. I couldn’t do this wrong if I tried.”

He took her other hand, placing it on his shoulder and placing his left hand on her waist, bringing them much closer, continuing to step around with her.

“Ah,” Eliza said. “ Now you’re doing it wrong.”

“I know,” Alexander said. “But seeing as we’re perfect at the minuet, I thought we might do this instead, just for now.”

“It is much nicer,” Eliza whispered, holding him close.

They stepped around the room in tandem, their movements mirroring the other’s perfectly. Two dancers of the same dance; two pieces of the same soul.

Chapter Text

Hamilton found Eliza sitting on the back porch of the house.

They hadn’t been at the Churches’ party long when he’d lost her. Thinking on it, he wasn’t sure he’d really even lost her. He’d been keeping a close eye on her as of late, ever since Peggy… ever since that had happened a couple of weeks ago. So when he hadn’t seen her with Angelica, or with the other women, or anywhere inside, he’d begun to panic.

Relief settled into him as he saw her now, her back to him, staring into the twilight. He approached her, then paused, unsure if he should sit down. “Betsey?” he said softly.

He was now standing by her side; he could see her gazing blankly ahead. She nodded, as though too tired to make a sound or look at him.

“Do you want me to get Angelica? Or would you rather be alone?” He suddenly wondered if his presence had been overbearing on her over the last couple of weeks. Was he too much? Perhaps she preferred solitude?

“No, no, stay,” she said quietly.

He obliged, bending down to sit on the porch beside her. She shuffled in close to him and he put his arm around her.

Music drifted out from inside the house, through the back door. The slow, delicate tune filled the backyard. Tears started pooling in Eliza’s eyes.

“I didn’t really think she’d die,” Eliza said, almost whispering. “Not Peggy.”

“Me neither,” Hamilton admitted. He would never forget the last few days he’d spent with her. When Peggy had asked him to stay with her for a bit longer, he’d expected to remain until her health stabilised and her spirits rose again.

He hadn’t expected those to be the last days of her life.

The new wound of her loss opened up again, and a fresh wave of grief washed over him. He struggled to keep the tears from rolling down his cheeks. If this was how it felt for him, he didn’t want to imagine how it felt for Eliza.

He held her tighter, remembering all the times she’d solaced him. After Laurens’ death. After Washington’s. After his father’s. He stroked her arm, trying desperately to give her comfort. Words were supposed to come easy to him. Why couldn’t he say anything now?

She leaned her head into his neck. Tears were travelling steadily down her face now.

“It’s okay, Alexander,” she whispered. “You can cry too.”

Something was let free in Hamilton’s chest. The tears escaped his eyes. He held her, and she held him, the music and the tears replacing all need for words.

Chapter Text

Eliza’s lips twitched into a smile as she watched Alexander reach for yet another apple tart. He brought it to his mouth and chewed while gazing into the distance. Then he noticed her watching him.

“What?” he said, smiling. She was lying on her back on the picnic blanket, and he was sitting across from her, an arm around his knees.

“Just because I brought that many apple tarts, doesn’t mean you have to try to eat them all,” Eliza said. “You’re making a serious effort.”

It was the first day of March, and Morristown, as if sensing this, had plunged headfirst into spring. The sun had risen early today, the birds were chirping, and the weather was wonderfully warm: there was not even an echo of the snow from the previous months. Eliza had known as soon as she’d woken up that she would be spending the day outside. She had prepared a boatload of tarts in her aunt and uncle’s kitchen, intent on having a picnic. It was immense luck, or perhaps fate, that had driven Alexander to her door just before she’d left. Sensing the good weather himself, he’d managed to get out of speed-writing letters for General Washington at Ford Mansion so he could spend the day with her.

Eliza had brought all the tarts so that they wouldn’t run out, but she had been planning to share the leftovers with her aunt and uncle at the house. Alexander seemed to be planning against her. He’d been consuming a tart every few minutes.

“Are you hungry?” she asked him.

“No,” Alexander said. He sighed. “I’m restless. I’m not used to not doing anything.”

“Lie down with me,” Eliza suggested. “Calm down.”

Alexander frowned slightly, looking sceptical, but crawled over to her and lay down on his back. They turned their heads to face each other. She took his hand in hers and began slowly rubbing her thumb across it, up and down.

He closed his eyes, looking contented, and she did the same. Minutes of comfortable silence passed.

“Eliza.”

She opened her eyes. He was smiling at her softly and bashfully, as though he couldn’t help it.

“I love you,” he said.

The world stopped.

On the outside, Eliza was staring at him. On the inside, she was struggling to reconnect her mind to her body.

Say it back, she told herself.

“What?” she said instead. Oops.

But Alexander was undeterred. “I mean,” he began. He sighed, still smiling. He looked down at their joined hands, then back into her eyes. His deep blue eyes were focused.

“I mean, you’re the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning, and my last thought before I go to sleep. Whenever I’m with you, I feel… complete. I could lie with you here for hours, and do nothing, but it would be fine, because I’m with you. When I think of my future, I think of you .” He chuckled to himself. “You, you… you make me helpless. I’m partly convinced you’ve put a spell on me.”

She snorted, and his lips twitched up.

“I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you, Eliza.”

“Alexander.” Eliza calmed her mind and allowed the words to come of their own accord. She smiled shakily. “I love you too.” Four simple words. She’d never been more sure of anything in her life.

Chapter Text

“I don’t understand why you wanted to come outside,” Alexander told Eliza. His hands were in his pockets and his face was in a frown. Every few steps, he kicked his boots at the snow covering the road. “There’s snow everywhere.” He said the word like it was a disease.

Eliza suppressed a laugh. “That’s why I wanted to come outside. Because of the snow.”

“But why?” Alexander said.

“It’s nearly spring,” said Eliza. “We won’t get much snow anymore.”

Good .”

Eliza hummed, pretending to come to a realisation. “I’m beginning to think that you don’t like snow.”

“I don’t,” said Alexander. “I’d never seen it before I came to America. When I did see it for the first time, I thought it’d be soft and fluffy and nice to touch. But it’s not. It’s cold and crunchy and it stings your hands.” He swung another kick at the ground, spraying snow in large arcs.

“Your poor, poor hands,” Eliza said. She put her hand in his pocket, took his gloved hand out, and held it in hers. She gave him a solemn look. “I don’t envy you.”

“Ha, ha,” Alexander said.

Eliza stopped walking, looking around. On one side of the road was a clearing, the ground a white blanket, with leafless trees dotting it here and there. “This will do,” she said. She entered the clearing, pulling him along.

“Do for what?” he asked. He studied their surroundings, his eyebrows furrowed.

Eliza bent to the ground, packing snow in a small ball with her mittened hands. When she popped back up, holding the ball, Alexander was looking at her, confused.

“I can’t believe the great Colonel Hamilton is afraid of a little snow,” she said tauntingly.

“I’m not scared --”

She broke the snowball on the top of his head and he drew his shoulders up and made a face.

“Hey. That was rude.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

She darted backwards, and his eyes gleamed as he caught on.

“Right then,” he said. He ruffled his hair, shaking the snow out, then dropped to the ground. “I’ll have you know, Miss Schuyler, that I’m an excellent marksman.”

“And I’ll have you know, Colonel Hamilton, that I’m an excellent snowball fighter.”

He jumped up and sent a snowball her way, but she ran to the side, dodging it. Two more came, but she continued to run and he continued to miss.

“Huh,” he said. “These are a bit different to bullets.”

Eliza laughed. She quickly made two snowballs then pegged them at him; his hands came up; the snowballs broke against his chest and his stomach.

He brought his hands down, dusting the snow off.

“Rough start on my part,” he said, “but I can come back from that.”

“Oh, I’d like to see you try.”

He smirked. Challenge accepted.

 

Hamilton sat with his back against a tree, gathering snowballs into his arm from the pile he’d made. The snow he was sitting on was sending chilly pricks into his backside. He had been right. It really did sting.

He couldn’t take all the snowballs he’d made, so he left a few. He stood up slowly, careful to not make a sound. He had managed to get a few good shots at Eliza before; nevertheless, if this was a game, Eliza was winning. He couldn’t count how many times she’d hit him.

Well, he’d even out the scores once he got her with this volley of snowballs.

He peeked out around the trunk, his eyes fixed on a tree several yards away. Last he’d checked, she was behind there. He was about to take a slow step when he heard a crunch behind him.

He froze. That wasn’t him. But it was big. A distinctly person-sized sound. He turned with infinitesimal speed.

It was futile. She was right behind him, frozen in a creeping position.

Transfixed in shock, he forgot to throw his snowballs. “How did you--”

She smirked then dipped, down to his pile of previously made snowballs. From there, she pegged them at him, quick-fire, one by one.

He closed his eyes, his hands coming up to protect himself, and his own snowballs fell to the ground. “Okay, okay, okay--”

He sunk to the ground and started laughing, while snowball after snowball connected with his body until, at last, there were no more.

“You win ,” he laughed, opening his eyes. Eliza was crouching on the ground in front of him, giggling.

“Hooray,” she said finally.

They crawled to each other on the icy ground, then knelt as Hamilton wrapped his arms around her and Eliza cradled his jaw. Her nose was red, he noticed. Then he kissed her, long and deep.

Eliza pushed softly at his chest to get him to lay down, which he did. He was immediately met with a dozen icy pricks in his back. His thick coat had come off during the fight, he remembered.

“Eliza,” he said, as she bent over him. He looked at her apologetically. “The ground stings.”

“Oh--sorry,” Eliza said. “Sincerely, this time,” she added, smirking. She held out a mitten-covered hand, offering to help him up.

“No, actually, it’s not so bad.” He smiled. “I think I don’t mind the snow so much, anymore.”

She chuckled, then bent down to kiss him again.

Chapter Text

Autumn in the Grange was beautiful.

Eliza paused her thoughts for a moment, wondering how she had not noticed this before. She’d been at the Grange last fall, after all.

Oh, but of course. Philip had died last autumn. Grief had made her closed off for some time, shutting her off while the world went on around her. While the leaves on the trees changed from green to brown and yellow and orange, then littered the ground like a patchwork blanket, sorrow had been eating at her and her thoughts had been drowning her. She had been unable to see the beauty.

Eliza’s thoughts started to wander to her late son. She shook her head before they lingered. She wasn’t going to let grief overcome her today.

She looked over to her husband, strolling on the path through the woods beside her. He was stomping deliberately into every pile of leaves he came across. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

“Darling,” Eliza said, tilting her head, “what did the leaves ever do to you?”

His eyes crinkled as he smiled. “It’s satisfying,” he said simply. “I like the sound.”

Eliza smiled at him fondly.

Minutes passed, the only sounds being the crunch of dry leaves under their feet. Eliza continued to marvel at the trees. The gold and orange made them look regal.

“It’s beautiful here during the fall,” she said.

Alexander looked around. “It is,” he agreed. “Although, I think the winter is even more beautiful.”

Eliza put a hand to her chin in mock consideration. “Hmm. But I thought you didn’t like snow?”

Alexander shook his head. “Every year. Every year, you joke about this.”

“That only means that every year you talk about how much you love winter and snow,” Eliza pointed out. “Which is significant, because when I first met you, you hated snow.”

“The fact that I like it now is simply a testament to how much I love you,” Alexander said. “It was snowy when we fell in love, and it was snowy when we were married. How could I not like it? It makes me think of you.”

“I feel the same way,” Eliza admitted. “However. I will continue to tease you about your change of perspective on snow, year after year.”

“And I, year after year, will continue to defend my change of perspective on snow by saying that I couldn’t help it. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s yours, for making me fall in love with you like that.”

That never got old, Eliza thought. Twenty-two years into their marriage, and he still talked about falling in love with her like she had bewitched him. Warmth flooded her every time he talked like that, about how helplessly in love with her he was. His feelings were a mirror image of hers.

“Year after year,” Eliza said softly. She held out her hand and Alexander took it. Their hands fit together perfectly like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

“Alexander.” She stopped walking, and he stopped as well. “I have to say…” His blue eyes were fixed on her as she searched for the right words.

Fixed.

Constant.

“This past year,” she continued, “has been… difficult. Terrible,” she blurted. “It’s been terrible for us. But we got through it. And I don’t think I would have survived if I hadn’t had you.”

“I feel the same way,” Alexander said, echoing her from earlier.

“Thank you for being here,” she told him. “Thank you for loving me.”

“You don’t need to thank me for that, Betsey.” Tears were in his eyes now. He pulled her into a hug. “Like I said,” he said over her shoulder. “I can’t help how I feel about you.”

Eliza made a sharp sound, part chuckle and part sob, like love and joy mixed with sorrow.

He pulled back, holding both her hands. He gave her a teary smile. “Besides. I’m not going anywhere.”

“You’d better not,” she said. Partly joking.

Partly desperate.

Because what would she do if he did? Heartbreak after heartbreak they’d faced together. If there was one thing that Eliza had learned over the past two decades, it was that she and her husband could overcome anything as long as they had each other.

Year after year would come, and Eliza would have Alexander, and Alexander would have her. She didn’t know if she’d survive if it were any other way.

 

Chapter Text

Eliza entered the bedroom to see Alexander standing in front of the mirror, hands in his hair, dressed for his dinner with Secretary Jefferson and James Madison. She could see the reflection of the front of his body--he looked perfect. Except for his hair, which was a mess.

His reflection caught sight of her, and he turned to look at her like she was his saviour. “Eliza, thank goodness, can you help me with my hair?”

“Of course,” Eliza said automatically. She then tilted her head. “That depends, however, on what you’re trying to do with your hair…”

“I’m trying to braid it,” he said, dejected. He ran a hand through it, making it into even more of a mess. “But my hands aren’t working today.”

She studied him; his face was in a slight nervous frown. “You’re worried about the dinner,” she deduced. “Perhaps you aren’t focused enough.”

She took his hairbrush from the dressing table, then walked to the desk in their room and pulled out a chair, gesturing for him to sit.

“At least I’ll be focused on the dinner, then,” he joked as he came over. He sat, and she began to brush his wild locks.

“But I’m not worried ,” he continued. His foot tapped on the floor. “It’s more that I don’t have faith that Jefferson and Madison will listen to me. No one really has so far. They don’t understand how my debt plan will help America. As a country, not as a loose collection of states. They don’t want to understand.”

She continued to brush his hair in slow, repetitive strokes. She’d heard this rant many times before.

He began to calm under the brushes, his nervous energy beginning to dissipate. “I suppose you’ve heard enough of me talking about this,” he said, echoing her thoughts.

“Ah, but where would I be without your impassioned speeches?” For as long as she’d known him, he was constantly making his opinions known. She loved that about him--he was so passionate about everything.

“Maybe I’ll have to return to making impassioned speeches about my lawyer work,” he said.

Eliza stopped halfway down a lock of hair in a shock. “What do you mean?” she said. Regaining composure, she continued to brush… there, she was done.

“I don’t think I can stay as secretary to the Treasury if this deal doesn’t go through,” Alexander said. “I know it hasn’t even been a year, but this position is not only difficult, I--I feel like I won’t accomplish anything important, with all the opposition. I can’t continue doing something as fruitless as this.”

Eliza took in his words as she studied his newly straight hair. She ran her hands through it. She started to part it in two, wondering if he’d notice.

To return to his legal work… Eliza had to say she wouldn’t mind that. For nearly a year, he’d been returning home stressed and exhausted, he was often staying up at night to toil on reports, and he never seemed satisfied with his work. And it all seemed to be thankless. Why give himself to the country when the country didn’t even notice?

And his current position was not nearly as highly-paying as his lawyer work. It was getting difficult to support their five 1 children with the money they had now.

And yet… it felt wrong to dissuade him from his work. He’d been ecstatic when Washington had offered him the position, and she knew how much Alexander wanted to help the country.

Searching for the right words, she began to weave his hair into two braids instead of one, starting on the left. He still hadn’t noticed.

“I don’t think you shouldn’t give up so soon,” Eliza said. “It’s always been your dream to have such influence over the country. You’ll get more wins as time goes on.

“And surely this dinner won’t be a complete failure. Jefferson invited you, so he must be willing to listen to you. And he’s bringing Madison, too--so I think he truly wants to work something out. Of course, he most likely has an ulterior motive, but it looks like he might really give you what you want.”

“Hmm,” Alexander said. “You’re right. About everything.”

“I usually am,” Eliza said. She smirked, even though he couldn’t see.

She was onto the right braid now, twisting his hair again and again. Far from noticing, he seemed to be relaxing under her hands. He was completely still--and quiet, too.

She was halfway through the braid when he interrupted. “Eliza. Wait.”

“Mm-hmm?” she said innocently.

“What are you doing?” She imagined him squinting his eyes.

“Um. Your hair?”

“But--” His left hand came up to his head; it ran down the left braid, then down the half-formed right one until it came to her hands.

Eliza ,” he said, his voice plaintive.

He rose and made for the mirror, while she held a hand to her mouth to stifle her laughter.

His hands were on the table as he peered into the mirror, studying her masterpiece.

“I look like Angelica,” he said, frowning. “But with lighter hair.”

“Then you look very cute,” Eliza said, joining him at the mirror. Standing by his side, she looked at his reflection in admiration. “Aw, look at you. Jefferson and Madison wouldn’t be able to say no to you like this.”

His reflection gave her a dry look.

“Okay, okay, 2 I’ll fix it.” She led him back to the chair, and he sat down. “On the bright side,” she said, starting to undo the braids, “it seems I helped your focusing. It took you a while, but you were finally calm enough to realise what I was doing.”

He chuckled. “What would I do without you.”

He leaned his head back into her touch.

“Next time I ask you to braid my hair,” he said, “I’m going to be very, very specific.”

Chapter Text

Hamilton loved New York City.

There was just something about it. It was one of the first pieces of America he’d seen, and his first home here. It was America at its finest: things happened here. Dreams became true and people became new.

And he also loved it because Eliza loved it. They were walking arm in arm through the city, passing restaurants and bookshops and passers-by over the grey pavement. Eliza was looking around them, eyes darting from building to building like she was trying to take absolutely everything in. He couldn’t help but watch her. It had been too long since he’d seen his wife so happy. They’d left Philadelphia only a few days ago*, but already New York City was making her glow.

She caught sight of something that seemed to properly catch her attention; her eyes stayed fixed on it for more than a few seconds. Hamilton followed her gaze to a flower shop on the street corner. He turned back to her and saw her still staring at it, frowning ever-so-slightly. He knew that look; an idea was forming behind her eyes.

She let go of his arm to take his hand instead. “Hey, Alexander, come on,” she said, and started to pull him along, walking more briskly.

He scrambled to match her pace. “Honey, we’re going to get there no matter how fast we walk,” he told her.

She chuckled, but didn’t slow down.

In front of the flower shop, they stopped. Colour spilled from the bouquets of flowers in the stands. Eliza ran her eyes over the collection, brow slightly furrowed.

“Do you want flowers?” Hamilton asked.

“Yes, but…” She paused as something caught her eye. “Not for me.”

She grabbed a bouquet of lavender-coloured flowers and headed into the shop. Hamilton put his hands in his pockets as he waited. He supposed he’d have to wait for her to tell him what she was up to.

She came out the door, clasping the bouquet of purple flowers and smiling like she was in the happiest place in the world, and Hamilton was sure he’d never seen anything so beautiful.

“These are for you,” she said, holding the flowers out to him.

“For me?” He took them, and frowned. “Isn’t this usually the other way around?”

“You buy flowers so often for me, I thought I’d return the favour. And besides, I think you like flowers more than I do; you always talk about how you want to start a garden.”

He stared at her, speechless, and she smiled sheepishly. “Do you like them?”

He struggled to contain the emotion in his chest. “I--I love them,” he stammered.

She beamed.

He shook his head and smiled. “I love you, Eliza,” he said. “So, so much."

Chapter Text

Eliza sat in the armchair, swinging her car key ring around her finger as she waited for Alexander’s reply to her text. He’d been working late at his office again, and she’d asked what time he’d be at the subway station so she could pick him up.

Her phone buzzed, and she looked at the screen. Don’t worry yourself, I’ll walk home, Alexander had texted.

Eliza narrowed her eyes. She was certainly not letting her husband make a fifteen-minute long walk through New York City at eleven p.m. Especially not after working the whole day; he was surely exhausted.

No way, Eliza sent. It’s no problem for me. I’m not even tired.

Alexander: The fact that you said that makes me suspicious that you *are* tired.

Eliza: I just said that so you wouldn’t be worried I’d crash the car.

Alexander: Well now I’m definitely worried.

Eliza: Oh shush.

Eliza: Just tellll me

Alexander: If I don’t tell you, you can’t pick me up >:)

Well, two could play at that game. If you don’t tell me, Eliza typed, I’ll just circle around the block until I see you.

After she sent the text, there was a lull. Eliza started to smile. She’d surely won.

Alexander’s reply came after a few more seconds. You’re really annoying.

Eliza chuckled out loud, and Alexander sent her the time.

 

Alexander climbed into the passenger seat, his suitcase with him, and shut the door. “Thanks,” he huffed. He said the word as though against his will.

His grumpy expression softened as he saw her properly.

“Are you wearing pyjamas?” he asked.

Eliza looked down at herself. “Oh, yeah,” she said. She started to drive back home. “And sneakers.”

She glanced over and saw him giving her a quizzical look.

“Sneakers because I didn’t want to drive in slippers. And pyjamas because it’s past eleven,” she explained. “Though you might not have noticed.”

“Ha, ha,” he said. “Although, you’re kind of right. I was working on my case, and I thought I’d just stay in the office for a few more minutes, but it turned out to be… a few more hours.”

Eliza laughed. “A few more minutes.”

“Yeah,” Alexander said, and chuckled.

They drove in silence for another minute. Eliza glanced at him again and saw him leaning back in his seat, his eyes tired.

“You really didn’t have to stay up for me,” he said. “I feel bad for bothering you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Eliza said. “You can always count on me.”

“Heh,” he said. “I love you.”

Eliza smiled. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Hamilton rubbed at his eyes, desperately willing himself to stay awake. He just had to last a few more hours. It was a beautiful spring day to spend with his beautiful fiancée, and he was not going to be asleep for it.

“Hamilton, are you tired?” Eliza asked. They were sitting on a blanket, arms hugging their knees to their chests, underneath a tree. Hamilton was momentarily distracted with how the light breaking through the leaves dappled over her, shifting as the branches swayed in a slow breeze.

“N--no,” Hamilton said.

Eliza narrowed her eyes. “Are your eyes going somewhere?”

He frowned. “Uh, no?”

“Then why do they have those bags?”

Hamilton snorted, bending his head to chuckle at that. “Fine,” he said. He turned back to see her satisfied expression. “I was working late last night. Washington gave me a thousand letters to write and I wasn’t done until early this morning.”

“Well, you should sleep, then,” Eliza said. “Get some rest before you have to do any more work tonight.”

“But I don’t want to go back to Ford Mansion.” He looked into her eyes. “I want to spend the day with you.”

“You can do that and sleep,” Eliza said, smiling. “Come here.” She lay herself down on the blanket, on her back, and gestured for him to come. He followed suit, laying down next to her.

“Lean on me,” she said.

He did, bending his neck and shifting a bit so his head lay on her chest. He wrapped an arm around her and she cradled his head.

Then all was still.

 

When Hamilton woke up, his body was still tangled with Eliza’s. Her soft, slow breathing told him she was still asleep. He felt more well rested than he ever had, but he wasn’t going to let go of her any time soon.

A thought crossed his mind and butterflies fluttered in his stomach. By the end of the year, he’d be married to her, and he’d wake up like this for almost every day of the rest of his life. Right next to Eliza, right where he was supposed to be.

Chapter Text

“Aunt Gertrude likes you,” Eliza told Hamilton. They were sitting shoulder to shoulder, leaning on the couch in front of the fireplace, watching the flames dance and listening to the crack of the wood. The fire was fighting off the chill of the Morristown winter, but Hamilton couldn’t help thinking that he’d be warm here without it, as long as he had Eliza by his side.

“Does she?” Hamilton asked. “Every night she asks me, ‘I assume you’ll be coming for dinner tomorrow night?’ She sounds so… disappointed.”

Eliza snorted. “She’s inviting you. She can be a bit… formidable sometimes, but she does have a kind heart. It can take a while to get used to her way of showing it.”

“I’m glad she likes me,” Hamilton said. “I like her, too. But I am scared of her, as well.”

Eliza laughed softly. “Ah. I don’t blame you.”

Hamilton looked at her and summoned the courage to say what was on his mind. “However, I have to say… I think I prefer your way of showing you like me to hers.”

“And, um, what way would that be?” Eliza said, as nervous as him.

“Well, when you…” Hamilton cleared his throat, unnecessarily. “When you kissed me.”

“And I don’t suppose you’d want me to kiss you again?”

“Maybe you don’t suppose that, but I do.”

Eliza huffed out a laugh, then turned her body slightly, putting her hands on his shoulders, and brought her lips to his.

He wrapped his arms around her, deepening the kiss, trying to get more of her. She cradled his head, playing with his ponytail. She was leaning into him, so he lay down on his back, still kissing her, with her above him.

Thud, thud, thud, something went. He heard it absently, but the sound didn’t really register. He was too caught up in Eliza. There was only Eliza.

Thud, thud, thud, the thing went, like footsteps down a set of stairs.

Wait.

Wait.

Hamilton gently pushed Eliza off him, breaking the kisses. She was so close to him that he could see the dilated pupils of her dark eyes.

“Eliza,” he whispered.

“Alexander?” she said softly. She looked very much like she wanted to keep on kissing him.

“Someone’s coming.”

Eliza blinked. Then her eyes focused as she heard the footsteps, now in the kitchen.

“Aunt Gertrude,” she hissed.

She rolled off him and scrambled up to the couch, Hamilton following. He sat down, then, practically seeing how guilty they looked, he thought for a second, and said, “And then Washington hugged me and said, ‘We all thought you’d died!’”

Eliza laughed and Hamilton laughed and they both laughed very, very hard.

Mrs Cochran came into the living room and looked over at them, a glass of water in her hand. She smiled. “Looks like you two are having fun.”

They nodded eagerly.

“But Eliza, honey, make sure you don’t go to bed too late.”

“Yes, Aunt Gertrude,” Eliza said.

“All right,” Mrs Cochran said. “Good night.” She retreated behind the doorway.

They stared at the place where she’d been, as her retreating footsteps grew quieter, then climbed up the stairs, and stopped entirely.

A few seconds of tense silence followed.

Then Eliza started chuckling. The short exhalations of air continued, and they became giggles, and those giggles became full-blown laughter, real laughter this time. Hamilton began to laugh as well, bending over himself in an attempt to stifle it.

Eliza took a breath, attempting to calm down. “That was…” A stray laugh escaped her lips. “That was close.”

“In more ways than one,” Hamilton said, unable to help it.

Eliza let out another chuckle, then put a hand over her mouth to stop herself.

“If she’d seen us,” Hamilton said, “I suppose she wouldn’t like me so much anymore.”

“Oh, no,” Eliza said. “Not at all.”

She leaned into him, her eyes on the fireplace. He followed her gaze into the flames, watching how they danced together, yellow and orange and red, over the logs. He would be fine sitting here with her and watching the flames, he supposed.

“Alexander?”

“Yes, darling?”

“What was that story you were telling me? Where Washington thought you were dead?” She frowned adorably. “Was that true?”

“Indeed,” he said. “The story of Alexander Hamilton against the Schuylkill River. It’s a riveting tale.”

She raised an eyebrow. “How dramatic. Could I hear it?”

“Well, whenever I tell that story, I get very cold, but with you here to snuggle up against, I think I’ll be safe.”

She looked confused, but she put her arms round him nonetheless. “For extra warmth,” she said.

He smiled. “The year was 1777, and it was the middle of summer. The British had recently claimed--”

“Wait. If it was the middle of summer, why do you get cold when you tell this story?”

“Well,” he said. He frowned. “Well, I got really wet, so I was cold, and also, I wanted to cuddle you.”

She laughed. “With that explanation, I can’t not forgive you. Do continue.”