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The Many Miles We Walked

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From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

July 29, 1895

Dutch and Hosea may be the only folk who’ll never leave me. But that’s only because of how useful I am to Dutch.

I don’t remember much of my mother. She was probably kind, not very smart though for marrying my father. She liked flowers and she sang me a lullaby about stars once. I couldn’t even remember it to sing to Isaac. And my father, he was my father. Wasn’t much of a man. I would be a lying man if I said I did not get pleasure out of watching him swing when I was a kid.

Being older now, I should have known Mary wasn’t going to work. Between her family and being so young. I still think about her. Especially when I hear her favorite song or see her favorite animals in the wilderness. She was the love of my life. There will never be another.

There was Eliza. But she’s gone and buried. Isaac too. It isn’t their fault though. This world is crawling with bandants. I should have spent more time with them. I Should have protected them. I should have been a better father. I had ten years to be better than mine. Ten years to mess his blond hair. I could have loved Eliza like I loved Mary. I was still hung up on her.

Isaac never leaves my mind though. I like to think they’re in a better place now. One not so rough. I don’t know if there’s a heaven or a hell, but I do know Elizabeth and Isaac did not deserve to be in this hell. He probably would have hated me anyways.

It’s best that I stick with Dutch and Hosea, I suppose. They may be the only family I am meant to have.


May 9th, 1899
Horseshoe Overlook, The Heartlands, New Hanover

It had been a rough road for Dutch van der Linde and his band of merry outlaws. The Blackwater incident had dashed their financial dreams; the days in the mountains had dashed their spirits and broken the gang in ways Dutch couldn’t imagine. People were dead. Jenny, Davey, Mac….All dead. He once promised these people protection and a prosperous life in the lawless west that he had loved. Dutch had let his crew down. It was a notion that became more apparent when looking at Arthur Morgan.

Though only nine years his senior, Dutch had come to think of Arthur as a son. He knew his every heartache; from Mary Gillis to the devastating end of Eliza and Isaac. It was a devastation that would drive almost any man in the arms of Death, herself. Not Arthur Morgan, however. The years since the loss of his child and the mother of his child had hardened Arthur, more than any other incident in his 36 years. Dutch wondered if that had a reason to do with Arthur’s response to the incident in Blackwater. Nothing could match the devastation of losing a child. Not even losing a fortune. Money could be made again, everyone knew. A child, that was irreplaceable. He also knew all of Arthur’s habits, all his twitches, and all the mannerisms that grew from when Arthur was a young lad, determined to escape the shadow of his father and take care of himself to this nearly middle aged man who let no one in and yet protected all that he could. The nature of Arthur Morgan made Dutch think that he messed up that boy more than his own father did. But the boy was always soft hearted once you cleaned him up and gave him folks to protect. A fact that became more apparent in the last several days.

Now, the Van der Linde gang made camp just outside of a small livestock in New Hanover called Valentine. They could recuperate and get back on their feet. The gang was mostly together, save for a few souls. Last Dutch, or any of them knew, was that Sean MacGuire had been captured (and was probably dead at this point), Lenny Summers and Micah Bell were scouting ahead from when they left the abandoned mountain town of Colter, and Josiah Trelawney was doing…. Well, Dutch never really knew what Josiah was doing. All he knew was that Josiah almost always had information. And it was always information that Dutch needed. All in all though, the van der Lindes would be right as rain given a few more scores. Then, they could retire and go to Tahiti.

As night fell on their first day in the new camp, Dutch walked over to the campfire where Hosea Matthews and Charles Smith gathered, Simon Pearson’s stew in their bowls to warm them on this cool May evening. “Has anyone seen Mr. Morgan?” Dutch asked in his smooth, charming way. The charm was a mode that was never off when he was in the presence of the entire gang. Especially now. Their leader needed to be strong, charming, charismatic, and a leader. He had to lead. And in Dutch’s mind that meant being the charmer. Hosea scoffed at the act on occasion. This was one of them. They had been partners since the beginning. Since they left their own gangs and formed one together along with a young, recently orphaned Arthur Morgan. One could say that they were almost like an old married couple at this point in their relationship. They bickered like one and offered support at the same time. They were a team. Right now, that team needed to stick together. Being together that long meant that there were moments of frustration, moments where Dutch was on when he needed to be off. Hosea was not afraid to call out their leader on that.

“I think he’s on the ledge. He said he wanted to sketch.” Hosea replied as he scooped up a spoonful of Pearson’s hearty stew. The thin man nodded his head in the direction of the sunset. Dutch’s eyes followed the nod and landed on the brawny figure of Arthur, his head down and a cloud of smoke coming from the cigarette the man was smoking. Dutch nodded to Hosea in thanks as he made his way over to the figure that was backlit by the sunset. Upon his arrival, Dutch looked over the man’s shoulder and saw that he was writing in his journal, a daily task Dutch had encouraged him to do at a young age.

“Before my mother came to Blackwater to settle there with my father, she lived here.” Dutch spoke as he hovered over the man, the charm from his voice. He was off now, with his son he didn’t have to be a leader. He could just be Dutch van der Linde, friend and confidant. “She always told me,” he continued as Arthur’s head remained buried in his writings, “how beautiful it was here. Cold, but beautiful.”

Arthur offered the man a shrug, finishing up his writings of the day of travel down the mountain and landing on this new camp surrounded by foliage and nature’s beauty. Especially at the overlook. The Dakota River shimmered as the sun began to disappear in the western sky. For the first time in over a week, Arthur felt some peace. He took a long, final drag of his cigarette before smashing it against the rock and throwing the butt off into the wilderness below. “It’s alright, I guess.” He spoke in a low, gruff voice as he closed the journal and continued to place it in the satchel that was ever present at his hip. “How long do ya think we’ll stay here for?” Arthur’s blue eyes continued to stare out into the world ahead of him, his mind trying to think of what he could do while they waited for things in Blackwater to settle down.

“A few weeks, I suppose.” Dutch’s voice held some regret. Arthur noted the tone, nodding in acceptance. He knew their way of life was ending. Outlaws used to run the west and, now, they were being run out of it by Pinkertons and ever continuing march of time and progress. The death of the American west as the van der Linde gang knew wasn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when. And the middle aged man did not know his place in the future. Sometimes, Arthur felt as if he had made a mess of his life. “We’ll be fine, my boy.” Dutch patted Arthur on the shoulder as he began to sit down on the ledge as well. “Look at all these fools.” Dutch motioned to the world in front of them. “They’re fine.” He was trying to instill some optimism in Arthur.

“Until someone like us robs ‘em.” Arthur pointed out. “Maybe kill ‘em if they put up a fight.” That was when Arthur began counting the fires he could. There were five spattered around the banks of the river along with a few glows in the forest around it. Their world had stopped momentarily, but the world of these folks traveling to their destination continued. Arthur supposed there was hope in that. The world always seemed to continue.

Surely enough, the world continued and the sun had set. The darkness made the glow of the fires more prominent. Arthur would have stayed here watching the world, watching the stars, and listening to his friends sing songs to lift their spirits up. Night had fallen on the world around them and Arthur’s stomach began to grumble. He hadn’t eaten yet. He pushed himself up from the ledge and began to make his way to the pot of stew when a loud scream was heard echoing through the woods. “The hell was that?” Arthur turned to Dutch who had been right behind him. Within a moment, he saw Charles and John race to their horses.

“Ya comin’?!” John asked, looking to Arthur as he threw his leg over his horse, Old Boy. Arthur nodded, quickly heading to Hosea’s horse. “Came from the north!” John gave his horse a swift kick to the side, guiding him in the direction of the scream.

“So much for layin’ low’.” Arthur sighed before going off into the night to see what was going on so near to their camp.

 


 

April 19, 1899
Rhodes Parlour House, Rhodes, Lemoyne

“Joshua!” Eleanor Beaumont screamed as she watched her fiance get shot in the shoulder just outside of the Rhodes Parlour House in Rhodes, Lemoyne. While not a working woman, Eleanor had been there supporting her long time fiance, Joshua Gray,as he won multiple hands of poker. The son of Leigh Gray, the sheriff in Rhodes, had been on a winning streak these past two days. On the third day, he asked his love to be in attendance as he won the largest sum the parlour house had seen since the Civil War. This should have been a victory for all those in Rhodes as the previous record holder was a union soldier. It was time that the record returned home. Just not to a Gray.

Eleanor could see the regret in his sad, brown eyes as he fell down, blood pouring out of his back as the bullet ripped through his skin. “I’m…” And with that, the Gray son collapsed, his blood now soaking the soil. A Gray tradition in the small, southern town. She should not have been there that night.

“You shut your damn mouth!” A man, dressed in a grey uniform of the confederacy slapped the young blonde across the face as the other men looted the very warm corpse of her beloved. Eleanor noticed that he was too young to be wearing the disgraced uniform of a fallen civilization. “You know what we’re going to do with ya, Miss Beaumont?” The man spoke with lust in his rough voice as the woman held her reddening cheek. She shook her head, her blonde curls delicately followed. The man laughed, dragging his rough and muddy finger over her cheek, leaving a streak of mud below one of her bottle green eyes. After catching a tear, he gave an ominous laugh and licked his finger, ridding it of the salty tear. “We’re gunna have our way with you.” That was the last thing Eleanor remembered before the very same man knocked her out by hitting her head with the butt of his pistol.

The next three weeks happened between spells of darkness and lucidity. Of what Eleanor could remember, there were talks of taking her across state lines. Either west to The Heartlands or north to Roanoke Ridge, both in New Hanover, to hold her for ransom at the beginning. Though, ultimately, she would have no idea where she would end up. Nor did she know if she would wind up there dead or alive. The first time she woke, she first noticed the cold. The simple green frock she had worn that fateful night was suited for more for the weather of Lemoyne than the cool of New Hanover. The next thing she did was take stock of herself. She was alive, at the very least. She felt pain in her head where the stock of the pistol hit her head. She could feel the rhythm of the horse’s gallops as they moved through the backways to wherever they were going.It occasionally knocked the wind out of her. And she was tied up. But she was alive. To her, that was all that mattered. When they did finally stop, it was night fall. And she was still awake.

The man who was riding the horse Eleanor was on got off and moved towards her as the others began to set up camp. “Lookie here!” He grinned as he gripped the back of her head to hold it up. “Somebody’s awake.” He chuckled, letting go of her head before he moved to take her off the horse.

“‘Bout time!” Another voice said as the honey blonde was moved from the horse to a tree. The man carrying her threw her down to the ground, hitting her head on the trunk of the tree. She was out again.

Another time Eleanor was lucid, they were at another camp and she was tied to another tree. Her frock was torn at the skirt, her shoes and stockings were gone, and her pantalettes were torn, exposing her most intimate parts to the men when they wanted her. Eleanor felt sick at the thought of what she wasn’t conscious for. That feeling did not stop her from hearing the conversation around the campfire however.

“The Grays oughta pay a lot of her, ya think?” She heard one comment. Though, the young woman doubted it. She wasn’t a Gray, she was the daughter of a farmer who worked his land just north of Rhodes. And the Gray family did not approve of the marriage as Eleanor was not of the pedigree the Grays expected. To them, Joshua should have been marrying a debutant from Saint Denis. If anything, they would blame her for the death of their son. And whoever was actually responsible for the death and kidnapping.

It would be three week before Eleanor would become lucid enough to develop a plan. She was aware of her situation and of her misfortunes. Her frock was now torn to shreds, her shift barely covered her most intimate parts, and her pantalettes were gone completely. Once more, she was tied to a tree while the men slept near the dying fire after getting drunk in a nearby town. She was almost completely exposed to the cooler than what she was used to in the temperatures of New Hanover. She knew she had to formulate a plan, and quickly. She had to get away from these men. She knew what she had to do. It would either result in her being saved or in her death. Either of those were better than what she was already living. Taking a deep breath, she closed her and mustered all her courage. She would need it.

“HELP!!” She cried out, moving side to side in hopes that the men were heavy sleepers in their drunken stupor and that she could wiggle her way out of the rope. “HELP!!!” She cried again, her voice stronger as she continued to fight against the rope holding her frame to the trunk of a tree. She figured that if someone was nearby, they would be here soon enough. If not that, then she knew that the men would kill soon enough. She was willing to die fighting. “Someone!” The men were starting to wake up now, the lightest and least intoxicated sleeper of the crew already pushing himself off of the ground. Eleanor was beginning to regret her decision. She was only 21, she was too young to die.

“Please!!!” Tears were starting to form in her eyes as she began to realize that she was more than likely going to die. The man began advancing towards her as the others began to quickly get up. His gun was drawn as the others moved to their horses, guns in hand. She supposed that if they were going to kill her, they’d have to flee her death scene fairly quickly. Everything was moving slowly now, almost as if time was coming to a halt. As the man moved closer, Eleanor closed her as she anticipated her demise. And then…..

BANG


Eleanor opened her eyes timidly. The man who had been advancing on her had fallen, a wound now in his head. Time suddenly sped up back to its normal rhythm. She could see that a fire fight had broken out between the men who kidnapped her and those who were hopefully saving her. One of the men who took her from Rhodes moved quickly towards Eleanor and attempted to make quick work of cutting her ties to the tree as opposed to shooting her dead. He wasn’t quick enough though.Within seconds, his warm blood was splattered across her face as his body fell. With that, it was over. The fire fight ended just as quickly as it started. She was alive and the men who stole her away were all dead.

With her eyes open, she could see the faces of those around her. Men. They were men. The tears continued to fall from her green eyes as she tried to assess the situation. One of the men, who was darker than the rest, began to untie her from the tree. When her hands were freed, she covered her face as a sob came from her. “You’re alright now, miss.” His voice was calm and steady, it was reassuring. The man moved a foot from her, giving her the space. It was when he gave her space that he realized the status of her clothing. She could tell a blush came to his dark cheeks as he stepped away to the other men who were putting out the fire. Eleanor watched as they conversed quickly. She watched as a blond man removed his coat to hand to the dark of the two. He came back to Eleanor and extended the coat to her. “I am sorry, you can cover yourself.” The young woman nodded, taking the coat and wrapping it around her body.

“Thank you.” She nodded, her voice barely above a whisper but her southern twang still prevalent in her voice. The man motioned for her to join the other two men. One gave her the tip of his hat, the blonde one nodded.

“What is your name?” The man who had been helping her asked as the blond man reached into the satchel and produced a piece of jerky.

“Here ya go. Eat somethin’.” His voice was gruff, but gentle at the same time. There was a warmth to it. These men would protect her.

“Thank you.” She spoke, a rasp became apparent as she brought her voice up beyond a whisper as she took the food offered to her. Before answering the question, she took a bite. She was starving. The same man left the group as she savoired the salty taste of the jerky. When the man came back, he came with a canteen and offered it to her after he removed the cap. She took it gladly and drank most of the water in it. It felt like an eternity since she had food or drink. “Thank you.” She repeated, returning the almost empty canteen. The man waved it away as if insisting that she continue drinking. She nodded in thanks. “Um, my name is Eleanor Beaumont.”

“Whatchu doin’ so far from home?” The blond asked, obvious confusion in his voice.

“Arthur,” The gentleman who had been helping her scolded the blond. “Miss Eleanor has clearly been through enough.” The man continued. The blond offered a shrug, going into his satchel and producing a cigarette and match. Once he lit his cigarette, he inhaled and went to his horse.

“I’m Charles Smith.” Theman introduced himself as Eleanor brought the coat closer to her body. “That man is Arthur Morgan.” He nodded towards the blond. “That John Marsten.” He motioned to the other man with a scar on his face. She took another sip of water as she memorized the face with names.

Arthur looked to the other two, knowing he would have to make the ultimate decision. Do they return the girl to Rhodes or do they take her back to camp. If they took her to Rhodes, anyone looking for her may have thought they were the ones who kidnapped her. On the other hand, she would have been another mouth to feed. One was better than the other. Sighing, he motioned for the two to join him at the horse.

“We can’t just leave her.” Charles pointed out a fact that was already obvious to Arthur.

“We’ll take her back to camp.” He agreed, nodding. “I want you two to scout ahead, make sure none of their friends are hangin’ around. No one follows you.” The men nodded, making their way to their horses as Arthur approached Eleanor. When he was near her, she looked up to him with her big, green eyes made greener by the reddening of the whites of them. Arthur had done a lot of bad things in his life, but he could never imagine hurting a woman. “We have a camp not far from here. There’s women. A kid. It ain’t like this.” His voice was a little gentler than before. It wasn’t hard for him to imagine Eliza in this position.

In the past, he had hoped that her death was quick. Same with Isaac. He hoped that neither of them had to suffer. It was clear to Arthur now, that this woman had suffered. For how long, he wondered, did she live like this. Had it been days? Weeks? He had a chance to do here what no one did for Eliza and his son.
He removed his hat and ran one of his hands through his hair before putting the hat back on. “You’ll be safe there and we’ll find a way to get you home.” He continued to speak gently as she wiped a tear away from her cheek. With a nod, she agreed.

“Alright….” She continued to nod, allowing Arthur to lead her to his horse. He quickly got onto the horse before extending his hand to the tiny girl to help her on.Eleanor was sure she could handle this. The camp had to be close. She could do this. He lifted her with ease, placing her on the seat rise between his body and the horn. He made sure to leave a loose grip while keeping her steady as she was seated with her legs dangling to one side.

For a moment, relief washed over her. She was warm, she had food and water. She allowed herself to relax a moment, the sensation of riding was different. For the first time since she was taken, she wasn’t on the back of a horse. As she felt Arthur’s torso against her back, however, her breathing quickened and her mind flashed to when the wind would be knocked out of her with the movement of a horse.

“Stop!” She cried out, hitting Arthur’s arm. “Please stop!” Tears began to fall freely from her eyes once more as a sob escaped her. The man did as he was told, stopping the horse and quickly getting off. He looked up to Eleanor, her face clearly panic stricken as she pushed herself off of the horse, landing on her knees. A loud sob escaped her and Arthur just stared unsure of what to do. He did not want to touch her to comfort her. He could only give her space.

Arthur had seen something like this before. Mostly from soldiers. They thought that they were in the war again, one called it “soldiers fatigue”. As Eleanor cried amongst the scorched wood, he began to kneel down, putting himself near to her level.”Shh….” He spoke gently, keeping his voice low. “You’re alright now, miss. They ain’t gunna hurt you anymore.” He was shocked how delicate he was with her, the hardened outlaw had not expected his evening to go as such. He was finding himself thankful that Marston wasn’t around. He would probably give Arthur hell for this site. Not now but later.

Slowly, Arthur stood back up and moved to the other side of Silver Dollar. He grabbed the reins and brought them over the horse’s head. He then moved back to Eleanor and knelt down. “How ‘bout this.... I’m going to put you back on the horse, alright?” She nodded, using the sleeve of Arthur’s coat she wiped away the tears as another sob escaped her. “And I’m gunna lead ol’ Silver Dollar back to the camp. You just make sure you hold on tight.” She nodded again, slowly pushing herself up from the ground. She allowed Arthur to grab her by the waist and place her on the saddle. As he grabbed the reins, she adjusted the coat and took the horn of the saddle.

Relief came over Eleanor once again as Arthur began to move the horse forward. This was different. The space and respect he was allowing her gave her cause to think that she would be safe. As the two moved through the moonlight night, Eleanor’s mind tried to piece together the events or what she knew of what happened. She was beaten, starved, and raped. Her body ached and her stomach rumbled. While her loud sobs had stopped, she still cried. She mourned what she lost. “Joshua….” She murmured, her voice shaky with emotion. Arthur heard the name but he thought it was best not to ask her what that name meant to her. Though, Arthur figured that this Joshua was someone those men killed. Someone important to her. Arthur had to look ahead to make sure they were going the right direction.

“Who’s there!?” A voice, unfamiliar to Eleanor but very familiar with Arthur, called out into the night.

“It’s me!” Arthur replied, moving the horse through the wooded area to a clearing. As Arthur hitched Silver Dollar to a post, Eleanor looked to the clearing. The camp was large, music was playing, and she could see the moon, it illuminated the camp along with the campfire and a smaller one off to the right. Arthur came to the side of the horse Eleanor was facing and held his arms out to her. “C’mon, now.” Eleanor complied, sliding down from the saddle into the arms of one of her rescuers. As he placed her down, two people came towards them. A man and a woman, both older.

“Oh, my dear!” The woman came to her and wrapped a blanket around her. “I’m Ms. Grimshaw.” The woman, Ms. Grimshaw, seemed kind. “That’s Dutch.” The older woman motioned to the older man.

“Miss Beaumont!” He exclaimed, boisterous as if it weren’t night time. “Welcome to the camp! I am Dutch van der Linde, leader of this merry band of misfits!” His voice was gruff yet charming and smooth as fine silk as he announced himself despite Ms. Grimshaw’s introduction. His voice almost reminded Eleanor of her father. Only her father was French. “We’re going to take care of you here. Mr. Morgan!” Dutch looked from Eleanor to Arthur.

“Yes, Dutch….” Arthur, Eleanor noted, seemed annoyed.

“You will take Miss Beaumont into town tomorrow,” The two men followed the women as Ms. Grimshaw led Eleanor to her tent. “Make sure she has clothes, shoes, all she needs.” Arthur nodded, knowing there was no use in fighting right now.

“Right now, she needs food and to wash.” The older woman smiled kindly to Eleanor before looking over her shoulder to the two men. “Leave her with me. Mr. Morgan, you have done enough. Go rest.” Arthur knew better than to go against Ms. Susan Grimshaw’s orders. While the women did, whatever they did, he finally got his stew and enjoyed time by the fire and listened as Hosea played guitar, occasionally accompanied by Mary-Beth’s singing..

“Thank you.” Eleanor spoke softly as Ms. Grimshaw brought Eleanor into her tent. The older woman offered the younger a reassuring smile as she took Arthur’s coat off of the poor girl. She assessed the damage done to Eleanor’s clothes or what remained of them. It made Susan feel sick knowing what men could do.

“Think nothing of it, dear.” Susan smiled, grabbing a piece of cloth from her chest. “I am going to step out to heat up some oil and water for your hair, take your time, and we’ll get all that mud off of you. Alright, dear?” Eleanor nodded, watching as the older woman left the tent. While she was gone, Eleanor removed her tattered clothing. They belonged in a fire now. She tossed the clothing aside and stepped in front of the mirror Ms. Grimshaw kept in the tent. Her body was bruised. It was a sight that caused Eleanor to cry once more as her hands ran over her body. There was a bruise on the right side of her torso, fresh and purple. It’s more yellow twin on her left side. There were more bruises on her arms and her stomach, a gash on her leg, and she was dirty, covered in mud, dirt, and blood. The only trace of her pale skin was on her face, where tears streamed down. Once more, Eleanor fell to her knees as she covered her face. That was how Ms. Grimshaw found her.

The older woman felt pity for the poor creature laying on the ground, naked and crying. Once she sat the kettle and pot down, the older woman grabbed the cloth to cover the girl. “Shhh, shhh…..It’s alright.” Ms. Grimshaw rubbed the girl’s back gently as she let out more sobs. “It’s okay to cry.” She reassured Eleanor, who moved from her position on the ground to embrace the first woman she had seen since she was stolen away. Ms. Grimshaw was taken aback by this but did embrace the young woman. “You’ll be right as rain soon.” She reassured, her voice was soft as she spoke. “All of this will be a bad memory.” She continued to rub the young woman’s back for another few moments before pulling away.

“Let's get you cleaned up? Yes?” Ms. Grimshaw cradled the young woman’s face, stroking her cheek gently. Susan did not have any children. Life did not afford her that. It was probably for the best though. She couldn’t do what John and Abigail had done, bring a child into this life. Someone would have to raise that boy to be a decent person. But now, she had to tend to this poor soul. With the water in the kettle, Ms. Grimshaw gently washed Eleanor’s skin, revealing a rosy, pale complexion. With the oil in the pot, she groomed Eleanor’s honey colored hair that was matted and dirty. “Tomorrow, when Mr. Morgan takes you into Valentine, make sure he takes you to the saloon. There’s a barber there and he can care more for your hair than I could.” Ms. Grimshaw advised as she rinsed the oil from Eleanor’s hair before putting it into a braid.

“I have some clothes for you, but we will get you your own clothes tomorrow. For now, use these.” Ms. Grimshaw returned to her chest to pull out a white shift, an indigo skirt, a white shirtwaist, a light brown belt, and a light brown jacket of her own. Eleanor changed into them, allowing Miss Grimshaw to help. “Look at you.” The older woman smiled, touching the younger woman’s cheek once more. “Better already.” She nodded, hoping to instill some hope into the girl. “Let's get you some stew.” Eleanor nodded stepping out of the tent after gathering Arthur’s coat.

The camp was bustling, Eleanor noted, even at night. Around the fire, a woman was cradling a child who was out like a light as an older man strummed a slow version of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer”. A suiting lullabye as the child slept. The man who greeted her when she arrived at camp was doing a slow waltz with a woman about Eleanor’s age. This was a camp of travelers, Eleanor surmised, despite Mr. van der Linde calling them misfits. Where they were traveling, she couldn’t possibly know. As they approached a tent, just off of the one near where the man and woman were dancing.

“Mr. Morgan.” Ms. Grimshaw, announced their arrival to his tent. He had been lying down, his father’s dark hat covering the upper half of his face, and a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. Normally, he would have stayed that way. Maybe he would have taken a drag of his cigarette before acknowledging whoever was encroaching on his space. Maybe he would have ignored the person completely. Not this time, however. The blond, tanned man took the cigarette from his thick lips and threw it to the ground as he moved his hat back to the top of his head.

“Ms. Grimshaw.” Arthur stood up, nodding to the older woman. “Miss Beaumont.” His tone was softer, nodding to the woman they had rescued. Arthur would not be the first to admit that he was taken aback by the looks of Eleanor. The light in his tent illuminated Ms. Grimshaw’s work. Underneath the dirt she was covered in was a woman with a rosy pink complexion; with her hair away from her face, he could appreciate her features. The fullness of her lips with a pronounced cupid’s bow, accenting her slightly down turned mouth that was neither wide or narrow. It was almost as if she was in a permanent pout. Her nose fit her diamond shaped face. And her eyes….the gunman could easily get lost in the bright, bottle green eyes that were perfectly spaced, wide, and curious, yet they were tired and heavy with the weight the world forced her to bear. Miss Eleanor Beaumont was beautiful

“Mr. Morgan?” Ms. Grimshaw brought Arthur back to reality. His wind whipped face became more red as blood rushed to his cheeks. He knew he was caught staring. He expected a lecture on his manners from the older woman.

“Yeah…” The brawny man cleared his throat, kicking the dirt under his feet as he turned his attention from admiring the woman in front of him to the matriarch of the van der Linde gang. The honey haired beauty extended out the coat he had so graciously lent to her for the sake of modesty.

“Thank you.” She spoke, the sweet twang of her voice was different. Not unlike that of the women in the camp, but there was something to it. Something Arthur couldn’t place.

“It ain’t a problem.” Another nod came from the gunner as he took his coat back and threw it over his own clothing chest.

“I’ll fetch you some stew.” Ms. Grimshaw excused herself, giving Eleanor a reassuring touch on the elbow before going to the stew pot.

The gunman and the former victim stood in silence for a moment. Arthur was staring again, memorizing her features. He would commit them to paper in his journal later along with her story. Almost everyone in this camp had a tragic story. Arthur included. He thought, however, that the story of Miss Eleanor Beaumont would be the most tragic based on what he knew of her from this night.

“There ain’t a tent for you.” He started, Eleanor nodding to the fact.

“I know.” How could there be? She was an unexpected guest. At least she wouldn’t be tied to a tree this evening. That was a blessing. “I suppose I’m just happy to not to be where I was.” Her down turned lips turned to a small smile as she shrugged her shoulders.

“Ya know, my bed roll is good ‘nough for me.” Arthur looked to his saddle on the ground. He should be on Boadicea. His beloved horse was gone now, though. Dead and gone along with his hopes for the future of the gang. “We gotta fire roarin’.” He nodded, bending down to grab his navy blue bed roll. “You sleep here.” He motioned to his own cot as he stood up right.

“I couldn’t-”

“Yes you can.” Arthur interrupted her before she could deny the kindness. Eleanor smiled genuinely, a small release of air escaping her. He had shown her more kindness than she had expected to experience as of late. The smile caught Arthur off guard. Boy, is she a beautiful woman, Arthur thought. He quickly shook his head, hoping to get rid of it. She wasn’t going to be with them long. It was best to continue thinking of her as the stranger she was. Miss Eleanor Beaumont would soon be out of their life soon enough. “Don’t you worry about me.”

Soon enough, Ms. Grimshaw returned with a plate of stew and handed it to Eleanor. Arthur stepped to the side and motioned for her to sit on his cot.

“G’night.” He tipped his hat, bed roll under his arm as he left the two ladies alone. As he set out his roll near the fire, and near Eleanor, he made sure to check on her, make sure that Ms. Grimshaw was being kind and that no one was bothering her. Abigail and Jack had long since moved to her tent, Dutch and Molly were asleep, as was most of the camp save for John and Javier on look out, and Hosea continued to rest by the fire.

“Probably a good thing Micah isn’t here.” The older of the two spoke softly as to not wake anyone.

Arthur nodded in agreement, his eyes trained on the burning wood. “Yeah….She’s been through enough without that son of a bitch loomin’ over ‘er.” Hosea chuckled, agreeing with Arthur’s sentiment towards one of the newer members of the gang.

“He’d probably complain about another ‘freeloader’.” Hosea used a term Micah Bell used often to describe anyone at the camp that wasn’t Micah Bell. “‘Another mouth to feed.” He chuckled.

“God damn Micah.” Arthur shook his head as he reached into his satchel for his leather bound journal and a pencil. He looked over his shoulder towards his tent. Eleanor was asleep now, her lips slightly part forming an “O” shape. Hosea noticed the look on his face. Arthur was hardened by life, but there was still a softness to him. Jack Marston brought out the softness, despite Arthur’s protests to Abigail and John when the child asked his Uncle Arthur for something. Arthur was as much a son of Dutch as he was a son of Hosea. The older of the two men watched closely as the younger sketch in his newest journal, one that he bought before they were forced out of Blackwater.

“Goodnight, Arthur.” Hosea pushed himself up from his seat, knowing full well that Arthur was lost in his journal.

As the fire began to fade, it became more difficult to write. Admitting defeat against the night, Arthur placed his journal and pencil back in his satchel. He moved to lay on his back, grabbing his hat to place over his face to block the morning sunlight when it decided to begin a new day. Before he placed his father’s dark hat, he looked to Eleanor once more. He sighed as he watched the top of the blanket move up and down with each breath. He wondered what she dreamed about, if she even dreamed. She was going to be trouble, he knew. But trouble, Arthur could handle.

“You’re gunna be protected here.” He barely whispered, his eyes moving from the steady signs of breathing to her parted lips. “Ain’t no one gunna harm you.” With that unheard promise, Arthur placed the hat over his face and got some much needed sleep.

Chapter Text

From the diary of Arthur Morgan

 

May 10, 1899

 

We rescued a girl last night. She says her name is Eleanor Beaumont from Lemoyne. It looked like she was in a bad way. I’ve seen what other folk do to women, I have never seen anyone as bad as her though. Ms. Grimshaw said that when she helped Miss Beaumont clean up, she saw dark bruises and more cuts then we saw when we got her from those bastards. I am not a good man. I have not lived a good life. I’ve done bad things, killed people. Innocent people. And not so innocent. I have never touched a woman without her permission though. Let alone hurt one. Or take them so far away from their home. I see Eliza in almost every woman. Miss Beaumont is someone’s Eliza. Someone ought to be looking for her. I’m not going to press her for her story though. She’s hard to read. She’s guarding herself. I don’t blame her. She’s likely gone from one prison to another. Hopefully the girls can make her feel welcome and show her the ropes until we figure out how to get her home without people thinking we did the deed. I vow to protect her while she’s with us, though.

 

(On the opposite page, Arthur has drawn Eleanor’s perfectly, parted lips from when he got caught up watching her sleep with the initials “E.B.” in his best cursive)

 


 

May 10, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, The Heartlands, New Hanover

 

How long had she been asleep? Days? Weeks?  Did she dream the last few months? The engagement on Christmas? Watching her beloved Joshua die in front of her? Tears began to well in Eleanor’s eyes as she laid in a strange cot, in a strange place. Her mind filled in the details of what had happened. She had been kidnapped. Her fiance was dead. She had been beaten between sessions of the men forcing themselves on her. She had been violated. The woman she was a month ago was not the woman she was now. As she thought of what was happening in the moment; a camp was coming alive with the smells of coffee and animal fat permeating the open space. The blanket covering her and the pillow supporting her head smelled of woodsy tobacco and earth. She was reminded of home. Had this been a normal day in the Southfield Flats of Scarlett Meadows, her stepmother, Charlotte, would be frying up bacon while her father sat at the table and smoked his pipe; Charlotte’s two daughters, Anoitnette and Louise, would be making themselves presentable for a day of husband hunting in the big city of Saint Denis. But this wasn’t a normal day. And this wasn’t home.

 

  As Eleanor stared up at the canvas, she wondered how long it would be before she returned to that sight of Antoinette fussing with her hair as Louise worked on her corset. Then she wondered if her family was even looking for her. Would her picture be placed in popular hang outs so traveling strangers could keep a lookout for the stolen woman? Or was she presumed dead. They were east of the lawless west, but that did not mean crime didn’t exist. The thoughts caused tears to begin falling on her now clean face. She pulled the unfamiliar blanket closer to her, hoping that the familiar smells would calm her as she thought of the good things around her. There was a child at this camp. That was good. There were women at this camp. That was also good. She was not tied up. That was definitely good. She would be fed and clothed. For now, she was going to be taken care of. Maybe even returned. The good, finally, was going to outweigh the bad.

 

Eleanor was shaken from her thoughts by Ms Susan Grimshaw, who announced her presence by knocking on the cart behind the cot. The older woman entered with a basin of hot water, a clean linen cloth, and breakfast. “Good morning, my dear.” Her voice was soft and gentle, as if speaking to a wounded child. “May I sit down?” The older woman motioned to the edge of the cot with the basin of water under her arm. Eleanor nodded as she sat up wiping the tears from her eyes. 

 

“I trust you slept well?” The girl nodded as Ms. Grimshaw placed the basin on Mr. Morgan’s trunk and handed Eleanor the full plate of plain oatmeal with a couple of peaches mixed in. “My sister had a girl named Eleanor, called her Ellie.” Ms. Grimshaw offered a kind smile as she dipped a white linen cloth into the water. “She was a pistol!” The woman laughed, holding her hands out with the cloth. “May I see your hands dear?” Eleanor complied, knowing the woman was just going to finish the job that was started the night before. While her face had been cleaned, there was still blood and dirt around her nails, in the folds of her skin, and very much still in her once naturally whirled, curly hair.

 

The moment Miss Grimshaw walked into her tent, Eleanor was reminded of her stepmother. Kind, but stern when need be. Charlotte was the only mother she had ever known. Lenore Beaumont had passed on shortly after the birth of her only living child. Where Eleanor was sure most men would hold that against their children, especially a daughter, Henri was kind. He even took inspiration for Eleanor’s name from her mother. As the girl grew up, Henri made sure to tell the stories of her dearly departed Mama. There were stories of when Henri and Lenore met on the crossing from France to America in 1869. They were both young and in search of a better life. Shortly after the journey, they would be wed, and would try for children for seven years before Eleanor. Henri told her of the brothers and sisters she had that, as he put it, “God needed more.” A devout Catholic, he had to believe that his wife and children passed on to Heaven. Eleanor wondered if he thought the same of his only daughter now. As she laid, being taken care of a strange woman in a strange land, her mind wondered about her family.

 

 Despite lacking her family and her mind reminding her of all that transpired, Eleanor felt a comfort from this woman because of the fact that Ms. Grimshaw and Charlotte had that similar air about them. That was why Eleanor trusted Ms. Grimshaw so freely, she supposed. With each wipe of the cloth, she could see her more of her pale skin. Her hands no longer looked withered, save from the rope burns around her wrist. Ms. Grimshaw assured that they would fade soon, just like the memory of the terrible ordeal that ended no more than twelve hours ago. There had to be some truth to what the older woman was saying, Eleanor just didn’t see it yet.

 

“Mr. Morgan is going to take you into Valentine today.” The caretaker reminded her, slowly starting work on Eleanor’s dirty braided hair as she ate her oatmeal. The woman was determined to make sure the poor girl didn’t have a brutish barber tugging at the honey curls. “The inn has a good bath service. I’m sure once you have a good, hot bath that you’ll be in better spirits.” Eleanor doubted that, but she offered the woman a small smile, nodding gently.

 

The woman continued her work in silence as Eleanor observed the camp. To her right was a large tent and what looked to a food wagon. There was a rather large and round man butchering whatever kill the hunters brought in. At his side was a much smaller, blonde woman, chopping up vegetables. In front of her was a group of men, surrounding a fire. One she recognized as Charles; the others were unfamiliar to her. It included an older man about the same age as her father in a blue hat, a Mexican gentleman, as well as a girl with a dark complexion; they were gathered around, drinking coffee and talking about an incident in Blackwater. And to the left, the woman who was holding the child last night was advancing towards the tent, the little boy in toe with a bunch of flowers in his hands.

 

“Hello!” This woman was beautiful and her voice was kind, a little rough with experience, but kind nonetheless. “You must be Eleanor!” Her smile was warm and kind, the little boy was clearly her son. Including her, that was five women in this camp and they were free to roam about as they pleased. No one, that Eleanor could see, was tied up. “My name’s Abigail, this is Jack.” The little boy waved, causing Eleanor to offer him a bright, genuine smile. The boy seemed happy; this was a good sign.

 

“Hi!” The young boy said excitedly, offering Eleanor a handful of yellow wild flowers. “These are for you Miss Eleanor!” This caused her to laugh softly as she accepted the welcoming gift.

 

“Why, thank you, Jack!” She mustered up as much enthusiasm as she could to let the boy know that she truly appreciated the gesture. 

 

“Uncle Arthur said that pretty girls should get flowers. But these were the only ones I could find.” Jack seemed slightly disappointed in his offering to the new face in camp. But Eleanor was pleased with the kindness.

 

“They’re perfect.” She reassured the boy, reaching out to gently touch his cheek. “They may be the best flowers I ever got!” That was a lie, Joshua once bought her flowers from the hot house in Saint Denis. Little Jack didn’t need to know that though. “How old are ya, mon fils ?” She spoke to the little one as her father would speak to her. Soft, low, and using terms of endearment in French. He always said that love sounded better in French and business was best spoken in plain English. Which always caused Eleanor to laugh, given his thick French accent that miraculously didn’t transfer to his child. 

 

“I’m four years old, Miss Eleanor!!” The women in the tent laughed at the excitement of the little boy. So far, Eleanor could deduce that this camp and the company were miles better than her previous one. There was a child, and these two women were kind and able to help. Though she was still uneasy, Eleanor could feel any trepidation slowly recede. More than ever, she was convinced that these folks would help her return home.

 

After Ms. Grimshaw wrapped the honey blonde braid in a bit of twine, she gave the refugee a maternal pat on the back. “Now, you can join us outside, get to know the land or you can stay in here and rest. You’re not a prisoner anymore, dear.” A soft smile accompanied the offer. Eleanor offered a nod, causing Abigail and and Ms. Grimshaw to share a smile. “Now, Miss Eleanor, this is just a fair warnin’.” Ms. Grimshaw paused after Abigail and little Jack went off to speak to the man with the blue hat. “Once you’re well, I expect you to pull some weight ‘round here. Till we get you home.” Eleanor once more nodded, understanding what Ms. Grimshaw had said. With that the woman left the tent, leaving Eleanor alone. As she sat there, contemplating the tone of this camp, her fingers moved over the simple braid. She could tell that her hair was still matted, but Ms. Grimshaw had tried her best. And then there was Abigail and little Jack. As well as Mr. Morgan. They had all been kind to her; even saving her from lord only knew what. Probably death at some point. Who are these people? She thought, pushing herself off of Mr. Morgan’s cot.

 

Eleanor had made quick work of arranging the blanket and pillow so it looked acceptable. When it was to her satisfaction, she stepped out into the sun. It wasn’t enough to call it noon but it was certainly later in the morning than what she was used to. The daughter of a farmer was used to waking up with the sun. Though, that was a forgotten concept within the time she had been taken. Still, she was up and free to move about. There was hustle and bustle within the camp itself, people setting things up while men moved heavy objects. They were new here, she guessed, able to see the state of things in the light of day. Before completely stepping away from Mr. Morgan’s tent, Eleanor grabbed the plate where her oatmeal had been and stepped away towards the wagon with the food. There, she saw another woman. She was another blonde but curvier than the one she had seen earlier.

 

“Hi there! I’m Karen!” A blonde smiled brightly, extending her hand and a bottle of something from a crate behind the wagon. “You probably deserve this a lot more than I do!” She laughed gently as Eleanor took the bottle with her free hand. She gave it a sniff and pulled a face. It was bourbon and Eleanor Henrietta Beaumont did not like the smell  or taste of bourbon! Karen laughed softly as Eleanor shook her head and handed the bottle back to her. “Well, it ain’t for everyone.” 

 

“‘Specially before noon!” The smaller blonde said pointedly from a tub of dirty dishes. “I’ll take that.” She motioned to the plate in Eleanor’s hand.

 

“Thank you.” The newer blonde nodded, handing over the plate. “Y’all probably already know who I am. But just to make it proper, Eleanor Beaumont.” She offered the other two blondes a smile. 

 

“Mrs. Sadie Adler.” The smaller blonde’s voice was gruff with a hint of sweetness. 

 

“Mrs. Adler’s new here too.” Karen pointed out, taking another swig of drink. 

 

“‘Nother gang killed my husband.” Sadie said, the sweetness in her voice disappearing. “Damn o’Driscolls.” She muttered under her breath while she attended to the scrubbing. Eleanor wondered the details of Mrs. Adler’s story. Perhaps she could find a kindred spirit here in this camp. “Don’t worry though. So long as Ms. Grimshaw don’t put you with Pearson,” she motioned to the portly man working at a cast iron pot, “disrespectful brute.” She muttered once more, dunking Eleanor’s plate into the water before wiping it dry and placing it on a stack. “‘Sides that, everyone here is decent.”

 

“‘Cept Micah.” Karen pointed out, Sadie nodding in agreement. “He’s just a bit rough ‘round the edges.”

 

“Ain’t got no respect, ‘specially for women.” Sadie added, turning her back to her chores to face the women. Sadie had only been with the group for a few days, but she knew it was true. “He ain’t here.” Sadie reassured, crossing her arms over her chest. “You have family?”

 

“Yeah,” Eleanor nodded, pulling the borrowed coat closer. “Fiance too. They, uh, shot him.” Sadie’s eyes softened a bit as she looked at a younger version of herself.

 

“Woo boy….” Karen looked between the two. She was bound to say something inappropriate. “I better start hustlin’ before Ms. Grimshaw starts her blettin’. Welcome to camp, Miss Eleanor.”

 

“Thank you, Miss Karen.” Eleanor smiled, nodding to Karen before turning her attention to Sadie. “I’m sorry about your husband.”

 

“And I’m sorry about your fiance.” Sadie leaned forward to touch Eleanor’s shoulder in reassurance. They could understand each other. “You will be well takin’ care of here. If anyone gives you trouble, you find me. I ain’t afraid of them.“ She laughed softly, “Barks worse than the bite, for the most part.”

 

“Thank you.” Eleanor’s green eyes welled up with tears. For the first time, they weren’t tears fueled by fear or sadness. Instead, they were quite happy. This Sadie Adler had filled her with a sense of relief. There was someone here who lost someone they loved to scoundrels, someone whose life had been uprooted. And Sadie, well, she would have hugged the young girl and let her cry. Dutch’s boisterous, showman’s voice runned the tender moment between the two sisters in grief.

 

“My dear!” Dutch interrupted, throwing an arm around the small woman. “I have decided to invest in you!” This declaration startled Eleanor, her green eyes wide. Why would he want to do a thing like that? She wasn’t going to be here long, was she? “I am investin’ in you, my dear.” He reiterated, bringing the girl closer to his body so that he could intoxicate her mind with his grand schemes for the future. “ I am sure you’ll prove to be a valuable part of the gang until we can get you back to your daddy.” Dutch removed his arm from Eleanor and began to walk backwards to his tent, his arms in the air in a victorious manner. “The Van der Linde gang is on the up and up!” He said excitedly before disappearing into his tent and calling for a Molly, a woman Eleanor had yet to meet.

 

“I better go find Mr. Morgan. Thank you, again, Mrs. Adler.” Eleanor smiled softly, touching her new companion’s hand.

 

“Call me, Sadie.” The sweetness was back in her voice. This made Eleanor smile. She had a friend.

 

“In Rhodes, my friends called me Elle. I’ll see you soon.” Eleanor left Sadie to do Pearson’s work while she hunted down Mr. Morgan. The camp wasn’t large, she knew. It would be a quick hunt. Come from the side of the wagon not exposed to the camp, Eleanor could tell Mr. Morgan was not in the immediate area. She looked left, Ms. Grimshaw was scrubbing a table. Dutch was reading a book. Whoever was on sentry last night slept in tents near the fire. To the right was that odd man with the odd accent, one she wasn’t accustomed to. Just beyond that was Mr. Morgan, chopping wood for the fire.

 

The man was strong, Eleanor knew. He had to have been. He lifted her like she weighed nothing; the condition they found her in did not seem to phase him. Though, given her conversation with Sadie, she could guess that the men of this outfit were used to seeing people in distressing situations. She watched as he bent down, grabbing a hunk of wood. He was tall, again, this she knew. He was enmorous in his own tent, his head barely clearing the canvas covering. In the sunlight though, she could appreciate the length of his body. He was taller than Joshua Gray, more brawny. Clearly built for hard labor or bringing down a brute. Yet, he was gentle. Something he had proven the previous night as she sobbed on the forest floor. Who is this man? She pondered, watching as he split the hunk of wood in two with ease. For a moment, she forgot Joshua Gray even existed. 

 

When Arthur finished the last hunk of wood, he became painfully aware that he had an audience.  He wiped the sweat off of his brow with the rolled up sleeve of his plaid, Carolina blue shirt as he stared at the girl puzzled. What could have been so fascinating that caused her to stop and stare? Surely, she had seen someone chop wood before. Hell, maybe she did it herself at times. He didn’t know. He did know that he was flushed from the labor and flush from embarrassment.  

 

“Miss Beaumont.” Arthur’s voice was gruff, hoarse from thirst. He grabbed a cup of water, axe still in hand, that was resting on the ground and took a long sip, satisfying the need for a drink. “I suppose you’re ready to head into Valentine.” He placed the axe down, leaning it on the side of the stump. He sat down on the stump, taking a moment to breath.

 

“I am.” She nodded, shoving her hands into the pockets of the coat. “Mr. Morgan-”

 

“Call me Arthur.”

 

“...Arthur....” A soft blush gathered in her cheeks. Arthur noted the change in cheek color. She was uncomfortable being informal with a man she hardly knew. But it also gave her such an unexplainable rush to call him by his given name. “Dutch said somethin’ about investin’ in me?”  She looked to him with her big, green eyes filled with a mixture of fear, confusion, and curiosity. Arthur merely rolled her eyes.

 

“His….theory….” He reached for the cup on the ground to take another sip of water. “Is that if he takes care of ya, you’ll do a few jobs for him. Inspire a sense of loyalty to him.” Arthur shrugged, unsure of why he was telling her all this. He felt awful for her, sure. And maybe under different circumstances, he would have relished in another pretty face for his ugly mug to stare at until he got used to her. He felt bad enough that dragged Sadie into this, though he was sure that she stayed of her own accord. She wanted Colm O’Driscoll dead as much as Dutch did.

 

This honesty of his statement caused Eleanor to laugh gently, shaking her head. “Mr. Mor...Arthur, I don’t know what’s goin’ on with Mr. Van de Linde ‘investin’’ in me, and I do not know what is going to happen. None of those do. And while I am thankful for bein’ rescued, I can’t tell if I was rescued from one prison to another. I will say, this prison has freedom in abundance compared to my previous one. But it’s still a prison. I won’t be free until I am back with father and even then, I may always be in a prison of some sort; in here.” She tapped the side of her head. She knew that she would reply those nights in her mind for the rest of her life.

 

“I do understand. You ain’t gunna be a prisoner here. I’ll make sure you make it to your daddy. Just….Gimme time.” He nodded as hope filled those beautiful green eyes. Arthur began to rummage through his satchel for his cigarettes. Once he found them, he placed one between his tightly drawn lips before striking a match he had in his pocket and lighting the cigarette. As he inhaled, the end of the cigarette burned bright and stopped when he was done inhaling. “Look,” he spoke as he exhaled the smoke from his lungs. “I ain’t ever harmed a woman; I do not intend to ever harm a woman.” Arthur’s mind had been filled with Eliza and Isaac since the previous evening. He wasn’t about to tell this stranger about the unfortunate fate of the mother and the son. She didn’t need to know that. Her mind and heart had enough sorrow to last the rest of her life. 

“Miss Beaumont, as long as you’re here, you are under my protection. Ya got that?” Eleanor nodded, keeping her green eyes trained on Arthur’s blue ones as he spoke. “Anyone gives you trouble, you talk to me.” Once again, she nodded. In less than ten minutes she had made friends with Sadie Adler and, dare she say, Arthur Morgan. Maybe one day she would understand why he was so keen on protecting her. She wouldn’t push for a reason today though.

 

Arthur stood up, the height difference between her five feet and two inches and his six feet and an inch became apparent to her for the first time. He was much taller than Joshua, broader too. Not only was he made for hard labor; Arthur Morgan was made to protect. And Eleanor’s average frame was made for ranching and farming. She wasn’t stick and bone like Mary-Beth or willowy like Sadie. For a moment, the pair admired the height difference and the build of their bodies. She was feminine to him, more feminine than Mary Gillis and Eliza, even after she had mothered a child. And to Eleanor, he was what every man should be. Broad shoulders to carry the weight of the world. Joshua had broad shoulders, but he was skinny. He had never worked a day in his life, after all. She did love him, dearly. But a man like Arthur is what she fantasized marrying as a younger girl.They caught each other’s eye for a moment and Arthur cleared his throat in order to break the tension.

 

“We should go….” His voice was low and husky. Eleanor nodded, breaking away from the moment. He began the walk to where the horses pastured, stopping at his tent to grab his saddle. “We got a couple horses,” He kept walking forward, knowing she was following him despite her soft foot steps. 

 

“Can you ride?” He asked as he began to saddle one of the horses, giving the mare a gentle pat before he started

 

“Of course. Been ridin’ since I was a child.”.

 

“Good.” He nodded. She could have more space. “This one doesn’t have a name, she’ll treat you well just the same. Ain’t that right, girl?” He patted the mare once more, giving her a smile before turning to Eleanor. “Do ya need help?”


Eleanor weighed the option for a brief moment. On one hand, she wanted to prove that she was perfectly capable. On the other, she shamefully wouldn’t have minded the feel of Mr. Morgan’s large hands around her waist. For the second time, she forgot Joshua existed. 

 

“No.” She shook her head, mad at herself for disgracing the memory of her late fiance. “I can do it.” She had to, she wouldn’t grow dependant on the thrill of Mr. Morgan or his help. “Thank you all the same, Arthur.” She offered him a small, sad smile as she placed her right foot in the stirrup and lifted herself so that she was sitting side saddle . She had to adjust the skirt so that she was comfortable before they set off.

 

“Ready?” Arthur asked once he was settled on Silver Dollar. He would need a horse of his own soon. Poor Boadicea . His poor, faithful mare lost in Blackwater.

 

“Lets go!”

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

May 12, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, NH

 

It took three days, but we are starting to settle. Ms. Grimshaw has the girls do chores and nags on any man who doesn’t do the heavy lifting. Almost like we never left Blackwater. Like we didn’t pick up two more mouths. Both feel like they’ve been here. Miss Beaumont seems to be happier each day. Her and Mrs. Adler seem to be thick as thieves. I will admit that seeing Miss Beaumont smile genuinely is a breath of fresh air. I suppose they have some things in common. And little Jack is attached to Miss Beaumont’s hip. She doesn’t seem bothered by it. I’m sure it’s a welcome distraction to her strife. She is a welcome distraction.

 

(Below the entry is a sketch of Eleanor Beaumont  and Jack sitting in a patch of wild flowers with the mountains behind)


May 12, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, NH

 

Je m’appelle…”   Eleanor spoke softly to little Jack Marston in French. The young boy sat on a rock while the young woman sat in the grass, her new, pale green skirt splayed around her as the sun reflected off the new white shirt she was eager to break in. 

 

“Jem apple….” The little boy tried to repeat, completely focused on the new face. When Eleanor laughed softly, the little face soured. He was so close, but his pronunciation was adorable. 

 

“Try it again.” The blonde encouraged as she sat up to grasp his tiny hands. “Think of it like a song.” She nodded, waiting for Jack to nod back. “ Je m’appelle…..” She moved his tiny hands to the rhythm of speech. She repeated the phrase and the hand movements until he started echoing the pattern. They spoke the words in unison, a bright smile was prominent in her eyes, her lips.

 

Abigail Marston and Arthur Morgan watched the pair together. He was fond of the boy and was happy to see him smile for the first time since they left West Elizabeth and headed into the mountains. He was pleased to see Abigail happy as well. She beamed as any good mother would when their child was experiencing happiness for the first time after such a long period. Maybe Dutch was right. Maybe they would be on the up and up and everything would be alright. Dutch was never wrong.

“You’re doing well, Jack!” Eleanor’s smile never faltered as she watched Jack repeat the phrase. “ Tres bon, mon petit! Repete apres moi: Je m’appelle Jack Marston. Jack looked to her in confusion as she spoke in complete French. He tried nonetheless

 

“She’s a wonder.” Abigail smiled, her hand placed over her heart. “Thank god you boys saved her. It’ll be sad when she leaves.” Arthur nodded in agreement. This girl was a wonder. Their adventure into Valentine proved that to him. 

 

It was hard to believe that just two days ago, this girl was sullen. In order to avoid being too indebted to Dutch, Miss Eleanor sold her engagement ring. How it never left her finger, Arthur would never know. He supposed she didn’t know either. She did know that it would fetch a good price. He admired her determination to not succumb to the charms of Dutch van der Linde and their way of life. With the funds of the ring, she was able to afford new clothes (mostly in shades and tones of green, Arthur noted), a set of boots, a saddle bag for her things, a ribbon for her hair (kelly green, Arthur once again noted), and the rest of the money she earned from the sentimental piece of jewelry she placed in her newly purchased satchel with a book.

 

The funds from Dutch provided Eleanor a bath. An unusual experience for Arthur as he had to convince the woman helping her along with the innkeeper that he was not the one who had bruised her. He was sure though that they wouldn’t believe the real story of how he and his outlaw friends heard her scream in the woods where they were hiding out. No. He was much better to end the truth. He had convinced them that they were settlers heading to California and they were attacked by bandits. Poor Arthur was unable to take out all the bandits before she got a swift kick to the side. He informed the girl helping Eleanor that he would meet her at the saloon.

 

While he waited for her, Arthur played a hand or several of poker with the locals. While he enjoyed the game, he was just doing this to pass the time. He knew her purchases were tacked onto Silver Dollar, a kindness from the general store clerk. He knew that the woman at the inn would take care of her. What he didn’t know was that his breath would stop when he looked up from his pair of 2s. In the light of the saloon, in her new outfit of a sky blue skirt and light brown vest that matched her duster coast, with her hair done into whirls of curls that were pulled back to showcase her features with a few tendrils to frame that diamond shaped face ….well, Eleanor Beaumont looked like a whole new person. He was ashamed at the thoughts that came to mind.

 

“Par’ner.” One of his fellow card players took his attention from the vision in front of the saloon and back to the game. “Ya checkin’, callin’, what are ya doing.” Arthur looked to his cards and then the community cards. He had won enough and he was not going to win this hand. 

 

“I’m foldin’.” He said plainly, tossing his cards to the man who dealt them and collected his earnings. He placed them in his pocket save for the $11 he would use to buy them a lamb fry up and a beer each. Before going up to Eleanor, he went to the bar to order those very things and to pay the man. When that was done, he found Eleanor seated in the window by the piano player. The gaslighting illuminated her features beautifully. His stomach felt just as it did when he first saw Mary Gillis. It was alarming. Especially since he knew that Eleanor was not going to be in his life for long. He was going to commit as much of her to his journal as he could. He was determined to document a piece of good in all this shit.

 

Now, two days later, Abigail caught him smiling not at Jack, but at the girl. She gave another a gentle, friendly nudge. She knew that look. It was the same look she gave John Marston when he first wandered into her brothel, besotted at the idea a handsome stranger could change the course of her life. He did, there was no doubting that. She became a mother and she learned to hate John just as strongly as she loved him. She could tell now that Arthur was the one smitten over a stranger. It would break Mary-Beth’s little romantic heart.

 

“Stop.” Arthur said with a low voice, acknowledging the nudge before turning away to do some chores of his own around the camp. Was it that obvious? He wondered as he moved to the bales of hay that needed moving. Abigail’s nudge confirmed that it was, but perhaps only to Abigail. They were close, like brother and sister. It was a bond forged by her beloved John Marston leaving the gang for a year. Someone had to look over Abigail and Jack to make sure she didn’t do anything stupid. Hosea and Arthur were the only one who stepped up.

 

“Miss Ellie?” The little voice spoke up once they were done playing their rhythmic game and he was able to introduce himself in French.

 

“Yes, Jack?” Her voice, always warm, seemed to become warmer still where little Jack was involved.

 

“I’m hungry. Can I have lunch now?” His little brown eyes were eager to be released from his lesson and eat.

 

“Go ask your mother.” She pushed herself off of the ground, her skirts falling into place as she dusted them off. “You did well today, mon petit. ” She tussled the little Marston’s brown hair before he slid off of the rock and ran to his mother who was darning a sock.

 

Eleanor looked over the great expanse of land the view from the overlook afforded her. There was a bustling road below, a rushing river next to it, and mountains so close yet so far. This land was so different from the flat expanse that was Lemoyne. Sure there were hills but nothing like this. It was breathtaking. She breathed in deeply as the wind blew about. How was she this close to all this and not know it? While her wrist were covered by the sleeves of her gleaming white shirtwaist, the buttons were easy to undo. She ran her fingers over the rope burns. It stung. She imagined that she would have these scars for life. A constant reminder of the pain she went through. Would she ever be able to roll up her sleeves when she was working on her father’s farm again? The bruises would fade with time, the marks around her ankles and around her wrists, however, may be permanent. This she knew from men her father hired when it was time to harvest. Their hands constantly burned from the use of ropes for various uses.

Would there ever be a day where she doesn’t cry? It was a daily wonder. This time as she sat on the rock Jack was sitting on just minutes ago. She kept green eyes down, watching her make circles in the dirt, as they welled up and threatened an episode of violent sobs and anger at the world. Eleanor wrapped her arms around her body, holding it tightly thinking this would stop it from shaking. It didn’t. A shaky breath came from her as the first tear fell. Once that escaped, there was no holding back. The flood gates were open. Eleanor sobbed, mourning her lost innocence and the loss of Joshua. She mourned the loss of her way of life. She was angry for what those men did to Joshua and angrier still at them for what they did to her. Would things ever be the same?

 

Sadie had been sitting in the shade, reading a book a few yards from where Eleanor had been giving Jack a lesson in French. The book, which Mary-Beth had so happily loaned, had been her only escape from her own pain. It kept her mind off of the loss of her husband and her own way of life. Much like Eleanor, Sadie’s life had been ripped at the seams. She followed her husband up the mountains a mere year ago. The pair spent their first spring working the small patch of land, planting seeds to harvest, and purchasing a few animals. They were far away from the world below and happy. 

 

The first winter had been rough though, rougher than the Adlers ever imagined. December had brought a blizzard. January brought freezing temperatures that forced a cow into their cabin along with a few chickens. February brought the first sunlight they had seen in two months, a bit of hope that they would make it. March brought a small break in the weather; the sun was out, rain fell from the skies, and the snow was melting. April brought back the hard work of tilling the land as it thawed. And May brought destruction and upheaval in the form of Colm O’Discroll and his gang. Sadie would forever mark the start of the terrible blizzard in May with the date of her husband’s death.

 

Dutch van der Linde, Micah Bell, and Arthur Morgan had saved her from those devils and brought her into the camp a day later. She had been thankful she wasn’t on the mountain and stuck with those men, if you could call them that. That was ten days ago. Now, they brought this other woman in. Outlaws with a heart of gold, seemingly. Save for Micah, but from her understanding he was about as new to the gang as she was compared to the others. This was a strange bang of outlaws. And Sadie was thankful for them. She was sure Eleanor would be too, especially if they got her back to her family. Closing her book, she stood up and went to the girl.

 

“I’d say it gets easier.” Sadie sighed, looking at the view Eleanor had been admiring. She wrapped an arm around the girl, allowing her head to lean on Sadie’s torso to hide her sobbing. “But I’d be lyin’.” Sadie would miss Jake every day. He was the love of her life and he treated her as an equal. They were a team and she lost her partner, her lover, her everything.

 

“My husband was killed.” She said flatly, trying to hide any emotions she had. “It’s like a nightmare you never wake up from.” Eleanor nodded, pulling her face away from Mrs. Adler’s torso to look up to the woman. “Those damn O’Driscolls came to my home.” A lone tear fell down her cheek, her eyes still looking forward. “Jake and I had a plan for stuff like this.” She nodded, running her hand up and down Eleanor’s arm to comfort her as well as herself. “If bandits came, I would hide in the cellar. He’d deal with them. He was such a good shot.” She shook her head, still unable to understand what happened. The events happened so fast. They saw a light from the crest of the hill. Jake told Sadie to hide. She heard a shot and thud. One shot. One thud. She knew instantly it was Jake. 

 

“I was in the cellar….” She took a deep breath, urging herself to continue. Sadie knew Eleanor could understand her pain like no one else in this camp could. And she could understand Eleanor’s. “There was gun fire. Real short. I thought the law came up the mountain. It was Dutch, Arthur, and Micah….” She scoffed out Micah’s name. Eleanor hadn’t met him but she could sense that he was not a good man. “Lootin’ my damn home. Dutch should have let me slit his throat.” It was apparent that Sadie did not like Micah, she seemed to like others save for Mr. Pearson, but her voice was not kind when she spoke Mr. Bell’s name.

 

“They shot Joshua in front of me.” It was only the second time Eleanor spoke his name out loud. She felt a pang of guilt in her stomach and in her heart. She should have been keeping his memory alive. “He was playing poker, won a large sum….And they just shot him.” Her curly hair followed her head shaking in disbelief. “It was night time and they just shot him. Brought me here….” She sighed, trying to push the memories of the kicks, the punches, their drunken breaths on her skin, and the pain they caused forcing themselves on her. She knew now that it had been almost a month, according to her bill of sale from the general store.l

 

“Why are men so terrible.” Eleanor looked up to Sadie and all she could was shrug.

 

“I dunno.”  It was an honest response. “I think it’s just humans.” She nodded, her eyes moving from the terrain to Eleanor, her eyes red and puffy from crying. “I think some men just have dark souls and do dark things. But then you have men who have good hearts who do terrible things.” This confused Eleanor. Sadie expanded, “Take these guys.” She used her head to motion to the camp. “Wanted and runnin’. But Dutch has a code of ‘Do No Harm’ to innocent folk.”

 

“Like Robin Hood.” Eleanor surmised. Sadie nodded.

 

“Like I said, you’re gunna be safe here Elle. Takin’ care of.” She reiterated her statement from two days ago, giving Eleanor a gentle squeeze.

 

“Thank you, Sadie.” Eleanor placed a hand over the one Sadie had on her arm and gave it a gentle squeeze.

 

“We are going to be okay.” 

 

As the afternoon faded into the evening, Eleanor moved from her spot on the rock and made her way back into the camp. Stew was on the menu again featuring venison and wild carrots Charles Smith had found the day before. She went to the pot, grabbed a plateful, and sat at a table where she noticed members playing dominoes during their downtime. At first, Eleanor was alone, admiring the glow of the fire and the kinship of the people around it. Abigail soon joined her, a bright smile on the brunette’s face.

 

“Jack just won’t stop talking about you!” She giggled before putting a spoonful of stew in her mouth. “I think he’s completely head over heels.” This brought a smile to Eleanor’s face.

 

“He’s a sweet kid.” Eleanor nodded, taking a bite of her own stew. “You’re doin’ a good job with him.” Abigail doubted that. How could anyone be a good parent within this transient life of crime? Especially with a prostitute for a mother and an outlaw for a father.

 

“You’re just bein’ kind.” Abigail’s smile faltered. She felt as if she could have been doing better for her boy. “Now, where did you learn all that French?”

 

“Mr. Beaumont’s French, ain’t he?” Arthur appeared, his own meal in hand, as if on cue. He took a seat across from Abigail and next to Eleanor. Abigail flashed him a knowing look. Arthur had learned a little about Eleanor’s family during their dinner in Valentine. He knew her mother was dead, that they were from France, and that her father remarried another French immigrant. He knew she learned French first before she learned English. He just let her talk and talk that night as he listened and absorbed every detail she was willing to give him. Arthur Morgan knew he was a fool when it came to women. Especially women he found an attraction to. He was a fool with Mary, a fool with Eliza, and now he was going to be a fool with Eleanor, he supposed.

 

“He is!” Eleanor smiled, pleased that he had listened to her ramble on. Abigail noted the tension between the outlaw and the Frenchman’s daughter. She was sure they forgot she was there. “My mama is too.” She broke her attention away from Arthur to Abigail. “They met on a steamship when they came here. Papa thought she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.” She sighed the sigh of a romantic. She loved her parents love at first sight story. Arthur listened intently, as did Abigail. 

 

As Eleanor went on with the story, Abigail noted the difference in the way Arthur treated their newcomers. He respected both of them, sure. But he treated Sadie Adler like he treated her. Like a brother. With Eleanor, he didn’t want to seem to leave her alone. He would keep an eye on her as he was chopping wood or hauling hay or sacks from one point in the camp to the other. He always found her. He still used his bedroll while he let her sleep in his cot. Maybe he felt bad, but he didn’t show Sadie the same treatment. Granted, she was sure that was how Sadie would have preferred it and Arthur knew it. But she saw how he looked at Eleanor earlier that day. That boy…. Abigail thought, sighing. He was asking for heartbreak.

 

The trio enjoyed their meal, Abigail learning more about Eleanor that Arthur may have already known. Eleanor offered to gather their dishes and Abigail took an opportunity. 

 

“Arthur, a word.” She said with the sternness of a mother. The tone shocked her the first time she used it with Jack. Now, she enjoyed using the tone whenever she could. She sounded like her mother and there was not an ounce of shame in that.

 

“Sure.” The gunman pushed away from the table and followed her out to the ledge by Herr Strauss’s wago.It was a secluded spot  where Hosea would read his paper from town in the morning there as Herr Strauss went over his ledger before looking for poor lost souls in Valentine. “What's goin’ on, Abigail?” He asked, thunder rolling in the distance. 

 

“She ain’t going to be here long.” Abigail kept her voice low, making sure only Arthur heard and to not bring attention to the conversation. Arthur sighed, looking down in shame.

 

“I know.” He felt like a child scolded for stealing something.

 

“And her fiance just got killed.”

 

“I know.” 

 

“I don’t wanna see you hurt Arthur. We can’t have you heartbroken when she goes home.”

 

“Abigail, I know, goddamn it.” He was frustrated with himself. Eleanor Beaumont had been with them three days and he knew he had between smitten since he put her likeness to paper. “I am a goddamn fool.” His voice was low, gruff. “I look at her… I need to protect her. You didn’t see her, what those bastards did to her.”

 

“But John and Charles did, they ain’t walkin’ around all smitten!” Arthur groaned, rolling his eyes as Abigail continued to chastise him for things he couldn’t control. He wished he could control them, he just couldn’t though. Abigail sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose as she shook her head. “Look, Arthur….She ain’t the only who needs you to protect ‘em. We all need you. We need you to keep your head straight. Protect yourself to protect your family.” The thunder rumbled again, this time echoing in the valley.

 

“I know.”

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

May 16, 1899 (morning entry)

 

Abigail said I was sweet on Eleanor. She told me to protect myself. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. I had to go out and hunt. For the camp and to get my head on right. If she is right about one thing, she’s right on the whole thing. Eleanor isn’t going to be with us until we get the money and head to California. And these folks are my family that need protecting. I’m going to find Eleanor’s family and bring her back to them. It’s only right.

 

(The page is filled with sketches of flowers and the wildlife in New Hanover.)

 


 

May 13, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, The Heartland, New Hanover

 

“Where ya headin, my boy?” Dutch stepped out of his tent to the sight of Arthur carrying his saddle to one of the horses out to pasture. Bow and quiver on his back. Dutch knew that Arthur was primed to disappear for a few days into the wilderness. No one ever knew how long he would be gone for. It was usually for a few days, not long enough for the meat to rot. Sometimes, he’d come back to camp after being gone for a month. It was on more than a few occasions that Dutch to send someone out into the world to find Mr. Morgan. When he would come back to camp after that, he smelled like a corpse. A corpse with a shaggy beard and hair to match.

 

“Huntin’, Dutch.” The boy obediently replied, not stopping to talk. He wanted to be out of the camp before Eleanor was up and before Abigail could scold him again. 

 

“Don’t be gone too long.” Dutch turned to a nightstand in his tent to grab his book. That damn boy. The leader of the gang thought as he took his throne on the side of his tent. There he could watch the hustle and bustle. And his children could see him, not worrying about the past and planning for the future.

 

-

 

Arthur headed to the north of the camp. An area called Cumberland Forest. There was plenty of high ground and plenty of space. It was only a half day ride to the camp, but it felt like a different world. Travelers on the road were far and few between and the cabins and homesteads even fewer. Arthur could happily stay here until things in Blackwater settled and they could go collect on that damned score Micah and Dutch were once so excited about. If they could ever go back to Blackwater for that money. 

 

What a mess Blackwater was. It was one of the things that filled Arthur’s mind as he went north. He did not want any part of that whole scheme. From the moment he heard about it from John. It just seemed downright messy and too good to be true. A ferry carrying enough to set everyone up for life? That wasn’t what they did. The van der Lindes did trains, stagecoaches, and banks. And it served them well for the last twenty-two years. Not the government moving money from one place to the next. That was too big and too risky. No one listened to Arthur though; they were all too excited for a large, and hopefully last, score. And what had that cost them? Three dead, at least. Sean MacGuire captured and most likely dead. The gang was broken in spirit. They risked too much for no reward.

 

If things had gone Arthur’s way, the gang would have followed Hosea and himself had been following for a few weeks before everything went to Hell. It wouldn’t have been the one hundred and fifty grand they were promised, but they would still have their safety and no one would be doubting Dutch’s moves. Their leader had bet on the wrong horse, trusting Micah over the advice of Hosea and Arthur. The two refused to partake in the heist turned massacre. The two stayed back with those not involved and Jack, all of them hoping and praying to a God or whoever they believed in for a good outcome. The outcome was what it was, those involved coming back in a panic before Dutch took Hosea away to hide the loot while everyone hurried to pack the camp and got them moving north.Though, Arthur would not be the first to admit, they did have Sadie now and who would have saved Eleanor?

 

Arthur would soon find a place to set up camp. It was a flat area in an open space surrounded by trees. It would be a good place to rest between hunting and eating. The stallion he brought from camp seemed easy there. Arthur made sure to give him a pat down and some hay. In the morning, Arthur would have to take him to the stream he heard a little west of the spot. Once he had a fire going and a can of beans in his stomach, Arthur’s mind wandered. What if things had gone well in Blackwater and there had been no one nearby to save Eleanor from those men. The little blonde who had quickly nestled her way into his heart, and little Jack Marston’s heart, in just a few short days would have been dead. Tied to a tree and rotting. Much like the gang did in Blackwater, she had taken a risk. Only her’s paid off. 

 

The stars burned brightly above Arthur and he admired him from his place in his bed roll near the fire. It was a simple fact that Eleanor would have been dead if their camp wasn’t so close. And if they had shown up any later, her brains would have been all over that tree. Arthur shuddered, not only from the chill in the air but from the thought. He’d shot quite a few men in the head in his lifetime, never a woman though. And he vowed to never hurt a woman after he found out about Eliza’s death. But those men… The image of that man advancing on Eleanor, gun in hand and ready to kill. He didn’t see the look on her face. It was probably similar to the girl Dutch killed back in Blackwater. He didn’t see that either. Thank….Whoever. That was probably an image that would have haunted him the rest of his life in either case. 

Arthur felt bad leaving Eleanor all alone in that camp. Especially after he promised to protect her while she was in their care. She had Sadie there though. And, despite Abigail getting on him for potentially being sweet on her, Eleanor had her and Jack too. He shifted to his side, facing the fire. Poor Jack Marston. He was already going through a lot of upheaval. He had been to three places in three weeks. It was inevitable, as Abigail so delicately pointed out the previous night, that Eleanor would be leaving them before too long. Just like every other woman in his life, save for the girls, this one would leave him too. He sighed, rolling over to his back and closed his eyes.

 


 

 

The rain fell gently, tapping the water of the upper Dakota River and the budding leaves of the trees. Arthur laid low, trying to blend in with the foliage. He was tracking a moose. The venison from the beast would have fed the camp for a while. Between stews and jerkies, it would seem like they were eating like kings compared to barely scraping by. Arthur even found some wild berries and carrots between the camp and where this fella was taking him. It took hours of tracking but he finally found the perfect time to take the monster of an animal down. He took a deep breath, pulled the bowstring back, and loosened the arrow on his exhale, aiming for the animal’s chest. With a howl of pain and a thud, the beast went down. It would take another hour to skin and remove the antlers. 

 

The act of hunting is violent. No one would ever doubt that. There was blood and death. It went hand in hand with the art of skinning and butchering. Arthur left the butchering to Pearson for the most part, but when he could Arthur would grab as much meat as he could to bring back to camp. Despite the violence of hunting and skinning, there was peace to it. A calm while one could be part of nature. There was no civilization, no damn Pinkertons, and no problems. There was no one to tempt him and no one to scold him for the temptation

 

“What am I going to do?” The gunslinger thought out loud as he leaned against the trunk of a tree, what was left of the moose in front of him. He knew what he had to do. They were supposed to lay low, only leave camp when needed or to hunt. He and Dutch decided on the night that Eleanor was brought to camp that she would have to stay with them. Either until she was well enough to travel or until they felt it was safe to move. It wasn’t safe yet; not to Lemoyne at least. And he had watched her just stand on the edge of the overlook, just staring. He wondered what was going on in that pretty head of her’s. It didn’t matter. He would have to move past being curious about the little blonde’s mental state.

 

Arthur took this moment to grab a cigarette from his satchel and light it. Another calming activity. A doctor in Illinois once told him smoking was good for the lungs and regulated the breathing. Arthur thought it was bunk, but here he was. Fourteen years later and he still had the habit. He inhaled deeply, letting the smoke of the tobacco fill his longs as the rain continued to drop from the sky. He needed this moment. There had been no calm since that whole thing in Blackwater. Now there was nothing but calm. Until he heard a rustle in the grass. A rabbit appeared and stared at Arthur for a moment.

 

“What would you do?” He asked the rabbit before it raced off to where it was going. Arthur chuckled, shaking his head as he took a drag of his cigarette. “Heh, seemed pretty sure about that. I ain’t no runner though, feller.” He grumbled, finishing his cigarette and flicking it away. 

 


 

 

The gentle drumming of rain on the canvas was the perfect way to wake up, according to Eleanor at least. Just like the four days before, she woke up in Mr. Morgan’s cot, covered by his blanket that smelled distinctively like a man. No cologne or the waxy scent of hair pomade. There was only the smell of earth and tobacco. They were scents that she noted the first night in the camp. They were scents that she loved. They also gave her a sense of comfort since Mr. Morgan wasn’t in the camp. She spent the previous day rather crestfallen that he had left. She understood why. The camp had to eat. Arthur seemed to be a provider. That's what she gathered from the last couple of days. Sadie said these people were wanted. To the outside world, they were outlaws. To them though, they were a family. The wayward sons and lost daughters of Dutch van der Linde. Save for Kieran Duffey, it would seem. Sadie had informed her that he was from a rival gang and a prisoner of war, made to do scut work and care for horses. The way the gang members, especially the men, treated the women versus how they treated Mr. Duffey was vastly different. There was a clear distinction between prisoner and rescued.

 

The smell of coffee permeated the air and whispered chatter surrounded the campfire, no one really speaking loudly so those who were still asleep could remain so. Eleanor removed the blanket from her body, exposing herself to the cool, New Hanoverian morning. She was quick to grab the brown duster draped over the foot of the cot. Her southern blood was not made for this cold. She would be warmer by the fire. She made Arthur’s cot up, a routine that kept her busy and made her feel more useful.

 

“Mornin’, Miss Eleanor.” Hosea Matthews spoke gently, grabbing a clean cup from the ground and pouring her some coffee. “Coffee?”

 

“Please.” She spoke just as gently, accepting the warming cup. With the light rain and the chill in the air, her fingers were freezing. The heat from the cup was helping. “Thank you, Mr. Matthews.” She inhaled the steam, taking joy in the smell, and exhaled a contented sigh.

 

“Hosea.” He corrected, even though he enjoyed that someone in this camp respected their elders besides little Jack. They would break her of it though. If she was even with them long enough to break the habit.  “I’m sorry that you have to deal with such disagreeable weather. Cold and rain? At least it isn’t snowing.”

 

“I don’t have much ground to stand when it comes to complaining about the weather.” She raised an eyebrow with a smile as she took a sip of her coffee. Abigail had relayed the story of their time in the mountains. She told Eleanor of the loss, how broken she felt, but she was still happy in those moments where Jack played in the snow. She had said it was his only chance to be a kid recently.

 

“It ain’t so bad up there.” Sadie chimed in, ready to defend the area she had called home. “Y’all just caught it at a bad time.”

 

“Sure….” Hosea laughed, sipping from his own cup. “A blizzard in May isn’t just a bad time. It’s the worst. I would rather be sweating and not coughing than freezing and struggling to breath.”

 

“I’d say move to Lemoyne.” Eleanor shrugged, tightening her grip on the cup of coffee. “But y’all would have to deal with the raiders. They aren’t a pleasant bunch. Especially if you’re a yankee.”

 

Soon, the trio disbanded. Hosea to drink his coffee, Sadie to cut vegetables, and Eleanor...She wasn’t sure what to do. She had her book, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstien , and Jack would surely ask for the attention she gladly gave. She wanted to feel useful though. She was growing tired of moping around. Besides, she felt bad. She was eating their food, sleeping in their camp, and she wasn’t pulling her weight. Ms. Grimshaw had told her to rest, given her ordeal. But resting was slowly driving her to insanity. So, Eleanor went on a hunt for the always busy Ms. Grimshaw. This group may have bared the name of van der Linde, but Ms. Susan Grimshaw was their true leader.

 

Given the small size of the camp, the task of finding Ms. Grimshaw was an easy one. She was wiping down the rectangular table. It seemed a bit pointless given the drizzle, Eleanor wasn’t going to question it though. She wasn’t in the position.

 

“Ms. Grimshaw….” Eleanor started, not waiting for the older woman to acknowledge her. “I want to work.”

 

“It’s nice to know that someone ‘round here does.” She shot a glare towards the area where Mary-Beth, Tilly, and Karen slept. The seemingly gentle woman disappeared when she was cross, Eleanor noted. She wasn’t afraid to yell and call others useless. Eleanor was going to try her best to stay on Susan Grimshaw’s good side. “You sew?” Eleanor nodded quickly. Her stepmother taught her and her stepsisters to mend clothes. She had tried to teach Eleanor to embroider, but her young stepdaughter lacked the patients. “Good. There’s a pile of clothes in my tent. Grab ‘em and get started.

 

“Yes, ma’am.” Eleanor didn’t wait to get over there. She went to Miss Grimshaw’s tent, grabbed the pile along with some needle and thread, and went back to Mr. Morgan’s tent for cover. She sorted the clothing by type before she grabbed a sock and sat on the cot. Darning a sock was a mundane task. But it gave her an excuse to look at the things Arthur had on display. The first thing that caught her eye was a mason jar with a flower on the table ahead of her. A curious thing, but it had to have importance. Next to it was a picture of a woman. That was his mother. She was sure of it. She noticed the shape of her eyes and the similarities between the two. The sentimentality of it all made Eleanor smile as she finished the first sock and moved to a pair of trousers.

 

As she worked on the trousers, her eyes continued to wander around. She was actually paying attention to the artifacts of Arthur Morgan’s life. The next thing that caught her attention was a more recent photograph of a very beautiful woman. She had been laying in this cot, invading Mr. Morgan’s space, and she had just noticed this picture. She assumed that it was his sweetheart or wife. It was a photograph of someone who was either not here or dead. A sigh escaped her as she looked from the photo to her task. 

 

Eleanor felt a twinge of heartache in that moment. She wasn’t exactly sure why. She wasn’t free to love, exactly. There was a dead fiance in Rhodes who’s ring she just sold off. It wasn’t as difficult of a task she thought it would when she had decided to sell it. Perhaps it even seemed heartless, even if she was just trying to avoid taking the money of Dutch van der Linde. In her thoughts, she stabbed the index fingers on her left hand. Furrowing her brow, she stuck that finger mouth and sucked it to ease the pain. Soon, she began to cry. She felt foolish. Not only for stabbing her finger but for, well, everything.

 

Abigail saw this from the fire as she enjoyed her coffee. With Arthur gone, she felt like she had to watch over Jack’s favorite friend. Without it letting interfere with her own work and raising Jack, of course. Jack wasn’t up yet though and Abigail’s moment to herself before the day truly began turned into a study of Eleanor discovering Arthur. She had watched as Eleanor admired the flower Arthur’s mother had given him and as her eyes betrayed how she felt about the picture of Mary Gillis.

 

Dammit. The mother sighed, rolling her eyes. These two would be the death of her if Eleanor didn’t go home soon. After finishing her coffee and tossing the grounds to the earth, she went to Eleanor, pulling her coat close to her.

 

“You don’t have to worry ‘bout her.” Abigail said, grabbing a piece of clothing from the pile to give to Eleanor as she finished up the trousers. “She’s a no good society woman he ain’t seen in twenty years. He loved her and her paw decided that Arthur weren’t good enough for his princess.” Eleanor was working on the piece of clothing Abigail had handed her. “Can I ask ya somethin’?”

 

“Of course, Abigail.” Eleanor put the item down on her lap, giving her friend her full attention.

 

“Did you love your beau?” The question had taken Eleanor aback. It was a strange question and it caused her to pause.

“Yes, of course….” There was a delay in her voice. She loved him but. There was something else. Something Eleanor hadn’t thought about. “I was happy. Joshua was lovely.” She sighed, shaking her head as she looked down. “His family didn’t like me though. They didn’t think I was good enough.” Much like the woman in the photograph’s father didn’t think much of Arthur. “He, um…..he proposed at Christmas. And we still weren’t married when he passed.” Another shake of her head, tears threatening her eyes. “They didn’t want us to get married.” Eleanor swallowed, feeling the pity in Abigail’s gaze. “They kept….delayin’ one thing or another….And...I dunno.” She sniffed and rubbed the tears from her eyes. “There were a few times where I wondered if it would have been worth marryin’ him, marryin’ his family. It’s natural to have doubts though, right?”

 

Abigail sat there and thought about her and John for a moment. He was a pain in her ass. She hated him more often than not. She still would have done anything to be his wife though. Anything to be made an honest woman and be a real family. Abigail hated John Marston sometimes but she didn’t want to live her life without him. Even when he left her and Jack, destroying her spirit, she still wanted him. She knew it when they met and she still knew five years later.

 

“I dunno about all that.” Abigail replied honestly, feeling more pity for this girl than she thought imaginable. “I fell in love with John the moment he walked into my life. I thought he would have married me when I got pregnant with Jack. He just ran though.” She swallowed, choking back her own sadness. “He always says Jack ain’t his. But I think he’s afraid. John didn’t have a good childhood. All he knows of family is Dutch, Hosea, and Arthur.” Eleanor made room on the cot for Abigail to sit. She took the invitation, allowing Eleanor to hug her.

 

“Men are fools.” Eleanor said simply, giving Abigail a squeeze. 

 

“You can say that again….” The women laughed, Abigail returning the hug. “Look,” She began, pulling away from the hug. “I haven’t known ya long. None of us have. And I regret how you came to us. I do not regret that you did.” She took Eleanor by the shoulders and gave her a kind smile. “Promise me, when you go home that you will write and when you want to forget your life in Rhodes that you find us.”

 

Eleanor laughed gently, nodding. “Of course. It’s crazy but….I like y’all.” She shrugged.”I like it here.” She affirmed, looking around the now busy camp. “My world was small, but then everything happened.”

 

“I know, Eleanor. Everyone’s world is small until it isn’t.” Abigail let go of Eleanor and pushed herself off of the cot. Before what is usually Arthur’s area, she turned to the newest addition. “Jack and I are glad you’re here.” With that, both women went on their day.

 


 

 

Arthur returned to the camp the next afternoon with his gains. Pearson praised him as did Dutch for being a provider when they needed it the most. Arthur excelled at taking care of his family. It was something that filled the outlaw with pride. Besides killing, he felt it was the only thing he was good at.  Dutch patted his boy on the shoulder in thanks once everything was unloaded from the horse and Arthur’s bags. The leader returned to his ever watchful post as Arthur sought out Eleanor. He knew what had to be done. He just didn’t want to do it.

 

Arthur found the little blonde, legs kicked out over the ledge. He assumed she was watching the sunset. He couldn’t blame her. After a day and a half of rain, the sky was clear and putting on a colorful display of oranges, pinks, and blues. Of course the universe gave him a pretty sight to tell Eleanor she was leaving. For a second he thought that perhaps he could convince her to stay. But then Abigail caught his eye and he remembered….He could not afford to be hurt when she inevitably had to go back to her life. They couldn’t afford him to be hurt right now. Her going now would be for the best.

 

“Ehm,” He cleared his throat to make his presence known. He didn’t want to scare her off the ledge. Eleanor looked up to him over her shoulder. He sighed, taking a moment to admire her honey color of her curly hair shining in the setting sun and those big, green eyes looking up at him. He had to do this. 

 

“Evenin’ Arthur.” She offered him a smile, patting a spot next to her as an invitation. “Welcome back.” He offered a half smile before joining her, removing his hat as a proper gentleman would do. He placed it on the ground, next to him. Eleanor returned her attention to the scenic sunset, the lingering rays of sunlight sparkling on the river below them. In a different life, this scene would turn out differently. He kept his blue eyes on her though, watching the wind whip through her hair and memorizing her profile.

 

“Eleanor….” In another world, this would be a whisper meant just for her. He would say her name like a hymn and try to entice her to stay. He had to do this. “I’m goin’ take back to your home.”

 

Eleanor was caught by surprise. She knew the plan. She was going to stay with them for a few weeks for the sake of the gang laying though. They couldn’t afford to have someone thinking they kidnapped her, she knew that. Arthur could sense the unease in her. He sighed, looking away from her to the quickly fading sunset.

 

“It’s too dangerous to keep you here. We ain’t good people. This camp is filled with wanted men. Everyone here…. We ain’t no good. We’ll just bring our troubles on you.” Arthur continued, unable to look her in the eye.

 

“Okay.” She said plainly, the smile gone from her. A tear rolled down her cheek. She shouldn’t have been attached to these people, but she was. He was right though. They had saved her but, unlike Sadie, Eleanor was not deciding to stay. She still had family who were probably worried about her. 

 

“I’ll, uh, take you in the mornin’. How far do you reckon?” 

 

“Um….” She had to think, she also had to wipe a tear away. “I don’t know where we are. I mean, I know but I don’t know the distance.” Arthur nodded. He would have to ask Hosea. “Arthur….” She turned her head to face him. Much like he had, she admired his profile and features.

 

“Yeah.”

“Thank you. For savin’ me.” Her smile was back, albeit small. He looked to her and offered a half smile, a blush on his cheeks. He was uncomfortable with the praise.

 

"I wasn’t the only one.” He pointed out.

 

“No.” She conceded with a small laugh. “But I’ll miss you the most.” Her next action startled him, but he allowed it to happen. Eleanor placed her head on his shoulder and the two watched the sun disappear below the horizon.

 

I’ll miss you too.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

May 16, 1899 (evening entry),

 

I feel bad for Jack. He’s better off than most of us were, he has folks to teach him. Folks who care. The last few weeks have not been easy for anyone. I just wish they could be easier for him. The kid doesn’t deserve this.  Now with Eleanor leaving…. He seemed okay. If you didn’t look at his face. He asked her if he did something. She said something in French, sounded soothing. I hope she’s the last one to leave him.

 

(There’s a two page, detailed drawing of Eleanor and Jack hugging)

 


 

MAY 17, 1899

NEW HANOVER AND LEMOYNE STATE LINE

 

The view was beautiful. Eleanor was convinced that almost every vantage point along Flat Iron Lake was a gorgeous one. As she sat on a rock overlooking the scenic area, Arthur was giving Sean MacGuire’s horse, Ennis, an apple. Seeing as Sean currently had no use for his horse, Arthur took it instead of taking Hosea’s horse. This journey was going to be a longer  one and Hosea was eager to go to Valentine after being in the new camp for a week. He was convinced that Arthur was going to be gone for two days after they set the course from Horseshoe Overlook to Southfield Flats. Hosea needed his paper. He needed to plot a con.

 

“I think we’ll be there ‘round six or seven.” Arthur mentioned, going over to the blond with a canteen for water. Her once gleaming white shirt was broken in now, showing signs of hard work and dust from the road.

 

“I was so close to home….” For the first time, she was able to realize that those who took her didn’t go far. Why didn’t they take her further if they were running? “Why didn’t I run?” She wrapped her arms around her body, shaking her head.

 

“You didn’t know….” He reassured as she took the canteen and took a sip. “How could ya?” He knew the details of her story now. She couldn’t remember much except being frightened and what they did to her. How could she have possibly known where they were. “What they did to you….It ain’t your fault, Eleanor.” 

 

“Arthur….” She looked up to him, handing the canteen back to him. He took it, taking a drink of his own. “What if there are more of them? What if….” She quickly looked away from him, silent tears falling down her cheek. He couldn’t say that he blamed her.

 

“Your dad ain’t teach you how to shoot? Or fight?” Eleanor shook her head, using her sleeve to wipe away the tears. “Stand up.”

 

“What?” 

 

“C’mon, girl! You heard me. I’m not gunna leave you just to save you again.” Arthur removed his buckskin coat and placed it on Ennis. He moved to stand, legs shoulder feet apart, in front of her. Eleanor sighed, standing up from her spot on the rock. She gave him a shrug, slightly unamused by this. 

 

“Welcome to the Arthur Morgan School of Fightin’.” He chuckled, looking down at her.  “First lesson….Protect yourself. ‘Specially your face. Someone hits your chin good, you’re done.” Arthur knew this from experience. He couldn’t count the number of times he got into bar fights. But he could count the times he took an uppercut to the jaw and woke up in a jail cell. It happened once. He grabbed her arms and placed them where they needed to be to protect that beautiful face. Then he noticed how she made her first. “What are those?”

 

“Fists?” She shrugged, keeping her arms in the position. Her fists had her thumbs tucked in.

 

“Sure, if you want your thumbs broken.” He groaned, taking a moment to correct her tiny fists. Admittedly, she wasn’t going to do much damage in a head to head fight. He knew she would have to hit the right spots. Once he was satisfied with her stance and her arm and hand placement, he took a step back. “You’re already a tiny target, so you don’t have to hunch. For you, best place to hit is right here.” He pointed to the center of his chest. 

 

“Shouldn’t I go for something else? Like their chin? I have to protect mine.” Her question made him chuckle. He shook his head and her cheeks flushed red.

 

“Nah, less the person your fightin’ is your size. Right here.” He tapped the center of his chest once more. “You’re small. You ain’t bringin’ down any man by tryin’ to hit their face. If you ain’t got a pistol, you need a chance to run. Hittin’ them in the chest or stomach gives you a chance to run. Understand?” She nodded, gently tapping her fist to where he pointed. “You’re gunna have to do better than that.”

 

“I don’t wanna hurt you.” She laughed, giving him another playful tap.

 

“I appreciate that, little lady. But you ain’t gunna hurt me. Takes more than a pretty face and a lil hand to do that. C’mon.” His voice was low, more gritty, as he stared her down.  She pulled her right arm back and hit him in his chest with all her might. With a thud, her first connected with his chest. He didn’t even stumble.

 

“Why are you tryin’ to teach me if I don’t know if it works.” Frustration was apparent in her voice as she looked up to him with furrowed brow.

 

“‘Cause not everyone is like me.” He pointed out. “If they are….” He began to move so he was behind her. “They come up from behind.” His voice became lower as he got closer to her. “Cover your mouth.” He wasn’t going to do that. It was something that probably already happened to her and he was sure she knew what that felt like. “And grab ya.” He put an arm around her waist and lifted her up, holding her small body against his. She should have felt terrified, he was an intimidating man and he was re-creating what a smart outlaw would do if they were kidnapping. It wasn’t how her kidnapping went. The men knocked her out by hitting her on the head. This case though, she just laughed brightly as she enjoyed the feeling of being lifted. 

 

“You’re gunna laugh?” Confusion was apparent in his voice, still holding on to her.”Man like me grabs you and you’re gunna laugh.”

 

“If it's you!” Eleanor continued laughing as she leaned forward a bit so she could look over her shoulder. “I know you aren’t gunna hurt me.”

 

“I could.” He tightened his grip around her, trying to induce some idea of terror. He just got her hair in his face and, instinctively, inhaled the sweet scent of this woman. She was floral and earthy with a hint of tobacco from his cot and blanket. “I could snap you in half.” He kept his voice low, almost like the low rumble of thunder. She could feel it on her back. Eleanor stopped laughing, feeling warm in a way no one had ever made her feel before. Not even Joshua Gray. Her mind flashed images of his hard body and warm skin on hers and his lips covering her body. She let out a shaky breath. For the first time, she was feeling lust.

 

“What is going on here!” A rider came up on them, shaking Eleanor out of her brief lustful daze. It must have been an interesting scene to see. Any passerby would assume the worst. They would assume that this brute of a man was harming this poor girl. Possibly stealing her horse or kidnapping her. “Take your hands off of her!” Arthur obliged, setting Eleanos down gently. She took a deep breath to steady her breathing. He took a step away his hands up in the air

 

“It’s not like that.” She spoke up, giving her attention to the rider. She tried not to laugh, knowing this kind passby was just trying to help. “This gentleman,” She looked to Arthur and noted the cool anger on his face. If Eleanor weren’t there, he probably would have used a few choice words and a firefight would have started. Arthur knew the outcome in his head, but it seemed Eleanor had it under control. “He’s just teachin’ me to defend myself. No need to call the law on him.”

 

“Move along, mister.” Arthur’s voice had a tone to it Eleanor didn’t recognize. It was forceful and clearly startled the rider.

 

“O-of course.” The gentleman stammered, gripping the reins on his horse. “My apologies….Ma’am.” He gave Eleanor a nod before giving a swift kick to his horse’s side and disappearing in a cloud of dust.

 


 

With their fighting lesson properly interrupted, the pair continued their journey. Arthur would continue the lesson, trying to explain where to hit someone if they grabbed her like her did. Eleanor wasn’t paying attention. With her arms around Arthur to steady herself on Ennis, she couldn’t think of anything except that she had forgotten Joshua and only Arthur Morgan filled her head. She found herself wondering what his lips would feel like against hers and what his hands would feel like on the curve of her hips. She had forgotten Joshua and she did not feel bad about it. She never imagined those things with her deceased fiance. She loved him, she did. And she was sorry he was gone. But something about Arthur pulled her away from him. Maybe it was because she knew now that Joshua would not have been able to protect her and that someone like Arthur Morgan could. Joshua was handsome, in a boyish and simple way, but Arthur was a man and complex. And she would have to say goodbye. Leaning her cheek on his back, she sighed. It seemed as if nothing in her life would have a happy ending.

 

O Mollie, O Mollie, it’s for your sake alone….” Arthur began singing softly,  as they crossed the state lines. It was a familiar song to Eleanor, any song that mentioned Dixie was popular in the south it seemed. “ That I leave my old parents, my house, and my home….” He continued, Eleanor humming along softly. This was nice. For both of them. The silence between choruses was comfortable. There was no need for words or pointless conversation. He enjoyed the feeling of her arms around his waist and the vibration of her humming on his back. Just as she enjoyed the vibrations of his low singing against her body and the warmth he gave off despite it getting warmer and warmer the closer they got to her home. They continued like this, singing and humming, for the rest of the journey. It was a way for both of them to avoid discussing the inevitable departure.

 

They arrived at the homestead as the sun was setting. There was a red mill near the train tracks that was such a familiar sight to Eleanor. A broad smile flashed across her face as she peered over Arthur’s shoulder to see it. The mill was on one side of the train tracks while her home was on the other. She looked from the mill to her modest, one room home, she noticed no smoke was coming from the chiminee. It was unusual, but perhaps they were in town for something. Looking down the tracks, she could see the glow of Rhodes. Yes, certainly there was something going on in town. There was no use to light the fire unless Charlotte or one of her stepsisters was cooking something.

 

“This is where I grew up.” She smiled, informing Arthur as they took a right on the path to head to the house. “Papa built the home, cultivated this land for twenty-nine years.” The smile in her voice was apparent to Arthur. He was sad that this week had passed and that she would be going back to her life. However, the fact that she was going back to her normal life also made him happy. 

 

“Is that so?” He flashed her a half smile, pulling the reins of Ennis back as they approached the front porch. The smile was gone in a flash as they both caught on to the smell of the area. “Does it always smell this god damn bad?” Eleanor shook her head in confusion. It smelled like meat when it wasn’t salted properly and placed in a larder. The air smelled of rot. This wasn’t a good sign. Eleanor released Arthur from the grip and slid off the horse. He knew that smell. Jenny had that stench by the time they made it to the camp in Colter. Only this was worse. Guessing what Eleanor would find, he jumped from Sean’s horse and stayed close behind her, moving his bandana to cover his nose.

 

Eleanor was calm when she tried to open the door. It was locked. When she couldn’t open it, she knocked. Arthur looked at her with pity. This poor girl. The knocking became more frantic, panicked even. Arthur continued watching. He watched as her breathing became more panicked, as she started piecing together that something was right and what that was.

 

“No. No no no no…..” She inhaled quickly, moving from the door to a window on the side of the home. That was when Arthur heard the most heartbreaking scream. The cows that were left in the field were startled. Arthur looked down and closed his eyes. This poor girl. “Arthur!” She came from the side of the home and began to bang the door. “Open it!” She said between sobs. “Please! They need help! Please!” She stepped aside, her sky blue skirt swinging with her movements. Sighing, Arthur went to the door and obliged her by kicking the door down. It made the smell worse

 

“Jesus....” He examined the scene, blocking the doorway with his broad body in hopes that would protect Eleanor for just one more moment. It was….They had no chance. The man he assumed to be Eleanor’s father had a gunshot to his head, his rotting hand gripping a pistol. His face looked like he had been screaming, but his teeth were exposed and his lips were gone. His eyes were gone. His nose had caved in. The faces of the other two held the same expression with the same wound. He counted the dead. There were three bodies but four members of the family excluding. Where was the other girl?

 

Eleanor pushed past him, running to the body of her father. “ Papa, qu'est-ce que ça t'a fait?!” Her French was broken up in sobs. Arthur could see that she wanted to cradle his head, to hold her father’s body. “ Papa….”  She cried, falling to her knees and hiding her face. “Who would leave them here?!” She questioned, tears following hot and fast from her eyes. Arthur sighed, wishing her could protect her from this.

 

“Bad men….” He replied simply. The sun was going down, it would be dark soon. And they weren’t leaving. 

 

“The smell….” She sobbed, using her sleeve to cover her nose. It was quickly wet with her tears. Arthur lit one of the lamps in the room, there blood was splattered on the wooden walls. Fragments of their skulls all over the floor. He moved to Eleanor, digging in his satchel for the cloth mask that covered his whole face. It was usually used for robbing, but Eleanor needed it. “I don’t know who’s who.” She observed, wrapping the cloth around the lower half of her face..

 

“Elle….” His voice was sympathetic as he used her nickname. She had given him permission to use it when they went into Valentine together. He didn’t use it though. He loved the way her name poured from his lips too much to ever use her nickname. He needed to pull her out of her head though, or at least try. “What….” He sighed, “what do you want to do?”

 

“I don’t know….” She shook her head, in shock of the sight. “I have no family….” She said to herself, her eyes fixated on the decomposing body of her father. “I’m alone….I don’t know what to do and I’m alone….” Her breathing quickened as the realization crashed over her. Arthur was quick to her side. He embraced her and allowed her to cry.

 

Arthur couldn’t imagine what she was feeling at this moment. He was too young to remember his mother passing. And he was thankful when his father swung. Perhaps when Hosea died, he would understand. Right now though, he couldn’t even do that. All he could do was let her cry into his shirt, her sobs stifled by the cotton. He rubbed her back gently and placed his head on top of her’s.

 

“I’m here.” He reassured her. This changed everything. There was no way he was leaving her. First that Joshua guy was murdered. Then she was kidnapped. And now this. Someone was clearly after her family. That was a feeling he knew. Someone was always going after a gang member. “I gotcha.” He continued reassuring her. “I ain’t going anywhere.”

 

“Everyone I love dies….” Her breathing was regular now. His shirt was wet from her crying, He didn’t mind. Her statement though, he could understand that. Everyone he loved either died or left, save for Hosea and Dutch. That was just life. People leave and people die. He wasn’t going to point that out to her though. “I have nowhere to go…..”

 

“Now, that ain’t true.” He pulled back, placing a finger under her chin so she could look at him. This poor girl looked absolutely beautiful when she cried. He hated that she was crying and in pain, but she still looked beautiful. “We ain’t much but you can have a place with us. Jack loves ya. He sure would be happy to see you. Abigail and Saide too.” He almost said she would have sisters with those two. That didn’t seem wise. Besides, there was still the question of the other family member.

 

“Ain’t there five of you?” He asked, causing Eleanor to count the bodies. He was right. There were only four Beamonts in this room. 

 

“Someone got away….?” She said, cautiously optimistic that maybe her whole family wasn’t dead.

 

“Sure looks like it….” Arthur nodded, letting go of Eleanor. He stood up and looked around the room, counting the bodies again. There were only three. Someone definitely got away. “How ‘bout we figure out who we got, bury ‘em, and…. I dunno….we need to get you out of here though.”  She nodded, looking at her father’s corpse.

 

“No.” She shook her head, looking around the room. In any other case, she would have buried them in Saint Denis with a catholic funeral. She would have her father buried in the same vault as her mother, and her stepmother and sisters in a vault nearby. But this wasn’t normal. This was anything but. “Go to the mill….There’s a ton of cognac there.” 

 

“I’m all for havin’ a drink but I don’t think it’s the time to get drunk yet.” He knew what she meant to do, he just wasn’t sure she meant to do it.

 

“We can’t bury them, Arthur. We’ll be diggin’ until…. I don’t know when.” She had a point. By himself, it would take a few days to get three holes in the ground. “We have to burn them.” She sounded fairly decided. “I’ll um…..Grab things….to sell… And….”

 

“Take your time. I’ll just be right outside.” Eleanor nodded as Arthur lit a second lamp and placed it on the table. With that, he stepped outside and mounted Ennis. He would fill the saddlebags with the cognac, at least as much as he could. “C’mon!” He urged the horse to go across the field behind the house. He figured that it would be faster. Before Ennis could pick up speed, however, he noticed a fourth body. Shit. The gunslinger thought as he pulled back on the reins. Eleanor’s sliver of hope for family was gone. He dismounted the horse and made his way to the corpse. It had the same twisted expression on its face as the other three. Only thing one had more gunshot wounds. This one fought. 

 

“Stay here, boy.” He patted the horse. He needed something to carry the corpse into the home. But he also had to find a way to tell Eleanor that hope was lost. He stepped into the home and saw Eleanor looming over one of the corpses.

 

“She was the only mother I ever knew….” Eleanor was referring to Charlotte, Arthur assumed that was her corpse. “She taught me how to sew….cook….And they just shot her in the head.”

 

“Elle….” At the rate that he was using this nickname for bad news, he would be surprised if she allowed Sadie, Jack, and Abigail to ever call her that again. “There’s….” Eleanor looked down. She had understood. “Should I….” She nodded, bending down and taking a ring off of Charlotte’s deceased hand. Arthur moved to the bed in the corner of the room and took the blanket off of it. He went back outside and wrapped the corpse belonging to one of Eleanor’s sisters into the home. Inside the house, he placed her between the mother and the other sister. All of them wore that expression. It would haunt Arthur for the rest of his life.

“Are you okay?” He asked before leaving the house once more. She just had to give him a look and he felt like a fool. Of course she wasn’t okay. She was about to burn down her childhood and her family inside of it. 

 

“It’s fine, Arthur.” Eleanor was stoic, heading to the chimney as he stepped outside. Once more, he mounted Ennis and urged the stallion to go ahead to the mill. It was a quick moment before he was there. Inside, just as Eleanor promised, there were creates of cognac. No doubtedly from whatever family she had left in France. Arthur loaded up what he could in the saddlebags along with a bottle for them to share and a few bottles from the camp. He would have to remember this in case he ever came this way again. With bottles in bags, he returned to the home. There was a barrel on the porch, Arthur assumed it was a makeshift table. On it were treasures, family heirlooms, and quite a large stack of money. He walked back into the home, an armful of cognac bottles with him, for the last time.

 

Eleanor took one of the bottles from him, opened it, moved the mask out of the way, and took a large swig. She wiped her mouth and then threw the bottle at the wall with a scream. “FUCK!” She cried and the bottle smashed. Arthur was taking a back. In the week he had known her, she had never cussed. He didn’t blame her, but he was shocked. “Sorry….” She mumbled under her breath, taking another bottle from him. She threw it, this time at the fireplace. She would admit that this felt good. It felt good to scream and cry while breaking glass bottles. For the first time since their brief stop at the state border, Arthur heard her laugh. It was a sad laugh, but it was a laugh nonetheless.

 

Her laughter continued as she took another bottle from him. This time, instead of smashing it, she opened it and poured a bit on each family member. “This is ridiculous….” Her laughter stopped when she reached her dad.

 

 “‘ Ne sois jamais triste, ma fille’. That’s what he would tell me. Never be sad. ‘C’est la vie’. Whenever anything bad happened…. Au revoir, Pere .” She wanted to kiss his forehead, like he kissed her forehead so many times before everything happened. Eleanor returned to Arthur, grabbing his large hand with her small one. “C’mon….” She sighed, leading him outside. She grabbed the trinkets and a large sum of money her father had saved throughout his life, stashing in a satchel she had found in her chest. She wouldn’t take any of her clothes, knowing that they smelled of death. Finally, she placed her lamp on the porch, knowing the kerosene would help ignite the fire. Arthur followed suit with his own.

 

“Ready?” Arthur asked once they were off the porch, reveling in the fact that she was holding his hand. With his free hand, he made sure to grab Ennis’s reins to lead him away. The last thing they needed was the horse being startled and running off.

 

“No.” She replied simply, letting him lead her and the horse a safe distance. “But I don’t have a choice, do I?” With that, Arthur determined they were at a safe distance. He released the reins, making sure his hand was still enclosed around Eleanor’s. With the now free hand, he grabbed his pistol and shot at the two lamps. It was done.

 

As the house fire raged, Eleanor released Arthur’s hand and sat on the grassy knoll. The blaze grew. And Arthur took a spot next to her. Instinctively, she moved closer to him and placed her head on his shoulder. She had done this merely 24 hours ago and under different circumstances. This time, Arthur placed an arm around her and held her close. 

 

“Nothing's ever gonna be the same, is it?” He could feel her sigh against his body as the sound of a timber support falling to the ground echoed. 

 

“No,” he whispered, “it ain’t.” There was no sugarcoating it. Eleanor’s life had been completely altered.

 

“What day is it?” A curious question, but Arthur would oblige an answer.

 

“May 17...18...One of those.” Unsure of the time, that was the best he could answer. He felt Eleanor shake her head, an uncomfortable movement for his own. 

 

“So much has changed…” He felt her shoulders fall, becoming more relaxed even though he felt more tension in her body. She turned her head so that her face was buried into his shoulder. As she began to cry, he felt her body shake. Not knowing what to do, he rubbed her arm and pulled her tighter to him. “I wanna go.” Her request came between shaky breaths.

 

“Probably for the best.” Arthur let go of Eleanor, stood up, and extended his hands out to her to help her up. “Don’t want anyone thinkin’ we did it.” He felt proud of himself as she let out a small laugh. 

 

“No, wouldn’t want that.” She shook her head, giving off a small smile as Arthur mounted Ennis.

 

“C’mon, you’re sittin’ up front.” Once more, Arthur held out his arms to pull her up. She allowed him to lift her up and place her between him and the horn of the saddle. She thought it was funny that the last time she was distressed, she was in the same position. This time, he kept his arms closer to her body and she leaned into him, her hands on the horn. 

 

With her childhood home ablaze, Eleanor and Arthur rode off into the night.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

May 18, 1899

 

I wonder how my life would be different if my mother never died. Would I be living this life? I don’t know. I think I might have been a rancher. Or maybe some sort of, I don’t know. Something other than this. Mary’s dad may have approved us. We might have kids. We might have hated each other by now.  Isaac wouldn’t have existed though. I didn’t have my boy long, but I had my boy. Funny thing is, I can’t even remember what he looked like now. Am I a bad dad for not remembering? Then there’s Eleanor. She hasn’t been around long but there’s something about her. She makes me forget about all the bad I done and about all the bad done to me. I want to protect her and I already failed. I shouldn’t have let her in that house. How we found her family, she shouldn’t remember him like that. She’s here now and I can try to protect her. I’m not good at much, but I can do that. Truth be told though, I’m afraid I could fall for her. Not like she would want anything to do with the likes of me. I’m too old, far too dumb, and far too ugly for the likes of Miss Eleanor Beaumont. At least I can try to protect her before she leaves me too.

 


 

May 18, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, The Heartlands, New Hanover

 

It had been a long journey from the Beaumont home back to the van der Linde temporary one. It almost felt like the second leg of the journey was longer than the first even though they were the same distance. Even though Arthur was punishing Ennis to go as fast as the stallion could. Eleanor had fallen asleep, her head resting on Arthur’s shoulder as he supported her. Normally, on a journey like this, he would have stopped and rested. He was determined to get Eleanor somewhere safe. He was exhausted by the time they reached the camp. He was ready to collapse when he heard John’s voice.

 

“Who’s there!” John called, as any good look out would do.

 

“It’s Arthur!” The gunslinger called back, pushing through the trees to the camp. The sun was streaming through the trees as it began to rise to the new day. He slowed Ennis and brought him to a halt. “Woah there, boy.” He kept his voice low, knowing he would have to wake Eleanor up in order to dismount. “Hey,” his voice became softer, he would say it was the way he spoke to Boadicea. “You gotta wake up now.” He watched as her eyes fluttered, as she turned her head from one side to the other.  A small noise came from her as she exhaled and opened her eyes.

“Where are we?” Her voice was filled with sleep, soft and gentle.

 

“Camp.” Arthur’s voice was low, helping her sit upright from the lean on his body. Eleanor nodded, holding herself up by the horn of the saddle. Arthur dismounted Ennis and held his arms out to help the girl down. She leaned down and used his shoulder to help her and he grabbed her waist as soon he could. When her feet were on the ground, he bent slightly so that he could lift her up properly. 

 

“Go on, put your arms around me,” Too tired to protest, Eleanor did as he said. When her arms were secure over her shoulders, he placed an arm around her back and scooped her up. She nuzzled her head into the crook of his neck as he held her close.

 

“Arthur?” There was clear confusion coming from Dutch as they passed his tent. He was up early to take the air, like every morning. It was normally quiet. Perhaps there was a changing of the guard would happen or someone would be waking up from a drunken stupor. This site, though, was unexpected. The girl was supposed to be home and far away from this lot. Yet there she was. 

 

Now, Dutch could have seen this in one of two ways. This girl could just be another mouth to feed. She had no skill set that could benefit them. And they already picked up one of those since Blackwater. Not that he would ever say a word against Mrs. Adler, mind you. She was a feisty little thing, but he didn’t see an outlaw in her or someone he could mold into an outlaw. He could only hope to use Mrs. Adler’s thirst for revenge against those Irish bastards that killed his Annabelle. While he was sure, Miss Beaumont would contribute to the camp in whatever way she could, she would not be bringing money in. That’s what they needed. Not another woman chopping vegetables or doing the sewing and washing.

 

On the other hand, this girl was young. Not as young as some of the others when they joined the family, but young she was. And must be a wayward soul. Why else would Arthur bring her back aside from his obvious affection for the girl? She could follow in the steps of Hosea, be another student of Hosea Matthews. Perhaps his last. She could have been his partner’s legacy.  Or, perhaps, there was a natural shot in there and that talent just needed to be molded like clay. The possibilities were endless, if Dutch looked at this the right way. And with Mr. Morgan in her ear, she could be another faithful member of his flock.

 

Dutch followed Arthur to his tent where he laid the girl on his cot. She had already fallen back asleep. The older man watched carefully as his young son placed his blanket over the sleeping body. Hopefully, they wouldn’t have another Mary Gillis on their hands and wind up with a heartbroken Arthur. The way Arthur tucked her in, though, had Dutch worried. He took such care of taking a satchel off of her body and placing it under his cot. He was delicate. Dutch never saw this from Arthur before. He only saw the wreckage Mary Gillis left in her wake. This was a new side of Arthur even Dutch didn’t know about.

 

“It didn’t go so well.” Dutch’s right hand man spoke solemnly, his eyes not leaving the sleeping blonde. Arthur scratched the stubble on his jaw, turning out of the tent to start the coffee. Dutch, hungry for details, followed. As he grabbed the perculator from Pearson’s area, he shook his head. “Someone shot up her family.” He grabbed some water from their barrel of boiled rain water before going to the fire to start the coffee.

 

“She had to burn her house down.”

 

“What a terrible ordeal.” A wayward soul with nowhere to go. A new piece of the Dutch van der Linde collection.  Arthur placed the perculator over the fire. He wondered what Dutch was thinking. Before, he wouldn’t question the man who raised him, Now, though, Arthur wasn’t sure. Blackwater was a sloppy job, people died, and they were on the run in a way they never had been before. 

 

“Sure is.” Arthur agreed, sitting back on a log. “Says she has family in France. Ain’t never met ‘em before though.” The enforcer stared at embers of the fire, his eyes felt very heavy and his body ached from riding so hard for so long while supporting Eleanor. But he knew Dutch wouldn’t stop until his plan for Eleanor formed completely. “You don’t put her in danger. Someone’s already got it out for her family and I ain’t goin’ to have you make her work a con or gambit.” Dutch feigned surprise at this statement.

 

“My boy, why would I do a thing like that?”

 

“I know how you work.” Arthur tipped his hat over his eyes. “Sometimes.”

 

“Not this again.” Dutch groaned. Mr. Morgan had made it clear that he thought Blackwater a mistake. “It was a messy business, I do regret saying….”

 

“Save it, Dutch.” His lead enforcer was clearly annoyed. Dutch could tell that he was trying to hold his temper back out of respect. 

 

“Arthur,” Dutch began, “We aren’t going to have another ‘Mary’ on our hands, are we?” Arthur was genuinely taken aback by this question. He sat up a bit straighter, lifting the brim of his hat to look at Dutch with a mixture of surprise and venom. Taking a moment so he wouldn’t lose his temper on the figure.

 

“No.” His voice was plain, the word drawn out as if to emphasise a point. Dutch wasn’t satisfied with the answer given the fact that the girl was literally sleeping in Arthur’s bed. He let it go though. The camp was beginning to wake up and he was not going to embarrass Arthur.

 

“Good.” With that, Dutch disappeared to his tent.

 


 

 

The last thing she remembered before she fell asleep was Arthur softly crooning some campfire song as Ennis’s rhythmic trot lulling her to that very sleep. She briefly remembered Arthur placing her in the cot, though it felt like a dream. A lot of the last month had felt like a weird mix between nightmare and dream. There was good mixed in the bad. She pulled Arthur's blanket closer, seeking the comfort of the warmth and smell of the item.  He was so kind to her. It was actually shocking that he took such great care of her. She would have imagined that an outlaw was always rough and didn’t care for anyone but themselves. This week had disproved what her notion of the outlaw was. Admittedly, she should have feared for life the moment Sadie revealed that information to her. She didn’t. This group, in general, had just been so welcoming to her. Not only did Arthur Morgan take great care of her, they all did. This was a family. A family, she supposed, she was now part of.

 

“Miss Eleanor!” A little voice broke her from her thoughts about this strange new world she was in. “Miss Eleanor.” The blonde sat up and smiled at little Jack Marston. He was moving on to Arthur’s cot to hug his favorite tutor. “You came back!” Eleanor pushed down her grief and managed to smile for the boy, pushing his brown hair back as she nodded.

 

“Well, I couldn’t leave you now. Could I?” She wrinkled her nose before giving the boy a tight hug. “Your Uncle Arthur and I didn’t even make it Lemoyne before I said: ‘I have to go back to Jack’.” It was a lie but she wasn’t going to burden a child with death. Especially a child who has already been through so much in just the last few weeks. 

 

“Really!?” His little brown eyes lit up. She nodded, pulling back from the hug. “Can I call you Aunt Eleanor now?”

 

“How about you call me Aunt Ellie? Sound good?” She laughed as the boy nodded enthusiastically. This interaction pulled her out of her grief for a moment. She had lost everything, but this child made everything better. It gave her a sense of hope in the world. 

 

“I’m going to make you a necklace, Aunt Ellie!” He pushed himself away from the blonde and ran off. Eleanor was still smiling as she pushed herself off of the cot. As usual, she made Arthur’s bed and went about her routine of fixing her hair and brushing her teeth. All the while thinking that she didn’t know her place in this new world.

 

A month ago, she was Eleanor Henrietta Beamont. The daughter of Lenore and Henri Beaumont, two immigrants who came to this country for opportunity. By being the daughter of Henri, she was the daughter of a farmer who lived just outside of Rhodes. She helped on the farm, paid calls, and enjoyed social gatherings at the Rhodes Parlor House. Today, she was still Eleanor Henrietta Beaumont. But both of her parents were dead. Her way of life was uprooted. And now she was here, in a camp of outlaws and misfits with no place in the world except for right there. How could she fall completely into this group when she didn’t possess the proper skill sets to be an attribute as opposed to a detriment? Eleanor couldn’t steal or con or kill. She knew about farming and managing money. This life...she knew nothing about. As she joined Karen and Tilly in washing clothes, Eleanor wondered if she would long for this world.

 

“Isn’t the life of an outlaw glamorous?” Tilly Jackson laughed, running someone’s underthings against the washboard. “Washin’ and mendin’.” She shook her head, giving Eleanor a smile. “Probably not much different from life on the farm.”

 

“No,” Eleanor laughed, grabbing the wet items and hanging them up to dry. “Save for the farm work, this is what we’d be doin’. This or cookin’ supper.” Maybe the life of an outlaw wasn’t so different at the heart of it. Everyone has a role and every role has a purpose. “Is that all we do? Cook and do things for the men?”

 

“Nah,” Karen shook her head, her own blonde curls following. “Not always. Plus, Pearson cooks his shit.” She spoke with a needle and thread going methodically into a white undershirt. “Soon, hopefully, we’ll get to go into town. Commit petty crimes for money. Look out for large scores.Or any information. ‘Cept for Miss O’Shea.”

 

“Maybe I should have taken up with Dutch.” Tilly rolled her eyes as she tried to get a blood stain off of one of the shirts. “I’m not lazy but, I’d like to just have a day of no work.”

 

“You and me both.” Karen nodded in agreement. “You’re probably headed for the Miss O’Shea route, Eleanor. I ain’t seen Mary-Beth this jealous in a while.”

 

“Why would she be jealous?” Eleanor was clearly confused, placing her hands on her hips.

 

“Arthur’s sweet on you.” Tilly pointed out like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Eleanor laughed lightly. “You laugh but I ain’t ever seen him like this.”

 

“Yeah, and Mary-Beth was trying to get in his bed for the longest time.” Karen added, placing the undershirt she was working on in a pile of finished clothing. She took a swig of whatever booze she was drinking that day before continuing. “I think every woman here has tried to get that sour look off of his face.”

 

“Even you?” Tilly raised an eyebrow, smirking. Eleanor just stood there, taking all the information in. “I certainly haven’t.”

 

“Nah, he ain’t my type.” Karen shook her head, grabbing another item of clothing that needed to be mended. “He was so mean when I came in. He’s gotten better. I ain’t ever seen him act like he does around you though.” She looked up to Eleanor. She was blushing now and she could feel the heat of it in her cheeks. “Told ya she’s sweet on him. You owe me ten.”

 

“I ain’t sweet on him.” Eleanor grabbed another piece of wet clothing and hung it up.

 

“Oh, honey….” Karen gave her a knowing smile.

 

“I’m not. My fiance just died.” Eleanor pointed out, Tilly handing her the last piece of clothing for the day. “Besides, I don’t even know him and he doesn’t know me.” She definitely was sweet on him, she just wasn’t ready to admit it for the sake of Joshua's memory.  

 

“You don’t need to know someone to be sweet on them. I was sweet on this man back in Blackwater,” Tilly started, standing up then grabbing the wash basin to move to the side. “Never knew his name but he would have breakfast every day at that place on Siska….”

 

“I know the place.” Karen nodded, encouraging Tilly to continue. 

 

“He was probably the most handsome man I ever seen. Had that smile too.’ She sighed dreamily, her shoulders slumping. “I think he was a lawyer or something. He would always go to the town hall. He was so handsome, Eleanor.”

 

“Clearly.” She smiled, pushing her blonde hair behind her ear. She never felt that way about Joshua. She never felt he was the most handsome person in the world or the most kind….or the most anything. He was just there. She thought he was the best and most handsome in Rhodes, but he was nothing compared to some of the men who came through town in terms of looks or kindness sometimes.

 

“Look,” Karen kept her eyes trained on Eleanor. “Arthur is sweet on you, even if you aren’t. He helps people but never like this. He’s been through hell and back again. Do not make him go through hell again.” Eleanor noted the serious and almost threatening tone.

 

“Karen, don’t scare her.” Tilly moved to Eleanor and grabbed her elbow gently. “You’re here now and he is going to do anything you ask. Please, be careful with him.” Eleanor understood. She gave Tilly a curt nod. 

 

“He’s the last person I would want to hurt.” She reassured them both.

 

“See, she’s sweet on him.” Karen smiled, returning to her patchwork.

 

That evening, while almost everyone gathered around the fire, Eleanor sought out Arthur. In her pocket was her father’s gold pocket watch. The item was probably the most valued piece among the collection of treasures she secured from the home. She thought Arthur would have been the best person to receive it. There was no doubt in her mind that Henri Beaumont would have given over a prized possession such as this for Arthur returning his daughter. It wouldn’t have been this one, Eleanor knew. That wasn’t her father’s choice anymore. He probably would have given Arthur something simple, money more likely than not. It was Eleanor’s choice though. And she chose to give it to Arthur.

 

Arthur was standing away from the crowd, sitting in the grass near one of the many edges of the overlook. The stars were bright and the moon illuminated the river below and the far off mountains. The beauty of the world could be astounding sometimes. And it was quiet in this spot. The voices of the campfire songs were soft here, same with the laughter. He liked this spot. He could write in his journal here when the sun was still out. At night though, it was just an escape. Here he could think about what Dutch said. Will we have another ‘Mary’ . The question rolled around in his mind all day. Whether he was chopping wood or hauling stuff around. Could Eleanor ever be like Mary? Would she eventually turn on this life, knowing what it is when he was in too deep to want to let her go? Could he risk going through that again? Was it even worth exploring?

 

“Can I join you?” Elenor’s sweet, southern voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked up to her, her face illuminated by the moon.

 

“Sure.” He turned his attention away from the beauty of the girl to the beauty of the world. They fell into a comfortable silence, the sounds of The Heartlands at night  surrounded them as the singing began to fade. The camp was starting to settle into slumber, a few members of the gang lingering around the fire before it was their turn to stand watch.

 

After a few moments of silence, Eleanor reached into her pocket and pulled out the pocket watch. The rustling got Arthur’s attention and he watched as her fingers went over the engraving on the timepiece.

 

“That’s a mighty fine watch.” He noted, keeping his voice just above a whisper. Her eyes were on the pocket watch but his eyes were on her.

 

“It was my father’s.” She looked up to him with a sad smile. She looked back to the watch, her fingers tracing the words. “‘ Qui vivra verra’. ” She spoke softly, her volume matching his. “‘He who lives, shall see’. Papa didn’t believe that we control the future.”

 

“I’m inclined to agree with that.” His hand rested on his lap as he looked up to the sky. “Foolish to think otherwise.” Eleanor nodded. 

 

“I want you to have it.” Arthur was surprised, his eyes traveling from the stars to her face.

 

“I can’t  take that.”

 

“Yes you can.” She nodded again, smiling at him. Arthur loved her smile, he wasn’t afraid to admit it to himself. His problems seemed to melt away with that smile. “Papa would have given you a reward for takin’ care of me and seein’ me home.”

 

“He probably would have seen me and thought I did it.” They shared a laugh, Eleanor gently nudging his shoulder. 

“No,” She continued her laugh, this made Arthur happy. To hear her laugh despite everything that has happened to her. It was inspiring, if he were being truthful. “Honestly, he probably would have tried to convince you, with money, to take me away so the Grays didn’t get their claws in me.” Her father hated Joshua’s family. He said when he first got to Rhodes that they would call him a frog because of where he was from. But he was determined to prove everyone wrong. He had thrived despite that family.

 

“He didn’t approve?” That was a familiar story to the outlaw. Eleanor shook her head but then shrugged.

 

“He approved of Joshua. He wasn’t like his family. Mr. Gray is a hard man to like. They can be nasty.” She made a sour face that gave Arthur cause to laugh. She then directed that face at him. She was pouring her heart out and he was laughing.

 

“Sorry.” He continued with a chuckle. “Continue.”

 

“Papa didn’t like that they didn’t like me.” That statement made Arthur sit up, a slight look of disbelief on his face. How could anyone not like her? She was clutching the pocket watch now, the gold warming in her hand. “He didn’t like that they looked down on me for ‘being poor’. I think they would have preferred he married a girl from Saint Denis.” This was a story Arthur knew well, though the ending to his story turned out quite differently.

 

“I had a girl once.” He rarely talked about this to anyone, yet it seemed like everyone knew the tale of Arthur and Mary. “Mary.” He looked to Eleanor, all her attention was him. Clearing his throat, he continued. “We were kids. Probably a little younger than you. I gave her this little ring. She said yes. Her daddy ,” Eleanor noted the venom in his voice, “didn’t approve. Wasn’t long before she married some feller. Never heard from her again. She even kept the ring.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Eleanor’s green eyes were filled with sympathy, her free hand resting on his shoulder while the other hand continued to hold the pocket watch. 

 

“Don’t be.” Eleanor was quickly filling the hole Mary left in his heart all those years ago. “‘Sides, it all worked out I suppose.” The two sat in silence once more, the moon beginning to set under the mountain range.

 

“Can’t control the future.” She laughed gently, holding up the watch. “For what it’s worth, and it probably isn’t worth that much, Papa would have loved you.”

 

“Heh. Sure.”

 

“Not only would you have been the man who brought his la fillette home, you would have brought me home safe.” She continued to look up to him, she placed one of her hands on the side of his face to pull him towards her. She met his cheek with her lips to give him an appreciative kiss. She could feel her cheeks burn brightly. The action caught him by surprise.

 

“You shouldn’t do that.” The statement caused her to shrink back. He looked down on her, feeling bad for how he was sure that came off. “I mean, you can’t.” That didn’t sound right either. “I….” He trailed off, unsure of how to express his desire to kiss her while knowing he couldn’t. In a different world, he would have kissed her in that moment. Eleanor simply nodded.

 

“Anyways, Papa would have wanted to give you somethin’ for your troubles.” She looked away from Arthur to the watch, moving it back and forth between her hands. 

 

“Eleanor….” He sighed her name, grabbing her small hand in his big paws and kissed her knuckles softly. He rested her hand on his lips for a moment before releasing. Eleanor felt her heart stop in that moment. A sensation she often read about in books, but never experienced.

 

“Dammit….” She blinked back tears, unsure if they were tears of sadness or happiness. “Karen was right.” She hadn’t removed her hand from Arthur’s and he hadn’t released hers. She was completely infatuated with the idea of Arthur Morgan. The memory of Joshua Gray be damned.

 

“Huh? He was confused, rightfully so. Eleanor wouldn’t explain though for fear of embarrassment despite that lingering kiss. 

 

“Nothing….” She shook her head, finally removing her hand from Arthur’s. She looked up to him with a small smile. “The watch is yours.” She held it out for him to take,

 

“I already told ya.”

 

“Take it. If you don’t, I know where you keep your things and I mend your pants sometimes.” She raised an eyebrow, offering him a mischievous half smile.

 

“Fine.” He took the watch and placed it in his ever present satchel. “You ever get married and have a boy though, I don’t want you findin’ me and beggin’ for it back.” Eleanor laughed softly, nodding. 

 

“Thank you.” She stopped laughing and just looked up to him. He looked at her, getting lost in her green eyes for a moment. God, he wanted to kiss her. Instead, he put his hand behind her head and brought her close enough to kiss her forehead.

 

“Anytime, darlin’.”

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

May 25, 1899

 

I am a fool. And I am glad for it.

 

(On the same page there is a sketch of Eleanor smiling, her initials in a heart)

 


 

May 25, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook

 

Things seemed to be getting better in the camp. The broken spirits up in Colter were mending here on Horseshoe Overlook. Hosea would observe the camp from his makeshift perch at the rounded table, book in hand. He could see that the women with them at Blackwater were beginning to smile more, the two women who they had picked up were finding their footing in the camp, Dutch seemed more relaxed, and the gang, in general, just seemed better. Of the staples of this new camp, watching Eleanor and Jack had been his favorite. He would make her flower crowns every day while he made a necklace for his mother. When Hosea asked why little Jack chose those options he said it was because his momma was a queen and queens deserve necklaces and Aunt Ellie was a fairy and fairies wore flowers in their hair. Hosea could understand. Besides Susan, Abigail was a matriarch. She didn’t know it, but she was. And Eleanor was definitely the smallest of the girls, probably where Jack got the idea of her being a fairy, but she was also the new face who took a shine to him and spoke another language. Hosea was almost convinced that Jack thought her speaking French was some sort of magic trick until she started teaching him. That boy was going to learn to read and write from Hosea  and Eleanor was teaching him French. Jack had a chance to get out of this life.

 

Then there was the new found joy Arthur seemed to be experiencing. Hosea would say he was acting like a young, foolish man infatuated with a pretty face. And he would be right. Hosea could see the look in his son’s eyes when Eleanor was around. It was the same look he had for Bessie once. Arthur had a similar look on his face when that Mary Gillis was in the picture. Only something was different. Hosea couldn’t quite put his thumb on it. But something was different. Perhaps it was the circumstances and Eleanor wasn’t a child rebelling against her father by threatening to marry an outlaw. Instead, from what Hosea could tell, this Eleanor was good. She was smart and she was a survivor, like the rest of them. Mary would not have survived this lifestyle. Eleanor was proving that she could do her share of chores and Arthur was teaching her how to shoot. She had the potential to be a thriving member of the gang, much like Charles and Lenny had proven to be over the last few months. And Dutch agreed.

“Hosea.” The figurehead of the gang joined his partner at the table, two cups of coffee in hand.

 

“Mornin’ Dutch.” Hosea closed his book and took the cup of coffee. “Thank you.”

 

“Think nothing of it.” He waved a hand while taking a sip of his own cup. “What do you think, my friend, of everything?”

 

“You know how I feel,” Hosea coughed. He took a sip of his coffee to ease the dryness in his throat. His illness did not agree with the cold. “We should be heading west and retiring.”

 

“And we’ll get there!” Hosea waved this off, shaking his head. “What about our new mouths?”

 

“Mrs. Adler seems to have a fire, but she’s mourning. It’s hard to tell.”

 

“And the O’Driscoll?” There was a darkness to Dutch’s voice in regards to their new stable boy that was on loan courtesy of Colm O’Driscoll.

 

“Yet to be seen. “ Hosea shrugged, looking at Dutch. “I suppose you’re going to ask me about Miss Beaumont next?”

 

“Yes, since that is the natural progression of our conversation, old friend.” The figurehead, looked around to make sure neither Mr. Morgan or Miss Beaumont were within earshot. When he was satisfied, he brought his voice low. “I’m worried about Arthur.”

 

“Why? The boy looks the happiest he’s been in years. She might be good for him, Dutch. Ever think of that? What is it you say? Have faith?” There was an obvious sardonic tone to Hosea’s last statement. It was all Dutch was preaching before Blackwater. He was used to his partner talking about faith, but that talk increased as the date for the Blackwater job got closer. “Besides, I like her. She’s good people.”

 

“Much like our little O’Driscoll, that is ‘yet to be seen’. What happens if she gets killed? Arthur sulks around here when we need him to be out there?” 

 

“So long as she’s with Arthur, she isn’t getting killed.” Hosea pointed out, annoyed with whatever feelings Dutch had towards the girl. “You didn’t see him that first night she was here. Did you ever watch Annabelle sleep?”

 

“All the time.” Dutch admitted, looking at the wood grain of the table. “She was beautiful when she did.” Hosea nodded.

 

“And I would watch my Bessie and he watched her. He gave up his tent for her, Dutch.”

 

“And what, exactly, has she given up for him?”

“Don’t you think she’s lost enough?”

 

“I don’t like that either. I’m still sore over Annabelle and how many years has it been? Molly’s a good girl but Annabelle, she is not.” Dutch was sure he would forever lament for his lost love, even if other women had warmed his bed since then. 

 

“Maybe it was a different circumstance for her.” Hosea pointed out. Dutch groaning in his loss. “Not everyone gets to marry for love, you know.”

 

“Fine.” The leader stood up, conceding in the argument. 

 

“Find a way to use her if you must. We all have one, she won’t be an exception. Just accept that she’s here to stay.” Hosea said as  Dutch walked away. He knew he would have to get past this eventually, but knowing what her uses were would make his task of molding her into a van der Linde easier.

 


 

 

“You’re telling me that your daddy never taught you to shoot.” Arthur Morgan looked up to Eleanor in disbelief. He was taking her down to an abandoned town called Limpany to teach her the very skill. Before they went into the deserted settlement, they stopped to fill up his canteen in the waters of the Dakota River. There she informed him of her lack of gun handling knowledge. “Mister ‘He who lives shall see’ did not teach his only child how to shoot.” Eleanor shrugged, shaking her head.

 

“A French man, whose parents lived through a revolution, did not teach me how to shoot.” She confirmed, her blonde hair whipping in the wind. The last week had been the best for her. She became more integrated into the camp, everyone made her feel like she belonged, little Jack Marston helped her to feel hopeful, and Arthur never left her side. She supposed once the gang stopped laying low that she would have to get used to this person not being around her. For now, she was relishing in that feeling of being protected, that feeling of having someone be there for her. He opened up to her about Eliza and Isaac, about the heartbreak of losing his son, and how hard he was. She spoke more on how she felt like Joshua was just there and that she thought she’d never leave Rhodes. They got to know each other. And she would be the first person to admit that it was nice to have a friend without pretense.

 

“Well, if you’re going to hang with us, ‘ mademoiselle’ , you’re gunna have to know how to shoot.'' His pronunciation of the word made Eleanor laugh. Outside of Jack, it was the most American way she had ever heard French.  “You laughin’ at me?” He stayed in his spot, those his tone getting menacing. Eleanor kept laughing. “It ain’t polite to laugh at your elders, girl.” He flicked some water up at her. She feigned shock, placing her hands on her chest.

 

“Why, Mista Morgan.” She put on her thickest southern accent, a mockery of the southern belles she would see around Rhodes or in Saint Denis on occasion. “Could you ever forget a poor, sorry soul like myself.” She fluttered her eyes at him as he stood up. He ran his hand over his chin in thought as he looked her up and down.

 

“I dunno, Miss Beaumont.” He walked around her while she tried not to laugh. “You gotta stop laughin’ at me when I’m tryin’ to be tough.”

 

“You don’t scare me, Mr. Morgan.” He was square in front of her now. She looked up to him, an eyebrow raised and a half smile on her features. “You may scare any other creature on this earth, but you don’t scare me.” That was a lie, he did scare her. Not because he was this big, tall brute of a man, especially compared to her demure five feet and two inches frame. But because of the way he made her heart pound and her stomach fill with butterflies. The strong feelings for the man scared her; not the man himself.

 

“Fine.” He broke the character of the enforced, “Why were you laughin’ though?” He moved away from the river, continuing their walk into Limpany.

 

“I have never heard the French language butchered as badly as you just did.” She laughed once more, following him into the settlement. It looked like the town had burned. She felt a twinge of sadness, wondering if her home now looked like this. This probably wasn’t the best spot to be in, but it was the only spot close to camp where he could teach her how to shoot a gun.

 

“Well, my apologies. I meant no disrespect.” His tone was sarcastic, his face remaining stoic.

 

“I’ll teach you some French yet.” The blonde smiled, stopping with Arthur at an overturned wagon.

 

“I just proved I already know it.” He pointed out, rummaging around the area for targets to shoot at. “I called you ‘ mademoiselle’ , didn’t I.” Again, the pronunciation made her laugh, rolling her eyes as she did so.

 

“It’s your accent.” She pointed out, watching me set this and that on the wagon. 

 

“Well I ain’t got another one.” He countered moving towards her while pulling his Colt New Army and Navy revolver from it’s holster. “Look darlin’, I barely know English. Herr Stauss is the man you oughta be talkin’ to about languages and such.” 

 

“I don’t know if I like him.” She admitted. She had only met the man a few days ago but something about him just felt….she couldn’t describe it. His loan sharking ways just rubbed her the wrong way. So far, of the folks she met, he made her the most uneasy

 

“C’mon.” He motioned for her to stand in front of him, revolver at the ready. “He ain’t so bad once you get past those beady, money hungry eyes. Now, hold out your strong hand.” She did as she was told, holding out the right hand. He placed the revolver in her hand, turned away from them and the road, and scowled. “Tiny hands ain’t gunna do you no good. Probably why your daddy didn’t teach you.” He took the revolver back and emptied the bullets, putting them in his back pocket. Once more, he placed the revolver in her hand. “Try to squeeze the trigger.” She could do it, but just barely. “Feel comfortable? Weight and everything.”

 

“It’s okay.” She was trying to find a way where she could hold the revolver without her finger slipping off the trigger. 

 

“We may have to go to the gunsmith, get you a smaller one.” Arthur took her hands and held them in a way that she could hold her hands on the firearm. Left hand supporting the right. He wasn’t sure she could or should be firing with one hand yet. They would have to work up to it. “Alright now, make sure you’re facing your target head on.” He turned to face her towards the wagon. “Square your shoulders. Bill will tell ya to stand a special way. It don’t matter in the heat though.” Eleanor nodded, situating her hands as he instructed her. “Keep your arms bent a little.” He tapped her elbow.  “Think you’re ready to shoot?”

 

“Do I have a choice?”

 

“No.” He said simply, removing the revolver from her hand and loading the bullets from his back pocket into the gun. He gave the firearm back to her. “I want you to aim for that jug. You can use the sights if you want, ain’t gunna do you much good to rely on them though.” He got closer to her, moving to stand behind the tiny girl knowing the kickback would more likely than not surprise her. “Your gunna wanna stay straight.” He placed a hand on her arm, just above where the rope burns were. Being aware of them, he didn’t want to touch them in case they caused her pain. “Alright, finger on the trigger.” His voice was low now, meant only for Eleanor. “Take a deep breath.” She did. “And fire on empty lungs.” With that, Eleanor pulled the trigger.

 

In an instant, Eleanor closed her eyes. The sound was jarring and the force knocked her a few inches into the hard body behind her. For the first time in her twenty-two years, Eleanor had shot a gun. Opening her eyes, she even saw that she hit her target. A bottle now laid broken on the ground. A rush of excitement and accomplishment filled her. She even felt a bit more powerful. She found herself wishing that her father taught her.

 

“Do it again.” Arthur encouraged. Eleanor took the position again, this time without Arthur’s hand on her arm to keep it steady. She aimed the barrel of the gun at another glass bottle and pulled the trigger. Without Arthur holding her arm steady, her arm jerked a little at the force. She missed her target, instead hitting the wagon. That wasn’t as thrilling. Her shoulders slumped in disappointment and Arthur laughed. “Try it again.” He encouraged, patting her shoulder.

 

This went on until the pair went through a whole cartridge of bullets. Eleanor was a good shot. She had the natural talent for it. She had the focus and the need for precision. The girl was thoughtful with each shot and took the instruction Arthur gave her well. While she wouldn’t be the next Annie Oakley or Lillian Smith, Eleanor would be able to hold her own in time. Not that Arthur was ever going to give her the opportunity to do so. He wasn’t going to keep her in camp like a caged bird but he wasn’t going to willingly put her on a job or any place where her life could be in danger. He would never forgive himself if she fell when he should have been protecting her.

 

Just as Arthur and Eleanor were about to make the short trek back up to the camp, a dapper looking gentleman rode by. He slowed his horse to look at the deserted settlement when he saw Arthur holster his revolver. Surely, this would be a good time for a scheme or a bit of fun. The man took his horse off the trail and started heading to the two.

 

“Good day sir, ma’am.” The gentleman tipped his hat before dismounting his horse. 

 

“Mister.” Arthur replied, skeptical of this stranger. He moved so Eleanor was behind him as opposed to his side. The blonde was confused about what was happening. The stranger laughed, shaking her head. 

 

“I’m not here to cause harm.” He ressaured. Arthur didn’t move from his spot. “I was just riding by and it seemed as if you were shooting. I am a relatively new shot myself.” This was a lie but he was attempting to bamboozle the pair out of at least ten dollars. The stranger, in reality, was a sharpshooter keen to steal from folks without them actually knowing he was taking from them. The ruse was to have a friendly competition under the guise that the stranger was new to shooting when he could actually outshoot the best of them.

 

“I ain’t given lessons for free.” Eleanor looked between the two, unsure if she should try to run and hide or if this gentleman was truly looking for something innocent.

 

“Of course not!” The stranger replied, trying to ease this man into trusting him. “I was thinking about a little competition. Nothing too terribly grand. I’m trying to increase my speed, you see.” Another lie, not that Arthur and Eleanor needed to know. “Lets say, a wager of ten dollars to the man, or woman,” he nodded towards Eleanor, “who can shoot the most bottles out of seven?”

 

“I’ll take that bet.” Arthur agreed, confident that he could take this fool’s money. “Got any of them bottles?”

 

“Of course!” The stranger was thrilled that this brute had taken the bait. Eleanor took a set on at the front of the decrepit saloon to watch these men compete. As the stranger set up the bottles, she took an apple out of her satchel and took a bite giving Arthur a look. She believed that he could win this little competition, that look told him to dominate this stranger and show him who the real gunslinger was. Arthur acknowledged the look, noting the look. He was going to make this girl proud.

 

“Wonderful!” The stranger moved beside Arthur who was loading bullets into his gun. “When you’re ready, aim, I’ll count to three, and we shall start!”

 

“Alright.” The gunslinger said simply, cocking the hammer of the revolver and aiming. The stranger counted to three and within a second, the completion was over in a second. Arthur had won, shooting six of  the seven in quick succession. It was almost supernatural. Eleanor’s mouth was agape. She knew Arthur was a gunman in the gang but she didn’t know he was that good. 

 

“Oh.” This caught the stranger off guard. He was not expecting this man to be able to shoot better than he could. The steps of the scheme did not work like this. He would overtake his target, the target feeling a strike to his pride would offer double or nothing, and that would go on until the target had to stop due to lack of funds. This man was different and he would have to challenge him.

 

“I’ll take that money now.” Arthur turned to the stranger who was quickly trying to formulate a plot and take Arthur’s money as opposed to the other way around. 

 

“How about we up the ante?” The stranger looked to the sky. And there it was. Birds. “Double or nothing. First person to shoot four birds.” Arthur looked over to Eleanor, who was happily snacking on her apple. She nodded. He nodded back. She took another bite of the apple before speaking up.

 

“Why don’t you do it down by the river?” She suggested, standing up and smoothing her skirt. She wanted to suggest that the stranger may have better luck with this. However, her sense of self preservation made itself known and she held back. Even if she knew Arthur could take this man down in a second, she was not in the mood for that experience.

 

“A fabulous idea!” The stranger smiled, trying to usher Arthur to the Dakota. The gunslinger kept his distance. “My dear, why don’t you count us down this time?” Eleanor followed closely to Arthur, knowing this man was not someone she could trust. 

 

“You won’t need to count.” She pointed out. “You can’t count on birds to listen to a count.”

 

“Yes, true enough.” The stranger nodded, loading his own revolver as Arthur did the same. The stranger grew nervous with the passing moments, not even the sound a rushing river could calm him. He had picked the wrong target.”What if we made things more interesting? What if we let her shoot?” He looked to Eleanor, surely she wouldn’t be as good as her male companion.

 

“I don’t think so.” Arthur looked to the stranger, looking to the sky for some birds to take down. His tone made it clear that there was no arguing that. The stranger would try anyways.

 

“Oh, come now, we’re both novices.” The stranger laughed, wanting to keep whatever money he could. “It would be a friendly test of her skill.” Eleanor narrowed her eyes at the man, he was proving to be a disagreeable man.

 

“Sir,” her voice held an annoyance for this man. She did not trust this stranger. “I am starting to think that you are trying to take my friend’s money. Are you a thief? Or  a simpleton?” Her hands were on her hips now, an eyebrow raised. “You started this with him, you finish this with him.” Arthur found himself impressed.

 

“You heard the lady.” Arthur smirked, closing the chamber of the revolver. “Ready when you are, partner.” As if on cue, the flock of mallards flew towards them. The stranger didn’t stand a chance. Arthur had four birds down in a second, much like he had taken the bottles down. The little blonde clapped, a knowing look in her eyes as she smiled. 

 

“I believe that will be forty dollars.” Arthur holstered his revolver. The stranger began to reach into his wallet, but then stopped. He was about to open his mouth again but Eleanor beat him to it.

 

“Go on, I believe we are done here.” The stranger stumbled backwards, a confused and worried look on his face as he looked between Eleanor and Arthur. “SIr.” She said curtly. The stranger was debating whether or not to run. But he had seen how good of a shot this man was. He would never make it down the road.

 

“Of course….” The stranger said, defeated, as he reached into his pocket and gave Arthur the money. “Have a good day.” He sulked off to his horse, quickly disappearing down the path. Arthur counted his earnings, placing the money in his satchel. He looked to Eleanor, a smile on his face as he watched her walk towards him, her eyes on the fading figure on the road. She was something else.

 

“Fool…” She shook her head, rolling her eyes before turning to her attention to Arthur. “We should probably head back.” He nodded, gesturing for her to begin the walk up the trail. They walked in a comfortable silence, sneaking looks at each other. They were both impressed with what they saw. Eleanor was impressed with the shooting and Arthur impressed with her ability to not take bullshit. Not that he was going to take it from that dandy. If she had not been there, he may have lost his temper and beaten the man for the money when he delayed. The woman he had seen as kind and gentle in the camp seemed to turn into a different person in that moment. He wondered if this is what she was like when everything that had happened to her had happened. They were half way up to the ridge when one of them finally spoke.

 

“How did you learn to shoot like that?” Eleanor looked up to Arthur. She was trying really hard not to memorize his jawline or the lines around his eyes. He was far from the boy in the picture pinned to the wagon next to his cot. He was no longer this boyish looking thing, instead he was a man who had been weathered by life. To her, he was more handsome now than he was when that photograph was taken. She had to look away quickly, afraid that he would catch her staring. To distract herself, she lifted her skirt slightly to help with the incline.

 

“My dad.” He said plainly, keeping his eyes forward. “He was a bastard but he knew how to shoot.” Eleanor looked up to him again, wondering if he would give her more. “Lyle Morgan was not a good man, but he could shoot better than the rest.” He looked down to her, admiring how her hair shined in the sun. It almost reminded him of gold. “You’re gunna be a good shooter.” He brought his voice low. He watched as her cheeks turned pink, the feisty woman at the river becoming a shy girl once more. He couldn’t hold back his smile at this transformation. “Just need more practice is all.”

 

“Well,” she kept her attention to the road. Though she was sure that he could see her blush along with the stupid smile on her face. “I think I am goin’ to have an excellent teacher.” She moved to cover her face, disguising it as a means to push her curly hair behind her year. 

 

“I don’t know about that.” He chuckled, shaking his head. 

 

“Oh, come on Mr. Morgan.” She laughed gently, the pair passing under a tree that had fallen and was caught by the tree still standing. It made for a good entrance to the camp. “You’re telling me that everything down there was pure luck?” She moved to stand in front him, the height difference apparent between them. “You just happened to do all that? You’re good with a gun.” She pointed out what was obvious to everyone to encounter Arthur Morgan’s shooting skills, he would still downplay it though.

 

“I think you are suffering from hero worship, Miss Beaumont.” He took a moment to lean against a tree, his eyes remaining on the small blonde. “And I ain’t no hero to be worshipped.”

 

“And I think you are suffering from a lack of self esteem, Mr. Morgan” She crossed her arms, offering him a smile. “You know you talk to yourself when you shave, right?” A risky line of conversation to start, but there was no turning back.

 

“I was not aware.” He may not have been, but Eleanor was. It was a habit she had picked up in the last week. She would be laying in his cot, waking up for the day, and she would listen to him as he shaved. Most of the time, he would be silent. But on occasion, he would call himself ugly and chastise himself for being such. She was pretty sure he called himself an ugly bastard one morning. It broke her heart a little. To her, he was the most handsome man. Scars, lines, and all.

 

“Well, you do.” She looked down, her arms still crossed. She wasn’t supposed to say it. She wasn’t supposed to admit that he was handsome. “You aren’t an ‘ugly bastard’.” This caught him by surprise though he did try to hide it. He had spent the last week convincing himself that she was too ugly, too dumb, and too old to even entertain the idea of a flirtation with Eleanor. Despite the chastise kisses they had shared just a week prior, he was determined to think it was just a fluke. That she let him kiss the delicate skin on her hand and her forehead out of pity. Or that she had kissed his cheek as a polite courtesy for trying to return her home. He knew that he had the potential of falling in love with her and he knew the fear that came along with it. 

 

“You should be in black.” He stated, trying to direct the conversation away from himself. He was also trying to remind himself that she had a love who died. 

 

“Yes.” He could sense the shame in her voice. Her eyes were still trained on the forest floor. “I should be.” She confirmed, knowing full well that she should have been mourning Joshua. Yet the more time she had to sit and think, she was realizing more and more that she never loved Joshua. Not romantically. She loved him dearly as a friend, and she mourned him as such. But she could not bring herself to mourn him as a fiance. She could not find herself to dress in black. She wondered how she would sound if she vocalized it. 

 

“Why ain’t you?” He kept his blue eyes on her, hoping that she said something that would change the feelings in his heart. Eleanor shook her head, bringing her green eyes to meet his. They were beginning to fill with tears. She felt a horrible guilt all of a sudden.

 

“I don’t think I loved him.” She admitted, clutching her white shirt at the waist. “I….” she stopped herself, wondering if she could be candid. And if she could be, should she be. “I never felt any passion.” She cast her eyes down, a tear falling to the ground. “My heart never stopped when he walked into a room.” Like it did when Arthur walked into a space she was in. “Or….or felt the need to be around him constantly.” Like she did with Arthur. “I know it sounds terrible, but I don’t miss him.” She looked up to Arthur, shaking her head. The fact was a terrible punch in the gut. She did not miss Joshua Gray. She would miss Arthur Morgan, a man she barely knew, when he wasn’t around. But Joshua Gray would never be around again, and she was somewhat thankful. She felt like she had been freed from the yoke of expectation when she thought about her relationship with the son of Tavish Gray. “I was fond of him, but I never loved him.”

 

“Yet you were going to marry him?” He was trying to be mean now. It was a defense mechanism. This girl was pouring her heart out and all he wanted to do was hold her. He had an overwhelming urge to take care of her, make her life right. But people he loved died; people he loved left him. He didn’t want Eleanor to die nor did he want her to leave him.

 

“What choice did I have? Poor farm girl, daughter of an immigrant, getting to marry the son of the richest man in the county? My life would have been hell if I denied him!” She cried out, the tears flowing freely. “The Grays own half of Rhodes, they control the town! Do you think I would have had a happy life? Do you think Papa would have been able to go to market?  It would have been better to be married to Gray than it would have been to deny him.” She took a deep, shaky breath. Arthur suddenly felt bad that he attempted to be the mean old man that he could be sometimes. 

 

“I am sad he died.” She said, her voice softer as she placed her hand on her forehead. “I am not sad that I do not have to marry him now. I’m not sad that my survival no longer depends on a Gray.” Arthur stared at her, taking in this information. He recognized those feelings. While he loved Mary Gillis deeply, there was a sense of relief when she married another. He would have had to pick between his family and her at some point, he was sure. He would not have fit into Mary’s world. They could have tried, but would they have been happy in the long run? Would he have been happy?

 

“I understand.” He cleared his throat, unsure with what to do with the crying girl in front of him. Sure, he could comfort her but he was the reason she was crying. He paused for a moment before deciding to close the gap between them. He embraced her, one hand on the middle of her back as he held her close while the other rested on the back of her neck. She melted into him, resting her head on his chest as she stared into the woods. His steady, quickened heart rate was somewhat comforting to her. All this because she chose to tell him that he wasn’t an ugly bastard. He pulled back slightly to look down on Eleanor, she looked up to him in response. Once again, he got lost in those perfect green eyes of hers. The temptation to kiss her grew stronger. He wanted to. He wanted to whisk her away, keep her to himself, and kiss her. In that moment, he was almost positive she wanted to kiss him too. He moved his hand from the back of her neck to cup her cheek. He ran his thumb over a tear as he watched her eyes move from his eyes back to his lips. Now he was positive she wanted to kiss him too.


Not yet, Arthur. Wait. He thought, bringing her forehead to his lips. He placed a soft, apologetic kiss on her skin before pulling her body closer to his. Eleanor sighed against his shirt, he swore he could feel her smile against it. There was no protecting either of them from this.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

June 1, 1899

 

Finally, a thaw in this God awful weather. We got off the mountain and rode east into some pretty enough country called the Heartlands. Ain’t been this far east in many a year. Hosea seems to know the country a little.  I’m beginning to understand it. Maybe it’s because of Eleanor. Maybe it's because of other things. Everyone seems to be doing better. Even Dutch. His eyes are sparkling once more and I can see he’s thinking a little clearer. I think we all feel a little bit happier, in spite of Blackwater and that whole mess.

 


 

 

June 1, 1899

Horseshoe Ridge

 

It was a morning like any other since they had arrived in the Heartlands. Someone would be making coffee, scouts would trade places to relieve those who watched the camp overnight, and routines would begin. For Arthur, that was checking on Eleanor from his spot in front of his tent. There were moments where he did question why he gave her his comfortable cot so easily. Lately, the answer would be found in the smile she seemed to have in her sleep. So far, he noticed that she either slept with her lips slightly parted, an image he had placed in his journal, or she would sleep with a small smile. This morning, he wondered what she was dreaming about that caused that smile. He would never know. He pushed himself off from the ground, rolled up his bedroll, and placed it under his cot. He did not resist the urge to place his hand gently on her cheek. The sleeping girl leaned her head into his hand, a small happy noise coming from her.

 

Things were different since that moment in the woods a mere week ago. There was a wordless understanding between them. They understood that there was something there. Something both of them thought they had experienced before. Neither of them would act on it yet though. It was too new, too strong, and very scary for the gunslinger. Given his history, he was very afraid of this. This girl who had so quickly found a way into his hardened heart could be taken in an instant. Without warning and with no chance to say goodbye. He was not sure if he could handle losing someone he loved to this life again. He could only hope that Eleanor didn’t become the fifth name on a list of those he loved who had left him. A small sense of reassurance washed over him as he watched her eyes flutter open. 

 

As Eleanor woke up, she inhaled deeply. The scent of Arthur Morgan stronger than it usually was. She registered the warmth on her cheek and leaned into it, smiling softly. If you asked her three weeks ago if she expected to wake up in a camp, surrounded by outlaws, and possibly the most dangerous one gently waking her up, the answer would be no. Just three weeks ago, she was barely conscious and hoping for death sooner rather than later. The night that she called for help, she thought that would be the end. The alternative was proving to be so much better. And in the two weeks since her attempt to go back to Rhodes, this place and these people were becoming home.

 

“Mr. Morgan.” She smiled, her voice filled with sleep. She arched her back, stretching out her muscles. “Everyones gunna see, mon râleur .” He had asked what that meant the first time she used it. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that she was calling him her grumpy. Even though almost everyone at the camp seemed to comment on his resting face, which did look rather sour. 

 

“Heh. Let ‘em.” None of the men who would barb him were in camp and he knew the women would love to see old, sour faced Arthur Morgan in this position. Save for Mary-Beth sometimes. She was still a little confused as to what made Eleanor special but at the same time, she loved the idea of a romance in the camp. He had caught her on more than one occasion looking at him and Eleanor with wide eyes and a sappy look. The girl was in love with love.  “I’m headin’ into town later.” He spoke softly, running his calloused fingertips over her jawline as he admired the mess of a woman just waking up.

 

“Can I come with you?” She took his hand in her’s, leaning her cheek on his knuckles.

 

“I don’t know. I’ll be looking for information. The gang needs money.” Eleanor nodded, understanding what he meant. She never forgot that she was in a camp with outlaws, they just haven’t worked since she joined them. “I don’t want you mixed up with anything we come up with.”

 

“Arthur….” She sat up, placing her hand on his cheek. “I’m already mixed up.” She gave him a small smile. He sighed, moving the hand that was on her check so he could hold it properly.

 

“Not like this.” He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “If somethin’ happens, four of you are safe. No one seen Jack,  Abigail, or Molly, and I don’t want anyone to see you. And they ain’t gunna remember you from a few weeks ago. What we do...It gets dangerous, Eleanor.”

 

“Are you plannin’ on getting yourself in trouble today?”

 

“I never plan on gettin’ in trouble, Miss Beaumont.” She laughed gently, tilting her head to the side. “Why do you wanna go into Valentine anyways?”

 

“I can sell some of my things. Contribute to the money box.” She shrugged, knowing she would need to get rid of them eventually.

 

“”You don’t want to sell those in town.” Arthur pointed out, looking from her to the fire. “I’ll find out if there’s a fence. You’ll get a better price there.” He looked to Eleanor, confusion across her face. “You sell things there, stolen things. Sometimes they’ll have something useful to buy.”

 

“My things aren’t stolen though.”

 

“I understand that. Those people in Valentine don’t know you so they won’t trust you. Fences don’t care who you are or where you got it from.” Eleanor nodded, running her thumb over his hand as they fell into a comfortable silence. He kept his eyes on fire, Hosea pouring himself a cup of coffee, while she kept her eyes on him.

 

“I just wanna protect you, s’all.” Arthur sighed. The admission made Eleanor smile and her heart flutter. “I’ll meet you at the wagon.” He didn’t want to give in, but he knew he had to. She wasn’t a prisoner and he would be there. No harm would come to her. Right?

 

“I know.” She reassured as she gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “Thank you.” Arthur pushed himself off of the cot only to turn to her and give her a kiss on her forehead before going to speak with Hosea. Left alone, Eleanor fixed herself up and sought out Karen. She knew her fellow women were getting bored in the camp and craved something different. Arthur would have to forgive her later.

 

“Good mornin’ Karen.” She smiled mischievously as she approached Karen, Mary-Beth and Tilly nearby. 

 

“Mornin’ Mrs. Morgan.” Karen had been calling Eleanor that for the last few days. This caused Eleanor to blush with a stupid smile on her face. Karen had been right. The two were sweet on each other. He wasn’t paying her court, just yet. But they were becoming more casual with their affection towards one another along with spending most of their days together when they weren’t doing chores.

 

“Don’t tease her!” Tilly laughed gently as the other two women approached them. “Good morning, Elle.”

 

“Thank you, Tilly!” Eleanor laughed gently, placing her hands on her hips. “I was goin’ to tell Miss Karen about somethin’ but I think I might just tell you two.”

 

“Oh, c’mon, Elle!” Karen’s eyes went wild with excitement. “You gotta tell me. You know I was just jokin’.”

 

“Promise to not call me ‘Mrs. Morgan’ for the rest of the week?” She offered Karen a hilf smile, knowing that she would promise but wouldn’t keep to it past that day.

 

“Only if it’s good. If it ain’t, I’m gunna keep callin’ you Mrs. Morgan.”

 

“How long have you ladies been in this camp?” Eleanor asked, looking between the three women. Mary-Beth was already excited, the idea of leaving camp would have been a dream at this point.

 

“Too long.” Mary-Beth shook her head. “I’m so bored.”

 

“Arthur’s goin’ to town. I think we should join him.” Eleanor shrugged, Karen already pushing pass to the wagon where Uncle was sleeping.

 

“If you’re goin’ to take the ol’ man into town, and the lil’ woman,' ' Arthur looked passed Karen towards Eleanor. She merely shrugged, giving him an innocent smile.

 

“Before you say no.” Eleanor spoke up, knowing he wouldn’t actually say no, especially to Karen. “You were just talkin’ about findin’ some jobs. I’m sure they’ll find somethin’.”

 

“We may make an outlaw out of you yet, Miss Beaumont.” Not for the first time, Arthur was impressed. Maybe she would be alright.

 


 

 

The ride into Valentine had been pleasant. The sun was out and warmer than it had been in the longest time. Eleanor still had to wear her coat buttoned up as she had not yet gotten used to the god awful cold of New Hanover. She hoped, one day, that she would be able to return to Lemoyne for the weather alone. Or any place that was warm. She heard California was nice from a traveling salesman a few years ago. There seemed to be no limit to the possibilities of what could happen. For now, she would just have to learn to love the mild temperatures just as much as she was learning to love this band of outlaws. With their terrible singing and vulgar lyrics. Of course, she laughed brightly as they sang about girls from different towns.

 

As they rode into the livestock town, Eleanor had noticed that it was busier than it was the last time she was here. Not that she was in the right state of mind to recall. It had been the day after they found her. She could remember Arthur’s kindness and the argument he got into with the hotel clerk where the bath was. She could remember being able to talk with Arthur easily, though she wasn’t sure what all she told him until he said something. She couldn’t remember this town being bustling though. Then she remembered the time of year. Of course it was busy. Livestock auctions were happening. While her father’s farm left didn’t boast much in the way of livestock, she could remember him mentioning going to Valentine a couple of times with a fellow farmer, usually around this time of year.

 

“Look at all that snow in the mountains!” Mary-Beth exclaimed as they turned a corner. The glorious view of the mountains and all the snow made the perfect backdrop for this little town. “Sure don’t want to be back up there again.”

 

“Was it that bad?” Eleanor asked, pulling her blonde hair over her shoulder. She was genuinely curious about their time up in Ambarino. However, she knew that they experienced great loss. Great loss of people and great financial loss. Everyone in that camp had lost something recently. Eleanor thought that was why she felt like she belonged there. They could understand.

 

“Oh, the worst!” Tilly exclaimed. “I never thought I’d be warm again! Just awful.” Arthur turned the wagon on to the main drag as Karen encouraged the girls to look around. It was odd, but a sense of shame filled the newest member. She had no skill set to offer here. If she could be anything, it would be a diversion. Either to Arthur or a target. Maybe he was right to want to leave her in the camp. These women had a specific skill set that would be a benefit to a group of outlaws. Eleanor would never hold a candle to their years of practice and crafting their art.

 

“Don’t worry.” Tilly smiled, patting Eleanor’s leg. “We’ll teach sometime. We all gotta start somewhere.”

 

“She ain’t gunna learn today though.” Karen announced as Arthur pulled the wagon near the general store. The ladies began to file off of the wagon while Arthur and Uncle decided what they were doing in town. Arthur met Eleanor and offered her his hand to help her step down. “See, Mrs. Morgan.” She whispered to Tilly and Mary-Beth.

 

“You ain't supposed to be callin’ me that, Karen.” Eleanor called with a bright smile with the laughter to match. Arthur paid no mind, Karen was going to say whatever she wanted. “That was the deal.”

 

“Fine, fine.” The women dispersed to do their dirty deeds and make gains that were ill gotten. Eleanor could only watch, wondering what those girls were plotting as they stepped into the saloon.

 

“You stay safe.” Arthur said to Eleanor before he and Uncle went off to the general store. She nodded, offering him a smile. For the first time in more than a month, she was by herself. She was surrounded by people, but she was alone. The farm girl inhaled deeply, closing her eyes and remembering her home. The air somewhat reminded her of the farm. Granted, they didn’t have sheep. But the ground still needed to be fertilized. She leaned against the wagon, a bit of sadness filling her in that moment. She didn’t want to confront her sadness. The moments in the camp, especially with Mr. Morgan had brought her so much happiness that it was easy to forget everything that happened. Now that she was alone, with no one to distract her, that’s all she could think about.

 

She thought about the scars on her wrist from the rope. They looked like they were healing, but they were still there. Then there were the bruises. They had faded for the most part, there were still yellow spots on her skin though. Then there was the memory of her family and the shared expressions on their rotting faces. Eleanor had nightmares about that. Those people weren’t her family. She would often wake up, startled, in the middle of the night. But...but then she would see Arthur, laying there just outside his own tent. She would watch the steady rise and fall of his chest, she would listen to his soft yet deep murmuring. He mentioned his dog, Copper, sometimes. Most of the time, it was just grumbling noises. Arthur Morgan was constantly the one who brought her mind back from the brink of darkness. Whether it be his sleeping habits or his smile or those wonderful blue eyes with the specks of green. Sighing softly, she placed her hand on her chest. A lone tear rolled down her cheek as she looked up and thanked God for Arthur Morgan.

 

“Are you alright, miss?”  An unfamiliar voice brought her back from thanking the heavens to Earth. The voice belonged to a lean, frail looking man. He couldn’t have been much older than most of her new companions, but he looked as if he could go at any moment. “Pardon me.” He said quickly, coughing violently into a handkerchief  before he came back to Eleanor. “Sorry about that. But are you alright?”

 

“Of course.” She shook her head, embarrassed that she let her emotions go for a moment. “I’m fine. Just, lost in my own thoughts.” She admitted with a small laugh.

 

“Say, you were here a while ago with that brute?” Eleanor was caught off guard. Arthur had been convinced that no one would recognize her as it had been one appearance in town nearly a month ago. “I remember ya because I thought he was hurtin’ you. You looked so frightened. But Mr. Dennis, the feller at the hotel. He said, ‘Mr. Downes, you haven’t got to worry’. Was he right?”

 

“Yes.” Eleanor nodded, recalling the fight between the woman helping her, the innkeeper, and Arthur. She had to convince them while wrapped in linen, that he wasn’t the man who hurt her. “He’s a good man. He actually found me when I was about to die.” She continued nodding, the smile breaking in favor of a quivering lip as her eyes threatened tears. “He stopped the men that hurt me from doin’ it. He’s a good man.”

 

“Well, I am glad to hear that!” He seemed to be a genuinely kind soul.

 

“I am glad for him.” She looked over to the general story where Uncle and Arthur were sitting and enjoying a drink. “My name is Eleanor Beaumont. We’re obviously new to the area so it is nice to make an acquaintance.”

 

“It’s a pleasure Miss Beaumont.” The sickly man offered her a kind smile. “Thomas Downes. My wife and I have a ranch near the river. If you or your friends ever need somethin’ fresh, lemme know.”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Downes. I will keep that in mind.” She stood up straight, offering him a handshake that he refused.

 

“I do not mean to be rude, Miss Beaumont, but I do not want to pass this cold on to you.”

 

“Again, thank you.” She laughed gently.

 

“No use catching your death over niceties.” The man shrugged, taking a step back. “I’ll let you get back to it. It was a pleasure, Miss Beaumont.” Eleanor gave him a shallow nod, watching as he returned to a table setup to ask for charitable donations. There was  good still left in this world. Eleanor took a deep breath and moved away from the wagon. Unsure of how much longer they were going to stay in town, she decided to gather the things she wanted from the general store. When she stepped out, she saw Arthur and Uncle asleep on a bench. The site made her laugh as she shook her head. They were just asking to be robbed. Not that anyone in their right mind would rob Arthur. Uncle maybe, but definitely not the big, blond fella. The scene did make Eleanor wonder if she could successfully rob them though. At least, try it. 

 

Eleanor’s mind thought about it from all angles. She knew Arthur had her father’s pocket watch on him, that would be a good practice item. She could openly search his pockets, all of them. Though she was sure the kind folk in Valentine would assume she was actually trying to rob him. That wouldn’t be ideal. She wasn’t supposed to draw attention to herself. Maybe if she sat next to him and tried one pocket. She wouldn’t dare touch his satchel. Thinking about it made her realize that she did not have enough street smarts to pull off robbing a sleeping Arthur. Or a sleeping anyone for that matter. In defeat, she sat next to the gunslinger and pulled out a book from her satchel. At the very least, she could read.

 

Sometime later, Mary-Beth came over looking as excited as a kid with candy. Eleanor nudged Arthur to wake up. Once Mary-Beth had their attention, she began telling them how she snuck into a home and found out about a train filled with rich tourists that would be traveling through the area shortly. Eleanor felt her stomach knot up, looking forward as Arthur confirmed that the information might have been good. Then Mary-Beth noticed Tilly with a gentleman and Arthur went to investigate. The blonde kept her eyes down, feeling a bit sick. She knew what she was signing up for when she decided to stay at the camp. They just hadn’t done any of their normal activities, that she knew of, in the last few weeks. 

 

“You alright?” Mary-Beth asked as Tilly joined them.

 

“Yeah.” She breathed deeply, Eleanor standing up to offer her seat. 

 

“Sit down and breath.” Tilly took the seat and looked at the alley way she had just come from. “Who was he?”

 

“Just a damned ghost from the past. Ain’t nothin’ to worry about.” Tilly reassured, Uncle offering her a sip of whiskey that she took. It wasn’t long before Karen and Arthur rejoined the group. Karen with a bit of blood on her lip and Arthur’s knuckles and face were red. She related what happened in the hotel room to the group. Eleanor kept her eyes on Arthur, half admiring him for beating on a man for Karen’s sake and half unsure of what to think of this whole thing. This is what Arthur was trying to protect her from. He was trying to keep her life as normal as possible knowing that it would never truly be normal again. The danger became more apparent when someone began staring at the group and accusing Arthur of being in Blackwater. He tried to defuse the situation to no avail.

 

“Go get the girls home. I’m going to have a word with our friend.” The gunslinger told Uncle as he mounted a horse. Mary-Beth wrapped an arm around Eleanor’s shoulder to guide her to the wagon as Arthur rode off after the man. The knots in her stomach continued. She knew Arthur hadn’t been at the heist. He made that fact abundantly clear whenever anyone mentioned something that happened. But he was in the town and associated with the gang. Eleanor worried for him as she stepped onto the wagon.

 

“He’ll be okay. Arthur’s a big boy.” Karen said, giving Eleanor a sympathetic look. She knew this was the first, true brush with their reality and that it could be jarring if you weren’t used to it. “I remember when I was a kid, my momma and daddy tried to run a scam. It fell through and we had to run. It weren’t fun. This part of the life, it ain’t fun, Ellie.” Tilly nodded in agreement with Karen. “The runnin’, wonderin’ if the next job is the last. One thing is for sure, your life ain’t going to be borin’.”

 

“I was kidnapped.” Tilly said, knowing that Eleanor may be able to relate to that. “By a gang. They were nasty bastards. They wouldn’t feed me sometimes so I had to learn to steal. When they found out, they beat me. Then...some things happened….Now I’m here.” She shrugged, smiling softly towards Eleanor. “You do what you can to survive, right? You did and now you’re here with us.” She tooked Eleanor’s hand, the blonde smiling at Tilly in thanks. “You are a strong woman, Eleanor. You and Mrs. Adler are just as strong as any of us.”

 

“Definitely stronger than Miss O’Shea.” Karen interjected with a scoff. 

 

“You are going to be fine.” Tilly reassured, giving Eleanor’s hand a squeeze. 

 

“I hope so.” Eleanor gave Tilly’s hand a squeeze in return, thankful for the friendship that was forming. “I’ll never hold a candle to you lot though!”  She looked between the three women. She could admire their skill. 

 

“Just gotta learn to blend in.” Mary-Beth advised with a mischievous smile. “No one pays attention to the help or the like. You heard how I got that information. I pretended to be a servant girl. Almost always works.”

 

“I have a lot to learn.” Eleanor felt a little better after the conversation. Though, it didn’t stop her from worrying about Arthur. She was sure that this would be the hardest part of it all.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

June 3, 1899

 

It’s been two days since I’ve been back. Josiah said he saw Sean alive. Meant going back to Blackwater though. It's a dangerous business. Loose ends always are.

 


June 2, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook

 

“He’s gunna be fine.” Sadie Adler said while peeling a potato for the stew that day. Eleanor was helping her. She was doing whatever she could to take her mind off of the fact that Arthur hadn’t been back since that fellow claimed he saw him in Blackwater. She overheard Dutch say that he had been in a fight and went off to rescue someone. That wasn’t enough for Eleanor. She wanted to know he was okay. She had to know that he wasn’t dead on the side of the road. Sadie was trying to help her friend take her mind off of everything by offering a task of peeling carrots. That didn’t help.

 

“How can you be sure?” She shook her head, her eyes looking to the entrance of the camp. She hoped that she would see that familiar figure walking towards her. That was when she knew he would be okay. “What if they got him?”

 

“They aren’t going to get him.” Sadie spoke, putting a peeled potato into some water before moving on to the next.  “He’s smart. If he doesn’t think they can save that Sean guy, they won’t do it.” Eleanor’s attention turned to the carrot she was peeling. Her stomach had been in knots since the day before and she didn’t sleep because Arthur wasn’t there to ward off nightmares. She was tired and incredibly anxious. “He ain’t gunna be an easy man to love, Elle.” Sadie looked to Eleanor who was very concentrated on the task of peeling the carrot.

 

“I know.” She sighed, her shoulders slumped as she looked to the ground. “I know.” She repeated as she inhaled deeply. “I just….I’ve lost everyone.” She shook her head, looking to the entrance of the camp again. “I know it’s silly, but I don’t know what I would do if I lost him too.”

 

“I understand.” Sadie nodded. She understood the loss of the man you loved. The loss of the person who you wanted to build a life with. The loss of the future promised when you married. Sadie missed her Jakey, every day. Her beloved husband was constantly on her mind. She understood Eleanor’s need to not lose another person. “You do what we’ve been doin’. We survive.”

 

The day went on with no sign of Arthur, Javier, or Charles. As night fell over the camp, all Eleanor could do was sit around the fire with everyone, wrapping herself in Arthur’s blanket. Her worry grew. In the three weeks she had been there, no one had been away from the camp this long. A day, at the most. As the members of the gang sang some campfire songs, she inhaled the scent that was fading slowly and being replaced with her own. Hosea was entertaining the group with the story of how he and Dutch met when there the sound of a whinny of a horse got the attention of the group. Eleanor, along with Karen and Hosea, shot up from their seats to see who had come home.

 

“No one can kill Sean MacGuire!” An Irish brogue announced the presence of a new face for Eleanor. Her eyes darted around, hoping to see Arthur. The only additional face was Javier’s. Her stomach knotted more. She felt ill. “Nice to see you all again!” Karen went to him, hugging Sean tightly. Eleanor could have sworn that she was crying.

 

“Javier….” Eleanor approached the man who was grabbing his guitar. 

 

“He’s fine.” Her stomach unknotted at the moment, relief washing over her. “We just don’t travel together, you know?” Eleanor nodded, tears of joy threatening to come from her. “He stayed behind, looted the camp for what he could. “

 

“But he’s fine?” She repeated.

 

“He’s fine, Eleanor.” The Mexican said, a touch of annoyance in his voice. 

 

“Thank you.” She touched the upper half of his arm. Javier joined the group while Eleanor removed herself. She sought the quiet by going over to the ridge. She leaned herself up against a boulder and just stared out into the darkness. In the distance. In the distance, there was a train sounding its whistle, disrupting the sounds of nature. Eleanor looked up to the sky, admiring the stars as she brought the blanket closer to her body. As she counted the stars, her eyes grew heavy. Exhaustion had taken over her and she had fallen asleep.

 


 

 

The next morning, Susan Grimshaw found Eleanor sitting at the rectangular table with a cup of coffee. She was just staring into the woods, no doubt waiting for Arthur. That girl could not be sitting around waiting for a man who constantly left. Not when everyone else was working. And Susan knew that Arthur left camp often to help the gang. He was the muscle, the enforcer, he made sure things got done. Elenor couldn’t be allowed to laze about and neglect chores every time he went off. That was not going to be acceptable.

 

“Miss Beaumont!” The sound of Ms. Grimshaw’s angry voice startled the girl out of her daze. The blonde pushed her hair behind her ear, her green eyes slightly widened. “You need to get to work! Sulking around the camp ain’t gunna do you no good. Now, go wash some dishes!” Eleanor just sat there for a moment, processing what was going on. 

 

“Ms. Grimshaw, I didn’t-”

 

“I don’t care what you did or didn’t do. Go!” Eleanor pushed herself off away from the table, nodding as she grabbed her cup of coffee. She was done with it anyways. Ms. Grimshaw was right. She couldn’t sulk. She had to get used to this. Arthur had a job to do. And it wasn’t a job he could without going out to the world. It wasn’t like farming where you worked the land you lived on. He had to work the land and the people in the world. And she would not have to worry and she would have to work in the camp. If this was something that was going to work, she would have to learn to accept that this was part of it. It wasn’t feasible for him to be there all the time when all these people needed him for their survival. She had her weeks of the gang laying low and bonding with the gunslinger. Now, she had to share him.

 

Doing her part and following the instructions of Ms. Grimshaw, Eleanor washed the dishes, actually how mundane it was compared to everything else. She would often do this back in Scarlett Meadows. Her and her stepsisters would alternate who did what. It was quite nice. Much like here. Everyone had their role. Now, her’s was to fill in until she had a proper job. And it did take her mind off of the fact that Arthur wasn’t there. When the dishes were washed, dried, and stacked up for when the stew was ready for the day, Eleanor didn’t return to her spot to wait for Arthur. Instead, she was found by little Jack.

 

“Aunt Ellie, will you teach me more French?” The little boy asked, his hands behind his back. “I like it a lot better than reading. Reading is boring!” Eleanor laughed gently, kneeling down to his level.

 

“Readin’ ain’t bornin’.” She countered, tapping his nose. “You just don’t have the right type of books. “ She stood up and began walking to Arthur’s tent, little Jack following.

 

“What type do you read?” The inquisitive child asked, sitting himself on Arthur’s cot while Eleanor went through the chest he had offered to share with her at the foot of the cot.

 

“The last book I read had a monster creating a man!” She was talking about Frankenstien. Little Jack’s eyes widened. “It ain’t for little boys though. It gave me nightmares!” She nodded, pulling out an easier book she recovered from her homestead. “But this…” She pulled out a copy of Alice in Wonderland. It was a worn, well loved copy of the tome. Her mother used it to help her learn to read English when she first came to America. In turn, Eleanor’s father taught her how to read with this. “It’s so much fun!” She smiled, sitting next to Jack. 

 

“Will you read it to me?” He looked up to her with big brown eyes. This was clearly Abigail’s son.

“Isn’t Uncle Hosea teachin’ you?” She held out the book for him to take. 

 

“Yeah.” He nodded as he took it. 

 

“He’s a born performer. He’ll make the book more fun.” She promised, knowing she had a bad habit of getting her words jumbled when she read anything aloud. It was a source of torment in her school days. Specifically from the Braithwaites and some of the Gray boys. As an adult, she learned to avoid speaking when she had to read as well. She hoped that if she had any children, they wouldn’t have that problem. Granted, if she did have children, both their parents would be American. They wouldn’t be products of immigrants. She would probably try to teach them some French, but even she forgot words sometimes. She wondered what was going to happen to her language the longer she went without using it. She had gone from using it every day with her family. It was the only language they spoke in the house. Now that she had no one to converse with in French, would she lose the language?

 

“Alright. Thank you, Aunt Ellie.” The boy hugged her around her waist and she returned the hug.

 

“Anytime.” The boy let go of her and jumped off the cot to show his Uncle Hosea the book Eleanor had given him. She stood up shortly, placing her hands on her hips as she stepped out of the tent. The days were growing warmer, Eleanor even dared to roll up her sleeves. It was just like home at night during the day now. She could live with this. She was about to join Abigail in a little sewing circle when she saw a horse come out the woods. Her heart stopped for a moment as she registered who it was. 

 

As soon as Arthur dismounted the horse did he feel a little body crash into him. It didn’t matter how dirty he was from the trek between Valentine to Blackwater and back, Eleanor so willingly wrapped her arms around him. And he was quick to embrace her, take in the feminine, floral set of this woman he loved. He felt guilty for not letting her know what he was doing or where he was going. And he must have been a sight. Bruised from a fight with that fella in Valentine, a graze from a bullet near Blackwater while saving Sean. He would deal with whatever fallout would come from Eleanor, but for now, he was going to enjoy having this woman in his arms.

 

“Careful, someone might think you missed me.” He said against her hair before kissing the top of her head.

 

“Let them.” She pulled back to look up to him, she wrinkled her nose as she smiled up to him. He couldn’t help but to smile back at her. He would admit that it was nice having someone waiting for him. He hadn’t known that feeling since last time he saw Isaac. He placed his forehead on her’s, closing his eyes as he did so. He was tired. She released him, placing her hand on his cheeks as she closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment.

 

“Your blanket doesn’t smell like you anymore.” She whispered, running her thumbs over his cheek.

“I’m sure it smells just fine, Miss Beaumont.” He kept his voice low, moving back so he could kiss her forehead. He felt like a fool. A happy fool, but a fool nonetheless. He never thought it was possible to miss her as much as he did. He pushed through with Ike Skelding’s gang, not only for the sake of his gang, but for the sake of Eleanor. She lost enough and she was not about to lose him. Especially not to the likes of Ike Skelding.

 

“Let's get you cleaned up.” She smiled, wrapping her arm around his and led him to his tent. He willfully followed the blonde, thinking it would be nice to be taken care of by someone who genuinely cared for him as opposed to paying someone in a bath house for a little care. He sat down on his cot and watched her grab some water for the basin. He sighed, grabbing the picture of Mary that was kept close to where he had slept before Eleanor showed up. He wondered what it was like for her to wake up to this picture every morning. Someone must have confirmed that it was Mary at some point.  

 

He held on to this flame for the woman for too long. It had been almost twenty years since he last saw her and she had broken his heart.  She even still had the ring. This woman had a hold on his heart for whatever reason. Perhaps it was because Mary was his first love. But now….Now there was this young woman who openly missed him, who was willing to wash his sins away without question. She didn’t chastise him for coming back battered and bruised. She didn’t ask him to give up this life. Not that Arthur would, mind you, but Mary had. Eleanor was accepting of him, of his family. As she came back and took a seat next to him, he placed the old photograph face down and allowed the little blonde to bring a cloth with hot water to his face. He looked down to her as she concentrated on the dried blood of his face from Big Tommy over in Valentine. When she noticed he was watching her, she just gave him a soft smile. He returned it as she continued to gently bad the water on to his face to remove the blood.

 

“What am I going to do with you, Mr. Morgan.” She spoke softly, a hint of teasing in her voice as she took one of his hands and placed it on her lap. She placed the washcloth in the basin and rang out the additional water before continuing the motions of cleaning him up.

 

“You can do whatever you want to me, Miss Beaumont.” He smiled, the urge to kiss her coming back. He was doing alright with them, pushing them back and ignoring them. After all he had been through, he was still in disbelief that someone could genuinely want to be with him. With no agenda, no accidents...With just him. He was sure, despite everything, that she would wake up one day and decide that she wanted one of the younger guns, someone closer to her age without his sorted past.  “I’ve killed people,” he said suddenly, almost as if to test her.

 

“I know.” She said simply, taking his other hand to clean it.

 

“I ain’t a good man.”

 

“As you keep remindin’ me.” She looked up from his hand and met his blue eyes with her green ones. “I’m not going anywhere, Arthur Morgan. I told you, you don’t scare me. And good men….good men don’t really exist anymore. But you’re a loyal man.” She smiled softly, placing the cloth in the basin before standing up and going to the chest. “A girl’s hard pressed to find that.” She took out a slate grey shirt from the chest and placed it on the cot. “You’re hard pressed to find anyone who is loyal these days.” Arthur took the shirt, this woman astonished him. “Now, take off your shirt so I can see how bad that is.” She motioned to the graze on his shoulder.

 

Eleanor would have been laying if she said that she didn’t watch Arthur unbutton his shirt. It was such a simple act but the intimacy of the moment made it not so simple. She could feel an intense blush come over her face as she allowed her eyes to trail down his form. Arthur was a big man, but he was lean and built for hard labor. She knew that even with his shirt on. The blonde cleared her throat to shake herself out of the daze of just staring at the movement of muscles as he removed the shirt and tossed it on the clothing chest. She certainly would be the one to sew the rip the bullet left. That would have to wait for another time though. She bent down and grabbed the wash cloth from the basin and dabbed on the spot gently. Her hands were shaking. She was visibly nervous as she hadn’t touched a man like this before. Arthur noted the intense blush, he even found it adorable. 

 

“Ain’t nothin’ to be nervous about, darlin’.” He kept his eyes on her as she kept her eyes on the graze. His voice was low, making sure that she was the only one who heard it. Though, he was sure that everyone could see her nerves.

 

“I’m not nervous.” She retaliated, satisfied with the cleanliness of the wound. She placed the cloth back in the basin and grabbed the shirt. She held it open as he turned around and allowed her to help him put it on. He turned around and watched as she began to button up his shirt for him. When she got to his chest, she placed her hand over his heart. She could feel it pounding under his skin. He was enjoying her delicate touch as her fingers curled in his chest hair. She relaxed her hand as she looked up to him, her cheeks were red as her eyes darted between his eyes and his lips. Arthur looked her in the eyes, asking for permission to kiss her in thanks for the care. She nodded, her hand still resting on his chest. He leaned closer to her….

 

“Everyone!” Dutch stepped out of his tent, his showman-like voice demanding the attention of everyone; including Arthur and Eleanor. “Tonight, we are going to celebrate! We have Sean back thanks to Charles, Javier, and Arthur!” Almost everyone, including Arthur and Eleanor, gathered around the tent. Arthur took that opportunity to button up the rest of his shirt, save for a couple of buttons at the top . “We have two new family members. The van der Linde gang is on an upswing! And….And it should be celebrated! We have had enough sadness.” A few members of the gang nodded. “Let us have a taste of happiness, a taste of joy, for the first time in a while. Mr. Pearson, put out the drinks. We will drink for fallen comrades and toast to the future of the van der Lindes!”

 

There were a few gleeful hollers and some laughter. There was a call for a speech from Sean as drinks were passed around. The Irish man clearly already drunk as he stepped onto a box. Eleanor took a sip of her beer. Arthur wrapped an arm around Eleanor’s waist, holding her close to him. The both of them listening as Sean went on about how things were going to be better in camp now. Eleanor wasn’t sure if she should take his claims seriously or if he was just drunk. She couldn’t help but giggle as Tilly hollered back at whatever claim he made. 

 

“Have fun!” Sean finished, stepping off of the box, almost stumbling to the ground. “Have lots of fun!” Eleanor held her bottle out to Arthur, allowing him to tap his bottle against her’s.

 

“To fun.” He said simply before both of them took a sip of their drinks.

 

“Look at you, Arthur Morgan!” Sean came up to the two, the smell of whiskey on him. “I never thought I’d see such a pretty lass on your arm.” She wrapped an arm around Eleanor, effectively sandwiching her between the two men. Eleanor was sure if she could get drunk just by standing next to the Irishmen, she would be. “Tell me, love. What is it here about Mr. Morgan that you find so attractive. Is it his sour face or his-”

 

“Get outta here!” Arthur waved his arm in the direction of Karen. Sean released Eleanor, stumbling back with a laugh.

 

“If you ever get bored of Arthur…” The Irishmen turned around. “Karen!” He sauntered over to where Karen was, leaving the two alone. 

 

“Come on! How about a song!” Dutch called out to Javier, guitar in hand. Eleanor broke free from Arthur and joined a group that included the mexican, Uncle, Sean, and Karen as they began to sing The Louisville Lady . Eleanor joined in along with Arthur. When the song came to a point where the man in the song put an arm around the lady’s waist, Arthur put his arm around Eleanor’s waist. She sang the part a put louder, moving to her tiptoes before taking another sip of the beer. At the conclusion of the song, Arthur let her twirls under his arm as Uncle made a joke about Dilly-dilly-dillying all day. The group laughed as Dutch cranked his phonograph to fill the camp with more music. Jack soon came up to them, tugging on Eleanor’s light blue skirt.

 

“Can we dance?” He looked to Eleanor and then to Arthur. He was turning into a little gentleman, despite everything.

 

“Of course!” Eleanor didn’t hesitate. She handed Arthur her bottle of beer and took both of Jack’s hands and began to teach him the steps of a waltz to match Molly and Dutch’s steps. Arthur took that moment to sit back and watch them. He took a swig of his whiskey as he admired how easy she was with Jack. That little boy meant a lot to the gunslinger. A part of him viewed Jack as a version of Isaac. A version he could help raise. He was often mad at John for running from this. The man had a woman who loved him and a boy who needed him, both of them wanted Marston in their life and he just ran off. He eventually came back but he fought against being a father. So, Uncle Arthur stepped up. He probably would have even married Abigail if he weren’t so foolishly stuck on Mary. Now that Eleanor was here though, he was thankful for the memory of Mary Gillis stopping him from actually trying to make an honest woman out of Abigail. Especially as he watched Eleanor and Jack in this moment. He found himself wondering what their children would look like.

 

“She’s somethin’, ain’t she?” Abigail interrupted Arthur’s thoughts, bringing back to the present. “I’m glad she stayed.” Just like him, he was watching the interaction between Aunt Ellie and Little Jack. 

 

“Me too.” He admitted, taking a swig of his drink. Abigail patted Arthur’s arm, looking from her child and up to her friend with a smile. 

 

“You’re in love with her, aren’t you?” She gave him a gentle nudge. Arthur’s cheeks turned red and Abigail laughed. “It’s romantic. You save her but you end up being right for each other. Mary-Beth talks about that...stuff all the time. Says this is like one of them books she reads. Never thought it could happen in real life.”

 

“I ain’t in love with her.” Eleanor looked up to him in that moment, smiling brightly as she let Jack move under her arm. His heart stopped as he smiled back at her. “I do love her though.” He admitted, looking at his bottle. It was empty and he wanted another. “More than I ever loved Mary.”

 

“Momma!” Jack came up to Abigail, hugging her legs. Eleanor was behind him, Arthur offered her bottle back. “Do you know how to waltz?” He asked, pulling away from his mother. She picked him up and kissed his cheek. 

 

“Of course I do! Arthur… Eleanor….” She smiled at the two as Eleanor took a drink from her bottle. The mother and son began to dance, leaving Eleanor and Arthur as alone as they could be in the camp.

 

“Do you dance?” Eleanor looked to Arthur as he reached into a crate near his feet for another bottle of whiskey. He opened the bottle and took a sip. He looked at her before taking her hand. He sat down on a chair and pulled Eleanor into his lap. The action caused Eleanor, who was a little tipsy on the half bottle of beer, to giggle. She did not drink often if at all. But she was feeling good at that moment. She fell silent as Arthur wrapped his arm around her waist. Feeling nervous all of sudden, she took a large sip of the beer before looking at Arthur. He took another swig of his whiskey before placing it on the ground. Her heart was racing now, she was almost sure that he could see it pounding out of her chest. He placed her hand on her cheek, his thumb caressing her soft skin as he looked into green eyes.

 

“You’re beautiful, you know that?” His voice was in a whisper, meant only for her despite the crowded camp. He moved her hand back, allowing his fingers to run through her hair.

 

“You’re drunk….?” She wasn’t sure where all this was coming from. He never complimented her. There were always looks but he never actually complimented her. He shook his head, letting his hand rest on the back of her neck. In that moment, no one else in that camp existed. There was only Arthur and Eleanor, two people who were sick of fighting this feeling. This was the third time Arthur had come close to kissing her. And she wanted it so bad.

 

“Arthur….” She whispered before he pulled her to him, his lips meeting her’s in a quick and gentle kiss. She sighed into the kiss that she gladly returned as she draped her arms over her shoulder. This kiss confirmed everything for Eleanor. It was like something changed in her. It was the moment she knew that, no matter what, they were going to make it through. Within that same kiss, Arthur knew he found something different. Something he thought he had with Mary, but it paled in comparison to this feeling. When the quick kiss was over, she leaned her forehead against his, a shy smile on her features as she kept her eyes closed. He leaned up to place a quick peck on her lips.

 

“About damn time!” They heard Karen call out. It caused Eleanor to hide her face in the crook of Arthur’s neck as she laughed softly. He could feel the heat of her face on his neck as he ran his hand up and down her side.

 

“Shut up, Karen!” He called back before kissing the side of Eleanor’s head. It was like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. There was no more waiting for the perfect time. There were no more thoughts of if she would return the kiss. And there was definitely no more doubt as to whether or not she shared the same feelings as he did. It was a relief. Even as she hid her face in the crook of his neck, he had some anxieties. What if she woke up the next morning and regretted the kiss?

 

“You never answered my question.” The blonde in his arms whispered, her slender fingers running through the hair at the nap of his neck.

 

“I ain’t much of a dancer, darlin’, but…” He let her go, allowing her to stand up. He followed and held out his arms. “C’mon.” Eleanor laughed gently, placing a hand on his shoulder while he placed his on her waist while their hands joined. He moved her side to side, trying to sway with the timing of the music.

 

“You’re terrible.” She laughed, looking down at their feet. 

 

“Sure am.” He laughed with her, finding her more beautiful in that moment. She seemed genuinely happy, and she certainly felt it. “Wanna see my big trick.”

 

“Of course, Mr. Morgan.” She looked back up to him, her smile staying strong. He spun her around, her laughter growing. “Well, that was some trick.” He did it again, enjoying the sound of her laughter.

 

“Can I ask you somethin’?” He continued to sway her to the music as he looked down to her.

 

“Of course.” She tilted her head to the side, curiosity in her green eyes.

 

“Why does Karen call you Mrs. Morgan? Seems a bit premature.” Eleanor blushed, her smile going from to shy.

 

“When….When everything happened and I came back here as opposed to stayin’ Rhodes…” She took a deep breath, he laced his fingers with her’s to let her know it was okay. They had been through a lot in their short time together. He understood why talking about that may make her emotional. “Anyways,” She shook her head, attempting to knock the thought out of her head. “She said that I was, eh, ‘headin’ in the Miss O’Shea route’.” She laughed gently, her cheeks turning pink.

 

“What's that supposed to mean?” 

 

“She meant that I wouldn’t have to do work, like Molly, because you’d sweep me off my feet and make me Mrs. Morgan.” He laughed, holding her close. “I think she knew we were sweet on each other before we knew. Least before I knew.” She shrugged as he twirled her again.

 

“Come here.” He brought her in for a soft kiss, something he could do more frequently now and he was glad of it. Eleanor was grateful, especially for the surrounding. There were no rules of polite society. He wouldn’t have to court her and they could be alone together without risking ruining her reputation. It was freeing. He was the first to break the kiss and he broke the embrace going over to his tent. Eleanor followed out of curiosity. The first thing he grabbed was that photograph of Mary. In front of everyone who was still awake, he removed her picture from the frame, went to the fire, and through it in. If he was going to do this, he wasn’t going to let the past loom over them. The action shocked more than just Eleanor. When Arthur went back to his tent, he grabbed his blanket and his big blue winter coat before returning to Eleanor.

 

“It ain’t gunna be quiet to go to sleep.” He shrugged, taking her hand and leading her to the spot near Strauss’s wagon that looked over everything. He noted that it had become a favorite spot of hers. Isolated but still close enough. He placed the blanket on the boulder before wrapping Eleanor in his jacket, knowing that she got cold easily.

 

“What are you doing?” She laughed gently, bringing the lined coat closer to her body.

 

“We are gunna sit here and let them fools get drunk.” He said simply, sitting down and leaning his body against the boulder. Eleanor grabbed the blanket and nestled herself between his legs, allowing her head to rest on his chest as she draped the blanket over them. His arms found their way around her waist and he held her as she looked up to the heavens. 

 

“I knew the first night you were with us.” He said suddenly in a low voice, Eleanor could feel his heart racing underneath his shirt. “You were sleepin’ but you were still the most beautiful thing I ever seen.” Eleanor adjusted herself, leaning back so she could look up to him. 

 

“And now that I’m all cleaned up and talking more?” She laughed gently, wrinkling her nose. 

 

“Oh, you’re definitely more annoyin’.” He teased, giving her a gentle squeeze. “Beautiful and annoyin’.”

 

“Why did you burn that picture?” Eleanor asked, looking straight ahead at the mountains in the night. Arthur buried his head in her head, taking in her scent.

 

“I want to be with you. It wouldn’t be fair if she was still hangin’ around.” Eleanor smiled, nestling into him as much as she could. 

 

“You’re not goin’ to regret it?” She looked down, experiencing some of the same anxieties Arthur was.

 

“Only if you regret kissin’ this sour, ugly, old man.” He chuckled, feeling her elbow in his side.

 

“You may be old, you may have a sour face sometimes, but you ain’t ugly Arthur Morgan.” She sighed contently, closing her eyes. “You’re the most handsome man I have ever seen.” There were hints of sleep in her voice. Arthur made sure that she was going to be warm. 

 

“You ain’t seen many men then.” He yawned, allowing himself to slouch and get comfortable. He could sleep anywhere. 

 

“I’ve seen enough.” She replied, running one of her hands up his arm. Soon, her breathing was steady and he knew she was asleep. 

 

“You are somethin’ else, Eleanor.” He smiled, kissing her head before he nestled into a sleep of his own.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

June 9, 1899

 

Went hunting with Hosea. We saw a huge bear, we didn’t bring the right guns. I’ll have to go back some day and try to catch the thing.  Lenny came back to camp. Micah got in trouble in Strawberry. Dutch wants me to go and bust him out. I’m okay with letting the little man sweat. We went into Valentine. Might have gotten a little rowdy. I woke up in a field and had to walk back to camp. Weren’t too bad, got a lot of thinking done. 

 


 

June 10, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook

 

Ach je…. Leopold Strauss thought as he looked over his ledger. Debts were due. It had been a month since he had gone into Valentine to find the poor souls in desperate need of money. Debt, after wall, was a trap. Easy to get into. Very difficult to get out of. And Leopold Strauss was a master trapper. He would lay the bait of a handsome amount of money, with very little interest that accumulated quickly. The prey would take the bait and he would give the prey some space. When the time came for the prey to struggle out of their poor, poor situation, he would send Arthur Morgan to go collect. Men would not fear Herr Strauss, but they would fear the brute of a man that was Herr Morgan. With a list of four names, he went on the hunt. Normally, it would be a few days after compiling the list that Leopold would find Mr. Morgan. It was easier these days though. He seemed to keep closer to camp in the last month and closer still to Miss Beaumont.

 

As predicted,Mr Strauss found Mr. Morgan near Miss Beaumont. He was chopping wood for the camp while she read aloud from a book.  He would admit that Miss Beaumont was a sweet and decent girl. But that was the problem. She was a decent girl surrounded by those who had indecent tendencies. Yet there she was, reading Shakespeare (if Mr. Strauss heard correctly) with her honey hair blowing in the wind, and Arthur listening between pieces of wood. He could understand why this man was so taken with her. He didn’t understand what this lovely young thing saw in the sour Mr. Morgan.

 

“Herr Morgan.” The toady, Austrian approached the couple, Arthur midswing as Eleanor turned the page of her book.

 

“Herr Struss.” The brute said, the blade of the axe gliding with ease through the wood. Eleanor looked up from the book and offered the Austrian a smile which she returned.

“It is time that some of our debtors pay up.” Arthur sighed, never enjoying this part of his life. It wasn’t what he signed up for all those years ago. Strauss wasn’t even a part of everything when they acted like Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This little financial scheme of Strauss’s had proven to be a goldmine though. Arthur felt bad for the souls the Austrian shanghaied into debt. But he had a job to do.

 

“What are their names?” The younger man asked, placing the axe along the stump of a downed tree. Eleanor, curious as to how this worked, listened in.

 

“Of course. There is Chick Matthews over at Guthrie Farm,” Arthur nodded, acknowledging that he was listening, “A Mr. Worbel at Painted Sky, Lilly Millet at Emerald Ranch. And Mr. Thomas Downes, owns a ranch near Valentine.” Eleanor’s ears picked up the name of the fellow who was so kind to her in town not so long ago. She was shocked to hear his name in this. He was just collecting money for a charity, how could he be in debt to Mr. Strauss.

 

“Alright.” Arthur ran his hands through his hair, not looking at the man. “So much for helpin’ people.”

 

“It is a legal business, Mr. Morgan.” Strauss reminded him as he walked away.

 

“So is peddlin’ snake oil and we ain’t doin’ that!” Arthur called after him, waving his hand in dismissal. Eleanor closed her book, and watched as Arthur took a seat next to her.

 

“Arthur….Thomas Downes….” She shook her head, her blonde curls following. “He’s a sick man.”

 

“Then he shouldn’t have borrowed the money.” He pointed out, resting his elbows on his knees as he leaned forward. It was an unfortunate thing, the people that Strauss preyed on in the towns they went to. But he was right. It was a legal business. It was ill gotten gains, but they were legally ill gotten. “He knew he would have to pay up at some point.”

 

“Please, Arthur...Everyone else, fine. But not Thomas Downes.” Arthur stood up quickly, shaking his head.

 

“That ain’t how it works, Elle.” He looked her dead in the eye. “They borrowed money from us. They have to pay it back.” She took a deep breath, looking down as she ran her tongue over her teeth.

 

“I understand how loans work, Arthur.” She spoke more pointedly than he had ever heard her. 

 

“Then you know he has to pay up.” His voice was becoming louder. He wasn’t quite shouting, but Eleanor could tell that he was about to. “‘Sides, how do you know them other folks ain’t sick? How come you don’t care about them?” Their little spat was gaining more attention from those around. Eleanor wasn’t going to back down though. 

 

“I don’t know them, Arthur. But I do know Mr. Downes.”

 

“You keep sayin’ my name like it’ll make a difference.” He rolled his eyes, advancing towards Eleanor. “It ain’t gunna. He borrowed money.”

 

“And he needs to pay it back. Even though he’s sick. Are those the type of people you beat up?” She tilted her head to the side, challenging him. Arthur clenched his jaw as he glared at the blonde.

 

“That the type of man you think I am, Elle?” His eyes narrowed.

 

“No. I know you’re better.” She kept her voice low, brimming with anger while her eyes brimmed with tears. 

 

“I ain’t.” He shook his head, his lips tight. They had gathered an audience now. They wouldn’t gather around the couple, but they looked on from their spots. “I-”

 

“You kill people.” She interrupted. “You rob ‘em. Get drunk and beat ‘em to a pulp. Stay sober and beat ‘em to a pulp. I know, Arthur Morgan.” Her hands were on her hips, tears freely flowing from her eyes. “I know all of that. But I also know that there is a good man in there.” She stepped up to him, a forceful finger pointed at his chest which he grabbed, though he made sure not to grab her where the ropes weren’t and rather gently. They may have been arguing but he wasn’t going to knowingly hurt her. She didn’t snatch her hand away. 

 

Arthur became aware of all the eyes on them. He looked down and let go of her hand. He felt dirty. This woman put so much hope into him and he was disappointing her because of this Thomas Downes. Maybe the circumstances were rubbing off on her enough where she didn’t care about those other folks Struass mentioned. But she met Mr. Downes. They must have spoken during one of their trips to Valentine. She could put a face to the person he would potentially have to punch. He sighed, watching her go to the tent they now shared and sit on the cot they, chastely, slept in every night.

 

“God dammit.” He muttered under his breath, he wished that he had waited to chop the wood now. He was angry now but he wasn’t going to take it out on anyone here. Instead, he walked off to his horse, an American Standardbred named Hades. He was planning to gift Eleanor a lighter horse when he had some more money. He would call the horse Persephone. He remembered the story from when Hosea was teaching him how to read. Truth be told, he felt like Hades sometimes. Like he was stealing Eleanor, this source of light and joy, from the world just for himself. Only, she didn’t have Demeter to bring her back or talk her out of taking up with the likes of him. That horse would have to wait though as he dealt with the likes of Chick Matthews

 


 

 

As night fell, Eleanor laid on the cot. She hadn’t moved much since their fight. Instead, she reflected on it. She knew that she was right. That what Strauss did was reprehensible. He decided to prey on the weak and destitute. Eleanor wondered if he went on a power trip when he sent Arthur out to collect. What was the purpose of loaning money to people who couldn’t pay it back? It was the first thing that truly bothered Eleanor as she lied watching the campfire roar. She could deal with the robbing. She could deal with some of the killing as she would prefer Arthur come back alive if it came down to it. She could deal with everything Arthur was and is, but she couldn’t deal with the things Strauss did and ask Arthur to do. She did not like Leopold Strauss.

 

The campfire songs began as Eleanor brought their blanket around her, the air growing chilly. Especially without Arthur to keep her warmer. That had been a nice development in their budding relationship. He was no longer sleeping on the ground. Instead, they shared the cot and held her close to him. She was engulfed in his warmth, the smell of him was a comfort, and her nightmares stopped. It had only been two nights, but those two nights were the best sleep she’d gotten in the last two months. Suddenly, she felt the weight change on the cot and a hand patting on her covered ankle before resting there.

 

“What do you want me to do.” Arthur’s voice was in a whisper, almost defeated. Eleanor turned to her other side to face him. “The debt has to be paid.” Eleanor merely looked up to him, she hadn’t thought of what other options there were. Arthur certainly couldn’t ignore it, Strauss wouldn’t let him. Arthur kicked off his boots and laid on the cot next to her. It was the only time that they could be face to face given their height difference.

 

“I know….” She whispered, looking down as he draped an arm over her waist. He watched her, wondering what she could possibly be thinking in that beautiful head of her’s. “How much does he owe?” 

 

“$50.” He ran his fingers through her hair as much as he could. He was finding that it wasn’t easy to do with curly hair but he watched how she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply when he did. So he would try. This moment was no different. “Eleanor….” There was regret in his voice. Eleanor placed her hand on his cheek, running her thumb over his cheek.

 

“Me too.” She nodded, understanding that they were both sorry for the scene they caused. He leaned in to place a gentle, lingering kiss on her forehead, then the tip of her nose, before placing a soft kiss on her lips. She gladly returned the short kiss, keeping her eyes closed as he leaned his forehead against hers. “I could pay it….” She whispered softly. “You could act like you went to his ranch or go to his ranch and let him know it’s paid...I don’t know.” She sighed. 

“You don’t have that kind of money.” His voice matched hers, making sure that she was the only one who heard. He pulled back slightly, curling his finger under her chin and tilting her face up towards him. “Do you have that kind of money?”

 

“Papa was saving up to buy some more land, build a better home.” She admitted, looking in his eyes for his reaction. “He hid it in the flue…”

 

“Will that make you happy?” It was a simple question that he already knew the answer to. Of course it would make her happy. This foolish, decent man who borrowed money from a not so decent immigrant would be cleared of owing money. Of course, she nodded. He kissed her forehead once more. “Give me the money tomorrow. I’ll ride out and let him know. And you’ll never have to worry about him again.” 

 

“Thank you.” She smiled, leaning in to kiss him. This was her favorite thing to do now. She loved the taste of his lips, the softness of them. If she could, they would just lay there and embrace each other all day, kissing as they saw fit. “You are a good man, Arthur Morgan.” She kissed him again, lingering a bit longer this time as his finger delicately traveled from her chin, over her jawline, and down her neck before pulling her in for a deeper kiss. He broke it a moment later, only so that he could stare at her with love in his eyes. She was incredible.

 

“I ain’t.” He reaffirmed what he had said earlier in the day. “But for you, I can try to be better.” She laughed gently, shaking her head.

 

“No, stay the way you are. You’re kind and caring when it matters.”

 

“When it comes to you, you mean.” He smiled softly, maintaining eye contact.

 

“And your family.” She added, wrinkling her nose. “You’d move heaven and earth for Jack.”

 

“He reminds me of Isaac.” He continued to run his hands through her hair. Eleanor just looked at him with sympathy. In her time with them, she rarely heard him talk about Isaac. If Arthur talked about him at all. 

 

“Tell me about him. About his mother.” She moved her hand to rest on his arm. 

 

“I-I can’t.” He sighed. He had never dealt with it. Besides, she had enough to worry her mind. She had the death of her own family, the trauma she experienced...He didn’t want to add to it. Even if she had asked.

 

“Did you love her?” She moved her hand from his arm to his cheek. 

 

“In a way.” He nodded. “Never enough to want to marry her. She didn’t want to marry me though. Made that clear.” He chuckled, remembering an argument him and Eliza once had after he attempted to propose. “She, uh,  wouldn’t have me. Didn’t want me around enough to influence him. Can’t say I blame her.”

 

“Did she keep you from him?” She couldn’t imagine keeping a father from a son, or a son from his father. No matter what the circumstances. He shook his head.

 

“I saw him when I could. Wasn’t often enough.” There was regret in his voice, he stopped the motion of running his fingers through her hair. He constantly wondered if he had been there, if Eliza had let him take her hand, if they would still be alive. But then there was this woman next to him. This woman who saw the good in him despite the bad. This woman who would have him if he asked, at least he thought she would have him.

 

“Are you sure you want to use that money for Downes? You could save it for yourself, buy your own land….” Eleanor moved closer to Arthur, adjusting herself so she could lay her head on his chest.

 

“You’re not getting rid of me so easily, Mr. Morgan.” He could feel her body shake as she laughed. “Besides, I can’t own property. I’m not married. It’s silly. A married woman can own her property, while I….” She sighed over dramatically, “a poor spinster, living amongst outlaws, cannot own land.” She shook her head.

 

“Damn shame.” He commented, closing his eyes as his body relaxed as she nodded.

 


 

 

The next day, early in the morning, Arthur mounted Hades and began the ride to Downes Ranch. Eleanor moved the money from her satchel to his before he went off. It was part of their plot to make it seem like Downes paid the debt despite Eleanor being the benefactor. Arthur was still unsure of what to think of the whole situation. All he knew was that he wanted to do right by Eleanor and this is what she wanted. It wasn’t up to him to decide what she did with her money, after all. Even if they found themselves married down the road, he was sure that he still wouldn’t want to control what was hers. The stupid laws of a “civilized” world. Where men were superior to the fairer sex depite them keeping the fabric of community together. Arthur may not have been the smartest man, but he could remember a time before Miss Grimshaw and the ladies, a time before Annabelle and Bessie even. Back when it was just Dutch, Hosea, and himself.  It was amazing they were able to function. These thoughts are what filled his head as he made the short trip to the Downes Ranch.

 

Thomas Downes was an easy man to find. Arthur recognized him the moment Hades passed onto the property. He was the man who stopped him from beating that big man to death a few weeks back in Valentine. He was a fool. But a kind one, according to Eleanor. Dismounting his horse, Arthur removed his hat out of respect and placed it on the saddle. He approached the man, trying not to be intimidating as that's not what Eleanor would have wanted.

 

“Mr. Thomas Downes?” The man turned around, his attention moving from the ground he was tilling to the enforcer. He was a bit startled. Arthur couldn’t blame him.

 

“You’re here from that German man, aren’t you?” The rancher was timid, his hoe firm in his hands. “I just need a few more days.”

 

“No...Well, yes.” Arthur nodded, he was there because of Strauss, but he wasn’t there for him. “You met an Eleanor Beaumont.” Thomas Downes nodded, confusion in the middle aged man’s face. “Your debt is taken care of.”

 

“I can’t accept that.” The man began to cough. He turned around, hiding his face. “I’m sorry...I’m-”

 

“Sick. I know. She told me.” Arthur looked down, a terrible feeling of guilt in his stomach. Strauss knew how to choose easy targets. “Look, I should be beatin’ that money out ya like I beat that feller in town.” Arthur kept his distance as his eyes narrowed, trying to be somewhat intimidating so this man never fell for the likes of Leopold Strauss again. “And I’ve beat men for less money. Will I see your name again, Thomas Downes?”

 

“Again, I can’t accept it.” He shook his head.

 

“Look mister. I don’t decide who Herr Strauss gives money to. I ain’t the one who decided to clear your debt. Don’t be a proud man.” Arthur watched as Thomas Downes took pause. 

 

“Please, wait here.” Arthur groaned as the man disappeared into the home. He wanted to go back to the camp, satisfy the debt, and be done with this man. Arthur returned to Hades and was feeding him some oats when Downes came back with a basket. “Please,” he held out the basket to Arthur, the enforcer was now wearing the confused look. “Give these to Miss Beaumont. My wife just baked them yesterday. Thank her...for us. She’s done our family a great service.” The confusion didn’t leave Arthur’s face as he took the basket from the man. 

 

“I will.” He nodded, grabbing his hat from the saddle and placing it on his head. 

 

“I wasn’t sure about you.” Thomas Downes said before Arthur mounted the black stead. “We all thought you were the one who beat that poor girl.” Arthur sighed, news traveled fast in Valentine it seemed. “Truthfully, I didn’t believe her when she said you saved her. Especially after that whole scene you and Big Tommy caused…”

 

“I didn’t start that, Mr. Downes.” Thomas held up his hands as if asking Arthur to wait for him to finish.

 

“You are not a good man. But, perhaps you are a decent one.”

“I ain’t even that.” Arthur replied, mounting his horse and riding back to the camp. It was done. And Eleanor got rewarded for doing the decent thing. It wasn’t money, which everyone needed. It was something though.

 


 

 

“My lady.” Arthur said, placing the basket from the Downes on the chest. Eleanor had been sitting on the ground. It seemed like she had finally gotten a moment to mend the shirt from when they rescued Sean. The blonde looked up, her green eyes filled with curiosity.

 

“When did you have time to bake?” She teased, standing up from her spot. She approached him, standing on the tips of her toes to place a kiss on his cheek. He aided her by leaning down so she could reach.  It was domestic, but he enjoyed it. He watched as she looked into the basket and laughed to himself when her eyes lit up. “Tea cakes….” She sighed contently, taking one from the basket. She broke it in half and gave a portion to Arthur. He gladly accepted the spoil of decency.

 

“Mr. Downes thanks you.” He said, sitting on the cot as he enjoyed the works of Mrs. Downes.

 

“Did you scare him into not doing that again?” She sat next to him, happily snacking on the treat. 

 

“I haven’t the slightest idea as to what you are talking about, Miss Beaumont.” He chuckled, looking down to her. “I ain’t goin’ back there.”

 

“As long as you didn’t touch him.” She shrugged, taking another nibble of the confection.  “Thank you.” She smiled, touching his cheek gently.

 

“How do you do it, Eleanor?”

 

“Do what?” Another bite of the little cake.

 

“Be….so decent? You didn’t want me to beat him, take his money….But you want me to scare him into not taking money again?” He watched as she thought for a moment. He watched as her top teeth ran over her bottom lip. She was something.

 

“Not everything is black and white.” She mused, her head tilting to one side. “There is evil in this world. And there is good.” She nodded, thinking out loud. “Sometimes bad men do good things and good men do terrible things. But….” She paused, unsure how to continue. How did she decide what was good in her life and what was bad? “It’s a gut feeling I guess. Like...Um….You told you about your first bank job….You gave that money away. You….You did something bad but you also did something good...You killed those men but rescued me and…” She smiled, looking down at the ground, her cheeks turning pink. “And I am happy. I am free and I am happy.  And….I have you.” She looked to him and shrugged. He took her hand and placed a delicate kiss on the back of it. “I, um….” She giggled, watching his movement. “I am very thankful for the grey in this world, mon râleur .”

 

“Me too.”

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

June 13, 1899

 

My first mistake was trying to rescue Micah. Had to kill half a town for that son of a bitch. Robbed a stage with him too. At least those folks were O’Driscolls. I’ll happily kill those bastards. We ain’t good men, but we’re better than them. My second mistake was not letting Micah hang. He’s a son of a bitch. I don’t know what Dutch sees in him. I received a letter from Mary while I was out in Strawberry. She was askin’ to see me. I haven’t brought it up to Eleanor. Yet. I’m sure she’ll have feelings about it. I do.

 


 

June 14th, 1899

Horseshoe Ridge, New Hanover

 

“Why do you want to see here?” It was a fair question coming from Eleanor as they stood off in the woods, the morning sun streaming through the trees. The pair had learned their lesson from their spat about Thomas Downes. They were meant to discuss things in private. This did not concern anyone in the gang. It was only about Arthur and her. No one else. Well, and Mary Gillis Linton. “Why does she want to see you?”

 

“I don’t know.” Arthur was looking down at the ground, not entirely sure what to make of Mary’s letter. It had been nearly twenty years. A whole lifetime had passed since they had seen each other. She had married, surely she went on to have a happy life. He had certainly lived his. “She has somethin’ of mine. If I can, I intend to get it back, I suppose.”  The gunslinger shrugged, looking at the blonde as she paced back and forth between two trees. “Look, I ain’t too concerned. She’s been married…”

 

“Then why does she want to see you?” Eleanor turned suddenly, facing him as tears rolled down her cheeks. It was oddly endearing and comforting to see her so worked up over his former flame. What he found endearing though, she found terrifying. She shouldn’t be getting this worked up over someone who’s picture he destroyed. Was this Mary woman always going to be a third person in their relationship? “How come….” She sniffed, shaking her head as she took a deep breath. “I don’t want you to go.” She looked to him, with those big, green eyes he loved. He advanced towards her, placing his hands on her shoulders as he kept eye contact with her. It was important that she knew the gravity of what he was about to say.

 

“I ain’t goin’ nowhere, Eleanor. Alright?” He watched her eyes drift down, her shoulders slumping in defeat. He was going to do what he wanted, Eleanor realized, and she couldn’t stop him. Not even from seeing Mary. “I am comin’ back to you. You have my word.” Eleanor nodded, wrapping her arms around his body as she laid her head on his broad chest.He moved his hands from her shoulders and embraced her. 

 

“You better.” She sighed, her voice slightly muffled by his shirt. He kissed the top of her head before breaking the embrace. 

 

“You think I’m gunna leave you here with Micah?” There was obvious disdain in his voice for the man she had just met just two days ago. He was vile.

 

“You better not!” She scoffed, clicking her tongue as she looked at Arthur in disbelief. “Why is he even here?” Arthur didn’t have an answer for that. He just shook his head. 

 

“Dutch sees somethin’ in him, I suppose. Don’t know what. If he gives you any trouble…..”

 

“I will.” He didn’t have to finish his sentence. Eleanor knew that Arthur was going to protect her. Even if that meant punching his brother in Dutch Van de Linde. 

 


 

 

Micah Bell watched as Arthur Morgan and Eleanor Beaumont rejoined the group from the wooded area around the camp. Only to send Arthur off to whatever he was getting up to. Micah would never admit that he was jealous of Arthur but in that moment, he was. What made him so special to have someone suck his cock and have a warm body in bed? For free too? There had to be an arrangement he didn’t know about. That none of them knew about. How did a young whore come to be in old, sour faced Morgan’s bed? 

 

“How much is he payin’ you?” He approached Eleanor as soon as Arthur had disappeared into the woods. 

 

“I….I beg your pardon?” The blonde woman's eyes went wide with shock at such a blatant question.

 

“You heard me. How much is Morgan payin’ you?” He had a sickening grin on his face. He made her skin crawl. He chuckled as her cheeks turned bright red. He followed her as she went to the tent she shared with Morgan to gather some clothes to wash. “I’m talkin’ to you, Ellie.”

 

“Please leave me alone and don’t call me ‘Ellie’.” She said softly, pushing past him to join Tilly in doing the morning’s wash. 

 

“C’mon!” He continued following her. She placed the pair’s clothes on the ground next to a wash bucket. “If you’re fuckin’ Morgan, he should be sharing.” He licked his lips. Tilly just sat there, unsure of how to help. “I can show you what a real man feels like.”

 

“MR. BELL.” Ms. Grimshaw’s voice came from behind Eleanor. She had never been happier to hear the stern tone. Eleanor felt  Ms. Grimshaw’s hand on her shoulder, it took all her might not to burst into tears right there. She did not want to give him the satisfaction. “Ain’t you got something better to do?”

 

“Not particularly. Ms. Grimshaw.” He sounded bored, he needed a bear or a bitch to poke.

 

“If you ever come near Miss Beaumont….”

 

“You’ll do what? Put me in time out? Take away my allowance?” He laughed, Susan clenching her jaw. Ms. Grimshaw was strict, but the girls in the camp were her girls. They were the daughters she never had. Like a mother bear would protect her cubs, Ms. Grimshaw would protect her girls. 

 

“You’re insufferable, Mr. Bell. And you’d be wise not to mess with Mr. Morgan’s girl.”

 

“I’ll do whatever I want to Mr. Morgan’s girl .” Eleanor couldn’t stop the tears now, they freely fell as her mind immediately went back to that night almost two months ago. They were going to do whatever they wanted to her, and they did. “Strike a nerve, did I?” He chuckled, Tilly standing up to offer Eleanor a hug.

 

“Why don’t you go bother someone else, Micah?” The woman, about Eleanor’s age was clearly annoyed as Eleanor sobbed into Tilly’s shoulder. Ms. Grimshaw stood toe to toe to Micah, daring him to say something more vile.

 

“Mr. Bell, I must insist. Leave my girls alone. Now, get!” Susan grabbed him by arm and forced him away from Eleanor and Tilly, both of them now on the ground as Eleanor sobbed and Tilly rubbed her back. “Vile man….” She muttered, making sure Micah Bell was far away as he could be before going to the two girls on the ground. She sat behind Eleanor and stroked her head, trying to comfort her.

 

“Don’t listen to him.” Ms. Grimshaw’s voice went from stern to comforting as the two women tried to calm Eleanor down. Susan watched as Mr. Bell went to harass Mrs. Adler only to be thrown against the chuck wagon with a knife to his throat. And camp was so peaceful before he came back. “He’s all bark. We aren’t going to let him hurt you, okay?” Eleanor nodded as she held on tightly to Tilly. So far, she was not liking this day.

 


 

 

What in the world was he doing here. Standing on the porch of the Chadwick Farm farmhouse, he attempted to knock several times. He was still out there alone. There was no way to tell what Mary Gillis wanted after all these years. There was no reason for her to seek him out. Unless….He sighed at the idea. Unless she wanted him to do something that she would have considered below her. If that was the case, it was best to get this over with now and let her know he wasn’t interested. He knocked on the door and was greeted with a gun.

 

“Yes?” A small woman, taller than Eleanor but shorter than the Mary he remembered answered the door. Here went nothing.

 


 

 

It was a fool’s errand Mrs. Linton had sent Arthur on. Fetch her brother from a fucking cult that worshipped fucking turtles. Arthur was mad at himself for letting her talk him into saving poor Jaime Gillis. Granted, he had liked the boy out of all of them, save for Mary of course. He turned out to be a sweet kid with no delusions about how terrible their father was. While he was mad at himself, he was also mad at her. After nearly twenty years, this is what she reached out to him for. He almost wished that she had asked to kill or steal from someone.

 

“There he is.” Arthur said, approaching Mary on the platform of the Valentine railway station. Jaime was quick to hug his sister. Arthur groaned.

 

“Thank you.” She smiled at him, Arthur felt his stomach churn. If he needed any confirmation that he was ready to move on and move forward with Eleanor, this was it. This woman made him feel ill. “If I can do anything to repay you…..”

 

“Actually.” He sighed. This had been the reason he came. This was probably the last chance he would have to recover something of his mother’s: the ring he gave her all those years ago. “I need my ring back.” Mary was clearly taken aback by this. “It was my mama’s and I was okay with lettin’ you keep it for a while. But I need it back now.”

 

“Have...Have you met someone?” That sentence, along with her saying that whats-his-face had passed, made it clear to Arthur what her intentions were.  It was a day Mary had hoped would never come and a day Arthur was happy to embrace. “Of course you have.” She looked down, taking a deep breath as she rummaged through her pocketbook. “Which one of… of the girls is it? Is it that blonde woman?” She was flustered, Arthur could tell this was upsetting to her. “The one with...The one who didn’t look very decent?” She was referring to Karen. Mary must have seen them the day Arthur and Uncle brought most of the girls into town.

 

“No.” Arthur knew how she felt about any of the girls whoever ran with the gang. They tended to be prostitutes before. Abigail had been the last one they picked up. Karen was a loose girl, but he knew for a fact she didn’t sleep with anyone besides Sean. Tilly and Mary-Beth were just thieves, and Molly was a society lady who had fallen for Dutch in a rebellious streak against her father, much like Mary once had. Only Molly fell in love and gave up her world where Mary did not.

 

“You surround yourself with working girls, of course you went and got one pregnant, again.” She slammed her pocketbook shut, venom in her voice as she held out the ring with the little amber colored gem. “I’m sorry.” She conceded as Arthur took the ring and placed it in his satchel, not giving a second thought to the fact that she carried it around the ring with her. “That was uncalled for.”

 

“If I didn’t know any better I’d say you’re jealous, Mrs. Linton.” A smug smile flashed across his face. 

 

“Perhaps I am.”

 

“All aboard!!!” A conductor yelled, the bell of the train ringing.

 

“Look, Mary. I loved you.” He openly admitted, walking with her to her traincar. “But I love Eleanor more.”

 

“So this is goodbye. For good this time?” Arthur nodded, playing the gentleman and helping her step onto the car.

 

“And I am happy to say that, Mrs. Linton. Good luck.” With that he turned away from the train, turning his back on Mary Gillis Linton for the last time.

 


 

 

As dusk settled over The Heartlands, Arthur returned to camp. It had been an easy, quick ride and he was eager to return to the people who accepted him no matter what. He was even more eager to return to the woman he loved and who loved him in return. Thoughts of their future filled his mind during the quiet ride. Thoughts of marriage, thoughts of leaving the gang and starting their own lives. In saying goodbye to Mary and recovering his mother’s ring, he felt freed from the ideas and ghosts of the past. All there was now was getting through the fallout of the Blackwater mess and a possible future with Eleanor Beaumont.

 

“Who’s there!” Lenny called out as Hades and Arthur moved through the forest at a walking pace.

 

“It’s Arthur!” The gunslinger replied as he walked past.

 

“Thank god….” The tone in Lenny’s voice was cause for concern. Arthur brought Hades to stop as he looked down to the young bookworm.

 

“What happened?” Lenny explained what had happened in the camp after he left. He told Arthur about the language Micah had used with Eleanor and what he accused her of. Arthur could only see red as Lenny continued to explain the scene and the aftermath. Micah sauntering off and doing whatever he does while Ms. Grimshaw and Charles held Eleanor’s hand, staying with her and making sure Micah didn’t come near her. Before Lenny could finish, Arthur was racing the small distance into the camp. He was furious.

 

“MICAH.” He called out, dismounting Hades quickly as he trudged into the camp. When he found the bastard, sitting at the round table with Bill, he grabbed him by the collar. “What the hell are doin’?” Micah chuckled, not giving a damn about what Arthur could or couldn’t do to him.

 

“I just want my fair share. We’re brothers, Arthur.” He drew out Arthur’s name. Micah knew it drove the man he considered to be a big dumbass crazy. “Share and share alike, ain’t that right? How much you want for her? Hmm? A dollar.”

 

“She ain’t for sharin’.” Arthur’s voice was low, filled with anger as he threw Micah into the table. The bastard just laughed. 

 

“Oh, c’mon Morgan. Don’t be selfish! It ain’t far that you’re the only one getting pussy.” That sent Arthur over the edge. Arthur was not against calling a spade a spade, especially when it came to working women. But no one talked about the woman he loved like that. Especially not after the hell she went through. He threw a left hook to the side of Micah’s head. He didn’t even watch him go down. 

 

“What was that for?” Dutch asked as Arthur walked past Dutch’s tent to the campfire where he saw Eleanor’s body being cradled by Ms. Grimshaw.  Arthur stopped, huffing with anger and with a wild look in his eyes.

 

“You been here all day, Dutch.” He shook his head, looking to the scene of Eleanor and Ms. Grimshaw. The blonde was paying attention but he could tell she was afraid and Ms. Grimshaw had been her security while he had been dealing with Mary. “Did you hear what he told Eleanor?” His voice was filled with disgust and anger, his heart was filled with regret for leaving her alone when that idiot in the camp. “Callin’ her a whore? Sayin’ he’d have his way with her. You know what she went through, Dutch.” The leader took a moment, stepping closer to Arthur.

 

“I’ll have a talk with him, son.” Dutch patted Arthur on the shoulder. “I know you love her. I know I would be furious if he spoke to Molly like that.” Arthur knew the significance of that. Sure, Dutch loved Molly in his own, warped way. But he wouldn’t move heaven and earth for her. It was only Annabelle for him and every other woman since had been a placeholder until he rejoined her in death. “And I would do the same if it were Annabelle.” Arthur nodded, appreciating that Dutch knew the gravity of the situation.

 

“I’m going to take her into Valentine.” Dutch nodded, approving of the idea. Shaking her hand, he made eye contact with Ms. Grimshaw. He nodded over to his tent and she nodded.

 

“Come on, dear.” The older woman sighed, pulling the poor girl up with her as she stood up. Eleanor had been attached to Ms. Grimshaw since everything transpired. And Susan didn’t mind, a girl was allowed to cry. Eleanor only left Ms. Grimshaw’s side when they were in what Eleanor perceived as a safe spot and Arthur was only a few inches away. Almostly instantly, she was in Arthur’s arms. She was sobbing into him as he wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her back. In the distance, he could hear Dutch getting on Micah’s case and educating him as to how to treat a lady in the camp.

 

“I’m sorry. I’m here now….” He spoke in a soothing tone, almost forgetting that Ms. Grimshaw was there. He looked up for a moment to the matriarch of the Van der Linde gang. “Thank you.” She offered a smile.

 

“We have to protect our girl.” She said simply before excusing herself. The two stood there for a few moments, the sound of Javier singing a Mexican folk song in the background. He let her sob, clench onto him, for as long as she needed to. He simply held her. What else could he do? Of course, besides feel awful that he couldn’t protect her from Micah. He understood that he wouldn’t always be there to protect her. But he didn’t think Micah would show her that amount of disrespect so soon.

 

“We’re gonna stay in Valentine tonight, alright?” He pulled away slightly, curling a finger under her chin so that she would look up to him. She nodded, her lips forming a perfect pout as her brow furrowed.  She released him so that she could gather some things including fresh clothes for the two of them and her satchel of valuables. She removed her coat, placed the satchel across her body, and put the coat back on. She knew Arthur would be there if they were to be robbed, but she didn’t want to give anyone an excuse to try during the short ride. Once she was satisfied with what she collected, the two rode off into Valentine.

 


 

 

The first thing Arthur did after renting out a room for them in the Saints Hotel was to purchase her a bath. He brought their stuff up to their room while she stood in the lobby for the hot water to be brought into their room for the evening. Standing there, all she could think about were the words that Mr. Bell spoke. It sent chills down her spine. The innkeeper watched her, recognizing her from when Arthur brought her in a month ago. She noticed him staring at her and couldn’t help but wonder what he thought of her. Was she just a whore to him too? Without knowing the circumstance of her relationship with Arthur Morgan, did he just assume she was his whore? Did he still assume that Arthur was the one who left those bruises on her.

 

“Miss,” The innkeeper spoke up from his spot behind the desk. He looked concerned. “Do I need to let the sheriff know about your companion?” The question took Eleanor by surprise as she shook her head.

 

“What about him? That he’s here, protecting me from a vile man?” She continued shaking her head. “Wanna send in one of your girls to see that I don’t have bruises anymore? My ‘companion’ is the reason I’m here havin’ this conversation and that my corpse…” She paused, biting her lip to hold back any tears or sobs that threatened to leave her body. Taking a deep breath, she continued, “He’s the reason my corpse isn’t rotting in the woods or bein’ ripped apart by animals. Please, sir, show him respect.”

 

“I apologize, miss.” The innkeeper returned to whatever he had been doing before. When the bath was ready, one of the girls came to collect her and left her to undress in the room. Before Eleanor entered the warm water, she twisted her long hair into a bun. As she entered the hot water, she could feel her muscles relaxing. Especially as she sunk deeper into the water. Leaning her head back, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She was tired, ready to rest. She would have fallen asleep right there if it weren’t for a knock on the door.

 

“Eleanor,” She could hear Arthur’s muffled voice through the door. “May I come in?” It was an indecent request. It was one she should have denied. Any lady would have denied a man entry into a room that should have been private. She wasn’t decent, she was far from. And she shouldn’t have admitted Arthur in. But she would. If only to feel safer.

 

“Mhmmm….” She took a deep breath, sinking her body further into the sudsy water. She knew he was a man and knew what a woman looked like. He had a son before, afterall. And she would be lying if she said that she didn’t imagine what Arthur would be like in a marital bed. Especially as they began to share his cot and she could feel him against her back in the morning. As he came into the room, her cheeks turned a bright red. She noted that he was keeping his eyes to the ground as he placed a clean shift and a shawl to cover herself on a chair. He was being a gentleman, with his suspenders hanging at his sides and the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was a relaxed gentleman. He took the stool that the girls had used while assisting others and set it behind the tub, so that her back was to him, and far enough back so the vantage point didn’t reveal anything she wasn’t willing to do herself.

 

“Are you alright?” The blonde shook her head, a few loose curls following the motion. She revealed her bare shoulder to him and he could admire the rosy pink undertones of her skin. “That was a stupid question.” He muttered to himself, rolling his eyes. He would kick himself if he could. He looked at her with sympathy as her tiny hand ran over her shoulder. He could tell that was covering herself, her hand moving from her shoulder to the middle part of her upper arm. “If you want I can….”

 

“Stay. Please.” It was the first he heard her talk since he left camp earlier that day. She looked over her shoulder to confirm that he wasn’t moving. He caught her eye and nodded. He would gladly do anything she asked of him. 

 

“Whatever you want, darlin’.” He nodded once more, daring to touch her left shoulder. He expected her to flinch, but she stayed still. She allowed him to rest his bare hand on her bare shoulder. There was a thrill to it. Something he never expected to feel again. And it was something she never felt but was glad to be now. Arthur moved his hand, turning it so his knuckles could graze the skin of her shoulder. He then moved from the stool so that he could kneel behind the tub, allowing his hand to glide down her arm to the point where it disappeared below the sudsy water and back up to the crown of her shoulder. Eleanor took a deep breath, enjoying the relaxing feeling of his movements. She sighed as he repeated the motion. 

 

“May I?” He asked, his voice low as he allowed his hand to dip just below the surface of the water, grazing her elbow in the process. Eleanor nodded, bringing her left hand out of the water and resting it on the edge of the tub. He continued the motion, careful to skip the scar on her wrist. He wanted to relax her, not remind her of the bad things that happened. She watched as he so delicately grazed her skin.

 

Arthur grabbed a washcloth from the tray that was laying across the tub and tipped it into the water. Ever so gently, he took her hand and ran the linen over her skin. She couldn’t help but smile as he flipped her hand over and ran the cloth along her palm. He studied every detail of her palm. From the lines that some claimed told the future (Arthur thought it was all bunk) to the delicate way her fingers curled when her hand was relaxed. She had the hands of someone who had worked and someone who had burned while cooking. He dipped the cloth into the water once more before running it along her arm. There, he studied each freckle that was typically hidden from him under a layer of  fabric from her shirts and her coat.

 

Eleanor watched the blond man with a sense of awe as he moved from one side to another. The actions were the same. He was slow and methodical as he ran the cloth over her skin, removing the dirt of Horseshoe Overlook from her skin. He was gentler still as he washed the scar on her wrist in an attempt not to hurt her. She was so thankful for Arthur Morgan. There couldn’t be words to describe how thankful she was. She could say thank you a thousand times over and it wouldn’t be enough. As he moved to her back, she leaned forward, bringing her knees to her chest. A shiver ran down her spine as he moved the cloth over it. She was enjoying this.

 

Eleanor was leaning her head on her knees as Arthur finished, he moved to the side of the bathtub and leaned his body against it. He looked up to Eleanor, a soft smile on his face as he admired her natural beauty.  From the stunning green of her large, round eyes to the perfect way her nose sat on her face and the way it tipped upwards ever so slightly, and, finally, to those full lips he had loved kissing so much. To him, she was angelic, almost too perfect for words. She would chastise him if she knew what he was thinking, but in that moment he didn’t understand how this beautiful, strong, and kind woman could love an old, ugly bastard like himself. For whatever reason though, he was thankful.

 

“You should go upstairs. I’ll be up in a minute.” She spoke softly, feeling more exposed by the minute.

 

“You sure?” He gave her a concerned look that caused her to smile. She was lucky to have him.

 

“Yes. Go.” She laughed gently, watching him as he stood up. He was kind enough to grab her dirty clothes before he left the room. When he was gone, she undid the bun on her head and gave her hair a quick wash with the soap provided by the inn. When she was set, she braided her hair, tying the end with her bit of string that would need replacing soon, and put her shift over her body, the white fabric clinging to the still wet spots on her body. If Arthur hadn’t just sat next to her while she laid nude in a bathtub, her cheeks would have been bright red. Wrapping the shawl around her, she left the room and retired to the room Arthur had rented for them for the night.

 

“We are going to cause quite the scandal Mr. Morgan.” She whispered as not to disturb anyone else who may be seeking sleep at the inn. She closed the door behind her, suddenly feeling more exposed than she had in the bath. It was an oddly domestic scene. There was fire roaring in the fireplace and Arthur sat in the bed while he sketched in his journal with the aid of a kerosene lamp. She was almost certain he didn’t take notice of her. The fact caused her to smile as she turned to lock the door. She tiptoed over to the bed, a very welcomed luxury, and removed her shawl before crawling under the sheets. She looked to Arthur as he sketched. He was an easy man to admire. For all his talk of being an ugly bastard, he was quite a handsome man. A fact that she made known to him several times now. In this moment though, she could admire how he looked when he was concentrating. And shirtless. She supposed it didn’t matter now. But her cheeks still burned as she looked over the body next to her. She knew he was broad chested and lean, she knew the coloring of his chest hair but what she didn’t know was the trail of body hair that went down the center of his body and disappeared where his drawers began. Her blush deepened as she swallowed nervously.

 

Arthur felt the weight shift in the bed, but he was concentrating on this sketch of a man he had met between Strawberry and the camp. It was a man by the name of Albert Mason. He was strange, to say the least. He was trying to photograph nature and a coyote grabbed a bag he filled with meat. Arthur had helped him get it back. All in all, it was a strange interaction with a strange man. He was a nice man though, which was something Arthur hadn’t seen much of in this world. 

 

“I wonder what you put in there sometimes.” Eleanor’s sweet, southern voice brought him out of his artistic daze. He took a deep breath, closing the journal before putting it in his satchel on the nightstand. This was strange. Another moment of domestication in his life he wasn’t too sure he minded. It had been months since he slept in a bed, longer still since he slept in one with a woman. This was one of the moments in recent weeks where he had to remind himself that if he hadn’t chosen this lifestyle, Eleanor would not be here next time, that he wouldn’t be happy. With every day that passed, it became harder to not imagine Eleanor in his life. It had only been a month with her in life, but he couldn’t imagine a future without her in it. If he even made it a future.

 

“Recently, it's a lot of you.” He chuckled, placing an arm around her. This was new. He had never confidently put his arm around a woman. With Eleanor, like everything, it was easy. 

 

“I’m flattered….I think.” She smiled, nestling into him as they stared into the fire. This is what she had wanted. A strong man next to her, making her laugh and smile, making her forget all the bad that happened during the day, and someone to be her partner.

 

“You should be.” He kissed the top of her head, as their free hands found each other and laced together. “This is nice.” He sighed, leaning his head on hers.

 

“It is.” She agreed, painfully aware of the heat his body was giving off. She loved it. A part of her, a very large part currently, wished they wouldn’t have to go back to the camp; that they could just go off and live in domestic bliss. She was willing to sacrifice that want for Arthur’s need to be with his family though. As long as he felt like he belonged there, she would be there with him. She wouldn’t have a need for a house as long as her home was always with her. 

 

Yawning, Eleanor pulled away from the embrace only so that she could lay down completely. For the first time in two months, she was in a bed and she had a pillow. This was a luxury. Arthur followed, laying on his side while she took full advantage of the additional space by laying on her back. She yawned once more, closing her eyes as Arthur placed a protective arm over her stomach. Arthur leaned down and kissed her goodnight on those perfect lips he loved so much. After the day’s interactions, he was thankful that he was falling asleep next to Eleanor and not anyone else. This was what he wanted. Now, he just needed to figure out how to get it.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

June 17, 1899

 

Turns out Marston’s been working on what Mary-Beth found. The information was good and John’s plan is good. Shoulda let the wolves take all his brains. I went up to Cornwall’s refinery and stole an oil carriage. Now we wait for the train to come through. Should be a nice haul. Here’s hopin’ for the best.


June 18, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, New Hanover

 

Life had fallen into a routine for Eleanor. Over the course of the last month and ten days, this place had become a home and these people, for the most part, had become family. She had been happy on the occasions that she woke up before Arthur. She thought it was the only time he would have peace during the day. On the days he woke up before her and left camp, there would be a wildflower on the table next to the picture of his mother for her. It served as a promise that he would be back for her and that she wouldn’t be alone. Last night, Arthur hadn’t made it back to camp before she went to sleep. He had been working on his plan with John. While Eleanor hated the idea of not knowing whether or not he would make it back that night, she kept watch Dutch had reminded her to do in mind. All she needed was some faith. And she had faith in strides when it came to Arthur.

 

Eleanor was thankful that Dutch had been warming up to her in recent weeks. The young blonde woman carved approval from both of the father figures in Arthur’s life. Hosea, seemingly, was easy to win over. She was making Arthur happy and she was taking care of him. It was something Hosea had always  been concerned about. Especially with the deaths of Eliza and Issac. When that happened, Hosea thought that Arthur would just become this piece of stone who was cold and unfeeling. Thankfully, he hadn’t. He just didn’t let anyone save for little Jack. That boy had Uncle Arthur wrapped around his finger the moment Abigail brought the child into the world. And now, there was Eleanor. Athur still sulked around, but he would never show that around Eleanor. The world could be crashing down around them all and Hosea was sure that he would be holding her and rose tinting the end of days.  Hosea would have done the same for Bessie.

 

Dutch, on the other hand, was reluctant. He was unsure if the girl Arthur, John, and Charles had rescued from certain death would prove to be much more than another mouth when they were already struggling. Like Mrs. Adler though, Eleanor made herself indispensable. Not only did she do the chores Susan Grimshaw had given her, she also was a distraction for Jack. She would never be a gun woman like Karen or a thief like Tilly and Mary-Beth. Eleanor wouldn’t be able to do a job, kill when needed, or take what she needed to survive, but she was domestic with a good heart and a strong will. Perhaps, some day, he would be able to entice her into getting to know people around town and garnish some useful information from them. Dutch would have to test the limits of Arthur’s protection some day. All in all though, he liked the girl and appreciated the additional feminine touch around the camp. Eleanor Beaumont was a fixture in the camp and a newly minted Daughter of Dutch.

 

Yes, life was good in that camp. Eleanor would even argue that it was pretty normal. Sure, most of them were outlaws but that did not define who they were as people. It was just a card life had dealt them. And Eleanor was happy to be sitting among them. And today was no different. As she finished her morning routine, she joined Abigail at the tent she shared with Jack to work on knitting a blanket for John, work on a plan for a sweater for Jack, and so Eleanor could mend, yet another, bullet grazed shirt.

 

“You have no idea how thankful I am for ya, Elle.” Abigail was grabbing the indigo yarn John had gotten for her in town the previous day as Eleanor sat on Jack’s bed roll. The two were becoming close friends with how much time they spent in the camp together. And Eleanor was always happy to keep an eye on Jack so Abigail could get just a few moments alone. “Everyone’s kind and all, save for Micah.” Eleanor rolled her eyes, threading a needle with a thread that would match Arthur’s shirt. “But Jack’s really takin’ to you and with you and Arthur….Maybe…” She sighed, picking up her knitting project where it left off. “Maybe he’ll see what love’s really like.” There was a sad tone to her voice that Eleanor couldn’t ignore.

 

“John loves you.” The blonde offered, stitching the fabric. “Arthur told me about everythin’ and….he has to love you. And Jack.”

 

“He’s always accusin’ me of Jack bein’ Arthur’s….” She sighed, looping the yarn around the knitting needle before pulling through. “He ain’t!’ She looked up to Eleanor quickly, only to see her smiling and nodding. 

 

“I know. I think he would’ve been too proud to be a daddy again.” Eleanor's smile turned soft, her heart always breaking at the idea that he had a son who had been murdered. “Probably would have married you.” Abigail laughed, shaking her head. 

 

“I couldn’t imagine.” She continued laughing as she placed a knitting needle down to grasp Eleanor’s hand that held his shirt. “‘Sides, he’s got you now. You two are just the sweetest.” She gave Eleanor’s hand a squeeze before returning to her project.

 

“Eleanor,” The blonde looked up from her project to Abigail. “Can I ask you a favor?”

 

“Of course.” Abigail was finishing a row, placing her knit down to shake her hands.

“Can you and Arthur do somethin’ with the boy? I...I feel bad that he’s cooped up here. He ain’t done anything fun for sometime.” Eleanor could tell that she felt uncomfortable asking the question. But she felt honored that she would trust her most precious thing to her.

 

“You ain’t gotta ask twice.” She smiled brightly, happy to spend time with her two favorite boys and for any excuse to leave the camp. “We’ll take him fishin’ or somethin’.”

 

“I think he’d like that.” Abigail nodded, picking her needles back up. “Hosea made him a pole before everything. Ain’t had a chance to use it and John...well….He’s useless.” She laughed sadly, shaking her head. 

 

“It’s fine, Abigail.” Eleanor reassured, tying off the thread before biting it off. “It’s amazin’ he’s still alive.” She sighed, shaking her head. “It’s amazin’ that any of them are.” She laughed gently, folding the shirt.

 

“Ain’t that the truth of it.” Abigail nodded in agreement as Eleanor pushed herself up and placed the shirt over her arm. “Thank you, Elle.”

 

“Think nothing of it.” The blonde smiled kindly before going back to her tent. Arthur was up now, Eleanor watched with a smile as he sketched something in his journal. He scratched the scruff on his jaw, pencil in hand, as he seemed to contemplate his next move. To Eleanor, he was simply complex. He was this gunslinging, outlaw who made the papers, he was tough when he needed to be, but his soul was gentle. He was an artist, a deep thinker who just didn’t want to be restrained by the yoke of convention. Like most artists, he wanted freedom. Complex on the surface but a simple creature deep down, like most people.

 

“Mornin’, Mr. Morgan.” Eleanor smiled gently, sitting herself on the edge of the cot. The blond looked up at her from his leather bound journal and offered her a smile.

 

“Miss Beaumont.” She smiled, moving a bit closer. Arthur raised an eyebrow, watching as she inched closer. There was a mischievous look to her. “What do you want.”

 

“Abigail was wonderin’ if we could take Jack and do somethin’ with him.” Arthur groaned, but Eleanor knew he couldn’t say no to anything regarding the young Marston boy.

 

“We ain’t nursemaids to the boy.” He pointed out, returning to his sketch. Eleanor laughed softly, patting his calf. 

 

“Should I go collect him?” Arthur sighed, looking from his journal to her. On one hand, he had to get in the mindset to rob the train tonight. On the other, it could be a bit relaxing, just spending time with the boy and his girl. 

 

“Can I at least know what we’re doin’?” He set his pencil inside the journal before putting it in his satchel.

 

“We’re goin’ fishin’.” She smiled as she leaned in to give him a quick peck. When she pulled away, he grabbed Eleanor by the waist and pulled her in for another, deeper kiss. Like two fools in love, they both smiled into the show of affection. He was the first one to break the kiss before kissing the tip of her nose.

 

“Go grab him.” Eleanor nodded, removing herself from the cot. She knew where she could find the young boy. He was almost always playing by a patch of flowers, whether it be with toy soldiers or making something from the flowers, that was his spot. Eleanor smiled brightly, kneeling down and sitting on her ankles across from Jack’s spot.

 

“Hi, Aunt Ellie.” The boy seemed sad. Not that Eleanor could blame him if he were. This life could not have been easy on a kid. He couldn’t have friends, only his aunts and uncles. 

 

“Hey, Uncle Arthur and I had a question for you.” This perked the four year old perked up his head from the drawing he was making on the ground with his stick. “Wanna go fishin’?” 

 

“Fishing?” His little eyes went wide with excitement, causing Eleanor to laugh as she nodded.

 

“Yeah, fishing!” She giggled as the four year old shot up. “Go get pole.” She nodded towards his tent with a laugh. He dashed off like a bullet to get his pole as Eleanor pushed herself up, following the little one.

 

“Momma!” He sounded so excited. It warmed Eleanor’s heart. 

 

“Yes, Jack?” And Abigail was such a good mother. Jack was lucky to have her. 

 

“Uncle Arthur and Aunt Eillie are takin’ me fishin’!” His brown eyes were so bright. Abigail feigned surprise.

 

“Ain’t that nice of them! Make sure you behave, alright?” The little boy nodded, giving his mother a kiss before toddling over to Eleanor with his fishing pole in hand. 

 

“Want me to carry that for you?” He nodded, allowing Eleanor to take the pole and his hand. They made their way to Arthur who was giving Hades a pat down. “Why don’t we walk?” She asked with a shrug, looking between the boy and the man. “It’s a perfect day for it.”

 

“Sure.” Arthur nodded, looking for Eleanor to Jack. “Ready to earn your keep?” The little boy nodded, Arthur leaning his own fishing pole against his shoulder. “Well then, lets go catch us some fish!”

 

“Yeah!” The little boy smiled brightly, swinging Eleanor’s hand. Arthur held his arm out, leading the two towards the path out of the clearing. Before they left the woods, Arthur went ahead to make sure no one was on the path. As it was a relatively quiet area far off of the main road, they were in the clear. Jack didn’t waste a moment before he was asking questions, like a curious child should.

 

“Where are we going?” He asked, still happily swinging Eleanor’s hand as they walked.

 

“Just down by the river.” Arthur answered, allowing Jack to take his hand. “We shouldn’t go too far from camp.” It was true, especially with a child. It just didn’t make sense to go terribly far. If it started raining or something else happened, at least they were close by. The little boy nodded as if he understood.”You feelin’ better?” The man looked to the boy as they turned down the path to head to the river. “I know you was a little sick.”

 

“Oh. I’m fine.” The little one shrugged, causing Eleanor to giggle. He was so nonchalant. She supposed he would have to be in order to grow up in this life.

 

“Well, I’m glad you are.” She smiled down to the kid. “Or else we wouldn’t be having this adventure.”

 

“He’s a brave kid.” Arthur smiled, looking from the boy to the woman. It was clear to Eleanor before this moment that he had nothing but love for John and Abigail’s son. This conversation was rather endearing though. It did make her wonder what his days with Isaac were like though. What was Arthur Morgan like with his own child? And what would he be like if he were to father children again.

 

“Just like you!” Jack looked up to Arthur, tugging on his arm. Arthur chuckled.

 

“He’s the bravest man I know.” She smiled at Arthur, catching his eye as the sound of the rushing Dakota river got closer.

 

“Heh.” The man chuckled. “I don’t know ‘bout all that. Definitely ain’t a kid anymore. Though,” He looked to Eleanor with a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes. “Your momma and Aunt Ellie might disagree.” Eleanor laughed brightly, tossing her head back as she did so. 

 

“Your Uncle Arthur is a child and do not let him tell you otherwise!” She was quick to respond, still laughing. The little boy looked at the adults, clearly confused.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I’m just talkin’ silly.” Uncle Arthur replied with a chuckle. “Did you know….Aunt Ellie has never seen snow.” The boy’s eyes widened as his jaw dropped. He looked to the blonde woman who was nodding, an exaggerated sadness on her face.

“Never seen it.” She shrugged. “My daddy told me all about it though. He said it snows every winter where he was from.”

 

“I like the snow.” Jack said, looking ahead as they walked along the river.

 

“Not like the snow up in the mountains though.” Arthur amended as Jack shook his head. “That was...that was rough.”  Arthur looked over the river, looking to see if there was any activity in the water. The spot near to them wasn’t a good spot. But there seemed to be a few fish jumping up ahead. That’s where they would stop.

 

“Uncle Arthur?” Jack looked up to the man.

 

“Yes, Jack?” The man kept his eyes up ahead scouting for fish. 

 

“Are you going to marry Aunt Ellie?” At that question, Eleanor’s eyes went wide and her cheeks turned bright right. Arthur stammered, unsure of how to answer. Why did kids have to ask so many damned questions. “Momma says you two are in love.”

 

“We, uh, ain’t discussed it.” Truth be told, Arthur thought it was all too new after so long without feeling amorous love. And he was sure, she felt the same. He wasn’t even courting her, technically at least. He looked over to Eleanor who was red as an apple. He wondered what she thought of the notion of marriage. She was willing to do it once. Would she be willing to do that with him?

 

“I think you should. She’s mighty pretty! You should marry someone who’s pretty.” The boy nodded, a small smile playing on Eleanor’s lips.

 

“Well, it isn’t all about looks.” Eleanor said softly, trying to avoid Arthur’s gaze. She was sure they were heading to the chapel, eventually. But, as Arthur said, it wasn’t something they had discussed. Her previous courtship, and subsequent engagement, had been on the lengthier side of the whole ordeal. It was unusual, from her understanding. She grew up with girls marrying men within a couple of weeks of courting. They always mused about how they just knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with their husbands. It wasn’t a feeling Eleanor knew until she was faced with the idea of never seeing Arthur again. When he attempted to take her home, her heart broke at knowing she’d never see him again. Now, she definitely couldn’t imagine her life without him nor did she want to. 

 

“You gotta make sure you love the person.” She continued, feeling her stomach fill with butterflies. “That she’s the first person you think about in the morning, and the last person you think about at night.” Which, she did. Arthur was always her first and last thought. “And you gotta be able to trust and work with the person.” Jack nodded, not really understanding. “The person you marry should make you the happiest person in the world while being the most annoying.” She laughed gently, her normal coloring returning to her face.

“Yeah…” Arthur nodded in agreement. “I ain’t ever done it, but… She needs to be your best friend. You have to accept each other, the good and the bad.”

 

“Is Uncle Arthur your best friend, Aunt Ellie?” Jack looked to Eleanor as Arthur led them closer to the river. She didn’t have to think about it.

 

“He is.” She smiled up to Arthur.

 

“Then you should be married.” Arthur chuckled at Jack’s observation.

 

“It ain’t as easy as all that.” Arthur said, Eleanor nodded in agreement. 

 

“It should be.” Jack announced, noticing that Arthur had stopped walking. “Are we there?”

 

“This seems as good a spot as any.” Arthur nodded, letting go of the boy’s hand as Eleanor handed him his pole as Arthur put his together. Arthur took over from that point while Eleanor took a seat on a nearby boulder. For the first time in months, she removed her coat and rolled up her sleeves. It was nice to feel the sun on her skin once more. Like a plant, she turned her body so that she could absorb as much sun as she could.

 

“We need some bait….I’m going to use some cheese.” Arthur informed Jack, his reaction causing Eleanor to laugh. She moved her hand to cover her face so she could better watch the two. As she watched Arthur teach Jack how to fish, she couldn’t help but wonder what their children would be like. If he did want to marry her and have more children, that was. She imagined that they would be blond haired and light eyes, their sons would be tall and broad while their daughters would (hopefully) be taller than she was, and their father would be the best. A small smile came on her face as the hard, rough, bad man continued to be a good teacher to the little Marston. She tilted her head to the side as Arthur praised Jack’s ability to cast his line. Her heart skipped a beat as she truly realized how good of a father Arthur was. 

 

Eleanor watched as the education continued as Arthur got a bite on the line. While the fish fought, he continued to teach Jack about the most exciting part of fishing. It was a small fish that he had caught and subsequently threw back, instilling in the boy that you had to let the smaller fish grow. But that was when little Jack decided he was done with fishing and wanted to make something. Arthur’s response further proved to Eleanor that he was a good father. He didn’t force Jack to stay at the edge of the shore and learn, he allowed the kid to be a kid. Jack took care to place his pole out of the way before going off to find some red flowers nearby. Even though Eleanor was there, Arthur moved as Jack did and made sure he knew where the child always was. Content with Jack's location, Arthur began to fish again. Eleanor watched as Jack picked the flowers and then moved to sit near where Arthur was on the shore. She moved closer as well, curious as to what Jack was going to make.

 

“You like fishin’?” She asked with a smile, kneeling down as Jack began to pull the leaves from the stems.

 

“Fishing’s boring.” The little boy said, causing Arthur to chuckle.

 

“Borin’ as hell.” He agreed.

 

“But….Good.” Eleanor nodded, looking between the two. “‘Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ That’s what my papa always said. He may have been a farmer but he liked his salmon.” She wrinkled her nose, smiling as Jack began to chain the flowers together. “What are you making?”

 

“A necklace!” The boy held up the product with a bright smile. Arthur looked over his shoulder, bringing his line in before dismantling his pole.

 

“A necklace?” He asked, walking over to the two.

 

“Mmhmm! For Momma!” He was so proud. Eleanor tousled his hair. She was happy that they could bring the boy out and give him a break from the day to day in the camp. Or, at least she was.

 

“What a fine young man,” A voice broke into the conversation about Abigail’s new necklace. Eleanor looked over and saw a tall, imposing man dismount his horse. “And in such a complex  situation.” Unsure of what to do, she instinctively wrapped her arms around Jack while keeping an eye on the man and his partner. As the partner cocked his gun, Eleanor’s heart began racing. She wanted to scream, panic, anything. But she didn’t want to frighten Jack more than he probably already was.

 

“Didn’t know you had a wife, Mr. Morgan. And I thought I knew everything about you.” He chuckled, Arthur stepping between the men and the two. “Orphaned, Picked up by Dutch Van der Linde. Typical case, but I must have missed this.”

 

“Leave her out of this.” Arthur’s voice was in the low, threatening tone that she had only heard a few times. The men took a step closer as the taller one introduced themselves as agents of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Jack tried to pull out of her arms slightly to see better what was happening, Eleanor just held him tighter. The two men went back and forth, Eleanor realizing how wanted Arthur was. Perhaps a sane woman would have ran then and there. The man she loved had a price on his head of five thousand dollars. But she was going to stay put. Her loyalties were with him now and she knew him far better than these men who had labeled him a degenerate murderer. She continued to watch though, fear building up in her. What was she going to do if that man, that Mr. Ross opened fire on them. 

 

“You’re hurting me, Aunt Ellie.” Jack, thankfully, whispered. She hadn’t realized the grip she had on the boy. But she was scared and nervous that something bad was about to happen. She did release him slightly, but not enough for him to wiggle free.

 

“If something happens.” She whispered against his head as Mr. Milton propositioned Arthur with his freedom in exchange for Dutch. “If something happens, run. Go to the woods.” She felt the little boy nod as Mr. Milton went on to talk about Mac Callander. Eleanor had heard stories about him and his demise. Eleanor moved her hand to cover Jack’s ear as she pushed his head against her chest. He may have been the son of an outlaw and raised by them, but he didn’t need to hear this. The talk caused Arthur to become angry, slamming his pole to the ground. Jack became startled, wrapping his arms around Eleanor’s neck as he hid his face. She rubbed his back lovingly, tears now freely rolling down her cheek.

 

As the exchange escalated, Eleanor’s eyes moved quickly between Arthur and and the barrel of Mr. Ross’s gun. One wrong move and it was over. Her breathing quickened as she hugged Jack closer, praying that they wouldn’t be covered in the brain matter of Arthur Morgan and taken by these men. Just as quickly as it escalated, it was over. The agents retreating to their horses.

 

“Enjoy your fishing kid,” Mr. Ross said, looking over his shoulder as Eleanor slowly let go of Jack. She was prepared to pull him back, however, if needed. “While you still can.” As the men began to ride away, Eleanor leaned forward and placed her hand on her chest. Breathing deeply, she wiped away the tears from her face.

 

“Who were they?” Young Jack asked, pointing to the men as he stepped in front of Arthur to look at the men who were riding off. Arthur placed a hand on the little boy’s head to direct him back towards Eleanor and away from those men. 

 

“No one to worry about….” He sighed, making sure the men were getting further and further away. “No one at all. Go, gather your thing.” As Jack did what he was told, Arthur went to Eleanor and knelt in front of her. “C’mon. We gotta go.” She had the look in her eyes she got when she was frightened. It wasn’t a usual expression, but Arthur knew it. It was the expression she wore while she got used to the camp and the same one she had when Micah harassed her. What was he doing to this poor girl by bringing her into this life? He grabbed her gently by the elbow to bring her up. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. “We gotta get the boy back.” He whispered to her honey hair. She nodded, pushing herself away and going to Jack. She picked him up, placing him on her hips before they started the walk back. 

 

“What horrible men.” She said as they walked along the path. Now, with the threat of those “agents”, the walk seemed longer. 

 

“Why did you lie about where uncle Dutch is?” The boy asked, Eleanor looking to him as she ran her hands through his brown hair. This poor boy. As Arthur explained the disagreeable men and wanting to protect Dutch, Eleanor had a second thought about the children she could potentially give Arthur. Would this be their life? Would they grow up in the bubble of a camp only to have that bubble burst by two disagreeable men. As Jack continued his line of questioning, Eleanor did have to admire how Arthur attempted to keep that bubble intact. She switched Jack to her other side so he could have a better conversation with Arthur and not crane his neck to see his uncle. Arthur was still attempting to give Jack as normal of a childhood as the gang could. That was something, she supposed. As Arthur spoke of protecting Jack, he motioned to take the child to give her some relief. Jack was a light child, but Eleanor was not strong. 

 

“We’ll protect you.” She reassured, touching Jack’s back as he climbed on to Arthur’s.  “You never have to worry about that.” She smiled kindly despite her own fear of what had just transpired. “You still have the necklace for your momma? Right?” Jack nodded, resting his chin on Arthur’s shoulder.  Eleanor thought for a moment, going through her brain for the French words for flower and necklace. “ Collier fleur. That’s what that is.” She laughed gently.

 

“A cauliflower?” Arthur questioned, a smirk on his face. She would admit that it did sound like a vegetable. “See, Jack, you learn your vegetables, you learn French!” Jack pulled a face suggesting that he did not enjoy his vegetables. “Carrot. Eggplant. I’m speakin’ French!”

 

“Carrot is carrote .” Eleanor laughed brightly, acknowledging the similarity in the language. But eggplant is aubergine . I didn’t know that’s what that was until some Braithewaites teased me about it. Got called a frog like my papa.” Jack looked at Eleanor confused.

 

“You don’t look like a frog.” 

 

“Nah, she’s a pretty frog. Prettiest frog in the pond, if you ask me.” Arthur offered, causing Eleanor to blush. Jack was still confused as to why his Aunt Ellie would be called a frog.

 

“It weren’t a nice term. I don’t know why. Might be because we eat ‘em.” She shrugged as they began the trek up the hill.

 

“You eat frogs!?” Jack looked to Eleanor, his brown eyes wide.

 

“I don’t. My papa did though. He would fry ‘em up. Said it tasted like chicken.” She smiled at the memory of her father eating the legs while the ladies of the family ate whatever else they had prepared that day for supper. “I never tried them though. What do you think, Uncle Arthur? Should we go frog huntin’ one day?”

 

“Ain’t Pierson’s food bad enough?” The couple shared a laugh as they turned into the wood area of the camp.

 

“It ain’t that bad….Sometimes.” The laughter continued until they reached where the horses grazed. Abigail had been waiting for them, excited to see her boy back.

 

“Mama!” The little one said as Eleanor removed him from Arthur’s back. He immediately ran to his mother and hugged her legs. “We caught a fish! And I made you this!” He held out the necklace of flowers which Abigail gladly took.

 

“Ain’t I the luckiest!” She said looking to the pair, the laughter had subsided into a sense of tension. The laughter and the joking had been for the sake of Jack, but the two knew trouble was ahead. “What’s wrong?” Abigail asked as Jack went off to put his pole away. Arthur shook his head, deciding to protect Abigail as he had protected Jack.

 

“Nothin’....We just met some folk. We gotta talk to Dutch.” Eleanor could tell that this was a conversation Arthur didn’t want to have, but it needed to be done. Those men were clearly dangerous to their way of life.

 

“Okay…” Abigail spoke with concern in her voice. She looked to Eleanor before going off to hear Jack’s version of the events.  Arthur nodded towards Dutch’s tent, telling Eleanor to follow him with the movement. 

 

“We got a problem.” Arthur said as they entered Dutch’s tent. Eleanor could sense that Dutch wasn’t sure what was about to happen as the couple stormed into the tent.

 

“What?” Eleanor detected a hint of annoyance in his voice. Clearly, they had interrupted a good part of the book he was reading.

 

“We just met some guys down by the river.” Arthur said as she looked down at her fingertips as Arthur told Dutch about the men, that they were agents of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and that they were after Dutch. “They offered me my freedom in exchange for you, they did.” Dutch stepped out of the tent, looking around at all he had built. The family he had brought together and it could have gone sooner rather than later. Dutch wouldn’t be holding the power any more. And, for a brief moment, he didn’t. Arthur Morgan and Eleanor Beaumont did. Who would have thought that his fate laid in the hands of his son and this woman.

 

“She tell you to take it?” He looked to Eleanor who was clearly taken aback by the accusation. She thought Dutch had been warming up to her but, in that moment, she doubted it.

 

“Of course not.” She replied. Arthur placed an arm in front of her, creating a barrier between them. “I’m a Van der Linde now and Arthur loves you. Besides, I read the papers. I know you don’t think much of southerners,” She had heard the story of his daddy fighting for the Union and being killed, however her family wouldn’t have come to America until 1870. Her family had nothing to do with that war. “But I ain’t dumb. You think they wouldn’t kill him or string him up once they had you?” She clicked her tongue, shaking her head. “You’re the head of the snake they want gone but they ain’t gonna stop until they made an example of all the outlaws.” Arthur would admit that she had a  point and was thankful that he had enough smarts to not give up Dutch. Not that he would, he was one of the few people who hadn’t left him.

“What do we do?” Arthur sighed, his shoulders falling as he looked to Dutch. The leader paused. Eleanor looked up to Arthur, noting the concern. This was all familiar to him. They had been running for so long and it looked like they could stay here for a while. It looked like that time was coming to a close.

 

“I say we do nothing…..Just yet.” Dutch advanced to the pair, moving to stand by Arthur. Eleanor watched as both men looked over the camp, over their family. “They’re just tryin’ to scare us into doing something stupid.” She looked at Dutch as he spoke about surviving the mountains and how the gang turned a corner. Arthur nodded in agreement. “We need to stay calm.” With that, Dutch walked away. Arthur’s hand found Eleanor’s and gave it a squeeze. She understood. He was worried but he wouldn’t vocalize it. He looked down for a moment, Eleanor admiring the setting sun in his hair as he did.

 

“I’m gonna give the fish to Pierson. Meet me at our rock?”Eleanor nodded, releasing his hand and going over to the rock near the lip of the ridge. It was the spot where they had first slept together on the night of Sean’s welcome back celebration. Despite everything that had happened to sour the day, Eleanor smiled as her heart skipped a beat. Though it had only been a little over two weeks since they first kissed, it felt like a lifetime had passed. In the best way, she felt like she had known him all her life. She placed her fingertips on her lips as her smile grew brighter. Even though they had shared numerous kisses since the first, that one was what kept replying in her mind. Especially when the butterflies filled her stomach. The taste of tobacco and whiskey had become familiar, but her heart wouldn’t let her forget the first time she tasted him. When he came up behind her, placing a kiss on her cheek, her heart stopped. The smile, however, did not fade.

 

“What are you so happy about?” He asked, taking a seat on the rock and opening up his journal.

 

“I was just rememberin’ our first kiss.” Her smile held as she placed her hand on his cheek. With him sitting on the rock, he came closer to her height. It made it easier for Eleanor to lean in and kiss him softly. Which she did. She would take every opportunity to kiss him. She broke the kiss and grazed the tip of her nose over his. She could feel his face break into a small smile.

 

“As much as I’d like you to stay right here,” He whispered, running his fingers through the ends of her hair. “I also want you to grab your shawl and sit in the flowers.”

 

“Why?” She laughed gently, pulling back as she looked down to him. He held up his journal and pencil. “No….” She shook her head. “I ain’t worth sketchin’, Mr. Morgan. Save your paper for something that is.”

 

“But you are. Now, go on. I gotta train to catch.” He smiled, He could see Eleanor's cheeks turn bright red. Before she could protest, he countered it. “Please.” She sighed with a smile, rolling her eyes before trudging off to grab her shawl. She returned quickly, doing a spin for the artist as she laughed. 

 

“Better?” She asked, sitting in the patch of white flowers as she was previously directed.

 

“Almost.’ He got up from the spot on their rock and knelt beside her in the flowers. He searched for the most perfect flower in the bunch, plucking it with enough of a stem so that it would easily stay behind her ear. Once he placed the flower there, he left his fingers trail over her ear and down her neck. The action gave her goosebumps. “There.” He kept his voice low, sitting back with his legs crossed on the ground. He placed his journal on his lap and looked up to Eleanor who was just staring at him. Her green eyes were illuminated in the setting sun, her rosy pink skin almost looking golden, and…. She was just perfect to Arthur. And he was amazed that she was still there and smiling at him.

 

“How do you want me?” She asked, tugging down on her frilly, white shirt before adjusting the burgundy colored  scarf she said once belonged to her mother.

 

“You’re fine like that.” Eleanor nodded, watching as the artist went to work. She watched as his blue eyes darted between subject and page. She noticed that his lips parted while he was concentrating. It was a trait of her’s he often confessed to enjoying, though it was when she was asleep as opposed to putting an image to paper. That was something she could never do. Eleanor had been a rather plain Jane. Not much in the way of talent, she thought, but she was practical and handy. She wished she had a skill like Arthur’s. Perhaps, she thought, he skill would be more domestic rather than artistic. This scene though, Arthur practicing his skill, was endearing. She couldn’t deny that she was falling in love with him. And she wasn’t going to fight it. Instead, she would embrace it.

 

“Do you regret it?” His blue eyes were trained on the paper of his journal. A piece of his growing blond hair was in his face. Eleanor thought it made him look boyish despite the lines on his face.

 

“Regret what?” She was confused as to what she could possibly regret. Even after today. She had told Arthur that she was mixed up in their life and she had meant it. She wasn’t going anywhere.

 

“Stayin’. You and me?” The sun was going lower into the sky, the artist was losing the light. There was one more thing he wanted to do. “Wait.” He spoke quickly, getting up just as fast. He went to the tent to grab his camera. It left Eleanor with a chance to think about something she already knew she didn’t have to think about. When he came back, he knelt on the ground and adjusted her face so she was looking over to the mountains. The sun illuminating her features perfectly as the wind blew in from the west. Eleanor was confused as to what was happening, but she let it. When he took the quick snapshot, he sat on the ground and looked to her, still waiting for an answer to his question.

 

“Do you think I should?” Her smile had faded. She didn’t have to think about what her response would be. She could never regret this. The circumstances in which they met, she could happily forget. But she could never regret this. 

 

“I dunno.” He sighed, taking his hand into her’s. “It’s a dangerous life...And, after today. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to run.” Everyone else did, why wouldn’t she? Especially after that interaction between the Pinkertons.

 

“What I saw today was a man who loves Jack.” She responded quickly. “A man who is protective and loyal.” She smiled softly, looking up to him as he looked out over the ridge. “You can tell me a thousand times that you’re a bad man. Those men could tell me that I am insane for takin’ up with the likes of you. But I ain’t going anywhere. I….” She bit her lips, looking down at the grass as it blew in the wind. She loved him. She should say it. He was going to rob a train in a few hours and what if it went south? What if this was her last chance to see him before going off to meet their maker? “I’m still going to be here.” She chickened out. Charlotte had instilled in her that it wasn’t proper for a lady to proclaim her love.

 

“I wanna do right by you.” He admitted, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. She happily placed her head on shoulder as they watched the sunset.

 

“Just come back to me.” She kept her voice low as the sun disappeared under the mountains. “Always come back to me.” It was a simple request she knew Arthur couldn’t promise to do. She would have been foolish to think he could control what happened when the law showed up. But that confirmed for Arthur was that she was, in fact, not going anywhere. He ran his hand up and down her arm, lamenting the fact that he would have to leave soon so they could rob the train.

 

“At least tonight.” He promised, holding her close. He kissed the side of her head.

 

“You should get going.” She attempted to pull away but he continued holding her. “You’re gunna miss the train.” She laughed gently. He shrugged in response, he could wait another moment. “Arthur….C’mon.” She attempted to pull away again. This time he let her and she stood up, pulling him up with her. Together, they walked hand in hand to his horse. When they reached Hades, he pulled her in for a hug.

 

“Eleanor….” He whispered to her hair, not wanting to let go despite the job he had to go do.

 

“Yeah?” She pulled back slightly so she could look up to him with a soft smile that would melt his heart every time. He could tell her he loved her. He did. Especially as she looked up with him with that smile and those green eyes filled with light and love.

 

“I’m comin’ back to you.” He couldn’t do it. Those three words have burned him before, and he couldn’t have that happen now. He needed to focus. He pulled away from the embrace and brought her hands to his lips. He placed a kiss on her knuckles before leaning down to kiss her goodbye.

 

“Don’t get killed.” She whispered against his lips as they broke away from each other. He quickly mounted Hades but before he urged the horse to go, he looked down to his love.

 

“I won’t.” He smirked, urging the horse forward. Eleanor watched as he disappeared into the woods, wrapping her arms around her body.

 

“I love you.” She said to herself before turning back to the camp to join her new family in a campfire song.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

June 18, 1899

 

Everything went well. I kept my promise to Eleanor. I came back. John said he had another plan. We’ll see if it’s as good as the last.

 


 

June 19th, 1899

Valentine, New Hanover

 

God dammit, Dutch! This was another fine mess to add to the list of fine messes Dutch Van der Linde had gotten them in the last month. Leviticus Cornwall had found out who had robbed his train well over a month ago, found out where he was, and now the town of Valentine was being bombarded with bullets from Cromwell’s men as the Van der Linde men fought through the town. The only positive Arthur could see was Strauss got a taste of what him and John did every time they went. Though, Arthur was certain they wouldn’t hear the end of the graze he got. So much for being an easy day.

 

A bullet grazed Arthur’s arm for umptenth time in his life. A few months ago, he wouldn’t have cared about dying in a firefight like this. As Dutch and John pushed a cart with Strauss in the back that Arthur used for cover, he thought for a moment that this would be it. It would be Arthur’s last stand and all the struggle would be over. They’d just be more corpses in the ground. But then he thought of Eleanor. He had to worry about her now, he had to keep the promise that he had just made her the night before. He had to come back to her. Arthur had to protect her. Between Micah being Micah, Pinkertons and now Cornwall was after them. As he pushed through, taking down as many men as he could, Arthur vowed to do better by her.

 

In a moment of quiet, near the stable. Arthur moved Strauss from the back of the cart to the back of John’s horse. It was time that they dispersed. It was clear that they were no longer welcomed in Valentine. Mounting Hades, he rode off north while John rode south with Struass and Dutch rode east. There was gunfire behind Arthur, bullets zooming passed him as he rode Hades as hard as he ever had ridden the stallion.

 

“C’mon, boy!” The gunslinger spoke to the horse, urging him to go faster as he shot at some of Cornwall’s men who were chasing him on foot. When they had given up, Arthur continued riding until he reached the Dakota River. Only then would he feel safe. Once he reached the river, he let out a breath he seemed to be holding in. Hindsight being what is, maybe they should have let Colm and his boys take the score and have Cornwall on their backs. The blond brute knelt next to the river, splashing the cool water on his face. Once, not long ago, this life had been simple. They would rob a few banks, hold up some stages, and give some of that money to the poor. How did it become so complicated so quickly? 

 

The blond sighed, letting himself fall to his bottom as he extended a leg. A part of Arthur wanted to blame Micah Bell. Arthur hadn’t been on the ferry that day, but John had told him about Dutch killing that girl, how Micah seemed to urge him on. They weren’t killers. Not like that. That was other gangs, the worst men that they hated. They killed to survive shootouts. Not in cold blood. Another part of Arthur thought that it was just time that the way of the outlaw died. And, until recently, he thought he wanted to die out with it. Arthur would have even been content with the fact. Eleanor changed all that though. He rummaged through his satchel and pulled out his mother’s ring. Holding it between his thumb and his index fingers, he examined the amber stone, set it in the gold band. It would be cruel to propose marriage to another woman with this. Perhaps, it was even bad luck. His mother wore it and she died. Mary wore it and she left him. He would have given it to Eliza if she would have had him, and if he had the ring. Eliza was dead. If he proposed marriage to Eleanor, and he was sure he would at some point, it would not have been with this ring. He wanted her to have this ring though, he wanted her to be Eleanor Henrietta Morgan….His Elle. And he would be her Arthur.

 

Arthur put the ring back in the satchel before reaching into his vest for the pocket watch that once belonged to Eleanor’s father.  It was a beloved object of her’s that she so readily gave him. A small smile came on his face as he looked at the time. It was almost five. It was time to head back to camp and deal with the situations they were in.




June 19th, 1899

Horseshoe Overlook, New Hanover

 

Eleanor was learning to deal with the fact that Arthur was fine. Every time he went out, he wasn’t at risk. It was the reality of her life, that she so willingly chose. If there was trouble, those involved would break off and leave separate with different paths to the camp. This time though, it was different. She could tell. Mr. Strauss was injured, moaning about as Susan Grimshaw attended his graze. Dutch was walking differently, more urgently as he sought out Hosea and they went into Dutch’s tent. Eleanor was quick to seek out John, finding him with Abigail near the campfire.

 

“We were shot at, Abigail!” John said, anger in his voice as he sat down, placing his head in his hands. Eleanor’s eyes went wide. She knew Arthur had been with John this morning. He wasn’t here now though. “Cornwall wants Dutch’s head too!” Eleanor watched as Abigail sat next to John, offering him comfort in the form of whiskey. 

 

“You reckon they know where we are?” Abigail’s voice betrayed her cool exterior. She was worried. More worried than Eleanor had seen her in the last month.

“I dunno.” He shook his head. Eleanor took a seat across from the couple, clutching her mother’s shawl as her mind went through the worst possible scenarios. Arthur could have been laying dead in the streets of Valentine, his body left for the undertaker.

 

“John….” He looked up as Eleanor spoke up, looking at him from across the fire. 

 

“He’s fine. Least, he was when I left.” He reassured, nodding to Eleanor who returned the gesture. She took a deep breath, watching the embers of the fire as she sat and waited. At least she knew that he wasn’t dead in the streets. That was a relief. 

 

“I’m going to start packing.” Eleanor announced as she stood up. She needed to do something to distract herself. Dutch had told them that they had to move sooner rather than later. It would be smart to get a head start on packing. Before she made it to the tent, she saw Arthur’s figure come out of the woods. She inhaled deeply, letting the breath out in a shaky sigh. She thanked the heavens that he was alright. She was about to go to him, greet him like she almost always did when he returned. But then Hosea’s voice, filled with anger,  as he shouted at Dutch about how they became killers. She watched as Arthur disappeared into Dutch’s tent, Hosea fuming as he exited. It would just be another moment Arthur followed in exiting the tent.

 

“Charles, meet me at the horses.” Arthur called out, his eyes searching the camp for Eleanor. It was always quick for him to find her. Not because of the fact that he loved her, but because she was the shortest in camp. Besides Jack, of course. But he also figured that Dutch would be telling everyone to pack up and get ready to move. He went to their tent, where Eleanor was packing the chest with their pillow and carefully placing his photographs in it as well.

 

“We’re moving to Lemoyne.” Arthur said, taking their blanket to help her fold it. 

 

“Oh.” She paused, looking down at the picture of Beatrice Morgan in her hand. Arthur watched as her hands began to shake.

 

“Its….Its gunna be okay.” He watched as she carefully placed the photograph on the side of the chest after wrapping it in her shirt. “I ain’t gunna let anything to you.” He handed her the blanket and watched as she placed it. “Eleanor…”

 

“You can’t promise that, Arthur.” She sighed, shaking her head as she scratched  her left eyebrow. The blonde placed her hands on her hips as she looked down. He closed the distance between them. Arthur placed his hands on her cheeks, lifting her head up so he could kiss her forehead. She offered him a small smile as she placed one of her hands on his. “You need to go.” He nodded, leaning down to give her a quick peck.



“I’m going to find you a new home, Miss Beaumont.” He smiled at her, giving her one more quick peck.

“You better.” She returned the smile. “Go.” She nodded towards the horses and watched as the gunslinger and the native rode off into the woods.


 

June 25th, 1899

Clemens Point, Lemoyne

Early Morning

 

The new camp was not what was expected. But it was very welcomed to everyone except Eleanor. The whole ride between Horseshoe Overlook and Clemens Point, her stomach was uneasy. It had been over a month since she and Arthur went to her home in the Scarlett Meadows area of the state. She had to burn her house down and say goodbye to her father. She thought that, maybe, she would never have to step foot in this god awful state again. Yet here she was, sitting on a log and looking at Flat Iron Lake, Clemens Cove in the distance. The camp was set up and bustling, but Eleanor could not escape her thoughts. This place held many memories for her. And not all good. The only redeeming quality was the warm, humid air she had grown up with. She was the only one who seemed to be used to it. Arthur would soon join her, cup of coffee in hand.

 

“You alright?” He asked, settling next to her as he handed her a cup.

 

“Thank you.” She offered him a smile before taking a sip. She looked out to Clemens Cove, unsure of how to respond. She wasn’t alright. Her former home was just outside these woods and on the other side of the train tracks. The town she left behind was just down the road. “I don’t want to be here.” She admitted, looking at her hands.  “You know what happened last time.” She shook her head as Arthur placed his arm around her for comfort. 

 

“I know.” He confirmed as she placed her head on his shoulder. If he had it his way, Arthur would take her far away from this place. They would be gone together. He couldn’t leave the gang now. There was no way he could do it in good conscience. And, selfishly, he didn’t want to send Eleanor off with the promise of visiting her when he could. The last time he had promised that hadn’t worked out. He wanted to keep Eleanor as close as he could so that she may be protected. 

 

“I think I’ll be fine. I have to be fine.” She was more talking to herself, trying to convince her mind that everything would be alright. She had this family, she had Arthur. Everything could be fine. It had been so far. “I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to go into town.” 

 

“You won’t have to. Just tell me what you need.” He kissed the top of her head as he gave her a gentle squeeze. Finishing his own coffee, he placed the cup on the log. “I have somethin’ for you.” He pulled away slightly, leaving Eleanor confused, as he rummaged through his satchel. He was quick to produce his mother’s ring. 

 

“Now, it ain’t what you think it is.” He definitely wasn’t proposing marriage to her. Not like this. When he was going to do it, he wanted to make it special. Eleanor deserved special. He didn’t have a plan, yet. But he knew it would be something to make her happy. “I, uh….” He could feel his cheeks burning as he fiddled with the ring. “It was my ma’s.” He looked down at the ring, unable to look at Eleanor. He was sure she’d be smiling but he was afraid that she would reject the token of his love. Though he was confident of the fact that they were meant to get married and live a life outside of this gang, there was still a gnawing anxiety that she, like others before her, wouldn’t have him.

 

“Arthur….” She laughed gently. It was the first time she had laughed since she realized they were going to Lemoyne. “Spit it out. Here,” she placed her coffee cup down on the log so she could hold out both of her hands in order to allow Arthur to choose what hand it did go on.

 

“You wanna wear it?” He looked at her with surprise. He shouldn’t have been. Eleanor was so different from any other woman in his life. She was unconditionally kind, never expecting anything from anyone. Everything she did was unconditional. No, that was a lie Her only condition was that he cared for her as she cared for him. It was an easy one to meet.

 

“Of course, silly.” She laughed brightly. Arthur sighed in relief, taking her right hand and placing the ring on her ring finger. She placed her that same hand on his cheek as she leaned up to give him a gentle kiss. “Arthur….” She whispered to his lips as she pulled away, allowing her finger tips to gently drag over his cheek and across his lips. She opened her eyes to his beautiful, blue eyes sparkling in the morning sun.

 

“Eleanor.” He countered, keeping his voice at the same level her’s was. He took her hand and kissed her fingertips before leaving a lingering kiss on the ring. She would have no idea how happy she had made him just by agreeing to just wear it. He thought that she could break the curse.

 

“You make me very happy.” She finished her thought, her cheeks hurting from smiling. She knew that she had only known Arthur for a month and that the circumstances of them meeting were less than ideal. However, not only had they spent everyday together in that month but there was something that pulled her to him. It wasn’t a sense of loyalty to the man who just happened to cut the ropes that tied her to a tree. It was something she couldn’t explain. It was loyalty for the sake of love. It was knowing that no matter what happened, together they would make it through it. It was a very strong, intense feeling that had been scary at first. Though, when they had their first kiss, she knew that, whatever this was, was different. It was something she didn’t need to be afraid of. It was like a bolt of lightning had gone through her and bonded her to this man.  

 

“Glad to hear it, Miss Beaumont.” He returned her smile, lacing his fingers with his. “I think you know that I love you.” He said it so plainly, like it was something they had to each other before. It came naturally, finally. Those three words brought a redness to Eleanor’s cheeks as she nodded, keeping her bottle green eyes on his ocean blue ones.

 

“I love you too.” She replied, not missing a beat. She was happy it was out in the world now. Neither of them could take it back. Not that they would want to. Arthur engulfed her in an embrace, holding her tightly to his body as she wrapped her arms around him. He pulled back slightly, bringing his lips to her’s. He captured her bottom lip with his lips, his teeth grazing her lip gently as he released her from the embrace. He broke the kiss, only to place one on her cheek and then on her neck, right behind her ear. Arthur lingered there for a moment, Eleanor instinctively tilting her head to the opposite side to give him easier access to the sensitive spot.

 

“Oye, English! Get a room, you!” Sean’s brogue broke the trance of the moment. Eleanor could feel her cheeks turn bright red as she hid it in Arthur’s chest. She could feel him chuckle as he rubbed her back.

 

“How ‘bout you mind your own damn business?” Arthur countered, Eleanor’s body shaking as she laughed. She moved back slightly, looking up to Arthur with her bright smile while he looked down to her. He moved a piece of her blonde hair behind her ear, his heart stopping for a moment. He would never get over how beautiful she was, even with her face red from laughter and embarrassment. 

 

“If you ever get tired of English,” Sean continued, approaching the two with jest in his voice. “I can show you what a younger man can do. Treat you like the young lass you are.” Eleanor laughed lightly, pushing the Irishman away. The redhead laughed along with her.

 

“Shouldn’t you be flirtin’ with Karen?” Eleanor pointed out, her eyebrow raised as her smile held. Sean’s face quickly matched his hair in color. “‘Sides, I am perfectly content with ‘English’. Ain’t nothin’ going to change that.” Arthur offered a half smile as her hand found his.

 

“‘Friad you’re outta luck.” Arthur brought Eleanor’s hand to his lips as Sean sat next to her, sandwiching Eleanor between the two outlaws.

 

“Ya know, I haven’t seen Arthur this happy,” Sean paused for a moment, for the sake of drama as he feigned thought, “ever. Ol’, grumpy King Arthur.” The Irishman teased, wrapping his arm around Eleanor, giving Arthur’s shoulder a quick tap in the process. “He was always sulking about, chip on his shoulder and all.” Arthur looked down, a small smile on his face as Eleanor listened intently to the way Sean described Arthur and the affects her presence has had on the outlaw. “A bit a light in the darkness, eh?” He chuckled, removing his arm from Eleanor before standing up.

 

“It’s all gonna work out, Sean.” Arthur reassured, a hint of uncertainty in his voice. Eleanor gave his hand a gentle squeeze. Sean paused for a moment, seemingly in thought, before looking to Arthur with a mischievous smile.

“For Sean MacGuire, it always does!” He chuckled, walking away from the lake and the couple. There were a few moments of comfortable silence, Arthur keeping his arm around Eleanor’s waist as she looked out over the lake to Clemens Cove. The waves lapping onto the shore along with the bustle of the camp behind and the sounds of nature were comforting. Even for Eleanor as her mind replayed moments from the last couple of months. She doubted whether or not she could ever get used to being back here. There was nothing good left for her in Lemoyne and she wouldn’t pretend otherwise. She had to remind herself that she at least had Arthur and that he understood one of the reasons why she would be uncomfortable here, so close to her home. At least there was him.

 

“When I was a kid,” Eleanor said suddenly, breaking the silence between the couple, “The boys would try to prove how manly they were by tryin’ to swim across to the cove.” She laughed gently, unbuttoning the top button of her blouse to relieve some heat from her body. “They’d never make it. Others would take a boat across and try to find the shipwreck.” Joshua Gray was not one of those boys. He and his oldest brother, Beau, weren’t the type to do so. Their brothers were and they had almost drowned when they attempted. Arthur looked down at her as she shared this information from her childhood.

 

“You ever try it?” He asked, fairly certain that she hadn’t. Confirming his notion, she shook her head. Then, he got an idea. “Do you want to?” One of the features of the camp was the dock where the previous inhabitants of the camp had a boat. The dead fellows wouldn’t have needed it, so Arthur kept it around while he was ridding the area of bodies. Now, it could be of good use. Eleanor thought for a moment on the proposition. It would be nice for just the two of them to escape for a day. It always was.

 

“Why not….’ She smiled up to the gunslinger, shrugging her shoulders. “It could be fun, we can make a picnic and try to find the shipwreck.”

 

“Well, Miss Beaumont.” Arthur stood up and extended his hand to her. “Lets go.”

Chapter Text

June 25, 1899

Clemens Cove, Lemoyne

 

The early afternoon sun glimmered on Flat Iron Lake as Arthur paddled Eleanor across the lake in a tiny canoe. It was the perfect afternoon to journey across the water to the island. No one would be around, they would have peace and quiet. For the first time since he attempted to teach her how to shoot, Arthur would have Eleanor all to himself. It would be a moment he would relish.

 

As his oar entered the water, pushing the vessel forward, Arthur admired the flaxen beauty stretched out, the sleeves of her white shirt rolled up to her elbow, the top two buttons undone; her eyes were closed as she turned her face towards the sun. She was like a cat, perfectly content in the warmth of the sun. He moved the oar to the other side, repeating the motion of rowing to keep on the course. His eyes never left her though as he continued to study her with the eyes of an artist. His blue eyes concentrated on her face and the way her long lashes laid on her rosy pink skin as she closed her eyes. His eyes moved down the smooth slope of her nose until it ended with a slight, upturned tip. They then landed on her lips, closed in a content smile. They were full, lucious; they were begging to be kissed and often. Arthur would happily oblige their want any chance he could.

 

There was a part of Arthur that still couldn’t comprehend what she could possibly want with him. If his experiences with Mary and Eliza taught the gunslinger anything, it was that he was only wanted when needed. He supposed much of his relationship with Dutch was similar, at least these days. Arthur was only as good as what he could. But not to Eleanor Beaumont and she had made that abundantly clear. Arthur Morgan, as is, was good enough for the blonde stretched out in the small space of the canoe. He couldn’t help the goofy grin that came across his face at the thought of her willingness to wear something of his. Sure, they had been sharing the same cot for a few weeks now and they were inseparable in the camp. They were careening towards an evitable marriage. Yet he never would have thought that a woman tied to a tree would be the same woman that could potentially give him one of the things he desired most in this world. And he most certainly didn’t think that she would so willingly wear a ring from him. Eleanor Beaumont was his and she was wearing a symbol of that. His heart would have leapt from his chest if it could.

 

“What are you staring at?” She was looking at him with those green eyes that were greener in the sun. It was the first time he noticed the gold specks around her pupil. 

 

“Just admirin’ the view, darlin’.” Her cheeks turned a slight shade of pink. Eleanor should have been used to the compliments Arthur offered her. She, however, was still in a daze of love and gift of admiration. She aimlessly twisted his mother’s ring around her finger as they shared a lingering glaze. Arthur had stopped paddling for a moment, allowing them to drift forward. It was a seemingly perfect moment. She was lost in those beautiful, blue eyes that were framed by the lines. It was a reminder that he was, in fact, older than she was. He had seen hardship, death, he lost a son, and his way of life was fading before his eyes. By no means should she (or any woman) had taken priority in his life. Especially her. She hardly felt like the woman he deserved. At times, she felt like a silly girl with a schoolroom crush. Perhaps that was a benefit to her twenty-two years. Eleanor could feel the love and the desire of a woman but still hold the excitement and rush of the romance. And he loved her. She had presumed that he did on the night they spent in Valentine. When he was so delicate and caring with no expectations of what could follow. To hear the words leave his lips though….It was a rush she never experienced before. Not even with Josha Gray. Arthur Morgan loved her and she loved him. Nothing else really mattered at that moment. Just those two facts.

 

As the front of the canoe connected with the sandy beach of the island, Arthur hopped out. He pulled the canoe further out of the water so Eleanor wouldn’t get her skirts wet as she left the vessel. Grabbing the basket formerly belonging to Edith Downs, she stood up and brought herself onto dry land with the assistance of Arthur. He didn’t remove his hand from her’s as they walked to a shaded, secluded spot not far from the beach but far enough so that they would be out of sight. She placed the basket down, allowing Arthur to help her spread out the blanket.

 

“Is it always this hot?” He complained, undoing another button of his shirt. The action exposed his clavicle, something that was distracting to Eleanor as she took a sip of water from the canteen before placing it back in the basket.

 

“It gets hotter. If we’re here in August, you’ll see.” She giggled, leaning on a tree as she looked at him. She would gladly take a swim in the nude with this man. The blonde sighed softly as she admired Arthur’s form. She had thought of that in Valentine often. It would have been so simple to give herself to him. If he had asked, she would have agreed. She wanted to be his entirely. Occasionally, she wished that he would have taken her that night and made love to her. Eleanor would have been happy to scandalize herself if Arthur was the one doing the scandalizing. 

 

“Ain’t there a ship-” He looked to Eleanor and noticed the lustful gaze in her eyes. Many a women had those eyes at him, usually they would make a mention of money or a promise of a good time. Arthur was never interested. Especially after the death of Isaac. He wasn’t willing to go through that again unless it was with someone he loved and who loved him in return. He never thought that would be something that would happen. He thought he was too old and too ugly for any woman to ever truly want him without the attachment of a monetary amount for their temporary love. The gaze, in this case, made him blush. He knew when this particular woman decided that she would have him, he wouldn’t fight it. Instead, he would welcome it.

 

“There is.” She nodded, knowing he was referring to the shipwreck she had mentioned. “C’mon.” She smiled, closing the distance between them and grabbing his hand. “I can’t tell you anythin’ about it.” Eleanor admitted as Arthur laced their fingers together. “Just that it's there.” The gunslinger nodded, allowing her to lead him to the wreck.

 

“Probably a river pirate or a smuggler.” She laughed gently, bending down to grab the hem of her skirt as they approached the wreck. “Should we go in?”

 

“Why not.” Within a second, Arthur had scooped her into his arms. One arm supporting her back and holding her by her waist while the other curled under her knees. The action was met by Eleanor’s bright laughter as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

 

“Don’t you worry, Miss Beaumont.” Arthur exclaimed, trudging through the muck to set her down on an even bit of the ship. “We take good care of our ladies here.” He continued his statement as he joined her on the ship. “Anything else about the ship?”

 

“I don’t know much.” She shrugged, watching as Arthur climbed over a plank of wood held up by a couple of barrels before helping her. They weren’t met by much. Just a small space with a broken chair and a tricorn hat. “Except this must have happened a century ago.”

 

“Now, what gave you that idea.” The sardonic tone was obvious, causing Eleanor to shake her head as she removed the hat from the skeleton. 

 

“I’ll kiss you if you put this on.” She smirked, holding the hat out to him.

 

“You’ll kiss me regardless.” He countered, closing the space between and forcing Eleanor’s back to the wooden walls of the ship. He took her free hand in his as he pressed his body to her’s. His own free hand up against the wall of the ship for support.

 

“Is that so?” She mused, a smirk of her own forming on her features as her eyes looked at his lips. Arthur leaned down, grazing his lips over hers as a tease. He pulled back slightly, raising his eyebrows at the sight of the small woman with her eye closed in anticipation.

 

“I think it is.” His voice was low, low enough that Eleanor could feel the rumble of the baritone in his chest vibrate against her body. Opening her eyes, she looked up to him, that lustful gaze reappearing.

 

“You are a horrible man, Arthur Morgan.” She playfully pushed him away. She was met with resistance, his hand releasing hers only to move it the back of her neck, his fingers entangled in her curls. Her breath caught in that moment.

 

“I ain’t gunna deny it.” He chuckled, turning her head to the side before placing a soft, lingering kiss on the pulse point of her neck. Eleanor closed her eyes as a soft moan came from her. This pleased Arthur enough to do it again in hopes of eliciting the same response.

 

“Arthur….” She murmured, closing her eyes as she felt his warm, thick lips on her skin. He pulled back, the mischief leaving his eyes. It was replaced with genuine concern. Eleanor melted as she looked into his blue eyes. Dropping the hat, she placed her small hand on his cheek. She leaned up, standing on the tips of her toes as she pulled him in for a deep kiss, filled with passion and longing. She felt a warmth growing between her legs as Arthur released her hand to travel over her hip and along the curve of her body. He wanted to feel her skin again, but all he could feel was her damn corset underneath her shirt. He removed his hand from the back of her neck, placing it on her waist. He easily lifted her off the ground. She placed her hands on his shoulders as his tongue ran along her top lip. He gently set her down on the wooden plank they had used to get to this area. He broke the kiss only to look down on the woman.

 

He wanted her, in every sense of the word. In this moment, he wanted her body. He wanted to hear her whimpers as he slid inside of her. He wanted to hear his name come from her perfect lips. He leaned down, kissing her roughly and wantingly as her hand rested on his exposed bit of chest. Breaking the kiss once more, Arthur placed a kiss on her forehead before resting his own against it. Eleanor closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. A small laugh came from her as she exhaled.

 

“I shouldn’t want you like this.” She whispered, grazing the tip of her nose over his. “It’s not proper.” She smiled, leaning in to give a quick, chaste kiss. Despite the innocence of the kiss, Arthur could feel his erection pulsating. It wasn’t the first time she had brought him to this point. He had just had the opportunity to bring himself to the release. 

 

“Nothin’ about this has been ‘proper’.” He returned her smile, his knuckles grazing over the exposed flesh of her arm. If it had been proper, they would not have been sharing a camp, let alone share a cot (or a bed). He ran his hand down her arm. He grasped her hand and brought her wrist to his lips. Eleanor bit her bottom lip as she watched him kiss the pulse point on her wrist.

 

“Arthur….” She swallowed, placing her hand on his cheek to guide him to look at her. Her eyes met his blue ones and her heart began to race faster than it already had been. “Do...Do you intend on marryin’ me?” It was a bold question. Especially given the short time they had known each other. Despite that short time, Eleanor felt like she had known Arthur for all her twenty-two years on Earth. And she couldn’t imagine what life would be like without him. But Arthur’s silence caused her to panic for a moment. Despite him giving her his mother’s ring and proclaiming his love for her; there was a sliver of doubt that he did love her but he didn’t think of marriage. She wouldn’t have blamed him though. Love had not been kind to him in this life. When he nodded, looking to her with somewhat sad eyes, she released a breath.

“I do.” He ran his hand through her hair, not breaking eye contact with her. “This ain’t the life you deserve. It ain’t easy. It ain’t always like this. But it ain’t easy.” His hand found its way to her cheek, his thumb running over her cheekbone. “I want to give you a life you deserve, Eleanor.” He sighed, breaking the eye contact as he bowed his head. “I don’t want our kids to grow up like Jack, but I don’t want to leave you alone….I need to protect you….And our kids. I won’t be able to leave you. But I need to protect them too.” He was referring to the gang and Eleanor understood. “I can’t let what happened to Eliza and Isaac happen to you.” He looked up to her, an incredible sadness in his eyes. Eleanor knew they had died, she wasn’t aware of the circumstances, but this led her to believe they were killed. And Arthur wasn’t there. Eleanor placed her hand on his cheek, offering him a sympathetic gaze.

 

“My home is with you.” She ran her finger tips over the stubble on his jaw. “I have no doubt that we will figure out anything that comes our way.” She offered him a small smile, her fingers running over his jawline to his sandy blond hair. “You thought about children?” Her small smile turned into a dreamy gaze as the gunslinger blushed. “Me too.” She admitted, turning her head so she could kiss his palm. “I love you, Arthur. And all that comes with you.” The man smiled softly, leaning in to kiss her. The simple kiss quickly turned into a deep one, the passion and want returning. In the heat of the moment, Eleanor grabbed her skirt and brought it to her knees. Arthur took the invitation, his hands moving to the exposed skin of her calf and under her drawers to her knees.

 

“You sure?” Arthur murmured against her lips, grasping at her knees.

 

“Yes.” She breathed, bringing their lips back together. Arthur’s hand traveled further, from her knee to her thigh. And from her thigh to her round bottom. She moaned into the kiss, her fingers numbly working on the buttons of his shirt.  He pulled her closer to the edge of the plank. Arthur broke the kiss and looked down to Eleanor as he removed his hand from her behind and ran a finger over her slick folds, smirking as he felt how wet she was at just his touch. He watched her face as he did so. He watched as her head tilted back, her throat begging to be kissed. As he leaned in to kiss her neck, he slid a finger into her. Her light moan brought his erection to his attention.

 

This was all new to Eleanor. This rush of wanting someone in such a primitive and carnal way. The idea of being the closests one could be to another person. All she could think about was how to be closer to Arthur. She placed her hands on his chest as gently stoked the fire within her. With each stroke, she wanted more of him. No. Not wanted. She needed more of him. His actions elicited a moan from her as he continued and began to kiss her neck. She could feel his tongue on her skin and his finger within her. Her breathing began to quicken as she writhed at his touch. She gently grabbed his hair and brought his lips to hers for a not so gentle kiss. Arthur took that not so gentle kiss as his cue. He quickly moved the straps of his suspenders down before undoing the button on his pants. He pushed her skirt and petticoat higher, grabbing her hips as he held the fabric in place. 

 

“Are you sure?” He breathlessly asked once more, he needed to hear that she was certain before he took her maidenhead properly. Those demons who took it without her permission be damned. He wanted to make sure this was what she wanted. If it wasn’t, he would be content. He just wanted her to be comfortable. Eleanor nodded quickly. That wasn’t good enough. “Say it.”

 

“I’m sure.” Her voice was low, but her eyes didn’t leave Arthur’s face. With her permission, Arthur slid himself into her warmth slowly, watching her face for any hint of discomfort. When she winced and a sound of discomfort came from her, he stopped.

 

“Are you alright?” The concern in his voice was genuine, his hands adjusting the grip on her skirts. When she nodded, he began to move slowly, a groan coming from him as he slid out of her and back in. Instinctively, Eleanor wrapped her legs around his body as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Arthur’s hands released the skirts, content that they would stay in place as he gripped her thighs. His movements became faster with each thrust containing more urgency than the last. Eleanor was the only thing he could think of. He was drunk off of the feel of her, the power she gave him.

 

“Please….” She begged him in a moan, a soft whimper coming from her as Arthur quickened his pace. With each second passing, any anxiety Eleanor had melted away. He was all she wanted, all she needed. As her body tightened, she held Arthur closer and her finger tips dug into his shirt. This sent Arthur over the edge with a few more quick thrusts, he groaned and felt his release go into her. Eleanor let out a shaky breath as her body relaxed. Arthur’s hands moved from her thighs so that he could embrace her, groaning as he gave one last thrust while Eleanor laid her head on his shoulders. She took a deep breath to steady her breathing. She took in the rich Earthy scent of Arthur combined with the smell sweat and sex. She was happy.

 

As Arthur held her close, his length remaining inside of her as they embraced. He wondered if a part of him should have felt bad. She was hardly the first woman he had been with, but he was the first man she had been willing to give herself to. He wondered if her nightmares would resume again or if she would push him away because of the memory of madmen the next time they could have this kind of encounter. Concern washed over him as he felt her body rhythmically shake. She was either laughing or crying. He was worried it was the later and not the former. He pulled away enough to see her smiling, her quiet laughter confirming to him that she was okay. He pushed her stray hairs out of her face as he smiled down on her.

 

“You best not be laughing at me, darlin’.” He kissed her forehead, her laughter becoming audible as she shook her head.

 

“No.” She shook her head, running her hands through his mess of blond hair. “I’m really happy right now.” It was a simple thing, but everything in the world seemed perfect. They were the only two in a world designed for them. “The happiest I’ve ever been, I think.” Her smile broadened. 

His loyalty was shifting. He could feel it. As he adjusted his clothing and watched Eleanor do the same, he knew what course he had to take. This life was getting more dangerous by the day. He would see that the gang, especially Jack, John, and Abigail, were out of danger. Then he would seek a life that was his own with this woman, who so carefully re-adjusted her skirt and her shirt. He was willing to do for Eleanor what he couldn’t do for Mary, what he refused to do for Mary. Eleanor wasn’t asking for that though and that was the difference. Mary had expected his loyalty to change, for him to abandon his family. Eleanor was the opposite. She understood that they were who they were. Not only did she understand it, she accepted it as part of him. He assisted her over the barrels and carried her out of the shipwreck like he had carried her in. The action was met with the same glee as when they entered the wreck. When he set her down on the beach, she did a spin that caused her skirt and her hair to flow around her in the sunlight. She looked like a ball of light and, he supposed, she was. 

 

“We’ll make better memories here.” He followed her to the grassy area where they had left the blanket and meal. He was amazed the birds didn’t get to it. Eleanor sat herself on the blanket before setting out the contents of their picnic. She didn’t doubt his ability to try to give her moments of happiness in a place that now held so much sadness.

 

“Don’t….” She shook her head, placing a pewter plate down for him. “I’m too happy right now with the memory we just made.” She smiled up at him, patting the spot next to her. He happily obliged her, taking the spot. They were happy. And that was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

July 2nd, 1899

 

It's been an interesting few days. We somehow ran into Josiah, in trouble. Again. That caused trouble. Again. Got roped up with Sheriff Leigh Gray. Eleanor did not seem too happy to hear that name. I reckon he’s one those Grays who didn’t approve of her. His deputy told me about where she could have lived if things didn’t go south. I don’t doubt that she would have done well with plantation life. She doesn’t think so. Still says she’d be happier on a farm than in a house like that. And Dutch is being Dutch. Asked Hosea and I to check out the Grays and this other family. Something about old gold. He’s still ignoring the threat of Pinkertons.  If we ain’t careful, we ain’t going to survive this. Well, Sadie might. Woman is proving to be a spitfire of a shooter. We weren’t supposed to cause trouble, but these Lemoyne Raiders, whoever these fellers were, had it coming, I suppose.

 


 

July 3rd, 1899

Clemens Point, Lemoyne

 

Abigail Roberts would never admit that she was jealous of Arthur Morgan, Eleanor Beaumont, and the relationship they had. But she was. It was what she had wanted with John. She wanted John to look at her the way Arthur does at Eleanor; for him to care for her and Jack the way Arthur cares for Eleanor. She was happy for them, though. Love was a blessing that everyone deserved to experience. Whether it was painful or blissful….or some combination of the two. She just wished that she could experience the blissful part as opposed to the constant pain and disappointment John Marston could only offer her. Maybe he just needed a push? Maybe seeing what a loving relationship could be like would change him. Not that she wanted him to change, she just wanted him to step up. If not for her, then for the boy.

 

As Abigail sipped her morning coffee, she could see the two figures in Arthur’s tent lay in the cot. Surely, they were having conversations not meant for the ears of the gangs. They were probably talking about their future, how it would work within the gang when she eventually got pregnant. Abigail thought it was bound to happen sooner rather than later given the amount of time they two spent away from prying eyes. There wasn’t an ounce of doubt that the two would be good parents. They were good with Jack, always kind and loving to the boy. She was happy that Arthur would get another chance at being a father with a woman who would want him there. It would also be nice for Jack to have a cousin. Though, Abigail knew this wasn’t the way to raise a child. It wouldn’t be a surprise to her if Arthur ended up leaving the gang in search of greener pastures with Eleanor by his side. Abigail could feel the pang of jealousy again, stepping away from the fire to place her cup with the dirty dishes. It was time to have a conversation with John.

 


 

 

“What does Dutch have you doin’ today?” Eleanor asked, sitting on the edge of the cot as she laced up her boots. It had been an interesting week for her. She was back in her home state and Arthur told her about his interactions with Leigh Gray and Archibald Andrews. It made her nervous. Being back in Lemoyne, in general, made her uneasy. Things didn’t add up in her mind where her kidnapping was concerned. The more she thought about it, the more her concern grew. Did Leigh Gray set up a posse to look for her? How soon did they give up? Was she considered dead? Eleanor had a lot of questions and yet, there was no way for her to get answers. Until now.

 

“He wants me to meet him up at the sheriff’s office. Somethin’ about gettin’ on Gray’s good side.” He heard Eleanor scoff as he ran a blade along his face to remove the overgrown stubble.

 

“If he’s got a good side.” She muttered under her breath, moving from one boot to the other. “Leigh Gray is a drunk and terrible excuse of a sheriff. He’s gotten in more scandals than a crooked politician.”  Her blonde head shook as she finished the ties on the boot. “I told you, Grays own half the town. Only reason he’s still sheriff is because of Tavish. Another horrible man. Only good one is Beau now. Heir to it all, idealistic fool.”

 

“And you were going to marry into that?” Arthur questioned, rinsing his face from the lather before patting it dry.

 

“I didn’t have a choice.” She pointed out, not willing to rehash an earlier argument. “I had to protect Papa’s business.”

 

“Fair enough.” Arthur said, taking a seat on the cot next to Eleanor. He reached under their cot for their stash of fruit and grabbed them each a peach. Eleanor gladly took her’s, quick to take a bite. “What can you tell me about Leigh? Besides the fact that he likes his ‘shine.”

 

“He can’t hold it.” She scoffed, taking another bit of the fruit. “He always gets drunk as a skunk when people need him, he ain’t there. Sends Archie to do the work. And Archie….” She laughed as she shook her head. “He’s eager but he’s dullard. Talks way too much ‘bout things that don’t matter to anyone ‘cept him. If he ain’t told you about his aunt goin’ to Paris….Make sure he doesn’t. It’s rather borin’ story that he thinks is some epic adventure.” Arthur nodded, acknowledging that he was taking in the information. “Bless his heart. Dutch ain’t right about all southerners, but he’s right about them.”

 

“He wants to work both sides.” Arthur sighed, knowing it probably wasn’t the best idea to get involved in some scheme with these families. They were supposed to be laying low and they couldn’t even do that for more than five seconds. Dutch always had to charm his way into some trouble. Arthur had to wonder how much longer they could keep this up before Leviticus Cornwall and the Pinkertons had them all six feet under. “Trelawney, that English feller I told you about,” Eleanor nodded, “He gets information. Thinks there’s some ‘rebel gold’ between the Grays and them Braithwaites.” Eleanor wrinkled her nose, it looked like she smelled something rotten.

 

“Horrible woman. That Catherine. Ol’ Mrs. Braithwaite is a mean ol’ thing. I heard she locked up her own daughter.” Eleanor had no love in her heart for any of the Braithwaite clan. They were the ones who called her father names and the ones who tormented her as a child for her inability to speak English. “ C’est une famille horrible…. ” Eleanor grumbled.

 

“That I kinda understood. Is there anyone in that town you like?” Arthur chuckled, grabbing his gamblers hat from the chest and placing it on his head.

 

“I like Beau. He was always kind, like Joshua. They didn’t turn out too bad. Penelope Braithewaite too. She’s a sweet girl. They’re so in love but….It ain’t ever gunna happen.” She laughed gently. She was lucky that she would get to marry for love. Unlike her friends. They had expectations to meet and cousins to marry. Arthur nodded, standing up as he was meant to head into town. Before he had a chance to say goodbye, Eleanor grabbed his hand. “Arthur….Can you do something for me?”

 

“Anything.” She knew she never had to ask. He would do anything she wanted.

 

“Can you tell me what happened to me?” A confused look flashed over the gunslingers face. She knew what happened to her. He knew what happened to her. He could lay out the basics of the events based on what she told him. He had a feeling she didn’t mean that though. “I wanna know if anyone knows what happened to my family. If….If anyone came lookin’ for me….Somethin’ ain’t right.” She looked to him, genuine concern in her eyes. He placed his hand on her cheeks and leaned down to kiss her forehead.

 

“Of course, sweetheart.” He nodded, letting his hand drag down her cheek to her jawline and from her jawline to under her chin to tilt her head up towards him. He gave her a quick, gentle kiss. “I’m sure everything is fine.” Eleanor sighed while she shook her head.

 

“You know it ain’t, Arthur.” 

 

“I’ll check it out.” Eleanor stood on the tips of her toes and wrapped her arms around Arthur’s neck.

 

“Thank you.”

 


 

Rhodes, Lemoyne

 

Eleanor was definitely right about one thing. Sheriff Leigh Gray was a drunk and Dutch Van der Linde had already exploited that little fact. It probably made that silver tongue of his more believable. Arthur scratched his neck as he was formally introduced to the sheriff. The drunken sheriff went on about how they had been dealt a rough card by losing their employment. A masterful lie told by a master lie. It covered them and the reason they were in town. They’d probably lost their jobs to a factory up north, down south, wherever they claimed to hail from  a dozen times in the last decade. As Sheriff Gray excused himself to throw up whatever Dutch was feeding him, Dutch revealed his master plan for the town of Rhodes.

 

“I told you we was moving up in this world.” Dutch declared, pulling two badges out of Leigh’s desk. “Deputies!” This was too much for Arthur. They were getting all cozy with the law when they should have been running from it.

 

“You have finally lost mind!” Dutch continued pinning the badge on Arthur as he went on about how they would be the moralizers amongst the drunken and stupid townfolk of Rhodes. Sheriff Gray came back into the jail and that was when Arthur saw it. With big, bold letters. 

 

WANTED

 

As Gray went on about how there was moonshine in the woods, Arthur examined the poster. It made no sense to him. On the poster was Eleanor’s face, giving the meanest look he had never seen her give, her name, and a list of crimes he couldn’t read. He paused for a moment, as Dutch offered their services to take care of some moonshiners out in the woods. As Dutch went outside to meet Archibald, Arthur took the poster. Eleanor was right about two things: Leigh Gray was a drunk and something was wrong. Arthur joined Archibald on the transport wagon, trying to figure out how he was going to get information.

 

“How are you enjoying the area, Mr. Callahan?” Archibald was quick to start up the small talk to pass time as they made their way to where the bootleggers were holding out.

 

“Just fine. Beautiful country you have here.” Arthur was polite in his response. 

 

“Ain’t it?” Archibald smiled with pride. Arthur thought he was a simple idiot.

 

“Can you tell me about this bounty? This...Beaumont lady?” Arthur tried to play dumb to the fact that he knew this woman spent many nights tied to a tree and that the ropes were so tight they scarred her skin.

 

“She was always trouble, that one. Eleanor Beaumont. Family ain’t from around here. Came from France sometime ago.” Arthur listened, knowing that was true. “She was supposed to marry Sheriff Gray’s nephew but she hired some men to shoot him a couple of months ago. They ran up north, we think. She came back though.”

 

“Did she now?” Arthur feigned surprise, knowing he was the one who brought her back to her murdered family. 

 

“Yessir!” Archibald nodded, almost gleeful in his answer. It made Arthur feel sick. “Came back, killed her family and then burnt their house down to the ground. Sheriff Gray expects she’ll swing.” And that made Arthur’s stomach churn. At least they thought those men took her north. They probably did. But then they must have taken a turn west. If only they knew she was right under their noses. Arthur was thankful that they didn’t have the slightest idea.

 

“Sounds to me like a complicated case. Any, eh, evidence against the girl?” Arthur was finding himself regretting that he let her burn her home down with the bodies of her loved ones inside.

 

“Not much, but the bartender at the parlour house said Joshua, Sheriff Gray’s nephew, won a hefty sum of money that night. Ain’t the motivation enough for murder?” Arthur raised an eyebrow.

 

“But she had enough time to hire men?” Arthur playing dumb his whole life was paying off right now.

 

“Probably was waitin’ till after the wedding. Kill him and get the money. I don’t know Mr. Callahan. Only motive is money. Maybe a lover.”

 

Maybe y’all are full of shit. Arthur thought as he listened to Archibald go over the reasons why his lovely Eleanor could be a murder. He had seen her roped up against that tree, seen her mourn over her family and her home while it was up in flames, and he had kissed the scars left on her petite wrist, willing them to go away. She wasn’t a killer, he was certain there wasn’t a malicious bone in her body.

 

“She’s probably long gone by now. Probably back to France.” The deputy concluded. “It’s been almost three months since anyone seen her.  Month and a half since the farm burned.” Arthur tried to not to roll his eyes. These people were clearly trying to get Eleanor for something she didn’t do but why?

 

“So, these moonshiners….”

 


 

 

Clemens Point, Lemoyne

 

Eleanor spent her day like she always did. She did her routine, did her chores, and read whatever book she could get her hands on. Hosea had been kind enough to lend her books when she had been bored with the re-reads of what she brought back from her home. Jack would ask her to teach him French, which she happily obliged (they were currently working on numbers), and she’d help Sadie when she could with the chickens. 

 

“You and Arthur sure are movin’ fast.” Sadie observed, tossing chicken feed to the few chickens they had in the camp. “Reminds me of Jakey and I.” She smiled sadly, looking down to the creatures. “We were married in a month.”

 

“You knew pretty quickly then?” Eleanor took some feed from the bag and scattered it as Sadie nodded.

 

“The moment I met him. You didn’t feel that away about Joshua, did you?” She looked to Eleanor who quickly shook her head.

 

“Not at all. He was a good man but he wasn’t a man. If you know what I’m sayin’. More of a boy. A rich boy.” She put on emphasis on “rich”, causing confusion to flash across Sadie’s face. “I woulda been comfortable. But I wouldn’t have been happy.”

 

“But Arthur makes you happy?”

 

“Very. I know it's silly, but I can’t remember life without him. I mean... I can. But it just seems like the world was dull….”

 

“And suddenly it was full of color.” Sadie finished, touching Eleanor’s shoulder. “I understand. Shakes you to your core in the best way.” The women shared a knowing smile in their shared experiences. “I don’t think I’ll ever find another man like Jake. I do not intend to. I’d rather die alone in….in South America!” The women laughed together as Sadie rolled the bag of chicken feed close. Eleanor let out a yawn as she moved to sit near the fire.

 

“If you’re tired, you should take a rest.” Sadie joined her at the fire, a cup of water for each of them. “Ain’t no one gunna stop you.”

 

“Ms. Grimshaw might. I think there’s some shirts that need washin’ still.” That seemed like a never ending chore in the camp. Washing the clothes for all these people. Some had blood, others were just dirt. All of it took a while though. 

 

“Arthur wouldn’t want you washin’ to the bone.” She pointed out as Eleanor sipped her water. She was right. As much as Arthur encouraged her to help within the camp, and she gladly did, he also urged her to relax. Especially now that they were in Lemoyne and he knew the mental toll this could take on her. Part of her wanted to work through it though, keep her mind distracted from the fact that her childhood home wasn’t that far.

“I grew up around here. Where that red mill is, that was my father’s.” Eleanor looked into her cup, the water only reflecting her face back. “I was tellin’ Arthur that when we were kids we used to play here.” She sighed, feeling the sadness take over her. Sadie shot the woman a sympathetic glance. Sadie had her own horrible experience, but she would never have to go back to that cabin again and relive those days more than she already did. She couldn’t imagine having a reminder of all she lost on the other side of the treeline. “I think about Papa a lot.”

 

“Naturally, we’re always our daddy’s girls.” Sadie’s tone was comforting as she looked at the poor girl. 

 

“He would have loved Arthur.” She laughed gently, rolling the cup between her hands. “Always thought that Joshua was too soft and weren’t rugged enough or strong enough.” She looked at Sadie, a smile on her face as she began to imitate her father’s accent. “‘You should marry a true American!’” She giggled. “‘Eh...Uh...Real man of ze woods! A frontier’s man.’ Thiefin’ and all, would have welcomed Arthur into the home with open arms.”

 

“Do you ever wanna find out who killed ‘em?” Eleanor shook her head at the question with a wince. She should have wanted the closure, to bring the people to justice. But what was done was done.

 

“Ain’t nothin’ gunna bring them back.” She looked up the fire, watching the embers dance in the flame. “Besides, If I bring the law into my personal affairs….What does that do to Dutch….Or Arthur. They got prices on their heads. Wouldn’t make much sense to lose Arthur and this family. Just gotta try and...move forward. I suppose.”

 

“We do. And we have.” Sadie took Eleanor’s hand and gave it a supportive squeeze. “I still wanna kill the son of  a bitch who killed my husband though.”

 

“I think you will Mrs. Adler.” Eleanor returned the squeeze before letting go and standing up. “I think I will take a rest.”

 

“Want me to fend off Arthur when he comes back?” Sadie giggled as Eleanor rolled her eyes with a smile. 

 

“I'm sure he’ll figure it out, Sadie.” Eleanor took her leave, finding quiet in the open tent they had shared. Eleanor made quick work to remove her boots before resting on top of the blanket.

 


 

This had the potential to be bad, very bad. Arthur couldn’t even bring himself to tell Dutch yet. Once, he may have been able to trust the father figure. But with this latest stunt of “deputizing” them and bringing them closer to the law than they ever should have been, Arthur was concerned. Dutch a few months ago would have shrugged it off, welcomed her with open arms just like he had Micah Bell. Now, with his greed, Dutch may have been willing to offer Eleanor up for the sum of the bounty. They were offering $100 for her return, an amount that no one would sneeze at. He had to get Eleanor out of there. Far away, out of the reach of the Grays.

 

“You’ve lost your touch! The father has beat the son.” Dutch announced, accepting his win in their horse racing competition back to the camp. As the men dismounted their steads, Dutch noticed the concern on Arthur’s face. “What's wrong my boy?”

 

“Nothin’. Just, eh, worried about Eleanor. She ain’t been feeling good the last few days.” Arthur scratched his neck, hoping that Dutch wouldn’t see through to the real issue at hand.

 

“She isn’t sick, is she?” Arthur shook his head quickly.

 

“No, no. We’re just close to her home is all. It’s hard for her.”

 

“Well, she has my sympathies. Just remind her that she’s hitched to a wagon that’s on the up!” Dutch smiled mischievously as he left Arthur in favor of the preening Mary-Beth. Arthur shook his head and rolled his eyes before going to the tent. He saw that Micah was leaning against the tree, staring at the sleeping Eleanor. Neither of them needed this right now.

 

“Why are you always so creepy?” Arthur asked when he got closer to their tent.

 

“Ain’t sure what you’re talking about, Morgan.” The devious blond man smiled towards Arthur. He was clearly trying to get a rise out of someone.

 

“Leave her be.” Arthur groaned as Micah chuckled.

 

“Threatened by me, cowpoke?” Micah came off of the tree and came closer to Arthur. How he would love to punch that ratty face of his again. And again. He was nothing but trouble. “Are you afraid she’d prefer a real man over some sour, old man who’s past his prime?”

 

“She’s got herself a man. Keep your distance.” Arthur glared at the nuisance as he chuckled, pushing past Arthur to badger someone else. He needed to get more canvas for the tent, close it up a bit more so they could have more privacy. 

 

As he approached the cot, he knelt down and moved the wisps of hair from her face. As always, her lips were parted and, as always, it made Arthur smile. How could anyone convince themselves that she was someone who could murder anyone, let alone her family? He stroked her cheek gently in an attempt to wake her up in a manner that wasn’t so jarring as asking her to.

 

“Hi….” She whispered, her eyes still shut as a small yawn came from her.

 

“Hey, darlin’….” His voice was soft as she opened her eyes to him and his heart paused. How could he send her away without going with her. He sighed. This was going to break her.

 

“What's wrong?” She pushed herself up, her green eyes no longer filled with sleep. The sleep had been replaced with concern. “Did you run into Pinkertons?” He shook his head “You’re scarin’ me, Arthur.”

 

“You were right about somethin’ not being right.”

Chapter Text

July 3, 1899

Clemens Point

 

“Wanted for the murders of Joshua Gray, Henri Beaumont, Charlotte Beaumont…..” Eleanor read the wanted poster Arthur had taken from the jail in Rhodes. Arthur watched her as she read over the words again. “I feel sick….” She breathed out heavily. She placed the poster next to her and held her head in her hands. This wasn’t real life. And if she tried hard enough, she could will herself to wake up from this never ending nightmare. She’ll close her eyes and magically wake up in her bed and somehow Arthur would be there and everything would be okay.

 

“They think you hired those men to kill Joshua.” Arthur's voice was grim, knowing the seriousness of this. It was one thing for them to have a price on their head. They knew it. They’ve had bounties on them that they’d out run. They’d be out running them for so long that they were to the point where they were cowering from them instead of laughing in the face of them. Eleanor hadn’t known. How could she have.

 

“Why would I do that?” She shook her head, holding back the tears so that they wouldn’t draw attention to themselves.

 

“Money.” It was a simple fact. The motivation for most crimes was money. It was what motivated Dutch, Arthur, Colm O’Driscoll….anyone who ever committed a crime. It was either that or passion. “That or one of them that kidnapped you was your lover.” That caused Eleanor to laugh in disbelief.

 

“Ah, yes. Every woman’s dream. To be kidnapped and raped by three men.” She rolled her eyes, she released her head as her hands moved to the scars on her wrist. Arthur winced at how plainly she could say it. The circumstances of why she was here was not something they spoke about. If he had it his way, she would be able to forget everything that happened to her. At least the nightmares had stopped. But he knew she would live with this for the rest of her life. “Maybe if I showed them what those….those men did to me…..” She looked forward at nothing at all, her hands still holding onto her wrists. 

 


“They’ll just think you did it to cover yourself.” Arthur pointed out. He had no idea how to protect her from this. Or how to protect all of them from the potential of more bounty hunters on them. “They think you went north, they ain’t gunna suspect that you’re here. Archibald thinks you went to France.” He took a seat next to her, moving the wanted poster to the side. He wrapped his arms around her. She leaned into his body and listened to the rhythm of his heartbeat in hopes that it would calm her down.

 

“They’re offerin’ $100….” She said to his slate blue shirt as he rubbed her arm.

 

“Eleanor, I am not letting anyone take you.” Arthur promised, leaning his head on her’s. “Especially not for somethin’ you didn’t do.”

 

“You’re so certain that I didn’t…..” She hadn’t done anything except scream when it all happened. The shock of watching Joshua being shot, point blank, right in front of her caused her to do so. Which was probably why they took her. A part of her wished that they had just killed her there. Then this wouldn’t have been happening. Maybe her family would still be alive.

 

“I met a lot of killers in my life and done my fair share of killin’. You’re a good person, Eleanor. You ain’t got the heart to kill someone.” He gave her a gentle squeeze as he kissed the top of her head. “We gotta tell Dutch though.” Eleanor shot up, moving away from Arthur. She couldn’t fathom why he would have to know. There were too many things that could go wrong once this got out in the camp. What if Micah turned her in for the reward? What if Dutch turned her in? They were going to sentence her to death over $100? She knew Arthur wouldn’t have let it happen. She was almost sure that if Micah did find out, Arthur wouldn’t have left her side.. She was still worried.

 

“Why do we have to tell him?” 

 

“Him and Hosea….They might be able to come up with a plan. Get us out of here. Leigh likes Dutch, for now, maybe he can work something out.” Arthur knew he was grasping at straws.  “They’ll know what to do.” Eleanor sighed as she looked to the ground. She felt like she was cornered. The only way out was up and then down with a short drop.Thinking about a rope around her neck, she placed her hand on her neck. She was tired of ropes wrapped around her body. She was tired of this part of her life. She thought once Arthur, Charles, and John and rescued her from that camp, that once she knew her family was gone, that she would be able to move on and forge a happy life. Especially now that she and Arthur were finding happiness within each other.

 

“If anyone can figure a way out of this, it’s Hosea and Dutch.” Arthur continued, taking the wanted poster and folding it up to put back in his pocket. “I’m goin’ to gather them. Meet me by that boat wreck. Okay?” Eleanor nodded, Arthur could sense the understandable sadness. “It’s going to be alright, darlin’.” He leaned down to kiss her forehead once more before going to gather the men who raised him.

 

As Arthur went off, Eleanor pushed herself off from the cot and paced. She couldn’t wrap her head around what was happening. The last time she was in Rhodes, Joshua Gray was shot. Right in front of her. She was kidnapped by men she had never seen before. She was knocked out and didn’t remember much after that. She remembered being hit, the pain of the ropes around her wrist. She remember a couple of the men raping her a few times. And then that moment, where she screamed. And now, almost two months later, she had a home with these people. They weren’t her family, but they were close enough to. And there was Arthur who had enabled her to forget all the bad things that happened. He made her feel like none of that happened, that she wasn’t a ruined woman, and he made her happy.

 

As the sun set over the camp, she made her way to the blue row boat that crashed onto the shore. It wasn’t secluded, but there was rarely anyone there. Maybe Reverend Swanson from time to time. Mr. Bell would stand over and look out over the area. This evening, he was entertaining the masses with the tales of his father’s heists. Eleanor thought it was a load of bunk, but she wasn’t about to start that debate or question the honor of another Bell. She passed the group at the fire and a bank of tents before making it to the shore. Arthur wasn’t there yet, but Jack was standing alone on the edge, trying to skip rocks. If things didn’t go well, she was definitely going to miss Jack.

 

“Whatcha doin’?” Eleanor asked as she approached the boy.

 

“Skippin’ rocks.” He replied simply. Eleanor watched as he attempted again; it was more of a throw than a skip. The blonde laughed gently, bending down to pick up the smoothest rock she could find. 

 

“You gotta find rocks like this.” She beckoned the little boy over to her. She tossed the rock in her hands before holding it up so he could see. “The smoother the rock, the better the skipping.”

 

“Are you good at skippin’ rocks, Aunt Ellie?” The brown haired boy looked up to the woman as she shook her head.

 

“No, my papa was though.” She smiled fondly, remembering the times he would take her to the lake. He’d either been fishing while she played in the water, or skipping rocks. “I swear, he could skip them clear across the lake.” She held out the rock for him to take the rock.

 

“Thanks, Aunt Ellie!” The little boy hugged her. It was a hug she gladly returned. An overwhelming sadness came over her as she held the boy close.

 

“Of course, Jack.” She let him go and tousled his hair. “Go on, give it a try.” She watched as Jack went back to the edge but just before Jack could throw the rock, Arthur cleared his voice.

 

“Eleanor.” She looked up to him and he nodded towards the  blue rowboat. She nodded.

 

“Keep practicin’ Jack. Remember, smooth stones” She stood up and followed Arthur to where Hosea and Dutch were waiting, the two talking amongst themselves. Somehow, she felt ashamed. Despite Dutch being sought after by Pinkertons and probably had an ungodly amount of money on his head. She couldn’t help but to feel ashamed.

 

“We have a problem.” Arthur said simply, reaching into his pocket to produce the poster. He unfolded it and passed to Hosea first.

 

“Did you do it?” That was the only question he asked as he passed the poster to Dutch.

 

“No. I don’t know why they say I did but... “ Eleanor looked down, shaking her head as she wrapped her arms around her body.

 

“Of course not.” Hosea said, feeling foolish for a moment. He had seen the condition she was in when Arthur brought her back to camp. Dutch passed the poster back to Arthur, Eleanor kicking the rocks at her feet while he did so.

 

“I spoke to Archibald about her, tried to get some information. They think she headed north or went to France some time after we burnt the homestead down.” Arthur informed the two, Hosea listening carefully as the cogs turned in Dutch’s head. “Sounds like they want her to swing.”

 

“We are not going to let that happen to you, my dear.” Dutch reassured, looking at the blonde woman who had captured the heart of his son. “No one is going to the gallows under my watch.”

 

“Just might get shot at.” Hosea said, some spite in his voice as he crossed his arms while looking at Dutch. The leader rolled his eyes as an exasperated sigh left his body. 

 

“What can we do.” Arthur said, rather urgently. “Hosea….Dutch… Please.” Hosea could sense the desperation in the boy’s voice. He wouldn’t flat out plead, not even for the woman he loved, but he’d come close. Hosea placed his hand on his chin, stroking it in thought. 

 

“When Bessie and I came out this way, there was a woman set to be hung for robbin’ a bank or something like that.” Hosea said, sitting down on the edge of the rowboat. “Her husband came forward and said he wouldn’t allow it. Something about some law where a man could stop his wife from swingin’ unless she committed matricide. That could be something.” Hosea looked to Eleanor and Arthur. “It won’t stop her from going to prison if they catch her, but she’ll be alive. We can rescue her later.” Eleanor

 

“Gray and Archibald know Arthur.” Dutch pointed out, Hosea nodded.

 

“Doesn’t have to be Arthur. Could be Charles or Bill.” Eleanor turned to Arthur, she could see him seething at Hosea’s suggestion.

 

“Only person I’m marryin’ around here is Arthur.” She said very plainly, reaching for his hand. He let her take in a show of solidarity against marrying anyone else in the gang. 

“Of course.” Hosea nodded, thinking for a moment. “She’s been missing, according to them for how long?”

 

“Two months and two weeks.” She stated quickly. She knew what date everything had happened.

 

“They know you came back for your family though.” Arthur reminded her. “Little more than a month then?” Eleanor nodded as his thumb grazed her knuckles.

 

“If we go this route, we say you didn’t know. She’s….Mrs. Callahan.” Hosea thought out loud, using the name Arthur had given to Archibald when they first met.  “Dutch?”

 

“You’re sayin’ she and Arthur get married, then we turn her in….And then what?” Dutch was trying to understand Hosea’s thought process. There was no easy to go about this.

 

“I don’t want to go meet my maker just yet but I’m not too keen about spendin’ life in prison either. Especially for somethin’ I did not do.” She shook her head, tears forming in her eyes. “Y’all wouldn’t be able to break me out. If they caught on it was the Van der Linde gang, that puts everyone at risk.” She continued shaking her head as she took a deep breath. “I won’t let you do that either.” She looked to Hosea, the tears in her eyes falling.

 

“Then what do we do, my dear?”  Hosea leaned forward, curious as to what she was thinking.

 

“I don’t know!” Her voice may have been a bit too loud, but she didn’t care. “Turn me in and take the money.”

 

“I ain’t gunna let that happen.” Arthur said, looking straight at her. “You ain’t going anywhere, Eleanor.”

 

“How about this,” Dutch spoke up as he looked at the couple. “You two are going to get married anyways so mid-as-well do it. We turn in her sometime after, saying we did not know who she was until you saw the poster.”

 

“Won’t they claim that the marriage is void?” Eleanor questioned. “That I….lied about my identity.”

 

“You didn’t though. You always told us you were Eleanor Beaumont.” Hosea pointed out. “We always knew who you were. The question of whether or not you were honest about your past normally doesn’t hold up in court. Besides, Arthur would be the only one who would be able to start anything like that.”

 

“And I wouldn’t agree to it.”  Arthur shook his head, turning towards Eleanor. “I am going to marry you and I ain’t going to let them void it.” Eleanor offered him a half smile, squeezing his hand. “What do we do to get her out.” Arthur returned his attention to Dutch.

 

“If all goes well with the Grays and the Braithwaites, we’ll be leavin’ here soon.” Dutch smiled, the images of gold bars in his head. “We’ll get her out before we leave town. Go west.”

 

“Wait.” Eleanor stopped the visions of the west and gold. “What if they ask for a marriage certificate? It’ll have a more recent date on it. Leigh may be a drunken idiot, but he ain’t obtuse.”

 

“They won’t.” Hosea reassured. “Gold bands are usually enough.”

 

“Usually. Somethin’ ain’t right about this. They’re tryin’ to frame me for somethin’. Why wouldn’t they try everything to make sure a judge condemns me to death? This is my life and we should examine this situation from all angles.” She inhaled deeply, Arthur could read the panic in her eyes. He wished he could do anything to ease her mind.

 

“Hosea’s the smartest out of us.”

 

“I resent that.” Dutch interrupted Arthur, crossing his arms in the process. Arthur ignored him.

 

“Eleanor….This may work.’ He held both of her hands in his, his eyes pleading for her to accept this.

 

“And if it doesn’t.” She just looked at him, no expression on her face and no hope in her eyes.

 

“If it doesn’t then I will burn Rhodes to the ground and kill every last Gray.” He was earnest in his response. Eleanor swallowed hard and shook her head. “You said we can make through anything.”

 

“We can….” She offered him a small smile as he squeezed her hands. “What’s the back up?” She turned to Hosea.

 

“We come to your hanging and save you there. We’ve done it before for John.” Hosea said simply.

 

“He was a kid then.” Dutch pointed out. 

 

“Same size as Eleanor.” Hosea countered. “No matter what, we’re saving Miss Beaumont. We’ve gotten people out of worse before.” Hosea laughed, looking at Dutch. “Remember that one time in Ohio.” All three men laughed at the memory. It just left Eleanor confused.

 

“Hosea and I were imprisoned for a scheme we were runnin’.” Dutch started, chuckling at the memory. “Arthur was maybe 13 or 14, just started with us.” Arthur laughed, raising an eyebrow as he scratched his jaw. “And he got the sheriff naked and bound up!” Eleanor was laughing now, trying to imagine Arthur as that young man in the picture near their cot doing just that. “We moved him to our cell!” Dutch’s laugh became boisterous as he shook his head. 

 

“Please, Arthur, I don’t want to see Leigh Gray naked.” Eleanor laughed gently.

 

“That was a one time performance. I can assure you.” He chuckled. 

 

“Don’t let him,” Hosea started, “he has done repeat performances of the same act several times since!”

 

“Y’all been in a cell that many times?” Eleanor was a little shocked at the revelation. Though, she shouldn’t have been. Other people didn’t get a bounty as easily as her. 

 

“And we’ve gotten out every time.” Dutch reassured her. “And we will get you out, my dear.” Dutch approached Eleanor and placed his hands on her shoulder. “You have my word. Now, are we planning a wedding?” The couple looked to each other, Eleanor offering a shrug.

 

“You did say you intended on marryin’ me.” She gave Arthur a half smile, squeezing her hand.

 

“I just wish it were under better circumstances, darlin’.” He released one of her hands so he could caress her cheek. “I would have gotten you a ring,” he lamented, “Done it right.”

 

“We’ll do it right!” Dutch laughed, embracing the two. 

 

“If you want to make this a legitimate marriage, we’ll have to take you two to Saint Denis.” Hosea said plainly. “Arthur, you will have to buy a marriage bond.” Arthur turned his attention to Hosea, nodding at the instruction.  “Both of you will have to apply for a marriage license. Should be simple, neither of you have family members left to protest the marriage. I won’t begrudge a bride her dress, so we’ll get you one Eleanor.” Hosea began pacing, thinking of everything they had to do.

 

“How long before you turn me in?” Eleanor knew all this would take time. It may have been time they didn’t have. And if they waited too long, wouldn’t Sheriff Gray get suspicious?

 

“About a week.” Hosea looked to Eleanor. “They won’t see Mr. Callahan while we do this. We can say he was collecting you from wherever he was keeping you.” Eleanor nodded, Arthur squeezing her hand once more. “We’ll work the Grays and the Braithwaites in the meantime. It’s going to be a long con with those two. Arthur will earn trust with the Grays for turning you in.”

 

“I see this as a positive for all of us.” Dutch said, releasing the two. “Swanson will marry you, we shall have another celebration.” Dutch began to walk away, but not before he tipped an imaginary hat towards Arthur and Eleanor. “To you, Mr. and Mrs. Morgan!” Dutch went to join the camp, almost making a beeline to Mary-Beth before being stopped by Molly.

 

“This will work.” Hosea reassured the two, nodding as he did so. “Eleanor,” he turned to the girl who found herself leaning against the gunslinger as he wrapped an arm around her. It reminded him of when Bessie was around. He would have done anything for that woman. It should have been him the world had taken instead of her. Hosea took her free hand, a smile on his withered face. “I would be honored if you wore Bessie’s ring.”

 

“Only if you give me away.” She smiled at the older man. If her own father couldn’t be the one to do it, Hosea was a good second choice. He had been nothing but kind to her after all.

 

“Of course, my dear. Let me go and get the ring and then, Arthur, you can properly propose.” The gunslinger laughed nervously as he looked down. Hosea left the two alone, the sun almost completely set. 

 

“You sure about this?” Arthur asked, pulling away so he could look at Eleanor.

 

“Yeah.” The blonde said simply. “We were gonna get married anyways. And this is our family.” She nodded towards the camp. “I wish we had the luxury to do it on our terms, in our own way. But, there’ll be plenty for our way once the dust settles. Right?” She looked up to the man who would soon be her husband.

 

“I certainly hope so, darlin’.” He wasn’t too confident the dust would actually settle. Especially if they pulled this stunt. If anyone found out who they really were, what they were running from, he wasn’t too sure what would happen. All he knew was that it would be nothing good.

“You’re sure you’re okay with marrying me?” Eleanor laughed, giving him a gentle nudge.

 

“Stop.”

 

“I’m gettin’ old.” He pointed out.

 

“So am I.” She rolled her eyes with a smile. “We all are. And before you say you’re ugly, because that’s what always follows, I want my children to look like you.”

 

“You want your kids to be ugly?” Arthur raised an eyebrow as he teased.

 

“I want them to have your ugly eyes,” she giggled, “Your awful jaw. I mean any stronger and it would be a side show act.” She wrinkled her nose as she laughed. “‘Sides, they’re gunna be your kids too. And you gotta deal with ugly from their mama.”

 

“Their mama ain’t ugly.” He said plainly, looking into her eyes.

 

“Neither is their daddy.” She offered him a smile as he leaned down to give her a quick kiss.

 

“I think I’m goin’ like callin’ you Mrs. Morgan.” He said as he pulled away. 

 

“Mrs. Arthur Morgan.” She smiled brightly as butterflies took residency in her stomach. “Mrs. Eleanor Henrietta Morgan….” She mused, swaying side to side in his arms. “Eleanor Morgan.” She didn’t feel this excited about the prospect of becoming Eleanor Gray. She could recall the lackluster moment Joshua had proposed. He did it in front of everyone so she couldn’t have the chance to entertain the idea of denying him.

 

“Mrs. Eleanor Callahan here.” Hosea rejoined the couple with that little tidbit. “But legally, Mrs. Morgan.” The old man smiled at the two, for the first time in a while he felt hope. These two would have to make it out of this if things went belly up. These two, the Marston boys, and Abigail. They had to survive this. “Son.” He presented Arthur with a little box that was home to the ring he once gave his beloved Bessie. Arthur nodded, holding the box up in thanks. Arthur wasn’t sure how to go about this. They were already getting married, he didn’t see much point in getting down on one knee. He didn’t see much point in asking either save for the formality of it. “I know you aren’t dumb as all that, Arthur. You get down-”

 

“I know.” He looked to the father figure before looking back at Eleanor. “Do you want me to do it proper?”

 

“Only if you want to.” She smiled, her cheeks a slight shade of pink. She had done the traditional proposal before. And she was sure he had done that with Mary.  She watched as Arthur opened the box and took the pretty ring out of it. It was a simple gold band with a small sapphire surrounded by smaller diamonds. 

 

“I love you, Eleanor Beaumont.” Arthur said simply, taking her left hand and placing the ring on her ring finger. As he looked at her, he took the same hand and kissed the ring before kissing the back of her hand. “I just hope I can make you happy.”

 

“I love you too, Arthur Morgan.” She smiled at him, tears of joy filling her green eyes.  He bent down, wrapping his arms around her waist to lift her up in a hug. As her feet left the solid ground, Eleanor could feel her heart soar. Despite everything, she felt like it was going to be alright. She wrapped her arms around his neck and just enjoyed this moment; enjoyed the fact that she was going to marry a man she loved. Nothing, at that moment, was going to stop her from being happy.

 

“Now, lets celebrate!” Hosea said as the newly engaged couple shared a kiss. Yes, these two gave the old man the hope that he sorely needed. And at least he knew Arthur would be taken care of when his time on this earth was done. For now though, he was going to toast the Morgans and wish them many, many years of happiness.

Chapter Text

July 4, 1899

Clemens Point, Lemoyne



“Wagons ready. Are you two ready?” Hosea asked as he approached the tent Arthur and Eleanor shared. He found Eleanor packing a small suitcase for the pair of them. She was smart. Between Independence Day Celebrations and having to wait for the marriage license, they would be outside of camp for three days. It would be a nice break for Hosea to be away from this whole business while helping these two with theirs. The plan once they got to Saint Denis was to get two rooms at a local hotel, one for him and Mary-Beth and one for Arthur and Eleanor. Though they would tell the innkeeper that the men were in one room while the women were in the other. Tomorrow, Mary-Beth and Eleanor would get Eleanor a fine, but practical dress while he and Arthur got the marriage bond and filled out the license. The next would be spent gathering items for the camp that they couldn’t get in Rhodes which included getting the newlyweds a more private tent. The day after that would be their return to camp, marriage license in hand, with a wedding to celebrate.

 

“I think so.” Eleanor responded, closing the case. She wiped her hands on the pale green skirt she wore before unrolling her sleeves and buttoning them. “How are we going to get me past Rhodes?” She looked up to Hosea, hands on her hips.

 

“Well, your most distinguishing feature is your eyes. We’ll cover them up with these.” He pulled a pair of sunglasses out of her vest pocket and held them out to her. She shrugged as she took them and placed them on. They were darkly tinted. She looked to Arthur with a smile. 

 

“How do I look?” She giggled, grabbing her straw boater hat with a ribbon that matched her skirt and the tailored jacket with puff sleeves she would put on before hopping on the wagon. 

 

“Like Eleanor Beaumont.” Arthur was not a fan of Hosea’s dressing up gigs. He understood that, in this case, it was needed to protect the woman who would soon be his wife. The woman pouted. “She’s too unique, Hosea.” Arthur looked to the man with concern all over his features.

 

“Arthur, my boy,” Hosea grasped one of Arthur’s shoulders, “You are blinded by love. Bessie was unique to me but probably just as plain as anyone on the street. You are beautiful, Eleanor.” Hosea said quickly, reassuring the bride to be that she was not, in fact, plain. She was stunning, any red blooded man could see that. Truth be told, the only people who would probably recognize her were the Grays and anyone associated with them. It was half the town, but what were the chances of them running into more than one Gray on the main road to Saint Denis? Hosea would bet that they would run into one and they wouldn’t care about too lovely, young women in the back of a wagon. Especially with Arthur as the shotgun messenger on Hosea’s side. “But,” he continued, “unless someone really knew you, they wouldn’t recognize you. No one thinks you are here. You’ll be hiding in plain sight, so to speak.”

 

“Can we do anything else to hide her?” Arthur implored.

 

“It’ll be fine, I suppose.” Eleanor said as she shook her head. She just needed to blend in. “I’ll be readin’ too, so that’ll cover my face.”

 

“See, there you go. With sunglasses, a hat, and a book….You’ll be fine, my dear.” Hosea smiled, maybe her knack would be in confidence tricks. If she ever got the confidence to do them or if Arthur let her leave camp without him. “I’ll see you two at the wagon.” Arthur nodded as the older, more rational man left the pair.

 

“Are you sure about all this.” Arthur looked at Eleanor who was placing her hat on top of her pinned up hair by looking into his shaving mirror. When she was satisfied with the placement, she turned to face Arthur with a bright smile as she peered over the frame of the glasses.

 

“Arthur,” She went up to him and took his hands. “No matter what happens, I get to be your wife. I am livin’ or dyin’ as Mrs. Arthur Morgan.  Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me.”

 

“I’m concerned about the dyin’ part.” Arthur ran one of his thumbs over her knuckles. 

 

“Well, you aren’t gonna let that happen. Are you?” The gunslinger shyly smiled, resting his forehead on her’s.

 

“Of course not, sweetheart. I’ll burn down all of Lemoyne before I let that happen.” He moved back so he could kiss her forehead before Hosea called for them.

 

“Come on, you two! Plenty of time for all that after we get to Saint Denis!” Eleanor laughed gently, her cheeks turning a shade of pink as Arthur grabbed their suitcase and she put on the tailored coat.

 

“No turnin’ back now.” She smiled, taking the arm Arthur offered to her. The two walked to the wagon where Arthur helped her onto the back of the wagon, followed by Mary-Beth.

 

“This is so excitin’!” The woman, who was Eleanor’s age, said with brilliance in her voice. “I ain’t ever seen Saint Denis before!” She was clearly brimming with emotion as the men got on the wagon. Hosea was playing the driver to Arthur’s shotgun messenger.

 

“It’s just another big city.” Hosea said, cracking the reigns. “Walk on.” He commanded the horses. “Filled with dirt and low lives.” He sighed as he guided the wagon out of the camp. “Easy targets some city folks. Lots of rich folks who pretend the poor folks don’t exist.”

 

“Yes.” Mary-Beth conceded as she took Eleanor’s hand. “You’re gettin’ married!” Eleanor tried to be excited. She was, truly. But over Mary-Beth’s shoulder, she could see the mill as they came out of the wood. It was all that was left of her childhood home that laid in ashes on the other side of the train tracks. “Aren’t you excited?” Eleanor could only offer a faint smile and shallow nod.  “You don’t seem excited.” Mary-Beth looked a bit befuddled by Eleanor’s lack of excitement.

 

“That was her parent’s mill.” Thank god for Arthur. The befuddled look on Mary-Beth’s face faded into a look of concern. 

 

“You poor dear….” Mary-Beth squeezed Eleanor’s hand. Eleanor just shook her head.

 

“It’s been two months…” She shrugged, returning the squeeze. “Just never thought I’d be so close to it, or here, again. I just wish I could have said goodbye or….” She continued shaking her head as she looked down. “Sometimes I wonder if they would still be alive if those men had killed me instead of Joshua.”

 

“Don’t say that.” Arthur looked over his shoulder with his quick reply. She had never shared that with him. She never voiced her survivor’s guilt or the “what ifs” of her situation. Arthur wasn’t certain what would have happened to her family if she had been the one to go, but he was certain that he would not be in this happy situation. Much like Eleanor, Arthur couldn’t remember the colors in his life being so vibrant. He wasn’t certain about a lot, but he was certain about Eleanor and him. It was the only thing that made sense these days. 

 

“He really loves you, you know.” Mary-Beth’s voice fell into a whisper as she leaned towards Eleanor. That was the only time she could offer the woman a smile. 

 

“I know.” She looked to Arthur who’s back was now turned to them as he struck up conversation with Hosea about the future of the gang and when they would be heading back west. “I love him, more than I have ever loved anyone before. And I am sure I will never love anyone as much as him after. Now, if you would excuse me,” she released Mary-Beth’s hand and grabbed the book Hosea left out for her as cover. “I have to pretend to read now.” 

 

Once they passed Rhodes, the rest of the ride went smooth. Together the four shared conversation. Mary-Beth wanted to know every detail of the future Eleanor and Arthur had planned for their future. The truth was they didn’t have much planned. Sure they could have their fantasies but until Eleanor was rescued and the gang was in the clear there wasn’t much of a future to be had. She would still maintain that what they were doing was romantic and that the gang needed more romance outside of the sordid, one sided love affair between Dutch and Molly.  When Mary-Beth wasn’t fawning over the romance of Arthur and Eleanor, Hosea was sharing tales with the girls. Arthur would chime in occasionally to correct a falsehood or add on to it. Sometimes he would say that he would never do something again when he had, in fact, done it several times since the first. 

 

As the city got closer, so did the stench of a polluted air and waters. People could like a city all they wanted, Eleanor still believed that they were the foulest smelling places on Earth. She had been to this particular city a few times. Whether it was to visit her mother’s grave or help her father pick up things for the farm, she would always hate that smell. And today, of all days, it was particularly bad. The city had been teaming with more denizens than usual due to the holiday. Every year the city would hold a parade, that Eleanor never attended, and fireworks, which she could see from the tallest hill in Scarlett Meadows. It was a spectacular site to see, but her father and step-mother would never take her and her step-sisters into the city on this day.

 

“Ain’t this marvelous?” Mary-Beth was in a state of awe as she looked at the grand houses on the cobbled streets of the nice part of the city. Her mind reeled with the treasures she could steal from these homes if she had the chance. It also reeled with ideas of what was happening within their walls. Perhaps there was a soiree for the holiday. Or someone was having a torrid affair with their employer. She bit her lip as she looked around. Eleanor couldn’t help but to smile. “And there are fireworks tonight?!”

 

“Every year.” Eleanor confirmed, smiling at the woman. The blonde looked around at the celebrations around her. Side streets were closed off in anticipation of those celebrating, the large manors were preparing for their own extravaganzas celebrating the day of American Independence. As Hosea pulled the wagon in front of the Hôtel de Saint Denis, Eleanor noticed that it was decked out in red, white, and blue bunting. She always thought this was a strange thing. Even in Rhodes for the Fourth of July, you would see the American flag and patriotic decorations. It was almost like the Civil War didn’t happen despite the attempts to return to life as it was before the war.

 

“Arthur,” Hosea said as he came down from the wagon to help the women out from the back. “Why don’t you stable the horses and we’ll meet you at the saloon for supper.”

 

“Sounds good.” Arthur confirmed, grabbing the reins as the women grabbed the suitcases and made their way into the hotel with Hosea. Once they were in the hotel, Arthur cracked the reins as he clicked his tongue. Cities were always a strange place to Arthur. When he was orphaned, it was where he went and it was where Dutch and Hosea had found him. He thought cities were too large. Sure, it was easy to get lost in them when you needed to blend in. Other than that though, there was no fresh air. No life. Just struggle to survive unless you are wealthy. It was those wealthy people Arthur Morgan felt disdain for. He would rob them blind if it meant that he could help the common man on the street. The American Way was messed up with their rules on who could succeed and who would die if they didn’t. Agent Milton and his ilk thought it was civilization. Arthur thought it was extermination of those the rich deemed unworthy. No where was that ideology more evident than in large cities. Arthur Morgan hated it.

 

-

 

“What does a woman have to do to get cocaine around here!?” A boisterous woman sitting in the corner of the Bastille Saloon called out as Arthur walked into the saloon. Just like any saloon anywhere he had been, this one had been filled with the local degenerates dressed in their finest. Some were playing poker, others were prostitutes preying on the wealthy, it was all the same. Scanning the room, he looked for his party. It was a quick find in the small, but crowded, space. They were seated near the bar rail, Eleanor looked uncomfortable as the woman went on about being injected with cocaine. Though, when she spotted Arthur, the little blonde lit up like, well, like a firework on the Fourth of July.

 

“Quite a spot, Hosea.” Arthur said as he took the seat between Eleanor and Mary-Beth, across from Hosea. The gunslinger looked around as he enjoyed the piano player vivaciously playing a ragtime tune. 

 

“We could probably have Mary-Beth pickpocket some of the men here.” Hosea smirked as two of the saloon girls came up to their table, each with a plate of prime rib in hand. “I thought we could indulge.” The man shrugged as the girls placed a plate in front of each of them. “This isn’t only a business trip, but a celebratory one. It’s not every day your son gets married.”

 

Je me demande qui épouse qui? ” One of the girls said as they placed another plate down. Eleanor kept her head down, cutting a piece of the meat in front of her.

 

Ce n'est pas la blonde. Elle a l'air trop misérable pour être mariée. ” The more exposed woman replied as the ladies of the night took a perch against the support beam near the table. Eleanor tried not to smile or laugh, so she could continue looking miserable. Arthur looked to her with a raised eyebrow as she placed a cut of meat in his mouth. 

 

“What's goin’ on?” He whispered, making sure only Eleanor could hear him.

 

“They’re talking about us.” She bit her lip in an attempt not to give away that she understood what they were saying. “They think I look too miserable to be a bride.” She slipped, giving him a knowing smile.

 

Ça ne me dérangerait pas de baiser le jeune. Il sait probablement ce qu'il fait. Je pense qu'il a une grosse bite. Vous pouvez voir comment il s'assoit. ” The more exposed one continued speaking to her friend as she looked Arthur up and down. Eleanor couldn’t contain her laughter as the woman openly mused about the size of Arthur and how she would like to fuck him. 

 

J'apprécierais si vous ne parliez pas de la taille de la bite de mon mari. Peut-être qu'à l'avenir, vous devriez être plus prudents dans ce que vous dites. Surtout à Saint Denis. ” Eleanor offered the women a smile as she cocked her head to the side. Despite telling the saloon girls off, her heart did stop at the fact that she would soon be able to call Arthur  her husband. It also amused her that she had to defend him since he didn’t have the slightest idea of what they had been saying. She noticed Hosea and Mary-Beth looking at her, stunned at the words that flew out of her mouth. Eleanor never got a chance to speak French in camp. This had been the first time either of them had heard the foreign words come from her outside of teaching Jack basic phrases. “ Maintenant, avancez. ” She looked at the women and nodded her head in the opposite direction. 

 

Misérable putain. ” One of them said under their breath as they walked away. Being called a miserable whore caused Eleanor to make an uncomfortable face as she took a sip of her beer.

 


“What just happened?” Mary-Beth looked at Eleanor with concern before looking at the two  women as they began to seduce someone at the poker table.

 

“They called me a miserable whore after talking about how they would like to sleep with Arthur. I just told them not to talk about my husband.” Eleanor shrugged as Mary-Beth gasped. Arthur felt a sense of pride that she was so willing to call him husband despite the fact that they weren’t even married yet.

 

“You understood all that?” Hosea was impressed with this untapped potential within their very gang. Perhaps when all this was over, he would have to just tell Arthur she was getting into some Saint Denis cons instead of asking.

 

“French is my first language.” She laughed gently as she gave Hosea her attention. “I didn’t learn English until I was five and in the schoolhouse.”

 

“You’re sure you want to hitch your wagon to Arthur’s. You may be too smart for him.” Hosea teased as Arthur nodded, having considered that fact several times in the last month.

 

“Someone’s gotta have the brains ‘round here.” Arthur admitted, a smile on his features. “‘Sides, I tried to tell her.”

 

“He did.” She smiled at Arthur as he took her hand and placed a kiss on it. Mary-Beth audibly sighed with a smile on her face.

 

“I’m sorry!” She giggled, placing her hands on her cheek. “It’s just so romantic!” Hosea was inclined to agree to some extent. He grabbed his bottle of beer and held it up to toast.

 

“To Mr. Morgan and the future Mrs. Morgan. May you know the happiness that has been elusive to the rest of us.” The four clinked their bottles together. 

 

“To happiness.” Eleanor replied with a smile.

 

-

 

Arthur saw it as a privilege to watch Eleanor undress. He did not have much experience in the way of women’s fashion, but now he could see how complicated it was. As he cleansed himself with the water in a basin, he could appreciate that simplicity that was men’s fashion. He dabbed the sponge against his neck as he thought about it. In order to get undressed, all Arthur or any man  of a simple nature had to do was remove their pants, unbutton their shirt, and there they were in simple cotton under things. In Arthur’s case, that left him in his drawers, especially in the heat of the bayou. It was the only relief from the heat along with the cool water in the basin.

 

Eleanor’s ritual was a bit more complicated. It was something Arthur could observe from the mirror on the wash basin. He watched as she removed her hat and let her honey blonde hair down from it’s pinned updo. He ran the sponge along his arm as he watched her remove the pale green jacket that was tailored to her corseted form. He prefered her without the constraining contraption that seems to bind all women. He continued to watch her as she unbuttoned the cuffs of her shirt before going down the front of it. She peeled the shirt off to reveal another layer before she even got the corset.

 

“You can’t be comfortable in all that.” Arthur turned around after placing the sponge back in the basin. Eleanor replied with a simple sigh and a head shake.

 

“I could do without the corset.” She began to fold the shirt to place it on a chair. She would wear the white, ruffled shirt once more the next day.  “Everythin’ else is fine.” She began to work on removing the corset cover, her cheeks turning a slight shade of pink as Arthur came behind her. He moved her hair away from her neck, kissing her pulse point as a means to distract her from the task. It didn’t matter that he had seen her in the nude and bathed her after Micah’s little stint, it was still a thrill. Maybe that would change once they were legal bound, but Eleanor doubted it.

 

“I like you without all that.” He whispered against her neck as she shrugged off the corset cover. She could feel the heat and the want build up in her as his fingers expertly unbuttoned her skirt. As it fell to the floor, he began to untie her corset or at least he tried. A frustrated grunt came from him as he worked on the knot that she no doubt made.

 

“Arthur….” Eleanor laughed gently, understanding that perhaps Mr. Morgan had not thrown many corsets to the floor before he met her.  He didn’t stop trying, pulling Eleanor back gently when she pulled away. “There’s an easier way.” She continued to laugh. When she didn’t feel his pull on her body, she turned around to show him the perks of the front closing corset. As miserable as corsets were, at least someone had the good sense to make them simpler. Once it was removed, she placed it with the shirt on the same chair. Arthur placed his hands on her waist, fully aware that the only thing keeping her from touching her skin was her thin, cotton shift.



“Does it hurt?” Arthur asked as his hands moved to her back so he could bring her closer to his body. 

 

“Sometimes.” She nodded as Arthur bunched up the material clinging to her form.

 

“May I?” Ever the gentleman, Arthur asked for permission despite having her multiple times. Even when they were man and wife he would probably still ask her permission in his quest to make her as comfortable as possible. Eleanor’s heart raced as she nodded, granting him permission to see her body for the first time since the night they spent in Valentine. This time, she knew it was going to have a different end result. They weren’t just going to fall asleep in each other’s arms. Arthur was gentle in removing the cotton shift, placing it on the chair she had already placed articles on. He admired her as she stood in just her white stockings and garter belt. The blush on her cheeks caused him to smile until he saw the markings on her body left by the corset.

 

“You sure it doesn’t hurt all the time?” The red marks and indentations on her body would say otherwise. He grazed his hand over the skin of her waist where the marks were more prominent. He hadn’t noticed this when he bathed her in Valentine. Perhaps it was because most of her body was hidden to him or he had waited too long.

 

“I’m used to it, I suppose.” She shrugged, watching Arthur’s eyes as they roamed over her naked body. She became painfully aware of the ache between her legs, a feeling that had become all too familiar with over the course of the past week. “It really only hurts when I tie it too tight.”

 

“I suggest that you stop doing that, Miss Beaumont.” His voice became low as he cupped one of her ample breasts. She bit her lip as he ran his thumb over its nipple. He smirked as he watched her reaction.

 

“You won’t be able to call me that for much longer.” She looked to him, lust filling her eyes as it filled her body. Arthur chuckled as he nodded.

 

“No, I won’t.” He leaned down to kiss her gently. It was a kiss she deepened as she wrapped her arms around him and pressed her naked body to his almost naked one. Taking the cue, Arthur bent down. He kept one arm around her waist while he gently grabbed her thigh. He guided it around his waist as he lifted her up. She happily complied as his lips left hers. “I think I’ll call ya ‘Mrs. Morgan’ every chance I get.” He smiled, laying her down on the bed.

 

“Mrs. Callahan in Rhodes.” She giggled as she pointed out the pseudonym  Arthur had used within her little town.

 

“I like Mrs. Morgan better.” Arthur smiled as he removed his drawers. Eleanor laid there for a moment, admiring the man in front of her for the first time as he stood there in all his glory. She had admired how life had sculpted him. As he grabbed her legs to pull her closer to the edge of the bed she stopped concentrating on his physique. Her heart began to race as he teased her with his tip, his eyes on her as she inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. He guided his tip from the top of her delicate folds to where he could enter her, thrusting himself into her at the second that he could. Her arched back and gentle moan urged him to continue, slowly at first. He could only concentrate on the warmth he felt surrounding him with those slow, lethargic strokes. Feeling the need to be closer to her, Arthur bent down and lifted her up once more. He supported her back with his arm around her waist while she wrapped her arms and legs around him. As she kissed the base of his neck, his strokes became more urgent. Eleanor’s finger tips dug into his back as she moaned. 

 

“Mr. Morgan….” She moaned as she leaned her hips to his on instinct. She wanted all of him inside of her. When she could form thoughts, which wasn’t at able to this very moment, she thought that he fit perfectly to her. She often heard women complain about their husbands and their lack of skill when it came to lovemaking. She had heard it so much that Eleanor anticipated it when it was time to join a marrying bed. She never imagined that she could feel this close to God while doing such an explicit act. Yet there she was in that moment, as Arthur brought her closer to her climax, she felt close to God. As her body stiffened and her toes curled, she held onto Arthur tighter. Her breathless moans matching his pleasure filled grunts as the came closer to their release.

 

With a quick thrust, Arthur grunted. He stayed in the spot for a moment, feeling his seed spill into the garden that was Eleanor Beaumont’s body. After one last thrust, he placed her on the bed. Her body shuddered as she felt him pull out of her, leaving her alone on the bed for a moment before he collapsed beside her. She took a deep breath in an attempt to steady her breathing as Arthur wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. She adjusted her body so that her back was to his chest. He gladly closed the distance and enjoyed the feeling of her body fitting against his. 

 

“You alright, Mrs. Morgan?” Arthur drew out the name, enjoying the way his mouth so easily formed the words. He kissed her shoulder as she nodded, a smile on her face as she closed her eyes.

 

“I couldn’t be better, Mr. Morgan.” She giggled, resting her hand on his as it rested on her stomach. Though Eleanor knew there were rough times coming, she was deciding to focus on the good things. This love was the best thing. It was what they were celebrating. She truly, couldn’t have been better. And she had Arthur Morgan to thank for this brief moment of pure love and happiness.

Chapter Text

 

July 5, 1899

Saint Denis, Lemoyne

 

“Weren’t you supposed to have a big, society wedding?” Mary-Beth Gaskill asked Eleanor as they rummaged through the factory made dresses in a local dress shop near the large estates within the city of Saint Denis. The question, understandably so, caught Eleanor off guard as she looked at a pure white dress. She put it back deciding that the white of the fabric would quickly become red due to the dirt in Scarlett Meadows.

 

“I was.”  She smiled softly at her companion as she watched Mary-Beth pocket a hair comb. The shopkeeper was oblivious. “It would have been in Caliga Hall with the richest folk in Lemoyne with the Braitwaites excluded.” She laughed, admiring a pink bodice that would perhaps fair better against the scarlet soil of Scarlett Meadows. “I don’t think it would have happened though.”

 

“How do you mean?” Mary-Beth asked as she looked over her shoulder to see if the keeper was looking. When she was sure he wasn’t, she pocketed a hair pin. “Weddin’ gift. Stop lookin’!” She giggled, giving Eleanor a gentle nudge.

 

“Just….” She sighed, she wasn’t satisfied with the selection in this shop. “We got engaged at Christmas. We had a date set for Valentine’s Day so we could be romantic, convince the town we were in love. But his daddy kept pushin’ the date back. And Joshua would never go against Tavish.” Eleanor’s eyes widened as she saw the price on a plain, black frock. “Everythin’ is so expensive….” She sighed, feeling defeated in the task of finding a practical, yet beautiful dress in which she could become Arthur’s wife that didn’t cost as much as a horse. However, this was Saint Denis and the likelihood of that happening was very slim. On top of feeling disappointment within the hunt, Eleanor was not feeling well. She blamed their meal from the previous night. It must have been obvious as she noticed the look of concern on Mary-Beth’s face.

 

“You alright, Elle? You’re lookin’ mighty pale.” She touched Eleanor’s elbow as the two got the old shopkeeper’s attention. “Keep him distracted and go with everything I say.” Eleanor nodded, her eyes going to the shopkeeper who was approaching them.

 

“Madame!” The shopkeeper looked alarm as he approached the two women. The older man placed an arm around Eleanor’s shoulder, his concern matching Mary-Beth’s. It didn’t help Eleanor’s worry nor the feeling of sickness in her stomach. “You do not look well at all!” The elderly man exclaimed, his French accent thick. “Would you like a chair? Perhaps the fainting couch?” Eleanor just looked at Mary-Beth who encouraged her to distract the man.  Eleanor groaned, a hand resting on her stomach.

 

Monsieur ….” She made her breathing heavy as he escorted her to a red fainting couch near a dressing room. “I am so sorry.” She shook her head as she raised a hand to cover her face, feeling slightly embarrassed that she appeared sick enough to warrant attention. 

 

“Do not worry, mon cherie ! The city has this effect on some feminine constitutions.” The old man continued as he grabbed a fan and circulated the air around Eleanor.

 

While the shopkeeper was distracted, Mary-Beth took it upon herself to grab a blue and green frock that she thought would have gone perfectly with Eleanor’s coloring. It was hidden amongst the pre-made items, she didn’t think it would be missed amongst the other finer things in the shop. She knew Eleanor would have prefered to pay for it, but Mary-Beth wanted to make the best out of the circumstances of their marriage. She knew that Arthur would have wanted to do things more traditionally and she was sure Eleanor would have wanted that as well. They had to make due though with this wedding of sorts. Plus, it would be a good excuse to have a good time, if just for one night.

 

“Lenore!” Mary-Beth called out using the variation of Eleanor’s name that once belonged to the blonde’s mother; a fact she had learned in a sewing circle. She looked for a garment bag over the counter as the shopkeeper kept his attention on the laid out blonde. “I’m gonna try and find your husband.” Mary-Beth had to hide her thrill at being able to call Arthur someone’s husband. She was working now. “You just sit tight.” She continued as she placed the frock in the bag , confident that the man was concentrating on her pale companion. Now, as she exited the shop, she had to remember what Hosea and Arthur said they were doing.

 

-

 

“Ain’t this gonna create a paper trail or something?” Arthur Morgan asked Hosea Matthews as he wrote his name in his elegant cursive across a line on a legal document. Hosea, and Arthur, were going to make this marriage as legitimate as possible so no one could contest the legality of the marriage of Arthur Morgan and Eleanor Beaumont. That included creating a bit of a paper trail. Hosea also thought that since all was not going well within the camp that perhaps this would offer Arthur a way out. Perhaps this could have been his second lease on life. With a wife and a child that certainly wouldn’t be far behind, this was Arthur’s opportunity. It was an opportunity for Arthur to live a long and happy life that he wished he’d had with Bessie. This action now was saving Eleanor’s life but it had the potential to save Arthur’s life too. That piece of paper would be Arthur Morgan’s ticket to greener pastures.

 

“Arthur,” Hosea started as he leaned against the marbled wall of the Saint Denis City Hall, “I think you need to think about leaving.” The older man said plainly as Arthur began to write Eleanor’s name down. 

“I ain’t leaving. “ He kept his eyes on the paper, contemplating what to put as his occupation. He had a feeling the great state of Lemoyne would not approve of an occupation relating to the gang. “You’re gettin’ too old and Dutch is gettin’ too reckless. Someone’s got to protect them who need protectin’.” Bounty hunter. He could put that. He’s done enough of that, he just didn’t have the license. He was sure he could get around that little fact.  “I ain’t just gon’ up and leave y’all with Micah Bell. He’s gone and takin’ Dutch’s ear. And Dutch ain’t the same man he used to be. He’s losing his way. I ain’t leaving yet.” He sighed, knowing that a day where he would have to take Eleanor away from this life. But he also knew that he couldn’t leave the group like John did.

 

“I won’t argue with you there.” Hosea peered over Arthur’s shoulder, observing what he was writing. “Bounty hunter, eh?” The older man chuckled.  Arthur looked up to the father figure with some annoyance.

 

“What would you have me put?”

 

“Being a bounty hunter isn’t financially stable enough for these people.” Hosea scoffed with a smile. His boy was a man but he still had a plethora of things to learn. “Say you work for Strauss. He’s right about his work being legal. You’re a debt collector.” Arthur paused for a moment and thought about it. Hosea was right. He scratched out the previous occupation and replaced it with Hosea’s suggestion. “Initial the crossout. Better safe than sorry.”

 

“Of course.” Arthur nodded, looking at the next line. He asked for Eleanor’s mother’s maiden name. He didn’t know. He wasn’t sure Eleanor even knew. “Uh, I don’t know this.” Arthur brought the paper to Hosea. 

 

“I’m sure if you put Eleanor’s last name down, it would suffice.” Hosea suggested. Arthur nodded as he went on filling out the paperwork. “Not much of it matters since they’ve all passed. Just fill it out the best you can.”

 

Hosea would have to think about how to convince Arhtur to take Eleanor and save themselves from the impending end of the Van der Linde gang. Hosea could smell the blood in the water from the moment Micah joined the group. He couldn’t understand what Dutch had seen in a man so reckless. He had tried to convince Hosea that some fresh ideas would be a good thing for the gang; that they would be able to continue their ongoing search for virgin land out west. However, as Hosea aged, he realized that the virgin west would soon become the civilized west. There was no stopping the march of time and rapid pace of modernity. Sooner or later, civilization would catch up. Sooner or later, they would be on the run again. This wasn’t a life for a man with a family.

 

“Be loyal to what matters, Arthur.” Hosea’s words caused Arthur to pause as he signed his name. Hosea and Dutch taught him about loyalty. They taught him many life lessons but loyalty had been a driving force, especially for Dutch. For more than twenty years, Arthur had been loyal to this gang. To the point where he still barbed John for abandoning them three years ago. He wasn’t loyal to the gang, his son, or the mother of his son. What kind of man would Arthur be if he turned around and abandoned the Martsons, Abigail, and the gang in favor of a life with Eleanor? She understood that he couldn’t abandon his family of misfits and outlaws. She embraced the fact that this was his family and she was okay with them becoming her family. At the same time, Arthur knew that he would have to leave the gang eventually. He and Eleanor had wanted a family. Life on the run was no place for a child. And if Eleanor did become pregnant with his child, at one point she wouldn’t be able to keep up with running.

 

“She’s gotta sign this….” The weight of what Hosea said was apparent on his face.

 

“Mary-Beth took her dress shopping. It can’t be too far.” Hosea pushed himself off the wall and adjusted his vest. “City’s big, but it isn’t that big. Let's go find them.” Arthur took the paper application and folded it so it could be placed in his pocket. They were about to leave when they saw Mary-Beth stroll into the hall, a garment bag in hand. A mixture of confusion and panic came over Arthur as he sped up his stride to meet the woman. She seemed to calm for anything bad to have happened, but that didn’t calm the nerves of the gunslinger.

 

“Oh!” She sounded almost pleased as she saw Hosea and Arthur advancing towards her. 

 

“Where’s Eleanor?” Hosea asked before Arthur could get the words out.

 

“Is she fine?” Arthur followed. Mary-Beth nodded, a small smile on her face at Arthur’s concern. She had been a woman in love with love and she adored seeing a man act like the men she read about in her books. 

 

“Of course, Arthur. She wasn’t feelin’ too well and the shopkeeper was fawnin’ over her. I got her dress and told her I’d be sendin’ you.” Mary-Beth smiled, feeling accomplished in the task.

 

“What do you mean she wasn’t feeling well?” Arthur pressed in an attempt to make sure it wasn’t something serious.  Eleanor had said she wasn’t feeling too well that morning, but he assumed it was a woman thing and not a serious thing. If the previous month had given him any indication, that time was coming. But he didn’t know her to look visibly ill.

 

“Oh, she just looked a little pale, is all. Like she was going to faint.” She shrugged, shaking her head not understanding the concern. “Probably just ate somethin’ that didn’t agree with her. Ain’t nothing to worry about, Arthur. But you should go and fetch her.”

 

“We’ll wait here for you, son.” Arthur nodded at Hosea’s direction. He would have to bring her here anyways to sign the paperwork so they could be legally married. 

 

“Where’s the shop.” Arthur asked Mary-Beth, who gladly repeated the way she came to find him. No knowing street names, it was the best she could do. When she was complete, Arthur tipped his hat towards her and began the rather quick trip from City Hall to the shop Mary-Beth had described. He understood that cities could not be as simple as towns such as Blackwater or Valentine, even. Arthur would happily settle in a settlement or maybe just outside of one. Layouts were simple there. In cities, the opposite was true. It seemed they would do anything to make streets of labyrinthine to accomodate more people. It was the idea of civilization at its finest.

 

When Arthur made it the dress shop, he noticed it was oddly quiet. The dresses remained untouched by curious hands and there was no man. Arthur was now expecting the worst. Until he heard Eleanor’s laughter. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. She was fine. Everything was fine. She was laughing. He followed the laughter to where tailor would work to make the frocks fitting to the wearer. Eleanor was laying on a crimson fainting couch while an older man spoke with his animated French. Arthur removed his hat as he entered the room, a smile on his face as he watched Eleanor’s face light up at whatever the man had been saying.

 

Et puis ça m'est venu! J'étais nue et la bête vient pour moi! ” The man made a gesture of placing horns on his head with his fingers. Arthur hadn’t the slightest idea what this man was talking about. Eleanor’s reaction may have hinted that it was a tall tale but she was entertained nonetheless. The gunslinger leaned against the door frame, noting a basin next to where her head would land. It appeared to be filled with vomit. Arthur’s concern grew, but it could have been a plethora of things. Besides, she seemed fine now. She didn’t appear to look as pale as Mary-Beth made her out to be. She was her normal pink color.

 

“My lady.” Arthur made his presence known by drawing out the two words. He watched as Eleanor’s green eyes lit up and her smile broadened. 

 

Monsieur Dion ,” She continued to smile as she held out her hands to Arthur. He gladly left his perch to take her small hands. “ Je voudrais présenter mon fiancé, Arthur Morgan. ” The gunslinger nodded his head at the mention of his name. He wondered if it was best to use his actual name as opposed to the Callahan surname, but he was sure there had to be a lot of Morgans in a city this big. And there was already proof that he was here. 

 

“This is Monsieur Dion .” She turned her attention to Arthur as the older man gave a bow. “He was just tellin’ me a store about how he ran into a big black bear when he first came here.”

 

“I thought your friend was getting your husband?” There was some confusion in the shopkeeper's voice as he looked between the pair. 

 

“He will be in two days.” Her smile never faltered as she looked up to Arthur. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

 

“Thanks for takin’ care of her mister.” Arthur nodded to Dion before turning back to Eleanor. “You feelin’ okay?”

“I’m fine. I don’t know why everyone is makin’ a big deal.” Eleanor blushed, knowing that Mary-Beth took the opportunity to steal something. She didn’t know what, but the opportunity was taken. She did vomit, which was evident by the basin, but she ultimately felt fine. Arthur ran his hand over her forehead to check to see if she had fever. It had been cool.

 

“Does she have a tea allergy? Or a milk allergy?” Eleanor rolled her eyes as Dion went on as if she wasn’t there now. He was a kind man, but he obviously prefered the decision making power of the man. “It seemed to have upset her stomach.” The man continued as Arthur looked to Eleanor with confusion. 

 

“I ain’t ever acted like this with anything.” She replied, sitting herself up in hopes that she would leave soon.

 

“Of course not,” Dion shook his head, watching as the brute assisted his lady to her feet. “Silly old me. You remind me of my dearly departed wife, Margot. She had hair your color.”

 

“That’s very kind of you.” Eleanor smiled at the man. “You’ve been very kind all around. Merci. ” Arthur and Eleanor were about to exit the room when Dion called after her.

 

Protégez votre enfant. Comme ta mère s'occupait de toi dans l'utérus. Ce sont des bénédictions de Dieu. ” He gave her a knowing smile as confusion clouded her mind. Arthur watched as it happened. Her bright smile faded quickly, her face almost becoming blank as she processed what he didn’t understand. “ Au revoir, tourtereaux.”

 

“What did he say?” Arthur asked as they stepped out into the streets of Saint Denis. It had clearly troubled the young blonde as she still had that blank look on her face.

 

“Nothing.” She reassured, the blank expression disappearing as quickly as it appeared. “Just a blessin’ for happy and healthy children in our marriage.” She stood on the tips of her toes to kiss his cheek. 

 

“Awful lot of words for something so simple.” Arthur observed as they began the walk to City Hall to finish the license and rejoin their group. 

 

“That’s French for you.” She shrugged, knowing full well that was not what the shop keeper had said. “It ain’t ever simple. Except to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

 

“Are you goin’ teach our kids all them pretty words?” Arthur chuckled as they strolled down the street and back to the Saint Denis City Hall. Eleanor thought for a moment. She loved the idea of them having kids, of them having a large family gathered around a fire as they told stories after a long day of work. It would be a wholesome way of life. One she didn’t think they would ever see.

 

“Maybe if we land someplace where they’d have to use it.” Eleanor looked up to Arthur as they waited for an opportunity to cross the street. 

 

“Where would you like to ‘land’? If we had the option.” Arthur continued as he guided her across the street and up the steps into the hall.

 

“Anywhere but here.”

Chapter Text

July 6, 1899

Saint Denis, Lemoyne

 

“Son, is there something you want to tell me about Eleanor?” Hosea had asked while pouring himself a cup of coffee from the percolator provided to the room by the hotel. Arthur had been telling Hosea about what he had seen at the dress shop: Eleanor laid out next to a basin of vomit with no signs of fever or any other signs of illness and the alleged aversion to tea the shopkeeper had mentioned. 

 

“Other than she’s a fool for hitchin’ her wagon to mine, no.” Arthur replied as he examined his freshly shaven face in the mirror. Not one knick, a sign of a good barber. Hosea dismissed the idea that Arthur wasn’t good enough for Eleanor. He was good enough and deserving of the love she offered him in return for the love he offered her. It reminded him of the love between him and his Bessie; a rare gift of calm in the chaos of life.

 

“She reminds me of Bessie.” Hosea sat down, blowing on his coffee to cool  it a bit from the fire before taking a sip. “We tried for kids once, you know.” 

 

“I did not.” Arthur shook his head, grabbing the peacock green vest. He sighed as he placed the clothing item around his broad body and began to button it. 

 

“We lost the child, of course.” Hosea sipped his coffee once more, remembering the sorrow the loss had caused. It had ultimately driven him and Bessie back to the gang. If they couldn’t have children of their own, at least they could have the young, impressionable Arthur to raise right. He had been a young adult at that point, but there were always lessons to be taught.

 

 “Anyways, I digress.” Hosea continued as he placed the cup down and approached Arthur to help him put on the frock coat that would match Eleanor’s dress as described by Mary-Beth. “Do you remember how much Bessie loved a good cup of tea?” Arthur nodded, letting the father figure dandy him up by straughing out the vest. It was a bit loose at the waist, but it would have to do. “When she got pregnant, it was the last thing she wanted.” The older man chuckled as he helped Arthur shrug on the dark, peacock blue frock coat. “If I recall, you didn’t spend much time around Eliza when she was pregnant.”

 

“No,” he sighed. It was one of the regrets in his life that he didn’t help Eliza more than she asked. He should have been there while she was pregnant, while Isaac was growing up. He should have made promises and kept them. Perhaps they would be here today if he had. He was sure Eleanor would love Isaac as her own. It hadn’t occurred to Arthur that they would have been close in age until that moment. Maybe he would have hated Arthur for falling in love with someone not much older than he was. But, perhaps, he wouldn’t have been marrying Eleanor if he made these decisions as a younger man. There were too many “What Ifs” and Arthur knew it. When it came to Isaac, though, he would forever think about those. He was a good kid who didn’t deserve to be dead over ten measly dollars.

 

“Women,” Hosea continued, interrupting his son’s thoughts about Isaacs and the “What Ifs” that tended to plague the gunslingers night’s before Eleanor came into his life. “They tend to get sick, early on.” When Bessie was pregnant, Hosea scoured city bookstores for any information he could find. It ended up to be a fruitless endeavor that turned into Bessie recalling stories her mother would tell her about her pregnancies. Between missed courses and sickness early on to the cravings for food, to the first time the baby moves; Hosea was fascinated with the miracle of life. “Do you know when her ‘womanly time’ starts?”

 

“Uh,” The question took Arthur by surprise. It was such a blunt question and not one he would expect to come from Hosea. He felt like that young man again, the one who had to have it explained to him how Isaac came to be when he learned of Eliza’s pregnancy. “In a couple of days, I think.” It had been the one week she hadn’t allowed him in the cot with her; shortly after their first kiss. He remembered it because he had complained about it to Abigail who informed him what the reason may be and to offer her chocolate. She voiced that it was adorable that he was so naive when it came to women despite being surrounded by them.

 

“If she is expecting, that’ll be good for her.” Hosea nodded as he took a seat on the edge of the bed. “If the marriage fails to protect her, a child will.” Arthur took a seat beside as disbelief filled him. He should have been more careful with Eleanor. He shouldn’t have been so willing to finish inside of her. But he threw caution into the wind by letting a primal urge cloud his judgement. They were going to have children, he knew. Like so many other things, however, it shouldn’t have been like this if she were, in fact, pregnant with his child. 

 

“I can’t lose her, Hosea.” Arthur’s mind filled with images of the two crosses outside of Eliza’s cabin. One for her and one for their young son. If the same fate were to befall Eleanor and the child she was supposedly carrying, he didn’t know how he would go on. Especially if it were at the hands of the Pinkertons or bounty hunters. Hosea patted the sullen man’s shoulder in reassurance. 

 

“Remember what I said.” Arthur paused, swallowing the truth behind the words Hosea had shared with him the previous day.

 

“Be loyal to what matters.”

 


 

 

During the last forty-eight hours, Eleanor and Mary-Beth had become closer. They were always kind within the camp, especially when they were doing chores together. But Eleanor always thought that Sadie and Abigail were her sisters in arms and Susan Grimshaw was their brood mother.  Mary-Beth, Karen, and Tilly had been kind, but of the women in the camp they were the ones who spent the most time outside of it when the other women were in it. Now that Mary-Beth had prepared her for her wedding day. The woman had taken great strides to take care of Eleanor that morning before they left the hotel room. She made sure Eleanor and her hair were washed and taken care of before allowing it to curl up beautifully in the bayou heat of Saint Denis.  While the women prepared, the men made sure the horses and their cargo were prepared to go back to Clemens Point. They had made a plan to meet in the lobby at noon so Hosea could force a photograph on the two soon-to-be newlyweds. It would be an additional gift along with the new tent setup that would offer the pair more privacy once they had a chance to rescue the blonde. Mary-Beth had some issues at the start given that Eleanor, once again, spent the majority of the morning not feeling well. With the bride not feeling well the day before and the continuation of it, Mary-Beth was unsure what to think. Perhaps it was just nerves. There was no doubt that weddings were nerve wracking under normal circumstances. And as romantic as it had been to help the pair prepare for their quick nuptials, she couldn’t imagine what was going through the mind of the lovebirds. Eleanor was set to be married not too long ago and Arthur had tried this once only to find disapproval with the father. They had both had engagements that didn’t result in a marriage. Now that a very, very brief engagement was turning into a marriage, there had to be nerves. That’s what had to be causing Eleanor issues. But the blonde was still happy as ever to let Mary-Beth twist her hair into a half updo and apply light makeup. She was a beautiful woman who was a beautiful bride made more beautiful by love. Mary-Beth couldn’t wait to experience that someday. There would be time for that later, she supposed. She had to focus on getting Eleanor out the door. 

 

As the women had been walking down the steps of the hotel, Hosea saw them. Eleanor would always remember the older man motioning for the younger one to look in their direction. All the primping and preening had become worth it when Eleanor saw Arthur’s face as she and Mary-Beth rejoined Hosea in the hotel lobby. The blonde wondered what was going on behind the stunned blue eyes of her lover as he watched her descend the stairs. She wondered if he was thinking the same thing as she was. That this was absolutely crazy, but she was in love with him. She wanted to marry him, carry his children, make a life with him, and, more importantly, she wanted to grow old with him. She didn’t want to imagine a life without him and she wouldn’t have to. Arthur Morgan was going to be her husband and she was going to be happy to be able to call herself his wife. They weren’t meant to meet, let alone get in married. But she was happy life had worked out like that. Especially as he took her hand and placed a kiss on the back of her hand when she and Mary-Beth reached the pair. The circumstances weren’t ideal, but Eleanor was happier than she could have ever imagined.

 

“You look….” Arthur scanned Eleanor with his ocean blue eyes. Despite everything, she still blushed as he admired her. “You always do, but….” His loss of words made Eleanor smile as she looked at the gunslinger.

 

Arthur found himself wishing they had the time for him to sketch the woman in front of him. As time went on and memory faded, that would have been a good way to remember this exact moment in his life. A moment he never thought he would live long enough to experience. In the span of a month, he went from thinking that he was just meant to die young like most outlaws and that there would be no one to mourn him to this woman who just loved him and was willing to face the world with him. He’ll forever wish that they could have done this on their terms. Like Eleanor, however, he was happy life had worked out the way it did.

 

“So do you.” The blonde giggled noticing that they were wearing the same colors. The bodice of the dress Mary-Beth had masterfully sewn to fit the blonde was a peacock blue which matched the fabric color of the frock coat Arthur had on. Her skirt was a similar shade of green with the blue accent where Arthur’s vest was only the peacock green tone. Somehow, their two companions had made this all work. “We match.” She stated the obvious, noting the blush on Arthur’s clean shaven face. The men had just been as busy as the women, it had seemed.

 

“Come on, you two.” Hosea said, breaking the tender moment between the two. He would be pleased as punch to let them continue in their own little world, but today demanded a schedule. After they got their photograph taken, they had their three and a half hour journey back to the camp, and then they would all celebrate the happy union before shipping Eleanor off to the Gray wolves of Rhodes.

 

“I’ve never had my picture taken before.” Eleanor was thrilled as Arthur offered her his arm. The statement caught him off guard as she took his arm and the group stepped out into the streets of Saint Denis. Even he had his picture taken.

 

“Me neither.” Mary-Beth admitted, her and Hosea walking ahead of the couple the short distance to the photographer’s studio. “No one ever cared enough to take a photograph of me.” Eleanor noted the sad sound in her voice before voicing her idea.

 

“Well, why don’t we have a photograph together?” She offered knowing it would please her companion. “You’re kinda my maid of honor, after all. We can take one together.” Eleanor smiled at Mary-Beth when she looked over her shoulder to the shorter blonde.

 

“I’d like that a lot.” She nodded, thankful for the new founded friendship between the two. This adventure had brought the two closer and Mary-Beth was thankful.

 


 

 

“Alright miss, I’ll just have you put your hand there.” The photographer said as he placed Eleanor’s hand on the back of a seat Arthur’s shoulder. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that today was the day. By the end of the day, Reverend Orville Swanson would be declaring Arthur Morgan and Eleanor Beaumont husband and wife. It wasn’t the wedding Eleanor had deserved, he thought that she deserved a grand affair with a proper dress and, perhaps, a proper groom. There may have been a day when he understood that she willingly chose him, willingly loved him. Today wasn’t that day despite what the celebration was going to be about. It was going to be about their love. Neither of them wanted to focus on the fact that it would keep her from the gallows. Eleanor especially wanted to push that thought out of her head as the photographer posed them. Instead she focused on the fact that she was marrying a man she loved. At the end of the day, that was all that mattered.

 

“I look ridiculous.” A freshly trimmed Arthur muttered as he rolled his eyes. Hosea had made sure that he was clean shaven and his hair was freshly coiffed. That he could handle. What made him feel ridiculous was the suit Hosea had wrestled up for the gunslinger to wear. It wasn’t anything extravagant but it was nicer than the clothing he wore though. Though the two had a matching color palette, Arthur thought that he looked like a damn peacock where she looked incredibly beautiful.

 

“You look very handsome.” Eleanor reassured as the photographer took a step back to make sure the setup was to his satisfaction. She was tempted to kiss the back of his pomade head, but decided that it would be for the best not to scandalize the poor, old photographer and his apprentice. 

 

“Alright miss, look down to him. And sir, you look up at your bride.” The idea of Arthur having a bride made him smile shyly. He looked over his shoulder in a manner that was comfortable and that allowed Eleanor’s hand to remain on his shoulder like the photographer had wanted. In the moment, she got lost in his eyes. Her heart began to race as the fact that they were going to be married very shortly became more real. She watched as his expression softened, his eyes somehow becoming bluer in the moment. It was the flash of the camera as the device captured the tender, raw moment. Another moment passed and Arthur took Eleanor’s hand to place a kiss on her palm, another moment caught by the photographer as she looked down to her soon to be husband with a large smile on her face. Mary-Beth sighed as she watched, a smile on her face as she touched Hosea’s arm.

 

“Ain’t they the sweetest?” She whispered to the older man who offered her his handkerchief to dab a way the joyful tears as they watched on. Hosea was inclined to agree as Arthur stood up from the chair and looked at Mary-Beth as he nodded.

“Go on.” Mary-Beth filled with joy as she happily took her place next to Eleanor. The apprentice removed the chair from the scene. Mary-Beth fussed with the shape of Eleanor’s skirt as the photographer prepared to take their photo.

 

“Thank you, for everything.” Eleanor smiled up to the taller woman as the photographer took one of Mary-Beth’s arms and placed it around Eleanor’s waist. “You’ve been...I’m very thankful for you, Mary-Beth.” The taller of the two grabbed the other’s arm gently, Eleanor merely crossed her body with one of her arms so her hand could rest on Mary-Beth’s. Another flash and another picture was taken. The two women embraced, Eleanor holding on for a moment longer than she probably should have but she didn’t know how else to show Mary-Beth her appreciation. “I’ll repay you someday. I promise.” She whispered before letting Mary-Beth go.

 

“Just be my maid of honor if the time should ever come.” Mary-Beth smiled, giving Eleanor a nod. 

 

“I think I can do that.” She wrinkled her nose as she nodded quickly. It would have been an honor for Eleanor to return the favor, especially since Mary-Beth did a lot to make sure Eleanor was perfect for the day.

 


 

July 6, 1899

Clemens Point, Lemoyne

 

The trip between Saint Denis and camp had been filled with laughter in a wagon crowded with two women, new supplies for the soon to be married couple, and supplies for the camp. Mainly from Hosea’s stories about the misadventures he had with his Bessie. Eleanor loved the way Hosea spoke about the woman he loved so dearly and had wanted to build a life with. It pained her that he did not get the chance to do so; that he fell back into this life when he felt he had nowhere to turn. There was gratitude that Dutch had welcomed back his partner with open arms, but she could tell that he would have been much happier ending his days beside his Bessie as opposed to with this band of misfits. The stories would end when they reach Rhodes, Eleanor once more hiding in plain sight as they rode past her old stomping grounds. She felt a pang in her stomach as the thought of having to return only to make a residence in the jail filled her mind. She had to wonder what was going to happen to her and if Arthur was only going to be espoused for the short period of twenty-four hours.

 

When they made their return to the campsite, they disembarked the wagon. Eleanor received a helping hand from Arthur as she took care to step down from the vehicle. The last thing she wanted to do was fall flat on her face and ruin the dress Mary-Beth had stolen from that kind man in Saint Denis. Within a moment, Little Jack found them with a crown of flowers in one hand and a single flower in the other.

“I made this for you Aunt Ellie!” The little boy said proudly as he presented the crown to her. She gladly took the crown of wildflowers and placed it on her head as Jack offered Arthur the single flower that matched one in the crown. “Momma says you have to put that where the button goes.” Arthur chuckled as he took the flower and placed it in a spot on his jacket where it would be secure.

 

“You’re a good kid, Jack.” He said as he tussled the young Marston’s brown hair. Pleased with their response, he ran back to his mother. It left the two alone for a moment as a few of the members bustled around. It only took a moment before the two were wrapped in an embrace. Arthur was careful not to place his head on her’s as he didn’t want to risk crushing Jack’s hard work.

 

“You still sure about this?” This would be the last time Arthur could ask this without the consequence of divorce, which he didn’t want. He wanted to be with her well into the new century. The question, thankfully caused his bride to laugh as she shook her head. “You know, there ain’t no turning back after Swanson married us.”

 

“This is the only thing that makes sense right now, Arthur.” She smiled against his peacock green vest. She closed her eyes as she took a deep breath. She inhaled the cologne that wasn’t his and the scent of fresh clothing. The return of his earthy scent mixed with tobacco wouldn’t come back soon enough.  “I told you. I’m livin’ or dyin’ as Mrs. Morgan.”

 

“Well, you best be livin’ then.” He pulled away slightly so he could place a chaste kiss on her thick lips. 

 

“That’s the plan, Mr. Morgan.” She whispered against his lips as she pulled away. Their hands instinctively found each other, their fingers lacing together on contact before they went to join the camp. It was strange for Arthur to see the camp in a state. They had had many celebrations. But they never have had a wedding. He wasn’t too sure if any of these folks, outside of Hosea, had actually been to a wedding. But the gang cleaned up well. They were trying to make it a special moment in a strange moment in time. He was grateful.

 

“You two aren’t supposed to be together!” Ms. Grimshaw cried out, spotting the soon to be wed couple. She approached them, stern as ever as she took Eleanor’s arm. “It’s bad luck.”

 

“We been together all day, Susan.” Arthur chuckled calling after her as she dragged Eleanor off to where the women of the camp slept. The mother of the group waved him off, leaving Arthur alone for the time being. Sighing, he scratched his neck and sauntered over to their tent. He sat on the cot, taking this final moment of silence before celebration began.

 

 Everything had changed so quickly in his life. One moment, him and Hosea were planning a scheme in Blackwater; a long game where they would have had to stay put for a while. The next, they were running for their lives to escape the mess that was the botched ferry job. Then Sadie joined them, Kernian too. Even the O’Driscoll had found a home within their ranks. Arthur barbed him, but he felt like their little stable boy was full Van der Linde now. Eleanor came shortly after that, turning his whole world upside down. Or right side up. He wasn’t quite sure if his world had been turned upside down by the events that occured before Eleanor came into their lives or if she had somehow made things right. He had only known that she gave him a purpose outside of surviving and being a workhorse. As he continued to contemplate the weeks that had passed, he removed the envelope with their pictures from his satchel. He placed it on the cot and took the frame that had been empty since he’d thrown Mary’s picture in the fire only a month ago. He took the photograph of him kissing Eleanor’s palm, his favorite in the series of three shots, into the frame. He placed the frame back on the create. Then he took the more formal picture and placed it in a spot between the planks of wood on the wagon, text to the picture of him, Hosea, and Dutch that was taken twenty years ago. The two photographs together were proof that he was aging. There were more lines on his face, the sun had made his hair lighter.

 

Be loyal to what matters echoed in his mind as he continued to examine the two photographs. It had once been simple to determine what had mattered to the gunslinger. It was Dutch, Hosea, the men who had rescued him from his life as a street urchin and an earlier grave. It was the men who raised him as their own son, showed them this way of life and promised him a life without rules. This family mattered to him. Be loyal to what matters . And he was loyal to Eleanor, as she was to him. He felt like he was betraying that loyalty by selling her out to the Greys for the sake of $100 and favor with that awful family. But he knew Dutch had a plan. He had followed Dutch this blindedly, why would his father figure lead him and his soon to be wife to slaughter? And if Hosea was right about his theory of Eleanor being pregnant given her recent aversion to tea and her two bouts of sickness that morning and the previous day. He claimed that Bessie displayed similar symptoms the one time they attempted to bring a child into the world. It was an attempt that ultimately resulted in the death of the child and Hosea and Bessie to rejoin the gang. If Eleanor was pregnant, where would that leave Arthur’s loyalty to the gang?

 

“My boy,” Dutch’s voice interrupted Arthur’s thoughts. He was thankful to be pulled from them. Especially to be brought to the task at hand. “I believe we’re ready.” The man smiled at his son as he stood up. “We’re set up by the lake.” Dutch continued speaking as Arthur followed him to a spot near the rotting dock. It seemed almost everyone had gathered together. Only person missing, besides Eleanor and Hosea, was Micah for which Arthtur was grateful. It was going to be a bittersweet evening without the commentary of the bastard.

 

“Mr. Morgan,” Reverend Swanson spoke with a sense of gravitas when Arthur joined him in the front of the crowd. The man suddenly felt simultaneously nervous and grateful. He was nervous because all the eyes would be on him and Eleanor; he understood the attention yet he still didn’t want it. At the sametime, he was grateful that this was the wedding life had dealt them. He couldn’t imagine a big affair. “I just wanted to say,” The reverend continued, “I am honored to be doing this for you and Eleanor.” Arthur could tell the man who struggled with his addictions was sincere. Arthur offered him a small smile and a nod. 

 

“We’re thankful to you for doing this.” He offered a rare, sincere comment to the man who’s hide he’d save more than souls the disgraced reverend had probably saved within his flock.

 

Now, while Arthur was contemplating his loyalty and what mattered to him, Eleanor was the subject of last minute preening. Tilly had offered the use of her mother’s veil, a relic of a life gone by and something she was able to take from her childhood home. Eleanor was thankful as Tilly removed the flower crown made by Jack to place the veil on her head. The crown was replaced to hold the veil in place. Karen has spent the day gathering wildflowers of Eleanor’s bouquet. The blonde felt her eyes brim with tears. This wasn’t the wedding she had expected when Joshua proposed to her all those months ago but this was the wedding she wanted. Simple, plain, and to someone she was in love with. The grandiose and lavish wedding that was promised to her by society paled in comparison to the love she was lavished with by these women and that man whose name she was taking.

 

“I told you! Mrs. Morgan!” Karen teased, handing the flowers over to her fellow blonde. “I knew it. The moment he went on that huntin’ trip.” She laughed, whiskey on her breath. “Didn’t think it’d happen this fast but here we are! Somethin’ to do and have fun!”

 

“Maybe you’ll be next!” Eleanor barbed, the response was a scoff from the tipsy blonde. “You’re catchin’ this thing.” She held up the bouquet . “And then we’ll be celebratin’ you and Sean.”

 

“He only loves me when he’s drunk.” Karen rolled her eyes as she grabbed a bottle of whiskey and took a swig. “Want some?” She held out the bottle to the bride.

 

“No, thank you.” She chuckled, knowing she would partake after she was a married woman. “I want to remember this.”

 

“Shit.” Karen laughed sadly. “I wish someone loved me as much as you and Arthur love each other.” Eleanor laughed gently, nodding as smoothed out the ruffles on the dress. She took a deep breath, quelling the wave of nausea that came over her as she adjusted the bodice slightly so it was more inline with the center of her body as Hosea joined them.

 

“Come on, let's get you and Arthur married.” Eleanor’s heart fluttered at that. For the thousandth time that day, she smiled brightly knowing that she was going to be Arthur’s wife. Hosea offered her arm and she took it, allowing him to lead her to the edge of Flat Iron Lake as the sun began to lower in the sky. As they got closer, she could hear Javier’s gentle guitar playing. Karen and Tilly rushed past them to join the others as they stood near. As they got closer, Eleanor spotted Arthur and they locked eyes. He was the only person that mattered at the moment. If she were being honest, he was the only person who mattered to her now. She offered him a smile through the veil, a tradition Mary-Beth insisted they observe despite everyone knowing Eleanor was not a virgin bride due to the state they found her in. Arthur gladly returned the smile as an overwhelming sense of pride filled him. He knew he hadn’t done much right in this life, certainly not enough to deserve Eleanor, but he was determined to do right by her. No matter what the cost. Hosea offered Eleanor’s hand to Arthur, which he took as Reverend Swanson opened his bible to start the ceremony.

 

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here this evening to celebrate the love of Arthur Morgan and Eleanor Henrietta Beaumont.” Reverend Swanson began, looking between the two. “We gather this evening to join these two in holy matrimony.” The emotional preacher could feel the tears in his eyes. He never thought this would be something he could for any member of this group, least of all Mr. Morgan. Yet there they were, completing the most simple ceremony that would allow these two to be bound together through their trials. “Does anyone have any objection to this union? If so, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

 

“Marry them already!” Sean called out causing the group to laugh. Swanson lost his place for a moment at the disruption. The flustered preacher continued once he found his place within the ceremony script.

 

“Arthur and Eleanor, if it is your desire to take the vows which legally unite you at this time, please respond: “It is.”

 

“It is.” The two said in unison, Arthur squeezing her hand gently as he looked from Swanson to her. 

 

“Do you, Arthur Morgan, take Eleanor Henrietta to be your lawfully wedded wife? From this day forward, to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?”

 

“I do.” Arthur’s voice softened as he kept his blue eyes on Eleanor’s green ones. Once more, he gave her hand a gentle squeeze as he took a mental image of the positively gleeful expression on her face. There was no mistake that while this was a marriage ceremony of convenience, it wasn’t going to be a marriage of such. He found himself happy that they were doing this now instead of waiting until the timing was right. If they had waited and gone through the proper courting practices, who knew if they would have actually been able to get married before one of them died.

 

“And do you, Eleanor Henrietta, take Arthur Morgan to be your lawfully wedded husband? From this day forward, to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?”

 

“I do. Of course, I do.” She laughed brightly, wrinkling her nose as she heard the sniffle of someone from the gang. It was then that her breath hitched in her throat to hold back a sob as tears filled with joy rolled down her cheeks. Despite the circumstances, she was incredibly happy at that moment.

 

“And who has the rings?” Swanson looked between the two in search of the gold bands.

 

“I do.” Dutch said, pulling a pair of gold wedding bands from his vest pocket and placing them on Swanson’s bible. The pair of rings were ones he kept when he thought he would marry Annabelle before Colm murdered her. He was thankful they would be put to good use.

 

“Arthur, take the ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me.” Swanson waited until Arthur had the smaller of the two rings in hand and began to slide the band on her ring fingers. “With this ring, I thee wed.” Arthur repeated the phrase, sliding the ring on Eleanor’s petite finger as he continued to look into her eyes. “Excellent. And Eleanor.” He gave her the same instruction, admiring how the two only had eyes for each other at that moment. Orville Swanson had officiated many weddings in his time as a man of the Cloth. This would probably be his favorite ceremony. He was biased, of course. But the idea that the Lord could bring these two together under the circumstances life had given him, made him believe in a God above once more. Who else could offer such a divine plan for such a pair. Orville only released he was staring when the pair broke their connection to stare at the crying preacher.

 

“Is that all?” Arthur asked, trying not to chuckle at the drug addicted man. 

 

“Oh.” Swanson took a deep breath to quell his emotion as he looked to the script that had been used in countless marriage ceremonies over the years. “In so much as the two of you consented together in holy wedlock and have witnessed the same before God and this company, by the power vested in me by the state of Lemoyne, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Mr. Morgan, you may now kiss your bride.” The gathered crowd cheered as Arthur bent down, moving the veil out of her face before wrapping his arms around Eleanor as they shared their first kiss as man and wife. As the two smiled into the kiss, Arthur lifted her up and spun her around. Breaking the kiss, she pressed his forehead to his as he held her close to his body.

 

“I love you.” She whispered so only he could hear as he set her down.

 

“I love you too, Mrs. Morgan.” Her heart fluttered again, her smile broadening as he kissed the tip of her nose.

 

“May I be the first to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Morgan!” Swanson declared through his own tears of happiness. He had done it. He had performed the ceremony without botching it and without the need of a morphine injection.

 

“Toss the bouquet!” Mary-Beth cheered causing Eleanor to laugh as she turned around. 

 

“Ready?” She looked over her shoulder, the men of the camp seperating from the women.

 

“Just throw it.” Karen said plainly, unamused by the tradition and what Eleanor had said about her catching it.

 

“Okay!” She giggled, turning to face the lake before tossing it. When she turned around, she noticed it hadn’t been Karen that caught it, but Abigail. She gave the woman a knowing nod before turning back to Arthur who delighted in kissing his wife. Meanwhile, Abigail looked down at the bouquet of wildflowers Jack had helped her collect. A tinge of sadness filled her as she looked up from the flowers to catch John’s eyes. She couldn’t read his expression, she only knew that he didn’t look away.

 

“Abigail.” He said as he approached her, Uncle grabbing a banjo to join Javier in providing music. 

 

“John.” She replied, unable to will herself to get her hopes up that one day he would be willing to do the same thing Eleanor and Arthur had just done. 

 

“They look really happy.” He nodded his head towards Eleanor and Arthur who were swaying to whatever slow tune Javier and Uncle chose to play. 

 

“They do.” She confirmed. All she wanted in that moment was to have John hold her, tell her that everything was going to be alright when she could sense that it wasn’t. She wanted them to be a real family; her, John, and Jack. “Do you think we ever had a chance?”

 

“Why do you love me?” John answered her question with a question. It caught Abigail off guard. 

 

“I guess I just do.” She shrugged as she answered the question. There was really no rhyme or reason as to why she loved the man who abandoned her and their son for a year. He gave her no reason to love him. But she would still welcome him into her bed and into her heart, no questions asked. She would never love another man the way she loved John Marsten. Even with the disappointment. “I don’t think we have control over such matters. I know you can’t love me, for whatever reasons you may have.” The curtness of her statement cut John deep. He did love her, he loved their boy. He just wasn’t sure how to show that love when no one ever showed it to him. 

 

“I do love you, Abigail.” He said, looking down before taking her hand. 

 

“Aside from the naggin’ and the whorin’ before Jack.” She scoffed, pulling her hand back. “You’ve said as much. I just….” She sighed heavily, shaking her head. “I just wish you would try for the boy. Do you really think Eleanor and Arthur are goin’ be here much longer? He needs to have normalcy, see what we didn’t.”

 

“Arthur ain’t goin’ anywhere.” John chuckled. Abigail merely shook her head.

 

“What do you think’s gonna happen when she gets pregnant? We have to prepare for him to leave. God help us when he does.” She put her hands on her hips, looking at John for an answer. “He gives you trouble because you left us. Not the gang. Your son and the mother of your child. When he leaves, he takes her with him. She won’t force him, she’s happy where he is.” Everything Abigail was saying rang true with John. If Arthur left, it wouldn’t be because he was running from being a husband and a father. It would be to protect his wife and his child, when the time came. John knew Arthur wouldn’t let what happened to Eliza and Isaac happen to Eleanor. “But when he leaves, when he abandons us, he won’t be abandoning his wife.”

 

“Abigail-”

 

“I don’t want to hear it, John. I just wish you would try for Jack.” With that, she left him standing on the lake shore to contemplate what Abigail had said. Would they soon be seeing a life without their enforcer? Would they survive without him? John knew the answers but didn’t want to think about them tonight. They were meant to be celebrating. Leaving the lake shore, he went to  create with bottles of whiskey. He grabbed one for himself and one for Arthur. He approached the two, no longer locked in a swaying embrace. Instead, they were around the campfire, singing “Rye Whiskey” with the lot. 

 

“Congratulations, brother.” John offered the bottle which Arthur took.  John stared at the fire as he took a swing from his own bottle.

 

“Looks like you’re next.” Eleanor teased from her spot on Arthur’s lap.

 

“I ain’t too sure about that.” John seemed sullen as the rest of the group went into another verse of the song. Arthur noted the tone and how John stared off..

 

“Ain’t we supposed to be celebratin’?” He eased Eleanor off of his lap as he stood up. He took a sip from the bottle as he looked at John. Eleanor in the meantime, took his spot and continued singing with the gang, her own bottle of beer in hand.  “C’mon.” Arthur supposed it was time to act like an older brother despite the fact that he was supposed to be celebrating his new wife.

 

“Abigail is comparin’ her and I to you and Eleanor.” John said as soon as they were out of earshot, up where Kieran tended the horses. “Sayin’ how I don’t love her. That you’re gonna leave the gang.” Anger was building in John’s voice as he became more hostile towards the words Abigail had told him.

 

“Whoa, calm down.” Arthur held his arms out, hoping it would keep some distance between them if John started swinging. “I ain’t leavin’.”

 

‘That’s what I said! Then she said somethin’ about Eleanor getting pregnant.” There was that word and idea again. The prospect of Eleanor being pregnant shook Arthur to the core, especially given the fact that they were about to send her to a lion’s den. 

 

“If I do leave the gang,” He kept his voice low in attempts to keep the conversation between them. He knew he would heed Hosea’s advice sooner rather than later. But like Hosea, he wanted to make sure things were lined up and that he wasn’t leaving the gang in a lurch of Pinkertons and bounty hunters. “It won’t be for a while. You think I’d leave Jack with Micah? Or the girls?”

 

“You sure he ain’t yours?” John took another sip as he asked Arthur the same question he had asked numerous times.

 

“I’m sure. That boy is Marsten with very little Roberts in him.’Sides, you know I ain’t never touched Abigail.” John nodded, knowing this was true. He also knew that Arthur was the one who stepped up when he was gone for that year. John guessed he should have been thankful that Arthur spent the first year of his son’s life raising him.

 

“Of course, I’m...I’m sorry.” He sighed, shaking his head as he sat next to the watchout fire. “What are you going to do when she gets pregnant?” John looked up to Arthur for answers.

 

“I don’t know.” He admitted, knowing that she very well may be at this very moment. “We have to deal with the Grays first and that whole mess before we can think about a future.”

 

“Fair enough.”

 


 

 

As the night wore on and the celebration was waning, Arthur found Eleanor standing at the edge of the lake. The fires were still raging, as they did. Most of the camp had fallen asleep with the exception of Uncle who sat alone at the fire, bottle in his hand. He stopped at their tent and grabbed their blanket before joining her and wrapping her in the blanket to shield her from the cool, late night air. He also wrapped his arms around her and rested his head on top of her’s. He pulled her close knowing that soon he was going to be without his bed partner and his best friend.

 

“I’m scared.” She broke the silence, keeping her voice to a whisper as she looked across the lake to the island with the shipwreck where they had made love for the first time. 

 

“We’re gonna get you out of there.” He reassured as he felt her hand rest on his. “You’ll only have to sit tight for a little while. And I’ll see you every day.” She smiled, grasping his hand.

 

“No.” As much as it would pain her not to see him, she knew that could lessen the effect of the ruse. “You have to make sure you play them like fiddles. Destroy ‘em from within.” She could feel the tears fall down her face. It was the first time that day that she was able to process what the next step was. This time tomorrow, she would be in a cell and waiting on judgement for a crime she didn’t commit. “Don’t let them get away with this. Get the gold so we can get out of here.” He felt her body shake as a sob came from her. He turned her around so he could hold her properly.

 

“I ain’t gonna let anything happen to you.” He whispered to the top of her blonde hair before giving it a kiss. “They’ll have to kill me before they get to you. You understand?” She nodded before resting her head on his chest. He twisted her hair around his fingers. “We’ll be alright Eleanor, you’ll see.”

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

July 11, 1899

 

It has been four days since I’ve last seen Eleanor Morgan. There have been rough weeks and months in my life, yet these days seem to be the hardest. I have grown used to sharing our cot, to her greeting me whenever I come back to camp. I don’t remember the world being this cold. Even with how hot Lemoyne is, there’s a chill without her here. I find myself hoping that I can find her workin’ in camp so I can tell her about Hosea and Fenton. I know she would enjoy that. There was also the fine mess with Uncle and that payroll robbery. Our continuin’ thievin’ of Leviticus Cornwall will land us in some fine trouble. More than we already are in.

 

I met what would have been her brother-in-law. Damn fool of a Gray and yet he’s probably the best of them. In love with a Braithwaite girl and just as Eleanor described him. A romantic, idealistic fool. His girl is much the same but more progressive, I suppose. They got me mixed up in some march for ‘Women’s Suffrage’. I say, let them vote. Anyone who is fool enough to think that votin’ matters in this country should be allowed to. It caused a fight in the town, not that I’m surprised. The place is as backwards as I’ve ever seen. Fighting women and callin’ Lenny and Tilly names that I won’t repeat. I got more sense than those idiots in Eleanor’s town and I ain’t got much of it. It makes me wonder how she became such a fine woman though.

 

I can’t wait until we can bust her out of there. Dutch thinks we give it another week before we try for the gold and save Eleanor. I just hope Gray keeps her there a bit longer and no judge comes along to sentence her. I may have this matter into my own hands.

 


 

July 7, 1899

Clemens Point

 

Arthur’s head was throbbing. The first sign of his hangover from the massive amounts of whiskey he had drunk in celebration of the marriage between Eleanor Beaumont and Arthur Morgan. He could remember most things from the previous evening. He could remember the vows they had exchanged, her smile when Swanson had pronounced them husband and wife; he could remember the conversation he had with John. The last thing he could remember was Eleanor’s hips grinding against his after he convinced her to come to bed. They didn’t care who was awake at that point to see them rutting like two animals in heat, though they tried to be discreet as possible given the way their tent was set up. Arthur was looking forward to setting up their new tent while she was gone. It would offer them the privacy they were denied. At the very least, they were able to set up the wider cot so that they could have more space. Though, as Arthur reached out to her, he questioned how much bigger this new cot was. He couldn’t feel her. Arthur opened his eyes slowly, wincing at the brightness of the sun in the morning light. He once again felt the spot where she was supposed to be and found himself disappointed that she was not in bed. Once his eyes adjusted to the light, he looked around the immediate area that he could assess from his vantage point. Pearson was making coffee, a few were sitting around the fire. It was almost as if they hadn’t had a wedding the previous night. It was business as usual. 

 

With Eleanor not within his sightlines, Arthur removed himself from the cot. It was then that he realized that he was only in his drawers and quickly put the dark blue pants that were thrown off in haste at the promise of feeling himself inside of Eleanor, not as her lover but as her husband. As he stepped out of the tent, he rubbed his eyes and looked around once again. Still, there was no sign of her. Knowing she wasn’t there, he then turned to look for her at the lake. Within a second, he noticed a small figure standing at the edge of the lake. It was almost like she didn’t move from the previous evening. Grabbing the white shirt he had worn, he shrugged it on and made his way to the figure. He took in the sight of her as he got closer, committing to memory the way her honey hair looked in the early morning sun of Lemoyne, it almost looked like strands of gold.  He would also commit the way her mother’s shawl  and her hair seemed to flutter like wings with the breeze off of the lake to his memory. After this afternoon, he wasn’t sure when he would be able to see her again. It broke his heart.

 

“Mornin’, Mrs. Morgan.” He said gingerly as he got within arm’s reach of her. He was able to observe the small smile that formed on her features, replacing the blank look on her face. 

 

“Mr. Morgan.” She gave him a side glance as he wrapped an arm around her. A heavy sigh came from her as she leaned her body against Arthur’s, tears threatening her eyes knowing that this would be one of the last times she would feel his closeness for a while. “This is supposed to be the best morning of my life.” She laughed sadly, keeping her eyes trained at the island ahead of them. “I woke up as your wife. And I’m so sad because I won’t be able to be your wife right away.”

 

“Hey,” He placed his finger under her chin so he could make her look at him. “You’re Eleanor Morgan now.” That fact caused her to smile. “Whether you’re in camp or in a jail cell, you’re still gunna be Eleanor Morgan. They ain’t gonna take that away from you. We got plenty of time to be husband and wife. We just gotta get through this first.” 

 

“Then it’ll be smooth sailing?” She questioned with a laugh, knowing that the course of life never ran smooth. “I don’t want to leave you.” Arthur closed the distance between them and placed a soft kiss on her lips. That was a sound that was sweet to his ear. She was the first person to ever admit that to him. It may have been true for others in his past, but Eleanor, his wife, was the first to vocalize it. Breaking the kiss, he placed a kiss on her forehead.

 

“I know, sweetheart.” His voice was soft in an attempt to calm whatever nerves Eleanor had about the situation as he pulled her closer. “You’re a….a survivor. You’ve gone and lived despite what those men wanted to do to you. You already done impossible things, Eleanor. You ain’t gonna let some stuffy, rich folk take you down for something you didn’t even do.” He let her go, only so he could stand in front of her. He grasped her shoulders as he looked her in the eyes. “You’re a bonafide Van der Linde now! By marriage, of course.”

 

“Of course.” Eleanor laughed gently, the declaration pulling her out of the gloom for a moment.

 

“Van der Lindes, we survive.” He nodded, Eleanor following the movements of his head.”We don’t leave our own behind. I won’t leave my own behind. You’re also a Morgan now too. Best one I known since my momma.” He kissed her forehead once more before resting his forehead on her’s. “I’m not gonna let anything happen to you.” He whispered, his hands traveling from her shoulders to find her hands. As she laced their fingers together, he could feel the rings on her fingers; his momma’s, Bessie’s, and Annabelle’s, the three most important women in his youth were now symbols on the most important woman in his life.

 

“Come back to bed.” His voice was low and gruff as the tip of his nose grazed her’s. “I wanna hold my wife for as long as I can.”

 


 

 

As the sun reached its highest point in its path, Eleanor prepared for her time back with the Grays. She wouldn’t need much in the physical sense, but she needed her wits about her. She wasn’t the wife of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and wanted man. Instead, she was the wife of Arthur Callahan, a factory worker who had a string of bad luck. Eleanor hadn’t been staying at Clemens Point with the rest of the gang. Instead, she was staying with his aunt out of state while Arthur and “Hoagy MacIntosh” looked for work. She paced back and forth in the confines of their tent as she trained her brain to remember those small details. They would do more than protect Arthur, they would protect the whole gang. One slip up and they could be riding to camp to arrest everyone or worse. One slip up and they could turn in Arthur for that $5000 bounty. She let out a breath she was holding in as she thought about the consequences if she should falter while in custody of Leigh Gray. She couldn’t fail them. She wasn’t allowed to. 

 

A wave of nausea suddenly came over her, causing her to run to the opposite of the wagon so she didn’t empty the contents of her stomach in the space where Arthur would sleep without her. Leaning her body against the wagon, she remembered what Monsieur Dion had said in the shop only two days: Protect your infant .  How could she protect something she wasn’t even sure was there? She touched her stomach at the thought. How could she protect something when she couldn’t even protect herself? She could have easily written off the sick feeling as nerves for the task she was about to undertake and what she was forced to face. Anyone would be nervous when it came to facing their own mortality. She supposed that she would find out in the next couple of days when her courses were due. Another wave came over her. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths to quell the feeling as she heard the sound of footsteps approaching her.

 

“I remember this.” Abigail Roberts placed her hand on Eleanor’s back, moving it in a circular motion against Eleanor’s white shirt waist to calm her friend. “Jack, he made me so sick early on.” The mother laughed gently as she offered Eleanor a cup of water. 

 

“Thank you.” The blonde gladly took it, taking a sip and swirling the water around her mouth before spitting it out. She wanted to get rid of the sour taste in her mouth. 

 

“Thought I was dyin’,” Abigail continued, “I’d do it again if I got a kid as good as him again.”

 

“I can’t be….” Eleanor shook her head, the hand on her stomach clenching the fabric over it. “They’re fixin’ to hang me….”

 

“There ain’t a jury or judge around who would let a pregnant woman swing.” Abigail pointed out, knowing a few murderous women at a cathouse or two who had killed the men who had gotten them pregnant and escaped the noose until the child was born. “Even if you ain’t, which you probably are, you tell them that. You’d be out of there before you’d start showin’. And we’ll be gone before that too. I hope.” 

 

“My mother died from childbirth.” Eleanor’s eyes studied the ground, the feeling of nausea hadn’t subsided. She took another deep breath and let out a shaky exhale. “Childbed fever. After losing my brothers and sisters.” That prospect shook her core as she lurched forward and vomited once more. Abigail, being the caretaker she was, continued rubbing Eleanor’s back. The blonde was now certain nerves were taking over her system. As her body shaked, she took another sip of water and repeated what she had done just a moment ago.

 

“Life ain’t always fair, but when it gets it right….” Abigail was interrupted by Arthur clearing his throat. Abigail looked over her shoulder to the man who looked almost small compared to his normal stature. She had never seen him like this before. He seemed afraid. He was clearly struggling with what he had to do today for the sake of the gang’s advances.

 

“We gotta go.” His voice was as small as his appearance. Eleanor nodded her head, wiping the corners of her mouth in the process. Before Eleanor went to follow Arthur to his horse, the two women shared an embrace. Arthur could have sworn he saw tears in Abigail’s eyes as she held her sister in arms as she sobbed into the taller woman’s shoulder.

 

“We’ll see each other soon.” Abigail promised as the blonde released her. Eleanor nodded once more. 

 

“I’ll meet you at the horses.” Arthur instructed. He watched as Eleanor grabbed her small satchel filled with a book and small trinket that belonged to her stepmother along with her mother’s shawl. “Everythin’ alright, Abigail?” The brunette woman looked at Arthur for a moment as she tried to decide whether or not she should share her suspicions. Deciding against it, as it wasn’t her thoughts to share, she shook her head.

 

“You better get her back.” Was all she said before pushing past Arthur to join Jack in whatever mischief he was getting in.

 

“Ain’t that the plan?” He called after her, shaking his head as he sighed before joining Eleanor and Hades. He regretted what he would have to do to her. That he would have to make her relive those weeks where she was constantly tied up and on the back of a horse. It pained him that he would have to cause her physical, and mental, pain.

 

“I’m sorry.” He said simply as he took the lasso out of his stachel. He watched as her bright green eyes darkened and widened with the realization of what he was about to do.

 

“No.” She shook her head, the tears that hadn’t subsided from her goodbye to Abigail falling as she did so. “Tell them I came peacefully. Please.” Her hands instinctively went to her uncovered and scarred wrist in an effort to protect them from a repeating history. “Arthur….Please….”

 

“What if I tie your elbows?” He asked in an attempt to find a solution where it would look like he was actually bringing her in. “You knew you’d have to look like a bounty being brought in.”

 

“Brought in by my husband! Not by some….some….some bounty hunter!” She countered, her hands traveling from her wrist to her elbows in an attempt to make her already small body smaller.  

 

“C’mon, Eleanor.” There was defeat in his voice. He didn’t want to do this either, but he knew it was something that had to be done so that Leigh Gray would buy the illusion they were selling. “You knew-”

 

“You can take me in peacefully.” Her voice was flat as she stared at her husband, almost daring him to take her down. “I surrendered and didn’t put up a fight.” Arthur sighed as he put the lasso back in his satchel.

 

“Fine.” He said simply, placing his hand on her waist to place her on Hades before he mounted the stallion. He made sure she was placed securely between his arms before urging the horse to go forward. Before they reached the tree line and the main road, Eleanor looked up to Arthur easily from her side saddle position.

 

“Wait.” Arthur took Eleanor’s word as a hint to stop the black stallion. He brought the horse to a halt. She gingerly brought her body upright as her hand ran over the scars on his chin as she looked at his lips before looking into his eyes and allowing her hand to rest on his cheek. He closed the distance between them, they shared a brief and tender kiss. It would be the last until they came back for her. 

 

“I love you, Mrs. Morgan.” He spoke softly, knowing this would also be the last time during this time that he would be able to say it freely. 

 

“I love you too, Mr. Morgan.

 


 

 

“What have we here, Deputy Callahan?” Sheriff Leigh Gray stepped down from the porch in front of the sheriff’s office as Arthur rode up with Eleanor. The site of the blonde caused Leigh to grin as he realized who it was that Mr. Callahan brought to them. “Well, well, well. If it ain’t our little murderess.” There was a sick sense of amusement in Leigh’s voice as Arthur dismounted the horse and assisted Eleanor down. “How’d you find her?”

 

“Well,” Arthur sighed, trying to hide how distraught he was at the fact that he was giving Eleanor to this drunken fool. “She’s my wife.” Leigh’s jaw dropped as he processed Arthur’s statement.

 

“You wasted no time.” Leigh looked Eleanor up and down with some disgust. He was also impressed that she was able to get someone to agree to the bonds of marriage so quickly. Though, he always knew it was him and his brother, Tavish Gray, that stopped his nephew and this low class bitch from the marriage bed. “I believe I owe you money for bringing her in.” Leigh turned on his heel and went back into the office, the couple following him as Arthur kept Eleanor’s hands behind her back in a gentle grip.

 

“Woulda brought her in sooner.” Arthur spoke as they entered the office, guiding Eleanor to sit down in a chair. “She weren’t with me though. Kept her up in Kentucky while Hoagy and I looked for jobs.”

 

“You Hoagy’s whore too?” Arthur fought back the urge to knock Leigh out then and there as the sheriff looked at Eleanor. That would have ended the ruse though and who knew what would have happened. “You know the men she was with?” Arthur shook his head as the man placed the money on the desk. 

 

“She was alone when we found her.” While they were in an elaborate lie, Dutch had always told him to stick to the truth where applicable. He said it made the lie more believable. 

 

“You know what she was? When y’all got hitched?” Leigh kept his eyes on Arthur, trying to size him up. 

 

“Told us she was runnin’ from some trouble. Never mentioned what the trouble was though.” Eleanor tried not to look at Arthur. She was impressed with how easily he was able to do this as she struggled to keep quiet. “Then I saw that poster for her. Went up and got her. She came willingly.”

 

“Well, Miss Beaumont.” Arthur clenched his jaw in an attempt to stop himself from correcting the lawman. “I’m sorry….Mrs. Callahan.” His tone was mocking as he corrected himself. “That might buy you some time before we hang you.” He chuckled, pleased as punch that they were going to hang her soon. Eleanor’s face turned white as a sheet as she began to realize that their plan may not work.

 

“You can’t do that.” Arthur said with force in his voice.

 

“And why’s that, Mr. Callahan?” The sheriff kicked his feet up onto his desk as he looked at the gunslinger.

 

“You all have a law here. You can’t hang her without my permission and I don’t give it.” Arthur stated simply, trying to remember the word Hosea used as their defense. 

 

“You certainly do have a passion for the law. Mr. MacIntosh was right about that.” Leigh seemed impressed that Arthur was able to find and come up with that law from when Lemoyne experienced its first trial where a woman killed to protect her land. It was a precedent from a case before the war. A woman killed a man in cold blood and the jury looked to her husband as to what they should do. They wouldn’t allow them to hang his wife and the judge allowed that, granting that the husband had a right to the life of his wife as she was his property. Since then, no woman in Lemoyne had been put to death unless their husband willed it.

 

“Looks like you tricked this one into havin’ a soft spot for ya.” Leigh mocked. Arthur could feel his anger growing towards the fool of a man. He had to fight whatever urges he had to cause this man immense bodily harm. “Just like you tricked my nephew.” Eleanor looked down, her fingers absentmindedly fiddling with the rings on her finger, as Leigh kept his gaze on her. “Ain’t got no remorse, do you?” Before Eleanor could respond, Leigh stood up and grabbed the girl by her elbow. He roughly pulled her up and forced her into the lone jail cell within the office. He locked the cell up and returned to his desk. He pulled the reward money from a drawer in his desk and handed it off to Arthur. He nodded as he took the money and placed it in his satchel. 

 

“It’s best you be goin’ now.” The tone of Leigh’s voice told Arthur that it was more of a demand than a suggestion. Arthur looked from Leigh to Eleanor, her face pressed against the iron bars of her cell as she held onto them. At that moment, he felt useless. As he stepped out of the office, he could only remember what he promised to do only two months prior. He had vowed to protect her. And he was failing. Never mind the vows he took less than a day ago. Feeling the weight of broken promises on his shoulders, Arthur looked down as he grabbed Hades’s reins. Having decided to walk back to camp to clear his mind and focus on what was important to move forward. He had to hope that he would be able to hold his wife again soon.

 

That evening, Leigh Gray decided to pay his brother a visit at Calgia Hall. The sheriff of Rhodes felt a sense of pride as his horse trotted onto the plantation estate that his older brother ran. His plan had worked. In a desperate attempt to make things right with his brother in regards to the accidental murder of his nephew, Leigh had put a bounty out on Eleanor Beaumont. He knew the men were riding north with her. And he knew Mr. Callahan, if that was his name, had been lying. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. At least, now, Leigh could make it right. As he approached the back of home, he saw his brother and his nephew, Beau taking part in a card game.

 

“Beau,” Leigh said as he approached the card table. “Will you give your father and I a minute.”

 

“We’re just about done.” Tavish Gray, the patriarch of the Gray family said as he laid his cards down. 

 

“You won again, Pa….” Beau Gray, the eldest son of Tavish, sounded defeated. 

 

“Maw just was never your game, son.” Tavish shook his head, knowing his son was useless at pretty much everything save for his painting. However, that was a useless skill if you were to run a business. “Why don’t you leave your uncle and I alone. Apparently we have business to discuss.” Beau nodded, gathering the cards before disappearing into the house. Once Leigh was sure his nephew was out of ear shot, he took the spot his nephew had occupied.

 

“I got her.” Leigh said with pride as he leaned back in his seat, sure he would receive praise from his older brother. Instead, he was met with confusion.

 

“Got who exactly, little brother?” Tavish took a sip of his brandy.

 

“That bitch. Eleanor Beaumont.” Tavish cast his eyes down into the amber liquid as he swirled it around. “She’s married to that Callahan feller I told you about. He ain’t gonna let her hang.”

 

“It won’t bring Joshua back.” The older man sighed, downing the rest of his beverage. “Your folly made sure of that.” Leigh’s pride was replaced with shame. “What good will her death do for us? She’s not marrying Joshua anymore. It’ll just cause another scandal for you. I won’t be able to save you from it.”

 

“Our people think she killed your son. You may not want to avenge him, but I’m sure his brothers will.” Tavish couldn’t argue Leigh’s point. Their bounty on the girl had sealed her fate within the Gray family ranks. Perhaps the Braithwaites would celebrate her for the hand she allegedly had in the death of a Gray. The ratio of Grays to Braithwaites within Scarlett Meadows did not bode in Eleanor’s favor, however.

 

“Somethin’ isn’t right about her story either, brother.” Leigh leaned in, keeping his voice low. “We know the raiders kidnapped her, took her north. Her husband said she was runnin’. The raiders wouldn’t have let her go.” Leigh pointed out, knowing the Lemoyne Raiders were not the type of men to just let a woman walk off. 

 

“Maybe they got sick of her.” Tavish suggested.

 

“You know they aren’t like that. They would have used her all up and then left her for dead.” Leigh countered, recalling a story they heard out of Saint Denis of a woman they had found dead near the fort. “I think we need to keep an eye on Arthur Callahan, Hoagy MacIntosh, that Bill feller who works with Hoagy. Somethin’ isn’t right with these yankees.” Tavish sat there for a moment, taking in all his idiot of a brother said. He’d yet to meet any of these men that Leigh spoke about, he’d been too busy keeping Beau away from Penelope Braithwaite. He had to go on his brother’s instincts. He was a goddamn fool of a sheriff, but he was usually right where something was off.

 

“Leave her there for a couple of days. Let Mr. Callahan think she’s safe.” Tavish advised, rolling his tumbler between his palms. “If it comes to it, we’ll use her as leverage against those men. Maybe we can see if she’ll confirm any suspicions you may have. We’ll keep her in the garden house over there.”  Tavish pointed to a small space that was enclosed just to the left of the house. It’s twin was to the right. It was where the gardners kept their tools for the little hedge maze specifically. 

 

“I don’t want you to hurt her.” Tavish added as he stood up and went to the beverage cart. He poured himself another glass of the brandy before returning to the card table. “My sons will take care of it if need be.” Leigh nodded, taking in his brother’s instructions before taking his leave.

 


 

 

July 11, 1899

Rhodes, Lemoyne

 

It had been four days since Eleanor had last felt the sun on her skin. Four days since she had last seen her husband. The first night had been the hardest. She had grown used to Arthur being right next to her as she fell asleep, the sounds of the camp in the evening, and, most of all, she missed the company within the camp itself. No one spoke to her here. She was invisible to Archibald and the other deputies. The days dragged on and the nights seemed longer. To further her worry, she felt like she was in a constant state of nausea and exhaustion. Her courses were now two days late and she prayed to any higher power that they would make themselves known sooner rather than later. While she would be happy to give Arthur as many children as he wanted, she had her concerns about the process and her current situation. While a child would be a blessing, she wasn’t quite ready for that blessing yet.

 

On the night of the fourth day, Leigh came to her cell and opened the door. Confusion and fear filled Eleanor as he placed her arms behind her back and put a set of irons on her wrist. Without a word he led her to the prison transport and she began to panic.

 

“What are you doing?!” She used whatever force she could to push back but he was stronger. “Where are you taking me?!” She felt the tears fall from her eyes as he forced her into the back of the wagon which resulted in her landing on her side against the hard wooden floor of the wagon.

 

“Tavish has a special accomodation for you, Mrs. Callahan.” That was the only information Leigh gave her before placing a padlock on the iron cage that now surrounded her. “Onward.” Leigh urged the draft horses forward as they began the journey between Rhodes and Calgia Hall. He looked over his shoulder to see the blonde still on the floor of the wagon. He knew she wouldn’t be able to pick herself up if she had her arms behind her back. “Why was your husband speakin’ to Beau today?” The question left Eleanor confused. How could she possibly know what Arthur was doing with Beau. She hadn’t seen him since he left her at the sheriff’s office. It was probably part of Dutch’s plan to toy with the two families, but Eleanor couldn’t (and wouldn’t) say for certain.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.” She answered truthfully. Leigh wasn’t satisfied with her answer. He was convinced there was some greater plot going on and Eleanor knew all about it.

 

“You’re tellin’ me that you don’t know what your husband was doing with Mrs. Calhoun and all those suffragettes?” He scoffed, turning his eyes back to the road. Eleanor remained silent as tears filled her eyes at the realization that Arthur wouldn’t know where she was. He wouldn’t be able to save her. Eleanor was alone now. Their plan had failed. When they reached Calgia Hall, Leigh grabbed her by her ankles to pull her closer to him before throwing the small woman over his shoulder. He carried her from the wagon to the shed which Tavish had deemed appropriate for her. While he didn’t toss her down to the ground, he didn’t exactly lay her down gently. He placed a set of irons attached to the stone wall around her legs before he released her hands.

 

“Do you know what my daddy did with this place before the war?” Eleanor shook her head as she pushed herself up and crawled to the wall. She wanted to place as much distance between her and the sheriff, which wasn’t much. “We kept the runaways here. Now, we’ll keep you here. We ain’t got legal grounds to hang you.” Eleanor stared up at the man who loomed over her. “You haven’t done a thing except burn down your farm.”

 

“Then why are you holding me?” She continued to look up at the man as tears began to roll down her cheeks. If they knew she didn’t do anything, what was the point of keeping her. Leigh took a moment. He could tell her everything now and let her suffer that way. Or he could hold it from her and drive her insane with worry.

 

“Why did you burn your farm down, Eleanor?” Leigh crouched down to her level, diverting the conversation from why she was being held captive.

 

“My family was dead and I couldn’t bury them.” Leigh smirked as he closed the distance. He used his thumb to remove a tear from her cheek. 

 

“And how did they die?”

 

“They were shot... In the head...” 

 

“You know, Scott’s always been a good shot.” He was referring to Scott Gray, his own son and Joshua’s cousin. “Iain too.” Eleanor was beginning to piece together what he was implying. Leigh laughed as he watched the thought process on her face. “Henri could never defend himself.”

 

“You batard!” She cried out, kicking him away from her. He simply replied by smacking her across the face. 

 

“Bitch!” The reaction caused a cut on her cheek due the wedding band on his hand. 

 

“Why?” Her voice was meek as she looked down. She could feel her blood mix with her tears.

 

“‘Cause you were supposed to die that night, missy.” Leigh revealed, standing over her and dusting the dirt off of him. Eleanor looked at him, confusion and pain in her eyes. “You survivin’ wasn’t part of the plan. Of course, Scott and Iain thought you planned the death and kidnap. Probably cause I told them that.” He shrugged nonchalantly, watching the cogs turn in Eleanor’s head as he revealed what happened to her family. “They took it upon themselves to make things right. Since they couldn’t kill you, they went after your family.” Eleanor pulled her legs to her chest as he continued detailing the day after she was kidnapped. “I heard Antoinette put up a fight. Scott had to have her before he shot her.” Leigh chuckled, knowing Eleanor more likely than not was also violated when she was among the Lemoyne Raiders. 

 

“Scott and Iain still wanna kill you, ya know?” Leigh continued. “But Tavish said we weren’t allowed to. You should thank him for that.” Eleanor kept her eyes trained on the weave of the kelly green fabric of her skirt as Leigh went on. “And we know your husband and Hoagy are up to something.” She didn’t react. She couldn’t. “Maybe we’ll make a widow out of you yet. Then you can join your husband and your family.”

Chapter Text

From the Journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

July 15, 1899

 

Something ain’t quite right. Nothing has been since Blackwater, but this town gets stranger every day. Same with its people. Especially the Grays and the Braithwaites. Tavish Gray is one of them. The strange feller was supposed to be Eleanor’s father-in-law. I can’t imagine she would have enjoyed his company, living in that big house with him. He had us steal the Braithwaites “prized horses”.  Made us look like prized idiots. There was some money in it, not the $5000 Tavish promised. Now Hosea wants me to meet him at the Braithwaites again. As if I ain’t got enough to worry about. With Eleanor in that cell, possibly expecting, and playing these two families… I can’t help feeling that we’re going to get burned.

 

(On the previous page is a very detailed drawing  of Eleanor on their wedding day, smiling with her flower crown)

 


 

 

July 16, 1899

Rhodes, Lemoyne

 

Eleanor had been right. As summer went on the state of Lemoyne became hotter. What didn’t help matters was the lack of rain Arthur had noticed. They had almost been here for a month and not once had it rained. As far as Arhtur could tell, this was the driest part of the state. Dust constantly swirled causing his typically blue shirts to have a light reddish hue. He was almost sure he had inhaled more dust in the last month than he had ever inhaled campfire smoke or smoke from a cigar or cigarette. That never stopped him from taking a trip into Rhodes every day that he could between travels. He couldn’t see Eleanor, it would have potentially ruined the plans that they had. Dutch was convinced it would cause the Grays to doubt his false loyalty to them if he did visit the cell often. Instead, Arthur would take to leaving a flower from wherever he had been in the small window of the cell. It was usually a chocolate daisy, those seemed to be abundant in New Hanover. And if he didn’t leave a flower, he would leave her a sketch of someone he had met or an animal he had seen. Today though, he was determined to see her. The sketches and the daisies had been piling up to the point Arthur had to collect them from the small window, so as to not cause suspicion, replacing them with new offerings. Arthur knew something wasn’t right, and he was going to find out what it was.

 

The sun hung low in the sky as he walked into the sheriff’s office, a beautiful red and yellow cigar orchid from the bayou in his satchel for his wife, he looked around. There was a deputy sitting at the desk, a man he didn’t recognize, his boots on the desk and his hat tipped forward over his eyes. The man was asleep. Across from him was an empty cell with no sign of Arthur’s wife. There was just a made up bed, undoubtedly done by Eleanor before she left. No sheriff or deputy would take the time to make a bed for the next inhabitant. Panic began to fill Arthur. Panic and rage. The latter took over as he went to the sleeping deputy and kicked the chair from underneath him. The man didn’t have a moment to register what had happened before the burly man grabbed him by his shirt collar, his fist pulled back and ready to swing if he didn’t get the information he was looking for.

 

“Where is she?!” The deputized gunslinger said through gritted teeth. This one action, if anyone else saw it, could tip off that Arthur was protective of his wife. The ruse would be up and they would have to flee to their next location without Eleanor; without a hint of where she may be so Arthur could save her and bring her to their makeshift home. 

 

“Where’s who, mister?” The man was just a kid, not much older than Lenny, with fear and confusion in his eyes as he looked up to the brute of man. “There ain’t been anyone here for almost a week!” It was an honest answer, Arthur could tell. At the same time, Arthur didn’t care. He swung at the man, his fist connecting with the side of the deputy’s face. The kid whimpered pathetically as Arthur tightened his grip on his shirt.

 

“Where is Eleanor Callahan?!” There was more force to Arthur’s voice as he shook the boy’s body. “I ain’t gonna ask again, boy!” Arthur brought his fist back, prepared to strike at the boy once more if he didn’t answer how Arthur wanted him to. 

 

“Please, mister!” The boy continued whimpering, cringing as he prepared for the next blow. “I don’t know nothin’ about an Eleanor! It’s my first day!” With a grunt, Arthur threw the boy to the ground. The deputized boy took a shaky breath, near to tears as Arthur tried to decide his next move. He had to tell Dutch. Or Hosea. One of them. First, he needed to deal with this runt. 

 

“You tell anyone I was here,” Arthur looked to the pathetic pile on the wooden floor of the office, “you tell anyone who I was lookin’ for, I’ll make you wish you were dead. You understand?” The crumpled up boy on the floor made a noise that sounded like a yes. Arthur left the office, unsatisfied and without much in the way of options. Mounting Hades, he urged the horse forward. He had to speak to Hosea. He would know what to do. Hosea always knew what to do.

 

As Hades galloped from Rhodes to Braithwaite Manor, the worst case scenarios ran through Arthur’s head. What if Eleanor was dead, killed by a Gray for the alleged crimes that she didn’t commit? What if they had sent her somewhere he would never find her? The panic resided as he got closer to manor; it was replaced with worry and dread. He felt like a failure once more. He continued to fail at protecting his wife. He could live with it just a week before, he knew where she was. If it came down to it, he could have stormed the sheriff’s office and taken her. Now, he didn’t know where she was. He wouldn’t be able to protect her if the chips were ever down. He was fearing that he would never see her again, and all because of a miscalculation on the parts of Dutch, Hosea, and himself. These thoughts continued as he made it the property line of the manor and was met by two guards.

 

“Hey fellers,” Arthur began, not waiting for the guards to address him as he brought Hades to a halt. “I have a meeting with Mrs. Braithwaite.” He was trying hard to hide his fear and worry. It was time to conduct business. But first, he would tell Hosea what he learned. “My associates are already here.” He informed the armed guards.

 

“Move along.” One the guards said, granting permission to the heartbroken gunslinger to make his way up to the large house. He had only one interaction before with Catherine Braitwaithe. She was an interesting old bat, she could step up to Hosea yet she still wasn’t a match for his wits. Arthur was sure this meeting was going to be another interesting task, setting them up to mess with Grays further. Arthur was ready to torch their residence and hope that Leigh was living in Caliga Hall. He was ready to murder that bastard for what he could have been doing to his beloved.

 

The door to the manor opened as Arthur dismounted from Hades. The plantation looked different in the twilight, somehow it was more menacing. He couldn’t imagine living in a place like this, with man servants opening the door. As he stepped across the threshold into the home, he nodded to the black servant who had opened the door for him and directed him to where he could find Mrs. Braithwaite and Hosea. The man opened the door, announcing Arthur before he closed the door behind him. It was a small group, consisting of what he assumed to Mrs. Braithwaites’s son and Sean. There was no way for Arthur to speak to Hosea privately before they moved on to business. Arthur sighed as Mrs. Braithwaite acknowledged him. It didn’t go unnoticed by the man who raised him.

 

“Hello, Arthur.” Hosea nodded to the enforced, a saucer with a cup of tea in hand. Arthur held back a groan of annoyance. There were more important things going on; stopping for tea with the Braithwaites did not fall under that category. A moment later, he confirmed that Arthur and Sean would be going to Caliga Hall. For what, Arthur didn’t know. It was a short visit on Arthur’s end, it would seem. But he was still determined to speak with Hosea nonetheless. Sean opened the door and began to leave. Arthur didn’t move.

 

“Hosea,” The somewhat soft tone caught not only Hosea off guard, but Mrs. Braithwaite as well. “I need to speak with you before Sean and I head out.”

 

“Go on.” Mrs. Braithwaite seemed almost amused that someone she thought was big and dumb showing an emotion other than brutish anger.

 

“My apologies, ma’am, this is a family matter.” Hosea nodded, placing his saucer down before he stood from the sofa.

 

“I believe he’s right, Catherine. Would you please excuse us?” Mrs. Braithwaite waved her hand as the three gentlemen stepped outside to the porch of the manor. “What is it, Arthur?”

 

“They got Eleanor.” His voice low so only Hosea and Sean could hear what was vexing him. “I went to Gray’s office and she was gone.” Hosea could sense the distress this was putting Arthur through. He would feel the same if this was his Bessie. They shouldn’t have brought her to the Grays like a lamb to slaughter. Now his adopted son was paying the emotional toll while Eleanor more likely than not was paying the physical price. “What if she’s dead.” He looked at Hosea in a way he’d only seen Arthur do on one other occasion: when he came back from Eliza and Isaac’s cabin all those years ago. Hosea knew if Eleanor was dead, this would break Arthur and drive him to a point of recklessness, a point of no return. He had to keep Arthur calm until they figured out what to do.

 

“Burn their damn tobacco tonight.” Hosea spoke with a steady anger. Sending her to them was his idea. The attempt to protect her from the hangman’s noose was all his idea. Much like Arthur, he would not be able to live with himself or the chain reaction of the girl’s death. He would never be able to look Arthur in the eye again or ask for his confidence if anything happened to her. “Tomorrow…..” Hosea had to think fast, he had to find a way to reassure Arthur everything in his power would be done to save the girl. “I’ll send Lenny over to them; have him  ask for a job or something. I’m sure he can find out something from someone.”

 

“If that don’t work?” Hosea wouldn’t blame Arthur for doubting his ideas. Not after this. 

 

“I’ll go.” Sean spoke up, looking at Arthur as he placed a hand on his shoulder. “They don’t know who I am, Arthur. I can get something.” Arthur groaned, knowing they would soon have to go and complete the chore for the Braithwaites. “If all goes well tonight and nothin’ happens with Lenny, I’ll go and talk to some of their men.” Arthur groaned as he ran his hands through his hair.

 

“Forgive me if I don’t trust my wife’s life in your hands. You’re better at robbin’ than you are at distractin’. And that ain’t sayin’ much.”  Arthur let his anger show. He liked Sean. Sean was a good kid. But this was Eleanor’s life they were discussing. It was a discussion for the more experienced of the gang. 

 

“I like Eleanor. I don’t want to see her harmed. ‘Specially not by some rich bastards.” Arthur could sense Sean was sincere. He was usually boastful and callous when it came to most things in life. Robberies and other jobs included. He was too green and it showed. With this statement, though, he showed a side that Arthur knew was there. The boy cared. And he cared enough to do right by Arthur. He cared like a little brother.

 

“Lenny will get information.” Hosea reassured. “As much as I hate to say it, he’s invisible here. A lesser being within the species, according to these people, just because he has darker skin than you and I. It’s an asset.” Arthur nodded. Hosea was right. This was the south, and he had heard Lenny and Tilly complaining about their treatment by the locals. Arthur had even managed to run into some fools in the forest, burning a cross and subsequently lighting one of themselves on fire in the process. Lemoyne was a strange place. “For now….” Hosea paused as he watched the demeanor in Arthur change. The fear and panic were still present in his eyes but his face showed anger.

 

“Lets burn some fuckin’ tobacco.”

 


 

A line was drawn on the ground. It was day four. Day four of being held in this place. Day four of being given scraps of food, enough to keep her from starving. Day four of little water. Day four of sharing a space with the vomit her body could produce when Eleanor was hit with a bout of morning sickness and other bodily fluids. It was day four of being in this enclosed space with the heat of summer, the only saving grace was the cool feeling of the stone when it got unbearably hot. Eleanor drew a line in the dirt, marking the day. A luxury that she hadn’t had when she kidnapped three months ago. The thoughts remained the same though: Was she going to survive this? Would Arthur know to mourn her? Would any member of the gang come looking for her? Or would they meet the same fate as her family?  Amongst all these questions, one thing was certain. She wouldn’t be able to call for help this time.

 

Towards the end of the day was when she would receive a visitor in her person. The last two days, it had been one of the house servants. They would open her new cell, give her a sympathetic look as they laid whatever was left from the early afternoon supper for the farm hands. Today was different though. Today, Beau Gray was the one who brought her food and water. The look was the same though as he placed the meal in front of her.

 

“Uncle says you killed Joshua.” He said simply as he placed a plate, abundant with food, in front of Eleanor. She had to be a site for her former friend. Her formally white shirt laid on the dirt as a makeshift pillow. It left her in only her corset cover, corset (which was digging into her skin as she began to bloat from her pregnancy), and her shift. One portion of her skirt laid on the ground next to it, acting as a blanket while the other portion laid in tatters with a small piece in one of her nostrils from bleeding after being smack by Leigh while he tried to gather information about Arthur and who he really was. When Eleanor remained silent, he would hit her. She wondered when he would leave her face alone and begin to hit her body. 

 

“I don’t believe him.” Eleanor released a breath as Beau sat across from her. His face twisted at the smell of the space his former classmate was confided in. “You ain’t got a mean bone in your body. Let alone a murderous one.” Tears fell from Eleanor’s eyes as he continued. From her spot on the ground, she could see that kind face of the idealistic fool. He would probably get a talking to for lingering.

 

“You have to help me.” Her voice was weak, she could tell. Weak from not speaking, weak from toll vomiting took on her throat; she was just weak. “Beau...Please. You have to find my husband and tell him where I’m at.”

 

“Pa said you got married. That you’re Mrs. Callahan now.” Beau sat in thought for a moment. He was angry when he first learned about his brother’s fate. People got shot all the time at the Parlour House, it was just the way of saloons. This time, it was his little brother. And the family was quick to blame Eleanor Beaumont. He knew they never approved his brother’s choice for a bride. They were all meant to marry their cousins to keep the money in the family and outsiders out. Beau and Joshua didn’t want that though. They would talk about it on their trail rides. Joshua knew about Penelope and how Beau intended on marrying her despite the fact that they came from feuding families. And Beau knew about Joshua’s intentions with Eleanor despite their family thinking she was from a no good, French family. None of that mattered to Joshua though. He loved Eleanor in his way, though Beau knew Joshua could never be in love with a woman. He supposed none of it mattered now though. Joshua was dead and Eleanor was married. He thought Eleanor was in love with Joshua despite everything; maybe he was wrong about her.

 

“I am.” She confirmed, holding up her left hand so Beau could see the wedding band. “That’s why you have to find my husband. You’re seein’ what your uncle does to me.” She let out a shaky breath. Beau merely shook his head. 

 

“Did you love Joshua?”

 

“Of course!” Eleanor nodded quickly, anxiety filling her body as she began to fiddle with her rings. “How could you say such a thing? I was goin’ to marry him, Beau.”

 

“Why did you marry your husband?”

 

“For the same reason you wanna marry Penelope.” She looked to him, her green eyes red from lack of sleep and crying. “I didn’t know him until after Joshua died and everything had happened. He saved me from men who were goin’ to kill me.” She sobbed as she looked at him. “The men who killed Joshua in front of me. I will always love Joshua, but I’m in love with Arthur.” She looked up, shaking her head. She bit her lip as another softer came from her. “And he doesn’t know where I am. If your uncle is going to kill for something I didn’t do, I want to say goodbye to my husband.” Beau sat quietly for a moment, contemplating all she had said. He had no power to help her. As she sat across from her, crying in her filth, he knew that he had no power to help her.

 

“Beau,” She was pleading now with her voice and with her eyes, “did they tell you Scott and Iain killed my family? Murdered them in our home in cold blood. You know nothin’ is goin’ bring Joshua back. Not more death. Please…. I just started livin’. I wanna live longer. I wanna have a life with Arthur. Please.” Her bottom lip quivered as tears fell from her eyes. 

“Ellie….” There was regret in Beau’s voice as he took her dirty hands. He looked down for a moment before looking up to her. “Can you tell me about Joshua’s last moments?” Eleanor nodded as she blinked back tears.

 

“Well, you know he was a big poker player.” She smiled softly, he returned it as he nodded. “He was playin’ against this fella who I guess they’d been going back and forth over wins the last couple of weeks before everything happened. He, uh, asked me to come along as his good luck charm.” She looked down, taking a deep breath before she continued. “He won, of course. Your brother was good at bluffin’.  And I thought the man who held a gun up to his head was a friend of that guy’s. Probably that he went around to towns and killed whoever beat him or took large sums of money.” Eleanor shrugged, shaking her head at herself. She was so foolish to think that it was about money in poker. “It was a large amount and….The last thing I remember of Joshua was…..”

 

“Go on….” Beau’s tone was soft as he continued to hold her hands  Eleanor took a deep breath, knowing this was one of the things that haunted her in her dreams.

 

“It was all slow like….Like time was stoppin’” Eleanor began to look off, concentrating on nothing at all.  “He looked like he had regrets. Then I got hit with a gun and the next thing I remember was screamin’ and thinkin’ I was going to die.”

 

“Then your Arthur showed up.” Eleanor nodded. “And you came back to burn your home?” Again, Eleanor nodded.

 

“We didn’t know if the men who took me had friends around. Arthur wanted to bury them. I decided to burn them.” It was probably going to be the biggest regret of her life. Her family should have been buried in Saint Denis, in their plot. “My Papa didn’t even give me away at my weddin’.” A sad laughter came from her as she shook her head.

 

“Would your daddy like this Arthur feller.” Eleanor looked to Beau and nodded with a sad smile.

 

“Would have loved him. He’s rough around the edges, and he says he ain’t a good man. But he’s the best man. Works hard. He’s kind with me, gentle.” She looked down to the ground. “I can’t imagine what’s goin’ through his head. If he even knows I ain’t in that cell.”

 

“Uncle says he turned you in?”

 

“We didn’t know it was a trap. We decided together to get the money. His….” She wasn’t sure what to call Hosea or Dutch in this situation without giving up more information. That was when she realized that she may have been giving up too much information and that Beau would tell his family everything. “You can’t tell your Pa or your uncle anything.” She looked up to Beau with some alarm in her eyes. “Promise me that.”

 

“I won’t breathe a word.” Her old friend offered her a smile while he squeezed her hand. “I swear on Penelope’s life.”

 

“Arthur’s daddy was plannin’ to break me out. Then your uncle brought me here. I think he has suspicions.” Beau confirmed that by nodding.

 

“Your husband is Arthur Callahan, right? Newcomer? I met him.” Eleanor smiled, Leigh had mentioned that fact.

 

“I know. I think that’s what tipped Leigh off, that somethin’ wasn’t right.”

 

“No….Some men came by here. They’re trackin’ a gang.” The blood drained from Eleanor’s face as Beau described a man who sounded like that Agent Milton fellow from the day they took Jack fishing. “Said they were lookin’ for a Dutch Van der Linde, Hosea Matthews, and Arthur Morgan….Is….Is your Arthur….?” Eleanor didn’t say a word or move an inch. “You don’t have to tell me Ellie. But I think y’all are in danger.”

 

“Beau….Please find my husb-” Suddenly, there was a large blast and a yellow color filled the space of the open door. Beau shot up from his spot on the ground and moved quickly to the door. 

 

“Woohoo!”  Eleanor heard the exclamation, the voice seeming familiar. It was distant, but she would know the Irish brogue  anywhere.

 

“Sean….” She whispered with realization. A small smile on her face. They had to be here to rescue here. Arthur figured it out somehow and they were here to save her.

 

“Holy hell….” Beau looked stunned as he looked off. “They’re burnin’ the field! Two fellas are burnin’ the field! They aren’t going to make it out of here.” He was in disbelief as a couple of the guards ran past him. One stopped to pull him away from the door and pushed him towards the house.

 

“Go on, Master Beau! We’ll take care of ‘em!” Beau didn’t get a chance to say goodbye before the door was slammed shut by the same guard. But it would be okay. At least Sean was here to get her. And she would be back within the camp by morning. Right? She continued to sit there as gunshots rang out. She knew there were two of her own but a lot of the Grays. If they survived this, they would have to leave. Find shelter elsewhere. And she would tell them about the Pinkertons poking around and asking about them. She grabbed what was left of her clothing and waited.

 

The smell of burning tobacco filled the air and came into Eleanor’s prison as the shots began to ring out. She began to worry about Sean and whoever else was with him and whether or not they would survive this. She was sure they could. Especially Sean. He had survived worse, after all. All she had to do was sit and wait. They would come for her. However, as silence came doubt came in. The fire fight ended just as quickly as it started. She leaned against the stone wall as she began to realize she wasn’t being saved. No one was coming for her.

Chapter Text

From the journal of Arthur Morgan:

 

July 20,1899

 

Lenny found Eleanor! She is alive. I feel like I breathe again. He went around asking about her some place around Caliga Hall….Hidden in plain sight. Smart kid that he is played dumb newcomer, saying he heard a tale about a woman who went on a rampage and killed a Gray boy. Someone who works in the field said they were keeping her in some place they kept runaway slaves near the house. He poked around, ran into Beau. He must have spoken to Eleanor as he was ready to give Lenny any information. Eleanor must have said something. Told Lenny that he was keeping her safe as he could, he was doing what he could for her. He may be a lovesick fool, but I am thankful for him.

 

 Dutch says we can’t rescue her yet, not until we have this supposed rebel gold. I sometimes  wonder if Dutch thinks we should cut her loose. At least Micah does and Micah seems to have Dutch’s ear. Enough to send us on a fool’s errand to make peace with the O’Driscoll’s based on something Pearson said. I do not have a good feeling about this.




 

Unknown Date

Unknown Location



Arthur should have been dead. The odds were stacked against him living much longer in any case. If the ride to this place didn’t kill him, the shot in the shoulder should have. If that didn’t do the job, whatever they were going to do to him was. As he hung upside down in this place, he wondered how it could have gone so wrong. One moment, he was scouting the so-called peace meeting and the next, he had the stock of a rifle forcefully being driven to his head. Then there was black. When he came to, the men of Colm O’Driscoll surrounded him. They stomped on his arm, kicked him, and punched him until he was rendered unconscious once more. When he woke up again, instead of the four men, it was two. They were distracted, conversing about how they were using him as a trap to get the law on Dutch and the gang. Arthur had attempted to escape. The reward for his risk was getting shot at. Once to bring him down and again, in the shoulder, to keep him down. There were a few moments when he wasn’t blacked out and could remember. He could remember a river and being taken off of the horse. Now, he was hanging from his ankles in some celler. Death was certainly on it’s way.

 

In the moment between regaining consciousness and the cellar door opening, Arthur’s life seemed to flash before his eyes. He saw moments with his mother before she passed. She would smile as she showed him different types of flowers in her garden. He saw his daddy swing, ending the life that needed to be ended long before that moment. The first time he saw Mary and how she was the most beautiful woman he had seen. That is, until he saw Eleanor. His mind continued to fill with moments, from the first time he saw Isaac and held his son in his arms to the way Eleanor looked just two weeks ago as Swanson married them. Those moments of joy in his rough and miserable life were interrupted by the sight of Colm O’Driscoll, tin bowl and lantern in hand as he made his way down to Arthur.

 

“Arthur Morgan….It’s good to see ya.” Arthur did not have the same sentiments.

 

“Hello, Colm.” Arthur managed under the strain. Colm continued the conversation, making note of Arthur’s wound and it being septic. Arthur became more aware that his death was imminent. He was either going to die at the hands of Colm or at the hands of the law. He was more certain it would be at the hands of the gang leader though. He was losing faith in the idea that Dutch would do anything to save him. After all, he had warned both Dutch and Micah that was a trap. Neither of them listened. Arthur listened as Colm continued to verbalize the plan for money by turning Dutch and the gang in to the law and then run to be forgotten. There was no forgetting though, Arthur knew that. Those men will probably go after every gang until their kind didn’t exist. The world didn’t want them anymore. Before Colm took his leave, he took the butt of his gun and beat Arthur, hitting him in the side and in the stomach. It knocked the wind out of the gunslinger.  And once again, he fell unconscious. The next moment there was sunlight, a chill running down his spine as he began to shiver. He knew he had a fever. If he survived this, which he wasn’t sure he would, the arm would probably be gone. Once more, he lost consciousness. This time though, it wasn’t black.

 

The sun was warm and beat on the back of his neck as he stood in a vast expanse of land. There were mountains on one side, a large body of water on the other. And in the middle there was a cozy. Arthur began to walk towards a house. There was a sense of curiosity and comfort as he approached a yellow door adorned with a wreath of orange and blue flowers. He cautiously opened the door, a sweet aroma of sugar cookies welcoming him into the space. This was a home. A home well lived in by the looks. There was a fire roaring in front of a sofa with a green knitted blanket over the back. Suddenly, he felt a crash against his leg followed by a tight grip around it. Arthur looked down to see what it was. It was a child with his face, looking up at him.

 

“Daddy’s back!” A voice came from a stairwell near the couch. The voice was soft, sweet, and belonged to a little girl who appeared to be older than the boy who had his arms around his leg. Arthur studied the girl’s face as she finished the journey to the bottom of the stairway. She had Eleanor’s curly hair but with his darker blond coloring and pulled back with a  yellow ribbon. To his surprise, she rushed towards him and wrapped her arms around his waist. Instinctively, he wrapped his arm around her. This was his daughter. The boy wrapped around his leg was his son.

 

“Beatrice and Henry Morgan….” He heard Eleanor’s voice coming from the stairwell, it was stern yet kind. His eyes moved from the two children to the woman stepping down the stairs. She was heavy with child and a baby on her hip. “Your daddy’s tired. Go and set the table.” She said as she took that last step, the little baby in her arms placed kisses on it’s mother’s cheeks which Eleanor gladly returned once both feet were firmly on the ground. The two children released him to go and follow their mother’s orders.

 

 “Hello, Mr. Morgan.” She smiled up to him as the little one reached out for him. He gladly took the babe, feeling the weight in his arms. “Looks like Hosea missed you too.”

 

“I, uh, missed you all.” He leaned down to place a kiss on Eleanor’s lips. The bump between them giving a swift kick that caused her to laugh gently as the kiss ended. He placed his hand on her belly, the baby kicking once more. It amazed him. Though, he shouldn’t have been. This was clearly their fourth child. This wouldn’t have been the first time he felt his child kick. Why was he so amazed by this?

 

“She missed you too.” Eleanor giggled, placing her hand over his. He looked over Eleanor’s shoulder and noticed the two kids sitting patiently, staring at nothing. He turned his attention back to the child that had been his arms. He stumbled backwards as the child disintegrated into ash, like he never existed. He looked to the kids at the table next, Beatrice and Henry were also a pile of ash, no longer existing. Arthur’s stomach dropped as his back connected with the wall. The world around him began to melt away, leaving only Eleanor in front of him. He looked at her in confusion. She was no longer pregnant, her flesh slowly beginning to melt away. It dripped onto the floor, creating a flesh colored puddle at her feet.

 

“Why did you leave me, Arthur?” Her voice echoed as if they were in a cave, the world now growing darker. The figure, which was beginning to look skeletal.  The figure held her arms out. Arthur couldn’t, nor would he, hold her. This wasn’t his wife. This wasn’t his Eleanor. “Why won’t you hold me?” Her voice changed from the sweet voice with the southern twang to almost a moan, like one would use when telling ghost stories around the campfire. The voice was sad, filled with sorrow. It filled his body with ice.

 

“You ain’t my Eleanor.” He said, voice low in terror as he stared at the figure. Suddenly, there was a blast. It sounded like gunfire, not like any gunfire he heard before though. It was like multiple guns had gone off at the same time, but slowly. It was like time had slowed as they went off one right after another. But it only came from one firearm. It came from the one that ripped through the skull of the skeletal figure, downing it. Stepping out of the smoke was the figure of Michah Bell, grinning as he holstered his gun.

 

“Heh, shame you couldn’t save her.” The figure’s voice echoed as it moved closer to Arthur. “Shame you can’t save anyone, cowpoke.” The figure circled around Arthur, chuckling as he did so. “Not your momma. Not your son. Or your whore.” The figure stood squarely in front of him, slightly hunched so that it was looking up at Arthur under the rim of his white hat. The stare was menacing, sending chills down Arthur’s spine. “Maybe I’ll go save your Eleanor. Show her what a real man is like. Of course, that’s after I make her a widow!’ The figure continued chuckling as he took his gun from the holster and brought the barrel to Arthur’s head. “Or maybe I’ll just wait for Colm to do that.” The figure then took the stock of his pistol and hit Arthur in the same spot on his side Colm had. Arthur’s body doubled over as the wind was knocked out of him. The figure of Micah followed the pattern of hits Colm made, taking on a different shape with each movement. First, Micah Bell, then Colm O’Driscoll, Leigh Gray, and, finally, Dutch Van der Linde. Arthur became smaller with each blow as the figure changed shape. After the fourth one, given by the shape of Dutch, he was no bigger than the son who was just sitting at a table before he was turned to ash. With the four blows, the figure grew larger as if he was absorbing Arthur’s size. “I’m going to crush you.” The figure said before he lifted his boot and crushed Arthur like he was just a bug.

 

Gasping, Arthur woke up from the fever dream. It took him a moment to remember where he was and what had just happened. He was cold, but his heart felt warm at the first half of his dream. It was his family; he had a family. And it was ripped away, turned to ash in a moment. He wasn’t going to let that happen. He knew Eleanor was alive. And he would see her again. He would get out of this mess.

 


 

 

July 24, 1899

Clemens Point

 

“Has anyone seen Arthur lately?” Mary-Beth asked as she put her book down. It had been four days since anyone had seen him. Before Eleanor joined them, it wasn’t uncommon for him to be gone for weeks at a time. In the last three months though, that changed. He would always try to be back in the back by sun down; he would always come back to her, no matter what. Mary-Beth could imagine that the last two weeks haven’t been easy on him. It was all so terribly romantic what he had done for Eleanor. Their whole relationship had been terribly romantic. And it was just to have it all ripped away.

 

“He’s probably working, looking for leads.” Karen took a sip of whiskey as she shrugged.

 

“Aren’t you all supposed to be lying low? After hitting the bank?” She lit a cigarette, leaning back against the wagon as she inhaled the smoke of the tobacco.

 

“Ain’t stopped him before.” Karen was right. She could remember the times they would hit stages and Arthur would advise everyone to stay low and make sure they weren’t followed. He would return maybe a week later with a better lead, more cash to contribute to the camp lockbox, or food for the camp. But, again, since Eleanor had been with them he hadn’t spent more than one day away. Mary-Beth took another drag of the cigarette before perking up. A slumped over figure was coming from the treeline. “Karen, grab your gun.” Why hadn’t anyone stopped this person from coming into the camp? Something strange was going on. As the figure fell from its horse, Mary-Beth gasped. She threw her cigarette to the ground as she ran to the figure. It took only a moment to register who was on the ground.

 

“Arthur?” She exclaimed, Karen right behind her. 

 

“Arthur?” Karen repeated as Mary-Beth fell to her knees. He was in bad shape. In nothing but his union suit, his left shoulder shot but the wound seemed to be cauterized. Mary-Beth looked to Karen as Dutch joined them in an attempt to find out what the commotion was. When he saw Arthur, it felt like he had swallowed a rock with how heavy his stomach became. This was his doing. If he would have listened to Arthur....

 

“I told you it was a set up, Dutch….” The man on the ground groaned, adding to the weight on Dutch’s shoulders.

 

“Miss Grimshaw!” Dutch called out, unable to hear what Arthur went through.

 

“I got away….” He said, groaning as his body shivered from the fever.

 

“Reverend Swanson!” Dutch called out for the preacher, he may have to give Arthur his last rites. Arthur was going to die and his wife wasn’t going to know it.

 

“They got me, but I got away….”

 

“That you did, my boy.” Dutch said, looking to Susan as she rushed over. “John! Lenny!” Dutch left Susan and the girls to take Arthur to his tent as John and Lenny joined Dutch. “You two, go get that girl. We’ll deal with the fall out later.” Lenny nodded, but as John went by Dutch caught his arm. “Don’t tell her what happened. You get her out of there and you do it quietly. You understand?”

 

“Yes, Dutch.” John nodded, quick to mount Old Boy to follow Lenny out of the camp towards Caliga Hall. As the hooves of the horses connected to the red soil of Scarlett Meadow in the moonlight, John tried to think of what they could do to get Eleanor off of the property. “You know where she’s at?” John called ahead to Lenny over the sound of the hooves beating the ground.

 

“Yeah! She’s in a shed, chained to a wall.” Lenny didn’t know how they were going to get her out without making noise. He knew one of them would have to carry her though. Last time he saw her, she looked weak. And she probably hadn’t walked since she had been brought to her cell in Calgia Hall. 

 

“They chained her to a god damn wall!?” John had done a lot of bad things in his life, things he wasn’t proud of. He would never think to chain anyone to a wall though. He couldn’t imagine the continued trauma this girl had gone through. And, if Arthur was as bad he looked, she might be losing her husband.

 

“We’ll have to go by the river!” Lenny gave the instruction as they moved through the darkness in the woods around Rhodes to get to the Kamassa River. John was thankfully Lenny knew where she was and what would be the best route. Before Arthur went missing, Hosea had Lenny do reconnaissance work into Eleanor’s whereabouts. It was an awful mess, like many things recently. Lenny pulled through though, finding out where she was exactly and if she was okay. “We’ll have to shoot the padlock too.”

 

“Can’t we do this quietly?” John asked as they reached the river, a private property sign and a white fence defining the property line of Caliga Hall. The look Lenny gave him as they dismounted told him that it wasn’t possible. “Then we better do this quick, huh?”

 

“Yeah.” Lenny nodded, patting Maggie on her neck as the mare bent down to graze on the grass. “If we stick to the water, we should be fine going in. They doubled security since Sean and Arthur burnt the field. Eleanor is near the house, so there’ll be guards on us pretty quickly once I shoot the lock off.” 

 

“You’re gonna do it?” John was surprised at Lenny’s plan. 

 

“You’re a better shot and I can sneak in. I blend, you don’t. I’ll just be another colored man to them. Some of them know you. A lot of things are unpredictable, but a racist isn’t one of them.” It was a fair point. It was one of the things John had observed in their weeks down here. It was hard for him to believe that they fought a war, lost, and changed nothing. The world was a strange place, the south seemed stranger. “Just watch my back.” John nodded in response as Lenny stepped away from his horse, the only gun on hand was his cattleman revolver. John was a little more prepared, but he knew he could toss a weapon to his comrade if needed. They moved quickly and stealthy along the banks of the river. Both of the men were marking spots where they could hide during the inevitable shootout. There were no illusions that Eleanor was going to be taken quietly. Thankfully, the river bank housed large, thick trees and any alligators they encountered would be frightened off by the sound of the gunfire.

 

“Alright,” Lenny began as he hid behind one of the last trees before there would be open spaces. “She’s in there.” He pointed to a circular stone building as John checked for guards. There were two right in front of the house, one to the back of the hedges, and one standing on top of the balcony. 

 

“You’re going to be exposed…” John pointed out the obvious, another guard making themselves known as they rounded the house.

“That’s what you’re here for.” Lenny smiled before sneaking off to the stone building, leaving John in the trees.. It wouldn’t be long until shots were fired. Whether it be because of the sight of Lenny or because of what he was about to do. With that in mind, John took the carbine repeater from his back and aimed it towards the man on the balcony. No one was going to get the higher ground.

 

“What are you doin’, boy?” John overhead one of the guards question Lenny as he approached Eleanor’s prison. The ever quick witted Lenny was quick to respond.

 

“I’m sorry,” he changed his voice, it was soft and apologetic. John had to keep himself from laughing knowing that the boy was not apologetic to any of these men. He was a conman, just like Hosea. “Mister Gray said I had to clean in there. Smells like shit it does.” John heard the man groan as he waved Lenny away. For a moment, there was nothing but the sounds of the river and crickets. It was peaceful. The calm before the storm. A moment later, he heard Lenny’s gunfire. John watched as there was some confusion amongst the guards but then shots fired as, John assumed, Lenny brought Eleanor out. John aimed for the man on the balcony and took him out quickly with a shot to the neck. He quickly got eyes on Lenny, noting that he was carrying Eleanor’s body. John concentrated on a man behind them, near the hedge.

 

“C’mon!” He called out, waving for Lenny to move faster. When he reached the tree line, Lenny placed the girl down. “Nice to see you.” John said between shots. 

 

“John…” Eleanor’s voice was weak as she spoke. She coughed as the men held off the guards. “Where’s Arthur?” She looked at John, watching as he shot down one of the Gray men.

 

“Back at camp. Can you walk?” John looked down at her for a moment. She was filthy, he could see it in the dark. She seemed frail as she shook her head. For Arthur, for his brother, he would kill these men. “We gotta get moving!” Taking down another guard, John threw his repeater over his shoulder before throwing Eleanor over his shoulder. How were they going to nurse her and Arthur through their injuries? How could they keep both of them alive? As they reached the horses, John put Eleanor on the saddle before he came up behind her. He didn’t trust that she was strong to hold herself up and they didn’t need her falling off the horse. If that happened and Arthur survived, John wouldn’t have heard the end of it. As they galloped from Caliga Hall to Clemens Point, John couldn’t help but think of what would have happened if he and Abigail were in this position. She would probably be grateful to be rid of him, even if it meant Jack wouldn’t have a father. She could trust Arthur to take care of her and the boy. He would have been devastated if anything happened to Abigail though. He knew he had to do better. If not for Abigail, then for Jack.

 

As they arrived back at the camp, they were welcomed by Charles. He took the girl from John’s horse, steadying her as she stood. In the light of the campfire, it became apparent the filth she had been living in for almost three weeks. She was dirtier than when they rescued her the first time and smelled as if she were a rotting corpse; he supposed anyone would if they were living in their shit. She didn’t look as thin as he’d expect her to though; at least it seemed as if they were feeding her something. 

 

“Two weeks and three days…” She whispered as Charles led her from the horses to the edge of the lake, her steps wobbly as she used her legs to walk for the first time in the three weeks since she had been imprisoned. Charles made sure to avoid the Morgan’s tent as they walked through the camp. She needed to be cleaned up and fed before she could face the reality that was her husband’s mortality. Mary-Beth was quick to join them once she noticed Eleanor was back in the camp. After grabbing some of Eleanor’s own clothes, she joined the two.

 

“I got it Charles.” The girl said, making sure Charles was gone and they were out of sight so Eleanor could step into the waters of Flat Iron Lake to rid herself of the filth and the smell. “It’s nice to see you, Eleanor.” She smiled, placing Eleanor’s clothing on a log. The blonde smiled softly as she stepped into the water, feeling the coolness of the water. She breathed a sigh of relief as she took some water and let it wash over the skin of her arm. Eleanor’s legs gave out under her a moment later, causing her to laugh brightly. It felt good to laugh, to feel some sort of joy.

 

“Mary-Beth, join me!” Eleanor continued to laugh brightly as she sat in the water. She dipped her hair into the cool waters and felt freed. “It feels so good.” She sighed once more as Mary-Beth looked on. John and Lenny clearly hadn’t told her about Arthur and the state he was in. 

 

“Why don’t you clean up?” The young romantic encouraged her friend gently, hoping she didn’t have to break the news about Arthur. “Then we’ll get you some food.” Eleanor nodded, splashing her face with water before scrubbing the dirt away. She splashed her face with water once more before working on her hair. While Eleanor cleaned up, Mary-Beth sat next to the blonde’s clothing, wondering when it would be the best time to tell her about what transpired between the O’Driscoll’s and Arthur or how Arthur was experiencing a fever from his gunshot wound. When Eleanor was done bathing, Mary-Beth held up a cloth to shield her from any prying eyes as she got rid of the underthings she bathed in. When Eleanor was dressed in one of her leaf colored skirts, a white shirt, and a brown vest in lieu of a corset, she and Mary-Beth walked to rejoin the camp. Eleanor braided her wet hair as they walked towards the stew pot; she was enjoying the feeling of bare feet in the grass and soil and the freedom of not being in a corset.

 

“Did they feed you?” Mary-Beth asked as they walked in an attempt to distract a wife from the fact that her husband did not welcome her back. 

 

“They didn’t.” Eleanor shook her head, having only received scraps while in captivity. “Beau however….You’d like him.” Eleanor smiled at Mary-Beth. He was the only good Gray now. “He’s very romantic. I’m sorry you’ll never meet him. Anyways,” she laughed gently, taking a stew bowl from the clean pile of dishes. “He gave me food when he could. Sometimes it was a lot, sometimes it wasn’t. He kept me alive.” She continued, grabbing stew from the pot. She took a bite of the first warm food she had since her wedding, when Pearson made a special meal out of venison for them. The food of Simon Pearson was never great, but boy did she miss it. She closed her eyes, savoring not the flavor but the warmth. When she opened her eyes, she noticed the concern in Mary-Beth for the first time, her gaze focused on something. Eleanor followed the gaze from John’s empty tent, to Dutch’s tent where he stood with his head in hands, and, finally, the tent she shared with Arthur. They had put up the large tent, the area no longer covered in simple canvas. It was a tent meant so that the married couple could have privacy, but at that moment, it was filled with commotion with two figures casting a shadow. Eleanor looked over to Mary-Beth, her heart racing as she realized that something was wrong. Arthur hadn’t been the one to take her away from the Grays. Arthur wasn’t there when she came back to the camp. Something wasn’t right.

 

“Mary-Beth…..” Eleanor’s eyes began to well up as she began to assume the worst.

 

“He’s alive.” Eleanor let out a shaky sob as she placed over her stomach, dropping the bowl of stew in the process. “He has a fever. One of the O’Driscolls shot his shoulder.” Mary-Beth continued, unable to look Eleanor in the eyes. “It ain’t lookin’ too good…” Eleanor didn’t wait another moment before she made her way to the tent, ignoring Dutch as he began to make apologies that she wasn’t interested in hearing. She stormed into the tent, the first thing she saw was Arthur’s red shoulder. The next, a pile of red rags, covered in his blood. Reverend Swanson was praying over his body as Susan Grimshaw dabbed a clean cloth on her husband’s forehead.

 

“Arthur….” She breathed, Susan looking up from Arthur to Eleanor. “When….” She looked to Ms. Grimshaw for any information. 

 

“He came back tonight.” She informed the man’s wife. “Dutch sent for you as soon as he did. In case….”

 

“In case he didn’t make it.” Eleanor finished the statement, a tear falling from her green eyes. She took a seat on the edge of the cot, watching Arthur as his eyes opened slightly as she placed her hand over his. His body was feeling hot to the touch.

 

“That really you?” He asked, his usually strong and gruff voice weakened by the events. “You ain’t gunna melt this time, are you?” Eleanor looked from Arthur to Susan with confusion. The older woman merely shrugged.

 

“I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Eleanor tried to smile to reassure her husband as she gave his hand a squeeze.

 

“Are you alright, Eleanor?” Susan’s tone was soft and maternal, a tone Eleanor knew was rare now. The girl shook her head as Grimshaw continued to dab the cloth on Arthur’s forehead. 

“How can I be?” She sighed, watching Arthur as his lips moved without a sound coming out of them. It was almost like he was reciting a prayer. “I was separated from y’all for three weeks. Almost starved. Somehow this baby survived.”

 

“Baby?” Grimshaw raised an eyebrow with a small smile. Eleanor nodded slowly, placing her hand on her stomach.

 

“I’m sorry Reverend, but my courses are two weeks late. I’ve been feeling sick for weeks…. You hear that Arhur?” Her voice became shaky, knowing that nothing would keep him on this Earth if it was his time to go. At least, if he had to pass on, he’d know that a piece of him could live on.

 

“A child is a blessing.” Reverend Swanson said with his slurred speech. Eleanor knew he probably wasn’t mentally prepared for the death of another member of the gang.

 

“We should leave you two alone.” Susan said, standing up to make room for Eleanor. It was uncertain if the young bride would soon become a young widow. The least any of them could do was leave them alone so they could be together. “I’ll bring you some more cloth and cool water.” Eleanor nodded, moving so she could kneel at the side of the cot as Grimshaw and Swanson left the tent. Once the two were gone, Eleanor took Arthur’s hand and kissed his knuckles.

 

“I had a dream….” Arthur opened his blue eyes to Eleanor who smiled down on him. “I was a daddy again.” He smiled sadly at her knowing that the dream quickly turned into a nightmare. “We had a home.”

 

“Shh….” She took her free hand and pushed his hair back. His fever became more apparent as her hand brushed against his forehead. “You’re goin’ to make it through this. And we’ll have a family. I just need you to fight, okay?”

 

“Whatever you say, Mrs. Morgan.”

Chapter Text

July 25, 1899

Clemens Point

 

No one ever told him anything. Whether it was why they left the last camp so quickly or why he couldn’t see his Uncle Arthur; no one told little Jack Marston a thing. All he was told was that they had to leave and quickly, both in the last camp and the one before, he left some toys there that he really loved and a book Uncle Hosea was using to teach him to leave. And now, he knew something was wrong with Uncle Arthur and that Aunt Ellie was back after she had been gone a really long time. It seemed like forever for the four year old since his Aunt Ellie picked him up for a dance when she married Uncle Arthur. No one told him anything, but he knew that things weren’t right. It caused a lot of frustration for the child as he attempted to understand this strange world around him where his family had to keep moving because of people like that bad man they met when Uncle Arthur and Aunt Ellie took him fishing. 

 

“Momma,” Jack began as he approached Abigail who was sitting down and taking a break from her day, “Can I have paper to draw?”

 

“Of course.” Abigail replied without hesitation, turning to their little bag to grab the boy a piece of loose paper and a pencil. “Whatchu going to draw?” The mother asked the son as he took the tools. He laid on his stomach and began drawing the sun and clouds the best he could.

 

“A picture for Uncle Arthur and Aunt Ellie. I wanna make them feel better.” Abigail couldn’t help but to smile as her son spoke plainly. They had all chosen this life, they all at one point or another decided to follow Dutch and his plan for a better life. Jack didn’t. He didn’t get to choose his parents and the situations their choices put him in. The boy deserved what any kid had. Loving parents, a home, and some stability. Something neither her nor John had.

 

“That’s real kind of you, Jack.” Despite everything going on, she could always be proud of the fact that Jack was kind and the sweetest boy. Abigail hoped that he would stay that way. She hoped that he would never have to do what the men in this gang do. “Promise me you’ll stay that way?” The little boy looked up from his drawing to his mother, confusion on the face that looked so much like John’s.

 

“What way, Momma?”

 

“The sweetest, kindest boy in the world.” Jack made a disapproving face at what his mother was trying to make him promise. “World needs more needs more kindness.”

 

“But gunslingers aren’t kind?” A month ago, during a reading lesson, the young Marston proclaimed that he was going to be a gunslinger. No doubt due to the influence of the men around him. Eventually, Abigail was going to get the notion out of his head. She wanted a better life for him. She wanted him to be a lawyer or a judge. She never wanted to see her boy at the end of a rope.

 

“Ain’t your Uncle Arthur kind?” At least she could use those very men to teach Jack some lessons.

 

“Uh huh!” Jack nodded, turning his attention back to the simple, stick figure drawings of Arthur and Eleanor.

 

“And Uncle Hosea is smart. You can be smart and kind. But you aren’t going to be a gunslinger.” There was a stern tone to her voice, one only that a mother knew how to do. It was kind, yet forceful; she didn’t want her son to resent her.

 

“Okay, Momma.” Jack groaned, pushing himself up from the red ground. He held up his drawing to his mother for approval. “Are they going to like it?” The mother smiled at the simple drawing of two stick figures smiling back at her, the sun was high in the drawing with clouds. It was like the picture he drew of her, John, and himself. A very simple drawing that meant more than that because of the intention behind it.

 

“Of course they are, baby.” She held onto her smile as the boy lit up from her approval. “Listen, Jack.” That light disappeared as her tone turned solemn. “Come here.” She held her arms open to her son. Reluctantly, he sat in her lap as he held on tightly to the picture. How could she explain to him that he couldn’t see Arthur just yet. “Somethin’ bad happened to Uncle Arthur.”

 

“I know.” The perceptive boy said looking from his mother to the drawing. “He isn’t going to die like Jenny or Davey, right Momma?” Abigail paused. She didn’t know how to answer that. She hadn’t seen Arthur or knew how bad it was. Just that he was shot and had a fever. At the very best, he would be fine. There would just be another scar. At the very worst, this wound would kill him if it was infected enough. It was still too soon to tell which way the wind was going to blow for Arthur Morgan.

 

“I don’t know, Jack.” That had been a hard thing for her to say as a mother. When it came to anyone else, she wasn’t going to sugarcoat anything. Working in the cat house made her a straight shooter, it was the only way any working girl could survive in that environment. With her son though, with a child she wanted to protect from the harshness of the world, she always found it difficult to tell him the truth when the truth wasn’t pleasant. At the same time, this also presented a perfect opportunity to show Jack what happened to gunslingers. “How about this. You stay here, I’ll see if Uncle Arthur and Aunt Ellie are awake. Okay?” The little boy lit up once more, nodding as he slid off his mother’s lap.

 

“Alright!” Jack said cheerfully as Abigail pushed herself off the ground. As she made her way to the Morgan’s tent, Eleanor stepped out, bucket in hand and glowing despite the bruise around her left eye and the yellowing bruise that traveled from one cheek over her nose to the other, undoubtedly from the family that kept her captive. Abigail had her suspicions before Hosea and Dutch made her leave for their own benefit, but now she knew that Eleanor had to be pregnant. Every pregnant woman she had ever worked with or met had that glow about her, including herself at one point. As Abigail followed Eleanor to the lake, she accepted that things were going to start changing quickly.

 

“Welcome back.” Abigail smiled gently as Eleanor dumped the undoubtedly hot water back into the lake. Why anyone would choose to live in this heat was beyond her. The blonde looked up to the brunette and merely smiled; Abigail noticed the dark circles under her eyes. She knew that Eleanor was probably more tired than usual, she knew she was when she was pregnant with Jack, and that Eleanor had probably not slept much due to her worrying over the invalid gunslinger.

 

‘It sure is nice to see you again, Abigail.” Eleanor continued to smile in the tired manner as she bent down and collected the cooled water from the lake. There was a moment of silence. Eleanor was too tired to think and Abigail just didn’t know what to say. “This is all a mess.” The blonde said flatly, her eyes trained on the small rolling waves of the Flat Iron. There was no emotion in her face, her eyes, or in her voices.

 

“It is.” Abigail nodded, keeping her eyes on the blonde. “I don’t know if it’ll get better. Want me to carry that?” She asked as Eleanor moved to lift the bucket filled with water. Eleanor was a strong woman, Abigail knew. She had been raised on a ranch and no doubtedly had been put to work as soon as she could walk and hold something. However, Eleanor was exhausted and Abigail wanted to help. Before Eleanor could answer Abigail took the bucket, noting the appreciation in her eyes. “You’re going to have to start accepting help. Lord knows Arthur won’t want you liftin’ a finger.” The women shared a laugh as they went back to the tent.

 

“If he makes it through this.” Eleanor sighed, trying to ignore the fact that Arthur may very well lose an arm and may not survive that.

 

“He will.” Abigail reassured. “It ain’t the first time he’s been shot. Won’t be the last. Not while he’s with us.” Eleanor knew Abigail had a point as she opened the tent canvas for Abigail to enter. What she saw shocked her. Arthur’s skin was flushed and clammy, the bandage around his right shoulder was slightly red with his blood, and his lips were chapped due to dehydration. But he was awake, staring up at the pitch of the tent. Abigail’s own blue eyes following Arthur’s to see what exactly he was staring at. It was the flower crown Jack had made for Eleanor when the pair got married.

 

“Hey, Arthur.” Abigail stood awkwardly at the entrance of the tent as Eleanor moved a chair out of the way to make room for her.

 

“Abigail.” He didn’t move, his eyes remaining trained on the wreath of local flora above his head.

 

“How you feelin’? She placed the bucket down near a chair Ms. Grimshaw had placed in the room. As she placed her hands on her hips as she looked him up and down. “‘Cause you look terrible.”

 

“Why, thank you Ms. Roberts,” his voice was weak and hoarse, “that was just what I needed. Remindin’ that I am made worse by my condition.” Abigail couldn’t help but giggle as she shook her head before turning to Eleanor. The blonde merely smiled and shrugged. She couldn’t control her husband’s tongue and she quite enjoyed how sharp it could be when he wanted to be a sarcastic grump. Especially now. It was a comfort to know that he was still sharp and aware. “Now, did you come in here to insult me or did you want something?” He looked up at Abigail, whose smile had fallen as she gave Arthur her attention.

 

“And here I thought love and marriage would soften you up.” The brunette shook her head as the blonde woman placed the back of her hand on Arthur’s forehead. 

 

“Gettin’ shot will do that to you.” He responded as Eleanor switch her hand from the back of it to her palm. Abigail watched as Arthur softened up under Eleanor’s touch. That hard demeanor disappeared the moment her skin touched his. “I was goin’ to ask if you wanted company, but I think you might need to rest.” She watched as Eleanor kissed Arthur’s forehead tenderly and his eyes closed at the loving action.

 

“I know I could use one.” Eleanor sat herself on the cot, Arthur grabbing her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. “I don’t think any amount of sleep could make him any less grumpy but it might help the fever.” Eleanor turned to face Arthur, wrinkling her nose in jest as he let out a small laugh with a shrug. Abigail couldn’t help but chuckle.

 

“I think you’re right, Mrs. Morgan.” Abigail shook her head, a smile back on her face. “Well, if you two are up for it, Jack has a gift for you two. We can bring you some stew later. Make sure no one else comes in.” Eleanor smiled at Abigail, nodding.

 

“I suppose that’d be nice.” Arthur sighed as he looked to Abigail. “Now, can I have some time with my wife? I ain’t seen her in weeks.”

 

“I’ll see you later then.” Abigail nodded, turning to exit the tent. No more than a second later, Arthur placed his left hand on Eleanor’s cheek. She leaned into the touch of his calloused hand, closing her eyes as he ran his thumb gently across her bruised cheek. He sighed as regret filled him. Arthur has placed his blind faith in Dutch and Hosea more times he could count. Usually, things went as they said it would and everything was fine. These last two times though, they fell into traps. They gave the Grays exactly what they wanted by turning Eleanor in for the bounty and their trust. They had clearly hit her, or else she wouldn’t have these bruises. She was gaunt, so they hadn’t been feeding her much. He thought for sure she would have been skinnier but he figured Beau Gray must have fed her along with keeping her safe. He owed Beau more than he ever thought he would. They also gave the O’Driscoll’s what they wanted as well, falling into their trap. It was bad. It could have been worse, however, if Arthur didn’t escape. If he gave into the fever or if his arm turned gangrenous and he died from that, at least the gang would be safe and Eleanor wouldn’t have been left alone in this cruel world.

 

“I shoulda known,” was all he said as she opened her green eyes to meet his blue ones. Much like his body, his eyes were also filled with regret. He moved his hand so he could graze the soft, bruised skin on the side of her face. Eleanor merely shook her head.

 

“It’s done.” She offered him a reassuring smile as his knuckles gently moved over her the flesh of her cheek down her neck and over her arm. “Besides, we have to make sure you get better.” Eleanor stood up to grab a cloth to soak in the cool water. After she wrung out the excess, she dabbed his forehead. “You need to drink something. And we need to change your bandage.”

 

“And you need to rest.” Arthur countered as he pushed himself up. A groan of pain escaped him as he applied more weight then he intended on his right arm.

 

“I’ll rest when your fever breaks.” Her tone was soft as she grabbed his canteen and offered it to him. He took it, knowing that any drink he had would have to be done slowly. The last time he had a sip of anything was before Dutch, Micah, and himself left to meet Colm. He couldn’t remember any of the O’Driscoll’s giving him water despite the need to keep him alive for a bit. 

 

As he slowly sipped the water, his eyes watched Eleanor as she unbuttoned her brown vest and knelt down to place it in their chest at the foot of the cot. In the weeks they hadn’t been together, Arthur hadn’t forgotten how beautiful she was or the way her hair tended to loosen itself from the braid she almost always had it in these days. He continued to watch her as she rummaged through the chest, those green eyes that reminded him of a bottle gin moving from one side to another in search of something. A small smile came to his face as those very eyes lit up as he assumed she found what she had been looking for. She closed the chest and placed the book on the chair before grabbing the bandages to change his out. He couldn’t watch her but he could feel her small hands methodically unwrapping the soiled bandages from his shoulder. When his wound was exposed to her, he heard her gasp softly. He was not meant to hear it.

 

“Am I going to lose it?” Arthur asked as he turned his head slightly to the side to gage her reaction.

 

“It’s just red. It doesn’t look infected, just...red, bruised.” He watched Eleanor as she took a step back. He could see the tears in her eyes. He knew she wasn’t going to let them fall, she was trying to be strong. And she was trying her hardest to hold back her tears. Her hands were shaking as she took a clean cloth and took the unmarked bottle of alcohol Ms. Grimshaw had instructed her to use the previous night to make sure the wound was clean. Arthur took another sip of the water before she placed the alcohol soak cloth on the wound. He inhaled sharply as he felt the sting of the alcohol on the open wound. “I’m sorry,” she spoke softly as she removed  the cloth and placed it next to the bottle.

 

“Ain’t nothing to be sorry about, sweetheart’.” His voice softened as he spoke to Eleanor. This wasn’t her fault, she was just trying to take care of him. They were two broken people at the moment, both having endured terrible things. She wasn’t supposed to experience those things anymore. He was supposed to protect her from people like him. He felt like he had failed her as she gently wrapped his shoulder back up. It was a guilt he had felt the moment he found out she was no longer in the sheriff’s office and it just mounted every moment she wasn’t in his sight. Once more, she took a seat on the edge of the cot and took his hand in her’s. “You need to rest.” He said once more as Eleanor reached for the book on the chair with her free hand, yawning as she did so. “Grab Susan if you want someone to watch me, but you need to rest, Elle.”

 

“I’m fine.” She assured, giving his hand a squeeze. “You have to lay down, fight. If not for yourself or me…” She offered him a small smile as she brought his hand to her lips, kissing the back of his hand gently. She wanted to tell him that she was pregnant. It was a hard thing not to say aloud to him. But she also wanted him to tell him when they weren’t fighting through something. She wanted it to be a quiet moment when he was well.“You need to survive. Again, I will rest when your fever breaks.”

 

“Come here.” He opened his arm to her, making room so she could sit to his left. As she complied, Arthur pulled them down so that they could lie down. She nestled herself into his side, resting her head on his bare shoulder. As he wrapped his arm around her waist to pull her closer, he examined the book she pulled from their chest. “Ralph Waldo Emerson?” He felt her nod against his bare skin.  He shrugged, opening the book with his one hand. He could feel Eleanor’s breathing slowing and steadying. He single handedly flipped through the pages until he found a line that he liked. “Mine are the night and morning.” He began reading the poem, looking down to Eleanor as best as he could. Her eyes were closed and her mouth parted as she slept against him. No one was immune to the powerful draw of sleep when the body demanded it, not even a woman desperate to take care of the person she loved. “The, uh, pits of air, the gulf of space,” he continued lowering his voice so as to not wake her. He continued to read the poem aloud until he was certain that she was in a deep sleep. It was a sleep she had not had in weeks. He kissed the top of her forehead, allowing her to take that much needed rest he insisted on while he read the nature poems of Emerson.

Chapter Text

July 28th, 1899

Clemens Point

 

The late July sun hung low in the evening sky as a happy couple strolled arm in arm along the banks of Flat Iron Lake. The blonde woman had her feet in the cool water, waves lapping around her ankles as the two looked back on the events from the last month. Between weddings, kidnappings, and near death experiences, they were looking forward to celebrating with the gang, their family, the joy they had found. Arthur was on the mend, his fever breaking and his shoulder healing after being shot, Eleanor was back in the camp, and the gang seemed like they were on the up and up. Everything seemed resolved for the most part. And Eleanor had finally decided it was the right time to reveal that they were going to be parents. As she cared for him through the fever, she was pretty sure he had suspected the fact. Her breasts were swollen, she was sick every morning, almost everything made her cry (including the picture Jack had made for them. Arthur has taken to teasing her, making her recall the time she held the boy for ten minutes and cried), and she was tired all the time. She never took the rest though, focusing on making sure Arthur survived his gunshot wound and that he didn’t lose his arm. If those things didn’t give her away, nothing would have. There had been a look in his eyes, however, indicating that he knew and he was insistent that she didn’t do any heavy lifting. Instead, he called on Charles or John to help her when they needed fresh water. Charles was happier to oblige than John was, but he still helped anyways.

 

“How much longer do you think we’ll be here?” The little blonde asked as they continued the stroll along the lake. After the Grays and everything that had happened here, Eleanor was ready to move on. They didn’t have to settle anywhere, she just wanted to put more miles between her and her aggressors. Surely, Leigh Gray was not going to give up on her so easily.

 

“We’ll stick around until Dutch gets the gold.” There was skepticism in Arthur’s voice as he looked over his shoulder to the camp behind them. “Until he plays those families for all their worth.”

 

“And then?”

 

“I don’t know.” He admitted, hanging his head as he took his free hand and placed it over the hand she had resting on his upper arm. “Dutch always said we’d go west. And we ain’t been west in a long time. There was supposed to be a large score in Blackwater but that went to Hell.” Eleanor nodded, recalling the story he had told her about Blackwater and the job most of the gang attempted. “I’m startin’ to think he hasn’t the slightest idea what he’s doing. I just,” he paused looking ahead to the west. He knew what was there. Just on the other side of this lake there was Blackwater. He couldn’t see it, but he could feel it. Arthur could feel the failed promise of a life without civilization. A life without the rules and expectations.  A life that was simple, just him and his girl. Though, his girl wouldn’t be there on his arm if it weren’t for the failure in Blackwater. “I just want a simple life, away from all this. Virgin forests, Hosea calls it. No civilization, no rules… Just you and me settlin’ some place, raisin’ a family.” He smiled down to her, happy to see that she was smiling up at him. 

 

“A family, huh?” She laughed gently, patting his hand that was over her’s. “And a dog?”

 

“Of course!” Arthur laughed brightly, nodding as he did so. It alarmed him how close he was to having everything he had wanted. Fate did not tend to be in his favor. “Every kid needs a dog.” This was more of a statement than an opinion. It was a statement which Eleanor could agree with.

 

“And what will we do in this ‘virgin land’?” Eleanor wrinkled her nose as she enjoyed the plans Arthur had set out for them.

 

“Whatever we want, sweetheart.” He leaned down, kissing the top of her head. “You wanna farm, we’ll farm. You wanna ranch, we’ll ranch. All I know is it’ll be our land. Our rules. And no civilization.”

 

“Just our family.” Eleanor looked out, kicking the water at her feet. This would be the time to tell him that he was getting a second chance to be a father. “Arthur,” she looked up to him as she tried to contain her smile as she paused her walk forcing Arthur to do the same, “I need to tell you something.”

 

“You have my attention.” Eleanor took a deep breath, feeling nervous all of a sudden. This would surely be a moment of joy. A nervous laugh came from her as she removed her arm from his and grabbed his hand to place it on her stomach.

 

“I think you know.” Her nervous laughter continued as she looked down to his hand. She felt his fingers clutch the fabric of her vest knowing he would feel nothing but the steel boning of her corset. She noted that the look in his blue eyes was a soft one as the corner of his lips turned up into a smile. 

 

“You’re sure?” Eleanor nodded to the question as his hand moved from the placement on her stomach to the small of her back, pulling his small wife into a tight hug. She wrapped her arms around him, laying her head on his chest. His heart was beating rapidly as he wrapped his fingers around the ends of her curly hair.

 

This was going to be a second chance he didn’t know he wanted until he met Eleanor. After everything with Mary, Eliza, and Isaac, Arthur thought that happiness was not something he was entitled to. Sure, he found joy in helping the gang and protecting but he wasn’t truly happy. There was too much movement and too many unfulfilled promises of a golden California. Things, now, were getting out of hand. They have had close calls with the law before, but between the Pinkerton Detective Agency and Leviticus Cornwall, they were flying dangerously close to the sun. A small part of him thought that he could turn Dutch in, get the money for the bounty, and then take Eleanor, the Marstons, and whoever else west. It would make good on Dutch’s promise. However, a large part of him knew that this was his family and Dutch was their patriarch. Without Dutch and Hosea, Arthur wouldn’t have been here. He wouldn’t be hugging the woman he loved while she was carrying their child. A lot of other things wouldn’t have happened though. Perhaps, Arthur thought, all those things had happened for a reason. However, he also knew that it was no way to justify the deaths of his mother, Eliza, and his son. This world sure was a crazy place.

 

Eleanor was also offered a second chance, in large part to Arthur. That night, which seemed so long ago, she thought that her life was over. Those men, the men that the Grays had hired, were going to kill her. It was only a matter of when; once she realized they were going to have their fun with her. Tied up to a tree, freezing from the cool air, Eleanor would often wonder when they would put a bullet in her head. More often than not, she found herself hoping that every time would be the last. Every day since she hollered for help and Arthur, Charles, and John came to her head, Eleanor had been thankful for her second chance. Of course, she found moments of sadness when she thought about the fact that her father would never meet Arthur or his grandchild. He never got to see his only living child happy. As Arthur held her, her body shook with a sob. Arthur pulled away, looking down at her quizzically. He thought this would have been a happier moment.

 

“You ain’t happy?” Eleanor laughed gently, nodding her head as tears streamed down her face.

 

“Course I’m happy. I was just thinking about Papa.” Arthur nodded in understanding. He didn’t remember much of his mother, but he was sure she was a good mother and would have been an even better grandmother. Eleanor and Arthur were two orphans who found a home with each other.

 

“I understand.” He spoke softly, his fingers still deftly playing with the ends of her hair. “I found out about Isaac, I thought about my momma.” Eleanor brushed his hair out of his eyes, a soft smile on her face as she did. “I was young when she died. I remember her bein’ loving though, kind. I don’t know what she saw in my daddy.” He scoffed as his fingers stopped playing with the ends of her hair. He gently grazed the tips of his fingers over the perimeter of her face as she looked up lovingly at him. “I don’t know what you see in me.”

 

“A good man.” She responded quickly as his hand rested on her cheek. “Loving. Kind.” Eleanor smiled as she placed her hand over Arthur’s. “Protective. You can be mean when warranted, but never to the people you love. You’re loyal and you like helping. I bet you think that you’re as rough and mean as your daddy but when it matters,” she gave his hand a gentle squeeze as she kept her green eyes locked on his blue ones, “when it really matters, you are your momma’s boy molded by the ideals and expectations of Dutch and Hosea. But you are the best man I’ve known outside of my papa.” She raised herself onto the tips of her toes and placed a soft kiss on his lips. Arthur’s hands traveled to the small of her back in order to pull her closer as he deepened the simple kiss. As they broke apart, he placed a kiss on her forehead before she shrank down to the flats of her feet. He offered her his arm, which she glad took once more, as they continued their walk.

 

“I’m goin’ to be a daddy again.” Arthur smiled to himself as they turned around to return back to camp. Eleanor nodded, looking up to him to catch a glimpse of his smile. She was glad that he was happy. “And you’re going to be...What do you call a momma in French?” His blonde wife laughed gently.

 

Maman .” Eleanor watched Arthur as he realized that the pronunciation was similar to the American English way of saying it. 

 

“It’s kinda the same.” Eleanor nodded at Arthur’s observation.

 

“Yes, but I think here we just use momma. Like I called my papa….Papa.” She shrugged as Arthur chuckled.

 

“Momma and Papa…” He paused for a moment, thinking about the fever dream he had only a week ago. The images of their children turning to ash reappeared in his mind, causing him to shudder. Eleanor looked up to him with concern, feeling the movement. Almost immediately she stopped, placing her hand on his cheek before reaching up to his forehead. A sigh came from her as she realized he wasn’t feverish again. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” he confirmed as he tried to shake the images out of his head. Having the fact that he was going to be a father, again, confirmed, Arthur decided there were two ways to take the dream; it was a warning or it was just a simple dream that was terrifying.

 

As the two reapproached the camp, it was easy to make out the shapes of Dutch and Micah outside of the former’s tent. Arthur could only guess what they were discussing. He could guess that it was no good, but that was it. Micah had now been with them for eight months now. Arthur thought it was strange how everything went to shit just as Micah came into the gang. He also found it alarming how quick Dutch took to him. Sure, the gang leader always had his favorites. First it was Arthur, the first son of Dutch and founding member of the gang. Then it was John until he left. Then Arthur again. And he thought John would be that prized pony once more while he took the background role of work horse. He even said as much in Valentine after the train robbery John had planned was successful  But Micah had what John didn’t: Dutch’s ear. That was dangerous, Arthur thought, to have an outsider have their leader’s ear. He had already been proven right once in Blackwater; he was not eager to be proven right again. Especially now since Eleanor was there and pregnant. Arthur found himself worrying that he wouldn’t be able to protect her and their child from the fall out of any more mistakes like Blackwater. His dream was becoming more of a warning.

 

“I think I need to get my affairs in order here.” Arthur was abrupt in his statement. It caught Eleanor off guard. She couldn’t fathom him leaving his family when it was the only one he had, a family that became her’s. “I don’t know what we’re doin’ no more…’cept survivin’.”

 

“You don’t have to leave everyone...This is your family.”

 

“You’re my family.” He interrupted, slowing their walk to a stop before turning to her. “You and our baby, that’s my family. I,” he drew out the vowel as he thought about what to say next. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to protect you if things keep goin’ the way they been goin’. With the Pinkertons, Cornwall, Grays, all them. I won’t see our family turn to ash, Eleanor.”

 

“We’ll follow you wherever you go.” Eleanor nodded, giving his arm a squeeze. “And I am with you no matter what you decide.” This blind trust was still foreign to him. Usually, Arthur was the one blindly trusting someone. Whether it be trusting Dutch with their future or Mary saying they’d be together, Arthur had blindly trusted them. To be the one blindly trusted was a new sensation. He recognized that he was a patriarch now, same as Dutch. Though Arthur’s family would come from the love he and Eleanor had for each other and not a band of misfits and lost souls.

 

“Don’t say that just yet.” Arthur sighed as they continued their walk. “You may be following me to Hell.”

 

“Then we’ll be following you in a handbasket. We’re a family, Arthur. And if we end up goin’ to Hell, then we’re going to make the devil wish he was a Morgan.” Arthur couldn’t contain his smile as the girl who was so silent when they met proclaimed that they were going to make the devil himself bow down to them. He began to chuckle as he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close as they went to their tent.

 

“My girl.” He kissed the side of her head as he watched Dutch approach them from over the top of it.

 

“Arthur! Eleanor!” The leader’s greeting was warm and his smile charming as he approached the couple. “What a relief it is to see you two back with us! I was so worried about you, Eleanor. Especially after we found out you weren’t in Rhodes anymore. Such a terrible business. You have my most sincere apologies.” Eleanor merely smiled, nodding at Dutch’s words. After hearing about what happened with the O’Driscoll’s and Abigail mentioning that she hadn’t heard talk of anyone looking into Arthur disappearing, she took his charm with a grain of salt.

 

“I’m happy to be back. Not so pleased about what happened to my husband while I was gone, however.” Her tone was disgustingly sweet as she offered Dutch a smile. 

 

“Yes,” Dutch looked directly at Eleanor. Arthur could tell he was trying to muster up more of that infamous Van der Linde charm. “A rather unfortunate series of events, my dear.”

 

“That almost killed Arthur! Aren’t you going to show a little-” 

 

“It’s all good.” Arthur could sense the tension building inside of her and the tension coming off of Dutch. Arthur knew how Dutch could get if you questioned him or insisted on something. It just wasn’t something you did to Dutch. His word was law. “Dutch was coming for me, weren’t you?” He looked to Dutch, his eyes pleading for the answer in the affirmative.

 

“Of course, son .” Arthur hoped he was speaking true and that Eleanor would be satisfied.

 

“See, Eleanor,” he held an open hand to Dutch to illustrate his point, “Dutch was comin’ for me. It’s all good.” He repeated almost as if trying to convince himself that it was all good. “Now, I think it’s time for a lie down and some whiskey for the pain.”

 

“We’ll celebrate when you’re both up to it. The triumphant return of the Morgans!” Dutch continued smiling that charming smile as he went back to his tent. It wasn’t long before the sounds of an argument between Molly and Dutch were heard from within the canvas.

 

“You think he meant it?” Eleanor asked as they entered their tent.

 

“I don’t know.” Arthur kept his voice low. He hoped Dutch meant it, but doubt lingered.

Chapter Text

From the Journal of Arthur Morgan

 

August 4, 1899

 

It ain’t rained in months. Not since we been here. I remember that Archibald feller telling me it’s been dry when we first came to this wretched place almost two months ago. Part of me thinks it is what them Grays sowed. Maybe the Braithwaites too. All that anger and feuding as a means to what? I suppose I seen it first hand with Dutch and Colm. All it leads to is death and more anger. That ain’t the kind of world I want our child to grow up in. Don’t know if I have much of a choice in the matter. I didn’t want Isaac to grow up in that type of world either. And he ain’t here now. Maybe it was the anger I felt and the death that I dealt that brought that fate onto him and his mother. They ain’t done nothing wrong and I have to live with their deaths.

 

Maybe… I don’t know. Maybe this baby, this life with Eleanor, is life’s way of saying that I need to turn around. That I need to do better. I already told her that I wanted to get my affairs in order. Get my affairs in order and get us some money. With luck, we’ll be in California by the fall.

 


July 25, 1899

Rhodes, Lemoyne

 

“Pa!” Scott Gray bumbled into the sheriff’s office of Rhodes, waking up his father from his daily alcohol induced nap. His brother, Iain, right behind them. Both boys were covered in the dry, scarlet colored dirt that had been blown around the county. They needed rain and rain wasn’t coming. Instead, they were gifted with drifters and a bitch. “We just came from the big house!” Scott weezed out as Leigh Gray let out a yawn before sitting up right. He grew irritated the longer it took for his idiot son to catch his breath. He felt sorry for whatever woman he decided to bed in the Parlor House or when he did decide to settle down. 

 

“Spit it out, goddamn it!” Leigh groaned as he grabbed his bottle of Aguasdulces Reserve Guarma Rum and took a large swig of the sugar sweet alcohol. 

 

“The bitch is gone!” Iain continued, taking over his brother’s news. Per their father, the sons of Leigh were meant to get a bit rough with Eleanor Beamont, (or Callahan or whatever her name was), to get any information they could out of her in regards to her so-called husband and the band of men he came with. Leigh was convinced that they had been the cause of all their problems as of late and not the Braithwaites. 

 

“What!?” Leigh shot up, his chair falling to the ground as he advanced to the thinner of the two boys. “You’re tellin’ me,” he grabbed Iain by the collar. The young man winced at the ever present smell of alcohol on his father’s breath. “That, that bitch,” Leigh continued, “ain’t where we left her?” Iain shook his head, genuinely fearful of his father’s reaction. “There’s no way little Eleanor Beaumont undid her chains and walked out of there.”

 

“That’s the thing, Pa.” Scott kept his distance from his father in an attempt to escape any violence from his father. “Patrols say she left with a colored feller. Was some gun smoke, ain’t no one hurt.”

 

“Uncle said we oughta leave well enough alone.” Iain relied the message of Tavish Gray had given his nephews a mere hour ago. “Says she ain’t goin’ come back here.”

 

“What about her fool husband? Your uncle ain’t got a concern for that?” The Gray boys looked at each other before each shaking their head.

 

“Uncle ain’t mentioned anything about him, sir.” Scott confirmed, nodding his head while looking from his father to his brother and back to his father. “He said somethin’ about mettin’ with the Braithwaites today.”

 

“Course he is…” Leigh said through gritted teeth as he let his son go. “I may be a drunk but I ain’t a fool like your uncle.” Before leaving the building, he grabbed his hat and looked back to his boys. “You comin’?”

 


 

 

August 5, 1899

Clemens Point, Lemoyne

 

“Alright now, just hold still.” Arthur’s fingers curled a loose piece of Eleanor’s light, honey blonde hair, placing it in a spot he deemed worthy on her temple. He had her standing to the side, an angle that would eventually show her growing belly, proof that their child was thriving. And it was the perfect time to sketch it. The sun behind her was lowering causing her hair to appear as if she were lit up in front of Flat Iron Lake. It was if she was glowing more than she already was from pregnancy. This was something he had missed when Eliza had been pregnant with Isaac. He didn’t get the chance to watch her grow or feel his son kick for the first time. And when Abigail was pregnant with Jack, there seemed to be no joy. While Arthur was certain John was Jack’s father, others in the camp didn’t seem to think so. Of course, there was excitement from Abigail, especially as the boy moved for the first time. And now, it was his woman who was pregnant with his child. Arthur was determined to be there and document everything. From her growth to how he was feeling in hopes that, one day, he and Eleanor would be able to tell their child about this strange time in their lives that would hopefully be coming to an end soon.

 

“I’m holding as still as I can.” She laughed gently as Arthur sat back on his legs, his journal and pencil in hand. It had been a week since she had told him that they were going to be parents. In that week, she had fallen more in love with him. Arthur had taken great strides in making sure that Eleanor didn’t work too hard, lift anything, and that she rested often. He even went as far as to give her portions of his stew, claiming he had enough food and insisting that she ate. He was going above and beyond what she ever thought any man would do for their pregnant wife. “What are you even doing?” A small laugh came from her as she watched Arthur look up to her and then down to the page. He paused for a moment, placing the pencil and his journal down on his lap, and just stared at her with those big, beautiful, blue eyes that she hoped their baby would have.

 

“You’re goin’ to be growin’.” He said it as simply as anyone could. A fact of pregnancy was that she would be growing a human being and that, in turn, would make her larger. It would mean new clothes to accommodate the growing belly and her feeling massive, that she knew.

 

“Don’t remind me.” Her smile fell and she looked to her belly. She didn’t need to be reminded by him when her corset reminded her of it daily. Soon, she knew she wouldn’t be able to see her feet. She knew that she would become a burden to the gang the larger she got. It would become more difficult for her to move. Eleanor knew that she would have to seek Abigail’s advice on the transitory lifestyle during pregnancy. Looking back up to Arthur, she noticed his cheeks reddened as he continued his sketch.

 

“I just want to document you is all.” Eleanor knew that Arthur was not one to grow sheepish, especially around her. His tone indicated just that. “I always thought,” He paused, looking up to her once more. This time with an artist’s eye as he attempted to get the up turn of her nose just right. Just as Eleanor hoped that their child would have their father’s eyes, he hoped that the child would have Eleanor’s delicate nose; especially if the child were a girl. “I weren’t ever goin’ to settle down. Live a quiet life like Dutch always promised us after we had enough money. Like,” he thought for a moment in an attempt to try to articulate what he felt before he met Eleanor. “Like I wasn’t meant for nothin’ good. Then you came around and I never thought any of this would happen.” Once more, he placed the pencil and journal down so that he could give his full attention to Eleanor. “For the first time in years, I am happy. And I know happiness is fleetin’. ‘Specially these days. This journal,” he held up the leather bound book, “ it ain’t got a lot in it. Save for a little death and a lot of you. If I don’t destroy this one like I did the last, I want to see happiness when I look back on this. This ain’t my first kid, but it’s my first kid with you and my first kid out of love and not some one night stand. I just want to remember everything and, especially, how beautiful you are.”

 

As Arthur paused, Eleanor looked at him. She couldn’t begin to understand the emotions he was going through. It wasn’t a well known fact within the camp about Isaac. His son, and the death of his son, was something that he seemed to hold tight. It was almost as if Arthur was afraid of the emotion he might feel at the acknowledgement of his since passed son. All young Eleanor knew of losing a child was what her father told her as they stood beside six, unmarked graves near Mattock Pond. They were the graves of her brothers and sisters who did not survive either birth or infancy. Henri Beaumont would speak of the hope he and her mother had for the infants and the pain of having those hopes die in your arms. But she was only a child then and didn’t understand. Now, she understood loss. She had lost her family, someone she did love, and her whole way of life. She still wouldn’t be able to understand losing her child and she hoped that she never did.



“You’re always goin’ to be beautiful and you’re doin’ a beautiful thing, sweetheart.” Arthur finished as he lifted his pencil once more and continued on the sketch of Eleanor. As Arthur continued, Josiah Trelawny came up behind the brooding artist and looked over his shoulder before looking to the subject. 

 

“Your young bride is glowing, my boy. And lovely, if I do say!” The Englishman had been with the group for a while now. Arthur had taken the time to explain to Eleanor the nature of man himself. How he appeared and reappeared as he pleased but he always brought good leads when he did come back. Eleanor had thought he had the best stories around camp. He was a natural storyteller. Now, whether those stories were true or not, Eleanor couldn’t tell, but she would have gladly listened to them. “I think we may be able to use her as a distraction. I can teach her my ways. Imagine what you two could do together! You could rule the western frontier.” Eleanor looked to Arthur as Josiah went on about the empire they could build once the gang was forgotten. He seemed uneasy with the ideas. Eleanor would be the first to admit that she didn’t think her conscience could handle the life of crime. Almost everyone here was brought up in this life as a means to survive. And the few exceptions had their motives. Eleanor chose to stay due to that undeniable bond she had with the artist and outlaw she now called husband. Her only motive was to have a happy life with a man she loved.

 

At Trelawny’s suggestion, Arthur had to pause. Eleanor not being dragged into any schemes was something had been inwardly adamant about. He knew she had potential; he saw it the day he took her to Limpany to teach her how to shoot. She could hussle. Perhaps it was a skill she learned while selling her family’s crops or perhaps it was a natural ability that could have been turned into a valuable tool for the gang to utilize. When he began to realize that she was pregnant, he became certain that she would never have any hand in their plots. He refused to risk her life and the life of their unborn child. As he reaffirmed this to himself, he continued to work on the tiny details of Eleanor’s face in his drawing.

 

“I ain’t that good of an actress.” Eleanor laughed gently.

 

“Hold still.” Arthur interjected as he looked up from the paper. Now he was focusing on the shape of her body. Besides the changes in her breasts, there wasn’t much different in the way of her body when she was dressed. However, he could see the smallest bump forming and he could feel it as he held her close before they fell asleep. Feeling the slight protrusion of her belly filled the outlaw with pride as she laid her back against his chest and nestled into him.

“Nonsense, my dear! We could make you a great actress! What do you say, Arthur?” Josiah looked to Arthur as the man rolled his eyes. All he wanted to do was draw his wife in her delicate condition. “We could make you the next Maude Adams!”

 

“Who’s she?” Eleanor continued to hold still though her voice made it clear she was confused.

 

“She’s an actress, Mrs. Morgan. A fine one at that. Though, she does use her talent for more conventional means. Your means would be rather unconventional.” Josiah was tempted to leave Arthur’s side and try to entice Eleanor by making her up, but he knew better than to mess with an artist’s muse while the artist worked.

 

“You are free to do what you want, Eleanor.” Arthur closed his journal, conceding to the fact that he would have to draw her from memory so long as Trelawny was hovering around and trying to entice his wife into the life of a conwoman. “I will remind you that Leigh had him in a prison transport and then Charles and I had to save him from folk he gone and pissed off.” Eleanor looked to Josiah who appeared small and sheepish, especially compared to the now standing Arthur, who had his attention on the Englishman. “Ain’t you had enough excitement? She’s better than the rest of us. She is certainly better than I deserve. I ain’t goin’ to have you down to our level for the sake of a little money. ‘Sides, we got the girls for those things. We don’t need Eleanor.” He stopped as he felt her small hand on his arm.

 

“Arthur, I don’t want to do anything anyways.” She kept her eyes on him as he stared down Trelawny. “I’m fine staying here with Abigail and helpin’ around.” He looked down to her as he placed his hand over her’s. “Besides, if Josiah ain’t had enough excitement here, I certainly have.” She laughed gently as she shook her head. She was ready to leave Rhodes and all the trouble it had caused her behind them. The sooner she could kick the scarlet dirt of Scarlett Meadows off of her boots, the better. “Thank you,” she continued as she gave Josiah her attentions, “but I am happy bein’ at home and waiting for husband. My skillset is better used here than out there. I am going to lie down now,” she announced, “everything is makin’ me tired these days.”

 


That Same Day

Calgia Hall, Bayou Nwa, Lemoyne

 

“As I recall from our last meeting, you were supposed to find those bastards.” Catherine Braithwaite declared with annoyance as she sipped her tea. It had been ten days since she had last set foot inside Calgia Hall and made plans with Tavish Gray. For the first time, the feuding families were to come together to defeat the scourge set upon them. They were being played for fools. Neither head of the families would have it. They could destroy each other, but they would be damned if outsiders did the work for their personal gain. The Grays were meant to take care of their business with Eleanor Beaumont and the Braithwaites would find an alternative way to strike those who brought chaos into town.

“They’re quite hard to track down.” Tavish placed a cube of sugar in his tea, his brother standing beside him with his arms crossed in an attempt to look tough for the Braithwaites, so they knew that after this thing would go back the way they were. “No one has seen them in near two weeks. Perhaps they left town after they grabbed Miss Beaumont.” Leigh scoffed, annoyed that his brother gave up on justice for his son so quickly.

 

“A telegram came from some detective group up north, seem to be chasin’ after a Dutch Van der Linde. He stole a pretty sum off of a ferry in Blackwater back in May.” Leigh looked to his brother, still refusing to acknowledge the Braithwaites in the room despite their common goal. “Pinkertons, they called it. The description matches Hoagy MacIntosh. They’re also lookin’ for a feller who looks like that bitch’s husband. Called him Arthur Morgan.”

 

“Leigh, please. We have ladies present.” Tavish scolded his brother as he stirred the liquid in the cup. 

 

“Catherine ain’t a lady.” Catherine Braithwaite would have been insulted if she were a weaker woman. She merely shrugged off the drunken sheriff’s insult; he had lost the gang to begin with after all. “As I was sayin’, we find them and turn them in. Bounty’s worth five grand for Morgan alone.”

 

“That does make up for the tobacco crop we lost…”

 

“And what about our horses you had them steal off of us?” Catherine was pointed in her question even though she knew the horses were cheap. At least they should be able to get some money.

 

“Van der Linde’s is ten grand, there’s gotta be bounties on the lot of them.” Leigh raised an eyebrow, smirking as he watched his brother think.

 

“We can’t make plans until we find them!” Catherine made a fair point that Leigh seemed to forget. Until they found them, they had no money or peace.

 

“One of them is bound to come back into town at some point. They ain’t the smartest if they keep runnin’. Telegram also mentioned something about Leviticus Cornwall. They can’t hide for much longer.” Leigh’s mind was filling scenarios of him being the hero that took down the Van der Linde gang. He would no longer be the scandalous sheriff of a small town. He would be a celebrated and legendary hero, perhaps there would even be a song or a magic lantern show about him. “Give me another week, and I’ll have them.”

 

“Fine.” Catherine waved her hand as she took a sip of tea.

 

“One more week.” Tavish looked to his brother with a stern look. “After that, we let Eleanor and her husband go.”

“Deal.”