Phineas wakes and for a moment is convinced he must still be dreaming. He comes back to his senses with the slow, steady rhythm of another's heartbeat as his guide. He feels the rise and fall of her breath as she uses his chest as a pillow.
The second finger of his left hand carries a new weight. The simple gold band gleams with the colours of dawn and he knows there’s a prettier, daintier ring on Charity’s finger. A matching set. Husband and wife.
Charity stirs against him and he holds his breath as her eyelids flutter open. This is it, Phineas thinks, dread knotting his stomach. This is where she realises she’s made a terrible mistake and she has to go home right away-
Her smile, soft and sleepy and all for him, momentarily stops his heart. Charity slips a leg between his and curls into his side like she can’t get close enough. Her eyes in the mornings are stardust gold and look into his like he’s made of something special.
“I had the most wonderful dream,” Charity murmurs, her voice raspy from sleep. Another new little sound and Phineas looks forward to discovering them all.
He kisses her forehead, tangling a hand in her hair. “It wasn’t a dream.”
“Oh?” Charity’s lips curve against his skin. “So you mean I really did swim with dolphins in a champagne fountain then?”
Phineas tilts her chin up to kiss her but she makes a face and turns away.
“Sorry,” he says. “Morning breath.”
Extracting himself from the heat and comfort of Charity’s embrace to clean his teeth seems like a herculean task. All he wants to do is savour their first morning of being husband and wife, their last celebratory moments before reality makes itself an unwelcome visitor.
Phineas smooths his fingertip down the bridge of her nose and she squirms and giggles at the sensation.
"You snore, you know."
Charity’s mouth falls open. "I do not!"
"A lady does not snore," she informs him, all prim and proper and the perfect example of her finishing school lessons.
"Well it’s a very good thing you're not a lady anymore, then."
Charity settles herself in his lap and grins down at him like she’s claimed some kind of victory. Her hair falls in messy waves over her shoulders, a golden halo illuminated by the early morning sunlight. His hands are huge against her tiny waist, holding her close, tracing lazy pathways from hips to shoulders as Charity kisses along his jawline.
She nibbles at his earlobe. "Can’t you take the day off?"
"Don’t tempt me.” Phineas regrets the words the second they’re out his mouth, groaning as Charity becomes temptation incarnate, warm skin and soft curves pressed against him, stirring a familiar heat in his belly. “You know I’d rather stay here with you.”
“Then stay,” Charity says and it sounds like the simplest thing in the world. “We just got married. I’m sure they’ll understand.”
Phineas realises she has a lot to learn about the world of work. He doesn’t mention the overtime he had to put to earn their wedding day, their elopement , and how it still didn’t come close to being the day Charity deserved. He gave her his heart, a ring and a roof over their heads. Anything more is a luxury he can scarcely afford.
“I don't think they'll see it that way somehow.”
Charity makes a displeased little noise as he eases her from his lap, finally hauling himself out of bed.
He gathers up his crumpled clothing from the floor and carefully drapes Charity’s wedding dress- the nicest dress she owns rather than the white kind currently in fashion- over the end of the bed frame.
“Is this when I’m supposed to be a good housewife who makes you breakfast?”
Phineas laughs. “A breakfast of what? Cheese and flat champagne?”
Charity lifts her head and narrows her eyes at him. “Is that a comment on my lack of culinary skills, or the state of our kitchen cupboards?”
“The latter,” Phineas grimaces. He hadn’t thought much about food beyond their wedding supper last night. While he might be used to skipping a decent hot meal here and there, that won’t do for his wife.
“I’ll take a walk to the market,” Charity offers, voice bright with excitement about the prospect.
Phineas quickly sponges himself down in the bucket left by the stove overnight, the heat of Charity’s gaze watching from the bed warming him more than the tepid water. He picks a rose petal out from between his toes, another from behind his ear, and hopes they won’t be finding more in odd places for days to come.
Charity sighs, loud enough to draw his attention from its task securing his suspenders. He looks and it’s his fatal mistake.
"However shall I amuse myself all day without you?"
From the smirk playing on her lips and the endless bare skin on show, she clearly has her own ideas. Phineas’ eyes follow the path Charity trails down her stomach and below the sheets and-
The knowing glances and grins his fellow workers send his way when he turns up late and dishevelled are more than worth it.