a/n: oh god. this man has ruined my goddamn life. i havent even played the game, just sat next to my boyfriend swooning while he did. anyway- arthur morgan is my new favourite muse and here is some shameless porn. this will be part of a series! I have a whole storyline planned for this one- there will be a direct sequel and also the backstory to how reader got to camp. let me know if you wanna be on taglist!! <3 as always feedback is super appreciated
My requests are currently open!
The campfire was dwindling, but the heat still managed to soak through your clothes and into your skin. You knew you only had about 10 more minutes of this flame, but it was only you still awake in the whole camp and it didn’t feel worth it to fetch more wood. It was fine, you could head back to your tent, or maybe even just fetch a blanket whenever it got too cold to be out.
Another sleepless night. You had been in the camp for almost a month now (24 days, to be exact), but the nights were still plagued by memories of a life that felt both a lifetime ago and just yesterday all at the same time. Nightmares, on the lucky occasion you managed to close your eyes, or simply the agony of being left alone to your thoughts.
Of those 24 days you had lived with the Van Der Linde gang, there were 8 nights you hadn’t spent alone. It started on your second night, sitting in the very spot you were now, when Arthur Morgan, right hand man and knight in shining hide, came back from a late night hunting trip. Since then, you had crossed paths 8 times under various circumstances, often talking until dawn. Those were your favourite nights.
You often found yourself breaking your gaze from the mesmerising lick of the flames or the vast sea of stars above to check Arthur’s window up in the manor. Sometimes he’d be out on a job or hunting, other nights his lantern would flicker until the early hours, probably partaking in just as much worry as you were. Rarely, he’d turn out his light at a reasonable hour and sleep. It was strange, you felt somewhat relieved to know he was actually resting.
Tonight was one of those nights, or so you thought. His light had been off for about 20 minutes, as had most of the camps, leaving you to bathe in the starlight alone, with the crackle of the fire and an occasional cricket for company. That was, until you heard the creaking of the door followed by footsteps.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Arthur asked, sitting on the log beside you before you even had the chance to turn around to face him. You shook your head with an almost sad smile on your face. There was an understanding ingrained into the air between the two of you that meant you didn’t have to ask him the same question. For not the first time with Arthur, you found yourself slipping into the most natural, comfortable silence in the world as you held eye contact with each other. It was no surprise that you didn’t see the chopped wood in his arms, losing yourself in those tired eyes and sleepy smile.
“Thought you could use some company.” He admitted, throwing one of the logs into the fire, feeding its dying state, “And some wood.”
If it wasn’t so peaceful, you would have snorted. Honestly, you weren’t sure how you stopped yourself, somehow managing the fit of laughter into a cheeky grin thrown Arthur’s way, so he knew that you definitely picked up on that accidental entendre. He didn’t mean it, you were sure. While it was true that some sort of strange, ethereal connection that you certainly didn’t have the capacity to contemplate was steadily growing between you, Arthur was always so respectful, never crude. You appreciated it, at least while there was all this trauma to wade through in your mind, though this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.
“That’s awfully kind of you, Mr. Morgan.” You replied, the remains of a suppressed laugh sneaking into your tone, “When a lady needs wood, it’s good to know there’s a big, strong cowboy to bring it for her.”
It was probably the boldest thing you’d ever said to him, but it was worth it as soon as his features lit up with the biggest grin and he chuckled. That was the exact moment you knew there wasn’t much you wouldn’t do to see that grin again. You decided not to analyse that.
“Watch it, you.” He warned, briefly looking to the fire to poke it back into action. “Wouldn’t want to have to take my wood back off to bed.”
Okay, so this was really happening. Full speed ahead on flirtatious banter with Arthur Morgan.
“How are you settlin’?” He quickly added, looking back to you as his expert hands grew the fire back to the point where he was bathed in a comforting glow and you forgot all about the blanket in your tent.
You smiled softly, detecting apprehension in the question. Every time you shared these secret, stolen moments together, he always made sure you were okay. Perhaps because he knew that the creature comforts the camp had to offer were few and far between, but you suspected it was something to do with the darkness in his eye that only a fellow sufferer could understand.
“Just as I was two days ago when you last asked. I’m okay, Arthur. Really.” You reassured, subconsciously placing your hand on the wood between you and the outlaw now that you didn’t have to huddle into yourself for heat. The timing was awfully suggestive, but you didn’t even notice you’d done it.
“Alright, well… You just let me know if you need anything, alright?” You nodded, eternally grateful for this man and all he had done for you, and all he promised he would do for you. No man had ever offered you the safety Arthur had, nor the respect, and you weren’t even together. You almost scoffed aloud. Typical that the one society has labelled a violent criminal is the only nice guy… well, ever, if your experience was anything to go by.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“From whose pocket?” Your response was quick and witty, both yours and Arthur’s default when you definitely didn’t want to answer a question thrown at you. He understood, grinning once more at you and shaking his head.
“For a so-called Lady, you sure do have a cheek to you.”
You smiled proudly, “It’s my best feature.”
“Absolutely it is not.” He mumbled under his breath, but you were too quick. You caught every drawled syllable and blushed profusely for the privilege. It was a good job you were sitting in front of a fire and could blame your reddened skin on the harshness of the heat. Not that you were going to bring attention to it, of course.
This happened every so often, a compliment under the breath or off to the side or sometimes directly at you, knitted into layers of jokes and quips so much that they seemed to floor you even more than the offer of wood. Always respectful, never crude. You didn’t yet realise it, but your brain was storing those little moments under something special. You didn’t yet realise it, but they were pretty damned special.
It was your turn to say something, you realised, when a particularly loud crackle of the fire pulled you back to your senses. Arthur was looking at you intently, as if studying you. Normally if someone was looking at you like that, you’d want to crawl into the ground, feeling like an entry in that little compendium Arthur carried with him everywhere. This time was… well, you certainly weren’t crawling into the ground, to say the least. Actually, you found your heart rate increased for all the right reasons, rather than the anxiety you usually seemed to feel settling in your chest. The revelation knocked you once more.
Your lips were parted to speak, but everything seemed blocked in your throat. Nothing seemed like the right thing to say at that moment, so precious and fragile that a poorly timed joke or awkward comment might shatter it. So, you stayed silent, feeling a tension you’d never felt before ravelling up in the air hanging between you and Arthur.
“Alright, forget the penny. Name your price and I’ll pay it- I’d be willin’ to bet that those thoughts are worth a small fortune, darlin’.” He hadn’t taken his eyes off you, it was quite possibly the longest, most entrancing eye contact you'd shared with anybody. It took you a moment to register the term of endearment, rolling so naturally off his tongue as if the word was crafted just for you. You liked the sound of it on him.
“Alright… I was just wonderin’, if not my cheek, then what? What’s my best feature, cowboy?”
“Well, you’re an excellent shot.”
His quip earned a laugh and gentle hit to the arm before your hand landed back next to Arthur’s on the log.
Wait, when had Arthur put his hand on the log?
It was your turn to study him now and what you found was no less than a masterpiece that told the story of his life. Freckles splattered his nose and his eyes were framed with faint crows feet, from years of squinting in the sun. A couple of scars marked tanned skin, probably from one of his many fights or shootouts. His eyes, upon closer inspection were the brightest part about him, a blue you could spend centuries swimming in.
Swimming in his eyes? You were getting poetic. You were getting distracted. That, and if you inched your pinky finger just so, you and Arthur would have closed the space between you.
“Y/n?” Oh lord, you were staring.
“Uh huh?” The response was practically a squeak.
“Can… Can I-”
It was inevitable, pressing your lips against Arthur’s in a breathless, stolen kiss. Somehow, you knew just what he was going to ask and you had to beat him to it. It was searing, but over before it had even begun. As you retreated, there was a single second, dragged out into a lifetime of choices leading to this very moment, before Arthur lurched forwards and took your face in his hands, devouring you. Lips crashed against lips and hands got everywhere as you finally kissed Arthur Morgan. You were responsive to him, of course you were, shuffling closer so that he could wrap his arms around you and pull you even closer.
And then he stopped, pulling away with wide eyes scanning all over your expression, presumably taking it all in. Everything happened so damn quickly and now… well, somebody had to break the silence.
“You know, I’ve never been in that big old manor of yours…”
An eyebrow was raised.
You heard the click of the door closing and had only a second to survey Arthur’s room before you once more felt warm hands cupping each cheek. He didn’t kiss you straight away, instead scanning every inch of your face, as if you were the last beautiful thing left in a godforsaken world.
“Arthur…” the word was a whisper, a breath tickling his lip. Your lashes batted up at him while your gaze fell from his eyes to his mouth, just as it formed a silent ghost of your name. His thumb traced a circle on your cheek, the worked skin on his finger pads a stark contrast to your softness.
“Are… Are y’sure this is what you wan-” you didn’t allow him to continue, instead choosing to reassure him by lifting to your tiptoes and firmly pressing your lips against his and reaching to the back of his neck. You heard a shuddered breath as your nails scratched at Arthur’s skin before he walked you both forwards until your back was against the wall of his bedroom.
Arthur’s hands roamed down your neck and onto your waist, agonisingly briefly brushing over your breasts, the sensitivity of your nipples right now jolting down to your core as he did so. Fingers of one hand gripped your hip, pulling you even closer until your front was flushed against Arthur’s, your back arched and his hard chest pressing against your own supple one. The other hand splayed across your back, trailing up and down the stitching of your buttons.
You felt a restraint in Arthur’s sweet, tender kisses, as if he didn’t want to break something so fragile. Not wanting to break away from the kiss, you let Arthur know you were okay by giving his lip the tiniest nip. He growled, low and deep in his chest, before the need in his kiss became that much more intense. Your lips parted, wide enough for Arthur to slip his tongue along the bottom one. He tasted like tobacco and whiskey, two flavours you weren’t normally awfully fond of, but on Arthur it was intoxicating. The feel of his slick tongue gently licking yours produced a moan you couldn’t have stopped if you wanted to.
Your moan, a reassurance that you were definitely enjoying this, seemed to awaken something more in Arthur and he let go, fully devouring you now. He was overpowering, lifting you up into his passionate kiss before leading you over to his bed. It was much sturdier than your cot back in your own tent, but Arthur definitely worked hard enough for the camp to deserve it. You never broke away from each other, laying back into the mattress under Arthur’s guide. The length of him covered you completely and he propped himself up onto his elbows to stop himself from crushing you. You had never felt such a weight of somebody on you like this, a lifetime of hard work and dedication embedded in his muscles. It made you feel safe, as if those arms could and would protect you from anything and everything. It was a safety you had never in your life felt before, and in that moment you realised it was… right. Everything about this was so right.
Nimble fingers dragged down from the back of the outlaw’s neck and onto his face, feeling the scratch of his stubble as you both finally came up for air. You looked up, finding the candlelight just as perfect of a glow as the campfire against Arthur’s features. Your lips were reddened and wet from his nips, licks and kisses and your cheeks were flushed from the pure emotion of it all. You didn’t know it, but Arthur had just logged this as his favourite sight in all the world.
Ever since he’d sat down at that fire, a tension had been coiling tighter and tighter in you, one that you weren’t sure you could handle for much longer. “Arthur, I… I need you. Please.” You all but begged, squirming under his weight. That goddamn grin was back, gazing down at you for a final moment before Arthur plunged back into your lips, prodding them open with his tongue once more. His hands quickly found their way to your back as you arched for him, slipping the buttons away with an impressive ease. You sat up slightly, pushing Arthur’s jacket off his shoulders and shrugging off the top half of your dress. Arthur gathered up your skirts, pushing them over your head so that you were almost bare to him.
“You’re so beautiful, do you know that?” He asked, running a finger over the lining of your undergarments, leaving ripples of tingles scattered all over you. Never good at taking compliments, you decided to focus on getting Arthur’s clothes off, starting with his suspenders and shirt buttons. He pulled his own shirt off, and you reached to run your hands over his chest. He shuddered under your touch and growled once more as you kissed the newly bare skin. While you were occupied with his torso, Arthur lifted your hips, peeling off the rest of your undergarments.
“So beautiful…” He whispered, reaching a finger down to your naked slit. He hesitated, looking down at you with the question gleaming in his eye. A silent question earned a silent response as you needily bucked your hips up towards him.
A loud gasp escaped you as Arthur slid a single finger in, instantly feeling just how wet you were for him.
“Goddamn… you’ll be the death of me, girl.” He mumbled, pausing only briefly to allow you to adjust to something inside you before he began to curl his finger, finding your sweet spot in a record time you didn’t even know possible. He smirked at the sight of you, squirming and dripping with just one little movement.
“Fuck, Arthur…” You whined, bucking your hips again, his hand reaching to meet you in a sweet symphony of friction and pressure. His finger drives in and out, a second soon joining it as you mewl below him. Your eyes shut tight as you attempt to stay a little quieter, not exactly wanting to advertise your activities to the camp. All that quickly went out of the window as his thumb pressed against your bud and you all but screamed.
Arthur chuckled, “Easy now… we don’t wanna go wakin’ everybody up now, do we?”
His actions didn’t back up his words, though, unfairly circling the bundle of nerves so deliciously you had to bite down hard on your lip. Seeing your struggle, Arthur brought his free thumb to your bottom lip to give you something to do with that loud little mouth of yours. You sucked and bit in time with the wonderful artistry Arthur was drawing all over your cunt and he watched you, immensely enjoying each twitch and moan. You felt yourself climbing ever higher to heaven, the pleasure sending you dizzy while Arthur pulled his lip between his teeth. He felt you flutter around his fingers, the tightening a sign of how close you were to the edge.
“Atta girl… you gonna cum for me, darlin’?” His thumb came out with a pop, replaced quickly with a burning hot kiss. The uniquely Arthur mix of tobacco and man dominated your senses and pushed you right where you needed to be. The first wave came quickly, sending a rush of blood into your ears and knocking the air out of your lungs. Arthur’s fingers pumped in and out of you, curling to that spot every single time. You moaned deeply into his mouth as he masterfully orchestrated your orgasm, stretching it out until your legs were shaking and tiny tears pooled in the creases of your eyes.
Arthur brought you back to Earth, slowing his thrusts and easing the pressure on your clit gradually. Your body went limp for a moment, trying to recirculate the air you could finally get into your lungs.
The two of you spent a moment together, Arthur above you while your chest rose and fell. When you could finally string a sentence together, you whispered to him, “God, Arthur… That was…” You trailed off, noticing the smirk growing onto the cowboy’s face.
“You think I’m done with you yet, girl?”
Perhaps you wouldn’t mind one more sleepless night…
Summary: Arthur comes to your rescue after you get stranded in a thunderstorm in the Heartlands. As he looks after you, he risks exposing your secret relationship, leading him to a breakthrough.
Word Count: 6.9k
A/N: Did not expect it to be so long! So I divided it in 3 parts. Skip to part 3 for the fluff!
Warnings: 18+. NSFW. Mild hypothermia. Angst. Hurt/comfort. Fluff. Secret relationship. A very fluffy happy ending. Arthur Morgan is a human furnace.
A/N: Set in Chapter 2 at Horseshoe Overlook.
Chapter 1: Into the Storm
The sun is setting and you still aren't back. Even worse, the thunderstorm is not letting down, becoming stronger with each passing minute. Arthur grows sicker with worry at the sound of every thunder in the distance. You should've been back by now.
You went to Emerald Station to retrieve a package sent to you by your uncle in California, leaving after breakfast, hoping to be back for the afternoon so you could still return to your chore duties at camp. You had begged Miss Grimshaw to let you go and somehow she agreed. You'd been to the area before and were certain the journey would be easy, even with your new mare, Rosemary. It was a seemingly sunny day, perfect for a ride out east.
It started to rain just before you got there and you didn't worry much about it, but by the time you left it was pouring and you still had to cross most of the Heartlands back to camp.
Arthur had left very early in the morning for Valentine and by that time you were still fast asleep. He had passed by your tent before leaving, hoping to get a kiss goodbye. As he peeked inside you were still dreaming, a little smile decorating your face. He'd be a fool to wake you up so he headed north, leaving content with the image of you dreaming peacefully. What he didn't know is that you had been dreaming of him.
He got back to camp in the middle of the afternoon, drenched from head to toe as the storm had caught him a few miles back. Everyone was sheltered in their tents and he headed to his to change his clothes, thinking he could see you after. Maybe keep you company through the rainy night. But when he opened the flaps of your tent you weren't there. Curious, but not worried, he went to Miss Grimshaw's tent to ask about you and make sure you had safely returned.
Miss Grimshaw is one of two people who knows the two of you were involved, catching you late one night on the outskirts of camp, where Arthur would take you to have some alone time in private. Arthur had been pushing you into a tree, all hot and bothered, both your lips intertwined, when she walked in and saw you, your hands on his shoulders, his hands on your ass. No words were exchanged but you saw her look at you in astonishment and leave. You felt mortified and sick to your stomach. Arthur started laughing, looking down at you, pecking your face.
"Don't worry, darlin', it's alright" he said in between chuckles, noticing the worry on your face.
"You say that because you don't have to work with her!" you replied, worried she'd punish you with extra work, or worse, by telling everybody else in camp. You had promised each other you'd keep the relationship a secret until you were comfortable enough to take the next step. Luckily for you, it seems she hasn't told anyone. Yet.
The only other person who knows about you two is Hosea, the only person in camp Arthur had trusted to tell. Of course, he didn't have much of a choice when Hosea asked Arthur one day why his eyes followed your every move with such undeniable affection. This embarrassed Arthur because he thought he was being discreet. But Hosea just knew him too well. He could tell when Arthur was smitten.
With dry clothes on his back, Arthur finally reaches Miss Grimshaw's tent and inquires. "Miss Grimshaw, where's Miss Y/N?"
"She's not back yet, I'm afraid. She told me she'd be back by now." Arthur's heart sinks, his worry coloring his face. "I'm sure she's fine, Arthur, don't worry", she says, trying to ease the troubled lover in front of her.
Arthur heads to his tent, opening the flaps so he can see you and your mare arriving, hoping that you are not far off. But he grows more distraught as time goes by and, when he sees the sunset approaching he decides he can no longer wait. He warns Miss Grimshaw he is going out to look for you and gets on his horse. He starts galloping furiously, fearing for the worst, hoping for the best.
He knows exactly which road you'd take to get back because he'd shown it to you a few weeks ago, on your way to one of your secret rendezvous. He's sure you would not stray from the path, knowing your fear of getting lost in the wilderness. You'd only venture into it with him by your side, needing him there to protect you.
The further he gallops the worst the storm gets and it doesn't take long for Arthur to get drenched again. The night is creeping in and with it comes an unrelenting wind. He despairs at the thought of you out in this cold storm that shows no signs of easing. He stops every mile or so to shout your name into the wind, hoping you hear him and he finds you. His voice grows louder each time, the desperation fueling him.
It's been hours since you left Emerald Station and since then you've been under the storm, getting colder as it rages. You kept thinking you could get back to camp so you pushed your horse through it, hoping the storm would ease on the way. Before reaching Twin Stack Pass, the downpour turned into a thunderstorm, the lightning growling around you. After the loudest one, your mare, already spooked, dropped you down on the ground before you had time to react. You watched as Rosemary galloped out of view and you realized you were stranded, your back aching from the fall. You didn't want to stray from the road, hoping that someone would ride by and take you someplace sheltered. You rested your back against a large rock nearby where you could flag down any riders and waited. You watched the sky as it grew darker, feeling your clothes getting heavier. You soon began to shiver, feeling your entire body grow cold and numb.
You started thinking of the times Arthur had taken you someplace out west or east, where you'd set up camp in a remote place, far from anyone alive. You would help Arthur gather some wood and light a fire, big enough to last through the night, burning bright enough that you could see each other's freckles and scars, your eyes gleaming like fireflies. He'd take you in his arms and you would let him, your moans echoing in the night, rivaled only by the sound of wolves up in the mountains.
You're thinking of Arthur and his warm touch on those campfire nights when echoes of his voice reach your ears. At first, you think it's another memory but you begin to realize his voice is real, jolting you to get up. You try to place where the voice is coming from, stumbling to the road so he can see you.
"Arthur!", you scream louder than you expect in your weariness, your voice weak from the cold. He turns to see you standing up ahead by the road. He rides to where you were, knots in his stomach from looking at you. Even though it's already nighttime, he can see your clothes are completely drenched and your skin is sickly pale by the light of his lantern. He dismounts and you lock eyes, relieved to see each other. As he touches your face and arms, he feels your chilled skin.
"It's ok, darlin', I'm here. I've found ya" he says. He kisses you on your blue lips, the coldest thing he's ever felt. He leans into your ear. "I'll keep ya warm now, ya hear?"
You're relieved that he is holding you now otherwise you might have collapsed to the ground. You've become so numb you can barely feel the rain falling. But the moment that man lays his hands on you you feel a shiver down your spine, stronger than any thunder in the sky. You could swear his kiss could have brought you back to life if he had found you dead.
"Rosemary she- she got scared" you whimper back, trying to explain what happened. He can see tears falling down your cheeks despite the rain.
"It's alright, I came to get ya. You're safe now, I promise" he vows, kissing your cheeks where the tears fall.
Overwhelmed with worry, he begins to prepare you for the journey back to camp, making sure you are as dry as possible. He takes off your coat, it is so damp with rain it no longer does you any favors. He sees your blouse is just as bad. "I think it's best if we take this off, ok?"
You nod in approval and he undresses you until you're in your chemise. He quickly takes off his coat and puts it on you, placing the sleeves around your arms, one at a time, closing the buttons as fast as he can. His coat, despite being wet, has a drier lining and his body heat lingers inside, feeling as warm as his touch. He places you on the saddle sideways and he seats behind you, getting ready to ride again. His body heat irradiates around you. You finally feel some relief.
You wrap your arms around his torso and he motions his hips forward so he can be closer to you, holding you in a tender embrace. Your hands touch his back and your head is on the crook of his neck, his jaw shielding your face from the rain. He untucks his shirt from his pants and guides your hands under it so you can warm them against his skin. Your touch makes him shiver. He reaches for his bedroll in the back of his horse, unfurls it over your shoulders, and adjusts it as best as he can to cover you. "You hold tight now, darlin'. We'll be there soon."
The horse takes off at breakneck speed as Arthur directs him back to camp, trying to lead you as far away as possible from the storm still raging around you. Your head sways with every gallop against his chest and neck and you can feel his warm skin against your cheek, his beard chaffing your wet hair. After a while, Arthur's body heat starts to make you feel warmer, the cowboy keeping his promise.
Despite your weariness, you lift your head to look into his eyes, seeking comfort in them, finding just that. You mean to thank him for saving you but somehow you're not able to speak and he tells you "Just rest now darlin', don't worry." You lay your head against his chest again and he rubs a hand on your back, soothing you as best as he can. After some time, the pace of the gallops starts making you sleepy and you dose off to the sound of Arthur's loud and frantic breathing, leaving the storm behind.
You're not sure how long you're out until Arthur speaks to you again. "Y/N, sweetheart, ya need to wake up. We're here." You open your eyes and see that the rain has stopped and the horse has slowed. Arthur kisses you on your forehead to wake you up.
Before you come to a halt, Arthur beckons for Miss Grimshaw. "Miss Grimshaw! We need your help over here!"
She must not have been far as she is quick to answer. "What's the matter? What happened?"
"Miss Y/N here got caught in the storm. She needs to be warmed up."
"Of course. I'll draw her a warm bath. I'll heat the water right away. Girls, help Y/N get changed!"
You lift your head and stare at Arthur for a moment while he still holds you. At that moment all you want to do is kiss him, his piercing eyes watching you as you slightly shiver. He lets go of you slowly and removes the bedroll from your back, helping you down from the horse, making sure you don't stumble. Before you have a chance to say anything, Karen, Tilly, and Mary-Beth are leading you to your tent. You glance over your shoulder to look at Arthur who is still looking at you, swallowing hard as you fade out of sight.
The girls close your tent and help you undress, removing Arthur's wet coat off of you, your body still quivering. They remove all your other clothes, dry you with a towel and give you a soft nightgown with long sleeves and then wrap you up in the biggest quilt they can find. They help you walk to the camp's fire, sitting you in a chair in front of it, hoping it keeps you warm while the bath water heats up. Some members of the gang are chatting around the fire when you arrive, but the conversation goes silent when you seat down. Seeing you shake from the cold, they think it's best not to disturb you.
"Nice weather today, eh, fellas?" you joke, as you hold out your hands and feet closer to the fire. Mary-Beth hands you a warm cup of coffee that you start to sip when you hear loud footsteps and a deep voice.
"Miss Y/N can have my tent for the night, Miss Grimshaw. She'll be more comfortable there." You look up to see Arthur in a dry set of clothes, wearing that blue shirt you like so much.
"Very well." Miss Grimshaw removes the pot of hot water from the fire and sets out to draw your bath. Arthur sits down next to you, worry in his eyes.
"You ok, Miss Y/N?" Your name is said almost in a whisper.
"I will be after a warm bath," you say, voice still a little shaky. You break away from his gaze, fearing that other people around the fire might see you're sweet on each other. But you feel Arthur's eyes linger on you.
It isn't long before the girls help you to the tent where the bathtub is and they help you into it. At first, the warm water feels too hot, but after a moment the feeling subsides and you're no longer uncomfortable. You rest your head against the edge of the tub and notice how tired you are, you could sleep for a whole day.
Miss Grimshaw tells the girls it's late and they should get to bed since they have chores early in the morning. They all wish you well and leave and the tent goes quiet.
"You're lucky Mr. Morgan found you in time, Miss Y/N, or you may not have lived to tell the tale."
"I know, Miss Grimshaw." You're noticing how the water is warming you up when you hear Arthur's voice outside the tent.
"May I come in, Miss Grimshaw?"
She hesitates for a second. "I guess you can, Mr. Morgan, yes." Arthur walks in and sees you in the tub, lying naked, and he's quick to turn away, aware that the two of you are not alone.
"You should stay in that tub as long as the water remains hot, Miss Y/N. And make sure you sleep all bundled up. Let me know if I can do anything else."
"Thank you, Miss Grimshaw," replies Arthur.
"Good night, Mr. Morgan. Miss Y/N." She heads out of the tent before you can thank her too.
Arthur looks at you and sighs loudly, reaching out to grab your hand, noticing it's not as cold as it was before.
"Will you keep me company?" you ask, wanting nothing more.
"Of course, darlin'." He grabs a nearby chair and sits by your side, still holding your hand, keeping it warm.
You look into his eyes and finally say "Thank you for saving me."
"Anytime, precious." He kisses you on your temple and you melt. He sees your lips, now slightly turning pink, no longer the blue color they were when he kissed you a few hours before. He doesn't resist them and he places his lips on yours, the hairs on your neck standing up like they have done so many times with him. You'd put good money on betting that Arthur Morgan is the best damn kisser west of Saint Denis.
He seats looking at you while you soak in your bath and you rub a sponge up and down your body so you can get the circulation flowing, your body waking up as you get warmer. His eyes follow your fingers, sometimes stopping to look at your face. You hand him the sponge after a while. "Can you get my back for me?" and he abides, soaking your skin as soft as he can, trying to make it enjoyable.
After doing your shoulders, he moves onto your chest but he drops the sponge, caressing you with his hands instead. He starts massaging your breasts slowly with his warm fingers before he's met with a hushed "Arthur Morgan!" from you. He doesn't stop and when he grazes a nipple you react loudly with a moan that surprises both him and you.
"Shh, try not to wake everyone, will ya?" He gives you a devious chuckle. He keeps caressing your body for a while longer, his fingers warming you up where they land. You plead with him not to touch the soles of your feet, knowing how ticklish you are, but he just goes ahead and does it anyway. It makes you recoil in laughter and you splash some water at him in response, your favorite blue shirt now wet. Delighted by the moment, Arthur heads back to your side and kisses you again.
"The water's cold now," you say and he helps you out of the tub. He hands you a towel to dry yourself but you give into the urge to wrap your whole body around him, getting him even wetter. "Sorry."
He laughs a little at the ploy. "That's alright. Might just need to change clothes for the third time today." You let go of his embrace and he finishes drying you up with the towel, reaching in places so you don't have to move too much. He finishes with a chaste kiss on the last spot he dries, your collarbone. "We should get ya to the tent to get some rest."
You notice your weariness has grown despite Arthur taking your mind off of it. He helps you dress the nightgown, wraps you in the quilt, and sticks his head out of the tent, making sure no one sees him leave with you. You reach his tent and he closes the flaps behind him.
"How ya feeling? Any better?" He heads towards you, concern in his eyes.
"Yeah, much better. Thank you. A little tired", you lied.
"Ok, let's get ya down." He helps you lie down on his cot, then reaches for another winter quilt in his wagon and places it around you. "You need anything else, darlin'?"
He starts removing his wet clothes and notices his union suit is soaked from your earlier embrace. It's not long before he stands naked beside you. The sight makes you burn with desire and you get up before he reaches for new clothes. You're quick to undress before he even asks what you're doing. You only have one request.
"Hold me, won't you?"
He takes you up at your words and embraces you tenderly. "I wouldn't have it any other way." He reaches down and looks at your face. "I said I'd keep ya warm, didn't I?"
You hold each other naked for a moment, having dreamed of this moment in days past. You haven't been intimate like this for a while, with Arthur unable to get you out of camp. After the terrible night you've had, it seems like a salve on your souls. He brushes his fingers down your back and you hold him by his shoulders, drowning in his manliness. It almost feels like you're dancing.
When your eyes meet, you kiss once again. "I swear you're the best damn kisser west of Saint Denis," you confess out loud and he laughs, surprised by your compliment. He caresses your cheeks after a smile forms on you, relieved you're feeling well enough to tease him. The heat of his body and the smile on his face warm both your body and soul.
"We should lay down," he says to your relief as you feel your legs tremble from fatigue. He leads you to the cot and lays you down before he arranges both quilts, joining you after. He tries to pull you on top of him as much as he can so his skin can still warm every inch of you, your head placed on his chest while you brush his beard with your fingers. He looks down at the top of your head and kisses your hair gently. You think it's stupid he's kissing your hair and not your lips, so you lunge upwards and correct him. His fingers reach the side of your thighs and they caress you as your hands settle on his arms. The tender touching continues for a while but it soon fades as you become sleepy and your eyelids start to close. Seeing this, he pulls up the quilts to your shoulders, wrapping his arms around you underneath them. He was so busy caressing you that he failed to notice how warm you are starting to feel.
"I love you," you manage to let out before the warmth of Arthur Morgan cradles you to the sweet relief of slumber.
"I love you too, darlin'." He sees you drift off and closes his eyes, content with the weight of the one he loves on top of him, safe from any thunderstorm. Tonight it's him that dreams of you.
Chapter 3: A Secret No More
Arthur wakes up at first light like always and sees you have drifted, your head on the pillow instead of him, which makes him a little sad. He softly touches your forehead and notices your temperature is back to normal, your lips a scarlet shade again. He sighs of relief.
Since he is free to move without waking you it gives him the chance to get up and get some coffee before anybody in camp sees he has slept in his tent with you. He tries to sneak to the percolator and get back as quickly as possible, but he gives up when he sees Hosea has already spotted him on his way over. Both men exchange their good mornings and Arthur pours himself a cup.
"So, how is she?" inquires Hosea. Arthur guesses he knows you have spent the night together but no longer feels the need to keep secrets from him.
"She's doing much better." He takes a sip.
"Quite the scare you had there, I reckon."
"Yeah, sure did. But she's stronger than she looks."
"I'm sure she has an excellent caregiver," quips Hosea.
Arthur lets out a soft smile. He takes a few more sips before he decides to head back.
"Don't forget to take a cup for the missus," says Hosea as he reaches out to give Arthur his mug. He pours two cups of coffee, nods to Hosea in thanks, and goes back to his tent, anxious to set eyes on you again.
When he finally does, the sight of you makes the coffee in him stir. You look so beautiful and peaceful on his cot he's completely enthralled. He seats on the chair in front of you and gazes at you, forgetting his coffee, floored by seeing you sleep in his own tent.
He remembers how just the morning before he had woken up all alone, your body laying on another tent on the other side of camp. Since your relationship began, you have never spent the night over for fear that someone would catch you leaving his tent in the morning. When you did come over, you'd make sure you never fell asleep and always sneaked back in the middle of the night, your shoes in your hand and his saliva on your lips.
Arthur would complain about you leaving him every time but you were always quick to remind him. "We promised nobody else should find out." Arthur was never one to break promises, especially to you. But leaving his arms in the middle of the night was about the cruelest thing you ever did to him. As much as you wanted to give in to him, you never did, your mind plagued by the image of Miss Grimshaw's eyes watching you.
But things are different this morning. For the first time, Arthur watches you in his tent in a whole new morning light and it dawns on him how much he wants to see this at every sunrise.
He realizes that hiding your relationship from the rest of the camp is idiotic, he doesn't care if people know about you two anymore. He is ready to face the stares and ridicule, the jokes from Sean, the sneers from Micah. He thinks that will be a fair price to pay for the privilege of having you sleep by his side.
You had said your I love yous last night and he is confident that if he proposes this to you, you will accept. He begins to squirm in his seat in anticipation, hoping you wake up soon. As if by telepathy, or the noise of his chair, you do.
You open your eyes to see a dashing cowboy sitting in a chair, his face serious in thought. For a second you think something's happened and he's about to tell you bad news.
"Hey, sweetheart. How are ya?" He leans over to kiss you and his lips land on your nose and then your temple.
"Better, I think." You wiggle your toes and touch your belly. You feel normal.
He grabs your hands from under the quilts and kisses them, front and back. "You feel a whole lot better too."
He suddenly looks back at you with that same pensive stare. "What's wrong?" you say quickly as he starts to frighten you.
"Nothing. Everything's fine. Been thinking about you is all."
It's a little too early for subtlety so you blurt out "What about?"
"Well..." he pauses, unsure of how to put it. He sits on the chair again and looks at his hands. You sit upright so you can face him. "I don't want to keep you a secret no more."
Your heart leaps out of your chest. This is the sexiest thing you've ever heard. "You mean it?"
"Yeah, darlin'. I think we should give that up." He lingers on his hands, almost afraid of your reaction. When he looks up he's surprised by a ravenous kiss from you. Without parting from his lips, you wrap your arms around him and seat on one of his knees. As he realizes what your answer is, he kisses you back with even more vigor.
When you disconnect, you see his eyes sparkle as the first rays of sunshine sneak into the tent. "Is that what you want too?" He'd like verbal confirmation, if you please.
You nod, heart leaping. "Yes! You sweet man!" You both look at each other smiling as he holds you in his arms, realizing you've wanted nothing else but this. You linger for a while as the silent vow you take makes its way from your head into your heart.
"So how are we supposed to tell everyone?" you ponder all of the sudden. "If we're not a secret, how do we tell people we're together?"
"I dunno." He hasn't thought things this far.
"It's not like we can advertise it in the papers!" you joke. "Maybe we tell Karen and let her run her mouth? Or Sean? Both?"
Then Arthur gets a glint in his eye. "Get dressed, will ya?"
Without questioning him, you head to your tent and dress the first thing you can find. It's that skirt and blouse combo Arthur likes so much. You're dressed before he even reaches your tent.
"You trust me?" he asks and your heart races, unaware of his intent. You give him the biggest smile as a yes and he locks your fingers with his. He starts dragging you through camp so fast you can barely keep up. He comes to a sudden stop and you bump into him.
"Sit with me," he says. You both sit down on the same log by the campfire, you're the only ones there. You sit facing each other, gazing at each other's eyes and holding each other's hands. You stay like this for either 30 seconds or 30 minutes before you speak.
"So, is this your plan?" you say smiling stupidly.
"Yeah. I guess so." He smiles stupidly too.
Now you're two stupid fools in love sitting at a campfire holding hands.
You hold your positions while everybody else in camp gets up and prepares for the day. People come and go all around you, some sit down by the fire while they have breakfast. You and Arthur keep holding hands for the entire time, unfazed by the staring, hoping the plan works.
At some point you hear Karen behind you: "Well, what have we here, then?"
As much as he is enjoying the plan, and he is enjoying it, Arthur eventually gets up to get you a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. "Eat up. You've got to keep your strength up."
You're thinking it's gonna be a delightful day of him pampering you so it pains you to hear him say he has to ride out to Valentine for the day with John and Charles. Something about some plan, surely one not nearly as brilliant as the one you just pulled.
You remain by the campfire as he gives you his goodbye. "Now you take care of yourself today, ya hear?" He kisses you full on the lips and lingers on them, unperturbed by the onlookers.
Now you're no longer his secret, you're his confession.
Miss Grimshaw relieves you of your chores for the day so you don't strain yourself, her reason being you're still recovering from last night. You're somewhat certain it's because Arthur would give her hell if she didn't let you rest.
Throughout the day, you mostly read and sit around the fire, keeping warm, trying to ignore everyone as they beckon for your attention so they can pry about you and Arthur. You try to play dumb as you reply with "I can't hear you. The storm left me deaf!"
The only person that you talk to is Hosea who approaches you with a book in hand. "Mind if I keep you company, Miss Y/N?"
"Of course not." You'd never deny the man anything, not even your last quarter. You discuss your reading material and exchange book recommendations, you're always excited by his suggestions. After that you read in silence as you've often done in the past.
When he interrupts the silence, he does so in a stern tone. "I'm sorry, my dear. But I've gotta ask this." You bookmark your book and close it. He looks at you in the most serious manner you've ever seen in him. "What are your intentions with Arthur?"
You feel a cold shiver run through you, colder than anything you felt last night. Of all the questions you expected today about your relationship with Arthur, this was not one of them, especially from him. As you try to summon an answer, you feel your mouth go dry.
"I- I- We- Well," You can't think of words. "We- we mean a lot to each other and-"
Hosea interrupts you with the biggest laugh you've ever heard. The camp goes quiet as people stop to hear the racket and your cheeks blush as you realize what this means. "I'm just teasing you, Miss Y/N!" He struggles to catch his breath. "Please forgive me, my dear. Just couldn't resist."
If this was anyone else you would've kicked them by now. But after a bit you start to think it's pretty funny, you probably would have done the same thing.
When he's calm, he reaches out to touch your shoulder. "I sincerely hope it all turns out well, my dear. I wish you the best." He gets up and motions to leave before he stops. "If you care for him as much as he cares for you, I don't think it can ever go wrong. Just be gentle now." He winks you a goodbye.
His words of encouragement leave you thinking about the commitment you made that morning and the man that dared make it with you.
It's the middle of the afternoon when you wake up very disoriented from a long nap. You struggle to open your eyes when you see the canvas of a tent that is not yours. It's the picture of Copper to your right that tells you where you are and when you see it you begin to panic.
In your confused state, you bolt upright to put on your boots as fast as possible before anyone can catch you in Arthur's tent. You're already planning an escape route when it finally hits you that you and Arthur are no longer a secret item, the memory of that morning coming back to you. You feel embarrassed with yourself and you slump back into the cot as you call yourself an idiot. As you lay on his pillow, you smell Arthur's scent and you grab it, holding it in your arms as you think of him.
After a moment you sit up again to put on the remaining boot and you spruce up the place a little, removing any signs of your nap. You think it'll be lovely to decorate the tent with some nice flowers so you head out to search for them. It's unfortunate someone catches you on your way out.
"Moving in already, I see." Dutch speaks from the inside of his tent.
"No, just returning something that isn't mine," you try to lie.
As you make your way through camp, you hear a horse approaching and for a second you leap at the thought that it's Arthur's. You're completely astonished when you see it's none other than your mare, Rosemary. You almost run to greet her as she approaches her usual hitching post. She strolls in casually, as if she's pretending last night didn't happen.
"Rosemary!" you yell out as she ignores you, reaching for some hay on the ground. "Where have you been, girl?" You can't help but shower her with affection when you reach her. Her black mane and tail are disheveled due to last night's storm, but she seems fine. Her pearly white coat is shiny from the rain. Somehow the saddle is still in place and your bags are still attached. You reach for some carrots and feed them to her as she willingly takes them.
"This your horse, Miss Y/N?" Javier approaches you as he dismounts from his horse, Boaz.
"Yes. I don't know how, but she found her way back to camp! Isn't that some miracle?" You start to brush her as she reaches for more hay.
"She's a fine horse." He pats her gently on her back. "A new boyfriend and a miracle horse. Some people have all the luck!"
You can't help but smile a little at his remark. You're just too happy to have Rosemary back.
You're almost done grooming her when you remember to check your uncle's package that you went pick up at Emerald Station. Luckily for you, the package is small enough to fit in the saddle bag and you find it still wrapped, unharmed by the storm. You wonder what could be so small. "Thank you for getting this to me, girl." You feed another carrot to Rosemary for a job well done.
You unravel the brown wrapping paper to find a small wooden fancy box and a note:
For my favorite niece as she embarks on a new beginning in New Hanover.
May you hang your hat where your heart desires and may you be the happiest there.
I wish you the best.
All my love,
Your Uncle Frederic
You hold the note to your chest for a brief moment as you remember your uncle with the utmost affection. You gently open the box to reveal the most beautiful hatpin you've ever seen.
You smile as the tiny white crystals on its pinhead glisten with the afternoon sun. A small breeze tickles the hairs on your neck. Rosemary neighs for another treat.
It's already nighttime when Arthur finally arrives with John and Charles. You head to greet him when you hear John argue with him.
"There's no sense in wasting our time, Arthur! Let's do it quick and get it over with!" You can see they're both flushed by the argument. You used to get that same color when you had a spat with your older sister back in the day.
"I seem to recall that the last time you tried to do something quick, some wolves carved their names on ya." Arthur quiets down the moment he sees you and lets a wide smile escape his lips. You do the same.
John tries to keep the quarrel going but he's met with silence. You hang back a bit before you approach them, letting them dismount and head to camp before you and Arthur can be alone.
"Good luck with this dingbat, Y/N. I don't know what you see in such an ass!" John utters his insults loudly as he walks by you to make sure Arthur hears them. But as far as you're concerned, Arthur's ass is no insult at all.
"Evening." Charles greets you solemnly, clearly exhausted from having to ride alongside the other two.
You look back at Arthur and see his smile hasn't waned from his face. Neither has yours.
He approaches you and before you know it he gives you the most passionate kiss, nearly pinning you down to the ground as he bends you backward. You try to get him to back off as you begin to gasp for air. He eventually subsides.
"What was it that you said? 'Best kisser west of Saint Denis', was it?" he reminds you as you try to catch your breath.
"You saw who came back?" you nod over to Rosemary by the stabled horses.
"Would you look at that! I told ya she's a keeper." He looks down at you again. "Who wouldn't want to come back to ya?"
He looks like he's gonna kiss you again but he suddenly motions his index finger over his lips. And then you hear it. Sean and Karen are approaching you, clearly having something to drink. What's worse is they're talking about you.
"They make a great couple!" Karen blurts it out like she means it.
"I'm just glad the Englishman is finally getting laid! Maybe now he can stop being such a bastard!" Sean is tipsier than her.
Arthur does not wait to hear the rest of the conversation. "Let's get outta here." He leads you to his tent as he grabs your hand. This time he's not hiding you, but shielding you from the horrors of camp. You're especially thankful tonight.
When you finally sit down at his cot, he leans back and lets you cuddle around him. He smells the flowers you picked that afternoon before putting them back on the vase.
"So, how did the fellas take the news?" you ask him, inquiring about the execution of your morning plan.
"Well... It turns out... They already knew about us." He sighs.
"Yeah, well, so did the girls it seems."
"Guess we didn't do much of a job hiding it." He chuckles repeatedly.
"I guess not." You mimic him.
You look at each other and before you know it you are both laughing uncontrollably.
"I guess we just love each other too much to hide it." You suggest.
"I guess so." He nods in agreement.
"I haven't shown you what my uncle sent me!" You fiddle with your skirt as you try to find the pocket that holds the box with the hatpin. You open it and show it to Arthur.
"That's beautiful, Y/N!"
You touch the hatpin with your fingertips but don't remove it from the box, scared you'll break it. "My uncle has great taste. Just like mamma." Arthur squeezes your shoulder at the mention of your mother, knowing how much you miss her.
You sit up and place some of your belongings on Arthur's side table. "You think I can leave my things here? I don't want to go back tonight."
"Sure." It takes a moment for him to understand your words. "You ain't going back to your tent then?"
"Not tonight, no." You look forward to waking up and seeing the unfamiliar canvas of his tent again.
"You won't sneak out in the middle of the night either?" he asks with puppy eyes.
"No, not anymore." You lean in for a small kiss. "It's my turn to keep you warm." He reaches for another and holds his position.
You remove Arthur's hat as it gets in the way and you place it on the side table, next to your hatpin and your Uncle's note.
May you hang your hat where your heart desires and may you be the happiest there.
A/N: So I looked into treatments of hypothermia and turns out you are NOT supposed to take a hot bath after!! It's a big no no! You are suppose to let the person warm up gradually by removing all the wet clothes and using warm towels. But! This is a work of fiction and so I left it in. Getting Arthur wet was too good to leave out.
Skin to skin contact is an acceptable form of treatment though! So getting naked together is very much encouraged!! ;)
summary: Your new horse throws you off, right into a damn river. Luckily, Arthur is by your side to warm you up.
2100 words, 11 minutes reading time
Maybe it wasn't the best idea to take your new horse to an excursion with Arthur. You have had a bad feeling about it, that's for sure, but you hadn't expected it to go this badly. It was difficult keeping up with Arthur, almost impossible to convince your horse into a consistent pace. Every rustling of leaves, or snake in eye shot scared the shit out of it. You have had three close calls of being thrown off in merely an hour. Your patience was running thin and you swore that you'd dismount any minute. If it wasn't for Arthur.
He was having a splendid time, watching you struggle. He teased the shit out of you. "Thought ya could ride?" "Have ya grown incompetent over night?" "I could ride better than that when I was Jack's age!" You'd heard a couple of very creative insults since you left the camp. The first few times you shot back, later you only gave him a bitter smile everytime he made a comment. Nevertheless, when you had long lost your patience, Arthur was still very calm about the riding situation. He'd wait patiently for you to catch up if you fell behind or speed up without any complaint if your horse was out of control and darted ahead. When you couldn't stir it into the right direction, Arthur would help by shooing it or blocking the way with his own horse. The teasings stopped eventually and he'd only ask you if you were okay when it reared up and you had to hold on with your dear life.
For the last ten minutes, everything was going fine. If you continued to travel with this speed, you'd be in Valentine shortly after sunset. It was quiet, only the Dakota River gurgled. You were about to cross it. Maybe you had let your guard down too much, you blinked and the next thing you realized was that you were flying through the air. With a splash that had Arthur pull his horse to an immediate stop, you found yourself plunged in the river. As you sat up you didn't know if you should be grateful that the water was deep enough to brake your fall without having your head split open on a stone or if you should curse it for the same reason, seeing that you were soaked from head to toe.
The first thing you saw after you helplessly scrambled to your feet was your horse, suspiciosuly calm as if it were sorry, standing next to Arthur's mare. Arthur remained seated on his horse, a wide, silly smile on his face. As you locked eyes, you were close to tears of frustration, just as much as Arthur was close to breaking out into laughter.
"Come on, y/n. Could have been worse. Could have been pierced on a stick or yer brain all splattered on a rock", Arthur tried to cheer you up.
"I guess", you sighed, climbing onto your horse once again. As you swunng your leg around the horse's back, water ran out of your pants like you had turned into a waterfall. The wet clothes stuck to your skin and you already started shivering. Summer meant nothing so close to the Grizzlies. The wind which you had barely felt before made every hair on your body stand up.
"We'll set up a camp nearby, get ya warmed up at the fire", Arthur suggested. He led the way, out of the river and off the track until he had found a nice spot for a camp. You were glad he hurried, because your teeths had started clattering and you lost the feeling in your toes, which were swimming in your soaked boots.
"This'll do", Arthur dismounted and quickly took a blanket off his horse, "get out of those clothes before ya turn all blue." You mumbled a thanks that was drowned by the clatter of your teeth. You hid behind a bush, struggling to get out of the clothes while violently shivering. The few seconds you stood stark naked in nature, before you wrapped the blanket tightly around you, didn't help either. You returned with the pile of wet clothes in one, and your boots in the other hand at the fire, somehow still managing to keep the blanket around you. You would have murdered for a hot bath.
The fire was still small, though Arthur was showing his skill in getting a decent campfire started. When flames grew bigger you felt the warmth on your frozen limbs. "I don't know if I ever want to sit on this horse again", you mumbled. Your teeths were still restless and your body still shaking. Arthur squated next to the fire, putting on a kettle with coffee. "It seemed sorry to've thrown ya off", he smiled, looking at you shortly before he decided you were not even closely enough dressed to make it appropriate to look. As you settled down Arthur went to get another blanket from your horse. You had decided to not go near it for now.
"Yeah, well...should've thought about it sooner. Why did it rear up anyway?", you asked, receiving the second blanket.
"Not sure. Maybe there was a wolf or bear nearby."
You grunted as answer. One blanket was wrapped around your lower body, it only reached to your ankles though. Your feet were still cold, despite having them as close to the fire as you dared. The sencond blanket was wrapped around your shoulders, your hands somewhere hidden underneath, gripping ends of the blanket to prevent if from slipping of. Your hair was still wet and clung to your forehead and neck. It was brutal with the wind. Arthur couldn't stand sitting down at the fire, because this meant looking at you - and he just couldn't do that. He wasn't sure what it was, but knowing there was nothing underneath the blankets but your bare body made him seek distraction quickly and urgently.
"Yer real unlucky...", Arthur said as he took the canvas from his horse. You knew exactly what he meant. Before you left camp, you both had decided to travel lightly, no spare clothes, no winter coats, nothing but your bedrolls, the blankets and a thin canvas that could serve as a tent in an emergency, you hadn't thought you'd have to use it.
"Oh, trust me: I know", you answered. There was a smile on your face that Arthur couldn't see, since his back was towards you as he set up the tent. You were cold and had a rough day on horseback, that was for sure. All your clothes were wet and you'd have to spend the night naked, wrapped in blankets. But you were also spending time with your all time favourite man...your best friend, so to say. You had known Arthur for years and you had grown comfortable around each other. If you could avoid it, you would never tell him that you have had a crush on him for the longest of times. You had never said and would never say something because you knew it was more comlipcated than that. You knew about Mary and that she had started to contact Arthur again and...yeah. A sigh escaped your lips as your thoughts ran wild.
Still, there was this little spark of hope that maybe, just maybe...
"Y/n", Arthur called you so you'd notice the hot cup of coffee he's dangling in front of your face.
"Sorry - thanks Arthur", you took it, almost burning your hand. You brushed Arthur's hand very briefly. It's not like this was unusual, not like you had never shaken hands before or tended to each other wounds if necessary. He probably didn't know that you held those memories dear, probably remembering every little affectionate attention he'd ever shown you. "Well, you got some nice warm hands, Mister", you wailed pitifully, looking up to Arthur.
He scoffed: "I didn't decide to go swimmin' in a freezing river." You smiled gently, the way he looked at you had you melting. Of course he was teasing again, but his gaze was gentle and caring. He didn't like seeing you shivering, you could tell.
"Would you...", you blushed at the thing you were about to ask for, "put your hand on my back." You saw Arthur's face freeze. It was as if he had stopped working for a few seconds, before he awkwardly looked around as if there was anyone close. "What?", he sheepishly asked. "Your hand. On my back", you repeated, finding pleasure in seeing Arthur so helpless, "I got it turned away from the fire. It's not warming up." "Well then turn around so it is towards the fire!?", Arthur wildly suggesting, too shy to simply comply. "'Course, but then the other side of my body is turned away from the fire. I mean - if you want to hold and warm that with your hand instead, be my guest!", you grinned cheekily.
Arthur took his place next to you, mumbling something under his breath which sounded like "god damn" and "tease". You maybe dropped the blanket from your shoulders a bit more than necessary, definitely more than Arthur would be able to cover with one hand, and the cold air sent a violent shiver through your whole body. This was instantly rewarded with a warm hand on your skin though. Your sigh of relief made Arthur stiffen up next to you, but you sipped your coffee in peace, finding comfort in his body warmth.
You sat for a while in silence before you exchanged some thoughts about the journey. With every opportunity, you shuffled a bit closer. You loved Arthur's smell and warmth that radiated from his body. This was your opportunity to get a closer to him. It was already rare to get him alone and away from camp; but this evening was different.
"Thank you", you mumbled after a while. Your head and arms rested on your knees, as your eyes were getting heavier and the night darker.
"Sure", Arthur cleared his throat. At first, his hand had remained still, but after a while Arthur had started to move it. His thumb was never restless but always caressing your skind gently. Also, the hand had wandered. It had started on your shoulder, then had traveled to the back of your neck, slowly sliding down ever so slightly. Now it was resting on your lower shoulder blade, his body warmth seeping through your skin.
Arthur sighed: "Sorry I can't do more. We should get some rest." Arthur looked at you from the side. You didn't want this to end.
"I could really do with a warm body next to me", you whispered.
Despite the red orange flames, you saw Arthur blush: "You mean-? Yer sure?" You nodded slightly. You weren't even sure if Arthur interpreted it the way you intended to, but when you both got up and crawled into the tent and he started getting out of his jacket and unbuttening his shirt, you knew you had an understanding. "Ya better share one of the blankets with me then", Arthur said in a hushed voice. His shirt was fully unbuttoned his jacket was rolled up and would serve you both as a pillow. You threw caution to the wind, unwrapped one blanket and threw it to Arthur, then lied down onto your bedroll. Instinctively, you turned your back to Arthur, lifting the blanket slightly. You knew he could see your exposed back, you knew he could probably see further down too; but you cared for nothing but his warmth.
He pulled you closer until his warm chest touched your back, an arm wrapped around you. You knew your back was freezing and you heard - no, felt, Arthur's sucked in breath when his torso touched yours. "'m sorry", you hummed, "I'll make it up to you."
You were exhausted. The constant shivering had worn you down and you knew you'd be off to sleep soon enough.
"Ya better. This is a one time thing, ya hear me?", Arthur mumbled in a gentle voice. Arthur held you close. His hand found yours, holding it, warming it. You sneaked your feet in between his legs, sighing happily. Arthur was so close to you, you felt his beard tickle your shoulder and neck. You couldn't possibly tell, the feeling hadn't returned to your back enough, but you wondered if the softness you felt in the crook of your neck were Arthur's lips. You certainly felt his hot breath at about the same spot.
Both of you knew very well this was anything but a one time thing.
needed this to hopefully recover from my writing block lol
Summary - You find John Marston staring at you longer than you'd come to appreciate. As you confront your friend, he can't help but let it slip that Arthur has a big surprise for you.
Wordcount - 7000+ (a long read! May need some time to finish.)
Notes - Slightly modified Canon: Sean was taken by O'driscolls instead of Bounty Hunters, the events of RDR2 take place over the course of years in the three states rather than just one year (because only playing as Arthur for 1 year in game time is CRIMINAL and this is an established long term relationship!) Fluffy Morgan obviously, Dutch being a dick without actually making an appearance, John being a supportive best friend and brother.
PS: My apologies if I have irritated anyone. I've reposted in hopes that the read more works. I didn't realise you actually had to add a read more! So thank you to the person who kindly pointed out that adding one would be a good move ^^
Marston was staring at you again.
The scarred Outlaw stood at the steaming stewpot, sharp eyes stuck to you, unaware that you had obviously taken note.
It was just past 7pm, you had been taking in the thick, pungent aroma of the Bayou Nwa swamps that surrounded the Van Der Linde's new camp; Shady Belle, a quaint rundown plantation house that had been without repair or proper inhabitants for what looked like a decade now. Whilst somewhat unpleasant, you had been here in the stagnant water and shit-filled silt before when you were once just a small posse of seven men and women, all of them friends and family, off to explore the supposed wonders of Saint Denis just beyond the border of the Bayou - or rather - you had gone to scope any easy pickings and see the potentiality of robbing the city's main bank before heading back to your camp in the Heartlands of New Hanover. So yes - you were already accustomed to the smell of rotten corpses and Alligator excrement by now.
You sat idle upon the rotting wooden bench just beside the plantations main doors where you and Sadie had shared a good laugh on the situation of things; Little Jack had returned, saved by the men of the gang. You had never seen Abigail beam a smile so bright as she charged through the commotion to lock her young son into a death grip of a hug, tears of joy streaming down her rosy cheeks as she cried out many thank-you's to the boys. There had been a party that night, one that descended into an entire gang sing-along whilst Javier struck the cords of his trusty guitar. John and Abigail had retreated just after one song, wanting to make Jack comfortable in their new camp, and you had scouted around the group to find your partner: Arthur Morgan.
Your relationship had blossomed the day he returned back to Clemens Point, black and blue and horrifically injured by Colm O'driscoll and his boys. Your extensive knowledge on tending to injuries had come in useful that night and you were able to clean the awful gun wound to Arthur's shoulder whilst effectively voiding any fever or infection. Your feelings towards the Outlaw had been apparent for months; having been good friends for just over a year beforehand, running the O'driscoll Boys from the Heartlands so that your posse and Arthur's gang might be a little safer. Clearly you had pissed them off one too many times, and you spent the next few weeks blaming yourself for Arthur's kidnapp. During those weeks of you aiding Arthur; washing him, tending to his beard and hair and making sure he was well fed and hydrated, you had both admitted to eachother your true feelings. The entirety of the Van Der Linde gang had caught on many months prior but you both had been blissfully unaware until then.
It had been - and still was - a beautiful, fruitful relationship. You were both extremely gentle with eachother, attempting to outmatch the other with gifts, words or physical affection. But, you were also an unstoppable duo when it came to getting jobs done. Wherever your names were known, people knew not to piss the both of you off when you came into town, lest they want a bloodbath.
A deep sigh of relaxation escaped your lungs as you sloped down on the bench in deep thought as you remembered back on the events prior to Shady Belle, ignoring the seats complaints as the beams of wood creeked under your weight. Sadie had left a little while earlier for a small scouting mission around the Bayou alongside Lenny, voicing her goodbyes with a 'See ya later.' Kieran passed on by with a little wave and small nervous smile, prompting you with a cheerful "Afternoon, Duffy."
Your eyes met the little pot of stew just ahead once again, investigating who had gathered round to take a bowl before you decided to go in and offer yourself some of the contents: Tilly, Jack and John were huddled around the pot, Jack attempting to take himself out a ladle of the sloppy liquid.
You eyed John once more out of instinct, feeling his eyes burning into you yet again. You were confused, feeling irritation begin to bubble in the pit of your stomach. Marston knew your relationship with Arthur and he knew what consequences he would be facing if he attempted anything - even now he would be getting a rather hard clip around the back of the head for staring as much as he was. Besides, he had Abigail and they seemed happy! Happier - at least, and yet, he still hadn't taken his eyes off of you. That's when you decided to act, pulling yourself up with a stretch and then sauntered over towards the pot with a lick of your lips, your stomach aching. You were hungry, afterall.
"Wolfbite." You addressed John as such, a silly little nickname Arthur had given him when you had both found John drunk as a fool and harassing the general store clerk inside of Rhodes. You had to drag him out of the shop by his arms, and as you recall Arthur had berated him for such actions; "God dammit Wolfbite, you go five minutes in the town and yer already tryin' to get us shot at!"
John shot you a displeased glare at the comment, but he knew ultimately it was just a fun little nickname - nothing as irritating and uncomfortable as Micah's retorts. Besides, you were one of John's closest friends within the gang, irritating eachother for the fun of it was just in both of your nature: "Y/n." He addressed you back, watching as Jack struggled aimlessly with the ladle.
You watched intently as John eventually came to his son's aid, gripping the handle against Jack's little hand, "Here, this is how you do it," He pulled the ladle down so that the bowl of the object took a big dip into the stew. Jack studied the way his father brought the ladle up some and then spilled the contents into the silver bowl; "Now you try, without my help."
Jack pursed his lips, focusing hard as he preformed a very similar action to his father, taking a dip and then pouring the liquid into his bowl, "I did it!"
"You sure did, Jack." John praised the boy with a ruffle to his brown hair, then began nudging him away, "Now go on, back to your mother before you drop your hard work all over the floor."
"Thanks, Pa." Jack had turned to reply, and although you spotted a brief flinch from the man, he relaxed rather quickly and replied with a, "You're welcome, son."
Jack soon made his way back, leaving you and John alone at the pot. You bent down to take your own bowl, draining some stew into it, "I'm proud of you, ya know."
"Why?" John took a small step back to allow you some room.
You drew back after filling your own dish, glancing up at John with a smirk, "Just you and Jack. You've really changed your way with him since Horseshoe."
John awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck as he too bent down to collect a bowl, "You weren't even with us at Horseshoe Overlook?"
"No," You took a spoon of soup, "but Arthur tells me a lot. Said he didn't understand why you shyed away from your own son for so long, how you and Abigail were fightin' all the time." As you blew on the hot contents within the dip of your spoon, you watched curiously as John let out a deep sigh, waving his empty bowl around as he groaned, "Of course Arthur tells you everything. What else has the old man rambled on about?"
You gave John a soft laugh and shrugged, taking a mouthful and swallowing, "Nothin' much. Just how you bellyache all the time, especially since you became a wolf's chew-toy. But between you and me? Sean had the biggest mouth," as you mentioned Sean's name, you frowned deeply.
The events over the course of the past few weeks were awfully troubling and your escape from Clemens Point had forced you all to leave Sean behind. The Greys had put a bullet through his head - he hadn't even been on the defensive from what Arthur told you.
You could see the pain in your lover's eyes as he explained the situation, how Sean had been dishonorably shot, Bill too although he had survived. How the boys almost wiped out the entire Grey family and dealt with the drunken Sheriff. The locals might have said that ridding the town of those two parasitic families was a blessing, but all blessings come with their consequences, and poor young Sean had been the unknowing sacrifice. He was your friend long before you knew of the Van Der Linde gang and Arthur. You recalled many a night of drunken laughter with Sean and your posse. He had even been the one to properly introduce you and Arthur, pushing the Cowboy to help you out when Arthur had freed you after the raid on the O'driscolls to save Sean himself. Now, Sean was gone, and even if the Irishman could be a little gutter-brained and irritating at times, you all missed him dearly.
"I do miss that kid, even if he was a little shit at times. He was an annoying little brother in a way." John was now filling his bowl though a little sluggishly as he shook his head at the reminder of Sean Macguire.
"Arthur said the same." You reply, taking another mouthful and briefly looking towards the sky as if in search of something. You then clear your throat to remind John of your previous talk before the sore subject of Sean came up, "Anyway... about Arthur."
"What about Arthur?"
You hush John with a sigh, leaning more on one foot than the other as you squint slightly to capture the man's attention, "He worries about you John. He just wants you to bond with Jack, to have what he didn't because of..." your voice trailed off, but John carried the conversation onward: "Issac and Eliza... yeah, I know." He took a small stroll over towards where a small campfire had been smouldering, setting himself down onto one of the wooden crates whilst you took your place at a fallen log.
John continued, "I've got something that he had and cherished, and that was taken away from him. I was throwin' that all away whilst he was suffering his losses. I'm a damn fool."
"I don't think you are." You chimed in quickly. You'd had a conversation of some sort similar to the one you were having with John now, remembering how Arthur understood his little brother's worries but wished he'd come and confided in him before running off for god knows how long. What you said next was almost a direct repeat of what Arthur had said to you: "I think you're misguided yes, but not a fool. Besides, you're making an effort now. That's more than enough, and Arthur seems to think so too."
John glanced up at you from his stew with a small startle, "He does?"
A soft laugh escaped your throat as you finished your meal, throwing down the bowl to rest your arms against your knees, "He's happy for ya John. All he wished for was that you and the boy got along. Seems like that wish is coming true."
John shared the smile with you, appreciating your little talk. You gave it a few seconds before prodding John with the question you had originally planned on asking him: "So, there's another thing I was gonna ask you,"
John placed his bowl below his feet in a patch of sodden boggy grass, "What's that?"
What you said next had John freeze, tighten his lips and sit up straight.
"Why were you staring at me? Wasn't hard to realise concidering I had full view of the camp from the plantation house." You leant forward slightly, a brow raising as you smirked, "Y'do realise if Arthur found out he'd have your head?"
There was a brief silence, and then John answered with a short and stubborn, "Wasn't nothing like that and you know it. You got Arthur and I got Abigail. B'sides you're my best friend who would I-"
"Easy there John you might end up losin' your voice at this rate! I'm just jokin' with ya," You shook your head, amused when John slowly forced his jaw to shut, eyes narrowed and mouth pouting as though he had been a child scolded by their mother, "I was just lost in my own head okay?" He managed to speak out bluntly.
You clearly weren't satisfied with his answer and at the right time, too. Thundering hooves alerted you to someone's return. As you and John both glanced over towards the hitching posts, you spotted Arthur skidding to a stop upon his white Arabian mount, gracefully slipping from her side to give her a gentle brush and feed before hitching her up.
You slowly twisted your gaze back round to John, a smug look crossing your face, "Great timing on Arthur's behalf. Sure you don't want me to call him over?"
"No!" John had snapped back, not out of anger, but anxious fear, and not the terrified fear but one that he usually felt when Arthur was mad with him, like a scolded child, "No- please don't. Arthur WILL have my head if I tell you."
"Tell me? Tell me what?" That statement had confused you, and clearly it hadn't meant to slip because John was now writhing awkwardly on his perch, cursing under his breath. You wanted to pry further, now completely invested in knowing what it was John was trying to hide, "Marston, are you and Arthur upto something? Come on tell me, I won't say a word. Promise."
John tried to throw his mind onto something else but to no avail. He tried averting his gaze but it was too much. His eye briefly caught Arthur, still tending to his horse. The pressure began to mount. Your eyes were staring with an intensity that almost burnt: "A robbery? Some sort of big job? Please tell me, pleassseee?!"
"Okay fine! I can't tell you everything, that would ruin it but-" He ducked a little and brought himself forward so his voice could be lowered, quickly checking on Arthur to make sure he wasn't striding over. Your confused expression only deepened as John shuffled closer and quietly spoke, "Arthur's got a surprise for you, but I can't say anything else." You guessed that, so you frowned, displeased. John then hissed a whisper, eyes wide with warning, "It would really ruin it- and don't say anything! If he finds out you even have the smallest idea he'll throw me into the swamp!"
You knew the threat of Arthur launching John into the water was one that made his body shudder. It was common knowledge within the camp that John Marston could not swim, and a common joke shared amount the many to tease him with. Even Jack took a few digs from time to time, leaving John to snap back a "Don't you start imitating your Uncle now!"
And so, you agreed, placing a hand onto John's shoulder in reassurance, "Okay, I won't say a word. Promise."
"Say a word about what?" Arthur had somehow managed to come up behind you and John without a sound, a brow raised with a dark shadow falling over his eyes from the brim of his hat. He rested his large hands upon your small shoulders, leaning down so that his mouth came to your ear, "Is Marston botherin' you darlin'?"
"Oh no not at all!" You gave Arthur a soft smile, pressing your cheek against his own, his short beard tickling the soft velvet of your skin.
John sat upright and smiled awkwardly, holding his hands upwards in a gesture, "We were just talkin'."
"Yeah I guessed that, but about what?" As Arthur spoke, the beard tickled earning a little giggle that made the Outlaw internally melt.
"About little Jack. John's been teaching him how to pour his own dinner. He's even gonna take him fishing soon." You gave John a look as if to say 'go along with it.' Whilst not entirely a lie, John had just showed Jack how to handle a ladle, the fishing part was false.
Arthur's interests had peaked at the mention of fishing. John hated the water, so this was a first, "You? And water? Fishin'? Well I never thought I'd see the day! You really are trying to bond with that kid,"
John gave Arthur a slow nod. He was anxious and he knew exactly where this was going. He couldn't escape this now...
"Looks like you an' me are goin' fishin' then, Marston! Not now, obviously. But soon. Proud of ya, brother." As Arthur gave John a gleaming smile, he cleared his throat, gently cocking his head a few times to encourage Marston away. Almost instantly he clocked on, grabing his bowl and yours too, "Well I'm off. I'll get these cleaned for you Y/n, no need to thank me. See you soon." John threw his hand to the side in a 'goodbye,' scurrying off into the crowd.
"Hey there, sweetheart." Arthur, now finally alone with you, sat to your side and gently nestled you into his side, placing his chin against the top of your head, "You okay?"
"Better now you're here," You enjoyed the warmth Arthur's broad chest brought you, inhaling the scents of tobacco and various herbs, mint being one such iconic scent. It wasn't often you and Arthur could settle against eachother without the threat of danger lurking nearby. Usually Arthur would be hurled into one of Dutch's crazy plans, hunting for the gang or out on scouting missions. You often joined him on them, but Dutch had been strict on making sure you two were in for the job rather than the time spent together. You weren't one of Miss Grimshaw's slaves luckily, Dutch and Hozier saw your great potential and wanted to put that to good use.
Now you could just relax, taking in the gentle chatter of the camp and quiet cooing of an owl overhead. Distant gurgles of Alligators could be heard some ways off. Your ear then met the gentle thudding of Arthur's heartbeat. Bliss could not come in many forms but this just had to be one of them. Usually Arthur wouldn't be so forward and open with his emotions in front of prying eyes, he tended to keep that confined to less crowded areas but tonight was different, Arthur simply didn't care for what others thought. He was still the same tough man that could load two hay stacks onto his shoulders and walk a mile without a bother as much as he was the gentle, kind and sweet man that had won you over.
Eventually Arthur pulled back from you, eyes gleaming and face a slight dash of red. You'd noticed it in the orange glow upon his face - his eyes had brightened and cheeks darkened slightly, giving away his blush. His hand found the rim of your jawline and gently nudged your head upwards to meet his gaze, "I got somethin' for yer."
"Oh?" Intrigue had your eyes widen as you sat up a little more, shoulders lax and smile cheerful. You never got used to the little gifts Arthur would bring back for you, and so you were excited to see whatever it was next. A new gun, perhaps? Maybe even a fine bit of jewellery he'd managed to pickpocket. Whatever it was, you were curious. Arthur took your hand and stood, you following suit close after. He was walking you past the plantation house towards the overgrown garden that bordered the swamp. In the near distance your eyes could pick up the glow of amber and a structure you'd never seen before. It was something like a bandstand but smaller, a wooden gazebo, creeping vines completely overtaking it's structure with little white flowers growing from each stem. From what you could gather at a glance, the shrubbery had been cut back extensively and the vines looping the wood prunes and trimmed to give it a much neater appearance. The murk had been swept away and cleaned to the best of it's ability.
You were now inches away from the structure. Awe overtook you as Arthur gently ushered you onto the steps, your eyes meeting a number of half melted candles, their flames dancing in the soft breeze. Little purple flowers were scattered across it's interior - the same flowers from Big Valley, yours and Arthur's favourite spot. There were also yarrow petals from what could have been Clemens Point, and tiny yellow orchids from up in West Elizabeth. Slowly, you began to make a connection: these flowers were from key areas you had been in during yours and Arthur's time together. The yellow orchids reminded you of the day Arthur had freed you from the O'driscolls, the yarrow a flower you had used to heal Arthur's injuries from his own kidnapp and the purple flowers in Big Valley, the place where you had both realised your feelings.
"It's beautiful Arthur..." those words escaped your gaping mouth, Arthur watching you with a wide smile as you examined the decor with sparkling eyes; "I'm glad you think so, darlin'."
"You didn't have to go through all of this effort for me... it must've taken you days to get to all of these flowers." Curiosity began to ebb once more. Your gifts had often been small and sweet, picked up by chance on the cowboys adventures across the states. Only this time... these flowers hadn't been picked by chance.
Arthur simply replied with a small nod, "It did. Three days, in fact. That's why me and John were gone three days but uh- don't tell Dutch." He cleared his throat and lowered his tone, smirking, "He jus' thinks we went out on some robbin's across the states."
"Got ya, I won't say a word." You gave Arthur a small gesture that imitated locking your mouth and throwing the key before you returned to studying the flowers and candles, "You really outdid yourself this time. How am I going to get you a better gift now?"
"There ain't no need darlin' this ain't a competition." Arthur chuckled sweetly as drew his fingers through your soft hair, gently removing some of the debris that had accumulated where you could not see - bits of grass and sticks from what he could only assume was haybales for the horses. You'd been busy.
"Still doesn't seem fair to not get you anything in return though..." You whimpered quietly. Arthur brought his hands to your face, his right hand palming your soft cheek whilst brushing his thumb across the velvety skin whilst his left thumb gently trailed across your bottom lip. Your eyes met his brilliant pools of ocean, dilating as you gave his thumb a gentle kiss. Your eyes then danced around the gazebo, attempting to take in every fine little detail. It certainly must have taken days to get this place into shape, for again you'd never noticed it before. You wondered how Arthur had found it, let alone cleared it without you noticing. You were now completely turned from Arthur who had stepped back to give you some room, your back facing him as you studied the interior some more, "Honestly Arthur how on earth did you manage to fix this thing up without me realisin' you was upto something?" The Outlaw remained silent, a little out of character to not respond to you with something sweet or sarcastic, "Oh, I get it. I ain't allowed to know. It's a secret then?"
By the time you'd finished speaking, the wooden floorboards of the gazebo creaked, and you felt a sudden change in pressure. It as if by instinct that your body decided to turn in a slow fashion. Arthur was no longer stood, but crouched. He was bent down. On one knee. His eyes wide and full of anxiety as he pulled a hand out to hold just underneath you.
"Y/n." He began, a slight stutter forming as he spoke, "The day I met you was the day I felt my world change. Ain't nobody else that has ever made me feel this way."
Your eyes were wide, bright. You stood there, your head cocked downwards meeting Arthur's gaze. From the corner of your eye you could see a brief movement within the treeline and recognised the frilly dress of Mary-Beth and the hat of Sadie. Had the gang been watching you and Arthur all this time?
"We've been on our fair share of dangerous missions, had a lot of close calls... so I guess what I'm tryin' to say is-" Arthur's throat convulsed as he took in a deep breath, taking your hand in a vice-like grip. You could feel the heat radiating from them despite being gloved - an obvious sign that his palms were sodden with anxious sweat.
"Will you take my hand in marriage?"
The world became silent, still. It was as though time itself had stopped, because you swore you couldn't feel your heartbeat anymore. Even the gentle noises the Bayou made were all but noisy. It was dead quiet.
You felt an excitement build in your stomach and a deep blush fill your cheeks. Your eyes were in a state of shock, glittering in the moonlight overhead and the flickering of candle fire below. Arthur Morgan was asking for your hand. You! You'd never even imagined a man as handsome and kind-hearted as Mr Morgan would want you in such a way, and now you were on the precipice of becoming Y/n Morgan. You wanted this so bad, but the anticipation of your longer than comfortable silence had Arthur squirming, his grip on your hand loosening. Before he could pull away in shameful defeat however, you tightened your own hand and yanked the Outlaw up, letting out an excited "Yes!"
A perfectly wide smile overpowered Arthur's emotions as he beamed happily at your response, taking you into his arms and spun with you, the most brightest and extatic laugh erupting from his chest as he brought you back down into a loving embrace.
An eruption of cheering and applause had the both of you startle before Arthur could shower you with tender kisses. He let out an irritated "Christ sake!", his eyes narrowing at the crowd. Once he recovered from the startle Arthur brought you into a tight embrace once more sighing softly against your hair, "Of course Hozier told the entire gang..."
Your eye caught Hozier skipping down from the Plantation house like a youthful young man once more, his face glowing with pride and happiness as he began to stride a little quicker over to you both with open arms, "Congratulations my boy! Oh look at you both!"
"Hozier," Arthur tipped his hat, one arm coiled around your waist, "Thank you for uh... helping me set this all up."
Hozier had been Arthur's fatherly figure alongside Dutch since adopting him into the gang all those years ago. Unlike Van Der Linde, Hozier had more of a nurturing approach, teaching Arthur how to read and write and hunt. Many of the things Arthur could do was all taught by Hozier, even horse riding, whilst Dutch was more or less the one to teach Arthur the ways of the Gunslinger, how to pickpocket and rob and strengthen himself up. With Hozier, there could have been no better man to help him organise this. That's how you hadn't noticed the Gazebo preparation. If Hozier wasn't distracting you with stories and tales, Arthur was at your side.
"Oh my pleasure Arthur, I did the same with Bessie. Only it wasn't in a swamp... or under a rotten gazebo- but you get the point." Hozier flailed his hands in the air before placing them upon Arthur's shoulder, "I am so proud of you. Both of you."
Hozier hadn't only taught Arthur. When the man had taken his hiatus with the gang alongside Bessie, they had found themselves within these here states, mainly New Hanover and Ambarino. He had actually stumbled upon you and your twin brother, Archer, along with a few members of your posse. You must've only been about seventeen at the time, maybe a little older, but you could hardly read or lift a bow. You had been the daughter of a rancher family, made an orphan when the O'driscolls had burnt down your home and everything you knew over an 'unpaid debt.' Even Hozier had been rather surprised and concerned that they had made it this far East, but alas, it had only been a small portion of the gang and the O'driscolls were plentiful. Colm had still been back where Van Der Linde's gang settled, butting heads with Dutch in a rivalry that felt as old as time itself.
You had spent many months alongside Bessie and Hozier. He had taught you how to hunt and fight as well as handle yourself with a gun and Bessie taught you how to cook - properly. It wasn't until Bessie had become gravely sick that Hozier left you and your posse. He had originally planned to take her to a doctor and return, but a man whose heart had truly belonged with his gang? You understood. Hozier had returned to Dutch and it wasn't until spotting him in the streets of Valentine that you reunited.
"Thank you Hozier, truly." With your face pressed against Arthur's chest, you sighed deeply, a smile overtaking your features. Arthur somehow managed to bring you closer, "So where's Dutch?"
"Upstairs I'd presume. He knew this was going to happen, but you know what he's like when he's in a mood." Clearly that was a dig. Hozier narrowed his eyes towards the plantation house, a scowl forming. He and Dutch had been neck a neck recently, you even recalled Hozier accusing Dutch of being way over his head, cocky and arrogant. You had to agree, Dutch had been running loops around you all recently, getting you into more trouble than it was worth. He'd even ignored Hozier's warnings of Colm's fake parley which had ultimately gotten Arthur into a life threatening situation those few months back at Clemens Point.
Arthur frowned. He had expected Dutch to at least make an appearance and congratulate you both, but he hadn't. Clearly it had gotten under his skin, so you brought Arthur's hand up, removing a glove to plant a gentle kiss against the back of his hand, "I'm sure he'll come down eventually. If not, talk to him tomorrow."
Hozier bowed his head in agreement, "Yes, let him have his moment. Besides, we've got a wedding to plan and little time to do it!" With that, Hozier scurried away, his face bright with excitement. You turned your attention to Arthur who glanced back down at you, a soft smile forming, "I'm sorry I couldn't get you an engagement ring. Figured if we're always on the brink of death then why not get wed in say... a couple of days?"
While many woman would startle at the sound of a wedding so soon, you understood the risks of an Outlaw's life. You had lived it for many years afterall, and you wanted nothing more than to take Arthur's name and call him your husband. Besides, the camp's spirits were already at it's peak with Jack's return. The Pinkertons wouldn't find you for the next few weeks, at least. There was no better time, and so, you agreed with a nod, looping your fingers around your soon-to-be husbands, "I'd want nothing more."
A couple of days had passed since Arthur's proposal. Whoever had remained awake that night congratulated you with excitement and chatter, and the next morning wasn't any different. The girls were all around you within an instant, prodding and poking you with ideas and questions alike; what dress did you want? What food? Did you want any decorations? To each of those you politely declined, knowing the gang's funds were needed for food, medicine and ammunition. Nevertheless, they all still were successful in making some arrangements.
Arthur on the otherhand found himself in conversation with Javier, Charles, Lenny and John that following morning. Bill had no desire to talk about love, but despite that, he was happy to be given an excuse to drink on the eventual day of the wedding, and Arthur knew deep down Bill was happy for him. Dutch hadn't been seen since the proposal, off gallivanting around Saint Denis with who Arthur assumed would be Micah. Hozier was more than displeased with that man's behaviour as of late, especially not showing for a majority of their adopted sons proposal and planning. Kieran in Dutch's absence had offered to make trips around the city to gather goods to which Arthur gratefully agreed, it would be the first time Kieran could leave the camp grounds without Dutch tethering him down with an iron fist. You could tell by the twinkle in Kieran's eye that he was most excited to be able to actually escape the confines of the gang.
Midday soon rolled around. Arthur was at your side, messing with your velvety hair as you both took refuge in your shared room from prying eyes and endless questions, "It ain't gonna be a big fancy weddin', gonna have to have it here cause of the Pinkertons. We ain't got the money for anything much either-"
"Arthur." You paused him in his tracks, smiling up at him innocently, "I don't care about all of that. All I care about is being able to call you my husband. Nothing more, nothing less."
The idea of calling Arthur your husband tickled you. Two of the West's greatest Gunslingers unified in marriage - a danger to truly behold. Nevertheless, you were overjoyed to take Arthur's last name. Y/n Morgan. It had a nice ring to it.
"So, who's gonna be your best man?" You quizzed Arthur curiously, slowly laying downward to rest your head against the Cowboy's lap to which he began carding his fingers through your hair.
Arthur paused for a second, humming to himself. There was a slight nervous energy and you could see his jaw muscles working themselves, "Guess I'm stuck between John and Lenny..."
"Lenny's a brilliant man and a great friend. The youngen' definitely has life to him, got me out of a few binds now. Dare I say he's probably one of the members I'm closest to- aside John." Arthur dug fingers into his stubble and scratched, indicating that he was deep in thought. It was one of the many small things he did that you took notice of with a sweet smile.
"Marston and me? We're practically brothers. I've known him fifteen years. Sure, he ran from us for a time but he's proven his loyalty. Ah- I don't know..."
"Well," you squinted slightly to get a rough idea of what you were going with, "Why don't you make one of them the ring bearer and the other your best man?"
Arthur's brow rose slightly, jaw parting in a little gasp of triumph before he turned his gaze to you with a wide grin, "You little genius!"
"Eh what can I say? I'm good with organisin'." Your shrug was half arsed with a smug smile plastered across your face. Quickly you were hoisted from Arthur's legs and your head embraced by his giant hands only for him to bring you upward, planting a heavy kiss against the tip of your nose. Arthur was obviously excited, it had you fluster and giggle sheepishly. After all this time with you swooning over eachother Arthur still found ways to make you shy and giddy.
"Well then Cowboy, if the weddin' is tomorrow you'd best get your arse off the bed and go organise your new ring bearer and best man!" Your eyes shifted to the sky outside, noting that midday had well and truly passed. There was still a lot to do and time was seeping through the cracks faster than you liked. Arthur took note of your suggestion with a low hum in agreement and a nod, gently shifting you aside. He scooted towards the door, paused, galloped back to place a soft kiss against your lips and was off once more, only this time he'd actually left. You could've sworn you heard a hushed giggle of excitement echoing down the hallway as he scampered down the stairs of the plantation house.
Rolling your eyes with amusement you hoisted yourself up and shifted yourself towards the outside balcony just ahead of you. You had already ran your plans by Miss Grimshaw and the girls, so you didn't need to go and make any last minute changes or decisions. You'd been up most nights to arrange that, so fatigue gripped you like the talons of an Eagle. You'd rather spend the rest of the day resting up for tomorrow.
Leaning your arms heavily against the banister of the balcony, a fresh cigarette finding your lips, you scanned the clearing below. You spotted Arthur over towards Pearson's stew pot exchanging happy conversation with Marston and Lenny. Grimshaw was pacing the entire camp with a keen eye, making sure the girls were hard at work on whatever it was they were tasked with; sewing clothes, fixing up the camp and discarding debris - you name it.
Javier, Bill and Swanson were exchanging sharp glares, their hands gripping firmly onto cards that they had tucked against their chest around an old wooden table. Whatever sort of card game they were playing - it was serious. You caught a glimpse of Kieran running his hand slowly through the mane of his own mount and surprisingly exchanging words with Sadie, the both of them smiling and giggling with eachother. Who'd have thought... Mrs Adler making amends with an ex-O'driscoll? Kieran was a fine soul, an anxious mess and hardly an O'driscoll at all. The poor kid couldn't even lift a gun without chewing five layers of skin from his lips. Nevertheless, you were happy the two were exchanging words without Sadie threatening to remove his jugular.
You struck the matchstick, carefully lit your fag and took a long drag, allowing the smoke to escape through your nostrils as you took a deep sigh outwards.
"Hey." The voice behind you had you almost drop your freshly lit cigarette from your lips, though the paper had luckily stuck to the bottom of your lip, flopping around before you nestled it back into the left hand corner of your mouth. Spinning, you came to face the man who had almost ruined your moment of tranquility: John Marston. He had left Arthur and Lenny's side some time ago whilst you studied the rest of the camp, and now Arthur was sat beside Hozier under the canopy of one of the tents, his arms flinging to and fro in some mad explanation of god knows what.
You turned your attention back to John, patting the wooden rail beside you, inviting him to take a spot beside you, "almost made me drop my cigarette," You gave John a narrowed glare, watching as his expression went from relaxed to anxious within a matter of seconds as he met your gaze, "Oh- sorry y/n I didn't mean to scare ya-"
"Oh shut up ya big wuss I'm only jokin'!" You gave Marston a gentle shove against the shoulder, earning an amused smirk from one of your best friends within the camp. Aside from Arthur, John had always been there for you. He saw the chemistry between the both of you before anyone else, noticed the way you both gazed at eachother and even teased Arthur a great deal around camp before you'd even been invited into the gang. You couldn't even count the amount of times John had saved your arse on missions, and whenever a robbery had came up, it was always you, John and Arthur to take the call of the wild. You as a trio were truly a force to be reckoned with.
"Thanks for not gettin' me in shit today. I'm really happy for you both y'know," John had whipped out a cigarette of his own, now giving you a hearty shove whilst tweaking his eyebrows, "Jokes on you, I've got premium cigarettes! Not those flimsy shit sticks you got hanging out that gobby mouth of yours, half-eye."
"Uhm!" Letting out a playful snigger you crossed your arms and removed the now stumpy butt from your mouth, pinging it from the balcony with an agile flick of your fingers, "I'll have you know I still have both my eyes, Marston." You made emphasise on 'Marston', earning a soft chuckle in response as he rest his arms against the beam of the balcony, eyes tracing the camp to find Arthur now red faced and scoffing at a very pleased looking Hozier whome fiddled with Arthur's ring finger, tongue poking from the corner of his mouth in concentration. Your eyes too caught the scene, smiling softly at the sight before you, "Hey, does this mean I get to call you brother now too?"
John tipped his head, his bottom lip pronounced a little more in thought as he spat his own cigarette butt from his mouth and turned to face you, "Y'know what, I think it does."
"Well then, I'm gaining a pretty cool brother tomorrow too," You shot John a little smile, watching with a smirk of amusement as John blinked, stood and began to imitate himself throwing up. He then snorted a laugh, opening his arms and beckoned you in for a friendly embrace, "All things considered though Y/n, that man down there?" His thumb pointed down towards a now very chipper Arthur listening to Hozier's rambling. You gazed down with a soft smile and returned your attention to John, taking a step back with hands against hips leaning heavily to one side as John continued, "He loves you. Loves you one hell of a lot... don't think I've ever seen him this happy before."
"Well it's a good thing I love him one hell of a lot too then ain't it?" A buzzing sensation passed through your spine as you sagged yourself halfway over the banister, sighing happily as you watched Arthur and Hozier, a rosy blush filling your cheeks.
John slowly nodded, "Yeah, it is good. Everythin's good... well, Arthur made me his best man and Lenny the ring bearer so I guess I'll be off. Got plannin' to do."
As John went to leave, you turned your attention to him, calling for him to stop before he disappeared. John peered round the corner of the balcony doors at you, a questioning gaze.
You simply smiled, a genuine smile of happiness and thanks as you softly sighed, "Thanks for keepin' me company. You know you mean a lot to us both, right?"
John huffed a sigh, a wide smile in response, "Yeah, I know. You know where to find me if you two need a helpin' hand." And then he slipped away, presumably in search of his own little family.
Taking in a deep breath whilst steadying yourself on the rails with your hands, taking in the rather relaxed atmosphere, you dipped your head in comfort, a gentle smile dawning your features. All was well, all was pleasant... the sound of chittering Sparrows and the low rumble of Alligators brought a rather fair harmony to the Bayou, you'd all by now gotten acquainted with the smell of rotten bog water, and for what it was worth, everything felt perfecrly balanced for once in such a long time.
Arthur turned his attention up towards you, watching on as the golden rays of sunlight glowed against your soft features, awestruck and beaming a lovestruck smile as the wind caught your hair ever so gently.
Nothing could encompass this feeling - such a rarity that you longed to last forever.
here again to talk about rdr2 but i absolutely love this scene in "Money Lending and Other Sins VI" where Arthur approaches the widowed Mrs. Londonderry to reclaim their debt.
And these. These frames may just look like regret on Arthur's part for trying to rob a widowed mother and her son.
But i think this means something deeper to his character. Only twice in the entire game does Arthur mention that he used to have a son. Both are hard to miss and require high honor.
Eliza and Isaac were people from Arthur's history whom he seemed to love at least in some level. Isaac seemed to be an accident with Arthur and Eliza but still Arthur visited them from time to time and gave them money so that they could live a normal life. But Arthur tells to Rains Fall how one day he came to visit and only found their graves. Killed in a robbery. Arthur also tells how it hardened him. And how he never really coped with their deaths.
So this moment where he is in the position of the robber coming to demand money and seeing a small boy with his mother. The way he looks at the boy and then away in shame. It must have hurt him even more than what seems from the surface. I think he felt disgusted with himself even more than previously.
In the previous debt collection you've had the option to absolve or reclaim the debt. But in this you only got the option to absolve the debt or absolve the debt and give money to the mother. The game doesn't give you and option to take anything from them.