Author: Laurethiel1138 Title: Resolution Fandom: North & South (Elizabeth Gaskell) Note: Response to the October Write By Theme “No Dialogue” Challenge . Also, as I haven’t read the book yet, this is strictly based on the BBC miniseries. Timeline: After the end (so spoilers beware). Pairing: John/Margaret Disclaimer: Not mine, not even Armitage’s Thornton. ________________________________________________________ They were on the train bringing them North, to Milton. John Thornton, tired as he was from his trip to Helstone, did not dare close his eyes, for fear that all the scene at the train station would be a dream, and that he would wake up without the welcome weight of Margaret Hale’s head on his shoulder. He could hardly believe, that, after all his trials, such felicity was within reach, that not only would Marlborough Mills, his life’s work, be safe from ruin, but that Margaret – his Margaret, at long last! – loved him enough to consent to marry him. When he had first proposed, it had been under the misguided impression that her actions at the riot had revealed a certain depth of feeling. He had long since reconciled himself to the fact that he had undoubtedly, hopelessly and irrevocably fallen in love with this maddening woman who simply wouldn’t take no for an answer, and had not paused to think that her feelings might not be similarly engaged. He had received her refusal as well as might be expected – which is to say, not well at all – and his heart had smarted under the crushing rejection. And still he would not stop loving her. Little by little, almost unconsciously, he implemented slight improvements to his workers’ daily life, showing that he was taking into account the many criticisms she had laid down at his door. Why, he had even given work to Higgins, and God knew he was under no obligation to do so. Still, the plight of the Boucher orphans the man had taken under his wing had touched him more than he cared to say, and had brought forth memories of long hours spent at the back of a draper’s shop, working tirelessly to give his mother and sister the life they deserved. If he couldn’t have Margaret’s love, then let him at least earn her esteem and respect. His resolution had almost faltered, when he had seen her embracing the man at the train station. His blood had boiled in his veins, a sudden fit of jealousy seizing him. He had watched, powerless to avert his gaze, as she embraced the man with all the tenderness he had wished for himself. Of course she didn’t love him! Her face, even as her mother lay dying, held such joy to be in this stranger’s presence, and revealed that her feelings were otherwise engaged. Then had come the inquest, and John Thornton had hesitated. Did he let Margaret be accused, or did he use his powers as magistrate to shield her form the law? In the end, though his head dictated the former, his heart refused any solution but the latter. Let her be happy, even if it were not with him. If only he had known that the man was her brother... Then his whole universe had come crashing down upon his shoulders. The strike had taken away whatever funds he had managed to spare, and out of his distaste for speculation – a failed investment made by his father had lead him to take his own life, his only son becoming the head of his family at the tender age of sixteen – he had refused to take part in his brother-in-law’s ultimately successful scheme. And Margaret, dear Margaret had been whisked again to the South after her father’s death, her presence taken from him, her smiles now bestowed on other, more deserving people. So it had been with regret and resignation that he had closed the cotton factory, unable to pay his workers. He took solace in the list Higgins gave him, of hands willing to be put to work again should he get back on his feet, but it was an empty consolation, as he could not reopen the mill without funds, and who would trust him with such an amount? His time suddenly free of the concerns of management, he had determined to do one thing for himself, and he’d set out for Helstone on a pilgrimage of sorts. Margaret’s presence at the train station where his train had made a stop was unexpected to say the least. And then she had talked with him, and laid out her “business proposition”, and while her voice said one thing, her eyes said another. So he had dared reach out and take her hands in his, an unspoken proposition of sorts, and she had not recoiled. Hope had surged in his chest, and, mindless of the consequences, he had lowered his head, still giving her time to escape if she would, but she had not, and his lips had met hers in a restrained yet soaring kiss. And so there they were, heading home to Milton, to break the news to his mother and sister. He marveled at Margaret’s courage, that she did not put off the task. But he would be there for her, and he would make them accept his choice. His Margaret did not deserve any less.