the blackbirds swarm around johanna and she wields her parasol as a weapon, showing no mercy even as she laughs through it. toby’s hands twitch in his pocket as his eyes follow every deft swipe of it, the waving sounds it makes soft like water running.

only one remains and she gives up and heaves a sigh, opening the parasol again as her head tilts slightly and she raises a finger to her chin. “i’m sorry, sir - i was asking if we had met?”

toby’s hand closes around the razor in his pocket, the coldness of the handle shooting up his arm to his elbow and freezing him entirely to the spot. it’s taken him years - years and a sailor husband lost at sea to find her - the broad daylight shouldn’t stop him from sliding the blade across her pale pretty neck and it doesn’t; the parasol she twirls in her hands and the pure fight he saw radiating from her does.

he turns the razor in his palm before dropping it back into his pocket, the fabric heavy once more, and he shakes his head. he might as well have met her, for all the stories he’s heard of a wife and and a daughter, hair as yellow as the loose strand she tucks behind her ear, misdeeds of a judge and absent trust in a boy she dropped a key to.

he lifts his had and nods and says, “afraid not, miss.”




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