Overall rating: PG-13 to very mild R
Genre: slash, het, humour, romance, drama, a wee bit of angst
Fandoms: Pirates of the Caribbean (Royal Navy of the Caribbean), Garrow's Law

Pairings/characters: Norrington/Gillette, Garrow/Sarah, Jones/Jasker, Mr. Southouse, Mr. Silvester, Sir Arthur Hill, Mary, Mr. Farmer and many more. Cameo by Jack Aubrey.

Warnings: None. Just keep in mind that the story is set in the 18th century.

Please click here for summary, disclaimers and additional information.

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Mr. Southouse was on his way to Newgate prison. The crowded streets of London were rough terrain on the best of days, but even more so in the middle of winter. The snow settling on his hat was heavy and wet, and his shoes and stockings were soaked. He'd have to check for frostbite upon his return and maybe apply a mashed onion poultice. Years ago, a warm fire would have welcomed him, a table set for tea and buttered muffins. Ah, the lovely muffins Elisa used to bake! But times had changed. Yes, there would be a fire, lit by his loyal maid, but there would be no muffins and no Elisa.

Southouse sighed, clutching the briefcase with his papers closer to his chest to protect them from the snow. Life as a widower wasn't easy. Elisa had been his best friend and companion for twenty years, and he missed her company and wit. Of course he could have remarried; the indefatigable Sarah Garrow had hinted more than once that it might be time for him to find somebody new to share his life. Her husband, always one to put words into action without the bothersome detour of thinking said actions through first, had arranged more than one musical soiree at the Garrow's home, inviting a suspicious number of unmarried womenfolk. Will had been as subtle about his matchmaking as a cattle-dealer praising his prizewinning cow. At least Sarah sang prettily and Will accompanied her with tolerable skill on the fortepiano.

Southouse made a mental leap from cows to milk to tea to maid, which led back to the case he was working on. Very unpleasant; a maid's apron had caught fire while working in the kitchen, and to patch her dress, she'd used rags from one of her mistress' discarded garments. The lady in question had then sued her for theft, and-

His thoughts were interrupted by a collision with a fellow pedestrian. Heads bumped, glass broke and something heavy hit his left foot.

"Good grief, Sir, mind your step!" The woman he'd run into stared down at the basket on the ground and the broken bottle of wine. A loaf of bread, cheese, a book and some candles lay in the snow.

"My apologies, I was lost in thought." Southouse hastened to gather the items back into the basket.

"Thoughtless, rather," she said, pushing the glass shards aside with her foot. Southouse noticed a blue shoe and a delicately shaped ankle. The wine had left a large red blotch in the snow and stained his stockings and breeches. And red wine of all things! How would he get the stains out? Maybe Sarah would know.

"Now look at this bloodbath! Anybody would think I'd tried to murder you."

Southouse straightened up and handed the woman her basket. Luckily, she looked irritated rather than angry. Southouse decided to be his most gallant self.

"If that was the case, I'd offer to defend you pro bono." He lifted his hat and hinted a bow. "John Southouse. Attorney."

"Southouse?" She looked at him in surprise. "Well, you don't look like the description in the papers at all."

"I dare not ask if that is a good or a bad thing," Southouse said, and she laughed.

"Considering the high standards of the papers I read, it's a compliment. I'm Margaret Caskey. Mrs. Caskey, that is. And you've broken my bottle. That wine didn't come cheap, you know."

"Indeed I have. I will replace it, of course."

This had not been Southouse's original intention; after all, Mrs. Caskey could have watched her step as well, but it was a bit difficult to turn down the request of a woman who, despite being in her forties, had the smile of a girl, mischievous brown eyes, laughter lines and, from all he could tell, still most of her teeth. Southouse also noticed her neat blue dress and, with no small delight, her ample bosom. Indeed, Mrs. Caskey was a lovely sight and seemed to be cheerful company. Lucky Mr. Caskey, Southouse thought.

"Very generous, Mr. Southouse, but there's no need for that," she said. "It's his last week, after all."

That remark made no sense to Southouse. "I beg your pardon?"

"My son's last week," she repeated. "Next week, he'll be released from Newgate; I was on my way to deliver these supplies to him."

Southouse quickly ran through all the cases he'd stored in his memory. Caskey, Caskey - no, that didn't ring a bell. Certainly not a case he or Garrow had been entrusted with, and not a case spectacular enough to be mentioned in the papers, either. So his reputation wasn't at risk, and the company of Mrs. Caskey would make the rest of the way far more pleasant.

"In that case, we're heading the same way. I'd be delighted to accompany you to Newgate and ensure that you'll arrive there safely, Mrs. Caskey."

Again she laughed. "I could imagine that your clients would be fazed by such a statement!"

Southouse thought of Mr. Caskey with a distinct feeling of envy.

* * *

"Isn't London wonderful?"

Gillette had asked this question a dozen times since they'd left the Dauntless to visit Gillette's cousin, and Norrington had run out of enthusiastic comments. As far as he was concerned, London wasn't wonderful at all. It was a loud, rude, dirty and chaotic nightmare; one could not take a single step without bumping into people. If it had been up to him, he'd have turned on his heel and spent the time until his appearance in court aboard their ship, but he didn't want to disappoint his first lieutenant, who had been born and bred in London.

"What's your cousin like?" Norrington asked to distract Gillette from yet another outburst of localism.

"John?" Gillette considered the question for a moment. "A bit smug and he can't hold his liquor, but that aside, he's a nice enough fellow. You'll like his wife, she's lovely. And he's very successful, I've heard."

"Getting people hanged must be lucrative business then," Norrington grumbled. "I don't know if it's really a good idea to visit him, Thomas. What if he notices something? I don't feel like filling his purse and getting hanged."

"Eh, don't worry yourself about that," Gillette said cheerfully. "He'd be far too embarrassed to have a cousin with such ungodly desires to drag us into the dock. He loves the law, that's true, but he loves himself even more, trust me on that. We're a very practical family."

"Let's hope so, by goodness," Norrington said, but he didn't look too convinced. "Are we there yet?"

"Just across the street. There, see the house with the green shutters?"

Norrington blinked through the snow, then nodded. They crossed the street and Gillette reached for the knocker in the shape of a bulldog's head. Norrington narrowed his eyes and read the golden plaque beside the door. John Silvester, Barrister.

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Dramatis Personae
The Stories
Yuletide Tales: "THIN ICE" - Chapter 1
by Molly Joyful