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A Shelby Mistress

Chapter Text

January 1921

Rora breakfast!

She knew that, Aurora had smelt the fire going for the last hour. Fellow travellers were laughing joyfully, too early for a morning this dark. Christmas had passed and the newly January air was bitter and unforgiving. It really wasn’t the time for travelling but once Aurora’s Dad demanded it there was no going back. 

So here she was, blanket up to her neck as she laid in her caravan bed thinking about her warm home back in Middlesbrough. The family had moved there when Aurora was a baby and growing up in a house she had never got used to travelling. Aurora loved being on the road but it was a struggle, a real struggle.

I’ll be there in a moment! I need to get dressed” Aurora yelled back to her brother David making no attempts to move and instead sunk further into the bed. 

She just needed him to leave her be, Aurora was content in her little space plus it was the first time since they began this trip that she had managed to sleep through the night. There was something about not being in her own bed that caused her to become restless and annoyed.

Righteo! Just letting you know Mam ain’t pleased with you” 

Listening to his footsteps head back to the fire Aurora let out a sigh. Of course her Mam was upset, Aurora was being difficult and no matter how she tried the two ended up butting heads. Everything she did ended in disaster, like Granny would tell her 

“you’re not a true Gypsy woman, you come from your mother’s flock” 

Her pointed nose would look down on Aurora as she thought about her daughter-in-laws side of the family. They weren’t of Gypsy heritage, in fact it had caused war when Aurora’s parents met and married. Both sides hated each other and when the kids came along everything seemed to mellow out, everyone became more reasonable except granny. 

She hated Aurora!

All her other siblings were adored by Granny yet not Aurora. She was the youngest and the most different. They all preferred the wild rough and tumble life whereas Aurora preferred books, writing and painting as she listened to the rain hitting her windows. Jane, her sister was the perfect one, beautiful, cunning, exciting. Even after she had settled down she still managed to cause perfect chaos with her affairs and behaviour much to the delight of Granny who revelled in drama. Aurora on the other hand was the quiet, shy, temperamental sister who avoided drama and people all together. 


Come on Rora you can do this” she whispered to herself throwing the blankets from her warm body and forcing herself to stand.

She could do this!

Today there would be no complaints, only smiles and common curtesy. Aurora would do anything they asked of her, She would make her Mam happy. Grabbing her brown loose fitted working dress she quickly threw it on, there was no time to waste. The sooner Aurora got outside the better! 

Brushing her hair, she took a small ribbon and tied it up in a bun, hating the way her dark curls frizzed out making Aurora look untamed and messy. 

Aurora? I’ve brought you some breakfast” she heard her Mam’s delicate voice whisper through the door. 

“Oh I was just getting ready, come in Mam!”

As the door opened Aurora placed a sweet smile on her face, it was time to play the perfect daughter and upon entering the room she gave her Mam’s cheek a kiss. 

“Good morning bairn, you seem happy” Anne smiled as her daughter took the plate from her and began to dig in. 

“It’s going to be a good day Mam, I can feel it” 

“I’m glad, I know you haven’t been too happy here” 

Guilt rippled through Aurora watching her Mam’s eyes become sad and her posture drop. Reaching for her hand, Aurora gently pulled her to sit on the bed beside me. 

I’m sorry Mam, I’m going to try harder I promise” she whispered putting her breakfast aside and looking down at her feet in shame. 

“Aurora, darling, you don’t need to try harder, this life isn’t for everyone but we do it for your Dad. He needs this right now, it’s helping him clear his head along with your brothers”

”How is he today?” she enquired feeling the guilt consume my whole body. 


The war had torn the family apart

Aurora’s Dad and three brothers went to France but only two brothers came back. 

They had lost Henry, it hit Aurora’s Dad more than anyone. The war had broke every man but losing a child had pushed him over the edge. At times Aurora thought she would lose him too, the times she had caught him with a gun to his head, the times the family would sit down to have breakfast and he would appear with angry lines lacing his throat. Nightmares plagued him, his wails woke the neighbours and left Aurora crying in fear and helplessness most nights. In her cowardice she had moved out a few months ago, eager to clear her own mind. She was nineteen and running away from her family like a misbehaved child, avoiding the worst like a plague but even after settling into a new routine Aurora found herself back with her parents. All these events had caused fighting and arguments, they were all at each others throats constantly, every second of every day. It was only when the family had hit the rood that things eased up. Aurora’s Dad was happy here, they all were in a way. Their hearts still broke for Henry yet they pushed on for each other. 

“Your Dad is getting there Aurora, he’s been asking for you” 

“What for?” Aurora questioned running her winter stockings up her legs and reaching for her boots. 

“He needs help with the horses plus he knows how much you love them so he refused help from everyone else” Anne grinned with a wink as she stood up and held Aurora’s coat open in order for her to slip in. 

“If there’s one thing I’m good at around here it’s the horses, I’ll see you later Mam”

With a quick hug Aurora hurried towards the exit and jumped out the caravan into the snow. 

Aurora! Fasten your coat or you’ll catch your death!” Her Mam yelled and rolling her eyes Aurora buttoned up my coat before continuing to run. 


Aurora could see her Dad in the distance, whispering to her brown mare Fortune and running his hands through her silky mare. She had been a Christmas present and they had all fell in love with her free spirit and gentleness. 

Morning Dad!” Aurora yelled out waving her arms dramatically and grinning widely. 

“Ah just the person I needed!” William exclaimed, turning to face his daughter with a smile that matched her own.

 Coming to a steady walk Aurora now realised just how cold it was. Her nose and ears were numb, she could feel snow starting to leak into the hole of her worn boot causing her body to shiver violently. Snapping her jaw shut she tried to keep her teeth from chattering. 

It’s worth it Aurora, your dad is smiling, it’s all worth it” she mumbled quietly to herself and taking the horse brush from her Dad’s outstretched hand she began her daily task. 


“Fortune my girl aren’t you the prettiest mare about” Aurora cooed, giggling as the mare appeared to nod her head in agreement. 

“Aurora I have some news!” William spoke up after a few moments freezing the young woman in her tracks. 

“What is it Dad? Is everything ok? Is it the business?”

It was hard not to worry, the family were down on their luck. Any news these days was surely a bad thing and while business was booming, the family unfortunately wasn’t and it was feared that soon their livelihood would crumble too. 

“Everything is fine Aurora, I think you’ll be happy to know we’re going home tomorrow” William chuckled but Aurora’s blood ran cold. 

Oh no! 

This was bad!

”I’m so sorry Dad, please we don’t have to go because of me. I’m getting used to travelling now, we can stay” Aurora pleaded dropping the brush and grabbing his arms, that old guilty feeling was taking over her again. 

Pulling Aurora into a hug William sighed and placed a kiss upon her crown. 

“It’s not you darling, I have important business to attend to tomorrow afternoon. We’ve been out here long enough, it’s time to go back to the real world” He explained pulling away from her and making a beeline for Fortune’s food. 

“May I ask what business?” 

Reaching out Aurora stroked Fortunes nose and looked at her Dad expectantly. 

“The Shelby’s are coming”