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For Benedict Bridgerton, nothing in life gave him as much pleasure as teasing his older brother and watching him squirm. Anthony had been like a father to the rest of their siblings, Benedict, closest to him in age had been 16 when their father had died and between the two of them, they had to hold it together for the younger siblings. He had seen the stoic, serious man his brother had become and he longed to have his best friend from childhood back. 

 

To see his brother happy in marriage, was Benedict’s most fervent wish, yes it would mean his mother’s attention would turn to him but if it meant Anthony was happier then he would make the sacrifice.

 

Benedict had watched Anthony storming around the balls for the early part of the season, he had watched his brother declare he would not marry for love and watched as Colin, like a mischievous little imp steer his brother into the path of a Miss Katharine Sharma. Benedict had watched from a far as for the first time in almost 10 years he saw that glint in his brother’s eye again. He watched as his brother winced and was engaged in a conversation and the fury and spark of something in his brother’s eye… Benedict stalked over to his brother, deftly avoiding Cressida Cowper who was wafting her fan at him, no thank you… he’d rather be celibate than with that vile ice queen, and then Portia Featherington and managed to sneak up on his brother.

 

“Well nicely done Colin '' Benedict smirked, clapping his brother on the back. “Anthony looks… well, he looks both furiously and thoroughly enthralled… it is rather amusing” he smirked at his younger brother.

 

“Oh I am sure he will. I am going to have to make a swift exit before the dance is over as I may have to say to Anthony that Miss Sharma could not say enough about it… and didn’t tell him the whole truth” Colin grinned mischievously.

 

“What did she say?” Benedict asked curiously as he continued to watch their exchange on the dance floor.

 

“Nothing of much consequence but she has an aversion to our Brother courting her sister due to his reputation” Colin smirked “but she is a charming woman, actually reminds me a lot of our brother in fact” Colin added at the end as an afterthought. “Oh bugger, it’s ending… I am going to make myself scarce and hide” he said and ran off before Benedict could do more than laugh “COWARD” after him.

 

Benedict continued to watch the end of the exchange and chuckled to himself as he saw the dark haired woman turn on her heel and stalk off. Though there was fury on both of their faces Benedict could see there was an attraction, a spark, and his brother did seem to have a bit of a bemused, glazed expression on his face as it then turned thunderous as he glanced around the room looking for Colin, his irritating, foolhardy younger brother with the intention of committing fratricide.

 

He clocked his oldest, but youngest sibling and stalked over to him “Benedict! Have you seen Colin!?” he half demanded of his brother who raised a brow at him “please? Have you seen Colin?” he said through gritted teeth, the rest of his siblings he could be impertinent and rude with but with Benedict he would just fold his arms around his chest and stare at him in the same haughty way he would people.

 

Benedict laughed “as a matter of fact the coward has left for the evening…” he said with a smirk on his face. 

 

Anthony growled “i am going to murder him” he said menacingly

 

“I rather gathered, as did he which is the reason he has vacated” Benedict laughed. He waited a moment before asking “So what do you make of Miss Sharma?” Benedict asked.

 

Anthony shrugged and gave the same response he gave Colin, thinking that he was talking about Miss Edwina “she’ll do” he said simply

 

Benedict snorted “you changed your mind on the sisters quickly then” he teased, Benedict knew that he was talking about Edwina. He watched as the colour drained from Anthony’s face, leaving him almost deathly white but with a red twinge to his cheeks as he spluttered.

 

“What?! God no! I thought you were referring to Miss Edwina.. Not...not…” Anthony gave a little shudder at the thought “Miss Katherine… No… absolutely not but I do need to work out a way to get her on my side… Edwina is unlikely to marry without her consent as she seems to rather dis like me” Anthony said.

 

Benedict chuckled “Oh Anthony, I watched you with Edwina, you were bored, you weren’t even paying attention to her… unlike most of the men in this room they’ve been unable to take their eyes off her but in the 5 minutes we have been talking, you keep glancing over towards were Katharine was… you were enthralled and engaged and you seemed content” Benedict said.

 

Anthony glared at his brother “Absolutely not. I am going to court Edwina, I am going to marry her and I will get Kate’s good opinion and her blessing” he said.

 

Benedict sighed “this is, by far, the dumbest thing you’ve ever done” as he watched Anthony stalk away, Benedict looked around, maybe he should get to know this Miss Katharine… maybe she will be less pigheaded than his brother.

 

Benedict grabbed a lemonade and walked around the room to look for her, surely he would be able to introduce himself but as he walked around it became clear that she had already left the ball for the evening.

 

Oh well, better luck next time, normally he would give the ball in two days a miss, as a ball held the Cowper’s was asking for a hard time but he knew that the Miss Sharma’s would be there and he couldn’t miss that opportunity.

 

What Benedict had not counted on, was the extra unexpected pleasure of tormenting his brother.

 

He and Colin had been walking and were considering paying a call on the two Miss Sharma women and were down on Milner street when a carriage pulled up and Anthony came out, spattered in mud and his bottom half completely soaked as he deposited a dripping wet and shivering Miss Edwina Sharma at the door, bid her adieu and turned on his heels, and spotted

 

“Oh for God’s sake”... Benedict and Colin doubled over laughing.

 

“What the devil happened to you?” Colin asked joivally at his brother. Anthony grumbled “get in the carriage and I will tell you on the way back to my lodgings, I need to bathe and change and one of you two idiots can take this carriage back, Montrose lives near you does he not Benedict?” Anthony asked.

 

Benedict nodded and three Bridgerton men climbed into the carriage.

 

“Well…” Colin said needling his brother.

 

Anthony immediately blurted out the entire story about coming to pay a call on Miss Edwina Sharma but finding only Katharine, or Kate as she preferred to be called at home. How they had walked her dog and how he had gotten away and then the entire debacle with the Serpentine and how he had jumped in, How Kate should not have a dog she could not manage, how Kate should do this and should do that… and not a peep about Edwina.

 

Benedict smirked at Colin, both men desperately trying not to laugh “and how was your carriage ride home with Miss Edwina?” Benedict asked

 

“Huh? Oh right… it was… we barely spoke and what we did speak of I barely remember” he said honestly, frowning at his brother with a smirk.

 

Benedict chuckled “are you sure you’re courting the right sister?” he asked as the carriage pulled up at Anthony’s lodgings and he got out without even replying but before he slammed the carriage door shut he yelled “yes!” and stalked off, not to be seen again until their mother’s musicale.

 

Benedict however turned to Colin as the two men burst out into fits of laughter. “Oh he’s absolutely deluded,” Benedict chuckled.

 

Colin nodded “yes but he is far too stubborn a man to realise his feelings for Kate and that she’s the one that he should be with” Colin said with a nod.

 

Benedict pondered this for a moment. “I have an idea…” 

 

“What…?” Colin asked

 

“Well I am quite sure that Miss Kate and I would get on famously from what I have heard about her, I am going to go meet her at the Ball tomorrow night and befriend her and make our dear brother wild with jealousy so he realises his feelings” Benedict said.

 

Colin snorted “and if he doesn’t”

 

Benedict shrugged “I shall lock them in the study together and they will be forced to marry and then realise they are right for each other at a later date” Benedict said simply



Colin snorted “This is, by far, the dumbest thing you’ve ever done but I love it” he grinned.

 

“Funnily enough I said the same thing to our dear brother last night about his intentions to court and marry Edwina… I could do with the support tomorrow night?” Benedict asked hopefully.

 

“Isn’t it the Cowper’s ball?” Colin said with a grimace, looking conflicted.

 

“It is… come and I’ll get you a box of them eclairs you love so much” Benedict said

 

“A full box?” Colin said his eyes alight with happiness

 

“Yes the one with 12 in” Benedict said

 

“Deal…” 

 

~*~

 

By the following night Benedict was partly regretting his plan. Mrs and Miss Cowper has nearly both fainted at the sight of Benedict and Colin coming into their party and their mother had been positively elated. Benedict had informed his mother that it was in no certain terms a suggestion that he himself was ready to marry but he was merely pressing the Anthony agenda instead.

 

Violet had grumbled but she was up for it as well, she desperately wanted her eldest son married off… he was 29 afterall…

 

Colin spotted Miss Sharma with Lady Sharma and dragged Benedict over “Lady Sharma, Miss Sharma” he bowed to them both with his most charming smile as they greeted him and curtsied “Allow me to introduce my other older brother, Benedict” 

 

Benedict bowed and flashed Kate a bright smile “Miss Sharma, if you are not otherwise engaged would you do me the honor of dancing the next with me?” he said with a smile.

 

Kate looked at him suspiciously and nodded. Benedict beamed at her and took her head and lead her onto the floor she turned and looked up at him and said straight “I know you’re not here to try and court my sister, or get my good opinion to court her… so… are you here on behalf of your brother the Viscount?” she asked.

 

Benedict laughed as they started to dance “I am not. My brother can do his own dirty work but a woman who enraged my brother like she did the other night and then managed to cause him to go into the Serpentine is a woman I would very much like to call a friend” He grinned at her.

 

Kate laughed despite herself. He was charming, he was taller than Anthony and Colin and she could tell he was a little more reserved “well I am glad you are not here to change my opinion on your brother” she said honestly, feeling herself relax a bit.

 

Benedict grinned “I would never dream of telling you want to do, I have a feeling you would not let many men tell you what to do” he said brightly. Conversation was easy, it was simply and moved between the two of them, like they had been friends for years.

 

“No.Not at all, Mr Bridgerton and when it pertains to your brother, he had more chance of hell freezing before my opinion of him changes” she said, she should watch her tongue but she had a feeling that what she was saying wouldn’t be repeated.

 

Benedict laughed heartily “Oh Miss Sharma, Please do call me Benedict, or Ben… there are so many of us it gets confusing and I think speaking so openly like this it is only right?” 

 

“Well then you may call me Kate, all my friends do” she smiled brightly at him.

 

“Very well then Kate… so please permit me to ask one question in relation to my brother?” he asked her.

 

“Just the one?” she asked and he nodded “very well then” she said as they continued to move through the dance

 

“Why is your opinion of my brother so low?” he asked curiously.

 

Kate pondered that for a moment “a few reasons but his reputation is not something to be ignored” she said as the dance finished and they walked to the otherside of the roo to he refreshments and each took a lemonade “but I suppose part of it is his ego is so visible; I can almost watch it grow”

 

Benedict who had just taken a sip of his lemonade choked on it and he spluttered trying not to laugh. He grabbed his handkerchief and wiped his mouth and eyes which were steaming from laughing. “Oh Kate… I think you and I should get on famously” he grinned wickedly at her.

 

“I think so, Benedict. I must say you are nothing like your brother… either of the two I have met” she grinned

 

“Why should I take that as a compliment?” he grinned. They talked for the most part of the evening, Benedict found out she was an accomplished water painter so the most part of the evening was spent discussing the work of a Sita Ram who was up coming in the water colouring world. They danced a second time and by the time Benedict headed home that evening he couldn’t remember enjoying a ball more.

 

The day before his mother’s musicale was when the next edition of Lady Whistledown came out and Benedict had gone to his mother’s for tea.

 

Anthony was there doing some work and spotted his brother “BENEDICT! A word!” he yelled at his brother who, having seen the paper this morning, smirked.

 

“Yes brother?” Benedict said innocently.

 

“In here!” Anthony yelled “please” he added at the look from his brother and he stalked over, grabbed him and dragged him into his office.

 

“I hope you’re not about to ask me to be your second again…” Benedict said easily.

 

“No I am not” Anthony said, his fury evident in his voice. Benedict watched as Anthony picked up the sheet of paper and wafted it at her “what is this?” he said

 

“A newspaper?” Benedict asked sarcastically, he saw the fire in his brother's eyes and recognised it. Jealousy and rage… a terrible combo but Benedict knew he was safe. Anthony wouldn’t murder him in their mother’s home.

 

“Not funny Benedict…” Anthony snarled… “ it seems we have a new courtship to watch out for dear readers… Mr Benedict Bridgerton and Miss Katharine Sharma were inseparable last night at Mrs Cowper’s annual ball. A Ball, this Author cannot help but not the Brigderton males usually not attend… will the second son be the first to marry?”   Anthony recited.

 

Benedict scowled again at the the “second son comment” and hated it but he shrugged “we danced twice, we talked, she is a charming and lovely woman”

 

“No she is not. She is rude, she is impertinent and stubborn” Anthony said.

 

“Are you sure you’re not describing you?” Benedict smirked.

 

“You should not be courting Miss Sharma” Anthony said, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“You forget you can’t tell me what to do… Miss Sharma is a perfectly suitable candidate for me for marriage should I choose to go there… it isn’t unheard of for brother’s to marry siblings after all” he smirked

 

“That is besides the point. Stop this at once” Anthony said.

 

“It’s not like you are courting her Anthony…” he smirked at his brother who went red.

 

“Again not…”

 

“Unless you want to be of course. She would make you a better wife than Edwina would brother” he said. “I am sorry but you would be bored with Edwina within weeks of marriage. Why not opt for a love match like we witnessed growing up…”

 

“Because i don’t want that” Anthony said harshly “I can’t have that” he said again.

 

Benedict sighed “Anthony…everyone wants a love match if they can have it, otherwise people would marry younger… and you can have that… you just have to let yourself be happy. You have not been happy for years brother and I want to see it again” Benedict said rising from his feet.

 

“I…” Anthony said.

 

Benedict shook his head “I can see you’re not ready to share but I am here if you do, you know you can always talk to me about anything Brother… but I know you, better than anyone else in this world… I know you and I know Edwina would not make you happy. Please just think about it.  I am not courting Kate, but I intend to keep up my friendship with her. She is a delightful woman  and I think she would make you happy brother… when you’re ready to let yourself be happy” Benedict said as he walked out of Anthony's office.

 

~*~

 

Benedict kept his word, he didn’t call on Kate but when there was a party of gathering, he would talk to her, they would laugh and occasionally dance, at his mother’s musicale he watched Kate and Anthony looking at one another from across the room, how Anthony’s eyes seemingly moved to find her, how their movements seem to mirror one another and he was more certain.

 

He didn’t manage to speak to Kate that night, he had seen her leave, he had no idea what had occured in the study that night but he did find his mother after Lady Sharma and Miss Sharma left. “They're lovely women” Violet said as they talked of them “i hear you are Miss Sharma are…”

 

“We’re friends' mothers… I think despite Anthony’s comments about courting Miss Edwina, I am certain Miss Kate should be the one for him” Benedict said as he escorted his mother to the family drawing room, Anthony had been waiting in there for hours, having left early

 

“Do you really? Violet asked her second son with wide eyed curiosity.

 

“Yes mother and I think, if we have the room, you should invite them to our country seat for the party” Benedict said, watching as his brother looked at him in wide eyed panic.

 

“You know Benedict, that is a wonderful idea, Lady Sharma is a lovely woman and I do hope her daughter’s marry well so yes… I think I shall be able to squeeze them in to our party”

 

Anthony choked on his brandy and stalked out of the room. Benedict made a mental note to speak to his brother about what had happened.

 

~*~

 

Benedict didn't’ see Kate nor Anthony over the next few days but when they got to Aubrey Hall, Benedict had every intention of picking up where they left off and as he had settled himself in, he made his way downstairs and saw his mother moving from there door “are all our guests now here then mother?” he asked brightly

 

She nodded “Yes, just Simon, Daphne and Ameila are left to arrive and I am quite sure I do not need to wait for them”Violet said with a smile to her son.

 

“Have you seen Anthony?” he asked

 

“Yes, I sent him off to the garden after Miss Sharma about a half hour ago” she grinned

 

“Mother!” Benedict said pretending to be scanaldaised “which… Miss Sharma?” he grinned, unable to help himself.

 

“The elder, Kate,” she grinned.

 

“Nicely done!” Benedict said dropping a kiss to her cheek

 

“You and Colin are not the old meddlers in this family my dear” She grinned at her son as she walked off.

 

Benedict contemplated gatecrashing but Colin shouted at him “Benedict! Daphne suggested a game of Pall Mall, I was going to go find Anthony if you are up for it. Simon is remaining behind with Amelia as she’s unsettled from travelling” Colin said.

 

“Yes that sounds wonderful, Anthony is in the garden, with Miss Sharma, I think it would be best if you went, if I went he might punch me” he grinned “he is not taking my friendship with Kate well” Benedict laughed as Colin skipped off to find his older brother.

 

Benedict walked down with Daphne and watched as Colin arrived with Kate, passing Anthony on his way up to the house to get Edwina and Benedict couldn’t help but roll his eyes at his brother.

 

The match was something that would go down in Bridgerton folklore, Benedict was almost doubled over laughing as Anthony had been left with the Pink Mallet, didn’t once look at Edwina but couldn’t keep his eyes off Kate throughout the match, watching as he stared at her intently. Benedict was absolutely sure that his brother was half in love with Kate by the time he watched Colin slam Anthony’s ball towards Kate’s. He and Daphne had tore up the hill and watched as Kate slammed her ball into Anthony’s and sent him in to the lake.

 

He then doubled over laughing at the look of Anthony’s face. It was shock, admiration, fury and adoration… Benedict knew he just needed to shove his brother in the right direction…

 

He and Daphne ran off back to the house quickly after the match, “So Anthony and Kate?” Daphne asked with a grin

 

“Oh I am so pleased you can see it too! Anthony is determined to marry Miss Edwina” Benedict said with a shake of his head.

 

Daphne snorted. “That is the dumbest thing i’ve ever heard”

 

Benedict nodded “Oh I quite agree but I think… a gentle shove or two… and I will get them engaged before we head back to London” he grinned at his sister

 

“Can I help?” She smiled.

 

“I think tonight I am going to leave them, it was… rather intense that match, the way they looked at each other but if by tomorrow eve things have not changed I will enlist you as an ally with Colin to get them locked in his study together” he grinned

 

“You brother, are wicked but brilliant” Daphne grinned.

 

Benedict kissed his sister’s cheek. “Now that is a compliment” he grinned.

 

~*~

 

That evening passed rather amicably, Benedict watched them and he made his way over and he sat and talked with Kate after dinner, he could feel his brother’s eyes on the back of his head as he and Kate laughed about the Pall Mall match. Anthony was moving closer and closer when Benedict couldn’t help himself “perhaps tomorrow afternoon Kate, you could do me the favour of joining me, I have had some watercolours brought up, and whilst I only dabble in charcoal, I would love to draw and paint with you tomorrow if you would be agreeable?” he asked in his most charming Bridgerton manner.

 

He saw Anthony scowl at him as Kate smiled brightly “Of course I would love to” shortly after everyone retired for the evening and as Benedict headed to bed, watching and sketching the thunder and lightning from the window of his room, he felt content.

 

~*~

 

The following morning Anthony hadn’t come down for breakfast, Benedict wasn’t too concerned he had seen Anthony storm off this study as everyone else retired, he would have usually joined him for a brandy but Anthony was liable to throttle him.

 

He only saw him once when Benedict made his way to the entrance hall where he was waiting, Anthony escorted Kate in from the gardens, both looking very tired. Anthony pressed a kiss to Kate’s hand and left.

 

Benedict was almost sure he could see pain on Kate’s face as she watched Anthony walk away with, what Benedict was sure he was, a confused look on his brother’s face. “Shall we?” he said, offering her his arm and led her off through the private parts of the house.

 

“Where are we heading?” Kate asked her brow furrowed looking around

 

“This is the private side of the estate, there is a lovely balcony that overlooks some of Anthony and I’s favourite hills” Benedict said, he saw Kate almost flinch at Anthony’s name

 

“Is… Is everything okay?” Benedict asked as they sat down “Anthony hasn’t… been rude or untoward towards you has he?” Benedict asked concerned.

 

Kate shook her head at him and heaved a deep sigh “No, he has been perfectly lovely… and gentlemanly” she said as she mixed some of her own paints and pressed her brush to the canvas “as much as it pains me to admit it, I think I was wrong about your brother” Kate said biting her lip.

 

“Oh… in what way?” Benedict asked as he took his own charcoal to the canvas, hoping he wasn’t intruding but he was curious.

 

“It’s rather hard to explain” Kate said as she moved her brush in delicate motions over the canvas.

 

“Take your time if your comfortable talking to me” Benedict said with smile

 

“Strangely, you’re one of the few people I do feel comfortable around Benedict” Kate said “I don’t actually have many friends…” Kate admitted shyly

 

“What even back in Somerset? I find that hard to believe” Benedict said

 

“It is true. This is going to sound weird but I am sure you might be able to understand being second… ” she said, watching as he flinched but nodded “but since Edwina was born.. Despite being the elder… i am treat like a second sister… like the forgotten one so it is hard for me to be open with people as I assume they are trying to get to Edwina through me… but you...You seem interested in me as a person and as a friend and that is just… i think it’s why I feel able to talk to you… “ she smiled at him

 

“I see. Well I do get that.” Benedict sighed “So back to my brother…”

 

“Right… Well I told him I withdrew his objections to marrying my sister” Kate said, her tone sad.

 

“You did what?” Benedict blinked in a panic wondering if he was going to be too late.

 

“Yes. I know he is a Rake, or he was but he is good, he is kind and he is… caring and adores his family above all else so how can I stand in the way of that for my sister… she's one of the two people in my life i am sure I actually love” she said blushing.

 

“Oh… right… no offense when I say this but you’re an idiot Kate” Benedict said “Edwina and Anthony would not be happy together. They are complete opposites and they would be unhappy and I am sure you do not want that for your sister” 

 

“I do not but unfortunately I do think they would be happy together. Edwina would get a good marriage and a secure one at that… and I am sure they would grow to love one another” she said “it is impossible to… for either of them” she said sadly.

 

Benedict sighed “I mean no disrespect to your sister Kate but you are better suited for my brother”

 

“Yes but he doesn’t want me! No matter what I may or may not wish otherwise!” Kate yelled at him and covered her mouth.

 

Benedict dropped his charcoal and blinked at her “Kate…” he said softly “Please tell me you’re going to forgo your own chance at happiness…” he said his gaze soft.

 

She shook her head “I will always put Edwina first. I refuse to be a backup for anyone… Your brother, hell no gentleman wants me. I shall retire back to Somerset and become a spinster. It is alright Benedict… It is what I have always expected from my life” her tone had a finality in it that brooked no argument an was so like his brother’s that it furthered his resolve.

 

Benedict’s heart broke for her, he needed to act quickly and shake some sense into his brother soon.

 

They returned to their painting for another hour or so and as Benedict finished he turned to Kate “do you wish to remain a bit longer or shall I escort you back through the house?” he asked.

 

“Do you mind if I remain for another hour or so please?” She asked “i am nearly done and this would be lovely for your mother as a gift for inviting us”

 

Benedict nodded “I shall come back jst before dinner for you”  and she thanked him as he took his leave and stormed through the house Anthony’s study and banged on the door loudly.

 

“Come in” came his brother’s tired voice.

 

Benedict stormed in and shut the door behind him and stared at his brother, Anthony knew he had been with Kate all afternoon and he felt the jealousy clawing at him and he blurted out “I can’t do it. I can’t marry Edwina!”

 

“I thought not!” Benedict said 

 

“But i can’t marry Kate either!” he said… “i just…I can’t do it Benedict” 

 

“Why not!?” Benedict half yelled back at his brother

 

“Because I can’t leave her like father left mother!” Anthony said in a rush, his hand shaking on the brandy glass in his hand.

 

Benedict sighed and ran a hand through his hair and stalked across the room and sat his brother on the sofa and poured them both another drink

 

“Ant… What happened to our father was a freak accident… it was horrible and it was terrible but you cannot live your life in fear” Benedict said sitting down next to his brother.

 

“I… I can’t Ben… ever… ever since that night… I just… i can’t see me getting past him” he said, his voice small.

 

Anthony was finally opening up to him and it was breaking Benedict's heart to know that his brother had been fighting these demons alone for 11 years. “Anthony, you’re being ridiculous… say you’re right. What does living your life in fear of that death bring you… nothing but regrets” 

 

Anthony sighed and swilled his drink “but…”

 

“No buts Anthony. If you deprived yourself of Kate and the love that I can see so clearly growing between the two of you… the pain would still be there. For both of you” Benedict said softly “You have a chance to grasp happiness, to just try and have happiness. Be it for 3 years, 9 years or 59 years… I am sure if you ask mother, she would tell you she would do it all again even if it was for the same short period of time” he said.

 

Anthony stared at his glass “I don’t know… I’m afraid Benedict. What if… What if she doesn’t want me… what if I fail her. Fail our father or die without an heir? And leave her like that?”

 

Benedict snorted “now that’s all the stupidest things you've ever said… You could never fail our father Anthony, you’ve pulled our family back together after everything, Helped mother, helped raise our siblings all the while completing college and keeping our family thriving… he would be proud of you. Hell, I’m proud to call you my brother!” He declared rather passionately.

 

“As for the rest. If you were to die with our issue or an heir do you really think I wouldn’t care for her, look after her? Cause if you do then you don’t know me very well and I shall have to punch you…” he said.

 

Anthony deflated “no I know that” he said somewhat quietly.

 

“As for Kate not liking you, Anthony or you failing her, if you love her half as much as much as I think you might then you cannot fail… and I am sure after a rather enlightened conversation with her I am positive she wants you too but like you she’s too stubborn to see or admit it” Benedict said clasping his brothers shoulder.

 

“Really?” Anthony asked, a youthful almost boyish glee on his face

 

“Yes but you will need to lay it on thick brother… she told me she doesn’t wish to be anyone’s backup plan…” Benedict said.

 

“Where… where is she?” He asked

 

“Painting our mother a picture of the hills by the balcony I said I would retrieve her for dinner so I was due back in…” he looked at the clock on the mantle “oh 25 minutes… if you care to walk with me… or do it yourself” Benedict said smugly

 

“I… I…” Anthony stammered.

 

Benedict slapped him across the back of the head.

 

“Hey!”

 

“Listen to me brother cause I’m not going to say this again. You have a woman who you really like, probably if you let yourself you would love her and you're choosing to be miserable. Which is fine but Kate is a friend and as dear to me as our sisters so you better get your act together and be a sodding man, never mind being a bloody viscount. Stop being a coward and let yourself be happy for fuck sake!” He snapped

 

Anthony blinked at his brother, normally so mild mannered and calm… 

 

“I can… I can do that” Anthony said, heaving a deep breath.

 

“Good”

 

“I can do that, you're right. No matter how long I get… as long as with her… then you’re right” he stood “take me to her please”

 

Benedict paused as he stood. “Kate has no brothers and I’m sure she can take care of herself but if you hurt her Anthony I will break every bone in your body so you understand me?”

 

Anthony swallowed and nodded.

 

The two men walked in almost silence as they walked through the house.

 

Benedict watched as his usually stoic brother turned into a bag of nerves as he approached the door to the balcony he cleared his throat “Kate… someone wishes to speak to you…”

 

She turned around and her eyes narrowed “what did you say!”   She hissed

 

“Nothing that won’t make you both ridiculously happy in the long run you can hate me later but now… talk…” he said pointing between them “I am going to wait inside and come get you both in 15 minutes before dinner…” he said glaring at the two.

 

Kate huffed.

 

“Kate…” Benedict heard his brother say as he walked away from them.

 

After 5 minutes he thought it was best to check they hadn’t killed one another and when he got to the door he heard “I think I’m in love with you and that scares me half to death.”

 

Benedict grinned to himself as he went back to his waiting spot and when he returned 10 minutes later they were wound in each other’s arms and Benedict felt a surge of happiness for his brother and some smugness for being the means of bringing two idiots together, with a little help from Colin.