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I hate you, I love you.

Chapter Text

There was one clear reason why Tom had done what he did; loneliness.

The fact was that comments here and there and texts, and questions if anyone actually took the time to notice, the question that everyone thought, that those close to him were terrified to ask was as blatant as the nose on his face the reason he had chosen to do what he did.

Chris H - Can't wait to see you in my neck of the woods mate, sadly with a wife and three kids, though, it won't be like the first two and Avengers you know.

Emma - I can't believe it, I actually got married before thirty, I officially broke one of my own rules. But no, no kids anytime in the next year at least, I have the play coming up at Christmas, didn't I tell you, you're not the only member of the family to Shakespeare it up in London now Big Brother.

Sarah - I can't just drop things to go to the US like some of the others at work, I have a kid, they don't seem to understand that, Tom, you get, well no, not get it, you don't have any kids or partner to worry about, but you understand.

Luke - Sorry, I can't go on the SDCC tour with you, Emma Watson is getting a Time magazine cover, I have to make sure that is sorted. I'll send Bethany from the NY firm; she's well able for it.

Benedict - It's a pity you are only in town for the weekend man, I can't meet up tomorrow, the weather is too good, Sophie and I arranged to bring Christopher to the zoo for the first time, and honestly I cannot wait!

Aunt Jennifer - And Emma is six years younger than you and she is married, when are we getting a big flashy Hollywood wedding from you, Tom? Is there not a single woman in all of Hollywood for you to snatch up?

It all just added up, and after over three years of just on-set flings and rendezvous with old colleagues, Tom just wanted something that was borderline normal, a woman to come home to, to actually listen to him, to just be there, even when filming was hectic. And that is when he met Taylor. She had been going through a rough patch with Calvin, or Adam, or whatever name he was going by. Tom didn't know him; he only knew he was a Scot, so he couldn't be all bad. They had gotten over the honeymoon stage of the relationship and, from what he could gather, a mixture of too much time together one month, and not seeing each other the next, and other such things meant she was out of love with Harris, and wanting something new and fresh. She was pretty, tall, and did not want a guy to foot her lifestyle, so in all, she was everything he could ask for, right?

"Mum?" He looked around the door into the hallway of his mother's home. Tom loved escaping the hustle-bustle of busy London and hiding at his mother’s for a few days when time permitted. He was only going to be in England for few days, so he thought it best to spend it with her. He would have to make a quick trip to London to get what he needed for his next bout of world touring, which was not ideal, but what could he do. "Mum, you in here or next door?"

"Tom, is that you?" Diana came out of the kitchen, her hands coated in suds and a ridiculously frilly apron on.

"Eh, Mum, what are you wearing?" Tom chuckled as he put down his bag and went over to embrace his mother.

"The girls thought it would be funny to get, and to be honest, for the job it is doing, it is fine." She dismissed, allowing her far taller son to embrace her. "Are you alone?" She looked around.

"Yes, Taylor..."

"Oh good dear, how was your flight?" Diana cut straight across him, causing Tom to frown slightly, but he answered her nonetheless.

"Flight was fine, yeah. It takes some getting used to after a private jet."

"I dare say so, tea?"

"Yeah, thanks." Tom looked at his mother, trying to figure out why she was acting so abrupt. "Is that some of Elle's Irish Fruit Cake?"

"She baked a fresh batch last night and made sure there was some for your coming home today. Why didn't you get her to pick you up at the airport, you used always give her a text?"

"Well, with the way things are now..."

"Right." Diana's demeanour turned cold once more.

"I need to go to London tomorrow, I have to swap around a few books and get that suit and whatnot from my place." Tom tried to turn the conversation around again.

"Done, it's all upstairs in your room."

"What?"

"It's done, Elle did it during the weekend, she was going to London for a training day, so she took her car and got what you needed so you could rest up before you go, where did you say you were off to next?"

"Rhode Island, back to..."

"You had better thank Elle before you go." Diana gave a curt smile.

"Sure." Tom frowned. "Yeah, that was nice of her."

"That is Elle; she would do anything for those she cares for, even when it is not reciprocated."

"What...?" Tom gave a befuddled look at his mother.

"Eat your cake." His mother instructed. "You should probably take a nap and a shower too."

"Yes, Mum," Tom replied. "Is Emma or Sarah coming?"

"No, they are busy."

"But Emma said she might."

"Well she did not want to get caught up in any...she is busy."

Tom chewed the inside of his cheeks, he realised what was going on. His sister was an actress, his mother had run theatres for years, and together, they had feigned delight at his previous trip home. "Mum..."

"I need to go speak with Sarah on the phone; I'll tell her that you say hi."

"Yeah, thanks." He downed the rest of his tea and rose from the chair. "I better clean these." He indicated to the dishes. His mother simply nodded and walked out of the room.

Taking the plates and cups to the kitchen, he placed them on the side of the sink and turned on the hot water faucet waiting for it to heat up. He sighed to himself and rubbed his hands over his face before going up to his hair, noting that like before, it took slightly longer to reach the auburn strands, assessing his mother’s demeanour.

"Hey Diana, I got those carrots you like from the farmer's market and I forgot to mention that I stocked Tom's freezer with home cooking when I was at his place, so you can tell him when he comes that it..." Elle stood staring at Tom, only realising after a few moments it was him and not his mother standing in the kitchen. "Hey." There was sadness to her tone, as though she was not as pleased to see him as she usually was. "Hi."

"Hey."

"Your mum said you weren't due til tonight." She put down the shopping in her hands on the island in the kitchen.

"No, it was this afternoon, I got a cab."

"Right." She nodded slightly, "Anyway, tell her I called and there are her carrots." She pointed to the vegetables. "Bye."

"Thank you." She looked back at him as she went to open the door. "For getting all that stuff from London."

"Well I was only guessing with the books, I took from a pile I know you had not read a few months ago, I am not sure if you got to them since." She gave a pathetic attempt of a smile, something Tom caught.

"Danielle."

"I should get going." She turned and left without another word, leaving Tom looking at the closed door.

"When Elle comes, call me, she has something important she has wanted to tell me apparently," Diana called from the living room, having gone back in there when she had finished her call to her daughter.

"She came in there a moment ago mum, she dropped off some carrots and left."

Diana came into the room, looking at him. "What?"

"She was just here, saying about farmer market carrots; then she left." Tom pointed to the carrots on the island.

"What did you say to her? She has been going on about coming over and telling me her news"

"Nothing, I said hi and thank you for all she did going to my place and that and she just left. She was acting weird; like she didn’t want to be here."

"There is reason for that," Diana replied. "I am going over to hers, I won't be long." She declared, taking off her apron and walking out the door.

Tom sighed again, looking around the room, which was empty. He was hoping to spend his time home with his mum, and maybe his sisters and even his mother’s friendly and down to earth neighbour. But clearly, that was something he wished for, but no one else did. He checked his phone to see there was no missed calls or texts, so he decided to go to his room and sort everything needed for the next few weeks.

Chapter Text

Four hours, it had been four hours since his mother left the house to go to Danielle's, but she had yet to return, and her car, and from what he could see into Elle's front garden, hers too, still in the driveways, he assumed neither had gone anywhere.

The time Tom had been in the house had at first been beneficial, allowing him to sort a few things he needed, but after a while, when his mind was allowed to think over his mother's reaction, and that of Elle, he became somewhat annoyed. He received a text from Taylor, stating she was going out shopping with the "squad" for the afternoon, so expect to see loads of pictures, but not to text or ring, it was ‘girl time’. That sort of thing would never have bothered Tom, he did have two sisters after all, but the memory of her getting irked when he did not reply to her text when he finished an exhausting scene in Australia came to the fore of his mind. Taking it all as him being jetlagged, he tried to make some tea. Boiling the kettle, he looked out to his mother’s garden, which was looking great. Diana always loved gardening, but being a single mother with a full-time career never afforded her the opportunity before, now, she claimed half its success was solely based on Danielle’s help, the young woman using her free time to aid his mother, rather than partying or finding herself a boyfriend.

Danielle had moved in next to his mother five years previous from Ireland. It was before the fame of the Avengers, but yet after Thor and War Horse, so he was on the path to fame, she had known the family before the name Hiddleston became internationally known, but being a fan of Marvel, she had known who he was. He had met her for the first time when he rang his mother to collect him from the airport after an audition in the US, and his mother could not make it, so she sent Elle instead, without telling Tom, so she knew who he was, and he did not know who she was. All that met him was a small woman, in a paramedic's uniform, standing beside an emergency vehicle, that he soon learned was supposed to bring an advanced paramedic or doctor to a scene of an accident, something he would have preferred her to tell him at a kitchen table, and not having to calm him after him assuming something had happened his mother at the arrivals door of an airport. The young medic soon made herself a firm part of the Hiddleston household. She aided his mother as best she could, calling to her before every shift to see if she needed anything, and bringing it to her the next morning, since she did the night shifts, she was the one age with Emma, so she and his sister were almost as close as sisters, and if the family wanted to go out for a meal without his niece when Sarah was around, she would call in a shift change and babysit for them, as well as playing chauffeur to him when he would arrive in Suffolk for a few days. Now, it would seem she was not the least bit comfortable around him and had done everything she had as a favour to his mum.

The sound of laughter caught his attention, and leaning onto the balls of his feet, Tom could see the origins of said laughter and it annoyed him. His mother and her neighbour were in the latter’s back garden, picking a few vegetables, clearly comfortable in each others company, even after supposedly spending the last four hours talking, something he had wanted to do with his mother, but she had obviously not wanted to do with him. He opened the window slightly, knowing it was not a gentlemanly thing to eavesdrop, but he felt as though it was justified, seeing as he was not going to get much conversation with anyone otherwise.

“I will make a soup with some tomorrow and drop it over if you’d like.” He heard Elle say.

“Thank you, sweetheart, you are too good.”

“I’ll freeze some as well, and drop a bit to his place when I am in London next week.”

“That’s not necessary darling, besides, I am not sure wasting your time cooking good sturdy home cooked meals is the right thing to do either. I am sure he is on a salad or some sort of craze diet now as well as she is.”

“He looked a little thinner, but that is probably just constant travel playing havoc on him, be nice. It’s the first time he bothered to come home alone since like, when?”

“Christmas.”

“What? Has it been that long? No, yeah, you’re right, in March you went to him in London. Well go in and spend some time with him so, he is only here for a couple of days. Who knows when he’ll have time again?”

“He has time, he just chooses to spend it jetting around the world with her in front of camera’s, honestly, it is like Crufts.”

“Diana!”

“It is, my son is just material for a new excuse for an album and in a year, he will be tarnished to any good women and the laughing stock of every major production company.”

Tom’s eyes widened at what his mother was saying; he had not known her distaste for his life choice could have gone that deep. He could hear the upset in her voice, how it nearly cracked at the end, he would wager she had tears in her eyes.

“It could be worse, she is very pretty, or was, she has a soccer mom haircut now, it looked far prettier when she had it long, or when it was the bleached, greyish blonde, and she is not using him for his money, that’s a good thing.” He heard Elle defend, sort of.

“There are others things worse than taking his money; he can earn more if he gets the work. Tom has a reputation as a serious, yet diverse actor; all he will get by the end of this is one of those stupid shark movies.”

“I actually think they are something of a cult classic, in an ‘it’s so bad, it is brilliant’ kinda way.” Elle half laughed.

“He needs to find himself a well grounded, hard working woman that will keep his head from the clouds and not have him gallivanting around with his nose in the air.”

“He comes from a wealthy background and is privately educated, not exactly grounded.” There was a small silence for a moment. “What? It’s not.”

“You can be too honest sometimes Danielle Hughes.”

“Yeah, well, I prefer to call things as I see them. But yes, going around with what was it, four bodyguards.”

“Five, five useless, attention grabbing fools that shouted ‘look at me, look at me.’ It is Suffolk for goodness sake, what was going to happen here, she gets assaulted by an over eager Cavalier King Charles to throw a ball or get its belly scratched, it was done for attention and attention alone. If you saw what way she acted in the house.”

“I have heard, the girls told me; I also got a play by play from your less than happy granddaughter.”

“What did she say?” There was something akin to fear in Diana’s voice.

“How she has not seen her favourite uncle since Christmas and that he was only allowed play with her in front of camera’s and when the, and I quote ‘princess’ allowed it. That he was not allowed spend time with her, how she only wanted her favourite piggyback-giver to read her the Gruffalo, but it was, and again I quote ‘silly nonsense’.” Elle revealed.

“What?” Diana was enraged, and Tom knew it. He had not realised his niece had felt that way, or that his family were so affected by his decision, but Elle’s revelations were not helping them get passed it, so he decided to put an end to the conversation before it got any worse. He walked to the back door, took a deep breath and opened it.

“Mum?” There was a moment’s silence. “Mum?”

“Yes, Thomas?” ‘Thomas’ her tone was glacial and the use of his full name, something she only did when she was reprimanding him told him he would not get much a reception from her anytime soon.

“Can I come in?” The two gardens were separated by a wooden fence, but since Danielle had been living there, a small gate had been put in. It was still quite high, to give both houses privacy, but easily opened to allow them into each others gardens, something most would thing odd, seeing as the occupier of one house had a Hollywood actor for a son, but it meant Elle was able to check on Diana at any time and Diana could go into Elle’s yard to feed her dog.

He could almost hear the silent looks both women were giving each other on the other side of the divide before he heard the click of the gate that allowed Elle’s side to open, he duplicated the action on his mother’s side and the gate opened, revealing a stern-faced Elle looking at him. “What’s the password?” Her face and tone were not as jovial as usual as she attempted the joke they had always had.

After hearing how the two women had spoken, in truth, he was not in the mood for her. “I need to talk to my mother.”

“That’s over five syllables.” She did not move.

“I am not in a gaming mood.”

“That was Hemsworth’s line, not yours.”

“Please, Elle.” He spoke through gritted teeth.

Pursing her lips, she finally moved out of the way and he walked into her garden, caught for a moment at how it looked. “You changed it.”

“Yeah, well, eight months since your last visit so, it does look different I suppose.” She shrugged.

“Sweetheart, the time,” Diana warned her.

Elle looked at her watch and cursed. “I have work in half an hour.” She stated, rushing into the house.

“What is it?” Tom had been so engrossed in watching Elle leave he had not realised his mother was in front of him. He looked down and felt guilty, now understanding why Danielle had stopped him up at the gate for a few moments. His mother had red around her eyes and nose, and Elle was giving her a moment to compose herself before allowing him to pass her. “What is so important you had to interrupt my talking to my neighbour?”

“I am only home for two days mum, you can talk to Elle anytime, she isn’t going anywhere. I was hoping you would actually speak with me.”

“‘She isn’t going…’ So I am to ignore someone who actually answers my phone calls to facilitate someone who will not, is that it?”

“I am your son.”

“Yes, you are.” There was an emotion in her voice that startled Tom more than her words she thought were in private did, shame. “I better get something packed for Elle for work; otherwise, she will be eating nothing for her shift.”

“That’s her problem, though, isn’t it?” Tom was getting angrier at his mother focusing on Elle and not him.

“She has to spend the next twelve hours hoping she has a boring night at work and not having to pull half dead and dying people from a car, or be called to a house fire, or God forbid even more terrible things, the least the girl could do after an afternoon of caring about me is have a good meal ready for her.” Diana snarled back at him. “What has happened you Thomas, you used to be the first to commend her, the first to acknowledge that as great as it is to give people the gift of entertainment, you and I, we do nothing as commendable or as noble as she does, and the manner you are speaking about her now, you… I cannot do this Thomas.” Diana held her hands up in defeat and walked into Elle’s house, leaving Tom alone in the garden.

Chapter Text

“Mum.” He called after her, but the older woman did not respond. It was then he noticed Mac Tíre, Elle’s German Sheppard cross dog looking at him from across the garden. “Hey, Mac.” He smiled. It was actually him who had got her the dog, it was a scraggly stray pup that had shown up at a set he was working on that was in bad shape, and since Elle’s dad had been a veterinarian, he thought she could help it. Mac was a bit weedy looking still, not as well built as other German Sheppard’s, but he had a good sheen to his coat and was as fit as a fiddle, joining Elle when she went jogging or cycling in the woods nearby.

Mac eyed him for a moment; usually the dog would make straight for him when he acknowledged the canine, seemingly remembering who had helped save him, but as though knowing what the women had been talking about, Mac rose to his feet and trotted to the house, scratching once at the door before it was opened to let him in.

“Even the bloody dog hates me,” Tom mumbled walking to the door, knowing it was better to deal with everything now. “Mum.” He looked into Elle’s kitchen. He could hear the shower on upstairs. “Mum, I’m sorry.” Diana gave an ‘hmm’ in response. “I’m jetlagged and hungry, and to be honest, jealous, that you have spent the day here and not with me.”

“And I am hurt that you thought going to the beach and making a holy show of yourself rather than spending time with your family was a better use of your time Thomas. I am tired of having people ask me are you having some sort of early midlife crisis to say you are going to teenager concerts looking like a chaperone rather than a partner of someone there, and I am embarrassed at how you have treated someone this family holds dear in the manner you have of late.”

“Wait, what, who?”

“Who do you think?”

“Mum, I don’t…”

“What is the real reason you did not have Danielle collect you today, as she has done for four and a half years, and why have you not spoken to her once since Christmas, not once. What did she do to deserve that?”

“Wait, I have…”

“When? Today perhaps.” Tom did not respond, he had not realised it was true. He used tag funny pictures to Elle on his private Facebook, or send her some training tips he got from some trainer if he thought they were beneficial to her, but of late, he had not even looked at her page, he had no idea what was going on in her life. “I really do not know what to say to you Thomas, is all of this worth it, to gain fame and perhaps notoriety, is it worth it when you cost yourself people who care about you as a person?”

“I have to take the next step, get as big as I can.”

“Well, when Hollywood bores of you, I hope those who care about you that are not family are still there my boy because there will be someone new, someone fresh; we all age, and there are always people ready to take our place. Elle cares for you; she is willing to put herself out selflessly for you. She brought food to your home so that you could come home from a shoot, or a long flight and have something ready that is good and filling, she got everything you wanted from London so you could rest tomorrow, and she did not care if you even knew about it being her that did it, after eight months of no contact, she still did it.” Diana’s anger seemed to have dissipated, but in its wake, was a sadness and cold truth that terrified Tom, eating at the insecurities he had that he had not voiced himself. Diana placed the containers of food she had organised for Elle on the counter and walked out of the house, leaving Tom to stew on her words.

When Elle came downstairs, she was tying her hair back so that she could be ready for work. She paused when she saw Tom in her kitchen looking at her, looking then to the containers and back to him.

“Mum sorted them.” He pointed to the food.

Elle gave a forced smile and nodded slightly before noticing the dog. “Mac Tíre, get your hairy ass outside now, you know you can’t stay in when I’m working.” She scolded. Mac did not move. She opened the back door. “Out.” Mac rose to his feet and eyed her for a moment, then Tom, then back at her. “It’s only Tom, come on, out you go.” Mac gave the actor one last apprehensive look and trotted out the door. “Diana will feed you at eight.” She stated, closing the door. There was a moment of her and Tom looking at one another after she locked it.

“You know he can’t understand you right?”

“He seems to get the hint, which is more than can be said for many humans.” She responded.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I have clearly offended you in some manner.” Elle cocked her brow and pursed her lips. “I am sorry I have not spoken to you in a long time or bothered to contact you and check on you, but in my defence, you weren’t exactly running to contact me either.”

Danielle started counting on fingers. “Your birthday, I sent you a ridiculous picture and a big not with it, Patrick’s day I sent a funny picture, April Fools, I sent a funny joke, St George’s Day I sent a mocking text, the day of the Presidential dinner, the MET Gala, the Emmy nomination, all top of my head examples, need I continue?”

“I didn’t get half of them.”

“I bet you didn’t, and by half, I bet you mean everything since the day before the MET, right?”

“You don’t get to say anything, you don’t even know her.”

“You’re right, I don’t, because when she was here, I was not worthy of introductions, was I?”

“You could have come over.”

“I could, but the glut of paps and the security got in the way, I was told I was not allowed, that it was private property, in fact, my favourite part was when they called the police, but thankfully it was Joanne and Mike that got called out, who know I actually live next door.”

“You never said…”

“But I did, but you clearly you didn’t get the message, I wonder why. Tell me, does she scan all your texts, or is it just me she blocked.”

“What, that ridiculous.”

Danielle took out her phone and brought up his number before pressing the call button.

“We’re sorry, but you are not able to be connected to this number, please hang up and try again.” The monotone recording played.

“So can I ask, is it just me out of your female friends that you have not heard from of late?”

“She hasn’t been alone with my…”

“Have you gone to the bathroom, the shower, the gym, even left your computer on?” She challenged, Tom bit his lips together. “I guess you know the answer to that too. Have a nice day Tom; I am off to actually do something other than open your eyes for you. Get some rest for yourself before you go back to the circus.”

“Circus?”

“GQ, Esquire, Time Magazine, Forbes, they are where you want to get a front page, they are prestigious, but you, you have been plastered on the front of the National Enquirer Tom, as the bit on the side to the arm candy, that’s hardly a prestigious publication.”

“You always mock tabloids and magazines, and here you are reading them.”

“They are in front of me, plastering every shelf when I enter Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s Tom, I don’t need to read them, I can see headline after headline, picture after mortifying picture; speaking of which, please tell me that Fourth of July t-shirt was you taking the piss out of yourself, or a dare, or a bet you lost, please tell me you did not do that willingly of sound mind.”

“You wouldn’t…”

“Jesus, it wasn’t. That is so embarrassing, I am actually so mortified on your behalf, before I was cringing, but that, that actually made my insides hurt, I didn’t know should I laugh or cry for you, and to be honest, thinking back, I still don’t.”

“It’s not your place…”

“But you made it my place, me and every last person you whored yourself on the cover of those publications to. Those weren’t pictures taken without consent Tom; they are proper staged photo’s; that is the notable thing here.”

“Whored?”

“Well, that may be a bit harsh, whores tend to realise they are getting fucked and get paid for their work, I hope she gives you a hefty allowance of her earnings.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” He snarled viciously.

“Don’t you think it is weird, you used get spotted by fans wherever you went, but it was always fairly anonymous, here, LA, New York, everywhere you went; but now, everywhere you go, everywhere you are, there are paps, and a tonne of them.”

“That’s the business, you wouldn’t understand.”

“But they were not at your mothers before, they were not hounding your sisters, your niece, that one gets me the worst, she is five years old Tom, she is not famous, she does not want that, but then again, I doubt you or ‘fame hungry Barbie’ checked with that.”

“Sarah did not say anything.”

“Like she had a fucking choice, you didn’t warn her in advance, did you?” She challenged, her voice raised.

“You’re just fucking jealous, that’s all that’s wrong with you, jealous that for once, you were not the centre of my family’s life.” He bellowed back.

Danielle had a few different laughs, her snigger when she knew she shouldn’t, her snide one, for when she and Emma would bitch whatever co-star Emma had that was only on a production for reasons other than her acting ability, her one for when she wanted to laugh more, but she was embarrassed to do so in front of those she didn’t really know, and the one she had when she found something so hilarious, propriety be damned, she would erupt into laughter. Tom’s statement was met with the last one. Danielle erupted in laughter so strong; she went red in the face. “That…jealous…” She took a deep breath before standing straight again. “I do not envy you, Thomas, I pity you, so fucking much it actually is beyond words. I mean, what do you two even talk about, does she know anything about Yeats, Shakespeare, Wilde, hell even Tolkien? She will get her next album material or her next piece of boy meat, and you will be a pariah, to both decent women and good productions, and if you don’t believe me, look at her previous conquests, the guy from One Direction, where is he now, trying to get an album together apparently, Gyllenhaal, he practically has to freeze his ass off for a role and his depiction was seen as mediocre, and that guy from Twilight, is he even making movies now? And as for her bickering, let me just say this Tom, I’ve read that West and Kardashian are not supposed to be the greatest people alive, or Perry, or Bieber, or whoever else she is pissed off with this week to sell music, but no one who is nice has that many people arguing with them. She is accomplished, no one can take that from her, but you are going to be left in her wake, another ‘boyfriend of Taylor Swift’ and not your own man, and you will have that tattooed on your resume for as long as you act, are you really okay with that? Become the Tom I know, would not have been.”

“You mean the Tom you knew.” Tom glared at her, hating her for voicing what Benedict, Chris and Luke had clearly been hinting when they were introduced to Taylor.

Danielle let his words linger for a moment, kissing her lips and nodding. “You’re right.” She conceded. “I don’t know this shitbag in front of me, and to be honest, I don’t fucking want to.” She shrugged. “Get out of my house, and when this shit fest hits the fan, if the real Tom Hiddleston is in there, let him know I will probably still be here, and I will accept his apology, but not yours, you are nothing more than some ‘Taylor-trash’.” She turned and left, not waiting for him to say anymore.

Chapter Text

Danielle stared at the ream of paperwork around her, she had so much to do since it seemed the people of Suffolk, were not in need of medics that night, much to her joy. She thought of what had happened in her kitchen, the words crossed between herself and Tom, her more so than him. She could see the realisation in his eyes that not everyone was oblivious to the inevitable car crash of a relationship he was currently in and she was the first person to actually say it to him, to confront him on what was clearly a terrible choice, and it seemed to resonate with some small part of his mind.

What she did not show, however, was that Tom had actually hit a nerve with her too. She was jealous; envy coursed through every fibre of her being when it came to him and his teeny bop squeeze. Danielle was in love with Tom, not Tom Hiddleston the actor, the showman, but the person, the faulted, imperfect and yet still more endearing than anyone else she had ever met, Tom. He was the reason she had not had a boyfriend in the time she had been in Suffolk because she knew any man she would meet, would only ever be second fiddle to Tom in her heart, she would always compare them to Tom, and she knew that was wrong. But she knew he did not think of her like that. He wanted thin, tall, blonde, stinking rich and famous, she was a size ten, five foot four, brunette and a public sector employee, if you googled her name, you would only get the Triathlon she helped set up a few years ago back home and a facebook page, no news articles, nothing. She was nothing special, and she was fully aware of it.

It was not that Tom had a girlfriend; she knew was going to happen some day, and she knew he would have a kid or two and maybe a wife, she accepted that, but she had not accepted that he would take a fake, controlling fame whore for a girlfriend, that was too much for her. When he was connected Elisabeth Olsen, all that bothered her there was that Olsen was just over a breakup from his fiancé, and she did not want Tom being blamed. When he was connected to Jessica, and even Haley Atwell, she had been happy for him, but he dismissed them all as rumours. She wanted him to be happy, but she knew that in the long run, Taylor was only a pitstop relationship, for the singer anyway, and it could affect Tom in the long run, that killed her. She knew how hard he had worked for everything, and he was throwing it all away himself. She sighed, rubbing her hands over her face, not knowing what to do.

*

Tom did not sleep that night; when he came back into his mother’s house; he stormed off to his room like a petulant child, not wanting to talk to her, or anyone else. Danielle’s words stabbed like hot pins, each one piercing a bit of his already concerned mind. He ignored his phone and he just lay with his hands over his eyes until long after the sun went down, and darkness filled the small room he was in.

Diana said nothing, the way he came in and the way Danielle got into her car told her everything she needed to know; so she left him to his own devices.

Tom woke at some ungodly hour of the early morning, looking at his phone, it told him it was three twenty and that he had seventeen messages. He thanked whatever person came up with the idea to make a ‘Do not Disturb’ function on phones. Flicking through them, he groaned. All of them were from Taylor, the first with an ‘I tried to call, but your phone is off, ring me’ escalating to demanding and accusing words as he came to the final one, left only half an hour ago. He took off the DND option, and texted her back, apologising profusely, that he fell asleep with jet lag and that he hadn’t his phone died, but with it being nearly four am, he would ring her in the midmorning EST time tomorrow, that he didn’t want to risk waking his mother. He felt guilty for lying about the phone being off, but he could not admit the truth, that he didn’t want to hear from even her. He got an abrupt text back, one that told him that he was in the dog house from across the Atlantic; and that he had some making up to do. Tom frowned, he understood that not answering her texts or calls was in many respects rude, or would have been, had he known they were even there and not having been asleep, but grovelling for it, that was a tad much. Then Danielle’s words came to him again, how she had not been able to ring, or that her texts were not going through to him, and was she the only one. He had been congratulated by so many of his friends for his Emmy nomination, Tilda, all the original Avenger’s cast, the Night Manager cast, obviously, many of his stage production friends, but not Elisabeth, Mia nor Jessica, or…he bit his lips together. It was not possible, Taylor would not do that, she had no reason, surely.

Angry at himself for doubting her, he decided to test his theory. Flicking through the numbers, he was shocked to see said women’s names were not in his phone; so flicked to Hemsworth’s name, he would be awake surely; it was mid-afternoon in Australia after all, and pressed call.

“Well mate, what part of the world are you in to say you are calling me at this time? Thought you were back in the homeland.”

“I am.” Tom rubbed his eyes; it was clear from his voice he was tired.

“So you wake at what is it, four in the morning there, and you decide to call me, I gotta say, mate, I am honoured, but I thought you would call the pop princess if that happened.” Chris joked.

“Can I ask, do you have Jess’s number in your phone?” Tom got straight to the point, not in the mood for games or small talk.

“Chastain?”

“Yes.”

“Not anymore mate, I got an upgrade, but I do have it here somewhere, Elsa did something where all my numbers went onto the tablet, one sec. India, daddy needs that for a moment sweetheart. Yes, I know you are doing your ABC's and you are thrashing your record darling, I am so proud of you, but I need to get something from it, I’ll pause it so you won’t lose it alright? Gracias sweetheart.”

“Spanish?”

“Elsa speaks it with them, I swear, the twins cannot distinguish between languages, so I am there trying to put together a puzzle of words from a sentence that are English and guess the rest.” Tom gave a small chuckle. “Right, have you a pen mate?”

Tom confirmed, and Chris gave him the number. “Thanks, man.”

“Is everything alright Tom, you seem a bit spaced, and I am not talking jetlagged.”

“A lot on my plate at the moment.”

“Alright, well that is the Hollywood singer scene for you, Liam had or has it again too, but at least…” Tom could sense Chris trying to find a way to backtrack. “Is there anything else you need?”

“No, that’s it, thanks. Unless you know what part of the world she is in at the moment.”

“No idea man, but she’s famous, so Google her, and you’ll soon find out.”

“Is that how you find out what people are doing?”

“It’s the way things are these days,” Chris stated nonchalantly. “Later man, try and get some sleep.”

“Yeah, thanks, man.” Tom hung up the phone and looked at Jessica’s number, she had been a good friend of his, as had Mia, they worked well together, and both women would text him if anything about him and his achievements were highlighted, and the last time he had spoken to either of them, they declared their adoration for his depiction of Pine, so to not get anything from them on the Emmy, was slightly concerning. Typing Jess’s number into his phone, he took a deep breath and pressed call, slowly placing the phone to his ear.

“The number you are calling is not accessible from this device, please check your settings and try again soon.” He closed his eyes as the automated voice reeled off its response and the call ended.

A funny feeling filled his stomach, like a form of nausea, and he sat up. Danielle’s words went through his head over and over, as well as the evidence he now had. Taylor was not a bad person, there had to be an explanation, he would talk to her when he saw her, it was obviously some sort of mistake, he justified to himself. He tried to resettle, but to no avail, so he turned and groaned. In front of him was his bedside locker, and the books that Elle had gotten him from London, her words again going through his mind, how he had not bothered to talk to her at all, and he felt some guilt. He wanted to introduce Taylor to her; because she meant so much to the family, but clearly, his family and in turn Danielle thought nothing of Taylor. Elle had said she was pretty, and well accomplished, but nothing else that she stated could ever be construed as a compliment, and clearly none of the women in his life had time for her. He swallowed as the guilt turned to anger, Danielle was single as long as he had been, she was envious, she still had no one waiting for her when she came home in the mornings, that is why she took the night shift, she had nothing to look forward to, and she would never achieve anything near the level of achievements in her life that Taylor had; that is what the egotistical part of his mind stated. The logical side argued against it, but he ignored it, he was in no mood to feel remorseful for his thoughts.

As soon as it became bright enough, Tom got into his training gear and went for a run, sometimes training on an empty stomach forced him to pull more from himself, and that forced him to forget everything except running, and he needed that more than ever at present. Without meaning to, he ran a full ten kilometres before even noticing; cursing he turned and started the route back, he would be exhausted and starved by the time he got there, but the anger and annoyance he was feeling coursed through him; and allowed him to make the journey in a good time. Just as he came to his mother’s home, he heard a car coming up the road behind him, looking at his watch, he knew who it was, turning slightly, he saw the black Ford Focus indicating in, and a tired looking Danielle in the front seat. He stood watching her for a moment, but she did not seem to pay him any heed and turned into her driveway.

He watched as she got out of the car, her feet crunching down on the gravel of her driveway as she opened the back door and got out her work bag, completely ignoring him and heading to her door. “You have some nerve.” He called after her.

“I am really not in the mood to deal with you and your first world, private educated, rich, privileged white boy problems right now Tom.” She stated, not even turning to face him.

The ‘P’ word that was a point of contention with him at the best of times, much less when he was tired, hungry and annoyed; his nostrils flared. “It is not my fault your parents didn’t think you worth the worth the investment of a good education.”

“If you want to be a prick, do it later, I cannot deal with you now Tom.” She repeated, not looking at him; her voice void of emotion.

“No, you can dish it out, but you cannot take what I have back, can you?” Tom took long strides and made his way over to her, standing between her and her doorway. He saw then the worn look on her face and the red circles around her eyes. “What, did my saying you were jealous last night hurt, did it strike a nerve?” He half demanded, a snide grin on his face. “With how spiteful you are, no wonder no guy wants to be with you.”

“I went to a car accident last night, a mother and her kids, ploughed through by a sleepy truck driver, no survivors in the car, truck driver standing there perfectly unscathed, trying to act like it wasn’t his fault.” Fresh tears coming to Danielle’s eyes. “Two beautiful babies, gone; because a man would not stop in and get a coffee and a kip. I had to check for their pulses because I was the only one small enough to fit into what was left of the wreck of a car to do so. Their beautiful little faces, covered in glass shards and blood, their mother, had died trying to get back to them, she died seeing her babies’ dead, and you think I give a shit about you and your pathetic attempt at a relationship?” She shook with emotion. “I could not care less if I tried Tom, I seriously can not give a single, solitary shit about you right now.” Tom swallowed hard. “And for the record, I don’t know if guys even consider me, because I am not the least bit interested in them at present.” She walked passed him. “I suppose if it is a case I am spiteful, and no one my age wants me, I could get a guy in his forties, or early twenties, after all, that’s what people do when they can’t get a partner in and around their own age, isn’t it. I mean, Cumberbatch’s wife is about a year younger than him, Hemsworth got a hot, not much older woman, but you, you have to go for one near a decade younger than you, says a lot really. They used to warn young girls that if there were men a good bit older than them interested in them, there was reason to be concerned; since there had to be a reason that no woman their age would look at them, makes you think.” She opened her door and walked in, slamming the door behind her, leaving him in her driveway, feeling worse than before.

Tom turned to leave and froze, in front of him stood Benedict, with Christopher, or he assumed had to be, since he had not seen the child in months, looking at him so judgementally from just outside Danielle’s driveway, he felt as though he was in the dock for murder, still covered in a victim’s blood. “Don’t start.”

“I hope I don’t have to, if that did not put your ‘shit’ in perspective for you, nothing will.” Ben mouthed the swear word rather than state it in front of his year old son, who was starting to babble a few words, not wanting him to learn it.

“What are you even doing here?”

“I went passed your place the other day to check on it, remember, you asked me to when you were away, and I saw a black car outside it, so I said I would check, it was Danielle, saying you were home for a few days this week, and she was collecting a few things for you, so with Sophie preparing her show this week, I thought we could catch up, and with the huge kerfuffle around you of late, I thought early day before the leeches rise would be best.”

“Seriously, not you too,” Tom growled, walking passed him.

“If there are so many talking to you about this Tom, does it not mean something to you, we care about you, that’s what friends do,” Ben stated in return. “Danielle is a close friend of the family, in five years she has been made privy to things about you that could be sold off to the highest bidder, photo’s she could make more money in one sale than she makes in a year, but no, she says nothing, and you actually just said that stuff to her just there?”

“I thought I told you to not start,” Tom growled.

“I thought I wouldn’t have to, but clearly, I do.”

“Go to Hell.”

“That’s a nice thing to say to your friend in front of his child.”

“I don’t care Ben.”

“That’s clear to see, I hope you are happy Tom; because it wouldn’t be worth all of this otherwise.” Ben shook his head, walking passed him into Danielle’s driveway.

“Where the Hell are you going?” Tom demanded.

“Christopher needs a fresh nappy and a warm breakfast, I was hoping he could have it at your mother’s, but to be honest, I don’t want him to be around someone as toxic as you are of late, so I am hoping that Danielle doesn’t mind me doing it at hers.”

“You don’t even know her.”

“I met her more times than I ever want to meet the woman that turned you into this.” Ben retorted, knocking on the door and lifting up the mail slot. “Danielle, it’s Ben Cumberbatch, can I change Christopher here please, I don’t think I am really welcome next door.” A moment later the door opened. “Sorry to disturb you, I heard you had a terrible night, but…”

“You don’t need to explain.” She gave a weak smile, making room for him to come into her home. “Come in, tea or coffee?” Elle did not even look at Tom as she closed the door again, leaving the livid man standing outside, shaking with rage.

Chapter Text

“How are you feeling?” Ben asked. He had met Danielle a few times through Tom and his family, she was incredibly normal, which was refreshing when you’re surrounded by actors and Hollywood. “I heard you yell at Tom about your night.”

“I just…Today is not the day for unimportant bull…” She caught herself before she swore. “Sorry.”

“I keep getting caught myself.” Ben dismissed changing the nappy. “Can I be so rude as to ask to heat some food for him too?”

“Sure, get him sorted and then we’ll organise that then.” She smiled. “It is nine in the morning, did you drive from London?”

“Someone, and I am not pointing fingers,” He pointed to his son. “Is getting up early, and Sophie is in Scotland, so I didn’t know what to do, I thought I would visit Tom, but well…”

“That blew up in your face.”

“That’s the polite way of putting it. This is so…not Tom.”

“Tell me about it, Diana is completely at a loss, so are Emma and Sarah, and for some reason, because he does not want to confront whatever or whoever is eating at him, I am Public Enemy Number One. Does he eat porridge?” She indicated to Christopher.

“Yes, but there’s no need to go to the trouble.”

“I usually have a bowl before I go to bed anyway,” she shrugged. “It’s only a little extra scoop; unless you want some yourself.”

“I am fine, thank you. Strong coffee is good. So you are…”

“I will be fine, I will go to bed for a while, then head to work early and get an assessment and an obligatory counselling session then be back to work.”

“That…Jesus, that’s rough.”

“You get used to it, in some ways, if that makes any bit of sense.”

“Do you not ever get nightmares?”

“Most weeks that something terrible happens, yeah.”

“Jesus.”

“I should have just gone to acting college.”

“Could you have afforded it?” There was a clear hint in Benedict’s voice that he was being sarcastic, clearly having heard everything Tom had said.

“Any other day, I’d have kneed him in the nuts for that, but today, I just can’t care, besides, it is clear, he is not the guy he was.” She sighed.

“Is that…?” Benedict pointed out the window.

“Mac, get down.” Elle didn’t even have to look, she knew it was the dog. “He’s the dog Tom found, yeah.”

“He looks good.”

“A bit scraggily, but yeah, he is doing well now.” She smiled.

“I am sorry.”

“What for?”

“Tom.”

“No one can apologise for him but himself. I only hope he sees sense, and when he does, that everyone is still here for him, because I think I am officially at the very precipice of telling him to go take a running jump off the nearest cliff.”

“No one would blame you. Thank you.” He took the fresh porridge and coffee from her and blew on it.

Half an hour, and a fed waddler later, Benedict thanked her, and left her home, tying Christopher into his car seat, before looking at Diana Hiddleston’s house and sighing.

*

“What was that ruckus outside Tom?” Diana asked, still in her nightgown.

“Benedict has gone into Danielle’s.” He stated angrily.

“I am not sure I follow.”

“He came here, supposedly to see me, but instead went into hers, and is in there now.”

“And why is that?” Diana looked at her son, she knew when he was at fault for something as a child, he would just give the start and end of a story, but nothing of what occurred in the intervening period.

“I was talking with Elle, and she went off on me, and he took her side.”

“Thomas,” Diana warned.

“I was tired and angry, and I may have said something, and she…”

“Gave you the truth?” Diana interjected. “You are my son Thomas, and I will always love you, but you need to get yourself in check, you are going to allow everything you worked for go down the toilet, and for what? When you were dating Susannah, you broke it off because you knew you would be too busy and did not want to drag her along, and now, you are going too far the other way, dropping it all for a woman, one who is not ready to settle down, and at twenty-six, that is fine, she is young, but you are putting it all on this one horse Thomas, and I am not sure the horse will even run the race.” Tom frowned. “Elle has a difficult job, and she wants her life outside it to be as smooth as possible, please do not make that any harder on her.”

Tom said no more, he knew once his mother found out the difficult night Danielle had, she would murder him for adding to her misery. “I need to get showered.” Diana nodded and went into the kitchen, turning on the radio.

“There was a road traffic accident in the early hours of this morning in Suffolk, a woman, and her two children were travelling back from a trip to Legoland when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, killing the occupiers of the car. The woman, named as thirty-four-year-old Carol Johnson originally from Brighton, residing in Suffolk, was recently widowed and had taken her children, eight year old Jeffery and five year old Jessica to the famous theme park following the death of her husband in a workplace accident in the North Sea on an oil rig earlier this summer, Jessica was said to be excited to start school next week, having bought her school supplies while in London with her mother. Police and paramedics at the scene said it was a devastating reminder of the dangers of driving while tired, and urge drivers to pull in and sleep if they feel themselves dozing off at the wheel.”

Tom sat on the steps of the stairs, listening to what Danielle had dealt with at work, feeling guilt riddle him once more. Diana came into the hallway, her face pale at what she had heard. “You don’t think…”

“She mentioned it, yes.”

“She was there?” Tom nodded. “And you were…”

“I didn’t know.”

“I think it best you leave her alone from now on Thomas,” Diana stated coldly.

Tom went upstairs without another word as Diana left the house to check on her neighbour.

*

For the rest of the time he was in Suffolk, Tom did as his mother suggested, and left Danielle alone. He was opening the window of the bathroom to leave out steam after a shower, and saw her in her back garden, a cup of coffee and a slice of apple crumble on the table, on a recliner garden chair, with Mac Tíre curled up on top of her. The dog, though small for a Sheppard, took up most of her torso, as she curled her arms around him, the dog clearly sensing her distress. He felt terrible for her, and was about to go apologise to her when his phone went off, looking at the screen, he noticed it was Taylor and clicked accept; since she was supposed to be in LA and that meant she was ringing him at five am there. “Hey.”

“I have the best night.” She half sang at him.

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“I sang with Nelly at Mike’s birthday.”

“What?”

“Mike Heis, the oil heir, I sang at his birthday, here in the Hamptons.” She repeated excitedly.

“The Hamptons, isn’t that on the East Coast?” Tom frowned.

“Eh, yeah, here in Long Island.”

“I thought you were in LA, that’s what you said yesterday?”

“OMG, I decided not to go, a party is so much more fun, especially for Mike, he is super rich and sweet, so I said, how could I say no, right? I mean he is practically squad approved awesome, by the way, I kissed him, so don’t be surprised to see a photo.”

“What?”

“Oh there’s nothing behind it, totally platonic, it’s on the cheek, so you’ll get over it.”

“That’s sort of, inappropriate, though, isn’t it? I mean if there are pictures.” Tom broached.

“It was a friendly one, and besides, I am not changing myself for anyone, and it keeps the cameras where they need to be. I’m tired, so I am going to bed, you’re here again tomorrow, right?”

“I need to go straight to Australia, there is one scene that went a bit awry, so I am to go there and then I am free for a week, yeah.”

“Tell them you are busy til Thursday.”

“That’s not how it goes with Marvel movies Taylor, they are in charge, not me.”

“I told my parents you are going to be here, so be here Tom.” She demanded petulantly.

“I cannot be there until I do the scene, they’ve paid the flights, I have to go.”

“Fine, but I am coming too.”

“Great.” His tone did not match the word.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Jetlag, and a small argument with my mum’s neighbour I have to sort.”

“That woman?”

“Danielle, yes.”

“She is such a bitch, Johnny, my bodyguard, told me she was trying to sneak into your mums when I was there with you, as though she owned the place, and had like a camera phone in her hand, you are better off away from her, I bet she has a hoard of things on you, waiting for the highest bidder, you should have a high fence and an NDA put on her ass. I mean, what is she paying for that house with?”

Tom’s brow furrowed. “I never asked.”

“Maybe you should, your family has money, and she is some nurse or something, and she can live next door to your mum, and only did so after you got famous.” Taylor planted a seed in his mind; he looked down, looking at the woman that had been close to his family for so long. “I mean, it’s so cliché, use the family to get to your celebrity crush.”

“Crush?”

“Yeah, she is totally in love with you, why do you think she is always running around to your mothers, dying to see you no doubt, I mean, I bet she accidentally walked in while you were there, pretending not to know you were home.” Tom thought of the first day, and her arriving home just after him from work. “I’m right, you know it. I am used to it all, I have been in this game long enough, she is practically a stalker.”

“Tom, are you there?” a voice called from outside the bathroom.

“I better go; mum is calling.”

“What time are you into JFK tomorrow?”

“Actually, it’s to Florida.”

“What, no that’s unacceptable, change it.”

“I am afraid not everyone has private jets, love.” Tom chuckled.

“You should, fine, I will send mine to get you.”

“The next flight is from there to Hawaii and then a connection to Brisbane.”

“God, that’s a joke.” She commented.

“Get some sleep love, I will see you soon.”

“You better.” She signed off, hanging up before he could say anymore.

“Tom?” He heard his mother call from outside his room in the hallway.

“Yeah,” Tom looked at the phone. “I’m here.”

“I am going to Emma’s for a few days with Danielle, what time is your flight?”

“What?” Tom demanded, opening the bathroom door.

“Emma’s, Elle and I are going there for a few days.” Diana jumped slightly when Tom opened the door.

“Why?”

“Because Elle took that crash badly, she is not sleeping at all, apparently those children, they are keeping her awake,” Diana stated sadly. “She’s been giving compassionate leave for a week, she needs a break.”

“So she is on the verge of a breakdown, that is what you are saying, that she is nuts.”

“Thomas!”

“What, that is what you are saying, is she even safe to be around?”

“How could you say such a thing, you heard the news report, and saw the photo’s in the paper, you can see her, trying to get into the car. How she hasn’t had one is a miracle. Don’t you dare speak badly of her for it.” Diana snapped.

“She is too close to the family, you need to step back from her. How do we even know her family are dead?”

“Thomas! What has gotten into you?”

“Taylor was saying…”

“I should have known.” Diana walked off. “That girl has cost you a lot of late Thomas, I have to wonder how much you will lose before you wisen up. She is off snuggling up to billionaires sons and kissing them all too closely and you are here losing everything for her.”

“She told me about that, it was platonic.” He called down the stairs.

“And yet when I met that Australian girl from The Night Manager, she said she tried to ring you about your Emmy, she was met with an automated answer, as has Elle, and I bet others too. You cannot be friends with women, but she can snuggle men, trust has to go both ways in a relationship Thomas.” She stated back to him, opening the front door. “Ready sweetheart.” He heard her call. “Tom’s car is in my way, put Mac in and we’ll take yours.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, mum.” Tom smiled as he heard his mother’s voice on the other side of the phone. “It’s great to hear from you.”

“Are you alright over there, I saw pictures of you yesterday on some tabloid or another, you look tired and a bit thin.”

“I am fine mum.” He sighed, he hated when she freaked out like this, but hearing from her and her concern was also endearing. “What’s new there?”

“Nothing much, Emma is doing rehearsals, she is doing wonderfully.” He could hear the pride in his mother's voice. “Sarah is thinking of perhaps having another baby in a year or so.”

“Wow.”

“And Danielle is after getting a brilliant promotion, she was here yesterday, telling me about it. All her energy going on extra training days, and exams and extra shifts, and her work after that terrible car crash, it has all paid off.”

“That’s, yeah, that’s good.”

“It is, and she introduced me to this nice young man that seems very interested in her, he is a doctor for one of the hospitals she works with. We went out for dinner one night, she treated me to it after everything I supposedly did to help her with work, and he was there, you should have seen how he looked at her Thomas, but you know Elle, she is so polite to everyone, she was utterly oblivious to it. Very handsome too, I’d say about thirty-three, hard working, exactly what she needs. I think she has been lonely for home of late, so he would be a perfect distraction for her.”

Tom was unsure why hearing that Danielle could have a boyfriend made him feel so uncomfortable, surely if she had had a crush on him as Taylor had said, her getting a boyfriend would end that issue, and perhaps, he could get his friend back, but it still unsettled him slightly.

“Thomas?”

“Yeah, sorry mum, I was distracted.”

“By Danielle and the doctor?”

“What, no, that’s nothing to do with me.”

“I would have thought you would have thought it a good thing, you said before she was a lovely girl and deserved a nice fellow.”

“What, yeah, no, she does, I just would not interfere, that won’t help.”

“Is everything alright Thomas?”

“Yeah, fine, I just…it’s weird, thinking of it,” Tom explained.

“Well, she deserves it, she has been working so hard for everything, she had to do what you did, putting relationships on the long finger, she needs someone to love her like she deserves.”

“Yeah, she does.” Tom tried to sound sincere, he wanted to believe that, but he was still feeling odd about it all.

“Take care darling, and remember to eat well, hopefully, you will grace us all with your presence again soon.” He could hear the smile on his mother’s face.

“Sure thing mum, send my love to everyone.” Tom hung up the phone and tossed it onto the bed.

“Why does your mother obsess about that girl?” Taylor demanded, having heard the most of the conversation as she played on her phone.

“Because she is her neighbour and they are close.” Tom shrugged.

“She is only close to get to you.”

“She apparently is seeing someone now.”

“Only to throw you off her scent now that you found her out, trust me, I know her type; she will wait now that you are in a false sense of security and when you see her again, she will chance you.”

Tom said nothing more on it, “I better get a jog in before the photographers figure out where we are, if I read that I need a new workout gear to get sweaty and ruin, one more time this week, I will probably go mad.” He chuckled.

“Oh, they are outside already,” Taylor stated nonchalantly.

“How have they figured it out, we came via a private airfield and in a normal car?”

She shrugged. “They just do.”

Tom looked out the window to the gate of the house a few hundred feet away. “It’s always that same guy, who does he work for?”

“Not sure.”

“I might get Luke to look into it, he could be phone hacking or something.”

Taylor laughed. “You are being ridiculous. Just go for a run and ignore them. I am going to meet Selina for a while, I’ll see you later.” She gave him a peck on the cheek and walked off.

“What, I thought you wanted us to go to some opening later?”

“She said she was free, so I am going to go with her now.” She shrugged again. “I’ll be back soon, bye.” And with that, she was gone.

Tom spent a moment thinking about how he wanted to meet Evan’s when he was in LA a week previous, but could not, because, and she had a point, he had promised to fly to spend the day with Taylor beforehand; but he pushed it to the back of his mind, not wanting unnecessary confrontation. With a frustrated sigh, he turned and readied himself for his run.

*

“I have an idea.” Tom looks around at his girlfriend to show her she had his attention; her features are as bright as her voice, “We go to your mum’s for the weekend again.”

Part of Tom thought to decline, knowing his mother would not really want his girlfriend back to her home, but the other part hoped that she would get to like the blonde more if they got to know each other more. “Sounds like a plan.”

“That way the tart can see her little strops aren’t working.”

Tom frowned; it took him a minute to even realise who it was that Taylor was even referencing. “Danielle?”

“Obviously.”

“She is not having any strops; that I know anyway.”

“Well her little fake relationship is sort of one, I’ve had to do it before, I can smell them a mile off.”

“Well according to Mum, she seems happy, I’m glad.”

Taylor looked at him in disgust. “Why?”

“Because I like the idea of everyone being happy when possible, no one deserves to be alone or sad.” He shrugged. “Besides, she is actually a good person, she saves lives for a living.”

“No one gets rich from that sort of thing, my dad always told Austin and me to do everything we could to make sure we had as much money as possible.”

“Well everyone has different callings in life.” Tom smiled. “Poor Elle is a lot of great things, but a singer is not one of them.”

“It is not called talent for nothing,” Taylor grinned proudly back. “So we’ll head tomorrow.”

“I wanted to meet Evans tomorrow. I told you that.”

“But I told Ruby I would spend the weekend with her, if we don’t go tomorrow, we’ll only be there for two days; that is not enough time.”

Not trying to cause an argument, Tom simply nodded and took out his phone to call Evans to reschedule. “Text from Hemsworth.” - “Just spoke to Jess there, she is in Oz for a few weeks with her fiancé, told me to tell you, she has not been able to contact you since May, what’s up with that man?” Tom frowned. May, just like Debicki and Elle. He texted back that he would sort it, there was clearly something wrong with his phone and sighed.

Chapter Text

“Tom!” Diana half screeched in shock when her son walked into her living room. “What are you doing here?”

“I thought I would come say hi for a day or two.” He smiled back; he looked across the room, his smile falling the moment he realised who was in the room with his mother.

Danielle pursed her lips and refused to look at him, and next to her was a man not much younger than him, that he assumed was the doctor his mother told him about; he had the look of one, clean shaven, neat hair and to his surprise, a shirt on that was similar to ones he owned. “I think we should let you go and not be wasting your time when it is so rare to have Tom home Diana, we will talk to you again later in the week.”

“Not at all love, I…” Diana noticed that Taylor walked into the room, along with some of her security. “Taylor.” Her tone was far cooler with the pop star.

For the tiniest moment, Taylor’s lip flickered before it became that perfectly schooled smile once more. “Hi, Diana.” Her gaze fell on Elle and the man next to her for a moment.

“This is a surprise.” Diana looked at Tom showing him her displeasure.

“Well we thought, with so little free time, it would be great for us to come here for a day or two; since we seem to spend every free day we can with my family.” Taylor snuggled into Tom, eyeing Elle as she did. “Didn’t we Tommy?”

Danielle’s brow raised, she had to bit her lip not to say anything. “Well, I have little doubt but that Paul will need a few hours sleep before work tonight, I know I will.” She gave as polite a smile as she could muster and went to make her way out of the room.

Paul cleared his throat, “Yes, I do actually; Mrs Hiddleston, I cannot thank you enough for your kind gesture today, and for everything else, I hope to see you again soon.”

Diana was blatantly upset her afternoon had been altered and that Paul and Danielle were leaving. “It was my pleasure dear, and I hope to see you again in the very near future.” She gave her best smile to the young doctor. “I am so sorry for the interruption.”

Tom frowned; he thought his coming home would be a welcomed, but clearly, it was not. “I should have called ahead.”

“Yes, you should.” She replied coldly.

“Run,” Tom turned to see Paul looking wide-eyed at Danielle, the latter of which leaning up towards the doctor, indicating what she had just stated in a hushed tone was for him alone to hear. “Bye Diana, see you in a few days.”

“Goodbye dear.” And with a meek wave from Paul, he joined Danielle in leaving. “This is unacceptable Tom; you cannot just descend on my home with your madness and frighten away my guests.”

“It is only Danielle and her boyfriend.”

“I am trying to get that girl to do something other than work for five minutes, and you have ruined my plan.” She chastised.

“What?”

“Paul is interested in Elle, but she seems to be blissfully unaware, he and I are trying to see if she is interested.”

“You are doing the whole Emma thing again, aren’t you?”

“It worked out well there, didn’t it?”

“Mum, it doesn’t matter, Elle doesn’t matter, I am home, with Taylor and we wanted to see you.”

Diana gave the blonde a contemptuous look. “And what if I had not been home to entertain you two and your…entourage? Speaking of which, they can stay in a hotel or B&B, my house is neither.”

“Mum!”

“This is not up for discussion, Thomas; I will not have that ridiculousness around my home again. I am still getting people coming here every other day looking for you, it is not fair.” Diana snapped back. “Now, I better put the kettle on.” With that, she turned, leaving the famous pair to get settled.

*

“This was a bad idea.” Tom groaned, sitting on the side of the bed.

“It is that wretched girl, has bad mouthed us to her, can’t you see? And I told you there was something about her and that guy, it is all a front, I mean, he practically drooled at me, I bet if you weren’t standing there, he would have tried something, he is not interested in her, as much as your mum thinks otherwise.”

Tom begged to differ, but he had already had enough conflict for one week, much less afternoon. He saw how Paul looked at Elle in concern when she stiffened at their entering, how he kept close to her, gauging her every emotion, in case he was needed. If Paul was acting, he was a greater actor than most any Tom had had the great pleasure of working with. “I’m going to go take a shower.” He stated, upset that his mother, whom always adored him, seemed less and less inclined to speak with him of late.

Taylor followed behind him up the stairs, but not before telling her security to remain.

*

The time with his mother was awkward at best, Diana would be as she always was with him whenever he was around her for a few moments by himself, but once Taylor would enter the room, she would become cold, trying to be as polite as she could muster.

The day before he was scheduled to leave, he looked into his mother’s garden from his bedroom window; she was sitting there quietly, with a book, a large smile on her face. He had yearned for that smile in his company for some time, and wondered what it was that had caused her to have it once more. He thought to go ask her, but then, with a slight look to the side, he saw she was eavesdropping.

Danielle was in her garden, sitting down and smiling with the doctor he had met on the first day home. It was blatantly clear; Paul was utterly smitten with Elle, his eyes never left her as she spoke animatedly about whatever they were discussing, her hands flailing around as she described something. When whatever she was saying came to its climax, he erupted in laughter, causing Mac Tíre to jump, and for Tom to notice the dog was actually by Paul’s side, not Elle’s.

“Oh my God, they are utterly shameless, acting like that for your benefit.” Taylor scoffed, coming into his line of view beside him. “If it was any more obvious, they would have banners made about it.” She placed her arms around Tom’s neck and smiled slyly. “Why don’t we have a little fun?”

“Taylor, it’s my mum’s house and she is home.” Tom shook his head.

“She’s outside.”

“And can come in at any moment, besides, if we can hear them, they will definitely hear us.”

“Exactly.” Taylor grinned.

“Absolutely not.” Tom walked away.

“You’re no fun.” She pouted; when he did not respond, she looked out the window again and thought of what to do.

*

“I had an amazing time Danielle, thank you.” Paul grinned as she walked him out to his car.

“Yeah, it was fun.” She gave a small but genuine smile back.

“Next time my place?” He asked hopefully.

Danielle took a moment to consider what Paul was implying. “Maybe.” He frowned slightly at her. “With my hours, I like to not have Mac Tíre by himself by day too.”

“Bring him with you.” The young doctor suggested. “I mean, I know it’s an apartment, but it’s a big one, and we can bring him for a walk.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose, I mean, he’s not exactly small…”

“Serious Danni, bring him; I would love to have him over, and well, obviously to have you over.” It was blatantly clear, Paul was stuttering and nervous.

“That would be nice, thank you, for both of us. I know Mac would love to have a new set of neighbourhood cats to harass.”

“Remind me to introduce him to my neighbours Chihuahua, that thing never stops yapping.”

“With your hours?” Paul nodded. “Yikes.”

“So you know, if ever you need Mac doggy sat for a day, I wholeheartedly offer my services. It’s a shared balcony.”

“That could silence the little shit alright.”

“I thought you were an animal person?”

“I am.”

“You just referred to a dog as ‘a little shit’,” Paul argued.

“I did, because sometimes, dogs, like humans, can be shits.”

“More often or not, humans are worse than dogs.”

“Well dogs never tend to lie, and if they like you, they like you for you.”

“May I broach something with you?”

“If it is concerning actors and their pop tart girlfriends, then not here and now.” Danielle wagered.

“Later then.” Paul leant forward slightly, kissing her cheek. “I can’t wait to see you again Danni.”

“And Mac?”

Paul chuckled, “Yes, and Mac.” He rubbed the dog in questions neck. “Until then.” He grinned, waving as he walked off.

“Bye Paul.” Danielle waited for him to get in his car, and giving one last wave, turned to go back inside. “Hello, Diana.”

At that moment, the older woman got out of her car and looked over the wall to her neighbour’s garden. “Danielle.” She beamed happily. “So, afternoon tea? I just popped to the shop for some biscuits.”

“Chocolate Hobnobs, I do not think it will go down well if they were all to make their way to my house.”

“Perhaps not, but at least you would appreciate them.” Diana frowned.

Danielle looked at her in confusion. “But Tom…”

“Apparently not anymore.”

“Wow.” Danielle could think of nothing more to say, she looked to the house for a second, concerned for who they were referencing within it. She looked away again when she spotted said person staring at her from what used to be Emma’s old room. “I better go get some sleep before work anyway Diana, I am sure with him leaving again soon, you actually do want to see Tom.” She glanced at the window again and noticed he was no longer there.

“That is debatable. I got a lecture this morning on why I do not have soy milk in the house.”

“The shop is in the village if that is what other people want.” You indicated to the road. “And besides, soy is not great for you either; it leads to problems with women and fertility, according to recent research anyway.”

“I see; so when are you going to Paul’s?”

Danielle laughed. “You are incorrigible Diana Hiddleston.”

“It works with my two daughters; forgive me if I want to see another young woman happy.” The older woman shrugged.

“Try marrying off your son,” Elle suggested, walking to her door.

“I rather not.” The older responded; her voice deadpan once more.

“I will speak to you soon Diana.”

“Tomorrow my dear.”

*

“Wait a minute, I’m coming.” Danielle ran to the front door, her hair dripping and only her pj’s on; since they were the first thing she grabbed after running out of the shower to see who wanted her. Opening the door, her jaw dropped as she saw the younger blonde woman that had caused terrible conflict within the family she loved almost as much as her own. “You seem to be lost; you’re looking for next door.” She stated coldly, going to close the door again.

“I need to speak to you.”

“I need to go to work, send a courier pigeon if it is that important.”

“Back off from Tom.”

Danielle had been about to close the door in the American’s face, but those words caused her to pause and open it again, her own face one of utter belief. “Excuse you?”

“Back off from Tom and his family.”

“Look, if Tom wants to be your little bit of ‘man meat’ for however long he is stupid enough to go along with it, that is his problem, and if you cannot see that I have been avoiding him, forget a new bag or car, you need to get yourself a trained Labrador.” The singer glared at her. “But if Diana sees fit to remain around me, you, your cluster of bodyguards that failed their cop exams, or your ‘squad’ can do nothing about it, you are a fleeting moment in her son’s life, I plan on still being close to her when you are middle-aged, washed up and probably an alcoholic or junkie with three kids by three dad’s and still bitching about that first guy that pissed you off.”

“You wish you were like me, don’t even think you don’t.”

“Well, I am sure being five foot ten has advantages, yeah.”

“You are nothing special.”

“No, but neither are you. You see, if you were to drop off the face of the earth tomorrow, we’d still have Adele; so we would all still have our Recommended Daily Allowance of moaning cunt that cannot get over their ex covered.”

Shaking at the blasé manner in which Danielle dismissed her, Taylor’s face contorted in anger. “You’ll be hearing about this.” She stated, storming off.

“Probably not, I hate your songs and I think you can’t sing for shit, and even if you called your next album ‘Fuck you Danielle Hughes’ I still wouldn’t feel the urge to buy it.” She called after her. As Taylor turned the corner to go into Diana’s, Danielle swung the door closed. “Take care now, bye bye then.” She smiled to herself, walking into her kitchen. Thinking of what she had just said to Taylor for a moment, she burst out laughing. “Screw paramedic, I should have been a comedian.” She self-congratulated, grabbing a fresh cup of coffee and heading upstairs to get ready for work.

Chapter Text

Tom sighed, the meeting with the directors and producers of Bond seemed like a distant memory now, and he still heard nothing; he was beginning to get worried. Luke had informed him that public sway had a lot to do with the role, and his increasing public profile was not helping. The producers had told him a lesser known actor was always their target, Loki had shot him onto the radar on many aspects, but as he was not an Avenger, but the antagonist, they seemed to look passed that and his role in the Night Manager very much was something they were happy with, his relationship with Taylor however, had made him front page of every sort of magazine cover, and not all of it good. As Danielle had spat at him, being on the front of the National Enquirer did not help him in any manner. Frustrated, he threw the script in his hand onto the table in front of him. Nothing seemed to be coming to him as they had before, nothing inspired any excitement in him, as though begging him to embrace a character as Adam, Loki and Captain Nichols had, or even challenge him as Thomas Sharpe and Hank Williams had instead, he had only had offered ‘chick flick’ trash that would undoubtedly grace the ‘Razzie’ lists of years to come, not an award he coveted.

He swore to himself and decided to get himself a coffee, knowing that Taylor was in her writing room, no doubt coming up with another song for her album that would collect her several more awards. ‘How many could be at your expense?’ a small voice in his head kept asking, but he shook it out. Taylor had not let him hear any of her songs, but she had said she would when they were ready, he respected that; songwriting, like many other arts, was something that took from the writer's very soul, to force its exposure too early would not be recommended and could hamper her artistic talent.

Sighing to himself, he made his way quietly to the kitchen area, not paying any real attention to his surrounds. In the months he had been dating her, things with Taylor had been very fast and hectic, but they were celebrities, that was to be expected, but as he looked at LA outside of Taylor’s home, the Hollywood sign in the distance, he found himself missing London and indeed, the comforts of its temperate, cooler climate. He had not really spoken to his mother since he was last there, Christmas was just around the corner, and Taylor had made it clear, she had expected him to spend it with her and her family. In his thirty-five years, he always spent his Christmas’s with his family, even Sarah, who was married, and was living in India for some time had made point of coming home for them, he knew that his family would assume that he would be going home to them, and in truth, he wanted to go there, he wanted everything to be as it always had been with them. They were so close; he yearned for that once more. Taking the coffee, he headed back to his scripts, perhaps somewhere in that trash, there was a good one, he had to hope after all.

As he passed the room he knew Taylor to be in, he heard her on the phone, the door slightly ajar. “Do you know what that bitch said to me? That I can’t sing for shit. I know, she is something else. I know; I am totally going to deal with it. I don’t care, I’ll sue her. I can’t remember; nothing important, driving an ambulance or something. I have to do something, though, the way she spoke to me; like she was actually someone. No, he doesn’t know, he would totally try to talk to her about it. Yeah, I have an idea. Bye Sweetie. Kisses.”

Tom frowned, it was clear that Taylor was talking about Danielle, but he was not aware they even had spoken with one another, what interaction was she talking about? Startled, he walked off back to his scripts, his mind spinning over her words.

“Hey, Johnny, it’s your favourite celeb. How are you? I am great thanks. Listen, I have something good for you. How about all of Tom’s school photos and a few silly stories, interested? I thought you might be. Catch? Oh, Johnny, you know me so well. Your source is a neighbour of his mum, by the way, no specifics, great. No there is no way this can go like the Kanye thing, there is no trail. You’re the best, thanks. Just look for an email from Hughes D, your great.” She sang as she said goodbye. “Kisses.” She hung up the phone. “I’ll teach that bitch not to try and dance with me.” She grinned snidely, turning and realising she had left the door slightly ajar. Opening it slightly, she looked out, and noticed no one in the hallway, before closing the door and setting up the email address under Danielle’s name.

*

“Well, look at you.” Danielle turned and smiled. “What brings you here?”

“The company’s fear that you will screw up and get injured.” She smiled.

“I am running down a street,” Benedict argued indignantly.

“And you are a big star, so if you fall, I need to be here to tend to your ass. Well, the stunt double they have for you anyway. Please tell me they are not shooting from the front, he looks nearly as much like me as he does you.”

“Will is a good stunt double, but no, he is not really like me in looks.” Benedict agreed, looking at the other man across the street. “So, you are on duty this evening?”

“Yeah, I work the night shift all the time.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t have to worry about silly things like family and kids, speaking of whom, how is the little man?”

“Christopher is the hardest role I have ever had in my life.” He sighed dramatically.

“Wouldn’t change it for the world, though, would you?”

“No, I am badgering poor Sophie about it of late.”

“Well, she has to do the work.”

“I have some role in it.” The actor argued.

“Getting your jollies is not working, sorry to tell you.”

“It’s an integral part.”

“That’s true.” Danielle conceded. “Speaking of pricks, have you heard from Tom recently?”

Benedict laughed slightly. “No, I haven’t, you?”

“No. I did have the pop princess on my doorstep not too long ago telling me to back off from Tom and his family.”

“Fuck me.” Benedict’s face was one of genuine shock.

“Yeah, so naturally, I told her to beat it, and I was told ‘I’ll be hearing about this’.”

“Jesus, does Tom know?” Danielle shrugged. “That’s mad.”

“Yeah, well, what can you do? He’s a big boy, he has to get himself sorted.”

“You’ll have a song about you soon.”

“‘The Bitch Next Door’; I’d get a t-shirt made.”

“As long as it isn’t ‘I Heart TS’.”

“I’d get caught for copyright then I assume.” She laughed. “I better go, this Will guy has to do something stupid to make you seem awesome, meaning I might be needed.”

“Take care, Danielle.”

“You too.”

Benedict watched as she walked over to the crew, thinking over what she said, worried, he looked through his phone until he found the number he needed. When he found it, he pressed the call button and waited. “Hey, it’s Benedict, when you get this message, could you call me back, it is sort of important, thanks, bye.”

Chapter Text

The source stated that the pictures shown are clearly visible within Diana Hiddleston’s Suffolk home; and that she will happily show them and more to any who visit. The source also stated however, that to be told some of the A-List actor’s more embarrassing secrets, such as the time he ran stark naked, at eight years of age through a family get together because he cousin dared him to, takes years of earning the family’s trust and planting the idea that such stories in no way interest a person.

Tom stared at the small online article, which was very little writing and mostly photographs, all of him and his sisters as children, all personal ones that he knew his mother kept as cherished memories, and a few pictures of his mother’s living room and hallway. He shook with anger; he knew who the article was referencing as the ‘source’. The Jones’ that lived down from his mother were good at giving friendly salutes, but nothing more and the Kaleka’s were polite, but they were too young to really bother with his mother, both of them were the one age with him; that left only one person, one that he knew did know those stories, since he was dying of mortification as his mother relayed them to her in the living room one afternoon in his presence; Danielle. Taylor had been right all along, Danielle had been simply biding her time until she could strike and make some money for herself.

Picking up his phone, he went to call Luke to deal with it, and to see what he could do about getting Danielle sorted with an NDA. It was then he realised he had a missed call, so calling his voicemail; he put his ear up to it. It was Benedict, much to his surprise, and going by his message, he had seen the piece. Feeling somewhat vindicated, Tom pressed the callback button.

“Tom.” Benedict’s voice seemed somewhat relieved at the other side of the phone. “I am glad you called back.”

“I get it, you were wrong, she had everyone fooled,” Tom stated sympathetically.

“What?”

“Danielle, her big piece she is after giving the tabloids. Taylor said it would happen, and she was right.”

“Danielle, no you got it all wrong Tom, I was talking to her there a minute ago, Taylor was threatening her.”

“They’ve never even spoken, so that’s bullshit.” Tom dismissed. “Are you actually defending her?”

“Danielle? No, I’m not, because there’s nothing to defend. I have no idea what you are even on about.”

“She sold off a story to the papers, pictures from within my mum’s home; stories about me.”

“Are they really personal?”

“Not really, but she is probably saving them for next.”

“Tom, seriously, she knows some of your more personal stuff, she would not tell a little and not tell that, it’s not her, whoever your leak is, it’s not Danielle.”

“And you know this for sure?”

“Well, no, but I really doubt it, she is not the kind.”

“Are you fucking her?” Tom accused.

There was silence on the other side of the line for a moment. “Excuse me?”

“Are you fucking her? You seem really defensive of her.”

“Are you shitting me, Tom, I have a wife and kid and you are asking me if I am shagging your mother’s neighbour? A woman that lives three hours away? What the hell is going on in your head?”

“Well, you seemed all too cosy going into her house before, and you were talking to her earlier.”

“She’s…”

“What, turning up near you? That’s a bit convenient, isn’t it? Be careful or you will be next.”

“Tom, are you actually listening to yourself, you know Danielle would never fuck a married man, and I damn well would never fuck a woman that is not my wife.” Benedict snapped. “I came on to tell you to watch out for your little sweetheart, but it’s clear she’s screwed you up already, I hope she’s worth it, I really do.”

With that, the line went dead, leaving Tom staring at it angrily before tossing it onto the couch. He rubbed his hands over his face and sighed. Anytime of late that Elle’s name came up in any conversation, it was immediately followed by anger and arguments. His phone went off, telling him he had a text, so he walked over and read it.

Taylor – I told you, OMG I told you.

He did not know what to say back, so he tossed it down on the couch again, before crashing down beside it and wondering what he could do.

*

Benedict looked at the phone, shaking in anger at what Tom was insinuating.

“Did I actually hear that right?” Sophie asked from beside him, holding Christopher’s hands as he tried to walk a few steps.

“Apparently I am shagging his mother’s neighbour, just a heads up.”

“Nice of you to tell me,” Sophie replied jokingly.

“If it is any consolation, I didn’t know myself until a moment ago.”

Sophie scoffed. “Was that the paramedic I saw you and Will taking to?”

“Yep.”

“She’s pretty.”

“She is, I suppose, I have a wife so I would not be looking.” He grinned back. “Apparently, she’s taken anyway; I heard her on the phone yesterday to a guy, Paul, setting up a date.”

“That’ll put the brakes on any relationship you two are secretly having.” Sophie laughed.

“It is highly inappropriate of her to do so when we are supposed to be having a somewhat interesting, illicit and albeit highly false affair. God; that is the most insulting thing I have ever heard from a supposed friend, and honestly, I am not sure who it is more insulting to.”

“I’m not sure,” Sophie admitted, leaning in as Benedict placed his arm around her. “What are you going to do?”

“Danielle is on set again this evening, I might see her there.”

“At least it did not name her.”

“Yet.”

“Do you think she knows?”

“How can she not? God this is ridiculous. What is going on Sophie?”

Sophie shook her head slightly. “I have no idea, Tom is so…”

“Before this, I would have said, level-headed, intelligent and calm, but now…now it’s like there is something that has clicked off in his head, I feel like shaking him to get him to wake up again. He really thinks she did this.”

“Could she have?”

“Well, anyone can do anything, but would it be her nature; from what I have seen, no, I really don’t think she did, she seemed too hurt by everything that has happened, but not in a malicious manner.”

“Well, perhaps tonight will bring more of it to light.” She smiled.
*

“Are you alright?” Benedict asked, looking at the paramedic in front of him.

It turned out, Danielle did not know about the article, she always avoided celebrity pages, thinking them to be unbearable at best. When Benedict began to talk to her about the piece, she genuinely had no clue as to what he was referencing, and when he showed her, she shook with horror at what it implied.

“It’s me, they are talking about me, as though I did this. Like I told them.” Tears began to form in her eyes. “I never…I would never…”

“I know.” Benedict gave her a hug. “She told you she would get you, and this is her revenge.”

“If Diana…”

“If Diana believes this then I will eat my Sherlock Holmes hat.” Danielle gave a laugh that was half a sob. “She is trying to get you to be forced away from the family, it is an effective method, I’ll grant her that.”

“I…How can I prove it is not me, Emma is one of my greatest friends and Diana…I cannot lose her, she is the only one I can really talk to since my mum…”

Benedict did not know very much of Danielle’s circumstances, he only recognised her accent as one of the Irish ones he had worked around before, so he established from that she was Irish, that and a few pictures he had seen in her home of Irish landscapes, but the manner which she spoke told him, that at the very least, her mother had passed away. “Diana has always seen through her too, you said that yourself, no one thinking clearly would think it is you, you have to believe that.”

“But even if they do, there will always be a slight niggling feeling in the back of their mind that perhaps I am not as trustworthy as they thought.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Not unless you can prove it was her.”

“I really wish I could.” He smiled sadly; before he furrowed his brow. “Perhaps.”

“What?”

“I have a little idea.”

“There’s nothing you can do about this.”

“Yes, I can.”


“I am really scared about this, what if it backfires on you?”

Benedict gave her warm smile. “I’m a big boy, I can handle myself. Besides, it will be harmless really, nothing that can do any harm. Just get on with your job in stopping us from killing ourselves here and don’t concern yourself about it.”

“Thank you, though I don’t know why you are so concerned with helping me, but I glad you are.”

“I want my good friend to see sense, as do you. I know we are not well acquainted, but our concern for him is enough for this to work.”

“I really hope you are right.”

When Danielle left, Benedict took out his phone and scrolled down, pressing call when he got to Tom’s number. At first, he thought it was going to ring out, but in the end, the other actor answered. “Yes?” it was curt and somewhat angry.

“Are you free on Thursday?” Benedict asked.

“I am in LA on Thursday,” Tom responded bluntly.

“I know, so am I, Sophie and I would love to actually see you face to face for a change, maybe talk?”

“I dunno.”

“Tom, please, there has been so much going on recently, I would actually like to see my friend, my real friend, Tom, remember that guy, smart, well educated, funny.”

“You forgot dashing.” There was a light playfulness to Tom’s tone Benedict had not heard in months.

“Yeah, that’s the idiot, how about we grab lunch then, perhaps, if she is around, actually meet Taylor?”

Tom remained quiet for a moment. “You want to meet her?”

“Yes, I mean, clearly she means a lot to you, so surely, as your friend, it makes sense for us to meet.”

“What about your defending Danielle?”

“Look, I am not going to go too much into that right now.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, I sort of got talking to her, and now I am worried…”

“That she will sell something on you? Fuck, you too? Was it anything serious?”

“No, just random stuff, but you know me, I don’t like certain parts of my personal life public.”

“Yes, I know. It’s nothing to do with the small guy, is it?”

“No, thankfully.”

“Was she alone with him for even a minute? You and Sophie have worked really hard to keep the camera off him.”

Benedict was forced to bite his lip from retorting in reference to Tom allowing a camera be shoved in his niece’s face as he accused his hardworking, good neighbour of photographing Christopher to sell his pictures. “No, well for a moment to go to the bathroom.”

“Shit. We will meet Thursday so, we can discuss it then.”

“And Taylor?”

“She is more famous than we are, she knows what it is like, she has her own things to be thinking about, she won’t say anything.”

“Perfect.” Benedict prayed his conniving smile would not alter his tone over the phone and rise Tom’s suspicions. “Until then man, usual spot?”

“See you then.” Tom’s tone was upbeat. “And Ben, great to actually be talking to you again.”

As Benedict hung up the phone, he looked at it, praying that Tom would not hate him for what he was about to do to save his friend from the worst mistake of his life.

Chapter Text

“Do you want to talk about it?” Paul looked at Danielle as she finished the paperwork from bringing in a woman who had an asthma attack to the A&E of the hospital he worked in.

“I am working.” Was all she responded. “And so are you.”

“Danni…”

“Paul, I…” she bit her lower lip. “I am not sure I can do this.”

Paul pulled her away from the nurses’ station gently and brought her to an examination room that was not in use, leaving the door slightly ajar. “I know; that is why you need to talk about it.”

“How do you know?”

“Diana saw me in the street, asked me if I had seen you. Her daughter showed her the piece, they know you had nothing to do with it, apparently, you know things about him that would pay off the rest of your mortgage in a bidding war.”

“I don’t have a mortgage, I sold my parents house and used my dad’s life insurance to pay for my place.” She gave a half smile back.

“Danni, She’s worried about you.”

“Who?”

“Diana, she keeps calling your phone, so have I actually, but it’s not on.”

“Yes it is, I just made sure to keep it on the ‘do not disturb’ setting.”

“You won’t answer the door to her.”

“I was in Norfolk for a few days.”

“That shoot, I remember. How was it?”

“Good actually, it was Sherlock, so I got to see a few scenes of what’s to come.”

Paul’s face lit up “Really? I love that show, it’s brilliant. Did you meet Cumberbatch and Freeman?”

“Yes, I did actually, well, not Freeman, but Benedict was there.”

“You are on first name terms?”

“Look who I live next to.”

“Yeah, but how would that equate to him?”

“I’ll tell you later.” She shook her head, knowing there was a small chance of them being overheard in semi-public.

“How about we meet tomorrow for lunch, my place, you, me and Mac, let you get whatever it is that has been eating you off your chest? I’ll even hide anything incriminating so you can’t sell it to the papers.” Danielle gave him a bemused look. “Kidding.”

“I’m not sure Paul, I’m not really in a…”

“Look, I get it, you are a bit tossed in the air with this, for whatever reason, but I think you do actually need to be able to let it out.”

“That is why we have psych evaluations every other week.”

“No, that is for work related crap, but for life stuff outside of that, you are on your own, but you don’t have to be.”

Danielle gave him a small smile. “Why are you so nice to me?”

“Because contrary to whatever is going on in that beautiful head of yours, I think you are amazing and worth every ounce of effort.” He gave her a cocky smile back. “Lunch?”

“Okay, I concede.”

“Wonderful, I am off in a half an hour.”

“Lunch isn’t for another twelve hours Paul.”

“I know, but I am only doing a sixteen-hour shift today.”

“The joys of working for the NHS!”

“So I will be to yours at noon, and we will have an afternoon of you being waited on, cooked for and accompanied for a walk, does that sound amiable to you Miss Hughes?”

“I think it does.” She smiled. “Thank you, Paul, for everything.”

“My pleasure.” He took her hand and kissed the back of it. “You washed these after Mrs. Jenkins, right?”

Danielle laughed. “Of course.”

“Good, the last thing I want is to have bunion ointment breath for my last rounds.”

“That would be a little off-putting, yes. Thank you for making me laugh.”

“I will endeavour to do so often, I happen to love your laugh.”

She smiled again but then they heard a light knock on the door. “Danielle, we are needed at a house fire.”

“Shit. Thanks, Dave.” She turned to Paul again. “I better go.”

“See you tomorrow.” He smiled, watching her leave.

*

“How am I supposed to be nice to this…I cannot even call her a woman, she is ten years younger than me and acts like a prepubescent?” Sophie hissed into her husband’s ear.

“Think about getting Tom to see the light.”

“Isn’t that a movie he was in?”

“Focus Sophie.”

“Right, here is the place, God Ben, what if this doesn’t work, why…?”

“Sophie, breathe, if it gets too much, make an excuse to leave the table for a few minutes, as long as it is believable, I doubt anyone will notice.” Ben squeezed her hand in his to give her some encouragement. “What the…”

The outside of the restaurant was a sea of snapping cameras. “Oh God.” Sophie grimaced.

“I guess they’re here,” Ben growled quietly. “Excuse me, please.” He held Sophie next to him and tried to make his way through the paparazzi.

A few of them asked questions, he was sure he heard Tom and Taylor’s names, as well as a comment that startled him, a reference to Danielle, not by name, but by asking if he was worried about his personal stories too.

“Did I just hear…?” Sophie looked at him when they entered the restaurant.

“Yes.” Benedict confirmed, “I think it is safe to say my suspicions as to who is behind this is right.” He turned to the maître d’. “Hiddleston table, please.”

“You mean the Swift table.” The man corrected. Benedict had seen him every time he came to this restaurant in LA, chosen specifically because it was off the beaten track, quiet and not a celebrity hotspot, or at least, where people did not expect to see them. It was one of the best-kept secrets in the industry, until today, and Benedict would wager that because of Swift, it would be no longer receiving the clientele it was aimed at.

“Really?” He asked, utterly disgusted, looking at Sophie. “He can’t book a table now?”

“We’ll see what is going on.” She smiled at him, noticing they were getting close to the correct table when Tom rose to his feet, a smile on his face. “You are Sherlock after all.” Sophie gave a dry smile.

“And you are a far better sidekick than Martin, prettier too.” Benedict grinned. “Don’t tell him that, though.”

“Of course not.” Sophie turned and was enveloped in a large hug from Tom, “Tom, so long since I’ve seen you.”

“And I you, how are you both.” He grinned at her but turned slightly to greet Ben.

“Well, but a little jetlagged, you know the drill.” Ben smiled, extending his hand to Tom, who shook it enthusiastically, placing a hand on Ben’s arm as he did.

“Yes, I get that too often now, I have flown more time zones in the past few months.” He rolled his eyes playfully.

“Yes, we’ve seen.” Sophie smiled politely, but her words dripping with obvious disapproval.

Tom’s smile faltered for a moment, but the sound of a throat clearing behind him caught his attention. “Where are my manners? He turned and beckoned Taylor to stand up and come over to his friends, which she did so, after a moment of a contemptuous glaring, her smile was pristine however when she got to her feet. “Ben, Sophie, I would like to formally introduce you to Taylor, Taylor, you know Benedict Cumberbatch, and this is his lovely wife Sophie.”

Taylor gave Ben a seemingly genuine smile and a kiss on the cheek, Sophie however, was treated to a glare and curt grimace of a smile. “Lovely to meet you both.”

“And for us to finally meet you, we have not had the pleasure before now, Tom, that’s solely on you.” Ben chastised playfully.

“Well, with everything…” Tom began.

“And certain people,” Taylor interjected.

Tom shifted uncomfortably; causing Benedict to realise there was actual doubt in Tom’s eyes, filling the older actor with relief that all that was required was a slight push to get him to question everything. “Yes, but let’s not dwell on that right now, how about some starters, I am quite peckish from the flight.”

The meal went by slowly as far as the Cumberbatch’s were concerned, Tom spoke as animatedly with Ben as he usually did, though there was an eagerness in him also, as though he had been yearning to talk to him for ages. Tom ensured to include a very bored looking Taylor in the conversation, explaining to her different things that had to be to comprehend the story, but she seemed only interested when she was the one speaking; name dropping and laughing at mundane things.

“Please do not think me rude, but I just want to check with mum if Christopher went down for her okay.” Sophie placed her hand on Benedict’s arm to get his attention.

“Of course darling, tell her I say hello.” He smiled, watching as Sophie went to the maitre d’ to ask where she could make a phone call privately. “Sorry, it’s just after his bedtime.”

“Don’t apologise, that’s parenting, right? On July fourth, Reynolds and his wife spent half the day on the phone to the nanny.”

“Yeah, you think at a party they would just get over it for a few hours, I mean, I know they have a kid, but he was a total buzz kill. What are they going to be like with another one?”

“Hopefully responsible parents.” Ben smiled back, though it was in no way a friendly one.

“Remember when we did War Horse, and the Producer was minding his kid on set,” Tom asked.

“Jesus, yes, and we were all judgement, wondering why he wouldn’t give it to a nanny. I still don’t know if it was a boy or girl.”

“All I know was it was loud, it startled a horse.” Tom agreed, “But remember how you went on about nannies not being as bad as he thought.”

“I would not give Christopher to a nanny for all the money in the world now.” Ben acknowledged. “I mean I could if I had to, and there are a lot of damn good ones, but I would bring him to set if I could first.”

“If you could pry him from your mum.”

“She is out with me for not leaving him with her, but you know…”

“Sophie’s mum is in Scotland, she has to get her time with him too.” Tom agreed with a smile before his face turned solemn. “Can I ask what is it you are so worried about?” Benedict frowned at him. “Danielle?”

“I rather not talk about it.”

“She is just a leech, they are everywhere, I told you to get rid of her before.” Taylor dismissed, not looking up from her phone.

Benedict felt his lip curl in contempt, “I just mentioned a situation that occurred with Christopher in church at Sunday service, you know, as babies do, it’s boring, and how the priest had to be given a few extra pounds for the church’s restoration fund at the end of it as an apology, but you can imagine how that sounds in the media.”

Taylor seemed to have picked up interest in the story and nodded, as though she actually did understand, her hands on her phone under the table. Tom, however, eyed Benedict with great suspicion. “I better go to the ladies room, excuse me.” Taylor smiled sweetly. “Will you mind my phone darling?” she handed her cell to Tom and walked off.

“What are you doing?” Tom asked as soon as Taylor was out of earshot. “You don’t go to service, you gave out about your wedding being in a church.”

Benedict grinned. “I am showing you where your leak is.”

“What…” Tom paused and looked Benedict in the face. “You think the issue is Taylor?”

“Yes, I genuinely do, and now I have met her, I can honestly say, run Tom, run while you can. I believe every word Danielle said of their encounter, don’t you think the timing of your little leak is awfully convenient, Danielle tells her to go fuck herself and all of a sudden, Danielle is supposedly pouring your family secrets out for no fucking reason.”

“They never exchanged words with one another, so that is utter bull…” Tom paused when Taylor arrived back, smiling happily. “Everything alright love, you ready to go?”

Taylor seemed slightly startled by the change in atmosphere and looked between them. “Yes, this has been a very nice lunch.”

“Out of curiosity Taylor, can I ask your opinion on something, after all, you are somewhat alike to Danielle in age.” Taylor nodded. “What is your opinion of her from encountering her?”

“Rude, obsessive and willing to hurt anyone to get what she wants; that’s my impression from that less than pleasant talk.” She answered plainly.

“But you said you never spoke to her.” Tom frowned, looking at Taylor. “You said the only times you saw her were in my presence and you never spoke those times.”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you about when she cornered me outside your mum’s and was really horrible to me, saying all sorts of abusive things. I didn’t want to trouble you with it; it’s not fair to drag you into things.”

Tom was acutely aware of the fact they were in public, so remained silent, but to Benedict’s delight, there was clearly a fire in his eyes. “I better go get some rest, this jet lag is a bitch. Tom, please call me when that thing we were speaking about happens because I am dying for your reaction.” Ben smiled at his friend, “I’ll make sure to answer.” Sophie chose that exact moment to come back inside, looking somewhat baffled. “Darling?”

“As you expected.” She smiled back.

Benedict looked at Taylor as he spoke. “But of course.”

Chapter Text

“Yep, a legitimate little shit,” Danielle stated in a deadpan voice as she finished chewing.

Paul laughed, covering his mouth with his hand to not spit out some of the salad he was eating. “I am just glad I got enough sleep before he started today.”

“Yeah, yeah, quit bragging.” She tossed half a cherry tomato at him, causing him to laugh again. “You didn’t strike me as a salad man.”

“I’m actually big on fruit and veg, I am a doctor after all; you know, practise what I preach and all that.”

Danielle eyed him suspiciously. “Wait, are you a vegetarian?”

“If I was?” he asked.

“I would probably disgust you, I am a total ‘it’s not dinner unless there is the side of some dead animal on the plate with it’ sort of girl.”

“Good Irish upbringing then I take it.” He smiled back.

“The best.”

“No, I’m not, but I am not a huge fan, fish is what I’d eat mostly.”

“Why imply you were?”

“To see your reaction.”

“It’s a diet choice, what sort of reaction were you expecting?” She laughed. “It’s not like you sacrifice goats to a pagan god.”

“Only at Easter.” She had barely stopped laughing when he set her into another fit. “I don’t want to ruin your good mood, but are you okay, with everything with Diana’s son that is?”

Danielle cleared her throat awkwardly, picking up her fork and playing with another half tomato. “It’s none of my business.”

“But you are being dragged into it, aren’t you?” Danielle gave a small nod, not looking up from the plate. “What is the story there, did you go out with him before or something?”

Danielle scoffed. “No, nothing like that. Honestly Paul, I only know him through his mum, I collected him from the airport once when she couldn’t make it, we talked, we got along well, and since it was an awkward journey for Diana, I offered to do it when he was coming to Suffolk. I’m not even very close to him, he is rarely around, I just find him nice to talk to on the rare occasion I see him, I get on best with Emma, and Sarah I’ve only ever seen a few times.”

“They are his sisters?” she nodded. “So why is all the focus on you?”

“I think it’s to do with I was talking to Diana about everything and he overheard us, so he got mad, and then ranted to his girlfriend about it and I have no idea how the hell it escalated from there.”

“And now you are being accused of selling their family secrets?” she nodded again. “That’s pretty rough.”

“I have no idea how this came about, and I can only imagine that whatever little chance there was of myself and Tom ever talking amiably again, is well and truly decimated, which will put a strain on Diana and Emma, which is completely not fair.”

“And that is why you are ignoring Diana?”

“I’m no ignoring her; I am just trying to make things easier for her. If she doesn’t have people arguing, it makes her life easier.”

“That’s selfless of you. She told me you talk to her about your parents a lot.”

“You spend an awful lot of time talking about me.”

“Contrary to your belief Danielle, people actually care about you, and think you a very worthy topic of conversation.” He smiled. “We are worried about how all of this is affecting you; that’s what people do when they care about someone” Danielle blushed at his words. “I know we’re only getting to know each other personally Danni, but…” The neighbour’s dog began barking hysterically. “That fucking cat.”

“It’s a dog.”

Paul laughed. “No, he sees the apartment over the way’s cat. It sit’s there taunting him all day.”

“Should we get Mac to say hello?”

“I think that’s a great idea.” Paul smiled, walking over to the door. Mac Tíre, who had been reasonably comfortable in his unfamiliar surrounds until the other dog started barking, rose to his feet and went to the patio door. As soon as Paul opened it, he rushed out, giving a deep bark, which was followed by pathetic whimpers, and trotted back inside proudly.

“That’ll teach the little bollix.” Danielle laughed, having gotten out of her chair and stood next to Paul to see what Mac Tíre would do. She looked up at Paul next to her, realising for the first time that there was over six inches difference in their height. When his gaze met hers, she blushed slightly. “I…”

Paul gently placed his hand on her cheek and leant down, his face only centimetres from hers as he studied her eyes, noticing there was no attempt to step back from him, he pressed his lips against hers, relieved when Danielle pressed hers forward into his.

*

“Are you seriously accusing me of selling that story?” Taylor had tears in her eyes as she spoke. “I was at the table with you; I left my phone with you the only time I left you after that story was said. It had to be that bitch.”

“You said you never spoke to her, and then admit to Ben you did.” Tom retorted. “Don’t you see what they did Taylor, they tricked you. They never told that story to Danielle; they planted it for you to show what you were doing.”

“His wife was gone long enough with her phone, she rang it in.”

“Ben screen shot me a picture of her screen. She was gone about ten minutes from the table, the phone number on the phone was a British number, the prefix was one for Scotland and the call lasted ten minutes forty-two seconds.” Tom argued. “She was talking to her mum.” Tom looked at her, somewhat defeated. “Benedict is a Buddhist, a practising Buddhist, and Sophie does not go to church, and should she ever elect to, Benedict would not think it a suitable place to bring Christopher so young.”

“And you know this as fact do you?”

“Yes, because I was a groomsman at his wedding, so I know his view on church ceremonies, and I was talking to him when they were getting Christopher baptised, both of which he only did to placate their parents.” Tom looked her in the eye as he spoke. “Why have you been lying?”

“I have not, you are just pissed that your friend…”

“Stop dragging Danielle into this, Danielle could not care less about us.”

“She is in love with you.”

“Well if she is, then she is Oscar-worthy in her ability to not show it, because she has a boyfriend, and going by the fact I got a picture sent to me by my sister showing Elle and the doctor walking by the sea with her dog holding hands, she seems to be completely happy with him according to Emma.”

“They did that in front of her to get her to tell you so you would be…”

“Are you listening to yourself?” Tom scoffed. “My sister wasn’t there with them; she was walking along with her own husband and noticed them from afar. You have had it in for Danielle for some reason since the beginning.”

“She is not really your friend, she has been bitching you to your mum.”

“You know, I actually remember the first time I heard them discuss you, she actually defended you, saying you were pretty and at least you had your own money, all you have ever done is belittle her.”

“She said I could not sing for shit and that I was a moaning... well I cannot repeat the word.”

“Yes well, perhaps there’s some truth in that.” Tom hissed angrily. Taylor gasped in horror at his words. “I think we need to call a time-out on this for a while, I need space and you need to grow up.” Tom grabbed his jacket and went to leave. “You know, I actually heard you on the phone to one of your friends, swearing you would get Danielle to pay, I should have realised then it was you. I made an absolute tit of myself to my friends and family, and for what? A girl who is still acting as though she is in school.” He walked out the door leaving an irate Taylor behind him.

*

Tom Hiddleston ‘Girl Next Door’ ex-lover threatens Taylor Swift?

Sources close to the singer revealed she turned up at a squad member’s home at close to midnight on Thursday night after a close friend of the Hiddleston family sent an email to the singer stating she and the actor had had an affair before the actor was dating the “Bad Blood” songstress, but that the actor dumped her for Ms. Swift, and she swore she would get him back.

The neighbour girl, thought to be living next to his mother Diana Hiddleston in Suffolk, is also the reported source behind the photographs and stories leaked about Hollywood’s most fangirled gentleman. The girl also claimed that Mr. Hiddleston forced her to get an abortion because he never wanted children, a claim Ms. Swift knew to be false because of Tom’s great affection for children, and of course, he has said in many interviews he cannot wait to show his own children the Jungle Book film some day, hardly the words of a man never intending to have children; Tom Hiddleston is also a self-confessed feminist, which helps Ms. Swift know he would never force someone to do such a thing against their will.

The email also implied that if Ms. Swift was not to end things with the Thor and Night Manager star, there would be consequences. The woman is apparently involved in the emergency services, a troubling thought for those in need of assistance in the Suffolk region of Britain.

Tom stared at the article in front of him. He could hardly process it. Danielle could easily lose her job if her superiors figured out that it was supposedly her bring referenced in the article. Tom could not believe what he was reading, Taylor had not only attacked Danielle; she had put everything she had ever worked for at risk. Livid, he pulled out his phone and found Taylor’s number, pressing the call button before he even thought of what he was going to say.

“Calmed down from your tantrum yet?” There was no denying there was a smile on Taylor's face as she answered the phone.

Tom wanted to inform her it was her that had had a tantrum. “What have you done?”

“What are you talking about, I did nothing.” The singer replied sweetly.

“Is this all a sick little game to you, this is a person’s livelihood you are messing with, her job.”

“Boo-hoo, she should not go interfering in other people’s lives if she does not want them to interfere with hers.”

“You have to have that article removed.”

“I have to do nothing; though I’ll make a deal with you, I need to go to the New York fashion show, Gigi will be there with Zayn, so I cannot look utterly pathetic and be alone, so you come with me, smile and look pretty for the camera’s, and when I am asked about that little email, I will laugh and rubbish it off as all lies, I might even say something nice about her, deal?”

“I thought you did not do fancy events with partners?”

“I do not do award shows with them, there’s a difference.” She corrected. “So, will we leave this little spat behind us? I promise I will not reference the lovely Danielle again.”

Tom swallowed, after all, the trouble that he had caused for Danielle, it was the least he could do. “When is the show?”

“I’ll send the plane for you.” She sang back.

Chapter Text

The article made Danielle sick to her stomach, she could not believe what that manipulative little harpy had stated. She could not bring herself to even go home, and had, for three days, stayed at Paul’s apartment. As a result, their relationship had progressed a slight bit faster than she would have elected for otherwise, but it felt better to have someone comfort her and try and show her affection than to be alone. The words repeated over and over in her head throughout the morning as she attempted to sleep, with Paul’s arm around her as she lay staring at the far wall.

“I can hear you thinking you know.” His voice was heavy with sleep.

“I…”

He pulled her in against him. “It’s all lies Danni, you know that, and I know that, nothing else matters.”

“My job…”

“The only ones who realise it is you being talked about know that it’s bullshit, so come here.” He turned her so she was lying with her head on his chest, her fingers sliding over the t-shirt he had put on getting into the bed. “Just get some rest.”

“It’s not that easy.” She whispered, but she gripped him tightly.

“I know sweetheart, I know.” He kissed her forehead and played with a few strands of her hair that had fallen out of the ponytail she had thrown it in.

Desperate to forget everything, she leant up and kissed him, trying to initiate his interest; when he responded, she seized her opportunity and put her hand down to toy with the hem of his boxers, grateful that for a few minutes at least, she would forget her woes.

Paul was called to work a few hours later; leaving Danielle with four hours alone in his home before she had to go to work. She was walking Mac Tíre outside to allow the dog relieve himself, cursing the text she received from the other paramedic she was going to be working with that evening, asking her to return the book she had borrowed on terrorist attack procedure, which unfortunately was at her home. She knew she would have to bring it with her, meaning she had to risk seeing Diana, something she had been avoiding, so after she grabbed her things from Paul’s, she packed Mac Tíre into her car and headed back to her home. She groaned when she saw not only Diana’s car, but Emma’s one also in the neighbouring driveway, she contemplated driving on and telling Graham that she forgot it, but the youngest Hiddleston had been getting something from her car, noticed Danielle and purposely stood in the road outside her mothers’ driveway, forcing Danielle to a halt.

“Are you out to kill yourself?”

“You weren’t going fast enough to kill me, and let’s face it, you are the person to call in such emergencies anyway.” Emma joked, but her face was solemn. “You haven’t been home in days.”

“I’ve been busy.”

“Yeah, I know. I saw you and your boyfriend the other day, all kisses and holding hands on the beach.” She smiled, “When are the four of us going out for a meal?”

“What?”

“Oh come on Elle, mum’s met him and she adores him, and you look so cute together, and you have been staying at his place for days, so that tells me you are sleeping together, which with you never having a boyfriend in all the time you were here means it’s serious. I want to meet him.”

“Emma, with…”

“Yeah, I saw.” There was a disgusted look on her face. “Tom rang, apparently he has some sort of ‘explanation’ but mum didn’t even listen, she went off on an absolute rant about it to him, about all your hard work, everything you sacrificed, how you were never anything but nice to him, and he allowed you to be dragged through the dirt like this, seriously, I was getting second-hand fear from her.”

“She didn’t need to do that.”

“Well, she feels like it is some bit her fault,” Emma stated sadly.

“How the fuck is any of what that cow does your mum’s fault?” Danielle snapped.

“She allowed her into the house, it’s her son she is dating.” Emma began to list.

“This isn’t her fault, it never was her fault.” Danielle shook her head.

“Well, only one person can tell her that in a way she’ll listen.” Emma smiled, opening the car door.

“My car is in the middle of the road,” Danielle argued.

“Elle, please, she feels so bad,” Emma begged.

Unable to think of Diana being upset because of her, Danielle nodded slightly, causing Emma to close the car door and for Danielle to reverse into her driveway. Emma had the gate to the back garden open, so Mac Tíre trotted in happily as you got out. “I really should get some clothes sorted.”

Emma grinned widely. “Really?”

“I did not sleep with him.”

“So what, you played monopoly all day?”

“Well, we did stuff, just not everything.” She blushed, causing Emma to snigger. “You are such a child.”

“I am not the one getting all bothered about doing things with her boyfriend.” Emma retorted, linking her arm with Danielle’s. “So, when am I meeting him?”

“I’m not sure I want you to.”

“Spoil sport, I won’t be too embarrassing, I swear; I mean, I would never tell him about the time we got drunk and you started singing Mariah Carey, and of course I would never show him the video I took of it, that I still have.”

“I hate you.” Emma erupted in laughter at those words as they got to Diana’s front door.

“Emma?” Danielle froze when she saw Diana standing in the hallway in front of her. When the older woman saw her, her face became a mixture of delight and shame all at once. “Elle.”

“Hi.”

“I…I’m so sorry.” She had tears in her eyes.

Danielle did not even stop to think; she rushed over and embraced her. “It’s not your fault. I am sorry this is even happening, I should never have pissed her off.”

“Has Tom tried speaking to you?”

“Not since the day of the car accident.”

“I could not bare to even speak with him, he began by saying not to judge after the article came out, can you believe that?”

“I don’t…I can’t talk about it.” Danielle stated.

“Of course, I understand.” Diana nodded solemnly. A moment later, her face became one of interest. “Why do you smell of men’s shower gel?”

“Because someone has been staying with a handsome doctor the passed few days.” Emma sang from behind her, going into the kitchen to put on the kettle.

Diana’s eyes lit up at that information. “Really?”

“Oh God, not you too.”

“Well, as a surrogate for your mother, I have to say, I approve.”

“Of course you do, it was you that thought to try and set us up, to begin with,” Danielle stated.

“So, is he nice…”

“Mum, if you are asking Elle what he is like in bed, I swear to God, I will drop dead here and now of mortification!” Emma shouted from the kitchen. “Besides, I already asked, sort of.”

“I need to get new people to talk to, Brit’s are mental.” Danielle shook her head as she walked passed Diana and into the kitchen.

*

Automated voice - You have fourteen new messages. This message was left on the eighth of September at 4:30 am.

“Elle, its Tom, I…fuck I need you to call me back, as soon as you get in. Please.”

This message was left on the eighth of September at 6:30am.

“Elle, its Tom again, I never even thought, you might not even be working these few nights, but anyway, please, ring me when you get this.”

This message was left on the eighth of September at 9:05 am.

“Elle, I know you are finished work or awake if you didn’t have work last night, please ring me.”

 

This message was left on the eighth of September at 2:30 pm.

“Please Elle, look I know you are probably pissed about that piece, I am…I am trying to have it dealt with.”

 

This message was left on the eighth of September at…

The messages went on and on, all fourteen had been from Tom, and after a while, his tone became shorter, until the final one, left that morning. “I am just trying to make this right.” He had snapped on it. But the article came to her mind once more. She thought for a second that he had seen through that bitch, but when she Googled his name, she regretted it immediately, the first result was an article, from that day’s Daily Mail, declaring the pair to be the hottest thing in New York for that evening's fashion show.

Annoyed, Danielle decided to erase all the messages and went to get ready for work.

*

Tom looked at his phone, three missed calls but none from Danielle while he had been out for lunch with Taylor, having gone over everything with her over what they would say to the reporters that evening, making sure it was crystal clear that nothing ever happened between him and Danielle, and that the ‘source’ the magazine had was false.

“Ready?” he turned to see Taylor standing behind him, looking beautiful in a pair of shorts and high boots. He knew now that behind that beauty, there was a coldness that could rival that of a boardroom CEO that would fire every last subordinate, just because he could.

“Yes.” He gave as good a smile as he muster.

“After this, she’ll be cleared so try to make that smile more believable.”

“She never did anything to be cleared of, she is not on trial, she did nothing.” He stated.

“Whatever, she will have her sad pathetic life back, and we will get on with ours.” She smiled.

Tom frowned, the way Taylor was speaking, she seemed to think they were still in a good place in their relationship. “I just need to talk to Luke for a moment.”

“Chop chop.” She ordered.

Tom bared his teeth after she left the room, scrolling to Luke’s name and pressing the call button. “It’s nearly midnight, this better be good Tom.”

“Hey.”

“Hello,” Luke replied curtly, “Now what is it?”

“Luke…just don’t start.”

“Look, we spent years making you the nicest guy in Hollywood, remember that. No having public flings, no acting the fool, no drunken incidences and you are now the laughing stock of the free world, so after everything I sacrificed to make sure you got ahead, I really am not interested. Whatever it is, ask ‘PR Barbie’s’ people to deal with it.”

“I am going to a fashion show with her.”

“Because of course, you love those things,” Luke replied sarcastically.

“It’s all done as soon as the show finishes.”

There was silence on the line for a moment. “Why not before?”

“I have her agreeing to rubbish what was published about Danielle.”

“And she will willingly do that? I don’t buy it, Tom.”

“What else can I do, Danielle…?”

“There is no need to tell me about Ms Hughes, I have spent the passed week of my life trying to stop leeches getting anything on her, including photo’s.”

“I never thought to ask…”

“No, you didn’t; your mum did, though. Not that she had to. I was already on it.” The publicist snapped.

“Luke, I fucked up.”

“Thank you for stating that, I was not aware before now.”

Tom sighed at his friends’ sarcasm. “You were right.”

“Yet another obvious statement of fact.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah well, next time a narcissistic bitch who writes countless songs on his legion of ex’s sniffs around, will you listen to me?”

Tom could not help the smile on his face. “I think I can do that.”

“Good, now what are you doing about this statement?”

*

“Mr Hiddleston, please, Mr Hiddleston, this way please.” Tom turned obediently to face the photographers, their lights blinding him as he did. “Mr Hiddleston, have you anything to say about the claims being made that you forced your ex-girlfriend to get an abortion?”

Even hearing those words made Tom’s jaw clench. “Yes, actually, I do. I have not now, nor have I ever made such a request to any woman much less the woman in question. She has never been anything but a close family friend, and she is one of the most honourable women I have ever had the good fortune to befriend. These claims are wholly untrue and have been terribly hurtful to her, for which I can never apologise to her enough. Whoever put about that story is lying and is doing so to hurt a hard working and good woman.” He stated clearly.

“Taylor,” the same reporter looked to the blonde songstress, “the article stated it was a source close to you that leaked this story, and that you received the email, what have you to say?”

Tom had to force himself to remain calm at the manner in which the reporter had dismissed what he had just said, but he looked to Taylor to see if she would do as she had promised.

Taylor gave a small laugh. “Well, its rubbish of course, I mean, how would this person have even get my email address? My squad and I don’t need to talk about people we don’t know; our lives are interesting enough to occupy us. People just like profiting off my name, it’s something I have had to get used to sadly.” She gave a sad puppy face at that, trying to sway the journalist to see her as as much a victim in the situation as Danielle. Tom had to give her credit, Taylor knew how to play reporters and public image, and that worried him.

Chapter Text

“Hello?” Tom was about to speak until he heard the man’s voice on the other side of the line. “Hello?”

“Is this Elle’s phone?”

“Yes, she’s just in the shower at the moment. Is it important, I can get her if it is?” The man offered.

“No, it’s not important, well it can wait.”

“I see.” The other man did not sound overly convinced. “Will I tell her who called?”

“Please.”

“Right, so perhaps a name would be a place to start.” The man chuckled.

“Is my number not in her phone anymore?”

“It’s Tom, Diana’s son?” the voice seemed to realise then who he was.

“Yes, it is.”

“With all due respect Mr. Hiddleston, Danni needs time, she is grateful for your statement, but you know, she’s a lot more vulnerable than she admits to being. What you exposed her to, it has caused her to be very upset, the kind that is not instantly fixed.”

“I know, I just want to make it better.”

“Then perhaps wait for her to contact you. I will tell her you called, but please do not do so again without her permission, if she wants to talk to you, can she call this number?”

“Yes.” Tom’s voice became and defeated . “Yes, she can.”

“I promise, I’ll tell her when she comes out.”

“You’re the doctor.”

“Paul, my name is Paul.” Paul corrected.

“I…I’m sorry for my rudeness the last time we met, for interrupting your day.”

“Somehow I do not think it was your intention to do so.” There seemed to be understanding in the other man's tone. “One moment.”

“Who are you talking to?” Tom heard as a hand went over the mouthpiece, having just heard a female voice muffled in the background, he recognised it as Elle’s, followed by a response and a small noise that could be accused of being a door closing.

“Sorry, I told her it was you, but she just walked away again.” Paul apologised. “When she is ready, I’m sure she’ll want to talk again.”

“Thank you.”

“No problem, and thank you for trying to fix things.”

“It took me long enough.”

“As the saying goes, better late than never,” Paul commented. “Goodbye, Mr. Hiddleston.”

When Tom hung up the phone, he sighed. He wanted to apologise to Danielle, she had said that when he had righted things when he was the Tom she knew, she would talk with him again, but she had actively left the room when she knew it was him on the phone. He felt somewhat angry at her for that.

“So no instant fawning at your feet then? She’ll bide her time, make it seem real.” He turned to see Taylor taking her boots off behind him.

“I don’t want to hear it. She is with someone, he seems to know her enough to be in the adjoining room to where she is showering, so clearly they are serious, so whatever bullshit you keep trying to fill my head with can stop.”

Taylor studied him for a moment. “Wow,” she laughed. “You are so pathetic.”

“We’re done Taylor, I’m done.”

The smile fell from her face. “What?”

“This relationship is over, I am going home, to London, to my family and friends and I am going to pretend the last few months of humiliation and ridicule never happened and get on with my life.” He stated plainly.

“So you,” she pointed to him “are breaking up with me?” she pointed to herself; Tom nodded. “I did what you asked.”

“Because you lied about my friend.”

She looked at him and erupted in laughter causing Tom to frown. “Fine, shoo, off with you so.” She made an ushering motion with her hand. “I can have any guy I want, why would I want you and your receding hairline anyway?” That caused Tom to flinch slightly. His hairline was something he had tried to not let bother him, but as fans compared set pictures from the four Marvel films, Tom was forced to acknowledge the timeline of his hairline's receding. “The most pathetic thing about this is that she has someone else now, so you end up with no one.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I was wrong before,” Taylor admitted. “I thought the attraction was one way, but clearly, it’s not. I really should be more insulted, but when I think about it, she is short, plain and in serious need of a personal trainer, I am none of those things, and I never am going to be, so if that is what gets you hard, then clearly it is not my fault.” She shrugged.

“I…”

“Oh please, you are so blind.” She scoffed. “Did talking to her boyfriend, knowing she is probably only showering because they were at it get you annoyed? I mean, he could still have been sitting on the bed, naked after screwing her when he picked up her phone, telling you to get stuffed when he was stuffing her a few minutes before.”

Tom swallowed hard, the idea causing him to feel nauseous, had he not noticed before, when his mother mentioned Paul, and after seeing him in his mother’s house, he had become shorter tempered. Had Taylor actually figured out why? “You need to get yourself together Taylor and grow up.”

“You mean turn old before my time like you Tommy?” she gave him a disgusted look as she eyed him up and down. “No thanks.”

Grabbing his wallet, phone, and his bag, he walked out of the room, turning to look at Taylor one last time as he did. “I really did not think you were the person the tabloids wrote about.”

“I really thought you had a decent sized dick from your photo’s, guess we were both sorely disappointed.” She dismissed. “Don’t bother coming back to me when she doesn’t leave Doctor Low Standards for you straight away, even she seems to be grateful to not have to deal with you, he’s better looking, and he may actually still have hair in ten years; and I never take an ex back.” She started to play on her phone.

Even though it was Tom’s hotel suite, he checked out immediately, before getting into the nearest cab and requesting JFK airport. He rather a night waiting in a departure lounge than staying around Taylor any longer. Her words circled his mind a few times as he sat in the VIP section of the departure area, having paid extortionately to get back to London, via Berlin just to get in the air quicker. In truth, he realised the reason she never was seen again with her ex’s, was probably because they were usually avoiding her, grateful to get away. There was one thing that concerned him, however, her PR spin, she would use the whole debacle to spin her again as a victim, he was sure of it. Taking out his phone, he scrolled to Luke’s number immediately.

“Well, you did it, but she still made it about her, she’s good,” Luke commented, the sounds around him telling Tom he was in public.

“I ended it.”

“Thank you, Jesus.” Luke declared loudly.

“You’re not holy.”

“I might be after this. So, what was the reception?”

“Scoffing, not to mention a couple of dick and hairline blows.”

“Nice classy lady then.”

“Luke, why did I do it?” Tom rubbed his face in his hands.

“I think it had something to do with dicks and blowing as you just stated.”

“Really, jokes?”

“I can’t say, I never saw her as anything but a Siren, beautiful, but all she wants is your doom. Her next album will be interesting; ‘Why British Men Are All Pigs’ or something to that effect.”

“You don’t think she will write about this?”

Luke scoffed. “Tom, she writes about everyone that has even been accused of sticking their dicks in her, it is all she does. Find a victim, fuck him a few times, get her ass kicked to the nearest proverbial curb, and bitch about it for five songs straight. Except with you, she will have hideous humiliating pictures to boot.”

“Jesus.”

“Well I have Cathy, Tia, and Jonathon all keeping an eye on all online media sources, social media included, we are also going to have to run an explanation ourselves.”

“Nothing cruel.”

“Are you actually joking?”

“Nothing on her level.”

“Tom, I would need to get onto the planning authority and hire a fracking company to get to her level,” Luke argued. “She will run you through the dirt, you are aware of that.”

“We are not her, Luke.”

“And that is why she is worth a quarter billion, and you have, well, less than she pays in tax a year.”

“But every penny I earned with hard work.”

“I dunno, it seems to be an awful lot of work to piss off the amount of people she does, her level of dedication to her actions is commendable,” Luke commented.

“Luke?”

“I have something done, effectively you are not willing to let any too close, the exposure was too much and that you are not ready to dedicate as much time as a woman deserves to a relationship yet, meaning you want to wait until you are to get serious.” Luke rattled off.

“Makes me sound distant.”

“It does, in a way, but caring also, not wanting to tag someone along, no false promises,” Luke explained.

“And Danielle?”

“What about her, you did everything you could, and trust me, that is the closest you are going to get out of Swift.”

“Will she go for her again now?”

“Why should she?”

“She thinks I have a thing for Elle.”

“Oh well, this is going to get interesting.” Luke barked sarcastically. “I am going to go grey from you, Tom, I really am.”

Chapter Text

Tom Hiddleston 'grew tired of Taylor Swift' after 'three-month rule'

 

It's over: Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston 'split'

 

Taylor Swift, Tom Hiddleston Split: ‘Thor’ Actor Looking for New Relationship? ‘Bad Blood’ Singer Writes New Album?

 

Farewell, Hiddleswift: Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston Call It Quits

 

Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston Break Up

 

Taylor Swift Is Reportedly 'Uncomfortable' With Tom Hiddleston's Desire To Make Their Relationship So Public

 

*

 

“I’m so sorry I’m late.” Paul sat at the table next to Danielle, kissing her cheek as he joined her, Emma and her husband.

 

“You arrived, that is all that matters.” Emma smiled, looking at Paul in an assessing manner as he sat. “I’m Emma by the way.” She declared, holding her hand out to him.

 

“Paul Pennycooke.” He smiled, extending his own. Her husband Jack did similar when introducing himself. “So you guys know Danni a while so?”

 

Emma’s brow rose at Paul’s nickname for her friend. “Yes, I met Elle the weekend she moved in, I was the one to actually go over and say hello, then I forced Tom to help her move stuff our of the van.” she smiled.

 

“Can you call it helping? He was sweating like a pig after three boxes.” Danielle scoffed playfully.

 

“Well bless him; he is not the strongest guy.” Emma agreed. “We were both home that weekend, and well you met mum, she insisted on bringing Elle for a cup of tea, then from there she extracted poor Elle’s back story and has effectively adopted her.”

 

“Feels more like a kidnapping most days.” Danielle laughed, chucking some bread at Emma.

 

“Do you ever stop throwing food?” Paul laughed, looking at her. Her response was grabbing another tiny piece at him. “That is a no then.”

 

“You get used to her Paul.” Emma smiled fondly. “She did it at my wedding.”

 

“You joked about my boobs, in your bridal speech.”

 

“I just said I got self-conscious when we were checking bridesmaid dresses because everything you tried made you look big.”

 

“You did not say ‘big’, the words you used were ‘like Dolly Parton’. They aren’t even big.” Everyone at the table with exception of the Irish woman burst out laughing. “See, which is why I threw food at her, and again, it was a bit of bread, nothing deadly.”

 

“It was stuck inside my dress for hours; it actually came out when I finally got out of it that night.”

 

“See, I was a great bridesmaid, I made sure you had a snack for bed.” She grinned smugly.

 

“Why are we friends?”

 

“I ask myself that some days.” Danielle joked; Emma stuck her tongue out at her, which Elle mirrored.

 

“So you decided to call Elle, Danni? Any reason for that?” Emma asked curiously when she decided to act like an adult once more.

 

Paul looked at Danielle for a moment. “Well, no one knows her as Elle outside of your family, I called her Danni at work, and when I heard her being called Elle by your mum, and I thought it would be intruding if I were to starting calling her that too.”

 

“I don’t look like an Elle.”

 

“I refute that.” Paul dismissed, “You sound like all of those names.”

 

“They do suit you actually.” Emma agreed, Jack nodded in agreement as his mouth was full.

 

“Well, I disagree.”

 

“Only to be awkward.” Jack teased, long used to Elle being around his wife and her family.

 

Danielle took her napkin off of her lap. “That’s it, I have had my fill of posh people for today, I’m off to slum it by the sea front with the homeless people.”

 

“We are not posh,” Emma argued.

 

Danielle stared at her sceptically for a moment. “You mean are not ‘up your own ass’ posh, but you my dear friend, are posh.”

 

“Well, it’s better than the other ‘p’ word that gets thrown around.” She shrugged. “By the way, did you actually call Tom that when he went off at you?” Emma asked her friend, somewhat scared of the answer she would receive.

 

“First of all, he came up and was rude to me just after that terrible car crash with that woman and her kids, so I was feeling really tired and shit, before we go any further, but I did say to him that I did not have the time or the energy, I can’t remember which exactly, for his ‘first world, private educated, rich, privileged white boy problems’ or something to that effect.” Danielle defended.

 

“All things considered, I think that was alright.” Paul immediately sided with her. “I read about that crash and Kevin, a college friend of mine was the assistant pathologist for that, he wasn’t right for a week after.”

 

“And at the top of the list of jobs I would never wish to have, we have a new one.” Emma shuddered. “It was mean and very classist of you Elle, but you had justification.” She conceded.

 

“If it is any consolation, I was just trying to piss him off; you know I don’t give a rat’s ass what education you guys have.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I did almost identical to you all with my regular commoner one anyway.” She joked.

 

“You have more subjects too.” Emma agreed before she looked at her friend seriously again. “Have you heard from Tom?”

 

“You mean since every last magazine and gossip rag paper put his face on the front page last week, no, I haven’t. I mean, he called the day after the statement at whatever fashion show he was at, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk so Paul spoke to him.”

 

“Yeah, well, it finally happened, it only took three months of praying.”

 

“You prayed?”

 

“You met her; if I thought sacrificing a goat would have worked, I would have been scouring the countryside, trust me,” Emma stated. Danielle laughed and went to drink some of her water. “You know there is one magazine that stated online he was emotionally and verbally abusive.” There were tears in Emma’s eyes when she said that.

 

Danielle’s eyes went wide and she spilled her water on herself. “WHAT?” she squeaked loudly.

 

“Yes, they said, my brother verbally abused her, that he was controlling and ridiculing.”

 

“Tom? Tom, Tom? Your brother Tom? What did he do, ask her to put the milk into the tea before the hot water? He’s been an ass, but not abusive. I see abusive relationships every second night of the week at work, it is bread and butter basic for me to have to recognise, and Tom is not that. I mean, I spat those words I said a minute ago to him and his response was only that I was jealous; if he was abusive, I dare say I would have gotten a hell of a lot more than that.” Elle dismissed.

 

“You see, even you can say that after everything.” Emma argued.

 

“What did Diana say?”

 

“You think we told her? Luke had it pulled down within twenty-four hours, promising the lawsuit to end all lawsuits if they didn’t.”

 

“So it never happened, we don’t mention it past now,” Danielle stated clearly.

 

“Agreed.” Jack concurred. “Your mum doesn’t need that.”

 

“Definitely, it would kill her; and Tom doesn’t need that, I mean, she damaged his career enough, that could have put the final nail in the coffin, he can come back from a PR disaster relationship, but abuse; that is mud that sticks,” Danielle commented.

 

“Even after everything you still care.” Emma smiled.

 

“Of course, he’s an ass as I stated already, but he’s not that kind.”

 

*

 

“I…” Tom paced frantically.

 

“We knew something like this would happen.” Luke stay sitting at his desk, watching Tom, getting increasingly dizzy as he did so. “Just sit down.”

 

“Can we trace it back to her?”

 

“Of course not; she has the best PR and legal teams I have ever had the misfortune to be against.” Luke sighed. “Look, it’s retracted, we have our spin, she has hers, people are taking it as well as they can, deciding for themselves, there is no more we can do.”

 

“I should have gone for a low blow.” Tom groaned.

 

“She would have used that to her advantage.” Luke begrudgingly admitted. “I’m glad you sought to not do that.”

 

“There’s a clip of her in a studio, singing a few lines, whiney break-up ones.”

 

“I’m aware Tom; I keep a close eye on these things, even when you forgot to ask me to. That’s why you hired me. We knew this would happen, the songs are nigh on as certain as tax and death.”

 

“I’ve been a shit friend, thank you, Luke.”

 

“We’ve been together since you started Tom, I have your back.” Luke smiled.

 

“Even when I’m an egotistical ass?” Tom asked.

 

“I work with actors, by default you are all egotistical asses.” Luke scoffed. “Have you spoken to your family about the claims?”

 

“Emma found the article, she contacted me and Sarah about it, mum doesn’t know, and we want to keep it that way,” Tom explained.

 

“Good idea.” Luke nodded. “And anything from Ms. Hughes?”

 

“No, I tried talking to her, but her boyfriend said she didn’t want to speak with me.” Tom’s tone was downtrodden.

 

“Her boyfriend?”

 

“Yeah, she’s seeing some doctor from work, according to mum he is brilliant and everything Elle needs.”

 

Luke eyed Tom carefully, noting his demeanour. “Right, well, she seems to not be the focus of anything so far, but the album may be where we will find her, I cannot believe I may be forced to buy that, you don’t pay me enough. I mean I rather a sex tape scandal to this.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Please don’t tell me she has that on you?” Luke asked fearfully.

 

“Thankfully not.”

 

“Don’t scare me like that Tom; I can only take so much. You’re going to give me heart failure.” Tom chuckled. “I’ll deal with anything that comes up and keep you posted.”

 

“Thank you Luke, and I am so sorry for everything.”

 

“Yeah, well, when you get that Oscar, or Emmy, or whatever award, my name has to be front and centre after this.”

 

“Before mum even.”

 

“After your mum, I think she would castrate me if I tried to take credit for you.” Tom laughed and hugged his friend goodbye. “I’m glad your back Tom.” Luke smiled at him.

 

“I am glad to be back,” Tom admitted. “I just hadn’t it in me to continue.”

 

“You’re an English boy, you have what it takes to make it in Hollywood, but not the mindset to live there; behind it all, you are still a London boy, and that’s cool. I mean Fassbender, Cumberbatch, you, Redmayne, you are all over here from choice, and that’s a good thing.”

 

“How are you wiser than me and younger?”

 

“It’s a deadly combination, but you forgot better looking too.” Luke joked.

 

“I will see you soon.” Tom laughed as he left the office. When he got to his car he realised he had missed a call from Emma when he was talking to Luke, so pressing the call back option, he sat and waited, toying with the keys before placing them in the ignition, but not turning the car on.

 

“Hey, big brother.” Emma sang cheerfully down the phone.

 

“Really? Too much wine at dinner.”

 

“It was a special occasion, and it was only two glasses, well maybe three.” She countered.

 

“And what special occasion is this then?” Tom smiled before getting serious. “You’re not driving are you?”

 

“No, Elle is designated driver, and I got to meet Paul, we had a double dinner date, her and Paul, me and Jack. God, Tom, he’s really nice; Elle is after getting herself someone lovely. Wait til you meet him, I think you two will get on great.” She rambled.

 

The smile Tom had on his face at the thought of Elle and Emma having dinner fell as soon as Emma mentioned Paul, then he felt his throat tighten as she gushed about him. “I…That’s nice.” He forced out.

 

“Let me know when you’re home next, I am going to be there, I promise.” She swore. “I missed you for ages.”

 

“Well, I was home a couple of times recently,” Tom argued.

 

“Yeah, but either she was there, or there was a threat of her being there.” Emma countered.

 

“She’s a person, not a terrorist threat,” Tom stated in a deadpan tone.

 

“She’s a terrorist, did you see the shit she wrote about you. I mean, Elle poured water on herself in shock at what was written, she was sickened.”

 

“But she won’t talk to me.”

 

“Yeah well, Elle is not the 'forgive and forget' easily type, you know that. but she will Tom, I could see it on her face, she misses you, she’ll want to talk soon.”

 

“Even with a boyfriend?”

 

“Why would Paul matter? He was siding with you, telling her to talk to you.”

 

Tom’s gut clenched more at that. “He does seem like a nice guy.”

 

“He is; he’s the best.” Emma beamed. “Anyway, I better have a tea or two and get myself out of tipsy land; I don’t want to wake up at four in the morning dying of a headache. Bye big brother.”

 

“Bye Emma.” Tom hung up the phone and stared at it for a few moments. He frowned at how the mention of Paul with Elle had caused him to feel odd but put it down to his now single status once more.

Chapter Text

Hey Elle,

 

I know you don’t really want to talk to me at present, and I know your boyfriend told me to give you some space, but I was passing that bike shop I told you about, you know the really good one just down from my place, and they have a huge stock clearance sale going on, something to do with new models (I just nodded, you know better than I do) but I went in and asked them what the deal was and they said they have loads of triathlon, trail, and road bikes, all the best brands for half price because they are last years colours (is that seriously a thing for bikes, I mean, they’re bikes!) and you were saying at Christmas you wished you could ask ‘Santa’ for a Madone??? Well I mentioned that to the guys there, and they said they have a middle of the range one for £1,500 in your size (I told them you were a short arse) which is apparently the bargain of the year, and they will hold it for me until Thursday, so if you want it, you can tell Emma and she will let me know, or whatever, I just know you wanted one.

 

Sorry for rambling, that could have all been said in two simple sentences.

 

Tom

 

  1. - I’m really sorry about everything else, I told myself I wouldn’t bring it up, but I can’t help it. I’m really sorry Elle, please forgive me.

 

Elle looked at the email for the fortieth time. She knew Tom was trying to do something nice for her, while also trying to worm his way back in. she sighed, not sure if the idea of her dream bike would be worth it. Rubbing her hands over her face, she felt conflicted. She could just text Emma, give her the money and not talk to Tom, but that was just plain wrong, and she knew it, but what were her alternatives? Say yes and have tom email her incessantly about something she didn’t want to discuss or bluntly sent a one-word email back and be as big an asshole as he had been; neither appealed to her.

 

“A penny for your thoughts?” Paul asked, handing her a cup of tea.

 

“It’s Tom,” she stated plainly.

 

Paul frowned. “You’re Googling him?” he seemed somewhat hurt at the idea.

 

“No, he sent me an email about a really brilliant bike I’ve wanted for a while, it is going cheap near his home, he remembered I said I wanted one so he told me about it.”

 

“Did he mention anything to do with…?”

 

“Just that he was sorry, and asking my forgiveness.”

 

“So are you?” She looked at him. “Are you just going to forgive him now?”

 

“I can’t. I’m not there yet.”

 

“But you want that bike?” She nodded. “Catch twenty-two I’m afraid.”

 

“Hence my sighing and confliction.”

 

“You really care about him.”

 

“I care about all of them; they’ve been like family to me.” She explained.

 

“Well, family forgives.”

 

“Even if they tell you your parents must not have thought you worth the money on your education to pay for you to study privately.”

 

“I thought you said he was not abusive.”

 

“He was mad, Paul.”

 

“That is a terrible thing to say about someone.”

 

“You studied at the College of Surgeons, right?” Paul nodded. “One of the most elite medical colleges in Britain?” Again he nodded. “Meaning your family is not exactly from the council estates of London.”

 

“We were not landed gentry, no, but my parents and I made it so I could get through it, with some help from loans.”

 

“Did you scoff at those who studied medicine in other less prestigious colleges?”

 

“I was younger and more naïve.”

 

“And Tom was hurt by my words, I am not condoning his words, but we both struck low.”

 

“How did this go from me defending him to you defending him?” Paul asked with a chuckle.

 

Danielle thought for a moment before laughing. “I have no idea.”

 

“He seems to be a big topic of conversation of late.”

 

Danielle looked at Paul analytically. “I’ve noticed, but poor Emma, this has been so hard for the whole family.”

 

“I was wondering, it’s a little ironic since we were just talking about my college, but my old classmates wanted to meet up and have a bragging match soon, and I was hoping you would come with me.”

 

“What? To show them all you are slumming it with some paramedic?” she joked.

 

“Danni, you know your job is important, if you don’t care for them before they get to the A&E then they don’t make it.”

 

“Except you know that I know what doctors tend to think about paramedics, that we don’t have the brains to be ‘real doctors’.”

 

“You know I don’t think like that, especially with you.” He kissed her. “Please Danni; I really want to actually introduce you to people.”

 

Danielle gave a noncommittal sound in response, one that Paul noticed immediately.

 

*

 

Tom,

 

Thank you very much for inquiring on my behalf and for recalling the model I was looking for, and also for having them hold it. I gave Emma the money, she said she is heading your way anyway, so this gives her an added excuse, just be forewarned of her arrival.

 

Elle.

 

It was short, and did not have any of Elle’s usual jokes, or a threat on his life for calling her short arse, but it was a start, and that was all that Tom could ask for.

 

With any other woman he could just buy her the bike as his plea for forgiveness, but he knew Elle enough to know she would never allow it, she would return it or give a donation to UNICEF under his name or something rather than owe him that, and he had to respect that about her, she was too independent to allow him to buy her forgiveness, in truth, that was what made her so different to every other woman around him. She was always the one to want to give him things, as opposed to the other way around. He felt his throat tighten at the thought of how she would have probably paced for hours, thinking of what to send, trying to neither encourage him to respond or seem rude, but yet talk with him. Part of him wanted to email back, tell her everything, but that would be too much too fast and he knew it. She would dismiss him if that happened, and they would be back at the start of it all.

 

So he took what she gave and was grateful for it. He immediately set about going to the bike shop and purchasing the bike before wheeling it to his car and realising he had no way to bring it to his house. Which required the further purchase of a bike rack, and very amused salesmen making comment on it being the first time they ever helped put one on a Jaguar, but in the end, he was able to get it back to his house.

 

“A bit small, isn’t it?” Tom turned to see Benedict standing in his driveway, looking at the bike, still attached to his car.

 

“It’s for Elle.”

 

“I was wondering; it’s not really in a colour scheme that matches you.” He joked. “So you two have patched things up then?”

 

“Not entirely, but I’m working on it.” Tom looked sheepishly at Ben. “I…”

 

Benedict held up his hand to silence him. “It’s done, I’m just glad to see you back here, and looking somewhat fresher in yourself. Need a hand?”

 

“Please.” Between them, they untied the bike and took it off the car.

 

“That thing weighs less than Christopher did when he was born.” Benedict lifted the bike a few times in one hand.

 

“Apparently it is carbon fibre, so it only weighs a few hundred grams.” Tom shrugged. “Listen, Ben, thank you, for everything.”

 

“It’s what friends are for.” Benedict smiled in return. “I want you to have what I have man, to be happy, but that wasn’t you, and it was obvious. No one that is happy is that angry in themselves.”

 

“Is that some Buddhist thing?”

 

“No, that is a common sense psychology thing.” Ben walked the bike to the door as Tom fiddled with his keys. “So, after my hard work, am I getting a cuppa and a biscuit?”

 

“All I have is Hobnobs.”

 

“All you ever have is Hobnobs; I would die of shock if you didn’t.” Benedict joked.

 

*

 

“Danni?” the paramedic looked around her garden, she had gotten too into a book and forgotten that she was supposed to be alone, so when she heard Paul call her by his nickname for her, she became confused for a moment. “You back there?”

 

“Yeah.” She got to her feet and walked around the side of her house to see Paul standing in front of her. “What the fuck?”

 

“Drug addict got a little violent at work last night, nothing much.” He dismissed; his bruised cheekbone and black eye negating his statement.

 

“Have you seen yourself in a mirror yet?”

 

“Yes, but overall, I really think it is nothing. Cathy, you know her, the admin nurse?” Danielle nodded. “The bastard bit her.”

 

“What!”

 

“Hep tests, HIV tests; the whole shebang she has to deal with now, so I’ll take my bruises.”

 

“Okay, I concede, you’re fine.” She raised her hands in defeat. “What has you here?”

 

Paul frowned. “Do I need an excuse to see my girlfriend?”

 

“No, but you usually call.”

 

He enveloped her in his arms before kissing her. “I know, but I really needed to see you, and you know the rules with texting or calling when in the car.”

 

“Good point. Tea?”

 

“Actually, I had something else in mind.” He grinned slyly.

 

“Seriously, a post work booty call?”

 

“No, well a little, I was hoping we could…”

 

“Are we actually discussing this in my garden, where we can be overheard by people? Get into the house.” She dragged him around to the back door, Mac Tíre getting a half a salute as they did. “I rather not discuss that part of this in public,” she stated when they got into her kitchen.

 

“It’s not something to be…are you embarrassed by it, by me?”

 

“What no, I just…what I, we do is no one's business.”

 

“But you say you are close to Diana and Emma.”

 

“Not that sort of close, I don’t discuss what Emma does with Jack, it’s not my business. The only time that ever was broached was when she was saying about the future, how she wanted kids in a couple years.”

 

“I’m sorry, I got a little paranoid,” Paul admitted. “No man wants to think his girlfriend is embarrassed by him, especially in bed.”

 

“Do I want to know?”

 

“My last girlfriend, well, you know…”

 

“You’re ex-fiancé?”

 

“Yeah, that one, she said the reason she cheated was because I…well apparently I wasn’t good enough, you know, on that front.”

 

“Ah.” Danielle realised what he was implying. “So that explains a few things.”

 

“I just, you are not really…you never want to go passed certain things, and I get worried it’s because of me, and I…Jesus, I’m making an absolute balls of this.” Paul rubbed his hands over his face, wincing and groaning when he rubbed his sore cheek.

 

“Paul? “He looked at Danielle. “I, I’m not avoiding that because of you, I just…I am not there yet.”

 

“Okay.” He nodded, more to himself than to her. “I get it; I suppose we should have talked about this sooner.”

 

“Yeah; that would probably have helped.” She agreed.

 

Paul walked over to her again, taking her in his arms as he kissed her. “How about we take a shower, together, and do whatever feels right?”

 

“I am spending a lot of time showering recently because of you.” Danielle laughed.

 

“All the more reason to conserve water and have one with me.” He grinned; happy that she kept her hand in his when he led her towards the hallway to the stairs.

 

*

 

Danielle groaned when her phone began to ring, forcing her from a very satisfying sleep. She had left it charging by her bed before Paul had called over. She could not make out who it was that was calling. “Hello?”

 

“Hey, sleepy head.” Emma sang down the phone. “Are you home?”

 

“Ya, ‘M home.”

 

“Wow, you really are sleepy.”

 

“Shh tup.”

 

“You sound the same when you are tired and drunk, you know that?” Emma continued to jest. “I have the bike; Tom got a bike rack and drove it from London.”

 

“Love-eel.”

 

“Go back to sleep.” Paul groaned from beside her, “You’re not making sense.”

 

“Mm’kay.” Danielle had not been fully awake, to begin with, and dozed off again immediately.

 

Paul chuckled as he took her phone and put it to his ear. “I’ll tell her to collect it before work, alright Emma?”

 

“Thanks, Paul, let her get some more sleep, she sounds like she needs it, I’ll keep it in mums til she wakes up.”

 

“Will do. Take it easy.”

 

“You as well, bye Paul.” Emma smiled as she hung up the phone. “I think Elle’s a little tired at present, I’ll bring it over later.” She turned to Tom, who had been next to her when she had made the phone call only to find he wasn’t there. “Tom?”

 

In his mother’s garden, Tom tried to calm his breathing, but as Mac barked at a bird on Danielle’s roof, he found himself looking at the closed curtains of the master bedroom, knowing she was inside there, asleep in Paul’s arms, and he could not catch his breath.

Chapter Text

“Thank you.” Danielle smiled, as she and Paul walked up Diana’s driveway, “I don’t even remember answering the phone.”

“I have never seen you so tired.” Paul chuckled.

“I sort of overdid it in swimming yesterday before work.”

“Don’t you have a training schedule?”

“Yeah, but I was talking to Joanne, and she was saying about going for a half Iron Man, and would I be interested,” Danielle knocked on Diana’s door as she spoke. “But swimming is my weakness, so we said we would see if I could do fifteen hundred metres because then I would be able to work up to nineteen hundred, but that was still seven hundred more than I…” the door opened, causing her to look around. Instead of her friend or her mother, she was face to face, or more specifically, face to chest with Tom. “Tom.”

“Elle.” He gave a small smile as he looked at her.

“Your car isn’t here?” She looked around to double check; if she had seen the Jaguar; truthfully, she would have left it until another time to come for the bike.

“No, Emma and I drove from London in my car, but she and mum have gone to Sainsbury’s, so they took it.” His tone because disheartened as he realised she was less than pleased at seeing him. The noise of a throat clearing came to his attention and he looked to the side of Danielle at who he knew would be Paul. On seeing him, however, his eyes widened. “I…”

Danielle, for a moment, was expecting some form of nasty comment about the doctor, but when she realised it was shock on Tom’s face, she followed his line of sight. “You probably don’t remember Paul from your last visit, Paul, well you’ve seen Tom’s sorry ass all over every magazine in the free world. As for Paul’s face, he was attacked at work.”

Tom swallowed at Danielle’s comments regarding his recent overexposure in the papers, but extending his hand to Paul almost robotically. “Hi, I’m glad we could do the introductions over.”

Paul gave a polite smile back. “Definitely, and sorry about my appearance.” He indicated to his face.

“Did you actually…?”

“No, he’s actually a part-time cage fighter; yes he was attacked at work, by a crazed drug addict.”

Danielle’s snappy sarcasm showed her discomfort; it was something Tom had noticed about her. She could be nicest human being he ever met when she was comfortable in her surrounds, but the more uncomfortable she became, the more vicious her sarcasm was. “Do you want to wait for Emma and mum; they’re gone for about an hour so they will be back in a few.”

“Unless Emma has taken the opportunity to steal the Jag,” Danielle commented, causing Tom to give off a small chuckle. “She has made more than a couple comments with regards that. No, I better get the bike and head to work, I got caught to cover tonight.”

“Right…yeah, it’s right in the hall here.” Tom turned one way slightly, before turning the other and getting the bike. “Is it the right size?” He asked, holding it out for her. “It seems small.”

“Maybe to those who are six-one, but to ‘short-arses’ it is perfect, I may just need to adjust the saddle.” Though Danielle was in no mood to be overly friendly with Tom, her eyes lit up as he wheeled the bike in front of her. “It’s a 9.5!” she began to bounce in excitement.

“You are aware that that probably means nothing to anyone here but you, right?” Paul smiled fondly.

Tom had been smiling at her excitement also, but Paul speaking caused him to swallow again, eyeing the other man in an assessing manner as he looked at his girlfriend. “Seriously, though, do they actually have colour schemes?”

“Yes, each year has a distinct colour scheme, dictating the year of production, admittedly, it’s not the nicest scheme they have had, but who cares, I have a 9.5!” she giggled. “Thank you, Tom.”

Seeing her face so lit up with joy as she looked at him gave Tom a peculiar sensation in his stomach, one he could not recall getting for years. “I just saw the sign and thought of you.” He smiled back.

Danielle seemed to remember her previous discomfort and tried to straighten her face some bit, but the smile remained. “Well I appreciate you doing that, and for having the balls to contact me about it, I know I have not made myself seem open to talking to you of late.”

“Yes, well, I think it is safe to say it is understandable.” He gave a solemn face.

“Yeah.” Danielle could not look him in the face. “I better go to work anyway, thank you again, Tom.”

“Glad I could help, bye.”

Paul gave a small wave, which Tom reciprocated and the pair turned to leave. As they got to her driveway, Danielle noticed the Jaguar driving towards them, but she did not stop, not having enough time to talk anymore before going to work.

*

“Was that Elle and Paul?” Emma did not even salute her brother as he stood with the door still open as his sister and mother pulled into the driveway.

“I think it’s obvious it was.” Tom scoffed, “Who else would I give Elle’s bike to?”

“So she spoke to you?”

“A little, I think she was too excited about the bike to forget to hate me,” Tom stated sourly as he helped his mother with the groceries.

“She does not hate you.” Diana clipped his arm in a scolding manner. “If she hated you, she would have walked off without the bike.”

“Mum, the way she acted when she saw the bike, she would have spoken to Margaret Thatcher if it meant she would wheel it away.” Tom dismissed. “She was over sarcastic, you know what that means with her.” Diana looked at him confused. “She only does that when she is uncomfortable, it’s why Jack thought she was a bitch the first time he met her.”

“Well, I kind of threw her in at the deep end there.” Emma chuckled at the memory.

“She is just glad to have her bike.”

“Well good, she deserves it.” Diana beamed. “I never noticed her to be so sarcastic, are you sure about that? She could not have been comfortable the day she came here first, and she was anything but.”

“Apparently self-deprivation is a large trait in the Irish, especially when nervous. She dismissed herself as stupid, foolish and idiotic all in two sentences for coming here.” Tom reminded her.

“I had forgotten about that,” Emma admitted Diana nodded to state her own forgetting of it. But Tom had remembered.

*

“That went okay,” Paul stated as Danielle placed her new bike next to her other road bike, admiring it.

“It was so fucking awkward, I didn’t even know he was there. Jesus, if I had…”

Paul pulled her into him, “What does it matter, it’s done, and you have your lovely new bike.”

Danielle smiled. “I love it so much.” She bounced excitedly again.

“I have never seen you like this, so giddy.”

“Well, with work, I have to be so serious and professional, but I love being like this.”

“I like you being like this. I’ll have to endeavour to be the reason behind it some day.”

Danielle looked at him. “You know the bike is the reason I am like this, don’t you?”

“I know.” Paul looked down at her. “I know, you are not Julie, you would not do what she did.” He kissed the top of her head. “And thank you for understanding, for not thinking I am utterly neurotic.”

“Well you have never accused me of flirting or going off with any of the lads I work with; I just see you get concerned in yourself, trying to stop yourself from worrying, I would never do that. Everyone has a few hang-ups after relationships. No one is left on the shelf until my age without some issues.”

“What are yours?” Paul looked down at her. “You said you haven’t been with anyone since you came here, so that means you must have had a really shit boyfriend in Ireland before.”

“Well, you see how long it is taking me to…you know.”

“Yeah?”

“I just…when I was younger, in college…”

“You went to college?”

“Yeah, I went and studied a year of accounting before I realised I could not stand it and went to be a paramedic.”

“What happened?”

“I, well…I went and slept with a guy too early into a relationship, I felt cheap and trashy. I mean the girls in my apartment did it all the time and they seemed indifferent; and whatever, if that worked for them, more the power to them, but I hated it, and of course, it only lasted until I decided I didn’t want that. So my impression of men is that they are only really interested in one thing.”

“That is a fairly accurate assumption on the male mind circa ages eighteen to twenty-two.” Paul agreed. “So have you had a boyfriend since college?”

“Other than you?” Paul nodded. “One guy, he moved to Galway which was hours from me, he was nice and everything, but different lives, so we parted ways on good terms, last I heard, he is getting married soon.” She smiled.

“You only ever seem to want what’s best for others.” Paul smiled affectionately.

“Why would I want any different for them, as long as it doesn’t negatively affect my life, I want everyone to have a good one.”

*

Danielle was sweating, it was humid and wet, so she was gasping for breath as she pushed herself. Her Garmin telling her she only had another four hundred metres before she was due to stop. It meant she had a half kilometre walk home, but that would help cool down her legs. When she came to the forty kilometre mark, she gently pulled on the breaks to come to a halt.

“Hey.” She turned to look at who was nearby, causing her to forget to pull her legs out of the pedals and onto the ground, meaning she fell over. “Shit!”

“Fuck.” Danielle hissed.

“Shit, Elle that was my fault.” Tom rushed over to her, pulling her to her feet as she got out of the pedal. “Are you alright.”

“Yeah, my body broke the fall for the bike.” She groaned, checking the bike over.

“Your concern is for the bike?” Tom chuckled.

“Just because I got a new one, does not mean I am going to throw this one out.”

“Why aren’t you using the new one?”

“Too wet, I am not used to her yet, couldn’t risk getting hopped.”

“If ‘getting hopped’ means falling off, I have bad news for you.” He chuckled again. “Come on, I’ll help you home.”

“I’m fine.” She dismissed as she walked, limping slightly due to her bruised and cut knee she had obtained in the fall.

“Elle, please.”

“Just keep running.”

“I went far enough, I can walk from here.” He stated. “Look, Elle, I can run and get my car, or I can take the bike, and let you lean on me, but I am not going to leave you dragging your leg along the road like that.”

“You make me sound like a zombie.”

“Well, you sort of…” he stuck out his tongue slightly between his teeth in jest.

“If you dare say I look like one, I will beat you to death with my helmet.”

Tom put up his hands in surrender. “I concede.”

Danielle began to smile for a moment but her face went neutral again. “I am fine Tom, you better go home.”

“Elle…”

“I don’t…”

“Please Elle, talk to me, I miss having conversations with you.” Tom pleaded. “I mean, you are one of the only people to be a hundred percent honest with me, even when I didn’t want to hear it.”

“And look where it got me.” She retorted.

“Just so you know, you have Ben’s, Luke’s and my family’s utmost respect, you did more than everyone else was brave enough to do, it was you that kicked Ben into action.”

“That was pretty brilliant of him, he is morphing into Holmes with that mind.” She smiled.

“Thank you.” She frowned at him. “Thank you for risking our friendship to try and get through to me, thank you for putting yourself out for me.”

She eyed him for a moment. “I didn’t just do it for you, your mum, your family, in general, didn’t deserve that shit.”

“No, they didn’t, you thought more of them than I did.”

“Yeah well, they are annoyingly nice.” She shrugged.

“Yes, well…” without realising it, they had walked the rest of the way to the two houses. Tom looked at Danielle’s smaller home. “Is he inside?”

“Paul, no, he’s working today.”

“Does he do this too?” Tom indicated to the bike.

“No, he’s not into sports.”

“What?” Tom raised a brow.

“He doesn’t like sports.”

“Like, any sports? Tennis? Rugby? Golf?”

“God, you are so upper class.” Danielle laughed. “No, he does not like sports, at all.”

“What do you even watch on TV?”

“Not sport.”

“Will he go to any of your triathlons?”

“I can’t imagine he’d like to.”

Tom frowned, he knew what Triathlon meant to Danielle, she often placed on the podium at events. “That’s odd.”

“How; of all your pictures of you running in the US and Oz, there were none of Swift with you?”

“But she does go to the gym.”

“Tom, she walks out of the gym with the exact same hair and makeup as she goes in; I think it is safe to say she is just promoting whatever fad is in vogue this week; I mean, when have you ever started a run in the same manner you finish, I have ran with you, you don’t stop until you are after giving it everything.”

“You’ve never ran with me.”

“I was nearby on a bike.” She dismissed, causing Tom to laugh, “It’s not my fault you have stupidly long legs.”

“It’s not my fault you have stupidly short ones.”

“Touché.” The smiled at each other for a minute. “Thanks for walking me back.”

“It was my fault you fell.”

“Yeah, can’t really argue that.” she smiled. “But not everyone would stop.”

“You mean, the version of me that I became would not have?”

“I would have fainted if he had helped me,” Danielle admitted.

“Well, he’s gone.”

“Good, I prefer this you, it is more authentic.”

“Can you forgive me, Elle?”

“Forgive what?” she smiled.

“You’re the best.”

“This I know, this I know. Bye Tom.”

With a swelling in his chest, Tom waved her off. “Bye Elle.”

Chapter Text

“Danni” the paramedic winced slightly when she heard Paul call her name. She had seen him when she had admitted a patient, talking to what could only be described as a clearly privately educated pompous looking man when she entered. “Danni, come here a moment.” His tone was upbeat as he called her. She forced a smile onto her face before turning and facing the two men. Paul was walking up to her, the other man a mere pace behind. “Charles, this is the woman I was talking to you about.” Paul declared proudly as he put his arm around Danielle. “Danni, this is my friend Charles I told you about; Charles, this is my lovely girlfriend Danni.”

Inside Danielle felt awkward and irked; she was in her uniform, her leg cover covered in vomit from the small child that she had just dealt with in the ambulance. “Hi.” She waved a little at the man in front of her, noticing that he was eyeing her with more than a hint of disdain in his eyes.

“Pleasure.” He stated, though his tone stated it was anything but. “From the manner you spoke Paul, I thought she was an intern here.”

“No, Danni’s a paramedic, and a good one too. She is actually second in command in her base.” The doctor stated proudly.

Danielle could see from the look on Charles’ face that she could have been the head of the paramedics in Europe and it would not have mattered. There was a snide look on his face as he glanced at her again before turning to Paul once more. “Did I mention that Lucia Hawkins has been asking for you of late, you remember her, the year below us, top of her class, she is a Registrar Obstetrician now?”

“I think I better get back to work.” Danielle stated turning to leave, “I will see you over the next few days Paul.”

“Danni, Charles, one second.” Paul called, running after her. “Danni, what are you doing?”

“Getting back to work.” She reiterated.

“Charles is one of my closest friends, we are meeting him for lunch tomorrow for this get together.”

“Paul, I never actually agreed to that, you never mentioned it again since that time you mentioned it at all two weeks ago, and now that I have met Charles, I am most definitely not going.” She stated in an angry whisper, not wanting to bring attention to them. “I better go, this is your workplace and I don’t want either of us getting a disciplinary.”

“How can you say something like that about him, he is my friend and you won’t even bother getting to know him?”

“I don’t need to know any more, he could not look further down his nose at me if he was standing at the top of Everest and I was at the bottom and the way he was going on about that girl you were in college with…”

“What about Lucia?”

“Are you really so blind? He is trying to imply you should call her up rather than slumming it with me.”

“Your being ridiculous Danielle.” He scoffed.

Danielle’s brows rose, “Wow, my full name, this is serious. I am not being ridiculous, I bet when you go back there and were you to discuss me, I would not be worth more than a few short words, and she would be suggested again and again.”

“I am right here,” Charles stated, walking over to them. “And I do not appreciate being spoken about like that by some Paddy paramedic.”

Danielle stared at him in shock. “What did you just call me?”

“What?” Paul looked between them.

“Do you call black people the ‘n’ word too?” she demanded, catching the attention of the nurses at the station nearby with her statement.

“Whoa, Danni, what the hell, are you calling Charles racist?” Paul seemed appalled at her.

“Calling an Irish person a ‘Paddy’ derives from the condescending and racially abusive way many British workers referred to Irish workers who came over to work here, it was used to degrade and belittle, as well as to infer to Irish as being inferior, same as that other word.” She explained, “If you’ll excuse me, I am off to see if I can keep some misfortunate people alive long enough for them to make it into the A&E for you to boost your God Complexes on.” She turned and left, shaking in anger as she did so, leaving a somewhat shocked Paul in her wake.

“She’s a bit temperamental.” Charles scoffed watching Danielle leave. “Seriously Paul, the Irish come from feral blood, and she doesn’t seem too far removed, a good, proper girl is what you want. Lucia, she heard what Julia did and wants to get talking to you.” Paul said nothing and watched his girlfriend as she walked out of the A&E without a backwards glance.

*

The following morning, after finishing her shift, Danielle sighed as she parked her car in her driveway. She had a headache that felt as though her skull was physically splitting after what Paul’s friend had said, and for the rest of the night, her partner on call simply left her stew on what was bothering her, knowing better than to say anything. She was about to get her belongings and go into the house to shower before seeing if she could sleep away the stress headache when her phone began to ring, pulling it off the charger she had in her car, she groaned at seeing Paul’s name on the caller ID. “Hello.” Her tone was neither polite nor cold.

“What the hell was that Danni?”

“I’m not interested Paul, seriously, I have a headache.”

“That’s all you have to say, I have never been so embarrassed, I have done nothing but praise and build you up to my friends and you go off on one of my best friends in the middle of the A&E.”

“He called me a Paddy, he used a derogatory term to belittle me, and what is worse is I told you why that term is offensive and you did not defend me, you didn’t even try to.” Her voice broke as she spoke.

“Danni…” Paul seemed to catch her upset.

“Don’t, I don’t want to hear it. I told you he would look down at me and I was right.”

“Look, Charles is just from a rich background, he can be a bit pompous at times.”

“Emma is from a rich background and she is never like that, that is the worse fucking excuse yet.” She snapped.

“Look calm down.”

“I am calm, I am very calm, which is what is terrifying me really, Paul.” She admitted. “I am going to bed, I am not in the mood for bullshit today.”

“What about lunch?”

“Seriously, you think I would want to go to lunch with that asshole? I can tell already I would be belittled and humiliated for his amusement, if not for the amusement of others too. I am not going, you didn’t even give me a proper date for any of this. I am tired and in agony with my head, I am going to bed.”

“So you are going to make me seem like an idiot and not turn up?” Paul barked back angrily. “Is that what you are saying?”

“Your friends are all doctors, I am sure they’ll understand the meaning of a week on nights. You won’t look like an idiot, if they had any respect for others they would commend the fact I work hard in a similar field to them to try and help people, if they don’t see it like that, they are probably not the type of people I should associate with.”

“Danielle…”

“I am not going, I am tired and in pain Paul, so just enjoy yourself and talk to me again when your racist ass of a friend is well and truly the hell away from Suffolk.”

“He was there for me after Julia.”

In her desperation to get in home and hopefully getting some rest soon, Danielle had gotten out of the car and went to the backseat to get her bag. “And perhaps in his scale of assholeness, that might be a point in his favour, but he is still an asshole, Paul, especially for suggesting a different partner for you in my fucking presence. I was three feet away and he was talking about you going for another girl.”

“Well, I dare say Lucia would try to make an effort.” He retorted childishly.

“If she spent the night helping women give birth and then had the energy to listen to that bastard racially abuse her the next day, she would become my new idol, because fuck me, she would be Wonder Woman, but I’m not able; so I going to go into my house and get some sleep to try and shift this headache and hopefully you will cop the hell on in that time and realise the way your friend spoke about me is completely uncalled for and you will defend me from it, be I present or not.”

“Danni…”

“Goodbye, Paul.” She hung up the phone and groaned as she crashed backwards against her car for a moment in exhaustion.

“Are you okay Elle?”

“Hey, Tom.” She stated exhaustedly turning to face him. He was standing at the edge of her driveway in the same running gear the trash columns ridiculed him for in the US. “Good run?” In the two weeks, since they half began speaking again, she had shared only one other conversation with Tom, and they had only texted on one occasion when Tom was meeting friends in a pub, with regards the lunacy of the Irish sport of hurling, before he had gone back to London.

“Alright, yeah.” He nodded, sweat on his brow. “Are you alright, you seem a little upset, and well, I caught the last few sentences you said?”

Danielle shook her head, “Yeah, I’m fine, just shit I really don’t need.”

“You do realise you shook her head as you said yes?”

“Meaning?”

“Your yes was really a no.”

“Tom, I really can’t right now, my head is splitting and I’m just…” she inhaled deeply.

“Hey.” He walked over, concerned at the clear upset on her face. Cautiously he walked close to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Look, it’s none of my business, but if people are saying shit to you because you’re Irish, you have every right to be mad.”

“Thanks for the vindication.” Usually, she would be sarcastic when she would say that, but that time, she just wanted the validation. “Tom.”

“Mmm?”

“You are drenched in sweat.”

He gave off a chuckle as he pulled back. “Sorry, you just look like you needed a hug.”

“I did actually, thank you.”

“Do you really have a headache?”

“Like Animal is playing drums on my skull.” She smiled, knowing he would get the Muppets reference.

“Go in, I’ll take your bag, take some ibuprofen, take a shower and get some rest.”

“I need to get breakfast.”

“Weetabix with honey, fruit and almond milk?”

She smiled at him, “You don’t have to.”

“Elle, please, just let me help.” She was about to argue again when he went for a threat. “If you decline, I will go home and tell mum you’re not well.” He grinned.

“Fuck you, Hiddleston.” She groaned, no longer arguing, throwing her keys on the counter as she walked in her hall.

“You’ve changed the place a bit.” He noticed.

“You should see the living room.”

Tom stretched his neck slightly to look in. “Jesus.” He looked at it, “It’s brilliant.”

“I know.” She gave a small smile, “I’ll be back in a minute.” She ran up the stairs after taking an ibuprofen.

Tom looked around the living area properly while she was upstairs, scanning her new bookshelves, when he heard the shower turn off, he grabbed the last few things she needed for a quick breakfast. “Here,” he handed her the bowl of breakfast.

“Thanks.” She smiled appreciatively as she took it.

“I noticed a few medical titles in your living area that I have not seen before; are you doing more exams?”

“On the table?” Tom nodded. “No, those are Paul’s, he’s studying for his next exams.”

“Right.” Tom played around from foot to foot. “Can I ask what happened, you seem really upset?”

“I met one of Paul’s friends.” Tom’s stomach twisted at the thought of her being made a bigger part of Paul’s life. “He was a complete prick, I mean, he looked at me as though I was shit on his shoe. He told Paul about a girl they knew wanting to meet him, implying she was far superior to me, he completely belittled my job and he called me a fucking Paddy, can you believe that?” Tom looked at her wide-eyed. “Why am I telling you of all people this?”

“Because I understand; after all, I am recently single again.” He shrugged.

“We are just having an argument.” Danielle corrected.

“His friend used a racial slur against you.”

“No one knows that more than me Tom.”

“From what I heard, he did not defend you.”

“No, he didn’t.” she admitted, crestfallen.

“Not that it is on a par with what I did to you Elle, but don’t sell yourself short for anyone.”

“Are you seriously making short jokes?” she could not help the slight smile on her lips.

“Is it working?”

She nodded slightly. “A little.”

“Good. Go to sleep Elle, your out on your feet. I’ll see myself out.”

“Thanks, Tom, for everything.”

“Anytime Elle, I mean it.”

Chapter Text

When she woke, Danielle groaned, her vision was blurred and the small bit of light that was streaming in her slightly unclosed curtains made her want to cry as it caused the room to be far too bright. She shivered with the cold, even though her heating had been timed to come on for an hour already and she was under a heavy duvet. She seldom suffered migraines, but when she did, Danielle truly suffered. Feeling around her bedside locker, she found her phone and dialled the first number she could think of.

“Hey.” Emma’s voice seemed concerned. “You alright?”

Had Danielle not been so unwell, she would have known immediately that Tom had informed his sister that everything was not okay with their neighbour. “Em, sick. Please.”

“Right, I am coming in, just give me a minute to get mum’s key to yours, alright?”

“Quiet, please.” She begged.

“I gotcha, just two minutes Elle.” Emma hung up the phone and rang to find the spare key to Danielle’s house.

“What has you in a tizzy?” Tom asked, going over the lines for his upcoming cameo.

“Elle is as sick as a dog, she asked me to come over.”

Tom rose from the sofa. “Need company?”

Until that morning, the youngest Hiddleston would have declined her brother’s offer, but to say their friend had disclosed something personal to him, she decided not to. “Sure, you know what’s up with her more than I do.”

“She had a headache earlier, that had nothing to do with why she was feeling shit, though.”

“Then what did?” She asked.

“I am not telling you, that's Elle’s business to tell, but she has had a pretty shit night of it.”

“Could she have a stress migraine?” Emma asked, opening her friend’s door.

“If she gets them, then yeah, that could be it.” Tom noticed a note on the ground as they walked in, picking it up, he read it and his lip curled every so slightly for a moment when he realised it was a missed delivery for the local floral company. Knowing the conversation Danielle had had with her boyfriend earlier that day, he did not need to be Ben’s fictional character to hamper a guess as to who it was that had sent the flowers. He placed the card on the hall table and walked into the kitchen to get Danielle more painkillers.

“Elle?” Emma knocked on her friend’s bedroom door. “Can I come in?” When there was no response, she opened the door and peeked around it. “Elle?”

“Kill me.” The paramedic groaned from under the duvet.

“A migraine?”

“I want to die.”

“I’ll take that as a yes then,” Emma stated quietly.

“Curtains.”

“Open or closed?”

“Close, please.”

“You are so demanding.”

“I’m dying.”

“You have a headache Elle, that’s a tad dramatic.”

“Dying.”

Tom chuckled as he heard the exchange from the hallway. “Can I come in?” he asked sheepishly.

“Yeah, I think we have a new entry for Oscars under Most Dramatic Paramedic.” Emma joked.

“Dying.” Danielle groaned again.

“Is that your professional opinion?” Tom chuckled.

“Fuck you, Hiddles.”

“Second time today.” Tom shook his head. “I have paracetamol and ibuprofen because I don’t know what one you had last.”

“What time is it?” Danielle forced herself out from under the covers a little, her hair stuck to her face.

“Afternoon,” Emma responded.

Tom checked his watch. “Half three.”

“Both.”

“Can you take both at once?”

“Yes, in extreme cases, like now, so gimme.”

“You are so demanding.” Emma threw her eyes up. “Why isn’t Paul here to nurse you, he is a doctor?”

Danielle glanced at Tom for a moment. “I didn’t tell her.” He stated.

Emma’s face fell. “Tell me what?” she looked between them.

“Thanks, Tom.” Danielle groaned, drinking water to wash down her tablets. “Paul and I are not speaking at the moment.” She stated plainly, before turning over. “Tell you more when I am not dying.”

Emma looked to Tom but he did not say anything, one it was not his place, and two, he was not overly keen at the pair making amends anytime soon, something he was sure his sister would try to assist on. Instead, he looked around Danielle’s room; it was the first time he had seen it since the day she moved in. He swallowed when he noticed a few items that were clearly Paul’s; the doctor had obviously begun staying enough for him to warrant supplies being left. “Do you need Mac walked?” he asked, not wanting to look at the room any longer.

“Shit.” Danielle had started to doze off again. “I need to ring work too.”

“Right, I will help you find the right number to ring, and Tom will get Mac tacked up and walked, alright?”

“You don’t have…”

“Nonsense. Sarah arrived half an hour ago and we haven’t had a chance to meet since…well everything, so she and I are going to steal Mac and take him out with us.” Tom smiled kindly.

“You’re the best.”

“I want that in writing.” Tom laughed and said his farewells to go downstairs. He opened the door to the back garden, where the dog eyed him suspiciously for a moment, but when Tom held out the lead and Halti in hand, Mac Tíre eagerly got to his feet and trotted over. “She’s not feeling too well today buddy, so I am taking you out instead.” Mac looked around the room for a moment, but with no sign of his master, he accepted Tom and sat for him to put on the head collar. It took a few minutes, but Tom figured it out, so going to his mothers, he asked his older sister to join him and the pair, with the eager dog, walked down the road.

Emma had Danielle in drink another glass of water to keep hydrated and made sure she had everything she needed before going back to her mother’s. When Diana heard what was wrong, she insisted that she be the one to check on her again just before dinner, and when she saw the young paramedic had just gotten out of the shower, feeling a bit better in herself, she insisted that she come over and eat with them, to ensure she was well fed. Danielle wanted to decline, feeling somewhat downbeat as she recalled her evening before, but Diana refused to take no for an answer, meaning she was as good as ushered, with her hair dripping wet to her neighbours house, but not before noticing the failed delivery card on the hall table, she pursed her lips when she saw it, but did nothing more regarding it.

“Sarah, you remember Elle, don’t you?” Emma joked as she saw her friend, looking slightly pale but a lot better walk into her mother’s kitchen.

Sarah, who knew well who Danielle was, but who had not seen her in a long time, came over and hugged her tightly. “Thank you for everything.”

Danielle stared wide-eyed, slightly scared, and patted her back, Sarah was the most mature and reserved of the Hiddleston’s and though she liked Danielle and how she was so close to her mother, she was never overly affectionate. “Okay, what?”

“For being brave enough to take on Tom and his pigheadedness, and for counselling my daughter, she just needed to rant and I was so angry I couldn’t be there for her in that way.”

“I just listened.”

“Which is what she needed.” She stated with a smile. “So thank you.”

“Well, I’m glad I was some help.” Danielle shrugged, not sure she should take any credit. “So, what’s for dinner?”

“Are you ever not hungry?” Emma laughed.

“When I don’t have to cook, Fuck no.”

“Language!” Diana chastised.

“Sorry mother.” Danielle used Tom like a shield for fear Diana would come over to give her a small clip.

“I’m not taking a hit for you.” Tom tried to flee her, but she grabbed onto his shirt, “Let go.”

“Not a chance.” She laughed.

“How are you so strong?” Tom tried to release her grip.

“Work, Tri, sheer ‘not giving up’, you know.”

“Will you two ever stop messing; you’ll injure one another and then who’ll be laughing?” Diana barked, but the stern look on her face was not able to be taken seriously as her eyes showed her delight in her son’s return to form, as well as his playfulness that she feared was lost as a result of recent events. “Sit at the table before the food goes cold.” She ordered.

“Thanks, mum.” Tom’s eyes went wide at the small feast his mother had decided to feed them all. “And to answer your question on who’d be laughing, Elle would.”

“What?” She stared at him.

“You laugh when you get hurt.” Her brows rose. “You do, every time you bang into something, you end up in giggles.”

“No, he’s right.” Emma concurred, Jack nodding his head next to her, his mouth filled with food. “So Elle, are you going to say what happened with…” Emma stared at Tom who shook his head violently at her question.

“It’s fine.” Danielle looked to Tom, grateful he seemed to want to not upset her. “Paul and I had a disagreement with regards social construct.” She explained cryptically, Tom made a face beside her that showed that was putting it tamely. “As a result, he is currently in the ‘think about your actions’ box until I get a heartfelt apology at the very least.”

“You are a stern little mule, Danielle Hughes.” Diana sighed.

“But since I refuse to budge, look how few think it wise to try and argue me.” She grinned proudly.

“You won’t keep a man if you are always like that.”

“I'd rather be alone than with someone who can’t handle my stubbornness, it would only end up in someone’s death otherwise, and not mine.”

“Not to mention you know how, and have the ability and the strength to make it look like an accident.” Tom chuckled; she winked at him causing everyone to laugh.

*

“Thank you so much for dinner; I really needed a good meal.” Danielle hugged Diana as she went to go home for the evening.

“And a night off, you work too much sweetheart, you need to rest.” Diana looked at her worriedly, cupping Danielle’s face in her hands. “And whatever Paul did, I am sure it can be fixed.”

“That’s debatable.”

“For the right person, anything is possible.”

“The issue is knowing are they the right one, though,” Danielle replied, her smile a sad one.

Diana said nothing for a moment, but looked at her with a kind smile, not wanting to pry too much into something Danielle was not willing to share, grateful that she had at least spoken to Tom regarding it, and that he was safeguarding what she had said. “Just have some more rest, tomorrow will bring a lot of answers.”

“How’s that?”

“Well, I can’t guarantee it bring answers, but some good rest always helps our minds with the important questions.”

“Need company home?” Emma asked, linking her arm in Danielle’s.

“I live next door.”

“Yeah, but still, I am going back first thing, Jack is working tomorrow afternoon.”

Danielle sighed dramatically and acted as though what Emma was asking of her was something highly taxing. “Fine, if I have to.” But immediately after she smiled at her friend.

“Bye Elle,” Tom called down the stairs, his voice indicating he had something in his mouth as he did.

“What are you even doing?” Emma shouted up.

“Brushing my teeth.”

“It’s eight o’clock!”

“I got a call for the Gucci campaign, I am their new face.” He chirped; elated at the call he had received after dinner.

“All the other eligible candidates get food poisoning or something?” Danielle jested, Emma erupting in laughter next to her.

“Funny.” Tom scoffed. “I have to be to Notting Hill by seven.”

“You’re already late, that was an hour ago.”

“You have way too many ‘Dad Jokes’ Elle.” Emma laughed.

“Ha, Ha. But seriously, see you soon Elle, and take care.”

“Bye Tom.” Danielle and Emma walked out the door, noting the drop in temperature since they had gone inside. “I’m not even sure if I can go to sleep tonight, I am not even tired.”

“You need to relax, though.”

“I can’t believe I called in sick, that is the first time since I came here, I feel like I was lying, I am fine now.”

“You were sick and you are still not fully right,” Emma stated factually. “Can I ask what happened with you and…Paul?”

Danielle froze and gave her boyfriend a stern glare as he stood looking at her in her driveway.

“Danni.” His voice was pleading.

“Paul.” She replied, her tone cold.

“Please Danni, can I just…”

“Why is he here?” Danielle indicated to Paul’s car, where Charles was looking out at her from the open door on the passengers’ side.

“He just wanted to talk to you.”

“I’m not interested in anything he has to say.”

“Elle?” Emma looked at her friend, noticing her anger rise.

“It’s alright Em; go back to your mum’s.” Danielle did not take her eyes off her boyfriend as she spoke. “Safe journey back to London.”

“I’ll call you when we get back okay?”

Danielle looked at her friend and gave her as big a smile as she could force. “Great, bye Em’s.” Emma left leaving her looking between her boyfriend and the man she would not be overly upset to see spontaneously combust in her yard. “I would offer you inside, but well, I am sure it is not quite Hampton Court Palace.” She stated sarcastically.

“Danielle.” Paul pleaded.

“Get in before I embarrass myself in front of my neighbours.” She forced through gritted teeth.

Chapter Text

Danielle did not wait for either man to follow her inside; she simply went straight into her kitchen and got a glass of water. “Well?” she turned when she had downed it to face the two men she knew followed her into her home. “I’m listening.”

 

“Danielle…”

“You know, since yesterday, you have not called me ‘Danni’; not in the whole time you are in his company.” She pointed out.

 

“I…”

“I owe you an apology.” Charles interrupted, walking forward a step but going no further when he saw the glare she had fixed on him. “I should not have been so…”

“Racist, bigoted, plain rude, pick one, pick all for all I care, I have nothing to say to you other than it will be interesting to hear what the ethics committee have to say about your little rant seeing as it occurred in my work environment.” She stood as tall as her short stature would allow showing him how much she was conviction she had in the threat.

 

Charles' face fell and Paul walked over to her. “Danni…Danni; that could ruin his career.”

 

“Oh, now you both are realising the severity of that word, now; when it would involve a disciplinary, and not when it was used to insult me. That tells me everything I need to know.” She scoffed. Looking straight at Charles, she pointed to her kitchen door. “I think it best you leave my house right now.”

 

“Danielle…” Charles began. “I…Please…”

“You don’t get to talk to me; your apology is about as real as an electoral promise,” Danielle growled, heading for her back door, where Mac Tíre was waiting to come in. As soon as the dog entered, he sensed the tension and looked around, trusting it not to be Paul, who he was used to, the dog eyed Charles with apprehension. When Danielle went over to where she had previously been standing, Mac stood between her and the stranger, his ears quickly flattening against his skull and his head low, eyes directly focused on Charles. “They say dogs are a great judge of character, but then again, he is named the Irish for the ‘Son of the Earth’ perhaps he knows he is in the presence of a Hibernophobe.”

 

Charles looked to Paul pleadingly. “Charles, could you go out to my car for a moment; I need to speak with my girlfriend alone.” He threw his keys to his friend. Charles nodded and went to leave, Mac growling at him as he did. “You ignored the florist.” He commented sadly, walking over to her.

 

“I was in bed with a migraine so bad I had to stop my car twice on the way home from work, I needed Emma and Tom to even get me half able to take more medication later in the day.” She snapped. “And you think I wanted to ignore some guy trying to just do his job delivering a few daisies?”

 

“They weren’t daisies.” Paul’s face fell.

 

“Paul…”

“Danni,” Paul gently tilted her head up gently so she was looking at him, “Danni, I’m so sorry, I should have defended you, I should never have allowed Charles speak that way about you. At lunch, we spoke about it, Charles, Cedric, Noah and I, and the others agreed too, it was completely out of line.”


“I am glad your little committee realised casual racism isn’t alright.”

 

“Danni, you know I don’t think that way, I always knew you were Irish, that sort of thing is not an issue for me.”

 

“But you didn’t defend me.”

 

“I know, and I can never take that back, as much as I wish I could. I made a fool of myself Danni.” She raised a brow at him. “I made an absolute asshole of myself, and in the way only you can, you told me outright. I would never want you to change that about you, you did it with Diana’s son, with me, and even with Charles; you know, he has never had any woman sass him. He is a posh twat; he has never had a woman call him out on his shit.”

“I would have thought it would be a regular occurrence for him with his demeanour.” Paul gave a chuckle. “I can’t do this Paul; I can’t be okay with what happened.”

 

Paul swallowed hard. “Is there any…do you think I can…?”

“I don’t know. I need to think about it.”

 

Paul nodded, knowing how stubborn she was, any attempts to push her would cause her to become less open to listening to him. “I’m sorry Danni.” He leant in to give her a kiss, but she moved her head to the side.

 

“So am I.”

 

Paul pulled back. “Can I call you?”

 

“I probably won’t answer.”

“You really hate phones?” Paul gave a sad, knowing smile.

“I hate phone calls.”

“I’ll text you so; you can read them, delete them or reply at your discretion.”

 

“That would be better, thank you.”

 

“I’m going to show you I’m sorry Danni, I know I cannot make you forgive me, but I’m going to prove it anyway.” He swore, patting Mac’s head before leaving; Danielle saying nothing as he left.

 

Paul got into his car and sat staring at the wheel for a minute. “Do you want me to drive?” Charles asked cautiously, Paul merely nodded, getting out and letting his friend swap seats with him. “She is an absolute ball-buster,” Charles commented as he reversed out of Danielle’s driveway. “Nice house, though.”

 

Paul gave a small nod. “Her attitude is one of the best things about her.”

“You are bonkers, you know that?” Charles shook his head.

 

“I warned you already Charles, I can’t lose her because of this, I…I finally feel happy again, and it is because of her.”

 

“Seriously Paul, you know you are not well matched, she’s too…I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’m telling you, though she is not Julie, even I can give her that, but she is not the one for you either.” The other doctor stated as they drove off.

 

As soon as they left, Emma moved away from the curtain. “What are you doing?” She turned to see her brother looking at her worriedly.

Emma looked around the room, “I am going to drop this to Danielle.” She stated, grabbing a random book.

 

“Why?”

“Because Paul was waiting outside her house, with some friend, one that Elle was anything but happy to see and they are after leaving already, I want to see if she is okay.”

 

Tom’s eyes widened, extending his hand, he looked his sister in the eye. “Give me the book.”

 

“Tom?”

“Give it to me Emma.”

“Not until you tell me why.”

 

Not even waiting for her to give him the book, Tom turned around and went back to his room, getting out of his pyjama bottoms and into his jeans again before walking out his mother’s front door without an explanation.

 

Danielle took another headache tablet, knowing she would suffer more pain before the evening was over. When she heard the letter box bang twice, she frowned, Mac Tíre jumped to his feet and whined excitedly. Knowing only one person knocked like that, Danielle went to the door. “Hey Tom, everything okay?”

 

He walked into her house and stood in her hallway. “Emma told me you had company.”

 

“They’re gone now.”

“And that the man here with Paul made you look fit to spit fire.”

“It was him, Charles, apparently he wanted to apologise.”

“The man who called you…”

“That word, yeah.”

 

“What happened?”

Danielle looked at him. “Why do you care?”

“Because you haven’t told anyone else, you need to talk to someone.”

“Why you, though? Four weeks ago we weren’t even talking.”

“Elle, I know you are still trying to see if I have changed back, but please, I don’t want you to be upset.”

“He tried to apologise, but he didn’t mean it, so I may have used Mac as a way to encourage him to leave and it worked, and Paul left a minute later when he realised I wasn’t going to listen to bullshit.”

“Good.” She frowned as she looked at him. “I mean its good you didn’t give in too easily, about what he said, or didn’t say as the case may be.”

 

“Yeah well, I am just going to go to bed, I’m officially done with today. Thanks for looking after Mac for me.”

“We had a good walk, didn’t we?” Tom scratched the dog’s ear. “You did such a great job with him.”

“My dad was a big part of that, he used have me look after the sickest puppies, I was lucky, they tended to survive.”

“I think you don’t give yourself enough credit, I think it was something you did.” Tom smiled fondly. “I better get some sleep too, I am up at all hours.”

“Rather you than me.” Danielle winced, thinking of his day ahead. “And thank you for checking up on me.”

 

“anytime.” He grinned; satisfied she was alright after everything. When he arrived at his mothers, Emma was waiting inside the door. “I…”

“What is going on Tom, it is clearly not okay, Elle is not okay.”

“I am sure Elle will tell you, but she is just pissed off at the moment, just wait for her to explain it,” Tom stated. “And don’t text her, she is going to bed.”

“She said she wasn’t tired.”

“Well apparently she is done with today, so I would think that means her watching YouTube video’s until she dozes off,” Tom called down, as he ascended the stairs.

 

*

 

Paul 10:35pm– I really am sorry Danni, I wish I knew how to show you how much I am.

 

Danielle 10:43pm – I know you are, your apology actually was heartfelt, but his wasn’t, I am not sure I can deal with you being friends with such a man.

 

Paul 10:45pm– He can be an idiot sometimes.

 

Danielle 10:47pm– That is not being an idiot, that is being a racist; there’s a huge difference.

 

Paul 10:51pm– Danni, I would do anything for you.

 

Danielle 11:03pm– I don’t want you to, that’s the issue.

 

Paul 11:04pm– I don’t understand.

 

Danielle 11.16pm– if you have you have to alter your life to include me in a way that negatively impacts something else Paul, maybe it’s for the best to not continue with this.

 

Paul 11:22pm– Danni, you don’t negatively impact anything, you are the first person I have actually felt anything for since…you are just so…you and I love that, I love what you bring to my life.

 

Danielle 12:13pm – But it is impacting on you. Charles and I are never going to be friends and that is going to put a strain on you. I know he means a lot to you, and that he was there after everything with your ex, and that shows there is some good in him, but what he said and his lack of regret shows me he and I can never get along.

 

Paul 12:16pm– Danni, please, I love you. I know that is not the best declaration of it to you will ever hear, and I know you are really upset with me right now, but I love you, and I want to make this up to you.

 

Paul 01:10am – Shit, Danni, I know that was too sudden and soon for you, I know I shouldn’t have said it, but I wanted, to be honest with you. Please say something.

 

Danielle 01:20 am – I am not sure what I can say to that, to be honest, Paul.

 

Paul 01:29am – Have I ruined everything?

 

Danielle 01:39am – I don’t know.

 

For the rest of the night, Danielle stared at the messages Paul had sent her, her focus fixed on the one where he told her not once, but twice in as many sentences of his feelings for her. Staring at the ceiling above her bed, she thought over the words and how much they clearly meant to Paul. He told her of how Julie had crushed him, of how he took over a year to even try and look at women again, and when he did, the only one that he could see was her. She had known about him liking her for a while, too long really, but she could only see one person herself, which of course was the epitome of idiocy on her behalf, seeing as Tom had never seen her, not in that manner at least. She knew, if she was bring honest, that she only decided to even look at Paul because she was hurt after how Tom had acted, how he had focused in on her being alone too. That caused her to feel guilty, feeling that she had led Paul along, and she only even went to bed with him at all because she was upset over what the Wicked Bitch of the West had bullshitted to the media about her. If she had not been so hurt, could she have found herself with Paul; that she could not answer.

 

Her mind drifted to the afternoon with Emma, Tom and their family, how comfortable and happy she had been, that made her more anxious, because she never felt so at ease with Paul, and she knew that that would be even less likely now with how his supposed friend had treated her, to them; she would never be good enough, and that was not something she wanted to live with. She was not one to get sanctimonious over her career, but she took pride in it, and Charles was pissing all over it. Even thinking of that arrogant shit caused her to get annoyed. She tried not to let her anger at him affect her thoughts, but she couldn’t help it, he was a part of Paul’s life for years. But it came back to her own feelings on Paul and she had, to be honest with herself; there was no guarantee she could ever be as happy with Paul as being around Tom made her, nor could she guarantee that she couldn’t be.

 

Danielle 03:36am – text me when you get this.

 

Paul 03:37am – I’m up.

 

Danielle 03:40am – Can you come over?

 

Paul 03:41am – I’m heading now.

 

*

 

Tom yawned as he put the coffee into the travel mug and quietly made his way through his mother’s home, closing her front door as softly as he could as he left. He looked at Danielle’s as he went down the steps, frowning to see her porch light on at four thirty in the morning, knowing it had not been on when he had left her house the evening before. Thinking little of it, he got into his car and threw his bag in the back seat before turning it on. As he left his mother’s drive he looked into Danielle’s, noticing immediately that there was a second car in it, a car he was convinced was Paul’s. though he could not explain why, his excitement for the day ahead dissipated and he felt a pang of jealousy rip through him as he drove off.

Chapter Text

“Well?” Tom asked nervously.

“It’s going down a storm.” Luke beamed back. “I mean, there are few critics that are commenting that it is a bit ‘S&M’, but your fans, they are going nuts. We are very much back to pre-Her levels.”

“She has a name you know, you sound like someone in Harry Potter.”

“How do you know about Harry Potter?”

“I go on more flights than I do car journeys; I have seen all of the movies.” Tom shrugged.

“Yes well, I rather not evoke the spirit of the devil if I can.”

“You are hilarious,” Tom commented in a deadpan voice.

“What’s biting your ass today, tired?”

“No, well, a little, but just…”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Tom?”

“How could she take him back?”

“Who?” Luke looked at his friend in utter bewilderment.

“Danielle.”

“I’m lost,” Luke admitted. “How does Ms. Hughes even equate into anything?”

“He was at her house this morning.”

“Who?”

“Her boyfriend.”

“Okay, now I am completely and utterly lost.” Luke decided to forget to try and understand what Tom was saying.

“Danielle, her boyfriend didn’t defend her when his friend made a racist remark about her, which upset her so much she got a migraine, and then she said she threw them out when they came to her house, but then this morning when I was leaving, his car was there,” Tom explained; Luke just stared at him silently. “What?”

“Why do you care what happens with Danielle and her boyfriend?”

“Because he upset her.”

“Tom, what is this really about?”

Tom frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Why are you really getting bothered by what she is doing?” Tom said nothing, instead of waiting for Luke to continue. “Is it in any way to do with being jealous?”

“Why would I be jealous?”

Luke sighed in frustration at the genuine oblivious look on Tom’s face. “Never mind, clearly you haven’t figured out your own little crush on her.”

“Who?”

“Danielle.” Luke realised there was no way to avoid what was about to be discussed. “You have something of a crush on Ms. Hughes, why, I am not sure, she is smart and hardworking, definitely, but she is also normal, something you have not had in your life in so long.”

“I don’t have a…” Tom stopped talking when Luke raised a brow.

“Then why has everything you discussed regarding Ms. Hughes of late been in regards to her relationship status, and why are you particularly bothered by her having a partner stay overnight in her home?” He challenged.

“I…”

“Look Tom, you have had this little flame for her for a while, and at first, I thought it was harmless, and even with your less than ideal situation of late, I thought it had fizzled out, most crushes do, but it is actually after increasing hasn’t it, and the fact that for the first time since I can recall, Ms. Hughes has a partner, you are finally figuring this out yourself.”

“What…I…”

“Go home Tom, get a good rest for yourself, and try and let this…thing out of your head. Since she is willing to forgive an apparently horrible act, I do not think this can end well for you should you pursue it.” Luke stated sadly. “She clearly loves him, and I know that hurts to hear, but you are only going to annoy yourself more if you hold onto something like this.”

“It’s not like her, she seemed so angered by what happened,” Tom stated weakly.

“Well, they most have worked passed it then. Compromise and forgiveness are a huge part of relationships.”

“How do you compromise on racism?” Tom asked.

“You don’t, but you said he was not the racist party, so perhaps serious grovelling and showing remorse has aided him.” Luke shrugged.

“I…” Tom swallowed. “Luke…”

“Just go home, have a nice Jameson, and read over the script that I know you got, I think it would suit you and your repertoire very well,” Luke suggested with a friendly smile.

“And Danielle?”

“That I cannot help you with Tom, but there is something I can say. She is a paramedic, and I am not saying that as a bad thing, but she is not of ‘your world’ she is normal, and that doesn’t last in your business, you know that. Actors need to be with people in their industry, they need people who understand the entire press tours, invasion of privacy and away for four months shooting, they don’t last with blue collar workers, they can’t, they are too different, and you know that. I think that is why you want her, because she is not what you need, just something you know in your own head you should not have.” Luke explained. “Besides, she has someone; you already have been half blamed for the whole Elizabeth and Holbrook, not to mention Her and Harris, don’t have your name dragged through the dirt for normal couples too, that is when people really get judgmental.”

“But they are so wrong together.”

“What does he work at again?”

“He’s a doctor in some A&E.”

“So a paramedic and a doctor are a terrible match, but the paramedic and the actor are a great one?” Luke looked at him sceptically. “I know you are a little in love with her in your own head, but that is not going to work Tom, and what’s worse is, inside, you know that.”

“What am I going to do Luke?” Tom asked in exasperation.

“Nothing,” Luke replied bluntly. “If you really like this girl, you leave her to try to be happy with someone that seems to make her somewhat so.”

“But…”

“There are no buts, Tom, leave her be happy.” Not even saying anything, Tom stormed out of the office, not saying anything else to Luke as he left; Luke sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. “This is not going to be an issue at all.” He commented sarcastically to himself.

*

“Ms. Hughes, a moment please.” Her supervisor requested when she was eating in the staff hall.

“What have you done now Hughes?” One of her co-workers joked.

“He probably pre-empting my murdering you some day Davis for being an absolute ass.” She retorted, earning a few chuckles and laughs as she left the room. “Yes, sir?”

“I got a request in from the Granada, apparently they heard the BBC were satisfied with your work on that shoot of theirs, they also are aware of your extensive study and qualifications for the past two years, and have asked for you to be available to head to Manchester.”

“Granada, Sir?” the name did not ring a bell with Danielle.

“Yes, Granada, they are the company that owns the rights to Coronation Street. You don’t strike me as a soap fan, but surely you know what Coronation Street is? You have that in Ireland too, don’t you?”

“Yes sir, it was something of a constitution when I was a child; and according to people I am still in contact with on Facebook, it still is.”

“Well, they have their usual, end of year catastrophe coming up, some tragic event where they will probably kill off some member of the cast, and they are asking for you.”

“That’s cool.”

“That’s a little more than cool.” Jones chuckled. “You are expected to be there next week for close to a month, it’s apparently a big thing, comes with a NonDisclosure Agreement and everything.” He handed her the paperwork required and sat back in his chair. “Looks like everything you have been working towards is coming your way Danielle, congratulations, I hope you are delighted with yourself, you have worked so hard on it.”

“I am, it was worth it all; it was no major sacrifice.”

“Your whole twenties spent working like a dog, I would think that would have been too great of one for most your age.”

“And that is why they are still in their little office hating their job at fifty.” She smiled.

“What is your greatest fear, Hughes?”

“Regret, regret at not giving it everything, and leaving something on the table, of never getting where I can because I never worked for it.” She answered.

“I read a line of an article recently where the subject said something very similar.”

Danielle gave a small wink, “Well, for the record, I said it first, he simply copied it.” She smiled as she left. Going to her locker, she took out her phone and groaned at seeing Paul’s number in her missed calls, the thought of a month away made her feel relief, cementing her belief that her actions that morning were the right ones. She knew it was hard for him, she had seen the heartache in his eyes when she had his belongings ready for him in her living room to bring with him, but Paul was not who she wanted or needed. She knew she would never get who she wanted, so she needed to get over that. Going into her message options, she composed a message, telling Paul that she was not going to be in Suffolk for the foreseeable future, her career was now elsewhere. She hoped it would give him the break he needed, and allow her to suffer her own, somewhat more obscure broken heart.

When she put the phone in her belt and grabbed her gear to go and deal with a callout, she noticed he had not responded. She gave a small relieved smile, and cleared her head, ready for what she had to do for her night.

Chapter Text

Ain’t no Sunshine when she’s gone

 

Tom found himself humming along to the song that was currently playing on his radio as he finished rinsing the protein shaker under the tap, cursing that he had to bulk up for another role, hating the long, strenuous process. As he began to sing the lyrics, a face came to his mind and he stopped singing; Danielle. He had not heard from her since he had left his mother’s six weeks before, he had not had the courage to ask her what happened with Paul, nor had he the restraint to hold back when she would inevitably tell him that she had forgiven him and taken him back. His curiosity getting the better of him, he went onto her Facebook page, hoping to see something there. Danielle was not the sort of woman to put up a hundred photos of her life or to put posts that cryptically made reference to her relationships, so he knew whatever it was he would find would be accurate. What he saw made him swallow hard.

 

There were several photos of her in a city, it wasn’t London, but familiar enough for him to recognise places, then one photo really caught his attention, a picture of her outside a football stadium and the caption ‘The place responsible for Wayne Rooney, level it’ and he recognised it immediately as Manchester. She was smiling happily and laughing in the photos, but all that went through his mind was the fact that someone had to be holding the camera, and only one person came to mind for that.

 

He was about to click off and throw his phone onto the sofa when a notification came up that she had changed her profile picture. As though wanting to have his heart torn from his chest, he clicked on it, wincing as he looked. It was her, sitting on what appeared to be the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. Her caption was simply ‘Bow down, Bitches’ and in it, he realised there was a few people tagged in the photo, all of whom he had never heard her mention before, but one name, he recognised. He clicked on it and realised he knew the man from his time on The Hollow Crown and War Horse, he was the stunt coordinator, Rowley Irlam, frowning, he wondered how Danielle had come to befriend him. A post on Rowley’s page caught his eye and he stared at the photo of Danielle, who had her arm around Rowley and another woman, all three smiling into the camera, the drinks on the table in front of them telling him it was some form of party; the caption caught his attention somewhat, ‘The newest member of the Behind The Scene geniuses that makes this great production possible, our new Safety Officer, Danielle Hughes, Keep us safe Danni.’ Tom stared at the words in front of him, ‘Safety Officer’ when had this happened, why did he not know about it? His mother and sister never mentioned anything, and usually, they were the first to discuss anything interesting in Danielle’s life.

 

He was about to ring his mum when his phone lit up in his hand, Benedict’s name greeting him. Sliding it to answer, he put it up to his ear. “Please tell me you’re in London.” Ben’s voice came over the line.

 

Tom chuckled slightly, “I am; you sound stressed.”

 

“I am selling this blasted house and moving to a remote mountain, where I have no neighbours, no moaning and no blasted complaining.” The older actor ranted.

 

“Still having issues with the boiler I take it?”

 

“I am going to pull the bloody thing off the wall. I am fit to strangle something.”

 

“Want to meet for lunch?” Tom offered, wanting to get out of his own head.

 

“I can’t, I have to wait for an engineer to come out, you’d think that in 2016 all you would have to do is just pull it out, get a proper one put in and not have anyone complain, but no, apparently getting a house done up in North London is nigh on an infringement on Human Rights on your neighbours.”

 

“You seem stressed.”

 

“No, really? Thank you for that Tom, I would never have gathered I was stressed.”

 

“Are Sophie and Christopher around or have they fled to somewhere less stressful, like Syria?”

 

“You are hilarious, no they are…I think she said Somerset or something, I was so stressed with this, I wasn’t paying full attention, don’t tell her that.”

 

“I am totally telling her that.”

 

“Asshole.” Ben retorted deadpan. “She is with her brother for the weekend, and thankfully so, they don’t need to be around this.” He sighed deeply before continuing. “Please keep me company.”

 

“Fine, I’ll have to see if Elle knows anyone who has riot gear, then I’ll be over.”

 

“I rather if she knew someone with Valium at this point.”

 

“I am sure she knows some.” Tom groused.

 

“What’s that about?”

 

“What?”

 

“Your attitude, what’s up?”

 

“Nothing, I will be there soon, don’t tear up the boiler or kill a neighbour.”

 

“I’ll try, but I make no promises.” Ben hung up and Tom grabbed his jacket, not caring about changing his slightly messy clothes, considering he was going to Benedict’s semi construction site of a home.

 

*

 

“It’s not too bad.” Tom looked around.

 

“It still looks like a shithole,” Benedict argued. 

 

“You only have the boiler to deal with really.”  Tom pointed out.

 

“I can’t put in the new central heating until I do that, and that means pulling up floorboards.”

 

“And this is why I would never buy a house not already to my specification,” Tom commented. “It’ll get done.”

 

“Not if next door has anything to do with it, they are complaining mad, going on to the newspapers about it and everything. If they just gave me a month of work, I would have it sorted and there would be nothing more on it.” Benedict put on the kettle, “as it stands, I can’t get anywhere near sorted.”

 

“What do they have as their complaint?”

 

“It is disrupting the peace and tranquillity of the neighbourhood. If the daft cow did anything other than sitting on her arse all day, it wouldn’t even bother her.”

 

“Ben.”

 

“What? It’s true.” Ben argued, putting the hot water into the mugs. “I know I am being an ass, but I am just so pissed about it, I just want it done, I mean, I bought this when Sophie was pregnant, we thought it would be done before the wedding, much less when Christopher was born.”

 

“How is he?”

 

“Growing like a weed, seriously, do children ever stop?”

 

“I can only say from the point of view of an uncle, but from my experience, no, it appears not.” He gave a small smile.

 

Benedict gave him an analytical look. “What’s going on?” 

 

“What?”

 

“Something is eating you, what is it?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Liar.” Benedict eyed him carefully, “Whatever it is, you are better off saying it now, here in my house where you have some privacy, not explode it out in public later where you will be heard by everyone.”

 

“What are you on about?”

 

“You hold stuff in and ruminate on it until finally, it becomes too much for you and you effectively eject out whatever it is that is bothering you on the nearest person, so spill, what is it?”

 

“Elle.”

 

“And what about her?”

 

“She is in Ireland.”

 

“And?”

 

“Why?”

 

“Well, I may be grasping at straws here, but it may have something to do with the fact that Danielle is Irish, and since it is only about a couple hundred kilometres to out left, it would not be too extreme an idea for her to go there from time to time.”

 

“Do you remember Rowley Irlam?”

 

“The name rings a bell.” Ben thought hard of the name.

 

“He was the stunt coordinator on War Horse.”

 

“Ah yes, and Hollow Crown too.”

 

“That guy, he has a post on Facebook.”

 

“People tend to do that on Facebook,” Benedict was unsure what that had to do anything.

 

“With Danielle.”

 

“Right?”

 

“Saying she is a new member of a team.”

 

“Well, that makes perfect sense considering…Wait, you don’t know, do you?”

 

“Know what?”

 

“That is why she was on set on Sherlock.”

 

“What?”

 

“Danielle was working on the set of Sherlock as part of an interview for a job as a Safety Officer, apparently she has been studying for it since she came here.”

 

“What, she never said anything like that to me.” Tom became indignant.

 

“She was only really able to apply for things in the past few months apparently. It was sort of hard for her to tell you when you were not talking to her.”

 

“She never mentioned it before, when she was studying, I could have helped her.”

 

“Exactly.” Ben pointed out. “She didn’t want your help, she wanted to get there by herself, and not name drop. Besides, dropping your name and mine doesn’t help in production, we come with a nice big fat ‘P’ stamped on us, remember?”

 

Tom gave a grunt in response. “How do you know all this?”

 

“I asked her that time on set, I asked her why she was there, she explained everything to me, and when the stunt coordinator was talking to her, he said he had a friend that would be interested in her help for something in Coronation Street, I told her to tell me how she got on, apparently she did well, and said about heading home for a few weeks.

 

“She was on the set of Game of Thrones.”

 

Benedict took out his phone and typed for a moment. “Irlam is the stunt co-ordinator for it.”

 

“So she is on the set there?”

 

“Atta girl Danielle.” Benedict commended.

 

“She is doing well.”

 

“Are you surprised?”

 

“She never mentioned anything to me.”

 

“When were you last talking to her?”

 

“The last time I was home, about six weeks ago.”

 

Ben groaned. “What did you argue about this time?”

 

“Nothing, we didn’t argue.”

 

“Then why weren’t you talking?”

 

“Because I…it doesn’t matter.” Benedict gave Tom a sceptical look. “What?”

 

“Nothing.” He stated shaking his head.

 

“You sound like Luke.”

 

“Do I want to ask?”

 

“Luke is implying I am in lust with her and need to get over myself, that it will never work, she’s too normal and that’s why I want her.”

 

“I think it is a bit more than lust if I’m honest,” Benedict commented. “What do you think?”

 

“I think I…I have no idea,” Tom admitted.

 

“I think you need to get yourself sorted.”

 

“She has a boyfriend.”

 

“And? No offence to the guy, but he’s not Tom Hiddleston.” Benedict grinned.

 

“You are not helping me through this at all,” Tom growled.

 

“I want my friend to be happy, remember, I have said that to you before.”

Chapter Text

Danielle Hughes is online.

 

TH – So, what’s this about you being a Safety Officer?

 

DH – Well hello to you too stranger, is there a reason you have not spoken to me in, say a month and a half?

 

TH – Communication goes two ways Hughes.

 

DH – Touché. As for the job, I didn’t want you insisting you would try to help, because you know Irlam, and he is the guy to know. I wanted it to be off my hard work, no one elses.

 

TH - That’s fair enough, I can respect that. How is it going there?

 

DH – Well Coronation Street wasn’t really my sort of thing, I mean, the work was interesting, but I wasn’t invested, but now…I know what happens next season.

 

TH - Tease.

 

DH – I swear, if there wasn’t an NDA the size of most US states after being thrown down my throat, I would tell you.

 

TH – I know that feeling, Disney is the worst with the Marvel Franchise.

 

DH – Speaking of Disney, guess who is working on the Beauty and the Beast AND The Lion King!!!!!!!

 

TH – The number of exclamation marks kinda gave you away, just a warning. ;)

 

DH – Yeah, but I am just so excited, and I can actually half talk to you about this. You know Emma Watson, don’t you?

 

TH – Well I’m honoured, I know Emma a bit, she is another one of Luke’s clients so we have spoken a few times, very intelligent and professional.

 

DH – Shut up you twat, I haven’t met her yet, but no doubt I will soon, they are doing read over's already.

TH – No really Elle, I am so delighted for you. Did you tell mum yet?

 

DH – Not yet, I know she is going to go all “My adoptive baby is all gone” you know her.

 

TH – Yeah, I got that treatment already, but she will want this for you Elle. How is Paul about it?

 

Tom cursed himself for typing it, he was so concerned with trying to talk to her, he had typed it before thinking it over. She did not respond for several minutes.

 

DH – I guess he wasn’t thrilled, but this is everything I have worked so hard for, I can’t give it up for anyone.

 

TH – I know that feeling too.

 

DH – I swear I am not trying to get rid of you Tom, but we have a scene I have to check over, I will talk to you soon okay? 6 Weeks is too long between chats.

 

Danielle Hughes has logged off.

 

Tom stared at the screen in front of him; part of him thought she was simply trying to get rid of him, but her inclusion at the end that she wanted to talk to him again soon lifted his spirits. He wondered what she meant regarding Paul, it did not seem like things were on good terms on that front; he knew he couldn’t press to much, that would not be appropriate, especially since she knew his stance on the doctor since the racial comment situation, but the fact that there had clearly been some form of issue regarding her new semi-nomadic lifestyle meant the relationship had not fallen at the first hurdle, much to his annoyance.

 

*

 

“Danni.” Danielle winced at the use of that name; she was never overly fond of it when Paul called her it, but when her new workmates began to call her it, she never corrected them, leaving her in the position now where she felt she had to leave it go. “A penny for your thoughts.” Robert Boake, the locations manager called.

“If you heard them, you’d offer thousands for me to retract them.” She commented, putting down her phone and turning to him.

 

The older man chuckled. “You are Irish, right?”

“Last I checked.”

“Where can I get cliffs?”

“It’s an island nation, you’re not exactly stuck for options.” He gave her a scolding look. “What kind?”

 

“Big, but not overly populated by tourists, no land off in the distance.”

“Well Cliffs of Moher are too popular, getting them closed would be a terrible pain in the ass, I suppose most areas are good, there are some near Dublin, but that’s the main shipping lane route, up these areas Scotland is in the distance for a lot of it, South isn’t great for cliffs, I suppose you could go to Clare, Kilkee has some good cliffs if I am not mistaken, at least from what I can remember from when I was a kid, windy, vast, and easily as good as Moher.”

 

“How do you spell that?” Boake began typing into Google.

 

“K-I-L-K-E-E.” she stated, waiting for his reaction.

 

“Fuck me, they’re perfect.” He beamed. “How far are they from here?”

“Couple of hours drive.”

“Brilliant, pack an overnight, we are off to this place. Someone get my PA, we need rooms booked in a nearby hotel.”

“Wait, I’m coming?” Danielle looked at him.

 

“We are going to be shooting there, of course you are needed.” He stated as though it the most obvious thing in the world.

 

“Right, when are we heading?”

“Tomorrow, at the latest.”

 

“Well then, I better go back to my hotel room after this scene and get a bag, you know my number to give me the details.” Danielle smiled as she went back to work.

 

“Thank you Danni, I’ll have Sandra get onto to you when everything is sorted.”

 

*

“I spoke to Danielle.” Tom stated.

 

“Hello to you too.” Benedict sat down across from him, his freshly ordered coffee in his hand. “And what says the object of your desire?”

“Shut up.” Tom hissed, looking around, though no one seemed to be giving the two famous actors a second glance.

 

“You are the one to even make reference to her, it’s how you greeted me.” Benedict argued. “And what had she to say?”

“She is happy, really happy, and has a few jobs lined up.” Tom smiled.

 

“Good, I’m glad for her.”

“But she is still seeing Paul.”

“How did that come up?”

“I asked her what he thought of her new busier lifestyle.”

“And the response?”

“None too pleased.”

Benedict raised his mug. “Trouble in paradise.”

“She is in Ireland at the moment; her Facebook said she was somewhere down Southwest, looks gorgeous, but wet and windy.”

 

“That could literally be a description of anywhere in that country or this.” Benedict scoffed. “I always thought it looked a lot like Scotland.”

 

“She is off to wherever they are filming Beauty and the Beast next.”

“Right.”

“And the Lion King after that.”

“Is there any Disney Movie they aren’t remaking?”

“Doesn’t seem like it.”

“She is really going places.” Benedict smiled.

 

“What am I going to do?”

“You really want my opinion?”

“Yes; hence why I am asking you.” Tom stated as though obvious.

 

“Did you make any friends in Ireland when you were there?”

“Irons, he has a castle there.”

“Is it near where she is?”

“I have no idea.”

“I think it’s time you checked, and also see if Mr Irons is free for a small chat, preferably within a few meters of wherever it is that Danielle is working.”

 

“That seems a little stalkerish.”

“You are the one stalking her Facebook page, and seem to know her every move. If you leave it too long, she will reconcile properly with Dr Prick Head or be fair game to whoever in production thinks they can bag a young intelligent woman for themselves.”

“You don’t think she is good looking?” Tom noted his lack of any visual term.

 

Benedict put his hands up. “I am not answering that, she is your crush and I am a married man, there is no way I can answer that without pissing off two very important people in my life.”

“I’ll tell Sophie you called Danielle a younger sexy her.”

 

“If you do that, I swear to God Hiddleston, I will fucking kill you.”

“I can’t take that statement seriously from you, you’re a Buddhist.” Tom scoffed.

Chapter Text

TH – Danielle is coming home this weekend, she was asking if I am around because she wants to tell mum about her going away for another three months, what do I do?

 

BC – Why are you asking me this like a teenage girl?

 

TH – Ben, please!

 

BC – Are you working this weekend?

 

TH – No.

 

BC – Well then, go to your mums and spend time with her.

 

TH – What is Dr. Prick is there?

 

BC – You need to accept he probably is going to be if she is home for the first time in a few weeks.

 

TH – How will I not kill him? After what he did, or didn’t do. He doesn’t deserve her.

 

BC – Being in prison is not good for your career, and after what you told me, he’s not worth the jail time anyway. Just show her you are the better option.

 

TH – Right.

 

TH – How?

 

BC – I don’t know, you know what she is interested in, use that.

 

TH – I just told her I will be there to help her. Why am I so scared?

 

BC – I have no idea, perhaps because you lost your balls over the summer when you wore that fucking awful t-shirt.

 

TH – Cumberbatch!

 

BC – Well you asked. What’s the game plan?

 

TH – I have no idea, what am I going to do?

 

BC – You really have it bad, don’t you?

 

TH – Why is this happening?

 

BC – Now you are really like a teenager, look, Tom, you are human, you want someone who knows you for the ass you really are, and despite your greatest efforts to make her run for the hills, she is still there willingly, and that actually matters to you. She is understanding and motivated, she doesn’t need to be mollycoddled and she is independent, everything you want.

 

TH – I am sensing a ‘but’ here. What if she doesn’t see me like that?

 

BC – Then you have to accept that.

 

TH – I could ruin everything.

 

BC – You said to me recently what your greatest fear is, yet you are willing to risk not being with the woman that could make you happy? Are you sure you mean what you said in that interview?

 

TH – There’s a huge difference.

 

BC – I don’t see it. She is something you want, and you have to do what you always do Tom and work damn hard to put everything you have into this.

 

TH – You make it sound easy.

 

BC – Nothing in relation to love is easy. You think marriage and having children is easy? This is the hardest fucking thing I have ever done in my life. Sophie and Kit are everything to me, but there are still days I am thinking “How the fuck am I supposed to do this?” It is never easy Tom, the best things never are. 

 

TH – Very philosophical Benny.

 

BC – Damn right, I am the brains of this outfit after all.

 

TH – I can sense your smugness from here.

 

BC – Good luck Tom.

 

*

 

“Hello.” Tom jumped slightly, not expecting Danielle to be so chirpy when she opened the door to him, before giving him a tight hug. “Long time no see, stranger.”

Tom took a moment to hug her back, loving the smell of her strawberry shampoo. “I know, a busy woman now, hopefully, you still have time for us small-timer’s.” He smiled, earning an elbow to the ribs for reciting back the lines she had said to him after the Avengers movie.

 

“What sort of mood is your mum in?”

“A good one.” Danielle winced slightly. “She will want this for you, Elle.”

 

“I just don’t know how I am going to tell her, she has been so good to me.” Danielle sighed.

 

“It’s best to just come out with it, she’ll know as soon as she sees you that you want to tell her something, it is best just blurt it out,” Tom advised. “I spent about a day trying to find a way to tell her, by the end she was so frustrated with me, I could have told her I murdered half of my college and she was just relieved I finally said it that she didn’t care what I had to say.” Tom put his arm around her shoulder as he edged her towards his mothers, partly to urge her on, sensing her reluctance and partly because he simply wanted an excuse to touch her. 

“What am I going to do with Mac Tíre?” She looked at her dog, who was standing at the gate to her back garden, wagging his tail cheerfully. “I can’t just leave him.”

 

Tom looked at her. “Elle, if you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to do it, I’m sure you can go back to the ambulance depot and they will welcome you back with open arms, but if you really want this, you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone, and yes, that means leaving Mac with mum while your away.”

“He’s going to think I am abandoning him.”

 

“You know mum will look after her. Do you really want this?”

Danielle sighed. “Yes.” 

“Then why the excuses?” he looked down at her, noting the look on her face. “What are you scared of?”

 

“I’m not…” When she looked at him, she ceased. “What if I fuck up?”

“Then you'll ruin a multi-thousand dollar scene, and perhaps be the reason a famous actor is permanently disabled.” She stared at him in utter horror. “I am joking Elle.” 

“I…”

“You need to calm down, surely you are not the only safety officer on set.”

“Yes, I am.” 

“Who do you liaise with?”

 

“Stunt crew, stunt coordinator, emergency personnel, director, producers, everyone involved in the scene.” 

“With that many people involved, you are not going to singlehandedly ruin everything, so relax.” Tom smiled kindly, opening his mother’s front door. “We should have a drink to celebrate your new found success.”

 

“Can I ask you a weird question?”

“Shoot.” 

“What is the deal with crews going out and drinking themselves stupid, I mean, is there ever a situation where the ‘getting to know one another’ doesn’t involve copious amounts of alcohol?”

“Seldom, those are usually the serious meetings, and they include eating in overpriced restaurants. Why, did you get drunk and think you screwed up?”

“No, I was actually over cautious, I didn’t want to have anyone have anything to say about me, so I slowly sipped three drinks all night.” 

“Smart girl, I feel like sometimes they use those situations as little tests, especially in big productions like Marvel, to see if you blurt out anything when you are drunk. Being cautious and tight-lipped goes a long way in the film.” Tom commended.

 

“And what does lunch dates tell them?”

 

“I suspect that they use them to see if you drink at lunch time, as though trying to figure out if you have an over-liking of alcohol.”

 

“Ah, I see.” 

“You seemed to have some fun on your nights out.”

“I was being polite; there are a few nice people, but like every other job…”

“There are ass-lickers, brown-nosers, and egotistical idiots? The industry is full of them.” 

“I am hoping to channel my inner you.” Tom frowned at her. “Be nice to everyone.”

“Some people make it very hard to be.” 

“That’s an understatement.”

 

Tom took Danielle’s hand in his. “You ready?”

 

“She’s going to hate me.”

Giving her a small squeeze. “Never, none of us ever could, we adore you Danielle, and you know that.”

 

 

Chapter Text

The longer Danielle sat by his side, the more Tom wanted her to remain there. Diana, as expected, was heartbroken and happy for the girl she had seen slave through years of study and exams. “You are going to do brilliantly sweetheart, just like Tom.”

“Well, I will be staying very much behind the camera,” Danielle commented.

“I have an idea.” Tom declared. “I am taking you two lovely ladies out to dinner.”

“Wonderful.” Diana smiled.

Danielle looked uncertain. “What…if there are any…”

Tom swallowed, “With her gone, they don’t come around anymore, Suffolk is, once more, calm and quiet.”

“Well then, if you’re buying.” She smiled, earning the megawatt smile Tom had for when he was at his happiest. “So, where to?”

“Manzoni’s?” He suggested.

“Just because you have no mortgage, doesn’t mean you should take one out to eat in a stupidly overpriced restaurant.” Danielle looked him up and down.

“Come on, Elle, you deserve fine dining in celebration of your huge career change.” He urged.

“I can’t, seriously Tom, it’s too much.”

“Elle, I missed your birthday, I have been an unmitigated ass to you this year, and I really need to thank you for…well, that other thing, so please, please let me do this; I know how much you love their carbonara.”

“You know nothing Hiddleston.”

“Yes I do, Emma said you practically made sex noises at the table when you ate there before,” Tom whispered into her ear as soon as Diana left the room to get ready to go out. Danielle went puce red at his words, the deep timber of his voice sending a shudder down her spine in a way that could be very much be accused of being sinful as she looked to the ground, not wanting him to see the embarrassment on her face. “Elle.” The manner in which he spoke her name caused her to gasp slightly. “Please.”

“I don’t know if I…” she looked at him, her eyes focusing on the icy blue and green specks of his. “I…” She forgot the art of speech for a moment, as his eyes focused back on hers. “Yes.”

His pupils widened fractionally and a glimmer of brightness added to them at her agreement. “Thank you.”

“I think I should get changed.”

“You look perfect as you are.”

“I don’t think I am to their dress code Tom, I am in my normal clothes.”

“I know, your River Island black jeans, your favourite t-shirt, your grey and black open cardigan and your, what appear to be yet another pair of Converse, how many pairs of black converse can one girl own?” He asked, his voice affectionate, his eyes not once leaving hers as he spoke.

“I just buy new of the same…you didn’t even look at my clothes there.”

“I looked at them when you opened your door.” He smiled.

“I…”

“Are we ready?” Diana came back into the room and froze as she realised the peculiar tension between her son and neighbour, both still sitting next to each other, and both staring into one another’s eyes.

Tom’s stare was the first to break; he turned to his mother and smiled. “Yes, we are. I just convinced Danielle to come, she was somewhat reluctant.” He rose to his feet, rubbing his hands off his pants as he did; glad they were dark enough to hide the sweatiness of his palms from his nerves at being so close to Danielle.

“I see.” Diana looked between them again, still paying attention to the tension that surrounded them. “Well, you can drive there, but I will drive home, my doctor said I shouldn’t mix alcohol with my medication.”

“What medication?” both demanded immediately in unison, their previous nervousness immediately dissolved.

“I had a small ear, nose and throat infection last week; I am on decongestants for it.” She dismissed.

“What ones?” Danielle asked.

“I can’t remember the name; they are made by that Pfizer company.”

“Yeah, no alcohol for you.” Danielle agreed, Tom listening to her and nodding.

“I was not aware paramedics are so up-to-date on pharmacy stuff.”

“Pharmacology? Yes, we need to know the ones that react badly together, and some react very badly, decongestants, plus alcohol equals a stoned effect and very bad issues with blood pressure, not a nice combo.” She explained to him.

“Well then, it’s settled, into the car you two.” Diana ushered them out the door of her house and towards Tom’s car. “Tom darling, your car is in the way, so we’ll take it.”

“Is there anyone not trying to drive my car?” He stated in exasperation, opening the passenger side door for his mother.

Danielle raised her hand. “I don’t.” Tom looked at her; there was some form of offence on his face as he did. “I would be terrified to drive it, sitting in it, however, well, that is another thing entirely.” She beamed as she got into the back seat. “Are these things heated?”

Tom closed the door on the passenger side before heading to the driving seat. “They are.”

“Fancy prick.” She grumbled under her breath. “Ow!” She yelped immediately after since Diana had reached back and pinched her leg.

“Mind how you speak of my wonderful son.” Diana chastised.

“Ha ha, Ow!” Tom went from chiding Danielle to yelping himself as Diana clipped the back of his head. “Mum.”

“And you mind how you provoke my favourite neighbour, she is like a daughter to me.”

“Sorry mum.” Both stated at the same time, causing Diana to glance between them and for both to erupt in giggles.

“Two five-year-olds, that’s what you are like.” Diana sighed, shaking her head.

“Tom started it,” Danielle stated lowly.

“Did not.” He retorted.

“Dear God, drive boy, before I lose my patience altogether,” Diana ordered.

*

The meal was a pleasant affair, and as Tom had predicted, Danielle had gone for the carbonara, and both having finished almost two bottles of wine between them.

“I regret the drinking.” Danielle groaned as Diana went to the bathroom. “Why did I drink fancy wine?” She held up the bottle. “I am going to kill you in the morning.”

“No one forced you to drink it, you’d think the food would have helped,” Tom commented. “Though it does seem quite strong.”

“Yep, look at that percentage.”

“Shit, I am not driving anywhere until after lunch.”

“Good plan, I don’t plan on getting up until after lunch.” Danielle declared.

“Better plan.” Tom commended.

Danielle pointed to her feet. “Down there’s for dancing.”

“What the hell does that even mean, you have been saying that since I met you, and I still haven’t figured it out. In fact, it was one of the first things you ever said in my presence.”

“It means we use our feet for dancing and our heads for thinking, obviously.” Danielle chuckled, as though it blatantly clear.

“Elle, thank you for coming out tonight, I am so happy for you.”

“Thanks.” Danielle smiled. “Thank you for helping me with telling your mum, and for the extortionately overpriced meal.”

“My pleasure Elle, I hope I can take you out in London some time, there are some great places there or LA.”

“Maybe.” She gave a small smile. “I am not exactly Hollywood.”

“Two Disney movies are fairly Hollywood.” He gave another grin back. “How is Paul about all of this, shouldn’t you spend time with him when you’re home?”

“Paul is in Africa at the moment. He goes for a couple of weeks every other year as part of a Doctors Without Borders thing. He won’t be back for at least another fortnight.”

“That’s noble of him.”

Danielle nodded. “Yes, it is.” There was a proud smile on her face that caused Tom’s stomach to sink. “So what’s next for you, movie star?”

“Well, thankfully Ragnarok is over, so I am waiting to see if there needs to be any reshoots, then I have a few more ad campaigns to shoot too.” He began.

“Are you home for Christmas?”

“Definitely, you?”

“Four days.”

“Yikes.” He gave a small grimace. “Need a lift from the airport?”

“Isn’t that usually my line?” She smiled back.

Tom chuckled. “Usually, yeah.” Danielle bit her bottom lip as she smiled. “Elle…” she glanced back at him, taking Tom’s breath away.

“We have a small issue.” Diana declared quietly as she came back to them. “You’ve been spotted, darling.” She informed Tom.

“Shit.” Tom leant back. “I’m sorry Elle.” He rose from the chair. “Walk out the door with mum, and walk to the car, I’ll see you there.”

Not entirely sure what to do, Danielle just nodded and got to her feet. “Darling,” she looked to Diana, “Just ignore them and pretend they are not there.”

As Danielle walked out of the restaurant, she realised that was far easier said than done; as a camera flashed at her time and again, the bright light of which blinding her. From what she had seen beforehand, it was only three men, but it felt as though fireworks were erupting around her over and over as they shouted random questions at her and Diana.

“Mrs Hiddleston, did you really approve of Taylor, or was that all part of the act?”

“Mrs Hiddleston, does this girl meet your approval?”

“Are you the girl Tom left Taylor for?”

“Did Tom cheat on Taylor with you?”

“Are you the obsessed paramedic?”

Danielle swallowed hard, her heart pounding in her chest at what they were saying. “Gentlemen, please.” Relief filled her as Tom’s voice from behind them.

“Tom, are you worried about what Taylor will write and sing about you in her next album?”

“Who is the girl Tom, did you leave Taylor for her?”

“I am just having dinner with family, nothing of note, so please, let us enjoy our evening,” Tom asked politely.

“Taylor is saying you cheated on her, what have you to say to that Tom? Is this the girl you cheated with?”

“She is nothing to do with any of this, she is just a friend.”

Danielle just kept walking, passed Tom’s car, and passed the side of the street, her paces fast, and her head down. She thought she heard Tom calling her back, but she kept going, arms tucked in around her. To her relief, the photographers seemed more interested in following the celebrity and not her, so she walked along, sobering up as she went.

She made her way to the taxi depot not too far from the restaurant and asked for a cab, doing everything in her power to not show how upset she was. When she got to her house, she cursed, she had no idea where her purse was, her house keys, phone and money were inside.

A mixture of relief and dread filled her when Tom came out of his mother’s driveway, her purse in hand. He ran straight to the driver’s window and handed him fifty pounds. “Keep the change.” He smiled at the thrilled man before running to Danielle’s door and opening it for her. “Elle.” She took her purse from his hand and walked to her door. “I’m sorry Elle.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” She stated, not looking at him.

“Elle please, look at me.” He begged, following her to her door. “They say that stuff to get a reaction.”

“I gave them none.” She answered coolly.

“Are you mad at me?”

“Why would I be, you did nothing wrong, you brought me for a nice dinner, you came out to try and get them away.”

“Then I don’t understand.”

The words ‘She’s just a friend’ repeated in Danielle’s head. It had never hurt her as deeply before, she knew she would never be anything other than that to him, but Tom physically saying the words hurt. “I just need to get some rest; the wine did me no favours.”

“Why didn’t you come home with us?”

“I wouldn’t have appeared as ‘just a friend’ if I went home with you, would I? That would have added fuel to the fire.”

“Elle, I…I had to say that, they would hound you otherwise.”

“What do you mean ‘had to say that’ that’s all we are, isn’t it? I mean, we’re friends, nothing else, it wasn’t a lie.” she snapped.

Tom felt as though he had taken a kick to the gut. “I…”

“What Tom? What? We’re friends, nothing else; you are the big movie star with blonde, statuesque starlets at your beck and call. Of course they got curious when they saw you with me, I’m nothing like that, I’m no one, the idea that after being with one of the most wealthy and renowned women in the music industry to well, short, plain and anonymous, they must have thought you were having a sort of breakdown.”

“Elle…you’re…”

“Nothing, I’m faceless, and I’m actually okay with that.” her tone was becoming more high pitched as she became more upset.

“You are not ‘nothing’,” Tom argued. “You’re brilliant.”

“Tom.”

“No, you are brave, strong, independent, perfect.” Tom came up close to her, his chest almost against hers. “Elle, you are so much more than what you think you are.” He tucked a few loose strands of her hair behind her ear. “Why can’t you see that?”

“Tom…” she was about to argue with him when Tom leant forward and pressed his lips to hers, silencing her.

For a few moments, Danielle’s mind short-circuited, leaving her silently staring at him, as he tried to deepen the kiss, she reacted in kind, enjoying the feeling of his strong lips against hers, the smell of his cologne filling her nostrils, sending her stomach in a knot with anxious excitement. But when his hand came to her cheek, and he sighed in contentment; she came to her senses. “Tom.”

“Elle.” His voice ghosted against her lips.

“We can’t.”

“Why not?” he groaned when she pulled back from him.

“Tom, you need to leave.”

“Elle.”

“Please.” She swallowed hard, her voice breaking, “Please leave.”

“Elle.”

“Please, Tom.” There was no disguising the upset in her voice.

Heartbroken, Tom nodded and turned from her doorstep, looking at her again when he had taken a few paces. “I’m sorry Elle, I shouldn’t have…and Paul.”

Danielle said nothing with regards to her breakup with the doctor; she only nodded before turning the key in the door and walking inside, closing it behind her and allowing her heartbreak to take over at her pushing away Tom. It had been a mistake on his behalf, surely. She had no idea why he had done it, but she was not what he looked for in a woman, and she knew it. She would never be good enough for him, and she needed to accept that.

Chapter Text

Taylor Swift’s ex seen leaving a local restaurant with mother and mysterious girl.

 

Hiddleston moves on and mother approves.

 

Taylor Swift who? Tom Hiddleston seen with a new mystery girl.

 

Is this the girl Tom Hiddleston cheated on Taylor Swift with?

 

Taylor Swift dumped for more wholesome looking girl?

 

Does Tom need to wear the pants in the relationship? Did he dump Taylor Swift because she was the bigger star?

 

Diana Hiddleston chooses a more acceptable partner for her son.

 

Tom Hiddleston dines with a plain looking woman after splitting from Taylor Swift.

 

Is Tom Hiddleston suffering from self-esteem issues after Taylor Swift split? The A-List seen dining with a plain looking woman and his mother last night, showing his standards have clearly plummeted.

 

Mystery girl cashes in on Tom’s split to bag herself the famous actor.

 

The more Tom read, the more he felt his heart break. Danielle was never going to speak to him again. The more intelligent and highbrow publications had called her ‘wholesome’, and ‘mystery girl’ but the tabloid rags had called her everything from plain to effectively a moraless slut. He regretted his idea to ask her to dinner even more now. Rubbing his eyes, he sighed. Luke’s ringtone buzzed from his phone, so taking a deep breath, he slid his thumb across the screen, he readied himself for whatever his publicist had to say. “Luke?”

“A bit of warning would not have gone astray.” The publicist growled.

 

“I’m sorry, I just…”

“What is our story, what was the real reason for the evening? Diana was there so…”

“I brought mum and Danielle out for dinner, Danielle is after getting a great new job, it was a small celebration, nothing more, I have no idea how they even found us, I mean with Taylor gone…”

“Taylor’s visit alerted the world to where Diana lives; you know that; meaning that there will always be people there now. So you went with the ‘family friend’ statement?”

“Well, that is what Elle is, a close family friend.”

“Well after the ‘bring Swift to meet the mother three days after you met her’ situation, no one is going to believe that.”

“What will we do?”

“Nothing.”

“What?”

“We can do nothing when people don’t see you and Ms. Hughes together again, they will get bored and leave it go. You have met with women before and been photographed only to never be in their company again, this will be no different.” Luke stated as though it was obvious.

 

“But what they are saying about Elle, they are being cruel.”

“They are the tabloid rags, Tom, they will do that about you, they did it about Hemsworth’s wife, Cumberbatch’s, all of them, you just never were on their radar before, but now any girl you salute will be on their radar. Explain it to Ms. Hughes and tell her to keep her head down, it is going to be yesterday’s news by evening.”

 

“What they said Luke…”

“I know Tom.” There was a note of sympathy in the publicist's tone. “As I said before, she is not of this world, so I can only imagine how hurt she is by what they are saying, but she cannot react.”

“They accused her of being my bit on the side last night and she didn’t even blink.”

“Good, she did the right thing. Give her my number if she wants to speak with me, but other than that, just tell her to keep doing that.”

 

“She won’t talk to me.”

there was silence on the line for a moment. “What do you mean?”

“I…she was complete winded by it all, and well, she…I…”

“You what?” Luke asked cautiously.

 

“I kissed her Luke.”

“What?”

“She got a taxi home, and I tried talking to her, but she seemed so clammed up, and I kissed her, and she told me to leave, the way she said it…I ruined everything.”

“Wait, you…Tom, I told you not to pursue this, I told you it couldn’t work.”

“I didn’t think.”  

“Tom, she is seeing another man, she…Jesus, if that ever got out.”

“She would never…”

“What about her boyfriend? If she tells him he could very easily tell everyone, he could very much want to level the score. Fuck.”

“Luke…”

“Do you not have the capacity to think with your head when your cock is involved, what were you thinking?”

“I love her Luke.” More silence met his declaration. “I love her.”

 

“Tom…” There was sympathy in Luke’s voice. “I’m sorry.”

 

“I ruined everything.” Tom felt as though his chest was going to tear open, “Now she won’t even be there as my friend.”

 

Luke had been fit to kill Tom for his brash actions, but as he heard his friend sob at the rejection of the woman he had accidentally fallen in love with, he found himself instead feeling pity for the other man. “She just needs time Tom; she has been there all the time for you, you just need to let her work passed this, give her some space, alright?”

 

“What if…?”

“Don’t think about that man, just come back to London, give her some space, and we’ll see how it plays out, alright?”

“Sure.” Tom didn’t want to leave, but he knew it would hurt more if he was to remain so close to Danielle and she would actively ignore him.

 

*

Danielle looked at the computer screen in front of her. Picture after picture of her, Tom and Diana at the restaurant. Some newspapers had been polite; referring to her as “mystery girl” and “Wholesome” though part of her wondered if that meant they were calling her chubby, but some publications had gone and called her names that caused her to feel like she was choking. Then she thought of Tom’s actions on her front doorstep, clearly, he had had a bit too much to drink and did not think of the consequences. The feel of his lips against hers had caused her to gasp, the soft but firm feel to them, telling her of the dominance that he restrained, which in turn had caused her to feel more aroused.

 

She wanted nothing more than what had happened, but in the state that Tom was in, it was wrong, if he had been sober, she may have allowed it continue, knowing full well that their friendship would have been obliterated, but she had had the experience at the restaurant and the taxi ride home to sober up, he had not. In truth, she was not sure if she would have permitted it then either. Their friendship was now over, Tom would not want anything to so with her now that she had been the reason for his name once more being dragged through the mud, and for the more than berating things the tabloids were saying. She groaned when she thought of what Swift would say, which could only be imminent. She hated Tom, she loathed Danielle, and that could only mean a statement, and who knows what that would entail?

 

Knowing she would have to deal with it, she drained the last of her coffee and got changed into her running gear, wanting to get in a few kilometres before she would have to force herself to speak with Tom. Going to the bathroom, she got the ready, collected Mac Tíre from the garden, and began her jog, blaring her favourite songs as she went.

 

In total, she ran ten kilometres; she finished off by cooling down and walked the last few hundred meters to her house, Mac trotting beside her, elated with his exercise. Taking her headphone out of her ear, she realised a car was somewhere nearby, she could not see any in front of her, so she looked behind, but there was none there either. When she turned again, she swallowed hard at the Jaguar that was now heading towards her, looking at the ground in shame as Tom went by, unable to look him in the eye; not knowing that in the car, Tom was looking at her heartbroken at what had transpired, thinking her not looking at him was because she was disgusted with him. Swallowing back his tears, he took one last look at her, and revved the engine, heading back to London to do as Luke had said, and give her space, hoping that one day, she would forgive him and that with time, he would learn to accept she did not feel the same for him and learn to get passed it.

Chapter Text

Taylor – Tom made me break up with Calvin; the worst mistake I could ever make.

 

Taylor holds head high after Hiddleston’s secret lover revealed.

 

Taylor broke off relationship when she suspected Hiddleston’s affections lay elsewhere.

 

Taylor Swift – “I knew there was something going on.”

 

Tom Hiddleston’s secret girlfriend, the real reason Taylor left him.

 

Taylor Swift “I feel used.”

 

Tom Hiddleston, Taylor Swift 2016: Actor Lied About Calvin Harris To Solo the ‘Bad Blood’ Singer?

 

Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris Split after Tom Hiddleston Lied about the DJ.

 

Tom Hiddleston Is a First Class Home-wrecker.

 

Taylor Swift: Tom Hiddleston Was the Reason Why She Dumped Calvin Harris.

 

 

 

Tom stared at the headlines that faced him before rubbing his face with his hands, sighing, and then groaning in frustration. He knew Taylor would say something, but he had not expected this. “So I am a Home Wrecker, a user, and abusive?”

 

Luke bit his tongue for a moment, knowing no good could come from him saying that the moment Tom introduced himself to the star; he was on course for terrible accusations against him once it all ended. “Apparently, yes.”

 

“Does anyone believe this?”

 

“A few, mostly fools who think that the woman is incapable of wrongdoing and blindly follow everything the brat says solely based on the fact she donates money to some good causes.”

 

“What?”

 

“I have had people watching social media; apparently her generous nature regarding charity absolves her from any faults as an individual.”  Luke scoffed. “There are too many fools in the world.”

 

“What are the chances she never releases more songs?” Tom groaned.

 

“As likely as Theresa May coming out as a supporter of left-wing liberalism.”

 

“Seriously, political sarcasm?”

 

“You asked.” Luke shrugged. “Any word from Ms Hughes?” Tom winced slightly. “I shall take that as a resounding no.”

 

“She hasn’t deleted me from her Facebook,” Tom commented hopefully.

 

Luke grimaced. “Please do not tell me you are Facebook stalking her?”

 

“She’s back in Ireland for a week, and then she is off to a new set.”

 

“Tom, that is not normal, I mean seriously, you get weirded out by fans that do that to you.”

 

“What am I going to do Luke?”

 

“Nothing, I told you, you need to back off, she has a boyfriend. Can you imagine how hard it will be for her to explain all of this to him?”

 

“He knows she is friends with the family, he has gone to dinner with Emma and Jack and mum has had him over.”

 

“That’s some good news, but if she mentions the kiss?” Tom did not respond, “You see, you have caused her enough trouble Tom, just give it time, she forgave you for the shit you pulled when you were seeing “PR Barbie", so she will probably forgive this too.” Luke gave an encouraging smile.

 

“I just…” tom shook his head. “Why didn’t I ever notice?”

 

“Your infatuation?”

 

“It’s not an infatuation.”

 

Luke rose to his feet. “You never realised your feelings for her because she never allowed you to realise that you were envious by not having a partner, and upon her having one, you, my friend, left it too late.”

 

“What do you mean? Do you think we could have if I had…?”

 

“Could you have started seeing her, yes. Would it have lasted, well, the odds, however, were never in your favour.”

 

Tom bit the inside of his cheeks. It was against the odds to succeed in Hollywood, but he had done it, he could easily have worked on making things work with Danielle too, if only he had tried.

 

*

 

The news reached the set before Danielle did, and much to her chagrin, she noticed that it seemed to be a popular topic of conversation for some people.

 

“Hughes, a word.” She grimaced as she walked over to Irlam. “You never mentioned that you know Tom Hiddleston.”

 

“His mum is my next door neighbour.”

 

“But you said nothing.”

 

“Why would I?”

 

“Well, in this industry, it helps to know people.”

 

Danielle’s nostrils flared slightly. “It may help, but there is no merit behind it, besides, what would I say? That I know the man to see once a blue moon between movies that comes to visit his mum for a day or two, that I salute him if I see him having a jog.”

 

“If papers are to be believed, you know him considerably better than that.”

 

“You shouldn’t believe everything you read.” She smiled and winked.

 

“He’s a great guy, isn’t he?” Irlam chucked. “I worked with him, so willing to try and do everything right.”

 

Danielle smiled sadly, “Yeah, Tom is a good man, those photo’s, he brought me and his mum to a restaurant to celebrate me getting all of this.” She explained. “Nothing else, just because I get on well with his sister and mum, and because I never try and use them for anything.” Her voice cracked slightly at the end, her hurt at what she perceived to be a mistake on Tom's behalf becoming harder to disguise as she spoke of him, and some of his traits she had always adored. “Sorry.”

 

“Are you alright?” Irlam asked in concern.

 

“Yeah, just…the publicity from all of this, I mean, I am…there’s a reason I wanted to work behind cameras, you know?”

 

“Well for me, I go with the idea that I have a face meant for radio.” He joked, causing her to laugh slightly, “But yes, I understand, I see it sometimes with actors, they realise that the life of anonymity is destroyed once they become famous. What you are saying is you are not even in a relationship with Tom, yet you are receiving the attention of such, an even more horrible situation; especially if you never wanted such in the first place.” He added more solemnly. “No to mention, you now have the attention of one bitter brat.”

 

“God, what is that bitch saying now?” Danielle was half afraid to ask.

 

Irlam frowned, “You’ve had interactions with her before?”

 

“Sadly yes, she was at his mum’s with him, and well, she is as crazy as that supposed skit song implies, like literally, batshit crazy. She genuinely thought I would be envious of her.” Danielle scoffed.

 

“Well, she is the victim.” Irlam began.

 

“When is she ever not?”

 

“And he is abusive, a user and a home wrecker.” Danielle felt terrible for Tom. “From what I have read, prepare for a song about you.”

 

“That’s what she does, isn’t it?” Danielle sighed.

 

“Sadly yes, now, back to what we do. I need to talk to you regarding a scene where we have the dragon breathe fire.”

 

“It had to be a fucking dragon.” Danielle groaned, readying herself for the madness of the day ahead.

 

*

 

“Do I want to ask?” Benedict walked into Tom’s London home, looking around at what would probably be described as slight untidiness to most other people, but in Tom’s case, could only be called chaos. “The place is a wreck.”

 

“I kissed her.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Danielle, I kissed her Ben, and she rejected me.”

 

“Tom.” Benedict looked at him sympathetically.

 

“I just…I don’t think this actually hurt so much before.”

 

“I…I get it, in a way, I mean I was with Olivia for a decade, I thought that she was it, and it wasn’t to be.”

 

“You think Danielle isn’t…”

 

Benedict raised his hands. “I am not saying she is or she isn’t, I cannot answer that for you, but I can say this; if it hurts this much, there has to be more to this than simple lust.”

 

“I love her.”

 

“Fuck Tom, I’m sorry mate.” Ben gave a sympathetic look. “What exactly happened?”

 

Tom relayed everything, the meal, the conversation, the paparazzi, and the issue outside her door. “The way she acted, she was almost crying as she told me to leave, like I destroyed everything.”

 

Ben cocked his head slightly, “Wait, what do you mean crying? She was crying.”

 

“No, nearly crying, she just kept begging me to leave,” Tom explained.

 

Benedict’s eyes darted side to side for a moment as he thought about what Tom had said. “You need to just get some rest; you’re off to Oz again tomorrow, aren’t you?”

 

“Yeah, I need to redo a few scenes; apparently one of the minor actors has had to be swapped out.”

 

“The joys of the industry,” Benedict commented sarcastically. “Well, go, get some vitamin D, because fuck knows we are getting none here with this weather, and when you come back, we will have to further this conversation.” Tom scoffed a little, but said his goodbyes and made his way home to pack. Taking out his phone, Ben texted Sophie what Tom had just said, wanting her opinion on the situation. When his phone indicated a new message received a few minutes later, he chuckled to himself as he read his wife’s reply. “I thought as much.”

 

 

Chapter Text

A MONTH LATER

“So, we just fix that around with some zip ties, and no strangulation risks.” Danielle beamed as she checked over one last area of the set before she took her place behind the camera, watching as everything was readied for the actors to take the set.

“You seem to have made yourself very comfortable here.” She turned, not knowing the deep voice behind her. “Sorry, did I startle you?”

For a moment, Danielle had no idea who it was the lean blonde man standing next to her was. “I…You’re Luke, aren’t you? I recognise you from a photo Diana has.”

“Yes, I am, Luke Windsor.” He extended his hand to her.

Danielle took it and shook it. “Danielle Hughes, I am really sorry for any and all trouble I may have caused you.”

Luke frowned at her, taken back that she would think to apologise. “I really should be thanking you, you were the reason that whole fiasco finally came to an end.”

“Technically, that accolade goes to Benedict.” She dismissed.

“But you were the one to get Tom to start questioning things; I cannot thank you enough for that.”

“I couldn’t see him being fucked over by her, though she has had a lot to say on the subject anyway.”

Luke grimaced. “Yes, she is somewhat vocal on the subject, are you worried?”

“I will say to you what I said to her, even if she called the album ‘fuck you Danielle Hughes’ I will still not buy it.”

Luke laughed. “You actually said that to her?”

“Among other things.”

“Dare I ask?”

“I think there were references to calling her a moany cunt in there somewhere.”

“I am elated you are not my client.”

“I’d have you bald by now,” Danielle replied.

“I am scared by how proudly you stated that.”

“If Tom hasn’t turned you bald after this year, I would think it somewhat a great feat to do such to you.”

“I have been close to pulling my hair out a few times.”

“I could imagine.” She smiled before turning her face more solemn. “How is he?”

Luke studied her face as he answered. “Busy, he was in Australia for reshoots and is on doing some shoots these days.”

“Any more BDSM-esque ones, I have been told on more than one occasion that that was very popular, though why people think to tell me I have no idea. I think it’s so I will pass on the message.”

“Have you spoken to him?”

“No, not since…” Danielle swallowed and looked away.

“How did your boyfriend react to the photos?” Danielle looked at him in confusion. “Tom mentioned you had one, was there any issue?”

“I don’t, I didn’t have a boyfriend then.”

“What?”

“I broke up with Paul weeks before that, I mean, almost two months.”

“So you…” Luke began. “Then why?”

“What?”

“When he…” Luke watched her carefully, seeing her begin to become more and more ashamed looking. “He told me what occurred at your residence after the meal, after the paparazzi, and your reaction.”

“I…He was a small bit drunk, he would have never wanted to, not if he was sober.”

Luke’s eyes widened. “You, wait that is why you told him to leave?”

“Yes, obviously, why?”

“Not because you had a boyfriend.”

“I didn’t have a boyfriend, why would I kiss someone if I had a boyfriend?” Danielle failed to see what Luke was trying to imply.

“Fuck me.” Luke groaned, Danielle eyed him up and down. “Shit.”

“What?”

“Do you like Tom.”

“Of course, he’s great.”

“No, God I sound like I am in a stupid rom-com movie.” Luke groaned, “I mean, have you feelings for Tom, you said you kissed him.”

“Well, I kissed him back, for a second, but it was wrong, he’d drank about a bottle of really strong wine.”

“It appears that you should speak with Tom on the matter, he needs to hear you say this.”

“Why?”

“Tom has not taken this very well, he is under the impression you loathe him now.”

“What, no I would never…”

“Then I would suggest you speak with him regarding the matter.”

“I…” Danielle didn’t know what to say. There was a small crashing noise before someone called her name. She turned for a moment and her eyes widened. “Shit.” She ran forward when she saw one of the extra’s hobbling over, shards of glass in their leg. When she finished dealing with that, there was no sign of the publicist, leaving her to wonder what exactly he was saying regarding Tom and his actions.

*

“Thank fuck.” Tom sighed as he finally grabbed his bag off the carousel at the airport and went to find the car that Luke had arranged to bring him home, cursing that Heathrow was swarming with people, many of whom were talking and pointing at him, while others snapped pictures on their phones, though thankfully, none seemed too interested in autographs or pictures with him, something he never minded, as fans were important to get certain roles, but he was just frustrated and tired of long flights and delays.

Going to the car that was waiting, Tom groaned as he read a text from Benedict, telling him to meet him in Convent Gardens, that there was something he had to know. Going there meant having to go into London city, and during the lunch hour rush; so he sent a text saying he was going to get the Tube in, not the least bit interested in getting caught for an hour trying to go around Leicester Square. He threw his bags into the hallway of his house and grabbed his wallet and jacket before turning around and having the driver bring him to Camden, to keep the Tube journey as short as possible while also staying out of city traffic.

Tom took out his kindle and started reading over a script he had been sent, seeing if it was any good, when a voice, or more accurately, a conversation, caught his attention nearby. “And he attacked you?” A woman exclaimed.

“Yes, but he also bit one of the nurses, so I mean, she really got the raw end of the deal, I only got a few bruises.” A man replied.

Frowning, he kept glancing to the side to see why he recognised the man’s voice, and indeed the topic of conversation, but the man had his back to him, and the woman was not someone he recognised.

“You see, that is why I love obstetrics, if someone tries to bite me, they are usually about a day old, and no teeth, trying to get some milk.” She jested back.

“Yeah, well, A&E has a lot of downsides.”

“Did you ever consider changing specialities, I mean, there are other areas you can look into?” She offered.

As they continued to talk, Tom became more and more convinced as to whom the male passenger was, but he could not be sure. When the intercom stated the next station was Leicester Square, he put away his kindle and got ready to get out. As luck would have it, the woman rose to her feet, and the man straight after. “Change here is it?” Tom’s eyes widened as he saw Paul, Danielle’s Paul, intertwine the woman’s hand in his.

“Yes, to Covent Gardens, that’s where Charles said they would be.” She smiled back, squeezing her hand in his.

Tom’s body shook with rage as he watched Paul look at the woman next to him the same way he had looked at Danielle. Walking not too far behind, he watched the pair interacting, seeing that they were close, the small interactions they made proving they were very close indeed. Ironically, he was behind them the entire way around the underground station, making their way to the other platform. He watched as Paul kissed the other woman, clearly not caring who saw them, the entire time, Tom simply scowled at him.

The next train arrived, and Tom got on further down the carriage to the loved-up pair, neither noticing the celebrity that was currently glaring at them. It was only one stop to Covent Gardens, but the whole way, all Tom could think of was Danielle, and the fact that while she was away working, Paul was clearly not waiting for her return home, the idea of which angered him. Finally, the train stopped in Covent Gardens, and Tom disembarked, not noticing the pair also getting out. He made his way up the stairwells and out to the plush dining district of the city. It was easy to spot Benedict, he was speaking with a fan not too far away, and after signing something for her, he turned and saw his friend, tilting his head slightly to indicate for Tom to join him.

“How was Oz?”

“Warm.”

“I can imagine.” Ben laughed before he took in Tom’s demeanour. “What’s up, you look like you are about to kill someone?”

“I saw Paul.”

“I have no idea who you are talking about.”

“Paul, Danielle’s boyfriend.”

“Riiight?” Benedict had no idea what that had to do with anything.

“He was on the Tube, with another woman.”

“In what way?” Benedict asked cautiously.

“In a way a man that is seeing one woman should not be with another.”

“Shit, what are you going to do?”

“I have to tell her.”

“I can’t imagine that will go well.”

“What else can I do Ben; it’s not fair to her. Why the fuck would any man that has a girl like that cheat?”

“Why does anyone?” Ben challenged.

“I have to do something.”

“Look, we’ll discuss it after we get something to eat, alright?” Benedict offered. “Until then, I have big news Tom, you remember that part I was talking about? The brilliant one, I can’t do it, clashes with something to do with Sherlock, but I heard the only other person the director will even consider is you.”

Tom listened to Benedict as best he could as they made their way to the restaurant the older had made reservations in, but his mind was only half there, all he could think about was Danielle and Paul.

“You aren’t listening to half of what I am saying, are you?” Benedict laughed as Tom stared at the food in front of him. “You’re still hung up on her, aren’t you?”

“Worse than before.”

“And now this.” Benedict shook his head. “I haven’t heard from her while you were away, I mean, she would hardly be contacting me anyway, but nothing has come to me regarding her.”

“I…Fuck, this is just wrong,” Tom growled in frustration. He was about to say something else when he noticed a familiar face in front of him; when he recognised the person, his jaw clenched.

Paul was there, his arm around the blonde woman’s waist that Tom had seen him with on the Tube, and beside them were others, all being sat at a table very close to where Tom and Benedict were sitting.

“What?” Benedict asked quietly, looking at the group, and then to Tom, who seemed to have frozen next to him. “Friends of yours?”

“No, that’s Paul.” He whispered back.

Benedict’s eyes widened before he focused on the man Tom referenced and his female friend. “I see.”

The pair said nothing for a minute, not wanting to draw attention to themselves. The group began chatting about mundane things only a group of friends would be interested in hearing about one another. But soon after, Tom and Benedict heard the conversation take a turn.

“You see, a far better fit for you Paul than a paramedic.” One man declared. “I knew she wasn’t right for you, I said it all along. She’s a fucking nutcase, getting all bitchy at me when I apologised and everything, seriously Paul, you deserve a woman like Lucia, smart, beautiful, able to see you have good friends.”

Benedict shook his head at Tom, who seemed ready to go over and kill the other man.

“I rather not talk about Danielle at all, thank you, it’s weird to even bring her up, Lucia is right here.”

Tom actually began to rise from the table that time, since Paul had not told his friend to cease talking about other women in Danielle’s presence; but Benedict grabbed him and pulled him back down. “We’re in a public place, I know you want to throttle him, but he is not worth it.” He bit out through gritted teeth.

Tom shook again, his appetite leaving him as he forced himself to endure knowing the people so close by were so scathing of Danielle. When Benedict had gone to take a call, Tom watched from the corner of his eye as Paul excused himself from the table, kissing the woman he assumed to be called Lucia as he did, and went to the bathroom. Unable to stop himself, and without Benedict to prevent him, Tom rose and walked after him.

When Paul turned around from the urinal, he was startled to see the actor behind him. “Hello.”

“What the hell are you doing?” Tom growled.

“What?” Paul asked, confused.

“What, can’t reference Elle in front of your little ‘girlfriend’, but it was alright the other way around?” Tom spat back.

Paul put up his hands. “I am just trying to stop myself from making the same mistakes twice, Danielle made it clear where I fucked up.”

“I think fucking another woman comes above that racist prick, to be honest.”

“What…I never fucked…you think I am cheating on Danielle?” Paul realised.

“You are kissing another woman in plain sight and claiming you’re not?” Tom scoffed.

“Danielle and I broke up.” Tom’s anger dissolved immediately, leaving him standing there, perplexed. “She broke up with me before she went to work in Manchester; before the papers splashed those pictures of you, your mother and her at the restaurant all over them, didn’t she tell you?” Tom shook his head. “I have not seen Danielle since the night after the argument we had. I mean, I had tried to get her back, but she just shut me out, using her new career as an excuse.”

Tom swallowed hard, he had genuinely thought Danielle was still involved with the doctor, but when he thought about it, she never really had confirmed it, only saying he had not been pleased with her change of career, something blatantly obvious from the manner he spoke of it.

“You really thought I was cheating on her with Lucia, didn’t you?” Tom nodded, still unable to speak. “Well, I am glad you thought to defend her, but no, I am not. To be honest, I thought she was with you now.” Tom frowned. “She was never really interested in me, I think she tried to be but couldn’t, and when I saw those photo’s, the ones that were taken before you all noticed the cameras, the way she was in your company, she seemed so, natural, genuinely content and happy.” He explained. Tom swallowed again. “I had better go back outside.” Paul washed his hands quickly. “If you do see her, please tell her that I’m happy for her.” Tom nodded but said no more.

Tom stood in the bathroom, trying to understand what it was that had just happened. After about five minutes, Benedict came in, looking around then back at his friend in concern. “Do I want to know?”

“I spoke with Paul.”

Benedict grimaced. “Oh, and?”

“They broke up.”

“Him and Danielle?”

Tom nodded. “Before the pictures of us at the restaurant.”

“I see.”

“So it wasn’t him that was the issue, it was me.”

“I’m not so sure of that.” Benedict chuckled. Tom looked at him in annoyance, so Benedict took out his phone. “When you told me about what happened, that night on her doorstep, I spoke with Sophie, and she thought the exact same thing as I did.” He explained. “That Ms Hughes was terrified of being rejected by you and not that she was in any way concerned with anything else. And when I went and paid more attention to the photo’s from the restaurant, I noticed that she seemed to be looking at you sorrowfully in the ones when you were leaving, but the ones from before, the ones you did not notice being taken.” Benedict held up the phone for Tom to see. “I think it is safe to say that Danielle is anything but disinterested.”

Tom took the phone and studied it, focusing in on the commendably good picture of him and Danielle at the table, when he enlarged her image, he had to note the goofily large smile on her face as she looked directly into his eyes. “It can’t be.” he handed the phone back. “Why would she be frightened of being rejected?”

“Because isn’t that everyone’s greatest fear, being rejected by those we love?” Benedict suggested.

“Elle doesn’t…” Tom couldn’t force himself to say the words.

“Can you say that with conviction?” Benedict challenged. “I am willing to wager that you’re wrong.”

“What do I do?” Tom asked, lost at the very idea of it being a possibility. Benedict was about to answer when Tom’s phone lit up. “It’s her.”

Chapter Text

“Danielle.” Tom’s voice shook on the phone.

“I…Hi.”

“You never said you and Paul broke up.” Benedict stared at him in disbelief that of all the things he could say to Danielle at that time; that was what came to mind, to mention her ex. “I mean, I just saw him there, you never said…I thought that you…”

“I don’t loathe you.” She blurted out.

“What?”

“Luke, he said you thought I hated you after that night, I don’t.” she explained.

“Luke?”

“Yes, your publicist.”

“How…”

“He’s on set here, with Emma Watson, he came over to me and we got talking about you.”

Tom’s face erupted into a smile, mentally thanking Luke, who he had been convinced was against his feelings for her. “Elle, I…When are you home?”

She hesitated in responding. “I’m not sure.”

“Where are you filming?”

“Shepperton Studios.”

“Wait, in London?”

“Yes.”

“What time are you finished?” He demanded. Benedict made hand gestures to tell him to calm down. “Sorry, I just, I need to speak to you face to face, I didn’t know you were so close, please, can I come by later, and we can talk?” He stated more calmly; Benedict nodded approvingly.

“I…I’m not sure Tom.” Tom’s heart sank. “I think we have two more scenes to do, but it’s delayed until one of the actors comes back to set, he had some sort of photo shoot to do earlier and still hasn’t returned.”

Tom took a breath to compose himself, she was not saying no to meeting up, simply not able to give him a time. “It’s about a half hour from my house to the studios, how about you text when you are nearly finished, and I can come get to you?”

“That’s not necessary Tom, I can get a taxi into the city and then get the Tube.” Benedict shook his head violently, indicating to his watch.

“No, it’ll be late by then; no way should you be going on the Tube alone at that hour.” Benedict nodded in agreement.

“What, scared I would run into one of those creepy clowns?”

“No, I am trying to save the clown, I have a feeling you’d probably kick him in the crotch.”

“I probably would.” She giggled back. “Okay, fine, I will text you with about an hour or so left; so if it suits, you can come, happy?”

“Tremendously so.” Tom beamed.

“I guess I’ll see you later then, bye Tom.”

“Bye Elle.” He waited to hear the sound of her hanging up before he took the phone from his ear. “Well…”

“You look terrified.” Ben scoffed.

“What am I going to do?”

“You are going to leave this bathroom, you are going to go home, get some rest, shower and wait for the woman you are nigh on stalking to ring or text you, then you are going to go and, I would wager, make an absolute tit of yourself in front of her.” Tom glared at him. “Well, you asked. What are you going to do with regards food; I mean, it’s three now.” He checked his watch. “And she won’t be done until at least six or seven, catering probably finishes at four, and you need to sleep.”

“I keep telling her about that Indian you suggested, we could get something from there,” Tom suggested.

“Right, and what are you going to do then, go back to yours? Do you even know where she is staying?”

“Shit.” Tom became frustrated again. “Why is this so hard? Was it always this hard?”

“Courting women? Not that I recall, I mean, as you know, I was with Olivia for so long, before that were the usual brief youth romances, but with Sophie, everything seemed so…much more difficult, I mean, I felt pressure to get it right.”

“Were you attracted to her beforehand?”

“No, I just decided to ask her out for no reason, of course…” Benedict snarked. “Look, do not push her too fast, your home could suggest that you are interested in one thing in particular, and it is not a deep meaningful conversation, you need to make sure not to give off too much of that air.”

“But we always spend time together at my mother’s.”

“In the living room with your mother present or close by, that’s a tad different to your home; the personification of a bachelor pad, just you and her, no mother.” Tom’s facial expression changed slightly, “And no, I am not going to be there. That is just weird, besides, you two need to figure out whatever this thing between you is by yourselves, no one holding your hands for you.”

Tom nodded, taking out his phone. “I need to talk to Luke.”

“Why?”

“Because he can tell me what they were talking about, so then I know where I stand with her.”

“We are never leaving this fucking toilet.” Benedict cursed as he waited for Tom to call his publicist.

*

“Well, if it isn’t the famous Tom Hiddleston.” Luke Evans joked as Tom sat in his car close to the gates of the set. “What brings you around these parts?” he leant down to look at Tom in the car.

“I am waiting on a friend of mine, she’s working on the movie with you.”

“It’s not Watson is it, I mean, we all know you are going for the mid-twenties girls these days.” Tom winced slightly at Evans’ joke. “Sorry man, no malice meant.”

“I only have myself to blame.” Tom shrugged. “No, her name is Danielle, she’s the....”

“Ah, Danni, yeah, she’s just sorting out one or two things inside.” Luke smiled. “Wait, are you and her a thing now?”

“No, she is just a good friend.”

“‘Good Friend’ huh?” Luke did not seem the least bit convinced. “Well, your ‘close friend’ is getting a lot of interest from a few people, so I would think about sorting changing the -ood to -irl very quickly if I were you.”

“I don’t under…oh right, thanks for the warning.” Tom decided to not say any more on the subject, a pang of jealousy flowing through him for a moment. “How is it going here?”

“Ah, well it’s grand, not groundbreaking, I mean, it has been done before, but still, Disney pays well enough.” The other man smiled. “What are your plans for the next few months?”

“Nothing much, a few things here and there, mostly to do with Kong and Thor, the usual.”

“Nice piece in Interview by the way.” Luke winked. “I dare say your little legion on girlies adored that.”

“Well, after everything in the summer…”

“Speaking of which, is there a reason why Miller can’t get through to you, she has the same number I have, but her call wouldn’t go through?”

“Yeah, I had a bug in my system, it’s rectified now, though.”

Evan’s looked at him curiously. “A bug you say? Does this bug have a name?”

“Yes, it does, and no, I am not repeating it.”

“You don’t need to man, I am reading very well between the lines here.” Luke scoffed before looking up. “I best be heading away for myself, I have my own plans for the evening.” He slapped the top of the car and walked off.

Tom did not get to say for him to enjoy himself before he realised the reason the actor had scarpered. He smiled anxiously at Danielle, who waved nervously as she approached the car. As though he had been electrocuted, he opened the car door and jumped out, or would have had he not been still tied in by his seatbelt before untying it and running to the passenger side door. “Hey.”

“Hi.” Danielle smiled back nervously. “That’s not necessary.”

“No, I don’t mind.” He smiled, opening the door to let her in.

“Whoever was in here last is a far taller person than me, I feel like I am in the boot.”

Tom laughed. “Yeah, well, you know, anyone seems tall next to you.”

“Ass.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

Happy that everything seemed so normal between them, Tom rushed back to his side of the car and jumped back in. “So, have you eaten?”

“Yeah, well at three, so, I guess that’s really a no.” she corrected, checking her watch.

“That’s a no,” Tom confirmed.

“What about you? You look jetlagged.”

“Are you trying to tell me I look old?”

“Old, how did you get that from jetlagged?” she looked at him oddly. “No, you look like you do every time I collected you from the airport, out on your feet, as though you want to sleep for a week.”

“Yeah, that sounds accurate enough for my current state.” Tom conceded. “But I did get a few hours sleep this afternoon.”

“Afternoon? You only got back today?” Tom nodded. “You should have said something. If you are too tired, we could meet another day.”

“No. No, I need to see you today, to talk to you today.” He explained.

“Sounds serious.” Danielle looked at her hands.

“Well, not serious as in a bad way, but we do need to talk. I have a great idea of where we can eat.”

“It’s not public is it?” she asked fearfully.

“No, it’s a takeaway near my house, it’s the one I was telling you about.”

“That sounds good, it better be as good as you say it is.”

“It is, I promise.” The smile on her face was encouraging as far as Tom was concerned, he could only wait and see how the evening went.

Chapter Text

“Your usual?” Tom asked as he parked outside the restaurant he had told Danielle about.

 

“This place does takeaway?” she asked, looking at the upmarket establishment.

 

“Welcome to North London, once you’re willing to pay, you can get effectively anything.” He shrugged.

 

“Seriously, there’s no need for something this fancy.”

 

“It’s not really, I mean takeaway is takeaway. So I’ll ask again, your usual?”

 

“Please.” She decided not to argue.

 

“I’ll order and come back out.” He got out of the car and went inside, leaving Danielle to wait anxiously as she awaited his return. She jumped considerably when he hopped back into the car. “Are you alright?” he asked, looking at her somewhat startled at her reaction.

 

“Yeah, sorry, I was so busy thinking about other things.” she dismissed.

 

“Filming hours can be insane, can’t they?” He nodded understandingly.

 

“Yeah.” She gave a half-hearted smile.

 

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

 

“I…I’m just worried.”

 

“About what?”

 

“What if we’re spotted?” she asked, looking around the car.

 

“You really don’t want to be in the spotlight, do you?” he asked, somewhat crestfallen.

 

“Some people aren’t made to be in front of the camera.” She replied.

 

“I’m really sorry for being the reason you were thrown in front of them the night we…” he cleared his throat. “I actually spoke to Luke today, after you were talking to him I mean.”

 

“Yeah?” she asked, concerned.

 

“He said you were under the impression I only kissed you because I was drunk.”

 

“Well, you weren’t sober.” She argued.

 

“But I didn’t kiss you because of that. I mean, it helped, because I was too cowardly to do it without some assistance, but I…”

 

“We should talk about this later.” She cut in, “After we eat.”

 

Feeling somewhat downtrodden, Tom simply nodded in return. “I better go see if the food is ready.” It had only been a few minutes since he had ordered, so there was no chance the food was ready, but it allowed him to escape the atmosphere in the car.

 

When he returned, the tension was lessened, though still somewhat there. “Smells good.” Danielle smiled taking the food.

 

“It’s better than good.” Tom grinned, grateful for her to take the focus off the conversation that had caused them to become somewhat awkward. The car remained in silence until they got to Tom’s home and he closed the front door. “I’ll get the plates and everything if you want to get a bottle of wine from the fridge.”

 

“I’m okay for alcohol thanks.” He looked at her for a moment. “I have work again at seven; the last thing I need is to be somewhat groggy, we are doing the fight scene tomorrow.”

 

“Right, so, shit, I don’t have anything nice.”

 

“It’s fine Tom, water is fine.” She smiled.

 

“Shit, I should go to…”

 

“No, Tom. Seriously, water is fine, please stop, I just want the food.” She half laughed, well used to Tom and his need to over-perfection.

 

“Sorry, I just wanted this to be nice.”

 

“It is, or it will be when you cease torturing me by having me smell it but not taste it.” She smiled. “I’m starved.”

 

“Right, fuck. You get the drinks, I’ll get plates.”

 

“Do you want wine?”

 

“No, I will drive you back to wherever you’re staying, so I need to be sober.”

 

“Right, so what will you have?”

 

“Water too.”

 

“Should I go into a longwinded rant about you wanting water?” she grinned.

 

“I am just trying to be a good host.” He grumbled.

 

“You are Tom, and how much do I owe you for…” The indignant look he gave her caused her to stop talking. “I’ll get the next one so.”

 

“Deal.” He agreed with a nod. “Seriously Elle, you need to let people treat you.” He stated, handing her a plate and cutlery. “Speaking of your name, why does everyone call you ‘Danni’ now?”

 

Danielle groaned as she placed the naan bread on her plate. “I fucking hate it, but no one will just call me by my name.”

 

“So not your doing?” Tom asked, getting his chicken out of its container.

 

“No, I hate that name.”

 

“More than Elle?”

 

“No, Elle I like, not because of the name or anything, but because it actually comes from those who care about me, and not because some people are too lazy to say my name.”

 

Tom chuckled. “Fair enough.”

 

“Why did you call me Elle, to begin with? I mean, I know it was you that started calling me that.”

 

Tom shrugged. “Can’t remember, just thought of it one day and thought you looked like an Elle.”

 

“Well, I beg to disagree.” She smiled, sticking a fork into some of Tom’s food and eating it. “Wow, that is good.”

 

“Told you.” He beamed in return.

 

They ate the meal in relative silence, both not wanting to broach the issue that was on both of their minds. By the end of it, when Tom was bringing their plates to the sink and neither of them had actually said anything regards it. Tom stared at the plates for a moment, knowing that soon he would have to return Danielle to her hotel, otherwise, she would be exhausted at work the next day, but he had yet to speak to her regarding the kiss that they’d shared. Looking at himself in the reflection of his window, which acted almost as a mirror with the darkness outside, he tried to build up the courage needed.  A sound from his phone caught his attention, looking at it, he groaned.

 

Benedict – So, what happened?

 

Tom – Nothing.

 

Benedict – What?

 

Tom – Nothing has happened because we haven’t discussed it.

 

Benedict – It’s ten at night.

 

Tom – Yes, I am aware, I can read time Ben.

 

Benedict – So grab the situation by the balls Tom and talk to the woman before she dies of old age waiting for you to do something about it. Where is the cocky shit that was all bite when the world was trying to tell him about his terrible girlfriend, now you have a chance with a good woman and you are dallying around like you have forever?

 

Tom – What if she rejects me?

 

Benedict – Then at least you fucking tried, get on with it man.

 

“Tom?” Danielle came into the kitchen, a little startled to see Tom on the phone. “I…well I better be off so.”

 

“What, no, you can’t yet.” He threw the phone on the counter.

 

“It’s getting late, and well, you’ve been hiding in here for twelve minutes.” She stated, looking at the clock.

 

“I…Look Elle, can we talk about…”

 

“I rather not thanks.”

 

“But we need to.”

 

“No, we don’t. It was a mistake Tom; I shouldn’t have allowed you to…” Tom took large steps until he was standing right in front of her, silencing her. “I…”

 

“I haven’t had anything to drink.” He stated quietly.

 

“I know.” She nodded.

 

“So this time, that isn’t an excuse.” He reached down and cupped her cheek with his hand. “Elle.”

 

She swallowed, knowing what was to come, but she didn’t want to stop it, as much as she thought she should. When his lips descended on hers again, she sighed lustfully, in truth, she had missed them ever since she had last had them against hers. “Tom, Tom please.”

 

“Please Danielle, I can tell by how you’re reacting that you want this.”

 

“Yes, but…”

 

“But what?”

 

“Your belt is stabbing me.” She half laughed.

 

Frowning for a moment, Tom looked down and sure enough, the buckle of his belt was slightly open, the pointed bit jabbing into her stomach. “Sorry.” He moved slightly to not hurt her any further. Danielle’s response was to pull him down to kiss her again.

 

“Why do I have to be so short?” She groaned after a few minutes, her neck aching from the angle it required to be in when kissing him.

 

“We could go into the living room.” Tom offered, not moving too far from her lips.

 

“I think that best.” Danielle smiled. “TOM!” She erupted in laughter when rather than waiting for her to make her way herself, Tom hoisted her into his arms and carried her in. “I can walk.”

 

Tom grinned at her. “I think this is more fun.” He manoeuvred them so that he sat under her on the couch with her straddling his legs. “Better?” Biting her bottom lip, she nodded her reply. “I’m sorry.”

 

Danielle frowned. “What for?”

 

“Taking so long, I should have done this ages ago.” He toyed with her hair. “I just thought you weren’t interested, and with my work, I didn’t want to have anyone waiting for me, but as soon as I heard of you and Paul, I couldn’t bear it. Then today, when I saw him with another woman, and I thought you were still with him, I…Why didn’t you tell me when I mentioned him that you were over?”

 

“I don’t know.” She admitted as she bit her lip. “I just didn’t want to admit I screwed up. I only accepted Paul because I thought I could never have you. And when you kissed me, I thought it was a mistake, that you could never want me.”

 

Tom scoffed, “Well, that’s wrong. I very much want you.” He subconsciously grabbed her ass and pulled it down to his lap. 

 

“You think one, albeit delicious Indian takeaway will get me to bed?” she asked. “Paul tried for months and didn’t get anywhere.”

 

“Wait, what? You never…?” Tom looked at her in shock.

 

Danielle regretted ever mentioning it. “Not that, no.” she was unsure as to how Tom would react, thinking he would not believe her or scoff, instead, he crashed his lips to hers and pulled her down as close to him as was physically possible.

 

“So, what does takeaway get me, what are you willing to give?” He grinned cheekily.

 

“Well, tonight, nothing, I have to go, I have work at seven, remember.” She groaned, genuinely gutted at the idea of leaving.

 

“I don’t want you to go.”

 

“I don’t want to go either.” She laughed at his childish response. “But I am a boring grown up, with boring grown up responsibilities.”

 

Tom groaned, hating the fact that she was right. “Mean.”

 

“And perhaps it’s for the best.” Tom frowned at her. “In case you don’t want…”

 

“If you think you can pull the ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ BS again, stop now. I am a grown man and I know damn well what I am doing.” He growled, placing his arms around her, he rolled them so he was over her. “And I’ll prove it.” He grinned wickedly before kissing her passionately again. Danielle’s reaction was to put her hands on his ass, an area that had caused her far too many lust-filled fantasies than could be deemed appropriate.

Chapter Text

Danielle groaned as she heard the alarm go off, she wanted nothing more than to sleep for another ten minutes, or perhaps a day. It was only when she was reaching around she groaned, not able to find her bedside locker.

 

“I have it.” A deep voice groaned from behind her. That shocked her, and she turned to see the speaker, only to nearly fall as she did so. “I have you.” She stared as Tom grabbed her. “You’re a tad skittish in the morning.” He smiled kindly as he pulled her back to him, this time, her chest to his. Reaching around her, he found the offending phone and tapped on the screen, silencing it. “You said you had work at seven, so I set my alarm for five, since, you know, you had fallen asleep, so we can get you showered and fed before work.”

 

She looked at him, still trying to process everything, her usually alert brain still not fully awake. “I…thanks.”

 

“You’re not very good with mornings are you?” the idea of learning something new about her making him smile almost innocently.

 

“I usually am, but today…” she blushed deeply.

 

Tom beamed at her. “Did I wear you out?” He asked playfully.

 

“Not funny.” She leant in, her nose brushing along his neck, looking at the freckles she had never seen on his chest, along with the few hairs, toying with them.

 

“You know, as much as I adore this time with you, your dallying is not a good thing, you are going to have to get up now, or flip between a good breakfast or a shower, and I would have to urge you towards the shower.”

 

“Well, that’s what happens when I sleep next to someone like you.” Danielle jested.

 

“Ouch.” Tom chuckled. “If that happens every time we are in close proximity, I am not going to complain.”

 

“Do I smell as much as I think I do?”

 

“Well, to me, you smell very enticing.” Tom grinned, wrapping an arm around her.

 

“You are supposed to be getting me to get ready for work, remember.”

 

“You were supposed to get up before my filthy brain remembered I had a beautiful naked woman next to me.” He retorted.

 

“No, we don’t have time.” She tried to pull away.

 

“Do you have to go in?”

 

“Yes, we discussed this before, safety officer.” She turned to get up and went to take the blanket with her.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“I need to go to the bathroom.”

 

“And that includes the blanket, how?”

 

“You’ll see me naked.”

 

“Elle, darling, I saw you from every possible angle naked not too long ago, as well as having slept beside you naked, it is safe to say we should be comfortable in this way with each other now.”

 

“I can’t.”

 

Tom frowned. “Why not? Do you regret…”

 

“What, no, it’s just, you’re you, and I’m ordinary.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean, I feel like I should be insulted.”

 

“You are a sexy movie star, I’m just a normal person.”

 

“You think I’m sexy?” he grinned.

 

“I’m not answering that right now.” she replied, going red with embarrassment.

 

“Well, for the record Danielle Hughes.” Tom sat up, intertwining their hands and pulling her around to look him in the eye. “I happen to think you are the sexiest woman in the world or did my eagerness last night not convince you?”

 

“You really think I’m…you need to get a guide dog.”

 

Tom erupted in laughter at her. “Not sure how you have the sense of humour you have Elle, but I love it.”

 

“Great, blind and mad.” She stated dramatically, causing Tom to pull her towards him again and kissing her.

 

“Shower, and I’ll get you breakfast.”

 

“You don’t have to, you must be exhausted.”

 

“Well, you did a lot of it, if my memory serves me correctly.”

 

“From the jetlag, Tom.”

 

“Actually, my daft brain is wide awake, much to my body’s chagrin, so I am more than happy to be assistance.” He pulled himself up, groaning as his back ached in the process. “Though next time, I rather we sleep upstairs.”

 

“I think I suggested it at one point, taking things upstairs.”

 

“I was in no position to go anywhere, you were finally on my lap, your lips against mine, your…well, there was no way I was stopping things.”

 

“You are a pervert Thomas Hiddleston.”

 

“Guilty, use my guest shower.” He instructed, throwing on his boxers when he got them off the other sofa.

 

Danielle seized the opportunity to grab the blanket. “Sure, I’ll be down soon.” She promised, collecting her clothes, looking at them oddly as she did.

 

“Are you worried about everyone seeing you wearing the same clothes?”

 

“No, just not looking forward to putting on yesterday’s underwear again.”

 

“Go commando.”

 

“That doesn’t go too well for women.”

 

“Seriously?”

 

“Well not ones that had someone…” she made an odd face. “in them.”

 

“Speaking of which, do you…?”

 

“I had bloods done after leaving the paramedics and I’ve had the bar for almost three years.”

 

“Well, I knew you’d be clean, I just wanted to know if you’d need a trip to Lloyds or Boots before work.”

 

“I’m good.”

 

“Good.” Tom scratched his head.

 

“I better go get showered.”

 

“Towels are in the storage closet in the hallway.”

 

“Thanks.” She ran off to get ready.

 

Tom went into the kitchen and threw together what few bits he had grabbed from the shops on his way home from meeting Benedict. It was essentially breakfast bars and coffee, so he swore to stop at a  shop on their way to the studios. A few minutes later, Danielle came back. “That was fast.”

 

“Well, you don’t have conditioner.” She shrugged, taking the coffee. “Starting me strong today.”

 

“I can make you tea if you’d like”

 

“No, you’re fine, I need this.” She inhaled deeply and sighed. “Yum.”

 

After a few minutes they rushed out the door, Danielle still not fed properly. There was a Tesco open not far from where the studios were, so Danielle grabbed some food inside, also grabbing clean socks and underwear while she was at it.

 

“Smart girl.” Tom commended as she jumped back into his Jaguar.

 

“Down there’s for dancing, remember” She smiled fondly.

 

“Yeah.” He pulled in outside the studios. “Elle?” she looked at him fearfully. “When is not too soon to see you again?” She was about to speak but he interrupted her. “I mean, I want to see you tonight, but I know that’s going too fast, I just…now that we…I don’t want to waste any more time.”

 

“How about a meal later, at my hotel?” she suggested. “I have a four am start tomorrow, but it means I’m actually off today at lunch since all the cast is demanding they have some rest.”

 

“How about I pick you up, and we get a late lunch slash early dinner, that way, you are tucked up in bed by eight to get at least some rest?”

 

“I’ll see you at one thirty so Mister Hiddleston, so long as that suits.” She grinned.

 

Tom leant over to her side of the car. “Well, Miss Hughes, until then.” He smiled, kissing her.

 

Slightly flushed, Danielle got out of the car and watched him reverse and pull off before turning around and walking to the studio security, showing her identification. “So the beautiful Irish girl has a suitor, I was getting worried.” The security guard commented.

 

“And why is that?” she asked curiously, loving the daily banter she usually had with that guard.

 

“Because Miss Hughes, if one such as you were to be left on the shelf, what hope is there for a grouchy fart like myself?”

 

“Do you know what my favourite thing about you is Josef?”

 

“What is that my dear?”

 

“Your ability to make even me smile.” She grinned before collecting her bag and walking off. “That is a talent in itself.”

 

“I would have thought so too, were it not for the way you looked at him.” Daniele stopped walking and turned to look at him. “I see a happy future for you both, you know how I know?” Danielle shook her head. “Because my babushka, my grandmother, she told me as a boy, that only when a man and woman truly love one another, they look equal parts elated and heartbroken, when any goodbye happens, no matter how short. Their sadness in the goodbye, but their elation in merely getting to kiss their loved one again.”

 

“And they say the Russians don’t know romance.” She smiled, her face slightly reddened.

 

“Only the American’s say that, but let us face it, what do they know of love? They divorce if their partner snores.”

 

“That’s true, have a nice day Josef.”

 

“You too Ms Hughes.”

 

“Well, you look like you had a good night.” Danielle turned to see Luke Evans beside her.

 

“I don’t…”

 

“Nothing says got fucked each way to next Saturday like turning up to work in your crumpled clothes from yesterday and stinking of…” he sniffed her for a moment. “Men’s shampoo and body gel, you and Hiddles have some fun last night?”

 

“How?”

 

“I worked with Tom on High Rise, I went to premières with him, I know his products, and today, you reek of them.” He stated factually.

 

Danielle went puce as the actor walked off chuckling to himself.

 

*

 

Tom – Hey, I need to speak with you, are you at home?

 

Benedict – It is five to seven in the morning, why are you up?

 

Tom – Why are you up?

 

Benedict – I have a toddler, what’s your excuse?

 

Tom – I want to tell you in person.

 

Benedict – How far away are you?

 

Tom – Half an hour.

 

Benedict – I’ll have the kettle boiled.

Chapter Text

Benedict barely had the door open when Tom exploded in. “Good morning to you too.” He commented before closing the door again. “Cup on the left is yours.” He called. When he walked into the kitchen, Tom seemed almost skittish. “Before we go any further, I need to tell you something, Tom.” His friend looked at him in concern. “Sophie’s pregnant.”

Tom, who seemed to almost be terrified before looked at him in shock. “What?”

“Sophie and I are having another baby,” Benedict repeated slowly.

“Seriously?” Tom’s face lit up. “Congratulations man, Jesus, I…that’s brilliant.” Tom rushed forward and embraced his friend. “When is she due?”

“She’s almost halfway.”

“I…fuck, you kept that quiet.”

“Yeah, well, we didn’t want to say anything. I mean, I am still getting shit that she and Kit are a publicity stunt, so can you imagine what they’ll say this time. She is coming to LA next week for the premiere, and even though she chose another great dress, she is showing a little.”

“Fuck the begrudgers Ben, you two are so happy, and though Christopher will probably spend the next ten years of his life fighting with this baby, he will be so happy too.” Tom grinned.

“Yes, well, that is my news, what happened between you and Elle?”

“She stayed the night.”

“Wait, what?” Benedict nearly spat out his tea.

“She stayed the night; I just dropped her to work.”

“Did you two…?” Ben asked cautiously, but Tom’s grin gave his answer. “I take that as a yes. How are things with you two since?”

“I am meeting her for lunch today because she is busy for a day or two.”

“So she isn’t getting all guarded like after the kiss?”

“No, she was a little awkward, but so was I. I…Jesus Ben.” He couldn’t contain his delight and began chuckling. “I…I can’t remember the last time I felt like this.”

“Not sure if it’s her or sleep deprivation, or both that has you as giddy as a schoolgirl, but I’m happy for you.” Benedict smiled. “Took you long enough and I am glad no one got there before you sorted yourself out…again.”

“There’s only one issue,” Tom stated worriedly, Benedict cocked his head slightly as to ask what said issue was. “She is really desperate to stay off the radar of photographers.”

“She does realise who you are? Look, it was the same with Sophie...”

“What about me?” Sophie asked, coming into the kitchen just in time to hear her name. “Hi, Tom.” She smiled, Christopher in her arms.

“Hey,” Tom smiled, before going over to her and the toddler, “Hey little man, I hear you are getting a brother or sister, isn’t that exciting.” Christopher’s reaction was to laugh and smile. “Congratulations.” He leant over to kiss Sophie a kiss on the cheek. “I’m delighted for you all.”

“Thank you.” She beamed. “So, that aside, what about me?”

“Danielle doesn’t like cameras.”

“No sane person does, why does this matter?”

“Because she and Tom went at it last night and are meeting up again today.” Benedict grinned.

Sophie clipped his ear. “You are such a little gossip.” She chastised.

“But this is big,” Ben argued.

“And I am thrilled for them, but it’s not your business to throw around.”

“Well, Tom is worried, for the obvious reasons, so we were mentioning how you don’t like it either.”

“Well, we only are really seen at events, and bar some chance sightings; we usually go around just fine, I mean, I have yet to see a picture of us in Sainsbury’s getting the shopping.” She commented. “Why don’t we have dinner here sometime and we can talk about it. It’ll be private, and since I seem to be the only person who has never even gotten to say hello to her.”

Benedict’s face lit up. “Brilliant idea; how is she with kids?”

Tom shrugged. “She offered to mind my niece whenever we were all at mums and she adores her.”

“Great, so we can have Christopher around.” Benedict grinned. “What time is she finished today?”

“You have an interview this afternoon,” Sophie reminded him, causing him to swear. “How about next week?”

“I’ll see when she’s free.”

“How long has she left in London?”

“I don’t know, I was planning on talking to her about all of that today.”

“Good plan.” Benedict nodded. “So, how are you about all of this?”

“Truthfully, terrified. She has made it clear, she wants to just be in the shadows, but I can’t give her that, what if this is all just going to go down the toilet?”

“If she was willing to sleep with you, she knows what this will entail, but you do need to talk to her about it. She is not the ‘one night stand’ type, not with you anyway.”

“I really hope your right.” Tom tried to smile, but couldn’t, worrying about if Danielle would regret their actions.

*

“Hey.” He smiled as Danielle opened the passenger door of his car. “You okay?”

“I am just tired.” She sighed, rubbing her eyes.

“Have you a headache?” Tom asked in concern.

“No, but I am starved.”

“Where’s the hotel?”

“Not far from here.” She gave him directions. “We’ll just order room service if that’s okay with you?”

“Sounds good.”

“I also need a shower, I have never been sniffed so much in my life.” She scoffed.

“‘Sniffed’?” Loki stared at her.

“Yeah, Evans could even tell it was your shower gel; I smell like a guy.” She laughed.

Tom leant over and inhaled. “No, you smell like me.” He corrected.

“And are you not a guy?”

“No, I am a gentleman.” He smiled.

“You’re an idiot.” She scoffed.

“Your idiot?” he asked nervously, looking at her with large blue puppy dog eyes.

“I suppose.” She grinned back, causing him to lean in and kiss her. “Let’s get to the hotel.”

“Sounds good.” He agreed against her lips.

When they got to the hotel, Danielle looked around nervously. “How will we do this?”

“How about we just go in, no one is going to care Elle.”

“But if they…”

“Elle?” She looked at him. “Elle, if this is to work, you need to know that we will be spotted together from time to time, and yes, people will take some photos, but overall they won’t realise it's us.”

“I know, I just wish we didn’t have to.”

“Do you not want this?” He didn’t want to ask, but he knew he had to, his fear blatant on his face.

“I do, I just…you know, it’s weird. I knew what I was getting into, but it’s hard, you know, I feel like its only a matter of time before I am going to get some serious heat from crazy fans, and when she sees it…” she played with her hands anxiously.

Tom swallowed hard. “I cannot make them not write things, the papers, the ‘fans’ or even her, and I know that you don’t deserve any of that Elle, you don’t, but I really want this, and if you do too, I promise I will do everything I can to protect you.”

“But a lot of it, you can’t protect me from, I need to just get over that.” she inhaled deeply. “I want this, and so long as I am not plastered on every trash rag as some constant piece, I think I can do this.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, after the whole thing with PR Barbie, you will get attention for having a new girlfriend, we know that, but as long as it is a flash in the pan thing, and not us on the cover weekly, I think I can do this.” She gave a small smile.

Tom intertwined his fingers with hers and brought them to his lips, “I promise, I will not parade you around like some ridiculous dog and I promise I will have Luke have them respect your privacy as much as possible, the best I can offer is the way that Ben and Sophie are, a couple of ‘Gold-digger’ and ‘PR relationship’ stories and a few invasive asses with photo’s, but overall, as little coverage of us as possible.”

She took a moment to think it over. “You can’t even fully promise that, but I am a big girl, I can get on with it, and hopefully, when this comes out, it will end up like Benedict’s relationship.”

“Hopefully.” He smiled. “Now, do you want us to walk in separately or together?” he scanned the area quickly. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone around that would be too bothered by us.”

“The cast are at a different hotel,” Danielle explained. “So we should be okay.”

“Well then.” Tom smiled, opening his door, before closing it quickly and running around the car to her side, opening her door for her. “M’Lady.”

Danielle could not help but laugh, allowing him to take her hand to help her out of the car. “Sir.” Tom had a playful smile on his face “Come on, before we actually are spotted and accused of being two nutters.”

“In all fairness, there is substantial evidence against us.”

“I know, that’s why I’m worried.”

“Oh, I should mention, Ben and Sophie have invited us to their home for a dinner soon, I am to get a date that suits us all.”

Danielle looked at him for a moment. “They want me in their home?”

“Yes, they know you don’t want to be overly public, and Sophie has heard all about you and never met you, and she wants to see if you want to ask anything about being the beautiful and self-successful other half of a great actor.” He grinned, opening the door of the hotel for her, causing her to erupt in laughter which she did not fully recover from until they got to her room. “See, no one noticed.” He grinned, leaning down and kissing her as soon as she closed the door.

“Because you made me seem like a crazy person, they were probably worried I was going to do something mental!” she scoffed, pulling him to her.

Chapter Text

“We really should eat,” Tom commented, his lips barely leaving Danielle’s.

“Mmhmm, yes.” She agreed, but her actions conflicted with her words as she attacked his mouth again. “In a sec.”

“You are your own worst enemy.” Tom chuckled as he pulled her closer to him.

“Tom.” Her voice was a pleading gasp.

Tom did not take a moment to understand what it was she was begging for, lifting her up so that her legs were around his waist. “Elle.” He moaned into her mouth as her body rubbed against his. “We…food.”

“Soon.” She groaned, grinding herself into him.

That was all Tom could bear, after craving her for so long and finally having been able to have her, Tom turned and placed her on the bed, crawling over her as his hands gently but purposely making their way to her ass. “Elle.”

“Please.” She begged, grinding herself into him, trying to show him what she craved so desperately, her hand making its way to his pants, trying to unbutton the offending item.

It took mere moments before both had attacked the clothing that were in their way, her top pulled up, her bra pulled down slightly, her breasts exposed, her pants thrown across the room, its current location unknown to either of them due to their lust. Tom’s shirt was open and his pants and boxers pulled down only enough to be out of the way. “How are you so eager again already?” He smiled, he was by no means complaining, but he was curious as to the cause of her eagerness.

“I…too long.”

Not waiting for her to go further into an explanation, Tom caressed the skin of her hip before slowly allowing his hand to gently slide in between her legs. “Elle.”

“Yes.” Her consent, though he knew she gave it without speaking, was all the better when she uttered it. Her hands making their way to his ass, loving that she finally got to touch it, having almost punctured her lip on more than one occasion with her teeth while watching Crimson Peak and The Night Manager and seeing his delectable derriere on screen, dreaming of being able to feel it in her hands, finally getting to do so; since she could not do so from above him the night before.

“My turn in charge.” He grinned sinfully, gently pulling himself down her body until his face was just over the apex of her thighs, his warm breath causing her to moan as it brushed against her exposed body. He glanced up at her for a moment, and seeing the eager nod she gave, began to use his tongue to moisten her enough to use his fingers on her, before using his thin lips to suck her clit from its hiding place and putting two slender fingers into her, stroking her wet body, knowing at any moment he would find that spot within her that had turned her so wanton mere hours before. “Where are you.” He teased before nipping gently at her now exposed clit. The manner in which she swore as she bucked off the bed to his mouth told him his search was successful. “Good?”

“Fuck, Tom.”

“You sound good like this.” He grinned, noting how much wetter she was getting.

“Stop fucking teasing me.” She growled, her hand going to his head, trying to get him to continue what he was doing.

“Tsk, tsk, so eager.” He teased, but wanting her to come to orgasm quickly, he attacked her clit again with his lips, pursing them tightly around it as his tongue gently flicked against it, his fingers stroking over the small nerves within her with purpose, not wanting to prolong his actions much longer.

“Tom.” Elle yelped as her legs began to shake and it began to feel too good. “I…”

Tom said nothing in response, instead he hastened his actions, his reward was her blunt nails scratching his scalp as her ass left the bed and her body bowed up to him, wanting as much friction as was possible. He moaned as he felt her release around his fingers and against his chin, his lightly whiskered facial hair only adding to her pleasure. Finally, she slumped onto the bed, her breaths fast and shallow. “I take it that as you enjoying yourself.” He grinned.

“Eh, yeah.” She gasped between breaths, “Did I…did I hurt you?”

“Not at all, I actually enjoyed that.” he grinned, pulling himself up next to her, bringing the duvet over them.

“What about you?” she asked, looking at him.

“What about me?”

“Don’t you want to…?”

Tom frowned for a second, noting the hurt tone of her voice, trying to figure out what had caused her mood to slump so suddenly after she had clearly been pleasured. “Don’t I want to what?”

“You…you didn’t…” Danielle bit her lips together, her upset confusing him.

“Wait, you think I don’t want to…” he realised, she nodded, to her shock, he chuckled. “Oh, my beautiful Elle.” He pulled her into him, kissing her before taking her hand and guiding it down his body until it was met by a very hard appendage. “Does this look like disinterest to you?” he asked playfully.

“But then, why not…”

“If you want to, then yes, but I am not the sort of man to expect that getting you off means I can just mount you like a broodmare and chase my own pleasure immediately after.” He scoffed.

“God, you are so blunt sometimes.” Danielle laughed, but she pulled him in for another kiss, pulling him over her as she did so. “I want to make you feel good too. So, here is your choice Mister Hiddleston.” She stated confidently.

“Ooh, I like the way you say that Darling.” He grinned as he raised a brow.

“Duly noted. So, you can have your way here,” she grabbed his ass and pulled herself up so her drenched core rubbed against the underneath of his cock, the appendage seemingly realising what it was so close to and twitched eagerly as he moaned at the sensation she sent shooting through it. “Or, you can have it here.” She leant her face toward him, her lips pressing against his before her tongue snaked into his mouth.

“Fuck, you are a little tease.” He groaned, “I… fuck.” His mind clouded, not knowing which to have. Tired from the days of jetlag and travel, he slumped down on her for a moment and found himself rubbing against her leg, her smaller height meaning her core was closer his abdomen. Thinking he meant to imply he wanted to be in her, Danielle shirked down slightly until her heat was at the head of his leaking cock. “Yes.” He hissed, pushing himself up, his previous preparations meaning she was able to take him as he buried himself within her. Instantly, she wrapped her legs around and clenched herself around him. “Shit, you can do that on command?” he asked, looking down at her. Danielle gave a wicked grin in return. “Do it again.” She did, and he made a strangled noise as her body clenched around him. Wanting to feel even more pleasure, he started to move his hips, just slightly at first before his tempo and force increased slightly. “Whoever would have thought that the perfectly behaved Elle could be so fucking good at teasing?” he grinned, before kissing her again.

“Am I a tease?” she grinned, loving how his dimensions seemed to almost perfectly fit her, he was big and long, but it did not overstretch her.

“You fucking know it, don’t be so coy.” He snarled, the sound of his body hitting against hers was beginning to become cruder as her wetness flooded her thighs. “Fuck…Elle, you feel so fucking good.” He moaned. “I…Fuck.”

“Yes.” She clenched around him again, her nails digging into his toned ass.

For a moment, she was unsure as to whether she had hurt him with the noise he made as she clenched, but the frantic way he pounded into her, making pleading noises for more caused her to do it again. “Fuck!” he groaned, taking a few strong thrusts to fill her. His breathing heavy as he leant his forehead against hers. “I am so sorry.”

“For what?” she asked, confused.

Tom slid his hand between them, not surprised when he felt her exposed clit out, begging to be touched. Eagerly, he began to toy with it, moving his hips slightly as he was still not after softening, hoping to add more pleasure. “A gentleman should never leave a lady wanting.” He grinned, moving slightly, loving the way Elle was trying to force herself to remain quiet. “Don’t love, don’t hold it in, let me know how good it is.” He begged.

“I…”

“Yes.”

“Tom.”

“Danielle, my beautiful Elle, let me hear you, let go my love.”

The kind words he used causing her legs to shake more as her climax built, the feeling of him in her, the wet sound of their juices combined spurring her on. “Tom.”

“Please Elle, give me another one.” He begged, hastening his fingers as his cock began to soften slightly. “I want to give you another one.”

“Yes.” Her hips began to rise to him, she began to rub herself against him. “Tom.”

“That’s my beautiful Elle, come on darling.”

Wantonly, Danielle ground herself against him, moving herself in a way that his cock rubbed her just right before she flooded around him again, her cries mere soundless gasps.

“That’s it, love, that’s it.” He encouraged loving the feel of her clenching around him. “That’s it.”

Danielle slumped onto the bed under him, covered in their sweat. “I…Fuck me.” She exclaimed.

“Give me a few, I need to recover from that first.” He joked, falling to his side beside her, before pulling her over to him. “Who could have guessed you were so passionate.” He smiled, playing with her hair.

“Do I seem boring?” she asked.

“Not boring, no, just, I think I thought that id I was to get to see you like this, I would have to fight through a lot of walls first to do so.”

“I am not going to lie, Tom, it sounds like you are implying I am an easy lay.” She looked at him to show her hurt.

“No Elle, Jesus, I would never say that. You said you didn’t do it since you came to England, so that tells me you’re not. I just…I am making a total balls of this. You are better than I ever could have hoped, you…you just are amazing in every way.” He tried to explain.

“I…What on Earth have you been doing in relationships?” She asked, looking at him worriedly. He looked at her questioningly. “I thought, well, by today’s standard, that I am very normal in bed, and you think that is amazing?”

“You can be normal and amazing, I am not exactly ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ either.”

“Really, that Interview photo shoot says different?”

“You liked that?” Tom asked with a raised brow.

Danielle curled in against him. “Well, it was different.”

“What did you really think?” he asked, pulling her back a little.

“I think we should order food.” She tried to turn to get out of bed. “Are you trying to get in a certain shape for a role, because there is a carbonara here that will…TOM!” he pulled her back to him, pinning her under him, a wolfish smile on his face.

“Answer me Elle.”

“No.” she squeaked.

“You liked it, didn’t you? Are you into that sort of thing?” his eyes flickered side to side as he studied her.

“No, but…”

“But? But is interesting, but what, darling?”

Danielle pulled a pillow over her face. “You looked good.” Her voice muffled slightly.

“How good?” Tom smiled.

“Very. Enough for me to buy the magazine, and not throw it into the recycling after.”

“Can I let you in on a little secret my dear.” Danielle pulled the pillow off, her face red from her admission. “I was uncomfortable as hell doing it, but I enjoyed it.”

“You didn’t look it.”

“I am glad you think so.” He smiled, leaning down to kiss her again. “Now, what is this about a carbonara?”

Chapter Text

“I can’t wait to see you.” Tom’s voice seemed husky over the phone.

 

“Go to sleep, I can hear the jetlag from here.” Danielle scolded.


“Yes, Ma’am,” Tom stated; she could almost hear him doing a military salute. “When are you back?”

“Saturday, but I have to go straight to Suffolk, I really need to see poor Mac, he must think I’ve abandoned him.”

 

“Mum says he is curled up in front of the fire as happy as Larry.”

“I really want to know who the hell Larry is, and why is he always so happy.” She commented back.

“Yes, so do I.” Tom chuckled. “So, if it’s alright with you, I was hoping I could see you this weekend?”

 

“Your mum, though. How can we possibly manage that?”

“I know, I know it will be more difficult, until we tell them, by the way, why aren’t we telling her?”


“Tom, can you imagine what she is going to say?”

 

“She is going to be happy; you know that she adores you.” Tom countered before he yawned. “I am going to get some sleep and head to mum’s tomorrow.”

“I’m not there til the weekend.”

“But I want mum to cook me food.”

“You are such a mummy’s boy Tom Hiddleston.” She laughed.

“You say that as though I would deny it.” That only caused her to laugh more. “Are you enjoying it, your job I mean?”

“Yeah.” There was a small waver in her voice.

 

“Elle?”

“I’m just…I feel so drained, you know?”

“Yes, I do. You see it a lot, I mean, the cast have it fairly tiring, long hours, learning lines, hours of standing around waiting for it to be perfect conditions, retake after retake, but while they are doing that, the crew are there before them, working through, and even after.” He explained.

 

“Exactly.” She smiled, happy he understood her. “I miss you.”

“I miss you too, darling.”

 

“Shit, I am being called back, I will text you as the day goes on, Tom.”

“Not if I text you first.” His smile audible through the phone.

“You are adorkable, you know that?”

“So I have been told. I better let you go. I will talk to you later. Bye, darling.”

“Bye Tom.”

 

Tom smiled as he came off the phone, excited for the few days ahead, getting to see his mum and Danielle, all away from the hustle and bustle of city life. He went to call his mother to check if she minded him coming, knowing full well she wouldn’t. When he realised there was a text from Benedict.

 

Ben – Just a heads up.

 

And under it, a link to an article stating that Taylor’s plane was in Stansted, and the article implying she was back in Britain to see him.

 

Tom – Cheers mate.

 

Ben – You might want to warn Danielle.

 

Tom – Why?

 

Ben – Well, I know she is not one to jump to conclusions man, but she needs to be reassured, same as anyone else.

 

Tom – Right. Good thinking.

 

Tom got up Danielle’s number.

 

Tom – Darling, there is a story going around online that Taylor is in London, to see me, I know I don’t need to tell you, but I am not meeting her, I just wanted to give you reassurance.

 

Danielle – Not sure why you thought I would be worried. : )

 

Tom – Well, Ben thought it best to warn you, just in case.

 

Danielle – That is very good of you both. Tell him I say thank you.

 

Tom – He is still badgering me regarding when this dinner is happening.

 

Danielle – Shit, I am busy for ages after this at evening time.

 

Tom – I know, you mentioned that already. We could invite them to Suffolk?

 

Danielle – Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Can you check if they can come, it’s a long enough drive for them for some dinner! Shit, I am needed, apparently, there is talk of an explosion, why do they want explosions, there is no need for a fucking explosion.

 

Tom – Don’t work an action film, darling.

 

Danielle – The stress would kill me. Bye. Xx

 

Tom smiled at the phone for a moment before getting back to Benedict.

 

Tom – She’s not overly bothered.

 

Ben – Good. Now, about that dinner….

 

Tom – Are you and Sophie available anytime over the weekend?

 

Ben – we are, but I thought you said she was in Suffolk.

 

Tom – She is going to be, and I am going to be there tomorrow.

 

Ben – Then how is that conducive to us all having a meal?

 

Tom – can you and Sophie come here?

 

Ben – What day suits? Apparently, the idea of not being hostess is enticing to my pregnant wife.

 

Tom – Saturday, 7 pm.

 

 Ben – I’ll get my parents to mind Kit.

 

With plans made, Tom beamed excitedly; he gave Elle a quick text to say what was going on and went to grab his running gear.

 

*


“So, any plans for the Bank Holiday, Irish?” Jack, a member of the sound crew asked as the crew all circled the food tent.

 

“Home, see my dog, my boyfriend, have a few friends over, you?”

 

“Football.” He beamed.

 

“Soccer.” She nodded. “Any good matches on? Or are you just waiting to see Man Utd. sink to the bottom of the table gracelessly?”

“A woman who actually understands the Premier League, a rare commodity around here.”

“I just like sports.” She shrugged, “Soccer is sort of a religion here, so you know, can’t help but know about it.”

 

“And who do you support?” Jeff, the gaffer, asked.

“Who says I support it?”

“Do you?”

“Arsenal.” She grinned. “My uncle lived next to Highbury for years, I remember him bringing me to a game as a kid.” They ate discussing the soccer, and the rise and fall of great players and teams for a while. When they say the director coming over, they groaned slightly.

 

“It’s not two yet,” Jeff complained.

 

“No, but we are being told to hurry on.” He groaned.

 

“You sound as happy as us about that.” Mike, a sound technician noted.

 

“Apparently, our whole movie is in the way of a not previously booked music video shoot.” His irritation clear.

 

Danielle had a sinking feeling in her stomach. “Really?”

 

“Yes; and this princess is not one to be said no to.”

 

“Because, let me guess, she is richer than we’ll ever be, and saying no to her means about four scathing songs and a lawsuit saying we cost her a hundred million in lost revenue?”

The crew looked at her. “You sound like you know who it is?”

 

“I have a fair idea.”

“So you know Taylor Swift?” The director asked. “Have you worked with her before?”

“Fuck no,” Danielle commented. “I….I have had less than pleasant interactions with her, and I very much would like to keep the interactions I have had as the only ones I will ever have.” She rose to her feet. “Where am I needed, and how quick can I get out of here?”

“The set is ready for inspection.” The director commented, looking at her carefully. “She is shooting a video here in an hour.”

“We can’t get the scene done in that.” One of the camera crew groaned.

 

“We can and we will if the cast do it right, apparently she has a new song that needs to be shot in this studio, today, and regarding you going home Danni, I’m afraid you are asked to stay behind, there are safety concerns.”

“Surely her video production company have people that deal with that, she is effectively their greatest financial asset, so surely they have people that they trust not to want to her get hurt.” She stated immediately. “I mean it, Bill, I am going home.”

“Danni…”

“Seriously, fire me if you have to, I am fucking not going to be here when that bitch arrives.” She stated and stormed off.

 

“Well now, that is interesting,” Jeff commented. “What’s that about?”

Condon sighed. “Danni has been photographed with Tom Hiddleston and linked to him when he was with Swift, apparently they are close family friends and Ms. Swift was none too happy about it, there are even stories that Danni is the one that caused them to break up.”

“Jesus.” Jeff laughed. “So there is a fair chance that Danni is the person the song is about then?” he joked.

 

Bill gave him an odd look. “It was Swift herself that said to have her here; she specifically asked the studio that Danni be the Safety Officer.”

“Why would she do that if she hates her?”

“Because, I think Jeff’s right, whatever she is squawking on about this time, it is for Danni to hear, up close, front and center.”

 

*

Danielle was forced to swallow back her tears of anger. It was made clear, the manager of the production studio came to her himself, either she does as she was told and remain on set, or she would be fired on the spot; and her name blacklisted. Taylor choosing the studio was bigger than she ever could be, and they were willing to bend over backward for the American star. If she wanted Danielle there, then Danielle would be there.

 

Danielle knew why she wanted her there, she knew it was to say something, to do something, to make Danielle angry, to try and provoke her, make the pop tart the victim of another terrible mean bully; so, composing herself, she readied herself for whatever was to come, knowing that whatever it was, she could take it, because, at the end of the day, Tom had chosen her over Taylor.

Chapter Text

It took every fibre of restraint in Danielle’s being to not want to go over and slap that smarmy tart across the face as she gave the Safety Officer a sickeningly sweet false smile on her entered the set for everything she had said of Danielle and of Tom. Danielle remained right next to the head of the studio, who of course, would not miss the opportunity to suck up to the famous pop star. It was her best defence, knowing from Taylor’s demeanour that she would relish in getting Danielle fired.

“Well then, Ms Hughes, this is the placements for everyone, is there any issue?” the producer and choreographers asked.

Scanning the plans, her eyes widened. “You can’t do this.”

“And why not?” Taylor demanded, “Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t. That is the difference between an artist and some set worker, you lack the vision to do something like this.”

“Actually, I am sorry to inform you, Ms Swift, this is not a revolutionary idea, it has, in fact, been done ad nauseum. The issue here is not the inability to do it, but the safety factors involved. That.” she pointed to a nearby pillar, “Is purely for decoration, it not for function. It is only plasterboard and other cheap, breakable materials, and is not attached to the ceiling, or indeed the floor. Your dancers are very much at risk if you have them dance too close to it, it could very easily fall over, and though it is not functional, it is close to half a tonne in weight, not something I could ever possibly sign off on as being safe.” She explained logically, loving the fact that every word she spoke drove Taylor more and more to the brink of a tantrum, knowing that she could not argue Danielle’s point without others thinking her as being nothing more than petulant. “I can suggest other safer areas if you’d like.” She offered the producer.

The rest of the shoot went as well as it could in Danielle’s opinion, considering the main person dictating the shoot was the narcissistic ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend who seemed hell-bent on getting a reaction from Danielle. The song, as Danielle had gathered, was not only slating Tom as a user, a manipulator and a cheat, but also ensured to hint that Danielle, or the ‘The Heeler’ the title of the song referenced to, was the reason for the protagonist’s pain and hurt. She just bit her lips together and made comments to the producer where necessary to ensure the safety of everyone on set; though were Taylor to be hit across the head by a low beam, she would not have been entirely heartbroken.

“Thank you for all your hard work, Taylor was right to specifically ask for you.” The producer smiled politely.

Danielle mulled over those words for a moment when something came to her. “I have never worked with Ms Swift before, how did she even hear of me?” she asked, playing innocent.

“Well, I assume it has something to do with your work on other music video’s.” the producer dismissed, thinking nothing of it.

“I have never done a music video.” Danielle countered.

The producer frowned, “Did you work stateside?”

“I have never been to the States. This is my fourth ever gig. Sherlock, a soap opera, Game of Thrones, Beauty and the Beast.” She listed off.

“Odd, she knows no one really on those; your reputation obviously precedes you, because she was adamant about having you here.” He shrugged and walked off, leaving Danielle very concerned as to how Swift knew her career change.

“She’s over there, black jacket saying S.O. on it.” She heard a guy instruct.

Terrified as to who it was, she turned, shocked to see Luke Windsor coming towards her, grimacing internally at the annoyed look on his face “Mr Windsor.”

“Ms Hughes.” He replied curtly.

“You do not look best pleased.” She commented.

“Perhaps that is because I am not.”

“Is it anything to do with my relationship with one of your clients?” she gambled.

“That is exactly what it is.”

“Have we been spotted?” She knew it was only a matter of time before they were, but she had hoped to have spoken with Sophie before being thrown to the wolves or crazy fan girls as the case may be.

“No, there is no hint of anything.”

She frowned. “Then I don’t understand.”

“Would you like to know how I found out my biggest actor is seeing a set safety officer?”

“Tom sending a drunken text?” she guessed.

“No, that would actually have been better.” He growled. “I fond out when I was speaking with Emma, Watson that is, and she made mention that she has seen Tom quite frequently of late, and how she was delighted he found a, and I quote ‘great, down to earth and decent’ girlfriend.” He explained.

“I know you’re mad Tom didn’t tell you that your conversation with me fixed our little miscommunication issue, but I am just going to bask in the knowledge that the Emma Watson called me those things.”

“You were just as capable of telling me.”

“I am not your client, though. I can’t imagine your secretary putting through my calls.”

Luke made a face that told her he could not argue that. “Well, a warning from either of you would have been nice, I need to make sure that when this does become public, that I actually know what is going in, as it stood, I thought there was nothing between you.”

“Shh!” Danielle looked around to see if anyone was close by. Luke looked around confused. “I…Do not bring that up here, please.”

“Why not?”

“Well, one; I don’t want anyone thinking I got where I am by sleeping with an actor, and two; of all the days for that to be made public here, today is not the day.”

“Why not?”

“You have no idea who’s here, do you?” he shook his head. “Your favourite pop princess.”

Luke’s face fell, his pallor changing. “What?”

“People were wondering why she was in London; she is here to shoot her new video, in this studio, today, and guess who the song is about?”

“I am going to kill him. I warned him.”

“I know, but there is nothing we can do about it.” She soothed.

“How bad is it?”

“He manipulated and used her, and I made him cheat on her with me.” She explained.

“Fuck,” he shook his head.

“You need to go,” Danielle stated. Luke looked at her almost indignantly. “If she sees you here, she will make a big deal of this, you are Tom’s publicist so she will know we’re together. She already knows I’m working here. That’s already too much.”

“Well, if you knew she was going to be here, why did you take this job, are you actively looking for trouble?” he growled.

“I was told, under no uncertain terms, that should I leave set today, after my actual job, I would be blacklisted. She demanded me specifically.” She informed him. “How she even knew I was working here, or indeed that I changed careers, I don’t know.”

Luke’s brows furrowed. “She wouldn’t have known?”

“They were broken up when I moved into it, and Tom didn’t find out until a month ago. There’s no way she should know.”

“Unless she has been keeping tabs on you.” Danielle cocked her head slightly, “Why come to London to shoot a video, the company she is using,” he looked at the emblem on the side of a soundboard case. “That’s an American company, she flew it all here.”

“She wouldn’t have done it specifically for me.” Danielle dismissed.

“Wouldn’t she?” Luke challenged. “I went snooping on PR Barbie when she and Tom were linked. I cannot believe these words are coming out of my mouth, but I agree with Kim Kardashian, she is a snake.”

“Hey, we don’t even know that woman, don’t judge her.”

“She got famous for nothing.”

“Actually, she got famous for something; something I don’t think many people would be willing to do, but to say she maintained fame shows she is not an absolute airhead, she’s worth more than you and I are.”

“You don’t strike me as a trash television fan.” Luke eyed her up and down.

“Never saw her show, not overly bothered by her existence, I just don’t know her, and as a fellow woman, I commend her for doing well with her life.” She shrugged.

Luke was about to say something else to her, but his eyes flickered over her shoulder and his jaw clenched. He made a slight movement of his eyes to Danielle to inform her who was coming towards them.

Taking a deep breath, Danielle composed herself and turned around. “Is there anything more you need Ms Swift?” she asked, though keeping the words polite was difficult.

“So you were only after him in the end, that’s a surprise.” She snarked, looking between the pair. “I was right all along.”

“I do not know what you are talking about.” Danielle feigned ignorance. “Mr Windsor and I are merely discussing his client and a future lunch between themselves and myself.”

“He seems to have only one client, and he follows him everywhere like a faithful puppy.”

Luke’s brows rose at Taylor’s comments. Danielle only laughed. “It wouldn’t be a successful PR firm if he had only one client. He has others, one of whom I happen to be a huge fan of, and whom I am working with at present, so with her being on this set, but having to leave early today to facilitate you, and him stuck in a meeting dealing with the premieres for this movie, he is merely relaying her message to me while here.”

Luke stared at Danielle, impressed with how she had concocted a story from thin air and had stated it with such conviction, he had to remind himself for a moment with was fabricated.

Taylor glared at her, “So you expect me to believe you aren’t sniffing around my scraps?”

“I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what you believe or not, it is no concern of mine. My only concern here was that nothing happens anyone on set when shooting, I have done my job, so I am getting ready to go home for the evening, perhaps get some room service, and see what’s on TV.”

“God you’re boring.”

“Perhaps to you, but I’m happy, and that’s all that I am concerned with.” Danielle smiled, seeing the head of the studio coming, she decided to finish the conversation, even if Taylor didn’t want to. “Have a safe flight to your next destination Ms Swift, and thank you so much for asking for me today.”

Taylor’s nostrils flared at her manner. “What?”

“Well, I thought you would like to know that the money you’ve paid me for this shoot means I can take a month’s break after these few reshoots and spend it with those I love and get a new car, so thank you.” She beamed as the singer stared at her blankly. “You’ve paid for my Christmas and car.” She almost burst out laughing, loving how Taylor seemed to only then realise it was entirely true. “Thank you and safe journeys.” With that, she gave a wave goodbye to her superiors and walked off.

“You lie with too much ease,” Luke commented, having followed her out of earshot.

“I am dating an actor, I work with actors, all I see day and night are lies, people pretending to be people they’re not, people pretending to believe everything they say, you pick it up easy enough.” She commented, going for the exit.

When they came to Luke’s car, he stopped, looking at her for a moment. “I didn’t think I would be saying this, but you may actually be able to survive the gauntlet that being with Tom requires.”

“I hope so, but I’m not always sure. I am so scared of when we are found out.”

“Don’t you want to be with him?” Luke asked, confused.

“Yes, God yes. But it’s not really him and me in this relationship, though, is it? It’s us and every fan girl, gossip rag, and ex-pop girlfriend’s, that’s the worry.”

“If he wasn’t famous, would this be a concern to you? Would you be so sceptical?”

“If Tom worked as, I dunno, what would Tom be if he wasn’t an actor? I suppose something in literature, isn’t that what everyone thinks; then I would actually be happier, and probably not have spent five years of trying to convince myself I wasn’t completely in love with his dorky nutty ass.” She laughed.

“But he is an actor,” Luke commented.

“Yes, and a brilliant one.” Danielle concurred. “But it means we are not allowed be normal, are we? I mean, even you have an internet following, just because of him being him. I am just trying to get used to it Luke, I am doing everything I can to. I love him, I love everything from the fact he seems morbidly afraid of learning how to work a washing machine to the fact that his greatest brag in life is he can cook a breakfast, to even that weird attempt he does at dancing.”

“That fucking dancing.” Luke shook his head, causing Danielle to laugh. “What about the fact he is being seen as getting older now, getting…well, thinner haired.”

“If he heard you.” She scolded. “I guess he is going to get a few more ‘Dad’ roles in the near future, and yes, his hairline is receding a little, but if he turns out as bald as a coot, why would I care, he would still be the same dork that tripped over his own gangly limbs the first day I met him, the same guy that seemed to think it appropriate to make a sex noise because I made his tea right on the first go in my new kitchen, and the same guy who acted as though I gave him the moon when I got him a joke present of Baloo in the Disney store.”

“You really do love him, Tom the person, not the actor.”

“I met Thomas first, Tom came along after, and to be honest, being in the spotlight caused him to become colder, more clammed up in public, which startled me really, but when he is away from that, when he is behind closed doors, he is still the same happy sweet guy, thankfully. I was so scared she had destroyed that, it scared me so much; I wanted to save that part of him. When I fought with him during that relationship, I would have had it that he hate me for eternity than him risking becoming a cold person.” She explained. “Have a good evening Mr Windsor, and I’m truly sorry for any trouble today may cause for you.” She opened her car door and got in, leaving Luke slightly flabbergasted for a moment, before getting into his own car, mulling over her words, knowing that of any attempt Tom had at a relationship in the time they were working together, Danielle was there for the right reasons, and he found himself hoping she would be the one to stick.

Chapter Text

“Wait, what?” Tom froze mid-step when Luke told him what had occurred. “Say that again.”

“Taylor Swift was in London, to shoot a music video, and ensured your girlfriend was there to ridicule and taunt with a song about you,” Luke explained. “Then when that was done, she tried again to hurt her by making nasty comments to her.”

“Danielle…”

“Was more composed than I was, and that is saying something. I won’t deny her cattiness is something she may have to rein in if she is like that with others too, but the way she slipped in insults was utterly diabolical.” Luke chuckled.

“Wait, are you actually saying you approve of her, of Elle?” Tom did not know what part was more difficult to believe. I’ll call you back later Luke, I need to ring her.” Luke didn’t even get to respond before the line went dead; telling him Tom had hung up and was in the process of calling Danielle.

*

Danielle panted as she forced herself to finish the last kilometre. Her new work schedule meant her training had taken a hit; and the winter months with the associated fewer hours of sunlight, she was lucky to fit in a session when she could. Finally, she came to the end and sighed in relief, slowing to a walk so to keep her muscles fresh while she got back to her hotel.

She had been expecting some sort of backlash for what she had said to Swift, some form of online rant or perhaps a rag paper front page, but as yet, she heard nothing, a full day after it happened. She had Luke promise her just to let her know if there was anything, and what was to be her line if it made mention of her and Tom, but he said nothing, she saw nothing; and in truth, she thought perhaps she should be relieved, but she felt only concerned.

Taking out her key card, she swiped it and went into her room, just as her phone told her she had received a text. She walked over and slid the lock screen off, causing her eyes to widen when she read it. Fourteen missed calls and twenty texts, albeit, fourteen of which only told her she had fourteen missed calls, and all of them from a mixture of Tom’s and his mother’s house phone. The texts all just said for her to talk to him, that he was sorry for what he had put her through; that, if she was honest, confused her. So foregoing her shower until after she spoke with Tom, she pressed the call back button. “Hey.” She got in as soon as she heard the phone pick up.

“Elle, why didn’t you tell me, are you mad, I am so sorry, darling.”

“Calm down, what are you on about?” She laughed down the phone at his franticness.

“Taylor.”

Danielle felt a heavy sensation in her stomach. “What has she done now?”

“She saw you yesterday; she forced you to work with her.” Tom seemed somewhat confused as though it was obvious what he was referencing.

“It's fine, it was public, so she couldn’t go too far, and I had Luke there. Though to be honest, I still waiting for the backlash, I don’t think she is going to let it slide. What about you? Did Luke tell you about the song?”

“Yeah, I am not worried about that, I am worried about you, I thought you were mad at me.”

Elle laughed a little again at how insecure Tom could be behind his public persona, “What makes you think that you silly man?”

“You didn’t answer your phone.”

“I was out running, I don’t bring my phone with me. It was a fifteen k slow pace, so it took a while, longer than usual since I am getting out of shape.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Tom, the time doesn’t lie. My heart rate goes up faster.”

“That’s because you’re thinking of me.” She could hear him smiling on the other end of the phone, causing her to laugh. “So, you’re not mad?”

“No, I’m not mad, tired, sweaty, cranky, but not mad.”

“Why are you cranky?” Tom asked in concern.

“I didn’t sleep well last night, I am worried about her retaliation.”

“Don’t, there’s nothing she can do to hurt us, darling. The worst she can do is attack me, and in all fairness, the worst of it was public anyway.”

“The tank top?”

“The tank top,” he confirmed. “Nothing will beat that.”

“Well, that’s something.” Danielle sighed before checking her watch. “Shit, I have work in an hour and a half, I better get washed and fed. I will text you later, alright?”

“I can’t wait to see you this weekend.”

“Are Ben and Sophie still coming?”

“They asked what wine you drink and have pawned off Christopher to his grandparents, so yes, they are.”

“I don’t really like wine.”

“I have 7up bought to add to it.” Tom chuckled, knowing well that Danielle tended to drink wine like that.

“They are going to laugh at me.”

“They will not, sure Sophie cannot drink.”

“True.”

“I’ll go help mum sort your place tomorrow. Mac and I had a great walk today too.” Tom smiled.

“Yeah? I miss him. Is he mad at me?”

“No, I think he just misses you, but we all do, it’s weird being the one left behind.”

“I miss you guys as well.”

“Really? How much?”

There was a hint in his voice that told her where the conversation was going. “I suppose you’ll just have to wait and see Mr Hiddleston.” She replied as sultrily as her tiredness would allow.

“Darling, when you say my name like that it should be deemed a sin.” He chastised, his own voice deepening slightly. “I cannot wait to have you.”

“Have me? I think you forget Thomas, you are staying in your mothers, and we have guests at mine this weekend, there won’t be much time for ‘having me’.”

“Bollix, that’s not happening. I am going to ravish my girlfriend, and guests be damned. Ben and Sophie can’t talk, they know these things, otherwise, she wouldn’t be pregnant.” He argued.

“And what about your mum?”

“Well…”

“Tom.” There was hesitation in her voice.

“We have to tell them sooner or later. It’s been over a month.” Tom argued before his voice went sort of low. “Don’t you want her to know?”

“I do, I just get worried about everything.” She replied. “I mean, if this doesn’t work, or if it causes her to have paps in her face again, I don’t want to make her life difficult.”

“You see, this is why you are perfect, you care about others and their feelings. It won’t cause any issues, and mum will be delighted. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts hinting to things very quickly.”

“Now you are definitely getting ahead of yourself.”

“Wait and see, she will,” Tom promised. “I am going to leave you now, you need something proper to eat before work, I will see you soon.”

“Two days.” Elle smiled.

“Two days, too long.” He retorted. “I cannot wait. Safe night at work, darling.”

“Bye Tom.”

*

Tom took the phone from his ear and smiled as he looked down at the screen. He took a photo of Elle when she was watching a movie with him and Emma on the sofa and she had a piece of popcorn at her lips, her focus on the telly. It was a candid shot, and the lighting wasn’t great, but the brightness in her eyes and the small smile she had always made his stomach jolt slightly when he looked at it. He turned and the smile fell from his face. “Mum.” He looked at her as though caught doing something wrong.

Diana was standing in the doorway, her arms folded and her eyebrow raised. “I will be hinting towards what very swiftly, Thomas?”

“I…Were you listening?”

“I caught a few of the final sentences. The gist of which being, you have someone new now, and you think I will approve.” She replied, entering the room. “Well, will I?”

“Yes.”

“|Who is she? Tell me about her.”

“I want her to be here too.” He answered.

“And when will that be? Is she coming with you and Benedict and his wife to Danielle’s home this weekend?”

Tom swallowed hard, he hated lying to his mum, he always had, but he could not reveal it was actually Danielle herself yet, so he simply told the truth, sort of. “Yes, she’ll be there.”

“And Danielle doesn’t mind?”

“Not in the slightest.” Tom grinned at that part because that was entirely the truth.

“Good.” She nodded. “I assume you will give me a few moments to meet her.”

“Yes, mum.”

“Is it that blonde from UNICEF?”

“No mum, she is married.”

“No wonder, she’s a beautiful woman.”

“And very nice.” Tom agreed.

“And does this woman you are clearly smitten for have a name?” Diana asked.

Tom panicked. “Mum, you’ll meet her at the weekend, I promise.” He went over to her. “And I am not smitten.”

“Thomas, tell me to my face that when you finished that phone call, you were not smiling like a loon at your phone. You are clearly smitten for whoever she is.” His mother smiled. “And to say Danielle doesn’t mind, means I look forward to meeting her.”

“Does Danielle’s opinion matter that much to you?” Tom asked curiously.

“Danielle has only ever had your best interests at heart, love. She cares for you deeply.” There was a hint of sadness in Diana’s voice as she spoke, which startled Tom slightly, though he had no idea why. “She is another one who needs someone to care for her.”

“Who knows,” Tom joked. “We can make one of those deals if we are both single when I turn forty, we can get married to each other.”

Diana was half way out of the room when he finished speaking, and as she went down the hallway, he was sure he heard her say. “You should be so lucky.”

Chapter Text

Tom stuck the ear buds in his ears and pressed play, chuckling to himself for a moment as ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ came on, thinking of a time Elle and Emma were out in London and his little sister thought to ring him to give them a lift back to their hotel rather than catch a cab while both were significantly inebriated, he of course, being the responsible older brother, collected them, but rather than bring them to a hotel, brought them to his place; when they got there, Emma had found his iPod and pressed play, that song again being the one to play, leaving both girls singing, horrifically it had to be said, and trying to act like Shakira, as only two drunken Western European Caucasian women could, badly. They did not fully remember their antics, but Tom did, and it still caused him to laugh as he thought of it.

 

He went into Danielle’s back garden and gave a small whistle, but Mac did not respond in any manner. Checking the dog’s converted garden shed, he noted it was empty and the heated lamp Elle had put in to keep the dog warm if she was not able to have him in the house was off. Terrified something had happened her dog, Tom looked around the garden frantically, whistling and calling the canine’s name. A single bark caused him to freeze, Mac was in the house. Tom looked up to realise that Danielle’s bedroom curtains were closed. Confused, he walked around the side of the house and only then noticed her car in the driveway. Not entirely sure what to do, he thought to just go through the garden gate and go for his jog, but a moment later, he heard Mac barking frantically before the dog was by his side. He jogged to the back door just as it was closing, gently placing his hand on it to stop it from doing so. A terrified scream from inside caused him to jump back in alarm also.

 

“Elle?” he pushed the door slightly to see what had caused his girlfriend such alarm.

 

“Tom? What the fuck?” she shrieked, allowing him in.

 

“I came to get Mac for his run, I didn’t know you were home, when I called him, he barked from inside. I though he had gotten out.” He explained.


“Why were you over at the side of the house?” she asked.

 

“I realised your curtains were drawn, so I checked for your car.” He replied sheepishly, pointing to the ceiling.

 

“Who the fuck do you think it was, Goldilocks?” she laughed in disbelief.

 

Tom gave a small smile before it fell. “Why didn’t you tell me you were back?”

“I came home three hours ago, I decided to just get my stuff from the hotel and get back, I knew if I tried to drive this morning, I would not get here til tonight. We finished yesterday, well last night, so I just got home, thinking I could sleep til noon.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Tom wrapped his arms around her, kissing her head. “I’ll bring Mac for a walk and let you get more sleep.”

“How can I go back to sleep now, you scared the shit out of me.”

“Such a classy woman…oof!” he chuckled as she poked his ribs. “Darling…”

 

“Mmm.”

“Are you falling asleep against me?”

“Maybe.”

 

“Bed.” He instructed.

 

“You smell good.” She commented into his chest.

 

“Darling, you need to get back to sleep for a while.”

“Okay.” Her tone was almost infantile, but she pulled herself from him and headed for the hallway. “Have good run.”

 

“Elle, are you heading to the sitting room?” Tom gave her a knowing smile.

 

“No want stairs.”

 

Tom chuckled and shook his head, “Come on,” he walked in through the house, leaving Mac Tíre to look at the pair indignantly, thinking he was about to go for a walk as Tom forced Danielle back up the stairs and into her room, dodging the two suitcases expertly as he brought her back to the bed. “In you get.”

 

“Tom?”

“Yes, darling?”

“I missed you.” She gave a small smile.

 

“I missed you too, love.” He grinned.

 

“Do you love me?”

 

Tom frowned for a moment, “I thought that was obvious.”

“You never said it, though.” She curled up against a pillow.

 

“I think it’s more important to show it as to say it, don’t you?” He retorted with a smile, knowing she was so exhausted, she probably was not aware she was even talking.


“S’pose.”

 

“What about you, do you love me?”

 

“More than I should.” She half groaned into the pillow.

Tom’s brows furrowed. “What do you mean?” There was no response. “Elle, what do you mean ‘more than I should’?” He leant down to be face to face with her, only to see her eyes were closed and her breathing was soft and steady, telling him she had fallen back asleep. He was tempted to wake her, to ask her why she would say such a thing. “Elle?” when she didn’t respond, he went to leave and go for his jog only to realise her hand was firmly gripped to his sleeve. “Elle, leave go, darling.” He tried to cajole her awake enough get her to let go but instead caused her to grip him tighter. “I am not getting out of here, am I?” he chuckled. Shaking his head, he took his jumper off and walked around the bed to get in behind her. “I am going to blame you when I get a ‘middle aged man belly’.” He joked, wrapping his arms around her, kissing her head before getting comfortable and falling into a small sleep himself.

 

A few hours later, Elle woke to the smell of food being cooked downstairs. “Hello?” she looked into her hand to see a hoodie in her grip, a man’s one, she looked at it in confusion before remembering Tom at her back door looking for Mac a few hours earlier, scaring the living daylights out of her. “Tom?” she called out, but there was no response. Getting out of bed stiffly, she went to the landing, heading to the bathroom before listening intently, hearing Bon Ivor playing, telling her it was her boyfriend downstairs. Grabbing the hoodie that had been in her grasp, she threw it on and went down.

 

When she entered the kitchen, Mac wagged his tail at her, causing Tom to realise she was awake and turn around, his thumb in his mouth as he had been sucking something off his finger. “She lives.” He smiled, before looking down. “I knew there was a reason you had a death grip on that.”

 

“Sorry, I’ll give it back in a minute.” She smiled back, walking over to him, snuggling into his chest. “Hello.”

 

“Hello, love.” He smiled down.

 

“How was your run?”

 

“I didn’t go in the end, I took a small nap and went to the shop and got you breakfast.” He commented.

“Wait, you were in my bed?”

“Yes, you didn’t want to let me leave apparently. I brought you upstairs because you were adamant you were going to sleep on the couch, I couldn’t have that, you are playing hostess tonight.”

“So you decided to fill me for a week?” she laughed, looking at the large fry Tom was cooking.

 

“Well, some is for me.” He wrapped his arms around her. “You’re after losing weight.” He noted.

“Well, you know how set it, meals can be hard to get some days.” She dismissed. “I don’t think I can eat the half of that.”

“Why, you love a good fry?”

“Not hungry.” At that exact moment, her stomach betrayed her, grumbling loudly.


“Elle?” he looked at her, noticing how she would not look away from the floor. “Elle, what is going on?”

“Nothing.” She looked at him for a moment, before looking away again.


“Elle?”

 

“What does ‘wholesome’ mean to you?” she asked, looking at the food cooking.

“Wholesome?” the word immediately registered somewhere in his mind. “Good, proper, why?” then it hit him. “Some of the papers called you that the night we went for dinner with mum.” He turned her round to him. “You think it means they were calling you fat, don’t you?” she didn’t look at him and swallowed. “No, no you are not letting them change you, please Elle, don’t let them do that to you.” He begged. “They meant nothing like that, they meant you were not artificial, Hollywood camera fodder, made to look like a doll, but a proper person.”

 

“I just…why would you…?”

“I love you, Elle.” She looked at him in shock. “You asked me this morning when you were half asleep if I loved you, yes, I do. I didn’t want to say it too early because I didn’t want to scare you, but I love you, exactly as you are.” He stated, looking her in the eye. “Now, I want you to tell me something.” She looked at him in a way that showed she was listening. “What did you mean this morning when you said you loved me ‘more than you should’?” he looked at her to see what she would say.

 

“I…I have been in love with you for a few years.” She admitted.

 

“Ye…Years?”

 

“Yes, which is completely weird and not healthy.”

 

“I thought you thought I didn’t love you, that you thought that I wasn’t as invested in this as you are.” He smiled, relieved to have figured out what she was talking about. He explained as he played with her hair. “I love you, Danielle, I have done for some time.” He looked at her with such adoration; she could not help but believe it. “Now, I have not seen you in a week, you have had a terrible time in work, and I am due in the US next week, so I am going to treat you as your significant other should, and kiss you.” Grinning widely, he leant down and pressed his lips to hers.

 

“You suave prick.” She smiled against his lips, pressing her own to his; her hands going almost automatically to his ass.

 

“You, my dear, are obsessed with that part of me.”

 

“Have you seen your ass, it got ‘Rear of the Year’?” she argued, “It is fucking delectable.”

“I am glad you approve.” He chuckled, pressing her into the wall.


“The food…”

 

“Damn.” Tom pulled back from her.


“So much for your claim that you can cook a full breakfast at once.” She teased, grabbing a toast. “I mean, seriously Tom.”

 

Pulling the pan off the heat and saving what he could of the food, he looked at her as soon as the last sausage was rescued. “Oh, you are in for it.” Seeing he was about to pounce, Danielle turned and bolted, squealing loudly as she ran through the door to the hallway before Tom caught her and dragged her to the sitting room. “Caught you.” He gave a wide toothful smile as he pulled her to the couch under him. “You little tease.” She leant up and kissed his nose. “I am going to tease you back.”

 

The smile fell from Danielle’s face. “Tom, no.”

“Why not darling?”

“Please, no, I beg you, not that.”

“You don’t like when I bring you right to the precipice and then leave you, frustrated and begging.” He teased; his voice deep with arousal.

 

“Fuck, Tom, don’t you dare.” She snarled, remembering the week before when he did the same to her.

 

“Tut, tut, when you are giving me lip like that.” he shook his head. He pulled down her sleep pants, knowing she was bare underneath, grinning to already see she had the telltale signs of arousal between her legs. “I cannot wait to put my mouth on your…”

“THOMAS!” The pair jumped as they looked to the door to see an appalled looking Diana staring at them.

 

“Mum!” barely thinking, Tom put himself in front of Danielle, blocking her uncovered body from view. “I…”

“The living room? Really?” Diana scolded.

 

“We…but…” Tom swallowed hard. “I…”

“Get up and sort yourselves out, it is clear we need to have a very serious discussion.” She ordered, walking into the kitchen, leaving Tom and Danielle looking at the door for a moment before looking at each other.

“Oh, holy fuck.” Danielle put her face in her hands.


“She will just probably give out about the curtains being open.” Tom rubbed her leg in comfort.

“I’m sorry, but was your nether regions on full display, because if they weren’t, you don’t get to dismiss my holy mortifying shame!” Danielle hissed. “Fuck.”

 

“It will be alright, darling. Come on, we better get this over with. And before you ask, she walked in on me before, getting off, more than once I might add. This is less embarrassing, at least this time, there’s a girl here.” He helped pull her up and waited for her to fix herself up before turning to leave.

 

“Are you really going to walk in there with that bulge in your sweatpants?” Danielle asked.

 

Tom looked down. “It always looks like that when I have no boxers on.” He dismissed.

 

“You don’t wear boxers running?” She asked in disbelief.

 

“They chaff.” Tom shrugged. “Stop procrastinating, let’s go.” He ushered her into the kitchen, neither able to look at Diana as they entered. “I’m sorry you had to accidentally witness that mum.” He stated immediately.

 

“When I asked if Danielle knew this girl you have been smitten for, I was not aware it was her you were actually talking about,” Diana stated, her tone was deadpan.

 

Danielle frowned and looked at Tom. “Mum heard the last of our conversation the other day, she figured I had a new girlfriend, and I didn’t want to give anything away.” He explained to Danielle before turning to his mother. “We planned on telling you this weekend, mum, honest. That is not how we planned on doing it.”

“I gathered as much Thomas; I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing that.” Diana scolded. Danielle felt her cheeks go red, that only caused Diana to focus on her. “How long?”

“Over a month,” Tom answered.

 

Diana looked between them. “I was told a few days after that…girl, but this is kept from me?” there was a distinct note of hurt in her voice.

 

“It’s why I came this weekend too, mum; we wanted to tell you together.” He walked over to the fridge and took out a cake. “We were going to have a nice cup of tea, sit down and tell you properly.” He explained, showing her that he had ordered a beautiful strawberry cake for them from the bakery a few towns over, her favourite, one Diana only got on special occasions. “This was going to be nice.” His tone showing his own upset at how things faired. “I’m sorry.”

 

That caused Diana to look between them again, giving them a small smile before she began to laugh. “Well, it may not have gone as anyone planned, but I think it is safe to say, that was a unique way of finding out.” Danielle just cringed. “Oh darling, you think that was bad, you should hear how James’ mother walked in on us when she came to stay, that was about the time Tom was conceived actually.”

“AAAAHHHHH, MUM!” Tom pleaded, putting his hands to his ears.


“Oh, so hearing about me is terrible, but witnessing your son strip a girl I love like a daughter is fine?” She challenged.

 

“You weren’t supposed to see that!” Tom argued.

 

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus.” Danielle sighed into her hands, her face feeling as though she could cook eggs on it with the shame.

 

 

Chapter Text

Tom stood, his phone to his ear, completely bemused at Benedict laughing in hysterics at the other end of the phone. “It isn’t funny Ben.”

“You’re absolutely right, it’s not.” Ben agreed before laughing again. “It’s fucking hilarious. You’re not getting any for the whole weekend now.”

“I haven’t seen her in over a week, and I am away for the next three,” Tom growled.

“Don’t want to know,” Benedict commented.

“Why did she have to walk in?” Tom rubbed his hand over his face, Benedict just began to chuckle on the other side of the phone.

“What’s so funny?” Sophie asked, having gotten in the passenger side of the car.

“Tom got cock-blocked by his mother.” Sophie looked at her husband with a raised brow. “She walked in on him and Danielle this morning, and poor Tom is frustrated now.”

“I don’t want to know. You, boys, are still in school mentality wise.” She shook her head disapprovingly.

“I hope she is pissed at you,” Tom growled down the phone.

“Hey, get that frustration out before we get there,” Benedict warned.

“How, she won’t let me near her.”

“I mean it Hiddleston; I am not dealing with you being sexually frustrated for the evening.” Benedict reiterated. “Do something, I don’t care what, but I am not listening to you.”

“Get off the phone then.”

“You rang me, you idiot.” Benedict chuckled back. “And to answer the question, we are about forty minutes away; we just had to stop for Sophie to go to the bathroom, the joys of pregnancy.” Tom could hear Sophie commenting in the background. “I know darling, and I love you all the more for it. We’ll see you soon Tom, just about to start up the car again, so I’ll get off.”

“You better.” Tom sighed, hanging up the phone and rubbing his face. “Elle?”

“Bedroom.” She called back. “Can I ask your opinion on something?”

Tom took the stairs two at a time to get up to her, when he made his way to her room, he audibly groaned. She was standing in just a pair of tight fitting jeans and a bra, her breasts teasing him in it. “What...” his voice squeaked high with the sight of her, so he cleared his throat. “What is it?”

“What should I wear? I mean, should I go for a blouse, a nice t-shirt, I mean, what do you wear when meeting your famous boyfriend’s famous friends?”

“Hey, Ben is as normal as you are.” Tom dismissed.

“I have met Ben, it’s his wife I am concerned about.”

“I am sure Sophie will like you whatever you’re wearing.” He wrapped his arms around her, looking down at her breasts, his tongue darting out for a moment to lick his lips.

“No, Tom.” Danielle pulled away.

“Elle…”

“No, I have had enough humiliation for one day, and we have to organise the spare room for Ben and Sophie, and…” Tom silenced her by kissing her.

“Darling, I have to go away for three weeks, I have not had you in a week, please, I know you want this as much as I do.” He argued against her lips, his hands going to her waist, his hips inadvertently pressing in against her for friction, his hard cock making itself known against her stomach. “If you don’t, say it now if you do, I am not going to be able to stop.”

“I…Tom.” She grabbed his ass as she loved to, and bit his lower lip, then pulled back slightly, gently pulling on it. “Don’t you need to get changed?”

“I was going to wear these.” He looked down. “Is it not okay?”

She looked him up and down. “The grey shoes, really?”

Tom looked down. “What, I like them?”

“And you know I would never try to tell you what to wear, but Tom, they don’t even match the outfit.” She scoffed. “I mean, you cannot wear, black, blue and grey, pick something in the same neighbourhood of colour.”

“You hate my shoes.” Tom looked at her.

“No.” she nodded slightly as she said the word, unable to keep his gaze.

Tom’s eyes widened, “You do,” he half chuckled, “You hate my shoes.”

“Hate is a strong world. I mildly dislike them.” She shrugged.

“I’m hurt…” he placed his hand over his heart and threw his head back dramatically. “Right here.” He tapped his hand twice over his chest. “Is there anything else you would have me not wear, I suppose you think I wear the gym gear too much too.”

“Actually I like your gym gear.” She stated honestly.

“So, what else?” he asked, arms folded.

“The Ralph Lauren jacket.”

“You said you like it, you lied to me.” He seemed genuinely hurt by that.

“No, I do, but you act as though you don’t have your other three summer jackets.” She argued. “I mean, I do like it, well, I liked it more before…”

“Before what?”

Danielle chewed her lip for a moment, “Before I smelled ‘Eau De Bitch’ on it.”

“Eau De…Oh, well, your grey summer jacket had Hugo Boss on it.” He playfully retorted back, seeing she was just trying to rise him.

“I know, so I got it dry cleaned.” She shrugged, smiling at how Tom’s face fell slightly. “Evanston had to put it in his locker one day at work because I forgot the key for mine and he fumigated it as a result.”

“Evanston?”

“Yeah, he is the stunt coordinator.”

“Is it not…”

“Nope.” She popped the ‘p’ playfully.

“Right, so it’s too cold for my Ralph Lauren jacket, and it needs cleaning.”

“And the shoes?”

“I like them.” He groaned childishly.

“I know, but they are ugly as fuck with that outfit, and in general.” She added the second part quietly.

“Fine, I’ll take them off so.” He untied one shoe, then the other, and kicked them off. “And this…” he proceeded to unbutton his trousers.

“I have no issue with ass hugging trousers.” She pointed out.

“And this.” He unbuttoned his shirt.

“Tom.” She warned. “Ben and Sophie will be here in minutes.”

“Thirty-Five, and since I am dressed like this, you cannot show me up by overdressing, so off these come.” He unbuttoned her black jeans.

“Tom!” She giggled as he pulled them down her legs and forced her to lift her feet one at a time off the ground to remove them.

“You are still more dressed than me.” He looked her up and down, his finger to his lip to make him appear pensive.

“We are both in out underwear.” She pointed out, laughing slightly.

“Yes, I have boxers, you are in a bra and panties, see, you are wearing more.”

“How can any man make the word ‘panties’ seem sexy?” she laughed, shaking her head.

Tom quirked a brow before leaning forward, “Panties.” He repeated, his voice deep, Danielle bit her lips together again, her pupils getting wider. “Darling, I am going to have to ravish you.”

“And why is that?” she asked curiously.

“Because you are incredibly sexy when you are all bashful and turned on.” He grinned wolfishly as he pulled her to the bed, lay down and pulled her onto him. “We have thirty minutes.”

“You seem to be making that seem like you are setting a challenge.” She laughed.

“It is, ‘how many times can I have you scream your brains out in half an hour’, and it’s a considerable challenge.”

“But your mum…”

“Doors are locked from the inside and keys in them, no unwanted visitors.” He kissed her. “And don’t mention my family right now, please.” Danielle laughed in return, kissing him back.

*

Taylor sat on the porch of her Beach house, considering what had happened in London, angered at how Danielle had spoken to her. She had checked all over the internet, social media and news sources alike, but none came up with any leads, Tom and Danielle had not been spotted together since the meal with his mother, but seeing Danielle and Luke talking, she knew in her stomach it was nothing to do with Emma Watson, she had checked for that pairing too, and it was an even emptier search than her and Tom.

Danielle had done something that other women never did with Taylor, she did not fawn over her for her considerable talents, she was effectively the most powerful young woman in music, she was a songwriter, musician, singer, owned the rights to her songs and her parents owned the majority share of her production company, so she was rich and gorgeous to boot; but Danielle Hughes, a boring, plain, background set monkey not only did not bow at her feet as others had to facilitate her, that bitch actually had the gall to challenge her, to speak to her as though she was on the same ground as her, and that could not be allowed.

Going through the numerous contacts on her phone again, an English number came up, the name with it made Taylor pause for a moment. Considering her options, she grinned slyly, checking the time difference on her phone before pressing the dial option. After a few rings, someone answered. “Good Evening, the Daily Mail, Sandra speaking, how may I direct your call?”

“Hello, may I ask who your best investigative journalist is please?” She asked in her sweetest tone with a false English accent.

Chapter Text

“I see you fitted in some stress relief.” Benedict joked as he walked into the house, giving Tom a hug as he did.

“Do you two ever stop?” Sophie shook her head and laughed, having already entered and given Tom a similar hello. “I love this table.” She commented, looking at the table that Danielle had inside the front door.

“Sophie, no stealing Elle’s things,” Ben warned, earning a confused look from Tom. “She stole my mother’s bowl recently.”

“Your father gave it to me,” Sophie argued.

“Without telling mum.” Ben countered.

“I didn’t know that.” She pointed out.

“He’s hated the fucking thing for years, so first chance he had to get rid of it, and it ends up in our place.” Tom chuckled at his friend’s overdramatic reaction to a bowl. “So, where’s Danielle?”

“Kitchen,” Tom led the way.

“Ooh, what books does she have?” Sophie asked, glancing into Danielle’s living room on the way.

“Elle, frisk Sophie on the way out,” Ben called out in warning. “She plans on robbing half your home.”

“It’s actually so nicely done,” Sophie added, heading to the kitchen, looking around as she did.

“Actually, it appears she’s just robbing the whole fucking thing.” Sophie elbowed him slightly.

When there was no response, Tom frowned. “Elle?” he called going for the kitchen door. A sniffing noise caught their attention. “Mac, get away from the door.” There was another sniff and a grumbling noise before Tom opened it.

“Tom, he got in when I was throwing out bread crusts for the birds, but I am prepping food so I can’t touch him.” Elle apologised.

“Got it, come on, big man.” He grabbed a baked pig ear and caught the dog’s attention, allowing for Ben to open the door.

“He’s huge,” Ben commented. As soon as Mac Tíre realised there was someone new to sniff, the ear was forgotten about and he trotted over to the guests. “Soph, remember the pup I told you about.”

“You said he was a scrawny rat.”

“Well, he is getting a bit fatter these days, Diana is overfeeding him.”

“She is not, he’s supposed to be fatter than you have him.” Tom defended.

“I’m sorry, did your father have a vet practice?”

“My father was in charge of the company that sold your father pharmaceuticals.”

“Actually they manufactured them, not sold them, that is done by the parent company.” Danielle corrected, sticking out her tongue at him.

“So, yes, this is apparently my girlfriend, acting like a four-year-old.” Tom indicated to Danielle as he spoke to Sophie.

“He’s just annoyed I caught him on a technicality, I’m Danielle.” Danielle dismissed as she walked over to Sophie, cleaning her hand to shake hers. Sophie, however, walked forward and hugged her. “Oh, okay. I thought English were not supposed to be overly affectionate at the beginning.”

“I am half Scottish.” Sophie smiled.

“Ah, that explains it.” Danielle grinned back. “So, what’s this bout robbing my house?” she looked to Ben, who came to hug her as well.

“Sophie is an undiagnosed kleptomaniac apparently, and your house and everything in it is next.”

“Benedict!” Sophie looked at him appalled. “I just said I like your hall table and wondered what books you had on your shelves.” Sophie put her hands up as though she was being ordered to by authorities.

Danielle just laughed. “Thank you, it was my parents, I effectively took everything from the house with me here, so anything nice, it was probably theirs and as for the books, literally, you could find anything in there, there is no rhyme or reason to it, ask Tom, it annoys him.”

“It does not.” Tom dismissed, smiling like a fool at how immediately Elle had taken to Sophie.

“You glare at it, do not deny it, I can see it in your face.”

“I like your book organisational skills as much as you like my grey shoes.” He retorted.

“Ouch!” Danielle laughed in slight disbelief, “That is cold.”

“Those shoes are fucking tragic,” Benedict interjected, though his face was a jestful one. “I mean really, Tom.”

“Funny, he said you have two pairs.” Danielle joked.

“Ooh.” Tom pointed at Benedict as he laughed at his disbelieving look at the young woman. “That turned quickly.”

“Come for dinner and I get abused.” Ben shook his head, scratching Mac Tíre’s ear. “Why do I bother?”

“I think it is something to do with the food.” Elle joked, going back to the food. “Mac, out.”

“He is fine if you want to leave him in, so long as he won’t jump on Sophie.” Ben dismissed.

“Mac isn’t allowed jump on anyone or on the couch.” Tom showed him the ear again, regaining the dog’s attention. “Bed.” Taking the ear gently, Mac trotted to his bed. “Good boy.” He smiled, “Tea?”

“Please.” There was an eagerness to Sophie’s voice that was slightly dramatic.

“Very domestic,” Ben joked.

“Yeah,” Tom smiled as he looked at Danielle, who was busy prepping something for the dinner. “Oh, Elle is making…what is…is that your…”

“Good to see Eton and Cambridge paid off, proper coherent sentences there.” Ben joked.

“You may be laughing, but you have not had Elle’s Roast Lamb and veg.”

“Nice and exotic.” Elle shrugged.

“Does it come with potatoes?” Ben asked curiously.

“Gratin and roast.”

“I am never leaving.” Ben declared as Tom handed him a cup and thanked him, then watching as he handed one to Elle. “That’s not a cup, that’s a tankard.”

“You know Irish people drink more tea than us.” Tom pointed out.

“With cups that’s size, it’s hardly a fucking surprise.” Ben laughed. “Seriously, why would anyone need a cup that big?”

“Because they want that much tea.” Elle grinned, “Food’s on, so here or the living room?”

“If just to annoy Tom with your disorganised books, we’ll go to the living room, but no promises Sophie won’t rob you.” Ben joked, rushing through the door before his wife contemplated throwing her tea at him.

*

“So, how did the music shoot go?” Ben asked as he bit into another piece of the dinner.

“Fine, all things considered. Though I think I can put my hand on my heart and say it is chaotic and completely off-putting.” Danielle responded.

“The shoot or the person.”

“The shoot, the person I wasn’t overly bothered by, considering I am two and zero on that front, the song, however, as tragic as the ‘singing’ is once again, is not exactly very nice.” She looked to Tom apologetically.

“Yeah, I read about it, ‘The Heeler’, peculiar name,” Sophie added.

“Not really, makes perfect sense, it’s about Tom and myself and I was a paramedic.”

“But it is spelt wrong.” Ben pointed out.

“Wait, H-E-E-L-E-R is it?” Sophie nodded.

“Smart play on words there.” Danielle commended. “It’s clear she didn’t come up with this on her own.”

“How?” Tom asked.

“Does she seem like a professional wrestling fan to you? I mean; did she sit down and watch Summerslam when you two were…whatever you did together?” she asked.

“Summerslam?”

“That’s a no then. Professional wrestling, The Rock, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, all those guys, the WWE, it’s a term they use. Their good guys are called ‘Baby Faces’, or ‘Faces’, and their baddies are given the term a ‘Heel’.” She explained.

“You literally will watch anything on the TV.” Tom shook his head.

Danielle shrugged, “I rather that that Keeping up with Whoever is in Vogue This Week and other reality toilet paper.”

“Definitely.” Sophie agreed, “I feel like I am alone in a sea of gossip fodder when people start waffling on about that.” she turned to her husband, who was eating more gratin, “You are going to regret that later in the week when you are running it off.”

“Don’t care, too good. Tom, how are you not going around another ten kilo’s heavier?”

“Because I don’t get it cooked for me often, Elle’s staying at the hotel and I was over stateside doing the voice work. It’s good, though, right?” Tom smiled knowingly at his friend, Ben nodded.

“I’m just glad you guys like it, I mean, it’s not Michelin star stuff.”

“Good, that stuff is shit, it’s the size of a two-pound coin, costs two hundred and tastes like rubber.” Ben scoffed. “You can’t beat the basics.”

“You can bring the boys to Hollywood.” Elle smiled as she drank some more wine mixed with a soft drink.

“Private school boys, if that counts.” Sophie chuckled.

“Says Ms Oxford.” Ben retorted.

“God, posh people,” Elle sniggered, causing Tom to chuckle and Sophie and Ben to stop bickering.

*

“So, you said this was your parents?” Sophie was getting ready to go upstairs after a pleasurable evening of talking.

“Yeah, my mum got it in some weird boutique place in the bog arse of nowhere back home.”

“Didn’t she mind you bringing it over here with you?”

“No, she and dad, they’re…gone.”

Sophie’s face filled with horror. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t…what…?”

“It’s fine, I mean it’s sort of commonplace, isn’t it?” Elle shrugged with a sad smile. “She had cancer, and dad just wasn’t the same after, his health went downhill fast, he was so stressed before and it was worse after for him, he was a workaholic so it was always her that made sure he ate and looked after himself, so with her gone and me in college…”

“You moved over after…”

“Yeah, didn’t want to stay there, dad was saying how there were more opportunities over here, and when I dropped out because I decided I rather do something different, I thought it was the better option to come here.”

“Why Suffolk though?”

“I’m not a city person, I prefer the quiet of the countryside, Suffolk was by chance, I found an opening here, decided it was the place for me, used the money from the sale of my parents place and my dad’s practise to get a nice house, which,” she looked around her. “I think I did pretty well with, and it just so happened that my neighbour was a nice woman who I spoke to the day I was viewing it and she convinced me to buy, saying it was a nice area, quiet and someday a great place to have my family and when I moved in, her kids came to help me, one of whom happened to be Tom.”

“That must have been a shock.” Sophie chuckled.

“It was, I mean, I like comic book movies, so I knew of Loki, but when Tom was in front of me, I hadn’t realised who he was, and was just looking at him with that funny suspicious look of ‘I know you from somewhere’.” Elle blushed as Sophie laughed.

“Oh God, really?”

“How he did not walk out of the place and have his mum file a restraining order, I don’t know.” She shook her head in shame.

“Ha-ha, sorry, but that’s hilarious, I love it.” Sophie laughed.

“How about you, Ben said you met on set years ago?”

“Yes, back when he was a bit of a nobody in the game too, a few bits here and there, but we had other people then, and by the time we started something, he was huge.”

“Yeah, I don’t know how you do it, the public stuff, and all they write about you and Christopher, and probably now this little bubble too.”

“You can’t let it get to you. Sometimes it’s jealousy, sometimes spite, others just want to bitch about anyone and others…I don’t know what their problem is, but they can just get over themselves, I love Ben, he loves me and Kit, and we live pretty normally off the red carpet, and as long as it stays like that, we are happy.”

“But you are accomplished too, you’re in his game, I am just a set person, I can only imagine what they will say if it gets out.”

“‘When’ not ‘if’,” Sophie corrected. “You will get some heat, after all, Tom and Ben are the ‘Internet’s Boyfriends’ but most will love that you are not a stick thin, Hollywood Barbie, you are exactly what they all dream would happen, as cliché as it is, you are ‘The Girl Next Door’ literally.”

“God, that is fucking cliché.” Elle laughed.

“And it gives them a little hope too, that is something.”

“It is also going to add some heat.”

“Yes, I read what the papers wrote after the dinner with him and his mum.”

“You read a lot of gossip stuff?”

“Normally no, but after meeting Ms Swift, I wanted to see what they were saying about poor Tom and I saw the whole thing with you and him on a few papers.”

“Yeah, some were not very nice.” Elle played with her fingers.

“Tabloids never are, but the other’s will be the majority opinion, ‘wholesome’ is not a word used much in entertainment.”

“It sounds a lot like the word fat.”

“By some standards, yes, you are, you are supposed to be a size four to six, eat once every four days and snort more cocaine than you can handle to stave hunger pains, and you are not that, so they will hate you for it, because Tom clearly prefers you and that is not what their magazines tell them is sexy.”

“Thank you.” Elle gave a small smile. “I really wanted to talk to someone about this, but Tom doesn’t get it from this point of view, I mean, he understands, but doesn’t understand, if that makes sense?”

“He comprehends it, but does not feel it himself, so doesn’t have first-hand experience of it.” Sophie nodded. “I know that feeling.” There was a small hint of bitterness in her tone. “I thought for ages that no one could understand what it was like, especially when it was revealed we were engaged, even more so after it was announced I was pregnant.”

“Who helped you?”

“Amanda, Martin’s other half, she literally just came up to me one day, hugged me, threw the men out of the room and demanded I tell her exactly how I was feeling, and pushed and pushed until finally, I caved.”

“You never acted like it affected you.”

“In public, God no, but behind closed doors, I was terrified, and Ben had no idea how to help, Amanda saved us, I was so scared, I wanted to run and hide and never go in front of a camera again.”

“I’m glad you didn’t, you guys are amazing, and your son is the most gorgeous little cutie going.”

“When he wants to be, he can be temperamental.” Sophie smiled fondly.

“Hey, he’s male, it’s to be expected.” Elle dismissed, earning a loud laugh from Sophie.

Chapter Text

“They seem to get on well.” Ben beamed, eavesdropping from the kitchen.

“Seriously, I hope they open that door and it hits you in the head. Stop listening.”

“No, I want to know what they are saying, why are they talking in the hall.”

“I neither know or care why ” Tom stated. “I am just glad they are getting on well.”

“Sophie feels like she needs to take her under her wing, she feels sorry for her that she was thrown to the wolves like she was that time at your dinner out, but she took it well.”

“She’s not the kind to say anything if she isn’t.” Tom sighed, causing Ben to frown. “I think she thinks she is overweight.”

“What? She is about a size ten at most.”

“Eight to ten, pending the make. But she is starting to look at food as though not certain if she should eat it, and she commented earlier about being called ‘wholesome’ by some papers.”

“Wholesome doesn’t imply fat, though, does it?”

“To us no, to women; I don’t know, I mean, they are all being told they are fat all the time.” Tom sighed.

“But it means down to earth, the whole package, the girl next door sort of thing. So you think she’s starving herself?”

“She said it is her new work schedule, I just…I love her, and I want to be with her, but if she is becoming unhappy in herself because of me, it is doing more harm than good throwing all of this at her, I cannot expect her to be okay with my life if she is not happy with herself because of it.”

“You need to talk about this with her, she needs to hear this from you, and for you to see what is going on with her,” Ben stated clearly.

“I’m scared it means losing her, I just got her.”

“I cannot believe it took you this long to get your shit together.” Ben shook his head.

“Me neither, she admitted today she has felt this way for years, years Ben, we could be like you and Sophie now if I took my head out of my ass.”

“You think she’s ‘it’ for you, the one you want it all with?” Ben asked curiously.

“I think she is the closest I have been to it. I am not saying that as though I am settling, or like it is the only viable option, but I always wanted a family of my own, I wanted a happy home, but never thought of who with, but now, all I think about is how long is it appropriate to wait for everything with her, I see it all with her, I never did with anyone else, they were all just a bit of fun, mutually understood, well since Susannah, but I mean, we were naive then.”

“Does she know you feel like this?”

“Are you kidding me, I can’t say anything like this to her yet, she would swim back to Ireland if I said I wanted to have with her what you have with Sophie this early.” Tom scoffed.

“You’ll need to have that talk someday.”

“Someday I can handle.”

“But for now, the whole other thing needs to be discussed,” Ben ordered. “Though she seemed to eat well at dinner.”

“Yeah, she did. Am I coming across as being paranoid and am I going to scare her off by mentioning it?”

“You are nowhere near as confident as you imply you are in public, you know that?” Ben shook his head.

“When it comes to her, no. I am scared of losing her to something stupid, I mean, if we cannot make this work, if there are too many things between us on a personal level, I would have to get over that, I would be gutted, but I would not want to see her compromise herself for this, but if I was to lose her for something stupid, some simple miscommunication, that would kill me.” Tom explained.

“Good, now tell her that,” Ben stated.

Tom nodded. “I will.”

“Before you leave.”

“What if she decides while I’m gone that I am a controlling jerk.”

“Her loss then, because you’re just concerned, not controlling, you are not forcing her to eat, just asking if she is alright if she is feeling pressurised. But she won’t go, she is smarter than that.”

“What if I’m the reason she is like that, that Paul guy seemed to like how she looked and she did not seem to think to change herself, but I…”

“Your last fling was with a woman that only feeds by sucking the life out of people through terrible music and singing.” Tom gave him a glare. “We went to dinner and she ate a starter salad as a main course, and don’t say it’s because she’s a vegetarian, I know vegetarians, and they eat a hell of a lot more than that, so it’s not that she’s a vegetarian.”

“I am sure it is some sort of diet.” Tom dismissed. “But Elle doesn’t need any of that.”

“Yes, I can see by the look on your face you think that,” Ben grinned knowingly. “I thought you dealt with that before we came?”

“I may need to deal with it again when we go to bed.” He winked.

“Fuck sake man, you’re in your mid-thirties, and you’re like a teenager.” Ben shook his head. “What are you taking?”

“I don’t need to take anything; I have a gorgeous girlfriend in her late twenties.”

“Yeah, yeah, you and your twenty-something-year-olds.”

“You’re jealous.”

“Not really, I have a gorgeous wife that I adore, who is smart and makes me happy, a great son, and another baby on the way. I rather it to emotionless thrills if I’m honest, it’s everything I have always wanted.”

“How did you know you’re ready for all of that?” Tom asked seriously.

“Fuck I wasn’t ready, I thought I was, but when the test told us we were going to be parents, that all went out the window, but I could never want it any other way.”

“I am so envious of you.” Ben scoffed. “No, seriously, I am. I spent so long chasing everything, terrified of missing anything, what if I am after missing the most important thing?”

“It’s not too late, I am four years older than you, you have time.”

“But is Elle ready for that, she is just starting out in her job.”

“I can tell you here and now Tom, she is not ready for kids today, but that does not mean she won’t be in the future, like I said, talk to her.” Tom sighed in resignation. “Has your mum said anymore?”

“No, I haven’t had the balls to face her.”

“How was she, after the initial shock?”

“Good, I mean, she seems happy with it, or at least, I think she is. I have no idea if I’m honest.”

“You look happier this time Tom, more yourself, she is a far better option for you.” Ben smiled fondly. “She is amazing, fun, smart, understanding, hardworking…”

“Give Taylor her due, she was hardworking too.”

“Yes, it takes considerable work to be that spiteful and hateful to people.” Ben nodded. “I have nothing nice to say about her Tom, and to expect me to be nice is bollix, she tried to pin her shit on Sophie and was nothing but rude to her.”

“I really fucked up there.”

“You still have your friends and you are out of it now, glass half full, mate.”

“But it could have cost me everything, for a while, I thought it did; there were a few weeks there where I swear, I thought I was relegated to shitty Rom-Coms.”

“Well, your actions…you looked like you were having a crisis.” Ben shrugged.

Mac rose and stretched before going to Tom, who scratched his ear as the dog lay his head on his lap. “I did, I just…felt so alone, it seemed the right idea at the time.”

“Understandable, but you’re doing fine now, work is going okay, your fans are as mad about you as ever and you have Danielle.”

“Will they like her?”

“You know there are some that won’t, they will hate her no matter what she does or is, but overall, honestly I think they will. She will be adored for being normal, everything but the tabloids will obsess with how she is the ‘girl next door’.”

“And the tabloids?” Tom asked though he knew the response already.

“They will do everything from saying she is brainwashing you to calling you gay and her being your cover.” Ben shrugged. “What did Luke say?”

“To ready her, to get her to block certain websites and he will do everything he can to help look after her, but to say nothing.”

“She seems to do that as is.”

“Except for when she met Taylor, if that was caught on camera, you know…”

“She would manipulate it around.” Ben nodded. “It’s her MO.”

Tom sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. “Why did I…”

“Don’t, you will get nowhere beating yourself up. Come on, I think the women will be wondering where we are.” He encouraged. “Danielle is strong enough for all this, you can usually tell who is and who isn’t.”

*

Elle and Sophie had made their way upstairs and were busy talking about the latter’s ideas for the logistics of Christopher and the new baby and having two little nurseries.

“If it’s another boy they probably can share for a while, but if it is waking at three am for a feed, I doubt you want to have himself up as well,” Danielle commented.

“No, separate rooms,” Benedict stated as he and Tom walked in. “I am not having Kit dictating nappy changings in the middle of the night and being as cranky as hell the next day.”

“Because of course, you will be the one that did all the hard work.” Sophie scoffed.

Elle edged towards the door, “I am not getting in the way for this.”

“I think I’ll join you.” Tom gently made his way out also. “See you two in the morning, don’t kill each other.” He joked as he did so. When he made his way into the hallway, to the sound of Sophie threatening Ben’s manhood, there was no sign of Danielle, assuming she had gone to her room, he went to the door and knocked.

She came out, thinking it was Sophie asking for something, possibly even how to drag dead weight, so when she saw Tom on the other side, she frowned. “What…?”

“Would it possible for me to stay over also?” he asked, giving her his best puppy dog eyes.

“You knocked?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I didn’t want to assume…” he began, but she pulled him in and closed the door behind him, causing him to chuckle. “Elle,” there was a fondness is his voice, not born of lust or want, but of true feelings. “I…” he kissed her chastely. “I love you.” He smiled timidly, knowing that it was very early to say it, but her sleepy grumbles that morning had made her think he was not as serious as her regarding everything. “I adore you.”

She kissed him back, smiling widely at the declaration, “What a coincidence, Mr Hiddleston, for the feeling is mutual.”

“The food was great, the evening was great, I…I am so glad we could do this.”

“It’s all so very grown up and serious,” Elle joked. “But I loved it, I loved being able to talk to people who actually understand all of this, who…” her hands moved around as she talked. “I can’t even think of the best way to say it.”

“I understand, and I am so happy you got to speak with Sophie.”

“She was able to understand stuff I can’t explain.” She stated.

Tom frowned. “You can always talk to me.”

Danielle nodded. “I know, but you cannot understand the perspective as well as she can. You can understand the scrutiny, the limelight, but not the exact feeling being the ‘plus one’ in that situation, you are the star, not the tagalong.”

“You’re not a…” Tom stopped himself, seeing she wanted to continue to explain herself.

“I am, and I understand that, so does Sophie, you and Ben are great, you make sure we feel secure, but you can’t really get it,” Tom’s brows furrowed. “I love you, Tom; but there is a lot involved in loving you too. It includes a lot other people involving themselves, and I need to thicken my skin, I know that, but I need to have a person that understands that too; so thank you.” Tom cocked his head slightly. “Having Ben and Sophie come here, I don’t feel so scared or stressed about it now, I feel like it’s nowhere near as difficult as my mind was telling me it was.” As she leant up to kiss him, Tom pressed his lips down to hers, pulling her to the bed. “But what about our guests,” she whispered.

“I don’t give a fuck, I love you, I hate being away from you, and I want you to remember me for the next few weeks.”

She giggled at his words. “It is three weeks, Tom. Not six months, we will be fine.”

“Don’t care, still going to fuck you.” He commented back, his lips still pressed to hers.

“You are insatiable.”

“You love it.” He grinned, starting to unbutton and unzip her jeans.

Chapter Text

“Go back to sleep.” Tom groaned; his voice heavy with sleep.

“Can’t, sun’s up.”

“So?”

“I’m going for a run.”

“Seriously?”

“I don’t get to run most of the time now with work, I’m gaining weight.”

Tom rolled over and pulled Danielle to him. “No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.” She scoffed. “So get off so you are not going out with a beached whale.”

“Elle.” There was a small hint of warning in his tone.

“What?”

“I need to talk to you later.” She turned to look at him properly, her fear blatant in her face. “Nothing bad, just, with me going away for a few weeks, I want to talk to you about stuff before I go.”

“Like what?”

“Just…” Tom forced himself to wake more, wishing he had not said anything until later, knowing she would not leave it rest until he said everything. “Are you happy with me?” Danielle stared at him silently, her face telling him her thoughts. “No, this is not me trying to break up with you, I want to be with you, I want us to last, but I need to talk to you about certain things, so I will ask again, are you happy with me?”

“Yes.” She answered immediately.

“As you are?”

“I don’t under…”

“You weren’t eating properly yesterday, and you seem very much hung up on the being called ‘wholesome’.”

“I…”

“Elle, be honest with me, please, tell me what you are thinking, I want this to work, please.”

“I have been overly busy with work, but yeah, the things they wrote, they hurt.” She stared at her hands. “I mean, I was never as thin as Swift, I am not anywhere near that body type, so I just…”

Tom took her hand in his and intertwined his fingers in hers. “You are far sexier than her. Have you not seen how I react to you? Twice yesterday, twice, and I can guarantee, there will be at least two or three more before my flight tomorrow.” He kissed her hand, causing her to smile.

“I thought men’s sex drive declined in their thirties?” She frowned.

“Not when we have sexy twenty-nine-year-old girlfriends with pert asses and glorious breasts.” He grinned again as he stared at her naked breasts, taking his lower lip in between his teeth as he did.

“Didn’t take you for a boob man.”

Tom’s eyebrow rose slightly. “Did you not? Well, that just proves I have not been giving these delectable things the attention they deserve.” He cupped her breasts in his hands and leant up to attack one with his lips, the other, he toyed with using his nimble fingers.

“Tom,” Elle gasped. “My training.”

“Fuck it, actually no, fuck me.”

“Insatiable.” She shook her head before moving herself around to straddle him, his lips making their way to her other nipple.

“You fucking love it.”

*

“So, have you used that bike a lot?” Danielle turned to see Ben making his way to her kettle.

“Not as much as I want, but as much as I can.” She smiled removing her helmet. “Did you sleep okay?”

“As well as one can when you are able to hear your friend and his girlfriend are at it like two Catholic rabbits from sundown to sun up.” Danielle blushed, causing him to chuckle. “I am simply teasing you.”

“I’ll tell Sophie you are being mean.”

“Hey, I said I was teasing, don’t set my wife on me.” She just laughed back. “She told me that you seemed better after talking to her, didn’t say what you spoke about, but said you seemed better about it all.”

“I am, she was a great help, thank you both for all of this.”

“Least I could do, you saved Tom from disaster after all.”

“You had a considerable part to play in that, in fact, I would think the credit for which goes to you.”

“I only continued what you started.” He grinned. “Where is the coffee kept?”

“Oh, here.” She turned and got it out of the cupboard over the kettle. “I keep all this stuff together.”

“That makes sense.”

She eyed him suspiciously. “You don’t do that, do you?”

“No.”

She shook her head and laughed, “Bad form.”

He reached over her and grabbed two mugs, “Yeah, so where did Tom go?” Danielle stared at him. “About ten minutes after you two finished your fun this morning, you left, then a few minutes later, I heard him leaving.”

“I don’t know, he didn’t say anything to me about it.”

“Weird.”

“I would say he went to his mum’s, but he’s sort of hiding from her.”

Ben chuckled heartily. “I heard.”

Danielle groaned, her face turning red. “Seriously?”

“Yes, those two are worse than two American high school girls for telling each other their secrets,” Sophie commented coming into the room. “I am stealing that mattress.” She declared unashamedly as she grabbed a mug off her husband.

“Again with the stealing,” Benedict joked, rushing away before she could elbow him.

“How do you put up with him?” Danielle laughed.

“He makes good coffee.”

“A saving grace.”

The back door opened and Mac Tíre rushed in followed by Tom. “Everyone up?” he grinned, though his face was slightly red.

“Yeah, Ben fled the room after mocking Sophie again.” Danielle smiled as Tom came over and kissed her. “Over at your mum’s?”

“No, I went to the shop to get some more food, saw her there a moment ago, though.”

“I gathered as much.”

“What gave it away?”

“The flushed look around your ears saying she has mortified you in some way and the fact you are coming in the back.”

“You are very astute, but I forgot the spare key, that’s why I came round here.”

“I take pride in it. How is…what did she say?”

“She’s decided she is delighted about it, and told me not to be an ass to you.”

“Poor Diana, setting herself up for disappointment.” Elle joked as she made him a cup of tea.

“Hey! We are to go over when our guests are gone. Did you sleep well Sophie?” he asked, turning to give the other woman a peck on the cheek.

“I was just saying, that mattress is incredible, seriously, I am not leaving this house until you tell me where you got it, I am getting one. My back has been killing me with Kit wanting to be held most of the time and the baby weighing down the front, I feel better than I have in weeks.”

“I can honestly say it was comfy, now if you two weren’t waking me every five minutes swinging from the lights, I would have slept better,” Ben commented, after coming back into the room.

Danielle leant closer to Sophie as though “Prone to exaggerations, isn’t he?”

“A tad.” She agreed.

Danielle shook her head, “fucking actors.” Both men looked at her indignantly.

*

“Thank you both so much.” Danielle smiled as Ben gave her a kiss on the cheek before you turned to Sophie, who had just received similar from Tom. Before she could say anything, the older woman pulled her in and gave her and large hug. “Thank you.”

“You have my number, do not hesitate to call or text if you are feeling stressed about it all, am I clear?” Sophie smiled.

“Crystal.”

“Good,” She then turned back to Tom. “Mind her, she’s one of the good ones, don’t let them scare her off.”

“I don’t plan on it,” He grinned goofily, looking at Danielle.

“We’ll see you two soon, this was actually really nice.”

“We’ll have to do the second leg in Tom’s.” Danielle smiled, causing Ben to cock his head slightly, not knowing what she was saying. “Never mind, soccer reference.” She dismissed. “Private School boys.”

“Technically it is a public school, not private.” Ben pointed out.

“In Ireland, it’s the other way around.” Danielle waved as they got into the car and left. “Well, that went well,” She beamed before looking around to see Tom looking at her with an unreadable expression. “What?”

“Nothing, I am just admiring you.”

“Weirdo.” She laughed before heading for the door and walking back into the kitchen to clean up the breakfast ware.

“You ate properly at breakfast.” Tom wrapped his arms around her as she put ware in the sink.

“Well, I am being forced to burn more calories than I care to of late.”

“Really?”

“Yes, someone is at me like a, what was it Ben said, a Catholic bunny.”

“I cannot and will not apologise for finding my significant other sexually enticing,” Tom growled against her neck.

“What?”

“Hmm?”

“You are thinking about something, what is it?” she turned to look at him.

“You are too astute.”

“So you said already, what is it, Tom?” she seemed nervous. “Is it to do with before?”

Tom cupped her face in his hands and thought about what he wanted to say, he didn’t want to scare her off, but he knew he had to make some of his thoughts clear. “I really want this to work.”

“Good; that tends to be a required step in getting it to.” She smiled. “I do too, by the way.”

“I know my work takes me away for bouts of time, but promise you’ll tell me if I am not there enough for you, or if I am suffocating you when I am.”

“Tom,” she played with the collar of his shirt. “Our jobs are hard work, you have to go away, I have to go away, but it is not impossible, there is email, texts, calls, video calling and even writing letters if all technology fails, alright? As long as we talk and let it all hang out there, we know where we stand and we can work on it.”

“You are too young to be this clued in.”

“I’m thirty soon, God I’m getting old.”

“Thirty is not old.”

“No compared to you, maybe.” She dashed off before her words registered, but had only made it to the staircase before Tom came running out into the hallway. Even taking the steps two at a time, her previous exercise and her shorter stature allowed him to catch her as soon as they made it upstairs.

“Apologise.” He growled, pulling her to the carpeted floor of the upstairs hallway.

“Never!” She laughed, erupting in hysterical fits as he tickled her. “No.”

“Yes, I am going to have you beg for mercy.”

“How, did she leave a CD in your mum’s you are going to force me to listen to?” she grinned.

Tom paused for a moment before laughing himself. “That is terribly mean.”

“But true.” She argued, leaning on one arm next to him. “She is a terrible singer.”

“And you have a terrible habit of dragging her up today.”

“You’re right.” She conceded, sighing loudly as she did, “I let her get into my head and that’s a stupid thing to do, I should just forget about her.”

“Please do.” Tom smiled slightly. “I know it’s entirely my fault, but I don’t want you dragging yourself to her level.”

“You’d need a fracking permit to go that far sub terrain.”

“Elle!” he was trying to get her to stop focusing on Taylor but was forced to laugh at her comment. “You are fucking vicious when you want to be.”

“I need to rein it in, though, I think Luke is less than impressed by it.”

“Just rein it in when in public, never change yourself in private, I want this you, forever.”

“Forever is a long time, Tom.”

“Good, I want you like this for a long time.” He kissed her chastely.

“Is that what you have done?” Tom pulled back slightly and frowned at her. “Hardened yourself to the world. I always wondered why the Tom I know is not the Tom that I see on TV anymore.”

“I had to, everyone in the industry has to harden up, it will swallow you whole if you don’t. You will too, out there. Sophie had to with Ben.”

“Do you think I can?”

“Yes, that night of our meal, they pushed and antagonised you, but you did not give them anything, that is what you need to do. They will push more, harass you more, but if you stay like that, they can’t get you. They will get bored and move on to someone else, if they smell blood, they’ll hang around, if not, they’ll go elsewhere to forage scraps.” She nodded solemnly. “I wish I did not drag you into this. I wish we were just normal, nine to five workers, no paps, no crazy fan girls.”

“No, you don’t. That’s not you Tom, you are an actor, not as just a career, but as a person, the way you bring life to a character that is nothing more than words on paper, the amount of yourself you put into a role; that is why they adore you. There are so many good looking actors out there, but all they get is a ‘damn, he’s sexy’ but you, they feel like you are more than that, that you are something special, and that is why.” She kissed him quickly before continuing. “You are not a nine to five person; that life would crush you, it’s not you, so many do it well and like it, but it’s not you. I hate knowing sooner or later I will be the focus of some less than lovely articles, but I would not change you for the world, that’s why I am so willing to try this, I want to be with you, and if it means lowlife’s trying to photograph me, or silly girls on the internet declaring I’m not good enough for you, then it’s the price I have to pay, everything in life costs us something, this is my fee.”

Tom swallowed hard. “Talking to Sophie really helped?” he realised.

“It did.”

“What do you think of what they have?”

“Ben and Sophie?” Tom nodded. “They seem genuinely happy, genuinely comfortable together. They should be envied, rather than ridiculed, though, in truth, that is probably why they are, people are jealous of what they don’t have and they make dirty comments about them because of it.”

“Would you like to be like them someday?”

There was a nervousness in his voice that Danielle copped immediately. “With you?” his eyes finally met hers, and in the steel blue of his irises, she could see his hope blatantly as he nodded his response. “Yes,” she nodded, “I think I would.”

Chapter Text

Tom – I am not sure when you will get to see the interview, let me know what you think when you do. x

Tom pressed send and lay back on the bed, reading over the lines for his voice work he would continue in the morning. When his phone went off, he thought it was Luke, and answered. “Well, do you approve?”

There was a moment of laughing before a voice came on. “I loved it.”

He leant forward. “Elle?”

“Obviously, didn’t you check your caller ID?”

“Honestly, no. I thought you were Luke.”

“Well, sadly I am not; I am just me.”

“I happen to like ‘just’ you.” He smiled.

“I happen to like you too.” She smiled back.

“So the gorilla suit did not turn you off?”

“No, it was weird but fun.”

“Well, I have some bad news.” There was silence on the other end of the line. “Elle?”

“What, what is it?” she sounded terrified.

“It’s gone.”

“The suit?”

“The longer hair and facial hair.”

“No!”

“I’m sorry darling.”

“Why?”

“Because of work.”

“But it is stupid o’clock in the night there, how the hell did you get a barber.”

“It’s LA, darling, anything is available at any time, so long as you flash the cash.”

“I am not talking to you now.” Danielle declared.

“Elle…” Silence met his plea. “Darling…”

“Stop calling me that, you are in the dog house.” She stated petulantly.

“Elle…”

“Not interested.”

“When I get home, you won’t be able to ignore me.”

“That sounds kinky.” She seemed to forget her annoyance for a moment.

“It was not meant to be, but clearly you like it, so it’s a promise now.” he grinned. “I wish it didn’t have to be so long.”

“You are going checking on little children in a war-torn area of Africa, I am safe here at home, go get the world looking at them, help them Tom, we can have fun when we come home, at least you get to leave again, they don’t.”

“You should come out as a healthcare working for a week, they could do with you and your big heart.”

“I am not a nurse or doctor, emergency care is far less of an issue in those camps, they need vaccines and food and shelter, not me,” She dismissed.

“How is mum?”

“Your mom is great, there has been no more about the incident, she’s acting as she always did, but Emma…she’s a little pissed at the moment.”

“Why?”

“Because her friend is fucking her brother.”

“She doesn’t own you; I am not stealing you from her.”

“I know love, but it’s weird for her, she is just worried. I feel guilty, I had not thought of her, she will feel odd in this, even if we were to be happily married with a couple of kids, it is weird for her.” Danielle commented.

“Three.”

“What?”

“I want three kids.”

“I thought you said you hated being in that situation, with two sisters.”

“And Emma hated being six years younger, that’s true.” Tom conceded

“So two then, close together?”

“Or four,” Tom argued, the grin on his face obvious through the phone, “it’s all about problem solving, darling.”

“For the record, I am not interested in having more kids than I have hands to hold onto them.”

“You’re an only child, you don’t understand the need for siblings, and don’t twins run in your family?”

“Don’t even joke about that; and I was happy as an only child, everyone I knew with siblings seemed to be fit to kill them as often as they were happy.” She commented. “Are we really having ‘that conversation’ already, from across the world?”

“I think we are.” Tom grinned. “So, what else would you like, given the chance?”

“If it was with you?”

“Assume all of this is us thinking aloud about where we want this to go, what we want from this aspect of our lives.”

“I know you can’t leave London, you need to be close to there at least.” She sounded slightly unhappy about that.

“You rather not live in the city?”

“I am a country mouse.”

“Leafy suburb then; with parks for Mac and good schools, good compromise?”

“Yes, and not too far from Ben and Sophie.”

“North London it is so.”

“That’s more expensive, though.”

“The best places usually are.”

“And my place?”

“Well, that is up to you. It would be great to have a place so close to mums, but if we did both live in London when we would visit, she would be adamant we stay with her.”

“This is all very mature and long-term talk for this hour.”

“It’s only midnight here?”

“And eight in the morning here.”

“Are you getting anxious and changing the topic?”

“No…”

“Elle?”

“I want my furniture.” She answered childishly.

“I would never argue that.” He smiled, knowing she was just slightly scared. “When the time is right, would you want to move in with me?”

“I think so.”

“‘Think’?”

“I never lived with a guy before.”

“What?”

“Bar my dad, I never lived with a guy.”

“Why?”

“Just the way it was because my parents lived a bus journey from college, I stayed with them for that.”

“That’s, wow, seriously? You seem alright with me being there.”

“I have had a boyfriend before thank you, staying overnight isn’t hard.”

“So your first time living away from home was in Suffolk, in your own house.” She hummed in confirmation. “That must have been hard, you never said anything.”

“I did, several times, to your mum and Emma anyway; but you, I don’t recall it coming up with us.”

“I wish I spent more time around you before now.”

“Well, there’s no need to worry about it, it’s the past.” Danielle dismissed. “So, when are the Grammy nominations out?”

“Soon enough.”

“Do you think you have a chance?” She asked excitedly.

“As much as I know this is a diversion tactic, I am going to allow it. I know The Night Manager as a whole has a good chance.”

“And you?”

“I am not sure.”

“I loved it.”

“It had my ass on display; you have made it clear you love anything as long as my ass is involved.”

“It is a most delectable derriere.” Danielle agreed.

“I hope I get it.”

“It is a good possibility.”

“Not a shoe in?” Tom enquired.

“You can never say for definite, someone could pay off a judge.” She commented.

“And if no one does?”

“If no one pays off a judge, and if you are nominated, I would place a bet on you.”

“You’re not much of a gambler.”

“Not usually, but 2016 was a good year for you love.”

“Really?” Tom asked sceptically.

“I refuse to acknowledge any of that stuff as negative anymore.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head, raise the rent and kick them out.”

Tom chuckled, “Where did you find that?”

“Random quote on Facebook, but I am using it. You went out with Taylor, I assume you had some fun, you went some nice places, it happened, it’s over, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t care, it was before us, now we have us, so in all, it looks like you had a good enough year.”

“Some parts were definitely better than others, but overall, yes, it was a good year.”

“So, The Night Manager is of 2016, and as such, will do well.” She smiled.

“Elle.”

“Yes, Tom.”

“I cannot wait to come home, and when I do, I cannot wait to show you how much I love and miss you.”

“I look forward to it.”

“Are you at work?”

“I am,” She sighed. “I hope to have the weekend off when you come back from Sudan.”

“And if not?”

“I am stuck working I’m afraid. But the good news is, I’m off longer for Christmas now, we are ahead of schedule.”

“Where are you based?”

“At home.”

“I mean for the shoot.”

“Wales, some random spot in the middle of nowhere.”

“Is there a possibility I could come to you?”

“What if you are seen?”

“Elle…”

“I am just scared.”

“Who will notice me?”

“The cast and crew.”

“Will they care?”

“Probably not, I mean we do have actual famous people here.” She joked, giggling down the phone.

“Excuse you, and what am I?” she just giggled in response for a moment.

“When are you off to Sudan?”

“Wednesday.”

“Promise me you will try to be safe, and try to keep that really nice smile on for those kids.”

“What smile?”

“The one that lights up your eyes and gives you wrinkles around them, the one that makes others around you smile, they need that.”

“I will do my best.”

“I love you, Tom, promise me you will email or text if you get a chance, even just the words ‘It’s Hot’.”

“I will do so every day.”

“Whenever you get a chance will suffice, goodnight Tom.”

“I love you too Elle, I cannot wait until I get back and we get to have fun over Christmas, goodnight, darling,” he smiled, hanging up the phone, he lay on his pillow and smiled sadly to himself, hating that it would be a couple of weeks before he saw her again.

Chapter Text

“You got it!” Tom was forced to hold the phone away from his ear as Danielle shrieked excitedly down it at him.

“I have not gotten anything yet, technically speaking.” Tom pointed out.

“But you were brilliant, and half of the nominations, I haven’t heard of the shows, much less the actors.”

“Elle, that’s mean.” Tom scolded.

“But I haven’t.”

“Well, you’re not renowned for your love of watching telly.” He pointed out.

“Guilty,” she admitted nonchalantly, causing Tom to chuckle. “Who else has congratulated you?”

“So far, I have had texts from Luke, Ben, the cast, obviously, Kenneth Brannagh, a few of my previous work colleagues, couple of the guys from school and college, cousins, my aunt, Sarah, and of course, mum called, but I only got a message because I was charging my phone, I will ring her back in a while.”

“And Emma?” Danielle asked, noting that he had not mentioned the youngest of the Hiddleston siblings.

“She hasn’t sent anything yet, but mum said that her schedule is hectic at the moment and that Jack was saying she does not get home from the show until three or four most mornings, so I think she is still asleep now, it’s lunch time here, but I think you are still midmorning.”

“Yeah, it is. That’s fair enough.”

Tom had been about to ask Elle something when he noticed the disheartened tone to her voice. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

“She’s not talking to me.” Danielle almost sounded like a child, her voice was so small.

“Emma?”

“She’s barely responding to anything I text her, she only responds with one-word answers.”

“She will get over it with time, as you said already; it’s just a little weird for her. Though it’s not fair for her to guilt you like this.”

“It’s also not fair to go after a friend’s brother.” Danielle countered.

“What, are you saying you broke some ‘girl code’?”

“I don’t think there is something officially written out, but yes, I have done something worthy of being told to go fuck myself in many people’s books.”

Tom felt crestfallen. “Do you regret us?”

“I know it sounds bad, but no, I don’t. Emma is one of my closest friends, I have never really been as close with anyone like I have her, I love her, I would do anything, legal or otherwise for her, but I love you, and I like being with you.”

“These are different sorts of love you have for us both, I assume?”

Danielle laughed, “Obviously.”

“It will be resolved soon enough, darling. She cannot stay too mad at people for too long, it is not her way. Do you want me to say something?”

“No, if she needs to be mad for a bit, then let her be, I rather not talk to her until she is ready to. She could say something in anger that could make a big difference to everything and I don’t want to do that.”

“I don’t think I have ever heard of you not confronting something head on before,” Tom noted.

“Because normally, I don’t feel like I could lose my best friend from it.”

“You won’t lose her.” Tom felt hurt on Danielle’s behalf. “She’ll realise soon enough that she’s not actually mad at us and that this isn’t some sort of trashy little fling and that we are happy together, then she will realise you are all the more special.” His smile was blatant through the phone.

“Especially when we decide to…Shit, I am being called back onto set here. Tom, I will talk to you later and I am so happy for you, bye.”

Tom did not even get to say goodbye before Danielle hung up the phone, not that he would have been able to utter the word anyway. He stood, phone still to his ear as he processed what Danielle had been saying before she was called off. She was clearly about to mention something that indicated that she was thinking of something regarding the long-term future for them. His curiosity was piqued at what she could have been about to say. Looking at the screen, he realised he had received several more texts of congratulations, one of which was from Emma.

Emma – Just heard, well done. X

Tom stared at the message before deciding what to text back.

Tom – thanks, sis, sort of shocked, obviously, in an honoured sort of way. By the way, is everything okay? Elle thinks you are angry at her.

Tom looked at the phone for a moment wondering should he have mentioned Elle, before pressing send and turning it off, heading through the departures lounge to start the journey back to London. His trip back to Sudan was over, and in truth, felt worn from it, but, armed with new experiences of the situation there due to his revisiting, he would be able to speak more of it and the terrible situation there, so hr knew it was worth it.

*

“Hey Irish,” Danielle looked at the sound guy who was standing nearby with a few other behind the scenes set staff. “We’re stuck working this weekend, but off earlyish Saturday and late on Sunday, so we are having an unofficial Christmas Party, you in?”

Danielle had taken out her phone as soon as he had informed her that they were working to tell Tom. “I’m probably not going to be able to.”

“Cancelling plans?” he asked, referring to her phone.

“Himself and I were supposed to be going to friends, so yeah.”

One of the make-up artists looked at her curiously. “You never mentioned a boyfriend.”

Danielle froze for a moment, thinking as fast as she could. “Does anyone around here, if you don’t have a wedding band or a diamond ring, I don’t know anyone’s relationship status.”

“True actually. So what will be your plans now?” The artist conceded.

“I will have to tell him the situation and see what he does about it, he may come here instead now.”

“Surely he can join us all then.”

She looked at the other woman apologetically. “He’ll be just back from a tedious flight, so I will mention it, but I can’t give a definite answer yet.”

“Ooh, he sounds fancy, what does he do?”

“Promotion,” Danielle thought quickly, technically, it was not a lie.

“Meh, scratch that,” The other woman dismissed, “at least in makeup, I get to work up close with celebrities. So Danny has an introvert boyfriend, let me guess, you two sit in, watch Game of Thrones and read most days off.” She smiled playfully.

“Not really a big fan of the show, but yeah, read, relax, walk the dog and going for a run usually.”

“Ooh, a dog and everything, very cosy. I hope we get to meet him.”

Danielle smiled politely, but in her mind, she feared such a thing, not yet mentally ready to declare to the wider world about her celebrity boyfriend. “Maybe if he is feeling up to it, we can join you all.” She commented as she thought of what to say to Tom of what was now her weekend, knowing full well he would plead for her to allow him to join her for it.

“Cool, so Danny is a ‘maybe’, what about you Jack?” the makeup artist decided to focus on who else could be roped into a drinking session.

Danielle just smiled, part of her relieved that she already had set up the excuse for her not being there at the weekend. A piss-up, in the guise of a Christmas party, was the last thing she wanted, especially that she knew Tom would be back. Unlocking her phone, she decided to finish and send the text to Tom.

Danielle – Your coming home has saved me from a weekend of hangovers and regrets. Are you coming Friday or Saturday?

*

“It hilarious,” Danielle erupted in fresh giggles.

“I respectfully disagree,” Tom grumbled, though he was somewhat surprised by her reaction, relieved that she had not been upset.

“It’s hilarious, trust me.” Danielle reaffirmed, looking at her laptop. “Though what has me concerned is; the artist putting it there because they knew you lived nearby, which is somewhat odd and unsettling, and how did the paparazzi know you would be passing there. Was it all done as a stunt?”

“You think I set this up?” there was both hurt and anger in his voice.

Danielle sighed, she knew he was jetlagged and that he was always somewhat sensitive when people suggested that he was media hungry. “No, I am saying that they would, of course, know you are home, since you were on the TV this morning, talking about your trip, which, by the way, was a very well done piece, but let’s face it, I knew it would be, I think they did the stunt to keep making money off you and her, even if all you were doing was going to Sainsbury’s for some milk.”

“Sorry,” Tom groaned, his tiredness blatant in his voice, “I shouldn’t…”

“Love, you’re exhausted, please, go get some rest.” Danielle encouraged.

“I’m not…”

“Tom, you seem to forget you were on telly this morning, I saw you with my own two eyes, you’re bollixed tired, don’t deny it. Get some rest, after all, you promised to come see me this weekend.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to go out with the others, I can entertain myself for a couple hours?” Tom asked, turning on the kettle to make a cup of tea while he read over a few things that had accumulated while he was away.

“Well, let us look at everything for a moment, I could go drinking, something you and I both know of my lack of interest in, with a bunch of people I only know three weeks and will only be working with for another two, or I could hide away in a hotel room with my incredibly sexy boyfriend and show him how much I have missed him over the past few weeks, especially when I may have bought something just for the occasion. Such a difficult decision to make.” She feigned a tone of deep thought for a moment before giggling. “I ought to spank that delectable derrière of yours for even suggesting such a thing.”

“I am not going to lie, I am looking forward to seeing…wait, you want to spank me and you bought something, please tell me it’s something I can ogle you in?”

“You’ll have to wait and see.” She could not hide the grin on her face or the excitement in her tone.

“Darling, you have no idea how much I want to get in my car and drive there to you, right this instant.” He groaned in frustration.

“Aw, is my poor man frustrated?” she half-joked.

“Well, thanks to your imagery, I am now sporting something that could…”

“Herd cattle?” Danielle laughed, loving how he was getting more and more wound up.

“Country mouse.” Tom grinned, using Danielle’s own analogy of herself.

“City mouse,” she retorted jestfully.

“Darling, I cannot wait to be around you.”

“Are you heading to your mum’s between now and then?”

Tom’s brow furrowed slightly, unsure as to why she was asking about his mother. “I don’t plan to, why?”

“I was just going to ask you to send me a picture of Mac, I miss him.” she stated sadly.

“If I do, I will.” He promised.

“They have a collie dog staying here at the moment that reminds me of him, I think one of his parents was a collie and the other a German Sheppard, it is so like him.”

“They let dogs stay there?”

“Yeah, not everyone wants to put their dogs in kennels when they go away, so they allow them here for another ten pound a night.”

“That’s a great idea.”

“I know, right? So if you see him, tell him I miss him and I will see him soon, and get me a photo.”

“I promise if I see him, I will.” He smiled, loving how much Danielle cared for the scraggy pup he had rang her about one cold morning while he was on set. “I will talk to you soon, and trust me when I say, I cannot wait to join you.”

“Goodbye Tom, I…I love you.” She admitted in a meek voice.

Tom’s eyes widened at her words, she had said them once or twice before, but never over the phone like that. “I love you too, Elle.” He smiled, “Goodbye, darling.” As soon as Danielle hung up, Tom thought to himself for a moment and then grinned slyly, so with a quick Google, he retrieved the number he required and pressed the call button. When a woman answered the phone, he put his most charming voice on. “Hello, I know this is an odd request, but I need to ask a favour and keep something secret for me.”

Chapter Text

“Close your eyes.” Tom grinned, before standing behind Danielle.

“What are you doing?” She tried to look around at him. “Tom?”

“It’s a surprise.” He grinned, preventing her from doing so and placing his hands over his eyes and gently moving her forward.

“But we are leaving the room.” She whined, “And there are stairs out here.”

Tom took his hands away again. “Right so, as soon as we get downstairs, allow me to blindfold you.”

“This is getting progressively more into the realms of kinky and disturbing simultaneously.” She eyed him warily before walking down the stairs.

Tom bit his lips together. “Only you could see it like that.” When they got to the bottom, he grabbed her again before she could jump away from him and blocked her eyesight again. “Come on, I’ll let you know if there are any steps or anything.” He promised.

“I’m not going to lie, Tom, I was sort of looking forward to staying in the room and having some fun,” Danielle whispered.

“And I swear to you, darling, this evening, after dinner, I am going to have it that you never want to leave our room,” Tom promised, his voice deep and low against the shell of her ear, causing her skin to break out in Goosebumps. “Doorway step,” he informed her, making sure she took a large step over the threshold of the door so not to trip.

“You seem to think there is something that would convince me to not want that right now.”

“There is.” He promised, “Ready?”

“What have you done, Tom?” Danielle asked fearfully, not sure if she wanted to see.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Danielle answered warily. Tom took his hands from her eyes and for a moment, she was scared to look. Slowly, she opened one eye, before what was that was waiting for her came into focus and she opened both, gasping in shock as she did. “But…” she looked at Tom. “How?”

Tom watched in delight as she ran over to her dog, who was whining with joy at seeing his master after so long. “Well, I thought this would be far better than a simple photo.” Tom beamed. “You said they do dog boarding here, so I thought; why not bring Mac for the weekend.”

Danielle looked at him, her eyes watery with happiness as she cuddled her dog. “Thank you.” The words were barely a squeak as she kissed the dog’s head. “Thank you so much, Tom.”

Tom knelt down so to rub Mac and gave her a kiss on the temple, “Anything for you, darling. So many women want diamonds, round the world expensive holidays and designer bags, but you, all you want is a picture of your pet to know he is okay.” He rubbed Mac too. “Besides we had a great time, he just sat in the back seat and chilled out.”

“I cannot believe you drove to your mum’s, got my dog and drove him all the way here in your really expensive car.” Danielle shook her head in disbelief.

“It’s a car Elle, just a car, he got some fur on a blanket, it is hardly life ending.”

“To a lot of people, it would be.”

“It’s not, he was a great travel companion, weren’t you boy?” he grinned. Mac Tíre decided to lick him in agreement. “See, but I did promise him we would walk him if he was good,” Tom stated as though saying that a good child was promised dessert after eating all their dinner.

“I’ll get a coat.” Danielle spun on her heels and raced back inside.

“I told you she was happy to see you, didn’t I boy?” he smiled, untying Mac from the post he had him waiting at. “She missed you as much as you missed her.” The dog barked happily once in response. “You don’t mind sharing her with me, do you?” The dog seemed to take a moment to think over the statement before giving a small groan noise of contentment and leaning into Tom’s hand for another ear scratch. “I thank you for your understanding, boy.” He smiled. When he looked up again, he saw Danielle walking out the door of the small B&B she was calling home for the duration of her job. “Ready?”

“I am.” She had a smile on her face that caused a bubble of elation in his stomach as she looked at him, a fondness he had not seen in her eyes before. “What?” she asked, her head cocked to the side slightly.

“Nothing, you look so happy.”

“I am, thank you, Tom.” She gave him an even more dazzling version of that smile.

“It’s nothing more than anyone would do, darling, it’s just bringing your pet to you.” He stood to his full height again and leant over to hug her against him.

“No, it’s so much more than that.” she looked at him adoringly. “I…I can’t even put it into words.”

“Well, if you ever find a way to, let me know.” He grinned, “Where’s a nice quiet walk around here?”

“It’s the middle of nowhere, the town is fifteen minutes that way,” she pointed to the left, “but there are some nice fields with sheep to the right.”

“Will Mac be alright?”

“You mean will he try to chase them? I am not giving him the option.” She smiled, taking the lead from Tom and making sure Mac was fully comfortable in his walking gear before stepping forward. “Shall we?”

“Are you frightened of us being spotted?”

“The actors are in a town a few towns over, they won’t expect to see a real-life Hollywood star on a small back road walking a dog with a girl no one knows you are dating, so no, I’m not. And even if we are, it is going to happen sooner or later, right? I just need to live with it.” She shrugged.

“I don’t deserve you,” Tom made sure to stay in step with her as she started a healthy pace, Mac enjoying the smells of new surrounds.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Danielle joked as she looked up at him.

*

“Fuck,” Danielle forced herself to stay as quiet as she could considering there were others staying in the B&B as Tom began to thrust up into her, but it was difficult considering he was doing everything in his power to make her come apart, inside and out.

“Elle.” It was taking considerable control on Tom’s behalf to not come as soon as he entered her, finally feeling her willing body around him for the first time in a few weeks, and her wearing the sexiest little lacy underwear she had bought for their reunion, it revealed only hints of skin around her breasts and ass, but hugged her tightly. “God, I’ve missed you.”

“Yes, so much.” She agreed, her voice hushed, but the honesty was blatant. “I’m gonna…”

“Yes, please…” Tom hurried his movements, trying to make her fall apart for the third time that evening. “I need to…”

“Close baby?” she bit his bottom lip and pulled it slightly.

“Fuck, yes, yes…” the small sensation of pain from her bite and the feel of her body tightening around his cock caused his orgasm to hit him, his sharp thrusts causing her own to occur, both gasping and moaning as they did so. “Elle.” Tom could barely speak.

“Mmhmm?” she was still above him, her legs straddling him as she shook slightly from her release.

“I missed you so much.” He declared, not caring if it seemed too much in his post-coital bliss.

“I missed you too.”

“What will we do if I have to go away for a film?”

Danielle sighed, toying with some stray hairs that were on his forehead. “I will have to get over it and look forward to seeing you again on your return or when I can return this favour and visit you on your job.”

“Would you?” she frowned. “Would you come visit me?”

“I would.” She nodded.

“I love you.” He leant up and kissed her.

“I happen to love you too, Tom.” She smiled, kissing him again.

*

“You look happy with yourself.” The makeup artist winked at Danielle as she walked onto the set. “I take it the boyfriend wasn’t too jetlagged for a little fun last night.”

“You need to get your girlfriend up here, STAT!” Danielle laughed.

“Girl, I may be sexually frustrated, but that only makes me all the more able to sense a girl who got herself some last night.” Nacelle laughed. “And Becky is coming here next week. But that does not answer my question.” Danielle said nothing, but looking down as she blushed. “Don’t need an answer; your face says it all.” Danielle just shrugged. “Mr Promotions may end up getting one of his own soon if you think that way about him.”

“Getting a what?”

“A promotion,” Danielle cocked her head slightly, not understanding what Nacelle was saying. “You telling me you would say no if he got on one knee?”

“We are nowhere near ready for any of that yet.” Danielle dismissed immediately.

“But you see it with him?”

“Do you see it with the famous Becky?”

“I have the ring, I am just waiting for Christmas to be over to ask her, I don’t want her thinking it is some terrible holiday gimmick, I want to ask her on a random day, just for us.”

“Why not before Christmas then, next week, walking up the hillside, cold crisp air and a hot chocolate in hand, and just ask her?”

“You didn’t strike me as the romantic type Danny, but you are actually the sickly adorable one. I bet you and ‘Promotions’ are adorable and snugly at home together. Does he have a real name?”

“Thomas.”

“Jesus, that actually sounds as…proper as a career in sales is.” Nacelle laughed light-heartedly. “Well, I bet you and ‘Tommy Boy’ are just sickly cute.”

“He brought my dog up for the weekend, my B&B has kennels and he actually brought the dog with him.” Danielle smiled uncontrollably.

“I’m more of a snake or rodent person myself, but that’s cute in anyone’s book.”

“I wish I could have brought him to work with me.”

“Tommy?”

“Mac, the dog.” Danielle laughed.

“What are they doing now?”

“They’ve gone for a run, I got a text and a photo of their stop near the lake.” Danielle explained, holding up her phone to show Nacelle the picture Tom sent of Mac Tíre looking over the water, no hint of the man who was with him in the picture making Danielle feel safe in showing it, with the title “I may look all regal, but I am thinking of a dental stick I was promised for posing”.

“Okay, you two are nauseating.” Nacelle just walked off, “Seriously, I am getting nauseous.”

“I’ll let him know you think that.” Danielle smiled; she sent him back a reply. “Can work hurry the fuck up and finish for today. I want to get back to my boys.”

“Wait and see Danny, I will be doing your makeup for your wedding very soon.” Nacelle beamed.

“Really?” Danielle laughed with a raised brow

“Oh yes, you’ll get in some hack and I’ll be a regular guest because you won’t want to pay out my extortionate prices, and I’ll see you and get you to the nearest room and have to redo it all, wait and see.” The other woman swore as she waved goodbye.

Biting her lips slightly, Danielle’s eyes flitted side to side for a moment, in truth, it was far too early to ever consider such things and she knew whatever about Tom, she was nowhere near ready, but the image Nacelle put in her mind made her smile uncontrollably. Putting her phone away again, she went to the office to see what was needed for her day’s work.

Chapter Text

“So Friday?” Tom asked hopefully.

“No,” his stomach dropped. “Wednesday night.”

Tom frowned, “What?”

“Set is shut down since last Friday, we’re done,” Danielle informed him.

“You’re finished?”

“We are.” Her smile was clear through the phone. “I am free for all of Christmas and New Years now.”

“Have you any plans?”

Danielle giggled for a moment. “I have a lot of paperwork I am still working on, but other than that, walking Mac, a bit of training and probably eating far too much food, you?” she asked almost as though innocently, knowing full well his plans.

“I am hoping to spend time with friends, family and of course, spoil my gorgeous, sexy girlfriend.” Tom bit his lip as he mentioned her in the end.

“She’s a lucky girl.”

“I hope she thinks that.”

“And what will you be doing with this lucky girl?”

“Oh, well now, darling, that would be telling,” Tom smirked.

“You have no idea how much I want to go and see if you are all empty promises or are you talking the talk and walking the walk.” Danielle groaned.

“What about your paperwork?” tom asked.

“Is it mad to bring it, and then drive back here with it done before going home for Christmas?” Danielle wondered aloud. “Tom?” When he did not answer her for a moment, she got worried. “Tom?”

“Could you?”

“Could I what?”

“Could you take the paperwork with you?”

“Tom, I was joking, I have literally a minimum of three to five days worth of paperwork here, I would be no company to anyone.”

“But you set yourself hours, don’t you?”

“Yes, eight til eight, a few pee and coffee breaks and a lunch, that’s how I can tell it will take another three to five days.” She stated factually, as though it was a reason that made it clear as for why such a thing was only a ridiculous suggestion.

“I need to rehearse, you take the living room, and I take the sitting room,” he suggested excitedly. “I’ll make sure you have tea and food. You’re terrible at looking after yourself when you are busy.”

“Said the pot to the kettle,” She scoffed indignantly. “Tom…”

“Elle.” He retorted immediately, his excitement blatantly.

Danielle sighed and thought for a moment. “I would need to have this back to the office as soon as is humanly possible.”

“We’ll take the Jag,” Tom beamed, elated at seeing her again after another two weeks without each other. “It will take very little time that way.”

“The car we would use doesn’t matter, we wouldn’t be going over the speed limit regardless, so it would take just as long in mine.”

“I suppose no one would be looking for me in a Ford Focus.” Tom chuckled, “So, are you going to come up?”

“Can you come here?”

“I have to sign some paperwork and contracts and that here,” Tom stated, his tone downtrodden, sensing she would not come up to London.

There was another moment or two of silence before Danielle responded. “I guess I am going to have to say goodbye to the McLaren’s then.”

Tom’s stomach began to feel as though it was bubbling with anticipation. “Really?”

“Well, as long as I get this paperwork to the studio on time, I should be okay.”

“Should?”

“Well, by right, they like it done at the studio, but the production is over, I am doing this on my own time, so what can they do? It’s not like they can fire me after the job is over.” She commented.

“You’re not going to get in trouble, are you?”

“No, but if I do, I will just explain my horny boyfriend gave me an offer I could not refuse.” She laughed.

“I am a lover, not a fighter, darling.” Tom chuckled in response. “And I am most certainly not a gangster.”

“I don’t think you could pull off a gangster.”

“What?”

“Do you honestly think, you, Mr Eton education and well spoken could pull off a soccer hooligan or something, Not. A. Chance.” Danielle scoffed.

“Darling, you will have to be punished for saying such things as that.”

“Now that role you can play.”

“What role?”

“The Jag commercial type role.”

“Does that role interest you, my dear?” he asked, a brow quirked at the idea of what Danielle may find interesting.

“Tom, they only said it was the ‘reckless speeding’ that got that ad cancelled so other men would not have to realise it was because it was at risk ruining marriages and relationships around Western Europe with women drooling at seeing you in that role.” Tom erupted in laughter at her comment. “You know it’s true.”

“Elle, I cannot wait to have you here so we can joke like this face to face and I can ravish you as you deserve for it.”

“I have to work,” she reminded him.

“We can have office working hours and couple hours.” He half joked.

“I won’t hold my breath on that.” She laughed as she starting packing her suitcase. “I will see you in a few hours, I guess.” She smiled, looking at everything she had to fold and sort.

“I cannot express how much I am looking forward to it.” Tom smiled. “I will have something ready for the dinner.”

“I will text when I get to that petrol station about an hour out from the city.”

“Pull in.”

“I am the ex-paramedic, there is no need to tell me to pull in, I have seen the shit that happens when idiots text while driving.” Danielle snapped, not meaning to come across as aggressively as she sounded.

“I know darling, I only want you to be safe,” Tom stated calmly, sensing that it was not her snapping at him for saying that, but at the idea of her even considering such a thing, since it was one of the things that truly boiled her blood. “I talk like that to everyone, because of you actually.”

Danielle inhaled deeply. “I didn’t mean to snap, I shouldn’t have, you didn’t deserve that, I just…”

“I get it, I do.” Tom sympathised, “Get packing, I will see you this evening.”

“See you this evening.” She smiled before she pressed the end call button and the line went dead.

Saying her goodbyes was simple yet sad for Danielle, the family that ran the B&B were lovely, quiet and so homely, she did not want to leave in some ways.

“You know where we are.” Clara McLaren smiled as she hugged Danielle goodbye. “And tell that lovely man of yours that we cannot wait to see him again, both of you.”

“Thank you for everything. I will tell him, and I promise we’ll return soon.”

“Good, it so hard to believe such a lovely man is a Hollywood celebrity, they are so demanding, and he is so charming and sweet.”

“Yes, Tom is a bit of a mould breaker,” Danielle smiled.

“You can tell these days with young people, what way they will turn out, well most of the time, the good and the bad, you two are two that are going to last.”

Danielle smiled, “We hope anyway.”

“It’s not hope that makes it work.” Walter dismissed. “Work is what makes it work. You’re a busy girl, he’s a busy man, that will test you, but if you bother to try, it should work out right for you.” He stated.

“I will make sure to remember that,” Danielle promised.

“Most young ones would say that and walk off without ever giving it another thought, but you, I think you will listen.” He smiled.

“Thank you both, for everything, I cannot tell you how great it’s been here.”

“Well, you know where we are.” Clara hugged her again.

“I promise, we’ll be back.”

“Well then, we’ll see you then.” They smiled, watching as Danielle walked to her car, putting her bag on the passenger seat and waving one last time before putting the key in the ignition.

“Hey, Danny?” Danielle groaned as she turned to see one of her now ex-workmates nearby. “You’re leaving?” He noticed her bags in the back.

“Yeah, I am heading to London, going to do the last of the paperwork there and bring everything back by the middle of next week.” He gave her an odd look. “Is there something you want to say, Evan?”

“That guy that was here the other week to see you.” Danielle’s heart pounded in her ears and chest, fearful. “He’s that actor that was dating Taylor Swift during the summer, wasn’t he?” she nodded slightly, too worried to speak, swallowing hard. Evan looked her up and down before pursing his lips slightly, making Danielle’s blood boil, since she knew what he was thinking. “You never said anything on set.”

“Because it’s no one’s business.” She replied bluntly.

“But you can get better jobs?”

“Why would I want to?” she frowned at him.

Evan looked at her as though she was mad. “You could work on big budget Hollywood movies, not on little shows here in the middle of nowhere.”

“But I don’t want that.”

“You don’t want to work on big productions?”

“I do, but from working my way there myself. Not everyone in the world wants to get ahead by dirty means, Evan.” She growled.

Evan looked her up and down again, though the second time, he didn’t have the same look on his face. “Apparently not.” Danielle was somewhat worried by the smile on his face. “Fair dues, Danny, not everyone has you work ethic.” Danielle frowned. “As for your boyfriend, I’m not going to tell anyone.” He winked.

“I know I am tempting fate here, but why not?”

“None of my business.”

“If it’s none of your business, why even bring it up?”

“Curiosity,” he shrugged, “I spent about a week trying to figure out where I knew him from; it was wrecking my head, I just wanted to confirm it.”

“Well, thanks, Evan.” She smiled weakly.

“Have a nice Christmas Danny, and safe journey.”

“You too,” she nodded, before getting her window up again and driving off, back towards London and Tom, hoping Evan truly had no intention of telling anyone of herself and Tom, knowing that the day would come it would happen anyway, so she could not worry too much about it.

Chapter Text

“Done,” Danielle sighed as she placed a pile of documents back in their folder and put it in the finished pile.

“Darling?”

“Living room.” She replied, looking at the door, knowing Tom would walk in any moment.

“I was thinking,”

“Ah, that can’t be good.” She laughed as he finally came into view, his face showing his bemusement. “You asked for it,” she sniggered as he came over to her. “What were you thinking?”

He sat beside her, pulling her onto his lap. “I love you.”

Danielle eyed him suspiciously. “That’s not good.”

“It is darling, it is, I just…I want to show people the amazing woman I have.” he kissed a small trail along her neck.

“Tom…” Danielle pulled away. “I’m not sure I…”

“A small get together, here, at the house, just literally a few friends, Ben and Sophie included.” He suggested.

Danielle’s brow furrowed and she bit her lip for a moment. “That sounds nice.” She turned to face him, kissing him as she did.

“Really?” Tom eyed her worriedly. “I thought you would shoot it down.”

“I would have, if you suggested a public place, I am not ready to deal with huge numbers of people and photographers shouting at us, but we control this environment, no paps, only people you are good friends with, and I will have Sophie to hide behind.” She smiled.

“Just a few friends, five tops, I want them to actually get to know you properly and I don’t want you to be overwhelmed.” He grinned; delighted she had been so welcoming of the idea.

“Just one thing, though,” she added, tom froze and waited for what she would ask. “No overly fancy food.”

“I promise,” he grinned, “shrimp caviar and a nice flute of champagne should be enough.” Her response was a fit of giggles. “Did I hear you say you are done?”

“For today, yes.”

“It’s only six.”

“Yes, I got the files I wanted to get done sorted, and I have bleary eyes and a hankering for a nice run.” She explained, getting to her feet.

“I’ll have dinner ready for when you get back.” Tom kissed her again before getting them both to their feet. “How does lamb sound?”

“Usually they make a sort of ‘maa’ sound.” She answered, laughing again at the bemused look on his face. “I’m sorry, that was Baaaad.”

“Fucking hell, please stop.” Tom smiled, trying not to laugh, but the more she looked at him, the harder it became to hold it in before he ended up laughing too. “You are so terrible.”

“You love it.” She grinned before groaning.

“What?” Tom asked worriedly.

“I have nothing nice to wear, they are all going to think you are after going from bad to worse and are now slumming it with, what are they called here chavs?”

Tom rolled his eyes. “You do not, in any way, shape or form, have the appearance of a chav.” Danielle looked at the sweatpants and Nike air hoodie she was wearing before raising a brow. “You are wearing them because you planned to go for a jog, don’t get sassy with me.” He ordered.

“Now you are sounding a little kinky.” She smiled.

“I swear, there is a side of you I am dying to have fun with.” He grinned, taking a step forward. Immediately, Danielle took a step back. “Elle…”

“Yes, sir?” she grinned slyly.

“Go for your run before I take you on the couch.”

“That’s….I dunno, some form of fancy designer that overcharges and is easily ruined, you can’t do that.”

“Go for your run, missy.”

“Yes, sir.” She grinned before rushing out the door again.

“Minx,” Tom shouted before getting the cup she had left on the table and bringing it to the kitchen.

*

“So tomorrow evening then?” Tom double checked one last time before sending out the texts to his friends.

“Perfect, I will go shopping and get a few things for it in the afternoon.” She smiled, kissing his cheek as she grabbed a cup from the press to make herself a cup of tea to continue her paperwork.

“I cannot wait, thank you, Elle.”

“What for?” she scoffed.

“Doing this.” He gently placed his hands on her sides.

“It’s a few friends over.” She dismissed.

“But when Paul asked you to meet his friends…”

“I was not looking at Paul as long term, that was…I’m not sure, probably just a distraction, as cruel as it sounds, I wasn’t invested in that, and I knew deep down they would be asses, and well, I was right and then some.”

“I went to a public school and Cambridge and you’re not worried my friends will be the same?”

“I am, a little, but I will have Sophie to help me too.” She grinned, but then the grin fell off her face as she listened. “The door…”

Tom walked into the hallway only to come face to face with Mac Tíre. “What the…"

“There you are Tom, give me a hand.”

“Mum…” Mac rushed into the kitchen passed Tom. “What…?”

“Christmas shopping sweetheart, I always do this.”

Tom winced as he recalled her saying that. “I forgot, what do I need to help with?” She indicated to go outside to the car. “Mum!” He looked at what she had brought with her.

“The house is too bare, darling, you never put up a lot of decorations.” She commented.

“So you dragged Sarah into this?” Tom laughed as he watched his sister try to unload the car, rushing over to help.

“I regretting asking if she wanted me to collect her at the house.”

“Why is Mac here?”

“Got in and would not get out, you don’t understand Tom,” Sarah’s face told him her seriousness, “He literally refused to get out. The whole way here, he just sat there, looking out, waiting to get here, as soon as he saw the house, he went bonkers whining to get out, we thought it was to get to the bathroom but he just waited at the door for mum to open it. Has he ever been here?”

“No, but Elle’s inside,” Tom commented, Sarah just stared at him. “Do you think he knew?”

“He’s a dog, and we didn’t know. Wait, is she fully clothed?”

Tom chuckled, “She was when she was in the kitchen a minute ago making her tea.”

“Wait, where is her car?”

“Getting serviced, it sort of had a run-in with a pothole and is now a bit screwed up, something about the radiator and the exhaust, it’s in for the holidays.”

“Oh, lovely.” Sarah groaned, throwing a bag of decorations at him. “Hey, do you think she will want to go shopping with us?”

“I’m not sure, she has a fortune of paperwork she’s doing.”

“Yeah, ‘paperwork’,” Sarah scoffed.

“No actually, she is very strict, I was locked out of my own living room two days ago because of it.”

Sarah laughed. “I always liked her. I hope this works Tom, I really do, she is the dose of reality you need in your life.”

“I hope so too.” Tom beamed as he walked up the steps and into his home, looking at Mac, who was wagging his tail at him in the hall. “Did she see you?” he asked the dog excitedly.

“He only left me because he heard you on the steps.” Danielle smiled as she walked into the hallway. “Yikes, need a hand?” she rushed over to help him with the decorations.

“Thanks,” he smiled. “You mad?”

“About what?” she laughed, making her way to the kitchen.

“Your paperwork.”

“I will have to get over it, apparently I am to be forced to bully my way through the shopping streets after a cup of tea.”

“Are you okay with that?” Tom asked worriedly.

“I don’t think I get a choice.” She shrugged. “I suppose one extra day won’t kill me, will it?”

“Well, you got a half morning done.”

“Glass half full,” Danielle winked before walking back over to the counter, handing Tom a cup of tea she had made him before turning again to talk with Diana, who was smiling happily at them both.

*

Tom - Look who’s made himself at home.

Danielle laughed to herself as she looked at the accompanying photo of Mac, who was asleep, upside down, tongue hanging out of his mouth by Tom’s feet.

Danielle - He won’t want to go home later.

Tom – He doesn’t have to, we can bring him with us when we go for Christmas.

Danielle – Is that fair on him?

Tom – I’m not going to lie, darling, I am a tad insulted, why would it be. I have always wanted a dog and there is more than enough room for him here, he is happy, see picture for confirmation. We have lovely places to walk him too.

Danielle sighed, wondering what to do.

“You look like you’re in intense thought, has my idiot brother put his foot in it?” she looked up to see Sarah looking at her.

“No, just a simple issue with Mac.” Sarah cocked her head slightly. “He thinks he should stay until we head to Suffolk for Christmas.”

“What do you think?”

“That I would like that, but isn’t it a bit much.”

“How so?”

“It’s just so…..”

“Domestic?” Sarah offered. “What’s wrong with that? Tom wouldn’t offer if he didn’t want it, that’s the kind of guy he is. He wants a normal home life, same as most everyone else, and that includes the pet and partner.” She smiled. “You are so much better a match for him, I mean, she had some good points, everyone does, but he likes this life and his work life separate, there was no way to do that with her.” She gave Danielle an apologetic look. “I know you might not want to hear that.”

“Look, I don’t like her, but I acknowledge she is not the devil incarnate. Just don’t expect me to be sad if she never releases another album.”

“You and me, both,” Sarah agreed. “I am so relieved I don’t have a moody teenager at the moment, I am not sure if I could listen to ‘Shake It Off’ on loop. That’s one of the only songs of hers that I can stand.”

“Mine is Bad Blood,” Danielle admitted.

“She doesn’t even sing all of it herself.”

“Why do you think I like it?” Danielle joked.

Sarah did too as she held up a jacket, “Thoughts?”

“Retro style, I’m sure he’ll like it, not sure if it’s his colour, though.”

“Tom always wears navy.” Sarah frowned.

“Wait, Tom? Sorry thought you were looking at it for Yakov; that will suit him to the ground, he’ll love it.” Danielle smiled.

“What are you getting him?”

“Is a weekend away in an old English manor that happens to have a spa alright?” Sarah stared blankly at her. “Too naff?”

“I want it.” Sarah groaned. “Seriously, tell him if he doesn’t have it done before the Golden Globes, I will use it on him,” she swore.

“Will do.” Danielle looked at her phone, having received another text.

Tom – I know you are busy getting me wonderful presents, but could you pick up a few things from Harrods’s, I know mum will go there at some stage, just a few bits I need to get for people.

Danielle – Don’t you have some poor little goon on minimum wage stuck doing that for you? : P

Tom – I do, why do you think I am texting? Xx

“That bastard!” Danielle laughed as she looked at Tom’s reply.

Sarah just moved around and was able to read the lower half of Danielle’s message and Tom’s response. “That cheeky prick,” She laughed as she shook her head.

“I walked myself into that one.” Danielle conceded.

“You may have.” Sarah went back to seeing if she could get anything for her husband, but glanced over to Danielle for a moment, seeing the genuine smile on the other woman’s face, thinking that indeed, as far as any women Tom had shown interest in were concerned, she was by far the best match for her idiot brother. 

 

Chapter Text

“Elle!” Tom looked around the kitchen in shock. He had gone to meet with Luke regarding the BAFTA Tea Party the night before the Golden Globes and had arrived home with not long to go before their guests were arriving, to find Danielle’s day’s work in front of him.

“Is it okay?” she asked, walking back into the kitchen, having been out the back garden for some reason, a few stains on her t-shirt showing she had not gotten through the day unmarked as she usually joked, worried that what she had cooked and prepared were not suitable for Tom’s friends.

“Not…Elle, this is amazing, how did you do all of this?”

“So, I may have done the same as yesterday.” He frowned. “Only a couple hours of work, then cooking and cleaning.”

“Cooking and…darling,” Tom came over and wrapped his arms around her. “I cannot tell you how amazed I am by how this all is, it is incredible.” He grinned. “It looks like it was done by a professional caterer.”

“Tom, it’s a couple of fucking pieces of prawn in a bowl with lettuce, onion and cherry tomatoes.” She scoffed.

“Darling, you are sublime.”

“This is known.” She grinned.

“Is that your way of telling me the next season has more Dothraki?” Tom asked excitedly.

“No, I am merely quoting the books.” She replied, leaning up and kissing him. “I need to get showered and changed. I got a text from Sophie, Ben’s parents cannot take Christopher this evening, so they are bringing his travel cot and I have the spare room ready for his Royal Handsomeness and Mac is currently protecting the back garden from what I assume are birds and cats.”

Tom looked out, and sure enough, the dog was scouring the tree branches above him for something, but unable to see anything. “You are so efficient, so on that note, how about we continue being efficient and have a shower, together?” he grinned wickedly.

To Tom’s surprise, Danielle frowned slightly. “Can I ask you something?” worriedly, he nodded. “Are you always this…I guess the word is driven?”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow.”

“Have you always been this alert, wanting to…?”

“Have I a high sex drive?” Tom finally figured out what she was trying to say.

“Yes.”

“Honestly, I have not been like this for a few years.”

“And now?”

“Now I want to more than I have in a long time, and the reason for which, in my somewhat educated opinion, that being I know me better than anyone, is because I find you, the sexiest little minx, you are beautiful, alluring, you have the most beautifully plump breasts,” he kneaded them as he said so. “And do not get me started on that delicious and tight quim of yours.”

“You’re hard again, aren’t you?” Danielle shook her head as she smiled.

“Enough to herd cattle, as you have said.”

“Quick shower,” she grinned, grabbing his hand and making her way to the third floor of Tom’s townhouse, the taller Briton all too happy to follow her.

They made their way into the bathroom, Danielle turning on the shower before turning and kissing Tom, pulling his shirt out of his pants and unbuttoning it as he pulled her t-shirt up, groaning at breaking the kiss only as long as was required to get it over her head and then attacking her lips again.

Sloppily, they unclothed one another before Tom grabbed Danielle by the ass and pulled her up and pressed her against the tiled wall of his shower, grinding his bare and leaking cock to her abdomen, before finally positioning himself as best he could against her. Danielle’s contribution to the act was to snake her hand between them and guide him to her core, sighing as he filled her. Slowly, Tom began to move, trying to get the angle that would give his partner the greatest pleasure, finding it more difficult considering they had never used such a position before. Danielle noticed there was a manner for her to steady one of her legs on the handle Tom inexplicably had in the shower, so she did, allowing her to take some of her weight from Tom, who in turn, focused more on thrusting into her as a result.

It was not their most graceful of couplings, but it was amorous and highly pleasurable in its coarse nature. Danielle nipped and Tom’s lower lip, pulling it slightly as he hissed before leaving open mouthed kissed down her throat as he moved in her, her hand fisting the hair on the back of his neck as the water cascaded down on them. Danielle felt the pleasure slowly build in her, but she could tell from Tom’s movements that he would reach his own peak long before her, already nearing it by the sounds he was making. “Tom!”

“I, God Elle.” He rasped, loving how she felt around him.

“Come on baby.” She encouraged.

“You?” he moved slightly to allow her slide her hand between them and slowed himself as best he could.

“There, fuck, there,” Danielle begged as Tom altering his position caused him to brush against her in the most exquisite manner, both inside and out, with the help of his pubic bone.

Tom drove into her with renewed gusto until he felt her walls tighten around him, gripping him and causing increased pleasure on his own behalf. Leaning in and kissing along her collarbone, he waited for her orgasm to finish before moaning loudly, unable to stave off his own any longer and filled her as his mind, and unbeknownst to his brain, his lips, chanted yes, again and again. Panting, Tom pressed his forehead to Danielle’s, the water still pouring over them. “I love you, Danielle Hughes.” He declared in rushed breaths, looking into her eyes.

Danielle gripped her lower lip between her teeth as she smiled back at him. “As I do you, Thomas Hiddleston.” He gently and slowly lowered her to the ground, “You’ve been working out more.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You can hold my ‘wholesome’ ass for a fair amount of time.”

Tom growled before pinning her to the wall of the shower, his blue eyes filled with anger. “Don’t you dare start that,” he warned, “You are incredibly sexy and I would not alter your appearance for anything.” Danielle’s smile in return was somewhat small, not fully believing him. “I just told you I love you, that has to mean something to you, you believe that, don’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Then why would you not believe me when I say I love your physical appearance too? You were the one, only ten minutes ago asking me if I have always been so easily turned on, I said no, so what do you think causes me to get so aroused around you?”

“You’ve starting sniffing pheromones?” she asked cheekily, laughing a moment later when he chuckled and kissed her again.

“I find you very attractive, and I love these sexy breasts, I told you already, they fit so perfectly into my hands.”

“We really should be getting ready,” Danielle stated, though her tone told of her unwillingness to do so. Tom looked at her for a moment. “What?”

“Do you…?”

“Do I what?” she looked at him suspiciously, not knowing what he was trying to ask, but then she noticed that his gaze was almost fearful, “What Tom, do I what?”

“Find me…”

Danielle expected him to break out in his goofy grin and begin to chuckle, but after a few moments, he didn’t, causing her to erupt in laughter, earning her a very hurt look from Tom. “You honestly think I don’t? Oh, you silly, silly, silly man.” She laughed, cupping his face in her hands and forcing him down for a kiss. “I forget sometimes that even with a legion of fans and even with awards for sexy asses, there is always a chance you would suffer esteem issues. Let’s see, apart from my blatant adoration of your delectable derrière, I adore your eyes, your high cheek bones, your freckles, especially the ones on your chest, I melt when I see the trail of hair from your naval down your abdomen and I cannot ever put into words how much I fucking love your big juicy cock.” Tom stared at her wide-eyed. “Is that in any way what you wanted to hear? You are incredibly sexy Tom, not just to the girls who want you because you’re famous or because you are the gentleman every girl wants, your insecurities are as sexy as anything else about you, because they are human fears, making you all the more desirable in my humble little opinion.”

“Elle,” his nostrils flared slightly and his lip quivered.

“What is going on Tom, you’re clearly worried about something?”

“I’m scared.”

“Of what?”

“Fucking this up.”

“Good.” His eyes widened as she said it. “It means you care, and yes, we both will screw up from time to time, but hell, we’re both human, so get some shower gel, wash the stench of sex off yourself and let’s get ready for our guests, shall we?” she smiled before reaching passed him to get her shampoo.

Elated that she was not running scared from his voicing his fear, Tom did as requested, watching as she rubbed her shower gel onto herself, not paying him much heed. “I never realised how this can take two people comfortably.” He commented as she was able to put her body wash back on the shelf without rubbing into him.

“You’ve never had fun in here before?” Danielle enquired.

“No, never,” Tom admitted, earning him a slightly suspicious glance. “What?”

“Can I ask why that is in here?” Danielle pointed to the handle.

“I have no idea, it’s been here since before I bought it,” Tom admitted, looking at the fixture.

“Fair enough came in handy anyway.” Danielle shrugged, going back to washing herself. “Tom!” she warned as she felt him snake his arms around her. “You are fucking insatiable, if you’re done, then get out or I will have to put the water on cold.”

“An empty threat,” Tom grinned. Inhaling deeply, Danielle closed her eyes and reached over, turning the temperature to the lowest setting. “Fuck!” Tom almost tripped over himself getting out of the shower as what felt like glacial temperature water hit him. “How the hell are you still in there?” He asked, looking at Danielle, who was not looking comfortable, yet still in the shower.

“Triathlon.” She shrugged, “First ones start in April; you get used to cold water.”

“You are insane,” grabbing a towel, he wrapped it around himself. “Elle, please, get out, you’ll get sick.”

“How can I, it’s lovely and warm again,” she smiled, going under the water again to wash out the conditioner that was in her hair, steam rising again showing she had increased the temperature.

“Kicked out of my own shower, you are taking over the house.”

“I am female, it’s what we do.” She grinned; chuckling, Tom left to get ready.

*

“Hello handsome little man,” Danielle beamed as Christopher looked up at her.

“Thank you for letting him come,” Sophie stated.

“What, will you go way out of that, thank you for still coming and saving me.” Danielle took the nappy bag and immediately made for the stairs so Christopher’s belongings would be where they were needed. Ben and Sophie following her.

“Is Tom around anywhere?” Ben asked, noticing the severe lack of the other man.

“Gone for a quick walk with Mac so that he’ll be settled when there are people here.”

“Mac is here?”

“Yeah, Diana and Sarah came yesterday with him so we are keeping him here til Christmas with us. I think Tom is just happy to have a dog around, he always wanted one.” Danielle smiled. “So this is where Christopher get’s to go for a snooze.”

“Its baby proofed.” Ben noticed, realising there were even safety plugs in the sockets.

“Yeah, I never checked if he can escape travel cots, so I said I would make sure he would be safe in case he did,” Danielle explained. “Am I coming across half mad?”

“And the shortlist of people we can trust to look after Kit in an emergency has now grown.” Sophie declared.

“I’m honoured, I think. How is the bubble?”

“Is she calling our baby a bubble?” Ben asked his wife, who smiled and nodded.

“Don’t say it too often, I think she only calls it that because she finds it amusing when people use the word.” Sophie hinted.

“I do, I really, really do,” Danielle admitted. “Tea?”

“Yes, Sophie took so long getting ready, I feel like there’s a drought.”

“Do men ever stop moaning?” Danielle asked the other woman quietly after Ben left the room.

“Not that I have seen, wait til you’re married to one, I think it increases then.” The other woman stated as they made their way to the stairs.

“I thought the middle floor was best, so he is close enough by and you said you were bringing monitors.”

“Honestly, you are too understanding, thank you.” Sophie smiled. “Have you met anyone else before, who else is coming?”

“Right so, I have met none of these people, but the names I have heard are Laurie and his wife, damn it, I better Google her name and remember it.”

“Jo Green,” Ben informed her from the stairs.

“Thank you, and then there is some guy he was in college with, Francis Dubois and his wife, and Jeremy from RADA and his husband.” She listed off.

“No Luke?”

“No, apparently he is coming later in the week to discuss stuff with Tom, so I was going to go back to Wales with my paperwork, but my car is fecked, so now I am just going to say hello and leave for a while when they are talking.”

“Won’t Tom let you borrow his?”

“I am not touching the steering wheel of that car.” Danielle declared. “Not a hope in hell.”

“It’s just a car.”

“That is worth nearly half my house.”

“You overestimate the cost of a Jag,” Tom commented as he walked back into the kitchen with Mac trotting over to the water bowl, drinking his fill before curling up in the new, and in Danielle’s opinion, overpriced bed Tom had gotten him.

“It was free, he put his ugly mug in front of a camera for a few minutes and they gave him a free car for his troubles.” Ben joked as his friend embraced him.

“You’re just jealous,” Tom dismissed.

“Are any of these people going to have a problem with Mac, not everyone likes dogs, much less big ones?” Danielle asked, looking at Mac, who seemed to realise she was talking about him and looked up at her.

“If they do, the door is there, he is staying here, they are not.” Tom declared. “He’ll just lie there and watch everything, won’t he?”

“That’s his usual style.”

“So as long as one of us remembers he’ll need to take a piss at some stage, it’ll be fine.” Ben shrugged. “I think he has Kit’s attention.” He noticed his son reaching towards the dog. He looked to Danielle, who gave a small nod and knelt down, giving Mac the option to come over if he wanted, with ears forward and tail wagging slightly, the dog came slowly to the toddler, his nose twitching slightly to see if there was anything of note in the youth’s hand. “Gently, Kit,” Ben stated in a soothing voice. Mac stayed still as Ben took Christopher’s hand and gently stroked it down the canine’s neck. “Isn’t he lovely and soft, Kit?” Seemingly delighted with his attention and compliments, Mac nudged Ben’s hand before giving it a small lick, his tail wagging throughout. “Maybe we should…”

“Oh no, we are not even thinking about getting a dog, not for at least a couple of years, I am not going to juggle work, two kids and a dog.” Sophie declared. “It would not be fair to the poor thing. You can both come and play with him if you get an uncontrollable hankering.” She added, pointing to Mac.

“I’m sure Mac won’t mind, will you, boy?” Mac just walked over to Tom, licking his hand and sitting in front of him for him to play with him.

Ben just looked on, his face showing his own slight disappointment, mumbling something akin to ‘not fair’ in the process. “Men are as bad as children,” Sophie growled.

“Worse, kids can be distracted easier.” Danielle laughed.

Chapter Text

The rest of the guests arrived soon after, and much to Danielle’s relief, there was no name forgetting or mixing up. She felt slightly out of place amongst them all; successful, well educated and clearly highly knowledgeable in a range of different topics. Tom was currently speaking with the man named Jeremy regarding the political upheaval in Sudan, both men seemingly knowing a great deal on the subject. Danielle knew that with going there, Tom was at the very least been briefed on the situation, and of course, being ever meticulous Tom, had read as much as he could, she only read his briefing, not wanting to worry too much about his visit, and she had left it at that; so as the men continued talking, she left the room and went in search of Sophie, who was feeding Christopher.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, just a little overwhelmed.” Danielle admitted.

“I can imagine, it gets easier, or I think it does, I think you just learn to ignore it in the end.”

“I want to do well at this; I want to make Tom feel like this is working.”

Sophie frowned. “Is it? Is it working?”

“Yeah…”

“Then why say that you want him to feel like it is?”

“Because I…” Danielle looked at her hands.

“What is it?”

“Nothing, just that stupid little voice in my head saying stupid things.” Danielle dismissed.

“You doubt that he thinks it is?”

“I have no idea, I think he does, but then I think about the people he was with previously and how they are of,” she pointed towards the direction of the living room, where Tom and the others were talking at present, “that set, and I am just…I mean I was never wanting for anything, my parents had good jobs and I was an only child so I had everything I could ever want, but I’m not…”

“One of us?” Sophie asked with a small smile and a raised brow. “You are aware going to public schools, fancy colleges and having bigger bank accounts mean toss all really, some get mummy and daddy to pay for opportunities for you, and though it makes a load of people feel overly self important, to others it makes them feel like they are branded as ‘privileged’ and have to work harder to prove they are just as normal as everyone else.” She paused for a moment for Danielle to think about what she had said. “Tom doesn’t care if your parents weren’t the Duke and Duchess of Ireland, in fact, I think he actively avoids those types, and with regards his previous relationships, I do not know him as long as Ben has, I never would claim to, but Ben has made mention he is happier this time with you than he ever was with them, more than once. Besides, they didn’t work so clearly there was something that was wrong with them, and having grown up alongside many of that sort, I suspect a few things were not to his liking.”

“Aren’t you ‘one of them’ though?” Danielle joked.

“Pfft, no, I am far better than them,” Sophie winked and smiled before both women ended up laughing. “Could you hold him for a minute, I really need to go to the bathroom?”

“Work away.” Danielle smiled, taking the toddler, “We’ll be alright for a moment, won’t we, handsome man?” Christopher just babbled in reply before the word ‘yeah’. “See, we’re fine.” Sophie laughed and rushed to the bathroom.

“Hey, where have you been hiding?” Ben asked his wife as they bumped into each other in the hallway. “Where’s Kit?”

“He’s in the kitchen with Danielle; I was feeding him in there when she came in.”

“Is she alright?”

“Overwhelmed, she feels a little out of place.”

“Tom was hoping that wouldn’t happen.” Ben cursed.

“She is a little out of place, she knows that, but that is why this needs to happen, she needs to see that it’s okay that she didn’t have the same upbringing as us, that that doesn’t matter to Tom and those who are actually his friends.”

“Is Kit bothered being left with her?”

“Doesn’t seem to be.” she looked to the kitchen, though she could not see in, she could not hear her son whimpering or crying.

“I am just going to report back to Tom quickly and go rescue her before Kit has her wanting to get herself sterilised.”

“You are so dramatic.” Sophie slapped his arm before going toward the bathroom once more.

As soon as Ben walked into the living room, Tom rushed over to him. “Have you seen Elle? She was here a few minutes ago?”

“She’s in the kitchen, she got a little overwhelmed and worried she didn’t belong.”

“Shit.” Tom grimaced, “What will I do?”

Laurie immediate inserted himself in the conversation, having heard what was happening. “Go tell her that it’s alright, obviously. You can’t dismiss her fears or she won’t voice them to you, and then they fester and she will just leave. Just tell her it’s fine, I’d get intimidated by my magnificence too if I wasn’t me and it passes with familiarity.” Tom and Ben laughed as Hugh’s wife rolled her eyes at him. “In all seriousness though, she is clearly not a big crowds person and this is the best idea on how to get her used to everyone.” He commended. “Nice girl, what did you say she does again?”

“Safety officer.”

“Yikes, rather her than me, couldn’t take that pressure, much rather recite a few lines.” Laurie shuddered.

“I know; she’s amazing like that.” Tom smiled fondly.

“I do believe that Hiddleston is smitten,” Laurie teased.

“He is, trust me.” Ben nodded. “Now come on, I will take my son away and you will talk to your significant other regarding her insecurities.” Placing his arm on Tom’s shoulder and herding him to the kitchen.

Just as the approached it, they could hear Danielle talking inside, so they came to a halt and listened. “And soon, you are going to have a little brother or sister, and you are going to have a lot of fun together when you get older. I never had anyone, and it can be very boring, so even though there are going to be days that you want to kill one another, I know you will be glad to have each another too.” There were a few babbles from Christopher is response. “And you can come visit us and Mac all the time, won’t that be nice, he likes you.”

“Woo-woo.”

“Yes, Mac is a woo-woo.”

Tom looked to Ben who grinned smugly back at him before they edged their way into the room, not surprised to see Danielle walking around with Christopher on her hip, happily looking at different things as she spoke to him. it was the toddler that saw them first, and gurgled loudly at seeing his father. “Dada.”

Realising they were no longer alone, Danielle turned and smiled to the two men. “Sophie is gone to the bathroom. You don’t mind that she left him with me, do you?”

“Not at all,” Ben grinned, going over to his son, who had his arms out for his father. “You can steal him any time you want.”

Danielle smiled happily at him before looking to Tom, who was staring at her with a look on his face he had never had before still over by the door. “Is everything okay?” she asked fearfully.

Ben looked around to his friend and noticed the obscure expression also. “Tom?”

As though snapped out of a daze, Tom jumped a little, “Sorry, yeah, I…” he shook his head a little. “I just got lost in a train of thought there.” He smiled sheepishly. “Ben…”

“We’ll give you two a minute, I think someone needs a nap anyway.” Benedict excused himself before leaving the room.

“Is everything okay?” Danielle repeated.

Immediately Tom came over and wrapped his arms around her. “It is, I just can’t believe how great tonight went. How are you feeling?”

“Tired, I may have…”

“Got yourself a bit over-nervous?”

“Just a tad, did it show?”

“Not in front of others, no. But Sophie…”

“Have you had her spying on me?”

“No, I had Ben get her to keep an eye on you in case you felt you couldn’t come to me.”

“I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

“The only way you could ever disappoint me, Elle, is if you disappoint yourself. I just want you to be happy.”

“I am just scared.”

“Good, because that means you are care about this.” He grinned back, using her own words from earlier in the day against her.

“What caused you to zone out a minute ago, it didn’t seem like something bad?”

“You look lovely by the way, I don’t think I saw that top before.”

“I got it in town yesterday with your mum and sister,” she looked down, “I thought it was more suitable for tonight than anything I had with me.”

“It is lovely, and with regards your question, in case you think I was avoiding.”

“Which you were.”

“I got a little startled when I heard you say to Christopher about him coming to visit us and Mac, it made me think you were serious about our discussion on us someday…”

“We talked about it, didn’t we, about after a while, it might be on the cards?”

“I know, but hearing you say it so surely,” Danielle would have been worried he was regretting suggestion it in the first place were in not for the hopeful smile on his face. “It just made it all the more wonderful to think about.”

“Your really are that desperate for a dog.” She joked, causing him to chuckle. “And didn’t your mother ever tell you not to eavesdrop?”

“In our defence, you two were talking and we did not wish to interrupt.” Tom grinned, “Do you really wish you had siblings?”

“Yes, I think that is why I sort of bonded to Emma so much after dad died, I felt like I had no one left and she was like what I think having a sister is like, so I loved being around her, she was the right amount of empathy and distraction with happy things, so for her to…”

“She is just busy at the moment, wait and see, it’s not as bad as that mind of yours is convincing you it is.”

“I know,” she sighed, cuddling in to him. “So everyone…”

“Adores and respects you,” he replied. “Laurie thinks reading lines is far easier than your work and Jeremy cannot believe you had the guts to give up college, move to a new country and work your ass off for years as a paramedic, a job that is by far one of the most commendable vocations out there, and now are after getting your way to where you wanted to be. No racist slurs, no putting you down, because truly good people don’t think that way. And I seldom surround myself with anything but.” He grinned.

“Except me,” Danielle grinned, earning a growl from Tom. “I’m joking.”

“What will we do with her, Mac?” Tom asked the dog, who had gone and sniffed his hellos to everyone on their arrival before heading back to his bed for the evening. On hearing his name, he looked to Tom and wagged his tail. “He thinks you need to stop belittling yourself.”

“Is that right, dog whisperer?”

“One of my many talents, darling,” He grinned, kissing her. “Thank you for tonight.”

“I just hope I don’t fuck up.”

“Not possible.”

*

It was almost midnight when everyone said their goodbyes. Overall, Danielle did not get the same sinking feeling she had gotten with Charles as she had with any of Tom’s friends, much to her own relief.

“Well now, that was fun.” Laurie declared as he was living, “Though, do not expect it to be returned, you set the bar too high on house gatherings. So instead, next time, dinner out, on us.”

Danielle bit her lip slightly. “Thank you,” Tom grinned to his friend, “Soon, when it’s made public, we are just trying to enjoy the quiet for now.”

Laurie looked to Danielle and smiled. “She’s the sort of girl for you Tom, grounding. It’s what kept me sane for a long time; having Jo to keep me level.”

“I hope we are half as lucky.” Tom smiled. “And thank you for coming this evening and for your advice.”

“Glad I could help.” He looked to Danielle with a wink. “Try and look after him, will you? He’s a bit of a loose canon some times.”

“I have noticed,” Danielle laughed. “And I hope you have a great Christmas and I wish you all the best at the Golden Globes.”

“Well, next to him I look like an old crock, but hopefully we’ll get a few bits of metal for our work, what do you think, Hiddleston?”

“Hopefully,” Tom chuckled as he embraced his friend. “Take care Hugh, I will see you soon, Jo, thank you for joining us this evening.”

“Well, someone has to keep him in check.” She teased as Tom kissed her cheek. “All the best you two, and thank you for the lovely evening,” Jo turned to Danielle, “If keeping morons like these two for killing themselves ever gets boring, you would thrive as an event planner.”

“Aw, thank you,” Danielle was slightly shocked when Jo took her in a tight hug. “I am sure we’ll be forced to endure their bragging when they win their awards soon.”

“I will be sure to ring you up to complain to when they do. All the best dear.”

With that, Danielle and Tom were alone again. “That went well.” Tom smiled, wrapping his arms around her from behind and kissing her shoulder. “I really do love this top.” His eyes travelling to the small valley between her breasts that were almost forced together to fit into it, his tongue darting out as he did so. “Delectable.”

“Calm yourself big boy, we have a lot of cleaning to do.”

“Like hell, we are going to bed, and when you are scribbling note after note tomorrow, I will clean.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Darling, you had the house immaculate and the food readied all by yourself today, this will be my job now, so I insist. Upstairs to bed with you, I want to strip you naked and curl up next to you.”

“What, no sex, Mr Insatiable?”

“No, I want something far more intimate, holding you against me as I fall asleep, knowing you are my gorgeous and outstanding significant other.”

“Most people would just say ‘girlfriend’.”

“Those people don’t seem to realise that that term does not do how I see you any justice. Now, bed.”

“I really should clean, but fuck it, I am exhausted.” Danielle sighed, turning and walking up the stairs ahead of him.

Chapter Text

“Wake up, Darling.” Tom nudged Danielle awake.

“Mac?”

“Unless you think your dog has my voice, no.” Tom chuckled, loving sleepy Danielle’s logic.

“Where are we?”

“We are nearing your place now,” Tom explained, getting the car to drive on again since the traffic lights had turned green.

“I fell asleep?”

“You were up until three am the last few nights and you were the one to organise everything for our coming here, it is safe to say, you are allowed have a nap.”

“But you were left to drive alone.” she whined.

Tom chuckled again and brought her hand to his lips to kiss it. “I was just concentrating on the road and I had Mac.”

“I shouldn’t have…”

“Elle, please, it’s fine. The reason I woke you at all is we are nearly there, but it is passed midnight, can we park up in yours and stay there, I don’t want to wake mum and everyone by going into hers?”

“You not sick of me yet?” Danielle half-joked.

“Never, my love.”

“Well then, you can hold off on your escape until tomorrow.” she groaned as she stretched slightly. “Why did I end up underestimating that fucking paperwork?”

“You didn’t. What you said would be three to five days, took four, but the other stuff you were faxed on, that was unexpected. What was that?”

“I want to try and work on something for a career thing.”

“Wait, you just got into being a Safety Officer, don’t you like it?”

“I love it, but I want to get more qualified to broaden my prospects, Irlam spoke with the people on the last project, so I got a bit more work from them.”

“That’s good...I think.”

“It is.” Danielle yawned. “Or it will when I am not up at all hours, until all hours.”

“What are you planning?” Tom smiled, knowing that she always was planning ahead.

“World domination.”

“Good plan.”

“I am nothing if not ambitious.” she grinned, but said no more, causing Tom to think little of it.

Mac gave a small yip when he realised where he was, and wagged his tail, the long appendage banging onto the back seat as he did so. “We’re just as happy as you are, boy.” Tom smiled as the car crunched down on the gravel of the driveway. “I cannot wait for the next few days.”

“You mean where you will have a gaggle of women cooking and cleaning for you instead of just one?” Danielle eyed him suspiciously.

“I am not going to lie.” Tom declared, then he said nothing else, causing Danielle to laugh. “Come on, a quick stretch of limbs and a crashing into bed is exactly what we need.” he opened his door and exited the car before opening the back door for Mac, who proceeded to sniff and mark several parts of the front garden. “Mine, mine, that’s mine too.” Tom joked in a low voice as they took a moment to watch Mac, Danielle smiling fondly at him as he did. “Come on, let’s get to bed.” Tom ushered her into the house.

“I can sense you staring at my ass,” Danielle commented when Mac was settled into his bed in the kitchen and they ascending the stairs.

“In my defence, it is sexy and right in front of me,” Tom argued.

“Behave.” She warned when they got to the Master bedroom.

“I could not if I tried.” Tom grinned, getting his toothbrush out of his bag.

*

“What time are Elle and Tom coming today, does anyone know?” Sarah asked as she got her daughter’s breakfast.

“Uncle Tom’s car is at Ellie’s house.” the table stared at the six-year-old. “I can see it from my room.”

Immediately Diana walked out the front door and checked over the hedging, sure enough, her son’s Jaguar was in the other driveway. She walked in home again to see her daughters, granddaughter and sons-in-law looking at her. “It is.”

“So now he will be staying there too,” Emma snapped, getting up from the table.

“Em, I went to bed at midnight, and there was no car there then, they must have come at all hours, you would have been the first to complain if Tom woke you,” Emma said nothing and stormed off. “What is going to be the plan to deal with this?” Sarah pointed to the door. “She needs to get over it.”

“She feels hurt by it all,” Jack explained, getting up to follow his wife. “I tried to talk to her, but she’s not interested at the moment. I have no idea what to do.”

“She will get over herself,” Diana dismissed. “Well, since everyone is here, we can begin to organise things properly now.”

*

 

“Darling,” Tom wrapped his arm around Danielle, pulling her to him. “We do need to get out of bed today.”

“No we don’t.” she muffled against his chest. Tom chuckled as he kissed her head. “I’m so tired.”

“I know darling, but you need to get some food, washed and fresh air, you have been inside the whole ever time since the day you went shopping with mum and Sarah.”

“Tom…” she moaned in a manner that did nothing to assist him getting out of bed, his body reacting to her sultry tone.

“Yes, Elle?” His voice tight.

“If I asked you to do something to me, would you?” Tom frowned. “Nothing mad, I promise.”

“I’m listening.” Her response was to start kissing him with gusto. “Darling, are you feeling feisty this morning?”

“I ignored you most of the week.”

“I would not call it ignore, you were busy.”

“I neglected you.”

“A tad dramatic,” he leant over her, kicking off the boxers he had worn to bed.

“Tom…”

“Please, Elle, say it.”

“Fuck me,” she begged, but to Tom’s shock, she twisted herself around, lifting her ass up slightly so that it rubbed along his length. “Please.”

Tom swallowed and looked at her for a moment. “Elle?” she looked around at him slightly, the wanton look in her eyes turning him on all the more. “You are a filthy little minx.” she grinned and bit her bottom lip at him.

*

“Elle…” Tom looked at his watch, after their earlier sexcapade, they had fallen back asleep for a time.

“No, sleepy.”

“I can see that,” she curled over in the blanket, making it effectively a cocoon around her. “I need to get up.”

“No stoppin’ uu.”

“Did I ever mention you are incredibly hilarious when overtired?” he grinned, earning him an attempt at an elbowing, but she was too wrapped up to do anything. “Nice try darling. Get some more sleep, Mac and I are going for a walk.”

“No, me come.”

Tom frowned. “You want to come with us? What about being seen?”

Danielle groaned, “No fair.”

“What is not fair darling?”

“I want come.”

“If you want to, then do, I want you to, but not until you are ready.”

“Tom?”

“Yes.”

“I love...sausage.”

Tom stared at her for a moment before he erupted in laughter “I love that you are mine, Elle, you are the most amazing person ever,” he smiled lovingly as he kissed her cheek and left the room, grabbing some spare clothes he had in the suitcase in the hall. So he didn’t have to wake her, he got dressed in the hallway and walked downstairs, he had not made it in the kitchen door when Mac barked at the back door. “I’m sorry Buddy, I know.” he opened the door and the dog rushed out. Tom looked in the fridge and smiled, there was some food after being stocked in her fridge, obviously by his mum or one of his sisters, just enough for a breakfast and a cup of tea, exactly what was needed. Mac gave a bark in the backyard, so not wanting to wake Danielle, he rushed over to let him back in. “Get in before you...Sarah!”

“Hello, little brother.” she joked as her daughter rushed in and jumped into Tom’s arms. “How are you?”

 

“Good, tired. We got back late last night, so I said I would crash here and not wake anyone.”

“You were spotted this morning.” Sarah indicated to the excited youth in her uncle’s embrace.

“I saw your car, where’s Ellie, and why are you over here and not with us?”

Tom knelt down. “Well Darling, Elle is in bed asleep, she is very tired, as for why I am here, Ellie is my girlfriend now, and we came back too late last night to come into mum’s and wake you all, so I stayed here with her.”

“You and Ellie kiss now?” Tom nodded. “Euch! But I like Ellie.”

“Well that’s a good thing then, isn’t it?” Sarah asked.

“I really like her more than the other girl, the Princess was really rude.”

Tom swallowed as the young girl referenced his farcical relationship with Taylor. “Well, I am glad you like Elle so much, I know she adores you.”

“What is your plan for the day?” Sarah asked.

“Walk Mac, go over to mum’s and give Danielle some space before I scare her off, you?”

“Well we were in mum’s until we heard you leave Mac out, and we are not busy now, so would you like some company on the walk?”

“Honestly, I would love it. You came to London for a day and for said day, you stole my girlfriend and abandoned me.”

“Stop your dramatics, Tom; that won’t work with me.” Sarah swatted his arm. Grabbing a jacket, he retrieved his car keys and got Mac’s headcollar and lead from the boot before the trio and the canine made their way down the road, the older two of the Hiddleston siblings talking en route.

*

Danielle groaned as she woke, her body ached from being stooped over for days on end with her paperwork, sleeping in Tom’s car, though it was comfortable as far as cars go, was not overly comfortable, her lack of sleep to get her paperwork done before that, and their activities when they had woken up earlier all meant she felt as though her body was punishing her. Forcing herself from the bed, she wondered where Tom had gone, going to the door, she called him, but there was no response. Going to her little study/office, she looked out the front and noticed his car, as well as Sarah and her husbands, were in her driveway, Emma and Jack's car and Diana’s were in the Hiddleston matriarchs driveway. Smiling slightly, she looked down the stairs, calling Tom’s name again, when he did not respond, she walked into her room, grabbed the shirt he had worn coming from London, put it on and went down the stairs. It felt odd to be in her own house again after some time away. Before her staying in Tom’s she missed it more but staying with him, she noticed, did not make her miss it as badly, why, she was unsure, no doubt part because he allowed her to make herself as much as home as she wanted, another part being she was so comfortable with him. She had barely thrown on the kettle when there was a knock on the front door, thinking it was Tom returning to her she rushed out and opened it without checking who it was. “Did you forget that your mum has a…” Danielle stood staring open-mouthed at the person that was on the other side of the door. “Emma.”

 

The youngest Hiddleston stared at her for a moment, before her eyes trailed up and down Danielle’s body. Her expressionless face turned to one of hurt and anger together. “Waste of my fucking time,” she growled, turning around and beginning to leave, but after a few steps, she stopped and turned back to look at Danielle. “You were supposed to be my friend.”

“I am,” Danielle declared.

“My ‘friend’ would not go and do this, you are no better than the girls we used to laugh at, the ones that thought I was not able to see what they were doing, trying to get to Tom through me, though I have to give it to you, you were smarter than them. I didn't figure you out.”

“Emma, no, I…”

“You are answering the front door in nothing but his fucking shirt Danielle, I am not stupid or blind, so don’t fucking insult me by suggesting I am,” Emma shouted.

"I love you as a friend, Em, my best friend. I always have. This just sort of happened, I didn’t want it to, but he’s a sweet, good, kind idiot, and I fell in love with him, and he felt the same. That doesn’t change how I see you, I always was so happy to have you as a friend, I would do anything I could for you.”

“If you are really my friend, you will give me some time alone with my brother, some time where I can actually spend time with him without someone invading on my family and our time together.” she snapped.

Swallowing hard and willing the tears to remain unshed, Danielle nodded. “Yes, of course.” she closed the door as Emma walked away without a backwards glance.

Chapter Text

“So, how was sharing the bachelor pad with a woman?” Tom frowned at his sister. “No one, not even the world famous Taylor Swift, was allowed stay there more than a weekend, yet Danielle remained there for over a fortnight, and your words earlier were, and I quote, ‘to not let her get sick of you’ meaning you were completely at ease with her being there.”

“Well, for the record, Taylor never even went to my house, we came straight here, and you are making me sound like some sort of philanderer.” Tom retorted. “It is not a bachelor pad, I just didn’t want just anyone invading my home.”

“Ah, so good then?” Sarah smiled. “I’m glad. For the record, she is the first woman in years that I actually think is good for you.”

“She is the only woman in years other than Taylor, I haven’t had a relationship in quite some time.” Tom pointed out.

“Stop it, Tom, you know what I mean, she is ambitious but not in a way where she will ever use your name to get ahead, she is smart and she can see through Bull and call people up on it.” Sarah looked out on the water. “It’s all you could want.”

“She is more than that, fun, funny, happy, careful yet carefree, and she just...there is something so soothing about being around her. There is so much noise and bright blinding lights in my world, yet she just somehow manages to sit there and when I am with her, it doesn’t seem to overwhelm me as much.”

“Aw, my brother is smitten, it’s actually so nauseating.” Sarah joked. “Well, in case you didn’t know, the feeling appears to be mutual.”

 

“Wait, did she say something when you were shopping?”

“Say, no, she said nothing. Her demeanour and smile, however, said everything.”

“When was this?”

“After your joke about her being the underpaid minion forced to do your shopping, she was smiling like an idiot at the phone, unable to stop herself, it was adorable,” Sarah informed him, laughing slightly when Tom’s face lit up at her words.

*

“Elle?” Tom walked in the back door of Danielle’s home with a well walked and happy Mac by his side. He could see from the used plates that she had eaten something, which was something of a relief to him. Listening intently, he heard her shower upstairs, so he decided to go and collect the rest of his things to bring over to his mother's. When the shower turned off, he smiled, imagining Danielle dripping wet and smiling as he hoped she would be, being back at home and having all of her work completed. “Elle, I’m in the hallway,” he called out, not wanting her to get startled if she heard him.

“Okay.” was her reply. “You going to your mum’s?”

“Yeah, I am going to catch up with everyone for a while.”

“Good, have fun.”

“Are you going to come by?”

“Maybe in a little bit,” the door opened and she stood in front of him with only a towel on, trying to get the excess water out of her hair. “It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow, so I need to sort out a few things here, sort the electric bill and all, post a few things that need to be done by New Years and get a bit of a shop done, I may have eaten everything in the fridge.” she smiled.

“You haven’t paid your bills?”

“I have, they are all direct debit, but I like to organise them all because I am a weirdo who likes to see where I spend my money.”

“My accountant would love you, in fact, he would get down on bended knees and ask you to have a stern word with me.” he grinned, leaning down to kiss her. “So, will I see you this evening?”

“More than likely then,” she nodded, smiling back at him. “Had you guys a nice walk?”

 

“Great, we had Sarah with us too, and for the record, you are still “Ellie”.”

“I was hoping she wasn’t calling me that still.” Danielle grimaced.

“She is the Duchess, she calls anyone anything and all we can do is accept it.” Tom smiled. “She thinks it is ‘Euch’ that we kiss now, but is far happier about this.”

“That’s because I don’t call her stories stupid and allow her some time with her uncle unsupervised. Speaking of which, go have some time with your family.”

“I will talk to you in a small while, alright?” Tom kissed her again, smiling happily before turning and going down the stairs with his suitcase.

When she heard the door close, Danielle inhaled deeply, the smile she had forced onto her face long disappeared and went into her room to get dressed.

*

“So when is Elle coming over?” Diana asked after Tom had polished off three cups of tea and two slices of cake.

“Later, she wants to organise the house and get some shopping in,” Tom responded, putting his plates in the sink.

“Better to do it today than tomorrow, the town with be hectic.” Sarah agreed. “You not going with her?”

“She looked like she wanted some time to herself, she has been so busy with work that I think she hasn’t had time to just relax for ages, the closest she had to it was going shopping with the two of you and the week before Christmas on Oxford Street is not what you would call relaxing.”

“We had a good time.” Diana smiled, “But it is healthy to spend a few hours apart too, not be stuck on one another. Remember last summer, the furthest you were allowed go when you were here was to the shop with Jack to get some barbeque meat. That is not healthy.”

“Can we not mention the farce that was last summer?” Tom grimaced. “I am trying to pretend I didn’t almost lose my marbles.”

 

“Good plan.” Jack agreed.

*

For the first winter in years, it wasn’t stormy or freezing cold coming into Christmas, it was, however, wet. Danielle cursed herself for not hiring a car for the Christmas, since knew she would never drive the Jag and now with giving time for Tom to spend time with his family, it meant she had to cycle to and from the village, something that would not bother her, had it not been for the rain that seemed to be in extortionate abundance around her.

She knew Tom would be spending time alone with his family, and in truth, she wanted to have some time to herself too, but Emma’s almost demanding it caused her to feel upset, not knowing what to do about it all. When finally she got home, she brought in the bike and looked at the water dripping from it onto the floor, her vision blurred. She liked being alone, she was used to it, she was an only child after all, but she had seldom felt lonely, but at that moment, as she placed her shopping on the table, she felt very much isolated.

Looking at her phone, she noticed there was a missed call from Tom and then a message,

Tom - I hope you are having a lovely day Darling, we are going to be having a few drinks and probably a movie later, come over when you are done, everyone cannot wait to see you. Xxx

Danielle just looked at the text before turning her phone on standby and continuing to unpack her shopping. When she had that finished, she went upstairs and walked into the study room and stared at the bookshelves, inhaling deeply, she decided to reorganise them, she had new plans, and that meant an overhaul, it also meant she could keep her mind of Tom, Emma and the Hiddleston’s in general.

She had been so lost in thought, Danielle never realised her phone was ringing, clicking the answer button, she put it to her ear without checking who it was. “Hello?”

“Hello beautiful, how is your day going?”

“Fine, yours?” she put the phone between her ear and her shoulder and continued putting books on the shelf.

“Wonderful, it is so good to finally have some time alone with my family again.” Danielle froze at those words. “When you are going to town, let me know, I’ll drive you. It’s too wet out.”

“I already went.”

“What?”

“I went already, a couple of hours ago in fact, actually, I need to dry the bike, I completely forgot about it.”

“Why didn’t you ask one of us to drive you in, Elle you must have gotten soaked.”

“It’s fine.”

“Did you have a shower after?”

“No.”

“Elle…” her nostrils flared slightly at his scolding tone. “You should have said something, darling.”

“I needed the air.”

 

“Usually I would agree, but it has been bucketing all day, you cannot do that, you’ll catch your death.”

“You don’t get sick from being out in the wet Tom.”

“You know what I mean, it can’t help.”

“I am actually sort of in the middle of something here, can I call you back later?” she asked, not wanting to talk on the phone any longer, hearing his voice made her lonely for i.

“Sure, when you're done, come over, alright?” Tom had to force himself to control his voice to not show how taken back he was by her cold demeanour.

“Yeah, I just have my head in something here and I want to get it done, I will come over then,” she replied, doing everything she could to not sound so distant. “Have fun with your family, Tom.”

Tom did not get to say anymore before the line went dead, leaving Danielle looking at the device in her hand as the screen faded from ending the call. She simply looked around for a moment before going back to the job at hand.

*

“Is Elle coming for dinner?” Diana asked as she was plating up food for her children and their husbands.

“I’m not sure,” Tom admitted, half forgetting about Elle and her slightly odd behaviour since he knew when she was organising, she became somewhat one-track minded, and having spent an hour playing card games with his niece.

“Well check.” His mother ordered.

Taking out his phone, he realised it was four hours since he had spoken to Elle and pressed the redial button on her number.

“Yes, Tom?” Her voice was distant and echoing as though on loud speaker, the music in the background confirming it, as well as the sound of plates moving around.

“Hey.” He smiled on hearing her voice. “You having a mini concert for yourself there?”

“What do you mean?” she asked, the sound of her sucking on something interrupting her words. “Sorry, burnt my thumb on my lasagna dish there.”

“The music,” He explained, “No worries darling, I was just ringing because mum was asking if you were going to join us for dinner.”

“I already ate, I am just putting the leftovers into different boxes for freezing,” she stated. “I am actually feeling sort of tired, I am going to head to bed early, I will see you tomorrow, alright?”

“Elle, it’s only eight, you were in bed until near midday. Are you okay?”

“Yes, you goof, I’m just trying to catch up on sleep.” she laughed slightly. “But thank you for worrying.”

“Do you want me to come over when I am done here?”

“Tom, spend some time alone with your family. I will still be here tomorrow. I know my bed is comfy, but I am sure your one there will do you tonight.” her tone light. “Will you really miss me that badly for one night?”

“I think I may.” he admitted.

“Well, I won’t lie, that’s a nice thought, you missing me. Goodnight Tom, have a fun evening with your family. I love you.”

“As I do you.” He returned. “Get some good sleep.”

“I will with you not hogging most of the covers.”

“I do not.” he declared indignantly.

“Yes, you do.” she began to laugh, but then it turned to a yawn. “Night Tom.”

“Night, Elle.” he waited for her to hang up and looked at the phone.

“Tom?”

“She had dinner and is catching an early night for herself, she said she will come over tomorrow.” he responded getting up from the table and going to the back door and going outside for a moment, looking over at Danielle’s.

“Hey,” he turned to see Sarah looking at him from the back door, “you okay?”

“Yeah, I just am worried about her.”

“Why, because she is going to bed early and wanted a day to organise herself? You’ve never been one to be stuck to another person.” She looked at him.

“She’s listening to sad songs.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Danielle is a person who shows her emotions to music, she is listening to sad songs, meaning something is bothering her,” Tom explained. “The fact they are sad love songs is making me worry.”

“Are you sure it is not just the radio playing random songs that just so happen to be those?” Sarah challenged. “You said yourself today that she has been pulling twenty hour days trying to get her paperwork done, she is probably exhausted, you cannot recover from that in one sleep in, especially when you did not get here until what time last night?”

Tom nodded, knowing it was true. “You’re right, I just don’t want to overwhelm her, but I really want her to know if there is something she is worried about, she can come to me. I think sometimes that she is scared I will cast her aside if she tells me things. ”

“Well then tomorrow, when you see her, tell her that. Telling your big sister while you stare at her bedroom is not how you deal with this, now get in and get some dinner and stop staring at her window, it’s weird.”

“Yeah.” Tom nodded, sighing loudly, before going back into his mum’s.

On the other side of the fence, in the other house, Danielle placed the lasagna dish to soak and covered the different portions of lasagna and put them in the fridge for the following days before taking her phone off the counter where she had placed it after Tom had called her and walking over to her laptop, x-ing off the youtube page she had been using to play different songs, as she looked around her empty house, where she only had her dog as company, after getting used to Tom’s presence for the two weeks previous, feeling a little lost in herself.

Chapter Text

“Tom?” Diana looked at her son, “Are you alright, Sweetheart?”

Tom forced himself out of his head. “Yeah, I am just thinking about what I need to do today.”

“And what does that include?”

“Get one or two more things, wrap a few presents and see if Danielle wants to go out for a while, you?”

“Well, I saw her walking off a while ago with Mac and her bike, so I think she will be gone for a bit, I have to get a few last bits for the dinner tomorrow, do not tell me you left gifts until the last minute again?”

“Mum, that was three years ago, I was working until the day before Christmas Eve and I don’t know why you are going on about it, I got you that nice perfume you have not stopped wearing since.”

“It is true. What have you gotten Danielle?”

“I got her a surprise.” he replied cryptically.

“Thomas, please tell me you have not waited until last minute to get that girl her present.” His mother half pleaded.

“I haven’t.”

“Thomas…”

“I have most of it.”

“Oh for goodness sake Tom, you are just like your father.”

“Well with the hours she works, how do you know Elle has anything done for me?” He challenged with a cheeky smile.

“Do you honestly think that that pathetic attempt at getting me to tell you what she got you will work?” Diana laughed, causing Tom’s face to fall. “Not going to happen son of mine, and with regards what she got you, she has it gotten with a month.”

“You know what it is?” Tom asked excitedly.

“But of course I do. I am the matriarch of this family, I keep an eye on everything.” his mother smiled.

“What is it?”

“Do you think I would tell you?”

“Is it good?”

“It is exactly something you would love.” she declared, “That is all you are getting, so get your ass in gear and get the rest of hers.”

“Right, I’ll ask Em if she wants to come.” Tom grinned, walking back into the house. Diana nodded in approval as she went about her own business.

*

“What do you think?” Tom asked excitedly as he held up the item in hand.

“It’s a scarf, Tom.” Emma snapped back. “Is that all you are getting her, or am I going to have to endure this for the day.”

 

Tom looked at the scarf for another moment, having checked online to see if it was even available in shops and not from ordering online and was elated when he realised it was for sale near his mother’s. Making the decision to add it to Danielle’s gifts he already got her, he turned and brought it to the till. When he paid, he walked out of the shop and went back to his car without waiting for Emma. With a sour face, Emma got in next to him. “What the hell is your problem Emma, you need to spit it out now since you didn’t have the decency to speak to me or Danielle regarding it before now, instead you just act like a spoilt brat. We get it, it is a little weird for you, but are you actually that spiteful that you would allow yourself to be the reason that not one, but two people you say you care about be unhappy?” he started up the car and revved the engine before driving towards their next stop.

“Neither of you asked me,” she started.

“Why would we, what would we even ask? We are two responsible adults, we can’t ask anyone about how we feel for one another, there is nothing to ask. We wanted to tell you ourselves, same as with mum, but she got to you first, and for that, I really am sorry, that is not the way to find out, but for fuck sake Emma, we are not going to stop loving each other just because you are getting bratty.”

“She was my friend, you had the choice of every woman in the world and you chose her.” Emma shouted at him, tears in her eyes, “It ruined everything, I thought I had one friend that actually cared about me, and was not trying to use me to get to you, and now I can’t even have that.”

“‘Was’? So that’s it, she is cast aside because, in addition to being your best friend, she is not permitted to love me, is that it? Your friends cannot love more than one Hiddleston, there’s a fucking quota because you know how mum feels about her, and how she feels with regards mum, why is that different to her and me?”

“Because one of you will fuck it up, and she will never speak to me again.”

“So, because we are not perfect, cut her loose before she leaves, is that the plan? She adores you Em, she sees you as a sister.”

“Well, then she shouldn’t have even considered you then, should she?”

“She never saw me and Sarah the same way she saw you, she adores you, and you doing this is breaking her heart.”

“Not enough for her to stop it.”

“If you dare ask her to, then you don’t deserve her friendship. No real friend would ever make such an ultimatum.” Tom growled. “And the mere idea you would do that to someone I love sickens me.”

 

“You are with one another a few weeks, it’s not love, Tom.”

Tom pulled in and glared at her. “I do not need to explain myself to you, but here it is, I have been in love with Elle since before your wedding,” Emma stared at him in shock. “It was in the preparations for which, when I was spending more time than I ever had before in her company, I realised she was the most amazing, brilliant and beautiful woman I had ever known and when I saw her in that dress, I, to this day, regret not pulling her aside and kissing her. I love her Emma, and she says she loves me too, and I believe her, so stop being a selfish bitch and ruining everyone's Christmas. As Elle had to say to me not too long ago, get over yourself.” Emma said nothing for a minute, instead she just stared out the window. “And why the fuck do you think this would ever end, much less in a manner that would mean your friendship being in jeopardy?”

“Because you sabotage every relationship you ever had, well the ones before Taylor, that joke doesn’t count. As soon as you get the first hint of trouble, you run, and this time, you cannot, Elle lives next to mum, you can’t avoid her when this is done.”

“I don’t want it to be ‘done’, I love her, I have not loved anyone in years.”

“You loved Susannah.”

“We were young and wanted entirely different things in life, I loved her, but not like I love Elle, we were not compatible.”

Emma scoffed, still looking out the window. “And you think you and Elle are?”

“We’ve spoken about what we want, and yes, they are somewhat similar, I know she prefers the country, yet she knows I need to be near the city, so I will happily move to a leafy suburb if it would make her happy and make the commute into town when needed, we discussed that and she was happy with it,”

“And I can imagine the whole kid's conversation going so smoothly.”

“Two,” She turned to face Tom. “Well, I wanted three, but she doesn’t want more than she has hands to hold, so,” he shrugged.

“You spoke to her about this?”

“Yes, you don’t seem to be getting this Emma, I want to be with her, I want with her what Ben and Sophie have, what you and Sarah both have, I want that, and Elle is the only woman I have looked at and thought that she would be the one I will have that with, that she is who I will be happy with, every time I am with her, I feel so much like how I used to be before all the world was staring, normal, happy. You would have noticed if you bothered to even speak to us, to be around us. I genuinely thought you would be happy for us, she has been so hurt that you have given her the cold shoulder, that you won’t talk to her.”

Emma sighed. “I’m sorry.” Tom looked at her. “I’m sorry I got bratty, are you happy?”

“That is not what you have to apologise for Emma.”

“I am sorry I did not simply voice my upset and went and said what I said.” she clarified, “Better.”

“Yes.” Tom indicated for the car to go back into traffic again. “We care about you Em, we wanted to talk to you about this.”

“Well, hearing from mum wasn’t the best way to find out.” She looked out the window again. “I can’t believe you talked about kids. Danielle never said whether or not she wanted any.”

“What? She doesn’t want kids?”

“I never said she didn’t want any, I said she never made mention of it either way. Oh my God, she could end up marrying you and being my sister-in-law.”

“You’ll be a shoe-in for maid of honour.” Tom joked.

“If that happened, she could end up having your baby.” Emma looked him up and down in disgust.

“Would that be a bad thing?” Tom laughed.

“My best friend, pregnant with my brother’s baby, what do you think?”

 

“Well as said brother, if it were to happen in the future, I would think it would be a very happy thing.”

“It’s weird, Tom.”

“I promise you’d be Godmother.” he smiled.

“Over Sarah?”

“Yep.”

“Fine.” Tom looked over to see Emma looking at him with a big smile on her face, “I’ll apologise to Elle when we get back.”

“She will cry with happiness Emma, she misses you so much, she feels lost without you there.”

“What can I say, I am just that fabulous.”

“When you are not being an annoying little brat, you might just be.” Tom smiled, relieved to be finally able to have Elle and Emma talking again, and in turn, hopefully, lift that dark cloud he had noticed over Elle.

*

Danielle knew she was pushing herself too much, she knew she was going too fast, too deep in the woodland and that she would ache more for it tomorrow, but frustration and hurt built and built, until finally, she was splashing her way through the woodland trail, mud staining her face, arms and legs, and if she could see the back of her cycling jacket, that too.

Emma had asked she have her brother for a time, there was nothing wrong with that, she had had him for a fortnight straight, but the idea of spending Christmas day away from him and everyone else she considered family, hurt; she felt incredibly isolated and alone. She had distant relatives in Ireland, but they were never close, so why would she go to them. Perhaps for a while, she and Tom could go for a walk, she wanted to give him his present, she would only have to wait and see.

She realised then that Mac was not in front of her any longer and turned her head slightly to see if he was behind her, seeing him in the distance, she pulled on the brakes to get the bike to stop, but her peculiar angle caused the bike to skid sideways. Putting her hands out, she fell to the ground with a painful thud, the sound of Mac barking frantically as he rushed over to her and the clouded sky above her the only two things she could focus on as she lay there.

Chapter Text

“There’s no answer from Elle’s.” Emma declared as she came back into her mother’s, “And I don’t think Mac is there either.”

“It’s getting close to darkness, she will have to be home soon.” Diana dismissed.

“Yeah, maybe.” Emma went to Tom’s room and knocked on the door. When he came out, he was only in a towel, his hair dripping wet. “Have you spoken to Elle this afternoon?”

“I haven’t spoken to her since last night,” he rubbed another towel over his face. “Why?”

“She’s not home, and Mac isn’t there.”

“She’s been gone all day?”

“Could she have gone for a drive?”

“Her car is in a garage in London, all the other cars are here, what would she have driven?” He walked into his room and grabbed his phone, going straight to Danielle’s number and pressing the call button.

The number you are calling is not accessible at the moment…

Tom hung up again. “Get mum’s key to Elle's.” He instructed, grabbing a pair of sweatpants, a hoodie, socks and shoes; he threw them on and rushed out his bedroom door and down the stairs. “Em?”

“Have them.” she threw them to him and without waiting, he ran out the door and to Elle’s.

The house showed no signs of life, but he banged on her door anyway, “Elle? Are you home?” he banged a few more times, but again, there was no sign of his girlfriend. He used the key and walked in, the house was silent bar the sound of the antique clock Danielle had brought from her parents home. “Elle?” Tom looked around downstairs. “Mac?”

“Tom?” Emma and Diana came to the door, “anything?” Tom shook his head and darted upstairs. He glanced into Elle’s bedroom to find her clothes readied for when she would come out of the shower on her bed, telling him she had not returned from wherever she had gone on the bike. “She never came home.” He informed them as he came back downstairs. “Where the fuck is she?”

“She would not be cycling still,” Diana became worried. “Try her phone again.”

Tom did as she asked and got the same result, hanging up when the automated answer came on. “I’m going to drive around and see if I can find her,” he stated, his own concern growing. “What colour was the bike, mum?”

“Black and grey.”

Tom paused, “She doesn’t have a black and grey one, she has the green and black and a red and black.” He walked to the back kitchen, and sure enough, both bikes were there. “Shit!” He ran out to the large shed in her garden and noticed the lock on it was open, looking in, he realised the other, lesser used of Danielle’s bikes was not there. He walked back into the house, “She is gone trail biking.”

“And that is what when it’s at home?” Jack asked, having joined his wife and mother-in-law, wondering what was going on.

“She has a mountain bike she likes to use in woodland, on trails.”

“It’s a bit wet for that, isn’t it?” Jack looked outside, the heavy rain the day before had turned to light drizzle, but overall, the ground was still soaked.

“I’m going to see if she is on her way back from it,” Tom declared, running back to his mother’s to get his car keys.

“Where the fuck is she? Why didn’t she tell anyone where she was going?” Jack pondered aloud, beside him, his wife bit her lips together sheepishly.

*

Danielle groaned as she tried to fill in the form in front of her, utterly bemused at the irony of trying to write her name with her suspected broken wrist. Her phone had been water damaged in her fall, and it was by sheer luck another dog walker had decided to investigate a barking dog nearby and came over to her. Thankfully, her arm seemed to take the brunt of the fall, and she had been close enough to a side gate of the woodland, she had made her way to the road easily enough and the kind man had waited with her until an ambulance arrived, to her relief, it was Dave, one of the workers that she had been partnered with when she was with the Emergency services, and he allowed Mac Tíre ride with her, and promised to return him to her house when his shift ended, since hers would be his last callout. “A change of perspective.” he had joked when she sat on the gurney, waiting to arrive at the hospital.

That had been a couple hours ago, she was still waiting to be seen, her wrist hurt and in truth, she just wanted to go home and shower. Her clothes were after drying, but as a result, she was shivering next to a radiator, nowhere near warm enough to heat her. Finally, she was called by a nurse to be assessed and to be given a gurney to wait for a doctor on. She didn’t care if there would be a pissed off orderly that would have to remake the bed, she immediately took the sheets off and wrapped them around her, they were rough and not very thick, but they were better than what she had, so she was happy with that much, it made the following hour and a half easier to bear.

“Your next patient is at the bottom there,” The nurse finally referenced her, so Danielle waited for the doctor. “Here’s her chart.”

“Thank you, I…wait the last one?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

The sound of fast footfalls caught Danielle’s attention. When the curtain pulled back, it took only a moment for her to recognise the man in front of her. “Danni?”

“Hey, Paul.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Well I decided I wanted to do nothing more than check out how the NHS is doing on Christmas Eve, and sure, no better way to do that than falling off a bike.” she smiled as she held up her arm.

“That desperate to see me?” he joked back.

“That obvious?” she grinned. “How are you?”

“Good, well better than you apparently. What happened?” He placed the chart on the bed and gently took the injured arm. “Sore?”

“Tender, I don’t think it is broken, maybe a tiny fracture at most, but I think it is a sprain. A biking accident slipped on mud and fell. So I thought it might need checking out, better to be safe than sorry, though, right?”

“Yes, I’ll get you sent for an x-ray.” Paul agreed, checking her eyes, “Concussion?”

“Nope, I didn’t hit my head, my arm and shoulder took the brunt of the fall.” she replied as she followed his finger.

“How are you in general? How is life?”

“Good, tired, I have never thought I would ever see the end of my paperwork before Christmas,” she laughed then, “Probably a good thing I got it all done before I had this happen.”

“Probably.” Paul agreed.

“What about you? What’s new in your life?”

“I am moving to Surrey soon.”

“That’s nice.”

“Yeah.” his smile did not reach his eyes.

“You’re not happy about it?” she frowned.

“Closer to London, far busier.”

“Was it of your choosing?”

“Sort of.”

“That’s a no then,” Danielle informed him.

“Well it’s the right thing to do,” he commented cryptically. “I will have you brought down right away, and then you can get whoever is here with you to bring you home.”

“I came alone.” he frowned. “I’ll get a taxi.”

“I can’t let you go home alone Danni, you fell off a bike, you don’t have any signs of concussion, but it is too dangerous, it’s not like Mac can call an ambulance if you need it. What about Diana?”

“She is gone to her family for Christmas.” Danielle fibbed. “So what happens now?”

“I’ll have to admit you.”

“Paul…” She pleaded.

“I cannot risk you going home and getting into trouble Danni, I’m sorry, I have to admit you.” He stated sternly.

“I’ll leave.” She threatened.

“Danni, I am begging you, don’t do something stupid.” It was his turn to beg.

“Fine, whatever.” she readjusted the blankets on her, looking at the floor.

“Do you want me to call anyone for you?”

“No one to call,” she stated downtroddenly. “It’s just me and Mac for Christmas.”

Paul looked at her sadly. “I’m sorry.”

“What can you do right?”

“I’ll have an orderly wheel you to X-ray. I’ll check on you after I speak with the radiographer.”

“Thanks.” she gave a pathetic smile. “I am keeping the blankets, by the way.”

“How long have you been in those clothes?”

“Since I fell, about three-ish.”

Paul looked at his watch. “That is six hours ago.”

“Well they’re dry now.” she shrugged. “So let’s get this show on the road.”

“Right,” Paul nodded, though there was concern in his eyes. “I’ll get someone now.”

*

“Mac is in the garden.” Emma declared walking into the kitchen of her mother’s.

“What?” Tom rushed into the room, having checked every side road next to the woodlands for Elle until after dark.

“Mac Tíre is in Elle’s back garden.” His younger sister repeated. Tom rushed out the door to check, sure enough, as soon as he opened the divider between the two houses, the dog barked excitedly at him before going into Diana’s and shaking his wet fur.

“The side gate is closed over,” Tom stated as soon as he came back in. “I need the keys again.” Jack grabbed the keys off the counter and threw them at him and he walked out again rushing to Elle’s door. He rushed in, only to see the house was in darkness with no sign of her having returned, scared, he ran up the stairs three at a time to find the bedroom as she had left it. Mac Tíre may have returned home, but it was clear that Danielle had not.

Chapter Text

“As you suspected, there is only a tiny fracture.” Paul pointed it out to Danielle on the x-ray.

“Treatment?”

“A small brace to take care of it for a couple of weeks, diffene for the swelling and pain and no excessive movement, so no cycling or excessive paperwork.” he smiled looking down at her. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, just depressing my holidays are to be spent with this,” she held up her arm, which had just been put in the restricting brace. “are you sure you can’t let me home?”

“I can’t risk you being concussed and alone. Are you sure I can’t call anyone to let you loose?”

“No.” Danielle sighed sadly. “It’s just me.”

“Danni, I know you probably don’t want to tell me anything too personal but are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” she gave a small smile. “What time are you off?”

“A half hour ago.” He answered, sitting on the side of the bed.

“Then why the fuck are you still here?” she scoffed.

“I will go in a minute, I just said I would wait to give you your results.”

“Thank you, now run.”

“I will in a few, I am waiting for someone.”

“It’s not Charles is it?” she eyed him warily.

Paul shook his head, “No, it’s…” he cleared his throat. “Lucia.”

“Ah, the famous Lucia, I can’t wait to see her.” Paul stared at her. “Well she meets Charles’ approval, I have to admit, I am thinking Grecian Goddess, tall, blonde, angelic, cherubs around her like a halo.” she laughed.

Paul rolled his eyes. “She and I are seeing each other now.”

“Good, I am happy for you.”

“We are getting married in February.”

Danielle frowned at him before she realised the reason for a such rush in their relationship. “How far along is she?” He looked at her, “you are not one to rush in, so…”

“Six weeks.” The grin on his face told her a lot.

“Congratulations, on both fronts,” Danielle smiled genuinely. “I can see you are actually happy.”

“I am, and nervous, terrified and Jesus, I dunno.” he rubbed his hands over his face.

Danielle patted his shoulder. “I can only imagine. But you are happy, and that is all that matters, Is that why you are moving to Surrey?”

“Yes. You know, I was in London not too long ago with her, back in October and I bumped into Diana’s son, he went insane, he thought I was cheating on you.” Danielle smiled. “I genuinely thought he was going to use the fact we were no longer together to try and ask you out. How are Diana and Emma?”

“Good, I think. I haven’t seen them really with work.” Danielle stated truthfully, but her brow furrowed.

Paul looked at her for a moment. “What is it? I know you don’t realise it Danni, but I actually know you enough to know you are upset about something.”

“Please stop asking me that.” she groaned. “I am just not overly happy being in here tonight for nothing.”

“Understandable.” He nodded, deciding not to push too much. “So. that job you’re doing these days, is it what you wanted?”

“It is.” She nodded. “It’s hard, but I like it.”

“Good. I’m glad that much is going well for you.”

“I’m doing well on most fronts.” Danielle smiled. “I mean, I wouldn’t say no to more money in my bank account, but overall, doing pretty good, except, of course, you imprisoning me here.”

“A tad dramatic, Danni,” He chuckled.

“I’m sorry, will you be stuck in here for the day tomorrow…”

“I’m working,” he retorted with a shrug.

“If you had let me finish, I would have added the word unnecessarily. I am fine.”

“Not getting out.” he repeated.

Danielle was about to retort again when she saw a beautiful blonde woman looking around the emergency room, “That has to be Lucia.”

Paul looked at the woman, who immediately recognised him but waved and stayed where she was, so he indicated for her to come forward. “Am I interrupting?” she asked, her accent showing a hint of a continental European country, Danielle guessed the Netherlands.

“No, actually, I was just talking to Danielle while waiting for you. Lucia, this is Danielle Hughes Danielle, this is my fiance, Lucia Hawkins.” Paul introduced.

“I would shake your hand, but mine is on bed rest.” Danielle smiled kindly, “Paul was just singing your praises, and congratulations on your wedding, you must be excited.”

Lucia frowned for a moment before her eye caught the small cuts and bruises that littered Danielle’s arm and then her splinted hand. “Ouch, that looks fun. Yes, we are, it is so overwhelming some days.”

“A week out from it, Sarah and I forced Emma to take a weekend break to a spa, it did her the world of good, demand it off your bridesmaids, they’re obliged to pay too,” she winked.

“I may actually do that.” Lucia smiled, seemingly surprised by Danielle. “Sorry, it is just a little odd.”

“How do you think I feel?” Danielle laughed, “This jerk is forcing me in for the night with suspected concussion.”

“You have no one looking after you,” he argued. “Don’t mind her, she is just pigheaded.” he dismissed, Danielle just glared at him. “I’m just glad you have no food to throw at me.”

“Speaking of which, tell the nurse to feed me on my arrival to my ward, I haven’t eaten since lunch.” she ordered.

“You are exactly as I imagined you would be.” Lucia smiled. “Paul told me of your ambition, you do not achieve such things with a shy demeanour, though more jovial than I had expected.”

Danielle just smirked. “Contrary to some people’s beliefs, I am not a mindless barbarian. Now drag your fiance out of here, no doubt you wish to enjoy Christmas Eve together. Have a great time and congratulations with everything, I truly wish you both the best. I have to say, Paul, I am so happy for you, really, I am. You deserve it.”

“Thank you, Danni, I’m sorry you’re stuck here.”

She simply shrugged. “What can you do? It’s not like I had anywhere else to be.”

“Yeah, honestly I thought after everything, Diana’s son would have said something to you, he seemed so…” Paul paused, looking at the small hint of Danielle’s lips curling up in a small for a moment. “Well, it’s not my business.” he cleared his throat. “Goodnight Danielle, if you are not showing signs tomorrow, they may leave you home.”

“Unlikely, but we can always hope. Safe journey to you both and Merry Christmas.” she waved as they left the emergency room for Paul to sign out and for them to leave. When they left, Danielle lay down on the bed and curled up on herself. She was glad that Paul was getting the life he had wanted, with a woman that clearly had time for him, but seeing them together made her think of what he had said regarding Tom and made her feel lonely again.

*

“Should we call the police?” Sarah asked, looking at her watch, at ten at night, everyone was terrified as to where Danielle was.

“We are not related to her,” Emma commented.

“Mum is her neighbour, you’re her best friend and Tom is her boyfriend, I think it is safe to say that we are the closest thing to a family Danielle has at all, much less here in Britain.” her older sister argued. “Is Tom still over there?”

“He won’t leave. He’s scared she’ll return if he’s not there.” Jack informed them. He was about to say something else when there was a knock at the door, silence filled the room as Sarah rose to her feet and walked to the door. Answering it, she came face to face with a man she did not know. “Can I help you?”

“Is Diana here, by any chance?”

“Mum?” Sarah called behind her.

Emma and Diana rushed to the door, recognising the man, they looked at him in terror. “Why are you here?” Emma demanded.

“I’m sorry, I know this is odd, but I was working this evening, and one of my patients was Danni.”

“Elle is in hospital?” Emma shrieked in shock.

Diana began to breathe deeply “Is she alright?”

“Injured wrist, scratches and bruises, but overall fine, she is being kept in for the night because of suspected concussion.”

“Did she ask you to tell us? That is so good of you Paul.” Diana smiled. “Emma, go to Danielle’s, Tom needs to hear this.” Emma rushed out the door to tell her brother.

“No, actually, she told me you were not home at present,” Paul stated awkwardly.

“Why would she say that?” Sarah asked in bewilderment.

“I am not sure, but she seems somewhat downtrodden, so I said I would check since I recalled you saying, Diana, that you have everyone to yours for Christmas. She is only being kept in because she stated she had no one to return home with, and we could not risk her by herself.”

“But Tom was going to stay over with her tonight, she knew that surely,” Diana commented, shaking her head.

No one got a chance to say anymore before Tom rushed in the door, his face telling of his turmoil in his worry for Danielle, his eyes red and watery, showing he had been crying. “Where is she, is she alright?” He demanded from Paul.

“She is fine, just a small fracture to the wrist,” he answered, shocked by Tom’s reaction, when his face calmed again, that too was noted. “She just cannot be released to be home alone.”

“Why did she not call?”

“I am not sure, she gave the impression there was no one to call.”

“Can I collect her?”

“She needs to be in the care of a very close friend or family, I thought perhaps Diana could…”

“I am close, yes, but surely Tom could bring her home, they are, after all, living together, technically speaking.”

“That’s not strictly true,” Tom argued.

“Girlfriends do not tend to stay over for more than two weeks Tom and not be at least referred to as somewhat cohabiting.” His mother commented.

“If that is true, if you are together, once she confirms it, you can bring her home, she seems convinced her Christmas is doomed to be in hospital,” Paul informed him.

“Get my keys,” Tom ordered, not caring who answered his request. “I’ll have her home in the hour.”

Chapter Text

Danielle curled up in the bed, shivering with only a hospital gown on under her rough hospital blankets, wondering how she went from being excited for Christmas to lying alone in a hospital bed. She thought about the day that was about to come, and how she hoped to wake up next to Tom, him kissing her shoulder as she had become used to in the mornings, and more than likely have a little fun, before they would get washed and dressed, then going to his mother’s for a big hot breakfast and watching as his niece happily showed them the presents she had received from Santa before finally giving him his present, knowing he would more than likely enjoy it, now, all she could look forward to was a bowl of half soggy cereal, in a hospital room, but at least she would not be utterly alone, something she feared at home. She wondered if Tom had tried to call her, or if he bothered, he was getting to see his family again, alone, something she knew he adored and without the cameras of his time there with Taylor, she knew it would be all the better.

“Of course, sir, I will get a doctor to see if that can be done. It’s the third room on the right.”

Danielle was still staring at the wall when the door opened further, not noticing that there was someone after entering the room. “Elle?”

She turned around, somewhat dazed. When she noticed Tom in the doorway, she frowned. “What are you doing here?”

“What am...what the hell are you doing here? Why the fuck didn’t you call me?” he asked, rushing over to her, checking her over for obvious injuries.

“How did you find out I was here?”

“Paul came to mum’s, apparently you told him there was no one to care for you, why the fuck would you say that?” His concern was beginning to turn to anger on seeing she was alright but had not thought it a good idea to let him know what had happened. “Why didn’t you call me? Why is your phone turned off? I have been calling you for hours, I have been worried sick.”

“Why?”

“Why...Elle, what is going on? I had no idea where you were, you have been gone all day, and then Mac turns up at the house, locked into the garden and there was still no sign of you, then Paul arrived at mums and said you were injured, why wouldn’t I be?”

“I didn’t want to annoy you.” she stated sheepishly.

“Annoy...how the fuck is that annoying me?” he shook his head.

“You were enjoying time with your family.”

“Elle, what the hell is going on?”

“I wanted to give you time alone with them, you said it was great to have time alone with them again.” her eyes began to fill with tears and her voice broke a little.

“Elle,” Tom pulled her to him, kissing her head as he did. “A few hours catching up with my sisters does not mean I did not want you there, I spent the most of that time wishing you were. I kept at you to join us.”

“I didn’t want to intrude.”

“Elle, you are part of the family, don't you get that? And not because of me, Mum has had you join us every year since you came over, why did you think this one was different?”

“Emma said to give you space, that she wanted time alone with you, so to back off for a while.”

“Wait, what?” Tom pulled her back to look at her face. “She said what?”

“When you and Sarah went for the walk, she came over and told me that if I cared about her at all, to just back off so you could spend time together, to prove I wasn't like the others that used her to get to you,” she explained. Tom’s eyes widened and his nostrils flared, it startled Danielle when he began to shake slightly. “Tom?”

“I am going to kill her.”

“She is just upset, she wanted time with you.”

“She made you feel like you could not ring me to tell me you were injured and in hospital and that you felt that you couldn’t be around me...is that why you were listening to sad songs and avoiding me?” she didn’t answer. “Get dressed, a doctor is coming to sign you out. I am staying in yours with you, in fact, I am not leaving you out of my sight until we are sure you don’t have a concussion and you are going to be at mums tomorrow, just like every other Christmas, that brat and her false apologies be damned,” he growled.

“She apologised?”

“She can’t have fucking meant it if she told you to stay away.”

“When?”

“What?”

“When did she apologise?”

“Today, earlier.”

“She said those other things yesterday.”

“Which meant she could not have meant what she said today.”

“No, it means that she calmed, that she could have,” Danielle argued.

“Do not defend her, she doesn’t deserve it.” he snarled.

A knock on the door caused them both turn to look, a slightly concerned looking doctor faced them. “Sorry to interrupt.”

“Perfect timing.” Danielle smiled. “Where do I sign?”

“I need to check you over.” the doctor stated, looking warily at Tom.

“Well, I will tell you what I told Doctor Pennycook in A and E said, I am not suffering any clear symptoms of a concussion. I will be apparently chaperoned everywhere,” she gave Tom a small glare but smiled with it. “As for his giving out, it’s nothing to do with me.” Tom frowned. “The doctor is worried that you are a risk to me, that your anger could in some way, be used to harm me, physically or emotionally.” Tom stared between Danielle and the doctor, his hands raised in surrender, his face a mixture of horror and disgust.

“I…” The doctor cleared his throat.

“I am an ex-paramedic, I know exactly what you're worried about.” Danielle smiled knowingly. “He is angry at someone else’s actions and is in no way aggressive, seriously, he lets people cut him off when driving and doesn’t even utter something.”

“I see.” the doctor inhaled deeply and in doing so, his whole demeanour seemed to change and a smile of relief and understanding came to his face. “So, let’s see if we can let you go.”

After a few checks, the doctor confirmed that she could leave, under strict instruction to let her arm heal and a comment about how he loved Tom in the Night Manager. Tom thanked him and turned to Danielle. “Where are your clothes?” She walked over to the bag that was next to the bed. “I’ll give you a hand.” he smiled, helping her to change.

The journey back was peculiar, Tom said nothing as he drove the roads until they were almost there. “You did not tell Paul about us.”

“Is it any of his business?” she asked back, turning her head to look at him.

“Not particularly, but he…”

“Was busy talking about his lovely fiance.” she smiled.

“Fi...it’s been a few months, what fiancee? Isn’t that a tad fast.”

“Well, they need to be married before the baby begins showing.”

“Are you serious?” Tom’s brows raised. “What did you say to that?”

“What else do you say, he wanted a wife and children, now he is getting them, with a woman that seems to really like him, I said congratulations and I wished them both the best.”

“Was that not weird for you?”

“Why would it be, he is a really nice person, but he was never a fit for me, we never clicked, but he seems to have someone now who does, and honestly, I am delighted for him. Though he didn’t seem too happy with moving to Surrey; so that I feel for him on.”

“Is that how you feel about any plans for you to leave Suffolk?” Tom asked.

“No, I am not overly bothered, I only chose Suffolk for work, if I spent more than fifteen minutes outside of your house in London, I would probably have been fairly happy in that area, it seems really nice. If I love anywhere else, I am not overly tied to Suffolk. I just remember him saying he liked that he had been able to return to Suffolk after college, it’s where he’s from,” she explained. “Are you still mad at me?

“Elle,” he was about to take her hand but recalled her injury. “I am not mad at you, well, I am mad that you thought you could not ring me, and that you thought that you should be alone in hospital for Christmas, and not in my arms. Actually, yes, I am sort of mad at you, what were you thinking?”

“I didn’t want to intrude.” she stated, looking at her hands.

“Elle, you do realise I spend every day wondering if I am suffocating you, right?” she looked at him confused. “I am terrified I am going to scare you away, because I know you love your space, and that you are so capable and comofrtable of being in your own company, I worry that me being around you too much is irritating you.”

“You’re not,” he glanced at her for a moment. “I missed being around you the past two days.” He glanced again to see her looking at her lap. “It’s so pathetic,” she wiped a tear from her eye. “I mean, it shouldn't be so hard, to just give you a couple of days with your family, but I actually didn’t sleep last night, at all.” he frowned. “I sat in bed, staring at the ceiling, just wondering why it mattered so much, we have been apart before for work and, yes, I missed you, but all I could think was you were about forty feet away, and that really was so much harder than when you were in Sudan, I mean that is a continent away. ”

“Because there was distnace then, so it seemed like that was a realistic reason for being lonely, last night there was just a few blocks of concrete,” Tom stated, sensing her looking at him as though he was after figuring out some great secret of the universe. “You think that you alone felt lonely, the difference is that I actually said something.” There was a small bite of anger in his voice. “I kept at you to join us.”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you what was bothering me, and for not getting the hospital to ring you. I know I set us back a bit, but I will fix it.”

“You sound so sure of that.” he grumbled, but there was no annoyance in his voice.

“That’s because I know what I got you for Christmas.” when he took a moment to look at her at the traffic lights, she had a small hopeful smile on her face.

“That alone is not going to do it,” he warned. “But considering it’s Christmas and you are injured...a truce, until Boxing Day.” He grinned and raised a brow. As expected, Danielle made a noise at the British name for the day after Christmas day, a pet peeve of hers.

“I’m sorry, Tom.”

“I know, but it really hurts to think you were injured and regardless of Emma’s petty tantrum, you would not tell me.”

“You said you were happy to spend time alone with your family.”

Tom frowned as he processed what she was saying. “What?”

“You said you were happy to have time alone with your family.” she repeated.

“Why do you keep saying that I was glad to be alone with them like that?”

“Because that is what you said, that you were happy to be alone with them.” she snapped back.

“I don’t think I even said the word alone.”

“Yes, you did.” Tom was startled by the fact she almost shouted back at him and used the fact they were at a junction waiting to go into traffic to look at her properly for a moment, the hurt in her eyes telling him that it had occurred, and a throw away comment on his behalf had not merely hurt her, but crushed her. “You said it, and you seemed so happy.” her voice broke as large tears streamed down her fast fast and heavy “so I knew I overstayed my welcome in London, and that you wanted your space, and you were just being polite.” she was sobbing as she spoke, her words being forced through in gasps. “So I just smiled politely, but all I wanted was someone, anyone. I am all alone.”

If there was a break in traffic, or cars behind him using their horns in attempts to get him to move on, Tom, at that moment, was utterly unaware of it. He just looked at Danielle in utter shock, hardly able to process what she was saying, he had no idea that she felt such a way. Not caring that they could be holding up anyone else, Tom released her seat belt and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him. “You know that’s not true, right? You honestly think mum or I would ever let you be truly alone?” He kissed her head. “I think you and I need to talk a little more about what is going on in our heads because we are both seemingly frightened of being overbearing and as a result are actually being unnecessarily ridiculous.”

“No, I’m not.” she muttered back indignantly.

“Elle, you were willing to spend Christmas unnecessarily in a hospital because you thought I didn’t want you around.” he pointed out. “And why do I have a feeling your little adventure earlier was because of it all too.”

“You are so narcissistic.”

“Elle…”

“I was restless.”

“Because you thought no one wanted you?” she did not reply. “Boxing day, you and I are going to have to sit down and talk, no interruptions about what is going on in that beautiful head of yours, because I think behind all the smiling, there is some little voice telling you that you are not worth as much as everyone else around you knows you are, and we are going to have to work on that.” he kissed her again. “But tonight, you need to get some rest, and tomorrow you need to try and be you again, so let’s get you home.” He stated, putting her safety belt back on and turning back to the wheel to get them back to the house.

When they arrived, he pulled into her driveway and as soon as the key was out of the ignition, he rushed out of the car to get her in home. Diana opened Danielle’s front door, showing she had gone there after Tom left and remained there until his return. “Elle.” she walked over to her, noting her upset appearance, she looked to Tom, who gave the faintest shake of his head to tell his mother to say nothing for that moment, taking the hint, she rushed the younger woman inside. “You are like ice!”

“I need a blanket.” Danielle concurred.

“You need a warm shower, come on, no arguments.” Tom insisted, as he half dragged her up the stairs. “Mum, something warm, she should have soup in the freezer,” Diana said nothing and rushed to warm some food. When they got to her room, Tom brought her to her en suite and because stripping her of her clothes. “Can that brace get wet?”

“No.” she looked at it. “It has to come off.”

“What about your arm?”

“It’s a small fracture, I just need to keep it still.” gingerly, she removed the brace and walked to the shower.

“You’re still wearing a bra.” Tom pointed out.

“Doesn’t matter.” the steamy water was almost calling to her. Tom forced her to removed the contraption as swiftly as he could, making comment on the lack of fasteners on it as he did so.

Tom’s brows rose as the water hit her skin and she left out a moan that was almost sinful. As though the water was heating her very soul. “Just stand there heating up, I will be back in a moment.” He instructed, walking out of the bathroom. As quickly as he could, he grabbed some of her fleece nightwear, soft socks and the thickest, warmest towel she owned and returned to the bathroom, having placed everything but the towel on the bed. Unsurprisingly, Danielle had not moved more than a few inches so the rest of her could be warmed by the water. Tom stripped and got in, grabbing her shampoo and using some to wash her hair before rinsing it and going for the conditioner, having studied her actions in his shower before. As the conditioner was allowed work, he lathered her in soap and washed her down, noting that there was actually mud and grass stuck to her in parts, as well as more than a few lacerations from her fall. “My poor little country mouse,” he commented as he looked at her right arm, which was badly bruised and scraped. “We will have to make sure you never go out again without telling someone exactly where you are going, promise?”

“You’d allow me to do it again?”

“I will be freaking out the entire time you are gone, but I can hardly forbid you, you are a fully grown woman, Elle,” he commented. “You just need to be more clued in,” he stated as he gently rinsed her arm, she hissed as he got her to raise her hand to get the soap off. “It is more bruised than anything,” he noted. Danielle simply leant in against his chest, her eyes closed. “Miss me that much?” he chuckled.

“Yes,” she looked up at him. “My bed doesn’t have a smell of you in it.”

“A smell of me, talk about making a man self-conscious.” Tom laughed. “Well, my old bed doesn’t have a smell of you either, and as such, was in no way inviting last night, so let’s get out of here and work on getting more of a smell of me in your bed, shall we?” nodding tiredly, Danielle did as suggested, Tom wrapping her warmly before putting another towel around his waist and bringing her out to her room to get dressed, ensuring to help her dry. “What about your wrist?” he asked, seeing wince as her t-shirt rubbed off it.

“Leave it dry naturally.” she insisted, walking over to the bed.

“You have to eat Elle.”

“I will, in a minute.” she yawned, getting in. “Will you really stay?”

“I have to, I can’t let you be alone.”

“I know, you promised the doctor.”

“No, not because of that Elle,” she frowned at him, “Because you need me to be here now, to show you you’re not alone.”

“I’m sorry I’m needy.”

“You’re not needy, you’re a human being that needs to be around those who love her, same as all the rest of us.” he corrected. “I am going to get your soup, I’ll be right back.”

“Okay.” she curled up, getting comfy, relieved to be warm again.

Tom walked downstairs and went to the kitchen. “How is she?” Diana half demanded.

“Tired, sore and in the strangest place in her head.”

“How so?”

“She thought I didn’t want her, mum, that I wanted her to be twenty feet away and not be near her. She genuinely thought that she was going to be alone for Christmas, that being in a hospital was better than being at home, because at least there, she would have company,” he explained. “What am I doing so wrong that she would think that. I am clearly failing her somehow.”

“Thomas William Hiddleston, you are not failing her, you are just not seeing something.” Diana snapped, getting her son’s undivided attention. “Danielle works like a cart horse, and why does a woman, not yet thirty slave like that? Not for fun, but because she is doing everything in her power to block out the sense of loneliness of being an only child who lost not one, but both her parents in the space of two years. She runs from her loneliness, and now she finally has someone to love again and she felt as though that is too good to be true, because that is what you are darling, and she reacted foolishly. She is human, and from time to time, she will make mistakes;, do not get angry with her Tom for that much Tom, she can;t help it, we all are such ways from time to time.”

“What, I am not angry with her.”

“You say that, but the hurt in your voice says otherwise, you are angry that she felt she could not come to you, and that is understandable, but speak of it tomorrow or the day after, not when she is so tired and worn.”

“I planned on such, after tomorrow.”

“Good.” Diana smiled, “Clear the air, spend some time doing something small together tomorrow, enjoy one another’s company.” She looked out the door. “Where is she?”

“In bed, she is exhausted.”

“Get this into her.” Diana showed him the heated food. “She needs it.”

“I will, thank you mother.”

Diana leant up and kissed his cheek. “Get some rest, we will talk in the morning.” she smiled as she walked out of the kitchen. “Take care of her darling, she is a good one.”

“I know, mum, I figured that one out myself.”

“It took you long enough.” she commented, leaving the house for the night.

As Tom grabbed his phone, he heard a knock on the door, thinking it was his mum after forgetting something, he rushed out, to see Emma standing there. “Yes?” He asked coldly, recalling what Danielle had said.

“Is she alright?”

“She’s fine, she needs to rest.”

“Can I talk to her?”

“No,” Emma frowned. “You can have your little guilt trip a little longer.”

“Tom…”

“You told her to back off, you used her loyalty to your friendship as a ploy to get her to isolate herself. Tomorrow, there will be smiles and laughter, but come Boxing Day, you are going to give Elle the apology she deserves, you have lost any moral high ground you thought you had in this,” he growled. “Now, if you don’t mind, Danielle is cold, hungry and exhausted, so I am going back to bed. Goodnight Emma,” he closed the door in her face and rushed back up the stairs to deal with Danielle.

Chapter Text

Tom sighed as he woke more and more until finally, he was looking around him, groaning as he rubbed his eyes before frowning. Usually, when he and Danielle slept in the same bed, he woke to a face full of brown hair, so when he realised there was none in front of him, he looked down to find her against his shoulder her arm draped onto him, her fingers twitching slightly on his stomach hair as she slept.

Danielle had crashed as soon as she was half force fed the last of her meal the night before, but Tom had not slept for hours after. He thought of her words in the car, how she felt alone and isolated, realising that what his mother had said was true, she did not spend time making too many friends, and the one she had focused on was Emma, who was always jovial and who was never without people around her; instead, Danielle worked and studied, studied and worked. Then he thought of how she had added to her workload of late, wanting more duties, she felt more alone, yet she had him. He was also annoyed that she saw herself an intruder in his family. He did not want that. In his ideal world, Danielle was beside him, his partner, his other half, not an interloper; he needed to sort that, make her understand that. The words she had said regarding London came to him too, he had thought he was overbearing on her in her time there, but she had thought it the other way around, in one respect, he was slightly taken back at how little he had been able to read her, something that being in acting had taught him, but with Danielle, all sense seemed to go out the window, he loved her, and he knew, given the chance, they would last. When she had not told Paul about them, he thought it was because she was still perhaps thinking back to the doctor, or perhaps ashamed of him, but seeing her reaction to Paul and his life changes, he realised it was because she was not the least bit bothered by his life. Thinking back to the summer, and certain articles and comments he had heard, he had to remember for a moment, that though alike in age, there were stark differences in Danielle and other women her age; Danielle was far more mature.

As Danielle's hand moved slightly, Tom realised he needed the bathroom, but when he tried to move, Danielle's faint movements on his lower abdomen suddenly became that of a scared cat, nails almost digging painfully into his flesh. "Elle..."

"No." he looked down to see her brows knitted together, but her eyes still shut.

"Elle, darling, I need you to let go."

"Please, no, Tom, I'm sorry, don't." he stopped trying to get her to release him. "I promise, not again."

"Elle," he shook her lightly. "darling, you need to wake up."

"No."

"Elle, wake up, I am right here, I am not leaving you." Danielle's nose crinkled as she woke, something Tom tried to see every time, he adored the way she looked as she woke when she looked up at him, he smiled. "Merry Christmas, Danielle." he smiled kindly down at her, kissing her. "Did you sleep well?"

"I..." she bit her lips together. "Merry Christmas." she gave a small smile.

"What happened?"

"I dreamt that I rang you, from the hospital, about my arm, and you...well you didn't care." he looked sadly at her. "I know you do, but it felt so real."

Tom pulled her to his chest, her head over his heart. "I would never not care about you, Elle. I love you." he kissed her again. "You're stuck with me now."

"Really?"

"We'll talk about it all properly tomorrow, but I want you to know you are stuck with me now, I am not leaving you." he smiled. "Except for now, because I want to go to the bathroom," he stated, slowly moving out of the bed, smiling at her as she grinned up at him. "I will return."

"Promise?"

"I swear it."

"Good, the bed doesn't smell enough of you yet."

"Well now," he leant down and kissed her. "That just will not do."

"Indeed it will not." She leant up and kissed him. "Go to the bathroom before I drag you back in."

"That sounds enticing."

"Get to the bathroom, city mouse." she grinned.

"You know the city mouse and country mouse could not adapt to the other's life."

"Does that worry you?"

"It does not worry you?"

"No, I am incredibly adaptable. I should be called Darwin." she smiled, looking at him happily as he walked to the bathroom. As soon as the door closed over, she rolled over to the bedside locker on the side of the bed Tom had commandeered and looked for something.

"What are you doing?" She heard his voice from behind her a few moments later.

"Nothing, go back into the bathroom." she giggled.

"Now I am very intrigued." he grinned, walking over to the bed and getting on where she had been sleeping.

"No, go away."

"Elle?"

"What?"

"Is that, by any chance, my present?"

She did not answer for a moment. "Maybe."

As soon as she closed the door of the locker, he pulled her back to him. "It was right next to me all along? you are devious. What is it?"

"I got you this, and one other thing, but I wanted to give this to you first." she smiled, handing him and envelope.

"I have your presents in mums," he stated, looking at the manila envelope. "Maybe I should wait until later to open this." he looked longingly at it.

Danielle extended her hand with the present in it. "It's sort of a weird thing, but I thought you would want it, you deserve it, it is for the few days after the Golden Globes, for when you come home carrying that big award." she smiled.

Frowning, Tom took the envelope and looked at her for a moment as he opened it. when he read the letter inside, he looked at her again. "Elle, this is ridiculous." he pushed it back towards her. "I cannot take this from you, darling."

"Yes, you can." she smiled. "Please." She pushed it back to him. "A spa weekend in a country house, loosen you up again after everything."

"This...you must have spent..."

"Don't mention money, please Tom, I wanted to get you this, you deserve it." she smiled, playing with his hair.

"It's a weekend away?"

"Yes."

"You’ve paid for the room, right?"

"Obviously."

"So, perhaps you should join me."

Danielle chewed her lip for a moment. "Perhaps I should." She grinned in the end.

"And if we are spotted?" He asked.

"Then I guess I better wear something that makes me look taller, slimmer and prettier."

"Elle," Tom warned.

"I'm thinking a six foot or more, auburn haired English gentleman should do the trick, happen to know if Ben is free that weekend? AH TOM!" she erupted in giggles as Tom tickled her. "I'm joking."

"I am going to get you back for that." he grinned cheekily, biting his lip as he realised her top had ridden up as he had been tickling her, leaving the underneath of her breasts in his line of sight. "You are so sexy."

"Tom." her voice was a gasp, but she pulled him up for a kiss, leaning up as he held himself above her, preventing himself from hurting her many scratches and bruises.

"I don't want to hurt you." he whispered against her lips.

"Then I suggest we go back to day one." she grinned, pushing him to the side slightly so he would fall to the bed and straddle him. "Now this is a Christmas morning." she grinned as she leant down to kiss him.

*

When Diana saw Danielle walk into her sitting room sheepishly, the older woman dropped the wrapping paper she had tidied up to the floor and rushed over to her. "Don't you dare go out again without telling people, do you hear me?" she stated with tears flowing from her eyes, her arms immediately going around Danielle's neck.

"I promise," Danielle stated as she hugged her back. "I'm sorry I scared you all, and I am sorry I did not call from the hospital, though my phone was broken by the fall."

"I'll get you my old one, it's in my room. Yakov got me a new one for Christmas." Sarah stated as she came over and hugged Danielle as well, "You gave everyone a heart attack."

"I know, Tom told me. I'm sorry."

"Well, whatever caused that, don't you dare ever do that again." she warned.

As though it was some form of divine intervention, Emma came into Danielle's view after that, Danielle froze as she stared at the other woman. "So," Tom immediately intervened, giving Emma a warning glance. "Who gets what?" He held the bag of presents he had brought for her, refusing to allow her to carry it with her arm.

"Yes." she rushed back to him. "Everyone's names are on them." She smiled, taking different gifts that Tom handed her and giving them to everyone. When she held the last one, she looked over to Emma, wary of approaching her, but she forced herself forward and held out the box for her to take. Emma stared at her as though shocked Danielle would even consider such a thing as getting her a gift, but sheepishly, she too extended her hands and took it. "I had to assume you didn't half starve yourself like the director wanted you to," she stated with a small smile and walked back over to Tom, who said nothing but placed his arm around her. "Shouldn't you go get yours?" She whispered.

"After they open yours, by the way, where is the Duchess?" Tom looked around, noting the severe lack of a niece.

"She is in your room, she has commandeered it," Sarah informed him.

"Wait, I've been kicked out?" Tom looked around indignantly. "You spawn and I get kicked out of my room, how is that fair?"

"You spend way too much time with me," Danielle sniggered at Tom saying 'spawn' her usual way of jesting at people having children. "I have a present for her too, is she up there now?"

"Yes, she got a kindle for Christmas so, since Tom's over at yours, she has decided that is her space now and is loading every book she can find for free onto it," Yakov stated.

"Are you sure they're free?" Diana asked worriedly. Sarah and Yakov both looked at one another for a moment before bolting to ensure their daughter had not racked up a couple hundred pounds in books.

"I am going to get my presents for everyone." Tom kissed the side of Danielle's head, "If you feel dizzy..."

"Dress in drag and do a hula?" she grinned back sarcastically.

"You are a woman, it wouldn't be drag."

"True, saw the DVD over there and it was the first thing I thought of, though I never understood the drag part when I first saw it, but then again, I was only seven." She smiled. "Go get that, I'll help your mum and get breakfast, I can smell the food from here."

"Get in there so and give me a hand, I bet you had barely anything yesterday."

"The hospital only gave me a ham sandwich, seriously the NHS is screwed," Danielle stated as she left the room, Diana's arm around her as they made their way to the kitchen.

"What?" Tom had not left the room yet to get his presents, knowing there was something Emma wanted to say to him. "What is it?"

"She got me this."

"Of course she did, unlike you, she actually considers you her friend, her best friend, so she scoured high and low for that, in the end, she had to get someone she knows in Germany to get it and get it couriered over." He growled back. "I bet you got her nothing." Emma bit her lips together. "Of course not, you aren't exactly putting yourself in a good light here Emma." He turned and walked away.

Emma inhaled deeply as Jack rubbed her shoulders. "It'll be alright," He kissed the side of her head. Emma said nothing, knowing that had Jack heard what she said to Danielle, he would not be so sure.

"Stop eating it like that," Diana slapped Danielle's hand lightly as she threw another grape into her mouth while they cooked. "Three slices of toast, a rasher and what is that; the sixth grape, you will give yourself a stomach ache."

"But I am starving." Danielle moaned as she eyed the already cooked sausages.

"Then put them on a plate and eat them, good lord child, you are almost as bad as Thomas today."

"Hey, I'm not that bad." Danielle held up a part of the crust of the bread and was about to toss it at Diana when she turned and silently dared her to, Danielle just threw it into her mouth immediately. "I..."

"Don't speak with food in your mouth, you think I don't know what you are up to missy." Diana grinned, showing Danielle she was only jesting before the smile became smaller, but her eyes filled with something else. "I am so glad whatever silliness you thought over the past few days is gone, I have missed you so much, sweetheart."

"I'm sorry I left," she stated back, looking at the towel she was after using to clean her hands. "I'm sorry I didn't come straight back."

"Don't say that love, look at how happy you are, you and Tom, you cannot apologise for that." Diana smiled, cupping Danielle's face in her hands. "I am so glad it is you," Danielle frowned. "Of all the women, I cannot tell you how relieved I am that it is you that Tom has finally noticed."

"Was that your plan all along?" Danielle asked.

"Not all along, the past two years, I have been a little...encouraging."

"Diana Hiddleston, you are terrible. Is that two of your three children you have interfered in the love lives of?"

"I would have worked on Sarah too if she and Yakov had been here, and it is technically four since I have considered you part of the family for so long."

"That makes things sound a little weird then, considering me and Tom."

"Oh no sweetheart, it makes it better, because who knows, in the future perhaps you will be a proper Hiddleston.”

“Mum!” Tom happened to walk in on the last part of the conversation. “Seriously, are you trying to get her to run away, do not talk like that.” He warned.

“Don’t tell me mum is trying to impose marriage already.” Sarah asked, coming to the kitchen door, “No mum, you scare people with that.”

“It didn’t scare Jack and Yakov.”

“We were dating them for nearly a year beforehand, Tom and Elle are only together a couple of months.”

“They know each other longer, though.”

“We are going to get nowhere with you, come on Elle, you need to get your presents from everyone.”

“After food, seriously, I would endure hell to eat right now, I am starved.” She grabbed the food and gave a plate load to Tom too. “Are you okay?” She looked at him worriedly as he looked at her with a peculiar look on his face.

“Yes, I...you are eating a big breakfast.” he smiled, his eyes showing his delight.

“Seriously, how did you date Taylor, I can’t imagine you being happy as she eats like two lettuce leaves and a glass of ‘low-fat’ water.” Danielle joked. “I’m hungry, and I am going to eat all of this, and anything you leave behind, so eat fast Hiddles.” she grinned following Tom back to the living room.

“Oh my God, are these real?” Sarah asked, having finally opened her presents. “Mum, Tom got me those earrings.” She jumped up and down happily.

“Good call on that,” Tom whispered into Danielle’s ear.

“I know right, aren’t you glad I texted you to tell you what she wanted?”

“Elated.” he grinned back. Diana smiled at her son, knowing that he had Danielle get her to distract her older daughter while Danielle got them on his behalf. “Have you opened Elles?”

“No, I’m about to, what...AH!” Sarah ran over to Elle, “Thank you so much.”

“For what part?” Danielle laughed as Sarah hugged her.

“Both!”

“Both?” Tom asked.

“There is a convention on in Manchester next month, it will have some guy that Sarah did part of her degree on talking, so I got her tickets, and put in a little letter saying that I would mind the Duchess so she and Yakov can both go.”

“I see, well, what date is it, perhaps we can mind said Duchess here or in London?”

“You’ll be working on Early Man.”

“During the day, not in the evenings, it won’t be a twenty-four seven job.” he smiled. “Sarah, we’ll collect her and you can make a whole weekend of it.” Tom smiled.

Sarah made a squeaking noise and hugged her brother. “You don’t mind?”

“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t.” Tom smiled. “She’ll have a great time, we'll bring her to the zoo, get her some ice-cream, and now, so will the both of you.”

“You’re the best Tom.” she smiled, going to find her daughter to tell her that Tom and Danielle would be taking her for a weekend.

“We can handle this, can’t we?” Tom asked, a hint of concern in his voice.

Before Danielle could answer, there was a shriek of delight before the sound of feet on the stairs and a chant of “thank you, thank you, thank you” before Tom was effectively assaulted by his niece leaping into his arms.

“We can.” she smiled, as she was then dragged into a hug by the excited child. “Hopefully.”

Chapter Text

"What are we going to do?" Sarah and Diana stood staring at the food that needed to be cooked. "I should not have changed the cooker." Diana rubbed her hands over her face.

"We'll throw as much as we can on and just wait for that to cook and throw on the easier to cook food later," Sarah suggested.

"I just ruined Christmas dinner." Diana declared slapping her hands over her legs.

"What's going on?" Tom came into the kitchen to return his and Danielle's plates.

"Mum got a new cooker."

"Riiiight?" Tom failed to see the reason why that would cause such stresses.

"It's a lot smaller than the last one, it can't cook everything at once."

"Does it need to?"

Sarah shook her head in disbelief at her brother. "No, we'll have the dinner in drips and drabs, of course, we need to Tom," the second half of the sentence was snapped out at him.

"Yeah, the food usually needs to be done around the same time for one meal." Danielle gently touched Tom's arm as she joined the frustrated group. "Now, if only we had another cooker."

"Not helping," Tom whispered to her.

Danielle smiled fondly at him. "Actually, we have a second one." Tom looked around as though expecting it to suddenly appear in front of them. "If only we had a house, right next door, with full cooking capacities and the key to it, and oh, I don't know, the owner." she grinned.

Diana and Sarah looked at one another for a moment before the pair began laughing, Diana hiding her face in her hands. "Well now, I feel foolish."

"How did we not think of that?" Sarah laughed next to her.

"I was going to go get Mac anyway, let's get everything sorted." Danielle smiled, walking over the table to get a few things.

"Your hand." Tom chastised, grabbing the bowl of potato and sausage stuffing she was about to take hold of.

"It is a fracture, I can still move it, see." She wriggled her fingers.

"Don't, you were told to rest, so all you're allowed do is come over and sort the different knobs."He declared, Danielle mumbled to herself, Tom picked up the words, complaining and earlier in the morning. "Elle!" She looked at him innocently, his eyes flicking to his mother and sister, who, to his relief, were not paying attention to them but to the different foods that would be needed to be cooked, dividing them up between the two cookers. Danielle just winked cheekily back at him.

"Elle, sweetheart, could you get Emma to come in here, we need to bring over the last of it?" Diana asked.

Danielle paused for a moment before nodding, "Sure, one sec." she walked into the hall and listened to see if she could hear Emma anywhere, but all she heard were the two brother-in-laws talking in the living room. Knocking gently, she looked around the door. "Where's Emma, Diana wants her help?"

"She's upstairs, I'll get her." Jack went to get off the seat.

"Don't worry yourself, I'll go." She smiled. "You two stay here and talk about your fabulous women." she joked.

"You laugh, but wait and see, if Diana, and indeed Tom have their way, you will be in this position soon," Yakov commented.

"And what position is that?" Danielle asked fearfully.

"In-laws."

"Jesus, you're all at it today." Danielle dismissed.

"She started already?" Jack laughed, looking at his watch, "You're not even here an hour."

"I am half expecting her to say she booked a place for a reception later if she keeps going like this." She laughed before heading out the door again and to the stairs. She never was uncomfortable in Diana's home, her closeness to the family never made her feel as though she was not welcome there, but as she walked along the upstairs hallway to Emma's room, a place she had been more times than she could give an approximate figure to, she felt nervous. Inhaling deeply she held her breath and knocked on the door.

"Come in." Emma turned, her eyes widening slightly when she realised who it was.

"Diana and Sarah need help bringing food over to mine, the oven your mum got is too small so we have to divide the food, so they asked for you to give us a hand," she explained plainly. "It looks really good on you, by the way," she stated, referring to the jacket she had gotten Emma. "Fits well?"

"Perfectly." Emma's voice was small in return.

Nodding slightly, Danielle gave a small smile. "Good. Well, whenever you're ready." she went to walk out.

"Elle?" Danielle stopped and looked around. "Thank you, for the jacket." again, Danielle nodded but said nothing else. "I'm sorry I was a bitch."

"I'm sorry we didn't get to tell you properly." Danielle returned, only looking at Emma for a moment.

"I wish we could go back, and I didn't say those things."

"I get it, I do. I became worse than any of the users."

"No Elle, you didn't, you liked me for me, you just so happened to like Tom too. You never planned to try and get to him through me, I knew that; I just...I didn't want to share him, or you, you were my friend, you know, we were the two that stood back and laughed at the girls that fawned over him, but then...the things we said...."

"I became the fame hungry sad act we laughed at."

"But you're not fame hungry..."

"Fuck no, but let's face it, to the world, when they find out, I will be. The truth doesn't matter to some of those people."

"It matters to Tom and us, though, I mean, I know I didn't act like it, and I know that I am the reason you backed away and got hurt," Emma began to cry, "And I am really sorry Elle, I just got angry and jealous and I wanted to show you how I felt like I had been hurt, but I wasn't really, not when Paul told us you were in hospital, and you wouldn't say Tom was waiting for you, and I know that is because I used your value of our friendship to force you away and when I saw Tom crying and distraught because we didn't know where you were, and I was so worried and I thought you were really hurt and I knew then I wasn't angry, I just was scared that things would go wrong and I would lose my best friend if you guys broke up and I know I was selfish and I should never have said those things to you."

Danielle just looked at the youngest Hiddleston for a few moments, considering her words. "Being away from Tom, forcing myself to stay away from him for no good reason really hurt Emma, and you just said that he was crying and frantic when I could not be found, remember that; that is how much we care for one another; but being away from you, being pushed away by the only real friend I thought I had, that really hurt me, I know you felt betrayed, and I totally respect that, but I love you, you are the sister I always wanted, you actually understand that though I act like I have my shit together, I really haven't a fucking clue what I am doing most of the time," Emma laughed as she wiped away her tears. "That's our thing, trying to wing it through shit-storms and then bitching our heart out at the moaners and begrudgers, by moaning and begrudging." Emma smiled widely again. "It really hurt Em, I felt like I got punched right in the gut. I hope you can forgive me for making you feel like I betrayed you, I never meant for any of this to happen. I know you cannot understand it, since he is just a dorky brother to you, but I love Tom, I love how behind the TV persona, behind all the silly fan girls, he is still the guy I met here five years ago, a little bit more mature, and in some ways, publically colder, but he is still Tom."

"Yeah, I know, he's still an idiot." she begrudgingly stated. "I just didn't want to lose you."

"So you pushed me away? How does that work exactly?"

Emma shrugged. "I have no idea, I'll let you know if I figure it out."

"Do." Danielle nodded. "Until then, help with the food." she indicated for the door.

"Do I look like crap?" Emma asked, checking her eyes in a mirror.

"Fuck no, you're wearing that jacket, you look awesome." Danielle retorted sassily.

"Bitch." Emma laughed, walking to the door. "I can't believe you broke your arm."

"I can't believe Paul turned up here to tattle on me."

"He's a nice guy."

"Well, Mr Nice guy is off to Surrey."

"That's nice, a promotion?"

"Yep, he went from dumped boyfriend to soon to be husband and dad."

Emma paused on the stairs. "Wait, what?"

"Paul is getting married to this girl Lucia, who is really nice actually, and they are having a baby."

"Wait, you met his future wife?"

"Yeah."

"That is crazy." Emma shook her head.

"Not really, he was my doctor, she came in to see him, introductions and explanations and goodbyes and good lucks, simples really."

They made their way to the kitchen to assist with the food but realised that everything had been brought to Elle's. They went through the gate and into her house, where sure enough, Tom and the others had started putting everything where needed. "Frying pan?" Sarah asked, looking around confused.

"The press over the oven." Tom instructed, "And the lids are in the one under. When he spotted the two women standing in the doorway, he looked warily between them.

"The oven is always about ten degrees off, so be careful," Elle warned walking over into the madness. "And don't forget that the front left hob does not work at all."

"You need to get a new cooker," Sarah commented.

"No point really, not often I need four hobs going with only one person here," Danielle replied. "And nowadays I am never really here. Although..." Her nose scrunched up as she thought to herself. "I guess I am here for a few weeks now."

"What? Why?" Tom half demanded, "I thought you said you were to start on that set after Christmas."

"I was, but," She held up her arm. "This is not allowed. A safety officer has to not have any physical injuries on set, it is too dangerous since they are not able to check everything. I better get the hospital to send my the details for the insurance and send on the documentation to the studio." she sighed.

"So wait, now you are without work?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah, until it heals, it's a fracture, so should be only six to eight weeks, Nothing major." she dismissed. "I guess I can start working on a new project I was planning."

"What about money, though?" Tom asked in concerned.

"That's the thing, thank you, Taylor Swift." Everyone just stared at her. "You didn't tell them?"

Tom shook his head. "Tell us what?" Diana asked worriedly.

"Taylor came to London a few weeks ago, remember?" Diana nodded. "She came to London to shoot a video and made sure Danielle was forced to work on said music video."

The Hiddleston women all looked over to Danielle. "Well, long story short, I got in a few insults and got paid pretty well for my work, actually, that afternoon was worth over ten grand after tax, so I am okay to take a few weeks to let myself recover. I wanted to start something new, further my CV so this will mean I can condense it all into a few weeks and get it all done." she smiled. "Winning."

*

"Hey, Darling?" Tom came into Danielle's kitchen, having sent his sisters and mother away because he wanted some time alone with Danielle.

"Just making sure the pudding has enough water around it," she answered, as soon as she was satisfied, she turned to face him. "Yes?"

"I have a present for you." He smiled. "Actually a few."

"A few?" she asked with a raised brow.

"Yes, little things I noticed you liked or I thought you would like since I saw them and thought of you," he explained. "Here." He held out a bag, which much to the relief of Danielle, as not altogether too big.

"Thank you, but promise me you didn't go too mad."

"I promise, nothing there came to over a hundred pounds." she smiled. "By itself."

"Tom!"

"Your spa weekend cost a few hundred, don't even try to argue."

"Yes, but as I am apparently going with you, that is not exactly too mad."

"Well, I thought of you when I looked at these, so I am not going to apologise for spoiling you." he stated as he gave her a kiss.

"Fine, I will reserve anger until I see what I am dealing with." she grinned, placing the bag on the table. Reaching in, she recognised the first thing she touched as a book. Pulling it out she smiled as she read the cover. "I love it, I have been trying to get this, but it is only available online." She placed the autobiography on the table and reached into the bag again.

"I found it in the States, I remember you playing her songs on youtube since the beginning." Tom smiled.

"Yes." She beamed, realising he had bothered to pay attention to her when she rambled about the American dancing violinist.

"See what else is there." He smiled excitedly, hoping she would react as well to her other presents. Happily, Danielle reached into the bag and removed the next gift. "Did you walk in and buy these?" She smiled looking at the product in her hands.

"I did."

"Glitter bath bombs, Tom Hiddleston walked into Lush and bought Glitter bath bombs" she giggled. "How is this not all over social media?"

"I am not sure, but I know you like them, so I got you a few, perhaps you should have a bath with one later."

"I would, but I am hoping to snuggle up with my sexy boyfriend and watch a film."

"Hmm, sound cosy, I think he might just be interested," Tom grinned, wrapping his arms around her. "Next present."

"How many more are there?" She asked worriedly.

"Three," he bit his lower lip as he smiled.

Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she reached into the bag and began to pull out something warm and soft. "Oh my God, I love it."

Tom chuckled. "You don't even know what it is."

"A scarf; and I am putting it on now."

"We're inside and your heating is on."

"Don't care, still wearing it, I...is that an Eevee?"

"I have no idea what it is, but I saw a stuffed toy like it on your shelf and you said to Emma before it was your good luck charm since you were a teen so..."

"Eevee is a Pokémon, you bought me a Pokémon scarf." she smiled, kissing his affectionately on the lips. "I love you so much."

"Because of a scarf?"

"Because everything here proves you actually pay attention to little details, little things I make comment about in passing," she explained, kissing him again. He gave her an expectant look. "What has you so awkward? You seem half scared."

"I put something in there, and I am hoping you will react well to it, but I am nervous you won't." He admitted.

The smile on Danielle's face fell and she looked back at the bag. "Tom..."

"Just keep going." He encouraged. "Please."

Worriedly, Danielle reached into the bag and took out a small box, she frowned as she looked at it, realising immediately that it was from a jeweller. "Tom..."

"I said I did not spend too much and I mean it." He stated.

Nervously, she unwrapped it, taking into consideration its size, she knew what she could be dealing with. Glancing at him for a moment, she noticed an excited twinkle in Tom's eye, so she knew that it would not be something that would cause an argument, with that in mind, she held her breath and opened it. When she saw the necklace inside, she gasped out the breath, her eyes filled with tears and her injured hand went over her mouth. "how...?"

"The photo you have of your mum, she has this, doesn't she?" Danielle nodded silently. "You said once to my mum, that you loved it, but it was her favourite, and you and your dad thought it best to make sure she was wearing it when she was laid to rest."

"Dad wanted me to take it. He knew I always loved it, I wanted it, I used to steal it and wear it to school some days, but I always put it back before she came home from the practice. But he told me after that she knew, she realised I would take it, and never said anything, because she knew I loved it." she choked out between tears. "I wanted to take it, but it felt wrong, it just...I couldn't let her go without it. She..." Tom hugged her into him. "Thank you, Tom."

"It's only a silver necklace."

"It may only be a silver necklace to you, cheap and unimportant, but not to me." she held it to her chest. "Never."

Tom tucked some hair behind her ear. "It is not unimportant to me, I know what it means to you. It is not her one, it probably isn't even exactly the same, but I saw it, and I knew, I knew it was close, I just hoped it was close enough."

"It is, It really is so perfect, it's exactly like it, I thought it was it for a moment." she kissed him again. "I'm sorry I'm crying."

"I'm not, I am happy I can make you smile." Tom kissed her back. "Do you want me to put it on you?" She nodded as Tom took the trinket from its box and gently opened the clasp, before putting it around her neck and tying it once more. He said nothing as Danielle looked down at the necklace, the intricate knotting of the metal on the piece. "Did your father give it to her?"

"The day she told him she was pregnant with me apparently," She smiled. "She told him, and he went away, and mam thought it was because he wasn't interested in having a baby, you know, country Irish men were a tad emotionally constipated then, still probably are, and babies were seen as a nuisance, but an hour later, he came back, and he had a box in his hand, probably a lot like the one you had and gave it to her. Why do you ask?"

"It's a Celtic love knot, I was informed, so I had to guess."

"It can only be given between lovers and symbolises eternity because it has no distinguishable beginning or end. That's why I couldn't take mam's, it belonged between her and dad."

"They were married what?"

"Thirty-seven years, I was an absolute surprise, they'd been married over a decade before I was born, no miscarriages or anything, just nothing, then boom, me. Dad said the day she found out she was pregnant, they had no idea what to do, I was something they had given up all hope of every having."

"Thirty-seven years, that is incredible." Tom smiled fondly.

"You know what the worst thing I ever remember them arguing about was?" Tom looked at her expectantly. "The kitchen," He frowned. "They got a fitted kitchen put in, but dad was at work when the guys came to fit it, and mam was busy sorting paperwork for the bookkeeper and she wasn't paying proper attention and they fitted a blue kitchen and not the green my father had paid for. And they argued not that it was wrong but that it was the better colour to begin with and why hadn't they seen it before and who as to blame for that." she laughed. "I mean they had a stinking row over it, and it was just so weird." shaking her head, she laughed more.

Tom chuckled. "Did they argue much?"

"Not in front of me anyway, the usual, but that's why dad didn't last long after mum, they were soulmates, they belonged together, dad's death didn't hurt as much, not because I didn't love him, Jesus I was always terrified no man would ever match up to him, but because he and mam would be together again. They wouldn't want to be without each other."

"I wish my parents had been like that." He stated solemnly.

"But then you wouldn't be you, would you? Their divorce moulded you, you used acting as your escape, and it gave you a depth others don't reach. That scene in War Horse, Loki's anguish, even Adam's melancholy, all born of your experiences." She pointed out. "I wish you knew the feeling of a happy two parent home environment, but I think it moulded you into the man you are."

"Do you think we could last thirty-seven years?" He asked curiously.

"Why, you planning on bowing out at seventy-two?"

"Longer then?"

"Yeah, I think we could." she smiled fondly. "We try, that's the part that matters, the day we aren't bothered to try is the day we'll fail."

"One last present." Tom reached into the bag, taking out a gift that was similar in size to the necklace box. He looked at it for a moment and thought to himself. "I am so scared to give you this, but I feel that after everything, your time in my place, your admission to wanting to be around me more, I feel like this is a step forward for us, though I know I said I need to talk more on this tomorrow with you, but with the way you're talking to me here, saying you can see us making it, I have to give this to you. I won't take offence if you say it's too soon."

Terrified, Danielle took the box and eyed Tom carefully, his anxiety radiating off him. Before she opened it, she shook it slightly, suspecting that it was not another necklace inside. it was hard and banged against the sides. Still unsure, she opened it, as soon as she saw the metal object, she looked up at Tom. "Are you...?"

"I know it is quite early on, I mean, I get that, but work is in London for you now, you said that already, and your projects are all there for the next few months, so it makes sense. I will be going to promote Kong and Ragnarok but in general, I hope to spend time at home more, I want to, with you. You will have your own space, you can even do something with one of the spare rooms to make it a sanctuary if you want, I will respect that, I don't want to overcrowd you. I am not saying get this place on the market, but since you need to be in London for work at the moment as it is..."

"And Mac?"

"Mac is part of the package Elle, there is no you without Mac, I know that."

Danielle looked at the object for another moment. "Yes."

"Yes?" Tom repeated in disbelief.

"Yes, I will move in with you." She confirmed, smiling as she did so.

Tom crashed his lips to hers. "Down the line, we'll look into the leafy suburb house." He promised. "So, did I do well?"

Danielle laughed. "I suppose." She jested.

Chapter Text

"Elle, I need your opinion on something," Sarah called over.

"Will you ever just be honest, I know that tone you are using. What you are really saying is 'Elle, I want to say something incredibly bitchy, but haven't the balls to do it myself, so I am hoping you will do it for me'." Danielle laughed as she came over. "Right, what is it?"

"Listen to this." Sarah handed her headphones, while she, Emma and Jack waited, seemingly with baited breath. After Danielle put them on, Sarah pressed play and no one said anything.

"I like the backing music and singers, but your man is no great shakes," Danielle stated as she listened to the song. "God, it's shit."

"It's the title song for the new Fifty Shades movie," Sarah informed her.

"Well, at least they're honest, starting with a shit song for a shit movie, I..." She froze for a moment before taking off the headphones, wincing. "Who is that attempting to sing?"

"Zayn," Jack informed her.

"Huh?"

"Guy from One Direction," Emma explained further.

"One of them was Irish, wasn't he?" Danielle tried to recall. "Well, like, he's still Irish, obviously, never mind. Someone send this guy some help, they seem to have crushed his balls. Is that part of the movie?"

"Put on the headphones again." Sarah laughed.

Warily, Danielle did as she was told. "Right, so some generic chick now."

"Opinion?"

"I am not sure she's actually good or is it after crushed balls she sounds good, no wait, she's shit too." she looked around at the grinning faces as she took off the headphones. "It's Taylor, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Sarah admitted.

"I knew it, it's genius, have some fella get a crushed bollix so for once, she actually sounds mediocre as opposed to all out shite. You've to give it to her, she knows how to work it."

"You are evil," Jack shook his head.

"Are you saying you actually like her music? I mean, whatever you're into but, you know, you may need to get a doc to check your oestrogen levels if whiny 'I can't get anyone to put up with me' songs is your thing." Danielle stuck tongue out through her teeth as she smiled at him, knowing she was irking him.

"You are such a bitch." Sarah laughed.

"This is known," Danielle shrugged. "Where's Tom?"

"He, Yakov and the Duchess are out bringing Mac for a small walk," Emma stated. "Speaking of which, why is she 'the Duchess' now?"

"Because she acts like one, she stole Tom's room." Sarah rolled her eyes. "It actually suits her."

"I shall take credit, as per usual." Danielle beamed. "Your mam is in mine, isn't she?"

"Yeah, getting up the pudding and stuffing," Sarah stated. "I better call Yakov and tell them that the dinner is nearly ready."

"I better go get the rest of Tom's present." Danielle walked out of the room and to her home.

"Are you two alright again?" Sarah asked her younger sister as she unlocked her phone to call her husband.

"I think so."

"What did she get you?"

"That jacket I couldn't find anywhere that sold out on fashion week." Emma swallowed, readying herself for what she knew was coming.

"And what did you get her?" Emma did not respond, instead, she looked guiltily at the floor. "Are you serious, you got her nothing? What did you get Tom?"

"A new suitcase."

"Wait, you got our brother, the same brother who declined a huge film because they weren't going to give him time to go to your wedding a fucking suitcase and your supposed best friend you got nothing for?" Sarah growled angrily. "What the fuck, Em?" Emma said nothing and meekly left the room. Sarah stated at Jack for a moment. "You knew about this?"

"No, I just asked if she got everything she needed for Christmas and she said yes." He sighed. "I didn't realise she had done this."

"This has to stop, seriously, I know Danielle is not the sort to care about presents, but that is a slap in the face to anyone." Sarah declared.

"Look, they are clearly sorting things out, so I am not going to say anything," her brother-in-law stated. "This got blown out of proportion, yes, but I am there for Emma, no matter what."

"We all are, but we cannot condone her being like this either. Danielle is the only decent woman Tom has looked at as a long-term partner since he first stepped out on a Hollywood red carpet, and I am not letting some spoiled brat ruin that for him, or for this family."

"Tom nearly caused a lot of issues last summer." Jack reminded her.

"Tom was in a desperate place last summer, we all thought he was losing his mind, especially when he brought home the fucking Prom Princess and threw my daughter in front of camera's like a show dog, but he has copped on, all because of Elle, and she cares for him, not his money, not his name, him and that is what matters here. She was there for my daughter, she defended my daughter, listened to her woes when she would not open up to me, and as a mother, I will never forget that. And if you and Emma have kids, there front and centre to protect them from any of this bullshit, will be Elle. Tell me I am wrong."

Jack barely took a moment to respond. "Even if we tell her not to, she will be."

"She cares for this family, she sees it as her own, she was always part of it and now, with Tom, even more so. When this all hits the newsstands, she will need us, and we have to be there for her."

"They are going to try to tear her apart." Jack shook his head.

"She's too normal for them." The pair turned to see Emma in the doorway of the room again. "She's not Hollywood pretty, Hollywood skinny, Hollywood rich, she's too normal, they will want to cause her to break."

"Is that what you want?" Sarah asked her younger sister.

Emma shook her head, tears in her eyes. "Never."

"Then cop on and make sure you make her see you are her friend because you are acting like you are going to be leading the charge against her. If anyone ever found out, they would run that story before we even sat to dinner." Sarah ordered. "That she used you to get to Tom and tore the Hiddleston family apart, that is what it would say, and your behaviour would act as the confirmation. It could not be further from the truth, but trust me, I have seen the cesspit that is the journalistic world and to get ahead, they will try and make destruction, and the summer and subsequent bullshit with Taylor just confirmed that lower than some normal journalists are the paparazzi ones; we make sure that doesn't happen, agreed?" Her sister and brother-in-law nodded their agreement.

*

"Uncle Tommy?"

"Yes, darling?" He looked around, watching as his niece held onto the fur on Mac's neck, the dog slowing his pace to keep in step with her.

"Are there going to be cameras around again?"

"I really hope not."

"Oh." There was more than a hint of disappointment in her tone.

Her father and uncle looked at her. "Why, do you want there to be?" Tom asked.

"Well, before, with Tyler."

"Taylor." her father corrected.

"Yeah, her, they were here and all wanting to take photo's of you and her, but not with Ellie."

"Well, Elle doesn't like camera's."

"No, Aunty Emma gives out that she never likes them, she has to force Elle to take photo's with her."

"Why would you want to have Elle in front of a camera?" Tom asked.

"Because I like her and you do and you are always smiling now, and that is what you should take photo's of; except yesterday, what happened to her yesterday?"

"She fell off her bike and hurt her hand."

"Was she wearing her helmet?"

"She was, and that is why her head is okay," Tom stated. "See why your mum and dad get you to wear yours?" The child nodded enthusiastically at him.

"Ellie would be mad if I didn't."

"Elle would lose her life if she thought you were going to get hurt." Tom agreed.

"Are you and Ellie getting married like Emma and Jack?"

Yakov simply laughed. "That is officially everyone making comments about that topic in the past two days, I think you are under some pressure, Tom."

"I am not even thinking of anything like that at present. Poor Elle would run like a racehorse in the opposite direction." Tom shook his head. "Not yet sweetheart, perhaps in the future, I am not able to say now."

"I'd be the flower girl again like with Aunty Emma's though, won't I?"

"It's good to see her staking her claim in early." Yakov laughed.

*

Tom brought Mac back to Danielle's as his brother-in-law and niece went into his mothers, walking into her kitchen, he was somewhat startled to find Elle there. "Hey."

"Hi." She was facing the window, looking out on the garden.

"What are you doing over here by yourself, has Emma said something?"

"She said a sincere sorry and explained herself," Danielle informed him. "But no, that's not why I'm here."

"Is everything alright?"

"Yeah, I just came to get something and got sidetracked by birds."

"Birds?"

"Yeah, look." She indicated to the garden, where sure enough, due to the few bird feeders Danielle had placed out there, there were several birds foraging for food. "I forgot how nice it is to have some around."

"Well, how about we get a few feeders for London and put them in the back garden?" Tom suggested, kissing her neck.

"I actually would really love that, you don't mind?"

"Elle, it's a few bird feeders, not a six-story extension." Tom chuckled.

"You forget how many pretty colours they are."

Tom looked at her for a moment. "How strong of a painkiller are you on?" She nudged his ribs with an elbow.

"Stop it, I just miss seeing little animals, they are just so nice and calming to look at."

"Do we have these sorts of birds in London?" Tom had never really paid proper attention to such a thing before.

"Yes, of course." Danielle laughed. "It's not exactly a million miles away, though, I'd say they are tougher, like the Underground mice."

"Underground mice?" Tom looked at her with concern. "Are you sure you are not after taking too many tablets at once?"

"No, I have not. Wait, you never noticed the mice?"

"Mice, on the Underground? No, I cannot say I have, what do they do, take the Northern line to Camden to the street markets, hop on the Central to get to St Paul's?"

Danielle giggled. "No, they scuttle around on the platforms, usually black with dirt from the trains and look for tidbits of food. How have you not noticed them?"

"How have you?" He retorted.

Danielle merely shrugged. "I just love watching them all."

"Did you ever want to be a vet?"

"Yeah, sort of; I wanted to take dad's practise for a bit when I was in school, but I never excelled in Chemistry and that is a requirement for Veterinary in Ireland." She explained. "I know my weaknesses, so I just decided to enjoy animals instead."

"They really are therapeutic to watch actually," Tom noted as he too became somewhat transfixed on the birds too.

"The Great Tit over there is a bollix, watch how he is bullying them all." She pointed out.

"I'm sorry, the what? That's actually a real thing?"

Danielle rolled her eyes. "Yes, there is actually a bird called a Great Tit."

"I thought that was just a joke. How do you know it's male?"

"Boys are bright coloured to attract females, didn't you speak at a thing to commemorate Richard Attenborough, haven't you watched any of his brother's documentaries?"

"Only a few."

"Shame, shame." she joked. Tom just chuckled back. "I got you something, by the way. The other part of your present."

"It's not new shoes?" Tom asked warily, "I was given a new jacket from Sarah with the comment, 'For a change'."

Danielle laughed, "Well..." She handed him a small bag, somewhat perturbed, Tom took one look at the content. On seeing what it was he gave her a scowl, to which she grinned proudly back.

"Really?"He asked holding it up.

"Could be worse, could be an 'I Heart DH' tank top, or what else do they call them, 'wife-beaters', but I thought to myself that you lost enough dignity with that crap earlier in the year." She laughed. Tom looked at the t-shirt in his hands and nodded, knowing there was actually some truth in that statement. "It's actually sort of funny." He grinned, looking at the t-shirt which had a picture of a pencil saying 2B, then an 'R' a picture of a knot and another pencil saying 2B.

"Glad you like it." She smiled, kissing his cheek and walking off. Tom frowned for a moment, looking at the t-shirt as he did. A few moments later Danielle came back into the room and began to laugh. "You poor thing, you honestly thought that was the second half of your present." she got out between fits of giggles. "You are so cute." Tom gave a bemused grunt in return. "Here." she smiled, handing him a small bag.

"So this isn't the present?"

"No, you twit. I just did that to get a funny reaction from you." She laughed. "Open your real one."

Tom opened the bag, took out the little box inside and frowned. "I..."

Danielle grinned. "I took time off from paperwork a few days ago to get a fresh coffee and you were on the phone ranting to someone about how hard can it be to find one decent pair of cufflinks to match your burgundy suit, that you searched everywhere." She smiled. "So, due to no designer having one to match, because of the shirt, you were going to have to try and scrap the idea to wear it, but you were effectively dying to wear, so I thought if I got something that would match it, you would be happy, since you like it."

"I....I was not ranting."

"You were being your version of it, you don't rant like others do." She grinned. "I know it's not as nice as anything you got me, but I wanted to get you something that actually had a use, they are personalised" She smiled, showing the engravings of 'TWH' on them. "And there is one last thing." she reached into the bag and took out a little envelope in the bottom of it, handing it to him.

"Is this another spa weekend?"

"Nope."

He took it and opened it, as his eyes skimmed the lines and he processed the words, his brow raised, "Really?"

"Yep."

"That's absolutely wonderful, exactly what I wanted." Tom beamed, folding over the piece of paper again. "And thank you for the wonder cufflinks, I am so delighted with them. You are too good."

"I know, I know." She laughed in false modesty.

"So, when do I get to see the item that this receipt is for?" He asked cheekily.

"Well, it was going to be tonight, but considering," She looked at her wrist. "It's sort of hard to pull off sexy underwear when you are wearing this."

"Well, I mean, your left hand is still functional..." He grinned.

"Tom!" She laughed. "Incorrigible."

"Oh, darling, that is nothing new." He gripped her ass as he leant down to kiss her again. "I am dying to eat you up."

"Okay, throw some cold water on this, right now," Sarah ordered as she walked into the room. "Dinner is ready, so come on Elle."

"What about me?" Tom asked indignantly.

"You need to make sure you can walk into a room with our mother and my daughter present before you consider coming back over." She made minor hand gestures to him without looking at specific areas. "And the best way to do that is to remove the eye-candy."

"I have too many strong women in my life, I'll never catch a break." Tom shook his head, embarrassed by his sister's comments.

"Nope." Both women responded simultaneously before they looked at one another and laughed, then left the room. Tom followed after grumbling to himself.

*

"I am stuffed." Jack declared as they finally finished the pudding. "Where are Elle and Tom?"

"Commandeered by the Duchess to watch a DVD I think," Yakov answered. "Elle got her Zootopia for Christmas, so she is demanding that Elle stay with her and watch it, and Tom seemed interested in joining them."

"I haven't seen that it's up for a load of awards so it has to be good." Emma grabbed the last of her wine and rushed to the sitting room before she missed anything. "Ooh, it's just starting."

Diana looked at the washing up for a moment. "I'll help you with that later mum, come on." Sarah smiled, knowing what her mother was thinking. With a nod, the two women grabbed their own drinks and followed.

"I think we are watching Zootopia." Yakov chuckled, grabbing his drink.

"It would appear so." Jack agreed.

The sitting room was considerably packed with seven adults and a child, but on seeing they were being joined by the rest of the family, Tom got up from where he was sitting and went to Danielle, taking her out of the armchair she was sitting in before sitting down himself and pulling her down on top of him. The pair getting comfortable again immediately. Diana was the only adult to get any bit of comfort as the others found different ways to fit in the room, Sarah instructed her daughter to get her beanbag from her room to relax on the floor with. In five minutes, everyone was watching the movie and relaxing.

"She's unconscious." Yakov pointed to his daughter at the end of the movie.

"Since half an hour in," Tom informed him.

"So why did we still watch this?"

"Because it's good." His wife stated. "Get her up to bed."

"It's only half eight."

"She had the house up at six, I think it is safe to say she is tired." Emma reminded her brother-in-law.

"Tom." Yakov requested. Danielle got to her feet to let Tom off the chair. Between the pair, they gently were able to manoeuvre her into her father's arms and upstairs to bed.

"What about her pj's?" Tom asked as Yakov put her into Tom's old bed since Tom had said she could take the room while he stayed in Elle's.

"She'll wake then, we'll just take off her shoes and she will be comfortable, that's all we have to worry about." He stated, doing as he said and placing the covers on his daughter. "Do you honestly not mind taking her for the conference?" He inquired when they had left the room.

"Danielle was going to mind her here, but in London, there is so much for her to do. She will have a great time, and regarding suggesting it, I wouldn't do so if I did not want to see her. I barely get any time with anyone these days, I have to take what I can get."

"You will be a good father, someday."

"Just someday?" Tom asked, slightly hurt at Yakov's words.

"You spoil her too much, wait and see, my daughter will be sugar filled and spoiled the entire time at your house."

"Elle won't allow that."

"Look me in the eye and tell me you will not sneak her some sweets when Danielle is not looking because I know you enough to know you will. Sarah told me of that time in your cousins where you stole the entire cake."

"Sarah saw nothing, snitch." He growled, not liking that his sister was still reminding him of his childish messing.

"Who's a snitch?" Danielle asked as the two men reentered the sitting room, the three other women gone.

"Sarah."

"Older siblings, I hear that's a trait of them alright." She smiled, getting out of the chair.

"Where are mum and the girls?" Tom asked.

"Kitchen, doing dishes."

"And you're in here?"

"I was booted out because I kept trying to help. I have a fracture, not an amputation," She declared indignantly.

Tom chuckled and kissed the side of her head. "I'll give out to them for you, shall I?"

"You, give out to your mam? I need to watch this." she walked passed him into the kitchen.

"Out you get, you are not to be trusted," Sarah ordered.

"See what I mean," She turned to Tom. "I'm not wanted."

"You keep trying to use your hand," Sarah stated in defence.

"Well, if she is not wanted, we are going to bow out," Tom stated his arm around Danielle's waist. She looked at him offended. "She is still not caught up on sleep and is recovering from injury, so I am taking her home." He pulled her to the door.

"You are trying to get out of your portion of the cleaning up." Emma pointed out.

"Yep, and this is the perfect excuse," Tom grinned.

"You are on duty tomorrow so," Diana ordered before something caught her eye. "Elle..."

Danielle figured out what caught her eye. "Tom found it and got it for me for Christmas." She beamed, pulling the necklace out properly to show her. "Just like mam's."

"It's perfect." Diana smiled, noting the happiness in both her son and his girlfriend's features. "What else did he get you?"

"A book I have been searching high and low for, bath bombs, and a gorgeous scarf."

"What did you think of Elle's presents?"Sarah smiled.

"You are not stealing my spa weekend." Tom declared, having been warned by Danielle of what Sarah had said.

"Well use it so," Sarah warned. "Did you give him the t-shirt?"

Elle began to laugh, "He honestly thought that was a proper present. It was so funny, he looked so dejected."

"Poor Tom." Sarah laughed. "And the cufflinks?"

"Perfect," He grinned.

"Who would have guessed I had such good taste?" Danielle grinned.

"Anyone that has seen that hidden section of your wardrobe knows you have taste, you actually just need to wear something other than jeans and hoodies for fifteen minutes to see it." Emma joked, flicking sud bubbles at her.

"You make that sound so dodgy, I don't have a hidden section in my wardrobe, it is just towards the back."

"Narnia is closer than those clothes, I said it a thousand times, you need to wear them more, they are really nice on you."

"I don't like dresses, you know that." Danielle dismissed. "Anyway, I am going to bed, I am seriously tired," She walked over to Diana and hugged her tightly. "Thank you for dinner, and letting me invade your home for another Christmas."

Diana swatted her arm gently. "Stop it, you know I could never leave you over there by yourself at the best of times, this year even less so. I think Tom would have boycotted dinner if I did, not that I ever could." She cupped the younger woman's face in her hands. "You mean so much to us, darling; all of us."

"Thank you." Danielle smiled and when she turned to Tom again her brow furrowed. He and Sarah seemed to be silently discussing something with facial expressions.

"Is there something you two wish to share with the rest of the room?" Diana asked in a motherly scolding manner.

"Sarah knew about something I had planned to ask Danielle over Christmas and was wondering if I chickened out," Tom explained. "Elle never mentioned it, so Sarah thought it had been either shot down or not asked, the answer is neither." Danielle looked at him curiously. "The key."

"Oh, right."

"Key?"

"I asked Danielle to stay with me in London rather than a hotel while she is working there for the next few months," Tom explained.

"So, wait, now you're moving in together? After what, three months?" Emma asked in disbelief. "You're kidding, right?"

"Emma!" Sarah snapped.

"Tom doesn't live with people, he gets pissy after a week sharing this house, his home with others, much less someone from outside it."

"Well, we lasted nearly three before this and no issue," Tom interjected, Emma stared at him, confused. "Elle has been in my house in London for the past what, two and a half weeks, and we are staying together here too, and there has been no issue, we are actually very comfortable around one another, so I asked her to bring Mac and stay with me in London." He took a step forward, his anger rising. "If you actually meant any of your apology, then you would be happy about this, Elle will be a forty minute Tube journey away from you, meaning you could actually meet up more."

Emma swallowed hard. "Em," She turned to face her friend. "I know you're still not comfortable about all of this, but..."

"It's not my business." Emma declared. "I, um...I need to go to the bathroom, excuse me," she walked out of the room without a backwards glance, causing everyone to say nothing for a moment.

"I think it a good idea." Diana smiled, as though nothing had occurred. "Sensible, and who knows, if there is one woman in the world that can train Tom in the art of a washing machine, it's you," Diana stated to Elle.

"Wait, you still can't use your washing machine, how have you been washing your clothes?" She asked him.

"Dry cleaners," Tom stated as though very obvious.

"Well, that's about to change." Danielle declared, much to Tom's concern. "Come on, before I get annoyed enough at that little tidbit of information to do a lesson here and now about it. Good night."

"We'll see you both tomorrow, good night." Diana smiled, watching as they went through the two gardens to Danielle's.

Tom left the door open long enough for Mac to come back in after going to the bathroom before closing and locking the door and following Danielle upstairs. On reaching her bedroom, he noticed her sitting on the bed and staring at something in her hands. "Do you regret it?" He suspected what it was she was looking at.

Danielle placed the key on her nightstand and took off her clothes and got into bed, Tom following suit. "Can I ask you something?"

"Anything."

"This necklace, did you only get it because it was like my mothers?"

"I don't follow."

"When the store clerk told you it was a Celtic love knot, you researched it, didn't you?" Tom nodded. "It that make you feel odd or anything, getting me something with such a meaning?"

"It was odd, sure."

"Not exactly a word I wanted to hear you say."

Elle, I want this to work, and it is not going to if I am always overbearing."

"Tom..."

"When he explained it to me, he told me what it meant, and I thought to myself that yes, I now want to get this for you for two reasons, happy?" He asked, slightly flustered at having admitted that. "I knew your parents were married a long time, and I hoped getting you that would perhaps be a good omen for us and this relationship." Danielle looked at him, her face emotionless. "Is that the sort of answer you were looking for?" He waited, somewhat fearfully, for her answer.

Danielle remained silent for another moment before leaning over and kissing him chastely. "I love you, Tom." She declared quietly before kissing him again more passionately. Tom, for his part, kissed her back, before pulling her against him.

Chapter Text

When Danielle woke, she groaned slightly; her head was spinning and all she could think about was how much everything seemed to be hurting. She gently removed herself from Tom's arms and rushed to the door, choosing to go to the main bathroom and not her en suite one. Keeping as quiet as she could, she ran to the toilet bowl and vomited violently, after several minutes, she finally finished dry-heaving and realised she had a splitting headache to go with her nausea. Grabbing the towel from its rack, she placed it on the tiled floor and lay her head on it, her breathing slowing again now that she did not feel like her blood was on fire.

Tom's brows furrowed as he felt the sheets next to him for Danielle, only to find them empty, forcing himself to awaken more, he turned on the light next to him and looked around. There was no light from the en suite, the door of which was slightly ajar and the sheets next to him were cold and...as he felt them, he realised they were damp, as was the pillow. Concerned, he rose to his feet and grabbed his boxers, which were still beside the bed from the night before and rubbed his hand over his face to help wake himself, the cold chill of the winter night caused him to shiver slightly and he then realised the bedroom door was opened slightly, so he walked into the hallway. "Elle?" He called as he opened the door, noticing the light beaming out from under the main bathroom door, he walked over and knocked. "Elle?"

"Tom," Tom's heart felt as though it was about to explode in his chest when he heard how faint and pathetic her voice was. "Tom."

He pushed open the door and winced slightly. The stench of sweat and vomit were the first things to hit him, but when he saw Danielle covered in sweat and shivering on the cold tiled floor, he forgot the foul smells and knelt down to her. "Elle."

"I think I'm sick."

Tom looking at her for a moment before he chuckled, "I think you might be." he agreed. "Why didn't you call me?"

"I didn't want to disturb you."

"You are the silliest woman." he shook his head. He reached down to pull her into his arms and walk her back to bed. "How long have you been here?" He asked worriedly, realising just how cold she was.

"I woke at about one."

"Elle, it is four thirty, you have been here for over three hours on a cold floor, what were you thinking?" He snapped worriedly.

"I'm sorry."

Danielle's response was so feeble and meek, Tom felt guilty for even sounding clipped. "I know, I'm sorry if I sound mad, I just don't want you to be getting more sick." He stroked her hair and scooped her into his arms.

"No, I smell." Her attempts to wriggle out of his grip were laughable.

"I know, because you are sick and I am going to bring you back to bed and you are going to get some medication and we will have you right as rain again soon." he promised as he walked through the hallway and back to her room.

"But the bed."

"Elle, the sheets are already damp because of you."

"I'm surprised you are not trying to take credit for that." Tom chuckled at her words. "I'm sorry I ruined Christmas."

"Elle, you did not..."

"I went into hospital Christmas Eve, I made Emma mad again Christmas day, and I am sick on Stephens' Day." She listed.

"You had a fall, Emma is being a brat and you cannot help whatever this is, what is it anyway? I am not sick, so I don't think it is food related."

"I don't know," Danielle groaned, curling into a ball as soon as she was placed in the bed.

Tom went to retrieve some paracetamol and ibuprofen she kept in the bathroom. "Which ones?"

"Only the panadol, you can't mix ibuprofen with diffene," she explained. Tom fed her the painkillers and got in beside her, using his body heat to warm her. "I am so run down." She moaned.

"Could you be...?" Tom asked warily.

"Could I be what?"

"Pregnant?"

Danielle froze for a moment. "I could, but I don't think so." She dismissed.

"We have sex, a lot, and I don't think in the time we've been together, you've..."

"Bled? No, I don't on the bar. It is the reason I am on it, if I wasn't, you'd know, trust me. As for pregnancy, it's the best thing on the market and I don't feel like my boobs are sore or bigger, nor do I feel bloated, I don't think it's anything like that, so I don't think you have to worry."

"It's not that I am worried, it's just..."

"Too soon?" She answered. "If Emma thought us spending the next few months seeing if we can go without strangling one another was bad," she laughed. "I think it is just being run down, not enough sleep, food and fresh air, my body is telling me to behave and look after myself." She dismissed as she began to warm up again. "Don't worry."

"Well get some more sleep, and I mean it, wake me if you feel ill again, alright?"

"I promise," Danielle swore, falling back asleep, her body warming as she did.

A few hours later, it was actually Danielle that was first to wake, and bar a small twinge in her temple, felt as though she was well rested, if not tender-stomached and hungry. Tom was snoring ever so slightly in his sleep, causing her to grin and look at him before slipping out from under the covers, and even with the heating having warmed the house, she shivered for a moment as she made her way to the bathroom and took a diffene for her wrist, knowing it would help her head too. Feeling crap from her night, she decided to just throw on the shower and begin the day feeling fresh. As soon as the steam began to come out of the shower head, she jumped in, moaning as the warm water hit her, making her feel almost human again. She was in there a few moments when she remembered she was wearing the brace and took it off, popping it on the radiator in hopes of getting it to get dried once more.

She was barely in there a few minutes when a shadow came into view. "Are you joining me?" She grinned.

Tom opened the shower door, naked and smiled at her. "Feeling better?"

"Stupid migraines, I haven't had one with vomiting in years, that wasn't fun."

"I can well imagine." He stepped in and closed the door behind him, sighing contently as the warm water hit him too. "I am glad you feel better, but you are going to have to start talking to me when you are sick."

"I know." She gave an apologetic smile. "I will."

"You say that, but you said so after your fall too, why won't you trust me?"

"I do trust you."

"Then why is this something you fight so ardently?"

"Because you're Tom Hiddleston and can have any woman you want and I am just a no one, frumpy, short and boring, seeing me sick is not going to make me any more attractive and when I am injured, I am not the strong sort of woman you like." She explained.

Tom stared at her for a moment, in truth, he thought she had to be joking, but her sheepish demeanour told him that she genuinely thought herself beneath him. "Elle, we all get sick, everyone does, the sexiest person alive gets sick and no one can pull off sick as sexy, and as for you not being strong, you came over here, alone, and made the life you wanted for yourself, you refuse to take shit from anyone, including the biggest brat to ever hit the music industry and you got her to back down from you, not the other way around and you think yourself weak, you are terrifyingly strong." He declared. "I am terrified you want someone stronger than me, someone who can deal with things better than I can."

"You deal with everything so well, you don't ever seem phased."

"I shit myself all the time, interviews, auditions, hell even if I see a camera pointing at me or a fan walking over to me in the street, because I have no idea what is going to happen and I can't control it, but you, you take control, Taylor Fucking Swift came up to you and you dismissed her as a talentless nobody whose opinion was irrelevant, think about that, she had the gumption to state she was not complicit in any of that song of its lyrics, then was caught lying on camera and still held her head high as though she was not caught out and you had her scuttling off like a beetle. You are terrifying and fiery and I am so often terrified I am not good enough for you."

Danielle gave a small grin, "Well, yeah, when you say it like that I sound badass." She let the water fall on her face for a moment before wiping it off again and looking at him. "How about we have breakfast and have that talk?"

"I think we need to." he agreed. "But before we go any further, this is not to end things, not to destroy what we're building, right?"

"I want to talk about everything, not just the random statement about two to three kids and a house in a suburb, a proper conversation on it all."

"Well, any boy is going to Eton, that's a must, and don't let Benedict say that Harrow is better because that is bullshit, I will tell you that now." He stated, causing Danielle to smile before she reached for her shampoo.

*

"So, sitting room or in here?" Danielle looked at Tom as she placed the last of their dishes on the side of the sink to drain. "To talk." She looked at him slightly apprehensively. "You seemed so sure about it a short while ago."

"I was hoping we could go out and do it." Tom frowned at her. "Walk Mac and talk. I feel like I haven't walked my own dog is a couple of weeks and after being cooped up all yesterday and for ages before Christmas, I want some fresh air."

"What if someone spots us?"

"We'll go to the woods, if there is someone there, they deserve to get photos. We don't have to." she backtracked.

"You...you want to risk being seen?" There was a glint of excited hope in his voice.

"I want to be with you, Tom, I don't particularly like the idea that someday, I will be on a tabloid comparing me to Taylor and being viciously attacked for existing by random people online, but yes, I want to be with you in public, well, start the process anyway." She smiled.

"I'll get Mac's lead," Tom stated, rushing off with a large goofy grin on his face. Smiling, Danielle dried her hands and retrieved her jacket. "We'll take the car out since you were ill this morning; actually, should we call the hospital, you did have the fall, are they related?"

"I don't think so, I think it was just an exhaustion migraine."

"Maybe we should anyway..."

"Tom, if I feel ill again, I will fully consent to you bringing me to the hospital, but I feel fine, so please, let's just go." She stated.

"Fine, I need a cover for the back seat, I cannot imagine Mac is going to be overly clean after our walk."

"In the press where his lead is, there are plastic backed blankets just for him." She instructed. "Here."

"No, you're injured, I have them," Tom went and got what was needed. "I am going to get some old clothes so I don't care if I get ruined, you get yourself and Mac ready." He instructed.

"Yes, sir." Danielle gave a small military salute and giggled. "Tell your mam where we are going too, she would go mad if the day after she warns me to be good, I run off and ignore her."

"She'd appreciate that." Tom nodded. "Off with you." He walked over to his mothers, his Jaguar still outside Danielle's door from collecting her from the hospital two days previous, when he entered his mother's, he chuckled slightly. His niece had apparently not forgotten she only say half of the movie and forced them all to watch it again, much to her father's chagrin. "Elle and I are walking Mac in the woods, we'll be back in about two hours." He informed them.

"The two of you?" Sarah smiled.

"Yes, we need to talk about a few things, and Mac needs a walk, so it makes sense to sort it all together."

"Is everything alright?" Diana asked worriedly.

"Great, we just want to talk about some things in general mum, nothing to worry about," Tom promised. "She just wanted me to tell you we were going because she knows after the last day, you would be worried."

Diana gave an uncertain smile, "Thank you, darling."

Giving his mother a kiss on the cheek, he ran upstairs and got what he needed before he ran down again, with his car keys in hand and ran out to his car, where Mac and Danielle were waiting patiently. "Ready?"

"We are." Her smile filled him with confidence that they would easily be able to talk through everything and achieve whatever they needed to.

There was very little said between the house and the woods, both thinking over everything they had to say, Mac Tíre happily lying on the back seat looking at the world going by. They parked up at the gate that Danielle had waited for an ambulance at. "Where is your bike, by the way?"

"It got badly damaged in the fall," She sighed. "The guy that found me works for the park, he said they will scrap it, it's all it's good for now." She explained as they got out and locked the car. "Will this be alright here?" She pointed to the car.

"How many are going to try and rob the only Jag I have ever seen around here?" Tom chuckled. "It is fine." They walked in a little, Mac off the lead so he could sniff around, but Tom kept his lead ready in case they needed it. "Where do we start?"

"Well, we could do a loop and come back here, but you have to makes sure on the fourth crossroads you take a right."

"I meant in this conversation, Elle."

"I know, I was just trying to not be the one to start it," she explained. "Right, so I guess we start with what we want from this. Both of us aren't in this for some fun I take it, this is a serious, wanting to try and start a life together relationship."

"Aiming towards marriage and kids down the road in a few years if it works," Tom stated.

"So that's a start. I am not overly bothered on marriage, I mean if I get married, great, but to me, it is a piece of paper, it is not as important as people make it out to be." She explained.

"You still feel like that?" Tom asked, remembering her saying something to Emma a few years previous on the matter.

"I want a proper happy relationship, a piece of paper does not dictate your happiness in a relationship." She explained further. "If in a few years, you and I are still doing this, and marriage seems like a good step, I would happily do so, but it is not a requirement for me is what I am saying."

"Alright, and kids?"

"Nice, but again, not a requirement. I have plans I want to get done first." She explained. "You?"

"I don't want to have children in the same position as I was in, I want it to be done properly, two parents, happy together."

"Is that part of the reason you discuss my parents, you think I have the background that would make it more likely to happen?"

"I never thought of anything like that, consciously anyway, but it could be that; I cannot say what my subconscious thinking, but in truth, no I had not thought of that," Tom answered honestly. "Does my parent's break-up make you feel somewhat worried?"

"No, we are not our parents, their good or their bad. Your parents were not happy, what is the point them being in a bad marriage if it would have affected you, Em's and Sarah negatively. You had two homes where your parents were more at peace, and in turn able to parent you better than one toxic home." She stated.

"Fair point." Tom conceded. "So this plan of yours?"

"I want to further myself in this job, I want to be the one that the studio contracts, not being called in by a firm for a studio." She stated. "I want it that I answer to me, if I am up at four am for a shoot, then I am the one bringing home all the cash, not someone else sitting in a swivel chair in an office getting the lion's share and me pulling only a salary." She explained.

"You see, you have so much drive." Tom pointed out. "What do I need to do to help you achieve that?"

"If I say that I need to study, let me; if I pull a fifteen hour day, drag me away from said study for food." She suggested.

"Only if you do the same with me and scripts."

"Deal." She smiled fondly. "I promise to keep you in tea and other sustenance too."

"Well then, it appears we have an accord my darling." He grinned, taking her injured hand and gently kissing it. "What are we going to do when this comes out?"

"Us?" Tom nodded. "Do we get a warning?"

"Magazines, usually yes, fans and online, usually no."

"I think we should be prepared, we should have a picture, one of us, happy and pre-planned, doing something natural, at home on the couch, out with Mac, something that is really us, and when they all come for their blood, we use that, give it to your social media, take their power off them, give people the details before they can."

Tom smiled, "That is a great idea."

"I want this to be ours for as long as we can, but if there is a chance we are spotted, I want you to do what you can to release it first. If there is a situation where we know it will be public, say an event where we can't prevent it, do it as far in advance of it as possible."

"Alright."

"I am not a very public person Tom, I am not good with dressing beautifully and looking good for a camera, I am not sure if I can ever do for you what Sophie does for Ben."

"I disagree with your idea of your beauty, but would never force you to. If you are not willing to go on a red carpet, I don't want to do that to you." Danielle said nothing for a short while. "What is it?"

"I thought things were getting better with Emma, but she went back to being mad as soon as we mentioned me staying with you."

"She needs to get over herself, she is five months older than you and half your maturity," Tom growled. "She and Jack moved in together and I said nothing, literally nothing, because I knew they were happy together and he would treat her right, she needs to extend the same courtesy to us."

"I just want my friend back."

"I know, darling." Tom pulled her close to him. "What other concerns do you have?"

"How do I prepare for people saying I am nothing but a golddigger?"

"I'm afraid I have no idea."

"Really, not even after the summer, I mean, every second paper was saying you were after a Sugar Mama."

Tom scoffed. "Really?"

"Yes."

"I never noticed."

"How do you ignore that sort of thing?"

"I don't read about myself online, I once did it, and they were all discussing what I am like in bed, that put a quick end to that."

"I hope they were at least complimenting."

"There are social media pages dedicated to discussing my size." He exclaimed.

"Were they generous?"

"Not the point, Elle."

"Well, at least they are nice about you."

"Some are, others aren't, especially after..."

"Well some people were never going to be happy anyway, others probably just held that opinion of her, to begin with, and wondered what brought you two together."

"Do you wonder?"

"No, I don't, and I don't care." She stated firmly.

"Why did you react like that?" Tom asked. "So vehemently against even knowing."

"I don't want to know Tom, I don't discuss Paul, I don't want to discuss Taylor, it is weird to focus on exes, I don't mind discussing her new songs or how Paul is doing, but the relationships, no, unless there is something long term as a result, I'm good not knowing."

"Okay..."

"Do you want to know the intricate details of my time with Paul?" Tom's facial expression answered her question. "Well, same here. They both have their lives, we are trying to sort ours, so we will leave it at that."

Tom gave her a loving smile. "You are so mature, you know that?"

"I am in my late twenties, if I wasn't by now, I would be worried."

"Well so many people remain bitter."

"Why, though, I mean, then they are taking up space in your head and preventing you from being happy if you do that, so off with them."She shrugged. "Now, enough on that, what else do you and I need to talk about?"

"The house?"

"Yours or mine?"

"The one in London."

"So yours."

"If it's your home Elle, it is not mine, it is ours."

"Your name is on the deeds."

"That shouldn't matter too much, should it?"

"I suppose not." Her tone defeated.

Tom looked at her, "You can choose not to stay if you want."

"I want to, I am just scared."

"Of what?"

"If I alter things, put new books in, borrow one and you go looking for it; if I do something to something you don't want to be touched..."

"Hey, stop that now." Tom stood in front of her, "I gave you that key because I wanted you to feel comfortable, because I know you are going to be very busy and tired for the next few months with work and to ensure we got to see each other as often as possible in that time, I did not do so without thinking of the alterations that would no doubt happen with us both being there. I saw how you were over the past couple of weeks, and I know you were so busy you did not get a chance to actually get comfortable, but bar your terrible book organisational skills, I know you're tidy, jovial and quiet the most of the time, I actually like that."

"Really, attacking my books, again."

"Darling, there is nothing wrong with your books, how you organise them is the issue."

Danielle threw her eyes up at him, causing him to chuckle before getting serious again. "Are you worried about when I am away?"

"About being by myself, not that no, I can handle that."

Tom processed her words, "But you are concerned?" Danielle failed to respond. "What are you scared of?"

"You work with gorgeous, funny, intelligent women." Tom froze, knowing what she was implying. "If you rather one of them, could you please just, I dunno, send me a text, ring me, do anything other than waiting until after, or not tell me and let me find out some terrible way." she looked at him pleadingly. "I don't want to be made a fool of Tom, especially, Jesus, if it ended up on a rag paper and the whole world knew before me, I couldn't take the looks or sympathy, or in some cases, delight."

Tom looked at her for a moment, he was hurt she would think him capable of that, he was never one to consider such a thing, but he wasn't an idiot, it happened a lot in his industry, every second week if rag mags were to be believed. "I would not do that, you know that right? But, if by some chance I did find myself wanting to do such, I would never hurt you like that." He promised, looking directly into her eyes. "I mean it, Elle, I could not do that to you."

"Okay, please just remember that. I rather be heartbroken that we didn't last than crushed by you trying to say you're sorry or you didn't want to hurt me. I rather be hurt by the honesty than by betrayal."

"I will, but on that note, I know I am not always home, I know I am gone a lot and that has been a reason why I have not partaken in relationships a lot over the past few years, I don't like the idea of leaving someone behind. If I neglect you if another man realises just how amazing you are when I am not there, if he..." Tom swallowed hard at the words he was forcing out. "If he gives you what I can't, please, I..."

Danielle gave him a comforting smile. "We respect each other enough to do the right thing, deal?"

"Deal." Tom's eyes were glassy, the idea of Danielle casting him aside for someone else, alone hurt him more than he thought it would. She was not someone who would cheat, she seemed to be almost aggressive towards those who were, it was something she had never understood or stood for, even when a friend of hers in a terrible marriage had cheated, as much as she hated the husband and thought the friend should leave, she still snapped at the woman for lowering herself to such a level. He felt somewhat unsure of what to do next until Danielle placed her hand in his.

"So, really, you'd want to ship your hypothetical sons to Eton?"

"I didn't mind it."

"I thought you said you felt alone there?"

"But it is a good education."

"And what of your daughters, should you have some?" She asked curiously.

"Why don't you like the idea of private schools?"

"Private schools is one thing, boarding schools are another; I hated it." Tom paused and looked at her. "I lasted one semester, and when I came home for Christmas, I refused to go back."

"I didn't..."

"I know, so when you said my parents didn't want to invest in my education, they did, I just didn't want that. I was happier in a normal school."

"I never should have said that. Did I even apologise for it, I am so sorry for the horrible things I said to you that day, for how I acted, when you had had such a terrible night."

"In your defence, I used the 'p' word, so I sort of deserved it." She countered. "So, are we okay?"

"I think so, I cannot think of anything else right now. I cannot believe I am finally discussing these things, I thought I had ruined any chance of all of this for myself."

"How so?"

"I kept pushing people away."

"Why did you let me in?"

"Because when I think about having something with you, I feel excited. I have not felt that before."

"Well, I mean, I am fabulous." She grinned, fanning herself.

"I concur." Tom smiled, taking her hand and kissing it again. "Are we already nearly back to the car?"

"Yep."

"Good, I want lunch."

Danielle laughed, "How are you as lithe as you are?"

"Well of late, I have been partaking in some very amorous acts that aid me in maintaining my physique."

"Is that right?" Danielle gave a smirk and a raised brow. "How very good of your significant other to be so selfless as to assist you in such a manner."

"I know, and I think I know how to thank her."

"Well now, you have me wanting to run back to the car."

"Good." Tom burst into a sprint.

"What! Not fair, I'm short." Danielle shouted as she started to run.

"Excuses." Tom laughed as he ran on, seeing her follow, Mac Tíre easily outstripped them, circling around the pair several times as they ran as though taunting them of his speed and durability.

"That was mean." Danielle puffed as she slowed down at the car.

Tom leant against it, feeling somewhat out of breath himself. "I won."

"You had a head start and long legs you fucker, that's cheating."

"I can't help my height."

"Neither can I." she walked over to him, but before she could poke or elbow him, Tom pulled her to him and looked down at her.

"I am so glad I finally have you."

"Your not so bad yourself, Hiddles." She leant up and kissed him.

"What if someone catches us?"

"Fuck em." she grinned, kissing him again.

Chapter Text

After the walk in the woods, and a small towel dry for Mac, Danielle and Tom contemplated sitting down for a quiet read, but their idea was quickly shattered when Sarah arrived with her daughter. “Half an hour, I beg you.” she pleaded. Tom looked at his sister in concern. “My head is spinning, I have literally watched four movies in a row, I need half an hour.”

“Give us one and a half, she’ll be fed and all.” Danielle smiled. Sarah did not even bother asking if she was sure, she turned and fled. “I guess that answers what our afternoon includes.” She commented to Tom.

“Prepares us for the weekend we have you I suppose.” Tom grinned at his niece. “Have you had lunch?”

“Nope.”

“Well then, how about some of Ellie’s homemade soup and brown bread?” Tom ushered her into the kitchen. Danielle smiled as she walked in after them, Tom getting some of the soup Danielle had made them after their walk and the bread she had baked before getting injured on Christmas Eve. Tom saw her looking at him. “What?”

“Nothing,” She smiled. “Just nice seeing you make yourself at home here.”

“Well, just remember to do the same in London.”

“I might just.” She winked, going over to the kettle to make herself some tea. “Do you want one?”

“Please.” Tom was about to put his arms around her when she moved slightly to avoid it and indicated to the six-year-old who was currently eating at the table. “Sorry.”

“Have to remember to behave in front of children.” She chastised. “So, what movie will we watch when you are finished your lunch?” She asked said child as she placed a glass of apple juice next to her.

“Cinderella.”

“The film or the cartoon one?” Danielle offered.

“Film.”

“There’s a film of it now?” Tom asked.

“Yeah, Kenneth Branagh is the director, it’s brilliant, so colourful,” Danielle informed him.

“Ken loves using colour.” Tom nodded. “Sounds good.”

When Sarah returned almost two hours later, she was shocked to see Tom and Danielle playing hide and seek with her daughter. “You two are worse than her.” She chuckled to her brother.

Tom came over to her and put his arm around her, “Feel better?”

“Too much wine yesterday, tired and over my fill of movies, thank you both so much.”

“We are happy to have her.”

“She loves you both, she has not stopped going on about wanting you to marry Elle.”

“I know, I was informed yesterday on our walk that she is to be the flower girl, no arguments.”

“No pressure.” Sarah laughed.

“No, none. So what time is dinner?”

Sarah groaned. “No one is in the mood for turkey, not even mum.”

“I know, the idea of it is not too appealing.” Tom agreed. “Though…” He walked out to the end of the stairs. “Truce,” he shouted up. A moment later, two smiling faces poked around the top of the stairs at him. “Why is your hair tossed?” He asked almost worriedly.

“We…”

“Shh,” Danielle put her hand over the girl’s mouth for a moment. “We can’t let him know where I hid you.” She giggled. “What do you want? Surrender?”

“Not a chance.”

“Then why call us?” She asked.

“You cooked a lasagne on Christmas Eve, right?”

“I did.”

“Is there enough for everyone?”

Danielle took a moment to think. “There are fourteen portions, so I think it’s safe to say yes.”

“Why did you cook that much food?” Tom frowned.

“It’s easier to cook a lot and freeze, so I did.” Danielle shrugged.

“Can we use it for dinner, no one is really in the mood for Turkey?”

“Actually, that sounds really good.” Danielle came down the stairs, Tom’s niece in tow, she turned to look at her. “What do you think?”

“I want Garlic bread with it.”

Tom grinned, “That sounds like a great idea. But I am not sure there is any.”

“I have store-bought in the freezer too.” Danielle smiled.

“I love you.” Tom declared.

“You two are nauseating.” Sarah laughed.

“All men declare their undying love to the one that feeds them, why do you think they all love their mammies!” Danielle laughed, going to the kitchen to get the food. “How are you now?” She asked as she opened the freezer.

“Better, thank you, I had a cup of tea and a power nap. I think everyone was a little drained.”

“Well, you know where I am.” Danielle offered.

“Aunty Ellie?” Danielle turned around. “Why do you say mammy and not mummy or mommy?”

“Because I come from Ireland, and in Ireland, we say mammy.”

“Uncle Jack is from Ireland too and he doesn’t sound anything like you.”

“Uncle Jack comes from up at the tippy top of Ireland, so his accent is different, like your granddad comes from Scotland, so he has a different accent to your nan.”She explained.

“Okay.” With her curiosity sated, she walked off again.

“You didn’t correct her.” Sarah grinned.

 

“What?”

“When she called you ‘Aunty Ellie’ you never corrected her.”

“I didn’t even notice.” Danielle shrugged.

“Well, it suits you.” Sarah grinned. Danielle stared at her worriedly. “What do you need me to bring over?” Rolling her eyes, Danielle pointed to the food they would need.

*

“Okay, that was more delicious than I thought.” Jack conceded as he finished another portion of lasagne. “How are you not the size of a house?”

“Self-control.” Danielle laughed. “How are you not sick?” Jack shrugged.

“And it was not beef?” Jakov looked at the food in front of him.

Danielle shook her head. “Lamb, less chewy.”

“That is actually delicious,” Sarah declared. “I am stealing some.”

“Or I could just give you some.” Danielle laughed.

“That too,” Sarah conceded.

Diana smiled as she looked around the table, “Are any of you going to see your father soon?”

“Jack and I are going after New Years, on our way back from Jack’s parents,” Emma stated.

“We went a couple weeks ago, I will see when I can get up again,” Sarah informed her.

Everyone turned to Tom. “I...I haven’t spoken to him in a while…” There were a few moments of silence.

“Since the summer?” Danielle ventured, seeing no one else was going to ask, though everyone seemed to be thinking it. Tom nodded. “Have you spoken since?” He shook his head. “Well, do something about it.”

“How?”

“You get off your ass and you go to Scotland, obviously.”

“He…”

“Will give you a clip across the ear and then you apologise for embarrassing yourself, your family, your forefathers, your descendants, your pets, neighbours and even your preschool teacher and you get on with life.” Tom gave her a disbelieving look while the others laughed.

“What wiring is wrong in your head to say you say the stuff you do?” Jack shook his head.

“You’re just jealous you are a boring Tyrone shite that only wishes he was as brutally honest as me.” she retorted.

“Language.” Diana admonished.

“He started it.”

“You are the biggest child to ever exist, are you sure you don’t have any siblings?” Emma laughed.

“Nope just learnt all this from your crazy butts.” Danielle looked to Diana, who nodded her approval of Danielle toning down her language. “Why don’t we see if he is free over New Years, I know you wanted to go to see a few of your friends, but I think it would mean more to him if you made the effort to go up and show him you are not as mental as everyone thinks you are.” Tom gave her an unsure look, which Danielle chose to ignore.

“Can I just absorb some of your ability to just say what I am thinking?” Emma asked.

“I can be honest or I can not hurt your feelings, not both, most of the time.” She grinned. “So, get off your ass and ring him.”

 

“He…”

Danielle shook her head, “Emma, give me your phone,” Emma gave it to her and Danielle typed in the code and the screen unlocked. “Dad or James?”

“Dad.”

“Got it.”

“Elle,” Tom warned.

Danielle ignored him and continued. “Got you,” She pressed the dial button and put the phone to her ear. When a Scottish accent answered she smiled. “Hello, Dr Hiddleston, this is Danielle, I was a bridesmaid at Emma’s wedding.”

“I recall, what can I do for you?”

“I am ringing because Tom is under the impression you are not willing to speak to him, I wish to know if this is true or is he just being dramatic?”

“Is that little tart gone?”

“You mean the American singer?”

“That one.”

“Yep.”

“Is he there?”

“Right next to me, Dr Hiddleston.”

“Put him on, and for Christ’s sake girl, I told you enough times that day, it is James.”

“Sure thing Dr Hiddleston. I hope you had a lovely Christmas, take care and here is your idiot son.” She held the phone out to Tom, who was glaring at her.

Anxiously, Tom took the phone and rose to his feet. “Hello, dad.” He walked from the room talking.

“There, done.”

“Carpe Diam?” Diana smiled.

“More like ‘Carpe Scrotum’.” Danielle laughed as she took a drink of her water to the sounds of laughter around her.

*

“Thank you, I think.” Danielle turned to see Tom behind her.

Danielle faced him properly. “For the record, I would never have forced you to talk to your dad if you didn’t look like it was the one thing you wanted more than anything else in the world, that would not have been fair.” She stated. “I completely understand if you are annoyed with me and want to stay over here tonight. I just don’t want to see you not talk to your dad about something that is over, he is not exactly young. My dad always said to me, that no matter how bad we argue, never leave it longer than a day to say sorry, time doesn’t wait for you to.”

Tom looked at her for a moment. “I was pissed off you did it, but I am glad you did. We spoke for a few minutes, he just didn’t want me ruining everything I have worked so hard for. He mentioned you too.”

“Well, I was the one that called him.”

“He asked why I couldn’t ever see you as a suitable woman, you are, and I quote ‘copped on, intelligent and well able to give me a clip cross the ear’ he impersonated his father’s Scottish accent as he did so.”

“He forgot funny, charismatic and generally awesome,” Danielle laughed. “What did you say to that?”

“I told him I did, and that I convinced you to come to London to me for a few months.”

“Well, there’s his idea that I am copped on and intelligent gone out the window.” She stated solemnly before giggling.

Tom pulled her to him and kissed her as he chuckled too. “He said about fucking time, and that should I find my way to Scotland anytime soon, I am to bring you.”

“Woohoo, very nice. Got both parents on side, I am rocking at this girlfriend thing.” She smiled.

“I think you may have it down indeed Ms Hughes.” He agreed. “By the way,” She looked up at him. “He said to stop calling him Dr Hiddleston.”

“I can’t, it annoys him too much.”

Chapter Text

Tom groaned as he rubbed his eyes, a few times during the night, he was convinced he felt Danielle getting in and out of bed, though he was half asleep so perhaps it was just that she was tossing a little. Another movement next to him and a small groan caught him attention.

“Elle.”

“What?” Her voice was a tad snappy.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

“I must have fallen asleep in my wrist, it is really sore.” she moaned.

“Have you taken something?”

“I took the diffene before bed and a paracetamol an hour ago, but I am all out now. I have literally used more pain meds over Christmas than I did all year leading up to this.”

There was a distressed tone to her voice which caused Tom to pull her close to him. “Give me two minutes,” he said, kissing the top of her head before getting out of the bed.

“Where are you going?”

“Mum has a medicine cabinet, I saw Jack getting out Alka seltzer last night, so I know she has some Nurofen.”

“I knew he would have a sore stomach after that much food. Don’t go annoying them.

“Elle, it is four thirty in the morning, how much sleep have you had?”

“Some.”

“Elle…”

“Two hours, three at a push.”

“You need to get some rest. You have not had a good night’s sleep in weeks.” He put on his pants and shoes and grabbed a jumper before leaving the bedroom. As soon as he left, Danielle groaned and cursed herself before groaning again and running to the bathroom.

“Tom?”

He turned to see Emma in her nightwear behind him, “Go back to bed Em.”

“What are you doing over here?”

“Elle’s wrist is sore and she ran out of Nurofen.”

“Top shelf, at the back. Her Royal Highness was on the counter yesterday so mum thought it was best to put them higher, just in case.”

“The outside does taste like sweets in all fairness.” Tom agreed.

“Why is her wrist sore?”

“She broke it, remember,” Tom growled, still not after forgiving Emma for what she had said to Danielle, but Danielle insisted that they try and move on.

“Right, I…”

“Look, go back to bed Emma, I just came over to get this, Danielle isn’t sleeping right at the moment.”

“Is it because…”

“Well, I doubt you helped.” Tom inhaled deeply. “Look, she wants to move passed this, and so do I, but what you said to her, what you demanded of her, I can’t get over that quickly Emma, you are my sister and her friend and you told her to choose between us.”

“I didn’t say…”

“You said if she had any respect for you and your friendship to back off, that is telling her to choose, and guess what, she chose you.” Tom snapped. “Just go back to bed and get some rest, I can’t deal with bratty behaviour now.” He growled, storming out of the room and rushing back over to Elle.

“Hey, darling.” He handed her a glass of water and the ibuprofen. “This will help.”

“Thanks, six o’clock cannot come fast enough, I can take another diffene then.” She groaned taking the medicine and water and swallowing it. “It’s just a constant dull throb.”

“The sort that keeps you from getting comfortable.” Tom nodded in understanding.

“I was such a fucking idiot.” She groaned.

“You are no such thing, just relax and get some rest.” He soothed.

“Aren’t you going to sleep?”

“I am darling, I just need to go to the bathroom first.” He explained, heading to the en suite. To his surprise, the seat was up, though he knew it had been down going to bed, as well as that, there was a small sickly sweet smell of air freshener in the bathroom. Shaking his head slightly, he turned to wash his hands and realised that there was a hint of toothpaste and mouthwash in the sink. Sliding his tongue across his teeth, he had a suspicion as to what had occurred. Walking back into the room and getting into bed, he pulled a half asleep Danielle to him, making sure her injured wrist was not at risk of being hurt by having it placed on his chest and kissed her forehead, as soon as she got comfortable, he smelled the mouthwash on her breath and sighed defeatedly.

*

“Hey, there you are.” Tom turned to see Danielle smiling at him before frowning slightly. “Going somewhere?”

“Pharmacy.” She cocked her head a little. “You’re out of painkillers, and you might need more later, so I am going to grab that, some fresh milk and a few other bits and be back very soon.” He walked over and kissed her. “You go back to bed or take a shower.”

“Well, I have to say, that’s a tad insulting. I love you, but you smell.” Danielle laughed.

“Yeah, sorry. I will be back soon.” he kissed her again and left, leaving Danielle wondering why he was so out of sorts. Groaning at another bad night’s sleep, she turned and made her way to the kettle to make a cup of coffee, not sure how to deal with whatever was bothering Tom.

*

It had been awkward, but Tom had gotten everything he needed, even with a very confused pharmacist looking at him, thankfully, he had not recognised the movie star, otherwise it would have been on the morning internet news before Tom even got back to the house. He barely remembered the other items he said he would purchase before heading back, wondering how to even broach the subject with Danielle.

When he returned to the house, he saw Mac come round to the side gate to see what car had just invaded his driveway, on seeing it was Tom, he wagged his tail and went around back once more, telling Tom that Danielle had chosen to stay up and was probably just tidying or cooking. As soon as he opened the door, she popped her head out from the kitchen. “I just texted you, we needed eggs too.” She stated, though her face told him she had no intentions of sending him out again. “I suppose we can have a no egg breakfast for one day.”

“I got them.” He answered.

“Good, so come on and we’ll get some food into us, I am starving.” He walked into the kitchen and looked at her worriedly. It took a moment for Danielle to figure out that there was something worrying him. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Were you sick again last night?”

“What?”

“Danielle, just...were you sick again last night?”

Danielle bit her lips together at him using her full name and nodded. “Yes.”

“You didn’t tell me.”

“It was just a little and as soon as I was sick I was fine again, it’s just that I obviously vomited up my diffene, so my hand was sore as a result.”

“I got you more painkillers,” He held out one small bag, which she took, but her eye went to the other pharmacy bag he had with him. “I want you to take a test.”

“A test?”

“Yes,” He rummaged through the bag and pulled out a box and held it out for her.

“Tom, this is a pregnancy test.” She pointed at the small box.

“You have been sick, two nights in a row in the early hours of the morning, as soon as you are sick, you seem to be okay again.”

“Wait, this has been plaguing you all night, hasn’t it?” She noted the tired look on his face. “Did you get back to sleep at all last night?”

“No.”

“Tom,” she sighed, “You are worrying for nothing.”

“Just take the test, Elle.”

“I am not pregnant.”

“We need to know,” he stated factually. “You could be.”

“I have the bar.”

“For nearly three years, you said that yourself when we first slept together, I Googled it, the bar lasts three years.”

“Tom, I am due to have it changed the day of your birthday, ironically, that is how I know it needs changing then, I confirmed an appointment for it before Christmas, I moved it forward a few days so I could celebrate your birthday with you without a sore arm. I am still covered by it.”

“Please Elle, I feel like I am going insane, I...just please.”

“Fine.” She shrugged, “No harm in it really, is there? I mean, yeah, there is the world’s tiniest chance and you are clearly not going to relax until I do it, so give it to me.” She took the small box and read the back cover before opening it and taking out the instructions, her lips moving slightly as she read it. “Okay, you keep an eye on the food, I will go and pee on a stick. What a way to start the day, right?” She scoffed sarcastically before walking out of the room.

Tom put on the eggs and watched the door, his pulse audible in his ears. He was relieved she had not gotten angry at him, but her blase manner did not help much either. She returned less than a minute later, holding the stick in her hand. “Well?”

“It takes three minutes, my phone will go off when it’s time, but I am telling you, you are freaking out for nothing.” She dismissed.

“We need to know.”

“I am telling you, I am not pregnant.” She stated adamantly before she bit her bottom lip. "If we had an unplanned pregnancy, what would you do?"

"I don't know," Tom answered honestly. "I would like to think I would not panic and be completely alright with it, but I cannot say I would, I would probably be worried about everything."

"What about your work?"

"That would be affected." He stated as though obvious.

"Would you resent it?"

"I don't think so. You?"

"I have a plan for myself, anything that would scupper that, I don't know, I cannot say, but you know how I feel about different options Tom, I can't...I mean, what other women do, that is their business, but I could never..."

"I know, and I respect that as your choice."

"I’m scared, though, I mean, I say that, but if I was faced with it, would I?"

"Hypotheticals are great in that we can pretend we know the answer, but we don't, we cannot know the answers." He consoled.

“But it might not be hypothetical now.”

“We will deal with that if it is.”

There was an awkward silence for a moment before Danielle’s phone went off, nervously, she looked at the small stick before frowning. “I…”

“What?”

“It can’t be.” She shook her head. “No.”

“Elle.” She cocked her head to the side and grabbed the piece of paper that came with it. “Elle.” He walked over and looked at the small stick. He knew nothing about the tests other than a plus tended to mean a positive result, and what was looking back at him seemed to be a very faint plus. “Positive.”

“No, it can’t be, it’s wrong.”

“Elle, it is saying it here in front of us, it is not wrong.”

“No, here, look, it is supposed to have another little line in that small box to show that the test is functioning, it’s not there. It’s faulty.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means the test is not working properly, it is faulty.” She repeated.

“What do we do?”

“Nothing you can do, you’d have to take another test now.” Tom walked over to the bag. “Don’t tell me you bought more than one?” Danielle asked in disbelief.

“I got the three top brands, I didn’t know what one would work.”

“Three, you bought three pregnancy tests, they are like a tenner each.”

“I think it is safe to say I can afford three pregnancy tests, Danielle.”

“Why are you calling me Danielle all of a sudden?” she asked, hurt at him calling her by her full name.

“I think my girlfriend is pregnant and we aren’t together long enough to know how to deal with this, so to say I am a tad stressed is a bit of an understatement,” Tom growled.

“I am not pregnant,” she reiterated again in annoyance. “Look give me the other two, let’s just get this done with.” He handed her another test. “This one is digital, it will read ‘error’, ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ it is that simple. I’ll use this.” She walked off again.

Tom rubbed his hands over his face. He had a lot of different pressures over the years with women and relationships, but a pregnancy scare was a new one, he knew that there was always a risk, but he wasn’t ready, not since he and Danielle were already going just a tad too fast by some people’s standards. Knowing her so long meant they could be a little hastier in some respects, but a baby, that was not something that would do any relationship any good too soon. Again it was only a minute or so before she returned.

“Another three minutes,” she stated. She went over to the cooker and stared at the breakfast she had been working on for them. “I’m not really very hungry now.” Her voice was small.

“Hey,” She turned to face Tom, “No matter what, it will be okay, we can sort this, whatever way you want if it happens, alright?” she nodded but said nothing.

“I’m not ready.” She admitted.

“I know,” He walked over and wrapped her in his arms and kissed her head.

“If it…”

“Elle, it’s alright, we will not get worried about it until we see what it says.” Tom reiterated.

The little device beeped and Danielle remained where she was. “I can’t.”

Gently, Tom removed his arms from around her and walked over to the little device. She had put the cap back on the end and wrapped it in tissue to be hygienic, but that was not the reason he feared touching it. Slowly, his eyes went to the little window and a sigh of pure relief rushed from him. “Not pregnant.”

“Oh thank God.” Danielle physically slumped and then walked over, sure enough, the writing was there in front of her. “I knew it, fuck that is scary.”

“Better to be safe,” Tom stated, pulling her to him.

“I know, but fuck that first one has knocked me for six.”

“Has what?”

“Scared the shit out of me.”

“Ah, right.” Tom kissed her again.

“Don’t think this is how I want it to stay, I just, I’m not ready Tom, I want to get further first.”

“I know, darling.”

“I don’t want to be getting nannies to mind my kids while I head to work at four am or waddling around dangerous sets heavily pregnant, I want to be able to order someone else to do it, so I can teach our kids GAA and stuff.”

Tom smiled at her saying ‘our’ in relation to children. “I know, by the way, GAA is that crazy game with sticks right?”

“It’s called hurling, Tom.”

“Our kids are not learning that, it’s vicious.”

“Hey, I’m Irish, so you damn well believe they will.” She corrected him as she dumped the used tests into the bin and cleaned all the instructions and whatnot off the table and set up for the food. “I am not even hungry, but I have to eat.”

“Yes, you do.” Tom smiled fondly. “Elle,” She looked at him. “I’m sorry I was so crazy.”

“You were worried, and I don’t blame you, but I know me.”

“You never told me you were sick last night.”

“Because I was only sick for a minute, as I said, I felt perfect again after. I think the drugs are just giving me a tender stomach.” She wrapped her arms around him, “I actually need to thank you for being so nice to me.” She grinned, “After breakfast.”

“After?” Tom smirked.

“Can we take a moment to note that five minutes ago we were worried I was pregnant, yet now we are about to go upstairs again.” Danielle laughed as she intertwined their fingers and pulled Tom out of the kitchen to the hall. They had not made it to the first step when there was a pounding on the front door. “What the?”

Tom opened it to find Yakov on the other side. “What’s wrong, is everything alright?”

Yakov shook his head. “It would appear your argument with Emma was overheard this morning.” His brother-in-law informed him. “And Sarah and Diana are...well it would be best if you come over, both of you.”

Chapter Text

Tom and Danielle walked over to Diana’s with Danielle still in her nightwear and Tom in the jeans and hoodie he went to the shops in. As soon as they entered the house, the thick atmosphere was the first thing they noticed.

“Right, first things first, Yakov, get your daughter and go to mine,” Danielle ordered, Yakov nodded and rushed upstairs to get his daughter out of the horrible atmosphere. “Ready?” She asked, looking to Tom.

“For what, Emma deserves this.”

“Tom, no good comes from holding grudges, I told you that after everything with Taylor, now, she is your sister, and this is all out now so we move on.”

Tom did not seem so sure but nodded in agreement in the end. “Fine.” He conceded grudgingly as they made their way into Diana’s kitchen.

Inside, Sarah and Diana stood at one side of the room while Emma and Jack stood on the other, the older Hiddleston women glaring at the younger, her husband looking almost ashamed next to her. When Tom and Danielle entered, Sarah and Diana immediately looked to them.

“Is what I heard true Tom?” Sarah demanded as soon as Danielle closed the door. “Well?”

“Sarah…”

 

“I’ve sent Yakov over to mine with the Duchess, it’s not healthy to have her hear this.” Danielle began, the other adults looked somewhat ashamed. “The other day, Emma was slightly annoyed and tried to extend something of an olive branch to me, but I had just gotten out of bed and was wearing Tom’s shirt, she saw that and got pissed off again leading her to say that she wanted me to back off, she had lost time with her brother of late and I was to give her time with him and the family, I did so, resulting in my less than fine moment of fracturing my wrist, but since then she has apologised to myself and Tom and we have to her and have tried to get passed everything that happened, so please, can we continue to do that?”

“She...she actually told you to back off from us, wait, is that why you didn’t ring to say you were in fucking hospital.”

“Sarah.” Diana chastised.

“Mum, you are worried about my language right now?”

“Look, Emma felt betrayed, you and she both know, hell, even Diana knows that people have become obsessed with using you guys to get to Tom, and well, can you blame her for getting pissed off with me? I was supposed to be her friend and next thing she knows, I am dating her brother, it’s not exactly nice. So her anger is somewhat understandable, as is Tom’s for how she has acted when all he wants is for everyone to be happy.”

“So those two are arguing and you are not mad at Emma?” Sarah asked in disbelief.

“No, I’m not, she is my best friend, and recently I haven’t had a lot of time to show her how much I actually care for her as my best friend and I should have, I’m sorry.” She looked at Emma as she spoke. “I really miss you.”

Emma swallowed and her eyes darted around. “I…” But she said no more.

“It’s done, please everyone, can we not argue about it, Em’s sorry, Tom and I are sorry, and all I was is my breakfast which is going cold for no reason because we are all arguing over a non-issue.”

“She never even got you a present, that is how petty she got, and you are not getting pissed off?” Sarah questioned.

“So what? I got enough this year, seriously, the only thing she needs to give me is a chance to prove I wasn’t using her to get to Tom.”

“You realise for the youngest person here, you’re the most mature one.” Diana smiled fondly looking at her.

“Obviously, I’m Irish,” She tossed her hair dramatically as she spoke before looking over at Jack and smiling “The good kind of Irish.”

“Ha-ha, forever with the jokes, Galway Girl.”

“You know the real one was actually red haired, but it didn’t match the song,” Danielle informed him.

As though the tension had finally gotten too much, Emma burst out laughing, “Why do you know this?”

“You know I know way too much stupid information, that;s why you are always trying to get me to do Table Quizzes with you.”

“You know about American football.”

“I used work nights, there are no other sports on at four am but basketball and American football, you learn fairly quick.” She shrugged. “Came in handy, got me a job next summer with a company from the States because I was able to know who Tom Brady was, and not just that he is married to Gisele Bun-whatever her name is, supermodel lady.”

“That got you a job?” Sarah asked in shock.

“Studio people are stuck around each other for stupid amounts of hours a day, they want people they can talk to, converse with, I clearly just said the right things.”

“Wait, when are you going to America?”

“May or June, I can’t remember, the contract signing is in March.” She dismissed before looking back at him, “Why?”

“I just didn’t…”

“Are you upset I’ll be going away for a few weeks?” She asked with a knowing smile. “Well, who knows, maybe if you’re not busy you can come.”

“It’s weird being the one that will be left behind,” Tom commented.

“We will have to do so from time to time. Now, are we all calm and back to normal?” She asked, looking around; everyone nodded, though she knew they were all still quite awkward with one another. “Fine, I’m getting breakfast, it has been a fairly weird morning.” She stated, much to the confusion of everyone but Tom before towards the back door. “I feel like trash, I am walking around in my pyjamas, I swear, if today is the day the leeches try to get a new pic of Tom, I am going to die of embarrassment.” She growled as she left.

Diana and his sisters looked to Tom for an explanation but all Tom could do is chuckle and shrug before looking to Emma, his face becoming serious again. “On a serious note, she really does want to fix things between you. She is the one fighting for everything to go back the way it was, remember that.” He stated before following her back to her house.

*

“Elle?”

“Bedroom.”

“You changed your study/office.”

“I know, I was going to start studying for a few days while I was home, but I guess I’ll be having to pack it all for London now.” She smiled. “Actually, that’s why I’m in here, I am going to need more than a week’s worth of undies and t-shirts.”

“Well, I have a new suitcase that can help.” He grinned, wrapping his arms around her waist. “I am actually looking forward to this.”

Really?” She turned her head toward him slightly.

“Yes, having you to myself.”

“You had me to yourself before now.”

“But you were working too much.”

“I still have to work,” She reminded him.

“As do I, but we’ll make time, won’t me, to just watch a film?”

“Get a takeaway, perhaps Netflix and Chill.” She smiled turning to look at him. “Maybe even go for a walk in the fresh air, together.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, probably away from the city first, then when we are found out, in the park.”

Tom kissed her passionately. “I cannot tell you how much I want that.”

“Good, we also have to talk to Luke about our plan, regarding the picture and that.”

“I’ll text him in a minute, we can organise something then, but I think he will like it.”

“Text him now, no procrastinating, call if you can.” She ordered.

“Yes, Ma’am.” He gave her a military salute as he did so and took out his phone, and got up Luke’s number. “Hello Luke, how was your Christmas?”

“Tom, what’s happened?” Luke’s voice was fearful down the phone.

“Nothing.” Tom rolled his eyes, “Wait, you never used to answer the phone to me like that before.”

“I used never have to worry about you and publicity tramps before.”

Danielle frowned next to Tom. “Hang on, are you talking about Danielle?” Tom began to get annoyed.

“Tom, the only controversial thing about Ms Hughes is what way to spell her first name, she is a publicist’s wet dream in comparison to others,” Luke growled.

“So why bring up others?”

“Because I am terrified that you’re about to tell me something regarding said others.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Well then, my Christmas was quite pleasurable, though I think I may never be able to look at poultry again and I may need new pants, these seem tight,” Tom chuckled. “Though I doubt this is a friendly call, so what is it?”

“Elle and I were talking.”

“And?” There was apprehension in Luke’s voice.

“About when it is found out that we are together.” Luke remained silent on the phone. “Danielle came up with an idea and I wanted to run it by you.”

“I’m listening.”

“If we find out someone has spotted us and put it online, we immediately release a photo and statement giving the basic details, her name, where’s she from, and some other tidbits that we want to be known, and if it gets as long as we can, we want to release the information ourselves a few weeks before a wedding or something so the hubbub will die down beforehand.”

“That is brilliant.” Luke was chuckling.

“So you like it?”

“I do, I think it is genius.”

“She wanted to have some control in it, she knows they will snoop regardless, but it gives her some power.”

“It makes sense.” Luke acknowledged. “I am not going to lie, Tom, people are going to go for her no matter how this comes out, some good, plenty bad, but if she remains stoic in public, if they don’t smell blood, they tend to get bored very quickly.”

“She’s nodding here next to me, she knows.”

“Well then, I suggest getting together what you want as the official line and we will keep it ready.” Luke’s smile was blatant down the phone. “This is, without a doubt, far saner Tom, honestly. She...I think she is what you’ve been so sure you could not find, so don’t be an idiot and look after this, right?”

“Okay, I hear you.” Tom grinned.

“There is one thing I am concerned for, though, her home, is it safe? I mean is it properly secured, has she a high wall and gates on it?”

Tom thought it an odd question. “She has a basic wall, about five foot or so at the front and no gate.”

“She’s going to have to get it more secured, they are not supposed to enter her property, but let’s face it, Pap’s are bottom feeders,” Luke explained.

Tom looked to the side where Elle was chewing on her bottom lip apprehensively. “Okay, we’ll get on that.” He informed Luke. “But for the time being, she is going to be in London with me, she wants to study more and her work is based in London studio’s for the new few months.”

“Well, all things considered, that is actually safer for her, but it heightens the risk of you being seen together.”

“Hence the phone call.”

“So long as you are both aware this could erupt at any time and as long as you are both prepared for that, then send on everything you wish to be publicised and I will have it ready to go at the first sign of a story,” Luke instructed.

“Will do, thanks, Luke.”

“Anytime, I also am going to need Ms Hughes’ phone number, and give her mine, if she has any issue…”

“Of course, right away.” Tom agreed.

“Then enjoy your holidays and I will see you on New Years?”

“I said I would be there.”

“And Ms Hughes?”

“Her name is Danielle, Luke, you are going to have to start calling her by it, and I will extend the invitation, should she wish to go.”

“Good, well, have a nice day Tom.”

“You too.” Tom smiled as he hung up the phone. “Luke is having a get together for clients and friends on New Years, I promised weeks ago I would go if you’d rather stay home…”

“Where is it on?”

“Private venue, no outsiders, no photographers, underground carpark so little risk of them.”

Danielle thought for a moment before walking over to her wardrobe and looking at its contents. “I think I don’t have anything for something like that,” she frowned.

Tom walked over, and as Emma had said, right at the back were a few outfits he had never thought Danielle would wear, much less own. “Darling, I know I am sounding pushy, but I am imploring you, please,” He got on his knees as though adding dramatic effect, “Please wear this to the party.” He pointed to a dress that still had tags on it.

“Oh, Jesus, that thing.” she groaned looking at it. “I have no idea what was going through my mind buying that, I could never…”

“Darling, I am begging you, you will look ravishing in it.” His eyes glinted with honesty and arousal.

Danielle looked between him and the dress anxiously. “Okay.”

Tom rose to his feet again, an elated smile on his face. “I mean it, Elle, you will look even more gorgeous than normal, which, in itself, is a difficult feat.” He grinned. “It is classy and sexy.”

“My boobs are going to be showing.”

“Showing, but not hanging out,” Tom pointed out, before grinning wickedly. “And you already know my thoughts of these delicious assets of yours.” He cupped her breasts and bit his lip.

“Insatiable.”

“That’s Mister Insatiable to you, my love.”

Chapter Text

“Elle?” Tom looked around upstairs, but there was no sign of his girlfriend, frowning, he decided to stick his head in her study door as he passed. “I was calling you.”

“Sorry, I thought I answered, I am just getting these three books.” She indicated to the two books in her hand before getting ready to climb up for another one.

“Which one?” Tom asked, seeing the highest book was still not a stretch for him.

“Third from the end.” she begrudgingly commented. When he got the right book, she smiled. “Thank you.”

“It’s handy having a tall boyfriend.”He grinned.

“It has its perks.”

“Ready?”

“Yeah, that’s everything. It’s weird, but probably better we are going back a day early.”

“How so?”

“Well I was fretting about it all, about leaving everything, but now I don’t actually feel as bad. I am terrified I forgot something, but phone, purse, laptop, books and clothes, I think that’s everything, I can get anything else I have forgotten in London, I mean, if I can’t get it there, I’ll never be able to get it, right?” She smiled.

“You forgot Mac.”

“Mac won’t let Mac be forgotten and you know it.” She scoffed.

“I have all his stuff in the car and ours. All that is needed now is those books and we are ready to go.I’m sorry I have us rushing back.”

“Why? We are sorting ourselves so that we can be ready for when this is public, it has to be done, let’s go say goodbye and hit the road.”

“Let’s go so.” Tom put his arm around her waist as the pair walked into his mother’s.

Diana hugged them both tightly in turn, “Call when you get back to London, you know the routine by now.” She insisted to Tom.

“Of course mum.” He went and gave her a second hug.

“And look after her.” She ordered, pointing to Danielle then to Tom again.

“She’s a big girl mum, she doesn’t need people looking after her,” Tom argued.

“Of course not, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.”

“I swear I will make sure to look after her,” Tom stated as though taking an oath.

“And you make sure to keep him in line,” Diana ordered Danielle.

“Unbelievable,” Tom threw his hands up and walked out of the room muttering about being unfair.

“I will, he’s not too bad, just needs an occasional clip across the ear.” Danielle grinned. “He was well brought up.”

“Well, I was lucky, his version of lashing out after everything with myself and James was to go into drama and try smoking for all of twenty minutes,” Diana confessed. “So many go different routes.”

“You raised a gentleman and you know it.” Danielle smiled. “I feel bad leaving you here.”

“Don’t darling, you are doing what I want you to do, achieving your ambitions, that’s so important, I am still here, you don’t need my boy to be with you to come visit, you know that.”

“I know.” Danielle hugged her again. “Thank you for everything.”

Diana hugged her for a second before pulling her back and cupping her face, “Now you listen to me Danielle Constance Hughes,” Danielle grimaced at being called by her full name, “I know you are used to being on your own, and I know that you don’t ever really need someone, but that does not mean that when you are with someone you withhold from them. The day you were in hospital, Tom almost had kittens, he was frantic, and my silly youngest’s ridiculous demands should not have mattered. You are not opening enough to him, I know you don’t think you should, but you have to, you cannot expect someone to give you their all if you are not going to give yours.”

Danielle nodded. “I know, I just...I get scared.”

“You’d be stupid if you didn’t child, you are allowing someone in to know you in the most intimate ways, and you are scared of getting hurt, of your feeling being used against you, that is normal, but you can only ever be the happiest when you give it your fullest.”

“You see, reasons like this is why your son is one of the most gifted actors I have ever witnessed.” Danielle smiled. “I know I need to open more, hopefully, this will help me too.”

“And if he ever treats you as anything less than the wonderful woman you are, I will personally castrate him.” His mother promised.

“Jesus Christ.” The women turned to see Tom standing in the doorway having only heard his mother’s promise, his face one of shock. “Mum.”

“Don’t you ‘mum’ me Thomas, I mean it. Never treat a woman short of anything you would expect me or your sisters to be treated.”

“You’re my mum, you’re supposed to be on my side.”

“There aren’t any sides.” Danielle corrected. “She is just being protective of me, same as she has been since the start, the only difference is this is different since you are involved too.”

“Well, still.”

“I am going to say goodbye to everyone else.” Danielle smiled walking out of the room and to the kitchen.

“Have you everything?” Diana asked.

“Yes, mum.” Tom nodded. “I’m sorry to leave like this, but Luke is only in London this evening so we want to get everything sorted.”

“Don’t apologise, love, it is a good idea and the best way to get it all sorted. Just look after one another, alright?”

“I really plan to.”

“Good, she has done something to you, Tom, you had gotten so, I suppose I can’t think of the right word, but you have a new vitality to you, the glint in your eyes is back.” She smiled fondly.

“I know what you mean, I don’t feel like every new project is all that matters now, I want them, I am looking forward to them, but I like the idea of when I will be home now too. I always tried to avoid being home overly long,” He tried to articulate. “I’m just scared that she will think I am not home enough. Do you know she’s scared I will leave her for someone I work with, or worse, cheat on her with one of them.”

“Can you blame her?” Tom looked at his mother, his hurt apparent. “Darling, all we ever see is celebrities cheating on one another, leaving one another, sure look at Taylor, not five minutes out of that music whatever he is, boy’s bed and she has her talons in you, of course, she might think that. Even Sarah and Emma get worried about that from time to time, as no doubt do Jack and Yakov. You have just admitted that you worry you won’t be home enough for her, but that is where trust comes into it. Danielle trusts you, she would not be so open with you if she was not. I know to you she does not open enough, but for her, that is a huge step and she is taking it with you. Remember that Tom, she does not allow herself be vulnerable, we spoke of this before. After her parents, she is too scared to care for people, she rather be alone than hurt, but she is risking it with you, that risk shows her trust.” Diana explained.

“You are too perceptive mum.” Tom chuckled.

“I’m a mother, I want what is best for my children.”

“Do you think we are doing alright?”

Diana laughed, “You’d know if I didn’t, do you recall last summer?”

“You were bitterly cold to me.”

“Yes, I was, with good reason. Now get Danielle and get on the road before you are late.”

“Yes, mum.” Tom walked out of the room to see his older sister and niece with Mac in the hallway, the young child telling Mac that she would see him soon for her holidays, the dog wagging his tail happily as she hugged him. “Where’s Elle?”

“Kitchen.” Sarah pointed behind her.

Knowing Emma was inside, he walked in, not sure of what to expect. To his relief, however, the two women were hugging goodbye. “Elle, we need to leave soon.”

“Yeah yeah, he’s done so all of a sudden, I’m the late one. You are never on time for anything. I bet Luke only told you five so you’d get there for half six.” She joked as Emma laughed.

“I am never over an hour late,” Tom growled.

“So, New Year’s day, lunch?” Emma beamed, looking at Danielle.

“Lunch,” Danielle confirmed.

“Good,” Emma hugged her again. “I’m sorry Elle.”

“Don’t, it’s done,” Danielle dismissed.

“You like that phrase, don’t you?” Jack smiled as he too gave her a hug.

“My dad used to say it. It’s true, though, you can’t change what happened, we can only keep going.” Danielle shrugged. “Now, where is Mac, I’m getting emotional.”

“Right, heaven forbid you come across as human.” Tom sniped playfully.

“Diana, I might kill your son,” Danielle warned.

“Leave my little boy alone.” Diana laughed.

“See, she’s still your mammy.” Danielle joked to Tom, who seemed happy with his mother’s defending him. “Now, let’s go.”

With his hand on Danielle’s lower back, the pair made their way to the door and to Tom’s car in the other driveway, with Tom taking a moment to make sure there was no one was watching them with a camera, thankfully, after an initial interest with Taylor, there did not seem to be the same interest in Tom’s mother’s home since.

Mac eyed the back seat curiously, somewhat irked that for once, he had to share it with other things, but as they mostly smelled of his bed and Danielle, he was not as annoyed as he could have been. “Ready?” Tom asked as they got into the car.

“This feels odd.” Danielle looked at the house that had very quickly become her home. Good odd, but still odd.”

“You still own it, you can come back all the time.”

“Next week?” She asked with a raised brow.

“Tomorrow, after you collect your car from the garage if that is what you want, but I hope not.”

Danielle looked over at Tom as he safely reversed out of the driveway, “Thank you, Tom.”

“What for, darling?”

“Understanding that I’m not always as open as I should be, that I can be pig-headed sometimes.”

“You’re not alone there.” Tom chuckled. Waving to his mother and sisters, he turned and smiled to Danielle. “Ready?”

“Yeah.” She nodded back. Mac gave a grumble in the back causing Danielle to look around at him, “Ready big man?” He gave a small bark in return. “Guess we’re ready.”

*

“That’s a dog.” Luke stared at Mac as he sat between Danielle and Tom.

“Really, we hadn’t noticed. Elle, Mac is a dog.” Tom joked dramatically earning a very bemused glare from Luke as Danielle did everything in her power not to laugh at him.

“We got caught in traffic so we hadn’t time to bring him to the house and it’s illegal to leave a dog alone in a car for a prolonged period of time,” Danielle explained. “He’s been to the toilet and is really good.”

“I swear, if he does anything to ruin anything, Tom’s paying for it,” Luke grumbled, moving to the side to let them in. Tom pulled out Danielle’s chair before taking one next to her. “Right, so we have everything?” He asked taking his own seat on the other side of the desk.

Tom handed him a small flash drive which Luke frowned at for a moment. “The pictures and the information.” He explained, “Her name, age, place of birth, the fact she is an only child, that her parents were happily married for thirty-seven years, that they are deceased, their jobs, her educational history, her current job and a few bits of information on her hobbies.”

“That is detailed,” Luke commented.

“I know they’ll snoop, but I did a few checks online, those are the most researched things they look for, that and boyfriend history, which I am not going to go into, not because there is nothing to hide, there is literally nothing anyway noteworthy about any of them, I just am not going to be the one to drag them up, because I know if they find them, they are as vanilla as ice-cream.”

“You did your research,” Luke commended with a smile. “I know this is prying, but how many men are we talking here?”

“Luke!”

“Tom, I know this is not something Danielle wants to answer or you want to hear, but they will dig and we need to know the worst they can spit at us to protect both of you,” Luke explained.

“Before Tom, three.”

Both men looked at her. “Three?” Luke repeated. “At twenty-nine years old you have only had three previous relationships?” Danielle nodded earnestly. “And none ended badly?”

“One I was in college, he was a nineteen-year-old guy with more testosterone than sense, I think he is in banking now, saw him at a triathlon a few years ago, grew up considerably since, another is a teacher, married with a kid according to my cousin, they live in the same development, told her to tell me that he said hi and Paul, who I saw at Christmas and wished me the best with my job while he gets ready to get married and be a dad, so no, nothing that can be called ‘bad’.” She shrugged.

“Any issues with jobs?”

“Nope.”

“You left a degree in Business Studies?”

“To help my dad looking after my mam, then I ended up looking after dad and then I decided not to go back to college but to become a paramedic.”

“Obviously no criminal record as you worked in that job, and finally, no bitter old classmates?”

“I pulled Megan Burke’s hair when we were seven because she said I was weird, but I doubt she even remembers,” Danielle stated factually.

“Do you drink or smoke?”

Danielle frowned at him. “Am I applying for health insurance? No, I don’t smoke, I don’t like drinking much, yes I know that goes against every Irish stereotype ever established and because I would wager it is the next question, no I have never done any form of illegal drug natural or man-made and nor do I intend to, nor am I addicted to any pharmacy medications.”

“I’m sorry, I know this is awkward and very intrusive, but you can surely understand my position. I rather we knew about that ‘one time in college’," He made air quotations as he spoke, "so if it came out we would be able to dismiss it immediately.” Luke explained.

“I know, it’s just odd, going through all of this, I just am boring, nothing special, no operations, admitted to hospital as a child because I fell off my bike got a concussion, occasionally suffer migraines, enjoy sports, I literally am nothing exceptional or noteworthy.”

“On the contrary,” Luke grinned. “You are, I literally could not have manufactured a more suitable person for Tom had I tried, you are a publicist’s dream, hardworking, intelligent, self-sufficient, and clearly you bring out something in Tom which I will admit has him seeming as happy as I used know him to be.”

“So long as I don’t react to paparazzi and don’t get sarcastic.” She added.

“Please, don’t do either of them, though to be honest, I rather your sarcasm to your vicious tongue.”

“She deserved it, I usually am not so catty.” She replied, knowing what Luke was referring to.

“Good, keep it that way.” Luke commended. “I will double check everything and have it ready to go, I will call you both if you are spotted, or await your calls should you wish to release the information. I know this is not needed, but as of now Danielle, no silly, brash decisions and I can tell this too is not necessary, but I should say it, no going around dressing in half nothing getting pissed drunk and making a fool of yourself.”

“But Tom said that was the theme of your party.” She joked, herself and Tom laughing as the publicist glared at them. “Yes, I get it, no odd ridiculous behaviour, keep my nose clean and tell you if there is any issue concerning public relations.” She stated seriously.

“Exactly. I cannot see there being an issue pertaining to you, you are, as I said already, the most ideal of partners for one of my clients, and one of my friends.” Luke smiled.

“Thank you, for everything.” She smiled, getting to her feet a moment after Tom and Luke.

“Can I ask?” Luke pointed to her wrist, which he only just noted was in the cast.

“I fell off my bike on Christmas Eve, small hairline fracture on the ulna should be alright in a month or so.” She explained.

“Well, that’s an annoying start to the Christmas,” Luke commented.

“Meant I got out of the dishes.” Danielle shrugged.

“Little mercy’s I suppose,” the publicist chuckled. “Well then, I want to return home, as do you both and...him.” He looked down at Mac who was looking at him, his tail slowly wagging.

“Not a dog fan Mr Windsor?”

“I was attacked by a sheepdog when I was five, tore my arm open, the scar is still visible, as is my dislike for larger dogs.”

“Understandable, though my father never was bitten by a dog bigger than a Jack Russell in his forty years of practice, I trust bigger dogs.”

“To each their own, though he will be a great little shield between you and overzealous photographers when the time comes.”

“Little mercy’s I suppose.” She smiled back, causing Luke to pause for a moment and Tom to grin knowingly at him before they said goodbyes and left.

*

“Is that the last of it?” Danielle asked as Tom placed Mac’s bed in the back kitchen, his new home.

“It is, what have you got in the microwave?” Tom asked, glancing in. “Please tell me that’s what I think it is.”

“Irish Beef and Guinness stew, made with sweet potatoes, fewer carbs.” She smiled.

Tom brought her to him and started to dance a little, his hand on her waist. “I have to say I adore you, Ms Hughes.”

“I don’t know how to dance like this.” She admitted nervously.

“Really, you seem to know what to do.” He smiled back, twirling her around. “You seem to feel it.”

“Tom…”

“Yes, Danielle?”

“Thank you, for sharing all of this with me.” She smiled meekly.

“Always my darling.” He grinned in return, kissing her chastily before kissing her again.

Chapter Text

In two days, Tom almost could not remember not living with Danielle, her time being at the house before Christmas was not as smooth as he had wanted it to be, seeing as they rarely saw one another, her need to get her paperwork done and then her added work, she seemed to only emerge from the living room to go to the bathroom and sleep, but even with her studying and him learning lines for Early Man, they seemed more in-sync on their return. As well as getting their work done, they were eating meals together, getting house chores done, both taking their share and enjoying talking at length as they always had, but with something more behind it, something Tom could not explain, but adored.

“Hey, handsome.” He turned to see Danielle smiling behind him. “Everything alright?”

“Perfect.” He grinned as she walked over and put her cup in the sink. “My day for washing up I assume?”

“Well, I am doing the laundry.” She smirked, Tom opened his mouth to say something, “We are not paying a laundrette to wash our clothes, it is one thing getting your suits done, but t-shirts and pants, not a hope.” She argued. “The poor washing machine finally feels like it has a purpose in its appliance life.”

Tom chuckled. “Fair enough, I wouldn’t want it to feel as though it is unappreciated, what with it being a non-sentient appliance.”

“You say that now, but wait until the machines take over the world.”

“You watch too many sci-fi movies,” Tom gently brushed her hair from her neck and kissed her shoulder. “You know, we haven’t…”

“Is your mind always on sex?” Danielle laughed fondly as she kissed him. “I mean, we are here only two days, at our ages, sex like horny teens is not exactly the norm.”

“First of all, are you trying to imply I am old?” Tom growled, “And secondly. I refuse to apologise for finding sex with you something I enjoy and wish to do as often as you are willing.” His face fell slightly. “I’m not pressuring you, am I?”

Danielle laughed. “I would have kneed you in the balls by now if you were.” She swore. “I love our sex, I do, I just…”She bit her lip. “I read not too long ago that by my age, let alone yours, it is normal to have sex about once a week, but I sort of...I don’t want you to think I am weird liking it more often.”

“Wait, are you telling me the reason we both have been holding back is to not frighten the other with our slightly higher than average sex drives?” Tom asked.

“I think so, but to be honest, I am frightened of my sex drive, I mean, I didn’t have anyone for more than half a decade, and with Paul, I never did everything, but with you, I just feel so…” She bit her bottom lip and looked up at him.

Though he had lines to rehearse and she had study to get done, Tom grabbed Danielle by the ass and hoisted her onto the kitchen counter top, “You owe me that little gift that you gave me the receipt for, if you recall.”

“Now?”

“Not now, perhaps soon, now I just want to ravish my sexy girlfriend for admitting that I turn her on.”

“Very much so.” Danielle nodded as she started toying with his shirt. When he began lifting up her jumper she pulled back slightly. “In the kitchen?”

“By the time I am on the promotion tour for Skull Island, I plan on having had you in every room in the house.” He promised as he leant in to kiss her again. Danielle’s reaction was to gently nip his lower lip and tug on it for a moment before looking up at him as he still was a few inches taller than her. “Elle, I swear, you will be the fucking death of me.”

“I can think of no better way to go.” She grinned in return. “By the way, Tom?”

“Mmhmm.”

“I need to wash those pants.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, and the boxers, shirt, well, everything really.”

“I best get them off me so.”

“Yes, you better.”

Tom chuckled as he began to undress in front of her. “Well, what about your clothes?”

“Mine are clean.” She winked back with a cheeky smile.

“No, they’re not.”

Danielle looked down confused. “Yes, they are.”

Grinning wickedly, Tom walked over to a cupboard and pulled out some salad dressing before opening it and flicking some onto her clothes. “I beg to differ.”

“TOM!” She looked down in disbelief, “Are you fucking serious?” Rather than her features being filled with anger to match her words, Danielle was laughing at him, “You prick.”

“I’ll show you a prick, come on, off with them.” He grinned, walking over to her and removing her t-shirt before quickly making his way to the button of her jeans. “I said before that I wasn’t like this with anyone else in a really long time Elle, I mean it, it’s just you do this to me,” he stated as he gently brushed his nose over hers, his lips finding their way to hers as he placed her arms around his shoulders before hoisting her up and taking off her jeans and panties at the same time, when he placed her back on the counter, she gasped slightly at the feel of the cold surface against her bare ass before his hands made their way to her bra. “I do not think this particular bra and I have been acquainted before, have we?” He asked at the silk material in his hands.

“I don’t believe you have.” Danielle grinned. “Have you been keeping tabs on my underwear choices?”

 

“What have I told you of my adoration of your breasts, I recall all the terrible contraptions that have come between me and them that I have been shown.” Danielle could not control the snigger she gave. “Something funny?”

“You love being a twat some days, don’t you?” She grinned, before pulling him to her again. “Why don’t you get better acquainted with it then,” She whispered sultrily as she brushed her lips against his ear.

“Yes, Ma’am,” He grinned wickedly as he pulled the material under her breasts and gently used his thumbs to brush over her nipples. “”Is that to your liking.”

“You are a fucking tease.” She growled back, loving it when he took one into his mouth. “Fuck, Tom!”

“Hmm, I think you like that.”

“You know I do.”

“More?”

“Please.” Tom set about gently nipping and suckling on each of her breasts in turn before finally sliding a hand down to her core, which, to his delight, displayed just how much she was loving his actions. “I think you need more.”

“Mmhmm.” Danielle nodded frantically as her eyes were closed and her lips both gripped between her teeth as she attempted to remain silent.

“Don’t you want more?” He asked, his tone wicked as he teased her by rubbing his index finger’s knuckle around the little nerves on the exterior of her body. “Well?”

“Tom,” His name was equal parts a plea and a warning.

“Well, if you’re not interested.” He pulled back leading Danielle’s eyes to fly open and for her to glare at him in shock. “I’m sorry, is there something you want?” He grinned wickedly.

“Please?”

“Please what my darling?”

“Please Tom.”

“Please what?” He repeated. Frustrated, Danielle got off the counter and started to pick up her clothes. “Now, where do you think you are going?” His voice was threatening, more akin to Thomas Sharpe than Thomas Hiddleston in its tone.

“If you won’t give me what I want,” she growled through clenched teeth, but the glint in her eye informed him she was doing it with the sole purpose of getting him as worked up as she was.

Tom, knowing it was just her teasing, took her ruined clothes and tossed them towards the utility room. “We’re not done.”

“Really?” Danielle challenged with a brow raised, “Says who?”

“You. You are so ready for me, you seem to have a little glistening on your thighs.” Looking down, Danielle realised that it was true, Tom had riled her up enough that she had become so wet it was starting to be apparent both inside her body and outside of it. “I cannot possibly leave you like that, can I?”

“Absolutely not.”

“I will have to rectify it immediately, so I suggest, Ms Hughes, that you get comfortable.” Looking at him for a moment, she pursed her lips and turned around, going on her tip-toes so to rub her ass against his groin, his cock jolting slightly at the feel of her flesh against it. Looking around slyly, she waited for his next move. “You little minx.” Tom chuckled as he leant her forward. “Hands on the counter,” He ordered before taking hold of himself and directing himself to her damp opening. “Are you sure you want it like this?” He double checked, having never done such a position with her before.

“Fuck, Tom, don’t you dare continue to tease me now.” She barked, leaning back slightly so to get the head into her, “Yes.” It came out more as a hiss, but seeing that it was what she wanted, Tom pushed forward until he was fully seated within her, Danielle giving a lustful moan as he did. When he paused for a moment, she turned her head to look at him, only to see him staring down at her, somewhat shocked. “What?”

“You are actually a little minx behind it all, aren’t you?”

“What?”

“You...I never thought…”

“Well you thought wrong, now fuck me,” she ordered. As though snapping out of his little momentary daze, Tom took hold of her hips and slowly pulled back before pressing forward again, slowly increasing his pace every time he did so, noticing how every time he bottomed out, Danielle seemed to become even wetter and moan more, all too soon, the room was only filled with the wet sound of skin slapping against skin and their moans of pleasure. “Fuck yes.”

Tom leant his body over hers and slid one hand to her breast while the other gripped the counter next to hers, his longer torso meant that he was able to kiss and bite along her neck before nipping the shell of her ear. “You like this, darling?”

“Fuck yes,” Danielle had to concentrate to even speak, he was rubbing her insides perfectly with each stroke, every time he moved, he rubbed over the pleasure spot that allowed her to get closer and closer to her end. “Fuck, Tom, please.”

Tom’s reaction was to nip her ear and slide his hand that had been teasing her breast down to her core to help her to her peak. “Yes, so close Elle, so fucking good.” With the added stimulation, Danielle took only moments to completely lose herself to her orgasm, gasping and moaning Tom’s name as her body shook, allowing Tom to hasten his movements before coming to his own completion, grunting as he did so and flooding her already drenched core. “Fuck, that was incredible.” He gasped out between deep breaths as they came down from their highs. “More of that.”

“Definitely.” Danielle grinned as she turned back towards him.

“How do you…?”

Danielle stopped smiling for a moment and turned her head as much as she could with him still leaning over her, “I have not done it like that before if that’s what you’re asking, for the record, women talk and magazines have suggestions.”

“I wasn’t…” Tom thought through his words carefully. “I just wanted to know.”

“Well, I was reading a Cosmo on set one day because I was bored and it was raining and I was seeking shelter in the make-up trailer and read it there, I thought it sounded fun and well, you are my boyfriend, so...” Danielle stated as finally, Tom’s length slipped from her body, and knowing it would soon be followed by their combined juices, she rushed to the utility room, grabbing her ruined clothes on the way.

“Elle,” Tom rushed over to the door, “I’m sorry, I wasn't trying to imply anything.”

She opened the door and popped her head around. “I know.”

“Then why did you run into the utility room?”

“Because of something I don’t want to discuss.” She replied as she closed the door over slightly again.

“Elle, I…”

“Okay, you want to know why Tom, because right now, your cum is trickling down my leg and I don’t know about you, but that is not something I believe should be trailed around the kitchen.” She answered sharply.

“Fair enough,” Tom conceded. “Do you...eh, do you need some kitchen towel?”

“Seriously, you are freaked out by that? It’s your semen.”

“I just never…”

“Of course not, you’re male.” Danielle laughed as she came back into view with clean clothes on and a shirt and pants belonging to Tom. “Now give me your other clothes.”

“Right.” Tom turned around and did as requested. “So, women's magazines have that in them?”

“Yes,” Danielle laughed. “What, you think it’s all makeup tutorials? They go through different positions and pros and cons, though they should add that one isn’t great for people with over a height difference of six inches, I won’t be able to tiptoe for a day or two.”

“I had to squat slightly,” Tom admitted. “But for the record, that was incredible.”

“Yes, we need more of that. By the way, I thought I heard your phone going off while we were otherwise occupied.”

Tom frowned, having heard nothing, but walked over to his phone. “It’s Luke, he wants to know if we are still going tomorrow.” He looked at Danielle for her response. “Are you up for it?”

“Didn’t I just show you, I’m up for most anything?” she winked playfully as she took the clothes into the utility room, grinning, Tom texted his friend back, confirming them for the party.

Chapter Text

“Tom?” Danielle knocked on the door of Tom’s study before entering. When she walked in she was welcomed to the sight of him pacing frantically, repeating a line over and over in different tones, trying to find the right timbre to give it the emotion he wished to convey. He did not seem to notice her for a minute but stopped and looked at her as soon as he did. “You need some lunch.”

“I will, at one or half past.”

“It’s two o’clock, Tom.”

“Shit.” He rubbed his hands over his face. “I don’t have time to go down and…”

Danielle left the room for only a moment before returning with a tray that had soup, a salad, two bottles of water, a teapot covered in a tea cosy and a cup with milk. “I know, so I brought it to you, read over lines, add notes and eat.” She ordered.

Tom’s frustration dissipated as he looked at the meal she had prepared for him, his grimace became a smile and he walked over to her and kissed her. “Thank you.”

“I told you, I would help keep you on track when we are both here.”

“I love you so much, Elle,” He kissed her again. “You’re never allowed leave.”

Danielle smiled before laughing. “Are you going to tie me up and forbid me from leaving?”

“That sounds like fun.” Tom grinned back before looking at her clothes. “You got changed, are you going somewhere?”

“I was going to meet Sophie for a while in Camden.”

Tom gave her another kiss. “But what if you are spotted?”

“Well then, when we become public I am sure someone will accuse Sophie of getting me to ensnare you and together we will rule the two boyfriends of the internet, Mwahahahahaha.” Danielle lasted only a moment before she erupted in giggles, Tom joining her immediately after. “But no, Ben’s not there either, he’s spending daddy-son time with Christopher, so no one will care and if they do see us it will be ‘Sophie Hunter and Friend’.”

“In that case, have a wonderful time, we are leaving for Luke’s at eight.”

“I plan on being home to cook a meal before we go.”

“Well, how about I have something ready for six?”

“How about I tell you I love you, but that I know you’ll be too engrossed in this so I will be home at five to cook?” Danielle retorted.

“Meany.”

“You know it’s true.”

“Well hurry along, every minute with me is wasting time you could spend with Sophie, are you driving?”

 

“I’ll get the Tube, quicker than finding parking. Text me if you need me to pick anything up.”

“Basil.”

“You’ve got it Sweet Cheeks, don’t work too hard.”

“No promises, have fun, Elle.”

*

“Hello, stranger.” Elle hugged Sophie as best she could with a baby belly in the way. “I was bold.”

“Do not tell me those are for my son.” Sophie scolded as she looked at the baby boutique bags in Danielle’s hand.

“No.” There was a sceptical look on Sophie’s face. “Some are for bubble.”

“Elle!”

“I’m sorry, they were too cute.”

“We don’t know what we’re having.”

“They’re neutral, come on. I have no nieces and nephews, let me spoil your kids.”

“You’re terrible.”

“I know and I’m not even remotely sorry.” Danielle shrugged, earning an eye roll from Sophie. “So, how was Christmas?”

“Tiring. Thankfully Christopher hasn’t grasped it all yet, but he’s teething, so we were up half the night anyway.”

“Ooh, not nice.”

“Ben tried to let me get some sleep, but I can’t get comfortable so I was tossing and waking every time Kit was groaning.”

“There’s no winning, meds aren’t the answer, but they are so small it hurts them so much.” Danielle nodded sympathetically.

“Exactly, you seem to get it more than people with kids, all they keep saying is ‘try this’ and ‘try that’ and getting offended if it doesn’t work.”

“Saying that it worked for them so you either did it wrong, are calling them a liar or saying they don’t know what they are talking about.” Danielle finished.

“THANK YOU!” Sophie caused a few people to jump with her half shout. “Finally, someone who gets it.” She sighed, “I’m sorry, I am just unloading, I am so much stress and hormones some days and Ben is as tired, if not more with work.”

“First of all, you are allowed get annoyed, and secondly, give me learning lines over carrying a human being in my stomach, that shit is never easy.”

Sophie frowned. “How are you getting this more than most parents do, you don’t even have nephews and nieces.”

“Because I am able to see from the outside looking in,” Danielle shrugged. “So, what plans have you for tonight?”

“Dinner, then sleep.”

“Good plan.”

“Tim and Wanda are stealing Christopher for the night, I think Ben called hem to ask them for a night’s peace, I am not complaining. I need one good night’s sleep and I will be back to myself a bit, right now I feel like I am on the verge of erupting from tiredness.”

“So another coconut slice then?” Danielle offered.

“Fuck it.” Sophie turned to get out of the chair.

“Don’t you dare get up, I’ll get it, you cherish your decaf tea,” Danielle ordered going to the counter to retrieve the last slice of the cake for her friend. “There you are.”

“What happened your hand?” Sophie had not realised with the longer sleeves that Danielle was sporting a wrist brace.

“Fell off a bike on Christmas Eve.” Danielle dismissed. “Small tiny fracture.”

“Not fun, how did Tom react?”

“Like I was base jumping, no he was scared because my phone was broken in the fall so it took hours for him to be told what happened me.”

“Poor Tom.”

“Came to the hospital to bust me out, they wanted to keep me in because they thought I might have a concussion, but he demanded I come home, didn’t leave me do anything too strenuous all Christmas.”

“Of course not. So what are your plans for tonight?”

“Going to a party that Luke is insisting on having, though, between you and me, I think that’s his way of having all his clients in one place and not making a show of themselves in public.” Danielle smiled.

“You might not be wrong there. Have you something to wear?”

“Stop, Tom found this thing in my wardrobe I should never have bought and begged me to bring it.”

“Wait, you owned it?”

“Yes, I bought it a few years ago, I have no idea why.”

“Right, sorry, for a second I thought he was forcing you to wear something he got from somewhere, my brain is frazzled.”

“Jesus no, I don’t think Tom would ever do such a thing.”

“Do you want to wear it?”

“It’s very...not me.”

“How so?”

“Well, look at me, I am plaid shirts and jeans, not dresses.”

“So you can’t have both? You never were a girlie girl, were you?”

“We lived in the countryside, I had horses and helped my dad on the holidays with calves and testing and all that, what do you think?” Danielle laughed.

“Zara Phillips works with horses and look at her life.”

“Who?” Danielle stared blankly at Sophie, having no idea who she was talking about.

“Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Anne’s Daughter.” Danielle shook her head to indicate she had no idea who that was. “I forget you guys don’t know anything about our Royal Family.”

“Don’t know, don’t care.” Danielle dismissed. “If it doesn’t affect my daily life, not interested. I only have enough energy to look after me and mine, after that, not interested.”

“Good way to be.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Tom and I have this thing planned with Luke, if we get a chance, we are going to release this ourselves, including all about me.”

“A great idea.” Sophie smiled. “Sort of like our engagement announcement.”

“Minus a baby for us.”

“Would you want that some day?”

“What?”

“Marriage, children?”

“Perhaps,” She answered first before smiling. “Yes. Why?”

“Nothing, curious, you were so good with Christopher.” Sophie smiled. “So, the question?”

“How do you prepare for it. I mean, meeting all these people he works with. I know you have your own name, but Theatre and Opera Director sounds so much fancier than me, I mean…”

Sophie put her hand up. “I am going to stop you there.” She declared. “Tom doesn’t care for that, you are enough as you are, you are everything he wants as you are. You were enough when you were a paramedic, something that actually matters. If films stop happening in the morning, if they are banned, who, out of the two of you, hell, the four of us, has an actual profession? You saved how many lives, that is amazing.” Danielle simply dismissed it. “Honestly, you will hold your own, if those people think less of you for your job, then they are just petty pricks, a film cannot go ahead without someone making sure the damn thing is safe, you are the reason we will no doubt have more dragons and battles soon.” There was an expectant grin on her face.

“I am not telling you anything,” Danielle stated. “I had an NDA the size of a small country rammed down my throat, besides, I am more into the books, though I got them signed by Martin, that was pretty cool, he was there one day.”

“Wow, that is something.”

“I may have fangirled slightly.”

“Doesn’t everyone when they meet a particular person?” Sophie smiled. “I needed this.”

“You know where I am.” Danielle smiled. “I am off now until February.”

“I thought you had another job coming up?”

“My hand means no job, I was going to apply for another one but I decided to further myself before starting the next job at the end of February.”

“Anyone that belittles you does it because they are envious of your hard work, your fortitude and strong nature. Be yourself, Danielle, don’t let them beat you down, and remember, Tom wanted a strong fiery woman, show them why you are that woman.” She grinned.

“I will.”

“No better woman for the job.”

*

 

Danielle smiled to herself as she walked through Camden back to the Tube station. She thought about the shoes she had chosen for the dress Tom had chosen and groaned, she knew it was going to pinch and after a couple hours that was going to be a form of torture, passing one of the shops, she paused and looked at the shoes in the window.

“Danni?” Recognising the voice, she turned around to beam happily at the women walking towards her. “I knew it was you.”

“Nacelle,” She smiled, going to hug the other woman. “How are you?”

“Great, how was your Christmas?”

“Wonderful, how about you?”

“Great,” She turned to the woman next to her, “This is Becky, by the way; my fiance.”

“Fi...ah, you asked?”

“Wait, you planned to ask me?” The other woman asked.

“Yes,” Nacelle admitted.

“Wait, you asked Nacelle?”

“Yes, and she jumped out of the chair.” Becky smiled.

“I am so happy for you both, congratulations.” Danielle gave Nacelle another hug before Becky came in for one too.

“So you and Tommy boy better be free on June 22.”

“I can’t promise Tom, but I will make sure I am.”

“Why? Is everything alright with you and Mr Promotions?” Nacelle asked.

“Yes, it’s just that he sort of has to travel a lot for work so it is hard for him to get to a lot of events, and it is not always pre-booked, so I can’t say if he is free yet or not.” She explained. “I swear, he does exist,” she added laughing.

“I’m getting sceptical,” Nacelle joked. “So what has you in London for New Years?”

“Tom, we are going to a party tonight but I had to meet one of the girls for a late lunch, now I am looking in closed shops cursing the shoes I chose for tonight.”

“Pinchy?” Becky guessed.

“And high, he’s six foot one so I thought, you know, try and not look like a dwarf next to him.” both other women erupted in laughter.

“Wait, what time are you going at?”

“Well, I have to get dinner sorted for six if I ever want to get some way cleaned up.”

“And the party is at what?”

“Nine.”

“Where is it?”

“Some place called The Trinity Club.” the other two women stared at her. “What?”

“The Trinity Club, in Mayfair?”

“I think that’s where it is, why?” Her phone went off, causing her to read the text. “Tom’s cooking dinner.”

“Okay then, come on.” Nacelle half dragged her down the street.

“What, what are you doing?”

“You cannot go to a party at the Fucking Trinity Club looking like a hobo.”

“I don’t look like a hobo.” Danielle looked herself up and down.

“No, but there, if you are not perfect, you will be classed one, that is one of the best spots in London, how the hell did you get dragged into that?”

“It’s to do with Tom’s ‘sort of’ boss.”

“Seriously, is he in charge of Disney or something, because that is seriously cool,” Becky asked as they walked to a small building, before taking out her keys and opening the door.

“Sadly not, if he was, I would live there.” She smiled before looking at the open door.

“Relax, we are not going to steal you, I am going to do your makeup.”

“Nach,” Danielle shook her head. “No, it’s your holidays.”

“Girl, if you are going to the Trinity Club, you are going to be my business card, because these people can pay serious money for makeup.” Nacelle explained.

She was going to argue but seeing as it made sense, she conceded, after all, Nacelle was the best she knew, anything that made her look better for the party was a plus in her opinion. She sat in the chair and did as ordered.

“So, where are you staying?” Nacelle asked as she started the contouring after getting Danielle to wash her face.

“I...I moved in with Tom over Christmas.” the makeup artist stopped working and stared at her, “It was one of my gifts, a key to his place.”

“Didn’t I say you would be giving him the promotion?” Nacelle laughed. “You two will be married, wait and see, and have gorgeous little sassy babies with mummy’s sassy attitude.”

“Or Tom’s gentle nature.”

“He’s quiet?”

“Can be, he has two personas, the introvert at home and the extrovert for work.”

“I see it all the time with actors.” Nacelle agreed. “What colour is this dress by the way?”

“Midnight Blue, silver court-type shoes,” Danielle explained.

“That’ll suit your complexion and dark hair.” Nacelle nodded. “What are you going to do with your hair?”

“Let it down, maybe straighten it,” Danielle stated plainly, but Nacelle stared at her. “What?”

“Becky, love, get your straighteners.” She called to her fiance, who had gone to the bedroom to get changed. “Put it to two hundred.”

“I’ll just straighten it when I get home.” Danielle dismissed.

“Straighten? Danni straight doesn’t work with what I am doing to you. Is the dress sexy?”

“I guess.”

“Okay, sate my curiosity, will you have to attend the likes of this again in the future, business get-togethers and whatnot?”

“Yes.”

“Well, in that case, Becky and I are bringing you shopping next week to sort your wardrobe issues, you clearly need some help, because you are out of your depth.” Nacelle commented.

“I am not.”

“Danni, you have no idea if what you are wearing is sexy, no offence pet, but you are clearly not a girlie girl, and that is fine, not every woman is, but it means for the poshies, you need help.” Danielle bit her lip in embarrassment. “I am not trying to hurt your feelings Danni did your mum…?”

“My mam was sixty when I was a teenager. I was a surprise, so…”

“She was not much help.” Nacelle finished. “Well, that’s where it’s our duty as women to help you through girliness.” Danielle smiled slightly. “Becky.”

“Got it.” Becky came over, changed into her sweatpants and hoodie, smiling as her fiance worked on Danielle’s makeup.

“I thought you were a solicitor?” Danielle frowned, watching the ease that Becky had giving her ghd curls.

“I am, but I also know how to look good.” Becky laughed. “I’ve been on enough sets with Nach, she is close to hair people, they thought me a few tricks.”

“You should go into the caravan more often, they will give you a few tips.”

“Not everyone is as friendly as you,” Danielle commented.

“True,” Nacelle conceded, “Close your eyes.” Danielle obeyed. “But most want to show off how good they are.”

“Your home is so you, by the way,” Danielle commented as the other women worked.

“Aw, thank you.” Nacelle smiled proudly. “Yes, it suits us and Nero.”

“Nero?”

“Our cat,” Becky stated. “He’s asleep on the bed inside and rules the house.”

“They usually do.” Danielle smiled.

“Right, so how far do you have to go after this?”

“Just two stops on the Tube.”

“North or South?” Nacelle eyed her carefully.

“North.”

“Where are you living?”

“Belsize.” Danielle knew what was coming next.

“The Trinity Club, Belsize, Danni, you are living large.”

“Not me, Tom.”

“He asked you to move in with him, didn’t he, so you are part of that society now,” She teased.

Danielle stuck her tongue out. Nacelle never cared who was related to who, associated with who or how much they were worth, she was wealthy enough in her own right, she was highly coveted in her field, and Becky was hard working also, so she had liked Nacelle, and knew that she could actually tell her who exactly Tom was and know the other woman would not care for who he was, but that he cared for her. When she and Becky had finished, they showed Danielle what they had done, “Oh my, God. I don’t look like me.” She stared at her reflection. “Nacelle, you are insanely brilliant.”

“I know, I know.” Nacelle fanned herself.

“What time is it?”

“Ten to six,” Becky answered, looking at her watch.

“Shit, I really need to get home, and get basil.”

“Okay, look.” Nacelle went to the kitchen and grabbed a plant. “There’s the basil and we’ll drive you.”

“You don’t…”

“Girl, I have spent the last forty minutes doing you up, hair and all, so you better believe I am not letting you out of my home to get blustered up on a train,” Nacelle argued.

“I can’t believe you are giving me a plant.”

“Shut up and let me scope out your man’s house,” Nacelle ordered, shooing her to the door.

“Thank you, Nach.”

“June 22nd, don’t pretend I didn’t tell you.” She smiled.

“Oh, that’s a given.” Danielle winked.

It did not take long to get to Tom’s house and Danielle could sense the women looking at the structure from outside the tall gates. “Danni?”

“Yes?”

“He’s not a crime guy, is he?”

Danielle laughed, “He is not in crime, he is just good at what he does and wanted a nice house.”

“Well in that case, if we ever have a dinner date, we are so coming here.”

“How about when you are finished your next big job?”

“Deal, I’ll hold you to it, Danni.”

“Good, you have my number, thank you for everything Nach.” She smiled having gotten out of the car and looking in the window at Nacelle in the passenger seat.

“Anytime, I…” Nacelle ceased talking as the gate was half opened and Tom came out smiling at Danielle. “Wait your Tom is Tom Hiddleston?”

“He is,” Danielle stated nervously.

“Why did you say he was in promotions?” Nacelle seemed half hurt.

“Because he is, sort of. I didn’t want to say he was an actor on set, everyone gets nosy.”

“She’s got a point.” Becky conceded.

Tom was still looking at the car. “He is so confused.” Danielle giggled.

Nacelle opened her door and got out. “Hello, I’m Nacelle.” She stated confidently as she walked over to the actor, her hand extended.

“Nacelle, the makeup artist?” Tom smiled back.

“You told him about me?” Nacelle smiled to Danielle.

“Of course.” She smiled back walking over to Tom who looked at her in awe. “Nacelle found me in the street and demanded to attack me with makeup.”

“You look very beautiful,” Tom smiled honestly. “Nacelle, thank you for everything, she is, of course, beautiful regardless, but you know how Elle is with these things, she is so knowledgeable about the world of information, but her weakness is makeup.”

“She tries, but bless her, she is not good with these things, she had to have one fault.”

Danielle rolled her eyes but nodded in acknowledgement. “I was saying that Nacelle and her fiance should come for dinner sometime.”

“Definitely, whenever suits,” Tom smiled, “Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”

“We better not tonight, you two have places to be. With regards dinner, I am busy with work for a bit, as I guess you guys are, so let me know when you are around and I will let you know when Becky and I are free and we can arrange something.” Nacelle grinned. “Remember, shopping next week.”

“Oh Jesus, I thought you were messing.”

 

“I'm as serious as a heart attack, I am sexing you up, especially when it involves this man and his industry, I got you covered.”

“As long as I remain covered,” Danielle demanded.

“With your breasts…”

“Becky, get her home, now,” Danielle ordered as Becky, Tom and Nacelle laughed. “I am going in, it is about to start raining and I will puff like a poodle.”

 

“Go, show my masterpiece to the aristocracy.” Nacelle smiled giving her a hug. “You did good Danni.”

“I beg to differ, I think it was I that struck luck.” Tom smiled looking at her before looking to the plant Becky was passing out to them, smiling from the driver’s seat. “Is that…?”

“You said we needed basil.” Danielle shrugged earning a confused laugh from Tom as he took it.

“We do, we better get inside and start eating, ladies, thank you so kindly for all your beautiful work and for getting Elle home safely; I cannot wait to see you both again so that I can get to know you better.”

“Likewise Mr Hiddleston,” Nacelle smiled. “So long as you don’t mind us stealing her for a day’s shopping?”

“Not at all, I am sure as much as she will grouse about the shopping, Elle will love it.”

“You know, Elle suits you better than Danni,” Becky commented from the car.

“That’s his fault.” Danielle pointed to Tom.

“It suits, guess you’re Elle now.” Nacelle laughed getting into the car, “Enjoy the prosecco and caviar.”

Tom and Danielle waved as the car left. “You came out?”

“Well when you text to say you had a slight change of plan I was concerned, curious and excited.”Tom explained, “When you said you bumped into another friend, I wanted to say hello.”

“What if they couldn’t be trusted?”

“You told me about Nacelle before, so when you texted you were with her, I was going on what you said, and you were right, she is completely unfazed.”

“A unique situation.”

“Very much so, come on, dinner is on the table and then we need to get dressed.” He placed his hand gently at the base of Danielle’s back as they headed back inside.

Chapter Text

 

Luke had sent a town car to pick hem up, which in itself made Danielle groan, but Tom stated it was how Luke did things, as so many declare they were not drinking at events only to have to be forced to get a taxi home, or worse, take convincing to do so after first declaring they would drive.

“Besides, you always say you won’t drive my car.”

“I could drive mine?”

“Elle, get in the car, it’s safer and you know it.” She finally conceded. The streets went by swiftly enough and Danielle was forced to admit after a time that it had its perks. Tom had her hand in his and was looking at her, smiling the whole time. “Darling, I know I have said it already, but you look ravishing.” He smiled.

 

Danielle rolled her eyes, “Yes, you have, in fact, I think that is the seventh time you’ve said it.”

“Do you believe it yet?”

“No.”

“Then I will just have to continue saying it.” He leant over and kissed her, chastely at first before becoming slightly more amorous.

“Tom!” she whispered looking towards the driver for a moment, “No.”

“He is not paying any attention to us darling, besides, I can guarantee there has been far worse than some kissing and slight...petting in here before.”

“Why, are you well acquainted with this particular vehicle?” She queried with a raised brow.

 

“If you keep giving me such glances, I may very much get acquainted with it,” Tom smirked. “But in all honesty, you look incredible.”

“I feel like I am setting a standard here I cannot maintain.”

Tom brought her hand to his lips and gently kissed it. “Elle, at home, I want you to be comfortable and yourself, and I know that means normal clothes and tying your hair back in a manner that I can only call organised chaos, but I would be lying if I did not admit that this is, without doubt, the most incredible sight I have ever seen.” He looked her up and down again.

 

“Will Luke approve?”

Tom frowned. “Is that why you did this? So my publicist would be happy?”


“No,” Danielle played with her hands. “I don’t want to embarrass you.”

Tom said nothing for a moment before taking off his seatbelt and leaning forward. “Could you pull in please?” he asked the driver, who immediately did as requested.


“Tom?” Danielle looked at him in worry. “Did I say something wrong?”

Tom swallowed and a pained look came to his face, turning to face Danielle properly, he took her hands in his once more. “Elle, are you doing all of this, just for me? Are you making yourself unhappy for me?”

“But I’m not unhappy?”

 

“Why did you want to come tonight?”

“Because I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with you.” she answered as though it was obvious.

 

“Which would you have preferred, the party or at home?”

“Probably to stay at home,” She admitted, “But I want to do this.” He said nothing but looked at her sceptically. “Like when we had the dinner in the house, this is a controlled environment, there are far more people, and I am not stupid, I know I won’t gel with them all, but no cameras, no screaming fans, just an environment that Luke is controlling, and he will ensure it is safe, I trust that, so I want to get myself able for this, I want to be as good as I can at this, see how far I am actually comfortable with.”

“And if this is as far as you can do; private events?”

“Is that enough for you?” Danielle asked fearfully.

 

“Elle, if you said to me after this that this was too much, I would respect that, I know that you do not want to be in this world, and the fact you are working so hard to be alright with it and work on it is not lost on me,” He kissed her hand again. “I don’t want to make you feel like you have to change yourself for me.”

“I had this dress for two years, it’s not like you bought it and expected me to wear it,” she pointed out.

 

“What made it appeal to you?” Tom asked curiously.

 

“It was really pretty, and on sale.”  Tom laughed. “Yeah, so I thought, maybe someday, I might find somewhere to wear it to.”

“Like today?”

“Yeah.” She smiled. “I know I don’t dress like this, I am not glamorous, but I am a normal person, I do want to look nice; I just don’t know how most of the time.”

“Well Nacelle is going to help you, and if she does fashion like she does makeup, you will figure it out. She strikes me as one that would take into account individuality, she is very…”

“Unique?”

“No, that makes her sound odd, I was going to say true to herself, though her fiance…”

 

“Poor Becky had been in fancy clothes but changed when she got home to comfy, she is a solicitor so she probably felt slobbish in her trackies. That was my first time meeting her, she is not as eccentric as Nach, but she is really nice.”

“I am so glad you have friends in London.”

“I have Sophie and Emma too.”

“Yes, I know, it’s great you have a few, but you need to have people you can get away from me with too, being in a situation where the only people you know are related to or know through me is not ideal.” Tom pointed out before his face turned somewhat upset. “Not that I am saying I do not wish for us to…”

Danielle laughed, “I know what you mean, I need to have people that are my friends, that are mine and you are the interloper for a change.”

“I am actually looking forward to having them for dinner.”

“You just love meeting people, you’re like a Springer Spaniel or something.” Danielle laughed. “But yes, it will be fun introducing you to my friends and me having stories with them that you have to be filled on.” She smiled. “So, now that we are all up to speed on why we are doing this, can we head on now, I don’t want us to be late.”

 

“You will never embarrass me, Elle,” Tom stated factually. “Never.”

“Intentionally.” Danielle pointed out. “I am human, I do fuck up.”

“Everyone is human Elle, I am terrified of the day where people on the internet actually realise that I am too.”

“I won’t have to fight off all the crazy fangirls and boys with sticks then.” Danielle’s tone was upbeat causing Tom to chuckle. “I’ll still be here, I already know you’re a flawed ass.”

“I thought you liked my ass.”

“Tom, I said you are a flawed ass, not that you have one, damn big difference there!” Danielle laughed. “Now tell the poor man to keep driving, he surely has something better to be doing than staring at the road ahead bored out of his tree.”

 

*

Luke stared as they walked into the room, Tom immediately walked over and gave his friend/publicist a hug. “Well?” He grinned knowingly.

 

“I swear if you two go messing while you’re here,” Luke warned.

 

“I promise I will behave myself,” Tom swore.

“I don’t believe you.” Luke scoffed before turning to Danielle, who could not hear what was being said and was looking at Luke anxiously. “That is what I was talking about, perfect.” He smiled before giving her a hug. Even he could sense the sheer relief that Danielle felt at his approval, her whole body slumping slightly as though a huge weight had been taking from her. “Elegant, just the right amount of sexy, who chose this?”

“I did, I’ve had it awhile, or did Tom technically choose it, he asked me to wear it, but I had it all along.” Danielle smiled.

 

Luke looked at the clothes again. “You own this?” She nodded. “This is going to be far easier than I thought, you have very good taste.” Danielle smiled even more at that. “So, enjoy yourselves and no doubt we will be talking again through the evening.” With that, Tom placed his hand on Danielle’s back and edged her away as Luke dealt with more guests.

 

“Are you alright?” Tom asked curiously.

 

“Yes, I know you would never want me to look bad, but I just was so worried he’d get angry that I was too, I don’t know.”  

 

“Well, if you are comfortable, then let everyone else be damned, let’s go say hello to some people and get ourselves a drink.” Tom smiled as he guided her through the busy room to the bar, “What are you having?”

“7-up.” Tom frowned, “I am not starting any alcohol this early and that looks like I am having a gin and tonic or a vodka and white.” She explained.

 

“That is a very smart idea.”  Tom commended, he ordered them both a drink and waited. When he turned again, he gave her her drink. “It’s a Sprite, they don’t have 7-up.”

“This is supposed to be the fanciest place in these parts and no 7-up? Disgraceful.” Danielle took the drink, “Next thing, they have only got Pepsi!”

 

“You are a woman of fine tastes.” Tom jested, earning him a wink from his girlfriend before he turned and looked around. “Who’s here?”

“You know these people better than I do.” Danielle laughed.

 

They spoke to a few people Tom knew through being clients of Luke’s, others were there as prospective clients Luke was trying to lure as well as those trying to convince him to be their publicist. Since starting Prosper PR and bringing Tom and Emma with him, Luke had become the most coveted publicist the East side of the Atlantic Ocean. Most people seemed utterly indifferent to Danielle while fawning over Tom, which she had expected, though the looks of disgust in some women’s eyes amused her slightly. While Tom was polite and looked at them while he spoke, his arm remained around Danielle, making sure she was by his side for the entirety of the evening, something he had promised her he would do.

 

After two hours and four soft drinks later, Danielle had to use the bathroom, as Tom spoke with some, had he said he was a model, she wasn’t sure, there had been so many faces, they had all merged into one, she simply pointed toward the restrooms before turning and leaving Tom to speak with him.

 

Assessing herself in the bathroom, Danielle could not control her smile, Nacelle and Becky had done a perfect job with only a vague description of her dress, which she found herself elated that Tom had chosen. While she was in the cubicle, she heard someone enter the bathroom, and heading to the next stall and soon after, another. Feeling self-conscious, she remained in her cubicle.

 

“Seriously, Tanya, he is perfect, exactly what I need, you can see why she used him for the PR, well spoken, charming, I mean, he has a receding hairline, but let’s face it, he’s pushing on.” The woman yabbered. “He’s wearing a tight fitting suit so you can see what she saw in him.” Danielle went from suspecting to knowing exactly who this woman was referencing and waited. “Yeah, I know, I sent Jenny over, she’s some set-hand, obviously just after his money or you know the deal, struggling actress trying to get her name out or his PR guy wants to make him look good.” the tone the girl used was ridiculous and dramatic before she laughed. “She is so ordinary, short, plain, could lose twenty pounds. I am going to go over and show him what he could have, seriously, she is so plain I bet she’s never even done anything as ‘wild’ as a blowjob. One of those ones, I bet his mother would adore her, so prissy. Okay, love you. No, I won’t have to tell you because I will make sure it is all over the tabloids tomorrow, bye.” She hung up the phone and Danielle waited, after a few seconds she found herself shaking her head as she heard the telltale signs of someone snorting something. She didn’t have to be a paramedic in a city to know that sound.

 

A moment later, Danielle came out of her cubicle and went to wash her hands. She shook her head before turning to check herself in the mirror again, she was shaking slightly but otherwise unfazed, it was then the other stall door opened.


“Are you not upset?” The other woman asked as she went to wash her hands.

“Angry, sickened, enraged, pissed off, yes, those I am, but upset?” She shook her head. “No.”

 

“Her name is Annabelle Collins, she’s a model.” Emma Watson informed her.

“A model of everything that is wrong with our gender I fear,” Danielle stated, checking her face again.

 

“Don’t let it get to you.”

“I have no intentions.” Danielle scoffed. “How are you? Excited for the movie, I see it is getting great buzz already.”

 

“Good, I mean, it is weird, it is completely the same but totally different to the animated film.”

“Hence the buzz, I can’t wait to see it, I am already planning to steal Tom’s niece so I have an excuse to see it a second time.”

“Second Time?”

“Well, once by myself, no one will notice me, more than once looks sort of weird.” Danielle joked for a moment before her face fell again.

 

Emma laughed before getting serious. “She’s just jealous you know, I heard her earlier, she thought she had a chance until he came in looking at only you, I never realised when we worked together you knew him, much less were dating him. By the way, where did you get that dress, I want it.”

“I got it a few years ago, Tom pleaded with me to finally let it see the light of day.” Danielle smiled. “I wish I could pull off suits like you can, I always look frumpy.”

“You are too hard on yourself, you could, of course, pull it off.” She dismissed as they walked to the door. As they walked back outside, Danielle’s gaze fell to Tom, who was still speaking with the man from earlier.


Danielle smiled, “Have you said hello to Tom yet tonight?”

 

“No, not yet.”

“Care to join me?”

Emma gave Danielle one small glance before nodding. “I might actually.”

“Wonderful.” Danielle immediate began to head over to where her boyfriend was standing, the man walking away as they made their way over. “Hey.”

 

“I was beginning to think you’d abandoned me, Emma, how are you?” Tom moved forward and kissed Emma’s cheek before the pair launched into a discussion on their work, after a while, Emma said her farewells and Tom turned to Danielle. “I am not ignoring you, am I?”

“No, you are including me, I just haven’t got much to add to these conversations.” She stated.

 

“Hey, are you alright?” Tom noticed something in her eyes.


“Yeah, fine. Do you want a drink?” She smiled.

 

Unsure if he should believe her or not, Tom decided he had to trust her to say if she was uncomfortable. “Yes, I may have a Jameson.”

“Neat?”

“With ice.”

“Sure thing.”

 

“I will go to the bathroom, I will be back in two.” He kissed her temple before walking off.

 

Walking to the bar, Danielle looked around, wondering which bratty cow was the Annabelle that had been so horrible about her and Tom, no woman had introduced herself as such in the time that she and Tom had been talking. Sighing, she sat on a stool for a minute to alleviate her pained feet. “Can I ask you something?”Danielle looked to her side to see a man standing there, so nodded, tired from everything. “How did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Convince Tom Hiddleston to bring you, I mean, I knew he was not as innocent as he acts, but this is ballsie.”

“I don’t think I get your meaning.”

“Well, bringing an escort…”

Danielle’s nostrils flared as she raised her hand. “I will take the fact I apparently look good enough to be able to sell my company as arm candy for events as a compliment, but I am not an escort.” She stated.

 

“You’re not?” The man seemed somewhat surprised.

“No, I’m not.”

 

“Then why are you here?”

“Solely to baffle you.” She smiled before looking to the barman. “Jameson with ice and a malibu with orange; no ice, please.” She asked politely. Sensing her urgency, the bartender got her drinks and she made to leave.


“So you were not paid to come here tonight?”

Danielle inhaled deeply and turned to look at the man. “No, I was not, but the more I talk to you, the more I wish I was because dealing with you for free is highly taxing,” She stated before turning to leave. “Luke.” She smiled seeing the publicist behind her.

 

“You may actually survive this.”

“What?”

“Turning up looking like you could actually go in public in your clothes as opposed to so many here who probably wear more in the shower, not drinking excessively and dealing with people being viciously cruel with poise and elegance, you are actually everything I said you were, ideal.”

“I don’t…”

“Emma told me about Annabelle Collins.”

“Oh.”

 

“How much did you want to confront her?”

“More than I want to be out of these shoes.”

 

Luke looked down and her clearly sore feet. “But you held it in, and that man, you remained composed, even if you did get some bit cheeky, it was not inappropriate.”

“Some of your clients leave a lot to be desired.”

“Annabelle is not my client, yet.” Luke pointed out. “And now, I doubt she will be if she is willing to risk another one of my clients. How are you doing?”

“I rather not be around egotistical asses, but if that was the case, I wouldn’t have a job.” She smiled as she joked.

 

“I know that feeling.” Luke chuckled. “Are you settling in at Tom’s?”

“Yes, I am somehow getting busier in my time off than I was working.”

“Just make sure Tom looks after himself, he can get neglectful.”

“I had noticed.” She nodded.

 

“Good,” Luke smiled. “That you noticed, not that he is neglecting himself.”

“I gathered.” She winked as Tom came back over and took his drink.

 

“Is everything alright?” Tom asked as he looked between the pair.

 

“Yes, you?” He nodded but did not answer, telling her that no, he was not.

 

“Tom?” Luke asked his friend in concern, Tom had already taken the whiskey from Danielle and downed the amber coloured liqueur in one go. “What is going on?”

 

“Nothing, why?” Tom looked at Luke, his eyes darting side to side.

 

“There appears to be lipstick on your ear.” Danielle pointed out. Immediately, Tom’s hand made its way to his ear, rubbing it before seeing that a red stain was on his fingers. “Tom?”

“Elle, she…”

“Who?” Danielle had an inkling.

 

“I have no idea what her name was, she just came up, shook my hand, said she liked my work and leant in and did it, I pulled back immediately and walked away, I was going to tell you when you got away from the bar, I swear.”

 

Danielle said and did nothing for a few moments, processing what Tom said before inhaling deeply and nodded. “Alright.”

Luke and Tom both looked at her in disbelief. “Wait, that’s it? Another woman supposedly gets lipstick on your boyfriend’s ear and you are saying nothing?”

“No, I trust him,” Danielle stated, looking at Tom, who seemed shocked she had seen his honesty. “Is she still here?”

Tom looked around for a moment before finding his assailant. “The blonde over there.”

Luke and Danielle looked over. “Annabelle Collins,” Luke stated. “Just as Emma said.”

Tom looked at his friend. “Emma?”

Luke between the couple, silently questioning Danielle as to why she had not told Tom about her eavesdropping in the bathroom. “I’ll explain in a moment,” Danielle stated. “Your new friend is on her way over.”

 

Tom realised that indeed, Annabelle was on her way to them, smiling excitedly as she did so, so he stood with his arm around Danielle and kissed her temple again. “I am so sorry.”

“Don’t, we’ll talk in a minute.” She whispered for a moment. “Luke, I’m not going to lie, I cannot promise to be nice.”

 

“I know.” Luke sighed, not knowing what she was going to come out with. “Try to keep it in line.”

“No promises.”

 

The blonde’s smile remained as she came to Luke and her arms extended, “Lukie.” Smiling politely, Luke put out his own arms, not to embrace her, but because she was at risk of falling over. “I have not heard back from you yet, don’t you want me?” It took everything in Danielle for her to not say something regarding how she would wager most everyone would not want the other woman but kept herself reined in. She watched as the drunk girl’s focus fell on Tom. “Ooh, Mr Hiddleston, we meet again.” She half sang, a sly look on her face, before making her way over to Tom to embrace him, who remained next to Danielle, his discomfort obvious in his stance.

“Ms Collins.” he nodded curtly, extending his hand to ensure she could only go for a handshake.


“There is no need for such formalities between us Tom.” She swatted him playfully on the arm with her hand, “I hope for us we get to spend a lot of time together in the future.”

 

“This is Danielle, Danielle, Ms Collins is a...I apologise, what was it again?”

Though there was irritation in her eyes, Annabelle gave a shrill laugh, “Oh you joker,” she stated, swatting his arm again. “You heard me well enough before, I am a model,” she looked Danielle up and down, “You’re the set-monkey, right?”

“Danielle is a Safety Officer, she is in charge of giving sets the okay to be worked on, she is an integral part of the crew,” Tom stated, his tone one of annoyance. “If she says no, no shoot.”

 

Annabelle’s eyes glanced over Danielle again. “Charming.”

“Indeed.” Danielle retorted, her own tone matching Annabelle’s.

 

“I would have thought after ‘The’ Taylor Swift, you would continue going for more famous women,” Annabelle commented before laughing. “Sorry, I apologise, I may have drunk too much.”

 

“Out of curiosity Ms Collins, may I ask you something?” Annabelle stared at Danielle, who took her silence as a means to continue. “Why are you acting drunk when your actions are clearly, and may I add, poorly, put on. Your speech is not slurred, you walked over here with any form of issue, you’re exaggerating your movements, all signs you have not actually drank much, which makes little sense really. Also if you are trying to convince Luke to take you as a client, you should probably not have snorted any more than whatever it was you did not earlier in the bathrooms while bitching myself and ridiculing Tom on the phone.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” The other woman shrieked as she feigned shock.

“I’m sure you don’t,” Danielle stated in a deadpan tone, “but I feel I should tell you, my not being as tall as you means I can see what other’s can’t see and because you are taller, I can tell you that you’ve left powder on your nostril.” she gave a little indication to Annabelle’s nose. “It sort of gives the game away.”

Holding her nose, Annabelle stared at Luke, whose face was one of disgust, then to Tom whose own mirrored his publicists and then fled the trio. “How did you…?” Tom asked curiously.

“Emma Watson and I heard her in the bathrooms earlier. She was planning on dining off your name, but I also heard her snort something, and her eyes are all bloodshot and her hands are shaking slightly, indicating cocaine use, yet as I said, no indicators of alcohol consumption, probably afraid to blow her buzz. It’s scary, she weighs about the same as my lower body and her pulse rate on her neck suggests her heart rate is incredibly high, she’s at risk of cardiac issues in the next hour, much less getting to the faithful tragic twenty-seven.” She explained. “Is a lot of this world like this?”

“Sadly.” Tom nodded.

 

“You’ve never…”

Tom’s eyes widened. “Fuck no, I mean, in college every messes around with different things, but hard drugs, definitely not, no.”

Danielle looked to Luke, “I did my best.” She shrugged.

 

“Better than I was expecting.” He admitted in return.

“Yeah, well.” Danielle downed her drink, before turning to Tom. “More?”

Tom nodded, “Definitely.”

 

The ten-second clock began not long after, Tom immediately putting his arm around Danielle. “I know it’s cheesy and cliche, but they say what you do at midnight is how you start your year.”

“EIGHT, SEVEN.”


“It is what they say.” Danielle smiled.

 

“FIVE, FOUR.”

 

Then, Ms Hughes, may I kiss you?”

 

“TWO.”

 

“Yes,” she leant up towards him.


“ONE.”

 

As the cheers erupted and Auld Lang Syne began to play, Tom kissed her. “I love you, Elle.” 


“And I love you, Tom,” She giggled as she leant up and kissed him again.

 

“So what now?”

“I want to dance.” Tom raised a brow. “With you.”

“Elle, I…”

“Dance like an idiot, I know, I’ve seen and I love.” She laughed. “Let’s go.”

 

Chuckling as the dance music came back on and Tom took her hand and brought her onto the dance floor, where others in different states of drunkenness were already dancing. “Are you sure?”

“Frightened you can’t handle me Hiddles?”

 

“Oh, now that is fighting talk.” Tom chuckled, taking her hand and allowing himself to enjoy the music.           

Chapter Text

Tom Hiddleston dances the year of 2016 away; The Thor actor and ex-beau of Taylor Swift was seen in the exclusive Trinity Club last night, dancing along with a number of other clients of Prosper PR including Emma Watson, who seemed to be enjoying herself, laughing as she and a female friend were caught dancing on camera with the 35-year-old star. Like so many others, 2016 was a year to forget for the Kong actor, who will no doubt be looking forward to bigger and better things in 2017.

Danielle laughed as she looked at the photo, it was grainy, obviously taken on a phone, no paparazzi had been able to get passed Luke’s defences. It was her and Emma dancing with Tom, her back to the photographer, but Emma and Tom’s faces visible, both clearly enjoying themselves. When she saw another face nearby, she erupted in giggles, Luke was face palming, though there was a hint of a smile of resignation on his face as he did so.

“Any world scandal?” Tom asked, rubbing his hair with a towel having just forced himself out for a run to brush away the cobwebs of the night before, then going for a shower on his return.

“No, but we were spotted last night.” She waited for his reaction.

“Did Luke contact you?” Tom rushed over. “How are you feeling?”

“Slightly thirsty, but good. With regards us being seen, you cannot tell it is me and I am being referred to as ‘the female friend of Emma Watson’, we are both dancing with her so…” She showed him the picture in question, which he analysed.

“How do you feel about it?”

“Well I thought there was no way for us to be seen, so I am slightly disappointed by that, but Luke is no doubt the one raging on that front, I, on the other hand, am okay.”

“Really?” He asked hopefully.

“I swear, I am.” She promised, leaning forward and kissing him. As he deepened the kiss, his phone went off and he groaned. “Go, answer it.” She sighed.

Tom walked over. “Mister Cumberbatch, there had better be a good reason you are interrupting a man on New Year's Day.” He growled.

“I cockblocked you, didn’t I?” Ben sounded far too happy with himself in Tom’s opinion. “Are you free today, simple yes or no answer, nothing else.”

“Yes,” Tom stated worriedly.

“Can Danielle hear?”

“No, but nearby.”


“Right, what time suits?”

“One second,” Tom put his hand over the mouthpiece, “Elle, what time are you and Emma going to lunch?” He whispered, not wanting Ben to realise he was talking to her about it.

“Lunchtime.” Danielle grinned, earning a bemused look from Tom. “I am leaving at noon, should be back by three, but I will text before getting on the tube.”She stated, not overly bothered by Tom’s plans, she heard him say he was speaking with Ben, anything more than that she was not overly bothered by if he had something he wanted to share with her, he would.

“She is gone for most of the afternoon.”

“Wait, she won’t be there?”

“No, she is meeting Emma for lunch, that tends to mean they will be gone until the shops close later.”

“Fucking Hallelujah, right, I am coming to yours.”

“Okay, can I ask why?”

“No, you might tell Elle and she might tell my wife, and we cannot tell my wife.”

“Secrets in marriage, really?”

“Fuck off Tom, wait and see, five years from now and two kids and you will be understanding my position, you will be saying. ‘Ben, remember that time…’.”

“Except I have neither a wife or kids.”

“You’re working on it, aren’t you?”

“Ben, I am a little tired and a little hungover, so not today.”

“Hungover, wait, why were you drinking?”

“Because I am over the age of eighteen and was at a party last night.”

“You left Danielle alone to go to a party?”

“No, she was there too.”

“How did you convince her to go to that?”

Tom sighed and rubbed his hand over his eyes, “I asked her if she wanted to go and she did.”

“And, how did it go?”

“Great, she was not photographed with me, there is a picture of her, with her back to the camera dancing with me and Emma Watson, and no mention of her by name, so she is in a great mood.”

“Good, I’m glad you had that much, now, about my hiding at yours?”

“She’s leaving at noon.”

“You are a true friend Thomas William Hiddleston.”

“I cannot remember the last time someone used my whole name like that,” Tom noted. “Want lunch?”

“Is it something Danielle cooked?”

“Yes.”

“Then yes.”

“I can cook too,” Tom stated indignantly.

“As can I; but Danielle cooks well, there is the difference,” Ben noted. “See you at half twelve so.”

“Whatever Sherlock.” Tom hung up the phone and turned to see a somewhat concerned Danielle looking at him. “I have no idea.” He admitted.

“Dare I ask?”

“Were you not listening?”

“No,” she scoffed. “Why would I listen in, if Ben wanted to talk to me, he would have asked to talk to me. Wait, have you…?” Tom shifted his weight slightly. “Well in mature adult relationships, people are allowed have private conversations with their friends without their other half interfering, remember, way back when, before the fame and fortune, your girlfriends probably didn’t attach themselves to you every time your phone buzzed.” She smiled, sitting herself up and forcing him to come down for a kiss. “Or at least the ones over fifteen.”

Tom grinned against her lips, “Darling, you will be late for lunch if you continue that.”

“Don’t you dare, I’m half convinced that I will have to go early to meet Emma because if I get there after her, she is going to see me walking like John Wayne!” Danielle declared, causing Tom to erupt in laughter. “Seriously, I am not sure I can walk properly, it’s sore,” she whined.

Tom ceased laughing and his forehead knitted in worry. “Really?” His tone was one of concern. “Did I…?”

“Don’t you dare give yourself all the credit, it was me that decided that the living room was a good place to go at it, and need I remind you, you actually said to me not to do it on the couch.” She groaned, “What was I thinking?”

“Thinking? I fear I do not know. Drinking, on the other hand, I do, I think I recall us getting up to eight whiskey’s for me and four of that sickly sweet thing you were drinking before joining me for whiskey.”

“Whiskey makes me horny.”

“Good to know.” Tom grinned, “Though I am guilty of the same. What thing did you do that hurt?”


“I gave myself cramp.” Danielle dismissed. “I don’t want to get out of bed.”

“You need to get a shower and get ready,” Tom argued.

Danielle curled up in the blanket, “Don’t want to.” Causing Tom to chuckle at her. “I cannot remember the last time I drank like that, I think it was before my mam died.”

“You weren’t even that drunk.”

“Drunk, no, tipsy, definitely.” She pushed the covers down. “I need to get some tea before I get ready.”

“I will pop on the kettle.” Tom kissed her head before going downstairs once more to get her a cup of tea. While waiting for the water to boil, Tom got a notification on his phone, so he took it out and read it before laughing to himself. When the tea was ready, he rushed up the stairs to the bedroom, “Elle, you are not going to believe this.” He half laughed as he entered the room, seeing her face in front of him, his joyful smile fell, she was sighing and shaking her head as she read something on her phone. “Elle?”

“‘London socialite and aspiring model Annabelle Collins is in hospital this morning with a suspected overdose. The twenty-five-year-old model was partying with friends in the Loca Nightclub in London last night when she was found in the bathrooms by a friend after four am, an ambulance was called and the Metropolitan police are questioning those in the club around four am to establish what happened’.”

“Shit.”

“She left the party at the Trinity Club after our little confrontation, how much more had she snorted in five hours,” Danielle shook her head. “The fucking idiot.”

“Elle?”

“I saw too many of them, O.D.’s I mean, people thinking they were above being the statistic.” She growled angrily. “She is a filthy bottom feeder, a waste of already stretched NHS, and I bet there won’t even be an eyelid batted on the fact she snorted my weight in cocaine or some other shit, she’ll do it again. At least it didn’t happen at Luke’s party. She got her story, thankfully not at anyone else’s expense.”

“You saw she was a risk,” Tom commented, knowing that Danielle’s rant was nothing knew, she was adamantly anti-drugs, having seen what could happen when it went too far.

“Of course, it was my job to.” Danielle threw her phone on the bed. “What were you so happy about?” Tom looked at her, his confusion blatant. “When you came in.”

“Right, it doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it does Tom, don’t let her be my morning thought, please, give me something nice and happy.”

“I was spotted this morning.” He held up his phone and immediately, a small smile came to Danielle's face.

“It’s a great photo of you.” She went back on her phone.

“Really?”

“Yes, I am, ah here it is, I am downloading it now.” She smiled before typing again. “Your fans love it.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m being nosy and going on Tumblr.”

“Elle, that place is a minefield.”

“I know, let’s see. Ooh, found a ‘Hiddleswift’ blog. I hate that amalgamation of names thing in general, makes people sound ten cent short of a euro, as though two people together cannot actually be two separate entities, either that or the person talking cannot actually be bothered referring to them by their names. Aw, my favourite, the ridiculous touring.”

“Elle, please don’t look at that.” Tom pleaded.

“There’s now people discussing you and Emma together, a better option in my opinion, smart, well educated, very nice.”

“Elle, please stop.” He reached for her phone but she pulled away.

“No, I want to find, bingo. Aw, that’s cute, people are gushing over the two of you.”

“Elle, don’t do this.” He reiterated.

“People want more pictures of you together, saying they cannot believe how adorable you are.”

“Elle, Taylor…”

“Who’s talking about Taylor?” Danielle scoffed. “I’m talking about you and your new companion.”

“You were there when Emma was around me.”

“Seriously, you are so far behind in this conversation,” Danielle laughed holding up her phone for Tom to read.

Tom scanned the words and exhaled in relief that Danielle did not think him interested in other women. “That’s not funny, I thought…” Danielle giggled. “You are evil.”

“You knew that already.” She shrugged as she looked back at the headline and smiled again. Actor Tom Hiddleston’s new companion is one that his fans are gushing over. The headline read, underneath was a picture of Tom jogging in the park, Mac next to him, his mouth open in what appeared to be a doggy grin. Underneath, all of Tom’s fans were indeed gushing over it, calling it the cutest thing ever, all of them thinking it added to his appeal. “Dog’s are the ultimate wingmen.” She laughed before going further down through the pictures. “As can be seen here, she’s pretty.” Her smile faltered slightly as she noticed a tall and beautiful girl in the photos talking to Tom.

Tom looked over her shoulder. “Elle…”

“I better get a shower.” She pulled away and headed to the bathroom.

“It was only an autograph, Elle.” Tom tried to explain.

“I’m going to be late.” Danielle locked the door so that he could not follow her. Outside the bathroom, Tom sighed in frustration. It was the first time Danielle had seen such an interaction, and it had not gone well.

When she emerged fifteen minutes later, Tom had gone through feeling guilty before becoming some little bit angered, it was an autograph and a photo with a fan, nothing more, nothing sinister, but Danielle was after acting as though he had forgotten her birthday, ran over her cat and told her it was her fault, when he turned around to talk to her about it, he was startled to see a guilty look on her face.

“I’m sorry.” He said nothing in return. “I…” She shook her head. “I knew before I ever kissed you back you were a movie star, that you had a lot of fans, and yes, when they see you, they want a photograph or an autograph, they are going to smile and flirt with you and they are probably, on occasion, try and grab bits of you. I knew this, and I know you are you, you would never do anything with them, you smile back using your polite smile and you indulge them because you want others to be happy and behind it all, you need fans to like you to get certain roles, and I went and acted like that and that is not fair to you, it was childish and stupid and I am sorry.”

“Why…”

“I think I got jealous, she is really pretty and tall and Mac seemed to like her, and I am sounding even more petulant when I say it out loud.” She groaned. Tom walked over to her. “I was wrong to get upset.”

Tom watched as a large bead of water dripped down from her hair before it trickled down her chest. “Why do you listen to that voice in your head telling you you’re not enough? You are who I want Danielle, I love you, no one else interests me like that. You are so confident, yet you seem so riddled in self-doubt.” He looked down at her lovingly. “I will have fans come up to me, I will interact with them and when we are public, I am sure some may try and make you jealous, but it won’t mean I am interested in them.”

“I know. I messed up.” She seemed almost on the verge of tears. “The first time something completely innocent happens I acted like it was the apocalypse.”

“Well, that is a tad dramatic, you got upset, you weren’t shouting and screaming.”

“Not really my style.”

“You are allowed feel emotions, Elle, just please talk to me about it. I rather listen to you say a thousand times tell me you felt some pang of jealousy than you bottle it up and let it fester in your mind, because if you do that, we can’t work through it and that would kill us, I don’t want that.”

“I don’t want to feel it.”

“No one tends to want to feel those emotions, but we still do. I am going to have it when you are in the world eye and other better-looking men start being introduced to you, or when you are working and there is a gorgeous actor or behind the scenes, men flirting with you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous Tom.”

“Elle, you are smart, hard working and incredibly sexy, I am six years older than you, not exactly muscled and have a receding hairline, do you think I don’t know I am punching above my weight? That you are not the sort of woman men look for?” Danielle scoffed at him. “Are you honestly dismissing me?”

“Yes, because you are Tom Hiddleston, actor, humanitarian and sex god.” She stated factually. “You are one of the sexiest men on the planet, women literally adore you, there are like a thousand stories about your sexiness I had to swipe down passed to get to the picture of you and Mac and they have nicknamed your cock after the largest snake on the planet.” she laughed slightly as she watched him go red. She found herself needing to physically touch him, so she wrapped her arms around him. “I know that, so I have to tell that little voice to shut up, that we made a promise, and you will keep to it.”

“Promise?”

“To tell me if you…”

“Elle, there is never going to be anyone else.”

“I know, but still.” She smiled. “I am not a jealous person, so I am not sure why I…”

“You are a human being Elle, you’re allowed feel emotion, last night when that girl got lipstick on my ear, you didn’t get angry or upset, you were so calm, you understood immediately, that is why I know that this is not you.”

“The comments…”

“What comments?”

“Under the picture, implying you were flirting or fishing to see people’s reaction to a potential new match.” She stated dismissively, “I let it get in my head.”

Tom froze for a moment, “Ah, now that makes more sense.” He tilted her head up to look at him. “Don’t listen to them, do not read them, alright? You saw what they wrote that time I was out with Emma, they thought she was my pregnant girlfriend.” Danielle erupted in laughter. “Don’t let them drive you away, you are so strong.”

“But occasionally an idiot.”

“Aren’t we all?” Tom kissed her. “I’m afraid your tea is probably gone cold, you need to get dressed.”

“Then stop kissing me.”

“I can’t.” he guided her to the bed before encouraging her to sit then lie on it while he remained above her. “You know what I have yet to do to you?”

“Allow me to be on time for something?” She giggled in retort. Tom’s response was a growl before he opened the towel, revealing her to him. “Tom.”

“I know, you’re a slight bit tender, by the way, you’ve bruised your thigh.”

“I know, when I was jumping onto the couch, I really hurt it.” She groaned, having recalled her actions that had given her the mark. Tom chuckled before he began to kiss her stomach, slowly edging down further. “Wait, what are you doing?” She asked, leaning up on her elbows for support.

“I would have thought it obvious.” He grinned for a moment before his smile fell slightly. “Wait, you’ve never?” Danielle shook her head. “Well then, he looked to the clock by their bedside, “I am going to see how to get you off in as quick a time as possible doing something to you that you have never done before.” His smirk returned though there was a wickedness to it. “I cannot believe I get to do these things for the first time to you.”

“You were hoping for someone a bit more, shall we call it ‘seasoned’?” Danielle asked curiously.

“What happens before I am dating someone is their business, but knowing I get to do things to you no one else ever has, that is incredible.” He smiled. “Now, let’s see how I do?”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Do I want to know?” Tom asked as he made room for Benedict to walk past him into his house.

“I love my wife, I cannot put into words how much I love her and my son and the baby she is carrying, I truly can’t, but I need two hours without a teething toddler and I need her to get some fucking sleep because she is like a grizzly bear with a headache from a sore back and Kit waking us, then finally, my parents take Kit and she is saying I kept her up last night snoring, I have no idea what she is thinking, but she was too tired to talk and told me to leave to let her have some rest before I collect him so I just ran,” Ben explained almost frantically. “I had no idea where to go.”

“Why in hell did you think you could not say that in front of Danielle?”

“Because if she told Sophie, I would be castrated with a rusty knife, slowly.”

“Except she acted as an ear to Sophie yesterday, so she actually has some insight to how your wife is feeling.”

“Shit.” Ben growled, “What time did you say she was back?”

“She said three, but knowing her and Emma, they will get sidetracked on the way back and do something together,” Tom stated as he put some soup in front of Ben. “She baked bread as well, want some?”

“I assume you’re not staying as trim as usual.” Ben grinned as he looked at the fresh bread in front of him.

“I have had to add nearly a mile a day onto my runs, and that is with her feeding me a salad instead of the bread.”

“Lucky prick.” Ben bit into the bread. “Fuck me, I would need to be shoved through the door if I was eating this every day, this is incredible.”

“Yes.” Tom smiled proudly.

“So, how are things, I see she is still around, I thought she had work after Christmas?”

“There was a small incident on Christmas Eve, she fractured her wrist in a biking accident and is currently unable to work, nothing serious, she even seems to have stopped taking anything stronger than a Nurofen for it, but it means she is at a loose end, so she is studying for some enhancement at work, or she does, when she is here, her calendar is like a promo tour for us these days, she has people asking to meet her as often as she is here. Not that that is a complaint, I am delighted, it means she is settling in surely.”

“So she hanging around a while?” Ben pressed slightly.

“I asked her to move in with me, she said yes, so she’s living here now.” Tom smiled.

Ben stared at him for a moment. “Danielle lives here, with you?”

“Yes.”

“That was fast.” Tom gave him a look. “I am not saying it is a bad thing, Hiddleston, calm it, it is just that you were mister ‘as good as celibate’ for so long and now you are effectively setting up the whole devoted home man setting, I mean, Mac seems to own a corner of the living room.” Ben pointed to the area Tom had removed a chair from to allow Mac have his bed in a sunny spot. “And Danielle is as sensible as an umbrella in autumn, so how did you manage to convince her?”

“I just asked and said no pressure. She is giving it a bit of a trial to see if she likes living in the city.”

“And?”

“It’s been less than a week Ben.”

“Some people don’t give it that.”

“She is gone to lunch with my sister, yesterday she was with your wife for lunch, which I have no idea why you don’t know all of this already and on the way back from said lunch with your wife, she bumped into another friend and made plans for next week.”

“A friend independent of you?”

“Yes, a woman named Nacelle she got to know when working.”

“As a safety officer or as a paramedic.”

“Safety Officer, Nacelle is a makeup artist.”

“Wait, is her name Nacelle Campbell?”

“I have no idea.”

“Her father is Jamaican, mother English, living around Camden somewhere?”

“She looks like she could be that and yes, she lives there.”

“You are fucking kidding me.” Ben smiled in disbelief, “Elle knows Nacelle Campbell?”

“Why are you saying this as though it is something of great note?” Tom asked worriedly.

“She is the most coveted makeup artist there is in these parts, you don’t want to know what her prices are, there are productions on the West End that cannot afford her, I heard Soph say something once, well her colleague did, about getting in Campbell before they both laughed at the idea, saying they would never be able to afford her.”

“She did Elle’s make up for last night, she made her look completely natural yet more radiant.” Tom smiled. “Her fiance helped too.”

“She’s getting married?”

“On the 22nd of June I believe, I have been told to check my availability, we are having them for dinner next week.”

“Who’s the guy?”

“Woman actually, Becky Matthews.” He waited a moment to see Benedict’s reaction. “Yes, the Rebecca Matthews.”

“Danielle has some friends in high places.”

“It appears so.”

“So, you actually know her a little?”

“I did not recall her yesterday when I saw her, considering she was in a tracksuit and whatnot, but I remembered her later. They are forcing Elle out to go get some clothes suitable for different events next week”

“So Elle is settling in if she is making all these friends, all is good then, right?” Ben smiled, Toms momentary delay in responding did not go unnoticed. “What happened?”

“She saw a fan interaction with me online this morning when I was out jogging,” Tom began.

“Right?”

“She got upset.”

“Anything untoward?” Ben knew to ask, with some ‘fans’ anything could happen.

“No.”

“So, why the upset?”

“She read comments on it and felt inadequate, but then apologised, saying it was an issue with her and that I did not deserve her reaction.”

“Fucking comments,” Ben cursed.

“None were too bad, I checked after, but a few made mention about the girl being a likeness to Taylor and that I would do well with her.”

“What was her name?”

“Whose?”

“The girl, obviously.”

“I cannot remember, honestly.”

“Well then, you were not interested.”

“It’s not something in Elle, last night I had some socialite nip my ear and leave lipstick on it and she knew there was nothing to worry about, but the comments got her slightly.”

“They get us all from time to time.”

“I just get worried, when people find out, there are going to be some who will do nothing but tear her to shreds.”

“Who are you talking to, I have a PR wife and two PR kids created solely to better me in Hollywood as a family man, the first of which is supposedly not even mine.”

Tom’s eyes widened. “Are you fucking serious?”

“Yes, apparently some director we met once that she was photographed with got her pregnant and I know this or don’t know this, pending the source, and I use that term lightly.”

“How do you not let that get to you, how does Sophie not?”

Ben shrugged, “These things have no basis in truth, I think more than once Sophie got upset about it, but getting upset won’t help, we have Kit and another little one coming and we don’t give a fuck what the naysayers say. Danielle is as tough as old boots, she’ll develop a skin against these things, the way you are doing it is best, though, fair dues for thinking if it.”

“It was Danielle’s idea.”

“No shock there, she is a pillar of sense.”

*

Danielle sat waiting in the restaurant for Emma, it was fifteen minutes after they were supposed to turn up and there was no sign of her, no text or call to say she was late. Terrified that she had decided not to show, Danielle’s breathing increased slightly, as she was about to text Tom to ask him what to do, she noticed the blonde hair of her friend enter the restaurant. “I am so sorry, there was something delaying the Underground, I was going to go topside and text, but since a train could come at any moment, I thought it best to wait and well, there’s no reception in the tunnels.”

“You’re fine.” Danielle smiled politely. “How are you?”

“Not going to lie, hungover.” Emma’s confession made her laugh. “Did you go to that party with Tom last night?”

“Yeah, didn’t get too tipsy, but I played it smart.”

“Fuck you, I am dying.” Emma groaned.

“What’s good hangover food here?”

“All day breakfast,” Emma stated. “So long as you are not on a diet now.”

“I ate lasagna yesterday, what do you think?”

“They will eat you alive for not being skinny enough,” Emma warned.

“If they think I am fat, well then, I’ll threaten to eat them.” Danielle shrugged in return causing Emma to laugh for a moment. “So what is new with you?”

The meal passed swiftly enough, both women catching the other one up on what they had missed in the time they had not really been speaking with one another.

“So, you like London?”

“It’s been four days.” Danielle laughed.

“You were here before Christmas too apparently.”

“Working my ass off, I could have been in outer Uzbekistan and not have noticed anything.” Emma nodded in agreement. “So now I have been here with actual time to look around and of the four days, I have had lunch out for two, I will apparently never get my study done.”

“How is your hand.” Emma seemed almost awkward asking about it.

“It’s fine, the brace is a pain, though, I keep forgetting to take it off going for a shower.” she looked down at it. “I mean, it could have been worse.”

“I’m sorry,” Danielle silenced. “I was such a bitch, I made you feel like you couldn’t come to us.”

“I was being a tad dramatic too, I should have just called Tom regardless, that was my own foolishness, but as I said before Em, it’s done.” She smiled.

“I got you something.”

“Emma.” Danielle scolded.

“I love the jacket you got me.” She smiled meekly, touching the jacket that was on the back of her chair before grabbing her bag. “I was being petty and bratty, I didn’t even get you a present, I feel really crappy for that.”

“How were things after we left?”

“Are you kidding, I could have dealt with being yelled at, mum just looked at me and said how disappointed she was that I would do that to two of the people that love me the most in the world, I felt as though I was three inches tall, not because of her saying that, although it hurt, but because it is true, Tom is my brother, and he does so much for me, and you, you have always been there for me, no judgement, more so than girls I went to school with, you actually give a fuck.”

“Damn right.” Danielle smiled with a wink.

Extending her hand, Emma held out her gift. “It’s nothing mad, I promise.”

Danielle took the present. “You didn’t have to.”

“I know, but when you see it.”

Emma seemed almost excited for her to see it, so opening it swiftly, Danielle took a moment to study it before smiling. “Thank you, it’s perfect.” She took it out of the small long jewellery box and studied the one lone trinket on it; a small little Celtic knot. “Em.”

“You know what it is?”

“A friendship knot.” She smiled knowingly.

“You know a lot about Celtic stuff.”

“I always loved it, let me guess, Jack?”

“Yeah, he told me about it. There are links for other ones to be added.” She explained.

“Thank you.” She pulled Emma in and hugged her. “It’s perfect.” When she pulled back again, Danielle went to put it on, wincing slightly as her wrist seemed to fight her actions to open the clasp. For a second, Emma watched her before her guilt became too much and she extended her hand and took the bracelet, silently placing it around her wrist before Danielle looked at it. “Thank you.”

“I really am sorry Elle.”

“It’s done, what time are you heading to Belfast?”

*

Tom left the room while Ben rang his mother regarding him collecting Kit and headed to the kitchen with the cups he and Ben had used for their tea, checking his watch as he went, he smiled, seeing it was almost four and since he had not received a text from Danielle, he concluded she was having a good time with Emma. Putting the cups in the sink, he took out his phone to text her to ask how she was getting on, a moment after he pressed send, a phone beeped next to him, it was then he saw her phone charging in the socket next to the kettle. It had not been there when he went to make the tea and he saw her put it in her pocket as she left. Looking around, he realised that her bag and coat were also in the kitchen, going to the hallway, he called up the stairs before walking back towards the kitchen just as Ben came out of the living room.

“Everything alright?”

“I think Danielle is back.”

“And?”

“She only left at twelve, she and Emma always take forever to have lunch.”

“Well, they are still patching things up, maybe they didn’t want to overdo it,” Ben suggested. “She’s outside if you want to ask her.”

Tom looked to the kitchen window, sure enough, Danielle was in the garden wearing the clothes Tom noticed she seemed to do the vast majority of the housework in, as she stood on a stepladder. “What is she doing?” He asked fearfully, worried that with her injured arm, she could end up even more injured.

“She appears to be putting up a little bird house,” Ben noted.

Tom walked outside, opening the door slowly and letting Mac give Danielle notice to his presence. “Darling?”

“Oh hey, is Ben gone home?” She asked as she looked around, but the other actor came into her view, answering her question. “Hey, Ben.”

“Elle.” He nodded. “Nice job you’re doing here.”

“Elle, what are you doing?” Tom half demanded. Danielle’s smile fell immediately. “How long have you been home?”

“Since three, like I said I would be.” she stated, her voice small.

Benedict looked at Tom who seemed somewhat angered. “Tom?”

“Why are you doing that, you should have asked me, what if you fell, you shouldn’t be using your hand like that, you are supposed to be resting it? Why didn’t you tell us you were back?”

“The living room door was closed over, I heard your voices but I didn’t want to interrupt, you could have been talking about anything, work, personal things, Avenger stuff.” She rambled.

Tom finally seemed to realise she was somewhat meek as a result of his manner, “Elle,” he walked over to her, helping her off the stepladder. “I’m sorry, I just was worried.”

“I put up the birdhouses in my house too.” She stated. “I have a tiny fracture, seriously, I have a copy of the x-ray, it’s called a hairline fracture, because it is the width of a single hair, it is tiny, I am not going to lose my balance, fall to the floor and shatter.”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that, I…How many bird things have you put up?” He asked, looking around.

“There are three nesting boxes and a few feeders.”

“They’ve different foods in them.”

“Because different birds like different food.” she laughed before realising something. “You didn’t know that?” Tom’s cheeks reddened slightly. “You sweet summer child.” She shook her head as she spoke, causing Benedict to chuckle. “I suppose you are going to tell me you did?”

“I said nothing.”

“That’s a no then.” She shook her head smiling before turning back to Tom who was studying the bird boxes. “Are they okay? You said I could…”

Tom gave her a warm smile that made her anxiety at his early sharp tone dissipate. “Yes, they are lovely, I just overreacted to seeing you on the ladder, I was worried, yes, they are nice, you did a great job. How was lunch?”

“Good,” She smiled happily.

“You’re never back this early.”

“Emma and Jack are off to Ireland to his family for a few days, she said this over Christmas, their flight leaves this afternoon, but we wanted to catch up for a bit before she left.” She explained.

“So when you said three…”

“We finished up at two, but I wanted to get these so I was delayed coming back.” She stated as she tidied up the few last bits from her work. “Now, in a few days, this place should have birds.”

“Why a few days?”

“Because they don’t know it’s here yet, they’re not telepathic.” She laughed at the men’s confused faces, “I hope your parents didn’t pay too much for those educations of yours, you haven’t got a clue between ye.” She commented walking back into the house. “By the way, Ben,” He looked at her. “You really need to get Sophie a mammy spa day, she is stressed as fuck, she needs a day to get to relax.”

For a moment, Ben just stared at the spot Danielle had been standing in before shaking his head, “How the fuck did I not think of that?” Taking out his phone, he began googling.

Danielle smiled as she put on the kettle for her tea before washing her hands. “What’s this?” Tom extended his hand to the bracelet now dangling from her left wrist. “Did Emma…?”

“Yeah, it’s a friendship knot.” She explained, holding it up for him, a hopeful smile on her face.

“That’s wonderful, so it went well?”

“Yeah,” Danielle curled in against his chest.

“Are you alright?”

“Tired.”

“I was thinking, how about a takeaway tonight?”

“That nice Indian place?” Tom made a noise of confirmation. “You are speaking my language.”

Chapter Text

"No!"

"Three reasons," Nacelle compromised.

"My ass, my stomach, my legs." Danielle listed.

"I like how you didn't say your breasts."

"I know my selling points," Becky and Nacelle laughed at that. "But in all seriousness, no."

"Danni, you have to actually buy something, I mean you lucked out on Tom finding out you had that dress, but you can't wear it to everything, trust me, they will be wanting your blood for any little thing, don't hand it to them."

"I rather they focus on that than the stuff that actually would upset me."

Becky made a noise of agreement. "Still, you need clothes."

"I have clothes."

"You need clothes the SARC's can see you in."

"SARC's?" Danielle eyed her worriedly, "What's a SARC?"

"Spoiled and Rich Clique," Nacelle answered, looking at another dress.

"Seriously? What are you, twelve? Wait, are one of you going to tell me we only wear pink on Wednesdays now?"

Both women erupted in laughter at her for that. "Okay, I can see why Nacelle came home talking about you, you're hilarious!" Becky laughed as the sales assistant came over. "Great, can we try these on her please?" she asked politely pointing to Danielle.

The sales assistant looked to Danielle and her eyes widened slightly before she raked them over her. "I'm not sure these are the styles for someone of such…proportions." Danielle felt herself redden, though, with anger or upset, she was not sure.

"Well then, can we speak to a manager please," Nacelle asked, her tone just millimetres from a demand.

"She is on break, can I relay a message?"

"Sure," the three women looked to Danielle, who schooled her face into the greatest 'fuck you' smile she could muster. "Ask her if it is usual practice to turn away customers based on their size, yet still stock said sizes, seeing as we are holding dresses that are designed for my height and shape, and those that are slightly longer can actually be taken up, I am sure she could recommend a tailor that is somewhat connected to your store, because you and I both know that all these little boutiques tend to have such practices. And then ask her is there particular currency that is required to shop here," She reached into her pocket and pulled out a twenty-pound note. "Since you are acting as though my money, which dons the words Bank of England on them, same as every other pound, and if I am not mistaken, that is your Queen that is on it too, isn’t it, is not the correct tender? So if this is the currency of the State, and you don't seem to trade in it, could you tell me what one you do?"

"Well...I…? The fitting rooms are back here." the flustered woman stated, having thought that Danielle was someone who could be embarrassed out of the shop rather than argue her corner.

"You are a Grade A Sass-Bitch," Becky smiled as she handed Danielle the dress for her to try first. "It's beautiful to witness."

"Aw, thank you." She grinned. "Seriously, this is going to be way too tight on my ass."

"Good, it will show that there is something to balance those boobs." Nacelle joked.

"I feel so objectified," Danielle stated dramatically before all three women laughed again. "Jesus this is not going to work."

"Why?" Nacelle looked in. "Okay, that's because you have to unzip it."

"Not happening, I look like something off an MTV trash show."

"It's six hundred pounds," Nacelle argued.

"Money is not something those people worry about, you can have money and be trash."

"Yeah, speaking of which, how are you on the whole last summer thing, I mean, he's nice and all but…" Nacelle looked around but Becky shook her head, to say no one was nearby. "That…?"

"Episode?" Danielle suggested.

"Best word for it really."

"Look, I am going to say the same thing to you as I did his sisters, mum and friends, not my business, it was before me."

"Good response from a saying nothing point of view, the only thing is, I can see your disapproval on your face." Becky pointed out.

"I made my feelings clear on it at the time, but I am not going to dwell on it," Danielle stated, walking around slightly to see if she was comfortable in it. "Is it a little short?" she looked at the back of it.

"No, you just can't bend over, next one." Nacelle stated pushing her back into the dressing room.

A couple of hours and close to two thousand pounds later, which cut into Danielle's money more than she wanted, they left the last boutique but she had to agree, Nacelle and Becky had made her look more the part of the girlfriend of a serious actor.

"I am bolloxed, I would be happy to have a curry tonight," Nacelle commented as they sat on the bus. "Babe, Chinese or Indian?"

"Indian, but you can get it while I get those emails sent," Becky replied.

"Deal, Danni, you want anything?"

"No, I'll get something when I get back, I'm not too hungry." She gave a polite smile as she spoke.

"You know I have physically heard your stomach rumble less than ten minutes ago," Nacelle pointed out. "What is it?"

"N