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Better To Have Loved

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Pops, who’s that?

That’s Lucy Jefferson. Don’t talk to her.

**

Lucy remembers the first time she met Philip Hamilton. They were nine years old, at a political ball in New York. Neither wanted to be there, and so they joined forces to ensure they would not be forced to suffer through a ball again for a long, long time. One frog in the punch bowl later, their fathers were rushing them out amidst a flurry of apologies and scoldings. She thought every scolding had been worth it just to see Philip Hamilton’s stupid face grinning back at her.

**

When they’re ten, they’re receiving dancing lessons from the same woman. They’re paired up for the allemande, and she asks, “Have you put any more frogs in punch bowls?” He laughs and shakes his head. Lucy inclines her head to the left, where there’s a bowl of water. A ribbit slips out from her skirt pocket. He starts to laugh harder but quickly disguises it as a cough. She passes him the frog and he goes to “get a drink of water”. After a pause, the teacher begins to shriek. Lucy snickers and the two of them sneak out amid the chaos.

“Papa will be furious,” she laughs later. The two of them have climbed onto the roof of a small shop and are sharing an apple. “But it was worth it?” he asks. She nods. “Absolutely.”

Thomas is more than furious; he’s apoplectic. Lucy doesn’t mind too much, until he says he’s sending her to France for school. No amount of arguing changes his mind, though, and she’s on the Mary Ellis a week later.

**

She comes back when she’s sixteen and “proper”. She hasn’t put any frogs in punch bowls or hung her teacher in effigy for some time now, seeing as that’s improper behavior for a young lady of your station, Mademoiselle Jefferson. Personally, all she can think about is seeing Philip again; she’s missed him quite a bit. They’re reintroduced at a ball in her honor, and - predictably - they sneak off to the gardens to talk.

“I’ve missed you,” he whispers, sitting next to her - too close for propriety - on the bench. “I’ve missed you too,” she whispers back. “Lucy,” he sighs, “I’d like to court you?” It’s kind of him, to ask her first. Not that her answer is in doubt once she kisses his cheek. After a moment, he laughs. “Thank you,” he says. “Have you -”

“Put any frogs in punch bowls lately?” she finishes for him. “Not lately. Not that I’ve had access to frogs or punch bowls.” “Shall we, for old time’s sake?” They don’t get caught this time.

**

She tries to describe how she feels to Maria one day. “It’s as if the sun is out when he smiles at me and I can be happy forever. It’s like the world is in bloom year round with him.” Maria laughs. “You’re young. But I’m happy for you. Be careful, though, he’s much like his father. He’s a flame and you’re a moth, and moths die when they touch fire.”

**

Papa isn’t happy about them, but he permits Philip to court her anyway. He likely thinks she’ll grow out of her “girlish crush” on Philip. She doesn’t care much what he thinks. They court for a few years before he asks her to marry him. She says yes, of course. They set the date as December 2, 1801.

**

My dearest Lucy, If you are reading this letter, I have died in my duel against George Eacker. I am sorry I have to leave you so soon, but please be strong, my love. I love you even in death. Please, Lucy, be strong. I had to duel him; he insulted my father - you didn’t have to, Philip, you didn’t have to - and I could not let him get away with it.

You are beloved in my heart and know that my last thoughts will be of you.

My love, take your time.

I can’t wait to see you again,

Philip

**

She screams when she hears the news.

**

Lucy stares up at Eacker’s home. After a moment, she drops the match and walks away as the house bursts into flames. She doesn’t much care if he lives or not, but he will lose everything either way. He doesn’t die, but he loses his house.

It’s not enough.

It’s not enough.

**

Who’s that, Mama?

That’s Lucy Jefferson, love. Leave her be.