Open - Content Warning Familiar Friends and Unfamiliar Faces (Mention of Prostitution)
A cold wind blew through the farmlands as Emily leaned back into the man behind her in the hopes she wouldn’t fall from her place on his horse. The air was cold, and a thin layer of snow covered the dirty ground. She could already see Madsmoor Village up ahead. It wouldn’t be much longer before they reached their destination. 

Emily let out a breath, the air turning foggy with moisture as she did so. The slight jostling of the horse underneath her was aggravating. Emily had decided almost immediately at the start of the journey that she would never again ride a horse unless she absolutely must. She hated the anxiety it gave her. With every step, she felt as if she were about to fall off. Though she supposed that the feeling wasn’t much different from what her life had been in town.

Emily pulled her cloak closer to her skin in the hopes that it would help fend off the chill that had long since seeped into her bones. Winters in this region had never been mild, but they hadn’t been harsh either. Rather, the cold steadily increased by small increments, insuring that by the time it had fully set, every one of its inhabitants would feel its cold bite all the way to their core. 

The winter was always filled with death, and Emily feared that she would be its next victim. 

She could recall her fathers’ words now. Useless girl! A home doesn’t warm itself, and you are no longer deserving of the comforts I work so hard for. She could remember what he said next as if it was happening all over again. I’m selling you to Lady Mayfair next week. She’ll ensure that you earn your lot in life. 

Lady Mayfair’s Manor. The only brothel within miles.

Emily remembered her desperation in that moment. She had begged, pleaded, even yelled at her own father. None of it did any good. Ralph Brinn had never felt anything akin to love for his only child. Emily had known this fact since she was a young girl. But she’d never anticipated him sending her to such a place as Lady Mayfair’s. He knew what happened there. Everyone did. Selling her to that woman would not have been much different from burying her alive. 

Emily sighed just before a shiver ran up her spine. She dearly hoped they arrived soon. And yet, she still had no ideas as to where she was going to stay when they did.

She would be lucky not to freeze to death.

She spoke to the man behind her before she could think better of it.

“You live at Moorland Manor Mr. Rensselaer, don’t you?”
He had gone into town with his boss, only to find himself asking for a couple days to take care of personal matters. A letter had reached him from his distant cousin, a cry for help, and being the man he was he didn't waste any time. The next town over was a good distance, but at least she wasn't any farther. He would have most likely to arrive to find her in worse condition, possibly dead. By the time he had gotten there it was very dark, so he stayed at a local inn and woke up at dawn to take her back to the village he had made his home.

"Hold the reigns" He passed the ropes that felt like leather to the blonde leaning into his stomach. Then he proceeded to take off his coat. Draping it around her shoulders, he then reached his arms around either s side of her. His roughed up hands moving to grab a hold of the reigns.

"Yes" She of course knew that answer, it had been discussed a few times through pen and paper. "Your kin, call me Hudson and never in this village call me Mr. Rensselaer. They know me as Mr. Marklet and I'd rather keep it that way." He paused as he took in a breath. " People tend to look at you differently when they know you have money even more so when you have a name that is in papers and books, and there is only one person in town that knows of my gift. That was a more recent development, I was going to write about it in my next letter"

He moved from holding the reigns with two hands to one hand and relaxed his other arm. "How are you feeling?"
Emily tensed as Hudson draped his coat over her shoulders and took back the reins. The wool was soft and smelled of wood and a hint of smoke. His question took her by surprise. Though they had communicated through letters for a significant amount of time, but she still felt as if she didn’t really know the man sitting behind her. He’d been nothing more than a distant relative whom she had written to out of desperation. Her life had been lonely, and she’d craved the comfort of some sort of companionship. The correspondence had been awkward at first, mostly on her part. But over time they’d become something more than mere acquaintances. 

Perhaps he didn’t feel such trepidation. Did he think of her as a friend, she wondered? 
Whenever Emily had written to him, she hadn’t imagined a person, but rather his words themselves. Now that she had a face to link the writing to, she struggled to comprehend what her relationship was to him. 

Another breeze blew through the air. Emily found that Hudson's coat had helped immensely in keeping the chill from her skin.

She paused a moment before answering Hudson's question, letting herself slowly relax back into him as her body released some of its anxiety. She felt many things, none of them particularly happy. All her thoughts were jumbled and confused. She couldn’t seem to pinpoint any emotion in particular, though fear was ever present in her mind.

“I’m not sure,” she answered eventually. “I’m afraid that’s the only answer I can give you at the moment.”
He stayed silent for a moment. His body moving with the motion of the horse. Maybe it was best he didn't comment back, but he felt his lips parting to respond. "That is at least an honest answer. I'm going to take you to some people that can help you when we get to town." He never put the horse in a full running motion, but every now and then he was able to get the horse to walk at a brisk speed. He put a semi smile on his face as he felt the cold wind against his cheek.

Hudson wondered if word would get back to the manor when townsfolk might see him returning with a girl. If word did get to the manor, he could only imagine Colette asking about it. If he told her the truth or part of the truth, he could see his boss extending an invite for Emily until she was settled, which would be a bad thing. Five years of being called Mr. Marklet could go down in a second.

"Locals think them to be Witches. I don't know if this is fact or fiction, but I have heard they are very welcoming and you'll be safe with them. And since I know roughly where they are located I can come check in when I get time." Hudson's sudden time off to go get her would count as his much needed break, he wasn't sure when they next time he would have off. Because of this, Hudson was making sure the journey bac to his town was not rushed.

Hudson took in a deep breath and the smell in the air reminded him of the gardener back at the castle. It must have been a near by plant, maybe something the man liked to plant.
Emily bit her lip in response to her cousin’s statement. Hudson of course knew she was a medium. She had never told another soul, but somehow within the years they’d been corresponding, she’d opened up to him. He had done the same in return. At the time Emily had been relieved to meet someone who was also afflicted by such a curse. 

Emily tightened her hold on Hudson’s waist, her brow furrowing in thought.

“Witches you say?” she asked quietly. “Are they also…afflicted with, well, you know.”

Emily didn’t want to say the word aloud. The term scared her, as if it had a power she didn’t yet understand. Aside from her own discomfort with her strange ability, she’d gotten the impression from his letters that Hudson wasn’t very open about his condition either. It was a boundary she had no wish to cross should it exist, so she did her best to skirt around the topic as best she could. 

Emily shifted uncomfortably as another cold wind blew through the farmlands. Hudson’s coat helped immensely, but she was aware that he had sacrificed his own comfort for her sake. She didn’t like the idea for some reason. Was she a burden? Emily hated to think that the man before her thought of her as something to be rid of, but she feared it may be true. Was he telling the truth when he mentioned checking on her? It was likely that he wasn’t. After all, why would he ever wish to see her if it weren’t absolutely necessary?
"I believe some are, but everyone's on different levels. Probably just see or just hear them." There were very few that could see and hear them like Hudson could. "You should be free to just be yourself with them. That just isn't the life style for me, but if you need practice with your abilities. I'll introduce you to Tom, up at the manor." Tom was what he had decided to deem the boy ghost, the one he tries not to talk to in public.

Based on the last letter she had written him, he knew something was wrong. Knowing how mail worked and it wasn't the speediest of things, he decided it was best he came. He didn't waste anytime getting to her. He was out with his boss, went to check his mail while she was preoccupied. As soon as he realized something was off, put in the factor of when it was dated and how long it took to get to him, he knew he couldn't wait. So he went back to his boss and told her he was leaving after abruptly kissing her.

He wasn't sure what the extent of danger he'd be in trying to get to his cousin, but if he didn't come back he at least wanted to kiss the woman. He and his boss weren't a thing, nor would they ever be a thing, but Hudson did care about her. Otherwise he wouldn't have stuck around for over five years now.

The Butler was fine, the body heat coming from his cousin's arms around him was good enough for him. He could feel the worry off of her. "I'm fine, by the way, and I'm glad you are okay."
Emily felt herself stiffen at Hudson’s question. Her nerves began to quiver as the previous week’s memories ran through her mind. Run they told her. Who know when he’ll show up. Who knows what your future has in store. 

She’d been trying not to think of the circumstances of her departure. It hadn’t been long since her father had commanded her to start packing in preparation for her new home. Being sold to Lady Mayfair would have been the worst fate Emily could imagine. She had once been told by a passing spirit that should she abandon her virginity; she would lose her ability as a medium. As much as Emily despised her strange curse, it had saved her life on multiple occasions. The idea of giving it up made her uneasy.

There were stories about what happened to the girls at Lady Mayfair’s. None of them were fairytales by any means. Emily shivered once more at the thought of what could have happened to her if Hudson hadn’t answered her letter.

“I am well. I am only thankful my father didn’t return as we were leaving.” Emily’s mood darkened. “I would be in significantly worse shape if he had.” 

The girl paused a moment before continuing.

“I’m glad you’re alright. I am eternally grateful for you help. I hope you know that.”
Hudson had a certain moral code he lived up to. Pretending he didn't see ghosts, well that had nothing to do with a moral code. He had seen what it did to his family when press got a hold of story when he was young. He knew how his parents felt about this gift and growing up he cared. Today, he could care less what his family had to say. He kept it secret because he didn't want the media around him once again, nor did he want to attract people who think every noise is a ghost.

At some point, he'd need to tell Colette the truth. Now that his cousin was going to be more in his life, it seemed necessary. Yet after that kiss he had pulled off before coming to get Emily, he wondered how long he'd need to wait until he did.

"As am I, but I'd still have gotten you away even if my life got mixed in the crossfire." He was being truthful. "And that something I was prepared to happen, when I decided to make this trip." He hadn't given her warning, just came as soon as he got the letter. He clearly got there at the right time.

"I know, but we kin with the strange inheritance need to stick together." He placed a smile on his face as he brought the horse to a rest for a moment. The site of the town just over the hill, the castle on the other side. "That building over there" he pointed toward it. "is where I work and sleep."
Emily stared at the estate Hudson pointed her gaze toward. Even from where they were, she could tell the house was large and rich with detail. It was the kind of place Emily had only ever seen in passing. It was the world of those much more fortunate than herself. 

“You said you work for a family, yes?” she asked Hudson. “Is that their property?”

Emily continued to stare at the house for a few more moments before finally tearing her eyes away. She felt a blush heat her cheeks as she realized how forward she must have sounded. She’d always hated that about herself. She had a tendency to speak immediately and think about her words a few hours later.    

“I apologize. It’s really none of my business,” she said sincerely as the blush deepened.

Emily glanced up at Hudson, searching for his forgiveness. She found that she very much wanted to remain in his good graces. She only hoped that her nature of annoying others didn’t bother him in the future. Emily had often been told that she had a far too curious mind, and that one day it would get her in more trouble than she could handle.
"Nothing to be sorry about" he looked out at the castle. " Yes, almost everything on that hillside belongs to them ." He felt bad for Emily, it almost seems like she was afraid to speak at all. "Ask all the questions you like,we are only human, that's how we learn." Every now and then Hudson sounded like a respectable being.

Okay, he was harder on himself than anyone else. even his boss wasn't as hard on him when he acted up recently. "The bogg is over there , then right , that white building is our hospital."

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