Title: My Fair Guttersnipe
Rating: surprisingly… tame
Disclaimer: hmm… the movie is owned by Warner Bros… but I’m basing this on Julie’s performance in the Broadway version, which of course, I’ve not seen, and I don’t know who owns that! All I know is that I don’t!
Notes: written for the Chamber’s Julie Birthday celebration
Summary: takes place a year after where the movie ends...
“…she was the dirtiest little guttersnipe upon whom I had ever set eyes.”
Leaning against the door, dressed and ready to head for the party Mrs. Higgins had insisted on giving for her birthday, Eliza smiled as she listened to Higgins speak.
At that moment there was a knock at the door. Eliza looked back to see Mrs. Pearce hurrying down the foyer to answer the door. Her smile grew when she saw Colonel Pickering enter. She held her finger up to her lips as he approached, indicating to him not to speak then turned back to the room where Higgins was still talking.
“Yes, he has.” Eliza answered; affection more than evident in her voice.
The two fell silent and continued to watch and listen as Henry wove his tale. Several times, Eliza had to bite her lip to keep from making a loud comment to correct him… or rather his perception of events.
“And she came back.”
Eliza’s smile grew at the note of disbelief she could hear in his voice.
“To this day, I still don’t know why she did. But she came back,” Henry said and shook his head. “But I will be forever grateful that she did. For if she hadn’t… I hate to think of how lonely and wretched I would have become.” He shifted the squirming bundle in his arms, smiling as he caught the flailing fist between his fingers. “She deserves better than an old fool like me. A fool who cannot even give her the words she so rightly deserves to hear.”
Eliza felt her eyes fill with tears as Henry continued.
“I do have feelings for her, you know. So many feelings. I find it rather amusing that I’ve spent my life using words. Teaching them… studying them… and now, when I need them, I cannot find the ones to say to the person who matters most.”
Eliza took the handkerchief
“My son,” Henry peered down at the child in his arms, into eyes so much like his mother’s. “I pray you are as lucky as I am in finding a woman who will challenge you… who will keep you on your toes. A woman with fire… with spirit…”
At the moment, the clock began to chime, startling Eliza. She dabbed at her eyes once again and handed Colonel Pickering’s handkerchief back to him then moved into the room.
“Henry… Hugh is here,” Eliza told him as she crossed the room to stand before him. “And if we don’t leave shortly, we’ll be late for your mother’s party.”
“Let me put the baby down, and then we can be off,” Eliza said as she held her arms out for the infant. She smiled when Henry placed the child in her arms then turned and slowly made her way towards the door.
Henry watched; his eyes dancing with affection as Eliza cooed softly to the baby. “Eliza,” he called out suddenly.
Eliza stopped and looked back at him. “Yes?”
“I…” Henry began then faltered. “Be sure to grab your winter cape. It’s going to be chilly tonight.”
Eliza nodded then looked down at her son. “Come, William… let’s get you to bed now,” she told the boy as she hummed softly and moved through the door.
“She’s changed you,”
“I know, I know…” Henry replied with a smile. “The knot has been firmly tied around my neck, and do you know what, Pickering?”
“I have never been happier in my life.”
Henry stopped in the middle of putting on his jacket. A small frown furrowed his brow and he sighed. “No. Well, not in so many words. But I am certain she knows.”
“You’ve not told your wife, the mother of your child, that
you love her? Not even once after a year
Higgins finished pulling on his jacket then sank back down
in his chair. “But as I said,
“Knowing and hearing are two different things, Henry.”
“Does she appear unhappy to you in any way?”
“No. In fact, I do not believe I’ve ever seen her happier.”
“Well then, there you have it.”
“That does not mean that she doesn’t need to hear the words,
“I have tried, Hugh.” Henry admitted after a few moments of silence. “I have tried several times. But each time… the words escape me.” He looked up at his friend. “When Eliza came back to me… after everything I had said to her, I was dumbfounded. Even more so when she agreed to be my wife,” Higgins’ gaze dropped to the small fire crackling in the hearth. “When Eliza and I were married… it was the happiest day of my life. And for a man like me, a confirmed bachelor, it was a profound realization. Then she gave me my son… I have never loved her more than I did in that moment.”
At that moment, Eliza returned, her winter cape draped over her arm. “Henry, Hugh… if we don’t leave now, we’re going to be late.”
“Is William asleep?”
“Yes. Out like a light.”
“Good,” Henry said as he draped the cape over Eliza’s shoulders. “You look lovely tonight, my dear.”
“Thank you,” Eliza replied as she turned to face her husband. She reached up to straighten his tie. “And you look very handsome.”
Henry gazed at the woman before him. He felt his heart swell. He truly was a lucky man, and he knew it.
“I…” Higgins began then stopped. He sighed then lifted his hand to stroke her cheek. “Eliza…”
Eliza covered his hand with hers and held his hand to her cheek. “It’s all right, Henry. I know.”
“Yes,” Eliza smiled and nodded.
Henry returned her smile then stepped back and offered her his arm. “Shall we, Mrs. Higgins?”
“Let’s,” Eliza replied as she took his arm.
They just reached the door when Henry suddenly stopped. “I’m being a coward,” he said then pulled Eliza around to face him. He cupped her face in his hands. “I love you, Eliza Higgins.”
“I know, Henry. I love you too.”
Higgins smiled and lowered his lips to hers in a loving kiss. With a soft sigh, Eliza slid her arms around Henry’s waist and deepened the kiss. Only the sound of a clearing throat prevented the kiss from becoming more.
Henry drew his head back, his smile still on his face. And as if a dam had finally been opened, Henry spoke again. “I will always love you, my fiery little guttersnipe. Happy Birthday.”