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Posted as [ profile] serenissima, December 25 2007 in the [ profile] yuletide exchange.

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Title: The Early Days of A Better Nation
Author: killalla
Fandom: Amazing Grace
Pairing: Wilberforce/Pitt the Younger

Premise - 1777

You remember the day the world changed. You’d just arrived at Cambridge. Caught up in the beauty of a winter morning, you’re running, late to a lecture when an icy cobblestone sends you sprawling into a stranger, a tangle of gowns and books.

“Mind out!” His voice is too strident, but the hand offered is warm and strong. “You’ll have to be more careful than that, sir!”

“Wilber – William Wilberforce.” You scramble to your feet. Your chest is tight, and you feel curiously short of breath.

He smiles. “William Pitt, Billy to my friends. I’m very pleased to meet you.”

Thesis - 1787

The guests have left, the table was cleared, and the fire burned down to embers.

“Damn you, Billy. That wasn’t fair. You knew I was uncertain on this matter, and now you’ve given me a cause I cannot refuse.” Unusually, William Wilberforce was in his cups, drunk as much on idealism as on claret.

“I want you in my government, Wilbur. If I know your weaknesses and exploit them for that end, I will make no apology for it. I’m prepared to do anything necessary. ” Pitt had drunk deeply as well, softening the sharp edge to his features.

“Anything?” Wilberforce looked over at his friend, still wearing that slightly sardonic smile. He was suddenly aware of loud his heart was beating, how close Pitt was sitting. But hadn’t they always been close? Right beside each other, all along…

And then Pitt is leaning forward, so close that Wilber could smell the wine on his breath. Those hands – warm, strong, and sure come up to cup his chin “Anything. Anything at all.” The silence stretches to an eternity, filled with the answers to unasked questions.

The glasses are drained, the chairs are empty, and the candles have been blown out.

Inference - 1797

Barbara Wilberforce, née Spooner, paused at the door of the drawing room to look back at her husband. Around her, the celebrations continued, and there would soon be other wedding guests who would demand her attention. But for this moment, she could simply observe, and hope to understand.

She had imagined they would be eager to talk, after over a year apart, but their conversation had already become more intense and intimate than that. Wilbur was as animated than she had ever seen him, leaning forward to gesture and touch the hand of his dear friend, while Pitt’s sardonic smile had become gentle, almost fond. For them, in this moment, it seemed as though nothing else in the world existed.

She had known, all along that there would be a third person in her marriage. Even from those early occasions, when she stayed up all night talking with Wilbur, it was impossible to miss the presence of Prime Minister. Much as he was in politics, he was everywhere in the narrative, the premium mobile. In her heart, she wondered if she would have even met Wilbur, much less married him, had he not been estranged from Pitt at the time.

But if Wilbur was the romantic hero of her girlish fantasies, then abolition was his crusade, and Pitt his dearest friend and closest ally. She knew that Wilbur would be a good husband and a wonderful father. She would never need to worry about mistresses or gambling debts - the worst he was likely to do was try to feed all the parish poor from his own pocket. And if his political campaign meant that he might spend the occasional evening away from home, closeted with the Prime Minister at his apartments near Westminster, it was something she could accept.

Conclusion – 1807

The passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 was without a doubt the highlight of my political career. It set in motion the process that would lead to the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery, and the eventual emancipation of all enslaved Africans. Since that time, I have also devoted myself to other worthy causes – moral reform, worker’s rights, and the prevention of cruelty to animals – which have brought improvement to the lives of many, but never have I had a victory so great or so hard won. I think that had my life ended that day, I would have been content, knowing that its purpose been fulfilled.

But there were those who had done so much for our cause who could not be present that day: James Ramsay, Olaudah Equiano, and above all my dear friend William Pitt. Although as Prime Minister, he could not be seen to take such a partisan approach, I know that we could not have succeeded without him. Indeed, without him, I might never have begun such an arduous or rewarding undertaking to begin with. It is my greatest sorrow that he could not be present to see our work to its end.

In the study of his estate in Mill Hill, north of London, the old man sets down his pen. He is seventy-four years old, an elder statesman, a father and grandfather, a renowned campaigner and reformer, one of ‘the Saints.’ But time has come to sit heavily on him in these last few years – his eyesight is failing, his body aches, and he is wracked with frequent bouts of influenza and the ulcerative colitis that nearly killed him in his youth.

The light is fading now, and memories gather close. A cold Cambridge morning, breath frosting in the air and a warm hand in his; the rich, bitter taste of coffee on his tongue and the gleam in the eye of the young man who told him that together, they would change the world; the sweet heavy scent of tobacco and cologne, and the biting wit and wicked humour of the friend who kept him from being so serious, the only one who could always make him laugh. And the strange and precious tenderness of the more-than-friend whose brow he kissed, and at whose side he waited, though those last painful hours. Soon, I will be by your side again.


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