Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Dick, Alfred Pennyworth
Genres: AU, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): G
Warnings (this chapter): None
General Summary: A series of daring robberies on Gotham City’s Gold Coast catches the attention of the Raven and the Nightingale.
Chapter Summary: Dick receives a Grand Tour of the Manor.
Date Of Completion: September 2, 2014
Date Of Posting: June 17, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1525
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Entered into my2015 DCU Fic/Art Dick Grayson Diamond Anniversary Challenge. The entire series can be found here.
Tall and proud,
As the waves
Sir Jeremy Hackstead
"In Days Of Old"
Dick’s eyes grew wide as the carriage went up the circular driveway. Stately elms and maple trees bordered the drive and flanked the grand Manor, a house of gabled magnificence and Ionic columns. It was old, at least as Americans measured age. Europe contained houses that had been in use in the Middle Ages. Wayne Manor’s provenance could be traced back to the 1600s, but the structure had been added to in subsequent years.
Dick was immediately drawn to it. Its brooding architecture seemed to fit somehow. Surrounded on three rides by rolling green lawns and thick woods, the fourth side looked out over the ocean.
“Heathcliff on the moors,” muttered Dick.
“Did you say something?” Bruce asked.
“Just that it’s beautiful.”
Bruce was pleased. “Wait ‘til you see inside.”
The driver stopped the carriage and his passengers alighted. Alfred went up the steps, unlocking the oak door that held a gleaming brass knocker.
“Alfred had a cleaning service come in. They dusted off a year’s worth of mustiness.”
They stepped into the foyer. The parquet floor was composed of black-and-white tiles and a chandelier glittered high above, directly over a polished mahogany table with a porcelain bowl of gold and red chrysanthemums. Polished suits of armor were set in the alcoves and a grand staircase stretched high up to the second floor. A stained-glass window sparkled brilliantly on the landing.
“Beautiful,” Dick murmured.
“How about a tour?” Bruce asked.
“I shall get luncheon started,” Alfred said.
Bruce led Dick across the foyer to the front parlor. Dark walnut furniture was placed throughout the long room: overstuffed chairs and a horsehair sofa with stiff pillows. The color scheme was dark green, and the drapes at the windows were a lighter watersilk green fringed with black tassels. The mantelpiece was imported Carrera marble and a painting of an English foxhunt hung above it. The wallpaper was patterned green-and-gold and the carpet was an expensive Aubusson.
Dick hid his dismay that everything was so dark. At least there were several windows overlooking the grounds.
Should get some light in.
Bruce escorted Dick down the hall and showed the dining room with a long walnut table and chairs and massive sideboard. A sparkling chandelier hung over the table. The wallpaper was yellow-sprigged against a cream background.
The next room was Bruce’s study with a large walnut desk, a small fireplace, a couch and two chairs, and tall French doors and windows with comfortable windowseats that overlooked magnificent gardens. The walls were paneled in dark wood and paintings of landscapes hung on the walls.
The room next to it was the library with three walls lined with full bookshelves, more French doors and windows with a view of the gardens, and a tall grandfather clock against one wall. Two large chairs were set before the fireplace.
What attracted Dick’s attention was a large, gilt-framed portrait of a handsome man, beautiful woman, and charming young boy. The man wore a dark-blue suit and vest with a gold chain and pocketwatch, and stood next to a chair where the woman sat in a pale blue silk gown wearing a string of lustrous pearls. The boy wore a dark-blue suit with starched white shirt as he stood on the other side of the chair. Their clothing and hairstyles were from nearly two decades ago.
Dick stood in front of the portrait. “Your parents.”
“That’s right.” Bruce stood next to Dick. “Thomas and Martha Wayne.”
“You were a handsome little boy.”
Dick curled his fingers around Bruce’s hand and squeezed.
After several minutes Bruce said, “Let me show you the upstairs.” He smiled slightly. “Oh, I almost forgot. One more little room.”
They went to the back of the house and Bruce opened a set of doors, amused as Dick’s jaw dropped. He walked into the cavernous ballroom, craning his neck to see the three giant chandeliers hanging from the vaulted frescoed ceiling. Tall French windows looked out over the ocean. The polished hardwood floors gleamed under the chandeliers and Dick danced out to the center of the vast ballroom. He performed a pirouette and bowed elaborately as if to a cheering audience.
“Magnifique!” Dick said.
“So you approve?”
“Of this ‘little room’? Yes, I do."
“You’re welcome to practice here at any time.”
“Thank you.” Dick danced down the length of the floor, then turned and danced all the way back to where an amused Bruce stood.
“Shall we go upstairs?” He offered his arm and Dick took it with a smile.
They ascended the grant staircase and walked down a hall lined with small pier tables containing vases of fresh flowers. Gilt-edged mirrors were interspersed with Impressionist paintings.
Bruce hesitated in front of a door. “This is the master bedroom. Perhaps you would like your own room?”
“What if I store my costumes in a separate room and keep daywear in your room, where I’d sleep?”
Very satisfied by this compromise, Bruce opened the door to his room. Dick entered and was impressed by the huge four-poster bed and the rich furniture: a dresser, bureau, and nightstands were set on each side of the bed. The wallpaper was dark-green with golden patterns, the drapes heavy black velvet with golden cords, and the lush carpet was a rich, dark gold.
Dark again. Oh, well, I can add my own touches.
“There is a private bath here.” Bruce opened the door. “You’ll find the plumbing quite modern. Tradition is one thing, but a working water closet is another.”
Dick laughed. “I agree.”
A knock on the door interrupted their badinage. Bruce said, “Come in.”
Alfred opened the door. “The luggage is here, sir.”
“Excellent. Please have them bring it up to this room.”
“At once, Master Bruce.”
The Queen Mary’s porters carried the trunks and bags upstairs. Bruce and Dick’s luggage soon filled the room as Dick directed what trunks went in the room next door, and Alfred requested his luggage brought to his room.
Dick immediately grasped a small cedarwood box on Bruce’s bed and opened it. On a red velvet base nestled the glittering bejeweled nightingale in its golden cage that Bruce had given him for Christmas.
“Ah, my beautiful Nightingale,” said Bruce as he watched Dick set the music box in a place of honor on the dresser. He laughed as Dick wound the key and the nightingale sang its sweet, clear song.
Dick liked the kitchen immediately. Alfred explained that part of the kitchen was from Revolutionary times. He pointed to the beams overhead.
“This place is incredible.”
Alfred smiled. “It is my favorite room in the house.”
“I can see why.” Dick looked at the oakwood cabinets and the large table with the embroidered cloth. The big, black, cast-iron stove dominated the room. A wooden cutting board held preparations for the midday meal. “It’s a warm, charming place.”
Bruce entered the kitchen. “We’re all unpacked, Alfred.”
Bruce held up a hand. “No protests, Alfred. I am perfectly capable of putting away my shirts and hanging up my own jackets.”
“Well, almost,” Dick said with a wink.
Bruce harrumphed. “I’ll show you the garden after lunch.”
“I’d like that.”
Luncheon was the last of the garden tomatoes, crisp iceburg lettuce, and imported mustard on wheat bread with tall glasses of iced tea with a spring of mint adorning each one. The delicious smell of gingerbread permeated the kitchen, and Alfred served warm squares with a dollop of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top.
After the meal, Bruce escorted Dick to the formal gardens. Dick liked them immediately. The profusion of colors and variety of blooms were a delight to the eye. He loved the giant sunflowers and the pink hollyhocks and the sturdy red, orange, and gold chrysanthemums. There was a fountain with a cherubic marble water bearer and Bruce explained that it would be checked out and soon splashing water again after its long idleness.
“Alfred has his kitchen garden over there.” Bruce pointed to the east. “He plants tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, scallions, and a host of other good things.”
“You will discover that Alfred’s cooking rivals that of the finest chefs in Europe.”
“I have no doubt.” He could still taste that exquisite gingerbread. He took a deep breath of sea air. “You’re so lucky to live here.”
Bruce nodded slowly. “I’m beginning to appreciate that fact more lately.”
“You didn’t before?”
Bruce shrugged. “I did when I was a child, but after my parents…died…I took it for granted. I was angry at the world. Still am, sometimes.” He cupped a sunflower. “I drank; I gambled; I wanted to rail against the world. I asked why, but of course there was no answer.”
“I know,” Dick said softly.
Their eyes met and they understood each other perfectly. Bruce took hold of Dick’s hand and they walked to the seawall.