forum Historical OxO // Closed
Started by @Icefire

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"James," he nodded, repeating the smaller boy's name in attempt to familiarize the words on his tongue. "Smith Bishop." He offered in return, not detailing much more. It had taken him some time to even accept the last name from his stepparents and family, not wanting to burden them with yet another child…yet now it stuck, heeding yet another nickname in town.

"We could, uh, walk together, perhaps?" Smith offered, a rare, unsure expression crossing his thin features. It was rare for him to offer someone the opportunity to walk with him, much less talk, though he assumed that he could use it to his advantage and learn more about the rumors. Yes, that was it. Just learning about the rumors. Nothing about James. "Tell me about the Church? I haven't been since I was a young boy with my parents."

Smith began to walk down the weeded path and towards the street, motioning for James to follow. The weather was quite dismal and grey, a slight fog hanging between the stone buildings at this hour, but he seemed content with it.


Jamie hesitated for just a moment, before falling in step beside Smith. "It's…well. Do you want to know about the church in general, or the one here, specifically?" he asked, eyebrows pulling together just a little bit. He paused for a moment. "Because…the church in general…Christianity…there are a lot of different branches and I'm not really familiar with them all. But, I suppose that the branches don't matter as much, so long as the bible is followed. So. The church here is run by my father, and…and he's the reverend. This isn't a big enough town to need more than just, well, one reverend, so it's just my father who runs the place and preaches. He leads the music, too, and invites some people to help out by playing instruments or helping to lead in the singing." he wasn't quite sure what exactly Smith wanted to know. "The church here is…is Anglican, my father says, which is very similar to Catholicism."

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Smith nodded, though struggling to follow with what James was saying. He had not been raised in a very religious household when he had been growing up, and even less of one now with his adopted family. The pastor was not someone he was very acquainted with either, though he did not doubt that he would have to meet him tonight.

"And, do you help your the pastor–your father– with all the Church duty's?" Smith added curiously, sparing a glance down at the smaller boy. Perhaps James was training to become the next one to be taking care of the Church?


Jamie nodded a little. "Yeah. It…it would be too much work for one person, so I help. I'm not…I'm not a pastor or a reverend or a preacher or anything, I don't do that sort of thing, but I help keep the church clean. Sometimes I'll help with the music." his eyes flickered around for a moment. For all his talking about the church, he didn't really…sound passionate about it. It just sounded…almost dull, coming from his lips. Like he did all of this because he had no other choice in the matter, despite being 20 years old. Like he was stuck like that, just helping his father and doing what his father said to do.

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Smith hummed in quiet understanding, listening to the tone that James used as he spoke about the Church and his own father. It seemed drilled and meek, as if he were cowering from some strange force that would smite him this very second. The thought of being practically forced into a religion–if that truly was what was happening– terrified him. At least with the Bishops he had the choice to take on specific traditions.

"In that case, uh, you play an instrument?" Smith asked carefully, wanting to lift the mood of the conversation. They had made it much closer into town, stands already up for the bleak Saturday market. He was rarely in town compared to the rest of his family, and the looks he received reciprocated that. Often times the townspeople stared at him, not like the loving looks his younger sister received at her rosy, healthy cheeks and golden hair…a look that made him feel unknown and separated.

"I used to play a little violin when I was younger, but I nearly forgot everything. My…my father was the more talented one," he added, tempted to fill the silence as the two walked through the street together.


Jamie nodded a little. "My mother taught me, before she died." he replied softly. "Piano and violin." he shrugged a little bit. "I…I prefer the violin, I think. It's…smaller. And I like the sound better." he swallowed a little bit, running a hand through his hair and looking around the town cautiously, then up at Smith. Maybe his presence beside the young man would negate some of the strange looks? Jamie was, after all, the pastor's son. Anyone who attended the church would recognize him.

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"I'd have to hear you play sometime then," Smith replied nonchalantly, not realizing his words until he pursed his lips immediately after. What was he saying? To the pastor's son. He took a quick breathe in, sparing a glance at James before looking back towards the town. He was on a frantic search to find something intelligent to piece together and say.

"Uh, which shop are you looking for? Mr. Miller is supposed to meet me in the back of the general store in a few minutes." Smith rushed, though luckily his anxious thoughts did not reciprocate on his expression. He scolded himself mentally, not understanding why all of a sudden he could not be quiet around this petite man.


Jamie bit his lip a little. "If you come to church, you will." He replied slowly. "And I was…going to head to the post office. My father had to order new hymnals, since someone keeps defacing the ones we had with…vulgar drawings." His mouth pinched as he remembered his father's anger at the discovery of the drawings, in nearly half of the worn hymnals that the church had owned for years. New ones had been expensive. More expensive than his father had wanted to pay, but the church had needed the hymnals. He shrugged a little, glancing around until he located the post office.

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(After this should we skip to later in the day when the two are getting ready to go to church?)

Smith frowned, wondering who could have possibly done such a thing. He was not very well-read or religious himself, though he would never lay his hands on someone else's religious texts. That was unthinkable.

"I'll see you later today then? I'll be sure the whole family attends," he finally replied, cocking his head to the side in question as he watched James. He was late to pick up the herbs already, and with a hand raised in a faint wave and the crooks of his lips in a friendly smile, he turned and took off towards the general store. Though, as soon as Smith brushed past a few townspeople, the momentary peaceful expression slipped away. He dreaded what he would have to tell his family when he came home…and the new part that they would all have to play.


(sure! Do you want to do that, or should I?)

Jamie nodded a little bit. "Yes, of course. Thank you." He said, smiling quickly and then turning away to head to the post office. He walked to the counter, and was handed the box. It was a bit heavy for him, really, but he wouldn't have breathed a word of complaint, had anyone asked about the burden. He could carry it, and that was all that mattered. He carried it to the church, which took longer than expected due to the distance between the post office and the church. He set the box down to open the door to the church, and carried it inside. Once inside, he distrubuted the hymnals to the rows that they belonged to. Once he reached the final two, he placed one in the pulpit for his father, and the second at the piano for himself. After a moment of hesitation, he sat down at the piano and began to play, closing his eyes and letting the melodies pour from his fingertips.

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(I can probably do it since Smith still has to tell his family!)

A few hours had passed since Smith had last seen the pastor's son, and only around half of an hour since he had explained to his family the dreadful news. Mrs. Bishop lost her afternoon smile as she prepared the final medicines that were to be brought to Lynnfield later this week, the traces of momentary joy practically slipping off her graying features. Even Constance had heard, innocent eyes and thin brows twisted in confusion. She didn't know what going to the Church truly meant.

"We knew this would happen soon, hm?" Mr. Bishop had finally spoken up, wrapping an arm around his wife's waist and holding her securely. His sister leaned into his touch as Smith watched from afar, tall figure staying put in the corridor, his stance anxious and bothered. "But not to fear, we're simply apothecaries, not sinners. We may not share the same religion, but we are not violent folks. We'll attend Church one a week from now on…just a new tradition, yes?"

We're not sinners. We are not sinners. Mr. Bishop's words continued to play through Smith's head as he got ready, quietly, in the small bedroom he shared with Constance. Of course, he believed his father's words, and he knew them to be true. They were not full of hate or violence like most priests and townspeople spoke of, his family was kind and gentle, using their traditions in order to help heal! What was the harm in that? He sighed, already knowing the answer. This world was an unforgiving place, and it was easier to keep leather bound books, rituals and hymns hidden deeply away in the cellar.

"Frown any harder and you might mess up your pretty face," a soft voice called out, approaching the same, dusted mirror that Smith was standing in front of. His sister was completely prepared, long hair pulled into matching braids, a ribboned dress cinched carefully at her waist, innocent and carefree. Not the sinner the pastor spoke of. "Let me help, you can barely knot a tie by yourself."

Smith nodded, allowing his hands droop to his sides and Constance took over, his expression able to soften. He mustn't worry her so much, he was supposed to be the strong one. "Sorry," the older boy murmured softly, even allowing Constance to fix up his dark hair which seemed to grow even longer as the month's passed by, a few strands tucking evenly behind his ears. Smith looked…nice. "I shouldn't be so grim. The Church isn't such a terrible place…and we'll be in and out." It sounded much simpler in his head.


Jamie was helping his father get everything ready. He lit the candles, ensured that the hymnals were in place, opened curtains. The church wasn't a large one, but it was big enough to fit everyone it needed to, and that was all that mattered. He pulled on a nice jacket over his white shirt and waistcoat, using a dark green ribbon to tie his hair back in a low ponytail.

"James." his father said from where he stood in the pulpit, dressed in the garments he wore every time he preached. "I want you to keep an eye on that Holland family, if they bother to show up." by the tone in his voice, it was obvious that the reverend did not expect the Holland's to actually show up.

Jamie nodded a little. "Of course, father." he replied. Within a few minutes, the congregation began to arrive, trickling to their seats or standing in clumps to talk to each other. Those who would be assisting with the music headed towards the front, and Jamie greeted people at the door, a chipper smile plastered to his face. He hated having to greet everyone, but his father made him. He hated being here in general; the church always felt like a prison, like he was slowly suffocating to death inside of it, while his father watched.

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The Bishop family approached the Church entrance, ushered by a group that had already begun to trickle into the large entryway. Smith's mother was situated anxiously, barely moving until Mr. Bishop placed a calming hand on her lower back, steering her towards the large crowd. He couldn't help but feel nervous as well, low music playing in the hollow building, the sound only aiding his anxiety…and the fact that he looked out of place among his family members.

The Bishop's were known for their sandy blonde locks and clear eyes, while Smith was situated behind them with his tall, lanky frame and dark attributes. Though, he had to admit his appearance looked much better than usual; dark hair brushed away from his structured features, a nice buttoned up shirt and navy overcoat, his warm eyes not as reservedly pursed, instead open with curiosity as the family entered the church. It wasn't as…sullen as he had imagined it would be.

"It's so strange," Constance spoke up at Smith's side, her arm wrapped around his in a familiar manner. Her tone wasn't belittling, but more of curiosity at this unknown. After all, she had been raised in a family only knowing her parent's way of life…not this religion.

"Remember, we've been to Church before. We're the Bishop's after all," Smith offered in a murmur, his curious expression instead replaced with one of reserved, daily norm, as if he came to Church everyday. It was very convincing, until his eyes landed upon the petite, auburn haired man greeting guests at the entrance. The pastor's son.


Jamie lifted his eyes a little when he realized that the Hollands had arrived, and accidentally made eye contact with Smith. He froze for a moment, then quickly looked away again, lower lip catching between his teeth. Smith looked…no, he wasn't going to allow that thought train any further. A man shall not be with another man as he would a woman; it is an abomination. The verse rang through his head and he took in a breath to steel himself.

Soon enough, it was time for service to begin, and he made his way to the piano, waiting as his father prayed and service began. He played the hymns as he was supposed to, not daring to lift his eyes from the music to glance out at the audience. Not when he had already nearly misstepped, not when he had already committed something that, if not a sin, was so very close to one.

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Smith went to go speak to James, perhaps say a polite hello, but the service seemed to be beginning. He wasn't sure on where to go or what to do, instead following closely behind his parents to the wooden stands as Constance remained latched on to his arm. As the service continued, he struggled to follow along with the strange hymns, books and prayers, but tried his best to mutter most of the words under his breath. Especially when the pastor was in such close proximity.

Though, most of the service Smith found himself watching James play the piano, the way he delicately pressed the keys and his soft attention towards the music. It was…nice. He wasn't sure why he felt so drawn to this other man, deciding to blame it on the fact that he was one of the very few that truly tried to hold a conversation with him. But he couldn't seem to help letting his eyes wander, studying James' freckled face and hair tied loosely at the nape of his neck. What had gotten into him?


Jamie sat quietly in the front when he wasn't playing the piano, bible open on his lap as he followed along with the sermon. If he looked any less than perfectly attentive, there would be consequences. His father saw any slip of attention as a sign of returning sin, of Jamie turning back towards the sinful ways he had felt in the past. And he owuldn't allow that to happen. He chewed on his lower lip a little, acutely aware of the fact that Smith was here, and he didn't even know why he felt this way. Smith was just another person. Just another boy, here because James had said that the Holland's needed to come. That was all. Nothing more, nothing less. James wouldn't allow himself to consider that it was anything else.

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"Who is he?" Constance murmured, leaning over towards her brother as she followed Smith's gaze to the man sitting in front of the piano. The pastor was deep into a prayer, not taking notice of the two siblings congregating, heads low.

Smith seemed startled by the question as he fixed the collar of his neatly buttoned-up shirt, careful not to let his reaction show. "Oh, James?" He began, gazing at his fidgeting fingers in the palm of his lap. "The, um, pastor's son. We only met this morning." The older boy finished with a shrug, keeping his voice low as he listened to the lines the pastor recited. He glanced towards his parent's who seemed a bit uncomfortable in the pews, yet they were heedful not to let it resonate on their expressions.

"He's very talented, is he not? I wish I could play the piano nearly as well as him," Constance murmured, glancing towards Smith as if gauging his reaction. He pursed his lips tightly with a barely noticeable shrug, though his mind was whirring inside. Why hadn't James returned his gaze? Did he not like Smith's presence here? It wouldn't be the first time this had happened.


Jamie was careful to be perfect in his father's eyes, doing everything he needed to when he needed to. At long last, the service was over, and people began to leave, some sticking around to talk to each other or the reverend if they wished. Jamie moved to help a few of the older folks if they needed it, carefully supporting them on his arm. He glanced at Smith for a moment, then away again, reminding himself that he could not commit a sin. Reminding himself that sin was sin and it didn't matter what he thought. God knew his heart.

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Finally, the service was over and Smith could finally breathe, already disliking the tight space that the church was compromised of. He stood and stretched, brushing a hand through his dark hair in order to muss it, much to his sister's complaints.

"Come with me, Smith," Constance reached out, latching herself back on his arm and dragging him out of the wooden pews and towards the Church entrance. Smith looked absolutely windswept, a confused expression overtaking his face. "I'd like to introduce myself to your new friend. James, is it?" She explained, voice chirping giddily as if she had forgotten where they were.

Smith voiced many of his complaints as the young girl dragged him towards the auburn-haired man, lanky legs struggling not to fall amongst the crowd trickling out, yet it was too late. Constance positioned him right in front of James as he returned from helping an elderly couple, a bright smile adorning her soft features. He stood awkwardly, hand behind his neck in an odd, bashful manner. Of course she has to be doing this right now, of all places, of all people!

"My brother says he knows you?" The blonde spoke up, offering James a soft, friendly grin. "I told him I doubted he knew someone who was so talented at playing an instrument." Smith practically rolled his eyes at this, not surprised that Constance was pulling out all the charms on James.


James blinked, looking faintly surprised. "I, ah, yes. I introduced myself earlier today." He replied slowly, glancing up at Smith for a moment, then at the girl. "I'm James Asher, and you, miss?" He was being polite. Always polite. He didn't really understand why the two were speaking to him. "How did you enjoy the service?" He didn't specify either one of them, figuring one of them would answer it. He was pleased at the compliment, of course he was, but he wasn't quite sure how to respond to it.

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Smith gave Constance a hard look, one that read why are we here, but truth be told, he had wanted to talk to James again. It was nice to have someone to speak to…even if his bothered expression did not show it.

“Constance Bishop, Smith’s beloved sister,” she offered, elbowing her older brother in the side as if she was trying to get him engaged in the conversation.
He winced, narrowing his warm eyes unhappily before turning his unwavering gaze towards James.

“Oh, uh, it was nice. Reminded me of the ones we all used to go to…before work at the apothecary and, um, measles.” Smith spoke up, tripping over his words with a soft frown adorning his lips, glancing at Constance for help. “Your playing was, um, nice too.” He added meekly, steeling himself off before he could open his mouth again. You sound absolutely idiotic Smith. Why was he acting like this? He blamed it on the appearance he had to keep up at the Church.


Jamie smiled a little. "Nice to meet you, Miss Constance." He replied. "And…thanks. My playing isn't…my mother was better. But thank you. I'll…I'll tell my father that your family was here. He…he will be pleased." He fidgeted just a little, reaching up to tuck back a strand of hair behind his ear.

His eyes flickered around until he located his father. The reverend was talking with some other people with his back to Jamie, Smith, and Constance. So it was safe. He looked at Smith and Constance again, a little more relaxed now.

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"Well, I suppose our presence will be required in the next weeks as well," Constance began, her eyes flickering between Smith and James, a bright look alight on her features. She was too naive to really understand why their presence was so necessary. "It appears as if we'll be spending a lot of time together! Perhaps–"

"Yes, we will be here a lot more often," Smith cut his sister off with a stern look, his relaxed expression from a few minute ago dissipating as he realized where his family was. A church, with the same people who believed their kind to be sinners. He felt almost disgusted with himself for thinking a pastor and his son would change, even if they didn't know the Bishop family's history, what with the rumors of hangings he had heard. Yes, he enjoyed James' presence, but he must had just mistaken it for the polite comradery from this morning…nothing more.

"I believe we have to be on our way, unfortunately. A lot of, uh, herbs and such to be delivered to Lynnfield tomorrow morning," Smith continued, looping a strong hand around Constance's thin arm, his stance a lot more tense than usual. He felt almost bad to be pushing away such a gentle soul like James, though he wasn't sure if the kindness was simply to get the Bishop family to come to church. The times were too dangerous for Smith to finally let his guard down. Constance looked between Smith and James with a sad frown, recognizing the whirring thoughts that seemed to darken her older brother's expression.


Jamie seemed a bit confused when Smith's manner turned cold, and he seemed to pull into himself a bit. "Oh. Yes, of…of course." He said quickly, pushing down the disappointment that had risen. He didn't even understand why he was disappointed. Smith was just…not even an acquaintance, it shouldn't matter. It didn't. "I should…go help my father. Have a good day." He dipped his head in a nod to them, and slipped back over to his father, then began to collect the hymnals, putting them away.

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(Also, I was thinking that much later in the rp once James and Smith get to know each other better, perhaps the way his heritage is revealed is when a disease comes to their town…and maybe Smith's family has to heal James or someone else in front of him? Just a few thoughts for later :) )

Smith nodded slowly, watching the manner James seemed to make haste, leaving him behind with a pursed, disappointed expression. He didn't want to leave, but it was better this way. He wanted to keep the rest of the family save. Needed to. Yet somehow he couldn't take his eyes off the other man. Why? He didn't know.

"We need to be more careful, okay? You heard what was happening in the other church's." Smith finally muttered quietly to Constance, who nodded quickly in understanding, sensing her brother's off put energy. She chose to stay quiet, looping an arm around his and leading him away from the church gently.

The Bishop's would return home like normal, keep their leather books tucked away carefully, traditions to themselves, and remain the simple apothecary family they were. They would go to Church every Sunday from now on and pretend to mouth the words. It was going to be a new normal, but Smith couldn't bear to see the rumors from the neighboring towns become a reality in his own home.