I'm Not Helpless
Pairing: Alexander/Angelica, HAMILTON
Disclaimer: Not nearly as historically accurate as the musical. Sorry.
She loves him.
I think she’s loved him longer than I’ve loved him, and sometimes it seems like I’ve loved him my whole life.
But then, I’ve loved her my whole life, too, so I suppose it all fits together.
Growing up, I worshipped her with my entire being, following on her heels like a particularly annoying puppy, fixing my hair to look like hers, wearing her hand-me-downs with pride, trying (and failing) to read those annoyingly obtuse pamphlets she carried everywhere just in case she wanted to discuss them with me.
God, she must have been so irritated with me, the way I was irritated with Peggy when she came along a few years after, following me the way I’d followed Angelica. I got over it, of course. I love Peggy so much.
But not like I love Angelica. Sometimes I think she’s the other side of my heart.
Suitors were never really an issue between us. I had my crushes, she had hers, and never the twain did meet. Until that night, at the Winter’s Ball.
Angelica has always been the most intellectual of the Schuyler sisters. Everyone says so, and to be honest, I don’t disagree. I mean, I can hold a conversation. I’m not an idiot. But Angelica, well, she’s brilliant. Just in conversations with her, you can tell - how fast she makes connections, what she remembers, how unafraid she is to argue her position. To be honest, it makes some men run away, but if they can’t match her wits, they’re not a good match for her, period.
She isn’t loathe to point out a handsome profile or well-turned leg, but for Angelica, it’s always been a matter of finding a mind at work.
So when I saw her walking toward Alexander Hamilton that night, at the Ball, my heart sank to my toes. I knew enough of his reputation - and enough of my own sister’s mind - to see just how suited they were for each other intellectually. Two brilliant minds, circling and connecting, forever and always. If only I hadn’t fallen for him first.
But I, with my shy demeanor and quiet ways, had barely worked up the courage to look at him from across the room before she strode right to his side, brash as New York City in the sunlight. In an instant, I saw my hopes burn to ash, the taste bitter on my tongue. I turned, swallowing my disappointment, only to be startled when they appeared at my side. Together.
She introduced us. He looked at me. I looked at him. And she faded into the background.
I thought, for a while, that I’d misinterpreted the two of them. That she’d never really been interested in him, and was only looking out for me. Even when she joked about wanting me to share him, I laughed and shook my head. Such a tease, that sister of mine.
But once the glimmer of new love had turned to the gentle glow of marriage and children, and the stars in my eyes lifted, I could see. The way she looked at him, when he wasn’t looking. The way he looked at her, when he thought I wasn’t looking. The way their breaths hitched whenever their orbits drifted too close to each other.
It was clear as water in a still pond. She loved him. He loved her. And because they both loved me, nothing would ever come of it.
Eventually, she married, and married well. Her husband was rich, and English, and dull as dishwater. My heart ached for her, every time he pontificated and she sat quietly, biting her tongue. Don’t get me wrong, he was perfectly nice. He treated her well. .
But he didn’t see the brilliance in my sister, and around him, her spark muted.
He was busy, of course. Focused always on his business interests, his money, he was away for long stretches of time, and those were the weeks and months Angelica became almost a new member of our family. She’d come by for dinner, or go to the park with Phillip and me, or throw herself into a spirited debate with Alexander and whichever of his compatriots were over for a drink in the evening. She fit, like a puzzle piece we didn’t know was missing until it wasn’t there.
Until her husband announced that he was returning to England, and Angelica was going with him.
At first, I was horrified. How could he take her away from us? From me?
But of course, it was the way of things. A wife follows her husband, not her sister. And certainly not her sister’s husband.
We ignored it studiously as the day approached. There would be letters. She would visit, of course. Her husband did not need her every day of the year, certainly?
And then it was upon us, the eve of her departure, and her absence loomed large like a shadow rushing across the countryside.
The two of them came over for a farewell dinner, and we talked and laughed until the candles burned low. At some point her husband returned to their home, as was his habit. He was not one for staying out late. And they were leaving in the morning.
As he departed, I pleaded with Angelica to stay. “Spend the night,” I urged. “One last time. For old time’s sake.”
Hours later, we turned in for the night. Phillip was asleep, of course. I took Angelica to the guest room and ensured everything was in order. The bed was turned down, and everything she would need was waiting. We chatted about nothing as she changed into her night rail and brushed her long, beautiful hair.
It was her last night on this continent, possibly forever. She loved him. He loved her. I loved both of them.
I could not give them much, but I could give them this.
I kissed her on the cheek, told her to have a good night, and slipped out of the room. Down the hall, in his office, Alexander leaned over a sheaf of paper, scratching with his quill, his writing never as quick as his mind. I stood there for a moment, my heart bursting with love for him, until he sensed my presence and looked up.
“What is it, my love?” He narrowed his eyes in the dim lamp light. “Is everything all right?”
Not trusting my voice, I just nodded, holding a hand out towards him. He rose from his chair and placed his hand in mine. I led him down the hall to the guest room.
Alexander looked at me quizzically when I knocked quietly on the door. At her muffled “come in”, I opened it and drew him inside.
His sharp intake of breath upon seeing her figure silhouetted in the candle glow, the night rail almost transparent, told me I had the right of it. Angelica rushed to cover herself with the counterpane, but I shook my head. Reaching out, I took her hand in mine. His hand in my left, hers in my right, both of them staring at each other, breaths growing more rapid and more shallow.
I tugged Alexander forward, and he stumbled a little as he approached the bed. They were close enough now for me to join their hands together. I stepped away.
They both looked at me, questions in their eyes. I smiled softly. “I’ll leave you to it,” I said, and slipped back out of the room.
I love him. I love her. They love each other, and she’s leaving in the morning.
He will be here, home, at the end of the day. That will be enough.