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Title: Bended Knee
Author: Derien
Fandom: Wodehouse
Pairing: Jeeves / Wooster
Summary: These things happen to couples, sometimes.
Notes: My version of the events that led up to the canon story "The Return of Jeeves," what was happening with Bertie Wooster while Jeeves was working for Lord Towcester, and how Jeeves actually came to 'return' (to Bertie) at the end of that story. And, if I've made any glaring errors with things like mentions of Regattas, please let me know. It sounded like something nice to say, what do I know about English culture. Next to nothing, that's what.


It hardly bears repeating how it came about; it was a silly enough argument that finally made up my mind - but I should start at the beginning, even if it was a foolish argument. It began, as it often does, with a girl. Although, not really, because the idea had been growing on me for a while that I had grown too dependent on Jeeves, that I was not my own man anymore. That was the way my mind was tacking when I met Robina Mettlethwaite, a friend of my cousin, Florence. She was lovely and she was sweet, with hair the color of ripe wheat, and I was quite taken with her after spending only a few minutes in her company.

But stop again. Perhaps it begins properly with my actual meeting of her. How did that come about, you might ask? And well you might.

Jeeves being away on his annual shrimping holiday, and there being little going on in town, I had gone to my Aunt Dahlia's for the week to enjoy the gastronomic art of her amazing cook, Anatole, and walk off his creations with numerous turns around the garden. Robina, a delicate girl, arrived only shortly before dinner on my first day there, in the company of Florence, and laughed at a few of my witticisms (I was in fine form) at dinner.

After dinner and one drink I excused myself from my Uncle Tom's company and stepped out through the French doors. The stars were blazing through the soft bluish gloom, and I had stepped only a little way down the footpath when I saw her sitting on a stone bench.

"Well!" I greeted her, "Lovely evening, what?" (because it was).

"Beautiful," she agreed, and looked up at me with eyes as blue as the gloom and yet as bright as the stars. How she managed that trick with the eyes I'll never know, but there it was. My breath was quite taken away, and I floundered for a few moments before thinking to ask her how she had come to meet Florence. She said they'd been at school together, "But then we met at the Regatta last month and she invited me to visit here. She said the cook was wonderful, and he is, and she said her Aunt was a sweetheart, really, and I can tell she is. Florence's family are all wonderful," she said, smiling at me, warmly.

"Ah, well don't say that too quickly! You haven't met her mother, my Aunt Agatha, have you?"

"No. Is she very horrible?"

"Always got it in for a nephew, that's for sure. Orders and plans for me, and she's a hard one to please. I don't know how often she's tried to get me married, and I've barely escaped with my skin."

"Ah, then you're not married? How wonderful!" she responded, giving me another of those brilliant, melting smiles. Then she asked me to accompany her down to the pond, to listen to the frogs sing, but she turned her ankle slightly while we were there, so had to lean on me a bit on the way back. She smelled wonderful, and suddenly I thought of Jeeves and felt guilty.

Now, you might wonder why I felt guilty. Of course I do try to keep it quiet, because it wouldn't be at all acceptable to the other members of the Drones club, let alone my family, if they knew that Jeeves was more to me than my valet - that he was, in fact, and had been for some time, more in the manner of, well, someone who means more than an employee, if you get my drift. Well, no, I suppose you might not - I am being a bit obtuse, as I have often made it widely known that he's more in the line of being a friend than an employee. What I mean to say is, he and I have often walked to that same pond, together, enjoying the soft breezes of that garden, as well as many other pleasant dalliances, and he has a right, now, to cough at me in a significant manner over my spending an unseemly amount of time in the company of a lovely girl.

So I felt guilty. And then, of course, because I very much enjoyed her leaning on my arm and I had an urge, as anyone might, to bury my nose in her hair, I began to feel unfairly angry at Jeeves, at his very existence and his right to cough in a significant manner. I justified it to myself that it wouldn't do for me to completely ignore Miss Mettlethwaite - that could start rumors of the sort that could mean ruin for both Jeeves and myself. In retrospect, of course, that was merely justification.

To make a longer story shorter, somehow, against the odds exhibited by all my previous experiences, I did not manage to end up engaged to Miss Mettlethwaite, which probably accounts for why I ended the week still very much enjoying the pleasure of her company. She went her way and I went mine, back to my flat in London, where, awaiting Jeeves immanent return from shrimping, I found myself increasingly irritable and annoyed. By the time I heard his light tread in the hall I was in a state. I tossed myself into a chair and grabbed up a book, attempting a leisurely pose. He trickled into the sitting room looking, as he always did when he returned from his holiday, as fit and bronzed as some god, and my heart flip-flopped in my chest like a fish on a line.

He paused the moment he had entered. "Is something amiss, Sir?" he asked, as respectfully as ever (he has refused to stop calling me 'Sir' on the grounds that if he gets out of the habit he might slip up in front of someone else).

"Of course not, what would make you say a thing like that? What could be amiss? Amiss? Amiss? No no."

"Very good, Sir." He flowed across the room, reaching as if to brush up my collar, and added, fondly, "I must assume that you have some purpose in brushing up your ability to read upside-down."

I flushed and tossed the book quickly to the table. "Do leave my collar alone! I say, Jeeves - it has come to my attention that you bully me."

"Bully you, Sir?"

"Bully me! Yes you do, and don't bother denying it! You're always telling me how to dress and what to do, and I'm sick of it. I won't stand for it any more!" I felt sick and stupid even as I said it, I knew what I was doing was wrong, but for the moment I wasn't sure how to derail myself from this path. I desperately wanted to be throwing myself into his arms and begging him to forgive me for being unfaithful, yet at the same time I felt that, were I to want to ever again be a normal man, I had to end this odd romance somehow. I can only think I must have gone slightly insane.

His eyes had gone steely as I spoke, and every line of his face and body gone sharp and hard.

"Very good, Sir," he responded coldly. "Will that be all?"

"Yes, that will be all. I think, under the circumstances, you should pack your things."

"Very good, Sir." He turned on his heel and headed for his lair.

"I.. I'll give you a good reference, of course," I called after him. Then I seized my coat and hat and left for my club. There, in the course of conversation with Bingo Little, I was reminded that Bill Belfry, the ninth Lord Towcester, was not having an easy time of it with his finances, due in part to his unfortunate tendency to always bet on losing horses. Jeeves, of course, knows everything about racehorses, so naturally I mentioned to Bingo that he could tell Bill that Jeeves was at liberty at the moment and I would send him up to Towcester Abby.

"Had a row, have you? He turned in his resignation?"

"No, no, not at all, of course not. I just - well, I've decided to attend that school, if you must know."

"What school's that?"

"The one in the paper - here, look." Sometimes the old Wooster brain is not a slouch. I had scanned the story just before Bingo had sat down next to me, and now I seized on it as a likely excuse. "For teaching the well-off how to do for themselves. Given the current political climate I've been lucky enough with my finances so far. If I find myself in Bill's place, with barely a cent to my name, I should be prepared."

"Sock darning? Bed making? Basic meal preparation?" Bingo laughed. "I can't imagine you! You, doing for yourself? You'll be lost without Jeeves. You can barely dress yourself!" Light dawned on his face, and he stabbed the paper with a forefinger. "These blighters are bloody brilliant! They'll make a fortune."

Unable to face Jeeves when I returned home, I left a note for him on the hall table:

"Have made inquiries re a butling position at Towcester Abby." Somehow, things got done - my clothing laid out, my breakfast cooked - and he managed to stay almost completely out of my sight during the next day as he packed his things. The morning of the third day he appeared as I was finishing my bacon and eggs.

"Sir, my preparations are complete. Is there anything else you require of me before I leave?"

I put down my coffee with a shaking hand, and found I could not look directly at him.

"I... No. No. If you go up to Towcester Abby on Thursday, the Lord Towcester has indicated that he'd be interested in engaging your services."

"Thank you, Sir."

"Carry on, Jeeves."

"Sir." And he was gone. Like that. I felt empty.

The door to his lair was closed, and I left it that way.


For the next several days, until I could set it up to go to the school, I felt as empty as Jeeves' lair, as did the rest of the flat. Somehow I managed to raise my head in the early afternoons, and dress myself, whereupon I went directly to the club. I convinced them to let me in at the school right away, explaining that I'd certainly starve otherwise.

I thought that once I got there all would be well - I would be taken up with my studies of darning and bedmaking, I wouldn't have time to think of Jeeves at all. No such luck. In every spare moment his face hung before me. With every badly tucked sheet on my bed I wondered at how I had watched Jeeves every morning performing this same task and never marveled at his coordination and skill, and my heart ached at the thought of never having the opportunity to watch him in action ever again. I contemplated the women I might now pursue, and realized that, no matter the softness of her voice and hand, I would never stop wishing to hear his voice again, and feel his hand upon mine as before. After classes I would throw myself onto my cot, which, though undoubtedly much softer than that I'd had at public school, seemed narrow and cold without him to comfort me. I seemed too fatigued to struggle yet again with the sock darning, after stabbing my fingers hundreds of times in class.

Then came the sock darning final. In a tither, having proven to myself that I was unable to master this arcane art, I sought out an old woman from the village and paid her a princely sum to do my sock for me. As you undoubtedly are already aware, my sock won first prize for the neatness of the stitching, and, the work being obviously far beyond what I had been able to do, my ruse was soon revealed by a jealous classmate. Yet, when I found myself called up before the Headmaster I felt, not anger and frustration, but a sudden elation. I was expelled. I had proven completely unable to fend for myself. I rang Jeeves up at Towcester Abby.

"Jeeves! It's me. Look, I know I've been a complete ass, and I can't expect that you'll ever forgive me, but I need you. I prostrate myself before your good nature. Please help me."

"Sir? What seems to be the problem?"

"Problem? Well, everything, really. I mean, I just can't get by without you. Dash it all, Jeeves, I can't do a thing without you. I'm completely unable..." I paused, conscious of the fact that telephonic communications are often not completely private, and then filled him in on the sock darning incident. I concluded with; "I've been horribly, horribly stupid and I've treated you most abominably, and, well, I'm hoping you'll accept my apology, if you follow my meaning. If I haven't said enough, will you at least come discuss it with me in person?"

"Well." There was a long pause, and I could picture his expression from the tone of that one word. "My services are required by Lord Towcester at the moment. However, it is possible that I could wrap up the one or two small matters which are engaging my attentions in the next day or so. I will be willing to come to London and discuss the situation with you at that point."

"Thank you. I know I had no right at all to expect even that much after my having been such an ass." Never let it be said that Wooster, B. does not know how to debase himself properly when he deserves to do so - and believe me, what I report of the telephone conversation was nothing as to how I furiously bended my knee, so to speak, when I had the opportunity to do so in person. And so, happily, Jeeves was returned to me, and all was well in the Wooster household once again.

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