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beth writing 30 days without

FIC - The Walking Dead - Little Hidden Secrets - Bethyl, PG, 1/1

Title: Little Hidden Secrets
Rating: PG
Characters: Maggie, Beth, Daryl, Glenn
Relationships: Maggie/Glenn, Beth/Daryl
Summary: Over a week had passed before Maggie noticed. That was when Maggie really began to watch her sister and Daryl. Oh, there was nothing overt, Maggie would be the first to tell anyone they did not act like a couple. At least not in the traditional sense. Post Terminus from Maggie's POV.

Little Hidden Secrets

Over a week had passed before Maggie noticed, and then only because Glenn had brought it to her attention. She was so happy to have what was left of her family together again in the same place, that she had been oblivious to everything else. All she wanted to do was wrap Beth and Glenn up in her protective embrace and never let them go. Had Beth been a little younger, she would have done exactly that, but Maggie had the good sense to know that her sister was no longer a child. She was still sweet Beth, but the young woman that had emerged after the fall of the prison had a toughness about her they had not seen before, and a new understanding of her own abilities that none of them had been willing to acknowledge. They had become so accustomed to thinking that Beth needed protection.

“Relax,” Glenn had said to Maggie one evening. She had been particularly fretful about Beth’s safety because her sister had volunteered to help with guard duty. “Beth is as capable as the rest of us. She can handle it. Besides, Daryl isn’t going to let anything happen to her.”

That was when Maggie really began to watch her sister and Daryl. Oh, there was nothing overt. Maggie would be the first to tell anyone they did not act like a couple. At least not in the traditional sense. Not like her and Glenn. The change in their relationship was expressed in interactions much more subtle. A glance, a touch, a softly spoken word meant only for one another. A wordless nearness that only the survivors of a mutual trauma could understand.

Everyone’s experience after the Governor destroyed their sanctuary had been different. Slowly, as they re-established the hierarchy of their group, individual stories began to emerge. Stories of flight, walkers, danger and often, ironically, crossing paths with other members of the group and close encounters unknown until now. They had all been so near to each other but unable to re-connect. Beth’s story unfolded in the quiet of the evening as the two sisters sat huddled together talking long into the night. While Maggie trusted Daryl Dixon implicitly and could not have chosen a more capable person to entrust Beth’s life and well-being to, she realized that Beth’s sojourn with him had been more difficult than the day to day dangers of this new life. Grieving but unable to mourn, constantly on the move, Daryl’s sullen, unresponsive silence had, literally, driven Beth to drink.

“I know Daddy wouldn’t have approved,” Beth said softly. It was well past midnight and most of the camp was asleep, but Maggie sensed that now was the right time, and Beth needed a listener. “But I had to do something. I needed a goal. Anything. I couldn’t spend another night staring across a campfire at Mr. Dixon.”

She told Maggie about the country club, and the moonshiner’s shack. About finally getting Daryl to acknowledge his own grief. About getting gloriously drunk and turning into an arsonist with Daryl’s willing help. Maggie was not shocked by Beth drinking. Maggie had more than a few drunken outings herself in her rebellious college years. But she was pleased with her little sister’s depth of understanding and her ability to draw out, then comfort Daryl Dixon.

“After that things got easier,” Beth said. “At least he would talk to me. Most of the time. Sometimes things I said or did upset him, but after he cooled down we worked it out.”

Daryl taught her to hunt and track and a myriad other skills that helped her survive when they got separated. Maggie was impressed by her sisters perseverance and understanding of Daryl’s needs as well as her own. But that was as far as Beth’s tale went. Maggie suspected there might be more her sister had left unsaid out of respect for Daryl. Nothing Beth told her explained the ‘closeness’ which is how Maggie had begun to think of her sister’s changed relationship with Daryl. Was it a romance that neither of them recognized, or were they just that good at hiding their growing relationship from the rest of the group? The more she thought about it, the more Maggie wondered how physically close the two had become.

“I wouldn’t go there,” Glenn had cautioned her after she expressed her concerns to him. She and Glenn sat entwined in each other’s arms, as much body contact as they could indulge and still be present in respectable company. “If they are headed in that direction, could you think of a better man for Beth? I guess the big question would be, would your dad approve?” Glenn asked thoughtfully. Then a wry grin lit his features and he added, “Just on a side note -I’m not giving up the pocket watch. I joined the Greene clan first.”

Maggie tried to put her curiosity out of her mind. Telling herself she would find out in good time. Either Beth and Daryl were sexually involved or they weren’t. She told herself she should just be happy that Beth was back unharmed and in good spirits. Maggie probably would have left it at that except for the no-fire camp fire.

They had all gathered one evening around the fire pit that had no fire because it was so muggy and hot that no one wanted to be near any heat source. The heavy warm air did not stop people from pairing off. Beth and Daryl were not the only ones who had forged new bonds after the fall of the prison. Maggie noticed Rick and Michonne in each other’s company more often than not. She and Glenn. Bob and Sasha. And more surprisingly Carol and Tyrese, though she suspected that was more mutual misery than affection. It was as though everyone was pairing off to face the long battle.

Beth had emerged from her tent bare footed, her tattered jeans rolled up to her knees. She had done a Daryl earlier in the week and torn the sleeves off the blouse she had been wearing. Her hair was tied up on top of her head in a sloppy bun, held in place by her perpetual braid. She had stretched then joined Daryl where he sat with his back against the stone wall surrounding the yard in which they were camped. Maggie had struggled to stay awake despite the heat but she did not miss the little smile on Daryl’s face. He pointed to Beth’s ankle, the one nearest him, touching her with one finger, saying something to Beth as he did. Maggie could not be certain in the dark, but it looked like Beth was blushing. Maggie realized in that instant that there was one way to discretely inquire about the depth of their intimacy

As with most close groups, they often sat in companionable silence. Gathered in the quiet of the early evening, feeling more secure than usual, the conversation this evening had been lively, varied and rambling about so many topics. Memories of the time before the walkers, favorite foods, lost companions. The mood was light, the remembrances pleasant as though they were all sighing in relief before the next major crisis. Maggie had carefully steered the conversation to her dad. They had all been devastated by his loss, and they had all mourned, but this evening Maggie wanted to share happy memories, funny stories. Beth sat up and leaned forward as they talked, and laughed, and Maggie chose the direction of the exchange.

“Daddy was pretty tolerant of everything all us kids did, but he was really patient with Beth.”

“Oh,” Beth commented, “I can think of a time or two when he got pretty mad at me too.”

“Not very often,” Maggie replied.

“There was the time I decided to go ridin’ and figured I was old enough to ride one of the quarterhorses instead of my pony.”

“Oh, yeah,” Maggie continued for her, “Beth was eight and so little she couldn’t saddle the bigger horses. Rambler was the size of a Halflinger. So she figured she would ride it bareback.”

“I needed a step stool to get on to him,” Beth added with a little giggle. “I was half on when I knocked the stool over. The horse spooked and took off out of the barn with me hanging on to its mane. I was half way to town before I got it to slow down.”

“But she hung on,” Maggie added. “Daddy met them on the road coming back to the farm. He was furious, but she was sitting on top that horse, just as proud as could be, steering it back home like nothing had happened.”

“I wasn’t allowed in the stables for a week. Not even to muck out stalls.” Beth was smiling broadly. And Maggie noticed Daryl had rested his hand on the small of her back.

“The only time he was madder was when he found out about her tattoo,” Maggie continued.

Daryl looked at Beth and this time Maggie was pretty sure she did blush.

“He woulda never known if you hadn’t told him.” Beth said looking at her sister as if daring her to continue.

“I probably should of never told him,” Maggie said.

Beth shrugged and laughed. “I guess I’ve forgiven you for that. But he sure was mad.”

Daryl had been listening intently to this exchange. He was, after all, the illustrated man of the group. Glancing at Beth then to Maggie, he said quietly, “You mean that pretty little rosebud she’s got tattooed on her ankle? Don’t see nothin’ wrong with that.”

Maggie smiled, her questioned answered. Daryl had not yet discovered Beth’s other tattoo. Beth gave her a warning look which Maggie ignored, the urge to tease her little sister like old times was too great to ignore.

“Oh,” Maggie said innocently, “Daddy wasn’t upset about that tattoo. He was upset about the matching one she had done on the left cheek of her butt.” Maggie dodged as the clod of dirt her sister threw came sailing past her head, followed by Beth’s giggle and Daryl’s hearty laughter.

“You’re gonna have to show me that one, girl,” Daryl said.