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YuleTide story- Adorations- Chapter 2

Started by Laurna, December 30, 2020, 08:41:12 PM

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Laurna

Washburn's scrawl flowed across the parchment. It was after dinner and he had but a few stolen minutes in his room while retrieving the bottle of Vezaire Port to write what his heart wanted to express without appearing like a love sick fool. His first attempt was already ash in the fireplace and he was running out of time.

     Unto my Courageous Snowy Kitten Lady Fiona,

     My heart did but skip several beats today, when I saw you enter the Solar. It has been far too long since I saw your lovely smile; what with me running back and forth on my brother's business to Lendour and studying diligently at the schola. I assure you, I am putting all my efforts into improving my knowledge, so that I may be a better man. A man that I hope one day you will be proud of and perhaps allow to court you, an honorable man that I hope will impress upon your guardians that I am worthy of your attention. 

     I do not think that you saw me, but I did catch your beautiful profile and the fall of your lovely hair a fortnight ago.  I had arrived in Rhemuth on my way to Meara to ask Father Columcil to join me and to acquire the services of Squire Robert to help drive the wagon. I stopped at the Schola. I lied saying I was there to get my next readings, but in truth I was hoping to find you. And I did, but alas you were with the ladies of your class and you seemed to be enjoying a poem that one of the girls was reading. I tried to venture close to get your attention... I fear I got the attention of Magistra Helena instead. She pulled me aside and gave me a new book on Healing to read. So my purpose for being there was made no longer a lie. She told me I had gotten behind in my lessons, though she understood, because I was running about on the king's business. Since then, I have dreamed of your soft wistful gaze as the poem was read to you, and I do wonder what you were dreaming of at that moment.

     I must say that your laughter at dinner was enchanting. And your voice as you told the story held me spellbound. Did I interpret your gaze across the table correctly? That you would like to find a moment where we might talk without everyone's ear upon our words? Your cousins, good men both of them, with only your best interests in their hearts, seem to want to keep us on either ends of the Solar. I have been chided to keep my intentions honorable. And I swear to you that it is my honor that leads me to write this letter, rather than whisper this into your ear.  I hope to gain your affection. Perhaps on Christmas Eve, we might find a moment to meet in the alcove window, so that I may give you a gift. Give me some sign that this may be. Until then, even under so many watchful eyes, know that I am thinking of you.

     Through your eyes, I am better able to see what is important in life.  I am learning what my life was missing before we met.
     You have my adoration,
     Washburn




Wash folded the letter with a seal of wax, exited his room almost forgetting the bottle of port and returning for it. In his haste he nearly running into one of the maid servants with a tray of sweet meats. She was going down the hall toward Fiona's room. "May I ask if you are going to Lady Fiona's room?"

"Yes, Sir Washbrun. This is for Lady Stuart and her niece."

"Can I implore you to give this into the hand of Lady Fiona? I had hoped to hand it to her before she left the table at dinner but it seems I am too late."

"I will deliver it," the young maid said with a curtsey and took the parchment from Washburn's shaking hand.

Wash had to trust in the maid and in fate. If the letter ended up in Lady Stuart's hand, he was undone. But that was a chance he had to take. He could not exactly be seen rushing into Fiona's room and handing her the letter personally. Lord Iain would certainly not approve of that.  And until he could gain any approval from the Cameron brothers, he had no other way to let Fiona know of his thoughts of her. In the past months, Iain and he had only had a moment or two to broach the subject and both times Iain had shut him down saying it was too soon. Fiona had her studies and so did Wash. What Wash could not learn was if Iain considered him a good match for his ward, what with the knight's difficulties this last summer and his limited income. No more winning purses from the tourney's and his extra funds being donated to the schola for his learning. Not that he was left wanting in any way. But a knight's income was not the same as a landed lord. Now a healer's income would be generous. But until he was raised up to journeyman standing, which normally required at least two years of study, earnings- if there were any- from healings he performed went to the schola, which was as it should be. At least his abilities were getting easier to control, he was learning quickly.

As to his honor and loyalties to the king, that too he was working upon diligently to repair. The king was pleased with him, but the king also showed restraint. With all the other events that tore through Meara this past summer, it is amazing that the king had any time for Morgan at all. At least not the lesser of the Morgans. Restoring and bringing peace to a battle embittered province was the king's first priority. Washburn knew he had to prove his loyalties by hard work and example before the king would finally accept him and trust him fully; especially with this ability that he carried. That, more than anything, kept him under the watchful eyes of the high Deryni in Kelson's court.

With the women retired and Washburn arriving with the prized bottle of Vezaire Port, the men settled down around the hearth. Father Columcil took great joy out of opening the bottle, giving the fragrance of it a long whiff and then teasingly pouring out a single glass to test it.

"Unless it is vinegar, pass that around," the younger Cameron pleaded. 

"Oh, it is not vinegar," Columcil claimed with a broad smile. He poured three more glasses and let the others pass the glasses around. "To Darcy's and Aliset's good sleep in their new bed," Father Columcil offered in a toast.

"Amen to that," Iain and Washburn said together. Iain sat back and savored his glass. Darcy was thoughtful of the flavor, Columcil did relish that it was he who had the first taste and kept the remaining half-full bottle near at hand.

After a little small talk Washburn asked, "Lord Iain, do give my regards to Lady Maev and Sir Roland. Did you ever finish the stone wall?

"Nay," Iain said with a shake of his head. "I have been far too busy with other tasks since we last met. Let us wish for a slow long thaw in springtime so that the creek does not overflow its boundaries."

"I suppose there is no way to work on it now that the snow has set in, but next summer we should find time to assist you with the wall. That is if you don't mind company up in your private hills?"

"Good company, from my friends, my brother, and family will be welcome. But I do like the solitude of the place and I need to keep its location quiet."

Darcy said with a side smile, "Oh, we will keep the location "quiet",  but if it is summertime, then I will have in tow a pair of bairns whom I suspect will be about four months of age, and will have lusty screams. You won't be minding that now, will you?"

"They and Lady Aliset will be welcome, of course, for Lady Maev will adore the babes," Iain said, but he said little more. The men all sipped their glasses of port.

Washburn gained his courage, and sat up at the edge of his chair. "Lord Iain, Lord Darcy, may I broach a subject of some delicacy?"

"Here we go, I was wondering when you were going to speak up," Darcy said with another side glance at his brother this time without the smile. He pushed back a lock of blond hair when he could not read his elder brother's expression.

"Are you trying to tell me that you are in favor of it?" Iain asked his brother with a downward tilt of his head.

"Well..." Darcy did not know the best way to answer that.

"You know I want Lady Fiona to finish what she has started before she makes that kind of decision in her life." Iain seemed to be ignoring Washburn's hopeful expression.

"She will be turning eighteen soon."

"Well she is not of that age yet," Iain said conclusively. He sat back considering that to be the final word.

"My lords, if I may..." Wash ventured not ready to give in. "I know you are both protective and I agree with you on merit, but don't you think Lady Fiona and I know our own feelings? I would like to ask permission for, at the very least, to be writing to Lady Fiona and to see her, with a chaperone of course, to learn if our feelings are true and that we can grow upon them. I am not asking for a betrothal..."

"A betrothal...?" Iain shot back sharply.

"No, No, I said I am Not asking for that." Wash took in a deep breath. How he could master everything but this was beyond him. "May I request that I be allowed to begin courting Lady Fiona?" There, he asked it.

And the room was silent.

Iain broke the silence with a quiet question. "Have you been able to teach another to do that which you are able to do?"

Washburn knew what he was asking and dropped his head with a defeated answer of "No."

"Ah can assure you that he has tried." Father Columcil came to Washburn's rescue. "I have been witness to his showing of my grandfather and father and the magisters of the Schola, even for those who have progressed in their training."

"Yet, no one else can do this?"

Wash shook his head feeling his defeat was inevitable. "I will not test the young minds who have still much growing to do. This responsibility is too great for the younger healers."

"And too dangerous," Iain commented in agreement. "As you are the only Healer than can do this, and the enemies of Gwynedd know of it.... Hear me out. I respect you and I know that it was your deed that ended Valerian's powers and brought the rebellion ultimately to its knees, but I must answer your request with a No. I will not put a seventeen year old girl in that kind of danger, just as you would not put a young healer in that same position."

Washburn's heart sank in his chest and he sat back in his chair knowing Lord Iain to be right.
May your horses have wings and fly!

Jerusha

Poor Washburn.  Nothing seems to turn out quite right for him, even if he was the victim in most of what has occurred.  But no great prize is won easily, and I don't see him giving up.  Perhaps this is the most challenging tournament he has ever fought; he has won all others, and he can win this one too.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

DerynifanK

Yuletide story, chapter 2
Fiona and Aliset talk

Following the evening meal, the ladies left the table and adjourned to the solar to settle into a window alcove with cushioned seats where they could catch up with what had been happening since they had parted in Rhemuth many months before. As they settled onto the cushions, Fiona turned to Aliset. "Are you comfortable? Let me get a stool for your feet." She quickly found a small stool and placed it under her friend's feet.

Lady Stuart addressed Aliset with a smile. "The two of you will have much catching up to do. I am very tired after the ride here so I think I will retire to bed. I will leave you to it." Aliset smiled back and quickly summoned a maid to conduct Lady Stuart to her room and be sure that she had everything she needed.

The two friends then settled back to have a good talk.

"So what is the latest gossip from Rhemuth Castle? How are things progressing since the defeat of the Mearan rebels and the return of Prince Javan and his army?" Aliset studied Fiona expectantly.

"My knowledge is limited since I spend my time at the schola and see little of the ladies of the court. Things are certainly happier there. The king is planning a bigger than usual Twelfth Night celebration to mark the end of the rebellion. Also he and Queen Araxie are welcoming the birth of a new grandchild. Prince Javan and Duchess Grania are happily welcoming a little prince, Anthony Donal Brion.Things are definitely less tense since the end of the rebellion."

" I am sure you are aware of the improving situation since you are here in Meara and are able to see the response of the people to the help that the king has provided. I am told that the Mearans have shown themselves willing and anxious to reaffirm their loyalty to King Kelson. That, along with the loyalty of the people to your family, must make your task of restoring your estate easier." Fiona smiled at her friend.

"Indeed it does." Aliset said. "And of course we benefit from the return of Duke Rory to his duties as viceroy. The people celebrated his return; they were so relieved to be free of the oppression of the rebels. But I want to know more about those I met there. Has the King made any decision about what is to become of Sidana?

Fiona replied. "If the king has come to any decision, I have not heard of it. "

Aliset continued. "Have you met Duchess Richenda? I had heard that she continues to reside in Rhemuth although the Duke and his family have returned to Coroth. You came so near meeting her when we were in Arx Fidei. I know Wash intended to introduce you. Has he had an opportunity to do so?"

Fiona looked pensive. "No. Although he has spent time with her when he has been in Rhemuth, he has been frequently absent on missions both for the king and for his brother, the duke. Everyone knows how worried she was about him when he was a prisoner. I heard that she even made a portal jump to the Michaeline ruins to try to rescue him and was just too late. I hear that she is one of the most highly trained of the Deryni at court. She does occasionally take a class at the schola but she only works with the most advanced students. I don't think she knows who I am. Nor does she connect me with her son.  I wish I could meet her and perhaps have a chance to tell her about all the good things that Wash accomplished during our travels."

Fiona continued, frustration in her voice. "It seems that I have no opportunity to talk to him. When I do see him at the schola, it is only in passing. We smile at each other and he seems happy to see me, but then we both have to rush off to class or other duties. I thought when we were both at the schola there would be opportunities for us to spend some time together and get to know each other better. But that hasn't happened. It's like everyone is conspiring to keep us apart. We have exchanged a few letters, but all he does is ask how my studies are going and tell me where he is off to next. And of course, he is kept quite busy with his healer studies when he is there."

Aliset responded sympathetically. "I thought that you had feelings for him because you wanted so much to help him. But there was so much happening, there was no opportunity to explore them. Have you said anything to Iain about this? Or have you spoken to Lady Stuart?"

Fiona shook her head. "I did try once or twice but all they will say is that I'm too young to form an attachment yet, and I need to  focus on my studies. I don't know why they think I don't know my own mind. I do want to learn as much as possible at the schola, but I don't see why that means I can't at least get to know Wash better. It really makes me angry sometimes!"

"I understand how you feel, but I am sure that they have only your best interests at heart." Aliset patted Fiona's arm gently.

"Can't you help me? I have been thinking and thinking of what I could do to arrange for us to have a little time together without Iain or my aunt hanging over us. But I have had no success so far. It is so frustrating!" Fiona had tears in her eyes.

"Let me think about it. I may have a few ideas but I need to think this through. I cannot defy your guardian, and I prefer not to defy your other cousin, my husband.  They only want what they think is best for you. But I see your point of view too. Perhaps we can think of a way to better present your feelings about this. I think Darcy may be more amenable to adjusting his attitude toward Washburn as a potential suitor. He has not been as adamant as Iain is. After all, he was with us during our travels after we left the ruins, and he saw much more of Washburn, what he accomplished and his mental state. I will talk to him. I am sure I can get him to see your side. That will help us when we go to Iain with your concerns about this. Just now I am feeling very tired. I find that with my pregnancy I tire much quicker. Let me sleep on it."

"I am so sorry!" Fiona sounded remorseful. "I have been so focused on my own problems that I have not thought of your needs at all. I should not have burdened you with my concerns!"

Aliset smiled at the young lady. "No, I am glad you told me. And we will think of something, I am sure. Don't be discouraged."

Aliset stood. "I am going to say goodnight to the men and retire for the night. I will consider your problem and we will talk more in the morning when I am fresher."

The ladies bid their menfolk goodnight. Aliset did notice that Washburn was slumped in his seat looking somewhat depressed. She wondered what had gone on while the men were talking and enjoying their port. Wash did not look like he had been enjoying the port as it deserved.

Aliset climbed the stairs to her bedchamber. She was greatly looking forward to snuggling with her husband in their handsome new bed. She hoped Darcy followed her soon as she was not sure how long she could stay awake, and she did want to at least inform him of some of Fiona's feelings about Wash.

Fiona followed Aliset up the stairs, and after wishing her goodnight, walked softly down the hall toward the room she shared with her aunt. She tried to be very quiet as she did not wish to awaken Lady Stuart. She quickly removed her clothes and donned her nightrail. She turned toward the bed and noticed an envelope lying on her pillow. When she picked it up, she noticed the seal. It was from Washburn! She had to know what it said. She listened carefully. All she heard was her aunt's soft, regular breathing. Checking with her Deryni senses, she made sure her aunt was sound asleep. She moved over to a window alcove and sat on the cushioned seat. She opened the letter, kindling soft handfire to illuminate the words. As she read what the knight had written, her heart leapt. He did care for her! She put the letter under her pillow and sighed. It was quite some time before she slept.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Laurna

I believe the women folk have set themselves to a task and knowing just how stubborn both of them are, I wait to see what trouble they will aspire too.
Too bad Wash was not enjoying his drink. If he knew that Fiona had gotten his letter, I think he would be much happier.
Thank you DFK.
May your horses have wings and fly!

Jerusha

Nice touch that Fiona tucked the letter under her pillow.  I wonder what she will dream of when she finally falls asleep.  ;)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Nezz

The course of True Love was never one to run straight... poor li'l Wash...

But mostly: Oy! Kelson a grandpa? I'm having a hard time visualizing this! :)
Now is life, and life is always better.
-Wolfself

Jerusha

#6
Darcy Cameron paused before the door to the bed chamber, carefully feeling for the latch.  It was much later than he had intended, and the candle that guttered  in the sconce beside the door did not help his tired eyes to focus.  Darcy knew it was not tiredness that was the problem; it was that damned Vesaire port!

By nature, Darcy was not a heavy drinker.  He had learned long ago he could not handle the amount of drink a larger man could.  He was the ship's officer usually charged with rounding up  the crew in port to make sure that most of them returned to the ship in time to sail. Some came grumbling, others had to be found wherever they had passed out and be hauled back to the ship. Those unfortunates ended up cleaning the bilge while nursing throbbing heads and sick stomachs.  Darcy had only suffered that once.

Nevertheless, one drink of port had led to another.  The mood in the hall had soured a bit when Washburn's conversation, or attempted conversation, with Iain had ended so abruptly.  Darcy could not think of a single wild tale to lighten the mood, so they had drunk all of the port instead. He would likely regret not coming up with a tale. 

Ah, he had the latch!  He blew out the candle and then opened the door warily.  The room was dark and quiet.  Maybe he could slip into bed unnoticed.

He almost made it, but the new bed was larger than the old one and he careened against the massive end board.

"It's about time you came to bed!"  Aliset snapped.

"Sorry, love, but as a good host I had to stay until the end."

"Since when?" Aliset asked sharply.

"Since I made that up," Darcy replied, his speech ever so slightly slurred.  Then he belched, sending a strong odor of port towards the bed.

"I've been waiting for you, but now I wonder why!"

"Blame F'ther Columcil and Washburn.  The prize was their idea."  Darcy, his steps rolling slightly more than normal, moved along the side of the bed.  With some difficulty, he removed his boots and deposited the rest of his clothes in a pile on top of them.  Normally he was much neater, but the pile would do for now.  He climbed in beside his wife.  "G'night, love," he said.

"We need to talk," Aliset demanded, rolling over onto her side to face her husband.

"Tomorrow," Darcy said, but without much hope.  "We can talk tomorrow."

"We will talk now," Aliset said firmly.

"If we must." Darcy sighed and felt a headache begin behind his closed eyes.  "What about?"

"Fiona and Washburn.  Fiona cares for him, and she feels she is being blocked from getting to know him better.  She is very frustrated.  We need to think of a way that they can catch a few moments to speak in private while they are here."

"Aliset," Darcy opened his eyes and said carefully.  "Iain has forbidden Wash to court her."

"What?   Why?"  Aliset propped herself up on one elbow in alarm.

Darcy related the conversation between his brother and his friend that had occured in the hall that evening.

"That is not fair!  Darcy, you need to change Iain's stance," Aliset said.

"Aliset, I hardly know my brother; I don't know  how to change his mind.  Besides, it's an Isles matter, and he is the baron.  It's his call, whether I agree with it or not."

"You mean you won't even try?" Aliset demanded, her anger rising.

"I didn't say that, but I don't think I have much influence.  And although I don't like it, Iain's arguments have merit."

"So you'll just stand by and do nothing!"

"Enough, woman! "  Darcy rolled resolutely away from his wife.

"You have not heard the last of this, Darcy Solveig Cameron!"   Aliset turned onto her back with a huff.  Why were men so dense?  She stared at the canopy above her.

Slowly, small twinkling lights appeared on the canopy cloth.  Some were brighter than others, as if some were close and others were far away.

"Darcy!"  She said urgently.

"Not now, woman.  Give it a rest until morning,"

Aliset dug her elbow into Darcy's back.

"Owwww!"  Darcy rubbed his back and turned toward her.  "What is it now?"

"Look at the canopy," she urged. 

Grumbling, Darcy looked up at the canopy.  "Sweet Jesu!" he said.

"Don't they look like stars?" Aliset asked.  "It looks familiar."

The port-induced fog that had settled over Darcy's brain cleared immediately.  "They are the stars, or at least a map of them.  Aliset, this is the sky as it was above the little church in the valley.  Remember, I showed you how to find south."

"This must be the spell woven into the canopy," Aliset said softly.  "But how could they know how it looked?"

"Well," Darcy began as he slipped his arm around his wife and settled her head on his shoulder.  "It's not that hard.  You just need to know the location and the time of year, and ...."

"Not now, Darcy," Aliset said and smiled.  "Just look at how lovely it is."

"Almost as lovely as you," he replied.

They lay looking up at the twinkling points of light, and their earlier anger cooled.  Gradually, the lights faded, their work done.

"We should sleep now," Darcy said quietly and kissed his wife.  She snuggled against him.

"If you throw up in our new bed, you will sleep in the barn until Twelfth Night," Aliset said drowsily.

"You'd leave me there until the Three Wise Men find me?" 

"No, until Father Columcil, Sir Iain and Sir Washburn drag your sorry arse out!"  Aliset started to giggle at the very thought.

"I love you too, Aliset," Darcy said, hugged her tightly until the giggling stopped, and was grateful for their renewed peace.


((The spell in the canopy was all Laurna's creation, but she graciously suggested I write it.))
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

Jerusha, You wrote it so well. I truly love the interactions between Darcy and Aliset.  And nothing like a few stars to smooth the rough spots.
May your horses have wings and fly!

DerynifanK

Jerusha, this is delightful. I always love the interactions between Aliset and Darcy, you do them so well
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

DerynifanK


Yuletide Story, Chapter 2
Aliset's Idea

Aliset was looking much refreshed after a night's sleep in the new, comfortable bed Wash had given them. Talk around the breakfast table was focused on plans for the Christmas feast which was now only a few days away. Everyone was looking forward to celebrating together.

After they had finished, Aliset beckoned to Fiona to join her in the solar. She also invited Lady Stuart to join them after she returned to her room to complete her toilet for the day. Aliset was smiling. "I have an idea that I think might work. We are preparing for the Christmas celebration. One of the things we need is decorations for the great hall and the solar. I will ask you to go out to the woods to choose fresh greens to deck the halls. Darcy feels that it would be risky for me trying to walk on the rough ground under the trees. He does fuss, but I don't want to worry him. You certainly cannot go unaccompanied so I will ask Washburn to go with you to help choose and cut the fresh greens we need. I think you may be able to carve out a little time to talk of  things other than decorations."

Fiona was quite excited at first, but then she hesitated. "But won't we need a chaperone? Who would go with us and how can we manage to talk alone at all?"

"I will send Robert with the wagon to help gather the greenery that has been cut.   And Darcy can go along to guide you to the best places to find what we want. You and Wash can walk ahead to find and point out the branches you want. Darcy can help cut them and Robert will load them on the wagon. As you walk you can draw ahead, not out of sight but out of hearing.  They will be busy cutting and gathering so you will have a chance to talk somewhat privately. about something other than decorations.. I know it isn't ideal, but it is a start."  Aliset waited for Fiona's response.

Fiona bounced a little on her toes. "It could work, at least for a start. Can we do it soon?"

"As soon as I can speak to the others and be sure they agree. You can be on your way within the hour." Aliset left Fiona to find the men she wanted and organize the greenery expedition.

In less than an hour, Aliset was sending the expedition on its way with instructions on the type of greens she wanted for her decorations. She had recruited Lady Stuart to help her plan what they would hang and where. "We will need plenty of pine boughs and holly with its bright red berries for color. And don't forget the mistletoe for the window arches and the doorways." She winked at Fiona as the group set off with Robert driving the wagon and Darcy beside him. Washburn and Fiona were walking just ahead studying the trees and bushes ahead of them. Fiona was watching for her chance, she was not going to waste this opportunity.

As they moved among the trees, a small distance from the rough track where the wagon followed them, Fiona and Wash were scanning the trees and bushes to either side, seeking the best pine boughs and the holly with the biggest bunches of the brightest berries. The earlier snow had mostly melted except in deep shade but there were still icy spots, especially where wet leaves had frozen. It was slippery and Wash held his arm out to Fiona so she could steady herself. They carried some lengths of red string to mark their selections. They also pointed out some choice greens to Darcy as he followed on the wagon.

When they reached the edge of the woods, Darcy hopped down from the wagon and began cutting branches and holly boughs. He quickly stacked them beside the track where Robert could pick them up and place them in the wagon as he led the horse forward. The two of them were soon occupied with their task and lost track of how far Wash and Fiona were ahead of them. The two were still in sight, busily talking and pointing out what they considered the choicest greens.

Wash had begun to help by cutting some of the greenery chosen, not leaving the whole task for Darcy.  Fiona had been happily pointing out sprigs for Washburn to cut here and there. Suddenly she looked up into a tall leafless tree and gave a small squeaL. Wash turned to her, dropping the arm load of branches he carried and asked with concern. "My lady are you alright?"

Fiona pointed excitedly to a large bunch of shiny leaves visible high in the tree. "There, that is just what we need!"

Wash looked up to where she was pointing. He immediately shook his head. "Oh no, my lady! That is mistletoe, Druidic magic, and I am already not in your dear cousin's favor. Lord Iain would not approve, and I need to avoid anything that would lower his opinion of me. If I used that herb to seek a kiss from you, he would be quite angry. No, I am sorry my lady, I need to win his approval with honor and with restraint."

Fiona stamped her foot. "But Aliset asked for mistletoe to be gathered as part of the decorations."

"I know that, my lady, but I think it would be best if we leave that bunch where it is and just point it out to Darcy who can decide if that is the best selection. He can cut it and add it to the other greens in the wagon without provoking any displeasure."

By this time, Wash and Fiona had moved further into the woods and away from the track. They rounded a tall holly bush which hid them momentarily from Darcy and Robert. Fiona put her hand on Wash's arm. "Wait. We need to talk. I received your letter, and I was so happy when I read it. I thought it meant that you had begun to care for me as I have for you. Did I take the wrong meaning from your words?"

"No, my lady. You did not read me wrong, but perhaps it was not wise to send it to you just now. I had not yet talked with your cousin. He refused me permission to address you at this time. He feels that it is too soon and that we both need to focus on our studies. My income will be quite limited until I become a journeyman healer, and I have a lot of work to do until I achieve that status. He also is concerned  for your safety as he feels that the skill I learned in the Ruins that allowed us to escape Valerian could put anyone close to me at risk."

"But that's not fair! I am only asking to be able to spend some time with you, to have a chance to get to know you better.  How can we ever know our true feelings if we are never allowed to be together? " Fiona asked angrily.

"I know it is hard to wait. I also find it hard, but I think that we must be patient and work to convince your cousin that I am an honorable and trustworthy man. Then he might look more favorably on my suit. I am hoping that Darcy and Columcil might be willing to assist me. But if we rush things or ignore your cousin's  directions, we might lose any chance to reach a different outcome. I do promise that things will be different if you will grant me your patience," Wash pleaded.

Wash took her hand in his. She noticed the scratches on his hands from the holly prickles. She rubbed them gently and sighed then smiled at him. "I will try to be patient as you ask." Just then they heard Darcy calling them. Wash dropped her hand and they stepped out and waved at him. Fiona called to him. "We have found a bunch of mistletoe big enough for all Aliset's decorating needs." She pointed up into the tree.

Darcy looked up where she was indicating. "I don't know, that's very high, near the top of the tree, and it is so big it might be difficult to get it down. Let me think on it. Let's get on with the rest of our collecting."

They moved on, continuing to collect their greens including some smaller bunches of mistletoe. The wagon was nearly filled with pine branches, holly boughs heavy with red berries and several smaller bunches of mistletoe. "I think we have enough, we'd best be turning back. This must be enough to satisfy my wife's decorating needs. Hop on and we'll all ride back."  Wash assisted Fiona to climb on the wagon, then jumped up himself. Darcy sat beside Robert who turned the horse back toward the manor. They were looking forward to some refreshments after their work.

Darcy thought about the big bunch of mistletoe that Fiona had pointed out. He was aware that Wash had declined to go against Iain's orders and get the mistletoe with the idea of getting a kiss from Fiona. But when Wash shook his head and they just pointed it out to Darcy for consideration before moving on, Darcy was pleased. Aliset had exacted  a promise from him to try to help the young couple's cause, but he did not want to openly defy Iain. Even Darcy can be more subtle than that.

As they drove slowly back toward the manor, he stared at that big bunch of mistletoe. Suddenly Darcy turned to Robert. "Hold up for a moment. I see one last bit of greenery we need to get." He jumped down from the wagon, ran toward the tree and scampered up like a bear cub running from danger. He climbed out onto the limb like a true sailor, not afraid of heights, setting the sails. Darcy took out his knife and cut off that big, round bunch of mistletoe the size of a small bush. He then climbed back down and returned to the wagon, throwing the mistletoe in with the other greens.  He had a happy grin.

"What are you doing?" asked Fiona. "I thought you said that bunch was too large and too high to get easily. And we already had several small bunches of that plant."

"True, my lady. But I had an idea of what we might do with it. And I think my lady will be pleased."

They reached the manor house and stopped. Aliset and Lady Stuart came out to see what they had brought. Darcy jumped down and pulled out that  bunch of mistletoe, cut off a piece the size of his fist and approached his wife. He held it  over both of their heads and demanded, "Kiss me!"  She looked at him with wide eyes and then grinned mischievously and kissed him. She was pleased with the results of their expedition and quickly set the servants to unloading the decorations. The manor house would be beautifully decorated for the Christmas feast and redolent with the wonderful scent of pine.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Jerusha

Yes, definitely subtle Darcy:  "Kiss me!"    ;D

Nicely done, DFK.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Nezz

Now is life, and life is always better.
-Wolfself

Laurna

#12
The Hall is going to smell wonderful.
Wash is not going to soon forget the young lady rubbing his hand. That should keep his heart thumping and his smiles warm.  That was a very good idea.


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May your horses have wings and fly!