Second Chances

Second Chances
A Covington Cross Fanfiction
By Trish

Rated PG-13

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fanfiction, and is in no way meant to infringe upon the right of anyone connected with the television series Covington Cross (circa 1992). The author does not intend to make any money from the circulation of this work, or the use of the characters. The characters in this story were not created by the author. Any similarities to any other works of fanfiction is merely by coincidence.
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The sun rose through the window of Sir Thomas' s chambers in the castle of Covington Cross, spreading golden light over the two lovers who lay there. Elizabeth, still deep in slumber was unaware of the adoring gaze in which Thomas held her. He had become accustomed to waking with her beside him, and to watching those last few moments of her dream-filled slumber. He cherished her sighs, and hoped that the smiles that crossed her face from time to time were for him. Had it really only been a few months since their mutual attraction had grown into something much more? How could he manage two months without her beautiful smiling face greeting him in the morning, without her gentle hand on his arm, her comforting voice, and her understanding looks at him from across the room. Of course she wanted to visit her children in France, and she had every right to go. He couldn't imagine how he would feel if his beloved children were so far away. Even now he said a short prayer for William, fighting somewhere in the Holy Land. But how deeply he would miss her.

A dove cooed softly from the window sill and Elizabeth's eyes fluttered open greeting the ray of morning sunlight that fell onto her face with a small squint and a deep breath. Then she noticed the sight that had greeted her each time she awakened these past months, Thomas's smiling face. She smiled back, and caressed his face with her hand. His hand moved gently around her tiny waist as they shared a good morning kiss.

Don't go. were Thomas's first words of the day.

We've been over this, Thomas. Elizabeth smiled sweetly. She knew he understood that she must go, but she enjoyed his protests just the same.

It's only for two months. The time will fly by. She said sitting up against Thomas's shoulder. You'll probably enjoy having me out of your hair. She teased.

Thomas smiled back at her and held her closer. I know how much you miss them. I wouldn't dream of keeping you from them, but two months might as well be an eternity

I'm going to miss you, too. She smiled, kissing him once more.

Elizabeth's face turned hopeful. I'm going to ask Adam and Lenore to come back to England with me. . .to stay. We've been too long apart, and I would so like them near.

What a wonderful idea! Thomas grinned.

Why, because you think that will distract me from bidding against you on anymore lumber deals? She laughed.

Thomas laughed back, remembering the mess they had made of that one. He said. Because I just saw the way your face brightened when you talked about it.

Thomas reached over to his bedside stand and retrieved a small plain-looking wooden box. He fidgeted nervously with the metal latch as he spoke.

I can't imagine this place without you, he whispered as he opened the box to reveal a large golden amulet encrusted with pearls and garnets on a matching chain. In the center two gothic C's flanked an ornate cross. Don't forget us, he said.

She smiled. I, too, will be counting the days.

As the sounds of the household stirring to life trickled in under the door they shared one more morning kiss.

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Armus was already polishing off his second plate of eggs when Richard and Eleanor bounded down the stairs.

Armus's booming voice teased. It's about time someone in this place woke up. Everyone is sleeping in.

You might try it sometime. It diminished the appetite. Eleanor grinned as she reached for the small bunch of grapes that would be the majority of her breakfast.

I did sleep in, til nearly 6 o'clock Armus reported. And I'm starved. He smiled as the servant girl brought in another plate of bacon.

Well, I suppose Father and Lady Elizabeth won't be down for awhile. Richard smiled.

They won't see each other for quite awhile, they deserve some time alone. Armus said.

By the way, Eleanor broke in, barely swallowing the grape she was chewing. Does anyone know what time Lady Elizabeth will be leaving? Her eyes portrayed too much feigned innocence for believability, and Armus and Richard rolled their eyes at each other.

You know, you could try giving Lady Elizabeth a chance. Look how happy Father is. Richard reproached her.

I don't dislike her. Eleanor said acting hurt. I guess she and I just aren't the best of friends.

Well you could be. If you'd let her be your friend, Armus said disapprovingly. She is a wonderful person, and she has done wonders for Father.

Maybe. . . Eleanor said disinterested.

At that moment Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth descended the stair hand in hand. They walked slowly to the table, as if trying to prolong each step. If they had heard the conversation which had just ended abruptly, they made no mention of it. Each seemed lost in the other's thoughts. The sparkling amulet glittered around Elizabeth's neck. The Gray children seated at the table noticed the new treasure.

Thomas helped Elizabeth to her seat and then sat down beside her, never letting go of her hand.

Good morning. They both smiled at the children.

Good morning. Armus, Eleanor, and Richard replied looking for a sign from Sir Thomas that they had been overheard, but there was none. He was too preoccupied with how much he going to hate to say goodbye to the lady sitting next to him.

Thomas eyed his now cold breakfast with distaste. He was not hungry. Lady Elizabeth will be leaving for the port this afternoon, he announced. Armus, you and Richard will see her safely there.

He turned to Elizabeth. I'm sorry I can't see you to the ship. I have business matters that I can't get out of. I tried, but. . . Thomas trailed off looking almost sick.

I understand. Elizabeth smiled warmly at him.

Armus, Richard, look after her until she is safely on the ship. Thomas ordered.

Yes, Father. The boys answered in unison, and smiled at Lady Elizabeth, who thanked them with a grin.

Eleanor, you will accompany me today. Thomas announced. The person I am meeting with has a young daughter about your age, and I need you to entertain her. Thomas said.

Of course, Father. Eleanor forces a half-hearted smile but looked as though she wanted to bring up her breakfast. Richard and Armus could barely contain their laughter.

What about Cedric? Eleanor questioned. Doesn't he have a job for today? She couldn't stand the thought that she would have to make nice with some stranger while Cedric was free to do as he pleased.

Cedric will be accompanying us. I need someone to take notes of the proceedings. Thomas announced to the uncontrollable laughter of Armus, Richard, and Eleanor. They couldn't think of anything Cedric would enjoy less than being their father's secretary.

Just then Cedric came down the stairs still half asleep, yawning and scratching his head. His shirt was haphazardly misbuttoned. As he reached the long table the laughter started again.

he asked completely unaware of the day that lay ahead of him.

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Richard helped Lady Elizabeth light from the carriage. I'll find someone to take care of the bags, he said and then bounded away.

Her legs were stiff after the two hour journey, and she tried to stretch life back into them without anyone noticing. Armus, always protective of his family, one of whom he now considered Elizabeth, noticed the small difficulty she was having.

Are you alright, ma Lady? He smiled, extending his arm to steady her.

Fine, thank you, Armus. Elizabeth replied as she gratefully took his arm.I'm just not as young as I used to be.

I know one person who wouldn't agree, and he would never forgive me if you arrived back to him in anything less than perfect condition. Armus laughed.

Watch out for him while I'm gone. She begged. He's taken my leaving harder than I had thought he would.

He loves you. Armus reminded her, but noticed the brief look of disappointed wonder that crossed her face. If he could have read her mind he would have heard her reply: but he has never said so. A smile quickly replaced the puzzling look Armus noted as Richard came back with three young boys eager for work.

Take the bags to that ship over there. Richard commanded,pointed to a large sailing vessel tied to the dock, on the side of which was painted H.M.S. Northumberland. See that they are loaded for the trip. There's a five pence in it for each of you.

Under Richard's watchful eye the young workers wasted no time in transferring the bags laden with gifts for Lady Elizabeth's children. Her personal trunks were surprisingly small since she always traveled light. The boys soon returned for their due. As promised Richard handed each one a shiny coin, and with collective Thaynk ye, me laud, they were gone.

At once the ship steward was yelling from the dock for all to come aboard. Elizabeth gave Richard and Armus a motherly hug, as they helped he up the gang plank.

All ashore, that's going ashore! the steward yelled when they reached the top. After quick , and safe trips the two young Gray men headed back to the dock, and Lady Elizabeth went searching for her cabin to finally stretch her aching legs. As the ship cleared it's moorings Armus slapped Richard on the back. Come on Brother, I'll show you the wonders of a port town! Laughing, they headed for the nearest tavern. No one had notice the dark clouds beginning to form on the horizon.

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That night Sir Thomas tossed fitfully in his too empty bed. He was dreaming, but of what? He couldn't make it out. He felt as though he were in the middle of a rain storm, the water in his eyes made it impossible to discern anything. No not raindrops, he was drowning!

Suddenly a frantic scream broke his struggle. What was it? That was Elizabeth, but he was still asleep. What was happening?

He jolted awake. Sitting up in bed, drenched in sweat, and unable to catch his breath he was lost in fright for a moment. Was Elizabeth alright. What had just happened? It had only been a dream, right? Just a dream?
He tried to calm himself. He was just worried about her, and that caused his nightmare, right?

Sleep would come again that night.

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The next day started as any other at Covington Cross. Everyone went about their own interests, and tried not to mention that they all were realizing just how much they missed Elizabeth. Armus, and Richard having arrived home late from their escapades were relaxing over a game of chess in the solar. Cedric and Eleanor were honing their fencing skills below in the courtyard, on each other. All the while Sir Thomas tried to busy himself with what was left of the his business dealings from the day before. He couldn't shake that horrible feeling that had begun with his sleepless night. The feeling that something was terribly wrong.

He would soon find out just how wrong.

Later that day the Gray's were sitting down to a peaceful evening after dinner. The fire in the Great Hall was warm and inviting as ever. The talk was of the days events. Richard and Armus both claimed to have won the chess game, while Cedric swore that Eleanor had tripped him and caused him to lose the fencing match. Sir Thomas sat listening to his children with as much attention as he could muster. He did not want them to think that a mere dream had bothered him so much.

Suddenly the family was disturbed by the sound of a horse galloping into the courtyard, and a wagon clanking behind. Everyone started at the knock on the door that followed so soon afterward. Sir Thomas's servant opened the door halfway and it was pushed the other half of the way. Lady Elizabeth's driver Samuel stood silently in the doorway as her housekeeper Mary ran past him toward Sir Thomas,a wrinkled piece of parchment in her hand. She reached the aging knight with tears streaming down her face.

This arrived just a short time ago by messenger. Mary cried, nearly shoving the paper in Sir Thomas's face. She did not give him time to read it. Oh, Sir! She sobbed. She's gone!

Sir Thomas's face went white, as he took Mary by the shoulders. What do you mean, she's gone? Mary was too overcome to answer, and Sir Thomas didn't want to see what might be written on that paper. Confusion wracked his brain. For one of the few times in his life he did not know what to do.

May I, Father? Richard volunteered, as he reached for the paper. Sir Thomas stared as him dumbfounded. Richard took the silence as agreement, unfolded the paper, and read aloud. . .

From the King's Port Guard, We regret to inform you that of the night preceding the H.M.S. Northumberland was sunk five miles from the English coast in bad weather. There were no survivors.

Oh my God. Armus proclaimed, feeling his stomach wrench.

Richard and Cedric both began to protest that there must be some mistake, and Eleanor began to cry.

Sir Thomas heard those around him as if it were part of a distant memory. His mind could not take in what had just happened, and he felt his legs start to give way. He landed in the chair he had occupied only a few moments before with a thud. He couldn't feel his arms, his leg, he could hardly see. The dream. Had it been real? Had she called for him, and he hadn't come? He saw Elizabeth's face smiling, ached to hold her, and tasted her kiss on his lips? It couldn't be real, this had to be a nightmare, too, but this time he wasn't waking up. He stared, but he only saw Elizabeth's face. He could only repeat, She's Gone!

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Today had arrived with the sun giving little hint of the tempest that had raged a few hours before, but for all the sun's presence the wind held a stinging bitter cold. The old man walked slowly along the beach. He knew the sea. He had lived beside it all his life. He knew the violent storms that came off the ocean like a beast. Last night's storm had been one of those kind. He also knew that one of the king's ships had been lost. This was Cullum the light keeper. He was dutied to the king's fleet, and kept the light that signaled the English coast for all passing ships. He felt this loss deeply. He had known most of the crew, and had come out today to see if any remembrances had washed ashore that could be returned to their families. He knew this would be small comfort, but some comfort just the same.

Cullum's walking stick creaked under his weight as he moved on down the beach. Each step was a chore, and each would mean another back home, but he felt he should press on. He had just turned a sharp corner on the beach line, and holding on to the boulders that dotted the landscape for support saw something lying on the beach. It was larger than he had expected. Not a boot, or hat. The object was the size of a blanket crumpled over onto itself. That's what it must be, Cullum thought to himself, but trudged the distance toward the item anyway. Yes it was a blanket, it was made of clothe. It had been a fine velvet clothe, he could see as he got closer. The old sea watcher kneeled down to retrieve the piece of fabric. The corner on which he pulled seemed stuck, and he rolled the folds of the fabric away. The old man let out a surprised shriek, as the shape of a woman was revealed under what turned out to be a dress. A woman who gave every appearance of having taken her last breathe some time before. Her clothes were stained and wrinkled from the sea, and her dark hair tangled around her face from the struggle she had faught. Cullum could tell ,however, by the finery in which she was attired that this poor creature was a lady. She was exceptionally beautiful, and he said a prayer over her. He was certain that someone somewhere would miss her a great deal. She must have been a passenger on the ship. Just as his final word passed his lips, the lady let out a small and shallow moan.

Cullum nearly jumped from shock. She was alive, but just barely. Cullum somehow found all the strength he had, and lifted the shivering motionless woman into his arms. He was relieved to realize that carrying this tiny frame back to his house would barely take an effort. It was then that he noticed the fine amulet around her neck. She must be a person of great importance, he though to himself.

Don't you worry lass, I'll get ye back to Cullum's shack, and me wife Emma will see to thee.
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Outside the locked door to Lady Elizabeth's chambers in Covington Cross Eleanor, Armus, Richard, and Cedric huddled together, speaking in muted whispers.

He's been in there for a week. Eleanor reported worried.

I've never seen him like this. Cedric agreed.

Armus and Richard looked at each other, both sharing a painful memory. I have, Armus announced. But only once.

When mother died. Richard agreed.

The foursome almost unconsciuosly bowed their head, understanding the momentousness of Richard's statement.

Has anyone sent word to her children? Eleanor asked sadly.

I think that's father's place. Richard said.

But when will he come out? Someone needs to write to them. They need to know. Eleanor protested.

I will. Armus agreed. I don't think father will mind.

Thank you, Brother. The other three Gray children called softly behind him as he started toward his father's office.

Come on Cedric, we can ride over to Lady Elizabeth's castle, and see if there is any help needed there with arrangements. Richard said, putting his hand of his brother's shoulder. Cedric turned, and the brothers walked off down the hall leaving Eleanor alone by the still unbudging door.

Finally, she called upon the courage to knock gently. Father, please come out? she begged quietly. We're all so worried about you. But there was no answer.
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Inside Sir Thomas lay sprawled across the bed, his clothes disheveled, his beard far longer than it had been the day his love left the castle for the last time. He had lock himself in here because he had wanted to be alone. Alone with the tears that he could not allow anyone else to see. Elizabeth would have understood. Here, surrounded by her things, he could be close to her. He could stay in here forever, and not have to let her go. He wanted no company, no food, no drink. All he wanted was the one thing he could not longer have.

Each time Thomas closed his eyes he could see her face. He could hear her laughter. He could smell the sweetness of her hair. He could feel her soothing arms holding him. Then there were also the bitter ghosts of his imagination that haunted his mind. The thought of his love lying cold and alone on the ocean floor. The picture of her struggling in the deep, bottomless water for one final breath. The scream of his name that echoed in his head. How could it have ended like this?

At last, Thomas opened his eyes and lifted himself up on one elbow. He looked around the room, filled with Elizabeth's possessions. Her clothes were still neatly folded in the wardrobe, the book she was reading still with the ribbon to mark her place. He reached over and picked up the book from the bedside stand. How could it still be there when she was gone? He felt almost as if he should read it aloud to her, to finish it for her. As he lifted the leather bound volume from its resting place, another book fell to the floor from beneath it. Thomas stretched to retrieve it from the stones. Upon inspecting the the cover he saw that it was Elizabeth's journal.

He knew he should put it back. These were her private thoughts, not even meant for him. He knew he had no right to read it. There were things he had kept private from her that she had never once asked him to reveal. The fight with his conscious was in vane. What did it matter now. He opened the book to first page and began reading. The entry was dated the same as tax day. That horrible day when the bandits held them all captive at the castle of the Duke of Arondale who had turned out to be in league with them. She spoke in the diary of how she had not been afraid ,even when the duke held the knife to her throat, because Thomas had been by her side, and she knew he would protect her. He thought agonizingly of how he couldn't protect her when she needed him most.

There were other accounts too, that made him smile. Stories of the children, and her growing fondness for them. Declarations of her love for him. She had been married three times, but Thomas Gray had been the great love of her life. It was the final entry, dated the morning of the day she left that mad Sir Thomas's heart wrench. She had penned. . .

Thomas has given me the most beautiful gift. An amulet emblazoned with the symbol of his home. I feel so much a part of everything here at Covington Cross. This is becoming my home, too. I know Thomas loves me. I feel it every time he looks at me. . .but why has he never said it?

It was true. He searched his memory. He never really told her. It was so hard for him to put voice to the way he felt. He tried to show her always , but he never told her. He took it for granted that she knew. It was this, the fact that Elizabeth had died with even the slightest doubt of his love for her that tore at his heart. In the dark silence of her empty room Thomas closed his eyes with regret, and wept.
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Cullums abode was humble, even by peasant standards. A thick layer of mud formed the outside walls, and from their color tone could see that hey had stood even before he had come to be. A thatch roof hung sturdy against the ocean air. On the interior, a fire pit was dug against one wall for cooking, and the single room was divided by some large blankets strung on a rope. However, it was warm and dry and would provide a welcome refuge for the unconscious visitor the old man brought to his wife the day after the storm.

Oh the poor thing! Emma exclaimed as she helped her husband carry the half-drowned and still freezing woman onto the pile of warm hay that formed the only bed.

Ey! It a wonder she's as much alive as she is. S'pose she was on the Northumberland. Cullum said, shaking the cold from his own bones.

What the storm didn't take, the fever might. Emma announced worridly, feeling the lady's face. Bring and extra blanket, and start some water to warming. She ordered as she went about preparing their charge for her tending.

I had that thought before ye even made mention of it. Cullum smiled at the old woman. Before I do, what do you make of this? He held up the piece of jewelry that still hug from the woman's neck.

Looks like an emblem of some kind. Emma examined. When ye are finished, take it into town, and see if anyone knows of it?

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Cullum's first stop was the tavern. He not only thought someone there may know what CC was, he also had the thought that a pint of ale wouldn't be a bad payment for the work he had done this morning. The king's light keeper stepped through the door and into the stale heavy air. He approached the bar, and hauled himself up on the bench with a loud groan.

These tired old joints can't take this cold anymore, Ben. He laughed to the bartender.

A pint then Cullum? Ben asked amused.

Ye read ma mind. Cullum agreed.

When Ben sat the overflowing cup in front of the old man Cullum motioned for his old friend to lean closer, and pulled the amulet out of his pocket. Keeping it half hidden from whatever prying eyes may see a chance to make a profit, he asked. Ya know anything about this? Pulled a lady from the ocean today. Half dead she was, and she was wearin' this. Emma's got her now. She'll be right soon enough.

Ben looked closer at the fine handwork in gold, the elegant stones and raised lettering. he said quizingly. Don't know, never seen anything like that before. he said.

Wait, there were two young gentlemen in here just yesterday. I wonder if they would have known. They left though. Now what did they say their name was? Brown, White? Oh, it was some color. GRAY! Yes, that's it. Gray. Ben remembered.

Did they say from whence they come? Cullum asked?

Humm, yeah some place not far from here? Cov.... Cov....Covington. Covington Manor? Covington Place. Something like that. Ben tried to help. Why not go ask the vicar, he might know a place like that.

Thank you. Cullum shook his friend's hand and was out the door to the church before the coins he had thrown down on the bar to cover the cost of his refreshment had stopped spinning. The golden treasure stuck safely in his pocket.
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Cullum returned home that afternoon in high spirits. I must journey out tomorrow to a place called Covington Cross. He announced. No more than two hours to the west.

Asked Emma hopefully. You've found where our lady is from?

Could Be? The vicar says a knight named Sir Thomas Gray lives there. Maybe he can help us find out who she is. Cullum beamed.

At that moment, almost as if hearing a familiar name, the lady in the bed softly moaned.

Well, from the shape she's in, you'd better make a fast journey of it. Emma reported, and bent down to tend to her patient.
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Cullum reached Covington Cross in the late afternoon. Today had brought a thin fog, and a damp mist. The castle looked almost to be asleep. There was no one beyond its' wall, or in the courtyard as the old man walked his horse slowly through the archway.

Who goes there? Yelled a stern, but not unfriendly voice. Richard poked his head out of the stables where he had been tending to his riding tack.

Just a poor simple light keeper, come to request to speak with Sir Thomas Gray. Cullum reported as he dismounted the tan colored horse the had borrowed for the journey. My name is Cullum. He said as he bowed to the young Gray.

Richard was gracious, though slightly annoyed at the intrusion, especially now. He cannot be bothered now. I am his son. You'll have to conduct your business with me. Richard strided across the courtyard, the old man following on his heels. Richard opened the door to the great hall, and allowed the old man to go inside out of the weather. Armus, Cedric, and Eleanor arose alarmed from their seats near the fire.

Please ma laud, I must speak with Sir Thomas. It could be urgent.
Cullum tried again.

Could be? Richard was growing more annoyed at the visitor's persistence. I'm not going to bother my father for a could be.

But I have news. . . Cullum pleaded.

News about what? Came a loud voice from the top of the stairs. It was Sir Thomas. Something had told him, he needed to go downstairs.

Eleanor exclaimed.

News about the lady who wore this. . . Cullum held up the gold amulet for Sir Thomas to see.

The young Grays gasped as the light hit the object in the old man's hand. It was Lady Elizabeth's necklace. The one their father had given her the day she left.

Where did you get that? Thomas howled when he saw what the stranger was holding. He took the steps two at a time to reach the bottom, and bounded across the room.

Where did you get that? Sir Thomas demanded snatching the piece of gold from Cullum's hand. The lady who wore that is . . . . His voice broke and he had to regain himself.

Oh no sir, the lady is alive. Or at least she was when I left to find you. Cullum smiled. A raven haired beauty with skin like cream. I found her nearly drowned, washed up on the beach after the storm. I took her to me shack. Mind you, she's been ill with fever from the cold, and hasn't awakened. As far as I know of anyway. My wife Emma has been tending to her.

Thomas's eyes widen with hope. He felt as though his heart would leap out of his chest. We was at once frightened and frantic. Where is she? He pleaded taking the Cullum by the shoulders. Thomas smile was so wide that Cullum thought the knight might actually hug him.

Armus! Have the horses saddled, and the carriage hitched. We ride for the shore in a half an hour. Mr. Cullum will be my guest. Thomas beamed.
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The sky was darkening as night began to fall when the traveling party reached Cullum's seaside shanty. For all the joy of Cullum's announcement they had been strangely quiet along the road. Each afraid to hope too much. Sir Thomas especially had calmed from his early enthusiasm as the the realization began to dawn. What if Cullum was wrong? What if it wasn't Elizabeth?

Cedric helped Cullum out of the carriage. The old traveler was exhausted from the round trip he had made that day. Eleanor, Richard, and Armus stood behind their father who waited anxiously to be invited it to the decaying little house. As they reached the door, Cullum followed by Sir Thomas and then the children, Eleanor could see her father tense and knew that he was worried that it might not be Lady Elizabeth after all. She said a small prayer that it would be her they would find waiting for them inside. She was surprised by how much she was relieved that Lady Elizabeth might actually still be alive. Eleanor had missed her too.

The room was lit by a few small candles which made it hard discern shapes and figures. What they could see was that this brave and proud light keeper was also very poor. The furniture had been much mended, and there was little food on the table that had been set for dinner. If Lady Elizabeth was here, she would be unaccustomed to such surroundings.

Emma stepped out from behind the blanket that divided the room after Cullum called to her announcing their guests. She gave a low curtsy and welcomed the Grays to her home.

Sir Thomas. Me lauds, me lady. Welcome. Someone's been waiting for ya. Emma smiled. She woke up not an hour ago. She whispered to Cullum as she motioned the family through to the other side of the room.

Sir Thomas was the first to enter the make-shift bedroom. It was also dimly lit, with only a small pile of straw serving as a bed. As his children waited at the edge of the space he walked toward the bed with hope, apprehension, fear, and excitement all gnawing at him. Praying with each step that the thin, gaunt figure that lay with her face turned from him would be Elizabeth.

He reached the side of the bed, and dropped to his knees. The dark haired woman in the bed turned from the wall to face him. A smile settled on her face, pale and tired from her ordeal, and Elizabeth sighed. . .

Sir Thomas could no longer contain the emotions he had kept within him over the past several hours. Tears came to his eyes as he reached for the woman he loved. Armus, Eleanor, Richard, and Cedric sensing that they should leave the two lovers alone for now quietly slipped back to the other side of the room to make polite conversation with Cullum and Emma. Their happy faces brightening the dingy quarters.

Thomas held Elizabeth's face gently in his hand. I thought you were dead. He whispered amazed that he was truly holding her again.

I tried to swim. The water was so cold. I tried to . . . Elizabeth began to sob , but she could not put order to her thoughts and soon tired.
Finally she said I called for you.

I know. I heard you. Thomas smiled nodding his head.

And you came. She looked at him with thankful wonder.

I will always come for you. Thomas held her closer and looked into her large blue eyes. I love you. He said at last.

Oh, Thomas. Elizabeth whispered, realizing what he was telling her. I love you, too.

Thomas pulled Elizabeth's still weak body close to his strong frame, and again kissed the lips of the woman he loved. The woman, who by some miracle had been brought back to him. This time he would take nothing for granted.