Second Chances Part: 2: "To Love Again"
Written by Trish
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fanfiction based on the characters and placed from the 1992 television series Covington Cross. No copyright infringement is intended
and no profit has been made.
The Gray's spent a fortnight as the guests of Cullum and Emma. Lady Elizabeth was still feeling the effects of her ordeal in the stormy sea, and the fever had hung on far longer than anyone had expected. Sir Thomas would not hear of her being hauled over bumpy roads in chilled air back to Covington Cross in her weakened state, even if it was only a few hours away, and even if they had brought the carriage. He was determined that she be well enough to travel. He was not going to take the chance of losing her again. Armus and Richard had volunteered to procure rooms for them all at the inn nearby, but Cullum and Emma would have none of it. They felt a connection to the beautiful lady they had saved from the ocean's deadly grip, and were determined that she, and her companions, would know well their hospitality. Emma made straw beds for herself and Eleanor near the fire in the outter room of the tiny shack, and Cullum shared their small barn with the boys. Sir Thomas never left Elizabeth's side. He could not shake the horrible terror he had felt upon receiving word that she had perished in the frigid waters of the channel. He had wanted to die too. Now that he had her back, he could not imagine letting her out of his sight. He had taken her for granted, expecting her always to be there when he had time for her. He knew that she would continue in that role as long as he needed her. Now, however, he realized that she deserved more. He had gotten a glimpse of what life would be like without her. It was not an exsistance he would even consider. When they returned to Covington Cross he decided, that is he hoped, that there would be a great change for the better in their relationship. One of a more permanent nature.
At last, one morning, Elizabeth awoke from a fitful dreamfilled sleep fully aware and starving. Thomas was still holding her tightly in his arms. He had stayed awake with her most of the night while she tossed and turned reliving her near drowning in her nightmares. She had awakened many time tears streaming down her face, which were quickly brushed away by the man who loved her. He had whispered to her then, and calmed her while she fell back to sleep. Now it was she who noticed how drawn and tired his face was as he slept leaning against the wall behind the pile of straw on which she rested. His presence over the previous weeks came flooding back into her mind. How lucky she was to have him in her life. She leaned back against him and rested for a moment.
It was Emma, coming over to check on her, who first realized that Elizabeth was recovered. "Everyone's been worried over ya, my lady." The old woman smiled.
"I know." Lady Elizabeth whispered not wanting to awaken Thomas. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause so much trouble."
"What?" Emma said realizing what a fine a noble woman was before her. Even after everything she had gone through Elizabeth was thinking only of others. "You were no trouble at all. I'm just glad Cullum and I were here to help." She took Elizabeth's hand and held for some moments. Both women knowing that a bond was forging between them.
Finally, Emma broke the silence. "Are you hungry my dear?" She asked.
"Yes, starving." Elizabeth smiled.
"Then you wait right here. I'll bring you some porridge." Emma ordered.
Elizabeth settle back once more, and thought about all that the last weeks had brought. Thomas had come to her rescue when she had needed him the most. He had even told her he loved her. She wondered with nervous anticipation what the next step in their relationship might be. They had much to discuss when they returned to Covington Cross. She felt Thomas stir beside her.
Sir Thomas openned his eyes to the shining smiling face of his love. The face he thought he would never see again was beaming up at him full of adoration. He felt his smile widen to match hers. "Good morning, my love." He smiled. "I see we're feeling much better."
She let the softness of his voice settle sweetly into her brain for a moment, and then heard the meaning in his words. 'My love,' he had called her and she truly felt that she was. "Yes, my love." She answered returning his emotions. "I feel very well today."
"Well enough to travel?" He asked as Emma quietly brought over two wooden bowls of steaming porridge. She did not stay, but mearly smiled at Sir Thomas who acknowleged her happily.
"Yes." Lady Elizabeth grinned. "I want to go home." Thomas wrapped his arms around her, understanding the full meaning of what she was saying.
Armus, Cedric, and Richard readied the coach aided by Cullum. Emma and Eleanor helped Lady Elizabeth prepare for the trip home. Sir Thomas stood looking out over the ocean in the light of the late morning, the same ocean that had nearly claimed Lady Elizabeth's life. "You didn't get her, you monster." He spoke aloud to the crashing waves. "Nothing and no one will ever take her from me again." He vowed.
Finally it was time to begin their journey. Thomas carried Elizabeth to the carriage which had been parked by the door, her legs were still a bit weak although she was certain she would have no trouble standing. She had thankful tears for the old couple that had watched over her.
"I don't know what to say to you both. How do you thank someone for...your life?" She said holding their hands in hers, tears coming to her eyes.
"There's nothing for ya to say." Cullum smiled kissing her fatherly on the forehead. "Yer happy face is thanks enough." She hugged him tightly. She then reached for Emma.
"Don't forget us." Emma smiled at her choking back tears.
"Never." Elizabeth vowed as Thomas took her hand and held it tightly.
Thomas shook Cullum's hand and thanked him and his wife sincerely. Eleanor, Richard, Armus, and Cedric watched the scene with happy faces from their mounts, Armus atop the coach. Lady Elizabeth had been returned to them, they had not realized just what a special place she held in all of their lives. The Gray children could not remember when they had seen their father so happy,and they had met two wonderful new friends. What had started as a tragedy had turned out to be a blessing.
"Take good care of her sir. She brought a lot of life to this place. We're going to miss her." Cullum said shaking the knights hand.
Thomas looked lovingly at Elizabeth. "I will protect her with my life, you have my word on that.
"We're going to miss all of you." Emma said to Sir Thomas and the children.
"Thank you," Sir Thomas's children smiled.
After a few moments everyone knew that it was time to leave. Thomas closed the the carriage door, but left the window open for a last glimpse. With the order given the traveling party moved out for home, waving and calling their goodbyes. Cullum and Emma stood watching them go. "Ya know, I have this strange feeling we'll be seein' them all again sometime soon." Emma announced.
"Perhaps, when we're needed again." Cullum smiled putting his arm around his wife. They watched the carriage and the horses round the corner out of sight.
The trip back to Covington Cross had been thankfully uneventful for the Grays thus far. The children had spent the time in laughing conversation, while their father and Lady Elizabeth enjoyed the closeness of each other in the carriage. The family was looking forward to the future and to new beginnings. The road stretched out in front of them dipping and turning through the thick dark lace of the leaves that danced overhead. The forest through which they drove enveloped them. It almost seemed protective. Armus however, knew different. He had seen many such deceptive glades in his travels to and from the holy lands, and he was ever vigilant. With the entire family along, and Lady Elizabeth not returned to full strenth the elder Gray son was not taking any chances. He peered through the trees on his guard. It was not long before his suspicions proved warranted.
From out of nowhere a band of five large men on horseback crashed down around them, their faced covered by masks. Before Richard could brandish his sword, before Eleanor could ready her crossbow, or Armus could climb down from the carriage. Even before Cedric could proclaim a profanity at having been caught off guard, the bandits surrounded the traveling party. Their eyes flashed with greed as they surveyed the bounty of the richly ornamented carriage and its owners. Even in their traveling clothes it was obvious to the masked assailants that they could make a heafty haul from the Grays. It was useless to resist. Armus pulled the coach to a stop and the others haulted their horses. Sir Thomas climbed hurridly down from the carriage, leaving Lady Elizabeth secretted inside. He hoped she would not be discovered. She did not need this.
"Well, how nice!" One of the of the robbers laughed in a well bred tone, climbing down from his horse. "Out for a little jaunt are we?" He asked sauntering around Sir Thomas a full half a head taller than the lord of Covington Cross. He stuck the tip of his broad sword under Thomas's chin and removed his cloak brooch with it's tip, flipping it skillfully into his own hand. Thomas noted the condition of his well kept weapon. Only a knight would care for a sword in such a way. This man seemed to be the leader of the troop.
"What do you want?" Thomas demanded.
"What do you think?" The lead bandit laughed, and was supported by the chuckles of his cohorts.
Thomas's thought dwelled on Elizabeth in the carriage, and only wanted to see her safe. "Take what you want, and leave us in peace." He demanded.
"Oh, we'll take what we want alright. The peace part depends on you." The man said, seeing that the children were waiting for any opportunity to spring into action.
"Let them have whatever they want." Thomas ordered his children. "Then they will go." His eyes told the leader to take his last statement as an order.
It was then that one of the other robbers grabbed Eleanor's crossbow from her hands. "Sure could use one of these." He said, his voice filled with happiness as he inspected his new weapon. Taking it to his shoulder, he aimed it at the side of the carriage and pulled the trigger. It sailed through the air barely missing Sir Thomas, and planted itself deeply into the interior of the buggy.
The Gray's gasps and looks of concern caught the attention of the leader of the bandits.
"There somebody in there?" He demanded, coming close enough that Sir Thomas was forced to take a step backward.
"No! No one." Thomas muttered quickly, praying that Elizabeth was alright. The look of concern on his face gave him away however, and the leader strode over to the carriage door. He threw it open and stuck his head inside. For a moment he was taken aback, it seemed he could barely manage to comprehend what he had found. Lady Elizabeth was pressed into the far corner of the seat, fear written plainly on her face. The leader stood there a moment and then seemed to remember his business. His anger grew even more intense. He grabbed the frightened lady, and pulling her from the carriage, threw her at Sir Thomas who caught her in his arms and held her tightly.
The bandit leader, grew even more enraged when he saw the closeness between the knight and the lady. "I assume ... That...belongs to you." He said with disgust motioning at Lady Elizabeth. She buried her face in Thomas's shoulder as he held her close supporting her still weak legs. Under any other circumstances he would be forcing his blade between the man's ribs for what he had just done and said against Elizabeth.
"Just take what you want and go." Elizabeth muttered.
"Ha, ha, ha." The leader dissolved in a fit of laughter. "Oh, Lizzy dear you always were such a dove." He chuckled.
The Gray's stood dumbfounded. This man knew Lady Elizabeth? Why had he treated her so roughly. They did not understand, but they saw her stiffen, and turn to face the man who was laughing at her. She moved forward, knowing this man would not hurt her. Thomas tried to stop her, but she kept up her approach, struggling to walk. 'a dove, a dove,'echoed in her mind. There was only one man in the world who ever called her that. As she reached the bandit she stared directly into his eyes, the glimmer of recognition was unmistakable. Suddenly she reached up and ripped off his mask, his laughter still ringing. The man's face was weathered, but his jaw held the lines of nobility. Only Armus and Sir Thomas betrayed that they knew the man by their gasps.
"Who is he?" Eleanor whispered pleading to her eldest brother. Richard and Cedric were equally courious. They could see their father staring at the man, he looked nearly sick, and they were afraid his legs would give way.
"That's...That's...Sir Robert Leland. Lady Elizabeth's...late..." Armus paused not wanting to say it."...husband." He finally informed them. Their gasps then echoed those of their brother and father.
Elizabeth stood staring at her husband, whom she had not seen in fifteen years. Her mind raced, her heart pounded in her ears, and her stomach turned circles. Suddenly she could stand it no longer and blackness began to take over her brain. She started to fall, unconsiousness invading her mind. Sir Thomas ran to catch her. However, it was not his arms in which landed, but Sir Robert's.