Title: Time Heals All
Summary: Will and Christiana take Adhemar home for care after finding him injured by thieves. WARNING-- rape mentioned.
Disclaimer: 'A Knight's Tale' and the characters are the property of Columbia Pictures. I make no money off of this work of fan fiction.
Feedback: Questions? Comments? Colorful metaphors? All are appreciated.
Notes: When this story was begun, I had very different ideas about where it would go, but then a 31/2" floppy disaster made me re-think the plot. As usually happens in such instances, I ended up enjoying this turn of plot better than the original idea! I hope this final chapter is enjoyed. -- Kasey
For once, it was not Wat seeking Kate out during the day, but rather her wandering about the grounds looking for him. She finally found him by the fish pond, showing children to fish. There was quite a group about him and Kate took a moment to watch. He joked with them and played, his manner silly. Strange, how Kate had never considered him with children before.
It occurred to her that, although she'd known him for a long while, she'd never taken the time to really know the man. All she knew were the basics. Who he really was escaped her. The thought brought a rush of sadness. She watched him laugh and entertain the children and decided she'd like to change that. She'd like to know Wat better.
She wasn't particularly attracted to him physically, not like she'd been with Gilles, but perhaps it was better that way. Perhaps caution should be entertained. She knew he cared for her a great deal and that he'd always been careful to not force his attentions on her. Oh, he'd propositioned her and made it come out in a joking manner, but, truthfully, there was no joking to it. He was still interested in her and it was more than a bit flattering.
He'd warned her about Gilles, showing an insight to the man's character that all of them had missed. He'd followed her and rescued her and once it was all over and Gilles had gone, he'd not once given her an 'I told you so'. Instead, he'd remained silent.
How novel! Wat remaining silent!
A sign of maturity and there were many such signs Kate was beginning to see. He still brawled, but his fights were not solely begun with temper. He held his tongue better.
She smiled and stood a bit straighter to find his regard turned her way. He left the children and came to her.
"I've come to say I'm sorry."
He nodded. "Oh. About what?"
She uncrossed her arms, threaded her fingers together and twisted them about. "I didn't behave very well to you. I thought I should apologize." Kate looked away. It was more difficult than she'd thought to say these words. "I..."
"Accepted. Do you like children?"
Why on earth was he asking that? She nodded slowly. "Well yes."
"Good." He took her arm, leading her towards the group of noisily chatting children. "Then you won't mind taking time to play."
She found she didn't mind at all.
In the opinion of the midwife, the Lady Jocelyn's birth experience had been one of the easiest she'd ever seen. Not that Jocelyn agreed with her. She was rather glad to have it behind her and to be holding her baby. The child was red and wrinkled and the most beautiful thing Jocelyn had ever set eyes upon. She was moved near to tears every time she looked at the tiny face.
She held her son and contemplated the business Will had brought to her.
He'd not lied to her or painted rosy colors on the truth. He'd told her about Gilles. It was distressing to learn that his men had been responsible for the problems they'd had and that he had not been what she'd thought him to be.
Most people are not what they put forth, she thought. Even Will had masqueraded as another person. Still, she could not find it in her to entirely hate Gilles. Flawed as he was, he'd been good to her and to Christiana all their lives. Briefly, she wondered if Christiana had ever learned that Gilles was her father. Jocelyn's mother had let that gem slip once when she was ill and Jocelyn had kept the secret, though it had seemed silly to her. Unless Christiana asked, she'd continue keeping the secret, just like she now kept the secret that Gilles was her real father.
Gabrielle had been pregnant when she'd married Henry, forced to marry by her father. She'd not been as lucky as Jocelyn to marry her love. Jocelyn had been busy in her confinement, reading her mother's journals and discovering all sorts of things she'd not known, like how she'd been the first of Gilles' children, followed quickly by Christiana and several others. Gabrielle had eventually gotten over her first love, remarking that she'd settled because she had to and become fond of her husband after a fashion.
Her mother's situation had been remarkably like her own. The attentions of two suitors at tournament, favoring one exclusively, then told she could not marry her favorite. Thankfully, their stories veered at that point. Gabrielle had given Jocelyn her full support in the matter of William Thatcher and now Jocelyn knew why. Her mother had relived life through Jocelyn.
She glanced at the window, where for the first time in weeks, the sky was clear and the sun sent cheerful rays over the manor and grounds. In a few days, when she could leave the chamber, she'd go and visit Adhemar. It was time she finally put the past to rest. She needed to look at him and see the man he'd become; the man Christiana had become so attached to.
That Christiana preferred Adhemar's company astonished her. She'd never thought Christiana would enjoy time with the man. She did though. Therefore, Jocelyn had to see what had changed that made him the sort of man Christiana wanted to be around. Call it curiosity or call it sisterly concern. Hell, she thought, call it plain nosiness. Jocelyn was ready to leave the bedchamber and return to her duties as lady of the manor.
Two more days, she decided. She'd give herself two more days of rest.
Simon Adhemar left the Thatcher home a bit happier than when he'd arrived. His brother was on the mend. It was a slow recovery, but Simon thought John was doing well. The maid Christiana was taking wonderful care of him and Simon decided she was good for his brother.
He was returning home with a document drawn up by the lawyer. John had signed over all his rights to Simon. Not just the rights on the money, but rights on every other aspect of what an eldest son had. Perversely, Simon was thrilled by the document. How often did the youngest become the oldest by law? The lawyer had been a wily old man who'd closed all the loopholes that the other Adhemar brothers might look at. Then, he'd penned several more copies of the document. If one was destroyed, there was always another copy.
John's reasoning was simple: Simon was the only one who'd bothered to come and see him, so Simon was the one who deserved everything.
Just like an Adhemar to hinge inheritance on who bothered to show up.
Simon gave a faintly malicious grin. He couldn't wait to hear the reactions of the rest of the family.
We'll see who's the weak one now.
Adhemar regarded the woman staring out the window with a tiny frown. She'd offered her life along with his and indicated she wanted a commitment. He got up and went to her, giving her shoulder a slight touch to get her attention.
Christiana turned her head. "Hmm?"
"We should speak, Christiana."
She tilted her head a little to one side, then shrugged. "I know."
They each took a chair, sitting so that they faced one another. Both crossed their arms and Christiana seemed somewhat nervous. Adhemar took a long look about the room before beginning. "What do you expect from me?" When she didn't answer, he continued. "I can't love you. You know that. I can't give you affection because I can't afford to feel."
"I know." She repeated.
He leaned forward, forearms on his knees. "I can't be physical with you, Christiana. Not now. Maybe never. Can you spend your life like that?"
"How do you think I was living before Will and I found you?" Stretching out a hand, she took one of his in her grasp. "We touch hands and you aren't pained by it. Once you would have flinched away. It's a start. There is progress...John."
Her use of his Christian name didn't bother him. In fact, he liked the sound of it from her lips. Adhemar stared at her, noted the quiet determination in her eyes and the subtle strength that wrapped about her. This woman was a survivor. Though broken herself, she'd come through the process a better woman, stronger and more certain of who she was.
Could he do the same? Could he go through this process and find in the end that he knew who he was? Right now, he felt as though he was sitting in the eye of the storm and any moment control would be snatched from him. His emotions would rage and he'd feel adrift upon stormy waters. The eye was the center though. And if he was in the center, then he was halfway along the path. If he was halfway along the path, then there was an end to this journey of healing. Could he let this woman inside in a time such as this?
He raised her hand, scrutinized it as closely as he'd scrutinized his own weeks earlier. Delicate bone structure, slender digits, but such strength. He pressed his lips to the back, inhaled the scent of rose that clung to her skin.
"What happens now," he asked.
Christiana smiled. "We go forward together."
This decision didn't make it all better. By taking the conscious step forward, he wasn't magically returned to what he'd been. No, returning to himself would still be a long and sometimes painful process. But he was encouraged.
Business and family were taken care of and he didn't have to go anywhere. Thatcher was graciously allowing him to remain on the property and he was content for now. He could stay here and finish his journey. For as long as it took, he could stay.
And maybe time would heal all his ills.
It had already begun.