Title: Trial By Fire
Summary: After 'Venus Revealed'. Adhemar must win over Jocelyn's friends.
Pairing: Adhemar/Jocelyn, Roland/Christiana, Geoff/Kate
Disclaimer: 'A Knight's Tale' is the property of Columbia Pictures. I make no money from this work of fan fiction.
Notes: This tale needed just a bit more to wrap it up.
Geoffrey Chaucer stood outside of the tavern where many years before, he and Kate had found Wat. He didn't even know if Wat was still there, but if he was, he'd ask him where he could find Kate. Their parting had been angry and though many years had passed since that day, he found himself anxious to see her.
The building was in excellent repair, no doubt due to the labors of the three young people working on it. There were two men and a woman, all three with dark auburn hair. The woman looked so much like Kate that tears sprung up in his eyes.
Gathering his courage, he strode across the narrow street and into the tavern. Inside, it was dark, but as his eyes adjusted, he saw the main room little changed from what he remembered. A woman moved among the tables, pausing now and then to wipe them with a cloth and Geoff could not hold back emotion any longer.
It was Kate.
She walked among the tables, her hair still long, caught back in a simple tie as he remembered, her form still trim. She looked up, her mouth opening. Just as quickly as her surprise appeared, so did her joy, lighting up her entire face. Her smile tugged upon his heart and Geoff walked towards her.
Kate dropped the cloth onto the table top and held out her arms. "Oh Geoff, it is you!" She enfolded him in a warm hug.
"Would it be any other?" He glanced about. "Would Wat be about as well?"
Sadness flickered in her eyes. "Let's talk, hmm?"
Kate led him to a table and when they had cups before them, she began to speak. "Wat's dead, Geoff. It happened nearly a year ago. Miles came to him for help in rescuing Adhemar. Apparently, there was a property dispute and Adhemar rode into battle only to get himself captured. Wat went, along with Roland and our youngest boy, John. Jocelyn sent for me not too long after they left and I arrived there just before Wat breathed his last. Adhemar lingered for nearly two weeks, but the infections he had in his body took him. He'd been tortured by his captors." She paused, frowning as though to stave off tears. "He died in a fever and Jocelyn has not recovered. It would have been kinder if she'd died first."
"I'm sorry about Wat, Kate," he began, but she shook her head.
"Don't be. Wat lived life to the fullest and he was ready, I think. He's up there with Will right now, filling him in and we'll see him again someday. We'll see them both."
"Did Jocelyn...." Geoff faltered on completing the sentence, but he pushed it out. "Did she grow to love him? Adhemar I mean."
Kate sipped her drink, thinking. "Perhaps. She never said. They had five children though and three have survived to adulthood. She mourns as though she's lost her heart, much like she did with Will. Etienne, their eldest, takes very good care of her. His wife treats her like a mother. I fully suspect one day soon to have a letter come from them saying that she has died. Christiana and Roland do their best to keep her spirits up, but Jocelyn has not spoken to any of them since Adhemar died. Her tongue went silent and she cries."
Tears would not stop coming to Geoff's eyes and he let them fall. Such was life. Death happened and it did no good to keep it all inside. "Philippa has died as well. This has not been a good year for me either in personal regards."
She stretched out a hand, covered one of his. "But we're here and we're alive."
Geoff shook off some of his melancholy. "What of you? I mean aside from Wat. How have the years treated you?"
"Well." Her lips twitched. "Richard.... You remember Wat's partner? His daughter married Ewan our eldest and they run the tavern for me. I'm given lodging and all that goes with it. Rose, our daughter, took up my old trade by marrying the local smith's apprentice and John won't settle on one woman. He reminds me so much of Wat."
"You married Wat then? I never thought you'd give up your trade, Kate."
She raised her chin a notch. "It wasn't by choice, I assure you. I had an accident and lost the ability to work with my right arm. I've little strength in it and even to this day it aches when the weather changes."
"I'm sorry," he repeated and he was sorry. Kate had loved her job and the loss of it must have hurt her considerably.
"Don't be. Our stars can change even if we do not actively pursue change. I don't regret my life, Geoff. I was happy after a long while." She released his hand. "And you?"
How to answer? She'd been correct back then in her assumption that Philippa was not sick. His wife had greeted him with tears and a long talk on what had happened between them. Suffice it to say that there'd been misunderstanding and hurt on both sides and Philippa was most willing to work out their troubles. Lewis had been born a year after their reconciliation. "Off and on, I was happy as well."
Kate sat back in her chair. "What brings you here?"
"I had to know how you were, all of you. In all my life, I've never had friends such as all of you were to me." He committed her face to memory once more and felt in his heart that it was time to leave. He'd found what he came for, his questions answered in a few minutes of conversation. "I'll go now."
She stood as he stood, shaking her head. "You just got here. Stay. Meet my family. Stay for a few days and meet Jocelyn's daughter. We expect Elisabeth on her way back to London."
"No, no. I can't spare the days. I've got an appointment and I have to show up for work." He took a last drink from his cup. "I couldn't wait on coming here though. I had to know. Does that make sense, Kate?"
Setting her hands on her hips, she tilted her head to one side, licked her lips. "Yes. It makes perfect sense." The stance lent her aging features a girlish cast and Geoff could almost see that young woman standing before him.
"Good." He went to the door and, just before going out, he looked over his shoulder. "I am writing it down, you know. All of it. It was a wonderful adventure."
Kate's smiling face carried him out into the street, to his mount and all the way home. A peace settled upon him and he could go about with life knowing that, while not all of his friends were well, they had all lived full lives. They'd had their own adventures and some day, within the walls of heaven, they'd gather about a campfire as they once had, and share their stories.
He looked forward to that day.