Author's note: Sorry for any stupid mistakes that may be found in the text and thank you to all the reviewers. Characters and story aren't mine, most of this is taken from various books such as Saving Grace and A Kingdome of DreamsThe few next chapters will be concentrated on Sirius and Jamie
Huddled beneath a fallen tree, Maggie watched as a soldier rode back into the clearing, leading one of her captor's horses away. From where she hid, she could only see the legs of the animals, the forest floor, and as he dismounted, the legs of the man himself. She should have run deeper into the woods, Maggie decided frantically, but if she had, she might have gotten lost.
The man's legs brought him nearer. He suddenly stopped, and Maggie sensed automatically that his eyes were searching the dark recess of the bushes where she was hidden. He moved abruptly, walking toward her, and she grew frightened as she could no longer breathe properly. She clamped her hand over her mouth as she stared in terror at the tips of his boots only inches from her own.
"All right now," the deep voice boomed in the little clearing. "Come out, milady. You've given us a good chase but it's over now."
Hoping the man was jesting, Maggie pressed further back into her hiding place. "Very well then," he sighed. "I suppose I'll have to come and get you myself." He crouched down and an instant later a big hand thrust through the branches, groping around and finally closing on Maggie's breast.
A squeal of indignant dismay stuck in her throat as his hand snapped open, then closed again slowly, as if he were attempting to identify what he'd found. When he did identify it, he jerked his hand back in shock, then thrust it forward, grabbed hold of Maggie's arm and dragged her out.
"Well, well, well," the man drawled. "It would seem I have found a woodland elf."
Maggie hadn't the courage to strike him as Jamie would have so she simply stared back at him in amazement and managed to glare at him as he threw her on the back of his horse like a sack of grain. She squeezed her eyes shut in fear of what might happen next. She wished Jamie were there, she would know what to do.
The Dog's camp began to stir to life before the last stars faded from the sky, but Jamie hadn't slept more than an hour all night. Shivering beneath the thin covering of her dress, she stared up at the sky as if begging God to protect Maggie and herself from what evil awaited them.
"Maggie, are you awake?" she whispered when the movements of the men grew louder outside, indicating that all were up and about.
"If that dog questions us, let me do all the talking. I might be able to figure out what he means to do with us now that he is holding us captive. You know as well as I that not all Englishmen can be trusted, especially not this one. His reputation precedes him."
"Yes," she said again, her voice quivering.
"I'm not certain what he will ask, but I know this, if we do not give him the answers he wishes, he will not be lenient."
Lily slept through the night. James left the chamber before she awakened. She was thankful for her privacy, she felt so disgusted with her brother that it was nauseating. All the things Jamie had said were most likely true and Sirius probably had done all those terrible things, but the only way to be sure was to question him, face to face.
She tried not to think about it and made her way to Jamie's chamber to see if she could get more out of the girl; anything that would lead her to believe that Sirius didn't commit such a terrible crime would make her feel all the better.
Nanny Macnab opened the door for her. Lily smiled when she saw Jamie was sitting up in bed. Her face was still horribly swollen, of course, the left side was black and blue from bruises, but her eyes looked clear, not gloomy.
"How are you feeling this morning, Jamie?" Lily asked.
"Better, thank you," Jamie answered in a weak, sorry voice.
"She barely ate a speck of the food I carried up," Nanny Macnab interrupted. "She says her throat hurts too much so I'll be going back to the kitchens to fix her up a nice warm soup."
Lily nodded. She kept her gaze on Jamie. "You must eat if you wish to regain your strength."
Jamie shrugged in answer. Lily shut the door behind Nanny Macnab and went over to sit down on the side of the bed next to her patient.
"You do want to get better, don't you?"
Jamie stared at Lily a long minute before answering. "I suppose I'll have to," she whispered. She intentionally tried to change the topic then. "Lady Lillian, I don't think I properly thanked you for your help. I really appreciate you defending me."
"You needn't tank me just yet," Lily objected. "Why did you sound so sad when you said you would probably have to get better?"
Jamie did not answer her and was obviously nervous, for she was twisting the end of her blanket into a knot.
"Will you send me back to England?"
"I don't know," Lily replied. She reached over and placed a hand on top of Jamie's. "Will you be happy to go back?"
"Well yes, of course but…" she rushed out.
She didn't sound very sincere but Lily was determined to get some answers, she wasn't going to demand anything from the battered woman though. She would use patience and understanding. Eventually Jamie would tell her why she was so worried.
She decided to soothe her. "You need not be afraid. You're safe here; no one's going to hurt you. Once you've regained your strength my husband and I will decide what's to be done, but for the meantime, you may stay with us as long as you wish."
Jamie's eyes filled with tears. "Thank you. I will never forget your kindness. I… I am weary now, I would like to rest."
Lily immediately stood up. She tucked the covers around the woman, acting like a concerned mother now. She put her hand to Jamie's forehead to make certain she didn't have a fever, then went over to check the pitcher to make sure her patient had enough water to drink.
Jamie appeared to be sound asleep by the time Lily left the chamber. Nanny Macnab went back inside to take over the watch.
A few minutes later, she came down the stairs and found James and Remus waiting for her at the bottom of the steps.
"Is something wrong, husband?" she asked when she spotted the frown on his face.
"Every time I try to talk to the Englishwoman she falls asleep! How long do you think it will be before she is strong enough to answer my questions in greater detail?"
"I don't know, milord," she answered. "You saw what she looked like the day she was brought here. It's going to take time for her to heal. Try to be patient with her," she suggested with a nod. "It's really a miracle that she's alive!"
"I suppose it is," he agreed. "She will be brought back to merry old England tomorrow with a group of my men. I assure you, she will be well protected."
Lillian didn't like hearing that news. She shook her head. "James you must understand that Jamie is in no condition to go anywhere."
James wasn't in the mood to argue with his wife. Tonight would be a better time to discuss what he would do with Jamie Severn.
"Why don't you go outside, wife. It is too fine a day to remain inside."
"Yes, it is a fine day," Lily said. A look of tenderness had come into James' eyes. He was being very unthinking now. She stretched up on tiptoe and kissed him but turned around and left quickly before he could respond.
James watched his wife go outside, then followed and stood on the top step of the keep. He continued to watch her until she disappeared down the hill with two of his men following close behind. He stared off into space for a little while, a scowl slowly forming on his handsome face.
He turned around, signaled to Remus to follow him and vanished up the stairs to his guest's room. He entered quietly and spotted Nanny Macnab in the corner sitting on a stool; the old woman understood her master's silent order and left.
James lifted the stool and set it beside the bed where Jamie lay as stiff as a log. "You may be able to fool my wife, but I can assure, milady, I am not so easily deceived," he announced none too gently. "You can stop pretending, I know you're awake."
Jamie shivered as her eyes came open, shining bright with terror. She said nothing and held her breath, waiting for James to speak.
"You will tell me what I need to know and once you have, I will send you back to your home…" a hiss interrupted his speech.
He stared at Jamie, waiting for a response. She sighed. "We almost escaped, Maggie and I. He caught up with us and took us back to his camp…"
As Sirius marched her through the camp, Jamie could feel the unsympathetic rage blazing at her from every soldier and knight she passed. She had made fools of them all by escaping and by evaded them. They hated her for that now, and their hatred was so powerful it made her skin burn. Even their leader seemed angrier at her than he'd been before, Jamie thought, as she quickened her pace to a near run, trying to keep up with him before he ripped her arm off.
Her concern over his fury was suddenly overwhelmed by a more pressing misfortune: Sirius Black was leading her to his tent, not to the one he had formerly assigned to her and her sister.
"I won't go in there!" she cried, jerking backward. Swearing under his breath, Sirius reached out and tossed her over his shoulder. Boorish laughter and cheers rang out all over the clearing as the men witnessed her public embarrassment.
Inside the tent, he dumped her onto the heap of fur rugs on the ground, then stood watching her as Jamie scrambled to a sitting position, and then to her feet. "If you defile me I swear I'll kill you," she cried.
Rage turned his face to steel and his eyes to glittery silver shards. "Defile you?" he repeated with contempt. "The last thing you inspire in me, madam, is lust. You are going to stay in this tent because it is heavily guarded and because I have neither the time nor the patience to chase after you. Furthermore, you're in the center of the camp, anymore attempts at escape will be futile. Don't even try to run, you will not make it passed the pavilion. Is that clear?"
She glowered at him but remained silent, but her refusal to submit to his will angered Sirius all the more. His fists clenched at his sides, he was furious but continued nonetheless. "If you do anything to inconvenience me or anyone else for that matter, I will see to it personally that your life be made a living hell. Do you understand?"
Looking into his harsh, menacing face, Jamie believed he could and would do it given the chance.
"Answer me!" he ordered murderously.
Realizing that he was already pushed passed reason, Jamie swallowed and nodded. He was about to add something when his servant, Neville, entered.
In Neville's arms were the blankets he'd fetched earlier from the ladies' tent, blankets which he'd been handing out to the men due to the cold weather. The boy's face was an exact replica of resentment and disbelief.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Sirius snapped.
Neville raised his young, indignant face to his master. "The blankets, milord," he said, turning his accusing gaze on Jamie. "She slashed them instead of mending them. The men were cold enough as it with these but what are they to do now with no protection at all?"
Jamie's heart began to pound in genuine terror. He spoke and his voice was a raw whisper, rasping with rage. "Come here."
Shaking her head, Jamie retreated a step.
"Do not be difficult," he warned as she stepped back again. "I said, come here."
She would rather have jumped off a cliff than go to him. The tent flap was up, but there wasn't any way for her to escape. The men were probably still gathered around waiting to see what would happen next as they had been when Sirius first dragged her in.
Sirius spoke to his squire, but his eye remained fixed on Jamie. "Neville, bring a needle and thread."
"Yes, milord," Neville agreed and scurried over to the corner, retrieving both. He put them on the table beside Sirius, then stood back and watched in surprise as his master merely lifted up the scraps that had once been blankets and held them out to the dark-haired witch who'd destroyed them.
"You are going to fix every one of these," he told her in an unnaturally quiet voice. "And until you do, you will sleep without one of your own just like the rest of my men. As long as they are not warm you will remain cold."
"I… I understand," Jamie said in a wavering voice. She walked forward and reached a shaking hand toward the scraps of cloth he held, but cried out as his big hand shot out and locked around her outstretched wrist.
Yanking her forward with a force that nearly knocked the air out of her. "You spoiled little bitch," he bit out. "Someone should have beaten you a long time ago. However, since they didn't, I will…"
Before she could react, he sat down and in one fluid motion jerked her across his lap. "No!" she gasped, wriggling about, horribly aware of the men who were gathered outside the tent, trying to hear.
"Don't you dare!" she cried, as she attempted to escape his firm hold. He clamped his leg over both of hers and lifted his hand. "This," he said as his hand crashed down against her backside. "Is for your destructiveness… your stupid escape… the blankets you ruined…"
Intending to thrash her until she sobbed and pleaded with him to stop, Sirius continued until his hand ached, but even though she squirmed frantically to avoid it, she never made a sound. He lifted up his hand once more but hesitated, disgusted with himself and deprived of the satisfaction of making her weep and beg for mercy, he shoved her off his lap and stoop up, glaring down at her.
Putting her hand down to the ground, Jamie rose slowly, unsteadily, until she was standing before him. Her head was bent forward, hiding her face form his view, but as he watched, she shuddered trying to stand upright. She looked so small and vulnerable that he felt a twinge of regret. "Jamie…" he bit out.
Her head lifted, and Sirius froze in surprise and admiration for the amazing sight he beheld. Standing there, her hair tumbling all about her like black flames and her huge blue eyes alive with hatred and unshed tears, she slowly raised her hand… a hand which was holding a dagger which she'd obviously managed to steal from his boot as he spanked her.
He'd hurt her and humiliated her, Sirius realized. He softly held out his hand. "Give me the dagger, Jamie."
She raised it higher, aimed, Sirius realized, straight for his heart.
"I will never lay a hand on you again," he continued, talking calmly as young Neville moved behind her, his face murderous as he prepared to defend his lordship.
"Now, give me the dagger." Sirius said, extending his hand to her, confident she would give it to him. She did.
The dagger slashed through the air with the speed of light, aimed straight at his heart. Only his swift reflexes allowed him to deflect the attack with his arm, then twist the blade free of her deadly grip. He jerked her against him and threw his arm around her imprisoning her against his body; bright red blood was already seeping from the gash she'd managed to carve along his cheek near his ear.
"You blood-thirsty little wench!" he savagely yelled. "If you were a man, I would kill you right where you stand!"
Neville was staring at his lord's wound with a fury that far outweighed Sirius'. "I'll fetch the guard…"
"Don't be a fool!" Sirius snapped. "I will deal with her myself."
Well this is slightly longer than the other chapter and much better in my opinion. Most is taken from Judith Mcnaught if you wish to read her books. I take no credit for the writing only the putting together of the chapters. Please review if you enjoy it and I shall try to update much faster than I have done so far.