A/N: As best I could tell, Groves has no first name given anywhere in canon, so I provide him with one.
"Strange though," Mrs. Healy added, "lavender's not somethin' yeh'd think 'e'd send wiv that bunch."
"Why?" I asked, knowing Mrs. Healy knew her business well.
"'Cause it means 'e don't trust you," she replied, the tiniest smile on her lips. She laughed at my reddened cheeks, and spoke again. "Quite t' message 'e sent yeh, luv."
Passion, hope and mistrust. I was at a complete loss.
Mrs. Healy and I sat together with tea at my kitchen table, trying to puzzle out where the flowers had come from.
"What did the two gentlemen look like who ordered the flowers?" I asked, hoping that there might be some clue as to the admirer to be found.
"As I said," Mrs. Healy went on, " them was unsavory fellas...at firs' I thought they was robbin' us at t' end of the day. Busy one it were too, wot wiv gettin' all the flowers sent up to the guv'nor's place fer the ball."
"Short one an' a tall one...the short one, 'e's a bit grumpy if yeh ask me...lot's of eye rollin'...keeps tellin' t' other to hurry it up. Acts all suspicious-like."
"The tall one as done the orderin', well now, 'e's a dif'ren' story. Keeps shushin' the short one and tellin' im they has ta have it right. 'E wants lavender and plenty of it, but then 'e comes back before they was to leave, an' says 'e wants somethin' else added."
I poured more tea for each of us and waited expectantly for Mrs. Healy to finish the recounting of the flower order.
"So, any'ow, the tall one, 'e says he wants flowers added as tell of 'ope, and the short one, 'e gets all outta sorts again and starts scoldin' t' tall one, sayin' that weren't specified by yer admirer."
"They weren't?" I asked, mind racing as to what the whole thing was about.
"Guess not," Mrs. Healy replied. "The tall one, t' younger o' the two, 'e shushes the short one, an' tells 'im 'e knows wot 'e's about...that 'e wants somthin' as means 'ope, and somethin' as means passion put in t' lavender. Said yer admirer would 'ave agreed 'ad 'e been there."
"Wasn't 'til 'e saw wot I put together, that 'e was satisfied it were romantic enough, an' then they finally left."
I shook my head. "I'm at a complete loss, Mrs. Healy," I said in earnest. "I haven't the vaguest notion."
"Well, it's a righ' mystery, then," Mrs. Healy said cheerfully, and then she frowned slightly. "Another odd thing it were, dearie..."
"What's that?" I asked.
"They overpaid me fer them flowers," she answered. "Gave me this an' said keep it." She pulled a coin out of her apron and showed it to me. I didn't recognize what sort of coin it was...maybe Spanish, but it was clearly made of gold and worth a lot more than a bouquet of flowers.
"So they leaves, and the tall one, 'e thanks me and 'e insists one more time that these be sent to yeh today. Very specific 'e was it had ta be today."
"It couldn't possibly be anyone that might work for Charles Beckett at the East India Trading Company?" I asked, being a little daring in speculating such a thing in front of Mrs. Healy.
She frowned. "It weren't...them two fellas was downright scruffy looking, wot wiv ragged clothes, an' swords, an' the wooden eye an' such."
"Wooden eye?" I asked, wondering if Mrs. Healy was pulling my leg.
She nodded. "The tall one 'as done the orderin'...'e 'ad a wooden eye. Dropped it once an' 'ad to climb under 't counter ta get it."
I laughed, completely mystified and amused by the whole story.
"Well," Mrs. Healy said, heaving herself back to her feet heavily, "if'n you find out 'oo they're from, you let me know. Can't say as I've 'ad a more intriguin' order b'fore."
"I certainly will," I said, seeing her to the door. "Thank you, Mrs. Healy."
"Thanks fer the tea, luv," she said with a wave. "Ta."
I must have sat staring at the flowers for another half hour before I managed to drag myself away to head to the stable to see about working with the new horse I had purchased.
I greeted the young lad who helped oversee the care of the horses. Will Turner was his name, and he'd been taken in by John Brown, the blacksmith that owned the stable and the smithy next to it. He'd been found at sea, adrift as the only survivor of a ship bound for Jamaica from England that sank two weeks before.
"How's my Rogue, this morning, Mr. Turner?" I asked him, where he was hauling a large bucket of water into the small stable.
Will looked up. "Good morning, Doctor Gray. He's fine. A bit ornery, I suppose."
I smiled and knew it was true. The young stallion, while having an overall pleasant disposition, was full of vim and vigor, and needed a patient, firm hand to keep his attention focused.
I was just leading Rogue back to the stable after working with him for a couple of hours, and riding him to a small cove west of town and back, when someone spoke to me.
"So, this is the horse you told me of, is it?" Lieutenant Groves was standing there, looking over the animal.
"Good morning, Lieutenant," I said, and then I dismounted and led Rogue over to where he was standing.
"I happened to stop by your house this morning, and figured I might find you here when you weren't at home," he explained. "To inquire as to your health, of course," he added quickly, trying not to smile.
"My health, Lieutenant Groves," I said, smiling myself, " is quite fine. Not much different than it was last night, in fact."
He knew I was teasing him, but it was apparent that I was glad that he'd come to find me.
"He's a fine looking horse, Doctor Gray," he began.
"Thank you, and Madeline would be fine, Lieutenant," I said warmly, "if you don't find it an impropriety to address me as such."
"Certainly not, Madeline," he said with a smile, "and in that case, it's Jonathan."
I saw to Rogue as we spoke some more.
"Madeline, I hope you didn't find the conversation too upsetting last night," he said, as I hung up the bridle in my hand.
"Why should I have?" I asked.
"Well, it must have been uncomfortable for you to have to speak of the kidnapping," he said kindly.
I joined him and walked outside, wandering toward the docks as we continued talking. "That was two years ago, Jonathan. I'm quite well recovered by now." I knew it wasn't completely the truth, but that didn't mean he had to know.
"Yes, well I'm certain you can understand Norrington's position on pirates...all of our's really. They need to be stopped."
I nodded and said nothing.
"Lieutenant Norrington would love nothing better than to be able to bring the Black Pearl and her captain to justice," he went on. "She's caused enough trouble preying on ships and settlements...Barbossa and his motley crew."
"Motley?" I asked, amused at his choice of words.
He laughed a little. "Yes. Worst bunch of cutthroat buccaneers the Caribbean's seen in a long time. Savage fighters...ruthless killers. Supposed to be a Dutchman and a Jamaican who love nothing better than to cut a man's throat just enough to watch him bleed to death slowly."
"That's terrible," I answered, knowing it was none of the pirates that I had ever met, although I knew of a few on the Rogue that might have done the same thing. I found my fingers had gone to the tiny scar I carried under my chin without realizing it at first.
"The bo'sun is supposed to be a giant of an African who can crush a man's neck with his bare hands," Groves went on, "and the Pearl has some of the best gunners in the Caribbean, despite the fact that one of them is supposed to have a wooden eye."
"A what?" I stopped dead in my tracks.
Jonathan laughed a little. "A wooden eye," he repeated, and then his brow furrowed when he saw that I was becoming visibly upset.
"Are you all right, Madeline?" he asked, quite concerned.
"I'm sorry, Jonathan," I said, turning away already, " I have to go."
"All this talk of pirates has dredged up some unpleasant memories. I...I need to..."
I fled at that point, leaving poor Groves thinking he'd been the cause of my distress.
I flung open the door to the kitchen and hurried inside. There on the table sat the flowers. Rose leaves for hope, coral pink roses for passion, and lavender...I knew what the lavender was for, and it wasn't mistrust of me. I knew why they'd had to be delivered that day, for that very day was May first, the anniversary of the day we'd met.
He'd sent them, somehow, knowing that after two years, I probably had good reason to mistrust his intentions, and he'd wanted to dispel the doubt I probably had by that time by getting a message of sorts to me. The lavender was for more than was apparent on the surface.
I thought back to the night I'd worn the perfume I hoped he hadn't noticed, and the night he'd teased me about it mercilessly. A flood of memories came back then, and I had to sit down at the table.
Whoever he'd sent, apparently knew him well and knew something of his history with me, and it amused me to think that the man with the wooden eye had taken the time to add some additionally romantic touches on his captain's behalf.
I had solved the mystery of the flowers. It was the most surprising answer I could have come up with, and I had to admit, the most pleasing. I still had so many questions that were unanswered, after waiting for nearly two years.
Perhaps this was a message letting me know that he still planned on returning, and I resolved that I could wait a little longer.
Mrs. Healy commented one morning, some months later, when I'd encountered her while riding my horse, that Jonathan Groves had been spending a lot of time in the company of one of the local magistrate's daughters, and I knew it was because he'd gotten to know her after I'd declined his requests to spend more time together.
It didn't matter to me at that point. If the flowers had never arrived, I might have gotten in over my head with him, and what would have happened when Barbossa actually returned for me?
What I had no idea at that point was how many years it would be before I would actually hear from Barbossa again.
"Did yeh ever find out who it was wot sent yeh the flowers?" Mrs. Healy asked up at me where I sat on Rogue's back. "Yer secret admirer?"
I nodded. "Yes, I eventually did."
"Well, than 'oo was it, dearie?" she asked, being pleasantly nosy.
"I can't tell you that, Mrs. Healy," I said with a smile.
"A secret, it's to be still, then?" she asked, returning the smile.
I nodded at her with another smile, and I rode away with my Rogue, to wait for another that had sent me flowers in May.
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed this little side trip from the main saga. Next up is a short story about getting a second chance, and this time it's primarily about Barbossa –after he's been shot at Isla de Muerta eight years after this.
Can visitation by four helpful spirits scare the Dickens out of the Pirate Lord in order to help redeem him on his path back from the afterlife? Watch for A Caribbean Carol soon –third installment of the Pirates of May series.
And don't forget to let me know if you're enjoying the ongoing tale! :)