The Healers Gift
By Lisa Winge

Chapter 4

They had decided to wait until they interrogated others. It was dinner when they finally told Jacobi and Elizabeth.

Jacobi was surprised on how calmly his wife was taking the news. She sat at the table with the necklace in her hand and Virginia and Caroline in front of her.

" Is there anything more you can tell me?" She asked them calmly.

The two shook their heads as the watched her get up and walk over to Robin..

" Robin, did you try this on others? Did you get any answers?"

" Those that were closest to the queen went with her. " he said taking the necklace from her. " No one else knew anything."

She gave him a smile and went to sit near one of the windows.

" When do we leave? " she asked, her voice sounding small.

" We'll have everything packed tonight and can leave at first light."

She just shook her head and kept looking out the window. Jacobi looked at Tuck with a questioning look. Tuck to him to the side to explain and gave him an apologetic look.

" I sorta spiked your tea. I thought the two of you could use it. Sorry."

Jacobi gave him a pat on the shoulder and went to sit behind his wife, letting her headrest on his shoulder. She was asleep as soon as her head hit his shoulder. He picked her up and took her to their rooms, leaving the rest in the dining room.

" I suggest the rest of you do the same thing. " Said Diana from her customary spot on Little Johns lap, " The trip to the Tyne is a long one and your going to need the rest." she said looking into the giants blue eyes.

" Have you ever been there, Diana?" asked Tuck.

" Oh yes, several times with the king. It seem that the Tyne has a special spot in his heart and he never went anywhere without his favorite cook." She said, looking slightly smug.

" I can see why you’re his favorite," said Little John, looking deeply into her brown eyes.

" You know Diana, you could come with us. We really don't know our way and could really use a guide?" asked Little John.

Diana was about to answer when Caroline interjected.

" How could you Diana? Your suppose to be loyal to the queen."

" Actually Caroline, I’m not." she said, leveling a hard gaze at the petite woman, " I am loyal to his majesty the king and I whole heartily disapprove of what the queen mother has done."

Caroline lowered her eyes to the floor as Diana continued.

" She had no right taking those children away from their parents. She did it out of spite and that is all there is to it. Have you even taken a look at Jacobi and Elizabeth? Have you seen how heartbroken they are? Does it mean anything to you at all?" Diana asked finally.

The two just looked at the floor in silence. Diana could tell by the looks on their faces that they were thinking about it.

Turning back to Robin, " If you need me, I'll be happy to come. Heck even if you don't I will. There are others who can cook just as well as I until I get back."

" Can she really come with us Robin? " asked Little John, " Please?"

Robin started to laugh, " Yes she can John, but you are going to have to protect her."

Little John smiled, placed Diana back in his lap and wrapped his arms around her, " No problem Robin. No problem at all."

" Well then let me suggest that we all go and get some rest then." said Kemal, " As Diana said, we are going to need it."

They started leaving the room when Marion asked, " What do we do with then?" indicating Virginia and Caroline " Put them in their room?"

" No." said Robin." Knowing them, they have escape routes in their rooms somewhere. Why don’t we put them in the tower until we leave tomorrow?"

They all agreed. Robin, Kemal and Marion escorted the two to the east tower where they were untied and left, then went to their own rooms for some much-needed rest.

Little John had opted to stay with Diana and help her out with the food supplies. He wasn't really much of a help, but Diana liked the fact he was willing to try.

Tuck went to see about medical supplies, before settling down for the rest of the night. His last waking thought was of Jacobi and Elizabeth and the journey a head of them.

Andrew and his family sat in stunned silence.

"Your Majesty," bowed Andrew. "Do I understand you correctly? You want to leave the children here, in our care?"

"That is correct," agreed the Queen.

Kathryn laughed. "You're joking, aren't you?"

"On the contrary, I'm quite serious."

"But why here, with us?" asked Rupert.

"Because my son holds a special place in his heart for this family. He has evidentially forgotten what happened in his youth." The Queen said, giving Andrew an icy stair.

"What happened?" asked Nicholas.

Eleanor studied Andrew's sons. They each had their father's brown eyes, but with their sandy hair, they looked more like their mother. Andrew's hair, graying now, was brown, as was Kathryn's, but in her beautiful blue eyes, her mother lived still.

"Years ago, I took Richard and John fishing," explained Andrew. "A storm came up suddenly and Richard was swept over the side. He nearly drowned before we got him safely to land, but that was nearly for naught. He had the fever afterwards, that raged for days. He nearly died from that."

"Yes, he did. Your carelessness nearly cost this country their King." Eleanor closed her eyes for a moment, then looked into Andrew's eyes. "There is another reason I'm leaving them with you."

"What is that, Your Majesty?"

"They are your grandchildren," she said boldly.

'My grandchildren," he exclaimed.

Kathryn got to her feet. "What is she talking about Father?"

"Is this true?" Rupert asked.

"Quite true," the Queen replied. "Your father will verify this."

"Father," began Nicholas angrily "Did you know about this?"

Andrew sat with is head in his hands, divorcing himself from the hysteria rising around him.

Eleanor called her servant to her, and whispered instructions. In a few moments, the woman returned with the children. The Queen picked up Ellie and put her on Andrew's lap, forcing him back to the present. She then placed Jacob in the surprised Kathryn's arms.

Ellie watched him for a moment, then pulled on his big nose. He gently removed her hand. "What are their names?"

"The little girl is Ellie, and her twin is Jacob." She turned toward the door. "And now, I must be going home."

"Wait," said Kathryn. "Who are their parents? Won't they wonder where they are?" asked Kathryn.

Eleanor stopped when she reached the door. "Andrew."

He looked up at her, tears in his eyes. "Yes, Your Majesty."

"I'm making amends for what I did out of anger many years ago. Don't make me regret my decision." She swept up her skirt, and left the room, her servant and guards behind her.

When she had gone, Kathryn turned to her father. " Father...." started Kathryn. "Don't you think you owe us an explanation."

"No, I don't," he replied. " At least not now."

"You can't just expect us to calmly take on a new family without telling us the something."

He slammed his hand down so hard on the table, the tankard jumped. "I can, and I do."

The unaccustomed violence of his action shocked his family into silence, and frightened the children. Ellie's face puckered for a moment, then her little body was wracked with sobs. Jacob watched her, then he too began to cry.

Andrew faced mirrored his regret. He gently rocked the little girl cooing sweet words to her and she was smiling again. Kathryn watched him and tried the same with Jacob who refused to be comforted. He held himself stiff and kicked.

"Put him down, Kathryn," Andrew instructed.

When she did so, the little boy went to stand beside his sister, laying his hand in hers. He hiccuped and was quiet. Andrew settled Ellie on the ground beside him, and the two played happily until the Amazon nursemaids came to collect them for their nap.

When they had gone, Andrew asked his children to sit around the table. He looked at each in turn, then began to speak. "It is not easy for me to speak of my oldest child." He took a deep breath. "I have relived the moment of disappearance many times and have never come to terms with it."

Kathryn laid her hand on her father's arm. "Father," she whispered.

He absently patted her hand, appreciating her sympathy. "After the boating accident in which Richard was nearly killed, the Queen was in a rage. Your older sibling was outside playing, when the Queen and her party left to take Richard home, She took the child with her as revenge. Only we didn't know that for some time later."

He looked at Kathryn. "Your mother was pregnant with you at the time and the news caused her to go into labor. You were born a few hours later." He took her hand. "Thankfully you were a healthy child; you gave your mother the reason to keep going but it was that reason we didn't want more children... at least not for a while. It was nearly ten years before we decided to have more children" He looked at Rupert. "We never talked about our first born because it was just too painful. We finally learned that Eleanor was behind the disappearance; we also learned we would never be allowed to see the child again. The child was dead as far as we were concerned. "

"Was the child a girl or a boy?" asked Rupert.

Andrew looked at his son. "It doesn't matter anymore."

"Of course it matters," began Nicholas.

Andrew put up his hand to silence him. "It doesn't matter because the twins wouldn't be here if their parents were still alive. The child has been dead to me for twenty-eight years, and will stay that way." Andrew got to his feet and moved to the door. He paused before leaving. "We will start fresh with the babes."

Kathryn scowled at his retreating back, then began to laugh. She tried to sober, but her brothers shocked faces set her off again. "And here I thought I was finished raising brats like the two of you."

The sun was beginning to rise as the small band rode out of London. Caroline and Virginia watched them leave from their tower.

" I hate to say it." started Virginia. " But Eleanor's plan is working perfectly."

" Yes it is." said Caroline as she watched them all leave. " But I think the Queen will be surprised to find that Diana is helping them. She wasn't in the plan. "

" Yes but if it wasn't for her, they would have never found that damn necklace."

" Very true " she said and turned at the sound of the door opening.

The two walked out and down to the thrown room where one of Eleanor’s guards was waiting for them.

" The boat is ready for you two, with supplies and the Queens guard already aboard. They will leave as soon as you reach the dock." she said. " If the sea behaves herself, you should reach South Shields in 5 days, before Elizabeth and Jacobi."

Virginia and Caroline nodded at the guard and started for their horses.

"When you reach South Shields, you are to go to Gateshead and stay there until contacted."

Again they nodded and left out the east gate.

----------------------------------

They stopped their first night in the town of Stevenage; the second in

Raunds; the third in Melton Mowbray. All three towns were small and out of the way of any big towns. Diana had made sure of that.

They breathed a sight of relief when they saw the horizon of Sherwood.

"By god, what a lovely sight" said Tuck.

"I have to agree with you, my friend," agreed Robin.

In a short time, they entered the canopy of Sherwood and stopped at a stream to water the horses and stretch their legs. Little John walked over to Diana and put his arm around her.

"Welcome to my home, Diana. " he said, smiling to her.

She smiled, taking his hand. Having never seen this part of Sherwood, she was awe struck by its beauty.

Little John's smile was understanding and tender. "It is beautiful, isn't it."

Emotion choked her a little. She nodded, then cleared her throat. "Yes. We always traveled through the edge of the forest, by way of Nottingham. After seeing all this, I can't think why."

She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds. The water, birds, squirrels and the occasional woodpecker. Her eyes were large with emotion, and her lips trembled a little. "How can you bear to leave this? It's so beautiful here."

"Believe me, it's not all that easy," he said, bending close, placing a gentle, yet passionate, kiss on her mouth.

Elizabeth and Marion, still astride their horses, watched the two with great interest. She raised one eyebrow, and smiled. "I have a feeling there will soon be another wedding in Sherwood."

"And a good thing it will be, too," agreed Elizabeth.

Marion nodded in agreement. "It sure will."

Jacobi dismounted and approached Tuck and Robin. Kemal secured his horse then went to join his friends. "You don't look too happy, Friar."

Tuck heaved a sigh. "Love is one of the good things of life, and I am happy for all those who experience it. However, I will admit that in this case I feel like I am loosing a brother."

"No, Tuck," said Kemal. " I think this is your gain. You will now have a sister, and one who can out cook you any day."

Tuck looked shocked, then started to laugh. "You might be right, Kemal."

"She will be a welcome addition in many ways, Tuck," said Robin.

Jacobi nodded. "I agree. And, she is just what Little John needs."

"There speaks the voice of experience," quipped Robin.

Jacobi clapped him on the shoulder. "Yes it is," he grinned.

Diana broke the kiss, blushing a deep shade of crimson. Little John laughed and put his arms around her waist and picking her up to hug her.

She let out a small squeal. "Little John, put me down!"

"Why?" he asked, his sky blue eyes alight with love.

She laughed shakily. "I don't know," she admitted.

He laughed and kissed her again.

In a few moments, Robin walked over and tapped Little John on the shoulder. "I hate to interrupt you two, but if we're going to make camp by dark, we need to get going."

"Sure," agreed Little John. "What are we waiting for?"

"I wonder," laughed Robin.

Soon, they were again on their journey, and made camp soon after dusk. They were welcomed with a hot meal and much camaraderie.

Marion got to her feet. "I need a bath. Anybody else interested?" Robin grinned. Marion gave him a warning glance. "Any of the women. The men can bathe in their own spot, as usual," she declared and strode off, Elizabeth and Diana in her wake.

Robin watched them leave, then heaved a great sigh." Another cold bath."

Jacobi grinned at him." Thought you would be used to it by now. I mean really, how many cold baths have you had to take over the years? " He jested, leaning against Kemals shoulder and crossing his arms.

" You know, as long as I have known him, he’s never taken a hot bath." Kemals grin was equally wide.

" I have also noticed that when he does bath," Little John joined in, " instead of getting out right away, he stays in for a very long time."

" You noticed that too, ey?" all three men sat there, grinning at Robin. Robin, in turn, got up slowly and started to walk towards the lake. The three turned their backs on him, whispering. Robin, seeing their mistake, grabbed one of the buckets of drinking water and proceeded to pour it over the three's heads. When finished, he gently laid the bucket over Little Johns head, gave it a little tap and proceeded to walk down to the lake for his bath.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An hour later, Elizabeth entered the tent loaned to them, wrapped in a robe, to find Jacobi fully dressed and heading for the door.

" Well there you are! I thought you had drowned or something. I was just coming to look for you."

"So I see, dear," replied Elizabeth mildly. "Sorry to worry you, but the hot water felt so good, I didn't want to come out! " She dropped the robe and got into bed.

Jacobi disrobed, got into bed and wrapped his wife in his arms. They lay there for a while, Jacobi running his fingers through his wife's still damp hair.

"Jacobi?" she asked quietly.

"Yes, love?" he answered.

"Do you think they will remember us?"

His arms squeezed her tightly. "Yes, I'm sure they will."

"Do you think they still love us? " her voice sounded small and tore at his heart.

"Elizabeth! Of course they will," he said holding her tighter.

"Do you still love me?"

"Oh my love! " he said, looking into her eyes. " I love you more now, then ever. And my need for you is great indeed."

With that he kissed her, and for the first time in two weeks, proceeded to show her how much he did love her.

End of Chapter Four

Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four
Chapter FiveChapter Six / Chapter SevenChapter Eight

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