Chapter 11 - Time
The Bishop rode into the compound surrounded by the knights and his own soldiers. Jules was with Van and the children at theirs; she had found a route to their home which avoided the tavern, it was longer but it was worth it.
She had ventured to the tavern only once a few days before; she had been accompanied by all the knights, but she was still very uncomfortable and Tristan took her out quite quickly. Not that they had had any trouble, but she still did not like it there.
Arthur sent Bors to fetch her to meet the bishop; the meeting did not go as he had expected it to.
As she entered the room the bishop stood going through his spiel about one last errand for Rome, though had not got to the details; his voice petered out and his eyes stood on stalks at the woman standing before him. Eyes downcast, hair falling over her face, tight clothing revealing all her curves, curves up to now she had not been ashamed of.
All the knights, Lancelot in particular, looked on in distaste and anger as the Bishop openly ogled Jules.
“Bishop Germanius!” Arthur spoke sharply to get the man’s attention “please meet our new comrade, Jules.”
As Arthur had said his name Jules’ head had snapped up as if pulled by a rope, all saw it. All saw her face pale; her whole body begin to tremble.
“My dear child, it is a pleasure to meet you; you are indeed a jewel…” the bishop all but purred as moved towards her.
She stepped back, hands fluttering behind her as she flailed for the door handle to get out; though never once taking her eyes off the bishop.
Finally she had the door open and bolted. All the knights looked at each other.........until suddenly realisation dawned.
Tristan hovered unsure as to whether to kill the bishop where he stood or go after Jules, in the end Jules won. Lancelot had no such qualms; all that saved the bishop was Arthur’s sword blocking his.
“You KNOW!” growled the dark knight. “You know what he has done Arthur! What of your oath?”
“Nay, I do not; it could be because he is a Church man and nothing more, similar only but still raising bad memories for her as I did. Go after her - see first.” Lancelot turned with a snarl and stalked from the room.
The bishop looked horrified “What is it? Why does he think I raped her?” he asked after the other knights had run out after Jules and Tristan.
Arthur realised then that Lancelot had been right. “We never mentioned rape, Bishop, so why should you?” Arthur forced down the rising anger.
The bishop began to flounder and tried to change the subject back to the matter in hand.
Arthur swallowed deeply and let it go….for now……
They found her in hers and Tristan’s room, pressed into the corner, hiding behind the bed clutching Tristan’s dirty shirt he had been wearing that day; pressed against her face, it was as if she was smothering herself with it. But in actual fact she took comfort from the scent of him.
“What is it?” Tristan spoke calmly even though his heart was hammering in his chest. This was bad; this was her almost as when they found her.
She shook her head; drowning in her own terror. Luckily Dagonet had had the foresight to pick up her tablet and stylus. He handed it gently to her……she dropped it in her lap. Rocking back and forth, she looked at them with wild eyes.
“Tell us Jules, is it him? Is he the one?” pleaded Lancelot.
Her head stilled, as did her body. She looked at them….it was, to Tristan’s keen eye, as if she went to nod, but then vehemently shook her head.
“Are you sure? Jules, are you certain he has not hurt you?” This time Gawain spoke.
Again a minute hesitation, then a vehement nod.
Tristan siezed her chin and made her look at him “Then why run; if he is not your owner, he knew him did he not? He was there was he not?”
She stared at him……..then shook her head slowly.
“I do not believe you; tell me the truth.”
Again a slow shake.
“I do not believe you – the truth!” He was becoming angry now, she could sense it. The more she concealed, the worse it would make things…
A slight nod - Lancelot sprang round to go back and finish the job; until they heard it a noise, and from Jules.
He swung back - she was banging her head with her fists and her eyes were desolate. She kept pointing to her mouth and they could all feel the tangible frustration in her face.
Tristan grabbed her arms to stop her, “Stop it! You will only hurt yourself.” She flung him away angrily and stood swiftly.
She grabbed Lancelot and pushed him against the wall. As he went to speak she went to within an inch of his face, staring deeply into his eyes and clamped her hand over his mouth; putting her finger to her lips in a ‘Shh’ motion.
She was very agitated; he stood motionless as she suddenly held a knife to his throat.
“What in the bloody hell is Birdie doing?!” Cried Bors in disbelief.
Galahad went towards her, but instead of hurting Lancelot she only made a cutting action with the blade before dropping it back to her side and then kissing his cheek.
She turned to all the knights, making the same action and then kissing their cheeks. All except Tristan; she kissed his lips so gently that it took his breath away, and he went to follow her mouth as she drew back before realising what he was doing.
They knew what she was saying; she loved them and did not want them hurt. If they did anything to the bishop then they would all suffer; finally she pointed to herself and did the same action. This time she shrugged.
“That is not true Jules! You bloody matter to us!” Gawain flung out.
Galahad looked confused, then realised what she was saying “I would rather die here and now, than run this ‘errand’ for the sick bastard down there!” he ground out.
She finally picked up her tablet in shaking hands and Dagonet read it out for all of them in a voice thick with emotion, for he knew what she would do -
I have my own destiny to follow, so do you.
Do not give up your lives and freedoms for me.
I am not worthy of such a sacrifice.
Please me by living your lives and be happy.
As for me I have old scores to settle.
He will merely be one more when I return.
but I must do them in order.
“Why? Why not kill him now?” Galahad asked.
Because you need him to secure your papers.
He will keep.
“For what? What in the name of God is going on?” Arthur strode in.
I need to rest.
Please, a little time, I am upset.
She went to Arthur and kissed his cheek -
You are a good man Arthur,
It has been a pleasure to know you.
To know not all Romans are animals.
Mayhap if my family had had you as a master, our lives would have been so very different.
He stood stunned holding his cheek, as Lancelot was, even as she began to push them all from the room; save Dag and Tristan -
Dagonet, take care of Vanora and Bors for me? They would be lost without you, brother - as would their brood.
She leant forward and again kissed his cheek; then showed him the tablet, shushing him with a finger to her lips -
Take care of Tristan - for he is all that I have left of my heart.
The tall knight nodded, tears swimming in his battle weary eyes “You might yet return.”
Aye, I might.
I would like to speak to Tristan.
As he turned to leave, she touched his arm -
Dagonet - I think you are the kindest and most honourable man I have ever known, and I am proud to call you brother in all but blood to me.
The knight nodded and walked out, not trusting himself to speak.
She turned to Tristan………to see his eyes blazing with fury.
think you are going alone.” He growled at her.
She put a finger to his lips, and then wrote -
I am - it is my wrong to right.
I told you that once.
I realise now who the bastard downstairs has come for.
I must away if I am to stop him escaping and hurting others.
“Then we will come….”
I want no more deaths on my conscience Tristan!
Especially not yours; that I could not live with!
“It is my choice, my death.”
Not this time.
I cannot lose you - I cannot.
“You would not…..”
He would have you all put to death as soon as you returned.
She leant towards him; her lips touched his, so softly he wondered if he was dreaming it.
Then with a growl deep in his throat he pulled her to him, deepening the kiss until they were both breathless.
“I love you Jules; I have never loved a woman before, never wished to. But I love you.”
She looked into his eyes and he knew she felt the same; he rested his forehead against hers “Then why are you doing this?” he groaned.
She looked down, and then he felt the tablet pressed into his hand, he looked:
It is because I love you….that I must.
“Nay.” it was softly said, but had his heart in that one word and it broke hers.
She kissed him deeply again.
“Why do I not scare you? I thought you would never feel safe in this way with any man.”
You are not just any man.
You are my life.
And with that she hit him with the butt of her dagger, still held in her hand, knocking him out cold. She kissed him once more, wrote ‘forgive me’ on her spare tablet, and then strode out picking up the rest of her weapons on the way.
It was time………