Chapter 9 - A New Start
She woke the next morning and felt the familiar panic rise; but this time it did not last as she caught his scent, that musky woodland scent that buried itself into his clothes and skin, and knew immediately Tristan was with her and no one else.
The events of last night came flooding back; it had felt good, she had to admit it - it had felt good to fight her own corner for once.
She tried to move; he was instantly awake, a smile ghosted his lips “No struggling today?”
She shook her head and sniffed him suggestively. He raised his brows “If you think I need bath…..”
She smiled again and took her trusty tablet -
Nay, I meant only that I could smell you; you smell of trees and grass. I knew quickly it was you; you smell nice.
“I do not think so; we had been on patrol for days and I did not bathe on our return” he smiled; then it faded as he inspected her face “You are looking better. Feeling?”
I want to start training again.
She smiled slowly, a small light in her face -
It felt good, to protect myself for a change.
It has been a long time.
“Why the sudden change of heart?”
I had the loveliest dream.
I dreamt I was safe with -
“What? The dream, what was it?”
She blushed bright red -
It is my secret.
“What was it about; who did you feel safe with?”
She looked him straight in the eye, before writing -
I will tell you one day.
It was in that moment, he wondered how asleep she had actually been last night.
She bathed and put on clean clothes. Vanora was wonderful and brought her some clean shirts and plenty of breeches; but ones that fitted this time.
The other woman had helped her undress and did her level best not to look shocked at the scars and healing wounds she saw. It was the bite marks that shocked her the most.
Eventually her curiosity got the better of her. “Were they all from this attack?” she asked, as they sat in the room Jules shared with Tristan after she had dressed.
Jules shook her head.
“How long were you tortured by your owner, then? It must have been a lot of weeks looking at those scars.”
Since the beginning; since I arrived at his house.
“I am so sorry, Jules.”
You did not do it.
genuinely confused and patted the other woman’s arm -
You are lovely, Vanora -
She smiled at her new friend.
Knowing how hard it was for her, Vanora was touched by the simple gesture.
“Well my Bors would not always agree!”
They laughed together; Vanora was surprised that Jules could not even laugh. She decided to change the subject, no point raking over old coals.
“Who is your favourite out of all the knights, including my Bors?” she asked with a grin.
Without hesitation Jules ran her hand from the top of her face to the bottom; changing it into as mask like as possible as she slid her hand down her face.
“Tristan!” Cried Vanora, laughing.
Jules pointed at her nodding, laughing with her.
“You like him a lot, do you not?”
Jules nodded emphatically. She tapped her chest with her fist.
“Aye, I see – he is in your heart. You trust him too, I’ll wager?”
Another nod, tapping her chest again.
“He is a good man; he is a quiet one though. But you are not exactly chatty are you?!” She laughed.
Grinning Jules shook her head, opening and closing her mouth until they were almost crying with laughter.
“That was fun! Let us see another knight, let me see if I can guess again….”
Jules stomped across the room pretending to shout…
“My Bors! Another!”
Jules thought for a moment; before scowling darkly and prowled up to Vanora before pretending to sweep her off her feet…..
“Lancelot!!! It has to be Lancelot! He is such a flirt!” Van laughed; Jules grinned nodding.
There was a gasp of indignation from outside; but they did not hear it. The knights had come to see if all was well and had stayed; hovering by the door - but they had not seen Jules properly, they would be surprised.
By now all the brats had come into see what their mother was laughing at so heartily.
“Do another; I am good at this!”
Jules sighed deeply; then, with a look of deep angst, she fell to her knees in front of Van putting her arm to her forehead covering her eyes as if in deep sorrow. Van thought for a minute, whilst Jules then looked at her expectantly.
“Hey! I am….”
Gawain clapped a hand over his brother’s mouth “shut up!” he hissed “I want to see how she does me!”
He did nott have long to wait “again, again!” cried the children, now as enthralled as their mother.
It hurt to move her head too much, Tristan could see, but she was having fun and ignored it as she walked around rolling her eyes and flipping her hair out of her face and then pretending to curse it.
“GAWAIN!” Roared the children together; she pointed at them clapping and nodding.
“I do not flip my bloody hair!” He exclaimed, until Bors punched his head with a “hush!”
“Another; do another Jules!”
She thought and then just stood silently. This puzzled them all, until No. 3 went up and tugged her shirt – She swept the little boy up into a big hug, a huge smile on her face; her face registering no pain this simple act must have caused her.
“Dagonet!” Called out No.8 “He is always good to us kids!” The knight outside the door grinned.
“Do another Jules; I am falling behind my children!” Laughed Van.
Jules shrugged there was only one other she could do.
She adopted a stern face, but there was merriment in her eyes and she walked regally across the room with a dishcloth across her shoulders as if a cape.
“Oh well, that has to be Arthur!” Laughed Van. “But you see him as a king?!”
Jules nodded. Finally picking up her tablet she wrote -
He is a good leader.
He would be a good king.
Most of all? He is a good man.
Vanora read it out, having spied the knights and knowing how worried Arthur was about Jules’ feelings toward him. She saw him grin.
Just then Galahad who had been leaning the most to see into the room, fell over grabbing Gawain as he went. They both fell into the doorway.
Jules spun round to them……..both gasped at the change in her.
Her matted hair was now clean and shiny; she wore clothes that fitted her and they realised she actually had a figure albeit a thin one due to her previous treatment.
The bruises and wounds were still there, but fading; and her eyes still had a haunted look, but they were brighter. Tristan saw the smile reach them as she looked at him and he felt warmth spread round his heart.
She snatched her tablet up -
Were you spying on us?!
Van read it out for her; Galahad tried to pick himself up nonchalantly “Nay! Nay, we were not……we…..we were just passing.”
Gawain looked at him in disbelief “she is mute, not stupid Galahad!”
The other knights tumbled into the room. Tristan still stood at the door, she pushed past the others and went to him; he was expecting her to pat his arm as she always did – but instead she hugged him tight and then went round the room patting each of the other knights on the arm.
She stopped at Lancelot, looked deeply into his eyes and……grinned.
He could not help but grin back “What is all this about?” he asked, reading out what she wrote -
I feel happy.
For the first time in a time longer than my memory, I feel happy.
You all helped me and - well - last night felt good.
Fighting for myself, it felt very good.
He knew she was trying to make him feel better, all of them. He watched her pat down the wax -
Do not be sad for me anymore - please.
None of you.
I will be well now.
I will fight.
I want to train again.
swords. I used to.
“After what I saw last night you do not need much training, but meet me down on the field.” He smiled as he added "it is nowhere near the tavern."
I am not that brave - yet.
“You should be; you fought excellently last night.” chuckled Gawain.
They all filed out, Bors smiling at Van ”I do not strut around like that!”
“Oh yes you bloody do!”
Arthur hovered by the door “All forgiven?”
Naught to forgive.
You are a good man Arthur; I offer my heartfull apologies.
For judging you on what you stood for - not you as yourself.
She hesitantly moved toward him and quickly patted his arm, before darting back. She sighed with relief; they smiled at each other. It was a start.
This whole day was a new start.
would be leaving and seeking him –
she would ensure that he never hurt another.
Then she could live her life………..or die peacefully. She had made her peace with either outcome now.