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It's About Family.... pt 7
an Hourglass story
Kris was aware of Adi and Andrew running alongside her, but they turned when they got inside. They were unreasonably headed toward their own rooms. Kris knew better, she could 'feel' it, Jonathan was not taking Morgan back to the nursery. Unhooking her bow from its harness as she ran, Kris went to Jonathan's room. Finding the door open she loaded her bow and walked in. Jonathan was hovering over the child laying on his bed one hand holding the squirming child down, the other holding a dagger. Morgan was yelling his lungs out and Rebecca was crumpled against the far wall, a gash in her head oozed blood as the color slowly drained from her face.
“Shut up, you little bastard.” Jonathan brandished the dagger above the baby. It was a deadly looking thing with a wide groove down the middle. It was a knife forged for a single purpose, spilling blood.
“Stop.” Kris pulled the bow back and held the arrow steady, “Don't move.”
Jonathan froze and oddly enough, Morgan too calmed down. Jonathan knew how good a shot Kris was and from the outlaw attack he knew that she was capable of taking a human life, “Without the brat, Andrew won't have to marry the harlot.”
Kris' hand never wavered. Inside her head though, there was a war waging. She couldn't help wondering. Is this supposed to happen? Is Jonathan supposed to kill Morgan? What happened originally? What if I negate my own existence? What if I'm supposed to be here to stop it? I saved him from the snake, but what if I'm not supposed to save him this time? So many what if's... She ignored the pounding in her head and kept her bow drawn. She heard Emma's voice in the corridor and yelled over her shoulder, “In here!” She heard more shouts and wasn't surprised when Emma, Constance, Adi and Andrew all entered the room.
“Jonathan, what are you doing?!” Andrew used his most commanding voice, “Answer me!”
“You're under their spell,” Jonathan glanced at the women and maintained his accusations, “They've taken your mind. Witches, all of them. Did you not hear the blonde one speak the 'Priestess'' own language? Can you not see how unnatural they are?” He pointed the knife at Kris and Emma then moved it quickly back over the child, “You know they are together!” He jerked his head toward Adi, “She is their leader, and they are trying to bring Rebecca into their coven.” He grimaced at the memory of finding the women in the woods, “There is no telling what disgusting things they had done together, before we found them.”
Adi frowned, “What are you talking about?”
Jonathan ignored her, continuing his rant, “Without this child to hang over his head, you will have no control over Lord Bingham. I have not looked into its eyes, it has no power over me!” Jonathan sneered at Adi, “You and your ilk won't worm your way into this house!”
Kris understood, she had since the dance and the Lady Constance's explanation of why Jonathan wasn't there, “You don't want Morgan here, you don't want Andrew to marry Adi.”
“He is the key!” Jonathan's knuckles whitened around the knife handle as he spoke to Andrew, “Without this...thing, your bewitchment will be ended. They won't be able to control you anymore.”
“Jonathan, you are acting crazy.” Andrew's main concern was the baby, “You are about to kill my child, my son.” There was no compromise in Lord Bingham's voice, “You will die for that, I promise you.”
“Jonathan,” Constance's high pitched plea cut through the room, “He means it, he will kill you.”
The deranged man ignored her and continued speaking to Andrew, “They are witches.” Jonathan was desperate now to convince Andrew of what was happening to him, of the spell he was under. Andrew had to realize he was bewitched or Jonathan knew all his plans would fall apart, “I will show you. When the boy is gone, you'll see. You are under their spell.”
“Killing the child won't help, Jonathan,” Constance never seemed too aware of what was going on around her, past the social aspect, but she was not a stupid person. “Killing him will just mean your death as well.” She watched him, watched his head jerking with the internal struggle he was fighting. “It's over,” Constance sighed at her own foolishness, “I will never marry you. You will never be able to lay claim to the Bingham title or fortune.”
Kris was impressed. She didn't think Constance would actually come to that conclusion on her own. What surprised her was Andrew's reaction.
Adi quickly put two and two together, “This isn't about us being witches at all,” She tensed and readied herself to attack, “He wants you dead, Andrew...”
“Dead?” The Lord was still confused, Jonathan was his friend, his brother...
“She's lying!” Jonathan's eyes were crazed but also filled with anger, “See how she tries to turn us against each other?”
“He wants you dead, so that he can 'worm is way into this house'.” Emma spoke quietly. “He hired the men to attack the hunting party.” She thought of something else too, “You haven't been sick lately have you?”
Andrew's eyes widened. Two days after he had refused to allow Jonathan to marry Constance he had been stricken with horrible stomach pains. “Poison?”
Emma nodded, “Hemlock probably... he certainly knew what it looks like, sort of.” Emma thought Andrew was very lucky Jonathan didn't know what he was doing or the man would be dead now.
“He did it all for the money.” Constance willed herself not to cry. As of late she had come to understand that Jonathan was not the right man for her, but there had been a time when she truly cared for him and had thought those feelings were returned. Now she knew the truth and nearly choked on the words, “It was all for the money.”
“Not just the money...” Jonathan saw the Lady's eyes soften and thought he might actually be able to salvage this situation. “I'm doing this for us, for you, your brother is being manipulated. This demon child must die.” He spoke to Constance in his most persuasive tone. “Make her drop the bow. I'll release Andrew from his bewitchment, but she will kill me if I try.” He smiled at the large woman, “Please, Constance, make her put down the weapon and we can be together.” He saw her weakening and continued in his smoothest voice, “Help me and I will love you like no other...”
The Lady looked at Kris and took a step toward her. She found her path blocked by Emma.
“I don't think you need to get any closer.” The fighter held out her hands to stop Constance from getting even one step closer to Kris. She asked gently, “Are you really going to help him murder a child, your nephew?” The baby was screaming his head off and no one in the room could deny that the child was terrified.
“Don't listen to her!” Jonathan's desperation seeped into his tone, “She'll bewitch you as well. Ignore her words, just help me stop them... knock them down!”
“What??” Constance shook herself out of what was almost a trance she'd been in since listening to Jonathan's words. Knock them down? She couldn't believe he would even suggest such a thing. They were fighters and she had never harmed anyone in her life.
“You can do it,” The man urged, his arm was beginning to shake from holding the knife up for so long. “Look at her, she's a stick, you are easily three of her. Just barrel into her and you can take them both off their feet.” He was so agitated he spoke his following thought aloud, “Use that ponderous bulk of yours for something useful, for a change.”
Constance's eyes narrowed, “What did you say?”
“I said, take them off their feet!”
“With my 'ponderous bulk'?!” Constance's shrill voice cut through Morgan's crying, “I thought you didn't care about my size, I thought you loved me no matter what...” She thought back to the previous conversation and her eyes hardened, “You said it wasn't just for the money.”
“No, not just for the money...” He looked at Kris who was still calmly aiming her weapon at him and he looked at Andrew, whose face was a mask of rage. In a moment of crystal clarity, Jonathan knew he wasn't getting out of this alive. Everything he'd done, everything he'd worked for, gone, “...for the title, the money, the status... everything, all of it...” He laughed at Constance, “You thought I loved you?” He snorted, “I was disgusted every time I touched you.”
He added one more thing to the list of things he had to repay Kris and Emma for; they had ruined everything. He sneered at Constance's stricken expression. Angry at his plans being ruined, knowing he would most likely not get out of this situation alive, he struck out at the woman. “If we were married, when Andrew dies it would be all ours, your death would have been easy... a few drops of poison in the morning sweets you incessantly shovel into your mouth would do it. Then my status would be restored. You think I would really want a cow like you without any kind of recompense? You actually think I could bring myself to touch you without the promise of the wealth you stand for?”
Constance whimpered, as strong as she was, his words hurt. She collapsed to the floor, weeping.
Now Kris shifted her aim, alternating between placing the arrow through the man's temple and knocking the knife from his hand. She didn't want to kill him, that was an added complication she just didn't need. The question of whether to save Morgan was hard enough without adding another death to the mix. She held the compound bow drawn, the pulleys taking the tension from the string, allowing her to wait as long as necessary for a shot. A shot she wasn't sure she should take. She wished there was some way to distract the man, just for a moment. Kris knew she could hit the knife from his hand, but she couldn't be sure the deadly sharp implement wouldn't fall and hit the baby or if she should even attempt that to begin with.
Unexpectedly, it was Morgan who provided the distraction. He stopped crying and in the deafening silence that followed, he hurled his polished silver rattle at the man above him, hitting him, hard, in the eye.
“Argh!” Jonathan was surprised by the attack from that angle and flung the knife up into the air as he covered his injured eye. Then Adi moved, startling everyone with her speed and loud yell as she linked her arm under Jonathan's using her own body to lever him head over heels to the ground.
Kris, on the other hand, kept her attention on the knife. Her eyes never wavered as she watched the weapon arc up, then as if in slow motion, begin heading downward, toward the baby. One shot, she would only get one shot and before she could really think about it, Kris sent the arrow flying through the gap down the middle of the knife, pinning it to the opposite wall, away from the baby.
“Doc,” Emma moved up to wrap her arms around her tense friend's shoulder, “you okay?” Emma looked deeply into Kris' blue eyes trying to determine if this was still 'her' Kris, still the Kris she loved... still the Kris who loved her. What she saw in Kris' vivid blue eyes made her breathe a sigh of relief.
Kris nodded, “I think so,” She rolled her head, popping the joints in her spine and releasing the tension there. She glanced at Constance then focused on the unconscious nanny, “Is she alright?” They both moved to check the woman's injuries, leaving Constance to her heartbreak, for a moment.
Lord Bingham took in the entire scene, his child's near death, his sister's hurt and the man's calculating plan to regain his status. Andrew was too angry to speak, instead he hauled Jonathan up from the floor by his collar.
Adi left the deluded man to Andrew and moved to scoop Morgan up off the bed. He was a happy gurgling baby now, resting his head on his mother's shoulder, not a mark on him. “Andrew,” Adi watched her future husband turn to her, “Don't kill him.”
Kris and Emma looked up from where they were crouching next to the servant, not surprised by Andrew's incredulous response.
“Are you sure?”
Shaking her head, Adi cradled the baby against her, “Morgan isn't hurt,” she gazed at Andrew, “You aren't like him... you aren't a killer, you aren't a murderer.”
Andrew looked confused; for a moment the urge to shake the life out of the man warred with his fiancee's request. Her words finally penetrated the cloud of anger in his mind. She was correct, he was not a murderer. Tightening he grip on Jonathan, Andrew headed for the door.
Adi continued to cradle Morgan, but moved closer to Constance, until she heard the phrase, 'not breathing' from Emma. Adi was shocked, “Jonathan killed her?”
That cut through Constance's self-absorbed pain, “What?” The Lady focused on the women's activity next to the wall, her eyes widening. She had never been in the same room with a real dead body, only ones properly prepared for burial. The woman's lips were light blue against the pale skin of her face. “Oh...” She covered her face with her gloved fingers, “How horrible!”
Kris and Emma shifted the woman, laying her flat on her back so that they could kneel on either side of her. Kris checked for breathing and pulse then lifted the woman's neck slightly to open the trachea as she spoke quietly to her friend, “Start compressions.”
Nodding, Emma found the proper place on the prone woman's chest and, linking her fingers together palm out, began to press as she counted. “One, two, three...” When she got to fifteen, she paused for Kris to breathe into the woman's mouth, the servant's chest clearly rising then falling as Kris took broke their contact. Emma started the compressions again, counting softly to herself as Kris watched, also counting, ready to breathe again at the proper time.
Lord Bingham hauled his former friend through the corridors, his face growing darker with every rage-filled step. Thoughts of what this so-called man had done, was willing to do, for wealth and status shook Andrew to his core. He literally threw Jonathan out the door and looked down at the pathetic excuse for a man sprawled on the steps. “You have betrayed the memory of your sister, betrayed me and Constance, and you have done it for nothing but some money and status.” Andrew clenched his teeth together, willing a tear not to fall from his eye at the hole that betrayal made in his heart. This man had been like a brother to him, “You would have killed my son, would have killed me and my sister. “Just so that you could have our possessions... our status...” He stood his full height and shook his head, “You have gone insane.” He couldn't help taking the dig, “Just like your father.” Lord Bingham took a deep breath, “You are outlawed...”
Andrew spoke as though Jonathan hadn't made a sound, “...leave, now and you can keep your pathetic life, but all else you hold dear is gone. All my people will be informed within the hour, get out, off my land, out of the country...”
“They are witches, especially the one who controls you...” Jonathan spat on the ground next to him for even thinking the woman's name.
“No one controls me Jonathan. I control myself, which is more than I can say for you. Adi is the only reason you are still alive.” Andrew took a deep breath and calmed himself somewhat, “She is the one who asked for lenience,” He looked directly at the outlawed man, “I would have killed you where you stood.” Andrew didn't wait for Jonathan's response, merely turning and shutting the door between them.
Jonathan stared at the door, unable to believe what had just happened. Outlawed... his heart pounded in his chest. He was nothing now, worse than nothing, because he didn't even have the possibility of gaining anything back. Clenching his jaw at the thought, he vowed to get his revenge on the ones who had caused this turn of events. It was all their fault, his perfectly laid plans had fallen apart when they arrived. Two deaths he could have managed, but trying to get rid of Andrew, Adi, the baby and Constance would have been too much, too suspicious. He knew he would never be able to touch Andrew's family now, but the other two, he would get them. One day, he would find a way to make them pay.
After a minute of Emma doing compressions, they switched so Kris began the rhythmic pressure. Both women were concerned that it was taking too long to revive the servant but they continued, knowing they only had a few more minutes before too much permanent damage would be done to the woman's brain.
Constance pulled herself together and watched as the women fussed over Rebecca's body. She asked Adi quietly, “What are they doing?”
“I do not know.” The Amazon was transfixed, jiggling the baby on her hip absently, as she took in every single action the women were making. Including the small movement of Kris' lips, chanting, something.
“C'mon... c'mon....” Kris urged the woman's heart to start beating on its own. “C'mon...”
Emma filled the servant's lungs with air and watched her chest fall before filling it again. She pressed her fingers against the woman's wrist as Kris resumed the compressions.
Andrew reentered the room just as the nursemaid on the floor gasped and coughed. She was supported by Kris and Emma as she struggled to rise.
The woman looked dazed, “What happened?”
“Easy...You gave us quite a scare.” Kris guided the woman to a chair and began to check the head wound.
Cupping the Rebecca's cheek in her palm, Emma forced the injured woman's eyes to meet hers, “What is your name?” She smiled when the girl responded correctly.
Kris released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding, “Do you remember what happened, Rebecca?”
“I...” She flinched away from Kris' touch but gasped as she did, remember. “The baby!” Rebecca looked around frantically, relaxing when she saw Morgan in his mother's arms.
“Morgan's fine,” Adi walked closer and assured the nanny. “You need to take care of your wounds.”
Andrew moved forward, “I will escort her to the healer.” He looked down at the seated woman, “Can you walk?”
“Oh, yes...” Rebecca stood, barely hearing Kris and Emma's protests before dizziness took her back down to her seat. She admitted sheepishly, “Possibly not.”
Nodding, Andrew leaned over to kiss Adi on the cheek, then reached down and scooped Rebecca into his arms. “I will return shortly.”
Adi and the others watched him carry the young woman out of the room, then the Amazon turned to her traveling companions. There was a tinge of awe in her voice, “You brought her back from the dead.” She was aware of Constance, still on the floor, but also looking at the pair and nodding.
“No.” Kris held up her hand, shaking her finger from side to side, “We most certainly did not. No one can do that. Rebecca was not dead... she had stopped breathing... we only breathed for her, for a short time until she could do it herself again. She was not dead...”
“She would have died though... How did you know, how to do that?” Constance was amazed, and a little embarrassed, she had collapsed in a heap on the floor and these two had just taken charge, saved Morgan's life, saved Rebecca's life...
“My mother taught me,” Emma smiled and moved to assist Constance to her feet. “Let's get you into a chair, huh?”
Kris agreed and moved to the Lady's other side, “Yeah, you shouldn't be on the floor.” She smiled at the woman as they helped her to the seat. “And my father taught me how to breathe for others, in an emergency such as this.” Kneeling next to the Lady, Kris held her hand rubbing it soothingly, “How are you feeling?”
“I believed him.” Constance watched, but didn't react to, Kris' hand on hers. “He told me everything I wanted to hear, and I believed him.” She looked into Kris' kind blue eyes and blinked, “You aren't evil, he was.” Constance still couldn't really believe that the man she had let... touch her, had been capable of such madness. She knew in her heart that Jonathan would have killed Morgan, a baby, an innocent child. She could almost understand the threats to Andrew and herself, she knew the pressure that comes with wealth and status, but a child? No, she stood by her evaluation of her former lover, “He was as evil as a man can be.”
“They aren't all bad...” Emma chuckled as she rubbed the Lady's back, “I've never met a better man than your brother.”
Constance sniffed and nodded, “Yes, Andrew is an exceptional man.” Looking at Adi, remembering the way she threw Jonathan to the floor earlier, the Lady swallowed hard and admitted, “He requires an exceptional woman as his wife.” She pushed through with the admission, “I'm glad he found you, Adi.” Jonathan had only wanted the money, but for some reason, Constance trusted that Adi had no such ambitions. Perhaps it was the way she looked at the baby, or the way she looked at Andrew, but Constance knew, Adi would not do to Andrew what Jonathan had planned for her.
Adi smiled, a bit shyly at her future sister, “So, you'll help me find the perfect dress to get married in?”
“Of course I will!” That thought cheered Constance up immensely, “Of course!” She stood and swayed a bit, “This, however, has already been a long day and I believe I should retire to my rooms for the afternoon.”
“That,” Emma stood, “is a great idea.”
“I agree,” Kris straightened up, stretching her back in a slight arch. “A good rest will do us all some good, I think.”
Emma looked at Adi, “See you later.”
Adi watched as the women left and she was suddenly alone with Morgan in a very quiet room. She looked at the baby and chuckled, “You are a lucky little boy.” She kissed his cheek and mouthed the fist that found its way to her mouth. “Perhaps when your father gets back he can tell you a story and put you to sleep as well.” She grinned at the child, formulating her own plan for Andrew; after Morgan was soundly sleeping.
“Kris?” Emma was on her back, on the soft bed in their room. Kris was right beside her, except no part of them touched and it felt like a chasm miles wide was between them instead of the few inches it actually was.
“Yeah?” Kris didn't look toward her friend, “What?”
“That was a great shot... I don't remember if I told you, but it was.”
“How did you know you were okay, after the shot?” Emma had been reassured by the look in her friend's eyes, but thought Kris had said she was fine a little too quickly when she'd first been asked. “How did you know?”
“I didn't, I don't...” Turning her head, Kris looked at her best friend in the entire world, “We both know that there is no way for us to tell. Whatever changes we make, if we make any, won't be apparent to us... Even if you suddenly turn into a brunette with brown eyes, I'll just think that's normal for you, maybe you had dark hair and were three inches shorter before I took the shot to save Morgan, we won't ever know... but I'm still here, and you're still here, we're still together and that is really all I need, to be okay.”
Emma shifted and the distance between them evaporated, as she lay her blonde head on the archer's shoulder, “Kris?”
“I love you too.”
Emma watched as Kris prepared the sacred site for their next try at getting to the future. She ventured a comment on the events of the past few weeks. “It was a beautiful wedding.”
“Mmm...” Kris looked up at the lowering sun and the now visible moon. She pulled another stone from one of the many pockets on her jacket and made some slight adjustments to the stones she'd already positioned as she answered absently, “Yeah.”
The blonde tried again, “The celebration the Priestess led was interesting, too.”
“Uh huh...” Kris continued adjusting the magnetic rocks they'd collected, trying to place them as precisely as possible.
“Doc?” Emma walked over to her companion, forcibly stopping the woman from fussing over the stone placement any more by wrapping her arms around the taller woman's shoulders. “It's gonna be fine.”
“How can you...” Kris sighed and leaned into the embrace, snaking her own arms around her thin partner's waist. “How do you always know the right thing to say?”
Laughing at that, Emma looked slightly up into the eyes of her best friend and grinned, “It's a gift.” She looked into her partner's eyes, “Where did we meet?”
“We met,” Kris smirked, “In a bar, you picked me up and we...” The fake answer was stopped by Emma's hand over Kris' mouth.
“I'm serious,” It was a futile question. That particular event could have changed twenty times since they'd met Adi, and they'd never know, but Emma still needed to hear it. She removed her hand from Kris' mouth.
“The first time I saw you, I was completely amazed with you...” She ducked away from Emma's hand, “I'm serious, I'd grown up around the muscle bound military types, and there you were the skinniest, slip of a girl I'd ever seen...”
“Shhh...” The brunette smiled, “I wanted to get to know you better and hoped you wouldn't tell me to get lost when I tried to talk to you.”
“You're so full of it...” Emma laughed, “We were five!”
Kris grinned, “And your point is?” She chuckled and looked up at the moon again. “You ready?”
Echoing the chuckle, Emma kissed Kris' cheek and quipped, “Always ready, Babe.”
Forcing herself not to roll her eyes at that, Kris merely nodded and with a deep breath, whispered, “Okay then, here we go.”
A familiar feeling of vertigo swirled around them and within a few seconds they were on their way to their next destination.
Whenever that was.