“Are you quite certain, Lady Kennedy, that you don’t want my seat?” Wesley asked as Kennedy settled back onto the desk.
“Yes. Right now if I sat on anything soft I’d probably fall asleep. I haven’t done this kind of hours in a while. I’m out of practice.” Kennedy said, shaking her head. Gray scoffed softly which caused Wesley to glare at him. Gray looked significantly at the king, who did look tired. Kennedy found her right arm up, middle finger extended before her tired head even caught up with the fact that she’d moved.
The lords looked at each other and then at Kennedy, their faces all puzzled. “It’s an inappropriate gesture.” Kennedy explained, rubbing at her temple. “Just slightly more kosher than telling Lord Gray to go commit an unnatural act with Sir Wesley’s horse, which also came to mind.”
“That’s disgusting!” Gray said, his lips turning down.
“Whatever small amount of tact I possess checked out sometime yesterday.” Kennedy said. “Just because King Lachlan looks more tired than I do doesn’t meant that I’m not tired too. And if you’re just going to belittle what I have to say, my lord, why don’t you take the opportunity to go get to know Sir Wesley’s horse or one of those damned sheep better and leave me alone.” The last came out as a snarl, despite her efforts, which, admittedly, were half-assed to begin with. Gray grumbled something under his breath which netted him dirty looks from both Wesley and Dolph.
Given that she would have expected to see flying pigs before she thought Wesley would come to her defense, it apparently was pretty bad.
“Gray, Lady Kennedy, please.” Lock said, echoing her hand across the temple. “This isn’t getting us anywhere.”
“How is Master Jarrett?” Dolph asked. Lock looked over his shoulder at Kennedy.
“Critical but stable.” Kennedy shrugged. “He’s not getting worse, it remains to see how much better he’ll get, and how fast, but he’s weathered the first storm.”
“That poor man.” Camden murmured.
“He can’t keep up the pace he’s been going at. This fall and into winter, I’ve treated him for more minor and semi-major injuries than the rest of you put together.” Kennedy said.
“I know.” Lock shook his head, his bright ponytail, catching the light. “It’s one of the things I’ve been concerned about.”
“Well, what about you, couldn’t you and the other ladies help him?” Gray asked.
“I don’t know shit about raising animals. Nor, from what I know of my roomies, do any of them. Yeah, we probably could go help with milking and feeding, like Tiff, Jolene and Peyton did this morning.” Right after Tiff threatened to tie me to the bed if I didn’t get some rest. Kennedy thought wryly.
“Is that all?” Gray asked.
“Yeah. My lord, the closest most of us have been to a cow is, as a comedian once said, when we’ve stopped to take a piss at a restaurant… Or a petting zoo. Although my petting zoo didn’t have cows.” She frowned for a second before pulling herself back onto the topic.
“How long, Lady Kennedy, do you think Master Jarrett will be–?” Dolph paused obviously struggling with the words.
“On bed rest?” Kennedy offered. “Weeks, if I can at all help it.”
“Weeks? Sure not!” Gray protested. “Most peasant men were up and around within days.”
“Most of the men who sustained injuries of the type Jarrett has probably died on the table, or in the next couple of days, Lord Gray.” Kennedy’s brows drew in and she stared at him as if daring him to disagree.
“I agree with Lady Kennedy, Gray. I’m still not sure how Jarrett ended up pulling through this and I am not willing to risk his life by shoving him out of bed.” Lock interjected.
“Master Jarrett is a very stubborn man though.” Dolph said. “I can’t imagine he’ll agree to extended bedrest.”
“He doesn’t have to agree to it. I’m ordering it.” Lock said. “And I intend to supervise it.” Four pairs of eyes shot to the King, two pairs of gray, a pair of green and a pair of brown all reflecting the same shock.
“Surely you’re not intending to–to move to that–that barn to supervise this–bed rest.” Gray said recovering first.
“No, as Tate will be staying with Sawyer for the duration, I’m installing Master Jarrett in Tate’s room where I can keep an eye on him.”
“Your Majesty!” Gray couldn’t have been any more shocked if the King had racked him in the nuts. “This is unheard of. Who will see to your household?”
“I can conjure a servantus, Gray, to tend to the general chores, and I can get my own door. I’m far from helpless. Sawyer will need the assistance far more than I need a servant.” Lock said mildly.
“And to install a peasant in your household like a noble guest, Your Majesty, this–this never would have happened under King Phillip!” Gray protested.
“I am not my uncle, Gray!” Lock’s shoulders under his doublet were tight, a faint sparkle of magic seemed to congregate around his hands which were balled into fists. “Uncle Phillip never would have put a peasant farmer in his guest room, no, but he ruled a kingdom of hundreds. He couldn’t know every man under his rule. I rule a kingdom of less than twenty! I do! I know them and I admire them, and I want to do the best I can by them! To the hells with propriety, with what my uncle would have done. I am through burying my people for stupid reasons. There is not one good reason why Master Jarrett cannot stay here and a great many good reasons why he should.” Lock took a deep breath and unclenched his hands, shaking them slowly.
“This is not up for discussion, Gray. Tate should have Jarrett settled or nearly by now. And he is staying until Lady Kennedy believes that he is fit for work once more, she is the expert here, not you.” As if that were a cue, Tate appeared in the doorway.
“How is Master Jarrett?” Lock asked of the teenager, who shifted nervously as the gazes of Shadowcrest’s nobility fell on him.
“He seems–disoriented, my–Your Majesty. But he seemed content enough to drink the potions you had me fetch from Master Emanuel and to rest.” Tate said.
“Excellent, thank you, Tate.” Lock said.
“If you don’t mind, Your Majesty, I’d like to give him a once over before the medicines all kick in.” Kennedy said, sliding off the desk.
“Certainly.”Lock said. “Thank you, Lady Kennedy.”
“I told you my first day here. I don’t do half-ass when it comes to my patients, your Majesty.” Kennedy reminded him.
“Tate, please show Lady Kennedy to your room.” Tate bobbed his head and slipped out of the room silent as a mouse.
One of these days, when it was a little less raw, Kennedy’d have to ask Lock why he thought she needed an escort. The house was not that big to begin with and laid out in a straight forward manner. He could have just told her that it was the room above the parlor and the stairs were in the kitchen. She pushed the door that was slightly ajar open and slipped inside.
Jarrett lay on the bed, his gaze slightly unfocused, hands folded on his stomach.
“Lady Kennedy.” His voice was always soft, but he spoke even softer now as if his chest hurt–actually having seen some of the bruising to his abdomen, it probably did.
“Jarrett.” Kennedy said. “How do you feel.”
“I–I’ve felt better.” You were damn near trampled to death yesterday morning and have spent the past day and a half randomly being operated on, no-fucking-duh, you’ve felt better.
“My lady, where am I?” He looked around the room, puzzled.
“Tate’s room, in the King’s cottage.” He blinked, obviously startled.
“What am I doing here?” He asked, rubbing at one of the new scars that Kennedy and Lock couldn’t prevent.
“Bed rest. I want you off your feet and the King has graciously agreed to keep you there.” Kennedy said blandly.
“This isn’t necessary, my lady, I’m sure I’ll heal just as well in my own bed.” He swung his feet down off of the bed as if to stand up and Kennedy leveled a stare at him. The butcher gulped, his feet hovering off the floor.
“And this is exactly why you’re staying here until I say you can go. You won’t listen to Sawyer, that’s obvious, I have enough to do, I can’t keep an eye on you all the time, besides there’s too much estrogen at my house, you’d go nuts–and there’s no place for privacy really. But I figure if Lock tells you to stay in bed, you’ve kinda got to do it. And I want you in bed, asleep as much as possible and resting even when you’re not asleep.”
“My lady,” He protested.
“No, Jarrett. Damn it! We came this close,” She held up a forefinger and thumb just barely apart. “To losing you yesterday, and all through the night. Sawyer thinks this is all his fault. Lock and I exhausted ourselves keeping you off Death’s doorstep. Tiff had to threaten to tie me to my bed, and let me tell you I’m not into that, because I didn’t want to leave you. I was afraid if I did, you’d die. The least you can do is not make all of our work in vain.”
“I–I am sorry, Lady Kennedy.” The Butcher stared at his hands.
“Jarrett, I’m not saying this well. I’m tired, you’re drugged, it’s been a long fucking couple of days. Just stay in the goddamn bed, you cranky old coot, and we’ll argue this later–like sometime in a couple three weeks.”
“Weeks?” Jarrett yelped.
“Do not start that. I already had that argument today. Yes, weeks. If it makes you feel better, I full intend to drug you senseless for the next three weeks, so you really won’t notice it.” Kennedy said. “Now sleep.” She leveled a finger at the older man and waited until he’d slipped under the coverlet, curling up onto one side.Kennedy stood for a moment, watching his bright hair on the pillow.
“Sleep well, Jarrett, we’re glad to have you back.” She whispered.
Sawyer hadn’t expected to see the king certainly not with-in the week of the accident. After what he’d heard from Tate, the king had flat exhausted himself with helping Lady Kennedy with Jarrett. Nobody understood. Nobody.
Everyone said it wasn’t his fault, but it was, at least–sort of. It was his job to take care of Jarrett. Self-appointed maybe, but his job. And he’d failed at it. Jarrett got hurt and other people, who shouldn’t have had to, had paid the price for Sawyer’s failure.
And that the king didn’t even seem reproachful when he arrived on the doorstep just puzzled Sawyer all the more. As did the King’s companion when he arrived. A pale woman with strawberry gold hair that the King introduced as Lady Nessa.
She hadn’t said much, her green eyes had spent more time skipping around the cobbled streets and the trees and the hills than they had on anyone human. She had a soft drawling voice that held something that reminded him of Jarrett–almost to the point of tears.
Lady Nessa, the king explained, was here to help Sawyer and Tate with the animals until Jarrett was back on his feet. She was a veterinarian, whatever that meant. Something to do with animals?
The king didn’t stay long, not really, but Sawyer didn’t blame him. He looked exhausted, and Sawyer was too busy feeling guilty about it to be any sort of company.
After he and Tate manhandled a bed into the barn for Lady Nessa, he realized that the woman had disappeared. Well not disappeared, she was sitting on the hillside outside the barn, looking at Lake Haven.
“My lady?” He said. She jumped, shying away and stared at him over her shoulder like she expected him to take up a stick and take a swing at her.
“Yes?” She asked, her shoulders hunched in, arms wrapping tighter around her knees.
“Just–um–I hope you’ll be comfortable there, we could put you up in the loft, you know”
“Thanks all the same, but I don’t think I’d be–any more comfortable trying to sleep where you are.” She shrugged. Sawyer sat down on the grass, shrugging his own shoulders under his new tunic. As there was no way to get the blood out of the old one, Fox had made this one for him. It–fit too well. Tailored specifically for him, he wasn’t at all used to it.
Lady Nessa stared at her hands but turned to face him. “S-so, this Jarrett, he’s your…?” She asked hesitantly.
“Just my friend. We–take care of each other.” Jarrett’s just better at it than me. Lady Nessa nodded as if she understood. Who knew, maybe she did.
“So, what’s a–veterinarian?” Sawyer asked before she could ask anything else, he got the impression that if he started crying, she’d start crying and they’d both be off to a wonderful start.
“A-a doctor for animals.” She said after a moment.
“Like–like Lady Kennedy?”
“Except for sheep and horses and cows and dogs.” She nodded.
“Have you met Lady Kennedy?” Sawyer asked when it was apparent she wasn’t going to say anything more.
“Yes, I met her right after she told one of the lords he might want to accompany us here.” A smile poked up at the corner of Lady Nessa’s lips, somehow making the scarring on her cheek more prominent.
“Um–well, because he,” Her eyes rolled upward and she bit her bottom lip. “Had a few frustrations he might want to relieve on a–pig. I believe is what she said.”
“She was telling him to go fuck a pig, Sawyer.”
Sawyer stifled a snort of laughter with his hand. “Who’d she say that to?”
“Lord Gray. After meeting him, I have to say I think it sounds like a wonderful idea, except for–well–the poor pig.” Sawyer couldn’t stop the laughter that bubbled up, maybe it was early days, but he thought he’d probably like Lady Nessa.