“Did you consummate your relationship?”
“Did you make love to one another?”
“I know what it means!” Theodore hissed. “Hush, we may be overheard.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“In answer to your question, no we did not. What a thing to say!”
“I suppose enough time has passed now, we would have noticed.”
“You would have noticed.”
“Oh, um yes. W-well goodnight. I am sorry for asking you such a thing.” Bonnie kissed his brow and straightened the cushion beneath his head.
“How can you state such a thing and then….”
“It does not matter Bonnie.” Theodore stated, with a heavy heart.
“Forgive me, I crossed the line. I was only attempting to envisage a reason to why she might have come back.”
Bonnie tossed and turned, the rain battering her window pane of her palace room. It was so very cold, she crept from her bed, placing some more coal upon the fire and stoked it, placing on her own pair of bed socks. That was better, but something felt strange. Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of the castle. Yes, she thought, it must be that, but it was not.
Theodore adjusted his head on his pillows, listening to the howling wind. He sighed a little, placing a hand on his throbbing chest, willing the pain to go but it did not, the dull ache lingered. Theodore gritted his teeth, grasping the coverlet. A stabbing pain struck his chest as he let out a cry, he must get help, but how? He grasped the bed post once more, closing his eyes.
“Bonnie, please!” He begged in little more than a whisper. “I need you.”
Bonnie, where was Bonnie? He must reach her. He grasped the bedpost with his white- knuckled fists, trying to slide into a seating position, his head spun as he fell forwards, sinking down onto the carpet, his troubled mind filled with a deafening ringing and all fell silent.He startled as icy hand touched his, as he regained consciousness.
No answer, but there was someone there, he was sure of it. Theodore shivered, his pearly teeth chattering together.
“I-I can sense your presence. Please, I have to admit to being a little afraid as well as cold.”
The window sash creaked shut, stopping the draft from hitting Theodore’s left side and there came a roaring sound as if someone had placed some more coal upon the fire and it’s radiating warmth confirmed it. Somebody had.
“Thank you.” Theodore whispered. “Is it who I think it is? I really hope so. I must be dreaming this feels so strange, or perhaps I am going mad.”
“You are not dreaming or going mad your Grace.”
“It is you!”
“Now I am having conversations with the dead. My mind is playing tricks on me, or I have gone completely mad! Either way, thank you for your kindness.”
“Don’t worry, you are sane and I will stay with you until you are found.”
Theodore’s coverlet slipped from the bed, falling gently on top of him.
“It is a little skew-whiff, but it might look odd if it was on neatly. You will soon be warm.”
“I am still convinced that I have gone barking mad.”
“Perhaps it is a dream then, or maybe you have fainted, I’ll let you decide.”
Theodore shook his head. “I think I must have struck my head after all, either that or I am delirious.”
“Maybe you are.”
“What is death like?”
“Not half as bad as people say. I was very ill, like yourself, there was no hope for me, but Bonnie is a brilliant nurse, so patient and caring.”
“She is a gem.”
“Now that you are no longer cold, I must go but I will ensure that Bonnie finds you.”
“Thank you, God bless you.”
He felt the gentle hand upon his shoulder once more, as the kind, calming presence evaporated into the surrounding air.
There was a single loud knock on Bonnie’s door. She startled awake, pulling on her shawl and opened it but there was no-one there. Surly it wasn’t one of the servents, unless.. Theodore. She darted along to his room, carrying a candle. Bonnie pushed the door open, gasping upon seeing that he was not in bed. Theodore recognised her footsteps.
“At your feet.”
Bonnie crouched down, holding the candle to him, illuminating his exhausted face.
“My God! How long have you been here?”
“I do not know.”
She placed a hand to his cheek, which was starting to regain some temperature.
“You are not as cold as I thought you might be, thank goodness. Poor dear. Can you stand? No wait, I will fetch Mr Howard.”
“Please, no do not wake him.”
“Then, I will try to help you. Do you think you will be able to get up?”
“I do not want to hurt you by straining your back.”
“Shh now, we must get you warm again, but I do not think I can help you off the floor by myself.”
“You are right, not onto the bed anyway. There is a chair, we will aim for that. I fear that you do not have enough strength to get up. I should get Mr Howard after all.”
“Please no. I will be embarrassed, no fuss.”
“I can’t leave you here. Fine I’ll help you.” Bonnie placed Theodore’s arm around her neck, helping him to his knees. “How does that feel?”
“I have to admit to being a little light-headed.”
“Can you stand?”
“I hope so.”
Gingerly, Theodore placed one foot down onto the floor, followed by another, turned around with Bonnie’s assistance and sat upon his bed.
“That is a relief.”
“You can say that again, your Grace! Here, I’ll swing your legs around for you. That’s it.”
She pulled his covers over him, placing her hand on top of his.
“You are so cold and little wonder. Would you like a warm drink?”
“No, do not worry. I would only fall asleep before you brought it to me.”
“I do not think that you are warm enough.”
“I am, thanks to you. You should go back to bed.”
“Because it is the early hours of the morning and you will be exhausted if you don’t. I am fine.”
“You do realise that I’m not going anywhere.”
“Must you be awkward and disobey me?”
“You, the strong-minded Scottish woman who I lo-“
“Whose friendship I cherish.”
Bonnie paused, realising what he would have said before he stopped himself. Did he love her, did he really? She said nothing but placed a hand on his sleeve for reassurance.
“While I am here then, I shall tell you another quick story which will send you off to sleep.”
“Is it really that dull?”
“The cheek of it!” Bonnie laughed. “No, I feel that I talk about myself too much.”
“Not at all, tell me about your Mother and Brother.”
“I have told you very little about Andrew. Well he is typical of his age, he has so much energy and loves the outdoors and always has a million and one questions to ask Mother and I. He is a character.”
“I bet, as he is your relation.”
“You are quite the character yourself.You must go back to bed and forget this little incident.”
“That has made me more determined to stay. Now then, I am not satisfied that you are warm enough. Here is my old shawl, draped over the edge of the bed, I am going to tuck it around your shoulders. I am amazed that the fire was still going, you are incredibly lucky.”
“Yes, lucky.” Theodore echoed in a daze.
“I’m not convinced that you’re not hurt your Grace, if you were, you would tell me wouldn’t you?”
“When I fell, I may have gone over on my ankle a little.”
“I knew it! Badly?”
“It still aches, but it will only be a little sprain.”
“Will you allow me to look?”
Bonnie held the candle closer to him, examining his reddened ankle.
“It looks very bruised, I hope it is no more than a sprain.”
“Stop fussing Bonita.”
“I am going to place a pillow under your ankle as I have a feeling that it will swell.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014