The king paced back to Theodore.
“Mr Howard and I have everything in hand.”
“We have um… temporarily removed her from the situation. I am the King after all, I think it is high time that I showed that woman some authority!”
Theodore smiled. “Father, what have you done?”
“Oh, she is quite al right, but at the moment, she is most probably bubbling over with anger.” He laughed. “I am afraid that I am useless at looking after the sick.”
“Ah, that news was medicine enough. I am so happy.” Theodore muttered.
“Theodore?” The king gasped, Theodore lay limp and unconscious, he had fainted. The king adjusted his pillows and sighed.
“I am sorry, so sorry. Miss McGrath will be here again soon, for she is the best nurse.”
“Your Grace, you have not quite completed all your tasks, there are a few more. Do not fret, again you can do this from your bedside.” Theodore listened in his unconscious state. “Your Father bears the weight of the world upon his shoulders. He is so guilty. Tell him that he is forgiven.”
Theodore coughed, taking a large gulp of air as King Rupert placed a bottle of smelling salts under his nose and he started to come round.
“A part of me wants to send for our physician, but alas I think we are too late.”
Theodore nodded. “Bonnie.” He muttered.
“I know, I imagine she would know what to do. You know, I am sitting here and I haven’t the first clue.”
“Please, do not let me die before she gets here! Please Father!”
“Shhh, you are going to live for as long as you can my son. Tell yourself that, believe it and you shall.”
“I must live for at least another day!” Theodore gasped.
“Your Grace, you shall.”
“John? Thank God!”
“Who is John, Theodore?”
Theodore did not answer, but sensed a hand on top of his and a caring arm drape around his shoulder.
“Why is Mother so cruel?”
“She is jealous of Bonnie, Theodore. Can’t you see?”
“That thought did cross my mind.” He muttered. “Why?”
“I don’t know, because you and Miss McGrath are so close and your Mother and you have always had your differences.”
“She will be here before you know it. Howard has gone to fetch her.”
“Father, I forgive you. I cannot hold a grudge against you, I blamed you for leaving, hated you for it even, but it was Mother all the time wasn’t it?”
“My son, we both had our faults but…”
“Did she hurt you?”
“Oh Father I am so sorry and know that I forgive you, with all my heart and soul!”
Mr Howard rode, the bitter wind stinging his ears as he tapped the horses sides with the reins, his hat flying from his head, but alas, he did not notice. He reached the cottage, tying up Theodore’s horse and banged upon the door.
It flew open “There is no need to bang with such force, I- oh, I recognise you.”
“I am Mr Howard, John Howard.”
“You have the same Christian name as my late husband.”
“Come in, Bonnie has not been so well, I am afraid.”
On hearing her name Bonnie exited the kitchen, where she had been sweeping the floor.
“Mother I am quite well, my cold has almost gone.” She looked up. “Mr Howard!”
“The King insisted that I should fetch you.”
“But the Queen will not have it!”
“His Grace will not acknowledge, or speak to her. If I had half a crown for each time he has begged to see you, I would be a rich man. There is so little time now, we must go. I fear he has but days to live.”
“Wait, you are here and the Queen is…who is caring for him at this moment in time?”
“The King, but Prince Theodore needs his nurse.”
Bonnie, a little alarmed, took her bag from Maira, which her Mother had packed.
“Bonnie, my brave girl. You know, I forgot to tell you. I found a white feather in your chair by the fire last week.”
“I’d like to think so. I think he watches over us. If you’re ever in doubt, just ask him.”
“I have done for some time.”
“And I also, Bonnie. Goodbye lovie.”
“Mr Howard, how has he coped?”
“His pain is bad, but he is still so brave. But, he is struggling.”
“And the King?”
“He has come to his senses.”
“Thank God! The Queen will have me removed again.”
“She is not there to remove you.”
“It is not my place to tell you. Here take my hand. But be warned. He is very sick. ” He whispered biting his lip.
Bonnie did so as he helped her down and she raced into the palace.
“Thank you again, Mr Howard. For all you have done.” She panted as they ran up the grand staircase and into Theodore’s bedroom. She dashed straight to Theodore, wrapping her arms around his neck and holding his perishing body close to her own.
“Bonnie?” He murmured, from his semi-conscious state.
“It is me, my darling.” She placed both hands against his cheeks and kissed his damp forehead, as her warm tears dropped onto his nose. “Why is there bruising upon your head?” She gasped.
“Fell! Did it hurt?”
“You are here and that is all that matters now.”
“I am so sorry.” She kissed him again.
“Don’t cry. I was just dreaming about my child, we shall be united soon.”
“My poor friend!”
“Oh how glad I am that you are here beside me Bonnie.”
“And I also.”
“Bonnie, there is one thing?”
“It is a foolish request.”
“Your Grace, as another of your tasks. Ask Bonnie to kiss you, she will be much obliged I am sure.”
“Would you kiss me again when I die?”
“That wasn’t in the least bit foolish. I’ll kiss you now. There is no-one about.”
Bonnie pressed her lips against his, as he reciprocated the kiss with the last of his remaining strength as Bonnie held his hand to her cheek, supporting his head with her other arm. She planted another kiss on his forehead as she held her dying friend in her arms.
“How I have missed you, your Grace.”
“I have missed you too, more than you could ever envisage.”
“W-well we are together again now, we shall not be parted again until the end.”
Bonnie stroked his hair, sitting beside him on the bed as she gazed into those haunted eyes.
“I wonder what Jane is doing?”
“I-“ Bonnie paused. “Well, I imagine that she is sitting at home in good company.”
“And your family?”
“Mother will be running errands and Andrew will be at school.”
“Take me away from here.”
“You never did meet my Mother, your Grace. But, I am afraid that you must stay here, but do not worry, I’ll be with you.”
“Then-then I shall be happy.”
“Please, tell me another of your stories Bonnie.”
“I imagine that you have heard them all, my dear.”
“So glad that you are here.”
“As am I. Now then, a story. I will think, but I wish to know something?”
“I fear that you are not well enough, but, it is strange, you seem a little brighter.”
“I feel it. You are my medicine Bonnie.”
“In the past, what was the relationship like between you and your Mother? Oh Lord, sorry, do not answer that!”
“Shhh, I do not mind. Well, she has always been difficult to please.”
“And short tempered like myself.”
“You aren’t, not any more.”
“I used to be, I hate myself for it.”
Bonnie kissed his forehead. “You are so loved, your Grace.”
“I hate myself, I am too much like Mother. I sent you away, remember. You, the woman who is so kind to me.”
“We barely knew each other then, your Grace. I was the perfect antagonist, was I not? Angering you, when you had troubles of your own. For that, I will be eternally sorry. We must dwell on the positives.”
“The afternoons spent in the warm garden sunshine and the gentle lilt of your Scottish accent as you read to me.”
“The cups and tea and toast, which I persuaded you to eat!” Bonnie laughed.
“Oh yes. If it wasn’t for you, I would have starved to death.”
Bonnie swallowed, glancing at his skeletal body. “Are you hungry or thirsty now? You are ever so cold, a hot drink perhaps? Tea?”
“Yes, I will. It will remind me of old times.”
Bonnie rang the bell, Mr Howard’s eyes widened as he smiled a small smile.
“My-my goodness, your Grace you seem so… happy!”
“I cannot put into words how I feel, only that I will be eternally grateful to you and Father. But tell me, where is Mother?”
“She has gone to stay with a friend, she was a little taken aback.”
“Mr Howard, please could have two cups of tea?”
“Certainly. I will return promptly.”
Bonnie stroked Theodore’s hair, pushing the one unruly lock away from his face.
“That is much better.”
“Your Grace, I am so sorry that you took a turn for the worst.”
“I am so determined to get better Bonnie.”
“I know you are, my friend.”
Theodore yawned, closing his eyes as Bonnie continued to hold his hand in hers.
“I am surprised that you want to hold it.” He muttered. “It is all horrid and bony.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014