It was dark by the time the wagon pulled up outside the entrance to the kitchen.
‘Stay here and keep well wrapped up,’ Rosie told Keavy. She climbed down, straightened her skirts and pulled the hood of her cloak over her head.
A soldier stood outside the main door and, with butterflies in her stomach, Rosie approached him.
‘I am here to see Flea. Fleance, son of Banquo,’ she said her voice shaking.
The soldier opened the door and motioned for her to enter. In the grand entranceway, she was approached by a servant.
‘I wish to speak with Fleance,’ she said a little more bravely.
‘You’re in luck, young lady,’ he answered, glancing quickly over her humble clothing.
‘The royal party are just coming down from dinner. He should be with you shortly.’
At that moment a door opened and noise and laughter quickly filled the entranceway.
Rosie dragged her gaze to the top of the staircase and her heart almost stopped.
There was Flea, looking more handsome than she had dared remember, walking arm and arm with another equally handsome couple. Both were fair, the man tall and with a serious air, the woman about her own age, long blonde hair framing a beautiful face.
But what pierced Rosie’s heart was the way Flea was looking at the woman – laughing and open, her beloved Flea sharing something of great amusement with this other woman who was so obviously in love with him.
She couldn’t see him now, it had been wrong to come here after so long, foolish, foolish girl that she was to even think he could still love her after all this time.
Quickly she turned and made to leave the room but in her haste she stumbled into a side table and a large, ornate vase crashed to the floor.
The party on the landing stopped their talk and looked her way.
‘Rosie,’ he cried. ‘My god is that you?’
Rosie swept from the room, even as Flea cried out for her to wait.
He caught her at the doorway and spun her around to face him.
‘It is you,’ he whispered, ‘after all this time, I can’t believe it.’
Then his face hardened and he looked like the old Flea on a bad day.
‘Why did you not wait for me?’
She lifted her head, clenching her jaw, a buried anger returning.
‘You had vanished without a trace,’ she said her voice quiet but hard. ‘We sent a messenger to the castle and they told us that you had gone to England.’
Flea shook his head. ‘That is a lie! I came as fast as I could but fate intervened, Rosie. First I was attacked and Willow left me; then I was lost in the woods.’ He looked at her. ‘I was delayed but by five days.’
‘You promised …’ she began.
‘ Aye and I kept my promise.’ He looked alone, lost and she wanted to reach out and touch him but pride kept her hands by her sides.
‘I believed nothing would separate us,’ he sighed.
‘It seems,’ she said, ‘your belief was misplaced.’
‘Rosie,’ he whispered. ‘Nothing has changed.’
‘Everything is changed, Flea,’ she hissed. ‘We cannot go back to what we were – foolish young things caught up in ourselves.’
She went to step away from him but he reached for her. ‘That may be true for some things but of this I am certain: my love for you, Rosie, has never faltered.’
For a moment, she wavered but then remembered her purpose. Gently, she took his hand from her arm and held it in hers. ‘Keavy is with me. I need your help.’
A look of concern flashed across his face. ‘Is she hurt?’
‘No, but she needs a home. Magness is gone and Miri is… dying.’ It was hard to say the word. ‘She sent me here to you.’
‘She sent you? You did not come of your own will?’
She wanted to tell him: yes, I came willingly. I needed to see you. I need to be with you. But, none of these words could she utter. She saw him watching her, waiting for her to tell him yes, she came of her own free will. She heard his sigh when she kept silent.
‘Where is she?’ he asked.
‘Outside. In the wagon. I will take you to her.’ She picked up her skirts and walked out the door aware of the sound of his soft breathing as he followed her.
It was colder and Rosie worried that she had been too long in the castle but, when they got to the wagon, Keavy was happily talking with a woman from the kitchen.
‘I see she’s made friends with our Morag already,’ Flea said.
At the sound of their approach, Keavy turned and for a moment sat completely still. Then, she let out a squeal of delight and threw herself from the wagon into Flea’s arms. ‘Flea! Flea!’ she cried. ‘It’s me – Keavy!’
Flea laughed. ‘Aye, bairn, I know that.’
‘Do you live here?’ she asked, her face suddenly serious. ‘Are you the king?’
‘No. Our king is Duncan.’
Keavy looked over at Rosie, a bit put out. ‘Flea is a general in the king’s army,’ Rosie explained.
‘Morag,’ Flea said to the woman. ‘I’m taking my girls inside. Could you arrange for their sleep and some food?’
The woman curtsied. ‘Aye, sire.’
This formality made Keavy giggle. He put the child down and grabbed her hand. ‘Your fellows will find warmth and rest for themselves and the horses at the stables,’ he said. ‘As for you two, you need warming up.’