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Breakfast in Bed | Morning, Friday 23rd September, 1678


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MacGregor/MacBain rental property

A pretty Tudor style home with four bedrooms, a dining room, parlor, and library.  A small stable that can hold 3 horses and tack and carriage resides on the property as well.  A walled garden, most of it settling down to slumber for the winter, completes the rental

The words of Duncan Melville had played on his mind all night as Douglas tossed and turned in his rented room at the Inn. Who was trying to kill Fiona? He still felt like he was only getting bits and pieces of the story, all second hand. Meanwhile his poor sister was lying abed injured - at least, if she knew what was good for her - and they were all still stumped as to the identity of her attacker. 

Douglas tended to wake early, even after a late evening involving quite a lot of whiskey; legacy of many years as a soldier. Forgoing breakfast at the Hen's Toes he dressed in his uniform, saddled his horse and rode straight for the house that Catriona had rented. Her old soldiers turned bodyguards already knew him, and the big Highlander wasted no time in heading straight on in and into the kitchen. This would of course not surprise Cat in the slightest, but this time he wasn't after food for himself. Rather he bossed the staff into making up a breakfast tray - alright, there might be enough food for two - which he carried himself up to the floor where the girls had their rooms and along to Fiona's room. 

By now the sun was fairly up and the roosters had largely finished their morning crows. Hands full, he tapped gently on the door with the toe of his boot. "Fiona lass? Tis Douglas." He called. 

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Fiona had slept deeply last night. She had hoped that her vertigo would be gone by morning, but it persisted, as did the pain. A maid had helped her take care of her morning needs and then she sank gratefully back into bed. Her stalker had almost succeeded in murdering her yesterday. If Duncan had not come to her aid, the assassin might have finished her off. He had said he would protect her with his life; she now owed him hers.

 

A knock on the door interrupted her reverie. Douglas! Her mood brightened a bit. “Come in, Dougie!” she called. Fiona hoped he wouldn’t be alarmed by her appearance. There were bandages wrapped tightly around her head. Her ankle was bandaged too, but it was underneath the blankets and he couldn’t see it.

 

And what was that delicious aroma? Had he brought food? She was famished.

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Douglas had seen far worse on the battlefield, but it was one thing to see a soldier bandaged and another to see one's sister so. He couldn't prevent the moue of concern as he slipped inside, balancing the tray, and kicked the door shut behind him. No doubt some servant would curse him whilst cleaning the mark from the door. "Ee lassie." He said gently by way of greeting, setting the tray onto a side table and himself onto the edge of the bed. "Hou'er ye feeling?"* He asked. Poor thing, for all her faults no lady should have to face such things. And it wasn't like she didn't have much in common with her older siblings.

Pouring the tea himself, Douglas handed Fiona a cup before setting a little plate of pasties on her lap, then pouring his own tea. He was more of a toast and kippers man himself, but such wasn't easy to each whilst sitting up in bed and the pastries were sweet and loaded with nuts and spices to tempt even the most recalcitrant. Not that MacBains were generally shy of food, even with their lives under threat. 

Subtitles
* "Hey girl. How are you feeling?"

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Fiona wasn’t sure whether she was happier to see Douglas or the food. Whether he reprimanded her for her stupidity or not, she was glad to see him.

 

The mattress sank a bit under his weight. “I feel awful, but it’s better than the alternative. My ankle itches like he …” She caught herself right before she said ‘hell.’ “It itches dreadfully.”

 

Her hands closed around the cup Douglas handed her. The warmth was welcome. Fiona had been freezing cold ever since she had returned home and relived the attempt to kill her. This time the assassin had almost succeeded.

 

She picked up a pastry and bit into it, sighing in pleasure. Why was she always so hungry? After washing it down with a sip of tea, she ventured: “I assume want to talk about what happened yesterday?”

 

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As a soldier, Douglas could vouch for the fact that feeling awful was vastly preferable to the alternative. Even if it meant putting up with an itchy ankle. "Want me tae scratch it fer ye?"* He teased. If a sore head and a sore ankle were all she had to worry about then she'd got off lightly. Itching meant healing in his experience, so that was a positive, and there was nothing wrong with her appetite. Her brother watched approvingly as Fiona tucked into a pastry and the tea. 

Sipping his own tea, Douglas nodded when Fiona said she assumed he wanted to talk about what happened the day before. "Aye lassie, we need tae sort this oot." He said, though there were no recriminations in his tone. "An' I'm sorreh I havnae been here till noo tae protect ye."** His service to the King was important - it was Douglas's life - but Fiona was family, something he'd only regained and rediscovered the value of since coming to court, and he wasn't prepared to lose them. 

Setting his teacup aside, Douglas helped himself to one of the pastries. "Catriona telt me aboot the snake an' the glass in the chocolates. An' the notes made frae words cut frae pamphlets." Whoever was doing this was no fool. "Whin yer rairdy, kin ye tell me whit happened yesterdae?"*** He asked gently. The last thing that he wanted was to upset Fiona or put her on the defensive; they were a family with a wildness in their blood and she was simply doing as her older siblings did. If anything Fiona was the most like him of his sisters.

(OOC: I've read the Hunting Oxford thread, if you want to summarise the description.)

Subtitles
* "Want me to scratch it for you?"
** "Yes girl, we need to sort this out. And I'm sorry I haven't been here until now to protect you."
*** "Catriona told me about the snake and the glass in the chocolates. And the notes made from words cut from pamphlets. When you're ready, can you tell me what happened yesterday?"

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Fiona smiled wanly. She knew he was teasing, but replied with the truth. “I tried to do it myself but it didn’t help. I can’t feel it under all the bandages.” She remembered when Douglas had done much more than just scratch her ankle. It seemed odd to think of their affair now, but maybe it had something to so with being in a bedroom on a bed together. She recalled those days with fondness, but even had they both wished to renew their relationship, she would have to decline. A promise was a promise.

 

“Don’t blame yourself. Your duty to His Majesty always comes first.” She didn’t want to make him feel guiltier by telling him that she believed the assassin would have been caught already if he had been around when the threats started. Lord Langdon’s assistance had been invaluable, but she’d had an ulterior motive when she sought his help. She was seeking his bed as well, and her ploy had worked until Cat had returned to London and whisked her away.

 

It was no surprise that Douglas knew about the attempts on her life. It was likely that he knew everything, unlike Shona and Aileen, who had only been told that she was in danger and that they had been threatened as well. Fiona nodded, finished the pastry, and picked up another.

 

After a couple of bites, she told him exactly what she had told Lord Melville. She also explained the shooting incident yesterday and how Lord Melville had saved her. No mention was made of the emerald bracelet, which was back in its hiding place where nobody would be able to find it.

 

“I was stupid,” she concluded. “I should have known it was a trap.”

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It was good to see Fiona smile, however wanly. "Weel, if ye think it needs a doctor, ye let me ken. I'll git ye ane."* He promised. They didn't need Fiona hobbling for the rest of her life. It was a shame that she'd hurt herself now, he'd planned to take her to a court event so that she could enjoy herself. But it was what it was - as with all of their lives - and they had to work with what they had. Perhaps a few days of bed rest would be the best thing for her. And yes, sitting on her bed, Douglas's mind flashed briefly to other things they'd done in a bed of hers. It seemed foolish now, however fun it was, and he had no desire to repeat that foolery, for all that he recalled it fondly and Fiona would always have a special place in his heart. 

Douglas would and did feel guilty that his duty called him away from his family, there was no avoiding that. But he was here now and he was going to do everything he could to set things right. He didn't tell her that Catriona had told him about Langdon, at least not yet. It didn't seem relevant to her situation, at the moment anyway. It was just yet another thing that had happened. Rather he listened carefully as she related the events of the previous day, trying to pick out any important details.

Finally Fiona declared that she'd been stupid to fall for it. "Aye, but I ken why ye did. T'was excitin', am I richt?" He asked with a cheeky quirk of an eyebrow. "I think yer more like me than ony o' oor sisters." He admitted gently, giving her a brief, fond smile and a pat on the leg. "We both do daft thin's frae time tae time; whit's important is that we learn frae thaim."** Which was something that he'd taken a long time to learn. But he was getting better at it. 

Then he turned his attention to the matter at hand. "Noo, ye sayed a man wha luiked like a so'jer handed ye the note speirin' ye tae gie ridin' yesterdae." He recalled. "Do ye still hae the note?" He asked. This was a new development. So far as he knew, the notes made from cut up pamphlets had always been left anonymously. "An' whit was it aboot the man that made him luik liek a so'jer?"*** That was an interesting observation. It was perhaps a logical assumption then that the note had come from Langdon, which then begged the question as to whether the man himself was involved? But from Douglas's observation he might be a successful womaniser but he was uncomplicated and couldn't plot his way out of a wet paper bag. Whoever was doing this had imagination. He wondered whether, expecting to finish Fiona off, they might have overplayed their hand. 

Subtitles
* "Well, if you think it needs a doctor, you let me know. I'll get you one."
** "Yes, but I know why you did. It was exciting, am I right? I think you're more like me than any of our sisters. We both do silly things from time to time; what's important is that we learn from them."
*** "Now, you said a man who looked like a soldier handed you the note asking you to come riding yesterday. Do you still have the note? And what was it about the man that made him look like a soldier?"

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A doctor had examined her injuries already and Fiona didn’t think she needed another one. She hated being poked and prodded, but she appreciated her half-brother’s concern. “I’ll let you know if the pain gets worse.”

 

Douglas listened to her story without interrupting. His first reaction was not what she expected. “Yes, it was.” Like him, she could not resist the opportunity for adventure and the thought of meeting a handsome gentleman in secret had been intriguing.

 

“You understand me much better than our sisters do,” she admitted with a more genuine smile. “And I will definitely not make the same mistake again.” Fiona was so glad that he was back and hoped that the King would not have any business he needed to take care of until her stalker was found and thrown in prison. Dougie was her favorite of all her siblings, maybe because he was a lot like her. If she received another note asking for a meeting, she would take him with her.

 

“I burnt the note after I read it. Now I wished I had kept it. We might have been able to find out who wrote it.”

 

She frowned in thought when he asked why she thought the messenger was a soldier. “It was dark, but it looked like he was wearing a uniform.  I couldn’t tell what color it was or see any details. Something glinted in the moonlight and I assumed it was a weapon.”  Or maybe she had wanted the note to be from Charles, and her imagination had warped reality.

 

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"I see a lot o' m'sel' in ye." He admitted. He just wanted to stop Fiona making the same kind of mistakes he did, but so far he hadn't had much success. Like himself she seemed to need to make her own mistakes and learn from them her own way. 

The admission that she'd burned the note drew a quiet, Gaelic curse from her brother. "Aye, I'd thocht we micht be able tae match the writin'." He agreed, since she clearly now saw what he was thinking. "If t'was a so'jer, I micht e'en hae recognised it."* Well, if it was a Life Guard. He'd been adjutant and Captain of the Third, he knew a lot of the Life Guards. And Fiona seemed fairly sure that he'd worn some sort of uniform, though the darkness hid details. 

Something had glinted and caught her eye though... "Was the glint at his hip?" Douglas asked, that was the usual place for a weapon, though a sword hilt would surely have been obvious; perhaps a pistol. "Aboot hou big?"** He was grasping at straws, he knew, but if any detail might give him some clue, he didn't want to miss it. Some of the Life Guards, being noble sons, had personalised and sometimes distinctive weapons. 

What to do, what to do. Douglas rubbed his chin with his thumb thoughtfully. "This was Wednesdae nicht, ye haed the note handed tae ye?" He clarified, throwing her a keen glance from cornflower blue eyes. "Cat telt me that Langdon kens whit's happenin'." He revealed. "If I tell him aboot yesterdae, he micht help me gie throu' the rosters an' find oot wha was an' wasnae on duty Wednesdae nicht." Which might help narrow it down at least. Someone in uniform on Wednesday night - and most of the Life Guard didn't live in their uniform, unlike some of their officers - with possibly a distinctive weapon. And a reason to want Fiona dead. And they were out in the forest on Thursday, presumably by horse. They might be getting somewhere. 

Subtitles
* "Yes, I thought we might be able to match the writing. If it was a soldier, I might even have recognised it."
** "Was the glint at his hip? About how big?"
*** "This was Wednesday night, you had the note handed to you? Cat told me that Langdon knows what's happening. If I tell him about yesterday, he might help me go through the rosters and find out who was and wasn't on duty Wednesday night."

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