Margaret came in and tended the fire as they sat in silence. Unable to wait any longer Sarah was about to speak when Lady Abigail looked up at her.
“And you truly were wearing pants and in a tree?”
“Of course,” Sarah smiled. “I loved climbing trees.”
“In pants?” Lady Abigail was more appalled by the fact Sarah was in pants than the fact that she climbed trees.
“All girls wore pants.” Sarah shrugged as she folded and pinned the hem. “No one really wore skirts or dresses much; not unless they had a party to go to.”
“Men wore skirts and dresses to parties?”
Sarah swallowed her laughter at the image that brought to mind. “No, only women,” she responded. “Men stuck with pants.” Sarah nearly added, unless they were cross-dressers or Scots, but decided that would only confuse Jason's mother even more.
Lady Abigail blinked and continued on with her sewing. Jason broke the silence next.
“Given that she was climbing a Godwood, you can imagine I was quite surprised when I realized she was not the Great-Grand-Moyther but a person, like me.” He glanced sideways at Sarah with a smile as his mother nodded. “In the beginning I never meant to go back to The Grove, nor did I ever look for it." He set down the scissors he'd been using. "I would just find myself there. Yet despite all the teasing I received from my relatives or," he looked at his mother, "the concerned looks you gave me I always hoped I’d be able to get back. She just,” his eyes roved Sarah’s face as he fumbled for words, "intrigued me."
“We became fast friends,” Sarah continued after a moment of silence. “I had recently lost my best friend whose family had moved far away. And Jason,” she grinned at him, “well I couldn’t resist chasing imaginary foes and beating them off with swords with him; especially since he was a lot nicer to me about it than my brothers were.”
“We did make quite a team,” Jason smiled, “even if your sword was a stick.”
“Banishing our foes…”
Lady Abigail coughed, breaking the flow of memories between them.
“Truth is,” Sarah turned back to Jason’s mother, “I thought I had created Jason with my own imagination, just as you thought I was from his. I received much the same teasing as he, including the brotherly tussles.”
“Your brothers fought you?” Lady Abigail stopped sewing again. “How could your mother have allowed that?”
Sarah gave a wry grin to Jason before looking back at his mother. “Actually it was my father who stayed at home and took care of me and my brothers. And he was the one who first taught me how to fight back.” Lady Abigail’s eyebrows shot up as Sarah steadily met her gaze. It was obvious that the woman was having a hard time taking this all in. “I’m serious,” Sarah asserted. “My father took care of me and my brothers while he ran the Ranch...”
“A ranch?” Lady Abigail interrupted. “And what, pray tell, is a ranch?”
“A Ranch is a place where horses are raised and trained. Most of them were for show, but,” Sarah frowned slightly. “When I was eleven the government made us convert it to a Farm for the war effort.”
Jason reached out a hand and gave Sarah’s shoulder a comforting squeeze. Sarah smiled and scooted towards him, having finished pinning the hem. Placing an arm around Sarah’s waist Jason pulled her closer.
“That was the fall when I disappeared so much you hired Mathew.”
“I see,” said Lady Abigail as she tied off the thread. “There, all that’s left is the pressing.” She stood and shook out the dress.
Sarah took the opportunity to speak quietly with Jason as Lady Abigail set the dress down to pick up the gown.
“Griffon said you disappeared a lot during First Year training.” He nodded, his eyes watching his mother. “That wasn’t for me too was it?”
Jason looked at her. “Your father had just died. How could I not be there for you?”
“Jay!” Sarah nudged him with her shoulder, her face flushing slightly.
He smiled affectionately and nudged her back just as his mother turned back to them. Lady Abigail shook her head slightly and sighed as she returned with the gown.
“You are both hopelessly improper!” She flourished a hand at them, though a smile tugged at her face.
Sarah and Jason quickly scooted back to their original positions.
“I’m sorry,” Sarah apologized first. “Courtship here is so different from home and I have known Jason for a long time…” Her voice petered off
Lady Abigail smiled. She reached over to pat Sarah’s hands. “It is alright child. I am not scolding. True love, like that which you two share, is so rare. Many do not understand it.” Sarah glanced at Jason, who looked as embarrassed as she felt. “However, I do recommend you watch your interactions when around others.”
“We did well while scouting,” Jason stated.
“Yes, but circumstances were different, seeing as I had no idea how you felt,” Sarah gave Jason a mock glare, “and I wasn’t about to go make a fool of myself in front of your men. I know enough about military life from my brothers.”
“True,” Jason admitted, “it was a much more serious situation.”
“Speaking of serious situations,” Lady Abigail interrupted, “you have an audience with the King tomorrow. Now Sarah, manners are of utmost importance…”
And with that Lady Abigail launched into an etiquette refresher for Sarah.