posted on 8-Oct-2002 10:18:21 PM
Growing Grace.
Author: Nicola Clarke
Disclaimer: I don't own Roswell or any of its characters.
Summary: Picture Joan of arc in your head and then think about what she did and the era she was born in. Got it in your head? Well now exchange her image with Maxwell's and that's this story. Actually no it's quite a bit different but the whole getting the English out of France and the messanger is still going to happen. This is a Max and Liz story!!! And I promise to those people who read my last story that this one is not going to be sad!!! Forget about the burning on the stake because that is not going to happen. I can't explain myself very well just read and tell me what you think!!!

<><><><><><>

As the sky darkened, the moon shone brighter lighting the streets of Domremy, Lorraine with a glittery glow. Young Maxwell Evans slept tightly tucked in between the sheets of his childhood bed not to be woken even by the mice scattering under the floorboards. His mind was drowned with dreams of adolescence and innocence, adventure and excitement, hope and prayer.
The thin brown curtains hanging above his windowsill did not hold back the moon’s glowing so rays of pearly white trickled in leaving lines of angelic color all over the floor and walls. Maxwell’s eyes twitched and he rolled over to bury his face in his dirty pillow. Little did his naive mind know one of the most important moments of his life was about to take place and his sleep would be interrupted?
“Max.”
The unearthly silence in the room was briefly interrupted by a slithery woman’s voice calling the little boy’s name. It was not evil but strangely calming and peaceful.
“Max.”
It urged him to leave his dreams and join her in reality.
Maxwell awoke and rubbed his eyes with his hands clenched into fists.
“Maman?” He asked.
He suspected his mother’s voice had caused his peace to be interrupted.
“Maman?” He repeated.
He got no reply but it did not end his curiosity as to where the voice had come from so he rolled onto his back and sat up. What he saw he was not prepared for. Though he was not frightened and he did not feel compelled to run away he still jumped up and screamed.
There was a bang on the wall next door. “Go back to sleep would you le fils!”
Maxwell stared forward with large eyes.
“You aren’t afraid.”
The beam of light coming in from the window had transformed into the shape of a woman. Maxwell knew it was unusual but strange feelings of trust told him not to ask questions. He climbed under his covers and pulled the sheet up to his face so only his eyes showed. He did not say anything.
The woman wore such fine clothing like Maxwell had not seen in his poor insignificant life. On her body was a stunning gown that flowed down to the ground and pooled out in a puddle of silk over to the upswept wooden floor boards; her hair was curly and hung down beneath her breasts, it appeared to be glittery and Maxwell wondered what it felt like? He imagined it would be smooth and gentle. She was smiling.
The most unusual part of her was the shinning white wings attached to her back. They were so large they reached the floor.
“Tell me Max.” Her voice was as silky as her dress was. She suddenly rose up into the air and her wings opened out so they touched the walls on either side of her. “You’ve always been a good boy haven’t you?” She asked.
Maxwell nodded his head.
“Well, well.” She laughed. She flew over so she was hovering over his bed in front of him. “I should hope so because the kindest people are the most important. And in your case the most worthy too.”
“Worthy of what?” Maxwell slowly moved the blanket in his hands away from his face.
The woman reached out with her hand and touched his cheek. “To save your country of course.”
She fluttered her wings and gracefully plopped down onto the bed so she was sitting in front of him. “You have been chosen for a very important job.” She lifted both of her clenched hands up into the air in front of them and pressed them together.
“You have to listen very carefully okay?”
Maxwell nodded with his eyes glued to her hands and not straying to anything else. A light burst from them and when she dropped them back to her sides a ball off blue light remained in the air.
“I don’t have very long.” The woman stared into his eyes. “Touch it,” she instructed.
Maxwell nervously lifted his hand up to the light and touched it; it was metallic and felt like liquid.
Slowly it started to grow until it was the size of a large ball.
“Okay,” The woman said. “You can put your hands down now.”
Maxwell did as he was told.
“This.” The girl spun her hands around the ball of blue light. “Is going to show you the future. You see that handsome man right there?”
A manly face could been seen directly in the middle of the ball.
“That is you,” she explained.
The picture of the man drifted outwards so you could see his whole figure, on his body, he wore a suit of armor and he sat comfortably on a horse.
“Pretty nice right?” The woman grinned.
Maxwell didn’t say anything.
Her eyes danced with delight. “You like what you see little man?” She snapped her fingers bringing him out of his daze.
“Yes,” he choked out. “But if that’s me…?”
“You are quite a bit older then you are now.”
She zapped the ball with her fingers and the image turned into a movie. The older Maxwell rode along on his horse and raised his sword up into the air.
“You are what this country needs to survive later on in history and when your time comes you will be asked to shine above the rest.”
Maxwell watched the movie playing out in the ball, his older version howled and charged into a battlefield with his sword directly in front of him. It stabbed into a man standing in front of the horse and the man’s mouth filled with blood and he slowly died.
The lady winced and caught the ball in her hands making it disappear.
“It’s not very pretty I know, but you men of today have serious issues and just can’t play nice.” She took Maxwell’s hands in hers. “You have the power to make a difference, did you know that?”
Maxwell bit his lip. “Where?” He asked.
She laughed. “Well in your heart!” She let go of his hands and punched his chest playfully.
“Now,” she said. “The time has come for me to save your little important self from destruction because there are a lot of people counting on you.”
She rose into the air and pulled him up by his hands. “You okay?” She asked.
Maxwell looked down at his bed with wide eyes. “Where are we going?” He asked alarmed.
“To safety.” She pointed to the window and it flew open. A loud scream sounded outside and Maxwell jumped.
“Who was that?” He asked.
The woman drew her wings in tight and flew them out through the window. Up in the sky they could look down on his village. Intruders were attacking the cottages and setting the straw roofs on fire.
“You are going to have a very hard time after tonight,” the woman continued her explanation.
She flew them above the village towards a hiding place for Maxwell.
She looked sad. “You won’t have your parent’s around to help you anymore, you are going to have to take care of yourself.”
Maxwell didn’t understand. He frowned and looked down at his house getting smaller and smaller. “My sister!” He panicked quickly remembering her.
“Don’t worry about Isabel,” the woman said. “Your mother will save her.”
She set them down in the middle of a grass field and made sure he was lying down comfortably on the ground.
“You may start to think this isn’t fair and not want to be chosen for such an important task. But in the end you will be rewarded.”
“Toys?” Maxwell’s eyes lit up with delight.
The woman laughed. “No not toys!” She lay him down on his back and brushed his bangs to the side. “Love,” she whispered. “Happiness and fulfillment.”
Maxwell frowned. “What?” he asked. He wasn’t very pleased.
“Trust me,” the woman said. “You’ll be happy with that when you are older. In the end you will receive so much you will find it hard to believe!”
“Toys!” Maxwell said excitedly.
The lady rolled her eyes. “How do I explain this to a ten-year old?” She wondered. “Well,” she said. “What you will get is better then toys. What you will get is not fake or phony but pure and true. No one knows who the person that will give you all you deserve is… but we know it will be wonderful for you.”
Maxwell didn’t understand.
“Argh!” The lady flicked her hands in the air. “Never mind! That part of the story isn’t important anyway, just know you will be rewarded kay sweet thing?”
Maxwell nodded. “Okay sweet thing,” he copied her.
“Why you little…” She started to tickle his sides. “No one makes fun of me little man!”
“No stop! Stop!” Maxwell wiggled away from her and stared up into the sky.
After a few minutes of silence, he turned to her. “Do you live in the stars?” He asked.
“Sure, why not?” She stood up and put her hands on her hips. “I have to leave you now okay?”
“Where are you going?” Maxwell asked. “Are you going to come back?”
She nodded. “In a few years when you are old enough to not want toys as your ultimate reward.” She leaned down and kissed his forehead. “We’ll be watching you, take care of yourself.”
Maxwell yawned.
She spread her wings out as far as they could go. Each wing was over one meter long and was vibrant to look at. Their color was a bright white that shinned as if they were covered in glitter. The woman rose off her feet into the air and smiled down at him.
“Bye Max!” She cried. “Good luck!”

<><><><><><>Part one. Eight Years later.

“Max Evan’s if you don’t get up this instant I will come in there and beat you so hard!”
Maxwell quickly leapt out of his bed and scrambled to find some clothing. While he was buttoning his brown shirt, his sister Isabel danced into the room with a big jolly smile on her face. “Good morning brother, you look particularly disgusting today.”
Maxwell rolled his eyes. “Thank you.
Isabel offered him a little yellow buttercup flower that suggested she had already been out skipping around in the fields this morning. “You’re going to be late,” she said.
“That much is obvious to me,” he replied. “See you later.” He hurried out of the room.
Irina, his boisterous aunt stood outside the door with her hands on her hips. “What takes you so long? You…you… horrid boy! You’d think getting up in the morning was as hard as rising from the dead!”
“Sorry Irina,” Maxwell muttered.
“I’m sick of your apologies!” She leaned forward to hit him but he stepped back and she missed. Maxwell took this chance to leave. “Bye Irina!” He yelled

On his way to work this morning, Maxwell did not take his usual detour through the lavender fields. He was late again so he had no choice but to take the unpleasant short cut.
He worked with Pablo helping as much as he could around the paddocks and stables. It wasn’t a pleasant job but he had no other choice but to produce money for his crude Aunt and Uncle who demanded he paid rent for his living with them.
Unfortunately Maxwell did not manage to get to the stables quick enough, and was greeted by a very grumpy, yelling, Pablo.
“You! Gets out! I don’t need to be waiting around here for you all morning! Go home!”
Maxwell shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at the man in front of him innocently. Pablo wasn’t a bad guy, in fact, he could be quite friendly but you didn’t want to piss him off. He was young at forty-four and was strong enough to live for a good few more years. His hair was grey in many places and he had a bald spot at the back of his head; his stomach was round like his face and his red cheeks and dark brown eye’s made him appear gentle.
“You are lacking the ability to be here on time Max Evan’s! I don’t need your help any more; I will find someone else. Away with you! Away with you for good!”
Pablo continued to hiss and yell and all Maxwell could do was stand there and take it.
Getout.” Pablo finally finished.
Maxwell backed into the wall. “Please, I will do better Pablo. You know how Irina and…”
“No, no more excuses Max. I am tired.”
Maxwell saw that he was serious and sighed in defeat. “Okay I’m going.”
He turned and walked from the run down shack slowly.
He didn’t care that he had lost his job but his Uncle and Aunt would. When they found out, he would no longer be making money for them they would surely punish him brutally. Slowly he walked home wondering what he could do to get out of this situation… for good.

He figured his life had ended when his parent's died. He had spent his teenage years trapped in a hellhole with cruel, unloving 'relatives'. Every night he would sit by Isabel as she cried about the vivid horrible dreams she kept having about the night the English attacked their village eight years ago. Isabel had tried many times to tell Maxwell exactly what happened but she was never able to properly. Maxwell suspected it had been brutal and the experience had scared her for life.

He was also haunted by the memory of that night but in a completely different way. His night had not been filled with terror but something else that he could not explain…
He could swear an angel saved him but it had been so long ago he didn’t know if he had just been dreaming or not. Logic told him he must have been but that didn’t explain how he had ended up in a grass field the next morning.

Maxwell took a seat on a rock over looking the lavender fields below. He didn’t feel as if he belonged here. He felt as if should be somewhere else, but where?
As if another life could be possible somewhere else. He rested his elbows on his knees and held his head in his hands, it was bad enough that he should be stuck here but Isabel was too. She didn’t deserve this; she was too pretty to be trapped away from the world. She should be a princess in a beautiful castle with several people attending to her every need.
“Max?”
Speaking of Isabel…
“What are you doing here? Why aren’t you with Pablo? Oh no, don’t tell me he…”
Maxwell looked over his shoulder at Isabel who was carrying a basket filled with clothes. She was obviously heading down to the river to clean them.
She could tell by the look on his face that what she suspected was true. “Oh my,” she said. She put the basket down on the ground and took a seat on the rock beside him. “Oh Max,” she whispered.
He took a deep breath. “I’m reluctant to go home and have them find out,” he admitted.
“I guessed that.” Isabel put her head on his shoulder. “We need to get out of here Max. One day they will kill us.”
Maxwell winced and turned to look at her.
“Do you dream of another place?” Isabel closed her eyes and a smile spread across her lips. “Where Maman and le pere are alive and we all live together in a nice house surrounded by beautiful gardens and fruit tree’s…”
Maxwell rubbed her back.
“I wish things were different.” Isabel’s smile was long gone.
Maxwell kissed her forehead. “We’ll find a way out… you’ll get married and move in with your husband and be happy with heaps of children.”
“What about you?”
Maxwell looked down at her in confusion.
“Yes Max what about you?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted softly.

<><><><><><><>

Maxwell tried to roll onto his stomach but it hurt too much so he could not. Sure enough yesterday when his Uncle had found out that Pablo had fired Maxwell he had kicked him until he passed out. Now Maxwell was so bruised and sore he didn’t know if he could walk.
Isabel had tried to stop them by saying it wasn’t his fault but he slapped her and sent her away to cook like she ought to be.
Maxwell sucked in a deep painful breath and rested his hand on his forehead. He wanted so much to pay his Aunt and Uncle back for their horrible treatment but he could not. He had so much anger inside of his well-formed body that he swore he could kill them.
Isabel peaked inside of the room to check on him. “Feeling better?” She whispered quietly.
Maxwell turned his head to look at her. Her face was laden with worry and concern; he wanted to remove some of it so he said with a fake smile, “much better.”
She let out a relieved breath and entered the room. “I have been so worried. You were out for a whole day Max, a whole day!”
She sat down on the side of the bed and looked him over.
“I’m fine,” he said. “Really.”
She brushed his bangs off his forehead. “Promise me you’ll always be here for me. You’ll never leave me?”
Maxwell reached up and clutched a bunch of material on her dress. “I would never ever leave you here Isabel.” He closed his eyes for a second. “Will you help me up? I need some fresh air.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
Isabel helped him up onto his feet and pulled his old worn out jacket over his shoulders. “Are you okay to walk?” She asked.
Maxwell walked a couple of steps in pain but it slowly got better and he could move easier. “I’ll be fine. Are they home?”
“No they left. Don’t be gone too long Max, they won’t approve if they come back and you aren’t here.”
Maxwell kissed her cheek then left the room slowly.
Once he was outside, he headed to the grass field he quite frequently sat in. Not the grass field but the only one within a distance he could walk. He got madder and madder as he walked and finally when he reached the area he screamed out and kicked at the ground and stones. “Why did you do this? How could you?” He screamed looking up at the sky. “WHY? WHY?”
A sob escaped his lips and he collapsed onto the ground in pain. While tying to catch his breath he prayed, “please… please, help me.” He closed his eyes and let a single tear drip down his cheek.
The wind blew across his face and the crickets zipped in the distance but other then that it was quiet. Maxwell opened his eyes and looked up into the sky. Without thinking he reached out and grasped an object in his right hand. He had no idea how he knew it would be there. He lifted the heavy object up and held it up in front of him. It was a sword.
He found it very strange that a sword would be sitting in such a peculiar place. He lifted it up in front of him and looked at the unusual carvings in the gold handle. There were several shapes and designs and a piece of writing that he could not read because he didn't know how.

When it lurched out of his hands he gasped in shock and watched it as it hovered in the air above him. A light gathered around it and slowly that light turned into a remembered face.
"Hiya Max, how have you been?" The lady that had haunted his mind for eight years was finally standing in front of him again. It had been so long since he had heard anything from her that he had questioned her being real at all.
"You..." Maxwell muttered. "You! Who are you?"
She smiled. She didn't look any different to how he had remembered her. "My, my Max how you've grown. You're as handsome as ever. And that voice... so manly."
Maxwell was not amused. "You are real," he rubbed his eyes. "I have been wondering if I was crazy for eight years and now you decide to turn up."
"I'm sorry! You needed to grow up by yourself."
Maxwell's thoughts drifted back to his innocent parent's. "You," he said suddenly saddening. "You let my parent's die!" He yelled. "Why did you save me and not them? WHY?"
He had been holding this in for eight years, craving and yearning to let out his pain to someone.
The woman was no longer smiling. "It wasn't my job," she said.
Maxwell got up off the ground. "I don't care if it was your job or not! You knew they were going to die and you left them to! My life has been hell because of you!" Tears filled his eyes. "My sister's life is hell because of you."
"Because of me?" The woman stared at him as if he was crazy. "So suddenly I'm the English?"
Maxwell whipped his hand across his eyes. “The English?” He said. He knew the English were responsible and though God said he should love his enemies, he couldn’t. “I want the English to burn in hell for what they did to my parent’s.”
“Do you remember anything of my first visit?” She stepped closer to him and placed her hand on his cheek. “I’m so sorry about your parent’s Max, believe me.”
Maxwell looked into her star eyes and didn’t say anything.
“Your time has come.” She let her hand drop from his face.
Maxwell was frowning.
“You are very aware of the English and their constant battle to win France?”
Maxwell nodded.
“Well you,” she said, “are the one who will stop them.”
“Me?” Maxwell shook his head. “No… No way!”
He saw that the woman was not in the mood to argue with him.
“But I don’t even know how to use a sword!” Maxwell cried.
She smiled. “You do so you just don’t know it yet.”

Maxwell ran home as fast as he could. Half an hour ago, he couldn’t even walk properly but when the woman touched him, he suddenly felt one hundred percent. This was all very strange to him.
“Isabel!” He yelled running inside the house. “Isabel!”
Isabel hurried to him. “What? What is it?”
He grabbed her arm. “ We are leaving. Come gather what you want to take together.”
She frowned. “What? We can’t leave, how will we live?”
“Trust me,” he said.
Isabel gathered up a small bag of things and then met Maxwell outside. “Where are we going?” She asked.
“Chinon,” he answered. “To the Dauphin…”

<><><><><><> Part two.

Captain, there is a message for the Dauphin of France.”
Jehan d’Aulon took the scroll from the messenger. “I’ll take it,” he said. Reliably he got up from his seat and hurried upstairs to the activity room where Charles VII would be. As soon as he walked in the door he straightened his back and held the scroll up. “A message for his majesty,” He said.
One of Charles most trusted advisors took it from his hand and opened it. A sigh escaped his lips. “Ah it’s another one from the man claiming to be a messenger for the heaven’s.” He shook his head, “Honestly…
The Dauphin snatched the letter from him. “I can read for myself,” he said.
His men glanced over his shoulder as he read the letter. Charles glanced at them. “He say’s he’ll be here tomorrow.”
“You must not see him, my lord. We know nothing about him… we don’t even know if he’s from Lorraine!”
The Dauphin frowned. “What difference does it make where he’s from?”
“If he’s from Burgundy it makes a difference.”
His Chubby helper licked his lips. “He says he hears voices, what if he’s a sorcerer?”
“No you see them everywhere this ones different.” Charles was silent for a moment. Finally, he said, “He’s just a peasant. A peasant who cares about his king and want’s to fight for me. Who want’s to see me crowned.”
“Not exactly.” His most trusted advisors were very against him meeting Maxwell. “He says he wants you to give him and army at your expense. Bearing in mind your mother stole every last piece of gold and treasure I fail to see how you may afford such a thing.”
Charles sighed. “I can see him if I want to.” He rolled the letter back up and shoved in into a cupboard. “After all, with half of France in the hands of the English what have I got to loose?”
His friend sighed. “The other half.

<><><><><><><>

“Maria not so high up you will fall!”
Liz Parker used her apron to wipe her face and then reached up to grab hold of the branch above her.
Maria, her best friend and cousin looked down at her. “Stop being such a wimp and hurry up!” She cried.
Liz heaved herself up onto the branch above her and stood wobbly clutching the tree trunk in fear.
“You are just mean,” she said. “You know I am afraid of heights… I don’t think I can go any higher.” She looked down at the ground and swallowed nervously.
Maria stopped climbing higher and looked down at her scared friend. “Just a little higher Liz and then you can reach the apples. You can do it… you aren’t going to fall.” She was as supportive as she could be but Liz didn’t seem to benefit from it at all.
Liz bit her lip and looked up. The only reason she was climbing the silly tree was so she could gather apples to take home for her family. Other wise she never would have even thought of going up there.
She gulped down her fear and reached up in between the leaves to grab an apple. She succeeded in picking one and smiled proudly. “I got one!” She exclaimed.
“That’s great Liz… really. I mean now you just have to get about five more and your whole family with have one each.” Maria giggled.
Liz rolled her eyes. “You make it look so easy.” She put her one apple into the pocket on her apron and then reached up to grab another one. Successfully she managed to grab another, then another, and another, and another…
Then there were no more in her reach and she would have to go up higher to get more. She sighed and reached up to take hold of the next branch. “I swear to god if I make it off this tree alive I will know that someone is looking out for me,” she said.
She lifted her leg up but lost her balance and both of her feet slipped off the branch. “Oh my goodness Maria! Help!” She gripped at the branches with her hands and tried to put her feet back up but they kept slipping.
“It’s okay just put your feet back onto the branch. Liz you can do it,” Maria said.
“My hands are slipping. Maria!”
Maria started to climb down. “I’m coming, stay right where you are.”
One of Liz’s hands slipped and she cried out. “I knew this was a bad idea! I knew it!” All of her apples tumbled out of her apron and hit the ground below with a thud.
Maria said, “Hold on I’m coming,”
Liz’s other hand slipped and she clenched her eyes shut and prepared herself for the immense pain she was most likely about to feel. Instead, she landed softly and comfortably in a pair of arms.
“Oh my god Liz!” Maria screamed. “Are you okay?”
Liz didn’t open her eyes. Why didn’t she feel any pain? Was she dead? Had she died on impact? Was she now floating up to heaven on a big fluffy white cloud?
She started to panic. “Oh my goodness I’m dead aren’t I?” She hyperventilated but still did not open her eyes. “Maria am I going to heaven?” She exclaimed.
There was laughing. “You aren’t dead I can assure you that much.” The voice was not Maria’s.
Liz gasped and slowly opened one eye. She could see a young man looking down at her with a smile on his face. His dark brown eyes were dancing with amusement.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
Liz opened her other eye and looked up at the man. “I’m not sure what I am any more,” she whispered.
“Liz, Liz!” Maria jumped off the tree her feet making a soft thud as they hit the dirt ground below.
The male helped Liz sit up and she realized she was on a large chocolate colored horse. “Oh my,” she said bringing her hand up to her lips. “Oh my.”
“Liz?” Maria looked up at her. “Are you still in shock?”
Liz didn’t take her eyes off the man that was holding her securely in his arms. He was holding her so gently and carefully as she had never been held before in her life. “I’m not dead?” She asked. “Oh my goodness thank you God! I’m not dead!”
She was so happy she flung her arms around the stranger and hugged him. While resting her head on his shoulder she noticed that behind him four other men were sitting on their horses watching the exchange with grins on their faces.
She quickly pulled away. What was that wonderful smell? She realized it was the man in front of her.
Liz,.” Maria shook her head. “Are you going to come down or stay up there forever?”
“I like it up here,” she said without even thinking. Her cheeks turned even redder.
A throaty chuckle escaped the man in front of her.
“Who are you?” Liz asked.
“Max Evan’s.” He smiled. “Nice to meet you…Liz?
She nodded. “I believe you just saved my life Mr. Evan’s!” She smiled brightly. “How can I ever repay you?”
“I know one way,” Maria mumbled.
Maria!” Liz cried in embarrassment. She looked down at the dirt ground and then back at Maxwell. “Thank you Max. I don’t know how to tell you how thankful I am you are here.”
“It’s nothing really.”
Maria collected up the apples off the ground and put them in her apron pocket. “Liz are you nearly done up there? Are you going to ask your soldier home for tea to thank him or are you just going to sit there gawking at him?”
Liz couldn’t believe her embarrassment. She covered her face with her hands. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “It is rude of me. Would you like to accompany us for some tea and … bruised apples?”
Maxwell was about to reply when Maria started to jump up and down.
“Oh I just realized something!” She exclaimed. She looked up at them. “Your not the messenger are you?”
Liz gasped. “Oh my goodness.”
One of his men rode forward so he was beside them. “The one and only,” he said. “Shall we go ahead and make camp Max?”
Maxwell glanced at his friend and then back at Liz’s wide eyes. She continued to sit on his lap and his arms continued holding her.
Finally, he replied, “yes it’s looks like we’ll be here tonight. They aren’t expecting us until tomorrow.”
All of his men nodded their heads to the ladies as they passed and Maria being the flirt she is winked at them.
Liz put her hand on Maxwell’s shoulder. “Does that mean you will join us?” She asked.
“Yes do,” Maria piped up. “We want to hear all about you!”
Maxwell nodded. “I see no reason not to.” He called out to his men. “Alencon!
Alencon turned his head and looked back at Maxwell. “Yes sir?”
“I might not be back for a while,” Maxwell said.
“Yes sir,” Alencon grinned at him then continued on his way.
Maria tapped on Liz’s bare foot. “Looks like you don’t have to get down at all.” She smiled and then looked up at Maxwell. “Let’s go, I’ll lead you.” She grabbed the leather strap on the side of the horse and led them forward down the path.
“You don’t mind sharing your horse with me for a little while do you?” Liz asked.
He shook his head. “No, no of course not.”
Maria led them straight through the market to the Parker family cottage. Outside the door Liz leapt down off the horse and turned back to look up at Maxwell. She put her hand on his knee. “Come on Maxwell don’t be shy.”
Maxwell got off his horse and followed her inside the cottage. Two little girls, one around seven and the other around four was sitting at a wooden table next to a fireplace. An older woman, presumably the mother was standing stirring something in a pot over the fire.
“Maman!” Liz put her hand on Maxwell’s arm and led him out of the door way and into the cooking area. “Maman this is Max Evan’s, he saved my life just now.”
Liz’s mom raised her eyebrows. “Is that right?”
“Yes that’s right!” Maria commented.
Liz’s mother wiped her palm on her apron and then shook Maxwell’s hand. “Well I suppose a thank you is in Order,” she smiled. “And just how did you save my daughters life?”
Maxwell glanced at Liz then back at her mother. “I wouldn’t call it saving her life exactly. More like saving her from some unnecessary pain.”
Liz shook her head. “No for sure I would have died from a fall like that. Stop being modest.” She let go of his arm. “Would you like some tea?”
“Yes thank you.” Maxwell took a seat at the table across from the two little girls.
“Tea is one thing we do have. Not much else mind you…” Liz’s mother put her hands on her hips. “Do you think…somehow the Dauphin will get some food into the city?”
“I hope so,” Maxwell said.
Maria tapped on his shoulder. “I’m off. It will be dark soon and I need to be home. It was nice meeting you Max.”
“Yes of course you too,” Maxwell said.
Maria kissed Liz’s cheek. “You can have my apples I’ll find some more.”
“No Maria you can’t do that you need them too.” Liz shook her head. “Take them.”
“No I will not argue about this.” Maria headed over to the door. “You can tell me all about Mr. Evan’s here tomorrow.”
Liz blushed. “Okay Maria good bye. Thank you.”
Once Maria was gone Liz finished fixing Maxwell’s tea and handed it to him.
“Liz, Liz!” One of the little girls sitting at the table got up on her knee’s and leaned her elbows against the table. “I saw a rabbit today! It ran right past my feet.”
“Oh really?” Liz patted her head. “And did you catch it?”
The little girl shook her head. “No it was too quick!”
Liz smiled at Maxwell. “Max this is Bridgett my little sister.” Bridgett had short brown hair that was tied in braids; her large eyes were beautiful like Liz’s. “And this…” Liz motioned to the older girl. “Is Genevieve my other little sister.”
Genevieve was almost identical to Bridgett.
“But I’m older!” Genevieve cried.
Maxwell chuckled. “I can see that. How old are you Genevieve?”
“I am going to seven soon!” She beamed with pride.
Suddenly the door flew open and a tall man with a grubby face and long hair stood with a boy who looked about thirteen years old. Both of them had lighter blonde hair and animated faces.
“Oh le pere!” Liz held her hands over her chest “You gave me a fright. Max this is my father Pierre and my brother Marcelle.”
Pierre closed the door and pulled off his jacket. Eventually he walked over to Maxwell and shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you,” he said. “Are you new to town? What’s your surname?”
Maxwell nodded. “Yeah I am here to see the Dauphin. My second name is Evans.
“Ah right…” Pierre nodded, stepping away.
Marcelle shook Maxwell’s hand too.
“Marcelle!” Liz laughed. “Max you’ll have to excuse him he thinks he’s a man.”
“I am a man.” Marcelle grinned.
Maxwell smiled. “What’s your hurry?” He asked.
Marcelle turned red and didn’t answer him. Maxwell and Liz laughed.
Liz sat down at the table next to Maxwell. “So Max where have you just come from?” She asked.
“Wait dinners ready. Max would you like to stay and eat with us? It’s the least we can do considering you saved our Lizzie’s life.” Liz’s mother scooped soup into a little metal bowl.
“Yes do,” Liz said.
Maxwell stared at her. “Okay then. Thank you.”
Pierre dipped his hands in a bucket of water and scrubbed them with a brush. “Max Evans… Max Evans, the name sounds familiar.” It suddenly registered in his brain where he had heard it before and he dropped the brush in his hands. “Are you by any chance the messenger we are hearing so much about?”
Liz answered for him. “He is! Can you imagine?”
“Well, well!” Liz’s mother said. “What a surprise. To have someone of such great importance in the house is very rare.”
“I haven’t done anything to deserve recognition of such a high caliber,” Maxwell retorted.
“Yes you have,” Liz said quietly, causing him to turn to her. “You have given the citizen’s of France hope that the English will not steal our homes right from underneath us.”
Maxwell swallowed.
“We realize you haven’t actually had a chance to take action of your words but we have hope you will. You are the only thing we can have faith in to save our country.” Liz put her hand on his shoulder. “You have done much more then you think you have.”
Their eye’s glued together for a brief moment before they both turned away blushing, slightly.
The rest of the family sat down at the table, once the meal was served, and they had said Grace everyone dug in.
Maxwell explained about himself much to everyone’s requests. “Well my sister and I grew up in Domremy but unfortunately when I was ten my parent’s were killed by the English when they attacked our village. After that we were moved away to my Aunt and Uncles cottage further into the country.”
“Oh I’m so sorry about your parent’s,” Liz said.
He looked down at her. “It’s okay I had my sister with me and we helped each other out. It would have been a lot harder had I not had her.”
Liz nodded her head in understanding.
Her father asked, “do you think the Dauphin will just give you the army you have requested?”
Maxwell paused eating. “I am assured he will.”
“By who?” Liz’s mother asked.
“By my guardian angel,” Maxwell said. “I realize it’s hard to believe.”
Liz smiled at him. “Well I believe you have seen one. What did she look like?”
Maxwell chuckled. Though his angel had been dressed in stunning gowns and glowed with beauty he could not compare his thought’s to the girl sitting next to him. At that moment she looked like the most stunning person, he had ever seen. “She had huge, vibrant wings and long glittery hair.”
Marcelle chuckled into his food. “Was she beautiful?”
“Of course she was Marcelle,” Liz said. “All angel’s are beautiful. Right, Max?”
Maxwell shrugged. “Depends what you consider beautiful.” His gaze stayed on Liz for one moment before drifting back down to the food on the table.
“I want to see an angel,” Genevieve said.
Pierre patted her head. “You can see an angel when you can brush your own hair.”
Maxwell chuckled.

After everyone had finished eating Liz and her mother cleared the table and cleaned the dishes with the cold water, they had collected in a bucket earlier. Maxwell talked to Pierre about the English and war while he waited for Liz to come and sit back down.
Once Liz was finished with the dishes she still did not sit down. Instead she apologized to Maxwell and said she would be with him soon.
“Time for bed you two!”
She picked up Bridgett and prodded Genevieve towards the door. “Come on now, don’t give me any trouble tonight.”
“I want to stay out here,” Genevieve whined.
Bridgett struggled in Liz’s arms. “You say that every night! She never let’s you stay up.”
“That’s right and it’s not going to work tonight either. Hey why don’t you say goodnight to Max?”
“Goodnight Max,” Bridgett and Genevieve said in unison.
Maxwell smiled. “Goodnight girls. It was nice to meet you.”
Genevieve blushed. “Will you be back Max?”
Maxwell glanced at Liz then back at Genevieve. “I’d say it’s likely.”
Liz left the room with the two little girls and when she came back she collapsed onto the seat next to Maxwell and buried her head in her hands.
“Marcelle time for bed for you too,” Liz’s mother said.
“What? No, I am not tired.”
“I don’t care if your tired or not. Did I ask if you were tired? No I didn’t. Go and hop in with your sisters.”
When he didn’t move Liz’s mother tugged at his shirt. “Do you hear me? Go I say!”
Marcelle grumbled something then got up off the seat. “Why do I have to sleep with Genevieve and Bridgett? I usually sleep with Liz.”
Liz’s mother sighed. “Well you’re not tonight! That’s enough. Go,” she said.
“They kick me.” He ambled towards the door.
“We do not!” Genevieve cried from inside the other room.
Everyone laughed except Marcelle who was to busy sulking.
“Go to sleep Genevieve!” Liz exclaimed.
Finally Marcelle left and Pierre excused himself soon after. “I have had a very hard day and my old bones are craving relaxation. I hope to see you again Mr. Evans.”
“Goodnight Pierre,” Maxwell said.
Liz kissed her father’s cheek. “Night le pere.”
“Some of these apples are bruised Liz we’ll have to cut them and make stew.” Liz’s mother inspected the apples that the girls had gathered earlier.
“I know, I’ll cut them now.” Liz winked at Maxwell. “They fell on the ground when I fell.”
Liz’s mother laughed. “See Max she’d look like this if it weren’t for you.” She held up a brown apple.
Maxwell laughed.
Liz bit the side of her lip and looked at her mother with pleading eyes.
“Okay I’m going to bed,” her mother said. She shook her head at her daughter. “Lovely to meet you Monsieur Evans. Nothing but a pleasure… Oh and thank you for saving my Lizzie’s life.”
Maxwell nodded. “No need to thank me. Have a good sleep.”
Liz got up and went over to her mother.
He mother whispered to her, “we are sleeping in with the kids, you take our room.” She paused for a second. “If he stays make sure he goes before sun rise or your father will hit the roof.”
Liz nodded. “Okay. Good night.” They kissed each other’s cheeks and then her mother left.
Before going back and taking a seat, Liz grabbed two knives and the apple bowel. She handed a knife to Maxwell and then sat down across from him. “You can help me peel them,” she said.
She drew her legs up to her chest and leaned her head on top of her knee’s. “So tell me,” she said. “Where’s your sister now?”



posted on 8-Oct-2002 10:20:04 PM
<><><><><><>Part three

“My sister is staying with a family we were friendly with before we moved away. She is back in Domremy and has grown a liking to the families eldest son whom she used to play with. She said there was no place for her in my actions against The English and told me to leave without her.”
Liz nibbled on a piece of apple. “You must miss her.”
“Yes,” said Max. “I do but right now all my thought’s are directed to one thing.”
“The siege of Orleans.”
Max nodded. “Something has to be done.”
“You have so much faith that you are the one who can change things. No wonder you were born with this task already handed to you.” Liz bit her lip. “Do you have no worries that it will turn out badly?”
“No,” Maxwell answered.
Liz smiled. “Your angel will stop your death will she?”
Maxwell laughed. “I hope so.”
Liz ran her fingers through her long brown hair. “So how are you going to convince the Dauphin you are worthy of constructing such an important task?”
“I’m not certain yet,” Maxwell said. “I’m sure it will work out one way or another.”
“I’m sure it will too,” Liz agreed.
Maxwell raised questioning eyebrows at her.
“What?” Liz blushed. “I’m just like everyone else I need to have faith in you.”
Maxwell stared at her for a while without saying anything. We are having a silence, Liz thought, however, it is satisfyingly comfortable.
Maxwell looked away and down at his empty teacup.
Liz looked down at hers too. “Refill?”
Maxwell smiled. “I’d love one.”
Liz got up and grabbed his cup. “Max… how old are you anyway?”
He continued to cut up the apple in front of him when he replied, “Nineteen, you?”
She answered, “Nineteen too.”
They shared a shy smile.
“It’s the children God sends to save France,” Liz said quietly.
“Seems silly doesn’t it?”
“What?”
“Sending me, a young man, child if you’d like. Who’d never held a sword before six months ago.” Maxwell reached out and took the tea from her. His fingers brushed the tips of hers, accidentally?
“Thank you,” Maxwell muttered.
Liz returned to her seat across from him.
“Liz”
“Hmm?” She replied while sipping her drink.
“Will you tell me about your life?” Will you drown me in what is you? Will you make me your best friend?
Liz suspected this was his shy way letting her know he liked her. She emitted a small laugh at his uncanny ability of being cute.
“Of course Max as long as you promise me that once you’ve made history on your black stallion you’ll come back here.”
Maxwell smiled. “Okay.”
“You don’t mind being up all night talking to little old me? I apologize for not being very interesting, we can’t all be as fortunate as you.”
“Am I?” Maxwell asked.
“What?”
“Am I fortunate?” He asked.
“Yes. Yes you are.

<><><><><><>

“She left straight after my Grandmother died and I just…” Liz looked down at the apple in front of her. “Well let’s just say I now believe that nothing good lasts.”
Maxwell reached out and touched her hand gently. “I’m sorry about your best friend,” he said comfortably. Liz looked up at him and smiled.
“It was a while ago I can’t believe I still get upset over her moving away! I’m so silly.” She rolled her eyes at herself.
“You don’t think anything good lasts,” Maxwell said. “You are silly.”
Liz laughed. “You are not supposed to agree with me.”
Maxwell moved his hand away from hers and shrugged. “Good things last you just haven’t had a chance to realize it yet. You’ll see…”
“Will I?”
Maxwell nodded. “You will.”
Liz looked away from him towards the window and suddenly jumped up. “Oh my, the suns coming up, imagine that. Boy time just flew by didn’t it? I hate to do this but you have to go my Father…”
“I understand.” Maxwell got up and brushed his hands on his pants.
“I’m sorry,” Liz said.
“Why are you apologizing?” Maxwell asked. “I had a great time.”
“I’m glad,” Liz said. She and Maxwell walked over to the door and she opened it for him. “Hey you promised me you’d be coming back and I’m trusting you to come see me.”
Maxwell smiled. “I will, thank you for the great evening Liz.” He leaned down and pressed his lips to her cheek. “See you later.”
Liz blushed and leaned into him for a hug. She surprised even herself. “Thank you for listening to me!” She laughed.
Maxwell patted her back. “You underestimate yourself.” He walked outside. “See you.”
“See you,” She replied.
Maxwell saluted her then turned and headed down the street. A little way down the road Liz called out to him, “Hey, stay alive okay?”
“I will!” Maxwell called back with a wave of his hand.
Once he was gone from her sight Liz leapt back inside and jumped up and down. She couldn’t keep the smile off her face.

“So?” Maria burst in through the door later that morning.
Liz’s mother laughed. “How did I know to expect that?”
“Maria you are so predictable,” Liz said.
Maria took a seat across from Liz at the table. “Tell me every little detail? Did you… you know?
Liz turned bright red. “No Maria! Stop okay?” She looked at her mother who was laughing giddily at the two girls. “I can’t believe I have to tell you about this…” She looked back at Maria. “We stayed up till sunrise…”
“Ohhh sunrise huh?” Maria winked.
“No its not like that Maria,” Liz explained, “we just talked all night. It was wonderful, we connected on so many levels…”
“Just not the physical?”
Liz threw her head down into her hands.
Her mother roared with laughter.
“Stop! Stop okay, you wouldn’t understand. We had the best time, I feel as if I know everything about him.”
“Well you stayed up till sunrise you probably do know everything about him,” Maria said. “Anyway I’m happy for you, is he coming back?”
Liz sighed. “He said he would.”

<><><><><><>

Jehan d’Alon pushed through the crowds of people to inform The Dauphin of Maxwell’s arrival.
“All right,” came the Dauphins reply. “Thank you.”
His trusted advisors stood on either side of him. They always did.
They continued to try and keep him safe. “Your majesty I urge you not to see this max. It all reeks ‘Burgundian trap’. Supposing He’s an assassin?”
“My, my dear Tramoin, but I’m not even the King yet. Who would want to assassinate me?”
Suspicious laughter caused Charles to turn to La Hine and Gilles de Rais who were standing in the corner eyeing him. Charles found their looks suspicious and turned to look at Jehan D’Alon.
“I suppose I shall have to make a decision.” He sucked in a deep breath and added quietly for no one to hear but Jehan, “why is life so complicated? Sometimes I really wish I could be someone else.”
Jehan nit his lip. “That’s a good idea my lord.”
“What do you mean?” Charles asked.
“Let someone else pretend to be you.”
Charles eyes widened in joy. “Well that’s a brilliant idea. If he’s really been sent by God he’ll discover the trap and if he’s an assassin he’ll kill the wrong man.”
He turned around to the crowd and clapped his hands. “Excuse me? Excuse me! We are going to play a little game.”
The Dauphin searched the room for someone to take his place but found no one he thought could play the part properly. Finally, when he was about to give up he realized the very person perfect for the job was the man who had suggested it in the first place.
“Jehan d’Alon!” He bellowed. “You… you will take my place.” He motioned the servants to put the cloak over his shoulders.
Jehan gasped. “No Sir I can’t…I…I…”
“Aren’t you prepared to die for your king?”
“Of course… it’s just, your majesty I’m not very good at playing this type of game…”
“Nonsense. Sit down.” Charles thrust him down onto the seat. “Well there you go. Bring her up!”
Charles disappeared into the crowd and Jehan sat nervously trying to calm his breathing. When Maxwell entered the room, he headed over to where everyone was motioning. His face dropped when he gazed upon the man claiming to the Dauphin.
“Who are you?” He asked.
Jehan stuttered, “I’m… I’m…”
“He’s His Majesty Charles VI, Dauphin of France.” One of the Dauphins most trusted advisors quickly took over when they saw Jehan was having trouble.
Maxwell eyed Jehan and after a minute said. “I can see you are a good man but you are not the Dauphin.”
Gasps could be heard throughout the whole room.
“I must demand you take me to the Dauphin,” Maxwell said.
Tramoin steeped up. “He is here, why don’t you find him for yourself?”
Maxwell sighed and then turned around to look at the people. Slowly he made his way through them all until he stopped in front of the man he knew was Charles. He let out a relieved breath and went to approach him only to be stopped by three knives swinging in front of his neck and holding him in place.
“Dauphin,” Maxwell started, “I need to speak with you.”
The Dauphin stared at Maxwell. “I am not the King,” he simply said.
“I know you’re not yet but you will be,” Maxwell said.
Charles motioned the knives to be removed and Maxwell stepped up to him slowly. Quietly he said, “I have a message for you.” He looked around and lowered his voice even lower. “You only.
Charles stared at Maxwell for a moment and then nodded. “Okay.”
They headed across the room to a chamber where they could be alone. His most trusted advisors went to follow their Dauphin, but were ordered to stay where they were.
Maxwell and Charles took a seat across from one another before Charles spoke. Finally, he said, “tell me about your signs.”
Maxwell sucked in a deep breath. “It all started one night when I was ten years old…”

“And then six months ago she came to me again.” Maxwell looked into the Dauphins face. “The message was made clear and I knew that God had chosen me, but how? I was nothing but a poor boy with no money. I did not know anything about making war or riding. What could I do to help my country and how?”
“What was the message?” The Dauphin asked.
“She said that I must save France from our enemies and her back into the hands of God.” Maxwell swallowed.
The Dauphin was mute.
And that I Max, would lead you to the alter at mass where you will be crowned.” Maxwell smiled. “The King of France.”

<><><><><><>

Maxwell was led to his own chamber by Jehan d’Alon and two other men.
Jehan started, “Please except my apologies about pretending to be the…”
Maxwell nodded in understanding. “Do you think that maybe I could get a glass of water?”
Jehan motioned for one of the men behind him to go get it. “Yes of course, anything else?”
“A new war horse, a sword, armor, and an artist to make a banner.” Maxwell stared blankly at Jehan.
“Now?”
Maxwell nodded. “Better today then tomorrow.”
Jehan motioned the other man to go and search for them.
Maxwell took a seat on the bed. “Oh I shall also be needing someone who can read and write.”
“Now this I can do,” Jehan said. “I studied at the University of France until the English captured it.”
“I thought you were an archer,” Maxwell said.
“I am,” Jehan explained, “I’m an archer who can read and write. Who do you want to write to?”
“The King of England. I want to give him the chance to leave in peace before I get to Orleans.”

<><><><><><>

King of England, render account to the King of Heaven of your royal blood. Return the keys of all the good cities, which you have seized. I was sent by God to reclaim the royal blood, and am fully prepared to make peace, if you will give me satisfaction; that is, you must render justice, and pay back all that you have taken.
King of England, if you do not do these things, I am the commander of the military; and in whatever place I shall find your men in France, I will make them flee the country, whether they wish to or not; and if they will not obey; I will have them all killed. I comes sent by the King of Heaven, body for body, to take you out of France, and I promises and certifies to you that if you do not leave France my troops and I will raise a mighty outcry as has not been heard in France in a thousand years. And believe that the King of Heaven has sent me so much power that you will not be able to harm my brave army or me.
To you, archers, noble companions in arms, and all people who are before Orleans, I say to you in God's name, go home to your own country; if you do not do so, beware of the me, and of the damages you will suffer. Do not attempt to remain, for you have no rights in France from God, the King of Heaven, and the Son of the Virgin Mary. It is Charles, the rightful heir, to whom God has given France, who will shortly enter Paris in a grand company. If you do not believe the news written of God and I, then in whatever place we may find you, we will soon see who has the better right, God or you.
William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk, Sir John Talbot, and Thomas, Lord Scales, lieutenants of the Duke of Bedford, who calls himself regent of the King of France for the King of England, make a response, if you wish to make peace over the city of Orleans! If you do not do so, you will always recall the damages which will attend you.
Duke of Bedford, who calls yourself regent of France for the King of England, I ask you not to make me destroy you. If you do not render my satisfaction, The French and I will perform the greatest feat ever done in the name of Christianity.


<><><><><><> Part Four

“The archbishop and I have just begun to delicate negotiations with the Burgundians. If we can bring them over to our side…”
“Negotiate by all means, but from a position of strength,” argued the Dauphins mother-in-law. “If the English take Orleans there will be nothing left to negotiate. The rest of the country will be theirs.”
“It will be the height of falling to let this…child lead our army with blessings from the King without verifying his true motives.”
The archbishop cut in, “Tramoin is right. We must be absolutely certain he is not an instrument of the devil.”
The Dauphin sighed. “How can we be absolutely certain about anything?” he walked over to the window overlooking his kingdom. “Sometimes our inhibitions are our best councilors.”
“We must listen to the Mother Holy Church before our inhibitions.”

Maxwell stood in front of the judges in The Mother Holy Church as they clouded him questions.
“And what exactly was this vision wearing?” One of the men asked.
Maxwell swallowed. “I don’t remember.”
“This vision, did it give you anything? An object, a ring or a rosary, anything that can verify your claim?”
Maxwell clenched and unclenched his hands. “She gave me good advice.”
“During your childhood did you gain any sort of military experience?”
“No.”
A different man with long grey hair looked Maxwell up and down. “Well are you practiced in the skills of sword-menship?” He asked.
Maxwell repeated his previous answer, “No.”
“Do you know what a d’jhon quiverick is?”
Maxwell shook his head, no.
All the men glanced at each other. “It is an item of artillery. How do you expect to raise the siege of Orleans if you are ignorant about modern artillery?”
“The road to Orleans is long, I have good Captains with me. I will learn fast believe me.” Maxwell felt as if he were fighting against his own execution, no matter what he said it was somewhat useless.
The main monsieur rubbed his forehead and said, “we believe you Max but we feel that if God wanted us to have faith in you He would send a sign with you. Can you do something? Show us something? A sign to prove you are sent by God?
“I did not come here to perform tricks!” Maxwell swallowed back his temper. “You are all much clever then I am. Me? I don’t know A from B. But this much I do know: While the people of France are bleeding you sit around in your fine clothes trying to deceive me when you are only deceiving yourselves.”
The men all looked at him with blank expressions.
Maxwell continued, “You say you are men of God yet you do not see his hand having guided me through five-hundred leagues of enemy country to bring you his help. Is that not proof enough?” Maxwell sucked in a breath. “Do you still need more signs? Give me an army, take me to Orleans. There you will see the sign I was sent to make.”

<><><><><><>

“You actually said that to them?” Maria asked Maxwell. “But they are the… the Mother Holy Church!”
“It worked didn’t it?” Liz smiled at Maxwell. “He got an army didn’t he?”
Maxwell laughed.
“Still…” Maria got up from the table. “When do you leave for Orleans?”
“Tomorrow morning.”
“Does that mean you’ll be here for the night?” Liz asked hopefully.
Maxwell glanced at her. “I’m sorry I have a chamber in the castle and I will need to get back…”
“Oh.” Liz’s face dropped.
Maria noticed and quickly asked, “but you’ll be here for the afternoon right?” She winked at Liz. “You can go help Liz pick lavender for her mother…”
“Maria…” Liz said. “Maxwell doesn’t want to pick lavender with me.” She looked at him. “Do you?”
“I don’t mind.”
Genevieve, Marcelle, and Bridgett came into the room. Bridgett was on her brothers back with her tiny hands clasped around his neck.
“Liz we are ready to go!” She exclaimed.
Maria looked at the kids then back at Liz. “I can take them with me to my house so you guys can be alone if you want?”
Liz bit her lip and turned to her sisters and brother. “You guys want to go to Maria’s instead?”
“No!” Genevieve yelled. “Liz you promised to take us to the fields.”
“Okay, okay,” Liz sighed. She got up from the table and went to put her shoes on. “Thank you anyway Maria.”
“Whatever. I’m gonna go. Bye Mrs. Parker, bye Max, kids!” Maria held the door open.
Liz’s mother popped her head out through the bedroom door. “Maria tell your mother she can come around for dinner as soon as it gets dark.”
“Okay,” Maria said. “Bye!”
Once Maria was gone and Liz had put her shoes on she took Genevieve’s hand and headed for the door. “Max you sure you want to come?” She asked.
“Of course,” he replied.
They all walked together to the fields. Genevieve next Liz, Liz next to Maxwell, and Maxwell next to Marcelle.
“Bridgett you are too heavy I can’t hold you anymore,” Marcelle complained.
“I can’t walk,” Bridgett said. “I need someone to carry me.”
“You are just lazy,” Marcelle retorted.
Liz shook her head. “I would carry you bunny but you are too heavy for me too. Why don’t you walk a little while?”
Maxwell stopped walking.
“I’ll carry her,” he said.
He helped Bridgett off her brothers back and then lifted her onto his shoulders.
“Max…” Liz, said. “You don’t have too…”
“I want to,” he said, grinning at her.
“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” Bridgett exclaimed waving her hands in the air. “I’m higher then all of you! Look at me! Look at me Liz!”
“I see,” Liz said, looking up at her. “I see you bunny, be careful.”
“Bunny?” Maxwell asked, amused.
Liz blushed. “Ever since she saw a rabbit she won’t stop going on about it,” she explained. “The name just stuck.”
He laughed.
Liz liked his laugh; it was deep and throaty.

Once they reached the lavender fields Maxwell let Bridgett down off his back and she ran off with the other two.
“Don’t go too far!” Liz yelled after them.
She and Maxwell were left alone, the way they wanted to be, and slowly set out to get some lavender.
Liz broke a flower off and brought it up to her nose to smell it. Closing her eyes, she cooed at how nice it was. “I love the smell of lavender. Do you like it?”
Maxwell held a bunch in his hands. “It’s okay,” he answered.
Liz opened her eyes and stepped closer to him. “Everyone loves lavender,” she said, smiling. She put one hand on his chest and with the other, she held the lavender under his nose. “Smell it,” she instructed, looking into his eyes.
Maxwell looked right back. “I am,” he said.
“No see, I don’t think you are appreciating it.” She stepped away and tucked her hair behind her ears. “Got to take in the beauty of little things too Max.”
She picked a handful and started walking away. Maxwell followed her.
“You must be nervous,” Liz said, not turning to him. “About the battle, I mean.”
She stopped walking when she felt Maxwell right behind her. “Not really,” he whispered in her ear.
Her breath caught in her throat.
Maxwell closed her eyes and took a moment to smell her. He reached around her waist and handed her the lavender he’d gathered. She took it from him with trembling hands.
“Hmm,” he mumbled. “You smell better then lavender,” he said.
Liz felt his hands touch her hip and she closed her eyes in satisfaction.
“You really think so?” She asked.
Maxwell opened his eyes and looked down at her heaving chest, then at her tilted head. He couldn’t help himself; he leaned down and gently placed a kiss on her neck.
Liz groaned.
Her skin felt so warm under his lips, he wondered what it tasted like?
“Liz?” He whispered while moving his lips up her neck to her collar.
“Hmm?”
“What are you doing to me?”
She moaned and spun around to face him. Quickly her lips sought out his and he responded by pulling her body flush with his. Slowly he rubbed his lips against hers, waiting, wanting, to part them with his tongue.
“Oh Max…” Liz mumbled. She dropped the lavender in her hands and brought her arms up to rap around his neck.
He deepened the kiss by opening her mouth and massaging her tongue with his.
“Oh God,” He groaned.
Liz started to drift downwards; physically unable to continue up right because of the way he was touching her. One of his hands ran up and down her back and the other came up to swim in her long brown hair. He led her down to the ground without breaking away.
I need to breath, he thought. Before I faint.
Neither of them broke away. Liz got down onto her knees and so did Maxwell, their heads were swimming.
Screw breathing, Maxwell decided. I’ve been breathing my whole life, I don’t need to now!
Liz broke the kiss so she could lie down on her back; Maxwell panted above. What should he do now?
Luckily Liz raised one of her hands up to the back of his neck and thrust his lips back onto hers. “Oh Max…” She moaned.
“Liz!” Genevieve screamed.
Maxwell sprung away and Liz jumped to her feet. She ran across the field to where her sister was standing as quickly as she could.
“What’s wrong?” She demanded.
Bridgett started to cry. “Look!”
Liz looked over at Marcelle who was standing in front of a dead sheep. She sighed, “Is that it? You have got the be kidding me!”
Maxwell came up behind her. “What is it?” He asked.
Liz pointed to the dead animal.
Genevieve exclaimed, “Liz we can’t just leave it there!”
Liz scrunched up her nose. “And what do you suggest we do with it?”
“Bury it,” Marcelle suggested.
“No way,” Liz cringed. “Leave it alone. Don’t touch it…eww it smells. Come on move away.”
Bridgett trudged over to Maxwell and took his hand. “Max will you let me ride on your shoulders again?”
Please,” Liz reminded her.
“Please Max?” Bridgett looked up at him with begging eyes.
Maxwell smiled. “Sure.”
They left the sheep alone and Liz quickly grabbed some lavender before they left. The remainder of what she had picked before stayed on the ground.
On the walk back, Maxwell removed one of his hands from Bridgett’s legs and reached down to take hold of Liz’s hand. She looked up and him and they shared a shy smile.

<><><><><><>

“I cannot believe they are sending a child. Does anyone know if he even knows how to ride a horse?”
A horse galloping could be heard in the distance and slowly Maxwell could be seen coming towards them.
“He knows.” One of the men pointed.
Maxwell reached them. He was wearing his armor and in one hand, he carried his banner. “Are you sent by Lord Dimoure…?”
“Yes we are,” interrupted what Maxwell guessed to be the leader of the little group of men.
“Where are the English?” Maxwell asked.
“Everywhere. Where is the food?”
“It’s coming. I rode on ahead,” Maxwell explained. “I have a message for the Captain of the English army. Can you take me to him?”
“He is on the other side of the river.”
Maxwell frowned. “Who gave the order for me to be brought to this side of the river?”
Maxwell’s men came galloping up behind him and Jean Pthon de Xantrailles laughed and slapped one of the men in front of Maxwell on the back. “It’s bloody good to see you again!” He said.
They shared a laugh.
“This is Lord Dimoure,” Jean Pthon de Xantrailles explained.
“Then Lord Dimoure will you show me to the other side of the river?” Maxwell asked, turning his horse around and heading off.
“Wait! Wait!” cried Dimoure. “Fine go now but not with me. You may have a duty to God but I have a duty to my people and my people are starving. Right now, I am going to take the food back to the city. If you would please calm down it would be my honor to accompany you to Orleans.”

The group of men including Maxwell rode casually into Orleans. A crowd of people had gathered and touched Maxwell’s horse and legs as he rode by.
Max,” They mumbled.
Maxwell looked down at them all and continued on his way. As soon as they reached Lord Dimoure’s taburn Maxwell climbed off his horse and went inside.
Jehan d’Aulon watched as Maxwell slammed all the windows where villages were standing looking in.
“Max calm down. You can’t blame those people, they have been hearing about you for weeks,” he said.
Maxwell lost his temper and turned to the group of men standing around a map. “There is nothing to hear! And why is there nothing to hear? Because I haven’t done anything yet. And why haven’t I done anything yet? BECAUSE NONE OF YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME!
Lord Dimoure stared up at Maxwell from the table. “Why don’t you join us? We are about to discuss the campaign.”
Everyone gathered around the map on the table except Maxwell who could see from where he was.
Lord Dimoure continued to explain, “So from here, Saint-Loup has the greatest forces. But it seems that in the last few days they have been departing from this fort here.”
“What about this big thing here?” Etienne Vignolle asked pointing to the castle.
“That’s the Tourelle. The English were going to launch an attack from it but we bust down the bridge.”
“I did!” cried the man behind him.
“Yeah,” Dimoure laughed. “Which should keep them quiet for a while. Now my hunch is we come from here.” He pointed to a building to the left of the Les Tourelles.
“And what does Max think?” Gilles de Rais asked.
“I don’t think I leave that to God,” Maxwell said. “I’m nothing in all of this. I’m just the messenger.”
“So what’s the message?” Dimoure asked.
“We give the English a last chance to go home,” Maxwell said.
“And if they refuse?”
“If they refuse we re-cross the river and attack here, Moulevard des tourelles.” Right were the English were staying.

<><><><><><> Part five.

Maxwell and Jehan d’Aulon sat together on the grass not far from the English’s resting-place.
“Do you think the English will leave on their own?” Maxwell asked, while he gazed up at the stars. He was leaning back resting on his hands with his legs spread out. The fire blazed in front of them and hundreds of Maxwell’s soldiers rested behind them.
Jehan d’Aulon swallowed. He remembered what the English had said when they heard Maxwell’s proposal. “No I don’t think they will leave,” he answered.
Maxwell sighed. “Then tomorrow we will go to battle,” he said.
Jehan looked at him. “You aren’t worried at all are you?”
“No,” Maxwell replied not turning his gaze away from the stars. “What’s to be afraid of?”
Jehan bit his lip. “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow,” he admitted.
Maxwell got up and headed back to the shack he was sleeping in. “I can’t wait for tomorrow,” he said.

The next morning Maxwell sprung up from his sleep and jumped off the bed.
“What’s wrong?” Jehan asked, from the other side of the room as he rubbed his eyes.
"French blood is flowing! - My arms, give me my arms!" He demanded.
Soon after they went outside and leapt on their horses. Sure enough, the battle had begun without them and some of his men were coming back on their horses.
“What’s going on?” Maxwell yelled at Etienne Vignolle.
He whipped his hand across his mouth. “We thought we’d get up early and give them a shock… get to them before they had time to think but they were ready,” he said.
Maxwell gritted his teeth in anger. “Who gave you this order?” He yelled. He kicked the side of the horse and galloped in the direction of the battle. “Forward French hearts – follow me!”

The French were being whipped, and were falling back. But when Maxwell came charging through the disorder with his banner displayed, crying “Forward, men - follow me!” there was a change; the French turned about and surged forward like a solid wave of the sea, and swept the English before them, hacking and slashing, and being hacked and slashed.
The English fought a retreating fight, but in a fine and gallant way, and Maxwell’s men drove them to their fortresses foot by foot, their reserves on the walls raining showers of arrows, cross-bow bolts, and stone cannon-balls upon them.
Finally the bulk of the enemy got safely within the works and left Maxwell’s men outside with piles of French and English dead and wounded for company.
Maxwell’s heart was overflowing with the joys and enthusiasms of war, he cried out when he saw a pause in battle–
“I tell you we will not budge until this place is ours. We will carry it by storm. Sound the charge!”
The martial notes pealed out, the troops answered with a yell, they came against formidable work, whose outlines were lost in its own cannon smoke, and whose sides were spouting flame and thunder.
Maxwell was here and there and everywhere encouraging the men and he kept them to their work.
It was when he leapt off his horse and started climbing a ladder up the side of the castle that Jehan d’Aulon screamed out for him. Maxwell was too busy motioning his men upwards with waves of his hand that he did not notice the opposition above him with an arrow directed straight at his chest.
Jean Dunois, along with many more of Maxwell’s men yelled for him to watch out but when Maxwell finally turned his head to look upwards it was too late. The arrow was flung at him and pierced his body right on his left breast. Maxwell did not cry out nor did a single drip of fear pass over his eyes, he simply let go of the ladder and plummeted backwards to be caught by his men and rushed off to safety.

He was laid back on a wooden bed while men flocked around him.
“Max?” Jehan waved his hand in front of his dazed, sweaty face. “Can you hear me?”
“Of course I hear you,” Maxwell mumbled. Someone knocked the arrow in his body and he groaned in pain.
“Be careful!” Jehan yelled.
“You have to remove the arrow,” Maxwell panted. “Now,” he added.
“No wait for the…”
Maxwell shook his head. He could see none of them were going to do it so he put both his hands on it, one at the bottom and one half way up it and yanked it out of his chest. As he did it a cry of pain escaped his lips and blood started to pump its way out through his wound. “Well,” Maxwell said, closing his eyes and trying to catch his breath. “At least that’s one less we have to worry about,” And he threw it on the floor and passed out.
While he slept, he was drowned in dreams of Liz. With her glowing, smiling, face and her vibrant body, that ached gracefulness and begged to be touched by him. He’d met many women in his nineteen years of living but never had he been so drawn to any of them as he was with Liz. He was positively entrapped with everything about her, the things like her inviting friendly family, and her hilarious cousin and best friend, just added to what made her wonderful. She seemed to be perfect. She was Grace, beauty and elegance, courtesy and decency, honor, he felt as if he were growing into a better person when he was with her. She was his growing grace.
When he awoke, it was with a smile on his face. Unfortunately, it did not stay there for very long. He got up off his bed without enduring much pain and he knew the only reason for that was because of his angel. She had helped him yet again and for that, he knew it was time to earn her kindness. He headed outside to see all his men asleep on the ground and hissed to himself in annoyance.
“That’s right!” An English voice bellowed. “We sent your little bitch back to Hell where he belongs!”
Maxwell gritted his teeth and headed in the direction of the voice. The earth was misty and it was hard to see but he quickly set his eyes on the man yelling and laughing up in the English castle.
“Do you hear me?” He called. “What are ye going to do without your precious leader now?”
Maxwell clenched his fists. “I hear you!” He yelled back. “May God forgive you for I NEVER will!” He started heading back to his men. “I NEVER will!”
The English man stood dumbfounded shocked beyond words.
Maxwell walked through his men shaking them and waking them. “Get up! It’s time to fight! Get up!”
Slowly they all arose.
Jehan hurried out of their shack and demanded to know why he wasn’t lying down.
“I am fine,” Maxwell trudged over to the portable wooden fort with small wooden wheels. It was facing downwards in the mud and he demanded it be brought back upright. His sleeping soldiers jumped into action.
“I know you are all tired!” Maxwell yelled leaping on his horse. “But if you follow me now I assure you the greatest victory in history! Even if the English were hanging from the sky by their fingertips, I know we would tear them down by nightfall! Follow me now and you will be rewarded!” Maxwell charged forward. “To the assault, friends, to the assault—the English are ours! It is the appointed hour!”
His men heaved the fort back up right and thrust it forward with great force. By Maxwell’s orders they ran it along the land straight up to the English moat and pushed it in. It fell forward giving them a bridge to cross the creak and Maxwell was first to cross with his sword in the air.

During three hours the tide ebbed and flowed, flowed and ebbed; but at last La Hire, who was one of Maxwell’s main men, made a final and resistless charge and the bastille St Loup was theirs. They gutted it, taking all its stores and artillery, and then destroyed it.
When all Maxwell’s army was shouting itself hoarse with rejoicings, a cry for the General was sounded, for they wanted to praise him, glorify him, and do him homage for his victory. Nonetheless, they had trouble finding him; and when they did find him, he was off by himself, sitting among a ruck of corpses, with his face in his hands, crying. With his pure and young heart filled with the pity and the tenderness that are natural to it. He was thinking of the mothers of those dead friends and enemies.

They marched back to the city mighty and proud, harmed but relieved, tired but overjoyed, and were greeted with ecstatic villages, peasants, and prisoners. After all they had seen in seven months that the siege had endured, this was the first chance they had had to rejoice over a French exploit. They and the bells went mad. Maxwell was their darling now, and the press of people struggling and shouldering each other to get a glimpse of him was so great that they could hardly push their way through the streets at all.

<><><><><><>

Several days later Maxwell rode into Chinon by himself and was quickly surrounded by villages clapping and cheering. All he could do was smile and blush, he really didn’t need all of this.
“Max!” Liz exclaimed. “Max!”
He scanned the crowd for the familiar, stunning, face of the girl he couldn’t stop thinking about and quickly spotted her off to his left standing in front of her little house. She had her littlest sister, Bridgett, on her back and Maria at her side. She was smiling and to Maxwell she appeared to be glowing more then his guardian angel did.
“Hiya Max!” Maria waved.
He hopped off his horse and when he reached them, he was enveloped in a hug by not just Liz, but Maria as well.
He winced in pain at their contact with his wound and jumped back slightly.
“Oh!” Liz cried. “You are hurt!” Her smile faded and she grabbed his hand. “Come in side, you must be exhausted, sit down at the table. On the other hand, would you like to lie down? I can make you some tea?”
Maria laughed. “Liz, babe, give the boy a chance to breath!”
Liz helped Bridgett off her back and turned all her attention to Maxwell and Maxwell only. “What happened?” She asked, deeply concerned, “does it hurt a lot?”
All Maxwell could do was chuckle. “I’m fine, I take it you heard of our victory?”
Did we, ever!” Maria patted his back and when he winced, she bit her lip apologetically. “I think I should just… go stand out of the way before I accidentally kill you.”
Liz laughed. “Yes we heard of your victory!” She had to fight the urge to lean up and kiss him. “I told you, you could do it didn’t I?”
“I suppose you think everyone should be cheering for you, Liz?” Maria teased. “What good would a hero be without his supporters?”
“No good,” Maxwell said. Liz led him over to the table and sat him down.
“Can I get you anything? Is there anything you need?” She asked.
Maxwell stared up at her shining face. “I have everything I need now,” he said.
Liz blushed.
“Can I please kiss you?” He asked.
Liz turned even redder. “If you want to, but…”
Maxwell didn’t let her finish he leaned up and placed a loving, not quite passionate, but not innocent, kiss on her lips. She was smiling when he pulled away.
“Thank you,” he mumbled.
She swallowed, nodded, and then got up. “How long are you here for?” She asked.
“Three days,” he answered watching her face. “If you’ll let me,” He added.
Her eyes widened. “Of course,” she said.
While she made him tea and food Maria sat across from him and pounded him with questions.
“How many people did you kill?”
Maxwell looked at her surprised. “Uh…”
“Maria!” Liz whacked her arm. “Max you don’t have to answer that.”
“Thank God,” He mumbled. “Maria I don’t know…hopefully none?”
“It’s starting to rain,” Liz’s mother said as she walked in through the door with Genevieve and Marcelle at her side. “Oh hello Max!”
Maxwell did a little wave. “Hello.”
“It’s hard to believe we have such a hero in our house, I still can not come to terms with it. Congratulations on the victory!”
“Thank you,” Maxwell said. He would have told her not to think of him as a hero but he was watching Liz’s small hips move as she bounced around the kitchen and he found it hard to focus on anything else. Where had these feelings come from? He didn’t know how to describe them but to him it was like a need. A need to see her, a need to hear her voice, a need to feel her around him and a need to touch her. He wasn’t completely naïve, he knew about his bodies wants and aches for…relief, but he had never experienced such a painful throb of attraction to a female before.
Liz turned around and caught his gaze for a second. “Are you okay?” She asked, smiling. She was always smiling; Maxwell noticed that about her. She was so jolly all the time.
“I’m wonderful,” he replied.
“Good.”
Once she had finished making his food she brought it over and put it in front of him. “And after you have finished that you can have some apple stew if you’d like?”
Apple stew?” Maxwell asked, remembering the night they met.
The teacup in her hands started to shake so she quickly put it down. “Yes,” she said. “Apple stew.”
He smiled.
“You must be very hungry, did they feed you well in Orleans?”
He nodded. “They fed me well enough.”
Maria watched them with adoring eyes. How cute they are, she thought. Genevieve and her mother were sitting on two wooden chairs next to the fire and were folding clothing. Bridgett disappeared into one of the bedrooms.
“Max,” Liz said. She took a seat next to him. “Maria and I were wondering how the English actually captured Orleans to begin with, do you know?”
He nodded his eyes all over her. As best he could, he tried to explain, “Well, Laying siege to a town or castle often means waiting near the doors of the besieged fortress until its inhabitants and defenders are starved out.”
“How terrible,” Liz’s mother commented.
“Yeah. Then on such occasions, the most ingenious weapons, like modern artillery, helps gain ground, thus complementing other, more archaic techniques such as climbing the undermining the high wall of the fortress.”
Maria and Liz shared a puzzled look.
Maxwell laughed. “Do you want me to try again?”
“No it okay,” Liz said, giggling. “And this is what happened to Orleans?”
“Yes.”
Okay,” Maria said.
Maxwell grinned. “I learnt that on the journey there,” he explained.
“What else did you learn, oh-genius-soldier?” Liz teased.
“A few other things…”

<><><><><><>

“You can sleep here in this room, away from the children.” Liz’s mother was trying to be as best hospitable as she could. “My husband and I will sleep in the other room… Liz, hmm. What to do with her?”
“She can share with me,” Maxwell offered, grinning slightly.
“I’m sure you would like that,” Liz’s mother said, giggling. “If its okay with the both of you I don’t have a problem with it but her father most probably will.” The way Mrs. Parker saw it, her daughter was old enough to make her own decisions and if she wanted to sleep in the same bed with a man, it was up to her.
“Oh,” Maxwell said.
“Yeah.”
Liz popped her head in the door. “Is everything okay in here? Mom what are you saying to him?”
Her mother replied, “Nothing, nothing…” She winked at Maxwell. “Oh well, her father be damned. We don’t have enough room for Liz in the other room.” She headed towards the door and before she left she turned around and said, “Sweet dreams.”
“Goodnight,” Maxwell replied. He liked that woman.
Liz stayed in the doorway. “Are you going to sleep now?” She asked shyly.
Maxwell nodded. “Yes, I am very tired,” he replied.
She finally walked into the room. “Well I have to do the dishes and then I will sleep, is this bed good enough for you? Probably not what you are used to?”
“I am used to the ground,” Maxwell said. He was the one smiling now.
“Oh,” Liz said. She let out a little chuckle. “Well then this is better.”
She touched his chest where his bandage was. “Does that hurt?” She asked.
“It’s not that bad,” he replied.
She looked up at him with shy, adoring eyes. Caressingly her hand moved further to the left and he winced and put his hand on top of hers.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Its okay,” he said. He let go of her hand and she let it drop.
She stepped away. “I have to go do dishes,” she said, heading for the door. “Goodnight.”
Maxwell did not reply.
While he was in bed, he could hear her humming as she moved around in the other room. He wanted to stay awake, he tried to fight of the sleepy man fend but he could not, it was too soothing so slowly he drifted off.


posted on 8-Oct-2002 10:22:41 PM
<><><><><><>Part six.

There had been few greater moments in Maxwell’s life then this morning. Liz was caressing his cheek when he woke up, and he could smell her blueberry breath on his face in warm puffs. He loved that smell.
When he opened his eyes she blushed and pulled away. “Ah I’ve been caught,” she said.
He couldn’t help but laugh.
She smiled shyly and went to get off the bed. Maxwell wasn’t having any of it; he reached for her and pulled her to him.
“Where do you think you are going?” He asked.
“To make breakfast. You aren’t hungry?”
He shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”
“Oh,” she mumbled.
He smiled
"Max?" She asked very quietly. "Can I ask you a question?"
Maxwell stared into her eyes, he could tell she was unsure of something.
"Of course," he answered.
He didn't want her to be unsure about anything today, he wasn't, he was certain he was going to enjoy it.
"How do you feel about me?" She asked. "I mean..."
"I know what you mean," Maxwell cut her off. "And my answer is..."
"Yes?"
He whispered in her ear, “I’m in love with you.”
She blinked. “What?”
“You heard me.”
The side of her mouth started to twitch. “You… you are? I mean, really?
He closed his eyes and rolled onto his back. “Is it that hard to believe?” He asked.
Liz bit her lip and stared down at his face. What to do? She wished she had more experience. Deciding she couldn’t just leave him lying there without saying anything, she leaned down and kissed his lips. “I love you too,” she whispered into his mouth.
Maxwell ran his hand up her back and intertwined his fingers in her hair; slowly he drew circles on her scalp, circles, and circles…
When Liz lay down on top of him and nestled herself in-between his legs he broke the kiss and looked into her big animated eyes. After staring at her in silence for several minutes he asked, “Why are you so stunning?”
She blushed and looked away from his intense stare.
“No, no, look at me,” he instructed. He put his hand under her chin and prodded it upwards, when he saw her eyes again he kissed her again.
She moaned. “Oh Max…”
Her hand grew a mind of it’s own and ran up under his shirt, she could feel he was very muscled and suddenly decided she wanted to see just how well sculptured he was. She didn’t want to hurt his wound so she got Maxwell to remove it himself, when it was gone he put it down beside them and looked up at her. Her breath caught in her throat.
“What?” He smiled, bringing her mouth back down on his. “What, do you like what you see?”
She chuckled. “You could say that,” she said.
Her hands continued to roam and Maxwell’s did too. He removed his hand from her hip and slid it down to clutch her bottom, causing her to grind into him more. A moan escaped his lips.
She smiled to herself and lifted one hand to undo the ties at the neck of her dress. His lips moved down her jaw to her throat were they nibbled and teased her skin. Liz could feel his arousal pressed into her and she rubbed herself up and down against it slowly…
“Oh, my god Liz,” Maxwell clenched his teeth and his eyes shut.
“Open your eyes,” She whispered.
Maxwell opened his eyes.
“Am I the only person who gets the pleasure of having you follow commands?” She asked, grinning.
He laughed. “Yes, as a matter of fact you are,” he said.
She kissed his lips. “I love you,” she repeated.
He kissed her back. “I love you too.”
Liz grabbed his hand, brought it up to the opening in her dress, the top was untied, and she motioned him to undo it further. With shaky hands he pulled the on the cords so slowly more and more skin was visible.
Liz pressed her face into his neck and bit her lip as he slid his large, warm hand into her dress and cupped her bare breast in his palm. He grasped her skin and needed her nipple in-between his fingers…
Next door, they heard a thump and one of her sisters talking, then a: “Liz!”
Max slipped his hand out of her dress and they shared a quick kiss before she got up off him. Just as she was tying her, dress back together, her two little sisters burst into the room.
“Liz! There you are,” Genevieve said.
Bridgett came and jumped on the bed and crawled over to Maxwell who was still trying to calm his breathing and get some control. He was thankful for the blanket covering his lower body.
“Bridgett,” Liz said, grabbing her. “Come on leave Max alone, he’s just waking up. Come on… let’s go make breakfast.”
Liz smiled at Maxwell before leaving the room with the two girls. Maxwell couldn’t help it; he let out a howl of laughter.
He could hear Liz giggling in the other room.

<><><><><><>

Maxwell and Liz desperately wanted to leave the house but the problem was Liz’s sisters wouldn’t leave them alone for two seconds and they had no way of escaping. They sat together at the dinner table in front of the fire and patiently entertained the two little girls.
Liz’s mother watched them with helpless abandon, she had tried many times to get the two girls to leave but she was having about as much luck and Maxwell and Liz were.
“Oh is that right?” Liz mumbled holding her head up in her hands. “And what did you do then?” She couldn’t care less.
“Oh she was so naughty!” Genevieve exclaimed. “She took it anyway.”
Maxwell and Liz shared an exasperated sigh.
“Bunny you shouldn’t take things when you’ve been told not too. Especially when it’s in church.” Was this ever going to end?
It was nearly two in the afternoon!
She got up from her seat. “I’ll be right back okay? I’m just going over there to talk to Maman,” she explained.
Maxwell watched her go and then turned to the little girls and said, “hey I know why don’t we play hide and go seek and you two can go hide first?”
“Oh yes!” Bridgett exclaimed.
“Is there nothing you can do?” Liz whispered to her mother. “Please?”
“I’ve tried, they want to be around you, I don’t think there is anything I can do.”
Liz thought for a second. “Call them into the bedroom and Max and I will make a run for it?”
Her mother laughed. “You’re so anxious to get away, you remind me of me when I was first in love. Okay I’ll call them in but you are going to have to sprint.”
Liz’s eyes widened. “Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Her mother rolled her eyes and walked into the bedroom. “Bridgett, Genny come here will you I wan to talk to you!” She called.
“But we are going to play hide and go seek Maman!” Bridgett called back.
“No you’re not, come here this instant!”
The two girls trudged into the other room grumpily and before Maxwell could even utter a sound Liz had collected a rug off the back of a chair and was pulling him by his hand out the front door. They ran down the road as fast as they could and out across the field to a secluded creek running down in amongst the trees.
Maxwell thought they would stop running when they reached the shelter, but no, Liz tugged him down the middle of the shallow creek, giggling the whole way. The water splashed up their legs like glitter being blown by a fan, by the time they were out, and running across another field, their lower halves were saturated and dripping.
When they stopped, it was right in front of an old abandoned barn. Before they even caught their breath they quickly came together for a heart soaring, passion-filled kiss.
When they pulled away Liz smiled up at Maxwell and said, “Finally!
He laughed.
“Come on let’s go inside,” she instructed, motioning to the barn.
The door was red, well at least it used to be, now the paint was chipping off the wood. When Maxwell pushed it, open it fell out of its frame.
Liz giggled, “not exactly a fancy castle, is it?”
Maxwell took her hands and pulled her inside. There were many bundles of hay scattered around and the wooden walls had holes in them letting the sunlight shine in. At the back there was a ladder leading up to a hidden area.
“What’s up there?” Maxwell asked.
Liz let go of his hand and walked over to the ladder. “Come on I’ll show you,” she said.
Maxwell climbed up the ladder after her and when he reached the top, he discovered a lovely secluded area with a hole in the roof so you could look up at the sky. Liz spread the blanket she had brought out on the hay and lay down on her back.
“I always come here at night and stare at the stars through that hole up there. Maman gets so mad at me when I accidentally fall asleep and don’t turn up till the morning.” She chuckled.
Maxwell watched her, she closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath her face showed her joy. Why was she beautiful? Why was she always so happy, vibrant, and stunning?
He lay down next to her and propped himself up on his elbows. She turned her head and looked at him with a smile on her lips.
“What?” She blushed. “Stop looking at me like that, you are embarrassing me!”
He leaned down and kissed her lips. When he pulled away he spoke softly, “my angel told me that I would be rewarded for my work to help France and when I was young I didn’t know what she meant.”
Liz looked up into his eyes. “You understand now?” She wondered.
He nodded. “She said I would receive love from one person, so much that I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” his voice went so quiet he was talking in a whisper.
Liz rapped her arms around his neck and pecked his lips. She said, “is that right? Have you found it?”
He pressed his lips to her forehead, her chin, and her mouth. “I’ve found it,” he said.
Liz felt tears sting her eyes. “Is it me?” Her voice cracked.
“It’s you,” he answered.
She stared up into his non-faltering stare and felt as if she were crumbling before him. “How can we have such a connection? How can we feel so much for one another so soon?”
Maxwell ran his hands through her hair and down her neck. “It was in our plans when we were made,” he replied.
Liz smiled. “Who knew the Messenger from Lorraine could be so hopelessly romantic?”
Maxwell chuckled. “Only for you. You only,” he said. “Not only did you drown me in your life when we first met, you entrapped me too. How is it possible you weren’t already taken?”
Liz bit her lip. “I was waiting for the messenger,” she said.
When they kissed Liz started removing Maxwell’s shirt and Maxwell started removing her dress. They knew what they both wanted. His tender hands lifted her hips to pull the dress up her legs and she allowed him to pull it over her head. When their clothing was all gone Maxwell lay on top of Liz tenderly kissing and massaging her skin, she had her eyes closed and her lips were slightly ajar. She was very relaxed apart from the fast beating of her heart in her chest.
Maxwell sucked on her neck and ran his hands down her neck, caressing, feeling, becoming her. When he kissed his way down to her breasts Liz moaned and arched into him, wanting to be one with him instantly but not wanting the feelings he was causing to ever go away. He ran his tongue over her large pink nipple while his hands ran down her thighs opening her up for him.
Liz reached down and took hold of his arousal leading it to her opening. There she let go and reached for his hand to intertwine their fingers together at their sides. He stared into her eyes and for a few silent seconds they spoke without words. When he finally entered her Liz groaned deep in her throat and clenched his hand in hers tighter; she didn’t know what to think of the feeling that stirred within her, pain and pleasure mixed into one. All she knew was she didn’t want it to end.
“Oh Liz,” came Maxwell’s voice thick with love and longing. “Oh do you feel that?”
She nodded; there was no way she could speak.
They kissed.
“Are you okay, I’m not hurting you?” Maxwell asked.
“Hmm,” Liz mumbled. “I’m fine, I can’t believe you are in me Max, please…”
Maxwell left his lips on hers when he pulled out of her and thrust back in with pleasurable force. Tingling, sparks, what else could you say to describe the exquisite moment.
“Please Max,” Liz moaned. “Please… oh, ahh.”
He kissed her eyelids and then the side of her nose, finally he thrust into her harder and harder again.
They both moaned together, heart beats, bodies, thoughts, lips, all together.
Liz was sure she would burst.
Maxwell paused his movement and took a second to admire her emotional face. He wanted to remember this second; he wanted to take a picture in his mind. Liz knew what he was doing and did nothing but kiss his lips gently and tenderly.
With one last thrust Maxwell moaned and emptied his seed within her. Was there no greater natural moment other then the natural miracle of making love? Neither Maxwell nor Liz thought so.
After a few minutes of silence and palpitating hearts, Liz opened her moth and against Maxwell’s neck said, “your angel said she would always be watching you.”
Maxwell’s throat moved up and down against her face as he chuckled.
She continued, “as in now?
Maxwell rolled them over and looked down into her big brown eyes. “Let’s hope not,” he said, delight painted all over his face.


<><><><><><> Part seven


Liz sat naked on top of Maxwell’s chest and ran her fingers up and down in between his pecks. She ran them gently over his wound and bit her lip sadly when he winced.
“Will it heal completely?” She asked, worried.
Maxwell nodded. “It will,” he replied. His hands were on her knees drawing lazy patterns while he rested with his eyes closed. For a long time, the only noise that could be heard was their breathing.
Liz took one of his hands in hers and brought it up to her lips. With his hand still to her mouth she asked, “What types of modern artillery do you use when you fight, Max?”
Maxwell opened one amused eye and a smile seeped across his lips. “What?” He asked.
“You said the enemy uses ingenious weapons, like modern artillery, to help gain ground. You must use it too, right?” She moved his hand so it was cupping her breast and then ran his fingers down her stomach.
“Right,” he said, trying to keep himself from moaning at the sigh of her. “Well heavy artillery is used during the battle such as giant crossbows.” He pulled his hands from hers and flipped them over so quickly Liz never even saw it coming.
“And what else?” She asked, breathless.
“'Bombardes', 'scorpions', 'trebuchets' and catapults.” Maxwell’s voice was thick with passion.
Liz moaned.
His lips sought out hers and he made love to her mouth and tongue as if it was ice cream, he swirled his tongue around…

Outside there was a grumble of thunder and then a few seconds later rain could be heard pouring down on the roof. Maxwell grumbled something and Liz laughed against his mouth.
“Getting a little wet their Max?”
The hole in the roof was allowing all the rain in and it was splattering onto his lower back and bottom. Maxwell didn’t seem to care because he continued to torture her with his mouth, only this time his lips were on her neck and were moving lower. Liz spread her legs apart and rapped one of them around his waist allowing him entry into her center.
“Oh Max!” She cried as he entered her.
He thrust into her and she gritted her teeth to keep from screaming.
I want to see your soul, Liz” He panted into her ear.
“Oh yes, Max.” Liz panted back, her hands were in his hair clutching his head and urging his lips back to hers. “You OWN my soul.” She trembled.
When she came, tears were in her eyes. She blinked them away but not before Maxwell saw them and tucked her hair behind her ears.
“Did I hurt you darling?” He asked.
“No,” Liz answered, “but you will won’t you?”
Maxwell placed a comforting kiss on her lips. “What are you talking about? I’d never hurt you Liz,” he ran his thumbs up and down over her cheekbones. “I love you.”
Liz looked up into his concerned eyes. “Max. The English want to kill the messenger who took Orleans from their clutches, who are they going to go for first when you go to battle again.”
“Me,” Maxwell answered, his gaze not faltering. “And that’s exactly what I want. Have you forgotten I have a guardian angel? Who can hurt me?”
“You may have an angel but your not immortal,” Liz said. She pecked his nose then pushed him up away from her. She went over to a big hole in the wall and stared out at the grey land being pounded at by the rain.
She drew her bare legs up to her bare body and rested her chin on her knees. He watched her for a few moments and when she came back, she was suddenly cheerful again. He pretended too.
“Have you made any friends?” She asked. “Like with your men? Do you joke around and stuff… you know be guys?”
Maxwell kissed her lips passionately. When he paused he asked, “what do you want from me?”
She looked down into his eyes. She couldn’t tell what his meaning was so she said, “Maybe we should get back? It’s getting dark.”
“No,” Maxwell said. “We aren’t leaving here ever.”
She snuggled into the non-wounded side of his chest and kissed his shoulder. “Maybe we should at least move over there where the roof isn’t broken, we are getting quite wet here.”
She watched his face brake into a cheeky grin.
She laughed. “You like that don’t you? You and I rolling around all wet and shivering turns you on doesn’t it?”
Maxwell flipped over so he was now on top of her again. He liked the power he had over the situation when he was on top. “Everything about you turns me on,” he said. He kissed her neck, “Your smooth skin.” He dragged his lips down over her collarbone and stopped when he reached her breasts. “Your perky, full breasts.” He ran his tongue over her nipple, Liz moaned. He moved lower still, finally his lips stopped on her navel. “Your slim stomach…and inviting hips…”
Liz groaned and bucked her hips into his mouth.
He chuckled. “Woah easy there…”

She thought he had finished but he moved lower still, the water through the roof splattered onto the back of his head and her lower stomach. His hair was nearly completely saturated by now.
“And your…” Maxwell continued, licking his lips. “Wet, hot entrance,” he whispered hoarsely, sliding her thighs apart and positioning his head between them. “All this hidden away from the world,” he nearly moaned.
She did.
When he kissed her in such an intimate place Liz gasped, in shock, andin pleasure. Maxwell pulled away and looked up at her.
“Can I try something?” He asked. “Do you trust me?”
Liz was in no position to speak. She bit her lip and shook her head vigorously. She would have agreed to anything at that moment.
Maxwell smiled and leaned back down to taste her. His gentle lips were the only thing to investigate her and first and then much to Liz’s shock, his tongue glided out and licked her nub sensually.
“Max!” Liz cried. “Oh my God Max!”
What he was doing to her… her toes were scrunched in tight, every hair on her body stood on its end, her hands were gripping the blanket beneath her.
She cried out, “please Max, please… don’t stop…don’t stop…ooohh God!”
Maxwell took her hand and clutched it in his when she came; He blew on her forehead and wiped the sweat from above her lips. She was still shuddering after several moments.
“Feel free,” she said, “to try anything else you have in mind.”
He laughed and kissed her. “I love you so much, so much I tell you. I worship you.”
“I like the sound of that,” She said.

<><><><><><>

“I’ve become great friends with Jehan d’Aulon,” Maxwell finally answered Liz’s question. He was running his fingers through her long hair and his other hand rested on her hip.
“Who’s that?” She asked sleepily. She had just had a short nap and was slowly waking up.
“Jean d'Aulon was formerly the commander of King Charles guards before he became my armor-bearer,” Maxwell explained. “He’s a great guy.”
Liz rubbed her eyes. “What are the names of some of your other main men?” She asked.
“Jean Dunois, Jean Pthon de Xantrailles, Etienne Vignolle and the field marshal, Gilles de Rais.” Maxwell’s stomach grumbled.
Liz jumped up. “Okay that’s the third time I’ve heard that, come on let’s go,” she said.
“No,” Maxwell mumbled, lifting his arms and reaching for her.
“Yes, we can’t stay here forever. What about your war, what about my Maria and sisters?” She started getting dressed and eventually Maxwell did too. “Will I ever meet these men?” She asked, hopefully.
“Maybe,” Maxwell said, “one day you will.”
When they climbed back down the ladder Maxwell held the blanket in his arms.
“We’re going to have to run for it,” Liz said. She stood in the entrance to the barn looking out at the pouring rain. When she turned to Maxwell, she laughed. “Not that you aren’t a already very wet.”
He grinned sheepishly and reached for her hand. “Ready? On your mark, get set, go!” He exclaimed.
Together they sprinted across the field, laughing the whole way.
Liz yelled out to Maxwell because he was practically dragging her by her hand. “Slow down Max I’m not as fast as you!”
Maxwell slowed down, but not much. They had to run through the creek again even through the rain so when they finally reached Liz’s house they were soaked right through to the bone.
“Hi Liz!” Maria beamed. She was sitting at the dinner table with Liz’s mother and hers. Liz’s father was standing in front of the fire and the kids were already in bed.
“Maria,” Liz said. “What are you doing here? Hi Amy!”
“Waiting for you,” Maria said, her eyes twinkling. “So, where have you two been?
Liz’s eyes widened. “No where.”
Maria grinned.
Liz’s mother cut in, “you’re shivering, quickly go get changed and sit by the fire!”
“Max you can borrow a shirt from me if you’d like?” Liz’s father offered.
“That would be great, thank you,” Maxwell said politely.
“Amy, this is Max, I’m sure Maria’s told you about him.” Liz introduced Max to Maria’s mother then went to get changed. When she came out Maxwell was sitting by the fire in some dry clothes. Her mother was heating up some food for them both.
“What were Genevieve and Bridgett like when we left?” Liz asked.
“Not too bad after a while,” her mother replied.
Liz sat on the other chair next to the fire, across from Maxwell. Maria sat turned away from the table and towards them.
“So,” She said. “You were gone quite a long time.”
Maxwell and Liz shared an amused look.
“Yeah, we went to that old barn,” Liz answered, hoping she would just leave it at that.
“Oh?” Maria asked. “And what did you do there?”
No such luck.
Liz’s mother handed Maxwell some warm soup to drink. “There you go, if you’d like some more there is some,” she said.
“Max you look tired,” Liz commented. “Would you like to go to bed soon?”
He leaned into her. “Only if you’ll join me,” he said.
“And why are you so tired?” Maria asked.
“Here you go Liz,” her mother handed her some food.
Amy looked at her daughter. “Leave them alone,” she said, smiling. “What they do when they are alone is their business.”
Maria laughed and Maxwell and Liz rolled their eyes together.

After Amy and Maria left Maxwell and Liz went to bed.
“I need to find a man for Maria,” Liz said. She snuggled into Maxwell’s side and kissed his bare shoulder.
Maxwell smirked.
When the light from the candles in the other room went out he didn’t waste any time climbing on top of Liz and sliding her thighs apart.
She moaned.
When he was in her she couldn’t keep quiet like she knew she had too, she couldn’t make any noise that her family could hear. “Oh Max, cover my mouth, cover my mouth, quick…” She whispered.
Maxwell did as he was told.

<><><><><><>

“When will you be back?” Liz asked sadly, rapping her arms around Maxwell’s waist and staring up at him with big puppy eyes.
“I don’t know,” Maxwell said. “But hopefully I won’t be gone too long.”
He leaned down and kissed her lips. “I love you,” he whispered.
Liz felt tears sting her eyes. “Your going to die aren’t you? You are going to leave me here never to hear from you again.”
“I’m not going to die, I promise,” he said. “Nothing could keep me from coming back. Now go inside, I can’t leave with you standing here like this.”
“Too bad, you are gong to have to,” she said.
He sighed. “Oh my, what have I gone and done? Attached myself to you so much I can’t leave,” he said. “My, oh my, what to do now?”
“Stay,” Liz said, smiling. “Forever.”
Maxwell glanced over her shoulder at her mother--waving goodbye.
“I think your parent’s want their room back,” he said.
She buried her head in his chest. “Take me with you!” She said.
“I can’t,” he said. “But I will be thinking about you?”
Liz wiped the tears from her eyes. “I love you, please come back.”
“I will,” he said. How could she even question him like that? He kissed her lips.
How can I just let you walk away from me? Liz thought.
“I can’t leave with you standing here Liz,” He said. “Don’t fear for my life, I can’t and won’t go anywhere knowing you are here.”
Liz’s lower lip trembled.
“Look at me,” Maxwell said. I’m coming back, how can I make her understand that? “I’m leaving part of myself here with you. Be happy, what happened to the constantly smiling and laughing Liz I love? Why are you sad? Be happy for heavens sake!” He smiled. “Now,” he kissed her lips. “I’ll see you later. Have a good week.”
He stepped away from her and backed away down the road.
Liz rapped her arms around herself and tried to keep from crying.
“I love you,” Maxwell said, smiling and waving.
Liz let a little laugh escape her lips. “I love you too Max,” she said.
She watched him walk down the road and when he was about to disappear from her sight he turned around and blew her a kiss.

“So,” Maria said, coming up to the door. “What did you two get up to last night?” She grinned.

<><><><><><> Part eight.

Maxwell’s second great victory occurred in Pathay, on June 18th. Lord Talbott and Falstaffs troops were defeated, and only three Frenchmen died during the battle.
WHEN THE morning broke at last on that forever-memorable 18th of June, there was no enemy discoverable anywhere. But Maxwell knew he should find them, and that he should strike them; strike them the promised blow--the one from which the English power in France would not rise up in a thousand years.
The enemy had plunged into the wide plains of La Beauce--a roadless waste covered with bushes, with here and there bodies of forest trees--a region where an army would be hidden from view in a very little while. Maxwell and his men found the trail in the soft wet earth and followed it. It indicated an orderly march, no confusion, and no panic.
However, they had to be cautious. In such a piece of country, they could walk into an ambush without any trouble. Therefore, Maxwell sent bodies of cavalry ahead under La Hire, Pathon, and other captains, to feel the way. Some of the other officers began to show uneasiness; this sort of hide-and-go-seek business troubled them and made their confidence a little shaky. Maxwell divined their state of mind and cried out impetuously:

"Name of God, what would you? We must smite these English, and we will. They shall not escape us!"

By and by they were nearing Pathay; it was about a league away. At this time their reconnaissance, feeling its way in the bush, frightened a deer, and it went bounding away and was out of sight in a moment. Then hardly a minute later a dull great shout went up in the distance toward Pathay. It was the English soldiery. They had been shut up in a garrison so long on moldy food that they could not keep their delight to themselves when this fine fresh meat came springing into their midst. The French knew where the English were now, whereas the English had no suspicion of where the French were.
La Hire halted where he was, and sent back the tidings. Maxwell was radiant with joy. The Duke d'Alençon said to him:
"Very well, we have found them; shall we fight them?"
"Have you good spurs, prince?"
"Why? Will they make us run away?"
"Nenni, en nom de Dieu! These English are ours--they are lost. They will fly. Who overtakes them will need good spurs. Forward--close up!"

By the time they had come up with La Hire the English had discovered their presence. Talbot's force was marching in three bodies. First his advance guard; then his artillery; then his battle-corps a good way in the rear. He was now out of the bush and in a fair open country. He at once posted his artillery, his advance-guard, and five hundred picked archers along some hedges where the French would be obliged to pass, and hoped to hold this position till his battle-corps could come up. Sir John Fastolfe urged the battle-corps into a gallop. Maxwell saw his opportunity and ordered La Hire to advance--which La Hire promptly did, launching his wild riders like a storm-wind, his customary fashion.
The duke and the Bastard wanted to follow, but Maxwell said:

"Not yet--wait."

So they waited--impatiently, and fidgeting in their saddles. But he was ready--gazing straight before him, measuring, weighing, calculating--by shades, minutes, fractions of minutes, seconds--with all his great soul present, in eye, and set of head, and noble pose of body--but patient, steady--master of himself and of the situation.

And yonder, receding, receding, plumes lifting and falling, lifting and falling, streamed the thundering charge of La Hire's godless crew, La Hire's great figure dominating it and his sword stretched aloft like a Flagstaff.
"Oh, Satan and his Hellions, see them go!" Somebody muttered it in deep admiration.
Now he was closing up--closing up on Fastolfe's rushing corps.
And now he struck it--struck it hard, and broke its order. It lifted the duke and the Bastard in their saddles to see it; and they turned, trembling with excitement, to Maxwell, saying:

"Now!"

However, he put up his hand, still gazing, weighing, calculating, and said again:.
"Wait--not yet."

Fastolfe's hard-driven battle-corps raged on like an avalanche toward the waiting advance-guard. Suddenly these conceived the idea that it was flying in panic before Maxwell; and so in that instant it broke and swarmed away in a mad panic itself, with Talbot storming and cursing after it.

Now was the golden time. Maxwell drove his spurs home and waved the advance with his sword. "Follow me!" He cried, and bent his head to his horse's neck and sped away like the wind.
They went down into the confusion of that flying rout, and for three long hours they cut and hacked and stabbed. At last the bugles sang:
"Halt!"

The Battle of Pathay was won.

Maxwell dismounted, and stood surveying that awful field, lost in thought. Presently he said:
"The praise is to God. He has smitten with a heavy hand this day." After a little he lifted his face, and looking afar off, said, with the manner of one who is thinking aloud, "In a thousand years--a thousand years--the English power in France will not rise up from this blow." He stood again thinking, then he turned toward his grouped generals, and there was a glory in his face and a noble light in his eye; and he said:
"Oh, friends, friends, do you know?--do you comprehend? France is on the way to be free!

<><><><><><>

Liz was very glad to hear about the victory and couldn’t keep a smile off her face for several days. She kept dancing around and singing about how relieved she was. She was very impatient so she was driving Maria and her parent’s insane with how giddy she was while waiting for her loves arrival. On a very hot afternoon her mother finally lost her temper and demanded that she went and did something other then sit around and drive herMAD.

Liz decided she would give her mother a break and took her sisters and brother out to play near the edge of the town. They contentedly skipped and played before her, while she sat on a large rock with her legs drawn up to her chest and her head on her knees. A smile plastered to her face.

She was thinking about her neighbors leaving the city and therefor leaving their apartment vacant. She knew she was being a little bit over optimistic but she thought maybe, hopefully, she could move in there and maybe… hopefully, Maxwell could move in there with her? She knew she shouldn’t get excited over things that had slim chances of happening but she couldn’t help herself, when they had said they were leaving that was the first thought that came to mind.

Oh to think, she thought, LIVING with Maxwell. Having their own place, privacy, no sleeping children and parent’s in the next room! Her stomach was doing flips just thinking about it.
She had been praying for Maxwell’s life every morning and night and now that she knew he was okay, she prayed maybe he could come back soon and they could be together?

She had heard that after the victory in Pathay it was certain the Dauphin would be crowned. Would Maxwell stop fighting then? As selfish as it was, she still hoped so. France had had him for long enough, it was her turn now.

When Liz looked up she saw Maria running towards her from the distance.
Liz waved and slid her legs down away from her chest.
“Hi Liz,” Maria said when she reached her.
“Hi Maria!” Genevieve yelled to their left.
“Hi Genny, Hi Marcelle, Hi Bunny!” Maria yelled back, waving.
Liz studied her friends face. “Is something wrong?” She asked, concerned.
“No, no, nothings wrong. Isn’t it a nice day?” Maria asked.
“You aren’t changing the subject purposely are you?”
Maria looked at her, genuinely puzzled. “What? What’s wrong with you? Nothings wrong!”
Liz laughed. “Okay! Okay! Calm down.”

Someone cleared their throat to their right. causing Liz to turned her head to see two people on horses. One was a woman, who was pregnant, and the other was a man. The woman was very pretty; she had long blonde hair, blue eyes, and full lips. The male was lanky, with short brown hair and button brown eyes.
The woman greeted them friendly. “Hello!”
“Hi,” Liz replied. Maria did a little wave.
“We were wondering if you could please help us out?” The male asked.
The woman rolled her eyes at the male. “Wait, let us introduce ourselves. This is Alexander Whitman, my husband, and my name is Isabel, Isabel Evans,” she said.
“Well hello Isabel, Alexander,” Liz said, smiling. “How can we help you?”
Alexander explained, “we were wondering if maybe you could point us towards Chinon? We know we are close so we don’t want to get lost now.”
“Well you are very close,” Maria said. “In fact, you are here. Would you like us to lead you into the village?”
Isabel beamed at them. “Oh would you? That would be so wonderful!”
Liz jumped up. “Of course we will! I’ll just go… collect the children,” she said, motioning to her brother and sisters. She walked closer to them and then yelled out with her hand pressed to the side of her mouth. “Genevieve, Marcelle, Bunny! Come on it’s time to go guys!”

“Why?” Bridgett yelled back.
“Liz we don’t want to go!” Marcelle said.
Liz clenched her teeth. “Come now!” She yelled. “Now I tell you!” She meant business and the kids saw that so they didn’t bother arguing further.
When they were walking back, Maria and Liz chatted away with Isabel. Alexander talked to Marcelle.
“We were hoping to find somewhere to live, here,” Isabel explained. “I understand my brother’s quite frequently reports back here so I want to be near him.”
“Your brother?” Liz asked. “Who is your brother?”
“Wait,” Maria said, her eyes growing wide. “What did you say your name was again?”
Isabel’s eyes twinkled. “Isabel Evans,” she said.
“Oh you are Maxwell’s sister!” Maria gasped.

“WHAT?” Liz asked.

Maria grabbed her friends arm. “Yes! Yes! Remember Isabel he told you about her?” Maria giggled. “You spend how many hours talking and you are clueless, you are useless Liz.”
Isabel cut in. “Do you know my brother?” She asked.
“Who doesn’t?” Alexander said.
“Do we ever!” Maria cried, nudging Liz’s arm. “Especially Lizzie!”
Isabel eyed Liz with curiosity. “How do you know my brother?” She asked.
“We a, well we just… um, well we somewhat…” Liz stuttered.
“Oh Isabel your Max is in love my Lizzie!” Maria said it for her. Did I say said? I meant, YELLED.
Alexander’s eye brows rose and Isabel’s mouth widened. She let out a laugh. “What?
Maria nodded vigorously. “It’s just so sickly to watch them be so in love. Liz here is just obsessed with Max, I’m almost certain Max is just as badly gone as her.”
Liz was bright red.
“My brother, in love?” Isabel asked. “No it can’t be, you must be talking about someone else.”
“It’s pretty hard to mistake Max,” Alexander commented. He pulled Bridgett and Genevieve up onto his horse and they made trotting noises with their mouths for the rest of the way.
“We are talking about the saint Maxwell aren’t we?” Maria asked, giggling.
“Saint?” Liz asked.
“Saint Max whose out barging the English out of the country?” Isabel asked.
“That’s him,” Maria said.

Isabel swallowed. “I can’t believe it, I’ve missed so much!” She said.
Maria nodded in agreement. “So you are planning to be staying here? Well you are in luck, the apartment right next to Liz’s had just been emptied out!”
Liz’s face dropped. Well there went her fantasies.
Sure, she was glad Isabel was here for Maxwell and sure. She could see herself becoming good friends with her. But still, there went that. There went all of that.
“We’re here!” Genevieve offered loudly.

Alexander helped the two young girls off the horse and then got down and helped Isabel down off hers. Liz welcomed them inside her home and to her mother.

“Liz, every time you go somewhere you bring someone home!” Her mother teased. “It’s nice to meet you, Isabel and Alexander.”
“More like, you leave and every time you come back you bring an Evans with you,” Maria said.
Liz’s mother stared at her puzzled.
“Maman, you won’t believe that this is Max’s sister,” Liz said, smiling.
“What?”
“It is,” Maria said.
Isabel smiled. “I expected my brother to be well know but—
Liz laughed. “Yeah, I can imagine,” she muttered.

They all took a seat at the table and Isabel asked if they knew when Maxwell would be back in the village again.
“Hopefully soon,” Liz said. When they all looked at her with sympathy, she blushed. “I’ve been waiting for him, he should be here in the next week.”
“Good, I can’t wait to see him!” Isabel said. “So, how did you meet?”
Liz clenched her hands together. “Well actually he saved my life—
“He really is a hero,” Alexander said, chuckling.
“Yes,” Liz said. “It was just when he first reached Chinon…

<><><><><><> Part Nine

Isabel and Alexander moved into the apartment next door, and Liz, realizing it was probably better for them, gave up her idea about living with Maxwell. She liked Isabel and Alexander was great, so if someone had to have it, she was glad it was them.

It was early on a stunning day and Isabel and Liz decided to go to the pond together to wash their clothing.
“I want Max to come back,” Liz said truthfully, and depressingly.
Isabel smiled at her new friend. “Its been nearly two weeks since his victory in Pathay, you said yourself he should be back soon. Be patient, I am, and I haven’t seen him in months.”
Liz shrugged. “I can’t help it,” she said.
They reached the pond and worked silently beside each other for a long time. When Isabel was nearly finished she got up and explained that she needed to pee. “I need to go twenty-times more then I needed to before I was pregnant. I’ll be right back, I’ll just go in that bush over there.”
Liz chuckled. “Okay.”
She hummed a quiet tune to herself while she waited for Isabel to return. Someday we’ll meet in Lvov, my love and I…
After several minutes she heard foot steps behind her and with a smile and an expectant glitter in her eye, she said, “Isabel when you are Max were you was Max ever—
She turned her head and stopping speaking when she realized it wasn’t Isabel. Her joyful, beautiful, young, heart felt a weight cover it and her breath caught in her throat.
Three men, all with lust filled grins on their faces, were approaching her with their hands out. Urging her to come to them, come to us come to us.
Liz’s frightened eyes grew larger and she barked at the men to leave her alone. They did not back away.
She swallowed nervously.
“Hello,” One of the men kissed.
Liz jumped up onto her feet and tried to find a way to escape but the three men were surrounding her and she couldn’t go backwards into the creek. She let out a little yelp.
Closer, closer still, the men urged on.
Over their shoulders, Liz saw Isabel approaching. She was looking down at her feet so she didn’t see the men, they didn’t see her either.
When Isabel was barely ten feet away she finally looked up and saw them.
One of the men grabbed Liz’s arm and yanked her up against his body.
Liz mouthed to Isabel over his shoulder. Go get help, quick. Before running off Isabel picked up a large branch up off the ground and hit the man holding Liz over the head. Once, twice, then he was on the ground. Liz stepped over him, taking that chance to get away but the other two men grabbed her and threw her down on the ground.
“Go Isabel!” She yelped. “Run, go!”
Isabel glanced helplessly at Liz then sprinted as fast as she could across the clearing to the house. This was very hard considering she was pregnant but she pushed herself as hard as she could. When she was nearing the house, she could hear voices coming from inside.
“You’re back! Liz will be so happy!”
She burst through the door and banged into Maxwell who had just walked through the same door.
“Isabel?” Maxwell asked. More confused, more puzzled: “Isabel?
“Quick, Liz, she’s in trouble!” Isabel exclaimed. She put her hands on her knees and panted helplessly.
“What?” Pierre, Liz’s father, demanded. “Where?”
“The pond! Quick! Quick!”
Maxwell was out the door and down the road before she finished—
When he reached the pond, with Pierre right behind him, Liz was on the ground, kicking and struggling to get away from the grotesque men above her. One of them gave up holding her and hit her over the head so she couldn’t squirm anymore. Liz’s eyes rolled up into her head and she flopped backwards, unconscious.
Maxwell leapt on the man without hesitation and started beating him as hard as he could. “You bastard!” He yelled. “You God damn bastard!”
Pierre knocked out the other guy before he had a chance to jump on Maxwell, who was still beating the guy who had knocked Liz unconscious.
“Max! Stop, he’s out. You’ve hit him enough!” He yanked Maxwell to his feet. “Can’t you see he’s hurt enough?”
Maxwell swore under his breath and bent down to pick Liz up off the ground. He lifted her into his arms and her head flopped back lifelessly.
“Come on, lets get her home to bed,” Pierre said. He picked up all the washing from the ground and they walked back home to the house in silence.
Liz’s mother and Isabel bombarded them with questions as soon as they got in the door.
Maxwell didn’t listen; he just walked straight into the bedroom and lay Liz down on the bed. He couldn’t think, he just wanted to make sure she was okay, there was a large purple bump forming on her forehead that worried him.
Her mother stood over his shoulder. “Is she okay? What happened?” She demanded.
Pierre led her out of the room. “Come on, give her time to wake up in peace. Come on Isabel,” He said.
When Maxwell was left alone with Liz, he moved her head so it was resting on his lap. He tucked her hair behind her ear and whispered for her to wake up. “Liz? Wake up sweetheart. You’re okay, wake up.”
Liz groaned and opened her eyes. For several moments she was badly disoriented but then realized that it was Maxwell who was holding her and she was safety in her bed.
“Hey soldier,” she muttered.
“Are you okay? What hurts?” He asked.
Liz put her hand over her forehead. “My head hurts. Are you really here for and am I in dream land?”
“I’m really here. Your head is bruised that’s all,” he explained.
Liz’s lips perked into a smile. “I missed you. Congratulations on the victory big man.”
Maxwell ran his fingers through her hair. “Thank you. I missed you too. Thank God I was here now. Do you know what would have happened had I not been here?” He asked. He leaned down and rubbed his lips over her forehead.
“Yes,” Liz replied. “You truly are a saint aren’t you?”
“Hardly,” Maxwell said.
Liz rapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself up onto his chest. She pressed her face into his neck and he rapped his arms tight around her back.
At that moment, the door opened and Isabel walked in nervously. “Is she okay?” She asked.
Liz pulled away from Maxwell and smiled reassuringly at Isabel. “I’m fine Iz. Have you spoken to Ma yet? Max, your sister! Can you believe it?”
Maxwell smiled at Isabel, unsure what to do.
Liz watched them both, puzzled. “Max, you can leave me for two seconds! Go hug your sisters!”
Maxwell got up and hugged his sister lovingly. “What are you doing here Iz?”
Isabel sobbed onto his shoulders. “I can to be close to you. You really did it Max, you really did it.”
Maxwell felt tears sting his eyes. “What’s this?” He motioned to her pregnant stomach. “I’m going to kill Alexander!”
Isabel grabbed his hand and put it on her belly. “No your not Max,” she said.
Liz felt as if she were intruding.
Maxwell glanced at her then back at his sister. “How do you know Liz…?”
Liz chuckled.
“Just lucky I guess,” Isabel said, smiling.
Maxwell turned to Liz. “We’ll go out there and talk, you go to sleep,” he said.
“No way,” Liz said. She started hopping out of the bed but Maxwell was quickly at her side tucking her back in.
“Just rest would you?” Maxwell hissed. “I’ll be back, just rest.”
Isabel watched her brother with a mixture of feelings. Confusion—she’d never seen him like that with anyone before. Envy—she was torn with her happiness for him and her jealousy. She used to be the only woman in his life and now that she wasn’t she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. It was inevitable something like this would happen one day but no matter how much she prepared herself for it she didn’t know if she’d ever be comfortable with it.
When Maxwell leaned down and pressed his lips to Liz’s she turned away, she would just have to get over it because Maxwell didn’t seem to plan to give Liz up any time soon.

<><><><><><>

Liz sat with her head propped up by her hands, her eyes glued to Maxwell’s face.
“So?” She asked.
Maxwell crossed his arms over his chest. “So, what?”
Liz stared at him dumbfounded. “So good surprise, or bad surprise? What did you talk about, what happened?”
“Good surprise,” Maxwell said. “We just caught up, I told her about what I’ve been up to and she told me about what she’s been up to.”
“And?”
“And? There’s an and after that?”
“Yes!”
Maxwell smiled. “Okay, um, and I’m ecstatic she’s here, I’m glad I have my two favorite woman in the same place—now lets go to bed.”
“No, no, no, no!” Liz said. “Are you really not going to tell me about your conversation? Is it private?”
“Yes its private, let’s go to bed,” he said.
Maaaaax,” She whined. “Your not getting sleep, comfort, or me in that room until you give me decent conversation.”
“What do you want to hear?” Maxwell asked. “You ask me a question, I answer it, you say jump, I say how high? You say, follow me, I say okay. You want I give. You—
“Okay, I get it!” Liz cried.
“We’ll talk tomorrow, we’ll talk from sunrise till night fall, just now, please can we go to bed?”
Liz got up from the table. “Okay, but tomorrow, you will tell me about it,” she said.
Maxwell walked around to her side of the table and prodded her towards the bedroom with this hand. “Yes, tomorrow I’ll tell you everything you want to know and more. I love you.”
Liz sighed. “I love you too,” she said.
“Such enthusiasm. This is what I get for risking my life fighting for you?”
Liz closed the door behind them and rapped her arms around his neck in the dark. “No,” she said, leaning up to kiss him. “This is what you get.”

When the sunrise filtered in through the window, Liz was awake and asking questions before Maxwell even opened his eyes.
“God help me,” he muttered, burying his head in the pillow.
Liz kissed his shoulder. “Are you still sleepy my love?”
Thickening pause, then, “yes.”
“I’m not.”
“Oh,” Maxwell said. “Hey you know that thing you like me to do?”
“Oh yes,” Liz said.
Maxwell kissed her forehead and then plopped his head back down on the pillow. “I’ll do that and twice—
“Cool, now?”
Maxwell laughed. “You’re too much. Later, sleep now and I’ll do it later.”
Liz reached under his body and touched him. “You promise?” She asked, rubbing him up and down.
Maxwell lurched upwards. “Okay, I’m up! I’m up!”
“Good.” Liz pulled her hand away. “Talk to me soldier.”

<><><><><><>

“They tried to marry Isabel to a forty-year old man in our village when she was twelve,” Maxwell said.
Liz nodded. “Most daughters in this village are married at that age too. My mother was never been brought up to believe in that, She and Amy both follow their parents example and that’s why I’m not married.”
“Thank goodness,” Maxwell said, smiling and kissing her hand.
Liz smiled back. “So what happened with Isabel? Why didn’t they end up going through with it?” She asked.
Maxwell winced at the memory. “I stood up for her, I tried to convince them she was more helpful around their house then she would be somewhere else. Isabel didn’t want to live in either places but she wanted to be with me so she would have rather lived with our aunt and Uncle. They finally gave in but not before…”
“They beat you up,” Liz finished for him.
Maxwell closed his eyes and nodded.
Liz pressed her lips to his eyebrow. “Its never going to happen again you know,” She whispered.
“I know,” he said.
“You’ve had the hardest life Max,” Liz whispered. “I’m so sorry, you don’t deserve any of what’s happened to you. Only good will come now, lots and lots of good…”
Maxwell opened his eyes. “Lot’s of you?” He asked.
Liz nodded. “Lots of me.”
“When I left Isabel with Alexander’s family I knew they would look after her. I didn’t want to leave her at first but—
“You had to?”
“Yes. My message was just becoming more urgent and I was just busting to do what was assigned to me. Isabel didn’t believe in my signs at first and didn’t think it was right that I had so much false hope. I couldn’t leave her without her permission and I was torn between what I had to do and being there for her. All of a sudden one day she just came to me and told me that she thought I should go and she knew I could do it.”
“You angel went to her?” Liz asked.
Maxwell turned his head and looked into her eyes. “I think so. She never said anything about it but I just know.”
“Hmm,” Liz mumbled. “So you left?”
“So I left,” Maxwell said. “And did what I was aching to do.”
Liz smiled. “Yes you did.”
“And on the way,” Maxwell said, smiling also. “I meet you.”
“Yes you did.”
Maxwell kissed her. “And everything seems to fit, like my life is falling into place. Liz this is what was planned for me from the beginning. Everything seems meant to be, you know?”
I know,” Liz said. “It was meant to be. You were meant for this, you were born a saint.”
“You really think I’m a saint?” Maxwell asked.
Liz nodded, grinning. “Maria called you saint Max a while ago. It was like that’s the word I’d been searching for since I met you!” She laughed, snuggling into his warm chest. Her eyes fell on his rapidly healing wound. “It’s almost gone,” she said, touching it slightly.
“It’s almost gone,” Maxwell agreed.
Liz sucked in a breath. “Can I tell you something?” She asked.
Maxwell kissed the top of her head. “I insist you tell me,” he said.
“Before Isabel and Alexander moved into the apartment next door, I had been hoping that maybe, I could move in there,” She said. “And maybe, when you finished fighting you could move in there with me. Is that okay to admit?”
“That’s okay to admit,” Maxwell said. After a few silent moments he said, “maybe another place will become free at some other time.”
Liz felt her heart flutter.
“And then we could move into that one.”
“You really mean it?” Liz asked.
“I really mean it,” Maxwell whispered.
You are a saint Max. When you are gone, the Gods will make your figure a constellation in the stars so everyone can marvel at your beauty for eternity.

posted on 8-Oct-2002 10:25:22 PM
<><><><><><> Part Ten.

“Now that the Dauphin will be crowed are you going to stop fighting?” Isabel asked her brother.
Maxwell tapped his fingers against the tabletop. “I will not rest until every Englishmen is out of France,” he replied.
Liz sighed. If only—
“But Max you might get killed!”
Thank you Isabel.
“I will not get killed,” Maxwell said.
Isabel shook her head. “Are you forgetting the arrow in your chest during your first battle? Why don’t you give up now, while you’re still safe?”
“Are you forgetting how quickly my wound healed?” Maxwell asked.
Liz got up from the table, unable to listen any more. Sulkily she left the room and went to fold some clothing.
“Liz?” Isabel called after her.
“What’s wrong with her?” Maxwell asked.
Isabel rolled her eyes. “Max, you can’t be that naïve. You are what’s wrong with her..”
Maxwell frowned. “Liz?” He called after her. When she didn’t reply, he got up from the table and went after her. He found her sitting on the end of her bed, crying into her hands.
“Liz?” His voice was soft with sympathy. “Liz, darling, what’s wrong?” He asked. He took a seat next to her on the bed and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Nothings wrong,” she whimpered. “Everything’s wonderful.”
Maxwell pushed her hands away from her face and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Are you kidding me? You are so confusing. Tell me what’s wrong,” pause, “don’t you want me to fight anymore?”
“No.”
“Even if it means I get the English out of our country?” Maxwell asked.
Liz gritted her teeth. “Max, you said you wanted the Dauphin to be crowned, he is going to be crowned. What do you have to prove now? You have succeeded! Everyone loves you, stop, why should you go on any longer?”
“I’ll tell you why,” Maxwell said. “Because I haven’t succeeded, I haven’t finished!”
Liz sighed. “Fine!” She exclaimed. “Go get yourself killed, leave Isabel and I here to live without you. Think only of your country and not of the ones who love you.”
“I am not going to get killed!” Maxwell retorted.
“Oh is that right?” Liz asked. “Are you absolutely certain of that? There isn’t one little bit of doubt in your heart?”
“There is not one little bit,” Maxwell said.
Liz got up off the bed and started pacing back and forth. After a few silent moments she stopped and kneeled down in front of him. “Do you promise?” She asked. “Do you promise?
“Yes,” Maxwell said. “Yes! I will not get killed.”
Liz looked into his eyes. She didn’t know what to think. She knew he couldn’t guarantee what he was saying but she also knew he would not listen to her or Isabel.
He leaned down and kissed her. “You trust me, trust me with this,” he said.
Liz wasn’t convinced, but maybe later she could get her point across to him. She sucked in a deep breath and looked down at his hands on her knees.
“Go convince Isabel,” she said. “See if she will listen to you, because I will not.”
Maxwell sighed and got up. “Fine. I will,” he said. He left the room and Liz got up and fell back down onto the bed in defeat. What would it take Maxwell to see that he was done?

<><><><><><>

Liz decided she understood in a way. She knew Maxwell felt as if he had not finished his work, that he still felt compelled to fight. She had a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with taking his anger out over the death of his parents.
He felt so much responsibility for had happened because he hadn’t been able to stop it. She knew that deep inside he was still the ten-year-old that had been flown off into the night away from danger while his family lay in their beds unaware. She wanted to make him feel better, she wanted to be able to reach that part of him and soothe it so he was no long blaming himself. She wanted to get in there with a broom and sweep away all the dust and cobwebs clinging to him from the past.
She wanted him to open to her.

In the morning, she woke up and rolled over, expecting Maxwell’s hard body to be there to snuggle into but she was largely disappointed. He was not there and his clothes were gone from the desk near the door.
He said he didn’t have to go back to the castle for a few more days, where could he have possibly gone, she wondered.
She heard shuffling in the other room and decided he was probably out there with her mother so she remained in bed for a little longer. She thought about what she was going to say to him, and what Isabel must be thinking. She thought about how much she loved him and how much she wanted to be there for him—
Unable to take it any longer, she got up and went into the other room, she needed to lay her eyes on him. For the second time that morning she was disappointed, he wasn’t there.
“Maman?” Liz asked. “Where is Max? Did you see him already?”
“Hmm,” she mumbled. “He went down the road to the church.”
Liz frowned. “Really?” She asked. “When?”
“Just a little while ago,” her mother explained. “Is something wrong?”
“No Maman,” Liz said. “I’m going to the church too, we’ll be back later okay?”
She walked out the front door and left in such a hurry she barely heard her mother say goodbye.

Maxwell stared at the man through the little wired window. All he could hear was his breathing.
“I need to confess,” he said.
“What could the saint of Lorraine possibly have to confess?”
Maxwell swallowed. “I lied,” he said.
“Lied?”
“Yes,” Maxwell said. “Do you think it is all right to lie when you are trying to keep people from feeling bad or upset?”
“Depends. How did you lie?”
Maxwell looked down at his hands. “I said I wasn’t afraid of my life. That I was certain that I would be saved.”
“What is wrong with that?” The man asked.
“I’m not certain,” Maxwell said. “I am afraid.”
“But you said it to make your loved ones feel better about your fighting?”
“Yes,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell heard the man suck in a deep breath. “You have done nothing wrong. You have nothing to confess. Your act was based on the love you feel, you should not be ashamed.”
“You really think so?” Maxwell asked.
“I’m certain.”

Liz stood outside the church for a long time, wondering whether to go in or whether she should leave Maxwell be. She didn’t want to interrupt him if he was praying or needed to be alone.
She didn’t want to displease him in anyway.
After a long while she walked inside, hopping that maybe whatever he was doing he was finished by now. She found him sitting in amongst the empty seats staring up at the stained-glass window at the head of the church.
She didn’t want to startle him so she just walked up quietly and slipped into the seat near him. Slowly she slid her bottom across the bench until she was next to him, but not touching him.
His eyes were closed and he wore no expression whatsoever. He didn’t acknowledge Liz.
Liz watched his face, wondering if he knew she was there. When he moved his hand so it was resting on her lap, she knew he knew.
Several minutes passed before he finally opened his eyes and turned to look at her.
She stared back into his eyes; they were glowing and warm.
A slight smile spread across his lips. “Let’s get married,” he said.
All the air in the room was suddenly sucked into the lungs of Liz. Maxwell watched her expression with amusement.
Almost on cue: “What?” She exclaimed.
He leaned forward and tucked her hair behind her ears. “Let’s get married,” he repeated.
Liz closed her eyes and shook her head. “Can you hear my heart? You must do, its beating so loud and fast.”
“I can hear it,” Maxwell said. “So? What do you say, lets get married.”
She opened her eyes and studied his face; she was looking for some hesitation but didn’t get any. She smiled brightly.
“Are you kidding?”
“No way.”
“Then,” she said. “Anytime you ask me to marry you I would say yes.”
“What about now?”
“Yes!” She said. “Yes, of course.”
Maxwell’s face showed his happiness, he was ecstatic. He leaned forward and kissed her then stood up.
“Come on,” he said.

<><><><><><>

The heir of France is crowned.

Maxwell and his men marched and marched, and at last on the 16th of July they came in sight of their goal. The great cathedral towers of Rheims rose out of the distance.
Maxwell sat his horse gazing, clothed all in white armor, dreamy, beautiful, and in his face a deep, deep joy, a joy not of earth, he was not flesh, he was a spirit.
They camped, and the hurry and rush and turmoil of the grand preparations began. The Archbishop and a great deputation arrived; and after these came flock after flock, crowd after crowd, of citizens and country-folk, hurrahing, in, with banners and music, and flowed over the camp, one rejoicing inundation after another, everybody drunk with happiness. All night long Rheims was hard at work, hammering away, decorating the town, building triumphal arches and clothing the ancient cathedral within and without in a glory of opulent splendors.
It was a delicious morning, brilliant with sunshine, but cool and fresh and inspiring. The army was in great form, and fine to see, as it uncoiled from its lair fold by fold, and stretched away on the final march of the peaceful Coronation Campaign. The coronation ceremonies would begin at nine and last five hours.

They rode now to the King's lodgins, which was the Archbishop's country palace; and he was presently ready, and they galloped off and took position at the head of the army. By this time the country-people were arriving in multitudes from every direction and massing themselves on both sides of the road to get sight of Maxwell--just as had been done every day since their first day's march began. Their march now lay through the grassy plain, and those peasants made a dividing double border for that plain.
As Maxwell drew near the city the curving long sweep of ramparts and towers was gay with fluttering flags and black with masses of people; and all the air was vibrant with the crash of artillery and gloomed with drifting clouds of smoke. They entered the gates in state and moved in procession through the city, with all the guilds and industries in holiday costume marching in their rear with their banners; and all the route was hedged with a whizzing crush of people, and all the windows were full and all the roofs; and from the balconies hung costly stuffs of rich colors; and the waving of handkerchiefs, seen in perspective through a long vista, was like a snowstorm.
From the Archbishop's Palace, they we halted, and where the King and Maxwell were to lodge, the King sent to the Abbey Church of St. Remi, which was over toward the gate by which they had entered the city, for the Sainte Ampoule, or flask of holy oil. This oil was not earthly oil; it was made in heaven; the flask also. The flask, with the oil in it, was brought down from heaven by a dove. It was sent down to St. Remi just as he was going to baptize King Clovis, who had become a Christian.

The Archbishop and his subordinates, thus nobly escorted, took their way to St. Remi. The Archbishop was in grand costume, with his miter on his head and his cross in his hand. At the door of St. Remi they halted and formed, to receive the holy vial. Soon one heard the deep tones of the organ and of chanting men; then one saw a long file of lights approaching through the dim church. And so came the Abbot, in his sacerdotal panoply, bearing the vial, with his people following after. He delivered it, with solemn ceremonies, to the Archbishop; then the march back began, and it was most impressive; for it moved, the whole way, between two multitudes of men and women who lay flat upon their faces and prayed in dumb silence and in dread while that awful thing went by that had been in heaven.
This august company arrived at the great west door of the cathedral and as the Archbishop entered a noble anthem rose and filled the vast building. The cathedral was packed with people--people in thousands. Only a wide space down the center had been kept free. Down this space walked the Archbishop and his canons, and after them followed those five stately figures in splendid harness, each bearing his feudal banner--and riding!

They rode clear to the choir--as much as four hundred feet from the door, it was said. Then the Archbishop dismissed them, and they made deep obeisance till their plumes touched their horses' necks, then made those proud prancing and mincing and dancing creatures go backward all the way to the door--which was pretty to see, and graceful; then they stood them on their hind-feet and spun them around and plunged away and disappeared.
For some minutes there was a deep hush, a waiting pause; a silence so profound that it was as if all those packed thousands there were steeped in dreamless slumber--why, you could even notice the faintest sounds, like the drowsy buzzing of insects; then came a mighty flood of rich strains from four hundred silver trumpets, and then, framed in the pointed archway of the great west door, appeared Maxwell and the King. They advanced slowly, side by side, through a tempest of welcome--explosion after explosion of cheers and cries, mingled with the deep thunders of the organ and rolling tides of triumphant song from chanting choirs. Behind Maxwell and the King came the Paladin and the Banner displayed; and a majestic figure he was, and most proud and lofty in his bearing, for he knew that the people were marking him and taking note of the gorgeous state dress which covered his armor.
At his side was the Sire d'Albret, proxy for the Constable of France, bearing the Sword of State.
After these, in order of rank, came a body royally attired representing the lay peers of France; it consisted of three princes of the blood, and La Tremouille and the young De Laval brothers.
These were followed by the representatives of the ecclesiastical peers--the Archbishop of Rheims, and the Bishops of Laon, Châlons, Orleans, and one other.
Behind these came the Grand Staff, all our great generals and famous names, and everybody was eager to get a sight of them. Through all the din one could hear shouts all along that told you where two of them were: "Live the Bastard of Orleans!" "Satan La Hire forever!"
The august procession reached its appointed place in time, and the solemnities of the Coronation began. They were long and imposing--with prayers, and anthems, and sermons, and everything that is right for such occasions; and Maxwell was at the King's side all these hours, with his Standard in his hand. But at last came the grand act: the King took the oath, he was anointed with the sacred oil; a splendid personage, followed by train-bearers and other attendants, approached, bearing the Crown of France upon a cushion, and kneeling offered it.
The King seemed to hesitate--in fact, did hesitate; for he put out his hand and then stopped with it there in the air over the crown, the fingers in the attitude of taking hold of it. But that was for only a moment--though a moment is a notable something when it stops the heartbeat of twenty thousand people and makes them catch their breath. Yes, only a moment; then he caught Maxwell’s eye, and he gave him a look with all the joy of his thankful great soul in it; then he smiled, and took the Crown of France in his hand, and right finely and right royally lifted it up and set it upon his head.
Then what a crash there was!
All about us cries and cheers, and the chanting of the choirs and groaning of the organ; and outside the clamoring of the bells and the booming of the cannon. The fantastic dream, the incredible dream, the impossible dream of the peasant-child stood fulfilled; the English power was broken, the Heir of France was crowned.

<><><><><><> Part Eleven.

“I don’t know how you can still look at me like that,” Liz said.
Maxwell pressed his bare chest into hers. “Look at you like what? You haven’t even got your eyes open, how can you know how I’m looking at you.” He pressed his lips to her nose and kissed down her cheek tenderly.
Liz opened her eyes. “You look at me like I’m beautiful,” she said. “Even when you’ve been around a stunning angel and princesses who wear silk gowns. I feel insignificant in my silly peasant dress but when you look at me…”
Maxwell interrupted her by rubbing his lips against hers. Into her mouth he whispered, “I love your little peasant dress.”
Liz sighed contentedly as his tongue massaged hers. His hands rested on the bones of her hips and with his fingers, he drew soothing little patterns.
“Do you know how long it would take to take off those silk dresses? —Yours,” he said, chuckling. “Just slips right off.”
She loved the feel of his neck vibrating against her mouth. She smiled into his warm skin.
“I don’t know how long it would take to take off one of those dresses,” she said. “And I hope you don’t either.”
Maxwell chuckled some more.
“I don’t know, I’m just guessing,” he said.
Liz nibbled on his collarbone. “Why would you be thinking about removing silk dresses from princesses?” She asked.
“I don’t think about removing them from princesses. I think about removing them from you,” he said. “I have to think about something when I’m traveling on my horse, don’t I?”
Liz rapped her leg around his waist and threw her head back in ecstasy when he slipped two fingers inside her walls.
“So you do wish I wore silk dresses,” she said, moaning.
Maxwell shook his head. “No, because I realized how long they must take to take off,” he said.
Liz groaned. “Do that again,” she said.
“What?” Maxwell asked, grinning. “This? — He rubbed inside her up and down. “Or this? — He ran his thumb over her nub.
“Can I say both?” She cried.
“Okay,” he said.
“Both!”

“We have to get up some time,” Liz mumbled burying her face in Maxwell’s neck.
“Isn’t it a shame?” He said.
“It is, yes.” Pause. “I can’t believe we’re married Max.”
“Isn’t it a shame?” He said.
“It is, yes.” Pause. Whack! “Wait a minute, what?”
Maxwell chuckled. “I’m kidding, really. I love being married to you,” he said. “The whole twenty-four hours and all.”
“Twenty-four hours?” She asked. “Has it really only been that long? It seems like much longer.”
“Charming.”
Pause. “We have to get up some time.”
“Isn’t it shame?”

“How long has it been now?”
“An hour since you last asked?” Maxwell said. “I don’t know. I’m tired.”
Liz sat up and yawned. She ran her hands through her hair—
“Your so beautiful, Liz.” Maxwell touched her breast.
“Thank you,” Liz said. “Your not so bad yourself. How long has it been now?”
“Two minutes.”
“Hmm.”
“What’s your obsession with the time all of a sudden?”
“I feel obligated to look after my family, I need to know how long I’ve been away from them,” she said.
Maxwell kissed her palm. “Will you be like that with our family?”
“Yes.”
“You make loving you so easy.”

<><><><><><>

“We really have to get up now,” Liz said.
“I think your right,” Maxwell said. He turned his head to look at her. “Come on, let’s go for a swim first.”
Liz kissed him. “Swim where?” She asked.
“Just get up, I’ll show you.”

Will you marry us?”
The minister looked at them with questioning eyes, then smiled. “Okay, I’ll marry you,” he said.
Maxwell took Liz’s hands in his. She looked up at him with adoring eyes.
“Are you sure about this?” He asked.
“I’m sure about this,” she said. “Are we going to go get Isabel, and my family first?”
“Do you want to?”
“I think we better.”


Maxwell led Liz across the clearing, holding her hand. Away from the barn they went.
It was early in the morning and the grass was quite frosty. The air was crisp and stung their lungs when they breathed in.
They knew the water would be freezing.
“How do you know your way around?” Liz asked. “How do you know about this place?”
“I know everything,” Maxwell said.
“Ha, ha.”
“Well then don’t ask questions, just follow.” Maxwell pushed a branch back so Liz could step through without brushing against the shrubs and bushes. Her eyes fell on a beautiful crystal pool. The morning sun was shining through the trees, and melting everything into life for yet another day of beauty, love, and so much more.
Liz smiled. “Isn’t it pretty?”
“It is, yes,” Maxwell said.
“It’s going to be freezing,” Liz offered.
Maxwell kissed her forehead. “Don’t be so sure,” he said.
He removed his shirt, pants and socks then walked stark naked, and shining, into the water. He is so handsome, Liz thought with a sigh. He glows as if he is sent from the heavens.
When he was up to his shoulders in water he turned around and smiled at Liz. Her heart fluttered.
“Come on,” he said.
Liz grinned. “I’ll freeze, you’ll freeze, you must be numb.”
“Just try it, come, you’ll see,” he said. He raised his arms up out of the water and waved her over.
Liz untied her dress and let it drop to her ankles. Maxwell eyes watched her with delight.
When she stepped into the water her eyes grew wide with surprise. “Why its warm!” She cried. “Max! It’s warm! Why is it warm?”
Max laughed. “This water runs down a stream from a hot spring. That’s why.”
Liz slipped under the blanket of water and swam over to him. When she reached him, she rapped her legs around his waist and rapped her arms around his neck.
“I love you,” he whispered.
Liz kissed his lips. “I love you too.”

You’re what?”
“We’re gonna get married, want to come?” Liz looked at her two parents with a big smile on her face. “Maria already said okay, Isabel’s gonna be there too.”
“Don’t you think it’s a little soon?” Her father asked.
“No way,” Liz said. “I’m not asking for permission. You know what it’s like to be in love. I want you guys to come, come on!”
“I’m coming,” her Maman said whilst slipping on her shoes.


Liz buried her face in Maxwell’s neck and sucked in a deep breath. She could hear him humming a peaceful tune and she had to fend off sleep.
“Where shall we live?” He asked.
Liz kissed his neck. “I don’t know my love,” she whispered. She rubbed her chest against his and tightened her hold on his waist with her thighs.
Maxwell moaned.
“There is no where we can live for now. When someone moves—“
“That could be never,” Maxwell commented.
Liz shook her head. “That’s highly unlikely. People move all the time, it just isn’t right next door every day.”
“Hmm,” Maxwell mumbled. “Money is another thing. Since I don’t have a job.”
“I don’t care about money,” Liz said. “I’ll starve for you.”
Maxwell swallowed. “I won’t let you. But the rest of the French continent do care about money.”
“So your saying you want me to stay at home with my family?”
“Yes,” Maxwell said. “For the time being. I like knowing you are being looked after.”
Liz chuckled. “Looked after? I look after myself Max Evans. And my sisters!”
“You know what I mean,” he muttered.

I’m going to love you forever.”
Maria watched them with teary eyes. “He would hope so,” She commented.
Maxwell kissed Liz’s forehead. “You are my wife,” he whispered.
“I am your wife,” she replied.
Maxwell closed his eyes and smiled. “My angel is watching,” he said.
Liz kissed him. “Really? So she’s happy for us?”
“Infinitely.”


<><><><><><>

“If I’d known when I’d met you that you would be my sister, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Isabel said.
Liz laughed.
“You didn’t believe us when we told you that Max looooved Liz,” Maria commented.
“You didn’t?” Maxwell asked.
“No,” Isabel answered. “You, in love? Never.
Liz’s mother handed her a cup of hot tea. She looked at her daughter for a long time then exclaimed. “Married! My Liz!”
Liz smiled at her. “It’s not like I’ve committed a sin Maman.”
“Haven’t you?” Maria whispered.
Liz whacked her in the stomach. “Maria! Shh!”
“Next thing you’ll be having babies,” her mother muttered.
Maxwell whispered in Liz’s ear, “hopefully.”
Liz smiled at him.
“I’d like my bed back eventually,” her mother muttered again.
“Oh, right,” Liz said. “Like that’s going to happen any time soon.”


<><><><><><> Part Twelve

Liz sighed. “Maman?” She said.
“Yeah sweetheart?”
“I’m pregnant.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah.”
Liz sucked in a deep breath and glanced over at Isabel who had stopped sewing and started gaping.
“What am I going to do with you now?” Maman asked. “Oh we need to find you a place of your own. This is no place to be pregnant in. Not with your sisters and brother hanging around.”
“You can stay with Alexander and I,” Isabel said.
Liz started to cry. “I don’t want to be pregnant, I’m not ready to be a Mother,” she said.
Her Maman hugged her. “You’ll be an excellent mother honey. You already act like one with your sisters,” she commented. “Everything will be fine.”
“But Max hasn’t stopped fighting! He won’t stop for anything!” Liz cried. “Not even for me!”
Isabel waddled over and put her hand on her new sisters shoulder. “Don’t take that personally Liz. I don’t. He’s just stubborn, and determined. He loves you, but you met him during an important time in his life, he’s trying to make himself worthy.”
“Worthy of who? Why?” Liz said. “Can’t he just think of anyone else for two seconds?”
Isabel helped herself while she helped Liz. “He thinks he is. He thinks what he is doing is good for us.” She swallowed and then continued. “You know about our childhood, he feels insignificant. I know, I feel it too. What happened in that house… you couldn’t just shrug it off. I feel it too, but because I’ve recognized it, I don’t let it get to me. There are things he doesn’t even know about, and I would never tell him.”
Liz wiped her eyes and sniffled.
“After that, he feels as if he has to prove himself. It took me a while to figure that out after he told me about his angel—“
“Are you saying you don’t believe he sees her?”
Isabel shrugged. “Don’t tell him. He could, I don’t know. But I think it’s his subconscious.”
Liz swallowed.
“You want this baby Liz, and Max does too. You’re just afraid. Max will be there for you, don’t question it because your heart knows its true.”
Liz bit her lip. “Thank you for saying that.”
“Its true,” Isabel said, smiling.
Liz’s mother wiped the tears from her eyes. “Married and pregnant! Oh my heart!” She exclaimed. “I’ll die young yet!”
Isabel and Liz laughed.
“So, do you want to move in with Alexander and I?”
Liz shook her head. She explained, “you’re saving your second room for the baby Isabel. I couldn’t do that.”
“Nonsense. We’ll just have the baby in with us. And besides,” Isabel said, chuckling. “This baby feels as if it’s never coming.”
Liz smiled. “Is it hard?” She asked. “Being pregnant.”
Liz’s mother mouthed, shhh, to Isabel.
Isabel lied. “It’s the easiest thing, it’s like no difference at all!”
Maman snorted and under her breath mumbled, yeah right.
Liz turned to look at her worriedly.
“It is,” She quickly said. “Easiest thing.”
“I was there when you gave birth to Bridgett Maman, it didn’t look like the easiest thing,” Liz said.
“It looks a lot worse then it is.”
The front door banged open and Alexander, Maxwell, Marcelle, and Liz’s father trudged in. They had been out hunting and it looked like they didn’t have much luck.
Liz’s sisters were at Maria’s and were due back any time.
Isabel hopped up from her seat next to Liz and Liz wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand quickly.
“No luck?” Isabel asked.
Her husband replied. “No luck.”
Liz tried to look busy organizing fruit on the table when Maxwell came over. He frowned at her.
“Is something wrong?” He asked.
“Everything is fine, why wouldn’t it be?” Liz asked.
“I don’t know, you tell me,” Maxwell said.
Just then, Maria came in singing with Bridgett and Genevieve. “There is nothing for me but to love you!
Liz was thankful for the interruption.
“Wow full house,” Maria said. “I’m going to get out of here quickly I think, I’m beginning to feel claustrophobic.”
Liz got up and dragged her friend outside to talk. “I’ll be right back!” She called to Maxwell.
Once they were on the street Liz started tugging Maria down the road.
“Where are we going?” Maria demanded.
“For a walk,” Liz explained.
“A walk?” Maria asked, dumbfounded. “It’s freezing. No thank you, I don’t feel like becoming an ice cube. Go back inside Liz.”
“I want to talk to you,” Liz said.
“We can talk back inside,” Maria said.
“I want to talk to you in private.”
Maria sighed. “Okay, but quickly okay?”
Liz hugged her. “Thank you!”
“Okay, okay!” Maria smiled. They walked down the road in the dark, with their arms around each other for extra warmth. “So tell me,” Maria said. “What’s up?”
“You can’t go ballistic like I know you will.”
“If you know I will, then I most definitely will,” Maria commented.
“Okay, but try not to,” Liz said. “I’m pregnant.”
Maria opened her mouth to scream and Liz, as a reflex, slapped her hand down over her face.
“Don’t scream!” She said. “Don’t make a scene.”
Maria said something into Liz’s hand.
Liz frowned. “If I pull my hand away you have to promise not to scream,” she said.
Maria nodded.
Liz pulled her hand away.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR PREGNANT!” Maria exclaimed. “Oh my God!”
“I asked you not to make a scene!” Liz said.
“Make a scene to who? No one else is crazy enough to be out in the freezing cold like us,” Maria said. “Lizzie!” She hugged her. “What does Max think?”
Liz shrugged. “I kinda haven’t told him.”
“Kinda?”
“Okay so I haven’t,” Liz said. “I don’t want to.”
“He’ll be ecstatic.”
“He’ll think it’s a burden.”
Maria snorted. “Oh yeah right.”
Liz shuddered.
“Tell him Liz, he’ll be ecstatic. I’m so happy for you, you know that don’t you? I am SO happy for you.”
“I know Maria,” Liz said, smiling slightly. “Thank you.”
“I am SO happy for you,” Maria said. “And I am SO freezing for you so I have to go home. We’ll hang out tomorrow and I’ll tell you how SO happy I am for you then. Because I SO am.”
Liz laughed. “Okay.”
Before Maria walked away she said, “Oh and guess what?”
“What?”
“I meet this guy today, don’t get too excited. But he’s pretty cool. His names Michael,” Maria said.
Liz gaped at her. “Oh! Maybe you’ll get married too!”
“Didn’t I just say not to get too excited?” Maria asked. “We’ll talk tomorrow. See you later okay?”
“Okay!” Liz said, suddenly very cheerful. “See you!”
Liz ran back home and when she got inside everyone was waiting for her so they could eat. She wiped her stray hair from her forehead and plonked down next to Maxwell. He was worried about her, she could tell.
She wasn’t going to talk to him now, not in front of her family.
“Let’s eat shall we?” She asked.
Everyone nodded eagerly and they dug in.

<><><><><><>

“Liz what’s wrong?”
Liz opened her eyes and yawned. “Nothings wrong Max, I’ve told you that. Go to sleep, I’m tired.”
Maxwell rubbed her bare shoulder with his big, smooth, warm hands. “I don’t believe you. You are not a good liar,” he said.
Liz was lying on her stomach with her head resting on her arms. “Why would I lie to you? I love you,” she said.
“I don’t know why,” Maxwell said. “Why Liz?”
Liz closed her eyes again. She couldn’t look into his eyes. She didn’t want to tell him the truth yet.
Leave me alone, she wanted to say. Leave me alone and you’ll find out sooner or later.
Unfortunately, Maxwell was no quitter.
“Can we talk in the morning?” She asked.
“No, you could never wait till morning and I don’t want to either.”
Liz sighed. “We’ll wake up my brother and sisters,” she said.
Tonight her parents wanted their room so Maxwell and Liz shared her bed in with the children.
“I’m leaving tomorrow, we won’t have time then,” Maxwell said.
Liz groaned. “Don’t leave then,” she said.
“Oh,” Maxwell said. “So that’s the problem, I thought we’d talked about this?”
“No, Max we didn’t talk about this,” Liz said. “YOU talked about this. And right now I am tired and I want to sleep, so you are going to have to wait like I have to. So Good night.”
She felt so mean.
Maxwell rolled over and slept facing away from her. Liz decided she couldn’t handle not sleeping with his arms around her so she woke him up just as the sun was seeping through the window and they went outside to talk. It was very frosty and cold, so they found a spot out in the lavender field where the morning rays warmed their backs.
Liz stared at her husband for a long time and he stared right back with a look of wonder.
She smiled. “I’m sorry about being mean to you last night,” she said.
Maxwell swallowed. “It’s okay, you are obviously stressed out about something. I just wish you’d not leave me to be the only one who doesn’t know what it is though.”
Liz weaved her fingers through his and held their hands up in front of them. Lovingly, she leant forward and pressed her lips to his knuckle. “I love you so much,” she whispered.
“I know,” he said. “I feel it too.”
When she rested her head on his shoulder he rapped one arm around her, drawing her close, and the other stayed intertwined with her fingers on his lap. He kissed the top of her head and left his lips there inhale her sweet scent.
She was like warm honey.
Liz closed her eyes and let her breathing become even and relaxed. Her heartbeat slowed and she physically tottered unable to continue sitting upright.
Maxwell lay them down on their backs in the dirt and Liz lay her head on his chest.
“If you promise me you’ll tell me what’s wrong and not close me out ever again, I’ll consider stopping fighting,” he said.
Liz’s heart missed a beat. “Consider?” She asked. Not wanting to be ripped off.
“Consider,” Maxwell repeated, adding, “seriously.”
Liz knew that was a huge step forward towards their utter happiness and decided it was fair agreement.
“Okay,” she whispered. “But only if you make love to me first.”
Maxwell was silent for a short while. “You have yourself a deal,” he said.
He moved from where he was lying on his back and propped himself up on his elbow.
Liz watched as he slid his hand up her calf muscle leading her dress up with it. When he got to her thigh he placed feathery kisses on her skin and led the dress up with his tongue. He left his hands on her knees, massaging them gently and Liz let her eyes drift closed, just enjoying the feelings he cursed deep inside her.
“Tell me what’s wrong babe.” She heard him whisper.
She parted her mouth in a silent moan and without even realizing how much control, he had over her, she told him what was wrong. “I’m scared,” she whispered. “Scared that you don’t realize that you don’t have to prove yourself to any one. That just because you were brought up in that house with your mean and horrible Aunt and Uncle, it doesn’t make you less then anyone else. That I love you, and Isabel loves you, and you don’t have to be anything for us.”
Maxwell pulled down her panties and then started undoing his pants.
Liz tried not to start crying. “I know that when you are out there fighting and you win, and then you come back and everyone is cheering for you, you feel more worthy. But you don’t have to, you are perfect Max, in every way and I don’t want you to feel as if you have to prove yourself for me.”
He wouldn’t let her see his eyes.
She wanted to see his eyes.
He opened her legs and slid inside her right there on that cold morning. Liz cried out.
“And I’m pregnant,” she whispered, in between tears. “So you have one more person to not feel worthy for.”
She heard his breath catch in his throat but he did not say anything. Slowly, he made love to her, not letting her see his eyes, but letting her feel how much she meant to him.
Tears rolled down her cheeks the whole time, and when she came, she wanted to linger in that feeling forever and forever.
Maxwell stayed within her for several minutes, emptying himself completely; his lips pressed into her neck and her collarbone and then her shoulder.
Liz knew why he wasn’t saying anything about the baby; it was because he didn’t know how to reply to her after what she had said about him not feeling worthy. She clutched at him roughly, not being able to get close enough to him.
After a long time, Maxwell pulled out of her and did up his pants.
Liz expected him to lie back down again but he pulled her underwear back up and covered her with her dress again. Then he leaned up and kissed her lips.
“I’ll give you what you need from me,” he whispered into her mouth. Then he stood up, sucked in a breath and walked back in the direction of her house.


<><><><><><>Part Thirteen.

In Chinon, even when winter melts away and spring starts blossoming to life, the coldness lingers in the breeze and brushes your bones. For Liz, this spring was especially chilly, for when she got back to her house her mother informed her that Max had already taken his things and left.
When she learnt this news, she didn’t know how to take it. She went back to bed and lay down and didn’t get up for the whole day. The last words he had said to her were implanted in her mind, repeating them, over and OVER.
She knew he would be back and that he probably just needed time to consume all that she had added to his load but it still hurt to have him just leave like that. He meant too much to her, that was the problem.
Maria came and saw her towards the evening; she climbed straight under the covers and rapped her arms around Liz’s waist.
“Tell me what’s wrong baby,” she said. “What did Max say?”
Liz sighed. “He didn’t say anything,” she answered. “And—
“And that’s the problem?” Maria asked.
Liz nodded.
“He’s probably just shocked Liz. He is stuck in the in the middle of a war between two countries and a baby might not have been the first thing on the top of his mind. He just needs a little time to realize it is what he wants.”
“He knows its what he wants already,” Liz said. “He just doesn’t know how to provide for it now that it’s here.”
“You mean this is all about finding a place to live?”
“I don’t know,” Liz replied. “I think it is, I mean it is for me. What are we going to do? He doesn’t work anywhere, it’s not like the kings going to pay him for all that he has done for him.”
“You never know—
Maria.”
“Okay, your right, it’s very unlikely since he is as poor as I am.” Maria stroked Liz’s hair. “You’ll work this out, do you really think God would give all this to Max and then expect him to fend for himself as a farmer? No way, Max is way too good for that.”
“Don’t I know it,” Liz said. “Max was not made to be a farmer.”
“He’s a soldier,” Maria said. “He’ll always be too good for anything less.”
Max is a saint, Liz thought. He’ll always belong up high with the angels.
Liz thought back to what Maxwell had said about her being his ultimate gift. If he was meant to find her then surely everything was meant to turn out okay.
She suddenly felt better.
In addition, because she felt better, she got up, went, and made dinner with Maria.
Everything would be okay.

<><><><><><>

Max marched through the castle and up stairs to a long corridor. He banged the first door open and instantly found the king in a tub with a woman eating grapes.
“Ah, Max,” he said, almost as if it was an unpleasant surprise.
“Look at this!” Max yelled. He chucked a letter at the King roughly. “Do you know what that is?”
The king sighed. “No I don’t know what it is, what is it Max?”
“It’s a letter from YOUR kingdom. They are starving and you won’t do anything about it!”
“I don’t think that’s your problem. Why don’t you leave now? You have served me well but I no longer need you. You’re beginning to wear out your welcome.”
Max hissed in disbelief. There was no way he would get off that easy. “Give me an army!”
“You’ve had an army.”
“And did I not produce results from it?”
Max didn’t want to believe it, but he knew that now that the king had been crowned he no longer cared about beating the English. He had become a self-centered greedy man.
It scared Max to believe he had been wrong about him. Did that mean his signs had been wrong or was it just part of History unfolding the way God had intended?
“The English are still here,” Max said through gritted teeth. “And I will not rest until they are gone. Next we will get Paris back.”
He wanted to get this done so he could there for Liz when the baby was born.
He stormed out of the chamber and back down the steps. Why wouldn’t the King support him? It made him furious.

Jean d’Aulon was waiting for him downstairs. They walked together around the courtyard.
“Max I know you don’t want to, but—
“I don’t want to hear you tell me I should give up.”
Jean sighed. “I don’t want to tell you it but Max, the king will no longer support you. Without his army, you can do nothing. As much as it disappoints not only you but ME and so many others… there is nothing you can do.”
Max would not give up. “We will leave for Paris tomorrow.”

It was pouring down with rain and all over; men tried helplessly to climb slippery ladders up English forts. Max stood watching it all and calling out commands.
After a short while he shook his head, this was doing nothing. “Send the reinforcements,” he demanded Gilles de Rais.
He looked at him quizzically. “What reinforcements?”
“The men!” Max exclaimed. “The thousands just bursting to join in behind us. Send them now.”
“Are you kidding me?” Gilles de Rais asked. “Turn around, look at your ‘thousands’ of men.”
When Max didn’t, he forced him to. Max stared at the maybe, one hundred men struggling in the rain, wasting their time.
“We can’t give up,” Max said.
“Max!” Gilles de Rais exclaimed. “The men are hungry, and tired! They can’t go on like this. You have barely no one, but you do have some. Don’t make it so you have none.”
“We may be tired but so are the English, they are falling. Just a little while longer and we will bust open those doors.”
“Who will bust through those doors? And do what?”
“The men, and they will win.”
Gilles de Rais shook his head. “No, Max. JEAN come talk some sense into him.”
Jean d’Aulon came over. “I’ve tried, he won’t listen.”
“Max it’s over,” Gilles de Rais said. “And I’m taking these men home before they die for no needed reason.”

<><><><><><>

His beliefs seemed to be crumbling to the ground around him and all he could do was loose faith.
In himself, in his life, in everything he was meant to be. In his angel, in her lack of comfort; Where was she?
When he saw her, her beauty used to be extraordinary but now it dithered in comparison to someone he knew. When he saw pure beauty, it seemed to only exist in his Liz.
Oh Liz.
The woman who was holding half of him in her womb. Where was she?
She was five feet away, through the door that blocked his view.
After his beliefs seemed to have crumbled, guess where he turned for the comfort? Where did he feel like nothing could be wrong and nothing could harm him?
In this life, he had seen death, he had seen pure cruelty inflicted on the innocent, he had been the hunted. He had been the pray stalked by the hawk and he had been the moral evil and the good. One place seemed to make it all disappear; one place seemed to welcome him without questions— a passion not a duty.
Oh Liz.
Time can’t be erased but it can feel like it’s stopped still, there was only one place where Max had experienced that emotion.
When he had been flying without wings, when he had been someone he was proud to be, someone who at that moment needed only one thing, only one person.
Oh! Grief hath chang’d me since you saw me last;
And careful hours, with time’s deform’d hand,
Have written strange defeatures in my face.
Would Liz be upset with him for his bad choice of movements when he saw her last? She was his wife, he shouldn’t be that worried but he was, in fact, the thought of her hating him made his core tremble with terror.
Someone so small terrifying Maxwell Evan’s the large, muscled, soldier who had fought in many battles and conquered over all enemies.
“AHHH!” Came Isabel’s scream from inside the house. “Get it out! Get it out! I want it out!”
“It’s coming!” Maria exclaimed. “I can see the head!”
“THE HEAD?” Isabelle screeched. “It feels like a melon! Get it out!”
Liz’s soothing voice came next. “Calm down Isabel, it’ll be okay. Just push, come on one more.”
There was a long silent pause and then Isabel’s load groan. “AHHHHHHH.”
Babies crying filled the room and soon followed sobs from the women.
“Oh Isabelle,” Liz said. “You have a beautiful boy, look. Isn’t he stunning?”
Maxwell knew he couldn’t walk inside the house when such a scene was playing out. He stood there listening to the crying and giggling from Maria. His heart overwhelmed for his sister, his heart overwhelmed by the act of giving birth.
“Liz, oh Liz,” Isabel cried. “Go get Alexander, please, Liz, oh please.”
“Of course, here take your son, your beautiful son Isabel!”
“He is beautiful!” Isabelle said.
“Let me clean him up,” Maria said.
“I’ll go get some water.”
Maxwell stepped back into the darkness when he heard footsteps coming toward the door. Liz opened it soon after, he noticed that blood stained the brown apron hanging over her body. She dipped her hands in the barrel off water at the door and then she dipped her bucket in too. When she looked up she saw him and accidentally, shocked by his appearance dropped the bucket to the ground with a splash.
The water splattered up her ankles and onto the bottom of her dress but she didn’t seem to notice. “Max?” She asked.
He felt tears prick his eyes.
She gasped and as quickly as her legs could carry her, she ran to him and leapt into his arms. She clung to him with all her might, thanking God he was home.
Maxwell was stiff at first and then, not being able to fight it, rapped his arms around her little body and pressed his face into her hair.
In a quiet voice he whispered, “It’s over Liz It’s really over.” Sobs racked his body and he found himself holding her for dear life, not knowing how he could last if she were to disappear.
“I’m here love,” she whispered. “It’s okay love.”

<><><><><><>

“Isabelle I’m so happy for you,” Maxwell said. “He’s a blessing.”
“He most certainly is,” Isabelle agreed. “It’s about time you got home too, boy. What kind of a man are you running off like that without saying goodbye?”
“Max!” Liz called from the other room. “Can you come here please?”
“A man whom’s about to get his ass kicked,” Maria said.
Max glanced at her with worry and then got up. “I’m not in that much trouble am I?”
“I would say,” Liz’s mother said. “Yes.”
Max bit his lip and prepared himself, when he entered the room they would sleeping in for the night, he found Liz sitting under the covers with her back against the wall. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and her arms were drawn around her legs.
“Close the door please,” she said.
Max closed it and slowly, hesitantly walked over to the bed and started removing his clothes to hop in. Once he was down to his under clothing he climbed in under the covers next to her.
After a short silence, Max spoke. “I’m sorry Liz—
“Don’t,” she said. “I don’t need to hear it. I don’t want to hear it.”
He turned to her and put his hands on her knees. “I don’t care if you want to hear it or not, you are going to. I shouldn’t have left like I did and no excuse will be good enough but I am so sorry, I was shocked, I didn’t know what to think about what you said. The problem is, you were right.”
Liz stared at him in shock. “Max—
“Let me finish,” he said. “I don’t deserve everything I have been given, my victories, you, and you were right. I don’t feel worthy of any of it.”
Liz bit her lip.
“I did a lot of thinking,” he continued. “And you were so right, like you always are. I am fighting to make myself fit in. Nevertheless, that’s not the only reason I kept doing it. It’s because I was born to do it. Liz, I will never be good enough for you.”
“Yes you—
“Liz,” Max warned. “Please.”
Liz shut up.
“The fighting isn’t about me, it’s about France, and doing the task my angel set me. I didn’t want to fail in the duty I was given. That was my one chance to do something other then be treated like a pack horse for my Aunt and Uncle.”
Liz rapped her arms around her husbands shoulders and rested her forehead against his neck.
“I’ve come to a conclusion,” he said. “Liz, are you listening?”
“I’m listening,” she whispered. “Tell me Max, what will make you feel better?”
“Only one thing,” he replied. “Something I want you to do with me.”
“I’ll do anything for you.”
Max kissed the top of her head. “I want to go back to Lorraine.”

<><><><><><> Part Fourteen

"Why do you want to go back to Lorraine?" Liz asked, very confused. "There was nothing there for you, you have nothing but bad memories of that place."
Maxwell knew his reply, he had been thinking about it for the last few days. "Liz, I need to go back to that house, I don't for certain know why but I feel like I have a confront a fear to make it go away. It makes no sense but I don't think I'll be able to settle and relax without doing it. I want to be here for you one hundred percent and to put that behind me... it'll—
"We'll go," Liz cut him off before he finished. "I'll go anywhere for you Max and if you think you need to do it then I'll back you up."
Maxwell studied her face for several seconds and then a small smile seeped across his lips. "Thank you," he said.
"Don't thank me," she said. "I want to do this for you after how much you've done for me."
"What have I done for you?" He asked. "Except impregnate you and make your life a whole lot more complicated."
"You made me whole," Liz replied smiling. "In the literal sense."
Maxwell laughed.

They departed two days later, Isabelle wanted to come but she could not, for she had a new child to worry about. Liz was only just beginning to show so she was not afraid of having her child before they returned. They decided against using a carriage and opted for two horses, one each. Maria and Liz’s family was there to see them off, the good-byes took nearly half an hour but finally they were on their way. The sun shone high in the sky and it was very hot but other then that the trip was just what both Max and Liz needed. They rode close together down the dirt road. There was no one else around apart from the occasional other travelers that would walk by. Maxwell and Liz would always greet them politely.
The trip would take nearly eleven days so they only stopped to rest at nighttime. On the first evening they stayed on a farm with a nice family with five daughters, Liz did not like the way the girls looked at Maxwell so they slept in the barn and then left early in the morning.
They talked about everything through the day; Maxwell spoke about his battles and Liz about her sisters. She told him about Maria finding a man she finally wanted to marry. She explained that his name was Michael and he lived with his father in a stable where they made saddles. She had only met him once and in her opinion, he seemed nice enough.
“I wish I could have met Jehan d’Aulon,” Liz said staring ahead at the grass fields around them. The narrow path they rode down gave them an excuse to ride on the same horse while the other one trod behind them. Liz leaned back into Maxwell and rested her head under his chin. “You speak so fondly of him,” she continued.
Maxwell ran his lips over the back of her head. “He is a good guy,” he muttered.
“Are you ever going to tell me what happened with King Charles?” Liz asked. She ran her hands over his arms and tightened his grip around her. She heard his sharp intake of breath and closed her eyes, praying he wouldn’t shut her out as he had been.
“There isn’t much to tell,” Maxwell spoke quietly. “He is now King of France, he did not see the need in fighting to free the rest of the country. He is a self-centered man that only used me to get what he wanted. He does not care about the French citizens who are still starving—“
Liz sat up and turned to look him in the eyes. “I’m so sorry Max,” she said. “But you know that God will no longer look out for him, right? He has turned sinister and there is no excuse for that— I feel sorry for him.”
“What?’ Maxwell exclaimed. “Whose side are you on?”
Liz kissed his lips. “Yours my beautiful husband. However, you must see, you are now famous. He may have betrayed you but the whole of France knows what you did and worship you,” she lowered her voice, “as I do.
“But why did God send me to fight for his crowning when he turned his back so righteously on everything that got him where he is? What is the point? Maybe I just wasted my time…”
“No!” Liz cried. “No Max, you can’t possibly think that! Do you not see what you did for the people? Not only did you pull Orleans from the deadly grip of the English but something else that means so much more! You gave people hope! That we can do something for ourselves—You gave everyone someone to look up to. A role model for hundreds to come who will stand up for themselves and say ‘it has been done before so I can do it too.’”
She kissed his lips again. “I am so proud of you, you have no idea. Do not question what you did when it was so blatantly a good thing.”
Maxwell looked down at the little woman in front of him. “What did I do to deserve you?”
“More like what didn’t you do!” Liz giggled. “And now I will give you a child.”
“What about love? Do you give me love?” He asked.
Liz’s eyes flared. “Yes. I will show you the act of love too,” she said. They couldn’t even wait; Maxwell leapt off the horse and helped Liz down. Their hearts popping with love, they leapt through the tall grass and hid from the naked eye where they passionately made love on the soft ground.

<><><><><><>

When they arrived at his Aunt and Uncles house several days later they stood outside for several minutes just staring at the run down shack in front of them. Liz ran her hands up and down Max’s arm to try to soothe his nerves but she felt as if she wasn’t helping. Max gripped her to him with enormous strength and finally buried his head in her neck and fought sobs. Liz didn’t know the full extent of what had happened in this house but it was obvious it still haunted Maxwell every day. She held her soldier, her saint in her arms tightly, because, this big man needed her. He needed the small peasant girl who knew no love but what she shared with him.
When she heard his deep breath, she knew he was ready. She kissed his forehead. “I’m here Max, I know you can do this.”
He smiled softly at her. “Wait here?” He asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “Take as long as you need.”
He kissed her lips then softened his grip on her—before finally letting go. Liz rapped her arms around herself and watched with worried eyes as he walked up to the house. It appeared to be empty but she wasn’t sure, someone may be inside?
The front door was slightly ajar and Maxwell did not bother knocking, he pushed it fully open with his foot and stepped in. Memories over-flooded his mind and he stumbled backwards at the weight of them all.
“Get over here you filthy piece of shit, I want to show you something.”
A young Maxwell knew better then to approach the man who had done nothing but make his life hell for the last few weeks.
“I said GET!” The drunk man yelled again getting impatient.
Maxwell walked hesitantly over to the man but stayed a far distance away from the chair he sat on. “Where’s Isabelle?” He asked.
“She is not your concern!” The man slurred. He had his hands on his pants and with an unsteady hand he unzipped his trousers and pulled out his manhood. “Now not a word! Just touch it!” He screeched.

Maxwell closed his eyes and cursed under his breath. Would he ever loose the horrors this house had witnessed? He stepped into the dark hole of a room and stared at the lonely chair sitting by the unlit fireplace. His eyes flashed when he remembered holding a sobbing Isabelle as her favorite doll burned on the flames.
He walked over and kicked the chair down in a rage.
“Who’s there?” A weak female voice called from down the hall. Maxwell spun around just as his Aunt limped out with a pan held up in her hands. When she saw him she hissed and spat. “Get out of my house!” She said.
Maxwell suspected she didn’t know who he was. “Do you know who I am?” He asked.
“Do you think I give a shit?” She asked. “No! No I do not. Get out!”
“Where’s your husband?” He asked, not really caring.
“He’s dead!” The woman said. “GO AWAY!”
“He’s dead?” Maxwell repeated. Would God forgive him for rejoicing over that? “You know, my name is Max.”
The woman squinted her eyes and slowly she recognized him. She went silent when she saw he was not leaving. After several minutes she asked, “what do you want?’
She did not attempt to ask how he had been and what he had done for himself she just dropped her pot to the floor and crumbled after it. Loud sobs racked her body. “I’ms all alone now don’t you see? There is nothing left! If you have come for revenge get it finished please! Please does it quickly, I beg of you!’
“I did not come for revenge,” he said simply. “Stop your wailing.”
He felt nothing for the woman who had never attempted to make his life easier when he was younger. Whom had never laid one comforting finger on him. However, he could see what was left of the haunted place where the ghosts taunted him and he was done. He didn’t know what he had expected when he came here but what ever it was he had needed, he was done now, he just wanted to leave.
He headed towards the door but on the way out his Aunt grabbed his ankle. He pulled it from her grasp easily. What she said to him shocked him thoroughly.
“Did ye ever find the angel you went on about?” She muttered looking up at him with animal eyes. Eyes that were nothing but black holes.
“Yes,” he said. He stepped away. He said good bye before leaving, never glancing back but keeping his gaze locked on his wife who sat on her horse rubbing her stomach. He could hear his aunt howl with laughter as he walked away but he paid no attention.
Liz looked up with terror in her eyes when she heard the laughter but she sighed with relief when she saw Max coming towards her. She got down off her horse and stepped up to him. She rapped her arms around him comfortingly and he held her tightly.
“God Liz,” he muttered.
“I’m here,” she said. “I’ll always be here. I love you.’
He smiled down at her. “I love you too. Let’s get out of here?” He asked.
She smiled happily at him. “Okay,” she said. She turned to climb back onto her horse but Max grabbed her and spun her around.
“Max what.—?”
He knelt down in front of her and ran his hands over her stomach. Tenderly he leaned forward and kissed her pregnant belly. “You are everything I could have ever dreamed of,” he said directed at Liz. “Thank you for this gift, I will cherish it as much as I do you.”
“I know you will,” Liz said quietly.
“Hello baby,” he spoke to her stomach. “I know you are in there, I hope you are being nice to your Mommy, she loves you very much. I do too.” He kissed her stomach again. ‘Try not to make her sick anymore okay?”
When he got up, he saw tears in Liz’s eyes. He kissed them away. “Let’s get out of here.”
Liz sniffled. “Is there anywhere else you want to go before we head back to Chinon?’
“Yes,” he responded. “One place.”

<><><><><><>

They rode their horses through the small town and stopped in front of an old stone church with a wooden cross sticking out of its roof. Liz smiled dimly to herself and then turned to look at Maxwell who was staring at the building blankly.
“Can you come in with me?” He asked, not turning to look at her.
“Of course,” she replied. She watched him get down off his horse and then walk in front of hers to help her down. He rapped his strong arms around her waist and lowered her as if she was a feather. He kissed her forehead before letting go of her and taking her hand in his. They walked up the two steps and in through the arc door. Inside it was quiet and smelt like something that resembled wet wood. A short man was fluffing around at the head of the church and turned around when he heard them. Maxwell led Liz down the isle and Liz noticed that the short man recognized Max instantly.
“Max!” His voice was full of life.
“Frederick!” Maxwell exclaimed back. The two men hugged, Frederick was tiny compared to Maxwell.
When they pulled away Liz saw tears in Frederick’s eyes.
“You came back! I have been hearing all about what you’ve been up to! The whole town has. And who is this lovely lady…?”
Maxwell looped his arm around Liz’s waist and smiled. “This is Liz, my wife. Liz darling, this is Frederick.”
“You are married!” Frederick exclaimed. “Oh my! It’s so nice to meet you Liz.”
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Liz spoke shyly.
Frederick glowed with happiness. “I never thought I’d see you again Max. You look excellent, a real man now aren’t you?”
“I’d like to think so,” Maxwell said. “Liz and I are only here for a day or two, I just had to stop by and see you before we went back.”
“I’m glad you did!”
That evening they stayed at Frederick’s house and he told Liz all about Maxwell when he was little.
“He basically lived at the church, I couldn’t get rid of him. He always came into the confession booth saying he had sinned in the silliest ways. Little Gabrielle always followed him—“
“Gabrielle?” Liz asked.
“Oh my gosh! I forgot all about her, how is she?” Maxwell asked.
“She was fine last I heard, she’s married too but doesn’t live in Lorraine anymore,” Frederick explained. “Liz Gabrielle was besotted with your Max. She followed him around everywhere, she used to tell me that she would marry him.”
“Is that right?” Liz asked grinning at Maxwell.
“She did not,” Maxwell argued.
“Oh how would you know?” Frederick mouthed, she did, to Liz and she laughed.
Maxwell raised his eyebrows. “I saw that.”
“Oh good,” Frederick said. “Now tell me about what you’ve been up to… how did you meet Liz?”
They stayed up for a good part of the night talking and catching up, Liz slept on Frederick’s bed, the pregnancy was very tiring. The next morning they bid farewell to Lorraine and headed back to Chinon. Though it had been a short trip Liz knew that Maxwell was completely satisfied by it. She was so happy they had come, not only, because he had faced his fears but also because she and Maxwell had finally spent some time alone together without interruptions. They were a lot closer then they had been and that was definitely a good thing. When they got back they would be back in that tiny house without any privacy but for now, they both enjoyed the treat of freedom.

<><><><><><>

Maxwell stared down at Liz’s sleepy figure and felt the familiar swell of his heart. She looked so tiny and innocent lying naked beside him. He tucked her hair behind her ears and pressed his lips to her temple lovingly. She muttered his name in her sleep and snuggled closer to his warmth. He felt this complete feeling of peace settle over him and he knew that he had finally found his place. He had more then he could have ever hoped for and though the past was yet to free it’s grip on his soul, he knew that with time Liz would clean all traces of hurt away. Sure, he was disappointed that he hadn’t been able to save France from the clutches of the English but in time the English would leave—he just didn’t know it yet.
He got up off the bed and went outside to breathe some fresh air into his lungs. He felt as if could fly when he ran down the road to the fields with his arms out like wings and a large smile on his mouth. He spun around, laughter escaping him suddenly. With a satisfied thud he sat down on the ground and closed his eyes. “Thank you,” he whispered breathlessly.
“I’m here.”
Maxwell sat up startled and came face to face with her.
“Max it’s coming to an end,” she whispered.
His angel flew down from her perch in the air. She tucked in her wings and dipped into the long grass lighting the dark like a glowing white flame.
She spoke, “Max each time I see you, you are more of a man.”
Maxwell didn’t know what to say he stared blankly at her flawless face.
“Did you ever know you’re my hero?” She asked. “You were the man God sent me to have faith.”
Confusion crossed over Max’s features. He opened his mouth to question her but she quickly continued.
“When I died,” she said. “Yes, Max I was once in this place, I was asked to enter the gates of heaven and serve under Him but you know what I said? I said, no. I didn’t have faith, I didn’t believe that it was my time to leave. Therefore, he sent me to you. Thank you for all you’ve done for me.”
Maxwell didn’t know what to say. He felt so fulfilled. All he could think of to say was: “you’re welcome.”
His angel laughed and rapped her arm around him. “You are just like the little boy from years ago,” she said.
“But more handsome right?” Maxwell teased.
“Yeah, more handsome,” she said. She kissed his cheek. “Are you happy with your ultimate reward? Or do you still want toys?”
Maxwell was going to joke but he couldn’t end up bringing himself too. He thought of Liz lying at home waiting for him and their little baby growing in her stomach. He sighed happily. “How did you know she’s what I wanted most?”
“Because you are just like any other person,” she answered simply. “Everyone wants to find their other half.”
Maxwell nodded. “You are probably right.”
“I am right sweetie, and you know it,” she said. She stood up and spread her wings. “I’m going to go home now.”
“Where is home?” Maxwell asked.
“The clouds,” she replied.
“Did you ever… find you’re other half?”
She smiled brightly. “Probably, we all do. It’s just a matter of noticing and taking… we are all so naive we miss our great chance. Aren’t you glad you didn’t let yours pass you by?”
“Oh yes,” Maxwell replied.
“So that’s it!” She lifted up into the air. “It was nice knowing you Maxwell, you don’t know how proud I am of you. How proud we all are.”
“But it’s not over, there are still bits to the tale missing,” he argued, thinking of his unemployment and lack of house for he and Liz. And their baby.
“Oh it’s over,” she replied smiling. “You’ll see, it’ll all fall into place. You’ll get everything you need.”
With a wisp of wind, she was gone and Maxwell was left staring at the sun coming up in the distance and the sound of applause coming down from the heavens.

In addition, it did, the next day the priest in the town church left and Maxwell fulfilled his spot, taking his house too.

<><><><><><>

“Dad!” Little Nicolas Evans’ tugged on his fathers sleeve as they walked along. “DAD!”
“What, what?” Maxwell picked up his son and rested him on his shoulders.
“You know how everyone calls you a saint?” Nicolas asked.
Maxwell laughed. “Yes son?”
“Does that make me one too?”
Maxwell glanced at Liz who was sitting with his sister and Maria on the picnic rug in amongst the lavender bushes. The sun was shinning down on her glowing hair and her laughter filled his ears. He was speechlessly, wordlessly, infinitely happy.
With a content sigh he replied, “I’m almost certain of it.”