Game, Set.. Match... Love?
 
by Lady Gato, Gentillefille, Candylyna, CandyTerry, Babygirl & Stevester

The summer in Scotland was almost coming to an end...the warm days seemed to stretch forever and the pleasant nights were alive with crickets chirping and the budding feelings amongst the students of St. Paul's. Archie and Annie were getting closer. Stear and Patty really went well together. Candy and Terry were already hopelessly in love with each other and just didn't know it. Only Eliza stewed furiously. She was blindingly determined to get Terrence Grantchester's attention.

Part of the summer school curriculum was gymnasium, although it wasn't limited to the gym. In fact, it sought to take advantage of the wonderful weather. Rowing, horseback riding, archery, fencing, golf, lacrosse and tennis were being practiced by the students. Some of these sports were more popular than others, because in some of them, like golf and tennis, the boys were allowed to team up with the girls....

Though the boys, Terry, Stear and Archie were not officially in summer school in Scotland, they were allowed to participate because they were students of St. Paul College. Everybody was in the school’s court. Even Eliza and Neil came for the sport events. Eliza came to see Terry and she was secretly hoping to be paired up with him. Neil followed his sister against his will. He was a big lazy and he didn’t feel like playing at all. But he rarely refused anything from his sister. So he was there, sulking. 

"Eliza, do I have to be here?" He asked his sister.

"Yes. I have to do everything to be in the same team as Terrence…"

"That lousy son of duke is not worth it…"

"You’re wrong, he’s worth it. If I play my cards right, I’m going to be the future duchess of Grandchester."

"In your dreams!" said Neil, laughing out loud.

"Shut up Neil!" said Eliza between her teeth.

She left him to join the others and she was trying to get close to Terry, but he seemed more interested by Candy, as usual.

"Damn that stable girl!" said Eliza in her head.

The sisters arrived with the fathers to organise a game of double tennis. To choose the team members, the sisters came up with a childish way of choosing so no one will feel left out.

"Ok," said Sister Margaret, "Everybody in groups of ten.  We’re going to do the 'one potato, two potato…'"

"You’ve got to be kidding me," said Neil.  "How old do you think we are? Five?"

The others just burst out laughing and made little groups of ten students. Then they started to sing, "One potato, two potato, three potato four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato more…."

"Come on Neil, you big lazy," said Candy.  "Let’s start. Everybody in a circle … One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato more."

She landed on Alistair first, then it was Annie.

"You two are a team," said Candy.

They continued singing, and the next couple was Archie and Eliza.

"You did it on purpose," said Eliza, "so you could be with Terry!"

"No, Eliza," said Candy.  "It’s fate… I guess fate doesn’t want you to team up with Terry."

They burst out laughing and Eliza was fuming and sulking. They continued with the singing and the teaming. The next couple was Louise and Neil. Neil was a little disappointed. He surprised himself in wanting secretly to be paired with Candy. Then it was Patty with a boy called Wayne and finally the remainders... Candy and Terry!

"How convenient," said Eliza angry.

"Well Eliza," said Terry.  "You’re not happy with the results of the pairing? We were all counting with Candy.  She didn’t cheat. Don’t be a sore loser!"

Eliza blushed, but she still looked at Candy with anger. Candy was glad to have been teamed up with Terry. She was secretly praying in her heart and she didn’t cheat. She was way to honest for that anyway. Now that all the groups were made, they had to go see the priest to get their T-shirts, with different colours and different numbers. Candy and Terry got the number 8 in the blue T-shirt.

"Number 8 Freckles," said Terry.  "You know what this means?"

"No," said Candy. "What does it mean?"

"Well it’s a number, no matter how you put it, it still comes out the same. If you put it horizontal, it’s the sign of the infinity….so you and I are going to be together..."

"...for infinity?" said Candy, laughing.  "Nice one Terry!"

The other girls were listening and they envied Candy.

"He’s so romantic," said Louise to Eliza.

"Shut up Louise!" said Eliza, angry.

This last one burst out laughing and the other girls too. The games were about to start.

The couples lined up to await their turn to play. Meanwhile, Candy tried to ignore Eliza and the invisible darts thrown her away. She glanced up at Terry who leaned towards her with a mischievous smile.

"Let's forget this game and head towards the lake," he whispered.

"What?!" Candy stared at him, wide-eyed in disbelief.

He glanced around and saw that Sister Margaret was busy instructing some of the students how to hit the ball. "Come on, let's go!" To Candy's surprise, he grabbed her hand and quickly made their escape through the woods.

When they reached the edge of the lake, Candy pulled her hand from his grasp and glared at him. "Terry! We shouldn't have left the game! Now we'll be in trouble..."

"Shhh..." Terry said suddenly.

Infuriated, Candy stomped her feet on the grass. "No one can hear us from here! I'm going back..."

"Do you hear that?" Terry placed a hand on her shoulder, preventing her from leaving.

"Hear what?" Candy demanded. Suddenly she heard it... a faint cry coming from across the lake. She gasped. "Terry! Look! There's something there!"

Terry seemed to have noticed it at the same time.

Astonished, they went over to see what it was...it was as if something had fallen from the sky...Candy, who always seemed to have a quick reflex when it came to detecting when people were hurt or injured, ran as if her life depended on it. Terry kept up with her, because his long athletic legs compensated for her quickness.

"What do you think it was?" he said, between breaths.

"I don't know but it sounded like a cry of injury...I can't stand to hear cries of pain..." she replied, almost out of breath.

They arrived at the lakeshore, about a mile away from where they were. Crumpled on the ground was a strange looking creature. It looked dead.

"Oh...Terry!" Candy gasped sadly. She was perplexed as to what the critter was. "But what is it?"

"It's a...grouse...I think...a Scottish Black grouse!" Terry marvelled. He had shot one once and it made good eating...perhaps this one had been shot too.



"It looks like a rooster..." Candy mused. "...poor thing..." She was about to scoop it when Terry's voice stopped her.

"Don't do that, Freckles, sometimes they play dead and attack you with its spurs when you get close..." he cautioned, holding her arm.

"Listen, if I had heeded people's gossip about you, I would have never helped you out..." Candy retorted. "But I'll be careful..." she had been around enough barnyard fowl at Pony's Home to handle roosters. She gingerly grabbed it's legs which still pulsed with life. The Grouse let out a squawk and flapped its wings, but one clearly was hanging useless.

"Oh no!! He is hurt!" Candy moaned.

"He probably got shot at and it didn't kill him...but a grouse with a broken wing is as good as dead, Candice..." Terry pointed out.

"Nonsense! I'm going to nurse him back to health...do you have a handkerchief?"

"Sure...but--" Terry didn't know where this was going.

"May I have it?" she smiled engagingly at him.

Terry looked at her quizzically..."Here" he said, taking his out.

Candy took the garment and managed to patch the Grouse up...the bird wiggled a lot and gave out short cries, but it intuitively understood this human wanted to help, not hurt or kill it, and stopped wriggling. It soon gave out small clucks and calmed down.

"Grand...now what..." Terry mused. "A lynx or an eagle is going to make mincemeat of of him, and the poor sod is probably confused as to what it is now, thanks to that bandage..."

"No way! I'm gong to take care of him...besides, we need a mascot for our tennis team!!"


"A mascot?!" Terry threw his head back and laughed. "You must be kidding!"

"Why not?" Candy smiled as she gently cradled the grouse in her arms. "I think he'd make a cute mascot for the team."

Terry chuckled and thumped her nose playfully. "Only you would think of turning this delectable bird into a pet!"

"You are NOT eating this bird!" Candy said defiantly, then held the grouse a little tighter than expected. The bird let out a little cry at the added pressure and Candy nearly dropped it. "Oops!! Sorry!"

Terry shook his head and said mockingly. "Candy, are you sure you want to be a nurse?"

Candy made a face at him. "I think I did a fine job taking care of you when you came drunk and bleeding in my room!" She reminded him coyly. "And some patient you were! You didn't even thank me for helping you!"

"Hmmm... you're right," he said thoughtfully. He reached over to brush the golden locks from her face and gave her a teasing look. "So how would you like me to thank you, Lady Freckles?"

"Well I... " Candy stammered, suddenly feeling giddy at his tender gesture.

"There they are!! I knew we'd find them here!!"

The grating sound of Eliza's voice pierced through the calmness of the lake. Candy inwardly groaned with dread when she noticed Sister Grey and Sister Margaret marching closely behind Eliza through the woods. Sister Grey wore her usual dark scowl when she saw them while Sister Margaret appeared concerned and disappointed.

"Here comes trouble..." Terry murmured beneath his breath.

"See, Mother, what did I tell you...who knows what they have been up to!!" Eliza gloated...she was sure this time Candy was going to get raked through the coals...then she could have Terry all to herself!

"CANDICE WHITE ANDREW, TERRENCE GRAEME GRANTCHESTER! What is going on--" Mother Grey started to lecture, then the cluck of the helpless Grouse stopped her mid-sentence.

"Oh, my..." Sister Margaret said.

"What in Heavens is this mischief!!" the Abbess finally demanded. Even Eliza was taken aback...how could Candy be cradling a smelly ol' bird?? Ewww.

"I heard a commotion and I wanted to see what it was..." Candy said, rapidly...it was a version of the truth, but she realized that they were in big trouble now.

"...and I decided she should not be walking around the lake unescorted..." Terry piped in...maybe he was going to be able to get them out of this predicament!

Candy continued, picking up on Terry's story "...then I saw this poor Grouse, who was hurt, so I decided to patch him up...we were on our way back; I have to practice my backstroke for the start of the tournament tommorrow..."

"A likely story!! How convenient!" sneered Eliza.

"Of course, you wouldn't know, since kindness is not in your book!" Terry jabbed.

"ENOUGH!" Mother Grey stammered. "Well, it is quite obvious you are an acolyte of St. Francis, Miss Andrew, but you know it's against the rules to keep pets...just what did you have in mind, eh?"

"Oh, but Little Terry G. will be taken in my manor, don't worry...he's also Team 8's mascot, and we will keep him in a basket next to our court during the day..." Terry jumped in before it was too late...that Grouse was going to end up on the nun's dinner table if he wasn't fast enough.

"Little Terry G!!! Well,I never!!" Eliza huffed as she stomped off...she knew her plan had backfired now.

"Clo-clo-clo..." Little Terry G. clucked, as if he knew what was going on.

Mother Grey rolled her eyes...she could not do anything now...the Grouse was Terry's and since he wasn't living on the school campus...he wasn't even attending the summer school...he could do whatever he wanted.

Mother Grey sighed and shook her head. "Very well then, let's get going...you two have missed an hour of practice, you need to go make it up...and I want no more trouble from you two!!"

"Yes Mother Grey..." Candy and Terry both replied, contritely.

They started moving away, back towards the school.

"This is why I think this activity, like the May Festival, is utter nonsense...it incites the boys and the girls to behave unruly! It is most inapporpriate!!" Mother Grey sighed, displeased.

"But it's tradition Mother Grey..." Sister Margaret reminded her.

A couple of steps behind, Candy and Terry followed, with the mascot, Little Terry G.

"Little Terry G?" Candy asked, incredulous...where did Terry get that idea to call the Grouse that?

"Sure, why not? What, you want to call it Freckles?" Terry snickered.

Candy made a face.

"Besides, I wish I was that Grouse, right now..." his eyes twinkled at her.

Candy blushed shyly, as she continued to hold the grouse with all the care of the world.

"By the way Freckles, I’m going to take a rain check on the way to thank you for taking so good care of me that night…" he said, whispering in a very soft voice.

Candy blushed some more, but she was happy inside. They joined the others who were surprised to see them escorted by Mother Grey, Sister Margaret and Eliza, who’s face was sulking. Annie and Patty saw Candy with the grouse in her hands.

"Candy, what is that?" asked Annie.

"That’s a black grouse," said Patty.

"A black what?"

"A black grouse," said Candy.  "This is Little Terry G…he’s going to be our mascot…"

Alistair and Archibald approached them to see what was going on.

"Little Terry G?" repeated Annie, smiling.  "Cute!"

"Terry and I found him by the lake," said Candy.

"That’s why you two disappeared?" asked Stear.

"I had to see what was crying…" said Candy.

"You two must have the best hearing, since we didn’t hear a thing," said Archie.

He knew Terry had taken Candy to be alone with her and it was killing him. Terry looked at Archie and he felt his jealousy.

"You should’ve listened better Cornwell," said Terry.  "Maybe you would’ve heard poor Little Terry G. crying…"

"Little Terry G? Let me guess... the son of the duke named the bird after himself? I bet you wish you were really that wounded bird," said Archie.  "How arrogant!"

"The
G is for Grouse, smart head. And I don’t need to be a wounded bird to have Candy’s attention.  Can you say the same thing, Cornwell?" said Terry.

"You pretentious, English brat!!!!" said Archie.  "I’m going to…"

But they were interrupted by Mother Grey.

"TERRENCE GRANDCHESTER, CANDICE WHITE ANDREW!!! YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE TO CATCH UP WITH THE OTHERS! STOP TALKING AND START WORKING OUT!!!!"

Candy gave Little Terry G. to Patty.

"Take care of him while we’re practicing, please Patty," said Candy.

"Of course Candy," said Patty.

Terry was already walking away.

"Freckles? Come on, we have to go and practice together…"

He said that to get on Archie’s nerves. This latter wanted to strangle Terry. His brother looked at him and shook his head.

Candy and Terry went to the far court to practice their strokes against the wall. Terry obviously was experienced, but Candy kept slicing balls.

"Good God, Freckles...at this rate we are going to be disqualified at the first serve?!" Terry complained.

"Well, I wasn't born with a racket in my hand, like you obviously were!" Candy sassed back.

"Are you going to argue with me or do you want me to help you.." Terry asked, his voice softer.

Candy just looked at him.

"Here...allow me..." he murmured. He stood behind her, covered her hand with his and said gently into her ear. "See, it is all about where you put your hands on the shaft when you do the stroke..."

Candy giggled nervously as he made a swinging motion, his hand still on hers, his arms around her, embracing her. Candy followed the movement and caught on, but having Terry so close was really exciting...and he smelled wonderful...like amber and lavender.

"WHAT'S HE DOING NOW!!" Archie cried out, his voice a full octave higher.

"Well, can't you see? They are practicing..." Annie said.

"PRACTICING WHAT?!" Archie felt his saliva spittle.

"The racquet stroke, of course..." Stear observed.

"Cluck!" said little Terry G.

"They move so well together..." Patty sighed, dreamily.

Too well... Eliza seethed to herself. But tomorrow was going to be another day...it would be HER day, she decided.

Candy felt so weird having Terry so close to her and the smell of his perfume made her head spin a little.

"Come on Candy, get a hold of yourself, she said to herself, you have to concentrate to win this competition. You wouldn’t want your team to lose because your head was spinning for smelling is perfume…"

Time passed and she was making progress and starting to get the hold of it.

"Very good Freckles," said Terry smiling.  "You’re a fast learner…"

"The Chinese say, 'There’s no bad pupil, there’s only bad masters'…" she said softly.

"Is that your twisted way to make me a compliment, Freckles?" he said with a mocking tone.  "You can’t spell it out?"

"And you, can’t you just take a compliment?"

They were staring at each other. He loved to look into those beautiful green eyes and his blue eyes were her favourite place to drown herself in….

"Thanks for the compliment, Freckles. You’re a very apt pupil…"

"And you’re a very good master… we’re going to win this competition…"

"That’s the team spirit…"

It was starting to get dark, the practice was over and they had to go back to their dorm and houses. Candy and Terry went to get their mascot.

"I’m going to take Little Terry G." said Terry.  "He’s going to miss you…"

"I’m going to miss him too…"

"He would want you to tuck him in…"

She looked at him half surprised. Was he saying what she was thinking?

"Well mommy Candy is going to sneak out later to come and tuck Little Terry G…" she whispered.

Terry looked at her and smiled.

"Big Terry and Little Terry are going to wait for mummy Candy…"

They looked at each other, smiled, then she followed her classmates who were walking away.

Eliza was looking at them and she was wondering what they were saying to each other. They looked so close and intimate!

"Next time...they won't get away so easily," Eliza cursed to herself.

After a light dinner, the girls said their goodnights and retired to their respective dorm rooms. Candy had been unusually quiet and distracted during dinner... playing with her food and occasionally looking out into the distance. Patty and Annie suspected she was daydreaming about that "rebel" again.

Back in her room, Candy burst open the balcony doors and peered into the dark night. All the lights were out as the girls were preparing for bed. She knew she still had to be careful since Sister Margaret would be making her rounds with the lamp soon.

"Then I'll make my escape," Candy told herself. She was eager to see Terry again and she wanted to make sure that little Terry G. was healing properly from his wound.

A knock on her door alerted her. "Candy?"

Candy opened the door with a huge, innocent smile. "Yes, Sister Margaret!"

Sister Margaret regarded her gently and knowingly. Nothing escaped her. "Sleep well, Candy," she said softly. "And don't get into any more trouble like today."

Candy's cheeks flushed red. "I'll try not to," she assured her with an embarassed laugh. "Good night!"

As soon as the door closed behind her, Candy rushed to the balcony window and climbed down the makeshift rope she had hidden. "I'm so sorry Sister Margaret! I hope you'll forgive me!" Candy muttered to herself as she ran through the woods to Terry's manor.

Her heart was beating wildly in her chest when she reached the front door to his estate! She marvelled at the architecture of his beautiful villa. Slightly out of breath, she knocked on the door. When there was no answer, Candy turned the knob and peered inside. "Terry?"

The crackling of the large fireplace in the salon was the only welcoming sound. Several ornate candlelabras were lit, giving the room an air of mystery and elegance. But Terry was nowhere to be seen.

"Where could he be?" Candy scratched her head. "Terry?"

"I'm here..."

Candy was startled to hear his voice from behind her. "Terry!" At his somber look, her heart twisted in anxiety. "Terry, what's wrong?"

His face was dark with worry as he cradled the wounded grouse in his arms. "Candy... I think the grouse is dying."

"Noooo!!" Candy mourned and rushed to take the grouse in her arms. "This can't be!"

"His wounds look infected," he explained grimly. "It doesn't look good."

Candy looked up at him, her eyes welling with tears. "Little Terry G. needs our help! We have to save him Terry! Please!"

"Candy, he needs a veterinarian. At this time of night, I don't know..."

"Wait! I know who can help us!" Candy said with determination. "We have to go there tonight!"

"Okay..." Terry concurred, thankful that Candy knew someone who could help. Candy's heart almost broke when she saw little Terry G. Terry had wrapped him in a flannel cloth but he looked listless and he kept opening his mouth, as if gasping for air. Terry gingerly passed the Grouse into Candy's arms.

"The only thing is that you can't take a car where we need to go...it is up the hill..."

"Who did you have in mind?" Terry asked...as if the task wasn't enough, they were going to have to ride up the hill in the dark.

"I met this kind old lady one day at St. Paul's, who takes care of the chicken coop...the other scots called her Old Nana from the Glen...I once had a conversation with her and she told me she likes to take care of wounded creatures...I asked her where she lived, and she told me up the hill 'Behind my Lord Grantchester's Manor...""

"I'm going for Theodora..." Terry motioned. "Wait for me in entrance hall..." He indicated "so that the evening air won't chill him....by the way...I hope you've come prepared to spend the night..." he winked, his seriousness slightly lightened. "Who knows how long this little caper will take us tonight, and we will probably have a vigil for Little Terry G..." he shook his head. "...we won't be able to play squat tomorrow...some mascot!!!" Terry headed out.

Candy followed him, her face furrowed with worry. "Please don't die, Little Terry G...you survived the hunter's shot...you have to make it now!!"

The grouse clucked faintly back.

Soon, Terry was back.

"Right...let's go..." he motioned. He was wearing his riding cape. They went out and before she could ask how he was going to ride and take the grouse with him, Terry got her up on Theodora in one fell swoop and then he got on. He cloaked Candy with his cape, creating a warm cocoon and entwined his arms with hers so that she would not fall off, while still holding the reins.

"This is turning out to be some operation..." he muttered, good naturedly. Candy was agape...Terry seemed so sure of his movements but this almost seemed impossible.

"Freckles...you are going to have to huddle closer to me, unless you plan on kissing the ground with that cute nose of yours!!" Terry chided.

Candy had no choice but to snuggle closer. "Do you know where we are going, based on my description?" she asked.

"I have an idea...I've heard about this Old Nana in the Glen...except that she's up a pretty steep hill...but she's grouse's only hope, now..." he chirruped Theodora and off they went, at a gentle yet urgent pace.

Only the moon and silvery shimmer of the Loch lighted their way.

The ride was quiet, only punctuated by the sounds of the forest at night, the anticipating, worried breathing of Candy and Terry, Theodora's harder breathing as she gingerly picked her way up the steep hill and the faint, fading noises of the dying Grouse. Finally, there was clearing and a small cottage that was aglow in the night from the lamps inside. Candy thought it looked straight out of the 1500's, not the 1900's.

Terry got off, tethered the horse and helped Candy down gently, although in the dim light she came down brushing very closely against him. A slight sudder resonated in both of them at the unexpected yet very welcome contact.

"Oopss..sorry..." she murmured. She tried not to disturb Little Terry G. too much.

"No worries...come on..." he said, leading her by her elbow. He knocked on the hand hewn door. It creaked open and a small figure stood there, clothed in hand loomed Scottish wool.

"Oidhche mhath...Good Evening..." Terry greeted, in Scottish Gaelic.

"Och, My Lord...wot brings ye here?" Nana replied, gently yet respectfully...she knew who the caller was.

"Nana...remember me from St. Paul's? I'm Candy...Little Ter--I mean this Grouse needs your help...please..." Candy pleaded, presenting the dying bird.

"Right ye be, then, dinna worry 'bout this wee one...he's a proper Scot Grouse...come in!" she said, taking the bird and speaking softly to it.

Candy and Terry followed her in. The cottage was very small, very humble but bursting in coziness and warmth. Several other small animals were resting and recuperating, creatures of the forest and barnyard, of the moors and glens...they rested, all without cages, all without bothering the other. A marmalade colored cat came and slinkily greeted Candy at her shins, purring and padding the soft stone floor.

"How haps it that ye come across this 'un?" Nana asked.

"We believe he was shot...the Lady here took pity on it, so we took him in..." Terry explained.

"Yes, I recall this lassie being most special in that way..." Nana examined the Grouse with expert hands. Candy watched her, fascinated. She had always intrigued her but in this setting, her home, she was totally mesmerized.

"Is he going to die?" Terry asked, almost impatiently.

"Nay, my Lord...but there is little left in him...but enough, hopefully...Grouses are proud fighters, ye know that...dinna worry....he has lost fluids and minerals, but I think we can keep him with us a bit longer..."

"Oh please..." Candy almost cried, her tears wetting her eyelashes.

"Watch and work with me, Lassie, and this auld bonny Grouse will be right as rain...I need some water, from the well mid hill...it has to be freshly drawn, for the minerals..." she mused.

"I'll go fetch it..." Terry offered. Nana looked at him grateful, she was not expecting him to go get it, as it was his right and rank not to do so. He was gone

"Och, Lassie, come here...ye have the healing hands but more importantly the healing heart...you will save this bird, not I..."

"But..." Candy felt nervous.

"Come, ye be up to this..." the old lady said, assuring her "It is your calling, Lass...he's counting on ye...he will pull through for ye...watch and learn from me..." She went about reassesing the damage, cleaning and redressing his wound.

"Ye did proper bind him, but 'twas not enough...he's dying because of the loss of blood...when My Lord returns, we will give him a drink from the solution I will make..." she explained. She went to a cupboard and pulled several corked jars.

"How long have you been working with animals?" Candy asked, stroking the jet black feathers of the Grouse, who still lain helplessly there.

"I was about your age...when I was left orphaned...me pappy and mamy died of small pox...I was spared...ye are an orphan too, are ye not?"

"Yes..."Candy replied, astonished...how did she?

"I can feel it...the same way you do..."

Candy was going to say something when Terry came back. "Here's the water."

"Moran Taing, My Lord...thank you..." she quickly took a ladleful into a cup, added pinches from the bottles and with the tiniest spoon stirred it.

"Now we need to give it to him...why don't you sit on the corner of my cot, lassie and you, my lord, sit next to her and hold the Grouse's head up...give him the entire serving, lassie..."

"But what if he doesn't drink?" Candy gasped.

"Dinna ye worry, lass...he will..." she winked.

It was uneasy going for the first 5 minutes, Candy and Terry feelling like they were clumsy with their hands, but soon Candy got the hang of it and Terry did too. Soon, the liquid was gone and Little Terry G's bright eyes were shining again and he could hold his head up unassisted.

"He's looking better!" Terry said, amazed.

"The night isn't over yet..." Nana said "He will need watching...in four hours we have to repeat the treatment again...but I will give ye the remedy, you can take him home now..." She handed Terry a small saddle sack.

"I'll go find a place for this, I'll be back..." Terry said, leaving the cottage again.

"Oh, thank you..." Candy gushed. "What do we owe you..."

"Nothing, lass....ye will see, all will be right as a spring morn...and remember, ye two are fated, no matter what...dinna let the troubles of the world make ye doubt...and tomorrow ye will overcome!"

"Oh..." Candy said, not entirely sure what she was talking about...but she knew it had to do with Terry and her.

"Thank you..." Candy said again, kissing the old wizened lady on the cheek.

"Och! That's the best reward an auld lass like me could have!" she smiled

The ride back in the night was more calm and worriless. Little Terry G. was going to be alright. He was already feeling better. They just had to make sure he drank the solutions given by Nana in 4 hours. In 4 hours, she wanted to stay to make sure the grouse was fine. She would have to spend more time at the castle with Terry.  That thought made her happy and a little worried. She was kind of afraid of how she felt when she was alone with him. Even when her head was saying "no, I don’t want to feel that way", her body was happy to have all those unknown sensations. She held Little Terry G. gently, leaning back on Terry’s chest. She closed her eyes... she felt so good.

Terry had the girl he liked leaning on him while they slowly rode back to the castle. He could smell her hair... it smelled good, like fresh air in the morning when he opened the windows of his bedroom... the scent of flowers mixed with grass and fruits. He felt so good when he was with her. She brought out the good in him. He thought about Nana’s words... he was destined to be with Candy. He didn’t need any old wives’ prophecy to tell him that. He had known it from the second he had laid his eyes on her. She had come out of the fog like an angel with her long hair... she was beautiful…

When they arrived at the castle, Terry helped her to come down gently from the horse, with Little Terry G in her arms. They went to the living room in front of the fire place. There was a fire almost dying. Terry put some wood on it. It looked like it was all dead at first, but it started to slowly burn again. There was an old blanket on the floor that Terry had arranged for the grouse earlier. Candy put Little Terry G. on the blanket. The bird was feeling better, but it was also exhausted, so it fell asleep right away.

"The poor thing!  He was so tired and weak," said Candy tenderly.

"He’s happy his mommy Candy came to save his life…"

"His daddy Terry was a big part in that too…" she said softly. "I want to stay with him until we give him his next dose of medicine or whatever it is that Nana gave him…"

"That old lady is wise. Did you hear what she said about the two of us?"

Candy was a little uncomfortable when she thought about what Nana said. She was destined to be with Terry? Her heart was beating and racing. That thought made her ecstatic.  She wanted to be with Terry... she felt good with him and he liked being with her…

"That we’re destined to be together?" she said with a little voice.

"Yes, Candy…she also said not to let the troubles of the world sidetrack us…"

"Terry…"

"You feel it too, don’t you? You like being with me…"

She was thinking about Anthony and how happy she was with him. She thought she was going to live with him for good until tragedy happened.  But when she went to see the fortune teller with Anthony, she had said that there would be a dark cloud... then Anthony died a short time later. This time, Nana told them that there would be troubles ahead, but they were fated… which was different.  She looked into Terry’s blue eyes.

"Yes, Terry, I can feel it too…"

"We already know we’re going to have to fight to be together. Let’s just not lose track of our goal and be strong, no matter what happens. Promise me…"

"I’ll promise if you promise…"

"I promise you Freckles, I won’t let anything separate us…"

"Then I promise you, Terry, that I won’t let anything separate us either…"

They were sitting on the couch in front of the chimney. He opened his arms and she leaned on him. She closed her eyes... she felt good in his arms. Terry was on cloud nine and he closed his eyes to sleep for a few hours until it was time to give Little Terry G. his medicine.

Candy woke up when she felt Terry moving. It was time for Little Terry G.’s medicine.

"How is he?" she asked.

"He's better and he’s taking the medicine well now…" said Terry with smile.

"That’s good," said Candy, smiling.

She petted Little Terry G. gently.

"Thanks for keeping me company Freckles…"

"It was a pleasure, Terrence. I have to go before the nuns realise I’m missing.  I’ll see you later!"

Then she spoke to Little Terry G. with a big smile.  "Mommy will see you at the games too, ok? Be a good boy for daddy!"

Terry smiled and she left the castle to go back to school before the nun’s rounds. Candy climbed the window of her bedroom and she landed on the floor a little abruptly. She looked at her two friends.  They moved a little, but they were still, sound asleep. She took her clothes off and put her night gown on then went to bed. She was able to sleep for a few hours before the day started. She couldn’t stop thinking about Terry and the promise they had made to each other. She felt so good in his arms. She dreamt about Terry…

"Candy! Wake up, sleepy head!" said Annie’s voice.

"Whaaat?" said Candy, still sleeping.

"Come on! What happened to you?" said Patty.  "You’re so tired! It’s like you went out to party while we were sleeping."

Candy had to bite her tongue not to say anything. She wasn’t out partying.  She was taking care of Little Terry G. with Terry all night. She blushed and covered her face with the sheet.

"I’ll be right there, girls," said Candy.

"That’s what you said 10 minutes ago," said Annie.

"I did?" said Candy.

"Yes," said Patty.  "Come on, Candy!"

Candy got out of bed against her will. But the thought that she was going to see Terry and Little Terry G. gave her strength. She got ready with her friends.  After showering and getting dressed, they went downstairs for breakfast. They were a little late and Sister Margaret told them about it.

"Ladies," she said.  "It’s not polite to make everybody wait for you!"

"We’re sorry Sister Margaret," said the girls at the same time.

"That’s okay. Have a seat.  We have to say grace and eat faster now."

After breakfast, they all went to the school court. The boys were already there with Eliza, who was trying to get Terry’s attention by talking to him. He seemed distracted and was barely paying attention to her. Candy saw them from afar and she smiled. Terry had Little Terry G. in his hands. She approached them with a smile.

"Hello, Little Terry G," she said smiling.  "Did you have a good night? Did you miss mommy Candy?"

She was teasing Terry by pretending to ignore him.

"Hey, Freckles, what am I? Chopped liver?"

"Oh, good morning Terrence," she said.  "I didn’t see you…"

They burst out laughing. Eliza sulked and Archie looked at them with mean eyes. Candy, Terry and the grouse were already walking away.

"Let’s go get our uniforms," said Terry.  "Today is the big day. The competition is officially starting. Are you ready?"

"I have to be," she said.  "I had a little trouble waking up this morning…"

"Long night?" he joked.

"Sweet dreams," she said with a smile.

She took Little Terry G.

"I’m so glad he’s feeling better," she said with a big smile.

"Me too… I got attached to the little bird. You made me sentimental, Freckles…"

"The great terror, Terrence Grandchester is just a big softy inside, aww how cute…"

"Shut up, Freckles, you’re going to ruin my reputation…"

They burst out laughing. They put their uniforms on and they joined the others. The games were about to begin.

The games started. It was a tennis game, singles; girls with girls and boys with boys. Whichever member of the team that won the game would get the point for his team. Terry was playing against Wayne and he won the game. Candy was playing against Patty, and Terry’s lessons the day before, panned out.  She was able to beat Patty.

"Terry taught you well Candy," said Patty with a smile.

"Yes, indeed," said Candy, smiling.

The two friends knew it was just a friendly game and they didn’t take it personally. But Eliza, who hated to lose, was very angry to have lost to Annie. She was calling her names!

"Well you beat me because you were raised as an orphan and you learned how to play all these savages games…"

"Whatever, Eliza," said Annie smiling.  "I won…"

Archie was playing against his brother and he won. He was eager to play against Terry.  He wanted to beat him up so much, so beating him at tennis was going to kind of make up for it.

"I’m playing against that snotty nosed kid next," he said to his brother.

"Take it easy, Archie, it’s only a game," said Stear.

"Maybe for you, but not for me. It’s personal…"

"You don’t have any points to score with him…"

"Yes I do, he stole her from me…"

"She was never yours to begin with…"

"I saw her first. I loved her first, she should’ve been with me…"

"But she’s not… she’s with him. Give it up."

"Maybe you can play the indifferent the nice friend, but I can’t!"

Terry spoke to Candy near their mascot.

"I’m playing against your dear cousin…"

"So…?"

"So…? Don’t you see what’s happening?"

"Euh, you’re going to win the game against Archie?" she said innocently.

Terry looked at her, but she pretended that nothing was going on. He just shook his head. The game against Archie was a tough one. The first minutes went smoothly until Archie missed and gave Terry the points. Archie was fuming!  They continued for a little while and Archie got the points. It was a tie!

Candy watched the game and she knew Archie wanted to beat Terry at all cost, but she also knew that there was no way Terry was going to let him win.  She felt like she was the prize they were competing for… and in a weird sort of way she was….

They continued playing.  You could feel the hostility between them just by looking at them. The rivalry between them was palpable. It was now 30-15. Terry was leading. They were not playing a real tennis game which normally takes hours.  They were playing only 3 games. Then there was a tie again. Archie was in the lead for a while, until Terry equalized; 40-40. It’s a deuce; you have to win it by two points. They played for while.  They both had one point. Another deuce…It went on for a while and finally Terry won the game. Archie was fuming, but he decided he was just going to beat him at the next game.

Candy went to see Terry during the break. He was sweating so she brought him some cool water.

"Terry," she said. "Are you ok?"

"Yes, your cousin is a worthy opponent…"

"Why do I feel like you’re competing for me?"

"Because in a weird twisted way, in the dandy’s head, we are…"

"Only in Archie’s head? What about in yours?"

He looked at her and he smiled.

"I don’t need to fight for you. I already have you, Freckles…"

The game between Terry and Archie attracted the attention of everybody. They were both so good that their game took longer to end. They kept having deuces. Archie won the next game. He was jumping with joy. He had beaten Terry! Stear looked at him, smiling.

"Do you feel better?"

"Yes, said Archie. "I could actually win this!"

"Don’t forget, she’s not the prize…."

"You had to be the party pooper, aren’t you bro?"

The last game was the longest, but at long last, Terry won the game. Archie felt so bad, but he had to pretend in front of everybody so he shook Terry’s hand.

"This isn’t over," said Archie between his teeth.

"Bring it on, dandy!" said Terry, smiling.

Terry walked away with Candy to get some rest and to eat something. The nuns had put the lunch outside and they actually let the boys and the girls to eat at the same table.

Naturally, people sat next to the follks they wanted to be close to, so Candy and Terry paired off, Candy keeping Little Terry G. on her lap. Eliza insisted on sitting on the other side of Terry, shoving out Annie in the process. Terry only raised his eyebrow and ignored her.

They partook of the lunch alfresco, with a view of the Loch; Terry and Archie trading barbs about their playing. But Eliza seethed more, everytime she kept asking Terry for a condiment or more of something he would politely but aloofly help her, yet he clearly was talking his head off and being very solicitous with Candy. Eliza almost let her fury get the best of her, when she rememberd the next match was between her and the odious freckled frizzy haired girl....

After repast, the next competition began. Candy was getting better and was able to fend off the plays Eliza was making, which were getting more and more aggressive.

Finally, during a serve, Eliza hit her ball with a furious >WHAP< and the volley found its intended target. Candy only felt as if a rock hit her head, heard a strange bouncing sound and saw an electrical storm in her head...

The minute Candy was struck, Terry flew out of his seat and ran onto the court, followed by everyone else yelling Candy's name.

"Oh! I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sorry..." Eliza said, trying to sound apologetic. "Is she alright?"

"GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU CALLOUS COW!!" Terry yelled, cradling Candy's head in his arms "Freckles...come on...talk to me..."

"OH!! Well, I never! Did you hear wha--" Eliza could not believe what she heard from Terry's mouth.

"Get out of here, Eliza, we all know what you tried to do!!" Archie screamed, interrupting her, ready to slap his cousin for what she did.

"Candice...come on.." Terry pleaded, agonizing. Everyone kept calling her name when suddenly there was a bloodcurdling sound followed by an equally hair raising scream. Stunned, everyone turned around...somehow, despite his weakness, the Black Grouse, acting on nature's reflex in spite of his wounds, was in a rage...he had managed to attack Eliza and was furiously clawing her on her back.

"AUUUGHGGHHHHHHHHHHH.....OH, HELP!! HELP!! THIS INFERNAL DEVIL IS ATTACKING ME!!!" Eliza screamed, trying to reach her attacker who was pecking at her with great gusto.

"By the love of St. George!!" Terry gasped, astonished at the Grouse's drive. Candy suddenly came to. "What's going on?" she murmured, her head hurting.

"Cornwell, take over..." Terry said, as Archie didn't need to be told twice. Terry knew Candy would never forgive him if something happened to Little Terry G.

"Gor Blimey, Little Terry G!!" Terry exclaimed, collecting the grouse in one fell swoop. Once the fowl felt Terry's hands and presence he stopped and clucked in recognition.

"OH, BOO HOOO....Terry..." Eliza tried, but Terry rebuffed her.

"I'd personally beat you myself, if I wasn't a gentleman!!" Terry scathed. He wanted to wring her neck.

"Oh! How dare you!??" Eliza huffed, miffed.

"Yes, Eliza Leegan, how dare you..." Mother Grey interjected. She had seen the whole thing from afar and was horrorized...it was clear Eliza had purposely tried to hurt Candy with her serve .

"Oh, Mother Grey, it was an accident!" Eliza tried to play dumb.

"Perhaps you can convince yourself of such after a couple of days in the isolation room. I'm barring you from the competiton for unsportsmanlike behavior!"

Terry set the grouse down to check on Candy again.

Little Terry G. preened proudly and strutted a bit. He was feeling less than stellar, but his spirit didn't know other wise.

Candy was trying to stand up, but she felt like everything was moving around her.

"Whoa!" she said, tipsy.

"Easy Freckles," said Terry.  "You just passed out…"

"I’m fine…. I think… what’s going on?" she asked again.

"You were hit," said Archie, "by Eliza…"

"Yes," said Annie coming next to her with a wet towel. "Mother Grey banned her from the competition…here put this towel on your head."

"What?" said Candy.  "Thanks, Annie."

"And your little protégé here attacked Eliza," said Patty.

"My what? Who? How? What the heck are you talking about Patty?" she asked, still a little dizzy.

Terry approached her with the grouse in his hands.

"Little Terry G. attacked Eliza in your defence," said Terry.  "He was protecting his mummy."

"Awww," said Candy taking him.  "Aren’t we the little fighter? You defended mommy Candy? It was very brave, but that mean redhead could’ve hurt you badly… don’t forget you’re still recovering…"

"We’ve got a little fighter in our hands," said Terry with a smile.  "I’ll give him more of his medicine."

The others were looking at them smiling. Archie walked away. His two minutes of happiness were over. Terry was back with the little beast and they looked so close all three of them, almost like….a family!!! He complained to his brother.

"Look at them! Getting all ecstatic in front of that bird! They are actually bonding with the bird!!!"

"Well , you have to say, the bird kind of did what none of us had the courage to do; attack Eliza!!" said Stear laughing.  "That was priceless!!!"

"What can I say, even the bird is in love with her! Like Grandchester wasn’t enough, I now have to compete with the bird! With both Terrys!!!"

Stear burst out laughing. Meanwhile, Candy finally realised that Eliza was banned and she felt bad.

"Freckles," said Terry.  "What are you doing?"

"I’m going to talk to the reverend mother…"

"What for?"

"To ask her not to punish Eliza…"

"Freckles…"

"It might have been an accident..."

"You really believe that?"

"No, but I don’t want her punished from the games because of me.  She could give Eliza a first warning…"

Terry looked at her and he was amazed by her compassion. She walked to the reverend mother who was with Sister Margaret.

"Mother Grey?" said Candy.

"Yes, my child? Are you all right?" asked the reverend mother.  "Do you want to go and lie down in your bedroom?"

"No, I’m fine, Mother Grey. I wanted to talk to you about Eliza."

"She’s punished accordingly. What she did was inadmissible."

"Well it was an accident… don’t punish her because of me. Give her a warning…"

Mother Grey looked at the young blond girl with freckles who had called her an "old hag" and she was moved by her kindness.

"Please Mother Grey, have mercy for Eliza," pleaded Candy.

"Very well then, as you wish. But if she pulls another stunt like that, she will be disqualified from the games for good, no matter how you plead her case!"

"Thank you Mother Grey," said Candy with a smile.

Eliza was allowed to stay in the games, but she was sulking because Candy of all people, defended her… not her brother, not her cousins, not her friends, not "her Terrence", but Candy... the girl she had just physically hurt on purpose….

Candy went back next to Terry and the grouse.

"You did it," said Terry.

"Yes…"

"Do you know you’re adorable when you do good to someone who did you wrong?"

"Well the bible does say to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us?"

"Cluck!" said Little Terry G.

"You agree with me don’t you Little Terry G.?"

"Well it’s official," said Terry.  "You’re an angel on earth!!!"

"Terry, that’s blasphemy!!!"

They burst out laughing. Candy’s head was still hurting a little. She was allowed to rest till the next day. She was trying to cheer for her friends with Little Terry G. on her lap, screaming with her.

By the end of the first day, the standings going into the next day were as follows:

Team 8 (Grantchester/Andrew) 1st
Team 4 (Cornwell/Leegan) 2nd
Team 2 (Cornwell/Brighton 3rd
Team 10 (Smythe/O'Brien) 4th
Team 6 (Leegan/Whitmore) 5th

The following day was doubles day. Whichever team scored the hightest total of points accumulated at the end of day two would win the tournament, get their picture taken with Mother Grey and receive a silver loving cup in commemoration.

Eliza was flustered, she didn't know what else she was going to do to Candy, now that everyone was scrutinizing her every move. She couldn't even get Neil to do something, he would be suspect too! There was only one way... it was to outplay Team 8! Thank Goodness her stupid cousin Archibald was a great player!! She went to sleep dreaming about her moves and serves...at least, if she got to play against team 8, she could watch Terry front on... he was so mad earlier, but he was so darn dashing and manly!!! She almost forgot how wretched he made her feel with his insults!!

In her room, Candy was nursing her aching head.  She wanted to go to Terry's manor so bad to visit and check on little Terry G...what a feisty little critter, he was! One night he was almost dead, the next day he sprung into action to defend her...that must have been some conconction Old Nana came up with...maybe she should get some for her headache, that way she would feel better.  Her heart warmed when she remembered that Terry was so worried about her...Terry...

"I'm going...." she muttered to herself "I don't care if my head feels like its splitting..." She made sure the Girl's House was quiet with no activity. Sister Margaret had checked on her several times, worried, making sure she was okay and giving her some Bayer for the pain. The coast was clear, and she made her way.  She felt a little queer and it was slower than she liked.

Finally she got to Terry's Manor but felt as if her head was about to roll off her neck. She knocked almost desperately at this point...she realized how foolish she had been in venturing out, exerting herself. There was no answer. She knocked again

"Terry...it's me..." she cried, suddenly feeling faint. "What did I get myself into, now..." she gasped, feeling herself slide into a black unknown.

At that very minute, Terry, in a sleepy haze opened the door. Candy's body slumped over into his surprised arms.

"Freckles...what the?" he was thrilled to see her, but even he knew she had been foolish to come over, having been hurt earlier.

He collected her and took her to his bedroom, since the fire in the great sitting room had long died down, and the one in his room was still roaring. Even little Terry G was cozy in there. This one became aware of what was going on and woke up with chattering cluck, stirring in the basket Terry had put him in next to the fireplace.

Terry set Candy down on his side of the bed, where it was still warm. He was wondering what to do to make her come...when it came to first aid, he had two left thumbs...The grouse joined him on the bed, making soothinig rrrrroooooo rrrroooo sounds, and laying down next to Candy....Christ, even the bird knows what to do, Terry marvelled. Should he give her a shot of whiskey? Or mouth to mouth resucitation? What to do!! What to do...

Mouth to mouth? No, you do mouth to mouth when the person doesn’t breathe, and Candy was breathing. He went to get a wet towel to put it on her forehead.

"Freckles, Freckles…please wake up, Freckles…"

Little Terry G was with his daddy worried about his mommy Candy. Candy was starting to move her head and she was hearing Terry’s voice calling her Freckles and Little Terry G. making noises.

"Oh…"

"Candy! Finally!" said Terry.  "You scared me…"

"What happened?"

"You passed out again…"

"Oh…"

"What posessed you to come here instead of staying in bed?"

"Well… I …wanted to make sure Little Terry G. was alright…and…"

"Freckles, you’re incorrigible! You have to think about yourself first!"

"But…"

"Don’t argue with me. Close your eyes, now and sleep. You can’t go back now, you might pass out on your way back or while your climbing through the window."

"You’re right, my head is killing me…. I need to close my eyes…"

"Sleep Freckles, you’ll feel better in a few hours."

Candy closed her eyes and tried to forget about her headache. She just wanted to sleep… but she was on Terry’s bed, it was so much more comfortable than the one at school. Terry was looking at her sleeping... she looked like an angel. She was so generous; she didn’t think about her health… or maybe she wanted to see him absolutely. He laid down next to her after putting Little Terry G. on the blankets on the floor.

Candy was feeling good.  She was in a field running and Terry was with her. Little Terry G, was there too. She felt so good. She was playing tag and Terry caught up with her and he was hugging her. She felt so good in his arms, she didn’t want to leave them. She opened her eyes and for a few moments, she wondered where she was. She heard someone's regular breathing and she felt the warmth of a body. But what the…. Terry! She wanted to push him away, but she stayed there, feeling good. She must’ve moved a little because she heard Terry’s voice;

"Freckles? How’s your headache?"

"Much better, thank you…I have to go back to school…"

She was saying that but she was not moving one inch. She felt so good in Terry’s arms.

"But you’re not moving, Freckles…"

"I’m still a little sleepy," she said, blushing.

"Or you don’t want to leave the comfort of my arms," he said with a mocking tonel.

"Oh you!" she said, pushing him away.

But her head hurt when she did that. She put her hand on her forehead.

"Oh my head!"

"Easy, Candy. You’re still sick…"

"Stop teasing me, then!"

"I’m sorry, Miss Tarzan…"

"Terry!!!"

"I’m sorry. I’ll stop…."

He took her in his arms and held her for a while.

"I’ll take you back to school…"

"Alright…"

"Unless you want to stay for the night…"

"And get expelled for spending the night at a boy’s house? No way!"

"It’s a thought…"

She went to see Little Terry G. and she pet him a little.

"I don’t know if I’ll be able to play today…"

"Take some of Little Terry G’s medicine…"

"What? But…"

"Well, you saw how he was almost instantly up and running after his first dose…"

She looked at him surprised. Take the grouse’s remedy? Well it did help Little Terry G a lot and he had a gunshot wound…Well what the heck? What did she have to lose? She was already incapacitated by her headache.

"This is crazy," she said.  "I can’t believe I’m saying this…give me some of Little Terry G’s remedy…"

"Way to go Freckles! You’re going to be up and running in no time!"

He gave her the medicine and it had a weird taste.

"It doesn’t taste good…" she said.

"It’s a medicine, Freckles, it’s not suppose to taste good."

He put the medicine away and got ready to walk her to school. They went downstairs after she said goodbye to Little Terry G. He took her to the barn to get Theodora and they went back to school quietly. She was holding on to his waist and she closed her eyes. She was sleeping by the time they got to school.

"Wake up Freckles, you have to get off…"

"Oh…. Already?" she said with a sleepy voice.  "Tthanks Terry. See you later."

"Bye Freckles, see you later…"

She went back to her room and slipped into her bed before Sister Margaret came to check on her to see how she was feeling.

"How’s your head child?" she asked Candy.

"Much better, thank you!"

"That’s good then, the bayer must be working…"

The bayer? Yeah right! That thing didn’t work at all! Nana’s homemade remedy was starting to work already. But she couldn’t say that to Sister Margaret! She was going to be ready in the morning to win this competition!

The next day was full of buzz and excitement...everyone knew that soon a team was going to emerge victorious and have bragging rights for the rest of the year. Even though there were standings, the dynamics now changed, as a result of the team playing doubles.  If a team member wasn't that good but the other one was, things balanced out.

Candy got up, feeling better...but she was shocked to see the huge shiner dead center on her forehead. It was an angry purple and it felt hot to the touch. She tried to brush her bangs over it but couldn't really hide it.

"Wonderful! If some girls think I'm a freak, they are really going to have a field day now!" she moaned. She put on her tennis uniform and made her way to breakfast. Everyone asked how she felt and truth was, she felt fine...except for the shiner.

"Oh, I hope its not permanant..." Eliza slightly snickered, and Candy knew she was secretly hoping it was. "I'm so sorry..."

"I'm sorry too, that you couldn't defend yourself against a Grouse..." Candy retorted.

Eliza's eyes slitted a bit at the comment. "Well! I guess we will find out soon who is the Queen of the Courts!" Eliza tried to change the conversation "I promise I will be more accurate with my serves..."

"May the best woman win..." Candy replied.

The teams regrouped and prepared for the eliminatory rounds. It was going to be sudden death.

"Good Morning, Miss Andrew, how are we feeling today?" Terry asked, then "Good God...I hope it only looks worse than how it feels." He gently touched Candy's forehead. It sent a shiver down her back

"It does...how's our little mascot?" she looked over at Little Terry G. who was sitting over on the side of the field, looking very alert and quite content with his current situation.

"I'll say that if I didn't know any better, he's as good as new...that's some remedy he got..." Terry marvelled. That Nana did have a way with healing critters!

"Well, let's hope it will help me...after last night..." Candy mused.

"What about last night??" Terry whispered complicity with a sly smile.

"ATTENTION!! ROUND ONE WILL START...TEAM 8 AGAINST TEAM 2, TO THE COURT, PLEASE!!"

And so the elminatory rounds started. Candy and Terry played well, and where Candy started faltering given her condition, Terry was able to keep up or morallly support her to keep up. Finally at the end of the day, the two top teams with the majority of points, who would play into the finals the next day, were announced.

"TEAM 4 WILL PLAY AGAINST TEAM 8!"

"It figures...it will be Terry and I against Archie and Eliza!!" Candy wailed.

"But you played really well, considering what happened to you yesterday!" Patty encouraged, as she petted Little Terry G. That grouse was really good luck...if she would have been whapped by a ball, she would still be in bed.

"You have 24 hours to strategize..." Stear suggested.

Terry had the Grouse in his hands and Candy was standing next to them.

"Should we expect a visit from Mummy Candy tonight?" he whispered.

"What do you think?" she said.  "Wild horses, couldn’t keep me away from my two boys…"

"That’s what I thought," he said, smiling.

"I’m going to try not to faint in your arms…"

"I’m really fine with you falling literally in my arms, you know that? It’s so good to take care of you."

"Thank you, Terry…"

"Nice game by the way…"

"We’ll have to beat them tomorrow…"

"We’re playing against our biggest rivals."

"What do you mean?"

"Well the dandy is my biggest rival, he wants to be with you, and the redhead is your biggest rival.  She’s already sending out the invitations for her wedding with me…"

Candy burst out laughing.

"I thought you liked the attention of girls!"

"That was before I met a freckled face in the fog on the deck of the boat…."

Candy blushed and smiled.

"Well I guess we’ll have to show them that we’re the better team and that we belong together…by winning the game tomorrow!"

"That’s the spirit. How’s your forehead?"

"It’s not hurting….but it’s annoying."

"You still look pretty to us, doesn’t she, Little Terry G?"

"Cluck!" said Little Terry G.

"Thanks. I’m going to go and change and eat. I’ll come to see you two later."

"Bye Mummy Candy," said Terry.

"Cluck," said Little Terry G.

"Bye Terry, bye Little Terry G." she said with a smile.

Archie was looking at the scene from afar. Eliza was next to him.

"Don’t they just look so cute?" she said ironically.

"Yeah," said Archie, "like a stupid little family…"

"That pathetic stable girl never had a family in her life so she’s shamelessly forcing Terry to be one with that stupid bird!!!"

Stear arrived and he heard Eliza’s remark.

"Well I don’t see him been forced to do anything. He seems to be in seventh heaven…"

"Stear…" said Archie.

"Face it bro, she likes him, not you!"

"Well, I like Terry," said Eliza, "and I’m going to get rid of that stable girl, if it’s the last thing I do!"

She left to go talk to her friends. Archie stayed with his brother.

"What a girl!" said Stear.

"No, she knows what she wants, and she goes for it. I wish I had her guts…."

"You don’t wish you were mean like her?"

"Well at least I wouldn’t have any scruples..."

"And you think Candy would’ve liked you like that?"

"Well Grandchester is a snotty nose kid.  She seems to like him fine."

"She’s in love with him… never mind. It’s no use talking to you. It’s like hitting a brick wall over and over."

Dinner was fun. Everybody talked about the events of the day and everybody congratulated Candy on her effort and quick recovery. Candy thanked Nana’s potion in her heart. If only it could get rid of that nasty bump on her forehead!

Sneaking out of school to go to the Grandchester castle was kind of exciting for Candy. It made her more willing to see Terry and Little Terry G. even stronger... her two "boys". They were like a little family... she always wanted a normal family. If God was willing, she was going to have a real family with Terry and the children they were going to have together. Children? What was she thinking? But it wasn’t that far fetched. Terry liked her a lot and he didn’t seem tired of seeing her every day and night and as for Nana’s prediction... Terry and her were destined to be together! But what were  the obstacles was she talking about? Anyway, she made a vow not to let anything or anyone come between her and Terry. She felt a little arrogant, but… Terrence Graham Grandchester was hers, and she was proud of it.

The doors were open since Terry was waiting for her with Little Terry G. She found them in the living room, in front of the chimney. The Grouse was walking around, which was a change. He usually just sits there, dozing off.

Terry smiled when he saw her and Little Terry G. walked to her to greet her. She picked him up.

"Hello, Little Terry G.! It’s so good to see you up and running!"

She gave him a little kiss on the head. Terry smiled.

"Hello Terry," she said softly.

She sat next to him on the couch.

"Can’t I have a kiss like him too?" he said.

"Of course," she said.

She put the grouse on the floor.

"Go and walk around Little Terry G., while mommy kisses daddy…"

"Cluck!" said Little Terry G.

Candy took Terry’s face. She approached her lips... and kissed him on the forehead!!! Terry knew she wasn’t serious, but he had hoped she would be for a second. The forehead was better than nothing!

"But…" said Terry.

"I kissed Little Terry G. on the head. You did say you wanted a kiss like his, didn’t you?"

He looked at her with so much love. She had the sense of humour when she wanted to!

"Right," he said, smiling. "How are you?"

"I’m fine. I kind of like sneaking out every night to see you…"

"If you were alone in your bedroom, I would’ve come to your room," he said.

"Oh… really? Why?"

"To see you of course!"

"Alone in my bedroom?"

"It’s not like I’ve never been in your bedroom..."

"That was a mistake!  You had no intention of coming into my room that night."

"But I did!"

"And you were a snotty nosed kid who didn’t even wait for me! I risked punishment to help you."

"I know, I’m sorry. That was very nice of you."

"Why didn’t you stay? Why didn’t you tell me that then?"

"Because I was a boor and a lout with no manners whatsoeve.  I was lucky to have fallen into your very capable hands and I couldn’t even appreciate it or show that I was grateful. Can you forgive for being so…"

"Impossible? Yes of course, Terry. I forgive you."

"Thank you. I was saying I would’ve come to your bedroom…"

"A gentleman in a young girl's bedroom without a chaperon?"

"You’re afraid I’m going to compromise your reputation? If that’s the case It would be a pleasure for me to marry you and salvage your reputation…"

"Would that be the only reason?"

"No, of course not. That and the fact that I couldn’t get you out my head... I tried, but I couldn’t…"

"You know you can’t really turn off those… involuntary feelings on demand. I tried, believe, it doesn’t work."

"Well you know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them!"

They burst out laughing. Candy looked at him; they were so happy. Little Terry G. must have felt the love in the air, because he came to be near them. He sat at their feet in front of the fireplace.

"We look like a weird little family," said Candy.

"I want a family with you Candy," he said seriously.

Candy’s heart jumped in her chest. She was thinking the same thing on her way there.

"A family with me?" she said with a little voice.

"Yes, I want girls with freckles like yours and boys with freckles like yours."

"I want boys with brown hair like yours…and girls with nice hair like your mother’s…"

They looked at each other and she approached him as he opened his arms. She put her head on his chest.

"Do I have the right to dream Terry? I’ve never had parents or a real family… maybe I’m not suppose to dream…"

"You have to have a dream, Candy that’s the purpose of living, to make our dreams come true…You and I want a family together, we know what we want, all we have to do is make it come true, at all cost…"

She stayed in Terry’s arm, tears running down her cheeks. She was overjoyed.

"You’re crying, Freckles..."

"I’m so happy to have you to share my dreams with, Terry," she said, wiping her tears.

"You gave me a purpose in life, with your kindness, you touched my heart…"

He kissed her hair. She closed her eyes and fell asleep in his arms, overjoyed and happy to have Terry, the boy she loved... to share her future with.

Candy awoke close to dawn, and realized that she had fallen asleep in Terry’s arms. The great sitting room was still warm with the embers of the fire that had blazed the night before. Little Terry G. was as sound asleep as his namesake. Candy slid out of Terry’s arms, trying not to disturb him. She regarded him for a moment…he seemed so at peace and content with himself, she marveled. She crept by the Grouse who felt her motion as she went by and clucked in recognition.

"Shhhhh….I’m going now…you need to be on your best luck today.  It is a big day for all of us…" she murmured. By the way the critter looked at her, she could have sworn he understood. What a strange yet charming wild creature this Grouse was, she couldn’t help wonder.

She managed to slip into her St. Paul’s dorm room unnoticed. She slid into her bed, her mind still going over what she and Terry had shared just a few hours before…the previous night had seemed like a dream to Candy. She didn’t realize how it could be possible to be truly in harmony, without any effort, with someone else. She drifted into a world of sybaritic sensations, when she felt herself being nudged gently.

"Candice White Andrew…are you up to playing today?" It was Sister Margaret.

"Er…what? Where?" she asked, sleepy eyed.

Sister Margaret laughed. "It’s the big final today…you will play best of seven matches. You better get along and have some breakfast, you will need it…"

Best of seven matches? What was this, a marathon? Candy ruefully thought to herself.

Soon, she was out on the courts…the entire school had assembled to watch the finals, and the air was almost crackling with energy.

Terry smiled grandly at her, with a knowing glint in his eye. "Top o’the morning to you, Miss Andrew…and how did we sleep last night?"

"I…" Candy for a moment felt unable to speak and blushed.

"That shiner seems to be going down, thank goodness…" Terry said gently, touching her forehead lightly.

Archie saw the gesture and felt a dagger in the pit of his stomach. Eliza saw the gesture and felt her blood roil. I’m going to show her!!

"Candice, this is going to be a long day for us…please pace yourself…and don’t worry, I’ll do the heavy lifting…you have to make it…promise me…" Terry advised.

Candy nodded. She looked over at Annie, Patty and Stear…he was holding the Grouse today. They waved and cheered for her, and even more interestingly, little Terry G. flapped both his wings and gave out a cry.

He’s almost better! Candy marveled, touched at the fowl’s support.

The matches started, all played with fierce determination, neither team ready to give up easily. Match one belonged to Terry and Candy, the second match to Terry and Candy…the third match Archie and Eliza came back…..the fourth match, Terry and Candy again…by the fifth match, Candy felt her energy wane, but true to his promise Terry kept up and poured himself even more into the game…yet they still managed to lose…as well as the sixth one…there was no choice, it was going to Seven.

"You need to hang on Freckles…pull everything you got in you!" Terry chuffed, as they went into the seventh match. It was a tight game, and almost the sum of the previous six rounds. Finally, it all hinged on one point…Eliza served with all her might and the volley shot out like a rocket, towards Candy. She saw it and ran to position herself…it was coming in low and she knew she would have to almost dive to return the volley…then…the long day took its toll…Candy’s legs gave out…she missed the whizzing ball by a centimeter and she crashed into the ground with a huge oofff!!

OOOOHHHH the crowd in the stands cried, standing up.

Cluck! Little Terry G. emoted, a bit crestfallen.

"WE WON WE WON!!" Eliza gloated, as she danced around, wanting to clap her hand with Archie’s in victory. But young Cornwell had raced to Candy’s side to see if she was okay, knowing with deep chagrin that Grandchester was going to minister to her.

Both Terry and Archie were there in a flash, worried.

"Candice…are you alright?" Terry asked, anxiously.

"We lost…" Candy moaned.

"That’s alright Candice…I just need to know you are okay…" Terry meant it. He didn’t care about the stupid tournament, as far as he was concerned.

"I’m…I’m fine…I’m sorry, Terry…I messed up…" Candy almost felt her eyes water…they had been so close!! Still, she composed herself and smiled broadly at her cousin "You played so well, Archie!! You deserve to be the winner!" she slowly got up and hugged him. Archie, thrilled hugged her back, yet the victory felt hollow to him…it was apparent to his own eyes with the interchanges between Candy and that darn aristocrat, they were more of a couple that they themselves let on. He would give anything to be in Terry’s shoes…yet, his eyes caught the warm indigo gaze of Annie who was clapping and smiling at him. Annie couldn’t hide her adoration of him and he felt a little discomfited.

"Good show, Grandchester…" he mumbled, shaking Terry’s hand.

"Yes, good show…you play well, Cornwell! I’d have another set with you, anytime…" Terry smiled earnestly.

Eliza fumed visibly, because no one was paying attention to her. She won, yet everyone was fawning over that loser stable girl!!!

In short succession, the St. Paul’s Summer School Tennis Tournament of 1913 was over. The first place team got their silver loving cup, their picture with Mother Grey and the cheers and ovation from the crowd.

The second place team had a chattering grouse on their hands. The school started to disassemble and walk back to their respective dorms before supper. Candy and Terry were about to talk about Little Terry G’s latest turn, when they spied Old Nana at the far end of the field. She approached them.

"Och! Mighty fine game there, ye had…’twas a hard loss…" she said, warmly.

"It’s alright..it was just a game…" Terry mumbled.

"Oh, Nana! Little Terry G. is so much better…thanks to you…" Candy enthused, hugging the old lady.

"Dinna worry, Lassie, I told ye so…ye did as much as I did…ye gave him a chance to live…"

"But he seems a little…restless…" Candy couldn’t quite describe it.

"Och! Well, 'tis mating season for him…he wants to go find his own bonnie grouse to have a family with…" Nana explained.

"Ma…mat--" Candy couldn’t say the word in front of Terry.

"What should we do? Is he even well to be released into the wild?" Terry asked, amused at Candy’s reticence.

"Come to me home at dawn…I’ll show ye where to go…and dinna worry, he’s alright…trust me, as you should trust what I have told ye…"

Theodora’s hooves crunched in the quiet of the early morning hours…Candy and Terry were riding her back to Old Nana’s cottage. Little Terry G. was in Candy’s arms, and she herself was enclosed by Terry’s own strong arms. They didn’t say much…the very moment seemed magical, with early rays of pale mauve and purples starting to streak the sky. They arrived and found the old lady waiting for them.

"Guid morning…" she smiled, pleased with the tableau in front of her. "Ye look well!"

"Yes thank you…" Candy said, as Terry helped her down.

"Where we go, we dinna need your mount, My Lord…" she indicated to him, and Terry went ahead and tethered the horse. "I will show ye the secret glen where his kind meets…come with me…" she started, and the two youths followed her. Terry took Candy’s free hand in his and for a moment she was startled at the gesture, yet quickly felt a warmness permeate her. They walked a little over and found themselves at a glen, where to their surprise, a few other Black Grouse were gathered. The females were smaller and speckled brown and white. At the sight, Little Terry G. wriggled impatiently.

"He be best gone with his kin now, Lass…" Old Nana said.

Candy wanted to cry…she truly loved the Grouse. She held him tight and whispered "Thank you for everything, Little Terry G…I’m going to miss you…" She set him gently on the ground, heavy with fragrant heather. The Grouse seemed to look at them, with his knowing dark eyes, gave a few clucks as if he said goodbye and hurriedly went over to the other grouse assembled.

"Are you sure he will be alright?" Terry asked. He still couldn’t believe that this animal, almost dead a few days ago was being let back into the wild.

"Aye, My Lord…one day, you too will know when the time is right for you to go back to your true heart…" she replied.

Suddenly, Candy was riveted by what happened next. Little Terry G, who had gone amongst the other grouse, a number of about 20 males and females, crouched low, fluffed up his white undertail, raised his long, lyre shaped tail feathers, puffed his neck and jumped in the air, making the same rrroooooo rooooooooo call she had heard from him once.

"What’s going on?" Candy whispered.

"He’s…he’s trying to attract a female…" Terry responded, equally astonished. Mesmerized they watched him, performing a dance with grace and raw passion.

"Nana…why does he…" Candy asked, but Old Nana was gone. Together, they continued to watch him, until finally, a greyhen approached and reciprocated Little Terry G.’s display.

"Oh!!" Candy marveled.

"He’s got himself an old lady!" Terry laughed, jokingly.

"Terry! Don’t joke! Our little boy just got married…" Candy punched him in the arm.

"Little boy?" Terry smiled into her eyes.  Candy was all emotional over this! In the warm glow of the morning light, she had never looked more beautiful to him. Her eyes shone with a deep green fire.

Suddenly, he felt a little emotional too.

"Candice…" he murmured, a bit nervously "Candice…do you remember what we promised each other?" he asked in a muted voice.

Candy’s mind came off what she had just watched and focused on Terry…he wasn’t joking anymore, she could tell. He had that look in his eyes, similar to the one she had seen at the May Festival, yet this time there was deeper appreciation and devotion in it. She felt her heart beat in her ears and it raced faster when he turned her into him. "Yes…I do…" she murmured, her mouth seemingly slow in its movements, her breathing escaping in soft anticipating pulses.

"It is our dream…a dream we will make into our reality…" he whispered, cupping her chin and taking her lips softly between his. She corresponded his tender movements, leaning into him, his arms taking her closer into him. He thought she was divine, feeling as if she passed the very sun into him, reaching in every single corner of his heart, mind and soul; she felt he was glorious, feeling as if he held the celestial flames and was imbuing her with an everlasting flare.

When they parted, they stood there, basking in their mutual light and in the rays of new day.

From his lek, with his new mate, Little Terry G. almost smiled in his own Grouse knowledge. He had been given another chance to live and had managed to bring a pair of humans closer... all was right with the world.

EPILOGUE

The couple stopped short of the glen and watched with great interest at what was happening. It was mating season for the Black Grouse. For a few years now, the couple came, as if they were participating in the ritual themselves, to observe the mating dances. Yet, they secretly yearned to find a special little bird again…a special creature that so many years ago had come into their lives and made his impression on their collective history.

So many things had happened since, a seemingly lifetime of travails, heart aches and sorrows…yet when it had seemed like all hope was lost, everything they had hoped and wished for had come true. It was then that they remembered the sage fortelling of a wise, kind lady…words that had been forgotten in the turnmoil and desolation of what had happened.

Now, many a summer was spent in the Manor that had once been witness to the promise they had made to each other, and many a visit was paid to the glen where they had sealed it. But despite their efforts, they could not locate their little feathered friend. Yet their fascination with the Black Grouse species was undiminished; they enjoyed watching the early morning dances of mating pairs.

"Well…darling, all we can hope for is that Little Terry G. lived a good Grouse’s life, with his old Lady…"

"You and your clever jokes!"

"You laughed, the last time I checked, sweetheart…"

"Well, why deny it, you do make me laugh…but you can’t call me your Old Lady…"

"But you are, Freckles, are you not?"

"I wish he was around…"

Then, to their surprise, they saw a male wheel around close to where they were…he seemed dignified and somehow acknowledging of their presence. For a moment, they regarded each other, and the couple thought for a minute this was their bird. He clucked throatily, then moved on, a gleam in his dark brown eyes.

They then felt that it had all come full circle. They went back to their manor, hand in hand, as much if not more in love than they had been that summer day, 1913.

THE END