Hettie

Photo by rivage on Unsplash

You can read the story from the beginning here. This episode is a response to Writing Prompt Number 27

Sir Thomas knocked on the door of the neat cottage on the edge of Wetherby. He frowned a little as he waited. Everything was in order but it looked tired. A lot could change in ten years, especially if some of the people involved were vindictive. He forced a smile as the door opened. “Hello, Hettie, it’s good to see you.” He took a deep breath. “I hope you don’t mind me visiting.”

“Tommy?” Hettie stared at him. “It is you. What are you doing here? I didn’t expect… I mean, it’s been so long…” She trailed off and held out a tentative hand before shaking her head and getting some control. “Don’t just stand there. Come in.”

Sir Thomas smiled. “Right away.”

“I’ve nothing in,” Hettie grumbled as she led him into the immaculate cottage. “I’ve no idea what to feed you. Come into the parlour.”

“Can’t I sit in the kitchen with you?” Sir Thomas asked. “I always loved sitting in your kitchen.”

“Of course you were with me in the kitchen,” Hettie said, guiding Sir Thomas through a door and into a gleaming kitchen. “I was the cook.”

She had been much more than a cook to Sir Thomas and his brother. “You were the best,” Sir Thomas said. “I didn’t realise that you’d leave. I came back from London and you’d gone.”

“Well, your parents didn’t want to keep me on, not with you gone,” Hettie said. “They said that perhaps I should retire.” She sniffed as she filled the kettle. “Like I couldn’t manage the kitchen just the same as ever.”

“You were always an amazing cook,” Sir Thomas said, quick to change the subject. “I really missed it when I went away to school.”

“Your mum used to get me to make up parcels of the good stuff for you every week,” Hettie said. She waved Sir Thomas into a kitchen chair. “She missed you a lot.”

“I was lucky,” Sir Thomas said. “We didn’t do so bad. Not like a lot of the other kids.” His contemporaries had grown up with nannies and tutors. He had grown up in the rambling manor house with the erratic love and affection of his parents, the gardeners, the household staff and especially Hettie as she reigned in the outdated kitchen. “They didn’t get another cook, you know,” he said. “Mother usually cooks for her and father. The staff live out.” He fought the instinct to help Hettie with cups and plates. She may be older but she was still as sharp. “I got your address from them after I saw you at The White Hart.”

“So you were there,” Hettie said. She avoided his eyes as she placed a large mug of tea in front of him. “I thought I saw you.”

“I didn’t come empty handed,” Sir Thomas said. “I called in at a few places.” He lifted a clutch of bags onto the table. “There’s some biscuits from Betty’s in there.”

“Spending how much on stuff from there!” Hettie exclaimed. “And what are you doing in that sort of place.”

“You can’t live in York and ignore its most famous tea shop,” Sir Thomas teased.

“And what were you doing in The White Hart?” Hettie asked quietly. She pulled out the artisan bagels. “In fact, what are you doing around here at all? The last that I heard was that you went down to an investment bank.” She pulled the old fashioned pat of butter from the fridge. “When did you become a Knight Templar?”

Sir Thomas watched her old, capable hands as she sliced the bagels. “That’s how it goes in our family,” he said. “The oldest son gets the title and the land and the younger sons go into finance.” He glanced at Hettie but she was still keeping her eyes on the bagels that she slipped into a toaster. “It’s a long story. I was happy enough in London and Robert was getting used to farming when I had a chance to meet up with Robert just outside Evesham. I was on the way to visit a friend, he was on his way to check out some breeding stock, so we had dinner and stayed overnight at this country pub.” He swallowed. “It was disputed territory between packs.” He took a careful sip of his hot tea. “That’s packs of werewolves.” He watched Hettie meticulously unpack the bags. “Robert was killed. There wasn’t a bite. He was thrown across the room and his neck broke.”

“I’m sorry, Tommy,” Hettie said. “You were always close.”

“I saw you at the funeral, but I didn’t have a chance to speak,” Sir Thomas said.

“It wasn’t really my place,” Hettie said. “But I wouldn’t have missed it.”

“I agreed to spend some time with the Knights Templar, as a way to perhaps avenge Robert, or at least to stop anyone else suffering the same way.” Sir Thomas watched Hettie pull the bagels from the toaster and expertly spread them with butter. “Though I’ll have to return to the manor when father retires. As it is, I’ve been thrown in the deep end a little and I’ve been in a few tight spots and so the Knights Templar sent me to get some experience working with non-normals who don’t want to rip my head off.” He grinned. “A few have demanded to see the manager and there’s an elfen romance going on so I’ve had to duck out of the way of flying plates a few times, but it’s not been too bad at all. It’s a lot better than the bank.”

“I always said that you could do anything, Tommy,” Hettie whispered.

“And that’s how I know,” Sir Thomas said. “I mean, I always knew that there was something, but I could put all the pieces together. You’re a stray, aren’t you? A werewolf without a pack.”

Hettie sat abruptly on the kitchen chair. “My pack broke up when you were about three,” she said. “I couldn’t leave you and Robert. You were like my own cubs. And what with one thing and another, I never found another place.”

Sir Thomas reached over and took her hand. “Let me introduce to some of the pack at The White Hart,” he said. “They’re not scary at all. They’re a sub pack of York, but they’re known to be welcoming to outsiders. The head of the pack runs a plumbing business and his wife is a market gardener. They have a few youngsters around that could use an older figure.” He managed a smile. “You know, someone to tell them to mind their manners and bake them biscuits and cakes and be good at listening.”

Hettie shook her head slowly. “I’m not sure about that,” she said.

“I know what happens to lonely werewolves,” Sir Thomas said quietly. “I know that you’re holding on, but I don’t want that for you. If you can bear it, I’ll find you a place in York, just so you’ve got a bolt hole, and I’ll introduce you around.” He gently squeezed her hand. “You were everything to me when I was a kid,” he said. “You were my rock. You looked after Robert and I in ways that mother and father didn’t understand. Please, let me look after you.”

Hettie swallowed but straightened in her chair. “I think that you’ll find that I’ll look after you, Tommy, and don’t you forget it. Now tell me all about what you’ve been up to and who you’ve seen and I’ll make us a nice dinner.”

2 thoughts on “Hettie

    1. I wasn’t expecting to write this, so I’m enjoying a great deal. I’m playing around with some ideas, though, and I’m sure that it will work out. Thank you for picking up the typo.

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