A/N: I don't own Gilmore Girls, sadly.
Medieval Trory. Uhh. . . . .Hartford is a kingdom and Stars Hollow is one of the small villages outside of the city. Gildren in a neighboring kingdom, but it'll only be mentioned once. . . .I think everything else you'll be able to understand with this chapter.
Eight year old Rory Hayden clutched the skirt of her dress tighter as her parents ran around the house frantically. "What the hell were you thinking?" her mother yelled, making sure all the doors were locked and pushing chairs to bar them.
"Lorelai, I told you, I went to confront him and he attacked me. It was self defense."
Rory pushed her back harder to the wall as her mother's fury practically burned her skin.
"Christopher, you have murdered the king-"
He winced, "Keep your voice down!"
She ignored him, "-Do you not understand what this means?" she screeched, throwing a book at her husband. "They'll find his body by the end of the night and then what will become of your family? They'll realize it was you within a day! You were the last to go see him!" He walked over to her and tried to draw her into his arms, but she pushed him away, "No, don't. There's no time."
Richard, her twelve year old brother, ran into the room, "The back is locked."
Lorelai nodded before turning to her husband, "Can Laurel take Rory?"
"Yes." he said tiredly. His cousin was visiting Hartford and had agreed to hide their youngest child until she was safe. "She's coming for her tonight and they'll be back in Stars Hollow by morning." Lorelai exhaled heavily, nodding as she closed her eyes. Chris spoke again, "Will your parents hide Richard?" Lorelai nodded and opened her mouth to speak, but her son cut her off.
His father turned to face him, "No you're not."
"Richard!" his son fell silent, "You are going with your grandparents. Accept it." The boy crossed his arms defiantly, but was silent. Chris looked around, "Where's Victoria?"
"I'm here, dad." their fifteen year old daughter made her way down the stairs and came into the room with them.
"Good. Your uncle will be here in a few hours to take you with him."
She shook her dirty blonde head calmly, "No."
He looked over at her, "Victoria-"
"No, dad. It's my fault you're in this situation-"
"No it isn't. Don't you ever say this was your fault."
Her face didn't change as she watched him, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying with you and mom."
He sighed, shaking his head, "Darling, your mother isn't staying either."
"Excuse me? Oh yes I am."
He turned to plead with her, "Lorelai-"
"No, Christopher. I'm staying." she glanced over at her older daughter resignedly, "And if Victoria wants to stay as well she's old enough to make that decision. She's part of this too."
"Richard!" she cut him off, "You are leaving. Don't try to be brave on this. It won't do you any good." She looked around the room, "Where's Rory?"
The eight year old held her breath, clenching her teeth to stop from crying while her family looked around the room. She was in a shadow behind a large chair and the four spread out to see if they could spot her. It only took her brother a moment to find her. They'd always been closest. Richard came over to her crouched down next to her, smiling weakly, "Hey, Ror." he whispered, pulling her into a hug. She kept her arms tight around her chest, but rested her head on his shoulder and burrowed into him. He pulled back from the hug and held her a few inches in front of him, smiling gently. She smiled back as well, sniffingly lightly. "Hey-" he wiped away a stray tear, "Why are you crying?"
"Why do we have to go away, Richie?" she whispered.
He chewed on his bottom lip, inhaling deeply, "Because daddy has some things to work out with the king's family." He tightened his grip on his little sister when he felt her tremble.
"But we're not going together?"
He shook his head slowly, "No. But you're going to go with cousin Laurel to Stars Hollow. Remember how much you liked Stars Hollow?" Her bottom lip was trembling as she shook her head. "Oh, but you did. There's a lake and all the people are friendly. Remember when we went there last summer and the pub owner and his wife let you play with their sheep?" he asked. The little girl thought for a moment before nodding sadly. He smiled encouragingly, "See, you'll have tons of fun."
"But if only me and you are leaving then why can't you come too? Why do you have to go with grandma and grandpa?"
"It's just easier that way. Cousin Laurel and her husband can't support both of us."
She smiled, "Then we can just split our food and sleep in the same bed!"
He laughed before shaking his head, "It doesn't work that way, doll."
Her smiled dissolved, "When are we coming home?"
He shook his head, still holding onto her, "I don't know. Soon, I hope." Her shoulders fell and she embraced him tightly, burying her face in his neck. There was a knock on the back door and he looked up to see that the other three had been watching the exchange, their mother with tears in her eyes. Christopher stood to get the door and Richard slowly released his sister.
Rory wiped her eyes and looked over at her mother and sister. Lorelai fell to her knees and opened her arms, "Come here, sweetie." she whispered, and Rory walked over to her, gripping her tightly as she started to cry. "Shhh." her mother whispered, rubbing her back comfortingly, "I love you baby." The little girl nodded, unable to speak as her father entered the room, followed closely by his cousin. Lorelai pulled back and looked into Rory's face, tears in her own eyes as she brushed away her daughter's. "Hey, be strong for mommy, okay?" she whispered, smiling waterily. Rory nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. Lorelai kissed her and gave her another hug before standing.
Victoria crouched and pulled her little sister into her arms. Rory buried her face into her sister's
wavy locks, "Will you still teach me to braid my hair, Tori?" she whispered.
The older girl laughed and pulled away, tears in her eyes, "Of course I will, Ror." her voice was
stuffy, "As soon as you get home." she hugged her sister again, "I love you."
"I love you too." Rory said quietly before Victoria stood.
Then her father walked over to her and picked her up sweepingly, hugging her to his chest tightly. She clutched at his shirt and buried her face in his chest, "Daddy?" she whispered.
She raised her head to look at him, "Will you talk to the king's family fast so me and Richie can come home?"
He licked his bottom lip and rested his forehead against hers, "I'll try." He kissed her gently, "I love you Rory."
She hugged him again, harder than before, "I love you too daddy. I'll see you when I get home."
He gave her one final squeeze before walking over to his cousin and setting his daughter down. He gave Laurel a hug, "Thank you so much. You don't know what this means to me."
"I know you'd do the same for me." she pulled back from the hug and gave him a weak smile, "Good luck, Chris." she whispered, kissing him on the cheek. She then bid adieu to the rest of the family and took Rory's hand, "You ready, Rory?" The little girl looked at her family one final time before nodding and allowing her father's cousin to lead her quickly from the house.
Twelve year old Tristan Dugrey sat in the empty throne-room after his coronation. He was sitting in his father's...his...throne. The crown was no longer on his head, but tucked safely away until a social event called it out. He looked around the abandoned room and rested his head on the heel of his hand. He was king now. His father's body had been discovered five days ago, and the first act of business had been to crown the new king. Throughout the entire ceremony his mother had been dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief and Max Medina, his father's most trusted advisor, had stood in a stony silence, his face unmoving.
Right before the ceremony, the head of the military had approached him and revealed that they'd found the murderer. It was Christopher Hayden, one of the wealthier landowners. Tristan didn't know much about the Haydens other than they were old blood and his father had always had eyes for Christopher's wife. He knew that they had several children, but wasn't positive of the ages or genders.
He himself was an only child, and at the moment he was thrown to memories of his recently deceased father. He balled his hands into fists to keep them from shaking. He didn't cry. Even at twelve he'd learned long ago that a monarch wasn't mean to cry. It wasn't in their blood. But it hurt. Honestly, it just hurt. What in the world would have possessed a faithful follower to murder his father in cold blood. He'd loved him. It'd been his father who'd played with him when he was young. Who'd taught him to play sports, ride a horse, and hold a sword. It'd been his father who'd stayed up with him the nights when he was sick and who'd stayed in the room until sleep claimed him as a child. It'd been his father who walked with him and asked about his problems and worries. Never his mother. His mother was cold and distant, whereas his father had been warm and welcoming. One of the best men in the world, and everyone loved him. He had fewer faults than any man Tristan knew. In fact thinking back on it, he only knew of one fault that his father had. Women. His father was a womanizer, and his mother knew it. Perhaps that was why she was so distant; because she knew of his many mistresses. Tristan inhaled deeply and ran a hand through his hair. His mind flitted back to his earlier thought that his father had eyes for Christopher's wife, but he quickly pushed it from his mind.
His father had never tried to seduce a married woman, and besides, that wasn't grounds for murder. He chewed on the insides of his cheeks for a moment, stewing over it when Max entered the throne-room. Tristan's gaze shot up and he called to him, "Medina!" The man strode quickly towards him, "Yes, my Lord?" He leaned back in the throne, "It was Christopher Hayden, yes?"
"Yes my Lord."
Tristan nodded slowly, pressing his lips together, "And the motive?"
"He won't say, your highness."
Tristan's eyes narrowed, "He won't say?"
"No. We've tried all we can think of, and he still stays silent."
The king nodded slowly, looking into space, "Kill him."
"Yes, your highness." he waited for a moment to see if Tristan would speak again, and when he didn't, the man turned to leave, but stopped when the king spoke again.
"And his family."
Max turned, "Excuse me?"
Tristan spoke up, his eyes still at the far end of the room, "His family. His wife and children. His parents. His siblings. His cousins. Aunts and uncles. Nieces and nephews. I want all the Haydens dead."
His advisor's eyes widened in horror, "My lord, no. His entire family?"
The king nodded, "And his wife's as well."
"My Lord, their families are faithful. It was just Christop-"
Tristan cut him off, "All of them, Medina." He laced his fingers together and rested them in his lap, "Don't be cruel with it, just have it done. Quickly."
"Tristan, think of what you're saying. That is a command to murder more than fifty people in your first days of being king. Don't be rash. Think about this-"
Tristan cut him off, "He killed the king in his own home, Max. Can we just let him get away with that?" he snapped acidly, turning to face him.
The man spoke quietly, pleadingly, "No, but do not murder fifty innocent people over it. His wife's family as well, my Lord? That is just blood lust for revenge."
"Are you saying you don't think the king should be avenged?"
He shook his head, "Of course not. I-"
"Medina." he cut him off calmly, "I am the king. Do as I say. I don't care how long it takes or how far to have to go. I want every last one of them dead. I never want to see another Hayden or
He sighed, closing his eyes, "Yes my Lord."
One week later, Rory was walking out of her cousin Laurel's front door and going towards town square when she saw Jess. He was ten and since she'd been here last, he'd moved in with his uncle Luke, the pub owner, and his wife Rachel, the town's painter. He was short for his age, but still a good bit taller than her. Taylor Doose, the town's most prominent citizen, didn't like Jess very much. He called him a mongrel and a hoodlum. When she'd asked why Mr. Doose didn't like Jess, he'd just told her that she'd find out eventually. And she had, when on the third day she was there, the lines that kept his horses attached to his carriage had been cut, and once they got up a little speed they'd broken away, making the carriage roll twenty feet and crash into a nearby tree.
"Hey Rory, my uncle wants me, Dave, and Lane to take his sheep to graze. We're taking them over the hill to the field beside the waterfall. You want to come with?"
She crossed her arms over her chest, "Yeah. But I'll have to go tell my aunt."
He nodded, motioning towards the well in the center of the town square, "Meet us at the well in fifteen minutes."
And so an hour later the four children found themselves a mile from Stars Hollow. Luke's sheep were grazing on the hill and Rory, Dave, Jess, and Lane were laying on their backs on the bank of the pond. The other three were asking her about life in the city and she was trying her hardest not to tell them about what had happened her last night at home. Her parents had told her that she wasn't to tell anyone about what had happened, but she still didn't know exactly what she was keeping secret. She really didn't know why she and her brother had been forced to leave. She was pulled from her thoughts when Jess stood up and walked closer to the wall of rock that the small waterfall ran over. "You guys want to go swimming?"
Lane shook her head, "We aren't allowed to swim here without our parents, Jess. You know that. Creiny Miller drowned here last summer."
"Yeah, I know." he turned to face them, "But Creiny miller was only five, right?" the girl nodded slowly, "Yeah? So we're better swimmers than he was. Come on. It'll be fun."
Rory thought it over for a moment before standing, "I wouldn't mind swimming."
"Me either." Dave stood as well and pulled off his shirt.
Jess smiled and Lane brought herself up slowly, "I guess. But only for a little while."
"Laney, Laney, where's your sense of fun?" he asked, pulling off his shirt as well.
She rolled her eyes, "Far away from Creiny Miller's grave."
Jess laughed and jumped in the water, splashing the two girls. Lane pulled off her dress before getting in, but Rory didn't bother. "Aren't you going to take your dress off, Rory? It'll get heavy with the water and take forever to dry."
She shrugged, already in up to her waist, "It's already wet now."
"Have you ever been behind the waterfall, Rory?" Jess asked, paddling over to said natural
wonder while Lane and Dave swam around, splashing each other and laughing.
She shook her head, following him, "I haven't."
"It's nice. It goes up twenty five feet and it's like, three feet from the wall. My uncle says it's five feet across." he swam behind it and completely disappeared from view, his voice drowned out by the sound. He came out the other side and smiled, "Great place to hide."
Rory laughed, "Oh yeah?" he nodded, paddling back over to the other two. Rory swam behind it and looked around. There was a small, naturally hollowed out area behind it that several people could fit in. She looked out from behind the waterfall and was about to swim over to her friends when she saw them stop swimming and look around. She couldn't hear what they were saying, but they looked worried. She shrank back and watched from a position that they couldn't see her.
Jess stiffened and Dave turned to look over at him, "What?"
"Do you hear horses?" he asked, looking around.
The other two craned their necks and listened intently. After a moment Lane spoke, "Yeah. They're coming over the hill." The three turned to see that the sheep were moving out of the way of something and soon three men on horseback made their way over the crest of the hill. As soon as they spotted the children their speed picked up and they were at the shore of the pond in a few moments. "You there, boy!" he called and Jess turned to look at him, but didn't say anything. The three men were recognizable as the king's personal guards. "What's your name? How old are you?"
"Jess Mariano. I'm ten."
"And you, girl?"
"Lane Kim." she called back. "I'm nine."
He glanced at Dave, "You?"
"David Ryglaski. I'm ten also."
"And it's just the three of you, then?" the second one asked. They nodded. The third guard looked around and his eyes landed on their clothes that'd been thrown on the shore, "This your dress?" he asked.
She nodded slowly and the first guard spoke up, "Why are the three of you alone out here?"
"We're taking my uncle's sheep to graze."
"And it's just the three of you? No one else came?"
"No." Jess responded. "Just us."
The man looked around before nodding slowly, "She's not here then. Come on, we'll meet up with the others and head to the next town. We're done here." And with that they turned their horses and left at a gallop. Jess, Dave, and Lane treaded water until the sound of the horses' hooves had been gone for several minutes.
They swam slowly over to the waterfall to see that Rory was sitting in the hollow shivering. "What was that about?" Lane asked.
Rory shook her head as her teeth began chattering, still looking at the place the horses had left from, "I don't know."
"Come on, we should get back." Jess said upon seeing that her lips were losing their color.
She nodded, pushing herself off of the rock, "Yeah."
Jess herded the sheep back into their pin and made his way to the front door. Several people in town had looked at the four strangely as they made their way home. There were whispers through the town about why the soldiers had come and wether anyone had been arrested. He wondered why they'd come over the hill. The only people that ever went there were the shepherds when they felt like giving their animals a change of scenery, children who were up to no good, and teenagers who were involved in promiscuous activities. What purpose did the king's guards have in Stars Hollow? Let alone over the hill. He pushed the front door open to see his aunt pacing back and forth nervously, chewing on her nails while Luke lingered behind her, sitting at the table. As soon as he entered the room she fell upon him, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him to her chest. "Jess, thank God you're alright." He didn't have time to act disgusted that she was hugging him before she stiffened and jerked away, holding him at arm's length, "Where's Rory?"
His eyes widened at the urgency in his aunt's voice, "She went to Laurel's-"
"Luke!" Rachel cut him off and turned wildly to her husband, but he was already on his feet.
"I've got her." and he dashed out the door.
Rachel closed her eyes, inhaling deeply as she held a hand to her heart, "Lord help us." she whispered, resting her other hand in her nephew's hair.
"What's wrong?" he asked. She turned to look at him, breathing heavily. He crossed his arms over his chest, "Does this have anything to do with the soldiers?"
She nodded slowly, "Wait until Luke comes back with Rory. Then we'll explain."
Rory came up the walk to see that the front door was open a sliver. She slowed and narrowed her eyes, tilting her head. Cousin Laurel never left the door open. She came to it and only touched it with the tips of her fingers, pushing it gently. The door swung open heavily and she stepped in slowly, looking around. Her eyes widened as she made her way through the main room. Furniture was overturned and pictures were ripped from the walls. She walked into the kitchen to see that several cabinets were hanging open and the table was on it's side, one of the legs splintered. "Hello?" she called, turning in a circle as she took in the room. "Laurel?" Two of the four chairs were broken and the others were on their sides, "Jason?" she walked from the kitchen, "Anyone?" she entered the side room and froze just as someone crashed through the front doorway.
Her eyes widened in horror as they fell upon Laurel's stiff arm, the flower bracelet Rory had made for her hanging off of it. Her gaze traveled down the arm until it came to the shoulder and then her cousin's face. Blood pooled on the floor and splattered the walls. Rory inhaled raggedly and staggered back, her mouth opening into a silent scream as she took in the two bodies before her. "Rory!" The tears had barely begun to fill her eyes when she felt, more than heard someone call her name and envelope her from behind, turning her into his chest to hide her from the carnage. She buried her face into Luke's shoulder and fisted his shirt in her hands as he picked her up, "Come on sweetie, it's gonna be okay. I'm getting you out of here." Her body began to shake and sobs tore from her throat as they exited the house, Luke closing the door, "It's gonna be alright, Rory. We'll keep you safe."
Half an hour later Rory sat in the kitchen on Luke's lap, her head on his shoulder. She tightened her grip on the mug of warm milk and honey in her hands, letting it's warmth seep into her palms and fingers. Rachel and Jess sat at the table as well; none of them had spoken, but now that they were settled and everyone had something to drink, they just sat at the table in silence. Night had fallen and crickets were singing from the woods. She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply as she sank further into Luke. The pub owner and his wife had been best friends with Laurel and Jason, her husband. Rory knew that they were the only ones Laurel had explained Rory's situation to. What she didn't know was that her father's cousin had asked them to take the little girl if anything were to happen to them.
"Well Rory," Rachel said quietly, raising her gaze to see the girl on her husband's lap, "-you'll be staying with us for a while."
She raised her head and looked over at the woman, "What? I'm not going home?"
She shook her head sadly, "No sweetie, we're going to keep you here."
"But what about my family?"
Rachel bit her lip, "Well, Rory..." she trailed off, swallowing hard and closing her eyes to fight back tears.
Luke spoke quietly, "Tell her the truth. She's old enough to understand."
Rachel exhaled slowly and pressed her lips together, "Actually Rory, your family's passed away."
Rory's face didn't change. She must have misunderstood. 'Passed away' meant dead. No, there was no way. "What are you talking about?"
Her forehead scrunched with pain and she leaned forward, "Rory, you know how your dad got in a fight with the king?" She nodded slowly, and Rachel opened her mouth to continue, but Luke cut her off.
"She needs to know why." Rachel's gaze snapped to him and she shook her head slowly, but he nodded, "She deserves to know why all this is happening to her. She needs to know that it wasn't Christopher's fault."
Rachel sighed, scratching the back of her head before looking back at the little girl, "Do you know why your father got into a fight with the king?"
Rory bit her lip, thinking back, "He did something to mom and Tori."
Rachel nodded slowly, "That's right. Do you know exactly what he did?" Rory shook her head and the woman chewed on the insides of her cheeks, thinking for a moment. "He made your mother and sister do things with him that they didn't want to do."
"Things like what?" she asked, sitting up straighter.
Rachel exhaled heavily and sat back in her chair, "Rory do you know what it means to go to bed with someone?"
The girl nodded proudly, "That's what happens when babies are born."
Rachel smiled a little, nodding gently, "That's right. And only a husband and wife should go to bed together. It's a sign of love. But sometimes people go to bed with someone they aren't married to."
She stopped for a moment and Rory's eyes widened, "So then mom and Tori went to bed with the king?"
"The king forced your mother and sister to go to bed with him."
She tilted her head, thinking for a moment, "So he made them when they didn't want to?" she asked, and Rachel nodded her head. "Then is that why Richie told me that dad was going to fight for mom and Tori's honor?"
Rachel nodded again, "That's right. And when your father went to talk to the king about it, the king got angry and hit your father. He tried to leave, but the king wouldn't let him so your dad had to fight back. He accidentally killed the king and then his son Tristan became the new king-"
Rory cut her off, "My dad killed the king?"
"On accident and in self defense." she said quickly, "Once Tristan became king he told his guards that he wanted revenge. He said he wanted your family killed." Rory's head lowered a fraction of an inch, but she didn't speak and Rachel continued. "He said he wanted both your mother's and father's families dead."
Rory pressed her lips together, looking down, "And?"
Rachel closed her eyes, "And we're thanking God that Jess, David, and Lane told the guards that no one else came with them." she whispered, "Rory, they're gone." The small brunette closed her eyes, inhaling raggedly. She was only eight, but could understand exactly what her aunt meant.
"You grandparents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. They're all dead." she whispered.
Rory's eyes were still closed, but tears were now escaping, "Richie and Tori?" she whispered.
Rachel nodded slowly, "They came into your house and killed your parents and sister on the spot. Within an hour they'd gone to your grandparent's house where your brother was staying. The guards were ordered to kill everyone but the servants." She chewed on her bottom lip, "You're the only one left. Gilmore or Hayden."
Rory's body shook and Luke pulled her tighter to her chest, "So then I'm staying here?"
Rachel nodded sadly, watching the little girl clutch to her husband, "Yeah baby, you're staying here."
Rachel looked over at the two children's sleeping forms, Rory cuddled close to Jess's side. She closed the door gently and walked over to Luke in the kitchen. He was at the counter, setting the four mugs down. He looked up when she came in and walked over to her, arms outstretched.
She smiled lightly and walked over to him, wrapping her arms around his middle and resting her forehead on his shoulder. He embraced her and she sighed contentedly. After a moment she spoke, "It's funny."
"Hmm?" Luke grunted quietly, his chin on her head.
"Two years ago we were devastated when we realized we wouldn't be able to have children." she raised her head to look at him, smiling lightly, "And now we have two."
He smiled back gently before sighing and shaking his head, "What are we gonna do about her?"
Rachel shrugged, "I don't know. We're keeping her with us, though."
"Oh, yeah, I know that. I mean about her name."
His wife thought for a moment, "Well no one knows she's a Hayden. Jason and Laurel told people she was his niece from Gildren, so they think she's a Longsten anyway. And last summer when Christopher and his family came they camped in the country. I think we're the only ones who even met them."
Luke nodded slowly, "Yeah. I was thinking about that, and I thought that maybe she should take my last name."
Rachel's head tilted slightly, but she smiled. Luke didn't really like children, but had instantly taken to Rory, "What?"
"They think she's a Longsten, but everyone knows Laurel and Jason were married. I think she should take our name in case the king realizes that there's a Hayden who's unaccounted for. Completely sever her tie with them."
Rachel grinned, wrapping her arms around his neck, "I think that's an excellent idea." she kissed him gently, but then pulled away, "We'll have to be careful of her crest, though."
His forehead knitted together, "What crest?"
"It's a Hayden tradition. They have a design burned into the top of their leg when they're born. I'm not positive why they do it, but I think it's to identify themselves. Laurel showed me hers once. It's at the top of their right thigh. A design with an H in it. Did you notice the guards checking a lot of the young girls?"
Luke nodded slowly, "Yeah, I noticed. I wondered what they were doing."
Rachel nodded, "They were checking for it. That's part of the reason I was so worried about them finding her. I knew Jess hated the guards and would lie about who she was, but I was afraid they'd find her mark."
He tightened his grip on her, "Well we'll keep her safe. Keep the mark a secret." he kissed his wife gently, "Your best friend won't have died for nothing."