Nora Lyons was a prisoner in New Britain, and though she escaped to rebel Scotland with her sister, she hasn’t been able to escape the enchantments that still cling to her. She’s wasting away, so she is sent to Avalon to die in peace. Sir Gawain, Arthur’s heir, is so smitten with her beauty and kindness that he resolves to save her, no matter the cost.
What healing can be found in Avalon for Nora’s mind? What healing can be found in Gawain’s arms for Nora’s heart?
Gawain sat by Nora’s side and watched until her eyes fluttered open. “There is no sea in Avalon,” he said without preamble and in the softest, gentlest voice he could muster.
Nora, her hair flowing like honey all around, framing her beautiful face on the low couch where she reclined, blinked and looked back at him. “What?”
Gawain rose and took her hand, kissing it while checking her pulse. Her wits had returned, and her nerves were settled. The knight turned to the nurse that stood nearby and nodded.
“The sea,” Gawain continued, helping Nora to stand. “I couldn’t remember what it looked like until you walked into my uncle’s war-room.” He turned and looked at her. “Your blue eyes. They remind me of home.”
Nora graced him with a smile, and with that smile, she enslaved Gawain’s heart. “Oh!” She turned her gaze from the knight’s face and looked out over the balcony upon which they stood. Gawain had thought it best that she be placed out of doors, not confined to the infirmary. He knew something of fae enchantments and he also knew the very air of Avalon did much to mitigate their effects. He was right. Nora’s complexion was much improved, for a roseleaf blush infused her cheeks, and her eyes were no longer dull.
Gawain could only imagine what was going through Nora’s mind at that moment, as she took in the sights of Avalon. She looked this way and that, up and down, all the time gasping and sighing. The knight looked with her, trying to remember his wonder when King Arthur first came to Avalon and his loyal knights followed him. The high-spired turrets and covered parapets of Camelot were marvelous, and its walls glowed purple in the perpetual twilight. But it was the forest, and the blue of the mountains beyond, that seemed really to catch Nora’s attention.
“I’ve never seen anything more glorious,” said she, “not even the mists clinging to the Highlands.”
Gawain’s heart warmed at the image Nora’s words painted. “Lady, you speak well of our homeland.”
Nora spun around with a look of astonishment. “Ours? Are you, too, a Scot? All the storybooks say Arthur and his knights are—well, they don’t really say, but the common idea is that you are not Scottish.”
“My father raised me beyond the Wall, beyond the influence of Rome. That makes me Scottish, by your reckoning. And it was in Scotland that I pledged my fealty to a wild freedom-fighter, who would one day be king and stand against the Saxon invaders from the South.”
Nora smiled and gazed into Gawain’s eyes, and the knight studied her face, every delicate line. Though her eyes had brightened considerably since her arrival in Avalon, still Gawain detected the shades of darkness that encircled those lovely, blue orbs.
“There is rest in Avalon,” he said, and Nora dropped her gaze to her hands.
“How could there not be?” She looked up and admired the view once more. “A perfect realm.”
“Rest, lady, but not healing. Not from what you’ve gone through.”
Nora kept her gaze fixed on the purple expanse of sky before her. “You know of it?”
Everyone knew. News of Nora’s courage had reached even the court of Camelot. “Yes, lady. Your tongue has done more than a thousand swords could have ever accomplished.” Gawain wondered what else her tongue could do, but he immediately and silently chastised himself for even letting his mind wander into anything remotely sexual.