Never Alone

by Tidia

Part of the 'Last Word' Series

Disclaimer: Don't own them.  Magnificent Seven is owned by MGM and Trilogy.

Rating: PG

Comments: Dedicated to Shay, Amy and Kim for telling me to post these stories and guiding my through their rough drafts (and reading them through IM*G*). The lyrics at the end are from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.

Archivist's Note:   This fic was previously hosted on another website and was moved to Blackraptor in September 2006.

The pine trees and maple trees parted for a moment.  The bed of leaves on top of pine needles on top of leaves blended gracefully to dark earth, trampled and made clear by other feet.  One branch, its small leaves, red and shriveled at the end, hung over providing a momentary shield to the spectacle.  She gently moved the branch feeling its frailty and saw the pond dappled in sunlight, slowly rippling towards the river.  Across the way the trees form a terrace leading to the ridge, but from where she stood it is level, solid. "Ma, I'll check on you later." Her son said as he hovered over her bedside.  He bent down and placed a kiss on her fevered cheek. "Okay?" She had dozed off again, it had been happening more frequently lately.

"Go ahead," Her voice was raspy.  She curled her fingers around the ever-present glass by her bedside. "I'll be here."

She could see his brown eyes in turmoil.  He was hesitant to leave her. "Mister Roberts wants his horse and the buggy hooked up properly."

She grabbed his hand and squeezed it. "Love you," she told him to prompt him to leave and do his job at the stable.

"Love you too," he responded and tied a scarf around his neck.  It was a brisk, Boston, fall day.  Winter would be here soon. She would not be there to see it.

She was finally alone in the little room they shared in the servants' section of the large mansion.  She had been a chambermaid in the house for sixteen years, and her son had been working as a stable hand for six.  It hadn't been a bad life, maybe not the one she had envisioned for herself, but a decent one all the same.

Her mother used to tell her that the angels only come and take a soul when they are at peace and alone, that was when the body could give up.  She hadn't thought about her mother in a long time, since her son was born.

She was fifteen years old when she met Dudley Martin, eldest son of the richest family in Boylston, a small Massachusetts town, who was on break from school.  She was a shop girl in her mother's general store.  Her father had passed away  and she and her mother, a stern, strict woman ran the store.  At fifteen she was surprised when Dudley began to show interest in her.  She was thin and painfully shy but he persevered and made so many promises.  Promises of marriage, and a life of privilege if only…. She hadn't understood at first. Then months later she was not feeling well. Her mother had to tell her she pregnant and then told her to leave.  Dudley told her he couldn't possibly marry a shop girl.  She was heart broken, sixteen and alone. Luckily she was taken in by a cousin in Maine and there John was born.

Her cousin had arranged a job in Boston for her.  The Roberts family had been told she was a young widow with a son. They never questioned it. She had resented the baby at first.  He had ruined her life.  Because of him Dudley has stopped loving her.  But then she grew up and began to find joy in the wonderment of JD, the nickname she had given him. He was so full of energy, and he had a good, brave heart.

Her son with the dark hair and sooty lashes looked just like his father. A man he believed was killed in the war. He would never know the truth. The secret would soon die with her. No need to burden a child who already knew his mother was going to die, with a family secret. She wished she were able to see him grow into a man.  He was still a child to her, a man-child she had so many dreams for in this life. She hoped her son would go to college.  She said it often enough to him.  He would sigh. She knew what that meant; he didn't want to make his dying mother promises he could not keep.  He was not going to college.  If it were within his power he was going west to follow his destiny.  Dime store novels littered his sleeping platform.

She turned.  She was sore, and unable to get comfortable; her skin hung off her bones as she deteriorated more and more over the last few months. She wanted to cry, not because of her failing body, but because no mother wanted her son to go West. He would be alone in a wild place.

She could hear the angels calling her and her dream of the pond misting before her eyes.  As a child her father, whom she had named JD after, had taken her to the little pond where she had felt at peace and secure.  There was no one in her little room to keep her body in its pain-wracked shell. She dug her fingernails into her palm.  She promised her soul that she would watch over her boy from where ever she was going.

When you walk through a storm,
Hold your head up high,
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm,
There's a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown..
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone...
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone...
You'll never walk alone.