A/N: YAY! I've finally updated...that is, if anyone's really reading this...*sigh* Well, it does get rather good in this chapter, i must admit...enjoy! ~Jenny the chica~

Four

London, England ~ November 1760

Colin felt lost in the sea of nobles that flooded London after the king's death. He and his father had been lucky enough to get a room at all; the Earl of Durhamshire happened to own a small room in an inn that he always stayed at when he went into London, and he was able to get the two men a room in the same inn.

Colin was weary from the long journey here, and the weight of the king's death made him even more burdened.

Although he had not wanted to come at all, his father had made him, so he did. The Marquess was convinced that he needed to learn about court dealings, and there seemed to be no better time than now.

Colin had heard that King George II's grandson, George, would succeed him. The coronation was to be soon, and, of course, Colin would have to stay for that.

He would have preferred to be at home, even if that meant overseeing the fields and taking on more and more responsibility. He could feel it coming onto him more and more, and he had once brought it up with his father, who told him the reason why.

His betrothal to Heather MacDonohue had been accepted and decided, and the family land was to pass down to him after his wedding.

He hated how his future was all set out for him, but he liked Heather, and she wasn't half as bad as some of the other girls he had met and had to dance with and smile at and attempt conversation with.

Right now, however, the only place he wanted to be was home. He was tired of the chaos and mourning here. It got depressing very quickly. He was convinced that he would go mad if he stayed much longer. Yes, that was a definite possibility.

To add to his stress, he was constantly with his father and his future father-in-law, who were always in some sort of conversation, which he could never join, but was forced to simply sit still and listen, and hold back his smiles and sighs.

Now, however, he was free to sigh, and he did so. He didn't know how he was supposed to handle the responsibility that he would soon have. To be honest, the very idea of getting married and being in charge of the land and crops and business and servants and his place in nobility was absolutely terrifying.

It made him appreciate his father much more, though. I wonder how exactly he's able to do it so…easily. It must have taken him forever to be so easygoing and casual about it.

One thing that was not so pleasant about going home was his mother. She was full-fledged into planning his wedding, which she had set in December. Colin had no idea how that would work, as it was November now. Granted, it was early November, but still. It was a little bit too soon to be comfortable.

A knock on his door shook Colin back into reality, and he reached for his coat and headed out the door to join his father and the Earl.

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Colin could hardly believe it. Amazed as he was that he was able to survive the long wait until the coronation, he was finally able to return home. Even though plans for his wedding inevitably waited ahead, they were to be dealt with later.

Colin handed the last bag to the coach driver, who slipped it inside the coach. The Marquess and the Earl got into it first, and then Colin, as the driver shut the door behind them.

They were all going to the Marquess's manor, where Heather and her mother were already waiting for them. Colin's mother had sent them a message just after he and his father had left for London, inviting, as well as begging, the two women to stay at her home until the three men were finished with their business in London.

Since the Earl could easily ride through Cambridgeshire on his way back home, and it made sense for his wife and daughter to wait for him, and then they could all travel together.

Besides, Colin wouldn't mind seeing Heather again. It had been over a month now since they met, and they were supposed to be married in less than two months.

The idea of marrying someone he hardly knew was strange, but it seemed normal, since it happened to most people. Colin did not even think to question that part. He had his obligations, and, besides, he genuinely like Heather…as well as a chance to see her again.

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Nicholas Harcourt sat as still as he possibly could.

He smirked at the thought of anyone finding him, the son of an earl, squatting behind a tree on the edge of the road.

His father's spies had said that a carriage had arrived a few weeks before. At first he thought it was time, but it was only friends of the Lady.

Now, however, they had received news from their spy in London that they had left and were headed home. Now was the perfect time to strike. Chaos still reigned in court, and the majority of the nobles were still in London, and could not help or do anything.

They had waited years for this moment, and now it was finally here.

The sound of galloping horses caused Nicholas to freeze, and he gingerly moved his head, slowly, so that he could watch the road unseen.

A carriage road by quickly, but not so quick that Nicholas couldn't recognize the ensign on the carriage door.

It was definitely the Wyldbore family. And tonight, they would pay.

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When Heather heard what sounded like a carriage for the hundred upon hundredth time, she still got out of her seat in the parlor and peeked out the window. This time, however, there was something there.

She forced herself to breathe evenly, but the thought of seeing Colin again caused her to overflow with fear. When she had arrived, she was told that she was officially betrothed to him, and the fact that it was signed, sealed, and committed terrified her. The idea of marrying him in a month's time terrified her as well.

Collecting all the composure she could find, Heather took a deep breath and sat back down in the chair. She heard a servant call her mother and Lady Wyldbore, and they soon entered the parlor, smiling at Heather.

Heather weakly smiled back, and she hoped that it did not look too fake.

She had no more time to dwell on that, because the three men entered the house at that moment.

Heather politely stood when they entered the parlor, accepting her father's embrace, and then the unexpected embrace from the Marquess. She smiled when he finally released her, and then caught Colin's eye and smiled.

He smiled back, and her relief mirrored in his face. It had been so long since they had met, but he looked unchanged to Heather, and all the things she had liked about him flooded her memory.

She smiled at them, and then sat back down as the men sat, and listened to the Marquess, with her father adding little details here and there, tell all that had happened in London.

Heather hated to hear all the sadness, but was glad that it was over with and that they had all moved on. It was easier for her, seeing as she had never known the king personally. In fact, she had never even seen him.

After the two men finished their story, a kitchen servant entered and told Lady Wyldbore that dinner would be ready soon.

Everyone left the parlor and went to their respected rooms or boudoirs to get ready for the meal.

Half an hour later, they were all seated at the huge dining room table, and just beginning their meal.

Heather sensed the long friendship between her father and the Marquess, despite the distance between them, and she listened to her mother and Lady Wyldbore discuss her wedding.

Heather sighed and continued eating, ruefully smiling.

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Outside, Nicholas waited, mounted, at the end of the Wyldbore's front drive. He was still out of sight from the house, where one of the servants had reported that they were eating dinner.

Nicholas's father, the Earl of Staffordshire, rode up at that instant, and looked around to make sure that everyone was there.

Satisfied, he nodded, and the mob, which was a pretty good size, charged the house, screaming and shooting off their unloaded guns.

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In the middle of dinner, Colin heard an incredibly loud noise all of a sudden. Not sure of what it was, he glanced at his father and the Earl to see if they heard it. From the shock on their faces, he gathered that they had.

The earsplitting noise kept on, unfailing, and Colin shook his head, as if it would clear away the confusion, and glanced at Heather, who was seated across form him.

Her face was a stark shade of grayish-white, and she looked to be frozen in terror. Colin reached for her hand, which was lying on the table, but, at that instant, the window behind her shattered.

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Heather had been frozen, but she fell to the ground the instant she realized that the window had been busted. She had no idea of what was going on, but she could tell that it was unexpected and definitely not good.

Glancing to her right, she saw a lit torch that was beginning to set the drapes aflame. Heather crawled away from the window and drapes, under the table to the other side, and turned to see Colin, crouched down as well.

Heather opened her mouth to say something, but he held a finger to her lips, and hissed, "Keep quiet!"

Heather was too shocked to say anything, so she was able to keep quiet. She got a little more of her bearings, in the midst of the constant yelling and screaming, and the crackling of burning wood, as more torches had landed on the walls, floor, and, apparently, the roof.

Heather watched as a blond-haired young man entered the room through the hole where the window had been. He had a look of pride, and almost…pleasure?

Heather could not be sure. She looked over to see the Marquess stand and try to talk to the man, but he merely raised his pistol and fired.

She watched as the Marquess fell, and heard Colin's half gasp, half sob from behind her.

Somehow able to turn, despite her shock, Heather whispered, "Quiet!"

He nodded, but then turned sharply at the sound of a scream and three more shots.

Heather could not take much more. The flames were getting closer, and hotter, and she had just lost both her parents. A sob came horridly close to escaping, but Colin clamped his hand over her mouth and dragged her out of the room.

As they left, Heather vaguely heard the young man bark orders to kill everyone and take anything of value. Heather fainted for a moment out of sheer terror.

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Colin kept dragging Heather until they were out of sight, and then picked her up. He was very thankful that she was tiny and even lighter than she looked.

He kept running until he reached the stable, although he knew that they could not stay there for long. They had to get out of here…soon.

The responsibility that Colin had feared had all of a sudden come upon him, but he scarcely noticed. All that mattered was getting himself and Heather out of here as fast as he possibly could.

Heather moaned a little, and Colin could see that she was beginning to come around. He shifted her so that she could sit up in the corner of the stable, and she opened her eyes soon after.

She opened her mouth, but no sound came out, and Colin was thankful that she was in too much shock to bawl. Silence was still the first priority.

Colin stood up and grabbed a horse that was still saddled. Usually, he would have scolded a servant for leaving a horse saddled; tonight, it would save his life.

He went back to Heather, picked her up, and set her up on the horse. He climbed on behind her, and nudged the horse through the back door of the stable, which stood ajar.

Once outside, he slowly walked the horse to the edge of the woods. He prayed that the darkness would hide him.

He kicked the horse…hard…and galloped for all he was worth.

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Heather could feel the jarring pace of the horse, and, gradually, more and more things became clear. When she had finally realized that she was escaping the terror, she let out her first breath since she had left the dining room, and then turned for one last look.

All she saw was orange. The entire house was engulfed, and a sob stuck in her throat. At that moment, she heard another shot and a sound from right behind her. Colin.

She turned to look at him, and his face was contorted in a grimace of pain. She tried to help him, but everything seemed to be in slow motion, and she felt him slide off the horse and fall.

She tried to go back to help him, but she was too weak to turn the horse, who galloped even harder after another shot was fired. She had no choice but to gallop until the horse stopped. It was then that she first started sobbing.