Heather in the Highlands

by Wingco

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© Copyright 2018 - Wingco/Shelley - Used by permission

Storycodes: M/f; Other/fm; MF+; castle; cellar; shackles; dress; stuck; ghosts; bond; gag; bfold; tease; cell; chain; entomb; illness; reveal; discovery; plan; wedding; rom; sex; climax; cons; X

story continued from part three

Part 4. 

Chapter 1.

It had been a long a bitter winter for Heather McCreadie even though she was safely underground. The girl woke after every 'sleep' praying this would be the day he'd come to see her. Even a shouted word or two down the vent pipe would be a start but all she'd endured was silence.

Heather sighed and dressed herself, wearing what was still her favorite of Jenna's outfits now it seemed to be getting warmer again. The black thigh length one, adding the high heels that she had got used to over the years. The ghosts ensuring that little of her stuff wore out once replaced in the wardrobe. Now she slipped next door for a drink and her breakfast. This of sliced bread and... well today it would be honey as she'd had jam yesterday. A look in the other jar and yes, the level was back to the top. 

She sat down and not for the first time recently Heather McCreadie began to cry. The tears flowing as she remembered the fine summer days, especially those of last year. When James had brought her up beyond the hatch and she'd discovered the castle hall had been turned into a dining room. A table and two chairs with champagne and a picnic feast. It'd been lovely to sit in fresh air and eat though she did wonder what the occasion had been for. 

Trying to be happy on discovering this was her five-year anniversary took a monumental effort. Even James realised he'd made a mistake as her face crumpled. At one point he thought she was going back down, unable to face it but as usual Heather proved her fighting spirit as she finally smiled. "Yeah, but as I've said it's better than the alternative! Get the wine open pet." Going through with the meal... and what followed downstairs afterwards. Now she'd just be happy to hear his voice as it felt like months rather than weeks since he'd left with her screams ringing in his ears. 

That had been traumatic enough for her, as she'd become used to the limited freedom he'd allowed her. With the front access door locked Heather now had the run of the castle during the summer months. He'd even created a studio upstairs in the tower for the girl to sit and do her drawings. But the last two visits had not gone well, and when James hadn't returned having forced her below stairs after the second it somehow worried Heather that maybe he'd abandoned her after all!

The first of the two he'd arrived but seemed a little distracted, plus the weather hadn't helped. Heavy rain and a bit windy and he'd apologised saying he was busy and couldn't stop long after all. They'd planned a whole day and now it'd been spoiled, James saying that there was a chance of some very bad storms coming through the area in the next few days. "This is nothing love to what they're forcasting," explaining that the remains of a bad hurricane were crossing the Atlantic and due to hit the whole of Scotland head on.

While this happened a few times a year, this particular hurricane had caused devastation on the Eastern seaboard of the States and Canada. Many people had died despite warnings and now it was coming this way. "Well Claggan's probably survived worse," she quipped. Only for James to scowl at her. "Yeah, but for those of us up top it's not so easy to deal with." Which might be a little harsh on Heather but she paused then apologised for being flippant. He gave her a cuddle and did the same, but told her she should spend the next couple of days packing up the tower studio please. The girl dreading the winter to come as it might mean she'd... have to remain under the hatch for up to four months.

She'd agreed to do that, got a hug then started after he'd gone. Emptying the cupboards and carrying the lightest of the chairs and stowing them in the manacle room. But the weather didn't let up and the wind got so bad she was not able to get the heavier bits down the slippery staircase. So when James returned, this time in a really wound up state they had the first row in years. "Bloody hell love, I did ask for everything to come down, and all the way too. Not the manacle room but in there!" he said pointing to the first of the rooms by the hatch staircase.

Now Heather knew he'd said no such thing and protested. It wasn't her fault and he hadn't told her. "Right well come on," he urged, leaving her behind while he went to the tower letting Heather move the bits downstairs from the manacle room. Unfortunately she tried to do this wearing heels. He found her tottering slowly along the corridor, almost falling over as she changed the snaplocks and James lost his temper. Snapping at her to hurry up and get into sensible footwear. 

"What's the hurry love?" Heather asked having changed into sneakers. The girl alarmed on finding out that the storm wasn't decreasing as expected. This would be the first direct hit of a hurricane for over a century. "I've got a lot on my plate so don't need to worry about you as well. There's even talk they're gonna start evacuating parts of the Western Isles, Oban and Ft William in the next twenty-four hours. Any low-lying coastal bits are in danger. I've got a whole bloody farm to sort out, plus Wally needs help. Now get moving!" he barked, slapping her backside none too gently. That was too much for her and instead of going faster Heather petulantly began to slow down.

It took him a few trips to realise she was playing up despite his repeated urging, seeing her unpacking boxes rather than shifting the next lot and took action. Catching her bending down he grabbed hold of Heather's arms and snaplocked both wrists behind her back. She screamed at him to stop but the lad threw the girl over his shoulder then carried her into the bedroom and dropped Heather on the bed, holding her one-handed as she tried to resist. 

Grabbing the chain from the wall with the other he wound it round the frame a few times till only a short length remained then attached it to her collar. Removing the other one off her leg as she tried to kick him. He smirked telling her to stop struggling then secured her ankles together. Leaving her lying there unable to even sit upright. "THAT'S for misbehaving! You had enough warnings. If you shut up wailing missy I might free you before I have to leave. Got it?"

That did break through her rage at what he'd done and Heather just lay there sobbing as he walked out of the room. Slamming and bolting that door too. All she heard over the next hour or maybe more was him moving stuff around, up and downstairs until he returned and came in. Seeing her distraught and helpless, her eyes red with tears. She didn't even flinch when her wrists were freed then her legs. Miss McCreadie waited till he'd put the chain onto her ankle then freed her neck and got up. Ignoring his outstretched arms offering an apologetic hug then walking past him to go and use the toilet. "OK, suit yourself lassie," he said shortly. Heather didn't reply and left him standing there.

Coming back she made a half-hearted attempt to apologise. Stopping when James said this time he'd have to put the hatch down on her. "No," she replied, her face paling by the second. "I'm honestly sorry for playing up, I just didn't think. Please don't... just lock the corridor and the front one instead. What if it floods down here? If only the first door is done then I might be able to break it down or... well...just... don't leave me down here," she whispered clutching his arm.

But he wasn't in the mood and refused. "Sorry but I cannot risk it Heather. The drains are perfectly adequate. Now I need to go." Then turned and walked out without offering her a kiss. Quickly she followed, changing snaplocks but he was faster. Passing the passagway door and flinging it shut in her face. She screamed at James not to do it but the echo of the bang drowned her voice. The bolts were slid across then a key secured her inside as she continued begging him not to leave. 

Instead he passed through the manacle keys and told her to remove her wrist and ankle cuffs. Heather paused and he said if she didn't hurry up then they'd remain on her limbs. Now the girl complied, unlocking each but instead of passing them one at a time she gathered the four and stuffed them through the bars together then bounced the key off his head as he'd bent down to pick them up! 

"You don't care about me anymore," she wailed as he came up, eyes blazing with anger. He couldn't understand why she was doing this. Didn't she realise the danger he was in? The drive back to Braemore was going to be treacherous enough and he could feel the stronger breeze even down here. "Perhaps I care too much," he retorted and turned away. 

Ignoring her banging both fists on the door as again she pleaded not to be locked downstairs. Calling him a bastard and other rude names as he hurried upward trying not to cry. He couldn't help it as her voice taunted him so he let the chain run freely instead of through his hands. Cutting off the hysterical last screams as it slammed down on the girl he still loved whatever she did or said.

James cried all the way home, only the fact it was pouring with rain as he did the gate did he manage to disguise this once drying off in the kitchen. June was concerned but he fobbed her off saying one of the gates had slammed on his fingers. Showing her the marks actually caused by punching Claggans' walls in a rage on the way out. Ordering the castle ghosts to look after his beloved Heather... or else.

Chapter 2.

That was the last time he'd visited and she was convinced it had been her fault after all. She spent so many hours over the next few days just sobbing, praying to the ghosts. Even they seemed to leave her alone and at one point for the first week the boxes didn't refill themselves and Heather had to start a rationing plan. Candles too burned until she was down to the very last one. That night she went to bed and prayed that whenever he did return that she'd do anything he desired. 

Next morning Heather awoke, just the one candle barely alight with an inch to go, flickering in the breeze that seemed very strong considering where she was. But she could see the others had regrown and quickly she lit them, sobbing with thanks as things got brighter. Once dressed she went next door, checking the boxes and her heart surged to see they were full again! Since then she'd prayed every day for James and his family.

Today Heather did the washing up then was about to head into her sitting room when a familiar sound reached her. Moments later she was delighted as the hatch chain began to run, squeaking slightly as it obviously hadn't been oiled for ages. The girl trembled and reached for the corridor chain, almost forgetting how to clip it on her collar. "It's been that long dammit," she growled, her emotions all over the place but trying to put a happy face on as footsteps came slowly downstairs. 

Not the usual hurry however and he looked through the bars to see her standing there. "All secured?" he asked and Heather was shocked. Not even a flicker of emotion or recognition and despite this she nodded. He couldn't still be angry after last time? The door was unlocked and bolts drawn back then he pushed it open. James walked slowly back into her life yet STILL he showed little, carrying a couple of bags of stuff to add to her supplies. He brushed past and went into the kitchen, dumping them on the table, hearing Heather's heels clicking behind him as she followed.

"James, love... is something wrong?" she asked, shuddering when he froze. The guy turning towards her then he almost seemed to collapse. She rushed forward and caught him, easing the guy over to the bench and got James sitting down. "Ouf..." he said, his breathing a little ragged and Heather's heart gave a jump... as she'd once been that way herself. Surely he wasn't... ill?

He looked up into her beautiful face, his own trying not to show the pain, but she knew. Taking his ice-cold hands into her own. "James, is it... that?" she whispered and he nodded as she sat alongside.

"Yeah," he said, feeling her shaking as it struck home. "I got the results yesterday. Even Kelvin doesn't know yet, nor does mum. She's been over with Jen for a fortnight, but coming home tonight, our lassie popped out another rug-rat a week ago." And that was a surprise, as Heather didn't know his sister had been pregnant. Normally he kept Miss McCreadie up to date on family stuff and that surely would have been told. 

So how long was it since his last distressing visit?

"I'm sorry it's been so long Heather. In fact I'd better level with you right now, but we'll do it next door in... your bedroom please," he said, gripping tight. They went and sat down and the tale emerged.

Heather McCreadie managed not to faint on finding out it was summer... the FOLLOWING year! "It's been that long?" and he nodded. Yep, eight months actually and its now July. Going on to say that 'up-top' they'd just endured the worst weather for decades. "Possibly you honey, were the safest person in Scotland down here. Especially during that October hurricane." She nodded, clutching his hands and immediately apologised for what she'd said back then. 

"Yeah, I must do the same for what I did to you, I kicked myself for days afterwards. Guess the ghosts gave you some grief?" She nodded wryly and their lips met for a long kiss and they both wept as the couple held each other tight.

She was appalled to hear about the damage across the country. Four hundred dead, many thousands injured and property damage running into billions. "We lost the roof off the large barn and another was written off... the small one where I found you," he said, the girl blushing on remembering that night. He did too but apart from that they were sheltered in the valley and had escaped the worst. 

"Poor Wally however has lost everything. Thank goodness I was able to rescue him as his place was exposed out on the hilltop. We'd moved his stock into our spare barn so the animals made it but I had to drag him away at the end, he didn't want to leave. Just as well I did because the farmhouse... just vanished, only the floor-base remains. He's staying with us now. Lives in Jen's room till his insurance pays up. He was supposed to retire years ago leaving the place... to wee Martin, my mate who died in the crash in 2006? Now we're not sure what's gonna happen to him."

Heather sat there fiddling with her dress as the tale continued. "I'm so glad I'd altered the vent system so your air came from the new one inside the castle walls. The pipe outside would surely have been well under the umpteen-foot drifts that have blanketed the high moors. I screwed it shut or you would have had white stuff blowing out of there, coulda made a snowman on yer carpet," he chuckled wryly knowing Heather loved snowballing. They'd had a session in Ft William with the other girls after their 'engagement walk'.

"It started days after the hurricane. That's why I didn't come back, we were too busy with Wally and rescuing others. Even now there's still a lot that hasn't melted. Never seen snow lying here in July for Petes sake." 

She did mention that at one time she'd needed to block the original hole up, the first time it'd seemed painfully cold blowing down despite the top being shut. Needing to wear the old dress over her normal clothing AND use all the spare blankets. James replying,"it hit –28C not ten miles from here, guess it was that night. I really panicked, worrying 'bout you." She tried to smile. "Thanks, sorry but I really cursed you that time. But please honey... what's up with you now then?"

He paused and she trembled as a painfully familiar story emerged. Pains, aches, tiredness coming and going after Christmas. James couldn't afford time off the farm and dared not say anything to his folks. "Pride go'eth before the fall? Then I did big time out in the yard two months ago. Wally was there and said I just stopped, got out of the jeep and went down like a sack of feed. He thought I'd had a heart attack, think it nearly gave him one too!" he quipped, trying to cheer Heather up though he guessed she knew what was coming.

"So I was carted off to Inverness. Spent a week being prodded and probed in places too uncomfortable to mention in polite company. They found nothing. Bloodwork showed zip according to them. But I wasn't convinced. So once back at Braemore I spoke to your Dr Chalmers, you remember her love?" Heather nodded. "Yeah Lucy was... is great...and?" 

"She drove all the way to see me. You didn't know she was ex MOD?" and Heather looked amazed. "Well she is, and she tested for various contaminants having remembered me... and came up trumps. Only it's something that hasn't been known here... since WW2. That's why your cancer got missed. Now... it's my turn. I've got the same bloody problem you had... and she's warned me we've gotta keep it secret. If it gets out, then the whole of this part of Scotlands' in deep trouble," he said at last.

Heather gasped, surely he couldn't be serious. "It's not infectious, but Lucy will have to answer some very awkward questions if or when it worsens. Like how she and I know each other. The fact she knew you. She's sure MOD would find that out too easily if I went back to hospital, so...it looks like... I'm going to have... to well, leave and go die quietly somewhere instead."

Miss McCreadie burst into tears, thinking that maybe it'd been Claggan that had poisoned both of them instead of saving her. "But James... you can't do that!" she said, gripping tight in case he left straight away. The thought he'd lock her down here permanently was too horrible to contemplate. These last eight months had been hard enough. Knowing he'd NEVER return... no chance and she waited a few minutes before speaking.

Chapter 3.

"Well I've got an idea. Daft as it sounds but I need you to think carefully before you refuse," she said after a long thought. "It's a multi-part thing" and she asked the following...

A. Was Lucy aware Heather was still alive, had she asked James what had really happened to her?

B. If not, would she believe James if he told her the truth, bringing Dr Chalmers to see for herself?

C. Would she, to avoid implicating herself again... cover up James own disappearance?

D. If she agreed, was James... prepared to come and live here at Claggan full time?

E. Would Kelvin and June go along with this having discovered Heather was still alive?

"Well you certainly have thought this out. How long?" he asked. Not surprised Heather had wondered right from day1 whether her illness had been caused by what she'd done. "Guess I've had time to mull it over honey," she said and a smile touched his lips. "But it's too late to worry about it now. I guess if I took this chain off, I'll be dead within minutes." she replied, touching the snaplock on her collar and for a moment James thought she'd undo it. "No!" he barked, making her jump as she hadn't meant to get that close.

He apologised, she said nothing but looked puzzled when James reached into the other bag and pulled out her wrist cuffs. Asking her to put them on and she paused, surely this was hardly the time to start playing games. "Please Heather, just do it," he sighed unlocking them. She shrugged and applied each one, securing them then returning the keys after repeating this for her ankles. 

Maybe I'm going upstairs, she thought, though as James was dressed in a heavy jacket and trousers with boots too she wasn't sure. He'd said it was summer up there...

Once done he ordered her to wriggle across the bed and allow him to snaplock her down. "James love, surely this can wait...?" Heather said but was unprepared when he took her arms then started pushing the girl down. "Alright... I'll do it. Just WAIT A MOMENT!" she snapped, for the first time in ages becoming scared of him again.

Heather now shuddered as she lay back. The 'snip' of each one binding her to the bed was not pleasant today and she was worried at what was happening. That more so once he'd spread-eagled her, as James then produced material, swiftly hands grabbing her jaw and applying the gag, forcing it deep into her mouth, muffling squeals as Miss McCreadie naturally began begging him not to...

Only as he was about to blindfold the struggling girl did something change in James' face, the material inches from her terrified eyes before he stopped. "Oh bloody hell, what am I doing?" he whispered hoarsly before undoing her gag. Allowing Heather to breathe properly as he quickly freed the girl's limbs, having checked her collar chain was still attached, sweeping her up and holding on tightly as she wept. "I'm so sorry honey, please forgive me?" he asked, feeling the lass shuddering less as she began to dry up.

Heather was devastated at what had happened. He'd come within a few moments of raping her... hadn't he? Was his mind that screwed up about the diagnosis he was no longer capable of thinking rationally? Either way their relationship might have to change unless he was sincere about never harming her. The fact he was now trembling more than she was... as he slid off the bed onto his knees looking up at her.

"Please love, please forgive me, I'll never do anything like that again. I promise," he said, his eyes now filling with tears, like her own and she had to say it. "I will love, I'll do it, OK?" Heather said, reaching for his hands wrapping hers over them. The two silver rings sparking as they touched and making both jump a little. His head leaned forward and rested on her knees, Heather gently ruffled his short-cropped hair as he finally wiped both red-rimmed eyes,' kissed her fingers then came up to sit alongside her. Reaching for the keys and unlocking her cuffs. The girl rubbing both wrists as the restraints were put back in the bag then it was thrown into the corridor.

"I'm so scared," he said at last. "I now know how you felt... and I'm thinking about revealing to June and Kelvin that you're still around. If they take it well then maybe your ghosts could help me. Not the Jem stuff... but they might save me as I should be. Please help me honey?"

Heather trembled and after a few silent moments she nodded. "OK, make me a drink next door while I speak to them, yes?" His head dropped and he agreed, leaving her alone, though she did ask him to shut the door and bolt it. "No key but just slide them across. Give me a hour will you?" So he complied.

She lay on the bed, eyes closed and 'spoke'. James next door sitting on the sofa trying to ignore the growing ache in his belly. After what seemed ages he awoke to hear Heather calling for him. Quickly he returned and having checked she was secure opened up. It took one look... see her gentle smile...

"The answer is yes," she said, bursting into tears and he did the same, coming closer to hold her. That lasted minutes then Heather told him to change into the frock. "All they're gonna do is examine you first of all. So don't expect miracles and it might hurt a great deal. Though might be less than what you've got already?" and he nodded. 

"Yeah, it's like you did in Ft William before you collapsed. Hoping not to bother anyone?" She nodded sadly. "Yeah, us people are so bloody foolish... too human even," and they chuckled as she helped him out of his clothing, alarmed he'd lost weight. The dress was applied and she put the collar on, saying wrist and ankle cuffs were not needed. "Just lie down and we'll let them see, yes?"

Heather locked and bolted the door having first blown all bar one of the candles out then stood in the darkened corridor watching. James lying rigidly on the bed, collar starting to glow a greenish tinge. Something she'd never known happen as he groaned in pain. Arms by his side but fingers twitching. He began to gasp as the metal loop grew brighter, almost lighting up the room as he started murmuring. 

This lasted a while then the light faded leaving the candle flicking in the corner. She waited till James began to stir then he called out. Telling her it was safe to come in. Heather had the door open and was soon wrapped in his arms, seeing his eyes, not quite bright but much better than before. They had a long kissing session, hands running everywhere before he said it would be OK. "The questions were interesting but I think they're serious. I might be fine." Telling her about his 'chat'. "Ye senior spook, she's quite a character?" and Heather chuckled. "Yes love, she's the former owner of your dress!" 

"They suggested I have a few days here. Not sure I can afford that but it... well I have no option. I'm gonna leave you here with everything open till next Saturday, the forecast is good now so please get as much sun as you can. Then Sat night I'll put the hatch down and bring them after lunch on Sunday. You've got a clock now so I'll confirm the time later and you'll need to wear the old dress so practice doing it up please. It's about time everyone learned the truth. Does that sound alright honey?"

The fact she broke down and wept, holding his hands was the answer as she nodded. "Yes, if they can save you, Kelvin and June will be puzzled as to how it's happened. Leave Dr Chalmers out of it for the moment. We'll do it... purely the ghostly way." He grinned tiredly but his eyes were brighter now as he unlocked the collar.

Chapter 4.

And that was how it happened. James drove home, waving happily to the sillouetted figure up on the castle roof. Heather seeing her first sunset for eight months now her eyes had adjusted having spent two hours in the great hall just walking about, staring out of the window holes.

June met him at the farm, Kelvin having left to visit clients in Glasgow so the lad held back on the bad news. Seeing photos of the new arrival. Master Kenneth Wallace McAvoy and James smiled. He'd always wanted a boy of his own to call Wallace, named after one of Scotland's historic figures, so at least Jenna was keeping him happy on that score. He managed to keep silent even when June said he seemed a little quiet and tired. Bluffing mum off saying today would have been Gary's 30th birthday. He still missed his mates so badly.

Dad returned on the Thursday and he let the old lad settle down with a drink before bringing in his letter from Dr Chalmers. Naturally they were devastated when the dreaded 'C' word was mentioned. Worst of all when James admitted this had to be kept secret because of the type. "We cannot risk the authorities poking around here. I've got some ideas but I need to speak to the right person. I'll take you there on Sunday afternoon. Now don't worry, we've caught it early enough to have me fixed, OK?" 

Making them promise not to tell Jenna or her husband. June wasn't sure about this but agreed, seeing James for once looking vulnerable. Suggesting they have a picnic lunch on Sunday before going to see this mysterious individual. He was away for most of Saturday in Ullapool and left Heather above ground until it was almost dark. "Lunchtime tomorrow it'll all be over and we can relax, be brave till then sweetheart," he said kissing her. Not knowing Miss McCreadie was more worried about what his folks were going to say on discovering the truth of the last few years.

James drove the jeep down the track, his parents baffled as to what he was playing at. Yes this led to Claggan, and yes, Kelvin knew that even now his lad was still haunted by the memories of Heather. He'd finally need to have strong words with sonny tonight as this had gone too far. They were not supposed to be coming here, but going to see this specialist instead.

Arriving outside the ruin, Kelvin puzzled at seeing a metal door at the entrance. "You put that there?" he asked and James nodded. "Yep, six years ago. But I want you to promise me something before I let you in, OK? That you'll never say anything about what you're about to see. Not Jen or Robert, nobody at all, especially the authorities." And they stared at him for that. Thinking that illness or not James was losing the plot. But they nodded anyway as he paused for breath.

"Six years ago you watched while I scattered my girl's ashes from the tower, them blowing to the south where that pipe is placed. Yes?" he said pointing to the metal object as they walked towards it. They agreed, remembering that sad sad day. "Well I'm gonna shock you now more than you ever thought would be possible... because Heather McCreadie is still alive and buried right below this vent!"

June managed not to faint but it was a close run thing, Kelvin catching her as she wobbled badly. "Now you look here laddie..." he began furiously, but stopped seeing James raise his hands then unscrewing the vent top and banging three times on it. Before calling. "Heather love, we're all here this time. You OK down there pet?" Waving his parents' closer... in time for them to faintly hear... "Yes James, I'm here honey..." from an obviously female voice!

"Right, we're coming down in an hour once I've explained, so prepare yourself as I asked." And she replied that she would do that. "See you soon folks. Byee."

The elders stared at their son. Dumbstruck might be a good start as they struggled to understand what they'd just heard. "Six years, my goodness James she's been down there SIX years?" June stammered, only to see her son nod. "Yes, we've had to keep this our painful secret all that time. Now you know why I brushed off Helen Macathy last year when she started coming round more than I wanted. No way could I date another girl and... well that's all you're gonna get on that subject."

He did warn his parents that Heather was wearing a metal collar and she would be physically chained to the walls while the doors were open. Kelvin was about to explode now and only June prevented her husband from thumping his son. "You... are gonna pay dearly for this..." he began, only for James to retort that he might be about to answer to a 'higher being.' That stunned the old guy into silence. He deflated and shook his head. "Well then, guess you'd better explain inside," he said as it was starting to rain a little harder now.

James did and it took the full hour as he told the tale, this time right from the time when he discovered her in the barn. Wearing the same style dress on the postcard, saying that she was probably getting into it right now! "She's never said whether the ghosts tell her the history and if the Lady got to Claggan. I guess she might do in years to come." Then more of the tale and now his parents were intrigued.

Going on to add the floor below had been fitted out for her needs and they'd recognise everything that was there. "Even Jen's unknowingly contributed. After Hollie's birth she cleared out her wardrobes remember? Well Heather has all that now and I must say she looks pretty good in it." Though he knew that mentioning Jemima might ruin things so the lass had been prewarned not to talk about that.

They wandered round the castle both parents seeing the various rooms on the upper levels first. All of them with at least one long chain starting at the doorway. Especially up in the tower where Heather spent a lot of her time during those summer 'freedom months'. The girl had rebuilt the studio last week while she'd been free and alone. Only going under the hatch last night during that short visit to brief the lassie about their arrival time. "I'll be here," she'd grinned and got a kiss.

"Sketches on her walls downstairs, she's done every one," James said proudly, telling Kelvin how the girl had developed into a very talented artist. Learning from books he'd bought, then after a few years of copying pictures started to produce her own. Having the best ones framed and hung up. The one of Claggan that was in James bedroom had been done by her. He explained that the chain alone for that had stretched a hundred feet into the moors and was the furthest she'd been able to go in all that time.

Nervously June and Kelvin came downstairs. James finally showing them the rooms where it'd all started. "Bloody hell," his father muttered on seeing the manacles hanging there. He didn't touch them but James saw what it meant. "Ever do that tying up thing...?" and both parents paused. June starting to blush and the lad knew. "It's OK mum, we've done it. Don't think Jen ever has, but I knew you had at least once. Saw you trying to rub cord marks off when you were doing the ironing."

Kelvin was trying not to smile, the fact his boy knew... "I thought we'd got away with that love," he said, rubbing June's shoulders and now they did sheepishly grin. "OK then James, I'm slowly coming round to see it. Not happy mind, you should have told us long ago, but we've got this far. You better take us... downstairs to see her."

Chapter 5.

They stared as the huge hatch was raised and chocked. Torches ablaze they stepped into the world that was so foreign but to Heather what she knew as home. The girl now dressed in the old robe for the first time in ages, standing at the middle doorway clipping the chain to her collar. "OK James, I'm securely done love," she called then watched as the door to the corridor was unlocked. 

First through was June, looking her up and down, coming closer then reaching for Heather, the two women tenderly embracing as Kelvin followed. "Oh my dear, I'm so sorry, we had no idea about this," she began, rubbing the torso, feeling the youngster trembling. Miss McCreadie managing not to cry at seeing someone other than James for the first time in half a decade. She looked exactly as June had remembered, that beautiful face, thankfully no longer pale after the whole of last week spent up in the sunshine. Her body too, as shapely as before despite the unusual dress being worn.

Only the sight of that metal collar locked round Heather's throat disturbed her. "It's... it's what keeps me alive when the door is open," she said, seeing James' mother looking at it then the chain attached to the wall. They broke off and the girl invited them 'into my palace' as she walked into the kitchen room offering lunch and a drink.

Having been coming here so long now James had done an amazing job on Heather's quarters. Wood paneling now covered the stonework in each room and all were carpeted throughout. Kelvin was amazed at the workmanship as he examined the corners. "Still hard to believe where we are," he murmured looking up at the ceiling that had been painted last year, the last part of the fitting out. The rows of candles burning fascinated him as obviously there was no electricity here.

Heather brewed tea on her new gas cooker then made sandwiches. Making sure she turned it off once drinks had been served. Kelvin wondered how she had enough to last... Only for Miss McCreadie to start telling the story from her side, about the ghosts and how everything was replenished once used. June sitting there in rapt attention as the girl confirmed everything she'd heard earlier but from a different slant. It took her a long time, answering the odd question they threw at her but at the end James saw his parents nodding. 

But he was dreading the fact he was about to tell them the plan Dr Lucy Chalmers was cooking up to avoid any potential discovery if a forthcoming session underground didn't work...

That he might have to join Heather here... permenantly!

Already he'd started work on the last rooms beyond the normal barrier door. That too was about to be moved to just before the staircase. Giving the couple another two chambers to utilise for their needs. Her gym kit would take up the whole of one as for the moment it was in her kitchen. Heather found it got in the way sometimes, especially now a rowing machine had joined the exercise bike and a cross-trainer bought three years ago. 

She was also now trying to persuade James to buy her a piano. The guy finding out Heather McCreadie had been a rather good player at school. Now she wanted to recreate those times so that and maybe a guitar too would provide her with something else to do. "OK, I'll have a look round, mind you getting it delivered might be a problem, and you'll need to be damn fit to help me get it downstairs!

The other now had a 6ft by 8ft paddling pool in it and was great fun to use when she needed to cool down during the summer time if she'd spent too long outside. With the workshop as well they'd have the run of the floor. But he hadn't yet summond the courage to tell Kelvin he might be about to become their new Gatekeeper! 

They talked for a little while then Heather led June next door to show her the wardrobe, saying this was the first time she'd worn the old frock for ages. James and Kelvin passed them as he took his dad to the workshop. The older woman seeing Jenna's dresses neatly hanging up. "James said he'd found a good home. Never knew they'd end up at Claggan Castle." Miss McCreadie smiled, saying said she was going to change. 

June watching as she easily did the snaplocks between collar and her legs then got into the off-white dress. "It looks so good on you love. I ought to buy you a few more." Heather blushing now and said that'd be nice though she was a size smaller as the belt was cinched in, same problem for her shoes as she applied the heels. June looked so fondly at her then admitted this outfit had been Jenna's 'going-away dress' and the fitted military style jacket for it was in her own wardrobe at home. "It was the 'something borrowed' part of her special day." 

Miss McCreadie smiled sadly, thinking she'd love to have got married sometime. "Would you bring me some pictures of Jen's gown please. I'd like to sketch them. As... I'm never liable to marry it'll be the closest I get." June agreed and said she'd like to come next week and have a longer talk with her. "Yeah, I'd like that very much, be nice to chat to another woman again. I do... love James but there's always the other stuff I cannot talk about," the girl said, then they embraced and had a kiss. "You are so brave about this honey," June said, feeling her trembling.

James and Kelvin came into the bedroom, the old lad impressed at the workshop though he didn't intend to remove anything. "It's secret history son, and staying that way, OK? Yon missy there is it's Guardian." He said. Heather smiled and commented that at least she could get there now. "You should have been here the first six months after James left. It was pretty dreadful, though not his fault," she replied. They looked puzzled then she told more of the tale.

Kelvin and June were appalled to find out how confined Heather had originally been. "Everything was in this one room. Single bed, toilet was a bucket, couple of food boxes of cakes and biscuits, yes there were choccy ones!" she grinned seeing June roll her eyes. "But you must understand James didn't expect the ghosts to be able to save me... I too thought I'd left it too late. When Janice and Kyle broke me out of the hospice..." The surprised expressions made her stop and stare.

"Guess you don't know then?" they shook their heads as Heather explained about all the laws they'd broken, the fact the whole funeral had been a set up and so on. "I hope I had a nice send off then?" she asked and the others nodded. "But Janice and the others are NOT aware that I'm still here. James never said I survived, just that I 'moved on' a few days later. Lucy Chalmers fixed my death certificate... and I'm afraid that's the way it's going to have to stay. My money I guess bought silence, James hasn't said much about it... No I don't want to know... period," she said seeing he was about to say something.

The parents were silent now and she saw June shaking. "So you really lived in just one?" and Heather nodded. "Yes. After I escaped from Ft William I stayed at your place for five days, then James brought me here," and shocked looks showed they didn't know this either. "Good at keeping schtum!" James said and everyone grinned as she continued the story.

"Yes. I was dressed in that skirt-suit and boots and it felt really nice," she said pointing to it in the wardrobe. "The last thing I saw before Claggan was your lovely kitchen, then James blindfolded me..." she began, seeing them start, stunning the elders revealing she'd been tied up to stop her chickening out. James pointed to the cords hanging on a hook. "But I'd asked him to bind me in case I lost my bottle, so don't scold him," she added then told James to demonstrate it again if he wanted to.

Chapter 6.

June and Kelvin sat amazed as he complied, Heather changed the chain to her collar then unlocked her wristcuffs and took them off, placing both arms behind her back in the required 'X-shape' and James secured them. Finishing off with the double loop round her torso, adding the bow at the front. His dad peered closely, touching her bindings, asking her to tug. Seeing it was impossible as she wriggled her fingers. "Nice to see you haven't forgotten your knots laddie," and the lad grinned. "Yep, your dad taught me very well, saying to Heather that it'd been Alfred ' the old salt of the sea' who'd showed the next generations how to do real ropework.

"Wow. Guess you really are into this bondage thing love." June said, going red admitting that Kelvin occasionally tied her, though not recently. The youngsters looked and laughed at this. "Hearing about your parents sex lives... amazing!" James said and got slapped by his chuckling father as June slowly turned a scarlet shade. "Well we must have done did it at least twice to get you and Jenna." Heather squealing with laughter now before asking James to untie her."OK but keep your mits out of the biscuit box!"

Once free Heather carried on, telling the others about the rest of her bonds, the way she'd asked James to leave her once she'd changed into the old dress. "Chained to the wall by my neck, hands cuffed together, same for my legs. This door was locked and bolted, both the ones in the corridor were too AND the hatch was down. He'd also tossed the, as I thought it, only keys down the vent. The collar as you can see is permenant. No way will I let it be cut off, even to replace it with a removable one. These cuffs however are new and, er... more comfortable to wear though I don't sleep in them anymore." His parents stared in shock and June really was all a quiver now trying to imagine the full scenario.

Heather brightened the mood seeing June was getting a little distressed, saying he'd only done this after she'd ordered him to comply. "It was the only way we thought the ghosts would help, leaving me at their mercy. But I think the hardest thing was once they'd done so and I realised I was gonna survive. Using the bucket was bloody hard in that dress and I did cry a lot in frustration. But thankfully months later James returned. The guy sneakily got another set of keys cut from clay pressings and suddenly there he was to stop me going crazy," she said, reaching for the lad's hands and they had a brief cuddle.

Kelvin asked to see some of the padded cuffs, Heather handing them across for examination. "Mind you the originals only had one other loop between them, the ankles had a couple but I could shuffle a few inches at a time. Tell you what, James dear, there are the others next door. Bring them in please and you can see for yourself," the youngster looked at his girl and she nodded. He agreed and went to the workshop, coming back later with two complete sets including collars. 

While he was away not much was said as they finished drinks, though Kelvin did notice at one point Heather had her eyes shut for at least two minutes, lips moving silently as if she was communicating with someone. Thankfully June was having a nosy in the wardrobe again so by the time she finished Heather was back to normal, a slightly curious look on her face. This brightening up once her man had returned and laid the restraints out on the bed. 

"Wow," June said as she held the biggest loop, Kelvin weighing the wrist ones. But the youngsters were amazed when James' mum asked if she could try them on. Even Kel looked startled, then said they'd got this far. "Might as well see how bad it could be." 

Heather paused then assured them it'd be all right, her 'friends' had guessed this might happen and were allowing them to try. "I won't ask how you know," June said but still made her shudder thinking there were things here watching things. Miss McCreadie said that at least one was close all the time keeping her 'safe' from harm. "If I accidentally knocked off a snaplock I'll have about thirty seconds before keeling over. That's why James is so careful asking am I secured with the doors open, OK, are you ready?" June looked at Kelvin who nodded, asking James to do him as well.

The lad opened the collars first, allowing his parents to apply them to each other. Then once those were locked on with keys removed he waited till June's breathing stabilised before telling both to lie down on the bed and relax. No surprises when his mum gasped as her wrists were manacled together then another for the ankles, his dad said nothing but James could see he too was trembling a little. "Right that's all. You'll not be chained to the wall, but Heather and I are going upstairs. That'll mean all the doors and hatch are going to be secured as well."

For a moment he though June's resolve would crack but she nodded, very pale now but seemingly determined to see this through. James left the room first and Heather said they'd have an hour like this. "If you do feel anything touch you, please don't react or scream. Just let them do whatever they want. They're aware you are scared and understand why. I was petrified on my first time, so please be brave, OK?" Bending over kissing June's trembling fingers first, giving Kelvin a quick squeeze on his. She laid a blanket over the pair then followed her boyfriend outside.

James quietly locked the door, the bolts didn't squeak either and before long the two were above the hatch. "Don't slam it for goodness sake," she said seeing his hands on the chain, "Your mum is really terrified of what she's allowed us to do. Don't spoil it for them," he nodded and eased the links through his fingers until a light 'bump' indicated the thing was down.

Heather smiled briefly, taking James' hand and they had a long kiss. "It's the first time that hatch has been shut without me down there for six years. My friends are going to... well examine your parents. See how they are," she said, James replying that she should have warned him first. "I've briefed them, and my lot know not to do any harm. Just have faith will you." Her eyes twinkled and he stared at her. "Meanwhile as they're so busy... you can 'have' me on the wall next door. I know the right keys are in your pocket!" he chuckled and led Heather there, that delightful clicking of her heels as they went in.

He had her locked within minutes though as there wasn't any material she'd have to remain ungagged. "Discipline young lady. Can you accept a good screwing without squealing?" She chuckled and he set to work. A close run thing and she glowed and succeeded. 

Chapter 7.

Meanwhile downstairs June and Kelvin lay there, almost too scared to move an inch in case... But at first nothing happened then... He felt it and managed not to yell. Just one finger on his chin, rubbing the stubble as he'd forgotten to shave this morning. Another joined it, tracing over his forehead then what felt like the palm of a hand rested just above his eyebrows. Like how his mother used to check temperature when he was trying to dodge off school!

His eyes were open but there was nothing as the blanket slowly moved down away from his torso. June felt that and she tried not to gasp as two fingers now gently rested on her head as well. Both breathing rates were increasing, each knowing the other was being 'checked out' as Heather said might happen. 

More fingers joined the others, unbuttoning shirt and blouse but not a hard grope. Just gentle touches here and there. Kelvin jumped when one hair was pulled off his chest but he settled. His wife used to do that when she was drunk and he remembered those wonderful times so grinned. A finger tapped his nose in admonishment and thankfully he didn't try and stop it.

Feelings began to flow out of both the collars, June aware that the faintest of glows were now lighting the room and she flushed as her nipples were manipulated, then the rest of her breasts felt all over. This lasted a while, her head like something was reading her mind but when she tried to move her arms to cover her chest there was nothing, something was holding them by her waist. 

A wave of panic swept over her and June shuddered, then the hand on her forehead began stroking, its sensitive touch calming her. Kelvin too was having a moment as fingers checked him lower down. Despite turning fifty-five next month it didn't stop things au naturalle and felt himself hardening! 

The collars were now bright green, almost too warm for comfort but then somehow the spirits saw this and cool drafts began to blow across both people. A sigh from June as the temperature dropped, then after another few minutes the light faded as well, hands buttoning their clothes up again before the last fingers left their heads. Both lay there shaking for what seemed ages.

"You OK love?" June whispered to her husband. He replied yes, turning over to face her as she did the same, leaning in for a kiss. Their hands meeting though both jumped when the rings touched with a crackle, just the way they'd seen James and Heather's do first thing this afternoon. "That was amazing, at first terrifying but I hope we gave them what they wanted. I'll never say I don't believe now," he said and she smiled in the candlelight before falling asleep.

That was how the youngsters found them half an hour later. Holding hands under the blankets and it took the rattle of the door keys to wake them up. Heather came in first, her face concerned but once she saw them smiling she relaxed and gave both a hug and kiss, thanking them for going through with it but they'd talk later. James followed her in and unlocked the restraints, placing everything in a box then taking it back to the workshop. Meanwhile Miss McCreadie was putting her normal wrist and ankle cuffs back on her limbs, asking the elders to go next door please, make some drinks if they wanted but leave her alone in here. 

Once they'd left her man returned... "James love, can you snaplock me across the bed and do the rest. Lock and bolt the door then go into the sitting room for the next half-hour. Do not tell them anything about what you're about to do to me. I'll explain afterwards, understand?" she ordered, he stared then a raised brow from her made him comply. Covering Heather up to the neck, then applying a tight gag and the blindfold before leaving the room and locking it.

Silence fell as he retreated to the others, pulling that door shut as well. A finger to his lips silenced dad just as the old lad was about to ask something. "Thirty minutes of nothing please, she'll explain later," he murmured. They too complied, everyone watching those clock hands seemingly dawdle round the face. They all jumped on twenty minutes hearing a squeal from next door followed by loud sobs that gradually faded away. James had to be held back by Kelvin until those hands had passed the half-hour mark. "Thanks for stopping me, but don't you two dare move a muscle, and stay quiet... please. This is very serious now," he said to his parents. To emphasise this he secured the door with lock and bolts then headed for the bedroom.

Unlocking the door he saw Heather motionless, not even her fingers twitching in the cuffs. Once he started freeing her Miss McCreadie awoke, face red with tears as her eyes were uncovered and the gag removed... but they were HAPPY tears as she smiled up at him. Exhausted by whatever had happened to her. "It's OK sweetheart," she murmured, his heart now surging. "We think you're gonna be OK!" and now he did start shaking, almost unable to finish doing snaplocks. Heather just managed to apply the chain to her leg before he swept her up for a kiss.

"Let me get sorted first love then I'll see you next door to explain, OK?" He nodded, gave her a hug then returned to the others. A thumbs-up relaxed the pair as they heard Heather go past to use her toilet. Coming in ten minutes later having washed her face and changed into another dress. A broad smile got them cautiously grinning too.

Chapter 8.

"Right then folks. Good news for you lot, not so much for me, but that's something that happened six years ago and we cannot change," she said, the others at first happy, James' face falling at that last bit. 

"Don't worry love, I'm not 'popping off' anytime soon... More to the point, nor are you honey," and she grabbed hold and gave him a hug as he tried to smile again. June shaking enough that Kelvin took hold of her, cradling his wife as she listened to what Heather had to say.

"OK, for a start, you two," she indicated, pointing to June and Kelvin, "are in disgustingly rude health. My lot cannot find a single fault with either of you and they went pretty deep. They didn't know your dad's what, ninety-eight now Kel?" and the guy nodded. "Yep, ninety-nine in January next year. June's folks are both eighty-six. Must be our country air." Heather smiled at that then pointed at him.

"Only your cholesterol level lets you down matey as your Doctor apparently keeps nagging? Try to cut out the fried slice in the morning honey," James sniggered at that, mum said the same but dad insisted on a near daily fry-up before heading to work. She too chuckled now as the guy went a little red faced. "Otherwise no problem, June your HRT medication is fine. They don't understand it, wasn't around in the 1800's but hey let's not spoil it!"

That to James was the first revelation from Heather about the number of ghosts here or how old they were. Though he knew at least one was female being the former owner of the dress. Assuming Miss McCreadie wasn't making all this up, but having felt those fingers knew it must be true. Then she turned to him and everyone leaned in.

"James, Dr Chalmers was partly right. You do have... well the big C if you don't mind me saying it like that. HOWEVER, it IS still treatable. We've caught it early enough... unlike when I started getting the pains and tried to bluff it out." June nearly fainted at that, Kelvin sighed with relief. The lad however waited... 

"But, and this is a big but. What you are gonna need to do is spend time here. Not just because I want you, but because you'll have to. And down here in this room. Not sculling around outside waving at the cloud flying over." They smiled at that. "At the moment they're saying possibly one day will suffice or better an overnight. Leave it a month however and we're talking longer. And that's just their opinion." She stopped, seeing his shoulders sag. 

"I understand, but we're really busy at Braemore right now..." He began but Kelvin stopped that right away. "Yes laddie, but I'll be even busier if you're dead. What this... these guys or gals, I never really found out," he barked, "They're saying they need you here pronto. If not today then at least by next weekend, will that do Heather?" he asked. She looked and reluctantly nodded. 

"Yeah," she sighed, "I'd hope you'd have been sensible and said immediately, but if next by Saturday then OK. It should be enough. But please honey, don't overdo things... please," Heather replied. Her eyes sad now, thinking that for once James was being selfish. She ought to bind him now to stop him going, but that'd spook everyone so she agreed to wait.

"The reason by the way for my illness is nothing to do with Claggan, but something that happened here during the war. This place was a mini version of the MOD Chemical Warfare establishment. Not much took place, more of a reserve place but some development of nitrates happened. They ended up being used in fertilisers, becoming the phero-phosphate sheep-dip stuff that was banned from sale 'bout five years ago?" James nodded.

"Yeah, we used that at Braemore because it was cheaper than what replaced it. Certainly had a stack, came in blue bags if I remember. Handling it was a pain, masks, gloves the whole lot." Heather nodded sadly, "I know, it's what 'got' me," she said softly and everyone looked puzzled at this statement. 

"I didn't know about needing the masks, I tripped over a bag while in a barn alone during that first week helping you. Got a small faceful of dust off the top because it fell open, thought nothing more about it. Just closed it up and cursed myself for foolishness. Washed it off and decided to stay quiet... The pains started a while later but it takes that long if you only get a small dose. Lucy doesn't know about this, but the phosphates were the same as made here. That's why she got it mixed up." James wrapped an arm round her, realising his girl had paid a terrible price for such a simple mistake.

"As to you James, my lot can only speculate from that examination they did yesterday. They think and I'm sorry to say this about Martin and Wally, but there were long-forgotten bags of that stuff parked in their barn. You said to me when you went up there searching for him dust and stuff was blowing all around?" James nodded as that night still made him shudder. Rescuing Wally from his place might have put James' life in danger more than anyone thought possible. 

"Yeah, but I'm not gonna blame him. Wally's suffered more than enough. Just let it go people please?" Everyone agreed to do that as Heather finished up, still hoping he'd stay tonight. "Well they reckon that's when you caught a dose. But not enough to cause symptoms right away. But we... or they can still help... if given the chance."

They broke up after more drinks, June hugging Heather goodbye, promising to bring everyone back on the Saturday. "OK, and remember. No flat out... or they'll be laying you flat out... permenantly." That was enough to sober them all and the jeep soon departed with three very quiet farming folks aboard. James turning to see her waving from the tower room as they bounced away along the track. She no doubt wanted to see the sunset again. Nothing was said for the entire journey back to Braemore.

Chapter 9.

The week passed slowly. Both men worked as a team along with Wally and any time he sensed the boy was tiring dispatched him inside. Frustrating for James and he bitched to June about it when she came back from a shopping trip laden with clothing bags. Only to get short shrift on the Thursday night when one complaint too many was uttered around the kitchen table. 

"Well love you should have done as your lovely Heather asked! Remember she's paying a dreadful price, she doesn't want you to go the same way, neither do we," she snapped. Telling her son the blunt truth. It upset everyone and a long talk took place, but at the end the parents virtually ordered him to spend the whole of next week at Claggan. "Just in case." 

Kelvin drove the jeep down the track late aftenoon, letting James sit watching as he bounced it left and right. "Now you know why I had it re-routed," the lad grinned and June smiled, hanging grimly on in the back. Finally Claggan came into view and Kelvin saw his son's hands tighten on the door handle. As they came closer he could already see her. Standing at the tower window and... oh yes. Using his father's binoculars to check it was themselves and not intruders. She waved happily then vanished as the old man parked up. By the time they got out he assumed Heather was heading for the door.

He called out to make sure she was secured and Heather acknowledged this. Unlocking the door and pushing it open... to see her waiting. James went first and walked swiftly into her arms, seeing she was dressed impeccably as usual. Wearing a lovely coral coloured dress today along with the shoes. It just seemed so normal... apart from where they were, plus that collar locked round her neck and the padded cuffs on her arms and legs. They kissed long and slowly despite it only having been last week they'd left. June didn't blush seeing her son's hands roaming over Heather's backside then the rest of her.

A polite cough and the youngsters broke off grinning, June coming forward to greet the girl with the normal friendly hug and 'air' kiss on each cheek. Kelvin then took his turn and James managed not to say a word as the lassie had her hips stroked by his father!

"OK, no problems here then," he said to the girl seeing her blushing again, especially when he gently slapped her backside to get Heather moving down the corridor. "Let's have a wee drink first folks then apparently I'm going out with dad to grab the next lot of peat, while mum here wants a long girlie chat with you missy, she's brought some pressies too." Heather's eyes lighting up though she didn't have a clue what that meant. Hiding disappointment he'd be away from her for another three hours or more. June said nothing last weekend about forthcoming gifts but after a moment's thought she remembered the lass had queried her dress and shoe sizes.

The youngsters went first while Kelvin and June unloaded two heavy suitcases that had been put aboard without James knowing they were there. A dress carrier followed though he had noticed this but said nothing. Storing them inside one of the rooms as dad assured his wife that he'd get the lad past there and not let him see them. That was accomplished and they joined the others downstairs. 

Drinks were dispatched then James and Kelvin departed. Heather kissing her man as usual before he was gone from view leaving her with June. "Right young lady, they're gonna be away at least four hours as ordered by myself so it's you and me," she said as the girl sat there expectantly. "You can come and help me bring down your presents' hon. Then... brace yourself because I'm going to turn you into..." Heather almost fainting at what June was telling her. "I've got all the stuff we'll need and James has locked the front door, when that pipe bangs then you'll be OK to free yourself. Once we're back here then just do a leg and we'll change limbs as necessary, yes?"

Heather nodded, bursting into tears as the emotion got too much, June coming close with tissues and dabbing her eyes. "Well best do that now before I've fixed you up eh?" and the lassie smiled, getting a hug and kiss. "You've been so brave Heather darling, so enjoy what's about about to happen. That's an order!" Both now giggling then a slight jump as the vent banged the three times. "Right pet, four hours from now. Move it."

Meanwhile the others were heading for the peatbeds to load up last weeks' work. James pleased at the fact since the release from hospital he'd been OK. A few times he'd got tired but made it through the day, only the fact he didn't do the midnight patrol of the farm anymore grated on him. In fact in the six years since discovering Heather in the barn he'd never found any problems out there so it'd been Kel who'd said it was no longer necessary.

Chapter 10.

It took them just under two hours to fill the trailer, Kelvin and James cutting a few extra ricks to dry off then drive back to Claggan with the rest. Dad confirming that he was expecting his lad to want to stay the full period, having broached the idea last week after the auguments. It'd shaken his mum, "But she understands. It worked for Heather in part. Enough to gift her another year. If you get a full week dose in one go, well we can always pray it'll sort you out, yes?" The boy nodded, thanking his dad for being so understanding. "Not such an old ogre am I laddie?" he grinned, getting a shoulder punch from James hard enough to make him wince. "Still strong enough to best you?" and now Kelvin grinned wryly.

They got back to Claggan and James paused then hit the pipe, his mother calling up that Heather was secure, but would they stay up there please as they weren't quite ready. "Kelvin knows what to do. Just wait OK?" so that was unusual but he agreed, telling this to his old man. "Right, bit left field what's happening next, wash your hands in the bucket then follow me to the tower please." That delivered in his 'obey the command' voice so James trudged along and up the staircase. Once in Heather's studio he was amazed to find...

James waited in the castle's great hall with his father having finished dressing in the tower. Wondering why they were dolled up in morning dress just for a group photo, or that was what Kelvin said was happening. No sign of the others since they'd returned but finally he heard them coming along the corridor, well the dragging of his girl's chain and he wondered why she wasn't carrying it as usual... only to gasp as a smiling Heather emerged... in a lovely flowing white... wedding dress?

Now recognising the girl was wearing Jenna's bridal outfit and tiara!

"How the hell did you..." he began only for Kelvin to quietly growl at him. "Doesn't matter, just enjoy it laddie... please. It might be her... and I guess your only chance, OK?"

That shook James badly and Kelvin gave him a hug and apology as the women approached. June also wearing the stylish suit she normally used for formal events. Heather positively glowed in her dress, even without the veils, though one of those had skilfully been wrapped around her throat and pinned into place to cover the collar. Her golden hair nicely styled up today rather than the usual length and her beauty took his breath away. Shyly smiling as the youngsters now clasped hands. The crackle of electricity as their rings touched set everyone off in giggles as she squealed in shock.

She'd certainly squealed when June had told her what she was to wear. "But..." and that was when she'd broken down. Once through that the older woman had spent two hours turning the girl from her normal self to a sight that anyone would want to see her become. Heather didn't question why this was but during the time when June was doing her hair and make-up told her. The fact she knew all about James' condition having looked it up on the net, and what might happen if the cancer did get worse. 

"This might... sorry love but if your ghosts cannot help, then this will be his... and your only chance. We had a lovely time with Jenna in Aberdeen. James deserves his turn and you honey are part of it. Ever since you walked into his life he seemed to change into something we were proud of. Not that he wasn't before, but the way he dealt with what we thought had happened, then the loss of his friends months later. He coped marvellously with that, and Kel and myself believe the fact you were actually alive got him through it. Look around this room and the others next door. He's done all this for you love," and that set both of them off for a moment. 

They carried on chatting, almost like a mother and daughter would do, June learning a lot about the girl as she admitted how the bondage games played here had ultimately led them to this situation. That's why she'd not let June try the manacles in the upper chamber in case the ghosts got confused. "It was interesting enough when they examined us both last weekend," June admitted. 

But eventually they finished and once the gown was applied June led Heather to the mirror to see... "Oh my goodness, it's..." she gasped and almost broke down again but 'Para' strength got her through it and so it was time. It was a very slow journey upstairs and she almost tripped over the hem but saved herself just in time, June helping with the snaplocks. A pause outside the hall door...

"Ready love...?" Heather smiled and nodded, "Yes..."

Now Kelvin organised photos while June arranged the happy couple's pose as they stood near the cleanest part of the castle wall. Using a bag of soil to cover Heather's chain that led to her left ankle. James looked down into his girl's sparkling eyes, easily outshining the diamante tiara. Seeing her beautiful face smiling up at him. "I only found out three hours or so ago that your mother planned this," she murmured, trying not to be worried that he looked very tired again. James slipped his arms around her waist, feeling her body tremble as he gave her ass some attention. A smile on discovering she was wearing... "Nice, very nice indeed... But that's for later eh? Cannot believe June's let us do this."

"Pay attention you two," Kelvin said, allowing them one long kiss first, then June darted in to repair Heather's make-up before James' father got to work. They posed this way and that. The parents also using the timer and getting themselves shot too for the group ones. Finally it was all done and they gathered round to see the results. "Can you print the best of these out for me to do some sketches?" Heather asked flicking through them. June assured her it would be done.

All were delighted and Heather blushed at being complemented. "You'll want this all back soon, yes?" she asked, only for June to reply no except the tiara, as that was a family heirloom. "Jenna asked me to give the dress away quietly a couple of years ago, and never got round to it. But at the moment I cannot think of a better use for it honey, it's yours to keep, understand?" Heather nodded and got a hug from everyone as she broke down in tears. Quickly dabbing a hankie before it wrecked her make-up. The sun went in and James looked up to see a black cloud appearing so suggested they went inside. 

Going downstairs again, Heather managing not to trip over her dress, as naturally she couldn't see her feet. June having to do the snaplocks again and everyone sighed on reaching the lowest level. They had drinks, sandwiches and 'choccy biscuits for Mrs...' then Kelvin reluctantly said it was time they left... knowing James was remaining for the week. June aware of this so said nothing as she kissed her boy goodbye then moved over to the lass standing alongside.

James was shuddering as he shook hands with his dad, Heather meanwhile kissing a now tearful June as she tried not to cry herself. The youngsters broke off and held onto each other as the others walked through the entrance. "Next week James buddy, I WILL be back for you," Kelvin assured him before the metal door was closed, the boy counting to three as the bolts were slid across, feeling Heather give him a quick squeeze then let go and walk away. The sound of the lock turning could hardly be heard over his ragged breathing as the key was removed. June's heels went upstairs first then his dad's shoes followed.

As normal Heather had retreated to a room and tightly plugged her ears before the hatch was lowered. James aware she was still haunted by that sound as he stood by the door looking up, feeling the breeze suddenly ceasing as the 'thump' sealed him underground. The realisation of that was... no wonder she couldn't face it even after all this time. He'd originally planned to only have Kelvin lock the outer door but Heather had said no. James would have to endure what she'd gone through first.

Coming into the bedroom to see her sitting there, staring up at him. "All done? Are we... safely locked in?" she whispered and he nodded. "Yeah. I'm so sorry for all those times I slammed the hatch down to tease you love," he replied. Heather smiled wryly then took his hands and they shared the first of many kisses over the next few minutes as he stroked her, feeling the girl's beautiful body through the satin material of her gown. 

"You look stunning love, but I'm... sorry..." and she nodded sadly, seeing how tired he was becoming, just about standing upright now so she guessed he was too exhausted to make love to her.

He unbuttoned his formal jacket and removed the tie. The shirt followed exposing his once manly torso and Heather was appalled how thin he was getting. "Lots of porridge for you from now on... hubby," she said and at least he smiled this time. "Yeah, sounds good but it's time to... plug me in," he quipped and she chuckled now as that 'old chestnut' was said again. Though Heather could survive because the hatch and doors were down she wasn't sure about James yet. It was his idea to wear a collar all the time for this trial so she fetched it from the wall as requested. 

Reaching for her then James took it from Heather's hands and clicked the device closed. Twisting the key, jumping as a little surge came straight out. "Wow, guess... I guess they're ready for me then?" he asked, taking off his shoes leaving him just in boxers. Heather stripped off herself, James seeing the bridal lingerie she'd worn underneath as she hung the gown up. "We'll recreate this later when you're better, OK?" 

Getting a nod from him as he handed over the keys for her wrist and ankle cuffs. Going on to say the two now emptied suitcases parked in the corner had contained a completely new wardrobe of clothes for her. Taking away the oldest of Jen's stuff that had finally worn thin. "Jem'll be pleased too, I hope?" and James grinned tiredly.

Quickly donning the wonderful silky nightdress June had brought as a 'wedding' gift then came closer allowing James to zip her up. One of a pair and she was sure Jem would claim the other. She turned to look and saw his eyes, with just the faintest of glints there rather than the dullness even from a few moments ago as they had another smooch.

He clambered into bed then Heather blew out all bar one of the candles before joining him under the duvet as she sorted out her dress. Sighing as he rolled over and his arms slid round her body. "I'm glad to be here sweetheart, and yes I'm staying the whole week," he murmured and she nodded before their lips met again. This was the first time in six years James was here more than just overnight... and now if it somehow didn't work out for him...

It'd be the start of his new life as her fellow Guardian.

The End.


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