One of things that struck Laura in the turn that this story took is that her sense of who Joseohphine was had radically changed in the decades since it was written. "She absolutely would not have left her children!" she exclained in one of our few phone conversations over the past couple of years.
Our coming back together however briefly accomplished a great deal more than clarification of the royal couple's commitment and devotion to each other. One beautiful moment was when we decided that one thing we could do is give our beloved Rory some happiness. In the next segment of stories, the ones written in 2006 and 2007, Rory find a love of his own. As we both put it, Rory's new love, Cerridwen, was a joyous gift that we could give him all these many, many years later.
772 or 773 AD
Josephine was very popular in Lord Edwin's home. Lord Elerde was a wise and just governor-his people respected and love him and they easily transferred their love to Jo.
Jo kept herself busy and was careful to think of the present - not the past or future. She was content with small things - the beauty of a flower, the comfort before a fire, the lovely sounds of a lute coming with the sweet melody sung by the minstrel.
She spend much of her time water painting and writing simple music.
She wrote a lovely haunting piece for recorder and played it one evening for her love.
Elerde was deeply moved. It struck a lonely chord within him.
"You must have written that one for me. No one else could know me like that."
"Yes, my love, I though of you and me."
The fire flickered on the walls and on their faces. They dreamt strange and lovely dreams, and were silent.
Jo spoke suddenly, starting the alls to listen.
"Elerde, Elerde, I feel old suddenly. I am not. But it seems as if now I have lived fully and passionately a whole life and now it is time to lean back and dream. And dream myself into another world…"
Elerde studied her for a moment. And then looked away. "You hold many moods, my love. This too shall pass and much else will come." He gazed at her. "If you knew how young and beautiful and throbbing with life you look!"
He stood. "Jo, feel our life, feel your blood!" And she rose also, and close her eyes. She felt her blood, hard and flush and when he put his arms around her it beat harder and faster and she let her head fall back and he kissed her throat and shoulders and she felt life burning within her.
Late at night she listened to the world sleeping. A child awakened by a nightmare cried out and Jo thought of her children. When they cried out in the night, she neither could hear or heed them.
Elerde ran his hand gently over her damp cheek.
"You never sleep. Tell me. Tell me."
Jo moved closer to his comfort and protection.
"My children. Oh Lord, my poor dear children."
She wept on his broad chest and he soothed and comforted her. Even as one would comfort a lost child.
The next day, a resolute young Josephine set of with a proper retinue for England.
When Elerde was pressed to explain her departure, he said simply, "A little girl has grown up. She knows where she belongs, and where she will go."
Next: The homecoming
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com