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

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rory and Ceridwen Series: The Day After the Wedding

eri woke in early daylight to find Rory lying next to her gazing at her and
smiling almost foolishly. He looked so happy.. she did not know if she had
ever seen a happier face. "Good morning, wife," he said smiling with lips
turned up at the edges. He leaned and kissed her. This time the lovemaking
was slow and sweet.

Hearing cat meows Ceri sat up suddenly. "Oh dear, I left them outside all
night!" She reached for her shift. Rory watched her get up and dress,
enjoying every move. "Rory, dearest one, I will put some wood on the fire,
and then we can break our fast in the dooryard. Come down when you want."

As she went down the steep rungllike steps he admired her agillity. He sat
up and stretched and yawned. He heard the door open and within moments found
two cats climbing up to the loft to see him. He greeted them with smiles and
little cries of delight.

He finally stood and wrapped his kilt about his waist and clasped it tight
to his hips, then pulled his shirt over his head.

When he came down the steps, Ceri had already gotten the fire in the kitchen
hearth going. She had a bucket in her hand. He went over to her and put his
arms around her and kissed her. He took the bucket. "Sure and I had better
start earnin' me keep, since I live here with ye now." They smiled warmly
and happily. They went outside together, arm in arm, then he asked, "Where
can I get water?" She pointed around the side of the the cottage. He took in
a lungful of sweet country air, gave her a quick kiss, and then headed out
and around the cottage, calling after him, "I'll take a quick wash too, if
ye dinnae mind."

Ceri went in to gather a pitcher of ale, some cheeses and some flatbread for
their morning meal. She brought it and cups out to the table in her
dooryard. She once or twice thought she heard Rory yelp as if from cold
water on his skin and she smiled. She was thinking, "How could I have known
just two days ago how perfect this morning wouldbe?"

"Two cups, Ceridwen?" a familiar voice said from her gate. "How did you know
I was just coming to see why your hearth fire was going?"

Ceri looked up to see Sighard standing looking up to the smoke coming from
the chimney. She glanced quickly in the direction Rory had gone. She turned
to see Sighard's smile starting to fade a little. "Oh Sighard, good morning,
come sit down. I have to tell you something." She realized she had come
outside in her shift only. She certainly had not expected visitors and she
knew Rory would be even less so.

Just at that moment they both heard Rory's voice raised in song and growing
closer. The man himself, rubbing wet hair with his shirt, came around the
corner with the bucket in the other hand. He did not see Sighard as the
shirt covered his eyes at that point. Ceri and Sighard both looked at the
half naked man. Then they looked back at each other.

"Rory," Ceri called. "I want you to meet someone."

Rory's shirt came from where he was rubbing his hair with it to clutch to
the middle of his chest. His eyes were wide and comical. His face was
reddening. He dropped the bucket which tipped and spilled on the ground. he
got his head stuck in the arm for a moment when he pulled his wet shirt over
his head. Then he finally got it on properly and stood staring but clothed
at last.

Ceri was smiling to herself but also had more than a little color in her
cheeks. Sighard, this is my husband, Rory McGuinness. Rory, this is my.. our
neighbor, Sighard."

Sighard raised one eyebrow, "Husbamd is it?"

Rory went to stand by Ceridwen and put one arm around her shoulders. "Aye,
that I am." He flashed his famous grin.

Sighard stood and looked at him a moment, then relaxed and came forward to
clasp his hand. "Well met, neighbor!" He looked at Ceri. "So you did have a
minstrel tucked away in Lawrencium." His smile was pleasant, humorous.

"Aye, as it turns out. Come sit and have some food with us." She smiled up
at Rory and turned to get another cup.

Rory and Sighard sat down at the outdoor table. Rory looked a little
sheepish. "I seem to have dumped all the water I was after bringin'."

Sighard laughed, "An Irishman.. I might have known. She always was drawn to
you fellows." His smile was friendly. "And as I guessed from your singing, a

Rory relaxed. "Aye... well, nay. It seems a farmer I am now.. not that I
know much about it. Live on a farm in Ulster I did... as a child."

Sighard was interested. "Aye? But you became a minstrel? Why?" He asked out
of genuinel curiosity.

Rory shrugged. "Och, I ran away from home at fifteen with me friend

Sighard sat up. "Shannon O'Neill? Ah, now I recall you. The quiet fellow who
seemed ere to be with O'Neill. Very sad thing, that was, his passing."

He lifted his cup in a salute to Rory's friend.

Rory was grateful for the commen and the gesture. But then Sighard said,
"Wait, Rory McGuinness? Aye, the one from the ballad... but I thought you
had pledged yourself to the...."

Rory waved a "no", and Sighard thought he understood. He glanced up at the
cottage. Rory went on. "'Twas with Shannon and our master musician I
traveled for some years."

"You and Shannon became minstrels together..." Sighard wanted the whole

Rory shook his head. "Nay, I was a soldier for a time, then a minstrel. It
seems that phase is over now. I shall not miss it."

At the word "soldier" Sighard's face had been transformed. From simply
friendly it had shifted to respect. "A soldier? Truly? Did you see battle?"

Rory nodded, "Aye, and was wounded badly so was mustered out. It also was in

"Friend, some of the crofters and townmen have been talking about forming
some sort of home guard.. but none of us have e'er fought with good
weapons.. would you teach us? Help us form a band? What is your weapon, the
sword?" Sighard's face was animated now.

Ceri had come back as Rory was saying he had been a soldier. She had donned
her skirt and bodice and put her hair back up. She sat and poured ale for
herself and nibbled some flatbread.

Rory was pleased to have made an in with this fellow so quickly. "Sword,
aye, but mostly gallowglass... long handled axe," he explained seeing the
farmer's uncertain expression. Sighard nodded. Rory went on, "I should be
glad to be after helpin' with trainin'.. I have been honin' me skills of
late just to be better able to protect those I care about." He looked at
Ceri, who was sitting next to him. He put his arm around her waist.

"That should make the boys pleased indeed, methinks," Sighard said. His look
told both husband and wife that he was already inside his own mind making

Ceri and Rory exchanged happy looks. Rory gave her a "That was easier than I
thought" look.

Sighard drained his cup. "Rory, man, Ceri's roof.. I mean, your roof needs
some patching there in the thatch.. see?" He pointed out where some of the
thatch was thinning and coming loose. "Could you use some help? Ewan and my
sons and I can do that with you." He stood up from the table.

Rory smiled broadly, "Aye, I thank ye, neighbor. I need some instruction in
the art as well."

Sighard smiled his appreciation at the man's modesty. "Methinks you were
never a true minstrel in your heart, Rory. I think we shall become fast
friends." He looked at Ceridwen. "Ceri, I think you have done well. And now
I must to Healing as I have some courting to do." He touched his foregead
and thanked Ceri for the ale. Then he turned and left, whistling.

Ceri and Rory turned to look at each other. He put his arm around her
shoulders and kissed her lightly on her lips. She put her forehead against
his and they sat together, full of contentment.

It was quickly obvious to Ceri that Rory would embrace farm life. For much
of the rest of their first full day together at Brewood, when they were not
taking a break to make love, Rory wanted to settle into a routine. He begged
to be allowed to start helping care for her horse, Gringolets. He mentioned
wanting to have ahorse of his own so their trips to and from Lawrencium
would be easier on Gringolets. He followed her about as she did her regular
chores, watching with interest, asking questions, pitching in, and
suggesting tasks that could be his responsibillity.

Life was sweet indeed for them both.

Next:  Sif's Pride

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .