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

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rory and Ceridwen Series: Clearing the Air

Rory and Ceridwen at last settled back, just smiling and smiling,
looking at each other and bursting into happy laughter.

Finally Rory grew a little more serious. He knew that he could not
avoid the topic of his fabled love for the Queen much longer. "Ceri,
I said I had been chaste for over eight years. Ye must know why. I
want no secrets or silences between us, save our own. Do ye not have
any misgivin's about .. me past?"

She replied seriously, "I did hear you say that about being chaste...
eight years is such a long time for a man! Though of course I know
the reason that almost anyone that's heard of you would give for it.
It was a legend among us, Rory, even though you are a living man.
They said you loved the Queen." She smiled oddly. "I've heard Shannon
sing the 'Ballad of Rory McGuinness' a hundred times, I'm sure. In
the last line...well you know it better than cried
out, 'Josephine'."

She furrowed her brow. "To tell you the truth, it bothers me more now
to think of you in such peril. I hope that if it is not too painful,
you will tell me someday about that terrible time..."

Coming back to his question, she went on, "But how could I compete
with such a legendary love? How could I ever compete with her beauty
and brilliance?. Do you love her still, Rory? " She looked as if she
regretted asking this last question. She wasn't sure that she wanted
to hear the answer.

His face had grown rueful but at the same time humorous. "So ye think
ye are not as beautiful as she? That is not my opinion." He looked at
his hands which were in his lap. "How do I explain?" and he looked
into her eyes as he went on. "Nay, I am not in love with the Queen. I
think now I never was. I was a strange child, full of ideals about
love... I suppose it was losin' me mother so young. I ne'er got over
her death. And as I grew to manhood I formed a notion that the only
real love was pure love, of the soul only...." His eyes took on some
distance for a moment.

He bit his lower lip. "'Tis been the change in me of late.. the
realization that I put that lady up as a graven image to worship." He
looked up into the tree branches as if for help explaining. "That she
was wed and to the King mayhap made it safe to believe I loved her.
But 'twas an illusion, like one of me romantic tales."

"I have never loved, never.." he said with adamantine
certainty. "Never until I loved ye, Ceridwen. Ye are me first, last
and only love. I am reborn with ye."

Ceridwen had frowned with concentration as she listened. She tried to
imagine everything that he had left out from the phrases that found
their way to her ears: a strange child, full of ideals about love, he
never got over his mother's death. Josephine, a graven image to
worship; an illusion like one of his romantic tales...

It was less from his words than it was from his voice as he
pronounced them, from his earnestness to convince her that he loved
her, that the truth, or something like it, came to her. There was a
connection between his grief for his mother and his impossible love
for Josephine. Ceridwen began to look at him with new eyes. He had
dared to search his heart for understanding in order to find his way
to loving her. His heart was fragile and yet he nevertheless felt
safe in entrusting it to her. She would not allow that trust to be

By the time that he had finished his explanation and was looking at
her for her response, she was already smiling with happiness, as
something that had been troubling her ever since Beltane, and a great
mystery, was finally explained to her. "I do think I begin to
understand you, Rory McGuinness." And then she added very
gently, "You must tell me more about your mother, when the moment
seems right to you."

Rory had a catch in his throat when he answered, "Aye.. aye, I will,
macushla." He smiled lopsidedly and caressed her cheek.

"Now I know that indeed you must love me, if you think me as
beautiful as Queen Josephine!" she said lightly, putting her fingers
on his lips to shush his protest. "You know," she said a moment
later, "I rather like it that it's been eight years since you..."
Instead of finishing her sentence, she kissed him again.

He laughed as she kissed him. He broke free and said, "Och. so it's
an inexperienced lover ye want? Are ye after teachin' me then? Go
ahead and let us see what ye can teach me." He started to reach for
her again to tickle her but he stopped a moment. "Och," he
interrupted himself, "by the way. That whole hangin' thing that Shan
wrote in the song. It ne'er happened.. he thought it had, but I ne'er
had a noose around me neck."

"I'm very glad to hear that, Rory. I cannot bear to think of you with
a noose around your neck." She shuddered at the thought. "You must
tell me the real story sometime. I'm sure that it will frighten me
badly enough even without that part."

He looked at her with a little smile. "I might be after addin' that I
ne'er cried out 'Josephine!'" he added in a fair but humorous
imitation of Shannon's melodramatic touch. "Saints, I do hate that
song. He tickled her. "Now back to school, lass, I mean teacher."

She laughed and tried to stop his hands from tickling her. "Nay, I
didn't say I wanted an inexperienced lover! But one with eight years
of saved passion and no lovers in all that time for me to be jealous
of...that I like the idea of! I'm thinking you don't need a teacher,"
she added, smiling.

Next: Together

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About the author

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