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

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rory and Ceridwen Series: Morning Conversation, Part II

I am still looking for Rory's and the Queen's conservation that set the Rory and Ceridwen story up.

Two days later Rory McGuinness stood outside the chamber where he and the
Queen had had their conversation. He was stunned by what she had asked and
found it difficult to think. The Queen had begged him to release himself
from his pledge to love only her for the rest of his life and told him she
had already released him. But then she had said she loved him, had broken
down on what seemed like the verge of retracting her request, and begged him
to leave before she said something she would regret.

Not wanting to embarrass her if she came back out of the chamber, Rory
hurried away. Then realizing he needed to sort out what had just transpired,
he decided to go into the town away from people who inevitably would have
some connection to the odd situation. He longed for someone to talk to about
it. Shannon would have been his choice, for although you needed to make sure
he understood you were serious about talking, he would listen and try to
help. Who else was there? He would have chosen the Queen herself had it been
any other issue, for her ability to listen and suggest new ways of thinking
about things were among those qualities that tied him to her. Talk to
Lawrence? Hardly. A priest would just tell him to go and sin no more. The
innkeeper would tell him to go find a woman and bed her. Oddly… if Elerde
had been here.. but that was not a viable route either. There was no one,
absolutely no one he could talk to.

He walked through the high street trying to materialize Shannon with the
force of his will. Instead he caught sight of the master metalworker,
Cedric, and veered off into an alleyway to avoid him. The sight of the man
brought back memories of his niece’s kindness and he smiled and was grateful
for the memory, but simply was not up to company at the moment.

As Rory emerged from the alleyway he stopped and tried to decide where he
should go. It occurred to him that the copse by the monastery, where he had
found Shannon and where he had had his dream or vision or whatever it was
would be a calming place to be. He set his footsteps to the north road,
wound up through the fields to the rise where the copse stood, and walked up
into it, found the tree he had fallen asleep against, and sat with his back
against it once more. He gazed sightlessly out at the road where he and
Shannon had watched Heather and her children go out of Shannon's life

"Out of his life forever," Rory thought. "Is that what this is for me? Does
the Queen want me out of her life forever, or for me to banish her from
mine?" He thought a moment and shook his head. "Nay, 'tis not that.. she
said she did not wish me to leave. She told me she loved me, first as the
closest of friends but then.. was she saying she felt more?"

He scratched his head and then leaned his chin on knees pulled up tight
against his long, lean body. He smiled wryly. "What matter if she does love
me. There is no hope for that love. And there is no good to come out of it.
Her heart is with the King.. that is clear. For all that has happened, his
smiles and happiness prove that. I have seen his face when I come into a
chamber and she places her hand obviously on his arm. She has told him he is
her only love."

He reached down and picked up a small twig and examined it. "I have known
from the start that this love I bear for Josephine is a fancy. There is no
reality to it. Even were we as Tristram and Iseult, bound each to the other
with passionate love, we may not pursue it. She says she would, but I think
not. And 'tis no matter. It will never happen."

The longing for Shannon's companionship grew more acute. Tears sprang to
Rory's eyes. "Shannon, what can I do?" he cried aloud. But of course there
was no answer.

He looked up at a robin that was perched on a branch of the tree he was
leaning against and watched as it seemed to eye him. It had not flown when
he cried out. "I thank ye for stayin' with me, Master Robin," he said aloud.
It struck him then that part of his grief for Shannon was anger at feeling
abandoned by him. Was that it? Was it that he both felt he had failed his
friend and also that his friend had failed him? He wondered for a moment
what Ceridwen would say to that. He tried to imagine, but could not.

Unless.. unless she would ask him, "What would Shannon have said if he were
here with thee, Rory?" He thought about that. He would say that nothing had
changed between himself and the Queen. He would point out that even ere she
released him from his vow there had been no basis for making it. She had
been with the King then, and she was now and would e'er be. Even should the
King die, and that was far from what Rory would want, she could hardly be
with him, her first duty being to care for the children and support her son,
the new King.

Rory knew also that Shannon would understand that love misplaced can break
one's heart as much as any other. That was what had sent Shannon to commit
his final act of self destruction. Rory thought of all the times he had
tried to persuade Shannon out of his hopeless love for Heather, and in
reaction to the thought he screwed up his face with pain and regret. How
could he, with his supremely hopeless love for Josephine, have had the
effrontery to tell Shannon how to love or not love? As he knew well himself,
love was not something you chose but something that chose you. How could he
simply stop loving Josephine?

However, the fact was that even if Josephine loved him in a romantic way, it
did not matter save for the pain it would cause them both, and Lawrence in
the mix. That she loved the King was obvious, and if Rory's absence would
free her and her husband from pain, then perhaps he should do that. Go. But
something told him that was not the answer. A memory of a soft voice brushed
his ear, "Promise.. stay.." He did not know why, but he could not leave
Lawrencium. He had to wait, to see why, to see what would come to him as an
answer, to try, as Josephine had said, to stay open to where his heart would
take him.

It was a kind of simple faith and one that Rory was good at. It was like the
trust he had had for Shannon all these tumultuous years, in Shannon's basic
goodness and their love for each other. He could trust again, whom, what he
did not know. But he could trust that he would know, someday, somehow.

Next: Beltane

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About the author

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