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More Joy #1: the Stonewoods - Laura Wise

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January 10th, 2013


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05:51 pm - More Joy #1: the Stonewoods
Right then, today is OFFICIALLY More Joy Day, or as we say 'round these parts, the beginning of a celebration whose length is yet to be determined.

I am, I fear, not feeling particularly joyful, which explains the undercurrents here -- but I hope the end of the short piece will serve for More Joy.

Here, then, Morgan and Alice Stonewood (you can read more about them here), and how they cope with a bad night.


The front door shuts almost soundlessly, but Alice hears. “Morgan!” she calls from her place by the fire. He's been gone for hours – but she's careful to keep her anxiety out of her voice.

It almost bursts out of her, however, when she sees him. His overcoat hangs damp with wintry weather, his shoulders slumped, and his eyes, oh, his eyes are so weary, so grieving.

“No,” he says, terse, answering the question she didn't ask. He turns and heads up the stairs.

She puts aside her reading. An hour ago, when January dark fell hard and the wind cried from the north, she had found the book of poetry Morgan had given her after their first night together. The words are written on pages made of bark, held together by magic, and the Guild-maker who bound the book used ink which changes color every season. Tonight the words, beautiful as they are, are brown. Tonight the pages are edged thick, ugly crimson.

Winter was always a season for blood beyond the hedges. And she now knows the child Morgan was searching for tonight has been lost to blood too.

She takes two glasses of luminous, light, oak-infused wine with her when she goes upstairs. He needs to recruit his strength and spirit, and the drink will help.

She finds him in the bath. The water's off, but steam rises from its surface. He's just sliding underneath when she walks in.

Oh Morgan, oh Morgan, she thinks, and waits for him to emerge. He does, a few heartbeats later than she would like. He combs back his wet hair with his fingers, he rests himself against the back of the tub, he fixes his eyes on the silver taps. He doesn't speak.

She kneels on the soft rug beside the tub and hands him his glass. A sideways not-quite-smile from him at that, a sigh.

She feels his regret and his hurt written on her skin, just under her sweater, just over her heart.

But she whispers awake the candles they keep around the tub, so that soft wavery light falls over them. She gets up and turns off the overhead lights to let the candleflames do their best. Then she returns to him, kneels, covers the hand he's rested on the lip of the tub.

“Would my sword help?” she says quietly, knowing the answer.

He knows she knows. His hand escapes her grasp and touches her mouth. “My queen, my queen,” he says. “This loss is outside your realm.”

“And, darling Guild-man, heart of my heart, it is outside of yours.” She kisses his fingers before they drop. She knows how he had reached out to the poor wounded child, how he had held on as long as the world allowed him to. But sometimes the good slips out of one's hold, no matter how hard one tries. She puts aside the flash of memory of her mother bloodied and gone, sinking under ice, and says, “Morgan, I command you to believe me.”

He turns his head to look at her, and all of his many years darken his eyes. But he does smile, a true Guild-man gleam. “Not even you can command that, my lady.”

“It's both my duty and my pleasure to instruct you better,” she says.

He can't quite laugh, although he tries. But she sees those wounded eyes brighten just a shade when she rises and discards her clothing. She slips into the tub with him – careful not to spill her or his wine – and settles back against him.

He kisses her shoulder, and then pours in a dollop of the essential oils they blessed last summer. The water still steams, but it brings the scent of a better season. The candlelight twists around them like a protective cloak.

“Shall I recite a poem for you, my heart?” she whispers. “'The Thorn and The Bloom,' perhaps?”

“No. This will be enough,” he says, and they rest together, and they think of losses and a new season, and it will be enough for tonight.


More Joy, hopefully actually joyous, soon.

(18 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:mobile_alh
Date:January 11th, 2013 01:22 am (UTC)
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Oh, so sad and so sweet...
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From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
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I didn't quite manage joy! But I'm glad for your reading and commenting, ALH. :)
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From:stateless82
Date:January 11th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
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So good.
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From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
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Thank you, S, thank you and hugs!
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From:janus_74
Date:January 11th, 2013 02:30 am (UTC)
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Beautiful, as always :)
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From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:53 am (UTC)
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Thank you, T! Thanks twice, and a good Friday.
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From:anne_d
Date:January 11th, 2013 04:40 am (UTC)
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Oh, lovely. Sad and lovely.
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From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:55 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry for the note of sadness which I couldn't help, but I'm glad you liked your snippet anyway! Thank you for the prompt and the comment, A, and hugs and more joy to you.
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From:anne_d
Date:January 11th, 2013 01:12 pm (UTC)
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No, that was the good kind of sadness, healing sadness.

Hugs and a good weekend to you, L.
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From:mamculuna
Date:January 11th, 2013 06:00 am (UTC)
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So bittersweet and sad, but lovely too. I can get enough Stonewoods.
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From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:57 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much for reading and for liking the Stonewoods! I appreciate you. :) Happy Friday.
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From:mamculuna
Date:January 11th, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC)
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Of course you know I meant to say "canNOT get enough of the Stonewoods"!
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From:kathyh
Date:January 11th, 2013 10:19 am (UTC)
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Really lovely.
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From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:59 am (UTC)
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Thank you, K, thank you twice! May your day be a good one.
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From:heron_pose
Date:January 11th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
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Yes, life always is everything, isn't it? the thorn and the bloom; if there's a kind of quiet, approaching joy, then this is it.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 11th, 2013 05:02 pm (UTC)
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Your comment gives me More Joy, H_P.

[hugs a million]
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From:stevie_carroll
Date:January 13th, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
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I love your Stonewoods even in their sad times.
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From:laurawise
Date:January 13th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, Stevie, thank you very much.

More Joy to you!

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