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Fic, finally!

Fandom: Oz
Pairing: Beecher/Keller
Title: A Fullness of Heart and a Passionate Grief
Author: lisacali
Notes: This story originally started out as a much, much shorter and much bleaker fic for the hardtime100 Flashfiction Challenge #34: Anywhere But Oz. Then fanfromflorida reminded us that rileyc’s birthday was coming up, so that inspired me to flesh this story out, add a little romance, lighten it up some. (It’s still pretty damn angsty, so you can only imagine what it was!)


This story takes place in England, sometime in the latter half of the 16 century. I love this period of time, and was completely influenced to even start this story by my recent visit to England, and most notably visits to the Tower of London and Warwick Castle. The language I use is a mix of what I have read of that time and my own romanticized notions. Any events, or names of characters that do not come from canon Oz are fictional, and not meant to be historically accurate. Except Queen Elizabeth I. Duh.

I hate thinking of titles, hate it, and I suck. So I decided to flip through a book I’ve just finished reading, ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine,’ and the title phrase jumped out at me. It was taken from a letter Eleanor wrote to Pope Celestine in 1193.

This has not been beta’d, but if anyone is interested in looking over the following parts of the story, please let me know. Thanks!

Edited to add: Happy Birthday, Rebecca! doh!



A Fullness of Heart and a Passionate Grief
******************************************
At the apartment door, the guard who had accompanied Tobias instructed him that his time with the prisoner would be limited. Nodding his understanding, he reached for the door handle, but paused as he noticed his hand shaking. Conscious of the guard’s eyes on him he took no more time to quell his nerves, but quickly wiped his palm down the front of his cloak and entered the room; waiting to be noticed, he looked around. It was a smallish room but well appointed, with a table and chairs, a desk, and comfortable, clean bedding on the wood-framed bed. There were two windows, which would help cool the room in the summer heat, and a fireplace, as well as rugs and tapestries for warmth in the winter.

The prisoner was at the desk, intent on the paper he was writing. He was dressed simply in a white linen shirt and dark pants. Tobias undid the tie on his cloak and let it fall, revealing similar clothes of leisure beneath. “Leave it on the table, please,” Christopher waved without looking up.

“What I have to offer cannot be put down and left, I’m afraid,” Tobias answered.

Christopher looked up, and was on his feet in an instant. A bright smile replaced the initial shock. “My eyes have burned for the sight of you,” he said after several seconds of gazing upon the other man. They then came together, holding each other tightly, trying to put past them the many months apart.

“And the feel of you in my arms is food for a starving man,” Tobias answered, relieved beyond measure that the other was in such a healthy state of mind and body.

Christopher pulled back, holding Tobias by the shoulders. His eyes raked up and down with such intent that Tobias was forced to pull away.

“Not even a kiss?” Christopher asked.

“I must gain control of my senses, lest I lose control of all at the touch of your lips.”

Christopher advanced on Tobias. “I shall gain control for us both,” he said, pulling Tobias back into his arms and crushing his mouth upon him. Tobias returned the kiss in full, clutching at his lover in a great release of passion.

A knock at the door interrupted, and Tobias went to the table, dropping into a chair, while Christopher opened the door. A serving maid entered with a tray of bread, butter, and mead, leaving it on the table.

“Will you join me?” Tobias asked when she was gone, taking a long draught of the ale. “I did not stop to eat in my hurry to see you again.”

“Many words have more than one meaning,” Christopher said, a leer upon his lips, “your word ‘join’ could be taken as one.”

Tobias tried to ignore the flicker of flame ignited in his belly. “My time is short and there are things we need to talk about.”

“Why talk when there are better ways to pass the fleeting minutes? Or will you always keep me at a distance, as you did when we were at court?”

Tobias leapt to his feet. “A distance!” He shook his head in disbelief. “We were together at every moment!”

“As friends, as merry-makers, yes. But I craved more of you.”

Tobias sighed. “I gave what I could. I did not know what to make of your actions, once you revealed your intentions. You pursued me so relentlessly…”

Chris smiled. “I believe you enjoyed the chase.”

“You did gain your reward, did you not?”

Christopher rubbed his fingers across his lips. “Your kiss was the sweetest gift I have ever received.”

Tobias looked upon Christopher, his eyes heavy with love and sorrow. “And now I fear your touch, knowing it may be the last.”

Christopher reached out his hand, moving it over Tobias’ face, not quite touching him. “You would rather have naught to remember me by?”

Tobias grabbed Christopher’s hand, pressing it to his breast. “My heart would be broken by the loss of you – need I have that memory to repeatedly pierce the jagged pieces?”

Christopher slid his hand up and gently squeezed the other’s shoulder. “Could that memory not salve the wound?”

“I think not.”

“Then you and I are different. I would gladly die with the taste of you on my lips.”

“Fool,” Tobias admonished, but his eyes were warm.

“Love makes fools of us all,” was the reply.

“Some more than others,” Tobias chided. He cupped Christopher’s face between his hands and looked deeply into blue orbs. “The Queen wants a confession.” He was serious now, his words a plea. “She will not leave you in this relative luxury. She will grow impatient and move you elsewhere. There are many room of confinement here at the Tower, you know. I would not visit you in a dungeon, or worse, not be able to see you at all.”

Christopher moved away, pacing the room, his arms wrapped around himself. When he stopped and turned toward Tobias, his look was tortured. “You wish me to confess to a crime I am innocent of, and when I do? Will the Queen be satisfied and let me go? Or will my head join that of other innocents?”

“She will not behead you, this you know. I think perhaps, if appeased by a confession, she would consider exile as a proper punishment.”

“Exile.” Christopher fixed his gaze upon Tobias until the other was forced to look away. “I proposed that idea once, if you recall.”

“Yes,” Tobias answered, moving to the window, unable to appreciate the beauty of the cool spring day. “You proposed that you and I leave all we know – betray family, Queen and country – to sail off to wild, unknown lands.”

“The Queen has already turned her back to me. As for family, we would have each other, is that not enough? Or would you miss too much your shrewish, barren wife?”

Tobias, turned, his eyes pained. “Do not torture me with reminders of what may have been. If I had agreed to your plan, we would be gone, and you would not be in this place!”

“And if I confess, and she agrees upon exile, would you go with me?”

Tobias cast his eyes downward. “I do not know.”

Christopher laughed darkly, and threw his hands into the air. “Fair enough. And you would not care that I traded honor for life?”

Toby went to Christopher, grabbing his arms. “All would know you were innocent, such things happen all the time. The Queen must be appeased, in whatever way possible.”

“You are a man of letters and the law, Tobias, familiar with the ways of government. But I am not. I have only what is in here,” he struck his fist upon his chest, “to guide me. It may seem desirable to you for me to besmirch my name and lie in order to save my head.” He slammed his fist on the desk. “It is not that way for me!”

“God’s teeth, this is not fair!” Tobias grabbed his half-full mug of ale and flung it against the wall. He fell onto the edge of the bed, holding his head in hands. “It has been months since our friendship turned, since you confessed your true feelings and I risked my immortal soul to admit I felt the same. And what have we to show?”

Christopher came to him, knelt before him, taking his hands into his own, but Tobias would not raise his head. “Since I left court,” the distraught man continued, “all I have thought of is the kiss we shared. One kiss has sustained and driven me. But how will I go on thinking there may be no more? How will I survive with the pain of my decision not to sail off with you?” He slid from the bed to his knees; bowing his head, he wrapped his arms about his lover’s waist.

Christopher rubbed his hands over the prostate body. “Tobias, do not condemn yourself. My request to you came quickly and impulsively on the heels of our revelations to each other - you did not know that this would happen.” He pulled Tobias up, bringing them face to face. “The Queen’s false accusation has nothing to do with you.”

They came to their feet. Christopher wrapped his hand around Tobias’ neck, playing his fingers through the soft curls there. “Please, promise me, Toby,” he pleaded, using the intimate nickname in his urgency, “you will not bear this burden of guilt.”

“That I cannot promise, Christy,” Tobias answered, using his own familiar name for the other man in return. “But I will try – for you.”

Their lips met softly in a kiss, this one long and slow and gentle, hands on each other’s face, in each other’s hair, committing to memory that which would soon be deprived of them, aware that time was not their friend.

Christopher’s hands slid down Tobias’ backside, around to rub his belly and thighs. “You are too dressed,” he whispered against the man’s neck.

Tobias pulled away, smiling as he caught his breath. “And you are almost too persuasive,” he replied.

“I heard what you said earlier,” Christopher assured, “I would not force the issue. Besides,” he continued as they sat facing each other at the small table, “such a moment will be too precious as to risk interruption.” He took up Tobias’ hand, and the depth of sincerity burning in his eyes caused a shiver through the other’s body; he grasped hard of Christopher’s fingers. “When the moment arrives, and have no doubt it will, I would make it the most amazing affair of your lifetime.”

Christopher smiled wickedly, and Tobias realized the other man knew the effect he was having on him, both in body and spirit. “If the Queen’s accusation of you had been witchcraft,” Tobias declared, “I do not believe I would have much room to doubt her. You have certainly bewitched me, Sir Christopher.”

Christopher pushed back from the table, stretching his legs full in front of him. “Are you saying that I have put a spell on you to cause your feelings, and it is not simply your lustful desire to sample this feast before you?” He held his arms out to his side, his body displayed fully before the other. “You yourself said earlier that I was food for a starving man, did you not?”

Tobias shook his head. “Or perhaps it is your chastity and humble manner that draw me to you?”

At this light-hearted turn, the men began a conversation of matters outside the confining room in which they sat. They reminisced on their last time together, at Elizabeth’s court, celebrating a year of bountiful harvest and prosperity with dances and hunting. Tobias spoke of his manor, and the villages under his care, while Christopher regaled Tobias with tales of his exploits in the tournaments of which he had participated.

“Did you know,” Christopher asked as he split the last piece of bread between them, “that I was on my way to see you at the time of my arrest? When you did not make Court for the Christmas celebration, I despaired of seeing you again.”

“I had hoped to return for Christmas, but when the Court moved to Winchester, and I was not personally summoned, my wife declared it too far south for us to travel. It was closer for us to spend the season with her parents at Oxford.”

“And did you enjoy your time amongst books and scholars?”

“I did find much to discuss with the teachers there,” Tobias admitted. “Genevieve and her parents could not look down upon my leaving the house for so noble a reason as to further educate myself, though I am sure they were not completely fooled as to my true reasons for wanting to escape.” He sighed heavily. “The air surrounding my marriage grows colder every year.”

“I wish you could be rid of her,” Christopher declared.

“I seem to recall that you thought Genevieve a good match for me at the time.”

“You wanted marriage, Tobias,” Christopher gently reminded, “and she brought much to the table.”

“Lands and money are of little comfort when the soul and body are lonely.” Tobias sat staring at table, trying not to think of the sad state of his marriage. “It was weeks after our return home that I learned of your arrest,” he said suddenly, picking up the thread of conversation started moments earlier. “And months still until I was granted permission to visit.”

His troubled gaze caressed Christopher’s face as he held his hand. “And I was informed that it will be some time before I am allowed back.” He rubbed a hand across his face. “I cannot stay to find out when that may be. I must return home for the spring planting. Many of my vassals were lost over the winter when illness spread through the villages. I must be there.” Remorse and regret were heavy in his voice.

Christopher smiled fondly at the troubled man. “You are a good overlord, Toby. Do not feel guilt over doing what you must. And as you said, we have no way of knowing when you may return.” His smile turned cold. “Elizabeth will have her way in this, thinking that to deny me she will break me.”

He got to his feet and went to the desk; looking through the small pile of papers there he pulled two free, folded them and tied them with string. “Here,” he said, holding them out to Tobias, who quickly got to his feet and took them. “This is for my father.” Christopher swallowed hard, his eyes misting over. “I have sent word for him to remain in Dover, he is ill and should not travel. If you can take the time to stop, let him know I am well…I know it will set you back some time…if it is not possible… “ Christopher trailed off, his expression more distraught than ever during their meeting.

“Shhh, hush, of course I can see him.” Tobias put his fingers to Christopher’s mouth and cradled his head in his other hand. “It would please me greatly to see your father again.” He smiled, a glint in his eye. “And hear the stories of your wicked childhood. I hope he still has that magnificent wine collection?”

“He does,” Christopher answered, wiping the back of his hand across his eyes, “and he will gladly share all with an eager listener for his stories.” He kissed Tobias soundly on the cheek. “Just do not believe all he has to say - I was not so wicked.”

Tobias wrapped his arms around the other and held him tightly, willing himself to stay strong for Christopher. They remained that way until the inevitable knock on the door.

“Enter,” Christopher called, taking a step back.

A young man, dark-haired and blue-eyed, came into the room. He bowed toward Tobias. “Lord Beecher, Sir Edmund has requested I tell you your time is at an end.”

“Thank you, Ronald. It is good to see you again.” He meant the words as he said them, but could not help the stilted tone.

“Go now, Ronald,” Christopher instructed. “Make sure Lord Beecher’s horse is fully watered, then bring it to the front gate. He will be down presently.”

After the boy had left, Toby said, more stiffly than he meant. “I am glad they let him stay to serve you.”

“Only because you offered to pay for his keep while he is here.” Christopher’s tone was bitter.

“It is an affront that Elizabeth would keep your monies from you.”

Christopher shrugged off his rancor. “I have enough to pay the gaoler and the guards for time about the grounds. But not enough to pay for Ronald’s food or to give him wages.”

“Wages I hope he is earning.”

Christopher moved up behind Tobias, wrapping his arms around him. ‘Is that what has you in this sudden dark mood? The thought of what the boy is doing to earn his keep?”

“I know what he does, you have talked of him before.” Tobias leaned, almost unwillingly, against the man behind him. “And when he came to tell me of your arrest I could tell by his distraught nature how much he cares for you. Whatever is needed of him to keep you content, I will not go against.”

“You are a good man, Toby. I do not think I would pay for another to warm your bed.”

Tobias shook his head, wishing no more of this conversation. “We are men of different constitutions, Christy. I am done with this subject.”

Christopher turned Tobias brusquely, bringing them to face each other. His eyes were anguished and glistening. One hand went to the back of Tobias’ head, holding tight soft, golden curls. The other cupped the man’s face, while Christopher stared deeply into Tobias’ wondering eyes.

“What is it, Christy?”

Christopher shook his head, slow and deliberate. “God, sweet God, I do not want you to leave me. I love you, Tobias, my Toby. I love you.”

Tobias took in a deep, shuddering breath. The first time, the only other time, Christopher had said these words it had scared his very soul. Thoughts of excommunication and the tortures of Hell had chased round in his mind, and though he had let Christopher kiss him, and kissed him willingly and passionately in return, he had not answered.

This time the words did not scare him; in fact, they did not seem to be enough to convey the depth of his feelings. “I love you, too, Christy, I love you beyond what I ever conceived of the words meaning.” He took hold of the front of Christopher’s shirt, pulling him closer, holding him tight. He kissed the tear that had run from one brilliant blue eye before burying his head in the strong neck. “I will get you out of this, I swear. I will petition and disturb the Queen until she releases you if only to rid herself of me.”

Christopher pulled back, smiling at Tobias through his tears. “Do not get yourself into trouble on my account, my Lord. You must be free to visit me again.” He took a deep breath, and his next words quivered. “Do not forget me.”

Tobias lovingly touched the tear-streaked face, as his own eyes watered. “I would never. Do you understand? I will write to you, I will visit when I can. I will send money, clothing, paper and ink, whatever you need. I have brought a horse for Ronald - he is to use it to deliver letters between us. I will not leave our communication to chance.”

“You have always been a good friend, Tobias.” A small grin appeared at the corner of Christopher’s mouth, and a glint of the devil sparked in his eye. He leaned in to whisper, “I cannot wait to see how good you are as lover.”

Tobias felt a blush flow over his face. “Your words are constantly catching me off my guard, brave knight.”

A knock on the door set both men to clasp each other’s hands; they did not bother to part as Chris called “Enter.”

Ronald began to step into the room, but recognizing the intimate circumstance, remained in the hall. “Your horse is ready m’lord. Sir Edmund will be here to remove you himself if you do not leave now.”

“Bastard,” Christopher muttered. He brought their joined hands to his lips and kissed each belonging to his love. “Be careful, and God speed your journey. I pray we are not forced to wait so long to see each other again.”

Tobias returned the kisses to Christopher’s hands. “Even if such a wait comes to pass, remember, you will always be first in my thoughts when I wake, and last when I fall into slumber, hopefully to dream of you.”

Tobias slowly retreated backwards, holding tight to Christopher’s hands until forced to let go. The two men stood looking at each other, arms outstretched, just out of reach of the other, until Ronald whispered urgently from his spot in the doorway. “Sir Edmund is coming. Please hurry!”

Tobias could not move, could not leave, until Christopher turned his back. “Go!” was his choked command.

Tobias left.


-tbc-

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Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
stargazer60
Apr. 27th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. Putting these characters in this setting is something I would have *never* come up with...and it's really working for me!

Wow. Can't wait to read more....
lisacali
Apr. 27th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. Putting these characters in this setting is something I would have *never* come up with...and it's really working for me!

Oh, thank you! That makes me feel good! I've thought about putting the boys in this type setting for years, even have another story I fiddle with every now and then. But it just seemed like everything came together right now for me to actually get something written!

Wow. Can't wait to read more....

I have a large chunk of the next part done, and I'm having *fun* writing this, so hopefully it won't take too long to finish. Thanks so much for your fb!
alinewrites
Apr. 27th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Excellent! THe dialogues sound really true - both Chris/TOby and 16th century.
Great characterization.
Kudos for this!
lisacali
Apr. 27th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Excellent! THe dialogues sound really true - both Chris/TOby and 16th century.

Oh, good to hear! I had a lot of fun writing it, true or not. :)

Thanks so much, Aline!
luci_2
Apr. 27th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
The dialogues are so right, for them and for this time.
Can' t wait to know what happens next. I'm afraid for Sir Cristopher's life.
lisacali
Apr. 28th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for your comments luci. Hopefully you won't have to wait too long!
catheights
Apr. 27th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
I cannot wait to read more of this fic! This was fabulous. You managed to remain perfectly true to their characters while at the same time making them sound right for this time period. The combination works beautifully! Excellent writing. I look forward to the next part!
lisacali
Apr. 28th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Cat! I'm so pleased you like it - I wasn't sure what kind of response it would get, but I sure had fun writing it!
tesan
Apr. 27th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
This is great! I love the boys in this setting. I'm eagerly awaiting the next part!
lisacali
Apr. 28th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! Hope to get the next part up before too long!
trillingstar
Apr. 28th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
I am really enjoying this! Your dialogue is great, and you fit that dialogue to the characters & make it sound so good, and right. Ozsome. I'm looking forward to more. *bg*
lisacali
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
ozsaur
Apr. 28th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
I'm dying to know why Christopher was imprisoned. I can't wait to see what happens next! Fabulous idea for an AU and wonderfully done!
lisacali
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC)
Fabulous idea for an AU

It was your fabulous prompt that got me started! Thanks for the fb!
rileyc
Apr. 28th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, I love this. Thank you so much, Lisa. {{hugs}}

This is one of my favorite eras, too, so that makes it a double treat. Love how you've weaved it so that it does sound like them, and yet in a way that is so true to the period. Wonderful job, and like everyone else I can't wait to see where it goes from here. I'd be happy to help out on the beta end of things, too.

(Oh, and this probably slipped my mind, most things do anymore, but thank you for the postcard from Bath. I love it.)

lisacali
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
I am so glad you like this, you are more than welcome!! {{hugs back}}(and 'welcome for the post card!)

I might take you on the beta offer, maybe bounce some thoughts off you if nothing else. Now that this story is growing into something so much larger than originally intended, I have all kinds of ideas!
ahavia
May. 5th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
What a delight and so well presented!
Ahavia
lisacali
May. 6th, 2008 06:16 am (UTC)
Thanks, hon! I'm friending you back!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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