Wednesday, February 19, 2020

By Moonlight


 By Moonlight
By C.K. Armistead 2019
The moon won’t use the door,
Only the window.  -Rumi , from
A Year With Rumi   Translation by Coleman Barks

The sun whose rays are all ablaze with everliving glory
Does not deny his majesty, He scorns to tell a story!
He won’t exclaim, “I blush for shame, so kindly be indulgent.”
But fierce and bold, in firey gold, He glories all effulgent.
I mean to rule the earth, as He the sky
We really know our worth, the sun and I.

Observe his flame, that placid dame, the moon’s celestial highness
There’s not a trace upon her face of diffidence or shyness
She borrows light that through the night
Mankind may all acclaim her!
And truth to tell, she lights up well,
So I, for one, don’t blame her.
Ah, pray make no mistake,
We are not shy.  We’re very wide awake,
The moon and I!
-W.S. Gilbert, from THE MIKADO

Moonlight was really the only light they had ever seen each other by, other than candle, torch, or distant electric light.  Never had they seen one another in the bright, golden sunlight. 
No, their rendezvous were lit most often by the soft, silvery light of the moon- Her “Celestial Highness” as Mr. Gilbert would have it. 
The kindly moonlight hid them from the harsh, judging eyes of the world.  Vincent had often felt the pull of “that placid dame”.  Since childhood, he found he often needed to see the moon.
Catherine also had great affection for the moon - the sun’s lover in many mythologies.  Most of her associations with the moon now involved Vincent.  He reminded her of the sun, though. He was golden, his hair, a glorious, gold-streaked mane, and his bronzed skin spoke of sunlight.  He, who had never walked in the light of the sun, seemed to her to glow just as brightly; leaving the image of his beloved face imprinted on her retinas after she closed her eyes.  Like the sun with the moon, he seemed always to be on the opposite side of life from her.
So, they met by moonlight; on her balcony, or to walk in the park together.  That “placid dame” seemed to smile on them and their love.

On this night, Vincent walked toward Catherine’s apartment under the light of a very large, full moon.  He had shared a book of the poet Rumi’s writings with Catherine, and was anxious to discuss it with her.  He was also just anxious to see her, to hold her in his arms again.  Still, he stopped at one point to admire the bright, full moon.  A “Super Moon”, some called it, because it seemed so very large and close to the earth. The shrubs near his path looked outlined in silver beneath its light. He wondered how Catherine would look tonight, bathed in such extravagant moonlight.  He resumed his journey, perhaps a little faster in anticipation of the sight of Catherine in the moonlight.

Catherine set out their blankets and cushions on the balcony, making their special place ready for Vincent’s visit.  She had candles ready, but the moon was so bright, she didn’t think they’d need them until later, maybe.  She had some tea, and a light snack, and had the book of Rumi’s verses that Vincent had lent her.  She had found one little bit of a verse that reminded her of Vincent, even though it was about the moon.
“The moon won’t use the door, only the window.” She thought it interesting that Vincent only ever used the French doors (mostly windows) on the few occasions that he came in to her apartment.  As she looked out over the park, every leaf on the trees seemed to be tipped in silver, the moon lending her subtle elegance to everything this night.  Vincent would no doubt look especially elegant and other-worldly tonight. 

Catherine stood at the railing looking out over the magically moonlit park, and then closed her eyes to turn her face up to the glow of that extravagant moon.  It was thus that Vincent first saw her this night – her lovely face glimmering with moonlight – reflected sunlight, really, and an expression of absolute contentment on her face.  It matched the calm certainty he felt in her heart. “Not a trace of diffidence or shyness”. Gilbert and Sullivan were very much with him tonight; perhaps because the older children were learning selections from “The Mikado”.  As he studied his lovely lady, another quote from “The Sun Whose Rays” came to him.  Yes, she “lights up well”, he thought, very well indeed.

Catherine’s smile widened, just before he spoke her name softly. The bond was stronger in her now, and made her aware of his loving perusal.
“Vincent!” she said, opening her eyes and reaching for his embrace.
They shared a kiss of greeting, something that had thankfully become more common between them since their engagement.
“You are so very lovely in the moonlight, Catherine,” Vincent declared, adding “Then again, you are always beautiful to me.”
“You are always beautiful to me as well, Vincent.  Thank you.” Catherine replied.
Only a little over a month to go, they both thought as they lingered in an embrace that renewed them both.
Vincent looked up and saw the preparations she had made.  “You have made quite a cozy spot for us tonight, Catherine.”
“Yes, I knew it would be cool.  Spring isn’t quite here yet, really. “
She had brought out one of her favorite comforters. She suspected that Vincent liked it, too.  It was an oversized duvet with a very soft plush cover.  It was heavier than most.  There had been some like it on the beds in a chalet she had stayed at once on a European ski holiday.  She made it a point to buy one and have it shipped home.  It made you feel safe and comfy, almost like a hug, and it was plenty big enough for the two of them to share.  Best of all, that cozy, soft cover was machine washable.  She had noticed that Vincent seemed to enjoy the soft, plush cover.  It smelled like him sometimes after they’d cuddled under it to read, and she loved to wrap herself in it when he couldn’t be there, because it made it almost seem like he was there holding her.
She thought all this as they were settling in with the cushions and comforters, and sure enough, Vincent reached for the soft, heavy comforter to wrap around them, lightly, (and surreptitiously) caressing the almost furry, fine softness of it. 

He did enjoy this blanket.  He suspected Catherine cuddled up in it to read when he couldn’t be with her.  It’s what he would do.  It smelled like BOTH of them, at least to his sensitive nose, and it was so silky soft and just heavy enough to make you feel embraced.

After they had enjoyed their snack, and were settled with the last of the tea, they turned to the book of Rumi’s writings. 
“Did you find any verses you wished to share, Catherine?” Vincent asked as Catherine picked up the slender volume and opened it to a marked place.  She settled close to his side, and he put his arm around her, drawing her still nearer as she settled herself.  He leaned closer, and appreciated the fragrance he had caught a hint of earlier.  Roses, vanilla, and Catherine:  an intoxicating blend.
Catherine though he was noticing her new scent.  She smiled to herself.  She liked this new fragrance.  She had been certain Vincent would enjoy it.  “I found one poem that reminded me somewhat of your visits here,” she said, and began to read aloud at the place she had marked. 
“There is some kiss we want
With our whole lives,
The touch of spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl
To break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
It needs some wild darling.
At night, I open the window
And ask the moon to come
And press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door
And open the love-window.
The moon won’t use the door,
Only the window. “ 
(Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks)

Vincent couldn’t help a small smile.  “Am I like the moon, Catherine? Only coming in through a door that is really a window?”
She returned his smile.  “Well, yes, and you are certainly Love to me.”
“Our bond does speak of our love, with no need for conventional language,” he observed, so yes, I can see how that verse could apply to our relationship in more ways than one.”
“I thought of that immediately, Vincent,” Catherine replied. “The bond speaks so clearly to me now of your love - there isn’t really a need for the words.”  She paused, then added,“But it’s still nice to hear them.  I love you, Vincent.”
Vincent smiled, pulled her closer into his embrace, and replied, “As I love you, Catherine, so much.”
They shared a few ardent, but restrained kisses.  (They were trying their best to wait for their wedding night to share complete intimacy.)
Vincent pulled back, looked down at her lovely face, her eyes full of love and passion, and couldn’t resist quoting: “‘There’s not a trace upon her face of diffidence or shyness.’ You remind me of the moon, too, Catherine, at least as Mr. Gilbert described her.  You do indeed ‘light up well’.”

“Gilbert and Sullivan?” Catherine replied, thinking fast. “Ah, ‘The Sun Whose Rays’ from The Mikado.  Aren’t the children rehearsing some of those pieces for the next recital?”
“Yes, exactly,” Vincent answered. “That, and the lovely full moon, are what brought those words so easily to mind.”
“I guess I should be glad it wasn’t ‘Miya Sama’ you thought of.  I sincerely hope Father doesn’t equate me with the infamous ‘Daughter in law elect’.” Catherine said with a grin.
“Never fear, Catherine,” Vincent replied, “no one Below would ever equate you with Katisha.”

“Thank goodness,” Catherine said, still smiling. “I AM engaged to the Heir Apparent, though.”

“Yes, but everyone, especially the “Heir Apparent” is happy about it,” Vincent said, kissing her cheek.

“You are my sun, Vincent.  You remind me even more of the sun than the moon.” Catherine told him.  I have no doubt you would ‘glory all effulgent’. You are golden, my beautiful Vincent.”

With that, there began another bout of kissing.

“Catherine,” Vincent gasped, pulling back from one particularly passionate embrace, “we must slow down.  Either that, or we go ask Father to join us tonight.”
Catherine looked up at him with mischief in her eye.  “I’d be all for that, but think how disappointed everyone would be.  They’ve made such lovely plans.”
“Indeed they have.  I suppose we shall have to be patient,” Vincent replied, and the two straightened up and sat still close, but not SO close.
“Speaking of plans, Catherine, what are you planning for living arrangements once we are joined?”
“Well, the brownstone I inherited from my dad won’t be quite ready to move into after the joining.  We’ll have to wait a few months, and then I have to furnish it, so it probably won’t be available until long after.  I’ll keep the apartment for appearances, or in case I have to work really late, or something until the brownstone is ready, but I’d really like to live Below with you,” was her response.
Vincent was overjoyed.  He wanted her with him as much as possible.  “There will be a delay even after the remodel is finished on the brownstone,” he added.  “We have to complete the tunnel entrance and ensure it is secure.”
Catherine mused, “It will be nice to have a place of our own to get away to when we need privacy, and also host students transitioning to college, or others from Below who need an ‘Above’ place to stay for a little while.”
“You wouldn’t want to live in the house all the time, Catherine?”
“I’d live there only if we can live there without it being too inconvenient for us to go back and forth every day.  I’d really rather live Below most of the time.  I’d miss everyone terribly after awhile.”
Vincent smiled and pulled her closer.  “Everyone would miss you, my Catherine.  You are much loved by our family.”
“I’ll be living Below with you for many months anyway.  The remodel was delayed by an illness in the contractor’s family.  It’s a family firm, and many of the employees were out of town for a while, all the jobs were still covered, but I told them not to worry about the brownstone, I’m not in a hurry.  Mr. Carling was very relieved,” Catherine explained.
“You are very kind, Catherine, and I shall surely be spoiled having you with me every night.  I shall have to expedite the plans to enlarge my – OUR – chamber,” Vincent declared.
Catherine giggled, “Yes, the sooner our bed is out of ‘Grand Central’, the better for everyone!  I plan on us being very typical newlyweds, and that could lead to some, uh, embarrassing situations.”
“Most assuredly, and I hope that behavior is typical of most of our marriage,” Vincent replied, nibbling gently on her ear.

“You are making it very difficult to stick to our agreement,” Catherine purred.
“I know,” Vincent leaned back again, “I’ll be good, Catherine, I just find you irresistible sometimes. “
“SOMETIMES?” Catherine responded in disbelief.
“All right, you are ALWAYS irresistible, Catherine, my level of control is what wavers.”
“I promise, I’ll try to stop being so tempting; at least until our wedding night!” Catherine teased, grinning at him. 
Vincent smiled at her, “It is impossible for you NOT to be tempting to me, Catherine, but we will have some help in keeping our agreement.”
“Really? How so?” Catherine asked, suddenly certain she wouldn’t really like the answer.
“I need to go to the lower tunnels to help Kanin and Cullen with a project so they will be available to help me with our chamber,” Vincent told her, so I won’t be available to be tempted by you for about a week.”
Catherine looked solemnly at him; “I shall miss you, but the reason is to expedite our dream, so how can I complain?”
“Catherine, you can use this time to work with our ‘wedding planners’ and make sure things aren’t getting too far out of hand,” Vincent pointed out, with a sly smile. 
“Oh, and that’s going to work,“ Catherine pointed out, “they’ll just smile and nod and do whatever they want anyway.”
“Yes,” he admitted, “but you’ll have advance warning in case they plan something we need to be prepared for.”
“We just need to be prepared to make a good getaway when it’s time,” she responded. “You DO have a plan that will let us spend our honeymoon alone, don’t you?”
They stood, as he had to prepare to leave. They enjoyed the sight of each other in the bright moonlight.
“Yes, Catherine, I do have a plan, never fear,” he said, taking her into his arms again. “No one will follow us on our honeymoon trip.  If they try, I plan to completely embarrass them,” he declared, and proceeded to kiss her until her knees went weak.
“That might do it,” she gasped. “I would certainly forget anyone was there if you kissed me like that.”
Vincent smiled, held her close a moment more, and said “Goodnight, my love.  I shall see you in about a week.”
“Be safe.  I love you,” Catherine said as they parted.
“I love you, too, Catherine.  Always,” Vincent answered as he slipped away.
Catherine sighed.  She picked up the tea things and took the tray back into the kitchen, gathered the cushions back into the large basket in the corner of the dining area, and then wrapped the big comforter around herself and sat back down on the chaise to look up at the moon again.  It truly was beautiful.  Vincent had looked extremely magical and enchanting in its light. 
She really, really wanted to see him in the sunlight.
She found herself singing bits of ‘The Sun Whose Rays’: “But fierce and bold in firey gold, he glories all effulgent.”
“Hmm.  I really want to see Vincent in all his glory.   Huh! Better not give in to that double entendre, or I’ll keep Vincent AND myself up all night!”  she told herself, with a giggle at her naughty thought.

She began to hatch a plan for the Fall, for she and Vincent to finally visit her “cabin in the woods.”  Surely, now that others besides Vincent were helping secure the tunnels, they could spare him for a day or two.  She began making a mental list of possible co-conspirators – (Ah, but that’s another story!)


The next day was a Saturday, so Catherine got her laundry for the week done and put away, checked the pantry, refrigerator, and cupboards, and decided to make a run to the nearby grocery owned by some Helpers. 

After she bought her groceries and made an “anonymous” donation toward the Easter dinner William was planning, she went home and put everything away. Once that was done, she grabbed her jacket, keys and a large flat box and headed Below.

It was lunch time, so she’d have some of William’s good soup and homemade bread as sustenance for facing the wedding planners. She spotted Mary first, and went to greet her and leave the box next to her, saving herself that spot at the table as she went to get her food. 
When she returned, Mary asked Catherine if the box was what she thought it was, and Catherine answered “Yes, it’s my mother’s wedding dress.  It’s been in this preservation box since right after my parents were married.  I hope it’s all right, and that it can be altered to fit.”

Mary lifted the outer cover of the box to see the lovely lace preserved beneath a sealed plastic panel.  “Oh, the lace is lovely, Catherine, and it doesn’t seem to have yellowed any.  We’ll know more when we can take it out of the box.  Come to my chamber after lunch, and we’ll take a look.”
“I was hoping you’d have time to look at it today,” Catherine answered with a smile.

The dress was in fine condition and only needed minor alterations, so that was one more worry off The List. 
On her way from Mary’s chamber back to the hub, she heard the children rehearsing their selections from “Mikado.”
Three little maids who all unwary
Come from a lady's seminary
Freed from its genius tutelary
Three little maids from school
Three little maids from school
-W.S. Gilbert, THE MIKADO

The chorus rang out, with Samantha, Beth, and Holly singing.  Catherine had to stop and watch and listen for just a minute.

As this bit of rehearsal was finished, Samantha spotted Catherine and ran over to her.
“Catherine!” she panted, “did we do all right?” 
“You sang marvelously.”
“Thanks.   Can we ask you a big favor?” The other girls had joined Samantha at this point. 
“You know you can, anytime,” Catherine answered, with a lifted eyebrow.
“We need three large silk Japanese fans, for the stage business that goes with the song,” Samantha informed her.  “Do you happen to have any we could borrow?”
“I have one that my father brought back for me from a trip he took to Japan.  I know where I can get a couple more, don’t worry.  You’ll have your fans.” Catherine smiled at the girls
“Thanks, Catherine!” they all said at the same time, just as they were being called back by Brooke and Rolley, who were directing this particular production.

Catherine grinned.  They were really going to do this right.  They had kimonos for everyone who needed one among the performers, supplied by a Helper who ran an imports shop.  Why they hadn’t thought to ask for fans as well, she did not know.  No problem, though, she could get a couple of fans from the same helper, but she’d buy them, and slip him a little donation to help cover the cost of his generosity to the children below.  She’d let Samantha use her fan, though, knowing it would mean a lot to the girl that she trusted her with it.
Just as Catherine turned and was making her way back toward the dining chamber to see if any of the wedding planners were looking for her, Mouse suddenly materialized at her elbow.
“Catherine! Okay, good, found you!”  he said.
“Mouse,“ Catherine said while trying to catch her breath, “you startled me!”
“Sorry.  Needed to find you.  Rebecca, William, Jamie, others want to see you before dinner.  Wedding stuff!”
“I was just on my way to the dining hall to see if anyone was looking for me. Lead on, Mouse!” Catherine replied with a smile.
“Got some great ideas!  Lots of balloons, big net, hold them all by ceiling until time to let them go, then they all fall on everybody!” Mouse regaled her with this and other plans as they walked.
“We’ll see, Mouse. I’m very flattered that everyone is so excited by the wedding.”
“All happy, Catherine,” Mouse stopped to look at her seriously, “you make Vincent happy, you love all of us, too, and, uh, we love you, too.”  He mumbled the last bit looking at the floor, embarrassed that he had admitted such a thing.
Catherine put her arm around him.  “Mouse, look at me. “ 
Mouse complied.
“You are Vincent’s best friend.  You are my friend, too, and I love you, too.”  She kissed his cheek.
Mouse turned so red he was almost purple.  “Okay.  Not want to make Vincent mad, better not kiss Mouse again. But thank you, Catherine.”
They proceeded to the dining chamber and found the wedding planners preparing to send someone in search of both Mouse AND Catherine.
After about 20 minutes, Catherine’s head was spinning at all the proposed festivities she had been presented with. 
Finally, she managed to get a word in.
“William, I will trust your experience and judgment on the menu.  I’ve never been to an affair here Below that didn’t have an entirely delightful and appropriate menu,” she declared, much to William’s blushing delight.
With that, the others started in again full force, until a very loud throat clearing got their attention.
“Catherine, my dear, would you come for a little walk with me before dinner, please?” Father enquired from behind her at the table.
Catherine got up rather quickly, “I’d be delighted, Father!”  She turned to the assembled planners. “Please, everyone, remember that Vincent won’t want too much of a fuss, I suspect we are lucky that he has realized he can’t get away with just stealing me away after having Father marry us quietly in the study.  I trust you not to let things get out of hand“
 She shared a knowing nod with Sarah and Mary, who had joined the assembly a bit before Father had arrived.
She took Father’s arm, and they strolled out of the Dining Chamber.
As soon as they were far enough away not to be overheard, Father chuckled, “I came to rescue you, my dear, but I see that you are wise enough to recruit the two most likely to rein the assembly in all on your own.”
Catherine patted Father’s arm, “Oh, but your arrival saved me having to scream at them to get them to stop long enough for me to say anything!”
 They both laughed at that.  Father led them toward the park entrance. 
“I know I missed that spectacular full moon last night, but I should like to see the moon tonight.  Thank you for accompanying me.”
“The pleasure is mine, Father.  I enjoy being able to spend time with you.  For awhile there, I never thought I’d feel that way, though,” she couldn’t resist teasing.
“I know, and I am dreadfully sorry about that.  I was letting my own experiences cloud my judgment far too much,” he admitted ruefully.
“Well, you were deeply hurt by what Margaret’s father did, and by Margaret’s inability to stand up to him.  I understood once I knew your story.  I am just so grateful you and Margaret found each other again, even if for too short a time.” Catherine told him.

“As am I, Catherine,” Father declared.  “Thank you for that, and for your understanding.  I am very glad to be gaining a daughter.  Two sons have been a great challenge,” Father added, trying to lighten the mood.
Catherine played along. “Peter might tell you that you’ll get no relief with me around.  I was pretty mischievous as a child.  If Vincent and I are ever fortunate enough to become parents, you may be really sorry if we have a daughter,” she offered with an attempt at a straight face.

Father laughed, “Any grandchild you two give me will be very spoiled, and very much loved! Though I’d love to see Vincent wrapped around the finger of a smaller version of you, as he would undoubtedly be.”
They opened the door and the gate at the park entrance and went out of the opening to the tunnel, and there the moon sailed among a few wispy clouds; still large and impressive, but not so much as the night before.
“I seldom make the time to come up and see the moon these days,” Father admitted.  “I can understand very well why it draws Vincent out to look.  It gives the whole world a magical appearance.
“Yes, it does,” Catherine agreed.  “It was quite lovely last night as well.”
They stood admiring the silvered scenery of the park for awhile, and Father noticed Catherine was humming softly. 
“Ah, ‘The Sun Whose Rays’.  I see our young light opera fans have infected you as well.  I can’t seem to get ‘Lord High Executioner’ out of my head these days.  They are doing so many selections from that opera, I wonder why they don’t just present the whole thing!”
“I believe it was suggested, Father, but the wedding planners put the kibosh on it, as it would prove too big a logistical challenge so close to the wedding,” Catherine said.

“Ah, yes, I seem to remember hearing that discussion.  If something is agreed upon without dissent, I am not usually called upon to comment or decide anything about it, so I guess it slipped my mind,” Father admitted.
“That’s the sign of a good leader.  You don’t jump in unless you need to,” Catherine replied with a grin.

“Well, I try, Catherine, I try.  I think we should be getting back, I am sure William is ready to serve dinner by now,” Father said, turning back toward the entrance.
Catherine took his arm again and said as they were closing the door, “We mustn’t miss William’s dinner tonight.  I’ve heard he was making pot roast, my favorite!”

Dinner was indeed William’s marvelous pot roast, and everyone was very well fed by the time dinner was over.  William was basking in the many compliments he received when Catherine asked him what he had packed for the work crew Vincent was with.
“Well, I had a smaller roast that came with the larger ones, so I made it up before they left so they wouldn’t miss out.  It was all packed for them, since they’ll have a large fire pit there, they should have been able to reheat it and have just as good a dinner as we did!” he told her.
“Oh, William, you are a marvel!”  Catherine exclaimed.  “Now I don’t feel so guilty about enjoying that wonderful meal so much, knowing Vincent didn’t miss out.”
“Well, I try to feed those men on the heavy work details as well as I can,” William pointed out, “They need to keep their strength up!”
“You do a very good job at keeping ALL of us going, William, “Father commented, joining them, “Allow me to offer my compliments to you on that dinner.  It was WONDERFUL!”
William was so pleased, and so moved, he didn’t have more to say than a heartfelt “Thank you, Father.”

“Catherine, my dear, are you going back Uptop tonight, or will you be staying in the guest chamber?” Father asked
“I thought maybe I’d stay, Father.  I am going to help Rebecca with some of the fancy candles for the wedding.  She’s been teaching me how to dip candles and how to carve the more complex pillars she makes.  I figured it was only fair I help, since it’s our wedding causing her extra work.”
“I doubt Rebecca considers it a burden, Catherine, but I am equally sure she is enjoying trying to make a proper ‘chandler’ out of you,” Father teased.
“I never thought I’d get the chance to live up to the family name, but Rebecca says I’m coming along nicely,” Catherine replied.
“Well, as you’re staying, perhaps I could convince you to join us in my study for the story hour?  I believe the adults and the children alike would appreciate hearing you take a turn at the reading.”
“I’d love to, Father,” Catherine said, “but I don’t see how my reading can possibly live up to the standards set by you and Vincent.  I’ll try, though.”
“Good, and I’m sure you’ll do well!” Father stated.  “The children would like you to read from one of the new books Jennifer sent down this week.”
“There is one she says is likely to win a bunch of awards.  I bet that’s the one the children want to read!” Catherine said. “Story hour starts in about half an hour, right?” Catherine asked.
“Yes,” Father answered, “that should be about the right time.  Go relax a little and meet us back in the study.  The children will no doubt have your chair and the book waiting!”
“I look forward to it.  Jenny said that the book about the girl crossing the Atlantic on a sailing ship in the 1830s as the only passenger with an all male crew was a very good adventure story,” Catherine replied.  “I’m willing to bet that’s the book the children chose.  It’s called The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.
With that, Catherine went to the guest chamber to freshen up and rest a bit, and Father headed to the study to rest himself before the community turned out for Story Hour.
As Catherine relaxed, she thought about how Jenny had become a Helper, and the night she met Vincent.  Catherine had gotten permission from the Council to introduce Jenny to the world Below and of course, Vincent, soon after Vincent and Catherine were engaged.  She had invited Jenny to her place for dinner, and had promised to order a very special meal for her.  She had gotten William to prepare one of Jenny’s favorites, she supplied all the ingredients, and William was very pleased to help by preparing the dish.  Vincent then brought the food to Catherine’s apartment by having her commandeer the elevator for him so no one else could stop it until it got to her floor.  (She knew a special code to enter to get it to do this.)
They had dinner set up and waiting when Jenny arrived, and as soon as she got in the door, she saw Vincent on the balcony, and she said to Catherine, “That’s him, isn’t it?  That’s the guy that’s put such a special light in your eyes these last few years.  Come on, introduce me!”
“Jen, he’s a bit different, I have to prepare you for his appearance...” Catherine started
“No, you don’t.  He looks kinda like a lion, has the world’s sexiest voice, and reads you poetry.”  At Catherine’s astonished look, she continued, “I’ve seen you together in my dreams.  I was certain there was some symbolism at work, but seeing him standing out there in that cloak, I know now my dreams were right on the money!”
Catherine was amazed, and pleased, and Vincent found it very amusing, but also shared with Jenny that he also often had prophetic dreams.  He told her he knew about her dream of Catherine dying when the Watcher was harassing her, and he told Jenny about his dreams about danger to Catherine when Steven Bass showed up.  They had a very interesting conversation about that, and ended up visiting all through dinner.  They had then taken Jenny Below, to meet Father and the Council.  She had been an instant hit, as soon as she mentioned that she worked for a publisher, and often had books to give away, well, she certainly had Father’s vote.
Really, the Council had been very impressed with Jenny’s steadfast support of Catherine through all the changes she’d made in her life, and believed she would indeed protect their secret, and not just for Catherine’s sake.   It was one of Catherine’s most treasured memories.

Still smiling, and glad to have her best friend finally in on the secret, she set the memory aside and strode off toward the study to read the first few chapters of the book the children had chosen.

The book was indeed the one Catherine had suspected they’d choose - a tale about a young girl who was forced by circumstance to take a long sea voyage unescorted back in Victorian times.  The happenings on this voyage changed her life forever.  Catherine made it through the first three chapters, and finally convinced the children (and a few grownups) that they really didn’t have time to read much more that night. Father congratulated her on a job well done, and she was just setting off to get ready for bed and do a little reading of her own when Kipper ran up and gave her a message.  “Came down on the express route, so I thought it must be important.” Kipper panted out before he turned around and ran back to his post. 
Catherine recognized the handwriting.  It was from Jenny.  An express message no doubt meant she’d had a dream, and when she couldn’t get Catherine at home, she had sent a message Below.  With trepidation, Catherine opened the note. 

Cathy, Yes, I had a dream.  DON’T PANIC.  It isn’t really bad.  Just know that whatever happens, everything will turn out fine.  That’s what I dreamed this time.
-Jenny

Hmm.  Okay.  NOW I’m worried, but I guess maybe I don’t need to be?  Jenny and her dreams.

Catherine put the note in her pocket and continued with her evening plans.  She had just settled in with her book when a sharp pain in her head and a vibration along that thread of consciousness she had come to recognize as her link to Vincent brought her out of bed and into her robe in an instant.  She was out the door and flying toward Father’s chamber just as the pipes came alive with a priority emergency message to Father.  Vincent had been hurt and they were bringing him up to the hospital chamber.
Father looked up as a panting, frantic Catherine appeared in the doorway. “You heard?” she asked
“Yes; but something tells me you can give me a bit more information,” he answered regarding her carefully.
“I felt a horrible sharp pain in my head, here,” Catherine said, pointing to the back of her head, “and I got the same feeling that I had when you and Vincent were trapped in the Maze.  I just knew Vincent was hurt.”
“That connection of yours will never cease to amaze me, but I am grateful for it.” Father said.  “Let’s go tell Mary and get the hospital chamber ready for him.  He may well be unconscious, can you tell?”
Catherine closed her eyes and concentrated on the thread that tied her to Vincent.  “It feels like he might be, there’s not a response like I’ve gotten from him in the past, and everything feels murky.”
“All right, my dear,” Father said, “let’s get busy then, and perhaps it won’t be as bad as we fear.”
“Well, if Jenny’s dream is as accurate as hers usually are, everything will be fine.” Catherine told him.
“Oh? When did Jenny tell you of this dream?” Father asked
“I received a priority message right after I left the story hour that basically said ‘Don’t panic, it’ll be OK.’” Catherine replied.
“Jenny often has prophetic dreams, I understand.  Well, let us hope she is indeed correct!” Father said over his shoulder as they headed down the corridor to the hospital chamber.

“Oh!” Catherine exclaimed just as they reached the hospital chamber, “he’s awake, and his head REALLY hurts!” 

“Can you feel anything else, Catherine?”  Father asked.

“No, only that he’s sending me reassurance that there’s no permanent damage.” Catherine replied.

“Well, I’ll be the judge of that, and soon enough by the sound of that last message,” Father stated. 
“They have been seen passing the outer perimeter, so about another 20 minutes or so.”

“Plenty of time for us to be all set up and waiting for him,” Mary said from the other side of the chamber. She had obviously heard the pipe message, too. “Don’t worry, dear,” she said to Catherine, “you’d know if it really was bad.  Vincent always knows when it’s you we’re worried about.”

“I know, Mary, but just like Father, I’ll still worry,” Catherine answered, hugging first Mary, and then Father.
“All right, all right,” Father fussed, let’s get everything ready, and Catherine, you stay here so my stubborn son will behave himself.”
By the time they had all possible necessities out of their storage places and arranged neatly on trays so Father could have them immediately if needed, Vincent and the work crew, who had all come along to make sure he actually GOT to the hospital chamber, arrived.

Catherine went to him and threw her arms around him.  “I’ve been so worried!”she told him.
“I know.  You do know I really am all right aside from a splitting headache and a scalp wound that probably needs a few stitches, Father,” Vincent replied, rubbing Catherine’s back soothingly and looking over at his anxious parent.
“Judging from the amount of blood in your hair, Vincent, I’m inclined to agree about the stitches. Come sit on this stool so I can see what we’re dealing with,” Father replied, as Catherine released Vincent and stepped out of the way.
“How on earth did this happen, anyway?” Father asked as he began examining the area where the blood appeared to have started from on the back of Vincent’s head.
“It was all my fault!” came an anguished voice from the doorway.
“Jonas, “ Vincent said, “we talked about this.  It was an accident.  Accidents DO happen.”
“I didn’t have a good enough grip on my chisel, and when I hit it, it went flying across the face of rock I was working, and got Vincent on the back of his head.  My carelessness could have killed him!”  Jonas cried, and there were tears in the young man’s eyes. 
Catherine went and put her arm around Jonas’ shoulders.  He was a young man who had only been Below for a relatively short while, and was learning the various trades available to practice Below.  “Anyone can make a mistake, Jonas.  Vincent is all right, and you now have a much greater appreciation for worksite safety, I’m sure,” she said kindly, trying to inject a tiny bit of levity.
Jonas sniffled a bit.  “You’re right about that, Catherine.  I will always watch carefully what I’m doing with tools from now on!”
“Well, then, this incident has not been a complete debacle.  You will be one of our most scrupulously careful workers from now on, Jonas, I am sure. You and the others go and get something to eat now, and rest,” Father said, as he began cleaning Vincent’s wound.
Kanin came and grabbed Jonas’ shoulder.  “Come on, now, let’s go do as Father suggested,” he said as he and the others left the hospital chamber.

“I’m afraid this will need a couple of stitches, Vincent, but the bleeding has already stopped, and it doesn’t appear to be very deep.” 
“It isn’t, Father,” Vincent replied, “but the force was sufficient, that if the angle had been different, and it had hit point first, it would have been deadly.”
“So, both Jonas and I were very lucky, then,” Catherine said.
“Why do you say that?” Vincent asked, already suspecting the answer.
“Because if it had been deadly, I’d pine away without you, and well, Jonas would probably have harmed himself. He’s a very sensitive young man, and I stress young.  He’s barely 18.”

“Ow! Father, do you have to jab me so hard with the local anesthetic?” Vincent complained.

“You know that it’s harder to inject you with things than it is most people, and the pain, on the skin anyway, should be going away very shortly,” Father replied.

While Father stitched the cut, Mary asked the “concussion protocol” questions.  Vincent’s answers assured both Father and Mary that he didn’t have a concussion.

“I will get you a pain reliever for your headache as soon as this is finished. Then you and Catherine can retire for the evening, and yes, I want her in there with you because I know you’ll actually rest if she’s near you,” Father instructed.


Vincent and Catherine walked to his chamber, and she got the basin, a couple of clean cloths, and some warm water from the bathing pool, sat Vincent in the smaller chair at his writing table, and proceeded to clean the rest of the blood out of his hair, and to blot it dry.
“Thank you, Catherine,” he told her solemnly. 
“You’re welcome,” she told him and dropped a kiss on top of his head. “Now, go take your bath and get your night clothes on.  I’m going to get some of William’s sleepy blend tea for us.”

Not long after Vincent left for the bathing pool, Catherine heard a familiar hearty voice at the chamber door “Vincent? Catherine?” William called softly.
“Come in, William, I sense you are about to save me a trip to the kitchen,” Catherine said.
“Well, I knew you’d both want some of my sleepy blend tea after all the excitement, and Father said it was fine for Vincent to have some,” William explained as he bustled in with a tray with a steaming teapot and two mugs on it. He put the tray on the table, then gathered Catherine into a bear hug. “You take good care of him, and I know you will, but please, take care of yourself, too!” William told her.
She returned his hug, kissed his cheek, and said “I certainly will. It’s easy with you and the others to help me keep an eye on him, and to remind me that I have a family again.”
William gave her one more squeeze, then left, not trusting himself to say any more. 

Catherine smiled as she put the teapot and mugs close to the center of the table.
I certainly do have a family again, and it feels wonderful. So much love for BOTH of us here…
As she was thinking this, Vincent, who had finished his bath and dressed in nightclothes, came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, murmuring “Yes, there is an abundance of love here Below for all of us.  There is a great deal of love for you in my heart, always.” He said this very softly, very close to her ear, and she melted back against him.  She suddenly found herself turned in his arms, and then he kissed her very satisfactorily.
“We had best drink the tea before it gets cold,” she said when at last he released her.
“Yes, you are right about that, and we both need our sleep.  Father will no doubt come to check on us before too long.” Vincent told her.

They drank the tea, which was delicious and relaxing, and Catherine put the tea things outside the doorway, and made a trip to the facilities while Vincent turned down the bed and put out all but a couple of candles. When Catherine returned, she and Vincent climbed into the big bed, and were soon asleep, Catherine keeping her hand on his chest so she’d know if he needed her during the night.
Father did indeed check, about an hour after they’d fallen asleep.  He smiled to himself, and put a lantern outside the doorway, so nobody would wake them up too early. He went to get some sleep himself, glad that Jennifer’s dream was correct this time.

Catherine was dreaming.  She knew she was dreaming, but she somehow knew she was sharing this dream with Vincent.  She heard him scream her name from somewhere just above her, and she heard a helicopter.  She felt weak, and woozy, and had trouble getting up the stairs.  Vincent saw her then, just as she reached the doorway to the roof, and he ran to her, catching her in his arms. 
Oh, God, this is his nightmare!  The one he had so many times while he was ill.  Only now, I can see it, and feel it.  Well, this will NOT end the same way!
“Vincent!” she said sharply, and with strength in her voice that had been missing in his dream, she was certain, “Vincent, look at me.  I’m all right.  I am NOT dying!”
He startled, and looked into her eyes.  “Oh, Catherine!” he exclaimed, pulling her close, and kissing her, and sobbing, and repeating, “You’re alive, you’re alive.”
They woke up then, still in each other’s arms, and he kissed her again, with great fervor.
“Vincent,” she said, when they came up for air, “are you all right?”
“I have never been so all right in all my life, Catherine,” he answered “That dream has always ended with your death before, but this time, you actually shared my dream, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” she replied, “and I knew I had to make you see that it didn’t have to end the way you thought it did.”  She smiled.  “Reality is so much better, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yes!” he answered, holding her close, and planting a kiss on top of her head.  “I have never been so relieved in all my life, even though I knew it was only a dream.”
“Maybe now we can put that nightmare away forever?” she asked, looking at him.
“Yes.  I believe that one will never trouble me again, Catherine,” he answered, “At least not until you are pregnant with our first child,” he added, with mischief in his eyes.
“You better not let it come back, even then!” she said.  “I will be right here with you the whole time, and even Joe will agree to that, I’m sure, but we’ll cross that bridge when, and if, we come to it.  I love you.”
“And I love you, Catherine, so much!” he answered.  “We should get some more sleep while we can.”
“Yes, you’re right.  I have to go bridesmaid dress shopping with Jenny tomorrow.  Mary is coming along, too.” she answered.
“I am glad she agreed to go.  I did have to point out, when you sent the message down asking her, that she is, for all intents and purposes, the mother of the groom,” Vincent said with a sparkle in his eye.
“Yes, she is, and she’s the surrogate mother of the bride, too, since my own has been gone so long.  I really am marrying a whole family, more than most other people do!” Catherine observed.  She yawned. “Good night, Vincent.  I love you.”
“I love you, too, my Catherine, always.” e replied as they both drifted off again, this time to very peaceful slumbers.


They were awakened by the tapping, chiming song of the pipes. 
“Good morning, Catherine.” Vincent said, kissing her lightly.

“Mmm.  That’s a wakeup call I could happily get used to,” she answered, returning the kiss. 

“Unfortunately, if we want breakfast, we need to hurry and get dressed,” Vincent said.

“No problem.  I’ll meet you back here in about 20 minutes.  I have to put on acceptable clothes for the shopping trip.  Jenny’s picking Mary and me up after breakfast!”


Twenty minutes later, Vincent and Catherine were entering the dining chamber when they heard a familiar laugh.
“Jenny!” Catherine called, “You’re early!  You said you’d come AFTER breakfast!”

“Come on, Cath,” Jenny replied, “you know I can’t survive a shopping trip with you without the sustenance provided by one of William’s breakfasts.  Besides, I had a gift for the work crew to bring down.”
She pointed to a box from a Helper’s hardware store.  It was full of work gloves that the box boasted had “Sure grip surface”. 

Vincent picked up a pair out of the box and said, “Well, Jenny, these will be very useful.  I know of at least one on the crew who will no doubt be glad to have a pair of them.”

“I know. “ Jenny smiled.  “I saw what happened in my dream.  I am also very glad that I saw that you were all right almost immediately.  How’s your head feeling today?”
“It aches a bit still,” Vincent answered, “but I think I’ll be well enough to go out to join the crew again on Tuesday.”
“You just be very careful about that,” Catherine insisted. “It isn’t THAT long until our wedding, and I want you in one piece!”

Putting his arm around her shoulders, Vincent drew her close and said, “I plan to be in very good shape by our wedding, Catherine.  After all, I have to survive the wedding night!”
 While they were laughing about this, they went and got in line for their food, and then joined Mary and Father at a table.

“I’m really looking forward to our excursion today, Catherine,” Mary said.  Turning to Jenny, she added, “It will be lovely to have a chance to spend some time with you, too, dear.”

“I’m looking forward to it, too, Mary,” Jenny answered.  “Hey, Cath, how are you going to keep anybody from figuring out that we’re looking for dresses for a wedding?”
“I wonder about that myself, Catherine,” Father added. “Don’t the paparazzi still follow you around occasionally?”
“Not so much these days, Father.  I’m pretty boring as heiresses go.  Not too splashy as an assistant D.A., either, since I stay in the background pretty much now.” Catherine said. “I thought we’d go to a shop I know well, where they will NEVER talk to the press, and simply tell them my friends need special gowns for a very special formal party they’ve been invited to.  That will satisfy the sales clerk, and we won’t be lying, either!”
“That’s an excellent idea!” Jenny exclaimed.  “Not telling all the truth, but not lying, either! It’s harder to mess yourself up that way.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Catherine offered.
“Well, I still feel bad causing you an expense, Catherine,” Mary said. “I don’t really need a new dress, or I can make one.”
“Nonsense, Mary!”  Catherine said. “You are very busy, too busy to have time to make a formal gown, and Vincent and I want you to be comfortable AND beautiful on the happiest day of our lives!  You are a mother to both of us; please let me spoil you just a little? After all, you are helping keep my wedding off the radar of the gossip rags by doing the alterations on my mother’s dress so it will fit me.”
“Oh, all right.  Thank you, my dear.  You are very kind,” Mary answered.
“There, then, it seems you have everything well in hand, ladies.  Vincent and I shall endeavor to hold things here together until you return.” Father said, smiling at Mary.

They set off, going out different exits, and met up at Catherine’s apartment building.  The day went very well, and both Jenny and Mary were happy with the gowns they had chosen.

That evening, when they had returned, and after dinner, Vincent and Catherine went walking to the park entrance, to go see “what’s left of the moon”, as Vincent had told Father.

The moon was waning, not completely full, but still big and bright.  Vincent leaned against the wall by the entrance, and held Catherine close in front of him, his arms around her waist.

Looking up at the moon, Vincent said, “It was the Sap Moon we saw Friday night, Catherine.  When the next full moon comes, the Pink Moon, it will be very near time for our wedding. “

“Maybe I should add a small sprig of phlox to my bouquet,” Catherine said, “since April’s full moon is called the Pink Moon because of the blooms of the wild phlox.”
Vincent smiled.  Leave it to his Catherine to have done research on the full moon, just as he had.  “Perhaps you should, Catherine,” he answered.
They stood and gazed at “That Placid Dame” a while longer, and Vincent thought he heard Catherine humming the tune to “The Sun Whose Rays”.  Ah, life was good.
Catherine thought to herself life is VERY good.

Soon they returned Below, to get ready to face another week, Vincent going back to help the work crews, and Catherine going back to see that justice was done whenever possible in her cases.
The worlds Above and Below rested peacefully beneath the waning moon.
Those with a whimsical turn of mind might even have noticed the look of a self-satisfied smile upon the face of “that placid dame, the moon’s celestial highness.”  



Notes:  Gilbert and Sullivan’s light operas are great favorites of my husband and I.  Mikado’s “The Sun Whose Rays” is a piece I have always loved.  I am reading “A Year With Rumi” pretty much every day this year, and I came across Avi’s book The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle when researching Caldecott Honor Books.
For information on the Full Moon, and beautiful illustrations, check out the children’s picture book Full Moon Lore by Ellen Wahi, illustrations by Ashley Stewart.  I see so many lovely books at the library where I work, but this one was so beautiful, I ordered myself a copy from Amazon. 
May the moon always smile upon you, and may your days be fair and full of light.
Katie
P.S. The fragrance I mention in the story is from Bath and Body Works, Love – Rose and Vanilla.  The way they change their fragrance offerings, I do not know if it is still available, but it is lovely.

P.P.S.  This whole story came about because I was so happy with my purchase of a cover for my weighted blanket, and the above mentioned fragrance.  I couldn’t help thinking Vincent and Catherine would enjoy them, too.  So you see, you never know WHERE a plot bunny will pop out from!





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