“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 68 (PG-13): Joy in the Morning, June 28, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #591)
[I will illustrate my story using my dream cast from the 2004 BBC production of “North & South” and other actors for additional characters: Richard Armitage for John Thornton, Daniela Denby-Ashe for Margaret Hale, Lesley Manville for Mrs. Maria Hale, Tim Pigott-Smith for Mr. Richard Hale, Sinead Cusack for Mrs. Hannah Thornton Ogilvy, Jo Joyner for Fiona/Fanny Thornton Ogilvy, Brendan Coyle for Nicholas Higgins, Graham McTavish as Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, Holliday Grainger for Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh, Simon Woods for Baird Ogilvy, and Emma Ashton as Mrs. Dillard, John Light as Henry Lennox, Tim Faraday as Watson, Gillian Anderson at Carlotta Quint Watson, Jeremy Northam as Dr. Miles Houghton, Gerard Butler as Lord Jamie Ogilvy, and Juliette Lewis as Lady Thistle Ogilvy, etc.] [(1) story logo]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” is a story with mature themes of love and relationships set within a period drama of the 1850’s. As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions (D), including some violence (V)–and I will rate those chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous chapter: After traveling back home to Milton, Margaret and John spend a precious few weeks making extra visits to her parents, the Hales. Then a few days before Audrey Grace’s one month birthday, the Hales pass away on July 18th within an hour of each other. The shock and grief that Margaret and John feel with the loss of Margaret’s parents devastates them.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 68 (PG-13): Joy in the Morning [(2)]
The days and weeks after Margaret Hale Thornton’s parents’ passing and funeral have not been easy ones for her. As a young woman of twenty three, Margaret feels little more than a child herself at times. John also feels bereft of Mr. Hale’s guiding presence and wishes that he could heal his wife Margaret’s broken heart. But just as time heals real wounds, so it is with the wounds of grief. The scar will remain–a reminder of the injury–however, life will resume its journey.
And John’s and Margaret’s one joy during their weeks of mourning is their baby daughter Audrey Grace. For she is a little baby who depends upon her Mama and her Papa for everything she needs–food, cuddling, wrapper changing, the soothing sounds of her parents voices even if she doesn’t know what they are saying, etc. The baby is a continual and welcome source of distraction for John and Margaret as exampled one lazy Saturday morning in late August when Audrey insists on her parents full attention.
Baby Audrey Grace: “Waaaaa! Waaaaaa! Waaaaa!” Audrey Grace cries loudly and wakes up her parents. She feels uncomfortable with a wet wrapper. Baby Audrey Grace wants attention and she has learned how to get it–by yelling her little lungs out, drooling, and waving her arms about.
As if springloaded, Margaret instantly sits up from her slumbering position on her back when she hears her baby cry. Margaret jumps out of bed to Baby Audrey Grace’s bassinette not two feet away from her.
Margaret: “I’m here, Audrey Grace!” Margaret coos. “Shall we change your wrapper and then feed you?” Margaret converses with Baby Audrey Grace as if the baby understands her. “Yes we shall.” And Margaret deftly takes the baby to their en suite bathing chamber, cleans her up, and puts the baby into a fresh wrapper, before walking back into her bed chamber with a pacified Baby Audrey Grace in her arms as Margaret kisses her little tears away.
John: John sleepily begins to waken, his eyes still half lidded. Then he partially rolls onto his side and looks at his pocket watch on the bedside table as he apologizes [(3) right]. “Sorry Margaret. I should have helped you with the baby just now. But I didn’t hear her.” John is bleary eyed from getting up three times with Baby Audrey Grace last night while he let Margaret sleep. John stands up from their bed in his wrinkled night shirt–alternately scratching his head and his rump–then he walks toward the bathing chamber to freshen up and shave.
Margaret: Margaret bemusedly grins suspiciously at her husband and shakes her head as he passes her. “Do we need to have wax removed from your ears, John? The baby’s piercing cries could shatter fine crystal.”
John: Giving Margaret a quick kiss on her lips, John replies. “I agree. We shant let her near the dining room until she is past this stage. How long will that be?” He asks plaintively.
Margaret: “Oh, only 2 or three … years.” She looks at him impishly. “Ha ha ha!” Margaret’s heart is lighter when she is with baby Audrey Grace–in part, because Margaret resolves to show the baby her happiness at being her mother. Margaret does not want her sorrow in losing her parents to translate into the baby somehow thinking that she is the cause of the sorrow.
John: “Ha ha ha!” John chuckles. “Shall I hold her for you while you get dressed?” He holds out his arms and Margaret places the baby within them.
Margaret: “I’m not getting dressed yet, but you may keep her calm for me before I feed her.”
John: John nods. “My pleasure!” He smiles warmly at his wife. Then he looks to their baby daughter. “Are you Papa’s little girl?” He asks in a deep sing songy voice. Baby Audrey Grace smiles, then she waves her her open fingered hands at him and John gives her one finger to hold, her tight grip being endlessly fascinating to John.
Whilst in the the bathing chamber, Margaret freshens up and changes her night gown to one that is easier to nurse in–with bow ties at each shoulder. In the mirror, Margaret notices how pale she looks. She hasn’t ventured out of doors much recently, even though the Summer months have been pleasant and not over warm. And now that they are in the waning days of August 1851–just after Audrey Grace’s quiet two month birthday and church christening for close family and friends on August 21st–the weather will start to turn colder and wetter throughout the Autumn months.
Margaret sighs deeply as she surveys her slightly plump tummy. To anyone else–including John–Margaret looks trim and almost back to her pre-baby figure. But Margaret knows that her gowns are still let out an inch or two–and that they will probably never be taken in again. But, Margaret cannot delay the inevitable and she returns to their bed chamber with a burping cloth for after she nurses baby Audrey Grace. Margaret slides into her side of the bed, sitting up against her pillows and placing one pillow on her lap to help support the baby as she nurses her at her breasts.
Margaret: Reaching for her baby, Margaret smiles warmly to John. “I’ll take her now and feed her.”
John: “Of course, Margaret.” John gently places a calm baby Audrey Grace into Margaret’s arms. “I will give you your privacy.”
Then John turns his body away from her to sit on the side of the bed and Margaret’s face falls. John always turns away from her when she nurses the baby if he is in the room. She wonders if he finds her feeding the baby disgusting as some men do. And they have not resumed their love life–even though Cameron privately assured her that she and John may make love and still prevent her from getting pregnant again–since baby Audrey Grace’s birth was so difficult for Margaret. The prevention aspect seems rather mysterious to Margaret, but it mostly falls upon John to do the prevention, somehow. She was urged not to worry about it. However, John has not even hinted at the possibility of them becoming passionate together again. And Margaret worries that John no longer finds her desirable now that she is a mother.
John sits frozen on the side of their bed, not daring to move lest he be tempted to look back at Margaret nursing their baby, Audrey Grace [(4) right]. John’s hearing is so acutely attuned to his wife Margaret’s every movement that he swears that he can hear the rustle of her untying the pink silk ribbon at the sleeve of her left shoulder before she exposes her left breast to baby Audrey Grace. John hears baby Audrey Grace latch onto Margaret’s breast and begin suckling eagerly for her morning sustenance.
John closes his eyes trying not to see the image in his mind of his beloved Margaret providing life giving nourishment to their baby daughter. He is at once in awe of the mother -daughter bond–as well as, being jealous of it. He had glimpsed their communion only once. And he felt then–as he feels now–his desire for his beloved wife Margaret increasing. Yet John knows that he must give Margaret time to heal before they resume their lovemaking.
After Margaret switches baby Audrey Grace to her other breast and finishes feeding her, baby Audrey Grace falls contentedly asleep. Margaret smiles down at her sleeping baby, Baby Audrey Grace’s little mouth still making opening and closing motions as her little hands and face seek the underside of her Mama’s warm curvy breast in continuing comfort.
Not hearing any sounds of nursing, John surmises that they are done and he slowly looks over his shoulder. John sees Margaret’s nightgown puddled at her waist with a blissfully happy Baby Audrey Grace nestled to her mother’s bare breasts. John is transfixed by Margaret’s loveliness and moved by the tenderness of his wife and daughter embracing each other. Margaret’s breasts have changed due to her pregnancy and nursing. Yet John finds her even more alluring. John does not realize it, but he has turned his body and is leaning ever so slightly toward Margaret. Sensing a shift in the bed, Margaret looks up at John.
Margaret: “John?” Margaret asks, realizing that John is leaning toward her and she pinkens for her state of disshabille. His face shines with love and Margaret’s heart answers his as she gazes up at him tenderly. “Will you take baby Audrey Grace and place her in her bassinette for me, please?”
John: “Ohhh!” John says deeply, nudged out of his reverie. “Of course.” Margaret holds Baby Audrey Grace out to him, even as she tries to cover herself with her other arm. “Does nursing baby Audrey Grace hurt?” John asks caringly as he lifts their sleeping baby into his arms and carries her to her bassinette.
Margaret: “Only a little bit, at first. Now, I seem to be used to it.” Margaret blushes as she adjusts her nightgown and reties her shoulder straps.
John turns around to face Margaret again. He is consumed with his love for her as his wife and as the mother of their child. Margaret stands up from their bed, but John reaches her before she can move toward her vanity table to brush out her hair from its sleeping braid. Margaret looks up at him shyly as she places her hands on his nightshirt covered chest. John moves his arms around her shoulders and back in a loving embrace. He gazes down at her with love and devotion–and with lust.
John: “Are you feeling better, Margaret My Love?” John’s deep vocal timbre has a resonance to it that almost sounds like a purring growl.
Margaret: “I am. Thank you.” She replies breathlessly.
Margaret can feel the heat emanating from John’s body. And he does feel over warm in his nightshirt–given that it is still a rather warm August, though the mornings are cool. John wants so much to take his wife back to their bed and adore her completely. It has been over four months since they made love–since just before her seventh month of pregnancy. But John does not want to have his needs overwhelm his still healing wife. John kisses Margaret on her temple, but he does not relinquish his lips from her forehead. And he finds his lips moving unbidden down her face, bestowing small kisses upon her.
Margaret: “Ohhhhh!” Margaret sighs deeply as she clutches him closer to her.
John: “Margaret.” He sighs at her mouth. John is a lost man as he captures her lips for a soul searing kiss that transports them to the days of their early marriage–when love and love making were all consuming passions that controlled their waking moments in their bed chamber. Margaret responds to her husband’s kisses–sucking upon his lower lip with slow movements–noticing that their kisses have gone from cherishingly chaste to wanton and wild in the space of not even a minute.
John would break from Margaret to remove his night shirt so that he could be naked with his beloved wife–but even that parting of their lips would be too painful for him. So John tugs upon the v neck of his night shirt with both hands and he rips it down the front of the fabric before letting the shredded nightshirt slide off of his arms and puddle at his feet.
Margaret can now feel her husband’s warm flesh and his muscles beneath unhindered by the cotton fabric cloth of his discarded night shirt. Her arms embrace him around his middle as she continues to strain upward as he leans downward in their as yet unbroken kiss. John’s hands explore her womanly curves, also wanting the delight of touching her soft skin unfettered by fabric. But Margaret does not want her favorite nursing gown lying in shreds at her feet. So she undoes the ribbon tie under her breasts to loosen the bodice. The she and John each untie a pink silk shoulder strap bow to unravel it. John also unties her hair braid bow and loosens her silky hair so that it lies in copper colored waves about her shoulders.
When Margaret’s unshredded nightgown is a puddle at her feet, their bare bodies press against each other in heat and in lust–their feeling tremblings of anticipatory pleasure. Then Margaret suddenly pushes herself away from her husband John’s body and uses her arms to cover her swollen breasts leaking some of their milk.
John: “What is wrong? Are you in pain?” John asks in concern mixed with hurt for her seeming rejection of him [(5) right].
Margaret: “No! I am afraid.” Margaret moans.
John: “Of me?” John asks in confusion. “We will be gentle, and stop if you feel pain.” He implores.
Margaret: She nods. “I am afraid of becoming pregnant again.” Margaret’s body desiring her husband is at war with her psychological fear of enduring another agonizing childbirth–and possibly not surviving it.
John: John wraps Margaret in his arms. “Margaret, My Love. Cameron told me how we can insure that you do not become pregnant again?”
Margaret: “I do not understand how such a thing is possible.” She bites her lower lip. She wants to believe him.
John: “I will ….” John leans in and whispers to her, so that Baby Audrey Grace does not overhear. Margaret’s eyes widen in astonishment with John’s slightly clinical explanation.
Margaret: “Oh!” Margaret pinkens up. “You do not mind?” She gazes up at him hopefully, not knowing if his pleasure will be lessened by his prevention of getting her pregnant again.
John: “I do not mind dearest–if it means that we may love each other as we both want to do.” John smiles hopefully at his beloved wife Margaret.
Margaret nods shyly. Then John sweeps Margaret up into his arms and carries her to their bed and they kiss each other in love and tenderness [(6) right]. They spend a langorous hour reacquainting themselves with each other in such tenderly passionate adoration that John needs to prevent his beloved wife Margaret becoming pregnant twice. And then they fall asleep again in each others’ loving arms until their baby Audrey Grace wants more breakfast and they must eat their own breakfast.
John and Margaret decide that lovemaking together is both a healing balm for their souls, as well as, a joyful expression of their loving bond. And their bedtime evenings and early mornings are made more joyful with their little family and with their love over the days and weeks and months of this peaceful Autumn. They will always mourn for Margaret’s parents, the Hales, leaving them so soon. But John and Margaret will honor them as well, in seeking to renew their love and happiness that is theirs to be cherished.
And sometime in the not too distant future, little baby Audrey Grace will gain a cousin, and an aunt or uncle when Fiona’s and Hannah’s babies are born.
To be continued with Chapter 69
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 68 References, June 28, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #591)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the 2004 BBC period drama North & South, was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg ; For more information about this wonderful 2004 BBC miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s story North & South, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_&_South_%28TV_serial%29
2) Psalm 30 (“Joy in the morning), verse 4 & 5: “4 Sing to Yahweh, you His faithful ones, and praise His holy name. 5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.” was found at http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+30&version=HCSB
3) John is Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks 8,epi5,pix 34 found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode5/slides/ep5_034.JPG
4) Image representing Margaret nursing her baby was found at Today.com at http://www.today.com/parents/exclusive-breast-feeding-may-just-be-too-hard-study-says-445276; with the image link being http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/j/streams%5C2012/March/120314%5C191360-120314-breastfeeding-vmed.blocks_desktop_medium.jpg
5) John Thornton bare chested image is Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks,series 9 Promos, pix 45 found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spookspromo/album/series9-45.jpg
6) John Thornton is portrayed by Richard Armitage and Margaret Hale Thornton is portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-340.jpg