Prologue to Loving Robin: Jesus and Judas

Prologue to Loving Robin: Jesus and Judas
by Nix Winter
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved

Note: I cut this bit out of Loving Robin, but it's still interesting and still happened in the past. Maybe I'll expand it and include it as a second story.



Jerusalem
Roughly 30 CE, give or take


There are many kinds of love.

He was tall, straight, smooth dark hair that hung to his shoulders, golden skin, and gentle dark eyes. His robe lay around him in harmony with the warm evening air.

"Judas."

They'd all returned to Jerusalem for Passover. It seemed like half the world had returned to Jerusalem for Passover.

Rome ruled the world, its heel always ready to stamp out freedom.  Pulling up a rough cloth cowl, Judas left the garden and stepped into Jesus' room. "Master?"

Jesus closed the door, shutting out the grumbles of those left without. "I have the most hope for you, Judas."

"Master?"

Jesus poured a fragrant thick wine into two thick earthenware goblets. "Drink with me, Judas. I ask a favor you, greater than any gift you've given me on our journey."

"All that I have is yours, Master."

"Drink."

"Will we fight them, the Romans?" Judas said, lifting the rough made goblet, drinking sparingly, unwilling to cloud any moment alone with Jesus. The cowl fell away, pooling around slender shoulders, framing an androgynous face with large dark eyes, smooth flushed lips.

"Not in the way they expect," Jesus said, smiling knowingly, completely above all the petty struggles for life and land. "You will go to the Sanhedrin for me. I must speak with them."

"But Master," Judas hissed, knowing there were secrets that must not be told, ever.

Jesus reached across the table, traced his finger around the rim of Judas' goblet, whispering glittering light. "You are stronger than you think and most able to understand what I shall give you."

"I will go for you, Master, but I don't," Judas whispered, "please don't pay me for doing something I do not want to do."

"Beloved, there will be many things in the coming days you will not like, but I trust that you will come to understand."

"I want to understand, Master."

"Keep this cup with you always, Judas, and we will find each other no matter what paths we may walk."

Judas held the goblet closer then, cherishing it as if it were the most precious of objects. "Let this be my payment then. You know my secrets, Master, all of them."

"I know," Jesus said, smiling tender. "I understand."

Judas sipped the wine, finding it sweeter than it had been. "I love you, with all that I am."

"I know, my Beloved."

<><><>
Calvary
A few days later....

The Romans worship death, or at least the courage to face death. They were the ones that brought death into Jerusalem.

Laughter, haggling, wine, the morning sun, sweat, piss, offers of sexual pleasure, they all swirled around Judas, brushing against cloth that covered skin, but warmed nothing. The goblet never left Judas's hand.  Rough texture of unglazed earthen ware pressed into chilled skin as if Judas were no more than a being made of clay to begin with. It was little weapon against the vulgar raging fires of life and the utter disregard for the most beautiful man who bleed only feet away from where Judas crouched.

Shudders wracked Jesus as he lifted himself up against the nail in his feet, straining for breath. Rage, blacker than any storm Judas had ever seen swamped through the soul, smothering. Every living creature that could touch Jesus this way deserved death, raining black fire... the Romans, the Jews, the Greeks!

Hours ground away with cries and laughter, human merriment and human suffering. Judas hated. The cup held so tightly grew to have more mass and reason than Judas did.

"Father, why have you forsaken me," Jesus cried out and the sky went dark across the world. If Jesus had despair, then despair was all that existed.

Judas stared at the rope laying in skinny and scarred hands. Jesus had been the only one who had ever seen Judas, truly seen and yet loved. Distantly Judas knew it was a different day. There were foggy memories of running, of Peter hissing that no one was worth anything now.

Jesus had spoken of love, of a world filled with love. Such a place could not be real. The rope hit the tree branch with a thump and Judas felt gratitude to be alone, to have quiet, such quiet that he could hear rope moving rough over the bark of the tree. There wasn't thinking, just... it was like healing treatment, just a way to stop the blood that would not stop flowing away and leaving his soul bleached. The rope made no sounds against his throat and he wondered for a moment if he were real at all. Standing on the wooden stool he'd brought, he stared down at the scabbed over abrasions on the palm of his hand, where he'd held the cup of life so tightly.

"All the will in the world will not make me alive nor not what I am," he spoke to the air, the last witness to what had been a miserable life, until it had been a marvelous life for a moment, before there had been no joy left to seep into hated skin. "I Judas lived as well as I could. I was born in a woman's body, but I walked a man's path. Being a man did not give me the strength to save the only person who loved me and so as a woman I will die."

The air really didn't care.

The stool cared less as it tipped, perhaps because as a living thing it had died long before. Feet kicked at the stool, then at the air, defiant and demanding recognition even as the air felt nothing, no more than the world had ever felt. The world should have gone dark, as it did when Jesus died, but instead there was light.

Beautiful, reds and greens, violets and blues like the sky, like butterflies brushing against bare skin, lifting a body which had grown too heavy to bear the soul within.

"Beloved," Jesus said very gently, "You must not do this."

The will and the courage, the grief, all intent and planning failed, Judas stood barefoot on the ground and instead of the rope, Jesus' arms wrapped around her. "No, I can not hurt any more! I can not be without you!"

"My love," Jesus whispered, running his fingers over greasy, uncared for hair, "What I see in you is more precious than you can know. I will always love you and always know you and when you can love yourself as I love you, you will come to my home."

Judas leaned back, looking up at a whole and perfect Jesus, at the brilliant light surrounding him. "You're here? You're really here?"

"I am. Guard the cup which I gave you, for it is the cup of life. Guard your life and grow in wisdom, for when I can bring you home with me, I will."

"I want to go now! I love myself! If you can love me, I can love me!" Desperation made the light seem brighter, made his form seem less solid. "I'll do anything!"

"It is not words which will bring you to my home and make it yours. Understand love and the bridge will open." He stepped back even as she clung to him. "You are braver than you know. Be true to yourself, Jude."

Like sunlight on water, but of every color, living... he moved back into the light from which he'd come, back onto the bridge where she could not follow him.

"But I love you!"

"I love you. Love and the bridge will open."

"Jesus!"

But then he was gone. It was late afternoon and both the branch and the rope were broken and useless. Jude picked up the cup, pressed it to her face, against the hot tears that flowed. How could one learn to love in a world filled only with hate?

<><><>
Autricum
900 CE

The Romans had called the town Autricum. Jude had been more than happy to see it become Chartres, to dance with the flow of languages until the Romans were so much a legend that on some days she wondered if she  imagined the arrogant Romans, her own people, or even Jesus.

The priest spoke of Jesus, but not the Jesus she'd known.  Nearly eight hundred years between then and now, she had no illusions that she could just explain that she knew Jesus and the Holy Grail was sitting in the back room of the mute old tailor's shop. One thing hadn't changed. She still hated them all, but in time, one day, when she least expected it, she knew the bridge would open and Jesus would take her to a better world.  With every stitch she put into the gown she sewed, she smiled to herself over the bridge. Then she would be happy!

<><>

Ash had no such grand needs to be happy.  On that late spring day,  he wanted only one thing really. Leaning against the unevenly whitewashed wall of someone's house, what he really wanted was for his brothers not to catch him.

His mother had told him the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors many times before her death. He had something that was way worse than a coat of many colors. If he'd had a coat or money or anything else he could have given to his brothers he certainly would have done so. What he did have couldn't be taken or given away though.

Tall, slender, with hair like the moonlight and eyes like a clear winter day, a voice that sang like a perfect mass, buying years off of Purgatory, Ash was both a bastard and his father's favorite. His father was mayor of Chartres, as his father and grandfather had been before him. He was a kind and generous man who had five sons. Four of whom had sprung from his wife with greater wits and sharper tongues. The wits in the fifth were hampered by both a beautiful voice and tongue to quick and reckless to safely belong to a bastard.

Normal people who weren't being hunted by the mayor's sons had the good sense to clear away the path so there would be neither witnesses nor aid for the son of a very talented French lady minstrel. In the distance he heard them, laughing, clanging. Their dogs barked and yipped. His brother's had no reason whatsoever to hurry. He groaned and pushed himself along the wall, trailing bright red blood against the flaking paint. His head spun and he prayed that if he could just find someplace safe to hide, he'd be happy with that. If he could just lay down and bleed out quietly without being chewed upon by his brother's dogs, then he'd be happy. Surely God could grant that much!

A rose colored butterfly danced in front of the shuttered window of the tailor and he blinked, arched an eyebrow while squinting with the other eye. Then there was a blue butterfly and a swish of light like a mayday ribbon.

Energy renewed and he shoved off the wall, staggered across the street and banged on the tailor's door. It would never open. Only a fool would take in the prey of his brothers. Only a fool would listen to stories about butterflies made of light. He was a fool, but he was sure the light surrounded him, held up, at least until the door opened and he fell forward onto his face.

<><>

Jude dragged him into the dark shop, over the dirt floor, then kicked the door closed with way too much energy to avoid attracting attention. He was a stupid, rich barbarian who'd never even spoken a proper language, but in that moment, she hated him less than the men who were hunting him.

What prompted her to take out the grail, she couldn't have explained then and maybe not if she had another hundred years to think about it. Using the grail always ended badly.

"Boy," she growled in Hebrew. "Get up! Get out of my home."

Ash coughed, blood from torn flesh and punctured lungs wet on his lips. Eyes glazing, he reached out to her, trembling fingers to touch her face.  "You are the goddess of the moon? You are the most beautiful person I have ever seen. May I have your name?"

"Idiot. You're likely dying and you ask my name?" She'd switched to an awkward French. She let him touch her face. His shaking fingers left streaks of warmth, like he traced life across her isolation. "Give me yours first."
"I am Ash. My life may end today, but what value has a man's life if he has not seen beauty such as you?"

"And if I'm a man, you asshole," Jude growled.

"Then I know why no woman has claimed my heart or passion," he whispered. With the back of his hand, he wiped blood from his mouth. "Death becomes a gift from God for I can never tempt you into sin, as I would be bound to do, should I have lived."

"You're an idiot," Jude said softly, more wishing to believe than she did.  "If I could save you, would you keep my secret always and forever? If I shared the greatest treasure with you, would your greedy little heart long for riches and power?"

"The greatest treasure you could give me would be your kiss and I would share it with none."

"And if I am a Jew?"

"Was not Jesus a Jew?  I am a bastard who has only a beautiful face and voice. I am made the whore of others. I would that I was a free Jew."

"You are free, Ash," Jude said gently. "Brave, reckless, foolish, and curse me, I can't let you die. Why did you have to come into my home?"

Determination straightened her, leaving nothing of the old woman she'd seemed only moments before. The rough cloth no longer seemed to match her or the long dark hair. The little shop was very small and from under a pile of cloth that might not have been touched in several decades, she pull an old earthenware goblet.  Reverently, she dusted it off. The rough texture  felt at home in her hand, like an imprint of her own soul made into matter.  The decision made, she strode back towards him, scooped water out of a wooden bucket, and growled as she knelt back down by him. "Do not make me regret this, Ash of Chartres."  Her grip was all strength as she jerked him up and poured sacred water down his throat.

He sputtered, reached, but she held him, forcing more tepid water into his mouth.
After he swallowed, she let him go, stepped back and made the goblet disappear back into the worthless dross of a life near the bottom.

"Tell me your name," Ash pleaded, now on his knees, the color good in his face, the blood washed away.

"I am Judas Iscariot. That was the Holy Grail. Jesus gave it to me himself.  If you tell anyone, I will have to run and I shall regret ever knowing you."

"I shall keep your secrets, Judas, always."

"My friend called me Jude."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Christmas Blog Hop

Fic: Tuesday Morning