Disclaimer: Nothing about Cold Mountain belongs to me. Josephine, however, is purely mine.

A/N: I really felt like he needed a background story. He's a fantastic character played by a fantastic character actor and since the main parts always get all the attention, I thought I'd give him some. I don't plan on this being more than an chapter or two or three long...I just don't have the patience with long stuff. But we'll see what this turns into.

- - - - - - - - -

It all began with his upbringing, as it seemed to with most people. The expectations and pressure put on him by his father had weighed heavily on his youth and, of course, all he had done to please his father proved in vain. But he didn't just want to prove to his father that he was worthy of acceptance, praise, or recognition: he needed to prove it to himself, and it seemed as though the only way that was possible was to get his father's say-so, his confirmation, that yes, this latest endeavor was enough to show his worth. But it never came, and the frustration and shame grew like a weed that suffocates and overwhelms a garden in this boy that would never have been able to know or guess that his father might simply be too hard on him.

The ghost of failure followed him everywhere, despite all he did; still saying he had only tried to do it. He could've done better. Everything from simple chores around the house, to the girl he was courting, to his work in school. Everything was subject to criticism. Nothing was satisfactory. Eventually the shame and frustration turned into anger and he slid easily into the habit of drinking and other destructive behavior, until he met her.

Josephine walked into his life at the most unexpected of times. After his father passed away, he did not feel relief or release or any change for the better, as he may have thought he might. If anything, he was worse. Late one evening he'd once again drunk himself into oblivion, attempting to forget that he'd failed his father, and ended up drinking far too much. Stumbling out of the bar, unable to keep his feet and disoriented, he'd managed to make it to a house on the edge of town, emptying his stomach several times along the way. He tripped and there was sudden excruciating pain in his right hand. He'd caught his fall with a hand that still had a whiskey bottle in it. He cried out in pain, though he had no idea what was causing it, had no idea that there was blood coursing out of his wrist. To his fortune, the resident of the house in front of him heard and came out to inspect the matter. She didn't want a drunkard on her hands, but saw the cut wrist and the blood and took him into her house, wrapping cloth tightly around his arm and tending his cuts with bandaging and stitches, allowing him to sleep on her sofa.

At three in the afternoon, he awoke, startled by unfamiliar surroundings. Frantically, he tried to recall the previous night's events, but only managed the usual flashes in his head, as though struggling to hold onto memories of a dream. His head pounded and his hand throbbed. He looked at the bandages in stunned anxiety. Oh, what had he done now? The home around him was meager, but comfortable enough. Just as he was about to try to stand, a gentle hand touched his shoulder. "You'd best wait a bit longer. You lost a fair amount of blood and you'll get dizzy." He turned to look at the owner of the voice. He saw a strawberry blond in her mid-twenties, wearing a working dress with an apron, a pair of dirty gloves tucked into it, and a sunhat, dirt flicked here and there. But despite her state of general disarray, she glowed with life and health: two things he felt he never understood the meaning of or how to get. He felt then and there that he needed this woman. He needed her to tell him how to live and love living, as she did. Ever so knowingly, she said, "My name's Josephine. What's yours?"

He finally choked out, "Stobrod…Stobrod Thewes."

To be continued...