Full of Grace
by Amy L. Hull
For Brightknightie as a thank you fic in LJ's 2010 FKficfest challenge, a story in eight drabbles
Note: Many thanks to Wiliqueen for betareading, Catholic Answers ( www dot catholic dot com ), The Catholic Doors Ministry ( www dot catholicdoors dot com / prayers ), WTN Global Catholic Network ( www dot ewtn dot com / devotionals / ), Wikipedia, and Catholics who let me grill them over the little details that are so critical to these things and about which I have no personal knowledge to speak of.
ooo ~ Forgive Us Our Trespasses ~ ooo
"There have been changes. But what if it's not just a virus or 'physical condition' like I've believed all along? What if the final step is dependent on the metaphysical?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well...when's the last time you prayed?"
"What does that have to do-"
"When you were overcome by that...demon, a priest did an exorcism. LaCroix cringed away. You're burned by holy water, crosses, crucifixes. You're weighed down by unbelievable guilt. What if..." Natalie looked at the floor. "What if nothing I've done can cure? What if it's forgiveness you truly need?"
Slowly, Nick knelt.
ooo ~ Forgive Me, Father ~ ooo
They greeted the sunrise with caution, ready to leap out of the rays at the windows, but his skin did not smolder or blister, and Nat did not shove him away with all her strength.
Instead she hugged him so tightly he could barely-as he suddenly needed to-breathe.
Stepping outside, he felt weak. The summer rays beat hot on his skin, and his palm felt sweaty against Nat's.
"Nat, would you-"
"Will you take me to Father Rochefort at St. John's?
In the confessional he crossed himself. "It has been 770 years since my last confession."
ooo ~ Glory Be ~ ooo
The day had been long, exhausting, and gorgeous.
The sun had not lasted, but even through rain clouds, the colors of trees, flowers, building stones, Nat's eyes, the Caddy, well, everything, was amazing.
Nick stood, heart pounding, half blocking Natalie as LaCroix snarled a non-congratulation with a bitter promise not to interfere. He never had been a good loser, not that any general ever was.
Lunch was spaghetti with Chianti for a toast to Schanke, Cohen, and Tracy.
Garlic tasted divine.
The sunset's brilliant colors over the lake filled Nick with long-forgotten reverence and he prayed, "...world without end. Amen."
ooo ~ Bless This Sign Of Glory ~ ooo
"I have a gift for you, Nicolas."
Ending her short visit, Janette held a clear bag. It contained a small box wrapped in dark brown, gold-lined paper, decorated with curled ribbon.
"This does not mean I approve, Nicolas." She placed the bag in his hand. "But I also cannot stop caring for you."
Her cool palm cupped his cheek for a moment, eyes bluer than the sky he'd been wrong about remembering holding his. She touched his mind, moved his heartbeat, and then was gone.
The antique crucifix in the box filled and did not burn his heart.
ooo ~ Be at My Side to Light and Guard ~ ooo
Nat removed her stethoscope. "Your numbers look great. How are you feeling?"
"Has Brian noticed?"
"You know Brian. Keen eye for evidence, not so much for live people. Now Schanke...he'd have been all over me." Nick picked at a spot where his gun slide had pinched his hand.
"I miss him too." Nat's hand covered his. "He would have been happy for you." She packed her bag and said, "I'm not Catholic, but if you're going to Mass, I wondered if you'd like company."
"You're my guardian angel whose name means birth. You gave me rebirth. I'd be honored."
ooo ~ In Nomine Patris ~ ooo
Centuries of habit made him pause before dipping his fingers in the font. The water was cool, soothing, a reminder of simpler days when his conscience had been lighter.
Natalie cleared her throat.
He crossed himself, the Latin he'd remembered but which had sickened him if it had crossed his lips warming him through. He barely remembered his father, who had taught him these words, and the return of that memory was precious.
At the pew he genuflected, followed Natalie in, and knelt, clasping his hands.
Salt tears trickled down his cheeks as peace washed over him that surpassed understanding.
ooo ~ Lord, Hear Our Prayer ~ ooo
The readings were from Psalms, "...Cast your burden on the Lord..." and First John "...we walk in the light, as he is in the light... If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins..." and the homily was of new beginnings born in hope and faith.
Nat squeezed his arm. "Apparently Father Rochefort thought you might come."
He'd followed the changes over the years. An academic interest, he'd insisted.
He murmured the old familiar, "Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipoténtem," before joining the congregation in the Nicene Creed with a firm voice.
ooo ~ Have Mercy On Us ~ ooo
Nick whispered to Natalie, explaining how the altar was prepared, just as he had for a very young Fleur so long ago.
Father Rochefort read the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament.
"Have mercy on us," they responded to each exultation.
The congregants gave hugs and handshakes: Signs of Christ's Peace, then kneeled before the solemnity of Communion.
Nick returned from receiving the Sacrament. He gripped Nat's hand, whispered, "I can never repay you any more than I can my debt of grace."
She squeezed back. "It wasn't me. You forgave yourself."
The concluding rite rang out. "Thanks be to God"