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Beauty for Ashes
Author's Note: One thing that really
disappointed me about the third installment in the Anne of Green Gables movie
series was the lack of Owen Ford and Leslie Moore! Their story has always
intrigued me, and is what makes Anne's House of Dreams so wonderful (I think).
So here I have written what might have been if they had been included in Anne of
Green Gables: The Continuing Story.
Also, to let you sort of catch up on where the story picks up: Dick Moore has
already been cured, and Leslie has accompanied Anne to the battlefield in search
of Gilbert. There is no Jack this time around... I have included Dominic,
though, but he is not directly related to the storyline. At any rate, I hope you
enjoy the story and I would love to hear what you think about it, so email me
your comments and criticisms!)
Beauty for Ashes -- Owen and Leslie's Story
The field hospital was everything such horrid places are supposed to be--
thoroughly lacking the glory that accompanies the tales of wartime heroes and
heroines. No brave knights in shining armor here, at least to the naked eye--
all glamour evaporated and all that remained was harsh reality.
In this particular habitation that had once been a fine township in the plains
of France, reality displayed itself in the form of drabness and filth, wails of
grieving women, cries of frightened children, and groans of dying men. Bombs
were ever exploding around the city, and yet by some unseen force were kept from
destroying it. But as twilight descended this particular night the danger was
increasing, and already frantic preparations were being made to move to the next
location. In the midst of the hustle and panic was a young woman of about
twenty-eight or twenty-nine years, though appearing much younger. Looking at her
might cause one to wonder how she came to be in such location, for she seemed so
out of place in her surroundings. Her natural, radiant beauty was nearly lost in
the drabness and her crown of golden curls was tucked unassumingly beneath her
nurse's cap. Her hands were clasped solemnly at the front of her stark uniform;
waiting for orders, possibly, but more for keeping her anxiety in check. But one
quick glance around showed Anne Blythe kneeling at the bedside of a wounded
woman and her baby, and she knew she must be of use as well.
Oh, why had she come to this place? She was not meant to be a nurse under such
inhuman conditions. War was not for the heroes in this place, and suffering was
"Ms. Moore!" The bark of the head nurse spurred Leslie to busy herself. Her eyes
searched; there were so many men beyond help that the ones less injured were
already hovered over by nurses. Then, suddenly, for some reason, a cot tucked
away in the corner of the tent caught her attention. The man did not look to be
injured too badly, so it was a mystery why he was not already being attended to.
Perhaps it because he was dressed a plain man, with no uniform or identification
to mark him as a soldier. But why would such a man be here?
As Leslie drew nearer to him, she perceived him to have been rescued from the
verge of some fire or explosion. His face and clothes were singed and covered in
soot, save for his right shoulder where blood stained a white bandage. He must
have already been attended to, then, Leslie realized, but the dressing was so
poorly and hastily done it was of hardly any good.
The man was drifting in and out of consciousness as Leslie knelt beside the cot
and quickly discarded the bandage. The sight underneath made her stomach turn
and for a moment she could not look. She reached instead for two cloths and
soaked them in a nearby water pail. She laid one on the man's forehead to cool
his fever and was steeling herself to cleanse the wound with the other when his
eyes fluttered open.
Leslie was of another mind until a hoarse whisper brought her head up. Had this
man said her name? It was ridiculous. How could this stranger possibly know...
Shocked, Leslie stared at the man. His features were blackened by soot, but the
eyes were so familiar... and with that she gasped and froze in disbelief.
"Owen-- Mr. Ford?"
She had never called him by his first name before, but the slip was lost on the
man as he lost consciousness once again. Leslie took the damp cloth from his
forehead and gently washed his face. As the features she knew so well were
revealed, a strange cloud of emotion filled her being.
She had never expected to see him again, certainly not here, not now. And yet
here he was, totally by chance left to her care. And such care she would give
him too-- gone was any horror at the sight of blood, gone was any weakness as to
knowing what to do. Gently and carefully-- it could be argued as lovingly also--
the wound was cleansed and bandaged. Yet it was done quickly, as Leslie
determined she must be gone before he awoke again. In his state he would forget
he had ever seen her, and in her state she must forget she had ever seen him.
But a loud explosion, so near the earth quaked and debris filled the air,
determined to change destiny. Instantly the panic intensified; there was no time
left and the camp must be departed immediately. Shouted orders rang above the
chaos, all of which Leslie numbly absorbed. Women and children would be loaded
into the trucks first, followed only by the doctors, and the soldiers that were
expected to live.
Soldiers! She wildly glanced around. Most of the men to be rescued had already
been; but here was Owen among the remainder. She knew the consequences if she
risked sneaking him onto the truck, for though a soldier in his condition might
be considered valuable a man so obviously not a soldier would not be considered
worth enough to rescue. But it only took a moment for her to realize she could
not leave without him. He was semi-conscious as she struggled to pull him to his
feet, and she knew they would never make it.
Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, Anne appeared at her side. "Leslie,
hurry! The truck is leaving!"
"Anne, help me!" Leslie cried and, even though her arms were filled with a baby,
Anne worked one free and took Owen's good arm over her shoulder. It was rough
going, but at last, and not too late, they got him to the trucks. He was loaded
inside, Leslie was thrust by unknown hands into the front seat of the makeshift
ambulance, and the caravan was on its way.
When the urgency had subsided somewhat, and the explosions faded away into the
darkness, the nurse at the wheel spoke. Leslie's head was reeling so, that it
took a moment to realize the nurse was Anne, and another moment to see the baby
she still awkwardly held as she drove.
"Oh, goodness! Here, Anne." Leslie relieved her friend of the crying infant,
cooing and cradling him until he quieted down.
"Thank you," murmured Anne, wearily pushing stray locks of red hair from her
"Who is he?"
"His mother died back there." Anne flinched over the horrid memory. "I promised
I would take care of him. His name is Dominic."
"Oh, the poor thing," Leslie mourned, cuddling the infant closer still. But her
mind was still very out of sorts, and not focused entirely on the baby.
Another long moment passed before a glance sideways told Anne that very thing.
"Leslie, are you all right?"
"I'm okay, Anne--" Leslie sighed and interrupted herself. "No, I'm not. I might
as well tell you so."
"What is it?"
Leslie sighed again, so Anne posed another question.
"Does it have to do with that soldier we rescued?"
Slowly Leslie nodded. "He's not a soldier. I- I don't know what a man like him
would be doing out in the middle of a battle, and so decidedly not a soldier.
Anne, thank- thank you for helping me save him."
"Is that what concerns you, that he's not a soldier? That we might get in
trouble for saving him?"
"No, Anne." Leslie spoke very softly, almost more to herself than to Anne. "I
don't care what trouble it causes. I could not leave him there to- to die. I- I
love him too much."
Anne had done very well at not letting surprise show on her face before, but now
shock reigned in her expression.
Leslie saw, and gave a short laugh that quickly ended in a sigh. "There now, and
I have shocked you, haven't I?"
"I- no- I- I-" stammered Anne. "Well, yes. But Leslie, how? Why?"
"It's a very long story."
"It's a very long drive," Anne countered, almost too serious to smile.
Leslie laughed, sighed, and pondered the night sky for a moment before beginning
her tale. "His name is Owen-- Owen Ford. He's a writer, and he came to Four
Winds the summer before you and Gilbert moved there. He came to write a novel,
and boarded with Dick and me. An exceptional man, and so talented! And so very
nice; a kindred spirit, as you would say, or-- as Miss Cornelia did say-- of the
race that knows Joseph. Quickly we became friends, he and I-- no, more than
that. We were chums-- almost like you and Gilbert. We did everything together--
clambakes, roaming along the shore, sailing, talking, laughing. That was the
most- most wonderful summer of my life!" exclaimed Leslie, with sudden calm
"It was like everything came alive to me. I was finally living, really living
instead of just surviving. Bless Captain Jim-- he had never found so many things
he needed Dick for than he did that summer. It was always me and Owen, or
rather, Mr. Ford and I. He was always Mr. Ford, and I was always Mrs. Moore, but
it was still wonderful.
"But-- Anne, now please don't think me a fool for this, though I probably
deserve to be called that and worse-- but I never ever dreamed I cared for him
until- until he left. Sure, we were friends, but the thought of loving him
simply never came to me. I was not free to love. And then-- I can still remember
that cruel moment and his cruel words-- the novel was finished, the summer was
over, and he must leave. And then, right then, Anne, I knew. Oh, Anne, I felt so
shameful, so wicked, so unwomanly for ever feeling such a thing! I'm sure my
face betrayed me, and it hurt me thousand times worse to think that Owen might
have seen it. Being a fool is a terrible, terrible thing!"
"Did he-- care for you?" Anne asked, and instantly knew she shouldn't have.
"Oh, no, no-- never," protested Leslie violently; perhaps too much so. "But he
could have, I just know it. He could have and wouldn't, because I wasn't free!
And so he went away in the coldest of manners, not even the polite farewell I
deserved as a friend. Oh, Anne, I just know he read my face that night, and what
he must have thought of me! What he must think of me now! That was even worse
than the thought of never seeing him again... just the thought that he might be
alive, in this world, and thinking ill of me! --I could not bear it.
"But my road was clear, my path straight. He left, and if the proportions of my
living that summer were indeed so great, then the dying was ten times greater.
Morning after morning, always the same, him never coming back. For the first
time in my life, I hated living. Mind you, I had merely despised and tolerated
it before, but now I hated myself, I hated Dick, and I hated anyone who was even
"Then no wonder you were so bitter towards life when Gil and I arrived," said
Anne with great empathy.
"Bitter towards life, she says! Really, Anne, you don't have to be so kind. The
truth is I hated you and Gilbert --especially you-- and treated you
frightfully." Leslie's golden head dipped reproachfully before she turned
grateful eyes toward Anne and murmured, "And now your friendship is dearer to me
than anything else in this world."
"Dear Leslie..." Anne smiled. "But go on with your story."
"There's not much more to tell that you don't know. Dick was cured-- or rather,
George was, and I came here with you."
"So, you never heard from Mr. Ford again?"
"Oh, he would write Miss Cornelia occasionally, and would always mention about
'giving Mrs. Moore my regards.' I hated that too-- I did not want regards. What
I did want, I could never have."
"But you are free now, Leslie."
"Yes, free--" the word was spoken with bitterness "--but free for what? He must
never know it!"
"Why ever not?" exclaimed Anne.
"I very well could not write him, or go dashing off around the world in search
of him! He did not care for me, anyway."
"But you said he could have cared, and now, when you least expected it,
Providence brought him back to you."
Leslie shook her head fiercely. "He would not know if we had not met today, and
this must not change anything."
At this, Anne laughed. Under other circumstances, Leslie would have been
delighted that her friend really, truly laughed, as she had not done for so many
months. But under circumstances such as these, it could hardly be considered a
delight. "Anne, I'm serious."
"Leslie, don't be a goose! Put away your tragic airs, my friend! Love has its
strange and wonderful ways, and you cannot fight them."
"Anne, he will not know," said Leslie stubbornly. "He will not see me again, for
that matter, and I hardly doubt that in his condition he will recollect seeing
"And so you intend to leave him to the mercy of the soldiers at the next camp--
of which he is not one, I might remind you. He would not last a day, as soon as
they found him, without identification or any such valuable thing." Anne had
said this in half jest, but with the next sentence she grew very quiet and
serious. "Leslie, do not let him slip away. If it were Gilbert, do you think I
could walk away and leave him? I would give anything for it to be him. Do not
let Owen go, Leslie. Do not."
Suddenly Leslie realized the night was strangely still, totally belying the war
that seemed to be constantly surrounding them. Here there was nothing; a blanket
of stars, granted, and a sliver of a summer moon, but besides the rattle of the
old truck there was no sound to break the peacefulness that accompanied such a
night. And as Leslie let Anne's words sink in, peace filled her as well. Once
again, her road was clear. Still not easy, though consisting of far more joy,
but always clear.
* * *
By dawn the next morning, the caravan had reached their destination. As the
nurses were sent to look after the new wounded, Leslie wondered that what had
seemed so clear in the mystery of night now was hazy and confusing in the
reality of day. She couldn't help feeling her part as a fool, and doubted that
her decision was right, but found her way to Owen's side nonetheless.
Her doubts quickly vanished upon seeing his condition. His fever had worsened
terribly, and the wound was showing signs of infection. No one else would have
bothered to care for him, and now he needed her. And it was such a wonderful
thing to be needed.
But by that night, despite constant care on Leslie's part, Owen's condition had
worsened still. Exhausted physically and mentally, Leslie had never felt so
helpless. There must be something she could do, yet figure it out she could not.
And when Anne came to relieve her in the quietness of night, she poured out her
Anne listened sympathetically, then whispered a plan. "Dominic's mother told me
of an aunt in London." The infant had not left her arms since their arrival that
morning, and even now as Anne spoke, he was cuddled close for another night .
"She asked me to take Dominic there as soon as possible. I know our duty here,
but it seems there are plenty of nurses at this camp. I got permission for us to
leave tomorrow, and we can sneak Owen along. In his condition, I'm sure he will
not be missed."
"Oh, Anne! You're an angel!" cried Leslie, then lowered her voice as Anne
shushed her. "In London he will have a much better chance for getting well."
"Yes, but remember, his leaving must be a secret."
"Do not worry, Anne. No one will know."
* * *
The plan came off perfectly, better than either Anne or Leslie had dared hope.
Their arrival in London was without suspicion, and inexpensive lodgings were
soon secured. The next night passed with much less excitement than the last, and
in the morning Anne bundled Dominic up and the two of them set out in search of
the elusive aunt.
Owen had not yet shown much improvement, and Leslie was more than content to
stay and keep watch over him. She kept cool rags on his forehead and fresh
bandages on the wound, and comforted and prayed with all that was within her. It
was hard to say but that the latter wasn't the most effective, and by
mid-afternoon he was much improved.
* * *
It was into a haze of pain and fatigue that he awoke, and at first he was nearly
convinced he was in heaven. Then vision came more clearly to him, and the only
angel was in the form of the woman by his bedside. It was no wonder he mistook
her for such a heavenly being, as the sunlight filtering through the sooty
window gave her a soft radiance and her hair appeared as a glistening halo. His
memory suddenly came flooding back, and to him she was an angel.
The woman had apparently fallen asleep in the chair by his bed, and his whisper
now moved her from sleep. She was so tired it took a moment for her to focus on
him, and when she seemed to realize he was awakened also she sat upright with a
"Owen!" In her joy of seeing him conscious, the name simply came as natural to
her lips as it did in her thoughts. And the effect of it was not lost on him; he
was no longer Mr. Ford, and now she would never be Mrs. Moore. He had only
whispered it as not to startle her, and now with her response it would never
cross his lips again.
"Leslie?" he ventured. There was that beautiful smile he had so long sought to
evoke, and instantly she moved from the chair to perch on the edge of the bed.
With a practiced, but trembling hand she felt his forehead, and was obviously
relieved to find that his fever had broken.
"How do you feel?" she asked gently.
"Like I've been hit by a train," he replied, half in jest. "Other than that,
"Shhh, don't talk too much until we get some nourishment into you," Leslie said,
smiling at him for another long moment before getting up to heat some broth.
Owen's eyes never left her as she moved about the room. She was like an angel to
him, and he wasn't entirely convinced as of yet that this was not some cruel
dream. And then, suddenly, he became aware of his surroundings, and was confused
as to what was going on.
"What happened? Where are we?" He tried to sit up, and Leslie had to hasten over
to settle him back down.
"Shh, everything is all right. You were injured on the battlefield, and now we
are in London."
"But what are you doing here?"
Leslie did not answer immediately. She poured the steaming broth into a bowl,
retrieved a spoon, and came to perch on his bed again. Spoonful by spoonful she
got the liquid into Owen, and slowly began to tell how she came to be there,
though consciously leaving out anything pertaining to Dick, or George, Moore.
When she had finished, Owen searched her face. "Where is Mr. Moore, then, if you
are here?" he asked innocently.
Leslie spooned the last of the broth to his lips, and as he swallowed she
murmured that Mr. Moore was not fit to fight and had remained in Canada. All of
which was true of George Moore, of course, but guilt still nagged at her mind.
Wisely Owen said no more, and instead related how he had come to be there. He
was a war correspondent, which explained his not being in soldiers dress, and
referred to the old adage about the pen being mightier than the sword and it was
his way of fighting this war.
The exertion of talking, together with the soothing effects of nourishment,
brought heaviness to his eyes. He drifted off into a deep sleep, and Leslie was
left with her own thoughts as she watched him.
* * *
Days passed with increasing regularity. A home for Dominic had yet to have been
discovered, and Anne had resorted to following up the smallest of leads on his
aunt. Owen was recovering quite well, much credit to Leslie's devotion. As
Leslie was never far from his side, the two shared many conversations during his
During those times she could see something deep in his gaze, something that gave
her the feeling that if he knew she was free he would give himself to loving her
just as deeply as she loved him. But she had yet to tell him of George Moore,
and though those times attacked her resolutions, she determined that now was not
the time for him to know. It was hard to say just why she felt that way, but she
justified it to herself, and so nothing was said on the subject.
But again, destiny has its own way of doing things.
A little more than a week had passed. Owen was now well enough to get up and
stretch his legs around the room, and at this particular moment was sitting up
in bed and begging Leslie to allow him to do just that.
"In a little while, in a little while!" exclaimed Leslie, and Owen knew the
rewards of her golden laugh. "What a patient I have on my hands! Now, before you
do any such thing, I must change your bandage, sir."
Owen tried not to wince at the thought. He knew Leslie was always as gentle as
possible, but it was the one torturous routine that not even her presence could
completely make up for.
Today was no different. Owen had to stubbornly set his jaw to keep from crying
out in pain at times, and each time he did that Leslie nearly cried with him.
But she had become expert at the task, and it was over quite soon. Owen
collapsed back on the pillow, not releasing Leslie's hand from where he had
squeezed it at the last wince of pain.
Leslie was quite aware of that fact and would have sat there forever, just like
that, had she not had other tasks to do. Instead she slowly pulled her hand
free, retrieved a glass of water, and came back to stand at Owen's side.
Tenderly she lifted his head from the pillow and cradled him in her arm.
"Here, this will help you get some rest," she murmured. Owen swallowed the pill
she gave him, and drank deeply from the glass of water she lifted to his lips.
His head was still resting against her shoulder, and Leslie found herself
looking deep into his eyes.
"Leslie--" The drug was taking rapid affect and already he felt drowsy. "There's
something I want... you to see... in my coat... pocket..."
Owen's eyes closed and Leslie laid his head on the pillow. Had he said his coat
pocket? She went to see; yes, there was something there. A tattered envelope
addressed to him-- this must be what he wanted her to see. The letter inside had
obviously been read many times, and she was careful unfolding the delicate
sheets as she took up residence in her chair. Leslie found the signature on the
last page familiar, and was quite bewildered to see it. What on earth could Miss
Cornelia have to write that Owen would find of such great interest? With Owen's
breathing filling the room, she began to read.
It was dated three months prior, and the how-do-you-do's and niceties were very
brief as Miss Cornelia got right to her point. But nothing could have prepared
Leslie for Miss Cornelia's point-- imagine her surprise as the letter began to
detail everything about Dick Moore being cured, and not really Dick but his
cousin George, and also the situation it had left Leslie in. Indeed, it did not
state right out that she was free and Owen would be welcomed as her suitor if he
so desired, for Miss Cornelia was far too clever for that. But it did not take
much reading between the lines to understand that her advice was come back and
The letter then ended on a friendly note, and Leslie was left to the emotions
pressing in upon her. So he knew all along! Never had Leslie felt so ashamed, so
destroyed. He had known-- about everything-- and had let her carry on as he if
had not! What he must think of her! But why had he shown her the letter at all,
except perhaps to make her taste of her own folly?
And taste she must. Hot tears stung her eyes as she leapt from her seat. She had
to get away, anywhere, just out of this room, and try to regain her composure.
Owen was sleeping soundly, Anne would not return for another hour, and no one
would be the wiser. Hastily she departed, and the door closed silently behind
An hour later, the door opened and slammed behind Anne and Dominic, jarring Owen
awake with a start.
"Oh, dear me, Owen, I'm sorry!" Anne apologized when she saw what she had done.
"No, Anne, it's okay." Owen sat up and rubbed his head. Then he squinted against
the afternoon sun and peered about the room. "Where's Leslie?"
"Leslie? I don't know." Anne too looked about the room, then ducked into the
adjoining parlor to search there. She returned puzzled. "I thought she was
"Oh no," groaned Owen, a sudden thought striking him. He was out of bed in an
instant, feeling the pockets of the coat draped over a chair.
"What is it?" asked Anne worriedly, coming to his side.
"She read the letter."
Anne frowned. "You didn't want her to see a letter?"
"No, I wanted her to see it! But I didn't want her to take it the way I should
have known she would have taken it!" All this was hastily and incoherently
explained as Owen tugged on his coat. "She must have been very upset to leave
like this! I've got to go find her, Anne."
"But, Owen--" Anne shifted Dominic to her other arm and hurried after him.
"Wait!" But it was too late-- he was gone and she was left to puzzle over the
* * *
Owen sighed. He had been searching for well over an hour, scouring nearly every
city street, and not a trace of Leslie anywhere. He could not be angry with her;
in fact, how else could he have expected her to react? Oh, why had he let her
read the letter when he was not able to explain it! It had been completely the
work of the moment, his head resting in her arms-- and he had acted stupidly.
She must have taken it all wrong, and now he doubted if he could ever make her
"Leslie! Leslie!" Still no answer. Dark clouds were rolling in, and thunder
rumbled in the distance. He had to find her before the storm struck. But where
could she be? He had worked his way to the park now, and was nearly on the edge
of giving up, when a familiar figure caught his eye. "Leslie!"
He caught up with her on a cobblestone path lined with giant shade trees and
overlooking a pond. She was standing there as she had been for apparently quite
some time, peering into the rippling water. "Leslie, where have you been? I've
been worried sick!"
Painfully Leslie turned to face him and when her large, teary eyes met his, he
read the confusion and questions reflected in them. "You knew?" she whispered,
her chin trembling and eyes smarting.
Instantly Owen felt the depth of pain he had caused her, however unknowingly,
and the vulnerability of her shattered soul. "Leslie--"
"You knew, all this time, and you never said a word?" The words were spoken
without accusation, but with enough quiet force to grieve Owen worse than if he
had been attacked.
Owen tried to take her hands, but she pulled away. "I'm so sorry, Leslie, I was
so wrong not to tell you. I-I guess I only wanted to hear you tell me. I thought
you didn't care because you didn't say anything, but then, this afternoon, the
look in your eyes... well, I tricked myself into believing you did care, that's
all. And I'm very sorry." He turned away, placing his hands on the low rail and
staring off to the horizon.
All of Leslie's defenses crumbled. The blame was at her feet as well, she knew,
and she had hurt him as unintentionally as he had hurt her. She found herself
reaching out to lay a trembling hand on his arm. "But, Owen, I do care."
His gaze found hers again, and in them he realized the earnestness of her words.
"Then why didn't you tell me?"
Fresh tears began to well in Leslie's eyes, hot against her tear-streaked face.
"For so many years, since I was but a girl, it seems, I've been Mrs. Dick Moore.
I've had my whole life decided for me, a life I hated but was willing to
sacrifice for. I've always been Mrs. Moore, poor dear Mrs. Moore. And suddenly I
am Mrs. Moore no longer. I don't know who I am! I suppose that's why I convinced
myself not to tell you-- I was supposed to be free, but freedom was the last
thing in the world I felt. I wanted to find who I really am-- who I was meant to
be. And I don't know!"
By now Leslie was sobbing unashamedly into her hands. Without a second thought
Owen pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her, unaware of any amount of
pain it caused his wounded shoulder. He only wanted to comfort her somehow, but
knew of nothing else to do but hold her until her sobs lessened. And when they
finally did, and Leslie seemed to become aware she was in his arms, he allowed
her to step away from him.
Her hands went to brush her cheeks, but Owen caught them first and clasped them
tight. "Leslie--" he paused, waiting for her whole attention to be focused on
him. "Leslie, you know, don't you? You must know I've loved you from the very
first! Love you-- it seems too weak a word! I loved you when you were Mrs.
Moore-- it was wicked of me, I know, but I couldn't help myself. I love you now,
and I'll love you forever."
A low rumble of thunder punctuated Owen's declaration just as the first drops of
rain began to fall from the sky. But he failed to notice, as Leslie was standing
very near now, her whole form taut with emotion as she tried to absorb his
"I know who you are, Leslie, and I know I want you to be. You said you cared-- I
know you care, your face betrays your heart-- but I want to hear you say it."
And Leslie said something in a very low and tremulous voice. One breathtaking
moment, one heartbeat away, and their lips met.
Right then and there, something released deep inside Leslie. Suddenly she didn't
care that the pelting rain was soaking them to the skin. She would not care if
that moment ever ended, if Owen's arms ever freed her. And it was then that she
realized that she did not need to be freed. She was free-- joyously free-- on
the inside, and that was all that mattered. That, and knowing that Owen loved
her. Really loved her-- had always loved her!
By the time the kiss ended, Leslie had never felt so ecstatically alive from
head to toe. She tightened her own arms around Owen's neck, bestowing on him all
the love and joy that filled her shining eyes. And it was all he needed to
reveal what he had meant before, about who he wanted her to be.
And be it, she would. The skies could continue to empty their furor; the world
could fight its cruel war forever; but all was in vain for the two lovers
standing on the cobblestone walk. For they would soon be husband and wife.
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