Title: God's Trials
Author: A. Magiluna Stormwriter
Email: stormwriter@shatterstorm.net
Date Written: 14 April 2006
Word Count: 570
Rating: PG
Pairing: Denis Arilan, Thomas Cardiel
Category: character development
Summary: An innocent question brings out some not so innocent feelings.
Archive: ShatterStorm Productions -- Doggie Duo's Fanfic only. All others, ask first.

Disclaimer: The characters, setting, and world involved in the Deryni universe completely belong to Katherine Kurtz. I'm only borrowing the characters for a little workout, but I'll certainly put them back just the way I found them. Thanks!

Author's Notes: This was written in about 2 hours. It was supposed to be a simple 100 word drabble for becky_h, who'd asked for Denis/Thomas over here. It was supposed to be a simple little conversation in 100 words. Yeah, Denis Arilan doesn't do anything simply, now does he? *chuckles*

I love finding new muses to play with…

"God's Trials"
by A. Magiluna Stormwriter

"So tell me, Denis," he asked finally as we settled before the hearth. "Do you truly think it's been worth it all these years? The secrecy? The threat of imminent death?"

I chuckled softly and handed him his mulled wine. "Is it always so black and white for you, Thomas?"

He shrugged nonchalantly and sipped at his goblet. "What can I say, Denis? The whole ordeal intrigues me, on both ecclesiastic and secular levels. I would be remiss if I said I hadn't thought of what it must be like to do the Lord's work with such a gift as He's given you and your brethren."

I couldn't help the snort of derision at that point. "Would that your fellow brethren among the Bishopric felt the same way. I risk my life daily. Mind you, I do it willingly. But I would certainly like to know that there's some sort of respite for myself and my Deryni brethren of the cloth. Or for Deryni of all professions in the Eleven Kingdoms. Why is it that we must suffer such persecutions for transgressions that have already been paid for in innocent blood." I forced a deep breath and a quick Centering spell. "Forgive me, Thomas. I shouldn't be taking this out on you. This is merely something that truly raises my gorge." And then I snorted again. "Merely. This is merely nothing."

"If it's God's will that this persecution continue, who are we to think otherwise?"

"Why don't you try being the persecuted one for a while, Thomas? Tell me how it feels then?"

He set his goblet aside, stared at me for a long moment from behind the screen of steepled fingers. I weathered the gaze stoically. "Do you compare yourself to Job then, Denis? You, who are Bishop of Dhassa. You, the person who has single-handedly brought how many new Deryni priests into God's fold?"

"And how many of them will die if they're discovered? How many of them will give up their brethren of the cloth, including me, when introduced to the not-so-delicate nature of merasha? Do you understand what it is we have to live with?"

The surprise was clear on his face. It wasn't often that I railed so vehemently at him. He held my gaze as he picked up his goblet, swirled the contents, and took a healthy swallow. "And have you forgotten that by virtue of knowing this information, as both your friend and your confessor, I am implicated just as deeply as you are? Did you forget that I have been approving of your choices, knowing full well that I am willfully participating in the illegal ordinations of Deryni priests? Have you also forgotten that I stand to be burned at the stake as a heretic just as much as you do? I admit you have the lion's share of suffering in this situation, Denis, but you are not the only one. Have you considered the fact that our Lord may have given you these trials for a reason?"

In fact, I had considered that very thought. Far more times than I dared admit. The memory of Jorian's death at the stake wouldn't let me forget…ever. It was for Jorian that I continued to bring young Deryni into the fold of God's consecrated priesthood. And it was for Jorian that I would continue to bear the brunt of these trials God gave me.