The Shadow of Joanna

by LinworthNewt [Reviews - 4]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Angst, Drama, Het, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Even if the events depicted are purely my imagination, what happened to Princess Joanna, sister of King Richard, is all true.

Joanna of England, one time Queen of Sicily, Countess of Toulouse, seventh child of King Henry II and Eleanore of Aquitaine, favourite sister of Richard the Lionheart. Born in October of 1164 at the Chateau d’Angers in Anjou, she spent her childhood in her mother’s courts at Poitiers and Winchester, learning the arts of running a prosperous aristocratic household, and undoubtedly absorbing more than a little of her infamous mother’s defiant spirit and cunning.

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In a borrowed villa, north of Rome:

‘O tempora! O mores!’ Ian intoned, grinning down at Barbara as she cleared up the shattered remains of the vase that she had quite accidentally broken over his head rather than the slaver’s who captured them.

She paused to look up at him mischievously. ‘One more time, I dare you, Ian, and I’ll go and find another vase! I don’t care if you did save me from Nero!’

‘I only had to save you because you knocked me out with that thing in the first place!’ he shot back.

Barbara was incredulous. ‘Well, if you had not had so much wine to drink-‘

‘ME?! What about you?! It was your aim that was off!’ Ian held up his blistered palms for evidence. ‘Do you have any idea how hard it is to hold a sword and fight for your life after rowing in a Roman galley? My hands have suffered enough! YOU clean it up, and if I feel like musing in bad Latin quotes, then by god, I will!’

Sighing and rolling her eyes, Barbara made to continue her argument, but suddenly, Ian’s lips had found hers, and she jerked back in surprise. Their unblinking gazes met each other, and then Ian reached out and pulled her towards him to kiss her again, more passionately.

When he finally stopped to let her breathe, Barbara did not move, only whispering one word: ‘Ian.’

It was as much consent as she could give, acknowledging all that had passed between them in the last year and a half with the Doctor. The proper young (unmarried) woman that she was, Barbara had never done this before, but many men had tried since she had been pulled away into time and space, the mad Emperor of Rome being the latest. If anyone was to be the first, then let it be Ian, and let it always be him.

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In February of 1177, the Princess Joanna, not yet even 12 years old, arrived in the court of her new husband, William II of Sicily, and was crowned the Queen consort of that southern Italian kingdom. Though the culture and climate was no doubt a shock to the young girl who had grown up in the courts of England and northern France, it was not her place to complain or show anything but regal dignity. Such was the duty of all Europe’s princesses. History would never record how many nights Joanna might have laid awake crying for her lost home and family. All that scribes and rulers of Sicily cared about what that she was a good queen who brought a rich dowry and provided an heir for the kingdom.

She bore only one son, Bohemond, in 1181, when she was barely yet 16, but the boy soon died, and no more living children followed. In 1189, at the still young age of 24, Queen Joanna of Sicily was widowed by the death of the husband she loved. To add insult to injury, the usurper of William II’s throne, his uncle Tancred, proceeded to hold the ex-Queen and her dowry hostage in Palermo.


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‘So you got to meet the Princess Joanna, while I only took her name?’ Barbara noted, sitting down on her ergonomic bed with a sigh, and tried massage away the pain she felt in her tortured limbs.

‘She was absolutely amazing, Barbara! A sight to behold!’ Vicki continued to rave about the beautiful and magnificent Lady Joanna, who had looked after the young girl in the Jaffa Court of King Richard. ‘When Richard offered to marry her to Saladin’s brother, the anger in Joanna’s voice shook the very walls of the castle! I’d rather have had the king angry at us than her on any day!’ She stopped a looked at Barbara. ‘I can’t believe anyone thought you were her. I mean, she was radiant, and powerful, and could stop any man in his tracks!’

‘Is that so?’ Barbara said mindlessly, wincing as she drew off the silly fancy dress shoes she had been given to wear while briefly a prisoner of Saladin. ‘I wish I’d had a chance to meet her instead of El Akir.’

Vicki’s exuberance was tempered now, remembering that Barbara has suffered far more than all of them on this last adventure, though she did not know the details. ‘I’m sorry, Barbara. Do you want me to get you some of those pills you gave me before, that As’pa’reen?’

Barbara shook her head wearily. ‘I already took some.’ Looking up at the young girl, she smiled, and tried to pretend that every muscle of her body, and that her dignity, did not hurt as much as it did. ‘Never mind. Tell me more about Joanna and the Crusaders that you met.’

‘Actually,’ Vicki said slowly, taking off her courtly veil, but making no effort to change out of the rest of her costume, obviously in love with her Crusading garb. ‘I was hoping that you could tell me more about Joanna. I remember having to learn about her brother, of course; we had to learn all of the rulers of Britain. But not her. There was nothing about her. What did she do? I’m sure it must have been great; nothing could stop Joanna, I’m sure of it!’

Though she desperately wanted a shower, a meal, and a rest, the teacher’s spirit in Barbara commanded that she answer. ‘There isn’t much to tell, really, because so little knowledge of her survived.’ Looking at Vicki’s eyes, and the radiant hope for a grand story about a valiant princess that she saw there, made Barbara’s heart sink. ‘Are you sure you want to hear this now, Vicki?’

The girl sat down on the edge of her bed and pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her chin on them. ‘Of course! I’m not tired. I’m dying to know!’

‘It’s just…’ Barbara paused to look for the right words, tried to imagine how the Doctor would put it most gently. ‘It’s just that history is not always kind to its heroes and heroines.’

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Already at the head of his Crusading army, Richard I, newly crowned King of England, rode into Italy in 1190, intent on freeing his beloved sister (and reclaiming her dowry) before riding on to the Holy Lands. In the face of such a powerful force, Tancred had little choice but to accede to all of Richard’s demands. The Dowager Queen Eleanor soon followed to Messina in March 1191, accompanied by Richard’s fiance, Berengaria of Navarre. It was the first time mother and daughter had seen each other in over 14 years, and history had nothing to say about the events of their reunion. What does a daughter say to a mother that she has not seen for half of her life?

It was short lived, though, as the elderly Eleanor returned to France, while Joanna was enlisted as a companion for Berengaria and journeyed to the Holy Land with the royal retinue, following in the footsteps of her mother, when Eleanor accompanied her former husband, Kink Louis VII of France, on the Second Crusade. The sea crossing was fraught with bad weather, and Joanna and Berengaria’s ship was blown off course and washed up on the Isle of Cyprus.

The local despot, Isaac Comnenus, made to capture the stranded princesses, but in true heroic fashion, Richard’s fleet made a timely appearance to rescue them, though Richard lost much of his treasure in the process. The family restored to his care, Richard sailed on for Acre and Jaffa.


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‘I had no idea!’ Vicki breathed, held in awed attention by Barbara’s story. ‘I didn’t have enough of a chance to talk with her. Oh, I wish I’d had more time with Joanna. Just think; I could have filled in all of those gaps the historians could not!’

Barbara nodded, the squeezed her eyes shut against the pain she felt radiating up from her back. Maybe she should ask the Doctor if he had something stronger than aspirin. All of those hours she had spent either tied up or on the run in the ancient Holy Lands had taxed Barbara more than any other journey in her life. She had barely had time to recover from their battle against the Zarbi when the TARDIS had sent down and those cruel Saracen hands had snatched her in the woods outside of Jaffa.

‘Are you all right?’ Vicki asked, her tiny voice penetrating the ring of rushing blood in Barbara’s ears.

‘Of course. Just a little tired,’ the young teacher answered, trying to forge ahead. ‘You know what happened next, of course, how Richard tried to end the war by offering Joanna’s hand in marriage to Saphadin. You know better than I of the epic struggle of wills between brother and sister when she refused.’

A fresh wave of pain, accompanied by nausea, cut Barbara off again.

‘Really, you’re not alright,’ Vicki insisted, rising from her seat and placing a hand on Barbara’s shoulder. ‘Why don’t I go get something from the Doctor for you to take while you rest?’

‘No.’ The refusal burst out of Barbara without her consciously deciding upon it. She stood up on shaky legs and made her way to the washroom. ‘I just need a cool shower, and then a good sleep. There’s no need to bother anyone else about it.’

Before Vicki could make an objection or further offer of help, Barbara closed and locked the door. She made it to the sink just in time to start heaving up the meager bits of food she had been fed by the girl Safiya, and the other hostages of El Akir’s harem.

Hearing this through the door, Vicki started to knock insistently, and called once more, ‘Barbara, are you okay in there?’

‘Just leave me alone, please, Vicki!’ she shouted back, turning on the tap to hide the sound of her further vomiting. She was relieved to not hear any further intrusion from Vicki, but the relief turned to horror when Barbara felt a warm liquid coursing down her legs, and saw the front of her Saracen gown grow red with blood.

Collapsing to the floor, Barbara curled into a ball and allowed herself to sob uncontrollably in the abject misery that she felt. More than anything in the world, at this moment, Barbara Wright wanted her mother. But Joan Wright was a million years, and a million light years, distant.

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When Richard was forced to admit his defeat at the hands of Saladin in 1192, he left the Holy Lands in the company of his new wife and sister, and the surviving knights of his Crusade. The widowed Joanna, in political and marital limbo, took up residence with her mother and the nuns at the Abbey of Fontevrault, where she happily remained until agreeing to be the fourth wife of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, in October of 1196.

It is hard to know if this was a match of love or politics. Maybe in Raymond, Joanna saw someone as strong and intelligent as her own father and brother had been, a man worthy of her intellect and talents. Or maybe Joanna was just trying to help her brother hold on to his flagging French domains.

But history knows this: Joanna was not well treated at the hands of this new husband who had repudiated three wives before her. Raymond VI of Toulouse would be the death of this once powerful and vibrant woman.


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Vicki had to decide (though she normally would have gone to the Doctor) that in this instance, she should seek out Ian. Only he was capable of talking to Barbara when she was in a bad mood. Surely he could coax her out of the washroom so that the Doctor could take a look at her.

‘Ian?’ The young man jumped at the sound of her voice, having been enjoying some peace and quiet and a large meal from the TARDIS’s food replicator.

‘Hmmm?’ he responded, swallowing the mouthful of Sunday roast in a cube. ‘Not changed yet?’

Vicki looked down at her dress and said sheepishly, ‘I like it. Much better than being a boy. You haven’t changed yet either.’ She wrinkled her nose, and added in her sometimes tactless fashion, ‘Or had a good wash.’

Ian cast her a withering stare. ‘My stomach demanded caring for first. All else can wait.’

Vicki looked down at her feet for a second, working up her courage, then said all in one breath, ‘I think Barbara is really very ill and she’s locked herself in the washroom and she won’t talk to me and she really looked just awful Ian so do you think that you could go talk to her?’

Before Vicki had finished Ian was already up and moving towards the girls’ quarters. Vicki stood in the doorway and watched as Ian knocked gently. ‘Barbara?’ No answer. More knocking. ‘Barbara, it’s Ian.’

‘I know who it is!’ Ian jerked his head back from the door at the venom and pain he heard in that voice which barely resembled his friend’s. ‘Now please, just leave me alone.’

No so easily deterred, Ian fetched out his pen knife and opened the control panel in the wall next to the door and shorted out the electro-magnetic latch. Vicki made to come forward, but Ian waved her away with a stern look, and dejected, she sulked off. Ian forced the door closed behind him, then turned in horror to find Barbara crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood, moaning in agony.

‘Oh god,’ he whispered, kneeling beside her and brushing her thick tresses back so that he could see her face. ‘Barbara, what’s happened? How did you hurt yourself?’

Barbara tried to shrug him off and curled more tightly into herself, mumbling for him to leave her alone. ‘Like hell I will, Barbara,’ Ian insisted, forcing her to turn over so that he could hold her in his arms and look for the source of the blood. ‘Let me help you.’

‘’Help’?’ Barbara hissed, her red-rimmed eyes blazing into his. ‘This is your fault!’

‘W-what?’ Ian sputtered, nearly dropping Barbara back onto the floor. ‘How?’

‘This is punishment, for what happened at the Villa,’ she answered in a barely audible voice, letting her eyes close so she would not have to see his reaction. ‘I got pregnant, Ian. But everything that happened since, everything I had to endure from El Akir… it was too much, for both of us.’

Gobsmacked, Ian did not know what to say. Neither of them had spoken about what had happened in Rome since; there had not even really been a chance to. It was an unspoken acknowledgment between them that though it had happened, their life aboard the TARDIS really did not permit them to carry on in such a fashion. Ian cursed himself with every foul word that he knew, wishing that he had never allowed himself to get so carried away.

Setting Barbara gently on the tiles once more, he went and turned on the shower head, and then pulled Barbara into the warm stream of water, sitting with his back to the wall and and holding her to his chest. Barbara was too weak to object, and let Ian’s battle-worn hands try to wash the blood from her legs and dress. ‘We’re going to get through this, Barbara, I promise. You’ve always been so strong. Nothing has ever stopped you. You’ll be okay. Please, be okay.’

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Within a year of her marriage, Joanna bore a son, Raymond VII, future count of Toulouse, quickly followed by a daughter, Mary. The physical toll on Joanna’s body was matched by the emotional toll of her unhappy marriage to Count Raymond, whom she had grown to fear. The young woman who had once stood as Queen of Sicily at the age of 12, and stared down both Saracens and her own brother Richard, now lived in torment in her own court. By 1199 she was pregnant for a third time in as many years, and her husband, for reasons unknown, accused Joanna of conspiring with the rebellious lords of Saint-Felix-de-Caraman, and abandoned her to face them alone.

Never one to back down from a battle, as the blood of her mother and father coursed through her veins, Joanna attempted to put down the rebellion herself. But at the castle of Les Casses, she was betrayed by her own knights, and barely escaped with her life, burned when her encampment was set ablaze.

Joanna fled north, seeking the protection of her brother the King at Chateau de Chalus-Charbrol. But she was too late; Richard had died several weeks before. With nowhere else to turn, Joanna returned to her last haven on earth, the Abbey at Fontevrault where her mother was.

Eleanor, nearly 80 years of age now, who had already buried seven of her ten children, could see that her heavily gravid and youngest daughter was not long for this world, and that she would have to bury yet another.


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Neither of them spoke for a long time; Ian just stroked Barbara’s abdomen mindlessly, trying to ease the cramping that was ripping her apart from the inside, flushing out the rejected life. Slowly, her breathing became more regular, and he no longer felt the spasms of her muscles beneath his fingers. The water that was running down the drain now ran clear.

‘Open your eyes, Barbara,’ Ian whispered, resting a cool hand against her face and rubbing his thumb across her cheek. ‘Open your eyes. It’s okay, now, I promise.’

‘How would you know?’ she finally growled, though there was more sorrow than anger in her voice. Ian reached up to turn off the water, but he could still see that the droplets on her face were from tears.

‘I’m so sorry.’ Ian did not know what else to say. He could be loquacious about many things, but for this moment, he had no words. So he placed a comforting kiss on Barbara’s forehead, and hugged her a little tighter.

Opening her eyes at least, she added, ‘So am I.’

‘What for?’ Ian felt like he should be doing all of the apologizing. He was the one who had gone too far in Rome, who had allowed Barbara to be carried off and tortured by Saracens. A questioned formed in his mind, one that he could not stop for voicing aloud. ‘Did you want it?’

'How can I want something I did not know I had?'

Ian persisted. 'But now?'

She hesitated. ‘This is no time or place for a baby.’

‘That’s not an answer.’

‘We’re not even married.’

‘Barbara-‘

Yes. I wanted it. I really did.’ And then she broke into a fresh round of sobs. Ian rocked Barbara gently, and let her cry.

‘It’s okay. There will be others.' Ian was not sure if he was saying this for her benefit, or his own. 'When the time is right, it’ll happen. And you will be a wonderful mother.’

Barbara looked up at him with her sad, dark eyes and tried to pull herself together, a glimmer of her inner iron reappearing. ‘Is that a proposal?’

Soaking wet in a bloody shower, dressed in ragged Twelfth century costumes, was not the best setting, so all he said was, ‘It’s a promise.’

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Though still married, and very pregnant, the dying wish of Joanna was to be shriven of her sins and admitted to the holy order of nuns in Fontevrault Abbey. Eleanor, who had been a strong patroness of the order for decades, saw to it that her daughter’s final desire was not denied.

Joanna had to be propped up in a chair to take her vows, she was so weak. She died in childbirth soon after, on the 4th of September, 1199. She was only 33 years old. Her son, Richard, lived just long enough to be baptised, and then was buried with his mother.

Eleanor never again had to face the pain of laying another child to rest, dying herself in April of 1204, outlived only by her son, King John and fourth daughter, also called Eleanor. She was 82 years old.

Joanna’s only surviving son, Raymond VII, showed an amazing amount of dedication to the mother he never knew, naming his only daughter after Joanna, and having his own body interred next to hers in Fontevrault.


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‘Are you two all right in there?’ Vicki called through the door.

‘How long have we been in here?’ Barbara asked weakly. Ian shrugged. Neither of them had a watch. Time seemed so relevant and yet personally irrelevant on the TARDIS. ‘What will we say?’

Ian shifted his weight, his legs having long ago gone numb, and slowly got to his feet, making sure he was steady before helping Barbara to hers. ‘You were ill, but you’re feeling better now. Nothing else needs to be said.’

Looking Barbara up and down, wet and in blood soaked garb, he led her over to a bench to sit. ‘Why don’t you stay in here, and I’ll have Vicki pass in a change of clothes for you. How about that?’ Barbara nodded her head wearily. ‘And then I think you should take a long, long nap.’

Reaching out to take Ian’s hand suddenly, she looked up at him, and asked, as if the answer the most important thing in the universe, ‘Are you all right, Ian?’

He smiled and kissed the crown of her head. ‘I am so long as you are. Is there anything else I can get you?'

I want my mother. 'No. But thank you, Ian. For everything.'

Vicki looked at Ian with grave concern in her young face when he finally emerged. ‘Is Barbara going to be okay?’

‘Of course,’ he pronounced firmly. ‘It was just a… thing, from all that exposure to the sun. But she’ll be okay now. Maybe you could just pass her in a change of clothes?’

‘Sure,’ Vicki agreed, heading to Barbara’s closet, then pausing to reconsider Ian. ‘Why are you all wet?’

‘You told me I needed a wash, didn’t you?’ And he left it at that.

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A day later, when they were all changed, and refreshed, standing around the TARDIS console, the four travelers jumped a time track as they were pulled onto the planet of Xeros; arriving without arriving, they walked as mere ghosts upon the landscape until they caught up with themselves. ‘Time and relativity’ was the only answer with which the Doctor could provide them.

Everything that had passed between them, from the moment they fled the forest of Jaffa, to the moment they ‘landed’ on Xeros became a kind of dream, something haunting, there but not there. Except that Barbara knew that she was sad, that some part of her felt empty. And when Ian looked at her and saw the glint of sadness, he felt it, too, coupled with an inexplicable sense of guilt. In the endless Museum that held an uncertain future for all of them, the two bickered for some time, pointlessly, scared and confused as they both were, and unsure of why they felt what they felt.

Vicki would again ask Barbara to recount the fate of Princess Joanna, the strong, vivacious woman she so admired. But this time, Barbara could not bring herself to tell it, and sent Vicki off to find the Doctor instead, while she went looking for Ian; not for any special reason, just to sit with him.