August 6th, 2010
|06:38 am - Home and Glamour, Part 11 (The End)|
This morning I woke up at four, convinced it was six. The Blonde Dog of the House, hearing me stir, trotted in and told me that I might as well put her out and attend to her. And so I did, and now I'm about to fall on my face with tiredness.
It's Friday! And it's the end of the week, and the end of the story.
The last section ended thusly: "Oh, hell and the Queen."
Morgan's near-collapse just beyond the threshold of their home forestalls Alice's questions for a time – long enough to get him to their long, silk-and-hemp-covered sofa, shed their cloaks, and rest his head on his favorite cushion; long enough for her to wash the blood and salt from the wound, salve it, and begin to sew the gash together with the needle and blessed thread from their secret room.
She doesn't ask him then. He is too busy working the hiss and ache of his own healing magic as she draws needle in and out, pulling tight each stitch. She is too busy willing her hands not to shake. His wound is a surface one, but too close to bone, far too close to heart, for her comfort.
As she knots off the thread, however, he murmurs, “It always strikes me as profoundly wrong, my lady, that you might stoop to take care of a mere Guild-man – not of course that I am one any more.”
“There's a jest.” She bites off the trailing ends of thread, and then kisses an unbloodied part of his wounded shoulder. “Court and Guild come from the same magic root. We just take our traditions different ways, yes?”
He smiles at her, and with his other hand caresses a path down her cheek, her throat, and along the open neck of her shirt.
“Upstairs, Morgan. You have talking to do,” she says, in her most regal voice. “Now.”
“Yes, my heart,” he says faintly, and pushes himself to standing – rather unsteady on his feet, but he'll do.
She pours herself a glass of the last of the evening's wine before she follows him up.
Barefoot and open-shirted, he's lighting the candles in their secret room of rain-streaked glass and dark when she arrives, and together they breathe the last incantation to keep their fire hidden from outside. Then, white-lipped with the pain, he folds himself down to lie on the rush mat in the center of the room. She arranges herself against the weapon chest and then invites him to lay his head in her lap. He needs no second invitation.
There in the quiet and candlelight, they sit for a long moment.
“Speak,” she says at last.
“I didn't know the whole of it, darling, didn't know Petrel would have that Guild-tool. I told you most of it.” The words are honest, tired. “But, yes, I tasted tricks in the magic, and I saw two midnight stars.”
Her fingers drift through his hair, then across his forehead. “The Guild-stars?”
They both smile, remembering a midsummer midnight years ago and faraway, and an old wood, and a young Changeling-woman happening upon a Guild-man casting spells under the stars, pulling down sparks from light-years gone to call to life his talismans.
“And how did you know it was Rhys who planned the Guild-trick? Or, at least, gave you the opening to trick in return...”
“How did you first scent salt and storm this morning, darling, long before they came?”
A silence, a drift of fingers across a pain-furrowed brow. Morgan's glamour doesn't change who they are, they both know--
“Yet the Guild has its secrets.” Her voice bites. “Not to be shared with wives, apparently?”
He takes her drifting hand and kisses her wrist. “No, no. More what I've learned as a school administrator,” he says in his best Principal-Stonewood voice. “There's no need to share with the troops what one doesn't know.”
She doesn't reply in words – but she takes the tip of his ear, there at its subtle point, and twists hard.
He yelps, wriggles, curses at the sudden pain from his shoulder, then eases. “Message received, my lady. Full and fair disclosure from here onward.”
“Liar,” she says, her anger gone, and he smiles and turns his head to kiss her belly.
There in the quiet and the candlelight, they sit for a long moment. She sips her wine. He closes his eyes.
Then, wearily, he says, “You should take your treasure out of the chest, my heart. Look at what we've saved.” A crooked-true grin passes over his face. “Do it before I fall entirely to sleep.”
“No need. I have my treasure right here.”
Amazingly, after all these years he still flushes at such a compliment. His mouth shapes words he doesn't say. Then, “Nevertheless, it would be good if you held your mother's blade after you've asserted your right to it.”
“I can always feel the weight of it in my palm.” She twists down to brush a kiss on his temple. “Go to sleep, Morgan. You need to heal.”
“Before school starts, yes,” he says on a yawn, and then slips into sleep softly, just as his lady has directed.
Alice sits in the midnight quiet, the weight of Morgan on her lap, the remembered weight of her mother's sword in her hand, and drinks her wine.
The candles spark like stars from light-years gone, and the rain-streaked glass reflects a double light from each, here and faraway, faraway and here.
May your weekend be spilling over with the very best light!
Beautiful and satisfying -- and the last line is just to die for. And you leave us wondering, just a little, if she loves him despite his desire to withhold from her unpleasant details about which he's not certain, or because of it. (hee -- which i'm pretty sure predated his work as Principal Stonewood, but no doubt fits him for the job.)
::hugs and good light to you::
p.s. so sorry for the early awakening -- here's hoping you can nap before noon!
Well, I tried to nap, but a sibling called and woke me. Clearly this day is a waste. ;-)
May YOU have a better day!
You're so kind, H_P, to read this fic and cheerlead me along. Thank you thank you. I appreciate you.
I'm glad you liked the last line, too; it came to me late, but I was pleased with the image.
(As for your query re Alice's love for Morgan: it is both despite AND because. And oh yes, it long predated his principalship, no matter what he says. [grin])
Happy happy Friday, with time to rest and think of 60s spies.
|Date:||August 6th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)|| |
Thank you, L. I am so grateful that you've read this serial fic. :-)
Happy happy Friday, plus healing!
Have a good weekend too!
Thank you thank you for reading. I very much appreciate your comments along the way!
Happy Friday and onward. :-)
Perfect ending. The fantasy in this story makes it sparkle, but the human feeling beyond the magic is what makes it grip our hearts.
I can see that this is part of something much bigger. Will we ever have a chance to read it all?
I can see that this is part of something much bigger.
Confession: I hadn't actually thought of this as part of something bigger! I love these characters, but I haven't thought about a larger story for them (although they're part of a larger world).
Your words are so kind, however, and I can't tell you how much I've appreciated your reading and your encouraging comments here and along the way. Thank you thank you, and a happy Friday to you!
I meant the larger world--I'd love to spend more time there. Thanks for sharing!
Oh, beautiful. I loved it, wonderful stuff! Greetings to Her Majesty :bow:.
In reverse order: Her Majesty thanks you. :-)
And I thank you too -- I'm grateful for your reading and support! Thank you twice, and a good weekend to you!
Oh bliss (sighs pleasurably).
You always make me see them, not just read them.
Thank you for a week of morning delights.
hugs and happy weekend to come!
Thank you thank you, ALH, for your reading, your happy sighs, and your lovely comments. I am grateful for all three! :-)
Hugs and a happy weekend to you, too.
|Date:||August 6th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)|| |
This is wonderful, and you have a real gift for creating both characters and worlds. I'd like to know more about Morgan and Alice, when you feel inspired to tell us.
Thank you, A, thank you v.v. much. What lovely, encouraging words -- I'm grateful for your reading!
Thank you thrice! ;-) And a good weekend to make up for your week.
Thank you thank you, Gwynne! I so appreciate you reading the story. :-)
Hugs and a great Friday!
A fitting happy ending for them both.
Thank you thank you, Stevie, and thank you for reading and commenting. I'm grateful for both. :-)
Happy weekend to you!
I'm so glad you're here, Rainkatt, and so grateful for your reading and enthusiasm. Thank you thank you! Hurrah!
That hurrah is for you. :-)
Oh, beautifully, beautifully done.
You've balanced this so nicely -- there's just enough to keep some mystery around the edges without leaving the reader lost, and Alice and Morgan are just fabulous.
Thank you so much, L, for this one.
Thank YOU, W_P, for reading. I'm glad that Alice and Morgan pleased you, because I rather love them. :-)
Thanks twice, plus hugs!