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Author’s Notes, the First: This story was written for the “Holy Ground” Lyric Wheel, located over at http://www.angelfire.com/pa2/lyricwheel/index.html.
Author’s Notes, The Second: The lyrics used were provided by Unovis, and are from Stan Rogers’ “Song Of The Candle.”
Tonight, in a room full of candles, another cup of madness drains away. And at times it gets so hard to handle Knowing one more simple song has swiftly taken wing. And I'm left alone to hear the song a lonely candle sings.
by A. Magiluna Stormwriter
My voice was soft, unobtrusive. I’d a feeling I knew why she’d hidden herself away here, but I didn’t want to intrude. She’d worried all of us when she disappeared, leaving all of her things on the barge. But somehow I knew she hadn’t left completely. It wasn’t until I heard them talking about the date that I realized where she’d gone. By the time I’d finally arrived, dark had settled in for the night, the pale sliver of the waxing moon casting little light to guide me across the thrumming ground. At least she’d had the sense to run away to Holy Ground, affording herself at least that small measure of protection.
Following the sensation of her Presence, I’d found her ensconced in a large bedchamber. Dozens of candles filled the room, most sputtered out, casting the room in a soft, gloomy glow. The lush, heady scent of beeswax assailed my nostrils and I found myself transported back to a time in my life when these candles would have denoted wealth and supposed piety. Simpler times.
“Just leave me alone,” she murmured. At the sound of her voice, I located her huddled under an old fur before the blazing fire.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” I replied just as softly as I made my way over to crouch next to her, glad for the warmth of the fire. “And you know it, Amanda.”
She shrugged, but didn’t meet my gaze. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”
I grinned at the comment and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “It’s getting late, my dear. We should head back. Everyone’s been worried about you.”
She shook her head. “I can’t, not yet. We made a promise, Rebecca and I. I’d always keep in touch with her. And she’d always be there for me. She lied, Methos. She left me, left me behind. And now I don’t even have the damned crystal to remember her by. I have nothing left.”
“That’s not true, Amanda,” I chided lightly, pulling her into my arms. “You have your memories, and your life. And yes, at times it gets so hard to handle, but who will remember Rebecca if you’re gone? Who will have those memories of taking such a rough, unwashed, untrained brat of a ruffian and training her into the lovely, sophisticated minx we all know and love?”
She shoved at my arm, but did nothing to get away. “I’m serious, Methos,” she finally said. “What’s the point? Eventually we’ll all be dead and it won’t matter.”
I gripped her chin and turned her face toward me. “It does matter, Amanda. Do you think I don’t miss Alexa? Or that Duncan doesn’t miss Tessa? Or Richie?” When she sighed, I gently stroked her hair, glad that she was starting to grow it out again. She looked better with it longer and that lovely natural shade of hers. “Amanda, Rebecca’s been dead for nearly seven years. Why now? Why tonight? It’s not even the anniversary of the day her Quickening was taken.”
She was silent for a long moment, leaning into my touch but staring into the fire. “No, it’s not.” Her voice was husky with unshed tears. “Today marks the anniversary of the day she found me, the day she gave me back my life. Even if I was an ungrateful little bitch at the time. It’s been eleven hundred and fifty-five years, Methos. And up until seven years ago, I could always count on her to be there for me, always knew I could come here and be safe. And now what? It’s just ruins and ghosts of memories.”
“At least you still have someplace definite to come back to,” I retorted softly. “I’ve no idea anymore, and after five thousand years, there wouldn’t be anything left of the place anyway.” I pressed my lips to her temple. “She’ll always be in your thoughts and in your heart, Amanda. Don’t cheapen what she did, who she was, by this maudlin act. She wouldn’t want you to mourn her like this, and you know it. She’d want you to celebrate her life, celebrate her memory, and live your life.”
She was quiet for a long moment, before she turned into my arms and began to cry, face buried in the crook of my neck. I just held her, let her get it out, and crooned soft nonsense. When the sobs finally died away to faint whimpers and sniffles, the fire was nearly out and I was feeling the cold of the night creeping into my bones. She took a deep breath and pulled back to look at me. “Thank you, Methos.”
“It’s not going to get any easier to deal with the anniversaries,” I replied with a smile, the pad of one thumb brushing away her tears. “But there are people who care about you, people who are willing to share the burden if you’ll let them. You don’t have to go it alone.”