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01 January 2007 @ 02:48 am
*drumroll* and gift-fic!  
the unveiling of yuletide authors allows me to, first, announce that i wrote love, do you remember my name, a story based in Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar universe!

and, second, since it is no longer surprise-spoiling, i also wrote a gift-fic for all Yuletiders!

Title: The Longest Road
Fandom: Guy Gavriel Kay- The Fionavar Tapestry
Rating: G/PG
Warnings: Spoilers through the third book, plus canon character death!


i. leila

It was custom, in the village, for the children to play out on the green; simple games, like tag and hide-and-go-seek on long summer afternoons when their parents consented to let them venture into the forest. On days like these, Vae and Shahar were no exception, often shooing Finn outside with hasty kisses bestowed as they turned to speak to incoming customers. There were customers in plenty, although there had been more before the drought came; but the High King still reigned in Brennin, Ginserat's wardstone shone clear and true - blue as the summer sky - and Vae and Shahar had faith that as long as this was so, everything would be all right.

So Finn ran and shouted with the other children without fear, and Vae smiled often from the windows of the shop to see her son so happy and carefree, and so the summers passed.

It was never certain, afterward, who among Finn's generation first had the idea to play the ta'kiena, but the game had been around since before Brennin's kings first laid claim to the Summer Tree and the Oaken Crown. But when the children grew tired of running about in the sticky summer heat, the suggestion was made, and it turned out that bright-haired Leila did indeed know the verses, though she couldn't say when she had learned them; and so it was done, and Finn and Leila met for the first time.

ii. ta'kiena, the first

When the wandering fire strikes the heart of stone,
Will you follow?


A shiver ripples through the circle of children, a slight tremor passed from hand to hand. Only Finn stands straight and unafraid, eyes trained on the blindfolded girl, the words in her voice resonating curiously in his heart. He watches her spin with arms outstretched, her bright hair loose and floating as they all begin to move around her with a strange gravity. One by one, she calls them, three children to mark the three questions.

When the circle stops for the fourth time, her finger is aimed unerringly at his chest, and though he doesn't understand the pull in his blood, he steps forward to untie her blindfold.

"Finn," she says, somehow unsurprised, and it seems to Finn that she has always known his name.

"Leila," he replies. A guess, or perhaps some knowledge passed into him through her calling. He watches her smile, slowly, the uneven tug of her chapped lips brighter than the summer sun, and smiles back.

The circle disperses, uneasily, but they remain unmoving. At last, Leila looks away, and says, "Do you want a glass of lemonade? My father will have some at the inn."

Finn agrees, and the two of them walk in an easy silence down the road, the strangeness of their meeting gone for the moment, if not quite forgotten.

She calls him again, perhaps three weeks later, and if Finn feels any surprise about being called a second time, he says nothing about it. That evening, he goes home to his mother after a cup of sweet tea at the inn with Leila, and Vae dismisses her uneasy thoughts even as she presses a kiss to his brow. Perhaps it is just a coincidence.

iii. ta'kiena, the third

When the wandering fire strikes the heart of stone,
Will you follow?
Will you leave your home?


The third time, the children gather on the green without being asked. It is Midsummer, and the town is ringing with news of the strangers from another world in the King's palace. Finn takes the ragged piece of muslin and ties it carefully over Leila's eyes, knowing without seeing her face that she smiles.

This time, he feels something hidden waking in his chest when she calls him. Her eyes when he removes the blindfold are sad. His mother cries, head bowed over her folded hands. Finn glances up the street. The High Priestess is there, a curious pity in her green eyes. Standing next to her is a beautiful woman with golden hair, more beautiful even than the Priestess. It seems important, somehow.

Leila's hand fists in his sleeve, and he turns back to her.

"Do you know?" she asks.

"No."

"The Goddess works in threes," she says, which is not an answer to his unspoken question, and more quietly: "It is yours, Finn."

"I know that much, I think." He looks again to his mother. "Excuse me, I should go to comfort her."

"I'll have that lemonade again tomorrow, if you want it."

"Tomorrow, then," he agrees, and goes quietly to his mother's arms. He thinks Leila might have said something like "Don't leave me, Finn," as he walked away, and he considers the idea as he buries his face in his mother's neck. It doesn't seem like something she would say, at least not aloud.

As it turns out, though, Leila will be leaving first. The Priestess has called her, she tells him as they sip their lemonade in the cool shadows of the inn, to be an acolyte in the Temple.

"Will you leave your home?" Finn says, unexpectedly; a rhetorical question.

Leila looks at him, the weight of the ta'kiena in her gaze. "I think I may be going to another one," she replies.

iv. ta'kiena, the last

When the wandering fire strikes the heart of stone,
Will you follow?
Will you leave your home?
Will you leave your life?


Leila calls the children again, a farewell gift of sorts for Finn. He ties her blindfold, steps into the circle, lets her voice wash over him as she calls and calls again. Her finger pointed at him is expected, now, and he looks at her as the cloth falls from her eyes. One by one, the children touch him, awkward hands brushing his shoulder as they leave the green, something that has never happened before.

Leila touches his cheek with cool, slim fingers. "I am going tomorrow," she tells him.

Finn nods. "Is this goodbye, then?"

"I leave at dawn."

"I see." They look at each other for a long moment, neither knowing what to say. "Only each other," Finn says at length, the words rising unbidden to his throat.

"Only each other, at the last," she agrees, and flings her arms around him unexpectedly. "Oh, Finn."

"I'll - tell you, before I go," he says awkwardly.

"Thank you," she whispers against his neck, then, after awhile, "I think I'll know." There is nothing he can say, and so he says nothing, gently untangling the strands of her hair with his fingers.

v. darien

When the wandering fire strikes the heart of stone,
Will you follow?
Will you leave your home?
Will you leave your life?
Will you take the Longest Road?


In the winter, Vae opens her door to the Twiceborn and the golden-haired woman, big with child. Finn stands behind her, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, and goes to fetch wood for the fire. Pwyll fills the pot with water and puts it on to boil, wincing at the cries sounding from upstairs. Finn watches the fire, the brilliant embers flaring to life.

His mother brings the child downstairs, later. With a shaking voice, she tells him who the father is.

"Oh, Dari," Finn whispers, then, to his mother, "He will need to be loved, so much."

A tear slips down her cheek as she smiles proudly at him. "Yes."

Finn curls himself against his mother's side, one hand brushing Dari's soft golden curls. He presses a kiss to Dari's soft, unlined brow, and the three of them remain downstairs, dozing in the fire's warmth. "I love you, little one," Finn whispers to the baby, after his mother falls asleep.

For the first time, he has a secret to keep from Leila. It is uncomfortable, Finn thinks, but perhaps not as uncomfortable as it should be, now that she is busy in the Temple of the Mother. Leila will understand, anyway, and forgive him when she finds out.

vi. iselen

Finn knows, when he sees the eight riders; knows it when the stranger from the crossing raises his hand. Pwyll the Twiceborn is there, too, he realizes, which is somehow right; Pwyll, who brought the woman who gave them Darien, who is more of a blessing than either of them will ever know.

He wants to kiss Dari, so much, wants to tell him I love you over and over again, but he has already, and so he lies, and begins to walk the Longest Road with tears streaming down his face.

Leila senses his unease, but he says nothing in the strange space between their minds. He can think of nothing but Darien, tracing his flower alone in the snow, and so far away.

Then he reaches the cave, which is open, the eight kings without a child to lead them, and understands at last what he is meant to do. "Don't hurt her," he tells them as he steps into the clearing. "I am here."

Oh, Finn, he hears in his mind, even as he goes to the horse: Iselen, he somehow knows. Oh, Finn, forgive me. Leila's voice, Leila's tears.

There is nothing to forgive, he sends to her. Give Dari my love, if you can.

Finn swings up into his seat. "Let us ride," he says to Owein, and turns Iselen's head toward the stars.

--

He cannot say how far they have gone, how long they have been riding, before he hears a familiar voice in his mind, sharper and brighter and more terrible than it has ever been.

Finn! she sends. Finn! I command you to stop!

He turns his head in confusion. Who is Finn? He is Iselen's rider, now.

Finn! she says again, and her name emerges from the depths of his mind.

Leila?

I order you to stop, now, and come to me!

Iselen snorts, shakes herself in confusion. Finn places a hand on her neck, tries to ease her. Leila. Where are you?

But the picture blooms in his mind: Leila, dressed in Priestess's white, in the Temple. There is an axe hanging on the wall. She lifts it, bringing it down hard on the altar. In the name of the Goddess, I command you!

Finn pulls on the reins, high above Andarien, trying to turn Iselen, images of his former life flashing through his mind. Leila.

Oh, Finn, please come, she says, her voice so clear it breaks his heart. Come back to me.

I am here now, he tells her. I'm back. It was - cold -

I know. I felt you.


Iselen shudders with fear, even as he turns her head to face the east. He feels the muscles of her back tensing before she throws him from her back, plummeting like a star toward the plain.

Finn!

There is no one to catch him, he knows, and for a brief moment, he is afraid, but Leila is there in his mind, sharing the pain of his landing. Only each other, at the last, he tells her, and she is laughing even through her tears. You will have to let go of me.

He sees the Priestess, then, through the haze of pain, and begins to pull away, but Leila holds him fast. I love you, she tells him, and he knows she is weeping.

I know, he sends. I love you, too. Will you -

It'll be all right. Everything will be all right. Oh, Finn, wait for me.


He smiles. Don't come too soon. Then he turns to the Priestess and his father, with the last of his strength. "Dari?"

The Priestess is weeping, her face open and grieving, uncannily like Leila, far away in the Temple of the Mother. "He, too, did everything right."

"Oh, little one," says Finn, and closes his eyes.


ETA: A huge thank-you to charlotteschaos for my lovely Yuletide gift! :D
 
 
 
Deepa D.deepad on January 2nd, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Lovely, both of them. Thanks for writing!
glass_icarusglass_icarus on January 2nd, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
i'm glad you liked them! :) i had so much fun playing in this fandom.
Superfail!: LOST: Petey is hungryaliaspiral on January 2nd, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
oh, little one. this is beyond lovely. I never have given much extra thought to the game that started him down his road.

gorgeous.
glass_icarusglass_icarus on January 2nd, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
thanks! :) i'm glad you liked it.
(Deleted comment)
glass_icarusglass_icarus on January 4th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
glad you liked it! :>