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12 June 2008 @ 09:04 pm
a Coke at 5:00  
Title: a Coke at 5:00
Author: glass_icarus
Fandom: Guy Gavriel Kay- Ysabel
Rating: PG
Summary: Ned and Kate, a few years down the line.
Notes: A going-away present for avendya! This was originally going to be a drabble, but, uh. It grew.


Aix-en-Provence hasn't changed very much over the years, the storefronts and awnings almost exactly as he remembers them. The faint haze of dust in the streets is burnished to gold in the afternoon light, almost perfect for a photo shoot. His father would have jumped at the opportunity.

Ned checks his watch: 4:50 PM. Good. He has a few minutes, then. He stretches his arms above his head, turning his face toward the sun. Almost unconsciously, his eyes flick to the cathedral, the one that had changed everything.

On a whim, he makes a stop at the flower shop on the corner.

I'm back in Aix for a couple of weeks, Kate had written. If you're going to be in the area, you should come by, have a coffee. Say, at five o'clock? He'd actually gotten teased for that one, by his father, no less, because the grin that split his face just wouldn't disappear. Not that he'd ever tell her that.

She's standing in front of the cafe in a white skirt and a man's shirt, a colorful scarf tossed artlessly over her shoulder. Classic Kate. He has to suppress a snort when he recognizes the shirt, though.

"Wow."

She turns, smiling. "Wow, yourself." He can see his face reflected in her sunglasses.

"Nice aviators. Is that your brother's shirt again?"

"Still looks better on me than it does on him." Her eyes flick to the flowers. "Two bouquets? What extravagance! Should I be flattered, or shall I dig up Marie-Chantal's number now?"

Ned has to laugh. "Flattered, definitely." He pulls out her chair.

Kate smirks, signaling the waiter. "Ah- chivalry isn't dead, I see. A cafe au lait, please."

"You kidding me? It's hot out here. I'll have a Coke."

"Oh, you," she giggles, remembering. "So. How's Toronto treating you?"

"It's great. Aunt Kim and Uncle Dave are ecstatic. Apparently they've missed the place- don't know why, when they live near Glastonbury Tor."

"That's so cool," Kate says, wistfully. "I'd really love to go someday."

"They'd be glad to have you- oh, thanks. That was pretty quick." He presses his glass against his forehead, feeling the condensation trickling down.

"That stuff's going to rot your teeth, you know."

"So my mom keeps telling me- ergo, a straw."

She rolls her eyes, sipping her coffee. "Oh, so much better. Now all you have to worry about is the diabetes."

"I don't know about you, but I've got a great gene pool," Ned says loftily. "You want to pick which flowers you want?"

"What are we doing with the other ones?"

"I was thinking of- making a visit." He glances toward the cathedral, where the statue of a woman not the Queen of Sheba stands.

"Ah. I thought you might." She takes the flowers from his grasp. "Roses, Ned?"

"Hey, I got lilies, too- I'm not that tacky," he says indignantly.

"True," Kate concedes. "We'll split both kinds, then. Fair's fair."

"Let's go, then."

In unspoken agreement, they walk inside the cathedral first. Ned looks at the flagstones, where they'd found Phelan climbing out of the catacombs.

"They've closed up the floor again," Kate says quietly. "I looked."

"Of course." He doesn't know why he expected it to be otherwise. "Can't have people, you know, falling in."

"Or climbing down." She nudges him with her elbow. "Come on."

Heart beating faster, he follows her outside, around the corner to Ysabel. "Oh," Kate sighs.

Ysabel's face is blurred, the stone worn nearly smooth by years of exposure. He remembers thinking she was made so, on the verge of disappearing; knowing what he knows of Phelan, he suspects he was right. How do you pay homage to such beauty? You can't.

"Only the impression of her," he says.

"She was too beautiful ever to be captured in something so lifeless," Kate replies. "This comes close, though." Kneeling at the statue's feet, she unwraps the flowers, separating the stems from each bundle into equal parts.

Ned shuffles his feet a little, feeling suddenly awkward. "I feel like we should, I dunno, say something," he says, rubbing the back of his neck.

"I suppose." Kate arranges the flowers about Ysabel's feet, then stands, thinking. "I don't know if I should say I forgive you, because it didn't happen to me, after all. And I still don't think I understand. But- love is love, I guess, however things fall out, and you found your family in the end."

"I hope you're at peace, now, wherever you are," Ned says slowly. "And I think Aunt Kim and Uncle Dave would wish that for you too. For all of you. And- thanks. For showing me that I was, you know- a little more than I expected."

They stand silent for a moment, the golden sunlight of late afternoon falling across the statue's face. Ned remembers finding her on the mountaintop, after that last, desperate climb- her red hair blazing as the sun began to set, her eyes wide and clear and calm. "Well. Goodbye." He reaches out, fingers running lightly over Ysabel's enigmatic smile. "Maybe we'll come and visit you again."

"Goodbye," Kate echoes. As one, they turn away, walking slowly back toward the street.

He remembers, suddenly, that other night. The first night, when it all began. "Hey." He pokes her in the ribs. "We never did see Entremont properly, that time."

Kate stops dead, staring at him incredulously. "Are you kidding? We saw more of it than anyone!"

"Maybe, but we didn't see it as it is today. And the sun set too soon."

"Ned Marriner," she says suspiciously, hands on her hips, "are you asking me on a date?"

"Nah," Ned grins. "It wouldn't be a date without Marie-Chantal, you know?"
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Avendya: Stock - Kaleidoscopeavendya on June 17th, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
I can't make a detailed comment as I'm in the lab, supposedly doing homework, but OMG OMG OMG. I adore this so very much. It's just so very... well, them.

♥!
glass_icarusglass_icarus on June 18th, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
in the lab, supposedly doing homework-- hee!

i'm glad you think it sounds like them; i love their canon dialogues to itty bitty pieces, so... \o/! *squishes* Ned/Kate FTW.