nightcenturymountain: (tell me a story)
[personal profile] nightcenturymountain
[rated pg for some reason, probably themes]
an original keyfic. everything here is mine except the concept of The Palace & Keys.
For further info visit http://www.ravenswing.com/~keys/

The Third Knot Key: firstlight

From the first
your eyes entranced
the ageless desperation within
drawing me towards you
no matter the pretenses
no matter the weight of your years
I could not escape
the labyrinthine tangles
of the mazes in your eyes

The sky grew darker, as it always does just before dawn, and Teryn lay silently on his bed, alone and miserable, unable to feel the comfort of the down pillows and soft mattress. There was still a soft dent where there should have been another body beside him. He looked down; a single silver hair curled on the blanket, a solitary reminder of too much--

"Mary...Mary...."

His voice raw with emotion, he rolled over and let his tears dampen the pillow. His first Owner. His third lover. His finest companion and the first person to seek true solace within his arms. Mary had been his world for eighteen months, and she had died in the evening, just a few hours ago, lying just there on the bed, smiling at him, touching his face, gentle to the last.

The worst, of course, was that it hadn't been unexpected. She had been diagnosed with the cancer four months before, had been in treatment, but at her age, with her history of ailments, the doctors had been unable to offer much hope and told her to find a comfortable place, a hospice, if she liked, and prepare to die. She had chosen Teryn to be her last comfort. She had often told him that he had been her first step towards personal freedom (a statement he had always found a little ironic, considering that he was technically a slave), but he hadn't expected to be the last face she would look upon in this lifetime.

He lay quietly for a moment, remembering her laugh, remembering the way she had laughed at his expression when they had first met.

"That face, Teryn, that face tells me that you, too, have fallen to the trap of thinking that once a woman passes forty they have no sex drive. Don't think me distasteful for having all this grey hair, nor for finding /you/ attractive. It's not unnatural, I assure you. Though," she had said, glancing thoughtfully at the knotwork key bound around her wrist, "I'm not certain that this place is really natural, per se. And I'm ~quite~ certain that people as handsome as you aren't real. You look like you've just stepped out of a fairy tale, rent jeans and all."

And then came the laugh; that throaty, full-bodied thing that had endeared her to him immediately. No one who laughed like that could possibly be bad. Their hearts had to be too close to the surface, they surely couldn't be deceptive or petty. Not with a laugh that poured over you like a cooling rain...

A sob escaped him, whistling out into the stillness. She had told him about her life, about her failed marriages and estranged children, about her career, her friends dying one by one, some from this disease, others from that, one, most memorable, in an airplane crash (he had held her as she wept--it was the first time he'd seen her cry.) She hadn't prompted him to give him the same information, but somehow, he had trusted her. He had told her his past, his dreams for the future.

/ Though he knew, he knew that he didn't really have a future; the Palace keeps its Keys safe, forever. /

They had talked politics, they had talked about Rilke, and Plath, and even a few of the classic Romantic poets-Keats, Shelley, Rossetti. They had talked for hours about stupid things with the odd shouting match thrown in for good measure. She had taught him to knit, painfully, and he had taught her how to fold origami cranes.

Teryn sighed heavily, wiping his eyes with the back of one fist. She had only been to visit him thrice a month, at first, but that had quickly grown to four times, then, taking a monthly vacation, to visit for a whole week at a time, sometimes a week and a half. She'd offered him the phrase "tenure has its benefits," by way of explanation. Near the end, she'd stayed with him always, a month of her strong presence that slipped by like sand.

She had been calm, knowing it was coming. She could feel her body slowing down, preparing for a final shutdown. She had finalized her will; he hadn't helped, not wanting to know. Then, in the quiet of the evening, just past sunset, with the afterglow still hovering in the sky, she had called him to her side, smiled, spoken a few words, and gone gently into that good night.

He had called the doctors, and they had shaken their heads, patted him gently and given vague condolences and a couple of pills to help him sleep, then taken her away. He knew he wouldn't be allowed go to her funeral. He had been told as much when she first made the decision to make the Palace her final home.

She had told him to live, to not be too sad when she died, but had asked him, a little diffidently, if he would be certain to remember her when he had other, younger, prettier Owners. He had laughed. He would remember her forever, of that he was certain. Now he had only to remember how to live without her.

The first light of dawn was beginning to lighten the curtains. Teryn got up, washed his face, and pulled aside the gauze curtain to watch the sun rise.

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nightcenturymountain

March 2010

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