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Keeping the watch

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Keeping The Watch

Author:Laura J.V

Fandom: Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising

Disclaimer: The Dark Is Rising and all associated characters belong to Susan Cooper. I am not making any profit from this, and I intend no copyright infringement.

 

Keeping The Watch

by Laura J.V

Will Stanton looked out over the hills, his long hair blowing across his face and into his eyes. In the distance, he could see his friend Bran, training a young sheepdog. He was here for a visit and to keep an eye on Bran--Bran, who had given up his heritage as the son of King Arthur, and who was now nothing more than a boy like any other. A boy who had become Will's closest friend, and who Will still felt responsibility for.

"My watchman." The deep voice behind him was gentle, and Will turned to look up at his master. The hooded eyes met his frankly. "I know, Will. It's hard."

Will frowned and turned to watch Bran again. "It's my duty, Merriman."

"It is not a pleasant duty."

"No." He crossed his arms, feeling the wool rasp against his skin, and the wind sneak in through the hole in the elbow. "No, it's not." He felt Merriman's hand on his shoulder, the grip firm and sympathetic. "It hasn't even gotten hard, yet," he said. "They're all still young--Bran, the Drew children. Eventually...eventually they will marry, have children, grow old, and die. I will do none of these things. I will age, and then stop--and then I will go on, and on, until it is time for me to join you and the others." He shrugged. "I foresee that there will be many long years when I am the only Old One left in this reality, left to keep my watch."

"Will," Merriman said, softly, "you are an Old One. You are also eighteen. Marry, Will. Have children, if you want children. Don't hold back from your life because you will never know death."

Will twisted and looked up at his master. "Don't be a fool." He heard the harshness in his voice, and saw the flicker of pain in the older man's eyes. When he continued, his tone was gentler. "It will hurt enough to lose Bran, and Jane Drew, and my brothers and sisters. I cannot comprehend losing children or a partner." He closed his eyes. "I remember when Bran left his father. I remember the loss--" He could not stop the shudder that ran through him.

Abruptly, he found himself in Merriman's arms, held tightly against the lean body of the man who had been his teacher, his ally, and his partner. The man who had helped the boy Will accept his destiny one cold Midwinter, years ago, would now help the man--the Old One--Will accept his aloneness. He reached up--he was still short, and Merriman had always been tall--and tangled his fingers into the wild white hair that surrounded the hawklike face.

The pressure of his fingers drew that face closer to his until their mouths met, and Will leaned into the sensation and heat of Merriman's mouth, feeling long fingers in his own hair and a strong arm around his waist, pulling him closer. He hooked a leg around his master's, tumbling them both to the ground.

"Will--"

"Merry, don't deny me this. Please." And then he felt Merriman's hands under his jumper, and grinned fiercely down at the older man. "Thank you."

Merriman did not answer in words.

Later, they lay together, naked and sticky, under Merriman's cloak. Will sighed softly, and pressed his forehead against his master's chest. "Thank you."

The long fingers carded through his hair. "Anything for you, my beloved watchman."

"Hm." Will shifted off of the older man. "Your watchman has a watch to keep, my master."

"Yes." The arms came up, pulled him in, holding him against the lean body again. "A long and lonely watch, I'm afraid."

Will sat up and reached for his jumper. "Not so lonely now--not if you promise to visit now and then."

"Of course."

Will grinned and pulled on his underwear and jeans; looked down at the strong, long-limbed body on the black cloak. "I have to go, now. I promised my aunt I'd bring Bran over for dinner."

"I know."

Will kissed him, then, savoring the heat and taste of the oldest of his kind--the first to live through this pain and this aloneness. "Only the first and the last of us, hey, my master? We are the only ones to ever have to suffer this."

"Yes. The keeping of the watch." Merriman looked old, all of sudden, old and sad, and Will kissed him again.

"I will keep my watch, my master, until the time comes to join you out of time."

"I will be waiting, Will Stanton. Keeping my own watch--the last watch any of us shall ever keep."

"I know." Will turned and looked out over the hills again, towards Bran and his dog. "Until we meet again, my master."

"Until we meet again, my watchman."

And then Will walked away, over the green hills, towards a friend he was doomed to lose, and a watch that must be kept.

END