still_golden: (Crying)
[personal profile] still_golden
Night turns to morning in Fionavar, and finds Jen still awake, seated by the window in her rooms in the Temple and watching the sun rise on a midsummer spring. Everything is vibrant, bright, bursting with life.

And the grey cloud around Jen is shredding away in the breeze and the colors.

A knock comes on the door, and she rises to open it, scrubbing at her eyes. Matt Sören stands there, a walking stick in one hand, flowers in the other.

"It is spring," he says, "and these are the first flowers. Loren is meeting in the palace with a great many people. I thought you might come with me to Aideen's grave."

Four hundred years ago, Aideen was source to Nilsom, the First Mage of the High King -- as Matt is Loren's, now -- source of all the power he needed for his magecraft. When the King went mad, Nilsom and Aideen stood by him and helped him in all his dark deeds, and eventually Brennin fell into civil war. On the day of the final battle, though, Aideen went to Nilsom and told him she would no longer be drained for this cause -- would no longer give him the power he needed to make victory possible.

And she drew a knife and killed herself, leaving Nilsom and the King powerless and easy to defeat. She was buried with honor. Yet the Mages Council curses her memory every year at midwinter, for she betrayed her mage, and they hold no crime so deep as that.

Jennifer remembers Matt telling her this months ago, before she was kidnapped and broken, when she was still Jennifer Lowell and not Guinevere, too. And every year, he had added, when the snows melt in the spring, we lay the first of the wildflowers on her grave.

Matt leads her in silence to the edge Mörnirwood. The grave is almost invisible -- only a mound of earth, with no stone to mark it. Matt kneels and lays his flowers there, and Jennifer sees that he's weeping.

And it all comes loose, finally, finally, by Aideen's grave.

(In a life shaped of careful decisions, the only impulsive act of significance had been the beginning of her relationship with Kevin Laine one night two years ago. So many nights she'd lain awake, looking at the simplified beauty of his face as he slept.)

(Jennifer wept, in love and in sorrow for all the worlds, all the battlegrounds, for he was beautiful. Then, once only, and formally: "His name is Darien. He has been named by his mother.")

(Jennifer saw Drance fall at last, a wolf dying beneath him, another rising wet-mouthed from his corpse to leap past her to where Laesha stood.)

("Oh, Guinevere. Oh, my very dear.")

Eventually -- a long time later -- it stops, and Matt looks up at her, and tells her softly, "There is heart's ease in this place."

And though she laughs, she knows it to be true.

They talk, for a little, of Arthur, and the Tapestry, and grief, before finally turning and walking slowly back to Paras Derval.

As they walk, Jennifer's mind turns back to another morning, in another spring, when cherry trees blossomed as she stood by Arthur, and watched Lancelot ride into Camelot.


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Jennifer Lowell

June 2007

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