Loving Bondsby Taryn
The Dark is Rising book series and all characters therein were created and written by Susan Cooper. This story takes place after the end of the series.
Will leaned back against the headboard and sighed silently as Bran tossed restlessly in his sleep. He should be sleeping as well, he knew, for the journey over the coming days would be long and tiring, but he couldn't quite make himself give in to the oblivion of his own dreams. Memories always kept him awake on their last night together before the Watching called him away again. He would sit quietly in the darkness and watch Bran's pale skin glow in the soft light filtering through the curtains, reaching out a hesitant hand every once in while to reassure himself that he truly wasn't alone.
The last eight years had passed mostly uneventfully. Movements in time and the constant strain of battle between the Light and the Dark had given way to family and school and the responsibility of everyday life. The last and youngest of the Old Ones grew up into a young man in a world vastly changed from that into which he was born. There was no longer any Rider watching from the shadows or voices half-remembered from long nights of fever dreams. The picture in the hallway of The Romans at Caerleon remained only a picture. There were no signs to be kept and, worst of all, no Merriman for reassurance. For the first time since the awakening of his other side, Will was truly alone.
Most of the time the immensity of it all didn't touch him. There was too much to do, and life left little time for recollection. Years would go by when it all seemed little more than a dream, but something always happened to bring the truth of it back home. Deep inside, hidden somewhere inside the mind of Will the Boy, the Watcher always watched.
A flash of gold caught his attention, and Will realized that Bran was awake and watching him. A real smile crossed his face as he looked down into the shadowed plains of the other young man's face. "I didn't realize you were still awake," he whispered, surprised at the huskiness in his own voice.
"I wasn't," Bran whispered back, his golden eyes oddly muted in the dim light as his face turned towards the ceiling, "but I had the strangest dream. There was a huge tree with silver flowers and a glittering sword and a man on a boat, and at the end a face that I know I should know, with white hair blowing in the wind and the fiercest expression…" His voice trailed off as his gaze drifted back towards Will's face. "Only that doesn't really make any sense at all, does it? It was so real though, and it seemed so important. Do you know the kind of dream I mean?"
Will nodded slowly, wondering if he dared to trust his voice as a stab of the old loneliness coursed through his heart.
Bran didn't seem to notice his lover's discomfort. Pushing himself up on his elbows his eyes began to clear, no longer clouded by the mist of the past, and once again shone like burnished gold. "It doesn't matter, Will cariad. It was only a dream, but now I'm awake and we still have one night left before you go." One hand reached out and shoved the forelock out of Will's eyes with a gesture that was as familiar as it was affectionate. Soft lips found his, and the pain lessened slightly in Will's heart, replaced by a rush of emotion that ran like fire through his veins.
"Loving bonds," Bran whispered against his lips, and Will gasped as the past seemed to merge with the present for an instant that was entirely out of his control.
"What?" He pulled back slightly, enough to see Bran's face.
Bran hesitated, then shrugged. "Something from the dream, I think. It made so much sense a moment ago, but now it's slipping away again." His eyes widened slightly and he pulled Will close again. "It's nothing, Will. Don't go all distant again. It doesn't mean anything, really, except…"
Will forced himself to breathe again. "Except what?"
Bran grinned then, the irrepressible grin of his not so distant childhood. "Except this time I think I'll go with you when you leave."
Will blinked in surprise, making Bran laugh.
"And why not? Why should you have all the fun digging in those ancient ruins for buried treasure while I sit here in the misty rain, pining away for the thought of you?"
Will blinked again, feeling his heart beat faster. "And you'd give up these hills of your beloved Wales for a silly Englishman, would you?"
"In an instant." Bran kissed him again, looking suddenly very serious. "It's not like I couldn't come home, and maybe I'll finally be able to convince you to come home with me, for good."
"Yes, cariad, home. Maybe you'll see that you don't need to be alone anymore."
Will felt tears burn his eyes and pulled Bran closer, losing himself in the touch and taste and scent of his lover. In his mind's eye he could see a bundle of silver flowers cut loose from a tree by a crystal sword dropping slowly to the ground, but that was the past. Maybe Bran was right. Even if he couldn't share the hidden part of himself like he did in their childhood, there was still the part that was just Will. Maybe being the last Old One wasn't a sentence of eternal loneliness.
Maybe, for at least a little while, loving bonds would be enough.