Will didn't use his gifts much, once the Dark was driven out, and Merriman was gone, and no one remembered. A few things he held on to: the gift for languages, which was useful; the knowledge that even under an empty sky the stars would speak to him, so that he was never quite so alone as he felt, sometimes; the memory of a haunting music that played in his dreams, his best dreams, the most real.
Other than that though, it was... simpler, less painful, to let go and to forget what he was capable of doing. Anyway, he'd learned his lesson, hadn't he, when he was new awake and playing with fire on the Old Way on Huntercombe Lane; even now there would be consequences, things drawn to him if he let them be. And so, even though Gramarye had taught him to fly, Will never had.
He stood, now, with his hands in his pockets, looking at the place where Greythorne Manor had used to stand, the road beneath his feet frozen hard and the promise of snow in the night air. Another midwinter birthday; and tomorrow Will would be seventy years old.
'If it's all right with you,' he said softly into the space around him, because of course there were still messengers even in this crowded neon age, 'I'd like to go home.'
There was no answer but the wind sighed, a little. It was one minute to midnight.
Will took his hands out of his pockets and stood, arms loosely at his sides, feet apart, and he did not have to delve deeply into his memory for the words he needed because they had been at the tip of his tongue for days.
At first nothing felt different, but then Will realised, heart swelling, that his feet were off the ground, and he was rising, slowly and steadily, up into the air. A grin broke, wide, across his face, and he went riding on the wind.
It was cold, the air sharp against his cheeks; and Will saw the town—the city—laid out below in a grid of lights. His coat billowed and snapped behind him, and he stretched out his arms and laughed, suddenly, thinking of Merriman in his dark cloak. It was exhilarating to be up here, and now London was passing beneath him, and the stars were opening out above him through a break in the clouds. Will threw back his head, and if the tears in his eyes were not solely from the sting of the wind, well, who could blame him.
When dawn cracked the horizon into bands of orange and grey Will landed at last, gasping and exhausted, on his knees in the snow. He was mountain-high, and the valley lay still in shadow, farmhouses silent, the sheep shut away, waiting to be let out to pasture in the lowlands where the snow did not reach. Will stood up, slowly, brushing off his hands against his trousers, and he heard the quiet crunch of snow beneath booted feet behind him. He turned around.
'Well met, Will,' Merriman said, and he was smiling.
They clasped hands, Will's heart at first too full for speaking. After a moment, he said, 'I'm glad you're here.'
'Likewise,' Merriman answered. 'Shall we go on together?'
Will took a deep breath and looked around the Craig y Aderyn one last time. Already the weariness was sliding from his bones, replaced with a thrumming excitement so great that he thought he could fly on from that alone. 'I'm ready. Let's go.'