Author: Tiamat's Child
Fandom: Lawrence of Arabia
Pairing: mild Lawrence/Ali
Summary: The desert has always been a place of transformation…
Disclaimer: These versions of 'em are David Lean's. And the scriptwriters', but I can't remember their names. Anyway, they don't really belong to me, but I doubt anyone really cares, and I want to play. No harm is meant.
The desert burns away nearly everything, refusing to hide from the eyes of the sun. What does not burn is frozen to nothing, cracking at the distant touch of the night sky. Lawrence watches it all, almost afraid not to see the changes in the land.
He knows, as he tucks his knee and foot into the saddle each morning, that he already belongs to this place and these people. It is not a matter of love, though he cannot deny that he does love the desert. Rather, it is a matter of need. He can feel his lungs shift, growing to crave dry air heavy with the biting scent of sand.
He's almost sure that if he ever leaves he will long for this forever, always needing the endless clarity of the sky, so different from England, where clouds clothe the sun, hiding her from prying eyes. England's sun is prudish and timid, so very unlike this sun, who laughs, unashamed of her nakedness, as she gives life and takes life with the same hands, a glorious, ruthless innocent.
And the desert is her lover, chaste and passionate, living because of her. And the desert is claiming Lawrence, burning away his layers of foolish, prudish fog, breaking him open with its heat and its chill, offering him as a gift to the sun and the stars and the moon (so very like her sister, though much colder). Lawrence welcomes it.
The desert is clean, the desert is pure (as are its people, in their own peculiar, brutal way), and Lawrence is not. He wants to be. He wants the desert to burn the damp clay that coves him until it cracks and crumples and falls away. He wants to be clean for once. He wants the sun to set him blazing, wants the moon to give him just a little of her icy strength. He wants to be warm.
But he isn't, he isn't, he isn't. The desert is changing him, but slow, so slow, not fast enough. He's never really been very good at waiting through a hurt or an ache. He wants to pace, wants to do something to make it come faster, but that's not the way to survive in the desert. The desert demands that it be faced on its own terms. Lawrence doesn't like that, but there's not a thing that he can do about it, so he rides his camel and doesn't let his mind drift or the heat lull him, and he keeps his heart beating.
And tonight, when they stop to rest in the evening, he can barely feel his sodden, crumbling edges at all. He's alive, and that hums in him, singing life through the pathways of his blood. Alive, alive, alive! He laughs aloud at the sheer joy of it, to be here, now, with nothing to hem and picket and all too much pure air to breathe. And though it's a small sound that he makes, it rings bright and brassy, bold, in the accustomed stillness of the band.
He sees Ali's sudden almost-smile at the shock of his abrupt exuberance, and he forgets entirely about the damp, chill green at the center of him, heavy with his people's greed. Lawrence grins back, delighted to
know the secret. Ali is very like the desert. Lawrence will be too, someday.
He knows that he is becoming welcome, and that is good. There are things to be done, miracles to work, a way of the world to save. And when he has worked and done what he intends to he will be welcome.
Lawrence wonders if Ali ever truly laughs.