A/N: I noted when I originally posted that there was some confusion regarding Timballisto's death (citing chapter 19 of Outcast of Redwall and chapter 1 of The Legend of Luke). I don't recall specifically what the discrepancy was. The title is a part of a quote from the movie Love Story. Edited version up as of 24 July, 2009
It was a sort of funny thing that happened on the Bloodwake early that summer, not so long ago. The moment each realised who the other was, Timballisto and Martin had been like brothers.
Martin, Warrior of Redwall, cut an impressive figure standing atop the stones that would one day become the north outer wall of a great abbey. He was a strong, sturdy mouse, clothed in a soft green tunic similar to the robes of the abbey mice around him. A beautiful sword with a black bound hilt and read pommel stone was slung over one shoulder and sheathed across his back. The sword hadn't left easy pawreach since Martin had been well enough to be up and about.
He still wasn't fully healed. The last thing he needed was to be standing at length on an unstable rock heap. Timballisto called to him.
"Martin, are you all right?" Martin didn't answer, or even seem to realise Timbal was talking. "Martin, will you come down? It's almost lunch time."
"Steady there, T.B." The mousethief Gonff put a staying paw on Timballisto's shoulder.
"Our Martin has sense enough to come down before he starves," Gonff's wife Columbine added, handing her husband their infant mousebabe. "Mind Gonflet during lunch, will you? The Abbess and I ate with the moles and are going to help Dinny and his crew mark off the foundations for the main building."
"Yes, dear." Gonff bowed comically to his wife, and Gonflet giggled gleefully as he hung upside-down from his father's paws.
Columbine tried to look stern. "Be sure he eats more than just sweets."
"And see that he takes a nap or he'll be fussy all the way back to St. Ninian's."
"Yes, my precious plumcake."
Gonff and Columbine drifted off together, laughing and flirting before heading their separate ways. Timbal watched them until Gonff looked back and called, "Are you coming to lunch?"
T.B. shook his head. "I'm not hungry."
Gonff looked from Timbal to Martin and back again and nodded. No beast knew Martin as well as Gonff, except perhaps Columbine, but no beast knew him in quite the same way as Timballisto. The wounds Martin had sustained while fighting Tsarmina had left gaps in his memories -- most of which only Timballisto, if anybeast, could fill, some of which Gonff wasn't sure Martin needed filled. But those were decisions best left to the discretion of the creatures concerned.
Martin heard his friends talking about him, unaware that he could hear them from his perch atop the pile of red sandstone.
Very soon he would have to stop acting like a Dibbun in a snit. The creatures of Mossflower depended on him to be the strong figurehead, to never falter, and he couldn't let them down.
"Timbal," the warrior mouse said, acknowledging his friend.
"You all right, mate?"
"I will be."
T.B. put a comforting paw on his friend's shoulder. "If you're still hurting we can have Abbess Germaine take another look at you. She'd be glad to do it, and no beast would think less of you."
"The Abbess can't help me with this."
Timballisto sat down and looked out to the north, following his friend's gaze. He didn't say anything, just waited for Martin to continue.
"The Abbess said things would come back to me."
"They're not like complete memories. Just faces, feelings, sometimes names."
Timbal began to test him. "Luke?"
Martin's face creased in concentration. "He was my father."
"My grandmother," Martin said. That one had come easier, but the quiet that came over him afterward kept T.B. from pressing on too quickly.
"Rose," Martin finally said. "Who was Rose?"
"I don't know," Timbal said regretfully.
"I remember a Rose. She made me very happy." T.B. gave Martin an odd look, but Martin went on. "You know, I wasn't often happy before I came to Mossflower."
Timbal looked at the mouse before him. This wasn't the mouse who had resented his authority in their tribe in the Northlands or the mouse he had spent long hours arguing with when they were both young. This was the mouse who had saved his life and become his family.
"I know we were never on good terms before we met here--" The words were struggling to leave Timbal's mouth until Martin put up a paw for halt.
"That was in the past, and that is where it should remain, I think."
"I want to help."
"I know you do," Martin said.
Neither mouse spoke for a long while. The silence gave them time to solidify an unspoken agreement that what each remembered would stay in his own heart until a day when sharing was not so painful.
"Are you hungry?" T.B. finally asked.
"A little," Martin replied. "You go eat. I'll come after you in a few minutes."
Timballisto stood. "Sometimes you remind me so very much of Luke," he said.
Martin smiled. "Thank you."
Then Timbal left, and that was the last they ever spoke of the past.
Gonff had fed his son nothing but pudding and flan, and all the sweetness had gone to little Gonflet's head. The mousethief's son was running and squealing and generally causing a ruckus, until Bella, the badgermum, caught him and shipped him off for a bath and a nap.
Gonff was enduring a scolding of his own from Columbine when T.B. came on to the picnic site. Columbine broke off mid-admonition.
"Hoy, there!" Gonff called. "Didn't you bring our warrior with you?"
"He'll be down in a few minutes."
"Is everything all right?" Columbine asked.
"Not quite," Timballisto said. "But knowing what we've lived through, will any of us ever be all right?" He paused. "He doesn't remember much, you know, but... Look now! Here he comes."
Martin's arrival caused a hush to fall over the picnic. It had been a long time since Mossflower had seen him smile.
"Well, Martin, you seem to be feeling better," Columbine said.
"I'm done with my tantrum, if that's what you mean," Martin answered with a smile. "I'm going to have a word with Foremole about the foundations. I'd like to see them finished before the first frost." He looked around, his eyes falling heavily upon several of the older residents of Mossflower and former slaves from the Bloodwake. Finally his gaze rested upon Timbal for just a moment before shifting back to Gonff and Columbine. "There are those among us who could not stand another cruel winter in a hovel, and we couldn't impose on you even if St. Ninian's were big enough to keep us all."
"You worry yourself, Martin," Gonff told him. "Summer just started. There's time."
"Don't you know by now?" Martin said. "I can't stand idle paws. I'm no use fighting. I may as well make myself useful."
"What did you say to him?" Gonff asked as Martin walked away. "He's like a new mouse. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy."
"We didn't talk much. Sometimes you don't have to talk. You just have to understand."