Do Not Go Gentle
By Nancy Brown (nancy@tooloud.northco.net)
Copyright 1995, 2001



Disney, Buena Vista, all be blessed in their ownership of these
characters. I need only borrow them for a brief dance upon the
stage of my imagination, then place them back in their boxes. Some
lines have been borrowed from the "Avalon" series. I promise to
return them ere long.




Not for the first time, he felt the years upon him, as though
he need carry the thousand and one of them on his back in penance
for his crimes. The last residuals of the great magic he had
commanded coursed out his fingertips, leaving him too drained to
even consider moving. The stone slab beneath him was not warm like
the grass of the endless summer outside, but it was welcome
nonetheless.

He heard a sound, and focused his eyes upon the witches
struggling in their chains. His heart trembled. What if they
escaped now? The spell would not bind them forever, and if they
broke free, he would never be able to defeat them again. Please
no, he thought. Let me have this one thing. Let me not have
failed, just this once. Let the spell have worked and then we will
be free.

The women finally stopped their motion, resigned to their
fate. As one, they stared through him, but their magic was chained
with them and could not harm him now.

The dark-haired one spoke, "You may have caught us."

"But you have not defeated us," said the blonde one.

"We are immortal," said the white-haired one. "We have time
to wait."

"But you have no more," they said in unison.

"Perhaps," he replied in a whisper.

"Fool," said the blonde. "What hope have you against the
Archmage when he returns for us?"

"Even now, our allies are taking Oberon's palace."

"All those within are already dead. Including the princess."

From somewhere, he found the strength to move his head and
seek the truth in their gazes. Could it be? After all this time,
could he have lost the one thing that had kept him alive? He found
nothing in their eyes but cold green fire. They were matched
kites, circling over an old horse dying in a forgotten meadow.

"You're lying."

"Perhaps." They smiled and his hackles rose. He closed his
eyes against theirs, and his mind drifted.


Katharine ...


The eternal summer breeze moved her soft chestnut hair into
her eyes, making her brush it away again. She laughed, and her
eyes were warm and bright. He heard a child's laughter high and
sweet from a distance away, but for this brief moment, they were
alone in the sunlight together.

He wondered how much time passed in the real world as they sat
on the grass. Could an entire day have really gone by in the
course of time it took to watch a cloud traverse the sky? What had
become of those they had known and loved, and did it matter anymore
now that they were the heirs apparent to the fairy land? She was
beside him, and all things were possible.

Her eyes touched to his, as if asking a single longed-for
question. His mind thought of a thousand things to do, to say, and
having those thousand, he could do nothing. He did not deserve to
give her such an answer, not after what he had done. He could only
watch her, until her shoulders fell just a tiny measure and she
turned her face to let the sun caress her.

He wondered then, and many times afterward, what it might have
been like to have found an answer to that question, to have met her
with a word, followed by a kiss, and then everything. In his
thoughts, he had dared it, had pulled her to him and made love to
her in that pool of warm light. His dreams had shown him their
future, the daughter they had conceived between them, and how in
time she had fallen for the fair-haired Guardian of the eggs, and
they had all been so very happy.

The sweetest dreams always ended the swiftest, leaving no more
than half-memories of sunny afternoons and vagrant clouds.


The sunlight faded, and was gone from him. It was dark now,
and something was crackling. One of the eggs! The time had come
at last. Katharine sent Tom for the cloths they had readied, while
the two of them sat to opposite sides of the oblong mystery. A
splinter of shell came loose, and he tugged it free to make room.
A hole grew, and from it poked a tiny egg tooth, chipping away at
the edges of its prison. From the outside, they assisted with the
removal of bits, remaining wary of the infant creature's exertions.

Tom returned with the towels, and together, the three of them
pulled the last bits of shell away from the fourth. Katharine
wiped off the remnants of albumin from the child, then wrapped the
cloth around the small wings and held the bundle close.

"We have a daughter," she said, though to which one of them he
was not certain. "Hello, little angel. Welcome to Avalon." As if
holding her own child, she stroked the soft fuzz of hair, the pug
nose, and she was more beautiful than she had ever been. His eyes
strayed upwards, and he saw Tom watching her as well, entranced.
Then the other man's gaze met his own, almost in challenge, and he
felt his heart freeze as Tom's hand rested against Katharine's
shoulder while she rocked the babe in her arms, singing a lullaby.


"Will you teach me?" piped the little boy beside him, holding
up his makeshift bow in the afternoon light. He could not help but
smile. Such a sweet little lad, Tom was always ready to help, to
learn, to experience what their odd life had to offer.

"Of course." Tom beamed. They found a piece of fallen timber
to serve as a target, with a giant knot in the center for the
bulls-eye. Tom set it up carefully between two trees, then ran
back to him.

Carefully, he placed the bow in the child's hands, guiding
them as they fitted the arrow to its shaft, feathers outward, and
pulled back on the string.

"You must concentrate on your goal," he said quietly. "Keep
the target in your mind. Think of the arrow already lodged in the
wood, then make it happen." The boy's face screwed up in
concentration, and he let loose.

The air sang. He heard the thud before he even saw the
feathers quivering, stopped in their flight, with the head of the
arrow buried deep in the center of the target. Tom let out a shout
of joy, running towards the target with all the boundless energy of
nine years. He could only stand and wonder.


He was a small lad, and the Archmage was coming to his town,
searching for an apprentice. His mother had dressed him in his
best, scrubbed his face, and made him go out with the other
children to watch. He'd seen a crooked old man, nothing more.
Then the man had turned, had looked him in the eye, and he'd grown
dizzy, as if he'd been pulled beneath water. He'd cried out in
pain, and the man had smiled, something more frightening than a
snarl from that face.

"Come with me," he said, and the voice would not allow him to
do otherwise. He went that same day. The Archmage made him bathe
and gave him new pupil's robes. His old clothes were burned before
his bath was complete, and then they were off to court, where there
was much rejoicing over the birth of the first child to Prince
Malcolm and Princess Elena. He'd never returned to his home
village.


He heard the call of the horn. Was Tom finally coming home?
He'd been gone for two weeks from them, over a year in the other
time. Two nights before, Katharine had told him quietly out of the
children's earshot that she feared he had been killed, and the
thought had brought her to tears. He had held her in his arms
then, offering the only comfort he could to her trembling. After
a time, she'd stopped, put on a smile for the little ones, and had
gone back out to tell them a story. He had remained, holding onto
thin air, breathing in the fading traces of her scent.

He made it to the overlook, and saw that she had gone to the
beach, was now tenderly embracing the young man. He moved away
from the cliff before they saw him, and walked slowly back to the
castle alone.


King Kenneth had made his long-promised journey to Castle
Wyvern at last, and there was to be a celebration. He'd been
invited as was his due as the court magician, and he'd dressed for
the occasion in his finest robes. There was wine and music and
more food than had been seen in some time. The Princess sat beside
her uncle, laughing with him and his entourage, occasionally
sparing a glance towards her friends. Then, the musicians started
a more lively song, and she stood up from her seat to dance with
several of the young lords.

He watched her in the smoky firelight, her gown brushing aside
to reveal slim ankles, and his soul flew. There was no other in
the room, in the world, only one young woman moving to the sounds
of a lyre.

There had been talk that the King's visit had a reason, that
he wished to see his niece married soon. Most of the lords around
her craved her hand as jackals did the spoils of a great feast. He
tried to picture her bound to one of the oafs, forced to wed
someone for power and land, but could only see a moth dancing
closer and closer to a bright flame. What hand could touch those
soft wings and not bruise them by the mere holding? How far did
they dare fly before the night ended and they, like the beings that
guarded the castle, grew cold and lifeless at daybreak?


The sun rose over the hills of Avalon, bringing morning and
the time for sleep. He nodded to his friends and bade them a good
day, then made his way towards his own chamber. He was tired,
achingly so. It had been a long night, and he was not growing
younger.

He lay his head against the pillow, then found himself unable
to sleep. After a long time, he arose and found a scroll he had
been reading. He scanned a few lines of the odd script, then
realized his eyes were too tired to translate properly. He needed
sleep, but his nerves were alive, keeping him from it. He paced
for a few minutes, then headed out of his chamber. He'd check to
see if Katharine was asleep yet. Often, the sound of her voice
would be enough to calm him when he was on edge like this.

He paused outside her door, ready to knock lightly, when he
heard the noise. Tom's voice, very low. Had he also been unable
to sleep? That thought remained for about two seconds, and was
gone forever as he heard Katharine's voice, which had been gentle
and soft as she'd told him to sleep well just half an hour past.
Now it was filled with a timbre he'd never before heard from her,
speaking things he'd only known her to whisper in his most secret
and shameful dreams. The awful knowledge shook him, and his legs
grew weak. He slipped to the cold hard flagstones, unable to move
away from the door or escape the murmurs of the lovers beyond it.

He buried his face in his hands, wishing for oblivion.


The fire in the room crackled as it licked at the fine
material of the wedding dress. She was ready to die, probably
*would* end her life rather than marry Constantine. If only they
didn't have the eggs, the five of them could flee tonight and have
done with it. They needed time and a safe haven where they could
raise the young ones in peace. He'd been poring over the Grimorum
for days, searching for some possible escape, and finding none but
what he could not do without her consent.

"Constantine will follow me to the ends of the earth," she said, and he
had his answer.

"Then I'll take you beyond them." There was indeed one place
they could go, one shore that would grant them rest. They would
take Finella and Mary and Tom, and they could raise the gargoyles
together as one family. All they needed was to get the eggs into
a boat and thus to water.


He sat alone by a still pool. It was his own secluded place
on the island, the secret cove in which he found sanctuary when he
could no longer face the two other humans of Avalon. He was
currently reading one of the acquisitions Tom had brought back from
a journey into the other world, something Katharine had given him
as a gift, which was all that saved it from being automatically
despised. He ran his finger over the passage as he read, "But this
rough magic I here abjure ... " The irony made him grimace.

Prospero had lost his kingdom for his magic, and had given
that magic up again to leave his island and live in the real world.
He himself had given up his home *and* his magic for the sake of
someone who barely even noticed his existence these days. When she
wasn't with the children, something rare enough any more, she was
with Tom. He could face losing her to the sacred duty that bound
the three of them, but not to the boy whom he'd once taught to
shoot an arrow.

He caught his own reflection in the water: his eyes had
wrinkles circling them, and his mouth had taken on the form of one
unused to smiling. How long had it been, he wondered? How many
years had passed in the outside world, leaving him behind with
nothing at all? He recalled the wasted years, spent watching from
a distance two people beloved of him, as they pulled further away
from his gaze into a world of their own creation. The worst part
of it all was that he had let them go, had let *her* go, by leaving
a simple question asked in the sunshine unanswered for just
slightly too long.

The pool's surface cracked and shattered with the kiss of a
droplet, fallen from an empty sky.


His eyes misted again, and then focused. She was before him,
touching his hand. In a fragile voice, she whispered, "Magus ...
What have ye done?"

Something was wrong, different. He'd heard those words in his
mind too many times over the years, staring at statues that should
have been stone forever. Her hair had been deep brown then, and
now it was the grey of a storm cloud, yet her eyes were still green
as spring grass. Behind her stood one of those he'd cursed, and
who even now offered his gratitude for watching over the little
ones. Forever had come a bit sooner than planned, but he didn't
mind this once.

So many things he needed to do, to say, but again he could do
nothing, merely turn her words away when she thought to take him to
the palace. This was where he needed to be. If he went back
there, even if he did live, he had died already long ago by not
raging against the dying light of the love they might have shared.
Here, he still had a semblance of his former magic, and that might
be just enough to cast a final spell or two before ...

He closed his eyes.

"You canna leave me!" she said, and was that what she had really
asked him there in the sunlight? To be with her always? Would
that be enough for him? For a thousand years, it had been. No
matter the time spent, no matter what it had cost him, he had been
by her side, and it *had been enough*. How could he even imagine
leaving her now?

"Never," he breathed, letting the last of his borrowed magic
go free with the word.


The eternal summer breeze moved her soft chestnut hair into
her eyes, making her brush it away again. She laughed, and her
eyes were warm and bright. Those eyes touched on his, as if asking
a single longed-for question. His mind thought of a thousand
things to do, to say, and having those thousand, he could find only
one. His lips met hers halfway as he sighed, "My princess ... "

The End