A/N This is a small interlude that could fit into the world I have created in 'Cloak's' and 'The Steward's Coup' although I hope it also stands alone.
The River's Gavotte.
He had learned to dance on the water long ago.
Long ago when dragons and battles and knights in shining armour were the stuff of legend and dreams. In that land by the sea, where crystal waters lapped at the shore of silver sand he had danced in the waves, kept safe by the steadying hands of his brother; his golden, shining brother.
Loving hands had taught him to swim until they could leap and dive together like otters, confident and supple as they gambolled in the surf. And when they were worn-out they allowed the water to cradle them as they danced. They would float on the water, arms and legs outstretched, fingers entwined and watch the sky; watch the birds swoop and the clouds shift and merge until the surf carried them to rest on the sand.
Life was good and the water was their friend; their partner in the dance.
Sometimes even love isn't enough and it grieved him to know that they could see his pain. He hadn't the words to express his gratitude for their love and support, even when it failed to pierce the grey fog that enveloped him like a smothering blanket.
He sat and watched the moonlight as its silver light played over the face of his beloved. He played a lock of her silken hair through his fingers, raised it to his face to breath in the scent of her, kissed it before laying it back on the pillow, not wishing to disturb her quiet slumber.
They had made love; he had sought healing in her arms, had called her name at the height of his passion, and had cradled her until sleep had claimed her. But sleep eluded him. The pull of old grief that would not let him be.
The water called to him.
He moved silently through the darkened corridors and out into the pre-dawn stillness of the sleeping city. At the stables he woke a groom and had his horse saddled. He waited in the chill courtyard and gazed out across the plain to where the moonlight glittered on the dark ribbon of the water.
The river waited.
He walked his mount down through the silent streets and at the City gates he waited patiently for the Guards to release the fastenings and swing the mighty gates open. He leapt into the saddle with no hindrance from his disabled arm and urged the horse onward to the river, riding until the sun was half way to its zenith
He had no difficulty finding the right spot, a well remembered site of happier times, a playground of his youth.
At a bend in its course, the river had created a sandy-shored cove, a deep pool separated from the main channel by an outcrop of rocks. He led the horse to the water and allowed him to drink his fill before tethering him to a low branch. For a while he sat on the sand and gazed across the pool and out to the river beyond, remembering; not noticing his hunger or the warmth of the sun.
He slowly stripped off his boots and neatly folded his clothes and set them away from the waters edge. He walked forward and flinched as his toes registered the icy chill of the water. He paused for only a moment and walked into the water until he reached the centre of the pool, the water up to his waist. He held his hands above his head and turned slowly.
"Dance with me brother," he whispered as he lay back on the water, arms and legs outstretched. The flow of the water through the pool created a gentle whirlpool effect and it slowly spun him round. With eyes open he watched the sky, not feeling the movement of the water. As a child he had believed that it was the world that turned and him that was still; now he knew better but the image remained. He allowed the tears to flow, burning tears that mingled with the rivers of remembrance. He lost track of time as the frigid water robbed him of warmth.
And still he danced.
He didn't hear the horses approach or the concerned call of anxious voices. He wasn't aware when strong, loving arms pulled him from the river's cold embrace and wrapped him in cloak and blankets by the warmth of a fire.
And when he finally found his voice they had to lean in close to hear his whisper.
"He loved to dance!"