Ahem. I don't feel like saying something chatty, so you're in for a list format. Your loss.

Disclaimer: Ah, bah. I liked original fic for a change. Anyway; all characters, songs, situations, and what have you are the complete property of Susan Cooper. I'm just borrowing.

Warnings: Set within the canon universe, during DiR chapter...something. Contains slash of the Merriman/Hawkin variety (hey, it's an unloved pairing, but somebody's gotta write it!), and of the implied-and-yet-not Merriman/Will variety. And yet not. Because I do not stoop so low yet. Also, gratuitous angst caused by canon. Nyah.

Further Disclaimer: Not responsible for actions. Story caused by the 'Endings and Beginnings' challenge on the Dirslash community on LJ. Actually, it was my challenge. So maybe am responsible. But not likely.

These notes are: Finished.

Time for: The story.

Cantare

"White in the moon the long road lies

That leads me from my love."

From the first childishly simple notes, the Walker's mind was caught and held, bound by a stronger spell than either Light or Dark could cast. The foolish, naive, and still far older than his years boy wasn't using a single speck of his power, and yet the Walker could not look away. Something in the words and pure innocence of the voice that did not, could not possibly understand what it was saying kept him there in the corner, staring.

"Still hangs the edge without a gust,

Still, still the shadows stay:

My feet upon the moonlit dust

Pursue the ceaseless way."

Something in the way the boy stood, self-conscious but joyfully riding the waves of his music, called out to something in the Walker. He could remember standing so, in the hall of a manor far larger than this one, singing a song whose words were long forgotten, but must have been very like these. He remembered thinking many things all at once, minding the words and notes while focusing with all his heart on the tall, dark figure outlined against the leaping flames at the head of the table. It had been important, then, that the figure look at him, if only once. When he had done so, the boy who would become the Walker had almost forgotten to sing in the overwhelming joy caused by a simple smile.

The Old One, the boy, and there was no way to choose between them, was not looking as that boy seven centuries agone had looked, seeking for assurance and so much more. He was merely singing a pretty tune to fill in the time and drive away the cold. The cold...for a moment or two, as he listened, the Walker could feel it too. He had tried to forget what feeling was. But somehow, the song made a difference. The song, and the hall, and the crackling fire.

"The world is round, so travellers tell,

And straight though reach the track,

Trudge on, trudge on, 'twill all be well,

The way will guide one back."

If the Walker were to turn, now, he knew he would find sitting by the hearth the same dark figure that had been silhouetted against another fire so long ago. If he turned, perhaps the white head would turn as well and the same gentle smile find him through the years. But he would not turn. The man he had once loved would not turn to him, would not look at him save as an enemy to his Lord, an enemy he had, perhaps, always been going to be. He would not turn, for even uncertainty would be better than rejection.

In the old manor hall, the Walker watched an echo of his destroyed youth. And, deep within himself, Hawkin wept for what he had lost and would never have again.

"But ere the circle homeward hies

Far, far it must remove;"

The Old One boy's eyes met his, and suddenly the man who had been Hawkin felt his grief deluged by fury. This boy, this naive little boy dared sing such words in such a way when he could have no idea of their true meaning! It was for this boy that he had been asked to give up everything for nothing. And he had given it, thinking he was willing to give anything and everything his Lord might ask of him, thinking so until he had nothing left to give and saw that he was, after all, no more than a means to an end. And end which was this boy, singing as he had sung, being the center of his Lord's attention as he recalled (or was it only fancy?) he had once been. This boy...the aged Walker feared him as an Old One, and was angry for that fear, but Hawkin hated him. Hated, not the Old One in him, but the human, hated him so much it was all he could do not to go for his throat here and now. But that would not work. He knew what would.

The Walker waited on his signal. No one and nothing, not even the dark-cloaked figure who had once been his Lord and more than his Lord, could save him now.

"White in the moon the long road lies

That leads me from my love."