Master and Mage

By Sam Davidson

Disclaimer: Susan Cooper graced the world with these characters, and we mortals may only pick them up and play with them, putting them back gratefully when we are done.

A/N: I miss writing fanfiction, so I have decided to have another go. Please tell me if it's crap, and I'll stop—otherwise I shall continue (I actually have an idea of where this one is going). Yes, as others I have written, it will be slash, though probably not for a while.

Chapter One: Where are they now?

Bran Davies could never quite shake the feeling that there was something odd about him. Well, something other than his unnaturally pale skin and hair and his glowing tawny eyes. He had long since gotten used to those, and while people still gave him odd looks when they thought he wasn't watching, at least the merciless teasing he had been subjected to in primary school had faded away with time. And yet there was something else, something that separated him from the rest of his mates at school, even those who had known him long enough that they no longer noticed his appearance as anything other than normal.

Oh, give me a break, he told himself, dropping into the driver's seat of his rather beat-up Saab. Different? Different my arse. Insular is what you are. Antisocial, self-pitying, holier-than-thou…But it would be different at uni, he rationalised, pulling out of the library car park and heading out of Tywyn. It had to be different. There would be others like him—others who cared about learning and would get engaged in debates about etymology, or Marx, or devolution. He would find true friends… Bran had to cut off this train of thought as he manoeuvred around the orange pylons marking off construction on the roundabout at the edge of town. One of the road workers looked up as he passed, but Bran paid him no mind, exiting the roundabout and setting off on the road that led up into the hills toward home.

Will Stanton sighed as he watched Bran pass. He had started periodically checking in on the Welsh boy soon after his memories of their shared adventures had been erased, but always like this, always in secret. He was the cashier at the supermarket, a passer-by in the street. Once, the previous year, he had interviewed Bran during the university application process—it was the most personal contact they had had in five years, and Bran didn't even know it was him. Their friendship had become awkward after that fateful summer, and had soon died away completely, just as Will had planned. And yet, he still checked in, picking up whatever bits of information he could about his former friend's life. It was infuriating sometimes, how little he could learn in these brief encounters. It always left him wanting to know more. He didn't even know where Bran had ended up deciding to go to uni. But it was important for Will just to see, to know that Bran was okay. He checked in on the others as well: John Rowlands, his aunt and uncle, Stephen, and his other siblings as, one by one, they left home. He felt responsible for them all.

Will's own turn to leave home was fast approaching. He was going to Oxford to study anthropology, and the part of him that was still an eighteen-year-old boy was starting to get excited. He did, after all, have many years ahead of him before his immortality would begin to confront him with the inevitable painful questions, and for now, he could enjoy the rich world of academia that he believed to be embodied in Oxford University. Before that, though, you need to get back to Buckinghamshire and feed the chickens, a voice in his head reminded him. As he had discovered, no amount of toying with time would enable him to bend the laws of cause and effect—as long he did not feed the chickens, they would remain unfed, and he would have to deal with one irate Alice Stanton. With another sigh, he lay down his shovel and walked away, shimmering and vanishing as his steps carried him home.