Disclaimer: Everything recognisable as belonging to the world of Velgarth, and the kingdom of Valdemar, is the sole property of the author Mercedes Lackey.

Notes: Just a little story, nothing more…


The Healers say it isn't healthy for me to come out here to see you. I don't listen to them, though. The adage that 'Healers know best' is over quoted, trite and completely untrue. I think they only disagree with my coming here because I refused to see their precious Mind Healer and unburden all my woes, or something similar.

The Healers say that it isn't healthy, but I never listened to them for the entirety of my life up to now, so I don't see why I should suddenly start.

Besides, I like visiting you.

I like visiting here.

The night time wind winds a chilly thread around my neck and shoulders, and I hunch over as much as I can, grateful for the protection afforded by the ever-present scarf. I pull the knitted garment tight under my chin and I stifle a smile. If the faint light from the crescent moon wasn't darkening everything to blacks and shadows, then you'd be able to see that the wool is a deep vermillion colour. Laika brought it for me, and it matches perfectly with my Scarlets.

She doesn't talk about you. Not to me, at least.

So… the Healers think this isn't healthy, you know. Apparently I'm not fit enough to walk along flat surfaces, let alone steal a pair of crutches and vanish off outside at all hours of the day and night. They've given up saying anything overt, but I'd be a poor Bard indeed if I couldn't read people's thoughts and intentions from their body language, wouldn't I? Besides, Laika vocalises what the other Healers are thinking more than enough for the rest of them.

Your daughter has a flair for dramatic rhetoric that is entirely wasted on lecturing herbology to trainees.

She still bought me this scarf, though.

I'm beginning to push to be able to move back into my rooms in Bardic, have been for the past two days. Laika is continuing to refuse to countenance such a thing and I refuse to gain an unfair advantage by using a mention of you to shoot her arguments down. Even though one of the reasons that I would like to move back to my rooms at Bardic is because they used to be our rooms at Bardic.

I wouldn't strike that low a blow at Laika, however. You know she's threatened me injury if I don't stop suffixing the 'in-law' to 'daughter' when people ask about our relation to each other.

I guess we're each other's family now.

Her birthday is coming up; I need to try and cajole one of my older students to take pity on a spavined old cow and trot down into Haven to pick out something nice for her. I'm not entirely sure what, yet, but I was looking through my pack from the— the trip— the other day and I found the bracelets you gave me; made from yours and Mirrim's hair.

I was thinking of getting one inlaid into a silver and crystal mounting and giving that to her. Would she like it, do you think?

The wind is increasing in strength and I have to fumble around with my walking sticks; juggling both into one hand so that I can secure the flapping ends of my scarf, before rebalancing myself. Getting out here isn't exactly fun, especially not at night. For one thing, the Healers are beginning to anticipate me and using a direct route would have me running into a disproportionate number of 'just passing' Healers, Mind Healers and trainees of both ilk.

Tonight I went the long way out the back of the medicinal herb garden and around the salle, then along the bank of the river to get here. I don't know if any Companions saw me— although I imagine that they will have as they rarely seem to miss anything. Certainly, Mirrim always seemed to have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of every event of importance happening within five leagues of Haven.

I did used to sympathise with your complaints about being Chosen by the biggest gossip in the Field, you know. I just never said anything because you seemed to perversely enjoy the complaining at least as much as Mirrim enjoyed gossiping.

Did you know that the ground between the riverbank and here is unusually lumpy? I'd be tempted to blame rabbits except I know there aren't any rabbits in Companion's Field because of the dangers of potholes. I guess the contours of the ground you're walking over are entirely subjective and dependant on whether you're a four footed Companion, or a somewhat worse for wear Bard with a pair of sticks.

You don't necessarily have to mention to the Groveborn that I said that.

One of the Mind Healers cornered me yesterday, that was why I didn't visit. He backed me into a corner and tried to smother me in concern that I wasn't exhibiting the kinds of outward emotional displays that he felt was healthy to the Healing process. Apparently I should be angry and grieving in a fashion obvious enough that a blind beggar fiver streets away would notice.

I tartly gave him a piece of my mind. Emotions, I wrote, happen to be highly personal things that I don't feel should be externalised for the vilification of interfering spectators. The most inconvenient aspect about having to communicate solely with pieces of paper is that it somewhat crimps one's style in an argument. I did try, for a few days, to indicate when I was shouting by writing extra large, but all that got me to an absolute drift of waste paper and a sense of guilt about how much I was costing the Palace in terms of paper.

What I wrote got his back up, I could see that, and he opened his mouth to give me— presumably— a large piece of his own mind, heavily flavoured with pointless Mind Healing platitudes. In anticipation of this, however, because I've found that Mind Healers are nothing if not a predictable bunch, I had already written my reply. I handed it to him and stalked off as well as a person with half a wooden leg and two walking sticks that she's not entirely adept with can.

What did I tell him? Something you told me once, after the Bell had rung for one of your year mates.

Those who we don't forget never truly die.

It sounds suspiciously like something a Mind Healer themselves would say and I always thought that Laika had originally said it to you. In any event; since using that prime piece of Mind Healer advice, I've not seen a single one. Hopefully they're not off in a corner somewhere regrouping and plotting to ambush me. The fact that a whole Collegium full of them hasn't seemed to play any great part in my recovery since the— the trip— seems to have annoyed them.

I suppose that being flummoxed by one crippled Bard who can't even speak is somewhat galling and demeaning.

Oh well, they shall get over it, I imagine.

One idea that I do agree with, however, is that I should go back to… that place… or at least, to the same forest— the same village— again.

I think that it will help me with the nightmares. I can still feel the blade slicing across my neck and the warm, wet feeling as I clutched at my neck. I'm also not so good if I've been remembering the— when I was in the woods alone… after. Although when I'm dreaming is the only time that I really remember that. Laika thinks it has something to do with my subconscious trying to protect me, and the fact that the wounds on my neck and leg were infected and I was hallucinating.

She also thinks that going back might lessen my phobias of the dark and open spaces.

The new Circuit Herald for that area tells me that he personally hunted down every last member of the bandit group that… that ambushed… us in the woods and they have all been administered Heraldic justice.

Strange that I'm scared of the dark and of open spaces, and yet I'm not scared about standing in the depths of Companion's Field in the middle of the night. I think it's because I'm here.

I came here for a reason, tonight, you know. Not just to talk to you.

I finished the song.

I've come to sing it to you

The light is very poor now; the moon is half hiding behind a thin, high scattering of clouds, and I can hardly see the smooth white stone of the monument that is standing in front of me. I certainly can't read the words carved upon its surface.

Instead I shift my sticks over to one hand again and reach out with the other to trace the neatly chiselled letters as I close my eyes.

Herald Darrin Tathler and Companion Mirrim

Your names have four below them now.

With my eyes closed, I can almost imagine that the feel of my coat pressing against my sides isn't because of the fabric straining at my hunched posture, but because your arms around me. By the same token, the puff of air on my right cheek isn't a chilly midnight breeze; it is Mirrim's warm, hay-scented breath.

I smile, and inside my head I begin to sing.

It's a private song, this one. I haven't even committed a single note of it to paper, nor do I think that I ever will. This is not a song for other people.

This is a song about silver and about light, and it is a song about speed and freedom and wildness and spirit.

It is a song about joy and love and happiness, and it is a song about sadness and sorrow and it is a song about how they are all wound up together to make up the great symphonic movement that is life.

I can remember how my voice sounds and I can remember how your voice sounds and in my head I can wind together my own mezzo-soprano with your baritone until they are indistinguishable and inseparable.

It is a song about first times and last times, about finding things and cherishing things.

I can also remember the living sound of Mirrim's hooves and I blend that into my song as I sing.

It is a song about beginnings and endings.

This is a song about how I am feeling now and what I felt during various thens and it is a relief to define all of those states.

This is sometimes a song about me.


But most of all— this song is a song about Darrin and this song is a song about Mirrim and it is a song about the hollow space you have left in so many lives.

This is a song about Darrin and a song about Mirrim and as long as it is sung and remembered then neither of you will ever really be gone.

I hope you both like it, my love.