Title: Faire Things
Fandom: Forever Knight
Disclaimer: None of the characters, settings or concepts belongs to me. All of them belong to the creators of the show 'Forever Knight'.
Summary: A fun winter's evening leads to some reminiscing.
Archiving: FKFanfic, FKFanfic2, the 'FTP site', just let me know if you want it.
Note: Inspired by the discovery that the Belgian breed of draft horse is also called the Brabrant. The relay event described in part three does actually exist, and I've seen it on the TV done at the Royal Winter Fair.
Despite the colder, wet weather, there were advantages to the oncoming winter, Natalie thought as she waited outside her apartment building for Nick to arrive. Namely, that the sunset came so early now. It was dark enough for the vampire to venture out safely by around four o'clock in the afternoon by this point in November. The quietly falling snow glistened on the sidewalk in the light of the street lamp, but was not yet deep enough to hinder driving. It also seemed to muffle the sounds of the city. He'd phoned a few minutes before to say that he was almost at her place, and rather than forcing her friend to find a parking place and come up to get her, Natalie had decided to meet him at the street.
They'd taken to doing things together on their nights off over the past several months, and found that they were having fun. Not to mention that as they learned more about each other, their friendship deepened. So far, they'd been to the theater a couple of times, once for some modern play, and the second time for a presentation of one of Agatha Christie's mysteries. Both of them had found the second play to be very well done and more to their tastes than the first, and were now keeping an eye out for more productions by that company. Sometimes, they simply went to one of the smaller art galleries. Natalie thought it would be fun to go to the museum with Nick, and maybe convince him to tell her more stories about the things he'd seen and the people he had met over the eight centuries he'd been on the earth.
However, much to the frustration of their co-workers, particularly Grace and Tracy, they both agreed that they were not dating, but simply good friends, as they'd maintained all along.
Tonight they were keeping up with one of Natalie's traditions, going to the Royal Winter Fair. Some years she'd had to miss out on the event as she was on duty, but it had been a traditional event for her since childhood to go to the fair. Much to her surprise, she had found out a few days earlier that Nick had never been to the Royal.
"You've been in Toronto for how many years now and never been to the Royal? It's large enough that some of the events, particularly the show-jumping make it onto the T.V. across Canada." She had asked in surprise earlier in the week. At Nick's head-shake she continued, "in November it's dark enough in the evenings that you can go, and it's on this weekend. You've got the night off on Saturday, right?"
Nick surrendered to Natalie's enthusiasm and soon enough they were planning out an evening at the fair for Saturday evening, which was tonight.
Before Natalie was too chilled, Nick arrived and she got in, finding that the car was pleasantly warm. It had been running long enough that the heater was properly warmed up, not blowing cold air instead of hot. As an older car, Nick's was particularly prone to this. She chuckled as she closed the door.
"What's so funny?" the other occupant of the vehicle asked.
"We won't have to search too hard to find the car when we're done tonight, though we will probably have trouble finding a place to park when we get there," Natalie replied. Nick's car was distinctive, both because of the colour, an unusual shade of green, and because it was a classic car. It was also the subject of many jokes around the precinct.
As Natalie suspected, it did take them some time to find a parking place. Still, by around five thirty, they were lining up for admittance to the fair along with quite a few other people. Looking at the program the coroner had been handed along with her ticket, to see what differences there were to the events listed in the paper they had looked at a few days before, the two of them discussed what they wanted to see and do.
The first thing they did however was to stop at one of the vendors and buy Natalie a hotdog and some cotton candy. Given that the evening was supposed to be fun, Natalie didn't try to convince Nick to get a hot-dog, but she did talk him into trying some of the cotton-candy when they got inside the stadium where the equestrian events were being held. That part of the program both of them found to be a big draw.
For Natalie, the draw was mostly that leftover love of horses which most children have. She suspected that for Nick it was something more. After all, he'd lived through the times when horses were the major form of land transport. They found seats near the front by the arena, and settled in to watch the horses. Right then it was an exhibition of carriage driving, which the competitors made look easy.
"It's not as easy as they make it look," he said to her as they watched the competitors navigate through a set course made up of orange cones. In reply she handed him a large wad of the cotton-candy. Natalie had to grin at his expression as he took the sticky blue substance. He just looked at it for a few seconds, not trying it.
"Try it, it's mostly air." Natalie took some for herself and as she ate it, Nick took a taste, and then a second as it dissolved on his tongue with no ill effects. By the time the winners had been declared and the cones cleared out of the arena, he had finished it, though he declined to take any more and she didn't push it, instead noting the positive sign in her head. Now he was trying to clean the melted sugar off of his face, with little success.
For the next little while, the two friends wandered the buildings, looking at the various exhibits, which ranged from the local 4H to a display on the history of tractors. Nick had interesting little comments for each of the exhibits, things which could be explained by a knowledge of history, but which Natalie knew were based on personal experience. Some of then were downright funny too, such as his story of being chased by a bull when he was a child. Of course, he gave no dates, in case they were overheard, but Natalie valued these little anecdotes because Nick so rarely shared them.
Eventually, around seven thirty, they returned to the area the horse show was being held in and watched the last couple of classes of the draft horses, before the big event of the evening started, the show-jumping.
As they found a pair of good seats, the announcer was describing the various types of the draft horses entering the ring. Natalie and Nick were only half paying attention to what he was saying, instead watching the incoming horses. "...brabrant is another name for the Belgian breed, which is thought to be one of the oldest breeds of draft horse in existence, possibly dating back to the European Forest horse. As the name suggests, this breed originated in the region of Flanders in Belgium. Recently, there has been a resurgence in their popularity." When Natalie heard the word 'brabrant' her full attention went to the announcer, and she looked at Nick. Unfortunately, the announcer had said all he was going to about that, and went on to describe the next horse entering the ring. "This next horse is a Clydesdale, one of the more commonly seen draft horses these days. Not as large as the Shire..." After listening for a minute or two more, she tuned him out again.
Nick was watching the horse the announcer had called a 'Belgian' with a far-away look on his face. Natalie could tell that her friend was lost in some memory for the moment. She just hoped that it was a happy one, unlike so many of his memories.
After a moment or two, all of the horses for this class had entered the show ring. In total, there were nine of them, and as the gate closed, Nick came out of his memory and began to speak softly. Natalie could only just hear him over the sounds of the crowd around them.
"Those were the horses the farmers used when I was young." he said. To Natalie it was clear that he was editing the story somewhat so that it was safe for anyone who overheard any of it. She suspected that the 'farmers' were actually 'peasants' or 'serfs'. After all, it was the eleventh century he was talking about. Once Nick had told her when he had been born, Natalie had done a little reading, wanting to understand the man she was rapidly becoming friends with.
He continued, adding, "every farm was worked by either horses like those, or by oxen. That one in the ring is identical to so many of them." The horse in question was a bright reddish chestnut with white markings on it's face. "During the medieval times, that breed was also called the Flanders horse. The announcer's right, they were originally bred from the european forest horse, although nobody is really sure when." He added in an even quieter voice, "the best of the breed originally came from my family's lands, which is why they are sometimes known as the 'brabrant'."
He continued, speaking in a louder voice again, "some historians believe that these horses were the ones from which the medieval war horse was bred. It's possible, even likely, though I suspect that the war-horses could not have been pure belgians. These horses are too round in the barrel for easy riding."
Nick fell silent, and the two sat watching the competition. When the winners were announced, the Belgian came in second, just behind the Shire. After that, the ring was raked smooth and the jumps were set up for the final class of the night. It was, according to the program to be a 'relay' of sorts.
As the riders walked the course, the announcer explained the rules. The only difference between this event and the regular show-jumping was that each entry was to be paired with a dog. "First the horse and rider will go around the course, then as soon as they are past the end timer, the dog will be released to go around the smaller course set among the jumps. Their combined time is what will be used to decide the winner. The dogs are the Canada-famous SuperDogs. Lades and Gentlemen, the event will start in about five minutes."
Natalie added a few more details to the explanation, having seen the event before. "The rider and dog pairs are chosen at random. I always feel a little sorry for the ones who get the small dogs as they have no real chance, but those dogs are always the crowd pleasers."
They watched the show, laughing at the antics of the dogs, and when it was over, around nine thirty, wandered the fair until closing time.
In the car, Nick said, "I had a great time tonight, thanks for letting me know about the fair."
"You're welcome," Natalie replied.
Once he had gotten the car going, Nick spoke again. "You know, that wasn't all that different from the fairs of my youth. We had the livestock competitions, the craft competitions, food stalls and entertainers as well. It's just the setting that's different, with this one being in buildings rather than the open air and tents." He continued comparing the two, with Natalie listening avidly until it was time for him to let her off at her apartment.