Andrema's Bell

by Thyme In Her Eyes

Author's Notes: Something a little different this time, and not a Steerpike to be seen! This is a short piece about the madness of Sepulchrave Groan, set during his scene with Fuchsia at the burned library when he fully becomes the "death-owl". I think it fits both the original book and the BBC miniseries, so choose whichever version of the story you feel like. Enjoy, and remember that all feedback is helpful and deeply appreciated.

-- ANDREMA'S BELL --

Thoughts shake their feathers and flutter from their perches, shrieking as they go. Disturbed, they nest in safer and darker places as Sepulchrave regards his daughter with distant and sad eyes. Her own are darker than his books, pages once white, then yellow, now made black by fire.

More than the reminder of the burning, it is forming words in his own mind that pains him, for they are not those he lost. They do not return and he is alone. His cherished words are gone, reduced to nothing and erased by flame, and Fuchsia fails to grieve their deaths or see how their ghosts sweep through the night skies. How they cry and scream, how they hunt and feed.

The sad-eyed Earl's mouth has been loosened and broken by loss and the lines of it flow everywhere in wild and slippery disorder, prompting smiles that slide away under landslides of affliction. The child is frightened. He knows so little about her and wonders if she fears the dark, or the things that speak within it. Disruptive screeches and soothing whispers drip and congeal whilst Fuchsia's distress is heavy and clumsy; her sudden gush of love intense and ugly as her red face and glassy eyes, both swollen with misery and pity. The eyes of owls offer more and they watch with absolute stillness and silence, prophesying darkness in their stares.

Yet he pities her, this crimson and fatherless girl. She is too raw and will bring herself to harm one day. The dark will anticipate this morsel and will wait for her. Death has already picked the time of their first and last encounter and has anguished and fussed lovingly over the perfect spot and crowning moment. It looks forward to meeting her there and having the very eyes of her.

Sepulchrave gathers his expansive wings around the lost child, keeping her close as she shudders and chokes with pain and confusion. Together they are silent and motionless. His plumage absorbs her few mild tremors and his affection is a seal, his words a promise. Their melancholy dreams will be no more and doom will settle its feathered shroud on their open mouths. A cry of a small bird overhead is brought to swift silence and his smile crawls upwards once more, cracked and grasping.

His words mean to soothe – he understands their consolation. Though she cannot possibly be a child of his as she believes, she has an owl's thanks. She is the last dim echo of Andrema's bell; the voice of the poet trembles in her. Yet already fire eats at her edges and seeks more. The meaning is gone, the pulse fading. His bleak stare mourns her as he contemplates the winged and circling shadows of his brethren, reflecting in the dark pools of her eyes.

-- FIN --