Title: The First Precept
Author: Raindrops on Roses
Word Count: 1,016
Fandom: Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey
Spoilers: Kushiel's Dart
Summary: Elua's only commandment was, "Love as thou wilt." To Hyacinthe, it is the easiest and most difficult commandment to follow.
Author's Note: Written for wanderlustlover for Yuletide 2007.
I met Alcuin nó Delaunay only once. It was many years ago; a lifetime, it seems. It was before ambition and betrayal threatened to tear Terre d'Ange apart; before Phèdre's name was hailed throughout the realm as a heroine; before, even, Delaunay's pupils had taken their vows to Naamah.
Long before I became stuck on this damnable rock, with only servants and gulls for company.
He was so young then; we all were. Phèdre had coaxed him away from his books, out into a gentle spring day. Night's Doorstep was alive as it normally only was in the evening; everyone wished to be outside, enjoying the sunlight, the warmth, the sweet, clean scent carried by the wind from the trees of Mont Nuit.
Alcuin and Phèdre drew attention almost immediately. Beauty abounds in Terre d'Ange, but Alcuin nó Delaunay was like a lustrous pearl beside Phèdre's onyx. It was not merely his physical beauty--though I recall many a poem inspired by his eyes alone--but his air of grave dignity. He seemed solemn, untouchable; far too perfect for us commoners and outcasts.
And then he smiled.
It was as if he had been lit from within; my heart hurt from looking upon it. Phèdre understood, of course. I believe that was the only moment I ever truly envied her; that she was allowed to know such kindness and joy in the form of a brother.
Most of what I know of Alcuin nó Delaunay, I did not learn from him, but Phèdre. He was charming, and quite knowledgeable on many subjects; he loved the written word, but did not seem so fond of the spoken one. Neither Phèdre nor I minded; we were rather self-centered when young, and quickly slipped into our usual debates on the latest rumors and Palace gossip. Alcuin was always there, though, on the periphery, listening as if what we discussed was of the utmost importance.
Perhaps it was; while I was skilled at gathering information, it took me a good deal of time to learn how that information could be wielded as other than currency.
When Guy arrived to escort the two home, I felt an odd sense of loss. It always seemed as if Phèdre had never visited for long enough, but this was different. Alcuin had brought a serenity with him that I never thought I would enjoy. The Prince of Travellers never remained still for long, but I would have gladly done so then, for even one more minute of that feeling.
That day faded into memory, blurring with so many other days in a city buzzing with intrigue. I was a young man, high-spirited and merry; I was well on my way to reigning over Night's Doorstep, and I knew it. One boy, no matter how lovely, was not enough to distract me from the many wonders of my life then.
I recalled it, of course, when the news of the massacre of Anafiel Delaunay's household reached my ears. My grief over the death of a beautiful young man was far outweighed by that of the loss of my best friend, however, and the shock and anger from the rumors being bandied about regarding Phèdre and Joscelin's disappearance from the City.
I am not certain why I think of the boy so often now. For the longest time, he was never more than a passing interest in my life; important only because he was loved by Phèdre, my Queen of Courtesans. Even now, he is a mere footnote in history; fosterling of Anafiel Delaunay, who was beloved of Rolande de la Courcel; brother to Phèdre nó Delaunay, Comtesse de Montrève, who was foil to Melisande Shahrizai, Terre d'Ange's greatest traitor.
It may be because the same has happened to me. After all, I somehow doubt it is well-known that a Tsingano half-breed is to become the next Master of the Straits.
Perhaps it is because he is the purest follower of Elua's first precept that I have ever known.
Blessed Elua once commanded us, Love as thou wilt. To do otherwise is unthinkable--in fact, it is blasphemy--but at times, it is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I have dedicated my life to power I never wanted, for one reason: so that Phèdre could survive--could live, and not merely exist as I do now.
Phèdre--my dear, courageous, brilliant Phèdre!--has endured pain beyond reckoning for her love. That Cassiline of hers broke one vow to uphold another. Her Majesty the Queen balances her two greatest loves, never able to devote herself fully to either.
I have seen two of the greatest examples of love a man could ever see. They are as different as two people can be--light and dark, male and female, sweet and spice, defiant and yielding, living and dead--but they have that one thing in common; the ability to love and to follow that love to whatever end it may lead.
Alcuin... he was love. A shining grace that blessed all who knew him. It is his patience and devotion that I think of when I chafe at the geis that now binds me.
Both of Anafiel Delaunay's students have those qualities in abundance, but Phèdre's love shows itself with constant struggle--the struggle to live, to help, to save, to heal. She knows the pleasure in surrender, yes, but that is not what defines her; rather, it is defiance.
Alcuin knew how to wait, to watch quietly, with infinite patience, not knowing if he would ever be rewarded for it, but knowing that if he was, that reward would be worth any price.
That is the type of patience I need now. I do not know if Phèdre will ever find the answers she seeks; I may be in the service of the Master of the Straits for years, decades... centuries. I will try to accept my burden, try to focus on my studies, rather than the barren years that may be ahead of me.
I shall try to allow hope and love to hold me up in the face of loneliness and despair.