Author's Note: I have no idea where this came from or why. It's just a little oneshot that popped into my head while I was listening to an MP3 yesterday. It wouldn't go away until I agreed to let it out. :) I'm still working on the next great epic... but this demanded an out... so here it is. - Nika
The music played soft and melodious, drifting along the light summer breeze as it glided through the darkened clearing. Quiet murmurs of conversation skirted the edge of the fire, respectful of the couples dancing in the golden glow of the flames.
Ronon stood in the shadows, his shoulder bent against the bark of an ancient tree. With arms crossed, his eyes played across the crowd. Four generations of one family were gathered together. Four generations. And exactly seventy one years.
Seventy one years to cheat death. To survive disease and disaster and living your life in fear. To survive the Wraith. Seventy one years. The exact age, to the day, of the family's patriarch. The elderly man who's day of birth they were all gathered here to celebrate.
Few men lived to see their children's children in this galaxy, and even fewer made it to see the following generation born. This man not only survived, he did it with the strength and cunning of a man who lead his clan - his family - to prosperity of life through the years to a total of seven great-grandchildren. A feat worthy of a celebration, and of future tales of greatness. He'd lost many along the way. But he'd also kept many alive.
As the dancers slowly shifted, Ronon's eyes split the crowd to the far side, following the old man, and the young woman who held his rapt attention as they circled slowly to the music. The light of the fire sparked and glowed, highlighting her hair with traces of gold as she turned, her smile for the man who pulled her around in time with the dulcet sounds of the musicians.
Ronon's eyes met the man's, a question rising. Blocked again by another dancer, they reappeared, and the look was gone. Ronon watched as he whispered something in her ear. Jennifer nodded, and at the man's answering words, he saw her smile. Bright and teasing, she commented in return. With a flash of surprise, the older man stopped dancing, a momentary pause in his footsteps before mirth crossed his features and he laughed aloud, pulling Jennifer into a strong hug. Ronon watched with curiosity as the couple pulled apart, and the elder man gently lead her away from the fire and the dance, and into the shadows along the edge of the clearing, their footsteps bringing them directly to him.
Nodding at the patriarch, Ronon met the man's eyes. The body betrayed the age, but the eyes showed clarity of intelligence, strength, and conviction of purpose. Releasing Jennifer, the man reached forward, his fingers locking strongly against Ronon's right forearm. As Ronon grasped the man's arm in return, he immediately fell into the greeting, letting the man pull him forward until their right shoulders touched briefly before straightening. The gesture was as familiar to him as his name.
"It is as I thought." The old man nodded, his face and eyes serious. "You carry yourself well, boy."
Ronon nodded, the surprise at finding not only a fellow Satedan, but one with such a large family, stealing his voice.
Releasing Ronon's arm with the barest of nod's, the old man stepped back. "Aye." He smiled, glancing quickly over his shoulder at the members of his large family. "We are never lost so long as we remember."
"Papa! Papa, come!" A young voice called from across the clearing and the man waved his acknowledgement at the small child.
Turning back to Jennifer, he bowed slightly. "I thank you for the dance. It isn't often this old man is able to move with the music in the arms of such a beautiful woman. If I were a younger man, I might just see if you were right."
Ronon watched with a mix of curiosity and amusement as Jennifer blushed furiously, the heat in her cheeks warming his heart as it always did.
"And I also thank you for the birth of my great-grandsons." The old man continued. "You have a place in our family, and our hearts. Anything you ever need, it is yours."
"I just glad I was able to help." With a soft smile, Jennifer leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "And if you were a younger man," she grinned as she straightened. "I might just take you up on that offer."
With a hearty laugh the old man shook his head, and turned towards Ronon. "There is not enough of the true light in this world." He shook his head slowly, the laughter fading. "Much has been lost, boy. But with true light, we will regain what was once ours." With a soft sigh, his smile slowly bent into a serious stare, his lips reciting the traditional saying from rote.
Ronon found his own voice joining without hesitation. In tandem they recited the words.
True light breaks darkness with swiftness of blade.
Essence encircled; In silver is claimed.
Sun pairs the moon to Eternity's gain.
In darkness protected, true light will reign.
"So shall it be." Ronon finished after a pause, his eyes trapped in the chilling blue of the old man.
"So shall it be." The elder repeated, his lips pursed in satisfaction. With a jovial laugh, his weathered face cracked into a wide grin and his eyes dropped to the weapon holstered at Ronon's side. "The task is not easy, boy."
"Life never is, old man." Ronon acknowledged with a knowing smirk of his own.
"No," the man laughed, his nod light, but his words true. "Life never is."
And with a smile and a parting nod to Jennifer, the elder turned and walked away.
Ronon felt the shift in presence as she slipped in beside him, her body close, but not touching. Angling his head he glanced down at her profile, a tiny smile tugging her lips as she watched the old man's retreat.
"What did you say to him?" He finally asked, curiosity gaining over the contentment to simply stand and stare.
"Hmm?" Her head turned and she looked up at him, eyes sparkling with the reflection of the fire. Gods she was beautiful.
He blinked past the distraction to finish his thought. "When you were dancing. You had him laughing. What were you two talking about?"
She laughed, wrinkled her nose and shook her head.
"What?" He shifted, fighting the curiosity with a smile of his own.
"He asked…" She lightly bit her lower lip before continuing. "If I realized I was being watched."
"Watched?" Ronon frowned, a skip in his heart as he scanned the crowd, suddenly unsure.
"No, silly." She grinned, backhanding him across the chest, commanding his eyes back to hers. "Watched by you."
"Oh." It was all he could think to say.
She stepped away from the clearing, from the fire, from the dance, and further into the shadows. The loss of presence subconsciously pulled him to follow.
"What did he mean he'd see if you were right?"
"I simply pointed out that… it wasn't me you were keeping an eye on." She said softly, and he felt the barest brush of cool skin against the side of his hand.
His fingers instantly trapped hers to spin her into the shadows behind a massive, split trunk. With hands against her narrow waist he lowered himself onto the deadfall, trapping her between his thighs.
"Then..." She laughed. "I told him he'd better behave himself."
"You did, huh." He grinned up at her.
"I did." She smiled, and twisted the ends of his dreadlocks away from his neck. "He's Satedan, isn't he?" She asked after a few moments, her expression soft and sad, an emotion he felt reflected in his own heart at the losses suffered by his people.
"He's an amazing man." Her palms slid down his bare arms to land against the back of his hands, which still encircled her waist. Moving her hands back up to his shoulders, she leaned forward, angling her head until her forehead touched his. "I think it's genetic."
"You do, huh."
"The poem you recited…" She asked softly. "Tell me it again?"
Ronon's heart twisted, bright and hopeful against his ribs at the request. The words were wistful, a reflection of another time, a greater time. But somehow through it all he'd obviously not forgotten. He'd even surprised himself with the clarity of his memory.
"Ronon?" She frowned, and he knew his silence was causing her worry. Her voice softened and she sighed and straightened. "I'm sorry. I… It was just so pretty. It sounded… special somehow. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."
He shook his head, unable to explain. "You didn't."
His fingers reached for the softness of her hair, twining through the golden strands to pull her head closer. "It's just an old Satedan saying," he murmured against her mouth.
"Well, it sounded beautiful." She whispered, the rest of her thought lost.
In the shadows of the family of his people, he kissed her, the words echoing through his soul. In hope, in dream, he silently chanted the passage in his head as her body pressed closer. They were not given lightly, these words, and for the lucky, spoken only once in a lifetime. In singularity, it was a promise. A pledge of protection and dedication, of virtue and respect.
As he held her against him, her soft kisses tasting of laughter and sunshine, his heart agreed with the promise he'd just made the old man.
Protect. Love. Honor.
Said together, in the presence of an elder, it was the Passage of Binding.
A Satedan wedding.
In his heart he knew they'd been said alone. But it didn't matter. It was a promise made, and a promise he'd keep. For now, for this night, it was enough to know the woman in his arms was rightfully his in the eyes of his people.
His to love, his to honor, and his to protect.
So shall it be.