Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog. All characters and general story line belong to Saban. This particular story line however, is my own, and I hope that you all enjoy it
Title: To Lead or Not to Lead
Danu is the Celtic Goddess of Wind, wisdom, and fertility.
A fortnight is a period of two weeks, or fourteen days.
Mabon is the Celtic fall harvest and period of thanksgiving, as well as the Fall Equinox.
The Solstice being referred to is the Winter Solstice, better known as Yule.
Kells: 4 Seasons after Meave's banishing
Another winter had come to the Isle of Eire, bringing with it the cold gusts of the north and the grey skies. The Winter Solstice would arrive soon, bringing with it the joy of the people for the Earth being reborn in the coming Spring. In the few seasons that had passed since Maeve's over throw, the villages that had been burnt and other wise damaged from the long fought battles had been rebuilt. Villagers were now turning the earth and planting seeds in preparation for the next harvest.
As the calm permeated the village, it did the same with the royal house of Kells. The castle's gates had been reconstructed with a heavier, cherry oak wood and thicker wooden beam to further keep out any enemy who wished to gain access to the castle, and to pre-empt future attacks from any nation, soldiers had begun construction on outposts surrounding the castle at strategic points that would be manned fully in the event of a siege. Slowly but surely, the tension that had filled the kingdom during the Temra/Kells war had diminished, and the people knew peace for the first time in many years.
From the castle walls on it's southern side, Deirdre could just make out one of the villages beyond the trees and smiled softly to herself. Every now and again, the form of a child would come darting in between the trees, and she could tell they were happily playing a game of some sort. Excited screams told her that the game was competitive in nature and she had been witness to many a triumphant holler since she'd taken her post on the wall. She sat atop the stone structure as she did when she was a child, her legs dangling off the edge of the concrete, the drop below a fair warning that the lander would not like the consequences if he or she fell or jumped. She didn't care though; she had the grace of a bird, and the balance of a cat.
A cold wind blew through the air, and her smile widened as she clutched the fur throw over her shoulders to keep the warmth in her body. Every time she felt Danu at her back, Deirdre felt a since of peace and comfort within herself. Kells had been at war with Temra since she was the age 10, and although she was glad that the war was now over, Deirdre still had to come to terms with not living in a war like state every day. The wind that caressed her skin was an unmistakable reminder that she still had the power within her to protect her country if need be again.
Foot steps grinding against the concrete behind her brought her back to reality and she turned to acknowledge her visitor.
"Deirdre," Rohan nodded his head at her and arched an eyebrow at her sitting position, "you don't think that's a bit dangerous to be sitting there?"
The princess rolled her eyes. Before the war had ended, she'd have raised her voice in shrill indignation; 'Would you ask a man if it was too dangerous?' she would've said. However, that time had ended. "Nope." She smiled sweetly and continued to look out at the country side, enjoying the view. "What brings you up here? I thought you were training with the soldiers."
"We finished early," he answered, walking behind her to stand on her left side, leaning against the brick wall, "with no battles to be fought, I thought I'd give them a break."
Deirdre did look at him at that bit of information. "We may not be in a war now, Rohan, but the troops need to maintain their training schedules."
"An early gift for the Solstice," Rohan explained away, and Deirdre let the issue drop. Her independent nature had not waned, but her need to win every argument had. So, she changed the subject. "Where's Angus? I thought I saw him in the court yard earlier."
"He left out the north gate a little while ago; said something about meeting a girl in a near by village." He chuckled. "He's really head over heels for her, Deirdre. He can't stop talking about her. For the past few days it's been 'Dáirine' this and 'Dáirine' that-"
Deirdre grinned. "Her name is Dáirine?"
Rohan nodded. "Yes, that's her name."
"That means fertile."
"Which must be why Angus can't stop talking about her," Rohan joked, and Deirdre shook her head, laughing, "only Angus would come across a woman named Dáirine."
"She's a fair lady, I'll give her that; hair as golden as the sun and eyes that twinkle with the brightness of the stars..." he trailed off as he caught Deirdre looking at him with a some what surprised expression on her face. "Well you know...I've met her a few times, when Angus has gone to meet her."
"Only a few?" she grilled, making sure to put the sweetest expression possible on her face. She had to admit, it was funny to watch Rohan squirm when he couldn't find a way out of what he'd talked himself into.
"Any way for me to get out of this conversation?" he finally asked, to which Deirdre replied, "probably not."
The two fell into companionable silence, Deirdre listening to the voices from the children carried on the wind and Rohan simply watching her, and, if he was honest, watching how far she was sitting on the edge of the concrete. Rohan couldn't help that, it simply came naturally these days.
"Have you been to Temra lately?" Deirdre suddenly asked, turning to look at him, propping her knee up and leaning against one of the raised blocks. She could see the surprise at her question on Rohan's face, but none the less he answered. "It's been at least a fortnight since I visited. The castle is pretty much deserted now. Any soldiers that had been under Maeve's command are gone. I haven't even heard anything about Torq, not so much as a peep from any of the villages. Even the towns in Temra are quiet."
"What are you going to do with the castle?"
Rohan frowned. "We've spent the last three seasons gutting it of every single mystical artifact Maeve owned. Cathbad's got them all locked up somewhere with powerful magick guarding them...beyond that, I don't know."
"Well, it's yours now, isn't it?" Deirdre bit her lip, unsure of how to approach the subject. "I mean...Maeve was your mother, she was Queen of Temra. Now that she's been banished, the castle and all the lands fall to you, especially since it's under Kells control." She shrugged. "You should do something with it, don't you think?"
Rohan sighed. This was the conversation he'd been trying for as long as possible to not have with anyone. Deirdre wasn't the first person to ask by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, the question of Maeve's old territory was brought about almost a full cycle ago when Kells defeated her. Rohan had not laid claim to the land then, and he didn't know if he ever should. "Kells is my home, Deirdre. No amount of Maeve's blood in my body can ever change that. I already have the displeasure of that woman bound to me by motherhood. I wish no other binds to be tied." He watched her nod as though she understood, but Rohan, as intelligent and empathetic as he knew Dierdre could be, didn't think she could be able to fully comprehend what being Maeve's son meant to him.
To this day, he still questioned his ability to defend Kells, now that everyone knew his lineage. There were times he swore by Dagda that some of the peasants would look at him strangely, as though wondering whether or not they could trust him. He couldn't blame them. When he'd first found out the terrible truth, he didn't think he could trust himself either.
"It wasn't Temra that made Maeve blood thirsty and power hungry, Rohan," Deirdre tried to reason with him, "that was just who she was, and who she chose to associate herself with."
"Deirdre, you've been inside that castle before. You're not going to tell me that you never felt the evil within that place, are you?"
"No," Deirdre conceded, "but I am going to tell you that I think the only reason for that was because of Maeve's presence there. Our surroundings tend to have the air we carry about ourselves. It's no wonder then that Temra Castle has a foreboding feeling to it. But if you were take the castle as your own, you could change the demeanor of it. After all," Deirdre grinned, leaning back a bit more, "this technically makes you a Prince. And a Prince should have a castle to command."
Rohan rolled his eyes. Of course, this was easy chatter for Deirdre. She'd never had to worry about her lineage or what the future held in store for her. She knew where she came from, she knew her duty, and she accepted it gracefully, though sometimes she had problems with certain aspects of that duty. None the less, it was not so easy for Rohan. Finding out that your mother was actually the woman you'd been fighting since you'd learned the art of swords play was a bit of a hard rock to swallow.
"Unfortunately, it's not that easy, Deirdre," Rohan turned away from her and walked upwards on the look out terrace, surveying the lands to the West. It was green for as far as the eye could see, tranquil and beautiful, never disturbed. "It's easier than you're letting it be, Rohan," the princess countered, still in her sitting spot. "You may be Maeve's son, but that doesn't change who you are. You can't change your past, but you can steer your own destiny-"
"My destiny?" Rohan turned to her, his ire now inching up the ladder. "Deirdre, my destiny has been written on a scroll since before I was born! I have no control over my future; Draganta has seen to that! Somehow, I'm to bring peace to this island for thousand life times, not take over the throne of a tyrant, exiled Queen!"
"Did it every occur to you, Rohan, that in taking the throne of Temra, you would be doing just that?" Deirdre now flipped her legs over the concrete wall to hang on the inside of the castle. She jumped down on the walk, her cape flowing behind her, gathering at her shoulders, hiding her small, but formidable form. "If you were to ascend as King of Temra, our two lands would become lasting allies." She crossed her arms and glared at him. "Unless of course you intend to pick up where Maeve left off?"
Rohan blanched. "That wasn't funny, Deirdre."
"I'm not trying to be funny, Rohan. I'm trying to get you to see the benefit of ruling Temra. No other can lay claim to the land as you can, all of Maeve's soldiers have either fled or been captured by Kells, and the villagers there have no leader, no one to tend to their needs. Kells has been helping them as much as possible, but the lands are too big! We can't not rule an entire island." She stepped up to him, locking penetrating, matching sky blue eyes to his own. "It's been almost a full cycle, Rohan. You can't keep running from your past forever. Maeve gave birth to you, but she didn't raise you. Where she was dark, you are light; where she sought to control and steal, you look to aid and give your guidance and good heart."
"No," she cut him off, holding up a hand, "is Maeve your mother? Yes. Does that change anything?" She shook her head. "No. And if it did, I dare say we would have seen the fruits of those changes long before now. You are a good, noble, honorable man, Rohan. You're the true heart of Kells, and coming from it's future Queen...that's saying something." She smiled softly, looking up at him. "I question all the time whether or not I'm fit to rule Kells."
"Of course you are," Rohan encouraged softly, "you've done more for Kells than most of the men in the royal guard. You fought on the battle field every day since you'd learned the art of the sword, you've risked your life countless times...you're a knight of air. You've been bred to rule since you born. Me on the other hand..." he shook his head and stepped back from her, uncomfortable with the close distance when he couldn't do anything about it.
"You on the other hand, have led troops into battle, have been an advisor to myself and my father, and have helped the villagers with tasks that they couldn't possibly do alone, like rebuilding their homes and repairing the wells." She grinned at his back. "You're a King in waiting, Rohan. The only thing left for you to do now is accept it."
Rohan turned back to her, hands on his hips, contemplating her words. It wasn't unreasonable, the conclusion she was drawing, and truth be told, even if Conchobar himself had said the exact words Deirdre had spoken, he wasn't sure he'd give as much credence to them as he was giving to the princess's argument.
Of course, he was a bit biased in that regard for her. She could chatter gibberish all day long and he'd think it was the voice of the Gods on golden wings.
"The people of Temra have been having problems," he acknowledged, "small scuffles have broken out between the village chiefs with no leader to tend their tempers, though it was quiet last I was there. Their harvest from Mabon was not as fruitful as it should have been..." he stole a glance at her and marveled her new found patience. Her hands were now clasped in front of her, silently studying him. "It would mean I would have to leave Kells for a while; a long while."
Deirdre shrugged. "I know how to sit a horse. With you ruling Temra, our two nations will be strong allies, so...that means we'll need to see a lot of each other. As long as you will pay us a visit every now and again too." Her smile matched that of the man standing before her, brilliant and bright, and something the two longed to see from each other as much as possible.
"Do you think Temra will have me?" Rohan asked her. Deirdre only nodded.
"And your father? What will he have to say?"
"I imagine my father would be greatly relieved to see Temra steered by your hand. I think he would want to see no other than you. And, he believes in you too, as do the rest of us." She reached her hand out for him to take. "As do I."
Rohan took her out stretched hand and stepped closer to her, raising it to his lips and placing a soft kiss on the smooth, snow color of it. He didn't release her either, only holding onto the hand as he lowered it to his side. "This was never what I wanted," he murmured, so low that Deirdre almost didn't catch what he said. But she only squeezed his hand in supportive response. "That's why you will be a great ruler. Father always said ambition clouded the mind and drowned the heart. Maeve allowed the darkness and power to go to her head. You won't."
Rohan wasn't so sure. "How do you know that?"
Gently, the princess placed her hand over Rohan's heart. "Because there is no darkness with you."
Rohan wasn't an emotional man by any standard, but what Deirdre said to him, in her own, sure way of stating things caused a lump to settle in his throat. He clasped his own hand over the one on his chest, both his hand now taken up by the royal grasp of a princess, whom he, if he was honest with himself, had been taken with since the day he met her. Now that he was an adult, he understood what he felt for her, but until her Father would agree to a marriage, both knew it something that wasn't to be discussed. The pain of being told they could not be together would be too much for them.
He allowed himself only to press a delicate kiss to her forehead, and she permitted a tight embrace before they broke apart.
"Let's go make you a King," she said, turning away from him and heading down the stairs into the courtyard. Not hearing his foot steps behind her, she turned, one foot still on the lowest step. "Rohan. Come along."
When they were younger, that phrase would irritate Rohan to no end. Now though, he followed willingly, letting her lead him where ever she may.
Even if he wasn't sure exactly where he would end up.