Note: In the Harry Potter fanfic world I'm known as "Flourish." Read only after having read all four "Dalemark Quartet" books.'
Summary: Ride. It's all that matters.
The air whipped around her face as Maewen rode. She was not on a horse; no, they wouldn't allow that in Kernsburgh. She was on the brand-new ten-speed bike from Haligland her father had bought her - he said that after seven years of cheap, small birthday presents she deserved something special. Maewen knew better. It was because he was feeling guilty for not paying more attention to her.
Cennoreth had not been at Dropthwaite.
The park around the source of the river Dropwater was full of city people that considered a square mile of trees and water to be 'nature.' The decks around the little burbling spring - for it was still little, even after two hundred years - were water-flecked and rather quiet, but there was no croft. Maewen had found herself thinking of Moril and humming a few bars of "The Weaver's Song," but to no avail. She had seen the stone trough and Cennoreth's croft perfectly in her mind's eye. No luck. Four years to wait. Four. Years.
They passed as slowly as a snail inches by, leaving a wet, grimy trail on the ground. They left a grimy trail on Maewen. She barely changed at all - still short, still frizzy-haired. She'd gone to visit her father twice in those years, counting the visit where she got the bike. And so it was when the end of the fourth year rolled around. And that was today. It had been eighteen hours, thirty-four minutes since midnight. 6:34 PM. No Mitt yet.
The concrete was hot on her bike's tires. She bumped and jostled rather over a rough spot in the road, then swerved to one side as a truck honked its horn at her. Well, same to him, Maewen thought as he gave her a very rude gesture. She pushed the pedals a little harder. The street went by a little faster. She found she liked the speed, just as she loved galloping on horses.
A little ways ahead there was a blockage on the road; the cars were stopped up, and for a moment Maewen was the fastest thing on the road. Then she stopped herself, craning her head to get a look at whatever the matter was.
It was a wreck. It looked as though they had used the jaws of life on one car that had ploughed straight into one of the tall stone walls that surrounded houses in this part of town; another had its front end bent rather nastily. The driver was being helped out of the car by medics, but a woman was getting out of the passenger seat, apparently unhurt. She wove her bike into traffic, giving in to the impulse to ask what had happened, and went up to a policeman that was controlling traffic.
"They've no idea who the smashed-up car was," the policeman said knowingly, "but the other car's got a man and his fiancé. They were going to Tannoreth Palace for something - "
Maewen caught sight of the face of the man they were helping out of the car. Dropping her bike on the island between lanes, she pushed past the police officer with a mumbled "He's a friend of mine" and walked quickly to the gurney the man was sitting on. "Mitt!" she called, quite unsure what to feel. He turned and looked straight at her - it surely was him, it was the same features, the same not-so-gangly limbs as she had seen four years before - but - fiancé?
"Who?" the man said. Maewen stared for a moment, not quite believing. Not Mitt, not Mitt, not Mitt, not Mitt...
A medic saw her and began to move her away from the scene. Blood was on his hands, and Maewen jumped backwards, then turned, dashing back to the policeman and the concrete island and her bike. She picked it up, swung her leg over the seat as comfortably as she would swing her leg over a horse's back, and pedaled back through traffic. The wind again whipped her hair. Gravel from the road flew up to meet her face, but she didn't pay attention.
The sun caught the peak of a mountain. King Hern's city of gold, she thought to herself. Always on the most distant hillside. If she found that shining glow, she would find Mitt, and Moril and Wend, Kialan and Navis and Brid and Hildy and -
She rode on. It didn't matter if her father would worry - and he probably wouldn't, she thought cynically. It just didn't matter. What mattered was the ride, and the destination.
Perhaps it was just her imagination - or maybe a bird's cry, but she could've sworn that someone called the name "Noreth" behind her.
"To tide swimming and water welling,
go now and come back sevenfold."