in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how
~ ee cummings
"I'll stay with him," she tells you, catching your hand at the edge of your world.
And you take it.
Because your hands, trembling and numb, swallow her tiny ones, solid and warm, even as her heart opens up to accommodate yours, enveloping it.
"As long as it takes." Her promise is barely a breath, floating into the dawn. Yet, it somehow grounds you, even as your feet force you away.
So you take it.
She watches the sky lighten as she takes her spot behind him.
The Beautiful One.
When he rescued her, she thought for that fraction of a beat before reality returned, that he really was an angel. He looked just like all those old paintings—all cherubic and baby-faced, with that ethereal glow that only she could see. Small and unassuming, yet with a terrible strength. A quiet strength.
That night, the world flipped. She saw that God did not live in a church, that monsters did.
That night, monsters turned into angels.
Now, as she looks at the Beautiful One, standing at his altar and clad in his white robes, she has to remind herself that he was not, indeed, an angel.
"It won't take long," the Beautiful One says, in that low, soft voice that gives without taking, assuring without assuming. If 2,000 years have taught him anything, it's that there is no right or wrong—perception simply comes in shades of understanding.
Even he, especially he, knows that magic, alive in the profane world, must live by the rules of that world. He cannot defy nature, only trick it. He may not be mortal, natural, but his years on this earth had not made him unnatural; instead, they had made him supernatural. With every passing day, his body had learned to trick nature more and more – he grew colder, stronger faster; not breaking the laws of nature, but multiplying them. And now, when it was time to balance the equation—to pay the deficit he'd accumulated—he knew that every second he'd cheated nature would multiply the speed of the burn.
She looks at him, and nods. There is no need for explanations.
She may not be able to explain why she needs to be here, with him. She may not understand the world on top of which they stand, where beauty and the beast, friend and foe, life and death has turned on its head. But this much she is sure that she knows.
She takes a step closer.
"The Fellowship part wasn't so smart," she tells him in her gentlest tone. Not because she thinks she's pointing out something he doesn't already know, but because it becomes truth only when it's alive on your lips.
Didn't you know? That the beast would turn on you, shred you into pieces? You can't go against nature. Not for very long, anyway.
He tells her that he did it because he thought it might fix everything. Not because she doesn't already know, but because now, at last, he sees how naïve he had been, to think that he could trick nature. Human nature was a lot harder to trick than the mindless pulse of the earth.
"Do you believe in God?" His big, round eyes dance with a practiced, aloof he no longer thinks like a vampire, so he can't quite hide his pain and fear. Not convincingly, at any rate.
She almost loses herself in the beauty of those hazel eyes—an impossible mixture of strength and vulnerability, sadness tempered with resignation and acceptance. Yet, there is an overwhelming light that illuminates those eyes … it makes her think of other, lighter eyes—she'd always thought they were icy stones, but now, she falters on those assumptions, no longer quite so certain. But she dismisses it.
She's grateful that he's asked her about something she does know—only too well. Finally, she can play the hero, the warrior, the angel.
So she answers him with a resolute yes, moving her lips and nodding her head with the truth of it.
He is pleased and frightened of her certainty. "If you're right, how will he punish me?"
He doesn't really expect an answer, so he is all the more startled when she stands up and gives it to him. He is beginning to really see her.
She finally understands. She sees his monster, and she will pull him from the jaws of the terror, and slay the beast. Because he did it for her. And because darkness should never block out the light of such beauty. And because she can.
So she explains it to him, with reverence, and patience, and love, that God doesn't punish—he forgives.
He can't believe her, but he wants to. Can the monster ever learn to see, to recognize, its own beauty? "I don't deserve it," he tells her. "But I hope for it."
"We all do," she assures him, and swallows hard—at the realization that all any of them can do is hope, and the bliss that comes from the giving and gaining of this knowledge.
But before he lets go, he will need to mend what he will soon break; he would never be able to forgive himself if the price of his wholeness would cost so much.
"You'll care for him?" He will dare to hope.
She cannot even imagine taming that beast, bending nature. "You know how he is," she answers him with a shrug, even though she knows she will not be able to shirk this duty. Nor will she want to.
But it wrecks the Beautiful One, tearing him down. And she can't stand the sight and the feel and the smell of it.
So she'll explain, and he'll understand. You can't fight against your nature. You'll only lose in the end. No matter how strong or brave a warrior you might be.
When it starts, they both stare at each other, holding on to that rock before the slippery water pulls them away into the swift and crushing current.
He holds her gaze, but it can't distract her from the smoke as it rises and surrounds him. This is it, and they both know it.
Now it's her turn to be scared, his turn to take up the sword. For her. Because she needs it, deserves it.
And because he can, he will.
The fear rises in her throat, shaking the tightly held muscles of her face, spilling out of her eyes. She doesn't have the strength or the time to plaster on her trademark nervous grin.
She swallows hard until she finds her voice, just barely. "Are you very afraid?"
He looks into her eyes.
He will take these with him. There is strength and caring there, and recognition of the same in him. He can only hope that he deserves it.
Beautiful. So very beautiful.
He smiles. A quiet smile—sweet and warm, and peaceful. He is full of joy, and he shows this to her with more than his words. He wraps her with it.
She blinks it away, unable to quite grasp it. "What about the pain?" she asks, as much of herself as of him.
But the pain only means he's settling his debt. It's a small price to pay.
He shakes his head, not sure he can find the words to make her understand. But for her, he will try.
"I want to burn," he croaks, almost not recognizing the emotions that choke and quiver his voice.
You have to burn before you heal. There is joy in pain, because there must be pain in joy.
She knows exactly what he's saying, and not saying. It makes it all but impossible to swallow the fear and sorrow.
His beauty is beyond anything she's seen or known in this world. True beauty. How had she not seen it before?
She drowns in the truth and light of his eyes. Those eyes.
Her thoughts now travel to that blond Viking. With eyes like the sky and depths she'd never imagined. She sees just how far he would fall. She smells the burning flesh.
And she wonders if she's already drowned.
She finally gives in. Released, the tears shake her body and sear her cheeks.
"Well, I'm afraid for you," she cries out.
Now, finally, he sees it. He understands.
"A human with me at the end?" he marvels, looking into the deep blue heavens that have opened up before him. "And human tears." He will not wipe them away. They light his way.
He lets them steady him, as he breathes into the dawn, the pain, the joy. "In this, I see God."
She has given him the best gift of all – not acceptance, which is the stepchild of wrong and evil; not love, which wraps the jagged edges of reality with the haze of blind acceptance; not forgiveness or assurances of what is or was or will be – which he can only give himself.
No. She's given him understanding.
She's given him that which he was too scared to hope for. Not that he would have even known how to ask.
She's given him that which is beyond his periphery.
She's given him life.
Now they can both rise, trembling and shining, truth burning away fear.
The cleansing flames lick at them, as he turns around to meet the sun. He walks into the fire, and they are both released.
A/N: Thank you to my amazing and talented and adorably shrugging beta, LanYap. You inspired this little ditty when you asked if I would do an epov of Godric meeting the sun. That's coming next, but this had to come first.
Disclaimer: I do not claim any rights to the Sookie Stackhouse Series or the HBO series True Blood