Disclaimer: I do not own Ranger's Apprentice or any of its characters
This chapter is for SeekerMaxia who helped me with an idea of how to finish. I figured because she was nice and helped me, I might end it differently than I originally planned
Crowley had to admit it'd been up and down since the day Halt had collapsed in his arms. He clearly remembered bringing Halt to Lucas, fearing the worse. Halt had been put in critical care for about a week after that, constantly fighting with Lucas when he tried to help him. Finally Halt simply gave up trying to fight it and fell into a secluded state. Crowley remembered going to him day after day and just talking about random things and eventually Halt began to return. Not as fast as Crowley may have liked but it happened. Today was the day he'd feared though. Halt had made it clear he didn't want to have a grand funeral for Pauline and he did want a burial for Conlan. Crowley had reluctantly agreed, coming to the conclusion that Halt was right. The only problem was he knew it would make Halt relive what had happened. He didn't want his friend going back under and possibly killing himself after this progress he'd made. Now that the small ceremony was over, Crowley stood by Halt, waiting for a reaction from the grim man.
"They used to love this clearing," Halt muttered. Crowley looked around; Halt had chosen this clearing specifically for his family to be buried. Autumn was coming and the colorful leaves fluttered to the ground in the light breeze. It looked beautiful and almost wiped out the grim atmosphere. "Taught Conlan how to shoot arrows here and proposed to Pauline here," Halt said quietly, keeping his eyes focused on the graves. Crowley stayed silent.
It felt almost surreal standing here looking at her grave. This wasn't supposed to happen and if it was then the rolls should have been switched. Halt couldn't help but think that he could have prevented it. Maybe if he'd tried to stop drinking things wouldn't have gone this way. She'd still be living and he wouldn't be standing here. He could still see her pale face and hear her strained voice from the day she'd passed when he closed his eyes. Then there was Conlan. He'd failed to forget the scene of his son falling from the tower. He could still feel with detail Conlan's shirt sleeve as he tried to grab his arm and stop the fall from happening. In dreams he was plagued with the image of Conlan squished against the cobblestones of the courtyard, not much more than a stain.
"Do you think they blamed me?" Halt said softly to himself.
"No," Crowley replied, Halt tore his gaze away from the graves to look at his friend. He hadn't realized he'd voiced his thought. "And they wouldn't want you to go back to drinking and thinking of killing yourself," he added and Halt merely nodded before looking back to the graves. Crowley shivered a little.
"You can leave," Halt said not unkindly. He had to admit it was chilly but he couldn't bring himself to leave.
"Only when you're ready," the commandant responded.
"I'm not a child Crowley, you don't need to watch me every second of every day," Halt answered. He didn't sound agitated, in fact he sounded a bit normal.
"You could have fooled me with that height of yours," Crowley joked, testing the waters. Halt may not react well to jokes yet.
"At least I could pass for a child, you're a bit too grey for that," Halt responded and Crowley grinned.
"I wouldn't be talking, if I remember correctly, there was a song named 'Greybeard Halt'. It was named so for a reason," Crowley shot back and held his breath when he realized he might have messed up mentioning that. The song was a strong reminder of Will. Halt simply turned to him with amusement in his dark eyes.
"At least I'm good enough to have a song made for me," he said. Crowley laughed.
"I've actually been working on a song for myself. I think it sums up my greatness quite well. I'd be happy to sing it for you," Crowley said and cleared his throat.
"Do you mean to torture me?" Halt asked as he turned away from the graves. He whistled for the horses that appeared from the trees on the far side of the clearing.
"I sing quite nicely according to Arald," Crowley said in a defensive tone as they mounted Abelard and Cropper.
"Yes, but Arald also claims his jokes are good," Halt answered as they tapped the horses' sides. Crowley laughed again.
"You got me there Halt, but I do have a nice singing voice."
The two drew nearer to the tree line, bickering all the way. Crowley rode into the trees without pause while Halt slowed and cast a glance over his shoulder.
"Sorry," he muttered and swung around as Crowley's voice reached him.
"Getting slow in your old age?" the commandant called teasingly.
Halt sent Abelard into a fast gallop so he'd be able to pass Crowley. It felt nice being back.
And you all thought I was going to kill Halt! Well, you probably did...I don't know...please review