Captive Hearts

A BBC Sherlock Medieval Romance AU Story




Hello! Welcome to another AU fic! I hope you enjoy this story, and reviews are welcome as always. More author's notes at the end of the chapter.

Far above the earth the hawk flew.

Below her and spread out as far as her eyes could see, the green plains and cultivated fields of Gaaldine in bright hues of yellows and oranges looked every bit like picturesque little squares sewn into a gigantic quilt. Here and there arose white wisps of smoke from fires lit by farmers, clearing the fields for the next wave of crops to be planted. A great flock of sheep was nothing but white moving dots from her lofty vantage point.

If she cared to know at all, to her south lay the deep blue sea, and a short way beyond it, the warmer shores of Gondal. To her north lay Angria- the Highlands- that vast stretch of land where winter reigned nearly all year round in some of its distant mountains. A land of still, cold lakes, treacherous marshes and dark, whispering woods— ancient, impenetrable. A land haunted by centuries of war and strife, and her own special brand of ghosts.

Yet here in Gaaldine, it was early spring, with all its attendant sights and smells of fresh, growing things. Soon the nourishing rains would end and summer would settle down for a brief spell before autumn moved in, followed by white winter. A kaleidoscope of seasons.

The hawk was majestically impervious to it all. She was a creature who lived very much in the here and now, with hardly a care in the world. Wingtips fully spread and gliding silently with the wind, she made an impressive view of appearing to be suspended in mid-air. From her height, it was easy to forget all things earthly and material. Here in the vast nothingness of the heavens, nothing counted more than the liberty that belonged uniquely to her kind.

But alas, even a winged being such as herself could not stay in the heavens indefinitely. After she had had her fill of the air and her time in the sun, she headed back from where she started off, her sense of direction unerring. She passed the peaceful, carefully tended fields and the wild grasslands, heading further north where the air was much cooler, the clouds thicker and pressed lower to the earth.

Just at the point where Gaaldine ended and Angria began, she made her descent, spurred on by a strange, high whistle— made by a man.

Her master.

Down, down she glided, the sights of a noisy, sprawling human encampment fully coming into view at last. A military camp, no less.

Here it was harder to dismiss earthly affairs and think that everything was fine. A swarming mass of people and horses in varying amounts of armor hardly ever meant that things were all right. It was much harder here to mistake the signs of seething tension barely restrained and violence about to be unleashed— it was something that humans specialized in creating, apparently.

War was looming.

But war was the affair of men, not hawks.

She swung down and swept low over the heads of these creatures, so full of mayhem and noise, and flew steadily past them all until she came to land on her rightful perch— an outstretched, well-muscled arm and a slender hand, encased entirely in black leather.

"Welcome back, Azrail," murmured her owner in a deep voice.

Author's Notes: (sorry, going to be quite long)

As much as I am interested in reading historical biographies, the notion of doing serious, extensive and accurate research into the Middle Ages quite overwhelmed me, I'm sorry to say. There is so much interesting material to be found in this fascinating period in English history, and I will try to incorporate them into the story as much as possible, but historical accuracy (or accuracy of any kind, for that matter) may have to take a back seat.

Thus, for this AU, I have decided to substitute the names of real places and events with fictional ones (e.g. Angria for Scotland, Gaaldine for England, Gondal for France. However, Gondalians and the Gaaldinian royal family will retain the use of French, as I cannot invent a new language for them. Also, as Angela Carter once said, French is "the only language in which you can purr"). Even these names are lifted from another source: Angria, Gaaldine and Gondal were places in the imaginary worlds of the Bronte children: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne.

The story will be a medieval romance, both in its traditional and modern sense, although there will be jibes occasionally aimed at the genre itself (hence the pokey title and plot device); especially its more modern incarnation, which is a source of great entertainment, amusement and irritation to me, after years and years of reading specimens of it in various guises. Hehehe. Ultimately though, this is my tribute to it for being the versatile, colorful and exciting genre that it really is.

Finally, the phrase "Welcome back, Azrail" is from a favorite 1990s anime, The Heroic Legend of Arslan. Such a shame that it was discontinued halfway through its run and it never reached a conclusion. Azrael (Azrail) is the name of the Archangel of Death. More to come regarding her mysterious owner and the man he's going to come across in the next chapter.