Duncan put aside the book he’d been reading for hours and laid it gently on the floor of the barge. He stood and stretched, encouraging his blood to course through sluggish veins, chiding himself for having sat so long without moving.
Glancing towards the fireplace he noted that more wood was required and stopping to grab the thick cream fisherman’s sweater that Rachel had recently sent him from Scotland, he made his way up to the wood box on deck. Once there, he took a deep breath and again stretched his unhappy body.
The autumn winds swirled around the barge and the old cathedral before enveloping the Highlander in their chilly embrace. The trees lining the Seine were still managing to retain most of their leaves. It wouldn’t be long now, he mused, until they revealed their tortured skeletal forms to the icy caress of winter snow and wind.
He turned and looked towards St Julian le Pauvre and decided that he would pay a visit on this quintessential Parisian day. The old church – Darius’ church – still called to him on the many days when he felt a restless stirring or an old ache buried deep inside his bones. Perhaps an hours sitting in the Square de Vivienne watching Parisians and tourists at play amidst falling leaves would do the trick? Or some time sitting in the quiet surrounds of the church to lift his spirits? He’d never believed that Darius’ quickening could ever truly have been lost and had long ago made a promise to himself . He would find a way to capture it, wherever Darius had sent it for safe-keeping while his mortal and immortal life was being stolen from him.
His sighs held their own against the biter winds. Gods but he missed Darius.
Rugging up against the wind and packing a thermos of whiskied coffee he set off on the short walk, feeling his melancholy beginning to lift. In the park he sat and watched, his insides warming in direct proportion to the gradually emptying thermos. He smiled as a memory of himself and Tessa, running through the park kicking the falling leaves, played out before him.
So much laughter, even amidst the tears, in those days -
The giggles of children intruded but were welcome and a reminder that life, like the seasons, carried on, regardless of how much he may at times have wanted that not to be so.
Autumn promised so much, he mused, in the way of vibrancy and color - and then stripped it away before your eyes. But winter always settled quickly on his soul, its icy flows attempting to leach the warmth of life from the very marrow of people’s bones. But not his. He was born in winter and there was always something that came alive in him when he felt the swaddling comfort of layered clothing. For him it always brought back memories of the warmth of his mother’s tight embrace, the smell of the fire in his family hut. Hot meals and warm fur cocoons. Proud achievements hunting with his father in the bitter snows.
There were so many times when it seemed that his life was an endless progression of autumn’s dying and winter’s death. And then spring would reawaken his senses, with its promises of new beginnings and teasing seeds of possibilities. And hope. Always, there was hope. Despite how close so many tragic events had come to breaking him, he was always able to fall into the seasons and let their wiser certainties nurture his pain awhile in the deadened and cold layers of his being until finally delivering him, often unwillingly into the warmth of the evolving and revolving cycles of new life. Being a Celt had always served him well, he smiled.
“I hope you’ve left some of that for me?” came a honeyed voice, as Methos settled next to him on the bench. Three large swallows later, followed by a satiated sigh of whiskied and caffeine contentment, Methos leaned across and brushed his warmed lips lightly across the Highlander’s.
“Been brooding?” he teased.
Duncan smiled and pulled him back for a light touching of lips on forehead.
“Me brood! Never!” he lied. “Just catching up with Darius for a while.”
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