A Christmas Wish

Title: A Christmas Wish
Time Period: December 25, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Algernon's orders are casually brushed aside as Luna and Beisdean continue to bicker and fight.

Just after Outside the Inn

"I would need to know how to ride to stay on the bloody thing." Luna spits back, folding her arms over her body to keep it a little warmer. She doesn't have a scarf or a hat, only a hood that billows with every step, giving her an alien appearance from behind. Her walk is a rather fast paced one, that lasts the span of two blocks, until she ducks over toward the river.

She makes a quick climb over a low stone fence, obviously banking on the horse balking or refusing to go on to aid in her escape. Oblivious to her tracks in the snow, she runs toward a bank of trees, ducking under one branch to a table rock. She skids to a stop, holding onto a branch for support rather than risking a fall into the river. Unfortunately, it's a familiar place. Had she been running from anyone else, they might not know of it.

Beisdean swears as the girl breaks away, and he's up in his saddle. Iago leaps the fence easily and Beisdean pulls the reins once he sees her along the river's edge. Approaching more slowly, he doesn't chastise her for running. "You won't fall off if I'm right behind you, Luna. Come on. Stop this nonsense. It's freezing out here and you're going to catch your death running around along the water."

His gloved hand reaches for hers. "No questions about family, no pointing fingers of blame. You'll be back in your warm bed in no time if you quit being so stubborn."

Her heels make it a little difficult to stay upright and Luna skids, nearly slipping into the water when the horse comes up on her. Both arms grip the branch now and she squeezes her eyes shut, her lips moving just a little in a silent prayer. It is cold, her dress has formed crystals of its own along the bottom and her shoulders and head are covered in fallen snow. She's too stubborn to admit it.

"You promise me," she says, her voice thick with fear and tears. "You promise me, Baizey Skye, that I won't fall."

"I promise." There's no tease in his voice, only the solemn vow, and without waiting, he has swung his leg over the saddle to land in the snow beside her. A hand firmly grips her forearm to draw her toward the gelding. "Put your foot here," Beisdean indicates the stirrup, "and swing your other foot over."

He puts his hands on her wait to help her do so, given the slippery ice and snow they stand upon. Once she is situated, he mounts the horse to take the space behind her.

"Hold onto the saddle here," he murmurs over her shoulder, putting her hands on the leather, "and we'll go slow. You won't fall."

He nudges Iago into a slow gait at first, not much faster than they could walk, to let her get used to it. "Motorcycles are worse. Ever been on one of those? Feel like you're going to fly off the back of it and the person riding won't even notice."

Luna can't help the chatter of her teeth, given the uncomfortable way her dress bunches, not protecting her from the cold leather of the saddle at all. Even though both of her hands are directed to the saddle, one grips Iago's mane tightly. If the beast is going to throw her, she'll rip out its hair in the process.

"No, I've only ever been in a carriage or a wagon. Things with four wheels or my two feet steady on the ground." Turning her head slightly to glance at Beisdean's shoulder instead of all the way to see his face, the blonde seems to relax a little against him. "I was never allowed to go on a boat neither," she seems a little depressed about the fact. "Maybe this summer, I'll run away and have grand adventures like you did."

As she seems to relax some, he nudges the beast into a gradually faster pace. "Grand adventures… I've not had any such things, but I'll be flattered if your imagination has me running around in daring escapades," Beisdean says with a chuckle.

"I did nothing so exciting. I learned to put a cap on the things I didn't want to see and then I learned how to run a book shop. Unless learning to run a letter press strikes you as grand and adventurous… I'm sorry to disappoint you. I was never destined for great things, though. It's more than I thought I'd ever be capable of doing, truth be told." His voice is polite and tired.

"Don't ruin my imaginings. I always dreamt that you'd gone somewhere exciting like in a book. Somewhere that would make everything that's happened right as rain." Her head tips forward as she eyes the road ahead, the road back to the Dovetail. Drawing in a deep breath, she lets loose a sigh that forms a large cloud. It washes over her face as the horse moves them along at a pace too quick to make her comfortable. "I'm sorry."

It could be for so many things.

"I don't wish to go back there tonight. I want to be free somewhere." She lets go of the saddle to pull the hood off her head, causing the snow to fall between them. "It's Christmas and I'm not asking for much. Could you give me that?"

Beisdean tugs the horse to a stop. "Where would you have me take you then?" he says, brows drawing together as he leans back to study her face. "You don't want to go to the inn, and you don't want to go to the Dovetail. Maybe you've many choices other than those two places, but I don’t. And I don't really care where you go as long as it's out of the snow so you don't die of pneumonia and come back to bloody haunt me for the rest of your days."

Smiling wryly, he adds, "You're just stubborn enough to make it through, I think." Whatever that means.

"There's some tents on the outskirts of the village. If you could take me there, I'll find a fire to rest by until morning." The edges of Luna's lips curl up into a sad smile before she turns her head back toward the road. "If I died in the cold, I'd make a lovely corpse with pale blue lips… And every evening you'd call me and tell me stories, just to see me smile again." She pauses and takes one of his gloved hands. Bringing it up to her own face, she leans her cheek into his palm.

"That'll be my Christmas wish."

Her words make him jerk his hand from hers, reaching for the reins after as if that was the reason for the abrupt retreat. But his brows furrow deeply, and he stares with narrowed eyes at the road ahead. "I do not call them to me," Beisdean says through gritted teeth.

"Ever."

The horse is nudged into motion, no gradual easing this time from standing to gallop, as the mahogany hued beast makes its way across the white snow.

When the horse bursts into a gallop Luna shrieks and grabs onto the reins in front of Beisdean's hands, just to have something to hold onto rather than flailing or simply falling. When she pulls then back, Iago's head is wrenched to the side, causing him to falter, rear up, kick out his back legs, and begin a series of hops— trying to get the inexperienced rider off of him.

This only furthers the woman's panic and she doesn't know what to do.

Pinned from behind when the horse jumps, Luna remains in the saddle. The reins are dropped as she curls her arms over her head, trying to protect it for the time that Beisdean inevitably breaks his promise to not let her fall. This doesn't stop her from continuing her screams of terror.

"Easy, Iago, easy," Beisdean murmurs in a low, calming voice even as his cheeks flush with anger and he pulls back on the reins to bring the gelding to a stop.

He keeps his word. She doesn't fall. Beisdean dismounts in a swift motion, and pulls her down off of the gelding. It's neither a gentle nor a violent motion, though it is his horse that he goes to calm rather than the shrieking girl. He lays a hand on the bay's neck and the horse settles, snorting and whinnying with indignation.

Beisdean turns to look at the woman and then remounts his horse. "You walk then, and I'll ride," he finally says coolly.

Turtled in the snow, Luna stays on her knees as she calms herself down. She doesn't have any herbs, flowers, powders, or even alcohol at her disposal; only a demon of a horse and its rider. Gloved hands cup over her mouth as she muffles her sobs. She doesn't bother looking up as Beisdean addresses her, nor does she bother getting up.

Across the field and through the large flakes of snow, she can see the lights of Dornie. The bulbous glow of the streetlamps twinkle in her tear blurred vision, looking very much like stars that should be up in the sky. Tonight it's too dark and cloudy. She adjusts her seated position, moving from her knees onto her backside and drawing them up to her chest in a huddle. Looking very much like a miserable lump on the landscape. "Just go," she murmurs, "I can make my own way."

When she sinks to the ground, he raises his eyes to the sky, huffing out an exasperated breath that rises like a cloud into the dark night. "Get up, Luna. I'm not going to let you walk alone, though honestly I should worry more for whatever unlucky soul chances upon you. If you can ride without screaming and frightening my horse, we can try this again, and you can get there in a quarter hour's time. Otherwise, you'll walk in the snow and be cold and miserable in the hour it takes you to get there."

Something draws his attention toward the shore, and Beisdean closes his eyes, turning away and back to the girl in the snow. "What'll it be? I may not have any family or friends, but I don't want to spend my Christmas freezing outside all night, either, Luna."

"Your horse is a demon and you a— a— whatever it is that rides a demon. I can make my own way, when I decide where I wish to go." It's not the camp any longer, it seems. Looking up, Luna wipes her eyes with one hand while pushing at the ground with the other to get up. The velvet of her dress is stained by melted snow, the crush of the fabric matted in large spots.

Stubbornly, she begins walking again, wading through the deep snow on her way toward the lights. "I don't require an escort, thank you," she continues primly, trying to gather some semblance of self respect, even if she does look ridiculous with melted makeup and sopping clothes. "Especially an escort who doesn't wish to waste his Christmas suffering through my company." It should stop there but she doesn't. "I'll have you know that if I wished, I could have dozens of places to rest my head. I don't need looking after."

Iago trots around to follow her at Beisdean's urging. "He's of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus. He is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts," Beisdean murmurs in a melodic voice that grows louder as if he were trying to talk over someone interrupting him.

An angry flash of his eyes toward the shore suggests he is.

"He is no demon, but I will not fault you for being afraid Luna. However," Beisdean breathes deeply as Iago comes back alongside Luna so the man can gaze down at her from his mount, "I'm afraid I'm not going to leave you alone, either. I won't rest well until I see you somewhere warm enough that I won't have to worry about your frostbitten corpse chiding me from beyond the grave."

"I would do that.." Luna muses, a dreamy smile taking over her features as she imagines the scene. It's a pleasant distraction from the cold walk. "Since you wouldn't grant my Christmas wish to call me to you and tell me stories, I would haunt you. In fact, if I die tonight, I believe I shall." She stops and points a long index finger up at him, "Mark me, Mister Skye, I'll not let you rest either. Now take your demon horse of Perseus and leave me be."

Her hand comes down again to gather a fistful of her dress as she begins a more purposeful march toward town. It's slow, as she's not tall enough to clear the drifts that the horse plows through easily. She's much too proud to look up at him again.

"Quit your haverin', besom," Beisdean mutters to himself as he follows along at a few yards' distance. After several minutes pass, silent but for the crunch of snow underfoot and the ambient sounds of the land, a rush of wings can be heard overhead, and Beisdean looks up to Darklight's dark shape in the gray-black sky.

There is another visitor that travels with them, murmuring and crying to Beisdean alone. After some time, he begins to sing to try to drown out the noise… Unfortunately, "The Winner Takes It All" is the first thing to come into his mind after having seen Mamma Mia! the day before.

Luna stops.

Slowly, she lifts her chin to look up at him with tear filled eyes. Not because his singing is completely horrible. Parting her lips to speak, she finds herself mute for a time, perhaps for the first time since Algernon's parting. The blonde doesn't join in the song, instead she presses her lips together and moves closer to Iago, keeping well away from his hooves.

Laying a hand on Beisdean's leg, she sniffles and lifts her arms up in a bid for aid as she makes the attempt at riding again.

"…victor-" he pauses mid word, lips curving perhaps because he feels he's won in this small battle. He helps her back onto the horse, but doesn't spur Iago into a run. He lets the gelding keep the easy walking gait and wraps one arm around Luna to keep her from feeling she might fall.

"If I say anything that doesn't make sense," he warns quietly in her ear from behind, "it's not to you. Tell me about something you like. Music or a book or something… the poetry on the walls of your room — that wasn't my mother's. Who do you like?"

Her hands find the hook in the saddle, to keep her steady though the arm around her waist keeps her feeling a bit more secure. "Elizabeth Barrett-Browning," she replies, turning her head to glance at Beisdean out of the corner of her eye. "I don't like Robert as much, his poetry frightens me sometimes. Of course, I wouldn't be a real Scot if I didn't have a liking of Burns… but he's not my favorite."

Leaning heavily against the rider, she closes her eyes and takes a shallow breath inward to let out a small sigh. "We walked beside the sea, after a day which perished silently of it's own glory— like a princess weird who, combating the genius, scorched and seared, uttered with burning breath 'Ho! Victory!' and sank adown, an heap of ashes pale…" The near silent tread of the horse and the flap of wing overhead are the only sounds in the lonely night before she speaks again. "I like her best."

"The little Portuguese," he murmurs as the horse makes its way toward the town once more. "She was ahead of her time. I translated her sonnets into French once, though I don't think I could have done her justice, and I've no sense of the rhythm of French, I fear. I can't speak it but can only read it."

The horse's hooves make a crunching rhythm of their own over the snow, and soon the field becomes road once more. "Where to?" Beisdean asks, his voice strained and weary.

Turning her head back toward the road, she shakes her head in answer. "I don't know, Baizey. All I know is I don't want to work at the Dovetail for Christmas." Her head angles just enough to give him a sliver of her profile through the wet strands of hair. "Is it so selfish and horrible to wish for one night where I don't need to make an excuse not to see someone or give myself over to a man that could never bring himself to love me?"

Beisdean rides in silence for a few moments. "More of them probably do than you know," he remarks before turning his horse in the direction of the inn.

"I can sneak you in to my room and you can sleep there," he murmurs, before hurrying to add, "and I do mean sleep. I would have you have your wish for Christmas, after all. I won't be able to sleep anyway; it'll be a long night of reading for me, whether you're in the bed or no."

He tips his head to the side to take in her profile. "No one will have to see you, and someone may as well use the bed if I'm — eventually — paying for it. Somehow."