Firstly, thank you so so much to my two delightful authors, firstgold and vivien529, you are both wonderful!
Second, reveals. My main story was in Skins fandom for mturtle, which I've backdated, because seriously, does anybody even watch this? It only got a response from my recipient on the site (and she was delighted with it, it sounded like, so that's more than good enough for me), so hmm. Anyway, if you're interested:
Cassie, PG-13, 1500 words
Queen Cassie would like to present herself to her royal court.
My other story was a pinch-hit for lyras! I was pleased with how this turned out, but I really wish I could have had more time on it - there's all sorts of middle scenes with Will and bits with Lyra that I realised I just wasn't going to have time to write. Another time, then.
His Dark Materials
Will, PG, 1500 words
Summary: Four of Will's Midsummer days.
Notes: Written for lyras in the 2007 Yuletide exchange.
The First Year
Summer was bursting with warmth and colour, and Will was beginning to feel as though he had a pattern of life again. The longer days were having a visible effect on his mother, too; she was rapidly becoming more aware of her surroundings, and more responsive to Will's conversation. It was a welcome change from the shuttered and fragile woman he'd come back home to find, though it didn't mean he felt any less guilt-stricken every time he looked at her.
He stayed indoors during the day - didn't want to caught as some sort of school truant, that was certain. He might start school again come the autumn, or he might not. Mary had offered to tutor him herself, but Will knew she was researching again, and he was loathe to stop that. A part of him - a part he didn't pay attention to often - wondered if he hadn't outgrown school, really. But he knew it wasn't true, and he couldn't do anything useful in this world without the right qualifications.
In the meantime, he had his mother to care for, and that was gradually getting easier. They had a house to themselves now, and Will had discovered an aptitude for affixing curtain rails and putting up paintings. Their new street was a quiet little place, and Gerry next door didn't mind looking in on Mrs Parry from time to time if Will had to go somewhere. It was strange, allowing himself to trust in other people, and it had taken Will some months to get used to the idea, not ask a thousand questions of anyone who offered him help. Now, it could be the most wonderful feeling of relief.
On Midsummer's Day, Mary visited Will, and they sat in his kitchen, cradled mugs in their hands and talked about their memories of witches soaring under far distant stars. They strolled through Oxford together, drinking in the bright sunshine of the day, and Will allowed the past to fill him completely, in a way he hadn't dared to since the last time he saw Lyra. Mary left him at the gates to the Botanical Gardens, and he scooped Kirjava up in his arms, heartbeat quickening.
The bench was mercifully deserted, though the path beside it was populated with mothers and pushchairs, and students on bicycles. Will sat in the centre of it, and gazed at his watch, the second hand gradually turning, the minutes creeping towards midday. Kirjava said nothing, but she watched the hands of the watch, too, and Will was suddenly reminded of Pantalaimon's ermine head peering over Lyra's shoulder, watching in fascination as the slender needle of the alethiometer swung in endless, dizzying truths.
Midday arrived. Will and Kirjava looked at each other.
"Hello, Lyra," he murmured.
The Fifth Year
He was hovering at the carriage door before the train had even pulled into the station. Hands clutching his satchel, he forced himself to unwind a little - there was more than ample time. His head was cluttered, full of the remnants of the university term, but as he caught sight of Oxford station he felt those other thoughts gradually fall away.
He stepped off the train almost reverentially, delighted beyond all telling to be back again. There was an irritable sound from a bag, however, and he hastily went through the barriers and out onto the street, where Kirjava grumpily slinked out of her hiding place.
"I should take you in the bag next time," she muttered as he bent down to apologise.
"I know, and I'm sorry - we know it can't be helped. Still, doesn't look like we'll be back on a train for a while, does it?"
Kirjava purred, placated. "And it's wonderful to be back."
The Botanical Gardens seemed to have grown in beauty in the last year, and Will drank it all in, until at last the watch hands aligned, and he sank back onto the bench, eyes closed, as he lost himself in another time, another world.
The Twenty-Fifth Year
"Jen and I probably won't be home until after four, I've got to take her over to her piano lesson."
Will nodded. "All right, I ought to be back by then anyway."
Eleanor placed a hand in his, smiling gently. "Take care of yourself today."
"I will," Will replied, kissing her on the cheek. "And thank you, as always,"
Eleanor took their daughter's hand, and Jennifer waved brightly at Will, who grinned back. "You work hard for Mrs Cooper now, won't you?"
She nodded, and Will met Eleanor's eye again, before turning and walking into the gardens. He found the walk a little slower today, and unaccountably hesitated before he took up his vigil. He looked over to Kirjava, frowning slightly.
"We mustn't feel guilty," she said. "Not ever - no use fretting after what's been, this is our life now. And the hospital is good work, useful work."
"It is," Will agreed. "But lately-- do you think we're missing something? I know I used to think I should tell everyone about what we'd seen, after it all, and now I'm starting to think about that again."
He was lost in thought until midday.
"Hello, Lyra. I'm not very sure, today, about a lot of things," he began. "I wonder if I should be talking, if I should be telling people about what we know." He fell silent after that, not sure how best to phrase the thoughts that had been brewing within him over the past months.
"They'll be telling their world, won't they?" Kirjava asked, and Will slowly nodded as something slotted into place.
Tell them stories.
Lyra's voice was as bright and clear in his mind as though he'd heard it yesterday, and it still ached to remember. He ran his palms across the slats of the bench, feeling the whorls of the wood, and wished that she were here to ask about it all, just for a day.
The hour gradually slipped away, and he allowed himself this indulgence, until his time for such doubt came to an end. He got up, shaking his head clear of all that fruitless longing, and set off back to the city. He'd had a story to tell for a long time now, and he thought that he might finally be ready to speak it.
The Last Year
"Oof, now then, watch it!" Will laughed as his grandson clung to his arm, threatening to drag him to the ground.
"You be gentle with your granddad," Jennifer chided, smiling.
"Can we go now?" Tom asked eagerly, gazing up at Will with excitement.
Jennifer smiled. "I'll just be over at the shops, give me a call when you're done."
Will looked at her, shaking his head in disbelief. "Is it really that long since I brought you here?"
"Yeah, it is." Jennifer looked out into the garden, quiet for a moment. "Well, I'll leave you to it - be good, Tom!"
Will and Tom walked along the path, Tom looking around with excitement. "What are you going to show me?"
"Just a bench," Will explained, laughing as Tom's face fell. "It's more exciting that it sounds, I promise."
They reached the bench, and Tom's expression turned to confusion. "What are all these people doing here?"
For though the bench itself was deserted, the surrounding paths and patches of grass were dotted with people, looking at the empty space with ill-disguised curiosity. Will thought he recognised some of them from over the years. He sat on the bench, and Tom jumped up to join him, interest evidently piqued.
"I have a story to tell you," Will said, setting out his watch on his knee, with Kirjava curled before it, watching. "It began a long time ago, right here in Oxford, but goes very far away, too."
Tom hugged his knees to himself, staring wide-eyed at Will, who smiled, because the expression was so reminiscent of Jennifer. It was very quiet all around, despite the small gathering of people, and Will knew they would be listening. Every time he told the story, he felt young again, and with his aching limbs soothed by the warmth of the sun, he sat back and smiled, as he remembered a savage little girl in a strange, foreign city, and his first, tentative steps towards the republic of heaven; a journey, Will knew in his bones, he was shortly to complete.
He looked at Tom, smiled, and cleared his throat, and began. "Many years ago, when I was only a few years older than you are, I walked through a window into another world."