And so, it is a day of endings. This will be the last true Fiction Friday post this year, since National Novel Writing Month begins tomorrow, and I plan to give you snippets from my project on Fridays through November at least. This not only takes a bit of pressure off me, but means I can collect the 2014 Fiction Friday posts together.
What will I do with them once they're collected? I was thinking of sorting them out, giving them silly day-of-the-week names, and publishing them as an e-book. Would that suit you, O readers? It'll be cheap, possibly even cheaper than my holiday specials (though that puts me down in the 35% royalty range on Amazon, which is frustrating). I'm still indecisive about a print book, too. Thoughts welcome.
The other ending today, of course, is the Dangerverse. But that's another post, and one which will be written shortly. Please enjoy today's Fiction Friday offering, the end of the tale of the sea-bride, and stay tuned both for the blog post discussing the end of the DV and the actual final chapter/epilogue of the DV, which will be posted in a little over two hours from now (3:28 PM my time), weather and traffic permitting!
So, this is another day, and 'tis my turn to finish our tale, the tale of Maeve the selkie girl and Richard the boy from the land (that being myself), and how it came about that she's never set her dainty foot in my home of Glenscar, and yet we're wed with four fine children, and the eldest soon to wed for herself.
Maeve had never stayed away so long as she did after I asked my rash question, whether I too could become a seal, and I lay awake more nights than one, racked with the fear that I'd asked a thing forbidden. The bargain which had kept my family safe on the waters for generations untold would be broken for my brashness, my terrors murmured. My father and brother would be drowned in a storm for lack of the seal-folk's help, and I would never see my Maeve again. All of which goes to show you how young I was, for on one of those same sleepless nights, when I had slipped out of the cottage to wear myself down with walking, I heard my name being called and turned about just in time.
My Maeve first flung herself into my arms and kissed me, and I kissed her back in good earnest, as only a young man much in love who has seen what he thought was the last of his sweetheart can do. "Oh, my Richard, I'm so sorry!" were the first words to pass her lips when those lips were free again. "But it took us full long to make it properly, and then there've been terrible storms in the passage, so that no one dared to come or go. My mother says there are dark forces at work, that something changed in the world when you asked your question." And as she was talking, she was looking me up and down, as though to measure me for something. "I remembered as best I could, how tall you are, and how broad..."
And she reached around to her back, and from under her sealskin cloak drew a roll of the same stuff, and shook it once so that it unrolled across her arms. "Richard Laverty, great-grandson of Muirenn the Fair One, the council of the land beyond the waves summons you to speak for yourself," she said formally. "You are suffered once to go and once to return, as our own people do. All else depends on you."
I steadied my hands as best I could and accepted the sealskin, precious beyond compare, and we walked side by side down to the beach, where Maeve showed me how the cloak was put on (my other clothing had to come off first, which caused us both a few moments of chagrin). Then, for the first time in my life, I dived furred and flippered into the waves, and swam beside Maeve to...
Well, perhaps 'tis for the best that I'm bound to say little of that passage, for words could describe it only haltingly, if at all. We came at last to shore, and two stalwart young cousins of Maeve's were waiting there with fresh clothes for me, which calmed my mind considerably, as I hadn't been thinking kindly of trying to state my case in nothing but what God provided. The council, too, were hardly so frightening as I'd expected, but could easily have been the elder folk of my own Glenscar.
Still, when it came my turn to speak, I fumbled it badly. My speech was slow, and often I paused to seek after proper turns of phrase, but those things in me may have been my best allies, for Maeve sat by to listen, and it was to her face that my eyes went as I fought to find my words.
"We were bound in the beginning, Maeve and I, by an ancient promise between our families, but we are bound today by our two hearts, hers and mine," I finished after the worst minutes of my life. "I would never ask her to leave her people for such a home as I can offer her, so instead I beg of you that I be allowed to share her life instead. I will come to her as often as I may, and will allow my family to think I will never wed—or, if you decide that is not enough, I will give them to grieve me as lost that I may come to be with her forever. For while my heart will ache all my days for their sorrow if I do this, they have another son to console them. But there is only one Maeve."
And at this the eldest of the council, a woman with dark hair as sleek as her sealskin, smiled upon me, and I saw my Maeve in her face and knew that I had won. The cloak given to me on sufferance became mine in truth that day, and leave was given me to come and go as I pleased, which I've done in the years since, meeting Maeve either in the water or on the land beyond the waves, where all is peaceful except when it is not (for selkies have tempers like anyone else).
My brother Alexander wedded his yellow-haired Ellen in the fullness of time, and three children they've made between them, which is a good-sized family for those who have powers. Of all those who share our home, only Alexander knows the fullness of my secret, though I think my father and my eldest niece Andraste both suspect. Though how Ellen has never known, when our village's dreamer Margaret Connolly gave her the name of Ronan, "little seal", for her only son, and when she must have noticed how careful his father and I both are to make sure he never goes out swimming with anyone but us—
But that, as you've heard a-many times before, is a story for another day.