Pairing: liberal and highly suspect use of some canon characters, but no pairing in the “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” sense (Aleeme, Cobweb, Ulaume, Azriel, and Aleeme’s harling, also mentioned Lisia)
Rating: PG- General Audience, or for you gamers Rating – Everyone
Warning: poor grammar and appalling punctuation.
Spoilers for The Shades of Time and Memory
Summary: Aleeme’s harling – My version of events
Disclaimer: All the pretty Wraeththu, as well as the world they live in, were created by, and belong to, Storm Constantine, who (bless her!) is gracious enough to allow fans like me to take them out and play with them occasionally. No copyright infringement, or disrespect, is intended.
Beta by bigunen – all the remaining mistakes are mine!
Some images stay etched clearly in your mind even though they were only a fleeting moment in time. It was that way with the dark haired har by the fence. He was there when I looked up, our eyes connected for a split second, and when I looked up again he was gone, but his image was burnt there in my mind’s eye.
Tipene, the farm’s horse healer, and I had been helping a mare deliver a foal when I’d seen my long-haired vision. The delivery had been complicated and I’d not enough time to spare more than those two glances. My vision had been lithe and pale, with a braid of long dark hair that fell over his shoulder. His tunic was a dark forest green and pants were black and spattered with mud, as was his travel cloak. Not that being spattered with mud was unusual at this time of year. Spring brought mud and foals and I had myself been spattered with my fair share by the end of the afternoon.
Later, as I gazed out a cracked and dusty pane of the office window at the leggy foal who trotted somewhat gawkishly behind his mother, I felt Tipene’s arms slide around my waist and his chin come to rest on my shoulder.
“Still seeing visions?”
“Oh just shut up!” I said lightly.
“Nohar saw anyhar matching that description… you are losing your mind… what you had of one.”
“He was there, I saw him.”
He released me and turned me around to face him “My dear young apprentice, as your mentor, I feel it necessary to point out that it is customary to wait until you are shit-faced to start seeing things.” Tipene was grinning broadly enjoying his own joke immensely “Let’s go to the pub, join the others, and get some intoxicating liquid into us, then perhaps we’ll all be able to see your friend.”
He ran his fingers through my dark thick hair, and I pulled away. Although there are definite exceptions to the rule, I hate it when hara touch my hair. I can’t explain why I hate it, other than my hair has always been sensitive. I’m aware of it as if it existed on its own, separate from me.
I grabbed my jacket. “You are buying,” I shot out over my shoulder as I headed out the door.
It was dark, but still fairly early when I headed back to my small flat above the carriage house across from the barn. I staggered slightly, but more from fatigue than the drink; the farm’s mares don’t tend to go into labour during regular clinic hours. Although to be fair, my balance would have been somewhat better had I not had those last few shots.
Inside my flat it was dark; I fumbled around feeling for the lamp. A mumbled string of curses slipped out when I almost knocked it over. I got the lamp lit, set it on the mantle, and turned back to the room. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest, I let out a yelp, and stumbled back a step in surprise. My vision was sitting in the faded, threadbare arm chair, his mud spattered cloak folded neatly over the back, his long dark braid hanging across his chest, his arms rested regally on the arms of the chair, and his legs crossed. He stared at me without expression and I stared back in mute shock.
“You’re about 10 now.” It was a statement not a question. “What’s your name?”
“Lorin,” I answered automatically, and at that point my brain seemed to slide back into action. “Whoa! Wait a minute… this is my home and that’s my chair you’re sitting in…I get to ask the questions.”
His eyebrow arched gracefully although his expression did not change, and I found to my frustration I could not think of any coherent questions. He waited in silence watching me.
“How did you get here?”
“I let myself in. The door was not locked,” he responded smoothly.
“Okay… fair enough.” His calm reserve was making me feel flustered. “Okay, so what do you want? Why are you here? Who are you?”
He regarded me thoughtfully for a moment.
“Which of those do you want answered first?”
“Shit, I dunno… you pick.” I stabbed my fingers through my hair nervously.
He took a deep breath. “What do I want? I want your hate, I want your forgiveness.”
He rose from the chair gracefully.
“Why am I here? I am here to face my guilt and my fear.”
Three steps brought him to stand directly in front of me. He was an inch or so shorter than me, but his bearing and the power I could feel in him made him seem much bigger.
“Who am I? I am Cobweb.”
“Cobweb?” I’m sure my jaw dropped. “The Cobweb?”
He grimaced slightly, and began to pace in the small somewhat cluttered space that made up the main room to my flat.
“I have envisioned this a thousand times, I’ve rehearsed a million speeches, lofty pronouncements, and rationalizations. I’ve faced many fears and threats in my time, and yet this, facing a ten-year-old harling, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
He spoke the words out loud, but it seemed they were more his own personal musings rather than a conversation starter. He stopped pacing; he folded his arms across his chest and looked at me. He said nothing, but his eyes glinted in the dim lamplight.
I cleared my throat awkwardly after a few moments “I’m sorry, I’m a bit confused? Why would the Cobweb be here in the middle of nowhere? Why would you want my hate? Forgive you for what?”
Cobweb waved his hand dismissively. “What do you remember of your early life? Tell me.”
The hint of arrogance in his voice indicated he was used to being obeyed, but this situation was beginning to get too bizarre for me, putting me in no mood to humour him or anyhar else, no matter who they said they were.
I opened my mouth to object but he raised his hand to stop me. “It is important.”
I folded my arms across my chest and stared defiantly at him for a few moments, before shrugging “I was a war orphan. I lived for awhile at Harling Gardens. When I was two, Akamu and Dougan adopted me. That’s it.” I shrugged again.
“Nothing before that? “
“No.” I shook my head. “Although my parents did tell me that it was the Gelaming that found me and cared for me for a time, and that it was one of their healers that named me. But I have no actual memories of that.”
Cobweb blew a heavy sigh through his nose, and began to pace again.