Finally, a story set at the beginnings of the Imladris colony. Believe it or not, this was inspired by Valentine’s Day. Something of an anti-Valentine story to go with my usual feelings about that particular holiday [ahem]. But fear not, it still manages to be romantic (I think), albeit in a quirky Methos sort of way.
If you want to know where it falls in the series, it’s about a century after All Work & No Play. The year is 2163. (As a point of reference, the Federation was established in 2161)
The poem Methos recites is called ‘Time of Roses’ by Thomas Hood. It seemed to fit the story.
Thanks to Tammy and April for beta duty!
All Highlander & Forever Knight characters belong to their respective PTBs. All original characters belong to their creators, myself amongst them.
And last, but most certainly not least: thanks for reading! And if you liked this story, let me know if you would. It's always nice to know if anyone out there is reading. Thanks!
“It’s time to wake up,” a voice insisted.
“Go away,” Triona mumbled as she rolled onto her side, pressing up against the bulkhead that the bed was mounted to. She was positive it wasn’t time to get up, and the voice was making her grumpy.
They had landed on Imladris late the afternoon before, the first ship with the initial colony compliment of five hundred. More ships would follow in the weeks and months ahead as they settled in on their new home. With the busy day ahead, their first on this new world, she had no intention of waking up any earlier than she had to; no matter what the irritating voice said.
This time the voice said, “You are so stubborn,” as a hand grasped her shoulder, pulling her onto her back, away from her comforting shield. “I’m left with no choice but to employ stronger measures,” the voice – her husband’s voice – whispered in her ear. Before she was even able to react to the threat, warm lips covered hers, his kiss doing the trick where words hadn’t.
She arched up against him, hands tangling in his hair, pulling him closer. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” she murmured against his lips. Triona felt the low vibration of Methos’ chuckle against her chest.
“You didn’t ask,” he countered. Pulling slightly away, he brushed her hair from her face, his lean frame not much more than a shadow in the very dim light of the cabin. “And as nice as this is, you have to actually get out of bed now.”
Triona looked at up at him, a disbelieving look on her face. “You obviously have a death wish,” she stated.
He laughed out loud at that. “I promise, I’ll make it worth your while.”
“You were making it worth my while a few minutes ago,” she replied pointedly.
He didn’t answer, just ruffled her hair affectionately. “Lights, morning.” At his command, the lighting in the cabin went up enough to see, but not enough to make still half-asleep eyes wince. Levering himself up off the bed, he held out his hand to his wife. Sighing in resignation, she took the proffered hand, letting him pull her out of bed.
“So I’m up.” Looking at him grumpily, she crossed her arms and waited for an explanation.
“I can see that,” Methos agreed, grinning. “Here, put these on.” Handing her a pile of clothing, he ignored all signs of an impending explosion. “It’s cold outside.”
“Outside? Are you out of your mind? It’s,” she looked over at the clock on the desk, “5am! The sun won’t be up for hours!” Triona took a deep breath. The enormity of the undertaking they’d embarked upon had hit her full force on landing the day before. She knew she was stressed, and she didn’t want to take it out on Methos even if she was sure he deserved it at this particular moment.
Taking her hand, he kissed her gently. “I know.”
The depth of feeling in those two words nearly brought tears to her eyes. No longer mad, or even irritated, Triona put on the clothes he’d handed her.
After she’d dressed, Methos had refused to answer any of her questions, only smiling mysteriously. They’d left the ship, pausing a moment to take in the sight of three of four of Imladris’ moons lighting the predawn in soft jewel tones. Then, taking her hand, he led her away from the landing site and up the gentle incline that led to a bluff that looked out over a river and the towering mountains beyond. Nearly an hour later, they’d reached their destination. Methos had taken off the pack he’d brought from the ship, pulling out a blanket and laying it on the ground, followed by a vacuum bottle of hot tea and two cups. Now, they sat side by side, Triona leaning into him, his arm around her shoulders, holding her close. She could hear the distant muted roar of the water far below in the softly moonlit night, but that was the only sound. Taking a sip of her tea, she waited patiently for him to explain just why they were sitting here in the dark an hour’s walk from the colony site.
The minutes passed, and the sky began to brighten, an almost fuchsia colour tingeing the clouds. “Methos,” she began.
“Shhhh.” He placed a finger against her lips. “Soon,” he promised. He knew she was bursting with curiosity, but had no intention of ruining the surprise. Methos then went back into his pack, pulling out, of all things, a single pink rose, handing it to her with a flourish.
She took it from him gently, not quite believing what she was holding. Where on earth – and it had to have been on Earth, she thought wryly – did he get a rose? Inhaling the heady perfume of the flower, she stroked a soft petal with one fingertip. “Thank you, it’s lovely,” Triona said, reaching up to kiss him on the cheek.
“A small piece of home all these light years away.”
“We’ll plant roses here in this new place, climbing roses, like the ones that had grown wild in Montana, and some summer in the future, when their scent is heavy in the air, we’ll walk in the garden and this planet will finally be home.” Triona looked up, only a few stars still visible in the lightening sky. She knew she couldn’t see Earth’s sun from here, but her heart knew exactly where it was.
Into the breaking morning, Methos recited,
“It was not in the Winter
Our loving lot was cast;
It was the time of roses—
We pluck'd them as we pass'd!
That churlish season never frown'd
On early lovers yet:
O no—the world was newly crown'd
With flowers when first we met!
'Twas twilight, and I bade you go,
But still you held me fast;
It was the time of roses—
We pluck'd them as we pass'd!”
Sighing happily, Triona wrapped her arms around the man by her side. “Dawn walks, roses, poetry. You have me quite a tremble.”
“It’s a gift,” he replied smugly.
“Uh huh. You’re gifted all right.” She shook her head, smiling at him fondly. But she couldn’t restrain herself any longer. “Okay, I’ve let you drag me out of bed at an ungodly hour, I followed you up here, and now you somehow magically have a rose when we’ve been in space for more than three months. What’s this all about?”
“Well, it is close to Valentine’s Day back on Earth, so we could say that’s what this is all about.” He grinned down at her, tweaking her nose.
“I’d rather not,” she said dryly.
“Oh?” He cocked an eyebrow enquiringly.
“Mmm-hmm. Because if this is about Valentine’s Day, at some point you’ll feel compelled to regale me with some anecdote about the real St. Valentine, and though it will have some moral, some deep philosophical meaning, it will end in a horrible violent manner, and then I’ll be depressed.”
“I wouldn’t,” Methos protested, torn between laughter and feeling just a bit insulted.
“Would!” This time Triona placed a finger over his lips, silencing his incipient protestation of innocence. “My darling, you know what you’re like. You’ve done and seen everything; you know you can’t resist a good story.” Methos was notorious for his penchant of relating stories from his past -- though Triona was fairly certain that only half of them were even remotely true -- to friends and family. It was one of his more endearing, and annoying, quirks. She brushed her hand across his cheek softly. “But I love you anyway,” she whispered.
Leaning down he kissed her, his lips soft against hers, gently exploring her mouth with his. “Glad to hear it,” he whispered back. Sitting back, he looked at her with smiling eyes. “Fine, no Valentine’s. Look.” He indicated with his chin towards the rapidly brightening skyline.
“It’s beautiful.” Triona watched as the red giant sun broached the horizon, turning the sky from fuchsia to ruby. Now, the sounds of waking birds could be heard joining the sound of the river.
Methos took her hands in his, caressing them gently. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to share a sunrise together,” he said softly. “I wanted to share this first one on this new world with you.”
Finally, Triona realized exactly what this was all about. She hadn’t witnessed a sunrise out in the open with Methos for more than a century. This sun, unlike that of their home planet, posed no threat to vampire kind. It had been one of the things that had finally convinced LaCroix that this was the place for their home, their refuge. Wiping away the tears that now spilled down her face, she agreed, “It has been a long time.”
“One hundred and sixty seven years – more or less,” he offered.
“More or less.” Smiling, she leaned against his shoulder, watching the sunrise.
“It was late summer,” he began. “It had been unbearably hot for nearly a week, and you couldn’t sleep, so we went down to the lakeshore.”
“We went swimming,” Triona remembered. Even though the sun hadn’t yet risen, the heat had still been oppressive, so they had lolled in the water, reveling in the relative coolness of the lake, their bodies melding together, the sensations both warm and cool. Spent from making love in the pre dawn of that summer morning, they had lain on the sandy beach, entwined, the soft waves lapping across them.
Methos nodded, sharing the memory with her. “And then we sat on the beach and watched the sun rise over the lake.”
“You combed my hair out with your fingers and braided it.”
“And you were wearing that purple cotton dress that made your eyes so green, but made you look like you were fourteen.” He drew her closer. “You told me about the last summer you spent with your parents at Babine Lake before they were killed. And how it had made you realize that you had to embrace every moment, because it could all be gone in an eye blink.” Sighing, he told her, “You’ll never know how tempted I was at that moment to tell you were like me, Immortal.”
Looking up at him, she asked, “You remember all that?”
“I remember the sound of your breath against my ear, the sensation of your skin brushing against mine, your scent.” His long fingers caressed her cheek, and the intensity in his dark eyes, the timbre of his voice, made her heart skip a beat. “The first rays of the morning sun glinting across your hair.”
She covered the hand that cradled her face with her own. “And when we walked back to the house, we went through the garden, you picked a rose for me, a pink one, just like this one.” Sometimes it was so odd, remembering. When that realization that you were recalling something from more than a century before startled you. She wondered if it were something that she would ever get used to – if it would ever seem normal. And what must it be like for Methos, for Lucien? What would it be like for her, God willing, another century or two or three from now? That sunrise she’d shared with Methos so long ago, at this moment, seemed like only yesterday. The Triona she was then had had total faith in the man that sat by her side that morning. The grief, the anger, the loss, was yet to come. The things that would make her the woman she was now, still in the future. “Another rose, another sunrise, but in a place I would have never imagined then.”
“Maybe not consciously.” He continued at her look of curiosity, “Lucien told me the first time he saw you, you were looking through a telescope. I think it just took time for reality to catch up with your imagination.”
Triona curled her fingers into his, pulling his hand to rest against her heart. “Maybe.”
“I always knew you’d take me to unexpected places.” He leaned down, brushing his lips against the fingers that held his. When he looked up at her, his eyes were twinkling in merriment. “And this,” he waved his free hand around expansively, “definitely meets the definition of unexpected.”
She grinned. “Happy to oblige.” Gently, she released his hand, reaching up to brush his dark hair with her fingers. “It means everything that you’ve made this journey with me,” she said softly. “Every time I’ve doubted the decision to leave Earth, to come to this new planet, every time the enormity of what we’re doing has threatened to overwhelm me, you’ve been there with faith and love. Without you by my side, I would never have let my imagination, conscious or no, lead me here.”
Methos smiled. “I think it’s time for a toast.” Once more, he reached into his pack, pulling out a bottle of champagne, followed by two glasses, which he handed to her. Deftly opening the bottle, he poured a measure of the sparkling liquid into each glass. Setting the bottle down, he took one of the glasses from her.
“What else do you have in there?” she asked, laughing.
“That would be telling!” He peered down at her. “Since you’ve decided against Valentine’s Day, I suggest a new holiday: First Sunrise.”
She cocked her head, pondering. “I don’t know…”
“What?” he protested. “You can’t possibly have an objection – no stories from me either philosophical or depressing!”
“Well, that’s true, but First Sunrise? It reminds me of that Magnum P.I episode. You know, the one where Magnum’s friend asks about going to see the sunrise and then blows up in the Ferrari?” Triona thought she was going to burst with laughter. The look on Methos’ face was absolutely priceless. She rarely got to get one up on her husband, but this time…! Triona plastered an innocent expression across her face.
“I… you…” Methos sputtered. “A TV show?” She couldn’t restrain her laughter any longer and it rang out in the quiet of the dawn. He shook his head. “You!” Pulling her towards him sharply, he kissed her hard. “You, miss, are a brat,” he declared.
“Then you’ll just have to teach me the error of my ways, won’t you?” This time, she kissed him, long and lingering, till they finally broke apart, breathless.
Catching his breath, he stroked her hair. “I’m glad to see that you’re taking on the responsibility of enshrining late twentieth century culture for future generations,” he finally said acerbically.
“Hey! Like twentieth century TV shows are any less important than ninety percent of the stuff you remember about Ancient Greece. Sure, the history books are all about Socrates and Plato, but I bet you -- and the average Icarus -- spent more time wondering who you could get to buy you a beer, or if Mila the barmaid fancied a roll in the hay.” She looked at him smugly, more than a little pleased with her herself. .
“That was very profound.”
“Wasn’t it? I should jot it down and put it in a book someday.”
”Or at least a fortune cookie,” Methos said wickedly.
“You’re just jealous of my insight and wisdom,” she sniffed.
He shook his head in amusement. “I believe, before I was so rudely interrupted, I was proposing a toast.” Methos tapped his glass against hers, once more serious. “To the unexpected.”
Triona placed her hand against his heart. “To faith and love.”
“To First Sunrise.”
They raised their glasses, the red light of Imladris’ sun, now fully risen, reflecting through the crystal of the glasses and the liquid of the champagne like a prism. A first sunrise, the first of many to follow in this new home out amongst the stars.