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I use antlers in all of my decorating, but ravens are black, white raven
theravenboy wrote in milliways_bar
Bran Davies is sitting at the bar, reviewing his biology notes.

If he didn't want to be disturbed, he'd be studying at home.

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*Eventually, a cup of tea is put down next to him.*

Bachgen, I think you have earned a rest.

"Diolch." Bran closes the book without argument and accepts the teacup. "Will you join me, then?"

If I may.

*sitting and smiling* This is for university, then? Or your other schooling?

"Both. They will not let me into university if I do not pass my exams now."

Bran glances over at the piano in the corner; no one is playing it. Odd. Bran is used to phantom music, but usually it is harps, or bells, instead of insistent second and third intervals on piano.

And it goes well?

*After a moment, she follows his glance, vaguely puzzled.*

"I think so--" The music is louder, now, and compelling, with a strange magic Bran does not recognize, not Light, not Dark, not even Wild. Bran feels his mouth opening, and then he is singing without meaning to, without even knowing the melody.

"Go go go go now
Is that what Merlion
Said then?

[ooc: Tune: Tori Amos, "Mother"]

*It comes as a surprise, and then . . .

As naturally as her fingers ever traveled over a harp, her voice takes over.*

Go go go now
Royal queen without a noble guard
Here here now don't cry
I raised my hand for the assignment

*She looks up at him, and then out at the past.*

Tucked those blankets 'round you,
So quiet, you were a good soldier
First my left foot then my right behind the other
Heavy gown soaked in the cold

Bran listens. Whatever she is singing, it is true. It must be true, as it is true that he wants very much to know the answers to the questions he finds himself singing in his clear, trained tenor.

"Mother, what happened then?
Did father leave the light on?

*It seems she barely hears him.*

Stone cottage deep in the mountains, ice and, ice and storm . . .

"House just off Cadfan's Way--" He can see it in his mind, now.

Yes, Owen left the light on--

*She brings herself back, briefly.* Just in, just in case someone was lost there

*quiet* He never asked where I came from

There are still more questions. Bran's asked them before, but the song pushes him to find new answers.

"You left castle and court
You left -- but for whose safety?
Mine or yours or his, ours?

You were my precious one always
Life away for you
Away from all of the dangers
So I hoped

*a touch of bitterness* So Merlion promised me
I traded my joy for yours

Bran wants to stop and let Guinevere be. Surely she has said enough. Surely she has hurt enough, on his behalf. The phantom piano will not release them yet.

"I know you had to leave;
What made you go so early?
Was it, was it the hands of the redhead?

He almost claps his hands over his mouth, but it will do no good now.

"Heard that, dreamed that tale."

*She stiffens, and crosses herself, trying to stop herself singing.

But the music still has her, and she shakes her head.*

For Owen's sake, for yours
I would have stayed -- no matter
But no, but no, for Merlion returned me
Took me back to where I'd come from

By now, Bran wants to know more than he wants to stop her.

"You escaped into--"

I escaped into

*One hand touches the rosary she still carries with her.*
Habits safe behind stone walls, but I
Could not forget it
Arthur, you, Owen
Nor forget
Those I . . .

*Her voice trails to barely a whisper.*

Loved . . .

"First Da’s left foot, then his right behind the other,
calling out into the snow

Bran closes his eyes for a few measures, and takes a slow breath. The piano plays out all the things he still cannot say, even with the song's help.

"Oh, mother
Oh, mother now that we’re here
maybe, maybe, we’ll build our lives again after all our losses

*still soft* If we can change our ways
Maybe we'll mend what's broken
Continuing as we've started

*She closes her eyes, for even the hope he's offering cannot dry the tears already there.*

Too much of a musician to lose control of his voice, even now, Bran sings the last line soft and low.

"I can remember where I come from."

The piano pours out its last quiet, aching chords and is gone. In the sudden silence, Bran bends his head and closes his eyes.

*Guinevere covers her mouth with one hand, as if to make sure that nothing else will come out of it, and then covers her eyes.

Her shoulders shake, once.*

Hearing a faint, choked sound, Bran looks up at Guinevere. Then, tentatively, as if afraid she will push him away, Bran places his arm around her shoulders.

*And to be comforted by her son--*

Mae'n flin 'da fi, Bran, I--

Bran tenses, and then tightens his arm around his mother.

"No. Please do not apologize. Please."

You should not have to--

*She is coming back under control, but it is far from easy.*

Bran's voice firms. "Of course I should." Standing beside Guinevere, where she sits on her barstool, still holding her gently, Bran says, "Bar, would you give us a fresh pot of tea, please?"

Bar, as always, provides. It also offers a white embroidered handkerchief.

*She accepts the handkerchief, and takes a minute to calm herself down, drying her eyes.*

*finally* I am sorry, Bran. Thank you.

"It is nothing at all," Bran says, devoting his attention to his tea.

*She sniffs, and sips her tea.*

What was that?

Bran rubs the bridge of his nose with two fingers. "I could not even begin to guess."

It was -- as if I could not stop myself. No matter if I willed it or not . . .

"I could not either." Bran wrinkles his brow, thinking. "Strange things there are here, sometimes. I think... I think it was a kind of magic, but not one from our world at all. I did not recognize it."

Jesu . . .

*She sketches a sign of the cross.*

Firmly, "But it is gone now. No sign left of it."

Bran devotes himself to his tea, letting the subject drop.

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