Thine Own Heart [Rating: R ]

General Giles Fanfictions

Thine Own Heart [Rating: R ]

Unread postby Dungeonmaster » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:49 pm

Title: Thine Own Heart
Summary: The history of the three Giles Watchers: himself, his father, and his grandmother, in explanation of the rift between Giles and his father
Spoilers: Takes place roughly in Season Seven, with references to Willow's actions in Season Six
Rating: R, language and violence, non-explicit f/f slash
Author: athenae25@yahoo.com

Chapter 1

Spoiler:
Everyone Giles ever met on the Council had a different version of the story, but in every one, the ending was his father's fault.

Things overheard during the holidays, meetings he caught the tail end of at the Academy, memos to which he should not have been privy, considering the family connection. The cautionary tale of Elinor Giles was one of the more colorful legends of a school full of magnificent parables, and for someone not to mention it to the young man, carefully adding that Jeremy Giles must have had his reasons, would have been strange indeed.

But he would have known that his father was to blame even if he didn't listen to tales told over pints after classes, didn't pay attention to the way professors glossed over the story when he was in the room, hadn't snuck into Quentin's office one night and spent six hours buried in Elinor's private files.

He would have known it from the guilt that collapsed his father's face the day she died, two weeks after he turned 15.

***

"Giles, who's this?" Willow pushed the silver-framed photo across his desk.

She had volunteered to help him clear out some of his old things to donate to charity, but had seriously underestimated the number of boxes they'd need.

Every surface in his apartment was covered with bits of crystal, old woolly sweaters all pulled out of shape, magazines in tatters, metal instruments whose use Willow could only guess at. And, she thought, how many books could one man own? He kept producing them, from under couch cushions and behind the flour in the kitchen.

He barely glanced at the picture she indicated. "No, I'm keeping that."

"I know. I'm just curious who it is. She looks like you. The taller one, anyway."

He put down the blue glass vase Joyce had given him one unbearably awkward Christmas and picked up the picture. "It's my grandmother."

"The Watcher grandmother? Is that her slayer?"

"No. She never had the privilege of working with an active slayer. She was assigned mainly to monitor potentials until the Council knew whether or not they would be called. This was her last assignment, Catherine Jones."

Willow frowned at the photo. "She looks a little like Faith."

Giles took off his glasses and squinted at it. "Yes, I can see that. In the eyes, and the way she holds her head …"

"And the leather get-up. And the wicked sword."

"Those, too."

He put it back down. "Let's get back to the books, shall we?"

Willow didn't take her eyes off the photograph, Giles so seldom mentioned his family that any tidbit was seized on and chewed over during Scooby meetings like the juiciest celebrity gossip. "What was she like?"

"Willow," Giles huffed impatiently. "Why do you want to know this?"

"It's just … a female Watcher. In 1930s England, no less. That's so cool. It's like a … a spy movie, with Ingrid Bergman, and vampires."

He smiled, a hooded smile. "She was rather like that. More Greta Garbo, though, than Ingrid Bergman. By the time I knew her, she was very old, and ill. She'd been in care for years, because of what my father considered great mental instability."

Willow's eyes grew wide at this wealth of information. "Your father considered?" she ventured cautiously.

"After her last potential, this girl in the photograph, died … in a freak accident, apparently, she grieved quite deeply. They had been very close. And my father, who at that time was in training as a Watcher, had her committed to a mental institution."

Willow looked up at him, shocked. "But, if it wasn't one run by the Council, if she talked about slayers, they must have thought …"

"That she was quite batty, yes." Giles' face twisted with something Willow didn't understand. By the time I met her as a child of six, she had had years of electric shock therapy. Debilitating drugs. The doctors had convinced her she had imagined most of the things she talked about, though every now and again she was lucid enough.

"She talked in riddles, most of the time," Giles said softly. "She told me endless and elaborate stories about knights and ladies, and when she was finished there was always a lesson, a moral to the tale. I think it was her way of holding on to the only thing she knew how to do: teach children to fight the darkness.

"It wasn't until I began my own training that I found out exactly what happened to her. What my father had done."

His eyes were far away. "What I discovered … that was in large part why I ran away to London. My father and I haven't spoken about it in years. Or about anything else, either."

He looked at Willow then, and appeared to catch himself. "Anyway, dust and ashes, a long time ago," he said briskly, and she cursed her too-open, obviously nosy face.

"Shall we continue this tomorrow?" he asked, looking away again. "It's getting late, and I would hate to keep you from Buffy and Dawn."

"No problem," she acquiesced, hoping she didn't actually have a little cartoon light bulb over her head. When he shut the door behind her with a final smile and wave, she hugged herself and nearly squealed out loud with glee.

Part of the trouble with Giles, she and Xander had once decided, was that he appeared to need so little from them. Except for times of great duress, he kept his stalwart and self-sufficient face before them, rebuffing all but the smallest attempts at affection or assistance.

Here, at last, was something she could do to repay Giles for all his counsel and intervention after Tara's death. Some way she could pay him back for the harm he'd suffered at her hands.

Giles did so much for them, for her especially. She would do this for him.

She'd make Buffy look up the number, or find it on the net.

"This," Willow whispered to herself, "is going to be great."

***

Two weeks later they were finally finished packing. Teasing Giles loudly about paying for a chiropractic treatment, Xander loaded the heavy boxes into his truck and promised to drop them off at the local Salvation Army.

After the boy left, Giles straightened up the gaps in the bookshelves and noticed the photograph Willow had remarked on leaning up against the coffee table. He picked it up and looked into the two faces; one, a more delicate mirror of his own, the other pale, older than her teenage years and curiously defiant.

Elinor was standing slightly behind Catherine, her hand on the younger girl's shoulder. Catherine stood, legs apart, sword drawn, in a mock knight's pose, a wicked smile on her lips. She looked like she was protecting her Watcher. Elinor, her eyes shining, looked as though she did not mind being protected in the slightest.

This was what Jeremy Giles locked away in a madhouse, he thought, putting the photograph back down.

When the bell rang, he sighed. "Xander, what did you forget?" he said, opening the door.

"Hello, Rupert."

Whenever Giles pictured his father, he saw him the day he'd stood beside his grandmother's grave. His father had delivered the eulogy, sounding for all the world as if it wasn't his fault she'd spent the last 50 years confined away from the world. And when the first shovelful of dirt hit the box she was buried in, Giles snapped, and before he could stop himself his fist was flying toward his father's face.

Laughable, really. He was a skinny child who hadn't hit his final growth spurt yet. He could no more inflict harm on the six-foot-tall, 200 pound man dressed in black than he could fly. But that didn't stop him from trying.

And the obvious disparity in size didn't stop his father from hitting back, much harder, so that the last thing he saw before he blacked out was his father's tormented face, looming above him in the rain.

He blinked, and the vision disappeared, and in its place stood a gray old man, worn and tired and in traveling clothes, so much smaller than the monster of his memories.

"Father." He drew a deep breath, trying not to think of the last twelve arguments they'd had in the last twelve years. "Why are you here?"

Jeremy Giles sighed, and there it was, the echo of his disappointment of a childhood. "It was a very long flight, Rupert. Might I have a drink, or sit down?"

"Of course." He stood aside and let his father enter, ashamed at once at the shabby state of his rooms, the Chinese food packets still littering the counter from the last research party the others held. He splashed some whiskey into two glasses and handed one to his father.

"How long have you lived here?" His father set his bag down and sat, facing the kitchen, not looking at him.

"Seven years, off and on," he replied. "I returned to England for a time, but then ... came back."

His father looked up sharply. "When were you home, Rupert?"

"Does it matter?" He paced behind the couch. "Tell me why you're here. What is it you want?"

"What I want?" Jeremy looked puzzled. "The young lady who summoned me here so peremptorily told me it was you who required my presence."

"The young ..." He froze, then grimaced and downed his drink in a gulp. "Willow. Bloody Masterpiece Theater ... what the hell was she thinking?"

"You didn't know?"

"Clearly, Father."

His father looked away again, shoulders slumping. "It was," he said wearily, "a very long flight."

"Of course you should stay the night in Sunnydale," Giles said grudgingly. "I'm sure the local hotels will have room. I'll call one of them for you."

Jeremy looked up sharply. "How generous of you."

"Well, this place isn't really equipped for …" Giles caught himself apologizing and winced.

"For what?"

"For rehashing old arguments and explaining myself to you as if I was tardy for dinner," Giles retorted. "How is Mother?"

"Very well. She said to tell you thanks for your last letter."

"You spoke with her recently?"

"After your … Willow called me, I called to let her know I'd be seeing you."

"I can imagine what she had to say about that."

"'Try not to bollocks things up more than you already have' were her exact words, actually," Jeremy said, smiling for the first time.

Giles couldn't help but smile back. The divorce had been bitter, but trust Mother to keep her sense of humor about it after all these years.

The silence stretched until neither could bear it anymore.

"What did Willow—"

"Are you and—"

Both chuckled. "You first," Jeremy said almost graciously. "It's your house."

"What did Willow tell you required your assistance?"

Jeremy stood, pacing, and the familiarity of the nervous habit struck Giles like a blow. "She told me about her … trouble, last year. I'd heard of her, of course, through the coven, and of your involvement. She said you needed help sorting out what to tell the Council."

"The Council." Giles snorted. "Yes, that's definitely who I need passing judgment on my actions, or on Willow's, for that matter."

Jeremy eyed him levelly. "They might be able to help you keep her in line."

"Oh, Father." He sighed, suddenly exhausted. "If only Willow was our problem. If only I still believed that cabal of fascists and fools could actually be of some kind of use to us. Your world is a much simpler place than mine."

"Yes, in your world one raises demons and kills one's friends. I can imagine mine looks rather staid in comparison."

Giles shook his head. "Had I even needed your help, which is laughable, I could have called you, or you me."

"She also said …" Jeremy hesitated. "She said you wanted to see me."

He could say no, she was wrong, and that would be the end of it. Giles saw that with certainty. He could say no, and his father would walk out the door, and there would be no more attempts at reconciliation.

When he didn't speak, his father put his glass down on the side table, and saw the photograph. "I didn't know you had this."

He picked it up, and Giles stifled an absurd urge to snatch it away from him. "Mother gave it to me when I came here."

Jeremy stared at it, a look in his eyes Giles could not place. "She was magnificent, wasn't she?"

"Yes, well, you took care of that, didn't you?" The words out too fast, his jaw slamming shut on the last of them.

"That is enough!" his father shouted, startling them both. "Rupert, we hashed this over before you went to London, and we hashed it over again when you returned. How long do you intend to go on blaming me for your grandmother's illness?"

"How long is she going to be dead?" The old familiar rage welling up in his chest. "How long was she a stunted, broken woman who only remembered enough of her life to tell me fairy stories about it?"

"You don't know what happened."

"I do know! I read her diaries when I joined the Council, Father. I know what happened between her and Catherine. And I know what you did to her afterwards."

Jeremy looked at him coldly.

"No," he said. "You don't know. You weren't there. You can't imagine."
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Re: Thine Own Heart [Rating: R ]

Unread postby Dungeonmaster » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:51 pm

Chapter 2

Spoiler:
Watcher Diary of Elinor Giles

July 7, 1936

Catherine Jacobs, 16, of Chicago, has been assigned to me and is to be sent here tomorrow to begin her training. The activity outside of Oxford is of particular concern to the Council and so they've made arrangements for her to live here with me until she reaches the age of consent. She has been living in an orphanage since her parents died, and though the sisters who run that institution insist she spends more time on the streets than she does at her books, she is said to be bright and articulate. I look forward to meeting her.

I have been an active Watcher since the age of 29. Catherine will be my third assignment of a potential. I am nearing 40 now, and I think she will be my last assignment as well. While many on the Council continue to be active well into their 60s, I am tired, and looking forward to retirement. Arthur left me handsomely provided for, and my son, Jeremy, will carry on the family traditions.

Gileses have been Watchers since the beginning of the Council, and they will be Watchers until the end.



July 9

I met Catherine today. She showed none of the resentment, rebellion or fear I have seen in previous girls who've shown her promise. In fact, she greeted me warmly and said she was eager to begin her studies, which I found surprising. Perhaps she is only eager to have a direction provided for her in life. She has been alone for many years. Her parents died when she was 8, when their motor was hit by a train.

She is tall, nearly as tall as I am, with long light brown hair and dark brown, nearly black, eyes. She's too thin, though, for the physical trials she'll have to face, and I instructed Bernice to make sure she's well fed.

Bernice seemed pleased to have someone else to cook for again. I listened as she and Abigail led Catherine down to her new room, thinking it was good for them to have a young girl here. With Jeremy away at the Academy pursuing his own studies, this house has been too quiet since Arthur died.



July 12

Catherine asks endless questions, mostly about the farm that borders our property and the family that has worked it for centuries. She wanted to see all the animals, to milk the cows, to walk up and down in the vegetable garden while Amos told her the name of each plant. He has been wonderfully patient with her and I am deeply grateful to him for his hospitality.

She and I have also talked a great deal, in the interest of building her trust in me. She spent a great deal of her time on the streets of Chicago, exploring the city, and something in her face still lights up when she talks about sneaking into basement taverns, listening to jazz music. She wanted to be a singer, she said, before Geoffrey Price came along.

At the mention of his name her expression closed down. The conversation that followed was very telling, and I've transcribed it as best I can recall.

"Did he explain everything about your situation?"

She shook her head. "He tried, but … it was a lot to take in at once. Am I the only one right now?"

"The only potential?" She nodded. "No. There are at present three others who have been identified. One is in Madagascar. The other two are both in India."

"Will you train them all?"

"No." She looked relieved. "They've been assigned other Watchers, who will monitor them according to their situations."

"And the …" she seemed to struggle. "The Slayer? The real one? Where is she?"

I considered her carefully. "Slovenia, right now," I finally said. "There was some disturbing activity in the Balkans and she was sent to root it out. She'll be there some time."

"So am I first in line, to take her place if she dies?" Her face was equal parts eager, and afraid.

"I don't know," I admitted. "Some potentials are never called. You may be one of those. Didn't Geoffrey tell you?"

"He did, but …" Her dark eyes flashed suddenly. "He said it was a silly expense to train me, when in all likelihood it would be `that insufferable twit from Mongolia called next.' I didn't even know who he was talking about."

Geoffrey, Geoffrey. None of us found Ming-Han easy to handle, but handicapping her chances in front of a potential … very badly done indeed.

"What happens if I'm not called?"

"We will assist you in fulfilling whatever task you choose to set for yourself, of course. Geoffrey tells me you were quite the accomplished locksmith in Chicago."

She grinned, a rakish glint in her eyes. "Broke into his hotel room and rearranged the furniture while he was out booking the trip," she confessed, and I could not restrain a chuckle. Mustn't encourage her criminal tendencies in the future, however amusing it might be to put one over on the old stuffed shirt.

"Who else lives here?"

"In the house, you mean?" She nodded. "My son, Jeremy, when he isn't at University or the Academy. He just turned 20. Bernice and Abigail you've met … There's a dog that belongs to Frederick the gardener, but that's all of us."

"What about your husband?"

"Arthur died two years ago," I said, and held up a hand to forestall her stammering apology. "It's all right, Catherine. He and I married very young, before I entered the Watcher's Academy. We had almost 20 years together."

"Do you want to remarry?" She saw my expression and stopped, blushing again. "I'm sorry, that was rude. It's just that you're so pretty."

It was my turn to flush. Foolish old woman. I've remained in shape over the years by necessity, to keep up with my young charges in fencing and fighting, and Bernice's cooking of late has not encouraged gluttony, but I know what I am, and pretty is not it.

Vanity. Task at hand. "Let's get you some supper, shall we?"

"Mrs. Giles?"

"Yes, Catherine?"

"What do I call you? I mean—"

"Call me Elinor."

She smiled.



July 14

Catherine is progressing very well. She grows stronger by the day, and her reading is helping what at first I considered unnecessary rashness. I did not wish to frighten the poor thing, but she seemed so eager to begin actual combat that I saw more good than harm in giving her access to the Demon Text Reference. A few photographs and grisly descriptions of disembowelment later, she was most content to stay on the property and spar with me instead of hunting trouble on her own.



August 2

Catherine has become more direct and personal in her questions of late. I've tried to steer her concentration back to training, giving her a heavier workload so her mind will not be so free for speculation, but it seems there is ample room in her quick brain for both.

"How long have you been in this ... line of work?"

"All my life. I was born into it. My father was a Watcher, and his father before him."

"It must have been hard for you." She paged absently through the Encyclopaedia Moria. "Not to be able to choose your life."

I was surprised by this observation, more so that she was taking an interest. "You didn't choose yours, either, Catherine. Sometimes our borders are set by others, but what we do within those lines is what defines us."

She slammed the book closed. "No one defines my life but me," she said, her voice and eyes suddenly sharp and hard. "And I can leave anytime I want to. I can choose to leave."

She stalked into the house, and I did not follow her. One of the hardest things to teach someone is how to surrender to your duty, your destiny. How to learn who you are, and once you learn, how to accept it.

She still felt the need to maintain an illusion of control. I let go long ago, as easily as breathing.



August 18

I allowed Catherine to patrol tonight for the first time outside the woods of my property. She didn't go far, and I accompanied her, but I could see she gloried in the freedom she'd once enjoyed in her city, being alone with the night.

We encountered no demons. She wore loose trousers and a shirt that was inadequate for the weather, and was shivering by the time we reached the gate again. I gave her my cloak to wear until we were inside.



August 20

"How did your husband die?"

I looked up, startled, and nearly cut myself on the sword I was sharpening. "He had cancer, Catherine."

"I'm sorry," she said. "I just … you never talk about him."

"He was ill a long time," I said, my eyes on the blade, but I could sense she was paying very close attention. "Toward the end, he did not … know me. The pain affected his mind. It was very …" I stopped, flustered. She did not need to know this.

"You must have loved each other very much," she said softly.

"Being married to a Watcher was difficult, at times, for both of us." It had been so long since I had had someone to talk to about Arthur. Talking about his father upset Jeremy, and I wouldn't dare reveal personal details to Bernice or Abigail, loyal though they were. "The Council is mostly men, so I am an oddity. I at times felt he did not understand or respect my work. And in turn, he often became frustrated that we did not have a `normal' life, complete with dinner parties and more children. Arthur would have worshipped daughters."

"And it was tough begging off supper with some big university type because your wife's vampire slayer stumbled on a nest of Kraal demons and got herself beat up by one," she surmised with a sympathetic smile, and I had to laugh.

"That's it, precisely. Why, there was one occasion …" I caught myself. "But he was lovely about it, as much as any man could be expected to be."

"As any man," she echoed, and there was a look on her face I could not interpret.



August 25

Catherine hasn't been sleeping well lately. She tells me she's taken to walking around the house in the dark, looking out windows, afraid something is out there that she missed during her now-nightly patrols. She doesn't mention nightmares, but I can see from the smudges under her eyes that she's having a difficult time adjusting to an owl's routine. She often misses breakfast, which makes Abigail fret and Bernice scowl, muttering darkly about the waste of food.

Tonight I awoke with a start sometime after 2 a.m. and my hand was on the dagger beneath my pillow before I turned on the bedside lamp. She was standing in the doorway in her pajamas, leaning against the frame, looking at me with a curious expression.

"Catherine." I tried to still my pounding heart. Surely she could hear it.

"You frightened the life out of me. What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she said, but didn't look away. "I was lonely, that's all."

I dropped the dagger and fell back on my pillows, chuckling with relief. "We'll have to consider getting you a pet of some kind."

She came a step inside the room. "That would be nice."

"You may as well sit down," I said, resigned, gesturing to the chair beside my bed. "I'm wide awake now."

She sat on the edge of the bed instead, her fingers kneading the quilts. I realized, suddenly, that I had not had company in my bedroom since Arthur died. Curious, the sound of another voice in here.

"Maybe a cat," I suggested. "A nice tabby. It could keep you company on your evening perambulations. You could train it to walk on a leash. I've seen cats like that."

She smiled indulgently. "Dear Elinor."

"So long as you kept it away from Frederick's wolfhound, I don't think it would be any trouble. And if it slept on your bed, that might calm you somewhat, not to mention keep you warm ..."

She laid a hand on my bare arm, and every one of my senses crackled. It was the strangest reaction to touch I've ever had.

"You're so good to me," she said. "Just like a sister. Just like a dear, dear friend."

When she pressed her lips to my forehead, I closed my eyes.



September 10

Catherine's 17th birthday.

Catherine cut all her hair off yesterday. When she came down to breakfast this morning, she looked like a soldier of the middle ages, a ragged cap of hair all that remained on her head. Her step seemed lighter, and when I asked her why she'd done it, she only laughed.

"The hell with fashion," she said. "I was hot under it."

We trained with the sword today. She did well.



October 4

Something has happened I can barely bring myself to recount. Each time I try I hear myself sounding like a silly old woman, or worse, like a criminal, a predator. But I must, in the interest of full disclosure, report what has transpired between Catherine and I. What lessons can this give? What purpose can it serve? That is for others to decide, and judge.

She had been having a particularly difficult week. She failed three of the exams I set out for her: a basic outline of the history of Vlad the Impaler, identification of common signs of a werewolf attack, and two essays on the roles of Slayer and Watcher in a post-war society.

Memorization had been a weak spot in her training. She could map her old city in the dirt for me to illustrate a story, but show her a list of dates in a book and she went blank.

We argued, for the first time, and she got the kind of tongue-lashing lecture about duty and sacrifice that I used to give the other girls on a weekly basis. She flounced off, I assumed to sulk somewhere.

But when I went up to my rooms to complete that day's journal entry and change for dinner, Catherine was there, waiting for me, and my diary was open on her lap.

"How did you get in here?"

She sneered at me. "I picked your locks, Elinor. You knew I had a talent for that when you brought me here. You ought to get better security, you know. There are things in here that would burn this house down."

She flung the diary at me, the page she was reading marked. I cringed inwardly at the entry she'd stopped on. " … Ming-Han has run away again. Clearly she does not have the temperament of a Slayer, or if she does, she will be a short-lived one. A mercy, perhaps, and the best we can hope for is that she takes a few vampires with her when she goes."

"Is this what I am to you?" Her voice was shaking. "A tool, something to be used and ... thrown away? Like the others? Like Ming-Han?"

I had never seen her this upset.

"When I wrote that, I was angry, Catherine. Try to understand. Ming-Han was a frustrating case and I was doing the best I could to cope with her."

"And what about me?" She looked near to tears and that terrified me. "Your early entries about me, how plain and dull I sound, how I'm doing in this, how I'm progressing in that. You sound like Amos talking about the corn, not one person talking about another."

"Catherine, I told you these diaries are for the benefit of other watchers. They are not for me to record my feelings for you, or to dwell on—"

"Personal details," she said bitterly.

"Yes."

"And what do the `personal details' about me sound like, Elinor? What would you write about me if you wrote about everything?"

I took her hands, rough and calloused, in my own. "Your footsteps are distinct from every other person's in this house to my ears. You pray in our old chapel before patrolling and think I don't know about it."

She closed her eyes.

"I watch you far more than my job requires—of course I care about you, in ways I only half understand …"

She silenced me with her lips.

My mind cried out in protest, she is young, and too dependent on me, but her kiss tasted like copper and bitter greens, her mouth bruising and fierce. If I did not lean toward her, she did not pull away, not for a long moment, not until we heard the heel-clicks on stone that heralded Abigail approaching the room with a tray.

"Tea, ma'am?"

"Just leave it, Abby."

"Yes, ma'am."

Catherine stepped away from me and poured herself a cup of tea.

I felt I must say something. "Catherine, I have never—"

She cut me off. "Elinor, I know." She sipped her tea, making a face at its bitter taste. "And I know how old I am and how old you are. And I'm not—" She huffed impatiently.

"I love you," she said, her voice not quite steady. "Not my Watcher. You, yourself."

"You only think you do."

"That isn't true. You know it. You must have known it."

I made my voice stern. "What I know—think—is irrelevant. I am your Watcher, Catherine, and until we know whether or not you are to be called my duty is to safeguard you, and train you. I cannot allow this kind of—relationship, to interfere with that."

She stepped closer again and set the teacup down. Her fingers traced the blue silk of my blouse collar, lingered at my throat. And I had to swallow hard before I could ask. "Are you, Catherine, inclined in such a—"

"I don't know." She touched my hair. "I only know you're here and you're different from anyone I've ever known, and—"

"Catherine, please—"

"There were some girls at the orphanage," she said quickly. "They … showed me things. Things that could be done, between us."

I knew of such things, of course. American film stars … One of Arthur's colleagues … Whispers about certain of my schoolmates, whom I'd found intriguing in their utter difference from my solid country upbringing …

Her eyes had not left mine. Here we stood, two women in an empty house. Her skin had been cold to my touch.

"I have no right," I finally said, slowly and deliberately, tying to make her hear every word, "to take you away from your sacred duty, or to neglect mine."

"I don't care, I don't care, I don't care!" she shouted at me, putting her hands over her ears as if to turn back my argument physically. "I just learned about this destiny of mine three months ago. Why is it so important? Why is it more important than this? It's not more important to me. Why does It matter so much to you?"

I was angry with her by then, angry with her obstinacy and her perception. "You barely know me, Catherine. You have no right to judge my life!"

She took both my wrists and held them tightly. "But I do know you. I do, Elinor.

"I know you're nice to everybody. You give Bernice and Abigail instructions, but you don't boss them or try to make them feel small because they work for you. You went to school ten times longer than Amos next door, but you know he's tons smarter than you about some things, about the land, and you let him tell you what to do.

"I know you're lonely. I know you and your son don't get along, because I've been here all summer and I've never met him. I know it hurt you when Genevieve wasn't called, because you really believed in her. The way you believe in me."

I could not speak.

"I've seen you fight. You're so strong and so quick, and you really enjoy it, I can see from the way your face gets, all warm and … lit up. You're so beautiful at those moments, Elinor, so alive.

"But sometimes you look so sad when we talk about my future, or your husband. Sometimes you get angry with me for no reason and talk to me like I'm one of the barn cats, like I'm just going to obey you.

"I've never even heard you laugh. Not really, not out loud. And I want to."

It was all true, and it was all wrong.

Genevieve, a society girl by birth, had been entirely wrapped up in her own life and her own problems during our time together. If she saw me at all, it was as a nursemaid, forcing healthy meals down her throat and nagging her to get adequate sleep.

To Ming-Han, I was a jailer, a nuisance, the evil thing who stole her from her parents and the village in which she'd lived all her life. She rebelled, ran away, loathed me, and after a time I came to return the feelings.

Those two girls were nearly half my life, and I was never more than an accessory to them. An audience to their tales of bravery and sacrifice.

Catherine looked straight at me and saw me apart from what I was to her. I was still real to her when I left the room.

There are moments when your life stands before you, when you look at it whole, and wonder what it would be like to douse it all with petrol, to just let it burn. When you wonder what it would be like, to do that which you know is rash, and wrong, and dance around the bonfire in the middle of the night.

Will the world end if I kiss her?

She still held my hands, and I brought them to my lips, one before the other, and as her mouth traced the outline of my throat I couldn't help but laugh, right out loud.

And hearing it, she paused in her caresses and whispered to me, "That's all I wanted to hear."



November 30

I slid my fingers along the ridges in her backbone. She was cold winter air, the first breath of a carol drifting over the snow, and her skin was thin and bluish, vellum in the dark.

I have never done anything like this before, I whispered to her, and she laughed low in her throat, and her teeth knocked against my collarbone. I am the student now, and she the teacher, and for someone so young she gives lessons that would daunt a don. Writing this, now, I can still feel her hands in my too-gray hair, her teasing voice, calling me her sterling lady, her precious metal, her Elinor.

I left my weapons at her door tonight, but she came to me well armed. I am overmatched, I whispered into her shoulder blade. I am unstrung.

Sometimes, after a long patrol, she strips off her jewelry, rings and bracelets clattering on the marble vanity, and I think of Joan of Arc putting off her armour, chain mail washed in the blood of dead men at Orleans.

She should have knights riding into battle under her banner. She should be woven into a tapestry for a castle's royal hall. She should be carved in limestone atop the tomb of a saint.

She pressed her hand into the hollow inside my hip, and thoughts of sainthood, for me or for her, fled as if pursued by all the demons in hell.



December 6 (St. Nicholas Day)

I write now in a book no one will ever see. I am determined to take Catherine away before she can be called. Before she faces a choice between me, and her duty. Before I face that choice, because I know what I would do.

She came to me last night, and once again I could not turn her away.

"What does it matter," she whispered, "if we wipe every demon off the face of the earth and live on alone? I'm not that unselfish, Elinor. I need you more than the rest of the world needs me."

Let silly little Genevieve be called after all, then. Let it be Ming-Han. Let poor Olga, fighting in Russia now, live forever.

Catherine was sent to me. I will not give her up.



December 19

And all I can do is write your name, your smile in every curve of my pen. Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine.

My world has come off its wires. It spins backwards now, fast enough to turn back time.

I cannot imagine I was wrong to love you. Did it make you careless, Catherine, were you walking where you should not that night? Did you taunt the boys, give them a look that said—ohhowIknowthatlook—show me what you can do with all your swagger?

Sometimes, when you laughed, I could hear the tinkle of the martini glass, the clatter of your beaded dress as you sat in the dark bar in your city far away.

Would this be easier if it was your fault, or mine? Would it be easier if you died in battle, instead of in some absurd accident of time and place? Could I rage at fate, would that bring you back to me, Catherine, my brave Catherine?

Would an extraordinary death reconcile me to your absence? Would the knowledge you had saved a thousand lives balance the loss of your own?

The heart abhors such measurements. Catherine, my darling Catherine. Catherine. Catherine.
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Re: Thine Own Heart [Rating: R ]

Unread postby Dungeonmaster » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:52 pm

Chapter 3

Spoiler:
"She was incredibly powerful, my mother," Jeremy Giles said softly. "Your grandfather was a steady, loving, kind man whose emotions were only ever really aroused by a fine Yorkshire pudding. Your grandmother was all passion, boiling beneath the surface. When she was younger, she could harness those passions, turn them into magicks, control them. By the time Catherine was killed, she was older, and her control was … not what it used to be."

"The diaries never mentioned how she died." Giles' voice was rough. "There are different theories, of course."

Jeremy cleared his throat elaborately. "The day after Christmas, her body was found two miles from home. According to what we could piece together, she had been patrolling, and had been set upon by a group of men come from the village tavern. They were very drunk, and may have tried to … assault her. She fought them off at first, but there were too many of them. They beat her violently. Most of her major bones were broken. Your grandmother is the one who found her.

"It's so frighteningly fragile," Jeremy said softly. "Our sanity. It's so terribly easy to smash it to bits."

Giles remembered the days after Buffy disappeared. Alone, without Willow or Xander, the darkness would have been very close. He swallowed hard.

"She wouldn't eat. Wouldn't sleep. She walked around and around the house in the middle of the night, screaming." Jeremy shuddered. "At first she wouldn't let anyone bury Catherine. Then she insisted she be buried in the family plot. I tried to talk to her, but she just kept saying that Catherine was an orphan, she was her only family, and then—she tried to raise—" He had to stop, and Giles, remembering the horrifying transatlantic phone call from Willow last fall, turned away.

"Amos found her in the field, covered in blood. He called me at university, and I came home. Rupert, she looked straight at me and did not know me, and the next night, she snuck out of the house and tried the spell again.

"So I did," Jeremy continued sharply, "what you could not, or would not, do with your little witch girl here. I gave her up."

"To doctors who heard her talk of vampires and secret Councils, and gave her electric shock! Who almost made her believe she had imagined her entire life!"

"The Council would have turned her out for what she tried to do! You know that. I'm not excusing my actions. The coven was inactive then, and the Council would have exiled her. They might have even—I don't want to think so, but she was very powerful, and that power unchecked could have— It was the only way to get her any real care.

"I did what was needed to keep her alive. Perhaps I was wrong to do it. Perhaps I should have let her join her Catherine. But I loved her, longer than you did, and more.

"And you knew her because of what I did."

"I knew an old witch trapped in a turret, unsure of her own memories, seeing ghosts," Giles spat out. "I wouldn't call it generosity."

Jeremy stopped pacing and looked at him. "How can I make you understand?" he whispered, and the intensity of feeling in his face startled Giles out of his anger. "She wasn't my Watcher. She wasn't a character in a romantic story to me.

"Your mother … is your history, your entire past. Every scrape and bruise is something she patched up. Every lesson … every time I drive a car, which at my age is not often, it's because she taught me how, on a dirt road behind the house. I almost hit a cow, and I thought she'd be angry, but she couldn't stop laughing."

He smiled. "One Christmas morning, I woke up to find her running around the house, frantically tearing through every cupboard and drawer. My father had hidden the Christmas gifts, so well, in fact, that he couldn't remember where he'd put them.

"I made a choice, Rupert, in taking her to that hospital rather than the Council. I could follow the rules, perhaps salvage the Watcher, or save my mother. I chose my mother. And for the world since then, I cannot be sorry for it."

Giles thought of Buffy, and Willow. Who were so much more than their duties, their places in battle. If there was a rule he wouldn't break for them, he hadn't found it yet.

What more was there to say, then. Nothing, the same thing they'd said all their lives. They stood there, two old men, their histories bound up in a story, now nothing but a tragic fairytale that had stained both their lives.

Dust and ashes, Giles thought, long ago.

And a living man in front of him, who'd shown him how to ride a bicycle, one sunny July morning on the dirt road behind the house.

His father spoke first. "It was a very long flight."

"You should stay here tonight," Giles said, moving toward him. "I'll make up the couch for you." He considered his father's bent frame. "On second thought, take the bed. I'll sleep down here."

"Thank you." Jeremy turned to go upstairs, but Giles' voice stopped him.

"I don't know if I'll ever forgive what you did," he said, feeling his anger fade. "But I think I understand, or I want to, why you did it. And perhaps, from there, there might be something we could ..."

"Yes," his father said, and disappeared up the hallway steps.

Jeremy left the next morning, but before he got out of the car at the airport, he handed Giles an envelope. Inside was a slim volume bound in red leather, stamped with Elinor's initials.

"She kept up the diaries, even after she seemed to accept that Catherine was dead," Jeremy Giles said. "She started this one the week before she died. It only has one entry, but it's about you."

They didn't embrace, but Giles watched after him, until his father's gray head disappeared into the corridor, his dark coat blending with dozens of others, down and around the corner, out of sight.

***

Private Journal of Elinor Giles

July 1966

Things shift quickly in here, glimmer and sail away like silver fish-fins underneath the waves, beautiful and powerful, glimpsed and gone. At times I wake in the morning and feel in my body everything I know is a fantasy, and my fingertips buzz and I hear singing, and I think if I blink I'll see heaven.

One afternoon at university I discovered the poetry of Yeats and lost myself in the library for three days reading it, hidden so deep in the stacks that even Roddy the janitor couldn't find me to tell me the building was closing. I hadn't brought my watch, hadn't looked at a clock, and when I stumbled out into the sunlight I was like a blind thing, expecting it to be night.

I was drunk with those lovely words and it's like that now, smoky in my throat like whiskey, burning all the way down to my heels. I can see her so clearly, Catherine, if I reach out I might touch her, but then she flits away and the magic turns to pebbles, to driftwood, to ashes.

The boy came to visit me today.

Jeremy promised this time, so I painted my lips red and wore my white dress as if expecting a lover. I look in the mirror and I'm all gray now, and the person who stares back at me, I can see right through her.

The boy stood in the doorway at half-past twelve and said, "Grandmother?"

His voice was timid. Damn Jeremy for that. And damn Jeremy for standing just outside the room, listening to every word, making sure I don't tell him anything important.

"Come here, darling." I made my voice, my old witch's voice that frightened birds and children long before I went mad, soft and comfortable for him. "I won't hurt you."

He approached slowly, all pale skin and soft pale brown hair. Such a solemn little face, like a small owl. But his eyes were mine, were mirrors of my own, were things I could drown in.

"Thank you for coming to visit me."

"Mother said I had to," he said, but without resentment.

"Your mother is very kind." She'd have to be, married to that son of mine.

"I made you a picture," he said, and handed me a drawing that surely he had not shown his father before he folded it up and tucked it in his pocket. It was of a lion tearing apart a deer, blood and teeth and claws and howling. I smiled at him.

"We watched a nature programme at school," he explained, warming to his subject. "The lions move in so fast, and get the weakest members of the herd. And they try to stay together, and keep the small ones in the middle, but sometimes the lions kill them anyway."

I laid it on my table. "It's lovely, Rupert. I'll hang it up near my bed later."

He cocked his head and considered me, a strange wrinkled creature in a cell. "You used to fight," he said suddenly, and I heard Jeremy stir outside the door. "I've seen photographs of you. With a sword. And another girl, with short hair."

Oh, Catherine. Catherine.

I reached out to him and drew him onto my lap, his six-year-old body warm in my arms. And if I still believed in seeing things before they happened, I would have seen him grown and strong, with a girl at his side like Catherine had been at mine.

I would have been filled with pride. And pity.

But I don't believe in visions anymore.

"Stay close, darling," I whispered to him. "And I'll tell you a story, about a beautiful princess, and the brave knight who fought dragons for her."

He nestled his head against my shoulder, and I began to talk.



"Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.
Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile.
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For ill things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass."
-- William Butler Yeats


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