Fandom: Shadow of the Colossus
Pairing and/or Character: Wander/Mono
Disclaimer: This lovely world does not belong to me.
Summary: Summer is the cruelest season.
Warnings: Character death. No spoilers.
i am safe in my bed
from night until morning
i lie by your head
crying out to the earth
with tears hot and wild
for the loss of the girl
whom i loved as a child
/a look like white heat/
the sky was a harsh, perfect blue that day, a thin shell of beaten metal, faded pale in the furnace blast of late summer. she could feel the humming strain of it overhead, struggling to hold together against the night that pressed close against the other side, waiting to crack it open bleeding scarlet and fall on them all.
she wondered that day, as she waited, if anyone else knew this; how thin the summer sky is, how close it is to the delicate azure shell of an egg, to the fragile attempts at endurance in a beloved's blue eyes. how easily it shatters, like perfection.
they had bound her hands behind her before they left her to prepare the way, as if they expected her to flee like a deer at the first opportunity. she wished they hadn't--it bespoke their lack of faith in her, their belief only in her weakness and fear--and wondered at the same time what they had done to him, to keep him from coming to her where she sat alone at the fringe of the woods.
a warm breeze tugged at the hem of her gown, stark white against the rich green of mossy summer grass. her shoulders were sore, from the pull of the twine wrapped from elbows to wrists and lashed back around the tree at whose roots she sat. she would have given it a rueful look, if she could have turned her head far enough to see it.
in a way, she was grateful to them for giving her at least this last peaceful time to reflect, there in the sunlight. she didn't know if it was tradition, or expedience, keeping her out of the way in case she dissolved into hysteria in the midst of sacred ritual. they had explained very little to her, beyond the first burst of accusation, and she had no experience to reach out to, for hers was to be the first blood sacrifice in their village since anyone but the templars themselves could remember, and they had only ancient tales to draw upon.
turning her face up to the sun, she wondered exactly why the curse had chosen her. had she been too proud or vain? curses seemed to strike such women in the tales, but if she had been proud of anything, it had been his skill in the hunt; vain of nothing more than perhaps her light, quick feet in the seasonal dances. could vanity and pride as simple and small as that truly bring down the wrath of the gods?
perhaps it was chance, she thought, because continuing to think was the best defense; because she refused to go to her end weeping or screaming, without dignity, with her arms rubbed raw and bleeding through her snowy gown from panicking against the harsh ropes that held her, and she felt that panic crowding close all around her, murmuring and plucking at her skin. perhaps it was fate. perhaps it was jealousy--even a dark god could envy happiness, could it not?
and they had been so happy. she kept her eyes open, gazing nearly into the bright disc of the sun, feeling the heat of it on her cheeks. if she closed them, the tears would spill over; but perhaps the sun would burn them away in time.
she wished they would hurry. she had waited long enough, and while she would not flee and consign her village to a spreading evil even were they to cut her bonds and tell her to go, her hands were pale and shaking despite the warmth of the day. her endurance would not last forever.
hoofbeats sounded behind her, soft on the carpet of moss between the trees. she bowed her head as they approached her. the sound of a dismount, of weary breathing, and then work-roughened hands brushed her sleeves as a knife sawed carefully through the heavy twine. he would not spill her blood here; she knew that much. there was an evil in it that was not to touch the forest that she loved, the places that they protected.
'on your feet,' the man said, gruffly, and she recognized the voice of one of the elder hunters before she turned to see him, looking reluctant and half-ashamed of himself as he offered his linked hands to boost her into his saddle. her fingers were still numb and stiff, but she accepted the well-meant offer, gripping the saddlebow as best she could and trying not to sway dizzily or slide from her seat as she settled herself.
he swung up behind her, and flicked the reins gently; and with her eyes closed she could almost imagine his warmth behind her to be another's, someone who had never presumed to ride like this with her, on a horse far more familiar. this was the privilege of father and daughter, or those already pledged; but the man behind her was not her father, and if the pledging she had promised her hand to was to be broken before it began, they would have to forgive her for dreaming of it now.
the horse plodded steadily forward, down the ancient and overgrown trail; the trees slid slowly past on either side, like twigs swirling in an eddy, and she let herself float away with them, beyond terror and apprehension and the sly whisper of fear waiting to sink its teeth into her pale throat, and saw only his strong hands on the reins, his thin proud face, the rare light of his smile.
if she could keep his face in her thoughts, perhaps she could pass through this trial with her honor intact. even cursed as she was, she could go bravely.