Fandom: Shadow of the Colossus
Pairing and/or Character: Wander/Mono
Disclaimer: This lovely world does not belong to me.
Summary: Springtime courting, at the dawn of the year.
Warnings: Reckless horsemanship. No spoilers.
and will lie there forever
if your hands were in mine
then i know we'd not sever
my appletree, my brightness
tis time we were together
for i smell of the earth
and i'm worn by the weather
/the blossoms made garlands in their hair/
it was innocence in the meadow, transient and lovely.
theirs was a living world and a pure one, in the season of new things rising, and they made every place in it a courting-ground for that one bright springtime. their people had rules about such things and they did not dare to break them--he would not ask for her honor, and she had so much more to give, and all of creation stretched out waiting before them.
so they walked it together, one safe step apart, his horse's reins held loose in his hands and she at his side plucking the occasional flower to tuck among the strands of her dark hair. some days she perched small in the saddle with both her hands clinging tight to the harness, swaying with the horse's gentle steps. and the newborn season pushed up in thin green strands around them, rising through the loam of the forest floor and the damp brownish thatch of last year's perished grasses.
there came a morning when they walked far, past greening groves where the ferns nodded by the brackish watersides, until at last the trees opened up before them in a rush of liquid sunlight. at their feet lay a vast green expanse of meadow, verdant and wide with pale blossoms scattered down the slope. her face alight, she slid from the saddle and into the whispering blades of grass with a cry of delight, burying her hands in a wealth of wildflowers. she felt the warmth of him standing behind her, imagined him shading his eyes with one arm to take in the rolling view...
at the snap of reins and a soft triple thud of shuffling hooves, and a whicker from the horse, she looked up and found a ton of dark beast reared up and towering above her, with him shooting her a quick proud arresting look as he clung to its back, saddle gripped tight to stay ahorse, and then the great hooves struck earth and they were off down the hill at a thundering gallop with dust and scraps of grass floating down in their wake.
she scrambled to her feet again, running a few steps after them, and realized with a shock that he had pulled one foot up onto the saddle in an awkward swayingcrouch, barely half-balanced on the verge of tumbling off, synchronizing his own body as best he could to the bunching and stretching of his mount's back as if about to...
she stopped, hands flying to cover her mouth as she realized his intentions, and in the same moment he was up, feet braced on the saddle and shoulders thrown back, all lithe muscles and grace with the reins in one hand and his face lifted to the sun in a triumphant grin.
a brief gust of wind ruffled her hair and tossed her skirt helter-skelter around her legs as she stood watching from the top of the slope; and then she saw him haul the reins to one side, wheeling his steed around in a wide arc until they thundered back up to her in a rush of hooves and dust and glossy dark horse and him, braced for the slowdown with his hair whipping around his face like autumn leaves in a wind. he dropped back into the saddle with the reins pulled tight as his horse splayed its long limbs and skidded to a stop.
she flung her arms up to clutch at his tunic, pulling at his sleeve. 'oh, you reckless fool!' she admonished him, in just the right breathless tones of admiration and delight and dismay--how long had he practiced that, had it been all to show her?--and he obligingly slid from the horse's back, rolling down into the grass to sprawl at her feet. laughing, she tumbled after him, in among the waving stems to face him with her cheek pillowed in the curve of her hand. he had flung out his arms wide as if to embrace the sky; his breathing was still ragged and shallow.
puzzled, the horse stretched its neck down to whuffle at their hair with curious lips. he gently pushed its nose away, and it sneezed and ambled off to graze. for a long time they lay with the sun warm on their skin, and watched the clouds pass overhead, and listened as their breathing rose and fell together, his gradually slowing to match hers. silence settled around them with the last of the dust, comfortable and light.
thoughtfully, she plucked a long strand of grass, turning it over in her fingers. reaching across the space between them, she touched his sandaled foot with it, lightly, running it along the callused arch and up to brush his toes. he propped himself up on his elbows to give her a bemused look. she dimpled back at him, loving the smell of the damp earth rising around them and green growing things under her hands and the moist crunching sounds of his horse cropping the grass nearby, new sprouts and the sky and him.
'how do you love me?'
he tossed his head back slightly at that question, for all the world like his own horse startling. it was easy to surprise him--neither of them had been in love before--and she enjoyed it, the widening of his pale eyes, the blush that brightened his cheeks.
'how should i?' he asked at last, bewildered but hoping to please despite all.
she turned the question in her mind, absently tying the stem of grass into a knot, then another. 'with your heart,' she said, slowly piecing the words together as she spoke. 'make a...a place for me there, where i can stay.' there was more to it than that, she was sure, and thought again before continuing. 'with your mind. think of me always.' she pondered another moment. 'with your hands.'
he blushed hotly at that, turning his face away, and she laughed helplessly among the new-opened wildflowers.
'not like that,' she said. 'love me with all that they do. if i am in every pull of your bow, then i will never leave you.'
looking up from the tangled grass stem she held, she saw that warmth had crept back into his eyes. he rolled onto his stomach, propping his chin on his arms to face her. flowers and last year's brown bracken rose around them, closing out all except the sky. somewhere nearby, she heard his horse, softly breathing.
'i should hate to leave you,' she whispered, half teasing.
'i will never give you cause,' he whispered back, fervent and dear. drawing up a hand between them, he counted off on his fingers. 'my heart, my mind, and my hands? all of them yours.' he paused, and bit his lip at a sudden thought. '...and what of my soul?'
her own eyes widened in surprise, and then she laughed, flicking her fingers at him to dismiss the joke.
'that is blasphemy,' she said, amused in spite of it. 'keep your soul to yourself, and my blessing on it, or Lord Emon will die of shock at the both of us.'
he chuckled outright at that, resting his cheek on his arm. his hair had gotten longer lately, trailing into his eyes so that he had to brush it aside with one hand to gaze at her.
the flax was coming into season; she decided she would have to keep a little back from her next gathering and weave him something, to hold his growing locks back out of the way. blue, she thought, for luck, and to match his eyes; a warrior ought to wear as much woad as he could. gazing back at him now, she imagined his pleasure at the small gift, and how he might smile over it before he put it on.
he had been solemn all the time she had known him, quiet and meditative, a solitary island among the other boisterous young hunters; but he would smile for his horse, and for her; and that was a comfort to know.