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Heart Of Stone by shuldham [Reviews - 22]


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Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. In other words, I donít own J.K.R.ís characters. Please donít sue me; Iím not worth it anyway. Once Iím done, Iíll buy them dinner, several good bottles of wine and put them back where I found them.


AN: It has been a while since I posted anything, but I have a few stories just waiting to be polished up and submitted to the list. Should any comma wranglers be in need of employment, then they can be assured of payment in virtual chocolate. Yes that was a shameless plee for a beta. I send a large thank you to my previous beta, good luck with your future endeavours. This short is told from an unusual perspective, hence the tone of the piece.




Heart Of Stone


ĎHeart of stoneí was an epithet that had often been hurled at the man, the venom evident in the accuser's tone. In that they had been well matched, for the ancient stones recognised in the other's touch the essential truth of his being: for his was a heart of stone. Like the granite, like the bones of the earth and of the very castle itself, he was strong and resolute. With that recognition had come the second truth, as the castle remembered how it had once been the blood of the world, flowing white hot and furious to build new mountains. Those same mountains were now its bones and it sensed in the boy the same potential for white hot passion. As soon as the awkward, pale boy had laid his hand upon them, the stones had sung with the touch of a kindred spirit. It marked him as one of the special ones, whose presence resonated with it so much more than with the others of his kind.

Alien and strange, but sentient with the song of the earthís magic, the castleís song had continued for the child even as he had altered and darkened, until the boyís touch had vanished. Almost an instant it had seemed for the ancient stones, but they felt the loss. Then, abruptly the boy had returned a man. He was changed, bent with a sorrow that could have eroded mountains, but he also burned with the molten heat of a promise that branded his soul. It was forged into a keen weapon to be used against the dark one, the earth ripper, the song killer.

Almost the pale manís song had ended, his life blood running between crumbling boards to soak into the earth and onto the stone beneath. Almost it had ended, but not quite, and slowly he had grown strong again. Strong, but not whole, for sorrow still maimed his song, and the rain that fell upon the castle was as its tears for his pain.


***


The girl was very different to the pale man. If he was like its bones, she was like its veins, like the quartz that darted through the stones. Shining and bright, her touch was searching and eager, like joy, like sunlight and the castleís song had danced with hers as she grew.

But, like the man, her song too was made dissonant by the earth ripper, as were so many of the songs of the children of the earth. Absurdly young, her song barely even begun to the castleís mind, yet she had the strength and courage to stand with her two friends. Together they faced such a darkness that would have swallowed the world and crushed it to dust. Their trilogy resonated with the ancient stones, their joys were its joys and their pain its pain.

However none of them escaped unscathed. The thin, silvery scar of the slicing hex lay jagged across her chest, and the memory of bone-searing pain by knife and curse marked her song, even as the castleís itself had been marked. Its bones had been hurled apart by the corruption of the darkness, until her friend, the lightning child, had ended it at its seeming moment of triumph.

Slowly the castle had healed, until once again its song flowed as it should and danced with hers again. Too soon, though, her touch had gone, as was the way with her kind. But the memory of the dance remained in its stones, as did all the songs of those who resonated with the castle. Then, one day the familiar sunlight-touch had returned, and the castle had mixed its song with hers again.


***


The dark man and the sunlight woman enriched both its and each other's song. Hesitantly the manís song had, at last, become whole again. Then it became as bright as that of the womanís, as their songs had flowed together and flared into a new and joyful melody. The castle reflected their happiness, and all the children who were entrusted to its keeping felt the blessing, for as long as their song continued.


***


A small hand reached out and rested upon its stones, and once again the ancient castle resonated with the familiar touch of the legacy of their union. How many times this had happened, since their living touch had faded, was irrelevant to its geological timescale. It only knew that it recognised the familiar touch and welcomed it as an old friend.

Reaching out, it sent the familiar message. Along its roots of bedrock, along the veins of quartz, through the bones of the earth and between the roots of trees the song danced, until it reached its destination. And, if it could have been given voice it would have said, ĎBe content, another of yours has come, and I will keep her in my protection.í

Above the rippling grass and the chipped and weathered marker stone, the ancient oak stood guardian. The old heartwood of the tree felt suddenly young and new, and, high above, the blackbird perched in its protective branches began its sweet, liquid song of joy.

Fin.


Heart Of Stone by shuldham [Reviews - 22]


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