09 February 2009 @ 02:58 pm
Title: Vigil
Author: [info]lilithilien
Fandom/Characters: Merlin, Bradley/Colin
Word Count/Rating: ~500 words/Gen
Summary: Colin isn't a sorcerer. He has no power, nothing to offer except the rituals of his youth.
Disclaimer: This is complete fiction; I know nothing about these characters' real lives, religious beliefs, sexual preference, nada.
A/N: When this thing of beauty sank its razor-sharp teeth into my neck and refused to let go, I couldn't rest until I'd written it. (Literally. What is it with Bradley!muse demanding I write RPF in the wee hours of the night?) If I had any graphics-fu I'd have photoshopped Colin watching in the background; lacking that, I had to do it with words instead. Thanks, as ever, go to [info]sarcastic_jo for beta, suggestions, and Catholic consult. (Posted at MerlinRPF.)

The nave is bathed in shadows, the evening sun already dipping below the windowsill. A few last streams of light manage to sneak through the stained panes just as Colin follows Bradley through the door.

Colin's not been inside a church for ages—save for Christmas Mass with the family, of course, but that hardly counts. That's an obligation, a way to reassure them that even though he's living abroad he's still the same person he used to be. But on his own volition? No way.

Still, it's in his blood. Automatically he reaches for the font; fingertips wet, he signs a slapdash cross without thinking. His ears embrace the mumbled prayers of the hunched supplicants. They're in a different tongue but their familiar cadence is etched in his bones; instinctively his thumb rolls an imaginary bead across his fingers.

But it's not prayers or redemption he's seeking now, it's not reassurance that he needs to give his family. He's here for Bradley—Bradley, who's not religious at all, who looked uncertain for the first time that Colin can remember as he asked, "You're sure they won't mind?"

"They won't mind," he insisted. "Not if you're doing it for the right reasons."

Colin stands vigil now as Bradley approaches the bright bank of candles. Out of each flickering votive shines the memory of someone loved and lost; with dancing golden lights they banish the darkness of forgetting. Possessed with a solemnity that Colin hardly recognises, Bradley lights his own candle, bows his head, and speaks a soundless goodbye.

Blanketed in shadow, Colin thinks about the power that his character has over life and death. He's talked for hours with Johnny about Merlin's struggle to contain that power and respect an eternal equilibrium. He's never before understood just how hard that would be. If he had power over life and death right now, if he had any way to ease Bradley's pain, he'd do it in a second. He wouldn't have to think twice.

But Colin isn't a sorcerer. He has no power, nothing to offer except the rituals of his youth, nothing to pray for except the hope that this person who means more to him than any gods or spirits ever could will find comfort in something he doesn't even believe himself. It's a long-shot, he knows. Can a bit of perfumed paraffin and a slender flame really keep a memory alive?

It just might, if it's this one memory that promises to be with Colin forever. Kissed with dancing lights, Bradley's skin seems to glow incandescent, and Colin watches, utterly transfixed, as slowly peace steals across his face. Time seems to still, measured only in long breaths of incensed air. But when Bradley finally turns back to Colin he smiles, and the sadness that's haunted him seems to smooth, just a bit.

"Thanks," he says quietly. "I think that helped." Colin shakes his head, knowing he's done nothing. But he squeezes Bradley's hand anyway and leads him from the church.

~~~ The End ~~~

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