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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쉘리 I whip my hair like Bang Bang: gen - life is beautiful[info]sdk on February 9th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
Oh what a beautiful companion piece to that image. That's just lovely!
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Lilith: merlin-arthur[info]lilithilien on February 9th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, darling! Every time I see that picture, it takes my breath away. (Which is quite inconvenient now that it's my laptop background.) And Colin just had to be there somewhere. *nods*
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[info]sarcastic_jo on February 9th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)

For starters, the angel candles + BJ picture is just ... guh-worthy. Honestly, the boy should stay in candle light. In fact, all electrical lights should be removed in the UK and France and fire light replace 'em.

But then the piece itself is so ... sensual in how it combines Colin's memories and what has to be some ... peace (comfort? calm?) ... in the rote rituals (like the sign of the cross) even tho he's not practicing and watching BJ find both comfort and awash in the light of the candles. *mrphs lots*

Lovely job as ever. I'm so glad Bradley insisted on talking to you again. Can I establish a speed dial for him so he keeps calling?
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Lilith: merlin-arthur2[info]lilithilien on February 10th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
Thank you! I love the expression on his face, like he really is finding something there, and I'm glad you think I caught that here. And that picture was crying out for Colin to join in.

In fact, all electrical lights should be removed in the UK and France and fire light replace 'em.

Absolutely! And only because it'd be more historically accurate, of course. No other reason not because his skin just glows and makes him look like a god or anything.

I don't know how much Bradley will keep talking to me -- I thought we were done after the first one, but apparently not. But I've decided it's useless to resist. He will have his way!
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lilian_cho: Merlin/Arthur AU[info]lilian_cho on March 4th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Aww Bradley <3
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Lilith: merlin-rps you just can't make up[info]lilithilien on March 4th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
He so needs cuddling. *sends Colin*
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(Anonymous) on March 11th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
I am very belatedly coming back to tell you how very much I liked this fic. I am not at all religious, but have a couple of times lit a candle in a church just as you describe so well here, and I found it comforting. I love how you wrote this. I especially liked that you weren't at all specific about exactly WHY Bradley needs to do this - that was better left unsaid. Good work! :-D
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(Anonymous) on January 4th, 2010 10:39 am (UTC)
I absoluteky love this - speaking as someone who is an atheist, and has lit two candles in a cathedral, much like this, i say you perfectly apture the calm and reverence in that situation. Whether you believe or not, the amount that it helps to have done that, and know that even after you walk out of the doors, that candle will still be there, burning fiercely, even though it's small, in a little bank of sorrow and hope and light, is unbeleivable in itself. It'd a beautiful, beautiful fic, and I thank you overwhemingly for writing it.
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