Turning the Wheel

Turning the Wheel
by Angel

All the usual disclaimers
PG for slash, with implications

My challenge: write S/Mc set in a different time

The waning moon had set behind the fairy fort. Len
was coming in, late, his sack of herbs full with
healing plants that had to be gathered properly. He
wasn’t expecting a man on his threshold at this hour,
much less a wounded one.

He dropped to one knee beside the visitor, and
assessed the wounds. A lance thrust had entered the
man’s shoulder. Quick work with poultices and cloth
stopped the bleeding, and brought the man around.

It was then Len noticed the long dark hair covered
ears that rose to a point. It explained the sharp
features as well. The Fair Folk were seldom seen
these days, not since the Christian priests had built
a monastery over the sacred well in the next glen.
Len worked, wondering what accident his patient had

Once he was sure the Old One would not die, Len moved
him indoors before the sun could catch them. He
watched over his patient as he worked with the plants,
setting some to dry, chopping some and adding others
to certain of the numerous pots that bubbled on his
hearth. They had to be taken care of before sunrise
or the virtue would be gone.

He watched the Old One sleep. It was real sleep, not
the death sleep that some gravely wounded ones slid
into just before dying.

Tired from his night’s exertions, Len went to his own
bed and slept late into the day. He woke well after
noon and spent the day working with the medicines he
had collected. The Old One did not wake at sunset,
nor at the next dawning.

Len watched him, wondering how he could sleep so long.
He knew nothing of the Fair Folk, but the body had
seemed human enough when he dressed the wound. He
changed the bandages twice a day, amazed at how fast
the wound was healing.

On the second day, the Old One woke. Len was at his
side with a cup of water, and then offered him some
bread and pottage. The Old One accepted both without
a word and returned to his sleep.

The old One woke on the fourth day. He took water and
an apple. When Len checked beneath the bandage, the
wound was gone. His salves were not that powerful.

“You are healed. You may return home at sunset.”

The Old One shook his head. “There is no home for me.
I am outcast from my people now. I chose the mortal
world over my father’s eternal realm. They attempted
to slay me for this treason.

”They nearly succeeded. It took all I could do to
bring you back. I’m Len Herb,
of the McCoys of Wheathill.”

The Old One said his name, in the lilting language of
his people which was nowhere near the Gaelic Len

“Your name is Spock?” Len incorporated all the sounds
he could pick out of the jumble.

The Old One raised an eyebrow. “It will suffice.”

“You can stay here until you find a place of your own.
There’s more than enough room.” The healer gestured
at his hut, almost double the size a family would
have, with real beds instead of pallets.

“Thank you.”

The tenor of life changed little in the hut. Len did
his herb collections and treated the sick of County
Fermaugh. Spock merely was. He observed, he walked, he
helped gather herbs. But mostly he just existed. Only
once had Len found him singing to the stars as the
Good People always did.

Summer wore on, and rumors of sea-wolves penetrated
even as far inland as Wheathill. Len endured, and went
about his life. The raiders would come, or not. If
they did, all his labor was vain. If they did not, he
must have an adequate store of food for winter.

Summer waned. Lugh passed. Len continued. Spock
continued. Tied to the Wheel of the year, they danced
its annual circle. Until Samhain.

On the night before, Spock was restless. He wandered,
leaving his bed, leaving the hut. He stretched out his
arms to the moon and sang to her. It did not help. He
could feel the madness rising in him, battle-lust that
could be only be quelled on the morrow.

Spock walked under the stars, watching the old year
die. The burning in his blood was too early, too soon.
It should not have come until Beltaine, but the
wounding and the casting out had changed him. He had
heard of such things before. He sat under the lone oak
tree, what humans called a “fairy fort” and watched
the stars through its bare branches. The herbman found
him there.

“I was worried. You didn’t come home.” He drew closer
and saw, even in the starlight, the fever that burned
within the Old One.

“The May Madness has come upon me, and far too early,
my friend.”

“Aye,” was all Len said as he sat down beside his
guest. Friends. They were friends now. He had hoped it
was the case, but the Old One spoke little.

“Are you consecrated to any of your gods? Is that why
you live alone?” Spock asked, hoping that the human
would provide him with the solution to his burning.

Startled by the question, Len snapped, “I live alone
because I gave my wife nothing save twisted things
that died months before they were born. She left me
for the miller.”

“I am sorry. I did not mean to pry.” Spock looked at
him. “The Madness is out of season. No woman of my
people would take me even if I were not outcast. Help


“Stay with me tonight, here, under the stars as the
year dies. It fits the untimely burning. In May, a
coupling with a woman brings life as the sun regains
its own. Together, we will produce as much life as
this dead season.”

Len knew a proposition when he heard one, no matter
how poetically phrased. He looked at the aquiline
profile of the Old One, etched in silver. He had saved
this man’s life. He could not let his friend and
companion die now.

“How?” he repeated, not knowing the old Roman ways,
having only heard rumors.

Spock stood and removed his clothing and Len followed
suit. He let the Old One guide him to the springy
turf, and they lay together as the Dead Season saw
itself in.

The winter passed with cold and snow, and bitter

Len did not venture out. He stayed indoors, brewing
his potions and listening to Spock’s stories. They
slept in the same bed, and enjoyed each other as the
mood took them. The Madness did not recur.

In March, as the days grew longer toward the equinox,
and the frost loosed its hold on the ground, Len
started going abroad in search of his livelihood.

Spock, too, took an interest in the growing things
and cleared a small patch to tend. The equinox came
and went, and spring was truly here.

Len began to look forward to May, and the attendant
Madness. He found a patch of small flowers and
carefully nurtured them. At Beltaine, he planned to
crown himself and his lover before a long night under
the stars.

Ostara came. The church bells in the next glen called
the Christians to worship and made Spock cover his
ears in a miserable ball of agony. The day passed
in misery, and only sunset brought relief. For a

Fear and fire raged in the night. Len saw the people
of his village cut down, houses torched and the gleam
of fire on the helmets of the invaders. A clout on
the head took him and he knew nothing more.

Len awoke, wet and cold, bound in the bottom of a
longship. He could see a few others, and the Sea
Wolves strode among them with the same carelessness
with which they stepped over the bags of grain and
boxes of chickens. Spock lay similarly bound, not far
from him. The Old One was awake and watching

A miserable cold rain started up, and drenched
everyone. It lasted two days, until they saw the
outer islands of the Hebridies. The Norse beached
the boat, and made the prisoners carry the looted good
to their village. In the community house, the spoils
were divided among the men on the raid. The blond
captain, as tall as Len and Spock, with the sharp
features of Norway unblunted by living among Celts,
claimed his share, and took his first pick of the
slaves. Young Deirdre, her widow-weeds now tattered
and foul, Spock, and Len the herbman were his. The
others were to be auctioned to pay for repairs to the
ships and the signal horn.

“Tonight,” Kirk said in the way he had of pitching the
word low for one person but managing to reach the
entire room.

Len tensed as he sorted herbs. Spock would never
tolerate the Orkney captain’s touch. The Old One
seemed not to have heard, and continued counting coins
into stacks and bags.

“Ten pounds silver pennies,” he said, tying the sack.
“You would be wise not to touch me.”

Kirk laughed. No slave, not even one as exotic and
strange as this told him what was wise and what was
not. He ran a possessive hand down Spock’s face, and
repeated “Tonight.”

Spock was tossed back into the small room he shared
with Len by two of Kirk’s house-carls. He had not been
beaten, nor harmed.

“Are you all right?” Len checked him over as best he
could in the darkness.

“Ah that it were Beltaine! It would make things much
“He was not wise. No mortal lays a hand on me without
my consent. You know that.”

“Spock, what did you do him?”

“He sleeps. He will awaken at dawn. Should he try
again, I will make him sleep again. Maybe for two days
next time.” He wrapped Len in his arms. “You are
always wise. Touch me as it pleases you.”

”As it pleases us both,” Len corrected. He lay in
Spock’s arms for a time, and stroked a gentle hand
across his lover’s pointed ears.

“Come with me, y’argr boys,” the steersman’s lantern
split the dark of the slaves’ room, and revealed them.
“I dinna know what ye’ve done to my captain, but yer
witches both. I’ll not have ye under his roof a moment

Len and Spock stirred and stood.

“Quickly! We must make it look as if ye’ve escaped and
without my help.”

The burly steersman hastened them through the sleeping
house and village and down to the water’s edge.

“Your captain will sleep until dawn,” Spock told him.

“Get yerselves in that coracle and get gone. Tupping
with the Old Ones never brought any man good fortune,
whether the fay was woman or man. I won’t have you
jinxing us a moment more.”

They put to sea, and watched the lantern grow fainter
behind them. Spock sang to the spring stars as the
great dog of the Hunter hung low in the west. They
followed the brightest star in the sky, what the
Romans had called the Dog Star, until the sun rose.
Keeping the sun behind them through the morning, they

It was fifty Roman Leagues from the Outer Hebrides to
Donegl Bay where the river would take them into
Wheathill. They made it in two days with the current.

Exhausted, starving and bitterly thirsty, Len decided
his hut had never looked better, even if the raiders
had burnt the thatched roof.

It would be a long summer, but they would rebuild. As
the Beltaine stars rose overhead, he found the patch
of flowers had been neither trampled nor burnt.

Under the growing moon, he crowned his fairy lover and
together they pledged themselves to the new life of
the County.