Turning the Wheel
All the usual disclaimers
PG for slash, with implications
challenge: write S/Mc set in a different time
The waning moon had set behind the fairy fort. Len
coming in, late, his sack of herbs full with
healing plants that had to be gathered properly. He
a man on his threshold at this hour,
much less a wounded one.
He dropped to one knee beside the visitor, and
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
features as well. The Fair Folk were seldom seen
these days, not since the Christian priests had built
monastery over the sacred well in the next glen.
Len worked, wondering what accident his patient had
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.
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.
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.
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
an apple. When Len checked beneath the bandage, the
wound was gone. His salves were not that powerful.
are healed. You may return home at sunset.”
The Old One shook his head. “There is no home for me.
am outcast from my people now. I chose the mortal
world over my father’s eternal realm. They attempted
me for this treason.
”They nearly succeeded. It took all I could do to
bring you back. I’m Len Herb,
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.
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
Tied to the Wheel of the year, they danced
its annual circle. Until Samhain.
On the night before, Spock was restless.
leaving his bed, leaving the hut. He stretched out his
arms to the moon and sang to her. It did not help.
could feel the madness rising in him, battle-lust that
could be only be quelled on the morrow.
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
“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
“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
Startled by the question, Len snapped, “I live alone
because I gave my wife nothing save twisted
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
year dies. It fits the untimely burning. In May, a
coupling with a woman brings life as the sun regains
own. Together, we will produce as much life as
this dead season.”
Len knew a proposition when he heard one,
how poetically phrased. He looked at the aquiline
profile of the Old One, etched in silver. He had saved
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
let the Old One guide him to the springy
turf, and they lay together as the Dead Season saw
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,
started going abroad in search of his livelihood.
Spock, too, took an interest in the growing things
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
crown himself and his lover before a long night under
Ostara came. The church bells in the next
the Christians to worship and made Spock cover his
ears in a miserable ball of agony. The day passed
misery, and only sunset brought relief. For a
Fear and fire raged in the night. Len saw the people
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
of chickens. Spock lay similarly bound, not far
from him. The Old One was awake and watching
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
were divided among the men on the raid. The blond
captain, as tall as Len and Spock, with the sharp
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
word low for one person but managing to reach the
Len tensed as he sorted herbs. Spock would
tolerate the Orkney captain’s touch. The Old One
seemed not to have heard, and continued counting coins
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
not. He ran a possessive hand down Spock’s face, and
was tossed back into the small room he shared
with Len by two of Kirk’s house-carls. He had not been
“Are you all right?” Len checked him over as best he
could in the darkness.
that it were Beltaine! It would make things much
“He was not wise. No mortal lays a hand on me without
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.
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.
with me, y’argr boys,” the steersman’s lantern
split the dark of the slaves’ room, and revealed
“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
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.
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
behind them. Spock sang to the spring stars as the
great dog of the Hunter hung low in the west. They
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.
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