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Endings and Closures: Part 3 - Monument by Peladon



It seemed wrong, somehow. Felt wrong. The sky wasn’t grey - and it should have been. The wind was warm, not cold, and the light that filtered through the trees had the rich, honey tone of easy living, not the starved and watered quality of a failing sun. 

All so very wrong, and so very different to that first ill-fated, return to Gauda Prime. 

So different to the last time she had sat in this clearing, sixteen years ago; then it had been winter. Of course there had been no monument to sit by, no stone, no elaborate fence, nothing but the clearing and a boulder to mark the spot. They hadn’t even dared to carve a name upon that rock. Not then.

With a sigh, she leaned forward and brushed back a stray wisp of yellow hair behind her ear, the movement of her hand sending the butterfly that had been circling her head careering away. It came to rest on the pillar of stone in front of her, beating its wings as if in affront before settling down to warm itself in a slanting ray of light; spreading out the blues and greens and reds of lace patterned wings against the warm, smooth, surface with an unheard sigh of delight. She smiled as she watched it settle, understanding the irony of the sight in this place, relishing it even as the muscles of her throat unexpectedly tightened and the colours washed together in the misting of her eyes. 

Soft footfalls behind her told her that she was no longer alone, and Soolin swallowed hard and blinked the world back into focus before she was found out. She didn’t turn her head when a gentle rustle told her that someone had sat beside her, nor did she move when a warm hand came to rest on her wrist. Instead she closed her eyes and let her mind drift as the sun warmed her face and dried the tears still hiding amongst her lashes. The breeze stirred her hair and the butterfly’s wings, but neither paid it any attention. Time slid by, and the air grew heavier with scent of damp grass and unseen flowers as the warmth reached deeper into the surrounding trees. The stone in front of her seemed to glow in the light, but she just sat lost in the shadows of the past and the might have beens that never were.

“Would he have approved of me, do you think?” The words were calmly spoken, just a hint of wistfulness and hesitancy mixed with the curiosity.

Soolin smiled and patted the hand on her wrist, staring silently at the warming stone as she wondered how to reply.

“I mean, would he have liked me?” The dispassionate calm was being maintained, but now the uncertainty was more obvious.

She turned towards her daughter and smiled reassurance. After all, what could she say? The truth? I don’t know? As much as he approved of anyone. Or liked anyone. Impossible. She raised her hand and brushed a stray strand of the dark red hair back from the delicate cheek. Sixteen was too young for such subtleties, for such uncertainties. God knew, sixteen had enough uncertainty of its own. But she deserved an answer, and a better one than the standard, Of course he would.

Soolin drew a deep breath but was beaten to a reply.

“Vila says that he would - but then he would say that, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t want to upset me. Blake says so too, but then Blake feels guilty about me, doesn’t he? So he wouldn’t want to upset me, either.”

There was something else now in the voice, something that told Soolin that the calm was costing an effort, and she wondered who had been talking out of turn. Anger shook her; if she ever found out who had done so, they just might learn that she hadn’t allowed ten years of respectability to blunt her skill with a gun.

The impossibly beautiful face was turned towards her and the hand on her wrist tightened. “So what do you think?” There was anxiety in the dark eyes that met hers for a moment before skipping away toward where the butterfly still sunned itself.

Soolin drew another deep breath and let her gaze drift over the face beside her, suddenly wondering if she herself had ever been so young, so vulnerable. She forced down the pain that thought brought and turned to join her daughter in staring at the colours of the butterfly. As if aware of their scruntiny, the insect stirred, rippling wings glorious and iridescent in the glowing mid morning light. Then with a sudden surge of energy it forsook the warmth of the stone, flitted elegantly across the wind, and alighted on the hand still holding her wrist. The dark velvet head seemed to look from one to another.

Words arrived from nowhere and Soolin spoke without thinking:
“He would have adored you. Whatever you were, whatever you did, he would have accepted. Just being you would have been enough. You’d have fought like cat and dog of course, you're much too like him for it ever to have been comfortable. There would have been tears enough to fill a sea, but he would have schemed for you, lied for you, fought for you, killed for you if need be; and there would never have been any regrets, not on his side.”
Soolin found that she was smiling. “No one would ever have been good enough for you, and I’d have pitied any partner you wanted to take. But he would never have let you down if it was in his power not to. He would have hurt you in a hundred ways, but never because he meant to, and when it came to it he would have always have been there for you.”

“But would he have loved me?” The words were cool enough, but the hand on her arm had tightened, setting the butterfly fluttering its wings in sudden agitation. Then it settled again, dark legs spread across the touching hands.

Soolin made a mental note to have a word with a certain pilot - or better still, his wife. “Oh yes, I think so. In fact I’m sure of it.”

“Really?” there was hope in the suddenly childish voice.

“Yes, really. A lot of people didn’t understand him, but I did and I’m sure. If he had had the chance to know you, then you would never have had cause to doubt it.” She raised her eyes to meet her daughter's, her heart turning over as she saw the tears hovering there. “He didn’t choose to die here; he didn’t choose to leave you. I’m sure he would have done anything to stay if he had been given the choice, but he wasn’t. It isn’t fair but that’s how it is. If he could have done it differently, then I’m sure that he would have done so.”

“I wish he’d known about me.” The pain was raw in the childlike voice. “It’s not fair, why was he the only one to die? He hadn't betrayed anyone, so why did he have to die?”

Soolin looked back towards the memorial stone and shook her head slightly. “I don’t know. It was all a misunderstanding that got out of hand, but as for why...” She shrugged. “Maybe it was his time, maybe...” she shrugged again, unable to go on; knowing that one day she would have to, but not willing to consider that time now.

“Not everything has an answer, at least not one we can understand. But he would have loved you, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.” Soolin smiled again. “And who knows, maybe he does know about you, somewhere, somehow. The universe is a strange place and more goes on in it than we ever understand. Maybe he sees you, watches you from somewhere.”

“Watches over me? That’s what Vila says.”

“Vila is not always a fool.” 

Soolin turned her fingers to grasp the ones still on her sleeve and the butterfly spread it wings and took flight. For a moment it rested lightly on the stone column, beating its wings in the morning sun. Then almost reluctantly it rose again and drifted across the breeze towards the trees. She watched it go, narrowing her eyes against the light until the shadows claimed it. Then she turned and taking her daughter's hand rose to her feet and spoke into the shimmering air.

“Time to go, Vila.”

They disappeared in a halo of light.

On the far side of the clearing the butterfly took wing and circled the trees as the park wardens opened the gates and the sightseers returned. Then it found the current it was seeking and rode it up and away towards the sky.


Read on:
Endings and Closures Part 1: Many a Slip
Endings and Closures Part 2: The Visitor

All original fan fiction hosted on Horizon is copyright to the individual authors. No attempt is being made to supersede any copyright held by the estate of Terry Nation, the BBC, B7 Media, Big Finish or any other licensees or holders of copyright on Blake's 7 material.


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