In the Ground
What Connor knew about growing plants could be summed up in one sentence: they went in the dirt and they needed water. Luna promised to talk to that herb professor guy, Neville, and have him come oversee the planting of the Lunar Roses but Connor had never really known patience. He was contemplating the perfect spot when a little white light bounced off his shoulder once, twice, third time’s a charm and he turned to swat at it.
“Finite incantem,” a British voice said and the little light stopped its persistent badgering and faded. “Sorry about that. No one knew where you were and Luna was afraid you’d try to plant the roses and they’re quite finicky. Honestly, no one’s ever gotten them to grow outside of the Magical Preserve.”
Connor nodded even though he heard the doubt in the man’s voice. “This is the Council,” he said simply.
Privately, he thought the others had probably been planting them for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time of day. These were to be a tribute, planted at midnight, and Connor didn’t doubt that they were going to flourish.
“Of course,” Neville said, stepping closer.
Connor’s keen eyesight could pick out the pattern on his sweater vest, see the curl in his short hair, and he was pretty sure this was Cordelia’s Neville, the one that had her on the run.
“Is this the place that you’ve chosen?” Neville asked, startling him out of his reverie.
“One of them,” he said, nodding.
Willow probably wouldn’t be happy that he was co-opting part of her garden but the delicate looking yet sturdy trellis was perfect for supporting the roses if they decided to climb.
“You’re separating them?” Neville asked, surprised.
“Yeah,” Connor said, shrugging but giving no other details.
He had an explanation; he just didn’t think someone like Neville would understand. One was for Fred, whose soul Willow was still trying to piece back together so it could be laid to rest. It was a memorial for her, since Illyria was occupying her body and a hope that the pieces that hadn’t come home would find their way.
The other was for his mother Darla. He believed that she’d gained her redemption and deserved her own light in the dark. He just didn’t think Fred would appreciate being ‘buried’ next to her. Darla’s spot was along the backside of the property, an intricately scrolled wrought iron fence keeping the forest at bay. It was a little weird and a little hidden whereas Fred’s was in a neat, happy, well-tended garden. They were the perfect spots, they just didn’t happen to be together.
“I dug the holes,” Connor said, pointing at Fred’s spot. “They’re the same depth but I can make them deeper if you think I need to.”
Neville carefully inspected the hole, settling the rose into place and picking up a trowel as he said, “It’s perfect.”
Connor checked his watch and said, “Not yet,” as Neville scooped up some dirt. Neville looked up at him, surprised, and he looked up at the moon, clinking the bottles in his pocket. Seconds ticked by until it was finally 11:58 and he said, “Now.”
He stepped into the garden, checking to make sure he had the right bottle, then gently poured the silvery liquid around the base where Neville filled in the dirt, carefully pressing it in. Then, taking Willow’s advice, he pressed his thumb into a large thorn, pulling back enough to allow blood to slide down the stem. There was a soft glow from the rose when the blood slid into the silvery liquid before it faded.
Connor smiled at Neville’s quiet gasp, pulling him to his feet as he said, “Come on. We have to plant the other one.”
It was a quick walk, Neville glancing his way frequently. They swiftly repeated the process when they reached Darla’s spot. The rose glowed just seconds before midnight, fading out as Connor sighed in relief.
“How did you know?” Neville asked as they walked back towards the building.
“Magic, in my experience, responds well to three things: blood, sex, and emotion,” Connor said and watched as Neville blushed in the weak light, looking away to hide his grin. “This isn’t something that sex really needed to be a part of but memory, standing in for emotion, and blood… Those were important.”
“What kind of memories?” Neville asked eagerly.
Connor took a deep breath and turned, pointing them out as he said, “That one’s for Darla, my mother. I only have a couple of memories of her and they aren’t of the best circumstances, so I had to ask a few others to help with that. And that’s Fred’s and everybody
had good memories of her. They’re tributes because we don’t have bodies to bury for either of them.”
“I see,” Neville said gravely and Connor was surprised to realize that he believed that he did. “If I might ask, how did you come up with the idea of using memories?”
Connor grinned. “I talked it out with Luna. Lunar Roses were something her mother studied before her death.”
Neville’s demeanor both softened and brightened. “Yes, that sounds like Luna. She’s quite clever.”
“Once you get used to her,” Connor said agreeably.