Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine. All characters belong to their respective owners.
Author’s note: (BTVS/Firefly –Giles/River – platonic pairing) 500 word mood piece derived from a poem by R.S. Thomas
Boughs of Innocence
Resting under the boughs of the old tree, he cleans his glasses out of comfort. He cannot help but be contemplative, wheather it is the liquor or the spring breeze he cares not. The fact is: he’s grown old. The simple truth of this no longer astonishes him. He hadn’t the time to think on it after Sunnydale. There had been so much that needed doing at the beginning; afterwards they had kept up unable to function differently. Immersed in their work, they had forgotten about the passage of time and the marks it inevitably left. Odd that he realizes this as he finds himself hundreds of years in the future, looking for a book that will be lost but isn’t yet in his time, surrounded by people who dress and celebrate in a fashion his ancestors would have done a hundred years before his birth.
There’s a young girl being twirled around the dance floor a look of complete rapture on her delicate face. In her graceful abandon is a memory of his youth.
He watches her dance, this bright creature seemingly made of nostalgia and wind.
She twirls in front of him, a flush on her face, skirts flying high, caught in the moment. The bonfire adds an iridescent glow to her skin. Sets her dark hair alight and she becomes a blur of limbs. Flame-bright and incredibly alive.
The desire to join in awakes in him. He feels his blood begin to remember what it had been like to carelessly dance until you could not feel your feet. To drink too much and laugh until your throat was sore. To exist solely for the moment.
The dancers fly by him again and someone pulls his hand and he is drawn into the madness of the swirling masses. Somehow he ends up next to the girl. The fragile warmth of her hand is tender. She flashes him a mesmerizing smile and then they are moving faster than he had imagined his tired old bones to be capable of doing.
Grinning blithely at him she mutters something in Chinese.
Over the cacophony of music, stomping feet and clinking glasses he can only make out something about a river.
He is about to ask her to repeat herself, but the dance ends and she curtsies him, dark hair falling over her face like a silken waterfall.
One strand strays and whips against his face and he catches the fragrance of her. It’s the smell of the wind, of the night that is growing ever darker and the fire growing ever taller and warmer. It’s the smell of this moment, fleeting and finite.
Unable to resist the magnetic pull of the music, she flits away into another dance. He cannot help smiling as he watches her fade into the crowd.
Heading for the comfort of another drink he stores the beauty if this moment in his memory, to be taken out in later years, a perfect moment in an imperfect world.
She is young. Have I the right
Even to name her? Child,
It is not love I offer
Your quick limbs, your eyes;
Only the barren homage
Of an old man whom time
Crucifies. Take my hand
A moment in the dance,
Ignoring its sly pressure,
The dry rut of age,
And lead me under the boughs
Of innocence. Let me smell
My youth again in your hair.
The Dance – R. S. Thomas