Meeting [livejournal.com profile] immortal_connor

Oct. 27th, 2009 10:08 pm
foreverwarrior: (Miranda (b/w sword))
[personal profile] foreverwarrior
April 16, 1746
Culloden, Scotland


A lone figure, wrapped in a drenched woolen cloak stood on a small hillock overlooking the battle, watching the dream of a free Scotland crumble under English cannon and musket fire. Shouts of men were drowned by the raw April day full of fierce winds and driving rain, and it was suicide to do battle in such conditions. Something had drawn the figure to the site. One of her kind was caught up in the fray, she could feel it. An hour, one bloody hour, and Scotland was changed. She knew what the victory meant: death to the old ways. The English would make sure the independently-minded Scots would be brought to heel. She watched as the English redcoats moved among the fallen, slicing and stabbing with their bayonets. She felt that tingling flicker and fade and waited to see a subsequent lightning storm. The figure breathed a sigh of relief when it never came.
---
Connor waited until darkness to rise from the spot where grapeshot had lain him down, and the Clansman glanced about bitterly at the death and destruction that surrounded him. The MacLeods had been at the front of the line, the very center of battle where the fighting had been fiercest. His countrymen had fought bravely but had been outnumbered and outgunned, and now the sessenach would make sure there would be no more risings out of the Highlands. "What a bloody waste," he muttered, disgusted.

A fight over who was to sit on the English throne, and it was the common people who had paid the price while their rulers squabbled.

The highlander, still dressed in his tattered and bloodstained clothing, picked up his sword and began to make his way from the field of battle. It was time to leave Scotland again, at least for a generation or more until all involved in this stupid waste of a battle were safely dead.
---
The foul weather still hadn't abated by the time sun had set. The cloak, hung by the fire to dry, was still damp to the touch. It would be several hours, yet, before it was completely dry, not that it mattered. Even if she traveled all night in the cold and damp, the worst that might happen would be a minor case of the sniffles, if that.

"There'll be no living with the English after this," she grumbled to the deerhound who watched her from his spot in front of the cozy fire.

Satchels and packs lay open on the bed in the small croft as rain pelted the thatch. A broadsword in it's brown leather scabbard stood at the footboard. It was time to leave. England was becoming too much like her parent, Rome: wars had been waged, colonies founded, people oppressed. She stirred the mutton stew simmering in a pot hanging above the fire as she thought about her next life.
---
It had taken him some time to return to the abandoned hovel where he'd stashed a change of clothes and some money, buried under the flagstones of the ruined fireplace a few days before just in case the worst occured. If the past two hundred and twenty seven years had taught him anything it was to be prepared for the worst case scenario, it had saved his neck on more than one occasion and hopefully would do the same this time.

Connor changed in the rain and stuffed the ruined bloody garments he'd been wearing back under the hearth. He'd reluctantly discarded his tartan deciding that to wear it now would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull, just asking for trouble, but couldn't bear to part with the broach he'd secured it with. It had been given to him by Heather, long ago before he'd truly understood what he was, and even though it held the symbol of Clan MacLeod he would rather die than part with it.

Still, it was time to leave. He'd try to find a place where he could get a warm meal in his belly and a chance to dry out before making for the port and hiring on as a seaman for a voyage to the continent. With that thought in mind Connor started making his way out of the area. He'd want to find a place in the outlying parts, the areas closest to the battle would be crawling with soldiers from both sides looking for food and 'companionship', god help the women of Scotland because no one else would be able to.

A few hours walk later and he came across a small croft, light glowing through the tiny window to the outside and smoke rising from the chimney. There was no sign of horses or other indicators that soldiers from one side or the other had found the place, so Connor approached slowly, keeping his eyes open and senses alert.
---
She could feel it, feel…him. Another Immortal was out there in the darkness. She cautiously reached for her sword before realizing there was something familiar. It was the Immortal she had felt at the battle. She had learned centuries before how to tell one of her kind from another by the tingling at the base of her skull. This one was still young, by her standards, only a few hundred years at least.

"Brutæ," she whispered to the deerhound. "Friend or foe?"

The dog climbed to his feet, yawned and stretched. That, in itself, was an answer. The massive, silvery-gray canine ambled to the door and sniffed along the bottom edge of the door. She smiled as his tail began to wag.

"Looks like I'm having company for dinner."

She took another bowl down from the mantle and ladled a healthy portion of stew into it. She opened the door and stood with her back to the light. The dog sat patiently at her side. She could feel his wariness as he approached in the darkness. She waited until she thought he could feel her before raising her voice to the vague form in the shadows.

"This is no night for traveling," she called out to him. "There's stew and a nice fire."
---
Connor sensed the presence of another immortal just before the cottage door opened and a woman's form stepped into view. She was a comely one, from what little he could tell by the firelight, but female companionship of that sort was the last thing he wanted right now. Female immortals could be equally as deadly as their male counterparts, they just had to be sneakier about it.

His hand rested lightly on the hilt of his katana, prepared to draw it in a heartbeat to defend himself but willing to keep it in its scabbard for now. Ramirez had taught him about the game, and he'd play even if he had his doubts, but he wouldn't make the first move. Especially not tonight.

"I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I'll gladly take a bowl of stew and a seat by your fire milady, if I've your word I'll not need to worry about my head." He kept his tone light, not wanting to insult the woman. She must be a good bit older than him, to have sensed him so much earlier than he'd sensed her.
---
"I am Quinnleigh Kincaid of the Clan Kincaid," she replied. "And you have my word that no harm will come to you this night. Ceud mìle fàilte."

He was cautious, she'd grant him that. Given the times, she didn't blame him. She took a half-step back into the cottage so that he might better see her. It was a custom of her homelands to stand in plain view to give one the opportunity to determine if what they were seeing was real, or imaginary. She, on the other hand, had always had a gift of discernment. She sensed no ill will. Wariness and caution, yes, but he was no threat. Were that not the case, the deerhound would not be so amiable.
---
Connor took her at her word and relaxed slightly, letting his hand move from the hilt of his sword.  "Thank you," he said simply as he walked forward toward the door. "It's been an evil day, one that will be long remembered in the highlands."

The deerhound gave him pause momentarily, till he saw the wagging tail and tongue hanging out. "Hello beast," he greeted the dog cheerfully, reaching down to scratch the back of its head as he walked into the building. The younger immortal removed his cloak and set it on the opposite side of the fireplace from Quinnleigh's to dry, taking in the preparations for departure and the wonderful smells coming from the stewpot.

"You're not long for Scotland either, it seems."
---
Quinnleigh closed the door on the miserable night. Connor was right. It had been an evil day. Violence always made her bitter, although she understood the Jacobite cause. She had even discussed tactics with Wallace himself.

"An evil day, indeed," she agreed, handing him a bowl of stew. "And you are right. There is nothing for me here. I leave tomorrow before dawn. You weren't far wrong calling him 'beast.' His name is Brutæ, and he has just as difficult a time dying as we do."

Quinnleigh regarded him closely as she ate from her bowl. Although he wasn't what she'd considered handsome, there was still a rugged charm about him, but her mind was on other things this night. She needed to decide where she would make a new life for herself, and a new name.
---
"I'm for France, for the moment." He told her, assuming she was thinking of where to go next herself. "I put things on hold when Prince Charles summoned the Clans to his banner." Connor had quickly lost all respect for the Stewart heir in the councils of war held throughout the campaign to take the English throne, the man was little more than a spoiled child with no respect for anyone but himself. "It cost me a great deal of time and money to support the Jacobite cause, and something I'll not do again. This was my last battle to support the cause of a King."

He put a spoonful of stew to his lips and swallowed. It was hot and tasted delicious, but in all honesty Connor was too hungry to savor the taste. He'd not had more than one meal a day the past four or five. There'd been no female companionship for weeks either, but as comely as Quinnleigh was that would have to wait for another time. Tonight he would eat and get a few hours sleep before continuing his journey.
---
France, she thought as she stared into the fire.

She hadn't returned since she had escaped the clutches of Cardinal Richelieu who had ordered her beheading if she hadn't been able to grant him Immortality. Quinnleigh knew well of the decadence surrounding the French court, and after everything that had happened in recent months, she felt she could do with a bit of pampering.

She had dreaded traveling. Even in these enlightened times, women traveling alone were seen as easy prey for rogues, thieves and brigands. If Connor was agreeable to it, maybe they could travel to France together, strictly as companions, of course.

"I believe my path takes me to France as well," she replied finally.
---
"It does, does it?" Connor eyed the woman across the table. Was she wanting to travel with him? He wouldn't mind it, traveling with a woman would make him less suspicious to the English especially if they seemed to be husband and wife. Somehow Connor imagined that idea wouldn't go over well with the other immortal. "I'm to meet my kinsman in Paris, same clan younger vintage. We arranged to rendezvous there if things ended in disaster and I've not seen any signs of a quickening. He'll be on his way as soon as he can get away from the sessenach."

He decided to be blunt. "You're welcome to come along if you wish. The sessenach would be less likely to suspect a husband and wife traveling together who aren't looking as if they're fleeing the battlefield." He wasn't asking for it to be a permanent thing, just long enough to get them to France. "I'll be happy to sleep on the floor, it's a far cry from lying in a damp meadow with just my cloak for warmth."
---
Quinnleigh regarded him closely. It seemed their chance encounter was mutually beneficial. The illusion that he was her husband would provide her ample protection from any unnecessary violence. Though she could do very well to hold her own in a fight, it was best not to provoke one to begin with. At Connor's mention of sleeping on the floor, her eyes darted towards the bed. It truly was big enough for two, but she wasn't sure about trusting him that much.

"As far as marriage proposals go, I've had better," she couldn't resist teasing. "You're probably right that a husband and wife, say on their wedding trip to France, aren't as likely to call attention. There are plenty of blankets and things in the chest to make a pallet, but before you do that, it'd be best to come up with a likely tale for a pair of newlyweds."
---
Connor had only been married once in his life, and he doubted he would ever marry again. Watching Heather grow old before his eyes and die in his arms while he stayed the same had been almost more than he could bear, it had taken years for him to emerge from his grief. Still, there was no need to be insulting when Quinnleigh clearly was trying to tease him, and the younger immortal grinned.

"Well darling," Connor drawled, "How about this: I'm a successful young banker now living in Edinburgh and you're the parson's youngest daughter from my home village. We were childhood sweethearts and after securing a promotion at the bank I asked your father for your hand. He married us in the local church a few days before, but got caught up in the movements of all the soldiers as we tried to make our way to Inverness to board ship for our holiday in France."
---
Quinnleigh raised an eyebrow at the "parson's daughter" idea. She'd never been particularly religious, although she was respectful of others' beliefs, mostly. The Church wasn't exactly one of her favorite organizations. Most men of the cloth cared too much about their own ambitions rather than the welfare of their flock, but this wasn't the time to air her theological heresies.

"Maybe we should just keep it to the childhood sweethearts from the same village. No need complicating things," she replied. "Passage from Inverness to Calais isn't a bad idea. Keeps us out of sassenach territory. Inverness proper's just on the other side of Culloden. It'll be a day, maybe more to get to France, and then the better part of a fortnight after that to get to Paris. Think you can tolerate my company for that long?"
---
"I should be asking you if you think you'd be able to tolerate me." Connor joked, leaning back in his chair now that the stew was gone. "I've had worse traveling companions I'd say." He eyed her appreciatively, Quinnleigh certainly was easy on the eyes, it would make for an easy acting job. Imagine how hard it would be to pretend they were newlyweds if she were a hag? Connor smirked at the thought and shook his head.

"You don't snore do you?"
---
"Not that I've been told, no," Quinnleigh answered. "And you?"

She studied Connor over the rim of her bowl. He could have just as easily said they were brother and sister going to meet a distant relative in France. It was a boost to her feminine pride to know that he didn't think of her as a sister, although that story would certainly be simpler, and wouldn't need rings. Finishing the rest of her stew, she set her bowl down on the floor for Brutæ.

"We should probably come up with some plausible names. The sassenach probably know that the MacLeods fought today and will be looking for any sympathisers."
---
"How about Alexander Munro for myself?" Connor suggested. "The Munros are from these parts and not many of them fought for the English, it only has to last long enough for us to get to France. After that we can be whomever is convenient for us to be. You do speak French, correct?" He wasn't intending to offer insult, but he imagined the older immortal would be fluent in several different languages just as he was himself. If she wasn't it could be a problem and he needed to know now if he was going to deal with it.

"Certainement, je parle fraçais," Quinnleigh replied wryly. "J'ai passé énormément de temps en France. It's been a while since I've been there, though, so my French may be a bit rusty." She thought for a moment. "Munro should suffice. I think I shall assume the name Elizabeth. I think there is just one thing more that needs to be addressed. If we are supposedly married, there is still a matter of rings."
---
"I'm sure we can come up with something." Connor muttered thoughtfully. The idea of rings hadn't occurred to him, he honestly hadn't been thinking that far ahead. "We wanted to get the rings in Paris, and used my parents rings for the ceremony?" He shook his head, it was an absurdity on its face and any self respecting patrol would laugh at the thought.

"A band of highwaymen took our valuables?" He offered, feeling that the excuse was just as weak but it was all he could come up with.
---
Quinnleigh could barely hide a smirk. It had been Connor's idea to travel as husband and wife, and it was apparent that he hadn't thought about the rather obvious symbol of marriage. Siblings wouldn't have a need for rings. Although she thought that was the more prudent plan, Connor's suggestion had merit, especially if things were to turn physical between them. Given the length of the trip, that was a definite possibility. Quinnleigh decided to take pity on him. Connor had fought a valiant, if futile, battle and didn't deserve any more hardships on her part. She withdrew a small leather drawstring pouch from inside the bodice of her gown. Inside were two plain, hammered gold rings. She had received them as payment for being a midwife some years earlier. The young girl had been widowed just before the child was due and had given over both her ring and her husband's in leu of coinage. Quinnleigh wasn't sure why she'd kept the rings all this time, but was certainly relieved she had. She handed the larger of the two rings to Connor, and slipped the smaller one onto her own finger.

"I'm not sure if this will fit, but it's the best I can do."
---
"I'll make it work," Connor replied, taking the ring and testing it on his finger. It was a simple gold ring, nothing fancy about it, but there was something elegant in the simplicity.

The ring fit, if a bit tightly, and Connor nodded in satisfaction. "It's been nearly two hundred years since I've worn one of these..." his voice trailed off for a moment as he thought about Heather. He'd buried the ring with his wife, many generations ago now.

The younger immortal shook his head and raised his head to give Quinn a look of apology. "Sorry, was wool gathering for a moment."
---
Sleet continued to tap at the glass panes of the small windows set deep into the cottage walls as Quinnleigh stared into the fire. It had been nearly that long since she'd been married, if not longer. After a certain measure of time, mortals began asking questions, and it was mostly the women-folk who were nosier. They always wanted to know why she didn't appear to age, or why she hadn't borne children. Sometimes she was accused of everything from being an Unseelie (an evil fae) to practicing witchcraft. Over the years, she'd become rather adept at knowing when she'd overstayed her welcome. And knowing that she would have to leave, she rarely gave her heart away to mortal men. Immortal men were another matter entirely. Quinnleigh wasn't one to trust them, either, since there had been quite a few who'd been more interested in her head, removed from her shoulders of course, than her heart. She looked at Connor realizing he'd been speaking, something about wool gathering.

"Guess I was doing a bit of that, myself," she replied sheepishly.
---
"I'm finding it tends to become a habit, the longer I live." Connor shrugged, trying to brush off the awkwardness they both felt. "Another price of immortality I suppose." The ring fit, that was all that mattered. He yawned, stretching out his arms over his head as high as they would go. It had been a long, miserable, and altogether evil day, and now that he'd had a chance to fill his belly and dry out the effects of the day was taking its toll.

"So we're agreed then?" He asked, wanting to be certain. Yes she'd handed out the ring, but Connor had been burned before. Once it was settled maybe they could get some sleep.
---
"Tomorrow, we leave for Inverness before dawn as Alexander and Elizabeth Munro. From there we book passage to Calais and then on to Paris. I'm agreeable to that," Quinnleigh replied. She regarded Connor closely and saw the strains of battle in the set of his shoulders and the weariness in his eyes, but that didn't mean she could trust him to keep his hands to himself. "As for you, there are plenty of blankets and things in that trunk to make a pallet on the floor."
---
Connor chuckled tiredly at the pointed remark about where he was to sleep. "You'll be getting no argument from me, Elizabeth." He decided it was best to start referring to her by the name of her character, less likelihood he'd have a slip of the tongue that way.

He pushed himself away from the table and got up to go to the trunk she'd indicated. "I'll be perfectly respectful of both your wishes and your virtue until you give me reason to do otherwise."
---
Quinnleigh raised an eyebrow and gave Connor a quirky half-smile. "You needn't worry about my virtue, Alexander. I was relieved of that a long time ago, and rather involuntarily, I might add." She ducked behind a screen to change out of her day clothes in favor of a warm nightgown. Once changed, she crawled beneath the piles of blankets heaped four high on the already tall bed. "Unless there is anything more you think we need to discuss, I'll bit you goodnight."
---
"Good night, Elizabeth." Connor smirked from where he was building a sleep mat out of blankets and quilts over by the fire. "Pleasant dreams."


…To be continued…

Connor's parts written by [livejournal.com profile] immortal_connor's mun

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