theravenboy: (house in the hills)
[personal profile] theravenboy
After morning prayers (in which half the family went to the Methodist chapel, slightly under half to the Presbyterian chapel, and a few to St Cadfan's in Tywyn), the Davies family and friends have assembled at Emrys's home for Christmas dinner.

Emrys and his wife have set up a large table in the parlor, and opened up the double doors from the parlor into the next room. After dinner is over, the younger children have gone to play with beautiful old train set around the tree in the living room, but a number of people are still sitting around the table, singing. Bran is beginning to go hoarse, after the night of singing, but the voices of his children and grandchildren are as strong as ever.

The songs have been in Welsh, mostly, and Will and Cordelia have been silent. Noticing this, Bran says, "Will, it is your turn to choose a song, now."

Date: 2007-11-30 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
There are a few Welsh carols Will knows, after all these years, but nothing like so many as the Davies family does. And Cordelia doesn't know any Welsh at all. The friendly thing to do, then, is to keep her company during the ones he can't join in on.

Now, though, he smiles. "Fair enough." A thoughtful moment's study of the tree in the room beyond, for musing or for show, and then he begins in a soft baritone, Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen... By the third word, the other singers have joined in.

This carol has been a favorite of his for a long time. And it seems appropriate, today.

Date: 2007-11-30 05:04 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (direct)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
Cordelia's head rises a little at the first line, and her brows draw together in a slight frown; familiarity, but not complete. I know this song...

After a few more lines, her eyes widen as the familiarity clicks into recognition. She smiles, and hums along, but doesn't sing aloud.




Not until the song is over and another one has started (in Welsh again) does she murmur to Will, "I've never heard those words before."

Date: 2007-11-30 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
Will glances at her, eyebrows lifted slightly in question.

Date: 2007-11-30 05:15 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (direct)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
Still very quietly: "I recognize the tune, it's a Barrayaran Winterfair carol. I had no idea its source was this old."

Date: 2007-12-06 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
"Somewhere in the early 1800s, that was written," Will says softly. "The words, I mean. The tune is a great deal older. A carol for spring, it used to be."

Date: 2007-12-06 05:35 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (direct)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
A chuckle. "Interesting how it got turned into a song about inner strength as a defense against the winter cold."

Date: 2007-12-06 05:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
Will smiles, just a little.

"Fitting, I think."

The Welsh carol has wound to a close, and everyone is glancing around to see who wants to pick the next one. "You should sing your version," Will says to Cordelia.

Date: 2007-12-06 05:48 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
"I -- what? No," she protests, but it's more flustered reflex than true refusal, and it shows.

Cordelia's not used to being flustered.

Date: 2007-12-06 06:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
If she seemed really unwilling, Will wouldn't press.

But she doesn't. "Go on," he urges, this time with a grin, and loud enough to be heard by the people seated nearest them.

Date: 2007-12-07 04:02 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (sigil)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
She glances around at the others, a little uncertainly.

The hesitation's genuine, now. She's running through the words of the Winterfair carol in her head -- is there anything in it that would give away its origin?

Date: 2007-12-07 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] owendavies.livejournal.com
Owen Arthur turns to smile at Cordelia. "If you would like to sing," he says, "I am sure we would all enjoy hearing it."

Date: 2007-12-09 05:14 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (sigil)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
No, there isn't.

Another quick look around, but this time she's smiling. "If you're sure? ... This is a different version of the one you just sang. I learned it a long time ago."

Cordelia takes a breath, and begins to sing.

Count Vorvlaceslav looked out
from his mighty tower
On the snowy fields about,
deep in winter's power.
All was well despite the cold;
harvest had been good.
Then he spied a hillman old,
gath'ring fallen wood.

Her voice is clear and steady, rising and falling in the storytelling cadence of the song, dropping to a lower register for the voice of the Count and rising slightly for that of his Armsman:

"Armsman, is that fellow lost?
Why does he draw nigh here?
Out in such a bitter frost,
has he come to spy here?"
"He was sorely wounded, lord,
your borderlands defending.
Firewood he cannot afford,
he has nought for spending..."

Date: 2007-12-09 05:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
He can hear the kinship, of course -- the translation of names, the way the details change around the heart of the story, to fit the Barrayar he's learned about over the years at Milliways from Cordelia and Aral and Miles.

And deep inside, in the part of his mind that belongs to all times and none, there's an old familiar stillness, and he knows that this is somehow important.

This is something to remember.

So he listens, and he joins in with a few others in soft wordless harmony, and Will knows that he will remember every word and every moment of this.

Date: 2007-12-09 07:12 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (sigil)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
"Bread and wine and meat and fuel
we shall carry to him.
He has served me well and true,
no less now is due him."
Count and Armsman, forth they went
through the frozen valley,
Minds and hearts on duty bent
in their twilight sally.

Her mind's flicking back to all the times she's heard this carol: thirty-five winters, her memory supplies, thirty-five long winters on Barrayar.

It seems impossible, abruptly, that there was ever a time when she did not know the bite of winter wind or the sight of snow on the ground.

"Colder grows the night, my lord,
and the wind blows stronger.
Now it pierces like a sword,
I can go no longer."
"Walk behind me, liegeman true,
facing in its teeth,
Where my footprints breaking through
show the soil beneath."

Date: 2007-12-09 08:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
There are thoughts in his head, memories: lifting his voice in unison with his brother, all those many years ago when they were both boys and sopranos, trying to sound like a single clear-voiced page in Miss Greythorne's manor, every year until James' voice began to crack and change.

Hawkin, bright-eyed and green-clad and uncertain, saying my master loves me to Maggie Barnes's laughing scorn.

Cordelia, years later and with more white hair than she has today, shrugging with a small crooked smile and saying she called me Light's liege.

Will himself, eleven again and just beginning to come into his power, lifting his voice alone, shaking with the unfamiliarity and the rightness of it, as he followed Merriman into darkness and candlelight and another century.

Here and now, in 2035 at the Davies' warm Christmas table, he begins to understand some things. Of course, he thinks, as the awareness dawns, of course. And as he understands a flash of deeper insight follows, of steps along the road mortals would call the future and the past, which an Old One travels freely.

Date: 2007-12-09 08:44 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (sigil)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
She's looking at Will as she sings the final verse, and thinking of a call she got from him once, two years ago -- or hundreds of years from now. In her past, his future.

We do not live simply from past to present, he said in that call. And oh, wasn't that the truth.

I swore an oath, then, and the Count matched it.... An oath like that is to an entire family, and from the family, whoever speaks the words. Such things have power.

And for no reason she can think of, she finds herself remembering the confrontation with the White Rider, later that winter; the blow of the Dark unmasked aimed at her, and rebounding off the shield of brilliance between them.

Remembering coming to Will (a much younger Will) afterwards, kneeling on the frozen ground next to him, taking his cold hands between her own to warm them.

Sheltered at his master's back
from the winter's storming,
'Neath his feet he felt the track
like a hearthstone warming.
Man and master, hearken both,
listen, liege and lord:
Loyalty to plighted troth
brings its own reward.


Cordelia holds the last note, and ends with a flourish.

Date: 2007-12-24 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
Will smiles, small and bright; when he was a boy that smile transformed his round solemn face, and even now that's still true.

(But for a moment, there's an inward-turned gravity to the smile that makes it not quite a human expression at all.)

"Lovely," he grins, and the abstraction is abruptly gone again.

Date: 2007-12-24 05:22 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (portrait)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
The Davies family agrees and applauds, and then one of the children is asking for a particular favorite and they're singing again.

Cordelia gets to her feet and wanders toward the dinner table, where the teapot and cups are still out.

Date: 2007-12-24 11:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
Will doesn't follow immediately.

But when Cordelia glances at him over the rim of her teacup, half a verse into this latest carol, he meets her eyes. And it's not very much later that he rises too, and makes his way over to join her.

Date: 2007-12-24 11:45 pm (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (direct)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
"I wasn't sure I'd remember the whole thing," she says, pitched low so as not to disturb the singing.

Date: 2007-12-26 04:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
"You sang it very well."

Will picks up his teacup from earlier, from where it sits in front of his place at the table, and hefts the teapot experimentally. It's still about half full, and warm.

Date: 2007-12-26 05:11 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (direct)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
"Thanks."

She adds a little more sugar to her tea, and stirs it.

"Strange to be singing it this far from home."

Date: 2007-12-26 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
Will glances at her.

"Is it one you sing often?" Her family, he means, as much as Cordelia herself.

Liege of the Light; it's funny, sometimes, how things can abruptly shuffle and resettle in a new order.

Date: 2007-12-26 05:29 am (UTC)
veryvorkosigan: (sigil)
From: [personal profile] veryvorkosigan
"Not really -- it's been years since I last heard it."

Half a beat, and she adds "Miles was very fond of it, when he was a kid. Probably still is."

Date: 2007-12-26 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sign-seeker.livejournal.com
"I liked it."

Will adds cream; directs a mulling glance at the sugar, and forgoes it.

"It's funny," he says after a moment, under the sounds of cheerful Welsh song from the dinner table and gleeful Welsh giggling from the children in the other room. "How things are passed on, and how they last. All the heart of that song was just the same."

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theravenboy: (Default)
Bran Davies

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