historize: (canada--polar death)
[personal profile] historize
Title: The Highway Man
Author/Artist: [livejournal.com profile] historyblitz, kept track of at [livejournal.com profile] historize
Character(s) or Pairing(s): Ireland/Scotland, England, Wales
Rating: R
Warnings: sex, blood, death, based on this poem put to music by Loreena McKennit (music is by her, the poem is not by her--because there are extra verses that she didn't include but I still really like it)







She'd been hiding here for eight months. A small patch of land owned by a short, fiery little landlord. The man had no idea where the dark-eyed, dark-haired woman had come from but she worked hard for him and never complained. So things wouldn't be indecent, they spoke of each other as family. She daughter, he father.

When the red-head entered the inn one night--she knew him instantly. How could she not...so many years together, from stone to bronze to iron times. He had been at her side--and now he was always dodging England's steel grasp.

Ireland. Her Liam.

She left the counter and went to the table he'd chosen for himself. "Liam," she said quietly.

He looked up. His eyes weren't as dark a green as England's, paler, like water. They widened. "Morag." He jumped up--found her hand on his chest. "Morag--"

"Calm, little brother--it's been a long time. Are you all right? You dress like a highwayman."

Ireland grinned at her, sitting again with his ale. "I match the part. It works while I keep an eye on our imperial little brother."

"He's looking for you."

"And for you," Liam informed her. "He wants to take you back to Scotland."

"Where I belong, I suppose, he thinks."

Ireland nodded. He looked down at his cup. "Will you be here a time, elder sister."

"...I will."

He glanced up. "Scotland--"

"Yes," she said, not even giving him a chance to finish. Knowing what he would ask. "Yes...yes."

He smiled and nodded. "I'll finish this."

She nodded to him and turned, walking back into the kitchen. Her hair was braided and dark and lovely. Her dress a rich plum and cinched with gold cording.

It was a pretty cording, braided threads to hold strong and twinkle in the light--it offered very little resistance out in the barn.

Out in the barn where Ireland finally got to touch her again, pull Scotland to him and kiss her. His hands went to the cording, grabbing at it, tearing it apart--

"Mind it--I like this one--"

He fastened his mouth on her lips. "Get you a new one--any color you want--" he breathed, pushing the plum colored dress down.

They tumbled into the straw, sweet-smelling and warm. Her arms wrapped around his neck as his fingers found her bared nipples, gently tugging on them, rubbing them between his fingers. She got into his lap, grinding against him--made him grunt--she shoved him back. He laughed, falling back into the straw and then reaching for her when she moved away.

"Stay still," she said, sharply.

"Oh, but Scotty--"

"Now, elder sister knows best."

He grinned. "It's filthy when you say it like that."

She winked and opened his belt. "You're carrying a rapier now."

"Highwaymen don't carry big greatswords like I used to, Scotland."

"Maybe you should---show them who's who."

"Yeah--maybe I--" she had his length out, stroking, "Oh, fuck--"

She leaned over, kissed it and then suckled.

He shuddered and groaned, hands going into her hair, gentle, massaging her scalp. "Oh, don't--not too fast--I'll--I'll come too fast if you..."

She moved to the head, rolling her tongue around it. "Of course, Liam." She kissed it and slid up his body, sunk herself down on him, moaning softly.



It became something--he began to return. At first a time or two a month, he would reappear at the inn. Then more frequent. Frequent.

Someone noticed.


The wind blew like a dark cloud in the swaying trees. The moon big and golden, tossed into the clouds, sailing like a ship.

Liam returned again. He'd changed clothes. Hat cocked on his forehead, lace at his chin, a new red coat and doeskin brown breeches. His boots came all the way up to his thigh and his rapier hilt and pistol butts twinkled.

She heard him arrive. Hard not too--damn fool--she could hear him clattering around. Cursing at his horse to shut up. Cursing whenever he knocked something over. He'd been at this for awhile, she'd have thought he'd remembered where the wind chimes were...

Oh, but her younger brother, second eldest of the four of them, small details--not his business. He was reckless and wild, too much for any of that. She opened the casement. "Liam," she whispered, smiling, plating a dark red knot into her hair. "What are you doing?"

Liam did a double-take and looked up. He chuckled. "Trying to get your attention. See, it worked."

"You're a liar, you forgot about the chimes again."

"They're chimes. They aren't you. I don't forget you, do I? That's the most important thing, right?"

She smiled at him. "You charming bastard."

He shrugged.

And then she wrinkled her nose. "Are you wearing a French hat?"

He instantly looked sheepish. "It's very dashing," he informed her.

"It's very French."

"Cousin France occasionally comes up with dashing things."

"I hope he never hears you compliment him, the bastard."

Ireland grinned at her. "I'll get you something pretty to make up for it. C'mon, gimme a kiss--I'm after a prize tonight. Get you some more gold cording--real gold too--not just shiny thread. How about that, Morag?"

She looked at him a long moment. "...you shouldn't go after things like that--someone will notice you adventuring about."

"All right, all right--if they press and harry me--I'll come to you on the next moon. All right? Hell itself couldn't keep me."

"That's what I'm afraid of, Liam..."

He peered up at her, looking more thoughtful. "Morag--"

"Shhh," she whispered instead, raising a finger. She shook her head. "It's just me worrying. I can't come down. Here." She loosened her hair in the casement and let it fall.

He maneuvered his horse, standing in the stirrups and kissed the dark waves. "I'll be back." And with that, he dropped down, pulled his reigns and was off, disappearing into the night.




The next day, Morag went down to work the counter. She kept the window in sight in case he reappeared. He didn't.

Not at morning, nor at noon, nor at twilight.

But someone else did. Another one in red.

King George's men came marching. Marching. Marching. England threw the door open.

And for a terrible moment, Morag was frozen at the counter. He'd found her. How--who--when!

England and his deep, emerald eyes and his prominent brows and imperial stance. He pointed at her.

Morag turned, jumped over the counter to try and flee--

But England's men were on her, grabbing her arms, dragging her up the stairs. The landlord stomped out, "Oi, what do you think you're doing, man! She's working my bar! What business does the King's men have here!"

England brushed him off, took the jar of ale from his hand and followed his men upstairs.

"Two birds with one stone," England said as he entered. He watched his men tie her up. Tie up his elder sister, Scotland. Morag, to these soldiers. The girlfriend of a showy highwayman they were trying to catch.

That's all they needed to know.

Morag spit on his boot. One of England's regulars jumped forward and gagged her.

Morag twisted, furious--the windows all seemed dark suddenly. And through one, she could see the way Liam would come. Come to England--he'd have no idea England had found them.

She was distracted a moment, one of the men grabbed her hair and pulled it back while another jammed a musket under her breast. "Keep a good watch, love," he said, sneering and kissed her, rubbing her breast before he stepped back.

I'll come to you on the next moon.

Darkness fell. Her little bedroom was drenched in purple shadows, whispers. Her fae were wary of the metal in the guns, they knew the fae currently residing in England's breast pocket were cousins of theirs. But...but...England was different. Blood and Iron was England.

Scotland twisted, gentle, to see if the men would notice. They were drinking ale now, three were playing a card game. England was staring out another window. Occasionally, he would look at an old pocket watch. Clip it shut. Back in his velvet pocket.

Her fingers felt wet. Sweat? Blood? It hardly mattered. Hours passed. She felt the trigger. By God, she would not let Ireland get captured again. She would warn him, even if it fucking killed her.


Ta-ta-lot, ta-ta-lot!

She perked, eyes shooting over at the window. Horse hooves. It was midnight. She shot a look over at England. He was looking at his watch again. (The watch Alfred made for him. It doesn't work anymore.) Her eyes went back. No, no...turn back...

Ta-ta-lot, ta-ta-lot!


The hooves were ringing in the night. They seemed unnaturally loud. Banging over the grass. Down the ribbon of moonlight and over the brow of the hill, she saw him emerge.

Ta-ta-lot.

Ta-ta-lot.


England clapped the watch shut and stuffed it back in his coat. "There you are...," he whispered, sounding heated, almost lustful. "There you are...."

Scotland swallowed. She stood straight and still.

Ta-ta-lot. Ta-ta-lot.

Echoing in the night, frosty--the breath from his horse like a steam.

England flicked his fingers. His men shifted carefully, picking up muskets.

Scotland looked at him, his men and then back, watching Ireland ride closer to death.

No. No, she would warn him. Her finger moved.


He'd been a tiny, wild child when she found him. They'd grown up together over thousands of years. Found little Wales sleeping curled up with a dragon and then England, baby England--stolen by Rome and changed forever--and Ireland still--


The musket shattered the moonlight, shattered her breast--and warned him.


When the shot rang out, Ireland hauled on the reigns. His eyes darted around. Someone must know he was around, knew he was coming--Scotland would understand--he'd come back tomorrow--

He whirled back, riding hard to the west.



In the inn, England stared. Scotland, bowed over the musket and drenched in red blood. He knew his mouth was hanging open. He knew his men must be wondering at his reaction. But. But for her to--to--



Ireland knew nothing of it, not until he stopped at a nearby village to get some breakfast. And of all people to see there--was--

"Taliesin," he blurted out, not meaning too--but it happened. Wales was hard to come by--already in England's possession. He was the slightest of the four of them, the scholar.

"Liam..." Wales said and he looked around furtively before sitting down with his brother. "Liam...I...I didn't know he was going to do it."

Ireland paused, a forkful of sausage halfway to his mouth. "Huh?"

"I didn't know. And Scotland...she..."

Ireland ticked his head. "What are you talking about?"

Wales tensed visibly. "You haven't...heard?"

Ireland put his fork down. "What." Dread filled him.

"You went to an inn last night."

Ireland tensed. "....and?"

"And you couldn't go to it because....there was a gunshot...right?"

"...yes," he admitted, slowly.

"...it was...it was England--he found Scotland there and waited for you--and when you were near enough she...she fired the gun to warn you..."

His face went gray. "Is she...all right?"

Wales looked away...and then back. He shook his head. "No...she didn't--she didn't...live through it..."

"But we live through--worse wounds--I mean--"

"I don't know," Wales stammered, not his usual collected, quiet self. "England just said it killed her."

Liam looked down, suddenly felt overwhelmed. He tried to breath. Tremble.

Eyes wide.

Rage.

He was up.

"Ire--Liam--no! No! Don't!"

Ireland didn't hear him.


He spurred back like a madman, drawing his rapier, screaming at the sky--everything they had gone through together! Everything! All ended in one night and she had to die in the dark, alone, except for England--fucking England! That godddamn bastard! He was going to skin that shit brother of his!

The noon sky turned his spurs blood red, his wine-colored coat gleamed. And he came blazing over the his in a cloud of dust and rage.

In the inn, England watched. He flicked his fingers.

They shot him down. Musket balls slammed into Ireland, threw him from his horse. Blood soaked the dust. He had taken worse wounds. Was it just...his time? Their time?

Scotland...

His rapier dripped in the heat of the day. And the blood dried sticky and dark.



England stood at the casement, smelling Scotland's perfume, metallic blood and dust. "The sweet stench of progress," he murmured.


Yet, in Ireland, in the middle of a forest, surrounded by fae, a little red haired girl looked around and stood. This land was her, she knew. And that's just the way it was.

And in a mirror, across the Irish Sea, in northern Scotland, a little dark-haired boy was suddenly there. He picked up some rocks. He liked them. They were a part of him.

He wondered what the rest of the land was like.
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