Which is no doubt why the idea of working on a sequel to IMMORTAL BELOVED is appealing to me right now.
What follows is not new writing. It is, in fact, some four or five years old. It's as far as I ever got on a sequel.
Dawn breaks over Stonehenge, minutes past five in the morning. Thin golden light filters through dew and fog, coloring the sky pale with promise. The air is still, faintly chilled, waiting.
It is only dawn, and already there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of worshippers and merry-makers gathered around the ancient edifice. Almost as a man, they turn to face the sunrise, many lifting their hands to catch the first rays on the longest day. Many more call out, some in song, some simply to make noise, greeting the morning.
Not one of them sees the man who sits among the massive stones themselves. He is tall and narrow, with sharp features: the generous would call them eagle-like, the less generous, rat-like. Black eyes turn to hazel as sunlight spills into them; black hair, unfashionably long, glints with other shades of darkness as light touches it.
He has a thin mouth, expressive, turned to a pursed little smile, and he sits in a position of casual comfort, one leg folded under himself, the other up so he can fling an arm across his knee easily. His weight is on a hip and hand, leaned back a little, and he wears loose wool pants, hand-made, in a style from an era hundreds of years gone. A shirt and vest of similar make are flung aside, and his feet are dirty enough to suggest he walked up to the standing stones without shoes or socks.
He has been here since midnight, and will be here until midnight, perhaps longer. Since midnight he has sat where he is, where the first rays of morning light fall through the stones and creep to meet him.
Hours ago, a warning washed through him, dangerous tingle of headache and nausea. He knows who it is: in no way can he imagine not knowing that particular power signature. He was here first, and that, he imagines, must be infuriating to her. He rather hopes so, in his perverse, easily amused way. It would serve her right, somehow.
The fact that she hasn't come up among the stones means she recognized his power signature as well, and has spent the last five hours skulking about, angry, trying to decide on her next action.
That amuses him, too.
It's the sunlight that brings her, as he suspected it would. Faintest footsteps behind him, sounds most people wouldn't hear. Soft golden light has just barely touched his toes when her voice comes, so close to him that when the sun breaks fully over the horizon, she'll be bathed instantly in the same swath of light he is.
That thought makes his heart ache.
"Are you here to gloat, Methos, or to do something so arcane and foolish as worship?"
He turns his head a little, not quite looking at her. He knows what she'll be wearing, anyway: skirts, perhaps patterned, light and gauzy material, with a belt that holds a full shirt against a slender waist. Her hair will be down, golden-red in the new morning light, and her clear green eyes will be full of hate.
"Neither, Cass." He turns his head away again, looking into the sunrise. "I'm here to remember, that's all."
"To remember." She steps around in front of him, silhoutted against the morning sun. In the instant it takes for his eyes to adjust, she could take his head. Despite himself, he murmurs, "Holy ground, Cassandra. Holy ground."
And then he can see again, and he is surprised. Oh, he had some things right: the golden fire of her hair, the forthright hatred in her bright eyes. But the costume, her clothes, he was wrong about. Hand-sewn wool, lightweight, as summery as his own clothes, and made on as old a pattern. The dress flatters the long slender lines of her body more than modern clothing does, he thinks, the scoop neck displaying delicate collarbones. The belt that rides low on her hips is gold and red and wide, and he recognizes it with a jolt.
She is watching to see if he does. It takes effort to lift his eyes to hers guilelessly, effort to say, teasingly, "You've cheated, Cassandra. You've sewn pockets into the seams of that gown." It takes far less effort and far, far less wisdom to add, "You're beautiful."
Fortunately, she is not wearing shoes. He's fairly certain that if she was, she'd kick him in the teeth. What she does--says--snaps--is, "I know this is holy ground, you idiot," as she turns away in a blur of anger.
It takes everything he has to hold still, to not come to his feet and catch her arm and apologize. Or try to apologize, at least: she would never accept it. Instead, he asks, carefully, "What are you doing here?"
She makes a derisive sound. "I'm always here on the solstice."
"No," he says, quite certain, and closes his eyes, lifting his face to the sunrise. "You were not here on the hundredth anniversary, nor the two hundred fiftieth. Nor the five hundredth, nor the thousandth, but you are here today, fifteen hundred years later. Why are you here?"
She turns back to him again, anger still in her eyes. He wonders if she'll ever look at him again without hatred. It pains him, how much he hopes she might. "Perhaps to remember," she finally says, reluctantly. "Perhaps to hear the story. All of it, from the only one who was there for everything."
A fist closes around Methos' heart. More than anything he wants to gather her into his arms and tell her the story. Well, no: more than anything, he wants to keep his head, and that particular action would go a long way towards helping him lose it. "Does it matter?" he asks, trying to keep the tension from his voice. "After so long, does it matter?"
"Oh, yes." Cassandra turns away, to face the sunrise again. "It matters. Arthur has returned."