Embodyment Of Hope

Aslan meets Despair of the Endless, and she is comforted.

Embodyment of Hope

by Kathryn A

Spoilers: vague reference to "At Death's Door".

Thanks to Kaffyr, for her invaluable comments.


Where Despair dwells, there are a million shades, all of them grey. Dreary cloud, frostbite dead, institution grey; dishwater muck, sleepless midnight, pasty corpse grey; stale bread, prison blanket, cubicle-farm grey.

Despair lives on the other side of mirrors. They reflect only facts, not love. For love shines through the eyes of others, illuminating the soul, not the face. Had it been love she had seen in the dead poet's eyes? She had been his Muse, and now he was gone.

She drags her fish-hook sigil across her cheek. Drops of crimson mark its path.

Despair observes her charges. Impeccably made up, the woman thinks her life over, lacking a boyfriend. Steam wafts around the bath of the youth as he sharpens his knife. The old man stares, frozen, holding the sun-hat worn by his dead wife.

What would the poet have made of these?

She turns away. Her hand clutches the barbs of her ring. She welcomes the pain. Blood drips through her fingers. She walks a restless path, red and rust in her wake.

If only... If only...

Sudden brightness blinds her. She squints at gold. The Lion is wild, and casts sunlight around him. The gloom curls up and dies where his breath falls. The greys turn warm with courage.

"Get out!" Despair shouts. "You don't belong here!"

"I belong where I am needed," he rumbles.

She covers her eyes. "You're hurting me."

"You were hurting before I came, child."

"They all hate me," she says, between her hands. "Just like they hated my sister, Death."

"I do not hate you, child."

She peeks between her fingers. "But you should hate me most of all! I drive them to your Enemy!"

"Did you not know, daughter, that you drive them to me, also?" He steps closer. "You are needed, and not just by poets."

Her eyes are astonished. She gazes full on his golden-brown wildness and it does not hurt. He nods to the question in her eyes. She steps forward. Bold, she hugs his mane and is not burned.

"Thank you," she whispers to his fur. She looses her hold and steps back. He nods to her again and is gone.

Where Despair dwells, there are a million shades, all of them grey. She tends her charges with purpose, pulling away the props of pride, of stubborn self-reliance, paring them down to the bone. She has a job to do. She does it well.


Author's Notes

This would not have existed save for Lizamanynames, AstroGirl, and the folks on my LJ friends-list.

This story was born out of a LiveJournal meme, where people would give titles, and the poster would return summaries of stories that never were. Lizamanynames gave me a whole bunch of titles, taken from a bunch of other stories. "Embodiment of Hope" was the title of a (Farscape) story by AstroGirl. (Only Liza spelled it "Embodyment" and I kept that spelling because I liked it). So I wrote this summary, never intending to write the actual story. But then I realized a way I could make it work. It languished for a long time, because I knew it would be short, and I didn't think people would be interested. But I mentioned it in a post asking my flist what plot-bunnies I should put up for the finish-a-thon, and the response ensured that it ended up on my ballot. Then it surprised me again, by winning the vote (tied) despite being a very short story.

So here it is.