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In Memoriam, Part Two

O when her life was yet in bud,
He too foretold the perfect rose,
For thee she grew, for thee she grows,
For ever, and as fair as good.


Paris, 1999

Duncan MacLeod found his footsteps dragging as he approached the chapel. After Darius had died, he had been so consumed with finding the killers that he had not made the time to come here and mourn, but later, after he had killed Horton, he'd found it a source of strength, a place where he could come to centre his thoughts amidst the chaos into which his life had all too often descended these past few years. He had not thought about Horton overmuch recently, but the face of the Englishman seemed to hover in front of him like a mask of hate today. Of all the things Horton had done, to Duncan the greatest wound would always remain the murder of a priest on Holy Ground. It didn't matter that Darius was Immortal. He was a priest and he wasn't supposed to die in a church.

He felt the Immortal as he approached the gate. The sense was strong, like it had always been when Darius was alive. Stronger than it should be for just Liam Riley. He stepped into the foyer and through the inner doors, almost colliding with the man who was leaving. The sense was strongest then and he realised that this man was an Immortal as well. He stared at the face and it took a moment to place him. As he did, he saw recognition flare in the other's eyes.

"Well," said the stranger, dryly, "if it isn't Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I see you're still alive."

"And you as well," said Duncan. The two of them stared at each other for a moment, before Duncan added, "I never caught your name that day."


Scotland, 1746

The column of horses made their way along the road slowly, as weary as the men on their backs, but for very different reasons. The horses were tired from being ridden long and hard, but food and a night's rest would restore much of their energy. It would take more than a night's sleep to give the men back what had been taken from them that day. Pride, belief, hope, these were all things that had been cut away as the English army had rampaged across Culloden Moor. Each man rode alone with his thoughts, playing over and again the memories of that day and all the days before in his mind. The faces of the dead haunted each of them, seeming to curse them from beyond the grave for losing the day, but surviving the slaughter.

Duncan rode as silently as the rest, his thoughts more consumed with what was to come than with what had already happened. The enemy would be on their trail for sure. The English Lords would not rest until they had captured the Prince and dragged him to London to stand trial. A fair English trial, before they beheaded him. Duncan looked at the Prince riding beside him, as broken and cowed as any of the others, his dreams of a throne shattered by the combined forces of the English army and those Scots whose own plans and allegiances allowed no room for the German Prince. If they could reach the coast, Duncan thought, they could still save Charlie. And that was what they were reduced to now. Culloden had been more than a battle, it had been the war, the rebellion, the future. And they had lost it all and been forced to flee, leaving behind the shattered dream of a free Scotland.

He would have seen him soon enough, so alert was he to the sounds on the wind and the colours around him, but the presence of the other overtook him before he came into view. Duncan held up his hand and the riders halted, looking around themselves in bewilderment.

"What is it, MacLeod?" the Prince asked. Duncan leant forward in the saddle, scanning the forest around with a searching gaze.

"I don't know... There's someone else nearby." Not Cochrane, he prayed. For God's sake, not Cochrane. Too many of the men riding with them knew that Warren Cochrane had died the day before, had seen his corpse with an English knife through his heart. He had sent them away, saying he would bury his friend alone, but in truth it was so that one saw Cochrane revive when Duncan pulled the knife from his chest. Cochrane had been mortified at having to disappear on the eve of what he had been sure would be Charlie's finest hour and Duncan would not have put it past him to try to rally the troops to a lost cause. There would be no way to explain away his apparent resurrection and then there would be hell to pay.

It was almost with relief that Duncan saw the horseman riding towards them was an English Colonel, apparently alone. "Stay here, your Majesty," said Duncan. "Look to the Prince," he commanded the others, then rode forward slowly, looking to left and right as he did. This bore the hallmarks of a trap. The Englishman stopped and waited patiently as Duncan approached.

"I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," said the Highlander, halting a few feet away from the man.

"I'm sure you are," came the dry reply. The man's eyes turned up the road to where the Prince sat on his horse. "Just as I'm sure that he's the little princeling." The man snorted derisorily as Duncan bridled at this, then his face darkened. "Why do you follow him?" The question was unexpected, an invitation to discourse when he expected threats.

"Because he's the one true King of Scotland," replied Duncan.

"And that matters to you? Why? You're Immortal, what do you care who rules here?"

"Because I'm a Scot. I don't expect you to understand. You're English."

"Don't be impertinent," the man said sharply. "I was old in this land before there was such a thing as English and Scottish. We are Immortal. We have our own loyalties and they are not to mortal Kings." Duncan looked at the man's uniform, torn and stained with blood.

"Fine words from a man who wears an English uniform and swears loyalty to the English throne."

"My loyalty is to my men," the Colonel replied. "When your Jacobites destroyed our village, you made your war with the King our war. We're not interested in who rules Scotland, we wanted revenge for our homes and crops, for the friends and loved ones we buried before following Rosemont and his army." Duncan heard the anger in the man's voice, the bitterness. This man should be his enemy, yet there was something in common between them. A sense of isolation, perhaps, of knowing they would survive when others died. The shared burden of the squire and the clan chief.

"Where are your men now?" he asked. The Colonel glanced deliberately from side to side and Duncan saw the gentle movements in the forest, behind the greenery. So, it was a trap after all. They just hadn't walked into it yet. "How does this end?" he asked. The Colonel stared at him for a moment.

"That depends," he said slowly.

"On what?"

"You. Where are you going?"

"I'm not telling you that!" said Duncan. The Englishman did not bother to hide his exasperation when he snapped his reply.

"To gather the Clans for another slaughter or to let it be?" There was something in his voice, something behind the question that made Duncan answer honestly.

"It's over. We're taking the Prince to a safe place. We need to get him out of Scotland before the English catch up with us." The Englishman nodded.

"I should arrest you all and hand the Prince over to my Generals. But my men aren't hardened soldiers like yours, they're farmers and they've had their fill of killing. I have no wish to involve them in another bloody fight that will cost more of their lives. And I suspect you and I would have to face each other before it was done. Explaining away your Quickening would take some doing."

"If you won," said Duncan, stung by the Colonel's rude assumption that he could best the Highlander.

"I'd win." It wasn't an idle boast or bravado. The man's voice carried the surety of his belief that MacLeod was no match for him. But there was resignation in the voice as well. The man simply didn't want a fight. "I just want to get my people home so that they can heal and rebuild what they can of the lives that you and your Prince destroyed. I would love to see him meet the headsman's axe for what he's done, but I will not risk another innocent life over him. A lifetime in exile awaits your princeling and I suspect that what might have been will be punishment enough. Take him and go." Duncan's face showed his surprise.

"What?" asked the Colonel. "Are you so eager to shed more blood, to see more of your friends die? They don't come back, MacLeod. Nothing you do brings anyone back. Remember that." He pulled on his reins and drew his horse to the side of the road, standing in the saddle. "Let them go," he shouted to the unseen soldiers, "there's no one of any importance here." He turned and smiled sarcastically at Duncan. "Unless you want to make an issue of it."

Duncan glared at him, then turned and waved at the waiting horsemen, hoping that the Englishman's words hadn't carried that far. It seemed not, because the Prince and his escort rode slowly forward, staring warily about them. As the Prince drew level with the Colonel, it seemed for a moment as if the Englishman was about to say something, but thought better of it. Instead, he seemed more interested in the wild flowers growing at the side of the path than the horses and riders passing him by. Duncan waited until the others were almost out of sight before he made ready to follow them. He urged his horse close to the Colonel.

"We'll meet again," he promised. The Englishman held his gaze levelly and it was the Highlander who looked away first.

"Don't pick a fight you can't win," said the Colonel, matter of factly. Duncan rode away without looking back. With luck, they'd reach shelter by nightfall. The land around looked familiar. He wondered how far they were from Ceirdwyn.


Paris, 1999

"It's been a long time," said the stranger. "A lot of people have lived and died since Culloden, MacLeod. Is it still an issue between us?" Duncan shook his head.

"No," he said. "Like you say, Culloden was a long time ago. But I never did catch your name." The man smiled and closed his eyes. Duncan would have sworn that he made the smallest bow as he held out his hand.

"I am Anselm," he said. Duncan's hand froze in mid-air and then he withdrew it. "Was it something I said?" asked the stranger.

"Who you are," replied Duncan. "You used to be a plantation owner before the Civil War."

"Many of us were." The smile was gone from the man's face. His eyes bored into Duncan, searching for intentions. "What of it?"

"You had a slave called Juliette. One of us." The man's face was a mask, but at the mention of Juliette's name, there was a flicker. Duncan wasn't sure what reaction he had provoked.

"Is she still alive?" asked Anselm.

"Yes," said Duncan, " and she's looking for your head." A strange look passed over the man's eyes, sadness mixed with resignation.

"It would be better for her if she didn't pick a fight she can't win," he said. "But I'm glad she's alive." Anselm made to walk away, but Duncan put his hand out and pushed him back.

"She knows you're in Paris. And she will be coming for you," he said. Anselm's face hardened and he knocked Duncan's hand away.

"Then she will die," Anselm said, "and so will you if you get in my way. Take my advice, stay out of things that don't concern you." He brushed past Duncan and went out into the street. Within seconds, he had vanished and Duncan went inside the church. Liam Riley was standing at the altar, inspecting it. He turned as Duncan approached.

"Duncan, good to see you," he said. "Ah, the books. Thank you very much," he added, taking them from Duncan. "Did you know that feller?" he asked.

"Yes," said Duncan, "we'd met before."

"Oh," said Liam. "That has a kind of 'and you shouldn't have met again' ring to it."

"I don't know," said Duncan. "He wasn't what I was expecting."


Across the river, Amanda was driving the head barman at The Sanctuary into a Gallic frenzy as he tried to replenish his bar at the same time as the owner was trying to stocktake.

"Can't you tell her to leave me in peace?" he asked the man sitting at the counter drinking coffee and reading a newspaper.

"I'm not the owner, Pascal," replied Nick. "She is. And she never does what I tell her anyway." Amanda smiled to herself at this and carried on counting bottles. Pascal was trying to work out if he could plead justifiable homicide when his employer stood bolt upright, turning to look at the door as if waiting for someone to walk in.

Uh oh, thought Nick.

"Duncan!" said Amanda, as the door opened. "What a pleasant surprise. Let me see, it's been all of, what, two, three hours since we last met?" Duncan tilted his head at her and waited for a moment. "Something wrong?" she asked, reading his body language.

"Possibly," said Duncan. To the barman's relief, his employer seemed more interested in the newcomer than in stocktaking, so he was happy to make fresh coffee all round and let them go off and talk. Anything to get her out from behind his bar.

"So talk," said Amanda, when they were sat at a table in the corner of the room.

"One of my old students was waiting at the barge when I got back," he started.

"Juliette?" asked Amanda.

"Yes," said Duncan. "How did you know?" Amanda looked almost apologetic.

"Because you don't have a good track record in that department, darling. Do I need to go on?" There was a pause. Amanda saw that she had hit a nerve. She had never known Jean-Philippe de Lefaye or Devon Marek, but she had known Richie and Danny Cimoli and she knew that, for different reasons, all were dead. Of all of Duncan's students, Juliette had been the obvious choice. "What did she want?" asked Amanda, brightly, trying to pick up the mood.

"You know she was a slave?" Amanda nodded. "She's after the man who owned her. He was an Immortal."

"I thought you said that was Morgan Walker?" she said. "He dropped out of sight last year," she continued when he nodded, "I don't think he's in Paris."

"He's dead. Methos killed him." Amanda looked startled at this.

"He must have gone out of his way to annoy Methos. It's not like him to get into a fight if he can avoid it."

"He did. Anyway, it's not Walker she's after, it's someone called Anselm. Have you ever come across him?" Amanda sat back and gave him a long, hard look.

"You're not serious."

"Very," he said. "He's in Paris and Juliette is determined to find him."


"Why?" said Duncan. "He was her owner. He kept her as a slave and didn't tell her what she was. He was going to wait until he was ready and then take her head." Amanda shook her head.

"No, that doesn't sound like Anselm."

"You know him," said Duncan.

"Yes, darling, I know him. And trust me, he isn't the kind to kill defenceless women."


England, 1306

As she ran out from the shelter of the trees, her heart both sank and soared, if such a thing was possible. The abbey was tantalisingly close, but she still had some way to go to reach it and she was exhausted. Behind her, the sounds of pursuit made her cast aside any thought of rest and she picked up her pace, desperately trying to reach the door to the chapel before her pursuers caught up with her.

Beneath her cloak, her sword seemed like a leaden anchor and the temptation grew strong to cast it away, but she knew she could not bring herself to do that. The Sheriff's men would be as exhausted as she was. Had her pursuers been on horseback, she would have had no chance of outdistancing them, but they were on foot and she was making good time on them, weighed down as they were by the cumbersome armour they wore. She kept running, ignoring the burning ache in her lungs, the sharp stones in the road that cut through the soles of her sandals.

"There she is!" She knew without turning that the soldiers had cleared the edge of the forest and could see where she was making for. "Stop her!" She had reached the entrance to the chapel when she was hit by two sensations simultaneously.

A heavy blow hit her in the shoulder, the precursor to a searing pain, driving her forward and off-balance as she went flying through the door.

And there was an Immortal somewhere close.

She staggered forward into the chapel, relieved to see a young novice standing at the altar, seemingly arranging flowers.

"Sanctuary!" she cried, running halfway up the aisle before collapsing. The novice could see the crossbow quarrel protruding from the woman's shoulder. She was about to run for help when the soldiers burst through the door. The Serjeant pointed at her.

"Grab her!" he said. One of the soldiers seized hold of the novice while the Serjeant and the other two advanced on the woman lying on the floor.

"Well, my pretty," said the Serjeant. "Run you to ground at last, haven't we?"

"This is Holy Ground," said the woman, trying to crawl backwards away from the advancing soldiers. "I claim sanctuary." The Serjeant grinned ferally and shook his head.

"Not a chance," he said, reaching for her. "You're coming with us."

"What is the meaning of this?" The voice thundered around the confined space, echoing off the dressed stonework. The soldiers looked up from their prey to see the Abbot himself bearing down on them, still carrying the hoe he had been using to till the soil in the gardens. "I said what is the meaning of this? Answer me, on your souls!" he shouted, the rage in his voice writ large on his face. The Serjeant cursed under his breath. This wasn't supposed to happen.

"This thief has been stealing from the Sheriff's tax collectors as they make their way back to the town," he replied. "We laid in wait for her, but she escaped us back on the road and ran here."

"Sanctuary!" said the thief. She had propped herself up against one of the pews by her uninjured shoulder. "You can't let them take me. This is Holy Ground." The Abbot rested his weight on his hoe.

"She claims sanctuary," he said. "I cannot refuse those who seek the shelter of God's house." The Serjeant stared at him.

"The Sheriff's not going to like this," he said. The Abbot straightened.

"Are you threatening me, my son?" he asked. The Serjeant backed away at this. "Now, this woman had claimed sanctuary. For as long as she remains here, she is assured the safety of God's house. You tell the Sheriff that." The Serjeant and the Abbot held each other's gaze for a long time, then the Serjeant looked away and walked out, followed by his men. The Abbot spoke quickly to the novice. "Mary, look out of the door. Have they gone?" She quickly glanced outside, then ran up to him.

"There are two of them staying outside. The Serjeant and the other are going back to the town." The Abbot nodded.

"Predictable. He won't want to face the Sheriff without having made sure that our guest is not going to escape him a second time." He turned to look at the uninvited guest. "Mary, go and fetch some bandages and water." He waited until the novice had disappeared through the door to the nunnery before helping the woman to her feet. As she stood, he spun her round, took firm hold of the quarrel and pulled it out. "You'll have to say it was just a scratch," he said. "It got stuck in your clothing." The woman nodded.

"Are you going to give me over to the Sheriff's men when they come back?" she asked.

"No, Amanda, I'm not." She was startled at this.

"How do you know my name?" she asked. He smiled.

"'A thief with the eyes of a child and a heart to match'," he said, as if quoting someone. "I hope Rebecca's faith in you isn't misplaced."

"You know Rebecca?" said Amanda. He nodded.

"On and off for about eight hundred years. My name is Anselm," he finished. Further conversation was cut short as Mary and the Mother Superior hurried from the side door. "Ah, Sister Agnes," said Anselm, "may I introduce Amanda. She will be staying with us for some time."

Several months later

Late summer, before the year started to turn into autumn, was Mary's favourite time. The fields were bursting with life, rich with the promise of the coming harvest, and the hedgerows were thick with fruit and flowers, the combination a joyous indulgence for the novices as they were sent out to gather flowers for the Sunday altar. Mary and the others would return to the abbey with the juice of whichever berries they had found staining their lips and even the reproach of the Mother Superior was tinged with her own suppressed laughter at the memories they brought to mind of her own childhood. Mary had been sent to arrange the flowers on the altar and had laid them out on the floor of the little church, entering through the door that led to the convent wing. There were three doors into the church, the one at the end of the aisle that opened to the world outside, the one on the right of the altar that led to the nunnery and the one behind the pulpit that led to the monastery. It was a settled combination, the nuns leading a reserved life of isolation and prayer within their walled enclosure, the monks tending the gardens set out in the grounds beyond.

She trimmed the foxgloves that she had gathered. She knew that they were a favourite of the Abbot, the pink hooded cowls of the flowers a glorious spire of colour. Arrayed on the altar, they were magnificent. As she worked, she reminded herself to wash her hands afterwards. For all their beauty, the foxgloves were poisonous. She had asked the Abbot why he liked something so deadly.

"Because it reminds us of God's majesty, my child," he had replied. "And of our mortality, that we must show respect even to the wild flowers. Everything is part of God's creation and therefore imbued with His wisdom and purpose."

It was not God's wisdom and purpose that had been called into question following Amanda's arrival, but Anselm's. To everyone's surprise, he had not only resisted the demands of the Sheriff that she be handed over to him, but had taken her under his wing, making her his favourite companion. To the monks, gathered together to discuss the unconventional behaviour of their abbot, one thing was clear. Anselm's interest in this newcomer was akin to a father with a daughter, or perhaps a teacher with a favourite student. Whatever it was, they agreed amongst themselves it was no concern of theirs and let it be.

The routine had become so much a part of the daily life of the community that no one made comment anymore when the Abbot and the thief were seen fighting. It had come as a surprise to the monks that Anselm was a swordsman at all, let alone such a good one. He and Amanda had been practising almost since the day she had arrived, but he still was getting the best of her every time. Mary had adopted Amanda from the moment she first arrived, sharing her cell with the newcomer and teaching her the daily orders that were so much a part of the community's life. She liked to sit and watch the swordplay. It was a surprise to her that Amanda could handle a sword, but the Abbot had seemed to expect it. Amanda had explained it to her one day, when Mary had been more persistent than usual.

"I was once rescued by a good lady, a friend of the Abbot's from a long time ago, and she taught me to use a sword." As Amanda suspected, this had been conveyed to the Mother Superior, who had made it no secret that she disapproved of the Abbot's interest in the attractive young woman, although few realised that it was for personal reasons as well as in the interests of propriety. A day later, the Abbot and the Mother Superior had taken their usual walk in the cloisters and Agnes brought the matter up for the first time.

"She's like you, isn't she?" she asked. Anselm stared ahead, his eyes fixed on the wall at the end of the cloister. He hoped for a moment of divine inspiration, but none was forthcoming. Other than to remind him that the pointing on the wall needed some attention.

"Yes," he said, finally.

"So she will remain young and beautiful whilst we all wither to dust. What is she, Anselm? What does she mean to you?" The priest stopped and turned to face her.

"She is Immortal," he said, slowly and deliberately. "She will live until someone cuts off her head. She was the student of an old and dear friend, someone whose judgement I respect immensely. It is to Rebecca that I owe a debt, not Amanda, and what I do for her I do out of my friendship for Rebecca." He looked at her, searching her face as if trying to read her thoughts. "This isn't about Amanda, is it?"

If Amanda had worried that the Mother Superior would make her life difficult, she need not have. Agnes tried hard to come to terms with the presence of a thief amongst them and found that, despite her resentment of Amanda's ways, she grew to like her as the weeks passed by. However, she could never bring herself to watch them fight, despite Anselm's reassurance that this was Holy Ground and they could do no harm to each other.

The Abbot swung in and Amanda blocked, the force of the swing and parry driving her onto her heels. This was what he had waited for. Mary watched with a sense of the inevitable as he advanced on Amanda, sword cutting a swathe through the air, then it ended as it always ended. The sword reversed, Amanda's blade deflected inwards, the step forward, hooking the hilts together and ripping the blade from Amanda's grasp.

"Damn!" shouted Amanda. "Every single time. I see it coming and I still can't stop you." Anselm bent down and picked up her sword, holding it out to her.

"Want to try again?" he asked.

"Perhaps tomorrow," she said. He shook his head.

"There won't be a tomorrow," he said. "You have to leave."

"What? Why?" she asked.

"The Sheriff and the King had a falling out." He paused. "The Sheriff lost his life over it. So, we have a new sheriff, someone appointed by the King. He arrived yesterday and he's declared an amnesty. He's emptied the castle's dungeons as a gesture of goodwill on his behalf and in the name of the King." Amanda smiled at this news.

"Well, now I can leave here, but why such a hurry? I want to stay here with you for a while longer." Anselm didn't say anything for a moment. "What aren't you telling me?" she asked.

"The new Sheriff is Ambrose de Rainault," he said. "He's one of us. And he's not exactly fond of our kind. When he first became Immortal, the first ones who found him were more interested in a Quickening than a student, so he became very suspicious. He took his first head by accident. When I found him, he still didn't know what he was, despite three Quickenings. He trusts me, but that won't extend to you. You might be better than he is, but he's the Sheriff. You have to leave. Tonight."

"And you?"

"No," he said. "I have a promise to keep. Years ago, I fell in love with a beautiful young woman and she with me. But her father didn't approve. He wanted her to marry somebody else. So she fled here and became a nun. I became a monk and that is the life we were granted. I will stay until she dies."

"Does she know what you are?" asked Amanda.

"Yes, she always has. Her father had me killed in front of her. He thinks I'm dead and that she is wasting her life away mourning me. We've been here close on twenty years."

"I'm sorry," said Amanda. There didn't seem to be much else to say. Except goodbye.


Paris, 1999

"He taught me so much," said Amanda, "and not just about swords. There was a grace about him, a love In some ways, he was the nearest thing I've ever had to a father." She stopped and looked straight at MacLeod. "He isn't the monster that Juliette makes out."

"Methos knew..." Duncan started, but she cut him off.

"Methos isn't too good with the truth unless it suits him," she said. She leant towards him across the table, her gaze clear and unwavering. "If they go after Anselm, I will go after them. Be sure to tell that to them when you see them." Duncan realised she was serious. She'd gone after Methos before when she thought she was in the right. And he knew Juliette wouldn't stand a chance against Amanda when she was fired up.

There was a long silence. "Don't tell me you're going after him?" she said. The question didn't ease the tension.

"No," said Duncan at last. "I met him after Culloden and he was... tired. Tired of war. He didn't strike me as the type. But Juliette isn't the type either. Something isn't right here. I have to find out what. Before she does pick a fight she can't win." He stood up to leave. "How good is he? Really?"

Amanda shrugged. "Seven hundred years ago he was better than you are, darling," she said. "I'd guess he's improved since then."

"I'll see you later," said Duncan. As he walked out, Amanda walked over to the bar, where Nick was on his third cup of coffee. He put down his newspaper. He hadn't read much since MacLeod had walked in. Whatever the conversation had been about, it hadn't exactly ended on an upbeat.

"What was all that about?" he asked. Amanda was still staring after Duncan when she replied.

"How much can that computer of yours find out about someone?"