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01 January 2008 @ 01:43 am
(It's Jan. 1 where I am & I'm thinking to sleep most of the day, so I'm posting it now.)

* Title- Avonhawke
* Author- entropy_house
* Rating -Two men are substituted for a man/woman romantic couple, but it's about at the same level of non-sex as the movie- PG, I think.
* Fandom/claim Characters from the Blakes 7 universe take over roles in the movie Ladyhawke
* Pairings - Blake/Avon (although there is no nookie)
* Summary - ReaLife kept me from doing anything clever (didn't get to START until Dec. 22), so basically I rewrote Ladyhawke. If you haven't seen the movie, this will spoiler you for nearly every scene. As a large part of the movie's charm for me lay in slowly figuring out what was happening, I won't give you a proper summary.

Ladyhawke is a fantasy involving a heroic knight who rebels and his lover who has no choice but to follow him, but who would follow anyway (they are kept close but unable to consummate their love), a good-natured thief, a failed priest who seems to have special insight, a wicked and insane despotic ruler who desires the hero's lover, and the despot's savage knight minion.

Blake's 7 is a science fiction series involving a heroic high-class citizen who rebels and his unofficial second in command who has no choice but to follow him, but who would follow anyway (albeit complaining the whole time) (they are kept close but unable to consummate their love due to TV at the time- it was fairly obvious to fans that they were infatuated with each other), a good-natured thief, a failed telepath who comes up with a lot of semi-religious platitudes, a wicked and insane despotic ruler who desires the hero's lover, and the despot's savage high-class citizen minion. (There are a few other main characters, but I dispensed with most of them except for Zen, the computer that runs Blake's spaceship. Zen becomes the knight's horse, Goliath.)

"Easy, Zen." The black knight's charger danced in place, tossing his proud head and flinging his heavily feathered feet in the air. He was responding to Blake's own excitement as they listened to the klaxon of distant bells, a cacophony unlike the normal ringing for services. "Someone has escaped from Aquila's dungeons," he whispered. His sad eyes brightened as he adjusted his balance without thought. He lifted his right arm, bringing the hawk he held closer to his face, heedless of the danger from the sharp beak. "If he can get out, then I can get in. Go, find him for me." He flung his arm upward sharply. The hawk screamed and captured the sky, rising ever higher, circling and then arrowing towards the distant walls of the city of Aquila.


Captain Travis knelt, awaiting his superior's pleasure. With a rustle of cloth-of-gold and fine linen, the Bishopress of Aquila turned from her examination of prospective altar boys and, with a negligent wave of her extravagantly ringed hand, gave him permission to rise.

"Your Grace, I must report that a prisoner has escaped."

Servalan frowned. "No. I must have misheard you. No one escapes. It would set a precedent, Travis, one which you cannot afford."

Travis said, "It was only a petty thief. We could always hang someone else in his name."

"And be made fools when this thief-has he a name-brags to his friends? Travis, you expand my definition of stupidity."

Travis bowed his head further, the tendons visibly taut as he kept his reply respectful. "The thief is Vila Restal, known as the Ferret. He must have drowned in the sewer. What's one sewer rat, more or less?"

"Great storms announce themselves with a simple breeze, Captain, and a single rebel spark can ignite the fires of rebellion. I want his body, live or dead, brought before me."

"Yes, your Grace."


The Ferret was tired after escaping and eluding pursuit by fleeing to the woods -he didn't like the woods, there were no people there to rob for one thing. Still he was very pleased with himself. "No one can hold the Ferret! There isn't a dungeon I can't escape if I'm scared enough." Vila thought back to his insane and demanding cellmates, and the stench of terror all around, and the creak and pop of vertebrae on the gibbet. He shivered. "And I was scared enough, Lord, as you well know." Then he brightened and rubbed his hands gleefully. "But I'm free!" He lost his smile again. "And cold. And hungry. Oh, well, back to work. I wouldn't steal from poor people if it weren't for the fact that the rich tend to have swords and crossbows.

"And besides, the poor expect to be robbed. Better to be robbed by an honest thief like myself just trying to keep body and soul together than having it all go for taxes to buy uniforms and horses for the guards. Wouldn't they rather buy me wine? I won't go trampling down their fields or dragging off their young daughters." Vila looked thoughtful. "Unless they had nice legs and wanted to be dragged, that is."

Vila acquired most of the necessities of life rapidly, but he needed one more thing to make his happiness complete. Well, two more things, but for some reason, getting a girl was more difficult than getting drunk. Vila preferred the easy way whenever possible. He sauntered into an inn's courtyard, feeling positively expansive. He'd gone far too long without a drink and without people patting him on the back and swearing life-long brotherhood-well, until the hangover set in. He attracted the innkeeper's attention with a tossed coin, courtesy of an inattentive guard who had been foolish enough to let his purse hang at his side. He leaned against the barrel, wine mug in hand, and turned to size up his audience. Simple country folk, dour and drab. He'd brighten their dull lives with his cityman's eloquence and style.

He wasn't quite sure how it happened, but his offer to treat anyone who would join him in a toast to celebrate his escape from the dungeons of Aquila led to his capture by a troop of guards. It wasn't fair. Why should guards be drinking at such a miserable hovel of a country inn when they had all the money in the world and all the wine cellars of Aquila open to their merest sneer?

Worse luck, he made captain Travis angry. His life flashed before his eyes as a sword raised to cut off his head. There were several things he regretted having done, and many others he regretted not having done more often. "God help me!" he cried out, not remembering a proper prayer short enough for the occasion. At least this was heartfelt. And then a miracle occurred, further reinforcing the Ferret's belief that God loved thieves so long as they were harmless, amusing, and never stole from the alms' box -- well, unless they were really hungry.

Out of nowhere a knight appeared and demanded they release him. One knight against a whole troop? Vila took to his heels and silently promised God out of gratitude that he'd steal a candle to light for the knight's soul, Blake, he heard the captain of the guard call him that as Vila fled. Later; much, much later, he would pray for Blake's soul. He changed his mind about the candle a few minutes later when Blake galloped up behind him, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him across his saddle.


Vila grumbled as he gathered wood that evening. "I'm a thief, not a slave." He glanced resentfully back at the barn where the knight and his huge horse and his ill-tempered hawk were resting while he did all the work. He'd done everything except feed the bird, which was the only task Blake deigned to do himself. And that wasn't right either, giving it tidbits of fresh meat far too good for a bird while Vila was told to make do with a handful of meal and dried fruit.

"He didn't save me out of the goodness of his noble heart, or he'd have let me go. I bet he heard about my reputation. I bet he wants me to steal something for him. I bet I'll get drawn and quartered for it while he laughs and rides off with the prize. Well, I won't do it! I steal what I want to steal, when I want to steal, and for myself!" He flung the sticks on the ground. "To hell with him and the horse he rode in on. There's other cities besides Aquila; cities just begging for the old Ferret charm and Ferret skill. Right, I'm off." He took two steps and froze at a snap of twig. In the following silence he heard breathing.

He gulped. "Who do you think that is, men? Better to be safe than sorry, get out your sword, Pierre. We don't want trouble, Louis, so don't use your crossbow unless they force you to it. I'm a merciful man; let them run away. They don't know who they're dealing with." He began walking back towards the barn, faster and faster. "I'd better go warn the captain, you know how vicious he can be if he's disturbed. I wouldn't want him slaughtering these poor fools without giving them a chance to surrender." He broke into a headlong run, whimpering as branches slapped and caught at him, and mossy rocks turned under his feet.

He paused in relief when he saw the charcoal burner who had rented them the use of his barn, but before he could say anything the man aimed a huge axe at Vila. With ferret reflexes, Vila ducked, but before he could run, a furry blur, midnight dark and huge in the night, leaped upon the charcoal burner, snarling as it savaged his throat.

Vila leapt into the flimsy barn, shrieking for the knight, "Captain, Captain... WOLF, wolf, Captain, big, hairy monster, wolf! Captain!" Vila didn't know if the knight had fled or already been eaten by the wolf, but he wasn't going to waste time wondering. He snatched up the knight's crossbow, frantically wound it and laid an arrow in the groove, while whimpering and begging God for help and complaining about knights who were never around when they might actually be useful. He got the crossbow up and waveringly aimed it in the general direction of outside.

A hand fell on his arm. He whirled to stare at a man dressed in a shimmering silver tunic, fine silk trousers and glossy black boots skin-tight against his slender thighs. The man gazed at him calmly while Vila swallowed. He'd never seen a more obviously noble person in his life. The knight had roughly tamed curls and baggy clothing under his armor and sun-freckles across his shoulders as Vila saw when he'd undressed for sleep, whereas this man had seal-sleek dark hair and alabaster skin untouched by the faintest hint of color- like the fancy women who sometimes leaned out of windows to flaunt their untouchability unless you had the price. He didn't think anyone had this man's price. The man's dark eyes crinkled in silent amusement at Vila's open-mouthed awe as he took the crossbow from Vila's nerveless fingers and set it aside. His really quite beautiful mouth curved in a smile, and then he turned towards the barn door.

Vila regained the power of speech. "Don't go out there, lord! There's a huge, hairy wolf out there killing a man! Or maybe he's already dead, and we're next! He looked awfully hungry!"

"I know," the man said softly, and walked outside.

"PLEASE! Milord, please..." Vila stared as the man walked up to the wolf. It turned from its kill and frisked at his side like a dog, a really big, sharp-toothed dog with blood on his mouth and paws. "I'm dreaming. But..." Vila pinched himself. "Ow. I must be awake. Maybe I'm drunk, really dead drunk. But I didn't have anything to drink because there wasn't anything. So I must be asleep, dreaming I'm awake... Am I dreaming?"

The soft voice of the elegant nobleman drifted back to Vila. "You're dreaming again."

Vila whimpered and refused to look outside. If he didn't look, it wasn't real. "I don't believe it. This is not happening to me. It's just a very bad dream. I really wish I could wake up now."


The next day, Vila had regained some of his natural bounce, but he needed to talk. The knight could go all day without a word, but Vila needed to hear at least the sound of his own voice. "Last night was horrible. You remember the wolf I told you about? The one you didn't see? The one that wanted to kill me, only the charcoal burner tried to kill me, too, and I guess the wolf got jealous, so he killed him instead, if you see what I mean?"

The knight was silent, with a long-suffering look on his face. Vila persisted, "But that wasn't all! There I was in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the barn, and there was a man. Out of nowhere! A nobleman. With skin like fine porcelain, and a long nose, almost like a bird's beak. And his voice... like, like..." Vila couldn't think how to describe that smoky, silken voice, except that it made him think of sex, and he really didn't want the knight thinking about him that way, even though, really, the knight was quite handsome in a rugged, knightly way, and Vila had learned in gaol a long time ago that it could be quite nice with men, too, if they weren't going to beat you up along with it. And really, he wouldn't mind if the knight wanted him that way, but he didn't think the man thought about sex. Or getting drunk. Or stealing things. Or anything remotely amusing. The knight was boringly serious.

"His voice? He spoke?" The knight responded, a yearning in his eyes and voice that quite surprised Vila.

"Oh, yes. He told me I was dreaming. I'm not crazy! It really did happen!"

Blake smiled. "I believe you. I've learned to tell dreams from reality." He paused and then asked, "This man, did he tell you his name?"

Vila shook his head. "No, why?"

"Well," Blake said, "Maybe I'll dream of him. I've been looking for a man like that for a very long time." Vila blinked and shut up.


"I do not see the Ferret hanging on my gibbet. Why are you here, empty-handed?" Bishopress Servalan asked Captain Travis, as she looked up from the young monks she was catechizing.

Travis knelt. "Blake has returned. The Ferret is with him. I have men everywhere, searching."

"And the hawk?" Servalan turned from her pacing to stare down at Travis; her eyes wide and not nearly sane. "I will have Blake's hawk. You will bring it to me, unharmed, Captain. Your life depends on it."

Travis was silent, but his bowed head gave assent.

Servalan abruptly changed the subject. "I am told the weather has been unnatural, Captain. Drought in Palmero, floods in Outer Gaul. When I call for my due and just tribute, they say there is nothing. I do not believe them. They are all lying and defying me. Blake rouses dissent and raises defiance by his mere existence. So long as he lives and rides free, the peasants have hope. Hope is deadly, Travis."

Travis nodded. "I will locate and destroy him, your Grace."

"See that you do." Servalan held out her ring for him to kiss.


The next day, Blake was more talkative, but when Vila heard what he had to say, he was sorry the knight hadn't held his silence. "You're going to kill the Bishopress of Aquila? By yourself? Do you know how many guards and crazy monks she has kissing up to her all day long-and most of the night, if half the rumors are true. You'd never even get in the city, Sir Knight. They'd cut you down at the gate!"

"I won't be alone. When I heard Aquila's alarm bells, I knew the moment I'd awaited for two years had come. The man who could aid me had escaped."

"You don't mean me, Captain!" Vila stepped back in alarm. "I'm no knight! I've never killed anyone, and I certainly don't intend to start with the Bishopress!"

"You don't have to kill anyone; just open the doors and let me in."

"I don't want to get involved in it at all! I'm only a simple thief. No one ever relies on me to do anything because I'm unreliable. I fall asleep when I should be watching, I get drunk when I should be alert, and I steal from the wrong people all the time. Believe me, Captain; you don't want me. You saved my life, and I'm grateful, but I'm also a coward. I don't think you'd kill me for that, but if it comes down to that, then what's the point?" Vila turned and took three steps away from Blake.

There was a brief, high, singing note and then a thrum as Blake's sword embedded itself in the tree trunk next to Vila and vibrated with the force of his throw. Vila gulped and turned to face Blake. "I'll just gather some wood for the fire."


"Sir? Milord?" A little after nightfall, Vila squirmed around from his perch in a tree, and watched the elegant gentleman scrabbling inelegantly after a rabbit hiding in brambles. "Hey, up here, sir!"

The man looked up. The rabbit seized its moment and fled. "Damn," the man said, and turned to look at Vila, and at the rope binding him to the tree trunk. "You again."

"Yes, milord, it's me." Vila wiggled his fingers. "You couldn't maybe help me out here? My hands are going numb."

"To match your wits, no doubt."

Vila gave him his best pitiful look, and the man flashed a grin before producing a small, sharp knife. An instant after he released Vila, a noise distracted him. He turned back, "And how did you ..."

Vila was gone, but his voice floated back, "Thank you, milord! Please tell Captain Blake that he ties a clever knot."

The nobleman winced. "Blake will never let me hear the end of this."


Vila didn't get far before a troop of guards picked him up. He didn't think it at all fair. All his life he'd been unhappy about being unnoticed, unwanted, and now everyone wanted him, but not in a nice way. It was particularly unfair to be caught by the Bishopress's men when he was trying to do her a favor by not joining in a mad plot to kill her. Blake was wonderfully noble and forthright, and everything a knight should be, but he was quite out of his mind if he thought he had any chance at all.

But... he was an incredible fighter. And it really had felt nice, from time to time, to be with someone big and strong who would protect him, at least a little bit.

It also wasn't fair for Blake be shot from ambush while following Vila's trail. When Blake died, he'd think Vila had betrayed him. Vila had never peached on anyone and he hated that Blake's last thought would be that. But the deciding factor in Vila's decision to risk his own neck was in how insultingly loose they'd tied the gag around his mouth, as if they knew he wouldn't have the courage to shout.

He warned Blake and tumbled off the guard's horse, working at his bonds even as the battle raged. It was over very quickly. Given half a chance, Blake chopped the guards to mincemeat. He ran to Blake, but his smile of relief froze at the look of anguish on the knight's face. Blake was kneeling beside the body of the hawk. The bird had been transfixed by a crossbow bolt, and was making absurdly soft cheeps of pained protest.

"Oh, the poor thing, lord. Still, we're all right and that's..." Vila shut up as Blake looked up, glaring at him.

"Get me a clean cloth from my saddlebags." As Vila obeyed, Blake soothed the bird with his voice. "Easy, easy, it will be all right." He bundled the bird carefully in the cloth and handed it to Vila. "Take him. He must live."

"Me? I don't know anything about healing birds. Why don't we just put it out of its..." Vila closed his mouth so quickly he bit his tongue. The look Blake gave him was terrifying.

"If this hawk dies, Vila, there will be no hole deep enough for you to hide. I'll find you. Get on Zen, and follow the road. A hermit named Cally lives in a ruined castle. She can save the hawk."

Vila nodded and clambered onto the huge black horse. He didn't think the bird had a chance, but neither did he if he didn't try. Blake slapped Zen and the horse took off as if it knew the way. Vila glanced back only once. Blake was kneeling by his sword, and the look on his face... grief over a hawk? Knights were all insane, and Blake crazier than most.


The hermit was crazy, too, but then, hermits were supposed to be crazy. If they weren't then they'd be in a nice comfortable church, getting fat on tithes, instead of starving in a broken-down castle. Vila handed over the hawk to the woman, who got ridiculously upset when he told her it belonged to Blake. Then she kicked Vila out, as if Vila wanted to watch her do something messy and painful to the bird.

But when she went out to pick healing herbs in the waning afterglow following the sunset and locked the door behind her, Vila was insulted. After all he'd been through he wasn't trusted? What did the hermit think he was going to do, steal her tatty old bible? Or her jug, more like. She had the look of someone who didn't stay too long in the real world without a little alcoholic cushion. Vila should have some. It was only right, he'd ridden until he was sore, bringing Blake's bird to Blake's crazy friend.

He picked the lock and stepped into the room. He stopped. The nobleman was lying on a rough pallet, bare-chested, with furs drawn up almost to the arrow embedded
near his shoulder. The pain transfigured him. Before Vila had thought him handsome; now he realized the man was beautiful. After a long moment, the man looked into Vila's eyes. "Blake? Is..."

Unable to bear the look in the man's eyes, Vila said hastily, "The captain is well, very well, my lord. There were dozens of them, but he fought them off. Only... not before one of them shot his hawk."

The man closed his eyes for a moment. "Yes."

Vila asked, softly, "Are you flesh, or are you spirit?"

"I am ...regret."

While Vila was trying to figure out what, if anything, that meant, the hermit returned and bustled him out of the room. Vila was glad to go. He located a jug near an open firepit and took a long drink, trying not to hear the shriek that echoed among the stones of the castle. He didn't want to think about arrows shot into hawks and then pulled out of men.

By the time the hermit stumbled out, pale and ill-looking, Vila had figured it out. At least some of it. "Blake is the wolf, isn't he?"

Cally looked up at him, and he could see her start to deny it. Instead she took the jug from his hand and swallowed deeply. "What do they call you?"

"Vila Restal. Vila the Ferret."

"Blake trusted you, so must I, for their sake. " Cally sighed and looked back into the castle. "His name is Kerr Avon. His family is very old, and very rich, and more than a little... odd. His father died in a senseless battle in some foreign place leaving Avon the sole heir and freeing him from the monastery he'd entered as a child." She shook her head. "I'm told his father ordered him to devote himself to God because he was... unusual... even as a small boy.

"After he left the monastery he came to Aquila to visit his cousin, Anna. I will never forget the first time I saw him." The color rose in her cheeks.

Vila looked down, and pretended the heat of the fire was responsible for his own flush at the memory of kissable lips and a silver-clad body, oh, and those boots...

Cally laughed as if she could read his mind. "I see he affected you as well. I don't think anyone who met him was ever quite the same. Even Her Grace, the Bishopress, was obsessed with him."

"The Bishopress loved him?" He'd once heard a rumor that Servalan had a heart, but even the man who told him hadn't believed it.

Cally shook her head. "She thought she did. What she really wanted was to own him, and he knew it. He refused all her offers of power and wealth. He might not have, because basically, he is a rather greedy and vain man." Cally smiled ruefully. "But he had learned what true love was. He had already met the Captain of the Guard, Blake."

"I would have run away if the Bishopress wanted me." Vila remembered the glimpse he'd once caught of her beautiful face and mad eyes while he'd been working a holiday crowd outside the cathedral, and he shuddered. "I wouldn't have taken time to pack."

Cally's voice dropped even softer, as if she feared the wounded man could hear her through several feet of stone. "They should have, but they thought they could keep their love secret while they made preparations for a new life together. They enlisted the aid of a priest who drank to still the voices in her head. One day she heard the voices aloud, and realized too late that it was her own voice, revealing their secret to the Bishopress herself.

"Her Grace went into an insane rage." Cally took another gulp of raw spirit. "She swore that either she would have Avon or he would die. They were warned and fled Aquila. When she realized she could not capture them with her guards she... abused the powers she was given, doing that which is forbidden to all of the church regardless of our station or abilities. She called down a curse upon them, and such was the blackness of her soul, the powers of darkness obeyed." She closed her eyes for a moment. "Avon flies by day while Blake pads the night with no more sense or memory than any other brute animals. They know they love, but not why or who they are. Twice each day, at dawn and dusk, they remember and look into the eyes of love, but they can never touch."

Vila sniffled and rubbed at his eyes with his sleeve. "That's very sad. How long will the curse last?"

"For so long as there is day and night, sunrise and sunset, and for so long as they shall live." Cally leaned forward, closer to Vila, her face suddenly alit with hope. "I have prayed, prayed and
studied the heavens, these two long years and at last my prayers have been answered."

"You prayed for Avon to be shot?"

"No!" Cally took the jug from Vila's hand and smashed it into the fire which responded with a brief bright surge. "I prayed to break the curse, and I have learned the secret!"

Vila patted Cally's arm. "Of course you have. Do you have another jug?"

"I swear it is the truth! Blake can confront Servalan and break the curse!"

Vila shook his head. "Blake is going to confront Servalan all right, with his sword. And break her neck, and whatever else he can reach."

"NO!" Cally leapt to her feet. "If Servalan dies the curse can never be broken."

"Well, you can tell Captain Blake he can't do it. I'm not arguing with the man."


In her courtyard Servalan poked through a pile of bloody pelts with a lance-tipped ceremonial pole. "None of these is the wolf I want."

The trapper leered at the Bishopress. Anyone watching might have wondered why he was allowed the liberty, but then the only ones watching were her bodyguard who knew her attraction to violence barely leashed. Had it not been coupled with a fastidious dislike of filth, the trapper might have been invited to the cathedral more often. "All wolves are alike to me. How am I to find the one you want out of the many that roam the woods?"

Servalan moved away from the reeking pile of rotting flesh. "There is a man. A noble with alabaster skin and the eyes of a hawk. His name is Avon and he travels by night. The wolf I want will be with him. The black wolf. Find Avon and you find the wolf. Kill the wolf, and bring Avon to me."

The trapper nodded. "Avon."


Vila introduced himself to Avon, feeling somehow proprietary and protective as he sat by the wounded man's pallet. After all, if he hadn't brought the hawk to Cally, Avon would have died; if you save a man's life, doesn't that mean you own a little bit of him? And he felt quite sorry for the man, now that he knew his story. Being rich and beautiful apparently wasn't everything. "Blake considers me his comrade-in-arms, you know. He wouldn't have trusted you to anyone else. 'This hawk is worth to me than all the gold in Aquila, Vila,' he said, 'He is the world to me and you are the only one who can save him. Please help me.' So, of course, I jumped on Zen-- he won't let just anyone ride him, but he recognized a master when I took up the reins-- and told the Captain not to worry, that you were as good as cured. He got on his knees and thanked God for bringing me to him, and he was still praying when I left."

Avon's look was skeptical, but amused.


When Blake rode up on Zen the next morning, Vila wondered if the horse was a person, too, clever enough to go back for its master once Vila released it but he decided not to think about it. Things were confusing enough and Zen seemed happy enough to be a horse whether or not he really was a horse. Then Avon the hawk screamed down from the sky and landed on Blake's gloved hand. Blake's face lit up in a tender, wondering smile. Vila looked away, embarrassed.

Blake's smile vanished as Cally came up into Blake's sight. He said,"So, you haven't managed to drink yourself to death yet."

Cally shook her head. "Please, listen to me, Blake."

Blake glanced at the preening hawk on his hand. "For his life I will listen, this once."

Cally didn't waste time. "I have found the answer to the curse. Three days from now, when the Bishopress hears confessions from the clergy in the cathedral in Aquila you can break it. You and Avon must confront her as men, and the curse will be broken!"

"You're either drunk or mad. Or both. You know that's impossible."

"No! In three days time it will be possible! I beg you, believe me! It will be a day without a night, a night without a day!"

"Quite mad. God has punished you for your betrayal." Blake turned Zen away from Cally.

Vila rushed up and stood at Blake's stirrup. Blake smiled at him. "I am in your debt, Vila."

"I was glad to help, Captain." Vila returned the smile. "He gave me a message for you."

Blake straightened in the saddle.

"He wanted me to tell you that he believes in you, that he has faith in you. He knows you'll do what's best."

Blake smiled again. "You may go, Vila. You've repaid me for your life."

And then Vila did a stupid thing. "Are you and Avonhawke going to Aquila?"

"Avonhawke?" Blake chuckled and looked at the bird again. "Yes. We must."

Vila cleared his throat. "I've been thinking, and I really do miss the city. You can't get decent wine out here."

Blake looked at Vila and his smile returned, and grew, reaching to light his eyes. Vila was beginning to see what Avon saw in him. "Then you'd better get your kit. We're leaving now." He looked down at his hawk and said softly, "Avonhawke."

In passing, Vila whispered to Cally, "Follow us."


From time to time, Vila tried to convince Blake that maybe Cally could be right. If she was, then there was a chance. Otherwise, he was just going along so someone sympathetic would attend Blake's funeral. But Blake wouldn't listen.

And it did seem a pity to him that Avon had no choice in the matter but to follow Blake to destruction without even knowing it. He would have to tell Avon the first chance he got, despite Blake's order to keep silent. Nearing sunset of a miserable day which bid fair to become a stormy night, Blake gave Avonhawke to Vila. "Take care of him." He paused. "Tell him I love him."


Vila was pleased with himself. The inn he'd found was bright and cheery, and even the stable had a whole roof and sturdy sides. He'd get Avon to relax and trust him, and then he'd tell Avon all about Cally's idea and Blake's plans. You could tell the man was clever; he'd know what to do. And even if he didn't, at least the secret wouldn't be burdening Vila any longer.

He put up Blake's horse and chatted to the hawk. He was so nervous thinking about Blake's plans, he had to talk to someone. "We won't be on the road much longer, Avonhawke. One way or another it's all going to end soon. I'm going to miss you, which is really strange because I never had a pet before. Not that you're my pet. Or even Blake's, really, except that you are, you know. Whether you want to believe it or not. But then, when he's a wolf, he's your pet, so that's fair, isn't it?

"I almost had a pet chicken once, but I got hungry. I like birds. I love them. Especially roasted with gravy and potatoes. And now I don't know if I'll ever feel quite right again eating a bird. What if it's someone I know? I expect I'll have to go and live on roots and berries and greens, like that hermit, Cally.

"Cally's so strange. But she's nice. I wish I knew what she meant by a night without a day and all that, but I'm sure, well, fairly sure, that she isn't insane. Not completely."

Vila looked outside of the barn. "It'll be sunset soon." He grimaced, seeing the rain coming steadily down. Then he brightened as a laughing couple ran into the inn, leaving their wagon full of goods unguarded. He darted out and snatched a handful of festival finery clothing from the wagon bed. He brought it back and draped the white on white embroidered linen shirt and the matching trousers over the rail of an empty stall. "I'll wait outside while you... change."

Vila went back out into the chill rain and huddled in the shelter of the barn door. His stomach did flip-flops at the thought of watching the hawk turn into a man. When it was dark enough that he was sure it was well past sunset, he went back into the barn.

Avon was there, dressed in the clothes Vila had left. He looked very good in white. Avon looked at Vila. "How is he?"

"Blake's well. He left you in my charge. He said that you would obey my orders as if they were his own."

Avon laughed. "Yes, I'm sure he did." Avon turned to run his hand down Zen's neck. He said, softly, "He's taking us back to Aquila to die. What do your orders say about that?" He sounded so resigned that Vila decided to put off telling him about Cally's idea until he got Avon into a better mood.

"You are to sit by a good fire, drink fine wine, and listen to cheerful music."

Avon turned to face Vila. "And that will make everything all right?"

"Well, you won't know until you try, will you?" Feeling greatly daring, Vila put his hand on the noble's shoulder.

After a moment, Avon nodded. "All right."

Vila grinned and ran to get Blake's sword; dragging the huge thing took both hands. He could never figure out how Blake not only fought with it, but had been able to throw it like a spear.

Avon grinned. "Don't tell me; Blake said you're to defend me as well as order me about?"

Vila grinned back. "He'd kill me if I lost it. This place is loaded with thieves!"

Avon plucked at his garments, which hadn't been in Zen's saddlebags the previous night, and chuckled. "Yes, I can well imagine." He followed Vila outside. It was dark and raining heavily, but light spilled from the windows of the inn, more than enough to show the pack animal loaded with wolf pelts that blocked their way. Avon stared wide-eyed at the bloody pelts, frozen in place with shock.

Vila didn't like the look of the grubby man riding the lead horse. He especially didn't like the evil stare the man gave Avon. Vila heaved the sword up, trying to keep it from wobbling, and pushed Avon back with his elbow. "Get inside!"

"NO!" Avon reached out blindly towards the pelts.

"Avon! Get inside!" Vila shoved again, and Avon shook his head as if awakening from a nightmare. He plunged back into the barn. Vila shouted at the man on horseback, "Go away! There's nothing here for you! Come a step nearer and I'll kill you!" His voice wavered, and his heart sank as the man sneered at him.

"Avon," the man said softly, and his grin widened.

"Touch him and you're dead meat!" Vila waved the sword again.

With a laugh the trapper turned and kicked his horse into a run, the pack animal following on its lead behind.

Vila let the sword droop into the mud, and wiped his face. "Well, that was unpleasant..." He turned at a noise behind him, and had to jump out of the way as a large black shape thundered past. "Zen! Avon! NO!" He watched them disappear into the rain, going after the trapper. "Blake is definitely going to kill me." He wrapped his arms around himself and sneezed. "And I'm getting a cold, too. Wonderful." He looked up at the black sky. "Why me, Lord?"


Avon returned to Vila hours later, huddled and shivering, staring blindly as he sat limply on Zen, letting the great horse choose his own path. Vila caught Avon as the man fell from the saddle. His clothes were stained ruddy. Alarmed, Vila dragged him into the shelter of the stable before anyone could see. "Are you all right?" He chafed Avon's wrists and considered burning a feather under his nose to bring him out of his near-faint, but wasn't sure whether Avon would appreciate him having saved some of the cast-off hawk feathers.

Avon stared at him and blinked. Hoarsely he replied, "Yes. It wasn't Blake. It was another black wolf. He knew me. She must have sent him."

Vila looked up in alarm. "Could he have followed you?"

Avon opened his hand and a bloody knife fell to the ground. "No."


Vila woke up warmer and more comfortable than he'd expected to be after hastily reharnessing Zen, loading Avon aboard and leading the horse out into the forest. He'd finally stopped a few hours before dawn when he was so cold and miserable he couldn't walk any further. He had quickly, while mumbling to himself and trying to rub life back into his stiffened fingers, piled pine branches on the ground to make a bed. Then he had pulled Avon close for warmth, wrapped the two of them in Captain Blake's good wool cloak and fell asleep, so tired even fear couldn't keep him awake any longer.

He sniffed. Something smelled good. He opened his eyes. A freshly cooked fish steamed on a wooden plate. Fruit, a good size piece of bread, and a large hunk of cheese lay beside it. Blake was looking down at him, smiling. "I thought you might be hungry."

"Oh, yes, I'm starving after last night!"

Blake frowned. "Last night?"

Vila got up and yawned and stretched. Blake wouldn't be happy with him if he knew Vila had let Avon run off into danger, even though it wasn't Vila's fault and it all turned out all right anyway. Avonhawke flew down with a screech, right past Blake, and landed on Vila's outstretched arm. Vila looked at Blake and blinked.

Blake's frown deepened. "What exactly happened last night?"

"Nothing! Nothing!" Vila said hastily, bringing the bird over to Blake. "It was raining, and miserable, and...and we couldn't find shelter..." Vila sincerely hoped that Cally was right about them not remembering what happened when they were animals, because Blake wolf had almost certainly seen them. He always was close to Avon, even when Vila didn't see the wolf. "So we spent most of the night walking and talking..." It had been all Vila talking, trying to get Avon to respond, but the man had remained silent. He supposed Avon hadn't seen much violence in the monastery, and probably the wolf-trapper was the first man he'd killed.

Blake sighed and stroked Avonhawke's breast-feathers lightly with the back of one finger. "I haven't heard him speak in two years. I miss the sound of his voice. Tell me, Vila, what did he say?" Blake looked at Vila. "And don't make up things merely to make me feel better."

"I wouldn't do that, Captain!" Vila said indignantly. No, I'll make up things so you don't sulk the whole day. "He was a little depressed, because of the rain, you know. I don't like rain, either. Good for crops, they say, but I'm always getting wet feet and chest colds..." Vila noted Blake's narrowed eyes, and hastened on. "Well, you know, he cursed the day you met."

Blake looked sick.

That's the way to tell a story, give them what they don't want to hear first, and then they'll eat up the rest without thinking about it. "But then... he stopped talking and I could see he was thinking about you. He smiled, the really nice kind he can do sometimes, you know..." Blake nodded and Vila went on, "He said that your love made it all worthwhile and that he had never been so happy in his life, the days you had before the Bishopress cursed you both, and he wouldn't have given up those days for anything."

Blake looked off in the distance. Softly he said, "Hawks and wolves mate for life... we weren't even allowed that."


Cally caught up with them in her rattling mule-drawn cart and Vila argued on her side, but Blake refused to listen or to wait a day for the promised miracle.

"It is going to end tomorrow," was all he would say. "I will end the Bishopress's evil life, no matter what the cost."


That night Avon looked up from rummaging through the saddlebags, looking for his knife. Vila had hidden it after the previous night's adventure. "Cally," he said in a totally
neutral tone that somehow made Vila very glad Avon didn't have a knife. "Blake won't be happy to see you."

Cally shook her head. "Help me, Avon. Blake's not giving himself time to think. If we can make him wait just one day, the curse can be broken, when there is neither day nor night."

Avon tilted his head, obviously considering her words. "You may be mad. Then again... considering the limited alternatives..." Avon sighed. "What do you expect me to do about it? I suppose I could take Zen and ride in the opposite direction from Aquila for half the night, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he'd refuse to obey me. He's never really liked me."

"We must stop Blake," Cally said.

Avon mouthed the words, 'Stop Blake', with a look of disbelief on his face. "How? Even when we could both speak as men, I could seldom sway him from any decision he made."

Vila said, "The wolf trusts you. We can trap him, and refuse to let Blake out the next day."

Avon blinked. "Mmmm... I think I may be glad to be a hawk tomorrow."


Avon watched at a distance as Vila and Cally dug the pit for the trap. He had helped in the earlier stages, but moved away from them once he sensed Blake's approach. The last thing they needed was for the wolf to become suspicious. They would have only one chance. "He's coming," Avon called as he saw the dark speck approaching across the snowy landscape.

Disaster struck as Blake headed straight for Avon, across the deceptively smooth surface of a frozen lake. Under the wolf's weight, the ice shattered. "NO!" Avon shouted, while Blake yelped in terror and clawed at the ice, making matters worse as he enlarged the hole. "Vila!" Avon ran across the ice, lighter than Blake-wolf, but his going still accompanied by ominous creaks and cracks.

"Wait, wait!" Vila shouted, nervously edging across the ice.

Cally ran past him, lighter than any of them, carrying a long rope.

Vila shook his head and stopped, shock clearing from his mind as he realized this was really happening. The wolf was screaming in panic, clawing at the ice; Avon was lying on his belly, trying to grab the wolf despite the fact that he'd be dragged into the icy water too if he succeeded; Cally was doggedly proceeding with the rope even though she couldn't possibly pull either of them to safety. "We need an anchor..." Vila looked around and snatched up Blake's sword. He thrust the sword deeply into the nearest solid ground and called to Cally.

The hermit was quick to understand and threw him one end of the rope which he made fast about the sword hilt. A second later Avon had got hold of the wolf's ruff, and Cally had Avon's legs, with the rope tied around her slender waist keeping them from going in deeper.

But they couldn't pull Blake out. Gathering all his courage and ignoring the inner voice that told him to run for his life, Vila ran over the unbroken ice to one side of Avon's path of shattered shards and went into the water. The cold was like knives. He gasped and tried to avoid Blake's kicking, clawing paws, while Avon shouted, the wolf howled and Cally muttered obscure prayers. He shoved the wolf from behind, getting pushed down and nearly drowned himself.

As suddenly as it began, it ended. The wolf lay flat on the ice, panting, his head lying across Avon's lap. Vila crawled out of the water and lay gasping, listening to his heart pound and his fingernails clatter against the ice.

Avon and the wolf crept into the fir-lined pit and fell asleep, huddled together. Vila and Cally slumped down by their fire.

None of them had the strength to complete the wolf-trap.


The next morning, Blake was brusque. He ignored Vila and Cally as he prepared to ride for Aquila, his face set and cold.

Vila looked at the hawk gliding overhead and gathered his nerve once more. "Captain, you can't do it. You'll just be getting the two of you killed for nothing!"

Blake pulled on his gloves. "You understand nothing of honor, Vila. Avon and I will die together, as is our destiny."

"Destiny!" Cally shouted. "That's the easy way out, isn't it? Just give up and die, and let Servalan laugh at you!"

Blake growled and half pulled his sword, turning towards her. If given a moment to think, Vila would have realized that Blake wouldn't actually hurt her, but he didn't have a moment. He flung himself between Blake and the hermit. Blake growled again, grabbed Vila by his shirt and flung him to the ground. And then Blake stopped, staring at the raw claw marks across Vila's chest.

"He got those saving your life last night," Cally said.

Blake sighed and pulled Vila up and into a tight hug. "I'm sorry, Vila."

Vila said softly, "Please, let's try Cally's plan. After all I've been through for you two, I don't want you to die."


Under cover of the waning hours of night, Vila slipped back into the sewers of Aquila, trying to console himself that at least it wasn't as cold as the last water he'd been immersed in. Cally and Avon would be all right, of course they would. Blake-wolf couldn't get out of the cage they'd made on a cart, and none of the guards would recognize them, and no one would mind an untamed wolf being brought into town.

Vila was depressing himself. It would work because it had to work.


Blake paced impatiently in the alley, gazing on the distant, but not so very distant, walls of the cathedral, lit by morning sunlight.

"It will be soon," Cally said.

Blake shook his head. "No. I can see that now. You wanted this so desperately, you've imagined it."

Cally caught at Blake's sleeve. "Just be patient a little longer."

"I will have only one chance at Servalan. If I don't kill her by the time Mass is concluded, she'll vanish behind a protective wall of bodyguards again. Avon and I... we've been living on borrowed time. I think perhaps God let us live and suffer for this moment."

Cally took a sharp breath. "God doesn't bargain or use people!"

"No? God gives us free will to choose good or evil. I choose to destroy Servalan's evil."

"And what of Avon?" Cally cried desperately. "Is he to go on alone, without even an enemy to hate when you are slain killing the Bishopress?"

Blake stroked the hawk's breast feathers tenderly, then placed him on a makeshift perch formed from one of the bars of the wolf's cage. He handed Cally a sharp knife. "No. He wouldn't want that. If the cathedral bells ring as usual, it will mean I've failed. I know now that you were always our friend. Avon... you can put him to rest without pain or fear. I trust you to do that."


Vila was never quite sure how he did it, but he found his way through the sewer to a grate inside the cathedral, and from there he crept with all the cleverness of a ferret back to the great doors, unlocking them a bare instant before Zen's hooves crashed them open. Vila's hands were aching and his ears ringing as he watched Blake battle Travis, both of them ahorseback and clattering like an avalanche of rocks. If he had brought a horse into church... well, Travis wouldn't have had a chance at him because he'd have been ripped apart by the altar boys whose job it was to scrub the stone floors.

But only another noble dared attack a noble, so hundreds of people gave way, letting the knights whack hell out of each other up and down the altar steps. Vila wished he had someone to lay a wager with- he'd put his money on Blake. Well... half of it, anyway. Blake was noble, and strong and fearless, but Travis ... Travis was Servalan's right-hand maniac; all Aquila knew that.

Vila was silently cheering Blake on when a window was shattered by something one of the knights threw, perhaps a helmet. Vila didn't have a good view of it. Everyone looked up, shocked. That bit of colored glass cost more than any of them could earn in a lifetime. Shock turned to awe as a shadow crept across the sundisc. "A night without a day, a day without a night!" Vila said, gleefully filing the riddle and its solution away to be used to win inn bets in future, when people forgot about the eclipse. "That's what Cally meant!" He could see that Blake realized it, too.

And then someone rang the church bells in alarm. Vila didn't see why; Blake had already got past all the knights to get into the church, and who else could stop him? Blake stopped dead, went white and then turned on Travis in a fury.

It got... messy. Vila winced as Travis curled up like a salted slug in his final agonies. He reminded himself that Captain Travis would have gleefully cut off his head and then kicked it into the moat for the ducks to wonder at.

Blake disposed of the rest of Servalan's ecclesiastical guards as easily as a child handles twig soldiers. Vila never saw his eyes shift from his ultimate goal. And Servalan stared back just as fearlessly.

"You cannot harm me, Blake," she mocked. "If I die, then you damn Avon forever."

"He is free of the curse." Blake strode forward, casually killing another guard who got in his way. "His blood is on your hands, and yours will be on mine." Blake had his sword at Servalan's throat, her eyes glaring furiously at him, far too insane for fear, when a voice was heard in the now deathly silent cathedral.


Blake lifted his head and he turned, along with Vila and everyone else, to see Avon standing in the middle of the cathedral, blinking against the half-light of the eclipse. "Blake?"

Blake took several steps towards Avon, then whirled to face Servalan. "Look at him," he ordered, sword backing up his argument. Silently, with obvious reluctance which turned to fascination, Servalan obeyed, raking Avon with a gaze so lascivious and greed-filled it sickened Vila. What it must do to Avon who bore the brunt of it, he didn't care to guess.

Blake backed further away from the Bishopress. "Now, look at me!" he roared, and Servalan obeyed, her large golden eyes fixed and staring. "Now, look at us!" he shouted as he went to Avon's side.

Servalan obeyed, and the hate in her eyes was like green poison.

"The curse is broken." Vila hadn't heard Cally come up behind him. Now she put a hand on his shoulder and tears of relief filled her eyes. "I am forgiven. I can return home now."

Blake fell to his knees in front of Avon. Avon caressed his cheek, and then walked past him. He went to Servalan and gazed on her with haughty disdain. Wordlessly, he showed her the hawk's jesses, the bindings he'd worn for two years. He dropped them at her feet and turned to go to Blake.

Avon was still only a few paces away when animation returned to Servalan's frozen features.

"Blake!" Cally cried out as the voice in her mind raged a split second before Servalan screamed, "If I can't have you, no one shall!" and produced a throwing dagger, tip suspiciously darkened.

Vila didn't know how he did it, but Blake rose from his knees, whirled and threw his sword with unerring accuracy, pinning the Bishopress like some noisome insect against her gilded throne. "Avon," Servalan whispered, and died.

Vila felt even more ill, but Blake and Avon had apparently dismissed her from their minds the moment she ceased to be a threat. Blake stared at Avon. "You've cut your hair," he said.

Avon grinned and put his arms around Blake, kissing him soundly. "I love you."

Blake gazed at Avon, totally dumbfounded. "You never said so."

Avon laughed. "I thought you might have guessed by now."

Blake grinned suddenly, grabbed Avon by the arms and whirled him around while laughing. Avon protested, but without much force behind it, because he was laughing, too.

Cally took Vila's hand and started to leave the cathedral. Blake spotted them and put Avon down. For once there was color in Avon's cheeks, but Vila wasn't sure whether it was caused by lust, embarrassment, or him being spun like a top.

"Thank you," Blake said simply.

Avon grinned and kissed both Cally and Vila, which added to the general cheek color. Then he turned back to Blake. "Now, where were we?" he murmured before drawing Blake into another deep kiss. The cathedral's occupants stared at them and moved hesitantly closer to the preoccupied men-- with Servalan's evil reign ended, it would be wise to be on friendly terms with Blake.

Vila strode out of the cathedral with Cally, grinning cheerfully. "I know a very good inn that has wine that you wouldn't believe!"

"But I have no money," Cally said.

Vila shook a heavy money pouch. "Tithing was good today."

Cally laughed. "You won't get into heaven that way, Ferret."

"I can always pick the lock," Vila said.

Nico: thief of heartsvilakins on January 1st, 2008 07:38 am (UTC)
Vila makes a very good Ferret. I'm so going to have to watch this film again.
entropy_houseentropy_house on January 1st, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Honestly, there were so many scenes for his character that could have been lifted direct from B7-- including one where he's hiding and someone steps on his fingers! He has by far the best role in the movie. Except for Goliath. I love that horse.
Nico: thief at workvilakins on January 1st, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
I hadn't seen B7 as an adult when I saw it. It's surprising how many characters remind me of Vila or Avon.

one where he's hiding and someone steps on his fingers

Huh! I wonder if the writer had seen B7.
entropy_houseentropy_house on January 1st, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
The scene where Mouse hears a noise in the woods and gives orders to his imaginary soldier companions is *incredibly* similar to the one with Vila on Chenga.
Nico: appealingvilakins on January 1st, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
I am beginning to suspect an avatar here. ;-)
azdakazdak on January 1st, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
I don't know the film, but this is beautifully written. The simplicity of the style matches the fairy tale quality of the story perfectly. And I love the line "Servalan's right hand maniac"!
entropy_houseentropy_house on January 1st, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!