the dark side of the sun

I may not always know what's right, but I know I want you here tonight.

Time was immaterial when you had infinite amounts of it at your disposal. Mallos had a better grasp of time than most of the originals, being the youngest and therefore (for some reason) the most grounded in mortal matters, but he still frequently emerged from his life to regard its passage with a blink of bemusement. Mortal lives progressed at dizzying speeds when days felt like hours and weeks felt like days. Until very recently, in Mallos’ head, Tristan was still twelve and Morgana was still nineteen. It was only when Mordred had forced through a new chapter that those rose-tinted versions of reality had been hauled back to the present day.

Gawain, it seemed, had been lost to them only a year or so ago, in the brutal winter which had cost Mallos not only his eldest grandson but also his daughter. And yet, here he now was – not the grinning teen of his family’s stories, but a young man aged beyond his years. Another reminder that time continued ticking even when gods failed to notice it doing so.

Gawain sat up, shunting around to provide more space. Mallos shifted forward slightly so that his back was no longer against the roses, feeling the back of his shirt snag against a thorn as he moved. He plucked a leaf from the nearest bush and rolled it between his fingers, listening patiently while Gawain verbalised his wandering thoughts. He responded to the suggestion that he might have been disturbed with a single shake of the head, but otherwise remained quiet and impassive, letting the young man talk himself out. All of it struck a cord which was unsettlingly close to home. Mallos understood, on a little too personal a level, what it was like to vanish from society for years and then be plunged headfirst back into it. He had experienced déjà vu in places broadly untouched by time, and had felt his head spin at the overwhelming sights and sounds of the twenty-first century. The simple, rural communities he’d known had been replaced by sky-high bustling cities which assaulted every sense. Shaman, in the early years, had been a comforting in its simultaneous familiarity and newness.

Silence fell, not uncomfortably. Mallos waited another moment, considering his words. Mordred’s violent betrayal had left honesty feeling like a dangerous game, but Gawain had given every sign of deserving no less.

“I was locked underground for a thousand years.” He said eventually, with a little shrug. That much was common knowledge; if Gawain didn’t already know it, he’d’ve found out sooner or later anyway. “Coming back and finding your place again is hard. Sometimes you end up in a different role to the one you expected. Sometimes it’s better.”

The leaf was disintegrating between his fingers. Mallos discarded it and reached into his pocket to extract a piece of blu tak, which he subsequently started to remould.

“I’ll always come if you ask for me.” He lifted his eyes from the blu tak to meet Gawain’s briefly. “You’re my grandson. That’s my job.”
I've learned enough to know I'm never letting go
Photography by Raul Soler

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