Scorched earth and body-laden fields; Skyfall drank it all in, hungry, and new roots grew out of its old bones. Ash and blood made good fertilizers.
The last Bond had gone, and he had taken the bodies with him—not like in the old days, when they would have been buried at the edges of the property. Still, when the old caretaker prowled around afterward, the path of his patrol grew smoother, less liable to trip him up over rocks that hadn’t seemed to be there a moment ago.
There was enough left behind from the battle that it would be a long while before Skyfall had to stoop to stealing fallen drops from a scraped knee.
The next time the last Bond came back, he brought someone with him. This person scraped bits of Skyfall’s earth into vials, walked the line of the entire property, and helped load the decaying bits of wood and stone from the shattered house into a big truck.
“Never thought I’d see you doing manual labor,” the last Bond commented.
“Then you’ve clearly never visited the Q Branch garage,” the visitor returned.
They stayed only a few days, but after they left, others came. A new, strange house went up, its walls layered like an onion, and people arrived to put people things in it. Even better, plants took root in the soil: oats, carrots, potatoes, apple and pear trees. Someone sprinkled dried blood over the earth, and it wasn’t as good as fresh, but Skyfall had made do with worse.
When the world burned with heat and ice, the land around it withered, but Skyfall’s moors withstood their challenges, as they had for centuries since they had linked their fate with the Bonds. Blood and earth, stone and bone: the two lines could only end entwined.
“I told you,” the last Bond said when he returned. He brought two horses with him, and a donkey, and the man from before.
“This is scientifically improbable,” his companion complained. “There’s no reason your bolt-hole should have survived while mine went up in flames.”
That was all they said before plucking ripe red apples from the trees, gorging themselves.
Afterwards, the companion brightened. “I shipped the parts for a self-sustaining network here; if we can figure out a power source…”
“First food, then wind power,” the last Bond said.
More came: friends, who brought family and animals with them, and enemies, who didn’t get very far. Armed attackers twisted their ankles in holes that hadn’t been there a moment ago, found themselves tangled in brambles, frightened the grouse into taking flight, and generally found themselves on the wrong end of a rifle quite quickly.
The last Bond buried the slain at the boundaries, as was proper.
“You know those thorns are a centimeter longer than they were this morning?” his companion asked.
“I’m not complaining, but if we can figure out how to do it, Moneypenny would probably like her own semi-sentient bit of property down the way.”
“Do all of them like blood so much? Or do some of them like, say, milk?”
“There’s always a sacrifice.”
A lot of things happened that winter, many of them silly and useless, some of them meaningfully arcane. The upshot of it all was that as spring dawned, Skyfall could feel, for the first time in centuries, a neighbor.
Over half of their people moved to Evesound, young and lively. A raggedy herd of cows wandered near and was tamed; perhaps Evesound did indeed like milk.
The next year, Tannerhold sprouted up, calm and steady, its lands kept trim by its sheep.
They got into a rhythm, then, of sprouting off and regrowing like garlic cloves from a bulb. And when they had blood to spare, from butchery or from battle, they knew where to send it.
Skyfall, long a lone wolf, became surrounded by lands that loved it.
“We have a rhyme,” the last Bond said. “‘Blood and earth, stone and bone; the two lines can only end entwined.’ Silva really could have killed me here; maybe that’s what I wanted by bringing him. But I’m glad he didn’t, what with the end of the world.”
“So when you die, Skyfall dies?”
“We generally staved this off by having children. Men aren’t immortal, but a family can give it their best shot.”
“Do you seriously think you don’t have a family?”
“Not one by blood.”
“Sometimes blood isn’t the most important thing.”
They went on holiday to the sea, the last Bond and his aged companion, and soon after they returned the last Bond passed. His companion buried him in the kirk as was proper; those old bones were Skyfall’s bones.
It should be dying without a Bond to keep it; instead Evesound warmed it from the south, Tannerhold from the east, Branchhouse from the west, and all the rest from farther borders.
Kinship through shared toil; earthlines instead of bloodlines; families of choice.
A brave new world. And Skyfall would live in it.