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A Friend's Remains

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The morning star burns brightly in the muted luminance of a promised dawn, his only witness as he sits at the base of the monument. The stone is cold, damp with the night air, the rich smell of moss and earth wafting past on the breeze. Methos looks up at the inscription; it's too dark to read, but he knows the words by heart. He intones softly, "To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise; I never knew but one – and here he lies," as he rubs his fingers over the raised letters.

Pulling out a bottle from the inside pocket of his overcoat, Methos removes the cork, and sets the Scotch next to him on the stone. He really isn't sure why he's here, never having been much one for marking the passing of the departed at their grave. Not that he doesn't remember, he does – too many of them, their specters haunting the nooks and crannies of his subconscious, and the bleak diorama of his dreams. And yet, he finds himself here at Newstead Abbey; a furtive visit made under cover of darkness.

"Oh, Byron, how you would mock me for doing this," he says with a wry chuckle. Twenty years, that's how long since Byron's death, less than the space of time between their last meetings in this world. "Though I hope at least you are grateful that I fulfilled your wish to be laid to rest with Boatswain. Maybe I'll tell you how I made that happen on another visit."

Methos picks up the bottle, swirling the contents in a circular motion. "I'm a doctor again, and 'Doc' again as well. I rather like that, though I'd probably deny it if you called me on it. I'm needed, and more than that, accepted. Having an Immortal as their physician isn't the strangest thing my associates have ever had to deal with." Lifting the bottle to his lips, he takes a swig of the fiery liquor before pouring a bit onto the stones. "They're making a movie about you – Lord Byron, Vampire Slayer. One of the most lauded Shakespearean actors of the day has been cast to play you, and a bevy of beautiful women, of course. How you would have reveled in the irony of attending the premiere."

Hanging his head, he stares at the ground, remembering a young Lord Byron at the height of his genius, and what he had meant to Methos in those heady days of poetry and licentiousness. "I should have tried harder to save you, to make you see that there was more to your future than the dark cold emptiness you feared. But I let you take the easy way out. And I've had ample time to think on it; death by cop, they call it. Perhaps it was the easy way out for me as well." Twenty years ago, when MacLeod and Byron had met, the outcome, most likely, had been inevitable. But Methos had no illusions about his own motives; trying to find his place again as the Highlander's friend, regaining his trust, dealing with the fallout from his past. It had been a balancing act, but it was Byron who had fallen.

Silent now, he looks to the coming dawn, and in the quiet, a nightingale's song heralds night's end. He wouldn't have much more time before the rising of the sun, and the rounds of the security guard. He splashes more of the whisky onto the stones next to him, and then takes another swallow for himself. "Your passing was far too soon, my friend. You were always reaching for the stars, Byron. If you'd only given this world a little more time, they could have been yours. The world has changed, legends and myths walk amongst us. Oh, the poetry you would have written…. It is a loss, those words that will never be. I feel that loss most keenly on nights like these. And, perhaps, in the end, that is why I'm here—I think I needed you to know that."



Notes: Byron had a great love of animals, most notably for a Newfoundland dog named Boatswain. When the animal contracted rabies, Byron nursed him, albeit unsuccessfully, without any thought or fear of becoming bitten and infected.

Although deep in debt at the time, Byron commissioned an impressive marble funerary monument for Boatswain at Newstead Abbey, larger than his own, and the only building work which he ever carried out on his estate. In his 1811 will, Byron requested that he be buried with him. The 26-verse poem Epitaph to a Dog has become one of his best-known works, but a draft of an 1830 letter by Hobhouse shows him to be the author, and that Byron decided to use Hobhouse's lengthy epitaph instead of his own, which read: "To mark a friend's remains these stones arise/I never knew but one — and here he lies." ~ via Wikipedia