“I’m not denying that I would prefer it if you were a younger man,” Gerard said solemnly. “But that can’t be, and it’s the ‘you’ that’s important, not your age. Yes, so Damon Ich is younger and beautiful, and could theoretically be any age he wanted to be, but he still isn’t you. I admire him a lot and I’m grateful to him and his family for saving my life more than once but I don’t love him like I love you.”
That hit Timonthy like a slap in the face. He hadn’t expected it and he didn’t know how to respond.
“Why?” he asked.
“Why what?” Gerard frowned.
“I wondered why or how you could love me?” Timonthy said.
“It just happens, doesn’t it?” Gerard said simply. “I’m not sure there is any logic or reason to it.”
“That is how it was for me too,” Timonthy agreed, “so neither of us should see Stolid as a threat. He is just a man who needs good friends.”
The wind rustled through the dry grass gently at first with a soporific effect. Timonthy considered his good fortune with a sense of bewilderment. He was a changed man.
The lake and the sky were changing colour together, from a light azure to a menacing purple as if they matched his changing emotions from the innocence of independence to the responsibility of relationship.
“The weather changes quickly around here,” he commented. It reminded him of the sudden downpour they had experienced presumably when they had been moved from Scotland to Herron to cover up the change of scenery.
Gerard stood up and moved to the water’s edge where tiny ripples of water lapped his feet like newly hatched snakes desperately trying to survive. He craned his neck and looked at the lake.
“I think that is Stolid swimming out there, It’s difficult to see but I’m fairly sure he’s on his own.”
Timonthy wondered why this was relevant, and then he thought of Peter who never saw the rain. Perhaps Stolid too could affect the weather with his moods and this weather did not look promising for a reconciliation. He felt suddenly sorry for Johnathon.
It grew darker and the sun dipped between rapidly brewing clouds. They grew and mutated quickly: grey and white, orange and purple, bubbling like a witch’s potion. The lapping waves grew larger and Gerard stood further back. He looked at the beach behind them with a nervous glance.
“We ought to move,” he suggested.
Timonthy began to walk towards the boats.
“No, not that way…” Gerard said reaching down to pull the boats further away from the water. “Not ‘til we know how bad the storm will be. Stupid, really! It won’t improve his temper, swimming against these waves.
Timonthy followed Gerard as he walked back to where the beach met the beginning of the terraced cliffs and then as Gerald began to climb he followed him.
“Do you really think the storm will be that bad?” Timonthy asked confused.
“I don’t know,” Gerard said briefly. “Just that I’ve never known Stolid lose control like this before so I’m being wary until things start to subside.”
“He will drown if he is swimming in this,” Timonthy said staring at the boiling grey maelstrom that the lake had become.
“No one can help him but himself,” Gerard commented shortly.
“What about Paris and Yan? They are on a river somewhere,” Timonthy was beginning to panic.
“Safer than the lake, I think,” Gerard considered. “Hopefully Peter or Elena will be home soon to protect their people.”
They reached the third level of steps and turned around to look. The beach they had been sitting on was gone. Instead waves hit against the soft green flanks of the hill with no resistance. “Let’s keep going,” Gerard advised. The boats were catching on the gravel of the beach but then they too set loose like helpless fish.
It was good advice as the ground was crumbling at its base, melting into mud and sliding away like hot chocolate, Timonthy thought back to the beginning of his adventure, sitting and drinking hot chocolate in his comfortable home so far away now. He hoped Gerard was right that Paris was safe but he was angry now. Sorry for Stolid but not enough to forgive him for this fit of petulance, or anger or lack of control, whatever it was.
They climbed five or six of the giant steps grasping at loose weed and grass to pull their weight up. “Can we rest for a moment?” Timonthy panted. The howling wind whipped his breath away just as he needed it. They had a good view of the lake now from above and it didn’t look any prettier.
Timonthy looked across to the island where he once had seen a summer house and Stolid resting there apparently without a care in the world. When had that happened? The past or the future? He wondered what Johnathon had said to cause this tumult.
Now he couldn’t even see the shallow patch of land beneath the grey spewed up waves. He thought he could still see Stolid’s head tossing and turning in the water, but it was no more than a spot at this distance.