A/N: Hiya, coming back to the world of Eddings' Polgara and Durnik with this: The first of a few OS from my AU! The Anvil-verse, where the year is 1903, Durnik Davison is a smith in a quaint little Yorkshire village, and Miss Polgara McGrath is the schoolmistress. Garion is her orphan nephew. All the names for this shall be in Greek (transliterated).
The Anvil-verse: First Meeting
It did not happen on a special day. That is to say that as he woke up that morning, Durnik Davison did not feel the fluttery kind of electricity running through his bones that always announced a special day.
It was a morning like any other. A day like any other.
Afterwards, he would always remember it as the day "it" happened.
"It" was not something upon which Durnik reflected often. And never outside of the privacy of his sanctum sanctorum or, as he would call it, the most remote and private part of his heart. And even then, he did not try to name it, or to define it. He saw no point in doing so. It simply was, after all. And it did not bring him trouble. So why would he try to fix what was not broken? He would rather leave it be.
An eminently practical man was our Durnik Davison. He was a blacksmith in a little village like any other in the North Yorkshire countryside, where his family had been living for generations. His craft was regarded as highly competent, and he had never wanted for clients nor did he have any rival: everyone in the village went to him for their horse, their cart, anything that was made of metal. And even some things that weren't. The word in Kettlewell was that if it could be mended, Durnik would manage it. Even the people from the big house or the enormous farm of Faldor Bixby, just outside of the village would call him when they needed his help. He was a well-liked and respected member of the community, living his life by a simple motto: to always do your best in everything, and to try to do right.
Compared to this, "it" was just a small, a tiny little problem. Best not to overthink it in any way.
Of course, that small matter tended to flare up at the most inopportune times. Usually whenever something reminded him of Miss McGrath. But even that had become manageable as he had ample opportunity to learn it over the years.
He did know her given name of course – he was not that desperate – but even the idea of making use of it conjured up fantasies that he would never allow himself to consider. She was above him. Far above him. And also, he suspected, far above anyone he had ever known. She was a lady. A proper one. Not by birth, perhaps, but in the fashion that mankind everywhere used to differentiate the best from the common females of the species. There was just something about Miss Polgara McGrath that…
Not that she lorded it over anyone. No. She even seemed quite oblivious of that status. By all accounts, she was a simple woman with simple tastes. Always ready to help, kind but extremely firm when the circumstances demanded it. Well, that was the general idea, anyway. And he always tried very hard to conform his own vision of her with that one. Especially when she was near him. They were friends, after all. And that was enough. More than enough, really. Or it had to be. "It" could never be realised.
Its origins, as it happens, were quite simple. As simple as the question of a child coming from the front of the smithy, which was always open when he worked.
"D'you really think he can help us, Aunt Pol?"(1)
"The man is a blacksmith, Garion. That's his job to shoe horses. And it's not polite to talk about people as if they weren't there" she chided gently.
He had been working on something, and had to finish it first, so he barely looked at them, greeting them then saying he was with them in a few moments, before finishing his work and putting it away.
"Now then, he said turning fully towards the woman and the child, what can I help you with?"
He found himself falling directly into the bluest eyes that he'd ever seen. And they belonged to, he was sure of it, the most beautiful woman in the world. Who was saying something, and if he could just focus on her words ... Getting over it, he cleared his throat, and began again:
"I apologise, ma'am. You were saying?"
"Our old mare, Nana, needs shoeing, Mr Davison."
He winced at the name. No one here had ever called him that. That was reserved for his father, or even his grandfather.
"Ah" he replied, smiling. He was in his element, there. "Well, let's just bring her by, alright?"
He moved to the side of the room and picked up his tools. Then, he made his way to the mare, expecting to have to remove the cart as well.
"You didn't have cart?" he inquired.
"We left it at Mr Bixby's farm. He was good enough to let us leave it there."
"You came all the way from Faldor's?" 'on foot', he meant to ask. "I'm surprised he didn't simply give you his cart or send someone here with the horse"
"It was just as well this way, Mr Davison. We needed to check out the village, anyway, find out where everything was."
"And the smithy!" interjected the boy with a sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm that made Durnik chuckle.
"Is that right?" he asked the boy, really looking at him this time. He was a blond-haired, blue-eyed thing, deceptively cute he was sure. He seemed to be ready for any healthy bout of mischief thrown his way. "And what do you think about it, now you've seen it?"
"It's really hot. And dark. I thought there would be more light. And it's noisy. But I love it. Could I come visit, Aunt Pol?" he asked, turning to his parent for permission.
"We'll have to think about it, dear. And only if Mr Davison agrees"
She looked like she wanted to talk more, but he let them be. He had work to do. "Can we watch? You shoe the horse, I mean?" asked the boy.
"Sure thing, boy. But you stay right next to your aunt, alright?"
"Alright. I'm Garion, by the way. This is my aunt Pol." He claimed sunnily. What a sweet kid. Probably an orphan then, if she was his aunt. Or there on holiday? Well, he wasn't going to ask.
"And I'm Durnik. Don't say it to anyone" he whispered confidentially "but Mr Davison was my grandfather."
He spent the entire time shoeing the horse answering the boy's numerous questions with patience. As children that age are wont to, Garion wanted to know everything. His aunt – whose name he hadn't yet learnt – looked upon them with fond exasperation but kept silent. She was probably glad of the break, and Durnik did not mind.
"Well, all set, then" said Durnik patting the mare's head. Then, turning to the woman "Will we see you in the village, ma'am?"
"It's Miss, actually. Polgara McGrath" she answered, "We will be living in the village, so I expect so, yes."
"Oh?" Durnik hadn't heard anything about a woman and child coming in. then again, he did not always listen to gossip with a very attentive ear.
"I was hired as the school's new teacher for the youngest children. And I shall have free use of the teacher's cottage"
"Ah, yes, I had heard old Mr Roberts was leaving us. He has a daughter in Rippon, you see. Last I heard, he was planning on retiring there. The cottage is fine, Miss McGrath" he added as an afterthought "There was even a garden where Mrs Roberts used to grow her own vegetables, and flowers."
"I expect it shall suit me just fine, Mr- Durnik"
Then, the boy had hugged her spontaneously, and she had taken him in her arms. He whispered something in her ear – a joke probably – as she broke into a free, joyful laugh.
That was the moment "it" was born. If Durnik had remained blissfully unaware before of just how attracted to her he was, just how he admired her, even before knowing her, the butterflies fluttering away in his stomach would have told him the truth. She had only laughed, and he was hers.
As always, please, review and tell me what you thought :)
(1) I cannot do child speak. If anyone can help, I would be grateful :).