I tripped over this file when looking for something else, and thought it would be fun to post. Back when I was working on TINKER KING, Bayne Grimgorn was a big problem. He nearly wrecked the entire book, and I was at pains to figure out why. Finally, I went aside and wrote in Bayne’s POV, and what I discovered was quite mind-blowing. I knew the prohibition against romantic entanglement between witches and warlocks was paramount in Garrett’s founding of the Architects, but I did not know what that meant for Bayne. Unfortunately, I took writing in this POV a bit too far and had much re-tooling to do when I realized three POV’s was going to be too much for the book (nor could I just have Bayne take off on his own). This ended up on the cutting room floor, but it was still fun to write and a revelation when I got behind the broody exterior.
In the morning, Bayne rose before anyone else. He hadn’t been drinking since the night he’d nearly lost Vespa over the river, but his head hurt just as much as if he had.
He wasn’t sure where he was going, but he knew, after last night’s argument, that he needed to be gone for a while. He dressed hurriedly in his old Pedant’s clothes, remembering how he’d first gotten them when he came into New London. He had finally been on his own, no longer confined by family and position. These clothes, plain and worn as they were, had represented freedom to him then.
And now? He couldn’t say that he wished he’d never done it. He knew that was what everyone thought, that he was bemoaning the fact that he was no longer Heir to the Grimgorn fortune (which was likely sharply reduced in the face of the breaking of myth power in New London). Truth be told, he did care, just not for the reasons that everyone thought.
He had hoped, truthfully, that this little adventure for the Architects would be nothing more than a pleasing diversion, a way to put down a rogue warlock and establish himself firmly as the Lead. He had hoped to study here in the temple library and, when he returned to Scientia and eventually took his place as Lord Grimgorn, to find ways to make partnerships with the Unnaturals there. Though some of the other Architects had disagreed, he believed the Unnaturals were the future. He was a bit sad to know just how right he had been.
He had never meant to become entangled with something as powerful as the Grue. He had never meant for his brethren to die at the Grue’s hands. But worst of all, he’d never meant to fall in love and literally find himself bewitched. Both had happened. He had fallen hard and when she had worked the charm—unknowingly, she said—that had ended in his marriage to Lucy Virulen, well…that had been worst of all.
Dressed, Bayne crept down the stairs as quietly as possible. The stairs creaked badly—when one popped loudly as a gunshot, he was surprised that no one woke. At the bottom of the stairs, he breathed a sigh of relief. The door was but a few steps away.
And then he saw her.
Vespa had fallen asleep in her chair. Her head was flung back at a rather odd angle between the back and arm. Her hair streamed across it and down over her shoulders, a river of dark fire. He had very seldom seen it down that he recalled and the urge to touch it, to sink his fingers into it, made him clench his fists.
No. He had never meant to fall in love with her. She was as far removed from him as the moon. It had long ago been ratified by the Founders that should a witch ever arise again, no romantic relationship was to ensue between the witch and an Architect. While she was meant to be their queen, their natural leader, as Athena should have been had she not been executed, a witch was not to divide her power by having a romance with one of her warlocks. No one knew, of course, what would happen if such a thing came to pass, but Garrett, who had been a member of the Imperial Guard before he fell in love with Princess Athena, forbade it.
So it had been written. And Bayne had violated that part of the Architects’ charter. He had tried not to. He still fought it every day, sure the distraction of his love had ultimately been the undoing of his brethren. For while he had spent his days in secret worship of her, seeking every opportunity to be silently near her in the Museum or to watch over her from afar, the Grue had been eating away at the Architects’ defenses like the worm it was, until at last it had had its way.
He saw their faces when he looked at her, the faces of the dead silently reproaching him for wandering about like a mooncalf rather than doing his duty. For violating a part of his oath he had never expected to have cause to violate. For to love a witch is death, the Oath he’d sworn had said. He just hadn’t understood whose death it would be.
And how could he possibly have told her that, as she chided him for fearing to dally with a witch? How could he have told her that his Oath forbade him, even as she bewitched him into a hellish marriage he neither wanted nor had been able to refuse?
Her lips parted as she slept. Darkness circled her eyes, and he sensed from the way her breath hitched that she hurt. All he wanted was to soothe her hurt away. He knew how to do that much.
But for every hurt he soothed away, he knew he would only cause more, both to her and to himself. And to the memory of the Architects whose death he had caused with his carelessness.
“I owe it to them,” he whispered to her. “I owe it to you.”
He looked at her one last time, memorizing her face. Syrus had once told him that he was fairly certain Vespa had Tinker blood from her features and the way her magic had blossomed. Bayne could see it now in the shadows—she had the same cheekbones as Syrus, that slight tilt to the eyes. It didn’t matter to him, of course—he’d far prefer her to the pale blondes he’d known in Scientia or the dark aristrocracy of Lucy Virulen, his erstwhile wife.
None of that mattered now. He hesitated again about leaving her a note of explanation. It would be better thus if he finished off what he’d begun, wounding her so deeply to the core that she’d never look to him again for the love they both craved.
To love a witch is death…
Then the little sylph was in his face, shaking a glowing finger and trumpeting so loudly in outrage that Bayne was sure he’d wake even the people next door.
“Quiet,” he said. “This must be done.”
Piskel continued to remonstrate him, zipping back and forth between him and Vespa like an angry firefly. Vespa stirred.
Bayne raised his hand and spoke a tiny charm. Piskel floated toward the floor like a feather, already asleep before Bayne caught him. Syrus snored as Bayne gently placed they sylph back in his tea cozy. Vespa fell into an even deeper sleep.
Bayne allowed himself to rest his hand on her head, then. Just one touch. The golden magic that was always between them when they touched lit his fingers. He snatched his hand away as though he’d been burned and went out the door.
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