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August 3, 2016 by Lyn

Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet

“This is the one,” he told his owner. She, who had no place in the ceremony to come, still nodded, understanding what he meant even if the boy’s mother would not. “This one is my son. His name…” It had to wait for the formalities, the last time he’d hold the tiny creature who would become his heir (if people like him could have heirs), but he already knew this boy would be Emrys.

Good, good. But…

Another mother, another child, glaring up at him with dark eyes…

We’ll get there. Right now, focus on your name, Ambrus. On your Name.

Ambrus. Ambrus oro’Regine.

“Shit, Regine, he can’t Belong to you. He’s never had a chance to earn his name. Never had a chance to be an adult.”

Further back. Not the oro’, though that’s important. Think about Ambrus.


He was skinny, all knees and elbows, underfed, and terrified. All his father had said was Go with him. You belong to him now. That was when he’d learned that humans beings –

But he wasn’t human, was he?

Of course not. But that comes later.

– learned that beings could own each other, could be bought and sold and (later he found out) traded like baseball cards. The man who had taken him home was skinny, beardless, well-groomed in a way his father would probably have called “queer,” if the man hadn’t just handed his father wads of cash. Now he knelt in front of him, holding his chin in his implacable grip.

“Your father called you Jimmy. Does that mean your name is James?”

James was what the teachers called him, usually when he was acting out. Jimmy was what his father called him: “Jimmy, go get me another beer.” Both names seemed wrong for this big stone house with its pillars and golf-course lawn and this so-elegant man in front of him.

“I don’t want to be Jimmy anymore.” Jimmy played baseball, badly, and got caught skipping class. He had a feeling there was going to be none of that, here. And… “Jimmy is what my father called me. And he sold me.”

He hoped he didn’t sound too ungrateful. The room the man had given him was big, the bed soft, the food good, the clothes new. But his father had still sold him, like a used car.

The man was smiling, so it couldn’t be all bad. “All right. You don’t have to be Jimmy anymore. We’ll call it a fresh start, why don’t we?”

He could only nod. He’d expected an argument.

“Then what do you want to be called? How will you Name yourself?”

There was a book, one he’d had to hide, too full of fairy shit for his father, not school-book enough for the teachers. “Ambrosius,” he murmured. It was a long name for a skinny used-car kid, so he shortened it. “Ambrus.”

Merlinus Ambrosius. He’d taken his name from a book, from a famous wizard, not thinking until years later about that line –

“Emrys, she called you. Child of the light. Of the immortals. Divine…

“Emrys… Ambrosius; it’s the same word.”*

– not realizing until then that he’d labeled himself more than Named, and passed that name on to his heir. To one of his heirs. The other…

“This one’s Merlin.” As with Emrys, he had needed no thought to know that. The Sight wasn’t his gift, except that given to all fathers, but the clarity of naming struck him so hard as to knock him over, every time.

“You can’t name…”

He hit a wall, smacked into it hard enough that his teeth hurt from the impact. A wall, in his mind: Do Not Enter. But it was his mind, his, as battered as it was, the only thing he’d ever been able to call his own. Who could, who would dictate to him in his own mind?

Ah, yes, about that…

“I thought those were all gone.” Reid frowned as Ambrus blinked his eyes open.

“Which?” Regine was still holding his hand. Her voice echoed in his memory, far less concerned than she sounded here, in front of him:

”Leave it alone, Ambrus. You don’t need those memories.”


“Don’t worry about it. I will remember for you.”

He glared at her, realizing that he could, that nothing in her orders prohibited anger. “That’s my mind! My memory!” My children.

* From The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart



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