Fandom: His Dark Materials
Characters: Lyra, Will, Mary, Xaphania, Billy Costa
Word count: 5050
Rating: PG-13 for character death and adult thematic.
Spoilers: Set post-fall . Spoilers through entire HDM series
Disclaimer: I do not own HDM. No profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: For eriathwen_bob in the ninebillion names ficathon. Each section represents a different character voice; there are no markings between sections and time jumps often between them. Each section is also one word less than its predecessor. Formatting is stylistic based on this. Special thanks to 'the boy' without whom I would have thrown in the towel long long ago. The story follows Lyra, Will, Mary, Xaphania, and Billy Costa over 53 years (assuming Lyra and Will are 12 at the end of TAS) as they struggle with the loss of the Magesterium and what it means for them and faith as a collective whole. Prompt was: Wildcard His Dark Materials: post-Fall, the world(s) adjust(s) to the loss of the Magesterium's power.
Lyra didn't know what to make of the sweeping changes to the world. It scared her a little, as she held Pan and stared at the old Magesterium building.
"We shouldn't be here," Pan whispered, tugging on Lyra's collar with his paws.
"Hush," Lyra said quietly, watching intently as the building was about to be destroyed. She had never known how buildings were made, so watching one destroyed was like watching it made in reverse, right?
"What if someone sees us?"
"If we get-"
There was a flash of white light, enveloping the building, Lyra, and her dæmon.
How to build the Republic of Heaven when you were a child and a child alone at that? In the world of Dust, Will might have come of age, but here he was still considered a child. Mary had promised to help, and true to her word, was attempting to- but merely taking a child in wasn't allowed. Not to mention Mary didn't have her job. For the time being, he was in the care of the county. His mother was receiving care he didn't think she should be receiving, and Mary was attempting to get her job back.
The affects, Mary thought, were immediate. Several people had reportedly 'died', the Church was undergoing a social restructuring, which Mary was certain meant nothing would actually happen. The bigger effects would be felt in the more religious of countries. For the Oxford they were in, little mattered. Still, important people had resigned or gone missing, and Mary was pleased to find that as a result she had been offered her job back with a loss in title, but no pay cut. A loss in title she could handle; for taking in Will and his mother- money mattered more.
For the angels, everything had changed. Everything had to be redefined, reorganised, redecided. Many more had fought against the rebellion than had fought for it. Yet, with the falling of the Dust, and the destruction of the Almighty- not to mention the fall of Metradon- many of them had seen the light and were willing and eager to work with those who had led the rebellion to establish some sort of guidance. Xaphania was one of the chosen. To say she was nervous would have been to try to describe what the colour orange 'felt like'. Impossible.
The Gyptians felt free, but in reality weren't much freer. They were still looked at in the same way by the same people. Even though they had their children back, and aided greatly in the fall of the Magesterium.
"I'm going to change the world," Billy Costa had announced; his mother only smiled.
"You can do anything you set your heart too, dear."
"And if I can't, I'm gonna help Lyra do it!"
"Me too!" Came the chorus of the other Gyptian children.
Ma Costa only smiled. The future lay with the children, as it should.
Scared, confused. Nervous. Pan slid over, "Lyra?"
"I don't know what that was."
"I don't know either."
"Dame Hannah's going to be mad, isn't she?"
"Probably, and you deserve it. We nearly died."
"I didn't know! Pan!"
He curled around her, said nothing, attempted to comfort. Lyra was difficult to gauge since leaving Will, Pan didn't know if he could anymore. Lyra clung, whimpered lightly- a thing not like her.
"We can't build it if you whimper," he chided gently.
"I know," she nodded, scooping up her bag, and heading back to the school.
"I'm not even at Uni. I don't know how I'm supposed to change the world- how- it's just so much easier I think, for Lyra to do it- and I don't want to do anything like fail her and I'm not sure- I mean-"
"You fix it with love."
From his mother. Will and Mary looked over in startled shock. But she only grinned, smiled at her son, "You fix it with love."
"It's a start," Mary agreed softly, looking at Will.
"But God is dead!" Will despaired. "What love is there?"
Will was reacting far worse than Oxford seemed to be- most of them were intent on science, but Mary could see his point. Even for the people of science, they still had some small pieces of religion. Take God, take the Church away from them, and all that was left was science. And science didn't teach anyone how to love.
"The love you make is equal to the love you take," Mary said softly.
"I don't know what that means! I don't know how to help at all!"
"All you need is love."
Xaphania smiled. There was order and things were far from perfect, but there was Order. Dust wasn't slipping out of the cracks in the worlds and the dead remained free. The angels were still struggling to find their purpose, they were spread across time and space, but for the ones here- the ones who had remained and not stayed in other worlds- Xaphania was finding a purpose for them.
"We will help Lyra build her Republic of Heaven," she said to approving faces.
"How?" One called.
"We will teach them to love."
Billy was still a Gyptian, no matter what his ambitions were. To help Lyra, he had to know what was best for his people. Right now, he wanted them to let him into the meetings.
"But I'm going to be someone some day!"
"Right now, you are still Billy Costa. Still a little boy."
"When my shape stops changing?"
"You will not have earned it."
"It's not hardly fair!"
"Throwing a tantrum will not help you."
"But I gotta help Lyra!"
The man smiled. "Little Billy. First you must grow up."
Billy was grown up enough now. He'd been on a few runs with his mother, he had the command of the boys his age and the younger boys (and even a few older boys) at his command. He was shaping up to be a leader of men- or at least of the Gyptians.
"You may attend the meetings." he was told.
Never before had he felt so little, sitting at the table with the elders. How could he help Lyra when they were discussing big words like 'theological' and 'ontological'?
Xaphania knew to teach people to love was what Lyra would be doing, what the witches would be doing, what the Gyptians would be doing, what Lyra's world would be doing. Will's world had nothing- and while she could travel through other worlds by other means than holes cut with a knife to destroy gods, it was harder.
"We will become like men among men. We will Give to them the value of love without the Church, we will Give to them a true realisation of their free will."
It was drastic, the effect the restructuring of the Church had; people doubted God openly now- there were men who took up the crusade to teach the world the evils of religion. They filled the void with intelligence, but not love. For Mary, in her search for dark matter, she hoped to find some component that would link all of human. Einstein had his God Equation- she wasn't a math genius by any means, but she was searching for the Love Equation. Same principle. One dividing, one uniting.
Will had to write something to get into University. On the forms it asked for a personal statement and the one that stood out to Will was Tell us what your obituary would read. He knew better than to put the truth, but his tale could be woven in a variety of ways. He wrote of his dedication to securing for everyone the right and freedom to chose themselves what to do with their own destiny- if destiny could even apply. Every University applied to accepted him.
"Pan look! We're here."
Here was the new Government building, and while Lyra wasn't terrified of it, he was.
She squeezed him again, cuddled him, set him down and stared at the building. She had made it. After writing a thesis (she had actually sat still long enough to write one) about the Republic of Heaven, she had been given an extensive scholarship to study there. It was exciting. Practically a whole new world.
"Pan. It's ok," Lyra whispered fiercely. "We're here to make the change."
'Gyptian Theology' it was called, and Billy disagreed with it; he wrote letters to Lyra of this nature, suggesting that unless they acted soon, the world could fall back into a similar pattern. People didn't like change, not change about God. Sure the Magesterium had fallen, but it would be just as easy for something else to take its place. Billy was worried- he exchanged more letters with her- set out to do radical things. His only hope was that she took to them fiercely.
Living among men- being guardian angels- it was work several of the others did not want to do and Xaphania could hardly blame them. It was tedious. The humans were arrogant, prideful, and insolent. They didn't want the subtle help of angels- they liked the science of their lives. But there was so much more to life than that. If there was hope, it lay with the proles. She had heard that somewhere, from a lesser angel. The proles would now be her hope.
The Love Equation, how to be explained by science? God was something everyone seeked to find verification of, love was something that just was. Dark matter, Mary was certain, would be her saving grace, but she had to tie it in somehow- tie it in to greater humanity and keep them from recreating a fake God. "Let's publish what these means for humanity, first," she murmured to herself in her office, closing her eyes and falling in a trance to see her dæmon.
Securing freedom destiny in University was a lot different than what securing freedom of destiny meant to Will by the context of his (and Lyra's) adventures. He switched at the semester to the Philosophy programme, but decided to keep his Political Science credits for a minor in the subject. He supposed he could go the other way around, but politics hadn't anything to do with love. In fact, it had to do with dominating another group of people and calling it freedom.
"I have to work hard to be a leader now, Pan," Lyra told the pine martin. "It's a good thing you're behaving yourself."
Pan made a noise, licked Lyra playfully, "Me? You're the one who misbehaves. In fact, most days I have to talk you down from-"
"I know. And thank you. Now, I have a meeting."
"Remember when we watched them destroy the Magesterium building?"
"That was a long time ago, Pan."
"Do you remember Will?"
But Lyra was silent.
Ten years after that, and the question still haunted her. Pan had apologised, profusely, at the time and she had forgiven him. She hadn't ever spoke of Will, and she certainly didn't do so now. Will still tugged on her heart, and she had bigger things to take care of. Like how to make the world safe and loving. She had been elected to a post- a rather unusual post. She was the head of the Department of Social Change.
Many many years (after ten he had long since kept count) and his heart still ached for Lyra. He had dedicated his book to her, Pan, and Kirjava, who felt as though she didn't deserve the honours.
"I was only there after the dead-"
"You were with me the whole time."
He was at a book signing, and while Kirjava could stay at home, he wanted her close while he explained the main components of the book on love.
Will no longer lived with Mary- after his mother had died four years ago he had moved the rest of his stuff out. And she was no closer to finding anything common linking all of mankind in love. Several other discoveries had been made, about space and what was out there, but that only turned people to science. Mary feared for those who were dying- no-one was teaching them to tell stories.
"Start when they're young," she murmured.
Mary had found out how, Xaphania saw, after nearly 16 years. The way to show love in the world was not through the facts of science- Dust could not be a common linking factor, no matter how Mary wished it to be so- or Will- or even dear Lyra. It made Xaphania's heart ache to think of dear Lyra, but she had faith in Lyra and in her Republic of Heaven. One day it would be so.
Billy had children now, younglings, and he was a destined to be a leader among the Gyptians. They knew to love, his job had been easy. Linking up with Lyra, to help her, would be harder. He wanted to be part of the envoy to the witches, but Lyra had requested he stay behind. She wanted to know how he had done it so easy with the Gyptians.
"We're water," he had shrugged, and Lyra nodded.
What was it that Ma had said about Lyra being like fire and them like water? She couldn't remember and neither could Pan.
"People know to tell stories, Pan," Lyra said. "What else is there?"
"Be a part of this government," Pan said gently. Make sure no-one else forgets."
Lyra nodded, buried her head in his fur. "It's all anyone can talk about now."
"They're not teaching it in the schools, though," Pan commented thoughtfully.
Will was exhausted and he missed Lyra and it wasn't fair and she had it much easier- her entire world had been engulfed by the battle. He and Mary had only been sucked along for the ride. His world still had notions of God and faithful obedience, even with all the science. All Lyra had to say was, "Tell them stories," and they would listen and tell them. He didn't know what to do.
"I could write children's stories," Mary said to herself, smiling. She had a feeling Lyra would heartily approve. But just putting books out there didn't do anything, which frustrated her. She didn't know what else to do- the daunting task of changing the world when so much of it had forgotten to love wasn't one she ever wanted. There was one thing she could try, like before. It was time to consult Dust again.
The angels felt no sense of purpose. The angels were lost, listless. The angels had a plan that was not going accordingly. The angels wanted a sense of purpose, of nobility. Of everything they'd had under the imposter God. They wanted a new god. Xaphania was in danger of losing her post- she was in danger of watching the world fail once more. It wasn't enough- none of it was enough.
The Republic of Heaven was more than telling stories when you died- it was about equality here, and now, and peace and love here, and now. Lyra may have been told to love, but there was so much more of that for her Republic of Heaven. But there were others to convince too; Lyra had been eager to jump on it, but there were others of the new generation who disagreed.
There were those who thought the Gyptians should stay down as a lower class forever. Lyra, in all of her fire spirit, railed against this and Billy though he might be in love with her, just a little. But he had his own children, his own wife. Not to mention she was Lyra and he was Billy- she on her way to governing powerfully; he always to remain a Gyptian.
The rebellion came swiftly, silently, though not unexpectedly. Xaphania fled instead of facing death- cowardly or not she did not know, but she knew if she were still alive there was still hope for the world she wanted to see it. She was scared of a new god- a god she and the others would know to be fake. She would no longer be an agent of any god.
The computer was hooked up; Mary concentrated and began to type.
ARE YOU THERE? YES.
WHAT DO I DO? YOU WILL HAVE A SIGN.
WHEN? YOU MUST HAVE PATIENCE.
She had thought it done, but it continued: THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER.
A sign? Patience? Dust was on her side, whatever side that was, but she was still confused. Another battle? At her age? What more was there?
The stranger looked familiar and only when Will was closer could he see that it was an angel. Her name was long forgotten, but Will nodded, respectfully.
"I am here to help."
"The angels have fallen. It is to man now that hope rests."
"But- I- I don't know what I am supposed to do."
"Come, and I will show you, Will, Protector of Free Will."
It was the day to sit at the bench and Lyra was running late. "Pan," she whispered, fiercely. "Please, we have to make it."
"We'll make it."
"Yes. If we hurry. Will'll wait for us."
Will wouldn't even know if they hadn't shown up at all, but to Lyra that mattered little. When they were there, she etched his initials and hers in the wood.
There was a new class war building and Billy was the youngest man at the council when the elders decided what to do about it, how to fight it, how to win it.
"Lyra and the witches are on our side."
"We don't need them, but their help is greatly appreciated."
Billy frowned, "We don't need them?"
"It is not they we need to convince."
With Will by her side, Xaphania explained the fall, explained what she needed men to do. Explained that while the purpose of the angels was over (as servants of god, with no god to serve, they had no purpose) they had created for themselves a new god. The man was visibly scared, which was good. Fear could be a very useful conductor to change.
The sign. Mary was consumed with looking for the sign. Dust had said to wait, but Mary was impatient now. She consumed herself in her work, feeling that the sign would be there. It was only when she had given up that the sign appeared- a little bird, outside her window, waiting for her. Mary was excited for it, scared for it; ready.
The angels had created a new god and would infiltrate man with it. The world would fall again and everything Will and Lyra had fought for to save would be gone.
"How do we fix it?" he asked the angel and she looked sad.
"Man must refuse this new god. It must strive for peace among men now."
"How do I help?"
There were stirrings of a new Magesterium; one that sent shudders down Lyra's spine.
"There can't be. We won't let 'em," she vowed to Pan, standing in her office. She would lead her world out of this. She had sent word to Iorek, still leader of the bears, asking advice. They resisted god; perhaps he had some insight that would help.
Five years after her letter to Iorek the world was shaky. It hadn't fallen, but at great personal cost to Lyra. Iorek was dead; the witches had all but disappeared from the world. It was Lyra against the world it seemed. Even Billy- Bill, as he was now- could not understand how important this was. She could help him later.
Helping was hard; Will was an outcast in some circles of the world and all but revered in others. Some considered him to be speaking the final truth of man, others considered him a prophet of god- a god Will had killed, God didn't exist anymore, but Will couldn't say that. If he convinced some, there was hope yet.
Mary was sitting in a jail cell- a dissenter of some sorts. Some sort of a public nuisance. She had followed the bird to a group of men and women who were dedicated to the end of religion. There had been a protest- the government (atheistic as it was) crushed the rebellion and imprisoned those who hadn't escaped.
Xaphania had been attacked twice now- the angels knew she was with Will and had followed him. Again, she fled, whether cowardly or not again she did not know. Her new goal was to spread the word where Will could not; she bid him farewell and luck and flew off. She settled in Asia, and waited, patiently.
Lyra was caught up in quashing the god and didn't have time for Billy or for the plight of his people. They had split- Lyra no longer on his side. It was difficult and he lacked patience.
"It is time for our fight to take center stage," he had said to the council and they agreed.
Lyra missed Billy, she missed Will, she missed Iorek, she missed the simpleness of Jordan from ages and ages ago. But there was work to do, speeches to make, people to convince. The new god must not be allowed to have his agents inside the government. Lyra needed to secure free will for future generations.
Will was surprised at how people listened to him, how much like a shaman he was- the anti-religious shaman. Will preached love without condition, free will without condition, salvation without condition and the people flocked to hear him. He wondered if it was possible to wait for salvation- could he wait at the door?
The world was listening to Mary and the other political prisoners. Whatever this new religion was, whatever Will was preaching- helped. The world cried for their release and it was granted. They were agents of Will now- just as the angels had been agents of God. The difference of them? Will was true.
Xaphania was wounded both in spirit and physically. She had found people to guide, but the angels, under the new god, had found her; they were the best at finding- it was what angels had always been taught to do. Now, she hid, waited to die. Waited for some hope from Will.
Several had died in their quest. More had taken to the new god, who promised equality. Lyra was fighting against this new god though- fighting against any representatives who tried to make it in the new government. Bill thought of her as the head of a new Magesterium- an evil Magesterium.
A year later, she was still (to Bill) the head of a new Magesterium. He burned her letters and did not send out any reply. She rejected the new god, the uniter, the one who would do better than her. She was selfish and bratty and he missed her wholly.
Xaphania was not yet dead- a feat in and of itself. The other angels had been unable to find her, in the mountains of Tibet. There were men here dedicated to something godless and full of god at the same time. They were curious monks who approached with caution.
Being an agent of something true was daunting. There were so many against them, but it was rewarding to talk to the believers- this, this was Mary's new life's work. This was the true Love Equation, nothing involving machines or science. Just pure love and goodness and kindness.
Will's question was trying to figure out how strict the land of the dead was. Was it a line? Would they be pushed through at the end? Too many questions and no way of knowing the answer. And the most pressing one? Would Lyra wait for him?
The newest challenge came from Bill(y) who was fighting to be part of the government. But Lyra fought against him.
"Oh, Pan," she cried. "I miss him so much!"
"He believes in the new god."
Lyra cried at the news, feeling like she had no power.
Bill was now one of the agents of the new god; his task? Diminish the power of Lyra Silvertongue- and gain a seat on the Council. It pained him, but he tried with anything he had- any rumours he could concoct. None of them took.
They had found Xaphania, two angels. In the fight of her life, Xaphania knew she was going to die. Die and head to the new land of the dead. She would be right. But she would also be dead.
"Will, please." Her final begging.
She spoke at Universities across the country, raising money to start her center while Will travelled the world. The fact that she had known him was tremendous- to everyone it made her a goddess- some one worthy of being listened to about god.
In Tibet to see the rooftop of the world, and wandering by himself, Will came across a battle among angels. It wasn't until one spoke that he recognised her.
"Xaphania!" he cried, charging at the angels. Quickly, they turned on him.
She and Bill had fought and she had been the victory, but Lyra didn't feel like a victor. Bill was shamed, sent back to his people, a crushing defeat. And for what? So she could promote her silly notion of love?
Ten more years passed and Lyra had been devastated the entire time. She had felt the death of Will- Pan, Kirjava. It was soul crushing and for ten years the threat of the false god was allowed to grow strong.
Will swallowed when he saw the path in front of him. He was still in the mountains of Tibet, but he knew he was dead. He knew where this path would lead him- the man, the boat, the harpies.
The world had gasped at the death of Will Parry- the revolutionary leader of the world. It seemed everyone attended his funeral. Mary attended, spoke of Will's hope of free destiny- of love- of a world without religion.
The angels had turned on Will and again Xaphania fled- but not before watching the slaughter of the man who was the Protector of Free Will.
"May your journey be swift," she whispered before flying, silently, away.
In ten years Bill had regained a lot of power, though Lyra still retained a lot. It wasn't until he found Lyra sobbing, alone, that the old feelings for her welled.
"What's wrong?" he asked quietly.
"You!" Lyra shouted, jumping up. "Will's been dead and you're off ruining his legacy! That's what's wrong!"
She shrank back again- she didn't have Pan, she had wanted to be really alone- fighting wasn't good.
He didn't know how long he had been walking. He hadn't known his and Lyra's walk to be this long, but Will was exhausted. But he would plow on, wait for her, in time.
In the ten years following, Will Parry had become more iconic than Jesus. Mary smiled, no organised religion could overcome this. He had secured freedom of destiny- of free will- by his death.
Ten years and Xaphania was still alive, though the angels still looked. Will had done it, they had done it, and now she could rest- but first another rebellion was to occur.
Ten years, Lyra had said, Will was dead. Bill didn't know what to do but hold her, let himself love her. He didn't know love could endure as powerfully as Lyra's.
Twenty years after comforting Lyra, during which he had switched sides (again) he and Lyra were winning strong- religion was all but banished, and the government had promised Gyptian rights.
Xaphania didn't know of Lyra and Billy, but she had organised the second rebellion. Twenty years later, and there were no false gods. It was time for her, finally.
Mary was old, about to die, but she was proud of her life accomplishments. She was proud to die and journey back to the muefla, whom she missed.
The harpies knew of Will, smiled upon him, offered to carry him to the door.
"No, no, I will wait for Lyra," he said, and they understood.
They were sick.
"How can love do this?"
"It was love that changed the world."
"Do you miss Kirjava?"
"I want to leave, Lyra."
Billy picked up in Lyra's wake after she retired- after she was sick with the soul sickness. Rights weren't secure, but they would be, soon.
"I will leave soon," Xaphania told the other angels. "Our time as guardians shall not diminish." She hoped- so long as someone kept fighting.
Mary coughed, tried to focus to see her dæmon one last time. Her mind slipped- only when she thought of Will, could she.
There were places Will could not remember along the walk, though he tried to. Several people knew him, thanked him, praised him.
"How much longer now, Lyra?"
"I don't know, Pan. I hope for it with every breath."
"Soon," Pan breathed. "Soon. Soon."
Two more agonising years and no blissful death. Lyra was only a shell, Pan always lay limp in her arms.
He was finally at the open door and he did not go through.
"Lyra," he chanted again and again.
Death scared Mary, so she clung. She hadn't known until a breathing scare. "Life," she whispered softly. "Life."
Xaphania didn't know where to go to settle back to Dust. She hesitated, chose, struggled to fly-
Billy was sick; not soul sickness, but of what he did not know- but something swift.
Lyra took a last breath, Pan tight in her palms. He disappeared into the air.
Lyra was coming. The harpies told him and Will waited with anticipation and excitement.
It was coming and Mary struggled to make her final peace with life.
-here it was, the park in Oxford; Lyra and Will's beloved bench.
Billy had helped Lyra to change the world- this was it.
Taking a deep breath and clutching his dæmon, Billy died.
Xaphania's moment was near end- she began to dissolve-
There was love, Mary had taught the world-
Will waited there- at the door for-
Lyra was eagerly ready for Will-
Billy told stories of Lyra.
-to dust Xaphania returned.
-death scared Mary-