Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Smith/Pocahontas, Grandmother Willow, Rolfe/Pocahontas
Challenge/Prompt: a_war_of_roses: One For All (If you join, be sure to tell them Kat Lee of Team White Rose sent you!)
Word Count: 1,345
Date Written: 27 September 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
The rain smells like her. The thought comes to him as he walks slowly along the moist shore, moving carefully so that his boots don't sink into the ground. It's not really the rain itself so much as it is everything it touches: the fresh earth, the wet leaves further up shore, this new land or new once it had been . . . He had expected to have trouble with his feelings when he again had to face her people, but he had not expected for the land itself to cry for Pocahontas.
He quickens his pace, not wanting the men to catch the tears he feels rising in his blue eyes. The whole earth seems to scream for his Pocahontas, or perhaps to sing a bewitching song of sorrow for her, but she is gone. She waited for him, or so they say, but when he finally made up his mind to return to her, she was long gone, having left her land for another man.
Now he wonders as he quickens his pace. She was so loathe to leave with him before when he had lain dying. He hadn't wanted to leave her, but he hadn't had a choice. They didn't have the medicine he needed to survive such a wound in the new land. If he'd stayed, he would have died. Now he's back, and she's gone, and a part of him wishes he was dead.
He hears the men call out to him, but he doesn't answer. One of his old friends tells the others to relax. It's just "John being John", he says, and he'll back when he's good and ready and not a minute earlier. His words are true enough, and John climbs the land quicker, slipping into the forest and disappearing from their sight.
And now he truly is in Pocahontas' home. He whirls, but memories flash at him as fast as the trees that seem to almost spin around him in a hypnotizing dance. He can practically hear her lovely voice now, calling his name, teaching him about the land, showing him wonders he never before knew existed, teaching him a new way of life, sharing with him her land, her love, herself . . .
The mud sinks beneath his heels, and John goes down suddenly. He catches himself before he can fall and squats in the forest, his tears now falling faster than the rain drops. He should not have come. He should have not waited so long to come back to her. He should have known she would move on.
And wasn't that part of the very things he had wished for her? There was a reason why he hadn't returned until now, and it was his own foolishery. He wasn't fit for her. He wasn't a good enough man for such a remarkably wonderful woman. He could never hold to all the ideals she had. He could never be the man she thought he was, the man she needed him to be, a man worthy of loving the most regal Princess he'd ever met.
Perhaps this John Rolfe guy was the better answer for her. He should have waited to see her in England, but again, he'd been a fool. He'd thought he could beat her from leaving with Rolfe. He'd thought he could save her from giving up everything she cherished. But their ships had passed without seeing each other, and now here he is, in her land, in her world, but without her.
He wants to scream out his rage and is breathing hard while contemplating doing that very thing when he hears a voice calling his name. The tone is lilting and sings through the swaying leaves and branches of the trees. It seems young, but he knows it's not. He knows exactly who's calling him and almost trips over his feet again as he hurries to answer the call.
Her voice leads him straight to her. It's not his Pocahontas. His Pocahontas is gone from this land. She left everything she loved, and for what? he wonders yet again. For what?! He couldn't spend his entire life here, and that was exactly one of the many reasons why he hadn't returned sooner.
Something strikes his back side suddenly. John turns swiftly in the rain and grasps wet leaves. An old face appears in an even older tree. "Now you come back?!" the spirit accuses him.
John releases her and sinks to his knees in the mud. His tears flow even faster now. "I'm sorry," he gasps. "I should have not waited as long."
"You waited," the spirit speaks more kindly now, "because you mistakenly thought you did not deserve her. You were the very one who should have saved my granddaughter, John Smith, but you turned away from us in your own self repulsion."
"What right do you have to judge me?! You're only a tree!"
"Only a tree?" As fast as lightning, Grandmother Willow wraps her vines around his boots, snatches him off of his feet, and dangles him before her as a hunter might do to some poor, innocent animal he caught in one of his cruel traps. "Am I?!" she demands, clearly angry. The sky seems to agree with her as it turns a darker shade of gray and growls like a mad beast.
But then, suddenly sad again, she drops him. John hits his head hard but rolls to a sitting position. He's rubbing his head and glowering fiercely up at her as the ancient spirit breathes with the sorrow of the land, "At least you can see me."
"Of course I can see you -- " He stops, realization dawning. "What? John Rolfe can't?"
"No. And she did not leave because she loved him. Her heart will always belong to you, John Smith."
"Then why did she leave?! Why didn't she wait for me?!"
"Because she could not. She married John Rolfe to escape from slavery."
John's heart suddenly feels dead in his chest. "What?" he whispers, barely able to hear the word himself. His beautiful, cherished Pocahontas -- a slave?! HOW?!
It is with a heavy heart that Grandmother Willow wraps her vines again around the mortal man, her embrace far gentler this time, and begins to relate the story of all he's missed. She tells him how violence still erupted between their people and how Powhatan became sick with greed and his desire for the white man's currency, drug, and weapons. She tells him how she wept as she watched her beautiful Pocahontas being dragged away in chains -- and how she, unseen, helped John Rolfe find Meeko, Percy, and Flit in her forest. "He loves her," she concludes sorrowfully, "but she can never love him. Her heart will always be yours."
She turns a stern face down upon him. She can feel the fury bubbling in him like a storm brewing in the Summer time before it erupts. "Now," she demands, "now that you are back, what are you going to do about it?"
His answer, as she releases him onto the ground, is not what she would have hoped. He grabs the gun from the holster on his back and grips it hard. "Now," he declares, growling like the mother bear to whom Pocahontas once introduced him, "Powhatan's going to pay."
"John -- "
"Don't tell me that's not the way, Grandmother Willow! He has to pay for what he did to our Pocahontas!"
"But she needs you!" the old tree spirit wails in the rising wind.
"And I will go to her," he declares, "but only after Powhatan is dead!"
She tries to catch him, but his anger is too much. She could hold him for a while, but the white man's answer will never change. The rain turns darker as the old tree weeps for two and more will die today and still, her Pocahontas will not be saved. "I am so sorry, my child, so very sorry," she whispers and hides into herself with her last cry, never to be seen again.