Dying couldn't kill me, Esme. Passing couldn't take me. Not from you. Sometimes our darkest moments are when we learn our biggest lessons, aren't they? Or we find our greatest strengths, or we finally see those around us for who they really are, at the very edge of annihilation. I promised to rebuild the gate for you. I kept my word, swifter and greater than before. But the gate isn’t finished yet. I am a devoted one, Esme, as I'm sure you recognise. I've worked very hard to ensure my beloved has all she needs to venture bravely into this realm of strangest dreaming.
I want nothing but my place in your heart, wild one. I needn't be the biggest thing or the most important thing. Just an honest thing, loving and true. A friend who kept his word. A guardian who protected his ward until the very last.
As one cycle closes and another opens I reflect on all I've learned within its sphere. I made beautiful new allies this year, I think. Allies who remind me so much of you, yet they have unique mysteries all their own. I’ll continue to honour and cherish them in the future. Also, I met souls who needed coin or warmth or gesture to battle the midwinter chill. It's never enough in a fallen realm, but it does make a difference. I was also offered help when I was at my lowest and darkest. You helped me, Esme. You and your wonderful friends who filled my heart with warmth and mirth.
I fell in love this year, all over again.
Dying doesn't kill an immortal soul. Passing over doesn't end a genuine love. Stories, kisses and votives live on. Always. The mutual affection we share is the true wealth my Father's kingdom is built upon. You've always known it well as I, Esme. Better, in fact. Upon arcs and gates, with shepherd and flock. I didn't think I would cry this time, but I did. I didn't think a kiss would seal again this ruined flesh and grant me strength enough to venture.
But yours did.
Thank you, Esme. Thank you for having the courage of our convictions, even when I couldn't. Thank you for not forgetting who you really are, even in your darkest moments. Fame is a strange, unnatural thing. It's not an easy path you've chosen to walk with me, poet. I pray I've been able to soften the most perilous parts for you, to shield you from the worst of it. Not one mark upon your mischief, or your sobriety. That would be my highest, but even I haven't sorcery enough to leave you completely unscathed.
Oh, Esme. You were always so much braver than me. And the bright ones call me reckless. Chaplain to a mad king of thorn and bleeding. If only they knew the true price of a single verse, or the aeons crossed to raise a shining chorus. Resonant, eternal.
How far is too far, for freedom and love?
Do they know?
Father keeps you, Esme. He keeps us all. Even at our lowest. Even when all seems lost. He is without cynicism or guile. In this fallen realm we are continuously deceived. Abject cruelty and hideous violence seeks to pretend the Throne of Creation. Never believe that awful lie. The Councils of All Songs still know the truth. Only Love shall conquer, in the end. Every kindness is forever kindled in eternity. Nothing is truly lost. Not to Father's eyes. All is gathered home, eventually. As it once was. As it shall be again. As it is, in holy light, and in the shining hearts of those who truly care for each other.