I asked for duckface. You gave me duckface. Ergo, you get rewarded. Just, y’know, months later. This bit of fiction is dedicated to you, for being a good minion.
* * *
This is #5 of ‘The Autumn Queen‘ — the beginning of which can be found here.
* * *
My own darling,
I attempted to slip back into our bed — I say ours, as it has been the one I have shared with you alone, during our stolen season — but the lack of you will not let me rest. I have made communications with advisors, and signed matters of state. I have even puttered about my rooms and made the bed, not wanting the servants to come and pull away the sheets that still smell of you, and I, and our lovemaking.
As for who sees the birds — the ones I have instructed you to send fly to my own personal aerie, a place I care for them, where none else are admitted, and none see what messages I receive. Whatever you send, trust that it comes to my own eyes alone.
I remember last night (for which you needn’t apologize — I myself am unutterably sorry for not remaining more awake) with remarkable clarity, and yet a blinding sense of heat and warmth — my senses fail me, at times, after long sessions with you; I want nothing else but you, and as I am accustomed to your sweetness, the world is often too bitter for my liking, when you are gone.
I do love my intended, but I fear mending with her — it will be a journey I have yet to understand. I’ll do it for the sake of the Empire, for her sake, for the sake of our family, and for the sake of the child you ask me to raise. I shall do it for my sake, in time — if I had more hours, I would not choose this so soon, but alas, time is always against us.
All that we are — all that we do and make with one another, each moment we have created in one another’s arms… I regret nothing, save that it cannot remain like this forever and always. I will make time for you — I will spend as much of it at your side as I can hope to spare from a family that will need me, if I am to raise this child and be its father.
If my love for you is a cruelty, if my tenderness to you and my acceptance of you is pain, I pray it is only the brief agony we all endure on our way to bliss — truly, if I am hurting you, I will not continue for my sake, but cease, to ease your heart.
All the feelings of my heart, both admirable and somewhat failing in purity, fill me joy as they tangle perfectly in my thoughts of you. I am ashamed of nothing I desire so long as it fits with you.
I love you. I have loved you for some time. I will love you, as long as any heart can endure, and everlong after.
I remain yours, truly —
* * *