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The carriage wheels trundled over the cobbles speeding Esme homeward. She wrote quickly as she travelled, for she knew that she did not have much time, and she had to finish these letters before she got home. One for Litty, one for Lana, one for Kerrigan, to be sent so that they would receive them the following night, should any of them survive. The bulk of the 3 letters read the same, but each one told the woman who would receive it what they meant to her. That and, if it had come to it, an explanation of the reasons she had died by her own hand.
She knew she would be carrying a pistol with her the following day. She laughed a little, humourlessly, as she thought back on the General showing her how to cock and fire a gun. Esme had never used a weapon in her life before, and if she had to tomorrow, it would be the first, the last, and the only time.
The carriage pulled up outside House Larkwood in darkness, only the lamps at the front of the house were lit for her to see her way to the door. The three letters were passed hastily to a servant with instructions on when they were to be delivered, before Symon could have a chance to see them.
As soon as she was escorted through the door into the house he was there, and she fell into his arms. The strength which had been gradually ripped and cut from her throughout the day flowed back into her tenfold, and she stood straight and looked him in the eye.
“I love you Symon”
“I know you do”
“Tell me you love me”
“Esme”, he sighed, “You know I can’t”.
“I know, but I don’t care. Please just say the words”
A look of eternal sadness came onto his face then, and she knew she had reached his heart. Maybe not in the way she always dreamed of, but she had reached it nonetheless.
“I love you”.
The tears streamed from her eyes. She knew the words were a lie, just like their marriage was a lie - the greatest lie she had ever tried to tell herself, but she still needed to hear them, just once. Continuing to meet his gaze she said,
“Now take me to bed”. Her intent was more than clear.
“But Esme, you’re still not well enough, I don’t want to…”
“Symon, please”, she interrupted, and these two simple words brooked absolutely no argument whatsoever.
He reached down, took her arm and led her towards the stairs.

Esme wished she could have been braver, but she hoped Gregor understood that she had to have one last night with her husband before the end. That she was not afraid to die, and would give her life for Symon in a heartbeat, but that where she must be when they breathed their last was by his side. That was the only reason she had been unable to go with them
Symon had already fallen into peaceful dreaming, and for that she was blissfully thankful, but Esme realised now that she was in for a long sleepless night alone with her thoughts.

So it had all come down to this. Esme could see or feel nothing beyond the next morning, she could not conceive of what they were about to do, or what Lalenth would be afterwards. To protect her sanity, her mind pushed away the multitude of potential horror stories and thrust her into the past.

It took her to her first meeting with Symon, all those years ago on her first day at the Academy, when she was confused and alone in a world she couldn’t understand. She had never chosen to be a threadweaver, her mother had forced her into it, and her father had never been able to forgive that. She felt so out of place in such a formal institution, coming from a family of Wordsmiths where the day and the house were never organised, and work could be dropped in a second when there was singing and dancing to be done. She had dropped her books in the crowded corridor and Symon had been the only one who had stopped and helped her to pick them up. He spoke to her so kindly, and so like an adult, that Esme began to fall for him a little, even that long ago. His kindness that day made a lasting impression, which shaped the whole course of her life.

It took her to her mother’s death, and her father leaving house Di Canto to go back to his family home in the 4th Arch. The pain of that had long been numbed by the passage of time and outweighed by other pain she had been forced to endure, but revisiting it was still unpleasant. She had been a tug of war between her parents from the day she was born, and she still didn’t really know if either of them had truly loved her.

It took her to when she first began to see the relationship Symon had with Isana. She felt again the guilt that it was something she wanted so desperately to throw herself in the path of with a jealous rage. To wrench them apart from each other and keep both of them for herself.

It took her to the first time she had seen Decantus from the window of the attic, and felt again the fear and the confusion.

It took her to the moment she saw her beloved Aunt’s life restored by an act of self sacrifice that only she and Isana ever truly appreciated.

It took her to the day Gavren told her that he loved her, and she had to tell him she loved another and watch his heart break before her eyes.

It took her to Isana and Gregor’s wedding day, when she made the decision to throw her heart open for the love of her life to see laid bare, and then have to come to terms with the consequences.

It took her to the blazing argument she had with Kerrigan when her indiscretion was discovered in the many drafts of the letter left lying around the waste basket.

It took her to the moment Symon had first acknowledged her letter and gave her some small shred of hope. He had told her that she was a surprising woman, and that this was a compliment as so few surprised him any more.

It took her to the day Decantus came to her and offered her power, and she made the decision upon which side of the battle she lay.

It took her to when she received Symon’s proposal, unable to process that he was telling her he didn’t love her, but asked her to marry him anyway.

It took her to the second she heard that Isana was dead, and through the whirling and wrenching and hacking and burning pain of the next few weeks.

It took her to the letter she wrote to Symon on the eve of their wedding, and through every single word where they lay etched across her heart.
“And now, before we are man and wife, I have a final request to make of you. It is simply this; please do not ask me again if I truly wish to marry you, because the answer is, and shall forever be, yes.
Notwithstanding anything which should henceforth transpire, never forget that this was my choice, and never forget that I will always love you, with every fibre of my being. Allow yourself to be loved; accept the gift of my heart, which is freely given. Do not try to spare me, because you cannot.
Isana taught me that to make any decision I must ask myself one question alone, “What does your heart tell you?” I will continue to ask myself this question every day for the rest of my life, and the answer will always be the same. It tells me that I have to be with you; that I have to take care of you; that I have to love you.
Isana also taught me about duty, that love can be a duty too, and helped me come to realise that you are to be my duty. Even your broad shoulders are not broad enough to carry Lalenth alone. Let me be your refuge, your solace – even if you can only forget for moments at a time, let me give you those moments.
There is no other path for me; no other life for me to lead instead. You may think I do not fully understand, and perhaps I do not, but know this:
No matter the price, no matter the danger, no matter the fear, there is no life for me other than by your side. Regardless of whose mercy I may be casting myself upon, even if I stare into the very face of death itself, I do so gladly; for without you I am already dead.
Now and for all time, unconditionally
Yours
Esme”

It took her to her wedding day, when the tears of grief were replaced with tears of joy for the first time since Isana’s passing, and upon kissing her husband for the first time, she knew in a heartbeat that there was no other decision she could ever have possibly made, than to be with him.

It took her to so many days of peace and joy since then, where life was merely to be with him, and that was all she needed.

It took her to a conversation with Rakona that was never expected, but welcomed, and showed her more of herself than she ever thought possible, including the lengths to which she would go to save her husband.

It took her to the day, a week or so ago when she touched Symon’s threads whilst he slept, and drew the attention of a less charming entity than the one she had previously encountered. One who would not tolerate her “touching and interfering with his plaything”. The pain and the agony of those days cut her like a knife again, and brought her back to the torture from which, she knew in her heart of hearts, she was never going to recover.

It took her to the trial and reminded her of the words she had screamed at a desperate, broken woman who did not deserve it. A woman who had only done what she’d done because she had no choice.

It took her through the last painful day, the loss, the fear, the desperation.

Dawn was here and Esme was not sure whether she had slept or not. Her life played out before her eyes reminded her of everything she was and everything she had been. It gave her the strength to sneak from the room to her parlour, and pull the pistol from its hiding place behind the bookshelf. She managed to conceal it long enough to be dressed by the time Symon awoke, by the time the panic began to build and he ordered her to go to the Star Chamber. She would not go without a fight. She had stayed here to be with him and be with him she would. He tried to persuade her, but when he saw it was fruitless he ordered the servants to take her, by force if necessary.
She managed to struggle close enough to get one last kiss, and thrust a forget-me-not pendant he recognised all too well into his hand, before they dragged her away.
She knew not, and cared not the injuries the servants suffered as she scratched and flailed and kicked and screamed.
Once she was at the chamber, time became a blur – from the first attack, time seemed to have sped up and slowed down at the same time, giving her a very weird sense of unreality. She knew not how long it was before she saw the heavenly sight of Symon running towards her, shouting her name. Time had slowed almost to a standstill, so that when he attacked her, she had time to register that the thing stabbing her was not him before she hit the ground.

As she came to, she pulled herself back onto the chair and began to try and process what had just happened. She raised her head and her heart fell through her feet as she saw Symon prostrate on the ground, blood pouring from a slash in his throat. She threw herself down beside him and uttering the words “I love you”, without a second’s hesitation she reached down to where the pistol was strapped against her calf, drew it, cocked it and pressed it beneath her chin. She pulled the trigger and heard the blast of the gunpowder before sweet darkness enveloped her.

Those who witnessed her end, may have thought it was not a rational decision, and they were in part correct. At that last moment there was no decision at all, because the choice had been made long, long before, when a frightened 11 year old girl fell in love with a young man who showed her a few moments of kindness.


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After the dust had settled, somewhere in the mists of time and space, a field of threads stretched out as far as the eye could see. Glowing, glittering, and shining as a sea of flickering colour, if you could focus the mind for long enough, you would see figures swimming within it.

At the head, was a beautiful blonde woman, finally at peace, the smile on her face restored to what it had been in her younger days, before duty and silence had bound her – in death she was free from her chains as she could never have been in life.

Behind her in the playful chase ran a man, tall and strong, blue eyes shining as they always had, but now shining with joy at hope restored, rather than sorrow and determination. The rapturous abandon in his demeanour was unfamiliar to the watcher, but so very, very welcome.

Behind him, his brother, head held high now, mind and spirit restored to the young dreamer he had been before life decreed he should be stamped and broken like an unwanted toy. His smile at a dream finally realised was beauty itself.

Then, another blonde woman, this time with hair long like barley straw, her light shone in the threads as bright as a star. She was arm in arm with a dark haired woman with the deepest blue eyes – a blue of beauty now though, rather than of affliction. They smiled at one another as they ran, the bonds of friendship and sacrifice forged in life now tying them for all time.

In their wake, a tall blonde man, his strength of will shining like the moon, holding the hand of a small woman with a soul and a spirit just as strong, he finally seeing her love for him, and realising that his big heart had room for another.

Following them, another couple, although this time, the threads making each of them up were so entwined it was almost impossible to separate them. His arm wrapped around her shoulders, and she looked up at him, the expression on her pretty face one of unabashed adoration. The duty and sorrow that had always glazed his eyes was washed away, replaced with smiling eyes that spoke of the love he could finally show, love which he had been unable to give her in life but which would now endure for eternity.

Skipping and spinning then, came another man and woman, and each in their own way reflected the beautiful souls they had always been. Destined for each other, one a poet, the other a songstress both born of emotion and expressed through words, they sparkled and shone as they played and danced around one another.

Then came a tall dark man, hunter, wordsmith, hero – his beloved Aunt escorted on his arm. The chains of duty they carried had been replaced with love and pride. With them, a healer, quiet and gentle, but who carried in her a strength and a determination that the others had only truly seen at the very end.

A lone figure then, head bowed, until he saw the approach of his love – she brightened into view spiralling and swirling – and he reached out for her, all memory of grief and jealousy and failure thrown away, all crimes forgotten in their joy to be free and together at last.

A single dark figure at their tail, walking alone as he had in life, but the threads which comprised him shone with a willing sacrifice that no one had ever believed he would make, a true love for his city that none had recognised.

They all paused and looked out towards the watcher then, smiling. They seemed so free, so happy and so content, but there was an air of waiting about them. Peaceful, patient waiting for the day far in the future, when their lives had been lived long and well, that three more smiling couples in love, a lonely weaver, a hapless hero and two strong women would join them.
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choccoweeble

February 2012

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