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In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh. That can sing and dance with you. You – only you – will know a world where the stars sing together, in perfect harmony, to see one another every hour…
In one of those worlds, your life is beautiful and bright and full of joy…And yet, in the starlight, on nights like these, when the air is warm and heavy, and the sky is dark, you sometimes find yourself thinking about how empty this is for those who never see the skies, because the people here do not look upon them from their own homes.
Sometimes, you wonder why they don’t leave, just like you. Why they stay in this place, when there are so many worlds beyond the stars, where the people who cannot see the skies could walk on land and feel the sun on their faces. Where all the things they ever wanted could be within reach.
But you’re afraid that they won’t come. They may be afraid too, and maybe even they’re right to be, or maybe that’s something else that you don’t quite understand, but either way, no matter what happens, you know that they’ll still be trapped here, by the people who think this world is a prison, and would do nothing but make life harder for them.
It doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that they are happy here. That they love their families, and live the kind of lives they always dreamed about.
That they love you. That they’re here.
Because there is nowhere in the universe where you truly belong; not with these people or out there, among those stars. Not with the ones who would tear you limb from limb in a heartbeat, if they saw what lay inside of you. Not with the men who are too afraid of the darkness to go home, even now. Who are terrified of letting themselves love, lest they turn into the monsters they fear themselves to be.
There is nothing here for you. Nothing. And if you ever had dreams, once upon a time, you can pretend they did not happen; that the dreams came from somewhere else, and not from you. That you did not take control, and try to kill your family.
It wouldn’t work any longer, would it? You’ve changed everything. Because now, instead of the cold, unfeeling, merciless monster everyone thinks you are, you’re someone different – someone new. Someone with hope. Someone worth trusting.
You used to be afraid. Scared that you’d be killed if you got close enough. That you’d be taken away, to die slowly alone. But those thoughts aren’t the only reason you didn’t go back to the manor; and you know why that is. You have nowhere to run to anymore.
The world is a lonely place. And you might be lonely – but at least you have your friends. Friends who love you, even though you are something other than human. You may have lost your humanity, long ago, in the darkest hours of your mind, but now – with the light finally coming back, after a long darkness – you realize how much you missed having them around, the same as everyone else. You’ve spent years without feeling anything; you thought you knew better, but really you never did. And you need some more of that now; some of the good stuff, the happiness; the love. The love that will last forever.
You’re glad you found it – it feels safe in your hands – and it warms you up when you sleep, makes you smile when you eat. It gives you strength and energy, helps you fight the nightmares that haunt your sleep.
So yes; you’re still scared, but you can feel it growing inside of you. Feel like it’s waking up – becoming real – and for once, it doesn’t terrify you.
You’re happy here. You’ve learned to accept yourself. No matter what life throws at you – or whoever’s behind it – you hold on tight to that light inside of you, that happiness.
You’re happy, and you can tell that the others are, too. You see it in their smiles when they talk about their plans; in the way they look at each other before bedtime; in the way they talk softly, when no one else is listening. It’s not often you find that kind of expression.
It’s a little selfish to keep looking at your friends like this – knowing that you won’t get to see it again. Knowing that you might lose it, soon; might never have it at all. But you can’t bring yourself to regret it for even a moment, especially when it means that the others get to see it so often.
Even if you will never know the answer. Even if you’ll probably die young; before anyone has figured out what’s happening with this thing inside of you. If you survive, at least you can be happy that you tried. To see them, and feel that glow inside of you, for just one more day…that was worth all of it.
And now there’s no chance to do it again – and that breaks something inside of you. It feels like a piece of the sun being torn out of the sky; burning hot and painful, and leaving only a black hole in its wake. Something that you will never feel again.
You have no idea where it went, nor whether it’ dead or alive. Or if it ever existed at all; which is probably best.
But you’re not going to miss it forever. Someday soon, you’ll remember why you made the decision to leave. Why you left behind the life you had built; the people who loved you; and the world that was no bigger than the hand of your own palm. But until then, you’ll be thankful for what happened. Grateful to have been given a second chance at all. Grateful for the people that let you live. Grateful that there’s someone here, waiting for you to return.
And, most importantly, thankful that you were able to save one, small part of the night sky, for the rest of your life.
“I am tired,” he whispered hoarsely, closing his eyes against the light.
A small voice – one he thought he’d heard before, but wasn’t sure if he’d actually been hearing it, or imagined it – murmured, “Then sleep.” There was a gentle touch on his shoulder; a familiar voice. “We can talk again tomorrow, my prince. Rest now.”
With a final sigh, his body relaxed under the blankets – the warmth of it easing the strain on his muscles – and he allowed himself to be lulled to sleep by the sound of her voice.
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