I am free.

Free of the beast to a degree I never knew, and it has called into new perspective my entire adventure in 1897.  I had thought that the Angelique of that time was the superior of the Angelique of 1840.  After all, she cured me.  But how much did it take?  How many agonizing injections over weeks and weeks?  And how easily would I be fused with the beast once more?

Of the two Angeliques, the one of 1840 is nearly sixty years the junior, but there is a wisdom within her that time and experience have not yet replaced with jadedness.  This made itself known when she cured me.  She simply willed it so.  No ceremony.  No needles and draughts.  No pain.  According to her, it is a curse lifted, and one that she can never again inflict.

This makes me understand that all of the past “inabilities” to lift the curse (with any ease) on her part carried with them an unspoken provision; they were being lifted in a manner merely temporary.  That was the cause of the difficulty.  She was merely masking the beast, not slaying it.

Now, she has slain it.  I am in her debt.

I hate her for withholding my true cure.  But it is not she.  I cannot hold any other incarnation of Angelique responsible for this action, just as I cannot hold this Angelique responsible for the misdeeds of the others.  We are all glorious individuals in the sea of time and events.  The future has yet to come.  The past is where it should be.  In this strange either of cause and effect and identity, each is changing, growing, learning… swimming back and forth.  Which Barnabas am I?  Which Angelique is this?  This never happened before.  It shall never happen again.  Whose future will it impact?  Mine?  Hers?  Has my destiny been altered by those around me I’ve not even known?

And, in the end, does it matter?

Perhaps, but not now.  Not while I can drink in the sun without fear.  And in that light, I cannot help but see the sun paint the rarest vision: the woman made it possible.  Her reasoning for doing so?  The very same that I have felt and employed so very often; she would rather see me live for years as a moral than to die in hours at the hands of our enemies.  Was it Miss Winters or MIss Evans or… after all of these years, I cannot recall.  But I am alone now because of those exchanges.  The want from my solitude does not outweigh their right to happiness.

Angelique has been alive far longer than I knew.  She could not make me a warlock.  Perhaps that would have stripped me of all humanity.  But by bonding me to the beast, she gained the one thing she never had: a love who could accompany her through her immortality.  Perhaps this was the best that she could do.  Perhaps this explains her zealous and desperate attempts to protect that love at the expense of everything.  Perhaps this is why she pursued me so ardently through the centuries.  My encounters with the incarnations with Josette were all happenstance.  Her discoveries of me were quite on purpose.

That is a love defiant of any measure I have known.  I am humbled.  And I am unable to return it.  Love is no more a matter of will than is choosing not to.

The barrier?  It is not hate nor fear nor furious memory.  It is that she is quite simply not human.  To what will she revert when doors are closed?  To which dark masters is she kin?  Her benevolence is godlike.  She has powers to bless that transcend anything that I can imagine.  Her wrath is just as mighty.  Some time ago, I remarked that our immortality rendered us as casual observers to the human pace of the ephemeral and finite and entropic.  My life is now ephemeral and finite and entropic.  She will never understand what that means.  For love to grow, there must be empathy.  And there can be no empathy between a god and a man.

I worship you, Angelique.  I think I always have.  But I can only worship.  Anything more would turn my heart from ice to fire and from fire to nothing.




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