Where the Heart Is…

I have been told all my life that home is where the heart is. If so, then this lovely old townhouse is no longer my home. How very strange this is to contemplate! The walls and floors, drapes and furnishings, most of all the people who live here with me day by day, nothing has changed — except, for the first time since I purchased the lease, my heart is no longer here. In the main it lies in the keeping of the man who owns a tea shop in the bazaar, in the spacious rooms he and his dear life’s companion keep above it, likely nestled still in their bed, though it is scandalous to say as much, I suppose.

Like Gabriel, I find I grow weary of always doing what is seemly. That wayward heart of mine is a most unseemly creature, for it loves where it will, as many as it will. In these latest choices, it has chosen well at last.

My thoughts range backward into memory, as is only proper when one whom one has loved is lost completely. Dear Scarlet came to tell us the news, showing extraordinary strength in the doing of it for she was quite clearly distraught and had been for some time. First Lamont, then Henrik — it was no mystery to me, her wild sorrow, hatred for the zee, even the unstated regrets she felt about ever opening her heart or learning to love at all. I could not even tell her that yes, this is the price of loving, that sometimes we must lose what we love. I have lost so many, my parents and older brother before I even knew what death was, my grandparents… and then my beloved child. Love and loss are so intricately intertwined, but how does one express that to a dear love already lost in her grief? I could only hold her and let her feel it for herself — let her feel that in spite of her losses, Love remained, she was surrounded by it, held by it, even in such abject sorrow.

In truth, I lost Henrik some time ago. I have had that time to heal my heart of the loss, so that when the news came yesterday it was… an odd, somber re-echoing of what had already come to pass within. Though I have heard some strange stories and many rumors about what happened between us, none of it came close to expressing how truly strange and… poorly functioning… our love was. I still maintain that he was all the things I’ve said and thought of him: honourable, good, intelligent, loyal to his friends, and I doubt he had an enemy in the world except perhaps for the man who murdered his brother, who will now escape all deserved justice for that crime, I suppose.

He and I…. dear God. We simply were not good chemistry. We did things to each other in proximity that… warped us beyond easy recognition of our true selves. I only recognized this clearly after he and Theodor last went to Venderbight and I was left here to pick up the remnants of my life without him. It was terribly, profoundly illuminating to discover that in losing him, I’d regained myself at last. What remained was, somehow, not to succumb to the weakness of character which I still harboured, and which still insisted upon his love, and upon my love for him despite all reason and good sense.

And then… to have to insist upon it to him, when that weakness in me wanted nothing more than to weep (again) and capitulate (again) and say “yes love, I’m so sorry, we’ll try once more.” Refusing to surrender to that was, I think, the second hardest thing I have ever done, and possibly not done entirely well, but it was done. I could once again be the woman I knew myself to be and set aside the pangs of regret which returned to haunt me at the very oddest moments.

I will set it forth here though: I was never angry with the man for aught he had done to me, or said for that matter. There are things for which I perhaps should have been angry, and one thing which angered me later, on another’s behalf — but it does no good to rehash the past. Done is done, and he is gone now. If I can thank him and bless his memory now it is mostly for his soul’s selfless ability to show me, once again, what I do not wish to be in love, as a lover.

Life, and love, goes on. I hope to find Scarlet in the bazaar this afternoon for tea, because I love her and because the loss of Henrik has affected her horribly. I hope to spend time with beloved Gabriel again, and sweet-hearted Sevashke, if he is able. There are old friends to be kept, and new ones to be made, nightmares to be banished, wounds to be mended, scandals to be put down, suspicions to be eased. There are still lectures to be given at University, silent dances at court, fights on the docks, and spires to be marked in the Flit. Most of all, for me at least, there is a card game to be assembled, and a Heart’s Desire to be won. The dead must know that the living remain, and continue.

One hopes they are at peace with that.


Loose Ends

If there is one good thing about being awake before most of the rest of the household (let alone the city), it is that there are few better times for quiet contemplation. There have been no other distractions to rob me of my focus yet, no other voices to divert and diffuse. There is only me, and a cup of fragrant tea, and a sunrise that, in this place, will never come.

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From a Journal…

I begin to wonder if I should not leave Fallen London for a time.

So much here now is stagnant. I cannot continue in my quest to gather the players for the Marvellous, the way is blocked. Life at court is banal and useless beyond imagining — ironic that I feel this just as I have achieved some peak in personal power, charisma, and allure! My studies of the Correspondence have gone as far as they might go, and life at the University is in its own way as limited as life at court. My work on the Parabola Equation is likewise stymied — I am not truly a theoretical mathematician, my equations now resolve themselves in circular fashion. My friends all seem to want to speculate endlessly upon the collective nightmares we have, as if mere speculation can provide answers — I do not wish to be short-tempered with them, but such endless maunderings…!

In other ways, I am left with unpleasant choices: Deal with Feducci or the spider council, in Wolfstack Docks. I wish to do neither, I never came to this city to earn a name as a fearsome fighter, or a conqueror of beasts from a child’s worst nightmares. And yet I cannot escape Feducci’s… imperative, I am justified in terming it. He will have an answer…

…as will Randall Ross, in the Flit, I suppose. Each time I return, if I stop to catch my breath even for a moment some agent of his is at my elbow, whispering in my ear about the allure of a life of high-crime., about the theft of a major work of art, as if I am the only person in Fallen London who might attempt the crime. As I am no warrior, I would not be a thief — for me the Flit is an escape only, or was. Now it has become yet another wall, an obstacle to my progress, a bar which I must either negotiate or destroy.

I cannot help but feel that this stagnation, this thwarting of purpose has contributed to the choices I’ve made concerning dear Henrik, and inevitably Theodor. Would I have been tempted at all, had I had my Heart’s Desire to focus upon? Their entry into my life coincided so closely with that d—able 38:11 moment that I can no longer separate the two. Ah, but grandmother did say there were no coincidences — only minds which have not grown large enough to see Purpose, instead. Well, dear Grandmother, in whatever Heaven you came to reside, I freely confess I cannot see Purpose in any of this. I can barely remember what it was like to have a Purpose here…

I have invitations here from the Brass Embassy, and from the Royal Bethlehem, each mentioning residential suites available. I have avoided alliance with either Hell or with Madness, and I am sure I only consider them now for mere diversion, as if diversion alone could provide the purpose I have lost. I am not dear Narciso, a life of such pursuits was never meant to be mine. That I am seeking diversion tells me clearer than words that something must be done.

Henrik… ah, dear man… if I leave, you will have Theodor, there in your shared rooms above the bookshop. Nothing much will change for you, really, should I go for a time. I do believe you love me, in your way — you are too honourable to toy with me even if such things are the fashion at Court just now. I do not know if I can be content with what part of yourself you can offer me, in turn. In truth, the purposeless days and nights here are simply too long for me to bear them alone, anymore.

And Scarlet… you are so fierce, so strong, so ambitious, so determined! I do not know what causes you to seek the Marvellous, but I do know that you still have far to go in your seeking, and that will sustain you if I go…

I must find some use for myself. That has become imperative, clearly. Perhaps I should have Dr. Mason over for dinner some night very soon, so he may tell me more of this other life he knows…