To Sleep, To Dream
Flayn yawned and stretched, groping for a familiar body on the other side of the bed.
But she was not in a bed, and her beloved was not there.
Her next clue something was wrong was the chill in the air. It was stagnant and still. She sat up with a gasp, but she wasn’t alone in the dark. Her father sat next to her in a chair, reading a book by lantern light.
“Is he…?” Flayn croaked, voice rough from disuse.
Seteth’s expression told her what she needed to know even before he spoke. “I am afraid so.”
Flayn flung herself into his arms and wept. Seteth stroked her hair and held her until her tears ran dry.
“Was this how you felt when Mother died?” she murmured against his shoulder.
“I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it will always hurt.”
“And yet I would do it again. I was so very, very happy.”
Seteth stroked her hair. “And someday, when you are ready to love again, you will know that happiness once more.”
Flayn nodded. It would be a very long time indeed. She sighed and looked around at the darkness of the tomb.
“How long?” she asked.
“One hundred thirty-seven years.”
Flayn hung her head. The world had surely forgotten about her by now.
“Your grandchildren are old, but a few still live. Your descendants visit every year on Saint Cethleann Day, but they come to remember Queen Flayn and celebrate your life. All of Fódlan holds a feast on the anniversary of your marriage.”
Flayn’s eyes filled with tears anew, and her heart twisted in her chest like a rag wrung dry. “Then he did not forget me?”
Seteth chuckled and gestured to some crates piled along the wall, barely visible in the darkness. “He wrote to you every day. When he could no longer hold a quill, he dictated. He left records of every meal you ever cooked him. You fill his diaries. I was unsure of how he felt about you, but he left me no doubt.” He sighed. “I wondered at your choice, at first. Now I am convinced you made the right one.”
“I know.” Flayn sniffled. “May I?”
Seteth swept his arms toward the crates, kissed her forehead, and departed. Flayn slipped from the bed—it resembled a coffin, for all it was very comfortable—and shuffled on unsteady legs toward the crates. She lifted the lid, and inside were journals and stacks and stacks of letters—hundreds of them. The crates were full of letters from Dimitri, her children, even her grandchildren.
Tears rolled down her face as she traced Dimitri’s beloved handwriting. In all her centuries of life, he had fulfilled her. He had been the truest husband a person could ask for. Although she had fallen into the dreaded slumber, he had kept his promise. The world had not forgotten her. She would return the favor for the rest of her days. Dimitri would always be in her heart.
Flayn smiled, opened the first letter, and began to read.