A bit later this week will be the birthday of a dear friend. He might expect that there would be no marking of the moment, little in the way of remembering that important event. But the thing is, I’m not one to overlook moments shared when …
For Elliot …
Night in the Realm takes on aspects that offer shades of truth and vision. That is to say, for some, the night brings encounters where they see stars or other heavenly bodies which may or may not be found in the charts that map out the constellations above. Others never see the skies, the lights of the Realm being, in some places, just enough to overcome the stars, covering them in a haze of light and leaving those entwined in their own passage through the heavens to their own devices and discoveries.
But not all parts of the Realm are covered in lights; not all places have their own glow to captivate one’s attention without looking above. They are few and far between, but, for some, it is these places, and these moments, that open far more than the universe. They provide something more precious, more treasured than can be explained in words themselves. It is the actions which tell volumes.
Few in the Realm visit the Royal Astronomical Observatory. Fewer still know why it is located where it is. The Palace grounds lay some distance to the south of the Observatory, the centre of the Realm quite some more distance beyond that. One might, however, on a crisp, clear day, when the winds blew the tops of the tallest trees in the right way, catch glimpse of the snow-white tip of the main dome marking the building proper. A bare handful know why, precisely, there is but one path to what is called “The Sanctuary,” why the land upon which this all resides is called on the maps … “Moongazer.”
And only two know, in truth, why all this matters so.
The moon over the Realm waxes and wanes throughout the year. Much of the time the colour is a crisp white. On occasion there is a blue moon; some think that happens when the Queen of the Realm is feeling blue, but she only ever answers queries about this with a bemused smile.
Once a year—but only once and only on one specific evening—the moon rises from its sleep and begins to travel across the darkening sky as the sun bathes itself by the Lake of Fire. In that moment when sun sends arcs of red across the horizon, the moon turns a particular shade of red that is very reminiscent of a certain red-tail herself. Rather than rising high into the sky, the moon seems to hug the curvature of the horizon, almost like a ball being propelled across a table. The reddish hue remains, shadows of light and dark flickering over the valleys and peaks of its surface. The moon seems so large against the mountain ranges which seems to support it, the waters of the Lake like glass reflecting the moonlight in reply.
In the midst of this celestial dance, a solitary figure makes her way across the Realm. It is summer, but the warmth of day is slowly dissipating as the night’s cooler air seeps into the land. High heels have given way to flats: the path is, after all, made of rough gravel, not meant for sharp heels or similar things. This is a time for reflection, for consideration.
Tucking a lock of wild ebon hair behind one ear, she recalls the first hello, the moment which gave rise to all the moments that came after. The sound of the gravel underfoot seems to punctuate the moments in time: dearest expressions of something shared and desired, but in a way that gave new means to understanding what desire is; words spoken and written which seemed so simple and yet contained truths shared that no other words could.
Eventually the path begins to curve, to encircle the focus of her travels this night. In the depth of night now fallen upon the Realm, through the forests which surround this dearly-held place, brief glimpses of rough hewn stone topped with gleaming white panels appear. Curiosity drives all beings, the quest for knowledge even more so. As the tree line gives way, the quiet reverence of the temple to the celestial spheres makes itself known. Framed in the moon, curve below echoed by curve above, the symmetry of the universe, on this night, is made clear. She pauses there, on the edge of this “Sanctuary,” looking on the scene.
Crossing over the boundary, she doesn’t take the path towards the gates of the observatory, but rather she continues around the side of the circular building, on the circular path. Following the arc, the moon soon slips free of its dance partner this night. Off in the distance, an old wrought iron park bench now comes into view. Beyond that, just coming around the edge of this temple of both passion and reason, her Dearest appears. She notes his expression from afar, being sure that he could well reflect upon her own. Neither had brought burdens with them, being sure that the other was there and, in truth, this was all that mattered in the moment.
As in their first meeting, as in every one since, the moon, stars, and space await their arrival. The universe holds … not its breath, but rather its time. Everything could wait for the moment to be.
The embrace is loving, gentle. Words are not spoken, for they aren’t needed in this. The embrace gives way to holding hands, regarding each other. The time they have is all that matters, the time given comes and goes and is cherished for all that it allows these two souls passing in the night. The moon’s light bathes the scene—not to overcome it, but to illuminate the pair in their gathering of thoughts and emotions.
The bench is cool beneath as they settle in for the night. Fingers laced, he brings her hand to his lips, touching lightly. Her ebon mane drapes to the side as she rests her head upon his shoulder, their eyes watching the performance of the moon beyond.
The heart of the moon, marked in the sky, is matched by the hearts of two souls in understanding, moongazing both above and below, the passage of time held in the perfection of night, moon, and stars.
That is why the Observatory is up here. That is what these two friends discovered together: in the Realm, passion and reason walk hand in hand, hold each other like lovers, merging and never letting go. This Sanctuary is where these two intertwined souls may hold one another and observe their attachment playing out throughout this universe, and where, each year, they can grow with it and help it grow.
This is the dearest of moments held between two dearest of friends, in moongazing, but much more.