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Here is what I know:
My name is Caoimhe. My wife cannot say my name correctly, but I cannot say hers either, so I suppose that is fair. My wife, Adalheidis, pretended to be a man for a long time. This is the only reason we are allowed to be married—the only reason we met. I am glad for it. She is my world; our son is my universe.
Caedmon, our son. An Irish poet warrior. Our son.
My brother, Tadgh. Our friend and, I suppose, midwife, Eir. Our friends Myrina and Cassiopeia. The King and Queen, our now family—my new family, the one I was half-traded to.
My father’s insistence on the illegitimacy of our marriage. The fire in my wife’s amber-hazel eyes. My husband-wife, my King-Queen. Would that I could explain to you the love I have for her. Would that I could explain to you how our son was conceived—though I imagine the traditional way, with a little help from magic.
Caedmon, my greatest love, whose entrance to the world nearly killed me. The fear of revealing that to his Mama—knowing how she felt when she nearly slipped away from me, not bearing to be able to do that to her.
I taught my wife my native language. She spoke enough of it to communicate, and I suppose our souls filled in the remaining gaps.
My wife—Ada, my love, my dearest heart—teases me for my witchy ways. As if she has none of her own.
My wife taught me her language as we traveled to her home—to our home, now. I suppose her native language is the language of our love—I fell for her in it, the same way I learned her in my own. She taught me Latin to write and speak; the language of Learning became how I saw the world as the Queen’s consort, the almost-Queen princess.
I do not regret my love. She is the greatest Queen to roam the earth, and she quite eclipses the Kings she leaves in her wake.
Our son, she tells me, may be the least soldiered King to come. He will follow in his mother’s footsteps, become a great ruler, be the man a kingdom needs to survive.
My wife has many conquests. I am quite satisfied to be what she calls her greatest.
I am wild, I know this—Irish Fire, she calls me. I suppose I burn when touched, should the wrong person attempt. But she is impervious to my flames, or perhaps her love and mine protect her. I am, admittedly, more than she should—but never can—handle. I believe she simply chooses not to handle parts of me.
You cannot stop an Irish mother defending her child—barefoot on the battlefield or not.
There is a moment, when your body attempts to give in to the cruelty of Death and his demons, where you have a choice.
Mine looked like my Ada. It looked like my wife, my love, standing by a pyre, our infant baby in her arms, both beings I loved so fiercely sick with grief. And it looked like our Eir, kneeling with me, her mystery eyes dark with knowing, guiding my mind and sight to my wife, spilling tears and holding the newborn child that nearly ended me.
Perhaps I loved my little Caedmon too much to let him go—perhaps I did not understand that to give him to the world would only mean sharing him a little, not losing him. But if my love for my baby nearly killed me, my love for my Ada saved me.
I loved her too much to leave her.
But it was close. Without Eir, we both would have lost that day.
I do not believe our mysterious friend knows that if she wanted the kingdom, all she need to is ask—we would be forced to give it to her, our debt to her is so great.
And I think back to the binding of my wedding—our sounds were bound.
Had I died that day, would Ada have died with me?
Where would that have left our son?
I have no answers. I know so little. I am not sure I would have more answers if I knew more.
The King and Queen age. I fear their fall. They have become a kind of surrogate family, have shown me little else but kindness. I love them dearly, and especially after Caedmon’s birth, believe they love me. While Ada cannot take her place while they live—
I do not look forward to the day my wife is crowned. I do not believe she does, either.
I wish there was more time.
Time, it seems, is the one thing none of us can manage.