My dear Rosie;
If you could only see the pile of crumpled parchments littering the floor of my tent, you would laugh at me. Eanrin certain has though he laughs at most things I do nowadays.
I started so many letters to you as Princess, or Queen, or Varvare, or Her Royal Majesty; so many letters begun in the proper way. But when I write to a queen, the words get tangled between my thoughts and my quill and all that comes out is an ink-stained mess. I’m afraid you’re still Rosie to me.
I can’t recall the queen with much clarity; I didn’t know her in that form nearly long enough. But Rosie is pressed deep into my heart. Not Rose Red, the veiled phantom, or Rose, the servant despised by the kingdom, or the friend whom I, in my accursed cowardice, betrayed. In my mind’s eye, you are Rosie, the girl with whom I sailed twigs and leaves as mighty oceans vessels upon a muddy pond. You’re Rosie, the one who chased me up over, and around that forested mountain.
Rosie is the girl who knows me as no other person ever has. At one time, I was lucky enough to know her, too, even to be her friend!
How I long to be your friend again, dear Rosie. Of all the things that my selfish heart desires — my kingdom restored, my reputation repaired, my foolishness erased — it desires most your friendship. And this, the most undeserved of treasures! I can hardly dare to hope that you might one day look past my cowardice, my selfishness, my pride, my repugnant actions, and yet deign to be my friend.
I deserve your scorn, your derision, your hatred; this I know with certainty. Yet I ask instead for your forgiveness, and perhaps one day your friendship. I will not ask for your love. Even my hopes are not that grand.
Yet hope I do. My heart fairly sings with the hope that I might someday hear you call to me, and feel no shame as I approach you, my dearest friend. I hope to take your hands in mine, to dance under Hylumé’s crystalline face. I hope to hear every word in every language spoken by your lips, and see every expression cross your face.
You see what a fool I am? A broken man, a penniless jester, no longer even a prince, seeking the friendship of the fairest Rose ever to bloom. It is a foolish hope, this dream of mine, but it is true.
My heart is no longer mine to give, yet in the hands of my Master, it beats the sound of your name. Forgive me, Rosie. Please forgive me.
Childe Lionheart leaned back, glanced over his letter, and immediately swept it into the coal brazier at his feet. He had no business writing to her; he a jester who wanted to be a knight and did not even have a home, and she a queen!
He sighed and regarded what had once been a plentiful stock of parchments, now dwindled to only several lonely sheets by his mad impulse to beg forgiveness for the hundredth time. He would write again — and burn it again — tomorrow.