"Love, though said to be afflicted with blindness, is a vigilant watchman . . ."

- Charles Dickens,Our Mutual Friend

"Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice."

- Woodrow Wilson

In the old stories of the Norse, the Alfar were the demigods, the elves, the near-immortals who walked the mortal coil. They were beautiful, radiant, handsome creatures, tall and proud. Wherever they walked, life came and spring followed. These semi-deities were blessed with incredible powers; they could walk through walls, generate magic, call sunlight, and charm the birds out of the sky with their voices. But what the Alfar were truly famous for was their love. The Alfar would find mortal men and women, and fall desperately in love with them. And if one accepted an Alfar's love, one would gain an eternally faithful companion and timelessness.

It is said by some that the Alfar, immortals, disappeared when nobody believed in them. But the immortals are still there, in the shadows. Elves, dwarves, faeries, mages…and vampires. And so it is that a certain chevalier, an Alfar in his own right, watches the woman he loves. She sleeps now, this girl called Saya, and he waits. She will awaken one day, her skin as warm and soft as the first lilies of spring, and Haji will be waiting for her, as he has always done. Every time she wakes up, this Alfar works so hard for her to love him again, as he does her. And he hopes that she will accept this immortal's love, for the aches of godhood are troublesome things.

Immortality is no great gift, no wonderful blessing. Only the truly depraved seek out godhood and understand the full costs. All this immortal can do is watch as the years pass by. He sees nothing new happen, nothing original emerge from under the sun. All that happens is the great cycle. Something is formed, revolutionizes, and then dies, only to be reformed later on. What it all comes down to for an immortal is spending an undying eternity watching everything end and decay over and over again. He is quiet, this Alfar, and companions do not come to him naturally. Alone, he is an island by exile as much as choice. For that is the price for loving his queen.

And indeed, his mistress sleeps for many years. Through a hundred epiphanies, he waits for her. Outside, so much is waiting for him. There are women who would gladly love him on first sight if they saw him. There is music to be played and night air to breathe under the lamps of the heavens, under moon and sun. There is blood to taste and beds to rest. But instead, he guards and waits his beloved. And every day, every hour is a Hell, a torture when he is away from her. And even when she awakens, sometimes he wishes that she only remained in her slumber, for all it is worth.

The pain of her awakenings is a horrible memory. Every lifetime that she wakes up to, she forgets her chevalier. And so he has to stay in the gloom watching and waiting. Sometimes she even takes other lovers, and his heart breaks into thousands of pieces. And there is always the fear, the insurmountable fear of rejection. The myths of the world are filled with the stories of those who rejected an immortal's love. They usually conclude with the Alfar seeing his beloved only one more time before moving beyond the veil. He knows this pain well, and thinks that maybe he won't be with her at the end of the long road. How many times have you learned his name, dear Saya? How many times?

But humans often forget. Any immortal is patient being for their goals. It just comes naturally to one that sees the decades flow like water from his claws. Even if she picks another mate, this Alfar will be there at the end, still waiting, for he can afford these reveries. And the mortal world is not completely filled with idiots. Things end, true, but they come back in time. And it is always so fascinating to see just how they will change and reform. Penny-dreadfuls became comics, which became manga, which will undoubtedly change into something else by the end of the decade. And messengers became letters, which became mail, which became e-mail, and horses to cars and candles to light bulbs and so forth and so forth. In short, the evolution of culture is fascinating to watch, and can make the waiting almost bearable.

And even that's not too terrible. Guarding his dear queen, this Alfar reminisces and hopes. It is a small consolation, but it is fruitful. For in his dreams, in his half-spun fantasies, he conjures human images of love and unity. He perfects his arts, and wryly goes with change as it is seen fit. And he laughs while humanity speculates on history, as if their half-formed theories justify the past. The past is only real to someone who experienced it, who remembers it. When nobody remembers those times, when all the heroes are dead, then and only then is the past deceased and cremated into translation.

Her rebirths are what he breathes for, though. There is pain in them, yes, but there is pain in all birth. When she awakens from her hibernation, her skin warm as sunlight and soft as rose petals, he eagerly follows her and slips back into her life. And one way or another, their hearts connect. It's given him a dozen good memories while those resigned to mundane life spans only receive them once. How many first glances at each other? How many first kisses? How many first times, under Hecate's vigilant eyes? And every time is sweeter, stronger, like the first breath a fish takes when it flops back into the water. She will wake up, in due time, and he will feel these things again. Concealing his claws, he strokes his talons through her hair and sighs, content with his sanctuary and her brown eyes.

She is Alfheim to him, home to the near-god. Filled with springtime and youth, dark as the void between summer stars, or bright as the reflected radiance from the white of flower. She is his beloved, the one thing he cherishes more than anything in the world. There is nothing he would not do for her, nothing he does not dream of that does not have her by his side. Perhaps, he hopes, he will not be there in the end, not be her chevalier. Perhaps, instead, in a very mortal dream, before immortality engulfs them, she will hold his hand, look into his eyes and say, "I do."

Hopefully, this wasn't so sweet as to give you diabetes, or so terrible as to make you vomit. Either way, I like to think that you'll remember it in the end.