He was the first to join me. He stayed by my side through thick and thin, providing me with much-needed advice and knowledge. Even when the shouting strangers came and carted us off in metal machines, he stayed with me. I owe him my life several times over.
And – dear God – the first time I realized what he truly meant to me, he'd been gone for nearly a year.
Now he's always with me – a mere ghost from the short time we spent together. A familiar coconut-clap beside me when I go riding. A soft voice correcting me when I mistake three for five. Another pair of eyes in the search for grails and shrubberies. Another se of feet running away. A scientific explanation during a long journey.
The day it came to me, I thought my heart would burst from the onslaught of pain and emotion.
And now I know I can no longer spend another day without him – without thanking him for all he did and all he continues to do; without begging his forgiveness for our parting; without him holding me as I cry into his shoulder, whispering words of comfort and love.
I summon Patsy, and tell him to prepare for a journey. A trademark of our friendship is his lack of questioning. He already knows where we're going.
Two day's ride without ceasing brings us to his village at daybreak. A line of smoke and a series of shouts from the forest assure me we will not be interrupted.
"Stay," I mutter. Patsy nods, and I dismount and make my way toward the building I assume is his. I remember this is where I first saw him, trying to explain the logical process of identifying witches. I smile at the memory of the confused peasants, and how patient he was with them.
The stairs bring me to a room full of gadgetry and oddly colored liquid. I rush to the ladder in the back that's hidden in shadows, being careful not to knock anything over.
I feel my heart leap higher in my throat as I ascend each rung. What can I say to him? "Good day, Sir Bedevere. Sorry about abandoning you and all that, just thought I'd pop over to say I'm madly in love with you." The absurdity almost makes me laugh out loud.
Suddenly I'm standing in front of a door. I swallow and take a few deep breaths, then grasp the knob and twist with the decisiveness that comes with my station and not my spirit.
The room is empty. A neatly made bed stands along one wall, a rectangular table on the other. The light of dawn and the twittering of swallows enter from the window on the far wall. There's no evidence other than the bed to suggest anyone ever lived here.
Immediately, I fear the worst. Has he left this land, or perhaps even this world? For the first time since my youth, I feel the all-consuming sense of helplessness no king has ever felt. My dearest friend, my faithful companion is gone, having never truly known the extent of my feelings for him…
Oh God. Oh God. It's him. At first it's a dream, but no, I actually heard him speak. My eyes turn to confirm what my heart already knows.
The way the dawn lights his handsome features…it's perfect. He's smiling. Dear Lord, the way his lips move…
"How long I have waited for you."
His name floats past my breath, both the answer to my prayers and the song of my heart. "Bedevere…"
I scarcely take a step before I collapse in his arms, weeping like a newborn. Just like in the dreams, he runs his hands up and down my back soothingly.
"So…sorry…I w-wanted to…" are the only words I can manage.
"Shh, it's alright, my liege…" he murmurs, softly caressing my cheek. Two fingers trail down to my chin, lifting gently. "My love…" The partial face guard is casually torn off, and finally, finally, his lips press against mine.
I respond with passion at first, then hold back to better appreciate the thoughtful gesture. His movements are gentle, his kiss loving, his touch caring. Is this what heaven feels like…?
We regretfully part for air, and I wrap my arms around his thin shoulders. He responds in kind, holding me like a man would his wife. And for the first time in a year, I am whole. Complete. Home.