I'd hoped for more feedback last time… if you don't like it, just tell me! But now, on with the epilogue~

The thoughts from yesterday forgotten
I like the way this new skin feels
Bring me splinters of tomorrow
Collect the parts where I win

Against the grain
Against the odds
I'll rise and I won't trip again
The dawn of a new day never looked
As good as this

In Flames "Dawn of a New Day"

So finally, finally there is a goal, not to say a mission, a reason, not to say a base, for this life hauled out of living hell and stuffed into appearances of consecutively varying nature, some of his choice, most of listless conformism with outside circumstances and demands. With that reason the life can be lead, substantiated, excused, directed, persistently navigating towards that goal among the mildly distracting everyday.

The everyday he had already tamed with the tiny efforts of constant adjusting to the prepared role which seems to stick onto him so naturally that the stiff artificiality evaporates, leaving him nonchalantly improvising the remaining details of his present figure. And it is indeed all details, only mere secondary details, now that he knows how to deal with both the days meticulously ticking away second by second and the wider glance over his sustained existence, that which seeks defences and pretexts for that sustaining. Neither of those would be enough, that much is apparent, but once both are granted, it should all work out one way or another.

So he drifts through the vital however malleable everyday, somewhere at the back of his head aware of its importance and of the accepted goal, but consciously focusing on the superficial delights of picking and sorting the layers of his costume, to the hostesses' open enjoyment.

There are the exact, nearly cheerful clanks and clinks of steely sharp scissors cutting away the lengths of his hair he thinks redundant, shaping the rest into fancy tresses cloaking his head and, specifically, carefully obscuring his empty eye-socket with a curtain of thick fringe; only sometimes does he lift the locks and stare into the mirror with the permanent hollowness no longer masked by white bandages.

There are smooth materials in the vivid colours of violet, cream, blue, further rendered into lavishly constructed pieces of clothing hiding in the nooks and crannies of cuffs, seams, linings and trimmings a vast reserve of tongue-twisting confections he produces magically to Miss Sharon's sweet amusement; and the combined sweetness slowly outlives the resident bitterness.

There are endlessly new clown antics played with half-hearted seriousness and full-hearted mockery on himself and, gradually, on other people as well; there are sparkling rosy eyes appearing adorably huge in a child's face, quietly content smile in other rosy eyes, and hostile suspicion dying away in little by little less doubtful eyes of everyone else.

There are the girl's small hands presenting him with a proud gift of perfect finishing point to his composition of apparel – a long-haired creepy doll with empty-looking white eyes and a wild smile which enthusiastically matches his own idiotic grin, in a pink dress over disproportionate legs.

"This is Emily," says Miss Sharon as he crouches to let her situate the toy on his shoulder, and he decides not to ask where the young lady took something like that from. An easily recalled trick of ventriloquism completes the picture.

There are rumours, words, which transform into a possibility and into a decision; and with the skin on his chest pricking only slightly under the irremovable testimony of a full seal he volunteers to form another contract – a new contract to fulfil the obligation resulting from the first contract – and investigate the pit of damnation he probably knows more about than all those people put together, but cannot, of course, let on.

There is a spark of the power of the Abyss burning in his hollow eye instead of the scarlet which the Abyss took away, burning under a wastefully decorated top hat, ready to burn away other offspring of the Abyss if unleashed, weighing upon his body.

There are relations and relationships, and companions, and that guy hanging about in the Rainsworth mansion that he can load with writing his reports and who talks to him friendlily despite those shouts and that hit back then.

There is elegant, sincere although exaggeration-flavoured, gallantry towards Miss Sharon, of whom he takes close care as her personal servant and who hurries after him with sings of true fondness, craving to help in what she senses is important to him.

And there is a wide grin which covers all that and more, a touch to the brim of the hat and a lick to the lollipop, and it is rather all right, after all, isn't it, Mr. Mad Hatter?

My, my, it's over~

Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, faved and/or otherwise supported the story and my work on it, either from the start or from any other point in time! It is very kind of you ^-^

Now I should really write a love story… or some meerkats :P