He first meets you in that place, that dark, morbid place. The war is not kind, nothing about this world is kind. Its name is Twisted Wonderland after all. How twisted must a world be to be named such?
At first, General Vanrouge looks down upon you. After all, you are, but a mere human. You are such a minor being, so easily killed, so easily removed from the battlefront forever. You are... so very fragile. Just a little mortal healer, playing with the lives of soldiers.
You’re just a tired mortal ( and your eyes have the same look his do and he almost feels sympathy), forced into battle for your magic and skill. Healers like you don’t usually have a choice. Especially if their Unique Magic is related to medicine.
And with a teleportation spell gone wrong, he lands in your territory, with a young soldier cradled in his arms, wounded so badly he can only hope the boy will survive. His sight blurs as you burst from the door of your small cottage. He shouldn’t sleep, he needs to stay awake, needs to protect the wounded, needs to continue fighting.
You find him huddled over the young soldier’s body, almost as if he’s protecting a child (he does because a child shouldn’t have been thrust into a war). The hardened look on his face diminishes as he passes out (he almost looks young). You take him and the soldier into your home.
He wakes up. Wakes up and realizes he’s not where he’s supposed to be. General Vanrouge (Lilia, always just Lilia to you) doesn’t realize, but this meeting would be a defining moment for the future alliance between Man and Fae. It would also be the very reason for his hurt. Something that will kill him over and over and over again until he’s nothing but a tragic husk of whom he once was.
You are, and always will be, a testament to the fact that he is weak.
“Will you stay?”
“You know I can’t. Not yet.”
“Then I’ll wait for you. Forever and always.”
“Do as you will.”
He leaves, taking the young soldier from under your care and bringing him back home. You’d miss the little things the general did for you. Just small, little things that made you happy. And when he leaves, he takes a certain warmth of your little home with him. But you’ll wait (you promised after all), even if you freeze.
After nearly a year and a half (but practically a second for the unaging), there are talks of a treaty, perhaps even an alliance. The whispers are tired and old. Nobody wants a war that lasts forever.
Barely a few months later, you receive a letter.
When Lilia is no longer General Vanrouge and has returned to being Lord of House Vanrouge, he meets with you as part of the diplomatic delegation sent by the kingdoms of man. He is, but a vassal of the great Witch of Thorns, the current monarch of the Briar Valley.
And he is Lilia Vanrouge, the same one who carries you to the top of the castle and star-gazes with you until you fall asleep. He’s the same Lilia who dances with you after all the political nonsense is over for the day and the same Lilia who learns to sing in the gardens.
You’re the one who teaches him how to feel, the one who makes him feel almost human. even if Crowley and Zigvolt harass (teased would be a better word for it, that’s what you always said) him over his feelings for you, he knows that this is the happiest he’s been in a very long time.
Even after you leave, with a promise to wait, he's happy. Even when he has to meet with snooty nobles and return to the political side of his duties as Lord Vanrouge, he's happy. Because he has you to keep him company on his loneliest days and the nights where everything hurts more than usual.
(Until he doesn't and he has to cradle the broken form of your body in his arms).
The last time he sees you is after the treaty is signed and finalized between Fae and humankind. You waited, just as you promised. But you’re no longer there (or is it here in this land where you shall remain forever) and your body hangs from the ramparts of a kingdom he couldn’t remember the name of.
There was no point in trying to remember its name. It no longer exists, not after what they did to you. He knows you were hunted for merely helping him. He knows you knew this would happen. He knows it’s his fault. He wasn’t even given the chance to love you properly and it’s all his fault.
Lilia isn’t cruel, not so much as he was before you. so he spares the innocent, relocating them to the Queendom of Roses or one of the other kingdoms participating in the treaty.
But he is still General Vanrouge, so he’s merciless when it comes to those pathetic royals who thought they could kill you and get away with it. He gives them the same treatment they gave you, but worse. So much worse that their cries and begs for death will fall upon his deaf ears. Mutilated bodies will hang from the ramparts just as yours did and their luxuries set ablaze with destructive magic.
He doubted that the citizens would miss them anyway.
(But you're cozy little cottage would be a place he could never return to again. All that remains are ashes and a cold reminder that it was his fault).
And after that's all said and done, he mourns. Or at least, he's supposed to. Lilia doesn't remember how to mourn. You never had the chance to teach him. He throws himself back into battle, winning awards and medals for his reckless behaviour. Then he's pulled out. Out and away from his only distraction, the only thing that keeps him from falling apart. By order of the Queen, he's no longer allowed to fight (not that there are many more to fight anyway).
He wants to beg and plead for forgiveness, to have you back, but he knows that you'd think there wasn't anything to be forgiven. Lilia almost wishes he could be like you. So full of love and kindness, so eager to explain the meanings of several flowers that grow in your garden.
But what is love without suffering, without a tragedy? What romance isn't escapism? What is he without you to guide him? Who even is he?
Then they give him a child. A child. They gave him a child to take care of despite the many destroyed rooms and all the drugs that lay in the corner of that room. That same room where he desperately tried so so many times to meet you again. But it was an order (likely a flimsy attempt at an intervention), one that he could not ignore because the child had lost his parents (the two royals he had sworn to serve, to protect).
They put the future king of the Briar Valley under the care of a failure like him. His eyes look just like yours.
(He doesn't know what to do anymore. Everyone else is dead, dead or gone).
Thousands of years later, General Vanrouge is near-forgotten and Lilia Vanrouge is all that remains. As he sits in his dorm room at the ever so prestigious Night Raven College, he realizes that he can’t even remember your face. No paintings could ever last the thousands of years he’s lived, he doubts that a photograph made from modern technology could’ve lasted that long either.
He knows that history doesn’t remember you well either. You should’ve been given more, but you’re only barely written into the history books. All the paintings of you in his residence are marred and the same goes for those in the castle. (All those frantic paintings he created to immortalize your image after your death were gone).
Nothing lasts forever (except, maybe, his desperate love for you, but it hurts so bright it leaves marks and scars on his heart). No matter how much he pores over the many relics you left for him, he can’t seem to remember. Not your face, your voice, your touch, not anything.
The realization brings back that choking feeling from before. The same feeling he had on those days. The smoke will never clear.
Just a lonely reminder that he’s lost you and you’re never coming back. He can only wonder how much time he has left in this world. You’ve gone somewhere he can’t follow, somewhere he thinks he’ll never be able to go. You’re too good, so much better than him. Surely, someone like him could never be given the chance to return to someone like you.
Lilia is okay now. He's content, but nowhere near happy and he never will be if he can't see you again.
(Because someone put the stars in your eyes then took you away and now he can never look at the night sky again).
(And what is the lonely moon without the stars to keep it company).