Everything in italics is set during RedRays and the Almost-Death of Alastair Cruciatus, the rest is from a conversation I had with Adra in between plots much later on.
"So you've always been moving? Have you ever thought about getting a permanent place? I don't know, maybe something on the mundane British countryside?"
"I've never actually considered it. I make an effort not to return to the same place more than once- with the exception of Aretha's place. And I never actually stay there, it's just our meeting point."
"Hm... I can't really see you doing the whole domestic thing. At least, not right now." She shrugged. "I've bought a few houses over the years... One in America, a beautiful island in Greece, in Russia... And one in Ireland. Of course, work was always calling so I only stayed in a certain house for five years, tops, but it wasn't too shoddy."
"I can see the advantage of having places like that. If nothing else, it must me nice to have somewhere you know you'll be safe if you need it. I would even go so far as to say that having your own place contributes to the feeling of having a steady life. At the very least it's a constant. But I've never had any real need for constants. Not the way I live."
She got up to make herself some tea. "Just because it's where you live doesn't mean it's home. And just because it's home doesn't mean it's safe."
"That's true. I suppose some part of me is still stuck on memories from over 500 years ago. It's different for everyone, I'm sure. Aretha certainly views her place as home, but many people don't. What is your definition of home, then?"
She never answered, but the question made me think. It seemed obvious the moment I realized it. But to explain how I came to that realization, I'll tell you the tale of how I came back.
127 years in the past
There is a certain kind of peace that comes from being trapped in time; a kind of deep serenity you feel when you realize that, for you, one moment has become forever, and nothing in that moment will ever change or end, grow old or wither and die. Time, arguably one of the most persistent forces in the universe, has forever come to a halt. I have found, however, that such pleasant feelings begin to fade once you realize that while nothing will ever die in that moment, nothing will ever life either.
Once I came to understand that, I felt much more like a prisoner than I ever had. At least in that form of entrapment, I was incapable of harming anyone, and free from the influence of my other names. Once I thought about it, I realized that was the first time I had been able to think without them. The lack of endless screaming and murmurs was certainly a welcome relief. All things considered, I would have willingly stayed in that moment, unchanging, for the rest of eternity. I had only one reason not to- Aretha.
I had instructed her to kill my body before Alastair woke and began to wreak havoc on the world, which was inevitable, yet I knew full well that she would not do so. I had hidden a message in my letter to her that I was certain she would find, however I doubted she would be able to discover it and then follow through before Alastair awoke, which meant the only way for me to stop him from killing her and countless other innocents- not that I had ever been able to spare their lives anyway- was to somehow return. But such a feat is quite impossible for a consciousness trapped in time and unwilling to harm another human. Then again, impossible never stopped Aretha.