Image taken from here. Some nondescript series spoilers.

I see a sadness in him.

It isn’t always apparent; it rather dances about his eyes, lurking behind them whenever he is unaware of being observed. He puts on a smile for his classmates and even for me, but at times I see the façade drop, the outer curtain fall, and see the true heart of him.

At times, it slips out in a single word, an utterance, a half sigh that escapes before he can contain it. Sorrow. His sorrow, a burden that however much others may want to help him with, he must bear alone. Loss is not something easily understood by outsiders, but an old and threatening foe that holds to us in our darkest hour. It trails along in our footsteps, a shadow unseen on the wall behind us, a reminder that life is fleeting. In an instant, so much can happen. So many things can unfold. A smile can turn into a laugh, a flirtation, a love … cut short, rendered to pieces, dashed upon the rocks and left to wither and die into a fragile memory.

He holds onto those memories, those sorrows… as I hold on to mine. We understand one another, both old friends in loss, but Doyle’s loss is more devastating… I had so much with my wife, so many happy hours, so many long conversations by the fireside; so many gentle embraces and caresses, so many whispers in the darkness. He has only fleeting moments, not enough to build a lifetime of memories on, a painful reminder that all that he hoped for, longed for, and desired, never will come to pass… at least, not with she who first captured his heart.

We do not speak of it often. He has no more wish to discuss it than I do, yet it is always in the air, a reminder that though our friendship endures, it is forever altered. Our association, though it continues to foster in friendship, is forever tainted by that first terrible experience, that first and miserable failure; by forces we could not halt in their path, by an unfathomable evil that took such horrific joy in destroying Doyle’s heart. It smashed all his hopes, and dreams, and his precious idealism, to pieces and I am left with the remnants…

And yet, though he does not see it yet, there is a strength in Doyle that fosters him, and keeps him moving forward. Through pain, through loss, through disappointment, though he seeks stimulation in his experiments, and his practice, and even at times in sickly sweet potions, he still survives. He endures. He goes on and day by day, he will come to learn, as I have done, that the hurt lessens a little, until one day, perhaps when he is old and gray as I am, and has children and grandchildren to love, he will find that it is a mere sting, a memory of a time when, remarkably, he found the strength to go on.

And go on, Doyle shall, if for no other reason than to prove he can.

There he is now, entering my classroom, glancing at me in passing, nodding faintly at me as he takes his seat. As if we are not friends, as if we do not spend hours discussing trivialities and important things alike, as if I do not see his duel self, the pain and the perseverance alike. He is the student now, and I am the professor more than a mentor, a father, or even a friend. It is pretense, but we play it. I indulge him as a father would a heartbroken son, both because I know the pain and the cure. And today, although I see it, that shadow dancing behind his eyes, I also see a glimmer of strength, perhaps even the beginnings of hope that perhaps the world is not so dark as he sees it, that a ray of light may yet burst upon us again.

Yes, yes. He will be all right.

In time.