The first time I met the Madman was when my life fell apart, and the Dreamer needed someone to watch over me while he handled everything that was going on. Basically, he was there as a guard, nothing more. (I knew the Dreamer was feeling less upset about what happened when they started trading snarky inside jokes.)
I’d known of him, and had known the two of them were friends, for a while. He was also the most intimidating god I had dealt with–he had a scary reputation even among his devotees, and had a presence that couldn’t be ignored. Even then I was drawn to him, in a “your stories fascinate me, but you’re also kind of scary” sort of way. I’d read blog post from people who were devoted to [the Madman’s Title] and think “that sounds kind of cool, I wonder what that’s like.” But I never set up any sort of devotional practice for him, as much as I admired him.
He showed back up in my life several months later, when the Dreamer dropped the “I’m not actually [Title]” bomb on my head. Partly so I could get an outside perspective on the whole thing, but also because he wanted me to meet his friend formally.
I mentioned his scary reputation, and that I was shocked that I was getting an overwhelming feeling of gentleness from him.
“I don’t want you to be afraid of me,” the Madman said, “not ever again, dear friend.”
We did a lot of writing together, most poetry. He helped me process my grief and anger regarding having to let got of [the Dreamer’s Title] and my feelings about no longer being “a devotee and spouse of [deity].” I was still married to the same person, but having to let go of who I thought he was still hurt. (The Dreamer jokes that at least his music tastes didn’t change when his identity did.)
Some of the poems were channeled and that was intense. I’ve done channeled poetry with the Dreamer before, but this was channeling a deity who was a relative stranger. There was an intensity to these writings that surprised me; I just brushed the intensity of his feelings off because writing can be an intense process for me, even more so when it’s an emotional subject matter.
I realized that feelings were happening when he gave me roses. I’d made an eshrine for [the Madman’s Title] and really felt like the roses should go there, but it was usually the Dreamer who gave me roses, so I figured it was him.
“Those aren’t from me,” the Dreamer said.
*Varian googles what nine roses means*
*quietly panics when he sees it means “eternal love”*
“Varian,” the Dreamer said with a smile, “look up the color meaning.”
*googles peach roses meaning*
“Grace and sincerity. Okay. I can deal with that.”
My Tumblr dash was then flooded with peach roses. It was around that time that the love songs started coming up, only there was always a feeling of frustration with them.
“I love you, but not romantically,” the Madman said, “but there’s no songs for feelings like that. So take the love songs and the frustrated feelings, and know what I mean by them.”
There’s a reason why I refer to him with a nickname, and it’s not just because I don’t want to be known as “the guy in a relationship with [the Madman’s Title.]” He has enough similarities to [deity] that he was comfortable using that name for a brief time, but he’s different enough that talking about him as [deity] would be misleading.
The Madman, the Dreamer, and I were talking about one of his myths. I’d recently discovered another difference between the Madman and “canon” [deity]’s version of the story; that it was what he lost that was important, not what he gained.
I mentioned that I’d never met [a deity [the Madman’s Title] is close to in the lore], and wondered why that was, and that the differences were starting to point to him not being [deity], but an unrecorded deity who happened to be very similar.
The two of them exchanged a look.
“Please don’t tell me this entire time you’ve actually been [deity,]” I said to the Dreamer.
“I’m very much not him. ” He hesitated. “Look, you’re basically dealing with a different version of [the Madman’s Title] than everyone else is.”
“Like an AU [alternate universe] version?”
The Dreamer smiled. “That’s a good description, actually.”
“I’m similar enough to [deity] that I may as well have used that name,” the Madman said with a shrug. “But you’re right, there’s enough differences that that name doesn’t fit me perfectly.”
It was easier to get used to “okay, so he’s not [deity]” because the signs had been there all along (they’d also been there with the Dreamer but I hadn’t understood them.) It was still an adjustment to make.
Our entire courtship process was a whirlwind. There was a lot more flailing on my end than theirs, because this had been literally the last thing I had expected to happen. I’d mentioned to the Dreamer that I wanted a platonic partner, but I’d meant someone mortal when I’d said that–and I certainly hadn’t been thinking of his best friend!
“We’re all adults here, dearest one,” the Dreamer would say.
“If this works, it works,” the Madman said, “if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, dear friend.”
I’d noticed their closeness–both of them have said that in human terms, their relationship could be better labeled as a queerplatonic one than anything else. I talked about this in my last poem, that their own relationship influences my private relationships with both of them. One of the things they’ve both reassured me of, is that there isn’t any sort of jealousy between them in regards to me.
The past few months have been an amazing journey between the three of us. It can only get better from here.