The Falconer by Elizabeth May
“I’m someone who has slayed for you, who pulled you from that river, saved your life, and taught you all the ways to kill me and mine. But never make the mistake of thinking I’m a man. I aid you because I’ve deemed it necessary to do so. I don’t value honor”
“Aye.” I close my eyes. “When you decide to be kind. Like you telling me that you would never faestrike me.” “What about everything else?” “I’m reminded of why I should never let myself forget.” He places me gently into bed andeases the counterpane over my legs. “Take your own advice, Kam. You’ll find nothing human in me. Always remember that.”
“Did you love your human very much?” I ask. He sucks in a surprised breath. His whispered response is so low, I strain to hear him before sleep takes me completely. “I didn’t love her nearly enough.”
Now our boundaries are fading, and we grasp those last few secrets we still do have, because baring one’s soul is so much more difficult than pretending.
“To take in all of this, every calm moment you can. Breathe in the sight so deeply that the memory becomes a fundamental part of you. Sometimes, it will be all that’s left to ground you. I brought you here to give you that.”
“I want to be there with you until the end.”
He doesn’t speak. Instead, he grasps me by the collar of my coat and presses his lips to mine. Kiaran kisses me deeply, with an urgency I never thought him capable of. He kisses me like he knows he’s going to die. He kisses me like the world is going to end.
“Aoram dhuit,” he breathes. “I will worship thee.”
There, amid the chaos, I want to tell him something. That I wish I had more time with him, or that I regret never saying just how much I care for him.
The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
“You have no choice, Falconer. If this place burns, you’ll die with us.”
I sense Lonnrach’s surprise when Kiaran and I kiss, when Kiaran grabs my coat to pull me closer. This is one of my few memories that remains whole, complete. That kiss is imprinted in my mind: the press of Kiaran’s lips, his fingers against my skin. I know that kiss by heart.
The things that ended up mattering most in my prison had nothing to do with vengeance, or slaughtering the fae, or being a Falconer. They were dances. Laughter. Grief and friendship. Crushing embraces and hard goodbyes. Stolen kisses beneath a blood moon.
“You’ll always be Kiaran to me.”
He leans forward and kisses me once, softly. “I missed you.”
He whispers a word that makes me smile: “Together.”
“I see the way he looks at you.” I swallow, afraid of his answer. “And how is that?” “Like he wishes he was mortal.”
He is the faery whose gift is death and I am the girl whose gift is chaos.
Kiaran left a mark on me. It’s not physical, not like Lonnrach’s. It’s as if when my memories were emptied, my mind filled with pieces of Kiaran, feelings that kept me sane in the mirrored room. He did it without realizing and I let him without realizing. God, how I wish I hadn’t.
“I never fought by her side. I never faced an army with her and marveled at how exquisite she was in battle. I never tended to her injuries or watched the stars with her or went out of my mind trying to find her.”
“Every day I wonder when your human life will end, and it scares the hell out of me.” His words are hot on my skin. “You make me wish I didn’t have forever.”
A name. Just a name. If I had to start all over, maybe I wouldn’t choose to be Lady Aileana Kameron, daughter of the Marquess of Douglas. Or even Falconer, the girl whose gift is chaos. Maybe I’d just be Kam, the girl who endured.
It’s my reminder that I’d rather die on my own terms than live an eternity on someone else’s.”
“I chose you because you’re my equal.”
The Falling Kingdom by Elizabeth May
He whispered that shortened name like he loved the sound of it. Like he was telling me a secret. As if it meant I love you and I want you. As if it were a promise on his lips, a declaration. A vow.
Kam. That’s the one. I recall the sound of it between wild kisses, as if he would never tire of saying it. Kam. I love that name. I can feel him whispering it against the pulse at my throat. It meant everything. It said everything.
“Did I love him?” “More than anything.” It hurts to swallow. “Did he love me?” Rain taps against the roof. A breeze rattles the wooden door. When Derrick speaks, his voice is so soft, I strain to hear him. “He loved you so much that when you died, he might as well have died with you.”
“Wishes hold power. We believe that if you love someone and wish for them hard enough, they’ll return to you. Here you are. I loved you enough; we all did. I’m guessing he did, too.”
“You really intend on stretching the definition of dead until it loses all meaning, don’t you?”
Her strength isn’t physical. She wouldn’t go onto the battlefield for a slaughter. She’d go to aid the wounded, the vulnerable. It takes a rare, exceptional sort of bravery to lose everything and still give so much of yourself. That’s the kind of courage most people lose in a war.
Right. Just battle four dozen soldiers to get the attention of my lover, who may or may not be evil depending on what mood he’s in.
When it’s all over, I stare up at the castle, my breath coming fast. Now let me in, you stubborn arse. The doors to the castle open with an echo that can probably be heard across the sea. I smile. Got you, Kiaran MacKay.
“Both. Either. I don’t care. I just want you.” He cups my cheek. “Kam.” He says my name like he can’t say it enough. Like it’s his prayer. Like I’m his salvation. Then, in a voice just below a whisper, “Touch me.”
“Don’t disappear again, Kam. Don’t disappear.”
“He never told the girl that during a hunt, when she ran alongside him with the wind in her hair and the moonlight behind her, that she was the most magnificent thing he had ever seen and he wanted her.”
“And when the king watched her in battle, she’d look over at him with a smile and he desired her. “It was never at once,” he continued. “It was after everything they had gone through and then it was the king and the girl facing an entire army together. And he knew the truth. His heart was hers. It always was. It always will be.”
“The girl helps the king keep his darkness at bay.”
“You don’t seem to understand that he’s mine every bit as much as I’m his.”
“One day, you’ll tell people the story of the faery king and the human girl,” Kiaran whispers. “And how he watched from afar as she lived out twenty thousand human days. And if she listened closely during winter, when the wind was cold and the nights were longest, she could hear him whisper that he cherished her so much he was willing to give her the world.”
A promise. A vow to me, this one marked on his soul. “I’m yours.” It feels like he’s saying goodbye.
She understood then that one day, she would be there when the sun rose over the sea, and she’d look at him, and realize she loved him.”
“I want one lifetime with you. Not hundreds, not thousands, not eternity. I just want one.”
“Tell people that when the faery king and the human girl first met, he saw how clever she was. How foolish and brave and magnificent. And he knew that one day, falling in love with
her wouldn’t be a choice. It would come to him as easily as breathing.” His lips touch mine. “Tell people about how they stood at the end of all things and saved the world. Together.”
“You’re looking for him, aren’t you?” he asks me quietly. “When you go out at night.” “Sometimes,” I admit. “Sometimes when I’m in this house, I feel like I can’t breathe.”
I kiss him back with everything I’m feeling. I make promises with that kiss. I give messages. I tell him secrets. I believe in wishes now. Our kiss is filled with the thousand possibilities of a future entirely chosen by us. Him and me. Together.