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CH 4 | The Fragile Heart (Part 1)

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  1. Asha decided to tell him.

    It had been only a few days since her last visit to the ruined tower, but she was sure of her feelings. This did not stop her from worrying about Darrah's reaction to those feelings, however, as she again walked through the forest for yet another visit. The morning had been muted for Asha because of them, but she was sure. When she arrived at the tower she stopped before its entrance. Asha wondered if she could even step inside and face him with these changed feelings for him. The wind picked up for a moment, stronger than any natural gust, for a moment.

    "Is there something wrong, Asha?"

    Darrah sounded confused where she was uncertain, but Asha swallowed her doubts as she turned and faced him. His mismatched eyes were fixed on her, reading her expression and his confusion only deepened. It was only when he apparently saw something in her eyes that his confusion faded and the short space between them stilled with the unknown.

    "Why are you here?"

    The Crow Lord was unnaturally still, standing before her. He couldn't look away from her - did not want to - and her eyes held such an innocence even though her steps were cautious as she moved closer to him. They was barely a hand’s breadth between them when she stopped, her head tilted up to keep her eyes on his. She reached up with a hand, fingertips brushing the edge of his feathered hood before lightly gripping it and pushing it down to reveal his face to her. It was paler in the sunlight, though not sickly, and his black hair was wild - something she didn't notice the night she took him stargazing. His eyes were still bright, however, as mesmerizing in the full light of the sun as they were in the light of the full moon.

    "Why, Asha?" He asked her again, his voice barely above a whisper as her thumb caressed his jawline. He flinched at the touch, though did not retreat even when she pulled him down closer to her. Leaning on the tips of her feet, Asha pressed her soft lips against his stiff ones, but they molded to hers unconsciously and eyes fell closed. They felt whole and wondered why they ever felt as such before this moment. When they parted, and Asha lowered herself back down - once again flat on her feet.

    “That’s why.”

    And they both knew it then, that before was contentment. This was happiness.

    But she was mortal, fated to die like all other mortals, and he was a Forest God, never to die until the end of time itself.

    As much as he wished to have her, he could not.

    She was too close.

    Darrah stepped away quickly from her even as he yearned to hold her closer. Asha was stunned, but when she reached out for him Darrah only evaded her touch.

    "Darrah?"

    Her weakened voice struck his heart but would have hurt him to accept it as much as deny it and he had made his choice.

    "Darrah, what-"

    "I cannot give you what you want of me, Asha," Even saying her name brought more pain to him, "I cannot."

    "Why?"

    His own words returned to him, and it struck deep.

    "You cannot possibly know what you want, you are only a mortal girl-"

    "I am a woman, Darrah!"

    The shout echoed in the empty courtyard, stunning all living things into silence. Asha herself seemed surprised by the strength of it, and so with tears trailing down her cheeks she finished with a softer tone, "I am old enough to know what my heart wants, Darrah, and it wants you. I-" her words halted in her throat, "I love you, Darrah, Forest God or not."

    I love you.

    The three seemingly simple words repeated themselves in his thoughts as Darrah was overcome with both elation and dread. In the end, he could only repeat weakly to her, "I cannot give you what you want of me, Asha... I cannot, no matter how much you wish it of me."

    A sob escaped Asha as the wind picked up and Darrah vanished with it in a whirl of black feathers. She stood there in the grief of her heart, and it was sometime more before she found herself composed enough to return home. A trip that was as quiet as the weathered courtyard she left behind.

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