[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]
It took him back centuries, that moment, sitting together on the old concrete bench with his arms around her. He could remember a time long ago, the two of them sitting together like this, though it hadn’t been concrete beneath them, but stone, and the air had carried the bite that promised the coming autumn. There had been a battlefield behind them, perhaps a mile or two distant, but they’d moved far enough away to drown out the sound of the dying and worse with the sound of a river and the wind in the trees. She’d worn red that day, a rich, dark red wool gown and a cloak to match, silver trinkets Cíar had made her woven into her hair. She’d been so beautiful that it had taken his breath away and at least momentarily had erased the pain in his soul.
“I’m so sorry, mo chroí,” she whispered, using his tongue rather than hers—something she’d begun to do only in the past few weeks. It eased his heart more in moments like this, when the ache inside was the worst, when the burn of the blood on his hands was the greatest. “I didn’t want them to make you do this.”
Cíar shook his head wordlessly, his arms wrapped slightly around her, hands clenched into fists. Intellectually, he knew they were clean, but he could still feel the blood on them even though he’d scrubbed them raw. He didn’t want to get any of it on her even though it was long gone. His arms tightened slightly and he rested his cheek against her hair. It was hard to breathe.
It was very hard to breathe.
“I hate them,” she whispered. “Powers above and below, I hate them, Cíar. I hate them for what they do to you, for what they make me do to you.”
“Save your hate,” he said, his voice a rasp, speaking around a lump in his throat. “They’re not worth your notice. Keep your strength for when you need it.”
“When we need it,” she said.
He hadn’t realized what it meant then. It was only starting to become clear now, centuries later.
“I love you,” Matt whispered, echoing her words. “And I always will.” I always have, even when I didn’t know it. She was the missing piece—just as he was for her.
Now, they were together again and nothing was going to tear them apart.