She wanted to touch him, to throw her arms around him - but something held her back. Maybe it was the fear that her arms would pass right through him, that she would have come all this way only to find a ghost after all. As though he'd been able to read her thoughts, he slowly angled toward her. He raised his hands and held his palms out to her. Isobel lifted her own hands to mirror his. He pressed their palms together, his fingers folding down to lace through hers. She felt a rush of warmth course through her, a relief as pure and sweet as spring rain. He was real. This was real. She had found him. She could touch him. She could feel him. Finally they were together. Finally, finally, they could forget this wasted world and go home. "I knew it wasn't true, " she whispered. "I knew you wouldn't stop believing." He drew her close. Leaning into him, she felt him press his lips to her forehead in a kiss. As he spoke, the cool metal of his lip ring grazed her skin, causing a shudder to ripple through her. "You... " His voice, low and breathy, reverberated through her, down to the thin soles of her slippers. "You think you're different, " he said. She felt his hands tighten around hers, gripping hard, too hard. A streak of violet lightning split the sky, striking close behind them. The house, Isobel thought. It had been struck. She could hear it cracking apart. She looked for only a brief moment, long enough to watch it split open. "But you're not, " Varen said, calling her attention back to him. Isobel winced, her own hands surrendering under the suddenly crushing pressure of his hold. A face she did not recognize stared down at her, one twisted with anger - with hate. "You, " he scarcely more than breathed, "are just like every. Body. Else." He moved so fast. Before she could register his words or the fact that she had once spoken them to him herself, he jerked her to one side. Isobel felt her feet part from the rocks. Weightlessness took hold of her as she swung out and over the ledge of the cliff. As he let her go. The wind whistled its high and lonely song in her ears. She fell away into the oblivion of the storm until she could no longer see the cliff - could no longer see him. Only the slip of the pink ribbon as it unraveled from her wrist, floating up and away from her and out of sight forever.
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He leaned down, far enough that the dark ends of his hair brushed feather-light against her face, caught in her lashes, She had just enough time to take in a breath, to blink, to part her lips before he took them with his own. Time froze. Her heart ceased to beat. Her eyes fluttered shut. The cool slip of the small metal loop pressed into her skin as he kissed her. Urgent. Gentle. So slow. Sweet, soft demolition. He tasted of cloves and coffee. And of something else. A farawat essence, familiar and yet somehow foreign, too. Something sere and arid. A little like some. A little like decay Ash.
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As though sensing her heightening alarm, Pinfeathers halted his advance. "I can't help it that I'm susceptible to you, " he whispered. "You know that. It's just that you're so... unreal... and so I have to touch you. If only to be certain that I'm not the one who's dreaming. You see, I hear that sort of thing is going around.
He smiled like he couldn't help it. She couldn't believe it. He was actally smiling, teeth and all. Had she ever seen him smile before? No, she realized, because right now, it was such a jarring thing to witness that for a moment it felt as though she was sharing the car with a stranger.
Dancers churned around them like storm tossed flowers, their heads held to either side as they whirled with abandonment. 'Look at them, ' he whispered, his voice in her ear. 'Have you ever seen anything like it? They have everything, don't they? Everything except a single care to dwell on.
Can I tell you something?" He tilted his head, moving in closer still, so close that she could feel his breath against her cheek. "Do you want to know what my grandma used to say about kisses on the forehead?" He pressed his lips to her brow, holding the silk soft kiss for a long moment while Isobel stood in place, unable to bring herself to shove him away. "She told me it's the kind of kiss we save for the dead.
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