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ben-barnes-is-my-husband · 17 minutes ago
My favorite SAB characters as John Mulaney quotes
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immilothegoat · 18 minutes ago
7 minute pairing idea: @iamablade and @likecallstolight
@grishatube @makemeyourdarkling @nikolai-lanstov-nazyalensky @call-the-storm @ruins-and-ruination @sodamnkosty @adrik-the-awful @unbrekker @thesaintswraith @queenofthewaffles @pearl-handles-my-beloved @i-know-i-look-twelve @ihatethewayyoutalk
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dekoranevich · 22 minutes ago
@serendpitous | ALINA STARKOV ( plotted starter )
"She’s gone !! I watched her leave myself.”
     It is neither dignified nor generous to be this thrilled about anyone’s departure, but Genya thinks Zoya is a special case — especially considering the fractured ribs and the many bruises Alina wore as a result of their tussle. ( Zoya’s cheating. ) Genya sweeps into the room with all the confidence of an old friend, nevermind that she and Alina have known one another only a handful of weeks. ( She understands it, now. Why the people whisper that she might be a Saint. Perhaps it’s simply the sun inside of her, but there is a light to her, something so warm and brilliant and beautiful that it almost hurts to look at her sometimes. The Darkling thinks that it’s simply the knowledge of what she can do. Genya thinks it’s Alina’s compassion. Her joy. Both shame her. )
     Without waiting for an invitation, she drops into an artful sprawl in an unoccupied chair, and she waves a hand imperiously. “The clouds parted. The children of Os Alta raised their voices in unison to sing she’s gone !! She’s gone !! I’m surprised you didn’t hear it.” And then she takes in the sight of Alina, her hair a mess from sleeping and the dark circles still under her eyes, and she stands and sighs and raises her eyebrows. “I know from the state of your hair that you’re sleeping,” she says, “but I’d never know it from the rest of you. Up. Let me take care of it.” There is real concern in her voice, though she tries to hide it under her usual sarcastic wit. There is guilt, too, when she thinks of those letters. “Maybe Zoya should have knocked you out for a few more hours. Then you’d at least have gotten some rest.”
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lunarxdaydream · an hour ago
"Yet I did. I know for sure that whatever you do, no matter how terrible, I will have your back and still think if you as the same kind girl. After all, there are very few that accept me as I am." the loss of his eye due to being suspected of being some kind of demonic being by his fellow town folk had him resent many people but not Alina. Teygon would briefly look at himself in the water before at the girl beside him. "You've never treated me badly despite my powers, I could very well be a devil's descendent yet you were able to look passed that. Which makes you quite amazing to me." Teygon spoke before falling silent. It seemed like both of them had stuff on their mind that was weighing on them.
"Why wouldn't I?" If anything, the stories heard from her mother and those around had given the youth more reason to refrain from making assumptions. Or at least to the best of her ability. To think there were so many things out there ... things beyond the horizon that have yet to be known or understood ... -- "Just because you appeared different than most didn't mean I would have to treat you that way. Besides, it doesn't hurt to have a breath of fresh air around here."
|| @thecircusfreaks ||
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writermuses · an hour ago
Pain, my dear, is inevitable. It's what you do with it that matters.
The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)
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sanktyastag · an hour ago
just now realizing that aleksander never actually told alina why he left after The Kiss, since baghra steals her away immediately afterwards. like she doesn’t know that marie is dead, or that there was an attempt on her life, or who orchestrated that attempt.
which means that when aleksander takes her into the fold to destroy novokribirsk, and then gives her that whole “they are traitors who tried to kill you. this is retribution.” speech, alina has... no idea what he’s talking about.
sasha, my boy. i know there was a lot going on, and breakups hit everyone differently, but i do feel like maybe that was worth peppering in at some point.
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melody-chii · an hour ago
you know who the suicide threat you’re not meant to make to other people would have worked on and would have been 100000% deserved?
aleksander morozova.
damn right you pretty genocidal little bitch. i don’t even know wtf ur thinking. you want to annihilate novokribirsk(?)????? okay then i will just,, kill myself,,,, LOL
what? you don’t want to be alone? then please reconsider your life choices you dumb lonely bitch.
ofc, this may not work on book!darkling but dying would also have solved alina’s problems there, too, so
tl;dr the darkling is rly hot and he defs looks good killing people and yes, i’m rly into that but when he collared alina i was like bitch! i will stab someone and if that someone has to be myself and i die out of spite them so be it
i would still fuck him tho
in conclusion: watch shadow and bone. it’s delicious garbage. everyone is hot.
enemy lover seems manipulative but objectively has no real solutions to any of the problems he has made. head empty. face beautiful. out to kill people with no end goal in sight.
bro, it’s like someone typecasted everything i lust after.
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humanityisdrawntolight · 2 hours ago
I named my cat after one of the most complex characters ever to exist. It's name is Darkling and I know Leigh would be fuming if she knew how much I adore the character who she's trashed several times. Anyway, stan the Darkling and ignore the antis besties 🥂
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jomiddlemarch · 2 hours ago
what it is to be a thin crescent moon
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Chapter 6
“I think I’ll like it even better cold,” Aleksander said. His dish was clean. He had a healthy color in his face and he was sitting comfortably on the bed, the table dragged over to stand between them. “But you must give the recipe to the head cook in the kitchens of the Little Palace.”
“What recipe?” Alina asked, eating the last bite from her bowl. “And you can be the one to tell him, because I think the best seasoning of this dish was hunger. And a breaking fever.”
“If it tasted of anything besides salt and grains of paradise, it was my relief that gave it savor,” he said. “Though I will be even more relieved when we are back in Os Alta.”
“You’ll feel better then, when we get there,” Alina said. She knew they would have to leave and that Aleksander was getting stronger; it was only a matter of days before he was able to mount and ride the stallion, even if one arm was wrapped around her waist.
“I will. To be back among my Grisha, to have what we need readily available, to know you are safe, yes, I’ll feel better for that,” he said.
“I guess so,” Alina said, biting her lip. When he said the Little Palace or Os Alta, her mind went blank, unable to imagine the actual places, to wonder whether the streets were cobblestones or what kind of trees were planted on the avenues. She could imagine riding with him again, his cape draped around them both, the tickle of his beard at her temple, but she couldn’t imagine an arrival other than a vague and pervasive dread, Aleksander disappearing and only General Kirigan somewhere, far away from her.
“What are you scared of, Alina?” he asked. Not why are you scared? as if she had no good reason and not you shouldn’t be scared, impatient or incredulous.
“The truth?” she asked, an unnecessary question. He shrugged and nodded.
“I hope that’s what you want to tell me,” he said.
“I’m scared of everything, except being here with you, like this,” she said.
“What do you mean, everything? And, except being here with me?” he said.
“A week ago, I was Alina Starkov, assistant map-maker of the First Army, orphan of Keramzin, Mal’s friend, that homely half-Shu brat Ana Kuya couldn’t wait to wash her hands of. And I didn’t have a very big place in the world but I understood what it was and what the days were going to hold,” Alina said. “Then I burned the maps and got sent across the Fold and without trying to, summoned the Sun. Then you called for me and asked me what I was and told me when I didn’t give the right answer. And then I was about to be murdered for it or sanctified. You were in such a desperate hurry to get me to the Little Palace and I have no idea what will happen there, especially since all Fjerda wants me dead and the Tsar probably wants me alive to serve him, but I don’t think I will be Alina there or Alya and I don’t think you’ll be Aleksander anymore. And certainly not Sasha.”
He sat quietly and there was not a hint of a shadow in the corners of the room, nor in his dark eyes. There was only the fading daylight that would soon require the candle to be lit.
“I understand this. Four walls, water to be fetched and drunk, food to be eaten. I know a healer could have taken care of your wounds better than I did and I’m a bad person, a terrible one, for not wishing for whatever would help you get better faster, but I’m still myself here and you’re here, listening to me, and I don’t think when we get to Os Alta either of those will be true any longer,” she finished. “I’ll be alone again and I won’t even know myself anymore.”
“Alina, when I came for you, when you were being attacked, I had no intention of leaving you to your own devices when we got to Os Alta. But now, it would be impossible,” he said.
“It would be impossible,” Aleksander repeated, “impossible for me to be far away from you, for me not to want to hear what you have to say, to answer your questions. To look for you in every room. There is no other room than this one for me, not anymore. I just hadn’t thought to speak of it so soon. It didn’t seem fair.”
“What about any of this is fair?” Alina said, then surprised herself by starting to cry, her hands flying up to hide her face.
“Nothing,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t wish it were. That I can’t wish to do more than keep you safe. Would you come sit by me now?”
“The dishes,” she muttered.
“We’ve nearly licked them clean, they can wait,” he said.
“Ana Kuya would have your hide for that,” Alina said but she got up, dragged the rickety table away from the bed and sat down next to Aleksander. She pushed a loose piece of hair behind her ear.
“What happened to your hair?” Aleksander said. She couldn’t blame him for wondering. When he’d rescued her, she’d had braided in keeping with First Army regulations. It wasn’t flattering but it was neat and unobjectionable which was no longer the case.
“I rinsed it out in the spring by the new cache and then bundled it back. It dried like this,” she said, reaching back to touch the tangled, lumpy mess she’d imagined chopping off except that it would mark her as even more of an outcast when they got to the Little Palace. She had been too busy calming Aleksander down and then preparing a meal to do anything about it.
“I could help you with it,” he offered.
“With your Small Science?” Alina asked. “I don’t see how shadows will make it better.”
“No, I can use a comb,” he smiled.
“That would be good if we had a comb,” Alina answered.
“Will you let me try anyway?” he asked.
“You don’t have to,” she said.
“I’d like to,” he said without any more explanation than what she saw in his eyes, the curve of his lips after he finished speaking. She nodded. “Turn around a little,” he said, “you’ll be more comfortable.”
Alina wondered for a moment whether he meant because she wouldn’t be facing him, watching him touch her, or simply because she wouldn’t be contorted so that he could reach her easily, but she only wondered for a moment, because then his fingers were combing through her tangled, hastily tied back hair, disposing first of the bit of ribbon and few pins she’d used and then, very gently, teasing apart every knot.
“This was a right mess, wasn’t it, Alya?” he said, his hands still moving steadily, pausing when a particularly robust knot defied him, a far cry from Ana Kuya yanking a brush through Alina’s hair and threatening to smack her bottom with it if she wiggled again. “That’s better,” he said, grazing now her temple, now her cheek, his fingers stroking the nape of her neck as he lifted the heavy mass of her hair to settle it down her back. She thought he was would stop then and she’d weave a simple braid but she felt his hands separating the strands and starting to plait her hair in a pattern she couldn’t recognize, far more elaborate than any she’d ever worn, not pulling or tugging at all.
“What are you doing?” she asked and he stopped, resting one hand on her shoulder.
“I was going to finish braiding it, so it didn’t trouble you as much,” he said.
“General Kirigan knows how to braid a woman’s hair?” Alina asked in disbelief. He laughed.
“Yes, though it was Aleksander who learned, not the General,” he said. “It isn’t so difficult, it just requires attention and patience and I’ll tell you a secret—it’s nice to do something with my hands that isn’t summoning. Shall I stop though?”
“No, don’t stop,” Alina said. He squeezed her shoulder slightly before he lifted his hands back to her hair, resuming the steady rhythm he’d had before, lulling her into a dozy calm that was threaded through with thrill when he touched her skin. He started humming softly, singing a few lyrics here and there in that same dialect she didn’t know, the melody unfamiliar to her, though she sensed it had something to do with a pair of lovers, with beckoning and returning after a long time apart. He finished braiding and stopped singing at the same time, tracing a finger along the braid at the crown of her head that was like a diadem.
“Beautiful,” he said and she might have thought he only meant the work of his own hands but then he added, “Not homely, not ever at all, Alynoshka.”
“Did you braid Luda’s hair?” Alina asked. He grew very still behind her and she felt cold within herself, a sunless day in the depth of winter. “I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything—”
“Yes, I did,” he said. “When she let me.”
Alina sat, clasped her hands together tightly, feeling miserable. “Aleksander—”
“It doesn’t hurt me to talk about her with you, Alya,” he said. “It was a long time ago—I’m glad someone else besides me knows her name.”
“You called it out in the night,” Alina said, a little less miserable. The hand he’d had at her head he dropped, reached forward to loosen her own in what should have been an awkward sort of embrace but wasn’t at all.
“When I called you Sasha,” she said.
“Ah, well. That makes sense,” he said. “When she was killed, that was the last time anyone called me Sasha. Something was broken in me, past healing I thought, and I decided that could never happen again. That I could not live in a world where it might.”
“And now?” Alina said.
“I learned I was wrong,” he said.
“About yourself?” Alina asked.
“About myself, about the world. About how they can be mended,” he said. “I’m tired. Are you tired, Alya? It would be good to sleep now.”
Aleksander lay down, turned on his side. Alina moved to lie beside him, watching him settle his kefta over her legs and then his cape. She had just closed her eyes when she heard him speak.
“My favorite place at the Little Palace is the Observatory. You have to climb a narrow staircase for what seems like forever, but when you get to the top, you can see all of Os Alta below, the lights of the city like fallen stars, the golden domes of the Tsar’s palace nestled against the clouds. You can see beyond the city’s walls, into the countryside, Ravka ready to dream in the night. When we get to Os Alta, I’ll take you there, Alya, and you can see everything yourself,” he said.
When she opened her eyes, it was dawn and there were a handful of snowflakes falling. Aleksander was already awake, watching her, his hand warm at the small of her back. She hadn’t dreamt of an observatory but of a vast library, of looking up and finding Aleksander watching her in just the same way, of his hand reaching to caress her coronet of braids. She made a low sound of contentment, remembering there was broth to heat and sfera to cast, to make him smile.
“I’ve been lying here wondering about something you said. Why would a cartographer burn maps? I’m asking you now because someone will surely ask in Os Alta—Alina, are you a Shu spy? Whatever you say in Os Alta, tell me the truth now.”
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I know some folks ship Alina and Genya. That's a great friends to lovers situation. 💙 But I personally am extremely weak for a good old enemies to lovers trope.
✨💙✨ Alina/Zoya✨💙✨
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minetteskvareninova · 2 hours ago
Is it just me, or is Inej shanking that lady out of spite only a few hours after she was absolutely horrified with killing that dude TO SAVE HER BOYFRIEND’S LIFE extremely OOC?! Or was that meant to be self-defense, because that lady promised to get her, sometime later, but not right now, because she has a GODDAMNED KNIFE IN HER CHEST...?!
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I don't know I someone had already came with this, please let me know, but...
Spoilers for the Siege and storm, Ruin and Rising and episode 5 of the show:
Theory: Ivan would be the one to (incidentally, of course) betrays Genya in the show.
So, it's pretty simple - In the show Marie died in the first season + we didn't heard anything for Sergei (aside from Marie setting on fire some boy, who invented her on a date)
Creating new story for Genya's review, will be pointless, especially since Sergei not only was part from that, but also he was the reason the Darkling found them.
Now, there are two options: introducing us to new characters, one of which will have to die, or using characters we already know.
And who are the two characters, who didn't made it to book 3, so they can be good to take someone else's place and die in book 3? Ivan and Fedyor.
Tbh, I started this as Fedyor will be the one, who will survive, and part of me still thinks it will be him, but I'm not smart enough to figure how the things will twist for this to work, so I'm going with Ivan.
Originally, he died on Nikolai's ship, but that can easily be avoided, if he doesn't cross Tamar and Tolya's path. So, he survives this and makes it to the palace, where he sees how the person he serves, kills his boyfriend. So, seeing this, makes him understand that the Darkling doesn't really care for the other grisha sorry, not sorry and so, in his anger, he turns against him in a big moment, where he saves Alina, Mal, or some other important character, because, you know, it's important for the others to see he switched sides, in order to not kill him, when they make it to the tunnels...
And yeah, from that part, Ivan just follows Sergei's story 😶 I'm so sorry for making you read this, I know it hurts 💔
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aaronsmythe · 4 hours ago
🍾 - Alina.
5. My muse kisses your muse properly.
( @alinamontgomery )
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OOC: If you want a starter based on this, just let me know. Thanks!
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grishaverseficlibrary · 4 hours ago
dream come true by kontent
Genya had known that going to college would change her. Yet she hadn’t quite expected this kind of change.
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ohifonlyx33 · 4 hours ago
A moment later the boy whispered, "I don't think you're ugly." "Shhhh!" the girl hissed. But hidden by the deep shadows of the cupboard, she smiled
He grinned and my heart flip-flopped the way it always had. “We found our way back to each other, Alina. That’s all that matters.” He kissed me through the bars, the cold iron pressing against my cheek as his lips met mine.
I'd been fifteen, standing at the counter, vainly trying to glue together the jagged pieces of a blue cup. When I saw him crossing the fields, I ran to the doorway and waved. He caught sight of me and broke into a jog. I had crossed the yard to him slowly, watching him draw closer, baffled by the way my heart was skittering around in my chest. Then he'd picked me up and swung me in a circle, and I'd clung to him, breathing in his sweet, familiar smell, shocked by how much I'd missed him. Dimly, I'd been aware that I still had a shard of that blue cup in my hand, that it was digging into my palm, but I didn't want to let go. When he finally set me down and ambled off into the kitchen to find his lunch, I had stood there, my palm dripping in blood, my head still spinning, knowing that everything had changed.
We fell asleep on the floor, cheeks pressed together through the bars, hands clasped tight. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to savor every last moment with him. But I must have dozed off because I dreamed again of the stag. This time, Mal was beside me in the glade, and it was his blood in the snow. The next thing I knew, I was waking to the sound of the gate being opened above us and Ivan’s footsteps on the stairs. Mal had made me promise not to cry. He’d said it would only make it harder on him. So I swallowed my tears. I kissed him one last time and let Ivan lead me away.
“Mal,” I whispered into the night. “What?” “Thanks for finding me.” I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming, but somewhere in the dark, I thought I heard him whisper, “Always.”
“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I'd catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I'd seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I'd realize that you weren't there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I've risked my life for you. I've walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I'd do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don't tell me why we don't belong together," he said fiercely. He was very close now, and my heart was suddenly hammering in my chest. "I'm sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”
Mal had me crushed to his chest, his faced pressed to my hair, his breath coming in harsh gasps. “Mal,” I said quietly. He clutched me tighter. I squeaked. “Mal, I can’t breathe.” Slowly, he opened his eyes and looked down at me. I dropped my hands, and the light disappeared entirely. Only then did he ease his grip.
Mal bracketed my face with his hands. He kissed my brow, my nose, my lips, my hair, then drew me tight against him once again. “You’re all right?” he asked. His voice was rough.
“So, no heart flutters or swooning, even in the arms of a royal prince?” He was teasing, but I heard the uncertainty beneath his words. “I seem to be immune,” I replied. “And luckily, I know what a real kiss should feel like.” I left him standing in the middle of the square. I could get used to making Mal blush.
He tapped the sun over his heart. “I came here for you. You’re my flag. You’re my nation. But that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Do you realize this is the first time we’ve really been alone in weeks?” The knowledge of that settled over us. The room seemed unnaturally quiet. Mal took a single tentative step toward me. Then he closed the space between us in two long strides. One hand slid around my waist, the other cupped my face. Gently, he tilted my mouth up to his. “Come back to me,” he said softly.
“Saints,” he swore. “I wish we’d never come here.” “Then let’s leave,” I said wildly. I knew I wasn’t making any sense, but I didn’t much care. “Let’s run away, tonight, and forget we ever saw this place.” He let out a bitter bark of laughter. “Do you know how much I want that? To be with you without rank or walls or anything between us? Just to be common again together?” He shook his head. “But you won’t do it, Alina.” “I will,” I said, tears spilling over my cheeks. “Don’t kid yourself. You’d just find a way back.” “I don’t know how to fix this,” I said desperately. “You can’t fix it!” he shouted. “This is the way it is. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you were meant to be a queen and I’m not meant to be anything at all?” “That isn’t true.” He stalked toward me, the boughs of the trees making strange shifting shadows across his face in the twilight. “I’m not a soldier anymore,” he said. “I’m not a prince, and I’m sure as hell not a Saint. So what am I, Alina?” “I—” “What am I?” he whispered. He was close to me now. The scent I knew so well, that dark green scent of the meadow, was lost beneath the smell of sweat and blood. “Am I your guardian?” he asked. He ran his hand slowly down my arm, from shoulder to fingertips. “Your friend?” His left hand skimmed down my other arm. “Your servant?” I could feel his breath on my lips. My heart thundered in my ears. “Tell me what I am.” He pulled me against his body, his hand circling my wrist.
He shook his head. “This is all wrong.” The look on his face almost undid me. It was lost, startled, like a little boy standing alone in the ruin of a burning village. “Please, Alina,” he said softly. “Please. This can’t be how it ends.” I rested my hand on his cheek, hoping that there was still enough between us that he would understand. I stood on my toes and kissed the scar on his jaw. “I have loved you all my life, Mal,” I whispered through my tears. “There is no end to our story.” I stepped back, memorizing every line of his beloved face.
Mal was there, lying on another litter, carried along just a few feet beside me. He was watching me, as if he’d been waiting for me to wake. He reached out. I found some reservoir of strength and stretched my hand over the litter’s edge. When our fingers met, I heard a sob and realized I was crying. I wept with relief that I would not have to live with the burden of his death.
“I wasn't afraid of you, Alina. I was afraid of losing you. That girl you were becoming didn't need me anymore, but she's who you were always meant to be." "Power hungry? Ruthless?" "Strong." He looked away. "Luminous. And maybe a little ruthless too..."
“I need to keep you safe, Alina, to stay focused on what matters. I can’t do that if . . .” He let out a long breath. “You were meant for more than me, and I’ll die fighting to give it to you. But please don’t ask me to pretend it’s easy.”
All at once, the pain in my chest was so bad it nearly bent me double. Because this was what Mal had been coming to show me. Because that look - that open, eager, happy look - had been for me. Because I would always be the first person he turned to when he saw something lovely, and I would do the same. Whether I was a Saint or a queen or the most powerful Grisha who ever lived, I would always turn to him.
"For all my talk of vows and honor, what I really want is to put you up against that wall and kiss you until you forget you ever knew another man's name. So tell me to go, Alina. Because I can't give you a title or an army or any of the things you need.” He was right. I knew that. Whatever fragile, lovely thing had existed between us belonged to two other people—people who weren’t bound by duty and responsibility—and I wasn’t sure what remained. And still I wanted him to put his arms around me, I wanted to hear him whisper my name in the dark, I wanted to ask him to stay. “Goodnight, Mal.” He touched the space over his heart where he wore the golden sunburst I’d given him long ago in a darkened garden. “Moi soverenyi,” he said softly. He bowed and was gone.
“Mal, please,” I said desperately, not even sure what I was asking for. I grabbed his hand. He turned to me, and I didn’t stop to think. I went up on my toes and kissed him. It took him the barest second to react, then he dropped his bow and kissed me back, arms winding tight around me, the hard planes of his body pressed against mine. “Alina—” he began. I grabbed the lapels of his coat, tears filling my eyes. “Don’t tell me this is all happening for a reason,” I said fiercely. “Or that it’s going to be okay. Don’t tell me you’re ready to die.” We stood in the tall grass, wind singing through the reeds. He met my gaze, his blue eyes steady. “It’s not going to be okay.” He brushed the hair back from my cheeks and cupped my face in his rough hands. “None of this is happening for a reason.” He skimmed his lips over mine. “And Saints help me, Alina, I want to live forever.” He kissed me again, and this time, he didn’t stop—not until my cheeks were flushed and my heart was racing, not until I could barely remember my own name, let alone anyone else’s...
“You are all I’ve ever wanted,” he said. “You are the whole of my heart.”
Gently, he took my face in his hands. “I would have been different too, without you. Weaker, reckless.” He smiled slightly. “Afraid of the dark.” He brushed the tears from my cheeks. I wasn’t sure when they’d started. “But no matter who or what I was, I would have been yours.” I kissed him then—with grief and need and years of longing, with the desperate hope that I could keep him here in my arms, with the damning knowledge that I could not. I leaned into him, the press of his chest, the breadth of his shoulders.
“I wanted more for you,” he said. “A white veil in your hair. Vows we could keep.” “A proper wedding night? Just tell me this isn’t goodbye. That’s the only vow I need.” “I love you, Alina.” He kissed me again. He hadn’t answered, but I didn’t care, because his mouth was on mine, and in this moment, I could pretend I wasn’t a savior or a Saint, that I could simply choose him, have a life, be in love. That we wouldn’t have one night, we would have thousands. I
“Bring him back to me,” I repeated. I wasn’t making sense. I knew that. They didn’t have Morozova’s power. But Mal could make rabbits out of rocks. He could find true north standing on his head. He would find his way back to me again.
“I just know there’s no way to live without pain—no matter how long or short your life is. People let you down. You get hurt and do damage in return.”
And what did I want? Peace for Ravka. A chance to sleep easy in my bed without fear. An end to the guilt and dread that I woke to every morning. There were old wants too, to be loved for who I was, not what I could do, to lie in a meadow with a boy’s arms around me and watch the wind move the clouds.
When evening fell, the boy would bring the girl a glass of tea, a slice of lemon cake, an apple blossom floating in a blue cup. He would kiss her neck and whisper new names in her ear: beauty, beloved, cherished, my heart. They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things—if love can ever be called that.
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