My vision sharpened, as though seen through the lens of a camera. Everything was beautiful. The green leaves of the oak tree, the copper green of Aimhirghin’s armor, the endless evening sky above the dusty square. The beauty of it all broke my heart.
I was ashamed of my earlier behavior, of how I had broken down as Ceallach had left. I remembered his face, the pale skin of his cheeks, his light filled eyes. I remembered his face as though I could touch it.
I was a greedy girl, wanting more than a human could ask for, wanting everything. Everything had a limit. Everything came to an end, and I realized in that moment that when they do, the things we’ve been given become more than enough. They become a wealth of experience, of sensation, and of pleasure.
My whole life had held so much beauty that it took my breath away, thinking of it. Tears were pouring down my face, as I thought of the sun on the kitchen table in my parent's house, my mother’s soft hands moving through the light. I remembered the smell of cut grass, the sound of radiators hissing, the smell of wet wool drying, the taste of snow, my father's voice, reading.
My eyes focused; the villagers were slowly surrounding Ceallach. I realized, with joy, that we would die together after all. I drew out the long knife from the sash around my waist. I was pleased. I had a part to play; I would play it gladly.
Silently, barefoot, I flew down the stairs, my skirt lifting and billowing around my legs. I passed through the villagers like a leaf before the wind, ignoring them. My last thrust was not for them- they didn’t matter to me.
Aimhirghin turned. He turned very slowly, his eyes growing wide and white. I loved him and I hated him. I flung myself at him, the knife in my hand lifted. I passed through his arms as he raised them, too late. The knife sunk up to the hilt into his throat. It sunk there with all the weight of my momentum.
He fell backward and I fell with him. He was choking in my ear; I tried to breathe for him. We hit the ground with a jarring thump. My hand still gripped the handle of the knife. He twisted, I was twisted under him and then he was lifted away.
I saw a stream of blood pour onto the dust at the foot of the fountain stairs. It was dark, thick blood. It had no gloss and smelled rancid. My stomach started to heave. I felt dizzy and sick. The beautiful clarity was gone; it left me destitute.
I was lifted up, away from the dust and the blood. Ceallach’s hair was all around my face. His arms were holding me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe. He was saying something, but I couldn’t focus, all his words blurred together in my head.
He was alive. The fact of this shocked me out of the last of my trance. I felt his armor, felt the wind on my head, I felt the wind pulling at my skirt. I heard the many wondering voices of the villagers.
“Oh, you little lynx,” Ceallach was saying, his voice hoarse and low. “Oh, my crazy, beautiful girl. So you would kill him yourself, would you? My own, my little terror.”
The blood rushed right out of my head. “Did I kill him?” I whispered, trembling.
“Did you kill him?” he murmured, tenderly. “My darling, you skewered him. Oh, god,” he breathed. “You took years away from my life, you beautiful, crazy child.”
“I thought you were going to die,” I said, lifting my head.
He kissed me. I got my arms loose and wound them around his neck; I twisted my fingers up in his hair.
“I was going to die,” he said, lifting his head. He gave me a fierce, dazzling grin. His eyes were brilliant. “I did die; I died a thousand deaths, watching you run through the square. What got into you?”
“I thought we would die together, like we vowed,” I answered simply. “I thought it was a gift.”