“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?”
“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours....”
“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”
“Surely He does not give us hearts so we may spend our lives ignoring them.”
“I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face.”
“There is no shame in scars, Ismae.”
“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours, until Death do us part. Whatever that may mean when consorting with one of Death’s handmaidens.”
“One heart cannot serve two masters.”
“I am sorry,' he whispers. 'I am sorry I treated you so ill. I thought only to protect Duval.'
'It was not I who was poisoning him,' I say.
'No, but you had stolen his heart and I was afraid you would rip it from his chest when you left.”
“Good intentions are only lies the weak tell themselves.”
“I will sit here but an hour or two, then leave."
I yawn. "So very long as that?"
When he answers, there is a wry note in his voice. "I do have my reputation to protect.”
“It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.”
“... while I am Death's daughter and walk in His dark shadow, surely the darkness can give way to light sometimes.”
“Are men truly such idiots that they cannot resist two orbs of flesh?”
“I stare at him coldly. "I do not care for needlework." I pause. "Unless it involves the base of the skull.”
“People hear and see what they expect to hear and see.”
“So.... You are well equipped for our service.'
'We kill people.”
“God's Teeth,' he says. 'I was only trying to wake you. You were crying out in your sleep.'
'I was not,' I say, then look from his neck to my knife.
'When I tried to wake you, you stabbed me.' He sounds sore put out. and I cannot blame him.”
“He smiles then, and even though it is well past midnight, its as if the sun has just come out.”
“The body on the ground is nothing more than a shell, a husk, and I am filled with a sense of peace. Yes, I think. Yes. This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”
“... true faith never comes without anguish.”
“He barks out a laugh. "My little rebel.”
“It is all we have left to us. And while it is more than I ever dared dream, it is nowhere near enough.”
“Perhaps that is because you mistake death for justice, and they are not the same thing at all.”
“You would throw away all that we have given you for a man’s love?”
“Not a man’s love,” I say softly. “But Duval’s. And I would find a way to serve both my god and my heart. Surely He does not give us hearts so we may spend our lives ignoring them.”
“This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”
“A kiss for luck, demoiselle?"
It is a magnificent, lusty kiss and I feel nothing but deep regret that it may be his last.
Just before he pulls away, he whispers in my ear. "Duval said to give you that should I get a chance. It is from him.”
“When he laces his fingers through mine, my heart does its now familiar panicked flight, bumping painfully against my ribs. My shoulder twitches as if to pull my hand back, but my heart overrules it.”
“One fine moonlit night, Mortain and his Wild Hunt were riding through the countryside when they spied two maids more beautiful than any they had ever seen before. They were picking evening primrose, which only blooms in the moonlight.
“The two maids turned out to be Amourna and Arduinna, twin daughters of Dea Matrona. When Mortain saw the fair Amourna, he fell instantly in love, for she was not only beautiful but light of heart as well, and surely the god of death needs lightness in his world.
“But the two sisters could not be more different. Amourna was happy and giving, but her sister, Arduinna, was fierce, jealous, and suspicious, for such is the dual nature of love. Arduinna had a ferocious and protective nature and did not care for the way Mortain was looking at her beloved sister. To warn him, she drew her bow and let fly with one of her silver arrows. She never misses, and she didn’t miss then. The arrow pierced Mortain’s heart, but no one, not even a goddess, can kill the god of death.
“Mortain plucked the arrow from his chest and bowed to Arduinna. ‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘For reminding me that love never comes without cost”
“Tis Vanth's cage. You can just move it out of the way."
"I already have," he grumbles. "With my shin.”
“Dear Leonard. To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard. Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.”
“I have unclasp'd to thee the book even of my secret soul.”
“Oh, it is wonderful to wake up in the morning with things to look forward to!”
“Mais, quand d’un passé ancien rien ne subsiste, après la mort des êtres, après la destruction des choses, seules, plus frêles mais plus vivaces, plus immatérielles, plus persistantes, plus fidèles, l’odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à espérer, sur la ruine de tout le reste, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l’édifice immense du souvenir.”
“There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that then no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars. Like I was that good.”
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