I watched as the priest went through his kata, staff whirling like an extension of his body, feet seeming to never truly touch the ground as he leaped and spun like a mighty typhoon. His chi was one of intense light, with a tinge of darkness just at the edges which told me he was no man of purity, yet he was surely more pure than I could ever hope to be.
The shadows hid me well in the temple courtyard, me having the ability to cross those barriers usually effective in guarding against Dark Fey such as myself. This man was like a beacon to me: power draws power, and as power is the same whatever Name one gives it, it mattered not that we were from different worlds, different traditions.
I was first made aware of him when he had thwarted my incantations to destroy a village elder that had wronged me greatly by taking my help when he needed it and then tossing me to the wolves of the Inquisition when he did not want to pay for my handiwork. The priest had not understood what had transpired between the elder and I, and chose to end my curse for the belief that no one deserved the horrors I had visited on he and his kin- far worse maladies than the elder had begged me to end to begin with. I was impressed by his power, by the gentleness which he used to end my bane, not turning it back toward me with malice, but instead transforming the hate and anger to love and peace with a few simple spell-songs which wafted through the air like the scent of sandalwood, so sweet and sultry that I nearly wept with their beauty.
I had thought to end his life for the transgression, so angered I was for bringing such thoughts of sweetness, yet found that- after witnessing his beauty of form, sensing his ethereal chi, feeling the brightness of his smile- that I could do nothing of the sort. Instead, I came to the temple nightly to watch him practice, reveling in the feel of his unchecked power rolling over me like a tsunami as he danced with the wind.
I was falling for him- unheard of really, a Nocturne like me falling for a creature of Light- yet it could not be helped. When I was in his presence it felt so right, so like....
This night was an especially warm one, so he was stripped to the waist, his golden skin shimmering with a sheen of sweat under the moonlight, the sigils across his torso and the sutra along his back seeming to radiate with a red glow. Suddenly, he spun the staff around his waist and slammed the tip down with a loud thud onto the ground.
"You enjoy my performance, yes?" His baritone voice reverberated through my body, honey-brown eyes rising to burn into mine though I was sure he could not see me.
Taken aback briefly, I frowned, then smiled and sighed as I waved my hand to sweep away the miasma of shadow concealing me. "Truly you are a wonder. How long have you known?"
"From the first night you followed me." He propped the staff against the wall of the temple, taking up a jug of water and taking a long drought.
"Then why just now say anything?" I moved forward, the wards of the temple crackling around me, stinging a little but doing nothing to assuage my power or presence, my long black skirt flowing upon the ground, the sleeves of my black tunic giving the illusion of wings.
"I was studying you as well," he replied, seating himself upon a stone bench. He looked up at me, his eyes so mesmerizing I could willing drown myself in their depths. "You are Nocturne, yet you have much Light in you yet."
"Do not kid yourself." My eyes flared, midnight blue turning near black in my annoyance at his presumption. "I could kill you without a thought and you know it."
"No." His hand reached up to touch my cheek. "That you could not."
His hand was soft as a petal, yet strong as an oak as I grasped it within my own. Tears filled my eyes when he brought my hand to his lips, kissing it with a heartbreaking gentleness.
"I am all that is Dark and evil." I was trembling, as much from the feel of him pressing my hand to his cheek as from the sheer terror of this feeling welling in my spirit. "I am war, anger, hate, spite, vengeance, indignation and woe. There is no place for one such as me in your world."
He stood, looking down on me with a surprising tinge of sadness in his eyes. "You think me that shallow, that blind, not to see your true Light, your true beauty? You think I have not seen you smiling in the sunlight, dancing among the Sacred Groves as the petals fell upon you like rain? You cloak yourself in this darkness only because you feel it is necessary- it is better to be hated than loved, for love only hurts, hate gives you power, right?"
"Everyone I have ever loved has betrayed me," I replied, my eyes refusing to look at him, feeling shamed for what and who I was for the first time in my life. "I expect the hate when that is all that has been given."
He took my chin and gently raised my eyes to meet his. "Yet I say that love holds the greatest power, that it can conquer all boundaries, even language, even culture, even Darkness itself."
His lips touched mine and my heart splintered with agony.
"Why?" My voice was a tone of accusation as I pressed my head against his chest. "Why do you lead me to believe that you feel for me? To torment me? To punish me?"
"Nothing of the sort," he replied, leaning in to kiss my forehead. "You have tormented yourself, created your own Hell and punishment."
I laughed madly, the tears flowing hot down my cheeks as I stepped away from him. "And you think to redeem me? Oh, my dear priest, I am way beyond redemption!"
"No one is beyond redemption- as I know all too well."
He turned his back to me and beneath the sutra, I could see scars- scars that looked like buds where wings could have been.
"I was cast down for my own hatred, my own bid for vengeance after my beloved was left scarred both mentally and physically, ordered not to save her from that fate for it is against protocol to meddle in the affairs of humans." His tone was of both bitterness and regret, his face solemn as he turned back to me. "Yet I was able to find Light again, even in Darkness. You, too, have found Light, yet you recoil for fear of losing your power."
I shook my head, angered at his insolence, terrified at the tugging of truth in his words. "No, you are wrong! I have found only Darkness, only death! I am as rancid as bile, I have no beauty within or without! I-"
He grabbed my hands, pulling me to him. "I have also learned there is beauty in Darkness, that there is Light in the moon, in the stars, in the fireflies that dance around us. You do not need to separate yourself from the Dark, Nocturne, only from the hate within your heart- the hate you have for yourself."
I sank to my knees, a great wail coming from my soul as much from my lips. He had seen that which no other had, he had picked apart my essence and Named it, and it burned like Hellfire. He knelt beside me, taking me into his strong arms and holding me close, singing one of his spell-songs in his soft sweet voice. I could feel my the inside of my heart being ripped asunder and I cried out, yet he held me tighter, singing stronger.
"I cannot- I am not worth-" The words came out in great sobbing gasps. "Oh, goddess! Why? Why do you do this?"
"Because I love you," came his reply. "All your Darkness, all your rage, all your flaws, I still see what is in your heart, see what others choose to ignore, and for that, I cherish you."
And that was it. That was the moment of clarity. All I ever wanted, ever needed, was someone to see beyond my facade, see that which was my shield was truly my burden, that being as I am was not who I truly was, that I only needed someone to accept me- all of me.
I sighed and curled into his embrace, my black hair turning a shade spun sugar, my black dress sprinkled with iridescence.
I was truly home.