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DANIEL’S GIFT: a short story by Lauren Kate

DANIEL’S GIFT: a short story by Lauren Kate

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Published by RandomHouseAU
An exclusive short story about love and sacrifice for fans of the FALLEN series and Lauren Kate.
An exclusive short story about love and sacrifice for fans of the FALLEN series and Lauren Kate.

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Published by: RandomHouseAU on Jul 17, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/03/2014

 
Daniel awoke on a bed of withered peonies. Starlight seeped through thecanopy of oak trees overhead. His body was sti and cold, curled around theshort stump of a tree instead of his love’s warm body.How long had he slept? The petals beneath him were crushed and brown.He breathed in their frail decay. His ngertips still bore the black stampof ash that had been Lucinda’s bones before her body ashed into ames.Perhaps he’d slept here a week, dreaming of nothing, gone from this world—but it wasn’t long enough. Daniel’s pain was so acute it felt extraordinarily large, vaster than his wingspan—as if his soul bore the weight of twenty men,each of whom had each lost their dearest lover. The desperate ache tightenedinto an absence where his heart was meant to be.In the three months following his rst Valentine’s Day with Lucinda,Daniel had brought her back here to this spot in the medieval English forest atleast twenty times. Each time, during their walk across the village green intothe cool recesses of the woods, Daniel would cause these Valentine’s peoniesto bloom anew, so that when Lucinda stepped into the clearing, the owers would be as vibrant and lovely and in bloom as Lucinda.He looked at them now, dying, dead, and tore at a handful of damp,squashed petals. He recognized no power within himself to revive theirdelicate blossoms. Daniel alternated between two dierent souls: one whenLucinda was alive and another when she was dead. He required her aection,the glory of her presence to be the best version of himself. He required her toadd sweetness and light to the world.Daniel winced as he tried to stand. His wings were sti with tension andloss. He aimed to stretch and loosen as he left the forest, but with each step he was surprised to nd his body only felt heavier, more depressed.
Copyright © Lauren Kate 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, storedin a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
 
He wanted to connect with her memory, wanted to roam every streetshe’d ever roamed and search for traces of his love; he always wanted thisafter she died. It was never a good idea. This time, inexplicably, he indulgedhimself. He staggered back toward the walls of the village where she had lived.Crossing the dirt road, entering the bare market at midnight, turning downthe narrow street where Lucinda’s family lived . . . all of it hurt more than he was prepared to withstand.Three doors from her family home, Daniel saw the light inside theirthreshold and cried out in pain. He threw himself against the high stone wallof a neighboring dwelling. Grief overtook him and his eyes blazed with hottears. At last he realized why.The pain he felt at losing Lucinda was worsened by the pain her family feltat losing her. They loved her for who she truly was, loved her in a way similarto how Daniel loved her. Now they grieved like Daniel grieved, which madehim grieve anew, knowing that he had separated her from good people whohad cared for her.Stealthily, he swept into the night sky and landed on the at roof of thehome where Lucinda’s family slept. He lay down on the packed mud bricksand spread his wings out below him, trying to feel their pain radiating through the roof.It was the darkest hour of the morning and the village was asleep. ButDaniel heard . . . or he felt . . . a woman weeping just below him. He tracedthe sound, creeping along the roof, then slinking down the side of the walluntil he was just outside the small room where he knew Lucinda’s elder sisterHelen slept with her husband.They were newlyweds, fast asleep. Through dreams, no doubt of Lucinda,Helen was crying. Risking a peek inside the room, Daniel made out the shapeof her husband’s arms around her, kissing her furrowed forehead, oering comfort even through his dreams.
Copyright © Lauren Kate 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, storedin a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
 
They were in love. Daniel saw how very many things were dierent aboutthe love between this man and wife and the love he shared with Lucinda.The love he witnessed tonight was steady and earthly and nite, whereas hislove with Lucinda was tempestuous and transcendent and—for better or for worse—eternal. It was perplexing that both kinds of connection, both ways toexpress devotion could be called the same thing: Love. And yet Daniel recognized one thing in the shape of this mans armsaround his wife: he would give anything, do anything, to lessen his lover’spain.Their drowsy kiss deepened and Daniel watched with unabashedfascination. He wished there was something he could do.Daniel had shued many souls out of their bodies during his millen-nia on earth. He had sped their souls to peace and light in the unfathomableafterlife, the mortal equivalent of Heaven to which no angel had access.But Daniel had never shepherded new life into the world.It was beyond his powers, a gift only the Throne could give.Only the Throne could remove all obstacles from mortal bodies and soulsso that, in nine months, they would bring a hardy, happy child into the world.Perhaps that was in store for these two lovers; Daniel could not tell.Even if they had a child of their own, it would never replace Lucinda. Herparticular soul would bring joy to some other family in some faraway place, which Daniel would have to wait for and eventually nd. He might have to wait decades, but he was used to that.For now, any gift Daniel gave to this family would pale in comparisonto what they had lost. His mind reached outwards, trying to take hold of something that would help him help them. In the distant forest bordering thetown, his keen eyesight settled on a pair of goats grazing in the moonlight. Absurdly poor substitutions for Lucinda—and yet . . .
Copyright © Lauren Kate 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, storedin a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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