Alcuin couldn't remember the last time he had been surrounded by such unrepentant beauty, there in the forest glade with the angel. For a moment, he wondered if he wasn't dreaming the whole thing, surreal and disorienting as the whole experience had been. If it weren't for the sun that warmed his skin and the wind in the trees he might have taken it for one – but then he realized there was no breeze and the sound he'd taken for leaves rustling in the wind was actually thousands of iridescent feathers shivering at once. He wasn't certain there were words for the colors reflecting off them and onto their surroundings. He couldn't be certain of anything anymore.
“I love this place,” he admitted abruptly, reaching out with an unsteady hand to touch the downy feathers of his wings, as if they might disappear if he did. There was a sound somewhere deep in the forest – deer crashing through the undergrowth perhaps – and his fingertips withered back along with the rest of him. “My master showed me this place the day after the festival. He said, 'You can always talk freely with me, Alcuin.'” He chuckled breathily, his smile fond and affectionate, though there was little humor in it. “'I want to know how you feel. I want to make sure you're happy and content.'”
Alcuin turned toward their picnic spot and sat down in the very same place as before. The palm of his hand came to rest in the tall grass beside him, his fingers splayed and searching for the warmth his master radiated wherever he went. His expression was mournful when he looked up at the angel, the sun rendering him a winged silhouette. “I'll hurt long after you are gone, frændi.”