“I don’t want you coming here again.”
He had moved off of the bed, the deed done, and stood near the fire. He couldn’t look at her, his guilt overwhelming him. She stared at the ceiling, listening to the flames in the hearth. She spoke calmly and firmly.
“I don’t care what others think; I love you and want to be here.”
He closed his eyes at her words, grief rising as strongly as his lust for her had.
“You don’t understand, Cerys, we can’t be together, there’s no future for us. I should never have let this go so far.”
She went to him, placing her arms around him.
“I don’t care what you are, Arawn, I love you, I want to be your wife. I want to bear your children.”
He turned, grabbing her by the shoulders, shaking her furiously.
“Stop it Cerys! You don’t know what you’re saying. I’m a sin-eater, a pariah. What would your family say if they found out you were here? They’d disown you. Our children would be reviled, hated by all until they were needed to eat the sins of the flesh. I won’t let you do it; I won’t condemn you to the life I’m cursed with.”
He pushed her away from him, hating how much he wanted her, hating the lonely life forced on him. She did her best to control her tears, turning away as she began to dress. She made her way to the door, stopping to look back at him. He was hunched over the fire again, the light illuminating his body, making her ache to have him take her again.
“I’ll be back, Arawn. Nothing will keep us apart. I’d give up my life for you.”
She hurried from the house, holding her hands to her ears so she didn’t hear his wrenching sobs.
It took her longer to return home. She pushed open the door, hoping to sneak in undetected, when a growl emanated from the corner. Turning her head to quiet the dog, she gasped as she saw her father standing next to the animal.
“Where were you?”
He struggled to keep his anger in check.
“Out for a walk."
“Don’t lie, you were with him. You were with that filthy bastard. You disgust me.”
He walked towards her, his hand raised to strike; the sound of horses galloping out of the courtyard caught her attention.
“You’re too late,” he father said, grabbing her by the hair. “He’ll be dead before you have the chance to warn him.”
She broke away from his grasp, and started running towards his house.
She arrived too late; he was lying on the floor, bleeding heavily from the wounds inflicted by her father’s men. Pulling his head into her lap, she tried to find a way to stop the blood. He opened his eyes, trying to focus on her face.
“Cerys”, he whispered.
She placed her fingers to his lips.
“Don’t speak, please, save your strength.”
He smiled slightly, touching her face.
“I love you. Prove you love me by leaving this place.”
“I won’t let you die alone” she sobbed.
“Prove you love me. Leave this place.”
He died in her arms; she held him until her arms were numb. She heard voices in the woods, and hurried to prepare herself.
“Cerys”, her father called.
She poured ale into a bowl, and grabbed some bread and placed it on Arawn’s chest. She waited until her father appeared in the door way; she grabbed the bowl, held it up and looked her father straight in the eye.
“Here father, here is the result of your work!”
She began to say the prayer Arawn taught her.
“I give easement and rest now to thee, dear man. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul!”
She heard her father’s cry of grief as she swallowed her lover’s sins.