Hanging by a Moment

By: Freya Coral

Author's Note: I do not own Kinson (sadly) or Mareth. If I did, I would be insanely rich and famous and would not be posting my work on (First King of Shannara) Kinson/Mareth fluff. This kept bugging me ever since I finished the book last month, and it got to the point where I had to write it down. Takes place after their confrontation with the Skull Bearer in Culhaven. Title borrowed from the Lifehouse song of the same name (NOT a song-fic!). I chose it as my title because I think that song fits them perfectly. Flames will used in my flamethrower!

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Two days following their unnerving encounter with the winged hunter in the burnt ruins of Culhaven, Kinson and Mareth set up camp along the banks of the Silver River in the forests of the Anar. Much to their collective relief, no more of the Warlock Lord's underlings came. They roasted a few fish over a small fire and ate mostly in silence – Mareth having told him exactly what she felt with that impulsive kiss, while Kinson tried to figure out what to make of it and hoped that it would happen again.

Mareth thought of how far they had come during the past days and weeks, of how close they had become during their travels. She had told Kinson they were friends, although she knew even as she spoke the words that he meant much more to her. Why – why didn't I tell him then? she berated herself. But now wasn't the time to reflect on past actions, she thought as she smiled in his direction. His wavy dark hair, which he usually kept tied back, was let loose. All she could think as she looked at him was how much she longed to run her fingers through that hair.

Kinson, meanwhile, could not help but think of the young woman beside him who, along with Bremen, Risca, and Tay Trefenwyd, was the last of the Druids of Paranor. In fact, Mareth had been all he could think about for the last two days, and the memory of their first kiss certainly didn't help matters. Not that he was complaining… Ever since they met, there had been an unspoken attraction between them, but he wasn't sure how or when to act upon it. Despite his rather ill-mannered comments when Bremen had suggested she accompany him to Culhaven to try to find Risca, in truth he was glad to have her there. Had he come alone, without the benefit of Mareth's magic, that winged hunter would have made mincemeat of him without even breaking a sweat. Thanks to her, he was still alive.

Because of all his years of near-solitude as a tracker, with only Bremen as company, he had never been in love before. Sure, he vaguely remembered a girl or two he fancied as a teenager growing up in Varfleet, but it was never the all-consuming kind of love he felt now, for Mareth. He was beginning to feel as though he had known her his entire life, and in spite of how crazy and sudden it seemed, he knew without a doubt that Mareth was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. The problem was how to tell her so…

He noticed rims of fatigue starting to gather in her captivating dark eyes, and in the same instant realized just how tired he was. At the same time, though, he knew he must stay awake to keep watch in case another Skull creature decided to catch them off-guard.

"Come, Mareth, you need your rest," Kinson told her. "I will stay awake and keep watch. I don't want to risk us being ambushed by another of those dark things." She nodded; they did have a tiring day.

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For all her fatigue, however, Mareth wasn't asleep for more than two hours when, for reasons unknown to her, she woke with a start. She looked around and saw nothing that could have woken her so suddenly. The fire had died out several hours ago, and Kinson was sitting by the water's edge staring into space. In fact, it seemed as though they were the last humans left in this world. Since she couldn't sleep, she figured she might as well join him at the riverbank. The night was clear and balmy, the stars seemed much brighter than usual, and no sound save for the chirping of crickets could be heard. Without speaking, she sat beside Kinson and slipped an arm around his neck, holding him close. There was no need for words.

"Can't sleep?" he finally asked, still gazing at the stars.

"Not really. I've just had so much on my mind these last two days. That Skull Bearer who claimed to be my father… it's made me question whether I want to continue searching for my parents. As I said, I really don't want to know if my father is a Skull Bearer." She paused, collecting her thoughts. "But more importantly… I've been thinking about us. Two days ago, I began experiencing feelings I didn't know existed within me. But there they are, and I can't deny them any longer." She moved closer, if that was even possible, looking directly into his eyes.

He held her gaze, mesmerized by her eyes and the way the bright moonlight perfectly complemented her pale skin. "Mareth, I know what you are trying to say… and I know exactly how you feel. It may be a little soon to say this, but I can't keep it to myself any longer." He lowered his voice to just above a whisper. "Mareth… I love you." Upon saying the words, Kinson felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He studied her face, waiting for her reaction. Fortunately, her reaction was exactly what he had hoped for.

"And I love you, Kinson Ravenlock," she told him, her own voice softened. That said, she decided it was finally time to pick up where they left off. She reached out, enjoying the feel of his thick hair through her fingers. With her free hand, she pulled him as close as possible, and at last, her lips found his in a passionate dance. If he thought their first kiss was breathtaking, it was only a warmup compared to the one they shared now. For the past two nights, he had dreamed of kissing her like this – he just couldn't believe it was actually happening. He returned her kiss hungrily, while at the same time allowing his own fingers to get lost in her short black hair. He opened his eyes to assure himself that he wasn't dreaming, then reluctantly pulled away for air. Tell her now…

"Mareth," Kinson began, "there's something I need to say, and I think I'll go stark raving mad if I don't say it now." He paused, trying to think of how to phrase his words. "What I feel for you now I felt long before our first kiss. But now… I know that it's real. Words have not been invented that could truly say how much I love you, and always will." She held her breath as he continued. "Mareth… will you give me the honor in being my wife?" He gazed into her beautiful eyes, waiting for her response.

"Yes," she said, her eyes brimming with tears of joy, and hugged him as tight as she could. "Oh, yes." She pulled him in for another breathless kiss, knowing that it was the beginning of many more to come.