A/N: I haven't read these books in forever, but these two characters were always my favorite.
The sunlight was warm, the updrafts abundant and the wind whipping relentlessly. It was a beautiful day, really; below the soaring hawk were golden fields of corn, rows upon rows of the harvest rippling along with the gusts of air. Somewhere in Oklahoma, would be the best guess; the bird had been traveling nonstop for weeks now, pausing only for small meals of carrion and roadkill, or an ill rat if he was lucky. The strong, feathered wings were aching with the strain of flying so much. It wasn't as if there was a reward awaiting him when he reached the "destination" that hadn't been marked yet.
Rachel loved to fly.
Tobias remembered this detail vividly, coveted the memory deep inside of his blackened heart. She adored flying, her chosen morph of the osprey remaining a close favorite on her list, below elephant and above rhino. Sometimes she would burst running into his grove, where he would be perched on the oak tree, listening to the sounds of mice scuttling and the wind rustling the leaves, and announce, "I want to fly!" a mere moment before her beak would begin to jut from her mouth.
Tobias didn't have a choice to love flying; it was a natural instinct that couldn't be tamed. It was so effortless, so perfunctory now, that it wasn't a matter of wanting to fly, or choosing to fly, but rather a means of transportation. He didn't love to fly, but he loved to fly with Rachel.
She made everything so easy; she made everything so hard. She was complicated and simple, savage and benign - she loved to fight and she loved to kill, she loved to laugh and smile and make others forget their troubles. She loved everything, really. She loved him. He was lucky, he realized; terribly lucky. He had a girl who loved the world, who was just so much in love with life, so much happy with the way everything was.
Then she died, and that love for the world died with her. That love for him disappeared, and the beautiful locks of effortlessly perfect blonde hair vanished, and the wide, toothy smile that melted his heart died. That love for flying died.
Tobias had been flying ever since, maybe to remember why she liked to fly so much.
There was something beautiful about flying, he supposed. Wings beating easily through the thin air, soaring high above the ground in a place where only the clouds touched him, the sun gleaming profoundly down on him. When night fell, and he silently flew through the stars, he fancied he was back two years ago, when Rachel was an osprey and very much alive, urging him on with an inward smile that almost reached her emotionless bird eyes. She had a way of smiling when it was near impossible.
The moon spilled silver light over the earth, far after the sun died on the horizon. Tobias preferred the darkness nowadays; the sun, with its golden light beaming through the clouds and illuminating his feathers, reminded him far too much of Rachel, who loved the daylight. She would sprawl out on the grass in his grove, half-shaded by the oak tree's leaves, and sigh wistfully as she soaked up the delicious rays.
He used to love the sun, but that same love died when Rachel's blood spilled endlessly over the floor.
It still ached in Tobias's tiny beating heart, the blackened, charred organ that seemed to feel nothing anymore. It ached in a way that couldn't be explained; the love for beautiful things in the world was gone, and instead he was cold and malicious. It used to bother him when he tore open the flesh of a squirming mouse; he used to feel pity. The pity fluttered away when his heart was set aflame, burned until it felt no more. Heartbreak was too light of a word for his pain - his heart was killed and tortured until every last drop of love was squeezed away.
Sometimes, when he sees an osprey flying in the distant horizon, the sun silhouetting its bulky form, he imagines it's Rachel coming back to him, assuring him that it was all a horrible dream. That she still loved him and still loved to fly.
Tobias would remember her urn lying in the corners of his grove, and vanish all thoughts of her from his mind. It was cruel mercy that hawks couldn't cry, that his heart was so dead to him, because he was so certain that he would have welcomed the refreshing sting of human tears.