A/N: And here it is, the third and final part of this short story (I did warn you it was short). Even better, it's my birthday today! It's very satisfying to get something done and dusted on a birthday, too... Anyway, many thanks to incognitus for the review - really made my day. :)

The sky was a darkening, inky blue, already glimmering with the first few stars even though the sun had not yet disappeared completely beyond the horizon. Thalia's head was held high with intent, her footsteps unwavering as she slipped out of the house. The large cage stood ahead, portentious and black against its dim surroundings.

As she drew nearer to it, there was a shuffling sound, and a dark figure with wild hair and half-folded, trailing wings scrambled to see her, having sensed her presence well in advance.

Bravely, Thalia walked up close to the bars, and stopped. Taking a deep breath, she summoned every ounce of her determined courage...

...and looked Isadore straight in the eyes.

Even in the penumbral light, they were violet-grey, feral and beautiful.


'Thalia...!' he whispered in amazement, hardly believing her actions, and his voice was more musical and velvety than ever. Their gazes were firmly locked as slowly, slowly, Isadore walked forwards. Thalia found herself swept away by the sheer, bewitching power in his eyes. She could never have prepared herself for the sight of them; what she had always believed to be manipulative, entrancing eyes were in reality so full of emotion that they were very human. She felt herself drawn to him, irresistibly and magnetically, but also completely willingly. Soon they were only inches apart, the bars of the cage close between them. Thalia could feel his heat, smell his wild, fresh masculine scent. His wings were trembling in anticipation, half-unfurled behind his back.

Thalia stared deep into those ethereally beautiful purple-grey eyes, mesmerised but still somehow in full possession of her senses.

'Why have you come here, my love?' Isadore breathed, gaze intense and unblinking, seeming to already guess the answer.

She took a deep, shuddering breath, and whispered: 'To set you free.'

Then, she unlocked the cage door.

Something raw and animal took hold of Isadore's expression, breaking through the composed elegance he usually had. A snarl of triumph bared his fangs, and his eyes burned. Suddenly, the cage door was banging on its hinges, and his lean, slender body was leaping through it. He gave a cry that was half-laugh and half-roar, before his wings unfurled and he took to the air, the wind he created whipping Thalia's hair from her face. She watched him rise, her breath stolen. He was incredible in the air - completely in his element. His powerful wings were open to their full span, beating strongly as he swooped and glided effortlessly into the sky. She could still hear his cries of delight even as he disppeared from view, lost in the coming night.

After a few minutes, Thalia turned her face away from the sky, feeling satisfied but at the same time a little disappointed. She looked at the empty cage. What had she expected? He was a wild creature - of course he was going to fly away immediately. She sighed. She shouldn't have taken his seductive words to heart...but nevertheless, she still felt a sense of joy that she had followed her own will and set him free. The farmers would be perplexed in the morning when they found him gone; by then, of course, Thalia would be away from the cage and at a safe distance -


Furious shouts rang out from down the path, and Thalia froze. Inside, she cursed her timing; she had completely forgotten that tonight some of the men had been staying late to finish work in the fields. She was in the worst position imagineable: loitering alone beside the dangerous creature's cage, which was empty and with the door blatantly wide open. Even from this distance she could see the anger in their faces, and knew that there was nowhere to run to now.

'She's let the beast out!'

'The creature's escaped!'

They were advancing quickly, hurling abuse as they came. Thalia was aware that running would be her best means of survival, but her feet simply would not move. To her horror, she found herself frozen in shock. They were coming closer; she was going to be -

Abruptly, the men cried out as one and flung themselves back as a huge shape swooped down from the sky, the wind humming over its gigantic wings. Fangs glinted in the light of the brightening moon as the flying creature roared out a wordless challenge, asserting his dominance over the weak, grounded men.

Thalia looked up, but he was moving too fast for her to follow. In a smooth movement, he skimmed impossibly low over the ground, and then suddenly all the breath was knocked out of Thalia as she was plucked right off her feet and into the air.

She fought against the scream of terror building in her as the ground fell away terrifyingly fast, feeling as if she had left her stomach behind. But there were strong arms wrapped tightly around her, supporting her, holding her close. She heard the creature laugh gleefully, his hair whipping back from his face as he flew with her at an exhilirating speed.

'Did you think I had forgotten you?' Isadore asked her, turning a lazy spiral in the air that made Thalia feel as if she was out of her body altogether.

'I...I...' she tried to reply, but the otherworldly experience of flying with such height and speed had taken her voice. Isadore didn't mind, however, sensing her amazement at this new-found freedom.

'Well, I most definitely hadn't,' he continued, then tilted his body to wheel breathtakingly over a dense area of forest. As his lips ran over her wind-chilled cheek, she heard him murmur happily into her ear: 'After all, I still have a nest that I would very much like to show you...'

The End.