I think I finally nailed my hero, Faldur. I have him right where I want him, on the end of an emotional pin point - the poor, brave, stubborn, repressed male that he is!
You see, he's been in love with Marenya for at least a decade, but has been so afraid of his feelings that he has completely denied them. Although it is perfectly obvious to everyone else, he didn't recognize the strength of his own attachment to her... even to the point of wishing she'd marry one of his best friends. That way she'd be safe, happy and provided for while he was off saving the world.
Don't be too hard on him as you read this. Saving the world - or at least his corner of it - is dangerous, especially in a magical environment. He really didn't want to leave a widow and some kids behind to fend for themselves. She lost her father that way, and he didn't want to put her through it again. Not only that, he wasn't sure he could be as brave as he needed to be with a family to worry about.
He was doing it for her. He was doing his duty to his country, and his King.
She put herself in danger to save him, allowing herself to be taken hostage by the Bad Guys. In the process she is nearly killed, and by sheer willpower he keeps her from dying. Now he's trying to protect her from hypothermia in her weakened state, while dealing with the newfound revelation of his heart.
Someone asked me recently what my book was about. It was one of those really embarassing dinner party questions, when I couldn't think of a coherent answer. I was so deeply involved in the current scenes I was writing, that I literally couldn't describe the forest for the trees. My friend, a librarian, asked, "Is it a romance?" I replied, "In the classical sense, yes. Knights and dragons and ladies in distress. But it's not a romance novel."
It does have a romantic subplot, however, and that has been the crux of my difficulty in writing. Although this subplot is a rich source of material, it is very hard to keep from "overwriting" the scenes between the two characters. But my test reader has told me that she can't relate to the hero; he's too closed. I do have to go back eventually and write a bunch of missing scenes from his point of view. But I agree with her - we haven't been given enough insight into his character yet.
Until last night. I think I nailed him! Whew!
Background: There was a snowstorm, and he has been trying to keep her warm while she lay unconscious from loss of blood. She has finally regained consciousness.
He lay with her in the pine-scented dark, rejoicing in the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. His face was still pressed against hers, and his limbs wrapped around her so that the warmth flowed between them. She felt so fragile, he was afraid to move. He felt fragile also, as if something he had carefully wrapped up in many layers of protection had been suddenly ripped open and exposed. I do need you. The words burned in his throat, but he couldn’t say them.
“Where are we?”
“There was a snowstorm. We’ve all taken refuge under the trees for the night.”
“Oh.” She paused. “That would explain why it’s so cold.” She began to shiver.
He held her tightly, but the shivering didn’t stop. He remembered his flask and felt around for it. There was just a little velash left, which he gave to her. Her body stilled as the warmth of the brandy spread through it.
“I think it’s time to light a fire. Stay here.”
“Yes,” she said weakly. “I’ll do that.”