A black feather is all that's left. Even with good care, ravens hardly ever live more than twenty years. I guess that's not bad, considering the average shelf life of modern relationships is about three years. I remember his black feathers, wings stretched out in flight, and the surprising heaviness when he landed on my outstretched arm.
Then the sound of the change, and the visible pain he was in while transforming, and the gore and fluids and feathers everywhere. Sitting in a corner, I would wait patiently while he changed. In the very beginning, I had been less careful once and ended up with a broken arm from his flailing movement while growing into human shape.
Once the shape was complete, he would cower in his corner for a moment, gather himself and transition from raven-mind to man-mind. Through all these years, his body remained firm and muscular from all the time spent in flight. Whereas I aged, as do all women, and especially those who meddle with the dark powers. It takes a toll. All the years I remained beautiful, but my beauty was that of a crone when I was barely forty years of age.
I wonder why he returned to me over and over again, when all I had to offer was pain and passion and a few worms and grains, sometimes a dead mouse or a fresh egg before he left again. My power was never enough to keep him in one shape for a long time, and once he was gone I would clean everything away with great care, destroying the circle around my small hut which had done its duty in keeping us safe and undisturbed.
There have been rumors in the villages around the forest, of an evil sorceress turning people into animals out of cruelty. They continue coming to me if they need my help, but their minds have started making the connection, and I see the fear in their eyes. This is the price I have to pay for the love of a bird, and now he is gone.
Maybe I could resurrect him, there should be a little bit of him in the feather I kept after our last encounter... that time where all we did was enjoy the silence together, embracing each other peacefully on my narrow bed, since the flight had exhausted him and he had barely recovered when it was time to leave. I might bring him back, for a time, without true understanding... the same way he was when I first found him, a fledgling hopping around under a tree... my mind wanders... and then I put the feather back where it belongs, way in the back of the shelf, hidden behind the jars with honey and herbs. It's better not to think about it. I'm an old woman, after all.