The most famous example, of course, follows Leia's declaration of love in The Empire Strikes Back. Han Solo, instead of answering in kind, simply says "I know."
The favorite declaration I've written is from an unpublished manuscript, Above the Fold, about a hard-charging reporter and a security agent who's trying to put his life back together. They've been dealing with how outwardly incompatible they are through the whole book, even while dodging bullets and defusing bombs. She thinks he wants to fix her and the way she lives. She's mistaken.
"I chose my life, as messed up at it is. I don’t need a rescuer.”
“I do,” Grayson said.
In Phoenix Legacy, my hero, Philip Drake aka Hawk, is convinced he is so damaged he's incapable of a proper relationship. (He has a point, given his morals are basically 'protect those you care about and the rest can go hang.') A simple "I love you" is out of the scope of his comprehension. Instead, he gives the heroine, Delilah Sefton, what he thinks she needs.
“I’m not trying to put you off. I’m telling you, honestly: whatever you want, I’ll do it for you. Whatever you want.”
She sensed the depth of that statement from him this time. He meant that literally. If she told him to stay away, he would. He might watch her from a distance to ensure her safety, but he’d fade from her life.
Philip repeats whatever you want several times. It's his version of "I love you." But Del knows this is not the way to a true partnership.
“You didn’t fail me, you saved my life.” She kissed him lightly on the lips. “I’m pregnant from a medical rape, I’ve been thrown in with a bunch of would- be superheroes, been chased by minions of some villain, and we’ve just had a hell of a reintroduction. I know very little of what I want.” She laid her head on his shoulder.
“But please don’t vanish, Hawk. Please don’t vanish. I don’t think I could stand to say goodbye to you again.”
And finally, Del doesn't exactly say "I love you" at the end but she does use words that Hawk understands perfectly.
“It was the right thing.” That Cheshire had shot him didn’t matter. That he’d
reached the point where he could give Cheshire a second chance, that mattered. That meant he could change. He didn’t have to be a killer.
“How is the baby? Is he growing normally?”
“Our son is fine. Alec told me they finally found Cheshire’s back-ups in his home, buried inside his stereo equipment. Once we find a doctor we can trust, they’ll have the right information in case of any complications.”
“Good.” A long pause. “Stay with me.”
She lay down beside him. He sighed happily.
“Now what?” he asked. “
Whatever you want, Hawk,” she answered. “Whatever you want.”
They finally do exchange "I love you"s at the very end of the book but, by that time, it's a done deal. The words are confirmation of what they already know, not revelation.
So what's your favorite declaration of love?
Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, not necessarily in that order. You can find her at www.corrina-lawson.com or www.geekmom.com