Whatever animals or insects Sapphire needed for her training, Jem provided with. In truth, she didn’t know very much. She could break bottles, shake leaves out of trees without touching them, freeze the fountain–but not how to melt it back–and transfer energy. Jem taught her the rest–transformation, creation of illusions, the swapping of guts between animals; killing, healing, creating something out of nothing. All this took nine months–extraordinary progress.
In these nine months, there was nobody else in the world except them. Whatever happened outside, remained outside.
Once, Sapphire changed her clothes in front of the fountain. She closed her eyes and felt her everyday clothes change into something much softer–a velvet dress, with several thin layers of different shades of purple. She gave herself a necklace with a tiny sapphire dangling from it, lying on her chest. She held out a hand at the fountain and looked at her reflection when the eater turned still. Satisfied, she smiled.
“I guess the closet is unnecessary now?” Jem’s voice came from ten steps behind.
Sapphire spun around. “Jem!” she exclaimed. “I was just–”
“Shape-shift,” Jem suddenly ordered.
Sapphire shape-shifted into the man facing her. This time, it took a millisecond.
“Impressive,” Jem said as he checked her transformation for flaws. “Speak.”
“I’m Jem,” Sapphire said. Her voice had turned into Jem’s completely.
Jem nodded and shifted into Sapphire. “Hi, Jem, I’m Sapphire,” he said in her voice. “I forgot to let the fountain start moving again.”
“Oh!” Sapphire’s Jem form held out a hand at the fountain. The splashing returned.
“Jem,” Jem said, “What illusion would you like to see?”
Sapphire shrugged. “You tell me, Sapphire, and I’ll make it come true.”
“Winter,” Jem said. In an instant, they were standing on top of snow. The fountain was frozen. The temperature dropped by twenty degrees.
They both shifted back to their original forms and Jem nodded. “This is a good illusion,” he complimented. “Your temporary clone of me was perfect too, except I’d never said I’d make your dreams come true.” His tone was serious, but when Sapphire glanced at him, she saw that he was slightly smiling.
She caught some falling snowflakes. “You can now,” she mused, gazing at the snow while receiving them with open palms.