Jem and Sapphire were lying side by side in the snow, fingers intertwined, both gazing up at the sky.
“Sometimes,” Sapphire murmured, as if half-asleep, “I wonder what’s going on outside.”
“We could take over,” Jem said.
“We could,” Sapphire agreed. They stayed silent for a few minutes. When she turned her head to look at him again, he had his eyes closed. Jem was snoring softly. She pinched his neck. He didn’t wake. She let her finger linger on an unseen artery beneath his warm skin. Then, she withdrew and began slipping her hand away from his.
Sapphire stood up and strode away, drifting like a ghost across the snow. In a moment of hesitation, she looked back. Jem was already standing awake and staring at her, his expression rigid.
“I was about to ask you, but you were asleep,” she explained.
“Where are you going?”
“Back to my brother for a while. He’s sick. He only has a maid right now.”
“Don’t leave.” He took a step forward.
“I must. I’ll just transfer some energy and power to him, then I’ll be back.”
“No,” Jem protested. “After all this time, don’t you consider yourself part of my world? Part of me?”
Neither of then moved. Neither spoke. After what seemed like an eternity, Sapphire broke the truth.
“No,” she said. “I’m not part of your world. I’m not part of you. I came to the city to seek wizards to absorb power from, just so I can help my brother survive. That where they sold me, it was perfect. They never knew what I did to them. I merely escaped for a fortnight and the next day, there would be new ones coming.” Her expression remained unchanged throughout her speech. “In fact, even normal humans would do. Energy doesn’t help Felix as much as power does, but he gets by.” There she paused. Jem made no move. “I only followed you because of your immense power. Now that I have this much myself, I can heal Felix completely. I don’t need you anymore.” Still keeping her eyes on Jem, she took a step back. The snow around her swirled until she couldn’t see him.
The snowstorm wasn’t her doing.
“You don’t need me, but I still want you!” It was Jem’s turn to thunder. The snow around Sapphire continued swirling around her under Jem’s command, until she was locked inside a cage of ice. “Before I tell you why I want you,” Jem said, “Be well assured. This cage is witchcraft-proof. Sapphire, you picked a time too early. You haven’t learned everything from me yet.”