Chapter Seventeen

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Sometimes, I was convinced this was all a dream. That I would wake up and Mom would be downstairs cooking breakfast. Thom would stop by to visit, bringing me something from the many countries he'd gone to. Sometimes, I was convinced I'd think to myself how strange it was to have a dream where Mom was kidnapped and I was some half Unicorn hybrid who was supposed to save Camelot.

But when my eyes opened to stare at the sun this morning, I was forced to come to terms—yet again—with the fact that this was no dream. Everything that had happened over this past week was real.

I took in the light grey sky and the dim morning sun. Already, there was a light snow falling around us, covering the branches and falling lightly on my dress, covering the world around us in white.

It was colder today than it had been yesterday. Somehow, I could sense that my stunt with Eir had deeply angered Morgana. She wouldn't hurt Mom, though. She needed her. For now.

Eir's wings had kept me warm throughout the night—her wings seemed to generate its own heat—but now that I had sat up and had removed myself from the warmth her wings provided, I was freezing.

Merlin was sitting on a log in front of a fire, his back to us. Wrapping my cloak tightly around me, I went to take a seat next to him. He didn't acknowledge me, just kept his gaze on the fire. Ever since yesterday, I got the odd feeling he was avoiding me. Even during our lesson, his eyes were distant. Not the kind of distant that was normal for him, but the kind of distant that froze me in place. The kind of distant I'd never seen before.

I couldn't exactly be sure, but I think it had something to do with Mordred's blatant interest in me. Though, I couldn't figure out why exactly Merlin would be so put out by that. I mean, maybe if he were anyone but Merlin, I'd think he was jealous.

But, Merlin viewed me as a child.

"It's colder today than it usually is," I observed, trying to break the tense silence between us.

"It is."

Sighing, I asked, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

His head snapped in my direction, the fury he had been holding back showing.

"What's wrong with me?" He hissed, keeping his voice low as not to wake anyone up. "I should be asking you that."

"I haven't done anything wrong," I bit out, pissed off at how confused I was by his anger. "You're acting like an asshole for no reason. You're being ridiculous."

He let out a humorless chuckle. "Ridiculous is puckering your lips at Mordred in front of everyone here. Anyone could tell he wanted you."

I looked at him in surprise before saying brusquely, "I was encouraging him to—"

"Is that what they call it in your world?" He scoffed. "Encouraging."

"I don't have to explain anything to you," I said angrily, working to keep my voice down. "You don't have any reason to be upset. You think of me as a child anyway, don't you?"

"Perhaps I think of you as a child because you act like one," came his cool reply.

I'm not exactly sure what snapped in me. Maybe it was because I had just woken up or maybe it was all of the stress I had been feeling for the longest time coming to bite me in the ass. Looking back, though, I think it was the fact that when he said aloud he viewed me as a child, it pierced some part of my heart that I didn't even know could hurt.

But, the palm of my hand connected with his cheek, the sound reverberating throughout the once peaceful morning.

I heard the sound of shuffling and I was suddenly aware that the sound of me slapping Merlin had woken up a few people.

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