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Charlotte sat in Yulia's tiny kitchen with the heat from the hearth at her back. A cup of tea sat on the table beside her as she fiddled with the wraithstone. Yulia had refused to take it back.

"You put it to better use than I do," she had said.

Charlotte set the wraithstone beside her forgotten cup of tea and propped her chin on her hand as she looked out the window.

She had been too weak to travel after defeating The Endless One. Yulia had insisted that Charlotte stayed with her until she was well enough to move on her own.

What should have been a visit that lasted no more than three days had turned into two months. Charlotte had long ago recovered her strength but she had lingered, concerned for the damage wrought upon Šuná, especially to Zevvi. She hated the thought of leaving without knowing he was all right.

The soft whisper of a footstep made Charlotte turn. Alexander placed a hand on her shoulder as he sat in the chair beside her. Whether was for support or reassurance, she couldn't tell. Most days, he was still shaky. But at least he was on his feet, a miracle unto itself.

When he leaned over to kiss her cheek, the collar of his shirt gaped open, revealing a glimpse of the webbed scars that crept along his chest and towards his throat.

Charlotte placed her hand over his heart—a habit she had developed after countless hours spent at his bedside, willing him to heal faster.

Alexander covered her hand with his.

"I think I'm well enough to travel now," he said. "Yulia worked wonders with that tea, even if it did taste foul."

"Maybe in another week," Charlotte replied, brushing a lock of hair away from his forehead. "You still look too pale."

"I always do."

She smiled and rested her head on his shoulder. Alexander toyed with a lock of her hair, curling it around his finger like a thread of magic.

"Mother is getting more anxious by the day," he said. "She's relieved that the curse is broken but she still doesn't believe it."

"She won't. Not until she sees you in person."

"And I'd like to make sure William is all right after...the last time he saw me."

He paused and his hand went still against Charlotte's back.

"Do you think things have settled?" he said.

She nodded. "Šuná has been through a horrifying ordeal and yet...they seem to be managing. I'm not needed here any longer."

Through the window, Zevvi, Yulia, and Jonathan were pelting each other with snowballs. Zevvi slipped and toppled into a snow drift, his laughter echoing through the trees.

Alexander sighed. "I was wondering...could I make reparations for what my ancestors did all those years ago?"

"When we leave, I'll put wards up. I have a little magic left. It's not much but I feel it getting stronger every day. I can spare a portion of it after we're far away from here. No one will come near the village unless the people choose to reveal themselves."

"That's all well and good, and I appreciate the effort. But I'd like to do something personally. I'm just...not sure if my help would be accepted after what my family has done in the past."

Charlotte nodded and squeezed his hand. "Perhaps a load of timber for repairs. The trees were damaged and many of the cottages were affected by The Endless One. New homes will need to be rebuilt."

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