Chapter 4

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The next morning I help Frye shoulder his pack, checking to make sure everything is secure before stepping back and shielding my eyes against the sunrise.

"Are you sure you have everything?" I ask.

"Yes, mother." Frye rolls his eyes. "Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch."

"Good." I adjust my own pack and knot a bandana around my neck. "Then I guess this is goodbye."

Frye watches me, his hazel eyes taking no prisoners. "Are you still going to be pissed at me when you get back?"

"I'm not pissed." I say.

"Enough. Gods know how long it will be until we see each other again, so can we please be honest for a moment?"

"Fine." I cease fidgeting with my bag and look my brother full in the face. "I'm pissed you insisted on Petr telling that nonsense story last night when you knew I didn't want to hear it."

"Good." Frye nods. "That's a start."

"So, you're sorry?"

"No," Frye tilts his head. "But I'm glad you're finally acknowledging some feelings."

I roll my eyes, making to turn away. "You're impossible."

"Kay," Frye yanks on my pack and pulls me back around. "You understand why I pressed for your story, don't you?"

"I assume because you get some kind of sick pleasure out of irritating me." I say dryly.

For once, Frye doesn't smile. "I'm trying to get to know you."

"I'm your sister. You do know me."

"Not anymore, I don't." Frye says. "When I left you were a mischievous little kid, and now you're some kind of legend."

"Stop exaggerating." I snap.

"I hardly think I am. Maybe you don't understand how strange it's been for me, coming back home and finding everything changed."

I soften. "Frye..."

"Not just changed," He interrupts me. "Gone. Mum and Dad, Edmun, Lara..."

He trails off, appearing adrift for a moment. I struggle to find words, reaching out for his hand before pulling away.

"Harry told me what she did to you." Frye blinks back to focus. "I didn't really understand the extent of it until last night."

I shrug, scratching at my scarred shoulder. "Have you seen her?"

"Once." He says. "Briefly. At a booksellers in the Outer City."

My heart seizes the way Frye's must have when he laid eyes on her. "I heard that she was living out there, now. Did you speak to her?"

"I tried, but she took off the instant she saw me." A look of genuine heartbreak crosses Frye's impish features and this time I do manage to lay a comforting hand on my brother's arm.

"I'm sorry." I say softly. "I know that you must miss her."

"Six years." Frye says. "Every day for six years I thought of her. Lara was my inspiration, my motivation for staying alive and getting home."

"I couldn't imagine." Seeing my cheeky brother so distraught pains me worse than the memory of my interrogation beneath the Palace. "But there are other girls, Frye. Girls who deserve you."

He releases a heavy sigh. "You still don't get it, do you? I can't just forget what I had with her and go back to the way things were before. It doesn't work that way."

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