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Raven sat, staring at the sister that she hadn't seen in years, as a deluge of repressed memories flooded her mind.

Black trucks pulling up outside the hut where she and Kalila lived together.

Kalila pushing her down into a cleverly-concealed hiding place, whispering hurried instructions before her footsteps faded out of earshot.

Hiding in darkness, waiting for the silence to engulf her completely.

Rushing to the window to find the trucks gone, but Kalila nowhere in sight.

Returning to the present, Raven jumped up and hugged her sister, hesitating imperceptibly at the foreign motion. She stepped back self-consciously, making an attempt to neutralize her expression but failing as Kalila removed her mask and the emotion flooded back in a tsunami that washed over every defense Raven erected against it.

"What happened, Kalila?" Raven barely registered the emotion drenching her words, attention riveted utterly on her sister. It was a dangerous exhibit of sentiment--in front of Kieran Stone, no less--but she did not care. At this moment, he was no more important than any other twenty-one-year-old man. The only person who mattered was Kalila, only Kalila.

"I let her have me, told her you were dead." Her sister's voice was tranquil, but it was the kind of tranquility that took immense mental determination. "That was the only way to ensure your safe escape."

Raven exhaled softly, biting back all the words that jostled for escape in her throat.

Kalila's eyes softened. "About three years in, I escaped, with his help." Raven didn't have to look to know that Kalila was gesturing to Kieran. "I searched and searched for you, but every lead turned out to be a dead end. When I had given up hope of finding you on my own, I turned to the one person in the world who I knew would be able to." Her sister's eyes met Kieran's in a stare so full of gratitude that Raven's heart twisted painfully in her chest.

"Oh, Kalila." Raven wrapped her arms around her sister, all uncertainty about the action gone. "Or should I call you Mistral?"

"I think Kalila is behind me. I am Mistral now," Kalila replied. "And you, I think, have become used to being Raven."

"Yes, I have. It's fitting--new names for new lives. Neither of us are the same people we used to be." Raven met her sister's eyes, nothing but contentment overflowing in her gaze.

"Yes, our choice of profession has matured us faster than a lot of people, but I think that neither of us would trade our life for a normal one." A small, wry, knowing smile played at the corner of Kalila- no, Mistral's mouth, and the expression was startlingly familiar; it took Raven a moment to place it as one that she wore quite often herself.

"No, we wouldn't," Raven responded, mirroring her sister's countenance.

Kieran cleared his throat, abruptly reminding Raven of his presence. "Mistral, your suite is adjacent to both mine and Raven's." He held out a keyring identical to the one that he'd given to Raven, and Mistral accepted it before returning her attention to Raven.

"I assume you're capable of showing me to my rooms?" The smile on Mistral's lips grew engagingly.

Raven returned her sister's smile, stepping toward the doorway and nodding cursorily to Kieran over her shoulder. "Of course. They're this way."





Welp, I'm actually kicking myself right now. I mean, I like cliches, but this feels disgustingly sappy and superficial, even by my standards xD oh well, I'm just hoping that you guys don't see it that way. Because the writer's always much more critical than the reader... right? Jk guys, don't worry about hurting my feelings ;) PM me or comment with all your castigatory feedback--I'll be editing another chapter for your reading (dis)satisfaction.  Oh and yeah, be nice little bookworms and vote if this chapter was half as good as I expect you expected it to be. All right, I'mma go take myself somewhere I'm not wanted now, love you all ^.^

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