“You were too gentle. Too emphatic. You felt others’ pain as if it were your own; you couldn’t even bear the death of your pets. Understand this, my son—I loved you for those things. But the very things I loved about you made you no use to me.”



And then she said nothing else, for Henry put his arms around her and kissed her. Kissed her in such a way that she no longer felt plain, or conscious of her hair, or the ink spot on her dress or anything but Henry, whom she had always loved. Tears welled up and spilled down her cheeks, and when he drew away, he touched her wet face wonderingly.

“Really?” He said. “You love me too, Lottie?”

“Of course I do.”


“You asked Will,” Tessa guessed. Jem shook his head, still smiling. “He asked me,” he said. “Or rather he told me. We were training, up in the training room, with longswords. He asked me and I said no, he deserved someone who was going to live, who could look out for him all his life. He bet me he could get the sword away from me, and if he succeeded, I’d have to agree to be his blood brother.” “And he got it away from you?” “In nine seconds flat.” Jem laughed. “Pinned me to the wall. He must have been training without my knowing about it, because I’d never have agreed if I’d thought he was that good with a longsword. Throwing daggers have always been his weapons.” He shrugged. “We were thirteen. They did the ceremony when we were fourteen. Now it’s been three years and I can’t imagine not having a parabatai.”