"I'm sorry," she said. Her head hung low, her dark hair covering the pale skin of her face. "I'm sorry," she said, and she meant it. She looked down, waiting for a response.

He studied her for a moment. His green eyes were watching her and one eyebrow was raised skeptically. He stood with his arms folded across his chest and his head tilted to the side, judging her.

"I'm sorry," she said again. She bit her lip. She wanted him to forgive her. She didn't know why it was so important. Maybe it was because he was the only one who really understood her. He was the one she could relate to. She didn't want to lose that.

He still wasn't convinced. He wanted to forgive her, but he wasn't sure he could. What she had done was wrong. She had put their lives in jeopardy. She had taken risks that she knew she shouldn't. He pushed the side of his face out with his tongue.

"I'm sorry," she said.

He spoke. "I'm sorry, too."

She looked at him. Her face showed regret, shame, and pain. "You shouldn't be," she said. "I know it's my fault. What I did-"

"It was wrong!" he interrupted. She shrank back in fear. There was anger in his eyes and his voice, usually light and musical, was as dark as thunderclouds with all the force of lightning. "You knew better," he said. "You knew what you were doing, that you were putting us in danger, but you did it anyway. Why?"

She was too frightened to answer. Her eyes were wide and her slender, snowy wings trembled. She looks so small, he thought, so helpless. His features softened and with all the gentleness he could manage, he asked again, "Why?"

"I just wanted to help them," she said. Now tears began to run down her face. She had made him so angry. "They were so alone, so afraid." Her voice shook. "I just wanted to help."

"But you knew," he said. "You knew what happened before. You knew it was dangerous. You're not supposed to meddle like that."

She looked down again. Yes, she knew. But he didn't know. He didn't know what it was like, to see them, so helpless. He didn't know what it was like to have the power to help them, but to be forbidden to use it. It was awful, she thought. They were supposed to be a helping, nurturing people, but in truth there was not much they could do. Life was full of lies and deception.

He put his cool hands on her shoulders and pulled her towards him to face him. She reluctantly raised her pale blue eyes to meet his. "I'm so sorry," she said.

He embraced her, and her heart rejoiced. She was forgiven. She smiled through the tears that were drying on her face. She pulled away and looked at him. He was smiling too. "It's okay," he whispered. "It's okay."

Her smile darkened and her face showed worry. "They won't be happy, will they?" she said.

"No," he replied, taking her in his arms again. "No, they won't. They'll know, and they'll come looking for you. You know what happened to the last one who." he trailed off.

"Poor thing," she said. "She only wanted to help. She didn't deserve it."

"That's not what they thought," he said.

She was afraid again. "You don't think they would."

"They might."

She covered her mouth with her hand, stifling a cry. "How could I?" she cried. "How could I be so stupid?" She looked at him. "You must leave. If they find you with me, you may be punished too."

"No, I won't leave you for them," he said firmly. "You shouldn't go through this alone.

"Then we'll both leave, go far away where they'll never find us," she said. "We'll find someplace safe."

He was thinking. "Run away?" he said. "And waste away our lives in fear? No. We have a higher purpose."

"What do you mean?"

"Don't you see? We have nothing to lose," he said, smiling sadly. "We can go where we want, we can help them, we can save them, the punishment cannot grow worse."

She understood. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

His eyes met hers again and something passed between them. "How could I live without you?" he asked.

He took her hand and they spread their wings. As they flew off into their future, the air rustled with all the pure, mystical light of the world.