When Sabrina woke, the sun had not yet risen. She lay in bed for a while, silent tears streaming down her face. She had trusted him, at least enough to let him inside her mind, and he had been the reason she had lost her mother. Lucas had never bothered to tell her. She knew she should be furious, but she did not have the energy. All the anger that she should have felt seemed to be melting into her tears, leaving her empty.

Maybe she had been harsh, she wondered. It felt like her heart had been ripped out of her chest. Maybe she did love Lucas, if only a little. Yet, for some reason, she did not think that she was in love with him, which was what he had seemed to be asking. She wished she could read minds, but she could hardly read her own. Love, her mind repeated. What a simple word for such a complicated feeling.

See knew her father had loved her mother. She knew that she loved her father, as hard as it was to love him. And she loved her kingdom, too. Yet those loves were all different. She could characterize her love for her kingdom as devotion, or patriotism. Her love for her father was loyalty, maybe even gratitude. But she did not know what the love between her parents had been like.

She remembered when her mother had died, how her father had set his jaw and set his kingdom on his back like a house upon a rock. But when he thought no one was looking, he laid in their bed and wept silently, his hand reaching out for his wife in vain. He had changed when she had died, but he had not broken. Perhaps love was when someone became a part of you, and the only way you could be separated would be for that part of you to die. The loss of a love would leave you as whole as you were before you met them, then, but you would just know that there was something gone. Sabrina could certainly say that she had not felt that way about George. His absence was more comforting than his presence. But perhaps she, indeed, was beginning to feel like she was becoming part of something bigger.

The sun had risen, and though she had barely slept, she was ready to get out of bed and to greet her dragon and Cecilia. Her heart was light, oddly, as she essentially floated down the stairs. "Good morning," she chirped as she entered the dining room, but her joy was stolen as soon as she saw Cecilia's grim face and felt the absence of the dragon. "What's wrong?"

Cecilia's jaw tensed. "He's... He's not coming inside. He doesn't want to talk with anyone."

Sabrina sat uneasily. "Did he say why?"

Cecilia shook her head. "He didn't say anything. I barely got him to shake his head."

Sabrina's stomach churned. "Where is he?"

"He's over by the gardening shed in the back."

Before she knew it, she had stood and had run out the door, her bare feet scratched by the dried grass. She saw him huddled up against the wall of the shed, his talons digging into the ground. He turned his head to look at her, but turned his head away when their eyes met.

She hesitated, but after a moment took a step towards him and spoke. "I just wanted to say thank you for yesterday. I really enjoyed spending time with you." He turned his head away further, lowering it to the ground. Her heart dropped, but she continued. "I'm here if you want to talk. Sometimes it helps."

"It won't. Not this time," he whispered hoarsely.

She bit her tongue briefly. "I'm sure that whatever is bothering you, Cecilia and I will understand."

He shook his head almost violently. "Please just go back inside." His talons dug further into the ground.

She looked over her shoulder back at the mansion and then back at him. "I want you to know I'm not afraid. Whatever happened yesterday, I want to help."

The dragon turned his head almost instantly, an unrecognizable fire in his eyes. "Go. You have every reason to be afraid." His talons tore at the ground, his nostrils flaring. "Just go!" he shouted, his voice colored by a barely disguised growl.

Sabrina took a step back, taken aback by his behavior. She felt her jaw tense as she said, "You can't push us away like this. This isn't like you."

"Maybe I'm just tired of pretending I'm something I'm not!" he roared, rearing back.

"Fine," Sabrina spat. "I hope you find what you are." And she turned on her heel and stormed away, trying to avoid the burning tears on her cheek and trying to ignore the feeling that something inside her chest was breaking.

The boy shook his head, digging into the earth with all four of his legs. He clenched his jaw to keep it from trembling. This is it, he realized. It was ending. His curse was never going to be broken. He knew Sabrina's exile was almost over. Perhaps he could hold on long enough to keep his wits about him until she was safe in her kingdom. If he could just keep himself intact for a few more weeks...

But instinct was taking over, and quickly. His body was acting of its own accord. He had no way to guarantee that his mind would not decay just as quickly. He knew what he had to do, as hard as it was. He had to keep her safe, no matter how much he wanted her to stay with him and tell him that it was all going to be fine.

He had to let her go. He loved her too much to let her stay.