Brightly Woven Page 86

I walked over the ledge and looked out into the valley below.

’’Do you not want me anymore?’’ North\s words came out in a rushed breath, and I realized he had been holding them in the entire journey back. ’’Is that why you asked me to bring you back here?’’

I turned around sharply. ’’No! Not that, never! You know how I feel about you.’’

’’I don\ do well without you,’’ he said. ’’Who I was before I never want to be that person again. But I told you when I took you away from here that when everything was over, it would be your choice. You would get to choose where you wanted to go and who you wanted to be.’’

There was a pleading look in his eyes. In that moment, he looked as if I had stripped him of his cloak and magic. I could knock him back into that darkness with a single blow.

But how could he think, after all this time, after everything we had done for each other, that I would ever want to leave him?

I looked from the fertile valley below, cocooned by the rocky brown-and-yellow mountains I knew so well, to the small splotch of wood and sand that was my home. All of it, every grain of dust, was a part of me, and that would never change but Cliffton had never held my future.

This time, I chose him.

’’I thought we could stay for a little while,’’ I said. ’’To help them plant more crops and rebuild their homes. I think they could use the services of a wizard.’’

’’Are you sure?’’ he asked. ’’If you want to stay, if you want me to go, I will. This is your home I understand that.’’

’’There\s nothing to understand,’’ I said. ’’My home is wherever you are. I just never had the chance to really say good-bye to the people and places I love. So if you\ll stay with me here, just for a little while, we can go wherever we want to go and do whatever we want to do.’’

’’That sounds nice,’’ he said softly, as if too scared even to breathe. I watched his face as the fearful resignation finally gave way to the first touch of hope. North took my hand, and we began the long walk down to the village.

At that moment, it began to rain.

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