Page 2

Helen had stopped in front of a small room with flowered wallpaper. “For Dru, maybe?” she’d said. “It’s pretty.”

Diana had looked dubious. “Oh, Dru isn’t like that,” she’d said. “Maybe if the wallpaper had bats on it, or skeletons.”

Helen had winced.

Aline had taken her hand. “Don’t worry,” she’d whispered. “You’ll get to know them all again.” She’d kissed Helen’s cheek. “It’ll be easy-peasy.”

And maybe it would have been, Helen thought, staring at the door with the note that said Drusilla on it. Maybe if everything had gone well. Grief’s sharp agony flared up in her chest—she felt as she imagined a fish caught on a hook might feel, twisting and turning to get away from the spike of pain driven into its flesh.

She remembered this pain from the death of her father, when only the thought that she had to take care of her family, had to look after the children, had gotten her through. She was trying to do the same now, but it was clear the children—if they could even really be called that; only Tavvy was truly a child, and he was at the Inquisitor’s house, having thankfully missed the horror in the Council Hall—felt awkward around her. As if she were a stranger.

Which only made the pain pierce deeper in her chest. She wished Aline was with her, but Aline had gone to be with her parents for a few hours.

“Dru,” Helen said again, knocking with more force. “Please let me in.”

The door flew open and Helen jerked her hand back before she accidentally punched Dru in the shoulder. Her sister stood in front of her, glaring in her ill-fitting black meeting clothes, too tight in the waist and chest. Her eyes were so red-rimmed it looked as if she had smeared scarlet eye shadow across her lids.

“I know you might want to be alone,” said Helen. “But I need to know that you’re—”

“All right?” Dru said, a little sharply. The implication was clear: How could I possibly be all right?


Dru glanced away for a moment; her lips, pressed tightly together, trembled. Helen ached to grab her little sister and hug her, to cuddle Dru the way she had years ago when Dru was a stubborn toddler. “I want to know how Ty is.”

“He’s asleep,” said Helen. “The Silent Brothers gave him a sedative potion, and Mark’s sitting with him. Do you want to sit with him too?”

“I . . .” Dru hesitated, while Helen wished she could think of something comforting to say about Ty. She was terrified of what would happen when he woke up. He’d fainted in the Council Hall, and Mark had carried him to the Brothers, who were already in the Gard. They’d examined him in eerie silence and stated that physically he was healthy, but they would give him herbs that would keep him sleeping. That sometimes the mind knew when it needed to shut down to prepare itself to heal. Though Helen didn’t know how a night of sleep, or even a year of it, would prepare Ty for losing his twin.

“I want Jules,” Dru said finally. “Is he here?”

“No,” Helen said. “He’s still with Livvy. In the Silent City.” She wanted to say he’d be back any moment—Aline had said the ceremony of laying someone out in the City as a preparation for cremation was a short one—but she didn’t want to say anything to Dru that would turn out not to be true.

“What about Emma?” Dru’s voice was polite but clear: I want the people I know, not you.

“I’ll go look for her,” Helen said.

Copyright 2016 - 2021