There was a soft knocking at the door, and Vesper looked up at Adrianna from where she was crouching on the floor, graver in hand. Adrianna pulled a blanket across her legs, hiding them from view and then said “Come in.”

Karise’s blond head was low, but her eyes looked up at the pair of girls sitting by the fire, “Is it okay for me to come in?”

“Of course. Why would you think otherwise?”

“My dad, and well me as well, have said some…unflattering things about magic. And I think he might try and…well…he’s not best pleased.”

“Karise, I am well aware of how witches and wizards are viewed in this world and how revealing what I am would cause trouble for me. However, the thought of what might have occurred had I not revealed myself and used my abilities in the way I did was too much to bear for me. You are far too important, to me and to the realm, to have let that happen. And if your father does want to pursue the law, despite of the obvious service to the crown, then I shall deal with that when it happens.”

“Your not mad at me? For being so silly to get myself in that situation. You wouldn’t have had to do anything if I had had my wits about me.”

Adrianna reached out and took both of Karise’s hand in her own. “My dearest Karise, you must have realised something by now.”

“Realised what?”

“That I love you. You are my dearest and truest friend, and I love you more than I can express. I could never be mad at you, no matter what you do, even if it is folly. I love you far too much for that.”

Karise’s eye welled up with tears, and with a small wail, she threw herself into Adrianna’s arms and clung on with all her strength. Adrianna stroked her fine hair, smoothing it down her back. “There, there princess, no need to cry. Love is a good thing after all.”

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