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With that, Aura’s heart broke. She sensed that without the choker, Fiona could be touched. She grabbed her and held her close.
“I don’t care what you look like or what you can do or what you call yourself,” Aura said. “You’ll always be Viona to me. I’ll never send you away! My uncle did that to me, remember? It’s the height of cruelty, and I am not cruel. You’re welcome to stay with me as long as you wish. You will always have a home here.”
Fiona wasn’t sure how to respond. She was naked and being held by a woman. But she felt the compassion surge through Aura’s hands, and melted into her touch. Being Fiona, and touchable, right now was exactly what she needed. She had never felt so vulnerable. A history student and geek, she knew about Aura’s world. Through books. She had never killed a deer, much less carved it up and cooked it. Aura knew how to do those things. The enchantress was the only one on the entire planet she trusted to protect her and keep her alive two days from now, and in whatever lay beyond.
“Thank you, Aura. I’ve faced evil that I can’t describe,” Fiona said. “Monsters and sorceresses that are right out of a horror movie … uh, nightmare. But I’ve never been as terrified as I am now. I want to go home! I miss Nate! I love him. And what’s happening to Rosebay City in my absence? But I can’t go home!”
“Don’t you give up, Viona!” Aura said. “I believe in you. You saved my life. Three times now. I would have lost to those ogres without you. If not for you, they’d be … doing unmentionable things to me right now. Even if you had done nothing but just stand there, I would still believe in you. So, you keep believing in Viona! Two days? Much can happen in two days. We both were born in just moments. We will die in just as many. So two days is eternity. I will find a way to restore your power and send you home. I promise. I belong to two magical orders. If my skills as an enchantress won’t do the job, then my skills as a wizardess will!”