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The first thing I do once we reach the other side of the portal is let go of Jack. Then I
concentrate on closing it. It’s not hard, but I feel like I keep doing all of this blind. The portal
grows smaller until there’s nothing but that silvery substance on the ground once more.
Silence falls comfortably between us until we find a small lake. Jack goes to it to wash away
the blood. I stare at the uninviting water and take a deep breath. My hands plunge into it and I
wince. The cold seeps deep in my bones. I imagine them brittle, full of icicles inside of them. So different from the cold glimmer of Time.
Jack frowns. “You look like you’re about to pass out.”
“I’m fine.” My teeth chatter as I lean closer to wash my face.
He stops me. “You’re going to fall face-first in the water.”
I wait until he’s dampened the linen handkerchief he takes from his pocket.
“Who carries linen handkerchiefs?” I mutter.
Shrugging, he responds, “You’d be surprised.” His body shifts, then he lifts the handkerchief
to my face. “Don’t pass out on me yet.” He presses the handkerchief to my skin in a gentle
motion. My eyes lock with his.
“You wish.” The words fall slowly from my lips before I shiver again, only this time, I know
the cold has nothing to do with it.
“That should do it,” he says, pulling away. I stand up and walk a bit further from the water.
I stop a few steps away. My eyes move around the trees and shore. Snow covers the ground
as far as I can see, but I barely register that because my attention is commanded by Jack as he
calls my name.
“What did you do to my sister?” he asks when our eyes meet.
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