The warmth of the summer had long since faded and the leaves lay soft and wet against the slumbering ground. Kendra stopped to admire the beauty, appreciating the lush life descending into sleep after spending months in Winter’s realm. The world hadn’t changed much since she’d left, moving forward only a handful of days to the weeks that she’d been gone. Time moved differently in the Sidhe realms than it did in her world.
She shot a look behind her. Nothing remained of the portal she came through. Not a whisper or a scent or even a brush of magic or wind. The world sat in stillness with only her breath and heartbeat to break it.
Phinn was gone and she’d go back to her solitary lifestyle, celebrating the Goddess’s holidays on her own. It was as it should be, but somehow she couldn’t find the joy in it. She took a step back to lean against a tree, and slid down to the ground. She squeezed her eyes shut and rested her forehead on her upraised knees in an effort to stop the tears.
This is ridiculous. They wouldn’t have worked out anyway. She was an earth witch and he the half-Fae son of Winter’s courtier. They were as different as the sun and the moon.
But she’d fallen for him. For his wit, his strength, his determination, his gentleness despite being a soldier. She’d stood with him and used her magic to protect him, and in the end, he’d made a deal to make sure she could get home.
Even Marbles stayed behind.
She couldn’t fault the healed tracker demon for that. It didn’t really belong in this world. How would she explain a cat-like creature as big as a Siberian tiger in Colorado? But that didn’t make her tears stop flowing down her face.
Something brushed her head and warm breath smelling of raw meat ghosted into her face. Kendra jerked her head up and met the golden eyes of her scaly tracker demon.
“Oh, you found me.” Her voice warbled as she wrapped her arms around the thick, softly-furred neck. “You found me.”
Marbles wuffed a comforting sound and sat on her haunches, wrapping her strong forelegs around Kendra’s body. The heat and protection of Marbles’ body made Kendra cry harder, but at least she wasn’t alone. The tracker demon remembered their adventure and if she couldn’t have Phinn, she at least had her magical companion.
“Come on, Marbles. Let’s go home.” She scratched the demon’s head behind her ears and pushed her back enough to get up. “Maybe I’ll make us some tea.”
The demon wuffed again and rose to all fours, her tail flicking like a cat’s. Kendra took one last look at the foggy forest with its carpet of brilliant leaves before she led her demon home.
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