Chapter 47

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IT had been days before Arlo received the response from the Qarinian Queen.

He came to the infirmary with Arianna, Iressa and Ada. Even Elize was hovering anxiously in the room.

Lily had been talking to Adrian when they walked in—he wasn't hurt that bad, but the healers had wanted to keep him in just in case—each with expressions with various degrees of worry. She saw Arlo's grave face and immediately understood.

"Did the Queen agree?" She asked, pursing her lips tightly. She could already feel her hands shaking, and she hid them beneath the blanket.

Arlo gave her a nod. "You're going to Qarini, Lily."

Iressa gave Lily a long look. She'd made up her mind to leave as well, no matter how much the others tried to dissuade her.

Lily nodded, letting out a shaky breath. She'd been expecting it, but it didn't make it hurt any less. "I'm going to the bathroom," she murmured.

No one moved as she got out of bed, wincing at the stiffness in her torso, and carefully walked over to the bathroom. She locked the door behind herself and leaned against it, staring at herself in the mirror.

She looked so different now. Her hair, so short, so different. Skin a bit more tanned. Bloodshot eyes with dark circles under them—nightmares kept her up half the night.

She sank slowly to the floor, curling her knees up to her chest. That hollow feeling where her heart was supposed to be—it was becoming more and more common. The only other emotion she could muster up was sadness.

She sighed. First her family and Hosun, now her family here. It wasn't ever going to end. Maybe this was how it was going to be. Losing people over and over. Now that she was exiled, maybe she'd keep getting shuffled around from country to country.

She could hear the others talking outside—muffled voices that said how devastated they were, how worried they were for her. They all cared for her, despite knowing her for such a short time.

Lily swallowed down a sob and stared at the ceiling under the tears blurring her vision faded. She took a deep breath and stood up. She opened the door.

All conversation in the room fell silent when she stepped out, everyone's concerned faces turned towards her.

Lily forced a small smile. "I'm fine." She walked to her bed and sat on the edge gingerly, glancing down.

Arianna sat beside her and put her hand over Lily's. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Lily said, still looking at the floor. "It's not your fault."

"Well—we feel like it is," Arlo said, sitting on Lily's other side. "I should have put some protection around you. I can't believe I didn't think of it."

Lily shrugged. "They would have killed whoever you'd tasked with protecting me."

"Still." Arlo let out a heavy breath. "Now, you and Iri are leaving. We might never see you again."

Lily winced.

"I'm sure we will," Arianna said, her fingers tightening around Lily's. "This can't be goodbye. When all this blows over, you can come right back. You'll always be welcome here."

Lily lifted her head just a bit and looked at Adrian. In his eyes, she saw her own thoughts. This wouldn't all blow over so soon. No, it might be years—many years—before they could defeat the Gongjensu.

This could be goodbye.

He sniffed loudly and cleared his throat, looking away. Lily resumed her stare at the floor.

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