I had been running for only five minutes when someone fell in front of me.
"Stop," Shea said, stepping in front of me when I tried to get around her.
"Move," I snapped.
"Shea, I swear to the goddesses, if you don't move-!"
She opened her mouth to speak and I took the moment to dodge around her but she grabbed my arm.
"Calm down," she snapped. "You can't leave everyone behind."
I yanked my arm out of her hand. "You knew, didn't you?"
"Kilyn told us the first night," she whispered and I balled my hand into a fist.
"Why didn't you tell me then!?" I yelled.
"It was a story only your mother or sister could tell you," she answered. "There are rules that-"
"Here we go again," I snapped. "Rules. Orders. Regulations. Did you ever wonder if that's why no one has approached you!" She flinched at my words. "When is the last time you did something that wasn't allowed?"
"Five days ago!" she yelled back. "When I saved you from that peak and by giving you my protection!"
She pointed to the mountain.
"By throwing me off?" I snapped.
"I didn't throw you off!"
"Sindri said we were falling!"
"That's because I wasn't strong enough to slow us down all the way!" I frowned at her. "You want to know what really happened!? Okay. I got you to the peak. You were freezing to death. You collected all those damn flowers. Then you started hugging me. You wouldn't let me go, damn it! I did the only thing I could think of! Yes, I jumped off the mountain peak but that was so I had enough time to get my wings going! I broke the number one rule: Do not save another race unless-"
She stopped, clamping her mouth shut. My anger started to dissipate as we stared at each other.
"Unless what?" I asked.
"I know I'm uptight," she snapped. "I can't help it! I was born knowing that I would be different! The queen said I had a different fate than those around me! Can you imagine what it's like to hear that as a youngling? Can you imagine knowing the truth behind being alone and not even being able to tell your own sibling!?"
"Why didn't you tell him?"
"The queen ordered me not to! She warned me that, if I did, it would alter the course of events! That is why I'm different, Eroan! That is why Sindri is so worried about me. That is why I don't have any fairies of my own!"
I gripped the strap of my bag tightly. "Why weren't you supposed to save me? What's the rule on that?" She didn't answer. "I know you know the reason. Tell me."
"No," she whispered.
"Tell me, Shea," I snapped. "I have the right to know."
"No," she said again and I glared at her.
I grabbed her hair gently and showed her the white streak and mine.
"I have the right to know!" I yelled. "I'm thankful you saved my life, but you've caused harm to yourself! Now what is the rule!?"
Her lower lip trembled. "You know the rule," she whispered, tears in her eyes.
"I need to hear it from you," I snapped. "Not your brother. From you!"
She stomped her foot. "Why!? If you know the rule and the reason then there's no reason to put me through this humiliation!"
I glared. "It's humiliating to be in love with a hybrid?" I demanded and her tears fell.
"No! It's humiliating being interrogated for no reason! It's humiliating knowing that-that it would never happen!"
"Why can't it?" I asked, my voice lowering as my anger disappeared again.
I stepped closer and she took one back, looking fearful. I reached out for her arm. She tried to yank it out but I held fast.
"Did you wonder if this is the fate the queen spoke of?" I whispered.
"No," she snapped. "It's not. I'm your guide. I was just to get you to the peak and back. This... this love... it-it must be a fluke."
"You don't believe that," I muttered, my bag dropping to the ground as I stepped closer.
"It doesn't matter what I believe. The only thing that matters is that I live for my destiny."
"What's the worst that could happen?" I whispered, close enough to feel her body shaking against mine.
"I will lose my powers," she said in a small voice. "I will turn into your race. I... I don't know which one that will be."
"Is that why you're afraid? Because I'm different?"
She tried to get out of my arms again. "I'm not afraid! I'm angry."
"No you're not."
"Stop telling me what I feel, damn it!" she yelled, struggling harder. "You don't know anything about me!"
"You've told me more in the last ten minutes than you realize."
"You're not my fate," she whispered, staring into my eyes. "You can't be. It doesn't make any sense."
"Then kiss me," I breathed. "We'll know then."
"I don't want to," she said.
"I don't know," she murmured. I touched her face and she winced. "Please don't make me do this, Eroan."
"I'm not making you do anything." It was the truth. She was moving on her own. "I'm standing still."
I looked down at her lips and touched them gently. She was still shaking but her face was getting closer. Then she froze. She gulped audibly. I sighed and closed the gap.
Neither of us moved. Her lips were soft but wet from her tears. I let go of her arms, sliding my hands to hers. She gripped mine tightly as she kissed me back. I closed my eyes and pulled her to me, wrapping her arms around my neck.
Panting, we finally caught up with them. We stumbled to a halt. My jaw dropped.
They were kissing but that wasn't what shocked me. I knew it would happen. The elves all gasped. Perhaps it was a good thing that Shea had her arms around his neck for they were slowly lifting in the air. A flash of white light blinded us and I blinked a few times.
"Sindri, look," Kilyn whispered.
The light had disappeared but they were still suspended in the air. Her hair was flying about them but I could see the pointed ears begin to grow. At the same time, Eroan's ears were changing. She pulled herself closer to him and turned her head to the right. Eroan's hair was lengthening, including the white strip. It would be there forever.
They landed back on the earth. Shea's wings were gone. She was an elf now. And so was he.