When the blinding light finally fades, the zodiacs - Capricorn included - are gone. Ellie too, has vanished. I hang my head, a deep ache start in my chest. I sigh and struggle to my feet, almost falling flat on my face again in the process. Eric looks at me uncertainly, but reluctantly pulls my arm over his shoulder. I cough violently, bringing up another mouthful of black gunge.
"Pleasant." says Eric. I grimace.
"Isn't it just."
Titan moves down out of the crowds to my side. I look up at him blearily, slightly embarrassed. It's more than a little bit strange to have him on my side having spent the past few days calling him the rudest names I know, even if it was only in my mind. I try to bow, but that only results in another coughing fit. Titan lays a hand on my shoulder.
"Take it easy." he says. "You're not in a good way. Ellie might have saved your life, but you're still nowhere near strong enough to go anywhere. I think it best you stay up here until you're healed, I daren't risk taking you back underground. I doubt the Truimvate will be very pleased with this ... turn of events."
I look up questioningly. "Why not?"
"I think they had ambitions for you Sable. I don't think this is quite what they had in mind. Don't look so worried, I doubt they would harm you - if they wanted to then you and Ellie would never have made it back to the surface. No, they might just be a little difficult to talk to for a while."
"Ugh ... so what exactly has Ellie done to me?" I ask. Titan shakes his head and takes my other arm, helping Eric carry me out of the arena. "I think you'll find a few little changes. You're still as dark as ever - much to our kindred's disgust - but I think you'll find there are a few perks to being the consort of a star sign."
"Really?" I say sarcastically. "So far it's not much fun. What with being treated like a punchbag and nearly being eaten by draugs, I can only just imagine the joys that await me when she's a full star sign. If I ever get to see her again."
My chest twinges again, more painfully. After all of this, trying to avoid Ellie and sort out what I'm going to do with her, I don't want to be any further from her than I have to. I'd give anything to be with her right now - both my head and heart are pining like heartbroken lovers. Then again, that's what I am now, a heartbroken lover who misses his better half. Titan smiles slightly.
"You've already discovered one of these little perks of yours already. Here." he takes my arm from around his shoulder and presses it against my battered chest. I open my mouth to ask what the hell he's doing, but something makes me stop in my tracks. Beneath the bloodied skin and prominent ribcage, something is thumping gently in my chest.
Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
Goggle-eyed, I look up at Titan. He smiles and ruffles my hair.
"That's right Sable. I don't think you're quite as dark as you thought. You're now the proud owner of one beating heart."
A heart. I'm stunned beyond all reason. After all these centuries of living with nothing but a cold black centre, it feels strange to have this warm, living thing within me. I smile slightly to myself. After all this time, I finally have one. A heart of my own.