Jade flops down on the other side of me, hauling her ankle up onto my lap. I rotate it for range of movement.

“That one translates as ‘Slayer,’?” Artemis says, peering over my shoulder. She crosses out where I had mistranslated a word as “killer.” Same difference.

Jade yelps. “Ouch!”

“Sorry. Nothing is broken, but it’s swelling already. I think it’s a mild sprain.” I glance at Artemis and she looks away, guessing my thoughts as she so often can. She knows I’m going to tell her there is no reason to train this hard. To hurt each other. Instead of rehashing our usual debate, I point to my translation. “What about this word?”

“Protector,” Artemis says.

“That’s cheating,” Imogen trills from where she’s reshelving.

“It doesn’t count as cheating. We’re practically the same person!” No one calls me on the lie. Artemis shouldn’t have to do my homework on top of everything else, but she helps without being asked. It’s how we work.

“Any word from Mom?” I ask as casually as I can manage, probing around the topic even more gently than I’m probing Jade’s ankle.

“Nothing new since Tuesday. She should finish up South America in the next few days, though.” Artemis planned our mother’s whole scouting mission. I haven’t heard so much as a word from her since she left seven weeks ago, but Artemis merits regular updates.

“Can you focus?” Jade snaps. She was on assignment in Scotland keeping tabs on Buffy and her Slayer army antics. It didn’t do us much good. Buffy still managed to trigger an almost-apocalypse. Now that Jade’s back at the castle without any magic, she’s not happy about it, and she lets us know.


“Rhys,” I say, mindful that Artemis would do it in a heartbeat, but her to-do list is already super full and I don’t want to add to it, “can you go to my clinic and get my sprain pack?”

Rhys stands. He shouldn’t have to run my errands. He ranks far above me in pecking order, but he puts friendship before hierarchy. He’s my favorite in the castle besides Artemis. Not that there’s a tremendous amount of competition. Rhys, Jade, and Artemis are the only other teens. Imogen is in her early twenties. The three Littles are still preschoolers. And the Council—all four of them—aren’t exactly BFF material. “Where is it?” he asks.

“It’s right next to the stitches pack, behind the concussions pack.”

“I’ll be right back.”

He saunters away. The medical clinic is actually a large supply closet in the opposite wing that I’ve claimed as my own. The training room is amazing, naturally. We prioritize hitting, not healing. While we’re waiting for Rhys, I elevate Jade’s ankle by propping it on top of books that used to contain the blackest spells imaginable but now are used as paperweights.

George Smythe, the youngest of the Littles, bursts into the library. He buries his face in Imogen’s skirt and tugs on her long sleeves. “Imo. Come play.”

Imogen puts him on her hip. During teaching hours, Ruth Zabuto is in charge of the Littles, but she is as old as sin and far less pleasant. I don’t blame George for preferring Imogen.

“Are you done?” she asks me.

I hold up my paper triumphantly. “Got it!”

Child of Slayer

Child of Watcher

The two become one

The one becomes two

Girls of fire

Protector and Hunter

One to mend the world

And one to tear it asunder

“There’s a postscript, like Arcturius can’t help but comment on his own creepy-ass prophecy. ‘When all else ends, when hope perishes alongside wonder, her darkness shall rise and all shall be eaten.’?”

Imogen snorts. “Devoured. Not eaten.”

“In my defense, I’m hungry. Did I get the rest?”

She nods. “With help.”

“Well, even with Artemis’s help, it doesn’t make sense. And it doesn’t have any calamari recipes.” I tuck my papers back into the book.

Rhys returns with the supplies just as the other two Littles break into the library and swarm Imogen. She’s the busiest person in the castle, other than Artemis, who has already left to prepare lunch for everyone. Sometimes I wish my sister belonged as much to me as she does to everyone else.

Rhys strides toward me with the sprain pack. Little George runs at his legs, and Rhys trips just before he gets to me. The pack flies out of his hands. Without thinking I lunge and save the kit in midair with one hand, the whole motion feeling surprisingly effortless for my usually uncoordinated self.

“Good catch,” Rhys says. I’d be offended by his surprise if I weren’t experiencing another ripple of anxiety. It was a good catch. Way too good for me.

“Yeah, lucky,” I say, letting out an awkward laugh. I break the ice pack and wrap it into place around Jade’s ankle. “Twenty minutes on, an hour off. I’ll rewrap you when the ice comes off. That will help with the swelling. And rest it as much as possible.”

“Not a problem.” Jade leans back with her eyes closed. She’s substituted all the time she used to spend on magic with sleeping.

I know it’s been rough on her—it’s been rough on everyone, having the entire world change yet again. But we do what Watchers do: We keep going.

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