This scene takes place during ROTG, during Falling. There are exact quotes from the book, so don't sue me. The characters and main plot for ROTG is Mrs. Pierce's, but the twist is all mine. I will skip some of the lines.

Numair's opponent was the last to die. When the immortal sank to the ground, head crushed, the webs on Daine turned to liquid and flowed away. She was free.


He stood motionless, his back to her, leaning on his staff. He appeared to be staring at the dead spidren.

Frightened, the girl dragged herself to her knees, then to her feet. Upright, she swayed. "Please, are you alright?"

He turned. "You- you're alive. I thought. . ."

She staggered over to him. "I hurt to much to be dead."

Dropping the staff, Numair swept her up in his arms; hers went around his neck. He stoked her back, Daine buried her fingers in his hair. Pulling away, she tried to get a proper look at him. Theirs eyes met for a breathless moment as heat surged through her body. Then his mouth was on hers, his breath warmly mingling with her own.


Numair had brought them to a hollow under a rock shelf in the canyon wall. The mage dozed against the wall. Creating a head, Jelly squeaked, "Food done."

Nuamir woke up. "Very good." Glancing at Daine, he blushed and looked away.

Daine stared at him. She hadn't expected that of all things. "How in the name of Shakith did you find me?"

"It was merely a simple magic, Daine-"

"Mouse manure. D'you think I've lived all this time with mages without knowing what it takes to find somebody and go to them?"

"I had a focus," he mumbled.

"A focus? Something of mine to connect us?"

"Yes- and I'm glad I had it."

"Yes- but may I see it?"

The locket fell into her palm. "I thought you might laugh if I asked you to sit for a portrait. The painting was done by Volney Rain. The hair I got when you were delirious with unicorn fever six monthes ago.

"What happened to you? What about those rock things?" She was trying to change the subject.

"The carried me off. I used my gift to shield myself, but it took them some time to find out I was the source of their pain. Once they did, I fled. When I returned to the Chaos vent and realized that you had gone over the cliff-" He swallowed hard.

You can thank a number of trees and a deep part of the river that I'm reasonably alive."

She sat next to him, inching over until he was forced to raise his arm. "You're trembling," she murmured.

"I'm only tired. I used my entire Gift to reach you."

"You shouldn't have. You need it to defend yourself- and we still have to reach the Sea of Sands."

"If I'd lost you and kept my power, I would hate myself. Eventually magic returns, even after a draining. I had no way to know if you would. "

"It would take more than falling off a cliff to keep me from you."

He kissed her again. "I'd hoped you felt that way."

What way? Daine wondered.

"I should look at your cuts."

Gingerly- even her bones ached- she lifted the hem of her shirt.



"You- We're aren't- You should be clothed! I feel like I'm taking advantage of your innocence. It's easy for an experienced man to delude a young woman into thinking herself in love with him. it's the basest kind of trickery, even when the man does not intend it."

"Do you love me or not?"

"That is not the topic under discussion."

"What are we talking of, then? Canoodling?" The girl asked.

"Daine! Is that what you think I want?" He demanded, outraged. "Sex?" Despite his dismay and fury, the hand that ointment on her was gentle.

"It isn't?" What else could you want?

Swinging to face him, she searched his eyes; when they met hers, she knew she'd hurt him. But how? She thought, baffled. Perin only wanted to bed her, as few Snowsdale men had bedded her mother. Then, she knew. Grabbing the hand with the bracelet, she held the locket. A lover's token, she'd thought before. She had been right. "You're in love with me?"

(Okay, here's the twist) Daine tried to deny the possibility. But when Numair looked away, she knew. She closed her eyes.

She couldn't do this. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I can't return those feelings."

He turned to stare at her, his face a mix of horror and sorrow.

"I love you, but not like that! You're like family. This- this isn't right. I'm sorry. I can't do this. If it wasn't love, I might have been okay with it. But I don't love you. I can't do this."

Her friends eyes darkened with a pain that would never leave them. "I knew that you couldn't feel the same way," he said softly. "But I hoped-" Daine shook her head. He sighed. "I'm sorry. I did try not to do this. But I almost lost you and-" he stopped. "I lost it."

Daine stared. "How long?" she pulled out of his arms and backed away. "How long have you been hiding this?"

He looked away. "Since Mid-Winter."

She blanched. "Oh Gods. No. No! You can't feel this way!" She exploded. "We were friends!" Tears streaked down her face. "Why couldn't you leave it like that?" She took her head in her hands, trying to calm down. She took a deep breath, then asked, "Can you forget about it? Stop it? Use a spell to make the feeling go away? We could still just be friends if you can-"

He shook his head. "I'm sorry Magelet. I can't help the way I feel. I tried. No matter what, now we'll both how I feel." He shook his head.

"Then we can't even be friends." The mage stared at her, eyes wide. "I can't. I can't I can't I can't!"

Numair closed his eyes. He'd ruined their friendship, and lost his love. She would never love him. He'd lost his Magelet.