A/N: Okay, so I feel like I owe you all an explanation (and an apology). After graduation I got insanely wrapped up in my job and then I went to Brazil to visit my family there as a final hurrah before I started at Queen's University. And then I started University and frosh week came and I simply didn't have the time or the energy to write. I am not lying to you when I say that I actually went to sleep at 11 during frosh week and skipped every after party that there was last week. And there were a lot of after parties during frosh week. I also met a guy. And I was hanging out with him when I did have those spare moments of time. I'm sorry I let this get to the back of my mind. I promise I'll be better. I'm just so happy. More than I've been in a long time.

Falling in slow motion: You'll find that out in the next chapter. Just sit tight and be patient. It is a virtue. I enjoyed the Doctor Who reference :) I nearly woke up my roommate when I read it :)

Knight Mistress: I'm just going to assume that's sarcasm.

Erica: I'm working on it :S

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Deryn tumbled past the heavy wood doorway and kept running on the field in front of the Italian Parliament. Every so often she would push people out of her way or scream out for them to run farther, but her legs had not stopped moving. Her eyes constantly scanned the crowd for any sign of a mahogany head or a pair of emerald eyes. How had she lost him? They had been standing next to each other for Darwin's sake!

"ALEK!" She screamed into the crowd. "ALEK! WHERE ARE YOU?" There was no response from the gathering crowd.

"Dylan!" She heard a cry from behind her. Deryn whipped around much too quickly and tripped over her own feet. From the ground, she looked up, hoping to see Alek, but she only saw the girl with who he had danced with before. The hem of her long silver dress was brown from having been dragged in the grass and mud. "Dylan, wait!"

"Who are you? How do you know my name?" Deryn asked anxiously, getting up from the ground. The girl tore her mask off and revealed her tanned face. Her left eyebrow was raised to match the cocky smirk on her face. "Lilit?" She asked in shock. "What are you doing here?"

Lilit crossed her arms. "I'm an ambassador. This is what ambassadors do."

Deryn felt slightly stupid for a second, but then shook her head. "Have you seen Alek?"

"Me?" She asked in surprise. "I thought he was with you?"

"Ugh!" Deryn groaned in frustration. "He was! But then the dummkopf had to run back in!"

She started walking back towards the building, half hoping to see Alek and half hoping to lose Lilit, but she had no luck with the latter. The Turkish girl kept up with her trotting, regardless of the dangers of entering a possibly explosive building, but kept silent. Deryn realized then, that there were no officers to be found around the building. There were only civilians, and while that would be perfectly normal in any ordinary situation, she had been sure that Dr. Barlow had ordered guards to be posted around the perimeter.

A loud explosion interrupted Deryn's thoughts and the force of it threw her to the grass. The blinding light left black and white spots peppering her vision, and the heat scorched her skin. When the spots cleared from her eyes, Deryn saw that the parliament had burst into brightly colored flames. The fire licked the roof of the ancient building and black smoke escaped through the shattered windows in curling tendrils. And then the floor started shaking.

It began with just a hum, a throbbing in the dirt that caused the path of the earthworms below the grass to change their linear paths, but it built up until Deryn could see the walls of the building shake. White ash built up around it as the bricks from the roof began tumbling from their perches. Then with a loud rumble, the roof caved in on itself, the center of it crashing down through the Corinthian arches that had supported what was once the ballroom floor, and decimated the entrances to the once majestic building.

The breath that Deryn had been unwillingly holding in her chest burst out. Her diaphragm contracted and her lungs felt as if they had been crushed also by the caved roof. The weight in her chest stopped her breathing and she fought to grasp the oxygen in the ash-filled air. She barely heard Lilit's cries behind her, and barely noticed the fact that her eyes were burning with tears from the smoke. The tears could have been from the body-crushing pain that she felt in her chest, or from the sense of loss that had hit her like a searing thirst in a desert, but Deryn chose to blame the salt-water expelled from her eyes on the defenceless smoke until she could no longer bear to look at the destruction that lay just a few hundred meters from her feet.

Letting the unwelcome tears fall to the ground below her, Deryn hoisted herself up from the ground and faced Lilit. The turkish girl's dark eyes were rimmed with red and running from the ink she had applied to her eyes. She said nothing. Neither of them did. They both just stared into the grief within each other's eyes with an unspoken understanding. Lilit launched herself forward and let her face sink into Deryn's chest and the difference in their height was more plain than it had ever been before, but Deryn didn't bother to put her arms around the girl in any attempt for comfort. Her limbs were too heavy and stiff to move and lay uselessly at her sides. She just closed her eyes and felt her stomach trembling with irregular breathing and the occasional hiccup.

There were a few grunts behind her, but her attention was still vacant from the background noise. She felt a hand squeeze her shoulder in a gesture that she could only ever describe as loving. Deryn turned around, and in front of her, as bright and alive as they had always been, were a singular pair of green eyes.