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“What have I ruined?” I’m rather irritated now. After all I’ve done for the that ungrateful little brat, he has the audacity to accuse me of ruining his life. I have never done a thing to harm him!

Aside from the curse, I suppose. But in the long run, that will make him happier.

“Heinrik, please calm down,” I say, trying to do the same.

“Calm down? How can I calm down? You destroy me, my life, and you have the gall to live under my roof?”

I pinch the bridge of my nose, taking deep breaths. “You insufferable boy. Now I remember why I cursed you. You have no consideration for others. Maybe I should let you send Ingrid away.”

Heinrik struggles against the invisible bonds. “Don’t even think of it witch!” he roars. “I won’t let you take her from me.”

“Are you even listening to yourself? You’re the one who wanted to send her away. I’m the only reason she’s still here! Do you think I want you to stay cursed together?”

He stills. “You don’t?”

“Of course not, I’m not heartless. I want this debacle over as much as you.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize.”

“No, you didn’t. You didn’t think about anyone other than yourself.”

He hangs his head. “Maybe you’re right,” he whispers. “I essentially kidnapped Ingrid. Lars and Karl have families they haven’t seen in months. I don’t know how to make things right.”

“Well, you could send everyone home.”

“I don’t want to do that. Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I can’t.”

“You can’t let them go? Or just Ingrid?”

“Just Ingrid,” he whispers.

“Why is that, do you think? Have you finally made a friend?”

“Ingrid means more to me than that.”

“Is she more like a younger sister, then? I can understand that. She is quite adorable, quite lovable. She won’t have any problem finding a good man to marry,” I say cheekily. I know I’m treading on dangerous ground, but if I can prod him into admitting his feelings now, the curse will break and we can finally be done with all of this.

“No! She can’t get married!”

“Why not? She wouldn’t be happy going home and she can’t depend on you forever. One day you will break your curse and return to your duties and life as a prince. What will become of her then?”

“I’ll marry her if I must. But I won’t let anyone else.” His face grows thoughtful. Now that he’s said it, the thought is stuck in his head. And he doesn’t seem to mind.

Heinrik has finally calmed down, so I release the magic holding him in place. He grabs me by the shoulders.

“You must break the curse,” he orders, shaking me.

“Now why would I do that?” I try to keep my voice even, but the boy is vexing me.

“Because I can’t marry Ingrid if I’m cursed! I have to be free so we can be together.”

“I didn’t realize you were so eager to wed. Didn’t you just say you would marry her if you must? You made it sound more like a duty than something you actually wanted to do.”

“No, I want to marry her.”

“Why?”

“Why do you care? Why does it matter? I want to, that’s all!”

“Why do you want to marry her, Heinrik?” I ask again, more gently.

“Because I love her!” he shouts. It takes a moment for his words to sink in. “I love her.” His eyes widen.

I smile as I feel my magic begin to work. Aurora was right. His admission of love broke the curse. A haze of light surrounds Heinrik, dissipating after a few moments. He inspects himself then looks at me.

“What happened?”

“The curse is broken,” I tell him happily.

“You broke it?”

“No, my prince, you did.”

“What do you mean? How?”

I sigh. “Do you never listen? By the great magic, you’re thick-headed. When I cursed you, I said it would be broken when you knew love. Admitting you love Ingrid broke the curse.”

Dimwit.

“It’s really over? I won’t become that…that monster again?”

“Correct. You are free to live your life as you wish.”

“Good. Now leave.”

His words are harsh, but I expect no less. I vanish, leaving a note in Ingrid’s room saying goodbye. I transport myself to Aurora’s current home. Though by the looks of it, it won’t be her home for much longer. She’s packing her things when I get there.

“Nova! What a pleasant surprise. What brings you here?” she asks with a knowing grin.

“The curse has been broken. Heinrik didn’t want me around, so I thought it best I make myself scarce. I wasn’t sure where to go, so I thought I’d see if you were still here.”

Aurora hands me a scroll.

“What’s this?”

“Your first assignment from the Council.”

“Does this mean…?”

“You passed your test, Nova. Congratulations. I’m so proud of you!”

I take the scroll, amazed. It’s finally happened. All my hard work has paid off.

I am a sorceress.

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