After a few nights of secret candle-lighting and paper-torching (and fire-tamping, in at least one overenthusiastic instance), Shiara felt confident enough to show Kazul what she'd been doing. The dragon observed calmly, then asked her to try a few more tests. The elation Shiara felt when she accomplished each of them with almost instinctive control was like nothing she had ever experienced, so accustomed was she to disappointing herself and others. Kazul seemed to guess this fact, unsurprisingly, and the king bared her teeth in what Shiara now recognized as a grin to match her own.
"Well now. It seems that your initial objections to being my princess were correct after all. You aren't a princess, you're a firewitch," the dragon acknowledged, and for the first time, Shiara didn't feel the need to correct the application of the term. It was liberating.
"As such, it is only proper that you begin to behave accordingly. You are hereby released from princess duties, and I expect you shall need to find an appropriate cottage in which to establish yourself," Kazul continued. Shiara blinked. She hadn't been expecting quite that much liberation.
Kazul must have noticed, because she mentioned, "I'm sure Cimorene will have an opinion on the matter."
"Oh! Cimorene and Daystar!" Shiara exclaimed, reminded that they knew nothing of this new development. She jumped up and started to leave the chamber. Just before the door, she paused, looking over her shoulder at the dragon.
"Thank you," she said, quietly but clearly.
Kazul smiled as Shiara bolted down the hall. As she had suspected, the girl had learned more than just magic.
Shiara had been expecting the look of pleasure and even a little pride from Cimorene, but Daystar's complicated, somewhat crestfallen expression took her by surprise. She filed it away for later, turning back to Cimorene.
"Kazul said I'd be needing a cottage, now that I'm officially a firewitch and not a princess."
"Well, she's right, at least for the time being," Cimorene glanced at her son, "You should talk to Morwen about that. She'll be more help than I will. I'll ask her to come see you at Kazul's when she has time."
Shiara nodded, distracted. Daystar still had that strange look on his face and it was really starting to bother her.
Morwen arrived the next day. They sat in Kazul's library to talk.
"So, Cimorene says you want a cottage." Morwen was nothing if not straightforward.
"Well, yes. I mean, I think I do." Shiara's face reflected her mixed feelings.
"You think?" Morwen prodded.
"It's just - Daystar has been making this ridiculous face ever since I showed him my magic. I suspect it has something to do with all that talk of...well, marriage, I think, right after we defeated the wizards."
"I suspect you are correct." Morwen didn't continue, so Shiara felt compelled to do it for her.
"I don't think I want to marry Daystar, at least not right now. Having my own cottage and...being my own person sound so much more appealing. Just me and Nightwitch for a while."
"Well, good. At least you know what you want. And Daystar is just going to have to learn to understand that, which might be hard, but it'll be much easier than living with you when you don't want to be lived with, I'd imagine." Morwen smiled, finally, more wry than anything else.
Shiara's expression cleared and she very nearly smiled back. Nightwitch, previously curled up on a cushion, hopped into her lap and purred.