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'Til Witnessed Here in Time and Blood

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Later, Bea asked, "Do you think we can ever get back to the way we used to be?"

The Goddess Ice–how many hundreds of years before today had it been since anyone had called her Tora?–shook her head. "How could we?"

Bea's green hair fell about her shoulders, but Ice could see the flames starting to lick up it. It lit the chamber, drowning even Camelot Nine's enchanted candles. Bea too was more elemental, less human than she had been.

Ice turned away, looking down from their high window at the courtyard below, where unfamiliar, best beloved companions continued to bicker. They'd been at it since the battle, and seemed unlikely to stop any time soon. Different voices, but such a familiar sound. "Ten centuries," Ice mused. "Before that, we knew each other for a handful of years. Six? A dozen at most." The happiest years of my life, she'd called them not that long ago. "What can that mean after all this time?"

"Ha!"

Ice spun back, her hair whipping over her shoulder and her cloak rising around her. "Don't..." she started, but Bea's laugh hadn't been a cynical one. Instead, her face glowed with enough exasperated fondness to melt Tora's entire kingdom.

"What happened to, 'My dearest friend, I love you with all my heart'?" Bea asked, hands on canted hips in a pose Tora knew in her soul. The flames now lifted her hair to halo her head. "Was that just to keep me from slicing your damn head off?"

And then, for the first time in a thousand years, Tora laughed. "That's my Beatriz." That was the Beatriz who'd utterly unmetaphorically gone to hell to save her, and who had blazed to the command of the demon army while she was there. That was the Beatriz who Tora had proof positive would never give up on them.

"Damn right," Bea snapped, but her voice fell and she asked, almost plaintively, "What the hell good is the Green Flame without the Icemaiden?"

Tora stepped closer, and the ice in the air caught and reflected Bea's light. "Or Ice without Fire?" Though there was no sense wondering; they'd both seen the answer already. More than seen it, they'd lived an eternity of it.

"Beatriz without Tora?" Bea reached out to caress Tora's neck, the backs of her fingers tracing from shoulder to jaw in a way that Tora had always wished they would, but never had before today.

Tora shivered. "We can't go back."

"No?" Bea's hand tightened on the back of her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. "I guess we'll have to go somewhere else then."