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“But can’t I stay here with you as my Da?” Gregor asked.

“No, Kasp- Sire, no.” Kaspar was what Gregor’s pretend Da had been calling him. He wished he’d keep calling him that. He didn’t want to go back to being Gregor, being Emperor. ‘Kaspar’ had a Da, and goats, and rode a horse with his Da, and got to do things, and didn’t have to keep still and be quiet all the time.

“Why not? I don’t want to go back,” he said.

His pretend Da sighed. “I have a wife and child I need to get back to.”

“Oh.” Gregor understood. If you had a real son, you didn’t need a pretend one.