I’ll start in the air,” I said, far more steadily than I thought I could, considering. I knelt to tie the shirt around his thigh, cinching it tight above the wound; he stiffened but let me finish the knot. “The air first, the airship, and then-then I’ll dive.”
“You can’t swim,” broke in Armand. “You told me that you can’t.”
“Maybe I can now. If I’m a dragon.”
“Don’t be an idiot! If you can’t swim, you can’t swim, Eleanore! You’ll drown out there, and what the bloody hell do you think you’re going to do anyway to a U-boat? Bite it open?”
I stood again. “Yes! If I must! I don’t hear you coming up with a better-“
“You’ll die out there!”
“Or we’ll all die here!”
“We’re going to find another way!”
“You two work on that. I’m off.” I fixed them both with one last, vehement look, the Turn rising inside me.
Remember this. Remember them, this moment, this heartbreak, these two boys. Remember that they loved you.
Armand had reached for my shoulders. “I forbid-Eleanore, please, no-“
“No,” echoed Jesse, speaking at last. “You’re not going after the submarine, Lora. You won’t need to.”
Armand and I paused together, glancing down at him. I stood practically on tiptoe, so ready to become my other self.
Jesse climbed clumsily to his feet. When he swayed, we both lunged to catch him.
“Armand will take me to the shore. I’ll handle the U-boat.”
“How?” demanded Armand at once.
But I understood. I could read him so well now, Jesse-of-the-stars. I understood what he meant to do, and what it would cost him.
I felt myself shaking my head. Above us, the airship propellers thumped louder and louder.
“Yes,” said Jesse, smiling his lovely smile at me. “I already sense your agreement. Death and the Elemental were stronger joined than apart, remember? This is our joining. Don’t waste any more time quarreling with me about it. That’s not your way.” He leaned down to me, a hand tangled in my hair. His mouth pressed to mine, and for the first time ever I didn’t feel bliss at his touch.
I felt misery.
“Go on, Lora-of-the-moon,” he murmured against my lips. “You’re going to save us. I know you will.”
I glared past him to the harsh, baffled face of Armand. “Will you help him? Do you swear it?”
“I-yes, I will. I do.”
I disentangled Jesse’s hand, kissed it, stepped back, and let the Turn consume me, smoke rising and rising, leaving the castle and all I loved behind me for the wild open sky.