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"Why have you been hiding in Dardun all this time? If father knew, he..." her voice trailed away.

"Where was I supposed to go? There's nowhere left for me."

Amina frowned, "No, I suppose there isn't." Her eyes drifted back to my razor, "You still never answered my question."

Well, there was no more holding off on the answer. I took a deep breath, and said, "We have to cut your hair."

"What?" she said. "No!"

"You will not pass as a boy with that hair."

"There are boys with long hair!"

"None so pretty as you, my dear."

She narrowed her eyes at me, "Don't."

"People will remember a scarred girl. People will be suspicious. We can't run that risk."

Amina's face was filled with stormclouds. She ran her fingers through her long, dark hair, fretting. "I can't."

"We don't have any choice."

"But you--I can't let you. I can't let you touch my hair. Amaya forbids any man who is not my husband to touch my hair."

"I would hazard a guess that Amaya probably forbids a woman to stab her husband in the back in the temple, as well."

"You were going to die!"

"We're both going to die, if we aren't sensible about this."

"Then I'll cut my own hair."

"You don't have any sort of mirror."

"I can make do."


Amina closed her eyes, and breathed a long sigh. Finally, she opened them again, and said, "Do whatever you have to do."

"Thank you," I said, sincerely. "I need you to turn around, and move a little closer." Slowly, she acquiesced. I lifted my comb, and began by carefully combing her hair. Amina's hair was dark, silken, and quite thick. It was the hair of a robust, healthy girl. What I was about to do was a crime, and though I felt it quite necessary, I could not help but feel a pang of regret. It was painful enough that Arsand robbed her of her beauty, but now I was pillaging whatever was left.

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