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Gareth started and stared at me but Alistair let out a crow of delight. ‘You noticed?’ He crouched beside me, an eager expression on his face that revealed his youth. ‘What did you see? What happened? Was it really trippy?’

His tone brooked no argument. I shrugged; it was no skin off my nose. I re-sketched the rune, this time aiming for the final locked drawer on the other side of the desk. It burst open, banging into Winter’s leg. He didn’t move, however; he just watched my hands. ‘That’s not a known rune.’‘You know all the runes?’

‘I have an almost eidetic memory, Ivy. I’ve trained myself to remember. That is not a rune I’ve ever seen before.’This line of questioning was becoming uncomfortable. ‘So? I developed it on my own.’He took a step towards me. ‘‘Do you have any idea how unusual that is?’

I sighed. ‘Only because the Order sticks to tradition and traditional runes.’‘No. They stick to traditional runes because it’s incredibly difficult to create new ones. There’s an entire research and development department dedicated to the art and even they only manage a new rune once every few months.’ Something indefinable glinted in his eyes. ‘I think I’m beginning to understand you properly now.’

I didn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about. ‘I’m not a thief,’ I began. ‘I don’t go around breaking and entering. It’s just a rune I developed to help me in case I lose my house keys.’

He held up his hands. ‘Don’t get all defensive.’She was suspended . . . transformed.

She still could not speak, but at least now she was breathing. It took a moment for her eyes to focus, but when they did, she saw Andrew gazing down at her, smiling like a cat in cream.He looked very proud of himself.

I saw stars, she said.This made him chuckle.