It takes hours, but at last the questions subside, and the tests begin. They measure her, and she does her best to hold still as instructed, even though she’s every bit as terrified as he is. Her tiny pinfeathers tremble against their instruments, the careful points of their callipers.
They weigh them together and apart, watch her fly, study her feathers under the occhioscope. They take photograms from all angles, he squinting without glasses into the harsh glare, she pressed in uncharacteristic silence against his pulse, his racing heart.
And all the while the woman watches, eyes alive and smile glittering, behind the glass. Her dress is immaculate, and the scarf at her neck is as vivid as an open wound. She watches, and the yellow eyes of her daemon are fixed on Imri as if the little bird is a rare treasure, something immeasurably precious- just as she’d said, when the two of them had first caught her eye.
Oh, she’s precious, she’d said- and then, just as pleasantly, just as brightly; Come with me.