Amari combs Zélie’s tangled hair. They talk about their respective mothers, memories of having their hair brushed as young children. Amari says that Zélie can tell her anything.
Though they were once enemies because they came from different backgrounds, Zélie and Amari have formed a new kind of family with one another that transcends those divisions. Zélie draws strength from memories of her family and her past, while Amari draws strength from knowing she has moved away from the unjust practices of her parents and forged her own path.
Zélie admits that she used to think Amari was weak, because she was so obviously afraid of her father, King Saran. But now, Zélie says, beginning to cry, she, too, feels like Saran is an inescapable force in her head.
Zélie previously interpreted Amari’s loyalty to her father and her desire to not commit violence as weaknesses. But now, Zélie empathizes with Amari’s fear. She sees why it was difficult to break away from Saran’s manipulation and how he shaped Amari’s attitudes about both family and violence.
Zélie’s tears make Amari choke up, too, just thinking about all the pain her family has caused. She apologizes that it took both her and Inan so long to realize just how wrong Saran was, and to begin to right his wrongs. She thinks of Binta, and, in her head, apologizes to her for not being able to do more.
Amari reflects again on her decision to break away from her family and fight the injustices they have perpetrated—a decision that is continually reinforced as she observes firsthand the suffering that Saran has caused. She does not feel loyal to her father but instead to her own sense of what is right, and only wishes that she could have come to that conclusion sooner, before so many were hurt or killed.
Amari says she has seen a change in herself. Where before she cowered at the thought of King Saran and the damage he could inflict on her, when she saw him in the fortress at Gombe, she was ready to strike with her blade. Amari says that Zélie’s harsh criticisms when they first met are part of what made her brave—it was the first time she thought she could be anything other than a scared and obedient princess. Zélie, too, will find a way to break free, Amari tells her.
This evolution has allowed Amari to place her concerns about injustice above her own fear and obedience to her father. That change has also shifted how she thinks about violence: although she abhors it, she also sees that it is justified in extreme cases. Amari now believes that violence may be the only way to stop Saran’s cruel regime.
Looking down, Zélie admits something else: she can no longer do magic. She worries that no one will be able to do the ritual now. Her words make Amari’s stomach sink. Amari feels a wave of fear, and briefly thinks they should turn back, but then she thinks of all that has happened since she left home: she has overpowered fear and her father, and everyone has beaten the odds to be here. She tells Zélie that the gods don’t make mistakes. No matter what, they have to try to do the ceremony.
Amari knows that Zélie’s belief in the gods gives her a sense of purpose, self-worth, and confidence, as well as connecting her to all of the other divîners who are relying on her. She invokes those things by telling Zélie that the gods are on their side.