The walk back to our room is awkwardly silent. I’m a little too focused on not dropping the mug that I don’t really think of anything to say. Small talk just doesn’t feel right with more pressing things on our minds. When we finally do reach the bedroom, I place the mug on the dresser as I notice a glint on the floor. Andrei’s sword, full sized and unsheathed, lays on the hardwood halfway under the bed.
“Huh… So that’s where that ended up,” I muse, pulling it out with my foot.
“Oh… yea.” Andrei cringes, standing a ways behind me.
He doesn’t move to pick it up, so I do, keeping the tip pointed at the floor. “Do you see where the sheath is? We probably shouldn’t leave it out like this.”
“Umm…” he pats his pockets, looking around the room as he thinks. He stops in surprise, walking past me to the wall where the sheath rests in the shadows. “Here it is,” he picks it up, holding it out to me by the base so I can slip it in.
I hold the hilt out to him. “It’s a lot safer for one person to put a sword away, than two,” I remind him, watching his expression closely.
His bottom lip juts out ever so slightly as he sees the logic in my words. “Right,” he says, almost sounding disappointed. He lowers the sheath, taking the sword by the hilt and turning away, taking a few steps before he lines the tip up and slides it in, clasping it shut. The blade shrinks in his hand and he turns around holding it out to me.
I shake my head. “It’s your sword. I’m not going to take it from you.”
“You trust me with this? After yesterday?” he asks, bewilderment in his eyes.
I roll my eyes. “One accident doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten how to use it. If anything, you’ll be even more careful with it now.”
He grumbles under his breath, lowering his arm. He stares at the keychain blade for a moment before moving to the desk and pulling open the top drawer, dropping it in. “There. Out of sight, out of mind.”
I guess I can’t force him to carry it if he’s not willing. “I will, however, take the key,” I change the subject, holding out my palm.
“The k-” he starts, then touches his hand to his pocket. “Yea, I guess you’re right,” he says in a somewhat deflated tone. He roots around his pocket and pulls out the little brass key, dropping it into my palm.
I smile. “Thank you,” I reach up to my neck. With a thought, the necklace appears. I wonder if this will work… I unclasp the chain, threading it through the decorative handle end of the key so it hangs next to the red pendant. When I put it back on, I will it to return to where ever invisible place it goes normally. It disappears, key along with it. “Okay,” I nod to myself. I pick up my tea and sit on the edge of the bed.
“That’s mean. I told you I’d let you read them,” he grumbles.
“And I’m to take it on faith that you won’t try to remove parts while I sleep?” I muse bluntly. “I don’t think so.”
“You’ve just confirmed that my word means very little,” his chin dips as he looks at the floor. “It’s alright. I get it. I should have expected as much.”
“I’m sorry, Andrei,” I sigh. “You don’t really leave me with much choice. I trusted you before, you said you’d tell me if your memory was getting worse, and you kept that from me,” I look up at him. The words hurt, but so does his actions. “You have to earn that trust back.”
His frown deepens, standing rooted to the spot. “I’m not going to bother trying to come up with excuses. I deserve whatever you decide is necessary. I should just accept it.” He mopes, taking a seat at the desk chair.
I can’t resist a laugh. At least he’s honest. “What are you doing? Come over here.”
He looks up, melancholy. “Ok,” he says without protest. He comes to the bed and takes a seat next to me, hands in his lap as he hunches forward, looking down at his feet..
I lean against him, taking another gulp. The tea seems to be helping. “You don’t have to be so stiff. I’m not going to freak out.”
“I know,” he sighs. “I just… I guess I still feel bad about everything. I can’t make myself feel relax just yet. Maybe it will take -” he hiccups through his sentence, a strange pause before he adds, “time.”
I rest my palm on his leg, keeping my tea in the other. “I guess we’re lucky you are Time.”
He shifts his head, craning his neck to look at me. “Yeah…” he says half heartedly. “Speaking of time, I’ve been meaning to ask, why was Heath with you in Selene’s room if she wouldn’t let anyone else in, even Kaede?”
I feel an icy chill through my chest and I gulp. There’s an obvious reason. Nothing sinister. “He’s fireproof,” I shrug. “Selene expected a meltdown. She wasn’t entirely wrong.”
“A meltdown?” he says in a very doubtful tone. “Because of me? What did Heath do to prevent such a meltdown?” he asks.
“Not much, really. I set him on fire,” I reply simply. “He just talked to me until I remembered where I was.”
“You set him… on fire? How? His clothes didn’t look burnt?” he frowns, trying to understand.
“Just his shirt. Nik got him another one afterwards,” I shrug. “It wasn’t a big fire, just like…” I hold out my free hand, letting the fire spread out around my fingers and palm for a few seconds. “Still, it would’ve hurt anyone else…”
“I’m not sure whether to feel guilt or jealousy,” Andrei sulks.
“Jealous that I tried to burn someone else in my half-awake state?” I turn to look up at him, concerned.
“Jealous that there is someone else who can tame your fire,” he corrects.
“Oh…” I guess that makes sense. “Yeah, I can see why you would feel that. I wish I didn’t have this power, then it wouldn’t be a problem,” I chew my lip. Andrei being fireproof would be nice too, but I don’t see that happening.
“Don’t say that. You’re power is fine the way it is…” he sighs heavily, making my head move with the action. “I have no reason to doubt you. I’m the one that put you in that situation,” he admits. I don’t respond. I don’t know how.
I finish my tea, leaning forward to place it on the dresser without getting up. “Will you lay down with me?” I ask hopefully. “I don’t… I’d like you to.”
“I will,” he says, kicking off his shoes and waiting for me to move.
I shift back on the bed, but I hesitate, thinking. “Um… If I have a nightmare… Just wake me up, okay?”
“Alright,” he agrees compliantly. I study his face, narrowing my eyes. He’s not going to ask a dozen questions?
“Alright?” I repeat. “That’s it? No interrogation?”
“No. Why would I question you having nightmares?” he asks innocently.
I blink. “I don’t know, you just… I thought you’d ask a million questions. What it was about, is the Master back, whatever… It’s just, y’know, something you do.”
“It didn’t seem like you wanted that… Do you want me to ask? Are you saying you’re expecting to have a nightmare?” he asks, clueless.
“I-” I blush. Oops, I said too much. “I want you to be you. I want you to be Andrei.”
“I… I’m trying. I’ll try,” he sighs.
Maybe I should just be upfront. I don’t know what I might dream. The last thing I want to do is to react like I did last night…
“Yes,” I mumble. “I am expecting to.”
“Ok. I’ll be sure to wake you then. Try to get some rest,” he croaks, laying back against the pillows.
It’s painful to see him like this. To my surprise, I’m kind of sad that he didn’t ask. I don’t know if it’s because he’s afraid to upset me, or if he doesn’t care. I reluctantly pull the covers over me, not sure if I should bother trying to lay against him. Would he be stiff, or accepting? I half lay back, propped on my elbows, staring up at his downcast expression, trying to decipher what he’s thinking.
He turns his gaze to me, realisation passing over his face. “Sorry,” he shifts his position, lifting his arm so I can curl up against him.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to…” I whisper. It doesn’t feel okay, but I hate feeling like he’s only doing it for me.
“It’s ok,” he sighs. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles again. I chew my lip, but I decide to crawl over. I curl up against him, laying my head on his shoulder.
The baby dragon slides off the back of my neck and onto the bed, chirping her complaints for being disturbed. She hops up on my shoulder as I rest my arm across Andrei’s chest, curling up on my waist beside Andrei’s hand.
“I love you, Mr. Hero,” I yawn as my heavy lids close.
“I- I love you too, Kaitlyn,” he says in a shaky voice.
Sleep comes easily, but so does the dream. Just like the night before; I’m in the cave, strapped down. Logan comes, explaining his twisted reason, then the pain begins. I fight against it, tears streaming, ears ringing with my own screams.
My eyes open and the pain fades. I hear my name, hands gripped tightly on my arms. My body shakes back and forth. I blink as I search the room; it’s bright, unlike before. My eyes find him, Andrei, his expression panicked as he kneels above me, calling me.
I breathe heavily, my throat sore. I realise I’m awake, and I’d been dreaming again. He seems to relax as I look back at him and he stops shaking me, pulling his hands away slowly.
“Kat, are you ok?” he asks, pure concern in his eyes.
My eyes sting with fresh tears and I shake my head slowly. I’m definitely not okay. Why is that memory coming back to haunt me? Why now?
“I’m sorry! I couldn’t get in. I couldn’t stop the dream. I don’t know why. Kat, this seemed so much worse than the others. What happened?” he holds his hands in his laps, palms up.
I struggle to find my voice as I push myself to sit up. “I-it was a memory… of Logan,” I let the implication hang. “It happened last night too…”
“What?” I see a mask of conflicting emotions run across his face, a mix of hate, confusion, and concern. He growls to himself. “I couldn’t be there for you. I’m sorry. Even when I want to, I seem to fail you. I’m so… mad at myself. Why can’t I stop them!?” he says in a hoarse voice.
“I told you not to go into it,” I frown. “You don’t need to see that. Believe me, it has nothing to do with Mortecai. It’s just a bad memory. We don’t both need to experience it,” I insist, reaching to take his hands, but I stop myself.
They’re bright red. I feel my entire body go cold.
“I burned you… again,” I wheeze.
“Don’t worry about that. I told you I’d wake you,” he pulls them away, reaching behind his back.
“How can I not be worried?” I gawk at him.
“Because I’ve done worse and deserve worse, so just forget it,” he mutters.
“No!” I snap. “You don’t! Give me your hands, Andrei.”
He shakes his head. “Mm-mm,” he grunts stubbornly.
I grit my teeth. “So I’m just supposed to let you suffer because you feel guilty? What kind of person would I be? Let me heal it!” I reach for his arms, tugging on his sleeves. He resists, leaning away. The anger in my chest flares and I slowly pull away. “Fine, if that’s how you want to be…”
I slip off the bed, moving toward the desk. I pull open the top drawer and pull out the keychain. I glance back enough to see his eyes grow wide. I pop the clip and let the sheathe fall away as it grows. Once full sized, I press my palm against the blade, sliding it across the sharp edge. I wince as the skin splits, but I’ve set my mind to it. If he’s going to be immature, so will I.
“What the heck are you doing!” Kaitlyn! Stop that!” he shouts, crawling off the bed.
I switch to cut my other palm, ignoring him.
“Stop that,” he growls, grabbing onto the blade above my hand so that if I move it any more, we’ll both be cut.
“Why?” I demand. “Why do you have to suffer, but I don’t?”
“Because you’ve suffered enough already! I caused you that pain, so you shouldn’t suffer more.”
“I caused you the burns,” I scoff. “Your logic is flawed.”
“Yeah? Well then, if you cut yourself at least you can heal it. I can’t at the moment. I couldn’t even get in your dream which caused the burns in the first place!” he turns it back around.
“Good!” I glare up at him. “I told you not to!”
“No, you didn’t! You said to wake you up, not to not go in,” He snaps.
“You’re going to argue on a technicality?” I glower. “I know you’re not that dense.”
“Well, maybe I am. Put the blade down before we both bleed to death,” he frowns.
I feel stubbornness kick in. Instead of moving the sword, I slide my hand along the blade.
“Kat!!” he gasps. “What the heck is wrong with you? You want to be hurt that bad? Are you a friggin masochist?!”
“It’s only fair,” I huff, squeezing my palm around the sword. “This is how it feels to have burned you.”
“At this rate, we’re going to end up killing ourselves then for how it feels to cause each other pain! Do you want us to die?”
I don’t even flinch at the accusation. “It takes a lot more than this. I know, I’ve tried.”
“Yeah and I’ve already killed myself once with magic. I don’t want to go there again. C’mon, Kat, put the blade down!” he insists, hand shaking as he holds it.
“Will you let me heal your burns?” I ask bluntly.
“Yes! Fine! Just, put the blade away! Please!” he begs.
I slowly unclench my palm, peeling it away from the now bloodsoaked blade. I wave at his hand. “You have to let go too.”
He gives me a hard look before he peels his own hand away, wincing as he does. “Sheath it,” he demands.
I crouch to pick up the discarded sheath, my hands shaking as I line them up and slide it together. When I clip the latch, it shrinks again.
“Give it to me,” he holds out his burnt hand, waiting. I clench my jaw, reluctant. “Kat,” he says my name, raising an eyebrow as he waits.
“Hands first,” I nod to his open palm.
“You can’t heal holding that. Just give it here, Kat.”
“You don’t know what I can do,” I retort. “Watch me.”
He sighs, exasperatedly. “So much for being a fire tamer,” he mumbles, holding up his hands.
I hover my hand over both of his, blood dripping onto the floor through the space between us. I feel the warm residue of fire and I draw it back to me. The bright red on his skin rises like steam, absorbing back into my hand. The small cut from the sword closes over and he’s left with some rapidly dried blood.
“You’re not trying all that hard to tame this time,” I muse when I let my arm fall to my side.
“I…” he drops the attempt to form an excuse. “Yeah…” he says instead. He holds out his hand for the sword.
I drop the keychain in his hand this time. As his fingers clench around it, I turn on my heel and head to the bathroom.
“Kat, your hands,” he reminds me as I walk away.
“I know,” I reply. “I have bandages in here,” I flick on the light.
“Heal them,” he says sternly.
“I don’t think so,” I hum as I open the cupboard, leaving a trail of blood smears. I pull out the long bandages and move to the sink to rinse off the blood. The hot water stings horribly.
“Stop playing games and heal your damn hands,” he raises his voice as he follows me into the bathroom.
I focus on the sink. “It’s not a game. I don’t want to.”
“Yes, that’s what you’re doing! You’re being a child! Worse than my sisters. Heal your hands,” he yells.
I glare at him through the mirror as I grab the hand towel. “Yeah, well it seems to be a family trait. Maybe you’ll think twice next time,” his gaze smolders back at me through the mirror. I drop the towel on the floor and grab the bandages, starting to wrap them around the worse cut like a boxing hand-wrap.
He steps up to me, grabbing my hands, gently, taking the bandage. “Why don’t you just heal them?” he asks, the anger replaced with sadness.
My own voice shakes as I repeat. “I don’t want to.”
“Why not?” he presses.
I stare down at the red spot already forming. “The fire will have something else to do if I fall asleep again.”
“That’s stupid and reckless. You know it hurts me to see you like this. If that’s why you’re doing this. Please… stop, just heal it,” he begs as he tapes the bandage on and cuts the gauze.
I lean in and rest my forehead on his chest. I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. I was so angry, I just wanted him to understand. I think he does now and still, I just don’t want to heal it.
“Why isn’t your magic working?” I ask, deflecting the request.
“I… I don’t know. I remember, yesterday, springs popping and I can’t hear the tick. It’s just… not there. I don’t know why that is…” he sulks as he wraps my other hand.
“What happened when the tick stopped?” I look up curiously. “Maybe that’s a clue?”
“It stopped… when Selene showed you to me from the bed. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak. All the gears… they just all stopped,” he whispers.
I search his eyes. It was the guilt? “Okay… I think I should read the pages now then,” I muse, pulling away to leave the bathroom. Maybe once that’s resolved, it’ll come back. He grunts with frustration, following close behind.
When I reach the desk I crouch in front of it, bracing my right hand on the top of it as I grab the handle with my left. With a sharp tug, the lock snaps, metal bending sharply as it’s yanked out of the lock mechanism. The door creaks and the desk shutters.
“You have the key, Kat, what the hell,” he groans.
“I know,” I pick up the stack of papers. “I never planned to use it.”
“What?! Then… Why? Oh, whatever,” he sighs. I hear him walk away and the bed creaks.
“There’s no need for a drawer that locks if there’s nothing to hide,” I muse as I carry the papers to the bed and sit down. “I’ve never used the lock before. There’s no good reason to keep it intact,” I lean back against the headboard with my knees in the air, acting as a tilted table.
The journal pages begin where the entry of France leaves off in the book he still has. There’s a lot of details about his training, learning to use the rapier, and mention of a woman. A few pages in, the paper is different. The handwriting is neat and delicate; obviously a woman’s. A pit grows in my stomach, but I suspected there would be a woman. Why else would he be so afraid to tell me?
I know these entries happened when he was a teenager, over five years ago. It’d be ridiculous of me to think he’d never had feelings for someone else. I mean, I already knew of at least one. The thing that strikes me as odd is she is three years older than him, apparently. Which was kind of a big deal at the time. No doubt, as an alleged aristocrat, she would have been expected to marry an older man.
As I reach later letters, the woman mentions her desire to court Andrei, not to entertain other suitors. However, she struggles to convince her parents. On top of that, she claims to have magic. A magic that makes things mysteriously disappear around her. She seems to have found out about Andrei’s magic early on and he talks about it with her frequently, feeling he can trust her.
As I read further, she begins to get Andrei to steal things for her, one of which being a book of magic. He doesn’t hesitate to do so because as he claims, he loves her. They manage to acquire the book, only to be caught a week later on the road to her aunt’s estates outside of the city, where he’s locked in a prison for a month with no trial. At the end of the month, he is charged with theft and witchcraft. Around the same time, the woman reveals her magic to her parents who then disown her as a witch. In a fit of rage and pain, her magic lashes out, killing them and sucking them into a darkness that emanates from herself.
I pause as I read that part. The similarity is frightening. I force myself to continue as Andrei leans over to peer at where I am. He’s been fidgeting nonstop the entire time, clearly anxious. It’s a little distracting, but I manage to tune it out. The next page is his writing again, describing in great detail the dread of being dragged to the guillotine. I hold my breath as I’m engrossed in his description. I glance up at him as he rubs his neck over the scar there. I never asked about that one. I guess now I know where it came from.
At the peak moment, before he completely loses his head, the girl reveals her magic to him. She casts a darkness on the town square, swallowing all of the people around her and destroying the execution stage. Wounded and slightly delirious, she convinces him to induce a time jump and he brings the woman with him back to our time. Once he recovers, he describes the joy of her staying with his family, showing her around the modern world.
In her last letter entry, she writes about her fears of the dark magic, worried it will cause more harm. She decides to erase his memories and leave to seek some way to learn more about the magic. It’s clear she intended to return, erasing only the memories and all mention of her from him. She takes the pages of his journal and leaves a short goodbye note. The note is signed with a different name.
I had a feeling that would be the case. The magic was too similar. It explains a lot, especially why she is so determined to get him back. He was the whole reason she came to our time. I struggle between sympathy and hatred, because of all the pain she caused him. Even in the past, she used him. She lost everything, including her sense of self, to the magic. He’s the only thing she felt she had left, but she gave that up too. She gave up her right to be with him.
I lay the last page on the pile beside me, staring at my lap, trying to comprehend. What was he trying so desperately to hide? Am I supposed to be upset that he loved someone else? Am I supposed to be angry that he brought her back from the past? He didn’t know better, right?
“Is that it?” I ask, confused. Maybe there’s something I’m not getting.
He stares back at me, still rubbing his neck, dumbfounded. “Really? That’s what you ask me? After just reading that soap opera? Yes, that’s it. Just everything that’s wrong with everything to do with me!” he says with exasperated surprise.
I raise an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with falling in love at fifteen?”
“Nothing. But it’s her! Sam and Rose, they are the same person! I’m responsible for that! I ruined her life by courting her when I knew I shouldn’t! I broke every rule I ever made myself for time jumping. I told her about my magic, I fell in love and then I brought her back. I’m not supposed to do any of that. And despite all the horrible things she’s done since then, I can’t help but still… have feelings for her. It’s my fault and yet… I can’t blame her…” he trails off after spilling his guts.
“She manipulated you into doing a lot of that, but then again, I think breaking the rules is sort of mandatory for fifteen-year-olds,” I shrug. “Besides, what you’re feeling isn’t all that crazy. It’s hard to stop loving someone, even if they do horrible things.”
“Really? That seems somehow wrong to me… It’s just, I feel all jumbled up. Like all these feelings from back then just feel so new. Like it was yesterday, and you and I… we’re today. I don’t know why I feel like this. I shouldn’t, but I do.”
I find myself snickering with disbelief. “You just got the memories back yesterday. Of course, it all feels like yesterday.”
“You don’t seem all that upset by this. I expected you to like… I don’t know, freak out, or something,” he frowns, running his hand nervously through his hair.
I narrow my eyes with a sneer. “I’m not as fragile as you all seem to think. Why would I be upset? I knew she had to have come from somewhere. It was obvious the way she carried on that there was a history between you. Why would that come as a surprise now?”
“I- It didn’t seem so clear to me before. Maybe that was because she took my memories,” he sighs, cupping his head in his hands.
I reach over and place my hand over his. “I know. It’s different when you’re in the middle of a situation. I think it’ll get easier now.”
“It will?” he looks up, eyes a little red. He looks on the verge of tears… again.
I smile. “Yeah, it will. Now you know I’m not upset. You don’t have to be so worried.”
“You don’t know how relieved I am to hear that,” he gives me a small smile, cupping my hands in his. He bows his head, holding them close and I’m startled by the faint light that comes from them. It’s only a moment before he lets me slide my hands free. The sting and ache are gone.
I narrow my eyes. “Thought you said you couldn’t heal.”
“It seems you’ve fixed the clock,” he winks with a smile.
I pout playfully. “What if I wasn’t ready to fix my hands? You should’ve asked. Now I’ll have to start over…”
“No, no, no, no!” he jumps quickly, grabbing onto my hands and holding them by the wrists tightly. “No more intentionally harming ourselves today, or any other day, for that matter,” he says, hair hanging in front of his eyes.
I grin at him. He takes everything so seriously, it’s adorable. “But I had an appointment next week to carve letters into my arm. Whatever will I do now?” I ask dramatically.
“No!” his gaze snaps up, just before he closes the gap between our faces, planting his lips on mine, preventing me for giving any further protest. I guess I can let him win this time…
By Krystyna Yates