[/center]“Maybe they did it on purpose?”
Cassandra suggested. “I also can’t help but see the color of your magic in the stone. It’s kind of funny if you’re a water mage. My element is fire.”
She eyed the crystal, her hand hovering hesitantly. The whole “Awakening” thing had never had good associations for her, but it’s not like the crystal was harmful itself, right? Her eye flicked up to Lilie, and she seemed to firm up in the face of an audience. She dropped her hand onto it. More forcefully than necessary, as if to prove it didn’t bother her.
The crystal began to glow, a deep dark red, with a heart of bright orange.
Watching Cassandra as she would place her hand on the crystal, Lilie’s eyes lit up, fascinated. ”Fire?”
She repeated the word, although she found herself grinning at her previous comment. ”Actually, I am a water mage! Funny coincidence, water and fire. I can put you out if needed and you can…”
She trailed off, trying to think of another reason they would be paired together. ”...well, I’m sure there’s some reason.”“Thought so, from the color…”
she trailed off, focusing on the crystal, tongue poking out of the side of her mouth. If she put in too much, she’d blow out like Lilie did, but if she was too hesitant she’d give a pathetic glow and go out anyway. May as well fail spectacularly.
She pushed it out, the magic. The fire, as she had always thought of it, though now she would learn to do more than just burn. But not this moment, apparently. The orange heart of the crystal expanded outward, but unevenly, with spikes reaching through the red. One of the spikes reached to Cassandra’s hand, and a small flare of fire burst from the back of her hand. Then, she too lost the glow.
She looked at the back of her hand, where there was a small, irregular black circle. “You didn’t put me out,”
she grinned at Lilie, trying to cover up her embarrassment, make it a joke.
Lilie was completely silent as she watched Cassandra, completely entranced. She couldn’t imagine actually being able to control fire of all things, though as the small burst manifested she gasped. Maybe she should be grateful she had water, it seemed a little more predictable than other elements. Even if fire was cool to watch. Unpredictable, but it had its own little pulse of life and vigor.
She smiled at Cassandra’s joke, shaking her head. ”I don’t even know if I could, honestly,”
She admitted. ”Control is one thing I’m sorely lacking at the moment.”
Taking her turn, Lilie decided to try to learn from her mistake, furrowing her brow in concentration as she rested her hand on the crystal. The soft, blue glow lit up once again, although this time it remained steady. Right, if she put in too much, it would burst and she’d get that weird feeling. Focusing, she pushed just a touch, watching the crystal brighten slightly, though it wasn’t enough this time, the light fizzled pathetically.
Sighing in defeat, she gestured towards it. ”This is the first time I’ve actually tried to control it, and...I suck,”
She took it in stride, shrugging. ”How about you? You managed to make a fire already, you’re probably leagues ahead of me.”
Cassandra opened her mouth to agree, then closed it again. Her usual bluster felt uncomfortable in the face of Lilie’s easy humility. Instead, she shrugged, and came up with an excuse for it. “I had an early awakening, and been stuck with tutors ever since. I don’t have any practical experience. I’ve only been able to actually use my magic for a few weeks now.
“I had a thought, though,”
she placed her hand on the side of the crystal, and then her other on the opposite. “She said it was a circuit, sort of, didn’t she? Maybe it would be easier if it goes in one side, and out the other.”
With her left hand, she pushed at the magic. She didn’t do anything in particular on her right, just letting it flow back into her. The orange heart in the crystal made a kind of bridge between her two hands. It glowed brighter and brighter, and then stayed steady.“Okay,”
she said, biting at her lip, “Wait, I might have it.”
Her hands were gripping the crystal hard now, and she was starting to sweat. She stared at the light, which stayed the same bright orange, until finally she gave an exhausted sigh and pulled away, the light dying all at once. “Maybe that’s not right. I can't get it to slow down like that.”
She was breathing heavily, trying to quell the dizzy light headedness.
Focused on Cassandra’s progress, Lilie tilted her head as she watched, curious to see her method. So she had an early Awakening, too? She seemed a little more nonchalant about it, but she was right about Cassandra having an edge. All Lilie had gotten out of the ordeal was being put under house arrest.
Deciding to take a turn again, Lilie decided not to focus so hard, hoping a more relaxed method would help. ”Tutors, huh? I haven’t really tried to use my affinity after my...incident,”
She put her hand on the crystal, her sigh matching the light dimming before she would push a little. ”Do you come from a family of mages? You don’t have to answer, I’m just curious since I’m the first in my family.”
She decided to inquire.
She shook her head. “No, I only know of one other in my family.”
She didn’t care to elaborate, the subject of her brother was a wound long since healed, but that didn’t make it any less personal. Instead, she changed the subject, slightly. Still talking about their past and magical discovery, just not about family. “So you had an incident, too, huh? I set my kitchen on fire, what’d you do?”
Keeping her eyes on the crystal, the light dimmed slightly before glowing, the girl managing to keep a steady rhythm as her heart beat against her chest. Flickering her gaze to Cassandra for a second, she returned her attention to the crystal. ”My Awakening...was unpleasant,”
Lilie admitted quietly, removing her hand and extinguishing the blue light completely. ”There aren’t a lot of mages or vampires where I’m from, but...”
As she trailed off, Lilie closed her eyes, letting out a sigh. So much for moving on. ”Sorry, I don’t really like to talk about it. The whole ordeal happened a while ago, but it feels pretty fresh to me,”
Lilie threw on a small smile. ”No one in my family had magic, so it came as a complete surprise. But now I’m here, and I’m going to master it.”
A rather bold declaration all things considered, but she was determined. ”Just have to keep at it, right?”
Cassandra shrugged off the apology. “Don’t worry, I get it. I feel the same way. I can’t escape it, so I’ll make sure I’m the one in control.”
She took her turn again. If Lilie had gotten it, she had better do it right this time. Humility be damned, she wasn’t going to be left struggling. Cassandra looked down at her hand touching the crystal. It was glowing passively, the way it did when a newly awakened mage touched it. And she looked at the palm of her other hand. That wasn’t right. Her body was irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was the fire. She closed her eyes, and pushed… then pulled. She thought she felt it; like breathing but… in reverse? Once she got some kind of rhythm going, she opened her eyes to see the effect.
She smiled watching the orange heart growing and shrinking in a sea of blood red. “Yes… Now what, though?”
Lilie clapped at the other girl’s demonstration, happy to watch. ”We keep practicing ‘til it comes naturally,”
She replied, grinning. ”But before that…”
She pulled out her cellphone, offering it to Cassandra. ”Since we’re neighbors and classmates, it’s a good idea to keep in touch,”
She suggested hopefully.
Cassandra blinked at the phone at first, then it clicked what Lilie was doing. “Oh! Yeah, definitely!”
She dug into first one pocket, and then the other, not used to reaching for her phone. She handed it to Lilie, with a slight flush. It was a little brick phone that slid sideways to reveal a keyboard for texting. They traded phones, and with some fumbling in menus, Cassandra managed to input her name and number.
All too happy that her gesture wasn’t rejected, Lilie returned the favor, amused by Cassandra’s phone. It looked like the kind her dad liked to use, complaining that he couldn’t quite figure out smartphones. Not that she was one to talk with her own older model, but she enjoyed the little sense of nostalgia as she put in her own name and number.”Excellent!”
Lilie was probably a little too giddy, but she was all too happy to have someone else to talk to.