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       Moonbeam, p.16

           Adrienne Woods
 

  I guessed it was a high enough price to pay.

  But she had told me about the pond inside. Everyone wanted to see the pond. It was the price everyone went for. It could show the past, future, or present. Anything a person wanted to know. And only five people had ever done it.

  I always wondered what I wanted the pond to show me, but I had everything I wanted. It was useless for me to want to go in there. Regardless, it fascinated me.

  We finished my perfect thirteenth birthday cake up in my tree house: Blake, Lucian, Annie, Samantha, and me. Arianna was too much of a girly girl to want to climb the ladder, and she had a boyfriend now. The year away from Blake had done it.

  Blake had a bottle of booze with him. Amid appreciative whoops, he passed it on to all of us.

  I hated the smell and the taste. I took one sip and that was it.

  A cigarette passed between him and Lucian. I almost choked when I saw Lucian taking a drag. “Your father is going to kill you!”

  “My father won’t. His own fire lingers around him like a wildfire’s damage. So the only way he will know is if a little spoiled brat goes and tells him.”

  I narrowed my eyes at him. “I’m not a tattle-tale.”

  He laughed and puffed out the smoke from his lungs. It stank.

  “I swear if you burn down my treehouse again, Blake Samuel Leaf, I am not going to take the blame again.”

  “I know how to smoke, Elena,” he said in a nonchalant tone.

  We spent the entire night talking about how amazing Dragonia Academy was. Lucian and Blake would share a room now that he was going to go to Dragonia. The awesome thing was that royalty, although not treated like royals, got perks of having the room of their choice, and Blake hated sharing a room with three others, so Lucian said he could share a room with him.

  I was right about Blake feeling free at Dragonia. It was why he didn’t come home over the weekends. They could basically do whatever they wanted. It sure did sound like freedom. I couldn’t wait until Sammy and I could finally go. Just three more years.

  The ’rents called. Time for everyone to go.

  I hugged Blake. “See you soon.”

  “Yes, I will see you in the next few days.”

  “Promise.”

  “I promise. Now let go of me,” he sulked. I let him go and kicked his ass as he walked towards his mom, who was already waiting in her Swallow Annex form.

  Sammy was next. “Enjoyed your party.”

  I grinned. “Best party ever.”

  She laughed.

  Blake took off his shirt, but stopped. “Oh hey, I forgot.” He turned around with his bag still in his hand and took out a wrapped box.

  My mother’s one eyebrow rose but I pretended not to see it.

  “Enjoy opening the present, Elena.”

  I grunted. I knew it was going to be boxes in boxes, at the end revealing a pebble or something he’d made.

  Everyone laughed, except my mother. “Promise it’s not a Cammy,” Blake sang.

  My mother finally laughed. “I will kill you if it is.”

  We waved at them as they morphed into dragons and lifted off.

  My father whistled again. “He’s really getting big, Elena.”

  “So? His dragon form never scared me before.”

  We went inside. I kept ruminating on what Blake had mentioned before my party.

  “May I please speak to the two of you?”

  Both my parents stopped and smiled.

  “Sure, sweet pea. What is this about?”

  I led them into the kitchen. All the serious conversations we had were held in the kitchen around the island.

  “That serious?” my father joked. A smile broke out, but it wasn’t a laugh.

  “Sweetheart.” My mother sounded grave. “What is it?”

  They waited. I took a deep breath. It will be okay if it turns out they are not your biological parents, Elena. Just ask them.

  “You know you can tell us anything, right?” my father asked, sounding worried.

  “Is it Blake?” my mother asked.

  “No, and yes.” I sighed. “It was more of what he said tonight.”

  “What did he say, Elena?”

  “Are you my real parents?”

  Mom went from tranquil to hysterical in two seconds flat. “What?”

  “Calm down,” my father said to her. “Sweet pea, why on earth are you asking us this? Of course we are your parents.”

  Wordless, I toyed with the salt shaker. I was afraid to go on.

  “Blake brought this up?”” my mother demanded.

  “Mom!” She was suffocating me.

  “Just calm down.” My father seemed to be unaware of the fruitlessness of these words.

  “We spoke about the past and he told me he could only remember me as a one-year-old. There wasn’t anything before that, Mom. He said I used to live with Tanya and uncle Jako on the other side of the Wall. How is that even possible?” I was beginning to sound like my mother. Deranged.

  Mom took a huge breath. “I will…that little…”

  “It’s not Blake’s fault. Now tell me the truth. Did I live on the other side?”

  “Yes, you did,” my father said.

  “Albert!” my mother yelled.

  He shrugged. “She has the right to know.”

  “She isn’t ready for this.” Mom tossed her long, dark hair over her shoulder.

  “Ready for what? What are you hiding from me?”

  “It’s not like that. Both of you just calm down. Elena just wants to know how it happened,” my father said to my mother and looked back at me. “Right?”

  I nodded, my jaw muscles pumping and my arms crossed.

  “Then we tell her.”

  My mother shook her head. Her fury was scaring me.

  “Before you were born, Irene had a vision of the future. Someone close to us was going to betray us.”

  “Who?” I asked.

  “That is for another time, Elena.” He used his stern, fatherly tone. “Then your mother got pregnant with you. We had no choice but to keep it a secret. We had no idea who was going to betray us. Only Tanya knew the truth about your mother and me. Before your mother’s belly starting showing, she and Tanya went on a self-enhancing quest.”

  “Self-enhancing what?” I yelled. My mother could see perfectly and hear perfectly. She didn’t need to enhance anything.

  “Her hearing.”

  I narrowed my eyes.

  “It was just a cover-up, but the Ancients granted her wish. She and Tanya left and stayed away until you were born. We couldn’t get you out of Paegeia. That wasn’t the plan. The plan was that we would hire someone to look after you. Just until danger was over.” He blew out a deep breath.

  I looked at my mother for confirmation. The rage in her face had been replaced with tears.

  “But then you showed signs that you weren’t going to make it,” my father carried on.

  “I was dying?” I shrieked. My father nodded. His own eyes shone. “Tanya told us then what Irene had said about her egg when it hatched.”

  It.

  “She,” my mother said in a stern tone.

  “Sorry, she.” He looked at her. “She said that one wouldn’t make it but two might. We never knew what that meant.” He shook his head. “Until you got sick.”

  My volume dropped. “I don’t understand.”

  “She gave you the Calypso potion, sweetheart, and you went...”

  “What?” I was yelling again. I knew about the Calypso potion. Frank, my tutor, had told me about that. It was forbidden because of what it could do. Still, none of this was making any sense. I needed another human body for the Calypso potion, and it would’ve disintegrated me, too. “Who?”

  “Tanya’s daughter. Her name was Cara. She was a Thunderlight,” my mother said. Her voice cracked.

  I gasped. “A Thunderlight? They died out like two hundred years ago.”

  “She was the last of her kind, Elena. And
she gave you her life…” my father’s words continued but I stopped listening. I shook my head. My hands tangled in my hair. Tears formed in my own eyes. I’d killed my godparents’ child. Why did they do that? But then…

  “A Thunderlight sacrificed her life for me. Dad, she was a dragon. I would’ve become…” I couldn’t think about it.

  “She didn’t have her human body yet, so the way Tanya explained it to us, was that her human form would turn into you.”

  My eyes jumped to his again.

  “I am a dragon?”

  “No, baby.” A tear rolled down my mother’s cheek. “Cara disappeared the minute you shifted into you.”

  “So one of the kindest and noblest dragons there ever was, died to save my life?”

  Both my parents didn’t say anything. How could they have kept this from me?

  I jumped up and ran to my room.

  “Elena!” my mother yelled after me. But I didn’t stop. I opened my door and fell, sobbing, onto my bed. I’d killed a Thunderlight. The worst part was that I couldn’t even tell Blake what they’d said. I didn’t want to tell him this at all. I was a murderer.

  “Elena!” I yelled after her.

  “Let her be. She needs to deal with it.” Albert put his hands on my shoulders.

  I gave him that look. The one that told him that he’d better keep his mouth shut; otherwise he was going to win himself the east wing again.

  “Blake should know better. Why were they even talking about it?”

  “It’s not Blake’s fault. He’s only seventeen, and nobody told him to keep it a secret, Katie. We should’ve told her. She was ready for this. Blake probably just mentioned it offhand. He doesn’t know much.”

  “It doesn’t matter. He told her that. She thought we weren’t her real parents. The entire night she felt that, Albert. Not to mention what she must be feeling now. I’m going to phone Tanya. They need to come back.”

  “Katie, you’re making this into something it’s not.”

  “I’m not!” I shouted. I picked up my Cammy.

  “Tanya Le Frey,” I intoned. It beeped.

  I was so mad, if I were a dragon I’d be breathing fire. I could always take that information from Elena’s memory and just tell her myself. Maybe I should do that.

  She picked up and a hologram of her popped out of the Cammy. “Hey babe, why…” Then she saw how angry I was. “What happened?”

  I started to speak fast, yelling about what a little dirt-bag Blake was. I was really trying to make peace with their bond, the intensity of it. I told her everything.

  “Calm down. Blake did what?”

  “He told Elena that he’d only met her when she was one. She knows about Cara.” I started crying.

  “Okay, deep breaths. Calm down.”

  “She is not taking this well,” I finally got out.

  “We’ll be there in ten minutes. Just don’t do anything stupid like trying to erase this from her mind, Katie.”

  She knew me so well. Still it was an option that I wasn’t going to eliminate yet.

  We waited. I loathed the fact that I could hear Elena crying in her room.

  I knew how this night was going to end. We were going to have to go to get a certain dirt-bag to calm her down. It was days like this that I wanted to wring a certain dragon’s neck. I didn’t care how special he was.

  It was late. I was lying in bed and was speaking to Tabitha on my Cammy. I didn’t understand why she just couldn’t leave me alone. We weren’t like that. Sure, she was pretty, but she was also a Snow Dragon. Do I need to say more?

  At least she was good for something: doing my homework on a daily basis.

  I heard a commotion downstairs. Even if my room was soundproof, noise always made its way to my ears. I guessed it was how I was built; I always knew when danger was near.

  “I have to go. Speak to you soon,” I said and pressed the disconnect button. Her face disappeared instantly. I put down my Cammy and walked over to the door.

  When I opened it, Tanya’s voice filled the room. What is she doing here?

  She was speaking about her daughter, Cara. I remembered her. I’d wondered after they came back what had happened to her, but I’d been too young. Then I heard Elena’s name. Something about Elena finding out. Found out what?

  I reached the stairs and found a sleepy-eyed Sammy already at the bottom. “Mom, is everything okay?” she asked as I skipped down the last few steps.

  “Everything is fine, baby. Go back to sleep.” Nothing in my mother’s tone told me that it was okay.

  Sammy shuffled past me back up the stairs to her room. A natural Sleeping Beauty, that one.

  “So she found out about the Calypso potion? She knows you sacrificed Cara to save her life?” my father asked.

  Icy pressure, like my snow, pressed all the air out of my lungs. “You did what?” I asked.

  “Elena was sick, Blake. We had no choice,” Tanya said with tears lingering in her eyes.

  “You gave her the Calypso potion.” I couldn’t believe this.

  “It worked. Irene predicted that it would work.”

  “When?”

  “When she was a few weeks old. We had no choice.” Tanya sounded angry. “Why did you two even talk about the past?”

  “Don’t you dare try to pin this on me. You should have told her about Cara and what she did for her, a long time ago. Now I have to go sort this out!” I whirled to leave.

  “Blake!” my father called.

  I didn’t stop. I was already out the front door, busy getting undressed and keeping all my clothes inside my hand. I lifted off, morphed into a dragon and made my way to the castle.

  I could sense Tanya behind me, but she wasn’t fast enough to keep up. When the castle came into view, I could hear King Albert, Jako and Queen Catherine arguing. Elena didn’t want to see anyone from what I gathered.

  She wouldn’t, especially her godparents, because of the guilt over something she had no control over, over something they had done. Then I heard her sobs, though I couldn’t pinpoint her location yet. I hated it when she cried. It was something she hardly did. She was always so happy. She was my happy place.

  I came in hard, morphed two seconds after, and pulled on my jeans. Tanya landed behind me as I made my way to the door.

  “Blake!” she yelled, still in dragon form. I ignored her and went in. I made my way into the lobby, rushing through the hallways, and down another flight of steps into the kitchen.

  “How could you do that to her?” Queen Catherine yelled the minute she saw me. “Tell her that you only met her when she was one. Do you know what you put her through tonight?”

  “What I put her through?” I scoffed. “You sacrificed Tanya’s daughter to save her life and forgot to mention that to her. This isn’t my doing; it’s yours. And now she probably feels guilty that she took the last Thunderlight’s life because of your mistake.”

  Queen Catherine gasped. King Albert and Jako looked guilty. “I didn’t even…”

  “You seriously didn’t think about that?” I shook my head. “Then you don’t know her that well.”

  “Blake!” King Albert yelled.

  Okay, I was out of line, but come on.

  I shook my head. “Where is she, so I can at least try to help her get through this?”

  “Oh, you know her so well, why don’t you find her?”

  I threw the queen a filthy look. “Treehouse it is.”

  She grunted, which told me I was spot on. I stormed out.

  The sobs grew louder the closer I got to the treehouse.

  The ladder was pulled up.

  “Elena,” I said.

  “Go away!” she yelled.

  “Just let down the stairs, okay? I don’t want to ruin another treehouse. I actually like this one.”

  I could hear her trying to compose herself and suppress her tears. After a minute or so, she let down the ladder.

  I climbed up and found her sitting with her hea
d on her knees and her back against the wall. I climbed in and pulled up the ladder. She didn’t even look at me. I moved over to her and just wrapped my arms around her.

  She burst out crying. I held her tighter.

  “It’s going to be okay.”

  “It’s not okay.” She lifted her head. “I killed a Thunderlight, Blake. A freakin’ Thunderlight.”

  “You didn’t kill anyone, okay?” I wiped her tears away. “This is not on you, Elena. It’s on them. And yes, a Thunderlight died in the process, but she died a Dragon’s death. To die for royalty is the noblest death there is. She’s a heroine because she saved your life. It’s not your fault.”

  “I still don’t even know how the hell it worked.”

  “I can give you my theories,” I offered calmly, “but they are just that. Theories. Nothing else.”

  She waited.

  “She didn’t have her human form. Something tells me that they prayed you would become it.”

  Elena sniffed wetly. “We weren’t compatible, Blake.”

  “Maybe not, it could be the reason she isn’t here today. Because of it.” I released her and settled in beside her. She sighed, an exhausted sound, and lay her head on my shoulder.

  “What if she is still inside me?”

  “Why, you feel something?”

  She shook her head.

  “Then it’s best we don’t wake her up, okay?”

  She nodded and shifted closer, resting her arm on my chest. I stroked her back.

  “I still can’t believe a Thunderlight died for me. Do you remember her?”

  “Yeah, sort of,” I lied. I did remember her, but I had to be gentle. It was easy to go gentle on Elena. “She was about a year older than me when they disappeared.” I didn’t tell her what an amazing dragon she was. It would only make her feel guiltier for something she didn’t even do.

  “Why did they keep this from me?”

  “I don’t know. Maybe because of this. They didn’t want to hurt you, Elena. I know for a fact that your mom and dad love you with all their hearts. It’s something my mother’s always said.”

  “Okay,” she sniffed and wiped at her tears.

  “But I doubt your mother will let me come visit soon.”

 
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