Found- Part Twenty Five
Read Parts One through Twenty-Four here.
“You seem to be getting close to Cyrus,” Dasha said without looking at me, throwing my plate of food onto the table. She may hate you, but at least she cares if you eat. She’d been frosty with me for a few more days after Mara’s funeral. It was hard to tell if she was angry with me or afraid of me. Part of me hoped it was both. I was not meant to form attachments here. I was supposed to regain my strength and move on. But another part of me longed for the sun to rise and to feel Dasha’s warmth again. My world had descended back into night, and I found that I missed the dawn. This must be what Cyrus feels like.
“He’s asked me to be his apprentice,” I answered.
“Hmm.” She fussed with the dried flowers on the table, disturbing the scent of my food with the scent of old lavender. Her movements were forced, like someone who was trying to be cross.
“Yeah, he’s been helpful.”
“Sure, he has.” Her words were cold and clipped.
I tried to hide how much it hurt me, but my face betrayed me.
“Nox,” she said, her voice softened, and her mask of indifference fell. “You look at me as though I hate you.”
“Don’t you?” I asked without thinking, looking down at my food.
“Oh, honey.” She slid in the chair across from me. “It’s just… I’m sorry. I don’t know how to feel around you anymore. You arrived in town, this mysterious, battered boy. You were so broken. I figured there are some horrible traumas in your past, just like all of us. But then the layers start to peel back. And what I began to find alarmed me.”
“You’re afraid of me,” I finished for her.
“I don’t want to be.” Dasha’s eyes glistened with emotion. Her signature glow had dulled. Her hair was more disheveled than usual and sat as though a great weight held her down. Well, well, well. Just another light you’ve snuffed out. His voice hissed from deep within.
“I wish you didn’t have to be,” was all I could think to say.
Dasha stared at me. Her expression spoke of sadness, fear, and something else I couldn’t place. The warmth I’d been missing was mixed in—a dim spark compared to what I knew it should be. But I would take it in whatever doses it came in. Even though you don’t deserve it.
“Something happened to you. Something horrible. And it’s made you believe you’re bad. But I know you aren’t. I just know it.” She moved her hand over to touch my face, and I recoiled from her. She retracted her hand as though I’d struck her.
“You are the sun, Dasha. You are warm and good. You’re the light in the world. What would you know about darkness?”
“Don’t you know?” another voice chimed in. Cyrus came over to us, his face twisted with pain. “The closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes.”
Dasha looked away from him, but the hatred I expected to see wasn’t there. Cyrus looked at us both, and I could feel him trying to read the air between us. Dasha took a couple of deep breaths before turning back to address him.
“Are you going to help him?” Dasha asked him. Cyrus and I were taken back.
“What?” We blurted out in unison.
“My room. Now.” Dasha jumped up and snatched my wrist in one hand, and Cyrus’s in another. Again, Cyrus and I looked at each other, confusion evident in our faces as Dasha dragged us across The Willow’s main floor and into her room. She shoved us in and slammed the door behind her.
“Are you going to help him?” she asked again. Angry tears flowed down her face.
“I… I don’t know how—” Cyrus admitted. He looked at me, and I could tell he was trying to See me. I felt exposed.
“Nox, please,” Dasha interrupted. “We want to help you. But we can’t if you don’t tell us what happened to you. Please.”
“She’s right. We’re not going to hurt you. No one is going to hurt you.”
“I can’t. You two could be the ones to get hurt. Things happen when my emotions get intense. I can’t control it.” I wrapped my arms around my body in an attempt to shield myself and hold myself together at the same time. Heat began to build inside me.
“Please, Nox,” Dasha begged.
“We’re here for you,” Cyrus said, leading me toward Dasha’s bed and sat me down. “You can trust us. We’re your friends.”
“The last time I had a friend, she had her wings ripped off before my eyes and was crushed to death.” The words fell from my mouth without permission. “You… you both should sit down. This could take a while.”