Chapter Seven

An ambulance took Cecily to the local hospital. Rushed through the emergency room, Natalie was left behind as the doctors and nurses worked on her. No one could tell Natalie what was wrong with her friend – with what Cecily had told Natalie of her medical history, the doctors did not know either.

Numbly, Natalie asked the desk clerk to use the phone so that she could call Cecily’s father. She found his number in Cecily’s cell phone. When he answered, she was unsure of what to say.

“Cecily— she collapsed,” Natalie said and suddenly felt the tears welling up in her eyes.

“Where are you?”

“At the hospital,” Natalie said. “I called an ambulance.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Mr. Cordell said.

He hung up and she was left standing in the small but full emergency room. Tears began falling down her cheeks as she slowly made her way back to the waiting area.

People rushed by as time passed. Telephones rang, nurses ran and doctors gave orders. Ambulances came with critical patients and they were shipped off to different rooms. Visitors spoke quietly, some screamed, others cried. Natalie simply stared blindly at the scenery before her, feeling as though she did not belong in this cold place.

Mr. Cordell looked disheveled as he hurried into the emergency room, red-faced, his hair on end and his eyes filled with anxiousness. He caught sight of Natalie and came to stand before her.

“How is she?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Natalie said quietly. “They won’t tell me anything.”

Mr. Cordell left and walked to the desk. Natalie could not hear him speaking but she knew what he was asking. She saw the desk clerk look at the board and disappear off, probably to find someone who knew how Cecily was doing.

Minutes later, a med student approached Mr. Cordell. They spoke in hushed tones and Natalie saw Mr. Cordell’s face fall. Just as they were about to walk, Mr. Cordell stopped and motioned for Natalie to come along. He did not say anything as they followed the med student to one of the smaller rooms.

Cecily was lying in one of three beds in the room but the other two were empty. She looked tiny against the machine that registered her pulse and her blood pressure, and the saline drip secured in her arm. Her skin color matched the white sheet that covered her up to her waist.

“Cecily,” said Mr. Cordell and took one of her hands in his. Natalie stood back, uncertain.

Cecily blinked slowly. Her eyes seemed unfocused and she was obviously disoriented.


Mr. Cordell ran a hand over her forehead, pushing her hair out of her face. “I’m here.”

A very small smile graced Cecily’s lips. Then she saw Natalie standing back and she raised a hand towards her. “Natalie.”

Natalie hesitated before walking over to Cecily. She did not want to intrude on Cecily and Mr. Cordell; she felt out of place and useless in the situation. Still, hesitantly, Natalie walked to Cecily’s other side. She squeezed Cecily’s hand gently, afraid of hurting her. Cecily smiled weakly, then looked at her father.

“I want to go home.”

“But Cecily—” said her father, and Natalie sensed this to be a discussion they had had before. She could almost hear the wordless conversation between the two and she could feel the dislike Cecily had for hospitals. Her father only wanted what was best for her, of course – even though no hospital had been able to help his daughter so far.

“There is nothing they can do,” Cecily said. “I’d rather be home, dad.”

In the end, she won. The doctors did not agree with her decision but as her father allowed it, they could do nothing but say that she went against their advice. A nurse wheeled a wheelchair into the room and her father lifted her into it.

Cecily said nothing to Natalie – she did not need to. Though Natalie worried about Cecily, she understood her wish to be home instead. Cecily’s room was a room for healing with the large window, warm colors and many flowers – her sanctuary, like no hospital could be.

They rode in silence back to the Cordell’s house. Cecily’s kept her eyes closed and Natalie watched her carefully. She wanted to voice her worries but she would rather not do it in front of Cecily’s father.

Mr. Cordell carried Cecily up the stairs to the bedroom and Natalie stood hesitatingly in entrance hall, wondering if she should go home instead. Really, she should – Emmanuella would be furious with her for not having dinner ready. Natalie found that she did not care. Cecily was more important than Emmanuella in every way, and Richard would understand her decision to stay with Cecily.

However, she felt unsure of whether she should stay now. Cecily had returned home again, with her father taking care of her. They did not need Natalie – she could not be certain that she was even wanted.

“Natalie?” Mr. Cordell came down the stairs. He looked old. “She’d like to see you.”

Natalie headed up the stairs and into Cecily’s room. Cecily did not look quite as sick under the warm yellow bedcover as she had beneath the hospital’s white. The sun still shining through the window made her almost glow.

“Hi,” said Cecily.

“Hi,” Natalie answered. She could not quite convince herself that mere hours had passed since they had been here trying to tell Ava that magic existed. It felt like ages ago.

“I’m sorry if I scared you,” Cecily said.

Natalie was not quite sure what to answer. Cecily had scared the wits out of her. Calling for an ambulance had been all she could think of. She merely nodded in answer to Cecily.

Silence spread for several long moments. Cecily gazed at Natalie, but Natalie looked out the window instead.

“I get sick like that sometimes,” Cecily said finally. “It— I can’t do anything about it. It’s just the way it is.”

Natalie nodded again. There was a lump in her throat and she swallowed.


She held out a hand, much like she had in the hospital but now looking stronger. Natalie took a deep breath. She had already cried about it; it would not help. She sat down on the side of Cecily’s bed.

“I was scared. And I realize now that I haven’t really grasped how sick you are.”

“Well,” said Cecily, “you’re not the only one. No one knows how sick I am because no one can diagnose me correctly.”

Natalie thought for a moment. “Do you think I should try to heal you again?”

“No, save your powers. I’m feeling better. However—”

“However what?” asked Natalie.

It was Cecily’s turn to take a deep breath. “I dreamed.”

“Dreamed?” It took a second for her to understand what Cecily meant. “You mean you dreamed a prophetic dream?”

Cecily looked uncertain. “I think so. It was jumbled, but still too clear and unlike any of my other dreams for it to be just a regular one.”

“What did you see?”

“I saw you and Ava. And Ramon was there. I believe he grabbed Ava to make you follow him. I’m not sure where – he teleported away but you knew where he was going.”

“But I don’t know who he his, much less where he’s going.” Natalie frowned, “And did you say teleported? He can do that?”

She looked around, rather worried. Not only could the madman control her and make her write odd things, he could also able to teleport? That would make it possible for him to just appear anywhere – the options were endless.

Cecily said, “It would seem that way. Still, there are rules even to teleporting so you shouldn’t have to be too worried.”

“Too worried? He’s going to kidnap Ava! We have to stop him!”

“But I wonder—”

“Wonder what?” Natalie asked.

Cecily cocked her head to the side. “If he can teleport, then why didn’t he simply grab you? Why take Ava?”

“I don’t know,” Natalie said, “because he wants to make my life as miserable as possible?”

Cecily appeared thoughtful. “Ask your grandmother about him. Perhaps she knows more about Ramon than she’s told you.”

“But I don’t even know how to get in touch with my grandmother!”

A hint of a smile appeared on Cecily’s pale lips. “I think she’ll get in touch with you as soon as she realizes you’ve performed magic.”

Natalie wondered how her grandmother would know about her performing magic, but then again, there were probably ways to check on that. If teleportation was possible, Natalie suspected that almost anything could be done. She stood up.

“Was there anything else in the dream?”

“No, not that I can remember,” Cecily said. “But Natalie, I wouldn’t worry too much right now. My dreams usually don’t come true immediately. The few I’ve had have taken everything between a few days to several weeks from my dream to it coming true before.”

Natalie bit her lip. “I can’t really take that chance.”

Cecily smiled slightly. “No, I suppose you can’t. We can’t.”

Natalie leaned over and hugged Cecily. “I have to go. I hope you feel better.” Then she added, softer, “Don’t scare me like that again.”

“I’ll try not to.”

As Natalie had expected, she arrived home to an Emmanuella in a down-right terrible mood. She and Richard had just finished eating Chinese take-out and Emmanuella’s eyes filled with fury when her eyes fell upon Natalie.

“Where have you been?”

Natalie sighed. “At the hospital. A friend collapsed.”

“Do you expect me to believe that?” scoffed Emmanuella.

“Em, perhaps we should give her the benefit of the doubt,” Richard said and held out a carton of food for Natalie.

“I’m not hungry.”

Actually, she was starving, but she did not feel like spending any time whatsoever with Emmanuella, who would not going to stop picking on her.

Without another word, though Emmanuella yelled after her to stop, Natalie headed up the stairs to her room. It felt like an eternity since she had been there last, though it was only this morning. She dumped her backpack beside her desk and threw herself onto the bed.

Images ran through her head – Cecily, mostly, as she fainted and became limp in Natalie’s arms, and her pale face at the hospital. But also Ava’s anger and belief that they were trying to play her for the fool, and Ramon’s face laughing at her, taunting her, and lastly, her grandmother speaking about magic and giving her a necklace.

It was simply too much.

A knock on the door, followed by Richard’s voice. “Natalie?”

“Come in,” Natalie said with a sigh and sat up.

Richard carried a tray of food – the carton of take-out he had offered earlier, and a tall glass of water. The food smelled delicious and she immediately started eating. She had not had a thing to eat since lunch, seven hours earlier.

“Didn’t you say you weren’t hungry?” asked Richard, amused, as he closed the door behind him.

Natalie grinned sheepishly at him.

“How is your friend?” Richard asked.

The smile fell from Natalie’s face. “She’s sick. She collapsed at home after school and I had to call an ambulance. I couldn’t get her to wake up.”

Richard nodded. “I didn’t think you were making it up.”

“I know.”

Richard was silent for a few moments as Natalie ate, then he said, “If you need to talk, I’m here for you.”

“I know that too.”

A moment of uncomfortable silence – Natalie drowned it out by eating.

“Just put that into the dishwasher when you’re finished.”

Natalie nodded and Richard left the room. Natalie inhaled the food as quickly as she could and had to remind herself to chew. She had not realized her own hunger.

That night Natalie went to bed early. Her dreams filled with people and she dreamed that Ava did not get kidnapped by Ramon – she left with him by her own choice, claiming he was a good guy and had not tried to make her look like a fool. She yelled at Natalie that magic did not exist and she took out a knife and threw it at Cecily. The knife embedded itself in Cecily’s heart and Natalie’s dreams became violently red.

Waking up the next morning, Natalie felt far from rested. On top of that, she still worried for Cecily’s health and felt unsure what she should think about Ava’s quick dismissal of them.

When the first group of people she saw when she came to school turned out to be Chase Eadan and his group of friends – or perhaps worshippers made for a more correct term, considering one of them polished Chase’s shoes – Natalie knew she was in for a bad day.

“Oh look, it’s the new girl,” said Chase with a smirk. For some reason, it was funny enough to warrant snickering from the rest of the group.

Natalie ignored them but Chase would not have it. He stood up and stepped over the boy who had been fixing his shoes.

“You really ought to choose better friends, Winters.”

“And why is that?”

She did not feel up for the games Chase obviously enjoyed playing.

“They might not be around when you need them.”

Did codes to follow exist as far as magic went, about hurting other people? She imagined there were but decided that if she ever managed to control her magic, she would embarrass Chase in most suitable manners. Uncertain of what those manners were, Natalie felt certain that Ava would help her come up with something fitting.

Sadness stabbed her heart when she reminded herself that there no guarantee existed for Ava coming around to even talk to her again. Then Cecily’s description of her dream echoed in her mind and she hoped that it had just been a regular dream, not a prophetic one.

Chase waved a hand in front of her face.

“Hello? Are you as deaf as you are stupid?”

Natalie rolled her eyes with a sigh. “No, Chase, I was thinking. Though I doubt you are familiar with the concept.”

With that, she pushed her way past Chase and walked into the school building. Chase yelled obscenities after her and she was glad when the large door fell shut behind her.

Natalie concentrated in History to keep her hand from writing messages – and to her great surprise, she found the class very nearly interesting. Perhaps she ought give listening a try more often.

In math, Cecily and Natalie sat in their usual places. The fact that Cecily had come to school surprised Natalie and she said as much.

“I can’t be home every time I get sick. I’d fall so far behind it’s not even funny.”

“Are you all right then?” asked Natalie.

Cecily shrugged. “I’m okay. I don’t have a fever.”

With those words she closed the subject and the rest of Natalie’s worries stayed unspoken.

Ava entered the classroom but did not so much as glance at Cecily or Natalie. She seated herself on the other side of the classroom and immediately dug her books out. They were truly in the dog house, Natalie thought dejectedly. She liked Ava and enjoyed her company. She really did not want to fight. Still, she knew that there would have been no way she and Cecily could have kept magic from Ava – she would have found out sooner or later.

Math was as incomprehensible as always for Natalie and she did not appreciate how Mrs. Miller continued to pick her to answer questions. Cecily should do it instead – she clearly understood it. Ava sat unusually quiet in her seat, her face dark and her arms folded across her chest. Natalie felt miserable.

Three whole days passed the way Monday had. Chase Eadan decided that Natalie made for a fun person to pick on before school, Mrs. Miller chose her to solve math problems she had no idea of where to even begin, and Ava ignored both her and Cecily all day long. At night, Natalie dreamed nightmares laced with pain in black and red.

On Thursday afternoon Natalie arrived home after school, achingly tired in both mind and body, and found a letter addressed for her. Turning it over, she found that it was from her grandmother.

‘Dear Natalie,

If you wish to continue where we last left off, Thomas and I will be by your school tomorrow when you finish. I will come along this time to make sure that nothing unexpected happens.’

It was signed by her grandmother and Natalie felt a small smile on her lips. Though she did not know what to think of her grandmother – she struck Natalie as both strict yet loving at the same time and on top of that, she was a powerful Wielder – it still made for a break from the dull and saddening reality that Natalie currently resided in. It also made Natalie a bit happy because she doubted that Ramon would try anything when her grandmother was nearby, which hopefully meant Ava should be safe until Monday when Natalie next saw her. Ramon would, according to the dream, attack with Natalie present, after all.

Natalie made dinner with a bit of renewed strength.

“You’re looking happier,” Richard commented when he arrived home.

“I’m going to see grandmother tomorrow again.”

She smiled, and Richard gave her the look he had given her every time Natalie had mentioned her grandmother since she had visited the first time. Natalie did not know what it meant, but she figured it had to be strange for Richard that Natalie got to see her grandmother but Richard did not – after all, it was his mother.

Natalie felt a bit surprised that he had not asked more about his mother. He had not asked how she had been, or what she had been like now. He’d asked nothing at all, really.

“That’s nice,” he said neutrally. “Will you be home tomorrow night or sleep there again?”

Natalie avoided Richard’s gaze. She still had not told him of the kidnapping and had no intention to do so either.

“I hope I’ll be home tomorrow night.”

Emmanuella arrived home a mere minute later and Natalie had no more chances to speak to Richard about her grandmother. Perhaps it was for the best – Natalie had never been good at lying and Richard already appeared to suspect that more was going on than Natalie told him.

She hoped there would be nothing else she needed to hide from him after tomorrow, but suspected there would rather be a lot more.

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