Chapter twenty eight of Awakening.

For disclaimer see first chapter.


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Splinters from the Mirror - Part Two

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It is done…. the mirror is broken.

Broken, but not destroyed…

Pieces falling quietly to the floor.

Slow at first -- then accelerating …

Falling faster and faster….

Gaining vertigo

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Vertigo

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Caryn Smoke had done it again, doing things against her wishes. First she had to join that stupid SingleEarth organisation, her sister has founded and now, she thought she choose to celebrate All Hollow's Eve there too, the rather celebrating it here.

Annoying, and that wasn't even all to it. No, she refused to help Dominique fighting that damned demon of all things, saying she couldn't do it because those outdated ethics of the Smoke line.

So, yes, Dominique was fuming, madder than mad.

Wasn't she the one to be the leader of them all, all those were the descendants of Macht?

Still, she couldn't control Caryn Smoke. The girl hand found time after time a way to bend their rules. Managed, to get it her way. Damn, that power of hers would the perfect thing to burn this bloody New Mayhem. To clean up those damned leeches for all time. More so, they would come handy fighting that darn demon. She snorted in distaste.

She had been so close, so near her dream of destroying most of them.

"Hm, so I don't have a legal way to make her go my way." She thought. "Well, that means I have to make a reason for her to follow my rules." She sniggered faintly at that.

"Yes, that will do."

She sat down and to another sip from her cup in her hands. "I just have to use that demon as tool to convince them to see it my way." Caryn might refuse to fight the demon for her, but what if she was convinced that it was the only way for her to not get disowned.

Ah, it would've be easy enough, with all the rumours about her associations with the enemy, with vampires.

Dominique's eyes lighted up at this thought. "Well, until that I have some hunters to train."

"Dominique?" She heard someone calling and turned around to find Alexander standing in the door, watching her.

"Alexander," she said, nodding, "anything new?"

"On the demon? No, but I think there's something you should know." He answered, scratching his chin thoughtfully. "There's something going on with your youngest daughter, Sarah."

"What?" Dominique queried.

"I'm sorry to tell you this, but … she has been seen in the company of vampires."

"No, hat had to be a mistake." She muttered then took another look at Alexander, seeing the dead serious look on his face and groaned.

"She's going to wish she'll be death when I'm done with her." Dominique said softly but it sent chills down his spine. It was too soft, to be anything but a deadly threat.

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White Rabbit

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Hasana gave her class a testing look, trying to find out how to begin best. It was her first day in school since she had been asked to give several history lessons until their usual history teacher was well again.

No, it wasn't the same class her daughter was in. That was good because otherwise it would be a little discomforting, though Hasana knew that Caryn had nothing against it. Actually it was her, Hasana, who didn't favour this, being Caryn's mother and her teacher. She never had, for she thought she be unfair to her daughter for being either to hard or to easy on her.

"So, where to begin?" She thought. "Ah, yes, that is a fitting lesson."

"Good morning class. As you might already know, I will be your history teacher until Mrs. Hudson is well again."

Everything went well until the door opened during mid-class, revealing a rather lanky boy with reddish hair.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Rashida," he apologized, "but I overslept." He kept his eyes down. "I'm sorry."

"Jeremy," Hasana replied slowly. "You know that this will mean you're going to have stay after class, don't you?" She gave him a stern glance -- and frowned. Something was off about this boy. Hasana hadn't seen him before, everything she knew was only from his file: from his appearance to his preferred classes. But yes it was there, just a very very faint but still there. Jeremy was a vampire.

"Strange, how faint it is," Hasana wondered and compared automatically with how her daughter felt now. She wasn't a fool to make herself believe that it didn't bother her; no , it was the hardest thing to see her daughter ... this changed, downright feral at times and not like she was supposed to be. "How could it be that my daughter feels more like one of them then this vampire … was he one of Midra's line?" She shrugged, seeing as this was the only explanation. Midra's line, they were almost as different from the other vampires as were weres from witches. One could almost think of them as a different kind of vampire, as they never drunk human blood and she had heard that they even despised it, not liking its taste at all.

Those were her musings while she tried her best to teach the children how to value literature -- actually more successfully than she believed at first. So, instead of being dreadfully long class quickly over and she stood in an empty classroom.

"Sister?"

"Mikhail?" Hasana turned around, being surprised to see her brother here in school and couldn't help but note how out of place he looked here with his long hair and leather clothes, looking pretty much like the rock musician he spend the other part of life.

"Have you got a minute?" He asked quietly but his look had something unnerving to her; making her very aware that this was no friendly visit to check on her. Something was off for sure.

"Yes," she replied and gave her brother another curious look. He looked rather tired, with dark circled beneath his eyes and pale skin. "What is this about?"

"We need your help sis." Mikhail said slowly giving his sister a thorough look-over. "We, you know we're given a order from the council to look into the case of the missing, killed witches."

"Yeah, I know." She acknowledged with a nod, waiting for him to continue.

"Hasana, I think I found a witness to the last murder -- and I think he's attending this school." Mikhail explained while fussing with his long hair.

"And?" Hasana eyed her brother with a raised eyebrow, knowing that there was more behind this than that or he wouldn't have come to her.

"He's a vampire." Her brother explained with a sigh. "Thankfully only a weak one. Probably belonging to Midra's line too but … well, I got no idea where to look for him."

"Midra's line?" she replied and couldn't help but think back to that boy in her class today. "Yes, I think I might know someone like that … but Mikhail, if that's really a demon you're fighting the boy is going to be rather defenceless." True the boy was also a vampire but to put life in danger like that went against her sense of honour -- and he was of Midra's line too, which meant he never tasted a single drop of human blood anyway. The boy was barely a vampire in that sense.

"I know." Mikhail sighed then nodded. "But if we do nothing he'll be in danger anyway. I'm pretty sure the demon had sensed him and had left him alone only because he it's not important to him nor interesting enough to play with."

Hasana nodded slowly then frowned at her brother. "What happened Mikhail, your power?" She finally noticed what it was, what bugged her about him, realizing that it was his missing his usually witch aura. Well, it was still there, but it was very muted.

"Dominique, sis." Mikhail said slowly. "That demon trapped me into a dream and she had to bind my powers to free us."

"About the boy, how do we go about this?"

"We? We can't do anything in this case." He shook his head with a sad motion. "We'd stand out too much for that."

"But then..."

"Well, I thought that we could let Caryn do this – and maybe Sarah, Dominique's daughter to a degree."

"Mikhail..." Hasana started to object but then nodded, knowing that he was right. "Okay, but I don't like it."

"I know, but we have to know what the boy knows." Her brother nodded then took a deep breath. "Sis, you know that I never wanted to get involved in something like this, but I, no we, don't have a choose."

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"You want me to do what?" Caryn stared at her mother.

"Just to talk a little with him sweetheart." Hasana chuckled then went serious again. "He won't trust any of us ... older witches, but you might have a chance where we don't fit." Truly they had no idea how old the 'boy' really was, only that he pretended to be a teen and so they would have to handle him, as a teen.

"He's bound to know what I am." Caryn stated, not knowing how to feel about this new assignment.

"No, I doubt that my dear." Hasana objected. "He's very weak for a vampire, one of Midra's line."

"Oh, but I don't know how ... Do we have anything in common?" Caryn muttered but then nodded anyway, knowing that she had no other choice in this. She was already in a very fragile spot, concerning where she stood with her kind.

Yes, so she did as her mother wanted her to do and befriended that guy and found that she actually liked him – despite the fact that he was a vampire. Jeremy was a nice and funny guy to be around to. Sure, he was a little shy, which was something that surprised her, knowing that as a vampire he should have more than enough experience in dealing with other people. It made her wonder how old he really was then too, for he surely didn't feel old at that. Old, Caryn knew how that felt in a vampire, old that was what Jager was, but he was far more than just only old. He was incredible powerful too.

Unfortunately, Jeremy didn't talk like her mother had hoped. No, instead it was Nyssa, who talked, talked Caryn into spending Samhaim with both her and Jeremy.

Weird, now she had two vampire friends instead just one. Oh, no, Jager didn't count as a friend. Caryn shook her head at that thought. No, while she wasn't sure what exactly the old vampire was to her; he certainly was not a friend.

Otherland

Then, the end of October had come faster than she had expected it to do and it was almost night now. There were only a few hours left, to be prepared now, to face her mother's hurt look when she would realize that she would not be with them this year.

"Samhaim," Caryn thought and shivered. "It's when the worlds are closest to each other."

"Caryn?" She heard her mother calling from behind.

Caryn turned around to see that her mother had already gathered her ceremonial clothes.

"What is?" Caryn asked after a few minutes of silence.

"You know I really would enjoy celebrating Samhaim with you, daughter."

"I know." Caryn sighed and shut her eyes for moment. "But I can't, mother. Please understand. I don't want to see Dominique after all this."

She shook her shoulders uneasily, knowing that she had made her mother sad, but she just couldn't help. "Besides I belong to SingleEarth now. I can't leave Di, now can I?" She added and forced herself to smile.

"No, guess you cannot daughter." Hasana said sadly and pulled her into an embrace.

"But remember, you are my daughter, always."

Caryn simply gave her mother a hug. "I know." She said, but she could've said, "I hope," as there was a light tremble in her voice.

"Now, hush you won't make your friends from SingleEarth wait, will you?"

"No, of course not." Caryn agreed softly and made for the door, so that she could put on her own ceremonial clothes. She couldn't help but feel excited, it was the first time she spend Samhaim not only with her own kind. No, this would be special, very special.

"A night of peace," she thought happily and went looking for a dress to wear. She chose a dark red dress in the end, because of the way she was feeling inside. No, pure green didn't fit her anymore.

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Samhaim was astonishing peaceful Caryn thought, while watching all the different species mingle here in their SingleEarth building.

"It's wonderful, Diana." She smiled at her sister.

"Yes, it is sister-heart." Diana agreed but then frowned. "I only hope there would be more of this, of peace."

"You know, that's impossible." Caryn muttered, knowing that it was hopeless to wish everybody would be able to get along. It simply was impossible, knowing that it needed the will to do so from both sides for it to happen.

"I know," she said, "but I can hope, can I not?"

"Yes, you can." Caryn gave her older sister a careful look, noticing the softness of her expression -- and the unavoidable difference between them now. Well, Diana didn't know that, and if it went after Caryn, she would never know. Not that she didn't trust her sister, no, that wasn't it, but she didn't want to take that innocence away from her; it was far too precious to her.

Someone of them had to be able to keep their pureness, even if she couldn't, not anymore. No, she was all too aware of how much she belonged to the twilight world now, between day and night. Cary could only hope that it wasn't going to tear her apart in the end; could only hope that the shadows wouldn't suffocate her.

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Besides her uneasy feelings things went well so far and she really enjoyed being here with the other SingleEarth members. For a moment she wondered, why it couldn't be always like this among their kinds only to sigh in resignation a moment later. Yes, she know, that she was a dreamer but she wasn't alone – so, maybe there was hope after all.

Caryn was busy and preoccupied with thoughts like that so she didn't recognized a familiar face in the crowd and almost bumped into her.

"Sarah," she said in surprise. "Sarah?" Caryn called aloud, "I thought you planned on spending Samhaim with your family."

"I did," Sarah replied in a trembling voice. There was something desperate in her eyes, something pleading. "Please, Caryn, I just can't face them - right now. I cannot."

"You're welcome," Caryn said in a soft voice and grinned suddenly. "As long as you don't mind spending it with us, all of us."

"I don't," she agreed, but couldn't hide her unease at the thought of the vampires at SingleEarth. She shook her head, remembering that she had just made friends with Christopher and Nyssa. "It doesn't matter, Caryn."

Caryn just gave her strange look, noticing the stressed look of the older witch. No, something wasn't right at all. She sighed inwardly in defeat, knowing that there was nothing she could do about it.

She had an uneasy feeling, but in the end nothing happened, which she was very glad for.

Well, not exactly nothing happened, because just when she was about to go to sleep, she found a rose on her bed -- a black rose.

"Jager," she thought instantly and shivered with mixed feelings. Who else would send her black roses on Samhaim? Well, what ever, she couldn't help herself but took it up, smelling at it. He shouldn't do this, but why then did it make her smile?

"You like it?" she heard a soft voice from behind and whirled around to face nobody else but him, Jager, the vampire who rescued her from herself back when she had tried to run away from everything.

"Jager," Caryn muttered then swallowed. "Why?"

"Why?" He raised one brow and smiled softly. "I like to see you smile, Caryn."

She sighed, this time in defeat. "You shouldn't Jager." She repeated her previous thoughts. He really shouldn't do this, these sweet things to her. He was their enemy … and this would lead to nothing good, yet, she felt helpless by the surge of warmth it made her feel.

"I know." he cupped her chin, making her meet his eyes. "But I want to."

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Lost Dreams

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Samhaim was gone, gone as all hope, Sarah thought bitterly as she walked through the night. She had left Christopher, or was that now Kristopher, behind. Had left him with his brother. She didn't know how it had gone down like this. She couldn't breathe; well she didn't need to. She had left him a note, saying she had to think and left - but know she was walking and walking with no clear target in mind.

No, she couldn't go home; it wasn't home anymore. She shook her head, still not knowing why she had not taken the Vida way out of this. Why had she not fallen into her knife? Why?

There was nothing left, only a demon in the mirror. A mirror, she knew, would be empty soon.

Nothing left, but a cold night, feeling as cold like the heart she once had, or so she thought.

Where should she go now?

Home, she had no home to return anymore, not being like this. Going there would only get her killed. If she had wanted that, she would be already dead, yes?

So, Sarah Tigress Vida wandered aimlessly trough the night -- until she found herself facing a familiar building.

SingleEarth.

So, she went there – and all was good, well, barely okay in truth, but it was all she had. Of course it was difficult for her, but so was being this, being turned into this thing, their enemy. Yeah, so she needed this, a small peace, so she could come to terms with the turn her life had taken. That, yes, she needed to come up with something, needed to be sure what it exactly was she felt for him and hope it wouldn't be to late then.

Yes, may be, just may be, time was on her side for once.

The only thing, she really hated in all this, was the fact that she had to change her name – but it was necessary. It had been necessary for both her safety and for that Smoke witch, Caryn's. Yes, they had become friends, as strange it might still feel to Sarah sometimes, but she realized that there was far more to the other than she ever thought of.

The smoke witch wasn't as soft as she believed – no, not at all. She was warm, caring but fierce if you dared to harm someone she wanted to keep safe.

Protector, Sarah chuckled at that word, but it fitted her new friend so very well.

Yes, her life or better unlife started to get better now, and may be she'll be doing something about Christopher too. Yet, she felt uneasy to face him right now.

Fallen

"Caryn, wait!" He nearly shouted as he followed her into the SingleEarth building. It was early morning so they were alone right now. "Thank the Gods for this." He sighed.

"I need to speak with you." He explained, his voice full of concern. "It's important."

She turned around, starring at him. There was a shudder in his voice, very unusual of Mikhail, she wondered.

"What is wrong Mikhail?" She asked, confused of the flustered way he was acting.

"Everything." He said in a monotone voice.

"You are in trouble Caryn, real trouble." He explained. He showed her a photo.

"You've been caught. I doubt that even your mother can get you out of this one, Cary." He said sadly, looking questionable at her, like he had never seen her before.

Caryn looked at the photo and gasped in surprise. It showed her and Jager in a tight embrace. She shivered suddenly. She knew when the picture must have been taken. That situation had been completely harmless, and not what the picture implied. He'd just comforted her.

"But then was there anything harmless concerning vampires for my kind?" She asked herself, thinking of the disaster with Sarah Vida. Now, that was something she had never expected to happen. Sarah being turned into the very thing she hunted; some might it call amusing. Caryn just thought it to be sad.

"It is not what you think." Caryn tried to explain. "He just comforted me, really."

"You know that is more than enough for any Vida, foremost Dominique, to disown you, don't you?" He argued.

"Yes, I know." She swallowed a hard lump down. This was going to be ugly.

"How did this picture got taken anyway?" She wondered. "I didn't even know you could get a vampire on a photo anyway. At least not some one as old as him."

"Yes, so did I." He agreed. Someone as old as Jager had no reflection at all and could not be photographed.

Caryn turned the picture around only seeing a pure black surface. "I never have seen such a photo like this." She said thoughtfully, inspecting it carefully. There was no sign what's so ever on it.

"So, this means this hadn't been taken by anything like a ordinary camera." He concluded, now really puzzled. He sighed.

"Any way I have to go," he said hastily, "I don't want her to find me here."

"I'll understand," Caryn agreed, "but thank you for showing me this."

"Caryn?"

"Yes?"

"I'm going back after this. You know I just stayed for the Council and after that because of its order to do so, but I'm of no use right now. " He said weary.

She just nodded. "It's okay Mik." She said and reached forward, embracing him.

"Stay safe." She uttered, but meaning goodbye.

"I will Cary."

He nodded and left her to brood. She sat down, staring at the picture slightly dazed.

"How?" she asked herself, "how could somebody possible get close enough alone?" She absentmindedly caressed the picture. "He really looks good," she mused. "He shouldn't." "Why do you have to look this … beautiful?" She whispered to the picture.

Then she suddenly heard the door opening again, someone had come in. "Well, he or she must have a key," She realized, "so they would be of SingleEarth."

She knew that aura. "Sarah," she murmured. Sarah had searched sanctuary here after being turned. She needed a place safe from her mother's wrath, so she had joined SingleEarth for the time being

"Caryn?" Sarah asked rather timid for her. "What are you doing?" Then she caught Caryn's shadowed expression. "What is wrong?"

"Nothing, Sarah," Caryn replied, "nothing I can change." She sighed, her gaze travelling back to the photo in her hands. Suddenly she thought to hide it, putting it into one of her books.

Sarah caught the movement, "What do you have there?" she asked curiously.

"Nothing." Caryn replied, trying to fend off Sarah's curiosity.

Only Sarah didn't think so. She snatched the photo out of said book.

"Huh, nothing?" she asked shocked, "This is hardly nothing." She took a hard look at Caryn; looking at her as if she'd never seen her before.

She dropped down on a nearby chair, needing support right now.

"So, please tell me that this is a bad joke, a photomontage?" She queried, unbelieving what she'd just seen.

Caryn gave her just a blank look. She shook her shoulders helplessly.

"It's not what it looks like." She tried to explain, fidgeting nervously.

"So, tell me 'what' it is?" Sarah questioned. "This isn't you. He isn't of SingleEarth… He isn't one of its tame vampires. …It isn't safe Caryn…" She trailed off.

"I know." She stammered helplessly.

"But why?" Sarah wanted to know. "This isn't you, not the one I know!"

"Maybe I am not." Caryn swallowed, looking downwards. "I'm not the same since Jessica happened." She added, whispering. Then she looked up, facing Sarah. She gave her a good long stare. "You of all people should know better."

"Maybe," Sarah agreed, "but this still is different."

"Different," Caryn repeated, tasting the word's meaning slowly. "What is so different about it – it's you who got turned into one of them, not me." She shook her head.

Sarah slumped down at this, defeated. "You are right," she confirmed, "I have no right to judge."

They sat in silence – for a while.

"Sarah?" Caryn nearly whispered.

"Yes?"

"There's something I like to tell you … but you have to promise me." She trailed off then took a deep breath. "This can't get out of here. It is important." Her voice was grave.

"Caryn?" Sarah repeated again. She gave her a good long stare and nodded.

"I'll keep your secret as you keep mine." She promised; she swore.

"All right then," Caryn accepted and stood up. "Better we take this upstairs, the room is sealed." She couldn't hide the slight tremble in her voice but she had to do this, had to share her secret with someone. She needed to share it with someone who would understand.

They went into Caryn's workroom and Caryn closed the door, firmly.

"So, what's this big secret of yours?"

"Sit down, Sarah. You better sit down." Caryn replied – then she let her shields go; releasing the hold she had on her aura's colours for so long. She sighed deeply. Holding it up at all times had taken more out her then she thought it would.

Sarah just stared in response. Caryn hadn't changed in this moment, though her aura had. It was very different from what Sarah had known. It was intense. Where it had been warm before, it was now burning, but the burning wasn't what got her deep into her bones. It was the patches of deep dark red. Some parts were almost black, black like a vampire's aura -- a vampire, who had fed on human blood and had killed.

"Caryn…." Sarah whispered. "What's this? How did …"

Caryn swallowed in response. "Well, you remember that thing about healing Jessica?" she began then trailed off, not knowing how to explain. "Just, saying the changes went a bit deeper then I expected." Much more than I ever wanted them to be.

"But …" Sarah trailed off, realizing what those dark spots meant. They reminded her of Nikolas. "You didn't. Please tell me you didn't…." She trembled. This was way too close to home.

Caryn just smiled a sad smile, which turned into an almost hysterical fit of laughter. "You know if it weren't so serious it would be funny. You know in this you are more innocent than I."

"How? How did it happen?" Sarah uttered, utterly surprised by this -- and by the glimpse of something, which could be only the tips of sharp fangs between Caryn's lips. The latter could only mean that the healer in front of her was at least a half-vampire, like Arun were; but she had never seen many of them, since they got hardly with Vida along.

"How?" Caryn repeated and shrugged. "I guess it 'could' be claimed to be self-defence. Well, let's see. Some bad guys were set on killing me – only they got killed in the end." Her tone was dry, but laced with bitterness. No, she never wanted any of this.

"What? They did what? You aren't kidding about that, are you?" Sarah muttered.

"No, I'm not, believe me. They really had wanted to kill me. Come to think about, they looked pretty professional." Caryn explained. "They came after us at Erinna's in the middle of the night. I had just awoken from a particular weird dream when I heard them."

"And you went out to see what's going on, weren't you?"

"Yes, I was." Caryn nearly whispered. "That was when I met him, that fool." She shivered at the memory then shook her head. "He hasn't given me any other choice." Her voice trembled with emotion, fear, pleasure and guilt all mixed up into a big whirlpool of emotion.

Sarah swallowed uneasily, thinking of what Caryn's words meant, that they meant that the soft healer, she'd known all the time has bitten and killed a human being. Caryn had done what she was afraid of ever since she had been turned into this, a vampire.

"They were humans?" she asked.

"Yeah, I think so."

"How? How did they know you were there? And more important, why did they try to kill you?" Sarah asked agitated.

"I don't know. They're dead now, that's all I know." She answered hoarsely.

"But you live here alone, at SingleEarth. What if they come for you again?" Sarah gave her another worried glance. "You know I doubt my mother or any other Vida would help you in this?"

"I'll know, but –"

"But what? You cannot continue living here alone under all those other pacifists, Caryn. There's nobody to protect you here." Sarah was almost yelling, expressing her frustration. She found it hard to understand this certain Smoke witch. Sarah didn't know what to think about her, now. On the one hand she still was as peaceful - and warm, as any of them but on the other side she just found out there was just this feeling of something primal, something dangerous if roused. "Fire," she thought, "that's what she reminds me of."

Caryn swallowed uneasily, remembering the last time. "Maybe I don't need anybody." She said ironically, but her eyes held no smile and her voice sounded far to jaded to her own ears. Well, there was nothing she could do.

"That's bullshit and you know that, Caryn!" Sarah paced uneasily.

Caryn just said nothing.

Sarah swirled around, tossing her long hair. "You know I could take you with me to Christopher."

"To do what? Make Dominique Vida even more mad at me, than she already is at you, Sarah?" Caryn snorted.

Sarah just gave her an annoyed look, but it wasn't meant for her. "No Caryn, mother isn't mad at me. I don't exist to her, anymore." She tried to sound aloof, but her voice cracked more then once. "No, I'm not her daughter, I'm her enemy now."

"You shouldn't be." Caryn whispered, soft as falling leaves in autumn. She took her into her arms and let go of herself. She sobbed with her.

They remained like that – for a long while.

"So, you gonna come Caryn?" Sarah whispered into her ear, finely.

"Yeah, guess I do," she said with a yarn, "but not tonight."

"All right," Sarah agreed and yarned herself, even it wasn't really necessary for her. "I'll stay we you." Sarah gave Caryn another gaze and felt suddenly very confused. Why did she feel so protective about this Smoke witch? They hadn't been exactly friends before. Hell, they hardly got along. But now? Now everything had changed.


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Author's Note:

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The first lines are about Blind Guardian's Mirror Mirror, but they could also equally belong to the fairytale Snow-white or may be a little Alice in Wonderland as you might notice in the headers.

I know it has been a really, really long time without updates but, well, I didn't got and good ideas on how to write this I wanted to do. It's still a little sloppish and there might be more typos than I'd like to have but well, I did update.