Author's note: This is the first fanfic I've ever written, so please review it and let me know what you think. I've really been wanting to write this for a week or so. I loved HDM except for the end of the Amber Spyglass, so I just had to write this to make myself feel better. This is just the first part; I have about 5 or 6 more chapters planned out. And of course, I don't own any of the characters in HDM, etc, etc... you know the drill.

She sat alone in the small dormroom of St. Sophia's School for girls, hunched over a little golden instrument, her pine marten dæmon close beside her. Her hands flashed quickly over the intricate symbols, but not nearly as quick as they had done before. Finally they stopped, and she waited for the slender needle to move, and to answer the question she so longed to know, but it didn't budge. She let out a small sigh of exasperation, and hung her head, letting her golden curls fall over her ears.

The spunk was gone from her, instead replaced by a serene sadness that permeated to her very soul. She no longer shunned formal occasions to go running through the street with the gyptian children, or to explore the hidden caverns of Jordan College. In place of the fiery child was now a beautiful young lady, but with just a glance you could tell that she was filled with sorrow. And yet there was a determined glint in her eye, and she went to again move the hands of the instrument.

"Lyra, I really think we should go. There's a social tonight, and it would be the perfect time for you to mingle with some of the other girls," suggested her dæmon, sounding very much like one of the professors at school. "You've been here five years and you still have no friends. And it's no wonder, every day right after classes you run back here to work with the alethiometer."

"Oh Pan, you know I couldn't do that. I have to practice. Dame Hannah says it's the only way I'll ever be able to read it again. And you know as well as I do that none of the girls would ever accept me, even if I tried. So why even bother."

Five years? Had it really been five years since... Oh she could barely even say it, five years since she had said goodbye to Will in Cittagazze. She had thought of him ever minute since their parting and she had sworn that she would never let herself forget. She would have given anything to have been with him, even if it only could have been ten years, they would have been so happy, but she knew that he would have never let her do that. And so she had to come back, back to the tiresome life at this boring school.

But it wasn't really so bad, she tried to tell herself. Her and Pan had accepted the offer to come to St. Sophia's, because they had no other place to go. The headmistress was very nice, and Dame Hannah was giving her lessons with the alethiometer, but Will wasn't here, and Lyra felt very sure that no matter where she was she would be unhappy, unless Will was there with her. But the angel had said that was impossible.

That was what the angel had said, but Lyra couldn't quite bring herself to believe it. And it was because of that nagging feeling inside of her that she ran back to her room ever day after class to ask the alethiometer the same question, "Will I ever see Will again?" and the answer was always the same.

She had first asked that question three years ago, when she had finally learned enough to be sure she was using all the right symbols. Lyra had been so excited and fearful at the same time, for she was so afraid that the answer would be no. And she promised that if it was no, she would try to move on, and do what the angel said. There must be some reason why she needed he whole life, and she had to make sure enough Dust was generated to keep the window to the dead opened. She had promised, and it was her only condolence to know that she and Will could be together when they died. But until she knew that there was no hope for them while they were alive, she just could not put anything before his memory.

But all her anxiety had been for nothing, for the alethiometer would give her no answer, and three years passed with the same results. She asked the same question each and every night, and never once did the needle even twitch. She just couldn't understand it. She could ask it other questions, like "What will the weather be like tomorrow?" or "How is Iorek doing in Svalbard?" and she always got an answer, although it was extremely tedious to have to use the many books to find out what it meant. But she could not comprehend why it always failed her when she asked the thing that was the most important to her.

After another failed attempt she threw the golden compass down and laid down in defeat.

"Lyra, I really think that some friends would do you good," pleaded Pantalaimon with a worried tone in his voice.

"I agree Pan, I really do, but after what happened with Iorek and Serafina? The girls were so hateful, just cause Iorek and Serafina are different. They don't know them. And they'd never be able to understand anything I've been through. All they do is gossip and talk about other stupid petty things I'll never care about. So what's the point of even trying?"

Lyra had fully intended to come to this school and make lots of new friends. She knew it wouldn't be easy, for she was nothing like these girls, but she wasn't expecting what she found. About a month after she had come, she thought she was making some progress. There was a group of girls who she sat with at lunch and she really though they could be her friends. But then something changed all that.

The next day Lyra was called out of class and told she had a visitor. She was so overjoyed to find it was Serafina Pekkula, come to make sure she was alright. How happy she was to see her witch friend.

"How are you Lyra my dear?" she had asked with such concern in her voice, and for the first time since she and Will had parted, she had felt a little better.

And the two of them had talked, and Lyra had asked about her parents, and Serafina truthfully answered. Lyra was somewhat sad to hear that they were both dead, but somehow she had known that all along, and her parents had barely loved her anyway. Often times she wondered if they even loved her at all, and she remembered how her mother had tried to harm her so many times, but she could at least be assured that they had died together, and because they took the Regent angel down with them, Dust would continue to flow through the many worlds.

But as they talked and Lyra tried to convince the witch queen that she was alright, the other students began to notice them. A large crowd gathered and the word "witch" had soon circulated through the entire school. And after Serafina had to return to her clan, the whole school isolated itself from Lyra, and no one would sit with her at lunch anymore.

If that was not bad enough, a few months later Lyra had another visitor, the great bear king Iorek Byrnison. He came trouping right up the street to the school, and Lyra ran to meet him. Her heart leapt with joy to see the great bear again, but the whole school shrank from him in fear. Even the headmistress seemed quite uneasy. Nevertheless, she had a great visit with him.

He had seen the sadness in her eye, and he asked what had put it there. She realized that he had no idea what had happened since she and Will had escaped into the world of the mulefa, so she told him about Will, and finding their dæmons, and what the angel had said. And then she got to the part about what their dæmons had said about the knife, and she broke into tears.

"Oh Iorek, you were right about Will's knife. It had its own plans. Every time Will used it Dust was escaping, and he had to close all the windows and go back to his world and break the knife. And the angel said there would be no more traveling through world for us, and I miss him so much."

"Lyra Silvertongue, do not be sad. Will was fierce and strong, and I am sure he pines for you as well. He is the only human who has ever tricked me, and I'm sure he could trick an angel as well."

"What do you mean Iorek?'

"Do not give up hope, for I feel that you will see him again someday."

"Oh Iorek you do?"

"Yes, and you know I would never lie to you. But now I must go, it is a long journey back to Svalbard and the bears have been without a king long enough. The angels have restored the balance and our home is once more livable." He then looked around at all the frightened onlookers, and continued, "I'd love to see you again, but I think it is best for you if I do not come back here. But you are always welcome in my kingdom, and I do hope you will visit me there."

Lyra had promised she would, and hugged him goodbye, and saw the mighty white bear leave the school, and watched him go until he was just a little white spot on the horizon, and then even that was gone.

But when she went back inside no one would go near her, and instead they hovered in packs whispering, "Witch" and "Bear" and all kinds of mean things. Lyra was reminded of Angelicia and the other children of Cittagazze and how hateful they were. She had told Will she had never seen kids like that, and he told her he had, and now she knew just what he meant. And from that moment she knew that she could never have any friends here, and she was extremely tempted to tell the kids that she was a witch, and show them the painful power her and Pan had acquired, but she knew that would only give her more trouble, and so she sadly retreated to her room, excepting her loneliness because she had no other choice.

"No Pan, I'm not going to that social. I'm not going anywhere. In fact," she muttered as she stifled a yawn, "I think I'll just turn in early tonight." And as she snuggled up with Pan, the last thought the crossed her mind was the realization that is was only a week until Midsummer's day.