Across Worlds

Adriane Charday stood before a huge gothic window in Ravenswood Manor. She raised a hand to the giant window, cold from the March window billowing across the fields beyond the gardens. A tear fell down her face, perfectly matching the raindrops streaking down the pane. She left it there…she'd hardly cried in all her sixteen years, she deserved a stray tear now and then. She could remember every time, as a matter of fact…she, Adriane, the Warrior mage of Avalon, had only cried four times after the age of eight. One: her parents were driving away from Gran's house in a bright yellow taxi, and a nine-year-old her was running down the gravel road after them as fast as she could, bawling her eyes out. It hadn't been enough to make them stay. Two: she'd gotten in a fight with a 6'th grade bully. He'd blackened her eye—she'd broken his nose. It was enough to make one cry a little, though.

Three: Storm died. Or, instead, they'd thought she had. Now that Storm was back in a permanent way, those tears seemed silly. She could see her once-packmate anytime she wanted. Adriane rubbed a hand over her jewel fondly. Storm was only a summons away.

The Warrior's eyes clouded over as she remembered the fourth and last time she'd cried. The reason she'd been walking around in a cloud of confusion and hurt feelings for the last month. The reason she stood crying in front of this dark window now…her fifth time.

Number four: she'd left Zach.

The words burned like brands through her mind as she rolled them around in her head. She'd left Zach. I've left him. I did it. I left Zach. Over and over, she thought all the possible ways of saying it for the millionth time that month. And she hated herself more than ever. Adriane raised a clenched fist to rest it on the windowpane. He couldn't possibly hate her more than she loathed herself. 'And of course he hates me,' she thought bitterly. 'Who wouldn't, after that…?' The moment flashed through her mind again as it had all month, like tiny drops of water that would wear away at even a giant stone over time.

Zach stood at the other end of the clearing, a look of incredulence on his face, hands limp at his side. "Wh…what did you say?"

Adriane smiled across at him. The only hint that she was crying was her pink-tinged cheeks, but that could be attributed to the chill air. The helpful rain hid her tears. She kept her voice steady as she repeated herself, every word like a chisel chinking away at her heart. "I'm going back to Earth. For good. It's all over and the web, the Fairimentals…Avalon doesn't need us anymore. So w-we…all of us decided…to go back to Earth."

Zach was looking increasingly more confused. "Why would you want to…you're not even going to visit! Ozzie's staying here, and Tweek…what about the Drake, he'll be heartbroken! Wh…what about me?" He asked, his voice breaking. "Adriane—"

She couldn't let him say her name. If she heard it from his lips again, she'd break. "You don't GET it!" Adriane snapped, glaring across at him. "I've got a LIFE to go back to on Earth. We've all done our job, and if we don't leave now…"she crossed her arms, staring miserably at the ground. She couldn't face him, she couldn't look Zach in the eye. She knew what she had to do. It would be so much easier if he just hated her…but legions of beasts and the Spider Witch's armies were nothing compared to this battle of emotions.

Zach stared at her, refusing to break his gaze. "So…your life on Earth…doesn't include me." Adriane shook her head, still hanging. She could feel Zach staring from the other side of the clearing. A twig crunched as he took a step forwards—she snapped her head up to look at him. The boy froze. This time she met his gaze squarely, evenly. 'No uncertainty…don't let him see the truth…' she sobbed internally, matching his stare with hers. The first one to break would have the upper hand.

It was Zach.

Adriane shook her head wildly, clutching herself in a tight hold as she wiped the memory of him turning quickly to run from the clearing from her mind. Only then had she let herself be weak, let herself break down and slump against a tree, bawling her eyes out over hurting the last person in her world who deserved it, and knowing that she could never tell him she was sorry. And it was there that Ambia and Gwigg had found her an hour later, having come to escort her to the portal to Earth…the Warrior mage, savior of Avalon, brought to her knees by one boy.

She wouldn't tear him from his world. He may have originally been from Earth, but Aldenmor was his home, and he loved it. But if they stayed together, how could that ever work? Eventually they'd want to get married (and that was a problem in itself: did they HAVE such a thing as marriage on Aldenmor? And if they did, what would it be? She couldn't imagine it would be just like on Earth) and then where would they live? As much as Adriane loved Aldenmor, and no matter how much she was bonded to the world itself as its protector and through the mistwolf pack, she couldn't live there…not without driving herself crazy. She'd even miss her parents, though she hardly ever saw them anyways. They still loved her" she couldn't abandon them just like she couldn't abandon the rest of her life.

She would miss Earth, everything about it…its conveniences, certainly, and all of her friends. Of course Emily would be staying here…she and Kyle Davies were engaged to be married when Emily turned eighteen, though no one knew it except the mages and a few other close friends. The parents of both the bride and groom-to-be would freak if they were aware. 'Good for you, Em…' Adriane thought, surprised by the level of bitterness that came with it. 'You get to live happily ever after. You and Kara are even gonna be sisters-in-law.' That didn't solve her problem.

Kara, at least, knew how she felt…one of the few things they could relate in. Kara had dumped Lorren in the same manner as Adriane with Zach. Only now that they were back to daily life on Earth, the difference was obvious: Kara didn't have Adriane's emotional mask. The toll it took on her was more obvious every day: she barely ate, and often didn't go outside until the sun went down. The first time after their "triumphant" return to Ravenswood that the dragonflies had appeared, she'd screamed abuse at them until, cowed and hurt, they had popped out. They hadn't come back since, and Kara showed little remorse: any reminder of the Fairy Realms or Lorren set her off. She had left her magical entourage of beauty products in the Fairy Realms as well, much to their horror. She barely cared for her hair or clothes any more, and it was a rare occasion when she wore makeup. It was almost as if she was trying to become as ugly as possible. The fact that her natural beauty still shone without prompting seemed only to infuriate her, and whenever a boy paid her a compliment she seemed to cringe. The Davies, utterly convinced that something was wrong with their daughter, had signed her up with a psychiatrist on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. She suffered through the sessions only because she could find no way to avoid going to them. Kyle was the only one with a clue about her behavior, because Emily had told him all about their adventures in Aldenmor (after consulting her fellow mages for permission) when the young couple had agreed to never keep secrets from each other. After the initial shock, Kyle proved the most loyal of all, sticking by Emily and Kara as she grieved over the Goblin prince.

Adriane was a far better actor. The only time her feelings had gotten out was when they'd first returned, and Gran had picked up on Adriane's distress with her innate sixth sense. But other then Gran and her friends, Adriane never let anyone know that day by day, her heart broke a little more. 'Soon it will fall apart into a million pieces, and I'll die…' Adriane thought numbly. She really didn't care anymore. The sooner she died, the sooner she could get to Heaven and wait to see Zach again. Morbid thoughts, she knew, but a regular life no longer held much fascination for her anymore. Sure, she went on from day to day, but she did so with the memories of all that had happened in all the worlds they'd been to, all the spells they'd mastered, the power they'd gained and then lost in the final battle, their jewels left with barely enough magic to sustain themselves as a stupid mistake sent almost all of their magic draining into another giant crystal of their nemesis' invention. If it hadn't been for the unicorns that had rushed to their aid, or if the famous Henry Gardener hadn't decided to make a surprise appearance and intercept a deadly bolt of magic meant for Emily, or if Kara hadn't arrived with the final power crystal in time, they'd all be dead. The memories of the glorious celebration in the Fairy Glen followed, with bright colors, music and dancing. Between had come to perform. Mr. Gardener was buried with the highest honors of all races everywhere in Aldenmor. The unicorns announced that the web had only been majorly damaged in some places, and over time—albeit lots of it—they would be able to restore it to its former condition. The Fairimentals had never been stronger. Ozzie was rewarded with the restoration of his Elven body once more. All of the mages and their allies would go down in Aldenmor's history, and the history of all worlds, forever.

And afterwards, Adriane had taken Zach aside and destroyed both of their worlds.

'No…no! I saved us from so much hurt, so much longing!' Adriane thought desperately as the tears refused to stop falling down her face. 'It would NEVER have worked out! I couldn't stay in Aldenmor, I couldn't, not permanently. And Zach would have tried to come live on Earth, but he wouldn't last long here at all! He'd make himself miserable, he didn't have any schooling and therefore wouldn't be able to hold down a job. What could he do but stay at Ravenswood all the time and look after the preserve? Zach HATES feeling useless, he'd drive himself crazy, but he'd still try to endure it…for me,' Adriane whimpered internally. Moving back and forth between worlds, as they'd originally planned, was no longer an option: in a last burst of retaliation, the Spider witch had ripped apart the piece of her third attempt at a tapestry-reweave of the web, sending that part of the web into oblivion as she was ripped to shreds by her own dark magic. It had only been possible to get the mages home again by a very fragile strand of leftover web, which had all but fallen away after the mages re-entered the solid world of Earth. Web travel between Earth and any other world was now nearly impossible. So, left with no other options, Adriane and Kara had gone through with their Plan B: making everybody miserable for the sake of a normal reality.

Adriane blinked miserably out at the rain. Dreamer had stayed with the pack on Aldenmor, with his mate, a pretty little she-wolf named Russet. It had been like moving mountains to convince him to stay there and not return with Adriane and the others. Now that there was no longer a threat, the refugees from Aldenmor had returned there, making Ravenswood nothing but a real wildlife preserve. Nothing magical remained in this world except Kara, Emily, and Adriane…and Storm, who still sustained the essence of Ravenswood's magic and kept it tied to the other magic realms…in essence, at least. The already-dark sky was now darkening even more rapidly. 'It's almost nighttime,' Adriane thought hollowly. 'Another day goes bye-bye.' Thunder boomed across the preserve, as the ex-mage turned away from her window, wiping the betraying tears away. She wouldn't show weakness: it would only depress Emily, and Kara needed support more than she did now. She'd see Zach in her dreams that night, anyway. And the night after that, and the one after that…for the rest of eternity. She'd already made a promise to herself to never be with anybody else, ever. She doubted she could even make herself forget. Zach was still the love of her heart. And they could always be together in her dreams.

Suddenly Adriane was shocked into her senses again...her wolf stone was pulsing. The nearly-dormant jewel was reacting to some magic, a strong magic nearby. So close! Was it another threat? Her jewel was barely conscious: if there was a new evil approaching, she would be almost defenseless, and with the web nearby in ruins, she could expect no reinforcements. Storm was Ravenswood's last hope, but she might very well be too weak to fend off a major threat. And whatever this new magic was, it felt strong. And close: getting closer by the minute. It was in the portal field now. Sick with dread, Adriane spun out of the library and bolted for the field as fast as she could. No matter how futile, Ravenswood wouldn't go down without a fight.

A/N: Well, isn't that angsty! n.n Don't worry ya'll it gets better. I'll have the next chapter up very soon, this'll be a short one. (I could've made it a one-shot if I'd really wanted, but it would've taken awhile, and I find my fics easier to digest in small bites.) By the way, this IS Adriane/Zach, and Kara/Lorren. I wouldn't pair them up with those nobodies, Joey and Marcus. Call me prejudiced, but I just don't like minor characters, especially uninteresting ones! U.U; Oh well. Review nicely please, and you'll get a cookie! n.n 'Ta!