BELLA

The manour was unusually quiet that morning. The dreary day outside reflected the atmosphere in the attic, rain pelting against the window and drowning out any other noises. The grandfather clock across the room ticked, my eyes following the pendulum swinging back and forth. Back and forth. I sighed, rubbing my tired eyes, groaning in frustration.

My ring was tucked away safe and sound in the top drawer of Tanya's dresser, where she'd put it three days, seventeen hours, and a handful of minutes ago. Minutes were just too hard to count. Yeah, I was going a little crazy, but I hadn't reached minute counting crazy yet. Or...I hadn't gone back to it yet?

Hmm. Things were still a little unclear, a little hazy for me. I couldn't remember much after the fight with all the warlocks in the Cullens' front yard, and part of me was thankful. I'd never felt so...there wasn't even a word to describe the state I was in when I'd gotten that chest back. No one would really talk about it, either, and when Tanya had no words, you knew things were bad.

The little bits and pieces I could remember didn't seem to help me figure anything out. They were confusing and sometimes downright nonsensical. Like troll hair. That was the clearest thing I could remember, troll hair. What the hell was that supposed to mean? I did know that the spell Jessica used (Jessica of all people! What the hell, to that too!) was powerful and dark. I'd heard of it a couple times in passing over the years, and to know that I'd been infected with it...

Honestly, I was surprised I was still around and not locked up somewhere, drooling down my chin. Though even with the Witchdoctor's help, I wasn't at one hundred percent again. While the spell had infected my mind, all the dark magic it took infected my body. I'd become the horror stories Charlie used to tell us to make us behave. A Dark Witch. Or Black Witch, depending on your culture, but I always felt kinda racist when I said it.

Eve had said that the best thing I could do was step away from all magic until it was drained out of my system, so Tanya and Kate had gone around and started locking things up. My wicca chest in my room. They'd cleared out the attic, where I currently sat on the couch. They took my potions and ring, medallions, salts, gems, basically all my ingrediants. Duchess was kept in Kate's room, under lock and key, and Tanya pinched me every time I used an incantation or my affinity.

But, like, pinched me really, really hard. I had bruises!

The withdrawl from dark magic was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. The magic was strong, powerful, and I could feel it in my body. Pulsing through my veins, coursing through my being, ready to be unleashed. It was addictive, and just the thought of it made my fingers twitch.

"Stop it," I huffed to myself quietly. I looked down at my hands, the faded black veins a stark contrast against my pale skin. A reminder of what I'd lose myself to if I gave in. Dark witches were...evil. Okay, maybe that was a little much, they weren't all evil, but none of them were good. Fallen from grace and the scum of the magical community, to be locked up on sight. Even those known to help them were punished. I shivered, wrapping my arms around myself, looking back out the window.

Alice was out there, somewhere, hunting with her family. This was the first time since they'd found me in the woods that she had left my side, and only because I pleaded with her to go. She'd had darker circles under her eyes than me, and I knew she was in pain. Vampires couldn't starve, according to Carlisle, but he said the longer they went without blood, the more it hurt. Burned. Until they were consumed with hunger.

Nobody around here needed that. We'd had enough drama to last a life time, and I felt bad knowing that it was my fault. Jessica's fault, really, but who wouldn't blame themselves just a little if in my shoes? Intentionally or not, I was the cause of this.

"That's very true. You are the cause of this," Irina agreed, perched on the seat in the window. "How very objective of you."

Yet another grievance in my life. My guilt followed me around everywhere, in a much more literal sense than common. She...he? It was always there, always yammering in my ear about this and that. Not taking the trash out. Unintentionally killing family and friends. Blaming Kate for Tanya's last muffin going missing. Absolutely everything wrong I did, it swooped in, throwing it all in my face.

Between it and the dark magic and everyone treating me like a glass doll, I was going to lose my mind! Again!

Charlie sighed, his moustache twitching. "Yeah, 'cause that's what we all need. Another loop around the crazy bend."

"Would you shut up for one second!" I seethed, burying my face in a couch cushion.

The door of the attic cracked open, Kate sticking her head inside. "Bella? What are you doing up here?" She asked, walking into the room.

I lifted my head from the cushion enough to peek up at her. My face was buried in the couch at one end, knees digging into the crack at the other and butt sticking in the air, with my hands trying to strangle the arm of the couch in front of me. I couldn't exactly grab my guilt, but if I could it wouldn't be breathing. No sir! "Yoga," I replied slowly, sitting up on my heels and reaching towards the ceiling. "This is where I do my yoga. It's very peaceful. What do you want?"

She raised an eyebrow at me but didn't comment, sitting down on the arm of the couch I'd just been trying to kill. "You weren't in your room, so I came looking for you. You wanna do something today?"

"You mean, when you didn't know my exact location for a split second, you panicked and thought I'd gone off the deep end again or started slaughtering the townsfolk of Forks?" I asked with a scowl.

Kate sighed, giving me a look. "Bella."

"No, hey, I get it." I said, holding my hands up. "Bella's a psychotic Dark Witch now. I'm just so glad I have your guys' faith. Really, it's heartwarming to know how much you trust me."

She reached over and flicked me, with a glare on her face. "It's not like that, Bella. You were gone for...so long, you almost died, we almost couldn't bring you back. You can't blame us for keeping a closer eye on you. We lost you once, we don't want to lose you again."

The grandfather clock chimed twice and I sighed deeply, chewing on my nails. "Sorry. Just...sorry. I'm just feeling a little...ansty. Jittery. I-I-I don't like this, my blood is itchy. Maybe if I just had my ring back?"

"You know I can't do that, Bella. No magic. It will get better, you'll see." Kate patted my knee, getting to her feet. "Now come downstairs for some lunch before the Cullens get back, hm?"

I watched her leave back through the door again, my feeble smile falling into a grimace.

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"Oh, I love this episode!" Alice chimed, pointing at the television screen. She bounced on the couch next to me, golden eyes wide with excitement.

Chuckling at her antics, I nodded my head. "Hmm, yeah, it's a good one."

The pixie looked over at me, her smile dimming. "What wrong, Bella?"

"Nothing," I lied. "Really, I'm just a little tired. I can't sleep lately."

Alice frowned, muting the television as she grabbed my hand. "Are you still unconsciously absorbing our energy?"

Yeah. I wish. At least then I would know how to stop it. "No, no I'm just..." I cleared my throat, bloodshot eyes stinging, and took a shaky breath. "I'm fine. Just a bout of insomnia."

"Please don't lie to me, Bella." Alice said and I frowned. Damn it, I hated when Alice got that look. Hurt and disappointed. Gosh, it was like the only face she had around me anymore. It's not like she could help me even if she did know I was having withdrawl, so why bother telling her. She'd just get depressed.

She watched me play with a lock of my hair, twisting it around and around my finger. "F-fine. I'm just...quitting magic cold turkey is harder than it sounds. Sometimes I feel a l-little...you know," I made a face.

"I understand," Alice nodded with a warm smile. "I know what it's like to deal with addiction, Bella. Sometimes just the thought of blood makes me hungry. Maybe you could talk to Carlisle about your magic, he's really helpful with learning self-control."

My fingers trembled and I had to bite my lip to keep the sarcastic snipes at bay. "It's, uh, it's not the same, Alice," I laughed weakly, shaking my head.

"Trust me, Bella. He can help," she insisted, squeezing my hand. Her eyes were so hopeful, her smile so kind and sweet, and all I could do was sit there, struggling to not snap at her. "The desire to give in gets overwhelming sometimes, until all you can focus on is the hunger. There's nothing else but the flame in your throat."

Oh god, no. No, it wasn't...

Not her fault. It's not her fault. She's just trying to help...don't snap... but every. Single. Time. Every time they said they understood, it made me burn. Lit the fuse. They didn't understand. They didn't!

I heaved in a deep breath, holding my head in my hands and stared down at my feet. "No, it's not like that. I'm not starving myself, Alice!"

"Bella-" she tried but it was too late. She'd opened the gate and I couldn't stop all my frustration and anger, my annoyance and rage from seeping out.

I roughly pushed myself to my feet, pressing the heel of my palm into my forehead, trying to make it stop throbbing. "You don't get it...none of you get it..." I muttered, chewing on my lip until it stung. "You have no idea what it's like to have the entire world at your fingertips and do nothing! I can make the sky tremble but instead I'm standing here trying to make you comprehend the unknowable." I whined in frustration, heart hammering in my chest. "None of you can possibly understand what I'm going through!"

Alice was up on her feet, face ablaze with a fury I'd never seen before. She jabbed her finger in my chest, hard enough that I knew there'd be a bruise when I looked, and stalked forward until my back met the wall. "No, you don't seem to understand, Bella." Her voice was calm and even, yet more intimidating than my rage. "We're just trying to help you. I'm just trying to help you because I do know how hard this is. Don't you dare try to lecture me about the temptation of power, little girl, I've been struggling with it for more than one hundred years. You may be able to make the sky tremble, but if I ever gave in-" Alice leaned in, her cheek grazing mine, cool breath tickling my ear. "I'd bathe the world in blood."

Holy shite!

The rage that plagued me seconds ago vanished, replaced with trepidation at her words, her tone. The look on her face and the seriousness in her eyes that told me she wasn't joking, she wasn't exaggerating for the benefit of the situation.

Was it bad that a part of me found it insanely attractive? I knew it was probably the dark magic's shadow in my emotions, and my desire of power realizing the abundance that Alice had, but still. Hot damn.

I took a shuddering breath, slowly reaching up to tuck away the lock of black hair that had fallen in her face, resting my hand on her cheek. "I'm sorry," I whispered. Alice's burning amber eyes flickered down, watching my other hand gently grip her waist. A majority of her anger had left as well, the second our skin touched, and I could see her inner struggle of trying to hold onto it.

But, I mean, really, she expected me to do nothing about the position we were in? She lightly glared back up at me, her posture not so stiff anymore. "Bella," she cautioned, her voice almost stern.

"I don't want to fight." I said innocently with a shrug of my shoulders. "I didn't mean to snap at you, I'm just so frustrated and angry lately. This is all so much harder than I thought it would be, and I know you guys want to help me but there's nothing you can do to make the pain stop." I sighed, resting my forehead against hers. "But I don't want to yell at you anymore. I don't want to fight with any of you. I just want things to be how they were again."

The pixie wrapped her arms around me, holding me closer to her. "I know, Bella, so do I. It's going to take time until we get there again." She looked up at me, golden eyes burning. "We will get there, though. I promise."

I nodded, giving her a small smile that she attacked with her lips.

We would get there again, I'd make sure of it.

And I knew the quickest way.

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The tiny little screen lit up, Alice's name and a smiley face greeting me. I smiled, pocketing my phone and sidestepping a couple walking the opposite way I was. Other people scrambled around the street, desperate in their last minute shopping.

Honestly, I was a little surprised how many people were still out on Christmas Eve, not that I could blame them. I'd had a couple more things to pick up for Tanya and Rosalie, mostly just stocking stuffers, but still.

My breath curled out in the crisp night air as I whistled a Christmas tune under my breath. It was beautiful that night, not too cold, but still enough to give you rosy cheeks and a pink nose. The sky was almost completely clear with bright stars shining down on me, snow flakes blowing through the air and landing on my coat.

Someone's hand gripped the material of my coat and I was violently dragged into an empty alleyway and shoved against the metal dumpster. My bag of presents slid through the snow beneath the dumpster, my shoulder throbbing. I looked up at my attacker, faultering when I met the familiar face of Jessica.

Uhhhh. Wasn't she supposed to be in Council custody?

Was this seriously how bad my luck was?

"Isabella," she breathed out with a small smile. Relieved, like I'd been...I don't know, kidnapped again? "It's so good to see your face again, I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to."

The snow froze my already numb fingers when I pushed myself back up to my feet. "I thought Eve was taking you to the Council?"

Jessica shrugged her shoulders. "I gave her the slip when we ran into some trouble. My grandpa is very protective of me and he has a lot of friends."

"Is she okay?"

The smile on her face fell, eyes zeroing in on my hands. "She got away – what do you think you're doing? Are you really going to use your affinity on me, Isabella? Have you not learned that you can't beat me?" She opened her coat up to show me the hunk of silver hanging around her neck, shaped like a pentagram with old Romanian script enraved on it. A protection amulet.

"Well that's just cheating," I muttered, crossing my arms over my chest.

She stepped forward, clasping her hands in front of her. "Can't you see that we're meant to be, Isabella? Nothing can keep us apart, not even that Witchdoctor. Please, just come with me. We can runaway together, start a new life somewhere else."

I sighed, rubbing my forehead. "I'm getting really sick of this, Jessica."

"I'm trying to make this easy for you, my love." She said, her tone losing the warmth. "I want you to choose me this time, but I won't take no for an answer. You're coming with me either way."

The wind swept through the alley we were in, dancing with our hair and my scarf. I looked down towards the end and the empty street, wondering if anyone could see us from there. Doubtful. "You're going to be very disappointed then, Jess." She stepped forwards again, a pout on her face and I raised my hand up, looking at the pale skin. "Your dark spell there had a nifty little sideaffect."

"I didn't want to have to do this." She said with a frown, reaching out-

The veins in the back of my hand grew darker until they reached that faded black again, spreading up my wrists and reaching towards my elbows. I knew there were a couple in my neck and face, the whites of my eyes matching. My dark magic breaking through the glamour I'd had up. I looked up, watching Jessica pinned against the brick wall, struggling against nothing. "The Council lied to us. They said Dark Magic was an evil power that corrupts the host, a taint that all Wiccan should be wary of and take precautions against. They're wrong. It's not power, it's knowledge."

Jessica groaned in pain as the pressure holding her against the wall strengthened. I tilted my head to the side, marvelling at the energy surrounding her, watching it pulse and dance, moving like water, looking like glowing dust. "Did you know that absolutely everything, everywhere has its own energy? Can you even imagine the potential here? I have you to thank for this, Jessica. You've opened up a whole new world to me."

She gasped when I disappeared from view, Blinking right up in front of her like the Warlocks from the the fight. I leaned in close, watching her try to shrink back away from me, and pressed my fingers against her forehead. "Unfortunately you hurt Alice in the process, and I won't let that go unpunished."

Her eyes filled up with black ink as she slid down the wall, staring off into space. Infected by the Intuneric Ceata spell, like she had done to me all those days go. I crouched down, waving my hand in front of her unresponsive face and smirked. "Okay, maybe it's a little power too."

"Brava," Irina hummed, clapping her hands as she leaned against the wall next to Jessica. "That was spectacularly dramatic. And infecting her with the spell she used on you? Poetic justice, I tell you."

I stood back up, dusting the snow off of my coat. "I don't feel bad. She was sick and she did it to me first. I'm entitled to my own revenge." My eyes locked on hers and narrowed. "I have nothing to feel guilty about. Begone!"

"Did I say anything about guilt?"

"Stop looking at me then," I snapped, waving my hand at the dumpster and watching it fly off down the alley.

Carmen was there in my face again when I straightened up from grabbing my bag of presents. I huffed, turning my back on it and walked back out to the street. "So your conscience is clean then?"

"Yes," I insisted, crossing my arms over my chest. My skin tingled as the glamour settled over me again, eyes shooting back over to Jessica's slumped form. She sat in the snow, face pink from the cold, lost in her own head. "She deserves it."

"Hmm, right. Right," it nodded, rubbing its hands together and blowing on them. Could a manifestation of my psyche get cold? "What about your sisters? Alice? Have you told anyone about the dark magic yet? I think they'd probably want to know you're using."

My jaw clenched. "They don't need to know. I'm in control. I'm fine. Now leave me alone!" I snarled, whirling around to grab the man walking past. He gasped, looking at me with wide eyes, like I was insane. Who just randomly grabs people these days? "Where is the nearest homeless shelter?" He stared blankly at me. "Homeless shelter, where is it!"

The man spluttered, pointing in a vague direction. "On f-fifth!"

"Thank you, merry Christmas!" I growled, shoving him off down the sidewalk and stalking back into the alley towards Jessica. My hand gripped the front of her coat, jerking her up to her feet. She was like a giant ragdoll. "She deserves to freeze after everything she's done to me, but if it gets you to leave me alone, I'll drop her off at the shelter."

As I gazed upon her blank face, eyes void of anything; thoughts, emotions, light, I felt the briefest of flickers in my chest. My innocence, or perhaps the old Bella, fading away with a whimper in the night.

My last regret for a long time to come.

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Kind of an abrupt end. And a shorter chapter, but that's because it's an epilogue of sorts. The VERY LAST CHAPTER of MAGICK.

Don't go jumping down my throat about all the things left unfinished, unsaid, undone, etc. This isn't the end of the story, Bella's story. This is just the end of the first book. The sequel is already in planning stages, but I won't start putting it out until I've done some other things first. But what you can look forward to in it is: Bella's new addiction to Dark Magic, her struggle with her Guilt, the Volturi finding out about Wiccans still being alive, and the Wiccan's reaction. Those are just the pig plot points, theres a few smaller ones, like wedding bells for SOMEONE. When the time comes, I'll post a note chapter here in this story announcing the beginning of the next so you don't have to keep an active eye out.

So, yeah. My very first finished multi-chapter, full length story. Twenty five chapters, four hundred and thirty nine pages, one hundred thirty seven thousand, one hundred and twenty words. It's not much and not the best, though I am proud of it (will definitely be going through and polishing it off a wee bit however), I want to thank those of you who have stuck by Magick and myself. It took some time and I know it couldn't have been easy trying to stay interested in a story with months between updates. But we made it.

I'm not so good with these author notes, guys. I don't really know what to say. Sitting here kinda struggling a little bit. I really want to convey how thankful I am for your time and dedication to this story, for all of your reviews and kind words.

So I just...I'll say thank you, and I want all of you to know that I mean it.

Thank you.

Feel free and encouraged to pm me or leave a review with questions about the sequel or anything Magick related. I'll see you guys around.

...Around, like, one of my other stories. I have a billion, so this isn't goodbye. I'm not too good with those, either. Worse than a/n's.

Okay, I'm getting out of here before this horrible thing gets any worse and I start rambling about kangaroos and how they lead predators to bodies of water and drown them.

Seriously! If something's following them, they'll lead it to a body of water to drown it! This is an actual thing, guys! I'm terrified of kangaroos now, I'm... not rambling.

-Paige.