Hi everyone! This is my first HDM fanfic, so please R&R. I don't own HDM or any of the characters, Philip Pullman does. The only characters I own are the ones I make up. This takes place four years after The Amber Spyglass, so Lyra and Will are sixteen and seventeen.

Lyra frowned at her roommate, Celia. She clutched Pantalaimon a little tighter as she listened to her roommate talk.

"Oh come on, Lyra. You have to come to the party. It's going to be such fun. There are going to be boys there too! There will be dancing and games, Lyra, please come! You avoid boys so much; it's not good. The other girls are talking. Plus, for marriage later on you need to hang around more with guys. So please come!"

Celia realized she had made a mistake the second she finished speaking. Pantalaimon, Lyra's pine marten daemon's fur bristled and it bared its teeth. She also noticed rage appear in Lyra's eyes. Celia knew Lyra had a bad temper, and didn't know what to do. Celia's cat daemon, Dongwalo, shrunk against her leg in fear. Dongwalo was a Siamese cat. Celia had long dark hair and bright green eyes.

"No, Celia. I don't think I will come."

Celia nodded. Dongwalo leapt into her arms and Celia turned and walked away.

"Lyra, you should go," Pantalaimon instructed the second Celia and her daemon were gone.

"I know, Pan. I just can't! It doesn't seem right without Will."

"I miss them too. But going to this party seems rather important. I think you should go."

"Oh, Pan, I'll go. I just wish Will could be there."

"What'd I do to get her so mad, Dongwalo?" Celia asked her cat daemon. He looked at her.

"Evidently parties are a touchy subject. No, it's probably the fact that it has boys. I don't know what could have happened to her in the past, but boys are definitely something to avoid with her. Don't bring up the party anymore around Lyra."

"I thought she was going to attack us, she looked so mad! Did you see the way her daemon acted? I thought he was going to jump at you!"

"I know, Celia." He had felt her fear. "I also noticed anger in Lyra's eyes."

"I wish I knew what it was that made her so touchy in that area. The other girls are talking about her. They're calling her names and constantly insulting her because she hasn't had any boyfriends, ever!"

"I have heard them, Celia. The other daemons are talking too. They all can sense something has happened to Lyra in the past, but no one knows what it is."

"She's always going off with Dame Hannah somewhere. We all wonder where she goes then."

"It must be linked to whatever happened to her before."

"Well, I'm just going to find out!" Celia declared.

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Will shut his locker at the end of the day. School had finally gotten out. He was so sick of the same routine, over and over. He could finally go home for the day. He and his mother lived with Dr. Malone in her flat now.

Right after he and Dr. Malone had returned home, Will had gone to get his mother. She was taken to a hospital and examined. Once her mental condition had been evaluated, the long treatment process had begun. Will went to live with Dr. Malone.

Unfortunately, at school, this was the age where girls and boys began to go out. He was at a new school where no one knew him, and many girls were interested in him. He hated it, rejecting each girl who talked to him. No one would ever take Lyra's place. Kirjava told him many times not to do this, but Will hadn't listened. He went on refusing girls and remained with only one friend.

Adam was a tall guy; with the reddest hair anyone had ever seen and blue eyes. He hung out with Will, but Will never understood why. Adam seemed rather popular, with a whole load of friends to choose from. Even with all that, Adam still hung out with Will. Adam had invited Will over many times, and Will had gone once or twice. He had invited Adam back to Dr. Malone's once, knowing Adam wouldn't ask questions.

As Will left the school, he noticed Kirjava sitting up on a tree branch. Her dark fur blended into the shadows left by the leaves. Will walked under the tree and told Kirjava to come down. Kirjava gracefully leapt down to the ground. She padded silently next to him until they were out of anyone's earshot.

"How was school?" Kirjava questioned.

"Boring. What else is new?"

"You sound angry. Did someone else ask you out today?"

"Yeah. That new girl, the preppy one. She didn't know my reputation, but now she does, that's for sure."

"Will, you shouldn't keep turning down these girls. Lyra wouldn't want you to do this!"

Will turned on his daemon. His rage was building and building. He picked Kirjava up angrily. "HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT LYRA WANTS, HUH? I LOVED HER, AND I MISS HER! NO GIRL CAN EVER TAKE HER PLACE, AND I WON'T ALLOW ANY GIRL TO TRY! SO BACK OFF!" He shook Kirjava angrily, and then dropped her.

Kirjava landed perfectly, but you could see that she was hurt. "Will," she whispered, rubbing against his leg. "Please. Don't do this to yourself. I miss them too, but you're hurting yourself so much! Try, Will, try and give one of these girls a chance. Tomorrow you should apologize to this new girl, and go out with her. One date, that's all. An experiment. It would be good for you."

"Fine, Kirjava. One date, that's all! One."

"You won't regret it, Will."

Will walked into Mary's flat and slammed the door.

"Will! Son! I got the job!" Will's mother shouted.

"That's great, Mum!" Will said, hugging his mother. "So you were accepted at the store?"

"Yes! The clothing store accepted me! I start tomorrow! Oh, Will, this is the best thing. Soon we'll be able to move into our own house again. We have the money now, but I want to conserve it for college."

Will nodded and smiled. "I'm really proud of you. It's a great accomplishment, Mum."

"Well, we need to celebrate! I called Dr. Malone, and we're going out for dinner. Nothing too fancy, just a little break from cooking. You need to be ready at six, okay?"

"Sure, Mum," Will answered, and he went into his room. Will fished under his bed and pulled out a small black bag. Inside were the pieces of the Subtle Knife. He fingered each piece. "Oh, Lyra," he whispered. "I miss you so much."

Lyra was sitting in a chair, scowling.

"Come now, Lyra! Don't be angry! You're getting better at this every day. Why, a few years ago these symbols meant nothing. Now you can read it somewhat. I'd be very happy, Lyra."

Lyra scowled at Dame Hannah. "Be happy! How can I be happy? I need to read it now! Reading it somewhat does nothing for me!"

Dame Hannah noticed the old childish rage building in Lyra. Pantalaimon was bearing his teeth. Dame Hannah knew to back off. "Well, Lyra. I will see you tomorrow." She left.

Lyra got up and kicked her chair. "This is the worst! 'Be happy, Lyra. You're getting better every day'. UGH!" Lyra shrieked. She turned and kicked a pedestal with a ceramic vase on the top. The pedestal tipped and the vase went flying. Pantalaimon leaped through the air to catch it. He caught it just before it hit the ground.

"Lyra! What were you thinking? I know you're mad, but that vase cost a lot of money. If that had broken alethiometer lessons would go out the door."

Lyra took the vase and put it back on the pedestal. "Sorry, Pan. I'll be more careful. It's just I want to read the alethiometer. She always acts like I'm so ungrateful about the whole thing." Lyra scowled at the little golden object. She picked it up and opened the front. The thirty-six symbols around the edge seemed to leer at her, taunting her. 'You can't read us, you can't read us' "Stop it!" Lyra shrieked, and threw the alethiometer across the room. It hit the wall and, with a crash, fell to the ground.

"LYRA!" Pantalaimon whispered.

Lyra was trembling now. "What have I done, Pan?" she asked. "Pan, what'd I do?"

"I don't know!"

Lyra slowly walked toward the alethiometer. She picked it up and looked at it. She tried to open it, but she couldn't. "Pan, I broke it!"

"Oh no, Lyra. You couldn't have!"

"I did, Pan! I broke it!" Lyra fell against the wall and slid to the floor in a half-faint.

Pan rushed over to her. "Lyra, wake up!"

"Pan, I broke it! We'll never see him again!"

Lyra was nearly in tears. "Never Pan. NEVER! It's all my fault!" She began sobbing. "Now I'll never learn to read the alethiometer, and I'll never find out how to see him again!"

Pantalaimon felt her despair, and was unsure of what to do. He crawled into her lap and nuzzled at her face. "Shh, Lyra. Don't worry. Shh." He hadn't done this in years.

Pan and Lyra sat there for a long time.