Hope you enjoy this one... I worked hard on it, and sorry for the late update. I kinda got stuck... like alot. And it's not my best, but I hope you enjoy. Buon divertimento! :) Oh, and please check out the poll on my profile, and help me decide (by voting!) :)
The dark silence hung around her, like a curtain, but despite the chill it brought, it only comforted her. Even with Balthazar sleeping in the next room, and Dave asleep on the couch in the living room, Cleo couldn't help but feel alone. She'd always been alone, since the time she'd moved to Tacoma, to the time she became Balthazar's apprentice, to now. She'd always been alone. There was no denying it.
She scribbled on an unused piece of paper that she'd found in her office, using the old flickering bedside lamp that she'd scoured out from a garage sale a couple of months back, and had grown rather found of. She was biting her lip, trying to figure something out from her Incantus. The musty, torn pages were flipped to one section: The Healing Section. One pale finger was tracing the smeared words, while the other held a pen. She mouthed the words as she read, anger growing inside her.
"Hëalíteïmü§ (Hay-lee-to-ah-my-ice): Reduces inflammation of skin and pain of scar tissue. Side effects are stinging, nausea, and inability to breathe," she grumbled, her voice growing louder, "Sçærfînd (Sh-uh-ra-fa-oh-ind): Eliminates appearance of bruises, scars, cuts, and gashes. Side effects are lung pain, yellowing of skin, bloody noses, and welts on the face."
She sucked in a deep breath, held a hand to the bridge of her nose, only to let her head flop down in agony. The Incantus was utterly no help to her. How was she supposed to do anything now that it did absolutely nothing? The Incantus was her sole source of information. She was stopped in the middle of her quiet ranting, by the not-so-quiet sounds of Balthazar snoring. She smiled, at first a little annoyed, but otherwise glad he was at least sleeping. It was a big jump from yesterday. She looked back down at the large book.
"Stufirepinçure (Stu-fire-pin-sh-uh-are): Eliminates any breakage of skin, and/or any blemishes of skin. Side effects are muscle cramping and trouble of breathing. May not work, or may only work for a short period of time," at this she growled, and slammed her book shut, a loud crack in the night air, only to wince. She listened for a second, complete and utter silence filling her ears, before she heard what she was listening for; Balthazar was snoring again. She breathed out a sigh of relief, and was about to open her Incantus again, no matter how useless it seemed, when she heard a scuffling about in the living room.
She knew it was Dave, who'd probably woken when she'd closed her book in her rage, and should probably let it go. But something told her to go look, and she sighed. For all she knew, he was getting silently attacked by Septimus, who had an awful hobby of silent attacks. She rubbed her ring, picked up her Incantus, and turned the light off. It took a second for her eyes to adjust to the sudden darkness, and once she did, she was already halfway down the hall. By the time she finally turned, she was met with the sight of Dave crouched over on the couch, using his cell phone as a light, and reading his own Incantus. He looked calmly up at her when she arrived, he'd obviously heard her coming, and smiled.
"Something wrong?" Cleo cocked her head as she spoke.
"Nope," he looked back down, searching the pages in the exact manner she'd been doing moments before.
"I don't think it's going to help," she grinned at the look he gave her, "Mine's proved futile so far."
She set the oversized book on the table next to the couch, and plopped down next to him, "I'm just confused on some things," he sighed, and rolled his eyes.
"Maybe I can help you with that," she replied, straining her eyes to look at the page in the dim light, "You're studying elements?"
"Yeah, that's what Balthazar was training me on. At least, for most of it. Right before you came in, he decided I needed more help defending."
"You only worked on Fire and Air, didn't you?" she muttered, looking up at his focused expression.
The look quickly turned into surprise, and then awe, "How'd you know?"
Cleo snorted, "It's obvious—no offense—but, Fire and Air are offensive elements, Earth and Water are defensive. Of course, they can be switched around, but those are their strongest suit."
"Huh," Dave scanned his Incantus again, "Balthazar never told me that."
Cleo raised her eyebrows, "I think he expected you to know that. You should study and train more. I bet you'll get a lot farther in your lessons if you do," she gave him a wink.
"You're such a teacher's pet," he scoffed playfully. Cleo laughed.
"Only because it gets strong people, A.K.A teachers, on my side," she smiled, "And besides, this is about you. Not me, Dave."
"Alright, help me then. I can't seem to understand the summoning of the elements," he paused, glancing around the dark apartment, "It's all confusing. I just can't seem to… get it to work."
"Well," Cleo pursed her lips, "We'll start with air. You know the first step, clear you mind."
"Yes, I know the first step, Balthazar only pesters me about it day and night," Dave groaned, exasperated. This earned a laugh from Cleo.
"That's because it's the most important," a smile graced her lips, "Especially in this element. In order to either control air, or summon it, you need to take the whole 'clear you mind' thing to the next level."
"How do I do that, though?" he snapped, his eyes puzzled, and his brain turning. Why, couldn't he understand.
"Alright, take it like this. When you fall asleep, what do you do? Do you clear your mind, so you can have a peaceful sleep, or do you fill your mind with bad thoughts, so you have nightmares? The normal person clears their mind, and therefore that is what you must do," she mumbled, "Close your eyes, Dave."
He obeyed, "And know listen to only my voice. Block out anything around us, I don't care what it is. Focus on one thing—the sky. And my voice, of course," she took a deep breath, and then continued, "Let your mind fall to peace, let your thoughts blow away. Think of nothing. Think nothing. Just let yourself drift away. There you go."
She closed her eyes as well, the presence of his power washing over her. She grinned, "And now, open your eyes. But don't let that feeling escape. Use it. Attack me," she watched as he slowly came back to the real world, yet his eyes remanded clouded. "Attack me, Dave. Don't think about it. Attack me."
She clambered off the couch, and watched as he mimicked her actions, so they were facing each other. He raised his hands, pointing that silly dragon ring at her, and pulled back, and then forth, as if controlling a whip. Cleo liked his style. And then a huge, powerful, probably painful, gust of wind flew in her direction. She'd prepared of course, and had set up a shield to protect herself, but the mere power of the air had knocked her down.
"Oh God, are you okay?" he rushed over to her, only to find her laughing, her green eyes twinkling with delight. He quickly helped her off the apartment floor. She dusted herself off, before placing her hands on his shoulders, and grinning.
"That was amazing, Dave," she congratulated him, "I put up a shield, so it didn't hurt me, but the aura of it knocked me down. That was amazing."
Dave flushed. Cleo knew Balthazar never gave praises like this, and she knew after this quick lesson he'd probably never hear another like it. "Thanks, but I kinda just let you control me."
Cleo refrained from rolling her eyes, and instead smirked, before composing herself, "Now, fire is a whole different thing all together. Fire is a chaotic element, whereas Air is good. In this one, you don't have to think at all. You have to handle it in steps."
A look of confusion passed over the kid's face, and Cleo groaned, "How do I do that?" she should've known this was going to happen. He didn't understand magical speak. He understood science.
"Alright, I'm not a science master, but take the Fire element as though it were the Scientific Method," a flicker of understanding flashed in his eyes, and hope swelled through her, "You don't take the whole thing at once do you?"
"No, you do the Scientific Method in steps," Dave scowled as though this were the most obvious thing on the face of the planet.
"Exactly," she smiled, "That is what you must do for the Fire element. Alright, prepare yourself. What is the first step of the Scientific Method?"
"Define a question," Dave answered instantly. Cleo knew this was going to be good.
She nodded, "Yes. In this Scientific Method, you say Define a question. In Magical terms, we say 'Picture a Flame.'"
"Picture a flame?"
She nodded again, "Yes, do it. Go ahead. Picture the brightest, most horrible looking flame out there. Very good. And second?"
He obeyed, squeezing his eyes shut, "Gather information and resources."
"Instead of gathering information and resources, we are gathering heat," she chose her words carefully, trying her best to teach the kid. It was midnight after all, "What makes you the most angry? Picture it, think of a scene, but always keep that flame there. Always."
Dave's excited expression contorted to one of disturbance. His nose scrunched up, and his eyes were moving about under his eye lids. Cleo sighed, "Nicely done. Third?"
"Form an explanatory hypothesis," his voice was strained as he continued to conjure the element.
"You have to imagine what you're going to do," Dave scowled, "In this instance, you're going to attack me. I'm going to block, but picture hitting me down with a ball of fire. Go ahead. Fourth?"
This time she didn't wait to see if he had reacted to her words, she kept on going. Fire could not be rushed, but it couldn't be slowed down either, "Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data."
"Yes, now here comes the tricky part. Put your hands together, as if forming a plasma ball, but don't. I realize you've worked with fire before, controlling it, and that's the hardest part of forming it, so I'm sure you'll have no problem with this. Keep it there, keep imagining everything I've told you. That's good," she praised him lightly, knowing he had to keep his sour mood. She gave an inaudible sigh. "Fifth?"
"Analyze the data," she had to admit he looked quite ridiculous standing in the middle of an apartment at twelve in the morning, his face filled with anger, and his eyes squeezed shut, but she didn't say anything, for fear he might actually lob out an un-produced fire ball. She shuddered at the thought.
"Rub your hands together," she shrugged. It was the simplest step, but it played a huge part. You couldn't make fire without warmth, or friction. And therefore that is what he had to do, "I'm not kidding you, Dave. Rub your hands together."
He finally obeyed, but not without making Cleo feel as though he thought this was pointless. She sneered at him, "The sixth is Interpret the data and draw conclusions, before you ask."
The kid was catching on, "Alright, now what do you think of when you first hear fire?"
"Anger," he replied almost instantly.
She grinned, "Good. This won't be a problem for you then. Alright, who's the person you hate most. At the moment."
"Balthazar," her grin widened. Good lord, this child was so predictable.
"Tell me why. Rant about him," in all honesty, she tuned out, and continued to think of the next step. Step seven: Publish results. She pursed her lips. "Now," she cut him off midsentence, "Open your eyes, and forget everything I told you. Clear your mind, as if summoning air. There you go."
"Already on another step?" he snapped, his eyes blazing.
"Release all your anger, Dave. This won't work without you cooperating, and we'd hate for all that hard work to go to waste, wouldn't we?"
He nodded, and closed his eyes, before snapping them open, much more composed, "Step eight, Retest."
She smiled, "Now, think back on all we've done. This is the last step. Imagine it all at once, and thrust your hands towards your opponent."
He obeyed, and suddenly, before she knew it, a huge arc of fire was racing towards her. She managed to get a water wall up before it did any damage, but she was pleased. She raised her eyebrows, "I don't see how you were having any trouble earlier, when you're doing so amazing now."
He once again blushed, and smiled at her, "Because you're a much better explainer than Balthazar."
"That's why you were mad?" Dave sat down at the couch, pushing his Incantus out of the way. "I mean, when you were summoning fire?"
"Partly. It seems sometimes, he's just here to make my life a living hell," Dave sighed, and patted the seat beside him, "He just always gets on my nerves. It's like he expects me to get it everytime."
Cleo laughed lightly, "That'd be because he was partly used to me," her eyes dimmed, "Don't you ever take him for granted. He has such a sweet heart. And he always wants the best for you."
Dave took in her words, his eyes searching, before he once again thumped the seat next to her, welcoming her to sit next to him, but this time she obliged, smirking at him, as if daring him to say something, "Alright, I've told you about my troubles. Now, tell me more about your past."
"Why are you so interested in me?" she folded her hands in her lap, "Some people'd think you're obsessed."
"I'm interested in you, because you're an interesting person," he smiled, before letting it quickly fade away, as all fake smiles did.
"Well, you need to stop," she paused, and thought for a moment, "What do you want to know more about?"
"Your past," he fiddled with his hands, before looking up and meeting her dark, hazel eyes. "Please?"
She cocked an eyebrow, "Your 'please' won't change my mind any. As far as I know, you say please all the time," she sighed, "But I guess I'll tell you anyways."
A look of triumph passed over the college-student's face, and Cleo couldn't help but laugh, "Where we left off in this story, I'm only telling it once, Balthazar came back to Tacoma, where I lived, and offered for me to become his apprentice. He then ran away when my mother came, but for weeks at a time, we were training in secret. I guess I wanted to know more about the Prime Merlinean stuff. So I agreed with him. This is around one of our last meetings on the run."
A cool wind whistled through the town, picking up papers, and causing thousands of people to shudder, yet when it reached a pitiful look warehouse, with the doors slightly cracked open, and the windows broken in, and flew inside, neither of it occupants so much as flinched. The girl had just arrived through the moldy doorframe, her long red hair wild, but with much of it covering her face, but the man had been there for a while. He had nothing better to do then teach his brilliant student, and therefore he waited, in hopes that Cleo would come early, but to no avail, because he knew of her reason of barely being able to anyways. Her mother would not appreciate him teaching her the art of light sorcerery, as opposed to the Morganian ways.
She stepped into the light, and searched for her master, barely being able to see through her thick curtain of hair. Though, it did give her a sense of protection, but not as much as being around Balthazar. She'd found she'd grown on the man, no matter how strange he was, but she still couldn't trust him. She couldn't trust anyone. Would she risk her life for him? Her life wasn't worth much, so she considered it an option. And finally, he stepped from the shadows, and into the middle.
Cleo's breath caught in her throat, seeing him. She always did this, every week, when she was able to escape from her wretched house. He'd cut his hair a couple of weeks ago, so it looked neat, and rather handsome, but she could never grow used to this. She was used to a wild man, with crazy eyes, which he still possessed, thankfully, and scraggly hair. But, she knew he was doing this for a reason. She could tell he wanted to travel. He wanted to get out of Tacoma, where thousands of Morganians lived. She sighed inaudibly.
He met her brown eyes, causing her to shiver at her piercing stare. Sometimes she really hated those icy orbs, "Are you ready to train today, Cleo?" he strode forward towards her, before motioning towards the Merlin Circle behind him.
"When am I not ready?" she smirked, slipping the ring onto her finger. She had to sneak around her mother; she couldn't let her know she was training to be a Merlinean, and therefore, even if she didn't want to, she was forced to hide her ring, and wear the evil ones her mom provided. She'd been taught the skill of Adapting, and was able to use any ring given, but her powers were strongest with the Prime Merlinean's ring.
"Let's get going then," he led her towards the circle, his touch gentle. As soon as she was facing him, he took one large, sweeping look of the girl, "You should change your hairstyle."
She knew he was referring to her bangs; she could barely see, but it gave her a sense of protection, "I'm not like you, I don't have to change who I am every other day."
She sneered, meaning to hurt him, but knowing she didn't anyways, "I did it, because I have to leave soon, and I can't keep who I was. You'd look a lot prettier without it."
"Are you saying I'm not pretty?" she snapped harshly, her eyes flashing with fire.
"No, you're always beautiful. Let's start training," she could tell he wanted to back out of the argument, that he was regretting starting it in the first place, but she couldn't let that happen. She had to win.
"You can't decide who I am, and you can't decide what I do. Even if you're my master, I don't care. You don't have control of me," she was speaking harshly, but it didn't bother her as much as it should.
Balthazar's gaze softened as he regarded her, "Something's going on at home, huh?"
"Yeah, things have been bad," she looked away, suddenly ashamed. No matter what, she shouldn't treat him like that. She should respect him as much she could, he deserved that much. She owed him big time for taking her in, "I just—she's been extra horrible. I guess I'm trying to resist her now, trying to do less Morganian work, but she doesn't appreciate that much. My mom, I mean, though she doesn't seem like one."
"She's still trying to get you to become her apprentice?" he placed a tender hand on her shoulder, his expression one of absolute concern.
"Yeah, she wants to have complete control over me. She wants to teach me everything she knows, as if I would actually listen to her," she scowled and rolled her eyes, "I hate her methods more than anything."
"I remember a time," Balthazar gave a heavy sigh, "When you used to love her methods; you worshipped the ground she walked on, clung onto every word of hers. You used to listen, and you use to obey every task she sent you off to do. You'd do anything for your mother."
Cleo took a sudden interest in her feet, trying to focus on anything but Balthazar. Guilt washed through her like a wave, causing her stomach to flutter, her mouth to go dry, and her heart to skip a beat, "I was foolish… younger back then," she risked looking up to meet his gaze, "I know better now."
He shot her an incredulous look, "That was five years ago, you were fifteen."
"I'm thirteen now, there was no possible way I was fifteen. I was eight, and you know that," she snorted, thinking she'd finally gotten the better of him.
"You were eight in all but mind," he retorted, giving her a stern look, "You were much wiser than fifteen, consider it generous," he winked at her.
She looked away, before being reminded of something, "I haven't been aging," he sent her a questioning look, "The aging spell. It's not working anymore. My mom's noticed, because it's still working for her."
"Ah," Balthazar gave a wan smile, his eyes lighted with joy, "You've been hanging around me. Since the Slow-Aging spell is dark, Morganian magic, my light magic has been throwing it off. And you've been shooting lighter spells. I think you're confusing it."
"Master, 'it' is a spell," she replied stubbornly, "I don't think I'm confusing anything."
"So you're saying it's my fault?"
"I'm glad it's your fault," she smiled, "Let's just hope I don't catch up to my mother by next week, hmm?"
She got into a training stance, signaling that Balthazar should start his teaching. He got her into the position of having a shield, and shooting three plasma balls at once while protecting. He was just about to lob out his own at her, when a powerful sound rang through the warehouse. They both whirled around to glance at the doorway, only to be met with a few rough, strongly built men.
"Morganians," Balthazar muttered under his breath, his eyes flashing with distaste.
"Yeah, but who do they work for?" she hurriedly whispered back, moving towards Balthazar.
Suddenly, the men were upon them, four on Balthazar, three on Cleo. She struggled, before letting her hands erupt into flames, causing one of the men to cry out in agony. The rest of the trio moved towards her, "Does it matter who they work for?" Balthazar cried out from the opposite side of the warehouse. He looked like he was having fun getting pummeled, "They're here to kill us no matter what!"
She gave him a nod, and continued to fight, her mouth shut tightly closed in frustration. She kicked one of the men in the shine, before shooting a round of plasma balls at him. They were obviously sorcerer's, she could tell, but she couldn't why they weren't using their magic. They were here to kill them, weren't they? No matter what ran through her head, Cleo continued to fight against them. Things were started to finally look good, she'd actually gotten one of them knocked out, when a sharp crack rang through the air, and the men were using magic. Spells streamed through the warehouse like banners, Cleo tried her best to dodge and block them.
She heard a strangled cry, and spun around, ignoring the two men advancing on her, to notice the men attacking Balthazar holding him back, their large hands resting on his shoulders. She winced, before noticing the other man, an even larger one, with a knife in hand, going in for the kill. Just as Cleo felt the men grab her from behind, the large Morganian with the knife lunged towards her master.
Cleo faltered as she tried to continue the story, looking down at her hands, which she was kneading together nervously. She could feel Dave's eyes burning into her, urging her to go one. As if he didn't already know how it ends. Balthazar obviously survives, Cleo smirked to herself. "Well?" Dave demanded, on the edge of his seat, "What happens next?"
The redhead ran a hand through her head, and opened her mouth to speak, "She saved my life," they both whirled around on their seat of the couch to be met with the sight of Balthazar, who was leaning casually against the corner of the wall, fully dressed, his hands stuffed in his pockets. He looked at them both calmly. Cleo instantly blushed, rolling her eyes.
"It was nothing. I just kinda… got him. It wouldn't be the only time, now would it?" this earned a snort from Balthazar, who just laughed, "You would've done the same for me."
"Well, I was your Master, it was kinda required of me," he gave her a wry look.
"Yeah, and I was your apprentice, so that was required of me," she grinned at him, before giving him an admiring look, "Stop trying to make me something I'm not."
"Well, what happened after that?" Dave directed the question more to Balthazar, but Cleo was the one who answered.
"We got the hell out of them," she gave a small chuckle, "We sprinted towards the train, and never looked back. We killed two out of the seven. We didn't want to look back either. I was scared of what I would find. I was scared it was… my mother. So we boarded the train, and we rode towards Maine."
"That's a long ways away from Washington," Dave raised his eyebrows at her. She smirked.
"Very good, Davey knows his states," she grinned, "Don't get me wrong it took a couple of days. I specifically chose Maine because it wasn't highly populated, and Balthazar had lived there once; he had contacts. So we kinda went there."
"And then?" Dave beamed at them both, excited to hear what came next in the story. He was like a little child about ready for bed, Cleo mused.
"Well, I ended up cutting my hair. Balthazar made me, so I could see. He said it was like I was dark before…and I was slowly turning light; good. At least that's how you explained it to me, huh, Balthazar?" she nudged him, and he slowly nodded. "We lived there for quite some time, and I never heard about my mom again… until the last couple of years, where I heard that some Morganian named Septimus Tovaire had killed her. And was coming after me."
"Story time's over," Balthazar winked at her, and she nodded in agreement. She stood, painfully, and stretched, before padding over to Dave.
"I now deem this couch yours," she smiled, "I think you should stay here from now on. I'm scared of what Septimus will do once he finds out you're here."
"But I gotta get home to Bennett," Dave protested meekly.
"I'm sure Bennett will be fine," Cleo winked at him, "And besides, you'll still be going to college in the mornings."
Dave didn't try to protest any more, at the look Balthazar shot him, "But, Cleo!" he called out once more as she turned to walk away, "Where will you sleep?"
Cleo smirked, so Dave couldn't see her, "My office chair. It's comfier then you'd expect."
As Balthazar and Cleo headed down the hall, she turned towards him, "Why dressed in your regular clothes?"
"Because," he gave her a grin as he opened the bedroom door, "I wasn't originally planning on going to sleep."
"Kinda failed at that, huh?"
A/N: Sorry for the horrible ending, I had to get this out there before you all stormed my house with pitchforks. I have great things planned for this story... great things. Oh, and expect two (not one, but two) 'flashback/memory' thingies. I have to fit all this stuff in a chapter, and it's gonna be tough ;)
Please review, it keeps the writer's block at bay, and it feeds my muse, Andrew. We don't want Andrew to go hungry, do we? Thanks for your time :)
iLikeHetalia: Thank you, I obviously don't want my stories to be confusing ;) Thank you so much for reviewing, it makes me soooo happy! Yes, yes I do 'love' Sherlock Holmes. I even wrote a fanfiction on it... and I loved the second movie... I could go on and on and on about the ending, but I won't bore you with that! :)
Greenwood Archer: Thanks! *Blushes* You're so sweet... I hope this one lives up to the expectations of the last three? I know how you feel about the teacher thing, mine are doing the same ;) And sorry for not updating very soon, life caught up to me.
anon: I know, haha, I was just trying to make Cleo tease Dave a little bit :)
thebestfriend.3: Oh geez, girl, thanks. You're making me blush and stuff... stop it!
Kirsten: Thank you... and here you go! :)
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR REVIEWING AND READING! YOU ALL DESERVE SOME CANDY! (And requests, haha?)