Full Circle spoilers! Though the book has been out for almost two years now, so I'm not sure if I need to warn for that anymore.
Heads-up warning for character's suicidal thoughts.
I started writing this back in June 2011, but I'm a super slow worker as always. It takes place between the last and second-to-last chapters of Full Circle, during the week in which the mages had no magic.
Adriane startled but didn't look up. That was Kara's voice. She didn't want to talk to her; she didn't want to do anything but watch the frothy waters far below tumble through the gully. Thanks to late spring rains, the river was swollen high and vicious, sweeping away bits of the exposed walls along with dirty debris broken to the point of being unrecognizable.
Clunky footsteps—probably three-hundred-dollar designer rain boots, knowing Kara—advanced on her. The old Adriane would've heard her coming long before, but the new Adriane didn't have magically-heightened senses or any reason to be constantly vigilant. The breeze stirred and seeped into her soaked black jacket. It had been lightly raining all day, and she hadn't considered how the tiny drops could add up in two hours of lingering out in the open.
"Okay, what are you doing on this bridge?"
"Looking at the river," Adriane mumbled.
The rain suddenly relented as a shadow settled over her. Adriane glanced up at Kara's umbrella, obnoxiously pink against the steely grey sky. Kara leaned on the railing next to her so the umbrella covered them both. Her blonde hair lay straight and silky, as if it had never touched a single raindrop.
"Wouldn't you rather look at me than some nasty water? I'm prettier."
"I don't know, Barbie. Eroded sediments give it a nice complexion."
"Oh, is that why you're going to jump in it?"
"What?" Kara held one hand on her hip and an accusatory expression on her face. For the life of her, Adriane couldn't find anything sarcastic to say. "Well, I'm not."
"Then why are you hanging out on a bridge in the middle of nowhere with no one else around?"
"Because I want some peace and quiet. To think. Alone."
Alone. That's always how she ended up, wasn't it?
She hadn't planned on jumping. She'd barely even thought about it. Maybe it had flashed through her mind briefly, like a faraway lighthouse beacon in the fog, but everyone wondered about it once in a while, right? Now that Kara spoke it aloud, it didn't seem as fuzzy and distant. And of course Kara had to act like she knew everything about her. What did she expect to do if Adriane did want to jump? Did she really think that the almighty power of Kara Davies could stop someone from killing themselves? Could she walk on water too? Kara was still watching her with that completely self-assured expression, leaning against the railing like it was the most comfortable thing in the world.
"But now that you mention it, hey, why not?" Adriane said.
Never mind, Kara was completely unprepared for that. As if Adriane had just flipped a switch, Kara gaped at her with a mixture of confusion and horror normally reserved for the latest magical monstrosity she encountered.
"Don't joke about stuff like that!"
"If you don't want to know, then why did you ask?"
"You're not serious. You're just messing with me."
"Answer my question."
"I don't know! I just…thought about it, all of the sudden. It scared me. So I asked so you'd tell me I was stupid and that it wasn't true."
"Then don't act so surprised. Since you thought of it, we must both know that it's not like I have anything to live for anyway."
Her eyes stung as the last words forced themselves out of her. It was one thing to vaguely feel as if she had nothing left; articulating it out loud was an entirely different beast. She couldn't cry about it—not here—so she focused instead on the familiar pleasure of getting a rise out of Kara.
"God, Adriane stop it! You know that's not true. There's Ravenswood—everyone at Ravenswood needs you!"
"Needs me for what? Leading tours, feeding the animals? Anyone can do that. Even Heather, Tiffany, and Molly could do that. Landmark status gets rid of Mrs. Windor for good, and it's not like the magical animals need us to protect them anymore, because—in case you forgot—they're all gone. Forever. If there's any magic left, I can't sense it. I can't even sense Storm—I don't know if she's still there!" Her voice cracked and was almost at yelling pitch. Kara tried to butt in, but Adriane's words ran right over hers.
Kara kept trying. "But magic isn't everything! We were okay before we found it, right?"
"You and Emily were okay before you found magic. Me? My parents dragged me halfway across the world every few months and I never went to the same school for more than a year! Even after they dumped me off in Stonehill, I had no one until I met Storm. She was the first friend I ever had, and now she's gone, her, Dreamer, Drake and Zach—ha, Zach! I really liked him, Kara, and no one on Earth would ever want a freak like me."
"Okay, I know that's not true—"
"How would you know?" Adriane cut her off. Kara was gorgeous; she would never understand. "You with your perfect life, perfect looks, perfect clothes, perfect friends, money, nice house, blonde hair, blue eyes—and you still have all of that! Just like Emily still has the Pet Palace, her parents, her music, wanting to be a vet like her Mom… And what do I have?"
Before Adriane could finish with Absolutely nothing, the wind gusted and tore Kara's umbrella from her hand, flipping it inside-out with a sharp snap of breaking metal. She cried out and grasped for it as it plummeted into the river below. Both girls watched the pink corpse stir barely a ripple on the fierce waters that soon rushed it out of sight.
"What do I have?" Adriane continued in a low voice. "With magic, I finally had control over something in my life. I had power, and I could protect myself and everyone else, but now I can't do anything."
"Stop it. Just stop it," Kara's voice squeaked. The water dripping down her face wasn't just rain.
The more Adriane argued, the thicker the hopeless reality condensed inside her. She wasn't just exaggerating to upset Kara anymore, and now on top of everything was fresh guilt of how she was treating one of her best friends.
"I…I'm sorry. I shouldn't mess with you like that."
"Are you really just messing with me?"
Tears made Kara's blue eyes even brighter. Her lips just quivered slightly, and her face refused to contort in the ugly way that any normal person's would. Ugh, the girl could even make crying look attractive. A stupid thing to notice at a time like that, but Adriane couldn't help it. She was shallow, and she hated herself for it. Outcasts should know better than to be drawn to beautiful people just because of looks. Maybe that was why she'd resented Kara so much, because Kara made her feel like a fake.
"Look, don't worry about it. It's my own problem." Adriane tried to force a smile.
"You're my friend. I can't just forget about you when you need me—"
"I don't need you." It came out harsher than Adriane intended.
"We all need each other—you and me and Emily! And we're here for you. We always will be."
"Don't kid yourself." Kara opened her mouth to protest, but Adriane continued in a flat and empty voice. "I'm not saying that you're lying. It's just…magic was the only thing the three of us had in common. What's going to happen a few months from now, a few years? What's going to keep us together now?"
"You think that just because our magic is gone, I'll dump you two in the gutter and run the other way? What kind of friend do you think I am?" A strange look fell over Kara's face. All that anger and energy, boiling over moments before, seemed to drain out of her. She leaned forward, and before Adriane could fully realize what she thought Kara was about to do, Kara wrapped her arms around her and lay her head against Adriane's neck. Adriane swayed with the sudden weight of Kara's body on hers, and awkwardly steadied them both.
"I'm not leaving either of you," Kara murmured. "You're the only ones who can understand everything I've been through—everything we've been through together. I'm not a mind-reader like Emily, but I'm sure she feels the same way."
"Emily's not a mind-reader anymore."
"Oh…right. And I'm not a blazing star anymore either."
Kara's wet eyelashes fluttered against Adriane's neck. Emotionally spent as she was, Adriane felt oddly serene right at that moment. She could fall asleep like this. She could stay like this forever.
"In some ways, you still are."
Adriane ran her fingers through Kara's soft hair, already damp from the rain. "You know what I mean. You don't always need magic to do what a blazing star is supposed to do. So stop crying."
Kara let her go and pulled away, but then took Adriane's hand in hers and smiled through the water and tears.
"I guess that's true," Kara said. Her hand tightened. "Come on, let's get away from this bridge. It's depressing."
"Lead the way, Barbie."
I had a lot of fun writing that, especially the dialogue, but it took too freaking long. Fifteen-hundred words in eight months? I'm a terrible self-motivator.
I got the idea after re-reading the last chapter of Full Circle. Emily's thought that Adriane took it the hardest really interested me. She's only thirteen, and at that age (or any age really, depending on the person) way less serious stuff can feel like the end of the world. It was originally supposed to be more overtly femslash, but I realized that just subtext would work better in this situation.
So anyway, review if you want! And thanks for reading.