Meggie bit her lip.
She was eighteen, and had just moved into her college dorm for the first time.
This was her first taste of freedom, and it should have been so exciting.
But instead of partying, she was kneeling over the toilet bowl in the room she shared with her assigned roommate, MaryBeth, a girl with bleach blonde hair and a tongue peircing.
"You okay in there?" MaryBeth said, knocking on the bathroom door.
"Fine," Meggie managed to cough out as she gasped for air.
She could hear MaryBeth's sigh as she opened the door.
"You've only been my roomie for a month, and I can already tell when you're lying. How the hell did you sneak stuff past your parents?" MaryBeth asked, preparing Meggie a cup of water.
Meggie was about to reply that she didn't sneak anything past her parents, but then she remembered him.
His name was Dustfinger, she wanted to tell MaryBeth. He was my dad's best friend, and he did most of the lying.
Luckily, though, MaryBeth let it go.
"Look, babe," She ran her perfectly manicured fingers up and down Meggie's back. Meggie had never really had a female friend before, so she didn't really know how to react. "There's this huge party tonight, and everyone's been asking about my illusive roommate, who they've only seen in class. Now from what I understand, you're single, right? Why not make a big splash tonight, show them all what they've been missing! C'mon, Meg, even Alex has been asking about you, and I mean how awesome would it be to lose your virginity to him?"
Meggie wanted to correct her again, and say that she hasn't been a virgin since she was fifteen, since Dustfinger came to live with them, and saw her for the first time as a woman, not the twelve-year-old girl he left behind years ago.
But MaryBeth had already spun away to the closet, preparing an outfit that would likely make Meggie look like some prostitute.
She should have said no, that she wasn't feeling well, that she didn't want to wear that outfit.
Yet when things really came down to it, Dustfinger was back home with Mo and Resa, staying with Elinor in Italy, and she was in New York City, the city of lights, for god's sake!
She was going to go out tonight, because she deserved it.
Meggie started the night having fun, and ended it similarly to how she began it, throwing up, this time into the grass outside.
She felt her cheeks flush as people started laughing at her, but regained her composure when she saw how drunk they were; they probably weren't even going to remember this in the morning.
Before she knew it, MaryBeth was at her side, completely sober and handing her a little paper bag.
"You're going to need it." she said before returning to the party while Meggie, feeling queasy once more, headed back to the dorms.
A pregnancy test.
MaryBeth had brought her a pregnancy test.
Meggie laughed at the thought of it, wondering what in the world made her think Meggie was pregnant.
It wasn't like she was sleeping all the time, or throwing up constantly, or putting on any new weight.
Meggie laughed again, rubbing her eyes as she laid down to sleep, her eyes catching the clock as her head hit the pillow.
7:23 in the afternoon?
Right away Meggie sat up, reaching for the bag.
It wasn't like she was pregnant, right? But it couldn't hurt...
The timer on Meggie's IPhone dinged, signaling her ten minutes were up.
She raced into the bathroom, and started at the test.
She was pregnant, alright, eighteen and pregnant by a man twice her age.
Who, her dad was probably going to kill when he found out.
Meggie groaned again, cutting to the chase, and dialed her home back in Italy.
Dustfinger picked up first, thank god, because MaryBeth was right about her being a terrible liar.
MaryBeth was right about a lot of things, actually.
"Megs?" She could hear his smile through the phone, and could feel her aching for his arms around her.
Why had she gone so far away in the first place?
Her mind returned to the matter at hand.
"Yeah, hi." She smiled. "how is everything there?"
"Great...Meggie, why does it sound like you're upset about something?'
She bit her lip, quite literally biting back tears.
"Oh god, Megs." Dustfinger said, his anger burning through the phone. "Don't...tell me what's wrong, and I'll come fix it. Please, I'll doing anything for you! I'll get a job in New York, i'll go back to school, anything, Meggie, just say the word! god, why did you have to go all the way to New York for school anyways?"
"No, wait, nothing's wrong, just...I'm coming home! Suprise," she laughed. "I called to tell you that I'm coming to visit next weekend, and I'm bringing good news with me."
Then, she hung up the phone, not wanting to make any more excuses.
She felt weird, ringing her own doorbell, but with Resa and Mo newly reunited you never would know what you were walking into.
"Meggie!" Dustfinger said as he opened the door. "God, you look beautiful!"
He kissed her full on the lips, and Meggie looked around for her parents.
"They're out on a date, Megs, we've got the house all to ourselves." He smiled at her, wrapping an arm around her waist as Meggie blurted out the truth.
"I dropped out of school,"
"What? Being an english teacher, that's what you've wanted for such a long time, Meggie-"
"Because I'm pregnant."
The room went silent.
Dustfinger turned and left the house, leaving Meggie alone with her tears.
As soon as he walked out of the driveway, Meggie's tears stop, and something inside of her shifted.
She grew hard, cold, mature.
And she left, because that was something she knew she could do to change her future, which, at the moment, looked rather bleak.
A single mother of a baby who's real father's name probably wouldn't even be excepted on the birth certificate, because he was read out of a book, because he doesn't exist in this world? A mother who can't read aloud to her own child, because she's scared she'll lose them forever for it? And Dustfinger was twice her age, they would constantly be critisized, probably even more than Meggie would as a single mother!
She grabbed her phone and called a taxi, then she called MaryBeth.
As the Taxi's headlights drove out of sight, Dustfinger was just walking into the house through a backdoor, like he usually did, with a smile on his face.
Sure, it shocked him at first, but he was still going to be a dad, and to Meggie's baby, too!
He couldn't be happier.
He couldn't find Meggie in the house, so figured she had run out for a bit.
No matter how upset she was with Dustfinger, she wouldn't leave without saying goodbye to her parents.
At least, the old Meggie wouldn't. But the Meggie that walked into Elinor's mansion was different than the one who walked out, though no one can really say, which one was better.
When Meggie didn't come home, Dustfinger didn't go looking.
He respected her, he knew she'd come back on her own time.
But when almost two years had gone by, he'd left the comfort of Mo's home and went looking, if not for Meggie, then for his daughter, as Mo had informed him that Meggie had a baby, although she wouldn't tell who the father was.
She wrote a couple books, she raised a daughter, she convinced MaryBeth to take out the tongue peircing, and she was happy.
But for as happy as she was, Dustfinger was as sad.
Mo had been his life once he got out of Inkheart, and very rapidly it progressed into Mo's daughter, Meggie, meaning everything to him.
And now he had a daughter of his own, who Meggie refused to let him see.
So he went looking, if nothing more than for something productive to do instead of waiting for Meggie to return.
Meggie wouldn't hold a grudge like this, He thought one day. Meggie would have some kind of pity for me, and let me at least hold her. Meggie needs to be loved, by me, that is, unless she found someone else to do it...
But this wasn't the Meggie he remembered.
She was weak anymore, wasn't niave, and knew how to get what she wanted.
She was scared anymore, and that's why, on her daughter's fourth birthday, she took them home to Elinor's.
"Her name is Roxanne." Meggie said, thinking of how proud she was that she gave her daughter such a strong, feirce name, and one that meant so much to the father, also.
Meggie hadn't changed much in the five years since her parents had seen her, she was still average sized with unruly blonde hair, but now she had a power about her, a sense of forcefulness, of strength.
Mo took one look at his daughters long, straight blonde hair and blue eyes, before plainly stating, "Dustfinger's not here."
And Meggie felt her heart drop to the floor.
Resa came over, putting an arm around Meggie.
"I'm sorry, darling, he only just left this morning."
It was just a case of bad timing, it always was with them really.
They were always getting caught in compromising positions, always one coming as the other was going.
They were always headed in two different directions, but sometimes, their paths would cross.
And then, well then, maybe he would get to hold not only Roxanne, but Meggie too.