Chapter Fourteen: Jasmine

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Meet me on the hill at six. B x

I flipped my switch-top closed and frowned. It was Brae's last night in the Arcan Realm. Early tomorrow morning he would be setting off for the Helian Realm with Imogen, Devon and Cameron. Tonight would be our last night together. On the plus side, it would be the last night for a while that I would have to worry so much about hiding what was happening to me (the violet streaks in my hair had almost doubled in the last week, leading me to wonder whether they were linked to stress) but it would also be the last night I could spend with my best friend, before he left me again for a whole month. To say that I was going to miss him terribly would be a gross understatement. Without him, I felt as though I were only half of me. The thought of him going away - into who knows what danger or traps - sent shivers up and down my spine.

The candles on my dressing table flared brightly; there must have been a draft. I rushed over to blow them out, then threw a soft grey cardigan over my top and put a coat on over that. I also shoved a hat onto my head, which I had started wearing more often now out of fear that one of my violet streaks would show. Grabbing a pair of gloves, I headed to the front door. "See you later," I called out as I left. "I'm going to see Brae."

"Have fun, Sweet," came the response from Noni.

My journey up to the hill was quicker than normal; I was propelled forward both by the cold and my desire to see Brae. He was already waiting when I reached the top, sitting, legs crossed in the very middle. A turmoil of winds rushed around him, spiralling up in to the air: he was thinking.

His eyes had been closed but they flickered open as I drew closer. The winds subsided almost immediately. I went to sit down next to him and, for a moment, we didn't say anything. We didn't need to. We sat there, looking out over the hill to the city: the city that would soon belong to him. In a few months, if the doctors' reports were any indication, the whole Realm would be his. And then, he would have everything out there, but he wouldn't have this. He wouldn't have us. I rested my head against his shoulder, fighting back the tears that were threatening to spill over.

"We'll be back before you know it."

There were so many things I wanted to tell him: that I was terrified that the Helians were planning to do something to him; that even if he did make it home alive I probably would have transformed into a monster by then; that I loved him, more than anything else in the world and that when he was away it was hard to breath and that I couldn't go through a single second without thinking about him. Of course, I couldn't tell him anything but the first, and the first might make him more concerned about the dangers he was going to face. I didn't want that.

Instead, I settled for taking his hand in mine and gazing out across the city. "Hurry back. And don't aggravate the Helians - it would be a shame for you to come back with your hair burnt off."

"Don't worry I'll try not to do anything reckless." He was thoughtful for a second. "Unless they make the first move of course, then they're fair game." He grinned to show he was joking, but I was still concerned. His face fell again and his voice grew quieter as he spoke into the grass below him. "I'm scared, Jazz. I'm worried that he won't still be here when I get back."

I squeezed his hand tightly. "He'll wait for you, Brae - I know he will. All you need to worry about is the mission. Caleb, your Mum and I will be here to look after your Dad."

He moved closer to me, his face still as dark. My heart swelled with sadness for him and tears began to well up in my eyes. Almost as if the clouds matched my mood it began to rain, lightly at first, but it quickly grew heavier. We both jumped to our feet in a hurry.

"Come on, let's get back inside." Brae kept a tight hold of my hand and guided me down to the hill. But when we got to the bottom it was no longer raining. I looked behind us, to where the water continued to pour over the hill itself. "Crazy!" Brae exclaimed, following my gaze.

"Very," I agreed. "And a total pain." We were both soaked, there was no way we could stay out and continue with our chat. "We'd better head home to get changed," I said reluctantly.

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