FIFTY THREE

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RAVENNA'S HAND IMMEDIATELY lifted to her chest, fingers curling tight around the pendant

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RAVENNA'S HAND IMMEDIATELY lifted to her chest, fingers curling tight around the pendant. It scorched her skin, making her jaw clench tight around the pain. "I found it," she told him, forcing herself to suck in a deep breath. "A while ago. Why does it matter?"

Caelan's eyes narrowed. He took a step toward her, a gust of wind making his cloak dance in the air around him. "Where did you get it?" he repeated, his voice cold.

Her body tensed. Without thinking, she tightened her grip on the pendant. "Why does it matter?" she repeated.

"Ravenna."

She shook her head. Tears burned her eyes, threatening to spill down her cheeks. "I don't understand. Why does the necklace matter right now?" she asked. Her voice cracked. "I just killed someone. I killed someone, Caelan. And you're worried about a stupid necklace."

He stopped in front of her, standing so close that his cloak brushed against her skirts. She watched him, uneasy. He towered over her, anger smoldering within the grey of his irises. His hands lifted toward her face and Ravenna flinched back.

Ice erupted around her feet. Before it could harm either of them, Caelan whispered something indiscernible. A harsh light surrounded them, casting shadows across Caelan's face. Ravenna gasped and staggered backwards. The light slammed against her ice, forcing it downward, toward the ground. It didn't hurt her, per say, but it wasn't exactly comfortable either.

He stepped even closer, his hands raised again. The pendant dropped to her chest as her hands lifted to shield her face from Caelan's wrath.

His hands shot past hers. She squeezed her eyes shut and braced herself, her ice fighting hard at their feet to protect her.

Pure shock jolted through her body as he gently cupped her cheeks. "Ravenna, calm down," he said. There was still anger in his voice, barely contained. Yet his grip was soft, warm. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Ravenna's eyes snapped open. Their gazes locked.

The pad of Caelan's thumb moved across Ravenna's cheek, a soft caress. It was then that she realized her tears had broken through, streaming down her cheeks in heated streams. A prickly ball formed at the back of her throat and her heart began to ache. Within his eyes, the clouds of anger seemed to fade away, overwhelmed with an ocean of sadness. It hurt. The pure emotion in his eyes physically hurt her. Caelan so rarely showed emotion, aside from his amusement or annoyance. Yet here he stood. His face mere inches from hers, his eyes glazed with unshed tears.

"Just breathe," he told her. His voice showed no sign of his current emotional state. "I don't want to hurt you. Ravenna, just breathe."

A shuddered breath escaped her. She squeezed her eyes shut, another tear slipping past, and tried to calm down. "But I killed them."

He didn't say a word.

"I killed them all. I killed so many. Oh, so many," she sobbed. Her chest heaved as she gasped around watery breaths. The guards. Henry. Bella. Her village. Her memories were clear now, as the necklace made the skin of her chest blister. "I'm horrible. A horrible being."

The heat vanished from her neck. Ravenna's memories became jumbled, muddled, and her eyes snapped open. Caelan's face was blurry. One of his hands was curled around the pendant. "Ravenna," he said, his voice gentle. "This is not your fault."

She shook her head. His hand moved, cupping the back of her neck, bringing her face closer to his. Their foreheads softly pressed together. The warmth of his skin against hers, of his lips mere inches from hers; it calmed her. The glow around them dimmed as her ice faded into the earth.

"This wasn't you, Ravenna"

A sharp pain appeared at her forehead. Ravenna's eyes snapped open and she jolted back, away from his grasp. "What did you just do to me?" she demanded. Anger boiled through her veins as the pain sharpened. Her hand flew to her forehead, fingers brushing against the ragged ice.

Caelan blinked. "I did nothing, Ravenna."

"You're lying," she snapped. She moved further back, attempting to put space between them. The pain sharpened, as if a thousand needles had pierced through her skull. Her tears fell harder. "You're lying. I can't. You're lying."

The sobs overtook her again. Ravenna sunk to her knees, her skirts pooled around her, her face buried within her hands. She couldn't take it. Caelan was supposed to be the one person she could trust. Yet here he was, lying to her.

He'd hurt her. Even though he said that he wouldn't.

The necklace burned against her chest. It was her fault. All those deaths. She'd been the cause of them, she just knew it.

She just knew it.

Caelan moved forward, his arms held outward. He sunk down in front of her. His hands gripped her shoulders, tight. She squeezed her eyes shut. "Ravenna, please, stop this. This isn't your fault. This isn't you. Your mind is locked under a-"

"Stop lying to me!" she screamed.

A spear of ice shot forward, materializing quicker than either could comprehend. Caelan's grip on her shoulders slacked. There was a brief moment of pure silence, of pure horror, and then she forced her eyes open.

A strangled gasp burst past Ravenna's lips.

Caelan sat in front of her, his eyes wide, startled. Hurt. His lips parted and a wet cough escaped. A pearl of blood trickled down his chin.

"Caelan..." Ravenna's mouth seemed to break. Bile formed at the back of her throat, scorching at her tongue. She reached forward, her hand lightly touching the piece of ice that pierced his chest.

The ice shattered and Caelan fell backward. She bolted forward, trying to catch him, trying to help him, unsure what to do. Tears flowed down her cheeks, a steady stream, dripping onto his bloodstained shirt. Her hands pressed flat against his open wound, attempting to stop the bleeding, to do something to help him.

"Don't die," she rasped out. The words sounded distant. She wanted to throw up. She wanted to scream. She wanted to die. Her heart hurt so bad. Her head hurt. "Don't you dare die on me."

Caelan stared at her, his eyes filled with pain. With hurt. More blood gurgled past his lips.

"No!" Ravenna screamed. "No, no. no. No!"

okay, so i know that y'all probably want to kill me

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okay, so i know that y'all probably want to kill me. believe me, Caelan is one of my favorite characters too. I promise that this is VERY much necessary for the advancement of the plot though. just be sure to read through to the end of the next chapter at least. there is a reason i am posting these two together... 

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