Raven II

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22. Real

ARIA-

I closed my eyes, feeling the him in the air and the vibrations in the water. A soft whisper left my lips, and I threw my head back, increasing the volume of my chant. Something was taking over my body, leading it, moving it. I felt like a puppet, though I knew exactly what it was that I was doing.

Jakko's large hand was still intertwined with mine, and I was sure that was the only thing that held me grounded in reality. My head felt light, as if it was detaching itself from my body, and I could feel the cosmological paths that tied every world, every realm together.

It was incredibly painful, like having my skin ripped open over and over and over again. My fingers dug unto Jakko's skin, I could hear him grunt in pain beside me and I could feel the hardness of his bones beneath my nails.

The pain, the vibration, the humming reached a point to where I thought I would explode and suddenly...

It all stopped.

A wave of goose bumped exploded on my skin and my knees fell weak, forcing my body to collapse against Jakko. He held me gently, and I could smell the blood that was spilling from the puncture wounds in his hand. Still, he whispered in my ear, comforting me.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I whispered back, trying to look at his hands.

"Aria." He whispered, surprise laced in his tongue.

I looked up at him, following the line of his gaze and surprising myself when I saw the glow of the water in front of me.

"It's working." I whispered, standing up straight with his help.

I was entranced by the glow of the water, and my body began o move toward it, the water reaching my ankles, then my knees and my thighs.

"Aria." Jakko whispered, grabbing a hold of my hand. The trance broke and I looked back at him, my mouth open, still in awe of the beauty I was immersed in. "Together." He sad, sadness written all over his face. He followed until he was next to me and he smiled softly before looking over his shoulder, "You can follow after us, okay?"

There was someone else with us here? I had forgotten. The experience felt so real, so spiritual, I only felt Jakko and I.

I turned to Jakko, ready to tell him one more time just how sorry I was, and how much I really did love him, "I-"

"Shh." He interrupted, shaking his head. "I know." He nodded with a frown. This time, he took the next step, pulling me with him. Before I knew it, we were holding our breath as we swayed under the water.


I feel his legs under mine, which straddled him tightly. I was a coughing mess, water and spit spilling down my chin and onto my chest. My hair was plastered against my forehead, and I felt his warm arms wrap around my waist and my heartbeat began to slow down. My coughing came to a slow stop and I wiped my eyes with the back of my hands.

I came face to face with his eyes, "We made it, oh fuck, we didn't die." He spoke out in relief, his warm lips found their home on my forehead, both of my eyes and my cheeks. I chuckled into his chest, wrapping my arms around his neck.

"I can't-" I gasped and my hands clasped around my mouth at the sound of my voice. Jakko also looked at me with a joy in his eyes I could not explain, "Jakko." I whispered, afraid I would lose it if I spoke to loud.

His body stiffened and I saw the way his eyes looked into mine, a loving yet sad look in them. He caressed my cheeks softly as if I was a dandelion he needed to keep from flying away. I only gasped slightly, making no move to stop him as his lips lightly pressed against mine. I felt a whirlwind of emotions flip in my stomach and flutter in my heart. My mind was in a daze when he pulled away. He looked up above my head and smiled, slowly standing up with his hands on my arms, pulling me along with him.

"Aria?" A small voice sounded from behind me. I spun around quickly and came face to face with Emi. She stood there, with her eyes opened wide and tears spilling down her cheeks.

"Emi!" I ran toward her and wrapped my arms around her neck, crying softly into her neck, "I never thought I'd see you again." I sobbed, my shoulders shaking. She was stiff for a moment before she hugged me back and sobbed right along with me.

Something was off and I pulled away. I looked down to see her belly protruding and gasped loudly, "You?" I looked up at her with a frown. She smiled through her tears and nodded, "With who?" Words felt so foreign in my mouth, and though I was beyond excited at seeing my old friend, my voice shook. Maybe it knew something I had forgotten.

"Zumir." She whispered, I smiled even wider and pulled her into another hug. She sobbed even louder into my shoulder this time, her arms tightening every second.

We held each other for a few minutes when the water began to splash again. We looked over to the pool, where Thijs and Sarn came out coughing and thrashing.

"Oh no." I looked over at Emi who was shaking.

"No, it's okay." I shook my head, "They're friends." She frowned and I made my way over to them. They were standing next to Jakko now, smiling and happy to be out of that crazy realm.

Jakko's thumb caressed my cheeks once more and I smiled at him, everything was coming together. Everything was perfect. "This is where I lose you." He whispered.

"What?" I frowned as he pulled his hand back and looked toward where Emi stood.

I turned. That's all it took. That's what I had forgotten. I spun on my heel and it felt as if my head exploded, as if my heart was drowning, the ache spreading through my veins. There was an inexplicable heat that surrounded my face and I almost felt like pinching myself awake.

The air left my lungs. The pain of needing to breath reminded me of the pain of leaving him all over again. He was staring back at me, and I knew deep down that he felt the same as me. He ached for me as much as I ached for him, he looked for me as much as I looked for him.We were both stuck, our muscles frozen by the end of both of worlds of pain in a dramatic explosion. I don't know why, but I felt fear. Anxiety.

My ears clogged up, and I heard nothing. The edges of my vision seemed to blur. I took a step forward, but returned to being frozen in my spot when he ran up to me and held me in a tight hug, clinging to me as if it was I that gave him life.

His smell struck a nerve, sent a flood of memories, of paintings, of images in my heart. This was real. He was real.

And I loved him more than anything.

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