1: Of Books, Bus Stops, and Shortcuts
Disclaimer: All rights go to JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson, respectively. Anything you don't recognize is mine.
Beginning A/N: Hello, all! For those of you who are new, welcome, and for those of you who are old, yes I did rewrite this first chapter (well, mainly the prologue), and there are more edits to come, so just a heads up on that.
For anyone new to this story, this is my first shot at a fan fiction, and I would appreciate your feedback on anything, whether positive or constructive. Other than that, I hope all goes well for this story! It's a bit of a slow start, but next chapter things begin to pick up.
Thank you for reading, and enjoy!
On an unusually cold day in mid-September, a lone figure on horseback made his way down the Great East Road, staff in hand and his grey head adorned with a tall, pointy hat as his horse clopped along wearily, exhausted from the strenuous ride it had sustained as the afternoon sun began to dwindle its way toward the horizon.
The man atop the horse hummed genially as he went, his keen blue eyes taking in his surroundings with a bright twinkle that had made many a man speculate on his wisdom - or his madness.
But Gandalf the Grey was never one for lunacy of any sort; indeed, his ways were often mysterious and eccentric, but mad? Never. Though some would disagree, most definitely, if they heard the Wizard's plan for a Quest, an idea that had formed when the map and the key within his cloak had first been acquired, and reinforced very recently as he remembered the dried piece of leather on his person with a grimace; this, of course, being the very reason he was on the Road in the first place, following a shadow of a rumor that led straight to the village of Bree.
The Wizard and his horse rode for a while more, until the sun had become a glowing red orb above the countryside, and Gandalf deemed it necessary to take a break. He heard the gurgling of a stream nearby, and steered his horse toward the sound, the mare picking up speed at the prospect of fresh water, and Gandalf chuckled.
"A well-deserved rest, I think," he said, patting the mare's neck fondly. "You have borne your Master admirably, Aléthel."
The mare snorted in response, and when the stream came into view, Gandalf disembarked from the saddle and stretched his legs, collecting some water for himself, as well, while the horse drank beside him.
When he was finished, he pulled out his pipe and settled down for a moment's smoke, deep in thought; he debated whether he should stop for the night or keep pressing on to Bree, which was still a three days' ride from where he currently was, puffing and blowing smoke rings absent-mindedly while he pondered. The items he carried were not to be dawdled with, but Gandalf was fairly certain he had pushed Aléthel far enough for one week, and did not wish to exert his horse too much.
Three days was not that long at all, he decided, and he moved to put out his pipe and remove some supplies from the saddle, when something before him caught his eye.
It was a tree that had sparked his interest; and though Gandalf was a lover of all things natural and beautiful (being a close second only to Radagast the Brown when it came to the creations of Yavanna), he wondered what had captured his attention so, until he looked harder at the tree.
This tree was unusual and out of place amongst its neighbors; not only was it an ash tree surrounded by oaks and maples, but while the other trees were green and in full bloom from the lingering summer weather, this tree was dead, black, and charred, as if it had been burned recently. Its branches twisted up into the sky, and against the golden-red of the sunset behind it, Gandalf could truly imagine it being burned. An ash tree that had been burned…
Understanding and a sense of dread suddenly flooded the Wizard, mingling with some surprise as he continued to stare at the tree, his mind whirling with the possibilities.
After scrutinizing the tree for several more minutes, Gandalf finally chuckled and shook his head, turning in the direction of the West with a broad smile upon his face.
"I should have known," he said amusedly. "You have quite the plan for us this time around, I feel, my friends."
There was no reply, of course, but Gandalf could imagine a slightly warmer breeze touch his face as he turned back to Aléthel, the mare eyeing him with a sort of resigned look in her intelligent dark eyes.
"I apologize, my dear," Gandalf said, smiling as he climbed back into the saddle. "But we must make haste now to Bree, if we are to be successful in this coming venture."
It was with heavy feet and an even heavier heart that Thorin Oakenshield entered into The Prancing Pony, water dripping from his clothes and streaming from his hood from the onslaught of rain plaguing the town outside of the inn's warm and babbling bar area.
Thorin made for the only available table in the place, a large bench that would satisfy a bigger party than just him, but he sank down gratefully nonetheless, giving his order to one of the matrons that whisked by, out of breath from twisting and dodging through the turbulent crowd.
While waiting for his food and drink, Thorin began twisting one of the silver rings on his fingers, a habit he often found himself doing nowadays when he was lost deep in thought, or just bored out of his mind in council meetings. But today his mind was not filled with the maddening dilemma of contracts and missives, but rather of thoughts of his father, and the bitterness that rushed through him upon realizing that he never should have listened to those rumors in the first place; all it had done was raise his hopes and drop his feet out from under him, yet again, as did all matters that concerned Thráin as of late.
The arrival of his food broke Thorin out of his brooding, and after a quick thanks, he began to tear into the chunk of bread he had been given along with his meat, cheese and ale, ravenous after his long trek through the countryside.
He was just swallowing away the last of the bread with a swig from his tankard, when suddenly a broad shadow moved out of nowhere and sat on the bench opposite him, saying, "Mind if I join you?"
Thorin clunked down his tankard and moved toward his sword hilt simultaneously, choking on a bit of ale he had sucked down in surprise at this stranger's sudden appearance, but when he took in the benign features, piercing blue eyes, and grey robes of the silver-haired and bearded man before him, Thorin relaxed his grip, instead raising an eyebrow coolly.
"Allow me to introduce myself," the man said, unaware to Thorin's split second reactions as he smiled serenely. "I am Gandalf, Gandalf the Grey."
"I know who you are," Thorin replied, and the Wizard now seated before him inclined his head, though he looked amused.
"Well, now, this is a fine chance," he said, as Thorin took another drink from his tankard, careful not to inhale any of it this time. "What brings Thorin Oakenshield to Bree?"
Thorin stiffened, lowering his tankard as he met the Wizard's eyes solemnly. "There was a rumor," he said reluctantly, as Gandalf gazed at him with his scrutinizing eyes. "That my father, Thráin, had been found wandering the Wilds near Dunland. I came looking..."
"But there was no sign of him," Gandalf stated, reading the hard expression on Thorin's face, and the dwarf's hands tightened around his tankard.
"My father came to see you before he went missing," he said, meeting the Wizard's gaze again, and he suddenly noticed the expectation in the depths, as if he had been anticipating this turn in the conversation. "What did you say to him?"
"The same thing I will say to you," he replied, entwining his long fingers before him on the table and still staring at Thorin levelly. "I urged him to march upon Erebor, to run the second army of the Dwarves - to kill the dragon, and take back your homeland."
Thorin blinked, saying nothing, but when the Wizard showed no signs of relenting or playing it off as jest, his mouth turned up in a sardonic grin, and he said wryly, "This is no chance meeting, is it, Gandalf?"
"I should imagine not," the Wizard said dryly, and Thorin got the strong sense that the other man was refraining from rolling his eyes as he went on. "The Lonely Mountain troubles me, Thorin. The dragon has lingered there for far too long, and I fear that darker minds will soon turn to the East. In fact, I have reason to believe it has already begun."
"What do you mean?" Thorin asked, and Gandalf reached into the folds of his cloak to retrieve something.
"I ran into some unsavory characters whilst traveling along the Greenway," he said as he rummaged around in his clothes. "They mistook me for a vagabond."
"I imagine they regretted that," Thorin muttered under his breath, but either the Wizard hadn't heard him or just ignored him, and he figured it was the latter as the other man slid what looked to be a dried skin across the table toward him, etched with harsh, crude markings.
"It is the Black Speech," Gandalf said in reply to Thorin's inquisitive look, and the dwarf recoiled his hand instantly, his lip curling at the ugly language as Gandalf added, "A promise of payment."
"For what?" Thorin asked, not entirely sure he wanted to know, but Gandalf answered anyway.
Thorin looked up at this, feeling shock and sudden dread run through him, and, oddly, some sort of resign, as if he had somehow suspected something like this all along.
"Someone wants you dead, Thorin," Gandalf continued stoically. "This means that the thought of Erebor has already crossed another's mind, and that you are now perceived as a threat to them and whatever claim they plan to make. You are the heir to the throne of Durin; unite the armies of the Dwarves and together you have the might and power to take back the Mountain. Summon a meeting of the seven Dwarf families, demand they stand by their oath!"
"The seven armies swore that oath only to the one who wields the Arkenstone," Thorin said, shaking his head. "It is the only thing that will unite them; and, in case you have forgotten, that jewel was stolen by Smaug decades ago. It is folly."
Thorin bit back his frustration with these last words; it had been a tantalizing prospect, shining wickedly in Gandalf's hands but a few minutes ago, until reality had come back to him and filled him with sense once again, though he still watched Gandalf carefully.
The Wizard pursed his lips, and there seemed to be some debate going on inside of him, until finally he said, quite unexpectedly, "What if I were to help you reclaim it?"
"How?" Thorin said suspiciously, refusing to acknowledge how his heart had swooped at his words before he began to hope once more; he had had enough of that during his despondent traverse through the Wild. "The Arkenstone lies half a world away, buried beneath the feet of a fire-breathing dragon."
"Yes, I am quite aware," Gandalf said, a bit snappishly, and Thorin raised his brows. "Which is why I'm suggesting you hire a burglar."
There was a moment of silence, until Thorin broke it, repeating dubiously, "A burglar? And how exactly would that work?"
"Are you unaware of what a burglar is?" he replied, and his tone was definitely edged now as Thorin leaned back from the table a bit, unaware of how close he had actually gotten to the Wizard until he had moved away. "Use your common sense, Thorin Oakenshield."
"All right, fine," Thorin conceded, scowling. "What I meant was, who would be doing the task?"
"I may already have someone in mind," the Wizard said, almost sheepishly, and Thorin looked on in some surprise; it seemed he had put a lot of thought into this already, if he had been toying with the idea of a burglar, and Thorin hadn't even agreed to anything yet. "He would be a Hobbit from the Shire, in fact."
Thorin started a bit, staring hard at the man across from him, who hadn't moved an inch for the entirety of the conversation, he noticed. "A Hobbit?" Thorin repeated, and when the Wizard nodded in confirmation, Thorin snorted, reaching for his ale again. "Hobbits are not burglars or survivors of the Wild. All they know and care about is how to eat their weight in food and farm. They have no desire to leave their homes, and even less if you were to tell them they would be stealing from a dragon."
"Then there may be some surprises in this world for you yet, Thorin," Gandalf said, grinning slightly, and Thorin gave the Wizard a dry look. "But does this mean that you have agreed to a quest, then?"
Thorin opened his mouth, then closed it, letting the thoughts mull in his head. He wanted to say yes, beyond anything; this was his chance, to slay that fiery snake once and for all and retake his kingdom; but he also thought of his halls now, of Ered Luin, and this was what started the internal battle in his head. He had another kingdom to look after, a sister and nephews who would need him...
But he needed this, too, he realized. Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, his birthright - he needed this. After everything he had been through, all that he had done... he needed this.
"Yes," he said quietly, but then he cleared his throat and looked back up to Gandalf, meeting the wise, piercing blue eyes steadily as he repeated, louder, "Yes, I agree."
Gandalf smiled, though he still looked tense as he said, "Excellent. In addition, then, to you, our burglar, and I, I was also thinking that we should keep this venture to a smaller party, no more than fifteen at the most."
"Fifteen?" Thorin echoed, his brows scrunching. "Why not more?"
"Because any larger would be sure to draw attention," he replied, and Thorin paused, stumped, knowing the Wizard made a good point.
When Thorin did not reply, a prolonged silence fell upon the pair, until Gandalf spoke up once more, though his question was so sudden and random that Thorin was momentarily thrown.
"Have you ever heard of the legends of the Ashburne Line?" the Wizard said, and it took a few seconds for Thorin to scrounge up an answer.
"Once or twice," he answered, confused. "Why?"
Gandalf shrugged. "What have you heard?"
"Not much," Thorin said, wondering where the Wizard was going with this. "It is more of a tale for Men and Elves than Dwarves. All I recall is that they were descendants of the House of Hador and great warriors, and that one of them disappeared in the First Age; and ever since then, it is said that strange Men claiming to be an Ashburne would walk back into this world from another. But those are nothing more than fanciful stories," he said, frowning. "Why would you ask about such myths?"
"No reason," the Wizard replied evenly, before shifting the topic of conversation to the matter of departure dates, saying that the group Thorin chose should meet in the Shire on the last day of April, but Thorin couldn't shake the feeling that there was something Gandalf was not telling him.
And he also felt that this seemingly harmless conversation would turn into something he would regret later on as the two talked well into the night, the rain continuing to pour outside as the Quest for Erebor began its proper foundations.
Chapter One: Of Books, Bus Stops, and Shortcuts
Alison Ashburne wondered, not for the first time, why of all the days in the year, her mother had chosen that particular week to ground her from her car as she watched the rain pour down outside the classroom window.
The bell rang, signaling the end of the school day, and there was a flurry of movement as students stood up, collecting their things, and practically running out the door, ready to enjoy their weekend.
Alison packed away her notebooks and pens more slowly, already imagining how uncomfortable she'd be waiting for the bus in the downpour.
"So, Ali, you ready for Wild West this weekend?" Alison turned around, meeting the brown-eyed gaze of her best friend, Lexi.
"Lexi, you know better than anyone that I'm grounded for the next three weeks." Alison said, slinging her bag over her shoulder as they exited the classroom. After five minutes, the school was already deserted, and their footsteps echoed down the polished hallway as they walked slowly towards the front double doors of the high school.
"That's like, three years," she said, wrinkling her nose in distaste. "What am I supposed to do without you?"
"I don't know, maybe go with your boyfriend?" Alison suggested sarcastically, shooting her friend a wicked grin.
Lexi shot her a look, half-smiling. "You know Jacob doesn't like dancing."
"I don't either, but somehow you always manage to get me to come," Alison pushed open the front doors, and the two girls stopped under the overhang of the school, listening to the rain patter on the roof for a few seconds. Alison sighed as she stared out at the soaked parking lot.
"Are you sure you don't need a ride?" Lexi asked in concern, noticing her friend's reluctance to walk out into the rain.
"My mom said I have to take the bus into town," Alison said, shaking her head. "It's part of my punishment."
"I feel so bad," Lexi said, chewing on her lower lip. "I shouldn't have convinced you to sneak out to go to that concert. I had no idea—"
"Lexi, it's fine," Alison said. "It was my fault I got caught."
"Stop," Alison said firmly. "Don't beat yourself up about it. I'll see you on Monday, all right?"
"Okay. Be safe." Lexi waved as she sprinted to her silver Ford Focus, her short blonde hair getting drenched within seconds.
Alison watched her friend drive out of the parking lot, then pulled her jacket hood up over her head, cursing herself for not bringing an umbrella before storming out of her house that morning. After her mom had told her that she wasn't allowed to drive her car for the next three weeks and she would have to take the charter bus to get back into town, she had been so angry that she had left without even glancing at her weather app.
Oh well, a resigned part of her thought as she made her way to the lonely bus stop two miles away. It's my fault for sneaking out to that concert two nights ago. I guess I deserve it.
A part of Alison felt guilty for what she had done, lying to her mom and climbing out of her bedroom window to go to that stupid concert at the dance hall in town, and then getting caught because she had forgotten to disable her alarm before leaving. But Alison was tired of being the perfect little goody two-shoes, living in the same boring, small Texas town, and doing the same boring things every night. She felt like her life was supposed to mean something more than this endless imprisonment of nothingness; she knew she was meant for greater things, for adventures or something of the sort. But she was stuck in the same repetitive life, like a broken record that kept playing the same part over and over again. But she also knew nothing was going to happen to an insignificant girl like her, but that didn't stop her from hoping.
And how wrong she was.
Alison approached the deserted bus stop, her teeth chattering from the uncomfortable chill of the October rainfall. Even in Texas, rain could be cold sometimes, especially when all she was wearing was a light jacket and jeans.
She sat down on the bus stop bench, the awning over her head offering some shelter from the downpour. She checked her phone, seeing that the time only read 4:15. She groaned, yanking her headphones from her bag. The bus wasn't going to be there for another ten or fifteen minutes at least, and she began to form a passionate argument against her mother in her head as she jammed the ear buds in her ears and began blasting her music.
Alison gazed out across the desolate road, where the farm land looked gray and bleak in the dim light, and the sky was obscured by heavy rain clouds. Not knowing what else to do, she just stared across the road and sang out loud, not having anyone around to hear her. "Where do we go, when we walk on light, who do we call, at the edge of night..."
When the song was coming to a close, Alison suddenly felt a prickle on the back of her neck, and she turned to see an old man seated on the bench beside her. She started, ripping her headphones out of her ears and closing her mouth immediately, beyond embarrassed that this man had to experience her horrific singing.
"Oh my gosh," she said, shutting off her music and stowing away her phone in her pocket. "I am so sorry, sir—I didn't know you were there, I'm sorry."
The old man smiled kindly at her, his eyes a piercing blue that contained wisdom beyond her own years. "Don't be sorry, my dear. I apologize for sneaking up on you; but you seemed so wrapped up in your music I didn't want to disturb you." The man's eyes twinkled good-naturedly, but Alison felt herself blushing.
"Again, I'm sorry for that," she said, trying for a somewhat awkward smile.
"Don't be," the old man suddenly held out his hand. "I am Ian McKellen."
Alison shook his hand, feeling his calluses and wrinkles under her own slim fingers as she said, "Alison Ashburne."
"What a lovely name," Mr. McKellen remarked, adjusting comfortably on the bench. "Thank you." Alison replied, getting over her initial shock and embarrassment.
Mr. McKellen was dressed in a light gray suit with a matching hat, which covered his close-cropped gray hair and cast his benign, lined face into shadow. He carried a brown leather briefcase, and Alison wondered what a sophisticated-looking man like himself was doing at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere.
"So…" she said awkwardly, and Mr. McKellen looked at her again with those piercing eyes. "Do you, um, live around town or anything?"
"No," he replied cheerily. "I'm merely visiting."
"Family, friends?" Alison prayed the bus would come soon, because she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and pressured under the scrutiny of his gaze.
"You could say a friend." Mr. McKellen smiled merrily, looking back out to the rain, and Alison just sat there, still wary and awkward.
After a few moments of silence, the old man opened his briefcase, and Alison caught a glimpse of a strange piece of paper, almost like a weird map, before the case snapped closed again. Mr. McKellen had taken out a small paperback book, worn and slightly beat up, and Alison felt a twinge of annoyance. She was an extreme book-lover, and it pained her to see books that had gone through wear and tear.
She looked closer at the faded green cover, and uttered a small gasp of pleasure as she recognized the novel. "The Hobbit!"
Mr. McKellen looked at her with a sparkle of amusement. "You've read it?"
"Well, yes. But it was a long time ago. I don't really remember it that much."
"Really? Excellent, excellent…" he trailed off, fingering the book cover thoughtfully. "Perhaps…" Alison had no idea what he was talking about, but at that moment she saw the charter bus trundling into view down the road, and she felt relief as she slung her bag over her shoulder.
She was standing up to leave when Mr. McKellen's voice stopped her in her tracks. "Have you ever been on an adventure, Miss Ashburne?"
Alison turned around, startled at the question. "Excuse me?"
"An adventure," Mr. McKellen repeated. "You know, of the sort where you hike across mountains and discover things you never knew about your world before?"
Alison figured the man must be yanking her chain, since she had no idea what he was talking about. "Um…no," she replied slowly, as the bus pulled to a screeching stop in front of her. "I've never been out of this town in my life, as lame as that sounds."
"Well, that's good!" Mr. McKellen exclaimed, making no move to get up and join her. "There's always a first time for everything."
"That's true," Alison said, stepping closer to the bus as the doors swung open. She was about to climb into the bus when his voice stopped her again.
"Oh, and Miss Ashburne?" Alison glanced over her shoulder, where Mr. McKellen was still seated leisurely on the bench. "Read 'The Hobbit' again. I'm sure you will find it useful."
Alison only nodded in reply, punching in her bus card and taking a seat near the middle of the bus. There was only one other person on board, seated in the back, snoring with a pair of headphones on.
The bus doors swung closed, and the vehicle began to move, when Alison noticed that Mr. McKellen had not gotten on the bus.
"Um, sir?" she called to the bus driver. "There's another person at this stop we need to wait for."
Though Mr. McKellen had been slightly uncomfortable and annoying, he was polite and elderly, and Alison didn't want to leave him in the rain. However, the bus driver just gave her a strange look through his rearview mirror and said, "There's no other person at that stop, ma'am. Sorry."
"What?" Alison said to herself, and swung around in her seat, craning her head to get a better look at the bus stop, about to point out the old man—except he wasn't there. The bench was empty of any gray-suited, briefcase-carrying old man, as was the surrounding area around the stop. It was as if Mr. McKellen had simply vanished.
The bus started forward again, heading towards town, and Alison watched the stop fade away into the rain in disbelief, refusing to accept that Mr. McKellen was gone. He was there. She had seen him with her own eyes, spoken to him, shaken his hand. He couldn't be gone.
But he was, and Alison didn't know what else to think except that he had left when she had gotten on the bus. Shaking her damp hair out of her eyes, she settled back into her seat and tried not to think of Mr. McKellen again. She managed to succeed for quite a few months, but of course, fate always had other plans. And Alison Ashburne was about to discover just what exactly her fate was.
Six Months Later
"I can't do this anymore," Alison moaned, rubbing her temples with her fingers. "I feel like my brain is fried."
"I feel you," Lexi replied through a yawn, dropping her pencil on her paper and stretching out her fingers.
"How about we stop here and regroup tomorrow?" Kyle suggested, his eyes bloodshot behind his glasses as he took a last sip out of his coffee cup.
"Agreed," Victoria said, stacking up her papers and putting them into her backpack. "Same time, same place?"
The study group all mumbled in agreement, packing up their various belongings sluggishly, slow and stupid from their hard afternoon of studying for finals.
Alison was the first one to get up, and she was about to leave when Lexi stopped her."Oh, Ali, here." She pulled out a pair of dark skinny jeans from her bag and tossed them to Alison. "Thanks for letting me borrow them."
"No problem," Alison said. She was too lazy to put them in her backpack, so she just slung them over her arm as she headed out the door, waving over her shoulder to her friends.
The late April humidity clung to her skin as she crossed the empty street, leaving the coffee shop where they studied for tests behind as she hopped onto the sidewalk on the other side of the road. Night had just fallen, and the streetlamps flickered on, providing soft pools of orange light for her to walk through as she made her way home.
To her right was the small town square of her hometown, West, Texas, everything already closed for the night and locked up except for a few restaurants and the dance hall, where she could hear the whoops and laughter of people as they danced and the rhythmic, twangy pounding of country music. To her left was the tiny park, thick with pecan trees and dark from the absence of artificial lights.
Alison ducked into the trees, for she knew a path through the park that would lead her practically to her front door step. She breathed in the fresh, clean scent of dirt and trees as she wound her way through the shortcut. After a couple minutes, she began to see the glow of house lights in the distance, and she made her way towards them until she was suddenly stopped.
It was as if she had run face-first into a glass door; Alison smashed her head into it, hurting her nose, and she fell back into the grass, her bag falling from her shoulder and hitting the ground with a muffled thud. "Ow," she said in surprise, rubbing her nose. "What the hell?"
She felt in front of her, not seeing the thing she had run into, but after a few seconds of groping her fingers pushed up against something solid. She sat up on her knees, pushing forward still, but it was as if there was an invisible barricade in front of her, refusing to budge.
"What the hell?" she repeated. She felt to her sides, and encountered the same thing; pressing back, her shoulder blades connected with the same solid invisible wall.
Seized by a feeling of sudden terror and panic, Alison scrambled to her feet, banging on the invisible walls, trying to find a way out. "Hello? Hello!" she yelled frantically, but she knew it was hopeless. She was still in the middle of the dark and deserted park, and she doubted that anyone would be able to hear her. "Somebody please help!"
Alison suddenly felt a blow to her stomach, as if someone had grabbed her by her navel and was pulling on her. She collapsed to the ground, still trying to scream and push as her stomach heaved. It felt as if she were being sucked into a black hole or something, and she clawed maniacally at the invisible walls as bright light began to flood her vision.
"Help! Help!" she screamed, and then she felt the ground split open beneath her. As Alison began to fall, she grabbed on to the first thing her hand found, which was—wow, thank God—her pants that Lexi had given back to her.
Screaming and grappling at empty air, Alison and her pants fell and fell, until she crashed into something hard and solid and blacked out. When she awoke, a pair of familiar, piercing blue eyes greeted her, and an eerily familiar voice said, "So. You have finally arrived."
Alison looked up groggily and saw Ian McKellen standing over her, looking very strange and different from how Alison remembered him. "Welcome to Middle-earth." He said.
Blackness swirled in Alison's vision, and before she passed out again, she managed to croak out one word: "Shit," before unconsciousness swallowed her once more.
Ending Author's Note
Well, I hope y'all liked it, and I would appreciate it so much if you left a review! Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome!
The song Alison sings is Don't Let Me Go by RAIGN. I highly recommend listening to it, it's a great song.
Also, Fun Fact of the Day: You can tell which chapters are old because they have bold A/N instead of this style; I plan on going back and editing those, as well, at least up until Chapter Ten. But anyway.
Thanks for reading! Until next chapter...