Part 1: Chapter 13
“How did we beat you to lunch?” Isla whispered as I arrived at the table.
I picked up a bowl of soup when I went through the line, and placed it down before I sat in the empty chair. “I took a walk and got distracted.” I left out the part about me meeting Caiden. I didn’t want to have that conversation with her, especially in Trayen’s presence with his current mood.
Trayen idly poked at his grilled fish.
An uneasy silence settled between us. I glanced between them both as the minutes ticked past. Finally, after no one spoke up, I began to eat. Trayen stared at the table, and Isla fidgeted.
“Where is Animal Studies? I have it after lunch,” I asked both of them only knowing that Isla would answer. Trayen was still silent and moping.
Isla smiled. “It’s out in the stables. You get to choose which animal you want to study. You have been going to see the horses.”
I should’ve just stayed out on the fencing grounds. I would be crossing Day territory again. Hopefully, Caiden had gone to bed by now, if he ever slept. Another meeting with him alone might not be a good thing for me at this moment. Already I was feeling signs of hope that we could form a relationship and keep it secret. I was painstakingly trying to not think about that. All it would lead to was disappointment.
“I’ll take you,” Trayen spoke up.
I sharply looked at him, as he roused me from my thoughts.
Isla tensed up.
“I’m headed out to the Shrine anyway. It’s in the same direction,” he continued.
I breathed. He didn’t sound upset. But he didn’t look at me either. I knew where the stables were, but I kept my mouth shut. Maybe this was Trayen’s idea of an apology.
After lunch, Isla headed off to another class that I wasn’t in. I waited as Trayen headed upstairs to his room to change for Guarding. When he arrived back downstairs we both walked out into the courtyards towards the stables, taking the paths slowly, and not rushing.
“You are awfully quick for a Night class student,” he stated, breaking the silence between us.
“Am I?” I didn’t think I moved that fast. From my point of view I was moving normally.
“You can summon Air magic to do your bidding, but not use Earth to shield you. You don’t use your sword to fight, but dodge attacks effortlessly.” He moved in front of me, blocking my path suddenly.
I was forced to stop. We were in the Aurora Grove again. But this time I felt different. The feeling wasn’t coming from Caiden’s possible presence, but from Trayen. He felt like a threat to me. Even if he was one of my friends, he was questioning my abilities even though I knew nothing about them. After all, I was still learning to be me.
“Who are you?” he demanded suddenly in a low voice that I secretly hoped he would never utter again. The tone scared me.
I shrunk backwards instinctively. “Trayen, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m Mallie, your friend. I don’t remember anything else.” Hopefully, he would leave the matter alone.
He moved closer to me, too close for comfort. “You,” he breathed before stopping himself. A long minute passed as he stared intently at me. He shook his head in confusion. “You look like a Night student. You act like a Shaper.” His green eyes were back on me.
I was shocked to hear this new revelation. How long had he thought this? “Are you accusing me of being one?” The words left my mouth, before I thought to give them heed.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
He looked like he was trying to make sense of something I didn’t understand. Was this about me and my abilities or something else I had no knowledge of? Even though I couldn’t remember my former self, I knew in my heart that I’d never betray him or Isla. They were my closest friends. “Trayen, I don’t remember anything about my former life. I woke up as a Guardian. So that makes me a Guardian. Why would I be a Shaper in the Night class?”
“To misuse our friendship? To make fun of us? Are you here to spy on the Guardian class?”
Tears welled up in my face. I couldn’t believe he was accusing me of betraying them. “I would never betray my friends, neither you nor Isla. Why would you suggest it?” I cried. This was distressing me.
His eyes bored into mine. “I need to make sure. I can’t let you know the secrets of the Guardians if you aren’t going to keep them.”
Secrets? What was he talking about? And then it hit me; this wasn’t about Guardian secrets at all. This was still about our duel from earlier. I stood up straighter. “So that’s what this is all about? You won’t let me know the secrets of the Guardians? So I can’t perform Guard duty? Up show you?” I cried out, not caring if he saw the tears or not. I still couldn’t believe that he was upset about me beating him at the duel. Wasn’t it a good thing that I was able to do that?
He shook his head again. “No, that’s not what I meant.”
“Then what did you mean? You’ve been moping about me defeating you earlier in fencing. You attack my abilities and ethics here in the Aurora Grove, not to mention you think I am your enemy and not your friend. What is wrong with you?” I unleashed all of how I was feeling. I didn’t care if it hurt him, for he hurt me.
He stepped back. It was quiet for a long time; neither of us moved nor spoke.
I didn’t know what to say. He was behaving oddly.
“It doesn’t make any sense. None of it does.” He paced back and forth, frustrated by something that he hadn’t spoken of. It was a matter of time before the real words came out.
“Will you enlighten me?”
“You have abnormal qualities for a Guardian. And all the Night class students know it. But we also know that there was a Day student that had abnormal qualities for a Shaper. Did the Headmistress mess up and switch you two by accident?” He mused this more to himself, but I felt like some of it was directed at me.
“I… We talked about this before. You told me that I would do fine. Are you saying now that I’m not going to?” I had no defense. I didn’t know anything about my past, for the journal didn’t mention anything about my heritage. What I learned about myself and my former actions were from others that interacted with me. I was still walking blindly on the path to knowing myself. I was still trying to figure me out.
“This isn’t about that anymore. I’ve seen the way Caiden looks at you.”
He did? Oh, no. I did not want to trot down this path. I struggled with myself, hoping he didn’t notice anything.
“I guess after Caiden dated Aralisa, you’re much tamer than she was, even if it is forbidden.”
“Trayen, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve heard those rumors, just like you have. You don’t know they’re true. Just like the fact that she is a better archer then our archers. That’s all just a rumor. You’re just jealous of all this stuff. You’re jealous of the fact that I am able to dodge attacks easily. Aren’t all Guardians adept at that?”
“Maybe, but explain the speed at which you dodge,” he retorted.
What? What speed? “What exactly are you talking about?”
“You move too quickly to be a Guardian. You move just like that Mirabella chick, only slightly faster.”
I moved that fast? “How?”
“You tell me,” he shouted.
I was flabbergasted. “I don’t know…its instinct. I just…do it.” Those were all the words I could get out.
“You just do it?” he shouted again.
Tears fell from my eyes again. His words were tearing me apart inside. How was I supposed to explain my instincts to him?
Trayen rounded on me again. He was getting angrier by the minute. I could see it in his eyes. He made two steps towards me when a figure blocked his path.
Caiden, apparently not sleeping, jumped down from the oak’s branches and landed in-between us before Trayen could reach me. He stopped in his tracks, staring at the Day student.
“Get out of my way, this is between me and Mallie,” Trayen whispered.
Caiden didn’t move. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you to come any closer.”
“Why?” I asked him directly.
“I won’t let him hurt you,” he spoke to me, even though he faced Trayen. Once again, I heard the adoration in his voice, but there wasn’t just compassion anymore, there was defense, protection. He sounded like he was protecting me.
“Trayen won’t hurt me. He’s one of my friends,” I spoke back to Caiden.
Trayen stared at me with new eyes. “Mallie, even you wouldn’t…” He froze, not finishing his sentence.
“I’m only protecting her for your sake, Trayen. If you attack her, you’ll be subject to the Headmistress. You know the rules,” Caiden sternly spoke to Trayen.
I blinked. I remembered some of the rules from my journal. If anyone attacks members of the same class they’re in, they’re automatically suspended from classes pending a review from the Headmaster or Headmistress. Caiden was protecting Trayen from himself. I didn’t understand why he would do that.
“Fine. You know where to go, Mallie.” He turned and walked off, leaving me alone with Caiden, in the grove, again.
I had to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled about that. I’d rather be with Trayen still trying to hash out our difficulties, but that’s not how things turned out. I was in too much shock to comprehend how in the world he found me here in the same spot, although the argument between Trayen and I was probably loud and not easy to avoid hearing.
As I was trying to think of how to get away from the guy, I realized that his composure had changed drastically. Caiden stood proud and strong, not casually flirty as he had in the past times we’d met. He wasn’t playing with me or my emotions, for I didn’t feel passion lighting up inside. Remembering the feelings he held within his words when he intervened, I nearly stumbled from the sudden shock of it all. He protected me.
Coming back to reality, I realized Caiden was concerned for my health. He stared into my eyes, and I knew that Trayen was safely away from us, that he would not hear his words. “Are you alright?” he asked, seriously concerned.
My excuse to bail slipped away. His mannerisms towards me were changing. He was actually genteel. “Why’d you do that?” I asked him.
“I told you before. I didn’t want to see you hurt.” The compassion was back in the tone of his words.
He must’ve known that Trayen would never strike me down or lay a finger on me, despite how angry he really was. But I was hurt by Trayen’s words, not to mention he left the grove upset. It would be a long time before we could talk again by the way Caiden intervened. If he had left us alone, then we might have worked things out, though I couldn’t see exactly how. “Then why did you intervene?”
He gazed into my eyes, looking apologetic. “You would be hurt if he was expelled. He’s one of your friends.”
That statement shocked me far beyond what his actions were doing. I didn’t imagine him caring at all for my feelings. Especially not after the way he would leave me gasping for air when he departed from my presence. “Why do you even care about my feelings? You shouldn’t.” I shook my head at him. This was not possible.
“But I do. I used to not care. But I do now.”
I breathed out a sigh of shock. He was honestly speaking with me. None of his words sounded playful or teasing. They were sincere. “I don’t see the difference. You’re with Mirabella now. You didn’t care when you were with Aralisa. You shouldn’t care now. We’re not even in the same class.” My feelings rushed out. “We are not the same.”
He took a small step closer. We were near each other, but still far enough away that I wasn’t overwhelmed by his presence. “It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. With Aralisa I didn’t need to care. We had fun, but that’s all it was.”
“And Mirabella? Is she not your source of fun?”
He half smiled at me. “Mirabella and I don’t always see eye to eye.”
I shook my head, still not completely understanding this sudden change. He was almost a completely different person. “I’m going to be late for Animal Studies. I need to go.” I brushed past him, heading out of the grove.
He stopped me by gently taking my hand as I passed. His touch froze me in place. “I care about how you’re treated. I didn’t before, but I do now,” he repeated. He bent his head and kissed my hand.
I blushed scarlet. I could feel the blood pumping through my heart and face. His hand was warm, extremely warm. It was comfortable and soft. Touching him made me feel safe at once.
He released my hand, leaving me with a feeling of safety. I paused, sensing my heart reaching a normal state from the shock I previously felt.
“See you later.” He winked at me and strolled off.
There was a small playful tone in his last words to me, but he spoke it with more genuine feeling that I knew I would see him again, rather than the possibility that he was leaving me alone for good. I scattered off to the stables as quick as I could. I reached it before one o’clock.