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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, Twenty-Fifth Chapter 📄

In this chapter, Luca finally gets to take Cass back in time to confront a past event. An event that might not have happened the way she remembers. It brings her closer to understanding her life lesson and accepting Luca's help, but it also attracts some unwanted attention. The Spell Tracker won't wait forever to enforce the terms of his contract...

You can catch up on chapters one through twenty-four via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.


25 A Revelation

Devin came to visit me during the weekend. I was grateful for his company. Now I had a plan to help Cass, I was eager to get started, which naturally meant the time between Friday and Monday slowed to a crawl. It was hard to believe I’d only known Devin for a month. Our connection, and the fact we were both Light Mages, strengthened our feelings without us even trying.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s the best kisser I’ve ever met.
“How’s this going to work?” he asked me. “Once you’ve shown her some of what she’s forgotten, I mean.”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “Recognizing the lesson is just the start of the process. Assuming we’re right about what the lesson is.”
He shifted position so we were facing each other. The backstage area was a terrible place to meet, really, but it felt like it was ours now. And it was also unlikely any teachers visiting the school out of hours would disturb us.
“Once she understands it, though… Why wouldn’t she try to learn the lesson?” said Devin.
“She still has free will,” I replied. “Gabe didn’t have to come out, did he? He chose to. He could also have chosen to stay in the closet his entire life.”
“But… that would have been ridiculous.”
“In your opinion,” I pointed out.
“In the opinion of any sensible person,” he retorted.
“It’s his prerogative, though. It has to be. And it’s not for you to say what’s right or wrong for him.”
Devin scowled. “Is that my lesson, then? To support my friends even when I don’t agree with them? That’s… well…” He trailed off. “I suppose it doesn’t sound so stupid now I’ve said it out loud.”
I grinned. “No. It’s not black-and-white though. You have a tendency to assume responsibility for the people you care about. It will probably be an ongoing theme for you.”
“Have you looked at my life path?”
I shook my head.
“But… Elizabeth? How did you know where to find her?”
“I haven’t looked forward.” I was scared of what I might find. Light Mages were given the opportunity to graduate as guardians at least once in each incarnation. I don’t want to know. Leaving him would be difficult enough as it was.
“I’ll help. With Cass,” he said. “Just tell me what to do.”
“Thanks. I’m afraid I’ll be making it up as I go along, though.”
“I trust you.”
He leaned over to kiss me. I lifted my hand to his neck and closed my eyes, allowing myself to be distracted from the fear I would let him down. I could only do my best. Unfortunately, there was an excellent chance my best would fall wide of the mark.
On Monday, Cass made me wait until the end of the school day before she would even talk to me in private, let alone allow me to take her anywhere. I became increasingly afraid she’d changed her mind.
When the bell rang, she followed me to an empty classroom willingly enough, trailing her backpack on the ground behind her. I offered to carry it and she gave me a scornful look. A second later she sighed and handed it to me.
“You OK?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I feel like shit, but it’s nothing specific. Ignore me. I’m being a lightweight.”
The darkness surrounding her was verging on impenetrable. It was no wonder her energy had plummeted. I hoped I was doing the right thing. Without her former anger to sustain her, she was closer to confronting her life lesson, but also more vulnerable.
Devin was waiting. Cass turned around to frown at me. “What’s he doing here?”
“He’s just going to make sure no one disturbs us,” I said.
“Does… does he know about all of this? Any of this?” Cass took a step backward, then another.
Mihi crede,” I said, more fiercely than I needed to. She paused. “He’s your brother,” I went on. “He loves you. You’re behaving like you’re all alone in the world.”
She folded her arms. “You do not get to tell me what to do.”
“No. And I’m not. I’m stating the facts,” I replied.
Cass opened her mouth and closed it again. She looked at Devin, who stared back at her with a faint smile. Cass dropped her gaze first.
“OK. He can stay,” she muttered.
Devin went to stand outside and I locked the classroom door behind him. I lengthened my sleeves and reached for Cass’s hand as I’d done before.
“Wait,” she said. “Don’t you need me to tell you where and when?”
I glanced at the door and she immediately understood. Her expression became terrified. “You’re not… you’re not saying h-he… No. He’s wrong. I need him to be wrong.”
“Let’s see,” I said, ignoring her panic. The sooner we got this started, the better. I took hold of her hand. “It will be dark, and we have to stay silent. I’m going to use a spell to make sure of it. You won’t be able to talk to me. Squeeze my hand three times if you want to leave. OK?”
She nodded. I said the date and location and our surroundings transformed. It wasn’t as dark as I’d feared thanks to a chink of light from where the doors of the wardrobe we were standing in didn’t quite join. I wobbled, stepping sideways to avoid what felt like a book under my right foot.
Cass reached out her free hand to trace the pattern of wood panels on the door, stopping at the handle. Her grip on my hand relaxed a little. We waited, with only the sound of an occasional car passing on the street outside for company.
After a few minutes we could hear voices, becoming louder and louder, until Cass’s bedroom door was pushed open so forcefully it banged into the wall behind it.
“You’re not listening to me!”
It was Devin’s voice, sounding younger and furious.
“I am listening!” shouted back the thirteen-year-old Cass. “But I don’t want to talk about it. Just because you lost your father too doesn’t mean you know anything about what it’s like to lose your mother. All this bullshit about it not being my fault is…” There was the sound of something being thrown against the wardrobe door, and the older Cass and I both jumped.
“It’s bullshit!” she continued. “You’re like my therapist, telling me I should allow myself to move on and my mother was ill and yada, yada, yada. How can I move on? She left me. She left and she never—”
“You’re still not listening,” interrupted Devin in a low voice. There was silence for a moment. A shadow moved in front of the light between the doors.
“Fine,” said Cass, sounding calmer. “Tell me again. But if you mention the five stages of grief, I swear to God I will punch you.”
“It wasn’t your fault… and if you let me explain,” said Devin, his voice rising, presumably to stop Cass from interrupting, “I’ll tell you how I know.”
“How?” asked Cass.
“I have a note.”
More silence. Cass, next to me, froze.
“I don’t believe you,” said the younger Cass.
“My mom found it under the mat. It must have been there since…” Devin trailed off, sounding embarrassed. “Anyway, my mom found it and gave it to me this morning and I’ve been waiting to speak to you. I didn’t want you to read it at school.”
“Have… have you read it? What you said about it not being my fault…”
“I’m sorry. There’s no envelope, so I couldn’t help—”
Cass squeezed my hand three times. It was completely unexpected and when I didn’t react straight away she carried on, using more and more force. “Rescindo,” I said, pulling my hand away as soon as the classroom reappeared.
“Why—”
I got no further. Cass pushed past me, turning the handle on the door. She looked back when it didn’t open, her expression frantic, and to my shame, I debated with myself for a few seconds about whether I should unlock it. If she runs away now, I doubt I’ll have another chance.
“Open the door. I want to speak to Dev,” she said.
“Oh. That’s not what… Resero.”
Cass pulled Devin inside the room and shut the door. He gave me a look as if to say, “What’s going on?” but before I could answer, Cass spoke to him.
“What did it say?” she asked. “What did it say?
“But… you made me read it to you,” he replied.
“We… er… we missed that part,” I said. “Cass wanted to come back.”
Cass made a noise of frustration. “Because we were stuck in a stupid wardrobe. I didn’t think we’d be able to see what was in the note. God! Can we go back? Can you remember it? Can—”
Mitescere,” I said. “Please, Cass… sit down and listen to me. We can go there another way. As long as you’re prepared to let me find it.”
“You’re talking in riddles. That’s so… so unhelpful.” As the magic settled she was forced to grab a chair. I hated using the spell, but as an insurance policy against the Spell Tracker claiming her right this second, I considered it worthwhile. I was relieved to see her agitation reduce a little.
“We can access your…” I stopped. I didn’t want to tell her about life paths. “We can access your memories,” I said. “Visiting memories is different. We’ll be shadows. No need to hide in the wardrobe.”
“Why didn’t we do it that way in the first place?” she asked. “All this time I’ve been asking you about seeing my mom…”
“Because… well, firstly, we’d be shadows. You wanted to talk to her, didn’t you? And secondly, I can’t access your memories without you noticing. I can’t… I won’t do it without your permission. I had planned to use a spell, but… anyway. I changed my mind. And until now, I didn’t think you were ready to give me that permission.”
“I… I might have.”
“Yeah, right. I couldn’t persuade you to stay after school for even five minutes until today.”
“You were so needy. I told you I wanted some space but you kept—”
“As I said,” I interrupted, before she could go into any more detail about how hopeless my attempts to help her had been, “I didn’t think you were ready. And you have to admit the note is a bit of a game-changer.”
“It’s not so bad. It feels like spiders inside your head,” said Devin.
“What?” said Cass.
“When he looks at your life… memories.”
“It might be a bit worse for you,” I warned her. “You… er… you’re quite closed off.”
“Yes,” she agreed, unapologetic.
“So, can I?” I checked.
“Yeah. I want to see that note more than anything right now.”
I tried to remain calm. I was about to look at her life path, something I’d been wanting to do since the day I arrived. As soon as my magic touched her, she shrank into the chair. I gave her an anxious look.
“No, don’t stop,” she said. “I’m going to read that note if it’s the last thing I do.”
Gods. Don’t even suggest such a thing.
I continued, lifting the armor one layer at a time. Without any connection between us it was painfully slow. Eventually, I made it to the energy map. At last. I can see it. She did set out to be a Healer. I’d guessed correctly. And the lesson causing her so many problems was… forgiveness. OK, that makes sense. Compassion is a pretty non-negotiable Healer quality.
“It’s not like spiders,” she said to Devin, wrapping her arms around her body. “It’s more like a tiger is casually sorting through my head with his claws extended.”
He pulled up a chair next to her and put one arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him. I didn’t stop what I was doing. I couldn’t. Not now I was so close to finding out.
I wanted to know who she needed to forgive in this life. Her mother, I assumed. Or her father. She’d cut herself off from any close relationships since she’d lost them. Even her own brother. It looked like a classic case of self-preservation—to make sure she never loved anyone else.
Except it wasn’t. I found the promise she’d made when she turned her back on her life lesson for good. “I’m never going to do to someone else what my mom did to me.” It was the other way around. She wanted to make sure no one ever loved her. Which meant… it was herself she needed to forgive. And, more than that, in order to be a Healer, she had to accept that she couldn’t save everyone.
It’s a major lesson to learn in eleven days. Reeling from the discovery, I forced myself to carry on and locate the moment Devin handed her the note from her mom.
“What is it?” said Devin. “I can feel your…” He glanced at Cass, but she was too preoccupied with the pain inside her head to notice what he’d said. “You look terrible.”
“It’s nothing,” I said. “I’m fine. I’m ready when you are, Cass.”
She looked at Devin. “Will you…?”
“Sure. If you want,” he said, his face breaking into a smile.
“I do.”
I took that as my cue and put my hand on her shoulder, making the connection. We watched as the younger Cass read the words her mom had left behind. However her mom had managed to convince herself death was her only way out, it was clear that Cass was her one regret and the reason she’d waited as long as she had. She hoped Cass would stay close to her brother and be happy.
The older Cass started to cry, and my hand on her shoulder tightened. It was heartbreaking. Her mom had obviously expected Cass to get the note before she went home that day.
“There was a second note for my mom and my stepdad,” said the younger Devin. “It asked them to call the cops and look after you.”
The younger Cass put one arm around him, clutching the note in her other hand. “Please let me look after you,” he said.
She leaned back to look at him. Her cheeks were wet. “Maybe we could look after each other?”
“Maybe we could,” the younger Devin agreed.
Rescindo,” I murmured. I knelt down to speak to Cass. “Give it a few minutes before you try to process what you’re feeling. You’re probably in shock.”
“I’m not in shock. I’m furious. I turned my room upside down looking for that note when Dev told me about it afterward. I wanted him to be telling the truth. I wanted… so much.”
She put her hand on his arm. “I pushed you away because I was terrified. There was no note,” she said fiercely. “What was I supposed to think when your parents conveniently misplaced theirs too? You were lying to me. All of you. I thought you were lying about our friendship and… everything.”
Devin started to protest, but she talked over him.
“I thought maybe you were getting revenge on me for our dad. I… I don’t understand. Where did the notes go? Why did I get those blackouts?”
A beat of silence.
“Not to worry, my dear. I can answer both of those questions for you.”
We all turned to face the direction the voice had come from.
“Who the hell are you?” said Cass.
“It’s the lanista,” said Devin incredulously.
No. It’s the Spell Tracker.

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