Lost to the Flames

Meet Rune Oakes: notoriously badly behaved, too smart for her own good, and the new fourth year at prestigious Borthwick Academy Boarding School. But when you're told you're destined to be a murderer, how can you begin to fit in at a school for the best pupils in the country? And even worse, how can you stop yourself from getting close. As Rune tries to stop herself from getting too attached, she becomes caught up in a spiderweb of secrets, magic, and, perhaps most frighteningly of all, love.


10. A Little Change


Suzanne and Laelia stood by their table, fists clenched as they quite obviously glared at Giselle. From so far away, Rune couldn't tell what they were saying, but she knew that it would probably not be anything positive like 'Hey, we're best friends, yay, whoo, love ya girl!'. At least she hoped not: that'd be incredibly cringy.


Avery rushed over to them, Rune hot on his heels, as Giselle hissed. Her brother was nowhere to be seen, and Rune sincerely hoped that it would stay that way. "You're a bitch," Giselle hissed at Suzanne. "I don't see why you can't just get along with me. I've never done anything to you!" Her voice was rising dangerously high, and Avery bit his lip.


"Oh, really? If you actually believe that for one second, then I'm sorry, you're about as wrong as it is possible to be."


Stepping forward, Avery placed a hand on his girlfriend's shoulder, and she tended, whirling around. "Oh," she said, relaxing. "It's just you. And Rune." She nodded to her, before turning her attention back to Avery. "Um, can we sit somewhere else? I don't really feel ... Safe." She looked at him from under her lashes, and Avery smiled tentatively.


"Sure. Whatever you want." He frowned as Giselle led him away, and mouthed the words, 'I'll see you later'.


Rune flopped down into a seat, staring across into Suzanne's brown eyes and Laelia's blue ones. "Orite, can any yin tell me what just happened? Was she givin yous hassle?"



The two girls shook their heads as though in perfect sync, like it was an intricate dance they'd rehearsed many times before. Up at the other end of the table, Henry was leaning down and talking to his sister and Avery, smirking to himself as Giselle slumped forward onto her hand. "We're fine, Rune," Suzanne said, though her voice was tired. "Look, do you want to come get our food up there with us? I'm starving."


"Same," Laelia agreed, as they stood up, heading to the counter.


Passing Avery on the way, he grabbed Laelia's hand and hoisted himself up, walking with them. "What in God's name happened? Giselle said you guys were threatening to beat her up or something, but I mean - well, I don't think that's really you guys' style. I wanna hear it from you before I say anything more to her."


Suzanne sighed, as the dinner lady scooped pasta on to her plate, and she smiled as she poured cream sauce on top. "She was just, well, she was saying that we're wrong. That it's creepy that were, you know, together. Said it was 'just a thought, not to get offended'. We told her to go stick her head further up her arse, if it's possible."


Laelia bit her lip. "She didn't really approve of that."



Rune smirked, leaning against a wall with a plate in her hand. "Aye, well a cannae imagine she would. Can you, Ave?"


He laughed quietly, casting a glance towards where the Baker twins sat. "No. As a matter of fact I can't." Pushing himself off of the wall, he went over to where Giselle and Henry sat, and leant down to whisper something in Giselle's ear.


The girls watched as Giselle's jaw dropped open, and Henry whirled around, looking like he was ready to smack Avery. Other students at their tables turned to stare briefly, before turning back to their food and laughing. It seemed to Rune like Henry Baker squaring up to people was a regular occurrence, and it gave Rune a twinge of longing for home. Avery gestured for them to follow him with a nod of his head as he headed back to where they had been sitting earlier, clambering into their chairs.


"So, what did yi dae, exactly?" Rune asked, twirling her spaghetti on her fork. "Henry looked pretty pissed off at you."


"I just told her that I trust my friends to tell me the truth and that if she really liked me, she'd be nice to you guys. So, essentially, I broke up with her."


"Fun times," Rune said drily. "And I take it Henry'll be staying away fae us now anno?"


"With any luck, aye," Avery laughed. Rune raised an eyebrow, eating a large mouthful of spaghetti with. "You all right there?"


She gave him a thumbs up in return, as Suzanne giggled. As they finished up their meal, the headmistress stood to make an announcement. "Students," she addressed them. "We have a few important announcements to make. First off, the sign up sheet is up for the school musical, auditions will be held on Wednesday after noon next week, I hope to see a lot of new younger students there, and of course the chorus is open to all primary students who want to join. Second, we've had a lot of reports of cheating and copying off of home works since beginning the term, as well as a lack of students at study supports. I speak on behalf of all of the teachers here when I say that we are always here to help you, and that if you are having difficulties, you need to let us know, otherwise we cannot help you. And thirdly, unlike last year, there will be a Halloween party this year, held on the Sunday night of the thirty first." Excited whispers broke out among the hall, and Suzanne and Laelia high fived, chuckling. "Trials for sports teams will also be happening shortly, we will let you know. Thank you, you may leave the hall when you wish now."



The din of the dining hall grew louder and louder, and Rune began to tap her fingers on the table, a nervous sort of patter that Avery frowned at immediately. "Are you alright, Rune?" he asked, not seeming as excited as everyone else around them, face palming slightly. "You seem kind of... Anxious."



Suzanne and Laelia looked over then, both frowning, worry etched into their foreheads. She mumbled something incoherent, and the two girls leaned forwards. "What?" Suzanne asked, voice laced with well concealed concern, like a sharp spike of sweet honey. "Rune?"


"It's just that it's too hot in here," Rune mumbled. "An everything's sae loud anno, and a cannae think straight, am so sorry, I'm sure I'll be fine in a wee moment, a just need some water, a - I'll gae and get some, I willnae be a minute." Her voice was wobbly and her mind was clouded with voices, voices - why did they have to be so loud? - and she stood up, and Avery had to grab her hand in order to keel her from stumbling.


"I'll come with you," he said in a low voice, eyes wide. "You fainting would be really quite inconvenient for me."


She cracked a smile. "Cheers."


As Avery guided her towards the water fountain, she could feel Giselle's eyes glaring at her, and shuddered slightly, which caused Avery to grip her arm. "You okay?"


She nodded, filling up her cup. "Am fine." She took a sip, eyes darting to where Suzanne and Laelia were frowning, then to Henry and Giselle, both looking disgusted. Even though her head pounded, she stuck her middle finger up at them. Avery chuckled. After filling the cup up another time, she headed back to their seats, Avery maintaining a grip on her arm until she was safely back in her seat.


"Let me know if you feel faint, okay," he whispered, and she nodded, taking a spoonful of ice cream into her mouth. "And try not to get sick over ice cream, too. Please? For me?"


Suzanne snorted. "For all of us, actually. I'm not a great fan of sick on my food either."


Pulling a disgusted face, Laelia squealed. "Ew, I don't even want to imagine that, Suzie! Why'd you bring that up?"


"Hey, just telling the truth, darlin'. You know you love it anyway." She winked at Laelia.


"Can't really argue with that one now, can I?"


"Geez, if you two keep being so sickly sweet, I think I might be sick," Avery laughed, as Rune smiled weakly.


"Ugh, don't make it worse, Avery," Suzanne groaned.


"Guys," a Rune sighed. "It's tae loud. Ma head hurts."


"Oh." Avery's voice dropped to scarcely a whisper. "Sorry. Do you need to go outside? Oh, God, I hope I haven't made you ill, Rune."


"Nah, nah." She waved his words away. "I've just got a sore head is all. If a could - if a could gae outside, that'd be probably quite... Quite helpful." She winced. "Sorry."


The four of them stood from the table, leaving to the open doors. There were already students roaming about, but the four of them thankfully managed to find a quiet spot in a cool patch of grass outside, where the sun was just about setting. Rune's breathing slowed to a normal pace. She stopped fidgeting, leaning against a cool, creamy white wall.


"You know, Rune," Laelia started. "We were going to take you to somewhere in the school tonight; somewhere to do with our magic, but we're not sure if you're up to it right now. Um... It's kind of important that we take you there soon, like, really soon, but I mean, it's okay if you can't. Just.. You should probably know that." Her awkwardness was almost tangible.


"Sae... Dae yous want me tae come tae this place or no?"


"If you feel like you can," Laelia said, "then yes."


"But only if you know that you can. It could be kind of taxing on you."


Rune shook her head, whipping her hair into Avery's eyes as he shrieked a little bit. "I'm sure. I cin dae it. Although..." she cast a look to Avery. "It wid be a wee bitty easier to judge if a'm able tae dae this if we could walk tae the sign up sheet fae the musical, first, fae Avery's sake, of course."


"You think I should do it?" His eyes were wide with surprise. "Really?"


"Well, wi are in the same Drama class; a've seen yi acting. You're good, you need to sign up. I'll dae it with yi, if yi want." In all honesty, Rune had to admit to herself that the reason for convincing Avery to sign up wasn't just for him - though she wasn't lying when she said he was good. No, it was for her, to convince herself that although she'd been forced to leave her old school and her old town and old friends and old life, she could still have this. Her acting.


A smile snuck its way across Avery's face. "If you really want me to, Rune, then sure." He raised his hand for a high five, which Rune gladly returned. "Come on, if you're up to it. Let's go."


Suzanne and Laelia got to their feet, laughing about something that Rune couldn't for the life of her think of.



They rushed to the sign up sheet, Rune stumbling slightly every few seconds, but doing okay for the most part, gritting her teeth. There were already a lot of names down, but Rune and Avery managed to find a space for their names, scribbling them down. With surprise, Rune noted how messy Avery's writing was, and in a way it was comforting to know that not everything about him was so clean cut and perfect.



Then, the three of them led Rune down a corridor of dust and shadows, through a door into a tiny room, in which they could barely even fit. She frowned in confusion as to why they were there, wiggling around to make room for Avery. "Why are - "


She didn't get to finished her sentence, as the floor fell away from underneath them, and they tumbled down into the darkness below, a large cavernous chamber that smelled like springtime and looked like autumn.


It was dark, and a little bit cold, with golden and auburn leaves scattered on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, as if the entire place was held up solely by magic. Then again, she supposed that wasn't entirely implausible.


"Aye, um, what exactly is this place?" Rune asked.


A grin crossed Suzanne's face, as a figure stepped out of the shadows. "My dear," it said in a raspy voice. "This is where all the magic comes from. The Catacombs of Borthwick."

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