Dinner that night was interesting for Suzanne, to say the least. It had been nearly a week since Rune's arrival, and Suzanne could tell she still hadn't settled in, despite all their efforts. Something was clearly bothering her, smoke behind her eyes smouldering away until it choked her.
Giselle was laughing at something Avery had said, placing her hand delicately on his arm, making him shiver slightly. He hadn't told Suzanne and Laelia the details of his date, other than that they'd gone to the café - Mad Hatter, she thought he'd said it was called - and had hot chocolate. But the remnants of whipped cream on his lip suggested that wasn't all that they'd done together. Avery hated whipped cream.
"What's wrong?" Laelai asked her, bending closer to her ears and tucking away a strand of her hair. Suzanne turned to stare at her, frowning. "You look worried."
"It's Giselle and Avery," she said with a slight bit of a sigh. "I don't know what it is, but they seem strange, sort of apart from us. I get that Giselle hasn't always been our great friend, but Avery seems ... weird. I don't like it."
"You didn't seem to have any problem with Rune joining us," Laelai reasoned. "Look, I know you haven't always gotten along, but she's matured a lot. And I know that Avery would choose us over her, if anything happened." Despite her words, she still looked uneasy.
"Yeah, well Rune isn't going out with Avery, is she? It's weird, I just ... I can't explain it."
Laelai laughed into Suzanne's ear, snaking an arm around her girlfriend's thick waist, looking down at all her curves. Suzanne looked right back at her, feeling a smile dance over her lips. God, she was beautiful. "You don't need to, darling," Laelia murmured. "I understand you."
She looked up, her eyes landing on Rune, whose knuckles were white with stress. Her shoulders were shaking slightly, her plate of food going cold. Henry was staring at her intently, the way a wolf would look at its prey, dangerous, sharp. It made Suzanne shiver, as her stomach twisted. "Rune," she hissed, snatching the girls hand in her own. She turned around, startled.
"Aye?" Her voice shook ever so slightly. "What's up?"
"Are you okay? You look kind of... Shaky."
Avery's eyes kept darting over to them, though clearly Giselle was more worthy of his interest when she took his hand and his eyes lit up in excitement. Suzanne tried not to gag.
"Nah, am fine," Rune reassured her. "Just kindae ... Homesick."
Over Avery's shoulder, Giselle gave Rune a sympathetic smile. "I know how you feel, Rune," she said. "When it was Henry and I's first few weeks, I could barely sleep at night for missing our parents. You'll get over it soon enough."
"Mmm." Rune didn't sound particularly believing. "Here, ken, a umnae really all that hungry. Dis anyin else want this?"
She didn't wait for an answer, simply getting up and leaving the hall, half the school's eyes on her back. The five of the kids still seated exchanged worried looks. "I'll - I'll go after her," Henry decided, getting up. "I'm sure she'll be fine."
And he left as well, practically running out of the hall. Giselle stared after him, a frown deepening in her forehead. "Did I say something wrong?" she asked Avery, biting her lip.
"No, no," he assured her. "I think Rune's just kind of upset just now. She'll come around, fine just like your brother said."
Giselle smiled weakly, looping her arms around Avery's neck, smiling as she pulled him closer. The two girls averted their gazes, Laelia stifling a laugh.
Meanwhile, Rune was far from laughter.
She sat on a bench outside the main building, knees pulled up to be tucked under her chin. Tears trickled ever so delicately down her cheeks, eyes of glass shattering under the intense heat of her beating heart. Back in the town, while Avery was with Giselle, and Suzanne and Laelia were god knows where, she'd seen something, just for a moment, as shed left the library. It was quick, fleeting, a flash of flames and fire and for a moment it seemed wild. Feral, even. Out of control.
And it very nearly broke her.
God, she missed her friends. She missed them like the ocean missed the shore, wishing she could rush back to them but could only truly return crashing forward, bringing destruction and chaos with her. Her breathing hitched, thoughts wandering to her boyfriend, Taylor. Well. Ex boyfriend.
He hadn't properly broken it off until that morning, not even after the accident, not after she told him she was moving school, not after she told him she wasn't sure how long it would be before she saw him again. He'd waited until the end of that week to text her the words "This won't work, I'm sorry. Still friends?" with three smiley faces, and promptly follow it up by instagramming a picture of another girl sprawled across his lap as he kissed her fiercely. Rune had followed the girl. She found out that she was pretty much just her replacement, which she had to admit, stung a bit.
She wondered who Rhia's replacement was.
"Hey," said a voice, startling her. Her heart skipped a few beats, until she realised it was just Henry.
"Oh. Hi." She had to admit, she was kind of disappointed by him being there. He was kind of annoying, like his sister, even if she'd never tell anyone that. "Why are yi here?"
"I came to see if you were okay, obviously." He sat down next to her, shoulder bumping here. A couple of other students walked by, probably first years, and whistled.
Rune yelled, "Piss off!" and Henry had to cover her mouth to stop her from shouting anything else.
"Do you want to tell me what's wrong, Rune?" He reached his hand towards her cheek, to wipe away her tears. She pushed him away.
"No," she barked. "You can piss off, anno."
"Why?" he asked, seeming rather taken aback.
"Because you're a stuck up dick head, that's why." Rune stood up, snarling down at Henry, whose green eyes were wide.
"Why don't you like me? I haven't been anything but nice to you." He grabbed her hand, pulling her down next to him, so she was practically sitting in his lap. "You know it's true, don't you?"
Rune's heart pounded, as her entire body grew hot. "Go away you creep!" she shrieked, squirming away as he caught her by the wrist. "Henry Baker, I swear to all the gods in all the universe, if you don't let me go right this second I will personally send you to the hospital wing."
"Oh, darling, I don't think you - "
"Don't call me 'darling', yi bawbag!" Rune jerked her elbow up to collide with his nose, and Henry howled, letting go of her in his fright. She raised a foot and kicked him right between his legs, before taking off running, heart pounding.
Oh God, oh God, oh God. Rune didn't even know where she was going, just that she was going somewhere. Somewhere that wasn't a place anyone would find her.
That somewhere turned out to be away across in the high school's library, which, despite being far smaller than the town library, was still large enough that she could hide there. She'd checked the magic book out of the library, and it was still in her bag, so as she crouched in a corner behind a table and chairs, she opened it and turned to the list of fire powers. It was important, she knew, that she understood how her powers worked, and how to control them properly - she didn't need a book to tell her that.
And so she started reading the first fire section: pyrokinesis.
The first thing that drew her attention was the header of 'Limitations', and she let out a relieved breath at the word 'control'.
"Control is incredibly important for wielders of this power," she read in a whisper. "Uncontrolled use can be extremely dangerous, and in some cases, fatal." Rune knew that all too well. "Size and strength of fires created will depend on the skill, knowledge and strength of the user's powers, and their power's own individual limits, which vary from user to user. Fire immunity does not always come with this power, though in some cases, it does. Wielders of this power should be aware that using this may also bring side effects, such as smoke and ash. Users may, in some cases, only be able to control or be immune to the fire which they themselves have created, though this may not always be the case. Alternately, users could potentially be unable to create fire, and be limited to manipulating only from already existing sources. In some cases, when the user is less powerful with this power, a type of fuel to burn on may be needed, as well as oxygen and an existing heat source.
"Although this is one of the strongest powers one can have, users of this power can be overpowered by wielders of water or ice powers. Fire should always be used cautiously, and rarely outside of practices. Some cases of fire without caution have proved fatal."
It was that final sentence that got her, got her breath shaking and her eyes filling up with tears. Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. She tried to stop herself from crying, but it was like her heart was breaking in her chest, and she couldn't. She hated this school, and she hated Taylor and Henry and whatever girl Taylor had back home on his lap, and most of all she hated herself.
It was with those thoughts ringing in her head that she found her way back to her and Suzanne's room, changed into her pyjamas and lay down in her bed. The clock said it was only seven o clock, but she didn't care. She just wanted something to take her away from this nightmare, and it was sleep that did so for her.