Lost to the Flames (On Hold)

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. (Amazing cover is by @Infinite_Exho !)

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17. A Little Audition

The theatre was decked in green for the auditions. The third year drama class had decorated it in perhaps the most flamboyant fashion Rune had ever seen, in order to 'help everybody really get into the spirit', or in other words, skive off for a couple of periods at the end of the day. Rune had to admit, they'd done a pretty decent job of it.

The walls were adorned with green silks streaming from the ceiling, covered in silver glitter that everybody had already managed to find in their hair. A few students had made a black cardboard witch's hat and placed it in the back of the head of department - Mrs Euston's - chair. Anyone who bothered to read the inside would have seen the instruction to try and put it on her head without her noticing, but so far nobody had dared to attempt it. Rune had mentioned the idea to Avery, but he'd simply laughed, much to her annoyance.

The pair of them were sitting a couple of rows back from the stage with a few others from their drama class - Claudia, Emily and Michael - waiting for their audition groupto be called up to the stage like all the older students had so far.

"Emily Calvin," Mrs Euston called in a deep voice. "Your group's up next. Rune, Michael, Avery and Claudia? All here, I presume?"

They nodded, all getting up from their seats. The walk up to the stage seemed to take ages, as Mrs Euston handed them their scripts. It was from Rune's favourite scene, the one when Elphaba leaves Garlinda and her old world behind.

As they scanned over their lines for the parts they'd been asked to audition, a flash of light from the back of the theatre caught Rune's eye. Shaking her head, she turned back to her copy of the script. It wasn't hard to picture herself acting it out - she knew this musical pretty much inside out.

"You can start now," Mrs Euston said in a clipped tone.

They nodded and began the scene. Rune knew it all just about off by heart, of course, from hours she had spent reading copies online and listening to the songs and watching scenes on YouTube. By the end of the scene, Emily was shaking, and were it not for having to stay in character, Rune supposed she would have flashed her a friendly smile. But she didn't.

"You were awesome, Rune," Avery said as they sat back down in their seats. "You're bound to get a lead."

Rune laughed. "A doubt it. I've only been here a couple of weeks - I doubt they'll offer a part to a newcomer."

Avery shrugged. "I beg to differ." He was frowning, though Rune couldn't work out why. "You were great."

"So were you though! You're way more likely to get in than me."

Now it was Avery's turn to laugh. "Sure, Rune. Now, do you want to go to the library? Suzanne and Laelia are in a music room I think, and I guess we could join them, but I've got a load of homework to catch up on, and I don't really want to do it alone in my room."

"Won't your roommate be there? The blonde one I saw on Thursday?"

"Oh, Adam? Nah, he's at some football thing this afternoon, he asked me to let him know if I'd seen his new boots."

"And had you?"

"Of course. They were under his desk."

A laugh rushed out of Rune, and without even realising it, she and Avery were already heading towards the library. "So, whit homework is it yi have tae dae?" Rune asked. "Alsae, please tell me yi've done the Maths homework fae the morn, because a'm pretty sure a've got it all wrong."

"Well, I'm sure that you haven't, Rune. I'll check over it for you, if you want."

"Would you? I really cannae afford to get any maer bad marks."

"Eighty three percent is hardly a bad mark, Rune," Avery laughed.

"Still."

They found a small table near the back of the library, hidden by shelves and shelves of books that seemed to go on forever. The table was covered in a thin layer of dust, which Avery swept away with a quick sweeping of his hand. Rune noticed then, that there was a kind of engraving on the side of the table, carved into the wood. Frowning, she read it.

"Bi faiceallach le cumhachd."

"Avery," she called. "Look at this - "Avery," she called. "What's this?"

He glided over to her, and frowned. "What's what?"

"This - this engraving hingy."

Avery frowned at her, his grey eyes stormy like a brewing hurricane. "What engraving, Rune?" She glared at him. "What? I don't see any engraving!"

"Well, it is there! Look, closer. Can yi no see it? It's in Gaelic, 'bi faiceallach le cumhachd'. See?" She felt her fire rise up inside of her like an illness, and swallowed it back down, feeling it scorch the back of her throat. "Dinnae tell me yi honestly cannae see it, Avery."

"I can't, I swear! Look, do you even know what it means?"

"Of course a dae! I took Gaelic for three years at my old school! It's be careful with..." Oh God. There was a faint sort of buzzing in her head, like a swarm of flies gathering around her. Her stomach dropped and her breath fell away from her like sand pulled by the sea.

"With what?"

"Look, Avery, it doesn't really matter. It's probably just my imagination - I'm tired now anyway. Let's just get to studying, yeah?"

She felt his judgmental gaze on her as she sat down, but turned her own eyes only to the homework she had to do. If she looked at Avery, she couldn't quite tell what she would see. The word swam before her in her mind. 'Be' she tried to force it out of her mind 'careful... with power.' She took a shaky breath, and clutched the table, trying to fight the hot tears brimming at her eyes.

Voices echoed in her head: 'It's your fault, I hate you, you're a monster, you don't deserve to be alive, you're a witch, you...'

She choked out a sob, and in an instant Avery's hand was on hers, and he turned to her, grey eyes wide. "Rune?" he whispered. "What's wrong?"

Rune tried to speak, but no words came out. How does one go about telling someone they've only known for a couple of weeks that they're a monster, anyway? She'd tried to fool herself into believing he's understand for a while, but how could he? How could perfect, kind, smart Avery Thompson possibly understand just what she'd done, how could someone like him know what it was like to be someone like her, someone reckless and crazy and stupid and downright awful?

Trying to tell him how she felt was like trying to catch water in her hands. She'd get it, she'd be on the verge of speaking, telling him everything and baring her heart and soul to him, but then the words would simply slip away through her fingers, fall back into her throat, choking her like clawed hands wrapped around her neck, pushing, squeezing, choking her until she gave up. "I'm fine," she choked out after what seemed like an age. "Just a little bit tired."

"Don't lie to me, Rune," Avery said, frowning. "I know something's wrong. I'm your friend. You can tell me."

"No, I can't. You wouldn't understand, Avery! You're all so perfect, so happy and nice and sweet and pretty much everybody loves you, everyone thinks you're great. When was the last time you ever hurt someone, huh? When was the last time you -" she faltered at the look on Avery's face. His eyes were darker than she'd ever seen them, and it was a tad unnerving.

"Rune," he said, voice shaking. "Dinnae." She almost flinched at his use of the word. He took a deep breath, eyes watering. "Don't tell me that I'm all perfect, that everybody thinks that I'm the bloody image of Jesus bloody Christ himself, I know that nobody bloody thinks of me like that, so don't make it out like that, please!"

The way he spoke, a strong and all too familiar accent slipping through, like Taylor or Chantelle or anyone else back home, like they would... Rune let out a sob. "No. No, I can't deal with this, Rune, okay. You're cryin' but you won't tell me what's wrong wi you!"

"Why are you speaking like that, Avery? That isnae how you normally speak."

"What do yi-" His eyes widened, and he looked a bit dazed, like the world was about to just slip away from him at any moment. "What do you mean?" He asked, almost spitting out the words as he struggled to regain his usual accent, "Look, I'm your friend, Rune. I just want to know what's wrong, okay?"

"Nothing's wrong, Avery! Can we just leave it, please?" His sudden outburst had startled her, and she had to admit it was hard to imagine him saying things in such a voice as that, ever. She frowned at him, and it was like something had suddenly fallen away from him, the calm way that he always held himself, like a statue or a robot, just waiting for an order to carry out, the perfect student. He knew what everyone wanted, hadn't he said? Knew how to get them on his side. "Look, I'm gonna go now. See you at dinner."

"Rune-" he began, as she started packing away her things.

"What?"

He took a shaky breath. "I just wanted to say that I've worked you out now." She raised an eyebrow. "You speak English when you're scared, and when you're upset, and when there's something you're trying to hide. Like right now. If you don't want to tell me, fine. But you never tell anyone when you're worried, you never tell anyone what's actually wrong. But you're not really a liar either." He took a step away from her, like she was diseased, poisonous. "Just be careful, okay? What you want is to be accepted, to fit in, be just like everybody else in this school, but you can't, and you know that, Rune. I'm sorry, I don't want to upset you. But I did say is tell you when I figured you out. And now I have."

Fighting back tears, Rune grabbed her bag from her chair, trying to annoy the parts of her that screamed to run, and instead simply walked, forcing herself to smile, like nothing was wrong. Cool. Calm. Collected. She repeated the words to herself over and over again.

Damn Avery.

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