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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18. A Little Fire

It wasn't to her room that she fled. Her vision swam with hot tears and her stomach squirmed as she held back the bile in her throat. Of course Avery would react like that, of course once he'd worked out what she was really like, the facade that she'd held for so long breaking. Of course he wouldn't be interested anymore, of course he'd hate her now. And what would happen when he got even further into her soul, when he uncovered the truth behind her fire, saw her for the monster she'd always known she was. He'd probably shared his observations with Suzanne and Laelia already, they probably all saw the evil stirring within her heart.

No. No, she couldn't return to her room, not where Suzanne would be, most likely with Laelia. How could she go there, when Avery could burst in at any moment and tell them what an awful person she really was?

So she was running through a labyrinth of corridors, hearing her feet pounding on the ground as her heart pounded in her chest like a thousand tiny drummers threatening to burst through her chest and shatter her ribcage into a thousand tiny little pieces. The air around her screamed as she ripped through it, and burst through a door in a frenzied state, tears beginning to roll down her cheeks like waterfalls. Rune collapsed against the wall, breathing ragged as she felt her cheeks flaming red. Footsteps passed by the door and she caught her breath, head spinning with a crazy kind of disastrous fear. As the footsteps faded, she began to climb up the worn stairs, drawn by an invisible magnetic string tied around her neck like a noose, strangling her as she stole up the steps.

She glided across the landing, spinning as she giggled despite her heavy heart. The room around her was fairly large, stone walls draughty and the window panes covered by thick black curtains. Her eyes burned in the darkness as they tried to adjust, but she couldn';t bring herself to open the curtains, instead resigning herself to the ever growing darkness.

In the darkness, she couldn't see the figure that emerged from the shadows and grabbed her from behind, covering her mouth with cold fingers.

"Remember," the figure whispered in her ear, twiddling her hair around it's fingers, raking its long, sharp nails across her cheek. Her breathing hitched, a scream rising in her throat that the figure was soon to smother. "Remember that night, Rune." Its breath was cold, like a sheet of ice dancing in the air. "Remember what you did to her. To Rhia."

She tried not to scream as her vision blurred and she collapsed to the floor, still held within the figure's grasp. Smoke filled her eyes and her lungs, smothering her and shrouding her in darkness.

A memory had managed to weave its way to the forefront of her mind, painful and scorching as a searing flame.

She was standing in a small room, music blaring in the background and bright lights surrounding her. She was clutching a glass of god- knows- what- by- this- point and to anyone else around her it might have seemed like was about to break it if she gripped it any tighter. Someone shouted something behind her, but it was muffled by the screams in her own head.

An arm snaked around her waist, a chin coming to rest in her shoulder. She felt someone's hot breath on her cheek, smelling distinctly of vodka and murmuring words she could scarcely make out. It was Taylor, she presumed, and so she smiled into him, turning towards him with fluttering lashes and red lips. He took her hands and drew her closer, looping his other arm aroun d her neck as her heart began to hammer in her chest.

"Come on," Taylor whispered to her, leaning closer. "There's tae much people here." He drew her out of the door and into the cool night air, the sudden cold stinging her cheek. She'd put her drink down somewhere along the way but she wasn't sure exactly where and in all honesty she didn't even care.

Taylor's face was illuminated by the moonlight, slanting across his bright green eyes as he leaned ever closer to Rune. She closed the gap between them, lips meeting one another as they entangled themselves in one another. Doors opened and closed and slammed behind them, but they simply smiled further into their kiss, hands still intertwined as suddenly Rune was pulled away from Taylor by a frantic, urgent voice.

She turned, sighing, and came face to face with a panic stricken Rhia. Tears streamed down her face and her breaths turned into screams and sobs as she clung onto Rune for dear life, shaking. "I - it's h - him," she whimpered, face pale like the moon up above in the sky. "M - my d - dad." Oh crap. "H - he's showed up, back at home."

It was just the two of them outside now - Taylor had gone off somewhere else, bored - and Rhia began to grow more and more desperate, sobs wracking her voice. "I - id on't want to go back just now, I d - don't want her a - and Charlie to see me like this, b - but I feel l - like I need to go, y - you know. A - and I know that I sh - shouldn't, that i - it's probably just easier t - to stay here, f - for everyone, b - but I can't b - bring myself t - to just leave my m - mum on her own, t - to deal with him."

She lurched forwards, grabbing onto Rune, who felt bile rising in her throat. "I - I'm sorry, Rune, I p - probably shouldn't have d - drank so much, b - but I'm so sorry, I j - just - "

She turned around and threw up, doubling over and crouching on the ground. Normally, Rune would have told her to stop being such a lightweight, but she figured now wasn't really the best time. Instead, she crouched down beside her friend and patted her back in the most soothing manner that she could, murmuring words of encouragement. "It's okay," she whispered. "It's okay, Rhia, a promise, it's okay. I'll gae home wi you, if you'd like me tae, if yi feel you need tae see yir family. We'll all help yi out if yi need us, okay? A cin talk tae Chantelle and she'll send everybody home right now, if you need her tae. Okay?"

Rune couldn't quite see in the dim light, but it looked as though Rhia had nodded. "Okay. Dae yi want me tae take you inside, or would you prefer you stay and I get Chantelle?"

"No," Rhia said in a hoarse voice, grabbing Rune by the hand. "No. I - I'll go home, no need to ruin everyone else's night j - just because of me. Yeah." She shook her head. "No, if you, you just let Chantelle know, and then I - I'll go."

"Rhia, I - "

"It'll be fine, okay? I - I promise. I can get home safely on my own."

"Rhia, I willnae let yi go home yirself, not like this, not when your da's there!"

"But what about my mum? And Charlie?"

"If anything's happened, Rhia, you cannae go alone, it'll be tae dangerous. I'm coming with yi."

"No, Rune! You are not coming with me!" She began running, sprinting off back towards the house, into the darkness where Rune couldn't see her.

Panic rose within her chest. She couldn't let Rhia go off like that on her own, not in her state. But she couldn't see, either, her eyes were growing heavy and her heart pounded as a flame flickered to life in the palm of her hand. It was minuscule, barely large enough to see with unless she held it close to her, but it was enough to guide her back up to Chantelle's house through the growing darkness.

"Rhia!" she shouted, shoving her way through the door and the kitchen with her flame free hand. "Rhia! Ruby!" she shouted, rushing over to where one of her classmates was, one of the ones she recognised anyway. "Where did Rhia go?" Ruby motioned lazily up the stairs and Rune ran up them two at a time, crashing through the first closed door she came to. Two people were slung across one another against a wardrobe, and she slammed the door closed immediately, doubting that they even realised.

She rushed to the next door and burst into Chantelle's parents' store room, where Rhia stood, gazing out the window with tear stained cheeks. "Leave me alone, Rune," she whispered. "I don't want to talk to anyone. Just let me go."

"If you wanted to go, why are you still here?" she asked, regretting her words in an instant. "Sorry. Are you scared? I'm sorry, I shouldn't have yelled, I - "

"Shut up!" Rhia screamed, slamming her hands down on the windowsill and whirling around. "Shut up!"

The fire still flickered in Rune's palm.

Stop, a voice in her mind yelled as she was thrust back into the dark present. Stop this, stop these stupid memories. Push them away, don't let them affect you anymore. Stop, stop, stop.

She was pulled back into her memories again, Rhia running towards her and screaming like a banshee. Her fire grew, her heart pounding as she screamed back words that she could not hear. The flames began to engulf her as Rhia started yelling, screaming "Fire, fire!" but Rune could barely hear her over the crackling of the flames.

Some might say that her reason was hate, but that wasn't nearly true. Not hate. Hate meant nothing to her.

Hate was the irrational feeling of anger replaced by words little children scream when they're tired and can't have anymore sweets. Hate was a mistake, a misconception, a deformed idea of emotions and feelings that began to eat one's self from the inside out, that twisted one's insides until they couldn't see straight and everything blurred and their eyes itched and the hearts burned with a mix of confusion and convulted emotions.

And there was jealousy there, too, and maybe that could have been the reason for what happened, were it not for the fact that jealousy was no longer real. That jealousy was like the moon, lit only by the sun behind it, half of it shrouded in darkness for all eternity. That envy was nothing but a notion of brief annoyance at seeing one's friend smiling while one stood alone on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to swoop in like a hawk and obliterate the remnants of happiness until all that was left was a tiny, fleeting stretch of existence that did nothing for anyone else.

But maybe it was ignorance, too, the whirlwind of emotions fuelling the fire that threatened to burn Rune to a cinder, that wanted to destroy the glass castle she knew as being her fragile existence. Maybe it was the way that she shook her head and tried not to scream, tried to block out all of the negative sounds of the fire and Rhia's shouts and her pounding heart and feet thundering up the stairs.

Perhaps she could have claimed that it was rage, and perhaps she would have been correct. Rage was the last resort, the thing she would fall back on when all else failed and she didn't believe herself able of feeling anything else.

It was the single, irregular feeling of when she realised that for once it was not about her or Rhia or Taylor, but about this fire and this house and the fact that she could not contain it, could not contain this

rushing tidal wave of a thousand burning sunsets mercilessly devouring the horizon and devouring her and everything she had ever dreamed of and everything she had ever loved and suddenly she was reaching out to Rhia and even as the world seemed to burn down around them she grabbed her in a tight embrace, the two of them clinging to one another as their lips crashed together and for a second the smell of smoke died away and all that was left was the two of them locked together with the key thrown away back into the flames. And she supposed there was a sort of beauty in war and fear and fire because Rhia was here, wasn't she, and that was all that really mattered as the flames ate them alive.

And then suddenly Rhia's lips stopped moving; she leaned away, hacking and coughing and Rune watched as the world returned to the flames and Rhia was consumed by it as someone ran in, dragging them out of the room as if they hadn't been so together just a minute ago, and now Rhia was getting further and further away and Rune tried to shout for her but the smoke ate her voice away and it died.

So maybe it was never the darkness that sparked the fire, never the rage or the hatred or the jealousy or the ignorant bliss. Maybe it was the light, the astounding brightness that Rhia brought to Rune's life, the love of a dying star that tumbled through the inky night sky.

And as she was drawn away from the smoke and the fire - from Rhia - it was simply her name that she heard. "Rune." Over and over and over again. "Rune."

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