Steel and Spell

By Celeste Lavin All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 11

The next few days I kept taking care of the Pegasus, which I had decided to call Lucy. She had trust issues, but each day I got closer to her and she was starting to be comfortable with me making her company. But Cassius was another story.

He hadn’t talked to me since the day of the fight. At first, I tried to approach him but he ignored me in all the ways possible. He didn’t look at me when I was in the same room as him, he walked away when I was talking, etc. Later on, I gave up and just stopped trying to fix the problem. He was so god damn stubborn and it frustrated me to no ends. In a way, he was very much like me, but that is a problem. Because I know for sure that I’m too stubborn for my own good but apparently, he hadn’t realized that. Still, he accompanied me to the river when I needed it and he let me sleep inside the cabin, but everything in a complete silence. Or when we had to eat, he ate first and then I would see if he left me something. What a life, right?

“I’m trying to make things like before but he won’t even listen to me. And now that I think about it, it wasn’t a big deal. So what if I don’t agree with him on everything? I have the right to have a different opinion.”

I was sitting next to Lucy (keeping my distance from her of course), talking to her like she was my therapist and she simply nodded with everything I said like she was agreeing with me. She was probably trying to take a fly out of her face though.

“And they say that women are complicated...” I huffed in annoyance and tried to get the hair out of my face. Every passing day I was starting to get irritated with my hair. The water didn’t help much to wash it and it looked more like a broom than actual hair.

There was an idea stuck in my head from a few days ago. In my normal life, it would have mortified me and I would have never agreed to it. But the circumstances there were different, and I knew I had to do it. My hair was sacred to me, yet I knew I had to cut it.

I started using my fingers to untangle my hair the best I could. When I did my best I made a braid at the back of my head that tied up all my hair. When I finished I looked at the long braid and sighed.

“Goodbye old friend.” I said in the most dramatic way possible.

I grabbed the knife I had on my “belt” (more like a rope that went around my hips and performed the use of a belt quite well, but who cares) and put it under the braid, just at the level of my neck. With a strong movement of my hand, in one move I cut off the braid. I held the chopped braid on my left hand and the knife on my right. I left them on the floor and started to inspect my new haircut with my hands. It was the shortest haircut I had ever had. It reached below my ears, but not too long to reach my shoulders. I shook my head slightly and felt my head lightweight. I grinned at the idea that I could shake my head like a rockstar and then didn’t have to worry about untangling my hair.

I looked down to the braid on the floor and decided to give it a funeral. I made a hole with my hands and buried the braid there. That was probably better than to throw it into the forest. If I would have been back at home, I would have donated it or something, but sadly I didn’t get the chance to do it in that moment.

In all this, Lucy just stared at me and said nothing. Well, not like she could have said much.

I looked at hair and flipped my hair to the side.

“Like it?”

She nodded, but again, probably a fly that was bothering her. I stood up and shook my clothes to take the dust and grass on them. I grabbed the knife from the floor and put it back on the “belt”.

“I’m going to get you some leaves, wait here.”

Not like she could move, but anyway.

I walked into the forest, not too far though, and started to look for branches with fresh leaves that were at my reach. It was already afternoon and in no time the sun would disappear and the night would rule. It had been a sunny warm day, like all the other days, but you could tell winter was coming with the chilly mornings. My ankles nor my legs hurt anymore when I walked or even run. My ankle wounds were closed and I had taken the stitches the day before. The only thing that bothered me was that they were going to leave an ugly scar.

A branch full of leaves caught my attention and I walked to the tree to grab it. It was a little out of my reach, so I got on my tiptoes and grabbed it. I made force downwards so it would break, but the damn branch didn’t break. I huffed in annoyance and grabbed firmly the branch between my hands and put my foot on the tree trunk for support. I started pushing downwards with all my strength.

SNAP!

The branch snapped suddenly and I lost my balance. I closed my eyes for the impact, but instead, two arms held me from behind. I stood up quickly, dropped the branch, took the knife out and turned around.

When I saw Cassius amused face, I sighed in relief and glare at his stupidly handsome face.

“You scared the hell out of me!” I shouted and put a hand over my chest to calm my crazy beating heart.

“What did you do to your hair?” he said looking at it with a blank face.

“So now you’re talking to me?” I crossed my arms over my chest, my eyebrows up in questioning.

He ignored my question. Not surprising at all. His gaze changed to the knife in my hand.

“You should give that back.” he said pointing at the knife in my hand. I shrugged nonchalantly and put the knife back on my belt.

“When you stop acting like a five-year-old and talk to me like an adult, I will consider it.” I said putting emphasis on the considering part.

“What do you want to talk about? The weather? There is nothing to talk about.” he chuckled humorlessly.

I looked at him incredulously and shook my head.

“If you are ready to talk, you know where to find me.” I said in a serious tone. I turned around, picked the large branch that was on the floor and walked away not sparing a second glance at him. I wasn’t going to waste my time to get him to talk. If he wanted to do it, perfect, but if not, then he could go back to whatever he was doing.

I went back to Lucy and gave her the branch. I took the advantage that she was a little distracted and got closer to her while she ate. When she noticed my attempt, at first she seemed uncomfortable and nervous, but when she saw I didn’t do anything, she calmed down and kept eating, sparing some glances at me.

I sighed and sat with my legs crossed, resting my head on my hand. I started to think about the what if’s with Cassius.

“What if he doesn’t talk to me?”

“What would I say if he talks to me?”

“If he never speaks to me again, would I have to leave?”

Too many questions, but the only thing I knew for sure was that I needed to be independent. I relied myself too much on him and I knew that if one day he suddenly vanished into thin air, not long after I would die of hunger, attacked by something, etc. My chances of living alone in the forest were less than zero if that’s possible. At first, I wanted to show him I was strong and that I didn’t need him, but it was even worst afterward because I almost got myself killed. That’s why I took the risk in the first place and followed him to the cabin. I had nothing to lose. But at that moment, he wasn’t only something I used to survive. Deep down, I knew we were friends and losing him for a petty fight would hurt.

The light in the forest was starting to slowly disappear, but I didn’t do anything to stand up and go into the cabin. Lucy had finished her branch and she was looking at me. A song came into my mind, one I had not heard or sing in a long time. It was the song of the Hunger Games, the one Katniss sang for the propaganda. I don’t know why, but that song always transmits serenity to me.

I looked at her in the eyes and started singing quietly.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where they strung up a man
They say who murdered tree
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight
in the hanging tree

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where dead man called out
For his love to flee
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight
In the hanging tree

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where I told you to run,
So we’d both be free
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight
In the hanging tree

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Wear a necklace of rope
Side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight
In the hanging tree*

By the time the song had finished, I was very close to Lucy. My arm was extended and I was an inch to touch her. I held my breath and my hands started to sweat in anticipation. She watched me intensely but didn’t flinch away. I took that as a cue to move my hand forward. My fingers graced her soft hair and started stroking my hand in between her eyes. Carefully I moved my hand to her jaw and started petting her there. She looked nervous, probably something very new to her.

“Shh. It’s okay. Everything is fine.” I said in a whisper trying to calm her.

Suddenly I felt movement behind me. I turned around slowly to not get Lucy startled. I saw Cassius shadowy figure behind me, and because of the darkness surrounding us, I couldn’t quite figure out his expression. His head moved slightly to the side as if he was asking me if we could go talk somewhere.

I nod and stood up slowly. Lucy by then was calmed and I left after Cassius in silence. He walked to the front of the cabin, where a fire was on and some meat was cooking. I had never asked what animal the meat came from. It was better not knowing.

“I did not know you sing.” he said quietly looking at the fire.

“He heard me?”

I blushed red-crimson and looked away. I didn’t like people hearing me sing. I felt uncomfortable and I always got embarrassed. I always kept my singing to myself.

“Uhm...sometimes I do.” I managed to say.

“You wrote it?” From the corner of my eye, I saw he turned his head to look at me.

I chuckled. “No, it’s from the Hunger Games.” I turned to look at him, and a small smile appeared on his face at the memory of when I told him the story.

A silence engulfed us, neither of us knowing how to start the conversation.

“I apologize... I should not have been so hard on you.” He said it so fast I almost didn’t hear it.

“I’m sorry too. I should have been more...empathic. I knew you had put a lot of effort into bringing Lucy here-”

“Lucy?” he said with a questioning look.

“Um...I gave the Pegasus that name.” I said a little embarrassed.

He looked amused but didn’t say anything further.

“Like I was saying, I know you had put a lot of effort into bringing her here, but I just couldn’t let you kill her. Maybe it was because it was the first time I had seen a pegasus, or maybe-”

“Wait. You had never seen a pegasus before?”

I shook my head.

“They don’t exist where I come from.”

He frowned in confusion.

“They are extinct in the future?”

I shook my head again.

“They never existed in the first place.” He was about to say something again but I put my hand up to signalize him to let me explain.

“Pegasus are creatures from mythology, so when I saw her, I knew there was something wrong. Something wrong with my theory.”

His face held so much confusion, but he looked cute.

“Oh common!”

I facepalm myself internally for having those thoughts in that moment but continued talking.

“I don’t think I’m from the future. It just doesn’t explain a lot of things. I have racked my mind for a while trying to figure out what the hell is going on and the ridiculous thing is that I always had the answer.”

He looked at me with curiosity but didn’t say anything, giving me this as a cue to keep talking.

“My father is a great physicist, and he supports the idea of a multiverse. A multiverse means there are multiple universes besides the one that exists. This means I’m in a parallel universe or alternative universe to mine.”

His face was blank, making me wonder what was he thinking. The fire illuminated one side of his face, while the other remained in the shadows. His eyes studied my face for any trace of a lie making me squirm in my position because of the intensity of his look

“So how did you get here?”

I sighed and passed a hand through my short hair in frustration.

“I can’t find any possible explanation for that. Maybe a black hole or I got abducted by aliens...” he looked at me with his eyebrows up and I shook my head.

“Doesn’t matter. The point is, back to the apology, I was mad and frustrated that day because I didn’t understand anything that was going on, and the only thought of being so far away from home it...” I stopped when I felt my voice cracking.

“I’m not going to cry anymore. I have shed too many tears that were worth nothing.” I said to myself in my mind before taking a deep breath to control myself.

“I wasn’t even thinking when I put the knife on your neck...” I said in almost a whisper and thought maybe he didn’t even hear me.

He nodded and didn’t ask more.

“I am not used to people giving me orders. Back at home, I was the one who gave them. And before you got here I was alone.” he said more like a statement than an apology, but then I frowned in confusion with what he said earlier.

“He never mentioned his home before, except for the day we met when I asked him from where he came.”

“If I...- he sighed and passed a hand through his hair- If I do that again...get angry I mean, it is because I’m not used to it.”

And in that moment I knew he wasn’t used to apologies. His apology sucked. I mean, part of the fight was my fault but also his. He had said sorry for ignoring me, yet he couldn’t say a decent apology. With that in mind, I nodded and looked at the fire, where the burning logs were a bright red and the flames got bigger and smaller depending on the breeze.

“My question is...why would you eat a Pegasus?” I asked the question trying to change the subject and because that subject had me itching since the day we fought.

“Here is considered the most delicious food and a delicacy. And it is expensive.” He said it like he was talking about caviar.

I looked at him in horror and shooked my head in bewilderment.

“People here surely are nuts.”

Another moment of silence passed between the two of us, where I just looked at the dancing flames and relaxed with the warm heat the fire gave to my body.

“I like it.”

I turned my head at him. He was looking at me with a small smile on his lips.

“Huh?”

“Your hair.” He said pointing at it with his hand.

I touched my hair unconsciously with my hand and gave him a thanking smile. I looked at the fire again consumed by my thoughts. The silence took over once again. But it was a comfortable one. There wasn’t much to be said and so we kept quiet the rest of the night. We went back to the cabin afterward and I fell asleep thinking that maybe things can work out.

And maybe one day...one day I could return home.

*Hanging Tree, the song belongs to The Hunger Games Trilogy.

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