Fire and Water

- A Serialized Novel -

Enya Royston has hidden from herself and her abilities, fearing the destruction that always comes with using them.

Author’s Note: The more I wanted Cress’ reasons to make sense, the more convoluted they and his past became, and I finally hit a point where I decided I didn’t want to know.

Further Sins of the Parents

“Cress, please tell me you’re wrong about that.”

He shook his head. “I wish I could, Enya, but as I was trying to fight that storm, I realized that when I made it rain that night, when Oceana was flooding the house from the water main… Someone was fighting against us. I haven’t felt that kind of pushback in a long time—we don’t get a lot of rogue water elementals—but today I felt the same thing.”

“Oh, hell, I did, too, but I never wanted to believe, even as two-faced as they were with everyone outside of the house, that they were that evil,” Occie said, biting her lip. “I always wanted to think they were just… Just harsher with us because we were their own, that they had impossible expectations—especially when it came to Cress—but they were worse than I ever imagined.”

Cress held out a hand, and Occie took it, sitting down next to him. She leaned her head against his shoulder, and he wrapped an arm around her. He closed his eyes, and no one spoke for a while, letting them have their moment.

Enya shivered. She didn’t want to think about this. She wanted to ignore his words, and she wanted to pretend she didn’t know what he was talking about or that he was just crazy or something. “I always wondered why no one went for my parents or my brother, why I was the only one pulled out of there.”

“Cress told me to continue with the water, and he got you out, but he was too exhausted to go back, and you were so hysterical that if he hadn’t calmed you the whole thing could have started again.”

He lowered his head. “If I’d known they were hindering us and not helping, I would have gone back. I would have risked it. I could have gotten Enya calm after it was over, but I thought… I thought they were helping. I don’t know why I trusted them.”

“Everything they’d done before was always about elementals. They never once gave us any reason to think they had some weird water supremacy going on or anything, not even when they were talking arranged marriages.”

“Dad told me that we seek our counterpoints as marriage mates. We all had that in our heads, that like sought out like. We never really thought they were doing it to for any other reason. At least, I didn’t. I just assumed that was why your parents were trying to push that on you.”

“I guess. And the marriage thing was after Enya’s family was gone, anyway. I think part of that was them wanting me to stop having anything to do with Hannah, though if they’d been patient, it wasn’t that much longer before it was over, so they kind of jumped the gun there.”

“Yeah, but not by much. They had to know that their control over all of us was slipping. If they were going to get you to do what they wanted, they had a very narrow window of time left to do it.”

“They couldn’t have forced either of us to get married. We would never have agreed, and if they’d pushed me far enough, I could have made sure they weren’t an issue.”

Sherwin shuddered. “Are you saying you actually contemplated killing them?”

Cress looked at him. “What, just because I’m calm on the outside I never get angry? Never feel threatened enough to kill? I do. I have. I always envied how Enya could turn away from what she could do and not get drawn in by any of the ‘cool’ parts of what we could do. That was never cowardice, turning away from our kind of power. That was the kind of strength I never had. I keep wondering if half the reason I became what I was when that mirror broke was because of what that man said to me about water. I know a lot of the reason why I made sure I had control and tried more and more things with it was because I never wanted to be where he had me. That was cowardice. I was so afraid that I turned myself into a monster. On purpose.”


“I convinced myself you were safer far from us, and I didn’t… I thought I was right. You convinced yourself I was, in the end, to get through it, but you weren’t the monster, Enya. I was. Occie told me I needed to be the one to go, and when she did… I finally understood what I’d asked of you, what I’d done to you, and it wasn’t right. Nothing I’ve ever done was right—”

“No.” Enya shook her head. “I didn’t have to break a mirror in more than twelve years. I missed everyone, but I didn’t have to live in fear of hurting any of you.”

“Is that really worth what you went through? You didn’t want to go, and some of them hated you for something that wasn’t your idea in the first place, and it wasn’t enough of a protection. The agency or whatever they are went after you because of me.”

She crossed over to him. “You gave me a life. I doubt that was in your parents’ plans, and I know you never got what you wanted. What happened to all your plans with Hannah? I know she wasn’t right for you, but you wanted something a whole lot simpler than this, didn’t you?”

He let out a breath. “There were things my parents said about the rogues that had me worried. I didn’t figure there were too many to deal with, and before the agency got involved, I… It looked like it was just about finished. It had already taken a lot longer than I thought it would, but the only people who could stop the rogues were people like us. Of course, if I had known the truth and not what my parents fed me, if I’d known that we were all being manipulated…”

“How much of their plans did you throw out when you took over?”

“Almost all of them. I held onto the money. That was one of few things I took from them. I had to build so much on my own, and I knew I was doing the wrong thing, but I didn’t know what else to do. They had a list of other elementals, ‘friendlies,’ that I was supposed to help everyone pair up with, and I was supposed to keep us all on Eden Drive and… I was supposed to let the fire burn itself out…”

Enya stared at him. “They thought you’d actually let me die the next time I broke a mirror? Or is that referring to not breeding me with another fire elemental?”

“I don’t know.”

She put a hand on his face. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Why burden you with that? They were gone; it would only have hurt you.”

“Cress, we all needed to know.”

“Stop it. Just leave him alone,” Occie said, pulling her brother into her arms. She ran her fingers through his hair. “They screwed with your head good, didn’t they? Oh, Cress, I begged you not to, but you did it anyway, didn’t you? There were no rogues that day, were there?”

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