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: One of the first things I knew about Enya was what she and Cress talk about here, but the hard part was finding a good way to build up to the revelation and making that revelation a good one. This wasn’t going to be it, but it didn’t make sense for them not to discuss it here.

No Comfort

Enya’s hand registered a strange lumpiness to her pillow, and then she realized that it was too hard for a pillow, and it was moving. She kept her eyes closed, listening to Cress’ breathing for a moment, not wanting to admit how good it felt not to be alone. “How long?”

“Not too long. Fifteen, twenty minutes, maybe.”


Cress laughed, shaking her as he did. She could smell his scent mixed in with that of his new shirt, still fresh from the store, always a bit like the aftermath of a rainstorm. He felt cooler than he should be, though that was no surprise, either. “Fine. Couple hours, give or take.”

She sighed, not wanting to look at him. She should move, and she didn’t want to think, or she’d have to acknowledge how humiliated she was. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It’s nothing.”

“Another lie.”

He shrugged. “I call it nothing, and since I’m the one that knows, not you, you don’t get to argue with me about it.”

She rolled her eyes. He refused to admit that it hurt him, would never let her think she was a burden. His job was keeping her calm. She couldn’t be calm if she knew she was hurting him, or so his messed up logic went. “You shouldn’t have had to do this. I… I haven’t had that nightmare in… Well, it’s been more recent than I’d like, but your phone calls bring it back. It’s not—I guess I shouldn’t say that. I should be having nightmares. I should be feeling guilty. I am, but not for the right reason. This… It’s like it isn’t even real that I killed two men last night. It’s like I don’t feel anything at all.”

He bumped his head against hers, a gentle tap, and she frowned as she twisted to look at him. He smiled. “In case you’ve forgotten, you’re right up against me. Just about every inch of you is buffeted next to me. It might not be skin-on-skin since we’re both fully clothed, but it’s close enough. You’ve got one giant wet blanket covering you, and if you didn’t… Well, we might never have gotten you calm.”

She shuddered, leaning into him. “I’m such a monster, Cress. All I ever do is kill.”

“That’s not true, and you know it.”

“I killed them all, though. I don’t know that I even care about the two men that came after me. I don’t. I am a monster. I don’t care about them, but… I killed—”

“Shh,” he said, combing his fingers through her hair. “You are not a monster. You couldn’t control the fire, and you couldn’t stop what happened. Even your parents, two people with years of experience manipulating fire, they couldn’t stop it. They didn’t.”

She shook her head. “I shouldn’t be alive. Not me. I let that thing loose, and it killed them. They were attuned to fire; they should have lived. Why me and not them?”

“Your brother didn’t have any more control than you did. He couldn’t protect himself from the flames, and since he couldn’t, they tried to shield him, but that left them all vulnerable.”

She sighed. “That doesn’t make it any better. I started it, didn’t I?”

“Did you?”

She frowned. “Cress—”

“Most of us found our abilities through some need to defend ourselves. You know my story. I shouldn’t have to repeat it. You might have reacted to something your brother did. Have you ever considered that?”

She shook her head. “No. I know you’re trying to help, but I won’t go blaming my brother just to make myself feel better.”

“You don’t have to, but you know even with the nightmares, your memories of that night have never been clear.”

She pulled away from him, rising. “Don’t. I’m not doing this. Not with you, not with anyone else. I won’t. I will—I can’t control my nightmares, but you don’t have to take care of me any longer. You don’t have to talk me down or pretend I’m something I’m not—”


She stopped. “What?”

“You have never been a monster to me.”

“I’m still going. You know if I don’t, I’ll just bleed you dry. I always have.”

He nodded, closing his eyes. She bit her lip, hating seeing him so tired, so drained, and knowing that it was all her fault. She turned her head, ducking out of the room.

2 thoughts on “No Comfort

  1. Liana Mir says:

    Interesting that the elemental parents married each other and made lovely, pure children. I wonder what would happen if they just mixed it up a bit. Well, love this piece and it was built-out well, even if it didn’t cooperate with your first plans. I loved this snippet and how they’re starting to strip down the barriers to naked truth.

    • kabobbles says:

      That, in part, goes back to what Enya told Sherwin, that her father said the need for a counterpart would drive them to find someone with their element to marry. It is, apparently, what he did, though I don’t know about any of the other parents since they’ve revealed so little about themselves even in their children’s thoughts.

      Maybe the children would be able to be attuned to more than one element if there was more mixing. That could be very interesting indeed…

      I was going to go into Enya’s nightmare more, but I liked the interplay of everyone else talking the situation over more than having her overhear it (not that she would have registered it in the state she was in when Cress started to calm her) so then this followed after that.

      You’re right. There’s a very basic truth, the key to understanding Enya, in this bit. Her guilt over what happened to her family defines just about everything in her life. Enya’s always been afraid of hurting everyone around her, of history repeating itself. She’s been punishing herself for years now, and she’s unwilling to stop, no matter who tries to tell her she doesn’t have to.

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