Author’s Note: Really, it was past time for Enya to start learning control.
“The lake is mine.”
“You can’t claim it. You’re not the only water elemental around here, you know,” Enya said, stopping to take off her shoes before she stepped into the water, letting it swirl around her ankles with a smile. She didn’t see Occie, but that didn’t mean anything. Water elementals had the kind of breath control that would make divers jealous. They could stay underwater almost as long as the fish could. “You look a lot better than you did when you got back.”
He glanced down at his chest before coming toward the shore to pick up his shirt. He pulled it on and shrugged. “I’m wet. A lot of things look better wet. Not cats, though. I don’t think it would be fair for one of us to have a cat.”
“Probably not. I might set it on fire, you could drown it, and Moira would end up knocking the poor thing out of the house with a gust of wind.”
He smiled, shaking his head. “I don’t know that I ever gave a lot of thought to pets before. When we were younger, when you would have thought we’d have wanted them, we never really did that begging for an animal thing.”
“Your parents were evil, though.”
Enya glanced back at the house. “Flint suggested trying something simple out here by the lake. Moira told him to stop pushing me. I don’t know if he’s coming or not. He said he was right behind me, but with the way those two can fight…”
Cress waded further into the water, letting his hand turn around in an idle pattern, creating ripples across the surface. “You don’t want to know what I know about that.”
“She does like him, doesn’t she?” Enya grinned. “I knew it. That’s just their way of flirting.”
“Seems to be. Could be something else.”
“You’re the one that reads emotions.”
“Yes, and Flint’s would seem to be genuine, but what I do is not an exact science. I don’t always know what it means when I feel things from other people, and I know part of the time, I’m making it worse by trying to shut it all out. I don’t want to feel everything. That stuff is… private.” He let out a breath. “I think the worst is when I feel something from Occie. She’s my sister. I really don’t need to know that kind of thing.”
“She holds a lot of it back for you, though.”
“Maybe what you need is someone else to help you when you’re down, not just her. We found a decent fire rogue. Maybe there’s a rogue water somewhere who could help balance you.”
He shook his head. “I don’t want another water elemental. I don’t want to burden my sister, but this… Well, it’ll all be over after we get Stone back. We’ll have him, we’ll destroy Aether, and we’ll go our separate ways, finally. Everyone gets to be free.”
He frowned at her, and she stepped closer to him, deciding it didn’t matter if her pants got soaked or not. “Cress, you got denied a lot of things, probably more than the rest of us because you were responsible for everyone, and you should be able to have the same freedom.”
She rolled her eyes, prepared to start arguing with him when she felt something warm pass by her, skimming across the water.
“Neat trick, huh? Maggie could make it last a lot longer, and she always was proud of the whole flame defying the water thing. She thought that was something special.”
Cress stirred the water, and Enya would have sworn he was soothing it this time.
“That wasn’t what I intended to show you, though. That takes quite a bit of practice.”
“You don’t have to do this, you know. I can hear how tense you are already.”
She sighed. “I’m sorry. It was… That fire was probably the worst night of my life, and it wasn’t like I… came into this thing easy, either. We were playing in the street, Sherwin was chasing me, and I hit the car mirror—next thing I knew, everything was on fire and people were screaming and…”
Cress put his hands on her shoulders. “I think everyone was terrified when they first figured out what they could do. Everyone but Sherwin. He was always so upset about being the last to know. When the water started going everywhere, I think I was screaming the loudest, even though it wasn’t after me at all. I was back against the wall where I’d hit the mirror, and nothing got close to me, but it was still frightening. I don’t know what I would have done if my attunement had been fire.”
“You couldn’t be anything but water,” she said, leaning back against him for a moment. She looked up at him. “So… you think you’re up to being the hero that puts all the flames out again? You know it won’t be easy if it gets started.”
“You know that never stopped me before.”
She nodded. He hadn’t had even a quarter of the control he did when he grabbed hold of her that day and stopped the fire that had taken his parents’ car and the lawn. Somehow, though, he’d managed to keep it from hitting the houses and taking them all. That might have been the first time he used the rain, but she wasn’t sure.
Flint cleared his throat. “Okay, if you’re sure you want to do this and you think you’re ready for it… We’ll do something real simple. I know it might sound frightening, but it’s fine. I’m here, I should be able to handle any fires we start, and if I can’t, your friend will make sure they’re out, okay?”
“All right. I’m going to start something small, and all I want you to do is make it bigger.”
Cress shifted his hands from her shoulders to her arms. “Don’t panic yet. I’m with Flint. Making it bigger would be easier than throwing something out there and telling you to put it out.”
They both had a point. She took a deep breath, signaling for Flint to try it. She watched the small flame, trying to reach it without touching it, but all that did was give her a headache. She sighed, stepping forward to put a hand near it. The flame rose up, and she jumped backward, trying to breathe herself calm.
“Did you do that?”
Flint shook his head as he looked at the fire, making it disappear. “That was you.”
She bit her lip, and then Cress’ arms were around her, and she didn’t want to think about anything. She didn’t know if that was a victory or not, and she didn’t want to know right now. She closed her eyes. “Am I a big coward for wanting to stop there?”
“No, Enya. You surprised me. Didn’t think you’d try touching it. I’m proud of you.”
“I didn’t really do anything.”
“That’s not true.”