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Magic: Part Two


by supergirl309

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Thea sat on the edge of her bed, fingering the soft fabric of Xere's jacket in her paws, eyes closed. She had been sitting there in the dark for almost an hour now, wondering what she could add to the collage of artistic marks. It was past midnight, and outside the wind howled through the trees, sweeping the snow around in swirling patterns. The small Round Table Lamp on her bedside table cast a pale, weary glow about the small second-story room.

      Shaking her head, Thea reached under her pillow. Feeling around, her paw fell upon a small book, leather-bound and worn, covered with doodles. She pulled it from under the soft pillow and used the delicately engraved key taped to the underside of her bed to open the lock that kept the small book bound shut.

      Carefully, she shuffled through the yellowing pages of the diary she'd kept for seven years, recording her hopes, dreams, disappointments, and the injustices of the world around her. She thumbed slowly across the middle section of the book before stopping at a wrinkled, dog-eared page that was halfway torn out. She ran a paw over the carefully inked purple words that graced the heavy paper. It was a poem, one she'd written a little over a year ago. Originally, she'd had to write it for school, but when she found herself penning down her soul onto a sheet of paper, she'd left the poem in her diary and instead wrote a bland little rhyme.

      She uncapped the purple pen hooked onto the cover of the book and slowly began to copy the poem onto Xere's jacket in flowing, artistic script. Feeling struck with a sudden burst of creativity, she added a closing line to the poem and signed it in large, loopy writing.

      When she was finished, she held it at an arm's length to admire it, tilting her lamp a bit so she could see. She smiled at the patch of bright purple writing. But then she sighed softly, wondering if it was good enough. ...She was no artist after all.

      Shaking her head, she flicked off her lamp and burrowed into her warm sheets and was asleep before she knew it.

      * * *

     To Thea's great relief, the Battledome tournament was running into the next day, giving her an excuse to go off by herself again.

      "I guess I'll just go to the Smoothie Store by myself today," she muttered to her friends, trying to look dejected.

      "Alright then," her "best friend", a red Scorchio said absent-mindedly, glancing at the program the others were poring over.

      "So, see you later," Thea called half-heartedly over the chill wind as her friends turned for the direction of the Battledome, chattering loudly and giggling. Not one of them even turned to wave.

      With a sigh, Thea headed for the catacombs, huddling inside the warm folds of Xere's jacket. Despite herself, unwanted tears stung at her eyes. She whipped them hastily away with the back of her paw as she trotted down into the catacombs.

      Xere was waiting near the Storytelling campfire, sporting a black T-shirt with the words "Mutants are People Too" printed in white across his chest.

      Thea took her time walking down to him, the tears that had filled her eyes replaced with a shaky smile.

      The Kyrii greeted her warmly as she came up to him. "I knew you'd make it," he said with a bright grin. "Did you get a chance to add on to that jacket?"

      Thea nodded, suddenly filled with embarrassment. What had she been thinking, trying to pass her stupid little poem off as something worthy of Xere's artistic collage?

      Paws trembling slightly, she removed the heavy jacket and handed it to Xere. Eyes to the ground, she pointed out her poem on the sleeve of the jacket.

      Xere held the brown fabric up to his face, eyes roving across the lines of the poem. When he was finished reading, he grinned and shrugged the coat onto his shoulders. "That's very good," he commented. "I didn't know you were a poet."

      Thea blinked, shocked. "Oh, I'm not a poet," she said quickly. "I wrote that for school, but..." she trailed off, blushing furiously. "I meant to say... um, thanks. Thanks very much."

      Laughing, Xere pulled Thea into a quick hug. "I think you're a great poet," he said. "Have you written anything else?"

      Thea shook her head. "No, that was for school, like I said. I didn't turn it in though," she added sheepishly.

      Xere raised a curious eyebrow. "Why not? I'm not lying - it's really good."

      Thea crossed her arms nervously, still staring at the ground. "I dunno... it was too personal. People would've thought I was a weirdo."

      "So your friends think being artistic makes you a weirdo?" Xere said, brow furrowed.

      "Well, no..." Thea trailed off. The last thing she wanted to talk about were her so-called friends. She shook her head. "Let's... let's just go hear the rest of the story."

      Xere sighed and nodded, heading for the crackling bonfire. He and Thea found a dry log near the flickering flames. As seats around them began to fill up, and the flames of the bonfire climbed higher, almost licking at the ceiling, a shadowed Aisha in a white skirt and jacket stood up and waited several seconds as a hush fell upon the crowd.

      "That Aisha," Xere whispered to Thea as the aforementioned pet began to pace slowly before the fire, "she's a friend of mine. Her name's Llysu Verdaemi." The Kyrii risked a discreet wave at Llysu, who curled her lips into a slight smile as she adjusted her grey wool beret. Xere grinned and whispered again to Thea. "She's an amazing writer. I think we're in for an exceptional story."

      The Aisha cleared her throat quietly, then began the next part of the story.

      Once again, Thea found herself being whisked away to a far-off place. As the story progressed, she again thought she could hear the shrieking wind as it drove through the high and barren peaks of Terror Mountain. She could almost feel the soft snowflakes clinging to her fur...

      Xere had been quite right - they did receive an exceptional story. She was so enchanted by Llysu's imagery and the way she knitted the story together, she found it hard to find her footing as Xere pulled her to her feet after the story was finished.

      Shaking her head dazedly, Thea brought herself back to reality just as Xere grabbed her paw and pulled her off to go talk to Llysu.

      There was a crowd of buzzing pets surrounding the Aisha, all of them congratulating her on her amazing performance. Thea and Xere slowly nudged and "excuse me" 'd their way through the mob, finally ending up at Llysu's side, by which time the crowd was starting to thin out.

      "Bonjour, Llysu," Xere said, sweeping into a low bow.

      Llysu swatted him mildly on his exposed neck, brushing several of his blue spikes askew. "Oh, drop it," she said, grinning despite her harsh tone. "Have you brought me another adoring fan or something?" she added as Xere righted himself, fingering his mussed spikes ruefully.

      "Not quite," he said, pulling Thea forward. "This is Thea. I found her standing out in the cold yesterday," he winked at the embarrassed Cybunny, "and 'took her under my wing', if you will." He broke into a pleased smile. "She's a poet."

      Thea's already pink cheeks flushed a deep shade of red. "Nice to meet you," she murmured, eying the ground. "I'm not really a poet..."

      "Don't listen to her," Xere said to Llysu, "she's really good!" He plucked at his sleeve, right where Thea's poem was. "Look what she added to The Jacket."

      Growing redder still, Thea shuffled her feet as she glanced at Llysu, whose eyes were roving over her patch of purple ink. The shadowed Aisha raised her eyebrows. "That's quite good," she commented, forcing Thea to look her in the eyes. "You should consider entering the Poetry Contest sometime."

      Thea rubbed the back of her neck. "Oh... erm, I probably wouldn't make the cut," she stammered. "It's not that good..."

      "Oh, stop saying that!" Xere said somewhat impatiently. "Can't you take a compliment?" He winked at the Cybunny, who tried to pull her lips into a smile.

      "How would you guys like to come have a cup of coffee with me?" Llysu ventured.

      "Sounds good to me," Xere said with a smile. "Thea?"

      Thea glanced at her watch. "Oh... it's getting late," she sighed. "I should probably head home."

      "If you insist," Xere said reaching into his pocket. "Take this with though, would you?" He withdrew a plaid wool scarf. It had been woven in shades of lime green, magenta, and purple. "Keep you warm, you know. I bet it's still snowing."

      Thea hesitantly took the scarf. "Thanks," she said, wrapping it around her neck several times. She waved at the two pets and headed for the exit.

      "You coming back tomorrow?" Xere called after her.

      "Maybe..." Thea started, then thought of her friends, who had abandoned her to go watch her brothers beat each other up over some trophy. "Yeah," Thea called back clearly. "Yeah, I'll be here." The she turned to leave, and the knot in her stomach that had bothering her since yesterday loosened a little.

      * * *

     The next day Thea stood outside on the lawn after school, distancing herself slightly from her friends, the scarf Xere had given her wrapped tightly around her neck. She was determined to meet Xere at the Catacombs that afternoon, even if her friends weren't going to the Battledome.

      Shortly, the group of pets began to make their way towards Neopia Central. Mari, a red Scorchio motioned for Thea to come with them. Hesitantly, Thea trotted after them. The Catacombs were in Neopia Central after all - she'd just go that far with them...

      When the reached the block where the Art Gallery entrance stood, Thea slowly halted. Her friends, ahead of her, quickly noticed that she wasn't following them any more.

      Arms crossed, Mari strode over to the Cybunny. "Thea?" she intoned curiously. "Why'd you stop?"

      Swallowing hard, Thea tried not look at Mari as she spoke. "Well, I was gonna go to the... um, the Art Gallery today. I went there yesterday while you guys were... doing something else, and I have to... have to give someone something..." She trailed off, fingering the fringe on her scarf.

      "What are you talking about?" Mari said impatiently. "The tournament's over, you know - we're going to the Smoothie Shop today. ...Did you just forget your money or something?"

      Thea looked up at the Scorchio. "No Mari, didn't you hear me? I need to give someone something."

      "What do you mean 'someone'?" Mari asked slowly. "Did you ditch us for some of those artsy freaks yesterday." She rolled her eyes and snorted as she said the last bit.

      "I ditched you?" Thea said incredulously. "What are you talking about? You ditched me! You didn't even care whether I wanted to go to that stupid tournament or not!!" she yelled, voice cracking. Her throat stung with unshed tears.

      "Oh chill out," Mari said casually. "It was no big. We just didn't want you dragging us down sulking the whole way!" She reached into her pocket and withdrew a bottle, glowing with a faint blue light. "Your brothers gave us a bit of their winnings, and we got a deal on some Faeries at Mystery Island. No one wanted the Air one, so we thought you could have or something."

      Thea's eyes widened as they took in the glowing blue figure crouched in the little glass bottle. She'd always wanted to have some sort of magic... She reached out a paw to touch the glass, but stopped as she caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye. Standing across the street from the entrance to the Catacombs was a tall figure, clad in dark tan jacket. She glimpsed him waving and swallowed nervously as he jogged over to her.

      The red Kyrii ruffled Thea's hair playfully as he came to stand next to her. "Hey Xere," she said quietly.

      "Ugh, it's one of those weirdoes," Mari said reproachfully, taking in the colorful patches on Xere's jacket, and the way his blue mane stood up in spikes. "Don't tell me you're turning into one, Thea."

      Xere glanced at the red Scorchio, his expression betraying no emotions. "What a lovely little girl," he muttered.

      Rolling her eyes in exasperation, Mari held the bottle out to Thea. "Well, are you gonna take this thing and come with us, or stay and join the crazy-con."

      Part of Thea was silently crying at her to take the Faerie, and let the magic taint her fingertips - but another part started up a whole other argument... She'd always settled for being average - average color, average grades, average friends. She'd always just taken what she could get - even in the case of her friends. They'd always made her feel average. Xere and Arielle and Llysu... they made her feel... special; different; set apart from the crowd, as a warm golden spotlight was shining on her.

      ...Would a simple Faerie's blessing really change it all?

      "They aren't weirdoes, and they aren't crazy," Thea said boldly. "Those 'artsy freaks' are some of the nicest people I've ever met." She pushed the bottle back at Mari. "In fact, I'll think I'll be joining their ranks soon," she continued defiantly. "I'm a poet."

      Mari looked aghast, then very angry. "Fine then!" she yelled. "Go with them - I don't care!!" She cast a glare up at Xere, then turned on her heel and stormed off.

      Turning to Xere, Thea saw that his face was alight with a glowing smile. He held his breath for a moment, looking like he was going to say something important, but then let it out and said simply, "C'mon, let's go to the Coffee Shop."

      A light snow began to fall as the two pets headed for the Art Gallery, and Thea's gaze fell to the ground. A part of her still wished - quite badly in fact - that she could've touched magic.

      "What's wrong?" Xere asked, noting that Thea's shoulders sagged.

      The the Cybunny sighed and shivered slightly. "It's just... I guess it would be nice to have something that really set my apart - like magic from that Faerie... or something..." she trailed off sadly.

      As they approached the stone stairway that led to the catacombs, Xere put his arm around Thea's shoulder. "But you do, Thea," he said softly. The bit of fabric with her purple-inked poem rubbed up against Thea's shoulder as the Kyrii spoke. "You have more magic in your soul already than any Faerie could ever give you."

      A small smile brightened Thea's face, and her magic-filled heart glowed with pleasure as they walked through the door, soft white snowflakes falling through the air behind them.

The End

Author's Note: This is a piece for all the artists and magicians of Neopia. I hope you'll use your magic to touch others.

 
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