The Fire Within - Heidi Cooper

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 20 (v.1) - Chapter Twenty

Submitted: July 27, 2017

Reads: 83

Comments: 1

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Submitted: July 27, 2017



Chapter Twenty


Helena had been bound, but why, and by whom?


Mum and Dad were being incredibly secretive, more so than usual.


“Dad,” I said, as I sat down to my breakfast. “What is a binding spell?”


“Normally it is used to bind ones magic.” He responded, folding his paper and placing it on the table nearby.


“But that would mean…”


“Yes. That Helena is a witch.”


“That’s impossible.” I said dismissively, shaking my head. “Helena wouldn’t lie to me.”


“Perhaps she isn’t aware.” Mum said, as she entered the kitchen holding some fresh herbs. She bound each bunch of herbs with twine and strung them up to dry.


“It’s so weird.” I said, distracted.


“That your friend might be a witch, too?”


“No, well yes – I mean, there’s that.” I responded, pushing my food around the plate. “It’s weird that we talk so openly about this now when just a few weeks ago you were…”


“Keeping it from you.” Mum cut in.


“Yeah…” I said, my voice trailing off. “I suppose you want me to stay away from Helena?” I felt sadness well up inside of me at my own words.


“As much as we want to protect you Em, we try not to be too overbearing.” Dad said. “You girls have school together, and you are best friends. Even if she is a witch and there is a slight chance she is on the wrong side, she doesn’t seem to know of her ability – she is bound or so it would seem – and therefor isn’t a threat.”


“You’re saying she could be a shadow coven member without knowing?” I said. “But that would mean her parents –”


“Are dark witches too.”


“No. It can’t be.” I said. “There is no way…”


I could not shake the events of the night before; it replayed over and over inside my head. There was just no way Helena could be a witch. She was too...normal. I shrugged my bag onto my shoulder and headed out the door.


One class bled into another as the day dragged on. Helena didn’t attend any of our classes. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and sent her a quick text. The bell signalling the end of the school day echoed throughout the grounds as I hit enter. I slipped my phone into my pocket as I exited the auditorium.


“Em!” Josiah called out. He was waiting at the corner of the building with his hands in his pockets.


“I am not supposed to talk to you.” I said trying to avoid eye contact.


“I know what you must think but I would never hurt you, Em.” He reached out gingerly to touch my face. I glanced up and we locked eyes. I felt defeated; he had this power over me. “We need to talk.”


“My parents – ”


“I know they are concerned about you, but they have no reason to be worried about me.”


“I just don’t know if I can trust you…”


“Em…” Josias said. “Please…” I felt waves of sadness crash over him as I walked away.




A crescent moon sat high in the darkened sky; clouds as far as the eye could see smothered any light the stars would normally have provided. Helena had not answered any of my texts. I picked up a nearby book to try and take my mind off my troubles. I skimmed through it briefly before tossing it back onto my nightstand. Mum suddenly appeared in my doorway.


“Are you okay, honey?”


“I don’t know how to feel Mum.” I said, sadness threatened to overwhelm me. I swallowed the painful lump I felt in my throat. She sat by me on the bed, sympathy in her warm eyes.


“Do you want to talk about it?” She soothed.


“I feel so alone mum. Helena wasn’t at school today and she isn’t answering any of my texts. I feel like my heart is being ripped in two having to see Josias at school and not being able to talk with him – to be with him. I miss him mum. I know you want me to be safe - and it probably sounds ridiculous to you but I feel safe around him. When he isn’t near me I feel like there is this gaping void in my soul…”


“I have an idea.” Mum said with a twinkle in her eye. “Gather your box of magical trinkets and meet your father and me downstairs.”


When I entered the lounge room mum and dad were already sitting side by side on the lounge. I placed the box with all of my inherited enchanted items on the coffee table and knelt on the floor opposite my parents. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Instinctively I gathered up the box ready to hide it.


“It’s okay, Em. You can leave the box there.” Dad said. Mum answered the door and returned with my grandfather.


“David, Emilie.” He said. “It is lovely to see you both again.”


“I asked Tobias to come here to assist us with the spell.” Mum announced. “Please, won’t you take a seat?” She added, gesturing toward the empty space next to my father.


“Cordelia, could I possibly trouble you for some refreshments? I am afraid I have not yet had the time to nourish myself this morning.” He said, rubbing his hands together. “You see, I came as soon as I got your call. I was so delighted that you wished to see me again.” He cast his eyes down on me. “And how is my darling granddaughter?”


I still felt odd when he called me that. Technically it was true but since I hardly knew him he still felt like just another stranger to me.


“How do we know we can trust him?” I spat suddenly, feeling a little bitter about the double standards.




“That’s quite alright, Cordelia.” My grandfather said, eyeing me sympathetically. 


“It’s not fair!” I continued. “You keep drumming it into me that I can’t trust anyone. I can’t be around Josias and now Helena because of it – but you trust him –” I pointed at my grandfather accusingly. “You barely know him! AND he used to be involved in shadow magic!”


I instantly wish I could have swallowed my words. They stung so harshly that I saw tears well in his eyes before he blinked them away. I suddenly felt about two inches tall.


“Dad…I – I’m sorry…”


Dad looked at me compassionately – which only intensified the guilt I felt – but said nothing. I fell silent.


“That is the reason I am here, Emilie.” My grandfather pronounced. “I have been doing some research and I believe I may have a spell that determines ones true nature, good or evil. I believe it will aid us in determining who can be trusted and who can’t.”


“Worth a try, right?” My mum said.


“Aren’t you worried about the shadow coven finding out who and where we are?” I asked.


“I placed wards up along the perimeter of the house. It should help keep traces of our magical energies from escaping into the atmosphere.”


“Why didn’t you tell us this before?” I asked. “Instead of making me scared of everyone’s intentions, including those of my friends.”


“Emilie. Enough with the interrogation.” Mum said, lowering her eyes at me sternly. “I am trying to compromise here.”


“We will carry out the spell firstly to determine Josiah’s intentions, and then Helena’s.”


And yours...I thought. Mum narrowed her eyes, shaking her head at me. Dad looked addled. He wanted so badly to trust his father but the abandonment and lack of contact through the centuries caused some exceptionally deep emotional scars. He hadn’t said a word since my grandfather had arrived and he didn’t have to; the air was laced with his emotions. Perhaps I was the only one who noticed – Mum and Tobias were too busy laying items out on the table in preparation for the spell.


“How does this work, exactly?” I look down at them, eyebrow raised.


“Emilie, my dear. Do you have anything belonging to Josias and Helena that we might use? Something connected to them.”


“Thanks for answering my question,” I mumbled, turning on my heels and heading upstairs. I returned with a scarf that I had borrowed from Helena a few days ago and a letter than Josias had written me during a fifth period English class. I handed them reluctantly to my grandfather and resumed my position near the coffee table.


“Please won’t you sit?” My grandfather instructed. “Now, form a triangle around the vessel and link hands.”


“A triangle?” I probed. “You’re not doing it?”


“I need to recite the spell and deposit the items into the vessel.”


“Ok, Cordelia, David, we have everything we need. Let us begin.”


“David?” My mother said.


“Oh, sorry.” Dad replied.


“Are you okay, honey?”


My father nodded, and extended his hands toward my mother and me.


“Focus your energies together while I recite the spell.” Tobias announced.


He tossed some herbs and a few drops of pungent smelling oil into the vessel, struck a match and threw it in with the other contents. Green flames erupted from within the bowl, changing to blue, purple then red before snuffing out.


When the smoke evaporated he placed the folded scarf into the vessel and began chanting in Latin.


“Conferre lucem ac tenebras.  Ostende mihi illorum voluntate. Ostende mihi illorum marcam. Vel fiat lux tenebris. Visus mihi. Ita ut salvum me, qui scitis. Et quis pugnare.”


As easily as Latin seemed to come to me in recent weeks, I could not translate everything he was saying. I suddenly found myself intently studying his face. For a man of his age there was barely a wrinkle on his skin. In fact, it was quite supple. The crow’s feet were barely visible at the corners of his ears. There was barely a trace of a laugh line. He caught me looking at him and gave me a challenging look. I flinched. My parents didn’t seem to take any notice. The first time I met him I didn’t feel anything toward him one way or another but suddenly I found myself wanting to sprint out of the house and never look back.


He repeated the same spell for Josias. We ceased holding hands after the ritual was complete. Dad had still not spoken.


“Well, I am afraid I have overstayed my welcome.” Tobias said, looking mournfully at his son.


“Won’t you stay?” My mother asked, smiling awkwardly as she glanced at David.


“I am afraid I can’t, Cordelia.” He replied, his eyes still on his son. “Maybe some other time, I don’t want to encroach on anyone.” His eyes swept over to me and I held his lingering gaze before he turned and headed toward the front door. My mother saw him off as I stayed in the lounge room with my father.


“Dad…?” My father suddenly looked at me as though he had seen me for the first time that morning.


“What is it, Em?”


“I – I’m sorry for how I acted around your grandfather earlier.”


Confusion replaced the neutral expression on his face. “When? What are you talking about, Em?”


Dad had headed upstairs to shower after dinner. Mum was busy stacking dishes in the washer as I cleared the table.


“Why are you so eager to trust him?” I blurted out, catching my Mum off guard.




“I don’t get it, Mum. You kept everything from me for my entire life because you were trying to protect me. You told me to limit my interactions with people, especially those I am close to because of the danger I could end up in – and even place others in!” I spat. “How can you trust this man? You don’t even know him! He turns up right after you come clean to me about me being a witch and that doesn’t bother you in the slightest?!”


My mother closed the washer, pressed the start button and sighing, turned to face me.


“He is your Dad’s father, Em.” My mother said. “Give him a chance.”


“Mum, something weird is going on.” I persisted. “I didn’t get a good feeling while he was at the house today – and after he left it was like a switch was flicked on inside Dad – he doesn’t even remember his father being here today!”


“That’s not –”


“Mum, I know what I saw.”


“What is all this yelling about, ladies?” My father said as he came into view. He stood blinking, looking from my mother to me and back again.


“David, you remember your father dropping by today, right?”


“No. Not today. Why?”


“See?” I yelled. Something in the air shifted. My mother and I had never spoken so heatedly between each other before. My father could not recall his father being there that morning. I knew that my bad feeling about him was not to be ignored.


“What is doing on?” My father asked, shifting his stance as he continued to study my mother and me.


“I – I think we have a problem here…” my mother’s voice trailed off. Her thousand yard stare explicated more than her words could in that moment.


I suddenly remembered the Latin I could not quite translate and worried about my boyfriend and best friend.


I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours before I finally succumbed to sleep. I imagined my brain made up of thousands of rubber bands and extended them outward, desperately trying to reach Josias.


Emilie…what is it? Are you okay?


Suddenly, I was in his house. I rushed forward into his arms and collapsed into harsh shuddering sobs against his bare chest.


“Emilie, what is it?” He murmured, gently plucking wisps of hair from my face and tucking them behind my ear as he held me.


“I’m so scared!” I shivered. “I – I don’t know who I can trust anymore, Josias.”


“I am here, Em.” He said, holding me tightly and tracing circles on my back with his fingers. “You are safe here.”


I looked up at him, desperate to forget all of my troubles. He spoke in hushed tones and continued to tickle my back as I slowly relaxed against him.


“I don’t know why my parents suddenly can’t trust you.” I sobbed. “They trust my grandfather, a stranger who only recently came waltzing into our lives after centuries of being an outcast. Well, my mother doesn’t seem to feel threatened by him or is oblivious to it and my father – this morning after my grandfather came and left, my Dad couldn’t seem to remember him even being there…”


Josias listened intently as I poured my heart out. He was always a great listener.


“What was he there for?” Josias probed. “And why would your father not remember, but you and your mother did?”


“I don’t know.” I responded. “But the whole time he was there I had this incredibly uneasy feeling. When he did the spell I could not translate it. It was like I had some kind of mental block. Usually the words just kind of pop into my head and make sense, but this time it was like I had never heard Latin before.”


Josias looked as though he suddenly remembered some important detail; the colour drained from his face. “Em, this morning…around what time did he perform the spell?”


“Uh, I – I don’t know.” I stammered.


“Think Em, this is important.”


“I, uh, I think it was about ten o’clock.”


He suddenly looked white as a sheet.


“What is it?!” I asked. His eyes slowly lowered to mine and his stare was fiercely intense.


“What did he use for the spell?”


“Uh, herbs, some oil and…” I stopped, suddenly frightened of saying more.


“What Em! What else?”


“The letter you wrote to me, in English.” I said in a small voice. “My grandfather and mother had organised for him to come by to cast a spell – to figure out if you and Helena were safe for me to be around…”


“Em, I don’t think that’s what he was doing.”


“WH – What do you mean?” I asked, suddenly feeling nauseated.


“I don’t know exactly, Em.” Josiah said, nervously running his hand through his hair. “I felt a strange fluctuation in my powers this morning right around that time. I was standing in the lounge room and the embers in the fireplace suddenly caught fire. When I looked up above the mantle I saw the face of a man looking back at me. I only caught a quick glimpse of him before he faded against the bricks. I do remember one thing; his eyes were the colour of liquid gold.”


It was overcast; drops of moisture clung to the glass of my window outside. I shuddered as I clutched my quilt close to my chest. I glanced at my wristwatch and groaned; school would start in thirty minutes but I was not prepared to face the world.


I showered, dressed, raided my piggy bank for lunch money and rushed out the door; I simply couldn’t face my parents. I felt like I was a stranger in my home. As I rounded the corner of my street I caught sight of Josias waiting casually against a fence. He walked toward me grinning as I ran to him. He kissed me on the forehead and held me for a few minutes. I felt my heart settle into a gentle rhythm as I breathed him in.


“I have missed you so much.” He tilted my chin up so that my face met his. He kissed me full on the mouth, tenderly at first. He parted my lips with his tongue and kissed with such a fierce intensity that my whole body vibrated with electrical energy.


“I wish I could see you more.” I said, throatily. “I just wish my parents would be reasonable.”


“I have an idea.”


I gazed at the twinkle dancing in his eye as he spoke. My heart did flips as his dimples appeared, his perfect full lips over straight white teeth. I couldn’t help but stare at him.



Those eyes…




Gosh, that smile…


I suddenly became aware of him laughing and felt my cheeks flush.


“Sorry.” I said, timidly.


“Where do you go when you zone out like that?” he asked, still chuckling. As if you don’t know…I thought, smiling at him. “We can see each other at night.”


“My parents would never let me leave the house.”


“Who said anything about leaving the house?” He grinned and cupping my face added, “Our dreams. We can meet up with each other in our dreams.”


Oh if only he knew…I thought, languorously. “So you really would be the man of my dreams.” I said, huskily. He smiled and kissed me on the forehead.


Another school day dragged on and Helena still had not returned to school. Mrs Bishop stopped me at the end of drama class.


“Have you heard from Helena? Is she okay?”


“I don’t know. She hasn’t been answering any of my texts or phone calls.” I replied.


“If you do see her,” she said, retrieving a manila folder full of worksheets. “Can you please give this to her for me? Her teachers and I are worried she will get too far behind in her senior year.”


“Sure thing, Mrs B.” I said, grabbing the folder.


Instead of heading straight home after school I took a detour by Helena’s house. It was a double story brick home with double garage and big, open windows. I stood by the letterbox and glanced up at the house; it looked different somehow. A little too still, lifeless. The curtains were drawn completely which was unusual. Mrs Chant hated feeling like the place was too closed in, too dark. The cars were not parked in the driveway like they usually were. I paused on the footpath leading up to the large wooden double doors for a moment. It was possible that they weren’t home and I was being a little paranoid, but something didn’t feel right.


I walked timidly up to the front door and knocked loudly. Several minutes passed. Just as I was about to leave the door opened. Mrs Chant stood at the threshold. She looked old, worn-out. Dark bags hung under her eyes. Every fine wrinkle on her face seemed to be more defined than I could recall. Her dark hair was up in a messy bun with wisps falling down around her tired face.


“Helena can’t see you right now, Emilie.” She said, grimacing as though she suddenly felt a sharp wince of pain.


“I – I just brought these by for her at her teachers’ request.” I stuttered, handing her the folder. “Is – Is she okay?”


“She will be fine. We haven’t been well.” Mrs Chant said. “I will let her know you came by.”


She shut the door before I could utter another word.


I headed for home, even though I wasn’t ready to face my mother. She was a little too trusting of my grandfather given everything. His brush with dark magic, his sudden, all-too-timely appearance and how Dad had responded last time his father had come to visit. I knew Tobias was up to something. I could feel it.


As I entered the house I was greeted loud, irate voices. I followed the sound and found my parents yelling at each other in the kitchen. The tension in the room was so thick even a butcher’s knife could not have carved through it.


“Mum! Dad! What is going on?!”


They suddenly noticed I was in the room and fell silent. Dad detached himself from the heated conversation immediately, and though his cheeks were flushed from anger asked, “How was your day, poppet?”


Mum left the kitchen without saying a word.


“Dad, why are you and Mum fighting? What’s going on?”


“It’s nothing, sweetheart.” He said, pulling me into a hug. “You have enough on your mind. Grown-ups fight sometimes, that’s all.”


I eyed him suspiciously. “It didn’t sound like nothing.”


“It’s fine, pumpkin. Want a milkshake? I will make you your favourite.”


I had a quick shower, threw on a nightie and shut my bedroom door. I hadn’t seen Mum again since earlier that afternoon. I sighed heavily, climbed into bed and flicked my lamp off. I sobbed myself to sleep; for my parents, my best friend and for my boyfriend.




Emilie…are you okay? As my eyes fluttered open I found myself sitting in the lounge room. Fire crackled in the hearth throwing shadows that dance around the walls.  Josias was sitting by the fire, stoking the flames with a cast iron poker. He returned the poker and rushed towards me with his arms open. He held me tightly, murmuring in my ear. I could feel the warmth of his breath against my neck as he said all the right things.


After what seemed like at least fifteen minutes, he pulled away from me and studied my face. “I love you, Em.” His hands cupped my cheeks and gently wiped away my tears with his thumbs. “Everything is going to be okay.”


He led me over to the sofa that sat partially doused by soft, natural light. Lying down, he pulled me on top of him and continued to hold me. I fell asleep to the steady beat of his heart, his breathing and the calming sound of logs spitting and crackling in the hearth. Every muscle in my body relaxed as I breathed him in.


He felt like home. I felt like I was home. That night, I hoped I could stay with him forever. That night, I hoped that I would never wake up.

© Copyright 2019 H D Cooper. All rights reserved.


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