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Spoilers This is a page that has spoilers from Legacy. Please do not read this if you have not read this book and don't like spoilers.


Sophie woke up in a cold sweat. She gasped for air and rolled over in her bed. She was surprised when she rolled off the bed and fell to the floor.

She rubbed her head and groaned. Her bed was much smaller than she remembered.

She clapped her hands to open the shades and get some light. Nothing happened. She frowned and rubbed her eyes and tried to adjust them to the dark.

She ran her hands against a wall when she found a light switch. She gasped. There were no light switches in the Lost Cities!

She turned it on and the light blinded her eyes. She squinted her eyes. When her eyes finally adjusted, she gasped. She was in her old bedroom in the Forbidden Cities!

She had to clamp her hand over her mouth to stop herself from screaming. This is just a dream, she thought. She pinched herself, to try to wake herself up. Nothing happened. She just got a nasty bruise on her hand.

Her body shaking she walked around her bedroom. Everything was just the way she remembered when she left it a few years back. Sophie froze when she reached the mirror. Her twelve-year-old self was looking back at her.

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“‘Morning Soybean!” her dad, human dad, greeted her cheerfully. Sophie had to blink back happy tears at the sound of her nickname.“You’re up early today!”

“She’s probably just excited for her field trip today,” her mother chuckled.

Sophie had to restrain herself from throwing her arms around them. It’s just been such a long while. But they will know something is up. 

“Yeah,” she lied. “I’m just so excited to see the dinosaurs.” Sophie had stayed up last night to look for clues as to why she traveled back in time. She didn’t have anything on her though. No imparter, no sucker-punch, no nothing. She wanted to try to transmit to Fitz, but what if he didn’t remember her. What if he wasn’t even real? Was she just going mad? 

She didn’t allow her to think those thoughts. There has to be a logical explanation. Today is supposed to be the day she meets Fitz. She hoped she will get answers soon.

“Helllloooo,” Amy stretched out waving her hand in front of Sophie’s face. “Anyone there?”

“Sorry,” Sophie mumbled. “Just...thinking about my homework.”

“Figures,” muttered Amy. “Only you would daydream about your studies.”

Sophie almost wanted to hug Amy just for being her bratty self. She shook her head composing herself. 

“I should go now,” she told her parents picking up her bag. “I don’t want to be late.”

“Bye sweetie,” her mom said kissing her forehead. “Have fun.”

“Oh, I will,” muttered Sophie, walking out the front door. 


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Sophie kept an eye out for a pair of teal eyes that day. She ignored her classmates and teacher as best as she could. She was careful not to listen to music, as she remembered getting caught. 

“Hey!” Garvin cried as Sophie accidentally walked into him lost deep in thought. “Watch out freak!” That raised a burst of laughter from some of the thugs around him. 

“Sorry,” mumbled Sophie halfheartedly.

“You know, I think the newspapers switched ‘freak’ with ‘prodigy’ accidentally!”He sneered. 

Sophie’s mouth went dry. Of course she was just a freak, a misfit. She had been dreaming too much. There was no Fitz. No elf. No home for her. This was all she was.

“Back off her!” A voice boomed behind her.

Sophie’s eyes went as wide as saucers, and hope surged through her She turned around slowly expecting to be met by a pair of teal eyes. Instead, she met a pair of ice-blue ones.

“Keefe?”


“Oh look, the super freak has gotten herself a boyfriend to protect her,” snickered one of the thugs.

“And you’re just a bully who hates on people smarter than you,” retorted Keefe angrily. Sophie has never seen him this mad before. He has gotten angry at the neverseen, but never has his eyes showed so much hate. Garvin must have realized that too as his eyes lost its shine of confidence. He tried not to show it by acting casual.

“Come on,” he told his thugs turning away from Keefe and Sophie. “Pretty boy isn’t worth it.”

Sophie turned to Keefe not knowing what to say.

“You know they are just jealous, right?” Keefe asked her his eyes softening. “Don’t listen to them. They don’t want to admit what a good person you are.”

Sophie didn’t know what to say to that. She did the only thing she could think of. She threw her hands around him. 

He gasped not expecting it and was knocked back a step, his arms failing to keep them both from toppling over. 

“I missed you too, Foster,” he chuckled.

“You remember too?” she asked still not letting go. “I thought I was going mad!”

Keefe put his hands around her.

“I thought I was too,” Keefe admitted. “No one else remembered anything. I woke up in a cold sweat yesterday night.”

“Wait, how are you even here?” Sophie asked pulling away to look at him. “Fitz was supposed to find me today.”

“Disappointed?”Keefe joked though it didn’t reach his eyes.

“What?” Sophie asked bewildered. If anything she was happier Keefe was here. She felt much more comfortable with him rather than with Fitz.“Of course not! You know what I mean!”

“A true prankster never shares his tricks,” smirked Keefe.

Sophie shot him a death glare. But she couldn’t keep a smile from forming. She missed him too much.

“Keefe!” She complained.

“Alright, alright!” he said holding his hands up in surrender. “I wanted to see if you remembered anything, and I knew Fitz was going to meet you today. So I went to Everglen first thing in the morning and begged Alden to let me go today. I made up a crazy story about how I wanted to help make the world a  better place and all that junk. Let’s just say that the Fitzter wasn’t happy about me getting his mission though. He is going to freak when he realizes I found you!”

“Why do you think we were transported back in time?” she asked quietly.

“I don’t know,” he admitted running his hand through his hair somehow making it look even better. “But don’t go all Foster worrying!” he said hurriedly putting his hand around her. “Team Foster-Keefe will always prevail!” 

Sophie rolled her eyes. But the joke did help. 

“So is Mysterious Miss.F ready to go back home?”Keefe asked pulling out his pathfinder.

Sophie shook her head as she remembered something else.

“Gethen will try to kidnap me tomorrow, remember?” she asked as a plan started to form in her brain. 

Keefe seemed to realize what she was thinking because he asked,” You really think the Neverseen is behind this?”

“They are our best bet right now,” Sophie shrugged.

“Alright, when should we corner him tomorrow,” Keefe asked. “You didn’t really think I would let you face him alone, did you?” he asked when Sophie raised an eyebrow.

“Wait,” Sophie said as she realized something. “Who would we even give him to, if we do capture him?” 

“Do you think we should tell the Forklenator?” Keefe asked. “And maybe remind him to rhyme all future notes and clues?”

Sophie shook her head, ignoring the last part of what he said. “I mean, we can’t just hand him over to the Council right now, can we? Though I guess Mo-I mean Oralie- could be convinced.”

“Let’s capture Gethen first before we start to worry,” he said. “Anyways, I have to go now before the Vackers start to worry.”

Sophie nodded, then hugged him one last time.

“Stay safe,” she murmured.

“I will if you will.”

“Deal.”

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Sophie crept outside of her house the next day quietly, careful not to attract Mr.Forkle's attention. She had a bag slung across her shoulder with everything she wanted to keep. She had a feeling this was the last time she would come to this home.

         Her mouth went dry when she saw her neighbor rearranging gnomes in his backyard. Sophie wondered which Forkle Twin he was. Was he the one who died? She watched as he got up and went inside his house. 

       Sophie had to blink back tears. Mr.Forkle would have been safe and happy back in the Lost Cities if he wasn't protecting her. Guilt started to cloud her vision. Suddenly a crystal blue breeze blew, blowing away her troubles and clearing her mind. She realized Keefe was holding her hand.

          "You're not going to break your mind on my watch," he said softly wrapping an arm around her.

            "Thanks," she said softly her eyes still fixed on the spot where Mr.Forkle was sitting a minute before.

           "It's not your fault," Keefe said. "You know that right? You're amazing and it's your loss you don't seem to realize that. Just because you're the 'moonlark' doesn't mean you can't make mistakes."

          Sophie let out a breath. "You're an amazing friend, you know that?" she asked grinning, turning to face him.

          Keefe laughed running his hand through his hair. "Now come on-" he said taking her hand and pulling her onto the street. "Let's go kick some Neverseen butt!"

           Both elves had been walking for a few minutes when they heard barking. Sophie gasped and pulled Keefe behind a dumpster.

           Gethen was carrying a dog when he tried to kidnap me last time, Sophie transmitted to Keefe.

         Are you going to inflict on him? Keefe thought.

        Sophie chewed her bottom lip. It's better to keep it a secret and save it for when they are all here so we can take them by surprise.

         What if he remembers? Keefe craned his neck to try to see if Gethen was approaching.

       Then we fight with everything we've got. Sophie jerked up when they heard footsteps coming toward them.

        Sophie threw a rock at a dead end. Gethen was struggling to hold the dog and whipped his head in that direction. This gave the dog a chance to leap out of his arms and run away. Gethen cursed, and turned and made his way to the dead-end to see what caused the noise.

          Sophie took Keefe's hand and both of them quietly crept behind Gethen. Once he was far enough into the dead-end that he couldn't run away and escape, Keefe tackled him from behind. Gethen, took by surprise, landed face-first on the floor, with Keefe on top of him. 

              Sophie entered his mind and tried to confuse him so he won't be able to transmit for help. Sophie also took this chance to grab Gethen's light crystal from his pocket so he couldn't light leap away.

           Gethen thrashed, trying to get Keefe off of him. Keefe had clamped his hand on top of Gethen's mouth so he could not yell for help. But Sophie soon realized that Gethen was too well trained for Keefe and Sophie to take him out without inflicting.

          "I don't know how much longer I can hold him!" cried Keefe.

        "Keefe!" Sophie cried. "Get behind me."

             Keefe wisely got out of Sophie's way quickly realizing what she was about to do. He kept Gethen pinned to the ground using telekinesis. Sweat was pouring down his face from the effort.

          Sophie brought out all the anger and hate she felt toward the Neverseen. When they kidnapped and tortured Dex and her. When Vespera burned Biana. When Brant fought with Grady. When Dimitar sparred with Keefe. When Gisela held Tam hostage. She directed all her troubles and frustration toward Gethen and let loose.

          Gethen made a gasping sound, like a fish out of water. His face was twisted in agony. He then fell limp, unconscious.

         Sophie let out a breath before collapsing herself. Keefe luckily caught her before she hit the ground.

        "Are you alright?" he asked cradling her softly.

       Sophie nodded, leaning on him. "Yeah, just wiped out."

      "What are we going to do with him?" Keefe asked, his eyes studying Gethen.

       Sophie pulled away from Keefe and walked over to Gethen.

        "I should search his mind to see if there are any clues as to why we were transported back in time." Sophie decided, reaching for his temples.

         "Wait!" Keefe cried, grabbing her hand. "What if he tries to trap you in there as Fintan tried? Fitz isn't here this time to pull you out. I know the Great Fos-Boss is strong, but...you could get hurt."

        Sophie paused considering this.

         "I was able to last in Finitan's mind a few minutes without getting hurt. You could tug on my hand after a while so I know to start making my way back."

         Keefe still looked worried. His eyebrows were pulled together and his mouth formed a small pout making him look cuter....wait, what was she thinking? Sophie shook her head, hoping Keefe hadn't felt her mood change. She would be in for countless hours of teasing.

        "I'll be alright," she said squeezing his hand. She then bent down and put her fingers to Gethen's temples entering a complicated maze.

         Sophie had seen something similar to this in Finitian's head, but this was way more overwhelming. Sophie figured that was because Gethen was a telepath.

        Sophie did her best to navigate through his mind, but it was impossible to tell important memories apart from random ones. Sophie figured Gethen did that to confuse people and make it hard for them to find the information they needed.

       Sophie felt like she had been there for hours, but she didn't feel Keefe signaling her to come out so she kept searching. Most of them were plans for the future that Sophie already knew happened in her dimension.

         Sophie was about to give up and leave when she got a glimpse of Lady Gisela's face. Anger flooded through Sophie at the sight of her. She would definitely win the Worst Mother of the Year award. But Sophie was intrigued in this memory because Lady Gisela always had her hood up in other memories

       Sophie felt herself being pulled in.

         "My son has a big part to play. Just you wait and see." Gisela was telling the other neverseen members. 

           Sophie gasped as she realized they were standing in Keefe's bedroom in Candleshade. She saw that the younger version of Keefe was sleeping while sucking his finger. Sophie assumed this meant that this was the night that Gisela had taken him to Nightfall and made him open the gate with his blood. 

         Sophie had to remind herself that this was just a memory so she wouldn't tackle Gisela. 

        "His legacy will fulfill our mission. He was born to bring an end to the current Elvin ways. He can't avoid his legacy no matter what. I promise you, we will have all the councilors by their throats with him!" This caused the other Neverseen members to cheer. Sophie felt sick. She suddenly felt a warm hand pulling. She pulled back from Gethen's mind.

        "Foster?" Keefe asked when she moved away from Gethen with her hands on her head. Sophie couldn't respond, everything was going blurry around her. "Sophie?!" Keefe asked, now panicked, shaking her shoulders. Sophie groaned as her eyes rolled up and memories started flooding back to her.

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Sophie was running. Fleeing. From the place the smoke was rising far behind her. Tears were running down her face and she choked back sobs. Her body was sore, covered with bruises and scrapes from fighting. But she kept pushing her self to run, channeling her remaining energy into her legs.

         She had to get to the Black Swan Hideout before the Neverseen caught her. Her eyes scanned the area, looking for a clue to where the hideout may be. Her heart thumped in her chest as she heard footsteps behind her. 

           She stumbled back, leaning on a tree. But when she stepped on one of the roots, the ground under her feet opened up and swallowed her whole. Sophie bit her lips so hard trying not to scream, blood started pouring down her chin. The slide finally came to an end after a few minutes. Sophie found Mr.Forkle waiting for her below.

        "They're gone," Sophie sobbed. "Gone. Dead."

         "No..."Mr. Forkle's eyes widened.

        "They said they will kill my parents if I escape," choked Sophie. "They have the Councillors by the throat."

       Mr. Forkle's face paled.

      Both of them jerked their head toward the slide when they heard a thump. Fitz and Keefe slid down with their faces twisted in agony.

      "They have the place surrounded!" Keefe cried.

       "It's not long before they find the way in..." muttered Fitz.

      "Your sister--" Sophie asked Fitz, looking around in panic. "Where is she?"

       Fitz looked away and Keefe had to choke back tears.

      "No...No...NO!" cried Sophie backing away.

       "We can still hold out for a few minutes..." mumbled Mr.Forkle running his hand against the wall.

       "What's the use?!" cried Fitz. "The Neverseen have all our family, friends, and leaders! We might as well surrender now and live to fight another day!"

         "We are too deep in to surrender now," Mr. Forkle said quietly. He got out two small vials filled with liquid. "This was a last resort, one I was hoping things didn't have to come down to." Mr. Forkle set them down on a table in front of Sophie. "These let you travel back in time. I have set it to bring you to the time before you were discovered by the Neverseen."

         "Before I found her in the museum," Fitz said quietly.

        Mr.Forkle nodded."You will have 150 days to fix our mistakes and make it back to a certain place to get transported back to the present."

      "What is the place?" Sophie asked.

      "That--" Mr.Forkle sighed. "Is the problem. We don't know."

       Sophie looked at him. "But we can stay in the other dimension though, right?"

       Mr. Forkle shook his head. "If you don't make it back in 150 days," he took a deep breath as if the next part was the most horrible incident to ever occur. "A time warp will take place. It will destroy all known life."

      Sophie gasped. "Is that really worth the risk?"

      "If you don't, the Neverseen will wipe out the human race and destroy all Elvin ways. Animals will go rabid and plant life will no longer exist."

      Sophie took a shaky breath. "I'll do it."

       "You can take one person with you," Mr. Forkle added gesturing to the two vials. "I suggest you don't choose me, though. Someone you can trust with your life and you feel comfortable working with will help you better."

        Sophie glanced at the two boys next to her. Fitz was looking up at her with teal eyes full of confidence like he already knew Sophie was going to pick him. We can do it. He transmitted, reaching out and squeezing her hand. But Sophie wasn't so sure. Her eyes kept wandering to the blonde boy next to him.

       If Sophie trusted anyone that much, it was Keefe. While Fitz had turned his back to her when she needed him most, Keefe had been the one to help her get through it. He had always been the person to make her laugh and feel joy. She could share anything with him without worrying about him judging her. He was always there to let her lean on him when she needed him.

       Sure, he had joined the Neverseen. But it was with the hopes of helping her and her friends. Even if he was reckless sometimes, Sophie didn't know anyone with a bigger heart than him.

       "Keefe," she said softly, making up her mind. Keefe jerked his head up in surprise. Fitz dropped her hand in shock. Fitz backed away from her like she was insane.

"But we're cognates!" Fitz protested.

"No time to argue!" yelled Mr. Forkle as they heard a loud crack above. He pushed the vials into Sophie and Keefe's hands. "Drink!"

The liquid had barely made it down Sophie's throat when a loud explosion turned the world black. 

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"Sophie?"

          Sophie woke up to find a pair of concerned ice-blue eyes staring at her.

          "You're alright!" Keefe cried, wrapping her in a bone-crushing hug. "Sorry," he added sheepishly, letting her go when Sophie gasped for air. "Don't ever do that again, Foster!" he cried. "I was this close to abandoning Gethen and leaping you to Elwin!"

           "Sorry," Sophie said sheepishly.

           Keefe shook his head. "I can't believe how many times you almost die. And your questioning why we call it Fostering it!"

         "I'm fine, Keefe," she said gently. "I just found the right trigger in Gethen's brain and got my memories back."

          Keefe's face paled as she explained what happened. He clutched his head as she finished recounting.

         "I remember..." he said softly. His eyes refused to meet hers' as he said," You made a mistake by picking me, Foster."

         "What are you talking about?" Sophie asked puzzled.

         "You should have picked Fitzy. He's the golden boy, remember? I'll be more trouble than help. You've said it yourself before, I'm reckless. How many times have I made us fall into my mother's traps?"

         "Mr.Forkle told me to pick the person I trust most," Sophie said grabbing his hands forcing him to look at her. "Not a perfect person. And for the record, Fitz isn't perfect. There is no one else I would trust my life with. I know in the end, you will make the right decision. But it's your choice if you want to help or not. Just know that I will be rooting for Team Foster-Keefe till the very end."

          That finally got a smile out of him. "You're right," he said grinning. "And don't think I'll forget you admitting Team Foster-Keefe is the best!"

       "Hey!" Sophie laughed. "I never said the best!"

       "Uh-uh," Keefe smirked. "Fitzy is going to be sooo jealous."

         "Speaking of him," Sophie glanced at her watch. "We better get going. We don't want to worry the Vackers."

          "Wait, what are we going to do with him?" Keefe asked, glancing at Gethen.

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          "Are you done yet?" Sophie called glancing behind her at Keefe. She was lifting Gethen using telekinesis and keeping a watch out for any passerby.

         "Almost!" Keefe called back, looking up from the paper he was writing on.

         Sophie rolled her eyes. "For the last time, Keefe!" she groaned. "You. Don't. Have. To. Make. It. Rhyme!"

        "But then I'll be violating the rules of Stupid Notes The Black Swan Forces Us To Follow That Are Absolutely No Good!"

      "When have you ever followed rules?" snorted Sophie.

       "Done!" Keefe cried triumphantly. Sophie glanced over to see what Keefe wrote.

                                            This telepath is working against you,

                                      Search him to learn more about the group.

                                             Don't forget to tell us when you do,

                                       If you don't, we'll pelt you with sparkly poo!

                                                                                                              Love,

                                                                    The Moonlark & Lord Hunkyhair

         The remainder of Silveny brought tears to Sophie's eyes. Keefe must have been thinking the same thing because he reached over and squeezed Sophie's hand.

          "We will find her, Foster," he said reassuringly. Then he smirked. "After all, no one can resist the Keefster!"

          "True..." said Sophie without thinking. Her cheeks flushed when she realized what she just admitted. Keefe's smirk seemed to widen even more.

         "Not a word," she threatened when he opened his mouth to tease her. She then turned her back on him so he couldn't see the smile starting to spread across her face.

         Sophie quietly started to lead the way to Mr.Forkle's backyard. Once she was sure he wasn't watching, she set Gethen on the grass slowly using telekinesis.

        Keefe dropped the note on top of Gethen before grabbing Sophie's hand and light leaping to Everglen.

        They landed outside Everglen startling many people. Sophie gasped when she realized they were all councilors. 

        "Keefe Sencen!" Bronte boomed, taking a step toward them. "What were you thinking disappearing like that?!"

"Wait!" Sophie cried, stepping in front of Keefe. "It's not his fault! I can explain!"

Bronte's face turned distasteful when he turned to Sophie.

"So I am guessing you're the experiment the waste of the group was working on? What could possibly be your excuse to going off the grids on a mission that was against the law?!"

Sophie opened her mouth when Bronte cut her off.

"Wait-" he said turning to Oralie. "Make sure the girl doesn't lie."

Sophie's eyes widened when Oralie stepped towards her. Please cover for me. Sophie transmitted to Oralie with pleading eyes.

Oralie luckily didn't flinch. Rules are rules. She thought, even though Sophie could see from her current thoughts that she wanted to help.

I know you are my biological mother. Sophie transmitted, staring into her eyes.

Oralie let out a silent gasp.

"Is something wrong?" Councillor Kenric asked Oralie, concerned. Sophie had to stop herself from running over and hugging him. She never thought she would see him again.

"No-no," stammered Oralie. "Her emotions are just much stronger than anyone else I've ever met." I'll do it, she thought in her head.

Sophie sent her a silent thank you.

"I wanted to say goodbye to my parents one last time," she said staring straight at Bronte. She tried to look heartbroken, which wasn't hard as leaving them for the second time was no easier than the first. "I know they are not my genetic parents, and I wanted to make sure I took everything important with me."

"How come Mr.Sencen was allowed in your house?" He asked his eyes glinting as if there was no way Sophie could answer that one.

"I told my parents, he was one of my classmates," Sophie said, shrugging.

"But Lord Vacker said he couldn't find you in your when he went to check on you!" Bronte boomed.

"I also went to school to just tell my classmates how I enjoyed working with them as a goodbye," replied Sophie innocently. It was quite humorous as Bronte tried to stump her with his firing questions.

"Are you sure she is telling the truth, Oralie?" Bronte finally asked after interrogating Sophie for a few more minutes.

Oralie nodded her head confidently. "I'm positive."

"There is still something off!" Bronte declared. Sophie was happy to note the other Councillors seemed to have started to think Bronte was just being his usual negative self.

"She answered all your questions," Kenric said. "I say we give her a chance to prove herself." Other Councillors started to nod their head in agreement.

"You can't possibly be thinking of sending her to Foxfire!" Bronte cried.

"Why not? She is just as fitting for the spot as other students," Terik argued.

"I bet she doesn't even know the basic skills!" Bronte harrumphed.

Sophie replied by lifting all twelve councilors off the ground using telekinesis. She then spun Bronte around like a top and made him do cartwheels in the air. Bronte was not amused.

"You go, Foster!" Keefe cried punching his fists in the air. Sophie thanked his enthusiasm by using telekinesis to gather a pile of leaves and dropping it on Keefe's head.

"No, not The Hair!" Keefe cried. "You have declared war, Foster!"

While being distracted by Keefe, Sophie accidentally dropped Bronte.

"How dare you disrespect me like that!" Bronte yelled when Sophie finally put the rest Councillors gently on the ground.

Sophie could hear Keefe snickering beside her. All the Councilors except Bronte seemed very impressed and politely clapped for her.

"You are clapping, while she dropped me on the ground like a sack of wastes?!" hollered Bronte. He tried to get up, but being very dizzy from Sophie spinning him, he slipped and fell into a pool nearby.

Keefe lost it and doubled over in laughter. Zarina and Liora rushed to help Bronte. Kenric, Terik, and Oralie were chuckling. And the rest of the Councillors had to restrain themselves from joining in. Sophie gulped. She had just confirmed becoming Bronte's enemy.

"I speak for the rest of us--" started Kenric.

"Most of us," corrected Terik glancing at the wet but furious Bronte.

"--When I say it would be our pleasure for you to attend Foxfire, Sophie Foster," finished Kenric.

"I would be honored to," Sophie said smiling gratefully.

"Great," Terik smiled. "Classes will start in two days."

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"Thank god you're alright!" Alden cried throwing his arms around Keefe as both of them entered Everglen's gates. Keefe, surprised by the embrace, froze. Sophie smiled at him sadly knowing his own father would have never shown any warmth towards him.

"I'm sorry," Keefe whispered. Sophie realized how much it would have hurt to lie to the man who had acted as a father to him when his own neglected him.

"You don't know how worried I was," Alden said shaking his head, finally pulling back from Keefe to look him in the eye. "After I couldn't find you at Sophie's house, I panicked and reported you missing to the council. I never should have let you go alone."

"Keefe!" came a cry from the mansion. Biana and Fitz came running toward them.

"Hi," Fitz added with a movie star-worthy smile when he noticed Sophie. Sophie smiled politely back. Biana completely ignored her. 

Alden, just now realizing that Sophie was standing next to Keefe, immediately straightened his back and gave Sophie an apologetic smile.

"You must forgive me for my manners," he said. "I'm Alden, this is my son Fitz," he said gesturing to Fitz," and my daughter Biana."

"Nice to meet you," Sophie said politely. Then she turned to Alden to address the issue she had been worried about.

"My parents-" she started.

"Oh yes," Alden said smiling sadly. "We need to have a talk about them."

Sophie shook her head.

"No, I already know they aren't my genetic parents," she told him. "I've known for a while. And I know living with them will only bring more trouble for both of us. But instead of making them think I'm dead, isn't there a way to make them forget me?"

Alden's eyebrows had raised to the top of his head while she talked. She gulped. It was hard enough erasing herself the first time...she wondered if it would be better for them to remember her. She shook her head to snap herself out of her thoughts. It was safer to make them forget.

Keefe must have known what she was going through because he reached over and entangled their fingers and sent her calming breezes.

Sophie could feel Biana's glare even while trying to hide behind her hair. Of course, how could Sophie forget about Biana's enormous crush on Keefe? But what was strange was Fitz also seemed to be unhappy with Keefe. That puzzled her. Before she could think more about it, Alden finally made up his mind.

"You are smart for a girl of your age," he told her, smiling sadly. "Yes, it could be done. I will send a group tonight to wipe their memories clean."

Sophie's voice didn't seem to work, so she just nodded.

"So how did the talk with the Councilors go?" Alden asked, breaking the silence.

"Foster managed to get on Bronte's bad side in a few seconds!" laughed Keefe.

"Hey!" Sophie protested. "It wasn't my fault he's always grumpy. And besides, I saved you from getting yelled at!"

"Whatever, Foster," Keefe said grinning. "It totally wasn't your fault you dropped Bronte from 7 feet in the air!"

"You were distracting me!"

"You started it!"

"You are an embodiment of a 6-year-old!"

"I'm offended, Foster! I'm more like 5! "

Sophie groaned.

"And don't think I'm letting you off the hook for messing up my hair!"

"It looks the same!" Sophie protested. "You look the same!"

"Are you trying to imply that I'm hot, Foster?" Keefe asked, smirking.

"What-no..no--I mean..Of COURSE NOT!" Sophie's cheeks were blazing and she was furious at herself for stumbling.

"Really?" Keefe asked his smirk growing wider. "'Cause your emotions say otherwise!" He tugged on her hand reminding her they were still holding hands.

Sophie pulled her hand free and gave him her best death glare, hoping her cheeks weren't as red as she thought.

"Did I tell you you're cute when you're angry, Foster?" Keefe said, wiggling his eyebrows.

To push her embarrassment to the limit, Alden found then the right time to clear his throat to remind them they had an audience.

Sophie wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Especially when she realized Della had joined them while Keefe and Sophie were arguing and was now giving them the smile every teenager despises.

To make matters even worse, if that was possible, Biana was glowing with red hot anger. Fitz also seemed quite annoyed. Sophie figured that was because they were wasting time. Why else would he be angry?

"We should show you where you're sleeping tonight," Della said finally breaking the awkward tension. "Keefe, do you want to stay today as well, or are you planning to go home?"

Of course! How could Sophie forget that Keefe had to go home every day and act casual around a murder! All her annoyment at Keefe from a minute later evaporated as Keefe told Della he wanted to stay. As everyone turned back to enter the mansion, Sophie grabbed Keef's hand to remind him that he wasn't alone. She was glad when he squeezed her hand and allowed her to help him get through this.

As Sophie looked out the window of her bedroom to see the sunset, Sophie was reminded that they had used up 2 of the 150 days provided by Mr.Forkle. They needed to gain more progress tomorrow. Just as she was about to drift off to sleep, Sophie heard a scream downstairs.

Biana was lying on the floor unconscious,  covered in blood. Keefe was standing nearby, his face pale. Della came running in sobbing and took Biana in her hands. Alden was hailing Elwin and telling him to come quick. Fitz turned his hands into fists, looking like he wanted to punch something.

But when Sophie locked eyes with Keefe, she knew they hadn't come for Biana. They had come for Sophie. The Moonlark. They had a traitor in the bunch.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Are you sure you didn't tell anyone that I'm staying in Everglen?" asked Sophie, directing the question to Alden. It was midnight and the Vackers, Keefe, and Sophie were waiting outside the healing center.

"I'm positive, Sophie," Alden said rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"What about close friends or family members?" Sophie pressed.

Alden shook his head. "No one knows."

Keefe seemed to realize what Sophie was thinking, as he discreetly tapped a finger to his forehead signalling her to transmit to him.

Do you think Alvar was behind this? Sophie transmitted

If he was, don't you think he would stop them from hurting Biana? She is after all his sister.

Maybe he wasn't part of the group sent to hurt me. They could have always messed up on the orders.

But they must have realized that Biana wasn't the person they wanted, to leave her behind, right?

Sophie mulled over this as Elwin opened the door to the healing center. Everyone gathered around him waiting anxiously. Elwin rubbed his face as he faced them with tired eyes.

"It looks like someone injected a large amount of limbium into Biana," he said quietly. "She will survive, but it's going to take a while for her to be back on her feet."

Sophie swayed her hand to her head, trying to digest the information. Keefe rushed over, putting an arm around her and letting her lean on him.

Sophie felt like she was going to be sick. Only selected members of the Black Swan knew her deadly allergy to limbium.  This meant that whoever betrayed the Black Swan to help the Neverseen had a lot of information about her and knew Sophie better than herself.

Even Keefe's calming breezes didn't manage to soothe her. She was thankful for Keefe for staying with her. She was afraid if she was left alone she would do something reckless.

It was hard to sit still and spend out the night when she knew her friend got hurt because of her. Keefe led her to a cot and made her lie down.

"It's going to do you no good, beating yourself up like that," he said quietly. "None of us saw it coming."

Sophie tried to get up, but Keefe pushed her down.

"Rest," he told her. "I won't let anything happen to you."

Sophie wanted to protest. But her heavy eyelids closed plunging her into a world full of darkness and hate.

She felt herself getting pulled down, down, down. Monsters grabbed and growled at her. She felt ghosts of her family and friends haunting her, blaming her for being the end of them.

"I wish I never made you!" Mr.Forkle growled.

"All you brought was trouble!" Edaline and Grady yelled.

"We would have been happy without you!" her human parents sobbed.

And lastly the most heartbreaking one was a ghost of Keefe. He seemed more grown-up, and all the warmth had been sucked out of his eyes. His teasing smirk had been turned into a scowl. And all his hatred was directed at her.

"You are my enemy!" Keefe growled. "You are my nemesis. We are heirs of two different groups that are meant to oppose each other!" He then unsheathed a sword and swung it at Sophie.

Sophie bolted straight up in her bed, tears rolling down her face. She glanced to her right, where the peaceful blonde boy was sleeping in a chair next to her bed to help her get through the night.

Sophie took a blanket and used it to gently cover him. She went back to bed knowing she needed energy for tomorrow. But she was afraid to close her eyes, scared that the monster will return.

So Sophie reached out her consciousness looking for the one friend that always made her feel better. Silveny's mind was harder to reach than she remembered, probably because Silveny didn't trust her yet. Sophie could feel Silveny trying to push her out of the alicorn's mind. Sophie sent her images of Sophie caring for Silveny, and happy memories they had together. Her heart leaped when Silveny transmitted back one word.

FRIEND?  Silveny transmitted.

Yes! I'm Sophie. Your friend!

FRIEND! SOPHIE! FRIEND! Silveny transmitted happily. Then she added one word Sophie hadn't taught her yet. HELP? HELP SOPHIE?

Yeah. I can't sleep...

HELP FRIEND! Silveny said worried.

Before Sophie could ask what Silveny was about to do, happy scenes started to cloud her head. It was filled with her and Silveny playing and flying across the sky. Flying above the troubles. Sometimes dark clouds got in the way, but no matter how many times they got pushed down, they kept getting back up and continuing their journey.

When Sophie's eyes fluttered open the next day, she saw sunshine streaming through the window. She got up and stretched, ready to face the challenges that life threw at her.       

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  "Verdi!" Sophie cried, coughing on feathers. Alden had brought her to Havenfield to meet Edaline and Grady today. Keefe had insisted on tagging along because, well, Keefe was Keefe. Verdi had slipped out of Grady's control and had crashed into Sophie. As a result, Sophie was covered in feathers from head to toe, looking like Big Bird from Sesame Street.

Keefe was laughing his head off near her, not having a single feather on him.

"Oh god," he wheezed, clutching his stomach. "That was hilarious!"

Sophie shot him a death glare. But it was hard to look threatening when you were covered with bright feathers.

"Aww," Keefe smirked. "Don't worry Foster, I still think you're cute."

Sophie's cheeks grew hot, and for the first time, Sophie was glad the feathers hid her face.

"Shut up!" she muttered.

Keefe doubled over laughing again when Sophie tried to hit him, but slipped on the feathers and landed hard on her bottom.

Sophie gathered a few feathers from the ground and threw it at Keefe's head, determined to see if he still thought it was funny when he was the one covered in feathers.

Keefe laughed, dodging Sophie's poor throws. Sophie couldn't stop herself from grinning as she chased Keefe through Havenfield's pastures.

"Sorry, Verdi isn't usually like that," Grady said trying to hide a laugh when Sophie and Keefe had finally calmed down and came to a stop.

"Don't worry," Alden told Sophie. "I'm sure Biana has something you can change into." He managed to crack a smile but he looked terrible. There were huge bags under his eyes from staying up to look after Biana the entire night. He hadn't even changed out of his old clothes. Elwin had to force Alden to eat breakfast. Della and Fitz weren't much better, refusing to leave Biana's side.

Sophie was distracted from her thoughts when a wondrous scent filled the area. She whipped her head toward the direction of the scent. Her face broke into a wide grin when she saw Edaline coming toward them with a plate of the snack Sophie would pay millions to eat.

"Mallowmelt!" she cried happily. When Alden and Grady gave her a curious look, she realized she wasn't supposed to know what that is yet. "I mean I'm guessing that's what that is based on what Keefe told me," she stuttered trying to correct herself.

Keefe saved her from embarrassing herself more by handing her a Mallowmelt. She was surprised to find that Mallowmelt tasted even better than the first time she tried it.

"Here," Edaline handed her a fancy red dress after everyone was done eating. "Why don't you go change upstairs? I'll take you to Slurps & Burps to find everything you need."

Sophie realized the dress must have once belonged to Jolie, the late daughter of Grady and Edaline. "Are you sure?" Sophie asked gently.

Edaline teared up a bit, and Grady moved to put a reassuring arm around her. "Yes," she said regaining her composure. "I think it's well time we started to move on."

Sophie walked into her room to get hit by a whirlwind of memories. She walked around, realizing how much she had missed this room. But the room didn't look the same without Keefe's paintings. And Sophie hated to say it, but she kind of missed having Vertina around to insult her and boss her around. However stuck up the mirror may be, Sophie knew she had a good heart.

Sophie heard several gasps as she walked downstairs after changing. Sophie had her hair pulled back into a ponytail, and a little gold eyeshadow to compliment the gold specks in her eyes. She didn't bother with the blush as she knew her face was a tomato most of the time, anyway.

Edaline had a hand over her mouth, and Grady had frozen. Sophie tried not to look too much into the fact that Keefe was staring at her with his mouth hung open. Alden looked at her with a tired smile.

"You look so much like Jollie," Edaline finally made out. Grady and she had tears in their eyes. Happy or sad, Sophie couldn't tell.

Keefe must have finally realized he was staring because he cleared his throat and looked away with a slight blush on his cheeks.

Sophie hoped Keefe couldn't feel the slight change in her emotions from where he was standing. 

"Alright, I think it's time we go now Keefe," Alden said putting an arm around his shoulders.

Keefe looked at Sophie uncertainly, like he didn't want to leave her alone.

"I'll be fine," Sophie assured Keefe.

Besides, Sophie transmitted to Keefe. This way we can cover more ground and find clues about who the traitor may be.

Keefe hesitated before nodding.

Promise you won't get into trouble without me?

Sophie grinned. How could I even think of trouble without the King of Pranksters?

True, Lord Hunkyhair is amazing. Just remember to remind Dex that I'm still president of the Foster Fan Club!

Sophie groaned. She had forgotten about Dex's crush on her. She hoped it would be different this time.

No promises. She transmitted as Edaline and her joined hands to re-meet her best friend.       

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 Sophie heard sobbing as she and Edaline leaped to Slurps and Burps. She turned her head to the source of the noise to find her ex-rival and frenemy Stina with her face in her hands. The woman beside her, which Sophie remembered to be her mother looked furious. Both of them looked like they were headed to Slurps and Burps as well. 

         Sophie felt a tang of guilt as she was reminded of Stina telling Sophie that the reason Stina hated her was that Sophie had laughed at Stina and sided with Dex before even getting to know Stina. As much as Sophie liked her best friend, Sophie knew what the right thing to do now was.

"You go ahead," Sophie told Edaline.

Edaline glanced at the Heks uncertainly. "Are you sure? The Hecks can be a bit...intimidating."

"I'm sure," Sophie decided. "I'll be right behind you."

Edaline nodded and headed to Slurps and Burps.

"Hey," Sophie said softly as she neared Stina and her mom. "Are you alright?"

Stina's mother scoffed, while Stina sniffed. "It's all because of those wretched Dizznees!" cried Stina. "Their stupid potion ruined all my hair!" Sophie then realized Stina was covering all her hair.

"Er, why?" Sophie asked. "I mean, he probably didn't do it for no reason."

Stina looked at Sophie for the first time. She gasped.

"You're the experiment the Council was talking about!" Stina exclaimed.

Stina's mother stiffened. "Of course. I should have known with the freaky brown eyes."

Sophie sighed. She should have known that some people can never be changed. So she was taken by surprise when Stina tilted her head and said, "I think they are quite beautiful. It's good to stand out from all the others. Honestly, blue is getting a bit old."

Sophie stared at Stina like she was a whole new person. Was that just because she had never really known the real girl under all the makeup?

"Oh! Are you coming to Foxfire!" Stina asked excitedly. "You should come hang out with me and my friends!"

Sophie stuttered, "Er, sure, I guess...". Sophie couldn't believe her ears. Who is this whole new person? Sophie felt worse than ever before for her old mistakes.

Then suddenly, Sophie got a glimpse of someone rushing out of Slurps and Burps. He had his face hidden behind a few bottles of elixirs he was carrying. He was in such a hurry that he didn't look where he was going and bumped into Sophie.

"Sorry," he said hurriedly. His eyebrows rose when his eyes locked with hers. He had a familiar roundish face that Sophie couldn't pinpoint where she had seen before. He walked away before she could question him.

"Huh," Stina said watching him leave. "I wouldn't have expected Brad Babblos to visit this crap of a place. Though it would explain why people barley see him nowadays. He used to be really popular before he graduated from Foxfire."

That caught Sophie's attention. "Wait, isn't Brad Jensi's brother? And you say he is gone a lot?"

"Yeah. He comes in handy for the council. There aren't many known Phasers you know," Stina said. "Wait, how do you know Jensi?"

"Er, I've heard of him," Sophie mumbled.

"Oh, well don't waste your time with him," huffed Stina. "He's nothing like his brother."

Sophie stared at her. Some things never change.

 But then she realized something else that made her eyes widen.

"Stina, we should go now," huffed her mother impatiently.

"Oh right," said Stina. "I have to get that idiot to make me a counter potion. Were you not headed that way?"

"Um, yeah," Sophie said distractedly as puzzle pieces started to fit together in her brain. "I'll be right behind you."

Everything blurred around her as she remembered Blur's familiar roundish face. No wonder it was so familiar.

She could hear Stina and her mom returning from Slurps and Burps in a huff as she closed her eyes and transmitted to Keefe.

I think we've got ourselves our first suspect.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sophie was barely listening to Dex as he rambled on excitedly about how he always wanted to know how it felt to be human. Sophie loved her best friend...but he can be a bit talkative at times. Although in his defense, Sophie just couldn't get her mind to focus on anything but Brad Babblos. She closed her eyes and tried to find any more clues Blur might have dropped during her time with the Black Swan.

The evidence she kept coming back to was when Blur accompanied Sophie and Keefe to Ravagog. Water had made part of his disguise near his face disappear. Sophie was positive he was a replica of Jensi.

Keefe hadn't seemed to know any more than Sophie when she tried to transmit to him. But he had promised to try to ask the Vackers and look for clues.

Sophie was itching to do something useful. Time was running out after all. They had almost used up 3 days.

"Soophieee!" drawled out Dex waving a hand in front of her face. "You still there?"

"Sorry," mumbled Sophie rubbing her eyes and sitting up straight. "I am just...nervous for Foxfire." It wasn't totally a lie. She really was nervous to go to Foxfire, especially because Fitz would be there.

Fitz wasn't exactly the nicest towards Sophie when Alden's mind broke. She had a feeling that if Fitz figured out that the Neverseen were at Everglen to hurt Sophie, he would go all out, rage monster again. Sophie shuddered. She was again happy that she didn't choose Fitz to come with her to the past.

"Hey it's alright," Dex said snapping Sophie from her thoughts. "It will be confusing at first, but you'll get a hang of it. Besides, you've got me to help you."

"Thanks," she said grinning at Dex. Sometimes she forgot how much she missed Dex.

"Of course," he said. Then he started fidgeting with his sleeve. "And...um... you could sit with me during lunch. But if you don't want to--"

"Of Course I'll sit with you!" Sophie exclaimed interrupting him.

"Really?" He blushed. "That's great! And um...I was wondering..."

Warning bells started ringing in Sophie's brain. NOT AGAIN!! Her brain screamed. It would break her heart to reject Dex again. Sophie suddenly clutched her head when she realized she wasn't the only one screaming in her head.

"Sophie?" Dex asked suddenly very worried. "Are you alright?"

Sophie gasped and jumped to her feet when Silveny transmitted again loudly in her head.

HELP! FRIEND HELP! Silveny begged.

Sophie ran outside of Slurps and Burps, leaving a very worried Kesler, Edaline and Dex behind.

What happened  Silveny?! Where are you?

LEG HURT! PAIN!

Can you make it here? Sophie transmitted panicking, sending Silveny the image of Slurps and Burps.

WILL TRY Silveny transmitted weakly.

Sophie gasped as a void opened up in the sky, and Silveny came flying through crashing at Sophie's feet in pain. Sophie choked back sobs and ran over to Silveny.

Tell Elwin to come to Slurps and Burps! Silveny is hurt! Sophie transmitted to Keefe. She cut off the connection before he could reply so that Sophie could tend to Silveny.

Sophie heard several gasps behind her as the Dizznees and Edaline came running toward Sophie at the sight of Silveny.

"It's beautiful!" breathed Kesler.

"She's hurt!" Sophie exclaimed. "Do you have anything that can help?"

Kesler came back with an elixir.

"This won't heal her," Kesler warned as he dropped a few drops into Silveny's mouth. "But it should numb the pain."

"I'll hail Elwin," Edaline said, bringing out her imparter.

Right on cue, Elwin and Keefe leaped outside of Slurps and Burps.

Edaline's mouth hung open. "How?"

"Foster transmitted to me," Keefe said as he and Elwin rushed to Silveny.

"Hey Glitterbutt," Keefe said gently, petting Silveny, trying to keep her calm as Elwin attended to her wounded leg. "You're safe now."

Sophie couldn't even look at Silveny's leg as Elwin bandaged it. There was a bad cut, and you could see the bones in some parts. She put her face in her hands and she could feel Keefe pulling her closer, letting her lean on him. She buried her face in his chest. 

Clear blue breezes cleared her head. "She's going to be alright," Keefe whispered. 

Sophie really hoped so. But she couldn't help but panic when Elwin turned to face the rest of them with a sour expression on his face.

Elwin sighed, running his hands down his face. "I'm afraid Silveny's going to have to lose her leg."        

"No...no..NO!" Sophie cried stumbling back from Elwin. Keefe tightened his grip on Sophie, Sophie didn't resist knowing she needed all the help she can get. "There has to be another way!"

"She will die from blood loss and infection if we don't amputate her leg," Elwin said defeatedly flashings different orbs of light on Silveny.

"But Silveny won't be Silveny without it!" Tears came to Sophie's eyes as memories of Silveny galloping and running free on fields. Sophie wasn't even sure if Silveny will be able to stand anymore.

"The burn is too deep," Elwin murmured. 

Keefe squeezed her hand sending calming breezes. But Sophie couldn't be calm. Not when Silveny had to lose her leg.

"I need to check her memories," Sophie decided, reaching for Silveny.

Sophie gasped at the chaos in Silveny's mind. Something at really ticked the gentle alicorn off. She was panicked and helpless. Sophie tried sending her sooting and reassuring thoughts, wanting to be good help to Silveny as she had been to her. 

A single memory seemed to play over and over again and seemed to make the others memories seem dull. The negative emotions seemed to orbit around it. Sophie felt herself getting pulled into it.

Silveny had been grazing in a field. She had been flying for a long time, so she was sore and needed some rest. She wasn't as alert as usual. She had her head down, drinking from a pond, when a net was thrown over her.

Silveny flailed and shrieked, trying to break free, but rough hands held her down. Sophie sucked in a breath when she realized they were all wearing the eye of the Neverseen. They had their hoods up, so Sophie couldn't see their faces.

Silveny, using her remaining strength, kicked the people behind her and managed to throw off the net. She tried to fly away, but one of the Neverseen members grabbed her hoof, holding on when she took off.

He tried to redirect her to go back down, and when she wouldn't listen, squeezed her leg harshly, burning her. Sophie felt sick. Fire always brought back bad memories. Especially the type of fire this prokinetic was handling. Sophie felt helpless as Silveny thrashed in pain.

Silveny flew over a tree and the person got stuck on the branches, forcing him to let go of Silveny.

Sophie got a glimpse of the person's face as the wind made his hood fall back. When she did, she wish she hadn't.

She felt herself being pulled away from Silveny's mind and found herself shaking in a warm embrace.

"Everything's alright," Keefe whispered cradling Sophie in his arms. But it wasn't. Sophie knew her parents could never find out who it was.

It was Brant. Sophie transmitted to Keefe.  Keefe's eyes widened and he tightened his hold on her.

"Care to clue the rest of us in about what's happening?" Dex asked sharply, directing his venom at Keefe. Sophie realized she was still in Keefe's arms and pulled back her cheeks flushing.

Keefe looked at Dex, then at Edaline, then back at her like he was asking her how much she wanted to tell them.

"Seriously," Dex groaned. "We deserve to know what's going on."

Sophie gritted her teeth. Not from annoyment for Dex, but from anger towards the Neverseen. "What if I told you, it wasn't an accident?" she finally said chewing her bottom lip. Dex's eyes widened and everyone else gasped.

"Who...who would do such a horrendous act?" Edaline finally asked.

"Someone who wants leverage over the council," muttered Keefe.

"Of course...if they had this magnificent species..." started Kesler.

"Then they can make the Council do whatever they want," finished Elwin. " The alicorn will pay a huge role in determining the public's favor. But the real question is who or what did it?"

"It was a pyrokinetic," Sophie said quietly. She still wasn't sure if she wanted Edaline to realize her late daughter's fiance was a psychopath. But she knew she had to tell her and Grady soon. It was only fair that they knew what really happened to their daughter. Sophie remembered that Grady still blamed himself and thought that the Black Swan was behind the fire. 

"I would have never believed an elf was capable of doing something like this," Elwin said quietly pulling Sophie out of her troubled thoughts. "But times have changed."

"Did you see their face?" Edaline asked. Sophie gulped and felt Keefe trying to calm her down. Slowly she shook her head.

"Will this help Silveny?" Sophie asked Elwin, not being able to hold her mom's gaze after having to lie to her.

Elwin rubbed his temples and sighed. "Fire isn't reversible."

"But this isn't just any fire!" Sophie protested. "This is everblaze!"

Elwin's eyebrows shot up. "How do you-"

"She heard them talking about it in the memory," Keefe quickly interrupted trying to cover for Sophie. He tried to change the subject. "But since the everblaze was created by an elf, there has to be a way to counter it, right?"

Elwin nodded thoughtfully. "I will definitely look into it." He then glanced at Silvery. "I think it's best we alert the council about the Alicorn. I've bandaged and treated the burn as best as I can. But if we don't find anything useful in a couple of days, we have to amputate the leg," he said leveling his gaze with Sophie.

Sophie nodded reluctantly. "We will find a cure by then," she said trying to reassure herself more than others.

Keefe tried to lift her mood by hooking his hand through Sophie's and shouting "Yeah! Team Foster-Keefe will always prevail!" 

Dex coughed from the background.

"Er, I meant Team Foster-Keefe-Dex will prevail!" Keefe corrected himself flashing Dex a grin. Dex responded with a glare.

"I would watch out what you eat if I were you," warned Dex with an evil grin. Keefe blinked and offered a nervous laugh as he, Edaline, and Sophie joined hands and glittered away.         

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"My rep is ruined!" groaned Keefe as both of them walked to their morning session. Or at least Sophie was. Whatever Keefe had planned for that day, she doubted sitting through Elvin History was one of them.

Keefe cringed as he raised his hand to feel his now spiky neon green hair. "Why did it have to be The Hair?!"

Sophie had to fight back a smile. She would never forget him walking through Foxfire's halls oblivious to why everyone started laughing wherever he went. "Hey, Dex had warned you."

"Who would've thought he had such a dark side?" he moaned.

Sophie laughed. "You just didn't get to see it because you both had bonded over teasing Fitz last time, remember?"

"I guess being amazing has its downsides," he said shaking his head.

"Whatever Drama King," she rolled her eyes. "But anyway, on to more important matters. We need to decide on our game plan to help Silveny."

Keefe's teasing smirk seemed to fade as he ran his hand through his hair. "You know what I don't get? We are chasing after all these different members of the Neverseen when we completely ignore any talk about probably the most important member which we know the location of!"

Sophie winced. She had absolutely no doubt he was talking about his mother. Sophie had been trying to avoid Gisela, but probably not for the reason Keefe assumed.

"I know you think you hate her Keefe," Sophie said gently. "But, a part of you will still care about her no matter what."

"Is that what it's about?" Keefe asked his voice cracking. "Are you doing this out of pity?"

"No, because I care about you. I don't want you to get hurt, Keefe," Sophie said grabbing his hands, forcing him to look at her. "It's okay to have people worry about you. That's what makes us so much stronger than the Neverseen. While they try to bury love deep inside them, we embrace it. It helps us become better versions of ourselves."

Sophie's eyes locked with Keefe's, begging him to understand. They were then interrupted by the first bell.

"You better go," said Keefe pulling away from her. "You don't want to break your perfect attendance record." He smirked. But it looked forced.

"Keefe," Sophie protested.

"I really do appreciate the worry, Foster," he said quietly. "More than you will ever know. But...it's not worth it."

Sophie knew he actually meant that he wasn't worth it. And that broke her heart more than anything else.

"Your parents have made you believe that," Sophie said. "Please Keefe, listen to me when I say you're worth way more than you know."

When Keefe didn't respond, Sophie pulled him into a hug. Her heart leaped when he didn't resist. He buried his face in her hair. Sophie didn't know how long they stayed like that. But all that mattered was that they were going to get through this together.

"I'm really glad I met you, Sophie," Keefe finally said, pulling back from the embrace.

"Me too," Sophie said. She hoped Keefe could feel how much she meant it. "And if you say you're ready to go after your mom, I will do everything I can to help you."

"Thank you," he said quietly.

"Of course," said Sophie. "That's what friends are for."

Sophie could have sworn there was a disappointment that shone in his eyes as she said those words.

"Is everything alright?" Sophie asked worriedly. "Did I say something wrong?"

"No-no Foster," he said hurriedly, turning away from her.

"Keefe, you know you can tell me anything, right?" Sophie asked gently.

"I just..." Keefe gulped.

"Take your time," Sophie said reassuringly.

"I..." Sweat was pouring down his face now.

"Keefe," Sophie said taking his hand. "I promise that no matter what you say now, I wouldn't hold anything against you. You don't have to worry about me judging or getting angry at you. I promise."

His eyes went wide. He looked like he wanted to believe her.

He opened his mouth to try again, "Sophie, I--"

"Sophie Foster and Keefe Sencen!" a familiar voice boomed. "What are you doing out of your classes?!"

Sophie had to force herself not to groan as she turned to face Bronte.

"What are you even doing here?" she asked not bothering with manners.

"Oh I'm sorry," Bronte said mockingly. "I didn't know one of the most important elves in Lost Cities had to inform a lowly student before coming to the school that had to make a thousand exceptions for her to get accepted in!"

Sophie just responded with a glare.

"I don't know what the other councilors saw in you," Bronte scowled. "All I see is an untrained, reckless, scrawny little girl."

"I bet you that Foster is more powerful than you and all your councilors combined," said Keefe his arms crossed. "I'm sure she can make it clear by pinning you to the ground."

"Foolish boy! You don't know what you're dealing with!" Bronte yelled.

"And you do? Please, do enlighten us with you're vast knowledge and wisdom," Keefe challenged.

Bronte sputtered."I don't have to explain myself to you or anyone for that matter!"

"Or are you just trying to cover the fact that Foster is your best bet to defeat the group posing as a threat to your position as councilor?" Keefe argued. Sophie didn't know how he managed to stay so calm under Bronte's glare. "Yeah, you heard me," Keefe said stalking closer to Bronte. "We know how to defeat them. The real question is are you going to let us or not?"

Bronte was spewing with anger and venom. Sophie realized what he was going to do a second before Keefe. She jumped in front of Keefe, pushing him away from Bronte as he inflicted. Keefe stumbled back surprised, away from both of them.

Sophie watched as Bronte looked at her in confusion as he scrunched up his eyebrows.

"You can't inflict on me," Sophie told him. "My mind's too strong."

"What?" Bronte said stupefied. "That's-that's not possible!"

"That's what I was trying to tell you!" Keefe boomed. "Sophie can take down all of us if she wanted to! You have to put aside your pride and trust that we know what we're doing for a minute!"

Bronte blinked as if he was just truly considering what Keefe was saying. But then immediately after seemed to get angry at himself for considering it. He opened his mouth to unleash a string of curse words when a familiar whispery voice interrupted him.

"There you are!" Sir Astin shouted relieved. "I was looking everywhere for you two!"

“They’re with you?”Bronte asked disappointed.

“I’m sorry, were you looking forward to getting us in trouble?” Sophie asked him.

Keefe snorted. “I bet he had already started brainstorming ways to torture us.”

“That’s enough you two,” Sir Astin, aka Mr.Forkle told them strictly, but Sophie didn’t miss the glint of amusement in his eyes. “We will leave the councilor to carry on with his duties. There is something I need to talk with you about.”

“Make sure you teach your prodigies manners while you’re at it,” called Bronte as the three of them walked away.

Sir Astin sighed, rubbing his temples. “Only you kids can tick off a councilor on your first day. You’re lucky I covered for you this time, be more careful from now on.”

“Technically, Bronte started hating me the moment he saw me for absolutely no reason,” Sophie pointed out.

“Forget that,” Keefe said dismissively. “What about the telepath we dropped on your lawn? Did you learn anything from him?”

Sir Astin’s mouth fell open. “How did you…?”

Keefe smirked. “Don’t underestimate us Forklenator,” he grinned. “Oh lets also not forget that you’re also Magnate Leto and that you have a twin.”

Sir Astin sucked in a breath. “Only a few selected members of the Collective know that,” he said quietly.

“Speaking of the Collective…” Sophie glanced at Keefe.

“Oh yeah! The Froster is Dex’s mom, Granite is Sir Tirgan, and we are pretty sure Blur is Brad Babblos,” he said counting off his fingers.

“We also know some of the members who were included in creating Project Moonlark,” Sophie added quietly remembering Calla. Tears were brought to her eyes when she realized Callla is still alive. Keefe took her hand, guessing who she was thinking about.

I also know Oralie is my biological mother she transmitted to Sir Astin. His eyes widened even more if that was possible.

“Well,” he finally said. “This certainly changes our plans. As much as I want to know how in the world you found this knowledge, we have bigger problems at hand.” He looked at them intently.

Sophie and Keefe glanced at each other before they took turns explaining everything they knew about the Neverseen so far.

Sir Astin sucked in a breath. “I was hoping I could let you enjoy a bit of normality before having you join our group...but it seems like things have gone beyond that point now.”

“Wait! If we sneak out to join the Black Swan as you say, we would lose the only advantage we have over my mom right now! I can go home and learn more things from her without raising suspicion!” Keefe protested.

“There is no way I’m letting you be in the same room with her!” cried Sophie. “What if she finds out the truth? She basically has Washers on stand by! She could use you and hurt you and you wouldn’t even know it!”

“Miss. Foster’s right,” Sir Astin whispered. “The risks aren’t worth the benefits.”

“Then now what?” Keefe said ripping his hand through his hair. “Where does that leave us now?”

“You two can’t stay here any longer,” Sir Astin said shaking his head.

“But--” Sophie started.

“Miss Foster, do you really want to put your friends and family at risk?” Sir Astin interrupted. “Your knowledge is considered as a huge threat to the Neverseen. I think you may not realize what lengths they will go to destroy it.”

That shut her up. The memory of Biana lying on the floor in a pool of blood flashed across her mind. She would never forgive herself if any of her other friends got hurt because of her. Keefe sent her calming breezes. But Sophie could feel his hand shaking in hers. When both of them locked eyes, they knew what they had to do.

Both of them nodded at Sir Astin. Sophie gulped.

“Does that mean everyone will think…?”

“That both of you are dead,” Sir Astin finished. When both of them winced, Sir Astin sighed. “If you are presumed dead, the Neverseen will no longer think of the Black Swan as a threat to their plans. Both of you will help us take them down once and for all.”

Sophie choked up not knowing what to say. Keefe seemed to feel the same way because he hoarsely whispered, “When?”

“When we deem the time is right,” Sir Astin said vaguely turning away from both of them. A bell rang signaling the end of the morning sessions “Now head to lunch. It is very critical that no one suspects anything is wrong.”

Both of them clutched each other as they were the only things holding each other together. “We will get through this together,” Sophie promised. “We have to.”

They watched as prodigies piled into the hallways, happy and laughing, oblivious to the danger that loomed over them.           

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------           

“Sophie, this has to stop!” Keefe cried snatching a book from her hands. They were both sitting in a library in Foxfire during their evening session the day after Sir Astin told them their plans.

Sophie rubbed her eyes, tired from all the reading. She refused to look at Keefe.

“Sophie, you’re worrying me,” Keefe said his voice cracking. “You’ve got to rest! You have been working hours!”

“I’m fine, Keefe,” Sophie said dismissively.

“Really?” Keefe asked skeptically. “When was the last time you slept?”

“I’ll sleep when the alicorn that helps me sleep doesn’t have to lose a leg!” Sophie snapped. She regretted it immediately when she lifted her head and saw the hurt flash through Keefe’s eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she said pulling on her hair. “I...I don’t know what’s wrong with me…”

“What’s wrong is you’re pushing yourself too hard!” Keefe cried grabbing her hands. “I care about Silveny too. I want to kick the Neverseen in the hard place for what they did to her and Biana. But doing this to yourself won’t help!”

Sophie turned away from him and grabbed a random book from the piles of books she managed to snatch from the restricted sections. “The time Elwin gave us is almost up, Keefe,” she said hoarsely. She turned to the first page of the book and growled in frustration. “Great!” she cried staring at the gibberish on the page. “My Polyglot ability is failing me right when I need it most!” She picked the book up but Keefe placed his hand on top of it before Sophie could chuck it out a window.

“Wait! Sophie, this isn’t a language!” He grabbed the book from her and flipped through the pages. The realization grew on his face. “This is in code!”

“What?” Sophie said as things were not making as much sense as usual due to her lack of sleep.

“Someone wrote this book in code!” Keefe said grabbing a piece of paper and a pen. “We learned how to decipher it in the Neverseen camp.” Keefe winced after he realized what he said.

Sophie grabbed his hand. “All that matters is that you’re here now,” she promised him.

Keefe sighed but started to write things down. Sophie yawned.

“How can I hel-” her heavy eyelids closed before she could finish the sentence, plunging her into a familiar world of darkness and despair.

Sophie and Keefe’s wanderlings were being planted. The mood was eerie and silent except for the sniffles and sobs. 

Her parents and friends, and even some of the Councillors were crying and had their heads bowed. Sophie was surprised to see that even Lord Cassius was tearing up. Lady Gisela stood rigid as if she couldn’t believe this was happening. 

Sophie was a ghost to her family and friends. Sophie tried to comfort her parents but her hand went right through them. She begged Fitz and Dex to stop sobbing. She tried to tell them she was right there. But they couldn’t hear her. She felt her heart dropping. 

Look at all the despair you caused an emotionless voice cut through her brain. Sophie gasped looking around to see who had spoken. It looks like you’re the real heartless on here  the voice taunted. 

Stop! Sophie yelled

Everyone will hate you… 

You're wrong! 

What is the price you’re willing to pay?

 Sophie fell to the ground covering her ears.  I don't care about what you say!

Do you really not, little moonlark?  Sophie squeezed her eyes shut. 

People who don't care are those who matter!

You’re no hero, you’re just a freak. A malfunction. 

A sob escaped Sophie’s mouth. Slowly she felt herself getting pushed down to the ground from the taunts. 

People who brefriend you get hurt! The voice started getting stronger, more vicious. It shredded all the barriers Sophie tried to put up. 

Stop… This time Sophie’s voice came out more like a plea than a command. 

You’re useless! Sophie realized that the weaker Sophie grew, the more power the voice was given. 

Sophie clawed at her head, tring to escape. Escape from this reality. 

Oh moonlark...When will you ever learn? Darkness swallowed Sophie whole. 

She sobbed as her eyelids opened to get blinded by harsh light.

“Hey it’s okay,” Keefe said softly as he wrapped his arms around her. Sophie buried herself in his chest. “You’re alright now.” 

"I'm so so sorry, Keefe," Sophie sobbed. 

"Sophie, you don't have anything to apologize for!" Keefe said cradling her in his arms.

"Yes, I do! You won't be in this mess if it weren't for me!"

"Sophie..." Keefe said pulling back so that she would look him in the eye. "None of this is your fault. You have set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Every living thing makes mistakes sometimes!"

Sophie sighed, but then she realized they weren't in the library anymore. They were in her...bedroom? Sophie scrambled up.

"What time is it?" she demanded.

Keefe sighed. Sophie just realized he had dark circles under his eyes. 

"Keefe!" She cried. "I need to know! What. Time. Is. It?"

"I'm sorry, Sophie," he said quietly not meeting her eyes. Sophie's heart sunk when she realized what he meant. She clapped he hands opening the shades. The sun's morning rays shined through.

"No...no...no..." she buried her face in her hands. Time was up for Silveny.           

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------           

Sophie choked back a sob as Silveny transmissions of FRIEND! FRIEND! PLAY! FLY!

Sophie halted outside the door leading to Silveny. Sophie realized that Keefe's hand in her's had turned sweaty. She gulped not sure if she would be able to see her Alicorn friend in her condition right now.

FRIEND! FRIEND! VISIT! Silveny urged her.

Sophie shook her head trying clear all the excuses she had come up with to avoid seeing Silveny. How could she be so selfish when Silveny didn't seem to mind too much herself?

Keefe squeezed her hand sending her calming ways. Sophie let out a breath and slowly reached for the door handle.

Sophie felt like her heart crawled up her throat when she stepped inside. Silveny was sprawled on the ground. FRIEND! KEEFE! KEEFE! KEEFE!

"Hey Glitterbutt," Keefe said hoarsely reaching forward to pet her mane. "How are you doing?"

Sophie blinked back tears as Silveny nuzzled Keefe and tried to get up.

No. You have to rest. Sophie told Silveny strictly.

FLY FREE! FLY FREE! Sophie suddenly was urged to listen to Silveny, and hop on her back and never look behind her again. Sophie shook her head to compose herself, figuring Silveny was trying to persuade Sophie by sharing her emotions.

Not until you feel better.

Silveny continued protesting, but something in Silveny's tail caught Sophie's eye. Her eyes widened at a familiar sparkly tracker and Sophie rushed over to make sure she wasn't just hallucinating.

"Keefe!" Sophie called backing away from Silveny once her theory was confirmed, her eyes wide.

Keefe gasped as he rushed over to stand next to Sophie. "How is that possible?!"

Sophie felt herself shaking from head to toe as she whispered, "The Neverseen was here."

The next few hours were all a blur to Sophie. After hailing the Council, Elwin had sprinkled Revoldust on all of them. Sophie was luckily clear. Silveny had a lot of bright red parts. Keefe's hands were bright red since he had petted Silveny. Elwin forced both off them to melt their skin off.

 Then Alden had come to have a talk with the gnomes who tended to Silveny.

"The Council wants Silveny moved to the Sanctuary to ensure her safety," Alden told Sophie and Keefe after a gruesome wait.

"How does that help, though?!" Sophie yelled. "The Nev--I mean the group would know exactly where Silveny's been held. Don't they think they would be playing right along with what the group wants?"

"The Sanctuary is high in the Himalayas. It's impossible to break into," Alden reassured her.

Sophie gritted her teeth. If only she could tell everyone that the Neverseen had broke in plenty of times without any trouble.

"Are you sure the Council can't hide Silveny in a more secret location?" Keefe asked Alden probably sharing Sophie's worries.

Alden sighed. "I'll see what I can do. But you two really have no reason to worry."

Sophie didn't think she had ever less believed something anyone has ever said before.

"I think you two need a break," Alden said quietly studying Sophie and Keefe. "This is really getting in your heads. Why don't you come to Everglen tonight? Biana is getting out of the healing center today. You four can have a sleepover and just have some fun."

"Yeah," Edaline agreed walking in with a tray of mallowmelt. "Dealing with Silveny had really stressed you out. You should just kick back and relax for a while."

Sophie wanted to do anything but relax. But Keefe's intent look at her reminded her of Sir Astin's warning to act normal. So she plastered a fake smile and reluctantly agreed.

All she could think about when Fitz opened Everglen's gate for her later day, was what a long night it was going to be.

"Sophie, you're here..." Biana said unenthusiastically.

Sophie cringed at the whole awkwardness of the situation. She again wished she never agreed to the sleepover

"Are you...feeling better?" was what Sophie decided to go with.

"Yeah, I'm much better," Biana said. There was another awkward pause.

"So, where are the boys?" Sophie asked. Immediately regretting it a second later. 

What if Biana thought she asked that because she didn't want to hang out with her? What if Biana got jealous of Sophie and Keefe's friendship?

She found herself wishing Keefe was there for the 10th time that day. He would start talking, and everyone would laugh and things would go smoothly.

"Um, upstairs being their usual idiotic selves," Biana said. They shared a laugh at that statement. "Do you want to do each other's makeup?" she asked. Sophie saw how much she wanted to.

"You really don't want me going anywhere near your makeup supplies," Sophie warned with a nervous laugh. "I'm a walking fashion disaster."

Biana finally flashed Sophie with a real genuine smile. "Don't worry. I go so overboard that I have enough mad skills for both of us."

They both laughed as Biana took her hand and pulled her to her bedroom.

Sophie gasped when she saw all of Biana's makeup.

"Alright, it looks like a fashion store threw up in here," she said gaping.

"Oh don't be silly," Biana said with an evil grin. "This is barely half of what I own." Sophie yelped in surprise as Biana pushed her in a chair and spun her to face the mirror.

Sophie gaped as Biana used a million different things on Sophie's face. Sophie accidentally knocked over Biana's hand in surprise when she moved to put the mascara on Sophie. Sophie gasped in horror as she realized she had smeared it on Biana's cheek.

"Oh god Biana," Sophie started her eyes wide. "I'm so sor-"

Biana threw a pillow at Sophie's face, laughing at Sophie's shocked expression.

"Come on Soph," Biana said readying another pillow with a huge grin on her face. "You afraid to lose to the Pillow Fight Champion of this house?"

Sophie laughed grabbing a pillow. "Oh, bring it on!"

Their laughs echoed through the whole mansion.

And that's how Sophie Elizabeth Foster got her best friend back that night.

To say the boys were shocked when Sophie and Biana walked downstairs that night for dinner was an understatement.

Biana was stunning. She wore a sparkly teal dress that complimented her eyes. Her hair came down in waves. Her makeup, unlike Sophie's, was dark and bold. Sophie didn't know how Biana walked so gracefully in heels that were twice the size of Sophie's.

Sophie was wearing a lilac gown and heels that Biana forced her to wear. She had convinced Biana to use neutral tones for her makeup and her hair was in an elaborate braid. Even Sophie had to admit she looked good when she looked at herself in the mirror.

But Sophie, being her clumsy self, tripped and fell into the hands of a smirking ice-blue eyed boy.

"Woah, Foster," Keefe laughed. "You don't have to literally fall for me every time!"

Sophie glared at him, pulling back from him, hating how her cheeks flushed. She also didn't miss the way Keefe's eyes had followed her and his mouth had hung open a bit.

Fitz was also smiling at her. "You look amazing," he whispered to her. Sophie surprised herself when her cheeks didn't burn. Her heart didn't flutter when he shot her his movie-star worthy smile. She was about to thank him when Biana interrupted.

"I'm also here you know!" Biana huffed. But she said it in a teasing way. Her eyes were bright and the corner of her lips turned up when she looked at Sophie. "It looks like I have to dress you up more often, Drama Queen."

"You're just sore you lost," teased Sophie her eyes lighting up. It felt so good to talk to her friend freely.

"Tell yourself whatever you want to feel better, Soph," Biana grinned. "You're going to need it the next time I see you."

Sophie groaned and the other three laughed at her misfortune. Sophie's eyes turned glassy as the Vacker sibling headed to get dinner. It just became so much harder to act out her death.

Keefe took her hand, sensing what she was feeling.

"Let's enjoy the time we have left," he said quietly with a sad smile.

Sophie nodded. She had a feeling this would be her last chance to have a sense of normalcy. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

“Where were you yesterday?” asked Dex catching up to Sophie in a Foxfire hallway. Sophie winced remembering Dex’s hate for the Vackers and Keefe recently. 

“Er- why?” she asked hoping to stall and avoid answering.

“I tried hailing you,” Dex said. “I thought you said we could work together on alchemy."

Sophie cringed, forgetting her promise to Dex. It showed what a good friend she was being.

“Sorry, Dex,” Sophie apologized. “I was so caught up in worrying about Silveny that I lost track of time.”

“Oh! I almost forget about her,” Dex said his eyes crinkling. “How are you holding up?”

“Losing her leg doesn’t seem to bother Silveny too much,” Sophie sighed. “I should just be grateful that Silveny made it out alive.”

“You have every right to worry,” Dex assured her. “I was actually going to surprise you with this, but I think you could use a little cheering up right now,” he said running to his locker. Curious, Sophie followed.

Sophie gasped when she realized what Dex brought out.

“It’s a robotic leg,” Dex said proudly holding up a metal machine. It was covered in sparkles and moved soundlessly as Dex adjusted knobs. “It’s almost done. With this, Silveny will be back on her feet in no time!”

Sophie gaped at him not knowing what to say.

“Oh, do you not like it?” he asked, disappointed when she didn’t respond. “It’s alrigh-” he was cut off by Sophie who threw her arms around him.

“It’s amazing,” Sophie breathed finally letting go after a few seconds. “Thank you so much, Dex.”

Dex’s face was tomato red.

“Of Course,” he grinned widely, flashing his dimples. “Anytime.”

“Hey, Foster!” Keefe called from behind her. She turned around to see the Vacker siblings and Keefe making their way toward her and Dex. “Howdy Dexinator!” Keefe added grinning when he saw Dex.

Dex blinked, surprised to be acknowledged. “Hi?” he said uncertainly.

“Don’t think I’ll forget your prank,” warned Keefe patting his now back to normal hair. “You’re in for some huge revenge, dude!”

Biana rolled her eyes, pushing Keefe aside so she could walk up to Sophie. 

“Here, Soph,” Biana grinned handing her a bag.

Sophie peeked inside then grinned widely. “Mallowmelt!”

Biana laughed. “Just a thank you for the fun we had yesterday! We have got to have sleepovers more often!”

Sophie winced glancing at Dex. Dex’s mouth hung open.

“You went to the Vacker’s house?” he said slowly trying to hide his anger. Sophie could see Keefe wincing, realizing what was going to happen.

“Alden thought I needed to take my mind off Silveny,” Sophie said quietly.

“Yeah, and what if she did come?” Fitz asked folding his arms. “It’s not like she committed a crime, Deck.” Sophie had a feeling Fitz got his name wrong on purpose. Whatever the reason was, Sophie knew she wasn’t going to bail out on her best friend.

“His name his Dex,” Sophie told Fitz, who gaped at her. And then she turned to Dex. “And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. But you need to give the Vackers a chance. Not everyone is as bad as you think.”

Dex blinked, still probably surprised that Sophie stood up for him but slowly nodded his head.

Sophie opened her mouth to say something else but was interrupted by Coun-sorry Dame Alina.

“Sophie Foster and Keefe Sencen report to my office!” she shouted. Sophie couldn't see her but she would recognize her voice anywhere. They didn't exactly have the best history with each other.

Sophie squinted her eyes at Keefe suspiciously.

“What did you do?” she asked.

Keefe clutched his chest pretending to be wounded. “Why Foster?” he sighed dramatically. “Why does thou doubt thee’s heart?”

Sophie rolled her eyes as she grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the principal's office. “I don’t even want to know where you learned to speak like that.”

Sophie and Keefe gasped when they realized someone was standing outside the principal's door blocking their way inside.

"There you two are," Granite said. "We have a problem." 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

"Why is it so hard to breathe?" coughed Keefe turning to Granite. "And I never knew you were a mimicker!"

"There is a lot you don't know about me," Granite said gravely.

Sophie looked around to see where Granite brought them. Granite refused to share why he had called them until they were out of Foxfire. She gasped when she realized where they were.

"We're in the Forbidden Cities!" she cried. She looked around again and spotted the empire state building. "NYC to be more exact."

Granite nodded solemnly. "There's been a fire here. Two actually."

Sophie's face paled. "Brant."

Keefe kicked the ground angrily. "I knew we should have gone after him! But you and your stupid Collective had to tell us to 'act normal' and wait 'till you deem the time is right'! See how well that worked out?!"

Granite sighed running his hands down his face. "It does appear we have to change our ways. But that is why I brought you here." He paused.

Sophie and Keefe looked at him expectantly. "We received intel that another pyrokinetic, Fintan, has escaped from his prison and has joined forces with the Neverseen."

Sophie and Keefe glanced at each other tiredly. "Do you think he's here?" Sophie asked Granite carefully.

Granite nodded.

"Alright," Keefe rubbed his hands together. "What's our game plan?"

"You two aren't coming anywhere near danger," Mr. Forkle wheezed coming up from behind Granite. "You're just going to help us escape. Teleporting will be our last resort if things go downhill from here."

"What?!" boomed Sophie and Keefe together.

"We can help!" Sophie begged. "I'm the Moonlark? Remember?"

"And I can fight!" Keefe exclaimed getting out a few daggers from his boots. "I've been training!"

"We aren't risking you getting hurt," Granite said pushing both of them toward a hidden ditch. "Wait here until we tell you it's safe to come out."

"But-" Sophie started to protest. Mr. Forkle fixed her with a hard stare. If you want to defeat the Neverseen, you must have patience. Recklessness won't do us any good. If you won't do it for yourself, think about your family and friends. Especially Mr. Sencen. Do you realize how dangerous it would be if they realize he is with us? Mr. Forkle transmitted.

Sophie shut up. She would never put Keefe in danger's way. Her whole body shook just by imagining what would happen if Keefe's mom found Keefe working with the Black Swan. The sight wasn't pretty.

So reluctantly, she pulled Keefe into the ditch after herself.

"What's up with the worry vibes, Foster?" Keefe said fanning the air. "The Collective can handle themselves."

"They're not the ones I'm worried about," muttered Sophie glancing at the handsome ice blue-eyed boy next to her.

"Sophie," Keefe said grabbing her hands. "You don't need to add me to your enormous worry list."

"Don't I?" Sophie raised an eyebrow. "Last I remember didn't you dual an ogre king, explode Leto's office, got covered in shadowflux by your mother, and do you want me to keep going on?"

Keefe sighed. "I won't act reckless again unless..."

"Unless?" prompted Sophie.

"Unless you get yourself in trouble. If there is any chance that I can help you, I will go for it, Sophie. I'll do anything for you," he said staring into her eyes. Sophie's voice got stuck in her throat as she realized how close they were standing now. 

Sophie suddenly heard a lot of yelling coming from the distance. She gasped, craning her neck to try to see what was happening. The smoke in the air had noticeably increased and was making it hard to see too far.

There was a bang as if something had crashed down. Sophie could hear police sirens around the area. 

Then everything became really quiet for a single second before Sophie could make out a building burning in the distance.

"We have to go help them!" Keefe yelled above all the smoke and debris.

Sophie took off her cape and handed it to Keefe.

"Cover your face," she instructed him. "No one can know who you are."

With that, Keefe climbed out holding his hand out later for Sophie so she can climb out of the ditch. Both of them then ran toward where Sophie saw a building burn.

Both Sophie and Keefe were coughing and the debris made it hard for them to make their way.

They had to avoid humans who were fleeing and police members who were running around in the chaos.

Sophie squinted her eyes to realize that the Black Swan and the Neverseen were at a standoff. Brant and Fintan stood together in front of dwarves and a few ogres. The Black Swan, not expecting them to be this prepared only had a couple of elves on stand by.

"This was part of their plan," Sophie realized. "They knew the Black Swan would come. This is an ambush!"

"Surrender or die!" Brant shouted.

"Never!" Mr.Forkle shouted.

"Then prepare to take your last breath!" Fintan shouted laughing like a maniac. He stretched his hands out and a burst of flames emerged from them heading straight toward Mr.Forkle and Granite.

"No!" cried Sophie. Using the energy she had, she picked up a huge chunk of a building using telekinesis, using it to intercept between the ball of fire and Mr.Forkle. The fire hit the debris, bursting it in flames. Sophie threw the debris as far as she could into the water that surrounded the city.

"Well, well, well," Fintan growled glaring at Sophie. "What do we have here?"

"A scrawny little girl is the best you can do?" scoffed Brant at Mr.Forkle. "You just keep proving yourself to be more and more stupid."

Sophie was burning with rage. They were going to pay for insulting and underestimating her. Sophie gathered all her rage and disgust towards the Neverseen and let it all out in their direction.

When Sophie's mind cleared, all of the Neverseen and their backup were lying on the ground twitching in pain.

Suddenly Sophie could hear human shouts and sirens heading towards them. Helicopters were closing in on them.

Sophie moved to grab Brant and Fintan. But Mr.Forkle put a hand on her shoulder and held her back.

"You and Keefe have to go back to Foxfire before anyone notices you are missing," Mr.Forkle said. "Go, we will take care of things here."

Sophie nodded reluctantly and took Keefe's hand so she can run fast and teleport them out of here.

"Oh, and Miss. Foster?" Mr.Forkle called. "I'm sorry I underestimated you. It won't happen again." 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

"Sophieeee," Biana drawled out waving her hand in front of Sophie's face. "Have you been listening to me at all?"

Sophie blushed. She and her friends were at lunch. "Sorry, Bi. I just....have a lot going on in my mind right now."

"Anything related to cute boys?" she asked wiggling her eyebrows playfully.

"What's this I'm hearing about cute boys?" Keefe asked sliding into the seat next to Sophie. "Did Foster finally realize how much she loves me, and how I'm so much better than some certain people with dimples and teal eyes?"

Dex grumbled something that sounded like 'idiotic boy'.

Fitz glared at Keefe and turned to Sophie with a movie star-worthy smile. "Ignore him Sophie. He's just mad that we now have telepathic sessions together."

"Right, I'm soooo jealous of the wave of dread Sophie is hitting me with when you mention those sessions."

Fitz frowned. Sophie glared at Keefe.

"It's not dread," Sophie tried to assure Fitz. "I'm just a bit nervous about you seeing all my thoughts." She tried to look at Keefe pointedly when she said that. 

It was true, though. What if Fitz accidentally found about what Sophie and Keefe already knew? Sir Tiergan had been told by the council to look over their sessions. The Council wouldn't listen when he tried telling them it was a bad idea.  

Sophie was just happy the Council hadn't thought about them being Cognates yet.

If Keefe noticed her subtle hint, he didn't show it.

"Whatever, Foster." But then Keefe froze when he spotted someone behind her. Sophie frowned and turned around to silently gasp. Brad Babblos was walking around in the hallway outside the lunchroom.

"What is Brad Babblos doing here?" Sophie asked making sure to keep her voice low. "I thought he graduated."

"Oh, Jensi was saying something about needing his brother to help him with a project," Dex said dismissively.

"Er, I need to go get something from my locker," Sophie said getting up, her eyes not leaving the spot Brad was standing in.

"Me too," Keefe said hurriedly, getting up. All her friends looked at them suspiciously.

Sophie ignored the stares, grabbed Keefe's arm, and pulled him out of the lunchroom. They hid behind a column and tried to see what Brad was doing.

Sophie tried to stretch out her consciousness to him so she could try to read his mind.

There was a jumble of thoughts, ones that Sophie couldn't make sense of. But one memory kept popping up again and again. The Heks's invitation to their masquerade ball.

Sophie blinked and got out of Brad's head just as he turned the corner and vanished from sight.

"Looks like we're going to have to dress up," she said turning to Keefe.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Do you really think she will give you an invitation?" Keefe asked Sophie uncertainly grabbing her hand to stop her from walking over to Stina. Sophie and Keefe have been watching Stina and her friend talk and was trying to wait for her to be alone.

"I mean, we did get off to a pretty good start at the Dizznee's," Sophie said. "We've just got to hope she still wants to be my friend."

"Sophie?" Sophie turned around to find Stina grinning. "Hey! I have been looking all around for you! I've never been able to find you."

"Hi Stina," Sophie said smiling. "I've just been really busy with my studies and homework. There is a lot of catching up to do."

"Don't worry," Stina smiled teasingly. "I'm sure you won't totally suck."

Sophie rolled her eyes. "Gee, thanks." They both laughed at that. Sophie could feel Keefe's eyes boring into the back of her head.

She didn't blame him. She wouldn't have thought Stina and her could become friends either.

Stina just seemed to realize that Sophie and Keefe were holding hands. Her eyes widened excitedly.

"Oh! Are you guys together?" She asked grinning.

Sophie's cheeks burst on fire and Keefe smirked. Sophie let go of his hand immediately.

"What? No-no," Sophie stuttered.

"Ha! Foster wishes!" Keefe smirked, laughing. Though Sophie didn't miss the light pink patches on his cheeks.

"Riggghttt," Stina smirked. "Well, It's good I ran into you. I happen to have exactly two invitations to the Ball left." Stina took two gold card from her bag and scribbled their names on them. "Here," she said handing Sophie and Keefe the cards. "I hope you can make it! It's going to bee the biggest and grandest ball elves had ever seen!"

Sophie and Keefe thanked her just as the bell rang and Stina hurried away to class.

"Well, that was something," Sophie muttered. She glanced at Keefe when he didn't respond. He was staring at her card.

"What?" she asked confused.

"Am I dreaming or does that say....?"He asked, now blushing.

Sophie glanced at her card and squeaked, startled when she realized what Stina wrote.

Sophie Sencen invited to the Heks's masquerade ball.

"I am going to kill that girl," muttered Sophie. She didn't know why, but when Keefe turned away, a small smile formed on her lips. "Sophie Sencen, huh...?" she whispered to herself. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

"You've been staring at yourself for so long that I've counted all your eyelashes!" Vertina said in her snobby voice. "Do you know you have 42 more eyelashes on your left eye than your right?"

Sophie raised her hand to pluck one out from her left side this time.

"Hey! I didn't say to even it out!" Sophie sighed almost regretting asking Edaline to move Vertina into her room. Tonight was the masquerade ball and she was going to need all the help she could get if she didn't want to make a complete fool of herself.

"Can you please let me help you?" Vertina begged. "You brought me out! I can make your freaky face look a lot better! Your hair is basically craving for some styling!"

"Nothing too fancy," Sophie warned.

"Do you really want to look like-like this," Vertina said scrunching up her nose in disgust. "In front of the hot blonde boy that you like?"

Sophie's cheeks burned.

"I don't like him that way!" But Sophie still got up to get ready. It couldn't hurt to look good in front of Keefe, right?

"Don't like who?" asked Edaline poking her into Sophie's bedroom. When Sophie groaned, she chuckled apologetically. "Sorry, I thought you could use a few new dresses of your own." She held a bunch of dresses up. "And I bought matching masks you could choose from for the ball today."

Sophie was touched by the fact that Edaline took the time to do that. Especially because Sophie knew she didn't like going out and being social much, especially after Jolie passed away. 

Sophie walked over to Edaline and gave her a hug. "Thank You, Mom."

Edaline gasped, and Sophie could tell there were tears running down her face. She hugged Sophie back. "Your very welcome," she said softly.

When Sophie pulled back, she was surprised to see that Edaline had a wide goofy grin on her face. "Now let's get you ready," she laughed rubbing her hands together. Sophie groaned, but she was happy to get her mother back.

"Now you better act your best tonight," Sophie heard Grady warn Keefe. Sophie and Edaline were standing on top of the stairs, ready to head to the ball. "If Sophie comes home and says one bad thing about you... let's just say you're going to regret being born."

Sophie laughed wondering what tortures Keefe was going through right now. She slowly walked down the steps, careful not to trip over her gown.

The gown was perfect. Not too poofy, but not too plain at the same time. It was an ice-blue color and had a sweetheart neckline. Sophie wore a matching mask and had convinced Edaline to let her wear flats. Her hair fell down in waves and Sophie used a Moonlark clip to hold part of it back.

Sophie could feel Keefe staring at her with awe and Grady throwing daggers at Keefe.

"C'mon honey," Edaline smiled putting a hand on Grady's arm. "We should leave them alone." She gave Sophie that smile that all teenagers despise.

Sophie groaned, hoping her cheeks weren't as red as she thought. 

"But you don't want to leave her with That Boy," Grady started. 

"Don't worry Gradio," Keefe smirked wrapping an arm around Sophie. "I'll take care of her."

Grady growled like he was going to Mesmer Keefe into punching himself before Edaline pulled him away, laughing softly.

"Do you always have to get on his bad side?" laughed Sophie.

"Hey!" Keefe said holding his hands up like he was innocent. "He just doesn't want to admit how amazing I am!"

Sophie rolled her eyes. But at that moment she couldn't help but realize that the fitted tunic Keefe was wearing made his shoulders look broader and defined his muscles. His handsome features were more defined and his hair had never looked better.

"Interesting," Keefe grinned. "Your emotions just turned a lot more...how do I say it? Fluttery around me?" His smirk widened when Sophie blushed a beautiful shade of beet red.

"We should go now," she said hurriedly grabbing his hand and taking out her light leaper. She tried not to think too much into the fact that they were holding hands and the fact that Keefe had pink patches on his cheeks. 

Sophie gasped when they arrived at the Heks's place. Stina wasn't kidding when she said the ball was going to be the best one elves had ever seen. The ballroom looked extravagant and the food smelled delicious from miles away. The decorations were top notch and a million candles like twinkling stars lit the place up. 

The music, probably brought from the Forbidden Cities, was playing loud from the speakers set up. People were dancing and talking like they didn't have a care in the world. They probably didn't, Sophie realized. 

But just as she looked around Sophie realized the biggest problem that she and Keefe had forgotten about.

"Keefe," she whispered. "Everyone's wearing masks! Where would we even start looking to try to find Brad?"

Keefe winced. "I guess you have to open your thoughts to everyone like you did in Exile."

Sophie cringed. That was not a pleasant experience. 

"Hey," Keefe said squeezing her hand. "I'll try to keep you calm. Besides, these thoughts won't be nearly as psychotic as the ones from Exile. Probably the closest horrifying thought would include having a crush on, I don't know, Dame Alina or someone like that."

Sophie rolled her eyes. But the joke did help. Her mind cleared and her heartbeat slowed down. She took a deep breath before opening her thoughts to everyone in the ballroom.  

She groaned at the chaos that hit her mind. A thousand random thoughts tried to fight for her attention. They were everyday worries that Sophie too worried about, that is until she was up against the Neverseen. Did the dress look good on them? Did anyone see them trip? Did they pass their alchemy test? 

But one voice sounded a lot more concrete and stronger than the rest of them. Like the person knew exactly what to do and that they weren't fooling around. Their thoughts had more willpower embedded to them.

Sophie blocked everyone else out so she can focus on that voice. The voice cut through her mind like sharp knives.

I know you're here Moonlark. You have no idea what your up against. Tell anyone else about this, and I will make sure your friends and family suffer. I will take them out one by one until they're all gone. Meet me at the Wanderlings grove at midnight today if you want to see them live.

Sophie gasped. She pulled back and stumbled back to reality. 

"Sophie, are you alright?!" Keefe asked panicked, putting a hand on her shoulder. 

Sophie looked around and saw a man looking straight at her with a hard stare. He didn't need to remove his mask for Sophie to tell he was Brad Babblos.

"Yeah," Sophie told Keefe a little loudly so Brad can hear her. "I'm perfectly fine."

A thousand worries swirled through Sophie's mind. All Sophie knew was that Keefe couldn't find out. 

"Are you sure your alright, Foster?" Keefe asked again concerned.

Sophie nodded. "I'm just bummed that I couldn't find Brad."

"It's alright," Keefe said even though Sophie knew Keefe suspected something was up. "We can look for him the old fashioned way." The way he said it with a mischievous glint in his eyes made Sophie raise her eyebrow.

"And I hope that doesn't involve anything blowing up?" 

"Aw Foster," Keefe pouted, sticking his bottom lip out. "You're no fun."

Sophie laughed. She never knew how Keefe could make her feel joy in even the worst situations. It just made her want to protect him more. He always gave happiness selflessly to others, he deserved some for himself. 

It made Sophie, who didn't believe in violence, want to sucker punch his parents 100 times, kick them 200 times and stomp on them 300 times. 

They walked around the ballroom, with Sophie leading Keefe away everytime they got close to Brad. A plan was forming in her mind for that night, but it required patience. Sophie didn't like lying to Keefe, but she would do anything to protect him.

Finally, after it felt like hours of just walking around, fast beat music filled the room. Sophie smiled sadly, looking longingly at the couples and friends dancing carelessly on the dance floor. 

Keefe must have sensed what Sophie was feeling because he held his hand out with a smile. Not a smirk, but a real genuine smile.

"Care to dance, Foster?" 

Sophie grinned and grabbed his hand. She pulled him onto the dance floor before he could react. He laughed, stumbling at first then taking both her hands and spinning her around.

Sophie had never had so much fun in her life. Nothing had ever felt this right before. She didn't want this night to end. 

When Sophie looked at Keefe, there was no one else in the room. She cherished his every laugh, smile and smirk. He was the only one that had stood with her through anything. Accepted her for who she was. Trusted her. She could be herself around him, and he wouldn't judge. 

Sophie accidentally tripped, falling into Keefe's arms just as the music ended.

"Finally fell for me, Foster?" he asked his eyes glinting. 

"I guess so," Sophie smiled pink blossoming from her cheeks as she shook her hair out of her face so she could look at him. 

Their faces were dangerously close when something Sophie saw behind Keefe made her freeze. She gasped as she saw a familiar man talking with Brant.

Keefe frowned, confused, and glanced behind him to try to see what she was looking at.

Keefe we need to get out of her, now. Sophie transmitted panicked. Don't act suspiciously.

If Keefe was confused now he didn't show it. Instead he rubbed his eyes and looked at Sophie.

"Well, it's getting late," he said tiredly. "You don't want to be late for Foxfire tomorrow."

"Yeah," Sophie nodded. "We should head back now. I'll teleport us."

She grabbed his hand and both of them casually walked out of the ballroom. Once they were outside, Sophie ran, dragging Keefe with her, opening up a void and teleporting out of there. But instead of landing in Havenvield's pastures, they landed outside the side of a rolling grassy hill.

Both of them faced a round gilded door tucked away in the side reminding Sophie of the hobbit hole.

"What is this place?" Keefe wondered.

"Our secret office," a wheezy voice said behind them. Keefe and Sophie spun around to face the Forkle twins. Or at least, one of them was as Mr.Forkle and the other one was currently Magnate Leto. It was nerve-racking to see both of them at the same time.

"Or at least we thought it was a secret," Magnate Leto said raising an eyebrow at them.

Sophie sighed. "I'm sorry for dropping in unannounced, but we have a problem."

Everyone was silent after Sophie recounted what happened. She didn't tell them about finding Brad or about the meeting he set up.

"And you think the man we need to worry about is who?" Mr.Forkle asked rubbing his temples.

"I'm pretty positive it was Alvar Vacker, "Sophie said quietly. "But something about him was off. Something I couldn't exactly pinpoint on." 

Mr. Forkle sighed after a long silence. "We would have liked to know that you were investigating a currently trusted member of our collective."

"You shouldn't trust him!" Keefe exclaimed. "Something about him is sketchy, I'm telling you. He wouldn't have come to the Ball for no reason."

"You don't even know why he was thinking about the ball," Magnate Leto said tiredly. "You could have gotten hurt. You can't keep running off to investigate like this."

"I could take them all out easily with my inflicting though..." she trailed off when Mr.Forkle and Magnate Leto winced. "What?" 

"Inflicting might not be the best idea because they might already know about that and could have planned a counter defense." Magnate Leto said carefully.

"How? I mean none of their members escaped after facing us. So they can't pass on the information, right?" Her face paled when Magnate Leto looked away and Mr.Forkle sighed. "No, you don't mean..."

Mr.Forkle ran his hands down his face. "Brant escaped this morning." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Keefe and Sophie landed softly outside Everglen's gates. Sophie let out a huge breath she didn't know she was holding.

"Remember the plan," Sophie whispered to Keefe.

"Of course, Foster," He grinned. "When have I ever not?"

Sophie rolled her eyes just as Della opened the gates.

"Keefe! You're back," Della smiled. "Sophie! What a nice surprise. I hope you can stay for dinner. My eldest son came home today."

"Of course," Sophie smiled. Great, everything was going the way she expected. "But I told Grady and Edaline I'd come home by dark."

"I'll hail them," Della said. "Biana has been bugging me about another sleepover anyways."

Sophie and Keefe laughed, entering Everglen. Fitz was standing outside. 

"Sophie?" Fitz asked flashing his movie-star worthy smile at her. "Good to see you here!"

Keefe coughed. Fitz glanced at Keefe for the first time. "Oh. Hey Keefe," for some reason he sounded sour. "You're here too."Then he frowned at their fancy outfits and the masks they carried in their hands. "Wait, where were you guys?"

"Er..." Sophie glanced at Keefe for help. She didn't know how well Fitz would take the fact that both of them went to a ball without him.

"Stina invited us to her masquerade ball," Keefe shrugged like it was no big deal. But his eyes were glinting and the end of his lips turned up when he looked at the annoyed Fitz. 

Sophie got even more uncomfortable when Biana ran over to them with a giddy smile. It vanished though when she saw what Keefe and Sophie were wearing.

"Apparently they went to the Heks's ball without us," huffed Fitz. Biana stiffened, looking at anywhere but at Sophie and Keefe. 

"Sorry," Sophie apologized. "There were only two invitations left."

"I can't believe your friends with that snob," Biana said with a scowl.

"She's not a total snob," Sophie said crossing her arms. She suddenly felt the need to defend Stina. "Once you get to know her, she can be really nice."

"Yeah," Keefe said backing up Sophie. 

"Of course you would agree with her," Fitz huffed glaring at Keefe.

"I can support whoever I feel is right," shot back Keefe.

"I smell drama," grinned Alvar striding over to where the four of them were standing. Sophie studied him. He wasn't wearing the same thing he was wearing at the ball. And his hair was styled a different way. How did he come back to Everglan and change so quickly?"Well isn't it the famous Sophie Foster. I should have known you're here."

"And why is that?" Sophie asked tilting her head at him. 

Alvar smirked, unfazed. "Well trouble has been known to follow your footsteps."

Keefe's jaw clenched and Sophie reached over and entwined their fingers. Sophie was saved from answering when Alden leaped outside the gate.

Sophie frowned when she saw him. Something about him seemed to be a bit off. He was wearing a huge cloak that covered his clothes. His face was pale and he seemed nervous.

"Where are you coming from, Alden?" she asked.

"Oh, just an emissary meeting. Nothing you need to worry about," He said quickly. He then hurriedly went inside Everglen. The Vacker siblings followed him but Sophie held Keefe back.

"Was he telling the truth?" Sophie asked him quietly. 

Keefe hesitated before he shook his head. "No. He felt very guilty and nervous when you asked him."

"Guilty?" Sophie asked panicked. "You don't think he ran across Wylie, do you?"

"I don't think it's that," Keefe said slowly. "He doesn't know Prentice is innocent yet. And his emotions are very different than the time his mind broke last time."

"What else could it be?" Sophie wondered, more to herself than Keefe.

"I don't know, but we better go inside so we can keep an eye on the traitor," Keefe sighed.

"We will catch him tonight," Sophie assured Keefe. "Just follow the plan."

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Sophie fidgeted nervously with her dress as everyone sat down at the Vacker's table for dinner. Sophie knew they had to capture Alvar, then she would have to sneak out alone at midnight to meet with Brad. She couldn't rely on her inflicting skills alone now that Brant has escaped. Sophie knew she should probably tell Keefe and get help, but she could not bear to endanger him with the information.

Keefe, probably sensing her bad mood, reached out from under the table and entangled their fingers to calm her down. She could feel Biana and Fitz's murderous glares even though she tried to keep her head down and her eyes glued to her plate.

Alden, Della and Alvar probably found the scene very amusing as they had a hard time biting back their smiles.

Alvar's imparter rang suddenly. Alvar froze and excused himself from the table hurriedly and ran outside.

Sophie's eyes widened as she searched for an excuse to follow him. She leaned over and pretended to get a slice of Mallowmelt, but knocked a cup of water onto her lap.

"Oh, I better clean up," she said getting up from the table.

"I'll help," Keefe said hopping up next to her. Fitz glared at him and stood up as well.

"No, you stay," he said not very politely. "You're a guest in our house. I'll help Sophie."

Fitz reached over and took Sophie's hand. Keefe was glowering but refused to sit down. Sophie shook her head subtly at him and warned him not to make a scene.

"It's alright," she told Fitz, taking her hand gently out of his grip. "I can manage." She walked away before he could respond. 

Sophie ran outside looking left and right trying to spot the traitor. She heard talking to her left and she silently crept up.

Alvar was talking in a hushed whisper, and Sophie didn't want to risk getting caught if she tried to read her mind. So she was silent and hid behind a tree to try to eavesdrop.

"No you don't get it," Alvar was saying. "I can't get her to be alone and kidnap her without raising suspicion."

"Are you saying you're not fit for the job?" the voice growled. Sophie breath caught when she realized it was Lady Gisela. "I knew you were no use to us."

"I brought you information from the inside you would have never got without me!" Alvar whisper-shouted.

"And you failed to recognize the Moonlark when she had been unguarded and standing harmlessly in front of you!"

"She has brown eyes! Brown! How was I supposed to know?"

"Well my son knew, didn't he?" Gisela asked proudly. "He was able to do something you could not. And he is way younger and more untrained than you are."

Alvar gritted his teeth.

"If you aren't up for the task, I will send Ruy to take your place. I will expose you and ruin your life, hear me? This isn't a group for cowards."

"Alright," Alvar finally said breaking the thickening silence. "I'll do it."

"Good. I expect you to be back by midnight with the Moonlark in tow." She then rigged their connection. 

Midnight? Does that mean Lady Gisela didn't know about Brad's meeting?

Alvar let loose a string of curse words and reached for a hat. Sophie gasped when she realized that hat would protect him from her inflicting. She would lose her chance to capture Alvar if he put on that hat.

Sophie crept up closer to Alvar and tackled him sending his cap flying out of his hand. She put a hand over his mouth so he wouldn't scream.

She gathered all her negative emotions, but just enough so he wouldn't go unconscious and let it loose on Alvar. When her vision cleared, Alvar was groaning in pain. He tried to get up and attack her, but clutched his side and fell back down in agony. 

Sophie grabbed the lightleaper from his belt and held it out of his reach. 

"You're going to answer my questions if you want to go free," Sophie growled.

"Never," croaked Alvar.

"Even though Gisela treats you like trash?" she asked folding her arms. When Alvar didn't respond, Sophie nodded. "That's what I thought. So your freedom for my answer? Deal?"

"How do I know you will uphold your end of the deal?" Alvar asked.

"You don't seem to be in the position for bargaining," noted Sophie. "But, you can trust that I'm true to my word." She held his lightleaper a little closer to him.

Alvar sighed. "One question."

"What do you know about Brad Babblos? The Phaser?"

"He joined the Neverseen recently. Lady Gisela trusts him a lot as he works for the council. She challenged all of us to find and kidnap you. Whoever brought you back would gain a lot more power when the Council falls." 

Sophie raised an eyebrow. "That's all?"

Alvar nodded. "You can read my thoughts if you don't believe me."

Turned out Alvar was telling the truth. Huh, so they don't know he is part of the Black Swan. Maybe the Forkle twins were right. Maybe he is playing double agent.

Sophie sighed and handed Alvar his lightleaper. 

"If I see you again, I will take you down and drag you back as a prisoner," she warned. 

He nodded and limping in pain, stepped into the light and glittered away. Sophie rubbed her temples, wondering if she did the right thing. Something caught her eye though. 

She smiled as she picked up the hat that restricts her inflicting. Maybe today wasn't so useless after all.

Sophie's dress was luckily dry from blowing in the wind as she ran back to Everglen. She entered the dining room to find a very tense atmosphere.

Keefe's eyes shot up when she walked in expectantly. 

Later she transmitted to him. 

"Sorry it took me a while," she said out loud. "I got lost on my way back from the restroom."

Fitz flashed her a blinding smile. "It's alright. I'm sure you'll find your way around soon. You are pretty amazing. This should be a piece of cake for you." Sophie smiled at him politely and ignored the gagging sounds Keefe was making.

Alden cracked a smile as he looked back and forth between Fitz and Keefe. "Oh, I SEE."

Sophie frowned. "What? What do you see?"

Sophie's frowned deepened when Fitz dropped his gaze and was staring at the table like it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

"Don't cheat on the chandelier, Fitzy," muttered Keefe under his breath. He and Sophie exchanged glances and burst out laughing. Everyone else in the room stared at them like they were crazy.

 Sophie decided to change the subject so Fitz won't think she went insane."I also ran into Alvar. He told me to tell you guys that he has been called back by the Council for a mission."

"Already?" asked Della frowning. "He has never been called back this quickly."

Sophie shrugged, hoping to seem nonchalant as she slid back into her seat. The rest of the dinner went pretty smoothly. 

As everyone was getting up and putting away the dishes, Sophie pulled Keefe aside to talk to him.

She transmitted to him the details of what happened. Keefe winced at the part where she let Alvar go.

Are you sure letting him go was the right decision? he thought.

I felt like knowing more about Brad would help us. Sophie looked at her feet. I guess I should have thought it out more. But we needed to know whether to trust Brad or not. Alvar can hide the real answer and hide the truth in a number of fake stories.

I guess so. But I still want to see you sucker-punch him in the face. 

Sophie rolled her eyes. I also have his hat in my bagWe can give it to Tinker and try to find a way to counter it. 

The Foss Boss strikes again! The Neverseen better watch out for you from now on! Get it?

Sophie groaned but couldn't stop a small smile from spreading on her face. 

"Care to include us in your conversation?" Fitz asked angrily his arms folded. Biana didn't look much better. 

"Sorry," Keefe said not looking very sorry at all. "What do you guys want to do?"

"Truth or Dare?"Sophie asked. She immediately regretted it when she saw an evil smile spread across Biana's face.

"Oh yeah!" Biana said suddenly very chirpy. "That's a lovely idea Sophie!"

"Um, actu-"Sophie was cut off by Biana who grabbed her and Keefe's hand and dragged them over to the floor. 

"Come on!" Biana said excitedly clapping her hands. "I'll go first." Sophie had a bad feeling about this. "Keefe," she grinned. "Truth or Dare."

Sophie suddenly felt her stomach do a nauseating flip. She remembered Keefe telling her that Biana had dared him to kiss her. Sophie shook her head. What was she thinking? She didn't care who Keefe kissed. She didn't care who Keefe kissed. She. Didn't. Care. Who. Keefe. Kissed. But the more she repeated it to herself, the more untrue it became. What was going on with her?

Keefe was now staring at her worriedly, probably sensing her mood change. Sophie stared at her hands, making sure not to meet Keefe's gaze. She also couldn't help but cross her fingers behind her back, hoping Keefe didn't pick a dare. 

"Truth." Keefe finally said. Sophie let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. But an even more horrifying possibility snaked it's way to Sophie's brain. What would Biana ask Keefe for his truth?

"Tell me..." Biana started. "Tell me who your crush is."

Keefe's cheeks turned red. Keefe Sencen was blushing?! Sophie suddenly felt a pang of envy towards the girl he liked.

"What if...I don't have a crush?" Keefe said slowly. Sophie felt her heart drop. What was she to expect? Could she have been hoping that...no there was nothing to hope for, right? Sophie bit her lip trying to make sense of the emotions that were flooding her at the moment. Emotions that she had never felt before in her life.

"Um..."Biana said, obviously not expecting Keefe to say that. She sounded heartbroken and Sophie suddenly felt a tang of pity for her. "Um...I guess then tell me what happened during the Masquerade Ball."

Keefe blinked. "It's a Ball, what do you expect? Dancing, food, music, blah, blah, blah."

"No, what were you doing?" Biana asked. Sophie's eyebrows shot up. She didn't think Sophie made a move on Keefe or something, did she?

"I was dancing," Keefe shrugged.

"With...?" Biana asked.

"Foster," Keefe said staring straight at Biana.

Biana's face crumbled. Fitz's hands were turned into fists like he wanted to punch something.

"I have to go..." she whispered before running upstairs. Sophie's heart dropped when she realized there were tears running down her face.

"Biana, wait!" Sophie cried following her upstairs.

"Go away!" Biana cried falling onto her bad her hands covering her face. "I don't want you to see me cry."

"Bi, please," Sophie begged. "I'm so, so, sorry. I didn't think I would hurt you Bi. Keefe and I are just friends, I swear on myself. I'll even show you my memory of it if you want."

Biana finally looked up, her eyes still watering. "No Soph, I should be sorry. I've acted so selfishly and was a jerk to you from the moment I met you."

"Hey, it's alright," Sophie smiled sadly. "Everyone makes mistakes. What's important is we learn from them."

Biana sighed. "I was jealous, Sophie. I was jealous of the relationship you had with Keefe. I'm not going to let a boy get between us ever again, Soph."

Sophie smiled. "Best friends?"

Biana finally gave her a smile. She got up and threw her arms around Sophie locking her in a tight embrace. "Forever," she whispered.

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Keefe's POV

Keefe felt horrible as he watched Biana run upstairs. He hadn't meant for her to get hurt like that. He thought he made it clear to her that she was nothing more than a sister to him.

Keefe felt worse when Sophie ran upstairs to comfort Biana. He should be the one to do it. But he didn't want to make things worse between them.

Foster's emotions were going crazy. He couldn't make sense of most of it. She was fine until Biana started Truth or Dare. He wondered what caused her sudden mood swing. 

It seemed like she was arguing with herself about something. Something she couldn't make sense of. Keefe wished Sophie would tell him what was bothering her. He knew she couldn't help but be secretive sometimes, but he was afraid she would get hurt. Afraid he would lose the only light left in his dark world.

"You lied," Fitz said flatly, snapping Keefe away from his thoughts. 

"What?" Keefe asked confused. Keefe cringed at how awkward it would be now that it was just the both of them.

"You said you didn't have a crush," Fiz said impatiently, anger seeping into his voice.

"I don't," Keefe muttered looking down at his hands. It was the truth. Something he knew would come back to bite him later. 

"Do you really expect me to believe that?!" Fitz shouted, his hands now balled into fists. "Your obsession with Sophie isn't as subtle as you think!"

"I don't have an obsession!" snapped Keefe. No one will talk about Sophie like that when he was there. "Sophie is not a thing to obsess over. That's what you never understand! She is a person with real thoughts and feelings!"

"What are you trying to say?" Fitz seethed, his voice dangerously low. 

"I'm saying that whatever I feel for Sophie isn't just a stupid crush!" Keefe cried pulling on his hair, close to tears now. "She is the only person I feel comfortable around. The only person that understands me.  The only person that I would do anything in the world for!" The words tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop them.

 Keefe froze as he realized he just admitted something he had tried to bury deep inside himself for a long time now. He knew for a long time that he was falling in deep for Sophie. He didn't think he would be able to swim back to the surface. The words that came out of his mouth proved him right. 

Fitz looked equally shocked. His mouth was hanging open and his eyes were wide. Keefe took a step back from him, clutching his head. He whipped his head toward the staircase. If he was lucky, Biana and Sophie wouldn't have heard him. 

"Is everything alright?" Alden asked walking over to the boys his brows furrowed. "I thought I heard some yelling."

"We were just playing a game, nothing big," Fitz said nonchalantly. Keefe on the other hand stood rigid as he looked at his maybe best friend's father. The same man he had looked up to. The same he thought was family. The same that had cared for him when his own father didn't. The same man to tell Keefe to leave his best friend and the girl he cared for so much, alone.

Maybe Alden was right.  Maybe his mom was right. No one needed him. He just made everything worse. Maybe there is no avoiding the legacy his mom had set for him.

Keefe remembered what the book in the library said. The one written in code. He didn't like keeping things from Sophie, but this was too dangerous for her to know. What would Sophie think of him after he told her what the book really said? She wouldn't want anything to do with him anymore. He would lose the small chance he still had with her.

Because he wasn't normal.

He wasn't meant to be good.

He was a walking hazard.

An elvish disaster.

Her nemesis.

A monster.

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Fitz POV

 Fitz didn't know what to think anymore. Didn't know what the right thing to think was. His best friend liked the same girl he did. No, scratch that. His best friend loved the girl Fitz had a crush on. 

Fitz wanted to hate Keefe for getting in his way. But how could he? He saw how much Sophie meant to him. 

But at the same time, his heart couldn't, no wouldn't, accept the fact that he couldn't get something he wanted. He was the golden boy. He was a Vacker. Things like this shouldn't stand in the way. 

Sophie was cute, charming, and intelligent. She was another person meant to change the world, just like Fitz. Together, they would be the two most powerful elves in the world. He would finally be able to show others how much potential he had that was beyond his family name and good looks. 

Keefe was nice...but Keefe was Keefe. He made crappy jokes and caused mischief. Keefe didn't know the pressures people put on Fitz to be perfect. Keefe didn't know what obstacles Fitz had to overcome.

Fitz glanced nervously at Keefe. He seemed lost in his own thoughts. His eyes were glazed over with worry and grief. Fitz had never seen this side of him before. It made him wonder....what else was Keefe hiding? Did he really know his best friend? Was there more to him than he thought?

Keefe was reckless, impulsive, and just plain trouble, right? There's no way Keefe stood a chance next to Fitz. Fitz didn't even know why Sophie bothered with Keefe. She probably just felt bad for him. 

Fitz sighed running his hands through his hair. Why did this have to be so hard? 

Fitz had always had girls behind him, but Sophie was different. He knew she was the moment he saw her. It had made him so mad that when they finally had a proper lead, Keefe had gotten the opportunity to find her, not him. Him who had started looking for her since he was little. Him who had skipped school and his free time to help with the mission. His dear father had given the opportunity to Keefe.

Sometimes he wondered if Sophie would feel differently about him if he had been the one to find her. Fitz knew something was fishy when Keefe came back to Everglen late. Something had happened between Keefe and Sophie. And Fitz loathed the feeling. 

He loathes the secret smiles they exchanged when they think no one is looking. When they share inside jokes. When they hold hands like it's no big deal. When Keefe makes Sophie's eyes light up and when Sophie makes Keefe smile.

The worst part was that Sophie didn't know. She was as oblivious as oblivious could get. It drove him crazy when it was so fricking obvious that he and Keefe liked her. She still didn't know and always stood there like she didn't deserve the praises she was getting. 

Then again, Fitz wasn't sure if he could ever like Sophie as much as Keefe did. Even if part of him wanted Sophie, Fitz would feel horrible if Sophie wasn't happy. How does he figure out if to support his best friend or go after Sophie?

He nodded his head, finally making his decision. 

So when Sophie and Biana walked downstairs that eventful night, Fitz sat straight up.

"Hey Sophie," Fitz said nonchalantly. "Can I talk to you alone?"

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Sophie POV

"Hey Sophie," Fitz said as Sophie and Biana walked downstairs. "Can I talk to you alone?"

Sophie frowned and glanced at Biana. Biana was raising an eyebrow at her brother. Keefe was staring at his feet and made no motion to acknowledge Sophie and Biana. That was weird. 

"Okay?" Sophie told Fitz, more of a question than an answer. 

Sophie could have sworn there was a flash of pain in Keefe's eyes as Fitz led her outside. 

"Is everything alright?" Sophie asked when they got out of earshot of Biana and Keefe. 

"Of course," Fitz said. Sophie frowned as she studied him. He seemed really nervous about something. "I just want to, I mean need to, tell you something."

Sophie waited, tilting her head at him quizzically. 

"I--" he paused nervously taking a step toward Sophie. "You're really amazing, Sophie. You're kind, brave, beautiful and I-" 

She froze, as the teal eyes she had swooned over for so long, burned with something Sophie had never seen before. There was definitely nervousness and maybe even a bit of love there. But it seemed conflicted. Too conflicted.

"I've never felt this way to anyone, before," he murmured softly. "I really really like you, Sophie."

Sophie felt something at the bottom of her gut, telling her something was wrong. But Sophie couldn't move, or even open her mouth to speak. She felt rooted to the spot, conflicted on what to do.

Fitz took another tentative step toward her.

Sophie didn't know what was wrong with her. The golden boy, a Vacker was standing in front of her, confessing his feelings. But...they had already tried this once...hadn't they? 

But Fitz was good. He just let his anger get the best of him sometimes. But she could forgive that, couldn't she? He wouldn't intentionally ever hurt her, right?

Fitz took one more step toward her, this time leaving only a few centimeters of a gap between them. Sophie couldn't think of anything to say, too distracted by his soft breath on her cheeks. 

And before Sophie could react, Fitz cupped her cheek, pressing his lips to hers. 

Sophie didn't feel anything. No spark. No hum. No connection between them. It was filled with an eerie emptiness that suffocated Sophie and squeezed her heart.

Sophie pulled away from Fitz, gasping for air. Sophie's body was shaking, and she felt horrible when she saw Fitz's pained expression. She jumped when she heard shuffling down the hall. She whipped her head towards the sound but couldn't see anything.

Sophie opened her mouth to say something, anything, to Fitz. An apology? An explanation? A second chance? But her voice seemed to fail her.

"I--" Sophie tried again. 

"Don't," Fitz muttered with anger and disappointment Sophie had never heard before. "Don't even bother."

"Look, Fitz," Sophie started wearily. "I'm sorry but--"

"You don't mean that," Fitz interrupted. He turned to look at her in the eye. "Are you really sorry?"

"I-" Sophie realized Fitz was right. She rejected him when she pulled away, and she would do it again if he tried to kiss her. They just weren't meant to be. "No," she admitted.

Fitz sighed, tearing his hands through his hair as he turned away. "I guess I was expecting that. I guess a part down inside me knew you didn't like me that way."

"I used to, you know," Sophie quietly. "But now...I just..."

"You don't have to explain," Fitz kicked the wall in frustration. He gritted his teeth and his hands were turned into fists. "Don't think I haven't noticed the way you and Keefe look at each other and all your inside jokes."

"What?!" Sophie asked blushing furiously. "It's not what you think! We are just really good friends!"

"That have inside jokes, make each other blush, and go to balls together," muttered Fitz. "You know I'm really  lucky to have a good best friend like him."

"Keefe is a good friend," snapped Sophie, anger now making her voice tremble. "He is kind, caring, and brave, and unlike some people he puts others in front of himself! He deserves the world and more!"

Fits pursed his lips. "You barely know him."

"There is a lot you don't know about me, Fitz," Sophie glared at him, seething with red hot anger. "But just know this, I don't care how you talk about me. But you won't ever, I mean ever, talk about ANY of my friends like that!"

Sophie whirled around, and stomped back to Biana's room not waiting to hear his answer.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

Sophie wanted to check on Keefe. But he had locked himself in the guest room and refused too let anyone him. Sophie felt horrible, but the least she could do was respect Keefe's wishes. If Keefe wanted to be left alone, he deserved to be left alone. 

Sophie wondered what had come over him. Did something happen between him and Biana? Biana seemed perfectly fine.

A thousand worries swirled through Sophie's mind as she pretended to fall asleep in Biana's bedroom. She was wearing her Disneyland watch, and ever tick seemed like an eternity. Sophie inhaled a deep breath when the hour hand reached the space between 11 and 12.

She got up quietly, careful not to wake Biana, and got dressed. She made sure to take daggers and knives. She sneaked out of Everglen as quiet as she could so she can teleport. She ran, channeling all her energy into her legs, opening up a void in the process. 

She landed softly at the Waderlings grove. She looked around, surprised by the absence of her and Dex's wanderings. 

"Sophie Foster," a voice called behind her back. Sophie whipped around holding a dagger in front of her. "No need for arms," Brad called coming out of the shadows. He took off his hood and raised his hand as if showing that he meant no trouble.

"What do you want, traitor," hissed Sophie.

Brad sighed, rubbing his temples. "Is that really what the rest of the Collective think?"

"Did you or did you not threaten my family and friends?" snapped Sophie.

"I couldn't exactly say that I was no danger with the Neverseen watching my every move!" shouted Brad.

"Why would you join them in the first place?" asked Sophie crossing her arms.

"They have my brother," murmured Brad.

"WHAT?!" cried Sophie.

"They have Jensi," Brad said his face in his hands. "They threatened to torture him if I didn't listen to them."

"But I thought Jensi was just visiting some relatives," Sophie stuttered as the truth dawned on her.

"That's what I made my parents believe," Brad sat watery-eyed. 

"I'm so sorry," Sophie mumbled. "I-I don't know what to say."

Brad sighed. "I'm going to try to play this double agent thing as best as I can. I asked you to come here to warn you that if they ever find out..."

Sophie grimaced. "We won't blame you if you rat us out to save your brother," Sophie said quietly.

Brad hung his head down. "The Neverseen won't share anything useful with me. But I'm slowly gaining the leader's trust. Her name is-"

"Lady Gisela," Sophie interrupted. "We know."

Brad's mouth fell open. Then he changed his mind and shook his head. "Don't tell me. You'll be safer. Now go before you get caught."

Sophie nodded taking out her light crystal and holding it up to the moonlight.

As soon as her feet landed outside Everglen's gate, she was tackled by a hug.

"What the-"she cried stumbling back. She froze when she realized who it was. "Keefe?"

"What were you thinking disappearing like that?!" Keefe cried. "Do you know how worried I was when I found your sleeping bag empty?!"

"I'm sorry Keefe," she said gently, wrapping her arms around his shivering body.

"No, I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I don't care if you're with Fitz or heck, even Bangs Boy. As long as you're happy, I'm happy.  I'm sorry I acted that way before."

"What are you talking about?" Sophie asked confused. "Me and Fitz aren't together."

"You aren't?" Keefe asked excitedly pulling back to look at her. "Er, I mean you aren't?" he stuttered trying to act nonchalantly. But Sophie didn't miss the relief that seeped into his eyes.

"Yeah," Sophie said suddenly fidgeting with her hands. Why did it feel so wrong to talk to Keefe about Fitz? "We decided that we're better friends."

"Are you alright?" Keefe asked looking very concerned. "Because I know how much Fitzypoo means to you and I can talk to him for you-"

"Keefe," Sophie interrupted. "I don't like Fitz that way. I realized I never really did. He's really more like a brother to me."

Keefe blinked. "He is?"

Sophie rolled her eyes at him. "Keefe, you're an empath!"

"Right," Keefe said nodding, a goofy smile starting to grow on his face. But then he suddenly frowned. "And don't think I'm going to forgive you for running off without me in the middle of the night! And you said was reckless!"

Sophie winced as she explained what happened to him.

"I can't believe it," Keefe said ripping his hands through his hair. "I knew my mom was horrible, but I never thought she had it in her to stoop this low."

"Hey," Sophie said pulling him into an embrace. "Family doesn't define who you are remember?" Keefe didn't respond as he buried his face in her hair."You're kind, strong, cute, brave, and an amazing friend, Keefe. That's all that matters."

Sophie could feel Keefe's smirk even without looking at him. "So the Mysterious Miss. F finally admits I'm cute, huh?" Sophie's cheeks burned.

"I mean-I meant- I-" Sophie stuttered. 

"Foster, Foster, Foster. I think you're cute too," Keefe laughed. Sophie's heart did a rebellious flip. Keefe Sencen thought she was cute! Keefe Sencen thought- Oh god. What was happening to her? 

"Keefe!" Sophie protested, flustered.

Keefe continued to laugh but pulled her closer to him. Sophie nuzzled against his chest and he ran his fingers through her hair. Sophie pretended to groan, but she knew Keefe could tell she didn't mind it. At all.

She enjoyed it. A little too much in her opinion.

And that night, under the millions of twinkling stars, Sophie realized that she would do anything, anything in the world to keep Keefe safe. 

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"Why are you guys dressed like that?" asked Sophie confused staring at the fancily dressed Grady and Edaline. She had just leapt to Havenfield after a dizzying school day at Foxfire.

Grady and Edaline exchanged timid glances. They didn't look too happy. "We're going to visit Brant," Edaline said slowly. "He is--he was the fiance of Jolie."

Sophie's eyes widened in horror. They were going to visit a murderer! "Wha--what? But--why?" she stuttered.

Grady sighed running his hands down his face. "We think it's time we help him move on. Just like we did. If Jolie was here, I'm sure it would break her heart to see him the way he is right now." 

Edaline put a soft hand on Sophie's shoulder. "We had the pleasure of bringing you into our home. You gave us joy that we thought we had lost forever. It's only fair Brant got to experience some as well."

Sophie was touched. She threw her arms around both of her parents. "I love you guys," she murmured.

Edaline and Grady wrapped their arms around her. "We love you too," Grady whispered. Words could not express how much Sophie cherished that moment. She knew what she had to do when the three of them pulled back.

"I'm coming," she decided. 

Grady's eyebrows shot up. "Are you sure?" He asked glancing uncertainly at Edaline.

"Yeah," Edaline said softly. "Brant is...troubled. It can be a little overwhelming at times."

"I'm sure," Sophie decided. "We are a family. We have to help each other."

Grady and Edaline blinked back happy tears. Both of them held out their hands to Sophie, and Grady raised a light leaper. The three of them glittered away, landing outside Brant's fireproof home.

Grady had barely raised his hand to knock when Brant threw open the door. Scars and burns decorated his skin. His jet black hair clung to his forehead from sweat. He was definitely on the move before the three of them got there.

His pale grey-blue eyes were like a hawk's, scanning them suspiciously, looking for its next meal. They stopped at Sophie, and his lips twitched. Sophie shuddered, from disgust or fear she couldn't tell.  But she refused to drop her gaze and looked him straight in the eye. Letting him know, that she was still more powerful than him. 

"My, my," Brant said. "What a surprise. You never visit except for once a year." He directed the question at Grady and Edaline, but his gaze never left Sophie. 

"Well, I thought we could change that," Edaline smiled timidly. She held out a batch of Ripplepuffs she was holding. "It's time for some changes anyway."

"And I don't suppose it has to do anything with the new addition?" Brant said tilting his head towards Sophie.

"I'm my own person, thank you very much," Sophie responded sharply. "And no, there is no vital information you need to know about me."

Brant growled at her. "I think that's for me to decide." Then his gaze travelled to the Reuwen pin she was wearing. Grady had given it to her a few days before. "And I don't think that belongs to you," he scowled lunging at her.

"Keep your hand off her!" Grady growled throwing Brant against a wall. Edaline had also gotten in Angry Mama Bear mode and was glaring at Brant. 

"I can't believe you of all people would fall for her innocent act," growled Brant. "She's a monster. A freak. She will be a curse on both of you!"

"You will NOT speak of my daughter that way!" exclaimed Edaline. 

"Daughter? Daughter?!" exclaimed Brant. "And pray tell me, what happened to your other daughter? Your real one?"

"I can't believe you have no shame of talking about her like that," said Sophie in a hoarse whisper. "After all, isn't it you're fault she isn't standing here, along with us right now?"

Brant's eyes became a shallow echo of what they were before. His whole body shook, and his lower lip trembled.

"What are you talking about?" whispered Grady his eyes wide.

"Go on," Sophie said taking a step toward Brant. "Tell them how you set fire to the house you knew Jolie was inside of in rage. Go on. Tell them. Tell them how your mind is not shattered in guilt from not rescuing Jolie, but setting fire in the first place."

"No..." whispered Edaline, tears pooling out of her eyes. She turned to Brant, her hands wrapped around herself. "Tell me you didn't!"

"You're fools," seethed Brant. "All of you are! Your stupid system is why I'm like this right now! Your laws are the reason the love of my life is gone!" He turned to Sophie his eyes aflame. "You! All my troubles will end when I destroy you!" He lunged at her, just as there was a flash of light behind him.

"No, you don't!" cried Keefe tackling Brant, before he could reach Sophie. Sophie gasped in surprise, stumbling back. Brant was thrashing wildly and Keefe had trouble keeping him down. "A little help right now would be appreciated!"

 Brant held out his hand and a column of everblaze erupted, blocking Sophie's way to Keefe. "Grady!" she cried.

Grady didn't need to be told twice. His eyes were flaming with anger and desire for revenge. He held his hand out, and Brant went limp. But the everblaze raged on, with Keefe stuck in the middle.

Sweat was running down Sophie's back. She had to get to Keefe before it was too late! She tried to run towards him, but a hand held Sophie back.

"Sophie, please," Edaline begged, tears now streaming down her face. "I can't lose another daughter!"

Sophie's throat went dry, but she couldn't help but glance at the ice-blue eyed boy that was so dear to her, that words could not express how much she needed him. Sophie shook her head sadly. "I'm sorry," she whispered, breaking out of Edaline's grasp. 

The last thing she heard was a choked sob as she ran toward the wall of flames.

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Smoke filled the air, blinding Sophie, and making her cough and hack. The familiar heat stung her skin and reminded her of the burns and scars she had gotten before. Her mind was screaming at her to get out of there. But her heart was telling her to go on. To rescue the one person in the world that made life worth living.

Sophie knew the house Brant lived in was fireproof. So using the energy she had left, she picked up the door and used it as a shield. Suddenly she heard coughing and hacking. She ran toward that sound. She gasped when she saw Keefe on the ground, on his hands and knees. A huge piece of rubble from Brant's house loomed over him, threatening to fall down at any minute. 

Sophie ran, and tackled Keefe, sending both of them rolling away, just as the rubble crashed down. Keefe gasped for breath, lying beside Sophie. His eyes threatened to close. Sophie was horrified when she saw burns and bloody scars on both his arms.

"Just hold on a little longer," Sophie pleaded scooping Keefe into her arms. "Please, don't leave me now. Not after all we've been through together!"

She gripped him close to her and did her best to stumble away from the dangerous flames of the everblaze. But she had used up most of her energy and the world around her became a dizzying mess. Everything blurred together and she couldn't walk in a straight line. She dropped to the ground, with Keefe still in her arms, as she felt the flames closing in on them. 

"I'm so sorry, Keefe," she whispered, her body shaking. "I'm sorry I couldn't be the hero you always believed I was."

The last thing she saw before the world turned black was a familiar wrinkly face looming over her.

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Sophie woke up to blinding light. She blinked a few times, confused before trying to get up.

"Oh you're up!" a familiar woman with dark hair and bright blue eyes came running to Sophie. She looked Sophie over and checked her vitals. Whatever she saw probably meant everything was fine as she took a step back with a happy smile.

"Physic?" Sophie asked, her mind still feeling fuzzy.

"Ohh," Physic smiled teasingly. "I assume that means Forkle has told you about me. I hope they were all good things!"

Sophie smiled, happy to be in familiar company. That reminded her about something else.

"Keefe?" Sophie asked urgently, trying to crane her neck and find the ice-blue eyed boy. She found him sleeping on a bed opposite to her. He looked so peaceful, that Sophie would have normally had not doubted anything was wrong.

"He's alright," Physic promised. But the burns and the faint scars decorating his arms spoke a different story. Tears pooled in Sophie's eyes just thinking about it. "He was just inhaled a lot more smoke than you, so he should be waking up soon."

Sophie hoped Grady had been able to hurt Brant bad for what he had done. That reminded her about something else. She finally took the time to look around at her setting and realized where they were.

"We're in Alluveterre?" she asked her eyes wide.

Physic nodded before putting a comforting hand on Sophie's shoulder. "You're safe here, don't worry."

"But..."Sophie said pulling at her hair. "But that would mean everyone back home would think that we're--"

"Dead," confirmed Physic with a sad smile. "I know it hurts to think about...but trust me. It's better for all of you this way."

Sophie sighed. Edaline's devastated face when Sophie ran into the flames, was still fresh in her memories. Sophie put her face in her hands. How would they ever get over losing another daughter?

Sophie also realized that something didn't add up.

"How did Mr.Forkle know that we were in trouble?" Sophie asked trying to fit the puzzle pieces together. "How did Keefe know for that matter?"

Physic sighed running her hand through her hair. "I don't know the details...but apparently blonde boy here heard from the kid with periwinkle eyes that you had gone to visit the pyrokinetic. I heard your mother is that kid's sister? Anyway, this boy immediately hailed Astin and informed him. But being reckless, he apparently decided to come to help you himself," Physic shook her head. "Brave or stupid, I can't tell."

"He saved me," Sophie whispered quietly.

"Hey, look at me," Physic said tucking a strand of hair behind Sophie's ear. "It's NOT you're fault. You can't blame yourself for what happened to your boy here."

Sophie nodded reluctantly, knowing she was couldn't risk her mind breaking from guilt. She was far too important to saving the world from the chaos it was doomed to. But she couldn't help from muttering, "He's not my boy."

Physic blinked surprised, before bursting out laughing. "The fact that that was the detail you noticed first says a great deal. And it does not support what you're saying."

Sophie was saved from replying when Mr.Forkle walked into the room. Physic glanced at him and walked out of the room when he gave her a curt nod. 

"I'm glad you're alright, Miss. Foster," he said solemnly after Physic left.

"Did you manage to capture...?" Sophie trailed off when Mr.Forkle winced.

"I can't say it was a total defeat for us, as Brant was captured," Mr.Forkle paused. "Just, not by us."

"The Council has him?" Sophie groaned. "They're never going to get anything done!"

"We can't underestimate them," Mr.Forkle sighed. "No matter how much I don't like it, it's at least worth seeing what they can do. We didn't have much luck with him last time, did we?"

Sophie sighed, sitting up and letting her legs dangle from her cot. She wanted to kick something. Why did everything have to be so frustrating?

"This actually brings me to the thing I've wanted to discuss with you for a while now," Mr.Forkle said dragging a chair next to Sophie's bed so he could sit down. "How did you manage to get the information about well everything we've worked to keep a secret for years?"

Sophie was about to respond when she frowned. "Wait, can't you just read my mind? I mean, you've never followed the rules of telepathy before."

"That's the problem," Mr.Forkle sighed rubbing his temples. "I can't see any trace of a memory that involves anything you talk about. Everything seems perfectly normal to me."

Sophie frowned. "Then, I don't think it's a good idea I tell you," she said slowly. "There has to be a good reason why you can't see. I don't want to take any chances by telling you. You've just got to trust I know what I'm doing."

"I've always trusted you, Moonlark, "Mr.Forkle sighed.

"Well, trust me more," Sophie insisted. She looked out the window. "Something tells me things are going to get so much harder."

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"Sophie?"

Sophie blinked groggily, still half asleep. 

"Foster, you there?"

Sophie's eyes flew open at the sound of the beloved nickname. She didn't mind the sunlight that blinded her, or how her body ached from sleeping in a chair for hours. All that mattered right now was the ice blue-eyed boy sitting upon his bed.

"Keefe! You're awake!" Sophie cried, launching up and throwing her arms around him. Sophie didn't even care that he was choking on air right now.

"Missed me, huh?" he choked out. Sophie pushed back from him so she could look him in the eye.

She slapped him. Hard. "Never, I mean, never do that again!" she yelled furious. 

"Fost-"He started. 

"You could have died, Keefe!" Sophie interrupted. "Why are you always so reckless?!"

"But-" He tried. 

"Of all the things?" Sophie continued ranting. "You tackle murderous pyrokinetic?!"

"You needed hel-"

"I can take care of myself!" exploded Sophie her eyes blazing. "I could have taken him down any second I wanted!"

"I-" he said his eyes pleading for her to listen.

"No, Keefe Sencen!" Sophie yelled. "I would forgive you for anything without a thought. But not this. Anything else could be fixed. Mended. But I can't bring you back from the dead, can I?!"

"Sophie," Keefe put a hand on her cheek. "It was my turn to be brave."

"Bravery isn't running to your death!" Sophie cried. But she didn't move away from his touch. "What would have happened if Mr.Forkle hadn't gotten us out of there in time?!"

"But he did," Keefe quietly. He looked down at his lap, not able to meet her eyes. "Sophie, I bring doom to all of you. I can't resist my legacy no matter how much I try."

"Alone you can't," Sophie said gripping his shaking hands tightly. "But together we can." When Keefe didn't look up, Sophie choked back a sob. "Keefe, I don't know if you remember, but once you asked me if I was afraid of you."

A single tear fell down Keefe's face. "I can never forget that day."

Sophie gently wiped away the tear, and put a hand on his cheek, forcing him to look at her. "I told you to figure it out yourself. I don't think you ever did."

Keefe's hollow gaze bore into her own. 

"I was afraid," Sophie continued. "But not of you. But from the thought of losing you." She paused, clutching Keefe like he was the only thing keeping her afloat. "I experienced the same feeling yesterday, Keefe. I never really thought I needed to explain to you how much you mean to me. I figured you're an empath, right?" She smiled sadly and pushed a lock of Keefe's golden blonde hair away from his eyes. "I guess the Unbelievable Keefe Oblivion beats the Great Foster Oblivion, huh?"

The end of Keefe's lips tugged up but was followed by a waterfall of tears. Sophie pulled him close to her, letting him rest his head on her shoulder. 

"Hey," she said soothing, stroking his hair tenderly. "Let it all out. It will help."

She could feel how fast his heart was beating, and she was surprised it didn't pop out of his chest. His sobs were filled with pain and sorrow, a sound that twisted Sophie's gut and squeezed her heart.

"You're always there for me, Foster," he said quietly after his sobs had faded down. "How can I ever thank you?"

"You can start by staying alive," Sophie sighed.

"Then it's a good thing I don't plan on dying," Keefe said a ghost of his usual smirk on his face, as he pulled back to look at her.

"No one plans on dying," argued Sophie, glaring at him. Her gaze then traveled to his arms. Physic had cleaned up the bruises and the scars had become faint. But they were still there as a promise to the havoc that still lied in front of them Sophie clenched her fists from just thinking about it. Anger threatened to boil over the top and even Keefe's calming breezes did little to calm her. 

"Sophie? You okay in there?" Physic asked running in. A smile stretched across her face when she saw Keefe sitting up. "I thought I heard voices!" Her eyebrows shot up when she realized the Keefe and Sophie were holding hands. "Sorry, did interrupt something?"

"Wha-what? No!" Sophie cried letting go of Keefe's hand and stumbling up off his bed. "There was nothing  in the first place to interrupt!"

"Riggghhttt, "Physic drawled out winking at Keefe, who grinned. Sophie shot him a death glare. "Your girl still seems to be in denial, I see?"

"I'm not his girl! Or anyone else's for that matter!" Sophie choked out. "I thought we went over this!"

"Aww, Foster," Keefe smirked. He ran his hand through his hair which was sticking to his face from sweat. "You were talking about me? Hopefully bragging about how awesome and amazing I am?"

Physic chuckled. "And besides, you told me he wasn't your boy. Who said it couldn't be the other way around?"

Sophie's cheeks flushed and she groaned. Keefe snickered, but if he was trying to cover up the pink that was blossoming in his cheeks, he wasn't doing a very good job. 

"Anyway," Keefe said probably wanting to change the subject. He fanned himself and for the first time Sophie started to notice how heated he seemed. "I don't know if  this is normal but I am really--"

"Hot?" asked Sophie frowning.

"Why, yes," he smirked and Sophie's cheeks burst on fire when she realized what she said. "I am really hot. Took you long enough to admit it, Foster."

Sophie was saved from replying when Physic rushed over to Keefe and looked him over. Whatever she saw was not good news, as her mouth fell open.

"Is everything alright?" Sophie asked now panicking. A thousand worries swirled in her mind.

"This is impossible," murmured Physic, rubbing her temples. 

"What is?" Keefe asked. Sophie could see he was trying to keep his cool, but his fidgeting hands spoke a whole new story. He also seemed really dizzy. From the heat or worry, Sophie couldn't tell.

"It looks like you're manifesting," breathed Physic, her eyes wide. 

-------------------

Sophie laid in her bed not being able to go to sleep. Her mind was clouded with worry and grief. Keefe was manifesting. Physic said it was a long process and it would take a few days to complete, and a few more days for us to realize what ability he got. 

Sophie wished she could tell Physic and Mr.Forkle about how Gisela had covered Keefe in shadowflux. Gisela had called it a transformation. It felt more like a sick experiment to Sophie. Keefe had been in coma for a terrifying week. Nothing had been off when he woke up, and everyone forgot about the experience soon.

A few months after that, the Neverseen had taken over the Council and won the public's favor. Sophie and everyone who supported her had become fugitives. The most wanted elves in the Lost Cities.

Sophie still had nightmares about that. When Sophie's eyelids finally started to droop, she heard whimpering. She shot up in her bed and pulled open her curtains, trying to find the source of the sound.

Keefe's curtains were drawn back, revealing to Sophie a thrashing Keefe. She realized that his eyes were closed, so he was probably having a nightmare. Her heart broke seeing him in this condition. She was about to throw stuff at his window to wake him up, but she remembered what he said about her not pitying him.

Sophie let out a choked sob when she saw a tear slip down Keefe's cheek. Then another. And another. That was it. She threw open her bedroom door and snuck to the boys' quarters. She didn't care if Keefe got mad at her, he needed her right now. Whether he knew it or not.

She opened his door quietly and wasn't surprised to see his room a mess. How he had gotten it in this condition when he was only there for a few hours was a mystery to Sophie. But her eyes were focused on the boy in front of her.

"Keefe," she whispered sitting on the foot of his bed.

"Don't ha-hate me," he begged, his eyes still close. "Please."

Sophie blinked back tears, "Keefe, wake up." 

"I'm sorry," he continued in a hoarse whisper. "So, so sorry. Don't leave me!"

Sophie reached over pushing a strand of hair out his eyes, "Keefe, please. It's just a dream."

Keefe's eyes shot open at her touch. He gasped when he saw her and bolted up in his bed.

"Foster?" He took a deep breath, trying to slow down his racing heart. "I knew I was irresistible but I never knew you would sneak out at the middle of the night to pay a visit to me." He smirked, even though it didn't reach his eyes. All traces of the tear-stained boy she caught a glimpse of earlier were gone. "Gigantor wouldn't approve of your actions, young lady." He said wagging a finger at her. 

"Keefe," she said reaching over to stroke his cheek. She tried not to notice how his breath caught or how his cheeks flushed. "You don't have to lie to me."

Keefe squinted his eyes. "I don't know what you're talking about." 

Sophie sighed. "We both know the truth. But," she said tenderness and warmth seeping into her voice. "you don't have to tell me. Just know that I'll always be there for you. Whether you need a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold on to, or just someone to talk to. Just remember you're not in this alone."

Keefe blinked, his face showing no emotion. Sophie dropped her hand and gave Keefe a sad smile to show him that she wasn't mad. She got up to leave when Keefe grabbed her hand.

"Wait," he said his voice straining. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment as he opened his mouth. "Can you stay?"

Sophie's eyes widened in surprise.

"Sorry," he said hurriedly trying to cover his face in his hands. "That was so stupid. Just forget I ever said that and-"

Sophie cut off the rest of his sentence by pulling him into an embrace. He gasped, surprised, before burying his face in the crook of her neck. Sophie smiled, stroking his hair and feeling his heart race. Before they both knew it, they were both asleep tangled in their sheets. It was the most peaceful sleep either of them had in a long time.

------------------------------------------------------------------

"You're not serious," Mr.Forkle looked at Sophie like she was insane.

She sighed and rubbed her temples. "For the tenth time, I am as serious as serious can be."

"Alright no need to get all Grumpypants, Foster," Keefe laughed. "But seriously, Forklenator. We're going to be fine."

"You want to go to a school for outlaws and fugitives," repeated Mr.Forkle running his hands down his face like he couldn't even wrap his mind around that idea. "Oh and everyone else thinks you're dead. And how could I forget that the Elvin world will fall into chaos if something happens to the Moonlark. Why should I be worried, again?"

"Did I just hear you pull of sarcasm?" Keefe grinned.

"Not the time, Keefe," Sophie hissed, elbowing Keefe. But she was secretly glad at how much better Keefe seemed that morning. Their night together must have really helped. Keefe looked so...so trouble-free when he was asleep (Not saying Sophie was staring at him while he was sleeping or anything). Sophie wished she could create a world where Keefe could be like that all the time.

"Foster, you still there?" Keefe said waving a hand in front of Sophie's face. Sophie blushed. If Keefe found out what she was thinking, there would be no bringing him back to the ground. "Interesting change in your emotions," he smirked. 

"Anyway," coughed Sophie trying to cover up her flushing cheeks. "We could gather a lot of information on the Neverseen. I heard a few members used to go there." It wasn't a total lie. It could always be useful. But the real reason Sophie wanted to go was to find Linh and Tam Song. Two close friends of hers in the other dimension. 

"But we can send other people to do that," protested Mr.Forkle. "Do you realize that if you go, you will officially be labeled as exiled?"

"That's not much different than being presumed dead," Sophie pointed out.  "And we could also train our skills there. We can be multitasking this way and take down the Neverseen once and for all."

"You're not going to let this go, are you?" Mr.Forkle sighed, rubbing his temples. 

"Nope," Sophie chirped, flashing her best 'I'm innocent' smile.

"Alright," Mr.Forkle relented. "But-" he interrupted before Sophie and Keefe could thank him.

"Of course there is a but," Sophie muttered. 

"You just said bu-" Keefe started to laugh but immediately shut up when Sophie shot a death glare at him.

"But I need you to give a full report on what happens every day," he said looking at both of them intently. "If I get even the slightest hunch that you're hiding something dangerous or acting recklessly, I won't allow you to take a step out of Alluvetere without extreme supervision."

Sophie winced, glancing at Keefe. He seemed to be equally conflicted. But when they locked gazes, they knew what they had to do.

"Fine," Sophie agreed reluctantly. 

"And there is one more thing I think you would like to see, " Mr.Forkle said pulling out a familiar ball from his cloak. 

"A spyball?"Keefe breathed.

Mr.Forkle nodded holding it out to Sophie. "I hope it can help console your hearts knowing your sacrifices were worth it. Your families are safe."

Sophie's hands shook as she took the ball. Keefe put his hand on top of her's giving her the boost she needed to whisper, "Show me Grady and Edaline Reuwen ."

"Is that my bedroom?" Sophie asked frowning when the ball changed. It took her a while to realize there was a lump in her bed. And the lump seemed to be moving.

Sophie gasped as she saw Grady enter her bedroom with a tray of food. 

"Eda," he whispered pulling back the covers to reveal Sophie's mom curled up, clutching Ella. "You can't keep doing this." His voice broke and a few tears rolled down his eyes.

Edaline refused to look up and acknowledge him as she tried to disappear deeper into the covers.

"We lost another daughter," Edaline choked out. 

Grady sat down on Sophie's bed, putting down the food tray he was holding. He wrapped his arms around Edaline, as both of them sobbed. Grieving for the loss of yet another daughter.

Sophie let out a choked sob and stumbled back. She could feel Keefe gently pry the spyball out of her grasp, and put his arms around her. Letting her fall apart on his shoulder but keeping her together. 

"We're going to go back when this is all over," Keefe promised. "It has to get worse before it can get better."

Sophie gulped and tried to reach out to grab the Spyball.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Keefe asked quietly.

"I have to," Sophie whispered. She clutched Keefe as the spyball flashed to show the different people she asked to see. Dex was blaming himself for telling Keefe. Fitz was locking himself in his room and shutting everyone out. Biana was bursting into tears every two minutes. Stina still seemed to be in shock.

Sophie felt her heartbreak, bit by bit, as she watched her friends trying to get over her death. Keefe's grip on her hand had tightened after every new person, reminding Sophie that she wasn't the only one who had to sacrifice.

Sophie glanced at Keefe intently when they finished checking all her friends and almost all the adults. Keefe blinked, and shook his head, getting what she was silently asking.

"There would be nothing to see," Keefe shrugged trying act nonchalantly. But Sophie could see the layers of sorrow behind it. "His statue of himself is probably worth to him more than I ever was."

Sophie's hands clenched into fists just thinking about Lord Cassius. He had denied Keefe the childhood he deserved. The funny thing was, Lord Cassius loved his son to pieces. He had admitted this when Sophie searched his mind to look for any clues Gisela would have left behind.

"Keefe," Sophie paused until he looked at her. "Everything your father did, the way he always acted, was out of the love he had for you. I know it sounds psychotic, but he really believed he was doing the right thing. I'm not saying he was a good father, just...give him a chance, alright?"

Keefe blinked, still unconvinced, but he still found the heart to mutter, "Show me Cassius Sencen."

Sophie bit her lip, wondering if she just made things worse for Keefe. But what appeared on the ball was so much worse than anything she could have ever imagined. 

In bright red letters, it said, Error. The person not found.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Keefe's POV

"He's gone."

It took a while for Keefe to realize that he was the one who had spoken the words.

Keefe's thoughts were incoherent and his mind was spinning in circles. The world around him was going fuzzy as those bright letter flashed again and again in his mind. It was warning. A threat. A promise of all the havoc the Neverseen was planning.

"Keefe--" Sophie put a hand on his shoulder, her beautiful brown eyes were wide with silent apologies. Not apologies. It was pity. For him. The broken boy that just lost the only family he had left. The only thing he had the right to call his own. His father. Gone. He may not have been a good one, but he was better than nothing.

"Stop," he interrupted holding up his hands as Sophie opened her mouth to probably give him a motivational speech about hugs and happiness. His voice was shaking along with his body. His eyes flashed with a million different negative emotions. "Don't say its going to be alright. Don't say everything is going to be fine. It's not, alright? It's not."

Keefe's heart twisted when Sophie swallowed down hurt. Her lower lip was trembling and the hurt and pain she was feeling enveloped Keefe like razor sharp knives.

"Keefe, please," she tried again gripping his shoulder tighter. Keefe wished he could lean back against her, and let her shield him from all the problems that life kept throwing at him. But he knew he didn't deserve to be comforted. Didn't deserve to be happy. Didn't deserve Sophie.

"I'm sorry," he blinked back tears as he moved away from her wrapping his arms around himself. "I need to be alone."

He wondered if he was making a huge mistake as he forced himself to rip his gaze from Sophie's devastated face. His eyes burned with unshed tears as he locked himself in his room.

He fell onto his bed, trying to disapear uder the covers. But the fluffy pillows felt like sandpaper againt his skin. His matress seemed to be a dark void, intent on swallowing him whole, emerging him into a world of darkness he was all too familiar with. He wished he could just blend in, not feel, not hurt anymore. Wouldn't life be a thousand times easier to juggle if he couldn't feel the pain from the thorns in each ball?

His hand brushed against the cover of a book he had almost forgotten about. His breath caught when he realized he was having one of the side effects described. He flipped through the old dusty pages of the book, stopping when he reached the chapter dedicated to Shadowflux.

Shadowflux acts like a weapon when used properly. Chills ran down Keefe's back as he tried not to think about what it would mean for him. Under the control of a person already exposed to it's radiation, it can seep into a being's body, taking away from them what makes them special. In the case for elves, it has the potential to take away their ability, skills, and potentially scar them for life. If it has been lost control over, it will seep the life out of it's victim.

Keefe gulped. If anyone, anyone, from the Blackswan or Council found out above this, Keefe would be done for. Keefe would be labeled as an outcast, a shame to the elvin kind, probably locked in a cell and held back by shackles. Keefe blinked. He barked out a laugh as a thousand possibilities ran through his mind, like a never ending chain of doom. A laugh he wasn't familiar with. It amused him that he cared about his reputation after he had mocked his dad for doing the same. Not that he could ever do that anymore.

He got up from his bed and stared at his reflection in a mirror nearby. A reflection he was no longer familiar with. He ran his hands down his face, which was deprived from any sort of emotion. His eyes had lost the usual spark in them. And his hair stuck to his forehead, losing it's usual unruly nature. But the part that scared him most, was that he was a total replica of the person his parents always wanted him to be. Both on the inside and outside.

No. No. NO! Keefe grabbed the mirror, throwing it onto the floor. The satisfying crack as it hit the ground did nothing to comfort him. Neither did the million useless shattered pieces of glass that resembled his broken heart so much.

No matter how much he searched, he couldn't't find the glue to hold them together. The only thing that healed him, was out of his reach. It always was and always would be. Then what worth is the pieces on the floor?

Keefe yelped out in pain as he walked across a piece of glass. His breath caught, as he gently pulled it out of his foot. The piece was broken, but it was still able to do harm to  those who crossed it. Keefe knew what he had to do as he cupped his hand, catching the blood that pooled out of his foot.

He tilted his hand, so a few drops would fall on the imparter he took out from his cloak's pocket.

There was a horrible screech as it struggled to connect with the imparter on the other end.

Keefe prayed that he was making the right decision as a voice he had grown dreaded to hear boomed from the imparter.

"Keefe?" Lady Gisela called. "Is it you?"

Part 2 is up now

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