This story (SoKeefe) takes place soon after Legacy ends. The story is finished, but thoughts or feedback would be appreciated. Enjoy!
Sophie sat next to Keefe’s limp form, staring sadly at his closed eyes. His hair was floppy and unstyled, a stark contrast to how he usually looked. Even though Elwin had said he was physically stable, and Bullhorn wasn’t anywhere near him, she couldn’t help worrying that something was wrong.
“Sophie, you know you need to take a break at some point.” Elwin gently reminded her, coming out of his office. “You haven’t slept, you’ve barely eaten, you’re doing worse than Keefe.” Sophie just shook her head, refusing to leave. It was true that she hadn’t left Keefe’s side in the days since he had been asleep, but she couldn’t bear to leave him. “Look at me Sophie. You need rest. Keefe wouldn’t want you to wreck yourself like this. If you don’t go home now and take a nap, I’m calling Edaline to bring you home.”
Slowly, Sophie stood up, her legs aching from sitting for so long. She found herself fighting back tears as she took one last look at Keefe’s still form.
“You promise you’ll hail me if anything changes?” she asked Elwin, and the physician just smiled, glad Sophie had listened to his advice.
“Of course. You’ll be the first to know. Now, go take the break you deserve.” he patted her on the back, and returned to his office without another word. Sophie walked out of the Healing Center and found Dex and Biana waiting outside, worried looks on their faces.
“We wanted to see how you were doing, but Sandor thought it would be best for us to wait outside,” Biana explained, motioning to the hulking goblin guarding the doors.
“Thanks,” Sophie mumbled. She really was thankful, deep inside, but right now all she wanted to do was fall asleep and forget everything, even if it was just for a little while. “I’m going to head home now.” she said, pushing past her friends and heading to the Leapmaster. They stood there for a moment, surprised, and then walked away, wishing they could do more to help their friend. Sandor caught up to Sophie, but didn’t say anything, which she appreciated. At least he had the common sense to not pity her like everyone else had.
When she arrived at Havenfield, Sophie brushed past Edaline and Grady, not wanting to talk with anyone. She walked into her room, but promptly walked right out again. She couldn’t handle all the memories that came with her bedroom. Of the few personal touches dotting her room, almost all of them reminded her of Keefe. The framed drawings of her family and friends sitting on her bookshelf. Her carpet, worn soft from so many hours spent pacing and plotting with him. Even Iggy, still dyed a striking shade of ice blue.
Ignoring her parent’s confused looks, Sophie ran outside, and found herself underneath the Panakes tree. Though this space was still filled with memories, some even more painful, at least Calla’s comforting song filled the air, calming her down. After an hour, Flori came over, and without Sophie even needing to ask, began singing a lullaby. In no time at all, her eyes began to droop, and soon she felt herself fall into sleep.
Her dreams turned into nightmares after only a few seconds, twisting and changing until they began replaying her memory of the attack on Loamnore. Only this time, she was trapped alongside Keefe, feeling him struggle as the magsidian enveloped them. As her vision darkened, she could hear his thoughts calling out to her.
“Foster! Foster? Sophie! Where are you?” his mind struggled, and the longer he called, the more desperate he sounded.
“I’m here!” Sophie projected. “Don’t worry, I’ll be with you no matter what.” But Keefe only repeated his pleas, not hearing her.
“Sophie? You said you would be here. You… promised.”
“I am!” she mentally screamed, but to no avail. All she could do was listen as Keefe’s cries grew quieter and quieter, until they were barely a whisper.
“I’ve tried so hard. I’m so tired now. I’m sorry Foster.” his mind grew eerily still, as if he was giving up. “Please don’t hate me.”
“No! No. No… Keefe! Come back!” Sophie began shouting again with renewed vigor, but there were no replies. She was all alone. “I could never hate you...” she sobbed, suddenly wrecked. She spent the rest of the night like that, in the darkness all alone, wishing he would come back. When she finally woke up, it was barely sunrise. Gingerly feeling her face, Sophie realized she was crying. When Sandor came over, having heard her movements, she offered no explanation other than a strangled, “Keefe…”
Soon after, Edaline came over, carrying a bright blue stuffed elephant and a snoring imp. She didn’t ask for an explanation, only handed Ella and Iggy to her and sat down. When Sophie didn’t say anything, Edaline wrapped her in a warm hug and offered to hail Elwin or get sedatives. Sophie didn’t protest, despite a small part of her that argued. Edaline frowned, but didn’t question it as she left to get a cup of slumberberry tea.
Several hours later, Sophie groggily opened her eyes. For a moment she almost felt normal, but a wave of worry washed all of the blissful peace away. Sophie was about to curl up and ignore the real world for a little while longer when she heard her Imparter ring. Looking over, she realized it was Fitz calling her. She contemplated answering, but things had been so awkward between them ever since she had asked to be just friends. She knew they were Cognates, but imagining talking to him about Keefe just felt wrong. Instead, she just let it ring, until FItz eventually gave up.
On autopilot, Sophie went to her room and changed into new clothes, not caring what she put on. After she was dressed, she sat on the edge of her bed, staring at the wall. When Grady and Edaline came in carrying a plate of food, she barely acknowledged them, not looking away from a fixed point.
“Sophie?” Grady asked, “Are you okay kiddo?”
“Huh?” she asked, finally looking up.
“Are you okay?” She thought about how to answer that. No, she wasn’t hurt or sick, but she wasn’t okay. Ever since Keefe had been put in a coma, she hadn’t been okay. Her head felt cloudy, none of her thoughts clear. She walked through life in a haze, barely noticing anything. Her emotions felt different as well, dull and painful, a weight on her chest that never went away. Even when she wasn’t actively thinking about Keefe, his lack of presence was like a dark cloud hanging over her head, drowning out anything positive that happened.
“I’m fine.” she just replied. It wasn’t worth the time to explain how she really felt, and besides, Grady wouldn’t understand anyway.
“We both know that’s not true, but if you don’t want to talk about it with us, we understand.” Edaline commented at the same moment Grady said,
“Is it about That Boy?” Hearing him talk about Keefe made Sophie’s head hurt, like saying his name, or even implying it, would unleash a flood of thoughts and emotions she didn’t have the capacity or time to handle. Not answering Grady, she just got up and started walking out of her room, intending to leap somewhere, anywhere at all. Grady started to call out to her, but stopped when Edaline put a hand on his shoulder. With her parents allowing her to leave, she only had one more obstacle before she could get away.
“There’s no way I’m letting you leap anywhere in your current state, Miss Foster,” Sandor stood protectively in front of the Leapmaster, and he didn’t look at all ready to budge. “You’ve barely slept, you haven’t eaten at all, and frankly, you’re a mess. Elwin sent you home to recuperate, not toss and turn for a day before heading right back to the Healing Center.”
“I’m not going to see Keefe, I’m…” Sophie trailed off when she realized she was, at least subconsciously, planning to see her friend. “Okay, maybe I was going to see him. But he’s my friend, I can’t just ignore him!”
“I won’t deny that you and the Sencen boy have a special relationship, but he’s not the person I’m worrying about. If you continue on this path, you’ll become a hazard to yourself, Miss Foster. Please, just be reasonable.”
Sophie wanted to argue, say that without Keefe, she couldn’t be herself, couldn’t feel whole or complete. Those words were too hard to say though, thoughts that she had tried to ignore and push away for so long.
“I just have to see him. I can’t say why, I just do.” How could she explain the way seeing him, even asleep and unresponsive, made her feel? The way her heart always pounded when he teased her, and the empty space that had been created in the days since he had been gone.
“Let her go, Sandor,” someone said from behind them. Sophie’s surprise, recognized Grady’s voice. “You know as well as I do how I feel about That Boy, but keeping Sophie away from him isn’t going to make anything better,” he continued, motioning for her bodyguard to step away from the Leapmaster. “If Sophie says she needs to see him, then who are we to say no? Foxfire,” he called out, and the crystals hanging from the ceiling spun, twinkling in the sunlight.
Sophie was about to step into the light and get away from this whole mess when Grady held out his hand.
“One second. Just because we’re letting you go doesn’t mean you can just leave. If we’re going to be able to trust you, you need to agree to a few rules. First,” he continued, and Sophie wondered how long this would take. “I want you to stay with Sandor and your other bodyguards. Second, you will come home by the end of the day. Third,” he paused, bending down to look Sophie in the eye, “if you ever have to choose between you and Keefe, I want you to be able to choose yourself. Don’t give your life up for him. Please.” Grady finished with a plea, then stood up and stepped away from the light. With a grateful nod, Sophie gritted her teeth and prepared to go back to Foxfire.
Looking around the bright, open halls of the main building, Sophie noticed students of all ages, scurrying to and from the different classrooms. Of course people had classes. In fact, she had some of her own, which she remembered just as a familiar form strode in her direction.
“Tiergan!” she greeted as he walked closer, “Hi.”
“Hello Miss Foster,” he replied, “Will I see you in class today? Or should I assume you’ll be in the Healing Center?”
“I’ll probably be with Keefe,” she admitted, “It doesn’t feel right to be going to classes when he can’t.”
“I understand. Hopefully we will meet again soon in better circumstances,” Tiergan said, and then walked away, leaving Sophie alone in the crowded hall. Ignoring the glances and stares of her fellow prodigies, she quickly began walking to the Healing Center, only looking up from her feet to check where she was. But after several long minutes of wandering, she finally stopped, paying attention to her location. Instead of being at the doors of the Healing Center, Sophie found herself in an empty corridor, familiar white walls stretching out in either direction.
“Miss Foster?” Sandor asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” she answered, shaking her head, trying to think clearly, “I’m alright.” She almost believed herself as she kept going, repeating the words in her mind as if they would become truer the more she said them. It didn’t matter if seeing Keefe’s ditching spot, the place where they had met, made Sophie want to start crying. She was just grieving, working through her emotions. Keefe was a close friend, so it made sense that she was upset. Somehow, she would find a way to help him.
It only took a little bit longer to reach the Healing Center, and by the time they had gotten there, Sophie had made up her mind. She wasn’t going to spend any more time wallowing in self-despair. Keefe wouldn’t have wanted that anyway. Instead, she was going to figure out how to wake him up. The only problem was, she had no idea where to start.
“Has anything changed?” she called out to Elwin, who emerged from his office upon hearing her voice.
“Nothing. He’s not sick, or in any sort of physical pain, he’s just… asleep. It’s really the weirdest thing,” he remarked, walking over to Keefe’s bedside and flashing multicolored lights all over his body, “There’s no cell damage, or anything I can see. Whatever’s happening, it’s all inside his mind.”
Sophie sat down on the end of the bed, thinking. She had already checked his mind before. All she had seen were his dreams, visions of floating, talking food and strange creatures. Nothing that told them anything about his condition. But since she had no better ideas, Sophie opened herself to Keefe, and let her consciousness enter his mind.
She was expecting Keefe to be dreaming, and braced herself for another kooky display of his imagination, but she instead found herself in a memory. It was one she had experienced herself, but she had never seen it from Keefe’s point of view. He was running down the beach beside the building that had housed the Peace Summit, shouting and calling her name. She had been talking with him telepathically when the shaking had started, and he had found her and Edaline in a cave several hours later. But she hadn’t known how hard or how long he had searched, and the fear and worry that came with the memory was enough to make Sophie’s stomach turn.
The relief that came when he finally found them was just as strong. Waves upon waves of equal parts happiness and guilt flooded through Sophie, but she kept watching as the memory progressed. She looked worse than she remembered, her face bloody and bruised. But Keefe didn’t seem to notice any of her injuries as he sunk to his knees, tears streaming down his cheeks.
“You’re alive. You’re alive. Oh, you’re alive!” he repeated over and over again, giving Sophie the time to better examine the scene. She was lying passed out against the rock wall, and Edaline sat slumped a few feet away. Nothing looked any different than her memory of that day, until her form began to stir. When she opened her eyes, and Keefe ran over to support her, Sophie noticed that something about her face didn’t seem quite right. Instead of just her normal chocolatey brown eyes, the memory highlighted the golden flecks that peppered her irises, making her whole face glow.
The memory faded away, and a new one began. Sophie sat and observed memory after memory of Keefe’s and a pattern started to emerge. Every memory being played had Sophie in it, some in person, and some with simply her voice in his mind. And in every memory, her eyes were awash in a beautiful gold. The eyes she always hated for being different, looking so pretty and unique. That was the way Keefe saw them, Sophie realized.
As yet another memory ran through Keefe’s mind, her own began to wander. It was interesting how he saw her eyes, all gold and sparkly, not at all boring or flat like she always believed. Brown eyes, but accented with gold. Wait… gold.
Sophie slammed back into her own mind as memories flooded through her head, connections being made so fast it was impossible to make sense of them all. But after a couple of seconds, she came to a realization. All of Keefe’s gilded memories, the notebook he had kept hidden, they all had something to do with her. And she had to find out what they said. If there was even the slightest chance that the gold notebook might hold information that could help Keefe, it was worth whatever he would think of her when he woke up.
“Ro?” Sophie called out to Keefe’s ogre bodyguard, who sat half asleep in a chair on the opposite side of the room. But she was only lightly dozing, because she awoke immediately, not needing any more prodding.
“Yeah? What is it, Blondie? Has anything changed?” she gave a quick glance over in Keefe’s direction, and then added, “Obviously, nothing has, so what do you need? It better be something important, or you’ll have woken me up for nothing.”
“It’s… hard to explain,” Sophie started, not sure how much to say, “But I need to find something, and it happens to be in the Shore of Solace.”
“Oh, you’re going to need to be a lot more specific than that. Unless, of course, this trip would involve taking something from Lord Hunkhair’s Daddy Dearest.”
“No, it doesn’t. But while I was in Keefe’s mind, I noticed a pattern in his memories. Somehow, I get the feeling that there’s something important in that gold notebook of his, and I’m hoping it’s something that could help us wake him up. Do you know anything about what he might have written in there?” Sophie decided to hide the fact that the notebook was about her, instead focusing on the hope that there might be a way to save Keefe.
Ro stayed quiet for a while, as if she was deciding what to say. Finally, she replied, “Okay, I’ll help you find the notebook, but I can’t be away from here for too long. And you get to deal with convincing Sandor to let you go. She stood, and Sophie followed suit, getting up and walking towards the door. Sparing only a second to look back at Keefe, Sophie instead focused on her plan to help him. Even if she felt bad looking through his personal belongings.
It was surprisingly easy to convince Sandor to let her go. He did, however, demand to come along. Sophie thought about arguing, but decided it would be easier if she just let him come along. The three of them held hands, and as she let the light wash through her, she felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time. Hope.
But by the time they had arrived at the Shores of Solace, Sophie had found a problem with their plan. A big problem.
“What are you doing here, Miss Foster?” Lord Cassius loomed over her, and Sandor bristled, moving closer to his charge.
“If you threaten my ward…”
“No worries, I’m not going to do anything. I just want to know what Miss Foster is doing at my doorstep in the middle of the day.”
“I… I need to find something of Keefe’s, and I’m pretty sure it’s in his room.” Sophie explained, even more hesitant than ever to fully explain her motives.
“And this thing is so important that you find it necessary to show up at my house unannounced, only giving me a sentence of explanation. I think not.”
Sophie groaned internally, wondering why she had thought this would be easy. “It’s hard to explain, but I was looking through Keefe’s memories, and noticed something I hope can help wake him up. But it’s in his room, so it would be great if you could let us in.”
“Very well. But I hope you will share whatever you find with me. I know my son and I never got along very well, but I do care for him. If you think whatever you’re going to find could help Keefe, then I will support it.” he stepped aside, allowing the three of them to enter the house. As an afterthought, he added, “And Ro? I’m going to ignore the fact that you’re not with my son right now.”
Ro ignored him, instead leading Sophie and Sandor down a hallway to Keefe’s room. She opened the door, ushering them in quickly and closing the door behind them, shutting Lord Cassius out.
“It… Hasn’t changed.” Sophie breathed. The room was alive with Keefe, even if he barely used it. Half done sketches littered the floor, and his bed wasn’t even made, which just reminded her of him lying stiffly in a Healing Center cot.
“Okay, so where might this notebook be?” Ro asked, interrupting Sophie’s thoughts and keeping her from spiraling even further.
“I honestly have no idea. I’ve never really been here a lot, so I dunno. Maybe we just start looking?” The three of them started rummaging around the room, but it took another half hour before anyone found anything.
“Look at this, come over here!” Sophie ran over to where Ro was sitting, leaning underneath the desk. “I think there’s some sort of secret compartment under here.”
Sophie peered under the desk, and found that there was indeed a secret drawer. From the top of the desk, it looked flat, but underneath, there was a small bump out. After another few minutes of searching, she was able to find the locking mechanism, and with the help of Sandor and Ro, it only took a moment to unlock the compartment.
Inside was a small empty space, only large enough to hold a couple small items. But right now, there was only one thing, a thin notebook, gold and reflective, an object she had only seen once. With a tentative hand, she pulled the notebook out, bringing it into the light. It was brighter and more metallic than she remembered, it’s shiny hues calling out to her, but maybe that was simply her imagination.
“Should we wait to read it later?” she wondered aloud, and she was expecting Ro to reply, but Sandor spoke first.
“Normally, I would advise you to be patient, but in this case, I can see the merits of not waiting any longer. Take a look inside.”
Cautiously, Sophie opened the book to the first page. Emotions swirled inside her, confusing her mind, Excitement, worry, guilt, even. But she had to find out what it said.
“That’s not writing,” she mumbled, staring at the page in shock. It was a painting. A sketch, really, done in pencil, but with all the quality and care that one would give a masterpiece. And it was of her. Sitting on her floor, hands tangled in the soft petals of her carpet. It was a scene from one of their many plotting sessions, times Sophie missed more and more every day. Even though she had made the connection between herself and the notebook, she hadn’t realized quite how literal the connection was.
“They’re all drawings. Drawings of me.”
“Yeah, Keefe spent quite some time on those sketches, probably even more than he did on any of his other art,” Ro cut in. “He never let me see them though.” She picked the book up out of Sophie’s hands, and started flipping through the pages. Sure enough, each and every page was filled with drawings. Most were of Sophie alone, but in some Keefe had added himself, and there were even a few with all of their friends. She also noticed that Fitz was eerily absent in all of the sketches.
“Wait. You knew the notebook just had drawings? Why would you let us get our hopes up?” Sophie’s heart sank the more pages they went through, each and every one of them full of painstakingly perfect sketches, art that had no way of helping Keefe.
“I told you, I had never actually seen what was in here. I was just as oblivious as you were.” Ro countered, sounding defensive.
“But you knew there was no chance. You knew they were just drawings. You knew. And you didn’t think to tell us.” She felt herself grow cold and angry, but at that point she was too far lost to care. “All I want is for Keefe to get better, and here you are, messing with my emotions, hiding things and—”
“Wait!” Sandor interrupted. While Sophie and Ro had begun arguing, he had picked up the book and began looking through it. “There’s a page here in the end. It’s a letter. To you.”
Sophie grabbed the sketchbook out of his hands, ready to read the words, but when she moved to start reading, she stopped. Something about this letter felt personal, private. She doubted Keefe had ever meant for her to see it, and looking at it anyway just seemed like betraying his trust.
“Are you going to read it?” Ro peered over Sophie’s shoulder, and she moved to block the writing from the ogre’s view.
“I… don’t know.”
“We came here to find something to help Keefe, and now that you finally have the chance to save him, you’re not sure?”
Sophie wanted to argue, get angry again, but she couldn’t make herself. Instead, a lone tear slid down her face, landing with a splash on the paper. Soon, more followed, until she was quietly sobbing on the floor of Keefe’s room.
“I just don’t know. On one hand, I should be grateful we even found this thing, and I should be happy to read it, happy we have a chance at saving him. But on the other hand,” she paused, looking down at the notebook, “I don’t think this is going to be anything useful. Nothing else in the book has been, so why would this be? And it’s Keefe’s property, and we just barged into his room and took it, and none of this feels right. So yeah, I don’t know.”
“None of us can make you read it. If you don’t want to know what’s inside, then I promise we won’t try to read it either. But I have to let you know. I have a feeling about what Keefe wrote in that letter, and even if it doesn’t end up saving him, it’s something I know he’s wanted to tell you for a while. And now, I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to tell you. So I think he’d want you to read it, want you to know what it says. But the final choice is up to you.”
Sophie’s mind churned with tens of hundreds of thoughts, thousands of possibilities of what to do. But none of them ended well. There was the easy option, of course. Just put the notebook back in its’ secret cubby, tell Lord Cassius they didn’t find anything, forget about the letter. She would find another way to help Keefe, and she wouldn’t have to worry about his reaction when he woke up. But there was another option. She could read the letter, find out what Keefe had wanted to tell her for so long. And hope it would somehow save him.
“I have to do this.” She was surprised at how confident she sounded, but the more Sophie thought about it, the more she realized she did truly believe she had to read it. “I can’t just ignore this letter, if there’s even a chance it could help wake Keefe up, then I have to read what it says.”
Slowly, Sophie looked down at the letter. It was only a page long, written in the messy cramped handwriting that Sophie had come to recognize. Taking one last deep breath, she prepared to find out what Keefe wanted her to know.
Chances are, you’ll never read this. But I have to write it down anyway. You see, for the longest time, I’ve held this as my deepest secret, but I can’t hide it anymore. I’m writing this as we, no, as you prepare to face the Neverseen at Loamnore. But what you don’t know is that I’m coming too. You can’t stop me. But if you’re reading this, it’s too late. I failed. And I’ve done what I vowed I’d never do again. I’ve failed you.
So if you’re reading this, I want you to know: I love you. As more than a friend, obviously. But you’re our lovably oblivious Foster, so I figure I may as well make it clear. I’ve loved you since the day we met, when you bumped into me by chance. It’s been so many years since then, and so much has changed. But my feelings for you haven’t.
When I joined the Neverseen, you forgave me. When I did dangerous, horrible things to stay undercover, you understood. And when I finally left them, you accepted me again immediately. Without you, I never would’ve had the strength to make those hard decisions. Every time I made a mistake, I thought about how much it would hurt you. But you never gave up on me. Here I am, making what is probably another mistake, most likely the biggest one I’ve ever made. And all I can think about is how it’s going to make you feel.
I’m not asking you to love me. I know how you feel about Fitz. I’m not asking you to forgive me. I’ve done so many things wrong, and everyone has a breaking point. I’m not asking you to understand why I made the decisions I did, or anything like that. All I’m asking is that you don’t hate me. Because if you did, I don’t think I could handle it.
I don’t know how this standoff is going to go. For all I know, we’ll defeat the Neverseen and you’ll never read this. But if you are… Well, all I can say is… I’m sorry. For everything.
Sophie stared at the single page in shock, her body shutting down. The thoughts and feelings she had kept locked up in the back of her mind were all coming out now, and there was no way to stop them. All her worries and fears, but not just them. The awkward moments, the feelings she had taken and hidden away so she wouldn’t have to deal with them. Because Keefe was right, wasn’t he? She liked Fitz. Sure, they had technically broken up, but it was only a matter of time before they fixed things. But now, she couldn’t stop thinking what could've been if she hadn’t been so in denial.
“You knew about this? How Keefe… felt?” Sophie asked Ro, not meeting her eyes.
“I did. Though he never outright told me, it was pretty obvious.”
“It was. But he tried to hide it. More than anything, Keefe wanted to keep his friendship with you intact, even if it meant never revealing his true feelings. He’s an Empath, Sophie. He knew how you felt about Fitz, and he wasn’t going to risk your happiness for anything, even if it hurt him in the end.”
“All this time?” Sophie grappled with the fact that Keefe had been hiding this for so long. All those tense moments, the times it felt like something was close to happening, but never actually did. And now… it was too late. “And this isn’t going to wake him up. We came here to help him, and all we found was a letter that didn’t tell us anything we could use.”
“I’m sorry, Sophie. I wish he had been able to tell you in person.” Ro tried to wrap her arm around Sophie, but she moved away, not wanting to be comforted.
“No, no, no. This isn’t how it goes, this is all wrong. He’s supposed to be awake, he’s supposed to tell me this, but he can’t, and it’s all my fault. It’s my fault he couldn’t fight, and that he’s still asleep, and, and, it just doesn’t make sense.” Sophie could feel herself slowly sinking into a pit of despair and grief even deeper than before. Because this time? She blamed herself.
“Sophie. Stop. No, listen to me. Look at me, okay?” Sophie avoided Sandor’s intense gaze, but he paused until she looked up at him. “None of this is your fault. And if you keep thinking it is, I’m bringing you to Elwin.”
“How can you say it’s not my fault, when it so obviously is?” Normally, she would try to stop these thoughts, but this time she didn’t. “If I had known what Keefe was going to do, or if I had helped him against his mom, or if I had known how to save him, none of this would be happening.”
“That’s it, I’m taking you to the Healing Center.” Sandor stood up, dragging Sophie with him.They walked out to The Leapmaster in the front room, ignoring the strange looks they were getting from Lord Cassius.
When they arrived at Foxfire, Sophie was glad to see that everyone was in their classes. Even in her state of despair, she didn’t want anyone seeing her like this. Her eyes were red and blotchy from crying, and she could tell her hair had gotten matted. Sandor marched her down the quiet halls, Ro following, and Sophie allowed herself to be half lead, half carried to the Healing Center.
“Sophie? What’s wrong?” Elwin was tending to a younger student when she walked in, but he quickly finished up and came over, looking at her with a worried look on his face. “Did something happen?”
“N-no. Not really.” Sophie mumbled, wiping fresh tears that had appeared in the corner of her eyes.
“Then why do you look so upset?”
“We… We found a notebook, something that I thought might hold something of use to us, something that might help Keefe, but it wasn’t anything useful.” Even though he was asleep, it didn’t feel right to share his secret with everyone.
“She was blaming herself for everything that happened, and I wanted to make sure she was okay,” Sandor explained.
“Well, guilt and mental problems aren’t my area of expertise, so if you start to feel like this is all your fault, hail Tiergan. But you seem to be holding it together all right, so I’m not too worried right now.” He did a quick inspection of her, flashing colored lights over her body, and then continued, “At least you’re awake, unlike Keefe.”
Sophie knew he regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth, but it was too late. The words burrowed under her skin, reminding her over and over again of her shortcomings, the times she had failed and all the horrible consequences of those mistakes.
“Wait, no, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant, you know that right?” Elwin tried to backtrack, explain what he meant, “Sophie? I’m gonna get something to help you calm down,okay?” He said before walking away, but Sophie didn’t hear him anymore. All she could hear were Keefe’s mental pleas for help as he was covered in magsidian, and his last words as his mind grew quiet and still.
“I’m so sorry Keefe, you know that right?” she whispered, walking to his bedside as if in a daze. “I tried to help you, but I couldn’t do enough.” She switched to thinking, projecting her apology outward into his silent mind. “I tried, and I tried and I’ll keep trying, but it’s so hard. But I will keep going. Because I miss you Keefe, more than I’ve ever missed anyone before. It took losing you to realize, but I don’t think I can keep going without you.” Sophie was crying now, tears dripping down her face, but she kept going, ignoring them. “There’s one more thing I need you to know. Keefe, I found your notebook, and I saw what was inside. I know, Keefe, and we need to talk. I need you to wake up. I need you.”
With those final words, Sophie quieted down, sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to stop crying and focus on what to do next. So much so, that she almost missed what happened next.
“Sophie?” Keefe croaked, eye still half shut. Forgetting that a moment ago he had been in a coma, Sophie hugged him so tight she could feel his heart beating, not caring if it hurt him.
“Keefe? How… how are you even awake?”
“You tell me Foster. Last thing I know, I was being tortured by my mother, and then I just kinda... got stuck in my own mind or something? I had a lot of dreams, but nothing else happened. Then I start hearing you, and you’re talking about my notebook, and— wait. You found my notebook?”
“I pieced everything together after I saw something in one of your dreams. I’m sorry Keefe, if I had known what was in them I never would have read them without your permission.” Sophie felt the need to apologize, hoping in some way it would make things okay between them.
“Sophie, it’s okay. You don’t have to apologize to me. If I was in your situation, I would have done the same thing.”
“You shouldn’t have to be comforting me. I read your private thoughts, I should be the one making things up to you.”
“No, stop blaming yourself for everything. It was an impossible situation, and you did what you had to do. And if you hadn’t, well, who knows if I would even be awake right now.” He tried to crack a smile, but it faded after a few seconds.
“So… Was everything you wrote true?” Sophie felt awkward asking, but she had to know the answer.
“Yeah, it was.” Keefe didn’t meet her eyes, but his tone was sincere. She didn’t know if it felt better knowing the truth, but it was too late to take the question back. “Look, I understand if you don’t feel the same way about me, I know what it’s like between you and Fitz-”
“Me and Fitz aren’t together anymore, and I don’t think we’re getting together again.” Sophie didn’t know why she felt the need to correct him, but it felt important.
“Oh. Well, my point still stands. I am your friend first and foremost, and I’d rather you just tell me how you feel now so we can move on.”
“Keefe. I don’t know how much of what I said you heard before you woke up, but I’ll say again. When you were gone, I realized just how much you mean to me. I’ve always taken for granted that you’ll always be here for me, that when you suddenly weren’t, I couldn’t function. I fell apart. And I don’t want to lose you again. Because I need you Keefe, I really do. You’re one of my closest friends, and I think that maybe,” she paused, trying to gather the courage to say the words, “we could also be more than friends.”
“Really?” Keefe asked, his eyes lighting up. “You mean that?”
“Yeah I—” That was all Sophie could mutter before Keefe cut her off with a kiss. Unlike the one she shared with Dex, this was anything but awkward. Her worries and doubts about her feelings disappeared as she forgot about the hardships of the past few days. Keefe was awake now, and everything was the way it was meant to be.
They were soon interrupted by Ro, who started clapping slowly.
“Wow, Lord Hunkyhair. It only took what, almost dying to win over Blondie? Why didn’t you just try that earlier, instead of sulking for months on end.”
“Ro! Seriously, read the room.” Keefe’s annoyed expression made Sophie want to laugh, but she held it in.
“Fine, fine. I’ll let you two lovebirds be alone. But don’t be surprised when Elwin breaks up your little reunion in about five minutes.” With that, she sauntered out of the Healing Center, leaving Keefe and Sophie alone, at least temporarily.
“Wow. I just… wow.” Keefe mumbled, and Sophie nodded, understanding what he was trying to say. Just a few hours ago, she thought all hope was lost. But now? She was ready to face anything. As long as she had her friends by her side, nothing could bring her down.
“I love you,” she mumbled, sitting down beside Keefe, “I really do.”