Astrid and I watched Sophia and Flare converse from a distance, knowing it was about a power struggle. Finally, when it looked as if they were almost done, I walked over and told them it was time to go. Flare waved me off, mouthing,
"We'll be there in a minute" then turned her full attention back to Sophia. I stood there a moment watching, then turned and headed back to Astrid, who had a puzzled expression on her face.
"What?" I asked her, but she just shook her head and turned away, and began to head up the trail. I turned towards the Elite 4, but they were still packing up. I shrugged, then ran to catch up to Astrid, not wanting her to walk alone. She turned when she heard me, but stayed silent. Her face looked sullen, not at all like her usual self. "Astrid." I prodded, not wanting to be to forward. She stopped, turned to me and gave me a look that said that she didn't want to talk about it. Then we walked in silence.
We soon heard the others on the trail behind us, calling our names and telling us to wait up. We stopped and sat just a slight bit into the forest that lined the trail on either side. The others rushed up and dumped a few bags on us.
"Thanks." Astrid muttered. I looked at her, wide eyed, that was not her normal self at all. I put my hand on her arm, but she shrugged me off, slung a backpack over her shoulder, then left me at the back of the group. So much for best friends, I thought, then said, "I knew I wasn't ready for this!" Melody turned and came back to walk by me.
"What's up?" she asked me. I shrugged her off, just like Astrid shrugged me off. Not like me at all, I thought, then ran up to catch up with Astrid. I wasn't going to let my new best friend abandon me like I abandoned Joseph.
"I WON'T!" I cried. Astrid looked at me funny, then said,
"Won't what?" and for some reason I blurted out my last thought. She stared at me. "You're new best friend." she said thoughtfully, then. "Grace, that was different, he was dead, there was nothing you could do." paused (probably for dramatic effect), "and I would never abandon you." then we walked in a contented silence.
By the time we reached the summit it was nearly dark. We hiked a little ways into the forest, set up camp, and lay down for the night. We froze, not risking a fire for the sake of staying unseen.