Matt sat on the floor, staring in wonderment at the feather. His shirt had been ripped to pieces by the claws of the Celryn, and his wings were fully expanded now – they were almost three feet wide and two feet high, altogether.
“Matt, are you all right?” said Anna, looking at him in concern. His expression was surprised and thoughtful – she had never seen him like this, so indrawn, and so suddenly.
“Mmm?” he said. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine. Just looking at this … um … feather.” His preoccupied tone brought Anna over to sit by him, leaving a sofa half constructed. She too stared at the feather, which seemed so ordinary, and yet had a strangely compelling appearance.
“I’ll tell you what it looks like,” she said softly, looking at her friend, who was covered in odd-coloured blood, as well as the bright red liquid from his own veins, with his wings brushing the floor beside him and his eyes glowing with a strange golden light.
“What?” he replied, taking his eyes of it to look at her, with her singed clothes and hair, from where she had been hit by her own fire, and the rips in her t-shirt that showed altogether too much of her body, and the way her eyes were still shining with the magical green light that her powers gave her.
“It looks like your feathers, the ones in your wings,” she said. “But bigger, if you know what I mean.” Matt looked at it carefully, then at his own wings.
They were quiet for a few minutes trying to make sense of this conundrum.
“It’s an angel’s feather,” said Anna suddenly, breaking the silence. “Which means that voice we heard…?”
“What voice?” Matt asked her, puzzled.
“The one that came from the light – the one that spoke to me,” Anna said. “Didn’t you hear it?” Matt shook his head, confused.
“No – I think maybe it was only meant for you. But I know what you are asking, and I think that you’re right.” He looked at her with a great love in his eyes.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said. “To think that all this has happened to me, an ordinary girl … only I’m not ordinary, am I?” Matt shook his head.
“You are extraordinary, Anna, and never let any one tell you differently.” He grinned at her. “I mean that in the best of ways, obviously.”
Smiling back at him, Anna pulled at the cord around her neck. It supported a small cross, made of red glass.
“I ought to say thank you,” she said, and glanced at the garden. The snow was almost gone, partly because of Anna’s fire, but mostly caused by the sunlight that had filtered gently through the clouds throughout the day. Now night had fallen, and the stars were coming out. Snow had short-circuited most of the streetlights in the area – the stars were much easier to see now than they normally were.
Anna went outside and sat cross-legged on the grass. Her legs were bare and her t-shirt ripped, but her skin was warm with the power coursing through it. She looked up, leaning over and over until her head touched the ground. It was not the most comfortable of positions, but she was used to it.
Carefully, wary of getting insects crawling over her, Anna sent a message to the Earth around, warning any bugs to keep away. It was a useful skill, one that she was glad to have. Once, she had been stargazing, when a centipede crawled over her face, its legs touching her mouth, her eyes… Anna had never forgotten that day, and she did not want that to happen again.