Anna struggled through her first day back at school. She didn’t know what was harder - having to endure the sympathetic faces of her classmates and teachers or having to restrain her powers, which threatened to burst out of her at any moment.
She didn’t want them to tell her that they were sorry her parents had died. It wasn’t their fault - that was a ridiculous thing to say. And anyway, she wasn’t sorry for it. It was a shame, and she missed them, and if she could go back in time she would change it - that wasn’t what she meant. But they had to die: if they hadn’t, the whole universe would have gone that way instead.
But it was keeping her powers under control, she decided, which was the most difficult. During her Greek lesson she was sorely tempted to do the entire thing by magic; during PE they were doing cross-country, and she was desperate just to fly or teleport half way. However, it was when they came to assembly that her patience was really tried.
“Now, girls,” said the head teacher - for this was a girls’ school - standing up in front of two hundred or so pupils. “I’d like you all to welcome back Anna, who has been away from us for a few weeks. She’s had a difficult time recently, and I would hope that you would all support her through the coming months.”
Anna flushed bright red.
“Would you like to tell us something about what happened to you?” said her form tutor. Anna shook her head and almost left it at that when she suddenly decided. She stood up.
“Yes,” she stated. “I’ll tell you the truth.” Every eye was riveted on her as she began to speak; every face was upturned, listening. Anna held up her palm, and dancing in her milky white hand was a flame. A few gasps indicated her class-mates’ surprise, but Anna hid her smile.
“My parents were murdered. Not in the ‘sneaking indoors in the middle of the night’ sort of murder. More the ‘let’s torture and kill these two humans to try and make their daughter do what we want her to’ sort of murder. You may well be shocked, but it’s the truth.” Anna went on to explain about the Celryn, finishing with her own powers, the final fight against the strange alien-demon creatures, and the truth about how her parents had died.
Some of the girls were looking quite green.
“Is this all true?” said one, looking sceptical, with a sneering curl to her upper lip. In answer, Anna rose a few feet above the ground and hovered there for a moment. She followed up this trick by teleporting to the other end of the room and back again. There was silence. No one knew what to say.
“Thank you, Anna,” said the head mistress, in a false-cheerful voice. “That was very illuminating.” There was a rustle as everyone filed out, still in silence. Anna knew they were shocked, but she wasn’t sorry. They needed to know. She stayed behind for a moment, and saw them all looking at her with a kind of awe as they left the room. It was then that she almost regretted letting the whole story out - now there would be no one who treated her normally.
What was said in this room, stays in this room, she told them all. It was not a statement - it was a command. They all felt it, because she sent the powerful call out to the minds of every student in Year 10, and all of the teachers too. She felt a few tremors of alarm, but no intentions to share this secret. Why should she? They couldn’t disobey her commands - she had sent them to their very soul, and it would hurt their throats to tell this story. That had not been her idea, though - Anna had nicked it from a book called Lament that she had read only two weeks before she met Matt.
On that night, the night where the Celryn had first entered her life, she had been sure it was just a dream - sure that she was just reliving some of the experience that Deirdre in the book had gone through.
As for the whole fairy thing, she thought, and smiled ironically. Well …