“I thought she’d be like this,” said Willow’s voice from somewhere above me. “She wasn’t supposed to find out like this… I don’t think Lycan wanted her to find out at all.”
“I’m glad she did,” Meena answered brightly. I felt her hand brush my hair away from my face; it was tickling my nose, but I couldn’t move.
She grabbed my shoulders and hauled me into a sitting position. Phoenix was staring at me, his lips set in a straight line. He smiled briefly and vanished like Gray had without any visible effort.
“Right, Ruby, I know we owe you an explanation for all of this,” Meena said quickly before I could open my mouth. “We’ll have to tell you here if we want to be safe.”
I nodded mutely, as feeling returned to my limbs. The paralysis of shock had scared me more than the events leading up to it, and I was ready to hear an explanation for them.
“Well… this is difficult,” Willow exhaled in a gusty sigh. “Okay, here goes… Ruby, there is such thing as magic.”
Two pair of expectant eyes settled on me.
“Figures,” I managed to say dryly, tilting my head towards the mirror and the spot where the others had disappeared into thin air. I began to feel like nothing would surprise me now. A numb acceptance was spreading, though a tiny corner of my mind refused to believe it.
“’Kay… well, other… things exist too,” Meena said, continuing quickly, “but they are all controlled by a kind of hidden government called the Eternals. There are five, and Lycan Gray is one of them.”
“Where did he go?” I asked, glancing about though I knew he was not there. “Um, and how?”
“Magic, I told you,” Willow said simply, tugging on a piece of her blonde hair. I noticed there was a dead leaf caught in it in the back, and a smudge of dirt across her cheek again. She shot a sideways look at Meena. “He went to help - someone - out.”
“Right,” I nodded, beginning to feel like I could keep up. “So- so he can do magic?”
Hey nodded slightly in unison and I blinked owlishly. “Can anyone do it?”
Willow gave an understanding smile. “No. Only immortals.”
Meena glared at Willow, who had obviously said a little too much. She looked repentant.
“Er, yes - beings who are essentially human but don’t die like humans do,” Meena explained, watching my face anxiously. “But humans can have magic, weaker of course but still there, but it’s rare. It’s usually passed in families, through the blood.”
She smiled at me as I was still processing the information. I remembered suddenly the strange shifting I had performed.
“I vanished!” I gasped as the pieces clicked together. “I can do magic? This is insane!”
“I knew you could,” Meena said eagerly. “You got into the shop and went through the portal; only someone with magical blood could do that.”
I sat stunned. Passed on in the blood…
“My parents can do magic too?” I asked incredulously. How could I have not noticed?
“No,” Willow said. “They had the potential though, which is why you can. That’s why we’re protecting y-”
She cut off abruptly at a pointed look from Meena, and her face turned sheepish. She had almost let something slip again. I was too distracted to care; some things she had said were just beginning to make sense.
“You two are immortals?” my voice was a lot calmer than I felt.
“Yes, we are,” Meena admitted quietly. “But that doesn’t change anything does it? We are still friends?”
“You could have told me.”
“It’s not something you bring up in casual conversation! ‘Yeah, hi, I’m Meena, I’m a shape shifter’!”
“You’re a - a what?” I said uncertainly, completely thrown. This time it was Willow who looked mutinous. Meena just looked angry.
Then she was gone, and in her place was a sleek black cat. Piercing blue eyes stared at me and it yowled loudly, digging its claws into the carpet. Then Meena was there again on her knees, nails digging in to the short pile. I was too amazed to say anything. I remembered my first day, a cat crossing the courtyard; not being able to find her or Willow, then a dog and solitary raven….