We reached a brightly lit street after five minutes and Phoenix halted our little group directly under a streetlamp. I saw that Willow’s face was set in a hard expression.
“So,” Phoenix began, and his usually jocund voice was as hard as her features.
“This is your idea of ‘handling it fine’?”
She opened her mouth to retort angrily but he cut her off.
“Yeah, just fine when you left Ruby on her own in the middle of a building of Immortals who she doesn’t know.”
“She knows Charlotte - “ Meena tried to say.
“She just met her! And oh, yeah, Willow, you don’t have to worry about me making you ‘’look inferior in front of Lycan”. I think you’ve just done a pretty good job of it yourself.”
He turned and strode into the darkness. Willow stared after him even when he was long gone, her hands curled into tight fists at her sides and her eyes full of loathing.
“It’s okay, Willow,” Meena said quietly, putting a hand on her back as if to hold her in place. I thought she might shrug it off and turn on us, but she put on a strained smile.
“So, back to your house, then, Ruby. Looks like the excitement for tonight is over.”
The lights were out when we walked back up my drive, so it was safe to use the spare key under the plant pot to unlock the door and sneak quietly in, though we had to be extra silent creeping up the stairs past my mother’s room.
The iPod had turned itself off after it had run out of battery, there was no way to tell how long ago.
I went downstairs again with my own key, my heart twinging every time a floorboard creaked too loudly, to put the spare key back and lock the door again. When I got back to my room, Meena had changed into her pyjamas - I was actually surprised to see they were normal pyjamas - and was sat on her spread out duvet.
“Sorry,” she said miserably. “This is all my fault. When Willow gets back from the bathroom, she won’t talk to us all night.”
I looked at the clock. It was only half past ten, but it seemed much later than that. I felt exhausted as if the flashing lights in the warehouse had stolen my energy as well as my colour.
“I don’t think I will either,” I stifled my yawn so the words came out indistinct. “I just want to go to sleep.”
Willow opened the door and spread her own duvet out and wrapped herself up in it, all in silence.
We waited for a few seconds, staring at her back.
Meena and I shared a relieved look then I got up and switched off the light, carrying my own pyjamas to the bathroom so I could change. I looked at myself in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth and I didn’t look any different, though I felt like a stranger. When I climbed into my bed a few minutes later, the dark room was silent except for quiet breathing. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep.