16N

One problem after another! They finally managed to cross into Fantasia and meet Audrey’s friends from when she was awake, and now they had to return to their own worlds without really accomplishing anything! It sort of made sense that moving from the dream into any reality would interrupt the night’s rest, but that didn’t mean Nadine had to like it.

Audrey was finally poised to face Elise, the sorceress who’d been giving her so much trouble this whole time, and Nadine and Horera weren’t going to go with her to help. It felt wrong, but Nadine also knew she couldn’t leave JC and Phillipa hanging just outside the Prophet’s stronghold.

Audrey’s Fantasian friends had left the study and things were much quieter now. Having found Audrey and finished the little celebratory snack they’d all gone back to bed—except for Andromalus and Elaria who Nadine could tell were still lurking in the study somewhere, watching. Horera was sound asleep, so it was basically just Nadine and Audrey.

“I thought you’d be more excited,” Audrey lifted her hair from the back of her neck and fanned herself with her other hand. “You and Horera actually came from your worlds to Fantasia.”

Nadine stifled a yawn with her fist, “But we didn’t do anything! This is going to take so much more coordination now that we can’t just meet whenever we sleep! We’ll need to figure out what we’re all up against, co-ordinate our groups and plan our strikes so that we can afford to be off-world on the days we’re most needed in each others’ worlds.”

“Or,” Audrey smiled, “We could just keep seeing each other in our dreams, knowing if we had to we could cross between worlds.”

Nadine’s eyes felt like lead. She was used to being refreshed and ready to go when she met Audrey and Horera, but right now she really did feel like she’d just spent all day in a running battle with the Prophets. The worst of it was the Prophets seemed to be leading them back to Metropolis, and if that’s where the stronghold turned out to be, then Nadine, Phillipa and JC could have a lot more trouble on their hands than they did already.

“You’re going after Elise tomorrow, aren’t you?”

Audrey nodded, “We’re ready. I’m not afraid of her anymore.”

Nadine laughed. Audrey looked tired, but all things considered she still had more energy than Nadine or Horera. Audrey figured out the portals on her own, and now she didn’t even need Nadine and Horera to come help her on the other side.

“Guess you don’t need our help anymore, huh?”

“That’s not true,” Audrey shook her head. “You can help someone without actively facing the same dangers as them. You and Horera have been great–supporting me emotionally when I didn’t think anyone could possibly understand my position. Trusting me when I didn’t even trust myself.”

“You guys were my first friends. Ever.” Nadine looked down to where Horera was sleeping as she felt her eyes begin to water. “I don’t feel like I’ve really done enough to pay you guys back for that.”

Audrey took Nadine’s hands in her own. Nadine mentally cursed her tired eyes and wished there was some way to suck the tears back into them. She was just tired, but if Audrey saw Nadine cry she’d think something was wrong.

“You and Horera may not have been my first friends, but you’re definitely my best friends.” Audrey squeezed Nadine’s hands. “My friends here in Fantasia will be the ones who fight by my side tomorrow, but you and Horera will be a strength in my heart. I know I could never thank the two of you enough for your friendship, so please don’t feel that you ever need to thank me for mine.”

Choking back a tired sob, Nadine flung herself into a tight hug with Audrey. Nadine didn’t know why she was crying as Audrey returned her hug firmly, and she didn’t care. Nadine was happy and it didn’t matter why because she knew nothing could ever take this happiness away.

“I should send you and Horera back to your worlds,” Audrey whispered. “We should all have good stories next time we see each other.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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