Simon gets called out at the beginning of class to go on a secret mission for the Mage, and even though it has happened before, it seems to irritate me more today. Why does Simon keep allowing the Mage to use him as his pawn?
He is more than a bomb that the Mage can point at one of his many enemies and allow to go off. He’s a person, a boy, and he doesn’t deserve to be treated like this, like he’s expendable. I don’t understand how I am the only one who sees this. Surely, even Penny would be wary of this. But I guess no one is willing to go up against the Mage like that. (Except maybe Fiona.)
One of these days, he is going to get himself killed, and I will not sit idly by and watch that happen. I have to make Simon see that he’s being used, that he doesn’t have to keep doing this. As soon as this class lets out, I take off in search of Simon. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to catch up with him before he gets too far away.
He isn’t in our room, but his scent is strong here, which means he was here not long ago. I rush over to the window and look out of it over the grounds to see if I can see him walking away, but he isn’t there. I’ll have to cast a spell then.
It works instantly, and I can feel Simon. He’s close. The spell starts to pull me towards him, and I take off out of our room, practically flying down the steps. I’m not sure my feet even touch the ground, but I don’t have time to stop and think about that because I have to reach Simon before it’s too late.
The spell is leading me towards the gates. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to get through with one of the Mage’s gates standing guard, but I will do whatever it takes, including spelling the idiot out of my way if I have to.
I don’t have to worry about that, though, because there’s no one there.
That’s strange, I think. There has been someone standing there every day since eighth year began, so something must have happened if the station has been abandoned.
I slow as I reach the gates to open them, and I take a moment to recast the spell to strengthen. It feels like I’m close to him, but it doesn’t feel like Simon has moved any farther away since I initially cast the spell. If there was a threat this close to the school, you would think that the Mage would have raised some kind of alarm, but he doesn’t even have anyone at the gate. It just goes to show how terrible he is at his job.
I continue to follow the pull of the spell, and it brings me to the road, then across it, then to the woods on the other side.
I can hear some sort of commotion now, and I pick up my pace. I have to help Simon. He probably won’t want it, but that’s too bad. I would die a thousand times over in order to protect him. I will not let him die if there is any way that I can prevent it.
When I reach Simon, there is no sign of the Mage of any of his men. It appears like they abandoned him here to handle this threat on his own. It’s unbelievable.
Simon is being surrounded by dozens of goblins, all of whom are vying for his head. He is doing his best to fight them off with his sword, but it isn’t enough. He’s fighting a losing battle.
One of the goblins has managed to get behind him and has a knife raised over him, ready to attack. Before I even have time to think about it, I have summoned a ball of fire in my hand, and I send it soaring in the goblin’s direction. It makes a contact, and with nothing more than a shriek, the goblin catches fire then disintegrates into ash.
Simon spins around to see what happened, and he’s understandably shocked to see me. “Baz?”
“Watch out!” I shout, rushing forward to cast a spell at a goblin that lunged at Simon as soon as he turned his back.
I keep casting spells and sending fire at the remaining goblins, and once Simon recovers from his shock, he turns to fight with me, swinging his sword wildly about, beheading one gobbling after another. He’s brilliant at it, and I almost wish I could stop and watch him in action.
We fight side by side, killing goblin after goblin, but our efforts seem futile because the goblins just keep coming at us, spilling through the trees on all sides, forcing Simon and I to stand back to back. It doesn’t look like we’re going to make it out of here alive, but we can’t give up.
One of the goblins manages to knock my wand from my hand, and I curse under my breath. I can summon my fire without it, but as the goblins close in on us and I start to grow tired from so much use of magic, I’m not sure how longer I can keep doing it.
The goblins manage to get a few good hits and cuts on us, and the smell of Simon’s blood forces my fangs to push through my gums. I could bite them, but goblins are foul and bitter tasting beings. Plus, it would leave me open to attacks from the others if I got distracted by one of them.
“You should go,” I hear Simon say behind me.
“You’re stronger than I am. You’ll be able to make it out of here alive. Just go!”
“I’m not leaving you here! You will never be able to defeat them all on your own.”
He’s quite for a moment, and I hear a demon cry out as Simon stabs at the same time that I shoot some more fire at the ones in front of me. It’s getting harder to summon it; my magic is starting to run low. But I won’t run. I won’t leave Simon behind. I could never live with myself if I left him here to die.
“We just have to keep fighting. Someone will come help us eventually.” I don’t even believe it as I say it.
“Who? No one even knows we’re here.”
“What?! I thought the Mage sent you here.”
“He did, but he said that he had a more pressing matter to attend to. There were only a few goblins at the time, and this is my responsibility. It’s me they’re after. Which is why you should go. It’s not you they want. They’ll probably just let you leave.”
If I make it out of this alive, I am going to murder the Mage.
“I’m not leaving you!” I repeat. I look around for my wand, but I don’t see it. The next flame I summon is barely more than an ember, and it only injures the goblin in front of me, rather than killing it.
“I’m sorry, Baz!” Simon shouts, and the tone in his voice worries me.
“Why are you sorry?” I shout back, whirling around to see what he’s about to do.
That’s when everything goes black.
When I come to, all I see is trees.
With a groan, I force myself to sit up. There is a pounding in my head, but most of my other injuries have already started to heal. I look around and am relieved to find that Simon is lying beside,
“What happened?” I asked. “The last thing I remember is you apologizing.”
“I went off,” he says, grimacing like he hates to admit it. “I tried not to because I was worried that you would get hurt. That wouldn’t have been a problem if you had run like I told you.”
“I couldn’t leave you there!” I say, angry because he actually believes that I could just abandon him like that.
“Because I--.” I cut myself off before I can finish that sentence.
“Nothing. I just didn’t want you to die, alright?” I look away, but then a thought occurs to me. “Why did you care whether or not you hurt me?”
“If you died because of me, I would have a lot worse problems than a horde of goblins attacking me,” he says, but the blush on his face tells a different story.
He’s right, though. If I had died, Simon would have instantly moved to the top of Fiona’s list, right above the Mage, who is coincidentally now at the top of my own list.
“Look,” Simon says, “none of this matters. We made it out alive. Now, we can go back to trying to kill each other instead of nearly getting killed by other things.”
“I don’t want to kill you,” I mutter under my breath as I push myself to my feet, but somehow, Simon hears me.
“It’s nothing.” I start to walk away from him, back in the direction of Watford, but Simon stops me by grabbing my arm and pulling me around to face him.
“Baz…. Why did you come out here? Why did you try to help me fight the goblins when you could have let them kill me and been rid of me for good?”
“Because I don’t want you to die,” I hiss. “I actually care about whether you live or not. Unlike the Mage.”
He makes a face at that last remark but apparently decides to ignore it for now.
We’re standing barely a foot apart, and his hand is still on my arm. I could turn and run from him, but instead, I allow him to pull me closer. Because I’m weak.
“For what it’s worth, I don’t want you to die either.”
My breath catches, and my heart skips a beat. I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean that he likes me, but it’s progress. It’s better than him hating me.
He gives my arm another tug, and we’re so close now that I have to tilt my head down to look at him. He brings a hand up to rest gently on my cheek, and I can’t help the sigh that escapes me at his touch. I lean down until our noses brush but stop there, meeting his eyes. The world seems to have disappeared around us, and it’s just him and me.
Whatever happens next could change things forever. I just wish I knew what he was thinking.
“Can I kiss you?” He asks, and then I know exactly what he’s thinking.
“Yes,” I breathe.
Then he kisses me.
It’s soft yet passionate, fast but gentle. His lips part around mine in a sigh, and it is the best thing that I have felt. I feel like I’m flying for the second time today, and I wonder at how Simon can make me feel like this. Like nothing else in the world matters, which feels so true.
I love Simon. He is the most important thing in my life, and I will never let anything bad happen to him for as long as I can help it. I will keep loving him and protecting him until the day I die.