'What's so mystifying about that lick of flame balanced, just so, on your fingertip that you can't even look at me this whole trip?'
'Have you ever produced fire and held it in your hand without getting burnt?'
Theodore chuckled. 'You're right, I'm sorry. I just wondered…are you nervous?'
'A new school, filled with "gifted" students and a whole new lifestyle…would you be nervous?'
'Yes. I'm sorry, again,' he laughed. 'You know, we'll be there soon.'
Yumi snuffed out the flame with a blink of her eyelids and a quick thought, turning her gaze to wander beyond the jolting window. She could hear the clop of the horses' hooves on the cobbles and she smiled to herself: the familiar, repetitive sound eased away her worries.
'Theo…when is this potion supposed to wear off?'
'In about a week's time.'
'What do we do then? Do I lie and say that I just don't want to use my powers?'
Theo scratched his head, deep in though about the best move to take. 'How about I send you another vial of potion before the week is up and as soon as the powers disappear, you take another dose.'
'I can't let you do that Theo! I can't even imagine how much that first vial cost you, let alone another.'
Not wanting to talk about it, Theo glared at the material covering the carriage wall. 'I'm just trying to help you,' he muttered.
'I know!' Yumi sighed, exasperated. 'Look Theo, I'm sure these people can't be as bad as my parents. Maybe I can just…bluff my way out of things.'
Theo's eye twitched and he shook his head painfully slow. 'No, that'll never work. These people are isolated just because of who they are and they're so used to rejection they'll assume you're there for the worst of reasons. They must never know your powers are a farce.'
'Well…I'm sorry Theo but I just can't let you do all this for me.'
'You can, and you will. I'm going to have to tell you, aren't I?' Theo sighed and licked his lips, oiling his mouth for speech, 'You see Yumi…I was never quite straight with you and your parents. That friend I told your parents about, the one with connections to the headmaster of the school…well…that friend is me.'
Yumi's eyebrow rose in shock. 'You…have powers too?'
'No, I don't…but my brother does.'
Her second eyebrow now joined its pair, knitted together in confusion.
Theo sighed and redirected his eyes to the floor of the carriage. 'My brother is the headmaster of Windfall school.'
Yumi's eyes widened in shock and she reached across the carriage, letting her hand drop limp just short of Theo's arm.
'I…don't know what to say.'
'I know…you wouldn't be the first.'
Yumi frowned, 'I don't hate you Theo. I just…I suppose I'm shocked.'
Theo nodded, head still bowed. 'Understandable.'
'Why did you even think about getting more potions when your brother is the headmaster of the school?'
'Because…because I wanted to make things easier on you. If the other kids found out that you were, in fact, one of the enemy then…your life wouldn't be much better than before.'
Yumi drew back her hand and slapped Theo across the face, hard.
'W-what was that for!' he stuttered, his eyes finally meeting hers again.
'I'm not the same weak willed person I used to be Theo. I refuse to be that person anymore. I have power now, for however long it lasts, it doesn't matter. I've been through things those kids can only dream of and I know I'm strong enough to make it through anything they can throw at me.'
Theo frowned. 'Yumi, these people can hurl lightning at you, paralyse you, burn you to dust…how can you survive that?'
'Your brother won't let them do that.' Yumi grunted, lips pursed tight together as the carriage drew to a stop, the seats jolting at the sudden movement. Unprepared, Yumi lurched forward. Theo caught her forearms with firm hands, steadying her.
'Careful,' he whispered, a corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. 'Come on, my child, let's go face this army.'
Yumi grinned and stepped down from the carriage, bracing her knees as she jumped to the ground. She followed Theo up to the doors of the school with a new bounce in her step, one born of a fire newly kindled in her spirit.