Ice took my hand, and the sky changed from its natural light blue to purple so dark I could only differentiate it from black close to the glow of the moon that suddenly appeared. We were standing on a shore of black sand, watching silver waves roll in and out, burying our feet a little at a time. As if these unnatural colors weren’t enough to tell me Ice was visiting my subconscious, a pod of whales flew up out of the water. They kept going up, indifferent to the change from water to air. I looked at Ice. He looked younger than his waking self. This was the version of him I’d gotten to know when we were in training together at the Coven. I wondered if he’d chosen to appear this way or if my mind picked the version of him I felt I knew best.
“Testing your powers?” I asked.
“Yes, but that’s not the main reason I’m here,” he said.
“No one can listen in here,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. My necklace used to keep him from visiting me this way, but it couldn’t keep him out when he could make physical contact.
“You’re worried,” I said. It wasn’t a question. His emotions had more weight here, and his anxiety took the form of a storm out toward the west of this beachscape.
“I wish I wasn’t,” he said.
“It’s not too late. If we could guarantee that your involvement was erased from her mind, you could take the bibliomancer back to the Coven with a story about rescuing her from me,” I said.
“No. I’m not worried about my choice to be with you. At least not in that way. It’s just been so long since you left, E. What if we’ve changed too much?”
“Milo,” I said. Under Vincent’s tutelage, we’d been instructed never to give someone our real names. I wasn’t going to let the teachings of a dead man rule my life anymore.
That’s my real name. Milo Grimshaw. You don’t hav—”
“Clark Rogers,” he said. He lifted our joined hands between us. “I’m with you, Milo.”
“All right, Clark. That’s going to take some getting used to.” We both laughed. “That’s not the only thing bothering you, though.”
“No,” he said. The storm was getting closer.
“Is it the Bibliomancer?” I asked.
“I can handle Calliope,” he said. “I’m worried about the witch Ruby ran from.”
“Mr. Newton? She told you about him?”
“I wanted to get to know her; she is important to you. She told me she’s running from a cerebremancer. The Coven has no record of him. If he’s as powerful as she and Eli say, he needs to be stopped.”
“I’ve been thinking the same thing,” I said. “Eli says he won’t stop looking for Ruby. These blockers we got are the best protection we could hope for, but they’re not guarantees. There will always be a risk as long as he’s looking for her.”
“The Coven will be looking for us too,” he said.
“It’s a lot to run from. I’ve been tempted to see if Ruby can get us out of the country unnoticed.”
“It’s not a bad idea, but I don’t think I can walk away knowing that someone like Newton is out there and going unchecked,” he said.
“It’s not going to be easy getting Ruby to go back there,” I said.
“I think you could convince her. She trusts you.”
“Let’s hope she still does after I tell her we wanted to walk her back to her worst nightmare.”
The storm didn’t dissipate, but it stopped rolling toward us. I imagined a breeze pushing it further out, and my dream obliged me. There was no need for spells here. Ice’s presence, no Clark’s presence, was enough to give me control of the dream. He gripped my hand tighter, and the clouds sped up until they were minor details on the horizon. The stars started dancing across the sky, growing and shrinking as they went. I made the moon slowly shift through the color spectrum. We fell back in time to when we were both teenagers. We learned to love each other through the beauty we found in each other’s magic.
I remembered nights where I would tell stories with intricate shadows on the walls until we got tired enough to fall asleep. Then we dreamt miracles while we slept. We did this long before we felt any sexual attraction for each other. I cried when the wind started to sound like a flute. Other instruments joined from nowhere. Soon the stars were moving to the rhythm of the orchestra. I’d missed this more than I could articulate; having it back overwhelmed me. Ice pulled me into an embrace and held me while I cried. It felt as real as if we were both awake, the tears, the waves, the sand, and his arms. He held me until the tears stopped flowing.