And in the middle of the night, when everyone else in the house was in their beds, she climbed out of hers and went straight for Baeou's safe. She knew exactly where he kept the key. She always had. And if any one person in the house knew how to use the stones that were stored inside, it was she. That didn't matter to her, though. Or at least, it hadn't mattered before that night.
Five stones lay in a neat row within the safe. She took the one she desired, a smooth, iridescent one, and sneaked quietly out the front door into the beach.
She closed her eyes, the Crystal of the Chrone tight in her hands, and reached for the threads.
Raekira, she thought with all the conviction she could muster.
The air around her turned cold and empty. She shivered, repeating the name over and over in her mind. She did her best to recall the fabric of the girl whom, as a child, she had come to know so well.
The sensation of cold vanished and Ellena opened her eyes. She was standing in a home, she assumed, though it looked oddly angular. There was a quiet hum coming from somewhere in the room, though she could see nothing specific giving off the sound.
"Rae?" she called out.
A moment later, a head popped around the corner. It was an acaethess, though it was not the one for whom Ellena had been searching.
"Can I help you?" the acaethess said rudely.
"Raekira? I'm looking for someone by that name. Do you know her?"
"Who is it?" called Rae, from a far room. Ellena recognized her voice immediately.
The acaethess's suspicious eyes did not leave Ellena. "A young girl," she called back. "Tell me your name."
"She knows me," Ellena replied. "My name is Ellena."
Before the acaethess could shout back, quick footsteps could be heard approaching the room. Ellena grinned.
Rae's face appeared around the corner. Her eyes were wide. "Ella?" she squeaked.
Before Ellena could react, Rae was embracing her.
"So you know her, then," said the other girl.
Rae let go of Ellen's shoulders, throwing her head around excitedly as she spoke. "Yes! Of course! Oh, wenth's blood. I can't believe how old you are. Ellena, this is Ianthe, Ianthe, Ellena. She was just a kid then, but she was around back when I was running around with Baeou."
Ianthe nodded, looking only slightly less uncomfortable. "Nice of you to...drop by."
Ellena held up the purple stone. "I'm just popping in for a minute. I just needed to talk to you."
"Is everything...okay? What year is it for you?"
"Everything is fine. Well, Baeou and Sai just got home."
"Oh," Rae breathed, understanding dawning on her face. "Ianthe, let's make some drinks, how about."
Ianthe smiled. "The kitchen. Is this way," she said, leading Ellena by the arm.
Ellena made an attempt to not pull away at Ianthe's touch. It struck her as odd, for some reason.
"So, Ellena," Ianthe said quietly. There was a sideways grin on her face. Her previous hostility had vanished in an instant. "Tell me about this boy in your time that stole our Raekira's heart."
Ellena opened her mouth to speak, but not before Rae interjected, "Dont say a word to her, Ella. She's only looking to make trouble." Rae emphasized "trouble" in a very odd, almost playful way.
"Love, you keep so many secrets from me!" Ianthe exclaimed in extreme melodrama.
Rae was making a pot of coffee, mumbling quietly to herself, while Ianthe sat at the table with Ellena.
"She tells me he's gorgeous," Ianthe continued.
Ellena shrugged awkwardly. "Assuming you mean Eliot, I can hardly give a reliable opinion. He's old enough to be my dad."
Rae snorted from the kitchen.
"My, you are a young one, aren't you?"
Ellena's brow furrowed.
"I'm so sorry about her," Rae said, setting three cups of coffee down on the table. Then, to Ianthe, "For tides' sake, behave yourself."
"I know why you left us," Ellena said. She was tired of talking about other things that she didn't care about.
Rae's features darkened. Her gaze fell into her cup. "Oh?" she rose her voice, like she was trying to sound casual, but Ellena was not fooled.
"Maybe I should go, leave you two to talk alone," Ianthe said standing up with her hands wrapped around her mug.
Rae nodded. "Thank you."
"I remember once in Koesym, you said you couldn't do it. You could make the decisions you has to make. And you left." She paused, watching Rae's face closely. "You were talking about Isaiah, weren't you?"
Rae took a drink. "I guess I was."
"You knew he had to go with the wenths, but you didn't want to have to be around to watch."
Rae shook her head. "Not that. I couldn't be around to watch. I would have stopped it. I could have. But...I couldn't."
"His threads...they're all perfect now, just like they're supposed to be."
Rae looked both validated and confused by that statement.
"When we were little, I always wondered why he wore someone else's threads. Now I can see the truth. He wasn't himself before."
"I think I remember you mentioning that to me. I wondered if that meant...but I didn't want it to."
"Isaiah had to be broken in order to be himself," Ellena said. The words stung her and she felt her throat tightening. "Do you know why that is?"
Rae would not lift her face from the steaming cup in front of her. She only shook her head in response to Ellena's question.
"I don't know what to say to him. I hoped you might help."
"How could I possibly help you with that? Aren't you the master of reading people?"
Ellena stared forward, through Rae and through the wall behind her. "I don't know. I can read his threads, make sense of them, but I don't know what to say. He's afraid. He's more fragile than glass. I can't poke around until I find what works. I'm afraid I'll only have one chance."
"You'll never only have one chance with him, Ella. He is going to need someone to help him readjust. Who better than you? You have been able to read his threads his whole life. Perhaps there was a reason."
"Why did it have to happen?"
Rae jumped slightly. Ellena's tone had been almost brash, but she did not want Rae to feel like she could brush the question aside.
"It's complicated, Ella. I didn't know it until I could look out into the time-less world and see it there, but I knew that I had to leave it be."
Ellena could tell that there was no more convincing to be done. Rae would say no more. "Right. Well, I came to tell you that I, at least, kind of understand."
Rae smiled. "Thank you."
"And also I miss you."
"I miss you," Rae replied, her smile growing, though there was a sadness behind it.
Ellena looked around. "You're happy here?"
Ellena smiled back, glad that she did not have to put any effort into it. "Good. I'd better get home. I need to make sure Isaiah is alright."
"Give everyone my love."
"So long as it won't break him," Rae laughed.