Characters: Jill Mastrano Dragomir, Mia Rinaldi
Summary: Jill Dragomir is back at Court, for a short while, so she visits Mia Rinaldi to practice her defensive fighting. The practice doesn't go so well, and Jill spills everything that's going on in her life to Mia - who isn't just her mentor, but her best friend and something more.
"You can do it, Jill!" Mia encouraged her. They were in the house Mia shared with her father, safe in her obscurity. A guardian stood at the front door, but otherwise a lower profile was thought to be better, and no one was around to watch them.
That probably was a good thing. Mia didn't think she'd ever seen Jill struggle so much with this before. The younger girl scowled and tried again to pull water from the atmosphere, just enough to fill a glass, and ended up with a few drops - she hadn't pulled enough. Four months ago and this would have been just fine, an easy balance, but she was apparently very out of practice.
Jill pulled again with her magic and water filled her glass - and then some, spilling over the table and the floor. Jill glared at the spill like it had just personally offended her.
Mia frowned, and sat on the couch, patting the space beside her for Jill to join her. "What's wrong, love?" This was their warmup, and if Jill couldn't do it, that would make moving forward next to impossible. Having a clear mind helped, though, and that was something she could probably help with.
Jill shook her head, sitting beside her. "I'm not supposed to tell. It's for my protection."
That didn't answer Mia's question, and she knew it, but she put that aside and pulled the other girl towards her, wrapping her in a hug. "I won't tell."
"I know. I just... Sydney'll kill me. Well, no, she won't, she's supposed to be helping me, but..." She stopped. "I'm blabbering, aren't I? Sorry. I'll stop."
"Hey, Jill, you know what I say about that. Never apologize for being yourself, okay? You're great just the way you are."Mia frowned then, putting pieces together. No one had ever said that she couldn't be damn smart when she put her mind to it. "Sydney? As in the Alchemist?"
Jill shuffled back, eyes wide. "No. No. I mean, yes, but... You have to promise not to tell, Mia. You have to promise."
Mia tried not to feel hurt. They were only trying to help Jill, and that's what she wanted too. She just happened to think that everyone who was likely to have been involved in making this decision ought to know that she was as big a part of Jill's life as any of them, if not bigger. Maybe Christian could give her a run for her money on that one, maybe. "I promise, Jill. I wouldn't do anything to hurt you in any way. Ever, I swear to God." She could not say the same for anyone who stood between her and Jill, or more importantly, Jill and her happiness.
Jill studied her feet for a moment, and then looked up at Mia. "I'm going to boarding school in Palm Springs, and Sydney is supposed to be my sister and Eddie and Adrian are supposed to be my brothers, but Eddie's stopped teaching me defense because he's teaching Angeline, and I try to practice magic but Sydney doesn't like it and I'm supposed to be human and it's a desert and I hate it."
She stopped, eyes wide again at the passion in her voice, and clasped her hands to her mouth.
"It's okay. I promised, remember?" Mia spoke soothingly, but her mind was whirling with rage.
Jill shook her head. "But I still said things I shouldn't have said. And you're mad, I can tell."
Mia sighed. Jill could always see right through her when she was angry. "You don't have to like it, if you don't want to. Everyone wants to help you, but sometimes things that are helpful still suck. But you know what might help? Talking to someone who isn't there all the time. Fresh opinions and clear perspective."
Jill bit her lip and smiled. "Someone like you, maybe?"
Mia grinned. "Well, I can't claim that my perspective is the clearest, but maybe someone like me."
Jill laughed. "Okay. If you promise not to hurt anyone for it, no matter how much they deserve it. But, um, you have to really really swear that you won't tell anyone. Not like, just for my protection, but because my so-called family might actually murder me. Because it's really secret." She held Mia's gaze. "Not any of it, not to anyone."
Mia took Jill's seriousness in stride. "Of course not. Not to anyone. Your secrets are my secrets."
Jill smiled a little bit at that. "Yeah, they are." And then she started to explain.
Mia listened wordlessly as Jill told her about Clarence, about the family facade, about Lee, about Micah, about Laurel, about how hard it was to make friends, about the Halloween dance, about Adrian and his drinking habits, about her spirit bond with him, about Eddie and Angeline,about Sydney keeping them all in line,about creepy and terrified Keith, about their spirit experiments, about being suspended, about Lia and the fashion show, about how Sydney was learning a different kind of magic, about how anyone who actually seriously looked at them would realize that they were either not a family or incredibly incestuous, about Sonya and Dimitri, about hangovers and the dry air. That was easy. But when Jill mentioned the Strigoi attack, Mia visibly paled.
"I thought this was supposed to be for your protection!" she blurted out.
Jill's face darkened. "It is. They were just dealing with Moroi who want Lissa off the throne, not Strigoi." She frowned. "They came up from Los Angeles, though, it's usually fine for that. Eddie killed them anyway." She paused, and a smile crept onto her face. "I helped."
"You helped!" Mia pulled her into a hug again. "I'm really glad that you're okay. Strigoi are..." a shiver crept up her spine as she remembered Spokane, and her voice took on a haunted tone. "They're terrifying."
Jill nodded. "He was coming after me, so Sydney turned on a tap, and I hit him over the head with the water. It distracted him enough for Eddie to stake it, but I've only once been that scared in my life, and that time I died." A timid smile appeared on her face. "I did it, though. I used magic against them."
Against her better reason, knowing that the standing agreement was that this came after practice, and that she was the one who'd made that rule in the first place, Mia leaned over to kiss her. Jill deepened the kiss instantly, running the tip of her tongue along the inside of Mia's upper jaw in a well-practiced move that made the other girl shiver with pleasure.
Mia returned the favour, tugging on Jill's lower lip with her teeth gently as they pulled apart. Jill moaned softly at the loss of contact. "God, I've missed that. I've missed you."
"I've missed you too, Jill." She kissed her again, this time soft and short. "So, so much."
They sat in silence for a moment, and then Mia prompted Jill to continue. "That's not all, is it? You have to get it all out or it won't help."
Jill shook her head, and started talking again. When she finished, she looked at Mia gratefully. "Thank you," she said, cuddling up close, and pulling her down for a kiss. "Thank you for listening. No one else listens."
"That's what I'm here for," Mia told her. They sat together for a few moments, bodies pressed together, warm and comforting. Their hands intertwined, and they didn't say a word as their heartbeats and breaths shifted to mimic each others.
It was almost ten minutes later that the girls moved, starting to practice their magic again. They pulled water from the air into spheres of floating water and banishing them back into the air, theoretically without a drop on the carpeted floor.
The carpet was sodden when there was a sharp rap on the front door. Mia went to answer it. "Lady Dragomir is expected to return to Court soon."
Jill appeared at Mia's shoulder. "Please, Guardian Villanova, can't we have just a little bit longer?"
The dhampir looked at the two hopeful faces and sighed. "Fifteen minutes, no more. There's a royal party that you're required at, and you'll need ample time to prepare."
"Thank you!" Jill exclaimed, face lighting up with joy.
Mia echoed her sentiments with a more demure "Thank you, Guardian Villanova," and closed the door behind her.
She grinned to look at Jill. "Now, let's clean this mess up a bit. Some more practice for you."
Jill sighed. "But we have been practicing, and it's just water," she complained. But as she did, she very carefully pulled with her magic and her fingers, keeping her expression disappointed and locking eyes with Mia so she wouldn't notice her movement. As Mia raised an eyebrow, the water that Jill had put into the cup earlier floated above the other girl's head.
Jill sighed again. "Okay," she said, motioning resignation and letting her magic fall away. The water dropped onto Mia's head and she let out a shocked gasp.
"Jill!" She burst out laughing then, ignoring the water running down her back and arms, raising goosebumps as it went. "How did you do that? I was watching you!"
Jill held up her hand and twirled a single finger, making the water in Mia's hair rise up in a whirl, and setting it back in the glass it had come from. She shrugged. "I can't practice with a lot of water, so I learned to keep the motions small," she said, as Mia dried herself off, waving her hands sharply to dismiss the water to the air. "I know it's no good in a fight, but I had to do something or I was going to go crazy."
"That's incredible, Jill, seriously. You'll have to teach me how you did that. And it is useful. Think about it. Most Moroi, if they were captured, you tie their hands behind their back and they're helpless, magic totally inaccessible. Even if they'd think to use it. But if you can do that with just your fingers, you're far better off."
Jill beamed. "If I've surpassed expectations, then we can do the kissing part again, right?"
Mia grinned and leaned down to kiss her. They didn't stop until Guardian Villanova knocked on the front door again.
Jill answered it this time. "Is there a plus one on my invite, and can Mia please be it?"