“You’re a shit teacher, you know that?” Greene complains, glaring over at Nolan as she dozes under a tree with her hat pulled down over her eyes.
“It’s all instinctual and personal. I’d have to know you a lot better to give you any useful tips.” Nolan lifts her hat just enough to squint at her. “Granted, I don’t think it would be difficult to sell me on the idea of getting to know you better.”
The tree she’s under suddenly shakes, and a few dozen acorns drop all at once onto her. Nolan yelps and scrambles to get up.
Greene, blushing, tries not to smirk. “No, wait, keep being annoying, I think it’s working.”
Nolan glares at her and brushes off her hat. “Ass.”
“In all seriousness I feel like I got a burst of irritation and some sort of magic just… happened.”
“You need to be careful with that. It’s dangerous to let magic be controlled by emotions in general, and it’s especially dangerous to let it be anger or irritation.”
Greene swallows and averts her eyes. “I think anger has been leading me for a long time.”
Nolan studies her for a moment, silent. Then she walks over to her, her voice soft as she says, “Come here.”
Greene blinks. “What?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Then come here.” Nolan takes her by the hand and spins her once before pulling her back in, a soft, slow dance in the middle of the field, that takes Greene by surprise. “You have to let it go, Greene. That anger. That need for vengeance. It’ll infect you, infect how you learn your magic, and that’s no healthy way to live.”
“You’re asking me to let go of what’s been driving me since I lost him,” Greene murmurs, the fingers of her free hand trembling as they settle on Nolan’s hip. “Of the promise I made to his memory.”
“No,” Nolan says quietly. “I’m telling you not to remember your father by the anger you feel towards what took him, but by the love you felt when you had him.” She stops moving and lets go of Greene’s hand, taking a small step back. “Love is a far stronger basis for magic, and for life. Believe me.”
Greene lets her hand linger on Nolan’s hip, staring at her eyes. “Are you speaking from experience?”
“Perhaps,” Nolan whispers. “Love of family is a powerful thing.”
“It is. That’s what makes it so hard to have run without truly explaining to my mother.”
Nolan turns her head, looking off into the distance at nothing. “I’m sorry for that. Sorry you ended up dragged into my circumstances in the first place.”
Greene takes a step forward, putting them back into the position they had been in before Nolan separated them. “It’s okay,” she says softly. She’s silent for a moment, her thumb idly brushing against the fabric of Nolan’s black pants. “You were dancing with me. Why?”
“Distraction,” Nolan says with a shrug. “Something to calm you down.”
“Not much about you calms me down,” Greene laughs.
Nolan frowns and takes Greene’s hand off her waist, idly brushing her thumb against the back of her palm. “Why?”
Greene’s gaze flickers down to Nolan’s lips, and she starts to lean in.
The loud, sharp sound is so sudden that Greene barely registers it. She only knows that it’s happened when Nolan suddenly jerks away from her, tumbling backwards onto the ground.
Her blue shirt is slowly turning red.
Nolan looks up at her, eyes wide with shock. “G-Greene?”
Greene turns, scared, and her stomach plummets.
Two of the deputies from Edgewater are riding towards them, one of them with a gun raised.
“Oh, God,” Greene whispers. She drops to her knees next to Nolan and pulls the woman’s bandana from around her neck. “Hold it,” she says, pressing it hard against the spot under Nolan’s ribs. “Dammit, Nolan, hold this.”
Nolan grabs the bandana obediently as Greene drags her to her feet, pulling her towards the spot where they’ve left their horses.
“We have to go. God, they must think you… We have to go.”
“I don’t think I can, Greene,” Nolan mutters.
Greene grabs her by the collar of her shirt, ignoring the tears in her eyes. “Shut up and get on your horse.”
Nolan gives verbal directions, letting Greene lead their horses down a path that disappears behind them.
“Those rocks,” Nolan says, her voice thick with pain as she takes out the bottle she got in Edgewater and swallows some of the liquid inside. “Go behind those rocks.”
Greene leads the horses behind the large rocks sticking out of the sand and stops. “What are we doing here-”
Nolan half-slides half-falls off of her horse. She staggers over closer to the rocks and sits down, leaning against them, her breathing slow.
“We can’t just stop. We need to get you somewhere where someone can help you.” Greene hops down off of her horse and crouches down next to Nolan. “Hey,” she whispers, resting her hand against Nolan’s cheek. “We need to keep moving. I know it hurts, but we need to keep moving.”
“Easy for you t’say. You didn’t get shot.” Nolan leans into Greene’s touch, her eyes closing. “Bought a potion in Edgewater. It’ll get the healing started. Thought we might need it; didn’t think we’d need it this soon.” She grits her teeth and shudders. “It’ll still hurt like hell, though.”
“Where did you find a potion in Edgewater?”
Nolan gives a soft laugh. “I can teach you a lot.” She shudders again, badly, and Greene shifts closer. “Provided I live.”
“You’re not allowed to die on me, Nolan.” Greene swallows. “I need you, okay? I’m too scared to learn this on my own.”
“Emma,” Nolan murmurs.
“My name.” Nolan meets Greene’s gaze, her eyes a little glassy. “Emma. Emma Nolan.”
Greene shakes her head. “You don’t get to tell me that just because you think you might die, jackass.”
Emma gives a soft laugh. “Too bad.”
“How much of that potion can you take?”
“Took plenty. Just whether or not it works.”
“It better.” Greene leans in and presses a kiss to Emma’s lips. “The only way you’re getting my name is if it does, Emma Nolan. Think you can manage that?”
Emma’s eyes stay closed for a long moment before she opens them, blinking a few times and nodding. “Yeah,” she whispers. “I think that’s pretty good motivation.”