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To be free

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Is it possible to have sleep paralysis in your dreams? To be unable to wonder the great depts of one’s consciousness, yet still be aware of your sleeping mind? Helplessly look and hear and feel, whilst your members are set like stone?

There were no vines or ropes curling at his wrists and ankles, but Ronan’s body heavily laid on a hard and unpleasant surface. Lindenmere, faciat quietem, Ronan thought, - into a dream - but asking aid from the main source of Ronan’s problems might have been a mistake. It was too bright to properly take in his surroundings, too hot for comfort, but the warmth was slowly moving towards his belly, and the unpleasantness of his circumstances took a whole new meaning.

It wasn’t that Ronan felt anxious. Anxiety was like drowning on air, or even falling up from solid ground. Gravity still worked, and his lungs were fine. This was different. He felt like he was burning from the inside out.

Lindenmere was more than cabeswater in the sense that it was demanding. Needy. If cabeswater could exist for years without Ronan realizing that he’d dreamt it, lindenmere made sure to be heard. It increased the greywaren’s control over the things he brought into existence, most of the time, but was unstable in its power, begging for things that Ronan could bearably understand.

‘‘Maybe because you dreamt it in a different point of the ley line? The location could have something to do with it’’ Gansey had suggested one day, moths before, amused as vines from lindenmere’s trees grazed his hair. Blue and Henry had checked out of the conversation, too relaxed in a moss chair magically made for them to care. Ronan had looked at Adam, only to find the boy being showered by pink flowers, a bemused look on his face.

As it were, lindenmere was 8 months old, with trees and rocks and ponds and mounts and fields that went on and on – 500 square feet from above or from its sides, but infinite when you were inside of it. It had a variety of flowers and wild life that cabeswater never had.

‘‘It’s almost... suffocating’’ Adam had whispered, awed, the morning after lindenmere came to be, ‘‘like being in outer space’’. His back had been against a thick tree, his face illuminated by a ray of sunlight barely contained by lilac leaves from up above, as his eyes gazed at magic.

Ronan had nodded – unable to do much else – at the time, but now he had to disagree. Outer space was quiet, whilst lindenmere had been shrieking in Ronan’s head for the past three months. Maybe that’s do be expected from a magical forest dreamt into existence by an angry and impulsive teenage boy, but Ronan was losing his goddam shit.

‘‘I’m losing my goddam shit’’ Ronan announced, just as he barged through the door of Adam’s dorm room. Said Harvard boy gazed up from his book, surprise evidenced by the raise of his eyebrows, but a soft smile was slowing forming on his lips.

(Ronan had woken up sweaty and disgusting. He shouted at the forest for a good ten minutes, before realizing that the trees were laughing at him. He kicked some of them on his way to the car, every curse known to men falling from his lips as he took the speeding limit as a personal challenge, and within a few minutes he saw the university’s buildings coming into focus)

‘‘Where is the last place you saw it?’’

‘‘Wher- what?’’ Ronan frowned. He suddenly realized he was pacing and stopped, his body painfully stiff.

Adam frowned as well, looking very serious, ‘‘You said you were losing your goddam shit. Where was the last place you saw it?’’

Ronan rolled his eyes, ‘‘Har-har’’, he resumed his pacing. ‘‘This fucking forest is screwing with me. I swear. It’s... it’s like a child. Like a spoiled pubescent teenager’’

‘‘Mmhmm’’ Adam’s eyes were back on his book.

‘‘I mean it! It’s been changing the shit that I bring back. Last week I wanted a couch... I was seating in it and everything. But I woke up in a bed’’

Adam still wasn’t looking at him, but his lips trembled, ‘‘How dare they’’, he mumbled.

Ronan scoffed, exasperated, ‘‘It... it moved barn 2.0’’

Adam looked up at that, worry written on his face.

‘‘But only a few feet... just to fuck with me’’, to which Adam responded by rolling his eyes. Ronan’s heart squeezed in his chest and he realized, very suddenly, that he needed Adam to understand. ‘‘Timere’’ he said, quietly and - if he was being honest - mostly hoping that his friend wouldn’t hear it.

But he heard it – or he sensed the change in the air – because he sat up and placed his book on his desk, not even bothering to mark the page. He regarded Ronan for a moment before patting the space on the bed beside him. The stiffness on Ronan’s body suddenly reminded him of his dream. And he went.

‘‘Maybe the grounds had been an indigenous cemetery once’’ Ronan attempted to sound light, but his voice was too quiet for that. His throat was suddenly dry and his eyes burned uncomfortably.

‘‘They weren’t’’ Adam said, gently, the hand that rested besides Ronan’s reached slowly to intertwine their pinkies, and the world stopped for a few seconds. ‘‘Gansey and Malory went all history channel and researched every square inch of the place before you bought it. Maura and Calla made sure it was safe’’, his lips twitched, ‘‘I even called a priest to perform a vaccine exorcism’’

Ronan had to laugh, ‘‘Vaccine exorcism?’’

‘‘Yep’’

‘‘Is that why-?’’

‘‘That’s a horrible joke and I won’t even let you finish it’’

Ronan pursed his lips, ‘‘Sorry’’

Adam shook his head, his smile betraying his amusement, and sighed. ‘‘What has lindenmere been saying to you?’’

Ronan was finally allowed to look away, ‘‘I don’t know. It’s like a thousand voices at once yelling at you. I can’t make sense of anything’’

Adam sounded surprised, ‘‘Is it like that all the time?’’

Ronan shrugged, ‘‘Kinda’’ he turned his face towards the sun, ‘‘not right now’’

Adam met his eyes. Ronan prayed for a lot of things at that moment. He prayed that Adam wouldn’t ask for how long lindenmere had been acting up. He prayed that Adam would move his finger from his, and he prayed that he never did. He prayed that he wouldn’t have to go back to Henrietta, and he prayed to be safe and sound in his father’s home. He prayed that Adam couldn’t see all of his confusion in his eyes. But most of all, he prayed because that was the purest act of worship.

‘‘Here’s what we’re gonna do’’ Adam cleared his throat. His cheeks were pink and Ronan remembered his dream. ‘‘You and I are gonna go back to lindenmere and try to diagnose what it wants. I was with you when you dreamt it, for Christ's sake, and I was the magician’’ he offered Ronan a smile, ‘‘we’re gonna figure this out’’

‘‘We can still bring Gansey here and kill him... Destroy lindenmere to bring him back’’

Adam seemed to pause to consider it, ‘‘A valid option’’, but his lips twitched and he rose from the bed, pulling his scarf around his neck, ‘‘But let’s try my way first’’. In the land of dreams and dreamers, sometimes the sun would move from North to South, landing on this magical forest that Ronan had spent nearly three years crafting in his mind.

What happens to the heroes after the book ends? After they defeat the bad guy? Well, if you’re Gansey or Blue or Henry you travel the world in the search of magic. If you’re Adam, you go to Harvard and fight for the right to be who you want to be and make everyone that loves you so goddam proud. If you’re Ronan, however, you end up alone, in a town that reminds you of the straight boy you can’t help but pine for, in a home that stopped felling like a home a long time ago. He longed for cabeswater, before he realized that something else ought to come out instead.

It had been the 25th of April when Ronan dreamt of Boston, and once an idea wiggles itself inside your head, it’s impossible to get it out.

‘‘Ronan Lynch, actually calling someone? With a phone?’’ Adam’s laugh had been distorted, but undeniably happy, ‘‘Who died?’’

‘‘Listen up, dork. I know you’re busy, or whatever, so I’ll be quick. The more I think about the new cabeswater the more I know that it can’t be here, in Henrietta. It wants to move on. It has to. And I don’t want to stay here. It fucking sucks. It sucks balls, Parrish. I fucking hate it. And I want to go to Boston. Which is where you are. And I know you have your friends and your life, or whatever, but it’s not like we will see each other all the time. It’s, like, a big city. So yeah. I want to see if I can’’

Ronan took exactly one breath during that entire speech.

‘‘Would it bothe- I mean. Do you think I can?’’

Adam had been quiet for so long that Ronan's eyes began to hurt.

Finally, in the softest voice Ronan had ever heard, Adam whispered, ‘‘I want it too much’’

Adam and lindenmere, lindenmere and Adam. Ronan hated how much the other boy belonged in his deepest dreams. While Ronan had to claw and kick his way inside, lindenmere would make a yellow brick road for Adam.

‘‘Don’t let it go over your head. It does this with all the Harvard guys I bring here’’ Ronan had scoffed, successfully hiding his blush, the first time it happened, and Adam nearly burst a gut in hysterics. He ran towards the denseness of trees, his breathy laughter echoing as if despite himself.

This time Adam stopped at the edge and waited for him, looking over his shoulder with a smile, and together they ventured inside.

‘‘Hear anything?’’

‘‘No. You?’’

Adam shook his head, but then ‘‘Yes’’

Ronan stopped, ‘‘Are they screaming?’’

Adam continued walking, only backwards, ‘‘No’’ his smile was soft and, Ronan came to realize, secretive. He was not going to elaborate on what he was hearing. Ronan was about to complain when Adam gracefully sat, his back resting against a tree, his expression a little more serious. ‘‘Come on’’

Stiff. Hot. Ronan remembered his dream. ‘‘I’m calling Gansey right now’’

Adam just smiled, ‘‘Come on’’

Ronan walked and sat, crossed legged, in front of Adam, mirroring him. He remembered his dream.

‘‘I think it works better if we hold hands... like a reading from a psychic, you know?’’

Ronan remembered his dream.

‘‘Alright’’ Adam took a deep breath, ‘‘do you hear anything?’’

My own heart beat?, Ronan’s mind supplied. He shook his head. But then, ‘‘Yes’’

Ronan raised his eyebrows for a moment before he closed his eyes, trying to focus. It was faint, soft, like a whisper in the wind.

‘‘Missio?’’

Adam frowned, confused, like he wasn’t expecting that, ‘‘What else?’’

‘‘Aurum, consistorum, magus’’ Ronan whispered, ‘‘et invenietis illos in libero’’

‘‘To be free’’ Adam repeated, as his frown grew deeper.

‘‘Alright, well, I found the magician’’ Ronan said to the open glade. He bumped Adam’s nose with a finger to drive home the fact. ‘‘Now I need to find gold and the... earth?’’

Adam sighed, shaking his head, and folded his hands on his lap. He regarded the tress around them for some time before shaking his head again, a smile slowly growing on his face, ‘‘I guess... we are going on an adventure’’