Chapter 22: Scream till you're raw

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Third-Person PoV:

Cedella strode through the jungle as she constructed her path to the exit of the castle; he hissed when she felt an arm barge past her, fingers instantly raising to the area of contact and scratching at it. The student backed up, an apology lay forgotten on their tongue, and they disappeared once more into the cloud of danger. Her lips pressed together as she ventured back forth into the unknown.

"Delly!"

Her arm swung back to elbow and dug her nails into the face who had dared to clutch at her arm; it paused before it made contact with the familiar sapphire eyes that stared up at her. Oh. It was Dana.

"What?"

"You're going too fast; I can't keep up with you in this crowd." She pouted at her older sister. Ah, that's what this was. Yes. A crowd of people. Right.

"Not my fault your legs are too short." Pivoting on her foot, she continued the journey through the moving maze, which was a difficult task with extra luggage attached to her arm but nothing she couldn't handle; it definitely didn't make her want to scrape and tear off the skin off her body every time a wall collided with her and would speak at her for some reason. The destination was right in front of her; a breath left her lungs, not realising she had been holding it in; the doors were already open, so she stalked through, tugging her baggage with her directing them to the edge of the Great Lake.

Water. Cedella had always found it soothing. The lake in the garden back home had one, too; it didn't look as ominous as this one. There would always be magical creatures around it; they provided a sense of comfort for her. She didn't need to speak or communicate like neurotypicals always expect you to; she could be quiet and rely on her instincts alone. There was no complexity whenever they did talk; it was straight to the point—no hidden messages. No implications. No expectations. No masking.

"What's wrong?" Salem hissed; he crawled out the back of her shirt, talons digging into her skin as he curled around to her front, pupilless eyes staring into her, her form shook as she stared back before allowing herself to be distracted by the lull of the water of the dark waters before her.

"Whatever do you mean?" A finger scratched at a scab left from earlier that week.

"You know exactly what I mean; I can smell it off you. What's distressing you? Is it the noise?" The hissing growl softened into a purr as the pearly dragon nuzzled its snout under her chin. The rumble in his chest buzzed against Cedella's flesh.

"You've been on edge this whole week. You're irritable, and don't think I see you scratching your arms again. Mum told you to stop that and find another way to stim that doesn't harm you. I thought the rubber bands were working." Dana furrowed her eyebrows at the fifth year.

Her lips curled, a snort leaving her lips. "I broke them all; besides, she just doesn't want me to bring disgrace onto the family name."

"You know that's not true. It never was; that's what he wanted, not mother."

"Sure as hell doesn't feel like it; it always stems back to how it may seem to the public eye."

"She's just looking out for you; we all know you hate social interactions. Not having to worry about what everyone else thinks should help."

"It's not like any of you understand masking or how exhausting it is to pretend to be another person?" Dana said nothing. Cedella let out a hollow laugh. "Of course you don't! You-you all assume that since it's so easy for you, it'll be easy for me. She doesn't want to deal with all the stresses of having an autistic daughter." She barked out laughing.

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