A/n: Woot! I posted on the day I said I would! For a moment, I thought I wouldn't, because...well, I'm lazy and enjoy reading HP/DM fanfiction more than I probably should for it to be considered a healthy obsession. If obsessions can even be healthy. And--oh, looky! I'm rambling. That would be the chocolate I just ate. Moving on...
Sooo. I don't know how many parts this will be yet. But I do know that I will post the next chapter in a week. Kay? Kay. Enjoy!
Hell of a Night
I must be a sap—I must be.
Because only a sap would find this as lovely and enjoyable as I do right now. Only a sap would feel extremely satisfied about sitting in his attic, going through his grandmother's things with him. Only a sap would believe that the past two and a half months have been the best in their life. Only a sap would say they honestly can't remember ever being happier. And only a sap would smile and feel fuzzily warm, content and just right on the inside every time they looked at him.
Which I do. To all of those things. So, that makes me a sap. A very large, sappy sap. For Sam. And—god, it's wonderful.
But anyway. It's a few days before New Year's, and Sam and I are sitting on his attic floor, going through a trunk full of his grandmother's things. I'm not really sure why we decided to do this, or how—it kind of just happened. One second we were hanging out in his room, the next we were in the attic. Not that I'm complaining, because the things in the trunk are all surprisingly fascinating, if a bit unusual. I bet Katherine was an extremely interesting person when she was alive.
"Man, I haven't seen these in ages," Sam says quietly. I glance up from a drawstring bag full of animal bones (yeah, I know—freaking weird) I found in the trunk, over at him. He's staring down at a well-worn deck of tarot cards, running his thumb gently along the edges.
"Do you know how to read them?" I ask.
Sam shrugs and shakes his head a bit. "Not really. I know what some individual cards mean, but I can't read a whole spread."
"That's still more than I know," I tell him.
He just hums noncommittally in his throat, still staring down at the tarot cards in his hands. I watch him curiously, wondering what's going through his mind, especially when a pensive expression comes over his face a few seconds later. Sam then quickly, but carefully, shuffles the cards a couple of times before taking the first card off the deck and flipping it over. The picture is of a finely dressed woman holding a golden goblet, but the card is upside down.
"Queen of Cups, reversed," says Sam. He frowns down at the card. "A fickle woman with few morals; do not trust her for she is keen to use others for her own ends," he adds after a moment's thought. Then Sam snorts and casts me an impish look. "Sound like someone we know?"
I give him a flat, unimpressed stare. Or…I at least try to. But I can't keep the corners of my mouth from twitching up into a reluctant smile, because…well, you know…it's true. That does kind of sound like Gwen.
I shake my head, not only at him, but at myself as well. Sam just flashes me that charming grin of his, and after a few seconds, I find myself smiling back. I honestly can't help it—I'm a complete sap, remember?
And as we continue to smile at each other for a while longer, I begin to think that maybe I'm not the only one in the room. The warmth in Sam's eyes as he looks at me definitely seems sappy to me. Which is perfectly all right. In fact, it's great—great to know that he feels the same way about me as I feel about him. I don't even care that we're kind of on the borderline of being sickeningly sentimental. It's hard to care about those sort of things when you like—and I mean really freaking like—someone this much.
Sam's grin suddenly widens, and he leans over to press his lips against mine. It's just a short, little kiss, but it's enough to leave me smiling inanely as he pulls away. With a similar smile, Sam rests his forehead against mine and traces my jawbone with his thumb as he simply gazes into my eyes again. I stare intently back, doing my best to memorize the exact position of the flecks of hazel in the chocolate brown, marveling at how his irises gradually get darker as they near his pupils. And—Christ, I absolutely love his eyes.
A few seconds later, Sam makes a small, pleased hum in the back of his throat, another large grin on his face. He nuzzles his nose against mine then goes back to the tarot cards without a word. Sighing contently and unable to stop smiling myself, I give him one last glance before I turn my attention back to Katherine's things.
After placing the bag of bones gently back in the trunk, I take out the first thing my hand touches next. It turns out to be a brown leather journal with a small brass clasp on the front to keep it closed. The leather is soft and smooth to the touch, which tells me it was handled a lot. Intrigued, I run my fingers over the cover and along the spine for a moment before I carefully undo the clasp and open it.
Nearly all the pages are filled in. I thumb through them, not really reading what's written down, just admiring the neat cursive script that I'm guessing belonged to Katherine. It's not until I reach the middle of the journal that my attention is caught by something. I stop on that page and stare down at what's written there, my curiosity increasing with each second that passes.
The only thing on the page that I can actually read is at the very top—a short little paragraph that says: Protects from malicious and malign intent; evil energy cannot penetrate. Pure chalk only. Runes must be drawn North, South, East, West, or ineffective. Activates on completion.
I really don't understand what exactly that means, but under those words is a drawing of a circle with a slightly smaller circle within it. The space between the two edges of the circles is divided into four sections with thicker lines where the corners would be if the circles were squares. Strange, spiky symbols are written in each section, with the symbol at each compass point slightly larger than the others.
My eyebrows furrow thoughtfully. I then flip to the next page, and there's another drawing. But instead of a circle within a circle, it's a triangle within a circle. More symbols—or runes, I guess—are written in the space between the sides of the triangle and the circle's edge. The description for this is longer too; though, I don't take the time to read this one before I turn the page again.
And again, and again, and again. The next twenty pages or so are nothing but drawings and their descriptions.
When I reach the last one—whose description takes up the whole previous page and has a very complicated design to it—I finally look up from the journal to glance at Sam. He's still busy with the tarot cards, staring down at a cross-like spread on the floor in front of him with a small frown. I gently nudge his arm to get his attention. Sam lifts his head up, raising his eyebrows questioningly at me, and I angle the journal towards him so he can see the drawings.
"What are these?" I ask.
Sam leans closer to me and rests his chin on my shoulder, apparently deciding that's the best way to get a better view of the book (not that I'm complaining, or anything). I flip slowly backwards through the pages so he can look at some of the other drawings. After a moment, Sam stops me and takes the journal out of my hands.
"I think they're wards and ritual seals," he eventually says, turning a few pages himself. He stops on a complicated sketch of interlocking triangles. "Yeah, they are. I remember Grandma using this one to communicate with a spirit that was too weak to on its own." Sam then flips back a few more pages to the first drawing I came across.
"This one is a kind of protection ward, though," he tells me.
Humming thoughtfully, I lightly trace the outer circle of the ward with my index finger. With my interest in the journal continuing to grow—especially after learning what the drawings are—I can't help but wonder what else is written in it. I drop my hand and stare at the book for a while longer before I twist my neck a bit so I can look at Sam.
"Can I borrow this?" I ask.
"Sure," he says, and hands the journal back to me. I smile my thanks at him then turn to the very first page, intending on actually reading it this time.
Sam watches me for a little while with his head still rested on my shoulder. But after a minute or two, he sits up and starts digging through the trunk again. Now more curious about what he's doing than what's in the journal, I take note of the page I'm on, close it, and redo the clasp. I look back at Sam just as he pulls out a palm-sized bundle of dark purple cloth from the trunk. There's a small, triumphant look on his face.
"What's that?" I ask.
Sam doesn't answer; he only flashes me quick smile then goes back to carefully unwrapping whatever is inside the cloth. When he's done, I see a glint of silver against the purple, but before I can get a better look at what it is, Sam picks it up and slips it over my head. Blinking in slight confusion, I look down at the chain now draped around my neck and automatically reach up to touch the inch-and-a-half-long black crystal hanging from it. It's strangely warm against my fingers.
After a moment, I glance inquiringly up at Sam. "What is it?" I ask again, still holding on to the crystal.
"Black obsidian," he tells me. He's now looking at me in a way that makes my face feel a bit warmer than normal. "It's supposed to repel negative energy."
Sam then rests our foreheads together again, slipping his hand over the one I have around the crystal. He holds my hand tightly as he stares into my eyes. I notice his are unusually intense and serious all of a sudden, and it worries me.
"What's wrong?" I ask him, reaching up to stroke his cheekbone with my free hand.
Sam shakes his head slightly, though he keeps his eyes locked on mine as he does. "I don't know," he says slowly. "I just abruptly got the feeling that something isn't right."
"I don't know," he repeats, and I can now hear the anxiety in his voice. "I can't explain it—it's weird."
Looking at him with tender concern, I touch my nose to his and slide my hand to the back of his neck to tangle my fingers in his hair. Sam relaxes almost immediately, gradually exhaling and allowing his eyes to fall close. I smile a little at him as I start to massage his neck with my thumb.
"Better?" I ask after about a minute has passed.
"Mhm." Sam nods.
Then, with his eyes still closed, he tilts his head up until his mouth brushes mine. But unlike the kiss he gave me earlier, this one is far from a sweet, little peck. Instead, it's nothing but the firm pressure and insistent movement of Sam's lips against my own. I soon find myself being bore backwards a bit with his one arm around my waist, his other hand on the back of my neck, and his tongue in my mouth. And, really—what else am I supposed to do but kiss him back just as hard?
Unfortunately, I only have the chance to get a firmer grip on his hair and nip playfully at his bottom lip before my cell phone starts ringing. With similar grunts of annoyance, Sam and I break apart from each other, and I pull my phone out of my pocket.
"Hello?" I kind of snap once I have the stupid thing up to my ear.
"Reese! You need to get your ass and Walker's over here ASAP, all right? Kay. Good. Bye."
Then there's a small click, telling me I've been hung up on, and—do I really even need to say who that was, or can you figure it out for yourself?
Shaking my head and huffing, I stuff my phone back into my jeans. Sam takes one glance at my exasperated expression and gives me a knowing look.
"What does Her Majesty want now?" he asks, and I snort even though I know I shouldn't.
"To get over to her house as soon as possible," I tell him. "And before you ask why, I don't know," I add when I see him begin to open his mouth, his eyebrows coming together questioningly. "She didn't say."
"Of course she didn't," Sam mutters, rolling his eyes.
I look sardonically at him. "But that's Gwen for you, isn't it?"
Wearily, Sam nods. Then, he sighs largely and looks down at his watch (the one I got him for Christmas, mind you). He just stares at it for a few seconds before glancing back up at me with an uneasy expression on his face.
"As soon as possible, she said?"
"Nothing good can come of that."
"Not even remotely."
Sam heaves another sigh and starts to push himself up off the floor. "All right, then," he says. "Let's get this over with."
And as he offers me his hand, Sam looks resigned, yet somehow strangely determined as well. Smiling at him (because I'm a sap), I grab the journal in my left hand, his in my right, and allow him to help me to my feet. Then, with our hands still entwined, we head down the stairs together, out to his truck. I know neither of us wants to go, but we don't really have a choice. We kind of have to, or else we'll have to deal with Gwen's bitching, and we've heard enough of that to last us several lifetimes.
Besides, if Sam and I were going to be completely honest with ourselves and each other, we're both too curious for our own good.
About fifteen minutes later, Sam and I are walking up Gwen's stairs. Evan's already here—I saw his SUV in the driveway when we pulled in. I'd say he's been here for a while too, if the decent covering of snow on it is anything to go by. What's more, I can hear Gwen and him are in the middle of one of their civil arguments before I even reach the top of the staircase. I share a look with Sam as we head towards the sound of their voices.
The first thing I notice when we enter Gwen's room is that she and Evan are sitting side-by-side in front of her desk. Evan's shaking his head while Gwen glares at him, and none of those things surprise me. Not even the fact that they're sitting next to each other.
Ever since we got back from the Barrens—and before we even left New Jersey, really—Gwen's attitude towards Evan has changed considerably. They've actually been getting along. (Well, you know…civil arguments and a few real arguments aside, they have been.) I wouldn't exactly call them friends, but it's pretty damn close. I mean, they can hang out—and have been hanging out—just the two of them, and haven't murdered each other yet. Which is a major freaking turnaround if you ask me, seeing as Gwen honestly hated Evan before.
And while this seems all fine and dandy, it's not. Trust me. There's a precarious undercurrent to Gwen and Evan's newfound semi-sorta-friendship; it's very clear to me that one small mistake could cause things to go back to how they used to be between them. Or worse.
Also, it's painfully evident that Gwen's change of behavior towards him has made Evan absolutely smitten with her. You know…even more so than he already was. But now he's going to get his hopes up, because Gwen will never return those feelings of his. And if it turns out she does, I will eat my socks.
That's not the worst of it, though. I'm pretty sure that, because Evan's been so obvious about his feelings for her, Gwen knows. She knows, and she exploiting them to get what she wants. She's using Evan—leading him on. And it's utterly sickening. I can't remember ever being more disgusted with her.
I clear my throat to get their attention and they stop arguing to look up at Sam and me. Evan gives us both a welcoming grin and a cheerful "Hey!", but Gwen just stares at us with an unimpressed look. Her eyes flicker once to the clock on her nightstand then back to me, narrowing. I roll my eyes at her, not caring if she sees.
Gwen might have stopped being a complete bitch towards Evan, but she hasn't stopped being one towards me. In fact, she's been more ruthless and bitchy with me ever since Sam and I officially got together after coming back from the Barrens. I have several theories as to why…
One: I'm no longer at her every beck and call since I'm now spending most of my free time with Sam; two: Gwen can't stand that I don't really put up with her bullshit anymore, because A—being with Sam has given me a backbone, and B—seeing how good of friends him and Evan are (not only to each other, but to me as well), made me realize just how suckish and one-sided my "friendship" with Gwen is; and three: she just doesn't like Sam or the fact that he's my boyfriend.
At least, I think those are the reasons. But who the hell knows with her. I mean, it might be something else completely, that only she understands, and—
Wait. You know…that's probably what her problem is. I mean, really. It's Gwen.
She goes to open her mouth, most likely to say something rude about us taking our sweet, sweet time, but I shake my head and cut her off before she can even get a word out.
"Don't even start," I warn. "We got here as quickly as we could with the snow and how the roads are."
Gwen harrumphs and haughtily tilts her chin up. "I'm sure you did," she says dryly.
"Whatever," I say, rolling my eyes again and shaking my head slightly. I then take Sam's hand and lead him over to Gwen's bed. I ignore the glare she gives us for it as we sit down on the edge. Sam does too, though he can't help but fidget a little under her gaze. He really doesn't like being stared at like that; it unsettles him.
Evan suddenly coughs into his hand to get our attentions. "So…about why Gwen called you over…" he says, and at his words, Gwen's demeanor completely changes. She let's out an "Oh, yeah!", like she'd completely forgotten about that until now, and then turns back towards Sam and me with an excited smile on her face.
And that is why I'm almost certain she's bipolar. Or just absolutely ridiculous. Or both.
"Okay," Gwen begins, tossing her hair behind her shoulders, her eyes glowing with enthusiasm. (I should mention that nothing good ever comes of it when her eyes are like that.) "So, yesterday, while I was visiting my great aunt—well, technically, I was talking a walk down her street while my parents visited—but anyway. On my walk, I bumped into Widow Finley— this old woman who lives a few houses down from my aunt—while she was getting her mail—"
"Fascinating," Sam whispers surreptitiously in my ear, and I have to bite down on my tongue to keep from laughing.
"—and we started talking. I don't really know how we got on the subject, but we ended up talking about ghosts, and she told me that she thinks her house is haunted."
Oh, no. No, no, no. I know where this is going. And I don't like it. Not one bit. Neither does Sam if the way he quietly whimpers and starts holding my hand tighter is anything to go by.
"So then I told her a little bit about what happened Covington house," Gwen continues, completely unaware of the looks Sam and I are giving her. She's too excited about what she's talking about to notice anything like that, and is becoming even more so each second. "And afterwards, Mrs. Finley told me that she was going to see some relatives over the weekend, and, if we wanted to, we could house-sit for her."
Gwen then beams at us, nearly bouncing up and down in her chair with excitement. "It's so great!" she says. "We have the chance to investigate another haunted house!"
"Um…" I blink at her a few times before I shake my head, my eyebrows creasing. "Wait a moment…what if Sam and I don't want to 'investigate' another haunted house?"
The smile on Gwen's face immediately falls away, like it was never there in the first place, and she starts to glare at us again. Her eyes flash angrily and dangerously, all signs of enthusiasm now gone.
"You have to," she growls. "Walker's the clairvoyant—it'd be completely pointless if he didn't come with."
"Sam is also absolutely freaking terrified of ghosts," I remind her, getting a bit angry as well. She's so goddamn inconsiderate, and it's fucking annoying. "And, I'm personally not too fond of this idea myself, after the last little adventure you made us take nearly got us eaten."
Gwen rolls her eyes exasperatedly at me. "But we didn't get eaten, did we? Besides, we'll be fine at the house—it's not like ghosts can eat us." She says this so condescendingly that I see red for a split second. "And honestly. They're ghosts. What harm can they do us?"
"A lot, actually," Sam says. Or rather, kind of mumbles. He tries to meet Gwen's eyes, but can only manage it for a few seconds at a time with the fierce glare she's giving him. "A ghost burned Reese's hand, remember? And that wasn't even on purpose."
Gwen goes to say something else, her mouth twisted into an ugly sneer, but Evan distracts her by briefly touching her arm. She snaps her head in his direction and glowers at him instead. He stares calmly back until, eventually—and kind of shockingly—Gwen huffs, crossing her arms over her chest, and turns snootily away from all of us without another word. I see Evan give her a small, fond smile before he turns towards Sam and me.
"You guys don't have to come if you really don't want to," he says, sounding completely sincere. Gwen instantly swings her head back around to shot him a scandalized and betrayed look, but Evan expertly ignores her. "We just thought we would let you know you were welcome to."
From beside me, Sam shifts uncomfortably on the bed. I look over to see him staring at Evan with an expression that's a complicated combination of anxiety, curiosity, guilt, frustration and resignation. I have to confess it's an impressive look to accomplish.
…even if it does cause my heart to ache, and makes me want to hold him until he smiles again.
"What are the chances that the house is actually haunted?" Sam asks.
"No idea," Evan admits with a shrug and slightly sheepish look.
Closing his eyes, Sam bows his head a bit and just breathes deeply through his nose for a moment. I squeeze his hand reassuringly, knowing exactly what this behavior of his means.
He's already decided what he's going to do, and is now just gathering up his courage.
"All right," Sam says eventually. He lifts his head back up, reopening his eyes and exhaling hard. Despite the paleness and reluctance clearly visible on his face, there's also a grave, determined edge to it. Not only does it make me kind of proud of him, but it's also oddly appealing to me and makes me want to jump him.
"All right," repeats Sam. "I'll go."
And once the words are out of his mouth, he promptly looks nauseous about it and like he wants to take them back. Regardless of that fact, Evan still flashes him a thankful smile then turns to me with a curious, yet expectant, expression.
"Reese?" he says. "What about you?"
I cock a wry eyebrow at Evan. "Do you honestly even need to ask?" I'll be damned if I let Sam go into a haunted house with only Evan and Gwen for company/comfort/protection. He needs me there with him. And, to be perfectly honest, I'd worry constantly and feel guilty as hell if I wasn't there with him. So, yes—of course I'm going.
I repeat that last bit aloud and, out of the corner of my eyes, I see Sam give me a heart-meltingly affectionate look as he squeezes my hand gratefully. I squeeze his back, smiling a bit at him, and ignore the knowing and victorious smirk Evan is giving us.
Manipulative bastard. He's definitely been spending too much time with Gwen.
"Fantastic!" Gwen exclaims, clapping her hands together and causing us all to look over at her. "We're heading over tomorrow evening at six, so meet here at five. Oh—and make sure you pack warm clothes; I heard it's still going to be snowing rather nastily," she adds as an afterthought. "Also, we should probably bring…"
I stare uncertainly at Gwen as she rambles on about the plan for tomorrow. That excited glint is back in her eyes and now there's also an unnerving shark like grin on her face. Both of those things tell me that I've probably made a huge mistake by agreeing to this, but that's not the only thing that has me worried:
I suddenly can't shake the feeling that something just isn't quite right about this.
And one shared look with Sam is all I need to tell me that he feels exactly the same way.