Chapter 1: Watching From Afar
Harry watched as Melanie threw down her staple gun and punched Cameron, her fist connecting (and breaking) his oddly shaped nose. Heated words were exchanged between the two before the young man ran off, most likely to find the medic.
Melanie huffed, growling under her breath, and stomped down the street in the other direction, rage radiating off of her person in waves. ‘Perhaps she’d possess the power of time,’ Harry mused to himself.
A tug on his arm drew his attention to Macy, the eldest Charmed One and secret sister to the Vera siblings. Her hair was pulled back and she was dressed in a long, blue coat that swished around her legs whenever a gust of wind blew past, lips painted the color of dried autumn leaves.
Harry blinked, suddenly realizing his companion had been talking. “I’m sorry, could you please repeat that?”
Macy’s cheeks tinted red. “Ya, sure. Um, so, that girl, she’s my sister?”
“Melanie? Yes. The middle child.” He hummed, suddenly unable to keep the amusement out of his tone. “Perhaps that’s why she’s so prone to outbursts.”
Macy nudged his shoulder. “Or it’s because of that guy she just punched. Who was he anyway?”
“Some prat who thinks he knows everything.”
Now it was Harry’s turn to feel warm under the collar. “Not important.” He cleared his throat.
“Ookay. Anyway, you said you work here?”
“Hm? Oh, yes. I…” He trailed off, recalling Melanie’s crass reaction to his profession. How would Macy react? Would it be positive? Negative? Neutral? “I am the new Women's Study professor.”
Macy arched an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“I assure you, I am qualified.”
“Oh, ya, no, I believe you.”
“Do you?” He didn’t mean for the words to come out so hard and defensive. Sure, Melanie’s reaction was expected- this was her deceased mother's job and he’d just swooped in and taken it from under her nose.
Macy smiled, bumping his shoulder. “Yes. I might have only just met you—“
”We’ve been acquainted for a month.”
”—but I like you. And you're nice enough. Little quirky. Not that that’s a bad thing.”
The coil in his chest unwound and the brief tension bubbling between his shoulders dissipated. “Good. Now, I seem to recall you just moving here." He offered up his arm. "Fancy a bit of a tour?”
His charge snorted, locking her arm with his. “Lead the way.”
Chapter 2: Tea for Two
Macy wears pink reading glasses in this story.
Takes place after Macy goes to meet Mel and Maggie for the first time.
Macy sat on the plush sofa, laptop stationed on her knees, fingers typing away when the door to the flat swung open.
“Macy? Why haven’t you gone to bed yet?” Harry asked, stunned to see his charge still up, the light from her computer screen accenting the dark circles under her eyes. He shut the door, coat slipping off his frame. “It’s well past midnight.”
Macy looked up, pink reading glasses slipping down her nose. “I wanted to wait for you.” She shrugged shyly. “Didn’t seem right, going to bed while you’re still out.”
Her words warmed something within the Whitelighter’s chest and he couldn't help but let a small smile tug at his lips. “Well, then it is only right that I prepare a cuppa for us.”
“Cuppa?” Macy’s brows pinched. “And that would be…?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Honestly. You Americans. It’s tea.” The lights in the kitchen flickered on, cabinets opening and tea bags dumping into mugs. Harry moved to boil a pot of water. “How was your day?” He called over his shoulder.
Macy sighed. “Fine… besides how utterly horrible the meeting with my sisters went.”
“You make it sound so formal.”
“If it was formal I might have stood a chance,” Macy muttered, typing out a quick formula for her report.
“It couldn't have gone that terribly.”
“Trust me,” She shot back, “it did. I crashed and burned.”
Harry checked the water, making sure it was hot enough, before pouring it into the mugs. “Try and see it from their end. A mother dead, new bloke swiping her job away, mystery sister suddenly showing up out of the blue. Gives reason for doubt.” He rounded the corner, joining his charge on the sofa. “Here. Careful, it’s still hot.”
Macy set her laptop aside and took the drink, giving him a grateful nudge. “Thanks. And I guess…” She shrugged. “Mel made it pretty clear she doesn't trust me. I think she kinda hates me, actually.”
Harry frowned, watching the way Macy’s features hardened, tension filling the space between her shoulders. Long, slender fingers held her cup tighter, lips molding together. She didn’t say, but Harry knew the denial of her sisters hurt.
He put his cup down, easing closer. “Give them time.”
“I don’t want to try again.”
Harry blinked. “Macy-”
“I don’t want to try again,” Macy repeated, resolve firm. “I’ve been on my own this long, I can handle it.”
“You aren’t alone.” The Whitelighter reached out, placing his hand over her knee. Thankfully, she didn’t pull away. “Give them time. That’s all I ask.”
Harsh words surfaced, flashes of lightning from that night almost a forewarning. Macy sighed, staring down at where his hand rested on her skin. He was surprisingly warm, but not in an uncomfortable, stifling way.
Macy leaned back, pressing herself into the plush cushions. “I- okay. Why don’t you work on telling Mel and Maggie about their powers and I’ll focus on my new job. That way, I give them space while getting some work done.”
Harry frowned, but a small head tilt from his companion had his argument thrown out the window. “Fine,” he relented, “I suppose that is fair.”
“Thank you,” Macy whispered after a lull in conversation.
“You’re quite welcome.”
Chapter 3: Kidnapped By The Whitelighter
Harry introduces Mel and Maggie to magic
When the darkness cleared and the buzzing in their ears subsided, both Mel and Maggie blinked, trying to adjust to the sudden shift in light.
Instantly, both sisters screamed, their voices piercing. Mel tugged on her restraints, lips bending down into a scowl. Maggie wiggled in her chair, feet banging on the ground.
Harry held up a hand. “Ladies, ladies, please. There is a reasonable explanation for all the theatrics.” He stood from his perch on the table, dusting down his vest. “You are witches. Witches who are destined to save the world from impending doom.”
He ignored the lull in commotion but took a little pride in the way their mouths fell open. “That’s right. You are the Charmed Ones. The most powerful trio of witches.”
Mel glared, head snapping to Maggie. “He’s the new Women’s Studies professor. I knew something was off about him.”
“Well, that is unnecessarily rude,” Harry chided, “but I’ll let it go because I know this is a lot.”
Maggie tugged on her restraints again. “Can you at least untie us? I’m getting a rash.” Her gaze shifted to Mel. “Kappa doesn't do rashes, Mel!”
Harry pressed down the urge to roll his eyes. Sororities. He’d never understand them. With a quick snap of the fingers, the ropes unwound themselves, dropping to the floor lifelessly. “There we are.”
Instantly, both sisters started talking over one another. It was like opening pandora's box. Harry exhaled, suddenly feeling exhausted. “Girls,” he tried, but neither could hear him. He tried again. And again. And again.
Both sisters turned, their voices lowering. Mel shot him a glare.
“Excuse me. Ladies,” Harry amended. “Now, if you’d let me explain, this is very important, so I implore you to listen. The world is vast and evergrowing, but humans only see a fraction of it. You, however, have just been exposed to-- what in the devil are you doing?” Harry asked, watching the middle sister wave her hands around.
“Trying to freeze time,” Mel snapped.
“Oh, is that your power?” So he’d been right in his earlier assertion. “Well, it makes sense, very common with control freaks.”
“So why isn't it working?”
“It’s a craft. Witchcraft. That means you have to figure out how to access it and control it,” Harry explained.
“So… this means I really was reading minds? I’m not totally losing it?” Maggie asked, dark eyes growing wide. As if all this was just starting to hit her.
Perhaps it was because she was the youngest, or perhaps it was the way she asked her question, but Harry suddenly felt the need to soften his voice. “A testament to your innate sensitivity. Or desperate insecurity. They’re two sides of a coin, really. Not to worry, I will help you understand it all.” He puffed out his chest. “You see, I am an adviser to witches. They call me,” he paused for dramatic effect. “A Whitelighter. Physically, I died in 1957--”
Before he could continue, Mel spoke up, her brows pinched together. “Wait. Was mom a witch?”
Harry sighed. “Bingo… and part of my speech. Yes, your mother was a witch, a very powerful one. She bound your powers when each of you was born to protect you, to allow you to live normal lives.” He watched as Mel shook her head, disbelief simmering under her skin. Maggie just looked shocked, mouth agape. It made what he had to say next a bit harder. “Now, she was in the process of unbinding those powers… the night she was murdered.”
Twin gasps filled the room. Mel gripped the chair. “I knew it! I knew she didn’t fall.”
Maggie drew in her bottom lip. “W-who killed her?”
“We don’t know as yet,” Harry admitted, “there was ice at the scene. So, cold is a characteristic, but there are literally thousands of different demons associated with cold…” he trailed off, turning to retrieve a witch's most prized possession, showing it to the girls. “It’s all in here. The Book of Shadows. The ancient oracles predicted signs of Apocalypse.” He flipped the tomb open. “The first. ‘When the weakest of men reaches ill-gotten glory’- ah god, this goes on and on. The language is far too flowery for my taste. Safe to say, it’s your current president.”
Maggie leaned forward. “Can we get back to where you mentioned Apocalypse.”
“Not really. I’m in a rhythm here.” Harry cleared his throat. “The second sign. ‘The movements great sages falls’-- well that refers to your mother's death and the senior witches who've been killed since.”
“Other witches?” Mel whispered, “how many are there?”
Harry clipped the Book of Shadows shut. Perhaps it would have been better if Macy were here. That way, there wouldn't be so many bloody interruptions. “Really, this works much better as a monologue, if you don’t mind.”
He ignored the eye roll from the middle sister, reopened the book, and picked up where he left off. “The final sign hasn't happened yet. ‘With the blossoming of death comes the awakening of the source of all evil… and then we fall’. So you can see why we must finish what your mother started that night.”
“Wait, wait, wait. Hold on a sec.”
Harry bit his tongue, turning to face the youngest. “Yes?”
“You said trio.”
Maggie nodded, sure of herself. “Ya, I remember. In the beginning, you said trio.” She turned to Mel. “He said trio of witches. Three. Three, Mel. This has to be, like, some sort of sign.” She didn’t give Mel a chance to respond, shifting her attention back to the Whitelighter. “I think she said her name was Macy. She said she’s our sister."
“Ah yes. Macy Vaughn. I’ve already made plans to meet with her later.” There was no reason to lie, really, but something told Harry that it would be best if he kept his relation to the eldest sister under wraps. For now. Perhaps it was the possible timelines tingling in his skull.
A small smile tugged at Maggie’s lips. “So, she’s really…” Her voice broke a little. The possibility of having another sibling, an older sibling, was staggering.
Harry nodded. “Yes. Marisol wanted her here. That is why she sent her a grant application. So, you’re mother's spellbook.” He handed the Book of Shadows to the youngest, making sure to lock eyes. “Keep it safe. It is your guide to using the Power of Three to protect the innocent and vanquish demons.” Harry perched himself back on the table. “You have forty-eight hours to decide whether you want to keep your witchly fate.”
“We get to decide?” Mel asked, disbelieve coloring her voice.
“Oh yes. Being a witch is a fully pro-choice enterprise. And the decision must be unanimous. If you refuse, everything since, made possible by magical intervention, will be undone.”
There was a breath of silence, Harry believing his words had sunken into the two sisters until Maggie’s voice broke through. “You guys, this demon harvests witches organs for freaking smoothies.”
Harry waved her concern off. “Don’t worry, the underworld has no knowledge of your powers being awakened.” Instantly, a chill ran down his spine, but he ignored it.
Harry left the two to ‘hash things out’ without him, making his way back to the condo he shared with Macy.
Perhaps a nice cuppa would ease his ever growing headache.
“So, how'd it go?”
Harry swallowed a mouth full of warm tea, reclining in the soft chair. “Fairly well. Though I must say, both sisters are prone to interrupting perfectly planned out speeches.”
Macy, who sat across from him in the living room, stifled a giggle, nursing her own cup. “Let’s be honest, no one can sit through your talks without breaking face.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Cheeky.”
“Mh. I try.”
Chapter 4: Of Demon Dogs and Their Masters
“Why didn’t you summon me?” Was the first thing Harry asked when he orbed into the Vera’s attic. No, he didn’t expect the two sisters to trust him immediately, but receiving a call from Macy, informing him of what had happened hours later was unacceptable. “I told you-”
Maggie held up her hand. “Stop talking!” Ignoring the way Harry’s eyes widened, she pointed at the welt on her cheek. “I have a question. Is this gonna scar?”
Harry sighed. Of course. He stepped closer, inspecting the damaged skin before raising his palm, warm light pouring out from under his fingertips. It took seconds to heal the scar, and when it was over, he took a step back.
“Good news, I’m a healer, no scar. Bad news, looks like something in the underworld knows of your powers.” He hesitated. “I was wrong.”
Mel was the first to jump in, arms crossing over her chest. “If you’re wrong then what’s the point of calling you?”
Oh, she’s been waiting for that jab. Harry ran his hands down his trousers. “A paradox for another day. But here’s what I can tell you.” His voice rose for both effect and to emphasize the importance of their situation. “A demon dog always comes with a demon owner. Typically a possessed human. That’s who we’ve got to find.”
Harry’s gaze zeroed in on Maggie. “Did anyone know where you were going before the attack?”
“... Just Lucy, the president of Kappa.” It took a moment, but realization suddenly dawned on Maggie, her brown eyes growing wide. “And I heard her thoughts say she had to get rid of me. I- I thought she meant cut me from rush!”
Mel rolled her eyes. “Of course it's her. So what now? Is there some kind of spell to defeat her?”
Harry made a show of glancing down at the Book of Shadows. “Yes, somewhere in that two-thousand-page tomb.” he gestured for both girls to get closer. “Let’s get reading.”
Before anyone could do anything, Macy re-emerged from her little nook in the back. Harry blinked, taking in her near giddy attitude. Had he missed something?
She shot him a smile. “Or we can use sodium bicarbonate. Look.” She sprinkled a few white flakes onto the vile with the demon’s saliva. Not seconds later did the saliva darken, a small cloud of smoke rising from the now-empty vile.
“Like I said, it’s some kind of hydrochloric acid compound. So sodium bicarbonate neutralizes it,” Macy explained.
Harry arched an eyebrow, leaning in closer to get a better look. “Ah, yes, well. Saves a lot of time.”
Macy turned her eyes on him, and instantly, his wounded pride melted away. She looked happy, excited even, to have found a solution using her profession. Harry moved in closer, catching her elbow in what he hopped conveyed how proud he was.
“Okay. So let’s go get Lucy,” Mel’s voice broke the air between them.
“Stop. We can’t just get rid of the president of Kappa,” Maggie interjected, looking at both Harry and Macy for support.
“We can if she’s the demon who killed mom.”
“What if she’s not and you make some crazy scene.”
Harry glanced between the two arguing sisters, not too sure of what to do. Family disputes were never his area. Macy tried breaking up the fight, but her shy voice melted into the background.
“You’re seriously scared about running rush?” Mel asked hands on hips.
Maggie shot her sister a look. “Ya! I am.”
“I can’t believe this.”
“I’m sorry I want a life when this is over.”
Macy inched further away from Mel and Maggie, her back pressing against Harry’s arm.
“Why?” Mel asked, her fingers digging into her clothes.
Something inside Maggie broke. “Because they don’t blame me for mom’s death!”
Silence followed. Mel’s shoulders sagged, the fight visibly draining from her bones. Maggie pushed a few locks of hair behind her ear, refusing to back down. Both never broke eye contact.
“... I get it,” Maggie whispered, her voice cracking a little. “You think if I’d have answered my phone sooner, we would have gotten here in time. Well, let me tell you, I blame myself everyday for not answering.”
No one tried to stop Maggie when she made a move to leave, disappearing down the attic steps. Mel watched, lips pressed together tightly, body stuck in place.
This was why Harry left the family business to the family. He wasn’t sure whether to approach Mel or leave her to stew. She already made it clear her dislike of him. Perhaps it’s best to just… go.
Harry touched Macy’s hip, silently asking for her opinion. To his dismay, he felt his charge freeze, her body ridged.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have to stand around, sinking in the thick air for long. Outside, they heard a crash, and when the three went to investigate, they found no sign of Maggie.
Chapter 5: The Calm Before The Storm
Set right before Mel and Macy go recuse Maggie from her possessed ex-boyfriend.
Harry pushed the last bottle of sodium bicarbonate into a small bag, before tying it up and handing it over to Macy. “Are you sure you are ready?”
His charge shrugged, fingers fumbling with the ties. “As ready as I can be.” Her voice lowered, eyes darting over to the far end of the kitchen.
Her movements looked strained, bones tight. Harry sighed slowly, recalling his earlier days as a Whiteligther. Many young witches became nervous and jumpy their first time out… However, none of them had a sister’s life on the line.
Harry moved closer, hand coming to rest on Macy’s shoulder. “The first time is always a tad bit frightening.”
“... ya, a tad bit.”
Macy drew her bottom lip in. “I’m just worried about Maggie. I mean, what if I mess up? It’s her life at stake here. We can’t afford any missteps-”
“You will find your sister,” Harry whispered, cutting her rant short. “Believe me, you will.”
Their eyes connected, brown meeting ivy green. Harry’s grip on her shoulder tightened, fingers pressing into the soft material of her shirt. “Whitelighter’s word.”
Macy's muscles remained tense, but her teeth let her bottom lip go. “Okay.”
“Everything will be alright.”
“Ya… I… still nervous.”
Harry chuckled. “That’s to be expected.”
“All the time?”
“No. Not all the time.” He tapped the bag of sodium bicarbonate. “Good luck, Macy. I will be awaiting your call, should you need me.” He turned to leave but paused. “Though, I’m sure you won’t.”
He smiled over his shoulder, gaining a small head tilt from Macy before disappearing.
Chapter 6: Midnight Call
Set after Mel and Macy rescue Maggie and all share a sweet, heart-to-heart moment.
Her soft voice echoed around in his mind like a bell.
Harry pushed the kettle off the stove, grabbed his scarf and coat, and orbing away, repairing in the Vera’s kitchen.
He looked around, taking in the open cabinets and used glass measuring cups, the moonlight streaming in from the open window reflecting off their surface perfectly. Well, someone has been awfully busy.
Harry turned, eyes landing on Macy, who’s hair was pushed back into a messy ponytail, clothes hanging haphazardly off her shoulders. Despite her appearance, she looked rather jittery, clutching the Book of Shadows to her chest. Harry arched an eyebrow. “You called?”
“Ya. Yes. I did.” Macy took his hand, pulling him over to the dining table, where a slew of beakers (filled with only God knows what) were scattered about. “I was looking through the Book of Shadows, research, you know? Well, the demon we vanquished yesterday, he wasn’t cold.”
“He wasn’t cold,” Macy grinned, squeezing his hand. “It kept nagging at me, and nagging, and nagging. So I asked Mel. Get this, the demon who killed mom, the police report said there was ice where mom died. And crows. Lots of crows. But the demon who tried to kill Maggie, there were no crows and no ice. So, logic would lead us to believe that…”
“Your murderer is still at large,” Harry concluded.
Something in Macy’s eyes sparked. “Right. So… ” her voice trailed off a little and she gestured towards the mess on the table. “Feel like helping me figure it out?”
Any reasonable person would decline and venture back to bed, any reasonable person would offer to pick this back up in the morning when they were more aware and focused, but all Harry could do was grin. Perhaps his charge’s energy was infectious. “Well, seeing as I’m already here.”
Chapter 7: Confronting The Ice Demon
It took most of the night, with Macy directing and Harry translating foreign text from the Book, but eventually, the duo managed to dig up enough information to pin-point where the assumed ice demon was.
Thankfully, the two younger Vera siblings were still fast asleep in their mother’s bedroom, so Harry had ample time to take his leave, but before he disappeared, he made sure Macy knew the dangers of going into battle with an upper-level demon.
“Be careful. Be smart. This Professor Warner Thaine will be that much harder to vanquish. No amount of sodium bicarbonate will dissipate him, I’m afraid.”
Macy smiled, the Book clutched to her chest. “We’ll be careful,” she promised.
Harry narrowed his gaze, searching those deep brown eyes. When he found her words to be true, he offered a small smile in return. “Very well. And you have the incantation?”
Macy awkwardly shifted the Book, pulling out a neatly folded piece of paper from her pocket. “Right here.”
Without anything else to say, Harry turned to leave, but the slight hesitation he felt from his charge gave him pause. Macy drew her bottom lip in, chewing it, looking as if she wanted to ask something else, but the upstairs bedroom door suddenly swung open and heavy footfalls made their way over to the landing.
Harry fixed his scarf and disappeared in a brilliant flash of light.
Harry had been in the middle of archiving scrolls when Maggie’s frantic voice filled his head. He winced, touching his ear. “Not so loud,” he sighed, knowing full well she couldn't hear him.
Well, looks like the scrolls would just have to wait.
Standing up, Harry fixed his suit and snapped his fingers.
What he stepped into could only be described as frantic mayhem. It was cold, foggy, and the floor of, what he assumed was some sort of lab, was coated over in ice. How utterly dreadful. Harry pitied the soul who’d have to explain the frosty room away later.
When his eyes traveled around, he noticed the ice demon, formally parading around as Professor Thaine, frozen in place by a shaking Mel.
Maggie gave him a wide-eyed stare, gesturing frantically to the wall behind them. “Go! Heal him! Hurry!”
Harry turned and rolled his eyes. Pinned to the wall was the Cameron bloke. He looked near death, the color drastically fading from his cheeks. With little effort, Harry healed him, letting the student fall to the icy floor.
He heard Macy’s voice reciting their incantation, but not even halfway through the backlash hit. Harry calmly moved to Macy’s side, hand on her elbow. “It won’t work unless you use the Power of Three. Either accept your destiny or go back to your formal lives,” Harry bit out.
The situation was grave, with the ice demon slowly breaking free of Mel’s hold on him. There was no time to filter out his tone.
Macy locked eyes with Maggie first, then with Mel, before finally landing on Harry. “Y-you said all magical intervention reverses if we refuse?”
“You won’t remember any of this, yes. Including meeting each other.” 'Our paths will have never crossed,' went unsaid. It wasn’t the time nor place. Neither Maggie nor Mel had to be pervy to Macy and his relation. Not if they decided to forgo the Power of Three.
There was a brief look shared between all the sisters.
“You know I’m in,” Mel said, breathing heavily. The extended use of her power, still being so new to the craft, was taking its toll fast.
Harry made sure to keep a close eye on her.
“I wanna know you guys,” Macy whispered before her fingers molded together. “And figure out this whole witch thing and get a freaking Nobel prize so ya, I’m in too.”
It was all left to Maggie. The youngest hesitated, staring down at her feet.
“Maggie!” Mel gasped.
“Okay! Fine! I’m in, I’m in."
And just like that, the proverbial lock broke. Harry felt timelines solidify, spanning and intertwining together, all laced with a golden glow.
“Now, join hands,” Harry instructed, “hurry.”
In Mel’s haste, she let her hand down just as an ice pick went sailing through the air, nearly slicing Macy’s shoulder apart. Harry sighed, brushing his hands down his torso. He’d needed a good cuppa after this.
Before the sisters could scramble to join hands, the ice demon dismantled his body, using it to create a thicker fog, forcing the Charmed Ones apart and to the floor.
Macy stumbled back, Harry catching her before she fell. “Alright?” He asked, steadying her.
“Ya. I… that was…” A shiver ran down her spine.
Harry chuckled. “Yes, quite chilling.”
“Um, ya, but Harry? I’m kinda freaking out a little right now. How are we going to find Mel and Maggie?”
Ah, yes, that was the obstacle.
“M-Macy,” Maggie’s voice gasped, choking, sounding far-off. “I- I can’t br-breath!”
Thinking fast, Harry leaned in, making so the ice demon wouldn't hear. “Use your power. Feel where your sisters are and pull them in. Draw them to you.”
He felt Macy’s breath slowly steady out, her focus expanding throughout the room. She faltered a little, but without his help, she managed to pull both Vera siblings in.
Their hands automatically clasped together, fingers interwinding. They chanted together, voices growing strong and powerful with each word.
Slowly, the fog fell away, reforming back into the ice demon. Lifeless, he crumpled to the ground, limbs void of magic. Harry watched, hands behind his back, as the girls approached the body.
“That’s for killing our mother.” It came from the youngest, as expected.
The ice demon chuckled dryly. “You think I killed her? You poor, stupid girl…”
Harry moved forward at this, trying to memorize every feature of the use-to-be Professor.
“Now… it’s begun,” he wheezed out before the last of life finally left him. The ice demon’s voice tapered off, eyes dulling.
Dead, Harry’s mind echoed.
Macy tilted her head his way. “Is he?”
“Why didn’t he disappear then?” Maggie asked, still eyeing the body, almost as if she half-expected it to get back up.
Oh… now there was an opportunity that simply could not be passed up. Making sure to keep his expression serious, Harry said, “oh no. This must be the kind of demon where you have to do one last thing to get him to disappear.” Pause for dramatic effect. Long enough to stir some hesitation amongst the ladies. “Crack the neck, remove the eyeballs, remove the intestine--”
The body suddenly exploded. All three sisters gasped, rocking back, and Harry let out a well-deserved laugh. Oh yes, the expression on all their face's was certainly worth it. Especially Melanie's.
“Only kidding, sometimes, it only takes a minute.”
It was late when Macy finally returned home. Harry was sitting by the kitchen table when he saw her enter.
“Back so soon?” He joked.
Macy shrugged, picking up a mug from the dishrack and set to work brewing a pot of tea. “It’s ten at night. And cabs stop running at eleven.”
“I merely assumed you’d spend the night there again.”
His charge shifted, posture stiffening a little. Oh, dear.
“Ya, I… still not all too comfortable with that yet.” The pot whistled and Macy poured the hot water into her mug, teabag following. She sat down by Harry, glancing over at the half graded papers by his side.
Harry hummed. “I see.”
“Is it okay? I mean, I just thought, but if it’s not, I can always--”
“Macy, calm down.” He covered her hand with his, chuckling. “Stay as long as need be.”
Those brown eyes stared back at him with a mix of relief and uncertainty. “You sure?”
“Positive. It’s really no trouble.”
Finally, Macy let her lips tug up into a smile. Reassured, she let herself relax, sinking into the chair and pulling her mug close to her chest.
The company was nice. Harry often loathed grading his student's papers, but with the eldest Charmed One by his side, for some reason, the task suddenly didn’t seem all that daunting.
Chapter 8: Careful Who You Trust
Takes place right as the first episode ends and the second opens.
Macy had gone to bed a while ago, and Harry was just putting the last of the papers away when he felt the Vera sisters call him. Odd. And at such a late hour too.
Still, he was technically on call twenty-four-seven. So he suppressed a sigh, snapped his fingers, and disappeared, leaving the prospect of sleep and his soft, plush mattress behind.
“Ladies,” he announced, stepping out of the shadows. A bit James Bond of him. He folded his hands behind his back and offered the startled girls a smile. “I’m right here. Now, what is it you want?”
“We, we just said your name, but not to call you,” Maggie babbled, her words rushed.
Her sister quickly jumped in, standing up. “Exactly. This whole showing up thing, ya, it’s not gonna work. It’s a violation of our personal space.”
Something wasn't right. Harry could feel it in his belly. “You summoned me,” he reminded, “What's more, I was in the middle of deciphering what the demon meant when he said ‘it’s begun’ while in the midst of his deathly throws.” No harm in a little fib. It was on the agenda, after all.
Mel pursed her lips. “That does sound important.”
“You should get back to it then.”
While Harry would love nothing more than to orb back and flop unceremoniously into bed, the clipped words and forced tones stirred that uneasy feeling in his stomach up. “Why are you two acting so peculiar.”
It wasn’t a question.
His answer came in a jumble of ‘no’ and ‘we’re not’ and ‘none of your business’.
No, something was definitely off, but Harry wasn’t going to get anywhere by forcing the Vera’s into telling him. “I’ll take my leave then. But remember, the underworld knowns your the Charmed Ones, and we need you to remain safe, so you must call straight away if you see any signs of increased demonic activity, heavy fog, abrupt changes in temperature, abrupt dog formication, spontaneous human combustion, and presidential tweets.”
That gained him weird looks from both girls, but there was no room for another possessed ex-boyfriend incident, so Harry paid it no mind. His eye traveled down to the Ouija board laying on the attic table. “Oh, and stay away from that thing, Spirit Boards are notoriously susceptible to tricksters.” With that, he gave a parting head tilt. “Must dash.”
Harry didn’t give the Vera’s a chance to stop him and disappeared in a haze. Bloody hell, he was tired.
Not even bothering with a change out of his clothes, Harry let gravity sail him down into his soft bed.
Chapter 9: Just Between Us
Comatose until further notice.
Harry sighed. She was so young, far too young for all this. A demonic attack of this caliber could damage a person’s psyche, rendering them unable to live a normal life.
Sometimes, victims didn’t even make it.
Thankfully, Jannette was still fighting. Perhaps the recovery would be made easier with the memories of her attack wiped. Harry lifted his hand, light bubbling from under his fingertips when the hospital door eased open.
On instinct, Harry quickly dropped his hand and turned, ivy greens meeting deep browns. “Ah, Macy.”
“Hey,” the eldest Charmed One waved, locking the door behind her. “Sorry, hope I’m not interrupting anything?”
Harry cleared his throat and ushered her closer. “No. Well, yes. I was just wiping this poor woman’s memory of the attack.”
Macy’s eyes drifted down to the comatose woman. “I just heard about it, back at the lab. Thought I’d come down to check on her, make sure the demon didn’t come back to… ” She shrugged, hair falling to hide her eyes. “Finish the job.”
“That was very kind of you,” Harry amended. He didn’t miss the way his charge’s lips pulled up into a bashful smile. “But she’s obviously traumatized,” he went on, “the next step is to understand precisely which demon did this. A companion of Thaine’s perhaps. This demon could be what's 'begun'.”
Harry felt himself trail off, trying to mentally file through all of his stored information. Had he encountered a demon like this before? Was Jannette in danger of possession? Was the attack a trap for the sisters? To pressure them out into the open?
He felt Macy tug on his sleeve, drawing his attention back to her. He cleared his throat, a bit embarrassed to have been caught staring off into space for so long in the presence of company.
“Did you hear any specifics in the lab that could help us narrow it down?”
Macy bit her lip. “I think so.”
She dug around in her purse, fingers fishing for the vial of black sludge. “Do you have any idea what this is?” She asked, handing it over to Harry, who lifted it to the window for inspection. “I found it sticking to an air vent.”
“Anything around it?”
Macy shook her head. “No.”
“I see.” Harry pocketed the possible evidence. “When time permits, I’ll check it out, make sure it’s a plausible link to our attacker.”
Her answer seemed clipped, and her fingers were suddenly nervously intertwined. Harry arched an eyebrow. “Macy, is something wrong?”
A silent debate flashed across his charge’s eyes and her shoulders grew stiff, lips red from all the chewing. Something within Harry twisted. Perhaps a family issue. She had left early in the morning to meet with her sisters after all.
He sighed, put a hand on her shoulder, and squeezed. No reason to add to the stress. “You don’t have to tell me. But if and when you want to, you know where to find me.”
Macy swallowed thickly. “Is it okay?”
“Of course. I wager this is a sibling thing. Loyalty to blood and all that.”
"I- it's... they want to..." She trailed off, throat closing up. She tried again, but her body refused to cooperate, words sticking to her tongue like acid. Finally, Macy gave up and nodded, hair bouncing.
Harry smiled. “Alright then. I’ll be off.”
“See you later?”
All day, Macy’s nerves were in a jumbled knot, messing with her work ethic. She should have just told Harry how her sisters (she was still getting used to calling them that) didn’t trust him. How they thought their mother’s spirit was trapped in an Ouiji board.
Mel and Maggie didn’t know Harry. They just met him. But she knew him, or at least, she liked to think she did. Harry was kind, he was thoughtful and smart and he was letting her live at his flat. Rent-free, her mind helpfully reminded.
Macy sighed, leaning her elbows on her desk, fingers raking through her hair.
On the other hand, building a bond with Mel and Maggie took time and trust. She wanted them to trust her, despite telling them she was fine being on her own. Hell, she hadn't been on her own for close to a month now.
If she told Harry, she’d be cracking the already shaky relationship with the two Veras. If she told Mel and Maggie about knowing Harry, about trusting him, they’d cast her out. Or worse, not believe her.
“Hey, Macy? You okay?”
Macy looked up, jolting when she felt a large hand on her shoulder. “Oh, Galvin. Hey. Ya, ya I’m fine. Just getting used to the town and unpacking.”
Galvin, a nice guy who showed her around the lab her first day, clicked his tongue. “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.” He bumped her shoulder. “Helltown isn't so bad. We have a pretty good bar just off Silho street.”
Macy smiled. “I’ll have to remember that. Thanks.”
She was supposed to come by the Vera's house after work, pick up the truth serum she’d made (under Mel's critical eye), and all three of them would somehow conveniently stumble into Harry. Only, when she arrived, she didn’t find her sisters around the kitchen table or in the living room. No, she found them up in the attic, asking the spirit board questions.
“What is going on?” Macy asked, voice steady but accusing. Weren't they supposed to wait? Wasn’t that the agreed-upon deal? Wait until they knew (until Macy proved) Harry was telling the truth before diving into action?
Maggie tried to apologize, but Mel called to the board, and instantly, a hand reached out, grabbing for the youngest. Both Vera sisters screamed, Maggie, trying to shake the hand off.
Panicked, Macy froze, watching, her heart thumping so loudly she was afraid the Ouija demon might hear. It wasn’t until she heard Maggie's whimper that instinct took over. Macy’s powers bubbled, flinging the board across the room and smashing it into the wall.
“I can’t believe you broke the board,” Mel accused, staring down at the pieces laid out on the dining room table.
Macy tried to swallow down her shock. “I’m sorry, I was trying to save Maggie from- from that thing.” Why was her voice shaking? Was she mad? Sad? Both?
Why was her heart still beating a mile a minute? The danger was over, right? Her body should be calming down, not revving up for a run.
“... I think it was mom’s spirit,” Maggie muttered, still clutching her wrist, her eyes moving from Mel to Macy, to the spirit board, and back.
“I know it was, she was trying to reach us and you had no right to do that!”
The oldest took a step back, ears ringing from Mel’s shout. ‘You had no right’. Because it wasn’t her mom, not really. Marisol was never her mom, she was Maggie’s and Mel’s.
Macy fought down the urge to throw something. It was so obvious, how could she not have seen it before? Maybe the opportunity to be part of something warm again, just for a second, clouded her judgment. Maybe the idea of family messed up her rational thinking.
Mel never would trust her. Maggie had a stronger tie to Mel then to Macy, so she’d always side with the former.
Macy was all alone.
She was the odd one out.
Pulling on a mask, Macy pressed her palms to the table. Even if they would never accept her, she still had to work together with them. “Mel, listen to me, there was another demon attack. A custodian at the lab. I went to see her and Ha- Meghan Markle was there, whipping her memory.”
“Ya,” Mel exasperated as if she was talking to a small child. “To cover his tracks.”
“Or because he’s a Whitelighter! And that's his job!” There her voice went again, shaking, on the verge of cracking.
Maggie rocked on her heels. Mel rolled her eyes.
Thinking fast, Macy made a decision. “Look, I found a sample of the demon’s residue and I want to show it to Harry.” It was a lie, she’d already given the sample to him, but Macy wanted to see their reaction to her suggestion.
As expected, Mel shot the idea down. “Absolutely not. I don’t trust him.”
There was no input from Maggie, she stayed quiet.
Macy tried not to run her fingers through her hair and instead, held up the thermos with the truth serum. “Which is why we had this plan to give him the serum. The one we all agreed on.”
There was a small break of silence. Silence that felt wrong and dangerous.
“... I’m starting to think you don’t want it to be mom.” It came from Mel, whose eyes pierced Macy like daggers. Her voice was calm but held a locked tone.
“Or I’m just objective enough to know that it can’t possibly be.”
The silence was back, building a thick wall between Macy and the Veras.
Macy inhaled slowly. She wanted to run, get away from this suffocation, but she still had something to say. Squaring her shoulders in false indifference, she set the thermos down and addressed both sisters, even if her eyes stayed on Mel.
“You had a horrible loss. You’re grieving and I’m sorry, but it’s different for me.”
At this, Maggie inched forward. “You don’t want to ask why she left you?”
“I’m just not sure there’s anything she could say that would make it better. This whole sisterhood, Power of Three thing, it’s um…” Deep breaths, Macy’s mind reminded, deep breaths. “It’s really just you two and me. The outsider.”
“Macy, that’s not true-”
Whatever it was Maggie wanted to say, a voice from outside cut her off. Macy used the distraction to finally get away, snatching up the thermos and ducking out the front door.
She stopped only to greet the newcomer out of politeness.
Her piece was said, there was no reason to stick around.
He was in the middle of grading another batch of papers when Macy quietly pushed his door open. “Hey, mind if I come in?”
Harry smiled. “Not at all. You’re a welcomed distraction.” He cleared his desk and brought over a chair sitting in the far corner. Once his charge was seated, he returned behind his desk. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
Whatever he was expecting, the way Macy’s lips tilted downward and the way her muscles tensed was not it. Harry quickly sat up, hand on her arm. “Macy?”
“Sorry.” She wiped at her lap. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s all right.”
“No, it’s not actually.” Those brown eyes looked up at him, big and vulnerable. “My sisters want to use a truth serum on you.”
Harry reeled back. “Excuse me-”
“We took a vote. They wanted to use the Ouija board to contact their mom, actually. I panicked. We took a vote because they don’t trust you. I didn’t tell you, but I, I thought… I don’t know what I thought. I know you better than them and I kept this from you.”
The barrage of word-vomit threw Harry for a loop. It took a moment for it all to really sink in. Ah, that explained why she acted so tight-lipped earlier.
“Macy, calm down.” Harry squeezed her hand. “I’m an old man and we can not understand when you rattle on so quickly.”
That got a watery chuckle from her. He smiled. Good. “Take a deep breath.”
When his charge finally calmed down, Harry felt it was safe enough to talk again. “Now, this truth serum. You suggested it?”
Macy nodded, “Ya.”
“Because your sisters don’t trust me.”
“Do you trust me?”
Her head snapped up so quickly, Harry feared she might break a bone. “Yes!” Her eyes widened and she tilted her head to the side, voice quieter. “Yes, I trust you.”
Harry patted her hand. “I believe you, Macy.”
“The serum was harmless-”
“Macy. You do not have to justify your actions. I understand.” And he did. He wasn’t mad. A little shocked, maybe, but not mad. He knew how the truth serum worked. It was harmless. The magical equivalent to a lie detector.
When Macy slipped her hand away, wrapping it around herself like a shield, Harry knew he had to say more to convince her.
“This does not impair the trust I have in you. Nothing was done to put my life in danger. It was done to earn your sisters' trust in me. To help them understand I am here to help, to assist. Am I right?”
He got a little head nod, that curly hair spilling over her shoulder to frame her face.
“So I see no reason to hold any of this against you.” Harry held his palm up. "In fact, I am quite impressed."
"You're impressed?" His charge sounded so astonished.
"Oh yes. That was some quick thinking on your part."
Macy stared at his hand, almost as if she was inspecting it, but slowly, she reached out, fingers intertwining with his. He squeezed.
“Still friends?” Macy asked.
He almost laughed. “Of course. Would you care for a cuppa?”
“Alright then, excuse me while I fetch the Royal Doulton.”
Harry left Macy in his office, hoping some time alone would help ease her. When he returned, two cups and saucers in hand, she looked more put-together, shoulders no longer holding the weight on the world.
They talked, Macy showing him the thermos of serum, she told him about her fight with her sisters, Mel’s words, how they hurt, and how she ran when the opportunity came.
He let her unload on him, listening carefully, and when the tea was gone and her story told, Harry stood up, tugged Macy’s hand so she’d follow, and pulled her into a tight hug.
Macy, a little stiff, slowly circled her arms around his hips. “Ya, thank you.”
Chapter 10: Consequences, Part One
Harry comes up with a plan. Macy pushes down more pain.
The hug lasted longer than either thought it would, but Macy had buried her face in his tweed jacket, inhaling the scent of old leather and tea. “Anything happen while I was gone?”
Harry hesitated. “Jannette passed away.”
Macy pulled away, eyes wide. “What?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so.” Harry brushed the wrinkles from his suit. “You were much too distraught before, however, I thought you should know.”
“How? Why? When?”
Harry held up a hand. “One question at a time. I’m not sure how nor why. It happened a few hours ago.”
“Oh god.” Macy sunk back down into her chair, clutching the wooden arms. “That poor woman.”
Harry sat down too, humming solemnly. “Yes, unfortunately, this is common with demonic attacks. Humans don’t always make it.”
“Yes… I thought by wiping her memory, she’d had a better chance of survival.”
Macy looked up, swallowing thickly. “We have to find this demon.”
“Agreed. We can not let it run wild. Who knows the trouble it will cause if left alone.” A shudder ran down the Whitelighter’s spin. Too much death stirred his bones.
They stayed holed up in his office for a few more hours, talking, discussing possible theories, the outside world quickly melting away. No one came to disturb them. It was only when Macy’s phone buzzed that their atmosphere was ripped apart. She jumped, reaching for it, and immediately, her expression melted into horror. “Oh… oh no.”
Harry leaned forward. “Macy?”
“It’s a text from Mel and Maggie. They said not to trust you.” She slowly shut her phone off. “I… I think they used the Ouija board. I broke it, but what if they fixed it?”
Dread filled the Whitelighter’s gut. He’d warned them about that blasted spirit board. That night they accidentally called him, he should have whisked the board away when he left.
“Blast it,” Harry hissed, standing up. “Macy, you have to listen to me very carefully.”
There was no hesitation in her answer and that is what reassured Harry that his plan might just work.
“Now, you understand what you have to do?” Harry asked, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
Macy gave a little head tilt. “Ya, ya I think so.”
“Stay in character.”
“Break it only if the imposter becomes violent. It won’t try anything if it believes you think it’s your mother.”
Harry squeezed her. “Not scared?”
Macy bit her lip. “Just a little.”
“Mh. Now, hold on tight.”
Macy watched, horrified, as Mel knocked Harry out. His body slumped to the floor, the heavy thud sending an icy chill down her spine. She had to stop herself from immediately running over to the fallen Whitelighter, checking for any bumps or bruising.
No, she had to stay in character. She had to stick to the plan.
Taking a deep breath, Macy made eye contact with Not-Marisol. “Mom?”
It hurt. God, it hurt looking at it. At her.
Not-Marisol wasted no time in pulling Macy in, hugging her, brushing her hair in the way only a mother would, saying how proud she was of her ‘little scientist’.
The pain wrapping around her heart stung, but Macy pushed it away. It helped that Harry’s unconscious body was right there next to her. It reminded her how this was all an illusion. Marisol was gone. This was an imposter, something trying to rid the world of the Charmed Ones.
So Macy played her role. She acted like she believed Not-Marisol, acted like the fight between her sisters never happened, acted happy to have her mother back in her life.
When Not-Marisol sent them off to find the prism, something Harry predicted she'd do, it helped strengthen Macy’s core.
The sisters made the trek to the college, slipping in with little effort. Macy quietly unlocked Harry’s office and the three went to work scouring it.
Teacups from their earlier lunch date still sat atop the wooden desk, shining under the moonlight. Macy ducked her head, unable to stop a small smile from pulling at her lips.
No. Stop. This was not the time.
Macy shook her head. Right. Harry said the prism should be kept in a mirror. The only mirror she knew of sat by the bookshelf, glass dusty, the framing worn down with age. Macy moved over to it, touching the cold surface with the pads of her fingers.
The Vera sisters quickly came over, staring at the tall mirror.
Mel pointed to the Italian writing. “Let's see what that means.” And pulled out her phone.
Unable to resist, Macy waited half a second before reciting, “' The only way out is together.'” The words felt oddly sardonic.
She felt Mel and Maggie’s stares before she saw them. “I learned it from my dad. He insisted.” Macy shrugged.
Mel pocketed her phone and quietly reached out. Only when she touched the mirror, instead of a solid surface, it warped, bending under her digits. Mel gasped. “Woh. So, it’s not behind the mirror. It’s inside it.”
She wasted no time in walking through, excited. Macy went after her, more reserved and cautious. Maggie was the last one through, body hesitant.
The world inside the mirror was not what Macy expected it to be, but then again, she’d never really given much thought to mirror worlds until now.
“Guys!” Maggie echoed, her fist anxiously thumping on the now solid entryway. “Guys, seriously, what the hell!”
“Like mom said, we find the prism,” Mel reminded, moving further into the maze.
Macy eyed the youngest, frowning. She knew signs of panic when she saw it, having observed multiple cases during her studies back in college. Maybe Maggie was starting to doubt Not-Marisol.
“Wait, what’s that?”
All eyes turned to Mel, who pointed over to a clearing. A clearing that wasn’t there before. It must have materialized after all three of them came through.
Mel automatically went over to investigate, her steps growing faster when her eyes landed on the prism. Macy set her jaw, following after. She got halfway when she realized Maggie was lagging.
“Hey, you okay?” Macy asked when the youngest caught up.
“Fine. I’m fine. Just fine.”
She didn’t sound fine, but not wanting to push, Macy gave her an awkward head tilt before focusing her attention back on Mel. “How do we open it?”
“There are three sides. Maybe we’re the keys.”
Well, it was better than nothing. Macy eyed the thing before she let her hand connect with it, the icy texture sending a chill through her blood.
“Maggie,” Mel pressed, her hand already in place. “Come on, we need you too.”
Again, the youngest hesitated. Her breath caught in her throat, lips parting in an attempt to say something. Macy eyed her carefully, before deciding for sure that yes, Maggie was having second thoughts.
“Wait, I’m sorry but, what if it’s a trap?”
“What if it sucks us inside or something?”
“Why would mom send us here if it was a trap.”
“She wouldn't… if she was really our mom…”
Macy bit down the need to shout ‘obviously!’. Instead, she took a calming breath and forced her stomach to unknot. They were here now, there was no going back. Not to mention, Harry was left alone with Not-Marisol.
“Look, when I touched her, I--”
Needing to move this alone, Macy thought up something she hoped was both convincing and soothing. “She told you, it’s because she’s a spirit. That’s all.”
“We don’t have time for this,” Mel snapped, “Maggie we decided, majority rules.”
When Maggie still refused, Mel reached over and forced her palm against the prism’s surface.
The goldenseal suddenly split open, revealing a smaller, glass-like version of itself hidden inside. Macy carefully picked it up, holding it securely between her palms.
“See.” Mel bumped Maggie’s shoulder. “No suckage. It wasn’t a trap-”
A crack shook the mirror world, jolting all three girls. One by one, glass shattered, falling to the floor like hail.
“Maybe that’s because we’re trapped!” Maggie snapped.
There was too much chaos happening all at once. Mel tried freezing the room, but her powers didn’t work. Macy, despite believing the same would happen with her, tried to shoot the shards away from herself and the Veras. As predicted, it didn’t work.
“We have to find the exit.” That was the only way they’d survive this.
“I think we came through this way.” Mel pointed west.
Macy frowned. “No… I thought we came from that way.” Her finger pointed north.
“No. Not that way.”
More mirrors broke, more shards flew in all directions, some nearly scrapping the all three in the legs.
Maggie took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart. “The only way out is together,” she repeated, almost like a mantra until it clicked. Something in her mind buzzed. “Guys!” She quickly reached for Mel and Macy’s hands, startling the oldest. “This way.”
Just as the last of the mirrors broke, a doorway opened, shining bright with blinding, white light. Not wanting to waste any time, all three jumped through, gasping when the air shifted.
Chapter 11: Consequences, Part Two
The trek back to the Vera’s home was filled with awkward silence. Macy held onto the prism, keeping it a safe distance from her chest, cupped between both her palms.
Mel led the group, legs moving fast. She was eager to get back home, eager to see her mother’s face again. Macy bit her lip, keeping down the anxiety bubbling up her throat.
After today, she was sure the older Vera's hatred for her would grow tenfold…
Macy blinked, looking down to see Maggie tugging on her sleeve. “Oh, hi.”
“I wanted to ask you, or maybe just talk to you, about something.”
“Wouldn't you rather talk to Mel?”
Maggie’s eyes widened. “No. No. This… this isn’t something she’d want to hear.”
“But I would?” Macy arched an eyebrow, watching as the younger girl's cheeks darkened in color.
“It’s about mom…” Maggie fumbled with her fingers, interlacing them nervously, almost as if she was too scared to say what was warring around in her mind out loud. Macy didn’t push, deciding to wait patiently.
“I don’t think it’s her.” The admission came out in a small whisper. “When I touched her, I felt nothing, and I know you said it’s because she’s a spirit, but still. It just didn’t feel right, you know? Like when you eat something bad and you feel it hours before actually puking up your guts.”
Oookay, strange analogy, but at least it made sense. Macy silently looked Maggie over.
Despite being the youngest, and possibly the most susceptible to the demon’s tricks, doubt still managed to crawl its way inside of her. Maybe it had something to do with her empathy. Maybe it acted like a… like a spider-sense?
Taking a deep breath, Macy shifted the prism. “Look, I… there’s something I should tell you.”
Maggie’s eyes widened.
“Marisol isn't Marisol. She’s a demon, low-class, I think. All those memories, they’re from you and Mel. Please, don’t ask me how I know, we don’t really have time to get into it. Just, I wasn’t going to tell you, either of you, because I didn’t think you guys would listen. She’s wearing your mom’s face--”
“Our mom,” Maggie interrupted.
Macy blinked, taken aback by the sudden outburst. “What?”
“She’s your mom too.”
Maybe it was the innocent way Maggie phrased it or the way her brown eyes widened, but whatever it was, something within Macy stirred, twisting. She shook it away.
“Ya, right.” Macy shrugged. “Anyway, since you believe she’s an imposture... ?”
The youngest gave a slow nod. “I know what I felt. It’s- it’s not her.”
“Okay. Then I might need your help.”
The minute the door to the manor slid open, all three were greeted with a horrifying sight. Harry had Not-Marisol in a choke-hold. They struggled, but with a little head tilt from Macy, the Whitelighter was able to heave the demon over the landing.
Her body landed with an ugly thud, reminiscent of the way Harry fell earlier.
“Mom!” Mel shouted.
Harry ignored his charge, orbing down to stand over the demon. From this angle, Macy had a perfect view of his body. His jacket was gone, revealing the torn vest underneath. His hair was matted the wrong way, sweat forcing it to stick to his forehead. The right leg of his trousers was torn, the flesh hidden under the fabric stained crimson.
He was hurt!
“Help… me…” Not-Marisol gurgled, helpless as Harry took hold of her neck, pinning her to the wooden staircase. A dagger hovered over her heart.
Macy staggered when she felt Maggie cautiously touch her side. Right. The plan.
Calling on her powers, Macy shifted the dagger out of Harry’s bruised (oh god) hand, turning it to face him instead of the demon.
Hands up, Harry backed away, letting Not-Marisol go. “Girls, listen to me, that’s not your mother. It’s an imposture.”
“They’re not girls, they’re women. Women I’m very proud of.” Not-Marisol moved forward, coming so close Macy almost dropped the act to fling her across the room.
“It wants to use the prism to suck your powers. That’s what the prism does.”
“Enough of your theatrics, Harry!” Her hand shot out, dark eyes locking on Macy. “Give me the prism.”
“No, no. Don’t!”
“You can trust me, I’m your mother.”
Gradually, and with Maggie keeping her rooted, Macy refocused her powers, letting them bubble just under her skin. Slowly, the dagger lowered, and under the guise of shouts, no one noticed.
“... mom,” Maggie whispered, “what did I make you in third-grade art class?”
Not-Marisol scoffed as if it was the silliest question ever asked. “How could I forget that my eight year old made me a bong?”
“She got it right.” Mel nodded at Macy. “Give her the prism.”
“Mel.” The youngest grabbed her older sister’s arm. “It’s not her.”
“You guys are crazy, it’s her, it has to be her.”
“Mel,” Maggie begged, “please, I’m your sister.”
Macy half-listened, gripping the glass object. She shot Harry a look, hoping he understood that she still intended to vanquish the demon, just with a few modifications.
“Trust yourself, Melie,” Not-Marisol cooed, “think about how close we were. It’s always been just you and me.”
Something flashed across Mel’s gaze. Maggie tugged at Macy’s arm and, with the go-ahead, Macy let the dagger drop into Harry’s open palm.
Wasting no time, the Whitelighter closed the distance between himself and the demon, running the dagger through her. Not-Marisol gasped, shrieking before her legs gave out and she crumpled to the floor.
“Careful,” Harry warned. “She’s going to-”
The demon’s eyes quickly popped open, but instead of dark browns, they were a pit of bottomless white. Not-Marisol threw herself up, hissing at Harry.
He took a step back and satisfied, the demon turned, ready to run Macy down with her claws. Gasping, Macy ducked down, prism pressing into her legs. “Now!”
“Right.” Maggie grabbed for her phone, fumbling only for a second until the mirror feature came on. Not-Marisol was seconds away from clawing her when Maggie flipped her phone up, showing the creature it’s reflection.
The second unholy scream of the night filled the air, piercing everyone's ears. It stopped only when the demon herself shattered, breaking apart into dust and debris.
Macy inhaled sharply, jolting when she felt Maggie’s hand on her back. “Are you okay?”
“Y-ya. I’m fine.” She accepted the offered hand and stood up. “You?”
“As okay as I can be.” Maggie’s sudden shy gaze turned to Mel, who’d fallen silent. “Mel?”
Macy didn’t stick around to hear their conversation. Without thinking, she let the prism clink to the ground and ran, pulling Harry into a tight hug. “I’m sorry,” she whispered into his tattered clothes, emotions clouding any rational thought that might suggest this was a bad idea. “It took longer than I thought it would.”
Harry chuckled, dropping the dagger to wrap his arms around his shaking charge. “Yes, time often moves differently in pocket dimensions.”
“That’s what that was?”
“Hm. A magical storage space, if you will. Nothing fancy.”
“And you,” Macy pulled back slightly, frowning when she saw the gash on his forehead. “Are you okay? Wait, no, that’s a stupid question people only ask in movies. Of course, you’re not okay. You might have a conclusion. Infections. Broken bones-”
Harry simply patted her shoulder. “Macy, remember to breathe. I will be fine. These are mere scratches. And besides,” he gestured over her shoulder. “I believe we have some explaining to do.”
Behind them, Maggie had her eyebrows raised, eyes wide with disbelief. Mel’s arms were crossed, lips pressed together tightly.
Oh. Macy swallowed thickly. Right...
Chapter 12: Lay It All On The Table
Harry uses the haze of vanquishing Not-Marisol to usher the girls into the living room.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Don’t be so hard on yourselves. You aren’t the first lot to fall for an imposture-demon,” Harry tiredly lamented, bending down to right one of the chairs that had fallen over during the battle with Not-Marisol. “Let’s just say I’m pretty sure that’s how Brexit happened.”
He took a seat next to Macy, who had curled up in a plush looking sofa, a blanket draped over her long legs. “It’s funny. They’re considered lower-level demons because their only real power is emotional manipulation. In some ways, that makes them the most lethal.”
His eyes carefully sought Maggie out. “However, that makes them most vulnerable to a witch with your unique powers.”
Mel nudged Maggie’s shoulder. “Now who’s got the cooler power?”
“Me,” the youngest sang, throwing her leg up and sticking her tongue out. A testament to her age.
Harry watched the two, taking them in under the warm glow of the living room lamp. The resemblance to Marisol was uncanny. “Maggie, trust your voice. The more you do, the less you’ll be overwhelmed by the voices of others.”
“Oh! Is that, like, the official way I control my powers? ‘Cause it’s kinda ruining my social life.”
“Yes. And it’s also the Yoga Mill mantra.”
“Hate to interrupt, but what do we do about that?” Mel pointed to the prism now sitting on the coffee table between them, it’s glass surface reflecting their faces.
Harry sighed, eyeing the object. “I didn’t stop you three from going after it for the simple fact; if such a low-level demon knew of where it existed, we can assume others know of it as well.
“The prism can’t be destroyed, so I refrain from suggesting it. It's why your mother hid it behind that mirror in the first place, to protect you from its ability to steal your powers.”
Mel’s expression shifted, becoming sober. “She’s gone… all over again.”
Maggie reached over, squeezing her sister’s hand.
Harry exchanged a look with Macy, offering her his silent support, before addressing all three of them. No matter what, this had to be said. “Ladies, I’m sorry. This demon-fighting business we do, it can take its toll on one’s…” he trailed off, an unwanted memory suddenly rising to the surface. “... emotions.”
Distorted images filled his vision, a figure with long blond hair and willowy arms obscuring his sight. She swayed, flashing from smiling, spinning around in green fields of grass to hunched over, her shoulders shaking, hair matted against her forehead, caked in dirt.
So absorbed in his murky thoughts, Harry failed to notice Mel get up, her fingers wrapping around the prism, thrusting it in his face. “Here, you should put it back in your office. Behind that mirror. Or wherever the hell you decide to move it to.”
With a grunt (his bones still sore from the fight), Harry heaved himself up, pushing the memories away. “You really trust me?”
Mel pulled a face, her expression hard, only unlike before, it lacked its usual edge. “I trust you. I don’t like you.” She winked. “But I trust you.”
“Very well.” Harry accepted the prism. It was progress. Slow, but eventually, he believed the strong-willed Vera would come to at least enjoy his company.
Beside him, Macy shifted, moving to lean on the sofa’s arm. She’d been uncharacteristically quiet since they all decided to gather together. “Macy?”
Her eyes met his, their deep color accented with a spark of gold.
Ah. Harry offered her a soft nod and cleared his throat. “Well, ladies, it’s late and you’ve had quite a long day. We best bid you goodnight.”
Macy quickly stood, ready to bolt for the door, when Maggie spoke up. “Wait. You guys are leaving?”
Mel shifted, the confidence suddenly draining from her person. “It’s not that late.”
That must have been her version of extending the olive branch. Harry put his hand on Macy’s arm, brushing his fingers carefully over the fabric of her sweater. “It’s up to you,” he whispered, making sure the Vera siblings couldn't hear. “My advice? Stay.”
A brief flash of fear echoed across her face, but he squeezed her arm and gestured to her abandoned seat. “I’ll stay too if you so wish.”
They both sat back down, Harry exhaling slowly. “I imagine you two have questions. But.” He held up his hand before either sibling could begin to ask. “One at a time.”
Macy couldn't help but snort, covering her face with her left hand. Bloody hell, this was going to end up being an ‘inside joke’. The mere thought aged Harry about a century.
“How do you two know each other?” Maggie leaned forward, eyes wide with interest.
“Long story,” Harry deflected.
“Why didn’t you tell us you knew each other?”
Maggie huffed. “I thought you said we could ask anything.”
“Yes, but I never made clear whether I’d answer them or not.”
When the youngest pouted, Harry couldn't keep his professor facade anymore. He broke, chuckling under his breath. “I’m merely joking. I met Miss. Vaughn a month or so ago. By chance, really.”
“I spilled my coffee all over his lap,” Macy muttered, hiding behind her hand.
Maggie gasped. “No!”
“Ya, I was so embarrassed. Kept talking over myself until he stopped me.”
“That’s, like, my worst nightmare. Especially if the guy’s hot, ugh. You could kill me right there.”
Harry leaned back, leg draped over the other, watching as the youngest conversed with the oldest. An interesting contrast, but a beauty to watch. Mel, however, hung back, sinking deep into the couch.
‘Oh. I see,’ the Whitelighter mused, smiling to himself. Perhaps he should intervene? Or sit back and let it all play out on its own? Lend a small helping hand?
Waiting a few more moments, and seeing as Mel continued to fall back in on herself, Harry made up his mind. Sitting forward, he cleared his throat. “I apologize for interrupting ladies, but Mel, I assume you have at least something you wish to ask.”
The glare she shot him could have melted a demon’s insides. Macy and Maggie’s voices quieted, their attention drawn to the middle sister.
“Mel?” Maggie asked, nudging her sister’s leg with her foot.
Pouting, the older Vera glanced off to the side. “I wanted to- to apologize. About before. I shouldn't have yelled at you, Macy. I just wanted it to be her.”
Macy shrugged. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. I was angry and took it out on you.”
“... if it helps, I wanted it to be her too.”
Mel cracked a small smile, one Macy returned with a little head tilt.
It was a little after eleven when Harry offered Macy his arm, promising to meet with the Vera siblings tomorrow before orbing away.
Macy blinked dizzily when they re-appeared in their shared flat. Harry’s hold on to her strengthened. “Alright?”
“I’m still not used to that. Feel kinda dizzy.”
“Mh, yes. Took me a while to get used to it myself.” Harry helped his charge to her room, offering to bring her a warm cup of tea or cold glass of water. She declined, burying under her warm blankets.
Harry chuckled. “Macy, you have to change.”
“No, I don’t think I do.”
“Macy, come now.”
In an act so unlike her, the young scientist pulled the covers completely over herself.
“Really now, you’re acting childish.”
“It’s too late to act like an adult,” Macy mumbled.
“Dear lord.” Harry rolled his eyes good-naturally, patted the warm lump he assumed was her shoulder, and left, flicking the lights off as per request. “Sweet dreams.”
A muffled ‘goodnight’ was his only response, his charge already swept away by the powers of sleep and exhaustion.
Ahhh, that last episode 💕
Chapter 13: Trouble Rests For No One
Harry rubbed his forehead, fingers running over the wrinkles brought on by stress. Having just returned from his meeting with the Elders, and with the information given to him, their current situation just became all the more dire.
Harry looked up. Macy stood under the doorway, hair messy from oversleeping. “Harry? You okay?”
“Macy, good morning.” He ushered her to sit down. “How did you sleep?”
“Good, actually.” She bumped his shoulder. “Thank you for seeing me to bed.”
Harry waved it off. “My pleasure. I couldn't very well have a sleep-deprived witch on my hands now could I?”
Macy smiled, surveying the kitchen. “Had anything to eat yet?”
“No, I intended to make something upon my return.”
At his admission, his charge arched an eyebrow. “You went somewhere?”
“Yes, that sample you gave me. I had the Elders look into it.” A tired exhale escaped his lips. “I fear it’s worse than a simple rogue demon. This needs to be said with all three of you present, but-” He cleared his throat. “Fancy a pop in with your sisters?”
The gleam behind his words was unmistakable. Macy’s eyes widened. “That’s not going to earn you any brownie points with Mel.”
Harry held onto Macy as they reformed in the Vera’s kitchen, holding her until he was sure her dizziness was gone.
“Ack! Meghan Markle!”
Any speech he had planned flew out the window when he heard the youngest yelp. “I beg your pardon?”
Maggie blinked, calmer. “Oh, it’s your nickname. We say it so you don’t show up every time we say 'Harry'.”
From her perch in the kitchen, Mel nodded, inhaling her mug of coffee.
Bewildered, Harry turned to Macy, who shyly shrugged. “Maggie picked it out.”
“What? I- I don’t show up every time you say 'Harry'. Only when you call out 'Harry'. With purpose. Why would I show up every time you say 'Harry'? That’s absurd…” He trailed off when he felt three sets of eyes all staring him down.
Mel arched an eyebrow, clearing not buying any of it. Maggie, who sat by the island, picking at a bowl of fruit, gaped as if she could hardly believe what she was hearing.
Macy nudged his shoulder, smiling.
Clearing his throat, Harry redirected. “You know what, it doesn't matter. This is urgent. It’s about the black ooze. The Edler’s have confirmed my suspicions. It’s the primordial form of the Harbinger.”
“The Harbinger? What does it… harbinge?” Maggie asked.
“Its full name is the Harbinger of Hell, and it’s arrival heralds the third phase of the Prophecy.”
“‘With the blossoming of death comes the rise of the Source of All Evil. And then…’” Macy trailed off, only for Mel to finish. “... we fall.”
“Right. That whole Apocalypse thing.” A shudder ran through the youngest.
Harry nodded. “Precisely. And I don't want to say preventing "that whole apocalypse thing" rests solely on your shoulders, but it does.
“As I speak, the Harbinger is probably hunting for a vessel, a human vessel. And if it finds one... everything's going to change.”
Training was something Maggie thought would be easy. Sure, she wasn’t a master in any sort of Kung-Fu, but she’d taken plenty of cardio classes.
Turns out, those did not hold up against a simulated demon.
Maggie screamed, ducking when something thick and metallic went sailing overhead, crashing into a stack of heavy cargo.
All three sisters turned a corner, each gasping for breath. Mel was the first to slow to a stop, bending over with her sweaty palms on her knees. “Macy, we’re going to have to bind it. Take out the elements. This thing is way too strong for me to freeze.”
Macy wasted no time. She quickly unlatched her satchel and pulled out the container Harry had given her before starting the hunting exercise. She tossed it over to Mel, who quickly got to work.
The oldest felt her knees give out when a thunderous roar filled the air. She gulped, swallowing thickly, before digging back into her bag. “Maggie, your matches.”
She slid them over to her sister, but before Maggie could reach out and grab them, her ringtone went off. An upbeat, shrill sound that both grated on Mel’s ears and distracted Macy, causing her fingers to fumble.
Maggie automatically opened her messages, eyes widening when she saw a notification with Lucy’s name on it.
“Tell me you're not texting during our binding spell,” Mel snapped.
“I don’t think you realize how precarious my situation at Kappa is.” Came the quick response accompanied my Maggie quickly sliding her fingers across the keyboard.
Mel’s eyebrow twitched, but before she could do anything, a sharp shard sliced through the air, impaling itself deep into the youngest’s shoulder.
The phone clattered to the ground, forgotten when Maggie’s scream mixed with the demons, who’d now caught up with them.
Maggie grabbed at her shoulder, her blood boiling with hot pain.
Panicked, Macy reached for her powers, biding a nearby pipe to levitate. “I’ll stop it.” She didn’t sound confident, not even to her own ears. Her heart was thumping and sweat collected down her spine.
“What are you waiting for?” Mel shouted, causing the self-doubt to rise higher within the eldest.
Seeing an opportunity, the demon reached for the spikes in it’s back, and wasting no time, it launched one into Maggie’s other shoulder.
The spike hit its target head-on, sinking deep into her flesh. Maggie’s scream intensified, bones filling with what felt like lead.
Fed up, and unable to continue listening to her sister’s pained voice, Mel positioned her hands in front of her. “Screw it, I’ve got a spell for this. Solaris incantatio !”
The moment the spell left Mel’s lips, a sharp blue light exploded from her fingers, sending out a large shock wave of energy. It took the demon out, reducing it to dust, but before the spell could really get started, it ended with Harry blowing a whistle. Thus, stopping the simulation.
All three witches were pulled back into the Vera’s attic, with their disapproving Whitelighter standing before them, clutching a miniature crystal ball in his palm. “Failed simulation,” he hissed under his breath. “That makes five.”
Sharp green eyes zeroed in on Mel first. “Melanie Vera, just what were you thinking?”
Mel didn’t seem to share his outrage, because she shrugged, a prideful smirk pulling at her lips. “You know, save the day, kick some demon ass.”
“With one of the most dangerous spells in all of witchcraft.”
“Ya! And it worked!”
“Only because I ended the simulation before you killed your sisters,” Harry snapped, feeling a headache build between his eyes.
“Speaking of,” Maggie spoke up, “can we dial back the realism of these training sessions, because that was super traumatic.” She rubbed at her shoulders, phantom pain still licking at her tense skin.
Harry sighed, pushed her hand away, and pressed his fingers down, making sure he applied ample pressure to the areas where the spikes had hit, rotating his wrist every few seconds. “There, better?”
Maggie brightened, giving her shoulders a little stretch when Harry moved away. “Ya, hey, thanks. Maybe you should look into being a massage therapist. I bet you’d get, like, a ton of business.”
Harry rolled his eyes. Splendid.
“I’m a witch, Harry,” Mel continued, “you can’t tell me to hold back from being the best witch possible.”
She really wasn’t going to let up. Right, time to try a different tactic. “I am simply telling you to proceed with caution. As often as magic is the solution to a problem, it can also be the cause.”
Harry then turned his attention towards Macy, who tensed under his sudden stare. “As for you, I am deeply disappointed.”
“I- I don’t know what happened,” Macy tried to defend, her voice cracking, eyes glazing over with a storm of emotions. Her hands were still sweaty, palms sticky, hair out of place.
She looked a right mess. Harry felt some of the fight leave him. Exhaling slowly, he put a warm hand on her shaky elbow, making sure to rub comforting circling into her skin. “Macy, you need to relax.”
“I am relaxed.”
Yes, I’m quite sure. “Magic isn't some test you can ace. I am not here to point out your failings, so please, do not become defensive. It should come as natural as breathing. So try and stay out of your head.” He nudged her shoulder. “The only person who should be in it is Maggie.”
Macy nodded slowly, and even if she didn’t look totally convinced, Harry felt satisfied in knowing he’d lessened some of the turmoil brewing in her stomach.
And now, we arrive at the youngest. Harry turned to lecture Maggie, ready to get this over with and tend to his now pounding headache, when he realized his youngest charge was on her bloody phone, texting away without a care in the world.
Nerves all but shot, Harry snatched the phone away.
“Hey!” Maggie tried to grab for it, but Harry folded his hands behind his back, effectively keeping the wretched device out of her reach.
“Witchcraft isn't a game. It requires constant focus.”
“But you said it was critical we keep up our civilian lives.”
“Not at the expense of your duties.” Harry contemplated setting the phone between his fingers on fire but decided against it, tossing it back to his charge, who clutched the small thing to her chest, as if it was her most prized possession.
“And not when the Harbinger of Hell is running rampant in Hilltowne.”
“Fine! I’ll pay more attention.” Maggie pushed her phone into her back pocket. “Just please don’t do that horrible speech again-”
“That black substance Macy found was a telltale sign of the Harbinger, one of the most powerful forces in the underworld.”
Macy bit her bottom lip. “And here we go,” she whispered under her breath, stepping around the lecturing Whitelighter.
Harry ignored that little comment. “According to the ancient texts, its sole purpose is to raise the Sources of All Evil-”
All three sisters slowly made their way to the sofa, plopping down one by one.
“-summoning its master by tipping the scales to evil with a deluge of blood and the deafening screams of human torment.”
The last part was said by all four of them, the three witches reciting the prophecy in a tone that clearly conveyed how tired they were of hearing it over and over again.
Harry wasn’t sure if he should be proud that they actually memorized the text or if he should throw them all into another simulation. “It sounds better in Sumerian.”
“What does it even mean?” Mel asked.
Ah. Now that was a grand question. Harry exhaled. If only he had a proper answer. He took a seat across from his charges, brushing down his trousers. “We’re not sure. As with most ancient texts, it’s heavy on metaphor.”
“What we do know is that the Harbinger couldn't have traveled far in its primordial form. So it must have taken a human vessel somewhere near Macy’s lab.”
At the mention of her name, and the idea that some demonic being could have taken a human host, Macy’s head shot up, brows pinched with worry.
Mel leaned forward, suddenly sparking with energy. “Then let's get out there and find it.”
“But… there are three academic buildings on that side of campus,” Macy spoke up, “plus the hospital.”
“Don’t forget half of Greek Row,” Maggie reminded, shifting backward, hair spraying out in a jumble around her shoulders.
“They’re right, Mel. Let the Elders work out where this vessel is.” Harry himself was eager to get home, file the events of the day into document form, and sit under a shot spray of water until the hammering in his head washed away.
“You want me to sit back while a bunch of washed-up old witches do what I was destined to do?”
And there went the last of his dwindling patience. “No. I want you to keep training and show some respect for your wise and powerful governing council. Because as soon as they do find this demon of unspeakable horror, it will fall upon you three to vanquish it, as the Charmed Ones .”
“I’m never gonna get into this sorority, am I?” Maggie mumbled miserably.
Harry rubbed his forehead. Dear lord…
Macy pushed her glasses up her nose, having ditched the contacts the minute Harry orbed them both back home. She looked up from her book, eyes landing on the Whitelighter who’d just entered her room.
“Hey,” she replied, scooting over to make space for him. He easily slipped in beside her, and under the soft light of her desk lamp, the lines creasing his forehead and eyes suddenly looked more prominent.
Harry’s eyes traveled to the cover of the now-discarded book, and he had to swallow the start of a chuckle. “I always assumed you’d be the hopeless romantic type.”
Macy flushed, cheeks turning a lovely shade of pink as she scrambled to push her book under her pillow. “I- well, you see- it's-”
“Totally normal to harbor such interests in literature.”
“You won’t tell Mel, right?”
“Cross my heart.” For effect, Harry’s finger roamed over his chest, drawing an X where his beating heart sat. Macy smiled, humoring him with a little head tilt. “Thanks.”
“Of course. Now, the reason for my intrusion. I wanted to discuss the training mission today.”
His charge visibly wilted, hiding her face behind her hands. “I know. I know. I just… I panicked! There’s so much to consider, and you’d think you’d have enough time to carve out a plan that would keep you relatively alive, but the demon's just so fast and then my heart starts to pound, and my hands get all sweaty, and sometimes it feels like I can’t think of anything, or I’m thinking too much, and-”
Harry put a hand on Macy’s shoulder. “Macy,” he cut her off, his hand sliding down her arm, fingers moving to intertwine with hers.
Macy watched, eyes tracing the way their hands melted together.
“You need to learn to relax. You will never accomplish anything with the amount of distress you have inside. I’ve watched you all today, but you are the only one who overthinks, who panics when your powers start to work against you.” Harry squeezed her hand. “Telekinesis requires a lot of mental strength. It is something you will have to work on, but your mind must remain clear.”
Harry nodded. “Yes. Clear, focused, confident, and most importantly, calm.”
Macy squirmed, her glasses sliding down her nose. Clear. Focused. Confident. Calm… there was no way she could be any of those things when chased by a demon. No, she had to think. Had to make sure nothing happened to Mel and Maggie.
“I want you to start practicing meditation.”
Macy blinked, looking up at a somewhat blurry Harry. “What?”
Harry sighed, pushed the thick glasses up her nose, and repeated himself. “Meditation. I want you to start practicing it.”
Nope. She’d heard right. “And it’s going to help me?” She tried not to sound too skeptical.
“Yes, immensely. Have you done it before?”
Macy shook her head, curls bouncing over her sweater-clad shoulders. “Can’t say I have.”
Harry smirked. “Well then, time to learn a new skill, Miss. Vaughn.”
Some hacy at the end there.
Chapter 15: The One Where Mel and Harry Butt Heads
Takes place after Macy drops by the Manor and shares her cookie idea.
He was in his office, working on grading the Coming Into Her Own: Educational Success in Girls and Women essays when something in the back of his skull flared to life. A warning, blaring so loud that it made his ears ring.
Harry pressed his fingers to his temple, honing in on the single until… found it. He quickly pushed himself up, cursing the distasteful timing, and orbed away.
When he reappeared, the thick scent of time, or lack thereof, assaulted his nose. Of course, he should have known.
Harry stormed into Mel’s class, eyes settling on her scrolling through a stranger's phone. The entire room, students and all, frozen in place.
“I thought we agreed to stop being so reckless with our magic.”
Mel ignored him and kept scrolling. “No. You gave a pompous lecture, I choose to ignore it and take some initiative.” When she found what she was looking for, she turned the screen so that Harry could see. “Have you seen this?”
Harry took a moment to actually look at what his charge was showing him before maneuvering around the classroom. There was a kid, young chap with one too many piercings, that had the Whitelighter scrunching up his nose. Youth today.
“Was that exactly where you were standing when you stopped time?”
Mel glanced around herself. “It’s in the general vicinity,” she dismissed.
“What if, when you restart time, one of your students notices your arm just appears in a new position, and they get curious and snoop and discover you’re a witch? You could get
blackmailed, you could lose your job, people would fear you’ve gone mad.”
Despite his efforts, Harry could tell his words went in one ear and out the other. Mel pursed her lips. “Ugh, do you have to turn everything into a teachable moment? Now, onto more important matters, do you remember Angela Wu?”
Odd segway, but there was no use in continuing his lecture. So Harry decided no focus on Mel’s question instead. He vaguely recalled some mention of Miss. Wu, most likely in passing with other professors. “Yes, your mother’s student. The one harassed by Professor Thain.”
Mel smirked. “Turns out, she woke up from her coma the same night we found the Harbinger’s residue in the hospital, right next to Macy’s lab.”
And it clicked. Harry felt bile crawl up his throat, imagining that poor girl falling victim to such a hellish demon. He exhaled slowly, willing his stomach to settle, and put on what he hoped was a proud face.
Aside from the total misuse of her powers, Harry was impressed with his charge’s thinking. She connected the dots a lot faster than he did. “She could be the vessel.”
It was like a switch was flipped. Mel’s proud expression melted into a frown, her brows pinched together, shoulders squared, and intimidating. “Please do not take credit for my ideas, white man,” she snapped. “I figured it out, I get to give her the cookie.”
Harry blinked. What? The temptation to correct her flared up, burning a hole into his spine. His job was not to steal, but to encourage and teach. Still, arguing would get them nowhere (it was evident that Mel was not about to back down from a comeback), so the Whitelighter bit his tongue.
“Yes, Macy told me all about it. And it’s actually very clever… or at least, it would be, if I hadn’t given explicit orders to wait.”
“Why? For the Elders? Yeah. I decided to ignore that. I mean, we don’t have time to wait for some old-fashioned bureaucracy to get this done.”
It was obvious the oldest Vera wasn’t going to listen to anything Harry had to say. Especially considering his male components. With nothing else to do, having exhausted all his patience, Harry lifted his hand and summoned forth an alarm bracelet.
A thin, silver ban materialized around Mel’s arm, securing her magic and tying it to the forefront of Harry’s mind.
As expected, Mel flipped. She shook her hand, glaring at the bracelet. “What the hell is this?”
“A jaunty bit of arm bling. And a lecture you can’t ignore. From now on, every time you use her abilities, I’ll be notified.”
“You can’t do that!”
“It’s for your own good.”
Not wanting to stick around, Harry orbed away, satisfied with himself.
Macy took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the fresh campus air. Earbuds already jammed into her ears, she started for the bus stop, ducking under banners and dodging kids on rollerblades.
She was halfway through the campus when her music was interrupted by an incoming call, the ringtone suggesting it was one of the Vera siblings. And seeing as she and Mel were still a little… iffy with each other, Macy bet her money on Maggie.
Yup. Maggie’s chipper voice filled her head. “Hey Mags.” The insisted upon nickname still felt odd, leaving a weird tingle on her lips, but Macy was slowly getting used to it.
“So, I just met the cutest guy. He totally saved me from an asshole customer.”
“Oh? Sounds… nice?” Macy winced, not really knowing what else to respond with.
“It was like something out of a fantasy book. Or a rom-com. Hey! We should all have a movie night sometime, and I can show you all my secret collection of Girl’s Night DVDs. It’d be a great bonding thing.”
Macy felt her skin heat up, heart racing at the idea of spending the night with the Vera siblings, because this time, it would be different. There'd be no adrenaline pumping, no demonic battle, no need for celebration. No, this get-to-gather was aimed for nothing but fun.
It didn’t help that Mel still kinda put her on edge. “Um, s-sound like fun, but I don’t think Mel would go for that.”
“I can be very persuasive. Come on, Mac. It’s a great idea. And it might improve our Power of Three thing. So Harry can’t lecture us for goofing off.”
Macy turned a corner, waving to a group of girls selling baked goods. Maggie had a point, some bonding could definitely improve their overall dynamic.
She brushed some hair behind her ear, bottom lip trapped between her teeth. “... okay. Ya, okay. I’m in.”
“Yay! Ha, two to one. Now Mel has to agree. Kay, I just got home, call you later.”
The call ended, and Macy’s head was once again filled with soft classical music, only unlike before, her stomach was now in knots and her palms suddenly felt very sticky.
Harry jumped, winced when that familiar alarm pulsed in his ear. Again? Seriously?
Pushing back, Harry set aside his tea and tray of biscuits, dusted the crumbs off his sweater, and (begrudgingly) disappeared.
This time, he materialized in the hallway, arms crossed, sending Mel a very stern glare.
Mel threw her arms down. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“I assumed the only reason you’d use magic would be if you found the Harbinger.” Harry circled his charge, never breaking eye contact. “And required assistance.”
“No. I checked Angela Wu, and it wasn't her. Now can you leave? This is a private moment.” Mel shifted her gaze, moving to eye the woman frozen before her.
Harry frowned, looking between the frozen woman and Mel. It didn’t take him long to understand. “You do know you can never tell her.”
“Of course I know that,” Mel snapped, “why do you think I’m freezing time to have an honest conversation with her?”
The Whitelighter leaned back, eyebrow arched. “I’m sensing a bit of cynicism-”
“Yet another one of your astonishing powers.” Mel squared her shoulders, voice firm, and biting. “Now get out of here. ‘Cause I’m restarting time in three, two…”
The conversation was clearly over. Harry exhaled, but did as his charge demanded, vanishing before time started back up again.
Good lord, that girl was a handful.
Chapter 16: Virgin's Blood
Oof! Nineteen pages. This is probably the longest chapter so far, and it took forever to finish, but I hope the wait was worth it.
The next chapter will (hopefully) not take as long to finish.
“I must say, it’s awfully nice to be summoned by a witch who respects my position.” Harry offered Macy a warm smile, before fixing Mel with an accusing side-eye. “And the sanctity of magic.”
Mel brows pinched together, lips thinning into a fine line. Macy glanced between the two, arms full of groceries, confused and a little concerned. “Did I miss something? What’s he talking about?”
“Our Whitelighter, the head of the Women’s Studies Department,” Mel reminded, matching Harry’s glare with her own. “Put a tracker on me to alert him any time I use magic because he’s threatened by the idea of a powerful woman.”
Macy’s eyes widened. “Harry?”
“Now just wait a second. That last part is fake news,” the Whitelighter reassured, tapping Macy’s elbow. He wanted to say something more, but a ding interrupted. Macy reached for her phone, juggling the heavy grocery bags.
“Here, let me.”
His reward was a soft pat to the chest. “Thanks.”
“It’s no trouble.”
With her hands now free, Macy fished out her phone, frowning a little when her screen lit up. “Does anyone know anything about a party here tonight?”
Mel and Harry exchanged knowing looks. “Maggie.”
All three of them marched inside, Mel leading the charge, while Macy quietly took back her bags. What greeted them was a lavishly decorated Manor. Fine silk decorations draped over wood, the stairs littered with festive fairy lights, the floors hidden under Halloween inspired rugs.
Maggie slowly descended the stairs, dressed in a lush purple gown. “You guys,” she teased, doing a little twirl. “I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart is a witch.”
Macy inhaled slowly. “You invited Gavin behind my back?”
“I wanted to surprise you.”
“Do I look like someone who enjoys surprises?”
“Okay, I know. Boundaries. But hear me out: I was thinking about this whole Harbinger thing-”
“No you weren't,” Mel cut in, hands on hips.
“I so was,” Maggie insisted, ignoring the warmth she felt spreading across her cheeks. “And I thought to myself, “Maggie, why walk around campus handing out one cookie at a time when you could invite two-hundred people here and test them out all at once”?”
Macy nearly choked. T-two-hundred? Why so many? And why Gavin? Sure, he was nice and she mentioned him once, but to go as far as this?
Oh man, I need to sit down.
A large, warm hand pressed into her back. Macy blinked, head swiveling to look at the Whiteligther. He offered no chance in expression, his outstretched arm hidden behind Mel.
Still, it was nice. Macy couldn't help but feel better.
Mel continued to stare her sister down. “So this has nothing to do with your sorority?”
“I mean, coincidentally, it might keep me from getting kicked out of Kappa, but that’s just the icing.” Maggie waved her hands. “The cake is totally for you guys. Because I so want to help save the world.”
Well… with that mindset, minus the whole Kappa thing, Macy had to admit, it did kind of make sense. “We could rule out most of the Greek system,” she offered.
Harry’s hand dropped when Mel turned to send a smirk his way. “And I’m guessing your precious Elders haven’t come up with anything better?”
At a loss for words, the Whitelighter hesitated, finding the wooden mantle especially interesting. He fought with himself, weighing his options, but ultimately, this was the best plan yet. It didn’t help that Maggie’s lower lip jutted out, her eyes wide and pleading.
Harry rolled his own. “Very well.”
“Yes!” Maggie fist-pumped the air, her grin big and bright.
Macy bit down a giggle.
“As long as we stay on task,” Harry lectured, halting any further excitement. “And remain vigilant. There’s no telling when the Harbinger might strike.”
“Oh no. No. No carbs.” The blonde pushed the biscuit tray away, her hips never losing their sway.
Harry pushed the tray back towards them. “No biscuit, no party.”
The partying girls gave him odd looks, but reluctantly each took a pastry, before moving away. Harry adjusted his mask, and after spending a few more minutes passing out food, he left for the kitchen to restock.
What he found instead didn’t surprise him. He set the tray down and honed in on the annoyance festering to life under his suit. “When I told you to focus on witchcraft, this was not what I had in mind.”
Maggie, caught in the act of manifesting two skinny martinis, tried to play it off as nothing. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She tried to move around him, but Harry sidestepped, blocking her exit.
“Maggie, our spells rely on a system of balance. So when magic is used for personal gain-” He ignored her impatient looks, all too used to it by now. “Say, to wallow in the superficiality of the Greek system, or to live your “best life” on the Snapchat, I can assure you there will be personal consequences.”
His lecture fell on deft ears. Maggie looked past him, brows rising, before pressing the drinks into his hands. “Hold that thought, Harry, and give these margs to the zombie beauty queen and slutty baby.” With that, his charge rushed off, disappearing in the sea of drunk, dancing teens.
“What is it with your generation’s obsession with offensive costume?” Harry muttered, making a mental note to ask Macy about it later.
Macy was busy passing out cookies when Maggie snatched her around the elbow, pulling her away from the crowd of loud young adults. “Please tell me that’s a two-part costume and there’s lingerie under there.”
Macy blinked. “What? No. I’m Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” She smiled, pleased with her costume choice.
Maggie, not so much. “Wrong. You’re a weirdo in a trash bag. This is Halloween. And when Galvin sees you, there’s only one thing you want him to say…” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
Macy frowned. Who said anything about Galvin? She didn’t have time to ask, because the next thing she knew, her sister had her around the elbow again, dragging her up the stairs to Marisol’s room.
“What abooout… Lara Croft?” Maggie snapped her fingers, the now-familiar green mist enveloping Macy’s tall body, melting away only when it reformed her clothes into a tight number.
“Absolutely not. Are you insane?” It was something Macy really wanted to know because there was no way she was leaving the room dressed like this.
“No. But I am running out of ideas. Why are you so allergic to being sexy?” Maggie reached out, fingers nearly gracing Macy’s shoulder.
No. No, no, no. Panicked, the eldest shifted away. “Stay out of my head.”
“I wouldn't have to read your thoughts if you’d just talk to me and be my sister.”
The admission hung between them, heavy, neither one brave enough to look at the other. Maggie dusted her dress shyly, sitting down near her mom’s bed.
All of a sudden, she looked so small, so tiny, so… Macy bit her bottom lip. She looks like me.
It was a scary realization, but not unwelcome. It helped ease some of the anxiety away, helped remind her that Maggie was human too.
Slowly, Macy took a seat next to her younger sister. Time to be a big girl.
“Okay. When I was in ninth grade, my dad sent me to boarding school in Connecticut. Uh, so, in a class of a hundred kids, two of us weren’t white.” She laced her fingers together, trying to rein in some semblance of warmth. “In that environment, you had to solidify what type of minority you were before they decided for you.
“So my friend Tasha became, you know, the sexy, funny one, and I was always the smart, serious one. I’ve played that part for so long, I don’t know how to be anything else.” Macy ended with a tiny shrug.
Maggie, who’d been tentatively listening, took it all in. She never realized… she took her time looking Macy up and down, taking in her soft hair and delicate complexion, glowing when the perfect idea burst to life.
Taking her sister by the hand, Maggie positioned them back in front of the mirror. “You’re smart and you’re sexy. You’re funny and you’re serious. And screw anyone who tries to put you in a box.” Smiling, confident in her decision, Maggie snapped her fingers.
When the green mist cleared, Macy felt her breath hitch. “Maggie. It’s…”
Beautiful? Amazing? Out of this world? All of the above?
Macy could hardly believe that was her. Body draped in white robes, held together by golden jewelry. The costume accented her hidden curves, drew attention to her complexion, and made her stand out.
Maggie beamed. “I know. It’s extra.” She leaned in closer, wrapping an arm around Macy’s waist. “But it suits you, doncha think?”
They didn't get very far after leaving Marisol's room when Mel pulled them into the kitchen. “We’ve got a problem.”
“Ya, you’re harshing on my vibe.” Maggie fixed her crown. “What’s so important that I’m missing my own party?”
“I assure you, it’s well worth your time,” Harry chastised, appeared behind the youngest, who squeaked and jumped away. He swallowed a chuckle but felt himself freeze when he noticed the eldest.
Macy met his gaze, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. “Hey.”
“Evening.” His response came out short, lacking its usual tone. Clearing his throat, Harry forced his attention away. “Yes. Mel?”
Mel wasted no time. “So far, we’ve got three dead. One victim at an abstinence club, another was a nun.”
Maggie wrinkled her nose. “Ew, you think it’s hunting virgins?”
A shudder ran down Macy’s spine. Just her luck… “What about Cam?” She bit the inside of her cheek. Maybe if he wasn’t…
“Oh, he was obviously an incel,” Mel scoffed.
Incel? Macy glanced over at Harry, who shrugged. “A what?”
Crap. Sweat was starting to collect in her palms. Macy quickly whipped it away. Pull yourself together. Stay calm. Breath.
“Virgin blood is a powerful energy source for demons,” Harry explained, “If this demon wants to strengthen its vessel, then no virgin in Hilltown is safe.”
Great. Perfect. Really helping me out here, Har. Macy couldn't stop herself from surveying the party, stomach heavy.
“Maggie, we have to pull the plug on this party.”
Maggie gaped, almost as if she couldn't believe her ears. “Mel! You want to send my friends home while there’s a killer on the loose? What if any of them are virgins?”
Mel arched an eyebrow. Harry quickly looked away. Macy rocked back on her heels.
“Okay, I know for a fact that some of the Kappas have only let guys put it in-”
“Sexual proclivities aside,” Harry interrupted, not wanting to hear anymore. “She’s right, Mel. This house may be the safest place for them.”
“Then what if we seal off the place with a protection spell? To keep the demons from entering?” Macy suggested. It was all her brain could come up with, seeing as half of it was devoted to remaining calm.
“Fine,” Mel agreed, “but once the house is sealed, we go out hunting.” Despite the dire situation, a spark of excitement danced across her dark irises.
“Done.” Harry addressed the eldest first. “Macy, your mother’s candle collection will contain one made of rose thorn. Can you fetch it for me?”
“Ya. I remember where that is. Got it.” She made a move to leave, but not before her hand sought out his, squeezing. Harry paused, his hand automatically squeezing back. “I’ll find it.”
He watched her go before turning to the youngest. “Maggie, we’ll need some dried sage.”
“Okay.” She made a beeline for the kitchen.
“And you.” Harry fixed his most problematic charge with a look. “With me.”
Mask long since discarded, suit unbuttoned, Harry wheeled the wagon out from the shed. Mel followed, holding two large bags of salt. “Oh, here, let me.”
Mel shifted away. “I got it. I don’t need a big, strong man to help me make a salt circle.” She quietly got to work, while Harry watched, taking her in.
This had to stop. They’d never get anywhere like this.
“Do you think I enjoy policing you?”
Mel jingled her bracelet. “Would I be wearing this if you didn’t?”
“Look, I know these methods may seem harsh-”
“Harsh?” Mel let out a dry laugh. “I can’t even have a conversation with Niko without you showing up to berate me.”
“Mel.” Harry tried to reason, his voice soft. “The last thing I wish to do is put up barriers between you and that woman.”
His charge scoffed, whipping at her cheeks. “She's more than that. I don’t think you understand how painful this is.”
“Painful?” If only she knew.
Mel nodded. “Our mom raised us without judgments and she made sure I was always proud of who I was. So I’ve never had to hide.” She wrapped her fingers around the bracelet. “Now look at me. Hiding.”
Her words, ending in such venom… Now, Harry better understood. “Hmm.”
Taking a deep breath, Mel squared her shoulders. “Let’s just get this over with, okay?” She was no longer in a mood to talk. Harry respected that, but that didn’t mean he was finished with her.
Macy shuffled through the closet of candles, working as fast as she could. “Okay. Seriously? How did they not realize their mom was a witch?”
It was almost funny. Honestly, did Marisol just… hide it all that well? Or freeze time so that her kids wouldn't stumble in on all her potions and broomsticks?
Macy giggled to herself, smiling when her hand landed on the rose thorn. “Gotcha.”
Hopefully, with this spell, everyone would be safe. Trapped, but safe. Her heart started to pound, fingers squeezing the candlestick.
She should tell Harry. It’d be better if he knew. Just in case. Ya. Just in case the Harbinger found them first. He should really know.
But what if he starts looking at me differently.
Maggie’s reaction to finding out the demon’s attraction to virgins still stung. She didn’t even want to think about what Mel would say.
Clutching the candle to her chest, Macy locked the door behind her. This better work.
“Once the spell is cast, no magical entities, including ourselves, will be able to cross the circle.” Harry folded his hands behind his back, watching the flashing lights through the windows.
Macy lit her candle, setting it on the ring of salt. Maggie sprinkled dried sage over the flame. Immediately, the salt came to life, sparkling with power. A ring of purple appeared, reaching out towards the Vera’s house, guided by the candle’s flame.
All three witches watched, mesmerized.
But instead of encasing the house, the spell dissolved.
“Why isn't it working?” Mel asked, turning to the Whitelighter.
“Well, if the house can’t be sealed off, there’s only one explanation.” He watched Mel’s eye double in size, her voice hardly above a whisper.
“The Harbinger’s inside.”
Harry only had a second to react, catching her arm before she activated her powers. “No, Mel. Don’t. The demon’s far too powerful. All that’ll do is freeze your friends and make them easier prey.”
“Then what are we supposed to do?”
No one spoke for what felt like ages. Maggie wrung her hands, staring down at the salt. Mel tapped her foot, fingers sinking into her costume. Harry rattled his brain, looking for an answer.
Bloody hell, could this get any worse.
A plan. They needed a plan. The spell was a flop, the Harbinger already inside the house, doing only God knows what.
Macy inhaled, letting the cool air fill her lungs. She had to do something. Lure the demon out and away from the innocent.
A documentary she saw ages ago surfaced, and just like that, Macy knew what she had to do.
Okay. Deep breaths. Calm. Just like Harry said.
“When you want to catch a shark, you don’t use live bait.” Macy was surprised how steady her voice sounded, especially when all three pairs of eyes zeroed in on her. Reaching back for a golden pin, Macy held her palm up. “You chum the water.”
“Great. But where are we gonna get our hands on virgin blood?” Mel asked.
Moment of truth. “Right here.” Not letting herself think too much, she plunged the pin into her palm, drawing a sizable amount of blood. It collected, dripping down her arm.
Macy felt the intensity of the stares. She ignored it, moving away and whipped her blood along a nearby tree. “Come on.”
Macy walked fast, ahead of everyone, leaving behind smears of red. She didn’t want to talk about it, no matter how many questions Maggie asked. Mel, for the most part, chimed in every now and then.
Harry didn’t say anything.
Maggie inched closer. “Is this why you're so weird around guys?”
“I’m not weird around guys.” Macy marked another tree, her back to the group. It made what she had to say next easier. “I’m cautious. Back, back in high school, I wanted my first time to be perfect. You know? Perfect place with the perfect guy…”
“Yeah, but there’s no such thing as…”
“Perfect? No kidding.” Macy felt her dress sway with her legs. “Especially once I started analyzing the statistical probability of an unplanned pregnancy, the transmission rate of HPV. I- I just really psyched myself out.”
“I had sex with a guy once.” Mel shrugged. “You’re not missing out.”
Maggie clapped her hands. “Yea, and it’s totally normal to be freaked out about your first time.”
Damn it. Harry, say something .
“Maybe at eighteen,” Macy whispered, chancing a look at everyone. The Whitelighter hung back, his face shrouded in shadow. Dejected, she quickly looked away. “Not at twenty-eight. Because now, whenever I tell people, they react like this.”
Both Vera’s jumped, talking over one another in an attempt to reassure her that they were just surprised and how the concept of virginity is really just a tool and something about controlling sexuality?
Macy shifted. “Can we stop talking about this and go vanquish this demon?”
She squeezed her fist, watching as blood dripped down, the dirt soaking it up like a sponge. Feeling her hand start to numb, Macy stepped back.
“We’re only gonna get one chance at this binding spell.” Harry kept his eyes on the horde of trees. “And we can’t afford any juvenile mistakes.”
In unison, the older sisters shot the youngest accusing looks. Maggie flushed. “What? I put my phone in airplane mode.”
A nearby bush rustled. Harry tensed, shushing the girls. “Quiet,” he hissed, “It’s coming.”
Twigs snapped, dirt shoved aside, heavy footfalls moved closer. A deep, gutted growl filled the air, it's tone hungry and angry.
It didn’t take long for its owner to emerge, long hair natty, ripped gown revealing cracked flesh.
“Angela?” Mel gasped. “But I watched you eat that cookie.”
The demon licked its dark lips, eyeing up the witches before settling on Macy.
“Now,” Harry said.
Macy reached for her bottle of water, throwing some into her pool of blood. “ Captus aqua .”
“ Captus terra! ” Mel recited.
Maggie dove for her element when the glamour spell from earlier short-circuited. “Ah!”
Harry, thinking fast, ran over to the fallen witch, catching her before her body connected with the hard ground. “No. Macy,” he shouted, looking over his shoulder at her. “Run!”
With one last lick of the lips, the demon grinned, charging the eldest witch, who screamed, blindly sprinting deeper into the forest.
“Macy!” Mel ran after them.
Harry held Maggie close, quietly assessing her for any damage. “I told you these glamorous would have consequences,” he whispered, slowly standing, bringing the shaking Vera up with him.
He squeezed her arm. Maggie nodded. “I’ve got this. I’ll turn them off. Lux veritas .”
Her lush gown disappeared in an instant, replaced with an oversized shirt and leggings. Maggie touched her forehead, immediately feeling better.
“Good.” With Maggie settled, Harry's brain devoted itself to Mel and Macy, who were currently running for their lives, one at a greater risk than the other. “Let's go.” He turned to leave when a small hand stopped him.
“Just… hold my hand? For a little?”
Her voice… It sounded so unlike her. A gust of wind blew past, ruffling her hair. Goosebumps appeared around her neck, but for some reason, Harry doubted it had anything to do with the weather.
He felt something inside him spur.
Taking her hand more firmly in his, Harry offered Maggie a researching smile. “Stay behind me.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.”
The woods grew thicker the deeper the pair went, quietly stepping over branches and fallen trees. Harry inspected everything and despite the dark hour, he was able to make out the demon’s large footprints. “This way,” he whispered.
They continued down the path until an ear-piercing scream ripped through the night. Harry’s heart stopped. Macy.
He didn’t notice his hand slack, the smaller one disappearing until it was too late. His youngest charge was already running ahead, screaming for her sisters.
Harry cursed, rushing after her.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap!
Macy hastily pushed leaves out of her way, tripping, dry branches scraping her shoulders. With her costume long gone, body now dressed in easier to run in clothes, Macy forced her legs to move faster, taking longer strides.
But the more she ran, the closer the demon felt. Her heart was already pounding, lungs burning. If I live through this, I’m taking up jogging!
She ducked, avoiding a nasty head injury.
“I can smell you,” a gurgled voice hissed. “I can smell you!”
Without thinking, Macy’s hand shot out and a thick chunk of wood went sailing, connecting with the Harbinger’s body, taking it down.
“Oh. Ah. Ha! I did it. I-”
Apparently, the hit wasn't enough to keep the monster down. It shot up like a daisy, eyes glowing red.
Macy twisted on her heel, ignoring her weak legs and heaving chest. She didn’t make it far before needing to stop and take a break.
Leaning up against a thick tree, gasping, one hand on her chest, the other pressed against the rough bark, Macy took a moment to rest. Standing alone, hidden under a canopy of ivy leaves, she inhaled deeply, the cool air diminishing the fire inside her ribs.
“Macy! Look out!”
The unexpected voice startled her and she blindly looked around, gasping when she saw her youngest sister holding a small log, the far end of it coated in thick sludge.
They both stared at each other, before slowly turning to look at the now knocked-out demon.
Dropping the log, Maggie’s small arms coiled around Macy’s hips. “I’m so sorry.”
“I- I dunno what happened,” Macy babbled, her own arms instinctively coming to wrap around the smaller girl. “I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline or the glimpse of certain death, but when I was running, I didn’t even have to think. All I could do was react and it worked!” She grinned, hugging Maggie closer. “My powers worked!”
Maggie giggled. “You’re super excited for someone who almost just got eaten.”
Both too happy for words, neither noticed the Harbinger get up. Its bones cracked, mouth stretched wide, sharp teeth gleaming in the moonlight.
“Guys!” Mel cried, emerging from the maze of trees in time to see the demon stand. “Guys, get down!”
“No! Not the spell.” Harry tried to stop her, running up after her. “Mel, they’re too close.”
But it was too late. Determined to save her sisters, his charge performed the spell, and with no time to stop her, Harry was forced to the ground, tumbling from the force of the shockwave.
The spell knocked the demon out permanently, keeping it motionless, limbs limp at its sides.
When the ringing in his ears finally subsided, Harry groaned, picking himself up.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god.”
The mingled anxiety and fear from Mel and Maggie startled him, and when he finally regained his vision, his blood ran cold. There, not too far from the fallen Harbinger, lay Macy, motionless.
Maggie crawled over to her fallen sister, hands fumbling. “Macy?”
“She’s not breathing,” Mel panicked. “Harry, please do something, she’s not breathing!”
Pushing the dizziness away, Harry gently put a hand on Maggie’s shoulder, guiding her aside so he could take Macy’s hand. “Let’s just hope it’s shock.” Kneeling, he let his fingers hover over her chest, working on healing her from the inside out.
“Please, this is not happening,” Mel chanted. “This can’t be happening. Macy, come on. Come on.”
Spurred on by Mel’s pleas, Harry forced his magic to work harder, taking the brunt of the damage. Slowly, Macy started to heal, her ribs reconstructed themselves, her blood moving, heart thumping out a steady beat.
In turn, his insides broke down. One by one, his bones cracked, his blood felt heavier, and his heart stuttered.
Harry bit his tongue. Just a little more.
Finally, Macy let out a dry cough, moaning, brows scrunched together.
Both Veras' breathed, relieved.
Thank God. She’s alright. Harry took Macy’s shoulders and eased her into his arms. She grappled for his sleeve, tugging. “My throat hurts,” she rasped.
Harry chuckled, letting the moment fully engulf him. She was safe. She was okay. In his arms and alive and well.
When the pair pulled apart, Maggie took her turn, snuggling into her sister’s right side. Macy chortled, patting the younger girl’s shoulder.
“I thought… I am so, so sorry. Oh, God. Macy, will you ever forgive me?” Mel begged.
“You did save my life. I think I can let this slide.” She smiled, her eyes kind and without anger. Harry took it all in, watching the three bathe in their shared warmth. Seeing someone come so close to death, he knew first hand how horrid such an experience was.
It left its mark. It followed you. Hunted you.
Macy looked up, eyes seeking him out. They shared a small look, going unnoticed by the two Veras. Once everyone was up off the ground, Maggie shyly glanced over at the Harbinger. “What do we do about her?” She wrinkled her nose.
Not wanting to subject them to any more trauma, Harry decided to handle the rest alone. “Well, the Elder’s will want to weigh in. Why don’t you go clear out the house? I’ll take care of things here.” He watched Maggie and Macy leave, their pace slow, their shoulders almost touching.
Mel hung back, rooted in the dirt. Harry arched an eyebrow. Odd. Was she injured as well?
“Harry… you were right. I was being reckless and I almost killed Macy.”
Ah. He simpered. “See? Teachable moment. But lest you forget, you also brought down an immensely powerful demon and you were the first to suspect Angela Wu might be the vessel.” Always best to give credit where it is due.
“Hold on. Was that a compliment?”
Mel's posture melted into something more familiar, but that raw determination displayed moments ago still clung to her. The pure need to keep her family safe. Harry hummed, losing himself in a sea of memories.
Despite her shorter stature and dark hair, the resemblance was near uncanny. They were so alike, it was staggering.
“You really are just like her,” he whispered, turning away.
“Like my mom?”
He took a moment to compose himself. “There is a reason I’ve been so hard on you. You’re not the only witches I’ve ever looked after.” He left the demon, coming to stand by his charge. If he was going to bear this conversation, it’d be better done face to face.
“Her name was Fiona. She was passionate, talented…” He chuckled. “And stubborn, much like you.”
Mel watched him, really seeing him, possibly for the first time since their meeting. “What happened to her?”
“She trusted the wrong person with her secret. Fiona was… institutionalized. They thought she was schizophrenic and drugged her until she doubted the truth.” He paused, the forest around him melting away piece by piece.
She was so young. So full of potential. A human bubbling with possibilities and… Harry felt his throat close up. To have all that dashed away. At such a young age.
“And then… Finally... She couldn't take it anymore.” He straightened his back, locking the memories away before his composure crumbled completely. “Losing her made me who I am. Vigilant. Protective. And I suppose that’s why I was given the honor of serving alongside you three.”
Mel looked away, taking it all in, before firmly catching Harry’s eye again. “I’m not gonna tell Niko. For now. But Harry, I’m not Fiona. I’m not gonna be reckless anymore.”
Her words were spoken with promise. Harry believed her. “Thank you.” He wasn’t sure he’d be able to handle another fallen witch. Not again. He wished away the bracelet, freeing Mel of its confines.
“When this war against evil is no longer at our doorstep, I will help you get permission to tell her,” he vowed, watching as his charge’s features softened, even for a fraction of a second.
Perhaps there is hope for us yet.
When he returned, he found Macy sitting on the front steps, a thick, oversized coat draped around her shoulders.
After the Harbinder was secured up in the Manor’s attic, Macy left to wait outside and Harry spent a few extra minutes prepping Mel and Maggie. If they could not handle the beast, they were to call upon him immediately. No touching it. No interacting with it. No tampering with its chains.
Maggie almost laughed. Like she’d ever want to touch it.
Macy jumped, turning. “Hey, ready to go?”
He offered her his arm. She took it, stretching out her legs. “Mel and Maggie are gonna be okay?”
“Of course. I made sure to cast a containment spell around the Harbinger. Chained it to the wall. The works.”
The pair started down the road.
“And the Elders? What about them?”
“Ah, yes. I’ve informed them of the situation. Someone will be issued to the house soon, to take care of the matter.”
Macy nodded slowly. “Good. That's… good.”
Harry frowned. Ever since the demon’s capture, she’d been oddly quiet. A little detached, especially around him. “Macy, have I upset you in any way?”
His question must have caught her off guard because she nearly tripped. “What? No, why would you ask that?”
His charge deflated, her cheeks turning a deep shade of crimson under the street lamps. “What do you think of me now?”
Confused, Harry blinked. Was this a trick question? “I’m afraid I don’t follow.”
“After today, what do you think of when you look at me?” She kept her eyes downcast, refusing to look anywhere above her knees.
Still, at a loss for what's happening, Harry decided to play along. “Well, for starters. I see an extremely intelligent woman. Strong-willed. Determined. Modest in the best ways. A tad bit shy,” he nudged her shoulder playfully. “And a bloody good baker, if I do say so myself.”
He was delighted when Macy’s blush intensified. “That's… that's not what I meant.”
His charge hummed, playing with her sleeve. “You were so quiet. I wanted to know what you were thinking. Back there.”
“Me. And my virginity.”
Oh. I see. “Should I think a certain way?”
“Harry.” Macy tugged on his arm. “Please.”
“How could you possibly think I’d see you any differently.” His voice took on a more serious tone, firm, leaving no room for doubt. “I found your reasoning to be quite sweet. To save yourself for the one you deem worthy is something you should never be ashamed of, Macy.”
“You mean that?”
“What reason would I have to lie.”
Macy shrugged, the corner of her lips tugging up. “Staying on my good side, maybe?”
“Hm. You’ve found me out, my dear.”
The two broke out in giggles, their voices mingling together under the dark sky. The rest of the walk went by without words. It's only when Harry unlocked the door to their shared flat that Macy found her voice.
“It really doesn't bother you?”
Her gaze met his, eyes searching. Harry let her look, his walls down, armor stripped. With her arm still around his, he dared to reach for her free hand. “I see no reason why it should. This, in no way, impairs my image of you.”
“Think you're gonna sleep tonight?”
Harry sighed. “Not a chance. I have yet to finish grading my student’s papers. I assume you're asking because…”
“What would you say to some company?”
“I'll get the kettle.”
Chapter 17: First Lesson
Macy’s first lesson in meditation, taught by one Harry Greenwood.
G: Hey, sorry I couldn't make it to your sis’s party last night. Something came up. I hear it was pretty sick tho!
M: Oh. Ew. No. We’re all adults here, there’s no need to revert to childish slang.
Macy snorted, her reply halfway typed when she noticed her housemate approaching. Quickly hiding her phone under her legs, Macy plastered on an innocent smile.
Harry set two cups of tea down on the living room table, clearly not buying her act. “Dear Lord, you’re worse than a pre-teen.”
“What? I’m not doing anything.”
“Of course you aren’t.” He outstretched his hand. “Hand it over.”
“Apologies, my dear, but that little trick won’t work on me.” Harry wiggled his fingers. “The phone, Miss. Vaughn.”
Seeing no way around it, Macy gave up. “Fine. But that means you don’t get to keep yours either.”
“Bold of you to assume I carry a mobile.”
Macy blinked. “What? You don’t?” Not possible. She didn’t care if it was conjured up by the Book of Shadows itself, Harry had to own a cell.
… actually, come to think of it, she’s never seen him with a phone, old fashioned or otherwise.
It wasn’t until Harry broke out in a chuckle that she realized she’d fallen victim to another one of his jokes. She flushed, hiding behind her hands. “I can’t believe I fell for that.”
Still laughing, Harry made a show of placing his cell by hers. “It’s a talent, I’m afraid.”
Macy stuck her tongue out. “Ha, ha.”
“Mmmh, no,” she grinned. “It’s not. So, um… so I’m not all too sure how to start this.”
“That is the whole point of my being here.” Harry sat down on the floor across from her, legs outstretched, hands on knees. “Yesterday, when you told me about your powers working, did you have time to ponder? To plan?”
Macy shook her head. “No. I was kinda busy trying to not die.”
“Ahem, right.” Harry cleared his throat. “The Harbinger aside, your powers worked because you didn’t have time to overthink.”
He had a point. She’d been so proud of herself, of using her powers so effortlessly, she actually gushed to Maggie in the middle of the woods.
It was actually pretty amazing. Unlike before, there was no backlash from her telekinesis. With no time for doubt, no time to worry, her mind all but blank, she had a better grasp of the branch, easily throwing it.
She wanted to do it again.
“And meditation will help?”
“Okay.” Macy sat up, back straight, posture pristine, and ready to learn. “I’m ready.”
Harry silently reached out for her hands, holding them between their bodies. “Close your eyes,” he instructed. “Take deep breaths, in through the nose and out with the mouth. Take a few moments to get used to it, settle in, and take your time.”
He watched her intensively. It took a while, but eventually, Macy’s shoulders eased down, her breathing coming in and out more naturally, rather than forced.
Once Harry was satisfied, he continued. “Look in on yourself, watch your body from the inside out. Don’t touch anything, just observe.”
This time, Macy’s brows pinched. “I, I’ll try. But I’m not sure-”
He squeezed her hand, rubbing soothing circles into her wrists. “Follow what feels right. Don’t overthink. Don’t analyze. Just watch.”
His charge bit her bottom lip -we’re going to have a talk about that- while Harry remained silent, honing in on his own powers to track her progress.
She was trying, she was really trying, but without the threat of danger, she just couldn't do it. Harry sighed, and decided to try something else.
“Macy, pull yourself back to that night.”
“Think back to how you felt. How in tune you became with your craft. Hone in on it and observe.”
She did, wincing when images of the Harbinger surfaced. Harry wanted to push it away, blur the figure, spear his charge the fear, but this was necessary.
Macy did as she was told, putting herself back in that mindset.
No thinking. No time to think.
Her life was put in the hands of her craft, a gift given to her by the forces above, unlocked by Marisol. She blindly trusted herself, trusted the bubbling heat building up inside her head.
But it worked then. I’m alive. I’m okay.
She let herself drown in the feeling, her vision obscured by streaks of deep pinks and oranges. They intertwined, dancing across her mind with such grace and balance. Macy reached up, trying to touch it, but they shied away.
Harry’s words suddenly rang in her ears. She wasn’t supposed to do anything but watch.
It’s so pretty. Are those my powers? And that smell. Like oranges.
Macy hummed. It’s nice…
“Macy,” Harry whispered, rousing her out of the session. She blinked, eyes glassy, a little dazed.
“Welcome back, dear.”
Macy blinked a few more times, letting the session catch up with her. Harry watched, transfixed as her expression slowly brightened and without warning, she lunged, locking her arms around his neck.
“Harry! Oh, oh god. Harry, it was… I don’t even know how to describe it. Great? Amazing? Unbelievable? It was like swimming in the ocean and watching snowfall.”
Startled, the Whitelighter reeled back, arms automatically holding her in place before they both lost their balance and fell over. “Swimming?”
She nodded enthusiastically. “And watching snowfall.”
“I, I see.” He cleared his throat, the force of the hug knocking the air out of his lungs. “Happy to be of service.” He patted her back. “Worth it?”
“Have I dashed your skepticism?”
Macy poked his chest. “So far, so good.”
Chapter 18: Morning Coffee
Harry meets up with an old friend.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harry sat at the kitchen table, half reading the morning news, half watching his charge bustle around, her hair pushed up into a messy ponytail. “Keys?”
“Check.” Macy held up a silver chain, two small keys, one for the flat and the other for the lab, dangling in midair.
“Um.” His charge rooted around in her purse, letting out a triumphant shout when her fingers touched the green bills. “Got it.”
“Never leave home without it, Har.”
“Ah, your generation, practically attached to their mobiles.”
Macy flicked his shoulder. “Rude.”
Harry smirked. “And you wouldn't have me any other way.”
“It’s a shame how true that is.” His charge shook her head, feigning exasperation.
Harry swatted her hip. She stuck her tongue out before quickly dancing away. “You sure you don’t wanna tag along?”
“No, thank you. I don’t think my intrusion would be taken too well.” He swallowed a healthy gulp of his tea. “Go, bond with your sisters. Have fun.”
Macy nodded and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, posture melting into something more delicate. “Okay. But for the record, only Mel’d have a problem with your party crashing. I’m sure Maggie half loves you.”
“Well, thank you for the bound of confidence. Now, you’d better hurry. I believe you are to meet your sisters in half an hour. And seeing as it’s now a little past ten…”
Macy gasped. “Shoot. I’m gonna be late. Okay, gotta go.”
“Have fun,” he repeated, smiling when he heard his charge rush out into the hall. He spent the rest of his morning reading through the paper, enjoying his English Breakfast, relaxing. So much so that he lost track of time.
When a small, digital clock (courtesy of Macy) tucked away into the kitchen corner beeped, signaling early noon, Harry jumped. “Bollacks.”
Paper forgotten, mug now empty, the Whitelighter hastily fixed himself. Changing out of his jumper and pulling on one of his more pristine suits, he chanced one last look in the hallway mirror before taking his leave.
Hopefully, she won’t dismember me.
Taking the mortal way (never know when a demon might be watching, better to blend in), Harry hailed a cab, gave the driver the address, and sat back, watching as road-side shops passed him by. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to arrive at the small, hole in the wall cafe. “Thank you.”
The cabbie tipped his hat, offering him a ‘good day’, and drove off.
Dusting down his waistcoat, Harry ventured in, asking one of the waitresses for a Miss. Flores-Cohen.
“Oh, ya. She’s sitting outside. Table three.”
It took little effort in spotting his friend. She sat under a large umbrella, long legs crossed, dressed to the nines, picking at a half-eaten muffin.
“Harry,” she greeted when he took a seat across from her. “Glad you made it. I was starting to worry I was being stood up.”
“Now, now. I wouldn't miss our little get together for the world.” He took a moment to look around their setting. “I must commend you, Tessa. Wonderful cafe.”
Tessa smiled. “I thought you’d appreciate it. The cafe’s got that antique look to it.”
“Kinda like you.”
Harry gasped, hand to his chest. “Oh, you dare.”
A waitress came over and he placed his order. Tessa asked for another coffee, straightening her skirt when the waitress left. “So, I hear you were assigned to the Charmed Ones.”
Harry couldn't help but smile. “Yes, a wonderful group of ladies. Full of potential. And you? How are your witches fairing?”
The brunette sighed, rubbing her nose. “Don’t get me started. I love my charges, really I do, but Lord, can they get on my nerves.”
“Teenagers tend to do that,” Harry offered, suppressing a chuckle.
Tessa bumped his leg with her heel. “Laugh it up, Greenwood. Laugh it up. Just remember, I will always hold the stronger deck between us.”
Harry arched an eyebrow, leaning on his elbows. “Yes, so you tend to remind me.”
The two shared a look, each taking the other in. Finally, Tesse let her lips turn up. “It’s been too long.”
Harry vehemently agreed. “It’s been, what, three years?”
“Four,” his friend corrected, popping some muffin into her mouth. “Ugh, we need to ask for better schedules. I swear.”
The waitress soon came back with their orders, handing Harry his tea and Tessa her coffee, before moving to a nearby table.
Harry and Tessa spent the next few hours catching up, trading stories, exchanging inside jokes, ranting about crazed demons, and faulty spells.
“And this one time, Sasha decided it was a good idea to mix ginger root with rose water. Boom! She came this close to getting her eyebrows incinerated.”
Harry snorted, struggling to swallow his tea. “Blimey!”
“I know! And I told her, keep these two separated. Don’t mix them. But does she listen? Nooo.”
“You wanna switch? I take yours and you take mine?”
“Alas, I must decline. I’ve finally managed to make some progress with Melanie. She may not like me, but at least now, she tolerates me.”
Tessa threw a piece of muffin at him. “You’ll win her over. She sounds head-strong.” The brunette shrugged. “Not a bad thing, but with people like that, it’ll take some time to earn their trust.”
Harry hummed knowingly. “Yes. After all, it took me a while to get on your good side.”
“Hey. In my defense, we were young.”
“Young and dumb.”
“Maybe you were. I was just young.”
Tessa winked. “I try.” She glanced down at her watch, cursing when she realized it was now a little past four. “Damn. It’s late. Sorry, Greenwood, but it looks like I gotta run.” She stood, fixing her skirt.
Harry mirrored her, leaving a generous tip for their waitress. “I’ll see you out.”
His friend fixed him with a look, hand on hip. “Still a gentleman.” She took his arm, letting him lead. “It was fun, but next time is your pick. And please, for the love of God, pick somewhere with good coffee.”
She let go when they reached the sidewalk, hailing a cab, but before she got in, Harry opened his arms, warm and inviting.
Tessa sunk into the hug, patting his shoulder. “Be safe,” she whispered, voice calm and quiet. “There was another assassination.”
Another? That makes two now. Harry felt his throat close. “An Elder?”
Harry strengthened his hold on the brunette. “You as well. Stay safe.”
“I always am.”
They pulled apart, Tessa giving her long time friend one last wink before getting into her cab. “Can I drop you off anywhere?”
“Thank you, but I must decline. Exercise being food for the soul and whatnot.”
The brunette shrugged. “That’s not it at all, but suit yourself. Till next time, professor.”
Harry bowed his head. “I can hardly contain myself."
This chapter was super fun to write.
Chapter 19: Running Errands
Grocery shopping is always better with two.
Macy frowned, her upper body hidden halfway in the fridge, scavenging the shelves for any signs of sustenance. Unfortunately, all she came up with after about ten minutes was an old onion and avocado.
A quick look into the pantry hailed similar results.
“How are we still alive?” She muttered, standing in the middle of the kitchen, hands on hips, eyes roaming over the open cabinets. All of them half-way empty.
Sure, between all the demon-hunting and work, life was sort of all over the place, but they still needed to eat.
And unlike a certain housemate, Macy couldn't survive on just tea and biscuits alone.
“Looks like it’s time for a grocery run. Oh!” She jumped, hands clapping together. “I can make a list!”
Hand locked in his arm, warm under his soft coat, Macy checked item after item off of her list. “Okay, we still need to get milk and cheese. Then we should be good to go.”
“Hey,” Macy scolded, nudging his hip. “Be nice.”
Harry at least had the decency to look apologetic. “Excuse me, but this is taking an unnecessary amount of time. I simply do not understand why it is so important to buy such specific items. Cooking oil is cooking oil. They all accomplish the job fairly well.”
“Ya, but I like avocado oil better.”
Macy shrugged, smiling. When Harry didn’t return the gesture, instead sending her a pointed look, Macy squeezed his arm. “Okay. Okay. I admit… this shopping trip has been a little… long.”
“Long? It’s been extensive.”
“But I can make it worth your while.”
That got his attention. Macy inwardly cheered when the Whitelighter’s steps faltered. “And how do you propose to do that?”
“Weell, I distinctly remember passing by a bunch of pastries.” She bit her lip. “And I noticed you eyeing up a few of them. Give me half an hour and I promise, I’ll buy you any which you want.”
Harry gasped. “Miss. Vaughn, are you attempting to bribe me?”
“Depends.” She leaned in, giggling. “Is it working?”
He mirrored her, bending down a bit to meet her eyes. “Absolutely.”
True to her word, half an hour later, the pair found themselves deep in the pastry aisle, Macy happily watching as her housemate decided on what sweets he wanted. Completely focused, with a finger to his lip, brow creased in concentration.
Macy snorted into her palm, resisting the urge to take a video. “And you tease me about being picky.”
"No, no, this is quite different,” Harry rebuffed, finally selecting two packs of jam roly-polys.
They spent about another five minutes at check-out, waiting for the couple in front. When it was their turn, Macy unloaded while Harry took care of payment. The two quickly packed their food away in paper bags ("It's better for the environment, Harry," Macy informed, to which he rolled his eyes) and left.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Harry hummed. “No, I admit, it was quite… rewarding.”
Oh god. Macy groaned, shaking her head. “You just can’t stop, can you?”
“Afraid not,” he chuckled, patting her hand.
Chapter 20: Enter the High Elder, Charity Callahan
Harry rubbed his forehead, the letter from the High Elders resting on his desk, its golden cursive shining under the fluorescent overhang light.
Of all the Elders, why did they have to send her?
Lord, give me strength.
Giving his past dealing with this particular individual, Harry was sure they'd send someone else. Maybe, someone, he knew in passing, someone who didn't put him on edge, someone who--
Harry sighed, fingers sliding down to rub his nose. He could see it already; acting like a bloody fool, the questioning looks from his charges, the way she’d look at him, sharp eyes burning holes into his skull.
The Whitelighter shivered.
“Sounds like my cue.”
“I can’t go on like this,” Mel muttered, draining her coffee.
Macy carefully extracted the brunt mouse, frowning. “Ya, especially now that the Harbinger’s developed the touch of death. Poor little guy.”
“I can’t wait for the Elder’s to get here. I can’t sleep, I’m so jumpy.” Mel hung her head, lips pursed. “I hate it.”
“Oh, come on, as if my unpaid job as the nanny of pure evil isn't bad enough, I’m flunking out of school.” Maggie groaned, flying into the kitchen, hair freshly washed and brushed. She made a beeline for the coffee maker, huffing.
Macy arched an eyebrow. “You’re in school?”
The joking tone went over the youngest’s head. She fixed Macy with a look. “Ya, of course, I am. I’m a freshman.”
“I’m just not sure I’ve ever seen you go to class.”
“Well, I have… just not World Lit that much.” Maggie fumbled with the coffee maker before finally giving up and leaning against the counter. “My professor e-mailed; if I fail, I’m on academic probation.”
Macy bit her bottom lip, her gloved finger pushing the mouse’s singed ear aside.
“You can ace the midterms,” Mel reassured. “It’s not the end of the world.”
Unable to resist, Macy pointed to the ceiling with her clippers. “That is up in the attic.” Wow. Harry must be rubbing off on me.
Maggie ignored her. “Maybe I should just drop the class? I mean, it’s not too late and I’m under a lot of pressure,” she tried to reason.
Macy resisted the urge to laugh.
Mel rolled her eyes. “Or you could drop Kappa.”
Oh no. Maggie squared her shoulders, looking defensive. Of course, it was the most logical thing to do. In the long run, World Lit would benefit her more than Kappa, but to Maggie, Kappa was everything and dropping it was out of the question.
Macy sighed, her ears already ringing from the soon-to-be argument.“Not this again. Harry!”
On command, their Whitelighter appeared, spinning around to meet the three sisters.
“This situation has us all on edge.” Macy gestured to Maggie, who had her arms crossed, and Mel, who kept tapping her nails against her mug.
Harry fixed his tie. “I am well aware of that fact.”
“Where are the Elders?”
Harry felt his stomach twist. Pushing the feeling away, he cleared his throat. “They’re analyzing a five-thousand-year-old prophecy, making sure they find the right method to vanquish the demon and gather the correct supplies. There is no room for mistakes.”
The doorbell ringing drew everyone's attention. Mel begrudgingly got up and Maggie followed, fixing her hair.
Harry hastily fixed himself. “Ah, well, perhaps that’s them now. How do I look?”
Macy hummed, waving her clippers. “Hmm. Do you want the truth or a white lie?”
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” she giggled, putting the mouse back in its jar and peeled her gloves off. “You look dapper.”
She winked. “Definitely.”
The Vera siblings quickly rushed back, Mel tugging at her sleeves. “It’s not the Elders. It’s Niko and Trip.”
Harry folded his arms behind his back, exhaling. “Not a great time for a visit from the local law enforcement. Get rid of them,” he eyed all three of his charges, before orbing away.
Niko and Trip were interrogating them. They were being interrogated. All three of them! Like criminals! Oh god. Macy flexed her fingers, sweat running down her back.
Mel took care of the talking, answering both Niko and Trip’s questions, hardly stuttering, face the image of innocence.
How can she do that? Lie so easily. I mean, I guess we aren’t really lying. Well, technically we are... I’m lying to law enforcement. If my dad could see me now, he’d kill me!
“You didn’t see her leave with anybody?” Niko asked.
Macy jumped when she felt Mel elbow her. “Oh! I- it was so crowded, a-and everybody was in costume. I honestly couldn't tell her from the other ten zombies that were there. Right, Maggie?”
Maggie gulped, twisting a lock of her hair. “Right! Because that was, that was her costume,” she awkwardly smiled. “She was a zombie. But it was just a costume. She wasn’t a real zombie. Zombies don’t exist. They never existed.”
That's it. We’re going to jail , Macy panicked, chewing her bottom lip raw.
Thankfully, Mel took initiative and froze the room. “Oh, my God, why are you babbling on about Angela’s costume?”
“So they won’t think I’m saying she’s really a zombie, which she basically is,” Maggie shot back.
Macy suddenly felt like she was drowning, sitting in between the two bickering Veras.
“They’re not going to suspect she’s really a zombie.”
Maggie’s brows pinched together. “I’m just really nervous. You’re the one who can’t look Niko in the eye!”
“She has a point,” Macy muttered, sinking down into the sofa. “It’s weird.”
Mel set her jaw, forcing herself to take deep, cleansing breaths. “Okay. Let’s just try to act normal. Maggie, stop playing with your hair. Macy, stop chewing your lip.” With that, Mel restarted time.
“So none of you have had contact with her since the party?” Niko resumed, leaning forward on her elbows.
“I didn’t really know her,” Macy piped up.
“I haven’t heard from her,” Mel added.
Maggie nodded. “Yeah, me neither.”
Before either detective had the chance to continue, a loud dragging sound exploded from the attic, startling everyone in the living room.
Macy almost choked, Maggie gasped, and Mel’s eyes widened. A singular thought passed over them. Crap!
Niko frowned, looking up. “What was that?”
It was like the universe was against them, because the dragging sound rang out again, only louder.
Mind short-circuiting, Macy spoke without thinking. “What noise?” She winced when Trip arched his brow.
“What’s going on upstairs,” he asked, ready to get up and investigate. Niko mimicked her partner, equally suspicious.
Maggie gripped the sofa cousins. “Um, it’s nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a thing. Nope.”
“Y-ya.” Macy jumped in, her shirt sticking to her like a second layer of skin.
Mel glanced at her sisters, silently asking what to do. The youngest shrugged while the oldest sunk further into her seat, wishing she’d just disappear.
They were saved when a tall figure swam into the room, practically out of nowhere, her hair parted professionally, outfit tailored perfectly, high heels clicking against the wooden floor.
“Ugh, sorry, sorry for all of that racket,” the stranger gushed. “Anatoli dropped an ottoman. We will absolutely pay for any and all damages, though, so no need to worry your pretty little heads. Oh! How rude of me.” She angled her gaze at the startled detectives. “Hi, I’m Charity Callahan, interior designer.”
Charity winked, before addressing the sisters. “Sorry, two of my guys are up there taking measurements. So, listen, I’m thinking the whole boho Victorian thing… too on the nose. Let’s play against it, huh? With a little minimalist Scandinavian farmhouse, hmm? Some warm woods, some well-chosen plant life, and voila! Your attic becomes a chicly-Hygge winter den.”
Macy blinked, dumbfounded and half dizzy from the woman’s rapid-fire speech. How did she get in?
Mel nodded along, pretending like this was all normal. “Well, we should get back to our… um, to our chicly-Hygge winter den.” She kicked her sister’s legs when they remained silent.
“Ya!” Maggie shouted, her cheeks reddening. “I mean, yes, definitely have to get back to that den of ours. That we are totally having done.”
Niko frowned. “You’re redecorating the attic?”
Charity shook her head, lush locks dripping over her shoulder. “It’s more like a rebirth of what the attic was always meant to be.”
“I-I wish we could be more helpful,” Macy offered. It was true, she really wished she could offer the Wu family more. Tell them that their daughter was alive and… and that she’d be back home soon. Hopefully. “Truly, you know, we’re all worried about Angela.”
Niko and Trip exchanged looks, seemingly having a silent conversation between themselves before they decided. “Okay,” Niko stood, followed by her partner. Mel got up too, opening the door.
Trip patted her shoulder. “If you think of anything else…”
“We’ll be in touch,” she promised.
Macy hung back with Maggie, not so subtly watching Charity, who kept inspecting the furniture.
“Who are you?” Mel asked when she returned, standing between the tall stranger and her sisters.
“Charity,” the stranger repeated. “The Elder. And I am so sorry to have kept you waiting.”
That seemed to spark something because the tension quickly evaporated and Charity was soon surrounded by three young witches.
“You’re an Elder?” Macy asked, stunned. “I j-just thought you’d all be…”
Charity scoffed. “What, old? I know, I know, I know. I’ve been saying we need to rebrand.”
“Are you also an interior designer?” Maggie leaned in. “‘Cause that was, like, super impressive.”
“Oh, God no. No, no, no, no. I just watch a lot of HGTV while I’m on the treadmill. In reality, I run an investment fund that uses microloans to help women in developing nations start their own businesses.” She proudly handed each girl a card. “We are tackling poverty and inequality through ethical, female-focused capitalism.”
Mel eyed the card, intrigued, and Macy could see the middle Vera wanting to ask more, but the demon in the attic made itself known again through a series of noises. She winced. I will never get used to that.
“Good,” Mel said, pocketing the card. “We’re glad you’re here because we’re done harboring the Harbinger. So how do we save Angela?”
If the situation wasn’t so tense, Macy would have giggled. It was a joke Harry would have been proud of.
“Save Angela?” Charity shook her head. “Oh no, no, no, she can’t be saved. She has to be killed. Tonight, in fact, during the full moon. With this.” She pulled three long, scary-looking daggers from her purse and handed them to each witch.
Maggie gasped, clutching the dagger to her chest like some sort of lifeline. Macy felt her insides turn stone cold. Mel remained strangely silent, thumbing the weapon.
Kill her? Macy forced herself to inhale. I have to… I’ve never killed anyone!
Charity, unaware of the girls’ inner turmoil, clapped her hands and spun on her heel. “All right, let’s go see this thing, huh?”
Harry was summoned completely out of nowhere, without call, pulled from his flat by force and transported to the Vera’s attic. He groaned, massaging his aching temples. Whiplash. The silent, forced summons could only mean one thing.
Seems like the Elder has finally made her grand entrance.
After a quick look around, he saw her. A few feet away, where the Harbinger sat, stood Charity, her ever-present bag hooked around her elbow, tall frame hidden under wraps of white cloth.
Harry nearly jumped when he felt someone’s fingers tug at his cufflink. “Macy?”
“Ya, hey.” His charge offered him a shaky smile. “Um… so, your friend is here.”
“Yes, I can- what the bloody hell is that,” he hissed, grabbing the antique weapon from her. Mel and Maggie were holding near-identical objects, with the youngest clutching it so tightly, her knuckles had practically lost their color.
“Where did you get these?” He asked, keeping his voice low.
Mel tilted her head in Charity’s direction. “Your friend practically handed them to us. She said we have to kill Angela!”
“I thought she was coming to help, not give us a how-to on murder! Is this how they operate? Kill anyone who gets in their way?”
“Certainly not.” The response was automatic, born from years of servitude, but Harry winced when Mel’s face fell, her eyes shifting between hurt and anger. The need to comfort her flared to life in his gut, but Harry tampered it down, fearing the Elder’s reaction.
He cleared his throat. “They are the governing body of witches, and if they say killing the creature is the only way, it’s the only way. Elder’s don’t make mistakes.”
“It’s not a creature, it’s Angela.” Mel arched an eyebrow, daring the Whitelighter to correct her. “And why can’t we just get it out of her?”
“I mean, we got that demon out of Brian,” Maggie chimed in, almost timidly.
Harry sighed. Where Mel was headstrong, Maggie had a sort of child-like innocence to her. It made it all the harder to shoot her idea down, but before he could, Macy squeezed his hand.
The clicking of heels drew his attention. Charity’s figure suddenly drew closer. Panicked, Harry ripped his hand away from Macy, fingers fumbling to straighten his tie and smooth back his hair.
The Elder’s eyes were instantly on him, sharp and calculating. She tilted her head, nodding. “Whitelighter.”
“Good day, Elder Callahan. Glad you arrived safely.”
She then spun on her heel, addressing the Charmed Ones. With her eyes off him, Harry felt his shoulders relax.
“Ladies. I’ve placed a containment spell over the Harbinger. While it holds, its touch won’t be lethal. However, it will fade by tonight’s full moon. That’s when you three must perform the killing before it becomes too powerful to stop,” Charity explained.
Macy shifted, rocking back and forth on her feet. She didn’t want to kill Angela, but standing so close to the Harbinger, even with the seal, brought back terrifying memories.
She wanted nothing to do with the demon. She wanted it far, far away from her, locked away where it could never escape.
… but what about Angela. Angela Wu, the human girl who’d been possessed after falling into a coma. She was innocent. And wasn't it the Charmed One’s job to save the innocent?
A pain blossomed to life behind her eyelids and, without thinking, Macy reached out for Harry’s hand, but to her surprise, he moved away, shifting the dagger between his fingers.
Frowning, Macy tried again, and again, the Whitelighter evaded her touch, eyes focused on the Elder, who was currently sizing Mel up. “Something wrong?” Charity asked.
“S-something wrong?” Mel almost choked. “Our friend has been possessed by a demon in our attic for two days, and you just waltz in here, out of nowhere, and announce that we’re supposed to kill her instead of saving her? What kind of backward bull-”
Macy almost jumped when Harry pushed himself between her sister and Charity. “Mel, one defers to an Elder. Think of her as royalty.”
Mel shifted her glare from Charity to the Whitelighter and poked him in the chest. “Do not reveal your monarchist side to me right now, Harry. I was just starting to like you.”
The shock of Mel’s declaration aside (seems I’ve been making progress I was not aware of), Harry had to keep the Charmed Ones from saying anything they’d regret (or anything the High Council would see as treason).
Charity placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s alright. I understand.” Her nails sunk into his clothes, leaving indents.
Harry swallowed thickly, his insides a jumbled mess. The moment I start babbling like an imbecile, shoot me . He mentally begged the god above.
“It’s a shock,” Charity started, “but this is a critical time. There was another Elder assassination. That’s why I came alone. Security protocol.”
Images of Tessa and her soft words from last week floated back, reminding Harry how dire their situation was.
“An Elder was killed?” Macy asked, shocked.
“Yes. The third once since your mother.”
Mel held up a hand. “Wait. Our mother was an Elder?” Her voice rose with disbelief.
Maggie gapped, glancing between Charity and Harry. “Harry, you didn’t tell us our mother was an Elder!”
Startled out of his thoughts, Harry blinked, mind foggy. He recovered quickly and responded with a tight tone. “I most certainly did, during my opening speech, when I told you three you were witches.”
“... n-no. No, wait. I distinctly remember you used the term “senior” witches,” Macy added, her finger tapping her chin, brows pinched in concentration.
Had this been under different circumstances, Harry wouldn't have found the gesture endearing. But right now, he found Macy’s need to always have the facts straight hazardous to his well being.
“Which means exactly the same thing. I-”
His voice evaporated, locked away while his lips moved. Once he realized what had happened, Harry stopped, sealing his lips and crossing his arms, a mix of humiliation and annoyance brewing in his belly.
I should have seen this coming.
“Did- did you just mute him?” Macy asked, amazed. Maggie giggled from behind her, lips pulled up in glee.
Winking, Charity lifted the spell.
Harry dusted down his suit. “That’s one of her powers,” he muttered, “among many, many others.”
“Okay, well, then why can’t you handle this? Aren't guys, like, all-powerful and stuff.” Maggie shrugged, brows furrowed.
“Well, I would if I could. But the ritual requires the Power of Three, and only the Charmed Ones, that’s you, have that. Trust me, this is new territory for us, too.” The Elder finished with a winning smile.
Mel hummed, leaning forward slowly, hands resting somewhat stiffly at her sides.
Oh no. Harry knew that look.
“...so, you knew our mother?”
“Oh, very well.” Charity nodded, her fingers moving to cover her heart. “She was a dear friend.”
“Then you should know she would never let Angela die. Angela was someone she was trying to save,” Mel shot. “Isn't there some other way? Like, I dunno, an exorcism? A spell? A chant? Anything?”
“An exorcism is only effective if there’s a soul to be saved. And I don’t know of any spells or chants powerful enough to contain the Harbinger. I’m sorry, but with a demon this powerful possessing her, I’m afraid Angela is gone.”
“We can’t just give up on her.”
It was hard to hear Mel beg. Macy shivered, wrapping her arms around herself. Maggie sunk back, watching the demon from behind a curtain of hair.
“I’m sorry,” Charity repeated, “I know it’s hard, I do. But by the end of tonight’s full moon, the Harbinger will reach full strength. Which means no chains can hold it.”
As if on cue, Harry took over. “And as you know from our training sessions, at that point the Harbinger summons the Source with a deluge of blood.”
Macy felt her eyes suddenly widen. “Oh! Oh no. Oh no, no, no. Guys, it’s homecoming weekend. Every hotel in town is booked with people. People filled with blood!”
She didn’t mean to sound so frantic, but her mind was practically racing with images of deserted streets and dead bodies.
Maggie winced. “Jeez, Mac. Dark much?”
“But true.” So many people, so many bodies left for… and she doubted the demon would stop with Hilltown. It would travel, going from city to city, eradicating the human race little by little. Macy felt her fingers flex, slick with sweat. “If Angela’s already gone…” She trailed off, unable to actually say it.
Mel slumped, staring at her feet while Maggie bit the inside of her cheek, the dagger digging into her shaky palm.
Charity eyed up each girl before nodding. “It’s settled then. I’ll prepare things here. We commence at sundown. Oh, and before I forget, Mel, keep an eye on that detective. She and her partner were certainly curious. We cannot have them sniffing around.”
With Charity left to her own devices, Harry took the time to assess his charges. They all descended the stairs in silence, shoulders barring the sudden weight of something they weren’t ready for mentally.
Harry was hoping to get them started on low-level demons before progressing to... this.
Maggie’s possessed boyfriend was easy. A simple spell and he bloke was good as new. Professor Thaine, while more of a challenge, wasn’t a possessed innocent. Not-Marisol was… painful, but only memory-wise.
This was different.
Mel disappeared into her room without a word, locking the door behind her. Maggie sighed, looping her arms around her. “I think I need a minute too.” She gestured to her own room. “That okay?”
“Of course,” Macy said, quickly putting a hand on the youngest’s arms. “Take your time.”
And then, there were two. Harry chanced a glance over his shoulder, making sure the attic door remained shut, before closing the distance between himself and his oldest charge. “And how are you holding up?”
Her chest expanded. “Conflicted. Scared. Unsure. Take your pick.”
“I’m scared, Harry. I-I can’t kill someone. I just can’t. But then I think about all those people outside this house. If we don’t do this, the Harbinger could break free and, and, and…” Macy sunk her fingers into her hair, bottom lip trapped between her teeth. “I don’t know what to do. The rational side of me says we have to save the world, but the human side of me keeps reminding me of Angela. She’s an innocent, Harry. She was in a coma when the Harbinger possessed her. This isn't her fault. I-”
“Macy. Calm down.” Harry took her wrists and squeezed, effectively cutting her rambling short. “I understand your concerns. I do. This… I wish there was another way.”
“I don’t think Mel can do it to Angela.”
He hummed. Yes, there was no doubt in his mind Mel would put up the biggest fight.
Chapter 21: The Plan
“We can’t do it. We can’t kill Angela,” Mel said, her strides confident as she made her way through the campus grounds, followed by her sisters.
“But you heard witch-Olivia-Pope. What if there’s no way to save her?” Macy gripped her shoulder bag strap. “We can’t just let civilians die.”
“I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, if there's a way to save her, we should find it.”
Maggie shook her head, hair bouncing. “I shouldn't have to make decisions like this, I can’t even pass World Lit.” Her hands fluttered around.
Macy sighed. “Look, I don’t want to… I want to save Angela too. But if she’s gone… and it comes down to the people of the world…”
“No. I’m not buying it.” Mel puffed her chest out. “There has to be another way. Maybe we can prove that Angela’s still in there.”
“What, you think Charity’s wrong?” Maggie asked, stunned.
“I think she’s too confident that she’s right. And mom would want us to be sure.”
“Well, don’t be expecting me to touch it and read its throughs.”
Mel fixed the youngest with a look, one Maggie matched with wide eyes. “You saw what you did to that rat,” she reminded. “Mace, back me up here.”
“She’s right, Mel,” Macy softly added. “That thing will fry her.”
“I mean like a spell or something.” Mel shrugged, thinking something over before stopping so abruptly, Maggie almost slammed tripped. “I’m gonna head home and check the Book of Shadows.”
“Wait, wait, no. You’re supposed to be keeping an eye on Niko. Making sure she’s not suspicious.” Maggie’s hands fluttered again, waving wildly. Macy dunked, avoiding the youngest’s manicured nails.
“It can wait.” And with that, Mel started back for the manor, her figure growing smaller and smaller as the remaining Charmed Ones watched.
Maggie looked up at Macy, who shrugged helplessly.
She knew she should be paying extra close attention to her professor and the lecture he was giving, but the words just didn’t register with her.
Maggie slumped in her seat, eyes moving to focus on the presentation and the images flitted across it. At least those looked somewhat eye-catching.
You know, in a creepy kinda way.
She thumbed the pages of her open book, smiling when Lucy, who sat a few rows in front, waved, poking Parker’s shoulder. He turned and gave her a little salute.
Maggie had to keep her cheeks from reddening. Why are all the cute ones always taken?
“That’s it for today,” the Professor announced. “We’ll see you on Friday for the midterm; closed book. Eight essay questions carefully engineered so I’ll know if you read SparkNotes.” A few students laughed. “And don’t forget: it’s 50% of your grade. Alright, everyone, have a good rest of the day.”
Maggie groaned. Half of her grade was riding on the book she was only halfway through. Perfect. Standing, she made a move to leave with the flow of her classmates but stopped when Lucy called out to her.
“Maggie! Hey, Maggie!” The blonde raced up the stairs, red lips pulled up at the corners. “Maggie! How have I never seen you in class before?”
“Oh, um, I usually sit in the back, kind of slept through a few…” Maggie admitted, clutching the thick book to her chest.
“I’m lucky; I only need four hours of sleep a night. I’m one of those people.”
While her Kappa president talked, the youngest Charmed One felt her gaze slip, looking over to where Parker stood, talking to a fellow classmate. He was nice with a sort of bad-boy look to him. Exactly my type.
“Do you want to walk over together?”
Maggie blinked. “Huh? What?”
Lucy leaned in, her voice lowering. “We’re putting the final touches on the homecoming float.”
The… oh no! The homecoming float. Maggie suddenly had the urge to slap her forehead. “Oh, my God. I’m so sorry, Luce, but I can’t make it. Look, I- I’m on the verge of flunking this class, so I have to ace the midterm, but I’m only, like, halfway through the book.”
“Well, honey, why didn’t you say so?” Lucy waved her hand. “Don’t worry; Parker can help-- Parker!”
Maggie winced. Lucy had no filter and found nothing wrong with shouting over a bunch of people to get her boyfriend’s attention. It worked too because Parker waved to his friend and came over.
Why is the world against me? Maggie gulped, feeling her stomach flip when her eyes met his.
“My bae is not only a literary genius,” Lucy gushed, locking her arm with her boyfriend’s. “He also read Dante in middle school. Mmhm.”
Parker shrugged. “It’s nothing. My dad liked to assign us a classic piece of literature to discuss at dinner. And yes, before you ask, it’s as fun as it sounds.”
“O-oh. Heh.” Maggie withered. “Ya.”
Lucy rubbed Parker’s arm, her fingers teasing the cloth. “Babe, can you help Maggie ace the midterm for me? I can’t have my favorite pledge bring down our house GPA.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Perfect. Then it’s decided.”
It all happened so fast, Maggie hardly had time to wrap her mind around it. She shifted her book, plastering on a thankful smile. Internally, however, she was a mess, trying to keep her imagination from running wild.
Just gotta ace the midterm. Ace the midterm and you’ll be fine. Don’t think about Parker. The minterm.
Macy placed the dead mouse’s DNA into a slide and slipped it under the high-tech, lab issued microscope. If Mel was going to try and find a loophole, Macy might as well try and better understand the Harbinger's powers and how it works.
Donned in protective gear, the young scientist started the inspection, watching as bright green and yellow particles swished around. They moved like water, before morphing, losing their yellow glow.
“Oh, my gosh!” Macy leaned back, lips parted.
Behind her, Galvin got up from his unit. “Something wrong?” He asked, walking over.
Panicked, having forgotten she wasn’t alone, Macy quickly draped a file over the dead mouse’s body. She scrambled to get up, the microscope hidden behind her. “Just thinking.”
Galvin arched an eyebrow. “About…?”
“Oh, you know. Utilitarianism.” She nodded, like her answer was perfectly normal, before picking something off her desk and walking off.
Her co-worker snorted, his worry fading away as he followed. “You do know daydreaming is supposed to be fun, right? Like, oh. Here’s one I’ve had. Getting trapped in Drake’s body and buying something totally ridiculous.”
Macy giggled. “I admit, that’s pretty funny.”
“You were seriously sitting over there, thinking about utilitarianism?” He smirked, pointing a thumb at her desk.
“Well, ya. M-my sisters and I like to do breakfast trivia.” Macy was about to deflect again when she thought of something. This could be the perfect opportunity to get some outside perspective. “Question. If you had to choose to kill one person, or, say, all of Hilltowne would almost certainly die, would you do it?”
“Nope.” He smiled when his co-worker tilted her head, confused. “You said “almost certainly,” so, if there’s a chance, then I’m gonna find another way.”
He said it with so much confidence that it took Macy a moment to process everything. “But- but we’re scientists. If, statistically, the risk of saving this one could kill thousands-”
Galvin shook his head. “I know it would make sense rationally, but it would feel so wrong. I don’t think I could kill someone. For any reason.”
Macy chewed her bottom lip, fingers fumbling. “No, no of course it would feel wrong.” Her chest constricted. “But, we’re scientists. It’s our job to make judgments based on facts, not emotions, right?”
“I dunno. Who’s to say emotions aren’t just as valuable?” When Macy refused to untangle her hands, he decided to elaborate. “Mace, just because we’re scientists, it doesn't mean we’re heartless or cold. You love your sisters, right?”
“Of course I do.”
“See, that, my friend, is emotion. And it’s important. Or, at least I think it is.” He offered her one last smile before leaving, going back to his work station.
Mel wasn't sure this was the right way to go about her plan, but screw it. If Charity wasn’t going to try and save Angela, then the Charmed Ones would.
Thankfully, Maggie was done with class for the day, so Mel had no qualms with pulling the youngest out of a group study session.
“Mel!” Maggie hissed, “what are you doing? I have a big test that I need to ace. And you’re the one who's always telling me--”
“Ya, I know, I know, but this is urgent. Where’s Macy’s lab?”
“Down the hall. Why?”
Mel pulled her sister along, throwing the door open, ignoring the strange looks she got from the workers in lab coats. Macy blinked, eyeing her two Veras like they had arms growing from their hips.
Maggie awkwardly waved. “Hey, sis.”
“What-” Macy pushed them both out, closing the door behind her. “What are you guys doing? You can’t just go barging into the lab like that. We work with dangerous chemicals and-”
“Tell us some other time,” Mel cut off. “We gotta go, now.”
“Go? Go where? I’m in the middle of work.”
Persistent, and not about to back down, Mel swung the lab door open, making sure it made enough noise to draw attention (again). “Hey, I’m stealing Miss. Vaughn for the afternoon. Family emergency.”
Not giving anyone time to question her, she took Macy by the elbow and was off, her steps echoing loudly.
It was only when they got off-campus, rounding on her car, that Mel decided to start explaining things. “Okay, we don’t have much time.”
“What happened? Is everything okay?” Maggie asked, inspecting the car, yelping when it jumped.
“I dunno, I’m just going on instinct.”
When she finally let her sisters go, they each took a step back from the moving car. Maggie grabbed for Macy, who nearly lost her footing. “Please tell me that’s not Harvey in the trunk.”
“It’s not Harvey in the trunk.”
Maggie slowly inched forward and Macy had no choice but to follow, seeing as the youngest refused to let her hand go. When both of them peered into the trunk, they saw a human-sized box, the lid nailed shut, with something banging on it from the inside.
“Mel!” Maggie snapped.
Macy felt like fainting. “Y-you kidnapped the Harbinger?”
“It’s not the Harbinger, it’s Angela Wu. I did a soul spell and she’s still in there. And when I told Charity, she couldn't care less.” Mel crossed her arms, in an 'I-told-you-so' manner.
“She's still in there?” Macy muttered, glancing over her shoulder. Galvin’s words came back, mixing in with her own hesitation. Knowing that Angela was continuous, her soul untainted by the demon’s possession… and if there was a way to save everyone… shouldn’t they take it?
Emotions are important too. If it were my sister’s, I’d want to save them.
Gripping Maggie’s hand, Macy made her decision. “I hope you have a plan, Mel.”
“I hope it’s better than driving a super lethal demon around in our hatchback,” Maggie muttered, cautiously eyeing the car.
“I literally left five minutes ago, I didn’t have time to come up with anything better than this.”
“Oh, man. What I wouldn't give to be studying right now.”
Macy patted the youngest’s arm while Mel dug around for the car keys. “Look, I have the Book of Shadows. We’ll find an exorcism spell and get this thing out of Angela before it’s too powerful to stop us.
“Ya, but I think we’re forgetting something here,” Macy interjected. When eyes fell on her, quietly waiting, she sighed. “We need to find a place to keep it. Somewhere far away from people. Somewhere it can’t hurt anyone.”
“Oh.” Maggie snapped her fingers. “I so know a place.”
“Good, it’s settled then,” Mel smirked, but it slid off half a second later. “Oh no. No, no, no, no, no.”
“Mel?” Macy touched her arm, worried. “Are you okay?” She jumped when the middle Vera grabbed her hand and pulled her down into a kneeling position.
Maggie mimicked them, frantically looking around. “What it is? What’s happening?”
“Don’t look now, but I think Trip is following us.”
“What are we gonna do?”
“I can freeze time, remember?” Mel wiggled her fingers. “We’ll just drive away and he won’t notice.”
Macy frowned. “But won’t that look like our car just vanished into thin air? Won’t that make us look more suspicious?” And that’s the last thing they needed.
Maggie groaned. “I’m gonna fail my stupid Lit exam, I just know it.”
“Well, what other choice do we have? Get caught and let Angela die?” Mel glanced up, making sure Trip was still there, and shooed the two into the car. “Get inside! I’m doing it.”
“This is a bad idea,” Macy moaned, scrambling to get her body in without standing up.
“I second that!” The youngest snapped, tumbling in.
After escaping one half of the detective team, Macy exhaled slowly, letting her body relax. Next to her, Maggie slumped, head resting on her shoulder.
“So, what were you doing all day?”
Maggie pointed at her lab coat. Mel, from what Macy could see in the rearview mirror, rolled her eyes.
“Oh, right. I was analyzing the dead rat’s DNA.”
Mel arched an eyebrow. “I thought you believed Charity.”
“I figured something like this would happen.” Macy nudged Maggie, who grinned. “So I planned ahead. I put the DNA under the microscope and found that what killed the rat is similar, in structure, to smallpox.”
“That doesn't sound so bad,” Maggie muttered.
Macy winced. “Um, I wasn’t done. It’s more lethal because it kills instantly. It’s not airborne yet, but it could be soon. And if we fail, and the Harbinger gets loose, it’s a walking pandemic.”
“... oh. Ya, that’s worse.”
Mel gripped the steering wheel tighter. “Don’t worry. We’ll save Angela and trap the demon before it gets to that.”
The Harbinger fought against its restraints, pulling at them, growling, screaming, making as much noise as possible.
Maggie kept pacing, eyeing the demon every now and then, chewing on her thumbnail while Mel and Macy looked through the Book of Shadows, but so far, they found nothing.
“How big is this book?” Macy asked, quickly glancing over random spells and potions.
“There are a dozen exorcism spells in here,” Mel lamented, trying to read two at a time.
“Find one that won’t hurt the Kappa float,” Maggie called over her shoulder, refusing to take her eye off the Harbinger. “Lucy’s sure it’s gonna win.”
Macy took that into consideration, shoulders falling when yet another page held nothing useful. “This is taking too long.”
“You’re right. Book of Shadows, show me an exorcism spell strong enough to take down the Harbinger.”
And just like that, the pages started turning on their own, increasing in speed the closer it got to the end.
Macy arched an eyebrow. “And you didn’t do this in the beginning because…?”
Mel ignored her.
When the book finally stopped, it was set on two blank pages, crisp with the edges worn down.
“It’s blank.” Mel frowned, turning to Macy, who was equally as confused. “What’s that mean?”
“I- I have no idea.”
Her chest tightened and her palms grew sweaty again. Did that mean this was hopeless after all?
Thankfully, she didn’t have to dwell on that too long, because Harry orbed into the warehouse, his sudden appearance scarring Mel and Maggie. Macy gasped, relief filling her stomach.
When he found out his girls stole the Harbinger and ran off, he feared the High Council would rain fire down on them. While he was happy to see the three unharmed, standing around in a warehouse, with the Harbinger shackled to one of the floats, it was quickly replaced with fear.
“Girls.” His voice was low and daunting. “What the hell are you doing.”
Mel stood defiant, her back straight, shoulders stiff, chin up. Maggie was less so, shrinking back from his hard glare. Unlike the two Veras, Macy had a small smile tugging at her lips.
He felt his headache intensify.
“Angela is still in there,” Mel spoke up. “I cast a spell and I saw her.”
What? Angela was alive? Harry swallowed thickly. “You did?” He turned to Maggie, who nodded, and Macy, who tilted her head towards the book. “But the…”
The Harbinger rattled, and Harry looked over at it, brows furrowed. Tapping into the timelines, he watched as they meshed around the demon’s head, fluctuating. It seemed hopeless, but if what Mel said was true.
He closed the distance between himself and his charges, putting his hands on Mel’s shoulders. “Are you sure?”
“I saw her, Harry. Charity was wrong and we can’t kill Angela. Not now.”
Those big, brown eyes practically sunk him. Her voice softened, losing its hard edge, and Harry was overcome by the determination swimming within this young woman. She was sure of herself, backed up by both Maggie and Macy.
And what sort of Whiteligher would he be if he abandoned them now?
“The full moon is rising and soon the containment spell will wear off. I suggest we do something before then.”
His declaration had the headstrong Vera wilt under his touch, but she quickly composed herself and pointed to the book. “We’re stuck.
That’s not a good start. Harry inspected the pages over her shoulder, Maggie and Macy coming closer so that they could all watch.
For what felt like a millennium, all four of them just stared, hoping the book would reveal something. No such luck.
“It had to have flipped there for a reason,” Mel thought out loud. “Maybe it’s invisible magic ink?”
“No. No, I don’t think so.” Harry tapped his chin, mind working quickly. The book was passed down from generation to generation, filled with handwritten notes by those it protected. So it only stood to reason…
“Girls, put your hands on the page.”
Mel arched an eyebrow. “How is that going to help?”
“Just trust me.”
With no other options, no other ideas, the three pressed their fingers to the page, all at once, and just as he predicted, the blank surface started to glow, revealing golden letters.
Maggie gasped, eyes wide. “That’s mom’s handwriting!”
“All of our names are on it,” Macy whispered, eyes misting over.
“It’s in Spanish.” Mel traced the writing.
Harry nodded, watching as the images sprouted to the next page. “It looks like a Santer-based spell. Unsanctioned by the Elders.”
“She wrote it for us, but why?” Mel looked to her sisters for answers, but they had none. Thankfully, Harry did. He smirked, slowly taking the warehouse in. Finally, it was starting to look familiar.
“It was so you three would find it.” Undeterred by the sudden spotlight, he pressed his palm to the book, letting the warmth sink into his bones. His mind went back, pictures of Marisol forming. “She knew this moment would come. Her power was prophecy. It only stood to reason she’d do this.”
He took his hand away, and with it, Marisol’s image vanished. “Ladies, it’s fated you three should unite in this mission.”
Maggie giggled. “Harry, you’re disobeying the Elders?”
“Not all of them.” He winked at Mel, who beamed.
“Mom,” she breathed, and from where he stood, Harry could see the way her chest filled with passion.
The youngest whipped at her eyes. Macy chewed her bottom lip, pushing away a few stray hairs.
“So, what are you waiting for?” Harry folded his hands behind his back. “It’s time to save Angela Wu.”
After sending Macy and Mel away to the labs, Harry watched as his youngest charge ventured out to get rid of whoever it was parking outside the building.
He paced around, eyeing the text, occasionally listening to the Harbinger struggle against its chains. The demon didn’t scare him, he’d encountered far worse, so when it started growling, shouting obscenities, Harry waved his hand, sending a pulse of energy at it. The Harbinger winced, shaking its head.
“Oh, do pipe down.”
“I will eliminate all who stand in my way!”
“Yes, so I’ve heard.”
The backdoor creaked open, the youngest emerging, arms wrapped around her like a vice. Harry frowned, she seemed tenser now, her skin tight and legs moving stiffly. “Maggie, are you alright?”
“Ya, ya I’m fine.”
“You should know, lying to one's Whitelgither is never a good idea.”
Maggie sighed, rubbing her arms. “It’s nothing, I… I’m just thinking about Angela. Must be horrible, trapped like that.” She gestured to the hunched over demon. “I can’t imagine it.”
She’s terrified. Harry felt his gut stir. He knew all three sisters harbored a vast level of fear towards the Harbinger, but Maggie was completely petrified, frozen in place, her mind a whirlwind of ‘what-if’ scenarios.
Earlier, she’d been fine- er, no, not fine, but alright. Like Mel and Macy, Maggie was confident enough to be around the Harbinger.
So what changed?
… oh. Harry, you’ve been quite thick.
Carefully, the Whitelighter held his hand out, palm up. “Maggie, may I tell you something?”
Maggie shrugged, shifting on her heels. “Okay.” She took his hand, her small fingers sliding against his. “Wait, is this another lecture, because no offense Har, I’m not in the mood.”
He suppressed a chuckle. “No, nothing of the sort. I wish to give you some insight, if I may.” With a gentle tug, he pulled the young witch closer, positing them so that his body hid Maggie from the chained beast.
Up close, Harry could make out her worry lines and the ever-present crease of her brows. “This will be different for you,” he started, voice soft and somber. No use in sugar-coating it. “Unlike your sisters, Maggie, you possess the gift of the mind. And seeing as your abilities are vastly untested, there is no telling how deep you’ll see into the Harbinder’s thoughts.”
Maggie shivered. “Gee, thanks for that, Har. Like I didn’t have enough to worry about.”
He ignored her tone. “A demon of its caliber holds dark memories. Death, pain, sorrow, blood. It will all flood you at once, so be prepared.”
“... Harry, if this is supposed to be a pep-talk, it’s not helping.” His charge swallowed thickly, her skin ice-cold and void of its natural color.
“I’m not trying to scare you, Maggie. I want you to be as prepared as you can be.” He rubbed her hand in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. “With all that said, after, I will help clear your head of the Harbinder’s presence.”
That caught her attention. Maggie’s head shot up, eyes big and hopeful. “Wait, what? You- you can do that?”
“Of course. As soon as the demon is secure in the paint can, I will rid you of it.”
Maggie exhaled slowly, gripping his hand. “Will it hurt?” She asked, voice small. Harry shook his head, smiling. “I assure you, it is painless-” He was cut off, the air shoved out of his lungs, when his charge pushed forward, burying her face in his chest.
Harry stumbled, caught off guard by the brisk hug. “Maggie?”
“You can really do that?” She asked, words muffled by his suit.
Slowly, Harry lowered his outstretched arms, patting the young woman’s shoulder. “You have my word.”
“Thank you, Harry. I… you don’t understand how scared I am! I want to get that thing out of Mel’s friend, I do, but I really don’t wanna read it’s nasty mind.”
It was a shame, subjecting someone so young and inexperienced to this sort of thing, but it was the only way. Harry held his charge close, wanting to suddenly hide her from all the evil in the world.
Behind them, the Harbinger howled, and the distinct sound of chains breaking caught Harry’s ear. Thinking fast, he shoved Maggie away, pushing a fob watch into her cold hands. “Summon Elder Callahan,” he shouted, “and stay back.”
Maggie fumbled with the watch, nails scraping to get it open.
Harry held his hand out, his insides clinking with the activation of his powers. The Harbinger blinked, moving away when it saw a golden shimmer leak out from under Harry’s nails, but before he could do anything, a portal opened and Charity stepped through, capturing the demon with lavender leash.
“Time’s up,” she hissed. “Witches.”
Macy and Mel came rushing when they heard Charity’s voice mixing with the Harbinger's screams. They stopped when they reached Maggie, who stood behind Harry, rooted in place.
Charity shoved the leash at Harry with more force than necessary, conveying her disapproval. Harry winced, taking the cold object, keeping the demon at bay. Suppose it’s safe to say, Callahan is not amused.
“We have to hurry, once the full moon rises, the Harbinger will be unstoppable.” The Elder tried handing the Charmed Ones the dagger’s from earlier, but the sisters shook their heads, rejecting the metal weapons.
Harry motioned to the Book of Shadows. “Marisol saw this coming. She left this spell for them.”
“Let me see that.” Charity walked over, hand on the page, eyes quickly scanning the cursive text. “She had the power of prophecy, but her predictions didn’t always come true. You of all people know that. We can’t risk it.”
Harry frowned. “It will work.”
“You don’t know that.”
“No, but I trust Marisol, as well as her daughters.” He made sure to look his superior in the eye, trying to establish a connection. Charity faltered, weight the dagger in her right hand with the page pressed into her left index finger.
“You don’t have to trust us,” Mel chimed in, gripping the gloves from Macy’s lab. “You knew our mother well; trust her.”
Something must have clicked because the Elder ripped her hand away from the Book. “Hurry up, before I change my mind.”
The demon sat, strapped to the parade float, held on either side, arms and legs restrained with thick chains. Harry stood opposite Charity, struggling to keep the demon from breaking free.
The Charmed Ones approached it cautiously, safely gloves covering their skin, Maggie leading the charge with purpose. She recited the complex spell perfectly, faltering only at the beginning when the Harbinger lunged forward, it’s mouth open unnaturally wide.
Then Macy spoke her part, hand outstretched, palm connecting with the demon’s chest, Harry felt his heart squeeze. The sensation intensified when Mel touched it, and Maggie, who dove right in when the spell had a hard time reaching Angela.
“I heard her!” Maggie shouted over the swirling wind. “I heard Angela!”
Mel and Macy quickly rushed forward, taking Maggie’s hand, their thoughts culminating in the youngest’s head.
It took time, longer than Harry was comfortable with, but eventually, Angela’s skin started cracking through the demon’s shell, until it took over.
The exhilaration was short-lived when Trip held up a gun, having snuck in through the back. “Angela!” He pointed the weapon at everyone around her. “Hands in the air!”
Charity rolled her eyes, muttering something under her breath, and held up her hand, disintegrating the gun. She reached for the paint can and quickly trapped the retreating Harbinger, smirking when the lid clicked shut.
Angela slumped forward, the faux-exorcism too much for her to handle. Mel caught her, holding her securely. Macy crouched on her left, inspecting the fallen innocent.
Harry, after determining both Mel and Macy were unharmed and in control of the situation, he made a beeline for the youngest, who spun her hair around her wrists, tugging at the strands.
“Oh, Maggie.” He gently pulled her hands free of her hair and erased the lines from her forehead. “I’m so proud of you.”
She beamed, despite the pain building up behind her eyes. “You are?”
“Yes,” Harry affirmed, his touch moving to her temples. “You were so brave. The spitting image of Marisol.”
“M-mom? I was… like mom?”
Her shaky tone grated at him, and the feeling of protection came flooding back. “Just like her.” He had to keep her talking, keep her relaxed while he dove into her head. If the events caught up to her, adrenaline giving way to fear and stress, her mind would be more difficult to sort out.
“Brave. Strong. Exceptional.”
Just as he predicted, remnants of the Harbinger floated in and out of Maggie’s head, coating her essence in dark ink. He worked on eradicating it, pushing the demon as far away as possible. The raw edges of her mind, he helped heal, smoothing them out as much as was allowed.
He took a step back, examining his work, before dubbing it complete. Easing out of Maggie’s head, Harry tapped her temple, letting her know the job was done. “Okay?”
His charge nodded. “Ya… I can’t feel it anymore.” She smiled, grateful. “I didn’t know you guys could do that.”
“It’s nothing special.” Harry waved the thought away. “Comes standard with all us Whitelighters-” He paused, feeling something shift. His chest constricted, his ears burning.
“Um, guys?” Macy’s voice brought everyone’s attention to the far corner of the warehouse. Maggie frowned, tugging on Harry’s hand. The two of them followed Mel.
Dread built up, capturing everyone when they realized what had happened. During their scuffle with the Harbinger, a pipe broke loose and fell, landing on Trip, breaking his neck. The man lay motionless on the ground, his walkie-talkie inches from his outstretched hand.
Maggie gasped, hands flying to cover her eyes. Mel shook, dropping to her knees. “Trip,” she sobbed, “Oh god, he’s not breathing!”
Harry eyed the body, watching as the detective’s lifeline faded. The man had passed away moments ago.
Doing as they were. Trying to save Angela.
By Mel’s reaction, Trip had been a good person, someone she must have liked well enough.
Charity walked over briskly, taking the crying Vera by the shoulders. “The police will be here any minute. You have to go.”
Mel shook her head, clawing to grab the dead man’s wrist. “No, no. Trip, he’s dead. He’s dead.”
“Mel, I’ll handle it.” Charity pushed her up and towards the others. Mel shakily stood, eyes never leaving Trip’s body.
Harry exhaled slowly, moving to pick up Angela. A tragedy, when one life is saved, but another lost. His charges were all rattled; Maggie hugged herself, warding off the chills, Macy hid behind her hair, fighting back tears, Mel just looked lost, her chest expanding quickly.
Harry waited in the kitchen, letting the girls catch up with their long lost friend, a cup of horrid tea in hand. There were many things he had to do before the week was up. A mental calendar appeared in his mind's eye, the boxes filling with agendas.
He blinked, vision clearing. Before him stood the three Charmed Ones. “For pity’s sake, you’d think with such frequent visits from an Englishman, you could at least stock your pantry with tea that isn't absolute rubbish.”
Maggie giggled. Mel rolled her eyes.
Harry lifted his cup. “But also, congratulations, ladies. You did it.”
Macy shrugged bashfully, pushing a curl behind her ear.
“Angela’s asleep,” Mel informed, looking around. “Where's Charity?”
“She left with the sacred vessel. The paint can.” Harry brushed himself clean, standing. “She’ll store it somewhere safe.” Never to be seen again, I hope.
Maggie gleaned, rocking back and forth, hands behind her back. She innocently eyed him.
Harry grimaced. Dear lord, he knew that look.
“Sooo, what’s the deal with you and that Elder? Kinda sounds like you two have a past.”
And there it was, the question he’d been anticipating since Callahan’s arrival. “I was born in 1920, so yes, I have a past, one that is none of your business.” He groaned when the Vera sisters exchanged private looks.
“Anyhow, despite Callahan's assistance, the Elders will be displeased we disobeyed their orders. Even though we know now they were wrong, they're still the governing body, and there’ll be consequences… but that’s tomorrow’s problem,” he amended, not wanting to burden the girls anymore.
They had a long, grueling day. Rest was in order.
He moved to set the teacup away when Mel called his name. “Yes, Melanie.”
His charge played with her fingers, lips turned up. “Congratulations to you, too. You were rad tonight.”
Her approval felt nice. He offered her his thanks and picked up his coat. “It’s getting to be that time.” He held out his arm. Macy nodded, hugging her sisters before wrapping her hand around his elbow.
In a flash, they were gone, reappearing in their shared flat. “Quite a day,” Harry offered. Macy nodded, leaning on him. “Ya…”
Silently, under the darkness of the living room, Harry let his coat fall, wrapping his arm around his charge. “We’re alone now.”
He felt Macy’s head bob up and down, her hair weak from the day’s events. She snapped her hands around his waist, holding tight, face hidden in his chest.
Deceased animals were one thing. Macy stopped crying over them a long time ago, but today was the first time she saw someone die. It was made worse knowing the death could have been avoided.
Harry rubbed her back, smoothing out the wrinkles of her shirt.
Chapter 22: Unpredicted Shift
Macy gets wind of how Charity handled Trip's death.
Macy was just about to slip her lab coat on and get to work analyzing the newly imported samples from the neighboring College when the hushed voices of two of her co-workers reached her ears.
“Did you hear what happened?” One girl hissed, her hand cupped around her lips.
“What?” Another asked, head ducked.
“It’s about those Halloween murders. They’re saying it was a detective who did it.”
Macy blinked, her tongue suddenly feeling heavy. Leaning on her heels, she tried to inch closer, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear.
One of the scientists dramatically waved her hands. “And not just that, they’re saying he killed himself after.”
“Oh my gosh,” the other gasped. “You’re kidding!”
Macy didn’t stick around to hear the end of their conversation. She dashed out of the lab, her coat billowing out around her legs.
She flew through the halls, maneuvering around students who gave her weird looks and ducked under teachers carrying thick textbooks, until she reached Harry’s office, throwing the door open haphazardly.
The Whitelighter jumped, the papers he was holding falling to the floor. He sighed, rubbing the area between his eyes. “Macy, to what do I owe the pleasure.”
The young scientist felt her cheeks heat up. “Sorry.”
“No, no, it’s alright.” He bent down, gathered up the papers, and set them on his desk. He gestured to the open seat, and once Macy was comfortable, he positioned himself behind his desk. “So…?”
Macy chewed her bottom lip, wondering how she should start. “What did Charity do with Trip’s death?”
Harry blinked. “And why would that be of any concern to you?”
“I mean, I heard rumors…”
“Rumors? Oh, come now, dear.”
“Hear me out,” Macy countered, and the tone of her voice had Harry swallowing his retort. When he sat back and nodded, Macy continued. “I heard two of my co-workers talking about how the Halloween murders -the one the Harbinger committed- were done by a detective. A detective who committed suicide.”
Harry paled, his gut filling with dread. “Oh, dear.” He should have known Charity’s definition of ‘take care’ would be different from his. “I see.”
“Harry, what are we going to do?” Macy panicked, fumbling with her fingers. “We saw what happened. Trip was killed. He didn’t have anything to do with those murders.”
“What indeed.” He exhaled slowly. “I will have to arrange a formal meeting with Elder Callahan.”
“Can I come?”
Harry nearly fell out of his seat. Come with him? No. He couldn't allow that. His charge was wholly unprepared for the Above. Let alone an audience with an Elder.
“Macy, that’s impossible.”
"There are procedures. Rules." He tried to reason, only with everything he was holding back, his argument came off as very weak.
Macy arched an eyebrow. "Are, are you lying to me?"
"You do this thing when you're not being all that open."
Harry sputtered. "I do not."
"Yes, you do." Macy reached across the oak desk, the pad of her pointer finger smoothing over the tense skin of his wrist. "You're finger's twitch. And your brow." Macy tilted her head. "It creases like crazy."
Harry frowned, eyeing their connected hands, before cautiously reaching for his forehead. "Suppose I never noticed," he muttered.
A smile stretched across his charge's lips. "Good thing you have me around. And while we're on the topic of you not being so open, there's another reason why I wanna come with you."
"Oh?" The dread in his belly grew tenfold.
"Last time when Charity was here, you acted weird."
Harry mentally cursed himself but remained silent.
He wanted to push it all away. Do the same thing he'd done when Maggie asked about his past, but somehow, this seemed different.
He jolted when he felt Macy squeeze his wrist and those big brown eyes, blown wide and so full of questions, bore a hole through him. Harry sighed and flipped his hand, lacing their fingers.
"Please understand, I don't wish to divulge everything, nor do I want your sisters to know." Harry paused, waiting for Macy to agree, before continuing. "Elder Callahan and I have a history. One that is looked down upon by others of high rank."
He waited for his implication to sink in. Macy gasped, her lips parting. "Oh"
"I mean, is it over between you two?"
Harry suppressed a dry chuckle. "Long over."
"May I continue?"
"Um, ya. Yes, please."
Here comes the troublesome part. Harry mentally prepared himself. "To help illustrate, think of the Elders as the Boss and the Whitelighters as the workers. So it's quite the process to set up a private assembly with your... for lack of a better term, ex."
Macy hummed softly. She knew there was something weird going on between Charity and her Whitelighter. "And," she pressed, leaning in.
Harry faltered, suddenly avoiding eye contact. He shifted his gaze to the large windows, then to the bookshelves, before landing on the corner mirror.
"Harry. Talk to me. There's something more."
"Macy," Harry deflected. "You don't need to know."
In hindsight, maybe she should have dropped it, but something within her wanted to push. She squeezed his hand, drawing Harry's attention back to her. "She bothers you."
"She makes you uncomfortable."
Macy bit her lip. "Do you really want to go alone to that Elder meeting?"
Harry groaned, using his free hand to wipe at his forehead. That was all the confirmation Macy needed. "Right. I'm coming with you."
Harry shook his head. "No. That's--"
"I can't let you go alone," she argued, tugging on his hand. "And you can't talk me out of it."
His bones suddenly felt stone heavy. Harry shifted, fighting off the exhaustion setting in behind his eyes.
"Is there no talking you out of this?" He asked.
Macy shook her head, shoulders set. "Nope."
He sighed. "Right."
Too tired to argue, and while a small part of him felt relief knowing Macy would be by his side during this whole ordeal, a large part of him felt panicked.
"The Elder's are very regal beings," he began, "and they demand the highest respect. If you truly wish to accompany me, we will have to prepare you."