After it was all over, Marie realized that the guy who turned out to be the real Dean Winchester had told her all that stuff that had happened to them, and she hadn't believed him, and she couldn't remember half of what he'd said now. If only Maeve had been with them right then! Maeve remembered everything. Marie needed repetition to get lines exactly right. And if she'd realized it was so important she would at least have been listening!
She did remember him saying "Dean became a demon." What the hell was up with that? And "Sam hit a dog"? What, literally?
They tried to tell her who they were. Oh, poor wonderful Sam! He looked her in the eye and told her his name... and she laughed in his face. And Maeve told them they were old.
Marie had found her first Supernatural book at a flea market. She'd been in a manga phase and was cruising for that, though she'd only had a couple of dollars to spend. This was the big market they only had every couple of months and it was worth going even if you had spent almost your whole allowance on that Lord of the Rings game that you hardly ever played.
Most of the manga had been dull shonen stuff, and the only good thing she saw that day was something she already had. She'd been turning away when her eye slid over what she first assumed was a romance novel. It was out of place in the seller's collection, so she paused and looked again. A car, and two dudes. A gay romance novel.
And the Fabio looking dude. Hah. She should buy it and show it to Maeve.
Marie had drifted closer and closer to it, picked it up, turned it over and read the back of the dustjacket.
Along a lonely California highway, a mysterious Woman in White lures men to their deaths… a terrifying phenomenon that may be Sam and Dean's first clue to their father's whereabouts.
Oh, they were brothers? Marie had turned the book over and looked at the cover again. Still looked like a gay romance novel. Possibly because of Fabio.
Huh. Reluctantly intrigued now, she'd looked up at the seller. "How much?"
She'd had to borrow another dollar and fifty cents from her mom, but she went home with that book.
And she loved it. She'd read it all in one go, got to the end, sat breathing hard, and then turned back to page 1 and read it again.
She hadn't even known there were other books at first. The one she owned was the first one, and didn't say anything about others to come at the end. When she did get the others, they all had a blurb at the beginning, ALSO BY CARVER EDLUND, and the list varied in size depending on which book it was.
The Scarecrow one, when she finally saw it, had scared the crap out of her. She could hardly read it - but by then she just couldn't leave it alone. She had to find out what happened to Sam and Dean. She'd taken the dustjacket off and hid it so she could read the book, and it still gave her nightmares.
But then suddenly Marie had all the books, and there didn't seem to be any more. Or any more coming. But the story wasn't finished! There had to be so much more. She even sent a letter to the publisher, Flying Wiccan Press, but it had been returned. They'd gone out of business.
It wasn't till later that she'd found the online community. She was into musical theater by then and she only stumbled across a mention of the Supernatural books by accident. Someone had made a sarcastic remark challenging anyone to make the impossible musical… using all the books including "Swan Song."
What? What the hell was "Swan Song"?
That was how she'd found out. There were more books. Carver Edlund had written more books but they hadn't been published. Other people had read them. Other people were reading them! How could she get them??
Maeve had helped her with that. They'd been friends since two summers before, when Maeve had moved into her building. It wasn't just that they both went to the same private school, they were kindred spirits. Marie dreamed the dreams, and Maeve worked out how to make them happen.
The comment online, Maeve had pointed out, suggested the content was online. And so it was. Marie longed to have real hardcovers to go with the ones she had, but they had never been printed. There wasn't even any cover art. There was only the text.
But as soon as Marie had read one paragraph, she was sure. This was the real thing. This wasn't like the Oz books where she got titles she had never heard of through the interlibrary loan, only to find out they had been written by someone other than L. Frank Baum. They were Oz books - but they weren't real.
These weren't real physical books, but they were real Supernatural.
She had shut herself up in her room for three days when she was supposed to be studying for finals. She read them all one after the other and then, just as she did with the first book, she went back and read them all again.
And every time, she'd cried when they came back from Heaven and Dean threw the amulet away.
It had made Marie want to plunge her hands into the book (not a real book but the book in her mind, it had no dustjacket) and grab up Dean by the front of his shirt and shake him hard! You shouldn't have done it. You shouldn't have thrown it away.
It had been that, more than anything, that made her determined to do it. To stage the impossible musical.
The day after it was all over, Marie had to come to grips with the fact that the world she lived in was no longer the same as it was before the show.
Now she knew.
Now she knew it was all real. Was that why she'd been so fascinated by it?
She looked at the row of books on her shelf, the familiar titles kept in meticulous order. She looked at her Kindle, with all of the unpublished books loaded on it.
But she knew what was in all of those. She knew them inside out.
What she didn't know was what had happened to them since "Swan Song." Except what Dean had tried to tell her. What else did he say? She tried to concentrate.
"Maeve. I need you to hypnotize me."
Maeve gave her that Look that meant she was being Over the Top.
But in the end, they had a page of Maeve's notebook with the following in neat script.
Sam came back from Hell. But without a soul. Then, Cas brought in a bunch of Leviathans from Purgatory. They lost Bobby. And then, Cas and Dean got stuck in Purgatory. Sam hit a dog. They met a prophet named Kevin, they lost him too. Then Sam endured a series of trials, in an attempt to close the gates of Hell. Which nearly cost him his life. Then Dean? Dean became a demon. Knight of Hell, actually.
They'd had a little argument about whether that last was 'night' or 'knight', but Maeve's relentless logic won in the end.
"What the hell are Leviathans?"
Marie also couldn't believe that her Sam would ever, ever hit a dog. That was just crazy. And… Sam without a soul?
"He must have gotten it back," Maeve pointed out. And Marie had to agree. The Sam they met (and she will kick herself forever for not realizing it really was him) had been sweet. Just like he was supposed to be.
"And Dean was so not a demon."
"Not anymore," Maeve said.
"Since when can they cure demons?"
Back to the internet. On one of the forums Marie liked best, there was a power user named QueenOfMoons, who suddenly sent a message.
So have you found the rest of the books yet?
And a link.
Then they found out what Leviathans were. Marie took the old Scarecrow book down from the shelf and laughed at the cover. She'd never be scared of that again.
And Sam without a soul. There was a whole book where he was like that from beginning to end, the one with the fairies. He was scary. And he was also funny - funnier than Dean - because he didn't care about feelings.
He got his soul back in the next book, which was both a relief and a horror - oh, what he endured. Marie had wondered, when they were still just books to her, what Carver Edlund had against his main characters, but now she wondered what God had against them.
"Speaking of God," Maeve said. "Still wish Castiel could have shown up." She had a thing for wings.
Marie eyed her sternly. "Oh my God, focus."
Still, she would have loved to see him too. Kristen did such a good job, Marie knew that, but validation was nice.
"Glad Crowley didn't show up."
Maeve laughed, "He'd probably be pissed you didn't put him in the play."
"I would have. There just wasn't anybody to play him." Except for herself, of course, and she was already understudy for Sam. Oh no, she would have loved to write a showstopper of a song for Crowley, something funny and awful like "Dentist" from Little Shop, only with more pathos. I deserve to be (breath, high note from Frozen) Loved! Awesome. She should still write it.
Of course, she didn't write the songs all by herself. Most of the lyrics were Marie's, but the music was Maeve's and, in a few of the songs, Siobhan's, who was really good when she cared about the material, but when she was half-assed, boy was she half-assed. Marie had had to cut the Ash song out completely. Sorry Ash. But that had freed up Alice to play John.
They lost Bobby. That hurt to know. At least they did right by Bobby in the play, including him in the family for the 'Wayward Son' number. And it had been Maeve's excellent idea for him to get up from the chair like that.
Marie understood now that people didn't look down from Heaven watching over things on earth, no matter what they told her as a child. People in Heaven were each in their own little movie theater of the best times of their lives. But even if he couldn't possibly know about it, she still liked to think she'd done right by Bobby.
The books explained about the dog, and about Purgatory. But they didn't explain how Dean could ever have become a demon.
Of course, once you knew magic was real, you had to try it out for yourself, didn't you?
Marie and Maeve scoured old bookstores, and Marie tried to carefully cultivate her acquaintance with QueenOfMoons online. She'd already long since figured out for herself that there was a lot of bullshit mixed in with real lore, wherever it was found. And only an idiot would come right out and blurt, "I met them, I talked to them, they saw my play."
But there was something that made Marie think that the Queen, whoever she was (and if she was even a she), had also met Dean and Sam.
But it was a Harry Potter reference that changed everything.
What's Your Patronus?, asked the online quiz. Marie wouldn't be caught dead taking the quiz, but of course her Patronus would be something cool. She'd have said 'otter' but that would just be copying Hermione.
"I know what spell we should do," Maeve said one day, more excited than Marie had ever seen her. "Summon Spirit Animal!"
They lived in a no-pets building, and Maeve was allergic to cats, dogs, most animals. But a magical animal wouldn't violate anyone's lease or make anyone miserable with sneezing. It was a brilliant idea.
They tried to think ahead, and avoid being stupid in their enthusiasm.
"Suppose it can't just be banished whenever you want?"
"Then it can live in my brother's room." Maeve's big brother was away at college, and their mom kept it shut up and perfectly clean, like a shrine or something.
"Then let's do it," Marie decided. "You can summon your animal first and then maybe I'll try it later." She was really a little more interested in illusion spells. What a way to supplement your effects budget!
But they researched, took their time, practiced the Latin.
When they did it, it went right, and wrong.
Maeve had drawn a picture of what she had in mind. Not a cat, or a rabbit, but sort of a blend of the two, and awfully cute. When they first met, Marie had had a book of manga in her hand, and Maeve a sketchbook full of Sailor Moon. As Marie's mom said, it was a match made in Tokyo. So Maeve was good at drawing in general (not one of Marie's skills, even slightly) and at drawing anime and manga stuff in particular.
"And it'll be small," Maeve said, eyes bright, "so it can ride on my shoulder. I wonder if it'll be telepathic?"
She was more excited about this than anything to do with the Supernatural play. But back then, it had been Marie's turn to be excited and brimming over with too many ideas - too many to fit in one play, that was - and Maeve had been the calm one who helped sort out logistics. So this time, it was Marie's turn to do that. She paid for half of the ingredients they needed from her allowance and birthday money, she checked over the Latin and she even carefully consulted with QueenOfMoons - in a totally hypothetical way of course.
But it was all done right. And it should have worked the way they expected it to. But that was lesson number one about practical magic: You could expect a specific Patronus, but you were stuck with what showed up.
What showed up was a small, pink, adorable cat-rabbit just like Maeve drew. It had big eyes and two sets of ears. One pointy cat set, and a floppy set that seemed too long for it to be able to actually walk without tripping over them.
"Why pink?" she'd asked when Maeve showed her the picture. "It'd be cuter if it was white."
"Yeah, but it'd get dirty. Besides. I don't want it to look like Kyubey from Madoka. Then it would give me the creeps."
Marie hadn't seen that one, but hey - this was to be Maeve's magical pet. If she wanted pink, why not pink?
It was thrilling to see it appear, whatever it looked like. It was real magic, no doubt about that. A ball of scintillating light that bloomed out like a little pink firework. And then there it was. Real. Solid.
The problem was… Maeve couldn't see it. It meeped at her, but she couldn't hear it. Then it jumped into Marie's arms, making her shriek with surprise.
"Meep!" it said, and snuggled down against her chest in a way that would be really creepy if it weren't a cute animal.
"Oh my God no," said Marie, but it was done. The thing was hers.
Maeve thought at first that the spell hadn't worked at all. And when Marie tried to explain, Maeve burst into tears. Maeve, who never cried.
"You get everything!" she said to Marie. "You get to be the star of everything! And I have to be the sidekick! All I wanted was this one thing…!"
And just like that, Marie had no best friend.
School was a misery. The nights and weekends limped by with no one to talk to. Marie spent more and more time on the internet.
She didn't feel like she got everything. She didn't feel like the star of anything. And she didn't have a sidekick - except for the hateful little pink thing that nobody else could see. It followed her around and wouldn't go away.
"I banish you!"
"I wish the goblins would come and take you away right now!"
And so on. Nothing worked. The only person she had to talk to about things like this was Maeve. Maeve was the one who had always made things work. And lately it was hard to even prove Maeve existed, as she dropped out of the drama club and never crossed Marie's path in their building. There wasn't even any chance to run into her and plead for forgiveness, for help, for her friend back. I never thought you were a sidekick, I thought we were a team. The one time she tried to talk to her at lunch, Maeve saw her coming and ducked out of the fire exit.
Marie went home, threw herself down on the bed and cried.
Finally she got up, took a deep breath, and looked at her shelves. All of the published Supernatural books, and a handful of real lore books. In Marie's experience, it was best practice to hide things in plain sight, rather than try to lock them safely away from her mom's snooping.
And on the shelf above, colorful (though dusty) rows of manga books. All the stuff she was into before that day in the flea market. Revolutionary Girl Utena. Fushigi Yuugi. Fruits Basket. And of course, Sailor Moon.
She remembered Maeve's sketchbook and felt a fresh wave of grief. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the pink cat-rabbit thing sitting on her bed like a stuffed animal. She snatched it up.
"This is all your fault! Why didn't you go to Maeve? She's the one who wanted you, not me!"
"Meep…?" The stupid thing with its stupid eyes and the one stupid sound it made!
"WHAT DO YOU WANT!?" Marie shouted at it.
And it said,
"I want to grant your dearest wish!"
in a cute little voice, and then it smiled at her by scrunching up its eyes.
She dropped it, and screamed.