The end of the day comes sooner than I’d have liked. I’ve only been out of the dungeon cell merely hours and the last thing I want to do is sleep, but as I’m not allowed to move around the castle without a supervisor, I have no choice. I stayed for a while with Sophia and Curtis, hearing mostly about their most memorable battle moments and how they came to live here and be a part of the Malachi’s unit. They made it sound like such a huge honour for Sam to accept them, for him to accept anyone.
From what I understand by their detailed account of the past, Sophia met Curtis in Canada when he was only twelve and the two have been inseparable ever since. She was just a teenager herself but she mothered him and took care of him and tried to prepare him for the big, bad world of magic and wars. Curtis, however, had other ideas. Even though he trained in the same way a slayer does, he had no tolerance for fighting or hurting someone else. Considered to be the ‘smartest slayer alive’ by Sophia, she explained that she encouraged him to pursue science and experiments, which have led to some ground-breaking inventions that are held up here at the castle. No other unit would have tolerated or accepted Curtis’ lifestyle, but Sam did.
I just don’t get it. If Sam isn’t this horrible, cruel, obnoxious jerk, then why does he pretend to be? It’s obvious to me that if he can show compassion towards a slayer going against everything they believe in, then he’s capable of so much more. Maybe he’s already showed me that, maybe I’m living proof of everything he really is.
I try to convince myself of that as Sophia leaves me at his bedroom door. She knocks three times, opens it, and smiles at me.
“Good luck,” she says. “I’ll be here to collect you at dawn.”
She’s out of there before I have time to say anything. Sam’s door creaks as it swings slightly backwards, I put my hand out to it before it shuts. I step inside, slowly, cautiously, as though I’m entering a bear’s cave. It’s dark inside, not nearly enough lit up as the hallway, and I follow the hypnotising glow of the moon as it shines through an open balcony window.
The room is spacious, with a high closet, a double bed draped with regular white sheets and dark wooden totem poles that hold up a high, square topping. There is a fireplace against one wall, with a small, low coffee table and a chair in front of it, and there are several chest of drawers scattered around the perimeter. The floor is mainly lino, but it’s decorated with a soft and beautiful grey rug that spreads out from the bed to the fireplace. The lanterns are lit, but they’re dim, giving it a glossy and medieval perception that reminds me of every other room in the castle. Except, this one is different. It feels different. It feels as though a lot of effort went into making it look like this.
Sam appears through the balcony doors, and he stares at me.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” I say.
He doesn’t respond, but he walks over to his closet and brings out a pile of blankets along with a squashed and stained pillow. He hands it to me, forcing me to take it.
“Pick a spot on the floor,” he says.
I nod, twisting my head around. I choose a long space next to the fireplace, sniffing at the blankets before I lay them down. My nose crinkles. I wiggle myself on top of the blankets and I manage to pull one over me, I didn’t even notice Sam had gotten into bed until he speaks.
“Anything’s better than a dungeon floor, right?” I reply, patting down my new bedding.
“Right,” he says.
“You don’t have to enjoy this so much.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just a head’s up, I’m an extremely light sleeper, so if you try anything-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ll throw me back in the cell for five years,” I hiss. “Change the record already.”
Sam blows out the lanterns next to his bed and the entire room is plunged into darkness. Well, almost darkness. I stare at the moon through the balcony doors, it calls to me like it calls to every witch. It’s a never-ending song, a melody that sings the sweetest tune over and over. It’s so hard to ignore it, especially when you’re in trouble. I lay awake for so long looking at it and over-thinking everything that I’m certain Sam must be asleep by now.
I gamble with my life and I quietly get up, taking a step every minute. Sam doesn’t even stir; his eyes are closed and his breathing is hard and thorough. I reach the balcony a few minutes later, and I step out into the fresh air. I sit out on it with my back to the wall, looking out at the calm cornfields.
“Maybe I’m kidding myself thinking that you can hear me,” I whisper to the sky. “But if there’s a chance that you can, then I need you to know that I’m alright. I mean, nothing is alright, but I’m alright. They didn’t kill me, which is the first step. I’m just so tired, mum. I want this all to be over. I just want to go home. Home.” I bite on my lip and I turn my head away as I silently cry.
What is home exactly? The ruins of Arizona? The house where my mother is no longer there? I no longer have a coven, I no longer have a place with the wiccans, I’m an outcast and a liability. They’ll never trust a Harmon again after everything that’s come to light about us, they’ll never accept our involvement with the enemy. I can’t make this right.
I think about jumping from the balcony and making a run for it through the cornfields, but it’s not that simple anymore. This isn’t something I can run from, wherever I go it will catch up to me. Before the dark era and Amara, when things got frustrating or stressful, I would go out and hang with the mortals of the city. They made me happy, they made me see the fun side of life. I was just a kid but nothing brightened my day more than singing along to an amateur at a karaoke bar. Taking to the dance floor, letting some unsuspecting boy twirl me around it, forgetting for just a few hours that I was a witch with responsibilities to her coven. It made me wish I could be like them, carefree and normal; worrying about bills and school fees and career opportunities, not meeting up with my family for them to lecture me on how behind I was with spells. For them to increasingly drill into me that I had a greater purpose than love or fun.
I didn’t even want to go to the Summit that day. My mortal friends from school were at a pool party and they invited me to go. I would have been the only witch in history to ignore her Elder’s summoning and I wouldn’t have cared. But my mother forced me. Sometimes, I wonder if I had gone to the pool party and everything kicked off while I was there, would I have protected my mortal friends or would I have joined the wiccans terrorizing the city? If I hadn’t seen my mother killed and knew nothing of it, would I have trusted in my own gut or would I have been like every other witch in the city and followed Amara’s order?
I trust in my gut now because I’m older and wiser, but back then? I’m not sure. And that is how I look at today’s situation. All those young wiccans being forced to fight before they’re ready because they’re programmed to be loyal. I can’t change their minds, I can’t make them see how truly selfish and cruel Amara is, just like me, one day they’ll be older and they’ll see it for themselves.
By then it’ll be too late.
I head back inside; Sam still looks to be sleeping and I’m uncertain if he actually is or not. Watching him sleep is strange. He is calm, vulnerable and like a completely different person. He isn’t an intimidating giant, or a hot-headed warrior, he’s just like everyone else.
I lay back down inside the blankets and I close my eyes, drifting into the first real sleep I’ve had in a long time.