Initially, Macy had believed that the death of the darklighter would release her from her night terrors, that she was now finally free to rest. But if she had been honest with herself she would’ve known that Jimmy was the least of her nocturnal problems. A good night’s sleep had never been her forte. Even as a nervous, somewhat high-strung child she’d had issues which had only progressed into full blown insomnia in her adulthood, exasperated by college, internships and her demanding job. At any given 3am instead of being in bed she could just as easily be found having a bubblebath, cooking, studying or even out on a midnight run, depending on what current life-events were weighing heavily on her mind.
But the past few weeks had been exhausting in more ways than one, and all Macy truly wanted was a full eight hours of blissful nothingness. She felt she deserved that much.
However, as the great philosophers would say, you can’t always get what you want. Yes, she did sleep, but while the spectre of Jimmy no longer loomed in the shadows of her mind she unfortunately now found herself back to her regularly scheduled programming; strange, unpleasant dreams that she didn’t like to think too heavily on in the waking world.
At first, Macy found herself walking through a graveyard. While she did not recognise it the thought that she had to find a particular grave keep her at a brisk pace, looking each and every headstone over as she searched for someone … and in the next heartbeat she knew who she was looking for. Her parents. Her father, her mother, they were buried together now. But as hard as she searched, she couldn’t find them. But they had to be here, weren’t they? She thought they were, it had been her responsibility to burry them after all and she had made sure that they were together, together in death in a way they could never been in life because of her … because of her resurrection.
Suddenly she froze, her eyes fixed on a small, dark stone, the words Macy Vaughn, 1989, Infant weathered and faded almost to the point of illegibility, the stonework cracked. Of course she couldn’t find her parents, they weren’t there. They never brought her back, never separated, never came to visit the grave of their stillborn daughter. They had just gone on without her, with a new family and a new life and she was left here, left behind to rot.
I know how you feel.
“Harry?” she called out instinctively. She turned, searching the graveyard for a sign of where that voice had come from - was it a voice? Or a memory? Out the corner of her eye a shadow moved, disappearing behind some distant trees. As she made to follow whatever it was Macy realised that she wasn’t actually in a graveyard at all, but in a thick, dark forest. The ancient limbs of the gnarled and aged trees hung heavily over her as she tried to find her way in an increasingly darkened woods. Ahead, the shadow again flickered and disappeared.
“Where hast thou been, sister?”
Macy turned to see Maggie and Mel standing around a cauldron, illuminated by a roaring fire underneath and by whatever substance glowed and bubbled within. The two women looked nothing like themselves, clothed in long, off-white dresses with flowers and wreaths spun through their hair and strange stones and symbols hanging around their necks. Mel was slowly stirring the contents while Maggie methodically picked apart a rose, dropping the petals into the brew.
“What are you doing out here?” asked Macy.
Without looking up from her mangled flower, Maggie answered. “Going old school. Where fair is foul and foul is fair.”
“With our magic gone, this is all I can do,” muttered Mel. “Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
“Well, can I help …?” began Macy, but as soon as she started moving towards the pair Mel threw out an arm to stop her.
“No, don’t! You’ll ruin it!”
“Not witch-y enough for some,” crooned a voice from behind her and Macy turned to see Abigail leaning against a nearby tree, twirling the salt dagger between her fingers, watching the scene with an almost bored expression. Her shirt was hanging off her shoulder and Macy found herself swallowing hard at the way the firelight danced against her skin. “They don’t want a demon destroying all their hard work.”
“That’s not true,” Macy said, shaking her head, her heart beating a painful tattoo as a familiar doubt started to creep at the edges of her mind. She turned back to her sisters who were still focused on the brew. “Maggie? Mel? You don’t believe that, do you?”
“I don’t think I believe in much of anything anymore,” said Maggie offhandedly, stripping the rose of its last petal and twirling the thorny stem between her now bloodied fingers. Beside her Mel finally looked up, looked Macy right in the eye, and began to mutter.
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
Abigail started to laugh, low and cruel, but as Macy spun around tell her to shut up she saw not the half-demon witch, but another flicker of that shadow in the distance. Only this time, she knew exactly who it was.
“Harry? Harry, what are you doing? Wait for me, please!”
She began to run, that painful, slow paced gait that could only be found in dreams. Behind her the nasty laughter and glow faded away as she found herself outside the manor, now hidden away in the forest rather than an empty building site. With incredible effort she managed to run up the stairs and burst through the door, tumbling into the house that was light and bright as sunshine flooded through the windows. Music drifted in softly from a few rooms away … “Dream a little dream of me …”
And standing in the foyer was Harry.
“Macy, where have you been?” he asked. He was dressed in what Macy thought of as his ‘professor outfit’, immaculate, buttoned up, closed off. “We were supposed to begin training half an hour ago.”
“I’ve been calling you,” panted Macy.
“Well, I haven’t heard anything,” he said, but when his eyes darted away from hers and his arms went behind his back, she knew he was lying.
“Yes, you did!” she said, suddenly angry. “Why have you been avoiding me?”
“I think we’ll begin on the chapter about banshees. Never know when one might —”
“Harry!” Macy closed the distance between them to grab at his shoulders, almost shaking him, yet still he refused to look at her. “Harry, why do you keep doing this? Why? We can’t go back to a year ago, so why do you keep trying?”
“Because he has no idea how to move forward.”
Macy froze and looked over towards the living room, over to where Jimmy was casually leaning against the doorframe watching both of them, that sardonic little smile twisting his lips.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she snarled.
“He’s here because you invited him,” said Harry softly, moving out of her grip.
“I …? What, I — no, I’d never …!”
“Yes, you did,” said Jimmy, coming closer, extending his hand. “After all, we never got to finish our dance.”
“Don’t touch me,” spat Macy, moving back.
“Macy, there’s no need to be rude,” Harry admonished mildly. Macy spun to face him, stunned.
“What are you on his side now?”
Harry smiled, sweet and sad. Macy was beginning to hate that smile. She’d seen it after he told them his memories had been stolen from him, she’d seen it after Tartarus, after Fiona had him, after he’d woken up in his grave, after he’d taken the poison from her. His ‘I’ll be fine’ smile. He wasn’t. She hated it.
When he spoke it was gentle and calculated, as if he were explaining something so very simple. “There is no ‘side’, Macy. I can see it now and so can you. I wasn’t split, I was hollowed out. A shell designed to become whatever was needed of it. He’s real. You can feel it, can’t you?”
Macy could feel tears starting to sting at her eyes, but whether they were from sorrow or anger, she couldn’t tell. “But I don’t want him, I want you.”
He just looked at her. “Then why haven’t you called for me?”
“But I have! I have, so many times! How have you not heard?” He frowned as if he couldn’t understand her distress and she felt hot tears start to slide down her cheeks. Suddenly everything that she’d never say in her waking hours started tumbling out. “Are you not listening? Are you ignoring me? Avoiding me? I enter a room and you leave it, I go downstairs and you go up and I don’t … I don’t …” But he was just staring at her, staring right through her. Anger started to melt into fear. “Do you even see me? I don’t understand. You fight so hard, all the time, for everyone else. Why won’t you fight for this? Harry, why won’t you fight for me?”
But he was gone. And so was Jimmy. She didn’t know when it happened, or how, all she knew was that she was alone. Again. The light started to bleed away, replaced by a thick, inky darkness that slithered its way under the door and dripping in through the window sills. Macy backed away, certain that if any part of that darkness touched her she would die.
“Harry!” she cried out. The darkness was surrounding her on all sides. “Harry, come back, please! Harry!”
The very edge touched her foot.
And she woke up, suffocated by her own blankets.
Gasping and scrambling she managed to kick off the covers, laying there for a moment in sweat-soaked nightclothes as she waited for her heart to stop beating so fast. It was just a dream, just a dream, she repeated over and over to herself, but was it?
Without warning her mind unleashed a flood of memories of all the times she desperately needed Harry, yet he hadn’t answered; attacked by Charity, sick from the assassin’s dart, trapped in a false manor … she knew that none of that was his fault but … and more recent ones, of how he would sit as far away from her at Safe Space as possible, how he always seemed to go on missions with Maggie or Mel, never her anymore, how there would still be a hot breakfast waiting for her in the morning but the chef would’ve somehow managed to leave just before she came downstairs … and suddenly her deepest fears of abandonment reached up to strangle her.
She sat bolt upright. “Harry?” she called, her voice raspy with sleep. “Harry!”
Her heart began to thunder again as she tried a third time, unable to keep the desperation out of her voice. “Harry, please —!”
There was the familiar crackle and her dishevelled whitelighter was standing just beside her bed.
“Macy! Is everything alright?”
As soon as she saw him she breathed a massive sigh of relief … and began to feel sheepish. As the murkiness of sleep faded away she started to regret her impulsive decision to call out from him. He and Mel were currently in far reaches of Nova Scotia where they had been assisting a small group of witches for the weekend as they conducted a yearly ritual that was specific to their coven. Macy had known that, had known that they’d be away and busy, yet had completely disregarded it in the aftershock of her nightmare.
So now, she was just embarrassed.
“I … uh, yes. Everything’s fine.”
He looked at her through narrowed eyes. “You didn’t sound fine.”
“No, I just …” she sighed and looked away before the rest came out in a rush. “I had a bad dream.”
“A bad dream?” he echoed tensely.
“Oh, no, not one of … those.” Jimmy’s unspoken name hung heavily between them. “Just a normal awful dream. Really, it’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing, Macy,” said Harry seriously, using the same tone he always did when instructing her to relax and breathe. “Considering what you’ve endured these past few weeks it’s not surprising that it’s effected you in this way.”
Macy shrugged. “Not really. I’ve always been a pretty rotten sleeper. My dreams tend to be … vivd.” It was then that she really took in his appearance. He was wearing his old-fashioned pyjamas and his hair was sticking out every which way. “Wait, were you asleep?”
“Well, yes,” he said as if it was obvious.
“And my call woke you up?”
“It does that?” she said, surprised yet somehow comforted, even if this was something else about Harry she’d never really considered.
“Well, I’d be a pretty poor Whitelighter if I slept through my charge’s calls, wouldn’t I?” he said smiling softly. “But don’t change the subject.” She felt the bed dip as he finally sat down next to her, close but not touching. “Do you want to tell me about it?”
“I … I don’t remember the details.”
“Macy …” he drew out her name in that familiar way. “You know you can talk to me.”
There was a beat. “Can I?” she asked, almost too softly to hear. “It’s just, ever since New York …” She turned away, her eyes fixed on the bedspread, a single finger drawing out an unknowable pattern, but she still felt the way Harry stiffened beside her and when she looked up he had turned away. She felt her stomach twist at how like the dream it was. “You’ve always been upfront with me about everything, always told the truth, so tell me Harry … have you been avoiding me?”
Unlike the dream, however, this Harry immediately turned back to look her in the eye. “I’ve been … trying to give you your space,” he answered carefully. “I thought with everything, this face might not be one you’d comfortable with seeing.”
Macy smiled even as a small pang shot through her heart. “Well, that is so sweet and considerate, but completely unnecessary because it didn’t make me feel …” She took a deep breath. “In my dream, you weren’t answering my calls and when I found you, you kept trying to push me away.”
Harry was good at hiding his distress, but not good enough to hide it from her. “Believe me, that was never my intention,” he said hoarsely.
“I know, but …” But that’s not it. I don’t need a degree in psychology to know what those dreams mean. What they represent. What I want. What I shouldn’t want because we decided to pretend it never happened and if I’d never seen your thoughts I would never have known and even now you don’t seem like you … did I miss it? Did I miss us? But she couldn’t give any of that voice. Only in her dreams.
So instead she just sighed, lightly placed a hand on his knee and simply said, “I’ve miss you.”
Harry stilled completely under her touch before he hesitantly reached out to hold her hand, sliding his palm against hers. “I’m sorry I gave you cause for concern,” he whispered, his thumb lightly brushing against her knuckles. “And I’ve missed you, too.”
“I’m sorry I woke you,” she said, trying to ignore the shivers that were running across her skin.
He smiled his small ‘I’ll be fine’ smile — Macy felt her hair prick at the back of her neck — and said, “It’s never a problem. And now I’m here, I may have a cure for your restless slumber.”
“Oh, I was going to get up, actually,” said Macy, glancing at the bedside clock. Ten-past-three, her usual hour. However, Harry was already shaking his head.
“No, you’re already exhausted, but I think I can remember a tonic that does wonders for the —”
“A tonic? Like your hair-of-the-dog tonic?”
“No,” she said flatly already moving to get up, but Harry released her hand to place his on her shoulders, keeping her there. She shot him a challenging look and he dropped them.
“How about this,” he said. “You go back to sleep and I’ll stay, and wake you if I sense any distress. Would that be suitable?”
Macy was stunned. Everyone in her life had known of her bad sleeping habits. No-one had ever offered to stay awake to help her with it. “Um …” she shook her head a little to clear it of whatever she was feeling, that she shouldn’t be feeling because it was just his job … “Don’t you have that ritual tomorrow?”
“Well, today actually, but not for a few more hours,” he shrugged. “Macy, if I was here … do you think that could help?”
He was tentative, keeping himself firmly behind the line in the sand they had drawn so many months ago and suddenly Macy found herself just wanting to throw her arms around him to keep him there by her side no matter what …
She swallowed. “It couldn’t hurt.”
At first he had wanted to sit at the end of her bed, honourable and distance, but after Macy explained that as someone who was incredibly used to sleeping alone, if she woke to see a strange form sitting, watching her, she was very likely to kick the ever living shit out of it, Harry quickly agreed to find another solution. So after a few awkward moments that were made somewhat more awkward by how hard they were trying not to be awkward, they finally settled on laying side-by-side, Harry on top of the blankets.
“I move a lot in my sleep,” warned Macy.
“I’ll do my best to avoid any flailing limbs,” said Harry, deeply serious.
They lay still and silent for a few moments, both hyper aware of each other’s presence. After a bit Macy sighed.
“Well, this is weird.”
“Should I leave?” asked Harry quietly.
“No,” she said quickly. “I just … I don’t know … can you just talk or something?”
“It’s just too weird you laying there, waiting for me to go to sleep,” Macy shrugged under the blankets. “I’m focusing on your breathing for some reason.”
There was a pause. “What … should I talk about?”
“Um … tell me about the ritual you’ll be doing tommo— today.”
“Alright …” agreed Harry, although he sounded doubtful. “Well, the story of the Seven Sisters is one that can be found in many incarnations across the globe, and in Nova Scotia there is this coven — as you know — which had combined multiple tellings into a sort of prototype …”
Initially, Macy was wide awake and listening closely, asking questions and offering her own thoughts. But as Harry continued she felt herself become heavier and heavier, his voice becoming more distance as she started loosing track of what he was saying. The last thought that crossed her mind before wonderful oblivion took her was, He was right. I really am tired.
But a lifetime of bad sleeping habits can’t be broken in one night. She wasn’t sure exactly how much time had passed but knew that it hadn’t been too long before she again awoke, R.E.M. sleep hard for her to reach at the best of times. However, in that short amount of time things had definitely changed. She must’ve rolled over in her sleep because now instead of begin firmly sealed under a pile of blankets, they were pooled around her waist as her entire body had shifted to curl up against something much harder.
She was curled up against Harry’s side, her hand on his chest just above his heart, her head tucked underneath his chin. She came back to wakefulness slowly, half aware of where she was but unable and unwilling to move from such a comfortable position, made all the more comfortable by a gentle hand stroking her hair, another resting carefully against her hand on his chest.
Instead of stiffly moving away or trying to keep her to her own side of the bed, Harry had welcomed her into his arms and was now cradling her as if she were the most precious thing in the world. And, most remarkably, he was still speaking. No, not speaking. Singing.
His voice was low, raspy, more of a whisper than a song and in her sleep hazed state Macy could not place tune at all, but it was comforting and sweet and without much thought to the whole situation Macy allowed herself once more to be pulled down into calming nothingness.
And she didn’t dream at all.
The next morning she found herself awake at the shocking hour of ten.
Alone and half convinced her visit from her whitelighter had just been another strange dream, if it wasn’t for the smell of him on her sheets and an unplaceable tune that was drifting through her mind.