A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

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RP • Experiment with what would happen when your favorite Harry Potter characters and locations are mixed up with other settings and stories.
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 #34261  by Cailly
The lights flickered for the umpteenth time that evening. The hair on the back of Natalie's neck stood up on end – a bone-chilling shiver raced up the length of her spine. There was a draft somewhere on the second floor. A flickering, ephemeral breeze that only appeared when she was alone. Yet another reason for Charlie to call her overdramatic.

She lost count of the many times she had dragged him upstairs, pink-cheeked and frustrated, demanding he finds its source. How could they possibly sell the house if it wasn't adequately insulated? Especially in the cold, damp, and unforgiving County Galway suburb.

The floorboards creaked outside the bathroom. A vague shadow darkened the space beneath the door. "Occupied," Natalie drawled. She had never been of the most pleasant temperament, but the slew of affairs had left her more hostile than usual. Openly so, at least. Passive aggression only got her so far, and her dunderhead of a husband seemed utterly incapable of picking up on subtle nuances. Some situations called for outright hostility – which made the house feel far colder than any draft could.

Only a few more months, if they stayed on schedule. And they'd be able to part ways. Good old Charlie could occupy himself with whatever floozy stumbled into his lap in some bottom-of-the-barrel pub, and she wouldn't have to be a party to it. She could move on – finally. Possibly even find happiness again. Rekindle the passion she once had for life before their marriage snuffed out her spark. Or rather, his affair. Their marriage had been just fine before work got the best of them, and his eyes (and hands) took a sordid journey into someone else's bloomers.

She wasn't a saint, either. Vengeance had never tasted as sweet as it did when thoroughly enjoyed from beneath another man's sheets. It had started as one last final attempt at hurting him. But he was seemingly unfettered. Or maybe, he had just grown remarkably good at hiding his true feelings. Regardless, she had known that their relationship was over. There was no salvaging it or soothing those aches and pains. It felt like neither cared any longer. Having been in the flipping business for as long as she was, she had learned that sometimes things didn't work.

The shadow didn't move, despite her best attempts at shooing her husband away. "Charlie. I'll be a few more minutes," she snapped. The shadows remained. With a hideous sounding snarl, she wrenched the door open, fully prepared to hurl another battery of insults at him.

But there was no one there. No shadow. No creaking floorboards. Just a worsening chill that caused all the color to bleed from Natalie's face.
 #34317  by Vyreia
Charlie was downstairs; he'd decided not to follow Natalie and her silly little games. She wanted to yell at him!? She could go to him, dammit! But, by now, it was evident the arguments had been taking its toll on him. Dark circles harboured under his eyes, seemingly deepening the sockets and hollowing his face more than it already was. He had attempted to make himself still look presentable by shaving and neatening his hair - even if Natalie didn't care - it at least made him feel more alive than he currently felt. He didn't even want to sell this damn house. Natalie knew that, likely because he had made it abundantly clear.

But yet, it didn't matter how much he tried to regulate his appearance and moods, it was made almost impossible to sustain with all the sleepless nights. For a series of weeks now, he'd been having night terrors to the extent of waking up in a cold sweat, dreaming about gruesome details, imagining he was being touched or watched in his sleep. He'd toss and turn all night, pressing the pillows to his ears in the hopes to drown out the noise that rattled on. But how can you drown out what's only happening in your head? It wasn't like he had a switch turn it off! It irritated Natalie further, he was sure, how he would pass out on the sofa to try and catch up on some hours. He'd even fallen asleep in his food or mid-conversation. The doctor had recommended sleeping pills but, as a man of relatively good health, he felt it was more related to stress than a physical condition. He didn't want to think his wife, or soon-to-be ex-wife, had driven him to medication.

Taking a deep breath, he looked over to the alcohol cabinet, then to the clock, and then back to the cabinet. He wasn't even sure why he looked at the time anymore; he'd been tempted even in the morning just to try and quell the frustrations that coursed through him. It took only a few more seconds before he reached out, opened the cabinet, and pulled out some cheap whiskey to pour in his coffee. One shot, two shot, apparently three was the magic number. He always felt like Irish Coffees were counter-intuitive; were they supposed to wake you up or put you to sleep? At this point, Charlie didn't even know which he'd prefer. Both were a nightmare.

As he took his first sip, not caring how it scolded the tip of his tongue, he heard movement upstairs followed by Natalie's whinging voice. He rolled his eyes and made his way to the hallway, calling up the stairway. "What?" He called, furrowing his brows. She said she'd be a few more minutes? "Alright, I'll be down here when you wanna apologise! Can't wait to hear it." He goaded.
 #34321  by Cailly
Her eyes listlessly trailed over the landing. She searched the rich wooden floorboards and the perfectly crafted banister – for what, she didn't know. Perhaps a dark patch of stain, or rough grooves that could feasibly cast shadows. Feeble, fragile attempts at making sense of yet another of the house's damnable oddities.

Distantly, she acknowledged that Charlie had called back to her. He was goading her, drawing her into yet another argument. She remembered, not too long ago, when he would provoke her into affection. Tease her until she felt like there was no other choice but to assault his features with many little pecks. Until the temptation grew to be too much, and her arms would coil around his shoulders. They'd share one of their many heart-stopping kisses, and she'd quietly wonder how she was so lucky.

Her luck had turned; it had soured. So did their marriage.

She blinked owlishly, her fingers coiling around the railing as she made her slow descent. Her dark hair laid in sloppy, half-finished curls as she padded her way down the stairs. The house itself was madness, and its sickness was bleeding into the very marrow of her bones. She had never been pig-headed enough to believe she knew all the answers, but there had at least been a measure of sense to things. Not here. Not with Charlie.

Natalie didn't afford him a second look as she made her way into the kitchen. She helped herself to a cup of coffee, staring near dumbly ahead as she tried to find some reasonable explanation. "I thought I saw feet outside the bathroom door," she said, a bit too meekly to be perceived as conversational. "I'm sorry for yelling." It wasn't like her to apologize, though, in the past, she would offer it when she knew she was in the wrong.

She didn't know why she told him. Even more, she couldn't understand why such a little, inconsequential thing made her feel so... dirty. So scared.
 #34386  by Vyreia
Charlie watched her carefully as she padded down the stairs; a part of him wanted to take a moment to drink in the way she looked because even after all of the bitterness and resentment that resided within their relationship, she was still as beautiful as the day he met her. Perhaps that's why he loathed her more. He had, in is mind, hoped that her revenge deeds would transform her into a decrepit shell of what she once was. But unfortunately for him, she was still as breathtaking as always. Damn her.

He only barely managed to hold back from rolling his eyes as she skirted past him toward the kitchen. Did he put the whiskey back? She couldn't remember, but he was suddenly reminded of the amount he'd laced his coffee with when he took a swig. If he didn't already have hair on his chest, he certainly would after that! Though, it didn't stop him from taking a second swig as he laxly followed her toward the kitchen. He leaned against the door frame, averting his eyes from Natalie's back and instead looking at the 'picture he'd always hated' on the wall. He really did hate those edgy black and white 'mood' pictures that made no sense; apparently they were artistic, but what was so artistic about a pair or wellies, or a garden plant pot, or a field of cows. What was the point!? At least have something useful like a coat rack or something. He was even starting to think that Natalie didn't like the photographs either and she was just keeping them up in full view to spite him.

He physically could not stop himself from looking bored as she explained what she thought she saw. Great, anything to get out of trouble; he saw right through her! At least, he thought he did. However, when she began to apologise, his dark eyes snapped to her, thick brows furrowing as he grew more suspicious. An excuse and then an apology? Something was off - fishy - unnatural.

"Feet outside the bathroom, huh?" He mused, almost chuckling. He then lifted his mug as though offering a toast. "Well, Nat, I gotta say...this is the most creative excuse yet. Go on, I'd love to hear more. Were they long and scaly? Big black talons? Wearing a pair of designer heels?" He mocked, determined not to be reeled in by her antics or plea for sympathy.
 #34405  by Cailly
Charlie should know better.

Appearances meant nothing. Beautiful facades could hide hideous secrets. Natalie's insides had mutated – blackened, twisted, and grew gnarled until there was nothing left but thorns. Every breath hurt. Every stride felt like razor blades etching their sins into every cord and soft tissue of her body. Scored and butchered until there was nothing left of her. The woman he had, once upon a time, said he loved.

The same woman who had once loved him. Who still did? It was hard to discern where affection ended, and unadulterated hatred began.

She was not oblivious to his distaste for her chosen artwork. It had started as a joke somewhere in the far distant past. It had since turned into yet another passive-aggressive stance against him, a thinly veiled attempt at making their home more foreign and cold.

Their disdain had turned into nooses of their creation. Its hold tightened with every murmured insult and barbed comment. Natalie's husband's doubt robbed her of breath. It hadn't been unexpected, but it still hurt, nonetheless. Her eyes fell on the bottle of whiskey – a dark whisper shrowded her thoughts, urging her to fall into the same vice. Just a tipple to make him more tolerable. What was the harm? Her pour mirrored his from earlier. One-shot, two shot, three.

"Fuck you, Charlie," she hissed, downing a hefty gulp of the still too hot coffee. Her hand flew to her mouth, but pride forced her to swallow the scalding liquid. "I thought you were waiting for the bathroom. It was just a shadow." It was unclear whether she was saying it for his benefit or her own. "If it wore heels, I'd assume you'd have reached a new low and started traipsing your whores around our home. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me. That's probably an accurate depiction of how much respect you have for me."
 #34424  by Vyreia
"Oh cry me a mother-fucking river, Nat. Here we go again; nothing big or clever to say so you have to bring up the same old-same old to prove a point." He rolled his eyes, purposely making it as dramatic as possible so that she could see, perhaps even feel, his disdain for the entire situation. He leaned further onto the door frame, sipping more of his coffee, swallowing hard around it as he tried to ignore the burn on his throat.

It felt like so long ago that they had playful banter. He would pinch her hips playfully, tap her nose, flip her hair - he was actually rather annoying on many accounts. But she used to break eventually. She always did. It was almost like a ritual that whenever they had an argument, he would try to break the tension with a stupid joke, or purposely make himself look like a fool. But now, Charlie was haggard and worn. It was not only his eyes that were tired, but his soul was too. Perhaps it was of all the shout and yelling and cursing and scorning words, or perhaps it was simply from the entire ordeal itself. He wasn't entirely sure. But as time went by, he felt more like he was no longer the fun-loving, effervescent Charlie, and was now a monotonous Charles brought to life to be worked to death.

Now that she'd bitten back, an evil part of him, a side those around him rarely saw, wanted to use the opportunity to make her suffer for her words. How dare she try to play the victim; try to make him feel pity; try to make him feel guilty. He already did! He already said sorry! But clearly it wasn't enough to stop her from acting on her own accord. There was, maybe, a tiny shred - a glimmer - within him that didn't want to see her in pain or hurt directly from his words. It was likely the part of him that still longed for them to erase their entire bitter past and start fresh. Unfortunately, that minute seed that had sprouted was trodden on by one thick, heavy boot in favour of giving her Hell.

"You know, maybe if you had worn some sexy high heels every now and then, I wouldn't have scouted for any whores to begin with. Just a thought." He spoke scathingly in response, his tone condescending and his expression matching it. It faltered slightly as a slight chill ran up his spine...huh...weird. He'd always known this house was prone to drafts. Well, if they'd spent more money on upgrading the place instead of trying to revitalise their marriage with weekend trips away, they wouldn't have to worry about that! Although, it would maybe prevent the house he loved so much from being sold...
 #34430  by Cailly
Thunder boomed outside – the night time sky grew darker. Fitting, given their current mood. She might have found humor in it if her spirits were less black.

"Oh. I'm so fucking sorry that I dare to be upset about my husband sleeping around while we were still married! I didn't realize there was a cut-off point for how long I was allowed to be angry. I must have missed that day in 'how to never trust anyone ever again' school." Past tense. It hurt less if she talked about it like it had already come and gone. If she convinced herself that the shell of a man her husband had become wasn't an anchor tied around her ankles, dragging her deeper into the undertow.

It hurt less to believe their love was dead and buried. What killed her was hope. A fleeting, naive notion that if she just worked hard enough, if she just tried a bit harder, she could breathe new life into those unmoving lungs. Convincing herself that their marriage could come back, thrashing and gasping. And desperate. Perhaps even passionate – desperately seeking the fire they had ignited in each other all those years ago.

It was dead. It had to be.

His attempts at hurting her had worked. The silence spread on for a heartbeat too long. All recognition bled from her gaze as she watched him. "Maybe if the thought of you touching me didn't make my skin crawl, I would." The coffee cup slid across the counter, slopping its contents all over its surface as she raced toward the stairs. The air around the was oppressive – and so very cold. She didn't trust herself to stay there. Not even she could guess what else she might say or do if they kept bickering. Running had always been something she was good at – little did she know that the many hours spent sprinting around a track would become a metaphor for everything in her life.

The lights flickered again, far more violently than before. A loud crack shook the walls around them, and they plummeted into blackness. Scant light bled in from the windows, casting ominous gray shadows across the house. A large mass flickered in the corner — a trick of the light. Or was it? It seemed to move – a white, gnarled hand clawing out, reaching for Charlie. A rasped, shivering sound cut through the stillness – a whisper. Its words were indiscernible. Guttural. Or perhaps it was merely the thunder.

The house grew colder still, and an unfamiliar stench wafted through the walls. A sickly-sweet aroma that caused Natalie's stomach to turn and head to throb.

Something fell to the ground and rolled slowly down the stairs. Click, click, click.

She screamed as she toppled backward, slipping down the stairs. She collided with the wall of the landing with a sickening sounding crunch. Her head swam, and she saw stars. Something warm and damp trickled down the back of her neck, tracing a languid path along the length of her spine.
 #34435  by Vyreia
Charlie pursed his lips as Natalie shot her insults back. Well, he had certainly achieved his goal and upset her further than she already was. He perhaps could have had her in the palm of his hands had he played his cards right; she had already apologised for yelling! He was in, he could have wormed his way into making it at least a little more pleasant than this. But then, what would that really have gained? Would he have been doing it simply to feel some kind of affection? To build up the marriage? To have closure? Or even just to keep the house? None of the options actually felt like the right thing to do; they all seemed to result in a conclusion of selfishness. But was that really worse than screaming at the top of their lungs until their tracheae bled?

"Yeah? You wasn't saying that the time I managed to go three times in one ni-" He called after her, but was suddenly cut off as a sudden pressure gripped at his neck, squeezing the top of his spine. He found it hard to move, and furrowed his brows in confusion. It was only when a sharpness began to press in that he dragged himself away from the door, swinging back, Natalie's footsteps being heard as she started up the stairs. His eyes widened at the corner of the room as a ghastly hand seemed to dissolve and re-solidify in from of him.

"What the fuck-what the fuck!" He murmured quickly through inhaled breaths, stepping back until his coccyx hit the counter. As the hand began to gravitate toward him, he acted swiftly, slinging his hot cup of tainted coffee toward the ghostly form.

Shards of the ceramic cup scattered like bullets, coffee stained the newly painted wall and stung Charlie's arm from the angle of launch. The hand seemed unfazed, and a quiet, maniacal laughter whispered just behind Charlie's ear. Slapping his hand up to behind his head, he brought it back to see sticky blood where the hand's nails had apparently burrowed into his flesh. So, it was real enough to cause damage, but not enough to be scolded by coffee!?

He heard a sudden tumble down the stairs.

"Shit! Nat!" He yelled this time, panic engulfing him as he bolted out the kitchen toward the stairs, seeing Natalie somewhat propped against the wall, having clearly fallen own the stairs. "Nat!" He yelled again, pacing toward her figure and sliding down to his knees where she sat, his hand going to her shoulder and jostling her somewhat.

"Hey, get up. Be okay-be-okay, c'mon, just look at me. There's no time to be playin' around." Despite his words, he knew now she wasn't fooling around. But he just needed to see some spirit or life in her. He needed to get out, and the coward in him wanted her to be able to manage by herself so he wouldn't have to defend her. He would like to think he would but...as he looked back over his shoulder, the fear within him reared its ugly head. It made him think terrible options of abandonment to flee the scene.
 #34437  by Cailly
Everything came to her in waves – words spoken through water, barely registering. They were distant. So faint, she couldn't help but wonder if she imagined it. The concern she heard in Charlie's voice. The urgency in which he pleaded for her to be alright. She felt tired. All she wanted to do was close her eyes – allow sleep to claim her. Everything felt warm. Her back felt wet. Had she fallen asleep in the bath?

Charlie's shaking jarred her from her stupor. Albeit only slightly. She managed an unintelligible rumble in response, her head rolling listlessly to the side.

The lights flickered back on. The storm outside continued, though far less violently. Its rumbles had quieted to distant growls. Lightning painted sinister shadows across the walls of the home, leaving phantom traces of the clawing hand everywhere they looked.

The chill was gone. It felt warm again. A distant reminder of what it had once been like for the married couple. Before their lives had begun to fall apart and their marriage was in shambles. If it weren't for the blood that spilled out over the landing, it might have looked as inviting as it had the day they had moved in. A place where naive hope could flourish. For a future. A family. A long-lasting marriage.

Slowly Natalie started to come back to herself. The edges of her vision were still blurred – marred by static as she sought, fruitlessly, for something substantial to snap her back to focus. Plain blossomed in the crown of her skull and along the length of her back. She whimpered, reaching lamely for something – anything – to grab.
 #34749  by Vyreia
Charlie was amiss of what to do. He just knew he should have accepted that three day first aid course his work offered him, but the lack off additional benefits from being qualified deterred him. He had always been somewhat greedy in many ways, but he liked to define himself as ambitious; he knew his self worth and would not give up his time to a course that didn't appreciate his efforts. Unfortunately, that put him in a promiscuous situation now. His wife was not bleeding, not speaking, barely moving. And he couldn't think what to do. Perhaps there was something, and he internally kicked himself for having not thought of it sooner. Haphazardly, through panic, he plunged his hand into his pocket and dragged out his phone. He thumbed in the numbers for 999, pressing slightly too hard on the screen through the stained blood that had transferred from his fingers.

The moment he pressed 'call', the screen turned black.

Somehow, it appeared darker than usual, even when switched off. He thought he saw some kind of mirage - a demonic face - staring back at him. Startled and frustrated, he lashed out. With one foul swoop, he tossed the phone across the room with a yell, watching as his smashed and scattered against the wall from the violent impact. "Piece of shit!" He cursed after, curling his hands into fists as he looked back to Natalie.

A sick part of him began to blame her. Why did she have to fall down the stairs? Why had she insisted on continuing the arguments? Why didn't she just forgive him - they could have been happy by now if it wasn't for her! Taking a deep breath, he looked down at his hands, now tinted with red.

What if he was blamed for this?

He felt the earth from fro beneath him at the idea. Who would believe her about a ghost or spirit? Not the police, or any sort of medical practitioner. She'd hit her head, quite hard at that. They would think she was delusional. They'd been arguing, and suddenly she'd fallen down the stairs, and now he was conveniently by her side with blood on his hands. Nobody would believe him either if he claimed there were dark spirits here; they would say he was trying to claim diminished responsibility or feed into her idealism or fake reality. Either way, regardless of his actions, he was fucked. He looked down at her, a voice whispering in his ear lowly.

He could always just...get rid of the evidence...

Charlie swallowed thickly, and placed his hand on her shoulder, shaking her a little. "Natalie. Can you hear me? Do you remember what happened?" He asked, trying to feign a calmness that simply wasn't there.
 #34753  by Cailly
The world's haze began to fade. Everything started to come back to Natalie with stunning clarity. A feverish chill raced up her spine as she groped for him. Pain bloomed at the center of her back, radiating outward until everything throbbed. Her shoulders, her chest, and her neck all felt raw. A feeble sounding whimper was her only offering as she groped for him – clawed fingertips digging into the fabric of his shirt.

She knew she shouldn't move. There was no way of knowing the extent of the damage done by the fall. She knew enough to know the likelihood of a concussion was more of an inevitability. The injury sustained to her back felt more like a gaping wound than a break, but she couldn't be sure. All she knew was that she hurt, and moving, let alone quickly, was near impossible. Natalie had managed to push herself off the wall, leaving a pool of blood in her wake. She collapsed against his chest, her face buried in the crook of his neck.

Do you remember what happened?

Her breath hitched in her chest. Whatever she might have said lodged itself in her throat, rendering her impotent as she clung to her husband, desperately searching for comfort. At least, the precious little she could find in the arms of someone who didn't care for her. Eventually, she managed a slow nod. The inside of her skull felt like mush – like soup – and she was half afraid that if she moved much quicker, its contents would ooze out through her ears.

The back of her shirt stuck to her skin, sticky and drenched in her blood. More than what the head wound could have feasibly produced, though, there was a fair amount of that as well.

"I saw someone," she whispered. "Charlie. Please help."
 #34755  by Vyreia
Charlie swallowed thickly, his breath hitching at her words and actions. She really was limp, perhaps almost lifeless - definitely helpless. That voice cooed in his ear once again, the slow, rumbling lull of it making his muscles strain for a moment. It almost felt like it was triggering something in his chest to burst out. Hadn't he watched a film long ago where that happened? He'd likely watched that with Natalie during their budding relationship. The thought did sadden the mood, if even that was possible. But knowing that there were such happy memories being tarnished by the very house he treasured.

Instinctively, he allowed his arms to wrap around her, though didn't audibly respond just yet. He felt a coldness on his neck, and swung his head around to look - but nothing was there. She saw someone?

"Who?" He asked, a little too accusatory.

He nervously licked his lips, looking back over his shoulder again, a feeling of dread washing over him. How much longer could he just sit here? What was he supposed to do!? If he left her and she made it out, she could spin the story - she'd done it before for basic things but would she do it out of revenge for being left? He was certain she would, given her past of revenge. If he stayed here, he could perish with her. If he carried her he may cause more damage. If he ran, and she died, the police may find him suspicious. Maybe he could make sure she died and hide the body before running. He furrowed his brow at that last thought, thankful she couldn't read minds. But then another thought came.

He could run to get help and bring them back here!

It was still risky, but with no phone and likely not enough strength to carry her for long without putting her in a position that could harm her. He bit his lip. Taking a shaky breath, he pulled her back from him, looking her in the face. "I'm going to try and see if I can get help; phones are dead. I don't think you'll be able to stand...I'll be as quick as I can."

He eased her back against the wall, and then stood, wiping hip brow before pacing to the front door. The garden was grey, desolate, depressing. But the cold air felt like a drug - it was almost stifling in the house, like he couldn't even breath properly until this moment. With one last glance back at Natalie, he lunged forward into a fast stride, making his way down the garden path to the tall wooden gate that blocked off visitors against their will. He unlatched it and plunged through it...only to find himself at the back entrance of the house, in the kitchen. He stared forward for a moment, shaking his head, and then looked back through the door, seeing the very same garden path leading up to the front entrance of the house.

"Holy shit..." He muttered. Looking around the kitchen, he spotted a black mark on the wall, the broken ceramic cup, spilled coffee had now stained...it was as though he'd never even attempted to leave. Stepping forward, he peered around the door to look at Natalie. In the place of the young, beautiful woman was a decrepit, rotting corpse. His eyes widened. How long had been gone? What was this place!? In a split second, he turned on his heel and stumbled into a sprint, making his way back from where he came. He plummeted through the front door again, sliding on the hardwood floor and turning his head.

There was Natalie. Young, bleeding, but alive.

They were trapped. And he was certain he had just seen the future...
 #34756  by Cailly
"I don't know," she whispered.

It had happened in a matter of seconds. It was hard to see anything in the dark, but the lightning had flashed and painted a sinister portrait of fate's reckoning. A depiction of a life cut short at the bottom of the stairwell.

Something weaved into the fringes of her consciousness — a warm, inviting sort of haze. Everything was alright. She had survived, after all. The pain would subside, eventually. As the adage went, 'time heals all wounds.' She felt relief – a fabricated comfort to be had in his arms. He had held her once. Freely. Without hesitation. It was too easy to summon the memories of his fingers combing through her hair and the kisses he'd press to the crown of her head. Far too easy to remember his murmured affections. When life was good, and things were easy.

Couldn't they go back to that? Could she forgive him? Stay just a little while longer?

It might have been the concussion, but she was starting to think she could. It was a manic daydream, filling her head with a rose-colored depiction of what could be. This house was a rather beautiful home. They had always talked about starting a family. They didn't have to leave. What had happened was a blessing. It brought them closer together! He touched her – finally.

He gently laid her back, reassuring her that he would return. That he was going to get help. "No, no, no, Charlie," she scrambled for him, reaching for his hands. "Please don't leave. Please," she pleaded. It didn't matter. He was gone. The door closed behind him, leaving her alone in the dark.

Widowed. The word implanted itself in her mind – stuck between her ribs making it difficult to breathe. She knew it with complete certainty. If he left...

She tried to force herself to her feet. Her arms wrapped around the railing as she attempted to claw her way upright. She slipped in her own blood, bashing her knee painfully against the wooden landing. A frustrated snarl escaped her between her pants of exertion. Her teeth gnashed painfully together as she struggled for purchase. Eventually, she found it.

Her head spun and throbbed, threatening to tilt the world onto its side. White-knuckling the railing, she forced herself to breathe through it. The stars would eventually fade. Everything got better with time.

She had been so focused on standing she hadn't even noticed Charlie's reappearance. A warm, inviting smile formed on her lips. "You came back," she said, her voice thick with emotion. Her heart felt full, even as her head filled with daydreams of what their future could hold. "What's wrong?"

The house's energy seemed to shift dramatically. The darkness was chased away by a familiar warmth – a happiness. And Natalie had fallen entirely for its charms.
 #34850  by Vyreia
"Of course I did", he said, somewhat blandly. In reality, Charlie was not entirely certain he would have come back at all had he actually been able to escape. But Natalie didn't need to know that. She did not need the additional stress or disappointment after all he had already done to her. Due to these thoughts alone, he was starting to believe he really was evil like she probably suspected of him. He'd always been rather selfish; he cared for nothing more in the world than the air in his lungs and the path beneath his own feet. It was an isolated life. Dark whispers coerced him into thinking further. Had he ever truly loved her, or was it merely the idea of her that was so appealing.

He remembered the two of them flirting, poking fun at each other - little teasing that eventually manifested into genuine discontent for each other. His tea slurping used to make her laugh, and now she would toss a nasty look to him whenever he did it, as though she was about to literally throw daggers in his direction instead of just figuratively. And in turn, he would slurp louder, as though daring her to go with the threat her eyes implied.

But she seemed somewhat inviting now. She smiled, looked at him longingly, like she genuinely missed him for the short time he'd been gone. He bit his lip, trying to hold back any emotions rushing to the surface. Surely this did mean he loved her, right? It wasn't just out of his own selfish worries, was it?

"We can't get out and...I'm almost certain I just saw another reality. Like a whole other house; everything was the same but you was-" he cleared his throat. "Well, you was just unwell...a bit worse off. So it's good to see you standing."

He looked over to the side. A sudden thought approached. If he went back to the house down the garden path, would Natalie's corpse still be in the same position? Her body had rotted against the same wall, but now Natalie was stood up. He thought for a moment - was he seeing a definitely future or an interchangeable one? Looking over to the mantel piece, he approached and swiftly swept the entire ornamental display onto the floor so it all smashed.

"Stay here." He instructed before heading back to the other house. Upon arrival, he found his theory correct. the floor was covered in ceramic and bone china shards surrounding the mantel. Natalie's corpse had no moved and was instead bundled into a curled position at the foot of the stairs. So, they could alter the future. Taking a deep breath, he turned back to go and tell Natalie the news. "Nat, don't touch a thing. Don't do anything...we have to think this through. We're changing the future as we speak - anything we do alters reality."

It was only now that he realised how insane he sounded.
 #34935  by Cailly
Whatever blandness or bite to her husband's words was lost on her. In the heat of the moment, overcome by relief and joy at seeing him, she was oblivious. More than anything, she yearned for him. She felt desperate to feel his arms around her – to feel his fingers through her hair, and hear his murmured comforts into her ear. What she needed was him. The distance caused an ache to settle into the marrow of her bones.

A wrongness coiled around her insides, constricting her with every breath. There was an urgency to her thoughts. Natalie was more confident than she ever had been that they needed to make things work. They needed to try.

She stared gormlessly at him as he spoke, her expression betraying her confusion. He sounded mad. No part of what he was saying made any sense. "Charlie?" She took a faltering step toward him, her knuckles turning white against the banister. The clamor of their precious belongings shattering on the ground startled her. Natalie's breath hitched, and her head reeled. She struggled to regain her footing but eventually managed to save herself from collapsing onto the landing again. She was not quick enough to stop Charlie from leaving, though.

A quiet, pathetic noise was her only offering when she watched him step out the door again. It was the matter of a few heartbeats before he returned, this time speaking more gibberish. A small laugh escaped her – disbelieving, but not cruel. "Of course everything we do has an impact on the future," she hissed in pain, breaking free of her vice grip on the railing as she walked toward him. "It's been a long night," she said, closing the distance between them. Her hand rose to rest on his cheek, her smile warm and affectionate – like how she used to look at him.

Didn't he feel it? The warmth? The pure rightness of staying there, together? "Can you help me up the stairs?" she asked, combing her fingers through his hair. The back of her shirt was stained with her own blood. If he looked hard enough, he might be able to see the harsh, deliberate outlines of cuts in her skin.