“You didn’t even - that’s not fair, you didn’t even hear me out!” Sadie crossed her arms over her chest and scowled. She stomped a foot for good measure; auditory forms of outrage were very important in arguments with Hayden. “You can’t just say no like that.”
Cosette rubbed small circles around her temples, wishing for just a moment of quiet. Ever since Sadie had come home from Rocky Mountain International, she’d picked a fight over every little thing. “You get to see Gigi more than us. We want you home.”
“To do what?” Sadie snapped. “We never do anything!”
“Nanna is coming by tomorrow,” Hayden reminded her, “and you promised Bobbie camping out in the yard. That’s doing stuff.”
Sadie let out an angry screech and threw her arms in the air. “Fine, I’ll do what Bobbie wants and Nanna wants and you want, and I’ll just never get to do anything I want!” She stormed past Hayden and Cosette to her bedroom, shouting angrily the whole way. The slam of her bedroom door was enough to let everyone know that Sadie was done talking about it.
“What the fuck was that about?” Hayden said loudly, so Cosette could hear him over Ava’s confused crying. “Ssh, Ava. Sadie’s blowing off steam. It’s okay.”
“I don’t know!” Cosette whined. “It’s like she came back from school a totally different kid. This sucks. And my head is killing me.”
“If she doesn’t cut it out she can spend all summer camping in the yard.”
Two weeks later, Sadie was still a teenaged monster. She snapped at every conversation, rolled her eyes, sucked her teeth, and just generally was the worst. Her attitude didn’t even require dialogue to be obvious; Cosette had to tell her numerous times to fix her damn face. Cosette would have been proud of Sadie’s apparent knack for torture if it wasn’t so damn annoying.
After a particularly nasty attempt at a family dinner and movie night, which resulted in another shouting match and Ava trying to break the tension by throwing her food all over the floor, Cosette rolled over in bed and poked Hayden squarely in the chest. “Are you awake?”
“Depends,” he answered sleepily. “What did you have in mind?”
“I think we need to let Sadie go on her trip.”
Hayden yawned widely. “You mean you don’t want our darling daughter around every moment? You’re not loving all this screeching and door slamming and backchat?”
Cosette tried not to yawn in response. “She won’t tell me why she’s actually pissed off, so I’m over it.”
“I still don't like it. It’s really far, and with people we don’t know, and she’s just a kid,” Hayden listed a few of the reasons he’d objected to the trip in the first place. “But if it’s something that’s gonna make her happy, maybe we should figure something out. Merlin knows she hasn’t been happy for a goddamn minute she’s been back.”
“I’m just saying, if Philpott could handle our bullshit for years, he can handle Sadie’s for a few days.”
He sighed, turning onto his side to face Cosette. “Okay, we’ll give them a call tomorrow.” Assuming the conversation was done for now, Hayden’s hands moved under the covers. “Since we’re awake…”
Having gotten her way, Sadie did try to make the tiniest effort at home. There were still big blow ups, but not as many, and she couldn’t wait to go. Hanging out with a friend seemed easier than being home right now. Sure, she could hang out with Elliot, but that was barely like being away from home. Gigi was in a whole different country, so she definitely won.
Sadie packed everything into a magically enhanced backpack, gave Hayden, Ava, and Bobbie hugs goodbye, and let Cosette take her to the international travel hub. It was an awkward goodbye for reasons neither of them were able to pinpoint. From there, Sadie took a portkey that deposited her right next to a tall woman with bronze-colored skin and dark hair.
“You’re Sadie Embers?”
“Yeah!” She nodded, sending her brown curls into a frenzy. “That’s me.”
“Angela Wirral, Georgina’s mum. So now we’ve found each other, let’s get the hell out of your Godawful country.” She held out an old plastic comb. “Hold on tight, it’s choppy over the Atlantic.”
After the second portkey, which Sadie was used to because of RMI, they side-alonged to just behind two trees with thick trunks. Sadie thought, maybe, she might be sick. Then she wasn’t, and it was fine. She followed Angela around the trees out into a dusty lane lined with a grey stone wall. In denim cut-offs and a bright red cropped tee, Gigi perched on the wall, grinning wildly.
“Fuck me, it’s Foot Bling in Old Blighty. Jesus.”
Sadie grinned and put her hands on her hips. Her sneakers, as shiny and gold as a snitch, glinted in the light. She looked up at Gigi. “Am I coming up there or are you coming down here?”
Gigi leaped from the wall and scuffed her old converse on the way to nudge Sadie with her elbow. “I’m glad you talked your folks into letting you stay. You will regret it, there’s fuck all to do here. I’m so bored I might actually die. Of boredom. But I’m glad you came.”
Sadie couldn’t help but be a little in awe of all the fields and nature as they walked to Gigi’s place. The house was surrounded by orchards on three sides, very different from cities and towns in the States. Sadie would have to go to the rural south or the empty midwest for something similar, and those were not compelling enough reasons to do so. When she finished staring at all the green, Sadie turned to look at Gigi, who either didn’t notice or didn’t care that she was so surprised that someone this cool could live somewhere so… humble.
“You get the honour and privilege of sharing my bedroom. Sort of. I’ll show you.”
“Okay!” Sadie followed her inside, through the kitchen and up a staircase with flatboards and no backs - Sadie imagined throwing a dungbomb on Elliot through those; more houses needed stairs like this - and a left turn later, they were in Gigi’s room. The layout was odd enough that Sadie felt it just matched Gigi: a double bed in the middle, opposite a small fireplace with wardrobes either side, a vaulted ceiling with huge beams, and a large window overlooking the lane at the front of the house. On Sadie’s left was an archway that led to a smaller space in the eaves, with two small windows. The space beyond the archway was as long as the room but thinner, and Sadie couldn’t imagine what the purpose of that space could possibly be if this wasn’t a former murder house.
“So we can share my bed or one of us can sleep in here.” Sadie blinked, realizing that Gigi meant one of them could sleep in the mystery hallway. “It’s not really a room but it fits a bed in. Just about. My folks can transfigure anything.”
“Eh, I don’t care. Your bed, murder hallway, a place to sleep is a place to sleep.”
“Right, so we’ll just see where we pass out when the sugar high wears off. You can dump your stuff anywhere. I was thinking we’d go get ice cream because it’s not raining for once, thank fuck, and also because there is literally nothing else to do.”
“Ice cream sounds good to me.” On the ten minute walk into the village, Sadie multitasked between sightseeing British countryside and telling Gigi how bad her summer had been. By the time they’d arrived at an old church with an ancient graveyard (which Sadie absolutely wanted to explore later) the Cetus was finishing her tale of woe. “I just feel like they’re keeping something from me, and I don’t know what. Mom acts like I’m not allowed to even think about asking for information about my birth family, and no one will tell me why we have all this Spellotape coming to the house.”
“That’s messed up,” Gigi said sagely, turning into the top of a narrow street lined with mis-matched buildings reaching just two stories high. “If she doesn’t know where you came from, she should just tell you that.”
“Right?” Sadie rolled her eyes. “But I think she does. It would be really stupid if she was acting all secretive just because she doesn’t know.” Her eyes, now finished rolling dramatically, landed on a yellow building with peeling paint. “Please tell me we’re close to ice cream, because I need it.”
“This is the place.” Gigi pushed open the door and led the way inside. She bought a scoop each of strawberry cream and chocolate fudge, and a topping of chopped nuts. Sadie chose cherry vanilla topped with fudge and the girls went back out to the graveyard to lick their cones. “I guess there might be an actual reason for not telling you,” Gigi considered. “Your folks could be brother and sister. Do you have six toes?” She snorted, then hit Sadie quite hard on the arm. Sadie had enough dignity not to squeak. “Maybe your birth parents are famous, and that’s why she can’t tell you, because she signed something to say she never would.”
“Look out, JD,” Sadie cackled, “I’m coming for your celebrity status!”
Gigi snorted again. “Your celebrity status, your cute butt, your dreamy eyes.” She mimed puking into an invisible bucket.
“Yeah, yeah, he’s a terrible person but he’s someone to kiss, so,” Sadie gave a big shrug and stopped a drip of melted cherry ice cream from sliding down the cone onto her finger. “Gotta find something to do at RMI.”
“There’s plenty to do at RMI,” Gigi countered. “Here,” she swept her arm wide to gesture at the quiet street before them, “there is nothing to do. Thank God for the Timmins brothers,” she grinned, licking some melted chocolate fudge from her finger.
Sadie agreed that RMI might seem exciting compared to this, but at least she could wander around here. “Am I going to get to meet them?”
“I haven’t decided yet. It will suck for eternity if they think you’re hotter than me, so my ego says don’t risk it. But we might run out of things to do in around thirty minutes so we’ll see. First we should solve the mystery of your conception. Maybe you’re a genetic experiment. Do you have any unexplained orifices?”
“Being a clone would definitely explain my natural, effortless awesomeness,” Sadie agreed, “But nope, nothing unexplained under these clothes.”
Looking at Sadie’s figure, as if wondering what was under those clothes, Gigi spaced out for a minute. She shook her head to clear it and sighed. “Well then I’m as lost as you are. Maybe your parents just took one look at you and left you on a doorstep somewhere.” She slurped some more ice cream. “Doesn’t explain the Spellotape, but I’m not convinced that’s part of the same mystery.”
Neither was Sadie. If she was being honest, she knew the Spellotape was such a stretch. It seemed to be about her mom, and she was upset with her mom for keeping secrets from her, but maybe they were two different secrets. Maybe it wasn’t related. Sadie just wasn’t sure. She slurped her ice cream, deep in thought, before a terrible, awful thought crossed her mind. It was a thought so awful that she couldn’t keep it to herself. “...oh Merlin, what if the Spellotape is a weird sex thing?”
“Parents having sex is the grimmest paradox.”
Sadie shuddered and focused back on her ice cream. “Yeah, that can’t be it. It would just be wrong.”
“Well this graveyard just got creepier,” Gigi said. “Oh, that’s a thing we could do. We’ve always talked about sleeping over here - you know, I’ll tell my parents I’m at Karinder’s, Liam will tell his folks he’s at mine, but instead we’re hiding out in the churchyard - but we’ve never had the balls. We could do that while you’re here, if you want.”
Sadie’s face brightened. “Oh my god, that sounds awesome. Let’s do it.” Finding a cherry in her ice cream, she fished it out. Everything was getting better already. “Sleeping out in a graveyard with you and people I don’t know - what could possibly go wrong?”
Gigi grinned. “Guess we’ll find out.”
This ORMI was co-written with B