A hand clamped over Jack’s mouth and she was pulled from the hallway into a poorly lit room.
“Jacqueline, do not shout.”
“I was whispering, Marcellus,” she whispered to her twin through their mind link but her lips still moved silently against his palm.
“The Old Ones still heard you,” he whispered back.
Jack nodded mutely.
Relieved, Marcie pulled his hand back.
He stared into his sister’s eyes.
“Marcellus,” she whined, her mind and voice both mute but her plump lips forming every letter.
He read them, but continued to stare at her until the silence caused a nervous ramble to spill forth from her turbulent mind.
Jack blushed. “Stop. Mother will kill us if she finds out, I have every right to be worried.”
“Come,” Marcie said, as sympathetically as he could manage, and grabbed her hand.
They interlocked their fingers and he felt his heart beat escalate. This time, he was the one to blush.
“If only it was not incest, I would marry you,” his sister said.
“You are thirteen, Jack, you have to marry.”
“My future husband will not call me Jack,” she muttered as they kicked off their shoes, “he will call me darling, or honey, whore maybe.”
“I do not.” She stomped on the floorboards and Marcie turned to glare at her even though there was no sound.
Jack simmered down. “You are the only one for me, Marcie.”
“Mother locked us apart because she found us in bed together.”
“We will be more discreet this time,” she said, peering at him from beneath the shade of her lashes. They curled up at him, flapping as delicately as a butterfly’s wings.
For a moment, he considered denying her request, but only for a moment. He could never refuse his sister. “Fine, Jack. Have it your way.”
Their fingers still laced together, she turned around.
He imagined her socked feet had scuffed the floor but knew that there would be no sound until they broke physical contact.
“You expect me to undo your laces with one hand, do you?” he asked.
“I chose a simple dress today,” she replied, her tone giddy, “and you have done much more with much less, Marcellus.”
Marcie hummed. “I could just cut you out of it.”
Aghast, Jacqueline spun around. “You must not,” she cried. “Mother will bury me.”
“She will do so when she finds that you are no longer in bed. The difference hardly matters.”
Jack sulked. “I just hoped to see you before I was married off.”
“You hoped that I cast a spell,” Marcie said, picking the words right out of her mind. “A blood spell. One you are aware I have knowledge of because you searched my mind while I was deep in slumber.”
“It will not be incest if we are not tied by blood.”
“Madness, Jacqueline, that is what you speak.”
“I love you, Marcellus. You cannot pretend as though you are alright with another person laying their hands on me.”
“We could very well die,” he whispered harshly, with his voice, uncari of the Old Ones.
“I am not concerned as long as we die together.”
“Cease the drama, Jack,” Marcie was nearly inclined to roll his eyes, “we will stop holding hands but you shall not make a sound lest you annoy the Old Ones.”
She nodded and their hands fell away from each other.
All at once, the room was too loud in its silence.
Marcie ignored the presences bearing down on them and hurriedly undid the strings holding his sister’s bodice at her back, and because of a particular trend, this one also had strings in the front.
Facing her, with her curious gaze on him, he took longer there, but eventually her gown slipped away.
She took his hand, her smile wide.
He swallowed. “I will do the spell, Jack.”
They switched clothes.
Jack tugged on the cotton shirt but it hardly went past the shorts she now wore.
“I like this,” she whispered and pinned her hair up. “If this does not work, you may marry my husband in my place.”
“And how long do you suppose the ruse will last for?”
“You will make it last,” she raised her chin slightly, “and he may come to love you for who you are and bed you anyway.”
“I will not marry, Jacqueline, you need not be jealous.”
“I am not,” she protested, but clung to him.
He laughed and led her to the curtain on the far side of the room.
With a tug, he ripped it off its hooks to reveal a broken wall. On the other side, laid a garden.
They crossed the threshold and Jack was amazed to see a sun high in the sky.
“We will offer ourselves in return for a wish,” Marcie explained.
“Will our wish be honored?”
“Yes, but there is always a trick, so we must think of a wish that cannot be used against us.”
They sat on the floor.
Jack leaned against one of her brother’s many bookshelves and stared at the glass goblet between them.
She saw the images in his mind. “You have done this before?”
“To prevent your marriage.”
“We still always get to this point.”
“Have I ever made the right wish?”
He remained silent.
“Did you. . .” She stared at the dark circles under his eyes, having just noticed them.
She swallowed the question and asked a more important one. “Have you ever made the right wish?”
“No,” he croaked.
Jacqueline nodded and took the dagger by the goblet. “I am not afraid then.”
She dragged its edge against the skin of her wrist and felt nothing until Marcie let out a soft cry.
He was channeling her pain away.
She held his gaze and let her blood drip into glass.
He took the dagger from her and did the same, but his cut was more brutal.
They held hands.
“We wish. . .” they said together, in their minds.