[New and want to jump in? Please read the Instructions, but go ahead!]
“It’s all right, Sweet,” Septimus said slowly. “You already told me that some things that might happen would be personal. I’m okay with whatever it is, but you know, it’s fine that you want me not to see it. You can have that bath and I won’t come in with you.”
Sweet drew a sharp breath. “…Thanks,” he muttered. “I’m sorry, I know it’s—this has to be shitty for you, but I just—”
“Is it okay if I stay outside the door?” Septimus cut in. He didn’t really want to hear the apology, didn’t want to make Sweet have to make it. “Rather than going to check the chest out by myself, I just… I want to make sure I can come in if you fall or something. And this way we can check the chest out together. We should try to avoid being separated, and besides, I mean. It’s your house, your situation. You deserve to be there.”
Flushing, Sweet nodded. “Thanks,” he said again. Then, abruptly, “I don’t know how you’re so calm about all this.”
“I can freak out later,” Septimus said wryly. “When we’re both safely out of here.”
“Really practical,” Sweet said, a bit more like his old self, finally. “Very commendable.”
“Go have your bath,” Septimus said. He gestured between himself and the wall across from the bathroom door. “I’ll go back to waiting in hallways.”
Sweet laughed softly, and went back into his room briefly, coming back with a towel. “Don’t get too bored out here.”
“I have my phone,” Septimus said.
Time seemed to be moving normally again now, ticking by, and it was 1:15 or so by the time that Sweet came back out. He’d redressed in his normal clothes, but his feet were bare and his his hair was damp, soaking into the towel draped around his shoulders. His skin was flushed with renewed warmth. He looked better, more peaceful, and Septimus could only hope that it had done some good for whatever effect he was dealing with.
“Ready?” Sweet asked him, and the warmth was back in his voice too, that vagueness gone. “You look exhausted, Sep.”
“The night’s starting to catch up to me,” he admitted. “But we have to do this, right? I’m not sure I believe that we could just go to sleep and everything’ll be fine in the morning. Maybe whatever we find in there will help and we can just conk out in your room.”
He tried to slip it in there casually, but Sweet noticed it, grinning abruptly.
“I mean, sounds good to me,” Sweet said.
They headed down the hall to Sweet’s mother’s room and back inside. Sweet looked around like he hadn’t seen it for a while, but there was at least clear recognition on his face.
“So. Mom’s chest of goodies,” he said. “You have no idea how much I wanted to know what she kept in there when I was a kid. It drove me nuts.”
“I bet,” Septimus said. “I felt the same way about some of the stuff my parents worked with. All kinds of ancient antiques. I felt like one of them’d be the thing that let me be the chosen one or something. I read a lot of fantasy, and having classics profs for parents—let alone ones that sometimes did field work—really didn’t help.”
Sweet snorted a laugh. “Well, brave hero, are you going to open the treasure chest to unveil the item of power?”
“Shut up,” Septimus said, laughing too, but went for the chest, patting the ground next to him. Sweet sat, and Septimus pulled the key out of his pocket, fitting it into the lock. “A perfect fit!”
Sweet hummed a familiar riff. “Nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah…”
Obligingly, Septimus popped the padlock off, then opened the chest. It was empty except for an actual necklace this time, and he reached in to lift it up, playing Link in their little joke. His hand closed around the pendant and reality
?You? are on a frozen lake.
It curves very gently under your feet. There are a few miles in each direction to reach land.
The curve is not strong enough to make it difficult to stand on the ice but you can feel the strain in your legs from keeping your balance regardless.
The section of ice you are standing on is black for a wide, wide circle, but you can see that further out, the ice becomes white all around.
The lake is rimmed with thick, dark trees in ??all?? directions.
The sky overhead is black, but you have enough light to see by from the ???? winking down at you.
There is a pulsing heart cupped in your hands, black and purple rather than red. It is ????? to the touch.
[Please offer actions, thoughts, or concerns for ????????? in the Comments.
Thank you for a great second week! I hope you enjoy the rest.]
[Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Conclusion | Author’s Notes]