Chapter Twenty-Three

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Henry groans as he drags himself off the ground, his face contorting sharply in pain

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Henry groans as he drags himself off the ground, his face contorting sharply in pain. I can see him limp, his leg dragging a little as he makes his way across the floor. His lips pressed together tightly, holding in all the feelings I see burning in his eyes. He rushes past me and sinks to the ground beside Jensen. Sophie pulls herself up and slowly wanders across the room. When she reaches me, she takes my hand, squeezing gently. She smiles comfortingly, sadness heavy in her eyes, as we follow Henry to where he's slumped beside Jensen's still form. As we walk over, each step feeling heavy, the lightness at knowing I'd succeeded, that the zombies were gone, was long gone. I'd forgotten one crucial thing - Jensen had died. He lost his life that day on the road and nothing I'd done here today could change that.

Behind us I can hear my friends talking to the awakened zombies, trying to explain to the confused and frightened people how they'd found themselves in a school halfway through the night. Their clothes bloody and coated in filth, bruised and aching from the force of our blows.

Sophie lets go of my hand with a last, gentle squeeze and steps to her wife. Kira is stirring a little way from Henry and Jensen. She groans and rubs her head, struggling to pull herself up. Sophie reaches down to her, pulling her into a sitting position, where she hugs her limp form fiercely. I crouch down next to Henry, who's sitting there, staring hard at his friend. His face fixed in a look of anger, of frustration, of grief. His jaw clenched hard.

"Henry... I'm so sorry."

Sophie looks over at her brother, arms still wrapped around a dazed Kira, her eyes filled with tears. Henry turns to look at me, his eyes watery. All our tears look like pearls in the candlelight.

"I thought... I thought once the zombie in him was gone, he'd be OK. He'd be back."

I lean closer, my head just grazing his shoulder. I reach down to place my hand on his. He doesn't move, doesn't really show any sign that I'm there.

"Jensen died Henry," Sophie whispers. "Willow's a necromancer. She brought him back. But it can't be permanent, you see what happens. The person who remains isn't really them, and the cost to others, it's too great." Sophie's voice cracks, Kira moaning lightly in her arms. Henry's body is so tense he's shaking. He doesn't take his eyes off his best friend.

"I knew... on some level I did, it's just..."

"I know," I whisper. A loud shout from the other side of the room makes me flinch. The former zombies are still scared and confused. And by the look of annoyance on Becca's face, her hands on her hips as scowls at them, they're not being soothed much by Mia's explanations or the falsely jolly Ros.

Kira whimpers as Sophie pulls them both to their feet. She exhales heavily and looks down at Henry. At the torment on his face. She bites hard on her bottom lip.

"I need to help them. I have a memory spell prepared. I'll do what I can but... will you stay with him?" She glances at Henry, her voice tentative.

I can barely hear her words. All I can think about was Henry. His pain and how helpless I feel. I squeeze his hand, warm and large under my own. He still hasn't moved. His face, his body, hasn't changed since he sat by Jensen's side.

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