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That night, Teddy dreamt of Rose.

She awoke, slowly, to the phantom smell of sizzling bacon and buttery toast, the spirit echo of a howling tea kettle. When she opened her eyes, wiped drool from her cheek, there was only dust and silence.

Despite the previous night's excitement, Teddy gained consciousness peacefully. She did not experience the momentary horror of waking up in an unfamiliar bed. She did not sit up abruptly, roused by a flood of horrible recollection and fear. All through the night, her mind never left 24 Thornewood Road.

Pale light floated in through the window without a trace of last night's rain. Teddy yawned, feeling foggy but undeniably rested. Something warm tickled her cheek, and she followed the sensation with her fingertips to discover Snickers, the fat black cat, resting above her head on the pillow. She stroked his fur, a silent apology—"Sorry about last night." The cat purred in reply— "No biggie."

She smiled, amused by the turn of events. Here she was, just a few days after her dad died, in a house in the middle of nowhere, talking to a dead cat.

Though she dared not question her newfound peace—peace with the house and the dead and the magic that bound them—she wondered idly if she were losing her mind. If that was the case, Teddy thought, then perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing to be slightly less than sane. Waking up that morning, in that rickety twin bed in the barricaded upstairs bedroom, Teddy felt good. She felt peace.

It was as if, the past eight years, she had been living in a world that wasn't meant for her. She had spent her life trying to force herself into a reality that continuously spat her out, had spent years trying first to push, then later to accept, that world's harsh, immovable limits. She had searched that reality for some place she would belong—a place where chaos and mystery and magic weren't synonymous with fiction, fairy tales and lies—but that place existed, up until now, only in her dreams.

The little house at 24 Thornewood Road was that place, had always been that place, ever since that first weekend visit. It was a place where the constraints of time, reality, and truth could bend, twist, die, then return as something else.

Teddy had lived that reality once, had tried to forget it in order to survive without it. But the magic followed her, changed her, and finally, it called her back home.

Still, there were some parts of the real world that Teddy couldn't hide from, even in the middle of nowhere. Her heart sank when she remembered Chrissy, how she'd promised her she'd text her right when she arrived. She reached for her phone, which was nearly dead, but otherwise still useless without a signal. That was one of the things on her mental to-do list—get an internet connection. She had no idea where to begin. Teddy sighed and rolled out of bed, the morning's peace already dissipating.

She got dressed quickly in a grey t-shirt and shorts. She pulled half of her hair up into a small bun on top of her head to get it away from her face. If she wanted to make this house her own, she would need to get rid of a lot of boxes of junk, and if she wanted to get rid of a lot of boxes of junk, she would have to move a lot of boxes of junk. Removing the barricade would serve as an excellent warm-up, Teddy thought.

As she dismantled the barricade, feeling mildly embarrassed and mildly impressed by her extreme survival instinct, Teddy's stomach growled.

"Shit," Teddy said, she had somehow forgotten about the most basic human need. "Great adulting, Ted."

"Meow," Snickers, who had snuggled up in her warm place on the bed, called in reply.

"The kitchen?" Teddy said, turning to face the feline. "Are you serious?"

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