72. Getting Serious
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Thursday morning I woke up with some feelings of excitement and anticipation. I didn't know for sure we'd see Melanie and Cerys today, but I hoped we would. I wanted to know how everything went, and I was sure Cerys was going to be excited and happy now that she was completely healed and recovered from the concussion stuff.

Except I probably wouldn't get to see them until lunch, and that was assuming they actually did come to school today. Otherwise I'd have to wait till Friday lunch instead.

I checked my phone though, before getting out of bed. I was hoping maybe to see another message from the werewolf girls, but instead I found a couple posts on the group chat from Melody. She'd posted them a little after midnight, and I'd already been asleep by then.

"Got invited out by some friends last night for drinks at Potter's Tavern," the shape-shifter wrote. "We were on the bar side, sat at a hightop in the corner. Had a waiter named Ollie & I asked him about the haunting."

She continued, "Ollie was working last Sunday night, said there were some of those voices & whispers coming from the next table from where we were sitting. He also said another of their TVs stopped working on Monday. And Tuesday when they opened up, they found there'd been another little fire in the kitchen overnight."

"I'm on for Sunday night btw," Melody said in her final text from last night. "Looking forward to maybe seeing this stuff first-hand!"

All that was followed by a post from Paige, sent earlier this morning. "Thanks Melody, good job getting us more info."

There wasn't anything else interesting on my phone, so I finally got out of bed and started getting myself ready for school. Then like usual Kaylee joined me and Nina for the walk to school, and we talked a bit about Melody's texts. I had a feeling that'd be the main topic of conversation at lunch too.

My morning classes were ok, except one of them was gym so like usual I spent it in the library. Ms. Sutton didn't need any help with anything so I ended up spending about half my time reading. The other half I actually used to catch up on one of my overdue Creative Writing assignments.

I managed to get a bit carried away with that, so I was a few minutes late for lunch when the bell rang. When I got to the cafeteria I couldn't help smiling as I spotted Melanie and Cerys sitting together. Paige and Kaylee were there, and so was Nina. I hurried over to join them.

For once I didn't end up in between Kaylee and Nina. This time my little sister was sitting beside Melanie, who had Cerys very close to her on the other side. I ended up across from the newly-minted wolfgirl, with Kaylee next to me and Paige on the other side of the redhead.

"Hi Cerys, hi Melanie," I greeted the girls across from me, then I did a double-take as I finally noticed something.

Cerys looked different.

She used to be my height, almost exactly five-foot-two. She looked taller when she wore her ankle boots, but in sneakers she was the same height as me. Now she seemed taller. Not by much, but she'd maybe grown an inch overnight. It put her right about midway between my height and Melanie's.

The other thing I wasn't expecting was she appeared slimmer today. She'd always been curvier than me, maybe even bordering slightly on chunky. From what I could see she was now slim, but not skinny. The biggest difference was her waist, her behind, and her chest all seemed a bit smaller.

Even more noticeable than her height and weight was her hair. It was always a bright sunny blonde colour, but for the last two months it had been very short, and mostly hidden under a baseball cap. Now there was no hat, her hair was shoulder-length, rich and full and wavy. And it was a lot paler than before, but with a red tint to it. Like she'd gone from bright sunny blonde hair to pale strawberry blonde.

Her eyes were different too, they'd been blue-green before but now they were just pale green like all the blue had been drained out of them. And her skin had grown lighter, but a few faint freckles appeared on her cheeks. Her face was mostly the same as before, but there were some subtle differences there too. She'd gone from sort of cute and mischievous-looking to pretty but serious-looking.

Overall she was still recognizable as Cerys, I was sure nobody would question that. But when you looked up close, there were all those minor differences.

There was another difference I really wasn't expecting, and that was her mood. I thought she'd be happy or excited or something like that, but instead she seemed moody. She almost looked depressed. She was sitting so close to Melanie that their shoulders and thighs were touching, and she frequently leaned her head against her girlfriend or wrapped an arm around Melanie's waist.

After a couple seconds I realized it was like Cerys had no self-confidence, she was almost clinging to Melanie for support and seemed to need almost constant physical contact and reassurance.

"Hey Cass," the brunette wolfgirl responded to me.

Cerys added quietly, "Hi Cass."

"So we're obviously curious to know how you're doing?" Kaylee asked the new werewolf. "And if you don't mind talking about it, how did things go yesterday? Or Tuesday night?"

Melanie shook her head, "Sorry folks. I don't think either of us are ready to discuss it yet. All I'm going to say is things went about as well as I expected, and maybe we'll be ready to talk more in a few days."

I was positive when she said 'we' what she really meant was 'Cerys'. But I appreciated that Melanie wasn't putting her girlfriend on the spot like that. I wasn't sure if it was a wolf thing or just the sort of person she was, but either way she was obviously being protective and caring of her girlfriend.

Meanwhile Cerys sighed, and in a quiet voice that sounded like she was on the verge of tears she admitted "I didn't take Melanie's warnings as seriously as I should have... I didn't think it would be like that."

Kaylee sounded worried and sympathetic as she asked, "You're going to be ok though, right?"

"She'll be ok," Melanie replied for her girlfriend. "We both will. I went through this stuff when I was new, I'm helping Cerys with it now."

I gave the new wolf a supportive smile, "I'm glad she's looking out for you. If there's anything the rest of us can do to help though, just ask ok?"

"Thanks Cass," Cerys gave me a weak smile in return.

Then Paige made the right decision and changed the subject, "So I'm sure you've all seen Melody's posts from last night?"

There were a few nodds around the table, and Kaylee responded "One thing I've noticed, none of the reports we've heard of so far have mentioned seeing anything. No mists, no orbs, and unless I'm mistaken nobody's actually witnessed the events happen? Like the fires or broken dishes, that's all happened in isolation then been discovered afterwards. Right?"

Melanie pointed out, "I think the lights and TVs going on and off were witnessed? Same with the voices or whispering, people have heard that."

"Ah good point," the redhead frowned. "Except that raises some other questions? Whispering or voices implies communications. Not necessarily conversation, but if whatever we're dealing with is trying to talk then why haven't they tried other means? Why break plates when you can break a salt shaker, then leave a message in the spilled salt? Or same with the fires, they could write in the ashes."

Cerys was still sort of clinging to Melanie's side, but she quietly commented "Voices or communications don't fit with poltergeist activity either. Poltergeists are usually random violence or lashing out for the sake of attention. Like you said, voices implies communication, and that implies intelligence."

Paige asked, "So what are we thinking? It sounds like we're ruling out a poltergeist, does that mean we're back to a traditional haunting?"

"It's definitely not a traditional haunting," Kaylee stated. "It might be a haunting but it's weird. Hauntings don't start with violence. That might happen eventually, rarely, but there'd be a long slow build towards it, assuming the spirit was angry and other attempts at communication were ignored. This is acting weird."

I asked nervously, "Maybe it's the other thing you mentioned on Monday? Malevolent spirit?"

"I sure hope not," Kaylee sighed. "But you might be right Cass."

"Would that cover the whole building?" Melanie asked. "We're assuming it's happening in all four shops, right?"

The redhead shrugged, "We know for sure it's in the restaurant? We don't know for sure about the tea room. And I guess we have one vague report from the games store. We really need to talk to someone at the jewelry shop though, especially since they're direct neighbours to the tavern."

Paige shook her head, "You're not going to speak to anyone there. I found out why the place is closed when I was searching up recent news articles at that address. Mr. Parker had a heart attack in his store two weeks ago. He was taken to our local hospital, where he passed away a day later."

The next several seconds everyone at our table was silent.

Then Nina asked, "Could he be the one haunting the building?"

"According to our waitress Saturday night the haunting started before that. She said it was near the end of September," Melanie reminded my little sister.

Paige nodded, "Mr. Parker had his heart attack on October sixth and died on the seventh, so that was at least a week after the haunting started. It can't be him."

Meanwhile Kaylee looked uneasy, "I don't like this. If his store's haunted and it started as strong there as it's been in the tavern, whatever's doing the haunting could be responsible for his death. Something could have directly stopped his heart, or indirectly by scaring him to death."

"Crud," the brunette wolfgirl sighed. "So maybe it's the malevolent thing after all?"

We were all quiet for a bit as that sank in. Then Paige decided, "We need to deal with this ASAP. But we also need to be careful. Melody already said she'll be there for Sunday night, who else can get there?"

My little sister and I looked at each other, then I nodded "Me and Nina will be there."

"I'll be there," Melanie stated.

Cerys held her girlfriend a little tighter and added, "Me too."

Kaylee sighed, "I can't make it. I'm sorry."

"I probably can't make it either," Paige admitted. "Brooke said she'll try though. If Brooke's there I'll suggest she takes charge since she's the most experienced. Otherwise, I don't know? Cerys, if you're up to it maybe you can take the lead? Otherwise either Cass or Nina. Or Melanie, it's up to you folks."

I grimaced, "This whole thing just got a lot more serious, didn't it?"

Both Kaylee and Paige nodded quietly.

There wasn't much more to discuss after that. Paige posted an update to the group chat, so Brooke and Melody would know what we'd talked about and who was planning to meet Sunday night. Then we all finished our lunch in relative silence.

When it came time to head back to class Cerys was still sort of clinging to her girlfriend's side as we all left the cafeteria, and I found myself hoping the two of them were in the same classes this afternoon. From the look of it, the new wolf wasn't ready to be on her own just yet.

It turned out other students had also noticed the way the two of them were holding onto each other, and unfortunately we still had quite a few people around who didn't approve of same sex couples and weren't shy about voicing their opinions.

"I hate it when you freaks get all handsy with each other in public," some guy said as he scowled at the two werewolfs. "It's wrong and the rest of us shouldn't have to see that sort of thing."

I didn't know the guy's name but I was familiar with the type. He was one of those boys who's body matured way faster than his mind. Big, tall, and strong, he looked and acted like a typical bully. He didn't seem athletic though, so I doubted he was a jock.

"Shut it Steve," Melanie replied in a low warning tone. "I'm not in the mood for your lesbomisic BS."

I was surprised she actually knew his name, but I figured maybe she shared some classes with him or something. He wasn't in any of mine so he was probably in grade eleven, with my sister and the wolfgirls.

Steve just laughed and taunted, "What's got you so bitchy today? Must be that time of the month, huh?"

It turned out that was exactly the wrong thing to say to a werewolf who's girlfriend had a really rough first full moon.

Melanie planted her hand on the middle of the guy's chest, then gathered up a handful of his jacket into her fist. And in one smooth motion she picked him up and turned, then slammed his back into the nearest wall. His feet were a couple inches off the floor as he grabbed at her arm to try and get her to let go.

She kept him pinned there while she looked up at him and growled, "If you ever speak to me or my girlfriend again, you'll spend the rest of your life eating through a tube. Do you understand?"

It was an absolutely blatant demonstration of supernatural strength, and anyone else who was watching had to have noticed it. Considering Steve was at least five inches taller than her and at least sixty or seventy pounds heavier, there was literally no other way to explain it. Steve had to know it too, like he'd just been casually lifted off the ground by a five-foot-four hundred and ten pound girl. And she only used one hand to do it.

The guy's eyes were wide and his face completely pale, and I almost expected him to pee himself or something from how scared he looked. Instead he just gulped and stuttered, "Y-yes ma'am!"

Melanie let go of him and took a step back, while Cerys quickly moved to her girlfriend's side again. And they both watched Steve scurry away out of sight down the hall.

"That's probably going to get you in trouble," Paige commented with a sigh.

The wolfgirl shrugged, "Maybe. Be worth it though, if it means folks know not to mess with me or my girl."

I found myself nodding in agreement. I couldn't help be impressed, and I doubted I could ever do something that bold even if I did have supernatural strength. On the other hand I totally supported Melanie for it. Especially with Cerys being sort of vulnerable and everything after her first change.

"If teachers or anyone else gives you a hard time about it I'll support you," I told her. "He made queermisic and sexist comments, which are both against school policy."

Melanie smiled, "Thanks Cass. I'll keep that in mind."

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