Written with @AelonRhiadra
Dean returned just in time to spend the moon with Ella and Dex, not seeing Charlie at home, but since she normally spent it elsewhere that’s not a huge surprise. They hunted as a pack, with Dex on 2 feet trying to be stealthy, returning home with the dawn to curl up as a pack and sleep off the change. Later that morning though, Dean woke. Charlie still wasn’t home. There was no message from her on wristcom, no sign she’s been home in days. Ella seeming somewhat more cheerful than usual, he also thought something felt off, faintly, in the place he’s felt things from his twin before.
He was starting to sense that Ella might have done something and he really hoped he was wrong as he approached his love, voice strong with authority as he asked “Where is Charlie?”
“Oh, she’s probably still up at the falls, in that hut you had her build…. I told her to spend the moon there…” Ella’s studied innocence didn’t fool Dean, not with what he was feeling from Charlie. He tried to send a wristcom message but hers was turned off, so unlike her. He didn’t ask more of Ella, simply got into the car and drove straight to the falls.
Charlie had done a good job with the lodge, the clay layer thicker than he’d expected but it was a solid construction. He felt proud as he approached, until he felt the discomfort, exhaustion and weakness of his twin from inside the hut as he drew close. He saw the leather flap weighted down with rocks, keeping her trapped within, in her weakened state; he knew then, that Ella had definitely not done as he’d asked. The pile of extra leather outside the lodge was a lot more than there should have been. Charlie’s wristcom message asking if it was a prank beginning to make sense, he removed the rocks, and opened the flap. He heard her stomach growl angrily as his eyes adjusted to the dark within. He saw her lay on the ground, totally spent, her body showing signs of the struggle to return to human form, without the energy to heal from it, lay on a pile of shed fur instead of absorbing it as normal. Deep bruising all over her body showed where her limbs had twisted and reshaped, and across her chest where her bones had stretched back into their normal size. She is unconscious, but stirs at his touch, groaning weakly. He gently picks her up and carries her to the car, strapping her in and driving her home, muttering soothing things to her as he does. She does not wake. Home, and he gets out of the car, aflame with rage, he calls Ella to come and explain what she did.
Ella quickly swallowed her shock at Charlie’s condition, explaining she only meant to punish her a little for all the suffering she’d caused, let her feel some of what she herself had suffered as LORNA had rampaged. She explained she’d made the challenge greater by increasing the number of things to collect, and had told Charlie she was to fast a few extra days. She didn’t think it would hurt. Maybe telling Charlie she had to fight the change was a bit too much…. Dean growled in rage and his staff was in his hands without him actively calling it. He angrily barked out a spell, and Ella was once again changing into her wolf. Dean attached a collar around her neck, a leash, and fastened her outside the house. He told her that she would be in that shape until he decided to release her, but for now, he had to tend to his sister. And if she had accelerated her personality changes, he would never forgive her.
Ella cringed and whined, but Dean ignored her, picked up his sister and carried her to bed, made a broth to feed her, adding herbs and magic to help strengthen her and encourage her body to heal. He woke her once it was ready and spoon fed her, before stroking her hair and encouraging her to rest. The broth showing itself to be working quickly as her bruises yellowed and began to fade, He started a second batch to feed her again when she awoke.
He walked outside and into his spot on the lawn, ignoring Ella as he meditated and tried to control his rage. When he opened his eyes, she was still there, collar and leash on her. Still nursing some of the rage, he turned towards her and said “You’re lucky she is still alive. When will you finally come to your senses and realize she’s still paying for what she’s done? You need to learn how to forgive people.”