Warnings: Slight AU
Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Spoilers: If you haven't seen the movie you're unlikely to be reading this. But still very few if any.
Synopsis: Edgar and Alan are less than pleased when a magic store opens up on the Boardwalk, but who are the newcomers to Santa Carla running the place, and what exactly are they hiding?
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15
Three serious faces stared across the table at Anthony. They all had the advantage of height, as the old man had calmly sat himself down before they began speaking, but somehow Edgar didn't get the impression that they were intimidating the old man as much as they should be.
Edgar stood at the front of the three, with Alan and Sam to each of his sides, only half a step further back. Anthony looked at each of them in turn, and then took a sip from the large coffee mug that he was cradling between the palms of his hands. “Surely you can see how silly this is. Sophie lost her own parents to this man, how could she possibly be responsible?”
Edgar shrugged in a way that said he didn't care about the details. The old man's calmness was irritating him. And no one called Edgar Frog 'silly' and got away with it. Silly was playing on the beach and giggling and games for kids. This was an accusation of murder. At the very least someone not believing him could call him ridiculous, or at best maybe outrageous. Silly was just... insulting. “Did you see the guy kill her parents?” he asked. “How do you know she didn't do it herself?”
Anthony shook his head. A tightness in his expression told Edgar that as calm as he might appear, he was getting to him. That was satisfying. Normally, he would try not to piss off the guy that could do magic, but he was past caring about anything at this point beyond bringing an end to the insanity that had invaded their lives.
“My granddaughter was six years old when her parents died. She was traumatized by it. And at the time, she couldn't access her magical abilities, just like you. That fact saved her life, and means that she can't possibly be guilty.”
Edgar grimaced internally at the mention of his own abilities, which as far as he was concerned were still completely theoretical. Outwardly, he kept his expression calm and unaffected. He refused to let these people get to him again.
“Well then, she saw what he could do and decided to learn it herself,” he suggested. “All I know is that she had info on my family that she couldn't possibly have had unless she was the one scrying on us.”
“But -” Anthony began, then broke off and looked at Alan in surprise. “The spell on you is gone,” he said.
Edgar glanced at Alan in relief, then frowned in confusion as his brother's expression morphed into worry. “What? That's a good thing. Means she's not scrying on us anymore.”
“It also means Anthony can't trace the spell.”
Edgar shrugged dismissively. “So what? We don't need to do that now we know who the warlock is.”
“But we don't know anything. That would have proved it.”
“You weren't there, Alan. You didn't hear what she said. Believe me, it's her.”
“But we don't know.”
Anthony's expression changed almost imperceptibly, but Edgar had trained himself well in observation, and he noticed a hint of amusement in the old man's eyes. He glared at Alan, grabbed him by the front of his shirt, and pulled him to the other side of the shop. “A word, Alan,” he muttered.
Sam watched, a little bemused at the display, then turned to Anthony, smiled nervously, and backed off a few steps.
Edgar forced Alan into the shelved area at the front of the store, hidden from view of the desk. A damned stupid layout for a shop. If someone decided to steal something from the shelves, they would probably escape without even being seen.
He released his grip on his brother's shirt and Alan backed away from him a few steps. Edgar advanced toward him. “What the hell?” he said in a whisper. “What happened to a united front? That's the way we play these things. We can't be arguing in front of the enemy.”
“He's not the enemy,” Alan said, speaking equally quietly.
“I don't care. We don't argue in front of friends, allies, enemies, customers or people on the street. That's not the way we do things. I know you're still not convinced, but I thought you understood the basic principles of convincing someone. What if when Sam had first come in the store, I'd tried to give him the vampire comics and you'd told him I was nuts? How do you think that would've turned out?”
Alan sighed and nodded.
“Good. So we'll get your proof sooner or later, but we need the old guy on side first. Okay?”
“Okay,” Alan whispered.
Edgar held out a hand, and his brother grasped it quickly. They let go. The Frog equivalent of a hug. Anything more than that was saved for the really really special occasions. Or when they thought they were going to die.
“So, follow my lead?” Edgar said.
Anthony looked up as they emerged from the shelves, and Sam moved back to his original position closer to the desk.
“Did Sophie know about the tracing spell?” Sam asked as they approached. “That'd be proof, wouldn't it? If she took it off so she wouldn't be caught.”
Edgar glanced at his friend approvingly. “I knew there was a reason we brought you along, Sammy.”
Sam smiled, and Edgar turned to his brother, checking his reaction. Alan, in turn, looked at Anthony, waiting for an answer to the question.
Anthony frowned in concern and if Edgar looked hard enough, he was sure that he could almost see the thoughts running through his head as he tried to decide how to answer the question. Before he even opened his mouth to reply, Edgar knew that the answer was yes. Whether or not that was the response he gave would tell Edgar whether the old man truly was their friend, or their enemy.
“Yes,” said the old practitioner finally. “She helped with the preparation.”
“Which brings us back to my original question,” Edgar said. His hand clenched into a fist and he leaned for ward in a way that he hoped was intimidating. It had always appeared that way when he practiced in front of the mirror. “Where is she now?”
Under any other circumstances, Edgar might feel sorry for Anthony. The old man had the look of someone whose entire world was collapsing around him. But Edgar stood unflinching, staring at him as he waited for his answer. Edgar knew the feeling well, and he had Anthony and his magic shop to thank for that. But either he was a very good actor, or he truly had no idea of what had been happening under his nose.
“It can't be Sophie,” Anthony said hesitantly. He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then nodded to himself. “Before she left, she asked me how I know the murderer and the spell caster are the same person. What if they aren't? Sophie may be responsible for the scrying spell, and she removed it because she thought I'd find out and assume she was the murderer.”
Edgar caught Sam's attention and rolled his eyes. It was something he would normally do with Alan, but as his brother was slowly nodding as though he was being convinced, he didn't think there would be any point trying.
“I taught her some scrying spells recently,” Anthony added. “I told her to practice them. Maybe that was all she was doing.”
“Where is she?” Alan asked. He spoke gently, in stark contrast to Edgar's interrogatory tone.
Anthony looked at him for a moment, as though deciding whether to answer, “She went to school,” he said finally. “She went upstairs to get some -” he paused. “She was burning sage in her room,” he said suddenly, as though it was significant.
Alan's eyes widened in understanding, and he turned to Edgar. “That's when she did it,” he explained. “She was breaking the spell on me.”
Edgar gave his brother a sharp look but refrained from commenting on his magical knowledge. After all, not so long ago he had been encouraging him to remember it.
“How did I miss that?” Anthony wondered. “I saw her, I suspected what she was doing, and then she told me a lie and I believed it.”
Sam raised a hand as though giving an answer in class. “I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it might have something to do with magic.”
“I – I have to check her room,” Anthony said. His voice trembled slightly as the certainty of her innocence crumbled a little further. He got to his feet slowly, resting his weight on the hefty wooden desk as he did, then he turned and walked out of the room, pushing the separating curtain aside as he did. Walking through, his shoulder banged against the door frame. He staggered slightly, but didn't stop walking. A slightly dazed man on a mission.
Edgar, Alan and Sam watched him go. They waited in silence, glancing at one another, no one sure what they should do. The stairs creaked under the weight of Anthony's footsteps. Another few seconds of waiting, and then at the same time, all three ran around the desk, through the door, and charged after him.
Alan reached the top of the stairs first and headed toward the only open door. Edgar chased closely after him with Sam following just behind him. Edgar tried to overtake his brother and take the lead, he was the leader, after all; his place should be at the front of the charge. Alan ignored his efforts to overtake, and beat him to the open door. He came to a full stop, blocking the entrance to the room with his body, one hand placed on either side of the door frame, preventing Edgar from entering.
Edgar tried to contain his frustration as he peered over Alan's shoulder. The air in the room was thick with a strange odor, a mixture of recently extinguished candles and something Edgar couldn't identify. The herb Anthony said she had been burning, perhaps.
Her room was an almost identical copy of Alan's in its size and location within the house. The buildings down the boardwalk had apparently been built together and to similar design. But the similarities ended there. Alan's room, just like his own, had been stamped with his personality. The shelves were full of his things, boxes of comics, books, even a few old toys that he hadn't been able to bring himself to throw out. Sophie's room was empty of everything but the basics.
Anthony was crouching on the ground a the far side of the room, just to the left of the window that overlooked the boardwalk. His knees were resting on a large black cushion which had been placed in front of a raised piece of wood. It appeared to be a single shelf, half a foot or so off of the ground. It looked unimpressive, but from the objects placed on it it was obvious that it had some kind of magical significance. Edgar's eyes widened. Maybe not so basic after all.
It contained candles, small ornaments presumably representing something he didn't understand, and the strangest looking cup he had ever seen outside of a horror movie; made of silver or something that looked like silver, it was ornate, decorated with something he couldn't make out from that distance. He half expected that if he looked inside, it would be filled with blood. More than half, actually. Pushed to the side, next to one another, were two glass jars, half filled with dirty looking liquid, each with a melted candle fused to the lid.
“It's her altar,” Alan explained in a whisper.
Sam peered over his other shoulder to get a better look, while Edgar made an attempt to push Alan out of the way and gain access to the room.
Alan turned and blocked him. “Give him a minute,” he said.
For a long time, Anthony remained crouching very still on the ground, leaning forward toward the altar, carefully examining every item without touching them. Edgar tapped his foot impatiently, ignoring Alan's attempts to silence him, but the old man was too fixated on his task to notice.
“Hey,” Edgar called eventually. “I know she's your granddaughter and all, but can you hurry up and decide if she's evil so we can do something about it?”
He heard Alan sigh pointedly, and ignored him. Anthony slowly turned around to look at them, as though he had genuinely not realized until now that they were there. His expression was a mixture of confusion, hurt and betrayal. “I don't know,” he said.
That was a huge leap up from outright denial that it was possible. Edgar remained silent as he waited for more.
“There's nothing here to prove she had killed anyone. I really don't think she... but the spells she has cast here are...” He stopped, and massaged the skin of his face with the fingertips of one hand, shaking his head as he did. “The spells she has been casting here, they're not good ones. I don't understand it. How long has she been doing this?”
“Does it matter?” Edgar asked. He gave Alan's shoulder another shove, this time he relented and allowed him entry int the room. Sam followed, Alan hung back for a second longer before he, too crossed into the bedroom.
“I don't know,” Anthony said. “I suppose it doesn't, it's just...” he broke off, shaking his head in disbelief and tried to get to his feet. He struggled. There came a time in every man's life when sitting on the floor just wasn't an option anymore. Anthony had long since passed that point. Sam offered him an arm, and the old man gratefully accepted the assistance.
Edgar stepped around them and stared nervously at the magical altar in the corner of the girl's room. It was so blatant, it wasn't even hidden from view; anyone that walked in, that would be the first thing they saw. Her grandfather should have known. But then, he would expect her to have something like that. Hell, he probably bought it for her.
“So can I assume you're willing to believe us now?” Edgar asked
Anthony shook his head. “I can't believe she would kill anyone.”
Edgar grimaced in irritation and turned around to look at Alan. “What about you? Convinced?”
Alan's eyes flicked between his brother, the old man, and the altar where the spell on him had most likely been cast, and nodded.
“Alright,” Sam said. “We've got our bad guy. The question is, what do we do about her?”
Silence descended on the room as they looked at one another, hoping that someone would come up with a solution.
“I have to talk to her,” Anthony insisted. “One of the spells on the altar has been cast on me. It's an influence spell, that explains why I didn't remember seeing her break the spell on Alan. So I need someone else in the room when I speak to her, in case she tries to use it again.” He took a long, deep breath and looked Edgar in the eye. “I know you think her guilt is obvious, but you don't know her like I do. There's probably an explanation for everything, I just need to tell her what we know, and find out what it is.”
Edgar stared straight back at him thoughtfully, then shook his head. “If she's been messing with your head, we can't trust anything you do or say.” He turned away Anthony and back to Alan and Sam. “We can't kill her,” he said. “As much as I want to. It's not like staking a vampire.”
“We could go to the police.” Sam suggested. Edgar and Alan fixed him with an incredulous stare. He shrugged. “Or not.”
“We'd need proof,” Alan explained. “We don't have anything that would make them believe us. They'd laugh us out of the police station and then let her go. Actually, they wouldn't have to let her go, we don't even have enough for them to bring her in.”
Sam pointed at the altar. “What about that? Isn't that proof?”
“Yeah,” said Edgar. “It's proof that the girl from the magic store does magic. Big surprise. Much as I wish it was illegal, it's not. We can't prove what she was doing with it, and even if we could, no one would believe it.”
Anthony strode purposefully past Edgar and planted himself firmly between him and Alan. He shook his head. “We can't prove anything to the police, but I know what she has been doing; she has been casting some questionable spells, but nothing here suggests that she killed anyone.” He paused, and fixed Edgar with a hard stare. “Even if we did know it, we are certainly not going to kill my granddaughter.”
“Hey,” Edgar held up his hands in mock surrender. “I'm the one that said no killing, remember? But we do need another plan. Even if you still don't believe us, you know something's wrong, right?”
“Is there any way you could break the spell on you, Anthony?” Alan asked.
Anthony shook his head. “It's not active at the moment. I imagine she only uses it when she feels that she needs to. But only the one who cast a spell can break it. There is a way that we can weaken it, but Sophie is strong. Weakening it may not prevent it from being effective.”
“Try it anyway,” Edgar instructed.
Sam glanced at the altar again. “Edgar, if you're sure the cops are werewolves and ghouls, they must believe in magic,” he said. “If they don't, Anthony can prove it exists easily enough. I guess then we'd have to make sure they know it's Sophie that's the bad guy, not Anthony, but surely they'll realize that if he comes with us to report it...”
Edgar shook his head dismissively and paced the room once, quickly, eying the altar with distaste as he passed. He turned to Anthony. “How long do we have before she gets home?”
Anthony shrugged helplessly. “She went to school,” he said.
“She said she went to school.” Edgar corrected. “She could be back any time now. We need to think fast. What do you normally do with witches that have gone bad? It must happen. Don't you have some kind of a system? Even vampires have a hierarchy, there must be some higher-ups you can go to with this.”
Anthony nodded. “There is. But even for the spells I've found, she would be put to death.”
“Well, maybe it's just because she put a spell on my brother and she wants to kill up both, but I don't have a problem with that,” Edgar told him.
Sam frowned. “You said you didn't want to kill her.”
“Me? No. But if the big boss warlocks want to, that's not a problem for me.”
Anthony took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “No,” he said. “Absolutely not. She's my family. I can't hand her over to them.”
Edgar's eyes narrowed, “Well, luckily, none of us have that problem. Tell me where to find them and I'll drag her there myself.”
The practitioner's expression suddenly grew grave, he shook his head. “I can't tell you that. Not only for Sophie's sake, for your own as well. I accept that you want nothing to do with magic. I don't understand it, but I accept it. There are others whose radar you do not want to be on.”
Edgar stared at the old man for a full thirty seconds as his mind raced through the implications behind his words. He had said nothing specific, it may just be hints at something untrue designed to change his mind, but he couldn't take the risk. He simply couldn't let magic any further into his life than he already had. Even if Sophie had been telling the truth; even if to deny it meant...
“But what else can we do?” Alan asked, interrupting his chain of thought.
Anthony took a breath to answer, but Edgar pulled himself back into the present just in time to cut him off before he could reply and answer for him.
“Nothing,” he said. “There's nothing else we can do. Anthony has to go to the boss warlocks. It's that, or keep her prisoner here forever.” He turned to the old man and shook his head, “And there's no way I'm letting you do that. I refuse to live in the same street as an insane murderer who'll probably escape and start looking for revenge. And by the way, gramps, I bet you'd be the first one she'd go after.”
Anthony walked to the window overlooking the boardwalk, and looked outside. He took a deep breath and released it as a long, sad sigh. “There is one other thing I can do. I need to prepare some things.”
“What kind of things?” Edgar asked suspiciously.
“Things for a spell.” Anthony said. “It will take about two hours to prepare. In the meantime, I have a task you will enjoy. I need you to dismantle the spells Sophie has set up. Just take everything apart. That will weaken the spells, hopefully enough to prevent her using them.”
Sam frowned and exchanged glances with both of the brothers. “Do we have two hours? I mean, even if she has gone to school, which I doubt, she'll be back before then. And if she's gone somewhere else she could be home any second. What are we going to say when she gets in? 'Hi Sophie, don't mind us, we're just laying in wait while your grandpa makes a spell to...' what is the spell going to do anyway?”
“It will be quicker if someone helps me,” Anthony said. He looked at Alan, who immediately broke eye contact and became instantly fascinated by the paintwork on the bedroom wall.
As soon as he noticed what was happening, Edgar stepped forward. He didn't place himself directly in front of his brother, but moved far enough into Anthony's line of vision to make his presence more conspicuous. He folded his arms.
“Just a bit of weighing and measuring,” Anthony added. “No magic involved.”
Before anyone could come to a decision, he turned and left the room. In the silence that had descended, his footsteps sounded loudly on the stairs.
Alan cleared his throat. “I guess, if it'll speed things up...”
Edgar turned to look at him. “You're going to do it no matter what I say, aren't you?”
“No, but I think...”
Edgar took a deep breath and exhaled in a loud sigh. He raised one hand in one of their hunting signals. It meant be quiet, and Alan responded instinctively to the well practiced command. “Fine. Go. But be careful.”
Alan nodded a promise that he would, and then followed the old man out of the room.
“Find out what he's planning,” Edgar called after him. Alan waved a hand in the air without turning around, and Edgar listened to the sound of his boots running down the stairs. He slumped against the wall, “I don't trust that guy. Why won't he just believe us?”
“Well, we're telling him his granddaughter's a murderer,” Sam said. “Did you think he'd just accept that?”
Edgar stared at the magical altar with its strange equipment. “I really hate magic,” he muttered.
Sam shrugged and looked at the altar too. He smiled. “Well, now you get to smash some up.”