Wassail: an expression of good wishes on a festive occasion, especially in drinking to someone
“Where are we bloody going?” asked Devin as he walked arm-in-arm with his sister. On Sarah's other side Paul walked with her hand in his and judging by the looks they were getting, people were taking it the wrong way.
He didn't care though. It was hard enough for him to get out of their apartment since he'd had no choice but to move in with them. It was annoying, painful, and embarrassing, but he couldn't stand to be away from Sarah at the moment. Even three months after his...ordeal...and he still broke into shakes when she wasn't close by.
And walking close to her, shoulders touching and her arm tucked tightly into his, was the only way he could go out in public.
Sarah smiled up at him and answered, “To celebrate!”
Devin wrinkled his brow at that. “And just what are we celebrating?” he inquired. “Apparently I missed the memo.”
“Your recovery,” replied his sister in a tone that said she'd thought it was obvious. “After this month's moon -”
“Ah,” interrupted Devin in a terse voice. He then saw her expression fall and winced, shifting a little closer to her. “I'm sorry, Sar. I don't...I don't have your faith in me for being cured.”
I know better, he added quietly to himself. It had been agony trying to hold back the transformation that had wanted to take over every full moon for the past months. He had never even considered that that part of the werewolf lore was true until he'd met Niamh. And then she'd turned him into the same monster.
“Dev,” he heard Paul say, breaking him out of his thoughts, “your claws are showing.”
Devin looked down at that and clenched his free hand to hide the black claws that had pushed up underneath his fingernails. He was so numb to pain now that he hadn't even felt it.
Closing his eyes, he sucked in a deep, slow breaths to calm his heart. The second Niamh had entered his thoughts it had sped up in response to a rush of fear, anger, and – he was loath to admit it almost – need.
Even after all she'd done, part of him still wanted her, still loved her even. Which made the fear and anger all the worse.
“Thanks,” he said once the claws had slid back into place and he wiped from from his healing nails onto his dark jeans. Paul just nodded in return and they continued on in silence until they arrived at the pub.
Devin balked at the door, pulling their little group to a halt, and his sister's hand found his. He looked down at Sarah's reassuring smile and tried to smile back despite not feeling it. Then he drew in a shuddering breath before saying, “Now or never, right?”
Sarah's smile was blinding. Over her head Devin and Paul shared a look, their long friendship enabling them to silently communicate.
They both knew full well that Devin wasn't cured and that he never would be really. For her, though, they'd both pretend.
Inside the pub they found a relatively quiet corner table and Devin settled himself in the corner itself. Sarah's knee touched his where she sat to his right and Paul ended up almost directly across from him. They ordered their usual drinks and sat in comfortable silence until they arrived.
Sarah lifted her glass, full of a fruity, red-shaded concoction, and beamed the two of them. “To Dev, my favorite little brother,” she began.
“And only,” piped Devin with a laugh as he curled his fingers around his glass of Guinness. She kicked him playfully under the table and they shared a laugh.
“Who I love dearly,” continued Sarah, “and wish only the best. May your troubles be few from now on and you no longer pick up women that hurt you.”
“Hear, hear,” said Paul, lifting his smaller glass of Glenfiddich to clink against Sarah's.
Devin shook his head then lifted his glass to touch the edge against both of theirs.
“To my sister and my best friend,” he intoned seriously, “savers of my life and sanity.”
Paul chuckled. “I'll drink to that.”
“Me too,” agreed Sarah as her other hand found his under the table. That made him smile and he squeezed her fingers warmly in return.
Devin then closed his eyes and sipped his beer, smiling as he reveled in the well wishes spoken and the presence of those who accepted him despite all mistakes. They would die for each other if need be.
And that's what made them family.