Author's note: This story is dedicated to the Fabulous Ms F, my Dark Shadows viewing partner. We have been slowly working our way through the DVD collections, binge watching during breaks in our respective academic schedules. The first time Ms F saw Maggie with Quentin's ghost, she wanted more. Finding a paucity of fan fic about the two, she asked me to write one. It started small and grew until it took way more time than I intended. Ms F—here it is at last. Thanks for your advice and ideas.
Also, I want to acknowledge the Dark Shadows Wiki, a wonderful resource for all things DS.
A storm breaks over the Great House at Collinwood. Dawn has vanquished the remaining clouds of a thunderous and wild night. For one young woman, morning's light belies the dark secrets embodied by the house. Maggie Evans has come to the great estate to start over. She has come to begin a career as governess to the two children of the household. And she has come knowing only the contours of the mysterious house, but not the details of the lives, loves, and tragedies of the Collins family.
Little does she know that the Collinwood estate lies at the tenuous intersection of the past and the present. Nor does she know that one member of the Collins family, himself a man out of his own time, has undertaken a perilous journey to the past. His actions ripple across time and Maggie will soon find herself caught in one of these eddies, unsure how to break free.
That man, Barnabas Collins, is seeking an answer to a mysterious curse. The curse has afflicted a young man, Chris Jennings—a resident of the Collinwood estate, and a friend and protégé of Barnabas. Each full moon brings the curse to deadly fruition, and traps the young man in the form of a deadly, mindless beast.
Barnabas feels deep empathy for the young man whose plight is much like his own—for he too was once the victim of a terrible curse—a curse that changed his very nature and caused him to do despicable things. So he has taken it upon himself to help Chris Jennings. On the night of each full moon, he has locked the young man in a secret room in the Collins family mausoleum, and allowed him to turn from man to beast, from Chris Jennings to a werewolf, in a place where he can do no harm to anyone else.
But Barnabas has done more than just shelter his friend; he has sought a cure to the curse. He knows from experience that a curse can be cured. But his efforts were in vain. The practitioners who cured Barnabas offered no solutions to the werewolf curse.
The morning following the recent full moon, when Barnabas returned to the mausoleum, he found his friend trapped in his werewolf form, unable to transform back into Chris Jennings. In desperation, Barnabas turned to an old foe—the sorceress, Angelique …
Barnabas placed the candles on the mantelpiece, stood before the fireplace in the drawing room of the Old House, and summoned her. "Hear me Angelique. Hear me and come to me." He waited and then renewed his plea, "Hear me Angelique. Come to me. Come to me, I implore you."
Angelique materialized in the drawing room. Her blond curls bounced in the firelight as she threw her head back and laughed. "So Barnabas, you've called for me at last."
His demeanor was humble. "I am calling on you for your help."
"Are you indeed?" she replied in haughty amusement. "The great Barnabas Collins needs my help?" She turned and paced away from him, "Tell me Barnabas, what do you want of me?" Turning back, she noticed that the portrait of her long-ago rival, Josette DuPres, still hung over the fireplace. A cloud of envy and contempt passed over her features.
"There's a young man afflicted by a terrible curse. I have searched in vain for a cure to his affliction …"
"And you thought, perhaps Angelique will help me."
"I thought no one but Angelique can help me," he responded.
"Barnabas, you flatter me." Today she appeared to him as a woman from the present in a trim green suit with matching pumps, and gold accessories. "Really, Barnabas, why do you care about these petty human concerns? Surely, you and I transcend such matters."
"You forget—I too am human now."
"I can hardly forget, Barnabas, for you could not summon me in this way if you were still cursed," she said.
"Name your price, Angelique," he looked down, disconsolate. "I am prepared to pay it."
She looked at him for a long moment, as though considering what price to ask. But what did he have to offer. Perhaps if he were immortal still, there would a price worth exacting, a price worth having. Instead she asked reasonably, "And what do you know of this curse? Who placed the curse on him and why?"
Barnabas looked confused, "I don't know."
"Perhaps he deserves it," she said. "Perhaps he seduced a young woman, allowed her to fall in love with him, and then revealed that his heart would always belong to another," she added, bitterness in her voice.
Barnabas sighed. "Angelique, this is nothing like what happened between us."
"But by your own admission Barnabas, you don't know."
"Angelique, he is trapped in his werewolf form, locked up like an animal. He has a young sister, and my cousin Carolyn is in love with him—they have no idea what's become of him." He pleaded, "Please Angelique, if you don't help me …"
"I didn't say I wouldn't help," Angelique smiled as she said this.
"Then you'll lift the curse?"
Now Barnabas allowed some frustration to infuse his entreaties. "Well, will you or won't you? Speak plainly."
"I will, but first you must find out the origin of the curse, who placed it, and why."
"How? Chris has no idea, and even if he did, he's in no condition to tell me. Where am I to look?"
"As to that, I am prepared to help you—with these." She reached in the pocket of her suit jacket and produced a small velvet drawstring bag, and handed it to him.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Open it," Angelique smiled in anticipation. Barnabas opened the bag, and looked at Angelique with a question on his face. "I Ching wands," she told him. "With them, you will travel to the origin of the curse, then I will know how to lift it, and you will know whether you still want me to do so."
Barnabas held the wands in his hand, and considered whether or not to trust the sorceress. "How are they used?"
"I will guide you in their use, Barnabas, but it is your own will and concentration that will guide you to the answers you seek."
Barnabas examined the wands in silence, his eyebrows drawn together. Then he said to Angelique, "I need to talk this over with Julia."
Deep dimples underscored Angelique's knowing smile, "By all means, Barnabas. When you've made up your mind, you may summon me again." With that, she was gone.
Even after months of working at the great estate at Collinwood, as governess to young David Collins and the Collins' ward, Amy Jennings, Maggie felt she would never get used to the rambling mansion. It was so at odds with the cottage by the sea that she shared with her father for most of her life, prior to her employment here. Still after so many months, she found the night-noises disconcerting. She rarely achieved the kind of peaceful sleep she enjoyed at the cottage.
Maggie woke with a start. The window was closed, but a cool breeze whispered across her face. She sat up. Her hand went to her chest.
He stood there—a mere apparition—the ghost of a man from the past. His clothes, his strange sideburns, the pocket-watch, everything about him marked him as a man out of time, but his eyes—those eyes and the look in them were unbound by time.
"Who are you?" Maggie cried in a shrill voice. "What do you want?"
He said nothing, but his magnetic eyes locked on hers. He searched her face hungrily. Maggie felt the color rise in her cheeks. He … it took a step closer to the bed. "Don't come any closer," Maggie implored him. She pulled the sheet up to cover her bare shoulders and décolletage. "What do you want from me?"
He said nothing, but he smiled and his eyes conveyed his desire.
"No … please …" Maggie cried out. She felt the room spin around her, as she collapsed back among the pillows.
When Maggie woke she found Carolyn sitting on her bed, holding her hand. "Maggie, are you alright? I was so worried." Carolyn's blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, revealing her worried face.
Maggie slowly came to sitting—her hair tussled, her pink baby-doll nightgown slightly askew. "Worried?" She was confused. "Carolyn, what are you doing here?"
"You cried out in your sleep," Carolyn told her. "Your face was so pale, and your hands are so cold."
Maggie's hand went reflexively to her chest again. Her dark eyes were wide with fear. "Carolyn, I had that dream again."
"What dream, Maggie?"
"This man … he comes to me in my dreams … every night lately. He just stands there looking at me." Now her words came out in a rush, "He's wearing these old-fashioned clothes, like he's from another time. And each night he gets closer and closer, but he never speaks. He wants something from me, Carolyn."
"You mean something besides the obvious," Carolyn laughed to lighten the heavy mood.
"Well, look at you!"
"I'm being serious."
"I know you are," Carolyn responded. "And I didn't mean to make fun of you. It's just that it doesn't sound so very bad."
"No, I guess not … it's just that it's so real. I feel his presence as though he's really here. I've never felt anything like it before."
"Would you like me to stay tonight?" Carolyn asked.
Maggie smiled for the first time since she woke. "Thanks Carolyn, but you should try to get some sleep. I'm sorry I woke you. With everything that's going here, the last thing you need to worry about is me and my silly dreams. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure? I don't mind—really I don't."
"Thanks, but I'll be fine. I think I'll stay up and read for awhile—and I'll leave the light on."
Carolyn gave Maggie a brief hug, and then left the room, closing the door behind her.
Rachel Drummond sat in the tri-part seat in the drawing room of Collinwood, holding a book, looking as if she was reading. In truth, she'd read not a single page for the last half hour. Instead, she followed the tributaries and eddies of her thoughts about the strange house she now called home, and its strange inhabitants and acquaintances.
She'd come to Collinwood hoping for nothing more than to escape her past, and the abuse she'd suffered from the Trasks, a family of righteous hypocrites who ran the boarding school where she'd grown up and later served as a teacher. She'd been bullied, coerced, threatened until she finally found the courage to break free. It was Edward Collins and his advertisement for a governess for his children that gave her a chance for freedom and happiness. It gave her the chance to educate and nurture her young charges in a safe and happy environment—in a home.
And while she still believed that Collinwood was her salvation, it was far from the safe and happy environment she envisaged when she wrote in application to Mr. Collins. It was true that the children, Jamison and Nora, were loved both by their father and by an extended family that lived in the sprawling mansion. It was equally true that the mansion held dark secrets within its walls and corridors. No one was untouched by them; no one was immune. Even Rachel herself, within a few short days of arriving there, had been ensnared by the secret in the tower room.
The drawing room door opened and Quentin Collins strode in. "Miss Drummond," he said authoritatively, "what are you doing in here?" he demanded as he closed the doors behind him.
Flustered and surprised, Rachel closed the book and hastily got to her feet. "Mr. Edward and Miss Judith are in Collinsport this evening. I took the liberty of reading here because the fire is lit, and it's warmer than my room." Patches of pink stained her cheeks, as though she were a guilty schoolgirl caught in a lie.
Quentin eyed her seriously for a moment, and then broke into a hearty laugh. "Really Rachel, you should know me better than that by now. Sit down." She returned to her seat, but left the book closed. He turned and went to liquor cabinet and drew out a decanter full of deep amber liquid, and two glasses. "I'm having a brandy. Care to join me."
"No thank you, Mr. Collins. I wouldn't presume to …"
He cut her short, "No, of course you wouldn't. Maybe you should though—just this once, see how it feels to be a little bad." Glass in hand, he sat beside her in the tri-part seat. "I suspect there's a little bad, even in you Rachel," he purred into her ear.
This time, Rachel flushed all the way to the roots of her hair. "Mr. Collins," she began.
"Quentin," he said forcefully. "I asked you to call me Quentin."
She looked down still feeling flushed and embarrassed. "You know I can't do that, and you know why." She turned and met his gaze.
He smiled what he hoped would be his most seductive smile, and returned, "I know you won't, and I know why."
Just then there was an oh-so-brief knock on the door before it opened and Beth said, "Quentin? I thought I heard your voice." Then noticing Rachel in the second part of the seat, she caught herself. "I didn't think …"
"No," he said harshly, "you never do where I'm concerned. But you're here now. Why don't you get a glass of brandy and join us? What a handsome trio we'll make."
Rachel was surprised to see Beth head to the liquor cabinet and fill the second glass. Seeing this, she rose and turned to Quentin, "I'll leave you now. Goodnight Beth. Goodnight Mr. Collins."
Just as she reached the door, Quentin said, "Oh, Rachel?" She turned back to face him. "Tomorrow, I'll see what we can do about making your room more comfortable."
"Thank you Mr. Collins," she said, and left, closing the door behind her. And for the first time, he saw something in her that he'd not noticed before. She was the same shy governess she'd always been, but for the first time recognized something deeper at work there too. Perhaps Beth's bold-faced presumptions made the contrast clear. Rachel Drummond for whatever she'd been through was clear-eyed, dignified and strong. While she'd been embarrassed by his familiar addresses to her, she demonstrated more poise than one would expect from an inexperienced governess. She'd be no man's easy conquest.
As though reading his thoughts, Beth said, "You should stay away from her. She could lose her job, if she gets mixed up with you."
"Speaking from experience? Yet, here you are. Why exactly are you still here, Beth? If I were so bad, surely you'd welcome getting away from me. I'm sure my sister will give you a good reference and you can find work somewhere else."
"Oh, Quentin, why do you say those things to me?" She whined plaintively. "You know how much I care for you."
"Really? Prove it. Tell me why you're really here. Tell me the secret that Judith and Edward are keeping from me."
When Beth took a sip of brandy, Quentin thought that she was steeling herself to tell him the truth. Instead she said, "Please Quentin, you know I can't …"
He stood so quickly he startled her. He downed the rest of his drink and slammed the empty glass on top of the cabinet. In a few long strides he was at the door. He turned to where she sat, tears welling up in her eyes. "Do you know what I like about Rachel Drummond?" He didn't pause expecting an answer. "She's straightforward."
Now Beth recovered herself enough to say, "That's rich coming from you." She laughed bitterly and threw back the last of her brandy. "Do you think that someone like her could love you the way I do?" she spat out bitterly. "She wouldn't even give you the time of day if your name wasn't Collins."
"It doesn't really matter, because I'm not looking for that from Rachel, but it pleases me to spend time with someone like her. It's refreshing." With that he turned and opened the doors, preparing to leave. "Oh, and Beth, I wouldn't let dear Judith return to find you sipping her brandy. No matter what secret of hers you're keeping, I don't think she'll tolerate that from the help." With that he strode out of the drawing room and up the stairs.
Later that night, Rachel was alone in her room. These were the times that were most difficult for her. At least at the Trask's boarding school, Worthington Hall, she had Tim, an old friend and fellow teacher, to confide in, or even Charity, the Trask's "pious" schoolteacher daughter to bicker with. But here at Collinwood, there was no one. She and Beth were about the same age, but Beth saw her as a rival for Quentin's attention, and more than that, Beth continued to lie to her about the strange light in the tower room. Rachel found herself drawn to her bedroom window. From it, she could barely make out a thin slice of the tower room. The times when she saw the light clearly, she was on the terrace or in the garden. Both Beth and Judith Collins emphatically told her she'd been mistaken. And she wanted to believe them, but she knew what she saw. If being right meant losing her job and going back to Worthington Hall, she'd rather go along with the lie. Right now, the thin sliver of the tower looked dark and still. Leaving her dressing gown at the foot of her bed, Rachel slid into the bedding, closed her eyes, and willed sleep to come.
She dozed in and out of a fitful sleep. Dreams of the tower room lit up in the night sky, accompanied by peals of strange laughter punctuated her attempts. Then she smelled something odd. What is it, her sleepy mind wondered. Smoke. Smoke!
She sprang from her bed, grabbing her dressing gown, and ran down the hall toward the family quarters. Was no one about? Did Judith and Edward stay the night in Collinsport? And what of the children? She thought she heard the strange laughter again, but now she was fully awake.
It was coming from the west wing, but arriving there she found no one there. Then she saw it. A thin plume of smoke escaped from the first door to the left—Quentin's rooms. She banged on the door, "Mr. Collins?" No answer. She turned the knob and entered unacknowledged and uninvited. An overturned candle lay by the foot of the bed—one end of the canopy curtains was alight.
Without thinking, Rachel grabbed the washbasin pitcher, and hurled the water onto the flames. The fire abated but still burned. "Mr. Collins!" she shouted. "Quentin!"
Quentin sat up, instantly alert. He saw at once the situation. Moving faster than Rachel thought possible, he pulled at the burning curtain until it ripped from the canopy and lay in a smoldering heap on the floor. He pulled the comforter from his bed and smothered the remaining embers, patting it hard until he was sure the fire was extinguished.
Quentin collapsed onto his knees, exhausted from the sudden effort and fright. "Are you alright? What happened?" he looked up at Rachel.
Rachel ran her hand through her hair. Quentin was there in nothing but his nightshirt and she was in his room … she realized that she hadn't bothered to put on her slippers, and her bare feet suddenly felt cold. "I smelled smoke," she said, finding her voice. "I was worried about the children, so I … I ran down the hall … and then …"
"Go on," Quentin urged her forcefully, rising to standing and taking hold of her shoulders.
"You're not going to believe me."
"Tell me," he shook her gently as he spoke.
"I heard laughter—strange, wild laughter. It led me here."
"Did you see anyone?" he asked.
"No, I didn't, but then I saw the smoke, and you know the rest." She went on, "You must have forgotten to blow out your candle before you went to sleep."
"And I suppose I left it here at the foot of the bed," he raised his voice. "And what about the laughter you heard? I supposed I did that too."
Her voice was steady in response to his frustration. "Then you believe me? You believe I heard that laughter?"
"Of course I do. And I didn't leave that candle there. Someone else was here. Someone tried to kill me."
Rachel looked at him closely, "Do you think …" She hesitated.
"Do you think it was Beth?"
"I don't know. Heaven knows she has reason to want me dead, but it doesn't seem like her—not like this anyway. But I'm going to find out," he sounded determined. "But not tonight." He was still holding Rachel's shoulders, and she was beginning to shiver. "You must be freezing," he said. "You should go back to bed."
"I'm not going to sleep tonight," she said though weariness began to set in. "And what about this?" She gestured to sodden curtains and comforter on the floor. "I should help you clean this up."
He put on his dressing gown. With his arm around her shoulder, he guided her towards the door. "Come on, I'll make sure you get back to your room safely," he said with as much chivalry as he could muster.
She smiled, "And who will make sure you get back to your rooms safely?"
Casting chivalry aside he said cheekily, "Who says I'm coming back to my rooms?"
"I don't blame you for not wanting to be alone tonight. In truth, I feel the same, but I can't afford to …"
"Lose your job. I know," he said. By now, they were headed down the hall toward her room. "Which is why, I'm going to see you to your room, make sure you lock the door, and then go back to my rooms and do the same. I won't do anything to jeopardize your position here Rachel. I promise."
Now, outside of her room, Quentin turned to Rachel. Whether the result of their shared fright, or for some other reason, for a moment Rachel wished he would put his arms around her and make her feel safe and warm. Instead, he reached around her and opened the door. A chill draught emanated from the room. "I'll wait until I hear the lock turn," he said.
Brushing aside her momentary weakness with respect to the handsome Quentin Collins, Rachel smiled, "Thank you, Mr. Collins. Goodnight."