On the night of the twins' sixteenth birthday Penelope Park died. She gave her life in exchange for Josie's and to save her from the possible merge. At that time Josie was already dating Hope and she and Penelope pretended very well that they were not having feelings for one another. None of the girls actually had an idea how much the other suffered for them and craved them. Josie escaped in relationship with Hope and Penelope in death. She felt like her life has no use anymore so she offered her life in exchange for Josie's. She knew that Josie would let Lizzie win the merge and this way she didn't have to watch the girl she loves die...or just be informed of it through MG or some other friend they might share at that point of their lives. Josie found her body in the woods. She felt something in her stomach and she simply had to run to the woods. Like she was drawn there and her life depended on it. She saw a man with a big black hood with Penelope. He took her hand and after that she saw Penelope just fall on the ground. Josie picked her up and tried to wake her up.
''Penelope, please wake up! Please… What have you done?''
She screamed and shouted so loud that it didn't take long for her dad and the rest of the guests to come to find her. First on the scene were vampires and Hope. She flinched when she saw Josie covered in dirt holding Penelope.
''She is dead… Some man… She is dead.''
Rick and Dorian got the kids back to the school but they couldn't move Josie from the body.
''Honey, we have to take her back to the school and prepare her funeral.''
Dorian came to Josie.
''Do you know if she had some family?''
''No… She had no one...''
''Then we can bury her on the school grounds in the morning.''
''No! She hates dark… She is afraid of it. She gets restless…''
Rick petted his daughter on her hair.
''Baby, she wouldn't know it's dark.''
''But I know dad… I know…I can't let her be in the dark…She…No…''
''Baby, we have to take her away from here.''
He bended to lift her body, but Josie just pulled her closer.
''No…I can't let go of her yet.''
MG came to her and took a seat on the ground.
''Can I take her inside? I promise to take her where you say you want her.''
Dorian suggested library and MG just nodded.
''Please Josie… Let's get her inside… It's dark here too…''
MG took her body and Jose walked behind him watching him like hawk. Lizzie stood on the sides completely shocked by what happened and how bad Josie took it. She really believed that her sister was over her, that she had no feelings for Penelope Park and now she saw her sister turn into something she never expected. They took her to the library and placed her at one of the tables. Josie fixed her dress and hair. Penelope loved that dark purple dress. They bought it together for their big date for one of the school dances. It was the first time they went somewhere as a couple. Her dad and Hope wanted to say something to her but Josie just looked through them.
''Can you please leave me alone with her?''
Rick understood how she felt. He lived the same thing with Joe. Hope was worried and not really into idea of leaving Josie unsupervised.
''Ok. If you need something…Please call.''
Josie spent the entire night there by Penelope's body not wanted to separate herself from the girl. Time went by too fast for her. Maybe she couldn't have told her all the things she wanted in life, but now in death Josie told her that she loved her and that tomorrow the part of her will be buried in that grave. She took out of her secret pocket in the dress locket she had with their pictures and placed it around Penelope's neck.
''I know how much you hate dark and small places. It's for you to always know I am with you. You have me Penelope Park, you had me at hello and that smirk of yours. I am by your side…forever… Tonight…when you kissed me before I went to the party, you asked me to be happy and live my life to the fullest…''
''My initial thought was that you have gone insane or something like that… Why would you do that and say that when you hate me? I was confused and… I hated you so much…For a moment you brought the butterflies back and I felt week at my knees when you looked at me.''
She touched Penelope's face.
''Damn those eyes! I was always melting into puddle when you look at me. I could lie to the world that I hate you and don't love you and then you would just look at me and… Puff… All my resentment was gone and all I could think of is how much I love those eyes… Especially in the mornings when I would wake up and see you looking at me with so much love. And now I will never see them again…Why did you have to die before I got to tell you how much I love you… You always had to have the last word…you stubborn, smug pain in the ass.''
Josie caressed her hair and took her hand. She was cold… She was so distant, beautiful and at the same time never closer to Josie. Now Josie could finally say what she has without getting some snarky comeback or comment that would hurt her. She also knew that nothing had ever hurt her more than Penelope's death.
''I love you…and I will always love you…Part of me died in that woods with you tonight.''
Now she was getting angry at Penelope.
'' You knew it's a dangerous place and you went there… You went there and you died! And I will never have you back again! It's not a game Penelope… You died! I can't follow anymore…If I follow I am gone too…''
She sat on the table by her and took her into her arms one more time. She still smelled of her favorite perfume and that stupid body lotion she used.
''Please open your eyes for me… You said once you would do anything for me…Now, I am asking you something… Please wake up so I can punch you and kiss you as you should be punched and kissed Penelope pain in the ass Park! Please baby….''
But nothing was happening. No matter how much Josie wanted the other girl to open her eyes, they still stayed closed and she was still dead. It was already morning. She knew her dad would be here soon to get the final preparations for the funeral. She had few more minutes with Penelope and she was clinging to the girl's body as her life depended on it. She wanted something of Penelope's to remember her by. Since she left her locket with Penelope, she took her favorite ring off her finger. It was white gold with one emerald. It was Penelope's grandmother's engagement ring. She loved it and wore it proudly. It reminded her of that woman she loved so much. After her grandma died Josie and Penelope grew closer and even started dating. Josie placed the ring on her finger and her dad opened the door.
''Honey, it's time… In an hour we will bury her.''
She fixed her hair, her dress and kissed the top of her nose just like she always did before they would go to sleep.
''Good night my love…''
Josie gave last look to the other girl and left the room. She went to her bedroom to change for the funeral. She found nice black dress and flats. Lizzie, Hope and Emma had no idea what to do. Josie was very quiet and she didn't really even try to tell them how she was. When MG entered the room she just run into his arms and fell apart. He held her tight and just let her cry. They cried together. Hope and Lizzie were a bit jealous why she could do that with him and not with any of them. Penelope's funeral was attended by many students and after they lowered the casket to the ground and everything was over, there was a lot of flowers on her grave and Josie was glad that many people were very sad for her death. Penelope Park marked many of their lives. She spent the rest of the day in Penelope's room. She just sat at her window seat and watched the garden. Irony of that all was that from Penelope's window you could see place where she was buried. Lizzie got her some food, but she didn't eat. Hope tried to talk to her to make her feel better but there was nothing they could do. Rick suggested they give her few days and that she will be better. MG was the last to come and visit her. She was sitting on the window seat looking at the garden. There were still some kids coming and putting flowers on her grave. Josie was now in one of Penelope's favorite pajamas and holding her bottle of perfume in her hands. She would smell it on occasion and let tears roll down her face. MG took a seat beside her and took her hand.
''I can't believe she is gone.''
''Me either. I am sort of waiting for her so show up and tell us that we got punked or something like that. Peez was a prankster.''
''That she was… You remember in grade nine when she did that spell in the bathroom and filled entire floor with bubbles?''
''I remember teachers slipping on it.''
''Yes, dad was very angry…''
''And she was grounded.''
''And also that time when she put something in Lizzie's food just because she annoyed you.''
''God, two of them…''
Walk down the memory lane helped them a bit. They laughed, they cried…but they somehow made one another feel better.
That night Josie slept in Penelope's bed. It still smelled of her…of rosemary and lavender and her favorite perfume. She had horrible nightmare that the person from the woods was carrying Penelope's body away and that all that is left from her is an empty casket and flowers all over the place. She jumped out of the bed and saw that the grave was opened. She went to her dad and woke him up.
''Josie what is it? It's three in the morning.''
''She is gone…''
Rick hugged his daughter and tried to calm her down.
''I know honey… It will be hard for some time but you will learn to live with the loss…''
''Dad, someone took her body.''
Now Rick understood what was going on. He woke hope up and they all went down to see what happened. Josie stood by the opened casket and only thing left behind was a deep purple silver and amethyst comb in shape of butterfly she had in her hair that night. Josie picked it up and put it in her pocket.
''Dad, who would have done something like that? Why would they take her body?''
''I have no idea honey… I really have no idea.''
Search for the Penelope's remains turned out nothing. In the morning they closed the casket returned it in the ground and hoped that they will solve the mystery of the missing body.
It took weeks Josie to start to function better. She had ups and downs but she somehow started living with that giant hole inside of her. Hope and Josie started working on their relationship. It was hard for Hope to compete with a dead girlfriend but she was patient. She believed that in the long run they would make it somehow. It was time for Penelope's room to be cleared out. Rick tried to postpone it for Josie, but they really needed the room. Josie didn't want anyone to touch it, she even offered to move there just to keep it as it was. Lizzie and Hope were shocked by her suggestion.
''Honey, you are rooming with Lizzie and we might need that room for some other students.''
Lizzie offered her help her clean up the room.
''No, I'll do it with MG.''
'"Why with him?''
''Because he loved her almost as I did…''
With hat she left their room and went to find him. He took it very hard but promised to be there and help. Josie and MG spent entire weekend cleaning up the room and Josie moved Penelope's things in a storage room in the basement. She kept everything… Her diaries, letters, pictures, clothes… she even stashed few uniforms in the far back of her closet…just for safekeeping. In the pocket of Penelope's cape she found a letter and dried rose from their first date. It was dated a day before Josie's birthday…so a day before she died.
My beloved, my tender blossom, my love,
There are so many names I could call you and none of it would be close to describing what you are and what you mean to me. If you are reading this letter it means that everything went well…maybe well is not the word…as planed…that would be the proper way of saying it. As you know, I am dead… but you are alive and that's all that matters. You are alive and free of being potential victim of the family tradition of merging with your twin. Your mom and dad never told you about it and now I have to tell you. On your twenty second birthday you were supposed to battle Lizzie for your life. Whoever wins the merge kills their twin. I know you too well to know you would die for Lizzie. Since I died for you, I can't really judge and make fun of that sort of love and devotion to someone anymore. As I said…I died for you and for the chance that you might live, grow old and have amazing life with someone. I want you to live and love, and travel and make the world yours because you deserve it my love. I am sorry we didn't get the chance at that sort of happiness. I want you to get married, have kids, laugh, cry, experience everything there is to experience. Don't let my death be for nothing and don't do anything stupid my love… I am dying with ease at my heart. You were happy… One of my last memories would be of you smiling at the box of chocolates someone left for you. I am not sure if you really didn't know it was me or you faked it for the other people. Sometimes I really had no idea what you felt and how you felt, but I lived for the days we knew each other as the palm of our hands. So, I am dying happy my love. You found your happiness and serenity I couldn't give you. Take care and remember that I will always love you JoJo… Even when you are gray and old…and you start forgetting me, I will always remember and love you. Memory of you is the most beautiful thing I carry from this world and I am glad that I get to die with you in my heart, memories and hopefully ( I am not sure if I am brave to do it) your kiss on my lips. Good bye my love and thank you for loving me as you did…even though you stopped at some point…
Penelope Rose Park
She cried on the flood clutching the letter. She couldn't believe Penelope died for her. It was all her fault…And her parents'. She put the spell on the locker so nothing could get damaged or destroyed. She walked into his dad's office. He and Hope were preparing for some of their sparing sessions. Alaric knew she was clearing out the room and he expected her to come and cry to him. He was surprised to see her angry.
She threw the letter on his desk.
''Care to explain this dad?''
He took the letter and read it. He just fell on his chair and held his head.
''What have I done?''
Hope looked between her girlfriend and Rick.
''What is going on?''
''Her death is on you and I will never forgive you in my life!''
''I had no idea she would ever find out…''
''That's not the point… The point is that…. I can't do it.''
She run out of the room and Hope picked the letter up from the desk and read it. She had to give it to Penelope. Dying for the one you love…even after you believed they hated you is a very brave move. She didn't blink before doing it. Hope remembered that the day before Penelope died she and Josie had one of their messy fights and Josie said many hurtful things to Penelope and the other girl didn't even flinch. She smiled at Josie and just left. She didn't even respond. Now she knew that huge guilt was eating out Josie and she had no idea what to do with this knowledge about the merge and Penelope actually dying for some cause. It was not Penelope was careless and died in the woods moment. It was Penelope went into woods to meet someone who would kill her for Josie's life. Hope got to Josie's room and she heard the other girl cry. She slowly opened the door and entered. She put Penelope's letter on Josie's nightstand and just took the crying girl into her arms. She held Josie for hours and said nothing. She was jealous of Penelope and how much Josie cared, but then she realized that the other one is dead. She and Josie have a chance to have good relationship as soon as her mourning period ends.
Lizzie was in shock when she found out about what Penelope did. She never expected that from her. She gave life for her sister to live and to prevent their merge, Lizzie found some new respect for the girl.
Six years later
Hope and Josie were engaged to be married. Their wedding was in six months but as they were very busy and had to have everything under control, they already sent invitations, save the date cards and RSVP cards. Hope and Josie were still living at school, but this time Josie was a teacher and Hope was Rick's assistant. He was preparing her to take over the school when the time comes. Lizzie lived in LA and was married to some fancy lawyer and had a life she always dreamed of. Her wedding was in million magazines and huge social event. Hope and Josie wanted something much smaller and very simple. They agreed to be married on the school grounds and they had an idea for it to be in a rose garden. That was a nice place and it was place they spent a lot of time. Hope went for a meeting with Alaric and Josie was checking her email and the regular mail. It was day before her birthday and it was not a good time of the year for her. Every year at this time she would let her mind wonder more often to Penelope. Among the letters was a small box. She smiled because she believed it was some hidden gift Hope left for her. She opened the box and saw her locket…the one that she put around Penelope's neck. She opened the locket and found that their pictures were still inside. She looked at her smile and Penelope's smile and couldn't stop thinking of how much she missed her and how she still didn't recover from her death. In the box was a small handwritten note. It was written in Penelope's handwriting dated some seven years ago. Josie turned the note and found another one…
"He knew her, he believed. He would teach her that she was not his possession, he would show her she was free, he would see her flash her wings."
― A.S. Byatt, Possession
You can have her back…if she is really yours...