Author: Jennifer Campbell
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow
Characters: Ichabod Crane, Abbie Mills, Katrina
Summary: Katrina warns of a coming darkness that she alone can fight, but drawing her out of Purgatory comes with a heavy price for Ichabod and Abbie.
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me.
Author notes: This is the first fanfic I've written in four years, so please be kind. As this is the first chapter, it's essentially the setup. I'd love to hear your feedback.
The chill of Purgatory sunk into Ichabod Crane's bones, freezing his marrow to ice, which is how he knew this wasn't a dream.
Sometimes he did dream of Purgatory. It was his mind's way of coping with the strangeness of his new life. He would walk among the thick, endless winter trees with their branches like skeletal hands, bathed in mist, washed out of color, melancholy. But only in a true vision did the chill come, a cold so penetrating he felt he would never be warm again.
If this was real, then she had called him here.
And she would come for him.
He wrapped his arms around himself, huddled inside his long coat, and waited. Ichabod was not sure that he liked the command she had over his spirit, that she could summon him here at will. She was his wife, and he loved her. But a man's body, mind and soul should belong to him alone.
When she emerged from among the trees, it was as a ghost, a wraith, ethereal with her black dress, pale skin and flowing red hair. She was beautiful, and Ichabod's breath caught in his throat at the sight of her. She came closer.
"My love," she said.
"Katrina." He reached out to cup her cheek in his palm, afraid as always that his hand would go through her, but it never did because in this unreal forest, they were both spirits. Her skin was icy under his fingertips. "I miss you."
"And I you."
"Why am I here?"
"A warning," she said, "though I wish it were not so. A darkness is awakening in Sleepy Hollow."
"There is always darkness," he murmured.
"Not like this. In all your battles, you have not faced anything like this."
Her words raised bumps on his arms. Ichabod had never seen her so anxious, not since she had tended to him on what he thought was his death bed. "What is this thing?" he asked.
She took his hands in hers, their fingers entwining, while the mist swirled eddies around them. "I cannot say more. Only that it is time."
"Time for what?"
"For you to summon me into your world."
"Summon you," he whispered, taken aback. "You said once that I needed to find you to return you to the living. I haven't found you yet."
"There's another way."
Ichabod's chest tightened. For months he had wanted this, ever since he had clawed his way out of a cave and into a future absent of anything familiar or comfortable. To have Katrina back, to have his wife, was his greatest desire.
Yet he was also afraid. The fear coursed through his body like lightning, like an electric shock. He didn't understand that. Why was he afraid?
"Help me," he said. "I do not know how to accomplish this feat."
"There is a book of spells. It belonged to my order long ago. You must find it and use it before nightfall." She squeezed his hands. "You must do this, Ichabod. You will need me for this fight."
"A fight against the darkness."
"What darkness? Tell me."
She did not. Instead, she leaned in to kiss him lightly, her lips soft but cold, and it left his own lips tingling. "You must go now. Go and find the book."
"Katrina, I —"
"Go!" she commanded.
She released his hands and made a gesture with her arms as if to push him away. She did not touch him, and yet he felt himself thrown backward. He windmilled his arms to catch his balance, but it was too late. His boots left the ground and he was airborne, falling. He caught one glimpse of red hair and pale skin. Then the ground, blanketed in pine needles and leaves, rose up to meet him.
He jolted upright.
Heart pounding, Ichabod looked around. He was in his bed at the cabin, alone. Morning light streamed through a crack between the curtains. A loud, incessant beeping was going off somewhere near his head.
"What is that infernal noise?" he said, and then remembered. Abbie had shown him how to set the bedroom clock to wake him up at a certain time, though he did not in general understand why people needed this. He had never required such assistance before.
He picked up the small clock, which said 7:01 a.m. in glowing green numbers. He managed to find the switch to put an end to the beeping, dressed quickly and went out to the kitchen to find the communication device — the cellphone — that Abbie had acquired for him.
"Hello?" said a sleepy voice.
Ichabod felt a surge of satisfaction that he had made the device work properly on the first try. "Miss Mills."
"Crane? Do you know what time it is?"
"I am well aware of the time, and I apologize if I have awakened you, but this is urgent."
"What is it?" Abbie asked, sounding more alert.
"I have had a vision."
"You saw your wife?"
A hint of bitterness crept into her voice, as it always did when they talked about Katrina. Ichabod did not know what to make of it, and so he chose to ignore it.
"Just so," he said. "What she had to say was most worrisome. I'm afraid you must leave your bed and come fetch me. We are about to have a very busy day."