Magic Makes my Life Less Lonely!
The light of the morning sun shone through my curtainless windows, and I woke to an empty cottage. I had spent the last evening packing with my little friends, until only the furniture and a few incidentals remained. I stretched and yawned, feeling achy all over as I looked about the living room, littered with boxes. Despite the disheveled state it was currently in, I sure would miss it here…
“Oh, good morning, Elio,” Tooth said with a little hop.
“Bleh...good morning everyone,” Cushion yawned.
“Today’s the day…” I said quietly, before slowly getting out of bed. After Irina and Ernest’s visit the day before, I really did think about their offer. I owed Irina that much. But...my mind is made up. I’m leaving Windbloom today.
“Yeah…” Tooth and Cushion said in unison. They sounded sad, but they understood.
“Alright, time for the bed,” I said with a sigh.
My friends jumped off the couch as I focused my hands towards it.
“Tiny and small, become fit for a doll!”
The couch shuddered and shrunk under the effects of the spell until it was small enough for a dollhouse. I picked my tiny couch up and dropped it in my pocket.
“I’m going to finish getting the upstairs packed.” I said as I made my way up the steps.
I looked around the empty room; just a few boxes, my bed, and my vanity were left. I shrunk the bed, and vanity using the minimize spell, and placed them in my pocket beside my now-tiny-couch. I went to my closet and picked out some clothes for the day. Opening the door, I realized the closet was bare, except for one outfit. I grabbed out my oversized sweater with exposed shoulders. The sleeves were embroidered with vines and leaves cascading all the way down. There were also some dark denim shorts and long black stockings. I made my way back downstairs and turned to my little friends who were packing odds and ends alongside Brew in the kitchen.
“I’m just going to freshen up a bit,” I said to them all with the best smile I could muster. I grabbed my clothes and closed the bathroom door behind me. The hot water ran down my body, soothing my morning aches, but my smile didn’t hold. The shower water began to mix with my tears as I quietly sobbed in the steam. I grabbed the bottle of geranium shower oil Irina gifted me, breathing in the flowery scent as I poured some into my hands. While I washed, I pictured a rolling field of pink and white flowers stretching out towards the horizon...far away from my problems. There is a little cottage near a small stream, and standing at the door is a figure who holds me close and kisses me sweetly…
“...Alkan…” I whispered… My mysterious stranger, my vampire viscount, my...well...I would miss him dearly. But if the princess found out… A valiant noble in love with a failed wizard? A wizard who ruined her image and endangered her life? Who destroyed her own chances at love? There were so many reasons to leave, but I couldn’t put Alkan’s good name at risk. With a sigh, I rinsed and turned off the shower; the image of the garden draining from my mind as the water flowed down the drain.
“You ok in there?” Tooth called.
I stepped out of the bathroom, wearing my last sweater, shorts, and another forced smile. I didn’t really want to mess with my hair so I tied it into a ponytail, still wet, and scooped up Tooth and Cushion. When we got back to the living room, I placed them both down atop one of the boxes next to Carton in the corner. The bookcases and shelves still needed to be shrunk, along with the appliances in the kitchen.
“Tick, Tock? What time is it?” I asked as I rubbed my eyes. I waited for an answer, but Tick didn’t answer. Tock simply stared back.
“Neither of you want to answer first? Ah well...I suppose the time doesn’t matter.” I said, knowing this would rile them up.
“What do you mean?!” Tock burst out.
“Of course time matters!!” Tick said annoyedly.
“Well, what time is it then?” I said somewhat sarcastically. I usually didn’t like their bickering, but today I actually kind of liked it.
“9:43!” They both said simultaneously. D-Did I just hear what I thought I did? Wow...it had finally happened! The twin clocks gasped in unison, astonished they had actually agreed upon the time.
“I guess some miracles do happen…” I added with a real, if weak, smile.
“Good morning Elio… Shall we continue packing?” Carton asked, hidden in the stack of boxes.
“Do we reaaaaaalllyy have to leave?” Cushion whined, with tears forming in its little eyes.
“Yes...I’m afraid we do…”
“If this is what Elio has decided...then that is what we do,” Tooth said.
“I know...I just wish we didn’t have to. I thought Irina’s offer sounded so nice! But...I get it,” Cushion sighed.
We all stood silently, not sure of what to say.
“...The young hero stared across the barren wasteland, with nothing but sorrow between him and the horizon…” Novella recited, a noticeable sadness in its voice.
“Yeah...well, I suppose we should say our goodbyes,” Tick said.
“Quite right…” Tock looked around, surprisingly teary eyed.
“Goodbye kitchen sink. You were always so bright and sunny,” Brew said.
“Fare thee well, floors. It was so comfortable scooting across your smooth finish,” Carton professed longingly.
“Goodbye cottage! We’ve loved being able to live in you!” Cushion sniffled sadly.
“Goodbye garden. I enjoyed you more than any other place in the world!” Tooth mumbled, melancholically.
“Goodbye Windbloom… You’ve made us so many wonderful memories…” I said softly, finishing our tearful goodbyes. I didn’t want to crack too much in front of my friends, they were already sad enough…
“Brew? Could you boil some water please?”
“Certainly, Elio,” Brew said as it hopped slowly to the sink. “The water will be ready in a few.”
“Thank you,” I smiled, and went to make some tea. Most of the tea cabinet had been packed up, but I still had the rose petal oolong. I scooped some into a teabag and plopped it into my cup. Just a nice, herbal tea for this sad morning… Brew eventually hopped over and poured the hot water in my teacup, and I sipped it in silence as my friends continued to pack. The only sounds in the cottage were quiet shuffles from Carton and Tooth, and small sniffles from Cushion. The once bright and happy living room where we’d enjoyed helping my clients, made a blanket fort, and had so many bouts of laughter...was now just filled with sadness. And soon, even we would be gone from here, leaving our sad little cottage behind to go...somewhere.
───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────
“Alright, I guess that’s the last of the books…” Tooth said, with a frown.
“The magical stuff is all packed too,” Cushion added with a shaky voice.
“I guess that means we just need to wait for the movers,” I said with a sad sigh. “I don’t want to tarnish the magical ingredients with the minimization spell.”
We stood again in silence, unsure of what to say. All the boxes were packed, the furniture minimized and my friends ready and waiting to leave our old home. I decided to look around the house one final time to make sure nothing was forgotten. Upstairs was all clear, as was the kitchen and living room. I wracked my brain for anything else I could be forgetting…
“It’s too bad we’re leaving the goldenhorn...it was so pretty in the moonlight,” Cushion sighed.
Rosetta’s beautiful flowers...Alkan’s surprise… Maybe I should take some with me—the garden! I forgot my butterfly furniture!
“One sec, I need to bring the garden furniture in,” I said, walking to the door. With my hand on the doorknob, I turned it...and was immediately greeted with a loud trumpet blast that shook the whole cottage! The sudden noise made my friends all jump, and I fell back onto the floor.
“Eeep!” Cushion screamed.
“What on earth could that be?” Tooth asked, clearly shaken.
Disoriented, I looked up at the figure looming over me, their features hidden by the sun behind them.
“Was the trumpeting really necessary?” a stern, familiar voice said. As they reached down to help me up, I realized it was Mei. I thought… How silly of me… I secretly hoped it was Alkan...even if it broke my heart to do so, I wanted to say goodbye to him.
“Mei, what’s going on?” I asked in confusion. As I stood up, all I could see behind her were broad shoulders and shining armor! Oh no, the princess’ guard found me?!
‘I’m glad you’re here, Elio, or this would all be pretty embarrassing. I hope you’re ready for guests,” she said slyly, pushing the trumpeter aside.
“W-What do you mean?” I stammered nervously.
“I’m here on official business from Windbloom as security to secure the area. And since that prowler situation’s been dealt with, I figured I’d volunteer and see what all the hubbub is about.”
“You caught the prowler?” Tooth jumped in.
“Who was it? Who was it?” Cushion gasped excitedly.
“You didn’t hear? Well Irina—”
“IRINA?!” my little friends and I gasped.
“Yes, but no. She—how do I say this? The mad old woman made the whole thing up. Apparently she came up with some half-baked story to scare timid Ms. Mildred for some reason.” Mei said, stifling a smile and a little laugh which was very out of character for her. That Irina...she really was ruthless!
“The story took on a life of its own and the whole town succumbed to mass hysteria. It only died down around the Fairy Festival. Your costume was quite good, by the way,” she said slyly again.
My attention was quickly diverted as I heard the distinct sound of horse hooves, pitter-pattering in the distance.
“Heh, took them long enough,” Mei said sarcastically.
Appearing down the road was some sort of large entourage approaching the cottage. Soldiers on horseback marched in formation, surrounding an elaborate carriage. The closer it came, I could make out the golden leaf-like sigils swirling against the blinding bright white of the carriage’s finish. My stomach dropped at the sight of it; I knew that sigil well…
As the carriage slowed to a stop in front of my gate, two sets of trumpeters lined the entrance of the carriage, blasting a loud and regal fanfare. The flags on the bells of their instruments bore the same sigil on the carriage—the royal emblem of Crystalis.
“Announcing his royal eminence, Viscount Alkan von Ozgur of Windbloom!” Mei’s voice echoed as a footman opened the doors of the carriage.
Alkan emerged from the open doors and stepped out onto the roadway. Alkan...he looked so regal and handsome, his hair slicked back and I could see from here he was wearing the eyeliner I made him. He was wearing a dark purple jacket and waistcoat with gold trim and a blue sash across his body. I had never seen him look so regal… From inside the carriage, a delicate hand appeared. Alkan looked up with a smile and took hold of it as a petite woman daintily descended the steps. The young woman was adorned in a fine dress, radiantly beaming with elegance. On her head, she wore a fashionable veil that obscured her face, but I knew in an instant who she was...
“Announcing her royal highness, Princess Damla of Crystalis!” Mei called again.
The princess herself…is here?! And Alkan? I don’t…I don’t know what to do.
“P-Princess Damla…” I managed to say, gulping nervously. I couldn’t believe my eyes... I didn’t even want to look at her, the shame was too much. No magic in the world could save me from the scolding I was about to receive, and Alkan would be here to witness it. I just wanted to disappear… Alkan opened the gate and the princess, so demure, took a step forward. I looked down at my little friends who were staring in awe at the elegant woman standing in our front path.
“Princess, it’s, umm, it’s—” I stammered again, staring at the ground. She took another step towards me.
“Elly!!!” she suddenly screamed excitedly as she threw off her veil. I looked up with enough time to see her charging towards me, her arms wide. She launched herself into the air and tackled me to the ground...with a hug?!
“Can’t stay on your feet, can you?” Mei chuckled to herself sarcastically.
“Elly, it’s so good to see you!! I missed you!” she cheered happily. “I missed you! I missed you! I missed you!”
I looked up and saw her smiling face staring down at me. Her smile was infectious, and I couldn’t help but smile back. That was when I noticed her hair! With her long locks gone, she had styled it into a cute and stylish pixie cut. It wasn’t a usual regal look, but it actually suited her perfectly.
“H-Hello, Princess Damla,” I said as I tilted my head in confusion.
“My darling Elly, it’s so good to see you! Crystalis just isn’t the same without you, you know!” she said sweetly.
“Ah yes! Elly, I missed you so much!” She smiled again.
“Uhhh...yeah! Obvi! You just disappeared after the courtship ball and we never got to talk about it! I wanted to thank you!”
“Thank me? For…?”
“For getting me out of marrying any of those stuffy princes! I mean, ok, the fire might have been a tad much, but my outfit was the talk of the realm! No pain, no gain when it comes to fashion, right?”
“But...your hair…” I averted my eyes, wincing at the thought of having ruined her famous locks, beloved throughout the realm.
“Oh I know! Isn’t it just the cutest?! Mother and father would have NEVER let me cut it this short, but I am in love with it!” she said, running her fingers through her short hair.
“So, you’re not mad?” My mouth dropped open. How could she be ok with everything that happened? I had always known the princess to be kind, but this...this was not something to be forgiven so lightly.
“Mad? Well this sun is a little infuriating. Constance!” The princess fanned herself as she yelled to her attendant.
“Y-Yes, your highness?” Her attendant said as she pushed up her glasses.
“Can you bring me my fan? It is just sweltering out here!” The princess said as she continued fanning herself at an ever increasing speed.
“Y-Yes, your highness!” The attendant said with a bow and quickly scuttled off to the carriage.
“Elly…” her voice softened, “I could never be mad at you. Quite frankly there’s nothing to be mad at! I did want to apologize though. Mother and father…I know they threatened to fire you after the incident with the fire if you didn’t leave service—pardon the emphasis on fire, by the way. I fought and begged them to let you stay! For too long they tried to control me. I mean, yes they are my parents and they want the best for me. But choosing who to marry for me? And then they try to dismiss my wizard?! Absolutely not!”
“But your hair—”
“Ugh, that hair. My mother would never let me cut it. Do you know how freeing it was to get rid of it all?”
I was stunned. She really wasn’t angry at all. She was...grateful!
“Before I could get it all sorted, you were gone. Oh Elly, I hope there’s no hard feelings between us? I tried to find you, but I never could. I imagine you had a rough time though...and I feel dreadful about it.”
“Yes, it caused quite a stir in Crystalis. The gossip grew…unbearable.”
“Crystalis is a harsh city of rumors and gossip, for sure,” she said sympathetically.
“I have to be honest,” I said nervously, “I thought some of the gossip might have come from the palace...from you. I just thought you must’ve hated me.”
Damla’s jaw dropped at the confession.
“Hated?! Oh goodness no! I could never—I am sorry you had to go through that! Elly, you were my personal wizard, but more so, my friend!” She smiled sweetly before her face twisted in annoyance. “CONSTANCE, I’m practically drenched!” The princess squealed to her attendant, who was still digging through the carriage looking for a fan.
Friend… I teared up a little on hearing those words. I was so afraid she hated me. I thought I disgraced the royal family. All this time I lived in fear, falling into a deep depression that had me hide away from the world. Now here she is, offering only kindness and apologies. My heart lifted on this realization. Maybe...maybe I didn’t need to run anymore?
“Princess, forgive my ignorance, but how did you find me?” I asked, placing a finger to my bottom lip curiously.
“Well that’s rather formal of you!” she scoffed. “Elly, dear...you’re dating my cousin!”
“Cousin Alkan wrote to me the other day about a talented, and cute—his words, not mine—wizard that he was seeing in Windbloom. When I saw your name in the letter, I immediately left the palace to see you!”
“Alkan—I mean, the viscount—is your cousin?”
“You’re so funny when you’re flustered. But cousins, yes! Well, distant cousins. We’re somewhere on each other's family tree.”
I looked over to Alkan, still standing by the carriage. He noticed I was staring and quickly glanced away, pretending to attend to the horses. I never mentioned my service to the princess. How did he...?
“He is a darling, isn't he? It’s such a shame I don’t get to see him much, but he is so busy with his work, administering the region for the crown.”
“He is…” my voice trailed off.
“So Elio,” Damla started, “it seems you’ve made a nice little life for yourself out here, far from the craziness of Crystalis.”
“It’s been nice, definitely different. But...I like it.”
“It certainly suits you…” her voice trailed off. Did I upset her? Maybe she wanted to ask me to come back to Crystalis with her?
“Of course, if you require me to go elsewhere—”
“What?! Nooooo, no, no, no! I’d never ask you to return to service! BUT! I will require you to visit for tea at least once a month. Ok, twice a month. Or maybe I can come visit you here…”
“Elio? Is everything ok?” I heard a tiny voice come from behind me. I looked down and noticed Tooth hiding behind my leg.
“Yeah, everything’s fine, Tooth,” I smiled down at the little comb.
“Oh my goodness! A talking comb?!” the Princess shrieked happily and clapped her hands.
“I should introduce you. This is Tooth!” I gestured to the curious little comb standing at my feet.
“My, my, what a cutie you are,” Princess Damla said, leaning down to get a better look at Tooth.
“Why thank ya!” Tooth said.
“Tooth, this is the Princess! You know...of the kingdom!!” I said with a slight glare and nudged it lightly with my heel.
“Oh uhhh...thank you very much your graciousness!” the comb said awkwardly, attempting to be polite. A presence looming over the Princess suddenly interrupted us.
“Your fan, your majesty!”
“Very good, thank you Constance—oh!” It wasn’t Constance, but Alkan who approached us with the fan. He smiled at me, flashing his fangs as usual. I smiled too, this sweet man who had done something so wonderful…
“Hmm, this sun is absolutely unendurable today. I think I shall take a seat inside...you don’t mind do you, Elly?” the Princess asked.
“N-No, not at all! Would you like something to drink or anything?”
“Don’t worry about me, Elly. I’m sure my cousin here has been awaiting a chance to get you alone,” she said with a wink and a dramatic slap on Alkan’s back.
“Damla…” he said as he winced. She held the back of her hand to her mouth and laughed loudly.
“Ahhhhh!!!!” I heard Cushion scream inside, frightened by the princess’ mischievous cackle. Damla stopped as she heard it, and saw the pillow cowering at the door.
“A cute talking pillow?! What’s your name?” she said as she made her way inside. I suddenly realized there was nothing in the cottage!
“P-Princess, wait‚—” I tried to say. Damla had already walked through the front door and knelt down next to Cushion.
“Hello little one, my name is Damla. What’s yours?” she said sweetly.
“Are you a witch?” Cushion said nervously.
“Witch? What witch?” Tick said.
“Which witch? What are we talking about?” Tock said, confused.
“Oh my! How many little friends do you have, Elly?” Damla asked
“Would you like something to drink? I’m sure I can whip up a cuppa for you!” Brew said excitedly.
“If you search within, I’m sure you may find something comfortable to sit on,” Carton said.
“...And the beautiful princess rescued the prince from the mighty dragon…” Novella recited.
“Dragon? I said witch, Novella!” Cushion said.
“She’s not a witch, you silly fluff! She’s the PRINCESS!” Tooth chided.
“THE PRINCESS?! OH WOW!” Cushion yelled excitedly. “I never thought I’d meet a real princess!”
“Well here I am! I hope I didn’t disappoint?” Damla asked jokingly
“No, you’re beautiful and perfect!” Cushion gushed
“I like you! Tell me more about how perfect I am?” She said, walking into the cottage. She was followed closely by Mei, ever watchful, and her attendant—offering to fan her. I heard her talking away to all my friends inside; I guess she didn’t notice or care about the boxes. I could only smile. Princess Damla came all the way here just to forgive me...or maybe to help me forgive myself…
“So...are we still leaving Windbloom?” Tooth’s little voice chirped up from beside me. “It seems like you made up with the Princess...right?”
“She was never mad at me to begin with. It was just the king and queen...and the whispers and rumors that run rampant in Crystalis...and me.”
Tooth pulled at my leg, looking up at me and then out towards the road. I followed its gaze and saw Alkan, standing next to the carriage again, talking to one of the footmen.
“Then why are you just standing here? Go talk to him!” Tooth insisted.
“You...want me...to talk to Alkan?” Today was a day of surprises! Tooth was always weary of my relationship with Alkan and now suddenly wants me to talk to him? “But I thought you didn’t approve? He’s a scary vampire, remember?” I said, mimicking little fangs with my fingers.
“Elio, are you blind? It’s daytime and he’s in the sun! Alkan’s obviously NOT a vampire!” it cheered.
“Tooth! You always insisted he was!”
“Me? Never!” The comb said as it stuck its tongue out at me. We both laughed before it got serious again.
“It’s time to stop being afraid, Elio. You are always so happy with Alkan around...don’t let the opportunity pass you by!”
“And you’re ok—”
“Go get your man!” Tooth hopped around with stars in it’s eyes.
“You’re right...I need to be confident again,” I said as I took a deep breath in. “Thank you, Tooth...you’re always looking out for me.”
“And I always will,” it smiled. “Now, go! Go, go!” It hopped against my leg, trying to shove me.
I approached the carriage slowly, Alkan only noticing me as I got close. My heart started beating harder and faster in my chest with each step. I brushed my hair behind my ear and anxiously searched for the right words to say.
“Elio…” Alkan said as he smiled at me sweetly.
“So...you never mentioned Damla was your cousin,” I said. Really, Elio? That’s what you say to him after all this?
“She always beat me at arm wrestling when we were children,” he chuckled.
“She said you wrote to her about me?” I asked.
“I did. I realized something was amiss when that guard at the festival mentioned the Princess was looking for you. I wrote to her that evening and two days later, she appeared at my estate. She told me the rest during the trip here. I...hope I did not overstep,” he said apologetically. He shouldn’t be apologizing to me, I needed to apologize for abandoning him! I felt horrible about it, but I hoped he’d understand.
“Of course not! I’m...glad you did,” I tried to say sweetly. “Alkan. I-I’m sorry...about running away from the festival...and for ruining our date…” I tried to look at him directly, but my eyes became cloudy with tears.
“You have nothing to apologize for. You did not ruin anything.”
“But...I…” I hung my head, and took a deep breath.
“I wanted to see you… I wanted to chase after you and make sure you were alright,” he said with great concern. “I figured you would need some time alone with your friends,” he said. Oh Alkan, such a caring man. He seems like he’s forgiven me...but would he still want to date me? I wasn’t sure.
“Does this...change anything between us?” I asked. He grabbed my hand and kissed it.
“It does not for me.” He shook his head, reassuringly. I wiped my teary eyes, and tried to explain.
“I think...knowing that the princess never hated me, and despite those horrible rumors, none of them held water. Maybe I can finally get out of my own way…” I babbled on, trying to explain.
“Does that mean you will go on another date with me?” he rubbed his chin, excitedly.
“I want to! If you’re willing! This time...I promise not to run away again.” I clenched my fists and took Tooth’s advice to seize this moment and just be honest.
“If I am willing? Goodness, I would enjoy it very much. I am glad you will not be running away, I was worried...and besides, our little friend missed you!” he said as he snapped his fingers. The footman he was talking to moments ago approached from the carriage with something pink in his hands.
“Lips!!” I smiled, and retrieved the pouty, red-lipped dragon from the guard’s arms, and hugged it. It was super plush and soft as I squeezed it. “I’m sorry for abandoning you too, Lips.”
“I am almost jealous. You like the dragon plush more than me—” I jumped up, wrapping my arms around Alkan and pulling him close. Our lips met, and I kissed him for the first time. Time slowed and the world went fuzzy in an array of twinkling lights, his lips feeling soft and warm against mine. He wrapped his arms around my waist and held me tightly as we continued. When we finally stopped, we broke away and stared at each other, smiling in silence.
“Wow, that was...!” He chuckled and blushed slightly.
“I-I’d been wanting to do that for a while,” I stammered. He pulled me closer to him and kissed me again. He pressed his forehead to mine gently, and we gazed into each other's eyes. His golden eyes shone almost brighter than his smile. This was my moment. I mustered my courage and finally confessed my feelings to him.
“I...I love you, Alkan.”
“I love you too, beautiful wizard boy.”
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