Chapter 10:

☆A Happily Ever After☆

Magic Makes my Life Less Lonely!

“No no, deary! A little more to the left,” Irina barked orders from the couch.

“But you just said it was too far left a second ago!” Jasper protested, his bulk frame straining under the weight of two bookcases.

“Well, that was then, this is now!” the old woman cackled. She lounged back and relaxed, watching the scene before her while stroking Cushion all the while.

It had been a few days since the Princess’s surprise visit to the cottage, and my life had never felt so promising.

“My goodness...Elio! Please tell this handsome oaf that those bookcases look better to the left!” Irina spat

“Now, now my dear. This is Elio’s home now, not ours,” Ernest cooed. “Besides...we can organize at our new home. You can boss me around all you like.”

“Oh you…,” she said with a smile.

With my fears gone, I decided to take Ernest and Irina up on their offer and move into his old shop in Windbloom. I mean, we had everything packed up already, right?

“Just put the bookcases down there, and move the couch a smidge to the left instead,” I called to Jasper.

“Anything for you, dude!” he called back, plopping the furniture down with a gentle bang.

“What are you—ah!” Irina shouted as Jasper moved the couch. “Oh, much better! See? I told you!”

“Right…” Ernest and Jasper, rolling their eyes.

“WHA?! Was that an earthquake?” Cushion cried, startled awake from the shaking couch. We could only laugh as it yawned and slowly drifted back to sleep.

I smiled, walking outside to retrieve another box from the wagon. Turns out I didn’t need movers—all of my friends from town pitched in to help me move! Irina was quite good at rallying people once they learned I’d actually be moving into town.

“Elio, do you like this would spot for the goldenhorn?” Rosetta stopped me, and pointed to a spot next to the front door of my new home. She was so kind to transplant a bunch of my plants from the cottage to the new garden. “I think it would look perfect next to the coral ranunculus!”

“Oh pretty! Honestly, I trust you to arrange it however you think is best! You were pretty much the one responsible for the garden at my old place.”

The expert gardener fixed her hair and smiled, “Shucks, Elio! Your thumb’s gotten greener even if you won’t admit it. You managed to keep everything alive between my visits, didn’t you?” We both shared a small laugh.

“Less green, more magic, I think, but I’ll take the compliment” I replied happily.

“Well I'll keep on it!” she cheered as she gave a small salute and continued with her planting.

As I went to lift one of the boxes from the wagon, it suddenly lifted in the air and almost took me with it!

“Trying to fly, are we?” Mei said snarkily.

“I wish, though levitation isn’t out of the question if you need a break,” I offered.

“That won’t be necessary, I enjoy the challenge. Besides, I’m happy that we will now have the protection of a wizard in this town.”

“I hope you don’t expect me to fight! I’m more of a lover than a fighter...” I said awkwardly, scratching my head.

“Yeah, but you’ve got your uses. I’m happy you’re here.” From Mei, that was high praise.

“I’m happy to finally be here,” I smiled. Mei responded with a little half-smile and nod as she walked past me with the box. I took a smaller one and went back into my new home.

“You’re crooked,” Tock said mockingly to its twin from their new place on the wall above the shop counter.

“And you’re off by an hour,” Tick responded slyly.

“WHAT?!” Tock jumped about, spinning it’s clock-hands wildly.

“Now, now you two. You agreed to leave the bickering behind at the cottage,” I chided, but they kept arguing. Oh well, it feels more like home this way anyway.

I made my way past the workshop area and up the spiral staircase to the bedroom. Inside was a new, wonderful and slightly nerve-wracking sight. In the center was my handsome Alkan, unpacking things gently with Tooth directing where they should be placed around the room.

“...And those should go over there next to the bed. Oh, hi Elio!” Tooth hopped about.

“Hey, pretty one!” Alkan said when he saw me.

“Hey to you too,” I said, leaning in for a kiss. I gave him a quick smooch and a hug. “I don’t think I will ever get tired of that.”

“Really guys? We have a lot to unpack. Although I must say, Alkan has been quite helpful,” Tooth said happily.

“I have had such a good direction from my friend here,” Alkan said, pointing to Tooth.

“Well thank you for everything,” I said with a big smile.

“Of course,” Alkan smiled as he opened the box I was holding. Inside was the cute pink dragon plush he’d won me at the festival. “Hmmm, I think Lips will probably be much more comfortable over here, no?” he said as he placed it on my bed.

“Lips! I’m so glad you’re safe. Are you ok? I’m so sorry to put you in that dark box!” I apologized, cuddling my plush.

“I’m sure it’s fine. Anyway, we have more work to do!” Tooth said.

“But what if it isn’t? Do you think...I should enchant it?” I said not-so-sacastically.

“I wonder what it would have to say…” Alkan said, rubbing his chin as he pondered. What would an adorable pink dragon plush with flaming hot red lips have to say...

“Elio! Help!!” I suddenly heard a voice cry from downstairs.

Alkan and I turned to look at one another before we grabbed Tooth and made our way back down to the shop portion of the house.

“She’s trying to take my treasures away!! Stop them!” Carton cried, as Mei started to take the last few books from it.

“Does everything talk in this place? Hey, I’m just trying to unpack—”

“But my treasures! My wealth of knowledge!” Carton lamented.

“It’s alright, Mei. You can leave those in there.”

“...You sure?” she asked dryly.

“Better do it! Carton doesn’t think it’s a box, but a great treasure chest, holding great knowledge… We wouldn’t want it to be empty!” Tooth said, rolling its eyes.

“Well of course I’m a box, but why can’t I be a treasure box?!” Carton huffed.

“It’s ok, Carton! You’re special even if you are just made of cardboard. I’m just feathers and fabric!” Cushion tried to comfort the box.

“...Thank you, my dear fluffball.” Carton let a weary smile show through.

Tick coughed a couple of times to get our attention and said, “The time is now—”

“12:30!” Tock interjected. The two stared at one another, and narrowed their eyes disapprovingly.

“...That’s right.” Tick sighed in agreement.

“Everyone! Listen up! I sent Ernest to pick up some lunch. He should be back any moment!” Irina said, shouting loud enough to give away her age.

“Wow, you really thought of everything, Irina! Thank you.” She had good timing, I started to feel peckish and I wanted to impress Tooth with my better eating habits...assuming Irina ordered something good!

“Don’t thank me, it’s no problem! I’m so happy you decided to take up Ernest’s offer. I know he’s just tickled pink you did as well!”

“Well, it was perfect timing,” I admitted

“Indeed…” she said with a little wink. “Of course...with you being local, maybe you’ll finally concoct that curse I’ve been asking for?”

“A curse? Can you really do that, Elio?” Alkan asked, turning to me in surprise.

“I—I could but...”

“It’d just be a simple hex, deary,” she said, rubbing her hands together schemingly.

“But Mildred is out of the picture, who could possibly be the target of your hex?”

“Sorry I’m late, it was a lot to carry!” Erenst appeared at the doorway, carrying huge bags stacked with food in both hands. Behind him was another woman who looked quite familiar, also holding some food. She took a step inside and gave a little wave. I felt a quick yank on my arm and before I knew it Irina was whispering in my ear.

“See?! I told you!! That Mildred! Wily as ever!” she hissed. Alkan just let out a cute, boyish laugh, witnessing Irina’s antics for the first time.

“I ran into Cousin Mildred and she offered to help me back. I hope you don’t mind!” Ernest said, putting the bags on the table.

“C-Cousin?!” Irina gasped, her jaw hitting the floor.

I leaned over to Alkan and whispered, “I guess she doesn’t know everything.”

“I’ve got water ready for tea if anyone wants some!” Brew called from the kitchenette.

“Let me help with that, Brew!” Rosetta said, walking in from the garden. “I’ve actually got some special dried chrysanthemum petals I’ve been dying to try…”

“Oh? Do tell!” Brew said cheerily.

“Alright everyone, let’s eat!” Jasper said, licking his lips.

“Yeah! I’m starving!” Mei said excitedly. I’ve never seen her like that!

We dropped a few blankets on the floor, and unpacked the food. It was a delicious spread of fried rice, roasted veggies, and various noodles. We talked and laughed for hours while we ate and set up my new home. Jasper had a deck of cards, and once we got the table set up, I cast an enlargement spell to make it big enough for all of us to sit at and play. We had enough places to sit, counting the couch, so we played several rounds of go-fish and other card games. Mildred suggested we play old maid while looking towards Irina, who seemed ready to jump across the table. Even though it would’ve typically caused a fight, there was such immediate and swift laughter that it lightened the mood even further. After we were done playing, our bellies full and the house unpacked, everyone bid Alkan and I goodnight. As we waved them goodbye from the doorway, the goldenhorn glowed beautifully in the moonlight, illuminating the quaint streets of Windbloom. We turned to one another, and shared a sweet kiss.

From the house, I heard Novella’s little voice recite, “...and the prince lived happily ever after…”, which garnered a collective “aww” from the rest of my little friends.

“Welcome to your new home,” Alkan said, flashing his fangs in a gentle smile.

It felt wonderful to be cared about, by not only my wonderful boyfriend, but by so many residents of this sweet town. My...friends. I had more than I could count. With my enchanted housemates, my friends in Windbloom, and my viscount boyfriend, I was never lonely again.

Taylor Victoria