Winter has come, as it indicates the end of the year. This season has plenty of festivals in store, which could bring in friends, lovers, and families closer to each other. Winter also sets the turning of the New Year.
It is the middle of the Winter, the Starry Night Festival coming in closer. People began inviting their loved ones to celebrate with them under the cold, starry winter sky. People do stargazing, or have a feast, or anything they want to do according to their festive mood.
Pete harvested broccolis, strawberries, and white berries in the valley he took residence in. He was planning to make a stir-fried broccoli topped with melted cheese and a berry dessert for the upcoming Starry Night Festival date with his crush Emily. He wanted to impress Emily with his cooking skills, even if Emily herself is completely capable of cooking. He stored his fresh harvests in his refrigerator along with some eggs, milk, butter, and cheese that he will use to cook his dishes.
During sundown, Pete went to hike to the Harvest Goddess Spring to relax after a whole day of harvesting his crops and taking care of his livestock. He saw Catherine looking around the place. Their eyes met and Pete greeted the girl.
“Good afternoon, Miss Catherine! Such a nice winter we’re having!” Pete greeted with the usual smile to his face.
“Hmph. Pete. You and your foolish smile again… Have you gotten that knitted sweater the other day?” Catherine said.
“That’s the large sweater you threw in my face, right?”
“Was that your father’s sweater? I think you’re holding it tightly because you miss him so much!”
“What?!? No! I do miss my father, but that sweater was my mother’s present to YOU! She wanted ME to give it to YOU because you’re helping out with OUR valley!”
“I see. Tell your mom thank you!”
After a couple more bantering from Pete to Catherine, a puff of smoke appeared. The World’s Number One Witch, Tabitha, made a flashy appearance to the two.
“Pete!” Tabitha said loudly and cheerfully. “I was looking for you!”
Catherine, knowing her previous encounter with the witch, glared at her with so much distrust on her face. She took a grip of Pete’s arm tightly, giving a signal that they should go before the witch causes trouble. Pete shook his arm off to let go of himself to Catherine’s grip.
“Hello, Tabitha! How’s The World’s Number One Witch doing?” Pete greeted Tabitha with an equally cheerful expression like the witch’s.
“Oh, you know… Fine as usual!” Tabitha replied.
Tabitha then showed a shady-looking bottle with red liquid in it.
“No. Pete. We should go now. This girl will—“ Catherine whispered to Pete before she was interrupted.
“I’m good friends with Tabitha! I must entertain her, otherwise she’ll curse me!” Pete whispered back.
“What?!? You’re friends with that witch? Tsk, tsk! I should’ve expected better from you. You don’t pick your fr—“ Catherine whispered again before Pete made her mouth shut to listen to Tabitha.
“This potion will give you a stamina boost!” Tabitha said to Pete, while showing off her bottle happily. “I made a new recipe for a potion out of scratch! This time, my potion will work! I’m sure!”
“Are you sure this won’t turn me into a frog?” Pete asked.
“No, no! You’ve been fulfilling my requests often, and I don’t really have a request for you right now so I don’t have the intention of turning you into a frog this time! Drink, drink!” Tabitha said, while gently shaking the bottle before handing it out to Pete.
“Pete, no! You’ve been tricked by this witch before! Don’t drink that!” Catherine yelled.
“But didn’t she said that she will make it up to me ‘next time’? I’m going to give her a chance!” Pete said to Catherine.
“You’re going to black out again! Nobody will save you this time when you faint!” Catherine lectured Pete.
“I’m going to save him! If you don’t want to save him, I will carry him back to his house!” Tabitha said, boasting her strength to the two by flexing her arm muscle.
Catherine glared at Tabitha. Tabitha looked at her smugly and said, “Oh? You’re going to act all softy again, my dear girl! Are you gonna panic again when Pete faints?”
“Enough! It’s my decision! I will drink this potion for Tabitha!” Pete yelled.
Pete drank the potion straight from the bottle. He felt awakened after drinking the potion. He felt like a rush of energy was flowing to his veins.
“This… This tastes like strawberries! …With a little kick of spice to it! Wow, I feel so wide awake! Wow!” Pete was really amazed at the potion.
Catherine looked at Pete with a lot of worry on her face. She was frowning. Pete was so pumped up and he began to bounce up and down on his knees.
“Thanks a ton, Tabitha! This potion really works! I feel so, so—“ Pete thanked Tabitha for her potion. However, Pete felt a snap on his brain and fainted.
Catherine’s fears happened right in front of her eyes again. She can’t help but to yell at Tabitha.
“What have you done again! You’re so troublesome! Now we have to carry him back to his home again!” Catherine yelled to the sorry witch.
“That’s just a side effect! He’s going to be fine!” Tabitha assured the worrisome lady.
Catherine began lifting Pete with all her strength and placed him on her back. Pete was light and skinny, yet she was having a hard time carrying him because of her petite stature and her body not being trained enough to lift heavy objects.
Tabitha lent a hand on Catherine. “I’ll help you carry him,” the witch said.
Catherine and Tabitha went to Pete’s home with all their best efforts to carry him. They made him rest to his bed. Catherine was very exhausted and decided to sit on the wooden chair in his house.
“I have a potion that could resurrect him,” Tabitha said to Catherine.
“Don’t even try it yourself. It’s going to end up horribly,” Catherine replied.
Tabitha picked up a vial with green fluid in it. She took an opportunity when Catherine wasn’t looking. She placed a drop of the green fluid from the vial on Pete’s forehead. After a few minutes, the fluid glowed to white. Catherine was blabbering about something about being worried for Pete, but Tabitha wasn’t listening to her. Tabitha then went face to face with Catherine. The witch just smiled and nodded, and the platinum blonde was wondering what the mischievous witch did.
“Were… Were you listening to me this whole time?” Catherine asked to Tabitha.
“Yeah, lots of interesting stuff you’re talking about. You sure have a soft spot for Petey Boy,” Tabitha lied with a playful smirk on her face.
Catherine bought Tabitha’s lies and she was shocked that the witch “listened” to her.
“Don’t tell anyone about everything I’ve said, even to Pete!” Catherine warned the witch.
“Oh, I’ll tell everyone,” Tabitha said to pull some nerve on Catherine. Then she walked away to check on Pete.
There was a cold air of silence that lasted for an hour. Pete woke up with Tabitha resting on his side. He got up, making the witch go awake too.
“Wha… What happened?” Pete asked.
Catherine was surprised and run immediately towards Pete.
“Don’t be so reckless again! I want you to stop accepting any items from anyone anymore! Especially to this witch! It will only harm you!” Catherine furiously said.
“Oh, you accepted to ingest my stamina potion. It worked a bit, but you fainted. Looks like I will redo my formula again!” Tabitha said to Pete.
Tabitha winked and bragged, “I’ve put a potion to bring you back to your senses, though. It worked! You can totally thank me!”
“You’ve put a potion to Pete again?!? What is wrong with you?!?” Catherine raised her voice to the witch.
“Come on now, we all wanted him to live! I thought of the easiest way possible!” Tabitha explained to the seething lady in blue. Then she smiled at the lady, trying to lift her mood. “Shouldn’t you be thanking me because I have saved your prince?”
“You sound so condescending right now!” Catherine yelled.
“Come on, Pete is feeling a lot better now! You’re doing great, aren’t you?” Tabitha said and shifted her attention to Pete.
“My head feels so heavy. I want to be better on Starry Night Festival!” Pete complained.
“Just take enough rest for now. I’m so sorry for the trouble! You’re not going to take any of my potions this time since you’ll be busy this Starry Night Festival,” Tabitha apologized to Pete.
“Yes, you should be sorry to him! Don’t make him drink any of your shady liquids ever again,” Catherine nagged to Tabitha.
“Maybe next time!” Tabitha shrugged.
“Next time? There will be no next time! How many times have you brought Pete into danger? Don’t ever come near him ever again!” Catherine said, and then she talked to Pete. “Pete, you shouldn’t do that again! Don’t bring yourself into trouble, people are actually worried about you!”
“Worried about me? Please don’t kid yourself,” Pete said smugly. “You shouldn’t be taking all the trouble to help me out, Tabitha will be responsible for her mistakes!”
“What?!? Well if you don’t need me, fine! I’m out of here you dull-witted oaf!” Catherine exclaimed, and slammed the door to leave.
“I don’t really need her anyway. She’s bringing me to a bad mood,” Pete said to Tabitha. “Sure, her family owns the valley and all, but her family stopped caring about this place. She shouldn’t be standing on a high horse when her coward family abandoned this place. I built this place again.”
Tabitha didn’t understood Pete completely, but she tried to sympathize to him and tapped his shoulder.
“Don’t worry about it! I can help you out in no time as long as you’re trying to help me! I think that girl really has a soft spot for you, since you’re so helpful and pretty charming,” Tabitha said in hopes of elevating Pete’s mood.
Before Tabitha left, she cheerfully said to Pete, “Rest up, you’ll need it for the grand Starry Night Festival! I’m pretty sure you have a date. Who can’t resist your charms?” Then she walked to the door and waved goodbye.
“Yeah, I have a date. See you!” Pete said back, and waved to Tabitha. Pete slept throughout the night.
Tabitha snapped and disappeared through a puff of smoke. She teleported herself back to the Harvest Goddess Spring. She saw the wizard Gareth searching for some sample wild flowers that grow in the winter.
“Hey, blockhead,” Tabitha said to the busy wizard. “Did you know? There’s three days left for Starry Night Festival!”
Gareth ignored Tabitha. Annoyed with his indifference, Tabitha pulled her wand and struck a lightning to one of the flowers Gareth was observing.
“What’s your problem?” Gareth asked. “I don’t pay much attention on these events humans partake to. Therefore, I don’t care about them.”
“There’s a problem between Pete and a girl. We should compete to get them in good terms! Winner will be declared the best magician the whole world ever has!” Tabitha declared a competition between Gareth and her.
“…I am not interested,” Gareth flatly said to the boastful witch and observed a couple more flowers again.
“Are you serious? This could be our magical night! We will finally see who’s the better magician!”
“We don’t have to compete. I believe we have different sets of spells and mastery in magic. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Both are similar in classification, but contain entirely different attributes. Therefore, not exactly equal.”
“Are you seriously implying that you’re better than me?”
“That’s a fact.”
Tabitha threw a fit, stomping to the ground again. “Eat dirt! I’ll have you know, I’ve resurrected an unconscious man with a use of my potions! You can’t beat that!”
“That’s good that you’ve made someone awake,” Gareth deadpanned.
“You haven’t seen the last of me! I will tell you my marvels every time I will see you! I will rub my accomplishments into your face until you get annoyed with it!” Tabitha said. “Smell you later, dork!” Then she poofed out. Gareth just sighed and resumed to his task.
It was finally the Starry Night Festival. People were preparing for their meetings with their loved ones. Everybody was busy preparing making delicious food and deciding what to wear on this special day. People spend this day with their families or have a date with their sweethearts. They are celebrating under the cold winter sky full of stars.
Catherine was frustrated at how Pete and Tabitha acted the other day. She hated the fact that she’s not in control of everything and she will never predict the responses of her peers. She doesn’t like to be brought down. Especially when people like Pete talk to her casually. She’s not used to it. She never got any words from Pete about going to the Starry Night Festival with her, and she’s expecting some apology from him for everything he did to her. She was alone in her room, covered her head with a pillow as she laid on her bed. She wanted to clear her head for a while, to clear her head of thoughts as clear as the sky later on that night.
Later on that night, Catherine and her mother had a meal.
“Do you have any plans for this wonderful night?” Catherine’s mother asked.
“No, mother,” Catherine replied.
“Why not? Even your friend in the valley, what’s his name again, didn’t invited you?”
“You seem upset, darling. Please don’t raise your tone like that.”
“Do you have any problems? It looks like you have a lot in your mind. You’re eating slower than usual. You’ve kept your head down these days. Did somebody hurt you?”
“No. Why would I get hurt? I’m not a sensitive person, mother. Besides, I don’t get into fights because I am a very diplomatic person,” Catherine denied.
“If you don’t have someone to spend the Starry Night Festival with you, stay here with us. After all, we’re your family.”
“Yes mother. It’s better looking at the stars in our garden than anywhere else.”
Then the mother and her daughter kept quiet as they continued eating. When evening arrived, Catherine and her mother went to the garden along with their servants. Catherine’s mother and a couple of servants assembled a telescope so everybody in the mansion can see the shining stars closer.
“Catherine, will you be coming to the valley again even if it makes you so upset?” Catherine’s mother asked out of nowhere.
“I think I will rest here for a while. The seasons were finally brought back to the valley and Pete doesn’t need me anymore. Maybe I will go there every season to observe the progress and report it to my father,” Catherine said.
“It’s much better to rest here for a while. The garden is the best place to ease yourself. That’s what I think. Whenever I feel down I go here in the garden. This place… it feels so solemn, isn’t it?” Catherine’s mother said, and smiled to her only daughter.
The servants prepared lavender tea and placed it on the table. One servant poured the fragrant tea from two cups and gave it to their masters. Then, Catherine, her mother, and her servants all quietly watched the starry night sky in the middle of the cold winter. Catherine peeked on the telescope and saw the stars that twinkle like crystals in the dark blue sky. They forgot all their worries and had a happy moment as one family.
Outside the white mansion lies a valley now full of life and the four seasons passing normally. There are places filled with the beauty and mysteries of nature. There will be different kinds of people that are agreeable and disagreeable.
The outside is a much more colorful place than what Catherine has imagined. Catherine was a sheltered young lady under a rich family, so she thought that she knew everything well. But there were things that she still don’t know, and realized that not everyone will bow down to her or acknowledge her high profile background. She was still happy to experience her adventures in the valley, and she was glad that she did a little favor to Pete to bring back her family’s valley to its normal state. She finally accepted that not everyone will like her, and she moved on with her life.