Shawn met Niall in spring, and he was instantly hooked.
As the snow was melting and the winter jackets were being shed, Shawn was looking forward to something warm, and Niall was a bubble of sunshine, always smiling and laughing. He lit up Shawn’s world.
At the beginning of their relationship, he’d have the occasional bad day where he’d want to just be alone, but after a few weeks of seeing each other, he started inviting Shawn to be alone with him. They’d cuddle together in bed, heads under the covers even as the temperature outside rose, and whisper secrets to each other.
They had inside jokes that made Shawn laugh until his knees couldn’t support his body anymore, and even their fights — though small and about meaningless things like what to watch on Netflix — just further enamoured Shawn.
They’ve been together for six months, strong as ever. Only…
So things aren’t perfect . There’s this one bit that Shawn doesn’t quite understand. Niall has an ongoing inside joke with himself where he keeps trying to convince Shawn he’s a witch. He didn’t tell Shawn his ‘secret’ until they’d been together for six months, but when he did, it was with a serious face and promise that Shawn wouldn’t tell any witch hunters or ask Niall to perform any dark magic in his favor.
It was cute at first, Shawn going along with it, smiling as he thanked whatever deity was looking down on him that he got such an adorable boyfriend, but then he started to notice how in depth Niall went for this joke.
He has an all black cat, an adorable thing named Persephone. She’s sweet as can be and always runs to Shawn as soon as he walks through the door, but still. She’s all black. Shawn didn’t think anything of it until he saw the cauldron resting atop Niall’s dining table, which is just a ridiculous amount of dedication for a joke that’s not hitting.
There was once a time when they were playing around and making fun of each other that Shawn asked Niall to show some of his magic, but Niall shook his head, eyes wider and brighter than Shawn had ever seen them. “My powers are only strong in October. If you can wait, I’ll show you something incredible.”
Shawn laughed it off, and let his boyfriend have his fun. Every once in a while, Niall would have a cloak lying on the table, or he’d act embarrassed when Shawn saw a triangular flask full of some clear liquid, claiming it was a potion.
Sure, he’s a little weird — but odd, pretend witchy tendencies aside, Shawn really likes him. They work well together and Niall’s a genuinely caring person.
He’s just a little strange.
On the first day of October — a day Shawn wouldn’t normally take the time to recognize — he walks into Niall’s house and is hit with Halloween.
He’s seen some lawns with skeletons and pumpkins, and his neighbor has been playing Monster Mash on repeat, but it’s nothing compared to the complete essence of the holiday filling every single space of Niall’s home.
There are cobwebs on the walls and covering the corners of the living room. The caldron is honestly steaming from its spot on the table, and it’s surrounded by what look like chemistry flasks. Persephone trots past his feet, and she’s even wearing a little witch’s hat. It’s adorable, and Shawn has to laugh at how far Niall’s willing to go for this joke.
His boyfriend is nothing if not extra, and Shawn is unbelievably charmed by it all.
“ Niall ?”
His call is met with a thud down the hall where Persephone disappeared. He makes his way back there, having to blink a few times when he walks into Niall’s room. It’s completely dark, almost unbelievable for this time of day. The curtains are drawn and his light bulbs have been replaced with black lights, making the whole room shine purple.
The man in question is standing at a bookshelf, dressed in a dark cloak, and putting glass bottles where his books used to sit. He’s holding the same chemistry flasks that were cluttering his dining room table, only these ones seem to be filled with what looks like various flavors of Kool-Aid.
It’s a lot of unnecessary work for a joke, in Shawn’s opinion.
Niall looks up from his flasks with a grin. “It’s October.”
“It sure is,” Shawn laughs. This is by far the weirdest moment he’s ever had in his relationship with Niall. “You really don’t waste any time, do you?”
“Of course not.” Niall’s voice is breathy, all of his focus going into organizing his Kool-Aid. “My magic is strongest this time of year.”
Shawn bites his lips to stop himself from saying something he shouldn’t, from making a joke of something Niall’s put so much — too much — effort into. He considers the juices Niall’s putting up, and figures they can’t have too long of a shelf life.
“Don’t you think those should be in the kitchen?”
Niall looks from his hands to Shawn, and then to the shelf, his brows furrowed for the entire journey. He glances back at Shawn with disbelief written on his face. “Of course not, don’t be ridiculous.” He puts the flask in his hand on the shelf, and then reaches down, pulling a string out of the box at his feet. It comes up with a tiny flask attached to it. He wears it like a necklace. “I need to keep them close.”
“Right, of course.” A bit of the novelty and humor wears off. Niall’s not acting like he usually does during a joke, and it makes Shawn feel slightly off. “How silly of me.”
There’s no reply from Niall as he focuses closely on his work. Shawn watches, wondering if he’ll crack a smile and reveal that this was all just for fun, but nothing happens. They both stand in the room for far too long saying nothing, the focus of their attention — sugary juice in flasks — better fit for a classroom.
Persephone trails into the room, and Shawn reaches down to pet her, but she she avoids his hands. Usually, she runs to him the moment he’s in the door, but she’s barely even acknowledged his presence since his arrival.
It’s all very peculiar.
After far too long has past, Shawn asks, “Are you ready for breakfast?”
“I first have to finish,” Niall answers without so much as looking up.
“I’ll just wait in the living room.”
“You don’t have to fear the magic, Shawn.” Niall’s voice almost echoes in the room, and it sends a slight chill down Shawn’s spine. “You can watch.”
Persephone is sitting at Niall’s feet, making consistent eye contact with Shawn, while Niall sets up a display for a few test tubes of grape Kool-Aid. It’s all too weird for him.
“I - I’m alright,” he says eventually, slowly inching his way out. “I’ll just be on the couch.” He makes his way out and waits. He hears Niall talking to himself, can catch small phrases like ‘eye of newt’ and ‘kanama blood.’ Shawn stays in his seat, refusing to indulge Niall’s antics.
And when Niall finishes up, emerging from his room without the cloak on, Shawn pretends nothing happened and takes his boyfriend out for breakfast, leaving behind what feels like an alternate dimension, and hoping he doesn’t have to go back.
It’s been a week of Niall’s ‘witchy nonsense’ and Shawn’s not afraid to admit it’s a little fun. Sure, it’s confusing as all hell, but movie nights are tinted purple, the decorations look amazing in Niall’s house, and though it may be embarrassing to say out loud, his boyfriend wearing a cloak does something to Shawn.
Although, when he said he’d blow him in public underneath his cloak, he was speaking rhetorically. It wasn’t an invitation for Niall to show up in said cloak at Shawn’s job, in the middle of the afternoon, looking like he’s just escaped a kidnapper.
Shawn grabs his arm and pulls him to the corner of the store before he can knock down a record display. “What’re you doing here?” he asks quietly, making sure to keep his voice down as not to disturb the customers.
“Shawn,” Niall all but yells, having no regard for the customers. “I need your hair.” A teenager looking at the Smiths record snaps to look at them, his face showing all of the confusion and slight disgust that Shawn’s feeling. “Quick, we can’t waste much time.”
“No, Niall, I - ” Shawn’s words go unsaid, interrupted by Niall’s nimble hands reaching for his hair. He grabs Niall’s wrist and pushes him back gently. “Niall, stop. What’s going on?”
“I need a piece of your hair, babe,” Niall explains, his eyes rolling in a less than playful way. “It’s important.”
“I’m at work .”
Despite Shawn’s refusal, Niall keeps trying to reach for Shawn’s hair, and it’s attracting the attention of all of the customers. It’s by far the weirdest moment they’ve ever had as a couple, but Shawn puts it down to the joke. Niall’s willing to go the extra mile for this long running witch gag. Shawn can’t say it’s not admirable.
But that still doesn’t stop him from batting Niall’s hands away from his hair.
“It’s for your own protection,” Niall insists.
“ Stop .” Shawn’s less assertive than he was at the beginning, his tone more of a whine than anything else by now. They must make quite the sight, hands flapping at each other in their bickering.
Niall groans, throwing his hands down, both curled into fists. “Being connected to me in this month is a call for disaster , love,” he explains. “I need your hair for a protection spell. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to you because I forgot to do this on the eve of the season.”
It’s confusing, and he’s almost certain Niall’s speaking gibberish. He wants to drag Niall outside and figure what on Earth he’s getting from this joke, but the sound of a door squeaking open echoes through the store, and Shawn sees his boss walking out of her office, eyebrows furrowed as she looks around.
Afraid of being reprimanded at the cost of this one joke, he just rips a few pieces of his hair out and gives them to Niall. It’s not a gift, it’s not money, yet Niall’s face lights up like he’s just been given the entire world. He leans up and kisses Shawn’s cheek.
“You’ll be safe now,” he whispers.
He leaves with a wave of his cape and a giggle that’s never come from his mouth before, and Shawn’s left standing there wondering what the fuck just happened, and how far Niall’s willing to go with this whole ‘witch’ thing.
It’s a rare occasion that Shawn, Niall, and all of their friends have the same day off, so when they do it’s somewhat of a holiday for them. It happens only once a month or so, of course, but they go all out the night before, ordering enough drinks to kill a few men, and then get properly trashed.
They don’t take this night lightly — never casually decide that day, and they definitely don’t forget when it’s coming. They plan weeks ahead, save up their extra cash, and spend the week prior getting excited. The group chat they’re in has been going off all day with promises of getting each other fucked up and bets on how long it’ll take before Harry starts trying to request Fleetwood Mac.
It’s an important night, alright?
Which is why it’s so peculiar when Shawn knocks on Niall’s house door and there’s no answer. Shawn waits a minute, but when Niall doesn’t open, he tries the handle. It’s unlocked.
The house is quiet, still in a way that suggests nobody’s home. Shawn walks down the hallway and opens Niall’s bedroom door to see him sitting cross-legged in the center of it, candles lit to either side of him and Persephone sitting in front of him, her ears bent and eyes closed.
Altogether, it looks like something of satanic ritual, but Shawn knows Niall would never go that far, not even for the most spectacular of jokes. If he had to guess, he’d say they’re meditating.
When Shawn shuts the bedroom door behind him, suddenly Persephone’s eyes are opening and she’s hissing at Shawn. They sound scares him. Persephone’s never been anything but an angel around him, running towards him for pets and cuddles the moment he walks inside. Sometimes she doesn’t stay long, running off to do whatever feline things she has planned, but she never hissed at him.
That’s his first sign something’s wrong.
The second is the agitated groan Niall lets out. And when Shawn looks up, he’s glaring, something annoyed and angry — a look Shawn’s never been graced with from his boyfriend.
“You alright?” Shawn asks hesitantly.
The tense set of Niall’s shoulders tell him that he’s not alright. “You’ve distracted me.”
“I’m… sorry?” He doesn’t mean to sound insincere, but this feels like a side of Niall unseen before. Even his cat is acting off. “I told you I’d be here at eight.”
“Levitation takes time, Shawn,” Niall snaps. His legs unfold until they’re bent in front of him. His cloak lays awkwardly on his shoulder, and Shawn wants to fix it, but he knows Niall would never allow him to. “I was almost there, but now it’ll take another hour to reach where I was.”
“Levitation?” Shawn’s confused at first, but then his words set in. “Wait, an hour ?”
Niall rolls his eyes and Shawn’s a bit hurt. Niall’s treating him as though he’s stupid, when honestly, he hasn’t had clue about anything that’s happened since the first of the month. “I know this is all new for you, but yes. I have to center myself, and Persephone has to center herself.” Looking down, Shawn sees Persephone sitting exactly where she was when he’d entered, stiff as a board. Oddly enough, it feels like she’s almost angry with him. “It takes about an hour before we’re both at peace, and then I can levitate.”
“What else would it mean?” Niall replies too quickly, sounding exasperated.
Shawn bites back any other comment. He knows that his boyfriend is a bit of a head case, but he’s pretty sure he loves him, weird witchy tendencies and all. This is just an odd moment in their relationship and they can easily move past it.
They just have to stop talking about it.
“We promised Liam we’d meet him at the bar at eighty-thirty,” he says, getting back to the topic at hand.
“But I’m too grounded.”
“I - ” Shawn cuts himself off. He doesn’t know what Niall means, but he doesn’t want to fight about it. He takes a deep breath. “I understand,” he says instead, “but we made a promise. Don’t witches have an honor code?”
Niall rolls his eyes and stands up, ripping his cloak off with an attitude Shawn’s never seen from him before. “You don’t have to be so bloody offensive about it.” Niall storms out, lips pursed, and not addressing Shawn at all.
Utterly confused, Shawn follows. He knows his jaw is dropped, but he can’t seem to close it. He feels like he’s just said something he shouldn’t’ve, but he doesn’t know how he possibly could have.
All night, Niall’s a bit off kilter. He doesn’t drink much, and he nearly trips three times before they even meet their friends. When Louis makes jokes at Shawn’s expense, Niall doesn’t laugh, too busy staring off into the distance. Shawn tries to pull him aside, tries to figure out what’s going on in his head, but he keeps insisting it’s because he’s too connected to Earth. That he’d be better had he gotten to levitate.
Shawn lets it go on for about an hour before he’s dragging Niall out of the bar and taking him home. When they get to Niall’s, he tries to go inside, at least hoping to end the night with his boyfriend, but Niall doesn’t let him in, saying Persephone won’t be able to relax with Shawn there.
So Shawn drives home, sober, confused, and a little hurt.
In the middle of October, after Shawn’s made them both a nice dinner and they shared a candle lit bath together, they’re cuddling in bed. They’re at Shawn’s place for once, and Niall’s drawing patterns on Shawn’s palm. It’s nice, and Shawn feels so relaxed. It’s the first time since October began that things feels normal.
In the distance, a wolf howls, and Shawn chuckles. With the cool temperature and the trees losing leaves just outside of his window, it all fits. It’s their first autumn together, but it’s nice. Peaceful.
That is, until Niall sits up straight entirely too quickly. He’s nearly naked, only a pair of boxers hugging his hips, and it’s only just above freezing outside, but he’s staring ahead like none of this bothers him. “It’s a full moon.”
“Are you a werewolf now too?” Shawn asks sarcastically, making sure to keep his voice quiet so as to not seem too rude.
It doesn’t matter in the end. Niall pays him no mind. “I must go.”
He throws the blanket off of himself and it goes off of Shawn a bit. Even with only a tiny bit of his skin exposed to the air, he’s already shivering, yet Niall walks over to the dresser with no outward signs of being cold.
“You’re leaving?” Shawn watches as Niall pulls a cloak out of his drawer. “When did you put that in there?”
“My magic makes sure I always have what I need,” he says as way of explanation.
Shawn rubs his eyes. It’s not even been the full month, and he’s already so exhausted with this. “Babe, it’s the middle of the night. Come back to bed.”
“But it’s a full moon!” Niall replies, wrapping the fabric around his near-naked body.
“I understand that - ”
“You don’t ,” Niall bites. The harshness to it has Shawn leaning back in shock. “You don’t understand. I can’t expect you to, of course, but don’t pretend you do.” He’s mostly been mumbling to himself, something he does all too much of nowadays, but he turns to Shawn, hard eyes going soft. “Now, I’ll be back at sunrise. Don’t leave the house.”
Shawn rolls his eyes. “Maybe listen to your own advice.”
Niall laughs, only further reminding that this is all a prank Niall’s concocted, and he’s going to extreme lengths for the sake of it. “I promise, things will be easier at the end of the season, but for now you must listen. The full moon is no place for a mortal.”
“I’m not a mortal actually,” Shawn replies sardonically, a bitter edge in his tone. “I’m a shapeshifter.” There’s no response, and when Shawn looks up, Niall’s gone and the window is wide open. “What the fuck ?”
November can’t come soon enough.
Despite Niall being, perhaps, the weirdest person on Earth, Shawn still really likes him, possibly loves him, and is committed to making sure they have a strong, healthy relationship that lasts. He doesn’t bring up the random disappearing in the middle of the night, and instead, decides to put it behind him, which is much more difficult than he thought it’d be.
He goes over to Niall’s a few days later, lunch in hand, ready to surprise his boyfriend. He picked up Niall’s favorite order from the cafe down the block, and they put it in a special, Halloween-themed bag. Shawn thought it was sweet and that Niall, with his love of everything spooky, would smile at it.
It’s the middle of the day when Shawn arrives, yet nobody answers the door when he knocks. He tries the handle — it’s locked — so he uses his spare key he was given for emergencies.
No, this isn’t an emergency, but Niall’s car is in the driveway, and he never turns away visitors. He might as well call it an emergency if it’ll justify walking into his boyfriend’s house.
Niall’s sitting at the dining table when Shawn enters. The cauldron’s been placed on the floor, switched out for rows and rows of papers scattered across the table surface. It seems that Shawn doesn’t need any justification for entering as Niall doesn’t even acknowledge him, just continues writing on the paper covered — Shawn notices upon walking over to the table — in Latin. Hell, Niall’s writing in Latin.
It seems that on top of trying to convince everyone he’s a witch with his odd wardrobe and intense decorating, he’s gone and learned a dead language. Shawn never said Niall wasn’t determined, that’s for certain.
“Niall?” At the sound of Shawn’s voice, Niall jumps and looks up at him. His eyes are bloodshot with bags underneath. He looks like he hasn’t slept all night. “I brought you some lunch,” Shawn holds up the bag, hoping his smiles doesn’t come off as worried. “What do you say we go on the patio and eat this?”
“I don’t have time.”
“C’mon, Ni,” Shawn sets the bag on the very edge of the table, one of the few spots that doesn’t have papers on it. “Let’s get you out of the house for a little bit. You look like you could use some sunlight.”
He reaches out for Niall’s arm, hoping that the physical contact will help convince him he needs a break, but Niall pulls away harshly. “I can’t. I don’t have time.”
“I’m sure your…” Shawn waves his hand, gesturing at the papers and trying not to feel hurt at Niall’s rejection of his touch, “ this can wait a few minutes so you can eat.”
“It can’t .” Niall’s voice is biting, an aggression Shawn’s not used to. “I need to finish this by the half moon. If I don’t - ”
Shawn’s sick of this. He just wants to spend time with his boyfriend — he’s almost certain he loves this man — but all this ‘witch’ nonsense is coming in the way. He knows they’ve only got a week and a half of the month left, but it’s too much. He can’t wait the month out, not if going along with it means having to put up with it next year and the year after.
He can only take so much before it kills him.
“Niall, knock it off.” It comes out louder than intended, but it works. Niall looks at him, eyes now wide, shock evident on his face. “It was fun at first, but this is going too far.”
“What is?” Niall looks surprised at the anger, timid in a way that shows he doesn’t see why Shawn’s so irritated. That he doesn’t see how this game he’s been playing has gotten so heavily on Shawn’s nerves.
“This whole ‘witch’ thing,” Shawn says. He gestures to the cauldron on the floor and the Latin covered papers on the desk. “The decorations are cute, but not sleeping and refusing to spend time with me because of this bullshit isn’t something I’m alright with.”
“I’m - ” Niall cuts himself, looking at his papers, his forehead creases in. He’s clearly upset, and for a moment, Shawn feels bad for his outburst. “I’m sorry if it feels like I’m neglecting you. October is the month my powers - ”
“ Niall .” Just when Shawn thought, maybe he had gotten through, Niall insists on keeping his ruse going. “Enough about your powers. You don’t have any powers!”
Niall’s mouth flattens instantly, visibly affronted by Shawn’s words. “How dare you say that to me.”
“Oh, did I offend your delicate witchy sensibilities?”
“Actually, you did.” He leans back in seat, crossing his arm. “I’d like for you to apologize now.”
“If I don’t, are you going use one of your Kool-Aid potions to force me to?”
For a moment, Niall’s anger slips. The snarl falls off his face and his tense arms go lax. “I would never do that.” His voice is soft, caring — Shawn almost forgets they’re fighting. “Despite your doubt, the potions are quite strong, and I’d never force you to take one.”
The words ‘quite strong’ ring around in Shawn’s head. The only time he’s ever heard those words have been at the bar, being told he should slow down because his his drinks were…
“Is it liquor ?” He asks, a mocking laugh coming out before he can stop it. “No worries, Niall. I’ll take them of my own accord!”
He makes his way quickly out of the room, stomping his way to Niall’s room. He ignores the “Shawn, wait!” that tries to stop him, instead scanning the wall of Niall’s ‘potions.’ He decides on a soft yellow one, popping the cork out and swallowing it down. Though Niall’s a pretty good cook, he’s shit at mixing drinks.
He’s already finished it off the disgusting concoction when Niall comes in the room, eyes wild.
“Shawn, no, you have to throw that up.” Niall comes at him, two fingers stuck out, as if he’s going to make Shawn vomit himself.
“Why?” There’s a mocking grin on his face as he backs away from Niall’s advancing figure. “Nothing’s happened. I’m perfectly fine, and you’re perfectly mortal.”
Niall watches him, eyes wide, mouth parted slightly. Shawn feels a bit lost as slowly, Niall’s gaze goes down. For some reason, it appears he’s still looking at Shawn’s face though.
Suddenly his skin feels tight, and there’s a buzz in his blood that’s almost hot. Whatever he drank is hitting him faster than alcohol usually does.
He goes to ask what’s happening, but he can’t seem to make himself speak. In fact, all that comes out is a meow .
The moment he hears it, he races out of the room, stumbling with his first couple of steps, determined to get to the bathroom quickly. He goes through Niall’s legs and across the hall. He’s much lower to the ground, and it’s disorienting. Whatever Niall had in the flask must’ve been a hallucinogen. He didn’t think his boyfriend was the type to have a flask full of liquid LSD, but he didn’t think he’s the type to turn down a free lunch either.
Shawn jumps on the bathroom counter and looks in the mirror. Staring back, instead of a six foot man, is a skinny tabby cat. Shawn goes to yell but it comes out as a tortured meow.
His shock is still coursing through him when Niall comes running into the bathroom. “Shawn, I’m so sorry. I should’ve showed you my magic sooner, I can’t believe you’d just drink the potion - ” His mouth is running, but all Shawn can process is that he drank something, and now he’s a cat. A fucking cat . “I still have to finish my charms tonight!”
Suddenly Shawn’s floating. He looks down and sees that it’s Niall picking him up. At first, Shawn struggles, needing to keep looking in the mirror to see if this is all really happening to him, but then Niall starts rubbing his head behind his ears, and he all but melts into it.
He’s carried throughout the house and Niall puts Shawn on the couch as he passes, and then goes to the table and takes a seat. Shawn runs after him and rests at his feet, expecting Niall to do something, to change Shawn back, but he goes back to his papers, ignoring him.
Shawn meows, trying to gain his attention, but Niall doesn’t look. So Shawn uses his claws on Niall’s leg, swiping his paw across the denim hugging his calf.
Niall breathes in through his teeth at the sting of it and his has reaches out to gently push Shawn away. “Bad kitty.” Shawn hisses at the insult. He’s not a cat. He’s a human, and he needs Niall to turn him back. “I told you not to drink the potion, but you did,” Niall says, scolding Shawn. “I need to finish my charms before the half moon, so you’re going to have to wait.”
Shawn doesn’t wait patiently, he can’t wait patiently. Something’s happened, something Niall would like him to believe is magic , which is just ridiculous.
There must’ve been something in that drink that’s making him see things — he still hasn’t ruled out a hallucinogen. It’s either that or it’s gone and knocked him out.
That’s the most logical though, actually. If it was liquor, and if it was as strong as Niall warned him it was, then it makes sense to have knocked Shawn out, the lightweight that he is. Niall must’ve been watching Shawn go down, passing out, and from there, reality blurred with his dream. That has to be it.
There’s no way in hell that Niall’s a witch, having gone and turned Shawn into a cat.
Unless, of course, he is . In which case, it’s completely irresponsible of Niall to leave such dangerous potions just lying about. They should be locked up, or at least labelled — something that would have stopped Shawn from doing this and ruining his day. Perhaps his life if Niall’s a bad witch and doesn’t know how to reverse the spell.
This is all Niall’s fault. All he had to do was show Shawn a bit of his magic, do something to convince him that this wasn’t all some prank, some joke he took all too seriously. Had Shawn believed even a little bit, this all could’ve been avoided, and he wouldn’t be a fucking cat .
He’s livid, of course he is. Niall gave him no explanation, no clue on how long he’s going to be stuck like this, if there will be any side effects. He’s completely in the dark, left to his own devices, wandering around the spooky house, waiting for his magician of a boyfriend to make him human again.
So that he can kick Niall’s ass for letting this happen in the first place.
Maybe he’s being too harsh, perhaps, but at this point, Shawn’s not thinking too rationally. Of all of the things he’s thought would happen in his life, he can confidently say that becoming a cat had never crossed his mind. Not even once. The fact that he’s dealing with the reality of it right before his very green, very cat eyes, is just insane.
And depressing, really.
For all he knows, he’ll be stuck like this forever, forced to live his life as Persephone’s brother, following her around as clumsily tries to adjust to being a feline. It’s tragic, really.
Feeling mentally exhausted (and physically — being a cat has taken much of his energy), Shawn jumps onto Niall’s lap and lies down. He figures if the situation won’t be getting fixed, the least he can do is take a nap as he curls into a ball on his boyfriend’s lap.
Time goes on, and Niall makes no effort at all to fix Shawn’s situation. He persists at his work, which Shawn learns are apparently charms of Dark magic, and they need to be locked up before the next half moon to diminish their evil presence.
Or something like that. He doesn’t even begin to attempt to try and understand everything Niall’s whispering under his breath, just enjoys Niall petting him, figuring if he has to be a cat as he waits, he may as well enjoy it.
Eventually, Niall sets his work aside, clearing the table of the papers and locking them up for good, and gets to work making a reversal potion. The cauldron reclaims its spot in the center of the round table, and Shawn allows himself to get excited, lying next to the pot and watching as Niall talks to himself.
When the potion is done, Niall puts it a tiny little bowl, taking the time to first write “Shawn” on it in sharpie, smiling at his own joke while he does it. He’s trying to be cute and Shawn’s irritated. Persephone watches on with an air of laughter, and Shawn decides then that he hates her.
He drinks from the bowl, cringing with every lick. It’s not much better this time around. If possible, it’s worse.
He turns back slowly, jumping off the counter as his skin starts to feel loser and a chill runs through his veins. When he’s finally human again, the first thing he realizes is his lack of clothing, and he reaches for one of Niall’s cloaks, lying on the back of the couch.
“That’s sacred,” Niall rushes to say, pulling the fabric from Shawn’s hands, not caring about his bare skin showing. “I’ll go get your clothes.” He disappears into the bedroom and returns with them in a messy pile in his arms. “I told you not to drink the potion.”
Shawn pulls his clothing from Niall’s arms, not caring as some of them fall to the ground. “Pardon me for not listening to your crackpot explanation.”
“ Crackpot ?” Niall’s outrage is clear in his voice, but Shawn only rolls his eyes and pulls his underwear and jeans up his legs. “I know I should’ve shown you my magic sooner, but why couldn’t you just believe me?”
“Really?” Shawn raises one brow. “You mean if I were to tell you I was a ghost, you’d believe me?”
“You’re not quite pale enough - ”
Shawn huffs and rolls his eyes. “Alright then. If I were a vampire, would you believe me?”
“Absolutely,” Niall answers immediately. His face holds an openness to it. “All the vampires I’ve met have been very kind, and you - ”
“Niall, I’m trying to make a point,” he interrupts. Niall bites his lip and gestures for him to continue. “I had no idea the supernatural were real. I thought you were fucking with me.”
“I’ve never lied to you before,” Niall begins to explain, and Shawn has to bite his tongue against arguing because, well, he’s right. He was honest about the whole ‘witch’ thing from the very start. He pulls his shirt on to avoid making a comment. “I wouldn’t start with something so - ” Shawn’s gasped yell cuts him off. “What’s wrong?”
At the bottom of his spine, his shirt hits something solid and furry. He reaches down slowly with one hand and wraps his fist around -
“A tail,” he all but screams, shock stilling his entire body. “I have a tail .”
Niall peaks around his body and nods before standing straight again. “It’s - ” though his voice is serious, Shawn can tell that Niall’s holding back a grin at his expense. “Yeah, that’s going to take a while to go down. It’s an aftermath of the shapeshifter spell.”
“Right.” His head tilts, as though just remembering Shawn’s new to all this. “The potion you took turns you into whatever animal you’re most similar to.”
“And I’m most like a cat?” he asks.
“It appears so.”
After all of this, Shawn’s just ready for the day to be over. The last thing he needed to know is that his soul is that of a cat. No wonder Persephone usually loves him so much — they’re probably old friends from a past life.
“Is…” Shawn bites his lip, trying to think of how to ask what he wants without offending Niall. “Is Persephone a person?”
Niall laughs, and Shawn breathes a sigh of relief. “No, she’s my familiar. She helps me control my powers.”
She’s his familiar… because he’s a witch. The month of October makes his powers stronger, and his familiar helps him control it all.
Because he’s a witch.
“This is a lot,” Shawn sighs, feeling his shoulders lose their tension, hunching him forward.
Shawn shakes his head at Niall’s apology. “It’s - it’s not your fault. You were nothing but honest with me. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
“Why would you?” Niall asks, shrugging. There’s an innocent look on his face, something light that feels like a breath of fresh air. “This can get a bit crazy.” A bit unbelievable, Shawn doesn’t say. “Are you still mad at me?”
He doesn’t even have to think about it to know he isn’t. He doesn’t know how he could be, not at Niall. He is upset, but that’s moreso because his tail — his tail — is curling around his feet, a constant reminder that he has a fucking tail, because not ten minutes ago, he was a cat !
“No,” he answers Niall question honestly. He fall onto the couch cushion, crossing his arms. “But I want to be.”
“Would it be better if I said you could pretend to be?” Niall offers, smiling something beautiful. Shawn bites his lip against a smile.
“Yes…” He agrees, letting himself believe he’s mad at Niall specifically and not just the situation. “Just until the tail goes down.”
“That sounds fair.”
Niall leaves him alone for a bit as he gets to work cleaning up the mess from his potion making. Shawn watches as he pour the excess potion in an empty flask, corking it to close it off. He cleans the table, and then disappears into the room to put the potion up his shelf, Shawn assumes. When he comes back to the room, he looks at Shawn with a smirk.
“How’s the tail?”
Shawn looks down to see his tail in his own hand. It appears that without even thinking, he’s been petting it, letting the soft fur rest in his grip. It’s something Niall seems awfully smug about.
“It’s really soft,” Shawn answers softly, not letting it go. If he’s already been caught, he may as well let himself enjoy the feel. It’ll be gone soon.
“Can I touch it?” Niall asks, stepping closer. Shawn grips it tighter and holds it close to his chest.
With everything he’s been through, he feels a bit grumpy and finds himself glaring at Niall. It may be because he’s tired, or it could be that he feels unusually protective about the tail. Whatever the reason, Niall finds it funny and begins laughing.
“It knew what it was doing making you a cat,” he says offhandedly, falling onto the couch. Shawn glares at him, not even wanting to know what he means by his comment.
Instinctively, no matter how angry he’s pretending to be, he curls into Niall. A lot has happened and he just wants to feel close to somebody. “Don’t say a thing,” he bites when Niall starts chuckling.
His tail doesn’t go down until the middle of the night, long after both he and Niall went to bed, wrapped around each other. Shawn’s long forgiven Niall, and is just enjoying the whole mess being done with.
Now that Shawn has a better understanding of Niall, now that he knows this isn’t all just some joke, the month goes by easier. Sure there are some odd moments that make Shawn want to tear his hair out, but at least Niall’s not asking for the loose strands anymore.
There has to be a positive in that somewhere.
When the end of October comes, Shawn decides to help Niall finish sorting his potions and packing everything up. He hopes that some of the trinkets he puts away will give him some semblance of an understanding as to what he’s about.
They’re currently sorting the shelved potions, and Shawn discovers that Niall actually does label them. Only, it’s in Latin, which isn’t helpful to Shawn in the least. Persephone is in the box at their feet, curling around the empty flasks. According to Niall, when October is over she gets a little depressed, so this is her, getting her last of the holiday season. Shawn refuses to find it adorable until Persephone lets him pet her again.
As they’re clearing off the shelves, Shawn comes across something interesting. There’s a thick, pink concoction in a rounded flask, and the label isn’t in Latin. It just says ‘Shawn,’ written in neat, loopy letters.
“What’s this then?”
Niall looks up from where he’s making room in the box and his white skin turns red insanely quickly. Even when they were still dancing around each other flirting, long before they started dating, Niall had never blushed that deeply.
“It’s the protection spell I put on you,” he explains, voice shakier than usual. “It keeps dark power away from you so long as it’s got color.”
The color of the flask is an intense, bright pink, very vividly colored, so Shawn assumes it’s still a strong spell. “It looks like it’s still lasting.” Niall nods, but he looks moments away from being sick. “Why are you blushing then?”
“Well,” he clears his throat, and though it seems impossible, his skin turns pinker. “You see, the color of the potion reveals the witches true feelings about the person they’re protecting.” He points to the shelf Shawn pulled the potion from and sees ‘Harry’ and ‘Liam’ and ‘Louis’ sitting in a line, each of them a deep, sparkling blue.
Shawn looks back to the one in his hand and smirks. “What’s pink then?”
“We don’t - ” Niall laughs, but it’s forced and awkward. Shawn smiles even bigger. “It’s not important. Tomorrow’s November anyways.”
“What’s pink, Niall?”
Niall looks down, and Persephone is looking at them both with knowing eyes. Hand on the back of his blushing neck, Niall mumbles, “It’s love.”
Niall seems uncomfortable, but Shawn grins instantly, the words affirming what he’d been hoping for. His heart feels so light, he thinks he could start levitating right there.
“I love you too.”
When October ends and November starts anew, it feels just as magical as ever, maybe even more. He’s been turned into a cat and seen the process of making transformative potions, but nothing has felt as extraordinary as being in love does.