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and it's called black magic

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    The first customer of the day walks into Seven Wonders exactly an hour after Harry flips the shop’s fading red sign from sorry, we’re closed to we’re open, come in! The old floorboards creak under her weight as she heads straight to the Potions section instead of going to Harry first, just like all the customers that come in do. They keep a watchful eye on her while trying to organise the clutter on the counter, despite the fact that Aunt Stevie will undoubtedly make it messy again the moment they go out for lunch.

    They hear the customer come out of the Books section ten minutes later, when they’ve finally sat down on the cushioned black stool beside the counter. Their tattered copy of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban floats in front of their face, the yellowing pages flipping with every flick of the wrist they give.

    “Excuse me,” her voice is quiet and she’s nervously bouncing on her heels. Harry is quick to lower the book onto the counter with their hands, the page he stopped at subtly dog-earring itself.

    “Hi, how can I help you?” they smile at her, the spell Aunt Stevie had taught them for when they’re nervous instantly appearing in their mind when they notice the anxious fiddling of her fingers and the way she’s staring at Harry Potter instead of looking at them. “I love your hair, by the way; the colour looks sick.”

    She glances at one of the curly lilac strands that’s fallen out of her grey beanie and she looks at it like it’s the first time she’s noticing the bright colour. It makes Harry want to laugh but then she finally looks at them and a shy smile spreads across her face. “Thank you! I got it done just last week. But, um. Could you please help me find a book on Wicca? It’s for a school project.”

    Harry’s smile widens and they excitedly hop off the stool, the multiple paragraphs they had memorised as a child suddenly falling past their lips before they can stop themselves. They lead the eager customer through the tall bookcases that have been placed in the back of the shop and they wave their hands animatedly as they talk.

    “I just want you to remember one very important thing, yeah?” they stop in front of the shelf where they know the newest copy of one of their favourite books is and snap their fingers, the book flying out of its row and into their hand. “Witchcraft and Wicca are not the same thing. And they both have a lot in common, right, but they’re two completely different things.”

    The customer nods her head absentmindedly and gapes down at the thin book Harry hands her. Her eyes blink rapidly like she’s trying to figure out if the book really just moved on its own, but Harry’s not worried at all. They know that once she leaves the shop, the spell Aunt Stevie has put around the door will replace all memories of magic with ones that her brain can logically explain.

    They wave at her from their place on the stool as she runs out into the windy street with her new book carefully tucked under her arm. Harry watches her eyes glaze over the moment she steps out of the shop.

    Harry Potter floats back up to Harry’s eye level and the kettle with the painted golden stars starts to whistle behind them, the shop buzzing along pleasantly to their magic.

 

.・。.・゜✭・.・✫・゜・。.

 

    It’s almost four o’clock when Harry realises there hasn’t been a black cat jumping on top of the mess or drinking out of their cup of ginger tea like it’s her own; that the all too familiar rose-scented perfume that Aunt Stevie wears hasn’t made its way into every corner of the shop. The heavy book on elemental magic they’re reading falls dangerously close to the ceramic cup they’ve been drinking out of and every single object close to the book rattles loudly against the chipped wood, but Harry’s too busy scrambling off the stool to care.

    “Aunt Stevie?” they call, taking longer steps than they usually would as they frantically search for her all over the shop, dread pooling in the pit of their stomach. The last place they go to is the small nook between their crystals and amulets, simply because Aunt Stevie’s always saying that it’s the warmest spot.

    The nook, however, is completely empty and despite the warm energy that all the crystals give off, the navy cushion that she always lays on is cold to the touch. They run a hand through their tangled hair, trying to remember if something had come up in Aunt Stevie’s tarot cards or if the runes had warned her about her future, but nothing of the sort rings a bell in their mind. Their anxiety quickly turns to fear and it feels like an iced cold bucket of water has been dumped over their head as their blood freezes over because, well. If Aunt Stevie didn’t see whatever this is, Harry stands no chance.

    They pull their cracked phone out of their back pocket and use their shaking thumb to press on their best friend’s contact before lifting the cold screen to his ear.

    “Well, if it isn’t my favourite witch!” Niall picks up on the second ring and the sound of his cheery voice brings Harry the smallest amount of comfort. “I was just plantin’ some clovers; you know how grumpy the lil’ people get when—”

“I can’t find Aunt Stevie,” Harry whispers, their voice cracking on the last syllable. “I’ve looked everywhere and — and I can’t find her, Niall.”

“Stay where you are,” their friend instructs, his tone firm. Harry hears some rustling in the background, a few high-pitched murmurs that they wouldn’t be able to hear if they weren’t a witch and Niall softly talking back in Gaelic. There’s the quiet jingle of a small bell hitting against wood as Niall shuts his front door and then he’s back on the phone with Harry. “Close the shop and don’t move, okay? I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

 

.・。.・゜✭・.・✫・゜・。.

 

    Niall walks in through the shop’s door exactly ten minutes later and finds Harry curled up on the nook, their fingers tracing the small silver moons sewn onto the navy cushion, and he stands in front of them with his hands shoved into the pockets of his earth-coloured jacket and a deep frown on his face. The amulets hanging from the small hooks on the wall crash against each other as they violently swing from side to side and the potion vials on one of the open cabinets tremble with every shake the cabinet gives. There’s a quiet snap that comes from where Niall is standing and the shop quiets down immediately, the silence that falls over the place feeling like a thick invisible blanket.

    “Haz, it’s going to be okay.” Niall crawls onto the nook with them. He settles down against the wall and there’s a quick flash of silver as the Witch’s Knot hanging around his neck briefly swings out of the collar of his shirt. “Are you one hundred percent sure you’ve looked everywhere? She’s probably doing one of her private tarot readings or somethin’ like that.”

    “No, she’s —” Harry shakes their head and slumps against Niall when they feel their bottom lip wobble. Niall’s magic smells the same way it has always smelled since Harry first met him; like freshly watered dirt and the sweet way flowers smell in the summer and as it envelops Harry in a warm cocoon at the same time that Niall tightly wraps his arm around their shoulders, they realise that if Aunt Stevie were really gone, they wouldn’t be completely alone. “The shop feels different when she’s not around. Her magic feels like… like there’s stardust falling on your skin and it — I can’t feel it.”

    Niall’s thumb traces different shapes on their shoulder bone and he lets out a quiet hum when they’re finish talking like he’s running over what they said in his head. “I mean, it just wouldn’t make sense, would it? She’s been taking care of you since you were a baby because she knew what kind of witch you were going to be. Why make the effort if you’re just going to leave?”

    He has a good point, Harry’s aware of that. Aunt Stevie has always been by their side — from the moment they turned their milk bottle into a chick to their Wand Ceremony when they turned 17. She was the one who stayed with them in the attic during the full moons and taught them how to mix ingredients for potions that made the kids who made fun of them throw up for hours on end. She was there when they had their first Vision — it was about her brownies burning up the next day, but that’s not the point — and when the two of them learned that Harry could control not only water but also fire. And Niall’s right — why would she just leave?

    “I—” Harry starts but the bell hanging over the front door suddenly rings loudly. Stopping themselves short, they trip over themselves while rushing to crawl out of the nook, paying absolutely no attention to the soft yelp Niall lets out when they accidentally kick his shin.

    There are two — very attractive, actually — boys standing in the middle of Harry’s shop. Their eyes are as wide as plates and their mouths hang open as they look around the place. Harry watches them nudge each other when they spot the tiny shining stars floating just a few inches below the navy-coloured ceiling. The whispered words they trade between themselves after having noticed the moving waves painted on the wall across from the door sound more like hissing than talking to Harry. They would very much like to know what they boys are saying, but it’s not like Harry can just put a spell on them on them to listen to their conversation. It wouldn’t be polite.

    The taller of the two is dressed in a tight pair of black jeans ripped at the knees and a cream button down that has been neatly tucked into their waistband and there’s a short strand of brown hair that curls against his forehead; Harry decides they like him right there. A single dimple appears on his cheek and his dark eyes crinkle as he does an entire turn to get a good look at what he can see of the shop. If Harry focuses hard enough, they can make out the light green aura that glimmers him with every step he takes.

    The boy standing next to him is at least 5 inches shorter, but the way he stands with his spine straight and his shoulders pushed back makes Harry think that he’s not a person who can be intimidated easily. When his eyes look past the narrow bookcase Harry is hiding behind, Harry notices that they’re almost the same colour as the waves in the painting. He’s much less enthusiastic than his friend; his mouth is set into a thin line that twitches ever-so-slightly every time the other boy enthusiastically points at something, but if the bright yellow aura that surrounds him is anything to go by, Harry’s only guess is that he’s simply having a bad day. His hair is longer than most guys’ and it’s been carelessly swept to the side , the copper strand that stops just below his eye making Harry’s fingers twitch against their thigh.

    What takes their attention away from the curious boys, though, is the loud meow that resonates against the shop’s walls and Harry almost topples over with happiness when they recognise the black cat snuggled up comfortably in the shorter boy’s arms. She’s impatiently swishing her long tail and her brown her eyes are looking straight at Harry. If cats had eyebrows and the ability to arch them, Harry’s a hundred percent sure that’s what this cat would be doing right now.

    “Um, hello?” the one holding her speaks up, his voice raspy, and airy, and unlike anything Harry’s ever heard before. He takes an unsure step forward and that’s the unfortunate moment that Niall decides to appear behind Harry and scare the shit out of them. “I think we’ve found your cat?”

    “Who are those guys?” Niall whispers into Harry’s ear and they start, their shoulders bumping painfully against the bookcase.

    “What the fuck, Niall?” they hiss and instantly try to back up further into their hiding place, but it’s too late — the two boys are already looking in their direction and Harry can feel their skin flushing with embarrassment.

    “Hi!” the tall one chirps, smiling widely at them. Harry hears Niall take a sharp intake of breath and the smell of freshly-cut flowers he radiates becomes almost unbearable for a split second while he follows Harry out to greet the two strangers. “Are you the owners of this cat?”

    “Shawn, of course they are.” the other rolls his eyes good-naturedly and his aura shines brighter for a second as he sends him a playful glare. “What my friend meant to say is: we found her wandering around in the park and her collar says that this is where she lives, so…”

    The cat bumps her forehead against his bony wrist in an affectionate matter, the golden pendant she wears around her neck glinting under the light, and Harry scoffs under their breath before forcing a smile onto their face.

    “Yes, she’s mine!” they exclaim, maybe a bit too loudly. They take a few steps forward, their arms already stretched out towards the cat. “I’m very sorry for making you come all this way just for a cat, but I appreciate it, really.”

    “Mate, it’s really no problem,” he says and then the cat lets out an offended yowl at Harry’s words, but neither of them pay attention to her. “Me youngest sister almost had my head when I said that she should find her way home.”

    His friend chuckles quietly and nods his head as if reminiscing the memory, but his eyes are fixed on Niall, whose cheeks are turning pink at an alarmingly quick rate. His uneasy magic makes Harry’s skin prickle and they’re tempted to turn around and tell him to get a grip, oh my Gods. Instead, they choose to carefully take the cat from the boy’s arms and hold her tightly against their chest. The tight knot in their stomach untangles the moment she rubs the top of her head against their palm and quietly purs as if to say, I’m here. It’s okay.

    “I’m sure she would’ve managed. But thank you, erm…” they trail off, suddenly too aware that they don’t even know the names of the boys who just brought their aunt back.

    “Louis,” he offers, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. He’s smiling now — granted, it’s one of the smallest smiles Harry has ever seen, but it’s a smile nevertheless — and Harry’s heart does a fuckin’ somersault in their throat. “I’m Louis and this right here is Shawn.”

    “Nice to meet you. I’m Shawn.” his voice is slow and careful as he repeats what Louis just said and stretches his large hand out for Niall to shake. The green around his hand ripples slightly when Niall takes it and Harry holds back a smile, simply because it means they’ve known each other less than five minutes and Shawn’s already feeling something for him. Niall looks like he’s two seconds away from crying. It’s both the most endearing and pathetic thing Harry has ever seen.

    “Niall.” being his best friend since pretty much forever, Harry’s the only one who can see the growing panic in Niall’s blue eyes and their shoulders shake as they hold the delighted snort that’s threatening to spill out.

    “Anyway!” Louis exclaims and pulls Harry’s attention away from the adorable scene in front of them. He wraps his slim fingers around Shawn’s forearm, forcing him to jerk his hand out of Niall’s loose grip and frown at his oblivious friend. Louis’ eyes momentarily flick to the waves that crash against each other every time the wind blows outside and then back to Harry and there’s a small twinkle in them that wasn’t there before. “We should, y’know, head home. Have a nice evening!”

    He pulls a sputtering Shawn out through the door before Harry can do anything — like introduce themselves — and they jog together across the street without allowing Harry to see if Aunt Stevie’s spell worked.

    “You’ll catch flies if you keep your mouth open like that,” Harry mutters to Niall, who’s still frozen to the floor, and genty bumps their shoulder against his to get him out of his love-struck trance. The cat doesn’t even spare one second to thank Harry after they place her on the counter and she instantly heads to their untouched cup of of tea, her tail smugly raised high in the air.

    “What the fuck, Stephanie,” Harry deadpans and the anger that had been coursing through their veins fades away as they absentmindedly scratch at the soft spot between her ears. Behind them, Niall gasps quietly and they turn around to look at them with a raised eyebrow. “What?”

    “Haz, she’s your aunt. You can’t say that,” Niall whispers, horrified. He takes a long step backwards, his hands raised in surrender like he’s trying to tell Aunt Stevie he has nothing to do with Harry.

    The heavy book that falls on Harry’s head a moment later makes them think she agrees.

 

.・。.・゜✭・.・✫・゜・。.

 

    “Harry, for the love of the Gods. The runes said I had to do it.”

    The sound of Aunt Stevie’s kettle whistling fills their quaint kitchen and the soft morning sunlight streaming in through their open window makes their crystals form colourful patterns on the walls that dance along to the grainy song coming from their record player. Aunt Stevie’s wearing a flowy black dress that brushes her ankles, the hems of the sleeves decorated with intricate black lace that bounces against her pale forearms every time she moves. The black shawl with the thin silver trimming that Harry gave her for her birthday is draped over her elbows and its long fringes trail after her on the tiled floor as she hands them a bag of frozen peas.

    “You could’ve at least told me, Aunt Stevie,” Harry grumbles and gingerly press the bag against the small bump that grew on the top of their head overnight. “Was the near heart attack necessary?”

    “Oh, stop being so dramatic,” Aunt Stevie tuts. She flicks her wrist and two dark mugs adorned with spinning white circles float out of one of the cabinets over the stove. The kettle stops whistling and she motions for it to follow her to the table before sitting on the chair across from Harry at the same time that the kettle floats down between them. “You’re still alive, aren’t you? And besides, I could always get that friend of yours to talk to you. The hedge witch — what’s his name?”

    “Zayn,” they mutters into their tea, not even bothering to remind her that they haven’t spoken to Zayn in almost a year.

    “Yes! Such a good witch, great potential.” she nods her head, clearly pleased with herself, and a few blonde strands fall out of the bun she has her hair bunched up in. “Anyway, you and Niall got to meet new people, thank the Gods. Weren’t they cute?”

    “Aunt Stevie,” Harry groans dramatically their forehead against the table, instantly regretting it as pain floods their skull. Yes, they can’t deny that Louis was cute in a sort of rugged way and that Shawn looked like an over-excited puppy when he saw Niall, but. They were not going to have that conversation with their aunt.

    “What? I’m just saying!” she scoffs with a roll of her eyes, a teasing smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

    Harry takes a long sip from their tea and sends her a bored glare over the rim of the cup, which she pointedly ignores by clicking her long nails against the table along to whatever Queen song the record player is now playing. Comfortable silence falls between them and for a few minutes, it’s just Harry and Aunt Stevie against the rest of the world. She does eventually pull out the vibrant tarot cards she always carries around in her pocket and they watch her meticulously shuffle the cards, their skin starting to tingle after just a few seconds.

    The first card she draws is The Lovers and it spins in the air for a moment before slowly floating down onto the table. Harry glances at the kissing couple in the middle and flicks their eyes over the colourful flowers painted along the edges of the card, taking in the delicately painted lines on the woman’s long orange skirt and the man’s defined chest where she’s leaning on. They furrow their eyebrows in confusion as they rummage through their mind for the significance of The reversed Lovers.

    It symbolises unreliability, infidelity and a broken relationship. It can reflect that the feelings in the person’s relationship are not mutual.

    “So,” Aunt Stevie suddenly says, pulling out a second card. Just like the first one, it spins in the air and then it falls on the right hand side of The Lovers. “I need you to do me a favour.”

    The World stares back at Harry from its unmoving spot on the table. The woman inside of the round golden laurel wreath is looking to her left instead of to her right and the four animals on each corner are not where they’re supposed to be and it feels like the upturned card is taunting Harry. It’s imperfection and disappointment; it’s a project that is nothing but imperfect .

    “Yes?” they ask wearily while she pulls out a third card; a reversed Wheel of Fortune. Anubis now sits on the top of the wheel in the middle of the card and the pointed waves that stand for water in alchemy lay under it instead of above it. The Sphinx sits in Anubis’ place on the bottom of the wheel and the snake that represents the Egyptian god of evil, Typhon, is travelling up instead of down and it all just looks so wrong .

    “We’re running out of alyssum for the amulets and I need you to get more.” with a final tight-lipped smile and a knowing twinkle appearing in her eye, Aunt Stevie pushes her chair back and leaves the kitchen, taking her cards and stardust with her.

    It’s not until Harry is also about to leave to get ready that they notice the three cards that Aunt Stevie picked out are still on the table and the realisation dawns on them almost instantly; she wasn’t doing the reading for herself, she was doing it for Harry.

 

.・。.・゜✭・.・✫・゜・。.

 

    When Harry registers that what they’re wearing is completely inappropriate for the warm weather outside, it’s too late. They’re also aware that the their bright socks and white shoes are a horrible combination, but it was the first thing they grabbed before running out the door. They push their sunglasses up their nose and make their way to the vast forest that surrounds their little town.

    It’s not often that they get to work with flower magic and even the thought makes the wand in their pocket hum with excitement.

    The sun is at its highest when Harry stops in front of the magical border that keeps the magical creatures who live in the forest safe from curious eyes. The 700-foot-tall barrier crackles with magic the closer Harry gets to it and the iridescent purple waves that carry the protection spell across it makes the other side look like something straight out of a dream. Harry slides their wand out of their pocket, their fingers naturally slotting themselves into the spaces between the vines that were carved along the base, and they carefully press the tip against the barrier.

    “Sit mihi in,” they mutter, keeping their wand where it is until the barrier begins to disperse and create a space big enough for Harry to walk through. They take one final look around to make sure that no one follows after them before stepping through, the magins fizzing loudly as it begins to glue itself back together.

    The tall trees block out the sun and it makes the path ahead much darker than Harry thought it would be, but they hook their sunglasses on the collar of their shirt, focus on the thin rays that manage to get past the thick foliage and head to the tiny alyssum field they hope is somewhere around here. The forest is quiet except for the soft rustle of leaves every time the wind blows and the occasional playful giggles that echo through the place. Maybe Harry will bring Niall with them one day; he’d probably find a lot more faeries to help with his garden.

    The fuschia and white petals of the alyssums are just starting to come into view when Harry hears a loud squeal come from their right and they stop so suddenly that they almost topple over a rock. Even though they know that they would be just fine without their wand, they tighten their grip around it and raise it high as they change directions and silently walk towards the sound, the flowers now forgotten.

    The second laugh they hear some minutes later sounds much closer than it did before, but there’s another sound in the background that Harry can’t make out until it’s right in front of them.

    A rocky creek in the middle of a well-lit clearing separates the forest into two, the gentle sound of the clear water that trickles downstream mixing in with the cheerful singing of the birds hiding in the trees. What catches their eye, however, are the three girls standing in the creek with their trousers rolled up to their knees and carefree laughs that leave their mouths every time the water splashes them. Harry feels extremely confused for a moment — because non-magical people are not supposed to be able to get this far —, but then they notice the large water spheres that float out of the water when one of the two brunettes forms a circle with their hands and the strong gusts of air that push them away every time the silver-haired girl waves her hand.

    Oh, Harry thinks as they slip their wand back into their pocket and watch the scene in awe. They’re Elemental witches.

    Elemental witches are so rare — even rarer than Eclectic witches — that they’re barely talked about in history books and to see not one, but three, in action is an honour Harry never thought they would get.

    Harry steps closer to the creek, avoiding the small branches scattered across the floor, and hides behind a tall bush. They use their magic to push the thin branches away from their face so they can get a better look at the giggling girls and for a moment, they wonder where the Fire elemental is, but then they have to stop and remind themselves that Elementals are few.

    “Hold on a second. D’you feel that?” the Air elemental suddenly says and she quickly waves the water sphere coming at her away, the breeze fluttering her silver hair against her back. “Can you feel that? It’s like…”

    “It’s just… warm,” the second brunette says thoughtfully, her head moving from side to side as she looks around, and Harry realises that what the girls are feeling is their magic and their eyes widen in surprise.

    Harry takes small careful steps backwards but the earth below them begins to tremble and they yelp loudly, the bush’s branches scratching at their skin as they stumble in direction of the creek like they’re being pulled by an invisible rope. The girls all whip around to look at them the moment they step out into the clearing and the first thing that Harry notices is that their eyes are all the same shade of ocean blue.

    “Who are you?” the Air elemental steps forward protectively and narrows her eyes at Harry. Her face looks so awfully familiar and Harry wishes they weren’t so scared so that they could think of who she looks like. “What do you want?”

    “Lotts, what’s going on?” an unexpected voice interrupts Harry before they can explain their situation and the guy who brought Aunt Stevie yesterday steps out from Harry’s side of the clearing and Harry almost chokes on their spit. The chilly air whips his hair his eyes and he just pushes it behind his ear with delicate fingers while arching an unimpressed eyebrow at the Air elemental. The black joggers he’s wearing have been bunched up around his bare ankles and his white short-sleeved shirt reveals a bunch of black ink tattooed onto his tan arm that makes Harry’s stomach clench in a funny way.

    “Louis,” they breathe out. Louis starts at the sound of their voice and a surprised look crosses his face as he turns to look at them. Out of the corner of their eye, the three girls — who Harry can only assume are his sisters — tilt their head curiously. “Wait. You’re a witch?”

    The cackle that rips out of Louis is truly so unexpected that Harry jumps three feet into the air. They hear two of the girls snort in amusement as the three of them step out of the creek, the younger girls eyeing Harry curiously.

    “Gods, no. That would be a complete disaster.” the one with the silver hair shakes her head and playfully bumps her hip against Louis’. She ignores his whiny complaint and gives Harry a final once over before deciding to stretch out a perfectly-manicured hand. “Hi, I’m Lottie.”

    “Harry.” they shake their head gingerly and it suddenly feels like they’re on top of the highest mountain in the world and the wind is blowing strongly around them. When she pulls away, a confused look in her eyes, she leaves behind the faintest scent of a sweet summer breeze.

    “I’m Phoebe!” the brunette on Lottie’s right grins toothily. She takes their hand instead of shaking it and bring it close to her face to inspect the various rings on Harry’s fingers, her curious eyes skipping over the gold H & S on their pinky and ring finger and going straight to the square-shaped ruby on their index finger. “I’ve never met an Eclectic witch before.”

    Well. She’s a smart witch.

    “I’ve never met an Elemental witch before, either,” they say truthfully and smile down at her. She’s silent for a second and the ring she’s looking at longingly warms up slightly against Harry’s skin when she brushes her finger against it and — oh. That’s why they don’t have a Fire elemental with them. “You’re all quite special, you know?”

    Phoebe sniffs quietly and gives them a watery smile before letting go of their hand and stepping back to her place by Lottie’s side. Her twin’s voice is hushed and reserved when she introduces herself as Daisy and she quickly presses the side of her head against Louis’ chest.

    “So. Harry, huh?” Louis teases them and a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes slowly spreads across his face. “I think you forgot to mention that yesterday, love.”

    “Oops?” Harry lifts a shoulder to their ear in a sheepish manner before holding out a hand. “I’m Harry.”

    “Hi.” Louis huffs out a soft chuckle and his eyes do crinkle this time as he firmly shakes their hand with his much smaller one. His touch doesn’t feel like anything but warm and soft and Harry’s momentarily glad for the lack of magic he has, but when he pulls back, four different smells instantly hit Harry’s nose.

    Lottie’s comes first and the fresh scent lingers for a split second and then it fades away. Then it’s Phoebe’s and it’s that familiar comforting smell that rain leaves behind after the storm has passed; it’s earthly and clean at the same time and it’s completely different from her sister’s. Daisy’s magic smells like a sunny beach day — like salt being carried by the soft late-August breeze and the wet sand one buries their feet into to keep cool. The last one takes a second longer than the others and Harry can feel the magic fighting to remain to Louis for as long as possible. It smells like a newly lit campfire and roasted marshmallows squished between graham crackers and melting chocolate and Harry never wants to stop smelling it, but it’s gone before they can take another breath.

    “You know, you look like a detective from the 70’s,” Louis says in what Harry thinks is an attempt to get rid of the shiny tears that have welled up in the girls’ eyes and it works quite wonderfully because stifled giggles start to slip past their pursed lips. “Maybe early 80’s.”

    “Heey,” Harry whines childishly, placing a protective hand on the top of their hat. They know their long coat or black trousers don’t really help their case, but they still jut their bottom lip out and glare at Louis half-heartedly at the sight of his smug smirk.

    “Not with those socks, you don’t.” Lottie points down at their pink socks, her shoulders shaking with every giggle she tries to hold back. A snarky reply about the neon orange bodysuit she has on starts to form on their tongue but then Daisy’s covering her face with her damp hands and they can see her body shaking as well and a wave of relief instantly washes over them.

    “I’ll let you all know,” they twist their face into what they hope is their angriest expression and shake a playful finger at the snickering siblings in front of them, “that I’m a pretty powerful witch and I could take you out with a snap of my fingers if I wanted to.”

    It clearly doesn’t work because Phoebe wastes no time in leaning up and whispering into Lottie’s ear that they look more like an angry kitten, really.

    “How about you take me to dinner instead?” Louis asks without any hesitation and the — harmless — spell dies on Harry’s tongue as their body freezes over with surprise and they quickly flick their eyes from Phoebe’s twinkling eyes to the cheeky grin on her brother’s sun-kissed face. “Y’know, so you can teach me more about magic and all that.”    

    The way he says it makes a shiver trickle down Harry’s spine and the hairs on their arms stand up despite the warm shining down on the clearing. They close and open their mouths multiple times as they try to come up with an appropriate response when one of the girls lets out an impatient huff — they can’t really figure out which one it is since they’re trying their damn hardest to keep the heat rising to their face at bay — and the branches under her feet snap quietly and she takes a step toward them and puts her hand on their arm.

    “What Harry means to say, Lou,” the words that come out of Daisy’s mouth are soft and smooth and it reminds Harry of the ocean in a windless day, “is that it would be lovely to take you to dinner.”

    “Oh. I—” Harry stumbles over their words as the grin on Louis’ face until his eyes are nothing but crinkly slits that make their skin burn even hotter. “Erm, well. How does Saturday sound?”

“Gods, this is too painful to watch,” Lottie mutters with a roll of her eyes before taking the twins’ hands and dragging them to the other side of the creek where their shoes have been carelessly kicked off.

“Actually, Saturday sounds amazing.” the look on Louis’ blue eyes is so fond that Harry has to duck their chin and hope that their hat will block the excited beam that’s threatening to spread across their face.

And if miniature turquoise sparks crackle between their fingers when Louis reaches into his pocket to get his phone out, well, no one has to know.

 

.・。.・゜✭・.・✫・゜・。.

 

    Harry’s step has a little spring in it the entire way back, the alyssums long forgotten in the back of their mind as they decide to take the long way home. One of those cheesy love songs gets stuck in their head when they walked past a colourful flower stand in the park and they continue to hum it under their breath even as they walk through their front door fifteen minutes later, their veins thrumming with exhilaration.

    “Aunt Stevie?” they call as they take their hat and coat off and hang them on one of the wooden hooks next to the door.

    “I’m in the living room, honey!” she yells back from the other side of the house. Harry chuckles quietly and follows the rose-scented trail that leads them down the bright hallway that goes right past the kitchen.

Filled with curiosity, they stop in front of the doorway and slowly poke their head into the empty kitchen. The three tarot cards from that morning are still lying on the table, illuminated by the ray of sunlight coming in through the window. Harry keeps their eyes on them, just to see if anything about them will change, before continuing on to the living room.

They find Aunt Stevie sitting next to one of the open windows with a tray covered in paint hovering over her lap. The canvas in front of her shows two people with their back to her in a field with flowers of every colour imaginable growing around them, their hands clasped tightly as the white robes they’re wearing flow behind them. There’s a large group of faceless people forming a circle around them and the shades of their robes range from black to silver, but the only ones wearing white are the people in the middle.

“Did you have a vision?” Harry asks her as they settle down on the creaky rocking chair by the dainty clove garden that Niall asks them to keep an eye on in case any faeries come looking for him.

Aunt Stevie hums out a quick yes, the brush in her hand leaving tiny white circles on the painting every time she presses the thin brush to the black night sky she’s using as a background. Harry’s eyes grow heavy with sleep after watching her paint for some more time and they gently start to shift their body so that the chair can rock them to sleep when their phone buzzes loudly in their pocket. They pull it out with a tired groan and read the message through half-lidded eyes.

hey ! i hope this isn’t too soon to text u but shawn forced me to do it

    apparently he bumped into niall today and they’ve been talking all day

    sounds kind of familiar haha :)

    anyway , i'm really excited for saturday . hope you are too xx

    (ps , hope this wasn't too creepy)

    (ps x2 , the girls told me to tell you u better come over soon to do magic)

    Delight begins to build up in Harry’s chest and they bite down on their lip to stop themselves from doing something incredibly stupid — like bursting into a pile of blue glitter. Their thumbs move across the cracked screen rapidly as they type out a response and for a moment, they feel like a teenage girl whose crush just talked to her for the very first time. Which, you know, isn’t actually that far from the truth. The green heart that Louis put next to his name makes butterflies erupt in their stomach and they don’t know whether they want to throw up or burst into a pile of glitter.

    Could be both, really.

    “It’s all in the stars, Harry.” Aunt Stevie says, a knowing look appearing in her eyes when they look up from her phone and at her, waiting for her to continue, but she just shrugs her shoulders like that explains everything and turns back to her painting without saying another word. They stare at her back or a second, their eyebrows furrowed together, before shrugging as well and pressing on the Send button.

    Who’s Harry to question a Divination witch, anyway?