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No Nicer Witch Than You

Chapter Text

Black cat, come visit me, I don't care what people say
I saw your hazel eyes, sparkling in the moonlight

Black cat, one day things will change, I'm gonna wipe away your bad name
My friend tells me you're no good, and I say hey I'm not afraid

Black cat, you're beautiful, why does everybody run away
Has anybody told you, I care
Has anybody told you, I love you

-Black Cat by Ziggy Marley

Chapter Text

Honestly...what was he thinking, making a black cat angry?

Phil was a witch, he knew better! And yet...

In his defense, he had been having a rough day, it was no wonder he had gotten a bit moody! And his clumsiness - which made him drop a vial he really didn't want to drop - was getting the better of him. So, yes, Phil had made a black cat angry by being mean to it, and now he was cursed to hell and back because, of course, on that specific day, that specific cat just had to be magic.

The curse came in the form of even more bad luck and, curiously, the black cat following him around. As Phil was pretty allergic to cats, this seemed to come hand in hand with the bad luck, which he had tried everything in order to get rid of, every charm and spell he could think of...but this was a stubborn one. He had pissed off a bloody cat and now he was stuck with a permanently stuffy nose and swollen eyes (he had accidentally made the remedy wrong and now didn't have enough ingredients for a new one until he made a trip downtown...it figures).

Weeks passed, and the cat didn't seem to want to leave any time soon. One day, in a new bout of frustration after having burned himself for the thousandth time in the last two hours alone, Phil let out a muffled scream, "Okay, look, I'm sorry I shooed you away and called you a nuisance, I was just having a bad day! But now you're just being over-dramatic, it's been weeks, aren't you sick of following me around?!"

But the cat remained impassive, not even a meow of acknowledgment, it just kept staring up at Phil with its hazel eyes.

"Okay, look! Can we please at least try being friends? Who knows, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship! I'll call you...Layla."

At this, the cat hissed fiercely at Phil and turned tail out of the room. Maybe it didn't like the name? Either way, this gave Phil's nose, eyes, and lungs a break.

An hour went by, Phil could actually breathe! But then...

A day went by.

Two days went by.

And...okay, that was weird. Not that Phil wasn't glad that his allergies had mostly stopped, but he found himself worried about - well - Layla. Even his bad luck had dwindled to an all-time low which was honestly just suspicious. Layla didn't seem like the type to give up so easily, to just up and leave. If anything, it should have made his life harder after that blunder. Besides, Phil couldn't be sure that his curse really was lifted if the cat never let him know so, he reasoned. So, Phil, being the well-meaning and not at all attached witch that he is, decided to go looking for it.

That's how he found himself in the middle of the forest surrounding his house. To be fair, he knew it pretty well. He'd been running around in it since he was a child, really. And he figured Layla couldn't be that far away, it was probably just annoying the elder tree and had forgotten about him for two whole days or something.

Or maybe it had abandoned him, like everyone else seemed to do when they realized he was too much to handle.

"Layla!" He screamed, "Honestly, if you just show up and tell me you're alive I'll give you whatever food you want, I'll- I'll give you my best fish! I'll even find you some cheese or something!"

A frustrated sigh left him, "You know! It's really rude to leave people hanging like that! Layla!"

But he never got a sassy meow back.

What he did get, later in the day, was the unexpected view of a butt. Quite a nice one too. Said butt found itself attached to a person laying unconscious on a patch of grass.

"Oh, crap..." mumbled the tired witch.

Phil tried shaking the boy awake, his brown curls bouncing along, but he wouldn't budge.

So Phil did what any sensible witch would do and covered the boy with his heavy black cloak in order to shield him from the cold and the wandering eyes of squirrels.

"Guess I'll take you home...can't just leave you out here. I can keep looking for Layla another time...and besides, cats run away all the time, right? I'm sure she wouldn't just let me free like that...seemed like a spiteful little thing."

Phil kept talking to himself while carrying the cloaked boy on his back, good thing he'd taken a strength potion that morning just in case he found Layla trapped or something. He was sure even spirits had their limits.

Back in his cot, Phil put the boy down on his bed, getting ready to set out to find some clothes for him, except...

"Nice of you to give me the bed."

Phil shrieked before promptly falling on his butt.

"Woah, easy there tiger!"

"You're awake!"

"I have been for a while, but it was nice hearing you talk about your annoying cat, and my head kinda hurt, so, you know..."

Phil really didn't know. However, he decided to let it go.

"Uh, okay...um, so are you good? I mean, you kinda...were passed out naked in the middle of a forest and stuff."

The boy blinked his brown eyes and pushed his hair out of his face, "uh, I...yeah. I'm fine."

"Uh...okay? So...do you need anything?"

"No."

"Okay."

"Yeah."

Phil blinked, "you know what, let me go get you some clothes."

The guy smirked back, "is the view distracting?"

"A bit, actually."

That actually seemed to leave the boy a little stunned, which left Phil satisfied enough to be able to move his feet.

Fifteen minutes later, he was dressed and Phil was depositing a freshly brewed cup of tea in front of him, "so, what's your name? I can't keep calling you "boy" in my head, it gives way to some bad narrative."

Said boy smirked (damn, was that a pretty sight), "God, what must a minute in your mind look like...but yeah, my name is Dan."

"Nice to meet you, Dan! I'm Phil. Do you live close by, are you traveling...?"

"Well, uh...I've been living in the forest for a while."

"Oh! We're neighbors, then!"

Dan seemed pleasantly surprised that Phil had decided not to pry farther than that. It wasn't in his nature to do so, it wasn't vital information anyway unless Dan decided to rob him or something. Phil felt like he wouldn't. Not that he even had that much of value anyway, but Dan seemed trustworthy. Maybe he was just being naive, but if it bit him in the ass later, well, that was a problem for future Phil, wasn't it?

"Yeah, so...like I said...I heard you talking about your cat? It's lost, huh?"

"Yeah! She's not technically my cat, uh, actually, she kinda cursed me, but, you know, just wanna find her and make sure she's let me go, you know? Have you seen her? A darling little thing with short black fur and the loveliest hazel eyes! I'm scared she might be giving someone else trouble, of course. She just doesn't seem the quiet type, Layla. I'm used to having bad luck, anyway, I can take it better than some other poor lad, I'm sure..."

Dan had a soft smile on his face, "Yeah, she did sound really annoying when you talked about her all fondly and shit. Definitely. But yeah, Layla...nice name."

Phil felt affronted, "well, you try dealing with allergies and screwing up your potions all the time! And yeah, I just thought it suited her. Bit fairy-like."

Dan laughed, a deep-bellied laugh that sounded so nice and genuine it made Phil want to hear it all the time forever.

"So you're a witch, then? What'd you put in my tea? A love potion?"

"Don't think I'd need that, I could woo you just fine if I wanted to!"

"Yeah, you seem to be doing a fine job of it," Dan smiled.

Phil definitely didn't blush at that. Nope.

Dan and Phil talked for a few more hours, about everything and nothing. Talking to Dan just came easily, it felt natural, and Phil kinda never wanted to stop. He always managed to put his foot in his mouth when talking to other people, but that afternoon there was nothing but laughter and soft smiles. It almost felt like talking to himself, the only other time he ever felt comfortable speaking.

But when they both started yawning a little too often, Phil decided maybe he should let Dan go instead of making him sit at his kitchen table for the rest of the night (the rest of his life?) like he wanted to.

"So, I guess it's getting late..." he huffed out hesitantly.

Dan's smile dropped and Phil immediately wanted to take back his sentence, "Yeah, uh...you know, if you want I could help you go look for Layla tomorrow."

"I'd love that!" Phil felt his heart get full for the thousandth time that day. Dan seemed to be bad for his blood pressure, but definitely good for his posture.

"Yeah!" This decision seemed to re-energize Dan, "So uh, I'll be going, but I'll meet you back here in the morning, yeah?"

The next day they met and walked around, but Layla was still nowhere to be found. They kept meeting every day anyway, just in case she appeared. Phil felt guilty about it but frankly, at this point, he was just loving getting to spend time with Dan, even if Layla refused to make an appearance. He didn't feel lonely anymore anyway. And, for all he knew, maybe Layla was fine and dandy. Maybe she'd even sent Dan his way in compensation for having been too harsh on him and was now long gone. Perhaps disturbing someone else, or just living her best cat life.

So after a week of this, he decided to drop the excuse of looking for Layla. She obviously didn't want to be found, he'd been silly to think a magical creature such as her would ever be in trouble and in need of a foolish witch's assistance. She'd just up and left him. He should be happy about it, anyway! Ever since she had left, good luck seemed abundant in his life, he'd even met Dan! And now he just wanted to get over the damn cat and spend time with him, no excuses.

"Dan..." He sighed, "she's gone. We're not gonna find her, we should stop looking."

"But...wasn't she your friend? I really don't mind looking for her, Phil. I've been loving spending time with you."

Dan seemed disappointed, which made Phil's heart squeeze with love. The disgruntled expression on his face was precious, he couldn't help it!

"Dan, I obviously still want to spend time with you! But I'm gonna stop looking for her...it was foolish of me to think she'd ever want me to find her, anyway. She's a bloody magical creature, what was I thinking? I just...got attached. To a bloody cat who cursed me! Imagine that!" He sighed. "I feel a bit pathetic, actually. I'm sure she's fine. And that's all that matters, really. It's okay that she didn't want to stay with me. At least, I tried."

"Phil...fuck, I...I should tell you something. Shit, I should've said this before, actually, but...better late than never, I guess."

The witch frowned, "what the hell are you talking about?"

"Okay, so, uh...I kind of am Layla? I mean...I am Layla."

Phil blinked.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

"Excuse me?"

"Please don't be mad at me for not telling you sooner! I genuinely didn't know you felt that way, I didn't mean for you to feel abandoned! I was under a curse, for a while I got turned into an unlucky cat, and when you found me in the forest, well, I had just transformed back the night before. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I just...was enjoying your company, and yeah, you ended up liking "Layla", but I wasn't sure how you'd feel knowing she was actually a human...that she was actually me...that I'd been responsible for your bad luck."

Phil...kind of wanted to be angry, honestly. But he couldn't find it in himself to be mad at the man in front of him. He seemed so sincere...and Phil was already whipped for him, frankly. What would be the use in getting angry now? At least he now knew Layla had actually never left him...in fact, she'd been there the whole time.

He still wished Dan had been honest with him from the beginning, obviously. It seemed to be a situation that had just snowballed. Dan seemed prone to those...how had he gotten cursed?

Phil would be sure to tell him that later, though. He figured the conversation about honesty could wait until after the relief had passed. So he simply hugged Dan as tightly as he could and basked in the moment. The other boy seemed to visibly deflate in his arms, probably in relief.

"You're still the best thing that ever happened to me, Dan."

Dan let out a choked laugh, "you're the best thing that ever happened to me, too, Phil. Is that crazy?"

Phil laughed, "yeah. A bit mad, really."

"Well, too bad," Dan sighed into his shoulder.

"Yeah...too bad."