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Emira would’ve loved to put all the blame for what happened at the library on Ed, but it had been her idea too. Sneaking into the library after hours, inviting Luz to come along with them, planning to steal Mittens’ diary to post the pages around school; Emira had helped plan each step. One even could say she masterminded it, but she didn’t want all the blame.

Even though the plan didn’t fully come to fruition, she still got a good laugh at Mittens’ expense in the end. The whole adventure cost her and Ed dearly when they got home. If only she could’ve just blamed it on Ed, that would’ve made things much easier.

The entrance way of the house was quiet when the twins slipped in, as expected for this time of day. Most members of the family would be still asleep in the wee hours of the morning. Almost all lights were off in the mansion, all except the study in the rear of the house. Emira assumed her father was up working early, since many days of the week that study light remained on all night. The only way to the stairs was past this room, which would’ve made it tricky to sneak in if the twins weren’t masters of illusion magic.

After Ed closed the door quietly, Emira signaled for him to follow her and then cast a low level camouflage spell. Ed followed suit as they crept towards the stairs, careful not to make a sound. The spell would only aid in being spotted, not in covering up any accidental noise.

It didn’t matter though, because nothing could get past their father.

“Edric. Emira.” His voice stopped the twins dead in their tracks, their camouflage snapping with a crackle as he stalled them right in front of the study door. “We require your presence.” He spoke evenly, his tone not giving away any clues of what was to come.

Emira didn’t need any clues, she knew what this was about. Ed clearly did too, as he shook his head rapidly and pointed rapidly at the stairs. He wanted to bolt for it. If Emira thought they could get away from it, she would join him.

But no, no matter how fast they ran they would never escape. Emira knew this and she knew Ed did too.

With a shake of her head, Emira pushed open the study door. While she expected to see her father there, she was surprised to see her mother and Mittens as well. Father sat at his desk, writing on a piece of paper in front of him. To the right there were a couple chairs for guests, where the other two sat.

Their mother was dressed in a bathrobe, which gave Emira a twinge of guilt as her mother may have been sleeping before all of this. It was quite early in the morning, after all. Mittens was frowning, as usual, as she watched her siblings enter the room.

Emira and Edric stopped just inside the door, closing it behind them. They waited with bated breath as their father stood up, casting his gaze over his elder children.

“Would either of you like to explain what happened tonight?”

Ed grit his teeth next to her. “We were just teasing, Mittens needs to lighten up. We didn’t even get to read it.” His hand twitched at his side, but stayed there.

Emira backed his story up. “Yeah, we barely looked at her diary. We were just going to put it back anyway.” A little white lie to smooth things over never hurt. Mittens wasn’t buying it, based on how she had one eyebrow raised. Their father, on the other hand, looked quite irritated.

“So you are not aware then,” his voice rose in volume, “of what happened after you abandoned your sister at that library.”

“I’m sure she was fine.” Ed’s smile was clearly forced as he tried not to buckle under the pressure. Emira nodded alongside him.

This was the wrong response.

“She was almost killed by one of the creatures you created.” Her father’s voice was like a judge’s gavel, banging guilty. Emira felt the blood drain from her face.

It was all in good fun, they had never meant to actually harm Mittens. It looked like she had made it out unscathed at least. Again, her father looked between the twins, casting judgement upon them. “If not for her quick thinking, Amity might not have come home.”

That was odd, why not mention Luz? Emira thought the other teen had stayed behind to talk with Amity. Certainly she would’ve been caught up in this as well, but her father didn’t seem to know of her. Did Mittens hide her presence from him?

Ed came through again, “We were just having fun.” He persisted in the defense, lightly elbowing Emira and refocusing her on the conversation. “And we didn’t think anything there was dangerous.”

“That’s right.” Emira lifted her chin. “It was harmless fun.”

“Well, whether you believe that or not, the fact is the two of you brought serious harm upon your sister.” Her father seemed done with listening to their excuses. “You will apologize, and you are grounded for the next month. You will only be permitted to leave the house to escort Amity. Am I clear?”

Emira hung her head forward as she and Ed responded in unison. “Yes sir.”

Her father didn’t seem satisfied, as he gestured towards Mittens with one hand. “And?” he prompted them.

“I’m sorry…” Ed said quietly, trailing off at the end.

“Me too. I’m sorry Mittens.” Emira brought her gaze back up to meet Mittens’, a blank expression meeting hers.

“Thank you.” Was all Mittens said, in her usual tone.

Her father nodded once. “Good then.” He turned back towards his desk. “If you hurt your sister again or bring more shame upon this family, you will never see the light of day again.” She knew him well enough to know he would make good on that promise.

Emira and Ed both muttered that they understood.

“You are dismissed.” Her father sat back down at his desk, picking up his pen to resume whatever he had been doing when they arrived.

All three teens slipped out of the office, shutting the door behind them.

They walked in silence up the stairs, out of their parent’s earshot. Once they reached the peak though, all bets were off.

“Why’d you tattle on us?” Ed immediately turned on Mittens, his lips pulled into a distinct frown.

Mittens crossed her arms, “You had to be stopped.” She had to look up to make eye contact with her siblings. “Otabin tried to kill me!”

“Are you sure you’re not exaggerating?” Emira cut in; Otabin was a sweet little rabbit he wouldn’t do something like that.

Mittens stomped one foot. “Yes I’m sure.” She seethed. “He had big claws and he tried to sew me into a book so I would be his friend forever!”

“We were just having fun.” Ed said in response, but Emira couldn’t really hear it. What Mittens said finally clicked in her mind. Ed had drawn the claws on that rabbit. When Luz dropped the book they assumed it was closed, apparently they should’ve checked better. They really had almost killed their little sister.

“I’m sorry we left you alone with it.” Emira interrupted whatever Mittens was saying in response, drawing two surprised stares to her. “And it won’t happen again.” Neither of them had anything to say now; they just looked at Emira as if she had grown a second head. “I’m going to bed, so should you.”

Without waiting for a response, Emira brushed past the pair to go to her room. Once inside, she collapsed down onto her bed. The weight of what happened and what nearly happened that day pushed down on her shoulders.

Had she always been this bad of a sister? The answer was probably yes. She had teased and played pranks on Mittens since they were very young. It was like a hobby for her and Ed.

Well, no more of that. It was time to stop picking on her little sister, or at least pick on her a bit less, a very small bit less she still loved to tease her, and be a responsible older sibling. No more putting her in danger, especially not mortal peril like today. She also should try to protect her, though she wasn’t sure from what.

Emira wondered what kind of danger Mittens got in on her own, since most of the time she was off at school or doing uh… Emira didn’t actually know what Mittens did in her free time. What kind of trouble did she get into out there?

She didn’t know much about Mittens at all, when she thought about it. Sure, she knew she was a star student who got good grades, though not as good as her siblings, and had a surly streak, but what were her interests besides reading? What kinds of food did she like? Did she have a crush on a witch in her class? Emira should’ve been able to answer these questions, but she couldn’t.

Maybe she should ask, that might be a good place to start. Tomorrow could work, or next week since Mittens might not forgive so quickly.

With that simple plan in place, Emira went to bed with the conviction to be a better sister in her heart.

Even though she had been up all night, it took a very long time to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

A week passed since the library incident with only some pranks being pulled. Emira was trapped in the house except for going to school and when Mittens needed to be escorted somewhere. Sure, she and Ed would find things to do between school and getting home, but it wasn’t nearly as much as they were doing before. They tried to sneak out one night too, but as expected that only led to their father catching them red handed and threatening to extend their sentence.

As for escorting Mittens, well, her sister wasn’t keen on the idea. The first time Emira asked if she could go with her, just a couple days after the punishment started, Mittens had snapped back that she didn’t need to be escorted and would be fine on her own. With Ed’s help, Emira was able to get that no turned into a very reluctant yes.

It was a short-term win, they got to go to the market that day and re-arrange the lettering on some signs, but a long-term loss. Mittens stopped telling them when and where she was going somewhere, which was definitely to avoid the two tagging along.

This meant that Emira was again stuck in the house. Maybe she deserved it, no she for sure deserved it, but that didn’t make the punishment any easier to bear.

Today, she was sitting downstairs in one of the side rooms of the house. Normally she would be in her or Ed’s room, but this afternoon was different.

Mittens had come home from school with a couple of friends. These were two girls she’d known for many years, or at least Emira could recall seeing them at least once that long ago. This wasn’t the first time they’d been by. Mittens had brought home friends before, but Emira could count those instances on one hand.

She used to have another friend too, though Emira couldn’t remember her name or the last time she’d seen her. That was before Mittens started at Hexside, so it was quite a long time ago.

The younger teens were in another side room, which of course just happened to be next to where Emira lurked. What a delightful coincidence, she chuckled silently as she moved a chair into exactly the right position. Ed hadn’t wanted to participate in this, claiming it was boring and pointless. Emira would prove how wrong he was.

While sitting against the correct wall and with the right spell, Emira could easily listen in on the conversation between Mittens and her friends.

This was a great chance to pick up some gossip about underclassmen and Mittens herself. Also, Emira had unfortunately made zero progress in getting to know Mittens better. She had asked a couple of easy questions, but was rejected or ignored every time. Mittens still seemed to be mad at her for what happened at the library. Maybe eavesdropping would provide better results. It was definitely easier and way more fun.

With a spin of her finger, Emira cast the spell so she could listen in.

“And I thought, no way her test score is higher than mine.” That voice belonged to uh, the one with pink hair and three eyes. What was her name again? Bash or something like that? “But when I took it, it really was!” Bash’s voice rose as if to convey her absolute disbelief.

“What did you do?” This was the other friend, was it Scare? That sounded close enough.

“You know I couldn’t just leave it.” Bash responded smugly. “She’ll get a swelled head. I left a note on her locker, so she can remember her place.” From the tone alone, Emira could tell that the note was not a kind one. Were they talking about bullying another student? It sure sounded like it. “Amity helped get it just right.”

“I barely did anything.” Finally Mittens spoke, surprisingly surly considering she was speaking with her friends. “That was all you.”

“Whatever, Willow is so gonna freak when she sees it tomorrow.” Bash cackled, drawing a chuckle from Scare as well. “She won’t challenge me again.”

“As it should be.” Scare sounded satisfied.

They were kind of mean, weren’t they? Emira thought as she listened to the exchange. Not exactly the witchlings she would want to befriend. Sure, she and Ed played pranks at school, but they didn’t bully anybody.

The conversation continued, shifting away from their classmates to homework. Most of the talking was done by Bash and Scare, with Mittens only contributing when asked something directly.

It was strange to listen to. Not like Mittens was much of a talker in the first place, but Emira thought she would open up more with friends. She wasn’t getting any good material here, not on underclassmen or on Mittens.

Emira stuck with it only because there was nothing else to do. Well that was a lie; there was her homework, but even this was better than that.

Exactly on the hour, which was about thirty minutes after Emira started listening in and basically one hour after they had arrived, Mittens’ friends got up to go. They both bid her a brief farewell and left the room together. Emira could hear their footsteps as the walked past the room she was in, headed towards the front door.

Mittens hadn’t gone with them. At least, the sound of her footsteps hadn’t.

Emira cut off the listening spell and stood from her chair with a stretch. She opened the door to the hallway and poked her head out to see if Mittens was just sneaking by, but it was empty.

It was tempting to just go up to her room, or to Ed’s to fill him in on how boring the experience had been, but not today. That was what the old Emira would’ve done, pre library Emira. The new Emira, who was trying to learn about her sister, would take this opportunity to have some one on one time with her.

Giving herself a little pep talk of, “you can do it!” Emira approached the room Mittens remained in. She didn’t bother knocking, just pushed the door open and entered.

As expected, Mittens was there alone. She sat in one of the chairs with her school bag next to her and was writing on a piece of paper, likely the homework she started while her friends were there.

“Oh, your friends are gone?” Emira played it as if she hadn’t been listening to their conversation for the last half hour. “Bash and Scare right?” Might as well get their real names, since Emira was pretty sure she had them wrong.

“Boscha and Skara.” Reliable Mittens corrected her, not even looking up from her homework.

“Ah right that’s it.” Emira had been closer than she thought. “Too bad. I wanted to get to know them, since they’re your friends and all.”

This brought Mittens eyes up, and not in a friendly way. Her gold eyes were narrowed with suspicion. “Why?” If a word could bite, that would’ve stung.

“Is there something wrong with wanting to know my sister’s friends?” Even though she really wasn’t trying to start trouble, Emira still felt the need to act innocent and smooth things over.

“Yes.” Was the flat response she got in return.

Emira resisted a sigh; this was exactly how Mittens had been responding to her efforts all week. She knew it would be difficult to build trust after the library incident, but hadn’t been prepared for what exactly that meant. In retrospect, the 14 years of teasing and pranks probably didn’t help either.

“Really, I’m just curious. How long have you known them anyway?” Emira sat down in an abandoned chair near Mittens, where one of the other teens probably sat before. This was an easy question, not too probing, so hopefully she would answer.

Mittens’ expression softened minutely, which was a good sign. “I’m not sure, 5 or 6 years probably.” That was about what Emira thought too.

“What do you usually do with them? They don’t come over to the house much.” Might as well keep asking questions, since Mittens had answered the last one.

“Nothing really, shopping I guess.” Mittens looked like she had to think hard about that answer. “And homework.” She nodded. Of course, Mittens was ever the studious child.

“Do you do anything fun with them?” Emira pressed again, still looking for a hobby or something new. She already knew Mittens liked to do homework and sometimes went to the market.

Mittens shook her head. “I don’t spend that much time with them. They can be…” Her voice trailed off, as if already regretting the words she wanted to say.

Emira took a slow breath, giving Mittens a chance to finish the sentence. When her sister didn’t continue, she took the plunge.

“They’re kind of mean aren’t they?”

Mittens' golden eyes widened in surprise, looking right into Emira’s. After a moment’s pause her expression softened into what could almost be considered a smile. “Yeah, they are.” She quickly shifted back to a frown and sighed, a big sigh for a 14 year old kid. “Nothing I can do about it.” She muttered and looked down, as if just talking to herself. Mittens looked so concerned over this, Emira couldn’t help but try to help.

“Why don’t you hang out with someone else? I thought you had another friend before, I can’t remember what her name was though.” Emira looked into the distance and brought one hand to her chin, trying to remember that kid’s name. It was no use; she didn’t know it.

When she looked back over at Mittens, her expression had changed. It was like a cloud had slammed down over her face, replacing any softness with clenched teeth and a sharp frown. “I can’t.” Mitten’s spoke tersely, bringing palpable tension to the room.

Emira was surprised, but she could adapt to the conversation. “They say there are plenty of other fish in the sea. I’m sure lots of other witchlings will want to be your friend.” She offered with a smile, hoping to be encouraging. Mittens was the top of her class, and despite all the teasing Emira did think highly of her magic and her ability to make friends.

This did not seem to be what her sister wanted to hear.

Mittens stuffed her paper into her bag and stood abruptly, taking a few terse steps towards the door. She didn’t even look back as she spoke in a low biting tone. “You wouldn’t understand.” She left before Emira could muster her thoughts to call after her, all but slamming the door behind her.

Well, Emira thought as she sat stunned with one hand extended towards the closed door, that could’ve gone better.

Chapter Text

Another day, another afternoon spent trapped in the Blight family home. The twins were about halfway through their punishment and they both yearned for freedom.

They were both lurking upstairs in the main hallway. Emira stood in front of a window, looking out at the forbidden expanse beyond the field they called a yard. Ed leaned against a wall to her right, the toe of one foot tapping in an uneven rhythm against the floor. He seemed like a compressed spring, ready to be released and bounce around the room.

“I can’t take it anymore.” Ed stood up straight as he expressed his frustration, no longer leaning on the wall. “I’m going out the attic window. You in?” Emira looked over as he made the offer with an extended hand and a crooked grin.

Emira already knew how that would end. It would be the same as when she tried it a few days before, a complete disaster. Might as well let Ed attempt the escape though, maybe he would have better luck. If he didn’t, it still would be funny to watch her father drag him back.

“Not today.” Emira couldn’t resist a smile at the mental image of Ed literally being dragged to his room. “Best of luck, watch out for the creaky floorboard.” And the traps, she added only in her head.

Ed nodded, “Will do.” With a wave, he departed in the direction of the attic stairs. Emira didn’t watch him go, instead turning back towards the window.

There wasn’t much to see out there, a couple trees, some grass, a squirrel or bird every once in a while. It was only slightly better than staring at a painting.

That changed when a short figure walked out into the field. It couldn’t be Ed, that would’ve been way too fast for him to have escaped.

It was Mittens; that shade of green hair was unmistakable. It was hard to see her in detail from the second floor window, so Emira had to squint to try. She seemed to be carrying some kind of small object and a water bottle, but didn’t have her school bag or any books with her.

She stopped under the nearest tree and put down both the bottle and object, then took up a casting stance. An abomination rose from the earth in front of her, punching the air ahead of it.

Ah, so Mittens was out there to practice magic. Even when she was free to leave the house, she stayed nearby to train. Emira would’ve felt jealous if this didn’t provide a good opportunity for her.

If Emira offered to help Mittens train, there was no way her mother would say no. This was a great chance to get some fresh air and maybe watch Ed try to scale the outside of the house, if he made it that far.

In a much better mood than before, Emira left the window to look for her mother downstairs. As expected, she was thrilled that Emira wanted to help her sister train. She gave permission to train with her behind the house, but to not leave the property line. That was one potential loophole removed, but Emira couldn’t complain.

After grabbing an additional water bottle, Emira departed the back door of the house. Mittens was right where she last saw her, but the abomination looked different now. It seemed misshapen compared to earlier, specifically like it was now only legs with no body.

“Hey Mittens!” Emira called out loudly and from a distance. She had startled Mittens with an abomination summoned once before and had been beaned with abomination goo for her error.

Mittens looked over when she called, expression unchanged as she dismissed the abomination. “What do you want?” She asked when Emira reached her, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“Just to offer myself as a training partner.” Emira dropped her water bottle next to Mittens’, making note that the other object she brought had been a training wand. “If you’ll have me.”

“You’re only doing this to get out of the house.” Mittens was too astute for her own good.

Emira gave it to her straight. “Two birds, one stone.”

This drew an eyeroll from the other teen. “Fine.” Mittens gave in with a frown.

In contrast, a smile grew on Emira’s face. “What are we working on?” She couldn’t remember the last time she practiced magic with Mittens.

“Abomination magic.” Mittens said bluntly, as if that answered the question properly.

“Yeah I know that’s your track,” Emira tried again, a little bit of surliness wasn’t enough to stop her. “What are you trying to do with it?”

“I’ll show you.” As Mittens relaxed her posture, Emira moved to the side so she would be away from the summoning zone. After a moment, Mittens used two hands to draw a large circle. It glowed purple before an abomination appeared out of it. However, like before this was not a typical abomination. It was just a foot this time, significantly larger than a normal abomination foot, appearing out of the magic circle. It also stayed attached to the circle, unlike a regular abomination.

Emira inched closer to get a better look. “So you’re just summoning one limb?” She asked, impressed at the creativity being displayed. She hadn’t thought of Mittens as one to modify spells like this.

“One or two, it depends.” With a lift of Mittens’ hand, the abomination foot lifted and then stomped the ground. She then waved to dispel the abomination. “If I can make them big enough, they’re quite useful.”

That made sense. “Your full-sized abominations are still pretty small, but a whole leg that size packs a much bigger kick.” Emira commented with a nod.

Mittens grimaced. “I wouldn’t put it quite like that.” She said sharply, and then sighed. “But yes.”

“Oh, how about I make some targets for you to hit?” Emira hit her right fist into the palm of her other hand in a punching motion. “That way you can adapt each time.”

For the first time that day, Emira felt like Mittens was really looking at her. Not just looking in her direction, like she had been while they talked before, but was actually paying attention to her. Though it was just a look, it carried distinct weight.

Mittens mulled it over for a moment. “That would be great.” Was what she settled on, which Emira was glad to hear.

“Let’s get started then.” Emira lifted one hand to draw a circle, casting an illusion spell. She made an illusionary crate a meter away from Mittens. It was about half a meter tall and, since it was an illusion, it would be easy to smash.

In response, Mittens moved closer to it and drew a magic circle in the air. She summoned a large abomination foot, which crushed the box easily.

Emira prepared the next target, and then the next after that, as Mittens kept destroying them. She tried to make it harder by putting some mid-air, but even that didn’t stop Mittens. Her sister worked with a look of grim determination as she cast each spell in this exercise.

They trained for a while, creating and destroying, until Emira called for a break. She was starting to sweat under the heat of the sun, and she could tell by the speed of abomination summon that Mittens’ magic needed a rest.

Emira sat down in the shade under the tree, grabbing her water bottle to rehydrate. “Come sit with me.” She called to Mittens, who was still standing out in the sun.

Mittens stood there for a few more seconds, then turned to join her. She collapsed next to Emira on the grass and picked up the other bottle to take a long drink.

“Your abomination magic has improved a lot, I’m impressed.” Emira commented, not expecting Mittens to choke mid sip.

She coughed a few times to clear the water from her throat. “T-thanks.” Her cheeks were flushed, at least partly because of the choking.

“I remember when you first summoned one of those things, it was barely the size of your hand.” Emira flashed a smile her sister’s way. “You were so cute back then.” Mittens had been young, around 5 or 6, when she first started casting magic.

“Thanks.” This one was delivered dryly, sounding far less sincere.

“That reminds me, why did you go into the abomination track?” Emira had been wondering this for a while. She knew Mittens wanted to join the Emperors Coven, but that could be done from any track.

She watched as Mittens expression changed. It went from mildly annoyed, which was left over from the previous comment, to more contemplative. Emira wished the illusion track had a mind reading spell; that would make her life so much easier. She had to wait until Mittens was ready to respond.

“No reason really.” She said, her gaze shifting to just over Emira’s shoulder. It was a clear deflection, a statement that didn’t even come close to answering the question.

Emira let it go; she remembered what happened last time she pried too hard for answers. Maybe it would be better to share something instead.

“Did I ever tell you,” Emira put the cap back on her bottle as she started to speak, “that I almost joined the beast keeping track?”

“No way.” This brought a small smile to Mittens’ face, her eyes refocusing on Emira. “You, a beast keeper?”

Emira could feel her cheeks warm. “I know right, it doesn’t exactly match my image.” She chuckled. “But I’m not kidding, I considered it.” She waved one hand out in a sweeping gesture as she continued. “I thought having a legion of beasts would be so cool! They could play pranks, and nobody would ever know it was me.”

Mittens actually chuckled at that. “You know the beasts are unique to the witch, right?”

“I found that out the hard way, landed straight in detention.” It was long enough ago that Emira could laugh about it. “Went right back to illusions after that.”

“I’m sure Ed was happy to have you back.” Mittens said softly, still smiling.

“He practically bawled when I came back to class.” Ed wouldn’t admit it, but he had always been the clingy twin. “I’m better at illusion magic anyway, it was the right choice.”

Mittens brought her hands together, looking down at them. She inhaled sharply before speaking. “I’ve been trying to learn a fire spell.” The words sounded strained. “Even though it’s not abomination magic, it could be useful.” Her eyes popped back up to Emira’s, watching her and waiting for a response.

It would be easy to tease her about the new spell, but Emira pushed that urge away. “Have you been practicing it?” If she had, Emira wasn’t sure where. Fire spells could be quite volatile, and the house was not burned down.

“Only the theory,” Mittens shook her head. “Everything is too flammable.”

“Hmm.” Emira thought about it, where it could be safe to learn a fire spell. “What about at The Knee?” Oh yes this was a good idea. “It’s covered in snow, so even if you accidentally burn something it can be put out easily.

Mittens thought about it before responding. “That could work, but it’s too far to go alone and our parents will never let me.”

“Ed and I can take you.” Emira asserted, quite boldly considering she was currently grounded. “We can help you test out that fire spell too.”

“You can’t go, you’re grounded.” Mittens knew that fact too.

“If you ask her, mother will say yes.” This wasn’t guaranteed, but it was pretty likely.

Mittens conceded with a nod. “I can try.” Her eyes moved away from Emira, focusing on the house behind her. Mittens brow furrowed and she rose to her feet. “Um, Em…” She lifted one hand to point towards the house. Emira turned to look that way and jumped up as well when she saw it.

Somehow, Ed had made it out of the attic window. He was currently climbing down the side of the house, avoiding crossing any of the other windows. He moved across the siding slowly, using magic to help stay on the wall.

“Look at that, he made it.” Emira commented as he reached halfway down the house.

“What in the Boiling Isles is he doing?” Mittens asked incredulously.

“Getting some fresh air.”

Ed made it to the ground safely, though his pride probably took a hit when Emira called him over to the field.  

There was no time to escape the house; they had to discuss taking Mittens to train at The Knee.

Chapter Text

The trip to The Knee was approved, with some conditions.

It almost didn’t happen due to the whole Emira and Ed being grounded thing, but her mother stepped up and convinced her father that it would be fine. Emira wasn’t sure how she had pulled that off, her father was notoriously stubborn, but she couldn’t complain with the result.

The conditions were that the three had to return without a single scratch on them, and the twins had to be unfailingly kind to their sister while escorting her.

Both of those conditions had been broken.

The trip itself hadn’t been nearly as safe as expected. The Owl Lady showing up with the human Luz brought a brand new level of danger to the group. As Mittens had complained once before, the human seemed to attract danger to herself.

Emira, Ed, and the Owl Lady had almost been eaten by a slitherbeast, which probably would’ve gone after Mittens and Luz once it finished digesting them. Luckily, the two kids came through and freed them. Amity used the new fire spell to do it, and Emira made sure to tell her how brave she’d been after. Ed ruined the moment a second later by ruffling Mittens’ hair.

Once the Owl Lady and Luz shot off into the distance, that left the Blight siblings to pack up and head back to town. Since Mittens had control of the spell, she could practice it safely at home with a bucket of water.

They went back to their tent and put all of their stuff back into packs. Once that was done, Ed folded the tent back to its regular size with a spell.

Once that was packed, they picked up their backpacks and set off towards town. The stuff was divided between the three of them, with some extra weight for Ed and Emira. It would take a couple hours of walking to get to town, since The Knee was far away.

“Are you sure I can’t bring the bat?” Ed asked as they started walking away from where their camp had been set up. He paused to look back over the trees, as if trying to spot something.

“You don’t still have it, do you?” Emira stopped next to him and asked with hands on her hips and one eyebrow raised.

Ed stuck his lower lip out in a pout. “No…” He said with a sigh. Emira reached over to pat him a couple times on the arm in a ‘there there’ kind of motion. It didn’t seem to help.

“C’mon let’s go!” Mittens called back to them from the trail a few meters away. She hadn’t stopped to discuss the bat and was now waiting at a distance.

“Alright.” Ed was still pouting as he gave in, moving to join Mittens on the trail. Emira followed, wishing the bat farewell in her head.

“Make sure to keep up.” Mittens said pointedly, looking first at Ed then at Emira as they reached her.

Ed raised one hand in a mock salute. “Yes Ma’am.” He had his usual smirk back in place. Emira followed suit, mimicking the salute.

Mittens rolled her eyes, then turned to set off down the trail. Emira glanced over at Ed and the two shared a chuckle before following.

“Before we get back, I think we need to get our story straight.” Mittens adjusted her bag on her back as she spoke, turning her head slightly so that the twins could hear her.

“Not that that’s a bad idea, but I’m surprised.” Ed sped up a little in order to walk next to Mittens. “Miss goody two shoes, suggesting we lie to our parents? What a twist.” He leaned in on Mittens for emphasis, so she fell a step behind to avoid him.

Emira cut in to bring the conversation back on track. “She’s right though, we can’t tell them that a slitherbeast almost ate us.” She shuddered at the punishment that might bring. Forget one month, they’d be grounded for the rest of their lives.

“We’d never see the light of day again.” Ed muttered, clearly imagining the same thing.

“Exactly.” Mittens said with a nod. “So we need to figure out what to tell them.”

“We should just say that you mastered the new spell without any trouble or danger.” Emira thought keeping it simple would be best. “No need to mention the slitherbeast or the Owl Lady.”

“I’m not sure which would be worse to them,” Ed added, “The Owl Lady or the slitherbeast.”

Mittens brow furrowed at that, her eyebrows moving closer together. “The slitherbeast for sure.”

“I’m with Mittens.” Emira had to agree. “Near death is far worse than covenless witches.”

“I don’t know.” Ed shrugged his shoulders. “That Owl Lady is a wanted criminal after all.”

“The Blight family will not associate with those below us!” Emira spoke loudly in a low pitch, imitating the way her father had said it many times.

“She’s been doing a good job teaching Luz.” Mittens interjected, but a moment later her eyes widened and a slight pink dusted her cheeks. “Or so I’ve heard.”

“Luz cast a pretty powerful spell today.” Ed mimicked the motion of the ice cannon rising from the ground with his hands. “It was weird how she cast it, looked like some kind of rune.”

Mittens nodded. “She draws glyphs, not any I’ve seen before though. I’m not sure how it works.”

Interesting, Mittens hadn’t seemed to like Luz at all back at the library. In fact, she’d been more upset about Luz reading her diary than the twins reading it. But now, she knew the basics of how her magic worked and had even talked about starting a book club together.

“You seem close to her now.” It wasn’t a question, but Emira was watching carefully for Mittens’ response.

A larger blush blossomed on Mitten’s cheeks as she turned to hide her face, far more than could be attributed to the cold. “N-not really. We’re going to be in the same class and I like to know my peers.” The stutter didn’t give her argument much validity. As Emira had suspected, there was clearly more going on between her sister and the human.

“Riiight.” Ed smirked, also not buying it. “Because you totally stop in the middle of training to wave at all your classmates.” Ah right, that was when he buried Mittens in the snow for not paying attention while they were sparring. She had stopped casting spells to wave at Luz. Very incriminating.

“I would.” Mittens insisted, digging one of her heels against the ground as she walked. Thinking back on what Emira knew about her other friends, she doubted it.

If Ed wasn’t part of this conversation, Emira might’ve pursued this topic further. She was quite curious about this new relationship with Luz and with how red Mittens’ face was getting. Unfortunately now probably wasn’t the best time to push the issue, but she couldn’t resist one small tease. “Hey, knock it off Ed. Let Mittens have her secrets.” Emira settled with that.

“That’s right.” Mittens huffed, before realizing exactly what was said and almost squeaking. “No, wait, there’s no secret.” Her eyes were wide as she waved her hands in a dismissive motion, that blush still easy to spot on her face.

“Fine, have it your way.” Ed shrugged and adjusted his pack, agreeing to drop the topic. He quickly bounced back with a new one. “Did you see that spell the Owl Lady used?” He mimicked the arm motion the Owl Lady made when she put the slitherbeast to sleep. “That was so cool, I wonder if we could learn it.”

“I think a sleep spell is part of the healing coven.” Emira mused, thinking about the way the spell was cast with a smaller circle and then pushed into a larger one.

“Oh right.” Ed frowned at that. “Too bad, the potential of being able to put someone to sleep is limitless.”

He was right, putting someone to sleep made pranking or tricking them a lot easier. “We can ask the teacher if there is anything like it in illusions.” Though Emira and Ed were excellent at illusion magic, they didn’t know every spell that existed.

Emira lifted one hand to her chin as she thought about the different spells she knew, trying to figure out if one could be applied this way. The best she could come up with was using the magic to knock someone out by force.

“You’re plotting something again.” Mittens had fallen back to her side, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

It was Emira’s turn to wave her hands dismissively. “I’m not, I swear.” She couldn’t help but grin when Mitten’s eyebrows popped up in doubt. Emira leaned in slightly. “Not yet that is.” She laughed, drawing another eye roll and a hint of a smile from her sister.

“We’ll plan later.” Ed matched her grin, probably already working out how to use illusion magic to knock people out.

“I want no part of this.” Mittens picked up the pace, speeding ahead of her siblings.

“You’ll miss all the fun.” Emira called after her, chuckling again when Mittens looked back and shook her head no.

“I think I’ll manage without it.” Though she sounded serious, Mittens looked like she was enjoying the banter.

Ed and Emira carried on a conversation after that about different illusion spells that might be useful in knocking someone out. They couldn’t think of one that wouldn’t cause physical harm to the victim, unfortunately. Though she walked a meter ahead of them, Mittens was definitely still listening in.

Soon the trio was out of the snow and onto the main road back to town.

Despite almost dying, they had a successful trip.

Chapter Text

Every year Hexside held a huge Grom dance to celebrate Grometheus being defeated and banished back under the school. It was one of the biggest events of the school year; all students 14 and older went to watch the fight and party. Emira wondered why they didn’t permanently seal the monster and throw the party to celebrate being rid of it, but when she asked Principal Bump he dodged the question.

A few posters had been up since the start of the school year, but about week before the event the number greatly multiplied. Some decorations were also put up in order to start preparing, and gossip of who would be chosen as Grom queen began floating around. A lot of the whispers claimed it would be Amity, but Emira didn’t buy into that. Usually an upperclassman was chosen, since they had to fight the creature. It would be decided a few days before the event, so she could only wait and see.

It was a nice coincidence that the day before Grom was the final day of Emira and Ed’s punishment. They would be able to attend Grom as free witches.

Unfortunately, there was still a week until that day. This meant Emira was again, or as usual, trapped inside the Blight house.

She was sitting at the table in the kitchen, debating if she wanted a snack while doing homework. That’s right, homework. There was literally nothing else to do. The assignment was to write about the foundation of duplication spells, including information about the witch inventor behind the spell and the theories she created. It was, in two words, mind numbing.

When Mittens arrived home and came into the kitchen in a hurry, that was a great excuse for Emira to abandon the tedious task.

“How was school?” Emira put down her pencil as she asked.

Mittens dropped her bag on the table, a sharp frown already present on her face. “It was fine.” She said in a tone that did not match her words, moving to scrounge the cabinets for a snack.

“You sure about that?” Emira prodded for more information, not believing her at all.

“Yes.” Was the only response she got.

“Alright.” Emira shifted in her chair so she could see Mittens easier. Her sister was behaving quite oddly today. The other girl had taken a fairly large box of cookies out of the cabinet. “Don’t eat too much, Mom will get mad at you.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.” Mittens snapped at her, putting the box on the counter roughly.

Emira was honestly taken aback. She thought her relationship with Mittens had improved, at least slightly. Her sister had been in a decent mood for the last few days too, which seemed to have all but vanished now. “Wow, already getting into those teenage rebellion years? You’ve grown so fast.” She teased to try and lighten the mood.

Mittens didn’t reply, instead she started taking cookies out of the box and putting them on a napkin.

“Seriously though, what’s up?” Emira refocused on the topic, her eyes locked on the back of Mittens’ head.

Mittens stopped at 5 cookies in total, putting the box back in the cabinet. “I don’t want to talk about it.” She muttered, not turning to look at Emira.

“Just sit with me then.” Emira pat the chair next to her and pulled it out slightly in invitation. “You can eat your cookies while I work on my assignment.”

“You’re actually doing homework?” This piqued Mittens’ interest, drawing her eyes and a slightly softer frown back to Emira.

“Not by choice.” Emira put on an exaggerated grimace and shook her head. “If you join me, I won’t tell Mom about the cookies.” That would get her for sure.

“Fine you win.” Mittens rolled her eyes and then picked up her cookies to bring them over to the table. “Just for a few minutes.” She sat down in the chair, sighing as she settled.

Emira cracked a smile, watching as Mittens picked up the first treat to take a bite. While she was chewing, that was Emira’s chance to strike. She had thought about getting a snack and now was her chance.

She didn’t even need illusion magic; her hands were fast enough to steal the next cookie from the pile. It only took a moment.

“Hey!” Mittens swatted the offending arm ineffectually. It wasn’t enough to stop Emira from claiming her prize. “Get your own!” She protested, pulling the remaining cookies farther away from Emira’s reach.

“This one is so good though.” Emira took a big bite out of the cookie for emphasis. It was chocolate chip, a great flavor. “Delicious.”

Mittens wasn’t quite smiling, but she wasn’t frowning so deeply anymore either. “Whatever, just do your homework.”

“Aye aye.” Emira said before taking another bite out of her stolen reward. She turned back to her homework, which astonishingly had not completed itself while she talked to Mittens. One more bite and the cookie was gone, so she picked up her pencil to resume the assignment.

Emira started writing the next line on her work, keeping an eye on Mittens in her peripheral vision. Her sister was staring straight ahead, that troubled frown back in full force. She had finished the first cookie, but wasn’t eating the next one.

She looked worried, like the weight of the world was on her shoulders.

A few minutes later, after Emira had written a few more painful sentences, Mittens broke the silence.

“I um,” She started to speak, then stopped and cleared her throat. She was still looking straight ahead. “Are you going to Grom with anyone?” Ah, Emira thought, that’s what this whole bad mood was about. Mittens was finally old enough to attend Grom this year.

“I might.” Emira admitted, dropping her pencil to focus on the conversation. “Not sure yet though.” There was still a week to figure it out.

Mittens’ expression didn’t change. “I see.” She said quietly. “Are you planning to ask someone?” With these words she turned her body slightly towards Emira, eyes coming up to meet hers.

That was quite a personal question. Emira did have someone in mind to ask, another witch in the illusion track, but she wasn’t that close to them so she was still debating it. She also thought about asking that detention track girl, Viney, to go with her. Unfortunately, she was 1000 percent off limits due to her time in the detention track and habit of mixing magic. Emira had never spoken to her and still liked to admire her from afar, but the other witch she was considering was a far safer option.

“I’ve thought about it.” Was what Emira settled on saying, “But I haven’t made any plans yet.” She could feel her cheeks were warmer than usual at this line of conversation.

Now Mittens looked more thoughtful, her brow scrunched up in that little thinking face she often made. “How would you plan to do it, if you were?”

Interesting question. It almost sounded like Mittens wanted to ask someone to Grom. That was the only conclusion Emira could come to. Was it Luz? It had to be Luz.

“Hmm, let me think about it.” Emira tried to keep her voice level, she didn’t want to spook Mittens. It took a lot of effort to get her to even sit and talk, she would probably leave if Emira seemed too excited or crazy. “I would probably just take the plunge and ask if they wanted to go with me.” Despite being a trickster, Emira could also be straight forward sometimes. If she ever got around to inviting the person she wanted to go with, that would be how she did it.

“That takes a lot of courage.” Mittens mused, fidgeting with the edges of the napkin her cookies were on. That was probably too forward for her, Emira thought. Mittens was brave in danger, but could actually be quite withdrawn socially. Especially if she had a crush on Luz, Emira was still pretty sure it was Luz.

“Well, a note is another option.” Was her next idea. “I could leave it in their locker or hand it to them.” She had to say it as if it was from her perspective still to keep up the image that this was about her, even though she was just giving advice to Mittens.

Mittens perked up at that one. “A note, huh.” There was a spark in her eyes. “That’s a good idea.”

“Why thank you.” Emira replied with a smile. “It wouldn’t have to be long, just the invitation is enough I think.”

“Yeah,” Mittens nodded, probably running the idea through her mind. “That could work.” She muttered, before clearing her throat. “What would you do if they say no?”

That was another hard hitting question, one Emira wasn’t sure how to respond to. Mittens had distinctly ventured from just asking about Emira’s plans to worrying about her own potential Gromposal. Interesting that she wanted to know how to react if it went poorly, rather than if it went well.

“I’m not sure.” Emira was confident that Luz, or whoever Mittens planned to ask, would say yes, but she still wanted to answer the question properly. “Cry and move on I suppose. Keep looking until I find someone who returns my feelings.” That was the goal wasn’t it, to find someone who liked her in return.

“Okay.” Mittens looked somber as she turned her gaze back towards her snack. “Thanks, Em.”

“Anytime.” Emira couldn’t keep from grinning as she replied.

A few seconds passed and Emira waited as her sister thought things through. It was silent, with nothing but their thoughts between the two. Mittens gave one last sigh before seeming to gather her composure.

“I guess I should leave you to your homework.” Mittens face snapped back up to Emira’s, the previous stress in her expression replaced with a small playful smirk. “You’re never going to get it done while I’m here.”

“You’re probably right.” Emira admitted with a frown. She didn’t want to get it done in the first place.

Mittens nodded in agreement. “I’ll leave you to it then.” She rose from the chair, slinging her bag back over her shoulder. She took one cookie off the top of the stack, then pushed the last two towards Emira. “You should have them.” She said, not looking back before vacating the kitchen.

Emira pulled the cookies closer to her, picking up the top one as she mentally wished Mittens and herself luck in asking someone to Grom. She was certain that her sister would not be rejected. A moment later Emira resumed work on the awful homework assignment.

She had just bitten into the cookie when heeled footsteps sounded behind her. Her mother’s voice came next.

“You shouldn’t be eating this close to dinner.”

Sometimes, Emira thought, she needed to take her own advice.

Chapter Text

The previous week felt like it crawled by. Between asking one of her classmates to Grom, hearing about Mittens becoming the Grom queen, Luz deciding to take her place, and coping with still being grounded, Emira could not stand the long wait for the event to come. She had even picked out the perfect dress, one that brought out the color of her eyes.

This day, the last one before Grom and freedom, felt like the slowest of them all. School had gone by at a snail’s pace, with the afternoon being more of the same.

Emira found herself wandering the house, as she often did, looking for something to do. Ed was spending his last day of confinement in his room, admiring his Grom attire in the mirror and trying to get his hair just right. He had chosen the same color as her, which she couldn’t blame him for since they both looked great in it. Emira felt like she had already done enough of that and really needed something else to occupy her time.

One thing Emira tried was looking at the books in one of the side rooms, trying to find one that would hold her interest for more than five seconds. None were up to the task, so she quickly left to walk the halls once again.

As she passed by one of the back windows, she stopped to look out at the back yard. The trees and grass were the same as they always were, and a few sparse clouds could be seen in the sky. Freedom was so close, only one day away.

In the shade of the closest tree, where Emira had trained with Mittens just a couple weeks before, she could see a bright splash of bright green near the ground. It looked like Mittens was sitting by herself near the tree, all the way out in the field.

Why was she out there, Emira wondered, immediately curious about her sister.

Emira glanced to her left, then her right. Nobody else was in the hallway with her. She quickly snapped open the latch that kept the window shut, pulling it open as far as she could. It was a small opening, but she’d been out this window before so she was sure to fit. The first floor windows had runes on them to keep the twins from going out them, but Emira had learned a spell specifically to counteract them.

Indeed, after a spin of her finger Emira was able to squeeze her body through the small space. She even landed on her feet when she reached the outside, though it was more of a crouch than a proper landing.

Emira reached back inside to close the window, leaving it at a crack so she could enter through it later. Better through the window than the door. She then walked out towards the tree, getting a better view of Mittens.

Mittens hadn’t moved in the time that Emira made her escape. She was leaning against the tree, both legs straight in front of her. Her head was tilted back, placed against the bark, as she stared out across the field with unfocused eyes.

Something was clearly bothering her; Emira wondered what it could be. Was her Gromposal rejected? Or perhaps it had to do with the Grom battle she almost had to fight. It also could be something completely unrelated to Grom, maybe with her friends? Emira really needed to start work on inventing a mind reading spell.

“Mind if I join you?” Emira asked as she reached the shade of the tree.

Mittens didn’t even turn her head as she responded flatly. “Go ahead.”

Not exactly a warm welcome, but Emira wouldn’t turn it down. She sat on the ground in front of Mittens, scrutinizing her sister even more closely than before. Her expression looked empty, like she had cleared her head of all thoughts. Knowing Mittens, it was probably the opposite.

“What are you thinking about?” Emira crossed her legs as she asked, getting comfortable on the grass.

This question drew Mittens’ eyes to her as she lifted her head off the tree, focusing her attention slightly. “Grom.” She gave a vague one word response.

Emira wanted to ask if Mittens had given her Gromposal to her crush yet, but Mittens had never admitted to wanting to ask someone. This meant that the question would certainly be unwelcome.

“What about Grom?” Emira settled on that, trying to get more details.

“Just,” Mittens sighed, returning the back of her head to the bark, “everything.”

That wasn’t terribly helpful. “Did you ask someone to Grom?” If she wasn’t going to go in depth, Emira might as well get at the heart of it.

Mittens’ cheeks flushed pink at the question, finally bringing a different expression to her face as she leaned forward. “N-no, of course not.” That stutter said a different tale.

“Did someone ask you?” It was possible, Emira thought, a classmate could’ve approached her.

Somehow Mittens’ blush was darker than before. “No!” She shook her head vehemently. “That’s not it at all.” She waved both hands in front of her body in a dismissive motion.

Hmm, so she hadn’t asked anyone or been asked in return. Emira was pretty sure Mittens wanted to ask Luz to Grom, but it sounded like she hadn’t done it. If she had done it, maybe she was lying about it? Emira didn’t think that was very likely.

“I just,” Mittens lifted her knees to rest her arms on, drawing Emira’s attention out of her thoughts. The words came slowly, as if she was considering each one. “You’ll keep this a secret, won’t you?” Emira wondered, not for the first time, if Mittens could see through to her soul with those wide golden eyes.

“Of course.” Emira agreed without hesitation. She wasn’t the best at keeping secrets, especially from Ed, but she could do it if she had to.

This seemed to be enough for Mittens, and her expression softened as she continued. “I’m worried about the Grom fight.” So, it was the fight, after all.

“I heard Luz is fighting it?” That was what the other students were saying.

Mittens nodded. “Yes, she offered to take my place.” Emira knew Luz was a good human, and that knowledge was solidified by learning this detail. “She’s not ready though, she has no idea what Grom is like.”

“She’s brave, I’m sure she can fight it off.” Emira remembered the glyphs Luz used to fight up at The Knee. She was capable of defending herself. Besides, Grom could transform into a witches worst fear but it wasn’t very physically strong.

Mittens still looked concerned, her brow furrowed. “I hope so.” She looked down at her arms. “What if she can’t though? It was supposed to be my job, my responsibility. She only offered because I can’t face my fears. I don’t know what I’d do if…” Mittens trailed off, her voice fading into silence.

Emira wanted to go hug Mittens, she looked like she needed one, but she wasn’t sure how it would be received. “It’ll be okay.” She said, hoping that she sounded convincing. “Has she been training for the battle?”

“No, but I’m going to the Owl House tomorrow to help her.” Mittens said with a grimace. There was barely any time left to get Luz ready.

In response to that, Emira had an idea.

“How about Ed and I come and help?” She offered with a grin.

Mittens looked thoughtful. “You don’t have plans tomorrow?” She asked, forehead furrowing slightly.

What plans? Other than Grom and enjoying the taste of freedom, Emira didn’t have any plans. “Nope, why?”

“Your grounding ends tomorrow doesn’t it?” Mittens looked at her fingers, moving them as if counting something. “Yeah I have the right day.” She settled on it with a nod. “I thought you’d have plans, once you’re free. I didn’t think you’d want to spend that time with me.” Mittens said it bluntly, so matter of fact, like someone who expected rejection. It stung, this reminder of where they once were. At one point it would’ve been true, the old Emira probably would’ve agreed with Mittens, but not anymore.

“Even if I did have plans, helping you is more important.” Emira said clearly, with a smile. “I want to go.”

This brought a hint of a smile to Mittens’ face, the first since Emira had sat down with her. “Thank you.” She said, thanking Emira for the second time that week. “Your illusion magic will be great for helping Luz train.”

“She can literally practice fighting her fears.” This should work to help Luz get ready. It wouldn’t alleviate Mittens’ concern, especially about the physical danger, but it would help. “Ed’ll come too, I’ll make sure of it.”

“I appreciate it a lot.” Mittens said, with the flush returning to her cheeks a moment later. “I mean, I’m sure Luz will.”

“We’ll get her ready for sure.” Emira nodded firmly, already wondering what kinds of things Luz was afraid of. This could be fun.

The next day, all three Blight siblings would head to the Owl House to find out.

Chapter Text

Now that she was free from being grounded, Emira’s life mostly went back to how it had been before. She spent time playing pranks with Ed, trained and practiced new spells, avoided doing her homework, and occasionally spent time with her younger sister. Both her and Ed’s Grom dates had been a huge disappointment in the end, but she was able to put it behind her.

That afternoon, she was going to the mall with Ed to see what kind of fun they could have there. They had already wandered the market for a while, but there wasn’t anything interesting going on. The mall should be more exciting. The twins decided to stop at the house first to drop their school bags off and change clothes, which would greatly improve their mall experience.

Upon arriving at the Blight house, both went upstairs to do just that. Ed went to his room while Emira was on her way to hers. She had almost reached the door when a familiar voice called out to her.

“Em, do you have a minute?” The door to Mitten’s room, which was down the hallway from Emira’s, was cracked open. When Emira turned to look, she could only see a sliver of Mittens’ face through the small gap.

“Yeah, I do.” Quickly abandoning what she had come upstairs to do, Emira walked towards Mittens’ room. By the time she reached it Mittens had moved away from the door, so Emira pushed it open and entered.

She was shocked to see a cast on Mittens’ right foot. Her sister was leaning on a crutch, holding her injured foot off the ground. “What happened?” Was all Emira could say, her eyes locked on the injury.

“Can you close the door?” Mittens asked, ignoring the question. She hobbled over to her bed, leaning the crutch against it and sitting down.

Emira complied, shutting the door to the room. She stood there waiting, wondering if she should ask the question again. She decided to wait, as Mittens seemed to be gathering her thoughts to speak.

“Things were crazy at school today, I’m not sure… can I talk to you about it?” Mittens’ eyes were locked on hers, head tilted up slightly to maintain eye contact. She asked the question in a steady tone, but wide eyes and a tense form betrayed her nerves.

“Absolutely.” Emira nodded, and then moved over to sit next to Mittens on the bed. Some of the tension left Mittens’ shoulders, perhaps in relief. It was tempting to ask questions, but Mittens had probably called her in here to talk about something specific. Emira could wait a bit to hear about her injury.

“There’s been so much going on.” Mittens turned her face forward, not looking at Emira as she spoke. “I can’t even think straight around Luz these days, let alone talk to Willow. And the match today too, and my ankle. Where do I even start?” Mittens seemed to be talking to herself more than Emira, but Emira was happy to respond to the question.

“How about with your foot.” The injury was pretty concerning. Medic witches could heal most minor wounds in a few minutes, so for this to need a cast it had to have been pretty bad.

Mittens’ cheeks flushed slightly, and she rubbed the back of her head with one hand. “Oh right, the cast, good idea. That’s from the grudgby match after school.” That was news to Emira; she thought Mittens hadn’t played grudgby since she quit the team. “It was to help Willow. Boscha has been picking on her, so Luz, amazing Luz, challenged her to a grudgby match. I broke my ankle and we lost, but I think it’s going to be okay.”

There were so many details in this that sent Emira’s mind spinning. Who was Willow? She called Luz amazing? She played against Boscha? Her ankle being broken was okay? They lost the match?

“Is Willow one of your friends?” Emira chose the easiest of the clarifying questions.

“I hope so.” Mittens sighed, tilting her head forward. “I’ve been trying to reconnect with her. Do you remember a few weeks ago, when you asked about my old friends?”

Emira remembered it distinctly, how Mittens had stormed out of the room when pressed. “Yeah, I do.”

“I owe you an apology, it wasn’t fair of me to snap at you.” Mittens brought her hands together in her lap, weaving her fingers together. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Emira offered a smile. “We all snap sometimes.” She remembered once trying to steal and publish Mittens diary as revenge for being tattled on, and all the effort she put in to make up for it and improve their relationship.

“It was just, what you said hit close to home. I used to be friends with Willow, when we were kids.” Mittens paused to take a deep breath, gathering her composure. “She couldn’t do magic then. Our parents forbid me from seeing her.” That sounded like something they would do, Emira thought bitterly. She too had been criticized for her choice of companions multiple times in her life. “I messed things up, badly. I’ve been trying to reconnect with her, but I don’t know if she’ll ever want to be my friend again.” Mittens’ voice wavered as she finished speaking.

This time, Emira went in for the hug. She reached one arm around Mittens’ trembling shoulders, pulling her into a sideways hug. “When she sees how hard you’re working, I’m sure she will.” Mittens seemed to accept the gesture, leaning in on Emira.

“I hope you’re right.” She muttered. “Thanks Em.”

“Anytime.”

The two sat in silence for a moment, just connected by one arm around the other.

Mittens then broke off from the hug, leaning away to look up at Emira. “There’s more, unless you have to go soon?” She asked, that insecurity from before showing again.

“Tell me.” If Mittens wanted to talk, Emira wanted to listen.

Mittens nodded, and then continued. “Part of the reason I was injured today is because,” Mitten’s face was slowly gaining a dark flush now. “I have a crush.” Emira knew Mittens had a crush on Luz, she had known for a while. It was still nice to hear Mittens say it. “I can’t say who it is, but I just, I can’t seem to focus around her. During grudgby today I was too concerned with protecting her, which is how I got hurt. She draws me in, both during the match and outside of it. I can’t stay away.” Her crush on Luz had definitely leveled up significantly since Grom.

“Sounds like you really like her.” Emira commented with a grin.

“I do.” Amity turned to meet Emira’s gaze, face still mostly pink. “How can I act more normal around her?” Oh, so she was looking for advice.

This was not a question Emira could answer. She didn’t have much experience with crushes, and her last semi relationship ended with getting stood up for Grom. “I’m not sure.” She admitted. “Perhaps by telling yourself that they’re not just a crush, they’re also your friend, and you’re theirs.” This could help with the crush on Luz specifically, since they were friends first.

Mittens’ brow furrowed as she thought about it. “Yeah maybe.” She mused, turning back to look at her hands again.

They were suddenly interrupted by Ed’s voice echoing in the hallway. “Em!” He was calling for her in an irritated tone. “Where’d you go? This isn’t funny.” He called as he walked past Mittens’ door. That was right, she was supposed to change her clothes and go to the mall with him.

“Oops, forgot about Ed.” Emira frowned and crossed her arms, looking towards the door.

“You should go, before he burns the house down trying to find you.” Mittens gestured with one hand in a shooing motion.

“You sure?” Emira asked, not wanting to cut the conversation short if Mittens had more to say.

“Yeah.” Her sister nodded, “We’ll talk more later, okay?” Mittens asked it as a question, but for Emira there was only one correct response.

Emira couldn’t help but smile. “For sure.” She stood and walked towards the door. “Make sure to stay off that foot and keep it elevated.”

“Will do.” Mittens nodded and chuckled, “have fun with Ed.”

“Always do.” Emira gave one last wave before opening the door. “See you later.”

“See you.” Mittens waved as well, a small smile present on her lips.

Emira closed the door behind her as she left, calling an apology to Ed as she went to her original intended destination.

The twins soon left the house to go torment mall shoppers, but Emira looked forward to continuing her conversation with Mittens later. It finally felt like Mittens was talking to her, instead of just answering her questions. Like Mittens wanted to share, wanted Emira to hear and understand her.

It was amazing how much things could change in just a month.