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When The Stars Begin to Align

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Lucia Noceda had been only thirteen months when her Papi made a shattering return into her life, and two when he won custody of her. Only allowed two weekends a month to be spent in the care of her Mami, she grew under her father, and the generational religious roots that was passed from parent to child. It wasn’t until she was seven to learn how deep it ran in their family. It had been a talk, spurred on by her Nona, that made her tiny world change.

Her Papi, Abel-William Jones, had to work twelve hour shifts three times a week. With his mother, her Nona, too old to care for her and other family members far away, he hired a babysitter. The babysitter, an older Dominican woman, had been the one to show her Mami’s culture. Many nights, after schoolwork was done, they spent cooking dishes in the tiny kitchen and singing to silly songs as Luz learned Spanish. Under Abuela Damita, she grew and learned until it changed. One day Abuela Damita was there, and the next there was a crooked nose lady that Luz hated. She smelled funny and didn’t want to do anything fun.

All the lady did was lay on her phone and yell at her to be quiet. Many times, and often, she found herself curling up in her bed, trying to balance an oversized laptop on her tiny lap. With no supervision and access to the streaming websites that her Papi had memberships with, she began to pour through each new cartoon that got her attention. Over the months, from five and a half to seven and a half, she devoured new schools, and rewatched her favorites: Pokemon, Digimon, and many more. But currently her new favored show was, She-Ra: The Princess of Power.

That had been what she was watching when her babysitter was relieved by her tired Papi, and she was curled up on the couch, laptop balanced on her lap. Her Papi only popped his head in to let her know that Nona would be bringing supper over and to keep it down as he was talking to Papa. Pausing the video long enough to promise to be good and hear the kitchen be filled with the loud voice of her father, Luz turned back to the computer screen. It was the last episode, Heart: Part 2, where Catra was pleading for Adora to stay with her.

Desperation was ringing in Catra’s voice as she reached out, trying to grasp onto her hand. She could always reach her. If she got closer, Adora would be safe. “I love you!” Tears sprang into her eyes, almost blinding the magi-cat. “I always have. So please, just this once. Stay!”

Hope flaring into her chest, she almost cried in relief when her fingered claws scraped against Adora’s bloodied hand. Grasping onto her wrist tightly, the magi-cat stumbled back. “Stay,” she repeated as she cradled her lover’s body onto her lap. “Please stay with me.”

Adora, letting out a soft cough, leaned forward, blinking her eyes as if she was a newborn kitten. Gaze blurry, she stared at Catra. “You..love me?” She whispered in shock, eyes widening.

“You are such an idiot.” Catra broke out in a purr as she shook her head before glancing down, eyes softening.

Adora raised one shaky hand before a fond smile came across her face. “I love you too,” she hummed back.

Catra blinking her eyes leaded forward and brought her lips against Adora’s, getting lost into a blissful silence that came from around them.

Eyes widening and smiling, Luz bounced in her seat. She knew from the videos that her older classmates had showed her, they were going to end up together but it was another thing to experience it in person. And it made her giddy to see someone like her. Someone that liked to hold hands and danced with girls. It was rarely seen. She-Ra was one of two shows that she watched that had two girls kissing.

Hitting pause on the video and staring with wide eyes, the child could almost picture herself with someone like Catra. Someone that was rough but also gentle, and loving spending time with her. They would like Good Witch Azura and talking endlessly about magic and cartoons.

If only a person like that could exist, she thought wistfully. As she went to unpause the show, there was a sudden loud yell from behind, nearly causing her to drop the laptop.

“Lucia Noceda!” her Nona stood in the entrance of the living room, carrying two bags with her. From the smell, the child easily concluded it was their supper. “Abel, come and see what filth your daughter is watching!”

Her Papi, coming quick to his mother’s screams, yanked her off the couch, gripping onto the hoodie of her cat sweater her Mami got her. Letting the laptop fall onto the couch, the father’s heated gaze barely faltered as his seven and a half year old daughter let out a rough choking sound. Coming to a stumbling halt beside his legs, she rubbed her throat before giving him a confused look. “What in God’s name were you watching, young lady?”

‘It’s She-Ra,” she mumbled, flinching at his anger.

“I don’t care of the name! It’s far too inappropriate for you to be watching!” He glared at the tv screen. “You are too young for something like this.”

Withdrawing at the anger in her father’s voice, Luz shifted, rubbing her hands on the material of her jeans, cheeks burning. In the background, she could see her Nona hovering in the background, both disapproving and protective. “It’s my favorite show,” she protested, avoiding both Papi’s and Nona’s heated gazes. “It’s no big deal. Adora and Catra just kissed. There’s nothing wrong with it. Abuela Damita says it means the couple is happy.”

“Abel-Williams-“ Nona moved to place a hand on her son’s shoulder. He was many ways different than his father, but both men shared the same temper, short and quick to blow. “Lucia, your father doesn’t care if you watch romantic scenes like this,” she explained, keeping her voice at a calm level. “But your father and I don’t want you seeing things like this. You’re just a baby, and much too young wot watch. This could give you a bad idea, Princess.”

“Why?” The seven-year-old looked between her Nona and Papi. What was wrong with holding hands with girls? Or wanting to kiss and dance with them? “How is it wrong? Adora and Catra were kissing and being happy. Watching the show makes me happy.”

“Oh Dear God.” Papi groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose as Nona guided her granddaughter over to the couch.

Settling down, Nona gently pressed her chin up, forcing the child to meet her gaze. “Lucia, I believe that you, I, and your father should talk.”

Hearing this, Luz’s eyes widened, cringing. “No, Nona!” she pleaded, covering her ears. “You don’t have to do that! Mami already gave me, “See The Love Tonight” talk with me. I don’t want to hear another.”

“Not that one,” the construction worker soothed, talking his daughter’s hands off of her ears. “It’s about what is appropriate and what is not.”

“Papi?” Luz’s face scrunched up, fighting back tears. “What do you mean? Is there something wrong with two girls kissing or wanting to dance with them?”

“Very.” Abel-William paused as Luz moved her gaze to the ground. Forcing his daughter to look at him, the single father gently holding her chin up. “It is not right. Women nor men should be dating the same gender as them, Luz.”

 “Not only is it unnatural but is also sinful,” Nona muttered.

“Sinful?” The seven-year-old could remember going to church and learning of sin during bible school. But she couldn’t wrap her head around how loving someone was wrong. How she was wrong? It felt no different when she had a crush on a boy or when she had it on a girl. “Why is it wrong for someone to love another person? I thought God told us to love our neighbors, and that means any person we come across, Papi. Wouldn’t that mean people who like the same gender?”

“It is very wrong, Lucia,” her father snapped with a strained expression, choosing to ignore her question. “While you are still young, you should know how wrong it is, young lady.”

“B-b-but-“ Luz trailed off, flinching at the glare of her Papi. “Miss Harmony says that as long as the relationship is healthy and treats you right, it’s right to love any person you want,” the eleven-year-old began weakly. “How is that wrong?”

 

"Remember those kind of people, Princess," Nona explained, hauling her to stand in front of the computer screen and stare at the screen. “Those people, dating the same gender,” she hissed, eyes dark. "Those people are being sinful and will live in the fiery pits of hell when the resurrection comes. Don't ever associate yourself with them, or God forbid, be one. I will not let you fall to their sinful behavior."

Luz frowned. "But that's wrong. Shouldn't they have a choice?"

Abel-William looked moments away from yelling instead carried his daughter over to the couch. Setting her down, he moved away, letting out a deep breath. Luz, pulling her knees close, knew her Papi was mad. She opened her mouth to respond but her father interrupted. His words, sharp and prickly, silenced her. 

"You are young, and don't know better." Abel-William sounded relieved. "You will learn soon enough."

Sliding down, she moved her gaze to the table, tears gathering in her eyes. The seven-year-old didn't feel like watching cartoons or being in the same room as her Papi anymore. 

Tearing up and nodding softly, Luz silently followed after her Papi, glancing back at the screen before ducking out of the living room. 

***

Shivering against the cold, early hiems wind, Luz held the scrap of parchment, eyes scrunching up at the two diverging paths. When she received a note from Amity, there hadn’t been a thought for her to go this deep into the forest, or how her limited Pythonissam would make it difficult to go into the back paths. While the green haired Witchling had given her a detailed list of directions, the unfamiliar words painted on the signs confused her. The human girl glanced between the two street signs. Trying to remember wh4t Mama and Auntie taught her of sounding out the words, and quickly realizing they were of the Savage Aged runes, she caved.

“Amity,” she called, trying to get a better view with short stature. The paths were built for Witchlings of ten, almost eleven summers, not a human child. Stomach heaving with nerves, she grimaced. “Atty! Atty, can you hear me?”

“Right her,e Luz.” Amity, now thirteen summers, stood to the right of her, down the muddy embankment. With almost a full year passing since her arrival o the isles, Amity had grown taller and thinned out. Her hair had grown past her shoulders to her mid-back, and was held up in her favored Azura pony. She wore a cloak of a elder witchling that had a thinner lining, and a heavier black button fastening it in place, ready for the looming gray clouds that would bring snow and freezing temperatures. “Sorry, I forget that you don’t know Savage Runes.”

Luz, coming to stand at the edge of the embankment, now came to Amity’s shoulders and had filled out under the care of her Mama. No longer was she thin and scrawny eleven-year-old. Instead, her cheeks had been replenished with baby fat and her hair had grown to her shoulders, becoming wild and untamed.

With her growing and regaining baby fat, her favored blue and white cat hoodie had been replaced by a brown and beige owl hoodie as a belated birthday present. Her Mama had promised to get her another once she finished her growth spurt. But, for now, she wore the Russian blue cloak her Mama made for her seven months before.

Tugging it tighter and reaching down to grasp onto Amity’s hand, she stepped off the main path and into the mud. Nearly sliding down, the two girls made their way down the steep embankment to Screeching Willow Lake.

Screeching Willow Lake was known commonly as a popular destination for students during the warmer months, and the place that Amity had retaught her how to swim. The ocean surrounding the Isles was more denser than ones in her realm, making her sink unless wearing floaties while Gus, Amity, Willow, and others had no trouble with their lighter bones. Now, with it being early to Heims, it was deserted except for them. Settling down on the bench beside her friend, Luz glanced at the lake. While, it was chilly, the sun still shined, casting its faded light over the lake and trees along the bank. Around the clearing, a few floating lanterns were scattered, their glows brighten as night began to set in.

“Why did we come all the way here? Screeching Willow Lake is at the edge of Mama’s trusted area.” The eleven-year-old glanced at her friend. “We could have walked the trails by the Owl House. Mama barely let me go. At least, Auntie wasn’t there.”

“I wanted to talk to you.” Amity gripepd onto Luz’s hand until they arrived at a beach. Settling down on a log, she waited for Luz before continuing. “I know we haven’t know each other for long but I wanted to tell you that you’re my North Star, and I like you, Luz. I like you a lot.”

Seated next to her friend and leeching body heat from her, the eleven-year-old smiled brightly, cheeks rosy. “I don’t know what North Star means but I like you too, Atty,” she chirped, blinking her hazel-brown eyes.

Amity’s face brightened, golden eyes widening. “Really?” she said in a scarce whisper. “You mean it, Mea?”

“Of course,” the preteen went on. “You are my closest friend, Atty. Why wouldn’t I like you?”

Hearing this, the thirteen-year-old flinched, golden eyes squeezing shut. “I didn’t mean it like that, Mea,” she explained. “I don’t see you as a friend. I love you, Luz. I have loved you ever since that night back in the library. I love you and can’t keep it hidden any longer.”

Eyes widening and shock taking hold, she remained silent. The only thought that came to her mind was something her Papi had said.

“Rememer those kind of people, Princess,” he had said one day. “Those people, dating the same gender, are being sinful and will live in the fiery pits of hell when the resurrection comes. Don’t ever associate yourself with them, or God forbid, be one. I will not let you fall to their sinful behavior.”

“I have to go!” Stomach dropping, Luz sprang to her feet, nearly tripping in the process, turning away. “I’m sorry, Atty, but I have to go.”

Startled, it took a moment for Amity to react. It was a few moments to late. Luz had already left the clearing, leaving her behind.

***

Back at the Owl House, with it being quiet and empty, Edalyn Clawthorne had settled down to do some reading from one of the rare parenting books she had. With Luz living on her more permeant basis, there was more structure and rules that were needed. So, she had been planning to read more on the preteen and teenager section when the front door opened. Expecting an intruder or a rogue coven guard, Eda leaped to her feet, letting the book fall to the ground and grabbed a few glyphs hidden in the drawer beside her. But once she saw her apprentice-her daughter-with puffy, red eyes, the Owl Lady froze.

“Merciful Titan Tits, Kid.” She placed a hand over her heart for a second and winced. That was another thing that the former wild witch had to learn to control. Swearing Demon realm swears in front of a eleven-year-old couldn’t continue. Dropping the glyphs back into the drawer, she shut it. “Where is the herd of Wollypigs that caused you to make that much noise?”

“Eda…Mama…” came her sniffling reply, Luz shaking. “A-a-am I a bad and sinful person? A-a-am I going to hell when I die?” She trembled, her lips quivering. “Is there something wrong with me?”

The forty-four summer witch stood, frozen. Her duo golden and gray gaze rested on her daughter. Luz stood in the entrance way, sobbing, eyes glassy and lips quivering. She looked moments away from having a full meltdown.

"W-what?" the owl lady asked, hoping she hadn't heard anything right. 

"I-is there something wrong with me?" the preteen repeated in a quieter voice. "Am I a bad person?"

Many times, in the past she had thought she was ready for whatever parenthood would throw at her. Helping her daughter face against Grom to giving her the awkward Lunar Talk was both expected and piece of cake. But having her burst into the house and ask if she was a bad person wasn't.

"Do you feel sick?" she began automatically, falling into her maternal role and reciting the familiar list. "Did you eat something new when visiting with Amity? Does your stomach hurt or are you feeling like you are going to throw up?"

Moving slowly over to her, she placed a hand on her forehead. Shoulders slumping as she realized she didn't feel sick or have any signs to indicate she digested any new, unfamiliar foods. "What's wrong, Babes?"

"N-no-" Luz grew silent and tears filled her gaze. 

Coming to an understanding, she realized it wasn't physical rather something from her past that was rearing its ugly head. Stepping back, she gave her room, letting Luz make her first move.

"Now do-" She began but stopping as she filled with worry once more. It wasn't hard to notice how distraught the eleven-year-old once. Her eyes, while puffy and red, held a deep confusion and confliction that it was paralyzing. Something that someone her age should be having or experiencing. her wild main of hair, once in a pony tail, had come down and hung around her neck, the hair tie caught in a few stubborn strands.

"Luz, I know that you may have very odd thoughts at times but I know this isn't like you," she began gently. “Where did think that you are going to go to a bad place or living in immorality? You are only eleven and shouldn’t be thinking like that.”

"I-is it wrong to like girls," she asked hesitantly. "Like giving them kisses, wanting to hold hands, and dance with them?"

"No." Eda was getting more confused. Who had led her to believe that? "Who to-"

"Amity says I’m her North Star and I like her saying that," she explained. "I want to hold her hands and dance with her like at Grom. B-but Papi said that Jesus would send the sinners to hell, and liking the same gender is sinful. I don't to go to hell, Mama."

‘Titian, give me strength,’ she thought as she led Luz back to the couch. Settling down, the forty-three summer old gave no complaint as her daughter clambered onto her lap. It had become a common occurrence for the eleven-year-old, someone who should be too old for this treatment, to seek it from her or King randomly. “I don’t know what it is like where you from but in the Demon Realm, it doesn’t matter who you love,” she explained softly, petting her hair. “As long as they treat your right and don’t try to pressure you to do anything, you will hear no protests from King, Hooty, and I.”

“So, if I like a girl, it’s not wrong,” Luz surmised. “If I return the feelings to Amity, it won’t be wrong.”

“No,” Eda said, allowing her to get up.

“I have to go,” Luz said after a moment. “I will be right back, Eda.”

“Don’t stay out past curfew,” she said, watching her daughter pause. "Luz?"

"Can I borrow Owlbert?" She had a feeling that Amity didn't linger around the lake. If anything, the thirteen-year-old had retreated to the sanctuary of her bedroom.

“Back by curfew,” her adoptive mother repeated, holding her staff out to her. “And no later, Luz.”

“I’ll be straight back,” she promised, exiting the house and taking off.

***

Hovering near Amity's window, Luz could see the older girl curled up on her bed. Pausing a moment out of sight, she took a second to stop the pounding of her head. It had been a while since she had been so scared or worried after coming to live with her adoptive family in the Owl House.

Gathering her courage, she gently rapped on the window, almost leaping off the staff as she lifted her head and glared at her. “Amity," she pleaded, knowing the Witching could hear her with her sensitive hearing. “I-I-I need to talk to you"

Amity, leaping off the bed and stalking over to the window, ripped it open. "Why would I want to talk to you after what you did, Human?" She let out a hiss, baring her teeth in threat.

The eleven-year-old fought a wince. She knew it was going to be hard but didn't think it would be like this. "P-please let me explain," she pleaded, hazel-brown eyes giving her a pleading look. "Just a few minutes."

"Why should it?" Amity's eyes grew a dark amber and another snarl ripped from her chest. 

Skidding to a halt and stumbling backwards, her heart thumped painfully in her chest. The first thing Eda had taught her was never approach someone, a witch or demon, when their teeth where bared. The threatener felt cornered and may lashed out if push too hard. "I....I had to have something cleared for me," she stammered, swallowing nervously. "E-E-Eda had to reassure me of something that my P-P-Papi and Nona mislead me about."

"About what," the older witch said, still on edge.

Tears gathered in her eyes as she whispered, voice trembling, "T-t-that it was okay to love someone of the same gender."

Eyes widening and hisses stopping, Amity blanched. Even her grandmother, while cruel and sometimes strict, had never put down someone for liking, dating, or marrying the same gender. It was too common on the Isles for someone to think otherwise. "W-w-why would you father say that?" she whispered after a moment. "It's not wrong to be emotionally involved with another gender, Luz."

She gave a mute shrug. "I don't know," she whispered, approaching her. "But Mama straightened some things up for me, and I..I like you too, Atty.”

Amity smiled, held her hand out in offer. "May I fly you home than, Mea?" she asked, blinking her golden eyes. "I think it would be improper of me to allow my North Star to fly home alone. Especially this late at night. I'll have Ed or Em to follow us so I'll have a ride home."

"Of course," Luz agreed, smiling as Amity disappeared and reappeared with her older sister.  Easily climbing through the window and taking control of Eda's staff, they began the flight back to the Owl House, being followed by Emira in the rear.