After Grometheus got beat up, Grom got a lot less exciting. Same awkward dancing, same lame food and stuff, but a small bit of tension had left everyone on account of how there wasn't a threat of all their worst nightmares coming to life to try and chew their faces off. And with how spectacular that year's victory had been--allegedly, since neither Ed nor Em had actually seen it in person and they hadn't found the will to look up the video--more than a few people had found the courage to go out into the dance floor and make asses of themselves.
Strangely enough, Edric and Emira, self-professed masters of making asses out of themselves, weren't in the mood to dance. Then again, even if they had been, it wouldn't have done much good.
No one to dance with.
They were standing, side-by-side again, against a poorly-illuminated wall in the far back of the gym. The air-conditioning gremlin was hard at work right over them, so Ed decided to contribute to stopping a problem for once and gave Em his jacket.
Small tears barely shone, reflecting the Snaggleback's lights, in the corners of her eyes. His had dried a while ago, though his eyes still stung a bit.
They hadn't said anything for a while. After the realization came, there had been an unspoken agreement that it was better to not comment-
"D'you think it was our fault?" Em asked.
Ed sighed. That's the problem with unspoken agreements. It requires you think the same as someone else. Despite what everyone seemed to assume, Ed had never met someone he disagreed with as often as he did with Em.
"... Who knows?" he finally said, risking a glance out of the corner of his eye. Em was looking down, arms cross and hands grabbing the sides of his jacket. He turned his attention to the moving bodies. "Actually, here's a better question: Who cares? It was their decision. They wanted to make the wrong choice, that's their right."
"... and what if it wasn't the wrong choice?"
Edric didn't answer. Better to not even acknowledge the possibility.
His eyes darted around, looking for anything to distract. There was a camera set up in front of a cloth background in the side opposite to them, and now kids Mittens' age were posing. Three girls were taking their picture, and he could see a boy sneaking up on them, clearly prepared to jump in front when the next picture was about to get taken.
Hah, classic. He'd done the same, in an earlier Grom. Heck, if memory served, that kid had been dancing with one of the girls. Hadn't he done that to his date and his friends too?
... yeah. Because his date wanted to get his picture taken with someone else. And Ed, little Ed, had asked himself if it was that bad to be in his memories of Grom. If he'd done something to make him angry with him. And so he'd decided to make sure he had a reason. Like an idiot.
"... I hope it was," he finally said. "The wrong choice, I mean."
Em didn't react, still staring at her feet.
After a while, she asked again, "And if it wasn't?"
"... I dunno."
Silence, for a little longer. Or as silent as Grom could get. The music changed into a slow tune--clearly designed for dances that irresponsible chaperones would turn blind eyes to--and the dance floor suddenly got a whole lot emptier while the people standing around with their dates suddenly got a lot more nervous. Near to the camera, while Luz posed, Ed saw Amity rubbing her arm and looking at her nervously.
"... I guess..." he started, and Em looked up when she noticed a sudden lack of sadness in his tone. He didn't sound happy, but it was more... curious. "... I guess we can always hope Mittens does alright?"
Em turned, eyes roving the gym until Ed pointed their sister out to her.
A sad little smile formed on Em's lips. It was a bit brittle, but when Luz reached out to grab her and their friends--was that Willow? They'd spent months trying to get their parents to let Mittens hang out with Willow!--and they all took their picture, it turned significantly warmer.
They watched their sister hang out with her friends for a while, pushed away from their sad reflections by physical proof that being a Blight doesn't mean you have to be alone. Of course, this lead back to an old thought:
'If it's not their mistake, and it's not because we're Blights... then it's because we're us. Or because I'm me.'
The joy sapped away from them, bit by bit, and they turned back to their own problem.
Time passed, a little, until Em broke their new silence. "Do you remember our tenth birthday?"
"Mom told us that... that each generation of Blights has to surpass the previous one," Emira turned to look at her twin. "You know?"
"Oh yeah," Ed raised an eyebrow. "How come you're mentioning it now?"
"I was just thinking. We're already better than our parents, right?"
"Well, they're both accomplished politicians and spellcasters," Ed said, lifting one hand, then he lifted another one slightly higher and said, "But we're not controlling lunatics that obsess over their kids lives. So I'd say we're ahead by a hair or so."
Em chuckled. "Right. So... what if Mom's right?"
Ed made a disgusted face.
"I know, but hear me out." Em moved a finger between herself and her twin, "You and me, we're gonna be great Witches. No doubt about it. And if we keep each other in check, we can avoid being like them."
"Makes sense, I guess."
"And then there's the next generation's Blight," Em pointed the same finger at Amity, who was suddenly turning redder and redder as Luz swayed her around the dancefloor, grinning widely. "And we both know she's doing so much better."
"We're better spellcasters."
"But worse people."
Ed nodded, but kept arguing his case, "She's not perfect. We both know that mom and dad got their claws kinda deep in her."
"Yeah, but we know the solution," Em gave a significative look at their sister's partner. "Catch my drift?"
"I think so..." Ed smiled, "We gotta make sure they get married!"
"Exactly!" Emira smiled.
Then they looked at each other and broke down laughing.
"No, no, but seriously," Ed said, once laughter subsided, "I think I get it. Luz is a good kid--a great kid, actually. And she actually seems to like Mittens, so..."
"So we do our part to make the next generation of Blights surpass ours," Em's smile showed more teeth than it needed to. "Mom would be proud."
"Mom would want to kill us if she knew what we're talking about," Ed corrected. Then his own toothy smile appeared, "Which is even better."
They shared a laugh. Unspoken between them was what they'd get out of that. If Luz could make their sister be nicer, if she was so kind and good that Amity Blight spent several hours and sheets of paper planning out a nine-word note, then maybe they'd be able to figure out how to be the kind of people that wouldn't get stood up at a stupid dance party.
"So, we'll be trying to get them to hook up?" Ed asked. "Shouldn't be too hard."
"I dunno. Luz seems like the cute but oblivious type."
"Yeah, but how many romcoms have we watched between us?"
"I dunno, like twenty?"
"Twe- Em, I've got a whole wall in my room dedicated to romcoms!"
"What do you mean 'why'?!"
"It's an awful genre!"
"You're an awful sister."
They argued until the party finished, but that was fine. Ed didn't know anyone he disagreed with as often as he did with Em, but that was fine. It was because they agreed on what mattered that they could afford to disagree so much.
"... hey, Em?"
"I'm sorry I tried to make you tell Luz your worst fear."
"It's okay. I'm sorry I said it was being stuck with you forever."
"It's fine. I get it. I'd want other people too."
"Yeah. But I'm sorry anyways."
"... I get it."
Later, when they went to picked up Amity--she was giving Luz a tight hug and whispering a 'thank you' in her ear, which made Luz blush noticeably to Ed's obvious satisfaction--and she noticed their lack of dates, she apologized for not noticing and asked if they were fine.
"Don't worry about it, Mit-" Ed stopped, thought about it, and tried again. "Don't worry about it, Amity. You were busy."
"O-oh, uh, yeah..." Amity looked surprised, but smiled at him.
"Busy getting a girlfriend," Em chimed in. "We saw you get that slow dance in, nice job!"
"... she was actually the one that asked me to," Amity sighed. "And the one that asked to be my date."
"That's great!" Ed said.
"As my friend."
"... that's still great," he mantained. When Amity raised an eyebrow, he reached down and tussled her hair. "Friends are still good, Mittens. Even if you'd rather they be more."
"... yeah," Amity nodded. "Yeah, you're right. Thanks, Ed."
Em took off Ed's jacket and put it around Mitten's shoulders. "C'mon. We missed the fight, so how about you tell us about it?"
Amity smiled, and they walked back home.