"Once upon a time, there was a big, old forest, near the beautiful city of Naples, surrounded by branches and brooks and streams, decorated by the most remarkable and outstanding plants, that's where a Witch lived, and he went by the name of Abbacchio Leone. "Leone" meant Lion, in Italian, but Abbacchio wasn't necessarily that brave, valorous or as some liked to say, : Lionhearted, or at least he didn't view himself that way. The witch lived alone, felt always sad and spent his days alone in his house, crying and consuming alcoholics. "
Narancia was sitting down on the floor, next to Giorno, who was listening very closely to the fairy tale that the older boy was, indeed, developing right on the spot, now that their plans for the night got destroyed by the thunderstorm outside. Bucciarati ordered the gang to remain inside, as eventually the rain would have to stop. They were going to eat out that night, but the initial light rain was increasingly tempestuous and cold.
At first all of them were going to watch a film together. And if Abbacchio was particularly grumpy, and said that he wasn't in the mood for "whatever film you kids are going to watch", everyone would spend some time doing daily activities together to pass the time, until dinner.
But then a black out took place in the neighborhood, and in a matter of minutes all the lights and electronics in the house were useless. They couldn't do much more than just wait until the electricity came back, so while Bruno made dinner, Narancia entertained and amused the rest of the gang with the best fairy tales he could think of.
Unfortunately, Abbacchio wasn't either that old, nor deaf, so coming closer to Narancia he first placed a hand on the boy's hair and ruffled it playfully, and then gestured, with a grin, toward Mista to give him space on the sofa.
<<shut up brat, I would suggest you change that part, I would absolutely love to have some time by myself. >> Explained Abbacchio, yet knowing well that the fact that he actually enjoyed the others' company wasn't a secret to anyone anymore. He took a sip from the cup he brought from the kitchen <<god, why don't we have some kind of power generator, Giovanna?>>
Giorno calmly snuggled in the blanket he brought with him on the ground. <<I didn't think about it. The house is pretty small anyway>> he replied with a calm smile, it was true, since they took control of passione Bruno tried to give the gang a chance to feel more like a family and... less like a criminal association. He knew well that he couldn't take away what his companions had been through, but he did his best to help.
So they lived together in a house with enough space for everyone, but all of them worked hard to make it feel more homely. Like, Narancia socks constantly on the floor, or Fugo's bookshelves, that quickly became Fugo and Giorno's bookshelves, mainly including biology books for the Don. Like Mista's calendar (obviously, with every 4th of the month ripped out) filled with everyone's new chores. Like Abbacchio's collection of old music cassettes, as Bruno's fishing equipment, and Trish's karaoke, used at their little parties.
<<yeah yeah, but then we wouldn't have to listen to Narancia fairy tales.>> Abbacchio argued, with a sip of the cup of tea, and a roll of his eyes.
Even if Bruno was cooking, it didn't mean that he wasn't listening too. <<it's a fairy tale for a reason, listen and you might find a meaning behind it, Leone.>> Bruno reprimanded his partner, working hard to help Narancia with the atmosphere.
Abbacchio felt a brief sense of embarrassment, and some light pink blushing on his cheeks, but he chose to simply shrug off that feeling. Then he sighed, and smiled softly, glancing up at Bruno and then at Narancia. <<go on then, kid. We're listening.>>
<<yeah! Do it dude, continue the tale! Fuck it up.>> Mista was sleepy, mostly because he and Narancia stayed up late last night. So Fugo allowed him to rest his head on his shoulder, but he moved around too much and the albino was almost forced to shove him a little further away.
<<okay okay…>> Narancia placed one of their torches below his face and...
"Well, you absolutely need to know that once, witches could make a human's blood run cold with a single smirk. It took witches just a word and humans would run away and never even think about bothering someone that powerful again. Nowadays it wasn't the same, and for a witch that didn't find the will to hex or kill, like Abbracchio, it was so much worse. Leone lived all alone, but witches used to live in covens, they were used to providing for each other. Living in a coven, a Witch had at least three of the basic needs of a Witch covered: you were always protected, you weren't lonely and if you were an elder, then you're supposed to teach and the younglings about the great way of life and raise the youths to be a new and great generation of strong Witches.
But Abbacchio lived alone, no coven and no companionship, as he couldn't bring himself to admit his own life turned him into a pathetic excuse of a Witch, he sincerely thought that he didn't deserve anything more.
Even now, someone was literally stealing his garden vegetables. Like, of all the benefits that being in a coven brought, he didn't have any. At all. Because he was being robbed, he was alone and didn't have someone to tell about how ridiculous this entire situation was!
Abbacchio closed his book with force, and then got up from the chair where he was reading. <<dammit! Who's the freak that decides to move around the woods at this hour!>> protested the witch, whose plans for that night were not exactly being robbed of….their vegetables. Seriously, who was the reckless one who decided to adventure into one of the most "Witch-populated" areas? At this hour? It was like… Abbacchio checked the clock, and it was almost three in the morning. Yeah, for a Witch to stay this late was normal, but a human? Weren't those things supposed to sleep at this time?
He moved quickly and threw the book on the chair, leaving the comfort of his house and rushing outside, surrounded by a little breeze and humidity that ruffled his long hair. He grumbled, annoyed and angered by this situation.
Once he moved to his garden, the view made him much angrier. There was a woman, a pregnant woman no less. A pregnant woman who was eating his strawberries, slipped on the mud, and then fell right into his pumpkins, squashing all of them under her body. Wow, he didn't get enough sleep for this.
<<what are you doing here, human.>> he came closer, demanded an answer, and just in time for his entrance a lightning strike tumbled behind him.
The woman struggled with getting up from the mud, she tried to, clearly scared of Abbacchio, only to fall once again on the ground, muttering some bad words and starting to mumble some more, once she fell again getting dirty everywhere.
Abbacchio was particularly grumpy that night, but that was a pregnant woman, and god knows what she was going through. Besides, her belly was pretty big, so the witch felt really sympathetic. With a slow but steady movement of his hand that covered the woman with a faint purple light, he brought the human in the air and then on her feet, far from the garden.
She was scared and far from gracious, the only sounds that the woman made were incomprehensible and hard to hear, the sound of her apologies and pleas were muffled.
Abbacchio suggested she calm down with a gesture of his hand.
<<it looks like you still have your mouth full.>> pointed out the Witch.
The woman slowly looked down and then spit out the chewed strawberries, on her hand and then on the ground.
<<yeah, now you can talk->>
<<you're a witch, aren't you?!>> she guessed, sprinting closer to Abbacchio. Well, he didn't have to hide it either, the place was populated by witches of all kinds, the forest wasn't always reserved to them, of course, other creatures lived there for centuries. But "Passione", so called the biggest coven of Italy, reclaimed the place as theirs a few centuries ago, allowing witches to live in exchange of submission. Also...witches always wore the most atrociously looking and stylish attire, Abbacchio did too.
The Witch reserved her a glance, something wasn't going how he thought it would. <<I am, in fact, one.>> he simply stated. <<And you ruined this season's harvest. >> Explained Abbacchio, rather blunt, straightforward.
The soon to be mother seemed scared to death, Abbacchio wasn't going to hurt her, but his intimidating tone and threatening body weren't helping. But before Abbacchio could explain himself the woman came closer to him, pleading at a loud volume.
<<please, spare me! You can take my first born, but please don't kill me!>> she threw herself on the ground, and begged at Abbacchio's feet, who jerked quickly, increasingly concerned and uncomfortable. What kind of mother simply gave away her kid? Yeah, maybe she was doing it because she thought it was to save her life, but even then...she didn't seem careful at all with her belly and how she moved around, he could tell she hurt herself falling but didn't try to be more careful. Maybe…?
<<what…?>> the Witch placed his hands on the woman's hands that were clinging to Abbacchio's legs, pushing her slightly away. God, this kid wasn't even born and was already annoying him.
<<look. I don't know and DON'T CARE about what you heard about witches, but around here we haven't done that since...like, the fifties. If you hang out with old hags, then that's a "you" problem.>> he got defensive, but then thought about how the woman was basically begging to take away her child, without any regret on her face. Yeah, she didn't seem like a great mother. But what could he do? Even if he took in the child, what was he going to do? raise him? No..absolutely no.
<<but- Then… what are you gonna do…?>> the woman slowly got up.
<<I'm not going to kill you, and neither take away your->>
<<please, do it! You can make an exception, right? You have to! Right?>> interrupted the woman, even more convinced about what she was doing and even more convinced that Abbacchio was going to do what she wanted.
Abbacchio didn't need anything more than that, before his life turned into a very repetitive and lonely path, he was a Witch chief, and dealt with some Witches that abused or neglected their younglings, he guessed that it shouldn't be that different from humans. And this woman wasn't any different from the witches that he dealt with.
<<I didn't want this child, and I got lost in this place, it was dark and I was hungry. But...please take it, I don't want it. >> she murmured, insisting on her wishes.
<<I don't- you can't just ask a witch to take your firstborn! What am I supposed to do with him? You're his mother.>> Abbacchio snapped, he knew it wasn't something that simple to handle , but he wasn't responsible for the baby, a doctor and either the father.
The human didn't seem happy about his decision, and Abbacchio felt almost pity for the poor child. If she didn't want the child, then she wouldn't raise it properly either, and Abbacchio hated to admit it but he wasn't a bad big old man, he couldn't leave a kid in these conditions just because he wasn't in the mood to help. Yeah, he didn't have to help, but he...wanted. Otherwise, who knows what would be the fate of the kid?
He just had to wait for him to be born and then give him to some orphanage, of course. Yeah.
<<yeah okay! okay! Alright. I'll take it.>> sighed loudly Abbacchio, on the way to go and get drunk. Did he really just exchange a baby with a human? Just when he thought his life couldn't get worse. <<Okay, you give him to me like… at one years old. And I demand that you raise him, and feed him well until then, otherwise…>> and with a simple gesture of his hand a little earthquake shakes the woman back to reality. She nodded as quickly as possible and started mumbling thanks and blessing him.
<<thank you so much! Thank you, I->>
<<don't talk to me, never again, not a single word.>> Ordered the witch. <<The way there->> and he pointed In direction of the safest way to exit the forest. <<can bring you home. But first…>> he nastily grasped her hand, and with his other free hand, gestured a circle that surrounded their firm handshake, and immediately a vivid and sharp purple light illuminated them both, striking their accorded deal. The woman slowly moved from the contact, and silently nodded, then started moving in the direction indicated. "
Narancia was gladly involved in the fairy tale, as everyone in the house was, Including Abbacchio who was listening more closely than he would like to admit.
<<But he->> started the boy, who was still going on with his story, but wasn't aware that while he described every detail of his newly invented tale, Bruno and Trish finished cooking.
<<guys, I think you can come to dinner now.>> Trish interrupted, she didn't say much about the story, as she was busy helping and chatting quietly with Bruno, but she listened.
<<ow. But we just started book two!>> announced the older boy.
<<narancia, look, I'm sure you can continue after dinner>> reassured Bruno, placing one hand on Trish's shoulders.
<<yeah dude, the sex pistols are pretty hungry already, you can totally go back to books two after we get something to eat.>> pointed out Mista, yawning and invading Fugo's private space.
<<you stink. Get away from me.>> so the albino rushed to get next to narancia.
Abbacchio was smiling, tenderness of the purest sense on his face. <<how long do you want this to go on, brat? It's been over an hour since you started. >> noticed the ex-police officer. <<and I really hope you're not going to make me adopt Giorno.>> joked the man, maybe too harshly considering how his relationship with the now Don was in the past. <<no offense Giovanna, I assure you that I'm really sorry about the tea incident. >>
<<no offense taken.>> Giorno lifted his hands in the air as a sign of no personal damage.
<<what are you talking about, what tea incident?>> interrupted Bruno, unsure about what they were talking about.
The gang decided to help set the table, in complete silence, avoiding any possibility of Bruno Knowing about their little innocent early family activity.