This will be the last of my seasonal witch series. I'm happy I made it this far since Halloween is what inspired me to make the series. ^^
links to the rest of the stories.
The neighborhood was alight with activity that cloudless Halloween night. The Forester house had some decorations, but did not match the more elaborate ones strewn throughout the neighborhood. Trick-or-treaters of all ages filled the streets undeterred the slight chill in the air. Some alumni of Aurie’s classroom too old to ask for candy volunteered to hand out bushels in the front lawn. She’s had several over the years offering recommendations for it. This freed up Aurie and Richard to prepare things for their guests.
The Forester backyard was lively as well. It was flat with a high fence around. Richard manned the grill cooking up an assortment of veggie burgers and veggie kabobs. He was dressed as a convincing Link from the Legend of Zelda thanks to Aurie’s help. She changed his dark brown hair to a more sandy blonde and he felt a little more bulked up than normal. He bought a replica Hylian Shield and Master Sword. Aurie matched her husband as Princess Zelda. She set up a table covered in a pumpkin themed tablecloth with bowls of fruit and snacks ready for the party.
Their daughter Abigail played bean bag toss with her friend Jasmine in the corner of the yard eating snowcones. She was the splitting image of her mother with the same honey blonde hair, although, she inherited her dad’s nose. She wore a costume modeled after Anna from Frozen. Jasmine, taller and darker skinned than Abby, was dressed as queen Elsa. Alexei, who crafted his Final Fantasy White Mage costume himself. Same with the catpaw decorated staff. He joined the kids happily tossing bags with them.
Jack entered the scene wearing a fine pinstripe suit and a fedora hat. He looked like a noire character, though with a pumpkin head.
Aurie saw him and giggled, “Why so dapper?”
“I wanted to dress to impress.” He replied straightening his tie, “Haven’t seen several of these folks in some time.”
Abigail saw the pumpkinhead and squealed in joy rushing over to him, “Uncle Jack!”
“Abby!” He kneeled as she ran up to him and they embraced.
“It’s been so long Uncle Jack. Where’ve you been since my birthday?” She asked the way kids do.
The normally jolly pumpkin-head frowned, “I apologize Abby, it’s a long story but don’t worry I’ll tell you tomorrow. But for now it’s Halloween!”
Jasmine smirked crossing her arms. “Hey there.”
Jack mirrored her, “Hello to you too.”
All three then laughed as Jack joined the game. They split into two teams, Jack and Abby on one and Alexei and Jasmine on the other. While Jack and Alexei the girls played, Aurie checked the time then went over to them. “Time for our guests to arrive. Ready Alex?”
Abby brightened, “Mom can I help?”
“Before trick or treating? You don’t want to tire yourself out already do you?”
“No, you’re right Mom.”She answered unable to hide her disappointment.
She smiled and ran a finger through her hair, “You can help next time ’k?”
She grinned “Okay!”
Alexei and Aurie went to a more open part of the yard while the others stood back to watch the show. Alexei used his staff to catch the portal, and then Aurie opened it. Alexei kept it staff stabile. They hope that the bright flashes would be misinterpreted as special effects show.
The portal turned blue as Harmony appeared first dressed as Adventure Time’s Princess Bubblegum. Then Ethan and Winter, both with a fully grown antler rack, came out dressed as hatless Finn and the Huntress Wizard.
Aurie giggled “Looking awesome! Honesty, I’m surprised you didn’t come as Pinkie Pie.”
Harmony nuzzled her sister. “We couldn’t convince Ethan to be Fluttershy.”
Winter kissed Ethan’s cheek, “I wanted to be Discord so bad!”
“It wouldn’t make any sense!” Ethan blushed as he held onto her arm.
Winter rubbed his chest, “Oh dear Ethan, what fun is there in making sense?”
Aurie hugged Harmony, “Hey there!”
She smiled back, “Hey girl! It’s been too long!”
“I know.” Aurie replied. “I had an idea though a few nights after you contacted me about this. I haven’t been to your little snow globe in some time, and really it doesn’t snow much here. I figured over my winter break that maybe Richard, Abigail, and I could come over-“
“Of course you could!” Harmony exclaimed! “We could do sleigh rides and make snowmen and do snowball fights and drink cocoa and sings carols oh it would be so much fun!”
They moved aside as the portal turned green for the Spring contingent.
Newlyn arrived with the grace of Demeter. Her nymphs who came wore Roman robes as well but did not cover their green skin. They toned back the growth on their form like the leaves, vines, or branches but left their flowers. All three adorned their heads with olive branch crowns. Aurie hugged each of them.
Then a new face walked out behind Newlyn’s group. The Amazoness girl looked uncomfortable in her own skin and walked with a wide gait. She wore an – she looked like she had a griffon costume on with a masquerade griffon beak mask and then a stylish outfit of fur and feathers. She had talon styled gloves and boots.
“Sarah?” Alexei inquired pretty certain he knew the answer. Winter and Ethan shared the curiosity.
The griffon garbed girl nodded shyly. The other familiars gasped. Winter let go of Ethan and went over to her, “Wow, this is a first for you. You look good.”
Sarah’s red cheeks were visible in spite of her mask, “It’s not that big of a deal. Besides, you’ve been that way for like all year.”
Winter grinned, “And loving it! It’s not bad when you get used to it. Besides, I’ll be a reindeer again come Christmas time when its time.”
She then leaned in close, “And, I let Ethan have the season off when it was our cycle in the Southern Hemisphere this year. Come this Christmas, he gets to help pull the sleigh heehee!”
The two girls giggled as the summer group came through a red hued portal. The familiars were dressed as pirates with Joaquin open red captain’s coat and a white blouse underneath with it all topped by a feathered captain’s cap. Tia had a blue dress with a leather corset over it and a bandanna over her head. Julia herself did not dress as anything out of the ordinary. She had a red gown on and white elbow gloves to compliment her parasol.
With everyone present, Alexei let the portal close. He wiped the sweat from his brow then joined the other familiars. Aurie hugged each of them as well and each sister exchanged hugs then they split up. Winter shot over to see the kids, and the other witches went to the table where Richard set out the finished food while the familiars mingled.
Julia went to Aurie and looked to her with a dire stare. “May we speak in private sis?”
Aurie nodded, “Yes, we can step inside.”
They went into the house with Aurie concerned.
Meanwhile, Winter beamed as she approached Jack and the girls. Abby and her shared ahug and a kiss. She tickled her niece and teased her, “Who’s the smartest person you know?”
“Aunt Harmony!” Abby squealed through giggles.
Winter stopped and kissed her cheek, “That’s right!”
Jack crossed his arms ever jolly as she was, “I would recommend not tickling me.”
Winter stood back up winking. “Wasn’t planning on it. Lookin’ classy Jack!”
“Thank you,” Jack replied juggling bean beags, “You are so pink it’ll blind a person.”
Harmony smirked, “Thank you. I’ll do it more often around you now.”
The winter witch then turned to Jasmine who’s lips were a deep red from finishing her snowcone, “Love your Elsa outfit.”
“Thanks!” Jasmine replied happy with the complement.
Harmony got a twinkle in her eye. She could tell that the girl did not know who she was, “Wanna hear a secret?”
“Sure.” She asked curious.
Harmony teleported one of the snow cone flavor bottles to her hand in a flash, then handed it to Jasmine. She then twirled her hands close together and made a contained snow flurry between them. She focused into a snowball, then plopped it into Jasmine’s empty cone refilling it. “I’m like a real life Elsa.”
The girl’s eyes became as wide as dinner plates, “Wow!”
They had a new person to join their bean bag game.
“Winter!” She shouted, “Mind bringing me some snacks?”
“Give me a sec!” Winter shouted back standing in the circle of familiars. The group enjoyed the food as they caught up.
Joaquin took a swig from a flask and held onto Tia’s side as she clung to his shoulder, “I can’t believe you ended up a human Sarah.”
Sarah nodded perturbed, “Well, I wanted to walk around as a griffon and say hey to all the people.”
Joaquin laughed, “I wish you did.”
Winter waved him off as she made another plate, “Don’t listen to Jaoquin, we’re happy you came Sarah.”
Jaoquin scoffed, “I am as well. We are all familiars here or share our souls with one.”
He raised his flask, “A toast to familiars!”
They laughed and raised their cups of punch. Sarah then looked to Ethan, “So, Ethan, you been in touch with your family?”
“Yep!” He answered joyfully, “Thanks to Harmony being up on technology I can stay in touch on Facebook about my new ‘job’, and I’ve made plans to visit them on thanksgiving. Just need to lose the antlers! I’ve gotten used to them so it’s be weird with them gone.”
The other familiars laughed. Sarah patted him on the shoulder motioning up and down her form, “If I can be like this, then you can cover up antlers.”
Ethan smiled back, “True! You do look awesome though seriously.”
The familiars and their companions bonded more, and Winter brought Harmony a plate sticking around to watch the group play.
Over at the grill, Newlyn and her nymphs made themselves veggie burgers with Richard. “Thank you for cooking something like this.”
Aurie’s husband smiled and nodded, “Aurie told me you preferred stuff like this. I haven’t tried it so I figured why not.”
Newlyn took the ranch dressing she was sure that Aurie placed there fo her. “It’s just nice to have a break from bringing in Spring. Mind if I ask what are you doing lately?”
“Aw, nothing,” He replied after swallowing a bite of his burger, “just some data analysis.”
Newlyn could see her nymph’s disinterest so she tried to help them disengage, “On what?”
“The state park, they want help to figure out the state of the forest.” He answered delighting in the interest spark in the spring group’s eyes. As Richard mystified the Spring women with tales of his work helping the forests, Alexei checked the time. “Oh! It’s trick or treat time!”
The girls cheered and got their candy buckets running through the fence door out in the neighborhood. Alexei went after them whiel Jack shadowed him amused. Harmony and Winter giggled before rejoining the others.
Some others joined them as they traveled many mystified with Jack’s “costume” but were too nervous to approach him. Jasmine and Abby’s friends joined up with them, and the two mystical beings hung back supervising the children as they blitzed the candy. Alexei noticed several creative costumes around. One older pair of girls was dressed as the titular Spinnerette, with the same black costume and extra set of arms, and Mecha Maid, a cyborg maid, from a webcomic he read. Another red head lady had a nice blazing red genie outfit.
“Alexei, what are you dressed as?” Jack asked the neko familiar. Alexei got the impression that the spirit held that question in since he first saw him and grew tired of puzzling over it.
Alexei smirked from the mental victory. “Cosplay from a favorite game series of mine.”
“You and your games,” Jack muttered shaking his head, “What is cosplay?”
Alexei relished giving Jack a little lesson on one of his passions. “You would like it. People get together dressed as their favorite things from fiction or sometimes something of their own design. There are a lot of them at conventions.”
Jack beamed, “Oh, I should go to more of those!”
Alexei stared forth in horror imagining Jack visiting a con. People becoming their costumes, superpowers firing off everywhere, him laughing floating over the chaos…
“Excuse me a sec,” Jack smiled and turned to passing kids then leapt out at them! “bwahahahahaha!” They squealed in terror and ran. Alexei facepalmed, “Subtle.”
Jack on the other hand was satisfied with himself, “They wouldn’t be out if they didn’t want to get scared.”
Meanwhile, Aurie and Julia stood in the open kitchen. Aurie sat down on the counter on one side of the kitchen. “What is it you want to talk about Julia?”
Julia made sure all of the doors and windows were closed then took a deep breath, “I… I don’t know how to say this… politely.”
“Look, whatever is on your mind just say it. We’re sisters after all.” Aurie said firmly her curiosity burning.
Julia took in another deep breath. She sat on the opposite counter and sat down her parasol. “I don’t understand why you’ve settled down. Sure Jack ‘house-sits’ for you when he’s not spirit taming, and you are fulfilling your duties each season on both hemispheres, but I just… I couldn’t imagine doing what you’ve done. You don’t just live amongst humans, you have a job, a husband, you are the only one of us to have a child. Not that it’s a bad thing; I commend you for all that you’ve accomplished. I have just been holding all of this inside and didn’t know how to tell you that… you are just an enigma to me.”
Aurie stared at her sister silent for a moment, then at the ground in thought. “You know how you feel about your familiar and anyone they care about? That’s the same way I feel about my family. I imagine one day you’ll understand when you get this feeling inside of you that you cannot explain.”
Julia sighed, and gave a melancholy smile, “I just… don’t understand”
They embraced lovingly. Aurie looked into her eyes. “That’s okay. We are each different, and my path is not yours just as your satisfaction is not mine. I hope no matter where you go you feel this deep satisfaction that I cannot explain.”
Aurie felt an emphatic ping from her distant familiar. She felt inspired to take out the pie pan and crusts. Julia came over to her side. “Mind if I help?”
The autumn witch shook hear head smiling, “No, please feel free.”
Back at the trick-or-treaters, they made it to houses with larger yards so candy was more spread out and they grew more tired, but still having a good time eating candy and trick-or-treating. Suddenly, three masked older kids jumped out from behind a bush surprising them. One had a fox mask, another a creepy clown mask, and the final one a jack-o-lantern mask. Asides from the masks, they just wore mundane clothes like jeans and hoodies.
Jack and Alexei paid the harmless scare no mind. That was until the older kids started wrestling the kid’s bags from them that they paid attention. Some of their group of kids ran back the way they came abandoning the magic entourage to the raiders. Jasmine fought back, but they pull it from her before pushing her to the ground. Abby was so stunned by this that she could not cast a spell. She rushed over to help her friend.
The hooligans seized their prize and tried to run. However, they had no idea the dire situation that placed themselves in. Jack clenched his fists seeing the girls harmed and he extended his hand towards a large pumpkin balloon decoration with vines in front of an empty house that was ahead of the fleeing hooligans. Suddenly, the vines came to life as the group passed and wrapped around the pumpkinfaced thug. He struggled against the tight vines, but the balloons pulled him to the ground. Jack grinned wickedly as he made an alteration to the decoration, he removed the black screen of the jack-o-lantern balloon’s mouth so it could “eat” the hapless victim headfirst. His friends watched in horror as he was shoved into the pumpkin that held him in the prison of its mouth effortlessly. The balloon did not crush him, but he could not push out of the squishy confinement. With a snap, the mouth reappeared again leaving the prisoner trapped in the hollow inflatable. His cries for help fell on deaf ears for now, but Jack imagined someone surely would come along and help him… eventually!
The other thieves snapped out of it renewing their escape, but in a white blur Alexei cut the rest of them off. His mittens were on as he gripped his staff firmly and his hood fell back revealing his cat ears. He glared dangerously at them, “Drop the candy. It is not yours nya.”
They tried to backpedaled but Jack appeared behind them arms crossed, “I would recommend listening to him. Trust me, you’d prefer kitty over there to call the shots. Just ask your friend.”
The three looked back over to the neko. The kid in the fox mask said, “Fine here we’ll give it back.”
“It was just a trick man…” The clown follower muttered as he dropped his as well.
Jack went over to Abby and Jasmine and knelt down. The two girls began to sob as they held onto him. While Alexei’s nyanese was not intimidating, Jack knew that if he dropped his concentration enough to slip back into it he was serious. Seeing that the neko had it handed, the real pumpkinhead went over to the girls to help them out.
Alexei’s unwavering glare still held over the candy thieves. “You steal from my sister and hurt her friend, you insult the spirit of this innocent night with your hurtful game nya! I imagine you plan to do this to more unsuspecting kids. I will teach you kittens how to play a new game, Alexei says.”
They turned to run to the side between the two mystical beings, but Alexei tapped the ground with his staff. In that instant, Jack could see the magic invisible to the naked eye snaking its way to the fleeing hooligan’s feet. “Alexei says stop.”
Suddenly, they could not pick up their feet from the ground to save their lives. Try as they might to pull them up it was like they were magnetized. The fox mask kid looked to the neko furious, “What the f-”
“Alexei says silence.” The familiar spat cutting him off. “Alexei says if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all nya.”
The two became frantic at that point as they discovered they could not will themselves to say a discouraging word. The clown tried to remove his mask. Alexei acted quick, “Alexei says keep your masks on. Alexei says line up in front of me and stand at attention.”
The two followed his orders to the letter.
“What are you going to do to us…” Fox masked teen asked shaking.
“We’re sorry!” The clown pleaded, “Please let us go we’ll never do it again.”
Alexei looked to Abby who looked just as scared as he was sure they were. His face softened. “I will let you go, but first… Alexei says hold out your hands palms down.”
They did so. Alexei then held out his hands both gripping his staff. His mittens began to glow and separated into 4 glowing orbs. These bright orbs then went to their hands and faded revealing they each had identical mittens on their hands. They tried to pull them off, but Alexei tapped the ground with his staff, “Alexei didn’t say do that nya~”
They stopped immediately this time Jack did not notice magic reaching out to them.
Alexei rubbed his chin for a moment, then put his free fist on his hip as he eyed the two playfully, “We will now play a new game, kittens with clean mittens nya~! Do you know how to play?”
“No…” they both said anxiously.
“Well, it’s simple my little kittens and a favorite of mine nya~” Alexei purred, “First though, some adjustments must be made.”
Their mittens glowed and they held them up to look at them and noticed the world around them getting bigger! It did not take them long to realize they were shrinking! What was crazier was they felt a tugging on their ears and tailbone! Their clothes changed into costumes that matched their masks as they lost age ending up as neko toddlers with one piece pajama costumes. Disbelief numbed both of them.
“Now, good little kittens keep clean mittens and then they get pie.” The grown up neko explained, “Naughty little kittens get no pie nya. You want my pie if you want to be big kittens again, understand nya?”
The regressed duo nodded timidly. Alexei snapped, and in a flash, they had simple pumpkin candy buckets.
Jack then placed himself between them hands on their shoulders as he leaned down to look to each, “Looks like the trick or treating is back on eh?”
They had great fun! The kittens found either Abby’s or Jasmine’s hand as they continued to get candy. Slowly they started to warm up even saying trick or treat at each doorway. Suddenly, one of the ‘kittens’ started sobbing. Jasmine and Abby hugged him.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” Jasmine asked concerned.
He held up his hand, “Big brother, I have soiled my mitten nya!”
Alexei looked and surely enough there was a dirty spot on the mitten. Alexei smiled and tapped it with his staff and the blemish disappeared, “It’s nothing. Go play little kitten nya~”
The kitten ran off excited back to the other children for more fun.
Jack and Alexei continued to supervise, “What’s gotten over you?”
Alexei sighed, “Eh, don’t know. Just want to teach them a lesson but might as well let it be fun too for everyone.”
Jack laughed “You’re a softie Alex.”
Alexei scoffed, “Well sorry for wanting to show a bit of mercy but get a point across. Not everything has to have death brother Grimm.”
Now it was Jack’s turn to scoff, “Death? Hardly. Death is uncreative.”
Alexei rolled his eyes, “Which is why I stepped in to take care of it before you got your hands on the others.”
Jack clapped, “Touché.”
When they returned home and as Alexei expected, warm pies were waiting for them in the oven. Alexei grinned that his message made it to Aurie. Alexei served the kids pie and the kittens chewed down on it. When they were done, the kittens went over the couch and instantly fell asleep. Jack directed the yawning girls upstairs so they could sort out their candy.
Alexei watched over the “kittens” leaning against the back of the couch. He could not bring himself to admit to anyone his inner thoughts, not even his mistress. She would understand, but it would bring about unnecessary pity and heartache since she knew familiars could not procreate. They are not created with that in mind so they are unable. They could share their essence like Winter did with Ethan or Joaquin with Tia making a human more like them or likewise an animal. However, they could never have true children of their own. He watches over Abby as a brother and wanted to teach these two kittens a lesson more gently than Jack because it satisfied this deep need inside of him that he could not explain. Despite the fact he could never have offspring, he adopted others as his own.
The neko thanked the stars for a family that kept him from slipping into melancholy. Simply being around Abby, Aurie, Richard, and even Jack filled his heart with joy. He was not alone despite being childless and parentless, he was a part of a family who cared for him. He simply sought ways to reflect that care to others to brighten their lives as well.
Jack came up behind him, “Having a moment here?”
Alexei jumped spinning around and hissing unconsciously, “Jack!”
The pumpkinhead winked, “You had that… misty eyed look like a girl watching one of those movies... what do they call them?”
“Rom coms?” Alexei offered tentatively.
The spirit pointed affirmatively, “Heehee those are the ones!”
Alexei sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Jack I’m exhausted, could you take them to a safe place? They’ll change back soon.”
Jack levitated them both up onto his shoulders gently. “Of course. Leave them to me.”
Alexei let it be since he knew that while Jack was a trickster he knew how to handle children. He saw it when Abby was born and the spirit held her. He treated her as if she were made of plaster. “Don’t mess with him once they’re grown back okay?”
Jack nodded. “Of course not. I thought we went over this.”
Alexei took over the couch and relaxed, “Just double checking.”
Jack winked and left with the two of them vanishing humming the tune of Grim Grinning Ghosts
. Alexei chuckled and heard Abby’s laughter upstairs. He grinned as he curled up to take a little cat nap satisfied with a fun night.