“I think we’re done for the day.” Haruka tells me. I think I’m getting pretty good at this. “Actually… there is something I wanted to talk to you about. Why don’t you sit with me?”
She gestures towards the couch. I wonder what this could be about.
“I’m sure you are looking forward to the ball?” She asks as she makes herself comfortable beside me.
That is an understatement. I have been so excited about it ever since Haruka mentioned it the first time. Who would have thought I’d be going to a ball in the magic realm a year ago? And I’ll get to go with Morgyn… well, we’ll not go “together” together, but we’ll both be there, and it will be different from when we’re hanging out normally, and… and I’m getting carried away again.
“Very much,” I give her an eager nod.
“There’s actually a reason we’re holding it.” Haruka grins at me. “I am retiring.”
It’s like all of my plans and dreams crash down on me. Again. Haruka is retiring? But who will I train with? Actually, will the new mischief sage even want to teach me?
“But… I still have so much to learn!” I say, panicked. “Haruka… I can’t go back to spending every day in Sylvan Glade again.”
“And why would you do that?” Haruka sounds calm. Encouraging. She’s been so nice to me, ever since I’ve started studying with her. Warm. Not like Simeon. “You do have a lot to learn, yes, but you have all the foundations, you’ll be able to work out the rest. Being a sage is all about potential, anyway.”
Being a sage? “What?” I stare at her. She can’t be serious. I’ve only been studying with her for less than a year. I can’t possibly be a sage. I don’t know anything…
“Have you forgotten about why I offered you the apprenticeship in the first place?” She reminds me of our conversation all the way back at the Spooky Day Fair last year. “I did tell you I was hoping for you to succeed me. That hasn’t changed.”
This is too much. I shake my head. “There’s no way I could possibly qualify already…”
“Technically not true!” Haruka tells me. She sounds so upbeat, like this is really a possibility. I don’t get it. “Do you know how I became a sage? The sage before me gave me a challenge, and completing it was the only qualification I needed.”
I’m curious. Haruka hasn’t really talked much about when she was an apprentice before. “What kind of challenge did you have to do?”
“Ah, it was all rather complicated, my predecessor was very fond of riddles. But you don’t need to worry about anything like that, since I get to set the rules now. All you’ll need to do is a simple spell. And it’s not even a particularly advanced one.” She walks over to one of the bookcases and mumbles to herself for a bit, looking for something.
“Let’s see, where’s the tome… here you go.” She returns, placing a dusty book on the table in front of me.
She’s right, judging by the tome’s size – she’s had me learn spells from books far thicker than this one before. I lean over to get a closer look.
“Infatuate?” I read the title below symbol.
“Also known as the love spell. A classic! And potentially quite useful, don’t you think?” She winks at me.
I try not to get too flustered. “Can it really make people fall in love?” I ask her. The way I feel about Morgyn… can something like that really be created by a spell?
“Why couldn’t it? Practical magic can make objects and structures appear out of thin air, but as you know, mischief is much more abstract. Emotions are far more worthwhile than physical items… Isn’t that why you decided to study mischief magic in the first place?” Haruka asks.
I know exactly what she means, and she can probably see that all over my face, because she giggles. But it’s nice. I like having someone I can talk to this kind of stuff about. Dandy is too little, and Simeon… If I tried to talk to Simeon about feelings, it would inevitably just end in another lecture, I’m sure.
But Haruka… it’s like having a friend. I mean, Morgyn’s my friend too, but obviously Morgyn is the last person I could talk to this about. So maybe it’s not like friendship with Haruka. I wonder if I would have talked about things like this with my mother, had life turned out differently. Best not to think about that, though.
I clear my throat. “So… who do I cast the spell on? Do you want me to make someone fall in love with you?” I really hope it’s not Simeon. Haruka does sometimes joke about the two of them being like an old married couple, but you never know when she’s actually serious…
“Fall in love with me? Gods no!” Haruka lets out a hearty laugh. “I’m not picky. Use the spell to your advantage. It’s all just about checking off the requirement, really. Then no one can say you’re not qualified.”
I look down at the book. Of course I can think of a use for it. Morgyn and I have spent lots of time together in the last year. And I think he likes me, but… nothing every really happened. And technically, we have helped each other with spells before, though we’ve never cast them on each other… since Morgyn’s spells often involve fire or lightning, and I wouldn’t want to expose him to the likes of Despario. This one would be different, though…
But it doesn’t seem right.
“Haruka… how long does this spell last?” I wonder out loud. If it’s like Deliriate, it will wear off in a couple of hours. But imagine, for a couple of hours…
“Now that is the true appeal of Infatuate!” Haruka gives me a conspicuous smile, as if to show she’s been saving the best for last. “It’s as permanent as spells get. You cast the spell on someone, and they’re practically guaranteed to love you forever. Quite exquisite, isn’t it?”
“Anyway, on the subject of the ball, you will be needing a dress, won’t you?” She carries on, completely ignoring the fact she just gave me all sorts of mind-boggling information. “There’s a few tucked away in the attic that you could try on…”
I look at myself in the mirror. I never realised the lighting in the attic was this amazing, seems a shame the room has a fancy glass ceiling and goes unused. The dress looks pretty, but all I can think about is the love spell. I keep going back and forth.
Morgyn’s here too. I brought him along to help me pick a dress, or at least that’s what I told myself. He’s sat on an old chest, pretending to look bored. But I can see how his eyes light up at the sight of the dress. At least I think it’s the dress, it can hardly be me, he sees me every day. I try to test my theory.
“Would you like to try it on? The dress?”
“Oh.” He hesitates, I surprised him. But he doesn’t take too long to reply. “Yes.”
I knew it.
“Just give me a moment to take it off.” I say over my shoulder.
“Do you want me to look away?” He asks. I can’t tell if his tone is flirtatious or not. It’s been like this all year. Would a love spell help? No. A love spell would be fake.
“No.” I reply. I can see myself blushing in the mirror. Though me trying to wiggle out of the dress really doesn’t end up looking as suggestive as I hoped.
Then it’s Morgyn’s turn to get into his underwear, and weirdly, he seems… self-conscious? I’m not sure I’ve seen him self-conscious before. Then again, I’ve never seen him in his underwear before.
“Can you help me?” He motions towards the dress.
I realise he’s probably never worn anything like this before. He doesn’t really own a lot of clothes in general, most of what he does have is stuff Simeon conjured, since Morgyn came to the magic realm with nothing. I don’t exactly have a huge wardrobe either, but I do know how to wear a formal dress. Used to wear them every day, after all. Once upon a time.
I help him with the buttons at the back. Neither of us says anything for a while.
I still don’t like silence. Used to talk Dandelion’s ear off back when he only knew a handful of words, and when I ran out of things to say, I’d play the violin. I did learn it pretty well, in the end. But I don’t have a violin now, and Morgyn’s still strangely quiet. He’s just looking at his reflection.
“It looks nice on you.” I tell him.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” He asks, though he’s not looking at me.
That alone sends my mind racing. What kind of a personal question? “Sure.”
“I… I know that you’re really open-minded, but obviously you would have noticed that when we first met, my body… I was born in a female body. And then… I changed things. Do you… do you have a preference?”
“A preference?” I did not expect that. As far as personal questions go, that one sure is personal.
“I don’t.” I say truthfully. Is this some kind of a trick question? I think back to our first meeting, how offended Morgyn got when I asked the boy or girl question. “But that shouldn’t matter anyway.” I add.
“I know. I’m just… For years, I thought I wanted to be a man. I didn’t feel right. When I came to the magic realm… with untamed magic, everything is possible. But…” Morgyn lets out a sigh. “I know I’m probably not making any sense right now.”
“You can talk to me.” I say, though I’m not really sure what Morgyn is trying to say.
I touch his shoulder, but then I’m not sure if I should have, or if he actually wants to tell me any of this. “I mean, you don’t have to talk to me.” I add quickly.
“You’re the only person I want to talk to. Lucky you, huh?” Morgyn jokes, though his tone doesn’t match how serious his eyes look.
I am pretty lucky, I think to myself, but I really don’t want to say that out loud and sound like a complete fool.
“The changes I made, I can’t really take some of them back. Well, I can, on the surface. It’s actually pretty easy. But the consequences are permanent. Like, I’ll never be able to have kids. I guess that doesn’t matter, I’m pretty sure I won’t want to. So it shouldn’t be a big deal. What I’m trying to say is… What if I made a mistake? This doesn’t feel quite right either.”
I’m not sure I understand. But I want to. “Doesn’t feel right how?”
“In a way, I miss how I was before, but back then, I wasn’t really fully me either. There’s these boxes that are supposed to fit me, but neither of them are right. So what do I do?”
I don’t know what to say, but Morgyn doesn’t really wait for a response.
“I’m sorry, I know this is a lot. And it’s not really your problem. I’m probably not even explaining it right either. But you don’t want to be in my head. Believe it or not, this is not even my biggest problem.” Morgyn lets out a dry laugh.
I can’t imagine what that feels like. To me, Morgyn is just… Morgyn. But how do I put that into words?
“Maybe you don’t only have to be one thing.” I reply slowly.
The way Morgyn looks back at me… I’m not sure anybody’s ever looked at me that way.
And I suddenly feel weak in the knees. But thankfully, before I trip over myself, Morgyn picks me up and spins me around like a crazy person, and then we’re both laughing.
“What are you doing?” I giggle.
I feel like an idiot, but a happy idiot. And I’m very aware of the fact I’m in Morgyn’s arms.
And there’s that look again.
“I think…” Morgyn hesitates for a moment. “I think you might just be my soulmate.”
Oh my word… this is happening. It’s like the time has stopped, and I can’t feel anything but joy.
And then it hits me. Morgyn called me a soulmate. We already are in love.
If I cast the love spell like Haruka wants, we’ll be exactly as we are right now. What difference would it really make? It would just mean we’d stay like this forever. And I’ve never been happier than in this moment. So why would that be a bad thing?