Interlude 5: Qualified

Luella

“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?

31 thoughts on “Interlude 5: Qualified

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  1. Um! Bad decisions incoming! I’m starting to think Lulu might have just broken her own damn heart. Man, teenagers are stupid.
    I mean, I’m not much better, I have nothing smart to say, so I’m just gonna sit back and wait for the trainwreck. The wreckage still burns.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hm.. my understanding frm this chapter is Morgyn might have wanted to be a “man” because of the associations they made as a kid of what a “man” means. Perhaps they thought man meant power, dominance, control, or w/e they desired, hence the appeal. But after some time being a man, they might’ve realised its not really as they’ve envisioned, or that ‘man’ doesn’t necessarily mean those things, and they could’ve easily cultivated what they want in their original biological form.

    Makes a lot of sense why they would’ve found a lot of comfort in Luella’s words that gender doesnt need to be black n white.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s certainly possible. I don’t necessarily know. I don’t even know if Morgyn knows, beyond what they actually say here; that they didn’t fully identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, so their initial assumption was that they must therefore be the other. I wasn’t really going for anything beyond a non-binary teen trying to figure themselves out in a world that defaults to binary.

      In any case, as you say they don’t really feel at home being a man either, so yes, what Luella said would have been huge and given them the validation they neded, that they don’t need to try to shoehorn themselves in either box.

      Like

  3. I love this chapter, and Morgyn makes a little bit of more sense to me than before. Not wanting to be either of the two things is something I can understand. I also kind of get the clusterfuck Morgyn made of wanting a child…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m glad! 😊 Present-day Morgyn is very closed off so it’s tricky to show what might be going on in their head, so I’m happy this was helpful to some degree.

      Yes, the “I’m sure I won’t want to have kids anyway” thing definitely came back to bite them. But I guess it’s hard to predict that, I was still saying that I wouldn’t want kids in my mid to late twenties.

      Like

      1. Nowadays lots of people decide they want to have kids in their fourties. I mean, I’m no authority, but there’s all kinds of science that says it’s not really the best thing… But I’m currently reading a very funny book about people went about raising kids in various times, “Act Natural” by Jennifer Traig. Put in perspective, it makes me feel like a great mother. Also everybody else who is not actively trying to murder their children.

        But that’s totally random and off-topic. Anyway, Morgyn could have literally taken some kid off the street to raise if they felt so inclined, instead of doing… all that. Would have been easier. But then again, when did humans go for easy options first?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds like a fun book! I don’t have kids, so I don’t know if I’d be able to fully appreciate it, though 🙂

          Oh yes, out of all of ways to go get yourself a child, the one Morgyn ended up opting for is… interesting, haha.

          Like

          1. It’s a good read even if you don’t have kids. It doesn’t give any advice, it deals with how people were doing that in history. (it was horrible.) So basically good reference when writing historical based stuff. But I’m not trying to sell anything. I wouldn’t get anything out of it anyway. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Morgyn in a dress wondering which box they belonged in was very touching. I’m sure a number of us can relate to struggling to identify ourselves in society’s exacting definitions. I actually had an ‘aww, Morgyn, you poor baby’ moment.

    THEN Luella in her frilly knickers thinking that casting a love spell on this conflicted, indecisive, confused individual brought my skull abruptly back to desk. By the time the world re-opens, I’m going to have QWERTY permanently imprinted on my forehead. Also, Haruka, WTF. There’s mischief then there’s downright devious. She would know who Luella would want to cast this spell on, so given what we learned previously about the sages, about Morgyn’s power levels etc. I smell a rat. A big, stinking rat called Undermine and his sister rat, Sabotage.

    In conclusion: 😒😒😒

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An “aww, poor Morgyn” moment? Oh my. I must have done something right in this one. Which is a relief because I rewrote that scene ad infinitum.

      Haha, it could be a look! You and your forehead will be a trendsetters! I’m sure Haruka just wants to help because she’s warm and motherly, like Lulu says. I mean, she could have chosen any mischief spell, something far more advanced, for instance, but she picked this helpful intermediate one! Isn’t that helpful of her??? 🦄

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have thought a lot about this chapter.
    It all starts so touching between Lulu and Morgyn. Morgyn’s body and brain are in total remodeling. He is full of doubt and the search for direction and answers and therefore this Infatuate formula must lead to total failure and collapse.
    Soulmate is a significant statement. Right where he shows the most vulnerability and trust, he gets hit by a fucking spell! 😠
    Should I accuse Lulu of her immaturity and stupidity? She just wants to maintain what is not humanly possible.

    Right now, I imagine Haruka rolling around on the floor roaring with laughter. She has launched the biggest joke and shown her influence in the game of possessing the most powerful magic in the competition with the other Sages.

    What is Infatuate for a shitty spell? Lifelong love or lifelong unhappiness?
    As we will see later with Cordelia and Micah, it contributes more to the second answer.
    A brief moment of attraction, which results in a child and then a lifelong struggle in denial and anger over feeling manipulated.
    Is there love or is it just a magic spell that manipulates the emotions?
    Shame on you Haruka! You have abused two insecure teenagers in your game 😖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morgyn was definitely more vulnerable here than we’ve seen them in present day times, trying to figure themself out and confiding in L Faba. Times sure have changed. Can’t picture them calling someone a soulmate now.

      Lulu definitely is immature, and a wee bit stupid here. She’s not unintelligent, but unfortunately the naiveté everyone appreciated about her so much in the last chapter has its downfalls… She does just want to preserve something beautiful.

      That’s an interesting point, indeed, which is the most powerful of all the magic disciplines? I’m sure each sage would have their own answer, and it’s indeed been a source of bickering between some of them.

      I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of Infatuate here, but yes, did not work out so well in Cordelia and Micah’s case.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. OOOkay.
    First of all, this chapter is so lovely. Morgyn & Lulu in the attic together just gives me alllll the feels 😊😌✨ it’s so sweet to see the two teenagers figuring out life & love together, be supportive and trusting.

    I’m starting to wonder if Morgyn turned into the never-commiting Morgyn because Lulu broke their heart by casting the love spell? If it worked, that means Morgyn should still be in love with Lulu- which they have not shown any trace of so far, but eh, decades are a long time to perfectionate faking 😏
    Even if Lulu’s spell was avoided, there would be a huge breach of trust between those two.

    Aaaaand again that is just another reason to be angry with Morgyn – if they are very well aware of the pain that heartbreak causes, it’s even more a shame they let others get close enough to them to break theirs.

    Not quite sure what’s Lulu’s deal with Morgyn in the present, though.

    I’m pretty sure now Haruka recruited Lullu exactly for this one reason, so the old sage could retire with one last huge malicious bang of mischief by causing all the drama and between the two kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh and I forgot to mention, obv Morgyn was confrontend one way or another with the love spell, and obv it did not have any good consequences.

      HOW in the world did they dare to cast the same mess on the two (well- one, they obv doesn’t give two sh** about Cory) people they claim they love? Knowing quite well what will happen?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you! 🙂 I both love and hate the attic portion in the chapter. They were definitely sweet.

      Now I really want to answer the rest, and your second comment as well, but I feel like I can’t really say anything meaningful without barfing spoilers all over the comments section 😀 So all I can say you do bring up some very good and valid points, and definitely does bring a new light to some of the “present day events” (well, 20 years before present day… too many timelines going on, haha).

      Two more interludes and two more regular chapters left of the season, whether they’ll address any of this… we shall see. (Really sorry this is so cryptic, haha.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. okay ofc my brain still keeps running, because IF Morgyn is aware of the damage Infatuate causes, (and very likely they are), there is only one reason they cast it on them, and that would be exactly to drive a wedge between Micah and Cory. I wonder if Morgyn was fearing that Micah and Cory may get too close, and drop them like the hot potato they are.
        Cunning.

        I suppose I can wait until the 4 last chapters are done (only?😭) but if you wanna discuss a bit you can come to my inbox. I do not mind spoilers 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooh, more theories! [insert more cryptic rambling]

          Not to worry, I’ll be back to depress/irritate you with season 2 in the near future 😀 I’ll drop you a message though it probably won’t be any outright spoilers 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. My heart! They are (or rather WERE) so perfect for each other! Morgyn is Morgyn because of Luella! When Haruka told her of the love spell my heart instantly sank. Idk why but I’ve thought all this time that Morgyn must be the reason things went sour between the two, but now with this spell…😬😬😬 IF she casts it I can’t imagine the betrayal Morgyn would feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean, I break my own heart sometimes, haha. But yes, I do like it when characters who have a history have actually had an impact on who the other person is today. As you say, Luella’s helped Morgyn realise some things, Dandelion’s personality has been shaped so much by him having been pretty much raised by Luella when she was really young, and of course, the whole reason Luella goes by L Faba is because of Dandy and Morgyn. I think things like that make their past more real 🙂

      Well, you can only predict events based on what you know, so it’s completely understandable people might have drawn the conclusion that awful Morgyn was awful because that’s what they do. In reality most people aren’t awful just for the sake of it. We shall wait and see how things turn out (Which I’m sure will be great. Yep 😀 )

      Like

  8. Dear lord, Haruka. There is mischief and then there is whatever that twisted scheme of yours is. First she scares Lulu with the risk of losing her access to the magic realm, then she hangs a gigantic sage carrot (not the grinning kind xD) in front of her nose, and then adds a hurdle of a teenie tiny spell that she has to know exactly how much damage it can do 😶
    I wonder if she’s actively trying to create conflict so future powerful Morgyn and Aine get dragged down a peg, or if she legitimately just enjoys drama. So that’s why Morgyn talked about the infatuate spell being broken by willpower before. I bet that it wasn’t broken by willpower for them either. Oh geez, is this why Morgyn flits from lover to lover so casually without seemingly caring for any of them until Micah? Did she cast that spell on them, and did they grow to hate each other over it while being unable to let go? Gah!

    Holy cow, Lulu looks absolutely stunning in that dress. I had to spend a few moments just staring at the screen there. 😅 It’s very sweet of her to notice Morgyn’s interest in the dress and offer it for them to wear like that. I bet that that gesture meant more to them than any amount of flattering or friendly talk could have done. I wonder if either of them still has that dress. If they do, that probably says a lot. If they don’t… well, ditto.

    “Like, I’ll never be able to have kids. I guess that doesn’t matter, I’m pretty sure I won’t want to.”
    Hindsight is 2020, eh, Morgyn?

    Oof, their soul mate. They’re so happy here. They’re both teenager being swept away by hormones and first puppy love and all that, but… gods, so this is where it all goes wrong, isn’t it? Lulu for the love of pancakes do not cast that love spell. That’s such an enormous break of trust, not to mention you’re turning the person you like into a puppet that can do nothing but love you even to their own detriment… oh hey, where have we heard that one before? 😭

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Admittedly when you said carrot, the one with the face was the first thing that came to my mind, haha. And then I went “oh yes, I can see that” 😂 Who knows what Haruka’s intentions are. The only thing we do know is that she does enjoy messing with people, but that doesn’t narrow it down much.

      Interesting speculation. Morgyn did say that you can break a love spell, and that it can be done by willpower alone, yes.

      I mean, I myself have stared at the attic pictures far too much, and they’re my own 😅 Ooh, that is a very interesting point you bring up about what may have come of the dress in present time 🤐

      Ah, yes. Hindsight, haha.

      Noooo, everything is perfect and lovely and nothing will go wrong, we’ll just stay in the attic forever. I’m totally not dragging my feet with next chapter 😭

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This chapter straight up gutted me. So many emotions! I was reading the whole first part with this dawning sense of horror. When Haruka pulled out the love spell, I felt my stomach drop out. All I could think about was Morgyn casting this spell on Cordelia and Micah and all the ways we visit our hurts upon other people. I just…god. And L. Faba is clearly too young to understand, Haruka knows that! And meanwhile, L. Faba is over here feeling warm and friendly towards her and this was such a good scene.

    The scene with Morgyn trying on the dress and talking to L. Faba was just beautiful. Really beautiful. Gender is a construct and we all run around trying to cram ourselves into these boxes and really, we don’t have to. I think this was the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen Morgyn and it’s so heartbreaking that L. Faba doesn’t understand the way the love spell is about to destroy that.

    This was so, so, so good.

    And the outfits/setting? TEN OUT OF TEN!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I know, this one was rough even though nothing outright bad happens in the chapter. Yes, L Faba did feel pretty warmly towards Haruka, she was a motherly figure for her in a sense. Dangerous territory indeed…

      Thank you, I love that scene. And kind of hate it too, because it makes me sad. Yes, definitely the most vulnerable we’ve seen Morgyn get with another person. Probably won’t be seeing that again.

      Eeep I’m glad you liked the setting! For some reason I was like “They have to be in a big attic room with lots of clutter, but not an overwhelming amount of it so that it’s not too busy, but also with a beautiful glass ceiling that lets in loads of natural light, even though the magic realm only gets decent light for approximately 1 hour per sim day. Ideally make it all pinkish and golden-y. Must happen.” Like, why, brain? 😀 In any case I’m happy it paid off!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. (It’s worth noting that I’m pretty drunk and always gay and gender dysphoric but especially now) this is the cutest shit, man. ❤ I'd look up the game's rates for spell failure but I don't wanna. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this chapter 🥰 I do like all the interludes because they finally add some of the missing pieces, but this one is my favourite. Haha the drunk enhances the feels I’m sure 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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