The Black Craft

How can I fear the end when I know that where I am
headed is to a new destiny?
Being a reincarnated Witch isn't easy. 18-year-old Billie
is struggling with coming to these terms. On the eve before her
eighteenth birthday she discovers she and her family are Witches,
her best friend is an Empath and the school Principal is a
Vampire.

The first eighteen years of her life she's been kept in
the dark all so that she and her brother could have a normal
childhood. But her fathers' choices has led to disastrous
consequences. Billie must learn to conrtol her powers and gain
strength as the first Vampire is reborn in the small town of Penn
Gate.

A lot of questions surround the new kids, Astrid, Christian and
Desiree. Billie doesn't trust them and likes it even less
when her own brother, Brian, begins to date one of them. But
what can she do about it when she has to keep her own secrets
safe?

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7. A New Dawn

I slowly walked down the sloping hill towards the awaiting crowd.  It was Nana, Riona, Rowanne, Dulcie, Riley, Leonard and Willem.  I could hear them calling out to me as I approached but I stayed silent as I got closer to them.  Rowanne ran to me with a thick, fleecy blanket and wrapped it around me.  “God, you must be freezing!” She said rubbing my back.

“Yeah, just a bit.”

“What the hell were you thinking?” Riley shouted.

“Hey!  Shut it she’s had a rough night.” Rowanne retorted on my behalf.

“Let’s get you home out of those clothes.”  Nana said putting her arm around me.

 

I was worn out, wet and cold and I didn’t have any strength left in me to walk back to my car, so, instead I gave into the sleepiness and passed out in my grandmothers’ arms.

 

********************************

 

I woke up late the next morning in my own bed and in dry, warm pyjamas.  There was a small mountain of presents at the end of my bed.  There were more quilts and blankets on my bed than was normal, I guess they were afraid I’d die of cold.  When I looked around I saw that Dulcie and Rowanne had pulled their mattresses into my room and had slept over.  I quietly reached into my bedside drawers and found two pairs of rolled up socks and threw a pair at each of them.

“Not now mama, I’m tired.” Rowanne groaned.

“I’m not you’re mother!”

 

They both sat bolt upright and stared at me until the last of their sleepiness had ebbed away.

“How do you feel?” Dulcie asked.

“Better.  I guess I just let everything I’d learned yesterday take hold of me and it made me pass out.  I was so damn tired you wouldn’t believe it.”  I stretched and yawned.

“I’ll go wake up Mom and Nana.” Rowanne said and dashed out the room.

“I’m so sorry, Dulcie, for not helping you yesterday.”

“Seriously, Bill, don’t worry.  Happy Birthday!” She said climbing up and giving me a hug.

“Thanks.  What happened after I passed out?”

“Well, Willem healed your hands ’cause they were all bloody.” She said pointing at the small scratches on my knuckles.  “Riley didn’t want to leave you alone.  He carried you to the car and then to bed.  Every one was all worked up and worried about you.  I guess you’ll have some explaining to do with your grandmother and aunt.” She said sadly.

“Yeah, that’s not a conversation I’m looking forward to having.”

“I think they’ll let you off the hook for today considering it’s your birthday.”

 

Dulcie reached across to the end of the bed and lifted a long thin package wrapped in silver paper with a large bow on it.  “Here.  This is from me and Laura.” She said handing me the parcel.

I tore the paper off and beneath it was a black leather box and a gold stamp with the crescent moon and three stars.  I looked up at Dulcie warily.  “I thought you had accepted your new life as a witch.”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Last night, on the way home, you kept saying over and over ‘I accept, I accept.’  Your aunt guessed what you were talking about.”

“I have a very clever aunt.” I said smiling.

“Thank you very much.” She said entering the room, followed by Rowanne and Nana.  “Well, aren’t you going to open Dulcie’s gift?” She asked.

 

I lifted the lid of the slim box to find a dagger.  “What’s this?”

“It’s an athame.” Said Dulcie.  When I looked up at her blankly she explained, lifting the dagger from it’s box.  “There are two sides to an athame.  One side is black and the other is silver.” She said flipping it over to show me.  “The black side does damage.  Here, watch me.”  While holding the dagger with the silver side upwards and the black downwards she pressed the point into her index finger and gasped in pain.  “Now watch the other side.” She flipped the dagger over so the black was now facing upwards and the silver downwards.  She slid the silver side along her cut and when she removed the dagger from her finger I saw it was healed.  “See?  The black side cuts or breaks whereas the silver side heals and mends.”

“Oh, that’s so cool.  Thank you.” I hugged her.

“Now me.” Said Rowanne and she handed me a parcel.

 

Most of the morning passed this way, opening presents.  A mortar and pestle from Rowanne, Smudge tools from Riona, Scrying tools from Nana, Runes, Charms, Talismans, Tarot Cards, Potion Vials, Incense and Oils.  Everything a Witch would need.  I even got clothes and flowers, something mundane compared to everything else.

“We must hurry.  Before your brother arrives.” Said Nana when I had finished.

“Why?” I asked confused.

“The ritual it will help you fully receive your gifts.” She said hurrying and picking up all the torn wrapping paper.

“But I thought last night…” I started to say.

“You received your main power, yes, but there are so much more.” She interrupted.

“What do I have to do?” I asked.

“All we have to do is unite you and the book together.” Explained Riona.  “We want to get it done before your brother arrives.  If he witnesses what will happen to you we’ll have to explain it all to him.”

“May be you should.” I said as I clambered about my room retrieving clothes from my wardrobe.

“We promised your father we wouldn’t until Brian turns eighteen.” Riona said and dashed out the room.  Nana, Dulcie and Rowanne followed her out.  I pulled on a pair of jeans and a purple sweater Nana had given me for my birthday and went to the bathroom to clean up.  When I arrived downstairs Riona was pulling cereal boxes from cupboards and burning toast on the grill.

“Are you nervous?” She asked.

“Should I be?” She smiled.

“No it’s a wonderful feeling, exhilarating.”

 

I heard Dulcie and Rowanne running down the stairs and they joined us in the kitchen for breakfast.  “I’m so excited I’ve never seen this before.” Rowanne said happily.

I finished my bowl of cereal and cleaned my dishes after I downed my glass of apple juice.  I was starting to feel nervous now.  The longer they all took to have breakfast the sooner I wanted it over with.  I wasn’t going to be just any old witch, I was the first born of my generation and, as Nana had explained, I would be the leader of the family coven.  That thought was terrifying.  I had grown up with a normal childhood without a trace of magic.  How could I lead anyone when I knew less than my younger cousin?  Panic settled in and I broke into a cold sweat.

“Relax, dear.” Said Nana placing her hands on my shoulders behind me.  “You worry too much.”

“How do you know what I’m thinking?”

“Because fifty two years ago I was in your position.”

“But you were raised knowing you were to be a witch.  You knew what lay ahead.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting.”

“Was Riona scared, too?”

“Oh, yes, dear, she was petrified.  But we are born to lead, Billie.  Are you ready?” She said gripping my arms and facing me.

“Yeah, I hope so.” She smiled and touched my chin.

“Everything is going to be fine.  Stay here I’ll fetch the others.”

 

The short time I was left on my own felt like a life time.  I had pins and needles in my finger tips and I could hear my blood pulsing in my ears.  I thought I might faint from sheer, hysterical panic if my family hadn’t come through when they did.  Dulcie, Riona and Rowanne sat on the sofa while I still stood and Nana retrieved the spell book from the secret room.

 

She placed it on the brass stand in front of me.  “What do I have to do?” I asked.

“Just touch it.” Nana said.

I raised my hands over the book and the pins and needles begun to sting me and my hands began to cramp.  They looked worried at my hesitance and Nana pleaded, “Touch it.”

I looked at the book, it was still as ancient looking when I first saw it yesterday.  I could hear in my mind Josephine telling me that it was created long before the hanging days.  The leather was torn and battered and the symbol of the crescent moon and three stars were fading.

 

I lightly touched my aching fingertips to the cover and felt warm sparks shoot through my long fingers.  The sparks of warmth dimmed a little as the feeling reached my palms.  Touching fingertips wasn’t enough, to gain the magic I had to press my palms against the book.  The sparks returned as they rushed in waves through my body.  I was connected to the magic, I could feel the power, my power.  I was warm and I was loved.  It was joyous.  The book belonged to me and I belonged to the book.  Forever bound.  It didn’t feel new or unfamiliar.  It felt like coming home.

 

The flow of sparks in my body dissipated but I still felt connected to the power.  Nana said I would have many powers just like the other witches in our family but that we also each had a unique power that was different from every other witch.  “All witches can levitate and astral project.  Coven leaders and first born’s of each generation would have more than their fellow witches.  In our family, if you’re a first born you will also have the power of telekinesis and your own unique power.” Nana said.  All I had to do was discover this other power.

 

I lifted my hands from the cover and looked at the Book.  It was different.  The brown leather cover was no longer torn and tattered, it was fresh and new.  The stamp of the crescent moon and three stars in the bottom right corner was bolder than it had been seconds ago.  It was as if someone had swapped the book with a new edition if it were possible.

 

But it was the same book, handed down through the generations from my ancestors.  First-born to first-born.  I unbuckled the belt without difficulty and opened the cover and saw a list of names.  All my ancestors whom had owned the book before me.  I didn’t recognise most of the names but the more recent generations I did.  At the bottom was my Nana’s Josephine Black and my aunt’s Riona Black.  Beneath those names at the very bottom my name was being filled in with some invisible pen.  Billie Josephine Black.  I flicked the page over and found The Black Craft written in large bold writing on the following page.  As I flicked through the pages a cloud of dust erupted from the book as I inhaled.  I sneezed and blinked hard.  When I opened my eyes I was no longer in the living room with my family.  I had somehow made it up to my own room without even moving.  Before I could exclaim I felt a burning feeling in my left forearm I dropped the book, raised my left arm and looked at my skin.  Just like before when some invisible pen filled my name in at the bottom of the list, some invisible pen was drawing something on my wrist.  It itched and stung and when I tried to rub it off it wouldn’t budge.  I felt a blaze off heat erupt in my lower left arm and I clutched my arm to my chest.  Moments passed and the burning, itching and stinging stopped.  I looked down at my forearm.  There just like on Nana’s right arm and above Riona’s left breast was a tattoo of the crescent moon and three stars.  “Oh no.”  I recognised this from something I saw in the crystal ball yesterday.  When I saw Riley sitting in a hospital holding someone’s hand.  My hand.

 

Before I could panic I saw something on my bed.  A black cat with large green eyes wearing a bejeweled blue collar.  The cat sat up straight and looked me straight in the eye.  “Where did you come from?” I asked aloud.  The cat flicked it’s tail and I saw a piece of paper sitting on my bed next to him.  It read,

 

Happy Birthday!

Midnight,

Rx

 

“Are you for me?” I asked aloud again.  The cat blinked as if to say ‘Whatever’.  I picked him up off the bed and he meowed in my ear.  I picked The Black Craft up off the floor and ran downstairs.  “How original.” I said to him, “A black cat for a witch.”  The cat blinked again.

“Where did you go?” Asked Rowanne as I entered the living room.  “One second you were there and the next, poof, you were gone.”

“Where did that cat come from?” Asked Dulcie.

“He was on my bed.  I don’t know what happened.  The dust came out the book, I blinked and hey presto I was in my room.” I explained.

“Oh, this is marvellous!” Exclaimed Riona.  “Don’t you see?  She’s a teleporter!”

“Just like your father.” Said Nana.

“My father could teleport?” I asked shocked.

“Yes!  Oh, I can’t wait to tell Rose.” Nana gushed.

“Rose?  Old Rosemary Nelson?  Is she a witch too?” I asked shocked.

“Oh, yes, dear.” She started to babble.

“Wait don’t call anyone.  There’s something I have to show you first.”  I raised my left arm and tugged on my sweater to let them see my tattoo.  For a second they looked confused.  Obviously this wasn’t a big deal to them.  “It’s what I saw yesterday in the crystal ball.  I saw Riley sitting next to someone holding their hand.  I realise now, it was my own hand I saw.”

 

No one said a word, they were all shocked by what I had told them.  Nana was about to say something when we heard a car honking outside.  “You’re brother’s here.” She said instead.  I went to the window and saw Brian climbing out of the car.  He’d grown several inches from the last time I’d seen him.  His brown hair was clipped close to his head and his brown eyes looked wary when he saw me gazing out of the window.  He attempted to smile but it only made his round face look more sad.  In his left arm he tucked a parcel under his shoulder and in his right hand he had a small suitcase which I recognised as the one he brought when he intended to visit for a while.  “Oh, fudge.” I said as Dulcie and Rowanne joined me at the window.  Rowanne laughed and Dulcie said “What’s wrong?”

“It looks like he’s planning on staying for a while.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother but he is a major pain in the ass.”

 

He made his way through the garden to the front door and then I saw my ex-grandmother climb out of the car.  “Double fudge.” I said and this time both Rowanne and Dulcie laughed in unison.

“I think she wants to wish you a happy birthday, Billie.” Said Nana and as I looked back I saw that she too had a parcel.  I walked to the front door and let Brian in.  “Hey, I’ll see you in a minute, ok?  She wants to speak to you and she doesn’t have much time.” He explained.

“Ok, I’ll see you in a minute.”  I let my brother pass by to be greeted by Nana, Riona and Rowanne.  I hesitantly stepped outside and was urged forward with the eyes of everyone inside on my back.  I haven’t spoken to her in almost three years so I was hoping this talk would be short.

“Hello, Wilhelmina.” She said to break the silence.  Though this was not my actual name she always insisted on calling me it since she thought Billie was a common name.

“Hello, Valerie.  If you don‘t mind I‘d appreciate it if you‘d call me Billie.” I could tell she didn’t expect any less.

“I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday.” She said over the hood of her car.

“Thank you.” I said staring at the ground.

“My how you’ve grown.  You look just like Jess.”  Danger zone, danger zone.  She would never call her my mother just like she would never call me her granddaughter and she knew I hated it.

“Well, you would’ve noticed if you had kept in touch.”

“You’re still angry with me.”  It wasn’t a question.

“Hmm … did you expect otherwise?”

“I only hoped you’d have matured enough to see I was only protecting Brian from your influence, Wilhelmina.”  I thought I’d explode with anger.

 

Instead what happened, her car started to roll away down the hill.  Clearly my emotions were starting to control my powers.  Valerie looked shocked and before I could stop it someone from inside pulled it back to its former position.  “I hope you’re not upsetting our granddaughter, Valerie.” Said Nana from behind me.  “You know that is a very stupid and dangerous thing to do.”

 

Valerie looked from Nana to me and thrust her gift to me.  “Happy Birthday, Wilhelmina.”  I thrust it back at her.

“I don’t want your present.  Did you think if you came here and give me this it will pardon the guilt you’ve been feeling for the past three years?  I don’t want anything from you.  And you should feel guilty.  As of that day you abandoned me I no longer thought of you as family.  You’re not welcome here and I hope you feel guilty for a good long time.”

“You evil witch!  You’ve turned her against me.” She shouted at Nana.

“I did nothing.  How Billie feels about you is your doing.” Nana said coolly.

“Wilhelmina …” She began but I interrupted.

“My name is not Wilhelmina.  It’s BILLIE!” I shouted at her.  “Get out of here and don’t ever return.”  I said and stomped back inside.  Dulcie and Rowanne comforted me while Riona ran outside.

 

A few minutes later both Riona and Nana returned after I heard her car screeching away outside our house.  Riona was pulling one large suitcase and holding a large carrier bag and Nana was holding the parcel that Valerie tried to give me and was also pulling another suitcase.  When I looked at them both Nana said, “Brian will be staying with us indefinitely.”  Riona and Rowanne carried his belongings upstairs while Brian and I sat alone in the living room.

“Here,” he said handing me a parcel, “Happy Birthday, Bill.”

 

It was two parcels attached to each other.  One was square and thin the other was soft and lumpy.  I opened the second and found a dark blue dress with sequins.  “Did you pick this yourself?  ‘Cause it’s awesome.” I kissed him on the cheek.

“My friends’ big sister helped me pick.  She’s about your age, too.” He said smiling.  “Open the other one.”

It was a silver photo frame with some sort of Celtic design.  The photo was a picture taken of me, Brian and our Mom and Dad about a year before the crash.  “Thanks, Brian, it’s perfect.”

“I’m glad you like it.” He said.

The mysterious black cat jumped up into my lap and stared eagerly at Brian.  “Whose this little guy and when did you get a cat?”

“Um … this is … Midnight.  I just got him today.”

“Cool.” He said petting Midnight.

“Have you met my friend, Dulcie, yet?  She’s going to be staying with us until she goes off to college.”

“Is that the Puerto Rican chick Row was talking to?” He asked.

“Yeah, that’s Dulcie.” I answered.

“She’s hot.” He said nodding, I scoffed.

“So I guess you’ll be enrolling at my school on Monday?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well, me, Nan and co are gonna go put fresh flowers on Pops’ grave and then go visit Ruby.  Do you want to come?”

“Wow!” He began sarcastically.  “You’re having some kick ass birthday party, Bill.” He smirked.

“Hey, shut up.” I said punching his arm.  “We’ll party later.  I’m pretty sure I saw cake and party food in the fridge.”

“Ok, I’ll come.  Let me get changed first though.” He said.

“Ok, I’ll see you in a minute.” I said lifting Midnight out of his lap.  “I’m gonna go see Dulcie for a sec.”  Midnight moaned and meowed all the way up the stairs.  “Hey, mister, you’re my cat not his.”  I said walking down the hall to Dulcie’s room.  “Hey, how are you doing in here?” I asked her.  I noticed her mattress was once more on her bed.

“Good, I think I’m pretty much done.  I only have a few smaller things to unpack.”

“I was hoping you’d join us when we leave in a short while.”  I began. “We’re going to the cemetery first to put down some new flowers for my Pops and then we’re going to the hospital to see my cousin Ruby.  I know she isn’t exactly responsive but I’d like you to meet her all the same.  Would you like to come?” I asked timidly.

“Yeah, I’d be honoured.  Just gimme a second.”

“When you’re done meet me in the attic room.  There’s something I need to discuss with you and my family.  Something that Brian can’t hear.” Whom I could now hear rummaging around in his room next door.

“Sure, I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Ok.”  I left and pushed open Nana’s bedroom door to find her spraying some perfume.  “Nan, come up to the attic in a minute.  There’s something I need to tell you without Brian as an audience.”  She nodded and I carried on down the hallway with Midnight still in my arms.

 

I opened the door to the attic stairs and bolted up them shortly followed by Dulcie and Nana.  “What’s going on?” Asked Riona.

“Has this got something to do with what you saw in the crystal ball?” Dulcie asked.

“No.  It’s got to do with something Josephine told me last night.” I started.  “When I was at the cemetery last night, I was at Mom and Dad’s grave.  I got hit by some big branch and I went down.  I was about ready to pass out when I saw Josephine.  She led me to the empty part of the cemetery and told me about one of her enemies.  She said there was evil in Penn Gate and this evil was going to raise this enemy of hers from hell.  She didn’t say who, how or when, all she said was that I was the only one powerful enough to stop it.”

“Then what happened?” Nana asked.

“She … I think she wanted to prove that we really were the same person so she showed me a memory of when I died.  Or at least when I died in my passed life, when I was her.” I finished lamely.  “I think she was trying to show me I was as powerful as her because, well, I am her.  It was the only way to make me believe in myself.  Well, not the only way.” I said darkly.

 

They all looked at me expectantly waiting for me to explain.  “When the memory stopped, I woke up and Josephine was still with me.  She was still trying to convince me of my powers and she said the only way that I would be able to face this evil was if I over came my deepest fear.  So she made me face it.”

Nana gasped.  Only she knew what it was that I truly feared.  “She buried you alive?” She asked.

“WHAT?” The other three shouted in unison.

I shrugged, “Like I said, she believed if I overcame my fear I’d be able to fight this ‘unholy evil’.”

“So what looked like had been an explosion was you using your powers?” Rowanne asked afraid.

“Yeah, I was freaking out and I was choking to death.  All I could think about was the earth moving and the lid of the coffin coming off.  I never really thought about how much earth I was moving and once I had acted I just kind of lost it.”

 

As if everyone wasn’t freaked out enough already, Midnight perfectly timed touching my tattoo with his paw.  “What you saw in the crystal …” Nana started.

“I’m fairly certain it was me Riley was with.” I interrupted.

As the silent minutes passed by I really began to regret bringing any of it up on my birthday.  My brother moving in and chewing out my ex-grandmother wasn’t exactly on my agenda for the day I came of age.  “Can we just forget about this for the rest of the day.  I needed to tell you all so badly now I’m beginning to regret it.  Can’t we just go put flowers down for Pops and then head on over to see Ruby?”

“Of course, honey,” Said Riona, “We’ll handle whatever comes our way when it does.” She came and hugged me.

“Yes, today you come of age and we should be celebrating.  Come, all of you.” Nana said and lead the way out of the attic.

 

 

I drove in my car with Dulcie and Brian and Nana rode with Riona and Rowanne in their car.  We headed to Main Street first to buy some flowers before heading to the cemetery.  My grandfather’s grave wasn’t too far away from where I had been buried and I was nervous about seeing the massive hole in the ground.  When we arrived and walked passed the church I could see even from a distance that the hole had been filled as if nothing had happened there.  “When you passed out Riley carried you to the car, your Nana and I filled in the hole.” Riona explained whispering behind Brian’s back.

 

When we reached my grandfather’s grave we didn’t stay long.  We all said a prayer and left the flowers in a small vase next to his headstone.  Since it was a Saturday morning the grounds were surprisingly empty but we could hear the churchgoers inside the church singing hymns.  When we arrived at the hospital there was no change in Ruby since Nana and I last saw her.  But for Riona, Rowanne and Brian there was a lot of change in her.  She no longer looked young and baby faced.  Her body was taking on the shape that of a woman.  Her hair had grown longer and her skin was paler.  When my family left to get some flowers for her at the gift shop only Dulcie stayed with me.  “So, this is Ruby.” I said to Dulcie.

“I’m guessing that there was more than one reason why you wanted me to come here.” Dulcie said looking at her feet.

 

I did want Dulcie to meet Ruby because, like Rowanne, I loved her like a sister.  I had to know that, after three years in a coma, Ruby was still in there.  “Yeah, I’m sorry I should’ve just come out and asked you.”

“It’s ok, Billie.” She said smiling.

“Is she still in there?” I asked.

 

Dulcie took hold of Ruby’s right hand and closed her eyes.  I saw many expressions pass over Dulcie’s face in just the few seconds that she held Ruby’s hand.  After a minute she opened her eyes and said “She’s there alright.”

“Do you know how she feels?”

“Yeah, confusion and sadness.  I can tell that she knows you are here and she is comforted to hear your voice.”

“Should I talk to her?”

“Yeah, I think she’d like that.” Said Dulcie closing her eyes again.

I took Ruby’s other hand in both of mine and kissed it before saying, “Ruby, if you can hear me I love you and I miss you.” I looked up at Dulcie as her eyes opened once more.

“Remember, Billie, I can’t hear her thoughts.  I only know what she’s feeling.”

“What is she feeling then?” I said choking on tears.

“Sadness mostly.  But happy when she hears you and feels you holding her.”

“Do you think she’ll ever wake up?” I asked.

“I can’t tell.  She’s locked away in her own mind.” She said letting Ruby’s hand go.  “Do you think there’s any magical way to wake her?” She asked.

“I think if there was Nana and Riona would have done it by now.”

“May be they tried and failed.  May be they weren’t powerful enough.”

“Dulcie, they are pretty darn powerful as far as I can tell.  Who could wake her if not them?” I said wiping tears away.

“You?”  She said.  “Your ancestor says only you are powerful enough to stop some big bad evil.  If you can stop that, then surely waking your comatose cousin should be easy.”

“I don’t know, Dulcie.  I’ll have to look into it.” I said.

 

We all left a little more depressed than when we arrived and I tried to cheer everyone up as I could tell it was affecting Dulcie.  For about an hour after we got home she stayed upstairs and locked herself in her room until she felt better.  When she came back down and joined the rest of us, we were all in high spirits as Nana and Riona carried my birthday cake out.  Midnight was always in my brothers’ lap and only came up to me once when I had some nibbles on a paper plate.  We stayed up late, played party games and watched a movie.  When I got washed and changed for bed I wasn’t sleepy at all.  I kept my bedside light on until sleep took me.  I was beginning to doze when I saw my lamp flicker out although I hadn’t touched it.  I sat up right and saw shadows creeping up my walls and blacking out any light in my room.  “Riley?” I whispered.

A soft laugh and my lamp lit up once more.  He was sitting in a chair in the corner of my room.

“How long have you been here?  And how did you get in?” I asked.

“You left your window open.  I climbed in a minute ago while you were dozing.” He said quietly.

I sat up straighter.  “What are you doing here?”

“I said in my note that I would be here at midnight.  So here I am.”  He explained.

“Oh my god!  I thought it was the cat’s name!” I said covering my face in embarrassment.

“Yeah?  I hope you like him, I couldn’t think of anything else to give a come-of-age witch and I was sure your family would have at least covered the basics.” He whispered.

 

We were silent for a minute as we heard my brother get up to use the toilet.  When he was safely back in bed I lead Riley downstairs into the kitchen.  “Do you want some cake?” I asked opening the fridge.

“Yeah, sure, thanks.” He said and put a large brown bag down on the table.  “Cat stuff.” He explained.

“You know you really didn’t need to get me a present, Riley.” I said handing him a slice of cake and a glass of soda.

“Well, I figured since I was such a lousy project partner that I ought to make it up to you.” He said wolfing down the cake and then coming around and rinsing his plate at the sink.

“Thanks.” I said, taking the dish from him.

“Did you shower today?” he abruptly asked.

“Excuse me, what business is that of yours?” I practically shouted.

“It’s just that the more dirty you are the stronger your scent is.”

“My scent?” I whimpered.

“Yeah, I figured if I could get a hold of your scent it may come in handy if you ever got in trouble ‘cause I’d be able to track you with your scent.”

“Oh.”

“So, did you shower today?” He repeated.

“No I didn’t.”

 

I still stood by the fridge where he came toward me closing all distance.  When he was practically touching me he bent over and whispered in my ear, “Keep still this will only take a minute.”  He held me close and bent lower to smell my neck and my hair.  When the silence began to feel a little awkward, I had to speak up.  “Um … Riley?”

“Mmm hmm?” He said still sniffing my hair.

“Isn’t this a little… intimate?” He laughed softly in my ear.

“It’s the best way to get your scent if I’m up close and personal.”

“It’s just that I’ve never really been this close with a boy other than my brother in a long time.” I explained.

“Well, I’ve never been this close with a girl other than my sister ever.” He said.

“Really?” I asked.

 

He realised he had revealed something that he hadn’t meant to.  “You’ve never in all your life been with a girl?”

“Um … no.” He said stepping away from me.

“I’m sorry, Riley, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“It’s ok.” He said softening and pulled me to hug.  “The truth is that we don’t get close to other humans because we outlive them all the time.  That’s the real reason you never see us at school with people other than ourselves.”

“I understand, I think.” I pulled away from him a little.  “There are some things I need to talk to you about and with your family also.  But not tonight.  It’s still technically my birthday and I’m really not in the mood to talk about it.”

“Ok.  We’ll talk, when you’re ready.” He said pushing a hair behind my ear.

 

I froze.  I knew what was coming next I could see it in his eyes.  Things were moving too much too fast for my liking.  I blinked and I was no longer in his arms, I’d teleported again.  This time I was only a few feet behind him.  “Riley, I’m sorry I’m not ready for the whole boy girl thing just now.  I’m still barely coping with the fact that I’m a witch and I don’t think I’m ready for anything else just now.” I said putting my hands up as he approached me.

“Billie, forget about it.  I just thought it was what you wanted.  You seemed to like me yesterday morning and we had that moment.” He stopped babbling rested his forehead against mine.

“I do like you, Riley, I do.  I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”

“Billie, stop.” He said kissing my forehead.  “I’m new to this too.”

This time when he bent lower to my face I didn’t blink or disappear.  He hesitated at first but something in my eyes must have convinced him I wanted it too.  His lips softly brushed against mine at first before it became more passionate.  His hands were in my hair and my arms were around his neck.  We stood in our embrace for an unmeasured amount of time when we were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat.

“Sorry to interrupt.” Rowanne cheerfully said as Riley and I jumped apart.  “I got thirsty.” She said.

“Ok.  I think I’d better go.” Riley said and bent to whisper in my ear.  “Will I see you tomorrow?”

“I’ll try and come around at some point.  Ok?”

“Yeah.”  He gave me one quick kiss on the lips goodbye.  On his way out he passed Rowanne, I could’ve sworn he stopped and sniffed her before he left.

“Check you out, Bill.  Digging the vampire boy.” She giggled.

 

I took a good look at her.  Her curly raven hair was a mess and her pyjamas were askew and covered in dirt.

“What have you been doing?” I asked.

“Sleep walking.” She said turning red.

“Sleep walking?” I ask disbelievingly.

“Yes, sleep walking.  I’ve been doing it since I turned nine.”  She rambled.

“Uh huh.  If you say so.”

She yawned and stretched her arms.  “Night, Bill.” She said grabbing a glass of water and sprinted for the stairs.

 

I walked to the kitchen door, switching off lights on my way.  Just as I reached the stairs something outside the living room window caught my eye.  A large glowing orb in the sky that I recognised as the full moon surrounded by dark clouds.

“How curious.” I said.

 

Realising that though my voice had spoken it had not passed through my own lips.  There was a flickering light on the mirror although it was not a reflection of something in the room.  When I walked towards it I saw a candle behind the glass and a different room behind me.  Of course I soon realised that I wasn’t looking at my own reflection but my long dead ancestor Josephine Aloise Black.

“What’s curious?” I asked.

She smiled.  “I’d keep an eye on her.” She looked over my shoulder to the stairs that Rowanne had just ran up and back to the window where, in the sky, hung the full moon.  “I hope I’m wrong but I think she may need your help in a while.” She said and I saw her placing a crystal ball safely in a box marked with runes.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Not to worry, Billie.  It’s not the time, yet.”  She stood up and lifted the candle.

She was just turning to walk away when I called her back.  “Wait!  Please!”  She bent down so her whole face, our whole face, fitted in the frame again.  “Why do you keep showing up like this?  When will I see you again?”

“I’ll be here when you need me, Billie.  As long as you’re within reach of something reflective or a spirit board I can contact you or vice versa.” She explained.

“Spirit board?  You mean a Ouija board?” I asked.  “Isn’t that dangerous?”

“As long as the spirit your calling out to is me then only I will answer.”

“But what if there are bad spirits…”

“I am powerful enough to keep any bad spirits away from you.”

“How?” I asked lamely.

“Because I’m part of you, because I am you.  I thought you had accepted this?  Do I have to bury you again?”  She asked crossly.

“No I understand and I do accept it.  That doesn’t make it any less frustrating.” I explained and she softened.

“I will be with you every step of the way, guiding you just like your family will.”  The flame of the candle blew out and she relit it looking worried.  “These next few days are going to be … in a word, bad.  Be prepared and listen to the lessons your grandmother and aunt teach you.  You have learnt quite a lot under certain circumstances but you have barely scratched the surface of your powers.”  She clasped her hands together in prayer.  “Keep your friends safe, Billie.  I have faced this threat myself, or yourself.” She weakly smiled and laughed.  “But it is not to be taken lightly, I have lost people I loved dearly to it and I don’t want you to bury those you love and hold dear.”

I placed my hand on her cheek, on the mirror, where a tear was rolling.  She pulled back and placed her hand on mine and lifted her candle once more.  “Blessed be.”  She smiled, blew out her candle and then she was gone.  My own reflection was staring back at me, the living room was reflecting against the mirror once more and I could see Riona sitting on the stairs watching me through the bars.

 

I turned and she gasped in fright.  “What?” I asked.

“You were having a conversation with yourself, I just wasn’t expecting you to finish so suddenly.” She said putting her hand over her heart.

“Did you see Josephine?” I asked nodding at the mirror behind me.

“Josephine?  No I saw you staring at the mirror having a two-sided conversation with yourself.”

“No I was talking to Josephine.  You really didn’t see her?  She was in the mirror.”

“I think she’s only appearing to you, Billie.”

“Why?”

“Because she is you?” She shrugged and stood.  “It’s almost one o’clock.  I think we should get some sleep.”

“I’ll be up in a minute, I need a glass of water.”

 

She nodded and walked upstairs.  I didn’t really need a glass of water but I had to collect the bag of cat stuff that Riley had brought and I didn’t want to explain how I had gotten all the supplies in the middle of the night although I wasn’t sure if I could avoid the question for long.  I grabbed a glass of water for good measure in case Riona checked in on me early in the morning.  I decided to try and teleport intentionally and remembered the two times I had done previously was when I blinked.  So thinking hard of my bedroom I blinked after grabbing the cat bag in one hand and the glass of water in the other.  When I opened my eyes I found myself standing on my bed.  Midnight was curled up on my pillow and he looked up at me with annoyed eyes.  I’d quite clearly disturbed his beauty sleep.  “Oh no, that’s not going to happen again, so don’t get used to it, mister!” I sternly whispered to him.

 

He changed his attitude and pretended to be cute rolling around and purring at maximum volume.  I placed my water next to my bed and lowered to the floor to look through the cat bag that Riley brought and soon found a little igloo bed for Midnight and placed it in the corner next to the chair Riley had not long ago sat in.  I clicked my fingers at him and pointed at the bed.  He realised that this was to be his sleeping bed and gave up on being cute and stared at me with annoyed eyes once more.  “It’s this or the floor.” I whispered to him.

Without much further ado he leapt of my pillow and ran to his bed but with an air that quite clearly said ‘This is my choice to sleep here and not because you said so.’  I climbed back into bed and waited till sleep took me once more.  There was so much I had to learn.  I had to learn how to control my telekinesis and teleportation, not forgetting the other powers that came with being a witch, or how to write a spell or make a potion.  Josephine was right, I still had a long way to go.  Not to mention her ominous warnings of something evil.  Why Penn Gate?  Why this tiny little, nothing of a town?  It’s nothing important and nothing special ever happened here.

 

I don’t know what scared me most being a witch, evil in Penn Gate or the image from the ball of someone who is quite clearly me lying in a hospital bed.  Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

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