Brooms

“I wished for you too.”
-Practical Magic

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5. Chapter Five

The cemetery rested on the outskirts of town. It was nearly abandoned now as humans preferred places with manicured green lawns and perfectly squared stone slabs. This cemetery was old and unkempt and only held funerals when the deceased person’s family was too poor to bury them somewhere else.

Or where magical people came to rest.

It was one of Sophie’s favorite places. The ground was uneven in some parts, and most of the paths had broken apart. It was mostly hidden behind trees now and required a bit of a walk from the main road on the other side. The tombs were old and decrepit, and there was even a beautiful large mausoleum that sometimes rattled with the wailing songs of ghosts.

That’s where she found the vampire.

He’d reassembled himself into a single person, rather than a swarm of bats, and he’d removed his hood. The cemetery was always dark, no matter what time of the season it was. And so he didn’t have to worry about the sun burning his sensitive skin. He stood at the foot of the steps leading up to the old marble doors, and his hollowed eyes stared curiously. Sophie stood beside him and followed his gaze to the placard that told the names of the people buried inside.

“Rory Hennessey,” she said out loud, reading over the names.

“My grandfather,” he confirmed. She nodded slowly.

“Was he actually buried here, or was this just his house?” His lips turned up into a smile.

“Both,” he told her. “For a while. Until my father staked him through the heart. He’s still in there.” She shivered at the thought of a staked vampire buried in the mausoleum before her.

“Sometimes when I’m out here—I can hear singing in this thing. I always thought it was the ghosts.”

“Probably my aunt. She never turned like the rest of my family. She was too good. They always said she had a beautiful voice.”

“Have you ever tried to speak with them? The ghosts, I mean.” He shook his head slowly.

“No, ghosts don’t speak to the undead. You could probably talk to them, though. If you really wanted to.”

“I’ve been trying,” she admitted. “For four years. The ghosts won’t talk to me either.”

“They will when they’re ready.”

She stepped away from him and walked off down a crooked path. Rory followed along watching the graves as he passed, wondering how many of them were actually human. His family owned property in the surrounding area for years, and it felt strange for him to be in a place where they used to roam. They had done their best to stay far away.

Phil, the cat, was found seated on the top of a large headstone not far from the mausoleum. Sophie followed the path where the grass had been stomped enough to leave a trail of dirt . Then she stood before the stone, where the cat flicked his tail and licked his paw, comfortable and familiar. Rory stood beside her and read the name etched into the stone.

“Phillip Barrett,” he said. She nodded.

“My father,” she explained.

“What happened to him?”

“The same thing that happens to all of them. He fell in love with a witch. Our kind don’t mix well. Magics and Muggles. Magic leaves behind a residue—like blood does—and sometimes it latches onto the closest living thing that can’t repel it. It develops a sickness. Something humans have no cure for. And it slowly turns their blood black.”

“Is that why you don’t have any friends?” She almost laughed.

“I have faraway friends. Just no one close. But yes. I don’t want to hurt someone the way my mom hurt him. She didn’t mean to—but it almost killed her with guilt. I think that’s why he won’t talk to me. My mom says that magical deaths—regardless of species—always leave behind a ghost. Magic killed him—so he should be here. But maybe he’s afraid of me.” Rory watched the black cat curl up on the top of the stone and shut his eyes.

“Can I ask you a question?” he asked her.

“Sure,” she replied.

“Why did you name the cat after your dad?” She turned her eyes to the comfortably sleeping animal.

“This is where we met,” she explained. “I was casting a circle here. I was trying to reach out to my dad. Trying to get him to talk to me. But—this little black cat walked right into my circle and sat down. He followed me everywhere after that. I couldn’t get rid of him. Took me a while to figure out what he was. I named him after my dad because the magic I did here brought him to me.” Rory nodded slowly.

“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe your dad has reached out to you?” She shot him a look of disbelief.

“You’re not trying to suggest what I think you’re suggesting, are you? Phil’s not my dad. He’s just a cat.”

“Wrong. He’s a familiar. He’s just as magical as you and me. And no one really knows where familiars come from, right? Like no one’s ever seen a cat give birth to a familiar. They always show up unexpectedly, right when the witch or wizard needs them. They can channel magic. They can DO magic. I mean, there was no way that cat could have gotten out of your bedroom unless someone let him out. But you’ve got the door magically sealed. So how did he get out? Did he teleport? Did he fly?”

“Ugh,” she said. Then she turned back toward the path. He rushed after her and stuck his hands in his pockets.

“No, just listen. What if that’s it? What if that’s how familiars are born? You said yourself that magical deaths always result in ghosts. But your dad has never spoken to you. I’m assuming he’s never talked to your mother either. Phil found you when you were at your dad’s grave trying to make contact. What if—whatever magic killed him—gave him a way to reach you and protect you after his death? What if he—sprang into existence as the result of your magic? He’s always with you when you need him, right? When you need a boost of magic? When you’re lonely?” She spun back around and faced him.

“How do you know if I’m lonely?” she snapped. He laughed and lifted his arms as if to show her the cemetery.

“We all are. Magical people are always lonely. You said it yourself—we work better alone. Witches can’t live together without generating an overabundance of power. Yes, there are covens, but those witches still do their own things, right? Vampires? We can’t stand each other. We don’t spend much time together. Half of the time it results in one of us killing another. I can’t even stand to be in the same house as my mom half the time, and my dad burned to death. We’re not exactly ‘friendly’ creatures. Except for maybe werewolves and fairies. But even then. Werewolves are always at war with each other to move up in their weird little hierarchy. Fairies are just plain assholes and only really come together to fuck with people. Hell, even zombies can’t stand each other.”

“Then why are you so friendly with me?” she asked. He rocked on his feet and avoided her eyes.

“Because—sometimes there are exceptions. Remember my aunt? The one I told you about? She never turned because she was already a witch.”

“How is that possible if she was born to a family of vampires?” He shrugged.

“We don’t know! But there’s so much we don’t know. Humans know more about themselves than we know about each other. There was already magic in her blood because we were vampires, right? But we aren’t born vampires. We’re born like ordinary people up until a certain point. You asked me before how I became a vampire. You have to die to become a vampire. And it can’t be just your average death. Plenty of vampire blooded people have lived perfectly ordinary lives and died perfectly ordinary deaths. It’s the death itself that turns you into a vampire.”

“What kind of death?” she asked though she had already figured out the answer.

“A person—born with vampire blood—has to die by their own hand. There’s this legend in our community that a witch cast a spell on our family thousands of years ago. So that if they committed suicide, they would be punished for going against God and would have to live for eternity as a monster.”

“Do you think that’s true?” He shrugged.

“I don’t know. I think my family really liked being immortal. In the olden days, they used to have rituals where they would force their kids to kill themselves at twenty just so they could turn. Nowadays they usually let the person decide for themselves if or when they want to do it. Sometimes we don’t even know what’s going to happen until it's too late.” She looked down at her boots, which were buried under orange leaves.

“So why’d you do it?” she asked him. He took a moment to answer, and she could hear him shift in the leaves.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked. “I was lonely.” She looked back up at him.

“You know our kind can’t be friends, right? Blood magic is too powerful. It turns people dark. It turns their blood black.” He shook his head.

“We don’t have to be friends,” he reminded her. “But I saw your book. I saw what you were looking at. You’re curious about it too. Did you know when a vampire does that spell with a witch that they don’t have to feed? That’s what the spell does. It generates an enormous store of energy. Vampires thrive off of blood magic. We have to feed to produce that energy. The blood magic is what keeps us from turning into a decaying walking corpse. If we did that spell, not only would it give you a huge ton of magical energy, it would also do the same for me. I wouldn’t have to feed anymore. I wouldn’t have to hurt anyone to stay alive.”

“Is that what you want? To not hurt people anymore?” He nodded vigorously.

“Yes, that’s what I want. You don’t have to be my friend. I don’t want to make you sick. But if we can help each other, then you won’t get sick, and I won’t have to drink blood anymore. Maybe I could even—go out in the sun—and have an average life. I don’t know how it works. I just know it’s powerful.”

“Spells like that can be dangerous, though. If it rebounds, it could latch itself onto something without the proper defenses. Just like what happened to my dad. Even if we do that spell in the middle of the woods, it could find its way into a squirrel or a hiker, or even a kid.”

“You don’t have to answer right now. I’ll give you time to think about it.” He stepped backward and lifted his hood again, shading his face in the filtered gray light. “Just promise me one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Promise that you’ll actually consider it.”

“I will.”

With that, he burst into a cloud of bats and swarmed off into the woods.

 


 

Me writing: “I’m going to make a fun playful Halloween themed story about a witch and a vampire.”
Me: “Whoops, tragic backstory.”

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