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The Blue Collar Creeps

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Marnie peered through the front window to Luke’s house to see the living room dark and abandoned, looking in the same state of disarray it was in the last time she visited. She knocked again, this time louder, and twisted the door knob. It was locked, and no one was answering. She recited an unlocking spell and opened the door.

“I don’t think we should be doing this.” Dylan said from behind her.

“Are you coming or not, dork?”

She wouldn’t usually go to such lengths to track him down, only Luke hadn’t been answering any of her letters or calls on the witches glass. With nothing more than a vague note about being busy and figuring stuff out, he had even canceled his enrollment in the exchange program to visit Marnie’s High School for the year.

“Hello?” Marnie called into the abandoned house. “Luke? It’s Marnie, are you here?” She walked through the familiar sight of empty takeout containers, unwashed clothes, and hand-me-down furniture.

“This place is disgusting.” Dylan grumbled from the doorway.

“Well, that’s what you get when four teenage boys share a house.” Marnie said, digging through papers on the coffee table.

Dylan moved a moldy food container to find a line of dust where it was. “I don’t think anyone’s been here for a while.”

Marnie found her way to Luke’s room, but it was already cleaned out. His clothes were gone, except a few items, his dresser drawers were all pulled out and emptied, even his guitar was gone.

“Marnie,” Dylan called from the kitchen. “There’s a note on the fridge.”

She came to read the note,

“If you’re a parent or teacher: leave us alone.
If you’re a bill collector, or you have a cheque for us: contact Gerard.
If you’re a cute girl: The Neighbourhood Pub.”

 

It took Marnie and Dylan a while to find someone who would say what the Neighbourhood Pub was, as most people just gave them dirty looks. Finally, they found a group of teenagers standing in the alleyway behind the movie theatre, smoking cigarettes and wearing blazers and skinny jeans.

A boy with slicked back hair laughed and looked Marnie up and down, “You don’t look like the sort of girl who’d belong in a place like that.”

“Why don’t you let me decide that for myself. Just tell me where it is.”

The boy sighed out a puff of smoke. “it’s in the basement of an old rundown inn on the other side of town, across the bridge.”

 

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” Dylan said.

“What if Luke is in trouble or something? Besides, if you didn’t want to come along, you could have just taken a portal home.”

“Yeah, Mom would be thrilled if I left you behind to go to whatever this place is.”

The two of them looked up at a surprisingly ordinary looking three story brick building, especially considering they were in Halloweentown. There was a closed sign on the front door and all the curtains were closed. Marnie sighed and started walking around the building, looking for a way into the basement. Around the back was a door with a sign above it reading “The Neighbourhood Pub”, and a large blue troll standing outside.

“Hello, we’d like to get into your establishment, please.” Dylan said to the troll, who grunted and folded his arms.

“You look alright, boy, but that girl of yours looks like she’s trying to stir up trouble.”

Marnie smiled and came forward, “Sorry, we’re looking for a friend of ours, a goblin named Luke, I heard he might be here.” The troll wasn’t moving. “Look, he plays guitar in a band, they’re called the Blue Collar Creeps. You might know their lead singer, Eddie, he’s a vampire. But he tries to go by the name Sir Edgar, like that’s fooling anyone.”

Finally the troll opened the door. “Alright, they’re up next, but a word of advice, take off the cloak.”

Marnie and Dylan stepped through the door and down a hallway.

“What’s wrong with my cloak?” Marnie looked down at her favorite purple witches’ cloak, bejeweled with stars and moons.

“I don’t know, the guy said I’d fit in, that’s just weird.”

The “pub” was surprisingly well lit, and not with candles or enchanted floating lamps or anything. There were normal fluorescent lights, bare and showing the bulbs. The sound of jazz music drifted toward them from the main room, which was just as strange. There was a stage set up along the far end of the basement, a band of monsters currently playing trombones and trumpets into microphones. There were clusters of plain black tables and bar stools, old leather couches and la-z boy chairs, and even a park bench people were perched on. Along the opposite wall was an old wood bar that looked like it came straight out of “Cheers”. Except this one was emblazoner in every kind of human kitsch you could think of. Old ads for Coca cola and Big Red gum were hanging on the walls next to movie posters of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Die Hard. They even had one of those plastic singing fish behind the bar.

The bouncer had been right, Marnie stuck out like a sore thumb next to the ogres wearing jeans and suspenders, a clan of witches in poodle skirts, and most of the dance floor wearing t-shirts or polo shirts. Dylan fit in almost seamlessly in his loafers and argyle sweater.

“I think I know what this is.” Dylan whispered in Marnie’s ear. “It’s Halloweentown’s goth club.”

“What?”

“You know, people who try to emulate monster culture and dress in black and listen to songs about death and write poetry about what it would be like if they were a vampire or had magical powers or something.”

“Hello, Dylan, that’s normal Halloween stuff.”

“Exactly, so this is Halloweentown’s version, where everyone emulates humans. That’s why they all look like a bunch of quirky hipsters.”

Marnie looked around again, “Oh my god, I think you’re right.”

And then the music began. Marnie turned around to find the bands had switched when she wasn’t paying attention. There was a familiar looking vampire holding the mic, shirtless, pale, and wearing leather pants.

“Who’s ready to rock?” Ed’s smouldering voice echoed around the room, setting the audience on fire. “We’re the Blue Collar Creeps, and we’re here all night, every night, so settle into your cappuccinos and stick around.”

Marnie made her way up to the stage and there he was. She almost hadn’t recognised him in skinny jeans, and he had died his hair. It was now light brown and cut into an under cut, with only the front allowed to curl and fall into his eyes a little. Marnie thought for a second of Luke as a human, both under Kalibar’s spell, then the grey spell, but as much as Luke seemed changed, his goblin ears and nose were unmistakably his.

She had always loved watching him play his guitar, so serious and into it. The way he bit his bottom lip, and leaned into it with his knees, staring down at his instrument like the rest of the world had melted away. Marnie had always watched him practice alone in his room, or at band practices with the four boys, but she’d never seen him on stage before. He was more theatrical, more energetic. He dropped his head down as the guitar line sped up, swaying and rocking. Eddie was fist-pumping and shimmying across the stage next to Luke. On the other side of the stage, Gordo was jumping around with his bass, and Dan was pounding on the drums so hard he looked like he might break a stick.

The refrain came back and Eddie was shouting now. Gordo was head banging along with the drum line. Luke fell to his knees shredding his guitar, his brown curls falling in his eyes. He was right at the edge of the stage, right in front of Marnie. Marnie suddenly looked around to see she wasn’t the only girl crowding around the stage. They were giggling and dancing along, saying “so cute,” and “I love you.” Below the music line. Marnie suddenly felt self-conscious and strange, just standing there. But she didn’t want Luke to see her acting like the other fans. The song finally came to an end with one final strike to Luke’s guitar, and he finally looked up.

His brows knit for a second and his eyes widened. Marnie smiled and gave a little wave. A broad grin broke across Luke’s face, as he stood up again. Eddie swooped back to the mic and smirked right at Marnie.

“Tonight, I think we should do something new. We have a brand new song we’ve been working on, never before sung on stage. How would you like to hear that?”

There was a bellowing of cheers from the crowd. And one loud no on stage.

“Yes, Luke.”

“Not that one.”

“Yes, that one, you’ve got to!”

“Eddie.”

“There will be no better time than this.” He turned back to the crowd. “Luke is feeling a little bit shy tonight. Who thinks we should play the
new song anyway.”

There was another bout of cheering.

“Boys?” All the band nodded and put their thumbs up. “Sorry, Luke, the people have spoken. If you want, you can sing and I’ll play the guitar.”

Luke grimaced and walked himself and his guitar to the other end of the stage, past Gordo. But when Dan counted them in, he starting playing his part perfectly. This song was slower, a quieter guitar line and almost no drums. Then Eddie came in over top, soft and sad.

“The autumn wind is blowing here, through the leaves of gold,
I imagine you in your summer dress, and my nights feel so cold.
I’m a fool for stupid questions, like why don’t you just stay
And I know you have to leave, but I wish you’d say okay”

“They’re pretty good.” Dylan said, coming from behind.

“Where have you been?”

“Talking with a girl. She liked my glasses.”

 

After the show, Marnie made her way backstage and knocked on a wooden door that read “dressing room”. Eddie opened the door wide, now wearing a shirt, and pulled Marnie into a hug.

“If it isn’t our favorite inter-dimensional groupie!”

“Marnie!” Gordo and Dan pulled her down in the seat between them.

“We were wondering when Luke was going to break down and tell you to come visit.”

Marnie crossed her arms. “He didn’t.”

“What do you mean he didn’t?” Eddie asked.

“Luke didn’t say anything. I found the note on your fridge.”

“Oh, he’s in trouble now.” Dan said.

“How did you get let in, wearing that cloak?” Gordo asked, fingering Marnie’s purple cloak.

“Is it that really that bad?”

“It’s like wearing a Hello Kitty shirt to a punk concert.”

“Yeah, you better take it off before someone thinks you’re making fun of the mortal scene.”

Marnie sighed and undid her purple cloak. “But I’m half mortal.”

“So, what do you think of the show? Like our new song?” Eddie asked.

“You were all really great, did you write all the songs?”

“I wrote all the witty ones, Luke wrote all the sappy ones.” Eddie laughed.

“Are you guys playing here a lot now?”

“Yep, it’s our new gig.” Dan said. “Gerard, the guy who owns this place, he lets us stay in the hotel and pays us to play here every night.”

“We’re even going to produce our first album with him, once we get back from our tour.” Eddie said.

“Your tour?” Marnie asked.

Eddie sat on the coffee table. “Yep, hitting all the Halloweentown hotspots. It’ll only take a week, Halloweentown’s not that big. Still, it’s exciting, and the album’s great. Luke’s writing a bunch of new mushy songs for it. I’m sure you’ll love them.”

“Where is Luke anyway?” Marnie asked.

“Last I saw him, your boyfriend was moping around backstage.”

The door opened and Luke came in. “I wasn’t moping, I was rolling up all the cords. And I’m not her boyfriend.”

“Hi, Luke.” Marnie said, looking up into the goblin’s eyes.

“Hey, I wasn’t expecting to see you, Marnie.”

“I bet.”

“Do you want to go outside and talk?”

Marnie stood up and followed Luke out of the room and out a side door, up the stairs to the street. She stood with her arms crossed over her t-shirt, her cloak still back with the band. Luke stood, leaning against the brick wall and staring at Marnie.

“So,”

“So.” Marnie rubbed her arms and shivered a little.

“Are you cold? Here.” Luke took off the blue hoodie he’d put over his green flannel shirt and handed it to Marnie.

“Thanks.” She muttered, slipping it on. “You want to walk, or just stand?”

“We can walk.” Luke said.

They started around the block in no particular direction. Luke put his hands in his jean pockets, keeping a distance between the two of them.

“Why didn’t you just tell me this is what you were doing?” Marnie finally said.

“I thought you’d be angry.”

“I’m not angry.”

“You look angry.”

Marnie sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. “I didn’t know what had happened to you. You send me this vague mysterious note about being busy, then I can’t reach you on the witch’s glass, you don’t answer any of my letters.”

“You wrote to me?”

“Of course I wrote to you, didn’t you get them?”

“Mail through the portal isn’t very reliable normally, then Eddie got a warlock he knows to do a change of address spell on the house, but I
don’t know if it really worked. If I’d have gotten your letters, I’d have written back. And the witch’s glass is Dan’s fault, he broke it when we were moving everything into the car.”

“Alright.” Marnie sighed, “You still could have told me what was really going on, though. I mean, you’ve got a steady gig, you guys are making an album, you guys are really doing great. Why didn’t you want me to know?”

Luke rubbed the back of his neck. “I should have told you, it’s just, you know Eddie, he tends to exaggerate things.”

“You guys aren’t making a record?”

“Gerard’s a bit of a warlock, and he knows some spells to make albums, but he isn’t a proper producer. We’ll try to sell them at shows, but we might not make any money. And for all the shows we do, I’m getting paid about the same as I did for being a bus driver. We’re still just some indie band no one’s ever heard of.”

“Well, some indie bands become famous.”

“Yeah, and some of them become accountants. Marnie, I just didn’t want you to be disappointed if none of this works out and I have to give up and go back to school next semester.”

“Luke, you’re my best friend, I’m always going to be proud of you. If you become a rockstar, or a bus driver, or an accountant, I’ll be here to support you. Okay?”

“Okay.” Luke sighed, looking up at Marnie. “Why do you still look sad then?”

“I’m happy for you, really. I was just excited about you coming on the exchange. We’d have seen each other every day, and if I needed you or there was an intergalactic emergency you’d have been right down the hall. Now I have to go back to barely seeing you.”

“I know.” Luke stopped and pulled Marnie to his chest in a hug. “Would it help if I asked you to stay?”
Marnie looked up. “I can’t leave my training, or leave school. My mom would kill me.”

“I know, that’s why I didn’t ask. But if it would help, I could.”
Marnie wrapped her arms around Luke’s torso and nodded into his chest.

“You can come on tour with us, and be our stage manager. You can take care of all the magic effects. We’ll live off dry cereal and Gordo’s burnt casseroles. We’ll drive anywhere you want to see. And in the winter we’ll vacation in the human world. We’ll get a cottage out in the middle of nowhere in the wilderness, somewhere where no one will see me and I’ll become a wive’s tale. Late on a full moon night you can hear the sounds of a goblin screwing up his guitar solo, whispers of ‘shit, let me start over’ drifting across the mountain ranges. And we’ll go visit your mom for Christmas and she’ll look at us disapprovingly and Dylan will say ‘that’s what you get for marrying a musician’, but your mom will still ask us to stay and extra week and give us containers of leftovers for the trip.”

“We’d be married?”

“What?” Luke let go of Marnie.

“You said that’s what you get for marrying a musician.”

“Well, tradition and all that. You can’t just run off with four single guys in a band, people would talk.”

“Right.” Marnie took a step back to look up at Luke. “Don’t ask me to come with you.”

“Okay.” Luke turned away.

“It’s too hard to say no to that.” Marnie whispered under her breath.

“I guess we should get back.” Luke turned back the way they came. “You and Dylan probably need to get home.”

“We probably should. I told mom we were going to the mall.”

Luke and Marnie started their return to the backstage door. Luke fell silent and stuck his hands in his pockets.

“Can I come and visit you again?” Marnie asked quietly.

“You want to?”

“Of course I want to, stupid.”

“Okay.” Luke muttered, smiling.

“And keep in touch with me. Don’t disappear again.”

“I promise.”

Chapter Text

It was the first day of school and Marnie was running around like her head was missing, trying to remember everyone’s names and schedules, plus her own, plus keep an eye on her Grandma, plus keep an eye out for any danger. She thought she saw a straggler and pulled on his sweater, and that’s how she met Cody.

She didn’t think much of it until she saw him again in Science class. He seemed nice enough, and like he could be a friend, if she just had a little less on her plate right now. Except she already had too much to do. When she wasn’t worrying about the fate of the universe, her family, or the other students, she found herself worrying about Luke, and when she was done with that, she had just enough time to worry about her studies to pass. Still, when he met her outside the school the next day and said he’d waited after school, she felt bad about how hard he was trying.

So, when he wrote her a note in History, asking her out, she sighed and decided the best course of action was to write back, “Sorry, I can’t.”

She left the classroom slowly, expecting Cody to confront her, and when she got to a more secluded hallway, Cody called from behind her. She stopped to meet him.

“It’s fine that you don’t want to go out with me. But can I ask why not? I thought we were getting along.”

“Oh, no, it’s nothing you’ve done, you’re really nice. It’s just-“ Marnie thought about all the things going on in her life right now, all the things she couldn’t tell anyone. She decided it was safer to lie. “It’s just that I already have a boyfriend.”

“Oh.” Cody said, taken aback, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I’ve just never seen you around school with a guy.”

“Well, that’s cause he isn’t in school.” Marnie said, trying to think fast. “He’s on tour with his band right now.”

She sighed with relief. That was a good lie, the issue was over.

“That’s cool, would I have heard of them?”

Why was he still talking to her? “Probably not, they’re pretty indie. Their band is called The Blue Collar Creeps.” She said the first thing she thought of.

“I don’t think I’ve heard of them. So you’re dating the lead singer, or…?”

“Luke’s the guitarist, and he writes a lot of the songs too.”

“Cool, I’ll keep a lookout for them. Anyway, I guess I should leave you alone, since you turned me down.”

“We can still sit together in class, and be friends. Unless you don’t want to.” Marnie said.

“Alright, I’ll see you in class then.”

Marnie was about to sigh in relief as Cody left her alone, about to thank the heavens her lies worked. Then Dylan stepped out from an alcove, grinning.

“So, you’re boyfriend’s in a band, huh?”

“Oh, shut up.” Marnie Whined.

 

The witches’ glass rung after dinner and Dylan answered it, expecting another parent from one of the exchange students. Instead, Luke was staring back at him from the mirror.

“Hey, Dylan, can you get Marnie for me?”

“Sure thing.” Dylan didn’t really mind the Goblin, but he couldn’t resist. Dylan walked up the stairs, calling, “Marnie, your boyfriend is on the witches’ glass!”

Marnie stuck her head out her door. “What are you talking about?”

“Luke’s calling you.” Dylan handed the mirror to her.

“Luke isn’t my boyfriend.” She argued, taking the glass, not looking at Luke’s upside down face.

“You’re telling other guys Luke’s your boyfriend, the least you could do is tell Luke himself.” Dylan smirked.

“Do you want to spend another night on the ceiling?”

That shut Dylan up, and Marnie was able get back into her room, closing the door. She sat on her bed and finally looked at the witches’ glass, hoping Luke had missed all that. Judging by the smirk on his face, he’d heard it all.

“Luke, hi. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.”

“I just wanted to let you know I got the witches’ glass fixed, so you can get ahold of me now. What’s this about telling people I’m your boyfriend?”

“That’s not what happened!” Marnie was turning red with embarrassment, and Luke was openly laughing at her. “This boy at school asked me out, and I couldn’t tell him why I really couldn’t date him…”

“Oh.” Luke wasn’t grinning anymore. “And why can’t you date him? You just don’t like him?”

“He’s alright, I guess. But I’m swamped with the exchange program and the magic council, and this whole knight thing, I’m sure you’ve heard what they say is going on. Well, I couldn’t tell this guy any of that, so I just lied and said I had a boyfriend. That’s it.”

“And Dylan’s teasing you about just that?”

“Well, you see, then this guy started asking, if I’ve got a boyfriend, why aren’t we ever at school together. And I just said the first thing that came to mind, that he was touring with his band. Which I admit, sounds a bit like you, but not much, and I was flustered.”

“Okay, that’s fine.”

“Except, then he started asking all sorts of questions, what was the band’s name and what did my pretend boyfriend do in the band and all sorts of things, and you know I’m not great at lying out of the blue.”

“So,” Luke said with a smile, “You did tell this guy you were dating me.”

“Look, it’s not my fault. It’s his fault for not taking a hint and for asking so many questions.”

“Alright, I’ll stop making fun of you.” Luke said. “How is everything else going, you haven’t actually seen a knight have you?”

“Everything is going fine here, but we’re still on edge. Did you just call to say you got the witch’s glass fixed?”

“Well, you told me to keep in touch, so I am. And now you know if you need me, you can just call me up.”

“Thanks for letting me know.”

Behind Luke, Marnie could hear the clattering of pots and pans, and Gordo’s voice.

“I should probably let you go.” Luke muttered. But before he could hang up, Gordo came into view with pot holders over his hands.

“Marnie, is that you? How are you!”

“I’m fine Gordo, how are you.”

“I’m great. When are you coming to dinner? I’m making mealworm and rice casserole tonight, you should come over.”

“No, Gordo I can’t.” Marnie said, cringing.

“But you can! That’s the whole point of the portal being open, you can come visit whenever you want.”

“Well, I’m really busy tonight, and I’ve already eaten. It’s nearly ten o’clock here.”

“Alright, some other night then. But you make sure she comes and visits, Luke.”

Chapter Text

After the attack at the mall, after her mother’s pep talk and speaking to the other exchange students, Marnie went back upstairs in her blue pyjamas with the tea pot of hot chocolate her mother had made for her.
She tucked herself into bed and opened the book on her bedside table to read. But she found herself re-reading the same paragraph over and over. She huffed out a sigh and closed the book. She just couldn’t concentrate after everything that had happened that day. So she settled down into her pillows and turned off the light. When her eyes closed, all the worried flooded back into her mind. The danger she was in, that all of them were in. The council yelling at her, planning to take away her magic if she didn’t fix everything herself in a week. And Grandma Aggie yelling at her. That was the worst. Sure, most of the exchange students seemed okay, and her mom said she had done the right thing. But Marnie couldn’t help feeling everything was her fault. It was all her fault and she had to fix it and she didn’t know how to. She started to sniffle and mope and hate herself more, the longer she thought about it. She couldn’t take wallowing anymore, so she turned on the lamp and pulled the witches glass out of her drawer.
Luke’s face came into focus as Marnie wiped away the fresh tears in her eyes.
“Hey, Marnie.” Luke muttered, fuddling with his guitar in his lap before paying attention to the glass. Then Luke’s face dropped. “What’s wrong?”
“Everything,” Marnie whispered, “There was an attack – no one’s hurt.” She said quickly. “I think it was just meant to be a threat. But everyone’s terrified and I got yelled at by the council and Grandma Aggie’s pissed at me and I just need…” Marnie wiped at her face again, not knowing what to say. Thinking I just need you.
“Do you want to…” Luke began, then turned to focus on a guitar string, “We can talk on the witches’ glass, or you could come over here, if you want, If you can. What time is it there?”
“It’s 12:30 at night. I can’t sleep.” Marnie sniffled. “Can I come see you?” Marnie asked.
“Of course.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.”
Marnie found a scrap of paper from her desk and scribbled a quick note about seeing Luke on it. She had learned her lesson before. Her mother might be mad about her sneaking off to see boys in the middle of the night but she’d be more upset if she thought something else had happened. She left the note on her pillow and opened the portal to Halloweentown, focussing on going to Luke’s location.
She stepped through the portal into a small dorm style bedroom in the hotel the band was now inhabiting. Marnie smiled at how little anything had changed. Luke was still content to live in chaos, clothes flung with abandon. Boxes of snacks next to the few books he had, papers strewn across the unmade bed next to his guitar. He had obviously been working on his music. Luke pulled her into a tight hug and she sighed into his chest, feeling a bit better already.
“You okay?”
Marnie nodded.
“You want to talk about it?” He asked.
“No.” Marnie moved back and looked up at Luke. “I just need a distraction. And a lot of hugs.”
“Okay.” Luke moved his guitar and went back to sitting on his bed, pulling Marnie with him.”
She shifted on the bed, and handed him some music sheets she was half laying on. “Were you writing?”
“Just practicing. Eddie’s putting the finishing touches on the album and then we’re going to have a bunch of shows with all our new songs.”
Luke moved his guitar more and sat against the head board in the middle of the bed to give Marnie more room, though his arm was still around her shoulder. Marnie shifted with him, not wanting to lose his touch. She leaned her head against his shoulder and wrapped an arm around his stomach.
“Keep practicing then.” Marnie said.
“You sure? You don’t need to talk or vent or anything?”
“I like hearing you play.” Was all Marnie said. She already felt so much better in his arms.
Luke positioned his acoustic guitar on his lap, reaching around Marnie to play the frets. Marnie let her head slip to Luke’s chest and wrapped her arms loosely around him. She closed her eyes and laid listening for a long time to the sound of the strings, feeling the vibrations of his strumming, briefly noticing his small slip ups, and the occasional one big enough to stop him and make him begin again. Luke was definitely getting better at playing, making much less mistakes, playing more naturally than he was this summer. After several minutes, Marnie raised her head slightly.
“Aren’t you going to sing for me?” she asked.
“No.” Luke said seriously.
“But how can I tell you if the song’s any good if I only hear the guitar and not the words. Please sing.”
“The only one’s I have memorized yet are the ones I wrote. And they’re all really personal.”
Marnie sighed and shifted a little. “I am allowed to listen to them some time aren’t I? I plan to be at your release party, and I am going to listen to the album.”
“I know.” Luke argued. “But there’s a difference between you listening to the song and me singing the song to you.”
“Whatever, you’re no fun.” Marnie said, smiling. “When is the release party?”
“A week and a bit, so for you that’s…”
“The morning after tomorrow.” Marnie said. “I’ll swing by before I have to go to class, but I’ll only be able to stay for an hour or two.”
“That’s fine.”
Luke went on playing. Marnie tucked her bare feet under his crumpled comforter to keep them warm. Luke stopped for a moment and untangled himself from Marnie. He pulled the blankets out from under him and tucked her into the warmer bed, then went back to sitting on top of the blankets. Marnie repositioned herself on his chest before he began playing again.
“You really should be sleeping.” Luke muttered.
“I told you, I couldn’t sleep. And even if I stay up for three hours here, It will still be 1 am there.”
“Alright.”
Luke looked down at Marnie and smiled, wishing he did have the courage to sing to her. But he couldn’t bear the rejection in person. If she listened to the cd herself she could just choose not to come back. That would hurt less somehow.
Marnie smiled up at him through half-lidded eyes, obviously sleepy. She reached up and ran her thumb and finger from the tip of Luke’s long ear down to the inner conch and rubbed in little circles. Luke’s fingers faltered and he let his eyes close in pleasure for a second before tipping his head, pulling his ear from her grip.
“Don’t do that.” Luke said.
“You’ve been telling me not to since the first time I touched them, but you obviously like it when I do.” Marnie said, her hand still hanging in mid air, but not moving to stroke him again.
“You don’t understand what you’re doing.” Luke said, “It’s different for goblins, our ears are sensitive.”
“So?”
Marnie let her finger trail down the edge of his ear again. This time Luke took Marnie’s small hand in his long goblin fingers and placed it back down near his chest.
“In my culture it’s not appropriate to touch just anyone’s ears. Especially if you don’t even know it’s a big deal.” Luke huffed.
Marnie grumbled and hugged Luke tighter. “In my culture, it’s not appropriate to be laying on top of someone in their bed in the middle of the night.” She bit back.
“I’m not in bed with you, I’m on top of the covers.” Luke pointed out. “And it’s the middle of the afternoon here.”
“Well that’s good, my mother will be so relieved.”
Luke looked fearful and unsure again, shifting his body away from hers just a little. Marnie should have pitied the obviously flustered boy, but the urge to kiss him was unbearable, and knowing that she couldn’t cause it would push him away entirely was infuriating. She sat up and whispered into his ear, closer than she needed to be, almost touching his ear with her lips.
“All I’m saying is if you and I both like doing something, we shouldn’t worry about what the rest of the worlds think about it.”
She stayed close to him for a moment, debating kissing his ear, hoping he’d turn to kiss her. Luke didn’t move a muscle. She gave up and laid down, but not in his lap again. She turned away from him and laid down beside him, her back to him. Luke didn’t move for a long moment, he moved his hand back to the frets on his guitar but didn’t begin to play. He moved his sheet music closer and got ready to strum when someone banged on the door.
“Luke!” Eddie called from the other side of the door.
“No!” Luke shouted back.
“Stop moping in your room all day!” Eddie called loudly as he opened the door anyway, then stopped in his tracks, seeing the body next to him. “Sorry, I didn’t realise someone was in here with you.” Eddie said.
“Marnie couldn’t sleep.” Luke said, not looking Eddie in the eyes.
“Marnie! You mean that’s Marnie?” Eddie laughed. “Hi Marnie.”
Marnie said nothing and didn’t move.
“What do you want?” Luke asked, starting to get annoyed.
“Album’s done.” Eddie tossed the case across the room to the foot of Luke’s bed. “You wanted one for her right?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Luke said, not moving to take the case.
“Right.” Eddie said, looking sheepish now for barging in. “I’ll just go then. Leave you two alone.” Eddie back out of the room and closed the door again.
Marnie sat up to take the album in her hands.
“You see?” Luke said, sounding more angry than he meant to. “Now Eddie’s going to think something’s going on between us.”
“I already told you, I don’t care what people think.” Marnie laid away from him, holding the cd. “This is mine?”
“Yeah I was going to drop it off when they were done.” Luke mumbled.
There was a long stretch of silence between them as Luke began to play again and Marnie opened the cd. It looked just like any other cd in the human world. It had a blue album cover, with just their name “Blue Collar Creeps” on it. The cd inside was the same blue. Marnie took the book out of the plastic case and flipped through it, trying to word the question in her mind.
“Do you have lots of girls in here with you?” Marnie asked.
“Yeah.” Luke laughed. Marnie stared up at him, “So many Eddie didn’t think twice about barging in after I shouted no.”
Marnie yawned and flipped through the album book. There were black and white photos of the band, one of them playing a show, Eddie singing into the mic, Luke looking gorgeous with his guitar, like a real rock star. There were photos of them fooling around, Luke scowling as he was the only one rolling up cords and cleaning as the other boys rough housed. Gordo trying to feed Dan a spoonful of something from a pot, and Dan making a face. Luke in the backroom, covered in papers, showing Eddie something he’d wrote.
The last page had a list of their songs and Marnie could tell by the names alone if it was Eddie’s song or Luke’s. 1. Bored for Centuries, that would be Eddie’s punk rant. 2. Fangs and Feather Boas, a faster song to get crowds dancing and swooning. 3. Thirteen, Luke’s ballad with nostalgia for the past, where he will want all the great things back and forget all the horrible things of being thirteen. 4. Stay With Me, a love song of Luke’s. 5. At Last We’re Here, a song from everyone about the band crawling their way to semi-success. 6. Worlds Away, another of Luke’s about wanting to be in the human world. 7. Make me Shake, Eddie doing another fast dance hit. 8. Dead, Not Gone, Eddie’s ballad, basically about his life, but fancier. 9. Autumn Wind, Summer Sun, that was the song she heard them sing at their last show. 10. I’m a Coward (Acoustic), that one was more of a mystery. They never did anything acoustic. Maybe Gordo or Dan had written something or got the idea, though it could be Luke too.
Marnie yawned again.
“If you’re tired you can go.” Luke said.
Marnie turned and slid back between Luke and his guitar. “Sing me one song, then I’ll go home and sleep. Autumn wind, summer sun. That’s the one you did at the show right? So I can hear it again, since I’ve already heard it.
Luke sighed and shifted his arm better around Marnie. He began to play and sung quietly the words. It was another ballad of Luke’s about Halloweentown only having the one season of Autumn, of wanting to spend summer in the human world but not being able to. But about a specific girl in her pretty summer dress, something barely ever seen in Halloweentown. Marnie almost wanted to ask who the song was about, but she didn’t think she wanted to have a name to put to all the feelings of love Luke was singing about. Wanting to kiss her, wanting to lay with her in the sun. No, Marnie didn’t want to know. Instead, she hugged him closer to her and imagined it was her he was singing about. The song ended and Marnie didn’t want to move. Luke laid his guitar down and wrapped his arms around Marnie. One hand fell on her back and the other stroked her long hair. He tucked a strand behind her ear and stroked the tiny rounded curve of her ear with his thumb again. He was such a hypocrite. He wouldn’t let her touch his ears just because she didn’t know what it meant to him, that it was the goblin equivalent of a kiss. But he had no problem rubbing her ears and never telling her how much that meant to him. Like he had written, he was a coward. He sighed, knowing this was the last time he’d be able to touch her like this. After she listened to that cd, she’d know everything. She’d probably never speak to him again.
“You should go home.” Luke whispered.
Marnie moaned and sat up slowly. She took her album and cast the spell for the portal. Before she walked through she turned back to Luke and hugged him.
“Thanks for tonight, I feel better. And I’ll see you soon okay?”
Luke barely looked at her but he was determined to say it. “If you don’t make it to the show, or if you don’t want to come, it’s okay. I’ll understand.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Marnie said, “I’m coming.”
“Okay, but if you change your mind. Just know it’s okay.”
Marnie sighed. “I won’t, but alright. Good night. Or good afternoon, whatever.” She smiled and walked through the portal.
Luke kept up his smile until the portal closed, then he collapsed back on his bed, trying to hold onto the warmth where she used to be, trying not to cry.

Chapter Text

Marnie fell asleep listening to Luke’s new cd, dreaming of the two of them together, his strong arms around her, her lips feather light along his pointed ears.

She was woken up early by Ethan banging on her bedroom door, telling her to get up. She sighed and looked at her clock. It was half an hour before her alarm went off, and she shouted that back at the blonde warlock.

Ethan opened her bedroom door tentatively. “did you forget about the meeting for the Halloween fair?”

Marnie had.

With a lot of rushing and a bit of magic, Ethan and Marnie both arrived at the meeting looking great, with five minutes to spare. Cody, apparently also on the council waved at Marnie, and pointed to a seat next to him. Ethan straightened his bow tie as they made their way over.

“Who’s the hunk?”

“Just a friend, Cody.”

“He doesn’t happen to, you know…” Ethan looked hopeful.

“I don’t think so.” Marnie said. She had gotten used to Ethan’s little social cues in the last months. He was either asking if Cody knew about Halloweentown, or if he liked boys. Judging by the way Ethan fixed his hair, she assumed he meant the latter.

They sat next to Cody, who was still being a little too friendly with Marnie, like he was hoping she would change her mind, but at least he was being sweet about his crush and not forceful. The meeting went well, with little problem. To be honest, Marnie didn’t pay much attention, letting Ethan field most of the questions about the booth. She was caught up thinking about Luke last night, and about the attack the day before. It must have been someone from Halloweentown, that’s the only explanation to why no one was hurt.

She was snapped back to reality as Cody turned to her and said, “Your boyfriend’s in a band, isn’t he?”

“What?” Marnie asked.

The teacher running the meeting turned to Cody. “You had a suggestion for music at the fair?”

“I was only saying that Marnie’s boyfriend is in a band. Maybe they could do it.”

Marnie was already wishing she’d never said anything to Cody, then Ethan turned to her looking curious and made it worse.

“Your boyfriend? Who’s he?”

She turned toward Cody to see him looking innocent and like he was actually trying to be supportive. She turned back to Ethan looking sheepish, wishing she’d never lied. There was no way this wasn’t going to get back to everyone in Halloweentown. But Cody was sitting right there, she couldn’t tell the truth now. “I’m dating Luke from the Blue Collar Creeps.”

Ethan’s mouth dropped open for a second before he began chattering excitedly. “Oh my god, I love them! They have the best shows and the funnest songs and they’re just the best band in all of…the town I came from.” Ethan finished, remembering he was in a room full of humans.

Cody looked like he finally wasn’t questioning Marnie, now that someone else knew this supposed boyfriend. The teacher at the front looked overjoyed at the chance to have some real talent without having to blow their budget.

“How about it, Marnie?” The teacher said. “The budget we have is one hundred dollars to hire a band for the night. Do you think they’d be interested?

“I’ll ask them, but I’m sure they’d love to do the show.”

“Would they be able to play Halloween music?” One girl asked.

“Yes. That would be no problem for them.” Marnie said.

After the meeting, Ethan kept walking down the hall, nattering on about how amazing it was someone he knew was dating someone from the Blue Collar Creeps. Marnie pulled his sleeve and dragged him into a corner.

“Before you go spreading gossip to everyone we know. I’m not dating Luke.”

“What? But you said…”

“I lied. I made it up last month when Cody asked me out, so I told him I already had a boyfriend.”

Ethan’s face fell. “But we just told the whole school we were going to get them to play here. How are we supposed to do that if you don’t actually know them?”

“I do know the band.” Marnie said. “Luke and I have been friends for years. We’re just not dating, that’s all. And I’d appreciate if you kept up the lie when Cody’s around.”

“Oh, well that’s fine.” Ethan said. “Hey, do you know they’re making an album, I think they’re having a release party coming up soon.”

“I’m going tomorrow morning.” Marnie said,

“oh my god you are so lucky!” Ethan said.

Marnie laughed as Ethan gossiped cheerfully, walking to their first class.

 

She slid into their secret hideout behind the lockers at lunch to make a quick call to Luke.

Luke’s face seemed to fill with dread as he answered the witch’s glass. “Marnie, you want to talk to me?”

“I’ve got to be fast, I’m on my lunch.” Marnie said. “But I got you guys a gig, if you want it.”

“What?”

“Here, in the human world, for our Halloween fair. Dan and Gordo will probably need to wear human suits, but Eddie’s fine, and I can probably just shrink your nose and ears a bit with a spell. It pays a hundred dollars, plus you’d be here for Halloween night, which I could really use with all the threats and stress. What do you think?”

“Did you listen to the album?” Luke asked, out of the blue.

“Not really, I put it on last night but fell asleep pretty fast. I’ll listen to the whole thing tonight.” Marnie smiled.

Luke frowned. “You better talk to Eddie about the show.” He muttered then passed the glass over to the vampire.

“What’s this I hear about a show?”

“What’s wrong with Luke?” Marnie asked.

“You know, the usual. He’ll be fine when he sees you at the show. You’re still coming, right?”

“Of course I am, now about this show.”

“Right,”

 

Marnie could hardly contain herself after school, she decided the best bet was to wait until everything else was done and dealt with, then she could lock herself in her room and give all her attention to Luke’s album without anyone bothering her. But first she had to make it through Dylan and her mother.

“I’m not sure you should be going to Halloweentown tomorrow morning.” Her mother said.

“But Mom, it’s Luke’s release party and I’ve already promised him, and all the guys. They even moved it to an earlier time so I could make it before school.”

“It’s dangerous, Marnie, especially with the new threats.”

“I already picked out my outfit, and if you remember, we’re being attacked here, so I should be safer in Halloweentown.”

“Alright.” Gwen sighed, “But I don’t want you going alone.”

“Ooh, me, I’ll go!” Ethan called from the door jamb he was leaning against.

“Ah, thank you, Ethan, but I don’t think risking one of the kids we’re supposed to watch is a good solution.”

“I’ll go.” Dylan sighed. “Chaperoning Marnie, as usual, as long as you promise I don’t have to talk to Eddie. Gordo and Dan are fine, but Eddie’s just too much.”

“Alright, Dylan. Make sure you look out for anything funny, at least someone there will have a level head.” Gwen patted her son’s shoulder and left the kitchen.

“Thanks Dylan,” Marnie hugged her brother, and turned to finish making her lunch for the next day.

“I wish I could go.” Ethan sighed, “I love that band.”

“Do you want to come with me?” Dylan asked.

“Really, you’re inviting me.”

“Why not, I’m already looking after Marnie, I can watch you too.”

Ethan let out a small stutter. “Sure, Dylan, I’d love to go with you.”

“Oh, brother.” Marnie sighed under her breath.

“As long as you don’t think the guys will mind one more, do you Marnie?”

“Of course not, one more fan just makes them more popular. I’ll see you both in the living room at 7:30 sharp, then we can be back by 8 and go to school, okay?”

The boys nodded and Marnie finally escaped to her room. She turned the lights off except her bedside lamp, laid comfortably on her bed with headphones covering her ears, closed her eyes, and turned on her discman.

She laughed along with the first song, Bored for Centuries. Eddie’s raspy voice rattling off lists in sing song. “I’ve sung these songs, wrote all the lines, and I’ve beat Zelda sixteen times. I’ve done pain and love and a broken heart, traveled all these roads on a horse and cart. Watches every show that’s ever been, cause I’ve been bored for centuries.” Fangs and Feather Boas was another of Eddie’s making her want to sway her hips and dance.

Then she got into Luke’s first song and was surprised. She figured Thirteen would be nostalgic and it was, but it wasn’t about the troubles of adolescence. It was a love song about a kiss. The song started quiet and almost sadly, a lonely misunderstood kid, then she came and things started cheering up, then she kissed him and the song ends in a crescendo of a guitar solo. Marnie tries not to think too much about who Luke was kissing, and decides to close her eyes and let herself daydream it’s her.

Stay with me was more sad than Marnie liked hearing Luke be. Even through Eddie’s voice, she could tell the slow guitar riffs and the words were Luke’s. “If you’d leave your life I could let mine fall, and we could go nowhere at all. We’ll make a life in the in-between, if only you would stay with me. I know you can’t but I wish you would, I’d give you my world if I only could. Just stay with me.”

The next song, At Last We’re Here, was jarring after the quiet love song. Though Marnie did appreciate the lack of special or magical effects on their album. The sound wasn’t enhanced or corrected like most studio albums, it sounded exactly like a recording of one of their live shows would have, and that made Marnie smile. She could even hear Luke singing without a mic in the background on some parts.

Worlds away was a faster one of Luke’s, and again Marnie closed her eyes, pretending it was her that her best friend was singing to. They were worlds away right now, and she missed him. Like the song said, she wished she could be there, just jump that little portal and be with him again. She was so close, yet so far away.

She felt a little bad doing it, but she skipped over the next two songs not written by Luke. She was enjoying her day dreams of the two of them together, and didn’t want it ruined by one of Eddie’s punk-rock masterpieces.

Autumn Wind, Summer Sun came on next, and she could nearly sing along with it now. After the third time listening, she could catch the tiny little details, and though she was probably grasping at straws, she let her mind connect those little details to her, like Luke really was writing about the two of them.

 

“The autumn wind is blowing here, through the leaves of gold,

I imagine you in your summer dress, and my nights feel so cold.

I’m a fool for stupid questions, like why don’t you just stay

And I know you have to leave, but I wish you’d say okay

 

It’s that stupid little smile when everything goes wrong

And then you’re grabbing at my hand and pulling me along

I grab the ribbon of your dress, so not to fall behind

Your green plaid dress, the bow untied, keeps passing through my mind.”

 

Marnie breathes in deeply, hoping it isn’t just coincidence. When she’d visited this summer, she’d worn a green summer dress, and they’d ran through the forest trying to catch the pixie that took their picnic. Their hands kept slipping with sweat, so he’d grabbed the bow at the back of her dress and held onto the tails so they wouldn’t get separated.

The song ended and Marnie smiled up at the ceiling, listening to the slow beginning of the last song, the one called I’m a Coward that had stumped her before. It was all acoustic guitar, not bass or drums, and when the singing started, Marnie was surprised to hear it was Luke singing, not Eddie.

 

“I tried to tell you I loved you, the first time we met,

But I was young and miserable and you hated me

I tried to tell you at the bus stop, but wasn’t ready yet

I tried to tell you when you saved the world, but you didn’t see

I tried to tell you last night in my bed, when I stroked your ear

But maybe we’re too different, or maybe it’s just fear.

 

 

I tried to write a song for you, to show you how I feel

That song became an album cause there’s too much to reveal

The way your touch can make me melt, your smile make me sing

And when you leave me through that arch I just can’t feel a thing

 

Maybe I’m a coward like you always knew I was

Maybe I’m a coward cause I can’t show you my love

It’s not that I haven’t tried before, just that I always fail

And my thoughts and my excuses have all become so stale

 

I try to tell you you’re the only one, but then I don’t

I wish that you would love me too, but I know you won’t

Who could ever love a monster, a goblin like me

And I’ll never be the man that I wish I could be.

 

Maybe I’m a coward like you always knew I was

I’d rather say it on an album than face your disgust

And if this is the last time that you hear me in months

Know that I’m a coward but, Marnie, I meant this for once.”

 

Marnie spent a long time listening to the static of the end of the album. She was dumbstruck, not only by the confession, it was all for her, but by the pain in Luke’s voice, by the fear in his words. Surely he had to know how she felt about him, he at least must know she wasn’t going to leave. They’d been dancing around each other for years, most of it Marnie’s doing, the touching, the late night talks, the hugs, telling him she wanted him there beside her this year, when she visited, whenever there was danger. No one could be so self-deprecating to not know she at least cared about him a bit. Not even Luke. Right? Marnie frowned, and wiped a tear from her eye and started the cd over again, listening to all the songs Luke had written for her over and over until she fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Marnie climbed down the stairs to find Dylan already waiting on the living room couch in his favorite sweater vest.

“We ready to go?” Marnie asked, putting on more lip gloss.

“Just waiting for Ethan.” Dylan stood up.

“Sorry, sorry, couldn’t pick a shirt.” Ethan said, showing his outfit to Marnie for approval. An orange polo shirt and brown slim jeans cuffed at the bottom.

“You look wonderful, let’s go before Mom changes her mind.” Marnie said.

Ethan grinned at the compliment and held onto Dylan’s arm with his two hands. Dylan’s glasses began to fog up, and he took them off to clean them.

The portal opened up into the big open room where the band usually played shows. It was quite cramped as Marnie and the boys walked through the portal, obviously there had been a good turn out. The chatter was nearly deafening.

“I need to go find Luke.” Marnie said.

“I’ll keep an eye on the time.” Dylan said.

“And I’ll go get us drinks!” Ethan said. “Latte? Latte?” He asked, pointing at his friends. They both nodded and he went off. Marnie laughed as Dylan not even a bit subtly watched the blonde leave.

“You’ve got it bad.” Marnie muttered.

“What, don’t be stupid.” Dylan said defensively. “I like girls, remember?”

Marnie sighed. “But seriously Dylan, you can like more than one thing. It’s like chips or cookies. You don’t have to pick just one.”

“And that’s why you’re so fat.” Dylan muttered.

Marnie punched him in the arm and they went their separate ways.

“Did you see who just showed up?” Gordo clapped Luke on the shoulder. “I told you she wasn’t going to just leave you.”

“Great,” Luke moped, “She’s mad enough that she had to tell me off in person.”

“Or maybe she just wants to see you.” Gordo said, but Luke obviously wasn’t going to listen.

He walked away from the couch they were perching on and passed Marnie making her way to the goblin

“I warn you, he’s moping pretty badly.” Gordo whispered as they passed.

Luke watched Marnie approach then turned his head away, picking at the arm of the couch.

“Luke.”

“I see you made it.”

“Yeah, I – uh – I listened to the album.” Marnie smiled, but Luke wouldn’t look at her.

“Okay.”

“Can I sit down?”

“It’s a free country.” Luke muttered.

Marnie sat down next to the Goblin. There was an awkward silence between them. Finally, Marnie said what she wanted to.

“I think we should talk, Luke. We probably should have a long time ago. I thought we understood each other, but I guess there’s still some confusion. Maybe we could find somewhere quieter than this?”

Luke focussed on staring at the couch arm and biting his lip to stop his eyes watering.

“Luke?” Marnie whispered.

“Here, Marnie.” Ethan said.

Both of them looked up to see the blonde boy holding out one of three mugs of coffee to Marnie. Marnie took it from Ethan, looking sheepish, Luke stared at him like he was going to kill the other boy.

“Anyway, I should go find Dylan.” Ethan said, walking away quickly.

Luke watched the boy Marnie had brought walk away. He remembered Ethan from middle school, handsome, popular, a talented warlock, from a good family. The perfect sort of person for a Cromwell to end up with.

Luke squared his shoulders and stood up, still not looking at Marnie. “I have to find Eddie. We’re going to play a couple songs. We can talk after that.” He walked off toward the stage and left Marnie alone.

Dylan made his away to the couch Marnie was sitting at when the band began to play, followed soon after by Ethan, who sat between the two. All three sipped their lattes in silence and watched the boys play. They played all their upbeat songs Eddie had written, and none of the ones Luke had. Marnie’s mood dropped the more she watched Luke play half-heartedly.

“How goes it?” Dylan asked Marnie.

“He said he’d talk to me after they finished playing.” Marnie muttered.

“Anyone want to dance?” Ethan asked after a long pause.

“No.” Marnie whispered.

“Dylan?”

Dylan froze as his glasses fogged up again. “Me? No, I couldn’t.”

The trio went back to leaning into the couch in silence.

Eddie sang a few songs and the crowd cheered. He made a speech about their new album and some upcoming shows and the crowd cheered. Then They cleared off the stage and Marnie waited on the couch for Luke to come back. She waited one minute, two minutes, five minutes. Finally Eddie came to find her.

“Luke isn’t going to come talk to you, he’s too busy freaking out back stage.” Eddie said. “I don’t think you came here meaning to hurt him, but in hindsight, you probably shouldn’t have brought another guy to his show.” Eddie even sounded pissed off at Marnie.

“I didn’t!” Marnie said, while Eddie glared at Ethan. “Ethan? He’s not with me, he’s with Dylan.”

“No he isn’t!” Dylan said, sounding scared.

“Yes he is!” Marnie got angry at her brother.

“No he isn’t!”

“Yes I am!” Ethan said, turning to Dylan. “You asked me to come, I’m here with you.” Ethan put emphasis on the last word.

Dylan looked worriedly from Eddie to his sister. “I asked you but not like – I mean. we’re not together, together.” Dylan huffed. His glasses were beginning to fog again.

Ethan threw his hands in the air. “That’s it. I’m giving up on men.”

“Ethan.” Marnie said, trying to sound sympathetic.

Ethan stood up and distanced himself from the group. “No, Marnie, nothing ever goes right! You flirt with them for months, you think things are going okay, you think maybe they like you, but they never do! Either they’re liars, or they’re ass holes, or they’re dumber than pumpkins! I’m serious, Dylan, I have met actual sentient vegetables who are more socially aware than you are! I just can’t do it anymore!” With that, Ethan turned on his heel and stormed out.

“Ethan!” Marnie called after the blonde, but he was already half-way to the door. “Look what you did now!” She said, smacking Dylan on the arm.

“Me?”

“Go after him!” Marnie shouted at her brother, pointing toward the door.

Dylan looked trapped.

“Dylan, Ethan likes you, he actually likes you!” Marnie said, cornering her brother into the edge of the couch. “Not because you do his homework, not because you’re pretending to be someone else, and not because you’ve been trying way too hard. He knows you’re a geek who thinks AP calculus is fun, he knows you’re a warlock, he knows you gawk at boys just as much as you gawk at girls. And he still likes you! Don’t screw this up just cause you’re worried that a bunch of ass holes at our school aren’t going to accept you. They already don’t accept you and they don’t even know about all the weird magic.”

“But, Mom…” Dylan said.

“We’ll figure that out later. If you don’t go after him right now, you’ll never get another shot with him and you’ll regret it forever. You know you will.” Marnie finished.

Dylan looked sadly at the front door, then at his sister, and stood up. Finally, he went after Ethan and did something intelligent in his life. Marnie stood up after him and walked forcefully toward the back stage door.

“Where are you going now?” Eddie asked, still bewildered about everything that had happened.

“I have a goblin to shout at!” Marnie called back.

She pushed her way angrily through the crowd until she got to the warm-up room they used and threw open the door. Luke was hugging his guitar and looked like he’d been crying. Gordo was rubbing his back sitting on the couch, and Dan was in front of him talking softly. All three looked up when the door banged against the opposite wall.

“You two, out. You, we need to talk.” Marnie said.

Gordo and Dan got off the couch, looking a bit scared, “Marnie…”

“out!” She slammed the door closed behind them, then turned on Luke.

Luke was still crying, gripping his guitar, but he also looked angry.

“Don’t you get that I don’t want to talk about this? Just leave already.”

“No, Luke, I’m not leaving until you understand me! God, you’re so stupid some times.” She stepped right up to the couch.

Luke’s anger overtook his sadness for once, and he stood up, holding his guitar with one hand from the neck, letting hit hang at his side. He stood so close to Marnie, towering a few inches above her. “I’m stupid, I’ve got it. Now leave!”

Marnie’s eyes burned with tears as she stared into Luke’s still watering eyes. She grabbed him by the front of his shirt and stood on her tiptoes and pushed her lips against his. It was angry and forceful and not well coordinated, Luke’s long nose bumped into hers as she first kissed him. Luke dropped his guitar.

After Marnie let go of him and they parted, Luke just stared at her. “I don’t understand.” He said.

It didn’t take much force for Marnie to push Luke onto the couch. As he sat, looking stunned, Marnie moved on top of him, straddling his knees. This time she worked slower, running her fingers through his short hair, moving sideways so their noses didn’t smash together when she kissed him again. She kissed him slowly, but meaningfully, sucking his bottom lip into her mouth, letting her tongue glide along the edge of his lip. Luke finally began to kiss her back as she moved one hand from his hair to his ear, rubbing the cartilage between her thumb and forefinger. Luke tangled his long fingers in her hair and let out a moan of “Marnie,” when she moved her mouth to his ear, sucking his ear lobe between her lips then placing butterfly kisses up the edge.

“I love you too.” Marnie whispered. “I thought you always knew, I thought I was the one being obvious and direct, and you were the one who hadn’t made up your mind if you wanted to be with me or not.”

“Are you serious?” Luke half-whispered, half moaned, still immobile under Marnie.

“Think about it, Luke. Who always calls, who always visits or demands you visit, who annoys who in the middle of the night just cause they need you. Who initiates all the cuddling and hugging and hanging out alone in close quarters. It’s always been me doing it, and you begrudgingly going along with it cause I make you. Maybe I haven’t loved you as long, not since the very beginning, but some time between you visiting for my birthday, and the second time we saved the world, I fell in love with you. I thought you knew, I never did hide it very well.” Marnie leaned back and smiled.

“What about Ethan Dalloway?” Luke asked.

“He stormed off cause Dylan asked him out on a date without realizing he’d asked him out on a date. Dylan’s gone after him. It’s complicated.”

Luke gawked at her for a moment, “Are you sure I’m not dreaming? Cause none of this makes any sense.”

Marnie sighed. “Ethan’s gay, Dylan’s socially awkward, you’re way too dramatic, and I love you anyway.” Marnie said, kissing Luke gently.

“I love you too.” Luke whispered, finally smiling.

“I know, you wrote an entire album about it, remember?”

Luke sighed. “I know, it was a cowardly way to do it.”

“I did like it, and it’s a great album, you guys did really well. But I wish you’d have just told me in person. I could have just jumped you then and you wouldn’t have spent this whole time worrying I hated you.”

Marnie kissed Luke again before moving to sit next to him on the couch.

“I still would have worried. I’ll probably still worry for a few weeks. I can’t quite believe this is happening.”

“Why not?” Marnie leaned her head on Luke’s chest.

“You’re a Cromwell, you should be with someone like Ethan Dalloway, or some other powerful warlock. Not a goblin like me. What will your Mom say?”

Marnie sighed. “Mom will be mad for a bit. Not because you’re a goblin, cause you’re from Halloweentown at all. I think she was still hoping I’d meet some nice mortal accountant and stay in the human world after all. But I think she knew what was going on between us more than we did.”

“Well, if the band doesn’t work out, I can become an accountant then.” Luke sighed. “Eddie’s going to be insufferable now. He’s been telling me all along you liked me and I should just tell you.”

“Eddie’s always insufferable.” Marnie mumbled. She glanced at her watch and groaned. “I should get going, or I’ll be late for school. I wonder if Ethan and Dylan went back yet.”

“Let’s go find them.”

Luke stood up from the couch and reached to grab the guitar he dropped. One of the strings was broken and the bottom corner was dented. Before he could groan about it, Marnie snapped her fingers and it was fixed.

Marnie took Luke’s hand in hers and they went to find Dylan. They didn’t seem to be in the hall, which was beginning to clear out after the party. They did find the band though, who were smirking at the two of them.

“I told you. They’d either kill each other or end up in love.” Dan said.

“I’ve been saying it for years.” Eddie said. “So, are you going to admit I was right?”

“You’re going to be impossible to live with now.” Luke muttered.

“You could always move in with your girlfriend.” Gordo laughed.

“Has anyone seen Dylan or Ethan?” Marnie cut in.

“Not since they stormed out.” Eddie said.

Luke and Marnie went through the door out to the street to find the boys, The sun was beginning to set at dusk, laying long shadows on the ground. There was a particularily long shadow moving around the corner of the building.

“I think we found them,” Luke said, pulling Marnie by the hand around the corner.

Ethan had Dylan pushed against the brick wall, his glasses fogged and askew.
Ethan’s hands were balled in Dylan’s sweater, wrinking the fabric as Dylan held tight to Ethan’s waist. The shorter blond was on his tip toes, doing most of the kissing, but Dylan didn’t look like he minded.

Luke laughed. Marnie smirked.

“Is it worth losing your perfect attendance record over, Dylan.”

The boys broke apart in shock, obviously not expecting to see anyone.

“We’re going to be late.” Marnie explained.

Dylan looked at his watch and groaned. Ethan fixed his hair, blushing. Marnie opened a portal then turned to kiss Luke again.

“I’ll call you tonight, okay. And try to believe in it.”

“I’ll try.” Luke said, holding Marnie to him.

“Can I tell people you’re actually my boyfriend now?”

“I’m sure Dylan will do it if you don’t” Luke smiled and kissed Marnie again.

“And don’t forget about the show in the mortal world. I’ll talk to you tonight.”

Chapter Text

Luke got off the bus at the corner of Marnie’s street and put down his guitar case to check his scarf and hat were covering his goblin ears and nose. Marnie had suggested, after her mother had approved, that Luke come to the mortal world the night before the Halloween show for a visit. He picked up his guitar case and headed down the street, but Luke barely made it half a block when Gwen popped out of nowhere. He was going to wave, but a burst of magic struck him hard in the chest and he was knocked on his back.

“Uh, Marnie.” Gwen called from outside, “Come quick!”

Marnie ran outside, followed by Aggie, Dylan, and everyone else in the house. “What happened?”

“I’m so sorry!” Gwen began, looking at the knocked out goblin.

“Mom, what did you do!” Marnie saw the guitar case and ran to Luke.

“I thought he was a knight!”

“Oh, Mom!” Marnie knelt down to check how Luke was doing.

He groaned loudly and tried to sit up, holding the back of his head.

“Are you alright? The spell didn’t hurt you did it?”

Gwen and Aggie made their way over. “He’ll be fine, Marnie dear. Goblins are very resilient when it comes to magic.”

“Yeah,” Luke muttered, “The pavement might have done some damage though.”

Together, Marnie and Gwen helped Luke to his feet and took him inside, and Dylan grabbed his guitar case.

The women bickered as they fussed over Luke on the couch.

“Mom, how could you? You knew Luke was coming tonight!”

“I forgot, and he looked so suspicious with the hat and scarf, I couldn’t see his face!”

“If he didn’t wear them, the rest of the street would have attacked him.” Aggie added.

“Really, I’m okay.” Luke tried to say, but Marnie insisted on making sure there were no bumps or bruises or blood.

After the initial shock of it all, the night gradually settled down again. Most of the students settled into their own rooms, or stuck around in the living room, where everyone had insisted Luke play some music. Everyone joined in singing when they knew a song, and Aggie ended up putting a muffling charm around the house so all the neighbours wouldn’t hear them.

Dylan retreated to the kitchen, finding the noise and laughter all too much, to help his mom put away the dishes.

Gwen passed her son plates and struck up what she thought was a casual conversation.

“You seem more excited about Halloween than most years. How are plans for the fair coming?”

“Okay, I guess, Marnie and Grandma Aggie are taking care of most of the plans.”

“Have you got a date for the night?”

“Ummm.” Dylan said, in a non-committal way. He knew he should tell his mom about Ethan. He knew she probably wouldn’t care. He had planned to tell her. But he hadn’t thought of how to actually do it. He focused on stacking the plates.

“You could ask Tiffany.”

“I stopped crushing on her months ago. She always said no.”

“What about Natalie, you two seem to be getting on well. She’d probably say yes.”

“Actually, I’m going with Ethan,” Dylan said, exhaling the breath he was holding.

“That’s good too, sometimes it’s nice just to go with friends and not worry about girls.” Gwen said, noticing nothing.

Marnie’s intuition must have sensed the tension and she joined Dylan in the kitchen.

“Mom.” Dylan started.

“What is it, honey?” Gwen said.

“Ethan and I…we aren’t going to the fair as friends.”

Gwen turned to see both children watching her. “You mean…”

“They’re going on a date, Mom.” Marnie said bluntly.

“Alright.” Gwen said, turning back to the dishes.

“Are you okay, Mom?” Dylan asked.

“Of course I am.” Gwen said. She didn’t look okay.

“It’s really not a big deal.” Marnie said.

“Mom, are you sure you’re okay with this?” Dylan asked.

“It’s just…” Gwen started, talking to the dishes, “Your grandmother has always wanted Marnie to live in Halloweentown with her, and now that she’s with Luke, who couldn’t feasibly live in this world, being a goblin, she’s sure to move there. And Sophie’s always wanted to follow Aggie and Marnie, and she’s so talented I can’t really make her stop magic. But I always thought I’d have you here to stay with me. You always fitted better here despite your magic, like me.”

“Mom…” Dylan said.

“The Dalloways are a powerful name in Halloweentown, they’ve been on the council for centuries.”

“I think you’re over reacting…” Dylan tried to cut in.

“I know you kids don’t understand it, but someone like Ethan leaving Halloweentown, it would be like the Bush family, or the Kennedys moving out of America. It took a lot of effort for me to leave Halloweentown, and I had to break a lot of ties and friendships to do it. Even with the portal open now, it’s a lot to expect of someone. But I don’t want to lose all of you either.”

There was an awkward silence between Gwen and her two children. Dylan looked dumbfounded. Marnie looked between the two of them, finally breaking the silence.

“Mom…I think what Dylan meant was are you okay with him dating a boy.”

“Oh.” Gwen said. “Ohhhh, of course you meant that. I’m sorry honey, I’m getting myself worked up. Of course I’m happy with whatever makes you happy.” Gwen said, pulling her son close and kissing his forehead.

“I told you it was obvious.” Marnie said, elbowing Dylan in the ribs and smiling.

Dylan elbowed her back. “Besides, Marnie and Luke might be picking out their wedding china-“

“We are not!” Marnie jumped in.

“But Ethan and I are just having a first date. I don’t know if he’ll like me much after he notices how boring I am.”

“Don’t be silly, honey, you aren’t boring.”

Marnie snorted.

“Have either of you seen where Ethan is anyway? I haven’t seen him in a while.” Dylan asked.

“I think he’s in his bedroom.” Marnie said.

Before Dylan could leave the kitchen his mother caught his attention.

“Since you two are dating now, the same rules apply as for Marnie and Luke. I don’t want you staying in each other’s bedrooms or having –“

“Mom!” Dylan said, his glasses fogging up again. “I’m just going to talk to him. We’re not, I mean, jeez…”

Dylan escaped the kitchen quickly after that and made his way to Ethan’s bedroom. He knocked and said, “It’s Dylan.”

Ethan called back, “Come in.”

Ethan was sitting on his bed looking dower when Dylan came in.

“Is everything all right?” Dylan asked.

“I guess,” Ethan sniffled and wiped his nose.

“I know you’re worried about Cassie, but we’ll find her. Grandma Aggie’s right, she’ll be fine.” Ethan stayed quiet as Dylan sat next to him on the bed. “So I told my mom I was going with you to the fair.”

“Oh.” Ethan said, looking up sadly. “Actually, Dylan, I was thinking it isn’t a good idea for me to go with you.”

“Oh.” Dylan’s face fell. “You don’t want to go on a date with me anymore?”

“It’s not that.” Ethan said. His face still as stone. “I think it would be better if I went home. It would be better if I never came here at all.”

Dylan turned toward the other boy. “Ethan, what’s going on?”

“I’ve let something terrible happen.”

“You can’t blame yourself for what happened-“

“But I can! Oh never mind, I should just leave.”

Dylan turned to face Ethan and took the smaller boy’s hands in his. “Do you care about me Ethan? Do you trust me?”

“Yes.”

“Then tell me what’s going on.”

Ethan sniffled once more then looked into Dylan’s eyes. “It’s my Dad. He’s the one who’s been doing this to everyone.”

“Your dad?”

“He said it was complicated political stuff. He wants the portal closed, keeps saying if we let people leave halloweentown at will, anyone who can pass for human or who doesn’t mind wearing a human suit, we’ll lose workers and businesses, the local economy will collapse, all this complicated business talk I don’t understand. Or at least that’s what he was saying at the beginning. He got me to hype up the idea of the knights, I stabbed the dagger into the pumpkin. But he said it was all just politics, making sure people don’t abandon halloweentown. No one was going to lose their magic, no one was going to get hurt. Now, I don’t know.” Ethan sniffled.

Dylan hugged Ethan and rubbed his back.

“It’s okay, we’ll fix this.”

“How?”

“Easy, we tell my mom and my grandma. They’ll know what to do, they can talk to the council, and if we know who’s behind it, we can find Cassie faster.”

“He put her in my witches’ glass.” Ethan said, pulling out the glass. “But I don’t know how to get her out.”

Dylan took the glass in his hand and turned the volume up. Cassie was inside, banging on the glass, “What’s going on? Let me out!”

“Don’t worry, Cassie, we’ll get my mom. She’ll know how to get you out of there.”