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Time-Lapse Reveals Sleight of Hand

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Luke paces. Outside, Halloweentown swelters, although All Hallow's Eve has come and gone. He pauses at the grandfather clock. Nearly 3:00 AM.

An hour ago, he woke from a recurring dream to the thrum of a current pulsing through his veins. Unrelenting—electric—the current slips through him, weds itself to his bones. Now, he paces because he must, because something within him demands it.

Passing his parlor window, Luke discovers a blanket of fog descending upon Halloweentown—not unlike his recollection of his dream. For thirteen years, this dream has followed him, and yet he's pieced together so little of it. Images, mostly: the portal, Marnie's windswept hair, his first glimpse at the mortal realm.

Tonight, all he remembers is Marnie, and her voice: …and each of us our own path decide.

His hands ache. He flexes them—fists, uncurls, fists—because like his body, they demand it. Luke can't shake the sensation there's something his hands are supposed to be doing.

Cursed, he thinks, or haunted, as he moves toward the kitchen. Another hour ticks by, and Luke paces—curls and uncurls his fists—until finally, a wave of exhaustion hits him, and he collapses in his bed.

In a heartbeat, he's dreaming again, and so he doesn't witness the tide of energy that washes off of him, cascading around the room as sighs in his sleep.

 

Come morning, Luke wakes to a bone-cold Halloweentown. Shivering, he draws his blankets around his shoulders, surveying little piles of books that have toppled to the floor, knick-knacks strewn across the room.

Mystified, he returns the items to their places. It isn't until he's warming himself by the fire that he realizes he can sit still. He hasn't been able to do that in a week. The hum of energy lingers—as bewildering as ever—but it's calmer now, gentler. It's settled.

Surrounded by the mysteries of his own life, of his own being, Luke doesn't pause to marvel over the sharp shift in the weather. Besides, for a goblin who lives in a magical realm, one might say he places a disproportionate amount of faith in coincidence.

 

Hours later, Luke braves the cold to check the post. He's expecting a letter from his cousin, who's touring the mortal world. His neighbors are gossiping—as neighbors do, no matter the realm—and he overhears snippets over their conversation, and…

Agatha Cromwell has passed away.

Luke doesn't linger to hear more. He doesn't need to. He knows what this means: Marnie inherits the Cromwell title, the power, everything. She becomes the Cromwell witch.

Inside, he discovers a book—a volume of ghoul poetry—that he missed in his earlier clean-up. He picks it up, dusting off the cover, and stares at it. It landed halfway across the room from its bookshelf.

He glances at his hands—fists, uncurls—and remembers his dream, the one that's been with him all these years. Now, he must admit this is no coincidence. This is that night. This thing that thrums through his veins now is magic. Cromwell magic. Somehow, that night—sharing Marnie's magic—changed him. No wonder he's dreamt of it so often.

He laughs at Marnie Piper's luck. This probably breaks one or two of Halloweentown's oldest and dustiest laws, and of course, Marnie is in the thick of it.

He replaces the book on its shelf. He'll wait. The Cromwell clan will return to Halloweentown soon for Aggie's funeral, and knowing Marnie, trouble will find her and inevitably lead her right to his doorstep.

 

 

That night, as the fire roars bright and dauntless, Luke toasts to Aggie Cromwell… and to beginnings.