At the young age of twenty-four, Luhan is already known to be the best warlock in Kingdom. He has mastered the art of both spells and potions, and he’s the man to go to if there’s ever a need for magical assistance, whether it’s a love potion for your secret love or a charm to help you to study all night. Famous for his top quality work and fast delivery times, Luhan has customers coming in from every corner of the Kingdom. He does his best to help everyone, but, as someone who thinks of himself as an honorable magician, he refuses commissions that require dark magic – that is, unless the customers are willing to pay extra.
It’s a late afternoon, and Luhan’s finishing up a truth serum the Queen had ordered a few days earlier. The big stone table in the middle of the basement holds an open potions book, the one Luhan had inherited from his late grandmother, and a small pot of liquid swirls blue as the warlock adds three drops of unicorn tears to the mix. He smiles brightly, pleased with himself, as a small rainbow flashes on the surface of the potion.
Unlike learning charms – something anyone with proper training and a wand could do, becoming a potions master isn’t easy; the ingredients are hard to obtain, much less grow, and the cooking must be done exactly right to avoid unwanted and possibly dangerous side effects, but Luhan’s lucky. His family has been in the business for centuries and the recipes, as well as tips for gathering the elements for the brews, have all been collected into big, dusty spellbooks that are now in his possession. Every witch and warlock before him has added their own notes in the wide margins of the pages, and the books are filled with priceless information and family secrets that Luhan has sworn to protect with his life.
Leaning over the massive book, Luhan ponders if he should mix the liquid five times counterclockwise after adding the rosling seeds, like his great uncle suggested, or twice clockwise, like his grandma advised, when he hears a set of soft steps approaching from the staircase.
“What are you doing?”
From the corner of his eye, Luhan can see a tall figure leaning over the pot and taking a sniff of the colorful fumes. A heartbeat later, a loud sneeze echoes throughout the room, and Luhan sighs, hoping that the Queen doesn’t mind a little bit of cat snot in her potion.
Like many great sorcerers before him, Luhan has a familiar to enhance his magic. He had wanted one since he was just a little boy watching his grandmother work with her beautiful, black cat. The feline made everything the witch did look even more powerful and exciting, and Luhan loved to play around with it afterwards and pet its silky smooth fur. But, unlike other magicians in their family, Luhan didn’t get a cat, a bat, or a rabbit as his familiar when he came of age. He got Sehun.
A whiny, needy, clumsy catboy.
“Luhan, I’m bored,” the catboy complains and wraps himself around Luhan’s body. “Come upstairs and play with me.”
It’s all Baekhyun’s fault, really. When Luhan took over his grandmother’s business, his friend took him to the pet shop in the Royal City. Getting a familiar will be good for you, the boy said and pulled Luhan into the funky looking shop with big showcases full of different kind of animals. You’ll get lonely if you’re all by yourself in that big cottage of yours. Besides, it will help you with your magic!
The two of them looked over the wide selection of birds, reptiles, bats and more common types of familiars, but Luhan didn’t really feel any kind of connection with them. His grandmother had always said that a sorcerer doesn’t choose their familiar, the familiar chooses them, but none of the pets on show paid any attention to him – however, most of them seemed to take to Baekhyun, who would probably have tried to smuggle at least half of them home if not for the shop boy eyeing them curiously.
Luhan was already on the verge of giving up when the clerk entered the shop from the storage room at the back, someone trailing closely behind him, a hand tugging the hem of his shirt. Luhan remembers thinking that Sehun was easily the cutest thing he had ever seen, and when the catboy with the softest looking baby pink hair and wide brown eyes looked at him and smiled shyly, Luhan knew he was going to take the boy home.
“Luhaaan, you have been down here all day!” Sehun complains, and Luhan shrugs the needy catboy off his back.
“That’s because I need to work on this. Now, sit down somewhere and wait for me to finish like a proper familiar and I’ll play with you afterward. Okay?”
Sehun grumbles in reply and puts on a sour face but obeys anyway, sitting on the end of the worktable, hugging his knees. Luhan watches him for a couple of seconds, debating if the catboy’s placement on the table could be somehow hazardous, but Sehun just sits and waves his tail in silence, so he continues with the potion.
It has been over four years since the Luhan first brought Sehun home, and during those years, the warlock has learned that looks can be deceiving, and taking care of a catboy isn’t as simple as he had thought. The coy, innocent looking boy had gotten over his initial shyness and revealed his true nature not too long after getting comfortable in Luhan’s cabin. Sehun’s still the cutest thing Luhan has ever come across, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end between the fluffy kitten he had adopted and the Sehun he knows now.
“Stop chewing my shirts,” Luhan orders and pulls the collar of the cotton shirt out of Sehun’s mouth, eliciting a whine. The catboy just loves to nibble tiny holes in Luhan’s – because Merlin knows why the boy refuses to wear any of the shirts Luhan buys specifically for him – clothes. Sehun’s ears fall flat on top of his head for being told off and the corners of his lips tilt downwards.
Ignoring the catboy’s silent sulking, Luhan continues his work and adds exactly twenty-three rosling seeds to the potion and mixes it carefully, humming contentedly when the liquid turns completely translucent. He’s about to add the next ingredient when an ominous sound stops him.
Luhan raises his eyes from the book and sees Sehun playing with his hands, a seemingly innocent smile on his face while his tail slowly pushes one of the jars on the table closer to the edge.
“Sehun, stop it,” he warns, looking at the catboy sternly. Sehun rolls his eyes but moves his tail away from the jar, sighing dramatically. Sehun’s bored, Luhan knows, and he feels a sting of guilt – he has left the boy alone all day, after all. To ease his mind and hopefully cheer Sehun up a bit, Luhan reaches to the catboy’s chin and pats it gently a couple of times before running his thumb along the jawline, caressing the soft skin there. Sehun purrs happily, and the noise makes a familiar warmth bloom in Luhan’s heart. “Wait just a little longer. I’m done soon.” Just as Sehun tries to lean into his touch and crawl closer to the man, Luhan retreats his hand, getting back to work. He tries to suppress a smile as Sehun huffs and pouts, looking extremely displeased that the petting stopped.
Luhan returns his focus back to the potions book and soon enough, hears the glass jar moving against the stone table again. Luhan glares at Sehun, but this time the catboy holds his stare and doesn’t stop pushing the container.
The jar moves closer and closer to the edge of the table, and Luhan feels a vein throbbing on his forehead.
“I’m not kidding. If you do not stop right now ––”
The sound of glass breaking echoes in the room, followed by tiny cries of freedom and joy from the swamp shrimp now jumping around on the floor. Before Luhan can even pick up his wand to throw a hex at the evil little familiar of his, Sehun has already dashed out of the basement. For a second, Luhan thinks about going after him and making the catboy hunt down every shrimp with his own hands, but, knowing Sehun, he’s already hiding somewhere, waiting for the situation to blow over.
So Luhan sighs once, twice, thrice, and charms the jar back together, getting ready to catch all of the shrimp himself.
He’s done roughly twenty minutes later and Luhan rummages around in his cupboards and chests, trying to find the final piece he needs for the potion. He remembers taking the ball of unicorn mane out of the cabinets before starting the brew, but it’s nowhere to be found. Luhan’s almost positive he saw the ball on the table next to the rosling seeds just before Sehun interrupted his work.
Groaning in frustration, Luhan climbs the stairs and leaves the basement.
The cabin Luhan had inherited from his grandmother is comfortable and cozy but modest in terms of size. In addition to his workplace in the basement, there are just three other rooms: a small kitchen, an even smaller bathroom with a cute, wooden bathtub, and a living space filled with bookshelves, a snug armchair, old fashioned fireplace, and a big bed fitted in among all the cabinets and books. After moving in Luhan had never felt the need to renovate the old house; he liked the almost mystical feel of the place. The only changes he has made so far are hanging the countless pictures of his friends and family along the wooden walls, and building a nicer bed to replace the old, worn-out frame.
Luhan finds Sehun in kitchen, sitting at the small table and staring through the window as a bird builds a nest into the old oak tree next to the cabin. He looks bored out of his mind, almost laying on the table, and Luhan feels guilt burning his gut again.
But he still needs to finish the order for the Queen, so Luhan gets straight to the point and asks, “Sehun, have you seen my ball of unicorn mane?”
Sehun sits straight and his eyes flicker toward the living area before he looks at Luhan. “No,” he denies with a straight face. His left ear twitches slightly, and Luhan knows the boy is lying.
“Well then,” Luhan says, “I guess you wouldn’t mind if I went to check the living room, would you?”
There’s a sudden flash of panic in Sehun’s eyes, but he composes himself quickly and shrugs nonchalantly.
All the years living with the catboy have taught Luhan a lot, and he whistles to himself quietly as he walks to the farthest corner of the living area. Just a few steps before he reaches the unmade bed, something pulls his leg to the other direction.
“No, don’t go there,” Sehun begs. He’s sitting on the floor, his limbs around Luhan’s right leg, attempting to stop the man.
“Let go,” Luhan orders and tries to wiggle the boy off from his leg before giving up and dragging Sehun with him. “You’re such a nuisance sometimes. I have to finish my work!”
Sehun finally gives in when Luhan reaches the bed and just sits back, hugging his knees again with his ears flat on his head. Luhan pays him no mind and starts pulling the bed away from its hollow in the wall. When he manages to make enough room between the frame and the wall to take a look behind the mattress, he finds something he wasn’t expecting.
“Sehun,” Luhan looks back to the catboy curled on the floor, “why is there so much stuff in here?”
Sehun’s face reddens in mortification and Luhan realizes he has found Sehun’s stash. When he was younger, Sehun used to hide his favorite toys and clothes behind the bed so that no one would find them, but Luhan had believed that the boy had grown out of it. Seems like he had been wrong. The gap between the bedframe and the wall is filled with toys, small knickknacks, and are those ––
“ARE THOSE MY SOCKS? I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THEM EVERYWHERE!”
Turning around to glare at his familiar, Luhan sees Sehun hugging his tail and looking absolutely crestfallen, his eyes already watery.
Sighing, Luhan slumps down on the floor and leans his back on the bed. He’s not really angry – maybe just the tiniest bit annoyed. He can’t blame Sehun for acting so catlike, after all. It’s not like he hides things just to be a pain in the ass.
“Come here,” Luhan says, opening his arms wide. Sehun sniffs once and crawls onto his lap. “I’m sorry I ignored you and yelled. That was mean.”
Luhan runs his fingers in Sehun’s pink locks and the catboy leans into the touch, purring ever so slightly. Chuckling, Luhan rubs Sehun cat ear gently, and the catboy sighs, pleased. It’s so easy to keep Sehun happy, all he needs is some love and attention, and Luhan feels bad for being such a terrible master to his familiar.
He decides that the truth serum can wait for another day.
“How about I cook us something for dinner, and then we can do something together?” Luhan asks and Sehun’s eyes brighten and he nods eagerly.
“Can we eat tuna?”
“Of course,” Luhan answers, pulling the catboy even closer to his chest. Sehun squirms when Luhan presses a light kiss on his temple, but Luhan doesn’t miss the wide smile on his face.
If he had to name a piece of furniture that he loves the most in his home, Luhan would pick his grandfather’s old armchair. The chair is almost big enough for two people to sit on, and it’s the most comfortable place to curl up on with a good book and a cup of tea. Luhan loves to lie on it and look at the fire dancing in the small fireplace, his feet dangling off one of the armrests and head resting on the other.
It’s Luhan’s night off, and he’s sprawled on the chair, hoping to finish the book he borrowed from Baekhyun a couple of weeks back. Completely immersed into the story about a young witch trying to find her place in the world, Luhan fails to notice a sleepy looking catboy waking up from his nap and waddling towards him before the said boy is sitting on his stomach with an exaggerated yawn.
Luhan closes his book and looks at Sehun, but the catboy doesn’t say anything. He just sits there, rubbing the remains of sleep from his eyes, and Luhan knows that he won’t get any more reading done.
Sehun’s far from the helpful addition to every magical household the pet shop clerk advertised him as, which Luhan had soon found out after taking the adorable catboy home. In the span of the first two weeks, Sehun managed to destroy countless of jars of ingredients while running around the basement, accidentally nearly poisoned himself with a small gurdyroot he thought was candy, and stepped on Luhan’s wand, breaking it in two. But it wasn’t until the poor catboy dipped his tail in one of the half-finished transmutation potions, turning it into pig tail, that Luhan finally gave up on his short-lived dream of having a little helper around the house.
It’s not that Sehun’s not trying enough, he’s just not meant to be a sorcerer’s assistant. He’s more fit for cuddles and games than doing meticulous work at the basement.
But it’s fine, Luhan thinks as he reaches his hand to run fingers in Sehun’s velvety hair. He has accepted Sehun as his familiar; therefore, the catboy’s mere presence is enough to enhance his magic. And even if it’s sometimes hard for Luhan to admit, his life has been much more eventful and less lonely since Sehun walked into it.
“Are you bored again?” Luhan asks, his fingers still playing with the pink strands. He gently rubs one of the cat ears peeking from the bedhead, and it twitches in his hold.
Sehun nods and worries his lower lip. “Can we play something? Maybe with the marbles?”
Toying with the shiny and pretty glass marbles that come in various different colors is Sehun’s favorite pastime, and he could spend hours playing the different games Luhan comes up with. He’s not usually against spending time playing together, but this time Luhan has a different plan for the night.
“I was thinking about showing what I got for you the last time I went shopping.”
“You bought me something?” Sehun’s eyes widen, and his whole lanky body seems to buzz with excitement as he jumps to straddle Luhan’s waist, leaning closer. “What is it?”
Luhan chuckles at Sehun’s eagerness – he had learned fast that the easiest way into Sehun’s heart is through skinship and gifts – and taps the catboy’s nose with his index finger. “Well if you let me get up, you’ll find out.”
Sehun’s on his feet almost immediately, bouncing around like a child high on sugar, and Luhan can’t help a wave of extreme fondness washing over him.
He takes a hold of Sehun’s hands, placing them on the catboy’s face. “Stand still. And no peaking!” Sehun nods and obeys, reducing the pacing around to simply rocking on his heels.
Luhan then makes his way into the kitchen, only stopping at the door to make sure that Sehun’s hands are still covering his eyes. He heads to one of the pantries and scoots down to reach to the lowest of the shelves. The back corner behind all the containers full of pickled vegetables is the best place in the entire house to hide something from Sehun’s curious eyes.
Luhan pulls out a palm sized toy and makes sure it’s free from dust before going back to the living area where Sehun is still standing and waiting patiently.
“You can open up,” Luhan says, holding the gift in front of him.
“A plushie,” Sehun gasps and takes the fluffy mouse toy from Luhan’s hands, looking at it in awe. “Ooh, it’s so cute and soft.” Sehun hugs the stuffed animal tightly and purrs at the softness of the fabric.
“Do you like it?” Luhan asks and grabs one of the storybooks from the bookshelves. He lies down on the armchair again, and Sehun sits down on the floor, leaning his back on the chair and cuddling the plushie.
“It’s perfect, thank you,” Sehun says, almost bashful, and Luhan’s heart swells with adoration.
They spend the next hour or so reading their favorite stories aloud from the book. When Luhan finishes the third fairytale of the night, the sun has already set and his lids are heavy with sleep. He gently nudges Sehun, who’s already dropping off on the floor, and goes to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
They wash up and change clothes in silence. Ten minutes later, Luhan falls on his bed, exhausted and ready to face the night. Sehun has already hogged all the covers, and he’s curled in the very back corner of the mattress, hugging his new stuffed animal.
“You need to learn to share,” Luhan groans and pulls the catboy and the comforter closer to the center. Sehun glares at him but untangles himself from the covers, scooting closer to Luhan to make sure his tail isn’t peeking out from the warmth of the sheets.
Luhan snaps his fingers and every light in the house goes off. He sighs contentedly and rolls over to face Sehun. “Goodnight, kitty.”
Navigating in the faint moonlight, Sehun moves even closer to Luhan and lands a chaste kiss on his nose. Warmth spreads on Luhan’s cheeks, and he wraps an arm around the catboy’s middle, snuggling into his side despite the boy’s feeble protests and attempts to wiggle free from the hold.
And when they slowly fall asleep like that, curled in their shared bed, Luhan is happy. Because while Sehun might be a complete disaster when it comes to magic, Luhan still thinks that he’s the best familiar of them all.