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Royal Secrets

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A lone prison tower jutted out of the cracked ground like a splinter erupting from a wound. Black spires stabbed the empty, gray sky above, angrily piercing the heart of the magical dimension of Mewni. It almost seemed like a passing cloud would get snarled on the spiky roof and torn to bits. Below, stringy pine trees leaned around as if they were haphazardly stuck in the mud. A stiff breeze would have had enough force to knock them over if it were not for the red vines that coiled around trunks. They acted like barbed wire to keep the mysterious prisoners in and intruders out. Silence locked the isolated forest in an unshakeable grip until a blinding light exploded from the windows. Another followed shortly after, then another and another. Soon, the sky flashed like strobe lights at a party and noise sliced through the quietness. The once sleeping solitary tower was alive with the clanging of swords and the crumbling of stones.

A cluster of knights raced down the stairs, clutching their swords and maces to their armored bodies. They stampeded towards a single unarmed enemy but were immediately blown back by a tidal wave of angry, fat whales. “Narwhal Blast!” The princess yelled again, releasing more of her powerful creations at the knights.

The ones that didn’t jump out of the way went flying out the window. Whirling around, she unleashed another Narwhal Blast, reveling at the raw power in her veins. Wandless magic packed a serious punch, tapping deeper into her innate abilities than the wand. Glossaryck, her mentor, told her about the powers of being a dipper instead of a skimmer, and now she understood what he meant. “I can get used to this!” She sent a purple blast into another knight and marveled at her glowing hands.

“Star! Look out!” A panicked voice caught her attention just as a mace swung towards her face.

Star flipped out of the way to avoid the attack, then sent a spell screaming at her opponent. “Thanks, Marco, but heads up!” She yelled.

Her battle partner shoved a warrior with his katana and ducked to let the knights collide into each other with a metallic bang. “Thanks!” Marco nodded and charged to engage another enemy.

Anytime, Marco, her blue eyes lingered on him for another moment before turning towards the next group of knights. Raw determination propelled Star into them with a torrent of magic. The sounds of battle roared in her ears and drove her into a frenzy. “Rainbow Fist Punch!” Colors swirled around her fist, and she flattened the knights like bowling pins. Ha! She smirked. Around her, the endless stream of knights continued from the bottom of the castle, but they were no match against the princess, her squire, and her father, who chewed on the leg of a knight.

“Star!” She heard Marco shout, but it was too late. A mace knocked her out of a window with a decisive blow across the side. Only the points on her rhino boots prevented her from careening to her death below. Phew! She sighed in relief until she felt her pulse slide off her shoulder. “Oh no, you don’t!” Her quick reflexes caught it before it slipped out of reach. 

Something yanked her back inside, and Star found thudding with Marco’s chest as they fell to the floor. “Star!” He cupped her cheek. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, I promise,” she replied sincerely.

He kissed her forehead, “I know. Just worried about my new girlfriend getting hurt.”

Girlfriend. Star wasn’t used to him calling her that, but it had been several weeks since they had gotten together. A lot happened after Meteora’s defeat. Alone in the crumbling remains of the castle, Star and Marco spent the night together, confessing fully the feelings uncovered during the “incident” at Ruberiot’s wedding. After being trapped in a photo booth for hours, they kissed. Star never forgot about it. Her lips still tingled when she imagined his pressed against them, and her heart raced when her fingers remembered his suit jacket brushing against them. It had been a shocking yet perfect moment…except for the fact that she was dating Tom. For several days, Star dreaded the inevitable talk she needed to have with him, but after helping her fight Meteora and save Marco, Tom seemed to back off. The last time they spoke, he told Marco to “take care of her” before leaving for the Underworld. It was rather cryptic, but she didn’t stop him. The signs that she still liked her squire were rather obvious in hindsight. With nothing else in the way, starting a romantic relationship with Marco was the most natural course of action.

“You know me, Diaz. I’m as tough as they get,” she bragged. “You don’t have to worry about me.” The chaos of the world shrunk to just the two of them, and they leaned in for a kiss when a knight crashed into the ceiling above their heads. Startled, the couple disengaged.

“Star! Marco!” River raced towards them, ending the moment. “I found a door!”

Oh right, I’m supposed to be finding my mom. Star had forgotten the main objective of the quest between the fighting and her cute boyfriend. Marco was such a distraction sometimes. The teens rushed to a giant wooden door covered in a host of locks and chains. Something valuable must be on the other side. Maybe treasure or weapons. Maybe a queen! With a mighty kick, Star slammed the door open. “WHERE IS MY MOM!” She roared at the top of her lungs.

Disappointment set in when she saw the room was empty, except for jailer tightening the chains of a prisoner hanging on the wall. “Star Butterfly,” the jailer sighed. “For the third time, your mother is not in this tower!”

Has it really been three times? The princess could have sworn the tower was a different one. Her eyes saw the other holes she had busted into the wall only days ago. Shame flooded her mind, and she buried her face in her hands. How had she been so oblivious? Marco placed a supportive hand on her shoulder to try and cheer her up.

“Things have been hard enough as is since you gave the throne to that Monster Lover, Eclipsa,” the jailer piled a rock in the hole. “I can’t throw monsters in jail anymore, so I’ve had to settle with Mewmans instead.”

“Yeah!” The prisoner said.

Star narrowed her eyes, “Maybe you shouldn’t throw anyone in jail.” Why were the Mewmans so insistent that everything was her fault? Their society was horrible and backwards, and the act of giving the wand to Queen Eclipsa felt right. She was the rightful heir and the only true Butterfly. The Magic High Commission wronged her by imprisoning her for three hundred years and erasing her daughter from history, just because she fell in love with a monster. The punishment certainly wasn’t worthy of the “crime.” Plus, as Acting Queen, Star had the authority to make whatever decision she felt best for the kingdom.

Her common-sense suggestion fell on deaf ears, and the jailer grumbled something under his breath while checking the manacles on his prisoner. “You don’t tell me how to run my life, and I won’t tell you how to ruin the kingdom.”

Rage filled Star’s blood and made her fists glow, but a gentle glance from Marco calmed her down enough to prevent her from blasting a hole in the wall. With a huff, she led the rest of her small band back to their camp in the Forest of Certain Death. How didn’t she know it was the same tower? It looked different…from the side, maybe. She could have sworn it did, but maybe the quest to find Moon was finally getting to her brain. They had been at it for several weeks, and the constant fatigue and stress started to poison her mind. What if they never found her mother? For the first time, the frightening possibility seemed real. What would she do then? Where would she go?

The glum mood possessed Star, Marco, and River all the way back to their small clearing in the middle of the forest. A puny fire pit sat in the middle of three thin sleeping bags arranged in a small triangle. Star went to sulk on her own while her father charged into the forest to hunt for dinner. She knew hunting was how her father dealt with stress besides partying with his friends. Marco joined her on the log, wrapping an arm around her. “We’ll find Moon, I promise.”

Bitter and frustrated tears leaked from her eyes and stained his hoodie, but Marco rubbed her back to soothe her. His scent, soured by weeks of questing and infrequent bathing, stung the back of Star’s nose in a comforting way. It reminded Star of when she used to secretly keep a stinky hoodie of his on her bed. The real deal was so much better though.

“Thanks, Marco,” she sighed into his shoulder.

“Now,” he pulled out a map. “Let’s just scribble this tower off the map to avoid coming back here ever again.” Star glanced over his shoulder to see red Xs litter the paper like fallen leaves. There was hardly a place in all of Mewni they had not checked yet, except for the Underworld. I don’t think Mom is down there, the princess decided. Scratching her chin, she combed the Forest of Certain Death and spied an unchecked area between red marks. Maybe they should head there—just in case.

“How about this spot in the Forest of Certain Death?” She pointed. “It’s the only place we haven’t crossed off yet.”

Marco tapped the marker against his chin as he made his adorable “thinking face.” His thick eyebrows creased, and the tip of his tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth. Why did he have to look so kissable all the time? Marco’s cuteness drove her crazy. “I guess checking there wouldn’t hurt,” he drew a circle on the empty spot. “We’ll go on one condition: if we don’t find Moon there, we’re taking a few days off to regroup. Okay?”

The possibility of still not finding Moon gave Star pause. She had to be out there. Just had to be. The idea of her mother being gone forever was not even feasible. But what if she isn’t there? Doubt crept into the princess’s mind, worrying her tired heart until Marco placed a hand on hers. “I’m not saying we’d give up,” he added. “But taking a small break isn’t a bad idea. Okay?”

“Okay,” she nodded.

“It’ll be alright in the end. We just gotta get through this rough spot, but I know we can do it—” Marco intertwined his fingers with hers. “As long as we do it together.”

The confidence in his eyes gave her courage and a smile crept on her face again, “Agreed.”

“So…” He stood up. “I think we should relax for the rest of the night. Wanna go on a walk?”

Star tapped her chin, pretending to think about the offer. Of course, she would love nothing more than to spend a lazy evening with Marco before kicking major butt in the morning. “I like the sound of that, Mr. Diaz.”

“Oh absolutely, Ms. Butterfly,” he reached out his hand. “Come with me.”

The sun sank lower in the sky, pulling darkness over Mewni from east to west. Through gaps in the canopy, stars started to twinkle, matching the fireflies flirting in the shadows caused by foliage. Deer and other grazing animals slipped down slender paths traced through the heart of the forests. On one of these secluded trails, Star and Marco strolled leisurely through the dew-wet bracken. The fronds grazed her leggings, tickling her with each step. Eventually, the path opened to a wide glade that bordered a tall cliff. The moons of Mewni rose among the starfield, creating a halo that bathed the area white like fresh snow. Since it was a mild night, Marco unzipped his hoodie to set on the ground for them to sit on. They lay side by side, snuggling close together as the night continued to fall.

The rhythm of Marco’s chest rising and falling soothed Star, easing her into a relaxed state. While the past months had been full of pointless quests, fighting, and mud, it was great to spend the nonstop days with her boyfriend. She gave him the chance to go home, but he refused to leave her side. I’m so lucky to have you, she sighed lovingly. He was her most trusted advisor, faithful confident, and very best friend. “You know, Marco,” she traced a finger on his chest. “I have a feeling.”

“About what?” He looked at her.

“That we’ll be together forever,” she smiled.

“Of course, Star. That’s how it’s supposed to be—just you and me,” his voice vibrated against her ear.

“Yeah…”

“You know what we should do when this is all over?” Marco kissed her head.

“What?”

“Go on a real date,” he said happily. “In fact, Star, let me ask you: would you like to go on a date with me?”

Joy seized her heart, and Star practically threw herself on him, “I would love to!”

Marco ran a hand through her hair, pulling her in closer for a kiss. “Then it’s a date then,” he smiled. “Also, shouldn’t we get back before your dad notices we’re gone?”

A tinge of concern edged his question, but Star read his eagerness to stay with her for tonight. She laughed, “You know how my dad gets. He comes home and falls asleep. He wouldn’t notice if we snuck back before dawn.” They had gotten really good at sneaking in and out of camp in the middle of the night, why not add a few hours to their adventures? The moons rose high as Star and Marco cuddled in each other’s arms in the calm of the night.


 

The next morning, Star felt like utter crap. Perhaps the rangy deer River brought back the night before refused to settle in her stomach. Stress had a way of messing with the body like that. The princess leaned against the lower branches of the tree she had hidden behind for privacy. Just thinking about hiking through the Forest of Certain Death, which was usually a fun activity, made her queasy again, but she choked the rising vomit back down. There was no time to be sick—they had to find Moon or die trying. Ignoring the slimy taste in her mouth, Star willed herself to return to the trail. River was busy scouting ahead, leaving Marco alone with their possessions. “Star…are you alright?” He set down the map. “You look a little green around the eyes.”

She threw on a wide smile, playing off the fact that she had disappeared for half an hour to throw up behind a bush. “I’m fine, Marco. Just green with excitement!”

“Is that how it works?” Hints of skepticism sharpened Marco’s tone.

“For us Mewmans, yes,” Star nodded briskly. Please just buy it, she silently added. Although, she knew Marco didn’t buy her excuse. He was too smart to believe that a species of humanoid beings turned sickly green for a positive reason. Gingerly, he held a hand to her forehead for a moment, then studied her.

“You feel kinda warm,” he observed. “Maybe…we should take a few hours to see—”

“I said I’m fine!” She snapped and instantly regretted doing so. Marco staggered backward, and his eyes blazed with hurt. Why did I do that? Star slapped a hand over her mouth. After recovering from the initial shock of her sudden outburst, “I’m sorry…let’s just keep moving.”

Marco shrugged on his backpack, muttering, “Okay.”

Great, you’ve upset your boyfriend, Star could kick herself, but doing so would jostle her stomach too much again. Feeling awkward, she kept her distance from Marco for most of the hike, although she inwardly longed to hold his hand and cry. She didn’t know why she wanted to cry, but the idea of shedding tears seemed cathartic after weeks of empty searches. What if today ended with another false lead? I just want my Mom, Star’s chest heaved as she fought the oncoming wave of moisture tinging the corners of her eyes. A moment later, a full sob shook her body, bringing her to a screeching halt in the middle of the forest. Fear and anxiety spiked without explanation, which scared Star even more. What’s happening to me? The crying was so stupid and unnecessary, but the tears refused to let up. Suddenly, two arms wrapped around shoulders, bringing her wet face into a wall of dyed red cotton. Marco tucked her head under his chin and held her tightly against him.

“I’m here,” he said softly. “I’m sorry if I upset you earlier.”

“I wasn’t mad at you,” she sighed. Deep inside, Star knew there was something wrong, but she couldn’t put a name to it. Whatever it was, it felt big and scary and dreadful like a haunting premonition from the calzones that could predict death. Part of her thought nothing of the feeling, but…it nagged her mind. Something was about to change forever. “It’s just…” she began again. “A lot is going on and—”

Her mirror buzzed in her pocket, and she opened it to see that Tom was calling. Curiosity replaced sorrow, and she let go of Marco to answer the call. The demon had a wide smile on his face as he sat in a beanbag chair in his room. Fire flickered around the frame of the video call, and in his red eyes. “Hey, boo, long time no see!” He greeted her warmly.

Did he just call me “boo?” Star exchanged a glance with Marco. “Uh…hi, Tom,” she tried to ignore it. “I’ve been out looking for Mom with my Dad and Marco.”

“Oh,” he noticed the boy standing beside her. “What’s up, bro?”

“Nothing much,” Marco smiled. “Just on a cool adventure with Star.”

“Aw, I wish you’d invite me,” the demon pretended to pout. “In fact, I was thinking about going on a date soon.”

 “A date?!” Star and Marco exclaimed.

Tom rubbed the back of his neck, “Yeah…I mean, when’s the last time we snuggled on a beach?”

But that was before the battle! She wanted to say but didn’t. Her mind drew a blank on what to do. She had no idea Tom thought they were together. A lot happened after the demon left…Words were said, and pent feelings were fully expressed. The invading memories painted a faint blush on her pale cheeks, yet she felt ashamed too. Not because of what happened between her and Marco, but because she knew the truth would hurt Tom if he knew. And he had to know—for both his sake and to allow Star and Marco to be together guilt-free. Just thinking about having to face her problems made her stomach queasy again. Part of her wanted to slam the phone shut, chuck it off a cliff, then puke in the woods. But she knew that her days of running from problems were over. A responsible princess and Mewman faced battled head on, and this was one she had to do alone.

She motioned for Marco to give her space and turned to the demon. “Tom,” she sighed. “Remember how you kinda left after the battle and told Marco to take care of me…?”

“Oh yeah,” he nodded. “You’d had a tough day, and I figured you that you deserved time to unwind with Marco.”

Star paused, thinking over her next response. How should she approach telling Tom that she thought he broke up with her, leading her to forge a relationship with Marco? There was no good way to phrase it. “Yeah…” she nervously played with her hair. “Well…about that…”

“Why are you so upset, Starship? It’s not like you and Marco got together because you thought that I ended our relationship or anything.”

The demon maintained the same happy expression on his face, making it difficult to read him. Was he fishing for an answer or painfully oblivious? “You see…Marco and I—”

“Star, look out!” Marco yelled a split second before an arrow whizzed past her face, slicing off a lock of hair. What the—? Suddenly, River exploded through the underbrush, clutching his crown tightly to his body as he fled deeper into the woods. A gang of pirates, armed with swords and bows, followed in hot pursuit.

“Curse you, Pie Folk!” The former king hollered as he disappeared.

A few of the pirates halted when they saw the teens and decided to turn on them instead. Marco defended the clearing by unsheathing El Choppo and charging at the group. Swords clashed together as he fought them off single-handedly, but Star knew he could not win on his own. Her real boyfriend needed her.

“Star?” Tom started to scowl. “I’m waiting…”

“Uh…”

One of the pirates broke from the group Marco fought and tried to attack Star. She disarmed him with a blast of magic, then punched his face. “Look, Tom,” she said through gritted teeth when she found herself in a circle of marauders. “Marco and I—” Her sentence was cut off by a lance striking her leg. Can you leave me alone! She howled in pain and rage. I’m trying to break up here!

“Crystal Dagger Heart Attack!” She summoned a flurry of razor-sharp hearts at her enemies, which sliced their skin and leather armor.

“You and Marco…?” Tom’s voice vibrated in her palm. “What did you do?”

She turned to him briefly, “We were alone and—Cupcake Blast!” She launched another offensive attack at a lunging pirate. “You see, things happened…Rainbow Fist Punch!”

“What kind of things?” Frustration snarled in his voice. “What could have possibly happened between you and Marco that you can’t tell me about?”

Everything! Star wailed while trying to fight and carry a phone conversation with one hand. She jumped over a pirate and swept him off his feet with a roundhouse kick she learned from Marco. It gave her just enough space to return to her conversation. “Look, Tom, I think we should—”

An arrow pierced the phone’s screen, spreading a fatal crack that crumbled the device to glass dust in her hands. “No!” She shrieked. Blood roared in her ears and boiled like lava in a volcano. “That is it!” She caught an arrow meant for her and snapped the shaft in her fist. Quickly, she pulled Marco to her chest. “I’m ending this! Thermonuclear Butterfly Blast!”

The spell produced a glowing rainbow mushroom cloud over a section of the Forest of Certain Death, leaving trees and rocks in a gust of mighty wind. When the flash subsided, the sore bodies of pirates and bowed trees littered a charred crater. Only Star and Marco remained unscathed from the attack. “Wow…” he blinked. “I think you’ve gotten stronger with magic.”

“Thanks,” her eyes remained glued on the destroyed phone at her feet.

Marco put the dots together and placed a hand on her shoulder, “It’s okay, Star. You’ll have time to talk to Tom after we get home.”

“I guess,” she sighed. “I just feel bad because I should have known better…”

“We all make mistakes, plus you know I’m not going anywhere.”

“Although, I think you should.”

“Why?”

“I’m about to throw up.”


 

The sun had just reached zenith by the time Star and Marco left the Forest of Certain Death in direction of home. After the battle and the loss of all of their possessions, the quest to find Moon ended on unceremoniously. As much as it pained Star to put her search on pause, she knew taking a few days off would be beneficial, especially since her sickness refused to go away. Poor Marco had to witness her puking on and off for an hour, although he helped by rubbing her back and holding her hair out of the way. How does he deal with me sometimes? She wondered while leaning against his shoulder. Out of the wilderness, the ruins of Butterfly castle guarded the remains of the once-prominent town around it. Meteora had leveled every building where the Mewmans used to live, reducing them to piles of bricks and wood. Even in the weeks after the event, nothing was rebuilt. However, the townspeople remained, stubbornly clinging to the destruction. They eked out a living amongst the rubble and ate trash like wild animals. I thought Eclipsa was going to invite them to live in New Monster Town, Star glanced over her old home.

As they ventured further along the dusty streets, dirt-covered faces peeked out of the shadows to watch their every move. Their eyes flashed warily and full of anger. “Ignore them,” Marco whispered to Star as they passed the square.

In the middle, sat a pile of dust where an old stage used to sit. I don’t wanna think about it, Star frowned. The last time she came here with River and Marco, the Mewmans put on a satirical play lampooning her family. After a long day of traveling the last thing Star wanted to see where her former subjects making fun of her for trying to help monsters. Needless to say, the stage was destroyed by an enraged blonde, and the townspeople were still bitter about it. They crawled out of their hiding spots to gawk at Star limping through the streets. Not in the mood, she snarled under her breath. If they picked a fight, she would not hold back.

“Oh look, it’s Acting Queen Star Butterfly, here to ruin our lives again!” A Mewman heckled.

Another one spat at her feet, “I live in a box with my wife and three kids, wanna take that way too? Wanna give that to the monsters too?”

“That Monster Lover of yours took our land and called it ‘justice!’” Added another.

“We have no food!”

“Our wells are dry!”

Star pressed herself closer to Marco, hoping his presence would blot out their harsh words. Yet she knew they were right. A queen was supposed to be responsible, and she let them descend into ruin. Where’s Eclipsa? She’s their leader now.

Suddenly, a large Mewman blocked their path, “Oh, look at this…Mommy is still gone, huh? Failed at finding her too.” The townspeople laughed at the crude remark. “Aw…is the rebel failure crying? How cute! I wonder how else you’re going to mess up your life!”

“Hey! Leave Star alone,” Marco took a brave step forward when Star started to tear up. “We’ve been through a lot, so let us pass.”

“And who are you?” The Mewman smirked. “You’re just her lowly human squire.”

“Watch what you say to my Marco,” she felt strength ebb into her limbs.

“And what are you gonna do, eh?”

A bolt of blue magic zapped the Mewman on the nose with a targeted strike. He yipped in pain and ran with the others backing off as well. “Whoa…” Star glanced at her blue hands. Her magic was normally pink or purple, but never blue. This feels different, she let the sensation fizzle away. It felt like the magic belonged to…someone else. “Okay, that’s enough adventure for one day,” she panted.

“Yeah, let’s go straight home,” Marco agreed.

Without stopping, they journeyed through the rest of the town and into the monster settlement on the other side of the plain. While the Mewmans lingered and faded, the monsters thrived in the shadow of the Monster Temple, the new seat of the Butterfly royal family. Clean streets were surrounded by bustling shops and businesses that catered to the tastes of monsters. Houses of all sizes contained happy families with children playing in front of them. It was great to see the formerly oppressed monsters take advantage of their new freedoms. On top of the tallest hill, the Monster Temple gleamed like a crowning jewel. A fitting image of the new era of Mewni. Inside, servants continued renovations to make the space fitting for the new queen. In the midst of the change, baby Meteora crawled along the base of the main staircase babbling to herself.

“Hey, cutie,” Star scooped her in her arms. “Nice to be home again.” Meteora curled her tail and thrummed contently until Marco showed up. Her innocent, round eyes narrowed into tight slits, and she hissed at the boy.

Marco stood a safe distance away until Star placed the monster on the ground. “I don’t think her memories are completely gone,” he blinked.

“Nonsense,” Star dismissed his concerns. “She’s just a cute little baby.”

Archibald, the new head servant, fluttered into the main hall with Eclipsa following him. “Star Butterfly and Sir Marco are home!” He cheered. The queen was about to celebrate as well until she noticed they were tired, and that Moon and River were missing. She dismissed her servants and hugged both teens.

“I’m sorry the quest didn’t go well,” she said sincerely. Despite the fact Eclipsa was responsible for Moon’s disappearance, Star took comfort in her arms. They were not family by blood, but the queen had always been like a mother to the princess.

“We’re just taking a few days to rest,” Star replied when she pulled away. “A lot’s been going on, and I’ve been feeling sick lately.”

“Sick?” Eclipsa placed a hand on her forehead. “You do feel warm, sweetie. Tell me what’s wrong.”

A laugh from Glossaryck interrupted the moment, and he flew around Star. “I see we’re having a magical surge, my dear.” Star wasn’t used to him being able to speak yet, and his new voice startled her.

“What surge?” She asked.

“You’re using magic that isn’t yours, Star,” the blue man smiled cryptically then disappeared out the door.

Marco and Star shared a questioning glance at the comment. What was that all about, and what did Glossaryck mean about using magic that didn’t belong to her? Eclipsa cleared her voice, catching their attention. Concern swirled clearly in her pale purple eyes, chilling the blonde to ice. Her mentor loved to speak in vague riddles, and Eclipsa knew the truth behind his words. “Marco, dear,” the queen called. “Why don’t you head to the market and fetch Star some stomach medicine?”

“On it!” He kissed his girlfriend’s cheek and raced out of the castle, eager to fulfill his duties.

Uneasiness gnawed at Star’s guts, and she felt Eclipsa place a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s go to my study,” the queen said urgently. “We need to speak in private.”

Why? Star raised an eyebrow but followed obediently.

They went to the queen’s study on the top floor of the castle, high above the dimension. Star could see the sun sinking in the west just beyond the Spiderbite and Pigeon kingdoms. Its orange rays dragging across Mewni like spilled flame chased by the darkness coming from the east. The princess could lean on the windowsill and watch the night envelop her home, but fear pricked her mind when she sat on the cushioned seat under the window. Eclipsa’s expression was difficult to read, and the seriousness of her gaze seemed uncharacteristic for the easy-going queen. What about Glossaryck’s words scared her?

Eclipsa sat beside Star, and rested a hand on her lap in support, “So you mentioned you’ve been sick lately. For how long?”

Star shrugged, “Maybe a few days or so. It’s weird because I feel worse in the mornings, and I’m fine later on.”

The queen nodded, “Tell me, do you get mood swings and hot flashes?”

“Yeah, but I think it’s just stress. Sometimes, I want to skip around and have fun, other times I want to fight or cry.”

“One more question, when was the last time you’ve had your monthly visitor?”

That’s a weird question, Star wrinkled her nose at the idea of sharing personal information with Eclipsa, but she figured there wasn’t much to lose. As she thought about it, she couldn’t really remember the last time it happened—likely before battling Meteora—but stress had a way of messing with the body. “It’s been awhile…like a few months maybe—”

“Oh…oh dear,” Eclipsa recoiled and gasped.

“What?” Star tilted her head. “Am I dying?”

After a few moments of shock, Eclipsa calmed down again, “No, no, it’s just…I don’t know how to tell you this, but—” she took Star’s hands and gazed directly into her eyes. “Star, I think you’re pregnant.”

“WHAT?!” Star leapt to her feet and nearly choked in disbelief. Her mind went completely blank in fear. There was no way. There had to be a mistake. Just had to be. She couldn’t be pregnant at fifteen…no way! “It can’t be…”

Eclipsa squeezed her hands, “Have you and Marco been… questing?”

“Like questing or questing?” Star asked. Oh, …she blushed vividly, which answered the question. “But how do you know that…y’know.”

“All of the signs point to morning sickness, and Glossaryck mentioned you using different magic.”

“Yeah, it was blue.”

“That’s the baby’s magic,” Eclipsa nodded. “I first knew I was expecting Meteora because my magic randomly turned green.”

“So…I really am pregnant then…?” The news was overwhelming, and Star wanted to faint or scream or cry. Out of everything she had been through, the idea of being a mother on accident was the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced by far. What was going to happen now? And what about Marco…? The baby was definitely his, and Star could now pinpoint when it happened: the night they got together. Their relationship was only two months old….

“I know it’s scary,” Eclipsa sat her on the bench. “Trust me, when I found out about Meteora, I was too afraid to leave my room for days. But know this, I’m here for you, and we’re going to get through this.”

Star threw herself in her arms and started to cry. Her emotions swamped her in a great wave, choking her sobs in her chest. Eclipsa patted her shoulder, “Now, there’s one thing I can’t help you with. You have to tell Marco on your own.”

“But he’s going to freak out, and we just got together…” Star shivered at the thought of Marco leaving her. He easily could and had a right too. She messed up big time.

Eclipsa smiled, “Marco loves you, dear. I can’t imagine him responding with anything less of true love and support for both of you. I know you can’t see it, but he’s a wonderful young man who’ll make a wonderful father.”

“Yeah,” a faint smile formed on Star’s lips. Her adorable dork would be so attentive and devoted to ensuring their child grew up safe and healthy. I hope he lets the baby have fun once and a while, she snickered, thinking back to the day they had to babysit the Buff babies. Towards the end, he lightened up on the rules. Regardless, Star needed time to decompress before dropping the bombshell revelation on him. “I need some time alone.”

“I understand,” Eclipsa nodded. “Go ahead to your room. I’ll tell Marco you’re sleeping so he won’t disturb you.”

“Thanks.”

“It’s the least I can do,” the queen replied warmly. “I wished someone had been there for me, so I will be here for you.”

They hugged once more, and Star returned to her room and cried until sleep claimed her.


 

Several hours passed, and Star sat in silence on the top bunk, waiting for Marco to return. When Star had woken up a couple of hours ago, she briefly thought that everything from the previous hours had been a horrible nightmare. She wasn’t pregnant. Her exhaustion from the quest simply made her delusional, and she imagined the talk with Eclipsa. The symptoms were just in her head or came from the bowl of squirrel stew River cooked a few nights ago. Yet she noticed a blue glow in the darkness of the room, and it came from her hand. Blue like Earth sky, indicating her parentage. At first, anger flashed in Star’s mind. How could she have let this happen? Her life was plenty stressful as is with Mewni in ruins and her mother gone. Go away! She tried to force the glow to disappear but failed. Then curiosity and...love replaced the anger. How could she hate something she created? Especially since the baby also involved Marco, whom she loved more than anything. They did this together. Hi there, she smiled, I’m not mad at you, I promise. As if in reply, the glow disappeared.

“What am I going to do?” She sighed aloud and rolled onto her back. For now, the first priority was telling Marco because he had a right to know. Thinking about the inevitable stressed Star out, and she fished in her purse for something that would help her relax—a picture of her and Marco at the beach. They hadn’t gone to the beach together, but it assured her that one day they would. And we’ll be happy, she melted at the sight of the wide grin on Marco’s face. No matter how bad today appeared, there was a better tomorrow. While she stared at it, she heard a knock on the door.

“Are you okay?” Marco peeked his head in. “I was going to check on you earlier, but Eclipsa said you needed time alone.”

“You can come in,” she sat up, providing a place for him to sit next to her. Marco was already dressed for bed in his cute striped pajamas, and he passed her the bag of medicine. “I don’t need it right now, but thanks.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” he said with a confident smile on his face, “To make you feel better.”

He would be an amazing father, Star giggled slightly.

“What’s that in your hand? I never took you to the beach…”

“Oh, this?” She showed him the picture. “It’s a present from Father Time. You see—”

“What?!” Marco gasped. “So you’re telling me you’ve been carrying around a picture of the two of us from the future?! This is going to cause a major time paradox and—”

She placed a hand on her lap, “—Marco, that’s not the point. I look at this picture to remind me that one day we’re going to have this awesome beach day, which means all the bad things we’re going through will be over. I couldn’t be this happy otherwise.”

“Oooh,” Marco breathed. “While I still don’t like the idea of time paradoxes, I’ll make you this promise. After we find your mom, we’ll go on a beach day. Just the two of us.”

Yeah...the two of us, Star sighed wistfully. Before she could say anything, Marco kissed her cheek and hopped to the bottom bunk. “Try and get some sleep,” he told her. “You know I care about you.”

The lights shut off, and Star almost let the moment slip away. She could have too, but she couldn’t keep the truth from Marco. I’m not letting anything interrupt this conversation, she exhaled as she swung into his bunk. “Ow!” Her boyfriend whined when she landed on his side.

“Sorry,” she apologized and slid off. “Marco…there’s something I need to tell you…”

He instantly got up and took her hand, reading the terror on her face. “What’s up?”

Anxiety was palpable in the room like the mugginess before a storm, and Star felt tears well in her eyes. She counted two ways of delivering the news: getting straight to the point or meandering to it. The first option felt too jarring, and the second didn’t convey the urgency of the situation. Therefore, she opted for a little of each. “You know how I said I was sick earlier,” she started.

“You’re not getting worse, are you?” Marco worried. “Is it some kind of Mewnian disease I don’t understand?”

Here we go, she took his hand and faced him, “No, it’s not that. I talked to Eclipsa and…Marco, I’m pregnant.”

“What?!” He sharply gasped. “I got you pregnant…” His pupils shrunk to pinpoints, and he nearly fainted off the bed.

“I’m sorry,” she started to cry as the words tumbled out. “I truly am, and I don’t know what to do and—” A hug silenced her, followed by a tender pat on the back.

“No, I’m sorry,” Marco’s voice quivered. “I messed up on this too. And I know you’re scared—I am too—but it’s okay. I’m here, and I’ll always be here. I’m not leaving you.”

“You aren’t?”

He looked her directly in the eyes to convey his affection and uttermost seriousness, “I didn’t expect this at all… but I could never abandon you because I love you, Star. Actually, I love both of you.”

“I love you too.” Happy tears rolled down her heart-marked cheeks, and she kissed his lips. They stayed together for several moments, letting the moment fully settle. A million questions and “what ifs” floated in the air, begging for fate to solve them, but the most important question had been answered: Marco was going to stay.

Marco pulled her into bed with him, and they snuggled close together, “I always wanted to have a family with you. I didn’t expect one day to be today, but I guess we have a head start.”

“Yeah,” Star laughed gently at his attempt to lighten the mood.

“So wait, the blue magic earlier…?”

She nodded against his chest, “Yep, that was the baby.”

“I see she’s already talented with magic, just like you,” he remarked happily.

“How do you know the baby’s a girl?”

He chuckled, “I have a feeling. Am I wrong?”

“Nope, I think she’s a girl too.”

“Also, may I?” He held out his hand.

“You won’t feel anything,” Star pulled up her nightgown and placed his hand on her belly. “But I appreciate the thought.”

Marco rested his head on her chest and rubbed his hand over the place where their child rested deep inside of Star. “Hey, baby,” he crooned. “I know you can’t hear me yet, but I’m your father and I love you.  I promised your mother that I’m staying, so I’m making that promise to you too.”

A soft blue glow emanated from Star’s hands, making the new parents smile. They held each other, basking in each other’s arms while moonlight fell on them. A yawn roared from Marco, and his eyelids drooped, “I think it’s time to call it a night. We have a lot to do to make sure our baby is happy and healthy, and rest is at the top of that list.”

“Agreed,” Star snuggled closer to him. Welcome to the family.


 

Morning came swiftly, and Star and Marco kissed while tangling their limbs together. After the shock wore off, a celebratory mood settled on the pair. Despite how strange their sudden happiness seemed, they enjoyed the feeling. They were having a baby! They created life together. She pinned Marco to the mattress, cupping his cheek in her hand. “Good morning, Marco,” she giggled. “Are you excited about being a new dad?”

“Of course,” he played with her hair. “I’m glad we have these few days off. It’ll be just you and me and—”

“STAR!”

“LEVITATO!” Star shot Marco and the top bunk into the air with a spell when River barged in. Her father failed to notice.

“Quick!” He waved his arms. “I found a lead on your mother. She’s on Pie Island, and we have to save her from those dreaded Pie Folk!”