Life at Garrison Academia for aspiring Witches and Wizards sure never was boring.
Keith couldn’t remember a day that had ended as planned. From frogs that were accidentally turned into teacup pigs instead of actually teacups to exploding broomsticks – every day brought something new.
Keith wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it, but he loved the school. He loved the noble flair, loved the old Victorian building, the elegant circular staircases, the high ceilings and wide windows that offered a view over the whole town at the foot of the hill their school was built upon. It was a beautiful view that accompanied them on the way to their classes. And even the pointy hats and sweeping robes everyone had to wear were kind of charming.
One grey morning in October, Keith was sitting in the dining hall enjoying the peaceful autumn morning, when he noticed things were too calm to stay like this for long. The second Lance burst into the dining hall, Keith new the day promised to get troublesome.
“Guess what this is?” Without any forewarning, Lance waved a vial in front of his face, filled with disgustingly pink liquid and screwed with a crystalline cork. Keith hated the fact that Lance interrupted him from eating his breakfast. He had been waiting for the tiny pumpkin pies for months, and pumpkin season had finally begun. The cooks in the kitchen had been generous with using pumpkins in all of their recipes.
“I don’t know. Truth elixir?” Keith groaned while setting down the piece of pie on his fork. He knew his classmate well enough to know he would not be getting another chance to eat anytime soon. Besides being known for being a disaster in class (unfortunately, Keith had a very vivid memory of a mispronounced spell causing him to spend a week without eyebrows), Lance was prone to talk. A lot.
“This, Keith, is a love potion!” Lance explained triumphantly, his face beaming with pride. “And it’s gonna help me finally make Allura see that she’s into me. She will so want to go to the Halloween party with me.”
Yeah, definitely sounded like a foolproof plan.
“That’s a stupid idea, Lance,” Keith groaned, rolling his eyes. He braced himself to start his whole, ‘Lance, you’re sure this isn’t going to backfire?’ speech, just as Lance unscrewed the vial.
“Try to stop me.” And of course, Lance’s warning came too late. Before Keith could so much as raise an eyebrow at him, Lance hands slipped the content of the vial into the mug of steaming hot cocoa in front of him.
Both guys could see the hot cocoa turn a noxious purple before it started foaming. Ten seconds later, the drink was back to its normal color, any sign of the odd ingredient gone.
“Oops. Now I have to wait for Allura, she loves hot cocoa.”
Seeing Lance’s grin caused Keith to roll his eyes again before he attended to more important matters. There was a pumpkin pie waiting to be devoured.
“You’re such an idiot, Lance,” he said before stuffing his mouth.
“Who’s an idiot?”
Keith could feel the warm hand firmly squeezing his shoulder before he saw his friend Shiro standing next to him, strikingly handsome in his black robes. The purple pin on his chest glistened in the morning sun, proudly showing his status as tutor and prefect. Shiro might have been three grades ahead of them, about to finish his education at the Garrison, but he had told him in secret that he preferred spending time with Keith and his friends after his last break-up had left him with no friends in his own grade.
Keith would never dare to tell him, but next to feeling resentment at Shiro’s classmates for turning their backs on him, the confession that Shiro preferred his company made him so happy, he’d accidentally bewitched the glass cup he was supposed to turn into a notebook with a heart pattern.
Shiro’s voice was soft and warm, still a bit drowsy as he slumped down next to Keith – right in front of the tainted mug.
“Is that hot cocoa? Wow, thank you!”
The second it took Keith to realize what was about to happen, it was already too late. Shiro had grabbed the mug. Horrified, Keith remembered how Shiro loved everything chocolate.
There was dread in Keith’s eyes as Shiro lifted the mug to his lips, and he opened his mouth in an attempt to stop Shiro.
“Shiro don’t ––!” Keith could only see the spark in Lance’s eyes before he sent a bread roll flying into Keith’s mouth with a levitating spell – stopping Keith from any further interjection.
“Hmpfhmpf,” was all Keith could mutter. The second he managed to free his mouth from the bread roll was the same moment Shiro took a big sip from his cup.
And it was too late.
Shiro drank the tainted cocoa. Just like that.
“You okay?” Shiro asked, looking at him, and Keith could swear he could see hearts in his eyes. His gaze was soft, and so was his smile, full of adoration. Keith was sure it had to do with the love potion.
He was so going to kill Lance.
Shiro’s enamored expression went away as soon as it had come. All of a sudden, his face changed into discomfort and his arm wrapped around his belly. “Urgh,” was all he could utter, causing Keith to jump up.
“Shiro, are you alright? Are you hurt?” Keith was anxious. What if Lance had done something wrong when mixing the potion, causing it to turn into poison? What if Shiro died from drinking it? There was no way they could explain that to their teachers without Lance getting kicked out of school – and Keith along with him for good measure since he hadn’t done anything to prevent the deed.
“Oh, I’m… sorry, I think I have to excuse myself. My stomach is killing me,” Shiro explained, raising himself to leave the dining hall. Before Keith could offer his help, Shiro had vanished, probably off to the infirmary.
“Lance, what have you done?” Keith was angry. Very angry. Why could Lance not be a responsible wizard for once in his life? There had been enough incidents in the past few years that had left him so close to being killed or expelled that he should have learned not to try any new spells or potions on anyone.
“It’s a joke, Keith.” Lance threw up his hands in front of his chest, trying to defend himself. It didn’t help much when Keith grabbed him by the collar of his robe.
“I swear, if you’ve poisoned him...” Keith was sure there were mere inches between them as he pulled Lance so close he could easily spit into his face.
Before he could do so, Lance rolled his eyes while he reached for Keith’s hands to loosen his grip. “It’s only a love potion, it’ll wear off in a couple of days.”
“You’re such a dumbass,” Keith growled, resigned, and let go of Lance. There was no way Lance would ever learn from his mistakes. He decided it was a waste of time trying to lecture Lance when he had to worry about Shiro.
“Chill, Keith. I’m pretty sure I fucked it up anyway. It’s way too weak, it won’t work on Shiro.” For someone who had just potentially poisoned an upperclassman, Lance was acting way too chill.
Keith was confused but did not want to go into detail. “And if it does?”
“Well, Keith, my friend. How about you use the chance to get your head out of your ass and finally do something about that stupid crush of yours?” His hand tingled, wanting to punch the smug grin from Lance’s face.
How did he know about his crush on Shiro?
Keith was doomed.
He was sure Lance must have done something wrong with the potion. Maybe he hadn’t used enough frog eyes or forgot to add the mandrake.
If Shiro was affected by the love potion, he was way too subtle about it
He had returned from his trip to the infirmary, seemingly normal, and Keith had to squint really hard to see the effects of the potion. His gaze was still all soft when they talked and his words were underlined by the slightest tremor of nervousness.
Keith was sure Shiro was touching him more often, resting a comforting hand on his shoulder here and there or letting his fingers linger on his skin longer than necessary when he handed him things.
When they sat together to study, Shiro would bend over, way closer than before, making Keith’s skin explode in goosebumps whenever he felt Shiro’s hot breath against his neck.
He was sitting especially close to Keith during breakfast, spending way more time with Keith and his friends. He even offered to give Keith private lessons in Transmutation (which led to a dumb comment from Lance, “Guess what he wants you to transmutate. I’m sure he would love to practice your ‘erectus’ spell.” – which caused Keith to accidentally set fire to the three pages of homework Lance had just finished writing.)
Keith was pretty sure Shiro was making eyes at him every time they crossed each other in the halls. Or when they would meet in the library. Or during his seminar. Or basically anytime.
(And Keith would definitely not complain about Shiro sneaking him pumpkin pies from the kitchen because the cooks love him so much.)
A week later, the love potion still had not subsided. Causing Keith to worry.
Even if the potion had not been as powerful as Keith had feared it to be, Shiro’s raised adoration could not be denied.
Especially not when Shiro had pulled him aside after one of his seminars, asking him to wait for him. As the last of the other students had made their way out of the classroom, Shiro came up to him, his posture weirdly stern and a determined expression.
“Are you free this weekend?” The words were blurted out, so different from Shiro’s usual behavior. Keith’s put it on the list of influences the love potion still seemed to have on him.
“Yeah, I still have to write that essay for Potions, but otherwise no plans,” Keith explained while putting the last of his parchments back into his bag. Looking up, he could see Shiro awkwardly shift his weight from one leg to another, crossing and uncrossing his arms before speaking again.
“Would you like to grab a coffee with me? On Saturday?” It was so unlike Shiro to blurt out his words like that. They sounded practiced, as if they didn’t come naturally to him. Which surprised Keith. Getting coffee with their friends was nothing unusual.
Grabbing the last of his quills, he answered Shiro casually. “Yeah sure. I’ll ask the others if they have time.”
“Ah no. I…” Keith could see Shiro’s cheeks getting redder, could see him scratching his cheek, seemingly shy. Shy? If Shiro was one thing, it was self-confident and proud. Never had he encountered a shy and flustered Shiro. He really had to talk to Lance again. They had to come up with a counterspell.
“I would prefer if it was only the two of us.” Keith was sure there was a tint of despair mixed into his words.
“Only the two of us? But what about the others?” As soon as the words left his mouth, Keith’s brain had managed to connect the dots. Was Shiro really --
“I’m asking you on a date, Keith.”
Oh , indeed.
As Shiro’s behavior towards him got less subtle, Keith grew more desperate.
The invitation to their date had caught him off-guard, utterly and completely surprised him. Looking back an hour later, Keith couldn’t even remember how exactly he said, ‘Yes’. Going on a date with Shiro had been something he had never dared to hope for, not since he had realized he had a stupid crush on his tutor in his first year at the Garrison.
Keith had been a loner when he had started at the wizarding school, not willing to make any friends. Long before Lance had kind of kidnapped him into the weird group of friends from his year, Shiro had talked to him, helped him with getting used to his classes, showed him around campus, and had taken him on broom rides to see the most beautiful sunsets.
Keith blamed it entirely on his hormones and the stupid sunsets that he had spent more and more mornings waking up with the dire need to change sheets. (He was happy the sheets were changed by magic. Otherwise, he would have also been in a dire need to come up with an excuse for the obvious stains.)
It was that stupid crush that had made him say yes to Shiro’s invitation. Even if he technically knew that Shiro was still under the influence of Lance’s stupid love potion. (At least that’s what he assumed. Shiro would have never asked him on a date otherwise, that much was sure.)
He felt bad about taking advantage of Shiro’s state of mind as he walked down the spiraling staircase, spotting Shiro waiting for him at the exit of their dorms, a shy smile on his lips and wearing his best robes. And he felt even worse when Shiro handed him his broom, asking him, with a tint of red around his nose, to race him down the hill to the nearby town. Shiro was adorable. And everything in Keith screamed to stop it right there, not to let things get too far.
The worst thing would be to get his own hopes up.
Keith was sure it would shatter him as soon as the effect of the potion stopped.
They walked through the small town, which was dotted with many tiny cafés and stores stacked with witching supplies.
The people here were aware of their vicinity to the witching school and had even built their lives around them, so the town was bursting with customers from the Garrison as well as foreign witches flying in to do their shopping. Some of the finest bookstores with the noblest assortments and oldest spellbooks could be found in the town. They had even built a small broom port where they regulated air traffic and offered broom parking.
After leaving their brooms at the port, Shiro had led him through the small alleys, apparently aimlessly wandering while they spent what seemed hours browsing window displays of several witching supplies and laughing about the most random objects they could find. (You can attach those wings to pigs, Keith! Letting pigs fly. Do you get it?” “Stop it, Shiro.”)
While they walked, Keith could feel Shiro’s hand brush against his a few times, in an attempt to lace their fingers. Being well aware that Keith wouldn’t be holding hands with his friend as long as he was under the influence of any potion – only to spare Shiro the humiliation of finding out once the effect had stopped – Keith waved the approaching fingers away, earning him a sad, “Sorry.” from Shiro that made his heart heavy.
It broke him to hurt Shiro like that.
The crisp October air was cold against his face as they exited a small craft shop where Shiro had stocked up on quills and ink bottles.
It wasn’t until Keith pulled his robe closer that he noticed a weight at his leg. Looking down, he found a black cat huddling against his pants.
With the way the fluffy back tail wrapped around his leg, there was no way Keith couldn’t squat down to pet the cat. It was really trusting, snuggling up against his hand immediately.
“Animals like you.” Shiro’s smile was soft when he crouched down next to him, holding a hand out for the cat to smell.
Keith only shrugged, his eyes fixed on the cat that was curling around his hand. He couldn’t let himself be wooed by Shiro’s charms, not when it wasn’t his real feelings involved.
“My mom has a cat familiar and she ended up feeding all the stray cats around our house. She’s an old cat witch goals.” He had to chuckle when he thought of the dozen cats that roamed his mother’s herbary.
“I prefer dogs. My dad can transform himself into a big wolfhound, it’s amazing. You should see it someday,” Keith continued. Witches were supposed to use their magic for good causes only, but, surely, transforming into a wolf and letting your son ride on your back to make him laugh was a good thing, wasn’t it?
“Oh right, you’re from a witching family,” Shiro noted and Keith could swear he sounded a bit resigned. “I’m envious.”
Keith stopped petting the cat and lifted his gaze to look directly into Shiro’s eyes. “Yeah, but you know, I don’t think it matters.” The tone in his words changed to something harsh, startling the cat. Keith could see her tail waving dangerously slow in the corner of his eye.
“Shiro, you’re one of the brightest students at Garrison and you’re a natural when it comes to charms. You should be proud.”
“Keith.” Shiro was still crouching next to him, all efforts to lure the cat to him forgone as the cat was too invested with Keith.
“I know people from witching families who can’t do a simple levitating spell to save their lives,” Keith explained, having some of his classmates in mind. Lance was from a witching family and his potions were a mess. Their friend Pidge sucked at Enchanted Beasts and her boyfriend Hunk wouldn’t be caught dead riding a broom.
Having magic in your family by no means made you perfect – Keith had learned that the hard way. He really wished he was better in Transmutation and he admired Shiro for having the patience to work so hard to excel in every subject.
“Thank you, Keith.” They shared a smile and Keith tried so hard not to let it get too close to his heart. He wished he could enjoy their date without having the nagging thought about the influence of the love potion in mind.
“Now, what do you think about pumpkin juice?” Shiro asked, trying to lift their spirits. He stood up and Keith followed in a swift motion, causing the cat to run off
“Sounds perfect,” Keith answered as they headed down the alley.
Strolling the tiny alleys of the town with Shiro was relaxing. They talked a lot, laughed a lot, and Keith could feel Shiro walking closer to him than he usually would.
As the chill October air sent another shudder down his spine, he suddenly felt Shiro’s hand wrap around his shoulder, softly rubbing his arm to warm him up.
“You’re cold.” It was a statement, not a question.
“It’s okay,” Keith explained, giving a little shrug against Shiro’s arm and using it as an excuse to huddle deeper into the embrace.
As much as he hated the damn potion for making Shiro especially charming, Keith also hated how much his heart ached as soon as Shiro let go of his embrace, stopping in his tracks.
He was compensated, though, when Shiro reached out for him, baring his hand for him to hold.
“Hey, let me show you something!”
As he found himself being dragged through a beautiful back alley vegetated with vine tendrils brushed in red from looming fall to the smallest café he’d ever seen, Keith could feel tiny bats flutter in his chest, his stomach, at the tips of his fingers where he touched Shiro.
Shiro did not let go of his hand, not when they found a table in the back of the shop, not when they ordered hot pumpkin lattes, not when their empty mugs where long forgotten and they exchanged stories of particularly bad broom outings.
The bats wouldn’t vanish – if anything, they multiplied, as Shiro’s thumb started softly grazing the back of his hand where their fingers were interlaced on the table.
Keith wished so much for all of it to be true.
But it wasn’t.
The Halloween parties at the Garrison Academia for aspiring Witches and Wizards were legendary. Being famous for their lavish festivities, they had a reputation to uphold – and tried their best to outdo themselves each year. So it was no wonder the halls were decorated with spiderwebs, slutty pumpkins and hovering candles as soon as the date changed to October 31st, giving the school a medieval touch it would otherwise try its best to deny. They had even black cats flying around the dining hall on tiny broomsticks.
Shiro would call it charming and Keith would nudge him in the side for the bad pun.
Keith always hated how the whole school exaggerated on Halloween. Though he had to admit the pumpkin pies on the big buffet that had been put up on one side of the dining hall were even more amazing than usual. The whole buffet was astonishing, with cupcakes that looked like graves and soup that had what looked like candy eyeballs. At least Keith hoped they were candy.
Their usual dinner tables had been cast aside, making room for a dance floor in the middle of the room. Some pumpkin-headed band members were jamming Rock’n’roll songs and it was embarrassing seeing their Charms professor try out her ancient dance moves.
From where he was standing next to Shiro on the side of the dance floor, sipping at fresh pumpkin juice, they laughed at Lance’s attempt to woo Shiro’s fellow classmate and tutor, Allura, with his dancing skills.
When Shiro asked him to dance, Keith was fast to decline. He definitely was no dancer and he did not want to give Shiro false hope with being too close. He still felt like there were some lingering effects of the potion, the way Shiro fidgeted with his words and stood extra close to him over the whole evening.
As he declined, Shiro lured him outside with the promise of fresh air instead.
The balcony offered an amazing view over the valley below, the lights of the town illuminating the ground while the sunset bathed the sky in beautiful hues of orange and red.
Shiro was also looking good when he smiled down at him, the way he always did, his pointy hat decorated with a spiderweb, a small spider dangling off the edge on a thread on one side of his hat.
“I love the view,” Keith said while leaning against the railing. His empty glass was placed on one of the decorative pillars.
It was when Shiro cleared his throat that Keith’s attention was drawn from the view to his friend. From the way Shiro’s eyes were fixed on him, Keith wasn’t sure if he had referred to the view. “Keith,” Shiro spoke, a bit hesitant.
“Hm?” Keith noticed how Shiro suddenly seemed all tense, standing upright, shoulders drawn back. It looked similar to the time he had asked him for a date. Keith squinted his eyes. Was he still under the influence of the potion?
“Keith, you’re an amazing person. You’re kind and.. and you don’t always hate me for my bad puns. You’re a great wizard and you’re a natural on a broom.”
Keith felt his cheeks heat up. sure they were bright red by now. He was definitely not used to being praised like this. He felt mediocre in every way – at best. Shiro exaggerated beyond measure.
“Same goes for you,” was all Keith could stammer.
Because Shiro was.
“No, let me... how do I do this? You’re amazing, Keith.” Shiro emphasized his words, his gaze still fixed on Keith. He had come at least two inches closer in the last seconds, slightly bending into Keith’s space.
There was a short silence where Keith found himself looking up at Shiro expectedly. He had no idea where Shiro wanted to go with this.
“What I wanted to say is…” Closing his eyes, Shiro had to take a break to take a deep breath.
“Keith, I… I really like you and...would you like to be my boyfriend?”
“Shiro,” was all Keith could whisper, not knowing if he should be happy or sad about the confession. In his wildest dreams, he hadn’t hoped for Shiro to reciprocate his feelings. Having him confess to him like this, under the influence of the potion, had to be a bad joke.
“I’m sorry, Shiro.”
He could see Shiro’s face fall, see the devastation in Shiro’s eyes.
And it hurt so bad to tell him these words. “I would love to say yes, but…. You’re not yourself. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
There was only one thing for Keith to do. And he had to do it now. Before he would cause Shiro any more harm.
“I… have to find Lance.” Before Shiro could say anything else, Keith had turned on the spot, dashing off.
Lance was a dead man.
“LANCE!” It was nearly aggressive how he pinned Lance against the nearest wall, yelling the words into his face. He didn’t care if he actually spit into Lance’s face. He deserved to be yelled at. “Your love potion. How do I make it stop?”
“What are you talking about, Keith?” Trying to put some distance between them, Lance grabbed Keith’s hands around the collar of his festive robe. “It didn’t work. The love potion was a failure. It gave people stomach cramps for a day and that’s it. Allura slapped me for it. It definitely didn’t work.”
His brain stopped working, a pumpkin pie exploded, and somewhere next to them, a black cat fell from its tiny broom and landed on its feet.
Shiro wasn’t under a spell.
“But Shiro…” It couldn’t be.
Their private lessons. Their date. The handholding. The confession.
“Shiro was never under any influence.” Lance coughed as soon as Keith weakened his grip, letting Lance breathe.
His mind was not concerned with Lance’s health at all. There were more serious matters to attend.
If the potion did not work, that would mean….
“ Damn ,” Keith exclaimed. He had been such a fool. “I have to find Shiro. I swear someday I’m gonna kill you, Lance.”
“What the hell, man?” was all Keith heard from Lance as he turned and headed off to search Shiro. With bouncing steps, Keith made his way back to the balcony in the hope to find Shiro we he had left him.
And indeed, he found a crestfallen Shiro sitting on a bench and letting pebbles juggle in the air before him with a flick of his wand.
“Shiro.” As soon as the name was spoken, the pebbles fell to the ground and Shiro startled. Apparently he hadn’t heard the approaching footsteps over the sound of music coming from inside.
“Oh, hi Keith.” His discomfort was visible from the way he was wrapping his arm over his chest. There was a smile on his face, but it looked so fake, barely able to hide the sadness in his eyes.
Keith stepped closer, coming to a halt in front of his bench, pointing at the space next to Shiro. “This seat taken?”
“It’s okay Keith,” Shiro explained while skidding to the side to make room for Keith. “You don’t have to say anything. I’ve misread your signs.”
He looked so broken, with his shoulders slouched and his head slightly hanging.
“No. Shiro––” Keith started but was interrupted by Shiro.
“Let me finish, please.” Shiro looked up, staring at the starry sky above. The sunset had long past and made way to beautiful constellations. “I’ll do my best not to make you uncomfortable. We don’t have to talk to each other anymore if you don’t want to. I completely understand if you prefer keeping a distance from me.”
Keith hated seeing Shiro like this. He had just been rejected and still, he tried to be as understanding as possible, giving Keith as much space as he wanted.
Good thing Keith didn’t need any space. “What if I don’t want to?”
Blazingly fast, Shiro turned his face to Keith, as well as his whole upper body, losing his balance a little so he said, “Huh?”
“I don’t want to distance myself from you. That’s like – the complete opposite of what I want to do.” Keith shifted closer, his eyes piercing, giving Shiro no choice but to look at him. His hand found Shiro’s hand were is was resting between them.
“Shiro. Lance is a dumbass and I would like to date you.” Because it was simple like that.
Shiro’s eyes widened in surprise, the corners of his mouth curling up, not able to hide his joy. “Keith, I’m... what?” Keith rolled his eyes at Shiro’s disbelieve a bit more dramatic than necessary.
He decided to spell it out to Shiro.
“You. Me. Dating. Going out. Holding hands. Snogging. The real shit.”
“But what about…,” Shiro stammered, an adoring tint of red on his cheeks. Keith’s hand that wasn’t busy holding Shiro’s came up to cup Shiro’s jaw.
“Shiro.” Their eyes met and Shiro’s expression softened as he finally realized that Keith was not joking. “Just shut up and kiss me.”
Shiro was happy to oblige.
And their kiss was magic.