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sweep me off my feet

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“Witches don’t exist,” he scoffed. “Grow up and stop playing pretend.” Damian looked down at the girl in front of him, mentally laughing at the sight of the frown on her face and her tiny hands balled into fists.

His family had the misfortune of living next to the Forgers, the town ‘crazies’. They were rumored to be a family of witches, all three of them- husband, wife, and daughter. The townspeople even looked warily at their massive white dog, and the gossip mill churned out rumor after rumor about them. That said dog was actually a dragon, the Forgers worshipped Satan, they performed ritualistic sacrifices, it went on and on. Being right next door, Damian Desmond had it on good authority none of those rumors were true. If anything, the Forgers were just strange. 

Mr. Forger was always coming and going with oddly shaped packages, Mrs. Forger kept a garden in the back of their home, containing unfamiliar exotic plants, and their daughter? Well, Anya was the strangest one of all. She had bubblegum pink hair and big emerald green eyes and she insisted day after day that she and her parents used magic.

Yeah, right.

He asked her to prove it, and time and time again, she failed. She couldn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat, make a coin disappear, or even make something levitate using the wooden branch she called a ‘wand’. 

The only time she ever succeeded was when it came to guessing the card he pulled out of a randomly shuffled deck, but he attributed that to luck. She did, after all, have a one out of fifty-two chance of guessing his card. 

That afternoon began with him studying in his room, as he usually did on the weekends, when he was disturbed by clinks against the glass of his window. He abandoned his textbook and went over to open the window, to find Anya Forger, waving up at him with pebbles in hand. 

“Let’s go on an adventure!” she called.

He frowned down at her and looked back at his textbook. Unlike her, he cared about school and didn’t worry about superfluous things like ‘magic’.

“Please,” she pleaded. “I’m bored.”

( if magic did exist, at some point, she had to have placed a bewitching spell on him, and that was why he always went along with her dumb requests)

Her plan today was that she wanted to catch a frog (to practice her metamorphosis spells she explained) and somehow that ended with the two of them falling into the pond behind their houses. 

Muddy, soaking wet, and shivering, he regrettably lost his temper. Anyone else would have been deterred, but not her

“I’m not pretending! I am a witch!” she exclaimed. Damian almost would have said the way she stomped her foot was cute, if not for the fact, he wanted to throttle her for getting him muddy and drenched. 

“Every time you’ve tried to prove it has been a failure. How am I supposed to believe you?” 

Anya scowled at him from underneath the wet hair plastered to her face. She brushed it aside carelessly, “I can prove it! I swear!” She thought for a moment, and he watched as her face lit up. “I know how I can prove it to you. It’ll work this time. Promise.”

“What if it doesn’t?” he asked immediately. 

“Then I’ll never mention being a witch ever again.”

He considered it for a second before holding out his hand, “Fine.”

She shook his hand, and as they walked back to their respective homes, she outlined the plan she had. He didn’t hear a single word that came out of her mouth, as he was still preoccupied with the thought of how nicely her hand fit in his own. 

“Meet me here after sunset, okay?” Anya said when they reached her house. “I’ll prove it to you, for once and for all.”

“Whatever you say,” he replied, rolling his eyes. “See you then.”

Once home, Damian showered and changed, avoiding the questioning stares of his family, and hastily ate dinner before excusing himself. He made sure to wear something he wouldn’t mind getting dirty this time. He snuck past his father’s office and quietly opened the side door to sneak out, then gently shut it behind him. His parents were normally fine with his comings and goings, but, like most of the town, they were wary of the Forgers and preferred he limit his interactions with them. Unfortunately for him, that was impossible.

He waited by the fence separating his yard from the Forgers’, wondering what Anya had in mind this time when the girl (sorry, witch) in question appeared outside. She waved excitedly from her yard, a long wooden object in hand. He looked at the object and then at her eager expression. His incredulity grew as he stared at what she was holding.

“Anya, that’s a-”

“Yup! A broom!” She flashed a smile at him. 

“Are you going to sweep the path or…?” he trailed off, unwilling to accept what she clearly had in mind. 

“No, silly, we’re going on a ride!” She looked up at the clear night sky. “It’s the perfect night for one.”

At this point, he was embarrassed for her. This was too far gone, and he had half a mind to tell her that when she gestured for him to hurry up. Sighing, he opened the gate to the Forgers’ yard and went over to where Anya was standing with a broomstick as tall as her. 

“This’ll prove it to you!” she said as she held the broomstick parallel to the ground. She swung one of her legs over it and firmly grasped the portion of the broom handle in front of her. “Okay, climb on.”

Damian grimaced as he followed suit, feeling exceptionally silly to be ‘sitting’ on a broom in the middle of his neighbor’s yard.  

“Make sure you hold on,” she warned.

“What do you mean hold on-”

Before he knew it, she muttered something unrecognizable under her breath and his feet suddenly left the ground. Damian looked down, shocked to find the ground getting further away and they appeared to rise through the air. He instinctively grabbed the closest thing to him, which in this case, was Anya. He snaked his arms around her waist and clung to her.

She started laughing, causing the broom to shake (and for him to hold her tighter), while they were up in the air, about as high as the second story of his house. 

“Well? What do you think?” she asked. 

“Okay, okay, I believe you. Can we get down now?”

“Is the great Damian Desmond afraid of heights?” she teased, still laughing. 

“No!” Nonetheless, his cheeks burned, especially as the wind picked up, causing Anya’s hair to fly right in his face. 

“Hm, it should be fine if we just go for a quick loop around the forest,” she mused out loud. “Just so you know, I do have my provisional license.” Without letting him get a word in otherwise, she leaned forward. They suddenly sped up, and his heart leaped out of his chest, as they swerved in between the treetops. It seemed she had no destination in mind, as she steered the broom randomly. 

As his heart slowly returned to his chest, Damian begrudgingly admitted to himself this was rather magical. Seeing the familiar area he had grown up in in such a different perspective, with only the light of the moon and stars to illuminate their way, he thought it did almost have a mystical quality. Almost .

“Isn’t it pretty?” Anya asked. She looked over her shoulder and smiled when she saw the unconcealed wonder in his eyes. She pointed at the stars above them, “Papa tried to teach me the constellations, but it never stuck,” she said sheepishly. “Maybe one day.”

She brought them to a stop, high above the treetops, making the town seem like playthings in the distance. It felt strange, being up in the night sky surrounded by the stars with nothing else around them. He spoke up, after a while, reluctantly breaking the magic of the moment. “We should head back soon. We have school tomorrow.”

“You’re right,” she sighed sadly. She gently steered the broom around, back towards their neighborhood. “This was fun though, right?”

“It was.” Damian cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, by the way,” he mumbled, “For doubting you before this.”

“It's okay! As long as you believe me now.” They flew back in companionable silence, and when they were right above the Forgers’ yard, Anya once again muttered something under her breath before suddenly gasping. “Oh, no-”

Whatever magic had been keeping the broom midair disappeared, and the two of them fell onto the grass haphazardly. Damian groaned, as Anya, who had fallen on top of him, elbowed his stomach. Their crash landing caused lights to go on in both houses, and to his embarrassment, Mr. and Mrs. Forger came out of the house in a rush. 

“Anya, are you okay?” Mrs. Forger asked. “Oh my god, Damian, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he managed to get out. “If Anya could just get off me, I would be better.”

Mr. Forger helped Anya up, and then him, and the two teens cringed seeing the stern look on his face. “Where were you, young lady?”

“I- we went for a ride. On Mama’s broom.” She looked down meekly. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t even have your license yet, and you’re still learning-” Damian could sense the beginnings of a long lecture, and surprised everyone, including himself, by cutting him off.

“Don’t be mad at her, Mr. Forger, I asked her to take me.”

“You did?” he asked, dumbfounded.

Damian nodded. “Yes, I did, and I insisted that it would be fine. I should be the one apologizing to you.”

Mrs. Forger spoke up, “Loid, it’s fine, they made it back safely, and they’re both in one piece.” She smiled kindly at the two of them. “Just promise to let us know before you go next time.”

“Of course! Next time I’ll ask first,” Anya said. “I’m sorry for making you worry.”

“Just don’t do it again,” Mr. Forger sighed. He turned to Damian. “Have a good night.”

“Good night,” Damian said, waving awkwardly as he left. He returned to his house next door, dreading the interrogation from his parents, as he turned the doorknob.

He paused before walking in.

What did Anya mean by next time ?