"You are not taking my jacket next time," Luz growled while rubbing her arms for warmth. "I only have like one jacket left at home."
"It's your fault for dragging me out of my warm manor. At night no less." Amity retorted, straightening out the bomber jacket covering her.
"Just bring a damn sweater next time! Or better yet, take one of the other jackets you've stolen from me!"
"I have, like, one sweater, and it's horrid. Not happening."
"Then stop always wearing clothes like you're staying inside all day. And just bring me my jackets!"
Luz bumped into Amity making her stumble. "You fucking asshole," Luz couldn't help but chuckle.
Amity gave her a shove back, but Luz managed to dodge it.
Continuing down the moonlit path the pair continued to give each other small nudges amongst the trees. As they slowly made their way to the Owl House the nudges became weaker and weaker until their sides were pressed against each other.
Luz had the excuse of keeping herself warm, while Amity had none.
"Can you stop clinging on to me?" Amity scolded.
"You’re warm. Either give me my jacket-"
"No," Amity interrupted.
"Or we're staying like this."
After pressing against each other just a little more Luz suddenly jolted back making Amity frown at the loss of contact.
"Jesus!" Luz exclaimed while swatting at her ear.
"There's always something with you…"
"Some large bug must've flown right by my ear."
"Cry about it…" Amity mumbled.
"You really gotta lose that snarkiness," Luz said while bumping into Amity again, bringing their sides close to each other yet again. "It can not be good for your health.
"Whatever," Amity mublemed back, too preoccupied by the brown head of hair now resting on her shoulder. She was thankful for the darkness of the night, but the bright moon made her reaction difficult to hide.
Luz kept her eyes forward, however, and as they continued walking Amity lowered her shoulders and, almost subconsciously, closed the distance between their heads making mint green hair brush against dark brown.
They weren’t too far away from the Owl House when Luz broke the serene silence.
"Ams?" Luz asked with an uncommon softness.
"Have you… Well I know you had Willow, but after that. And Boscha and her gang don't count. Did you have a reason to, uh… When you were in the manor did you…" Luz trailed off.
"You’re gonna have to crank up the syntax a few notches there, Luz."
Luz chuckled "Alright, alright… Just hold on."
Luz stopped, making Amity stop soon after before turning to fully face Luz.
The sight made her go wide eyed, however.
Down Luz's face ran two continuous streaks of tears.
"Alright, so" Luz stopped herself when she looked up at Amity. "What? Do I have something on my face?"
Luz reached her hand up to her face making her fingers wet with salty tears.
"What the hell?!" she exclaimed before looking back up at Amity. "Am I crying?!"
Amity nodded while wearing an incredulous expression.
Heavy tear drops began falling from the bottom of Luz's chin and onto the dusty path. Luz caught the tears with her hands in bewilderment as the streams emanating from her eyes only increased in strength.
"Luz are you-?”
“Did you fucking hex me or something? I can’t see shit!” water began to pool up in her eyes and Luz had to rapidly blink to keep her vision clear.
An icy feeling spread through Amity’s stomach. “No! I haven’t seen any sort of hex like that. Can’t you hold it in? Try and close your eyes.”
Luz shut her eyes taught, but to no avail. Tears pressed their way between her eyelids and the streams were only getting stronger still.
“Fuck it stings! And my head fucking hurts!” Luz complained.
A large ball of ice had cemented itself in Amity’s stomach by now and she was reaching out to Luz. Luz fumbled, but managed to get a grip on Amity’s hand before the witch reached around the human's shoulder with her other hand.
“Let’s go get Eda. She might know about whatever this is,” Amity began leading Luz down the path holding her tightly against her while maintaining a firm grip on her hand. Amity could feel Luz’s hold on her hand tighten as they walked and noticed she was breathing heavily. Looking over, Luz had a pained expression on her face and was breathing through clenched teeth.
As the Owl House came into view Luz’s steps became sluggish and with her grip around Amity’s hand loosening Amity had to more and more help keep Luz upright.
“Am’s… I can’t. You- you’re w-” Luz’s mumbelig trailed off as her whole body became limp.
Amity’s breath hitched and her stomach turned. With her heart beating out of her chest she found the strength to drape Luz over her just enough for her to carry her to the doorstep of the Owl House.
Before even noticing anything wrong, Hooty’s brain had made the connection of ‘green hair bad’ and opened the door long before Amity came barreling through the doorway, the word ‘fuck’ said over and over in rapid sucession.
“EDA!” Amity shouted while falling to her knees while holding Luz’s upper body close.
“Do you kids know what time it is!?” Amity heard from the top of the stairs.
"You’re both grown up, I can’t help you at every little inconvenience.”
Amity paid her little mind as she brushed Luz’s hair out of her face revealing streams of tears strong enough to fill a cup in a matter of seconds.
Panic raised within her chest as she saw how dry Luz’s lips had become and her face becoming meager and paler by the minute.
Her attention shifted only when a bony hand on her shoulder shook her.
“-IGHT!” Eda yelled sternly, Amity only now being able to hear her.
Amity wanted to ask her what was wrong with Luz, but before she managed to make her words coherent Eda beat her to it.
“Luz has been bit by a crying mantis, it latches onto someone and uses magic to find sorrowful memories making you cry yourself dry. Literally. If we don’t stop it Luz is going to dry up, making her an easy meal for the damned insect. Do you have any idea where it might have latched on?”
Amity had to push the distressing information to the back of her mind to remember what had happened earlier.
“B-by her ear I think. The left one.”
Eda looked over Luz’s round ear and not seeing anything inside it folded it over to reveal a deep blue mantis with its teeth and claws embedded in Luz’s skin.
“You have to burn it.” Eda told her.
“What!? I’ll burn her whole ear off! Just pull it out!”
“We can’t. The teeth and claws will be stuck to her skin. Just make it small, and really short.”
Amity let out a shaky breath to try and calm herself. Her flames were strong. Large and inextinguishable, filling the sky with a menacing, purple colour. It matched her in that way. But she needed to do this for Luz. Who herself was loud and obnoxious. But she could be gentle as well. She was patient with Amity and knew just what small gestures could help ground the powerful witch.
Holding onto these thoughts Amity placed her finger above the mantis and for a split second a small burst of flames emanated from her finger frying the mantis and leaving the human unscathed.
“Impressive,” Eda admitted while Amity took in a greedy lump of air. The Owl Lady turned Luz’s head only to reveal an even paler face and two streams of tears which showed no signs of stopping. “Shit.”
“Why hasn’t it gone away?!” Amity yelled.
“Because you young people are too bad at handling your damn emotions. The mantis hit a goldmine of memories in Luz’s head and while it can’t search for any more it seems to already have a whole heap of material to keep the waterworks going.”’
It was first now that Amity noticed visible concern on Eda’s face. The Owl Lady had a conflicted look and was borrowing her golden fang deeper and deeper into her lower lip.
“You’ll have to go in.” Eda told her as she stood up.
“Into her mind. I don’t know how, but you’ll have to find these memories and cut them off.” Eda pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down a sequence of glyphs on it before placing it on Amity’s forehead.
“Say I find these memories. Do you expect me to just rip it off like a fucking band aid?” Amity shouted, frustration rising in her.
“If all else fails… burn them.”
Amity’s frustration melted off her leaving a shiver throughout her body.
She did not want to do that.
Amity laid down besides Luz and took in her withering face.
“Ready?” Eda asked.
Amity reached up and traced Luz’s jawline, finally being able to grasp just a sliver of what was at stake.
“Go for it.”
Eda tapped on the glyph sequence before a golden circle appeared around Amity before she felt her body evaporate.
Finding herself in an empty void she stood herself up. Soon a bright light appeared in front of her and swallowed her whole before it faded away revealing a landscape consisting of warmly coloured clouds and an open sky where the sun hung low and was packed with stars. Around her stood various objects all large in size. Everything from a witch's hat to a book, every one of them holding simple wooden picture frames.
Taking in her surroundings Amity was honestly surprised by the beautiful, and dared she say it, magical mindscape.
As she walked along she caught glimes of all kinds of memories. Everything from Luz riding a tricycle down a steep hill to her trying to cast magic spells with a stick. Most of the early ones featured her mother wearing an encouraging and patient expression.
Amity couldn’t help it as a soft smile found its way to her lips. Little Luz looked absolutely adorable.
The themes changed as she walked along with Luz entering elementary school. Though her cheeriness didn’t falter, images of classmates with their backs turned to her and recesses spent alone were displayed.
Amity was surprised to see an unfamiliar glint in Luz’s eye that stayed with her throughout and energy that filled her from the top of her head to the tip of her toes.
Now fashioning a cat-eared hoodie, Luz continued to approach her peers with little luck. Amity partly understood it, though, with mishap after mishap ranging from dramatizing a children's book in the school cafeteria to releasing snakes on her peers during a book report. Although, her chipper attitude remained throughout.
It was when Luz was handed a pamphlet that read ‘Reality Check: Summer Camp” that Amity thought things would be taking a turn for the worse. Barely catching her bus after snatching her book away from some weird critter, Amity could see that though Luz certainly didn’t seem too happy at the summer camp, balancing checkbooks and doing other grueling tasks, the glint remained and the energy stayed.
Amity found herself confused as to what could have wiped that wide eyed expression from Luz’s face. She was even beginning to think that she was put inside the wrong head.
Another few frames showing Luz being rejected interlaced with her spending time in her room reading Azura and writing… as well as pairing cartoon clips with music on her human crystal ball.
What made Amity’s eyebrows furrow, though, was that the latter increased while the former became more and more sparse.
At some point Amity hadn’t seen Luz socializing in quite some time. She was reading, writing, and spending time in front of the screen.
Then Amity spotted her reading Azura book 1 again. She had read it before, right? It wasn't uncommon to reread your favorite books, though, she reasoned. Especially reading the first one just after finishing the last one. But in between Luz sitting in her room writing and spending screen time, she read book 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and…
There Luz sat on her bed reading book 1.
Amity found herself running past the picture frames and nine times out of ten finding Luz inside her room. Her eyes stung.
Amity stopped when she found her.
A young woman with a striped, white and purple t-shirt and a burgundy beanie. Hunched over her screen with bags under her eyes and no glint.
Amity’s heart raced. From the running or somwthing else she didn’t know.
She swallowed the lump in her throat as she scanned over the picture in front of her as well as the adjacent ones.
There was a red, pulsating line framing the pictures that the previous ones lacked. Were these the ones the matis had selected?
Going off a feeling in her gut Amity walked her way back trying to look at the pictures as little as possible.
She eventually reached the picture showing the last time Luz reached out to her classmates. She searched the picture diligently for any clue as to what had happened, but she pulled back when she saw it. Or rather, didn’t see it. There were no red lines around the frame. Looking to her left, seeing the one of the pictures featuring Luz reading Azura book 1.
The red line was present.
Amity found herself utterly confused. Surely the rejection hurt more, right? Luz was reading her absolutely favorite book. And that was what the mantis found to be the saddest?
Amity stood there in her thoughts when she noticed a strange sound. It was muffled and sporadic. Slowly making out which direction it came from, Amity walked behind the large book holding up the picture frame featuring Luz reading Azura.
There she found a familiar cat-eared hoodie. The girl wearing it was curled into herself, hiding her face behind her knees while sobbing.
“Hey,” Amity said, plainly.
Luz snapped her head up to look at the green haired witch.
“H-hi,” she responded while drying her tears.
“Can you help me?” Amity asked.
“I-... I don’t think I should.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I’ll do something dumb and then you’ll dislike me. And I just… I just can’t take having more people dislike me.” Luz answered with a strained voice.
“I can never dislike you.” Amity said almost instinctively. “I promise.”
Amity reached out a hand which Luz hesitantly took.
“Can you tell me how to take this away?” Amity said after they had walked out from behind the giant book, and pointed towards the red line.
“No… I’m sorry,” Luz mumbled.
Amity let out a frustrated sigh. She had to remind herself that the clock was ticking.
In her hand she summoned a blazing purple flame.
She didn’t want to.
She really didn’t want to.
Burning the pictures would change Luz.
And changing Luz was the last thing that she wanted.
Because Luz was…
Amity extinguished her flame.
“Do you know why these are red and not the others?”
Luz nodded shyly.
“Did something happen in the previous picture? Something special?”
Luz shook her head.
She was picking at her nails and biting her lip.
Amity crouched down in front of the girl and took her hands in hers.
“Can you please try to tell me why?”
“I-...I w-” Luz’s voice was shaking. “I wasted so much time, Amity.”
Tears began running down Luz’s cheeks.
“I wanted to go on adventures and make strong, meaningful connections. Like… like Azura did. But I just can’t. And now I’m grown up and I never got to experience teenage love and middle school crushes or gain a childhood friend. And you only get one shot! And I wasted it!” Luz’s knees buckled and she began sobbing.
Amity blinked hard.
“Can I show you something?” Amity asked.
Through her sniffles Luz nodded.
Focusing in on her own memories Amity manifested a door in front of them. Standing up she let go of one of Luz’s hands to open the door.
Composing themselves Amity and Luz looked through the door at a young girl in her bedroom sitting at her desk. A single candle light illuminated her mint green hair and the multiple stacks of books in front of her.
“Did your parents make you study hard?” Luz asked, looking up at Amity.
“Well, they did in the beginning, but I had stopped caring what they thought by then.”
“Did you just really like to study?”
Amity chuckled and gave Luz a tiny shove. “Not that much, stupid. I… I just didn’t like anyone. And I knew no one really liked me either. And I don’t blame them. What kind of shithead doesn’t like anyone? So with little else to do I studied.”
The door showed Amity still sitting at her desk. But she was older.
The Amity behind the desk was now interchangeable with the one looking at her.
Amity felt her hand being squeezed.
“I’m so sorry.” Luz mumbled regretfully.
“Don’t-” Amity cleared her throat. “Don’t be.”
Standing there for a bit Luz eventually turned back to Amity.
“Can I see the first one again?” she asked.
Once again they were looking at fourteen year old Amity.
“You were really pretty.” Luz mumbled absentmindedly. “I mean, with the lighting and the outfit and your eyes, I-I-I- mean! And not that you're not pretty now. I mean, not pretty, but, you ARE pretty! I mean-!”
Amity laughed almost deviously, making little Luz shrink back.
"Oh, man I’m gonna tease you for that when you wake up. For months on end I tell you.”
Luz grimazed and after Amity’s laughter had died down they looked back at the young Blight.
Why had she been like that? She knew she was being horrible to others even back then. So why had she only gotten worse? One who despises others only less than she despises herself.
Although, there was an exception.
This girl who had made her realize that she could care for someone. That she could feel so much for another person that she didn’t know what to do with herself. And this person wasn’t just anyone either. She was… well, Amity honestly couldn’t begin to describe her. But she knew, surely more than anything else in this world, that every second with her was the most meaningful way of spending her time.
Amity shifted her focus back to the girl who was just about to need to replace her reading light for the third time that evening.
A thought drifted through Amity’s mind and slowly her vision became blurry before she felt her lip quiver.
“I-” Amity had to swallow a painful lump in her throat. “I wish you could have met.”
Amity felt two small arms wrap themselves around her middle and a tiny body pressing against her.
Reciprocating the hug Amity let out a series of choked sobs.
She slowly but surely managed to calm herself and ever so slightly pulled back to wipe her face with the sleeve of the bomber jacket.
She stopped when she just about managed to look at the girl that was hugging her.
Meeting baggy eyes Amity was without words.
“Hi” the girl in the burgundy beanie mouthed, trying her best to keep up a smile.
Amity shut her eyes tightly and couldn’t resist embracing Luz with all her strength.
With Luz’s head buried in shoulder Amity could feel that her arms were holding on as desperately as her own.
Feeling some of the ache leave their bodies Luz was finally able to speak, although it was muffled by Amity’s shoulder.
“It could have been different.”
Amity nuzzled herself deeper into Luz’s neck.
“Would you want this to be different?”
“No,” Luz muttered as she held Amity closer than she had held anyone before.
So did Amity.
Too soon a golden circle appeared around Amity and turning her head she could see the red lines around the pictures fade away.
Through a blinding light Amity found herself back on the floor in the Owl House with a cloud of golden smoke dissipating around her.
“Good job, kid.” she heard Eda tell her just outside of her peripheral vision.
Coming to her senses she immediately looked over at Luz. Her face was certainly pale for someone with her skin colour and her lips were chapped. But soon enough she could see a pair of still moist hazel brown eyes reveal themself from behind her eyelids.
Amity jolted back, however, when Luz let out a wheezing cough. Luz then smacked her lips. “It feels like King took a nap in my mouth.” her throat sounded dry as a desert. “He didn’t actually did he?”
Amity fought to suppress her smile as she elbowed Luz’s side eliciting a laugh from her that sounded like that of an old man. Amity’s fight was lost there and then as she joined Luz with a hearty laugh.
“First time I’ve seen someone find a near death experience that funny.” Eda mumbled to herself while taking a sip of apple blood.
As Luz was given some much needed water Eda and Amity stayed by her side to make sure she was alright. When Luz seemed to be in good shape Eda wished them a good night with a ruffle of Luz’s hair and a thankful nod to Amity before she disappeared up the stairs.
“Let me follow you home.” Luz said as Amity got up.
“I know you hold yourself in an unhealthy high regard, Luz, but come on. Just thirty minutes ago you were about to turn into a pile of dust.”
“What was that?” Luz asked as she made her way to the door while holding a hand up to her ear. “I can’t hear you! I seem to be too high up on my high horse.”
Luz opened the door with a cheeky look and gestured for Amity to go through. Amity rolled her eyes before she went over to knock Luz off balance with her shoulder as she exited.
Luz straightened herself up and after closing the door caught up with Amity only to knock the back of her hair over her face. Amity didn’t stop and just grumbled in displeasure. She then blew away the hair making a tiny slit in it open up to reveal her face.
Luz let out a bellowing chuckle at the sight and Amity had to fight hard to not join in, both finding it quite funny herself and having intended it to be in all honesty.
It didn’t take long for Luz to reach over and fix Amity’s hair, though. And anyone could tell that Luz was tanking an unneeded amount of time to fix it. Meanwhile Amity wouldn't have asked Luz to stop running her fingers through her hair without anything less than a firespell to her head.
Not daring to fix Amity’s hair for any longer, Luz's hands fell to her sides and it didn’t take long for the two girl’s hands to brush against each other. It started with a ring finger and a pinky hooking onto each other before their fingers made their way in between each other until their hands were fully intertwined.
Both Amity and Luz looked anywhere except at each other with a warmth growing within them that kept Luz from needing a jacket and made Amity overheat.
The walk was silent until Blight Manor came into view and by then the couple was way too enamoured with each other's touch as they walked as close as they possibly could. They both nearly banged their head against the front door when they finally arrived.
With their hands still intertwined Amity stepped towards the door before facing Luz.
“Welp. Thanks for saving my life I suppose.” Luz said nonchalantly.
“We really ought to keep a tally.” Amity responded.
“I don’t think that’s in your best interest, Ames.” Luz retorted.
“Wanna bet?” Amity said while squeezing Luz’s hand prompting them to look at each other interlocked hands.
The night's events seemed unavoidable now. But what was there to say? Everything was laid out and while that certainly helped, the aching hadn’t gone away.
But what are you supposed to say about that?
Softly Luz and Amity lifted their gaze to look into each other's eyes.
And it was all there.
And while they couldn’t imagine looking away in their wildest dreams. They eventually had to.
Filled with reluctance their intertwined hands became undone.
With Amity’s mind desperately searching for something to distract her from the lack of contact she began taking off her jacket.
“Here’s your jacket back.” she said, but was stopped by Luz’s hand on hers making them look into each other's eyes for the last time that night.
“It’s cold inside.”