Today was a stereotypical good day; sun shining bright up in the sky, birds chirping their melodious songs and the breeze blowing gently.
Except it wasn’t. It fucking wasn’t.
The sun was shining straight in Alfred’s face where he was sitting on a tree, back against the bark and a few of his vines holding on to the branches above him; the birds sounded like thousands of rusted razor chains from hell and the wind was blowing leaves and dirt in his face. Not to mention the nagging –
“Al, all I’m saying is that maybe you should try a little harder to find a witch or a wizard!” Matthew went on, looking up at him with a worried face and concerned eyes, bookmarking the page in the book he was reading. ‘Probably something about familial bonds and shit’. “You’re way past the normal age for finding one.”
Alfred sighed, turning on the branch he was sitting on to peer into the window of their tree-house. He loved his brother but Merlin he needed to loosen up.
“Mattie, you’re getting worked up over nothing, bro. Nothing at all.” Alfred said and smiled his signature grin. “There’s just no wizard awesome enough to contain my heroic awesomeness and anyway, Ludwig’s single too. He’s got no problem with all this.”
“That’s because he’s socially awkward and probably won’t know what to do with a witch.” Matthew said with an unimpressed face. “You, on the other hand, are a hit with everyone! You are powerful, Al and everyone wants to be bonded to you! Why don’t you give them a chance?”
“I told you, Mattie, I don’t want to be bonded right now!” Alfred said sufferingly, already planning an escape route to the nearest McDonalds. Maybe he could drag Kiku out of his house too…
“But Al, what’s wrong with being bonded!?”
“But Mattie, why do I need to be bonded!?” Alfred retorted, giving up on a plan and just jumping down the tree. "I can do spells just fine by myself!”
Now that was a big fat lie but Mattie didn’t need to know that.
“No you can’t!”
“See ya later when you calm your ass down Mattie!” Alfred happily shouted and went on his way to the nearest McDonald’s, whistling all the way.
To be honest, Alfred wasn’t that opposed to bonding; hell, he wanted to be bonded ages ago, but to the right witch. Mattie called it a load of bullshit but Alfred believed in the old stories about elementals seeing and just knowing that a witch or wizard is their bonded. Alfred hadn’t felt that with anyone till now and he didn’t want to get in a partnership he didn’t like. He wanted what happened in the stories to happen to him. For him to see a witch and think ‘Yup, you’re the one.’
So far it hadn’t happened and he was left trying not to make a fool out of himself by messing up a potion or mispronouncing a spell.
This much thinking had increased his hunger and he promptly let go of all his thoughts at the sight of the huge ‘m’.
‘Sweet Jesus in a kielbasa!’
“FROG, I’M GOING TO USE YOUR BLEEDING LEGS FOR A SPELL IF YOU DON’T KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!”
“But mon cher – “
Francis sighed, raising his hands in the universal sign of resigned submission and commencing his inner monologue.
“Mon Dieu, Arthur! Why do you refuse to believe my loving heart which worries for your safety every day?” He conjured a handkerchief, falling to the ground and biting it between his teeth with his hair falling desolately in his face. “Réponds-moi Seigneur! When is my petit chou going to believe in the power of l’amour and – “
“I’m still here Frog.”
Well, not-so-inner monologue then. Better play with it.
“I can still hear his condescending voice in my ears, the loneliness, barely held back by the power of the beautiful love spread across – “
That was the exact moment when Arthur hit Francis upside the head and started walking away, taking leave of the Frog and his magically conjured spotlight.
‘Need a familiar my arse.’
Francis had been bothering him all day with talk about familiars and bonding and all that with such hobknocking enthusiasm that Arthur felt like annihilating any trace of his being from the earth. He had explained to the Frog – in excruciating detail – that he didn’t need a bloody familiar to ‘balance his magic’ and he was completely fine with practicing magic alone but the bleeding frog-faced wanker wouldn’t leave the topic alone!
He vaguely registered that he was back at his tutor, Romulus’ house and he was just about to enter when he caught sight of Feliciano dragging his happy, bubbly self out of the house and commenced cursing the Frog to all the bloody levels of Dante’s Inferno.
‘Maybe I’ll just walk away without being noticed.’
Arthur spun on his heel and hid behind the weeping willow behind the house that he had claimed as his personal spot years ago when he came to learn witchcraft from Romulus. Feliciano skipped to wherever he was going and Arthur heaved a relieved breath.
Too soon, it turned out, when he heard the one voice he dreaded right now.
“Arthur, finally you’re back! I was thinking whether you finally got around to snagging yourself a handsome familiar and doing the do.” Romulus smacked him on his back and wiggled his eyebrows.
The only time Arthur had been more disturbed was when Frog had chased him around naked with, ironically, only a frog covering his privates.
It was not an experience he wished to repeat.
“Romulus, I know you have some work for me to do and that is not snogging random familiars, so just tell me so that I can get it done and over with.”
Romulus laughed. Loudly.
“Of course I do.” His eyes glinted dangerously and Arthur cursed the day he decided that he would only apprentice for the most powerful wizard in probably the whole country. He didn’t feel any better when the glint disappeared as soon as it had come. “You have to go to the forest and pick up some stuff for me.”
Arthur frowned, looking at Romulus suspiciously. That sounded easy enough.
Then Romulus unrolled the sheet he was hiding in the cloak and Arthur resolutely buried the urge to spew some choice colourful words to his mentor’s face, smacking the grave with a shovel just for good measure.
“Anything else you need from the bountiful forests?” He asked drily, holding the list up and trying to measure how much longer it was than him. He vaguely noted that most of it had been written by Romulus’ terrifying familiar Germania.
‘He’s too lazy to do it himself anyway.’
Now, Arthur knew even before asking that this was going to be a scarring question, but his inherent, out-of-control curiosity ran away from him like Feliciano from shadows. “How did you even get Germania to write this for you?” The look on Romulus’ face confirmed his fears.
“Ah! I’m so glad you asked Arthur.” Romulus started, grabbing Arthur by the neck and pulling him closer. “I believe, as your proud mentor, I should tell you everything about how to have a little fun – “
“NO THANKS I HAVE STUFF TO GET!”
Romulus was left blinking in the dust as a flustered Arthur ran away and into the forest, adding brain bleach to the list of ingredients to look for.
Kiku was taking a stroll through town, observing how the world around him worked similarly yet differently every day, today in particular being a bit lively. A week ago the young witches and wizards were supposed to get their familiars. Now, the ones with familiars were bonding in playgrounds and parks, while those with none were wailing to their mothers about wanting a familiar.
Kiku simply smiled and continued on his way to Elizabeta’s magic shop where mostly everything except peace of mind could be found. His visit to Elizabeta was overdue and he was running out of ingredients. He was about to turn the corner and enter Banshee Street when a movement on the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned his head and was not in the least shocked at what he saw.
Alfred was pressed up against the window of one of the many McDonald’s littering the town, making furious hand gestures which Kiku believed were a request to join him, his table almost invisible under the mountain of food he had piled up on it.
Not wanting to offend his friend and leave him to eat alone, Kiku steeled himself and pushing the urgency of getting ingredients out of his mind, walked in and over to Alfred’s table.
As soon as Kiku was seated, Alfred moved his mouth in a way that might have meant to produce words but all it managed to do was gross Kiku out, considering Alfred had remains of the previous burger he had devoured in his mouth and was bringing another one up to its death sentence.
Kiku never considered himself a sentimental person, but his heart bled for the poor burgers encountering their unfortunate fate.
Kiku waited with his unusual amount of patience for Alfred to devour the burger and prepared himself for whatever he might have to hear.
“Dude, long time no see, what’ve you been up to?” Alfred asked, shoving a fistful of fries into his mouth from the seemingly endless hoard of food on his table. Vaguely Kiku wondered why Alfred’s portions were larger than usual and came to the conclusion that someone asked him about bonds again.
“Nothing much Alfred-san. I have been trying to stabilize my power for the time being to make sure I don’t accidentally send out erratic pulses and damage property when the need occurs for me to use my magic.” Kiku answered. It was partly true. He didn’t want to tell his friend that he had been spending his days watching another friend cry over food magic. “I assume that Matthew asked about your plans to bond again?” He was a little surprised when Alfred looked a bit awed.
“Dude, how’d you know?!” Alfred asked, leaning over the table and ignoring the wet squelch and Kiku’s grimace when his elbow landed in a pile of ketchup. “Mattie’s been riding my ass all day about how ‘you need a familiar, Al’ and ‘you’re being unreasonable, Al’. It’s getting on my nerves now. I already told him – “
Kiku zoned a bit to thank his lucky stars that Alfred went on his own tangent and didn’t actually expect an answer. He didn’t think it would be too polite to tell him that the reason he knew about his sorrows was because he saw how much he was eating. He would later realize how hasty he had been in thanking his stars.
“– I can do magic just well on my own can’t I Kiku?”
‘Please don’t do this to me’
“Uh… of course Alfred-san. Your control on magic is very nice.” That was a lie and Kiku barely kept a straight face while saying it. Alfred looked satisfied for about 5 seconds before he looked up at Kiku in suspicion and lowered his burger in a movement that was surprisingly villainous. “You don’t believe me do you? You think I suck at magic.”
Kiku felt himself panicking and in an effort to save his peaceful day from a horrible death tried to pacify Alfred. “Alfred-san I never said that –”
“But you thought it!”
“I didn’t I swear!”
“Yes, you did!” Alfred stood up, shoving the rest of his food into a bottomless, interdimensional pocket and dragging Kiku outside with him. “C’mon, I’ll show you how awesome I am.”
With that, Kiku was being dragged into the forest, a feeling of despair settling in his stomach.
From somewhere in Elizabeta’s Magical Wares came a shout of “I’M THE MOST AWESOME FAMILIAR DAMNIT!”