A month before Amity turns 17, she approaches her parents’ sitting room, waiting outside the door respectfully until she’s invited inside. She’s been asserting her independence more and more lately (much to the annoyance of her parents), but there’s still a protocol to follow if she wants to be heard.
“Yes? What is it, darling?”
“My seventeenth is coming up next month,” she said, trying to hold back the annoyance that she’s already feeling. Neither of her parents looked up from their reading.
“We’re well aware, Amity,” Alador said, turning the page of his newspaper. “The ball has been set up for months. Was there something you wanted to change regarding it?”
“We already have the arrangements made,” Odalia reminded him idly, “Any changes we wanted to make now would be impossible.”
Amity knows that’s not true- she’s seen her mother cajole caterers and vendors into doubling and tripling their orders mere hours before events- but given that Amity had no part in helping to organize the party to begin with, any changes she wanted to make would likely be disregarded anyways.
“It’s not that. It’s that I was hoping we could go to the palisman forest soon-”
“Amity.” Odalia finally set down her magazine, smiling at her as she patted the sofa across from her. “I’m sorry dear, it must have slipped our minds to mention it to you.”
Amity sat down carefully, making sure to keep her back straight and her expression blank. “To mention...what?”
“We don’t believe it would be in your best interest to get a palisman.” Alador glanced up over the top of his paper. “As the true heir of the Blight family, you don’t need one.”
“There’s no need to throw a tantrum, Amity, it’s unbecoming for a witch your age.” She shook her head. “They’re rudimentary tools to help witches who don’t already know how learn to properly channel their power and reach their full potential. Something you’ve told me before that you’re already reaching on your own,” she said with a raised brow.
“Don’t argue with your mother, Amity. The answer is no.”
“...so I won’t be getting a palisman I guess,” Amity sighed, idly poking at her lunch. She looked up to find her friends watching her sympathetically and looked away again. “It’s fine, you guys, don’t. Don’t worry about it. What does it matter if I have a palisman or not, right? I’m a Blight, and we...we’re better off alone.”
Luz stared at her intently, opening her mouth to speak.
“That’s dumb, Amity, and you know it.” Everyone blinked at Willow. “Palismans are so much more than power conduits! They’re a part of us! Everyone gets one, and there’s family traditions involved-”
“It’s a right of passage,” Gus cut in, slamming his hands on the table. “What witchling is truly a witch without their palisman and staff!?”
“I’ll be just as much of a witch without one as I would be with one, Gus. Really,” she shook her head, “it’s not that big a deal.”
“Do you want one though,” Luz finally spoke up, still watching her.
Amity avoided her gaze, shrugging. “They won’t let me get one-”
“Not what I asked.” She looked at her challengingly. “Do you want a palisman.”
“Of course I want a palisman, Luz, but when my parents say no to something-”
“You rebel and figure out a way to do it anyways? I seem to remember a few times you-”
“Can we not go there today Luz,” Amity begged, covering her blushing face. She peeked through her fingers and Luz shrugged, conceding. “All of that was...different,” she said, willing the redness to fade. “It was just...breaking curfew. Hanging out with people they deem ‘unacceptable’,” she nodded at her friends, all but Gus previously rejected as ‘suitable’ for a Blight’s friendship. “This isn’t just about me, anyways, it’s- if I got a palisman anyways...defied them, went to the palisman forest by myself, found and carved my staff...I don’t know what they would do if they found out.”
“You don’t think they’d destroy it, do you?”
“I don’t know, Willow- you know what they’re like. One day something’s fine, the next,” she shrugged one shoulder, “it’s ‘not good enough for a Blight’.”
“So convince them.”
“What do you mean?”
Luz rolled her eyes playfully. “Ms. Amity ‘Top Student’ Blight- I would bet any amount of snails you could easily figure out a way to convince them that it would be better for you to have it than not. I mean, Ed and Em got their palismans, right?”
Amity nodded. “What does that have to do with me though?”
“Are they still on about that whole,” Luz screwed up her face, making her voice a growl, “heir to the power of the Blight family thing?”
“Of course they are. Em joined the Fashion Coven and Ed joined the Baker’s Coven, so neither of them have anywhere near the prestige Mom and Dad would prefer their heir to have. I’m basically their last hope, and I already dropped my bid for the Emperor’s Coven.”
“Easy peasy, then,” Luz grinned.
“It means it’s simple,” she clarified. “Option one,” she held up her finger, “You convince them that the twins having their palismans and you not having yours would make you look bad. If they’re so obsessed with social status and other witch’s perception of them, that should make them change their minds!”
“Maybe,” she said. “Is there an option two?”
“Option two,” Luz said, bringing up a second finger, “you threaten to drop out of the Abomination track and join the Swag Coven once you graduate,” she grinned.
“They know I would never do that!”
“You wouldn’t have to,” she shrugged. “Just saying that you’d consider it would probably be enough to make them change their minds.” She pulled Gus to her side, waving her hand into the air, “Imagine it, Amity Blight aims to join the Swag Coven,” she said dramatically, Gus going wide eyed as he imagined it.
“It wouldn’t do anything!”
“Sure it would! If we started a rumor at school that you were thinking about it, it would probably make its way back to, oh, I don’t know...Boscha’s mom? Can you imagine the amount of gloating that lady would do to your mom?”
“I...okay, yeah, I guess I could see that working as a threat, then...Mom would hate to have someone holding even the slightest possibility of that over her head. Those are...both good plans.”
“You don’t have to sound so surprised,” she said playfully.
“You know I don’t mean it like that. I mean it though. Thank you Luz.”
She laid her hand over top of the other girl’s on the table, smiling shyly at her. They gazed into each other’s eyes, blushing lightly.
Gus busied himself with his bag, averting his gaze.
“Ehem,” Willow cleared her throat deliberately. “E-HEM.”
The two jumped and yanked their hands apart, blushing hard.
“RIGHT,” Luz said loudly. “I think I’m just going to,” she stood, pointing at the cafeteria doors, “Class! Starting. Soon, probably! Bye!”
Willow sighed indulgently and shook her head, watching Amity watch Luz go.
“You’re still mush for her, Amity,” Willow teased.
“-I’ll look weak without the staff, especially if I’m the only Blight without one. Even if it’s a simple power conduit for less talented witches, the public perception-”
“-has begun to change dear,” Odalia interrupted. “While I do applaud you for making this consideration, recent perception has begun to tie palismans with wild magic. Your previous paramour,” Amity winced at the mention of Luz, skin prickling at the deliberate jab, “and her so-called ‘mentor’ are prime examples of that. Staffs allow witches to do magic outside of their selected covens, and as you’ve already decided not to continue in your attempt to join the Emperor’s Coven...this may count as another mark against you in the eyes of the Emperor. And that is the last thing you need.”
“The last thing I need,” she imitated her mother’s tone, “is to be the only witch without a staff! What happens when public opinion changes again- staffs are back in fashion, everyone is using them for transportation and duels- and I’m fighting with one hand tied behind my back because you decided to break a thousand year old tradition?”
“Watch your tone, young lady.”
“Will you be telling me to watch my tone, Father, ” she asked venomously, “when all of these so-called ‘wild witches’ are able to get the drop on me because of their staffs? When they’re doing magic that I can hardly understand because I haven’t been exposed to it? We all saw the fight the Owl Lady had with Covenleader Lilith. How do you suppose I fight someone at the same skill level as them, without a staff to counter their speed? Perhaps I should learn the human’s glyph magic as a backup plan!”
Odalia stood up, slow and imperious.
“I will not hear you say such a thing again,” she warned. “Leave us.” Amity glared, her mother returning the look with a scowl of her own. “Now.”
“It’s basically up in the air right now,” Amity said, resting her cheek against her fist. “I didn’t even get to the part about the Swag Coven with them, so I guess that’s a backup plan.”
“I mean you could join just for fun anyways,” Luz joked over the crystal ball. “Get some knuckle rings that spell out your name.”
Amity laughed, covering up a snort. “Stop! That’s not funny, Luz!”
“Then why are you laughing, hmm?”
Amity’s door swung open, Odalia looking between Amity and Luz. “Can I presume that you were serious about learning human magic then, if your father and I were to refuse you your staff?”
Amity blocked her view of Luz’s no doubt surprised face on the crystal ball and quickly drew a light glyph, activating it into a floating magenta orb.
“Does this look like I was bluffing?”
“Downstairs. Now.” She drew a spell circle in the air, snuffing out the light in a void.
“Your father and I have ground rules for allowing this; Firstly- you will never use human magic again.”
“Secondly,” Alador continued, “you will use your staff as little as possible once it is created. Obviously, you may use it to get from one place to another, but you will not use it for spellcasting. You are a witch, and you will use your own magic.”
“And finally,” Odalia said, gripping at Amity’s shoulder to impress the point, “you will not embarrass us with any part of your staff. The wood it’s created from, the palisman at the end of it, the name of the creature...these will all be of the highest quality, something proper for a witch of your station. Should your staff be anything less,” she trailed off. She squeezed her hand harder, Amity repressing her wince. “I don’t think I need to continue. Do I?”
Amity ducked her head. “No, Mother.”
“The palisman forest,” Odalia announced, letting Amity off her staff. Amity eyed the palisman atop it, the golden moorcat blinking its four eyes at her disdainfully. “I trust you’ll find your tree quickly,” she said, holding Amity’s face in one hand.
“Wait, I thought you were going to stay.” She looked between them, her father shaking his head.
“We have important business at home. You’ll find it with or without us- our presence hardly matters here. You may call us when you’re ready to come home.”
“No buts, Amity. You said that this would be one of your first steps into adulthood- show us.” Odalia smiled beatifically. “We’ll see you at the mansion. Don’t take too long.” She patted her on the cheek, and then was back in the air without so much as a goodbye.
Amity watched them go. Neither one looked back, and when they were too far to see, Amity let out a scream.
“They always do this!” She summoned her scroll, calling up the twins.
“Why are they like this?!” She hid her face behind her hand, not wanting to show her watering eyes.
“Hey,” they shared a concerned look, “What did they do this time?”
“They just-” She turned her phone to show them the forest behind her.
“Palisman trees- is it time already?”
“It was supposed to be!”
“Well where are they?”
“They left! They had ‘more important things to do’,” she said, stomping her foot.
“More important- when we got ours, Mom wouldn’t stop trying to suggest trees!”
“Yeah, well,” she sniffled, “guess you guys got all the enthusiasm.”
“Hey,” Em called, “it could be worse.”
“Oh yeah? How?”
“They could still be there with you.”
Amity snorted with laughter, the tears falling harder.
“I just...wanted them to care for once,” she admitted, sitting on a stump. She dragged her fingers over the various indents in the wood. She looked down to see a name carved into it and laughed again. “What are the chances, right?”
“Maybe they don’t care, but other people do,” Em said, Ed nodding vigorously beside her onscreen. “We do.”
Something began to beep in the background. “Ooh, my brownies,” Ed said, running off to his oven.
“Look uh- I’ve actually got some clients right now,” Em said, glancing off to the side. “I get out of work in a few hours. Worst case scenario, I can give you a ride home, best case, I can help you look.”
“I can help you look too,” Ed shouted distantly.
“Thanks, but...I think I’ll just do this on my own.” She let out a heavy sigh. “Love you guys.”
“Love you too, Mittens.”
She hung up her scroll, banishing it again. She continued thumbing at the name carved into the stump, staring out at the trees.
She remembered a lesson from one of her classes- most witches apparently feel some sort of draw to the forest before they find their palisman, a force that guides them to their tree.
Inside, she felt...nothing.
She laid back on the stump, staring into the sky. At least like this she had time and space away from under her parents’ thumb.
“Where is she-” “They said she’d be here-” “Do you think she went home already?”
The jumble of voices around her drew her back to consciousness, the sun lower in the sky than it had been when she’d first sat down.
A small gray owl landed on her knee, nudging itself against her.
“...Owlivia?” The little owl hooted, nuzzling in closer.
“Amity!” Luz jogged over, scooping her up into a hug, Amity’s eyes going wide as she returned it.
“Luz? What are you doing here?”
“We heard your parents were jerks again,” Eda answered, not commenting on the still-continuing hug. “Sucks that they can’t appreciate the kid they have.”
“Mm. You want me to egg their house? No charge.”
“I,” she gently pulled out of Luz’s arms, “live there too.”
“Eh, alright. Fair warning: I might do it anyways,” she winked.
“If you don’t want her to, just let me know and I’ll talk her out of it,” Luz whispered in her ear, Amity jumping at the proximity.
“Still my fearless champion, huh?”
“Always.” She blushed at the ground. “Also, if she does egg your house, I’m kind of on guard duty...?”
“Of course you are.”
“Hey, don’t forget us!” Willow and Gus rushed up, sweeping Amity into a hug.
“I’m sorry your parents are like this, Amity.”
She affectionately bumped her head against Willow’s, arms trapped against her sides by the hug. “It’s okay. You know that’s just who they are.”
“You deserve better,” Gus said, cloning himself to make it a group hug.
“Alright, alright,” Amity laughed. “I get it, I’m worthy of more!”
“Darn right you are,” Luz said, adding herself to the pile.
“Okay, come on kids,” Eda clapped her hands. “We’re losing daylight here.” She lifted Luz up by the neck of her cloak, removing her from the hug pile again and then waved away the clones. “Let’s find us a tree.”
“This meadow is where I found Teddy,” Willow said, summoning the staff. “He kept moving away until I was alone. Apparently he wanted to help me learn to be more independent.”
“Feel anything,” Luz asked Amity quietly, looking around the forest.
“This looks like where my dad said he got his staff when he was younger,” Gus said, laying back against the rib face. “Surrounded by shining rocks, trees growing out of the face of a rib.”
“Huh.” Eda stared up the rib, squinting. “I think that’s where I got Owlbert,” she said, pointing with him to the very very top of the rib. “It’s got an amazing view.”
“Please tell me you don’t feel anything coming from up there...”
“Not so far.”
Luz let out a sigh of relief.
“Feels like we’ve walked the whole forest twice, kid, I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Am I just...supposed to pick one then, and hope for the best?”
Luz perked up at the familiar words.
“Hang on a minute.” She pulled the rest of the group away, talking rapidly. Willow shook her head with a smile and Eda smirked while walking with her back towards the forest entrance.
“Not this time Gus.”
“I just want to see!”
“When it’s your turn!”
“Fiiiiiiiine.” The witchling waved goodbye to Amity, jogging to catch up with the others.
“Where are they all going?”
“Did I ever tell you about how I found Owlivia?”
“Are you sure there’s trees down here,” Amity asked. She squinted in the darkness. “I can’t even see my hand in front of my face right now.”
Luz activated a few light glyphs, letting them surround them. She grabbed at Amity’s hand, walking forward. Amity stared down at their clasped hands, trailing along behind.
“There’s this pond, and a waterfall- and so many trees, you won’t believe- hey,” she turned around, “you okay?”
“Fine! I’m fine! Just...wondering how your tree got down here, let alone as many as you’re describing.”
“Wild animals and demons, probably.”
Amity froze, Luz tripping over herself at the sudden stop.
“It’s here. I can feel it.” She jogged forward, tugging Luz forward this time. They wove through the trees, Amity hardly even conscious of the darkness of the cavern or the proximity of the other trees. They skidded to a stop in front of a tall, thin tree, its bark dark and peeling in some places to reveal pale wood underneath. “This is it!” She laid her hand on the tree, “This is her...”
“Then may I present to you,” Luz began, patting down her pockets, “the bag of holding?” She held it out for Amity to take. “Any tool you can think of for making palismans- it’s in there.”
“And you just...had this all ready at a second’s notice?”
“Oh, uh,” she scratched at her head, “it’s actually from my Healer’s Station for Bat Queen’s palismans? I don’t think I ever got around to taking you there before.”
“I don’t think so, but,” she took the bag from Luz and kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you.” She started digging through the bag, head ducked to hide the flush on her cheeks again. “Maybe after my palisman is ready, you could take me there sometime?”
“I,” she held her hand to her cheek, “yeah! Yeah, whenever you want!”
“Are you sure you don’t mind me working on this here?”
“Why would I?” Eda shifted things around, clearing a table. “You used to be here all the time.”
“Used to be.” She turned away.
“And now you will be again,” Eda said firmly. “Just because you two stopped doing...whatever for a bit doesn’t mean you belong here any less than you used to. I want you here, Lily wants you here, King still thinks you owe him a cupcake, so he wants you here to keep an eye on you in case of baked goods....but more than that, Luz wants you here. Now I don’t claim to know what’s going on between you two these days, but, I know she cares about you. We all do! So,” she pulled out the chair, “take a load off, relax, and then...get to work.”
“Eda, I don’t know how-”
“Just hold the knife- no, no-”
“If you’re trying to carve straight through the wood-!”
“Luz?” Amity peeked her head into the living room. “Could you come out here for a bit?”
“Finally going to ask the woodcarving master for some tips?”
“Oh. Well, what’s up?”
Amity led the way into the shed, closing the door behind her. “She’s ready. And, I kind of wanted you to be here with me when I wake her up. Just you.”
“Okay, yeah,” she grabbed both of Amity’s hands in her own, holding them tight. “Whatever you need.”
“Right.” She nodded decisively. “I just need to-” She held the palisman and staff, one in each hand, both shaking too hard to assemble them.
“Hey,” Luz said softly, “deep breaths. Deep breaths.” She demonstrated, breathing in deeply and then exhaling. “All you need to do is pop her on for a few seconds, let her sit...and then she’ll be able to come off on her own.” Amity bit her lip, still shaking. “What is it, what do you need?” She held her hands under Amity’s.
Luz supported Amity’s hands with her own, lifting the palisman into place on the purple and cream colored staff.
“Into the interlock,” it slotted in firmly, “then turn.” They turned the palisman together, locking it in. “Now we give her a minute.” She looked the staff up and down. “It’s a beautiful staff.” The cream of the wood seemed to almost glow in contrast to the deep purple swirling in waves around it. “And she’s so detailed.”
Amity stared at Luz, waiting for her to look up. “Thank you,” she said when she finally did. “I know...things have been weird between us for a while...”
“You’re still my friend, Amity. No matter what.”
“I...wasn’t sure for a while. I didn’t think I deserved it after I kept running away from you.”
“You needed space.” She squeezed Amity’s hands, still enclosed in her own. “I can understand that. You thought I was leaving-“
“I knew you’d be leaving. If they could get it working. I thought I’d be alone again- I mean, I’d have Gus and Willow, and the twins, but it wouldn’t be the same. They wouldn’t be you.”
“Amity...” She let go of her hands, pulling her in close, foreheads resting against each other. “Even if they managed to get a new portal up and running tomorrow- I’m not leaving you, okay? You- I’m with you, okay?” She stroked her thumb against the other witch’s cheek, brushing away the tear that was slowly slipping down her cheek. “Always.”
A quiet screech cut off Amity’s response, and they both turned to look at the palisman. She gazed at them intently, hopping onto Amity’s shoulder to headbutt her happily.
“Hi,” she said breathlessly, stroking its back with her free hand. “You’re gorgeous,” she murmured, her eye catching Luz’s smirk. She blushed. “I was talking to Lumi, you dork.”
“Lumi?” The falcon tilted its head and then chirped, hopping closer to her.
“Um. Yeah.” She looked away, taking comfort in their still joined hands. “She’s a storm merlin, and her full name is Luminata. It...took a while for us to agree on it.”
“It’s a nice name.” She idly pet Lumi, the falcon raising her head in obvious enjoyment of the attention. “Sounds kind of like illuminar in Spanish. Means ‘light up’.”
“Yeah, I..I know that. You,” she took a deep breath, “you’ve been there for me basically from the start. You believed in me, that I could be better, deserved more, even when I thought I was a terrible person who deserved to be alone.”
“I still believe that,” Luz said softly. She blanched. “Still believe- that first part. About you deserving more, not that you deserve to be alone.”
Amity chuckled. “I know. I figured.” She smiled gently, Lumi flying back to her perch. “She picked her name because she knew I wanted to keep you with me somehow. Because...you’re my light in the dark, Luz.”
Her eyes went wide with the realization and then soft as she pulled Amity close again, head tilting as she leaned forward, her words ghosting over Amity’s lips. “I told you, Amity. I’m with you. Always.”
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