We live in a world where adoption is fairly common. Animal lovers adopt energetic puppies, mewling kittens and fluffy bunnies to keep as pets. People who can't have their own children adopt chubby, gurgling babies to raise as their own. This is about an adoption centre of a different kind, that is only known about by a select few: an adoption centre for mythical animals, run and adopted by other mythical beings. Vampires, witches, demons, elves, dwarves, fairies and more all came here in search of adorable mythical animals to take home and integrate them into their families.

Darkmoon, a newly-trained witch, walked into the adoption centre a little nervous. She had only just finished her witch's training (passed with literally flying colours) and was here to get herself a familiar for her spell-casting. While she was being trained, she was given unmarked (not cursed, so they could only act as a familiar to one witch) animals to pretend that they were familiars for spells that required them, but now that her training was over, she needed a familiar of her own. Her family had advised that she get a stereotypical cat or an ominous-looking crow or raven, but their hopes had been dashed when it turned out that she was allergic to cat's fur and wanted nothing to do with birds (unless they were edible, like chicken and turkey). She would need to get an unconventional familiar, which was why she was now here, at the world's only adoption centre for mythical animals.

"Welcome to Mythical Animals Adoption Centre!" a cheerful elf adoption worker smiled, popping up out of seemingly nowhere. The optimistic-looking female elf was looking up at her with a notepad. Her nametag, partly obscured by her long blonde hair, read Willow. "I see you are a witch; would you happen to be looking for a familiar?"

"Yes, I am," Darkmoon smiled. "I completed my training as a witch only two months ago and I'll need a familiar. This is my first ever familiar, and I want a familiar that will live for a very long time. I've heard of the heartbreak witches have when their cat or dog familiar dies and it means they have to keep getting new ones, and I don't like to chop and change too often." The elf scribbled all this down on a notepad.

"It's an unusual choice for a familiar, but may I suggest a griffin? They eat raw and cooked meat alike, are very compatible with spells, since griffin feathers are sometimes needed for potions and griffins don't normally become affected by stray spells, and they have a lifespan of 150 years," Willow persuaded. Darkmoon thought about this, and nodded.

"Sure! I'd love a griffin! Do you have any here?" Darkmoon asked.

"Luckily for you, we have one that hatched exactly a year ago," Willow told her. "I guess you'd like to see and talk to him, right?"

"Talk to him?" Darkmoon asked. "Seriously? After all, I thought familiars couldn't talk unless the owner put a spell on them."

"Griffins are an exception to the rule," Willow explained. "This little guy is starting to talk and it's adorable!" She, with surprising strength for a four-foot tall elf, steered Darkmoon to the nursery, where a very young griffin had just begun to wake up. It yawned and stretched, its beak widening just enough for Darkmoon to spot a small pink tongue. The eagle talons that were his front feet wiggled and stretched as his lion's tail lazily swished. The witch was filled with love for the infant griffin.

"Hello, birthday boy!" Darkmoon cooed. "I'm Darkmoon! What's your name?" The griffin squeaked with shock, and tried to hide inside Willow's uniform. The abnormally large quivering bulge badly hidden in Willow's scrubs was terrified by Darkmoon's appearance. Darkmoon wasn't surprised. With jet black hair, red eyes and all black clothes with a stereotypical pointy hat, spiked leather jacket and matching boots, she was pretty intimidating.

"Easy, little guy," Willow cooed. "No need to be scared. She's thinking about adopting you." The quivering died down a little. The whimpering eventually stopped. The griffin eventually poked his head out to look at Darkmoon.

"M-my name's Satuwn," the griffin told her, in a voice that sounded very similar to a young child's. It took Darkmoon a few seconds to realize that he meant Saturn, like the planet. He just couldn't pronounce r's.

"Hello, Saturn," Darkmoon smiled. "Would you like me to hold you, little guy?" Saturn thought about it and nodded. He tried to fly to Darkmoon, but his tiny eagle wings couldn't keep him in the air and he fell. He would have landed on the floor if it wasn't for Willow's quick reflexes. Willow handed Saturn over to Darkmoon, who was more than happy to cuddle him like a baby. Saturn snuggled into Darkmoon's arms.

"This feels nice," Saturn murmured. "Are you weally gonna adopt me, Dawkmoon?"

"I'm still thinking about it, little guy," Darkmoon smiled, scratching Saturn under his chin. Saturn squealed. Darkmoon retracted her hand immediately. "Saturn, what's wrong? Did I hurt you?"

"It felt funny," Saturn said. "When you wewe scwatching me, it felt funny. Like I had to laugh." Willow and Darkmoon looked at Saturn, then to each other, before coming to a realization.

"You mean it felt ticklish?" Willow asked. Saturn nodded.

"Is thewe something wong with me?" Saturn asked. "Does this mean I can't be adopted and I have to stay hewe fowevew?" Willow's heart almost broke.

"No, it's perfectly normal, Saturn," Darkmoon replied. "Actually, it's really cute. Would you like me to see if you're ticklish in other places too?" Saturn eventually nodded.

"OK, but please be gentle," Saturn replied. Darkmoon smiled and let her fingers run up and down the little griffin's sides. Little squeaks and twitching could be seen and heard from Saturn, which Darkmoon secretly thought was adorable. "Darkmoon, is it weally - eep! - supposed to be this - ack! - tickly?"

"Don't think so, Saturn. I'm not going that hard on you, anyway. Maybe you're very sensitive to tickles," Darkmoon theorized. "You're more sensitive than I thought. Do you want me to stop, little birthday boy?"

"I'm OK, you can keep doing this," Saturn replied. "It's weally not that - ahahaha! - bad."

"So I can go harder on you?" Darkmoon asked. The tickling stepped up a notch, and Saturn couldn't hold in his laughter any longer. The griffin was starting to giggle and squirm in Darkmoon's arms as her fingers tickled his tummy and undersides of his downy soft eagle wings. All four of his legs, the front eagle legs and rear lion legs, kicked out and twitched and spasmed. Darkmoon found out, to her surprise and glee, that Saturn's hips were extremely ticklish and would make him buck and squeal with every touch.

"Ahahahahahahahahahaha! Please, Dawkmoon, nohohohohohoho mohohohohohowe! It tickles!" Saturn giggled.

"He's adorable! Oh, I want to keep him forever and make him mine!" Darkmoon smiled, as her fingers danced an intricate dance over the squirming griffin's ribs. "What's wrong? Can't handle it, sweetie?"

"Hahahahahahaha! Stohohohohohohohohop, please!" Saturn giggled, as he felt fingers dig into his tummy and make him yell with laughter. And then it stopped. He caught his breath just as he felt Darkmoon put him down on the floor.

"Oh, Saturn, I'm sorry," Darkmoon apologized, stroking his head. "I shouldn't have tickled you for so long. You're OK, aren't you?" Saturn continued to pant, slowly getting his breath back from a ruthless tickle attack. Then, in a move that surprised everybody, he jumped up to hug her.

"It's OK, Dawkmoon! The tickles wewe fun! And you'we weally nice to me!" Saturn babbled, snuggling into her chest. "You'll adopt me, wight? I wanna stay with you!" Willow wiped a tear away with her index finger. This was too cute.

"Saturn, I'll need to tell you something before you think about me adopting you," Darkmoon confided. "I'm a witch, and I want you to be my familiar. This means you'll help me with spells and things."

"Spells? Like what?" Saturn asked. Darkmoon grinned and conjured up small fireworks, which fizzed around in the air before exploding. Around her, small objects floated off the ground. Saturn squeaked with glee. "Wow, so cool! And I get to help you?" Darkmoon nodded.

"Sometimes you'll have to help me. Most of the time, I'll be able to play with you and cuddle you and tickle you until you scream," Darkmoon explained, scooping Saturn up to give him long, ticklish, agonizing raspberries into his furry tummy that made him squeal and laugh loudly. "Does that sound OK to you?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Saturn chanted. Darkmoon turned to Willow with a big smile.

"Where are the adoption papers for Saturn?" Darkmoon asked, making Saturn cheer and hug the witch, his tiny wings wrapping themselves around her as his tail wagged like a puppy. Willow nodded and went to look for Saturn's file on the computer. Reading through it, she couldn't help but smile at the baby picture of Saturn, smiling cutely into a camera lens. His wings had a mix of fluffy feathers and bald spots and his tail looked like a slightly furry worm, but that smile . . . it was so cute. She updated the status from NOT ADOPTED to ADOPTION IN PROCESS. Once the adoption process had been finalized, Saturn's file would be archived and only deleted once he had died, roughly 150 years later. Willow didn't worry about Saturn outliving Darkmoon, since witches had a fairly similar lifespan of 200 years at the most. Willow estimated that Darkmoon was around 20 now, so she would spend most of the rest of their lives together. They would be very happy. Smiling at the recent memory of the pair cuddling, the blonde elf pulled up the adoption papers for the lovable griffin and printed them out.

"Here are the adoption papers and a pen for you, Darkmoon," Willow smiled. "You should spend some time reading it before you sign anything." The witch nodded as her eyes scanned the paper. Eventually, she took the pen and signed her name. Using magic, the papers and pen floated to the blonde-haired elf, who grabbed it out of thin air. "Thank you, Darkmoon. You can pick up Saturn in three day's time."

"Thwee days?" Saturn whined. "But I wanna go with Dawkmoon now!"

"But we need to check you over to see if you're healthy enough to be adopted and make sure you get all your shots so you don't get sick," Willow explained. "It's just standard procedure, Saturn. This happens to every animal that gets adopted."

"OK," Saturn huffed. "But Dawkmoon'll come and adopt me aftew it's done, wight?"

"Of course!" Darkmoon smiled. "Now, you be good for the vets while they see if you're all healthy. I'll get you before you know it. Bye!"

"Bye!" Saturn chirped, waving one tiny wing at Darkmoon and watching her leave for as long as he could.

Three days later, as promised, Darkmoon returned to get Saturn, who was jumping up and down with happiness at being adopted. Willow was struggling to contain the excitable, hyperactive griffin, who was straining to get to his new owner. He couldn't wait to go to his new home.

"Whoa, easy, Saturn!" Willow yelped. "Hold still! I can't let you go yet!"

"Dawkmoon, you'we here!" Saturn cheered. "I can go with you now, wight?"

"That's right, little guy," Darkmoon cooed. "Now you just have to hold still for a few minutes so I can sign the papers for you to be adopted." Saturn stayed quiet as Darkmoon signed him out of the adoption centre for good. Saturn squeaked and flew into Darkmoon's arms. As he was waiting for the health checks to be over, he'd practised flying and had gotten pretty good.

"Dawkmoon, I flew! I flew!" Saturn squeaked.

"You did!" Darkmoon congratulated, giving him plenty of ticklish kisses all over his tummy as her fingers wriggled into his ribs. Saturn squealed and giggled through the teasing, his wings flapping as hard and as fast as they could. It was so cute. The tiny griffin was breaking down his walls and boundaries for Darkmoon one ticklish poke and prod at a time. "You'll have to practice more with me once we get home, won't you?"

"Ack! Yehehehehes!" Saturn giggled, snuggling into the witch's arms once she stopped teasing his sides. "I'll pwactice, I pwomise!"

"Now, don't you worry about that just yet," Darkmoon smiled. "We still have to move you into your new room, where it's got everything you need. And I'll stop at the butcher's to get you some nice, fresh mutton. Let's get you home, Saturn."

"How awe we getting home?" Saturn asked. Darkmoon grinned, and muttered a few magic words. A blue portal appeared, swirling in front of the entrance and causing chaos. People screamed and hid from the evil portal and it was terrifying to the young griffin. Saturn clung to Darkmoon and closed his eyes. The portal looked menacing.

"You ready?" Darkmoon asked. "I promise, the portal won't hurt you." Saturn nodded, and the witch, holding her new familiar tightly as she walked slowly to the portal. Eventually, both of them disappeared through the portal, and then nobody could see either of them. People eventually stopped hiding under the tables and shielding themselves with chairs, breathing a unanimous sigh of relief. The ordeal was over.

Willow smiled and got to work soothing the potential clientele and escorting them to appointments. Work in an adoption centre for mythical beings to other mythical beings was a lot of things, but it certainly wasn't boring! I love my job, Willow thought, as she showed a dwarf couple to the nearby toilets.

Edit: This first chapter has been extended into a new story of mine called A witch and her familiar. If you want, you can read and review it.