Darkmoon, a newly-trained witch, had a serious problem. 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 permanent 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 to have 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 long, 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. "Dawkmoon, 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 hewe!" 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.
On the other side of the portal, Darkmoon and Saturn had arrived at a town square, with a long line of shops. They were standing between a dry cleaner's and a sweet shop, and Saturn was drooling at the sight of a butcher shop on the other side of the street, which happened to have a large piece of mutton on display. "Dawkmoon, look!" he squeaked. "In the big window, over thewe!" Darkmoon looked over to the butcher shop.
"You want that, don't you?" Darkmoon asked. Saturn nodded, and looked at Darkmoon with pleading eyes. "Of course I'll get it for you! I promised that I'd get you some mutton all nice and fresh, and that's what I'll do, sweetie!" Saturn cheered and perched happily onto Darkmoon's shoulder as they crossed the road to the butcher shop. They were met by the butcher, a jolly man called Mr Alistair who she had known since she was a little girl.
"Ah, hello, Darkmoon!" he greeted, reaching over the counter to shake her hand, which she took. "And who's the little guy?" Saturn whimpered and tried to hide in Darkmoon's jacket. "A little shy?"
"Shh, it's OK," Darkmoon hushed. "Mr Alistair's really nice, I promise!" Saturn eventually poked a head out of Darkmoon's jacket to talk to the slightly hurt butcher.
"Hi. I'm Satuwn," Saturn introduced. Mr Alistair smiled at him, letting the griffin's head rest on his finger.
"Hey, Saturn," Mr Alistair smiled. "How are you today?"
"Good," Saturn shakily replied. "Dawkmoon said that she would get me some fwesh mutton."
"Oho, so you want fresh mutton? Like that big piece in the window?" Mr Alistair asked. Saturn eagerly nodded. "I'll get some for you, then!" He disappeared into the back and soon returned with a huge piece of mutton that made Saturn's mouth water. "That'll be enough for you, little guy?" Saturn nodded, happily.
"How much will that be?" Darkmoon asked.
"£6.50, please," Mr Alistair stated. Darkmoon paid for the mutton, the butcher bagged it up and handed it over to her. The witch and her new familiar left the store happily, turning the corner to a row of houses.
"What is this place? Is this my new home?" Saturn asked.
"Yes, Saturn, this is where we will live," Darkmoon told him. "I'll show you how everything works, OK?" Saturn nodded. Darkmoon used magic to levitate the key into the lock and let them in. Saturn looked around at the roomy house, and beamed. He was going to love it here, he knew it!
"Sweetie, here's the living room, where we eat dinner and watch TV," Darkmoon explained to an enraptured Saturn. "And here's the kitchen, where food is made for us to eat. We'll be sleeping upstairs, sharing a room."
"What woom, Dawkmoon? Can I see? Can I, can I?" Saturn pleaded. Darkmoon nodded, and took him upstairs to her room. It was a big room, painted dark blue with golden stars on the ceiling and walls. A bookshelf filled with books lay on the right side of the room. The bed was a similar colour to the room, dark blue bedspread and duvet with stars dotted over the pillows. There was a bird table in the room, with a blue cat bed on top of it. There was a box filled with toys for Saturn to play with.
"Saturn, do you like it?" Darkmoon asked. "You haven't said anything yet."
"I love it!" Saturn chirped. "But . . . Dawkmoon?"
"Yes?" Darkmoon looked at Saturn worriedly.
"What awe in the othew thwee wooms?" Saturn asked.
"Well, there's a bathroom, where we go to make ourselves clean," Darkmoon informed. "Then there's the storage room. If we don't need it or it's too big to be put in another room, it goes here. The last room is my friend's room."
"Your fwiend?" Saturn whimpered, hiding under the bed. "Awe they mean? Awe they hewe now?"
"No, sweetie, they went on a trip, but they'll be here tomorrow so you can meet them," Darkmoon soothed. "She's a witch, like me, and she has a hawk familiar called Claudia. Her name is Nightsmoke." Darkmoon reached under the bed and took Saturn out. "She'll be really nice, I promise." She 'accidentally' let a finger slip under the young griffin's wing, who giggled and squirmed. With that, Darkmoon flipped him onto his back and started tickling his tummy. Saturn screamed with laughter as he felt fingers scratch his ribs and (in a move that shocked him) he felt fingers moving from his ribs to scribbling over his tiny, extremely sensitive back feet. As far as being ticklish went, this was 'the spot'. All resistance was lost as the little griffin howled with laughter and slowly became limp. All the energy he had was being used to laugh his fluffy feathers off.
"YAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! DA-DAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Saturn screeched, as his lungs burned. He longed for a breath of air, but then he felt another raspberry and collapsed into giggles. Saturn had tears welling up at his eyes that were threatening to spill over. He was really struggling to breathe . . . and then it stopped. Saturn felt himself being picked up and rocked back and forth.
"I'm sorry, Saturn," Darkmoon sighed, rocking him back and forth in her arms. "I've gone too rough on you. I should have remembered that you're only little. I'm sorry." Saturn panted for breath, purring as Darkmoon rubbed his back.
"It's OK," Saturn muttered, slowly regaining strength as he took in deep, slow breaths. "I've nevew been tickled so much befowe, evew. It was kind of fun." Darkmoon smiled, carrying her griffin downstairs to the kitchen. Saturn was very confused. "Why are we going downstaiws?"
"Because I have to give you some lunch. Did you forget about me buying mutton for you?" Darkmoon asked. "You need to eat, buddy." The griffin purred and snuggled onto the red-eyed witch's shoulder as she cooked some of the mutton for Saturn. Soon enough, the mutton was cooked and Saturn was tearing into it like he'd never had a decent meal before in his life. "Slow down, Saturn, or you'll choke," Darkmoon chided.
"But GULP I'm GULP hungwy!" Saturn protested, but he did slow down. When he had finished, he yawned and stretched. His eyelids started to flutter, struggling to stay up. It was adorable. "Dawkmoon, I'm tiwed. Can I go and sleep now, please?"
"Of course," Darkmoon smiled. "Let's go, little guy." Saturn did his best to fly upstairs, but he was too fatigued and had to be carried up to bed. But as Darkmoon placed Saturn on the elevated cat bed, he whimpered and tried to get out. "What's wrong?"
"Don't wanna sleep thewe," Saturn sleepily protested. "I wanna sleep in youw bed." Darkmoon was conflicted about it. She didn't want an animal as small as Saturn to share her bed in case her tossing and turning in her sleep either crushed him or pushed him out of the bed. But it was only for one night . . . and Saturn did need lots of comfort in his first night at a new and unfamiliar place. She decided to allow it, just for tonight.
"OK, Saturn," Darkmoon agreed. "But it's just for tonight. Tomorrow night, you have to sleep in your own bed. Understand?"
"Undewstand," Saturn sleepily replied, as he slowly fell asleep. Darkmoon's eyes closed soon after, and both began to snore softly. It had been a long, long day.