Time skip: two years after Darkmoon adopted Saturn
It was the start of a brand new day for Darkmoon and Saturn. The sun was shining, birds were tweeting and a few were getting eaten by a few scavenging dragons. But there seemed to be a bad feeling in the air that Darkmoon sensed immediately. She checked her calendar to see if she had any upcoming events, and then she saw it.
That was where her bad feeling came from. It was precisely two years since she had graduated from Ruby Marina's School for Magically Gifted Teenagers. She remembered a lot of things about school, and it wasn't good. She was bullied mercilessly by her peers for being a poor kid with a stupid name and an allergy to cat fur, which was not good for witches. (The most common type of familiar for witches is a cat, specifically a black cat.) Darkmoon wasn't sure if she was going to go or not, but then Saturn, her precious griffin familiar, came downstairs and snuggled her.
"Are we going somewhere?" Saturn asked. "There's a weird-looking mark on the calendar. What is it?"
"School reunion," Darkmoon admitted. "I'm not sure if I should go."
"It might be fun," Saturn replied. "Are schools nice, Darkmoon?" Darkmoon wasn't sure what to say. She didn't want to tell Saturn about some of the things that she had gone through as a schoolgirl, so she covered it up.
"You learn a lot in school, Saturn," Darkmoon told the griffin, trying not to be overly negative because of her own experiences. "I learned all my magic there."
"So it must be fun! It has lots of magic, and magic's really cool! Can we go? Can we? Can we?" Saturn pleaded. Darkmoon couldn't possibly say no to that cute little face.
"Fine, we'll go," Darkmoon acquiesced, and Saturn did loop-the-loops in the air with joy.
"Yay! I bet magic school is fun!" Saturn babbled, as he dragged Darkmoon over to the kitchen to defrost some fish for him. "Come on, Darkmoon! We've got to go! We can't be late or people might be mad at us!" Darkmoon chuckled and scratched Saturn's neck just the way he liked it.
"Come on, you," Darkmoon smiled. "It's breakfast time now! Do you want salmon or haddock for breakfast today?"
"Uh, salmon, please," Saturn requested, and it was given to him. He watched anxiously, waiting for the fish to defrost while Darkmoon fretted about what to wear.
"OK, I need to look different, but not massively different, just different enough that it's hard to tell that it's me," Darkmoon acknowledged. "So I'm going to need a dress and flats instead of jeans, a t-shirt and sturdy, spiky boots with a lot of heel. After all, it is a formal event." But then some dark, scary thoughts came across Darkmoon's mind - what if familiars like Saturn weren't allowed? What if it was explicitly ex-students only? And - worst of all to her - what if Saturn couldn't handle all the noise and all the people and got scared? He used to have trouble with handling large crowds.
And that was when she got the letter pushed through the door. Maybe pushed isn't the right word. The letter floated through the mailbox, drifted through the hallway and came to a stop directly in front of Darkmoon and Saturn's faces. Saturn was in awe. The envelope opened itself with a flourish (of course it came from her old school) and read as follows:
Dear Darkmoon Blackbone,
As a former student, you have been invited to Ruby Marina's School for Magically Gifted Teenagers reunion of two years. Please note that familiars are allowed to come to the reunion, but not without a leash and collar. all food will be provided and tailored to you and your familiar. If you wish to attend the school reunion, please come to the school site at 1800 hours tonight.
Headmistress Athena Dragonsmoke.
Darkmoon checked the time. It was 1:10 in the afternoon. She had four hours and fifty minutes to get ready. She rushed to her room to look through everything she had in her wardrobe, but most of her clothes were black, leather and spiky, nothing like the clothes she was imagining. She cast a spell on her hair so it styled itself into French braids on her head while she looked for clothes. Now Darkmoon was getting desperate and really wanted to find something elegant and feminine that she owned. Just as the witch was beginning to lose hope, she found a simple dress that she could hide her normal outfits under so she looked girly every once in a while. It worked like a silk robe and it was utterly beautiful. It was blue and gold with the occasional hint of red. Underneath that, she wore her usual outfit of black jeans, black shirt and black leather jacket, which went unseen behind the elegant dress worn over it. Now she needed jewellery. She had a black opal and diamond pendant that would be perfect. Plus, the diamonds had a hint of blue, so it went with the outfit.
"Shoes next," Darkmoon sighed, searching through her bag. "Where are some decent shoes when you need them?" She used magic to levitate all the shoes she owned until she found the pair she was looking for. They were light blue, like the dress, with white soles. They had a bit of heel, but they were comfy and matched, so she wore them. But she still felt she was missing something. Not anything to do with her outfit - she knew that was complete. Then it hit her. She was missing her familiar. "Saturn! Come here!" she called. Saturn flew right to her side, snuggling her.
"What do you need?" he asked.
"I want you to come with me to the . . . party, but I'll need you to wear your leash and collar," Darkmoon told him. His face fell.
"Why?" he whimpered.
"The invitation said familiars can only come if they are wearing a leash and collar," Darkmoon explained. "Please, Saturn? For me?" Saturn sighed and let her put the collar and leash on. He hated wearing it (Saturn thought it felt restrictive), but he did it for Darkmoon, his favourite person in the whole world.
"How long are we going to be there?" Saturn asked.
"Not long, sweetie. I don't like reunions very much but I was invited and it would be rude not to go," Darkmoon explained. "Just a few introductions and we'll get to see Bloodhex. You remember Bloodhex?"
"Yeah, he was nice!" Saturn remembered. He remembered the affectionate teasing he endured and the kind words he had, not to mention how playful and tickly it was. Saturn loved how tickly it was.
"And Nightsmoke will be coming with us, too," Darkmoon told him. "And I know you like her." That was when Nightsmoke came downstairs in a sequinned purple dress that shimmered. Her shoes were purple with black flat soles. Saturn squealed and flew over to her. Halfway there, he was paralysed in midair using Nightsmoke's magic. He felt feathers stroke his tummy while ghostly hands toyed with his toes and squeezed his paw pads. The young griffin screamed with hysterical laughter. This was just too much for his little nerves to take! Before he knew it, he was in Darkmoon's arms, breathing slowly to get his energy back. He finally got the salmon he wanted, and he was also wearing an adorable little tuxedo that came with a tiny black bow. The black bow was wrapped around the collar to give it a fancier look. Saturn looked simply dashing. Darkmoon smiled at him, and Nightsmoke retrieved Claudia. She wore a leather glove and ordered the hawk to stay put on her arm.
"No, Claudia, stay there," Nightsmoke ordered. Claudia shifted from one foot to the other nervously, but otherwise stayed put. "Darkmoon, get the portal ready. We have people to freak out." Darkmoon summoned a portal to her old school, where they could see other people waiting. She recognized them all, and not in a good way. She took a deep breath, clenched Nightsmoke's free hand, and marched through the portal, Saturn flying by her side. The time was 5:50. Ten terrible minutes of socializing with the people who'd made her life hell during her school years. It wasn't like she hated socializing; she just never liked any of these people. Either way, this was going to be . . . interesting.
"Hey, beautiful!" a man catcalled, sounding rather drunk. "Your body is like a temple, and I'd like to worship it!" He came over, decked out in a shabby grey suit with scuffs on it, and a novelty tie covered in planets. His hair, black, was receding rapidly to the point that he was almost bald before he reached twenty years old, which is not a good look on anyone.
"Sorry, no services," Darkmoon told him. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Evan. Evan Blueflame," the man told her. Now she remembered him. He was the one who thought it was funny to coin the nickname 'Dorkmoon', which led to everyone calling her that and making her life hell. So yeah, he wasn't exactly her favourite person. "Who are you? I just though I'd remember such a pretty face." That was a stark contrast to school. Memories came roaring back to the front of Darkmoon's mind. Evan calling her 'the ugliest person alive'. Hecate writing 'Dorkmoon' in big letters on the blackboard. The class laughing as Darkmoon tried in vain to wipe it off, only to find the board had been enchanted with a spell to stop people from rubbing the writing off. Snickering when Darkmoon avoided the cats and birds and went for a lizard with Bloodhex.
"I'm not ready to tell anyone. It's going to be a surprise," Darkmoon told him. He seemed disappointed, but went along with it and left her alone. Saturn was confused.
"Why didn't you say your name, Darkmoon?" Saturn asked.
"I have a surprise for them," Darkmoon told him. "But I need your help. Don't tell anyone my name until I say, OK?" Saturn giggled, nodding. This game of keeping secrets from everyone sounded really fun to him. Nightsmoke and Claudia were busy terrifying other ex-students with Claudia's notable size advantage and carnivorous appetite over every other bird there. Unlike Darkmoon, she didn't care if people knew her name. Darkmoon would need to get her on board too. "Saturn, bring Nightsmoke over here. Don't say anything, just tell her that your owner needs to see you." Saturn nodded and flew off to see Nightsmoke, attempting to drag her away. But he was too small.
"My owner needs to see you," Saturn repeated, over and over. "You need to come with me."
"OK," Nightsmoke agreed, walking over to Darkmoon. "What the hell do you want? I was tormenting some of Hecate's stupid friends when you sent Saturn over."
"I need you in on a prank I'm planning," Darkmoon whispered. Nightsmoke grinned.
"You had me at prank," Nightsmoke snickered. "What do I do?"
"Don't tell anyone my name unless I have to receive something on some sort of stage," Darkmoon explained. "Everyone's trying to figure out who I am and it's hilarious!"
"Agreed," Nightsmoke snickered. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to scaring a bunch of wimps with budgies as familiars." Nightsmoke disappeared in a puff of smoke, and Darkmoon took that as a sign to continue confusing people, but now she had Saturn's help.
"Where's Bloodhex?" Saturn asked, scanning the garden for the kindly animal groomer and finding him trying to get away from talking to a much bigger guy. The poor guy seemed rather nervous. She pretended to be interested in him so she could pull him away for a little talk.
"Hey, stud. How about you and me have a little talk in private?" Darkmoon asked. Bloodhex recognized her, gratefully extricated himself from the bigger guy and went with her and Saturn to a quiet spot.
"Darkmoon, come on! I thought you knew that I-" he coughed nervously, looking around to see if anyone else was watching them before continuing to talk "-played for the other team."
"Of course I knew! I knew the moment you opened your mouth! I just need you to be in on a little prank of mine," Darkmoon confided. His interest was piqued.
"What do I do?" Bloodhex asked.
"Don't tell anyone my name unless I have to receive something on stage," Darkmoon told him. "It's as easy as that. Do I have your word?"
"Yes," Bloodhex agreed. "It'll be worth messing with them for what they used to do to us back in the day."
"Thanks, Bloodhex," Darkmoon smiled, just as the clock chimed for six o'clock. They would be allowed in now. The doors opened and the esteemed headmistress Athena Dragonsmoke, who was a very old lady now, greeted them at the doors.
"Salutations, former students! Please take a name tag and help yourselves to any refreshments you'd like!" she greeted, her own familiar nestled inside her handbag. Darkmoon, Saturn, Nightsmoke, Claudia and Bloodhex all walked in as a group.
"Wonder how everyone turned out," Darkmoon muttered.
"Judging by how few people had the honour of fireworks fly out of their results envelope, can't have been good," Nightsmoke admitted. "We had the least amount of firework graduates since the school's opening a century ago. You were one of only seven to graduate with fireworks that year. Fifteen teachers were sacked!"
"Well, I guess you would know about that, since you two were part of the seven," Bloodhex joked.
"Why are you talking about fireworks?" Saturn asked.
"Saturn, fireworks only happened in my school if you did a very good job," Darkmoon explained.
"So cool!" the young griffin squealed. He wanted to snuggle his owner, but then someone came over, and they recognized her. Yet another school bully, and this one was called Delores Soultaker. Darkmoon remembered her as the girl who would mock her fashion choices and hairstyles. Now she was wearing an ill-matching pink dress with a blue and green tartan coat. None of it succeeded in masking her bloated figure. Large amounts of blush had been applied to her face, making her look like an orange with a messy mop of blonde hair scraped into a loose braid that was coming apart at the ends.
"Oh my god, you look amazing!" she squealed. "I love what you did with your makeup!"
"I'm not wearing any makeup," Darkmoon replied. Her face fell but she continued with the conversation regardless.
"So I don't recognize you. What's your name?" Delores asked.
"I'm going to be surprising everyone by saying that later. Is that clear, Delores?" Darkmoon smiled. She scowled in her general direction, but didn't protest too much and needed no additional cues to leave. The trio knew that the other attendees were whispering about her, but if they wanted her identity, then they would have to wait until the awards were given or if her name would be called. Awards like 'Most Popular Person' and 'Biggest Transformation'. There was also a joke award for whoever was the 'Most Upgraded Person'. But that wasn't going to be for a while, so until then, the group of ex-losers would have to deal with social interaction from other people that they had never liked.
"Hello, mystery girl!" Evan crooned, slithering over to them. "How about I be your knight in shining armour and rescue you from these losers?" Nightsmoke and Bloodhex tensed up.
"Don't talk to them like that," Darkmoon defended.
"If you keep hanging around with them, you're going to end up a lot like that girl we all called Dorkmoon," he playfully warned.
"Who?" Darkmoon asked, continuing the charade.
"Not surprised you don't remember her, she was practically invisible. She was this utter loser we all made fun of back in the day. She looked like she got dressed in the dark, was a total nerd, never wore any makeup and looked like she was dragged through a hedge backwards," Evan remarked, casual and off-handed in his response. Darkmoon felt ribbons of fire curl around her hands, and she fought to control it. "She once asked me out because she had a huge crush on me, and I told her right to her face that she was the ugliest person alive and I wouldn't be caught dead with her as my girlfriend!" He laughed at the memory of it, and Darkmoon's blood boiled inside her veins. "I haven't seen her around here, but I bet she gets the award for Biggest Dork! Well, if there even is one, anyway!"
"Don't be so cruel!" Bloodhex snapped at her.
"Leave my owner alone!" Saturn growled.
"Yeah, you're right. There's no way you could be anything like that loser! Darkmoon would never be able to get her ugly little hands on a griffin, anyway." Evan walked away laughing about the loser he remembered so well. Darkmoon was livid, and her friends tried to comfort her.
"Are you OK?" Nightsmoke asked.
"I know a good spell that can send him to Mount Everest. I'll use it if you want," Bloodhex offered.
"Who's Dorkmoon?" Saturn asked. Darkmoon stiffened. She hated talking to Saturn about her less pleasant experiences, but now she'd have to.
"Saturn, when I was younger, people used to call me Dorkmoon. They didn't like me very much back them and they don't recognize me," Darkmoon admitted. "Just stick to the plan and don't tell anyone what my name is, OK?"
"OK," Saturn agreed. He was starting to get worried about Darkmoon. She always made sure that he was OK. This time, he wanted to make sure that she was OK.
"Hey, do you know where the old cool kids are?" some boy asked. "I haven't been able to find them anywhere. Have you seen them?"
"No, and I don't want to," Darkmoon replied. "Why do you want to see them?"
"Just want to see how they're doing. They're probably working such cool jobs and look great," he replied naïvely. Darkmoon shook her head at the ridiculousness of it all.
"You'd be surprised," Darkmoon told him. "If you were cool as a kid, it'll just go downhill later. It always does. Have you seen Evan Blueflame?"
"No," he replied.
Darkmoon grinned. "You should. He's gotten a serious downgrade since school. Just saying." He turned pale and went to look for Evan. Meanwhile, the 'old cool kids' as he had put it, were drinking all the alcoholic drinks and were embarrassingly drunk, to the point of doing stupid things. Delores was trying to see if she could do a handstand, and people were coming over just to look up (or rather, down) her skirt while she was upside-down. Evan was drinking enchanted beer after enchanted beer as girls rejected him one by one. Maybe the excessive drinking was to drown his feelings, but Darkmoon was a potions tester, not a psychiatrist. She wasn't supposed to be analyzing him; she was supposed to be analyzing magic potions. Athena Dragonsmoke called for everyone's attention, before getting up onto the stage to begin a presentation.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to have you here at this school reunion," she began. "The first part of this reunion is doing the ten-year comparison, where a picture of you from ten years ago is placed next to you now, as a functioning member of society." She retrieved a list stating the names of people who had come here. "Bloodhex Arthur-Black?" Bloodhex walked onto the stage, and compared to his acne-ridden schoolboy self, he looked good. He was taller and a little more muscular than his teenage self, which was nice. There was a polite smattering of applause when he left. "Nightsmoke Ashby?" Nightsmoke walked onto the stage, and she hadn't changed much. Her only social crime was being friends with Bloodhex and Darkmoon, known school pariahs. She also received a round of applause from the assembled ex-students. "Darkmoon Blackbone?" A hush fell over the crowd as Darkmoon simply refused to get on. An awkward silence hung over the room.
"Darkmoon, they want you," Saturn insisted. "Darkmoon?" She let out a sigh and made her way to the stage, walking over just in time to see a photo of her younger self on a screen. Her younger self had messy and greasy black hair, braces, thick round glasses (enchanted to improve the wearer's eyesight), and hideous acne. Needless to say, people freaked out. A lot.
"Darkmoon got hot!" someone screamed, and chaos temporarily reigned supreme. Darkmoon watched over all of them with a smug sense of superiority. The bookish loser, the nerdiest of them all, had the biggest upgrade of all time. The elderly headmistress had to step in to calm everyone down.
"ENOUGH!" she roared. Everyone shut up, except for Darkmoon and Saturn, who hadn't been talking anyway. "This behaviour is utterly uncalled for. You are all ex-students of Ruby Marina's School for Magically Gifted Teenagers. So act like it!" Darkmoon looked at her old headmistress, nodded sagely and left with Saturn. The crowd of her ex-classmates parted to let her through, whispering to each other. But she didn't care. She'd stopped caring about what they said a long time ago. They'd whispered about her before, and for all she cared, they could whisper about her again. It would just prove to her that they hadn't changed a bit. It wouldn't surprise her, but it would prove to be rather disappointing. They were supposed to be adults now. Supposed being the operative word here.
"Darkmoon, can we go now?" Saturn asked. "I don't like it here. Everyone's looking at us."
"It's OK. We'll be gone soon, anyway," Darkmoon promised. "But not until this is done. I promise." Saturn sighed, and the two sat through a long and boring presentation of everyone who'd ever been there standing next to their teenage selves.
"Hecate Shadowcape?" the old headmistress asked, and a hush fell over them all once again. Delores approached the hostess to whisper in her ear. "My apologies, ladies and gentlemen. It seems Miss Shadowcape will not be joining us tonight."
"Because she's in prison," someone muttered. That person received a hateful glare from the wizened old lady, but by then, word was out, and rumours thrived.
"Wait, Hecate's in jail? I thought she was rich enough to pay for both the bail and a good defence lawyer."
"I heard her parents disowned her after they saw her exam results and kicked her out of the house. They even got themselves a lawyer to make it all official."
"She got so fat after school finished. Did you see her? And she used to make fun of me for carrying around a little baby fat."
"Last time I saw her, she was behind the counter of a seedy bar on the wrong side of the tracks. Not sure if she quit working there or she was fired, but she was gone soon after."
"Moving swiftly on," Athena hurriedly replied, continuing to read off a list of names. "Delores Soultaker?" Delores walked onto stage and stood next to a photograph of her younger self. There was a polite smattering of applause, but also a few snickers at how far she'd fallen since her school days. Delores stormed off the stage in a huff. Now the official part was over, the unofficial part of tormenting Darkmoon could begin. Just not in the usual way.
"Heyyyyyy Darkmoon," Evan shyly greeted, sidling up to her. Darkmoon sidled away.
"You're drunk," she flatly told him.
He giggled uncontrollably before his laughter died down. "And you're hot. Like, really hot. I know about this bar called Fitzy's Place that I could take you to, they know me there-" Darkmoon stopped him right there.
"Didn't you say I was the ugliest person alive and you wouldn't be caught dead with me as your girlfriend?" Darkmoon asked. Evan stammered, trying to come up with a convincing response.
"I, um, was just kidding! You know, typical kid stuff, horsing around with stuff . . ." His voice trailed off once he realized nobody was buying it, least of all Darkmoon and her unimpressed friends. Darkmoon waltzed off, angry at how superficial her old crush was, and angry at herself for idolizing him for so long.
"Nice try, Evan," Nightsmoke snarked. "You almost had her there. Pity you didn't say that whilst we were in school, when she still had a crush on you." She and Bloodhex went to find Darkmoon, who was outside with Saturn on a particularly quiet part of the playground they used to be teased on so many times. She was nervously nibbling on a macaroon and looking around for people when Saturn spotted them.
"Nightsmoke! Bloodhex!" Saturn called, waving at them. Darkmoon looked around, and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Oh, it's just you," she sighed. "I was worried that Evan had found me and wanted to try out more of his stupid pick-up lines."
"Evan can barely find his own nose, let alone a witch and her familiar," Bloodhex reassured. "We were wondering if you'd like to go home. Nightsmoke promised that we could spend the rest of the night eating pizza and watching movies over at your place and it wouldn't be the same without you." Darkmoon jumped at the chance.
"Where's the portal, you little turds?" Darkmoon asked. They laughed, happy and relieved.
"I thought you'd say that," Nightsmoke grinned. "Come on." She created a portal out of thin air, and the moment it was wide enough, Claudia flew through it, then Saturn. Bloodhex ushered Darkmoon and Nightsmoke through, and then stepped through the portal himself. A crowd of the old cool kids came over to see what was making so much noise, but they couldn't find anyone or anything.
"I could have sworn they went this way," Evan said, scratching his dandruff-ridden head of hair.
"Whatever. Let's just get back to the bar before all the good stuff's gone," Delores huffed.
Meanwhile, at home, Darkmoon, Saturn, Bloodhex, Nightsmoke and Claudia were at home, eating pizza and watching movies. "I'm beginning to wonder if I was the only one who went to see who got fat," Darkmoon mused.
"You'll never know," her friends chorused. Saturn was asleep next to her, and Claudia was sitting on her perch, sleeping as everyone else had fun. In their own quiet way, this was far better than the school reunion ever was.