SWolf: No, I'm not crying, I don't know what you're talking about! You're crying! *sniffles loudly*
GH: *hands tissue to SWolf* All good things must come to an end.
GH: You still have a preview for them, don't you?
SWolf: ...yeah...Okay, here we go!
The Owl Lady stared at the odd collection of witchlings scattered about the room before she returned her gaze to Luz. The look she was giving her made Luz feel like she was about to get a serious smack upside the head, especially when Eda took in the assortment of burns all along her arms, the cut on her cheek, and the shredded remains of her clothes. Too bad GH couldn't have mended them for her.
"What the heck happened to you?" Eda crossed the room in long strides to grab Luz's wrists and pulled on her arms to look at the burns. "You look like you took a shower in the boiling rain!"
Luz winced at the very fresh memory of Damien throwing her out the window. "Something like that…" she winced as Eda gingerly prodded a burn on her forearm and looked at Amity, seeing the ripped fabric of her shirt sleeve and the puckered scar on her shoulder beneath. Amity swallowed when she met Eda's eyes, hands fisting on the cushion she was sitting on.
"We ran into some trouble yesterday and decided to take shelter here from the rain."
"Nobody asked you, Minty Fresh. Thanks to you the Doubles were waking me up at o'dark thirty asking if you were with Luz, and I had to drag Lily out of bed so we could find you kids!" Pulling back, Eda turned on her heel to survey the rest of the room, frowning at the glowing crystal ball that housed Madame Leota. "Who the heck are you?"
"I am Madame Leota, seer of all and voice to the spirits."
"Huh, that's a mouthful."
"I'm sorry Eda," Luz stared at the floor as her mentor turned around. "It's my fault. When Amity suggested we hide out here, we met this demon called the Ghost Host who asked us to break a curse and, well,"
"Wait...Ghost Host?" Luz looked up to see Eda's eyebrows raised. "Were they about seven or so feet tall, all shadows, horns, and wings? Liked to go on about being caretaker for some 'happy haunts'? Kind of a showboat?"
Luz's jaw went slack. "You...know them?"
"Know them?" A loud snort came from the Owl Lady as she threw back her head and laughed. "Are you kidding? I used to hang out here all the time as a witchling, and when I was cursed, good ol' Ghost Host with the Most helped me get a lid on the Owl Beast. Said they knew what it was like to...well...be a monster. So," Eda grinned, resting a hand on her hip to lean against Owlbert. "I'm going to go out on a limb as say you all beat the Pandor Curse? Oh man, I can't wait to hear the details. But, not right now," ruffling Luz's hair, Eda turned around and walked to the door, waving over her shoulder. "C'mon kiddos, let's get you all home."
Luz and Amity looked at each other, the meaning of the word sinking in. Home, where Amity would have to face her parents and either hide the secret that she was not only pining for, but was now actually, in love with, a human. Or, tell them all what had happened during the boiling rainstorm. The cautionary tale of Emilia and Chiaro, the words of the Ghost Host, all flooded their thoughts, prickling at them with the cold claws of fear. If Amity's parents forbade them from ever seeing each other again...Luz shook her head. No, she was not going to let that happen. They would not repeat the same tragic history of the Pandor family.
"It's going to be okay, Amity," she whispered as they stood, taking up Rex in her free hand and holding Amity's. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you, or to us. Even if it means I have to go ghost and use the Phantom Glyph to go on a date with you, I'll do it."
Amity's eyes widened and her face went bright pink. "D-d-date?!"
"Oh," Luz swallowed. "Uh. Did you not want to? I-I just thought since you and me are now - at least I think we are - or maybe not? I mean," she cleared her throat and faced Amity completely. "Let me try again. Amity Blight, would you like to go on a date with me?"
"Oh for the love of Titan, just say yes."
The two girls sprang apart and looked around the room. Everyone else had already left and were walking out the main doors, having taken their mementoes with them. Luz whipped her head about, but all was quiet. No large shadow hiding in the corner or lounging against the wall. Blinking, Luz shook her head. "Huh, maybe we should get out of here?"
Amity nodded, giving the room a cautious look. "We probably should."
They hurried out of the Portrait Room, but Luz paused briefly to look over her shoulder up at the painting of Emilia and her parents over the main hall. It was just like she remembered it when they first came in, but now, there was a very subtle smile curling at the corners of Emilia's lips and a soft light seemed to shine in her eyes. Lowering her gaze to the hall, Luz thought for a second she saw a candelabra hovering in the shadows, but when she blinked, it was gone.
"Luz?" Amity touched her shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Giving the hallway one final look, Luz sighed and faced the witch. "Yeah, I'm good. Let's get going."
When they stepped out of the doors and onto the front porch, the sun hit Luz like a warm spotlight, making her wince briefly at the golden hue. After having spent so much trapped in a perpetual night, the feeling of sunlight on her skin, even the burn marks from the rain, was a dizzying comfort she had not realized how much she missed.
"There they are! Luz!"
Luz jumped as two bodies crashed into them, trapping them in a joint bear-hug. Wriggling her face free from the dark green hair blocking her eyes, Luz stared at Emira as she hugged her in one arm while the other was wrapped around Amity's shoulders. Edric had Amity pinned from the other side and was nuzzling the top of her head with his cheek.
"We were so worried about you, Mittens! We didn't know where you had gone after the storm hit!"
For once, Amity did not look so annoyed with her siblings, though she did shoot an exasperated look at Luz that had the human stifling a laugh.
"Ed! Em! Can't breathe!"
The twins released the girls and took a step back to look them both over.
"What in the Titan's name happened to you?!"
"Where'd you get that cool palisman, Luz?"
"Why is your shirt torn, Mittens?"
"We told Mom and Dad you were waiting out the rain at the library!"
Sighing, Amity held up a hand to stop her siblings before they could fire more questions. "It's a long story. I promise I'll tell you two what happened, but for now, we're both really exhausted."
Ed and Em must have taken the hint their little sister was not going to say anything more and nodded, though Luz caught the knowing look Emira gave her when she glanced at their clasped hands. Following the steps down to the main path, Luz saw their friends waiting for then, along with Eda and Lilith, who were talking quietly together until Eda saw them approaching.
"Alrighty kids, let's get you all home. Lily, you take Shortstack, Glasses, and the talking paperweight back to Bonesborough, I'll bring Luz back to the Owl House."
Gus, Madame Leota, and Willow looked at each other.
"What about us?" Skara asked when Eda turned to her.
"You and Triclops will be heading back with the Doubles, since you all are of the 'elite'."
Luz snickered at Bosha's reaction to Eda's nickname for her. The Owl Lady flicked her wrist and Owlbert's wings sprang out as she straddled the staff.
"Okay kiddo, time to get you home and take care of those burns. Think you can get that new staff of yours to work?"
Rex's scales glimmered in the sunlight and Luz slowly lifted the palisman to look at the closed lids and retracted hood. She felt Amity squeeze her hand reassuringly before she let go. Luz immediately missed the feel of her fingers laced with hers, but she slowly took the staff in both hands and set the end to the ground.
"Rex?" No response. "Rex? Are you in there?" The cobra was as silent as a statue and a lump formed in Luz's throat. Slumping forward, she trudged to the waiting Owl Lady. "I guess not."
A sudden hiss from below made her freeze as something small, narrow, and wet flicked across the back of her hand. Luz started, opened mouthed, and lifted her arm to stare at the glowing eyes of Mezzanotte's palisman, the white stripes stretching back across his eyes to curve into his wide-spread hood. The cobra hissed at her and tasted the air with his tongue, his eyes no longer the lavender color from before, but now a deep violet, similar to the shade Luz always preferred.
"Wow," Eda said as Luz continued to gape at the cobra. "That's one unique palisman. Think he'll be able to keep up with Owlbert?"
Looking to her mentor, Luz grinned widely and mounted the staff. "Dunno, he's a pretty fast flyer. Think you'll be able to keep up?"
Eda raised an eyebrow at the challenge, letting King climb on behind her. "How bout this? Last one home gets to feed Hooty for the weekend!"
Rex halted in place as Amity ran up to Luz, grabbing hold of the staff. "I never answered your question."
Luz blinked. "Oh, that's okay. You don't have to right now. Like you said, we've been through a lot and you need to head back home. We can talk about it la-" she was cut short by Amity yanking the staff close to wrap her arm around her neck and kiss her deeply. Behind them, Edric and Emira, Lilith, and Eda all went slack-jawed.
"Uh, King?" The Owl Lady whispered. "Exactly what happened in that mansion?"
The demon waved his paw dismissively. "Meh, nothing too crazy. Just another 'doomed lovers being reunited after a tragic death' situation, and Luz and Amity professing their love to each other."
Eda blinked at the demon and looked back to the girls. "Sounds pretty crazy to me."
Smiling against the human's lips, Amity pulled back and stared up at Luz from beneath her lashes. "I'd love to go on a date with you, Luz Noceda."
All Luz could do was open and close her mouth wordlessly as she tried to remember how to speak. She was really going to have to figure out this sort of thing so Amity wouldn't keep getting the best of her. Finally, she managed to choke out a squeak, then cleared her throat, face burning red. "Oh, okay, great! Um, I'll, uh, text you on your scroll!" She smiled and nodded to Willow, Gus, Boscha, and Skara. "Thanks guys for everything. See you all at school on Monday!" Turning back to Eda, Luz grasped the wood beneath Rex and leaned forward. "Alright Rex, lets go!"
The cobra let out a hiss and took off, leaving a small cloud of dust in their wake as they circled overhead of the group and above the roof of Pandor Mansion. From so high, it looked like nothing more than an abandoned, ancient, and decrepit manor, not an enchanted labyrinth that housed countless souls and a powerful demon to watch over them. Movement caught Luz's eye and she saw a brief shape appear behind the shattered glass door of Emilia's room. A pair of gold and red eyes glinted from a humanoid mass of rippling shadows that lifted a long clawed hand to her in a wave.
"Ciao, Luz Noceda." And then it was gone, nothing but a tattered curtain swaying in the breeze.
Luz turned her head to see Eda hovering nearby.
"You gonna float there all day or show me what that thing can do?"
Shooting one more look back at the broken window she had crashed through, Luz shook her head and grinned at her mentor. "Last one home is a rotten griffin egg!"
Wind sang in her ears as Rex all but jet streamed past Eda, making her yell out as she rocketed after Luz, quickly closing in. Leaning forward, Luz urged Rex to go faster, watching as his hood flared out like wings to catch an air current, and she smiled. She had broken a two-hundred year-old curse, made friends with a Nowhere Demon, and had a date with Amity Blight. A popular, powerful, beautiful witch who loved her, a quirky, weirdo human goofball.
Yup. She thought to herself, holding out her arms to feel the rush of the wind around her, grin stretching across her face. Better than any Azura adventure she could have ever wished for. It was a major win for Team Owlet, and she was going to treasure it.
From the shadows of Emilia Pandor's bedroom, the Ghost Host watched Luz sail through the sky on Rex, her mentor following close behind. Grinning, the demon chanced a look to the ground where the witchlings had begun to disperse, going back to their homes. Their gaze lingered on the bright mint-green hair of Amity and darted back up to Luz's disappearing form.
The Blight family would not be happy to learn of their youngest daughter's budding romantic relationship with the human girl, not to mention the fact she had dared enter Pandor Mansion, a place her family loathed. If there was anything Mezzanotte knew of the Blights, they always had a legitimate reason for deciding when anything was not worth their time. At least, legitimate to them. Something she could speak to from personal experience, but, that would be for another time. Pushing off the wall where she had been leaning her shoulder against, Mezzanotte turned her back to the daylight and walked into the darkened halls of the mansion. A portal had been opened to the Chaos Realm, and, unfortunately, it was not a one-demon-only invitation. She had sensed others when the Nowhere Demon returned to the realm, a sort of parting gift left by the Greater One. That meant there was much to do and very little time to do it in.
But for now, she would leave the newly formed Team Owlet to enjoy their well-earned peace, and maybe, just maybe, it would be enough for Luz and Amity to earn their time together truthfully as a couple and not have to sneak around. She knew they would have to face a great many challenges, lessons that would test them to their limits, enemies who would want to tear them apart. She believed in them. The love between the two was strong, the strongest she had seen in a very long time, and that was something worth fighting for. Besides, if anything did happen, their friends would be there for them. However, if all else failed, the Ghost Host smiled, there was always her way.
Wow. I mean. Wow. If someone had told me back in the end of September this silly little idea of a four-part Halloween special for the Owl House fandom would turn into a sixteen chapter story - dare I say, my best work ever? - I would not have believed it. What is even more amazing is the fact so many of you not only enjoyed, but genuinely care for, the character of the Ghost Host. I would have bet money against that idea and lost. As in, a ton of snails worth. I wish I could sum it all up in the amount of letters I'm allowed to use for this End Note, but, I don't want to bore you all with a word dump. The best thing I can do is say: thank you. Thank you to each an every one of you who encouraged me to continue on with this idea and have it grow into such an amazing story. It's a very bittersweet feeling to see this story come to an end, but I promise you, we are not done with Team Owlet, or our good friend the Ghost Host, aka, Mezzanotte. And so, as a little parting gift, I'll leave you all with a sneak peek for the next installment of the Team Owlet series. I hope you all enjoy it, and I will see you all soon.
Ghosts of Slithermas Eve:
For hundreds of years, the residents of Boiling Isles have celebrated the longest night of the year as the holiday Slithermas, named for the beasts that gather that one night to present a special tree branch to their chosen mate. On that night, Blight Manor hosts the grandest party ever for the rich and powerful, but this year, something is different. Something, or someone, is haunting the Blight household and interrupting their plans. With the fate of Slithermas at stake, Luz may just get her wish to spend the holiday with Amity as Team Owlet gathers to solve the mystery. If only she can find the perfect gift for her first...