Magic Unleashed – Chapter IX – You Can Never Go Back Home #FreeFictionFriday

MAGIC UNLEASHED

Genre: gay romance, gay fiction, fantasy, magic, light BDSM
Main characters: Eikki (spell caster) and Charis (familiar)
Blurb: coming soon! It entails magic, two stubborn men, and lots of steamy stuff (at least somewhere down the line)
Length: Anywhere between novella and novel? Read and see!

Chapter I – Absent Choice
Chapter II – What Makes a Home
Chapter III – Rules of the Game
Chapter IV – Not all the Way Through
Chapter V – Cold, Hard Light of Day
Chapter VI – Herald of Doom
Chapter VII – Of Claims and Bonds
Chapter VIII – Enemies and Truths

You Can Never Go Back Home

I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the quiet of our home, the knowledge it was only Eikki and me for the foreseeable future. The very day after Arris’ departure, a letter arrived. I recognized the wax seal immediately. My family’s. The familiar panther embossed on black wax, its mouth open to show its impressive teeth looked right at me. However, this wasn’t a letter addressed to me. My parents had written to Eikki.

Worry coiled inside me, twisting and killing whatever appetite I’d mustered for our lunch. Despite Arris’ absence, the morning hadn’t been enjoyable. Eikki kept his distance, reacting to everything I did or said with a detached coolness. I didn’t like it. I sensed he was upset with me, and while annoying, he had a point. I hadn’t ever acted this way before Arris had stormed into our lives. How could he trust I wouldn’t revert to my old ways now that he’d given in to my requests.

There was another issue, one that made me snarl and glower. I suspected he missed Arris. He missed the elf who was in love with him. Also his closest friend. And I’d forced him to send Arris away. Sure, Arris had provoked me. He’d sensed my insecurities and turned them against me.

And now this letter than spelled nothing good. In the first year of bonding, families were strongly advised not to interfere. There were exceptions for deaths and other major events. I sighed and walked back into the house, giving up on my walk through the woods in search of new herbs I’d read about.

“It’s for you,” I said lamely, handing the letter to Eikki.

He opened it with smooth, practiced moves and read through it. His serene expression darkened more with every line, a deep frown splitting his forehead by the end.

“Is everything all right?”

Eikki lifted his head and met my eyes. “I can’t say.”

“What do you mean? Is someone sick? Or dying?”

He pressed his lips together and handed me the letter. “Read for yourself.”

I read as fast as I could, then read the short and precise letter again. I could tell from the style and briefness that my father had composed it. Other than that, it made no sense.

“They’re asking you to allow me to visit them, yet they give no reason.”

“Precisely.”

“They’re not supposed to see me during our first year together.”

Eikki shrugged. He looked exhausted, which made me feel even worse. I’d made his friend leave and now my family was requesting things they had no right to ask of him. The letter wasn’t even friendly or especially pleading. More of a demand masquerading as a polite request.

I threw the letter on the floor and plopped down on his lap. “You shouldn’t allow it. They have no right to interfere.”

If someone had told me, even a few days ago, that I’d advise Eikki to deny my family’s request, I’d have suggested they checked themselves for symptoms of insanity. And here I was, holding on to Eikki a little too tightly, and hoping he didn’t allow it.

“They’re worried about you, Kitty Cat. They know nothing of me or my magic. And they had no say in what happened to you. Of course they’d want to see you.”

“Yes, but if you reported their attempts to interfere—”

“No.” He touched his forehead to mine, his breath wafting over my lips, making my skin tingle. “I think it would be good for you.”

My gut turned to sinking stone, the pain so physical, I gasped. “You’re sending me away.”

Eikki said something I couldn’t make out and crushed me against him, his hands tight around me. It still didn’t feel like I was close enough. “I would never do that, Charis. I never want to be without you. It’s only a short trip to Zalmos. Go spend the afternoon with them, have dinner and stay the night. I’ll be here in the morning, waiting for you.”

I clung to him and, to my utter dismay, I whimpered. “It feels wrong. I can’t leave.”

He threaded his fingers through my hair and held me in place. His lips touched mine, slow but precise, and he did his very best to kiss the worry out of me. When he released me, I didn’t feel more at ease. On the contrary, a strange something coiled and lashed out inside me, telling me to stay where I was, by his side.

“I’ll go if you want me to,” I said, my voice breaking as I spoke the words.

“It will do you good, Kitty Cat. You must miss them.”

I did. Yet the idea of being away from him sounded far worse. I didn’t want to upset him any further, especially since I could sense he wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of me leaving.

“Okay then. Can we have lunch first?”

“Of course.”

By the time we were done with our food, I knew I’d made a mistake. I should have left right away instead of waiting. I’d given myself time to consider it and realize I’d be forced to be without Eikki.
I said a rushed goodbye and forced myself out of my dark elf’s home. I took the long, winding road circling around the hill and taking me further into the city, my heart growing heavier with every step. When I reached my old home, the buzz of voices coming through from inside, a flutter of excitement made its way through my gloom. I took a deep breath and knocked. It felt strange to announce my arrival like that, but simply going in as if I was still an intrinsic part of this family felt equally out of place.

“Charis, you’re here,” Mother said from the doorway. No smile, no twinkle in her eyes. She motioned for me to step inside, but didn’t make any move to hug me or kiss my cheek.

Her coldness shattered my heart. She’d always been a warm woman, never guarding her love too closely and showering it on me and my siblings.

“Hello, Mother. It’s good to see you.” The words came out clipped and forced, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

“Your father is waiting in the greeting room.”

The hurt I’d thought completely obliterated me broke my heart again. The greeting room was for strangers. We huddled together in the kitchen or outside in the garden, laying on large blankets and basking in the sun’s warm touch. I knew I’d no longer find the same sense of belonging here, but I hadn’t expected to be treated like a stranger either.

Without a word, I made my way to the room my mother had assigned to our meeting. Inside, Father sat on a large chair facing the window, his shoulders stiff. He turned his head at the sound of my steps and nodded once. “Charis.”

He’d always called me son. My name was reserved for scoldings. Yes, things had changed since my bonding. A lot more than I was comfortable with.

I sat across from my father, a small, wooden table he’d made separating us. Mother pushed the chair between us closer to my father and sat. She took his hand in hers and squeezed, a little sob escaping her. I searched her face, but nothing there indicated why she’d made that sound. I’d always thought she’d been unable to hide anything. I’d been wrong, as I’d apparently been about a lot of things, starting with my own magic.

“Has the dark elf been treating you well?” Father asked.

“Yes, very well. His home is comfortable, I have everything I could possibly need, and I’m learning a lot.”

Mother whimpered, her face twisted in a grimace of pain. “He’s corrupting you, isn’t he? Teaching you dark magic?”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “You can’t learn dark magic. You can try to perform dark spells. The magic itself… you’re either born with it, or not. It appears I am a dark magic conduit, despite what the Spell Caster’s Council told us when they’d tested me.”

“Lies,” Father shouted, pushing his upper body forward. “We’re all light magic users in this family. It’s impossible for one of our offspring to harbor any other kind.”

I shrugged, feeling tired and alone. “Then there are two options. I am either not your son, or someone in our family lineage was a dark magic user. Their influence stayed hidden from generation to generation and manifested within me.”

“We were there, Charis,” Mother hissed. “We saw the Choosing. You were on your knees, he forced you. The Council is investigating this bloody dark elf of yours. Once we discover how he made you choose him, we’ll break the bond.”

I laughed humorlessly and stood. “Only dark magic users can break bonds. Eikki is an expert. Perhaps you should inquire about his services. I’m sure he’d give you a fair price, seeing how you are my family.”

Mother’s eyes filled with tears, but she reined them in. “He’s poisoned you.”

“We’ll find a way to rid you of his influence,” Father said, pulling her close to him.”

I ran a shaky hand through my hair and exhaled. “I did not expect this of you. It doesn’t surprise me the mages in the council deceive us about the nature of magic. Dark users frighten them. I didn’t think my family would fall pray to it, or reject me for who I am.”

“You are not a dark magic user,” Mom insisted, her voice pleading. Her will faltered and her tears ran free down her face. For once, I saw how she’d aged, and it quelled my rising anger.

“Mother, Father, I love you. But you are wrong. I know what and who I am. And I am not afraid of it or Eikki. He’s been patient with me, allowing me time to understand and to accept our bond. I won’t stand here and let you throw mud at him.”

Mother covered her mouth with a hand, her entire body shaking with her sobs. Father held her through it, his eyes fixed on me. He didn’t seem upset, more curious than anything. He’d always been eager to learn. Even if, unlike me and my siblings, he wasn’t a familiar. He had some magic, too low to put to proper use. Yet he’d made a good husband to my mother who’d lost her bonded spell caster long before they’d met.

“I’m sorry you’ve been living with this burden. I wish I could have talked to you earlier. There’s nothing nefarious in my bonding. It looks strange, I know. It felt even stranger at the time. It’s different, that part is true enough. But it’s not good or evil. I hope you find it in your hearts to accept it one day.”

“What would have happened if that damned elf hadn’t shown up at our Choosing?” Mother asked, wiping furiously at her cheeks.

“Nothing. I wouldn’t have found a spell caster to bond with. I would have needed dark magic.” I made for the door, eager to leave this place and return to Eikki.

“Son, where are you going?”

Of course Father would give in first. He was the peacekeeper in our little family. I closed my eyes, standing still and waiting. I didn’t want to argue with them, but I wouldn’t let them badmouth Eikki either.

“What does he call you?” Mother asked, her voice so small, I almost didn’t hear her.

It was a strange question to ask, I thought. Then cold shivers ran down my spine. What had they imagined he did to me? “Kitty Cat. He calls me Kitty Cat, Mother.”

“Is it true, about dark magic users becoming their familiars’ lovers?”

I nodded. “It’s how they complete the bond. Why it’s so strong. We haven’t done that yet.”

“Why not? Is it because you do not want it?”

I turned to face her and shook my head. “Because Eikki believes I want it for the wrong reasons.”

She sighed, slumping into her chair, her eyes hollow. “I cannot accept this.”

“Then I must leave.” And leave I did, my heart as hollow as that haunted look of hers. I’d lost my family, in a more brutal way than any familiar I’d known had ever experienced. All of them light magic familiars.

“Charis, wait,” Father said, chasing after me. I stopped in the middle of the street and did not resist when he spun me around and crushed me in a hug. “Give her time, my son. She loves you and she’ll make an effort to understand.”

“It’s not me shunning her, Father.”

“I know, you’re a good boy.” With that, he released me and disappeared back inside.

I stood there for a while, staring at the house I’d grown up with. I’d never understood why people said you could never go back home. Until today. Today I knew what it felt like to lose the one place you’d always expected to be accepted and loved.

My panther egged me on, telling me to run to Eikki,insisting he was my home now, but I couldn’t. I needed time to catch my breath, wrap my mind around everything that had happened. I took the shortest way out of the city, jumping over a few fences and walls, until I reached the cool solace of the woods. I went far into the heart of the forest, seeking familiar sounds and scents of critters and leaves and strange flowers. When I was far enough from any other person, I shifted and curled in on myself.

I woke up in the dark and stretched. For a second, I was at peace. Then the memory of my afternoon barreled in and I whined. I didn’t return to my human form; as a panther, I’d be better at navigating the dark woods at this time of night. I was faster too. And I wanted to go back to Eikki, immediately.

I reached his—no, our home and shifted to my human form as I pushed through the door. Eerie silence greeted me, my heart picking up speed. I tilted my head and closed my eyes, opening my senses to find Eikki. My dark elf wasn’t here. I went from room to room, hoping I’d been wrong somehow.

He’d left a note for me in the library, on top of the book on foundations of magic I’d been reading. Eikki had been called away to help a familiar. He’d be back soon.
I fell on the floor and wept in silence. Another home I’d lost. Not forever, but long enough for me to feel displaced. Abandoned and forgotten.

It took me to the dying hours of the night to pull myself together enough to crawl into Eikki’s bed. I forced my eyes closed and tried to relax. Come home soon, my elf. He was too far to hear me, but I had to believe thoughts had power. That it would reach him somehow. A few minutes later, everything went blank.

Chapter X – Blunt Magic and Crooked Spells

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A pleasure to meet you! I’m Alina Popescu, an author, traveler, and hopeless coffee addict. I write urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and sometimes even contemporary stories. A significant number of my books are LGBTQ fiction and romance.

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