Chapter 6: Battle Of The Herbos
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Monday didn’t come nearly soon enough. Of course, Kat had spent the entire weekend trying not to overthink things, trying to figure out the exact correct length of time to wait between texts so as not to seem too eager. As always, Millie was infuriatingly confident, and Kat couldn’t help but blurt out the occasional groan of frustration as she tried to find the right answer to the various flirts Millie bowled her way. In the end, she felt like she’d held her own. Barely. 


Katastrophe: I had a great time yesterday :)

Millieficent: I know ;)

Millieficent: and don’t worry

Millieficent: I did too

Katastrophe: and thank you for making dinner! it was d e l i c i o u s

Millieficent: meh

Katastrophe: ??

Millieficent: the appetizer was better ;)

Katastrophe: !

Millieficent: you’re so cute

Katastrophe: !!!

Katastrophe: First of all how dare you

Millieficent: come here and stop me

Katastrophe: ughhhh I want to

Millieficent: same thing again next week? 

Katastrophe: definitely

Katastrophe: I’ll bring snacks this time!

Millieficent: eeeeexcellent

Millieficent: I’ve been craving a kitkat

Katastrophe: omg

Katastrophe: that was so corny

Millieficent: do you want me to stop?

Katastrophe: uhhhh no

Millieficent: good girl

Katastrophe: o///_///o

Katastrophe: you are evil

Millieficent: you know you can’t trust witches

Millieficent: they’ll put a spell on you

Katastrophe: are you like this with everyone???

Millieficent: not at all

Millieficent: only with girls I can’t stop myself from looking at

Katastrophe: !!

Millieficent: you know, the ones that take my breath away

Millieficent: the ones who make me think about kisses all damn day.

Katastrophe: you’re going to be the death of me

Millieficient: worth 

Katastrophe: hell yea


She’d done what she could to keep her useless brain from screaming, from making every response an onomatopoeic scream. She’d managed, somehow, but it had been hard. Still, getting consistent confirmation from Millie that she felt much the same way had been very comforting. Sure, Millie’s confidence was very attractive, but it was also more than a little scary. It had made her seem like this was something less… intense, like this didn’t matter as much to Millie as it did to Kat. Or maybe Kat was just terrible at reading signals. But getting written confirmation from her date had gone a long way to alleviate her fears. 


When Monday rolled around, she was practically vibrating with positive energy. Even though she knew Dykstra’s class was coming up, she was keeping in good spirits and was completely ready to support her friend regardless of how the Dickstrap was going to treat her. It seemed the teacher had once again decided to focus on April, clearly finding her to be the more pleasant target. He kept asking her questions that were not yet covered by the material, and then chided her for her lack of preparedness, constantly using her boy-name. The lack of respect, the fact that a teacher, an adult in a position of authority was so willing to disregard her wishes, was clearly getting to her, as only halfway through the lesson, Kat could tell she was on the verge of breaking down, her eyes already red. 


When April then shot Violet a look, it took Kat by surprise, for the simple fact that it was such a pained, such an angry look. It clearly hadn’t gone unnoticed to Dykstra, who misinterpreted it completely and switched targets, demanding Violet come up to the board several times over. 


When class was finally over, both of the transformed warlocks were visibly shaking, and by now several students were muttering to each other. Sure, at first, to a lot of them anyway, it had seemed a little funny that these two loud-mouths had gone after each other that way, and having a teacher like Dykstra go after someone else meant he wasn’t coming after you. But many were starting to feel like he was going too far, leaning into bullying. Kat couldn’t agree more, of course, but she was too busy comforting Violet to concern herself with gossip. When Violet went to her room to take a nap again, Kat met up with Millie for lunch. April joined them. Kat didn’t mind. She realized she’d never actually had a conversation with her before, and though she would much prefer to spend the entire lunch break trading witty, blushy banter with Millie, some things could wait. 


“How are you holding up?” Kat asked, sitting down opposite from the two of them. Her leg rested softly against Millie’s under the table, the gentle pressure a reminder of what they had (not that Kat had any idea of what that was, but it was comforting nonetheless). They weren’t ready to talk to Violet and April about the results of their date(s) yet, not while nerves were this raw. 


“Why do you care?” April snapped. Millie nudged her and shot her an unimpressed frown. “Sorry,” April said. “I just… I hate him so much.”


“Violet?” Millie asked. 


“No. I mean… no, I mean Dykstra. I don’t…” She had to take deep breaths to keep herself from crying. Kat could tell she was on the edge of that precipice where a stray thought or a wrong word would have you sobbing and useless for the next thirty minutes. She didn’t envy the poor girl. “It’s just not fair.”


“What’s not fair?” Kat asked. “You keep mentioning something about Violet cheating…”


April looked up at her with teary eyes, seemingly trying to gauge her reaction. “Would you even tell me? You’re on her side, right?”


Kat rubbed her face and tried not to sound too frustrated when she looked the teary-eyed blonde in the eyes. “April, I barely know you, but I can tell you’re hurting. That matters more to me than your stupid bet. No, Violet isn’t cheating, as far as I’m aware. How do you even think she’s cheating?”


April shook her head. “I don’t know. She just… seems to have so much of an easier time of it. I should have turned her into something else. I don’t know why it occurred to me that turning her into a girl would have worked. It’s like… it comes so naturally to her, you know?” Kat raised an eyebrow. That was not the impression she’d gotten herself, but clearly April was just as good at misreading situations as Violet was. Regardless, she stayed quiet to let April speak. “I just… It’s so hard! And it’s so effortless for her!”


“What is?”


“Being a girl! It’s like, she fits into it without trying,” she said wrongly. “I tried to wear a dress last week, to try and get in the right headspace. I’m just… I’m trying. But I felt so fake and gross, and then Violet told me I looked ridiculous and she’s right and I just…” She was interrupted by her own sobbing. Kat resisted the urge to find Violet and yell some sense into her. 


“She was wrong, April,” Kat said. Millie nodded enthusiastically. They’d both seen her in the summer dress. She’d looked stunning. “You looked stunning,” Kat said, hoping to get through to April’s sobbing. “Violet was… I think she was projecting, honestly.”


April looked up confused. “W-what do y-you mean?” She wiped her nose.


“She’s been having just as hard of a time with this as you have, April. If I had to guess, I’d say she was jealous. Of how pretty you are.”


“Jealous? Why would she be jealous?” She paused, and then her face turned sour. “Of course. Just because I’m taller…” She got up, got her phone out and walked off while ignoring Millie and Kat’s exasperated ‘Wait, no’s. They looked at each other and then at the door. 


“Were you ever that dense?” Millie asked.


Kat shook her head. “No, and I can be really dense.”


Millie grinned like a Cheshire cat, and reached across the table to squeeze Kat’s hand. “Yeah, you can. But you look really cute doing it.”


“H-hey!” Kat blushed. “Don’t you… Hrmpf,” she grumbled playfully, and then got up. “Come on, let’s keep these two turnips from killing each other.”


Millie got up too, but faked a frown. “Five more minutes?”


Kat pulled her in close and gave her a very quick smooch, not really caring who else in the cafeteria could see them. “Later.”


“Yay!” Millie said with exaggerated jubilation as they went outside, looking for their two dumbasses. It didn’t take long to find them. Like last time, it was a matter of following the screaming. 


Kat and Millie came up on the pair. Instead of looking like they were about to start scratching each other’s eyes out, Violet and April yelled at each other from a short distance, both of them already having their grimoires out. They meant business. As all rules went for schoolyard fights, nobody was going to involve teachers. In fact, several students were already weaving charms that would obscure the fight, and whatever noises might come from it, from outside observers, creating a shimmering dome around the two combatants. 


“We should do something,” Kat said.


“I don’t know,” Millie said. “I don’t think either of them is really competent enough to hurt the other. And, you know, worst case scenario, half of the kids here study some form of Restoration.”


“True, true,” Kat said, and decided to, like Millie, stay as an observer for now. She might still intervene later, she figured, but for now, maybe it was best to let this play out. It had been building up for almost three weeks, and these two had some issues to work out. 


“I can’t believe you think I’m… I’m envious of you!” Violet screamed. She was holding up a magical barrier. As good as April was at destructive magic -- which was better than Violet -- Violet was just as good at defending herself. As if to prove the point, a fireball fizzled out against the shield.


“Of course you are! You’ve wanted what I had for so long and now you’re mad at me just because you think I’m… I’m pretty!” April shouted back, hurling fireball after fireball at the shield to no real effect, though the impressive fireworks display did elicit some ooh’s and aah’s from the gathered audience.


“I… I don’t,” Violet began. “Of course I think you’re pretty! I… Look at you! But that’s not… I mean you’ve always been… Shut up!” No longer wanting to be on the back foot, Violet pulled some of the cobblestones out of the ground with a wave of telekinesis, and sent them hurtling at April, who blasted them out of the air with beams of heat. 


“And now you’re lying on top of cheating!” she said as she walked closer, trading fireballs for the incoming stones, neither of them getting through to each other. “You… Being like this is so easy for you! And then you… you have the gall to be mad at me. I can’t even look in the mirror without feeling like a fraud! You cheated!


Violet was crying now, confused, scared and angry, and Kat was wondering if she should step forward, but decided against it. She looked at Millie, who was a lot more relaxed. 


“You know, the way she’s throwing that stone, maybe April should have called her Violent Rose,” Millie said with a smirk.


“Boo,” Kat responded. “That’s terrible.”


“True. And, yknow, April May still win.” 


“Oh my god.” 


“They’ll be fine, Kat. I think this is going to be a good thing.”


“I hope so,” Kat said, trusting Millie, and her best friend. She looked at the girl and couldn’t help but lose focus for a second. She saw Millie in a new light, now that she knew what she looked like up real close, what she felt like to kiss. Her breath caught in her throat. She was pulled from her reverie when Millie pointed.


“Does Violet know how to use a sword?” she asked nonchalantly. 


“Uh,” Kat said. “No. Does April?”


“Not even a little bit,” Millie replied. “This’ll be interesting.”


The two lady warlocks had both given up the attempt at defeating each other with magic, too well matched for each other, and had summoned large, ethereal swords. Violet seemed to currently have the upper hand, if only because she was relentlessly attacking April over and over again. The other girl could only hold up her sword to try and deflect the uncoordinated strikes. 


“Why. Can’t. You. Just. Let. Me. Have. This?” Violet cried out, every word accentuated by a slash from her sword. She paused for a moment, clearly out of breath, and April used the break to return the attack. Violet only barely managed to raise her own weapon in time, and Kat gasped as she briefly imagined her friend getting skewered. But clearly, in this too, they were basically equals. Equally inept. April failed a swing and left an opening, which Violet looked like she was about to take advantage of. Seemingly changing her mind at the last moment, she spun with a beautiful lack of elegance, which got her awkwardly kicked in the shin and pushed back on the defensive.


“None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for you!” April yelled. “And you just… You look so good and so right and then you have the audacity to… to be envious of me!


Violet deflected the blade and they clashed in the middle, their faces pressed close together. Neither of them had the rage on their faces they’d started the fight with. Both of them wore a mask of anguish, of pain and tears. “I just… Why do you… I just… Stop being better than me! I’m… Gah!” She clearly had a lot of trouble keeping herself together as tears streaked down her cheeks. “I’m good enough!”


“I… What did I do to you?” April said. Kat could tell that both of them were running out of energy. The strength drained from their pose with every passing second. “I just wanted to be… and now you showed me this… and it’s hard and I don’t… I don’t understand… You could have just left me alone and I… I never would have felt like this!”


“I just… You look… I just wanted to…” Violet began, but she was out of words and her sword began to drop, not out of defeat but simply because she didn’t have the strength to keep the weapon raised anymore.


“You were good enough without me, you idiot,” April said, lowering her weapon too, clearly enough strength to be angry. She leaned in close to Violet, their foreheads almost touching. “And now you get to be beautiful and it’s so effortless and I wish I could just be like --” 


April had tried to stop herself, but it was too late. She’d said the quiet thing out loud. The two of them stood there, panting, barely catching their breath, and then Violet looked at her, their noses an inch away from each other, and a look of understanding washed over her. 


“Y-- I-- Wh--” Violet stammered. 




“You too?”


“Oh,” April said.


There was a silence for a moment as everyone inside the dome seemed to hold their breath.


“Hey Kat?” Millie asked.


“Yeah?” Kat replied.


“Are they kissing?”


“I think so.”


“I’m confused.”


“I feel like I shouldn’t be.”


April had grabbed Violet by her stupid, cute face and kissed her. They stood in the middle of a circle of students, many of whom were going ‘Awwww’. Many others just gawked, dumbfounded and confused, while April and Violet cried and kissed. 


“I guess it’s a draw,” Millie said, and took Kat’s hand in her own. 


“Yeah,” Kat said. “And you were right.”




Kat looked at her best friend who looked up at April, currently wiping the taller girl’s tears while trying to blink away her own, and saw that both of them had gone through something real and come out the other side with… each other, perhaps. “They’ll be alright.”

Delightful little idiots. 

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Oh! I want to start making some recommendations, because us writers gotta look out for each other. 

  • You should check out First Song, by Sophine. It's really cool and well written, and if you've read Penumbral and enjoyed it then you should definitely have a look, because it does a lot of the same things but better! 
  • Streamer by Lotussan was updated and you should absolutely read it. One of my favourite stories by one of my favourite authors on here <3 
  • Take A Wish by Quintillianus is very good trans feels. It takes a little bit to get going, but it's really powerful and I whole-heartedly recommend it.

I also want to point people at the discord server of the ever-prolific QuietValerie (right here) where you can find her wonderful stories, like Ryn of Avonside, Falling Over and The Trouble With horns, as well as other authors' works, and talk about them with fellow fans, and even the authors themselves! I heartily recommend joining it and reading their works! 

Thanks again for reading, and I'll see you all in the next one. 

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