Friday rolled around like an uninvited guest, texting only to let you know that they were definitely showing up. Kat could pick up on April and Violet’s discomfort easily, but she still didn’t really grasp why they were both so upset about the thought of the bet ending. It wasn’t until they’d made plans to meet at Millie’s house after classes -- it was closest to school -- that she had a vague idea. She realized during lunch, when she caught Violet staring wistfully at April. At least Vi had the good sense to blush furiously when Kat nudged her. That’s when it occurred to Kat that it was entirely possible that Violet was scared for their relationship. That maybe what had worked between April and Violet as girls wouldn’t work between them as Roland and Mark. That Violet was scared April wouldn’t like her anymore, and vice versa.
As the bell rang, signifying the start of the weekend, she could tell that Violet was visibly shaking from time to time, her breathing shallow and uneven. April wasn’t doing much better, even with Millie nudging her and trying to keep her distracted as they walked down the street on the way to Millie’s place. Her parents would be out for the weekend and had approved a sleepover.
“Your parents are… very chill, Mills,” Kat said, hooking her arm through Millie’s. She wasn’t trying to pry, not really, but she was a little worried that the girl she’d been starting to think of as her girlfriend might have been, well, neglected. Millie shrugged.
“They work a lot, especially on weekends, so they’re okay with me having people over so long as I make sure everything is clean by Monday.” Millie looked at her, and caught the look. “You’re cute when you fuss over me, Kat,” she said, and kissed her on the nose before she could object.
“That’s gay,” April said with a snicker from behind them. Kat looked behind her and stuck out her tongue.
“You’re one to talk,” Millie said with a wide grin. The joke didn’t seem to land as well as she wanted to. Violet hadn’t registered it, but April clamped her mouth shut at Millie’s words. Kat and Millie shared a glance, but decided not to press the issue, as they crossed the street to Millie’s house.
Once inside, everyone threw their backpacks in the corner. Studying was for later, today was Friday. While, sure, that meant no homework, usually that also meant relaxing. But Kat knew neither Violet nor April wouldn’t be relaxing any time soon. They both looked like they were dying of nerves, and Kat wanted to just scoop them both up in hugs and tell them it was going to be okay. Realizing that there wasn’t anything actually stopping her from doing so, she did. April breathed deeply, and Violet made a noise that could have been a sob, but could also be easily denied and claimed to be a hiccup. Millie went into the kitchen to make tea.
Kat and Millie sat down on the sofa in the living room, while April and Violet stood opposite each other. The trepidation was palpable. Their hands, both holding their grimoires, were shaking, though both seemed to be trying -- badly -- to hide that fact.
“So,” Violet said.
“So,” April agreed.
“It looks like you managed to last the whole month, huh?”
“You did too.”
“So I guess we call it a draw,” April said.
“I guess so,” Violet said.
“So do we want to dispel the magic at the same time?”
“If you think that’s best,” Violet mumbled. Kat felt like they were playing for time. They might well have been. Or it could have just been nerves. Whatever it was, it was infectious. There was a pit in her stomach, and while she wanted to say something to reassure them both, she couldn’t find any words that would feel right. She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what they needed to hear.
Violet and April both opened their tomes and took a deep breath, looking each other in the eye. Kat and Millie had looked over their written spells, making sure the results wouldn’t be as violently explosive as they had been the first time around. They’d cleaned up a stray syllable here, a squiggly line there. Violet’s fragile voice cracked as she began to cant the words, and April was on the verge of tears as she spoke the magic into being. Violet’s red and purple clashed with April’s blue and green, and then they both relaxed and the magic flowed past any barriers they had, and flowed around and into them. Kat was sure she saw tears on both their faces as their bodies were engulfed in a white light as they seemed to glow from the inside.
When the magic subsided, they were both standing in the same spot they had been before. Violet was only a little bit taller than she had been just before, and her hair was a little longer than it had been a month ago, but her features were undeniably masculine. The same went for April, who was no longer a leggy blonde but tall, athletic, a handsome face with strong cheekbones. Both of them looked miserable. They both looked at each other while the clock in the room slowly ticked away the seconds. Neither of them looked away from the other for a second.
“D-- I need…” April began.
“I -- You --” Violet tried to say, and then both of them burst into tears. Kat and Millie looked back and forth between them. Kat felt like her fears had been realized. It seemed obvious that Violet and April -- or rather, Mark and Roland, she corrected herself -- couldn’t imagine themselves in a relationship with the other. Millie, however, seemed to be a bit more relaxed.
“Do you want to…” Mark began, and didn’t have to say anything more. Roland nodded vigorously. Before Kat could say anything, ask them any questions, they both immediately began to chant again, casting magic at each other. Swirling colours appeared in the air above and around them as they said the words quickly but carefully, making sure not to miss a single word, not to mispronounce anything. But as they spoke, Kat saw the energy flicker in and out of sight, and both spells fizzled out into nothing.
Roland was the first to notice, and tears began rolling down his face. He immediately started over again, and again the magic began to take shape and then faded away. He turned to Millie as if demanding an answer. Mark soon joined him.
“It’s not working,” Mark said. “Why isn’t it working?!”
Millie sighed and hugged her knees. She still seemed a little unbothered to Kat. “You’ve been keeping each others’ quote-unquote ‘curses’ up for a whole month,” she said, miming quotation marks to emphasize her point, “and it takes a lot of energy to cast something like this. You’re probably just drained.”
“But--But--” Mark began and then looked at Roland. “I don’t want to… I can’t…”
“I’m so sorry,” Roland sobbed. “I’m not… I can’t be…”
Millie looked between the two of them intently, as if she was watching a game of chess being played.
“I was pretty,” Mark said with the smallest possible voice. Tears rolled down his cheeks. “I was Violet.” Roland looked at Millie, who shot back a glance that Kat couldn’t read. But it looked like Roland could.
April turned back. “You still are,” she said. Before the other could respond and ask what she meant, April gently took Violet’s face in her hands and kissed her. Millie exhaled like she’d been holding her breath the entire time. Kat frowned, not understanding. Millie just wrapped her arm around Kat.
“I don’t get it,” Kat said quietly.
“Just watch,” she whispered, as April and Violet kissed softly. They were both whispering ‘I’m sorry’s to each other and then chiding the other for apologizing.
“I think I love you, April,” Violet said softly.
“I love you too, Violet,” April returned. Both of them hearing each other say their name sent them crying again.
“Even when I look like--”
“I don’t give a fuck what you look like,” April said. “We’ll figure something out.”
“Cough,” Millie said. She even held her hand in front of her mouth like that hadn’t just been the most telegraphed fake cough ever elicited by a person. April and Violet both turned to her, their faces wet with tears. “I’m pretty sure,” Millie said, “Kat and I can redo those spells for you while we figure out a way to make things permanent.” The two girls looked at them with wide eyes, like it hadn’t even occurred to them. “Now, unless you want to wait, say, a week, for your reserves to build back up so you can do the spells yourselves and risk blowing yourselves up, let a couple of witches do it for you, okay?”
“-kay,” April squeaked and took a step back as Millie hopped out of the couch and pulled Kat upright.
“I still don’t get it,” Kat said. Millie kissed her on the nose with a smile.
“Kat,” Millie said, “I’d like you to meet April and Violet.” Kat frowned and looked back and forth between them. Realization was beginning to dawn. Millie pushed a little more. “Your best friend and mine are Violet and April, regardless of what they look like.”
“Oh!” Kat said, her face splitting in a wide smile. It had taken her a good minute, but she was finally arriving at the right conclusion.
Millie grinned. “There it is.” She turned to the others. “Alright, step apart, you two. Kat, you take on Violet, I’ll do April. Shouldn’t be too hard, they did all the prep work.” She stuck out her hand to April’s grimoire. “Gimme.” April sheepishly handed her the book, then reached over to Violet, and squeezed her hand. The two girls smiled at each other for a moment, before stepping several feet apart. Millie looked at the book for a moment, and then at Kat, who was similarly leafing through the tome she’d gotten from Violet, and they swapped books.
Kat and Millie both began chanting. Warlock magic was different from their witchcraft, but both of them were accomplished magic users regardless, and with their help, April and Violet’s spells had been prepared to perfection. It wasn’t long before brightly coloured rainbows of pure ethereal light swirled around them, then flowed from them into the other two girls. Again, they seemed to shine from the inside. There was a sound. There was the absence of a sound, like not just every person, but everything held its breath for a moment. Then there was another sound, like a thunderclap but very small, and Violet and April stood in the exact same spot. April ran her hands through her long, blonde hair, touched her face with an incredulous smile. Violet honked one of her own boobs.
“It worked!” Violet said with elation.
“Well, duh,” Millie said smugly, but it fell on deaf ears as April and Violet wrapped themselves around each other, smothering each other in kisses as they were both hit by waves of euphoria. After a few seconds, they fell over on top of each other on the sofa.
“I think we should give them some space,” Kat said.
“This is my house,” Millie protested. Kat just interlaced her fingers with Millie’s, and pulled her away.
“Thank you!” Violet and April both managed, before turning their attention to each other again, mumbling little declarations of love at each other in between kisses.
Millie rolled her eyes playfully, and was about to say something glib, when Kat dragged her out of the room, closed the door and kissed her. “You did good,” Kat said. “I wouldn’t have figured them out. You’re amazing.” Before Millie could say anything back, Kat barreled on. “You’re amazing, and I love you,” she said, and Millie’s brain switched from wisecrack to gay mode, barely able to mumble a ‘same’ before they both lost themselves in each other.