Monday 8th August
Today was so exciting ... yet so dramatic. It started off okay, but then ... well, Timothy and I had another argument. I hope these don't become a common feature of our relationship. I love him so, but my heart will break if we can't stop infuriating each other. At least the night ended beautifully.
I woke up, yawned, stretched and smiled. I should have smiled yesterday because it was the night before that day that Timothy and I become officially a couple, but Leanne had woken me up to tell me about the stray cat so I'd been more confused than happy.
The stray cat was lying on my bed, purring as if it couldn't be happier. I really didn't blame it.
"Morning Tim'thy," I called. My speech wasn't slurred by sleepiness today, I was just feeling affectionate. I reached over and ruffled the fur on his head.
Heya Tani. Wait a few seconds for me to wake up properly.
In my happy mood, I ignored him and picked him up. I held him cradled in my arms and began to stroke him as if he were a real cat.
Tani, let go. I am not a cat.
‘Ah, but you like this don't you?' I asked, scratching him behind his ear.
That's besides the point...
‘Ha! You admitted it.'
Tani, you can't treat me like a cat!
Because I'm still your boyfriend. Would you pet me if I was in human form?
‘Oh... I don't know...'
I doubt you would. We're meant to be on an equal level. How would you like it if I, say, put a collar round your neck or put your food in a bowl on the floor? You'd feel dehumanised, inferior and incredibly resentful.
‘Is that how you feel now?'
Not exactly, because the cat part of me is enjoying itself. But that doesn't justify it. I'm still Timothy Foxtail, the 23 year old witch and I don't appreciate being treated as a pet.
I let go, but kept my hand on his fur so I could keep taking to him. ‘I'm sorry. Are you angry?'
‘A little,' he replied truthfully. ‘But you didn't think it could do harm so I suppose you can't be blamed for your actions.'
‘Why did you let me stroke you yesterday?'
You didn't pick me up. It would be natural for a human to stroke the other's back, so I didn't mind. Also, it was physical contact for the telepathic link. If you want to communicate with me telepathically in future, just rest your hand on my fur. Anything more than that is unnecessary.
‘Sorry,' I apologised again.
Don't worry. I'm more annoyed than I usually would be because I have a short temper in the morning.
‘Shorter than it usually is? That can't be possible,' I teased.
Very funny. Now, can I make you breakfast?
‘You'd really do that for me?'
Tani, I'm your kingfisher. I'd do anything for you.
‘Okay, I'll have a bacon sandwich with orange juice.'
‘Hmm... there's something I've forgotten... Oh, yes! And a kiss.'
I heard a chuckle in my mind. Oh, you are funny, Tani.
After breakfasting, showering and dressing - Timothy went home to get ready himself - Timothy drove me to Lily's. The three of us and her younger brother were going to the Phase-Change ceremony together. It started at lunchtime to be convenient for witches with young children but went on late into the night.
When Timothy arrived to pick me up, he was wearing a black suit with a white shirt underneath his blazer and a predominantly red tie decorated with a tongue of flame. He looked quite handsome but I reckoned he'd look good in anything.
Felix was wearing a cream coloured suit with embroidered red outlines of flames upon the pockets and matching tie. Lily was wearing an orange cotton skirt under a matching blouse. There were pretty sequins on both the articles of clothing, in red, orange and yellow. She'd even had the blouse customised with a black ‘L' at the base of the skirt. Her long blonde hair hung down in waves while I'd pinned my considerably shorter black hair up with red pins to match my dress.
Felix looked slightly uncomfortable as he climbed into the back where Lily and I were sitting next to each other. He kept casting glances at Timothy as if afraid he was going to eat him.
"So," I said to Lily, "what's happening tonight?"
Lily talked animatedly and chattily, obviously excited about the event we were going to.
"Well, basically, we're going to celebrate the fact that fire will be more powerful in the magic we perform. The ceremony will start with burning some plants, to show the end of the Nature phase, and then there might be some fireworks. There'll be food and dancing - slow dances, mind you; it's more of a formal event than a disco - and a couple of potions will be concocted using fire and some spells involving fire will be cast. There might even be a dragon..."
"A dragon?!" I asked in alarm.
"I wouldn't worry too much - they're just witches who can turn into a dragon as well as a cat, raven and wolf. Anyway, the dragon will breathe fire over the birthstones of the people who are born in the Fire phase to make them stronger and then the dancing and chatting will go on while live music plays until everyone's gone home."
"Do you know anybody born in the Fire phase?
Lily gave me a strange look. In the rearview mirror, I could see Timothy fighting a smile.
"Didn't you know?"
"Know what?" I asked, confused.
"What about him?"
"He was born in the Fire phase. I thought he'd have told you."
I shook my head. "I didn't know that. I only knew his birthday was in September. When does the Fire phase end?"
"Ah. And it's the same each year?"
Lily nodded. "The only time there's any sort of change is in a leap year, when the Air phase is a little longer."
"What phases were you two born in?" I asked, extending the question to Felix as well.
"Well, I was born in Air, on 12th January," Lily replied, "and Felix was born in Water..."
"On 1st December," Felix finished.
I smiled. "So, what phase is my birthday in?"
"Air," Lily replied. "The witches might give you foxglove to celebrate a human's presence at next year's Phase-Change ceremony if you pass your cornelian through swirling winds."
"That would be nice of them."
"Hardly," Felix snorted.
Lily elbowed Felix. "No! You can't say that to her."
He looked slightly pained. "But, otherwise, what I said sounds a bit harsh and unfair..."
"What are you talking about?" I asked, mystified.
"I was going to justify my comment with something Lily considers inappropriate," Felix answered.
"It was inappropriate."
"What were you going to say?" I asked him.
"I was going to say it would hardly be especially nice of witches to give you foxglove because you deserve so much more niceness as a girl with a beautiful soul."
I blushed, touched but slightly embarrassed. "Um, thank you, Felix."
"See," Felix said to Lily. "She didn't mind."
Lily rolled her eyes. "She's cringing inside. You're being too flattering."
Felix's brow furrowed. "But, it's the truth. I thought Timothy would have told her how her care for others and tender, loving nature is like a beacon shining behind all the thoughts in her mind and illuminating the pleasant things in each..."
"Oh my goodness, shut up!" I interrupted, overwhelmed by his compliment, shocked by how bold and uninhibited he was and also uncomfortable that he'd know what the inside of my mind was like. Not even I had analysed myself in that detail.
"And that," Timothy said, startling us all, "is why I don't tell her."
Felix looked annoyed. "She is way too good for you, Foxtail. You should always tell a girl how wonderful they are."
"He does; just not the way you did," I choked out, still trying to settle the internal chaos I was experiencing.
"I'm sorry," Felix said, looking truly sincere.
"I should hope so," I said, wanting to slap him but also wanting to kiss him. "Do you have no self-restraint? Are you purely impulsive? Do you like causing massive shock waves to reverberate through everyone you like?"
Felix looked sad. "I just tell it how it is. It's the way I am."
"Well, then I'm very glad you haven't encountered anyone you openly hate. A dangerous enemy could rip you apart in seconds for ‘telling it how it is'."
Thankfully, Felix kept his mouth shut for the rest of the journey. The silence was a blessed relief from the feelings of awkwardness and discomfort, but it was slightly unnerving to watch Lily glare at Felix as she was obviously telling him off with her thoughts.
It was midday exactly when we arrived at the edge of a large field where we were directed by people in fluorescent jackets to an area of gravel where several other cars were parked.