Mina looked out over the graveyard, the sky was gray and the wind moved through the trees with an otherworldly whisper. Pulling up the collar of her jacket, she tried to ward off the cold and push away all thoughts of Adam. For all she cared, Adam was dead, dead to her world and dead to her. As she continued to look at her parents’ weathered gravestones Mina, thought back to her childhood before Adam.
Mina knew of her curse, the magic she gained from being born into the Craven family was not a common dose. Though many viewed her position as a gift, Mina saw it only as a curse. After her parents’ deaths, Mina was brought to her Aunt Alicia and Uncle Albert in Washington. She could remember even today, what it was like stepping out of her Uncle Albert’s black car and staring up at the old house; the house came to mind, when you thought of that strange family who lived across the street. You know that family, every good neighborhood has one, the family that always has a black cat on the lawn and crows in every tree. This was precisely that house, right down to the gargoyle doorknocker; only this house was full of love and happiness all the time. Mina’s aunt was a highly accomplished witch and rightly, so, being the sister to Mina’s departed mother had garnered much appreciation, if not a fair dose of hero worship from many of the other magical families in the community. And what talent Aunt Alicia had for magic, she far surpassed in her loving, kind, and attentive ways. From the day Mina looked up at the old three story white house, she knew life would be different. She just never realized how different that would be.
Not long after her arrival, she began her schooling in the magical arts along with her twin cousins Caspian and Chalice. Each day was filled with new experiences, and soon Mina’s withdrawn demeanor began to fade a bit. She found that she was very good at mixing potions; even the uncommon ones Uncle Albert tinkered with were a snap for her.
It was one year later, after having spent much of her time in study with her cousins that she stood in front of the mirror as her aunt finished tying her long mahogany curls back with a crisp white ribbon. Today would be the day that she and her cousin Chalice would receive their familiars. Caspian had received his the year before and had become the envy of his sister and cousin. Caspian spent nearly all of his time with his familiar, Scythe. As always, Scythe was no ordinary python at all, he was part human. This was not much of a surprise, as the children were used to having Aunt Alicia’s familiar Maven and Uncle Albert’s familiar Norwood around. The two owls were always chattering and arguing about all their marital problems late into the night. And as you would expect, Maven and Norwood could be found snoozing the days away on the porch or in the library with Uncle Albert.
Now most people think of the familiar as a spirit that becomes attached to the witch to do his or her biding at all times. That, however as with many superstitions, simply is not true at all. The familiar is a complex magical being that is not entirely human, but not entirely animal either. This mixture gives the familiar the ability to stay in one form for very long periods of time, but not indefinitely. He or she must revert back to animal form before the first full moon of the season. Not only can the familiar not retain human form indefinitely but he or she will always maintain characteristics of his or her animal form.
The familiar is meant to be the constant companion to his owner. And it was that realization that brought Mina the most joy. On that day, Mina would finally have that companion, the true friend she longed for every time she saw Caspian with Scythe.
When both she and Chalice were dressed in their white ceremony dresses, they followed Aunt Alicia down the old creaky stairs to the salon where all their relatives waited to see them. The familiar ceremony was cause for great celebration in each family and any relation no matter how distant loved to be there. In the middle of the room sat a beautiful wooden box, no bigger than three feet wide and three feet tall covered in ancient runes. After the family gave each girl their blessings, Mina walked to the box, closed her eyes, and said the ancient words. As she finished the invocation, Mina leaned over and looked inside, hoping against hope that the spell actually worked. Sitting in the midst of the wooden box was a black and white kitten. He was black from the top of his head to the tip of his tail save the little white triangle on his chest and little white paws. When she reached down and picked him up, she felt the magical bond form between them and smiled.
Mina was nearly overcome when she realized that holding this kitten meant holding what would soon become the best friend she so desperately longed for. No more nights of feeling alone, no more days of wondering if there was someone who cared about what she thought, or what she felt. Here he was, her best friend, fashioned just for her and bonded with her forever. Mina felt like a little piece of her puzzle was now complete.
The family applauded her as she turned and walked over to stand next to Caspian and Scythe, both boys clapping enthusiastically. When Chalice’s turn came, she reached into the box and pulled out a solid white ferret. Another round of applause erupted through the room, and Chalice smiled demurely. At the end of the ceremony, Mina and Chalice gave their familiars a name and Aunt Alicia bound their magic together. They were told that no witch could use the full extent of his magic without the presence of his familiar.
Uncle Albert stepped forward his old ebony wand gripped in his left hand. “Now remember, you have now entered the second stage of your magical growth. Your powers become stronger as your bond becomes stronger to your familiar servant.”
Mina and Chalice both nodded, wide eyed with enthusiasm. Both girls were determined to be the best witches they could be.
“Welcome Helix the cat and Berlioz the ferret.” Aunt Alicia announced. It was not too long after, however, that Helix given his appearance became Tux for short.
Mina managed to gain a wonderful friend that day and an affinity for magic she never had before. But, she never truly applied herself until she met Adam. Adam was the nephew of some distant relation who had been orphaned and sent to Aunt Alicia for his training like Caspian, Chalice and Mina. He came one rainy evening carrying a small suitcase and backpack, with a Siamese cat curled around his neck.
Adam and Mina became attached immediately, finding in one another a kindred spirit. Both had been orphaned, and both felt that special connection knowing what it felt like to be left alone in the world. As they grew up, many noticed that the attachment between Mina and Adam was becoming more than just a little serious. They dated all through high school, until Mina turned eighteen.
On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Adam told her that he had decided to seek revenge on the warlock who killed his parents. This choice meant that Adam would have to use his magic for evil purposes. Knowing that in order for Adam to use his wand for dark magic, it would require the sacrifice of an innocent life, Mina was devastated. That night Adam disappeared. The selfishness of Adam’s choice tore at Mina’s soul and as she stood motionless in the garden watching Adam’s retreating shadow, her life suddenly felt empty, wasted, and destroyed.
Heart broken, Mina turned from her place in front of the tombstones, hating that her thoughts returned once again to Adam. Ignoring Helix, Mina walked back to her car and headed home. Without a word to anyone in her family, Mina walked past Aunt Alicia in a daze, she packed everything she could fit into her el Camino, grabbed Helix and drove north. She drove until she could not drive anymore, until her eyes were bloodshot from crying, and her fingers numb from gripping the steering wheel. Stopping in a small town on the coast called Stars Hollow, Mina gave up. Stars Hollow was about an hour or so south of Alaska, secluded and rainy almost year round. It was perfect considering how heartbroken she was.
Mina rented one of two small apartments above a storefront downtown, and managed to move in and unpack all of her things in a few hours. A few days later she rented out the storefront below and started to do the only thing she knew how to do, she began to make potions. Not ordinary potions, but soaps, and shampoos, lotions, and perfumes, remedies and sachets laced with the tiniest bits of magic. With Helix to help her, she painted the shop, and fixed the shelves, cleaning and decorating, pouring all her energy into the endeavor trying to push all thoughts of Adam away. She went to a glassmaker and ordered dozens of bottles and jars to fill with her concoctions. She filled the jars and Helix designed the labels, sticking them to each bottle, and jar.
The store flourished and before she realized it, two years passed. Nevertheless, Mina was still lonely; there was still a void that even Helix could not fill for her. He was her best friend, but her love for him was a different kind of love.
On her twenty-first birthday, in a fit of sadness she pulled out her mother’s spell book and went to the balcony. Once she located her mixing bowl, hiding under a couple of herbs she had meant to plant, she dusted it out and prepared the spell. She pulled several red rose petals from one of her bushes, some petals from her blue coneflowers, leaves from mint, and several petals from her black rose bush. She opened up the spell she remembered seeing as a little girl and recited the words stirring the petals with the tip of her right finger.
“Lost in the night, I seek thee. Here are the petals of my love, an offering for thee. Come and fill the void I cannot fill on my own. Whithersoever thou art, let no sea or mountain keep thee from my side. Come, my love, come on the wings of night swift as an eagle.” Mina poured a vial of icy spring water on the mixture and stirred it with her fingertips trying to scry the face of her true love, whomever he maybe, but nothing happened.
“That’s strange, I’ve always been able to scry the faces of others.” Mina murmured.
“What’s strange?” Tux asked as he walked out onto the balcony in a pair of flannel pants with a towel on his head.
“Nothing.” Mina mumbled. “Aren’t cats supposed to hate water?”
“I, madam, am not any ordinary cat by any means.” He told her. Mina shook her head, gasping when he tossed the soggy towel on her head and changed back into a cat to curl up in her lap.
“Do you think I’m going to find anyone to love me?” she asked Tux. Tux got up and rubbed himself against her stomach affectionately, before giving an encouraging yowl and flopping down comfortably in her lap once more.