Rectification @lumity
Chapter 15

Just as Amity was about to lean in and kiss Luz for a third time, a voice from the doorway interrupted her.

“Amity, you have to go back to your room. You haven’t been permitted to leave yet.”

Amity spun around and stared at the ground in front of the nurse who had entered. Had they seen anything? Now wouldn’t that be a fate worse than being burned alive? “Yeah- well-” she sputtered.

The nurse raised an eyebrow.

“Fine, I’ll go.” Amity touched Luz’s shoulder briefly. “Let’s… let’s talk later,” she suggested.

Luz smiled. “Okay.”

Amity followed the nurse back to her own room, sparing one last forlorn glance over her shoulder at Luz, whose eyes had widened in astonishment and was raising one hand to touch her lips.

When she was back in her own bed in her own empty room, Amity’s mind began to race.

Luz likes me back.

She pictured the desperate expression on Luz’s soft features as she’d pulled away from their first kiss.

She never would have guessed on her own. All of Luz’s friendliness had seemingly portrayed nothing but platonic feelings. She supposed it had helped that she and Luz had started off as friends here- in the other timeline, Luz never would have felt anything romantic towards her, not after they’d been poised as rivals for so long. But now it was true. The shadows in the corners of her mind could protest all they wanted, tell her that it was only trauma and confusion that had pushed Luz to kiss her, but she knew that the look in Luz’s eyes told a different story.

I don’t need to be scared anymore. 

Amity said the words to herself silently, and then repeated them out loud.

“I don’t need to be scared anymore.”

Grom has lost. The Isles are safe.

“Who are you talking to?”

Amity jumped, then scowled when she saw Boscha leaning against the wall just next to the door. “What are you doing here?”

“Same as you, I guess.” Boscha looked down to distractedly admire her nails. “Sneaking into closed hospital rooms to make out with their occupants.”

Amity’s face went beet red. “We didn’t- how did you know- we only kissed twice-” she sputtered.

“Wait, really?” Boscha’s three eyes stretched wide in surprise. “I was actually only guessing. That’s hilarious, though. I mean, it explains why you’ve been sitting here for the past few minutes staring at the wall and blushing like a tomato.”

“You’ve been spying on me?”

“I guess you can say that. But you’re just  sofunny.”

“Get out of my room.” Amity pointed stiffly to the door. “Now.”

Boscha groaned. “Alright, fiiine. But you might want to know that Willow’s asking for you. I wasn’t going to tell you to go see her, but if you’re strong enough to make it to Luz’s room I’m sure you can make it to the only room that’s closer. Even if Willow isn’t your girlfriend.”

Amity narrowed her eyes. “How do you know Willow wants me?”

“Duh. I was visiting her and telling her that just because I saved her life doesn’t mean I owe her any more kindnesses in the future,” Boscha replied matter of factly. “You know, I think she might have concussed herself when you guys were trapped in the school.”

“Isn’t that what everyone thinks.”

“It was crazy,” Boscha went on as if Amity hadn’t spoken. “She had no idea who I was. And I’ve made sure she could never forget me.”

Amity rolled her eyes. 

“Anyway, I’ve got to go. I’m almost late for a sleepover with my friends, who, by the way, are completely uninjured because they were smart enough to get out of the burning school as soon as they smelled smoke. Toodles!” the potions witch said cheerfully, and slipped into the hallway before Amity could get a word in edgewise.

Amity slipped out of the bed and limped to the door. “Boscha, wait.”

Boscha, who was only a few feet away from the exit stairwell, paused and turned. “You’re coming with me.” Amity tried to sound more confident than she sounded. “You're going to apologize to Willow.”

“Apologize?” Boscha crossed her arms. “What for?”

“Uh, I don’t know, maybe the fact that you’ve made her freshman year a living hell, and you’ve been tormenting her since we were eight, not to mention-”

“She’s a dork. She deserves it.”

Amity’s lips quirked into an ironic smile. “That’s not what you used to think.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just come with me. An apology might not make her forgive you- in fact, I don’t think it even should- but maybe you’ll get something out of it.”

Boscha snorted. “Thanks, but no thanks. I have plans tonight for the most epic First Day of Second Semester party ever. And you’re not invited.”

“I’ll tell the whole school about the eighth grade Grudgby semifinals.”

“Ugh, you’re so annoying!” Boscha kicked at the ground with one foot in frustration. “Fine, I’ll go with you. But only for a moment. And you’d better not say anything about the semifinals to a soul. 

“Sounds good to me,” Amity said, shrugging.

Feeling slightly smug- it had been awfully clever to use the semifinal incident as a bargaining point- Amity led Boscha into the room she guessed was Willow’s, since it was the one between her’s and Luz’s. Willow was on her bed, splayed out on her back, peacefully snoozing and clutching her thin pillow to her chest. Amity was glad that Willow was already asleep. That would make this whole process much easier.

She just hoped she could remember what she’d seen Eda do to cast the spell.

Boscha cast a sidelong glance at Amity. “What do you want me to say? She’s asleep. Are you going to wake her up?”

“We’re not going to wake her up.”

“Then what’s the point of apologizing?”

“You’re not apologizing out here.” Amity drew a wide spell circle around the two of them. It took a bit of concentration- due to her recovery zapping a good bit of her magical energy- to get it right, but she managed it, and as soon as pale pink light began to rise up around them, she knew she'd done it perfectly.

Boscha opened her mouth to ask another question, but the two witches were zapped into nothingness, and the light disappeared.

Amity opened her eyes to find herself in a familiar forest glade. Trees lined a long grassy path on either side of them, each adorned with a grayscale picture frame. Just like last time, she could see burns in the very fabric of Willow’s mind.

“What did you do?” Boscha shrieked. She turned in a frantic circle, analyzing their surroundings. “Where are we?”

“We’re inside Willow’s mind,” Amity replied proudly. She was astonished that she’d actually pulled off the spell after seeing it performed only once, by the most skilled witch on the Isles no less.

“WHAT?”

Amity gestured to the nearest photo, a picture of much younger Amity, Willow, and Boscha standing at the top of Hexside’s elementary playground. “Before you freak out and destroy something, let me explain. These pictures are Willow’s memories. Physical copies of them that she must have created in photo class- though I thought she wasn’t going to be doing that project until tomorrow, but whatever- were probably burned in the fire, and if memory photos are burned, the memory is damaged in the witch’s mind, too. And we’re here to fix them.”

“Why is that our job?” Boscha scoffed. 

“Because I’m the only person other than Eda the Owl Lady who knows how to do it.” Amity poked Boscha’s arm. “And you owe Willow an apology. Don’t worry- I promise you she can hear you from in here.” 

“This is really weird and I don’t trust you, but whatever. How do we fix her stupid memories so we can leave?”

“Fixing the memories won’t do anything yet. We have to find Inner Willow and make peace with her first.”

“This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”

A crash sounded from behind a tree on the far side of the clearing. “There she is,” Amity muttered. 

“Stupid Willow can’t even walk quiet,“ Boscha snickered.

The wide outline of the fire creature Amity knew housed Inner Willow-though this time it was made of organic golden fire rather than the magic pink flames Amity could conjure- peeked its head around a tree several yards away from the two girls. “Get behind me,” Amity warned.

“What? Why-”

The fire creature’s eyes locked on Boscha and narrowed maliciously. With a ground-shaking roar it threw itself towards them, but not before Amity could cast a spell circle to draw an abomination from the ground that matched the fire beast’s height. The abomination leapt at the creature, smothering it immediately, and Amity commanded the abomination to return to the ground. Inner Willow was left standing in the creature’s placem looking none too happy to see them.

“Willow.” Amity bowed her head slightly. “I’m really sorry about what happened to your memories, but we-”

“You!” Inner Willow hissed. She locked her eyes on Boscha. “You shouldn’t be here!”

“Willow-” Amity started.

“You’ve made my life miserable.” Inner Willow summoned a fireball with one hand and launched it straight at Boscha. “So now I’m going to show you all the fire you showed me for the past six years!”

“Wait!” Amity threw herself between Inner Willow and Boscha. Haphazardly she conjured up a forcefield to block the attack. The fireball blew her shield to pieces, but luckily, she and Boscha were safe. Boscha threw her a look of astonishment. “Willow, we just want to talk,” Amity said levelly.

Inner Willow had summoned another fireball, but she let it evaporate. “Really? You want me to talk with her?” she spat, indicating Boscha.

“She wants to apologize.”

“What she’s done goes a long way beyond an apology!”

“I’m sorry?” Boscha offered.

“Not helping, Boscha,” said Amity.

“Sorry? For what?” Inner Willow took a menacing step towards the pair. “For tormenting me? For alienating me from any potential friend? For making me doubt myself so horribly that I actually began to fail?”

“Yeah, um… sorry I was so mean,” Boscha said.

“And to think that being mean wasn’t even the worst part of it!” Inner Willow snarled. “If you don’t remember what the worst part was, I’ll show you myself, and hope you feel every ounce as embarassed and humiliated as I did!” She summoned a picture frame off a tree trunk with one hand and levitated Boscha and Amity into the air with the other. 

“Wait!” Boscha wailed.

Inner Willow ignored Boscha’s protest. Boscha and Amity were sent catapulting toward the picture. Amity screwed her eyes shut until she felt herself hit solid ground.

She sat up and rubbed her head. “Did she just-”

Boscha was already on her feet. Her mouth fell agape as she stared around. “Oh, no. Nononono.”

For a moment Amity was unsure of what had gotten Boscha so worked up, until she realized where they were. They were standing at the bottom of a set of bleachers overlooking a very recognizable round field. A giant banner reading 8th Grade Girls’ Grudgby Semifinals hung over a scoreboard on the far side, and the stands were packed with cheering friends and parents.

I guess it makes sense that this is the memory Willow is angriest about.

“You understand all this weird magic. Can’t you get us out of here?” Boscha begged.

Amity shook her head. “Nope. You’ve got to get through the memory and make peace with Inner Willow before we can start fixing everything else.”

“But I don’t want to see this memory!”

“Tough.” Amity would bet a lot of snails that Willow didn’t want to rewatch this memory either.

Her attention was drawn to the movement on the field. Eight players flitted around on the sand like butterflies, and after a moment Amity began to recognize them. There was Boscha- a little shorter and a little clumsier than she was now, making a dive for the ball, but a Glandes player snatched it away before she could reach it. There were Amelia and Cat, Boscha’s friends. And of course, in her familiar pink letterman jacket was a little bit younger-looking Captain Amity, albeit without her brown roots growing in. 

The Glandes player scored, and the lights on the scoreboard changed. Banshees 5 Visitors 6.

“We’ve got time for one more play,” announced a voice over the loudspeaker. “Will the Banshees catch up or will the Bats take it all?”

Though Amity knew how the game turned out in the end, she found herself holding her breath. 

Younger Amity grabbed the ball immediately and flung it in the younger Boscha’s direction. Past Boscha didn’t catch it, though- she was staring off into the stands with a blank expression and didn’t see it land at her feet. 

“Boscha!” the smaller version of Amity yelled. “The ball!”

Past Boscha jerked to her senses, but not before a Glandes kid grabbed the ball from where it lay and threw it into her own goal. The buzzer sounded and the game ended.

“And that’s a wrap, folks! Glandes Middle will be advancing to the finals!”

Past Boscha let out a screech of fury and stormed off the field. She walked right through Present Amity, though she obviously couldn’t see her. 

Past Amity wasn’t far behind her. “Hey, I’m sorry about that!” she called after her friend.

Past Boscha stopped in her tracks. “I can’t believe I missed that ball!” she snapped. “How idiotic could I be? I’m the star player, for Titan’s sake!”

“You were distracted for a moment,” Past Amity said, “It’s okay, everyone-”

“No it wasn’t. I cost us the finals. And it’s all Willow Park’s fault.”

Past Amity frowned in confusion. “Willow?”

“She was doing something stupid up in the stands. I wanted to yell to her, ‘hey half-a-witch! I can’t believe you’d dare to show your face around here!’” but I didn’t, and then that idiot from Glandes scored.”

“Okay, now I know you’re just lying,” Past Amity laughed mirthlessly. “You weren’t yelling anything to Willow. You were just staring at her. And you didn’t look angry. Actually, you looked a little nervous. 

Past Boscha shifted uncomfortably on her feet. “Shut up. I’m gonna go give her a piece of my mind. Then she’ll know better than to mess with my concentration.”

“Boscha, wait,” Past Amity called. Past Boscha’s eyes flashed with anger and she sprinted away, ducking behind the bleacher that Amity and Boscha in their current incarnations were currently standing in front of.

Only then did Amity realize that Inner Willow had been standing next to them as whole time the memory unfolded. The fiery anger had faded from her eyes, replaced by a dull sorrow, darkening as she watched the eighth-grade versions of her former friends run away. 

“Well?” Inner Willow asked. “Aren’t you going to follow them?”

Boscha backed away. “I already know what happened. I don’t need to go.”

“I think you’d better see it again.”

“Let’s go, Boscha,” Amity said.

Boscha avoided Amity’s eyes. “No.”

“You need to apologize to Willow. We can’t leave her until you make things right with her.”

“Good to know that you knowingly trapped me in here,” Boscha said bitterly.

Amity felt a flash of frustration. This girl was impossible. How hard could it possibly be to acknowledge that she had been horrible to Willow and promise to do better in the future? I did it, so why can’t she? “Look, I needed someone else to come with me anyway, and Luz is still too weak to walk.” Besides, it would be so incredibly awkward right now. “Making you apologize is just a bonus.”

“You can’t make me do anything.”

“I’m running out of patience, Boscha,” Inner Willow warned.

“Fine,” Boscha growled. “If it gets me out of this hellscape sooner, I’m come watch Willow embarrass me with you.” 

Amity and Inner Willow exchanged a glance and led the way through the gap under the bleachers. Sounds of an argument drifted towards them, and when Amity’s eyes adjusted to the low light, she saw the past versions of herself, Boscha, and Willow facing off like a couple of stray cats having a spat over food. Willow looked like she wanted the floor to swallow her, but Boscha stood on the offensive, not backing down. Past Amity stood a few paces back, her expression cold as ice.

“What do you mean, I broke your concentration?” Past Willow cried. “I wasn’t even doing anything. I was just sitting there with my dads, watching the game, just like everybody else!”

“You just did,” Past Boscha said stubbornly. “I can’t explain it.”

“Can’t we fight about this another day?” Past Amity asked.

“Shut up, Amity!” Past Boscha snapped. “Willow and I have a score to settle, you know. You should probably just get out of here.”

Past Willow covered her face with her hands. “I didn’t even do anything! You’re just being mean for no reason!”

“I’m not mean. I’m just telling you like it is.”

“Ever since Amity ditched me for you, you’ve both been just awful!”

“Yeah.” Boscha advanced on Willow menacingly. “Because you’re awful.”

Past Willow let out a wail and sunk to her knees. “Boscha, please! Tell me what I did wrong! I’ll leave you alone, I promise!”

Amity watched in horror as her past self stood off to the side, stone-faced. How could I have ever acted like that? How can I ever make up for it? All her instincts screamed at her to intervene, but she knew she couldn’t, that this had already happened and there was nothing she could do to change it. I’ve got enough on my plate with changing the past anyway.

“You’ve always been weak,” Past Boscha said, her tone low. “You’re awful at magic. You don’t even have any friends. And it’s horrible, because you’re horrible and I hate you, I really do, but- but… somehow I still have a crush on you!” Her hands flew to her mouth as soon as she’d said the words. 

Present Boscha looked about ready to punch someone. 

“What?” Past Willow whispered.

“I like you, Willow,” Past Boscha muttered. “I always have. But I also hate you. I don’t know what any of it means.”

“I don’t believe you.” Willow’s voice shook. “You’re so mean. You can’t have a crush on me. I- I-”

“I guess the demon’s out of the bag.” Past Boscha spun around and grabbed Past Amity by the wrist. “Let’s go. There’s nothing else I need to say.”

Willow wiped a few tears from her eyes and the memory faded to blackness.

A moment later, the three were once again standing in the grassy clearing lined with trees. Inner Willow turned to Boscha. “Well? Do you get it now?”

Boscha looked away. “I can’t help how I feel.”

“But you can help how you act,” Inner Willow said, then added, “idiot.”

“Do you still feel like that?” Amity asked. Boscha said nothing, which was answer enough.

“Do you have anything you’d like to say to me?” Inner Willow asked tetchily. “Maybe an, ‘oh, I’m so sorry, Willow, that was just an incredibly mean-spirited joke and I’m really sorry about how I’ve been treating you since we were in elementary school’?”

Boscha crossed her arms and slouched. “Okay, you got me. I’m sorry for being such a big mean bully and for having a crush on you since we were nine, and that we’re friends, will you go out with me?”

“I’d really like to kick you out of my head right now, but unfortunately, you and Amity are still in charge of damage control here,” Inner Willow said.

Boscha ganced at Amity. “Is that a yes?”

Amity grinned. “I wouldn’t count on it.”

“You’re literally the worst.”

~

Boscha and Amity worked for a good chunk of the afternoon to get Willow’s memories fixed again.  It was nice to have a relatively pleasant trip down memory lane (save for Boscha’s constant complaining about Willow’s rejection) but Amity was more than relieved when they finished with the last memory- rebuilding the beach fort. Once again she mimicked Eda’s spell and soon enough both witches found themselves safely back in Willow’s room, standing next to Willow’s bed.

Willow seemed to process that something had changed. She blinked her eyes open and sat up, struggling only a bit to do so. She looked to Boscha first, then to Amity, then back to Boscha. 

“Hi, Willow,” Amity said awkwardly. “Are you… feeling okay?”

“I had hoped that that was just a bad dream,” Willow replied dryly, “but I can see that it clearly wasn’t.”

“You didn’t hear anything I said in there, right?” Boscha asked.

Willow shook her head. “I heard everything. And the answer is still no, Boscha. We are not even friends. I almost died and lost my memories today. You don’t need to complicate everything even more for me.”

Boscha’s shoulders drooped. “Okay.”

Willow addressed Amity. “If you’re wondering what happened with my whole… that, today was practice day in photo class, so we were pulling out some relatively unimportant memories to prep for our big project tomorrow. The fire must have damaged them. I…” she trailed off for a moment. Amity could see the gears turning in her head, contemplating what to say.

“I really owe you one, Amity,” Willow said at last. “Thanks for coming back for me. I don’t know if I would have been able to get out on my own. Maybe… maybe we really can be friends. Thinking to search for me was really and truly noble of you.”

Amity blushed in embarrassment. “I was just doing what Luz would have done. But… thank you.”

“What about me?” Boscha demanded. “I saved you both from the fire that Luz set and I don’t hear any thanks from either of you.”

Willow raised an eyebrow.

“Let’s just agree that it was unexpected,” Amity muttered.

“I don’t know whether to be proud or offended that you think I’m not above letting my classmates die.”

“I’m glad you’re okay, Willow.” Amity reached out to touch Willow’s shoulder. “I could never have left you behind.”

Willow’s eyes shone. “Thanks, Amity.”

As much as she would have loved to stay and chat, Amity’s brain was screaming Luz’s name on repeat, and it was getting louder any second to the point where she could no longer ignore it. “I have to go see Luz now,” she said. She glared at Boscha. “Boscha will be going home and having her party . I’ll be next door, so let me know if you need anything, okay?”

“I will.”

Amity shooed Boscha out of the room and leaned down to whisper in Willow’s ear. “Just between you and me, I wouldn’t want to date Boscha either.”

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