The light disappeared, and Amity was falling.
She let out a shriek as she realized she was plummeting towards the leaf-blanketed ground headfirst. Leaves and branches whipped past her at lightning speed before she landed with a dull thud.A sharp pain shot up her arm as it collided with the dirt, and she inhaled sharply through her teeth, holding back tears at the stabbing agony.
What a way to make an entrance.
When the pain finally subsided enough for her to think straight, Amity staggered to her feet and crept forward with her arm cradled to her chest. She knew she was in the woods between Hexside and the Owl House. Would she see Luz here? Her heart leapt to her throat at the prospect. Adorable, sweet, affectionate Luz…
… who would have no idea who Amity was.
That is, if the spell had worked. She was sure it had- the leaves on the trees were yellow and red, rather than the rich green color they’d sported in the fall when Luz had left. Had Amity really been able to travel back in time? She felt a thrill at the idea. She had to have been the youngest witch to pull off time travel- maybe even the first ever. Even the ancient, powerful feral witches of the past must have had trouble gathering the courage to perform such a drastic act.
But not Amity. She was doing this for Luz, which made it ten times easier.
“...Besides, your dads are right. There are more opportunities on this track. Now- get to school!”
Amity stopped in her tracks and ducked behind a thick tree truck. When she peered around it, she could make out none other than Luz’s future best friend Willow pacing around the clearing in front of her. Her heart dropped when she saw Willow wearing the orchid uniform of an Abominations student. The sooner Amity could get Willow onto the plant track again, the better.
Amity’s good hand darted out when she saw that Willow had paced dangerously close to her small purple flower. “Willow! Watch where you’re stepping!”
Willow froze and glanced down at her feet. She narrowly missed stomping on the delicate petals. “Whew. That was close,” she sighed. She looked up at the trees and squinted directly at the tree that Amity was crouched behind. “Is that…?” She let the unspoken name hang in the air between them, her own disbelief thick enough Amity felt like it was choking her.
Keeping her injured arm close, Amity ducked into the clearing. “Hi, Willow.”
“Amity?” Willow’s eyes went wide. She had to have recognized Amity’s voice and only too late did Amity remember that her being nice to Willow was probably setting off multiple alarms in Willow’s mind. “What are you doing here?”
“I… I was just-”
“Is your arm okay?”
“It’s fine.” Amity began to frantically survey the area. Luz had to be around here somewhere. This was where her crush had first met Willow, most likely… when she’d offered to be Willow’s abomination. “Have you, uh… have you seen Luz anywhere?”
Willow narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know anyone named Luz. What’d Boscha put you up to?”
Right. This was the past. “So… sorry, forget I asked. Boscha didn’t… this has nothing to do with Boscha.”
A flash of movement at the far side of the clearing caught Amity’s eye. She got a glimpse of bright purple and deep brown, and instantly her throat went dry. There was no mistaking the frame of the skinny teenager darting around behind the bushes.
Luz was here.
“Who’s that?” whispered Amity. “Do you see someone back there? In the bushes?”
“I feel like this is a trick,” Willow said. “But I guess I’ll check.” With a flick of her wrist, she summoned a thick vine from under the ground and sent it flying behind her. A moment later it returned, wrapped around Luz’s ankle, and dropped the human with a thump before the two witches.
Willow blinked at Luz’s crumpled form. “Well, I’ll be.”
Amity couldn’t speak as Luz got to her feet. The sight of her alone was enough to bring tears to the back of her eyelids.
“I’m- I’m so sorry,” Luz stammered, brushing dirt off her knees. “You’re probably in the middle of something, I shouldn’t have intruded-” She paused and her eyes landed on Amity, and the hurt arm that was still plastered to Amity’s chest. “Hey, green hair, is your arm okay?”
”Fine. I said it’s fine.” It was hearing Luz’s voice, not the stabbing pain in her wrist, that finally made her cry. “I’ll just get to the healer’s office-”
Luz’s eyes went wide. “Oh, you're crying! You poor thing!” She made a beeline for Amity and took Amity’s forearm gently in her hands. She trailed her fingers across the pale skin before touching Amity’s wrist. “Does that hurt? Did you trip?”
Amity winced, but the pure fire that scorched through her at the contact with Luz dulled the pain. “Just my wrist. I’ll be okay. I, uh… tripped over my… shoe… laces.” She glanced down at her laceless boots and silently cursed the stars that she’d broken her wrist and not her ankle like last time- now didn’t have an excuse to be carried. She supposed this would have to do.
“Wait,” Willow broke in. “The round ears, the strange clothing… you’re a human, aren’t you? Oh my goodness! A real human on the Boiling Isles? I thought they went extinct. This is insane! I’ll have to show you to Augustus!”
Luz covered her ears self-consciously.
“Of course she’s a human,” Amity put in. “But that doesn’t make her any lesser than us. We should treat her with the utmost respect.”
Willow didn’t say anything, but she looked a little put off.
“Well, that’s just the sweetest thing anyone’s told me since I’ve gotten here!” Luz exclaimed. “I’m so glad to meet you two. I’m Luz the human and I’m training to be a witch and I’m just having the best time so far!”
Yeah, just wait until you have a showdown with the emperor of the Isles, Amity thought. I bet that’ll be a blast. “I’m Amity. Amity Blight. It’s really nice to meet you, Luz. I… love your hoodie,” she continued awkwardly. “It’s… cute.” If she started flirting now, would Luz like her back sooner? Would Luz like her back at all? Or was her mysterious-jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold persona more alluring? Argh, this is all so complicated!
Luz grinned and put the hood up over her head, showing off the cat ears she’d attached. “Thanks, meow meow.”
I wish I could tell you how much time I’m going to spend imagining myself wearing that.
“You two are pretty spiffy yourself,” Luz went on. “Love the… the matching purple thing you’ve got going on. Very… grapey.”
“It’s the school uniform,” Willow sighed. “Oh, that reminds me. I have to keep working on my magic… we’ve got our abominations assessments today. I’m gonna fail.” She cast a dubious expression out of the corner of her eye at Amity. Amity was suddenly very aware of the Top Student badge pinned to her lapel. She wasn’t really sure if she wanted to keep it all day or not.
Now was the time for her to make her first big decision.
She could offer to help Willow with the Abominations project, but if she did, Luz would never see the inside of Hexside, become enthralled with it, and eventually enroll. Of course, she wouldn't get banned either… but Amity knew how to fix that little problem. Would it be simpler to just let time play out? Would Luz still be allowed to study multiple tracks? Would messing with something as powerful as time be too risky? How did the spell even work? Amity had too many questions and, thanks to the noticeably absent weight of the time archive key in her pocket, no way to answer them.
She took a step forward. “Willow, you won’t fail. I’ll help you with your project.”
Instead of being thankful, Willow seemed… mostly confused, as she’d been up to that point. “Wait, huh? Really?”
Luz frowned. “But Amity, your wrist-”
“I’m ambidextrous.” Amity ignored the way hearing the sound of her name on Luz’s tongue sent all sorts of thrills down her spine. “I’ll be fine.”
She took a step closer to Willow’s wheelbarrow and the giant pot that sat atop it. “Abomination, rise.” The abomination that rose- or, spilled, more like- out of the pot was more like a puddle of sludge than one of her own well-formed and formidable monsters. She drew a quick circle with her good hand while keeping the other close to her chest.
“Now let’s see. We can reshape it there… change that… if we move that around it’ll be much more likely to obey you… oh, it needs to be bigger…”
Out of her peripherals she could see that Luz and Willow were both equally astounded at Amity’s clear magical prowess. Luz’s mouth hung agape and her brown eyes shone with admiration. Amity felt a twinge of satisfaction that this was her first impression on Luz instead of whatever their last monstrosity of a meeting had been. (Not to mention, when Luz was excited, she was so adorable.) Amity was glad she was turned away from the two of them so that they couldn’t see her blush.
“And there.” Amity finished the abomination with a flourish. “A perfect project. I made it a little… smaller than mine, so nobody thinks I helped you.” She levitated the lid back onto the pot to keep the abomination in place.
Willow snorted. “They’re probably more likely to believe that I did that all by myself than that you helped me.”
“Wow.” Luz turned to Amity and grinned at her fiercely. “Amity Blight, you are incredible! I’ve really got to go to magic school now. That looks soamazing.”
Amity moved her good arm over her face to cover her ever-reddening cheeks. “It’s nice to meet you too-”
Luz continued to gush. “I’m so glad I ran into you guys. You’re both really good at magic, maybe you can help teach me- and- and maybe we could even be… friends? If that’s alright with you, of course!”
“I’d love to be friends with you, Luz,” Willow said slowly.
“You know, if Amity hadn’t been able to help you with your abomination, I might have offered to be your abomination for you. You know, I could be your weird purple goop thing and I could get into your school and see it for myself… I know it sounds crazy, but it might have worked.” Luz shrugged.
“Willow doesn’t have to use that one. It’s just a suggestion,” Amity mumbled. She looked to Willow. Would Willow refuse her help? She had no reason to accept it, not after how horrible Past Amity had been to her. I wish I could take that all back.
Maybe now I can.
“I don’t really know why you’re helping me,” Willow admitted, “but you did a really great job. I think the one you made will be fine.”
Luz pouted. “But I wanna see inside your school…”
“You can be my abomination,” Amity blurted. Two pairs of eyes turned to her. She realized instantly that she wasn’t really going about her feelings for Luz in the most subtle of ways.
“Seriously?” Luz asked, stunned.
“If you really want to see inside the school that badly. I mean, I can’t think of a better way to do it. Besides, I’m already the top student… what could it hurt…”
“Wow.” Luz was growing more and more giddy with each second that Amity watched her. “You’re the coolest, Amity! I seriously can't believe I ran into the two of you. I have a feeling you’re gonna make my time here on the Boiling Isles so much better!”
Willow shot Amity a glance as if to say good luck to her for being friends with both of us, but Amity ignored her. “I’m glad I ran into you too,” she replied. There was an unspoken weight to the statement that she was sure Luz couldn’t hear. “Let me just grab my…” She glanced around the clearing. “Oh, shoot.”
“Where is your abomination?” Willow asked. “Did you leave it in the forest?”
“Um.” Amity reached around to awkwardly scratch the back of her neck. “I’m not sure.” Stupid time travel.
“Well, we’d better find it!” Luz chirped. “After we get your wrist checked out, of course.” She winked- winked- at Amity. “Can’t be your trusty abomination if you’re in too much pain to even go to class.”
Amity blinked dazedly at Luz. “Yeah,” she replied. “I guess not.”
This was going to be one heck of a summer.