Marnie came downstairs to find her brother looking for consolation from their mother. "You're not really a witch, right?" Dylan begged while Gwen poured him cereal at the kitchen table. Grandma Aggie sat next to him, shaking her head in sympathy. "It was all a dream? Marnie's just trying to trick me, right?"
Her mother paused, then, with great reluctance in her voice answered, "No, Dylan. I…I am a witch, and so are your sisters."
"I was afraid of that," Dylan groaned and put his head in his heads.
Unsure of what to say, Gwen gave him a quick hug before turning to his sisters. "Good morning, girls."
It was then that Marnie remembered more of what happened the night before. Of how her mother had been ready to let her powers fade forever, without telling her they ever existed in the first place. How could her mother do that? How could she be so selfish? How could she prevent her daughters from following their destiny, all because she wanted a normal life?
After the fight with Kalabar, Marnie had realized that not every citizen of Halloweentown was cheery and good. There were a lot of things about Halloweentown that she did not yet understand. But even so…how could her mother decide to keep everything a secret because of possible bad guys? The mortal world was full of bad guys, but she let them live there.
It was for this reason that she gave her mother a very stiff "'Morning" as she went over to sit next to her grandmother. To let her mother know she was still angry, Marnie gave her grandmother an exaggerated hug in greeting. "Good morning, Grandma! It's so great that you get to live with us now!"
"Marnie…" Gwen warned, noticing the brush off.
But Sophie didn't notice and interrupted, "Yeah, Grandma! Can you take us for a ride on Marnie's broom later?"
At the mention of more magic, Dylan groaned and once again put his head in his hands.
"Oh, no, dear. Your mother is taking me shopping," Aggie replied. "Maybe another time, if your mother says it's alright."
Marnie frowned when saw her mother mouth "thank you" to her grandmother. Her mother was still the one in charge. "So, why are you going shopping, Grandma?" Marnie asked, pouring herself a bowl of cereal.
"Well, as your mother pointed out, I can't go around wearing this," Aggie joked, pointing to her colorful dress. "I'd conjure up clothes, of course, but I wouldn't even be able to conjure a full wardrobe. Honestly, all mortal clothing looks the same to me."
"Clearly, that's not a problem in Halloweentown," Dylan remarked.
"Oh, it certainly isn't," Aggie agreed, missing Dylan's intended insult.
Marnie laughed. It would be great having her grandmother live with them. Now, she could learn all the magic she wanted, and her mother couldn't say no. While her mother would still make the household and schedule rules, she was sure her grandmother would be in charge when it came to when she could use her magic. Which for sure would be all the time. "So when are we starting my training? I can't wait!"
"Soon, dear, I promise. Once I get settled in, we'll start," Aggie promised, smiling at her oldest granddaughter. "To tell you the truth, I can't wait either. What with your mother intending to keep your powers from you, I thought this day would never come."
"I had my reasons," Gwen insisted from where she stood at the kitchen counter. She was putting the milk away and washing out a tea mug.
Marnie glared at her mother's back, since Gwen was facing the sink. "Well, I still found out about my powers anyway, so there," she said in a "ha ha, I won and you didn't" tone.
"Marnie," Gwen warned as she turned around, also glaring. "You don't understand. You said you understood last night, but you obviously don't."
"I said I understood that I didn't know everything about Halloweentown. I didn't say I understood you," Marnie retorted.
Dylan sunk low in his seat. "Uh oh."
"Marnie, why don't you finish your cereal," Aggie interrupted in an attempt at a distraction.
When neither Marnie or Gwen blinked for what seemed like a long time, Sophie took her cereal and began to leave the table. "Come on, Dylan. Let's go watch some cartoons."
"But it's Sunday –" Dylan began.
"I said let's go," Sophie insisted, already out the kitchen door. Dylan pretended like he wasn't going to follow his younger sister's orders, but soon picked up his cereal bowl as well. "Come on, Grandma. We'll show you what mortal TV is like."
"Oh, interesting!" Aggie exclaimed with exaggerated enthusiasm as she followed Dylan out the door.
Marnie shook her head and muttered, "Man, can we clear a room."
"Tell me about it," Gwen agreed. Then she sighed and went to sit across from her daughter at the table. When Marnie got up to go inside, she added, "Marnie, please. We need to talk about this."
"I don't see what there is to talk about," Marnie said as she plopped back down on her chair. "You kept a big secret from me when you shouldn't have. Now we just have to wait until I forgive you. End of talk."
At that, Gwen crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. "Marnie, you know that's not fair."
"Why should I be fair? You weren't going to be! You were never going to tell me about my powers, were you?" Marnie argued. She grew more and more angry as she thought about the idea of never finding out about being a witch. Ever. She would've spent the rest of her life thinking she was born a mortal. "Yeah," she added. "It never occurred to you that I might not want to be a boring human."
Gwen narrowed her eyes. "Your father was human, Marnie. Don't you dare ever insult humans again."
"Sorry," Marnie whispered. She forgot about that. "But Mom, how could you do this to me? To Sophie? You were never going to tell us about something as cool as magic…"
"Marnie, you don't get it," Gwen insisted. "I…I grew up with magic. It was all I knew. Your grandmother kept insisting that I should always practice because one day I would become head of the Cromwell line. I felt…trapped. Like I was stuck as a powerful witch, and there was nothing I could ever do about it. When you're not raised human, magic isn't mystical or special. It's a burden. Or to me it was."
Marnie gaped at her and leaned back in her chair. While she found out her mother being a witch, she hadn't yet connected it the fact that it meant her mother had actually grown up in Halloweentown. That her mother was actually a rebel for giving up her powers. "Wow," she whispered.
Gwen nodded at her daughter's awe. "Yes. To you, Halloweentown is a fun and interesting place. But to me it was…it was a trap, a box I couldn't escape. And then I met Kalabar, and I realized how dangerous it was. He wasn't the only bad guy out there, Marnie. There are many…many more. But I had to deal with Kalabar, who began turning evil a long time after we started dating. I trusted him. You're young – you don't know what it's like to trust someone so completely, and then see that he wasn't who you thought he was. And then even when I did, I…still loved him. I couldn't pull away, and he used my feelings to his advantage. Marnie…last night was not the first time he ask me to be his queen. He…he tried to turn me evil."
Marnie stared at her mother with newfound respect. From what she'd seen, Kalabar was pretty powerful. If her mother was able to resist and get away from that, she was stronger than Marnie ever gave her credit for. It wasn't that Marnie ever thought of her mother as weak…it was more along the lines of her mother being her mom, the "do your homework, eat your dinner, get up for school" type. Not the "powerful rebel witch who had to resist evil" type. Then she shook her head and remembered something from the night before. "B-But when you saw him last night…"
"Oh, that? That was an act," Gwen assured her. "And, honestly, when I saw that he'd become mayor, I really thought he'd changed. After all, he couldn't be evil if he'd been elected mayor, right?" Gwen paused and shook her head. "Fifteen years later, and he could still fool me. He was a good actor."
"Yeah, I noticed," Marnie replied. They'd all been fooled by Kalabar's act. Even her grandmother had trusted him. "So what happened? How did you get away?"
"I met your father," Gwen replied simply. "One Halloween, I couldn't stand Kalabar or my mother, so I escaped on the bus. I'd been planning on escaping somehow, but I didn't have the courage. Your father gave me that. He caught me using magic, so I asked him about the human world for hours. He even offered to let me stay in his apartment. Which, now that I think about it was very inappropriate, but at the time I was fresh out of Halloweentown and didn't think anything of kind offers from strangers. Before I knew it, I was stopping back in Halloweentown to pack my bags. Your grandmother tried to stop me, but she saw I'd made up my mind and let me go."
"That's so romantic," Marnie said. She felt special that her own parents had such an epic, whirlwind romance. The more she thought about it, the more her ordinary, boring childhood didn't fit at all. "But…what does that have to do with you keeping magic a secret from us?"
Gwen sighed and reached across the table to pat Marnie's hand. "Maybe that's where I was a little selfish. The thought of raising you girls as witches…terrified me. Having to relive those memories every day…bring you back to Halloweentown. I couldn't. When I first decided to keep the secret, I was so afraid of facing your grandmother again, and I knew I would need her help with training you. Not to mention that I honestly thought Kalabar would kill me as soon as I stepped foot in Halloweentown. Kill me or force me to marry him – it was worth giving up my powers to avoid either."
"But we didn't have to go to Halloweentown to learn to use our powers, right? You could've taught us anyway," Marnie insisted. Her mother's story was wearing her down, though. Learning all of what her mother had went through was making her somewhat understand. After all, would she want to expose her kids to something if it had already caused her so much pain? But growing up in the mortal world with powers was still much different than growing up in Halloweentown.
"Yes, I understand that living here with powers is much different than what I went through. Different in general, too. There aren't many witches living here. You and Sophie would've been special cases, and now you are," Gwen explained. "I guess…I guess all this time I was afraid. Afraid that if you knew, you'd be too curious about Halloweentown not to go. Then once you were there, you'd be consumed by magic and I'd never see you again. Even if I never told you about Halloweentown…if word got around that there were new Cromwell witches, evil wouldn't be afraid to cross over to come after you."
Gwen lowered her eyes and sighed. "I guess maybe never telling you about your powers because of something that might happen was a little extreme. But I was scared. I'd already lost so much by leaving Halloweentown behind, I didn't want to lose you too."
"Oh, Mom," Marnie said, going over to hug her mother, who stood up to return it. She was still upset that she'd grown up without knowing about a very important part of herself. In some ways, her mother still wasn't completely in the right to keep that from her. But at least Marnie now understood why her mother was so against magic. It was one thing if her mother just enjoyed normalcy and thought Marnie wouldn't be mature enough to understand. The situation was totally changed now that she realized that maybe, just maybe her mother had a good reason for what she did. Marnie may not like that reason, but it was still a good reason. "I promise you won't lose me, ever. The mortal world is my world. But magic is still cool."
Gwen laughed, even as she brushed away a tear while she pulled away from Marnie. "If you say so. We're good now, right?"
Marnie pretended to consider the question, then smiled. "Yeah, we're good."
"I'm glad," Gwen replied, putting an arm around Marnie's shoulders as they headed into the living room to be with the rest of the family. "Marnie, honey, can you do me a favor?"
Marnie looked up at her. "Depends on what it is."
"Could you…not tell this to your brother and sister?" Gwen asked. At Marnie's exasperated look, she added, "I know, more secrets. But I'd prefer it if they didn't know how their mother was almost evil until they were a little older."
Marnie grinned. She didn't mind keeping secrets so much if she was in on them too. "On one condition."
"And what would that be?" Gwen asked.
"When we go shopping later," Marnie answered. "You buy me that outfit I told you I want."
Gwen laughed. "Bribery, huh?"
"Yup, take it or leave it," Marnie joked. The two reached the living room, and spent the rest of the morning watching cartoons with Sophie, Dylan, and their new permanent family member, Aggie.