"Watch out, Jack!" Fi exclaimed. Then she barely held back a giggle when her brother crashed into his open bedroom door. She just about lost it when, confused, he waved his arms around for a second before holding on to his desk chair. And since he only turned down her offer of guiding him by the arm because of pride, she didn't feel bad about the laughter at all.
His eyes still closed, he snapped, "Some help you are. A seeing-eye dog would probably be better at this than you."
"Well, I said 'watch out'! Given how your sense of hearing is right now, you definitely should have heard me."
Fi had been happily shocked when Jack announced that he wanted to unlock his power. In the week after the battle, she and her mother had been able to tell that Jack was struggling something, but they couldn't figure out what it was. Sure, he was still in some pain from the injury, but from the various expressions he'd made when he didn't think they were looking, they could conclude that it was more of a problem he'd been trying to figure out. At first, they thought he was understandably going through some emotional trauma from fighting the demon, and so, left him to his thoughts.
But then he surprised both of them when the night before the celebration dinner, he finally told them that he wanted his power. He'd confessed that a dream visit from his father helped him along with his decision, though he'd already been considering it. However, Jack had been quick to insist that this didn't mean he was fully accepting magic. He just wanted to make sure he could use his power as back up the next time they went into battle.
Or so he claimed. Fi knew she would break him eventually. If she could convert her mother, then she could definitely take Jack on.
Not today, though. At the moment they were trying to get Jack downstairs, since people were starting to arrive for the dinner Kathleen had made in the Phillips' kitchen. Kathleen had been horrified to find that they only had take out food for a send off dinner, so she'd decided to make her famous Beef Wellington to make up for it.
At first Molly had been opposed to the trouble of a formal dinner, especially when it would involve her mother taking over the kitchen most of the day. But Molly had quickly changed her tune at Kathleen's entrée suggestion. And no one else had even thought to protest.
Because they'd only done the spell last night, Jack was still suffering much like Fi had. His sight and hearing were particularly sensitive. Not the best condition in which to attend a party, but since the dinner was partly in his honor, he was making the effort. Though he was having some difficulty due to his refusal to open his eyes, for fear of the shock of flooding light from the hallway.
"Come on, Jack, just open your eyes already. You're not going to get anywhere like that," Fi argued. "Especially if you don't let me help you."
But Jack stubbornly shook his head. "I can do it. Just…tell me if I'm facing the door."
With a roll of her eyes, even though her brother couldn't see it, she snatched a pair of sunglasses from his desk and put them on him. "Here, use these. Open your eyes…" When Jack looked like he might argue, Fi insisted, "Just for a minute. If it's still too bright, you can close them again."
"Fine." He did so, blinked even with the shades, but finally nodded. "That is a little better."
"Imagine that. One of my suggestions worked," Fi retorted. He glared at her, and the two went out into the hallway to go down to dinner. They arrived in the kitchen to find Kathleen, with Molly, Irene…and Nora assisting with meal preparations.
Stunned, Fi stopped, Jack close behind her. "Who is that?" he whispered to his sister.
Instead of responding, she rushed into the kitchen, confusion on her face. "Nora? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?"
"Of course, sweetheart," Nora assured her as she hugged Fi in greeting. "I just wanted to congratulate you and your family in person. I thought I'd only pop in with Kathleen, but your mother invited me to dinner." A smile was on her face at the mention of the invitation.
Fi smiled as well. Nora and Molly hadn't gotten along well in the past, so it was a huge sign of forgiveness on Molly's part. "That's great! Glad you're here!" she said sincerely. Then she pulled bewildered Jack beside her. "Nora, this is my brother, Jack. Jack, this is Grandma Kathleen's friend from Ireland. She's a witch too."
"Uh, hi," he said as Nora hugged him.
As they parted, Nora paused and gave him a thoughtful glance. "You've recently unlocked your power, haven't you? Judging by the sunglasses, I say fairly recently."
"Yup. Yesterday, actually…and could everyone do me a favor and not talk so loud?" he pleaded.
Molly glanced at her son with sympathy. "Jack, how are you going to stand conversation at the dinner table? Go back upstairs. I'll bring a plate up to you."
"No, no way. Not after all the trouble I went through to get down here," Jack said as he lightly touched his bruised nose. "By the way, anyone got an ice pack?"
Concerned, Irene asked, "Jack, what happened? How did you hurt your nose?"
While embarrassed Jack didn't answer, Fi eagerly answered, "He ran into his door." At Jack's glare, and the others' barely contained laughter, she explained, "He was being a stubborn butthead and refusing my help."
"Whatever, it's fine," he snapped to his sister as his mother handed him an ice pack. "I'm going inside." Then he gave the women a warning glance. "Don't tell Clu or Carey about the door thing." When they only laughed more, he frowned. "Come on, please?"
"Your secret is safe with us, love," Kathleen said as she went over and quickly hugged her grandson. "Now go lie down for a few minutes. Dinner will be ready soon."
After Jack left, the five women started the normal chatter that typically occurred while preparing a meal. All they really had left to do was make sure what they needed was on the table, and that the side dishes staying warm on the stove didn't burn. As Kathleen stirred the mashed potatoes, both Fi and Irene noticed that the witch made the salt shaker to slide on its own across the counter over to her. "I will never get used to magic," Irene muttered with a shake of her head.
As Fi laughed, she noticed something else. "Wait…you didn't use a spell," she said in shock, which brought the attention of Molly and Nora to the conversation. "How did…"
"Practice," Kathleen explained, much to Fi and Molly's amazement. "All witches can eventually cast simple spells without actually speaking them. It's just a matter of concentration."
"Huh, good to know." Fi remarked. She brought some more dishes out to the dining room, and soon enough, the whole group, including Clu and Candy, was seated at the table. Though Clu had just come home the week before, they all agreed the celebration wouldn't be one unless everyone was there.
At the head of the table sat Molly, Fi to her right. Down Fi's side were Candy, Irene, and Ned, then Kathleen at the other end. To Kathleen's right were Nora, Carey, Clu, then Jack on Molly's left. They were a big group, and talk was loud as they all settled into their seats. "Guys, again, please," Jack begged, his hands over his ears. "Not so loud! It hurts!" His eyes, however, had at least adjusted enough where he could take his sunglasses off at the table.
"All right, Jack got wasted last night! Proud of you, bro!" Carey said as he reached over and clapped Jack on the back.
The group roared with laughter while Jack glared at him. "I'll have you humans know that this is the result of a spell. Be nice or I'll…have Fi turn you into a toad, or something."
"Hey, you've got your own powers. I don't need to do your dirty work for you," Fi reminded him as she began to load food on to her plate. Everything looked so delicious, especially since it was so rare they got a fancy, home-cooked meal.
They all continued to fill their plates and keep up a constant stream of chatter. When it seemed like they were done, Molly stood and cleared her throat to get their attention. "Excuse me, everyone. But before we eat, I want to say something."
"Molly, I was planning on making a toast," Kathleen assured her.
But Molly shook her head. "No, not a toast. More of an announcement."
"No more surprises, please," Jack groaned.
Clu laughed. "Are you like half-elf or something too?" He paused. "That would be awesome, actually."
"No, of…" Molly paused, then glanced at her mother. "The witch thing is it, right?"
Kathleen let out a loud chuckle. "Yes, love. Cross my heart."
"Okay, good," Molly said with a little sigh of relief. "But no, this announcement's not magical…it's musical. For the past few days, Irene, Ned and I have been talking. And…as soon as the CD is released, …we decided it would be good for my career if…I went back on tour."
Stunned, Fi wasn't sure how to feel at first. Sure, when her mother had announced they were ending the tour, she had been extremely against it. But that was when she was still looking for answers, and trying to make contact with her father. Now, she had her answers, and she'd spoken to her father again. She didn't need to search anymore, so in that sense, it might be nice to stay home for a while. Especially since she could see the hurt expression on Candy's face the second Molly made the announcement.
But on the other hand, a part of her truly loved the thrill of being in a new city each week, wondering what would happen there. And since she had her powers, there was bound to be more excitement. If she could help dozens of people before just by herself, it wasn't hard to imagine how much more good she could do with magic.
While Fi had been lost in thought, everyone else seemed to be as well. No one had said a word yet. "Come on, people," Irene demanded as Molly sat back down. "Don't leave us in suspense here."
"Well, I'm up for it!" Carey said with genuine enthusiasm. "I mean, why not? A tour definitely beats playing local gigs."
"And you could play a concert at my college! You've got a lot of fans there," Clu spoke up.
However, Molly was more worried about her children, since she looked back and forth between them. "I'm sorry, guys, I probably should have talked with you about this, but it felt like the right time…"
"No, it's okay Mom. I'm…happy for you," Jack said. At Molly's narrowed eyes, he insisted, "Really! Besides, I could use one last tour across the country before I go to college. It'll be fun."
All eyes then turned to Fi, who glared, "No pressure, right?" she half-joked, then shook her head. "Honestly…" Aware of who was sitting next to her, she gave her best friend an apologetic look. "Candy, I'm sorry, but…"
"It's fine, Fi. I mean it," she replied, though there was a little disappointment in her voice. "Will I miss you next semester? Of course. But you'll be back. And besides…" She grinned. "What's a couple thousand miles between us when you can do that cool instant transport thing?"
"You know, you're right…why didn't I think of that?" Fi replied as everyone laughed. Already, there was one way this tour would be very different.
As the laughter quieted, Ned suggested, "All right, let's dig in, everyone!"
"Hold on, now!" Kathleen interrupted. When everyone groaned, she retorted, "This is a celebration dinner. You can't have a celebration dinner without a proper toast. I'll keep it short, I promise." They all raised their glasses, and Kathleen began, "Congratulations to Molly, Fiona, and Jack. You have brought honor to the O'Sianhans, by finally defeating our enemy, one that has tortured this family for far too long." A tear in her eye, she paused to compose herself. "Words cannot convey how proud I am of you."
Fi also found tears forming but kept them back. Sitting there with everyone she loved around her, celebrating a magical victory…though it might seem cliché, it really did feel like a dream. After years of turmoil, there was calm in her family. No longer would she have to fight for them to listen to what she had to say. That in itself made up for everything she had gone through.
Her gratitude made her stand up as well, glass still raised. "I am too," she said as she looked at her mother and brother. "For…a long time, we fought way too much. It was frustrating, always being told I was imagining things when I knew I wasn't. Today, everyone I love is here at this dinner. And you're all believers. I realize it wasn't easy for anyone, so…I just want to say thank you. For trusting me enough to throw logic out the window and accept that we're all crazy." The light joke made everyone laugh, which gave Fi enough time to wipe away tears. "Now let's eat, before the fanciest meal any of us have had in ages gets cold."
At her words, dinner began. For the length of the meal, talk of witches and magic was put aside in favor of simply enjoying each others' company.