Preface: I should mention to anyone waiting for Failure meet failure to update, I doubt I'll be back on that any time soon. I had basically no outline for that outline for that story, (basally a skeleton list of ideas, I didn't know any better at the time) but it basically just followed the stations of canon too closely, it was getting very boring to write. The good news however is that I decided that if I was going to seriously write this, I would have to have a begging to end outline from the start. So be happy if you like this, because I have a beginning middle and end painstakingly outlined for this story. Now, on with the show.
Disclaimer: Are these even necessary? I put this more here because of peer presure than because of actually fearing retribution from the creators.
Chapter 1: Doubling Production
As a rule of thumb, one could determine quite a bit about any particular mage from their familiar. Not only did familiars tend to associate with their mage's primary element, but they also tended to reflect that mage's strength and potential. If one summoned a fire dragon, others could guess that the summoner was a powerful pyromancer. The rule wasn't perfect, as exceptions like the headmaster of the Tristain Magic Academy, Old Osmand, and his summoned field mouse existed. However, those exceptions were few and far between.
In light of this, students of the mage craft have always measured themselves to their peers by familiar first. The system for such measurement was quite advanced, at least for an unofficial rule children through the ages settled on. The higher up on the food chain an animal was, the greater the familiar. If the animal was magical by nature it obviously was greater than all but the greatest of mundane familiars. A fire wolf beat a regular bear any day of Brimir's blessed week.
It was because of this unofficial rule the Louise Valliere was so proud of herself. The familiar she summoned was obviously magical from the moment she set eyes on it. The problem was, she was the only one in her class who managed that feat. She had endured nearly five minutes of jests at her expense upon summoning her familiar. Despite the creatures appearance all her class had called her crazy, unwilling to believe she had messed up the summoning. It had taken even the kind Professor Colbert asking her if she wanted to see the school healer before she realized she was the only one who could see her summoned familiar. Like a proper noble, she had buried her indignity and completed the ritual, binding her familiar to her. None who could cast the simple detect magic spell could doubt her then as the sealing circle activated and inscribed the familiar runes to her new partner.
After her grand display Louise refused all questions from peers as to the nature of her familiar. If her partner had some sort of invisibility defense, she wasn't going to reveal its details to anyone. The bonus getting to be the center of attention and finally get a small bit of revenge on her peers was just a bonus. However, she had let Professor Colbert try to inspect her familiar with a brief touch. That had shut up any rumors of a farce before they started.
Now, back in the safety of her room, Louise studied her familiar with a measured gaze. One the creature returned, unblinking. They had been sitting like this for nearly ten minutes, motionless. Racking her brain, Louise just couldn't figure out what her familiar was.
Its exotic features and apparent invisibility made it obviously magical, but Louise couldn't think of anything it could possibly be. It looked to have both cat and rabbit-like ears. Maybe for enhanced hearing to find its own kind if its invisibility worked even on potential mates. The red, beady eyes made Louise lean more toward a bread of magical rabbit than cat, but the body shape was closer to cat-like. The large pillowing tail suggested seemed more at home on a fox than on a rabbit or cat, complicating the problem further. The white fur suggested a cold climate, but Louise knew very little of the beasts in the great north. Add the hovering gold rings around each rabbit ear and Louise seemed to be out of luck. The ironic thing was that the invisibility she was so proud of was stopping her from just showing her familiar to a professor. Sometimes, Louise suspected the universe hated her.
Frustrated, Louise growled and rolled back onto her bed. Familiars weren't supposed to be this difficult! Wait! Familiar!Louise nearly smacked herself. It was so obvious. Familiars and masters were supposed to have a mental link. They were supposed to be able to feel each others' emotions. Advanced mages were supposed to be able to lend and borrow senses with their familiars and even communicate by thought. Louise doubted she could do anything advanced right away, but maybe the mental link could give her a hint.
Sitting back up, Louise met the unmoving eyes of her familiar as it stared back from the edge of her bed. Focusing, Louise felt for the invisible thread between them; the magical thread of fate that bonded their souls to one another. Reaching deep within Louise focused, concentrated, felt for her familiar.
Louise could feel nothing, no emotion whatsoever. "ARGH!" Louise finally screamed out in frustration. "WHAT ARE YOU!" She screamed as a last ditch effort.
"Kyuubey" a voice replied.
"You can talk!" Louise exclaimed, nearly falling off the bed in surprise. Here she had been studying the rabbit, cat, thing for the past half hour and it could talk the entire time! She didn't know whether to be grateful or angry!
The voice again responded, definitely coming from the familiar before her, yet its mouth did not move. "I can communicate, if that is what you mean." The voice was high pitched, almost sickeningly cute; a childlike voice that definitely belonged to such a cute animal.
Louise was stunned. The idea that her familiar could talk had never crossed her mind. There were very few creatures other than humans capable of human speech. Unless... Louise smiled to herself. So that was it. "I must be such a great mage to miss emotional transfer completely and move right on to direct thought transfer."
The haughty air was quickly dispersed when the animal, the Kyuubey, shook its head. "I don't know anything about this 'emotional transference' but I can assure you that I am the one who established our telepathic link." Louise deflated, realizing she had, in fact, failed to establish a mental bond. This realization left her was stuck between feeling smug that her familiar was not only able to cloak itself, but also seemed to have telepathic abilities; and being frustrated at failing a empathic link completely. So caught up in her inner turmoil, she didn't notice the Kyuubey approach her until his front paws were on her crossed legs. "I have told you who I am Louise Valliere, but now I ask you, why am I here?"
That question stumped Louise for a moment. Familiars had always instinctively known their purpose upon summoning; maybe it didn't work for sentient familiars? Deciding that the best way to instruct her familiar was with what she had been taught in class. Placing a hand on her hip and counting off the points she had memorized, Louise reconstructed her Professor's lecture. "Familiars are summoned to be an extension of the mage. Familiars act as the eyes and ears of a mage, protect the mage, and assist the mage throughout the life of the mage. The two beings become one, the mage the mind; the familiar the body." The slight tilt of the Kyuubey's head indicated that might not have been enough. Sighing, Louise dumbed it down. "Basically you are my familiar, so we look out for each other and you help me with my magic, usually by collecting reagents like sulfur and moss."
The Kyuubey stared at Louise for a moment, it seemed to be thinking. "I can help finding reagents, but I am not made for battle."
Ah, Louise had expected as much. Things as small as the Kyuubey that possessed defensive abilities like invisibility weren't usually natural fighters. However, that wasn't too big a problem. Louise had no plans to be getting into danger any time soon. "Don't worry familiar," Louise spoke with an air of nobility, "If anything dangerous happens, you can rely on me." There was nothing wrong with acting a little cool.
Despite no change in her familiars expression, Louise was sure her words had inspired it. "Now time for bed familiar." Louise said as she pulled the covers over her. The small Kyuubey complied by curling up at the foot of the bed. Louise saw no reason to object, the company of such a fine familiar was nice.
The following morning was probably the greatest morning Louise had ever had. She woke up with her familiar, got dressed with her familiar, and walked out of the dorms, head held high with her familiar resting on her shoulder. The small creature was surprisingly light. Sure, she was the only one who could see her familiar, but envied glances from her peers only served to bolster Louise's soaring confidence.
If Tabitha had summoned the noblest familiar in that dragon of hers, then Louise had summoned the most exotic and mysterious. If she cared to listen to rumors, Louise was sure she'd hear people guessing the nature of her familiar. Was it a Will-o-Wisp? Or maybe even a wind spirit? However, the joke was on her peers, even Louise, who had aced all non-practical classes had no idea what the Kyuubey was and she could see it! Louise quietly decided not to let that bit of information slip however.
Not willing to part with her new partner, Louise had brought it into the mess hall for breakfast. Sure, familiars weren't allowed inside, but no one could see it. Louise could barely contain her smile as she ate that morning. She couldn't remember what bacon usually tasted like, but it tasted like victory this morning.
Without a word to her peers, Louise left with true air of superiority, all eyes on her. Just as she reached the door, she gave a small piece of bacon to the Kyuubey. She could only imagine what those who saw a piece of food disappear would think. Life is good. She thought to herself.
It was with this happiness that Louise made her way to classes. She always tried to be early, and today was no different. However, she needed to drop off her familiar in the courtyard. Bringing the Kyuubey in to breakfast was one thing, but breaking rules in front of the teachers was another. "Alright familiar, you wait here with the other familiars while I go to classes."
The small animal hopped down and looked back up at her. "To study magic, yes?" It thought back. Louise nodded and made to leave. "I'll come with you." Her familiar stopped her. "I would like to see this." Louise actually wanted to bring her familiar, but the rules were clear, no familiars in class unless instructed otherwise. "Don't worry, I can't be seen by anyone, or smelled or heard for that matter."
Well, it wasn't like she'd get caught, and the teachers were pretty lax the first week after summoning. "Okay familiar, I will allow this just for you, but make sure you aren't noticed." A quick nod and a hop later, and the furry little creature was back on Louise's shoulder.
Classes had gone well that day. There was little practical application by students, and Louise had not been chosen at all. That was until Miss Chevreuse had picked her out to transmute some clay. Normally, such a spell would result in one thing. However, hadn't she summoned something grand? Didn't that prove she could do magic? Steeling herself, Louise followed the incantations and movements perfectly. Harnessing her power, Louise willed the clay into bronze.
For a brief moment, Louise believed she had done it, only to be blinded in a flash of destruction. A resounding explosion sent everyone toppling and destroyed the class room windows. When the smoke cleared, everyone began peeking out from behind their desks to find a ruffled and soot covered Louise.
"Hah! Failure as always Zero!"
That first call was preceded by more, yet Louise could barely hear them. Failure. Failure again. Hadn't things changed? Louise ignored the jests of her classmates, having no strength to rebuke them. At least her familiar was waiting at her seat. Despite being unable to read its constant single expression, Louise believed there was sympathy there for her. It wasn't much, but it was something.
That night Louise was sore. She had been made to clean the classroom after getting a scolding for causing a mess. It wasn't like she wantedto cause explosions; why did she have to be scolded? What had started as the best day ever, had finished with Louise feeling her worst.
At least… At least her familiar was here with her, sitting quietly at the foot of the bed. "Louise." Well, mostly quietly.
Sitting up, Louise made sure to keep her composure. It wouldn't do for her familiar to believe she was some doormat to be walked on. Despite her failures, she was still a Valliere and its master. "Yes familiar?" Louise asked curiously, the familiar remained silent usually; she could only assume it had something important to say. Maybe something to cheer her up, Louise mutely hoped.
"Your magic is a failure compared to your peers." Louise fell backward onto her pillow. Like that was news. Normally Louise would be angry at such a statement. But her familiar was obviously too naive to understand, and Louise had no strength to argue.
A small weight on her chest alerted her to her familiar. The small Kyuubey had jumped onto her and was staring into her eyes.
"How about you become a magical girl then?"