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Hi, uh, friends?

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“Luz, come on, you’ve been trying to find a solution to the portal issue for the past week and you’re hardly making any progress,” Amity pushed.

Luz gave her girlfriend a soft glare.

“Wow, thanks for pointing it out,” she grumbled.

“That’s not what I meant! What I’m trying to say is that you’re getting burnt out. A break will do you good.”

Amity sat down next to Luz and placed her hands on the human’s shoulders, massaging them gently to relieve some stress.

Luz sighed, “I know. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be so negative. I’m just kinda frustrated, but I shouldn’t be taking it out on you.”

“So you’ll take a break for today?” Amity asked hopefully.

“Amity…”

“Please?”

“Amity, I need to figure this out. The longer we’re here, the more time there is in the Boiling Isles for…”

Amity felt Luz tense back up under her hands.

“I know, Luz, but you’ve hit a wall. It will be more productive to leave it alone for a little while and come back with a fresh mind later.”

Luz bit her lip and glanced to the side, considering Amity’s argument.

Desperate to stop Luz from working herself to exhaustion for another entire day, Amity pulled out her last resort.

“What if today you showed me around the town?” she proposed persuasively.

Luz met Amity’s expectant gaze and stared for a few seconds before finally breaking.

“Okay,” she agreed, cracking the smallest of smiles.

Amity grinned back and jumped to her feet.

“But only for a little bit!” Luz rushed.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, let’s go!” she said, reaching for Luz’s arm to pull her up.

Luz quickly grabbed a hoodie and slid it on before scavenging for a beanie from her closet so Amity could hide her ears. Tossing the hat she found to her girlfriend, she led them out of her room and downstairs to look for Camila.

They checked the living room first. Camila was not there, but Gus, Willow, and Hunter were.

“Hey, guys,” Luz greeted them, receiving a variety of similar greetings in return. “Amity and I were thinking about going out today, so we’ll see you later.”

“Ooh, can I come?” Gus wondered excitedly.

Willow elbowed him in the side. Gus looked pained, then confused, and then the realization washed over his face.

“Ohhh, gotcha, it’s- it’s a girlfriend thing, okay. Welp! Have fun! I’m gonna curl up into a ball and overthink now haha!”

Luz smiled and walked closer so she could pat Gus’s head.

“Aw, noo, it’s okay, Gus. I’ll take you out on an explore soon, how’s that sound? I already have tons of things I know you would love to see!”

“I’ll look forward to it. Have fun on your daaaate~” he teased.

Luz laughed, “We will, Gus.”

Luz led Amity into the kitchen next. Camila and Vee stood at the counter making some breakfast foods. Vee noticed them first.

“Hey, Vee,” Luz said.

Camila looked up to see Luz and Amity in the doorway and smiled.

“Good morning, mija, Amity.”

“Morning, mom. I’m gonna take Amity out for a bit and show her around, is that okay?”

“Oh, sure, that’s a lovely idea! You guys should go to the park; the trees are just starting to turn!”

“Turn?” Amity asked.

Luz chuckled.

“I’ll explain it to you on the way, hermosa. Shall we?”

Luz held out her hand.

----------

As it turned out, trees on the Isles did not change color. Luz was happy that Amity would get to see this wonder of the Human Realm, but since the trees in the isles were naturally orange, it wasn’t as impressive to Amity as they’d wanted it to be. However, Luz did still get the joy of watching Amity marvel at the idea of trees basically dying and reviving themselves every year. Amity had decided that, as a magic expert herself, the biological process was indeed magical.

But a short walk through the park left Amity more and more in awe of the beauty of Earth. Forget resurrecting trees, how about the autumn lilies?! And the weird pit that human children used to prevent others from escaping as they tormented each other with a ball? Incredible. Considering how many times she played and almost annihilated the kids , Amity definitely had a taste for the human game.

All in all, Amity was floored, and needless to say, that made Luz very excited.

When Luz got sick of the park (Amity could’ve stayed there all day if Luz hadn’t pulled her off of the tire swing), they decided to move onto other Gravesfield attractions. With the ice cream shop as their next destination, Luz and Amity walked across town at a leisurely pace, Luz pointing things out occasionally along the way.

But one poorly timed glance across the street left Luz wishing she had stayed home after all.

It took only a second for her to place the faces. A goth-like character, a kind of dudebro looking guy, and a third, chill-appearing person. They were Vee’s friends.

Vee’s friends who were looking straight at Luz. Vee’s friends who were waving at Luz. Vee’s friends who were starting to cross the street towards Luz.

Snapping out of her daze, Luz jumped and grabbed Amity’s arm, making an attempt to escape the confrontation.

“Luz! Hey!” the goth shouted.

Grimacing, Luz stopped running away and turned around slowly. There was no avoiding this.

Luz grasped desperately at the edges of her mind, searching frantically for a scrap of a memory from when she saw Vee interact with them, but nowhere in that memory could she recall a single name.

Steeling herself, Luz prepared for what was sure to be a disaster.

“Hi, uh, friends?” she started timidly.

“Hey, Luz,” said the chill one.

The dudebro nodded in greeting, “’Sup.”

“Uhaha uhmm y’know, uhh. Ha. Nothing. Um. Yeah.”

Goth snorted, but (thankfully) didn’t question Luz’s awkwardness.

“Who’s this?” Goth asked.

“Oh,” Luz squeaked, “um!”

She gulped. In all of this, she had forgotten Amity was even there! How was she supposed to answer that question?? She couldn’t say Amity was a friend from camp; these were “her” friends from camp! Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh—

“I’m Amity,” the witch chimed in. “Luz and I met at a book signing when we were kids.”

Luz could’ve sworn she loved Amity even more in that moment. She would have to give her a hundred kisses later for being so quick on her feet.

“That’s right!” Luz confirmed. “Amity is also an avid Azura fan.”

“Avid Azura fan? Huh, you’ve never talked about it before. Kinda like you never mentioned Amity before.”

Luz froze. Right. These weren’t her friends. How much of the real Luz would they even like?

Amity took Luz’s hand and squeezed it gently in reassurance.

“Oh, it’s uh, not too popular of a series, so we kinda like to lie low about it,” Amity lied. “We’ve both gotten bullied about it before, y’know?”

The way her voice quieted told Luz that maybe the second part was more truthful.

Goth nodded in understanding before Amity continued.

“As for me, well, Luz and I only reconnect every few years when I’m in town. My family moved away a while ago, so we kinda forget to keep in touch sometimes, but when we do get together it’s like no time has passed.” Amity smiled kindly. “The last time we saw each other was a couple years back, so I’m not too surprised I haven’t come up in conversation.”

Wow, Luz reeeaally wanted to kiss Amity.

“It’s nice to meet you, though!” Amity said. “What are your guys’ names?”

Luz’s girlfriend was an absolute genius. Kisses. As soon as the friends were gone.

Dudebro went first, smiling confidently.

“I’m Michael.”

“Masha,” said Goth.

“Sam,” followed Chill.

“Yup!” Luz said excitedly. “These are my friends from Gravesfield, Amity!”

“So, Amity, how long are you in town for?” Sam wondered.

“Oh, um. A while,” Amity stammered out. “A couple months, probably.”

The friends’ eyes all widened simultaneously. Michael reacted first.

“Woah, really? How come?”

Amity stiffened, finally running out of excuses. Luckily, Luz had her covered this time.

“She needed to get away from home for a bit. Her parents are…going through a divorce? I think? To be honest it’s not clear if they were ever married in the first place.”

Amity let out a breathy laugh.

“Yikes,” said Michael, “sorry I asked.”

“Don’t be. I’m honestly kinda happy about the divorce. My mom’s a bitch.”

“Ha! I like you,” Masha laughed heartily. “Hey, since you’ll still be around, you wanna come to my party this weekend?”

“A party?” Amity asked, unsure.

“Yeah! I mean, it’ll be more like a ~social gathering~ with how few people are actually gonna be there, but you’re welcome to join us, right Luz?”

“Oh! Ummm. Yeah! That would be cool! You should definitely come, Ams!”

Luz was gone for a few months and Vee was already getting invited to parties??? Damn. A heads up about the developments in her social life would have been appreciated…

“Great! Luz can fill you in on the details.”

Oh. Oops. Luz had just agreed for Amity to go to a party with a bunch of strangers and only Vee by her side. No wonder she seemed so tense.

Oh well, not much they could do to fix that right now. Once they got back home, they could make a game plan with Vee.

“Uh, yeah! Yes. That is something I can do,” Luz said quickly, realizing she needed to respond. “Anyway! We don’t wanna keep you guys, and, uh, y’know. Still gotta get to our destination before my mom wants us home, so. We should probably get going! Right, Amity?”

“Right! Yes, let’s go! Um, nice meeting you all!”

The friends all reciprocated the sentiment and waved confusedly as Luz practically dragged Amity away from them.

Once out of sight, Luz finally relaxed, heaving a sigh.

“Oh my gosh that was terrifying.”

“I can’t believe that worked,” Amity said, still in shock.

“I need to have a serious conversation with Vee about her social life. And I’m so sorry for getting you into a commitment like that! Agh, what was I thinking?!” Luz groaned, bringing her hands up to her face.

“It’s fine. It’s fine! Vee can just say that something came up and I can’t go. Right?” Amity was definitely trying to reassure herself more than Luz.

“Right! Okay, this is fine. Everything is great. Right?”

“Right!”

“Right.”

They walked a few paces in silence before Luz spoke again.

“Thank you, by the way. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t been right up there with that excuse, my smart, beautiful sweet potato.”

Luz planted a kiss onto Amity’s cheek.

“Oh! Haha! It’s uh, no problem,” Amity stuttered, face red and covered in a toothy smile. “Sooo, how much farther to the…wait, where were we going again?”

“Actually, we’re here!” Luz proclaimed, running a few feet ahead to gesture grandly at a storefront. “The Gravesfield Creamery! Much like the Demon Realm’s eye scream, us humans have ice cream,” she continued excitedly, making sure to pronounce “ice” and “cream” very clearly.

Luz took Amity’s hand again and led her inside enthusiastically. She brought the witch to the counter, letting her look on in awe at the variety of flavors before her.

“So,” Luz explained, “you can either get it in a cone or a bowl, and you can pick one flavor or two or even three! I know it’s a little overwhelming, so if you want me to say your order for you, I can.”

“Okay,” Amity peeped, grateful for the offer she definitely would be taking. “There are so many options. How does anyone choose???”

Luz chuckled at her girlfriend’s nervousness.

“Yeah, it’s hard. Just think about what flavors you like!”

Amity squinted through the glass at the labels.

“Well, back home I usually get crabapple, but I don’t think you guys have that…what’s ‘strawberry’?”

Luz let out a sad squeal.

“Only the best fruit ever! Well besides mango, raspberries, peaches, cherries, blueberries— well, all the fruits really,” she trailed off.

Amity grew more confused with every word.

Instead of trying to make sense of Luz’s ramblings, Amity opted to turn back to the glass and keep searching. Unfortunately, none of the names seemed to make any sense. “Choc-o-late”? “Coffee”? “Rocky road”???? Why would anyone want to eat rocks???

“Uh…Luz? I don’t know, this is really confusing.”

“Aw, that’s okay, amor. Do you want me to just pick one for you?”

Amity nodded her head vigorously.

“Okay,” Luz smiled, walking up to the register.

Amity wasn’t sure what she was expecting five minutes later when Luz handed her a cone with “vanilla” ice cream and led her back outside holding her own “sor-bay,” but it definitely wasn’t the most beautiful taste in the entire universe. As soon as her timid tongue touched the tip of her ice cream scoop, she was consumed by its otherworldly (literally) flavor. It was sweet and cool and refreshing and perfect. There was no taste on the Boiling Isles she could even begin to compare this to.

So naturally, having had a sample of what must’ve actually been happiness itself, Amity followed up with the only reasonable action: quickly stuffing her face with more of it. She was only stopped by the sound of her girlfriend’s cute laugh from her side.

Amity looked up at Luz as Luz reached out to wipe off the ice cream Amity had gotten on her nose.

“Careful, batata, keep eating it that fast and you’ll get brain freeze,” Luz giggled.

Amity stiffened at that.

“‘Brain freeze’??? It’s gonna freeze my brain?! Luz, why didn’t you tell me?! Why are we eating it?!?!”

“Hey, hey, calm down, it’s okay,” Luz reassured, trying to calm her panicking girlfriend. “It’s just a human expression. Your brain doesn’t actually freeze, it just hurts for a few seconds if you consume cold things too quickly. I promise I wouldn’t give you something that could hurt you.”

Amity let out a huff, knowing that Luz was right but still feeling a bit shaken.

“Ugh, this human stuff is all so confusing,” she pouted.

Luz smirked and elbowed her lightly.

“Well, good thing you have an excellent guide, huh?”

Satisfied when the comment elicited a smile from Amity, Luz used her free hand to take Amity’s and started walking them back to her house as they ate their desserts contentedly.

It wasn’t until about five minutes into their walk that Luz spotted a familiar head of blond and pink hair. Immediately tensing, she cursed the universe for its unfairness.

There was no way she could be so unlucky as to run into all these people. Why were they all just out on the street today (well, it was a beautiful day, so logically—no! Focus! Bully in sight! Stay clear!!!)!

Looking straight at the ground and suddenly pulling Amity along faster, Luz attempted to speed-walk past Clara and avoid detection. Unfortunately, Amity noticed the change in behavior—because of course she would—and decided to ask Luz what was wrong, an action that usually would’ve made Luz’s heart melt because of its implication that Amity was paying attention and cared about her. However, this time…Luz was less than grateful for the inquiry as it accomplished the exact opposite of Luz’s goals and attracted the attention of the girl Luz was hoping to never interact with again.

“Luz?”

Ah, shit.

Luz hesitated before turning, as if that could prevent the conversation that was about to take place.

“Heeeey, Clara…” she said awkwardly, wincing on the inside.

She bit the inside of her cheek, waiting for some sort of harsh remark. A “How much did you have to pay her to pretend to be your friend?” or maybe a bite at the fact she was holding hands with someone.

But Luz was baffled when Clara just stood there.

“Uh,” she started, confused at Clara’s behavior, “how’s it going?”

Luz gulped. Clara had a blank expression on her face, so different from the sneer Luz was used to seeing from her. Luz noticed her eyes weren’t focused on Luz’s face, but instead they were trained down at something.

Luz followed the blonde’s gaze. She landed on her hand holding Amity’s.

Oh, so that was what she was going to get teased about. Clara must have just been shocked. Luz couldn’t really blame her; most days she herself was still shocked she was with Amity.

But when Clara finally spoke up, it was not the merciless attack Luz had expected.

Clara kept her eyes down and scarily calmly said, “Luz. Who is this?”

Luz shifted uncomfortably. What was happening???

Luz waited another moment, unsure if Clara had more to say, but when it became clear the girl wanted an answer, she complied nervously.

“Oh. Um. This is Amity.”

Clara breathed in aggressively and let the air out with a similar level of force.

“Why is Amity holding your hand?” she asked Luz, still using that strange, terrifying tone.

Luz timidly raised an eyebrow.

“What?” she responded. “I’m not sure I—”

“Why does it look like you and Amity are on an ice cream date?” Clara interrupted, the calm finally melting away in favor of what appeared to be anger.

Luz was beyond perplexed now.

Having no idea what to say, she just repeated, “What?”

“What do you mean ‘what’?! Why are you being romantic with another girl?”

Luz was taken aback, to say the least. “Another” implied that there was a first girl. And…maybe Luz needed her eyes checked because was that a look of hurt in Clara’s eyes?

Amity didn’t know how to react to the situation at hand, and she couldn’t read it any better than Luz could, so she just stood there tensely, looking back and forth between the two humans.

Luz opened and closed her mouth a few times, very uncertain as to how to reply to Clara. Finally Clara broke the silence.

“Are you cheating on me?” the girl said softly.

And yes, that most definitely was a look of hurt.

But also—whAT?!

“Excuse me?!” Luz voiced, startled. “What are you— what?!”

Clara just looked more and more upset while Luz looked more and more puzzled.

Amity was the one to connect the pieces.

“You’re dating Vee!” Amity gasped.

Now Clara was the one who looked confused. Luz’s face was overcome with realization.

“Oooooohhhhhhhhhh,” Luz exclaimed, shortly followed by, “Wait, still, WHAT? How did—?!?! How?! What????”

“What?” Amity asked, wondering why Luz was reacting so strongly.

“You were, like, my number one bully! How did you end up in a relationship with me???”

Clara curled in on herself.

“Gosh, you don’t have to remind me. I feel bad enough about it as is.”

“But?? You never felt bad before! You were mean to me for years! What?? What even happened?!”

Amity interjected, “Well, to be fair, I bullied you too and look at us now.”

“But that’s different, that’s— that’s—”

“It’s not that different. Plus Vee wouldn’t have known about the bullying.”

“Ugh, I didn’t even think about that! When we get back, I’m going to have to give Vee a strict talking-to concerning my relationships! She could’ve at least warned me,” Luz groaned.

“Somebody explain what’s going on, please!” Clara shouted. “Who’s Vee?!”

Luz stilled.

“Oh. Uhh.”

Luz glanced at Amity, wondering how much was okay to disclose to Clara, but she’d just gotten a sister and she really didn’t want to screw things up by ruining her relationship. And it seemed the only way to do that was to tell the truth.

“Okay. Um, how do I put this? I am not the Luz you have been interacting with for the past few months.”

Clara gave her an upset look.

“The hell is that supposed to mean?!”

“It means— well— ugh, this is a mess. Just— give me a sec.”

Luz pulled out her phone and quickly dialed her mom’s number, placing the phone on speaker. Camila answered after a few rings.

“Mija? Is everything okay?”

“Yes? Kinda. Um, is Vee there?”

“Yes.”

“Can you put her on?” Luz requested cautiously.

“Oh, uh, sure,” Camila agreed.

There was some shuffling on the other end before it settled back down and a new voice sounded.

“Hello?” Vee said.

“Hey, Vee,” Luz greeted. “So…funny story. We, uh, we ran into Clara…”

There was silence for a few seconds, then Vee shrieked.

“You WHAT?! Please tell me she didn’t see you,” she worried.

“Yeah, um, about that.”

“Luz?” Clara asked. “What’s going on?”

“LUZ!” Vee yelled.

“Hey, it’s not my fault you changed my relationship status and didn’t bother to tell me! Besides, she just noticed me and came over, it’s not like I wanted to talk to the girl who bullied me for years!”

“Luz! Stop it! Clara, don’t pay her any mind, okay? I’m sorry they’re giving you trouble.”

“Wooooow, you’re siding with her? It’s not even—”

“Guys!” Amity cut her off. “You can work out your sibling drama later. Right now we should really focus on explaining things.”

Luz snapped her gaze back to Clara, noting the increasingly overwhelmed expression the girl was adopting.

“Right. Sorry.”

“Yes, okay. Clara, I am so sorry you’re finding out like this.”

“Finding out what?” Clara asked, exasperated.

“I…I’m not Luz. My real name is Vee. There’s more to it, but I’d rather tell you the rest in person.”

Clara was speechless.

“I…I don’t understand,” she finally got out.

“Hang on,” Vee sighed. There was a long pause and more static on Vee’s end, but this time it was louder and more constant.

“Where are you guys? Nevermind, I see you.”

Luz was about to ask for clarification, but Vee hung up suddenly. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Vee emerged from behind a nearby building and approached the trio.

“Luz? How did you— but you’re—??” Clara stammered, looking between Luz and Vee.

“Clara, hi, I…well, the thing is, uhm. Ugh, this is scary.”

“You two want a minute?” Luz asked.

Vee nodded sadly. Luz tried to give Vee an encouraging smile before she and Amity turned and started walking back to the house again.

Luz looked down at her pitiful, melted sorbet.

“Aw, it’s just fruit water now,” she complained.

At least she’d gotten hers in a bowl, unlike—

Luz whipped her head to her girlfriend.

“Oh my gosh, Amity, yours must be—wait, where is yours?”

“Hm?” Amity asked.

“Your ice cream cone. Where did it go?”

“Oh. I finished it a while ago. Like, before all that,” Amity gestured vaguely in the direction of where they’d left Vee and Clara.

Luz gaped.

“You ate a whole cone in five minutes?!”

“Um, yes? Is that bad?”

“I will never understand witch biology,” Luz muttered, shaking her head.

Amity chuckled.

“Good thing you have an excellent guide, then, huh?” she smirked, prompting Luz to give a matching grin.

“Yeah,” Luz laughed, “good thing.”

Luz leaned over and gave Amity another kiss on the cheek.