Actions

Work Header

Like One of Your Witch Girls

Work Text:

This story begins, and ends, with a portrait. Down a long, dark hallway, hidden behind a yellow velvet curtain, was a portrait of a boy. It was a perfectly normal portrait in a perfectly normal frame.

Aside from a large, dark scar on the side of the boy’s face, he was handsome enough. That may have been the reason the new owner of the house the portrait resided in was currently staring at it, entranced.

Or maybe the reason was the curse, but no, never mind. The lad was handsome, and that was that.

Wasn’t it?

~~

The second portrait elicited much the same reaction. Thomas stood and admired the boy behind the purple curtain with a single-minded intensity. Part of him was awed by the countenance of the second boy, while the rest of him wondered if all the long hallways in the newly-inherited house contained similarly enchanting portraits.

Aunt Patty sure had weird hobbies.

At final count, there were six portraits down six dark hallways. Each had a different color curtain over them, gold, purple, periwinkle, red, green, and navy. Each boy looked so hauntingly beautiful that Thomas found himself looking for much longer than he ought.

Explorations should never last too long, but this one definitely did, all because of the six paintings. Thomas didn’t even have time to take a peek down any other halls or into any other rooms before exhaustion caught up to him and he collapsed, dead asleep.

DONG
DONG
DONG

“You think the kiddo will be able to help?”

“He’ssss of the witch’sssss blood, he ought to.”

“You are sure that the curse being broken will result in our freedom, and not our ultimate demise?”

“If the Lying King thinks it will, it will, Calculator Watch.”

“Wh-what if- What if he can’t break the curse?”

“Then we break him, Virgey!”

“Doesss everyone know the plannn?”

A chorus of affirmations, and the halls went silent.

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

Thomas woke in the morning, feeling restless. The chiming of Aunt Patty’s grandfather clock disturbed his sleep every hour, on the hour. At three, he even thought he heard voices, but that would be impossible. Probably just the wind whistling through a cracked window or some such nonsense.

Little did he know that a plot was a-foot.

~~

When Thomas walked by the red curtain the next day, he noted that he hadn’t pulled the heavy fabric completely shut. When he went to do so, he stopped short.

Wasn’t the painting of the Prince here yesterday? Why was the Scientist in the elaborate gold frame instead?

He had named them all by archetype, so as to make them easier to organize in his head. Giving them random names seemed… wrong, somehow. As if it would be very insulting to the portraits indeed.

Still, surely it had been the Prince behind the red curtain, and the Scientist behind the navy?

Thomas went to investigate. Curiouser and curiouser, the Villain was behind the navy curtain, and, when Thomas checked, the Wizard was behind the green. He finally found the Prince
behind the purple, then the Baker behind the yellow, and finally the Assassin behind the periwinkle.

He went to sleep that night very unsettled indeed.

DONG
DONG
DONG

“I am of the opinion that he knows something is not as it seems.”

“After today, he has to be! What a smart kiddo!”

“Our strategy played out perfectly, if I do say so myself!”

My ssstrategy, you mean.”

“Of course it worked, RoRo! Dee wouldn’t ask us to do anything that wouldn’t!”

The sixth voice didn’t say anything.

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

There had definitely been voices last night. Thomas shot out of bed and began his investigations first thing. Once again, the boys in the portraits had changed places. This time the Baker was peering out at him from the Villain’s scaled frame, the Villain in the Scientist’s frame of rulers, the Wizard tucked into the Assassin’s silver bladed frame, the Scientist looking askance at
the Baker’s plain wooden frame, the Assassin looking uncomfortable in the brilliant gold of the Prince’s frame, and the Prince himself stuck in a perfectly normal frame, thank you very much.

Something was up, and Thomas was determined to figure out what it was. He set about making himself some cold-brew coffee that he could leave next to his bed, for speedy consumption when he heard the voices at night. He didn’t have the patience for haunted houses.

DONG
DONG
DONG

“Dee, I think that really worked! Can I add blood to the next frame, pleeeaaaaaseee?”

“Do not get blood on my swords, Remus, or I- I won’t let you get away with it.”

“No, Remusssss, follow the plannn.”

“I do not see why this plan is working, but I do appreciate that it is indeed working.”

“What is the plan again?”

“Roman, I cannot believe you-“ the portraits went silent.

Thomas had been the one to ask about the plan.

“Hi, guys. Can I help you?”

“We need your help, kidd-“

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

“Dammit!”

~~

DONG
DONG
DONG

“You came back!”

“Of course I did.” Thomas had so much caffeine in his system. “Why do you guys only talk at three a.m.?”

“It’s the witching hour. The only time magic lets us free.”

“Oh. Can I fix that?”

“You might be capable, according to our friend Dee.”

“Yesssss… You may be able to undo the curssssse.”

“How do I do that?”

“Blood!”

“Shut up, bro.”

“I want Patton to make me.”

“Remusssss, you-“

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

Hours passed quickly when you were trying to hear all six portraits. Each one would only say one line, and Thomas had to make his way to the next portrait who wanted to speak. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

After thinking about it for some time, he made the executive decision to move all the portraits to a single location. The living room was probably large enough. Throughout the day, he took great care lifting the heavy paintings off the walls, situating them on a dolly he’d scrounged up, and wheeling them through the halls to the living room.

It took him all day, and by the time the sun was setting, he knew he wouldn’t be able to talk to the portraits that night. He was just too tired.

DONG
DONG
DONG

“My beloved! How wonderful it is to see your face again!”

“Not sssso fassst, Roman.”

“We do not know the intent of putting us together like this. Perhaps a new form of torture?”

“I’m just happy to see you all again, and know you’re safe! It’s one thing hearing your voices, but…”

“I get it, Pat. I worry that something has gone wrong with the paintings themselves, somehow.”

“None of you got uglier. That’s not fair.”

“Why isssn’t it fair? You haven’t changed either.”

“Just isn’t.”

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

Thomas was ready for his three am conference call. At least, he joked to himself throughout the day, that’s what it felt like.

DONG
DONG
DONG

“Might I ask why you brought us together like this?”

“Sure. Figured it would be easier to talk to all of you at once, get the whole story.” Thomas shrugged. The boys had all gone back to their regular frames the night before.

“We were cursed, kiddo! Or, that’s what it feels like, at least.”

“The painting we ussssed to ussssse, one that could hold more than onnne portrait, something happened to it.”

“Now we just jump from painting to painting like lost socks!”

“It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. That painting was always open. These only open at the witching hour.”

“Is the painting still in this house?”

All six boys shrugged.

“Will something happen if I go looking for it?”

“Not asss far asss we know.”

“Cool. See you guys tomorrow!”

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

After a few days of searching (with a few nights listening to the boys talk in between), Thomas found a painting in the attic. The canvas was ripped from corner to corner, striking straight through a lone figure sitting in the middle. As Thomas reached to hold the two sides together, he cut himself on a stray piece of glass on the floor.

“Ow!”

His blood accidentally hit the canvas, and a bright light filled the room.

To Thomas’ astonishment, the tear on the canvas gently mended itself, putting the pieces back together and reuniting the two halves of the figure in the middle. His surprise was even greater when he realized the figure was morphing from something that looked like Aunt Patty, to a figure who looked more like him!

Thomas got out his trusty dolly and hauled the new, much larger, painting down to the living room. It was nearing noon, and he was dirty, tired, and hungry.

DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG
DONG

Six boys found themselves sitting in a large circular room, with a door on one side. Each pair flew into each other’s arms, and they sat, waiting for their new witch to visit the portrait. His figure sat solid in the center, waiting, waiting for his consciousness to open the door.

It wouldn’t be long until three am.