Kun had just finished adding three drops of wormwood essence to his potion bubbling away on the stove, the liquid turning a lovely shade of dark violet, when he heard a familiar shriek from one of the bedrooms upstairs. The deep forest green color of the diamond-shaped gemstone set into the ring on his fourth finger swirled into a cloudy gray. Ten was anxious. He checked the other ring, on his middle finger, and saw that it was still a light shade of purple, meaning Johnny was mostly fine, perhaps a little excited.
Kun’s eyebrows knit together in his forehead as he charmed the wooden spoon he was using to mix the potion with to remain in motion while he set the burner on low. Luckily, the potion would be fine simmering away for the foreseeable future, as it needed to thicken and there was no telling when the elements within would decide to give up moisture. He trod up the stairs, passing a series of photos on the way up that captured Johnny, Kun, and Ten throughout the years. Together, then not, then together again.
Smoke seeped out from under the doorway of Ten’s room, but this in itself was not cause for alarm.
Kun knocked. “Everything okay in there?”
He heard Johnny snickering quietly; then, the door opened and Johnny started laughing with zeal. “Kun—! Oh, we’re all fine here. Aren’t we?” Johnny opened the door wider and stepped to the side. “All of us.”
Kun looked at him oddly. “Uh, okay…? That’s good.” The smoke began to clear, and he could hear Louis and Leon, Ten’s cats, now meowing needily and incessantly. He waved a hand in front of his face and coughed, stepping inside. “Ten?”
“It’s not my fault!” Ten said immediately from his place cross-legged on the floor in front of a very small spell circle drawn in white chalk. He was holding Louis, who was squirming and looking smaller than usual, to his chest. “I just wanted to prove that Doyoung was wrong! That I could do it! But then Louis stepped into the circle…”
Kun jumped when Louis brushed his little head against Kun’s calf as he threaded himself between his legs, his tail arched high in the air. But wait, Louis was in Ten’s lap. And Louis was trying to climb up Johnny’s jogger-clad leg. And Louis was on Ten’s giant, king-sized bed, kneading the sheets with his tiny, soft paws.
Leon circled Ten slowly, sniffing at the Louis in his arms cautiously. At least there was only one Leon that Kun could see.
Something was not right about the Louises in the room, outside of the sheer number of them, and Kun stared and stared at the one between his feet before it came to him: they were kittens! Tiny, adorable, round kittens that were more fuzz than mass, all of them wearing the same face, darkest at the tip of Louis’ nose.
“That spell is meant for inanimate objects!” Kun chastised Ten, stepping into the room and closing the door so that none of the Louises could escape. “Ten!”
“I was just trying to multiply one of Louis’ toys, promise!” Ten said in a squeaky, panicked voice.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine ,” Johnny said, oozing calm. He scooped the tiny Louis that had made his way to his knee into one arm, cradling him in the crook of his elbow like Louis was a baby or an American football. Louis batted his paw at Johnny’s stubbly chin. “Look, we have four—wait, five—Louises now, and all of them are just fine .”
Another Louis darted out from under Ten’s bed and hopped up onto the window sill, lingering precariously close to Ten’s potted philodendron.
“We can’t have 6 cats!” Kun cried, thinking of his precious kitchen and the many pots that were always bubbling away on the stove, day in and day out. It was hard enough shepherding two cats away from the enticing smells and self-stirring ladles. He couldn’t deal with six! “Ten, you need to get rid of them!”
“We can’t just get rid of them,” Ten gasped, scandalized. He held his hands over Louis’ ears.
“We could give them up for adoption,” Kun reasoned. His mind worked quickly, thinking of a solution. “There are always other witches looking for familiars. And Louis is a great familiar.”
“But,” Ten sniffed, eyes wet and huge, “but they’re all Louis…”
There was nothing Kun could do when Ten looked at him like that. It got him right in the chest and deep in his heart. He glanced pleadingly at Johnny, but Johnny was just as whipped as Kun was, and Ten knew it.
“I suppose we can figure something out,” Johnny said, tipping his Louis into Ten’s lap to join the other Louis. The two kittens bumped noses then curled around each other over Ten’s thighs, purring. “Kun?”
“Right,” Kun said, snapping out of the trance he had fallen into while watching Ten coo at the kittens. “Yes. Right. We can figure something out.”
An hour later, Kun—with Ten and Johnny’s help—had drafted a spell that he firmly believed would make all the Louis kittens just one cat again. It involved redrawing the spell circle in black instead of white, reciting the incantation Ten had used backwards three times, and enticing all five Louises into the spell circle at once, which was proving to be the most difficult part of all.
“No, no stop following me,” Ten said, words lilting playfully as two Louises trailed him out of the spell circle and pawed at his bare ankles, meowing for attention. Two others were getting ready to pounce on the laser pointer light Johnny was shining into the middle of the circle, and the last Louis was hissing at Kun for no apparent reason at all.
Kun hissed at Louis right back and plopped himself down onto the floor. His hair was a mess, plastered all over his forehead with sweat after chasing the energetic kittens all over Ten’s room. Louis held up a paw with his claws out threateningly, but then climbed into Kun’s lap and curled himself into a little fluffy ball.
Kun looked at Ten’s mood ring on his finger—yellow—and sighed. “Ten, Louis can sense you’re being indecisive about this and that’s why he’s not cooperating. You have to want this.”
“Why would I want one Louis when I can have five?” Ten asked, on the floor again as well with now three kittens in his arms—one had given up on the laser. Leon butted his head against Ten’s knee, not wanting to be forgotten. “Aren’t they cute? They’re so cute.”
“They are cute,” Johnny added unhelpfully.
Ten smushed one of the Louis’ faces against his cheek and from across the room, Kun could hear them both purring. Though heartwarming, Kun knew he had to remain firm.
“Ten, do you really want to have to clean 6 cats’ worth of litter boxes every day?”
Ten’s face fell.
Immediately, the Louis in Kun’s lap yowled and leapt from his thighs toward the circle, pricking Kun with his claws in the process. Kun scowled at the kitten, who looked smug as he sat down beside the one still focused on Johnny’s laser, but silently thanked him for being a model to the others. The Louises in Ten’s arms slinked out of his hold and toward the circle as well. Leon followed.
“Not you, buddy,” Johnny said, lifting Leon into the air.
Kun counted the kittens in the circle. Five Louises. He nodded. “Okay, Ten. Do it now.”
Ten hesitated, and one of the Louises stuck his paw outside of the circle in response.
“Ten,” Kun said sternly, but kindly.
Ten sighed sadly. “Okay…” He recited the incantation backwards three times, and they all had to shut their eyes against the light residue from the spell. When it was done and the light had faded, there was just one plump Louis in the circle.
Ten stretched out his arms, and Louis padded forward into them. “Hey, my love,” Ten said, snuggling him close.
Kun breathed out and felt the tension release from his shoulders, and then he remembered: “Oh, my stars, my potion!”
The potion had turned out perfectly, becoming just the right viscosity and shade of violet, and Kun had happily bottled it up into two dozen small vials he was planning to gift to their friends at the next full moon gathering. Feeling accomplished by this and the creative spellwork earlier in the day, he went to bed satisfied.
Tonight, they were gathered in Johnny’s room. Johnny had charmed his ceiling to look like the night sky, and as Kun and Ten curled up under each one of Johnny’s arms on his soft giant bed, Kun thought to himself that he was one of the lucky ones.
“I love you both,” Kun whispered, looking at the stars, smelling Johnny’s minty fresh body wash.
“We’re pretty good together, aren’t we?” Johnny hummed, his arm tightening.
Kun heard Ten’s soft sigh on Johnny’s other side and smiled. Kun said, “Yeah, every day is a new adventure.”
Johnny chuckled. “A new adventure filled with new lessons. So what lesson did we learn today?”
Kun tossed his leg over Johnny’s and propped himself up so that he could see Ten and the contrite expression slowly forming on his face.
“Don’t listen to Doyoung?” Ten tried. “Oh! I know. Don’t take Doyoung seriously.”
Leon hopped onto the bed with them lightly and curled up beside the mound in the blankets that was Kun’s feet. Shortly after, Louis hopped up too, but proceeded to walk across Johnny’s body so that he could wrap himself around Ten’s head on the pillow.
“Oof! Louis, that’s— huh ,” Johnny paused. “Did he lose some weight?”
From under the bed, Kun heard a tiny mew that came from neither Leon nor Louis. "Weird," Kun said, confused, before his eyes widened in sudden realization.
Ten swallowed. “So, Kun, remember how you said you loved us…?”