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LUNA THE MAGICKLESS FLUFF
© 2020, Molly Fitz.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Editor: Jennifer Lopez, Mistress with the Red Pen
Cover & Graphics Designer: Melony Paradise
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.
About This Story
Where It Fits
ABOUT THIS STORY
If you’ve never been to a magical cat wedding, then you are definitely missing out! But with so many supernatural creatures gathered in one small space, there’s bound to be a kerfuffle or two. Luckily, Gracie Springs, resident human, wedding planner, and familiar extraordinaire, is on the case.
WHERE IT FITS
LUNA THE MAGICKLESS FLUFF can be read as a stand-alone, but chronologically it fits between MERLIN FIGHTS A GHOST and MERLIN KILLS A ZOMBIE… Enjoy!
My name is Gracie Springs. I’m a part-time barista and full-time familiar to my magical Maine Coon Merlin.
Yes, as it turns out, magic is very real. Although around my small South Georgia town of Elderberry Heights, it’s wielded by cats far more than people.
In fact, my main job as Merlin’s right-hand gal is to serve as a vessel for his magical overflow. I can’t do anything with it myself, but when I’m around, he’s much more powerful. That’s a good thing, because he’s got a handful of enemies, any of whom would love to take me down right along with him.
We’ve also made some fantastic friends during our time together. Most notably, Luna, a gorgeous white cat and former witch. She gave up her magical powers to save Merlin and me from almost certain death. Of course, she retains her knowledge of all things magic, but can’t actually perform any on her own. She and Merlin are crazy in love and even expecting a litter of kittens together!
They’ve decided to get married, even though that’s not something cats usually worry about. It’s my fault, really, for bringing it up in the first place.
Now they’re expecting a lavish affair, and they’ve graciously voluntold me to plan it. They’ve also given me less than a week to do so.
Yeah… This would be a difficult task to complete within the given timeframe for a simple, run-of-the-mill human wedding. A magical cat wedding, however, comes with so many added complications that my job as their pro bono wedding planner is practically impossible.
First and of foremost concern, I have to find a way to herd cats from their hidden night city, Nocturna, over to our mortal realm. I also need to make sure no non-magic folk stumble upon the celebration and start asking questions.
I can’t exactly stop showing up for my shifts at work, and I can’t take vacation since I’m not going anywhere. Elderberry Heights is a small town, which means the gossip mill is always churning. There’s no way I could avoid someone spotting me during my fake-cation and then reporting back to my boss at the coffee shop. And that would bring questions I have no possible way of answering. I’m not the best at lying, and I’m not exactly allowed to share the truth about what my cat is, either.
This means somehow, I need to figure out a way to do it all, no matter how much it seems I can’t.
Who needs sleep anyway?
“Will you turn that down please?” I asked Merlin for at least the fifth time that afternoon.
“Relax. It’s almost over,” my cat said, snuggling closer to his intended on the couch as the two watched yet another wedding rom-com on my iPad.
While I was hard at work making the actual preparations, Merlin had made it his mission to study up on human wedding customs via some top one-hundred list he’d found online. And as distracted as I’ve been this past week, I realized too late that he’d used my credit card to purchase them all, even the ones he could have watched for free via Netflix.
Add together the cost of all those movies plus the various wedding bric-a-brac, and this whole thing was costing me an arm and a leg—or maybe a kidney. Those were still worth good money on the black market, right?
Honestly, there was no way I could have ever hoped to afford all this if I wasn’t already living rent-free in the house my grandmother gifted to me when she retired to the Florida Keys. Whatever tiny savings buffer I’d built up had now been obliterated, and I was afraid to find out how much of my future income I’d lose when my next credit card statement came due.
At least I knew my cats were madly in love and would stay together for the rest of their nine lives. And since I was single and planned to stay that way for the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t have my own wedding to bankroll anytime soon.
“Oh, Gracie!” Merlin cooed a short while later, his green eyes wide with wonder. “Come look at this. Jane has twenty-seven bridesmaids. Do you think we should add some more, too?”
“No!” Luna and I shouted at the same time.
He balked at the both of us and then casually licked a paw. “It was just an idea. I’d hate for our wedding to be upstaged by a human one.”
“It’s Hollywood,” I explained with a heavy sigh. “It’s not real.”
“Don’t worry, dear. Our wedding will be perfect,” Luna purred. “Isn’t that right, Gracie?”
“Right,” I said, then bit my bottom lip before I could add anything else to that statement. Talk about pressure!
Both cats watched me as if waiting for me to finally crack. When I couldn’t take it for even another second, I threw my hands up in the air. “All right. I’m going outside to finish setting up for tomorrow. It’s a little after five, which means, Merlin, you’ll need to head over to Nocturna to escort the guests in a couple of hours.”
He actually had the audacity to yawn. “Yes, yes, I know.”
I turned to the all-white cat. “Luna, stay inside. I want the venue to be a surprise for tomorrow. So no peeking!”
She nodded pertly. “You have my word.”
“Good. See you guys in a bit.” I moved toward the door and slid my feet into my favorite pair of flip-flops.
“Hey, Gracie,” Merlin called from where he still lounged on the couch. “What are we doing for my bachelor party? Should I wear anything special?”
My mouth fell open. “Your what?”
“I know some humans like to hire a stripper, but I hope you haven’t done that for me. First of all, hairless cats are gross. Second of all, naked humans are even grosser. And most importantly of all, I only have eyes for my Luna.”
And with that lovely visual, I ran outside and slammed the door behind me. For once I was happy the cats weren’t trying to offer any help.
I took one last stroll through the beautiful wedding garden I had prepared, enjoying the fresh air and relative silence. As a former garden witch, Luna loved to be among nature. Our tiny suburb boasted mature trees and well-kept lawns, but not much else. Creating this special place in the backyard was my gift to her. I’d even managed to find some of the herbs she’d once kept for mixing potions and planted those in the far corner of the yard where they were less likely to get trampled by guests.
Putting that together for her was the easiest part of this whole thing. I still had the list of ingredients Luna had used to bind the ghost of her former familiar to our property.
Long story there, and another thing I had to worry about. With so many guests arriving later that night, would our resident specter see this as the perfect opportunity to cause some misery for us all?
The best I could do is hope that Virginia would remain in line. She’d been drained of all her magic, but that didn’t stop her from being mighty irritating. I would never forgive her if she undid all my hard work and spoiled the big day.
Of course, this was another reason we were having the wedding outside. Virginia couldn’t cross the threshold of our house, which meant she couldn’t ruin the ceremony.
Unlike most wedding planners, I wasn’t at all worried about rain. If drops threatened to fall, Merlin could easily create a barrier to keep us dry. That was one of the perks of having a sky witch in residence. On the downside, though, he’d once summoned lightning while inside and blasted a hole through my roof.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I added purple wisteria to the wedding arch I’d constructed to serve as their altar. I wanted to make sure each of the flowers I chose meant something, and wisteria was said to keep demons away. I didn’t know whether demons were even real, but I figured the wisteria couldn’t hurt. And now it looked gorgeous with the lilacs, white roses, and sprigs of lavender I’d added to the arch earlier that afternoon.
“You’re forgetting chrysanthemums,” a strange voice said from across the yard.
I turned toward the sound and spotted a mostly black cat with a small white patch on his chest. “How did you get here before the portal opened?” I asked in surprise.
He tilted his head and squinted his eyes, as if I confused him somehow.
“From Nocturna?” I prompted.
He shook his head but made no move to join me at the altar. “Oh, I’m not from there,” he relayed. “And I came by early to see if you needed any help. It’s a good thing I did, too. Otherwise, you would have forgotten the chrysanthemums.”
Suddenly, a puff of glittery pink surrounded the black cat, obscuring him from view. I hardly had time to wonder about where he’d gone, because a few seconds later, the pink fog reappeared right beside me, quickly dissipating to reveal the cat and a basket full of white flowers.
“For fidelity, loyalty, and friendship,” he said, motioning toward the flowers with his nose. “Chrysanthemums.”
“Right. Thanks.” I bent down to grab the basket. Surely, I could fit these into the arch somewhere. It’s not like I had spent the better part of an evening designing this thing by hand. What was one last-minute addition from a bossy stranger?
“It’s the least I could do, seeing as I’m the best man,” the cat announced, finally enabling me to identify him.
His tail twitched behind him but didn’t fully wag. “That’s Mr. Fluffikins to you.”
“You’re the one who fixed the roof after Merlin blasted a hole through it.”
“Right again. Now where can I find our groom to be?”
“They’re in—” I stopped short as an idea occurred to me.
“Say, what have you got planned for Merlin’s bachelor party?”
“Excuse me?” A low growl emitted from his throat, telling me I’d caught him off guard. Well, I’d been caught off guard, too. The least I could do was share the misery.
“His bachelor party?” I said, as if its occurrence had been a given all this time. “I assume as best man, you’re the one who’s planned it.”
But the black cat did not appear to be properly chastened. Darn it. “I thought as his human assistant that was your domain.”
I balked at this, crossing both arms over my chest. “I’m his familiar, not his assistant. Thank you very much.”
Mr. Fluffikins merely shrugged. “I guess I can take care of it, if you haven’t. I’m used to having to put out fires.”
“This is not a fire. Just a last-minute addition,” I reasoned.
“How many bachelors are we expecting for said party?”
“Actually, I think it will be just the two of you. Merlin doesn’t have many friends.” Admitting this aloud made me sad for my poor kitty cat. Was he demanding? Sure, but beneath all that fluff and bluster, he was a genuinely good guy.
Fluffikins considered this. “I thought you were expecting a big turnout.”
“Yeah, but they’re all friends of the bride.”
“Say no more,” he commanded, then trotted around the side of the house. I didn’t know him well enough to trust him, and given our interactions so far, I didn’t much like him, either.
Still, time was running out and my to-do list was only getting longer by the minute. At this point, I’d take whatever help I could get.
And then dusk fell, heralding the arrival of our guests from Nocturna via the magical birdbath in our front yard.
I’d always hated that Merlin’s cauldron—his connection to the greater magical world—was in such a visible spot, but he refused to let me move it to the backyard, stating that the otherwise unassuming birdbath might get damaged during transportation.
To his credit, Mr. Fluffikins helped solve one of our bigger logistical problems without even being asked. As soon as he learned what we were planning to do, he erected some kind of barrier that kept non-magic folk from being able to see what was happening in and around our house. That took care of one massive worry. Now I just had to make sure everyone had a place to sleep tonight.
I had some general ideas of where I could put out pillows, blankets, and other nesting materials for the cats, but it was hard to finalize a plan without knowing the exact count of overnight guests I’d be accommodating.
As each cat sprung forth from the birdbath with a blast of glowing green magic, I attempted to keep count.
At least at first.
When the number surpassed twenty-five, I had to divert my attention to keep from pulling my hair out. The original plan had been for no more than twelve cats—a nice round number—but every day the guest list grew by what felt like a mile. Peacekeeper that she was, Luna refused to deny an invite to anyone who wanted one, which made me wonder why we didn’t just hold the ceremony in Nocturna rather than trying to cater to everyone in our small two-bedroom ranch.
I had to admit that Luna did appear to be in her element as she played hostess to her shockingly large friend group. She chirped and trilled and made a number of other cat-bird hybrid noises as a steady flow of friends shuffled over to her and offered their congratulations.
While our yard was filling to the brim with merrymaking felines, Merlin remained on the other side of the portal, helping each new guest cross through.
Mr. Fluffikins spoke to no one, channeling all his energy into making sure his barrier held.
Seeing as everyone else was occupied for the moment, I slipped into the house to prepare dinner for our guests.
Earlier that week, I’d stopped by the party store to purchase a couple packs of small decorative paper plates. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t find a bridal design, I’d had to choose between various cartoon characters, graduation motifs, or baby shower designs. Ultimately, I decided to go with My Little Pony, because the white unicorn with the dark purple mane reminded me a bit of Luna.
I purchased two packs of twenty and hoped it would be enough.
The cats who lived in Nocturna rarely got to indulge in the simple pleasures of cats in our mortal realm. That’s why I’d gone all out with all the best cat food brands. I’d bought the local pet store out of Fancy Feast on more than one occasion. I’d also picked up a few cans each of Sheba, Iams, Friskies, Blue Buffalo, Wellness Complete—even the store’s bargain label. Yes, I was going all out for these cats. And I sure hope they appreciated it!
As soon as I pulled the metal ring to open the first little can, the pet door flapped open, and all the guests came rushing inside to join me in the kitchen.
Wow. As it turned out, cats loved that sound so much, it had somehow worked its way into their DNA. I mean, I was pretty sure that our visitors from Nocturna had never heard the sound of a can opening before, but still they innately knew something good was about to happen.
I spooned a serving of beef pate onto a plate with a pink pony and set it on the ground. A chubby Scottish fold instantly pushed herself to the front of the crowd to claim it for herself.
All the others mewled their excitement as I got to work on the second can—a seafood medley from Sheba. Before I could set the plate down, a cat with a tortoise shell coat used four sets of very sharp claws to climb up my side and settle herself on my shoulder. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from crying out in pain.
“That’s for me,” the torty announced matter-of-factly.
And so it went, until all the cats had been served—some even tricked me into giving them seconds, but I just played along rather than make a big deal of it. Yes, I’d have to take another trip to the store to make sure I had enough for the morning, but for now at least everyone was happy.
Once their bellies were properly full, some of the cats wandered back outside while others explored the house. Others sat around the house grooming themselves post-meal.
I, however, didn’t have any time to rest. Instead, I grabbed a trash bag and began picking up the used pony plates. Once I had a full bag, I headed outside to toss it. That was when I overheard a conversation between Luna and a few of the cats from Nocturna—one that they definitely wouldn’t have wanted me to hear.
“All I’m saying,” a posh voice floated into the night air. “Is you could have done much better.”
“Everyone thinks so,” another voice chimed in.
“She’s right, dear. Why settle for Merlin? There are so many other cats to choose from. What about Tom?”
“I love Merlin.” Luna’s voice came out strong and sure. “And I’m very happy to be starting a family with him.”
“Starting a family? No, dear. You’re just going through the motions of some odd human ritual. You can still change your mind.”
“Actually, we’re expecting kittens,” Luna announced proudly, which made me smile to myself.
The other cats gasped in a chorus. “Oh, you poor thing. First you gave up your magic for that stray, and now the rest of your life?”