acatwhowrites: (Onew♡smile of an angel)
A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2016-09-21 11:25 am

I Put a Spell on You (It Didn't Work)

title: I Put a Spell on You (It Didn't Work)
players: Kim Joonmyun/Suho, Kim Jongdae/Chen, Park Chanyeol, Do Kyungsoo/D.O. Kim Jongin/Kai
rating: G
word count: 9,190w
warning/s: n/a
summary: It's difficult to do many things as a cat, mostly due to lack of thumbs. Born-cats don't know the struggle. Made-cats, like Jongdae, do, but he supposes it's punishment for being a dumbass and mixing up ingredients.
a/n: Chanyeol was almost a phoenix, saved from being a simple ingredient by the kind-hearted-and-kind-of-magically-inept Jongin. I thought a dog was funnier and less witch-like.
Written for Chenpionships.
Read on AFF || AO3 || AO3 || LJ





It rains for a solid week, chasing away the summer heat and making everything wet and warm. The air is saturated with moisture, simply suspended and thick. When it's not raining, fog blankets the region. Neither are the best conditions to work in, even when working in a basement workshop.

Jongdae hauls another dehumidifier out of its spiderwebby hideyhole and sets it up at the far end of his cellar workshop. Both machines at once should keep the damp from exciting the mold that already lives down there. His books are old and worn already; he doesn't need them to turn completely organic and go green. Enough of his books have tried nipping his fingers; if it's not alive, he's not going to encourage it.

He nudges some jars out of the way and drops a heavy grimoire in their place, upsetting the uneven sheet of dust. Glass jars of lightning zap and fizzle, restless. Rodents twitch their whiskers and tails but stay far enough out of the way to avoid being noticed. Sweat trickles down his brow; he rubs it off against his shoulder and throws out a hand to his right, lighting a large lamp and showing the dust motes trudging through the heavy air.

"This would be so much easier if the weather wasn't total crap," he grumbles. If he wasn't so pressed for time, he'd be in bed—possibly naked, because of the heat—with small blizzards cast into the corners.

As it is, he's pushing it. He has a couple months to perfect body transfiguration. He's kind of got the hang of inanimate object transfiguration—turning lamps into coat racks or televisions into fish tanks—and organic materials such as plants—his succulent collection surrounds a lone Gerbera daisy—but only one way. Changing them back is no longer disastrous, but it is still a work in progress.

He reads off ingredients and mumbles them under his breath and he reaches every which way. Roots, crushed insects, nasty coloured liquids... He never calls anything by name; they make no sense at all. That's probably part of why he gets ingredients messed up, but he's never had anything happen that he couldn't fix, so there has been no real incentive to change the habit.

Dumping everything into a large mixing bowl, he squints at the open page and picks at an old piece of something with his fingernail. It comes off, taking ancient ink with it.

But he's pretty sure he knows what it says, so he pours some in and keeps mixing.

It explodes in his face. Acrid, kind of sparkly fuschia smoke snakes out of his bowl, releasing a high-pitched squeal that drops the bass so fast the bottom of the bowl separates and shatters outwards. A mushroom of pink launches to the ceiling, and Jongdae stumbles back a few steps, furiously wiping at his face and eyes. The backs of his knees hit his bench, dropping both him and his precariously piled books to the floor.

He hears his potion whistling, but it's far away. Black overcomes the pink, and nothing glitters.





He wakes up a cat. He doesn't know this right away, but he finds out pretty quick.

Everything looks huge from his spot on the floor. He rubs a hand—paw?—over his face. A spell went wrong in primary magic school, when he was about seven, that made him grow whiskers that only went away when plucked, followed by an immediate smear of a thick syrup that smelled like pond scum—he swears that what it actually was, to this day, and his grandma has stopped saying otherwise. He kind of liked the whiskers, but paws.... Paws are no good. They're cute and soft, but he needs his thumbs and fingers.

Yet his hands and feet are all are black paws, and his arms and legs match—slender, long, and completely covered in orange marmalade coloured fur. Jongdae can only assume the rest of him is just as feline and thumps his new tail against the floor with a disgruntled TWHACK.

"Mother Goose!" He sighs, whiskers bristled. "This isn't what I had in mind." This potion is one of the last skills to master—or at least get a solid handle on—to complete his final examination before being a certified master witch. He's been working towards that goal for most of his life, although there was a time when he was younger during which he was sorely tempted to just drop all magic and become a singer.

No one let him give up, and he's come too far to give up, now, so. The matter at hand—paw—deserves his entire attention and energy.

He looks up and tries to jump onto this workbench, but four limbs are hard to coordinate. "This is just tedious," Jongdae says crossly. He rolls onto his stomach and attempts to gather all four of his paws underneath himself, but he steps on his tail and falls to his side.

He lays there and glares at the giggling dust bunnies beneath his work table. His huffy sigh sends a skittering of enchanted dust remains from the cracks of the floor, tickling his more sensitive nose. After a series of adorable sneezes, he sighs and licks his nose.

Ew!

This could take some getting used to.

He gets up, holding his tail high, and practices walking. Right foot, left foot...other right foot, other left foot. His tail moves with him, automatically checking his balance, like his human arms would when he walks on the edge of the raised sidewalk. After a while of stalking back and forth, he tries jogging and then full-out running. It's easy, once he gets going, but soft paws don't get a lot of traction, and his claws leave gouges in the floor as his hind end swerves ahead of his front end. He slams into the wall, shakes his head, and licks his shoulder with a frustrated grunt.

He's gotta relearn how to walk if he ever wants to get back to normal. There's little chance of him reversing the spell on his own, but there are methods to do it. Kim Joonmyun is a master witch, one of Jongdae's friends, and very kind. He'd totally help Jongdae reverse his spell and probably even help him make it properly.

The trick is getting to his house. As a human, Jongdae takes a bus for a few stops and then walks the rest of the way. It's not that long of a journey. In this smaller form, though...

First thing's first: Mastering the catwalk. Jongdae's tail whips behind him, and he surges to his feet with a flood of renewed energy.

Right foot, left foot...other right foot, other left foot.

Walking becomes easier with each passing lap around his workshop, and Jongdae feels confident that if he can master coordinating four—five, including his tail—limbs at once, he can handle the short walk to Joonmyun's house on the other side of town.

But things are very different outside. Just like when he woke up on his floor, everything is bigger when you're smaller. Bigger things, brighter lights, smellier smells. Jongdae retches at the stink of day-old dog poop and outright runs when a bumblebee flies by his face. It bumbles carelessly, not disturbed or offended in the slightest, and Jongdae takes a deep breath—retches again—and calms down.

Even the grass feels different under his paws. He's walked barefoot plenty of times, but maybe the different shape of his feet matters. The fur catches the grass, so it doesn't slip between his toes like usual.

He sees himself in the reflection of a cafe's plate glass window and stops to admire himself. Long, straight whiskers, diamond-shaped face, lithe body. His fur is completely black, setting off bright yellow eyes. Not bad, he praises and catches himself with his paw centimeters from his tongue.

A cricket chirps in the grass to his left. His ear twitches and rotates without him thinking about it. It's a young cricket, nervous on its own. Some cultures believe crickets are good luck; Jongdae has spent summer nights running around his grandma's yard, hunting the insects and collecting them in a jar. It took him a few years to be able to remove the legs himself, though. Using cricket legs when they're still kicking adds to a good luck spell and potion. Using dead cricket legs adds to bad luck magic; the longer they're dead, the worse the luck.

Jongdae sits still, feeling the wind through his whiskers. Opening his mouth a little, it's almost as if he can taste the cricket. It's close. It chirps every half minute.

His tail twitches, and he hunkers to the ground, easing his body to the grass. It tickles his belly and pokes uncomfortably at his butt.

Walking forward, nearly slithering, he sees the cricket—rust red, like an autumn leaf—and dips his head lower. His rear end wiggles, he breathes shallowly, and he launches himself at the bug. It chirps in fear under his paws; his claws aren't even out.

Catching ingredients is easy as a cat! He could make a great good luck potion for himself by collecting a bunch of these young crickets and raise the probability of his turning human again sooner.

He's thoroughly praising himself for his amazing idea when a little girl tugs at her dad's hand and exclaims, "Ew, Daddy! That kitty's eating a bug!"

Ewewewew!

This is not good. He's starting to behave like a cat. The longer he's four-legged and adorable, the sooner he'll start licking his own butt and puking pellets of fur. He's too hot a human to be reduced to that.

Coughing up bits of leg and thin wing, Jongdae rinses the residual embarrassment and disgust with fresh puddle water.

It's a dry day, at least, but still humid. Jongdae would be absolutely miserable if he had to walk in the rain. With everything else so much larger from his new perspective, he can only imagine the terror of falling water from the sky. He much prefers this fresh, after-rain feline experience and sets off in a brisk easterly direction towards his usual bus stop.

Lots of people are out, enjoying the break in rain. Jongdae sits under a bistro chair and watches from his new perspective, feeling the thud of footsteps and rumble of tires on the street. Something bright catches his eye, and he watches a young couple clinging to one another and giggling. There's a weird pink sort of light hanging around the young man.

Now that he's noticed, there are a few people with similar coloured lights, airy and amorphous like smoke yet clingy, and no one else seems to notice except maybe the few dogs out for walks, looking at the people and barking when the smoky things move towards their people.

Strange.

He braves the sidewalk and trots to make up for a smaller stride. Straight into town until the convenience store, then a left for a block, and he should be at his stop. He waits patiently on the bench beside an older man with thinning hair and sour scowl and follows him up the steps when the bus pulls up.

"Sir, you can't bring your cat," the driver says, and the old man scowls deeper.

"It's not my cat." Jongdae still sits on the seat next to him, feeling a little vindictive, because anyone should be proud to have a cat like him. He tucks his feet under him and purrs in the sunbeam coming though the window.

The man ignores him, though, and glares out the window over Jongdae's head. When he leaves at the next stop, he seems to be scowling a little less, though, and carries a bit of pale yellow sunbeam with him.

Jongdae keeps an ear cocked for his stop. The driver doesn't seem like he's going to stop; no one's waiting, and the passengers haven't stood. Jongdae races to the front and meows at the driver to stop.

He bounds down the steps after giving the driver a high-whiskered smile and quietly apologises for not paying, but what cat carries a bus card?

Setting off in the direction that looks familiar, Jongdae has to sit in the shade of one of the few trees and get his bearings.

Nothing looks right. His angle is all skewed, and he doesn't know how long he's been walking. There's a feeling in his gut that says he should be there by now, but...

He paws at an older woman's ankle to ask for directions, but she just smiles and tickles his cheeks. He tries to ask a little boy, but the demon tries to pull his tail and is swept away by his mom, scolding him for being mean. A teenage girl just whips out her phone to take photos, which he graciously sits and poses for but leaves before she can pick him up.

No one understands his speech, because he's a cat.He can still understand human speech, though, and preens under the attention. He's cute and cuddly, he gets that, but can't people just resist his adorableness for ten seconds and give him directions?

"Such a handsome cat!"

"Oh, look at his pretty eyes!"

"He and my Cupcake would have the cutest kittens!"

As the sun starts to fall, he grows tired of the compliments and praise and gets grumpy as his hunger grows. The little bit of cricket he swallowed did not satiate him in the slightest.

Fortune smiles on him, because lo and behold, he catches sight of his savior in ripped jeans and tie-dyed T-shirt.

Jongdae and Jongin, Joonmyun's little brother, have been sort of dancing around one another for a while. There's something there, but Jongin's shy, and Jongdae's not sure if he should ask Joonmyun, first. He's very mothering, especially when his baby witch brother is concerned.

Jongin's sitting on the sidewalk not even a block ahead, longboard beside him and KFC on his lap. The scent of hot chicken wafts to Jongdae's sensitive nose and draws him nearer. He crosses the street after looking both ways—even bicycles are dangerous to a cat, and sits, tail curling over his paws like he's seen other cats do. Jongin doesn't notice him at all, so Jongdae meows. Hello!

The boy looks at him mid-chew, and and there's a sudden spark in his eyes. He loves animals. Maybe Jongdae's plan isn't as well thought out as he'd like to think, but he's immediately grateful he didn't turn into a dog. "Hey there, cat. What's up?"

I'm hungry. Feed me. He lifts a paw to his mouth, swatting a little at the food.

Jongin tears off the breading and holds it out on his flat palm. "Here." Oh, this guy's good. Maybe he actually understands Cat.

Jongdae eats right out of his hand.

"You're pretty. You live around here?"

Jongdae snorts. Are you hitting on me? He's not that easy.

Jongin smiles and offers more chicken, not at all offended.

Jongdae cleans his paws and whiskers compulsively. Maybe his spell was actually a body-switch sort, because as much as he likes to be clean, he never felt the need to take a bath after eating. With his belly full, though, he's much more content to simply sit and soak up the sun.

Jongin wipes his hands on a napkin and offers a finger. Jongdae sniffs at it, licks some traces of chicken juice off the pads, and dips his head to allow Jongin to scratch between his ears and down his back. He's patient, unlike that little boy and teenage girl before, petting Jongdae with a slow rhythm from the top of his head to the base of his tail. He's not sure how long he lies there, purring and mindless, when Jongin stops touching him.

"I've gotta get home and let Chanyeol out," he mumbles, as though a cat needs an explanation or apology. He stands with a drawn-out sigh, tossing the empty bucket into a bin.

Jongdae stands up as well. Wait! You gotta help me! He's lost. He can get a better idea of where he is higher up, or he can just crash with Jongin until his brother stops by or he visits his brother. Jongdae knows they're close.

"What, you wanna come with?" Jongin crouches, drawing fingers down Jongdae's spine, and it feels amazing. "I guess you have no collar. Maybe you're chipped." He carefully gathers Jongdae into his arms when no claws embed in his hands. "Ever been on a skateboard?"

Jongdae hasn't, but he snuggles into Jongin's arms and lets himself be surrounded by Jongin's scent and the smells of chicken, aftershave, and something Jongdae's not entirely familiar with. The longboard drops with a clatter, and Jongdae feels each movement as Jongin pushes off the ground with his foot, sending them sailing over the concrete. His eyes partly shut from the wind blowing his fur and whiskers back, and it feels lovely, even with the humidity.

A few people watch them pass with cell phones out; both boy and cat ignore them, although Jongdae does squirm a little to a more advantageous and visible spot on Jongin's arm. He's adorable; Jongin's gorgeous. People had better appreciate them.

Jongin lives in an area of two-story apartment blocks and small homes on grassy lots. Tall, old trees grow everywhere, and an ear twitches at the chattering of birds and squirrels, but Jongdae stays snugly against Jongin's chest.

"Here we are, cat," Jongin announces. He rolls right up a cement walkway and kicks the end of his board up into his free hand. He carries Jongdae to the front door, pushing him up to his shoulder as the other side of the door pants heavily.

Jongdae can hear the click of nails and high whines of You're home! I missed you! You came back! I love you! Open the door! and hunkers a little in nervous anticipation.

Jongin unlocks and opens the door; his legs are immediately assaulted by a shaggy mutt. "Hey, Chanyeol!" Tail wagging, Chanyeol the dog sniffs his human all over and tries to stand on his hind legs to investigate the cat—Cat! Hello, cat! he yips—but is denied by a firm hand on his butt. "Settle down, boy. Be nice."

Jongdae claws up and around Jongin's neck. He never realised just how big dogs are. And slobbery. He likes dogs. He does. Some of his best friends have dogs, and they're great, but in the magic community, dogs are pretty useless.

Most witches go for cats or crows, maybe owls, but Jongin had fallen in love with Chanyeol after seeing pictures of him as a puppy on Instagram, and there's no rule against a witch having a dog. They just aren't very conducive to channeling magic.

Chanyeol's not very conducive to much of anything, Jongdae decides. He's too big, too hairy, too smelly, too slobbery

Jongdae whines when large hands wrap around his middle; he doesn't have time to dig his claws into Jongin's shirt before he's being lifted and set on the floor.

Chanyeol immediately sniffs him all over, and it's like being frisked. Nothing goes unnoticed. Jongdae reconsiders his like of dogs, but, to be fair, they're not usually his size plus interest. He stands still and doesn't notice his ears are flat until Jongin pats Chanyeol's butt again. "C'mon, boy. Leave him alone before you get smacked." Chanyeol follows his human outside, and Jongdae looks at his paws.

He really does have nice claws. Spring-loaded, even. Nice. Try sniffing my butt now, mutt. He sits on the stoop and watches Jongin run around with Chanyeol. A frisbee materialises out of thin air, orange with similar light around it, like a halo, and he watches in amusement as Chanyeol's hind end overruns his front. He only catches the toy because he literally runs into it and knocks it down, just to trip over it and roll through a pile of wet leaves. He stands up, frisbee triumphantly in his teeth, shakes vigorously, and dashes back to Jongin just to chase the launched disc again.

It's something Jongdae's never understood but still enjoys watching. There is a pure, simple innocence about dogs. They're creatures that can run back and forth for no reason other than to give chase and make their human laugh.

That purity is probably a part of why witches rarely work with them. Dogs aren't as capable as cats for higher understanding, although old witches used to employ wolves or large wolf dogs to protect their covens and homes from prying curiosity. According to Jongdae's history class, it's where the idea of witches and hell hounds came from. He's more inclined to think some dog-preferring witches just wanted to make the canines seem more badass and worthy of the magic community.

Cats, on the other hand, with their natural patience and independent thinking, chose the precise time to enter a household and remain for a personally determined time and eventually leave in some form or another. Domestication came simply and without fuss and is closer to a partnership. Cats of all kinds possess an inherit ability for magic and can help a witch develop and guide their powers.

When Jongdae was twelve, his parents tried gifting him his own black kitten, but his skills are in electricity, even then, and the poor thing barely withstood a single spell and lost every lightning-charred whisker.

A neighbour girl gratefully adopted the kitten after that, and it's forgiven Jongdae but still gives him a wide berth when the witch performs magic.

There is a little bit of something surrounding Chanyeol, a sort of inner light that Jongdae can only assume is the magic that courses through all life. It's a similar shade to the light around Jongin, so while they're not magically compatible, they obviously love each other, and Jongdae sees nothing wrong with living like that. Magic can be enhanced or destroyed by love.

Jongdae flops onto his side and dozes in the falling sun while the dog and trainee witch exhaust themselves.

A gurgling in his gut breaks the serene comfort of his dozy nap. He stretches until his spine creaks and swipes a paw across his whiskers. The door's left open, letting in heavy, warm air, bugs, and Jongdae. He's curious; he's never been to Jongin's home before, but his investigation is cut short when the first door he nudges open is the bathroom.

In a way, he really should have known it wouldn't work. He only just got used to walking and jumping on flat, wide ground that morning. Trying to balance on the edge of a toilet bowl is simply an impossible task, and he falls. He tries to catch himself, but his feet hit water, and he yowls.

Chanyeol barks at Jongin, who shouts to Jongdae, and Jongdae can hear him running, but he heaves himself up and out of the toilet, dashes out the door, and huddles in some bushes. Jongin stands on the front step, running a hand through his hair and looking worried and unfairly attractive. Jongdae sits and waits miserably for a while before finding a secluded set of brushes in the neighbour's yard to do his business.

It's dehumanising, but Jongdae reasons that he's a cat, so whatever. There's more poo on the ground than in any toilet, and certain kinds, laid out a certain way in certain areas from a certain time, are actually prime ingredients, so Jongdae's potentially aiding some witch in the future.

He still buries it a little with pine needles and dirt. He's not a complete heathen.

Jongin's waiting at the door when Jongdae returns. "I wondered if you'd come back," he greets with a sympathetic smile and lifts him under his pits. "This is for you as much as it is for me," he apologises, and Jongdae sees that he's being carried to the offending bathroom.

Jongin nudges the door a bit and turns on the bathtub tap, intending to bathe what he thinks is a friendly stray cat. Jongdae hasn't been bathed by anyone since he was, like, six. He twists and struggles with a pleading yowl. Chanyeol peeks around the corner, concerned and confused and sympathetic, but Jongin closes the door with his foot and sits Jongdae on the bathroom counter.

Jongdae makes an attempt to leave, but Jongin catches him in mid-air. "You fell into a toilet, cat," he stresses, grimacing as he holds Jongdae close. "I don't think you want to clean that off your fur with your tongue, do you?"

No, Jongdae grumbles. He really doesn't. He goes limp with a huffed sigh through his nose. This is humiliating.

"It won't take long. Just relax."

I am relaxed. He retracts his claws.

Jongin fills the tub with just enough water to reach his ankles, stepping in with Jongdae and sitting on the lip of the tub. It's warm water, at least, not too hot or too cold, but it feels weird. Jongdae keeps as still as he can—Jongin keeps a hand under his belly, too, elevating Jongdae just to the tips of his soggy toes—with his tail stiffly straight, but he relaxes as shampoo is massaged into his fur and gently rinsed. Sides of long fingers even rub into his cheeks, smoothing his whiskers, and dip between his ears, always careful to keep soapy water from his eyes and ears.

He's almost sorry to leave the warmth of the tub, but Jongin strips his damp T-shirt off and grabs a towel, and Jongdae leaps right into his waiting arms to be swaddled against his chest. He's completely zoned out and only comes to when he hears a clicky sort of whir, the soft thud of an electrical plug pushed home, and the click of a switch. Warm air blasts his whiskers back, and he folds his ears to his head but tilts his head to and fro to dry his cheeks and neck. If he was his normal, human self, he'd just have magicked up a hot breeze or levitated the hair dryer to free his hands to do whatever else, but Jongin seems to prefer to use as little magic as possible. When the blowdryer finally turns off, Jongdae leaves to explore.

He doesn't feel or see much evidence of magic in the little house, although there are residual glows of energy and the occassional fae or mouse scurrying across the floor to hide in the floorboards or a crack in the wooden wall panelling.

Otherwise, there are books—manga, mostly—some skateboards, lots of shoes, and numerous unmoving photographs. No random bones or insects or wings or quills or splashes of ink.

Jongin mumbles something about needing a shower himself, and this, Jongdae knows, is an opportunity he can take advantage of in two ways: One, he can follow Jongin into the bathroom and peep as he's showering, because he doesn't believe in closing doors. Two, he can find a way into the workshop that all witches maintain and go through some books to find a solution for his felinity or at least some way to communicate without being cooed at over how cute he is.

Chanyeol ultimately makes the decision. He hears the shower turn on from his spot moping in the living room and dashes into the bathroom, shoving the sofa against the wall with the force of his excited leap. Jongdae shakes his head at the loud laughter and successive splashes and pads to the basement door.

It's not closed all the way. He can push a paw in the gap between the floor and door and pull it open enough to slip past.

A definite pro to his cat-ness is his improved eyesight. Pupils wide, he makes his way down the steps slowly, because it's dizzying facing down. The floor is bare cement or rock, and most of the basement is one room surrounded by shelving and cabinets. There's a humming freezer in the farthest corner, covered in cobwebs and stinking of dead things. It's set up somewhat similarly to his own workshop, with a long, heavy table against a wall with mismatched benches and stools. Bottles and vials are sitting out; some still have remnants of potions Jongdae can't even begin to identify. A few make his whiskers curl from the stench.

It's not long until he hears the shower turn off and Jongin shouting as Chanyeol shakes out his coat. He's only got a few minutes of searching.

But what is he even looking for? This whole transformation happened because of a mistake. No ingredient, by itself, should have caused anything except for discolouration or a burn or something if it touched him, and most of Jongin's collection is unlabelled or so old Jongdae can't read the label.

Upstairs, Jongin whistles and smacks his lips in a kissy sound. Jongdae sighs and quietly treads up the stairs. He closes the door with his shoulder and sits at Jongin's heels for the satisfaction of seeing the shock on his face when he turns around.





Dinner is a simple but noisy affair. Jongdae refuses to get off the table, and Chanyeol thinks it's unfair that his new friend is so far away, and Jongin's yelling at them both while reheating some sort of leftovers.

Chanyeol only stops whining when his food dish is filled. Jongdae jumps over him to the counter, skittering a little bit but managing to get his feet under him, and waits patiently at Jongin's elbow, because there's no way he's eating kibble.

"What you're a gourmet?"

Jongdae meows.

"You'll get fat if I give you this."

Jongdae nudges his head against Jongin's arm, purring, and it seems to do the trick. Chanyeol makes puppy-dog eyes and whimpers when Jongdae's given a tiny plate of "people food" that's only ever given to Chanyeol as a rare treat.

He's still made to eat on the floor, but a low hum of Back off, mutt, has Chanyeol retreating for reassurance of being his human's favourite. Jongin eats one-handed and scratches Chanyeol's ears.

Once satisfied—his dinner being much more satisfying than the morning cricket—Jongdae licks his lips and cleans his whiskers but resists grooming his paws and chest and back or anything else. Jongin picks up the plate and holds it out to Chanyeol, who happily acts as a pre-rinse for the dishwasher, another non-magic thing that Jongin must prefer.

They herd into the living room. Jongin turns on the television and puts on a music program. Chanyeol lays on Jongin's feet; Jongdae invites himself onto Jongin's lap and purrs smugly.

After sitting for a couple hours, Chanyeol's asleep on his back, and Jongin's struggling to keep his eyes open. Wordlessly, he turns off the TV and doesn't seem to even notice he has an armful of cat.

Chanyeol wakes up as Jongin steps over him, energy renewed. He dances at the back door, runs outside once it's opened to mark some trees and bark at the nightlife, then bounds to Jongin's bedroom.

Jongdae hops from his arms and looks around. It's a simple room. Mostly books and clothing. The witch strips to his boxers and nudges Chanyeol out of the way, mumbling at him to lie down on the floor and go to sleep. Chanyeol whines for a bit, making eyes at his person and Jongdae in turn. But he gets to be on the bed!

Because I'm special, Jongae scoffs. He makes a show of walking over Jongin's butt to tuck his paws in over the witch's back. Lie down like a good dog. Surprisingly, the dog does. He spins a few times, flops to the floor, and sighs heavily. His tail thumps against the rug when Jongin lets his arm dangle over the side of the bed, and he licks it gratefully. It's touching, in a way, Jongdae thinks.

He shifts onto his side and curls his tail over his nose.





Jongin goes to school most days and works part-time at the apothecary. He reassures both cat and dog that he'll be home later and to be good and has to push Chanyeol to sit multiple times before finally escaping.

Oh, Chanyeol moans. He falls to the floor, head on his paws. I miss him so much.

He doesn't miss you, Jongdae chides, cleaning a shoulder. The dog whimpers. Hey, I was just kidding.

Oh, I know. You're a good cat. I just... He sighs and stares at the door. I just miss him so much. Jongdae pats his muzzles consolingly and jumps to a high bookshelf. A couple trinkets fall, making room for him to wedge himself between some books and curl up.

Everything's silent for a while, and it's comfortable. Jongdae should be looking more into Jongin's workshop, or even some of the books he's lying between, but he's tired after running around during the sunrise. Some fae teased him about his situation and had to send reinforcements when Jongdae actually caught one of them, inciting an impromptu war that lasted until Chanyeol threw up the one he ate. They were touched by his compassion, and Jongdae decided that the only thing dumber than a dog was a house fae.

He's napping when something reaches the house.

Chanyeol's ear stands up, and he cocks his head. Jongdae only pays attention when he woofs softly and trots to the back door. The low growl draws Jongdae up to stretch and follow the dog just for his fur to stand on end and whiskers quiver.

Something doesn't feel right.

A wraith shade pools just outside the back door. They can see the darkness on the stoop, thinning to slither through the tiny opening between the door and the jamb. Wraith shades are attracted to any sort of magic, including one another; they're made from the dregs of old or abandoned magic, drawing in more power until they can achieve a physical form. They're simply black holes for power, existing with the sole purpose to exist and get stronger.

Chanyeol barks at it and swipes at a dark tendril with his paw, lips pulled back and actually looking scarier than Jongdae imagined. The sweet, endearingly clumsy is gone and replaced with a fearless wolf's spirit, ready and willing to fight to defend his home and human.

Behind him, Jongdae stalks to the near corner and huddles with his shoulders hunched and tail whipping behind him.

The wraith shade withdraws just enough to collect itself and surges forward all at once. It bursts through every available crack, spreading thin like spider silk and remerging to drop back into its puddle-like consistency. Chanyeol lunges for it immediately, snarling and barking. Jongdae backs into the corner to avoid being stepped on but takes off after Chanyeol and the wraith shade. They're relatively harmless in empty houses, sucking out the leftover sludge from the marrows of the foundation and moving on, but they could cling to a witch like a second skin and grow and literally drown them.

Jongdae's never actually seen a wraith shade before. No one has. They're believed to be invisible, but the illustrations in old magical texts aren't too far off.

He bolts into the front sitting room and leaps onto Chanyeol's back, claws out, to tear the wraith shade from his muzzle. The dog snorts and paws at his muzzle. Jongdae springs off his tense shoulders into the darkest centre of the wraith shade.

It's like he's suspended in midair one moment, still and almost calm in the darkness, then he's shot from the wraith shade like a cannonball from a cannon. His claws hook the ageing wallpaper; it curls as he slides to the floor.

Chanyeol's snapping at whatever bit of darkness he can, chasing it to a corner and standing on his hind legs to try and tear if from slithering into the ceiling and settling upstairs.

Jongdae glowers at the ceiling. He and Chanyeol can see the fuzzy darkness in the ceiling and are so focused that they ignore the key in the front door.

Jongin follows the animals' path of destruction right to the source and just about falls down from shock.

Lamps are knocked over, tables and rugs flipped aside, couch springs and stuffing sticking out of the back of the grandfatherly couch, wallpaper literally stripping from the wall... It's a mess.

"What did you do?"

Like a switch is flipped, Chanyeol turns from staring at nothing and bounds to Jongin with a yippy bark.

"Chanyeol, no! Down!" The dog's butt hits the floor, and he sits with his chest out and head back, like Look at me! I was good! Be proud! Jongin doesn't see it the same way, though, and although it's happened before—a few times—Chanyeol still waits to be praised every time Jongin comes home to destruction.

"I can't believe this..." The witch sighs and ushers Chanyeol outside. He spots a squirrel and takes off with a delighted bark.

Inside, Jongdae's not moved. He stares at the ceiling for so long it seems like the fuzzy blackness is getting bigger, spreading or reaching closer. Suddenly, hands encircle his middle, and he grunts softly as he's lifted to Jongin's chest.

"You guys throw a party, or what?" Settled against Jongin's shoulder, Jongdae tucks his paws close and glares at the ceiling.

He keeps an eye on it throughout the day, but it seems content to sit up in the attic and bake in the late summer heat.






The appearance of the wraith shade sits at the front of Jongdae's mind as he descends the stairs to the workshop. It's early morning; Jongin's still asleep. Chanyeol had snorted in his sleep and rolled over when Jongdae had peered into the bedroom after checking the wraith shade was still where they'd seen it disappear. What's going on? he asks, following nervously. His tail wags a slow, nervous rhythm.

Nothing, you should go sleep, Jongdae says. His eyes are wide in the dark. Spiders scuttle up their webs, and other creepy crawlies slither out of the path of his silent paws.

We shouldn't be down here...

Go back upstairs if you're nervous. He isn't admitting anything aloud, but Jongdae has a newfound respect for the dog after he went after the wraith shade. No questions asked, he just went for it selflessly. That's a sign of stupidity and devotion, which Chanyeol has in spades.

I'm not nervous! I'm anxious. Jongin's going to be mad when he finds out. He sits and covers his face with his paw, whining softly. He hates upsetting his person.

He'll only find out if you tell him, and if you tell him, he'll come down here, kick us both out, and be sure to actually lock the door, closing me off from my one chance of becoming human again—

You're human?

—so I'd just have to stay a cat and take your spot as Jongin's favourite. He examines the claws on his right forepaw. I don't take up nearly as much room. He actually carries me, and I can lay on him without crushing him.

Chanyeol slides lower and lower until he's sprawled out on the floor, whimpering softly. Jongdae has such good points.

Jongdae's tail twitches, and he snifffs. Good boy. Just stay quiet; keep a look out.

He's quiet for all of five seconds before his tail sweeps rhythmically across the floor, kicking up dust. What are you looking for?

I am, Jongdae wiggles a little before jumping to the worktabletop, looking for whatever it was that caused this whole mess.

Oh. And what was it?

If I knew that, I wouldn't be looking so hard. Oops. A tiny paper box falls, rattling as it bounces. Probably just bones. Very tiny bones.

He stares at the containers and jars, but nothing looks familiar. Jongin's about as good at labelling as he is, and a lot of the roots have mold or are too withered to identify.

Jongdae noses at some bottles, sneezing when he gets dust up his nostrils, and slithers between books on rickety shelves. They're the sort of cheap shelves that aren't fastened to anything, and the horizontal shelves sit on adjustable pegs. When Jongdae can't go behind or over a leather-bound grimoire, he steps in front of it, and it tips forward.

Look out! Chanyeol barks. He yips as a shelf tips forward, dropping vials and bottles and dried roots.

The basement door is thrown open, slamming against the wall. Jongin thunders down the stairs. "Hey!" Jongdae leaps onto the corner of the sink, ready to sit and explain himself and maybe de-stress from his near-death experience by cleaning his fur, but it's tighter than he thought without the shelving unit to stand on. As he turns to face Jongin's worry, his rear end pushes just too much against a precariously balanced jar of some kind of pickled root.

He loses his balance, and the bottle shatters, pouring its contains over a concerned Chanyeol. Strange, violet clouds curl up from the spell. It smells like tomato soup.

"What happened?!" Jongin coughs and opens the egress windows. A rain-scented breeze fans out the magically charged mushroom cloud, and a human sits in the thick of it. He's long-legged, long-haired, and wide-eyed.

Jongdae hops out of the sink where he'd fallen with a reedy mew, unapologetically cleaning his damp paws. Luckily, that bottle was exactly what he assumed. If it had been his second guess, then Chanyeol would probably just be farting bubbles and sporting a tight perm for a day or two, nothing nearly major enough to warrant a trip to a more experienced wizard.

"Oh no..." Jongin carefully pulls the blanket from around his shoulders, holding it out with a wary frown. "Chanyeol?"

"I have hands!" Chanyeol barks. "And thumbs!" He tries to spin to see over his shoulder, showing off a smooth bottom and undercarriage. He falls onto his butt and stretches his long legs in front of him in stupedifed wonder. "But my tail's gone! Oh! I can speak! Hi, Jongin!" He shrinks a little when Jongin drapes the blanket over his shoulders. "I am so sorry. I followed Jongdae where you said not to go, and he broke a bottle."

Jongdae glowers at him over his toes mid-lick, flexing his claws. Chanyeol shivers against Jongin's legs. He didn't mean to tattle.

"It-It's okay, Chanyeol. You're okay, that's what matters." He doesn't know how to change him back, though. Transformation, transfiguration, and transmutation are not subjects he ever scores very highly in. He runs a hand back through his hair; it sticks up. "I don't know what it was; we'll have to go to Joonmyun hyung's." He sighs and rubs his eyes with the palms of his hands. "I've been avoiding him, because I haven't been doing much magic. It's gotten so hard, lately." With another sigh, he drops his hands.

Jongdae meows and bumps his head against Jongin's back, purring when he's lifted to a shoulder.

"Yeah, you're coming, too. I don't trust you by yourself. Come on, Chanyeol. Can you stand?"

Chanyeol can, with help. He's like a newborn lamb with no concept of just how big he is and grabs onto Jongin's arm as he lurches towards the stairs. Jongdae can empathise. Jongin follows him up, keeping his eyes down with a hand at the human-dog's back. He'll have to find something big enough for Chanyeol to wear.





There's a soft meow when Jongin knocks on the front door of his brother's house, and he ushers Chanyeol inside. "Hyung?"

The house extends forward, stairs leading up to a couple bedrooms with a full bathroom and a couple open doorways showing a bright sitting room, dining room, and kitchen at the back. Behind the stairs, a narrow door is ajar, and Jongin hears Joonmyun call, "Library," punctuated with a caterwauled Go away!.

Jongdae leaps from Chanyeol's shoulder, prancing ahead with his tail high and ears alert. He never noticed just how dusty Joonmyun's home is. He's not much of a housekeeper, but Jongdae's pretty sure his paws are turning colours just from walking on the floor.

Chanyeol follows Jongin with his usual single-minded devotion, although he's still mourning the loss of his senses of smell and hearing. He visibly perks up when he sees Joonmyun with an armful of books, his cat familiar perched on his shoulder.

"Jongin! I had a feeling you'd be coming." Joonmyun's speciality is divination, usually focused through water. "What did you do, now?" He's teasing, but Jongin's shoulders slump a little.

"It wasn't my fault..." It's not the best preamble. Even Kyungsoo the cat snorts sarcastically. "My cat got in my workshop and knocked something onto Chanyeol." Jongdae's ears perk up. Since when did he become Jongin's cat? Not that he minds.

"Is that why your friend is so friendly?" Joonmyun asks, trapped in Chanyeol's affectionate embrace. It's better than being bowled over by a dog, he supposes. He shifts a little, and Chanyeol turns his attention to Kyungsoo, who ignores him. At his feet is an unfamiliar, grinning black cat.

"Can you fix him?"

Chanyeol looks up, alarmed. He knows that phrase. One day, he went on a ride with Jongin to the doctor's, and he doesn't remember much after that except feeling very lazy for a while.

Joonmyun waves a hand, effortlessly sending the books in his arms to their proper spots on the shelves. Without magic, nothing would get put away. "Come to the kitchen."

The kitchen doubles as a workshop. Herbs and plants hang from the rafters, dangling like withering snakes that Chanyeol and Jongin have to duck around. Jongdae hops onto the counter unnoticed until Joonmyun reaches for a bowl and feels soft fur, instead. He jumps, and Jongdae smiles. Can't avoid me, hyung! he chirps.

Kyungsoo slinks along the counter, investigating warily. What happened to you? he asks, touching his nose to Jongdae's.

I had an accident... The familiar scoffs and shakes his head, turning automatically when noticing his witch's empty hand.

Joonmyun rubs his soft cheeks and grabs the bowl. He fills it about halfway with water from the sink, then drops some other liquids from small essential oil bottles. The drops fall clear but tint green or blue once they hit the water.

Jongin watches in studious awe. He always loved watching his brother work, even as a little kid. "You can use a spell to fix a potion?" Joonmyun was always graceful to look at, but his magic was on a whole different level. It's like the manifestation of reliability; Jongin's never seen him get anything wrong.

"Of course," Joonymun replies. "As long as you know what you're doing. He hasn't been like this for too long, anyway." He looks at his brother to make sure he's paying attention, raises his wand for Jongin's benefit, and recites a string of words that's neither Korean nor English but vaguely familiar to Jongin.

Chanyeol's form recedes, compresses, and transforms. It's slow enough to notice the stomach-turning changes, but the result is worth it. Chanyeol's back to normal, four legs, shaggy fur, and floppy ears. He falls to his side as he struggles out of the pants Jongin had forced him to wear.

Jongin grabs him under his arm pits and holds him on his back. "Hey, hold still." Chanyeol obeys, panting and looking around from his familiar vantage point. Jongin yanks the pants off and shakes them out, sending fur into the air.

Chanyeol's on his feet in a second, barking joyously and planting his forepaws on Joonmyun's shoulders to lick his chin.

"Chanyeol, down!"

From a corner cupboard, Kyungsoo offers a derisive meow and hunches his shoulders. He almost prefers the dog as a man.

"It's fine." Joonmyun wipes his mouth with his fingers. He smiles at Chanyeol and digs his fingers behind a floppy ear. The dog sits on his foot and smiles a happy doggy smile. "Okay, well. One down." Joonmyun looks to Jongdae the cat. "You're next."

Jongin stares wide-eyed at the senior witch. "What do you mean?"

Joonmyun rubs a fingertip in a circle over Jongdae's cheek. He sits and purrs. "Jongdae. It's been a while, so the magic is really starting to stick to him, but I can undo it." He flicks an ear, earning a narrow-eyed glare. "You deserve it, for doing this to yourself."

"But I didn't..." Jongin falters. A blush creeps up his face, heating his neck and ears. He taps Chanyeol's head. "I'm gonna let Chanyeol out," he mumbles. Chanyeol bounds after him, leaving Joonmyun with a fake feline and his own familiar watching over his shoulder.

"What did you do to him?" he asks, but Jongdae's lips are sealed with a smile. He hops to the floor and sits in the middle of the kitchen, tail over his feet and head tilted back expectantly.

Kyungsoo leaps from his vantage point to stretch out across Joonmyun's shoulders. The witch waves his wand in a pattern, green magic trailing behind the tip like a ribbon, and points it directly at Jongdae, spell repeated so fast Jongdae can't really catch individual words. He can feel the effects, however, the pull and stretch of his limbs. Fur recedes to smoother skin, toes extend to fingers, tail shrinks to a human tail bone, ears protrude from either side of his head...

Within seconds, he's standing eye-level with Joonmyun. Looking down at himself, he sighs in relief. It looks like he's all there. "Oh, good, my clothes are still here!" His voice! He has his own voice and actual speech again. "Instantaneous spell casting wasn't a total waste in school after all." His hand runs over his shirt and pinches the cotton; he's delighted to have actual fingers again. And thumbs! He'll never take his thumbs for granted again.

The senior witch shakes his head and pours the water from the bowl into the sink. "How did you even manage that?"

"Just a little accident in my shop," Jongdae says. "I'm not even sure what it was, but Jongin had something similar, so I knocked it onto Chanyeol." He grins at Joonmyun's exasperated sigh. "I was actually on my way here right after it happened, but I got lost."

"So you found my little brother, instead?"

Jongdae shrugs. "I knew you'd be seeing each other eventually."

Shaking his head, Jonmyun pours the water bowl into the sink. The trap coughs a couple sparks, but nothing much happens, otherwise. After rinsing the bowl, Joonmyun takes a kitchen towel and dries it, turning to Jongdae again. "Poor Jongin looked like he was going to faint. Why didn't you tell him?"

"I tried!" Jongdae pokes at Kyungsoo until the cat nips his fingers. "He thought I was just being cute." As adorable as he was, Jongdae now understands how frustrated children must be, when their parents don't get their babbling.

"Make sure you apologise to him. "

"I'll make it up to him, no worries."

Joonmyun rolls his eyes and sets the bowl on a different shelf. He's never been the tidiest of witches, but he still manages to find everything, mostly through Kyungsoo's intervention. The familiar watches Jongdae with narrowed eyes as they leave the kitchen.

Apologise, he growls.

Stuffing his hands into his pockets, Jongdae grins and nods. He can hear Chanyeol running around outside, a newfound appreciation for the world under his paws and air filling his nose. Jongin's sitting on the back step, looking half a minute from falling asleep. Jongdae's quiet when he sits next to him, consciously keeping a respectable distance of six inches between them.

"Hey."

"Hi, hyung," Jongin mumbles. He sounds miserable and stares at the lawn. It's thick and green, Joonmyun's magic in the water keeping everything lush and fertile. The flowering trees always seem to have flowers, if they don't have fruit, and the changing leaves have the decently to collect in neat piles right at their tree's roots.

"I'm sorry about all of this. I made a mistake and needed help; I didn't do any of it to tease you or make you feel uncomfortable." He nudges at Jongin's shoulder with his head when the younger witch remains sullen. "Hey, c'mon. Talk to me." He nudges him again, and Jongin shrugs his shoulder away.

"It's okay," he says. Jongdae doesn't believe him, but he's patient. "It's just...weird? Unexpected? Like, the farthest thing in my mind when you—cat-you—came up to me was that you were a person. I thought you were just really friendly!"

"I am friendly!" Jongdae grins at Jongin's tormented half-grimace. "I'm friendly, and you helped me and took care of me when I had no real idea what to do. You probably saved me." Jongin blushes. "And I was actually thinking," Jongdae comments airily, "that I know quite a bit about you, but you don't know all that much about me, so maybe we could go out sometimes. Although," he scoots a bit closer, "I can say right away that me as a man as me as a cat aren't too different. I'd like sitting on your lap and being pet, regardless."

Jongin covers his face with his hands, a drawn out whine in his throat. He jumps, making Jongdae jump, when Kyungsoo slithers under Jongin's arm to plant himself on Jongin's legs. He glares at Jongdae and flexes his claws, gently grabbing Jongin's jeans.

"Dude," Jongdae protests. "I didn't mean right now."

"When I said to talk to him, this is not what I meant," Joonmyun sighs. He sets out a bowl of water for Chanyeol, who bounds over and binge drinks it all just to throw his head around when a fock of birds lands on the lawn. Drool and water soak the trios' legs—and Kyungsoo leaps up to Joonmyun's shoulder—but Chanyeol doesn't care. He's used to the disgusted exclamations and that tone shouting his name; it's not as important as those birds invading his territory.

"Seriously, Jongin. Go out with me?" Chanyeol yips when a flock of birds divebomb towards him, pulling up sharply. He barks angrily and runs after them.

"Sure, okay," Jongin replies quietly. He's still blushing, which Jongdae thinks is cuter than any cat.

"Wow. Restrain yourself. I can't handle the enthusiasm." Jongdae bumps their shoulders together. "First date can be exorcising that wraith shade."

"Is that why my magic's not working?!"

"Don't worry." Jongdae grins, lips curled like a cat's. "It's why you have me, now."