Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Character/Pairing: Salem, Sabrina
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts: ALL (Magical Flight/Supernatural Cat/Janet Jackson's Black Cat (I used the parts about being a bad boy and being gone too long and not giving loving)/Cleaning up after Others/Guardian or Protector/Summer's Heat/True or False/Musical Instrument)
Warning(s): Future Fic
Word Count: 2,324
Date Written: 16 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Archie Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
It's been a while since he's contemplated his life. It's been a while since he's taken the time and effort to really think about much. He's been far too tired lately for serious contemplation. The Summers here on Earth seem to get hotter every year. If it wasn't for Sabrina, he probably would have died from the heat this year, but she's worked hard to keep things cool, secretly adding zap to their regular air conditioner when the rest of their family hasn't been watching.
He supposes he should thank her for what does, but she's away too much. She's always busy with Harvey, their children, and her job. She so rarely has time for him these days. It's been nice tonight, though, having her home and actually being stroked by her and played with by the kids. There's still sweat in his long, black fur, though, and he's busily trying to clean himself while she darts around the living room, picking up toys, emptied plates, and cups.
He pauses with one leg held high and gazes intently at her from his deep, emerald green eyes. "True or False," he speaks, grinning as his soft voice sounding suddenly in the still of the room makes her jump, "you're a Witch."
"True," she says, immediately resuming her task, "but you know how Harvey feels. He doesn't want me using magic when the children are home. He's afraid they'll say something by mistake."
"How much longer," he returns, his tail tapping the couch, "until they zap something by mistake? I'm telling you, Sabrina, it's better they learn about things now before their own powers surprise them and you and Harv are nowhere around to help them." And neither, he thinks, is he. He licks his lips, lowers his leg, and continues studying her. "How many times," he asks calmly, "did you do something accidentally at school?"
She pauses in gathering items and looks at him thoughtfully. She knows he has a point; he can practically see the wheels turning in her mind. "Too many," she admits, "but I didn't come into my powers until I was sixteen. They still have plenty of time before they have to learn. You should be thankful he even lets you talk in front of them."
Salem's tail lashes. "Like he could stop me!" he exclaims. "I was eating mortals for breakfast long before that boy was born -- or his great grandparents were even born, for that matter!"
"Salem," Sabrina chides.
"I'm just saying he's being too damn careful and he can't stop me even if he wanted to. I'm a part of those children's lives -- "
Sabrina smiles. "And we're very lucky to have you," she puts in, effectively cutting off his tirade. "But they did tell the other kids at school that they have a talking cat at home. They wanted to take you for show and tell. Luckily, their teacher just thinks they have overactive imaginations."
His tail lashes again. "I'd like to show her an overactive imagination!"
He huffs but licks a paw. He should be teaching the children, not those old, powerless crones at the public school they attend! They can't teach them half of what he can! He could teach them and the brats at school several lessons they would never forget.
"It's important they learn to fit in," Sabrina says gently, "like I did."
"Yeah," his tail whacks the couch again, "so they can learn to clean house like a normal, mortal woman like you do."
"I do a lot more than clean house!"
"They're asleep, Sabrina. We could be having fun. Instead, here you are cleaning by hand!" he admonishes.
Sabrina stands in the middle of their living room that still looks like a small whirlwind whipped through it despite the heavy load in her arms. "Fine," she says. "I'll show you how normal I am!" She manages to wriggle one finger free enough that she's able to point at the things in her arms. They're returned instantly to their rightful places, toys in the toy boxes and dishes clean and in the kitchen cabinets. She continues pointing at things throughout the living room, returning them each to their rightful spots in their house, before zapping out the broom.
She sinks onto the couch beside Salem as she watches the broom sweep the room. She sneaks a glance toward the doorway, but she doesn't hear or see any one approaching.
"There," Salem says with a long, leisurely stretch, "isn't that better?"
She grins. "Yeah," she admits, "it is," and scratches his head.
He leans into her touch, purring. "You do that too little these days, you know."
"I still do it more than I did when I was a teenager," she teases.
His tail lashes out again. She brings her palm down his back in one long, slow stroke. He purrs and leans closer, forgetting to argue. For a while, they just sit there with her stroking him and watch the broom do its work. When it's done and leaning against the wall, Salem comments softly, the tip of his tail twitching, "You know, there was a time when brooms did more than sweep the house."
Sabrina laughs. "Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?"
He shrugs one furry shoulder. "If the broom fits -- "
"You think I won't do it!"
"I didn't say that." His green eyes stare solemnly up at her, quietly affirming her words. She jumps to her feet and points to the broom again. It spins, cleaning itself in a shower of sparks, before vanishing and reappearing in front of them. "I'll show you, cat. I'm still a Witch!" She sits on the hovering broom and grasps its wooden handle.
Salem grins. "That's more like it!" he exclaims. Tail alert with his joy, he pounces onto the bristles behind her. Sabrina starts to point at the door but hesitates. "Well?" Salem asks, his jubilant emotions beginning to sink.
Thinking better of using the front door, Sabrina points up at the ceiling, and it disappears from their living room. The broom raises slowly. Sabrina and Salem both peek out from where their ceiling should be to check their neighborhood. Everything's quiet and still. Not even one of the stupid dogs who Salem likes to sneak out of the house to torture when the weather's cooler is barking.
They soar into the night sky. The air's still hot and humid. Despite the darkness and the children being back in school, Summer has not yet relinquished its searing hold on them. "Can't you do something about the air?" Salem pouts. "I'm already beginning to sweat again."
Sabrina giggles like she hasn't in years and points at the air. A cool breeze wraps gently around them as they rise higher. "That's better." Salem purrs, his eyes closing as he leans into the cool touch.
"Hold on," Sabrina warns.
His claws dig into the bristles, and he reopens his eyes just as his Witch takes off into the night sky. They soar past the brightly shining stars, and he smiles as he watches her and thinks, It's about time. He's missed this side of his Witchling, and although she's grown and with kids of her own now, he still remembers the teenage girl who was the first one to gently stroke his fur.
He thought he'd be free of being a housecat by now, but he's come to doubt he ever will. The Council's afraid of him, and well they should be. When he was a Warlock, he made his own rules. He came close to successfully conquering their world, and the mortal world would have been a breeze after he'd conquered the magical realm. But it wasn't too busy. Sabrina's own aunt betrayed him. She wasn't the only one, but it was her deceit that hurt the worst.
And now, he thinks, his tail whisking in the cooled, night air, Hilda and Zelda have been gone from their lives for months. Zelda's actually getting to enjoy her childhood this time around, and Hilda's finally found a man to satisfy her needs. Perhaps if he'd loved her better, he thinks not for the first time, she might not have betrayed him. Maybe he could have conquered the worlds, after all.
But it wasn't too be, and if he had conquered the world, he and Sabrina never would have grown close. She would have been just another young Witch underneath his control. She wouldn't have known Harvey. They wouldn't have fallen in love, and she wouldn't have Zeze and Sammy now. He can't imagine his life without those two kids. He doesn't want to, to be honest.
His plan of global domination started with a good cause. He wanted to protect his people. He was tired of their persecution, exhausted of their people, who are so much better than the mortals, having to hide from them. He was exhausted by the mortals' fears and anguished by the horrible things they did to them. The Salem Witch trials were only one part of that nasty era. He'd seen so many suffer at the hands of angry, fearful, and weak mortals, seen so many bright lives snuffed out long before their time, heard too many cries, witnessed too many horrors . . .
Sabrina's gentle hand on his head interrupts his memories. He shakes his head, then butts her palm to keep her stroking him, and finally, and again not for the first time, admits to himself that he lost his way. Somewhere in all his strategic planning, he forgot the reasons he started his quest. He became power hungry, and that, truthfully, was the beginning of his downfall. He couldn't protect his world when he wanted to bend every one to his will.
And so he lost control. He was defeated and turned into a cat. For centuries, he lamented his current form, but he knows now that, if it wasn't for his new body, he wouldn't still have a part in Sabrina's life. He wouldn't be the best friend of his great niece and nephew. He wouldn't be here to see them grow up and protect them from the pains of the world.
Sabrina thinks they can live happily in the mortal world, but he knows better. He remembers her own tears as she was growing up, being there to guide her and help her overcome Libby and all the other terrible things that came her way. In the grand scheme of things, such bullies weren't much, but to a teenager, they seemed able to dominate their whole world.
No one, he vows, kneading the broom's bristles, will ever dominate his Zeze's or Sammy's world. No one will ever bully them. No one will ever hurt them. He may still be a cat, but being a cat who never ages has its advantages. He'll be with them to watch them grow up, and he will guide and protect them just as did Sabrina as she was growing up. And who knows? Maybe after they're grown, they'll find a way to get him his body back. He might still conquer the world after all, but for now, being a part of their world is enough.
"Do you hear that?" Sabrina's voice startles him out of his thoughts.
He realizes he's purring. His tail taps the broom. "Yeah."
He listens again, and then he hears it. They're above the stars, millions of miles above civilization, and way up here above the world, there's music. He hears the soft, lyrical strands of . . . Harps? Lutes? He listens closely, his furry head cocked to one side, Sabrina's hand comforting in his touch on his back, but for a long time, listening to the music, he can't figure out how it's being made. Then he remembers, and he smiles. "Well, I'll be," he draws out, his tail whisking joyously and very whiskers arching with his smile.
"What?" Sabrina whispers though there's no need to whisper. There's no one way up here to hear her but himself, the moon, and the stars.
"A long time ago," he speaks softly, "it was said the stars could make music. No one's heard them in centuries."
"No one's ever high enough," Sabrina says, but then she considers the way of the modern world. She remembers how busy she always is with so little time to take genuine time with Salem and her children as she did tonight, and she laments, "No one's ever quiet enough."
Salem nods thoughtfully. "You're all so busy, running around with your lives -- "
"Not again," she vows. "Not ever again." She scratches his head. "Thank you, Salem. You're right. I had forgotten what it's like to be a Witch."
"To be you," he amends, and she agrees, "To be me."
"You reminded me."
"It's what guardians are for," he says gently, and he knows now that that is his most important role of all those he has lived. He could have conquered the world, but it's more important that he's here for Sabrina and her children.
"I'll never forget again," she vows, stroking him and drifting them slowly lower and closer to the singing stars.
She will, but he doesn't call her on that tonight. He lets her believe she won't, that she'll always remember to be a good Witch and put all of her family first, but he silently promises himself and her, and their children too, that he'll always be around to remind them are what they really are and of their true roles in this life. They are many things -- their children will grow to be many more things --, but most importantly of all, they are family. They drift together among the stars, and Salem purrs along with their music, knowing, at last, that he's exactly where he belongs. The rest of the worlds can wait; he's got children to raise and a family to love and guide.