Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Character/Pairing: Salem, Sabrina with cameos from Zelda and Hilda
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts September 2018 Puzzle: ALL Categories: [Spoiler (click to open)]
Creature Features: Felines
Power Hour: Light/Star Manipulation
What's My Line: I wanna go home/But there's nobody there anymore
Classifieds Section: Singer
Sports and Recc: Football
Geology Rocks: Desert
Random Object: Boot
Sense and Sensibilities: Sight = Bright
Warning(s): Character Death, Future Fic, AU
Word Count: 2,839
Date Written: 29 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Archie Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
Author's Note: Wow! It's been three years already?! It doesn't seem possible! But what is possible is having a rocking time doing these puzzles! I so often don't know what in the world I'm going to come up with, but as I struggle to find something that fits all entries, I end up creating stuff I never would have come up with otherwise! Thank you, dancingdragon3!
Salem kneaded the satin pillow beneath him, but his tail didn’t swish. The motions served far more tonight as a means of comfort rather than delight, but even kneading one of Sabrina’s old pillows couldn’t give him what he needed. Nothing could. He gazed out at the vast, night sky as sparkling lights lit it up in her image. He’d heard the whispers lately. The students thought these displays should stop, but they couldn’t be more wrong. As the world kept turning, and he grew older, it was ever more important to remember the important things.
He’d been like them once. He’d been far more interested in partying and silly things like passing the old pigskin around, although the balls hadn’t been made from the skin of pigs when he’d been a boy, than in honoring anyone as a teen. As he’d grown older, his attention had shifted from fun to power. For hundreds of years, he’d had power, and he’d craved the accumulation of more. These days, he usually tried to focus on his better reasons for trying to conquer the world, like universal love and acceptance for all, when asked, but he rarely thought about those times.
Power was something he no longer wanted. He’d had power. He’d almost conquered both worlds. And then he’d been stripped of his power and cast as a cat, two of the most powerful Witches formerly under his command cursed to have to care for him until he either became a Warlock again or died as a cat. What they hadn’t counted on, and what he almost hadn’t seen until it had been too late, was that had not been a curse at all. He’d been given a family, people who had learned to genuinely care for him, but that was so long ago.
He felt so old, he thought as he watched the constellations shining with the light of his great nephew as he honored his mother. He’d watched lives come and go. He’d loved and lost. But none of them had ever affected him like she had. None of them ever would, he knew, for Sabrina had been much more than just his niece. She had been his soul mate in a way he’d never known soul mates existed.
She had been his better half, the yin to his yang, his guiding light. She had been the reason he had first come to believe in himself again for, despite all his chattering bravado, being stripped of his powers had left him feeling utterly incomplete. There had been days, and nights too, sometimes several at a stretch where he had wanted only to die rather than to face a world he couldn’t control. He still couldn’t control it. In fact, he had less control over it now than he’d ever had before. But she remained his reason for continuing, his guide even after her own life had completed.
She’d been a tricky one, that young Witch. After they’d lost Harvey, who was the only reason why he’d come to enjoy football again, she had thought of the future and made him make her a promise that he had so often regretted making. He would have broken his word with ease to anyone else, but for Sabrina, he would be honorable. He would keep his promise to her until the day he finally died and he would not quicken that day, no matter how much he ached to do so. He would watch over her children, guide them where he could, and keep running this school.
Salem sighed and hung his head, his ebony ears folding against his heavy head. Her beautiful smile was lighting up the night, and her nephew was doing a fantastic job of making the stars themselves resemble her, but he could no longer watch it. It was too painful. He buried his head into her old pillow instead, a gift he’d attained for her in her later years. It wasn’t fair, he thought dismally, not only that she should be taken from him but that she should be taken from this world while he remained behind. She had always been such a radiant light for so many people, and it was because of her love, wisdom, and patience that this school now existed, a place where not only young Witches and half bloods learned about their magic but where humans with Witches in their family trees also attended and learned to accept and protect their loved ones.
And she’d made him the Headmaster in the wake of her death over two hundred years ago. Him! Salem’s tail swished, striking out at empty air. He wasn’t leadership material! It didn’t matter what he had done in his younger days. It didn’t matter that he had almost conquered both realms or that he’d had thousands of troops believing in him. He wasn’t the same man he had been then; he wasn’t even the same cat he’d been when she had first moved into his room. She had changed him, all for the better, but she had changed him nonetheless.
The sky became so bright that he could see its brilliant light even with his eyes closed. Salem shifted, curled up into a tight ball, and tucked his head into the crook of his hips, successfully hiding the stars and fireworks that were meant to celebrate his Sabrina from his sight. Down below, he could hear a singer who was famous across both realms beginning to croon a song he’d written decades ago for his best friend. He began to weep, his sobs echoing in the office where he now spent most of his time hiding away from the real world. Oh, he was still watching over the children -- he literally had eyes all throughout this old castle --, but he was very seldom seen himself unless something happened that demanded his intervention. These kids didn’t get into nearly as much trouble as Sabrina had when she’d been young, but oh, what adventures they’d had!
Salem sniffed, big tears rolling down his little, furry face as he remembered a few of them. There was nowhere they had not gone and nothing they had not tried at least once. They’d faced Ogres and ancient, evil Witches and quiz masters who had little more sense than their pupils. They’d faced angry ex-boyfriends and lovesick Trolls who just would not stop. They’d faced the Council time and again, and although she’d been mad at him at times, she’d always come through for him in the end. There had even been the one time that Drell had cast them into the desert and yet she’d allowed him to have the last sip of water before, hours later, her aunts had finally rescued them.
And her aunts were still alive, he thought, marvelling at the incredible injustice of that fact. Zelda was incredibly intelligent and had given the humans more inventions than any other Warlock or Witch since Benjamin Franklin, but her sister, Hilda, was just the opposite. She was one of the dumbest Witches he’d ever met, the typical blonde bimbo, but she was still alive and healthy and had been sailing the rings of Saturn with her hot dog vendor husband the last he’d heard of her. They didn’t even seem to miss Sabrina.
He choked out another sob. It wasn’t fair! It just wasn’t fair! But then how often had Sabrina cried those very words when she’d first been learning about her Witchcraft? Back then he’d been the one to chuckle and tell her that life wasn’t fair, but the pitfalls of being a teenage Witch were nothing compared to living longer than one should. He never should have outlived her, but the mortal half of her blood had kept her from living even half as long as any other normal, full blooded Witch. It also had not helped that she had stepped in front of that dragon to protect those kids.
Salem’s stomach gurgled, and his jet black tail cut out at the air again. He’d never enjoyed eating anything like he had that endangered animal’s flesh! But of course, it hadn’t brought Sabrina back. Nothing would bring her back. It didn’t matter how many nights he made the kids forego their dances, parties, movies, and football games. Nothing was going to bring his Sabby back. He began to sob more heavily and louder, his tiny shoulders shaking.
He wanted to go home. The thought came to him as a surprise. He just wanted to go home! He wanted to go back to that old house in Westbridge, Massachusetts, the one that had been in the Spellman family for centuries. He wanted to go back to those days when Sabrina had been young and had spent so many hours pouting over the little things she’d thought, back then, were huge injustices. He wanted to go back to when she was a kid and she’d hold him and stroke him and some days they had seemed like the only friends each other had had.
He wanted to go back home, back home to her, but of course that was impossible. Even if he were to wrest the old house back from the mortals, it wouldn’t come complete with Sabrina. He could go back in time and try to relive the days he’d spent with her. Sometimes he even did that, but nothing would actually bring her back to life. Every time he visited her in the past, it got harder to leave. It was not because he cared so greatly about the past. It wasn’t the fact that he’d been younger and freer and perhaps even cuter. It was all about her.
His whole life had been turned upside down when he’d lost her, and the only thing that ever seemed to make him whole was being with her again. He’d almost brought her back with him the last time he’d returned to the future, but the punishment the Council had threatened him with -- to have taken him away from her not now in the future but back then so that he’d never had much time with her at all -- had been unthinkable. He’d had no other choice but to leave her in the past and stop visiting those old times least he risk everything again to try to bring her forward.
One more time of seeing her happy and alive might be more than he could take without bringing her forward, and he could not risk losing her to the point of never even having had her. To lose her friendship and love was terrible enough. Losing her was more than enough to make him ache for his own death. But the thought of never having had her was so unthinkable a tragedy. He would much rather have given up his own life, his powers, ever having been a Warlock, everything and anything he had ever possessed! Damn Drell for knowing that Sabrina was both the greatest thing that had ever happened to him and his greatest weakness!
He yowled, . . . and then jumped out of his curled position, his back arching and fur standing on end, when something brushed his fur. Zelda snatched her hand back. Looking down at him, she chastised, “Salem!”
“GIVE A GUY A WARNING!” he snapped, his tail striking menacingly at her. “I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ANYWHERE NEAR!”
“Of course I’m near,” she said in a small, quiet voice. “Salem, it was two hundred years ago today that we lost Sabrina. Do you really think I’d be anywhere else?”
“You did say you had a science convention in Transylvania,” he pointed out to her, his ebony fur slowly beginning to lay back down across his arched back.
“Yes, and as soon as it was finished, I came. I had to go,” she spoke defensively. “You know Benjamin Franklin is alive again.”
“Of course he is,” he muttered, casting a dark glower against the wall, pointedly away from her and the outdoors where the celebrations of Sabrina’s life and all she’d changed and meant to so many thousands of people were continuing to take place. His tail struck the air again.
Zelda sighed. “I know it isn’t easy,” she said, gently touching his furry, tensed shoulder, “and I know it doesn’t seem fair -- “
“It isn’t fair. I should’ve died,” he mumbled, hanging his head once more, “not her!”
The sudden sound of boots striking the floor stopped almost as soon as they’d began. He smelled Hilda’s favorite perfume, the same brand she’d opted to wear for the last five hundred years or so. “So we’re all together again,” he remarked darkly. “All but the one who most deserves to be here.”
“Don’t talk like that!” Zelda admonished him.
“I could leave,” muttered Hilda.
“No! No! Stay! Sabrina would want us all here. She’d want us together, remembering her together, comforting each other, not fighting.”
Salem sighed and let his head drop back down. “You’re right,” he murmured, striking the air with his tail yet again before curling it around his furry buttocks and tucking it in beneath him. Of course they’re right. Sabrina had always been about love, and in the end, the greatest love had not been the one she’d been trying to build as a teenager with Harvey or even the one they had shared, which had proven to be legendary, but the one shared by family.
“Of course I’m right,” Zelda said gently, “and we’re here.” She stroked him.
“We had to come,” Hilda added, walking up beside her sister and scratching the top of Salem’s furry head.
“Nothing would have kept us away. You know, Benny wanted me to go to Pluto with him tonight, but I told him I couldn’t. I was needed elsewhere. He actually came,” she admitted in a quiet voice, “after I told him about Sabrina and all she achieved. He said no one with mortal blood had achieved so much since he and the others in 1776 achieved America’s independence.”
Hilda made a face. “I don’t -- “
“He’s right,” Salem cut in.
“Of course he is, and we celebrate her for all she was and all she did. But she wouldn’t want us to be alone or miserable without her. She’d want us to keep loving each other.”
Slowly, Salem turned his head back to watch the night sky and the continuing display of fireworks. “You’re right,” he whispered dismally.
“Of course I am. I’m always -- “
“Zelly, not now.”
“You’re right,” Zelda admitted with a small sigh. “I’m sorry.” She petted Salem. “And I’m sorry I couldn’t be here sooner.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be here faster too,” Hilda apologized, surprising him. “Traffic was ridiculous. Will didn’t want to leave. I ended up leaving him. I wasted over a hundred years with that man -- “
“Hilda,” Zelda quietly reprimanded her sister, “not now.”
“You’re right, Zelly,” Hilda agreed with a sigh. “I’ll worry about divorcing him tomorrow. Tonight, all that matters is Sabrina.” The sisters resumed stroking Salem’s fur as all three of them stared out at the night and their niece’s face lighting up the midnight sky.
Of course all that matters is Sabrina, Salem thought, although he was uncharacteristically silent. All that ever mattered was his Sabrina. He just wished he’d seen that when she’d still been alive.
“Benny told me something interesting tonight,” Zelda remarked quietly after several long minutes had passed with only the sound of the haunting melody drifting up from below and the fireworks continuing to explode high above them. “He told me there’s a place where we go after our life here is over. We’re given the choice of rather we want to come back or not. If we choose not to, we go on to another place, another realm, I guess you might call it. We are given the choice again later every so often -- that’s why he finally returned after being gone so long -- but in the meantime we stay in that realm with the others who have left this life.”
“So basically,” Salem said, “a Heaven. You’re saying Heaven exists?”
“I’m saying there’s a place where we’ll be with her again,” Zelda clarified, stroking his back. “We haven’t seen the last of her, Salem. We will see her again.”
He nodded. “And that,” he purred, “will be Heaven!” He couldn’t wait, but he had to. He’d made Sabrina a promise, and nothing would keep him from keeping that promise, even his own heart being broken by her loss. But when his time on this Earth was done, he would see her again. He’d go home to his Sabrina at last. His purr deepened, and he smiled for he knew, at long last, that in the end, everything would be worth it. He’d be made whole again. He would go home again. He’d be with Sabrina again, and that was all that mattered. He’d go home to her, to Heaven, and stay with her happily forever after.