"I've made up my mind. I'm going to talk to Lupa. I think I do owe her an apology."
It was hard for me to admit, and it had taken days for me to come to this point. It was hard enough to process the fact that my parents and the other witches had most likely caused the flood which swept them all away, but to admit that I had been wrong about Lupa all these years - that she had been chasing after me to save, not to harm - that took some real soul searching.
"You know I love you no matter what, Moon. But I'm glad you're doing this."
Oak kissed me once more for good luck, then I was off in search of Lupa.
I caught up with her in what seemed an auspicious place - our little Garden Grove. My heart beat faster as I saw her approach. I calmed myself again, determined not to turn this meeting into yet another shouting match.
"Erm, Lupa. I need you to... I mean.. I have something to say, and I hope you will listen."
Lupa yawned in my face and couldn't have looked more bored if she had tried.
"Yes, witch. Get on with it. I have things to do."
My temper began to flare, but I counted to ten, like Oak had suggested, and started over.
Umm. Lupa. I'm sorry for the way I've treated you all these years. I... the night of the storm... I thought... I didn't know you were trying to save me. I can't remember anything from that night except for being chased through the woods. Oak found a book, there was a record of what happened. And... uh... thank you for what you did."
I sighed in relief. I had done it. Now it was up to Lupa. Oak had warned me that it might not be as easy as I thought, but the hard part was over now, or so I thought.
"Whoa... whoa there, witch. Do you really think that a few well spoken words can make for the past? That I'll just forgive and forget, and we'll all be best friends?"
"Um.. well.." Actually, this is exactly what I had thought. But I could see now what Oak had meant, that it wouldn't be as easy as I had expected.
"'Um.. well..?' Is that all you have to say? Spit it out, Moonflower. Is that what you want?"
Oooooh.. was she trying to make me angry on purpose? It was hard to remain calm, but there was so much as stake. I squared my shoulders and looked her in the eye.
"Yes. That's what I want. It might not happen today, or next week. But that is what I want us to work toward, yes."
Lupa was silent, and I felt like I was on a roll, so I plowed ahead with my next idea.
"And to start things off, I would like to invite you and your family to Mandrake's birthday celebration tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? You can't really be serious, can you? You know tomorrow is full moon. I promise you, I will make sure I and mine stay as far away from your little gathering as possible.
"And I suggest you keep better control of your oldest boy. I can also promise you that a repeat performance of the way he treated Andrae at your last gathering, will not go well with him. If you can do that, perhaps.. in time.. who knows."
At that she shrugged her shoulders briefly in dismissal before turning back to the reason she was there in the first place - Oak's magic steak plants.
The next afternoon everyone gathered at the playground for Manny's birthday celebration. Lupa was true to her word; there was no sign of the wolves on this eve of the full moon.
After thinking about it, I realized that it was for the best. Lupa was scary enough in human form. I'd only seen her in her wolf form once, many years ago, and to tell the truth, I wasn't eager to repeat that experience.
The cheering and horn blowing were in full cadence, when I heard a voice that seemed different, out of place. I glanced back to the spot the children had staked out in the sand, and was shocked to see a little wolf boy had arrived and was joining in the celebration with gusto.
I debated stepping over to the little wolf and asking him if his mother knew he was there, but this was Manny's time to shine.
Val and Eagle were cheering Manny on at the moment, but I remembered what would come over Val during a full moon, so I never took my eyes off him. I definitely didn't want a repeat of what had happened to Andrae with the small wolf child.
I encouraged Manny to watch over Rudy - that was the name the little wolf gave us - and Manny didn't disappoint, keeping Rudy occupied on the swing while I supervised. I hoped that perhaps Rudy was too young to change forms; maybe that was why Lupa had allowed him to come.
But as the full moon rose and its light filtered through the trees into our little park, I heard a small growl behind me. Val reacted immediately.
"Grr..I'm gonna make that little wolf sorry he was here."
"No Val!" I grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him.
"Listen to me! Don't you dare ruin everything I've tried to do the last few days! Remember we talked about this!"
He stared at me defiantly for a few seconds, but soon backed down.
He was not happy about it in the least, however. I don't think he could quite believe that his dad was actually carrying on a pleasant conversation with Rudy. It was strange, having a wolf in our midst, but even though he had quite a fearsome look about him, it soon became obvious that he was just a little boy still.
I wasn't even too nervous when he asked Aster to play tag with him and she agreed. I warned both of them to stay within the torchlight though - no chasing off into the dark!
At some point during all the racing around, I cornered him and asked him if his mother had let him come to the party.
"Um. I was just out running around and I saw everyone. It looked like so much fun. You're not mad are you?"
Well, that wasn't what I had asked, but I guess I had my answer.
"Of course I'm not mad. I'm glad you came. Maybe when Aster has her birthday you can come help us celebrate again."
We ended the night with a rousing game of hopscotch in the sand. Val was still not pleased with the current turn of events, but I was thrilled that the mending of the relationship with the wolves had finally begun.
Lavender finally gave in and fell asleep in the sand, worn out from all the excitement.
But at the end of the night, Lily was still raring to go as usual.
"NOoooooo daddy. Wanna stay at da park! NOooooo!"
I could hear her protests echoing as Oak carried her back home. I gathered up Lavender and followed behind.
Much later, after everyone else was asleep, Oak and I crawled into bed, the full moon still shining through the window on us.
"I'm really proud of you, Moon. You did good tonight."
"It was a good start, don't you think? It can only get better, right?"
"Absolutely. What say we do a little celebrating ourselves?"
He winked at me, and I grinned up at him. I didn't answer in words..
The next morning we all gathered as usual at the edge of the water for our daily ritual. Every day it was becoming quicker and easier as Val and Manny became more proficient, and Aster started to learn the spell.
As I performed the familiar motions, my mind wandered back to the book Oak had found. What had my ancestors done to destroy the balance between land and sea, and make this daily ritual necessary? And what were my parents and the others trying to summon that backfired so cruelly?
The spell was complete, the sea would remain in it's place for another day. Perhaps one day we would discover the answers to my questions, but not today. Today was for living, playing, loving.
Today was for celebrating the start of a new era in the history of Coconut Island.
This is the end of Moonflower's story. Who will carry on the torch as the First Degree of Separation? Will it be Evil Val, Insane Eagle, Diva Meg, or Disciplined Andrae? Or perhaps even one of the younger set? Stay tuned to find out!