Bergsten knocked on his mother’s door.

“Mother?”

The woman stood at the other side, cautious. Her son had not been there in weeks, more used to what her ex-husband called “strong manners.” Bergsten had in fact left when she pleaded he stick around, and help his poor mother around the house.

“Mother?” Bergsten tried again. “I’m home.”

His mother opened the door, just enough to peek out. “This is home, now, is it?” She asked. “I thought you declared this the worst place on earth.”

Bergsten nodded, bowing his head in shame. “And I’m really sorry about that. And a lot of other things too.”

“Oh?” She opened the door further, and crossed her arms. “And what would those be?”

Bergsten stuck into the ground with his toe, trying to look away. “When I was five years old…I was starting to learn fire spells. And I lit the doily set on fire that stupid Aunt Begonia sent you that you never used, and lied and said that dad had done it. I’m sorry about that.”

His mother’s eyes bugged out, but he continued. “And, and two months after that? I said that my pet lizard had finished my vegetables, and that’s why I didn’t eat them, but I threw them in the garbage instead. I don’t think we even had a lizard. I’m sorry about that too.”

He kept continuing a list to his open-mouthed mother, in chronological order, of all the things he had to feel sorry for. Just down the street, Rowinda and Gallopy were with their own parents, telling of the pranks they had played on the town, on the family, on the familiars, even on each other. Erovin was bawling to his father, unable to hold it all in. Bob apologized once for hanging out with those friends, before setting back out to the Meadows to more thoroughly apologize to Thelonius Brickleboook.

All the onlookers were too stunned to notice the new rings on their left pinkies. Green stones, with a solid black band, wedged tightly on. The friends knew they were never going to come off, and that it would be a long while before they were done apologizing. They all agreed they had the better end of the deal, and fell into the enchantment with enthusiasm.

Arlyle and Bethany watched it all. They had already promised the evening to the Witch and badger, filled with cakes and dancing, and Arlyle even promised to play a game or two which caused no end of delight to the other three. But she watched Bethany, amazed at the smile on her friend’s face.

“Saying sorry isn’t enough,” she muttered.

“It’s a start.” Bethany hugged the goddess. “And I get to be with you.

Arlyle pushed her away, the first time she had ever done so. “I can’t just ignore this, Bethany. I deal in vengeance, this will happen again. Especially if we keep doing adventures.”

“And I’ll keep doing this again,” Bethany promised. “Happy vengeance. We’ll have adventures, and dole out justice with kindness, and be back in time for supper.”

Arlyle smiled this time. Wistfully, hopefully, or painfully, who could tell?

“What’s next?”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder