• "Gah!" Ritsu cursed. She had been fumbling around in the kitchen for hours and the strange concoction in the pot looked nothing like the book described. It was supposed to be a smoky color, but what she had produced looked more like dirt water. She inhaled deeply and nearly vomited. When it came to potion making Ritsu was hopeless! She probed at the liquid with a spoon helplessly. Homeschooling in witchcraft was harder than she had thought it would be. To be an accomplished witch you had to master the skills of potions, curses, projections, and charms. None of which were to Ritsu's favor. She failed more than she succeeded and her parents never let her forget it. Growing up with three magic genius brothers, Ritsu got tired of being stuck in their shadow. So one day when she had finally had enough she packed her bags and left. She decided to live among mortals and have a normal life as a normal teenage girl, like all the girls she read about in Shojo manga. The only problem with that was that she wasn't a normal teenage girl, she was a witch, and witches didn't make many friends amongst mortals when they knew who you were. So she kept a low profile the best she could, and lived quietly. It was harder than she had anticipated. She had to find a place to stay, pay for school, and get money for food and other necessities. She had never really taken time to learn about mortal lives. When she arrived she soon found out that it was nothing like the world she had imagined. So far she had been able to find an apartment for cheap and found work at a nearby cafe. School, she discovered in the middle of summer, didn't start until September. So she spent her time touching up on her witch craft with books she found at the immortal realm store. That’s also where she got her potion ingredients; the cashier just looked at her funny when she asked if they sold frog guts and Wolf’s bane at the local grocer.
    School started tomorrow, and Ritsu was so excited that she was even more clumsy and likely to screw up than ever, (if that was possible) Hence the ruined potion. Ritsu abandoned her attempt at making it remotely close to what it was supposed to be and dumped it down the sink.
    Oddly shaped bottles were strewn about the kitchen counters, oozing liquid dripped onto the linoleum floor, the stove an utter disaster covered in gunk. Too peeved to clean up Ritsu took off her black and grey patched apron and headed for the livening room. Three steps later, she was there, grabbing a book from her shelf, she sat down in her cushioned chair and began to read.
    Beep! Beep! Beep!
    Ritsu jumped up and squealed with excitement. The timer meant it was bed time, bed time meant when she fell asleep and woke up again, it would be her first day of mortal school! Ritsu pointed at herself, there was a pop and she was in her pink jamies. She ran the five steps to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, washed her face, and ran another six steps into her room. She pointed at her alarm clock to set it, turned off her light and hopped into bed, anxiously awaiting her first and last first day of mortal school.
    The next morning Ritsu sprang out of bed the second her alarm went off. She reached for her school uniform she had set out the day before and started to pull them on when she realized she still had her pajama's on. She struggled with the buttons of the pajama shirt, completely forgetting that she was a witch and could just zap them off, and it was this reason why she woke up twenty minutes before school started. When she was all dress and ready, she went into her bathroom to examine herself in the full length mirror. She pulled her reddish brown hair up into a long wavy ponytail with sparkly clips; a pink streak ran through her hair, something all witches were born with, the color depending on their personality. She had put on makeup to attract attention to her hazel eyes. She looked cute in her blue and grey uniform, a short grey pleated skirt with blue trimming, a white blouse covered with a matching grey blazer also with blue trimming, and a blue tie. She had never worn a uniform before, and now that she had one on she only wanted to look at it. She stood in front of the mirror for a minute admiring her appearance.
    "OH!" She exclaimed. She had just remembered, she ran into her room and came back a second later with her backpack, she wanted the full effect of what a school girl looked like. She looked just like the girls in her favorite manga. When she was done she went back into her room and sat down on her bed....she had forgotten something, she knew, but what.......?
    "Yikes!" She yelped and looked at the clock; it was two minutes before school started. Ritsu leaped to her feet, grabbed her bag and left out the door. It wasn't too far, but it would still take a while to get there if she ran. Witches didn't really have to worry about fitness when you could have almost anything you wanted just by a point or flick of the finger. As Ritsu ran she really wished that she had run more often. If she weren't in the mortal world she would just simply take her broom or have her mother zap her there, but you don't see flying broomsticks or people appearing from no where every day. She got there ten minutes after the bell. There was a flutter of excitement as she entered the front doors......being fashionably late would attract a lot of attention, she daydreamed on her way to her first class, maybe she would catch the eye of a handsome young gentleman when she walked through the classroom door, one with brown eyes! Or so her manga had said. But what the manga didn't say, was that you couldn't be "fashionably late" being late at all at this school was just considered weird. As she went through out her day, she discovered a lot of things that her manga didn't mention about real life. To name a few, if you read a lot, were clumsy, good at math, and tell people you know how to make a Deadly Shade (poisonous plant) shake, you are considered even more weird than when you were if you come in late. In one of her classes she got scolded for having the pink in her hair and was told it was against school rules, telling them she was born with it didn't help, and when they asked for your last name and she told them she didn't have one, matters only got worse. In the witches’ world names weren't given, they were earned. Ritsu wasn't having any luck fitting in what so ever.
    It was after school in the library where Ritsu fell in love. She searched through the shelves, mesmerized by the large collection. She had, had a library back home, but it was only filled with slimy, stained, or torn books on witchcraft. It was only by luck that she came past the store that sold manga one day. What a store that sold manga was doing in the immortal world, she didn't know. Ritsu stepped around an aisle and saw him there, sitting alone at one of the tables. There was a book open in front of him, and he sat reading quietly to himself. He was tall with black shaggy hair. As put in her manga, it was love at first sight. If she really was in her manga, there would be sparkles and bubbles surrounding him. Such pictures were included in her daydreams. She wanted so bad to talk to him, but since everyone seemed to think her weird, she thought better of it. That maybe when everyone didn't think of her so, that maybe then she could. She went back to looking at books when she noticed an entire section of manga. Her eyes bulged, and she dashed over to it in excitement, she was in utter bliss. She opened one to take a look when she felt someone staring over her shoulder.
    "Looks kind of stupid if you ask me." Someone behind her said. Ritsu turned around to face them. A tall boy with blonde punk spiked hair stood before her. He looked like he had just come from a rock concert. He had rings and bracelets on his hands, his blazer was off, his tie loosened, and the top button undone. Ritsu scowled.
    "But no one asked you now did they? And even if they did, you haven't even read it so how would you know?"
    "I bet you haven't even read it either, so who are you to say whether it’s good or not." He retorted. Ritsu was stumped, he was right; she hadn't even read it yet. She was frustrated, this punk kid coming in here and criticizing books when he hadn't even read it himself. He was obviously one to judge, probably didn't even like books, she thought.
    "Who do you think you are, coming in here and criticize books that you haven't even read?"
    "I didn't say that I didn't read it, but I bet you it is stupid. It's even got pink ponies on the cover!" He smirked.
    "It does not, they're.....bears. Who cares anyway, I don't even know you!" Ritsu said, and then stalked off, checking out the manga before she left. When she got home and read it, to her dismay, he was right. It was in fact stupid, but it did nothing to make her like him anymore. Her views on manga were slightly diminished.

    As the week went by, things got better and better each day. She would always stay after school in the library and sneak glances at the boy; he was there every day studying. She hadn't seen his face yet, didn't even know his name. She would daydream about his mysterious face, and that he had brown eyes. Someone like him had to have brown eyes, she was sure of it! Before Ritsu knew it, sixth months had past, during that time she was able to make at least one friend but according to everyone else, she was weird too. Her name was Maggie Thomson; she had straight black hair and blue eyes. Ritsu and Maggie met in her third period class, biology. They were set as lab partners and with both of their bubbly attitudes they instantly hit it off. Ritsu only wished she could say the same about Maggie's friend Jeram.
    "Ritsu, hey!" Maggie waved over to her motioning for her to come. School was over now and the halls were littered with students anxious to get home. Ritsu made her way through the crowd over to Maggie.
    "Hey Maggie, what is it?" Ritsu wasn't very eager to know, she had to hurry home and work on potions. Doing both witchcraft study and mortal school work was a bigger hassle than what she thought, though everything wasn't what she "thought".
    "I want you to meet one of my friends; we've known each other since elementary school. C'mon, he's waiting in the library." Ritsu brightened at the mention of the library, and a new friend to meet. They entered and made their way to the back where Maggie's friend was supposed to be waiting. He had his back too them skimming through a random book he had taken off the shelf. Maggie came up behind him and tapping him on the shoulder she said,
    "Jeram! I want you to meet Ritsu!"
    Jeram glanced over his shoulder and placed the book back on the shelf. When he turned full to face her, Ritsu realized that she had met him before. Her jaw dropped, standing before her was the same punk she met before!
    "Ritsu, this is Jeram! Be nice and close your mouth, there is nothing to gap at." Maggie nudged her. Ritsu closed her jaw, but still didn't say anything. Jeram gave a short laugh, ran his hands through his hair and said jokingly, "Isn't it obvious she's gaping at my dashing good looks?"
    Maggie laughed.
    Psh, you wish!
    "Okay, quit joking around. My mom should be here soon so talk if you want, but I got to go. See ya Jeram, Ritsu!" Maggie waved good bye and left them alone. There was a short awkward silence after she left during which Ristu imagined turning Jeram into a toad.
    Conceited, rude, and judgmental, go figure. Probably thinks the same about me too then.......
    "I was only joking you know," he said.
    "About what?" She asked.
    "I'm not that conceited." He pointed out.
    Maybe I was being a little judgmental, maybe he isn't that bad.
    "I'm guessing you read that book didn't you? I was right wasn't I, it was stupid wasn't it?"
    Never mind....
    "Yes, I did read it. And for your information it was very.....interesting, and I just might read it again!"
    "Yeah right," He laughed, "I read that one day when I was bored, it’s not all that great."
    Ritsu glared at him before stalking off in defeat, ever so tempted to zap him into a fluffy pink bunny rabbit. She left the library, but not before stealing a glance at the mysterious boy. If only there were some way she could get him to notice her, to turn around and talk to her.

    When she got home Ritsu was in a foul mood. Now that she thought about it, she was acting rather stupid. All of this over a stupid manga? She paused in horror for a minute.
    Ah! What am I saying?! Manga is not stupid! I'm sorry manga!
    She cursed herself for several minutes before going onto her potion work. She skimmed through the old book and stopped abruptly when she spotted a recipe titled "Liquid love". She squealed in delight and began at work.

    Friday after school, Ritsu quickly made her way to the library carrying a water bottle filled with what seemed to be water. Her bad mood had completely vanished yesterday when she discovered the recipe. What she was carrying was actually a bottle filled with "liquid love", or a love potion. It was the first one so far that she had gotten on the first try, and she was intent on trying it out on a certain someone. The effects would be immediate, it said, and would last for one week. After one week, if the person hasn't truly fallen in love with you, then they will forget it ever happened and their feelings will vanish. Ritsu was set on giving it to him anyway, if he didn't fall in love with her, then he would forget everything and things would go back to normal, she was content with that. It was just like one of her manga! Those looking down upon her from above shook their head helplessly, Ritsu, Ritsu. If only she knew.
    She walked into the library and was shocked to see Jarem approaching her, so shocked she dropped her bag, papers and books spilled onto the floor.
    "Shoot!" She cursed, and bent down to pick up what she could with one hand. Jarem hurried over to help her.
    "No, no, no I'm fine, here hold this." She handed him the bottle of potion so she could pick things up easier. She didn't dare put it on the ground in case it spilled.
    "Hmm, what is this stuff? It tastes pretty good!"
    "Nothing, just strawberry flavored water--Wait you..... YOU DRANK IT?!" Ritsu abandoned her things and snatched the bottle out of his hands. It was completely empty, Ritsu's heart sank. Now what was she going to do? Jarem would probably.......no! Ritsu threw the bottle at the floor, cursing herself, and Jarem a thousand curses.
    "I didn't tell you to drink it you idiot! I told you just to hold it!"
    "Oh....I thought you said I could have it." Jarem said innocently.
    "Look, if it meant that much to you, then why don't I repay you and treat you to lunch or something."
    "Wha...." Ritsu couldn't say a word, she was petrified.
    "Maggie told me where you live; I'll pick you up Saturday around noon. Be ready, okay, See ya!"

    And so began Jarem's unexpected love.....Or was it?
    Ritsu walked through her apartment door, still in shock. She dragged her legs to the chair in the living room and fell into it. She sat for about ten minutes before she suffered the full impact.
    "No!!!" She screamed.
    Out of all the people in the school, the universe even, it had to be him! She banged her head with her fist. There was no way out of this. She thought about not showing up Saturday but then, Maggie would hear that she stood him up and might not be her friend any more. That, and he was picking her up, even if she faked sick, he would probably come in to take care of her. She was stuck.
    It might not be that bad, she told herself. Maybe he would turn out good after all......Please!
    Ritsu spent that night in agony, fighting with herself. Half of her was delighted at the idea of a date, and the other mortified, because it was with him. And seeing as there was no way out of it Ritsu had no other choice but to let her better self pick out the darn outfit. She rummaged through her closet miss-matching every piece to see what would look best. It took her an hour, but she finally decided on a soft pink spaghetti strap dress with a jean jacket over it, Flip flops and flower hair pins.
    When Saturday afternoon came, Ritsu was dressed and ready to go exactly at 12:00 PM. She actually surprised herself at being slightly nervous. Jeram showed up looking nice in his casual clothes, He wore a band t-shirt with black long sleeves under it, and jeans. He seemed different than when he did at school. Ritsu was forced to admit that he did, in her exact words, " look exceptionally dashing". He was nice to her, they didn't fight once on their way to the restaurant. He made good conversation and flattered her. She learned that he did like books, which was why he was usually in the library. He loved music as well, something he said he was very passionate about. When lunch was over they walked around town talking. As they talked Ritsu realized how kind he really was. Her first impression of him was a conceited, judgmental jerk, but discovered, as she had so many times that year, things weren't how she thought they were, and he had brown eyes.
    Five days came and went. Jarem had asked Ritsu out on another date before they said goodbye the first time, and often hung out with her at school. It was somewhat a new experience for Ritsu, she wasn't sure what was happening to her. What she had felt for the mysterious boy was different from this somehow. As she got to know Jarem, things changed. And when her final day came, she was sad that it was ending, she wished that that week could last forever. On their final date, they walked, hand in hand, through a park. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom all around them. It was a warm spring day, and Ritsu found herself again wishing that this could last for eternity. They walked on in silence, enjoying one another's presence.
    "Ritsu," he said, breaking the silence.
    "You know the first time I realized I liked you was when we first met in the library. You got mad at me and ran off."
    "Really, that long?" She asked in surprise, how could he have liked me then? He hadn't had the love potion.....
    "It might sound kind of weird, but I would come into the library hoping you would be there. I wanted to talk to you, but I didn't know how. And when Maggie introduced us I was just so scared I didn't know what to say and ended up making you hate me. I didn't think I would ever get a date with you! I was really surprised last week went you said yes."
    Ritsu stopped dead. Did that mean that he liked me all along, or is this just the effect of the love potion? But then.....how could it be?
    "You have been in love with me, for this whole time?" She asked.
    "Yep! Though, you were a little weird at first, you were always peering over at the dummy at one of the tables. The school put it there last year, they made it real life like didn't they? It kind of creeped me out when I first saw it, thought it was a real person!" He laughed and kissed her on the head.
    Are you KIDDING me?! All that time, I was in love with a.....with a DUMMY?!
    Up above, those who look down upon young witches who would do anything for love, laughed lovingly at Ritsu. The young witch who could only accomplish anything through her mistakes.