“From Beyond the Veil”
by Jena Burne
The fire crackled and popped, filling the small home with the scent of smoke and warmth. Gus stirred the pot that currently simmered over the fire, waiting for the second and only other member of their small coven. They planned the ritual for midnight but their sabbat celebrations always started at sundown. Eli tended to argue that the gods weren’t punctual, so he shouldn’t have to be either. He’d arrive soon enough, though. Eli had never once let Gus down and he wouldn’t start today.
As if summoned, the door opened, swirling leaves around the room as the wind whipped through, following a man with sandy hair and deep brown eyes into the cabin. Eli was a good looking man and had been since Gus first met him when they were on the edge of manhood, joining the coven together. Only three years later, a hard winter of disease and famine took both their families from them. The remaining members of the coven moved back east, needing the security of the town. They tried to convince Eli and Gus to come with them but the two young men were determined to stay and deal with the elements themselves.
They didn’t just deal with them. Gus and Eli thrived, fixing up Eli’s family’s cabin, growing the food they needed, and somewhere along the way, falling in love. Their magic only grew stronger with their love and Gus looked forward to that night’s ritual with the man he adored by his side. Maybe after their Samhain magic, they would work some personal magic at home.
Gus wasn’t the only one feeling like that, it seemed, as Eli ignored Gus’s protests about the mess he was tracking in, far more focused on his lover than the floor. He crossed the room in three steps, stopping only to take Gus’s face in his hands and kiss him. His body grew hotter with heat that had nothing to do with the roiling fireplace. Gus kissed him back, hands working the buttons on the shirt his lover wore.
“Samhain,” he whispered against Eli’s lips, as if there was a chance the other witch might have forgotten the importance of the day.
“The dead can wait. I cannot.” Eli’s simple response made Gus’s blood race and his hands hurried to strip his lover of his clothes, dropping them on the floor. That simple act would draw amusement from Eli later, who often teased Gus about his relentless need to keep their home tidy. Then Gus would make a comment about how he never told Eli where to plant the beans and it would end – as all their silly arguments did – with a kiss and the two of them curled together in their favorite chair, laughing about the ridiculousness of it all.
That wasn’t important right now, though.
Once their clothes were off, the two of them tumbled onto the bed they had covered with thick quilts to fight off the late autumn chill. Right now, the fire kept the room warm enough and their bodies made up the difference. Legs tangled together, Gus rolled his hips, drawing gasps from one another as their lengths rubbed together.
Eli’s hands slid down Gus’s back, gripping his ass to hold him close as they rutted together. They rolled so Eli was under him and he spread his legs, a silent offering of a gift Gus knew he was blessed to receive. Reaching for the oil they kept near the bed, Gus slicked his fingers, pressing two into his lover to prepare him for their coupling.
He slid down Eli’s body to take his lover in his mouth, giving him pleasure with the sting of pain that always came with that initial push.
He worked quickly, bringing Eli to the edge of pleasure before pulling him back. Gus enjoyed the needy sounds he could pull from Eli, enjoyed reducing him to quivering and whimpering before finally pushing into his body. When he did, magic sparked around them in a way they were both growing accustomed to now. They were both strong witches, and when they came together, their magic created something new from their combined energy.
Each time was a little different and Gus took pleasure in seeing what they worked every time. That night, at the end of the witches’ year, all the light in the cabin lowered until long shadows cast on the walls, making their movements all the more pronounced with each of Gus’s thrusts into Eli’s body.
When they found release, Eli first, followed by Gus, all the light they kept in their home went out, leaving the full moon as the only barrier between them and complete darkness.
The light of the candles and fire flared back to life a few moments later as the two of them curled together, breathing heavily, skin slick with sweat as they came down from their shared heights of pleasure. “We still have a few hours until midnight,” Eli whispered, pulling Gus close. “We could have a short nap before…”
“Don’t even argue with me, Elijah Cameron,” Gus laughed, pushing lightly against his lover. “If we take a nap now, we will wake up in the morning and I don’t know about you, but I would prefer our families not make our lives miserable for the coming year.” Samhain was when the veil between the living and the dead was thin like gossamer; a light, almost tangible thing that allowed them to contact all who had gone before. This was the night to make offerings to their families, asking for protection and guidance over the coming year.
They’d never missed a year, but Gus expected their families would not be forgiving if they did. The dead had long memories, and it was best not to challenge them.
“Fine, Augustus,” Eli teased. “What do you suggest?”
“I suggest we eat dinner like we were supposed to when you came home, and then go get the bonfire started so we aren’t out there all night, waiting for the wood to catch.” Not that it would take all that long. A whispered word from either of them would set the wood ablaze. But Gus didn’t back down from an argument, no matter how inconsequential, and he didn’t intend to start now. (Stubborn was the word his parents and later Eli used to describe him best.)
Eli knew him well and simply kissed the back of his shoulder, getting up to retrieve their clothes from where they were dropped. He tossed Gus his clothes and then pulled on his own, under the appreciative gaze of his lover.
They dined on a thick stew of beans and squash from their garden, with roasted apples and a warming tea. A crusty bread finished their meal and both were full and satisfied by the time the moon was full overhead.
Slipping out into the brisk October night, they started the fire in the small clearing behind their home and began the ritual. Both chanted words they’d learned when they were children, magic passed down from one generation to the next. The power of their shared work built until the veil could almost be seen, a shimmer only visible to those with the gift of magic. On the other side, they knew their lost family members stood, watching, loving, and protecting them from any dangers they could.
It wasn’t foolproof magic. There were some things not even magic could prevent. But knowing their loved ones watched over them, feeling their presence on this most blessed of nights? That was enough for them both.
When the ritual was over, they sat next to one another, a blanket wrapped around them both, and ate sweets they’d made over the last few days. They would stay in the woods for the rest of the night, enjoying the warmth of the fire and the presence of the family they both still missed so dearly. When the sun rose on the first of November, it rose on two men in love, surrounded by magic both tangible and innate.