Awww, I feel sad.
This story has been part of my everyday life, and now it's finished.
Enjoy, leave some feedback and give me suggestions please of some other Worst Witch stories within reason.
End of Term.
Mildred was taking a nighttime walk through the school - like Cackles, Pentangles had a curfew, but as long as she paid attention to the night bell she wouldn't in any trouble. She had been doing this a lot recently, leaving her bedroom and taking nightly walks, but she had so much going through her mind but luckily she'd been able to concentrate on her lessons.
End of term was coming up, fast, and the end of term exams were creeping up on the school - Mildred felt moderately confident with the exams that Pentangles would be hosting than she would have been if she were still in Cackles, and everyone was stressed out revising for them (Mildred included, but she was taking this little break to clear her head,) including the kids from the magical families. The girls from Cackles were the most stressed out because they had come to Pentangles and were now having to learn different forms of magic, so instead of just needing to worry about potions and spells they had to worry about other fields of magical study.
She had felt a small amount of sadistic pleasure watching everyone like Ethel Hallow have problems with magic, but after a time it had become rather dull to watch Ethel struggle with the different type of magic taught here at Pentangles.
Mildred knew how they felt; she had had problems getting her head around potions and spells when she had first arrived at Cackles, but when she had arrived at Pentangles, she had been over the moon when she had learnt there were lessons where the subject was taught to the students instead of the students already knew most of the techniques of the class beforehand.
But the end of year tests was causing stress for everyone. It had been a few weeks since Agatha and her coven had attacked the school, and she had imprisoned them in that picture of Cackles Academy, and yet the entire school had returned to normality though there was a growing interest in enchanting as a result, delighting Miss Bluebell, who was over the moon with the influx of interest. Mildred wondered how long it would last since many of the students, witches mostly, gave up because they lacked the gift, but it didn't matter.
Mildred had her mind on other things, but Agatha was featured in many of them. She let her mind wander to the aftermath of the attack..
"We found out I could lift off pictures out of my drawings shortly after I learnt that I could make them move," Mildred explained to the group crammed into the Headmistress' office - she had never seen it so full before. Many of the Pentangles and Cackles staff were in the office out of curiosity, though Miss Pentangle and Miss Cackle had told them to attend to the rest of the students.
Mildred wasn't sure whether to be flattered or concerned so many people wanted to learn more about the strange power and talent she had found out about, but she was grateful that she knew about it because it could have taken years or never to unlock it at Cackles, assuming she'd been able to stay considering how she seemed to lurch from one disaster to the next.
"We decided, Miss Bluebell and the other enchanters who had come to review my talent and even help me get better at using it, to keep it under wraps until you could see it. I just wanted to improve the gift before I showed it to you," Mildred said to Mrs Hallow, "but you've already seen it."
The Great Wizard looked sternly at her (even now after finding out she did have magical heritage, the old mage still looked at her with a purplish colour to his face, but it was lessened slightly because he knew she had magical heritage), "Yes, but why did you send those copies of yourself, and why did you send that army of empty knights?"
Mildred sighed mentally. She took the picture of Cackles which had the coven Agatha had brought to Cackles out and showed it to them. "The answer is right here. It took me a long time to draw this picture, Your Greatness, and I knew that with the coven looking for me because they thought I would just hand my powers over to Agatha without question, they could burst into my bedroom at any time. I sent those duplicates of myself to keep them busy. I just needed to buy time for myself."
"What about those knights?" Miss Hardbroom asked. "What was the point behind those, Mildred Hubble?"
Mildred felt rather than saw her ancestor stiffen at the tone of the potions mistress, but she got in before spells could fly. "It was to give me more time, I needed to get close to Agatha, but I couldn't do that without someone noticing me get close. It was a risk, I know, but I wanted to get everyone in one place so I could put them in the picture."
"What was it those knights were chanting?"
Mildred smiled as she recalled those fun times when she had been a little kid, watching Angela Lansbury who played Miss Price and David Tomlinson as Professor Brown and those kids, Carrie, Charlie, and Paul go on a string of magical adventures, like to Portobello road and the Isle of Naboombu, only to animate those suits of armour, and old soldier costumes and make them fight the Germans in the Second World War.
She shook her head and concentrated on the discussion at hand. "Just something I saw out of a movie a few times during my childhood, I thought it appropriate," she said.
Neither Mrs Hallow or the Great Wizard wanted to go into too much detail after that, both of them knew enough about the non-magical culture to know what a movie was, but neither had any interest in that world. It was similar to how the rest of the magical world saw that world; it was like being in a glass house watching the rest of the world fly past, being aware but never a part of it.
Mrs Hallow looked seriously at her - Mildred wished she knew the woman well enough to know what was running through her mind, but after a few minutes of trying hard to work out what was going through her brain, and Mildred was stumped. "And this is an enchanting talent?"
"And you didn't think it better to contact other authorities to arrive at the school and deal with Agatha Cackle and her coven?"
"I didn't know how to contact the authorities, and I didn't know of any authorities that would get here in time," Mildred replied as politely as she was able so then she could give the best impression to this woman. "And besides, Agatha would have found a way of escaping eventually; she's done it before, and she burnt down a school along the way, endangering dozens of lives."
"What made you realise that she had burnt down Cackles, Mildred?" Miss Cackle asked but the painful way she asked that question was heard by everyone despite her best efforts.
Mildred turned to the elderly witch, realising that this was the first time she had actually spoken to the headmistress after leaving Cackles. "I didn't," she said simply.
"Excuse me, but didn't you believe she had burnt down the castle?" One of the council witches asked.
"I guessed," Mildred clarified, "it was a last minute thing. It was just a suspicion I had when I saw the coven here, but.. I dunno what made me think it was Agatha, but she just attacked Pentangles shortly after Cackles was burnt down. It was just a hunch."
"A hunch? A witch does not make hunches, Mildred Hubble," Mrs Hallow remarked, and this time Mildred didn't even bother trying to restrain Mirabelle's outrage.
"Why not?" Mirabelle asked curiously. "Everyone makes hunches. Why should witches and wizards make an exception?"
The Great Wizard privately thought that this woman had a point, but he wanted to know more about her. "I'm sorry, but could you tell us more about yourself and why you're here?"
Mildred was pleased that the subject had moved on a little bit since it meant everyone would stop asking her questions.
"My name is Mirabelle Hubble. I am one of Mildred's ancestors, and I have travelled forwards in time to see the future of my family. My coven had set up a school in a cave system," Mirabelle replied, "but along the way, our Founding Stone lost its magic, and the ice was settling in. I don't think I need to tell you what that means."
None of the adult witches and wizards said anything, but they exchanged some deeply seriously looks. They knew precisely what would happen if a Founding Stone completely lost its magic, and what the effects would be.
"I tried everything while my sisters fled with the students we had, while a few were frozen by the ice. Some told me I should flee as well, that it was hopeless, but I couldn't," Mirabelle's voice became wistful and she wondered what had happened to the coven, and wondered if some part of it survived in this day and age, "I tried to offer my own magic up to restore the coven, but it wasn't enough. The stone wanted more magic, and then it struck me that it would accept my magic, but only if I offered up the magic of my daughter, her daughter, and her daughter, and the daughters to follow."
Mirabelle looked down at her hands - it wasn't good etiquette to not look into the Great Wizard's eyes when she was speaking, but she needed to tell this part of the story, get it out of the way, but she needed to marshal her thoughts - and spoke clearly after a moment, looking back up into the Wizard's eyes.
"It was the only plan I had, and I managed to get the Founding Stone as far from the caves as I could - I didn't want the ice to set in as I worked, but when I got it far away from the caves, I found I just couldn't do it," Mirabelle looked down in shame at her own weakness before she turned to face Mildred, who was looking at her with sadness. Mirabelle wished the girl wouldn't look at her like that. It was like looking into a mirror, and worse seeing the last twelve generations of Hubble women who had not had magic, blaming her and using this girl as their avatar to make it clear to her what they thought about her actions..
"I couldn't render my entire family powerless," Mirabelle said, "so I decided to use magic one more time to help me make my decision an easier one; I had a fragment of the Mists of Time with me, bottled and compressed to prevent the frost from contaminating it, and I used it to travel into the future to see how my family was doing."
"You realise you were breaking some strict rules in the Witches' code?" The Great Wizard felt he had to add.
Mildred wished he hadn't said that, but Mirabelle nodded. "I did, Your Greatness. But at the time, and now, I feel no regret. I had no intention of going through with the plan until I saw for myself what my family were doing with themselves; if they were happy, then I would go through with the plan, but if not…"
Mildred's face crinkled curiously, wondering what else her ancestor had in mind for solving this Founding Stone problem, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to know.
"When I arrived, I learnt my descendants had done alright for themselves, and that Mildred was the first magical Hubble for centuries," Mirabelle's face lit up like a Christmas tree.
Mildred smiled back though she hoped that Mirabelle did not say anything about the way she had been expelled from Cackles Academy. She wasn't in the mood to talk about that depressing chapter in her life, especially now. To her, it was in the past. No time travel pun intended.
"What do you plan on doing now?" Mrs Hallow asked.
"I've still got some of the Mists of Time fragment. I was planning on using that to return to my home time," Mirabelle replied, but the cool way she replied told Mildred that she too didn't like the other woman and was only being polite to her for courtesy's sake. Mirabelle was scoring more points with Mildred, but the younger Hubble hoped and wished that her ancestor didn't make some stupid mistake that would make it harder for her to persuade Mrs Hallow to change her mind concerning the matter of enchanting.
In the meantime, Mildred turned to face the others in the room, hoping none of them planned to stop her. Mirabelle Hubble was her ancestor, and if anything happened to her then who knew what would happen to all the other Hubble's, including her and her mother? Mildred had seen enough time travel films, and Doctor Who to know interfering in time was a bad thing.
The Great Wizard glanced from one face to face around him and he said what was on the minds of everyone. "Very well, we will not stop you," he said in that same pompous manner Mildred found irritating.
Mirabelle smiled at him, though Mildred and everyone else could tell that she would leave no matter what anyone said. "Thank you, Your Greatness," she replied, saying his name as if she was only humouring him. "But do you mind if I give something to Mildred?"
Mirabelle didn't even bother waiting for a reply in the negative, instead she reached inside her robes and pulled out a book the size of the old bible that Mildred's Granny Hubble owned but she knew that this book was not a bible, though judging by the gasps around them it may as well have the same reverence as an ancient bible or work of art.
"Is that..?" Miss Hardbroom whispered.
"The Hubble family grimoire," Mirabelle replied, confirming the suspicions and guesses in everyone's mind. "This book has been passed down from one generation to the next, and it contains all of our history. I was, as the Head Witch of the family, going to give it to my own daughter, but since our family will lose its magic for twelve generations, it will fall to you, Mildred."
Mildred looked at the grimoire in amazement and to the surprise of the Cackle's teachers, who had been more than a little used and exasperated by her ignorance of the world, she didn't ask about the grimoire and what it meant. She didn't need too. When Mildred had first come to Pentangles, she hadn't just been encouraged to study the Witches code to learn a bit more about the culture and be more prepared in future, she had also been encouraged by her tutor to learn more about magical lore.
She knew about grimoires.
This book didn't just contain all of the recorded history of her family, from births to deaths, to the lives of the Hubble witches. It would also contain the individual traditions of the Hubble family, which was the norm for witching families who followed different beliefs and traditions. Mildred had been tempted to make her own grimoire, and make it out to be a kind of diary detailing her life as a witch, but now she didn't need too since this was the real deal.
If she took this book then she would not just learn more about her family as witches, but she could learn more about her family's deepest traditions which had been lost, until now, for centuries. She would also learn more about witching traditions and lore so then she wouldn't trip up over them anymore.
"Take it Mildred, it's yours," Mirabelle whispered.
Mildred bit her lip and she reached out and took it. The magic of the book would refuse to let anyone other than someone of her bloodline from touching it, but what if the magic of the book rejected her for some reason? Still, she had to try… Her fingers lightly brushed the leather of the book, and she jumped slightly when she felt the magic of the book brush over her, but it didn't reject her outright but out of reflex Mildred back peddled. She wasn't used to this kind of thing.
Mirabelle smiled at her kindly. "Don't worry about it, my child. It's only the magic of the book, its just accepting you. Try again."
Mildred did so, but this time there was no hesitation. She took the book only this time she could feel the magic wash over her, and it accepted her. She took a deep breath and held it in her hands. This time the magic of the book reminded her of the same feeling she felt whenever she physically held Tabby.
Indeed this book felt as though it were a purring cat.
Mirabelle's smile hadn't faded. "The grimoire has accepted you," she said simply.
"She's definitely a Hubble," Mildred heard Miss Hardbroom whisper to Miss Cackle, and Mildred glared at her for ruining the moment; she had spent months in the company of Ethel Hallow, and that girl could give out a glare that could wither the eyeballs. Here she was, accepting something precious to her family, and this woman could not keep her mouth shut.
Mirabelle also sent a look in Miss Hardbroom's direction, but she didn't say a word. Instead, she looked back at Mildred. "I think I'm ready now, but before I go, could you please tell me something?"
Mildred leaned in closer. "Anything," she said to the older witch.
"Our family," the sudden pain in Mirabelle's eyes was terrible to see and it hurt the young witch to see her ancestor so upset even if she was now aware her family would be alright in the long run, "are they happy?"
Mildred smiled. "My mother, aunt and gran are all happy," she reassured her ancestor, "I don't know how they adjusted after you restored that stone, but we are all okay."
"Good. I'm glad," Mirabelle smiled and she looked warmly at Mildred. "I'm so thankful for that. I would have been happy even if magic had never been restored to our family, but just knowing they were alright…"
"I know," Mildred said, knowing what was on the older witch's mind.
Mirabelle stood up and reached into her robes to take out a bottle that looked to Mildred like it had been made by a glassblower who had made a bottle right the first time around, but had continued adding uneven layers to the glass. Inside contained a greyish, silvery substance..
Before she opened the bottle, Mirabelle turned to Mildred once more. "It's good to know our future is in safe hands," she said.
She opened the bottle and began chanting a spell under her breath, letting the fragment of the mist escape the bottle as she spun around on the spot. When the mist cleared, Mirabelle Hubble was gone.
Mildred sighed sadly as she hugged the grimoire to her chest. She knew no-one here would try to take it off her, it was hers and part of her family's, and no-one in their right mind would want to be injured because they could not keep their hands to themselves.
"Miss Hubble, I came to this school to investigate claims to a 'gift' that you had for enchanting," Mrs Hallow's voice broke through her moment, completely uncaring what had just happened, what it meant to her. "I did not come here to converse with some witch from the past."
"But you did see my gift, Mrs Hallow," Mildred replied as politely as she could while she struggled to keep her dislike for the woman out of her voice.
"Yes, I did," the woman replied, completely forgetting about the others in the office. "But I stand by my beliefs that enchanting will not become a standard subject at other magical schools."
Mildred blinked in surprise, stunned that the woman would make such a snap judgement at once. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Miss Bluebell look down, upset. That made her angry. Miss Bluebell was, in Mildred's eyes, the perfect teacher - she was nothing like Hardbroom and Gullet who were both so intolerant to anything outside their little world. Miss Bluebell had dreamt about enchanting becoming part of the usual school curriculum for years like many other enchantresses, and this arrogant woman had basically shot those dreams down without even batting an eyelash.
"May I ask why?" Mildred asked.
Mrs Hallow ignored the question and turned to Miss Pentangle, who was looking back at her with a sizeable amount of controlled loathing.
"I think I have wasted enough time here, Miss Pentangle."
With that, she lifted up a hand and used a transportation spell to leave.
Mildred stared at the spot the woman had been standing in total disbelief. But after a second she found she was trembling with anger. That woman had just left without answering her question and she had called what happened at Pentangles a waste of time?!
God, it was no wonder Ethel was such a messed up kid. For months Mildred had wondered what had driven Ethel Hallow to be such a miserable individual, but now she knew and she actually found herself feeling sorry for her. Who wouldn't be miserable and attention seeking if they had that bitch as a mother?!
Mildred didn't usually swear, mentally or verbally, but she was so sick and tired of arrogant witches and wizards.
She turned to Miss Bluebell, who was looking heart broken. "I'm sorry, Miss Bluebell."
The enchanting teacher looked up at her, and gave a watery smile; she looked like she was about to start crying but didn't want to in the current company she was in. "It's not your fault Mildred, we should have realised Mrs Hallow wouldn't change her mind."
To the surprise of Mildred and Miss Bluebell, the Great Wizard stepped forwards. "If it would do any good, I will fight her opinion on the matter of enchanting," he said, "my family have had enchanters in it and they would be turning in their graves if I didn't try to uphold our traditions."
Mildred was a little surprised by the admission that the Great Wizard himself had enchanters in his family, but she imagined it made sense since she knew that many magical families had that talent at some stage but had eventually lost it because they'd exhausted it. Maybe that was Mrs Hallows problem, she was jealous of anyone who could use enchanting and she couldn't?
"Thank you, Your Greatness," Miss Bluebell whispered, smiling back at the wizard even as she came to stand next to Mildred and put an arm around the girl's shoulders, but as Mildred looked into her face she could see Miss Bluebell didn't look too optimistic about the chances of the Wizard overturning the decisions of Mrs Hallow, and it made her wonder just who was in charge of the council, or whether he just let everyone carry on the way they wanted.
But then again he could do something..
Mildred loved enchanting, and she didn't want it to die out. And she guessed that if she had her own way, Mrs Hallow would have the entire subject of enchanting - books, scrolls, pictures, stories - all gathered up and destroyed without a word.
After that Mildred spoke to some of the council members. Many of them were a little more open minded and even personable than Mrs Hallow, but while she was speaking to them Mildred got the impression a few of them had had the same opinion the 'vaunted' Head of Education had about enchanting, but they didn't dismiss it like she did.
They were openly impressed by what she had done, even if a few frowned on her using so much of her magic, but they had asked her a few questions about her talents in enchanting before they had left. Mildred watched them leave the office using transportation spells, but she wondered what they would do with her answers..
She had learnt the hard way that sometimes witches and wizards said and did something one minute and then turned around and did something completely different.
Mildred sighed and turned to face Miss Pentangle, realising she had been hugging the Hubble family grimoire to her chest the whole time. "Is it okay if I leave now, Miss Pentangle?"
The pink-clad headmistress nodded, but she didn't look happy and she glanced sadly at Miss Bluebell - the headmistress had been hoping for good news today, not bad news, but it was clear on her face that she wasn't particularly surprised. "Yes, Mildred and thank you for what you've done today," she whispered, clearly trying to find the energy to speak loudly.
Mildred felt pity for the headmistress - her school had just been invaded and she had been forced to watch as her students had been held captive and she couldn't do anything about it. But there was nothing she could do, so she walked out of the office.
The grimoire was in the bedroom she shared with Maud, Enid, and Ethel, and she had begun to read it - Mildred wasn't a big reader, she had read books, but the grimoire..it reminded her of those fantasy novels she had read as a kid, but the grimoire was a bit more personal to her, well it was personal.
Enid and Maud had been amazed - they had seen their own family grimoires in the past, but because they were not the Head Witches of their families they couldn't take them out of their homes.
But whenever she was not revising for her exams or with Miss Bluebell, Mildred would be reading her grimoire and trying to learn a bit more about her family history. She had learnt that several of her family members hadn't really gotten good results at school, but when they were doing whatever they did out of school, they were exceptional.
Thinking of Miss Bluebell made her sigh sadly. The poor teacher had been heartbroken because of Mrs Hallow, but she still gave it all in lessons and she had still been enthusiastic about giving Mildred private tuition. It seemed that while she was sad about the lack of endorsement from Mrs Hallow, Miss Bluebell was hopeful that the woman's influence did not spread outwards to the real world.
Mildred hoped so as well.
Miss Bluebell had been both happy with what she had done to help save the school, but she had mothered her for an hour, telling her she had taken a terrible risk conjuring all of those figures. Mildred had asked Miss Bluebell why Mrs Hallow had left and said she wasn't changing her mind about enchanting and Miss Bluebell had told her she didn't know, and when the young witch had asked her about the Great Wizard's promise, Miss Bluebell had made it clear she wasn't going to expect a miracle.
Not very encouraging from a woman who was usually optimistic.
Mildred sighed wearily as she took a look around herself - she wanted to get to bed, exams would be starting soon and she wanted to get some rest and perhaps even pour over her books and notes that had been taken during lessons to get everything fixed in her mind. No sooner had the thought materialised in her brain than Miss Hardbroom materialise near her.
"Mildred," Miss Hardbroom greeted her in that usual slow, calm manner like she was a dangerous predator waiting to pounce.
"Miss Hardbroom," Mildred greeted. She had been purposefully avoiding many of the teachers from Cackles, not an easy task in some cases, but thankfully the teachers had kept the distance either because they were trying to put names to faces, or because some of them didn't want Pentangles and Cackles to mix, but Mildred wasn't sure. She didn't care, either.
"I was surprised when I was standing there, bound and hopeless, and yet you were able to turn the tables on Agatha Cackle," Miss Hardbroom's tone was more….normal like a real human being for a change.
Mildred didn't know what to say, so she kept silent though she did wonder if there was a point to this.
"It was..impressive," Miss Hardbroom stumbled across the last word.
Mildred was getting bored of the entire conversation, but she decided to be polite. "Thank you, Miss Hardbroom," she replied, hoping that she could get away from the woman before curfew.
"Mildred," Miss Hardbroom began, and the girl was surprised by how….nervous the adult witch was beginning to sound, "I wish we had discovered this gift together, at Cackles."
"When would we have discovered it, Miss Hardbroom? Cackles doesn't have an enchanting class and besides, no-one had any interest in my artwork. The only times anyone spoke about it was when you told me it was not allowed to have pictures up in my room, which was a lie since many of the other students had pictures up, of their families and of holidays, on their walls. The other time was when my room was trashed after that disaster with the globe. I dunno and frankly I don't care who those witches responsible for the destruction was, it was months ago," Mildred replied quietly before she shook her head, "And besides, what would you have done if you had found out I could manipulate those pictures in the first place? Miss Bluebell has been bringing in enchantresses to help me learn more about this gift, so don't take this the wrong way but I doubt either you or Miss Cackle would even know where to start."
Mildred sighed. "What is all this about, Miss Hardbroom? Ever since you arrived, I've been catching sight of your looks of regret during lessons, assemblies and at dinner. Does it have anything to do with you meeting my mum, and telling her about your brother's death? She told me," the girl clarified when the potions mistress stiffened noticeably.
"I see," Miss Hardbroom replied, at a loss of what to say to that.
"I'd discounted my father as the source of my magic a long time before the globe, Miss Hardbroom, but at the time it was logical to assume he had something to do with my magic," Mildred went on, "but when Maud and Enid told me that witches get their power from their mothers, and wizards get their powers from their fathers, I stopped that line of thought. But I have wondered. I know who my real dad is, but I don't know if I'll ever meet him."
"I am sorry for that night, Mildred. I had no right to speak to your mother in that manner," the teacher apologised, but Mildred had no way of knowing if the woman was being sincere, but she wasn't going to pry.
The curfew bell sounded, and Mildred couldn't help but think 'saved by the bell' since she was getting bored of this conversation. Besides, in her mind, it was a bit late for Miss Hardbroom to try to form a relationship or whatever the woman was thinking about; she had tried to get on the woman's good side, and it had failed because of her attitude and bad manners.
"I'd better go, curfew is in a few minutes," Mildred said.
"Do you wish for me to send you to your room?"
"Thank you but no, I'd like to walk back," Mildred smiled at the woman, hoping that she would get the hint that she didn't really want anything to do with her.
Miss Hardbroom nodded, and as Mildred looked deeply into the woman's dark eyes she could see that same regret there as she did before the start of the Spelling Bee competition that had happened only a few months ago, but after everything that had happened felt like it had happened a few years ago.
Mildred turned and walked away, leaving Miss Hardbroom to her thoughts.
Ever since that visit to the Hubble's abode and the relocation from Cackles to Pentangles, Miss Hardbroom had been wondering how she could approach Mildred Hubble again.
Of all the people she had met, Mildred Hubble was one of the few people that had Hecate Hardbroom think. On the outside, the girl was incredibly problematic, and even when she saw the girl again, Hecate had heard that while the girl made some mistakes in various subjects none of the teachers punished her for them unless they were truly serious.
But then again since this school had more students from non-magical families with the ones from magical families, the teachers had grown used to dealing and eventually learning to tolerate mistakes, but then again even students from the magical families occasionally made mistakes with their spells or potions.
And yet, Hecate remembered how she had pushed the girl.
Hecate was good at determining talent. She wouldn't have been as successful a teacher if she hadn't, and she had been teaching young witches for a long time, and she had encountered more than a few least able witches in her potions classes and they had been taught potions by their parents and grandparents since they were old enough to hold a ladle.
Ethel Hallow was a top student of her first year class, there was no doubt at all in Miss Hardbroom's mind but when you placed a girl like Ethel next to a girl like Mildred Hubble and you were only looking at the surface then you knew Mildred was always going to be a bottom level student.
Mildred was more talented than many of the girls in her year. It was there. She was a witch, Hecate could see that but her background made it hard to teach the girl. Hecate was not used to teaching students their potions from scratch and that had frustrated her, so she had decided to just place Mildred in her classes and let her work. She was driven to push the girl, make her stand up and fight to become a witch. Unfortunately, the girl had seemingly no aptitude for potions and remembering what different ingredients did, but she had pushed the girl.
Hecate realised after a few weeks of observing the girl working on potions here at Pentangles, seeing how slowly she worked to make the potions more potent, she realised she had misjudged the girl, but it was just too late for her to do anything to let her amend her mistakes. There were two types of potion makers - those who could make a potion in their sleep, and those who took incredible care of their potions. Mildred fit into the second category.
And I didn't see it because I was used to teaching witches of the first category, Hecate cursed herself for her mistakes. But one of the biggest was the manner in which she treated the girl. Mildred had never meant to cause any harm at all, and yet she had treated the girl like a leper.
And now this.
Hecate had never seen magic like the type she had seen when Mildred brought those drawings to life. Enchanting had never really caught her interest as a witch. She had always been good at spells and potions and flying because she understood the results, but enchanting required an artistic quality that many witches like Hecate lacked.
But Mildred was an artist. She had skills in a totally different field that Hecate had never even tried to study, believing it was frivolous and wasteful since pictures, paintings, and sculptures never helped people in the long run whereas spells and potions did. And yet she had just witnessed Mildred use enchanting to defeat a woman Hecate was quite pleased to see the back of. The Great Wizard hadn't said anything about the picture in the form of Cackles Academy with Agatha and her coven locked in, but Hecate didn't know if the wizard even cared since Agatha and her coven were likely to be locked up again anyway, so what difference did it make?
Hecate's mind went back to Mildred.
The girl had certainly grown - the fact she had shown more maturity in the last few weeks than Ethel ever had, and she had a new talent in enchanting and had shown a growing aptitude in spells while her potions were getting there, and from discreet little enquiries to the other Pentangles teachers Ada had made shortly after they'd arrived, Mildred had truly grown into a better witch than the girl who had left Cackles.
Hecate went to the room that Ada had taken for herself and knocked on the door. "Come in," the elderly headmistress called, and Hecate transported herself so she appeared close by Ada.
The elderly headmistress had been..knocked off of her perch by Agatha's return and her subsequent imprisonment. Oh, she put on an act for everyone, but Hecate had known her for years. Ada was depressed. Agatha was her sister, and as much pain as she had caused, that had never changed.
Hecate wondered how she was coping with the knowledge Agatha had burnt down the family legacy, but she wasn't going to ask.
Ada was presently reading an important letter, and judging from a part of it she could see, Hecate could tell that it was from the Magic Council. Ada's full attention was on the letter so Hecate wasn't able to see her face.
The elderly witch may not have glanced up, but she knew precisely who was hovering over her. "Hello, Hecate," Ada greeted, her voice trailing away.
She was distracted.
Not a good sign.
"Ada," Hecate returned before she looked down at the letter, but she couldn't see the wording. "Bad news?"
At last Ada looked up. "It's from the Magic Council," she said unnecessarily. "They have finally gotten back to me about the possibility of rebuilding the Academy."
"And what do they say?" Hecate asked, trying valiantly to keep the hope out of her voice. It wasn't that she didn't find Pentangles to be a bad school, it wasn't, but she just felt uncomfortable; Pippa and Mildred, two witches that she had caused problems with in the past, one had been a friend she had discarded and developed a rivalry bordering on animosity with, and the other clearly wanted nothing to do with her, and only tolerated her for the most part.
"They say that they will rebuild the Academy but it will take at least a year and a half to truly purge the castle of the damage caused by the fiendfrye. Apparently, the Great Wizard pulled a few strings and a few favours to speed things up, but it will take a lot of time for the investigators to clean up the mess Agatha made," Ada replied before she shook her head. "I'm grateful to him, believe me. But… what was running through Agatha's mind when she decided to burn down the school in the first place? She wanted to become Headmistress, and yet she just decided to just burn down the school our family has worked long and hard to build, I just don't understand it, Hecate."
Hecate had been thinking about the same thing. Ada had a point. Agatha had tried to take over the school twice, and yet each time she'd failed because she had overlooked something, and Mildred had gotten lucky. Personally, Hecate hoped the woman stayed in that picture Mildred had drawn of the Academy, and when that thought entered her mind she kept it locked up. She had no idea what was going to happen to that picture, and frankly, she didn't care.
In any case, even if the Great Wizard or the Magic Council asked Mildred to let them out, they would be imprisoned faster than they could transport.
Although she thought it unlikely, Hecate wondered if Agatha had wanted to get closer to Mildred so then she could take the girl's magic. It made sense - Agatha had gone to a lot of trouble to find someone who could safely brew that particular fire spell and burn down the castle, and she had known Pentangles was the closest school to Cackles, and with Mildred there it made sense for her to target the other school and take the girl's magic.
Attacking the Great Wizard and doing it all in front of the schools was a bonus.
But she had to be honest.
"Who knows what goes through that woman's mind, Ada, but even if she had taken Mildred's powers then she would have been hunted down by the Great Wizard and we know how he takes attacks on his person," Hecate said.
Ada nodded. "Do you think she did it all to get to Mildred?"
"It's possible," Hecate reasoned. "But I think Mildred may have been a bonus, but who knows. The main thing is we will get the Academy back in….a year and a half. Does…Miss Pentangle know?"
Ada mentally shook her head, wishing that her friend and colleague would finally rebuild broomsticks with Pippa, and the younger woman was amiable enough. She simply didn't know what had set it all off, this petty little rivalry. Miss Pentangle had not really bothered with it ever since the two schools were made to bunk together.
But Hecate really needed to keep her problems to herself, after all a witch, a true witch solved her own problems.
Unless you were Hecate and just decided to ignore them.
"I don't know, I think so."
Mildred was eternally grateful when the end of year results had come back. When she compared her results to what she had had at Cackles, then you could see the improvement over a short amount of time. Sure, she wouldn't be an expert anytime soon in some of the subjects - potions was one of them, but thanks to her compulsory classes in Potion basics, she had improved and it was there in her results.
As she and the rest of the students collected their results before lining up to collect their broomsticks, using magic to levitate their things and their familiars, Mildred's eyes scanned the results.
She was definitely coming back to the school.
She glanced over at Maud and Enid who were both looking over their own results. Both of them - she wasn't sure what to call them, but close friends seemed to be the best she could describe them - had both been stressed out by the multiple classes, but judging by their expressions they had done reasonably well.
"How have you guys done?" Mildred asked.
She was getting better at being civil with Enid and Maud, and she was speaking to Ethel Hallow. It was doubtful the pair of them would be friendly anytime soon. But ever since Mrs Hallow had refused to make enchanting a core subject at a magical school again, she had avoided Esmerelda and Ethel whenever she could. Not easy since the older girl kept coming into her bedroom.
Maud had an unhappy look on her face. "I didn't get good marks in Magical Archaeology or Charms, transfiguration, but I did well in Potions and Spells," she replied.
"I didn't get good marks in Herbology," Enid said, a smirk on her face.
"Yeah, well you did accidentally cause that plant to explode, covering us in goo," Maud replied, shuddering at the memory before turning to Mildred. "How about you?"
Mildred decided to show her, figuring it would save plenty of time. Maud took the offered paper and her eyes ran over the grades. "Wow, these are great," she commented.
"Yeah, but potions is still my weakest subject," Mildred pointed out, but truthfully she wasn't too bothered. She had managed to achieve a great deal over the last few months. Thinking about that made her wistful. "It's so strange; so much has changed over the last few months," she commented as they walked together to the entrance of the school.
"Yeah, it feels like only yesterday when I was expelled from my last school, and sent to Cackles," Enid remarked, but a sharp look from Maud shut her up. Mildred knew without looking that Maud's eyes were flicking in her direction, remembering how she had been so close to being expelled and had been pushed over the edge.
But Mildred didn't care. She was pleased she had left Cackles, otherwise, she would never have learnt about her talent in enchanting. Sure, the chances she would learn about that same talent were high, she was always drawing, and with her exposure to the witching world, learning magic.. if she had still been in Cackles it may have been years before she discovered the gift, and like she had told Miss Hardbroom the chances of one of the teachers being skilled enough to help her master the talent and even think of new ways it could work, learn about its limits, were remote.
Mr Rowan-Webb and Miss Hardbroom were good teachers, but they didn't know anything about enchanting.
She loved Pentangles; she had loved Cackles as well, but when she had arrived at Pentangles and discovered so many subjects, made friends who were, technically, like her and came from the non-magical world. But ever since Mildred had met Mirabelle Hubble and the story of what had happened to her and the Founding Stone had come out, two things had happened with her relationships with the other kids who came from outside the magical world; some of her friends had been okay with the news that she had magical ancestry, but that particular group had asked themselves more than once during their time at Pentangles if they had magical ancestors of their own. The news that the Hubbles were a magical family at heart had only served to double their own efforts to find out more about their own ancestries.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the next group. A few of them were a little..unsure, that was the most friendliest term Mildred could use to describe how they were behaving around her, it was better than downright hostile and jealous, of the revelation she had ancestors. They also blissfully ignored the fact Mirabelle Hubble had given away her magic and the magic of twelve generations of their family, meaning that technically the Hubbles were a non-magical family, and only their distant ancestors were magical.
Others were more jealous than hostile. They had accepted Mildred into their circles because they had, assumed, that she was like them. They seemed to believe she would ditch them and go with the groups of girls and boys who were from magical families, but Mildred wasn't going to do that. She had also found they were jealous because of the Hubble family grimoire, and they believed that just because she had that that meant she would stop speaking to them, and act like some of the students who did believe they were better over them because they were from the magical world.
Pentangles was more tolerant than Cackles, that didn't mean some of the students didn't have the same opinions as others.
Mildred hoped that during the summer, the other kids from the non-magical would realise that despite the grimoire there was a lot of stuff she didn't know, but if they didn't then she didn't know what to do..
"What are you doing this summer?" Maud asked curiously, the expression on her face showing she was clearly trying to be cheerful but the tension was still present.
"I don't know," Mildred replied as they collected their broomsticks. "Mum hasn't told me anything, but that's normal; she likes surprising me," she finished with a smile. "How about you?"
Neither girl really knew themselves, but Mildred could tell that, like herself, they hated the awkwardness that had fallen between them when they had been so close-knit once upon a time. Things were likely to be even more awkward for them when they came back - the news Cackles was going to be rebuilt had swept like a wildfire spell, but it would take a year and a half to rebuild the school, they had to remove the remnants of the spell used to burn it down.
"I'm not sure what my mum and dad have planned," Enid shrugged, and both guessed that when the summer ended Enid would have come back from a tour.
Maud shrugged. All three girls got on their broomsticks, and they chatted with some of the other girls when Merlin Langstaff showed up.
"Hi, Mildred," the boy greeted.
Mildred blushed when she saw him. "Hey Merlin," she returned.
"Have a great summer," the young wizard said, gently kissing her on the cheek.
Mildred blushed harder when the young wizard walked away, and she gently touched the spot where Merlin had kissed her. She had been worried as of late, wondering if Merlin was only interested in her now it was known she was from a witching family, but she would find out for sure later.
Mildred sat astride her broomstick and kicked off. "See you next term!" she hollered.