Disclaimer: Discworld, affiliated characters, and especially the lines from Wyrd Sisters, belong to Terry Pratchett. The Scottish Play (you know, starts with an M) belongs to... Shakespeare, I guess. I mean no infringement and make no profit.
A/N: So, it happened like this. My junior English class had to create themed portfolios as a semester project. The theme I chose was destiny (infuriatingly difficult to find short stories about, by the way), and the novel I chose to critique was Wyrd Sisters, because I wanted to Make Learning Fun. Part of the project was what the teacher called a "character sketch" from your novel of choice in which one of the characters finds herself in a different time or place. After reading a few samples, I realized that she was just having us write glorified AU fanfiction! I had experience at that. Of the Lancre Witches, I relate to Magrat the most, and the logical thing was to put her on this world. In a production of the very play Wyrd Sisters mirrors, in fact. I then went on to sneak in Verence and Shawn Ogg and as many Discworld in-jokes as I possibly could. The result was what my teacher called "the best out of all 26 character sketches! Congratulations! May I have a copy for my files?" Which just goes to show that fanfic writing is not a waste of time and does come in handy! So there!
Thunder rolled across the dark, open space and lightning flashed, illuminating three stooped figures around a cauldron. An eldritch voice shrieked, "When shall we three meet again?"
There was a pause. Finally another voice said, in far more ordinary tones, "Line?"
The third figure sighed and said timidly, "Um, it's still the First Witch. 'In thunder, lightning, or in rain?'"
The first witch blinked. "Oh. Right. Thunder and lightning. Right."
The rehearsal went on. Magrat Garlick bent back over the cauldron and tried to look menacing. It was a lost cause. Magrat had always loved the theatre, of course, and was passionate about it, but it just wasn't in her blood like it was with some of the others. She was an English teacher by day, probably because her mother hadn't known how to spell "Margaret" and she was making a life's work out of ensuring that there would be no more Magrats in the world. The problem was that she wasn't really good with children. At all. Magrat was not a difficult person to intimidate.
She'd joined the local Shakespeare troupe on a whim shortly after she'd tried painting her fingernails black in an effort to appear interesting. Somehow the fact that she'd removed the nail polish because she felt like people where looking at her hadn't clued her in to the fact that she'd be a victim of severe stage fright. The troupe kept her around, however, because she knew what all the words meant, even "divers alarums." She'd only been given roles such as "second peasant" and "fourth woman" before this, her big break as the Third Witch in... in the Scottish Play.
The Third Witch dropped her hat into the cauldron.
"It's your line!"
"Oh! Sorry. 'Anon.' Sorry. Um."
That was the problem with being the Third Witch. She had no lines more interesting than "Anon," at least not until the cauldron scene. Magrat loved the cauldron scene. She'd learned the whole thing by heart.
The director was still shouting. "And put your hat on!"
Magrat blushed fiercely. "But..."
"It's a hat, girl! You put it on your head!"
"But I don't..."
"You don't what?"
"I don't..." She let the words escape in a panicked rush. "I don't like the hat." She bit her lip and looked down.
"Why not?" The director looked puzzled. "It's a witch's hat. You're playing a witch."
"I know that, but..." She blushed further. "I don't think that witches would wear pointy black hats, not really. I mean, I know I wouldn't. I always sort of thought the weird sisters would have occult jewelry and mystic... things. You know." There was silence. "And maybe there could be sigils on the cauldron?"
"Magrat, we've talked about this..." the Second Witch said.
"It just doesn't seem right this way. It's doesn't feel magical at all!" More silence.
Finally, the director said, "Magrat, why are you here?"
"Um... you... chose me?" That was something else that bothered her. She wasn't even thirty and yet she'd been lined up with a bunch of other women and been chosen to play a hag. It just seemed odd.
"I mean, what do you think your character's motivation is?"
"Oh." Magrat sighed. As far as she could tell, the Third Witch had no motivation. "Look, just one sigil?"
"Well..." the director said, "maybe." This was the most encouraging response Magrat had gotten. She decided to plow on.
"And, um, Shawn?" she shouted up to the lighting booth. "I know you've been busy building the sets and everything, but maybe could you make sure that you do the lightning before the thunder this time? That's just scientific fact."
"I'll try, Miss," a voice answered.
"Good. Thank you." Magrat smiled in self-satisfaction and, in a burst of romanticism, added, "Future thespians of this community will thank us!" There was a choking noise from the region of the booth. "Shawn?"
"Will you please stop laughing when I say 'thespians?'"
"I'll try, Miss."
Next they began rehearsal of the cauldron scene. The First Witch cleared her throat and said, "Thrice the brindled cat hath mewed." Magrat idly pondered over how you could tell if a cat was brindled. She often wondered about the odd references to animal cruelty in the cauldron scene, but she didn't think too hard about them since the general effect was so wonderfully eerie. The Second Witch picked up with her line.
"Thrice; and once the hedgepig whined."
Magrat winced. She was never sure why, but something about the hedgepig line always made her uncomfortable.
The next night, opening night, she was still thinking about the hedgepig. Anything, she reasoned, was better than thinking about how she was going to go out on stage and not know her lines and make a complete fool of herself. Thunder rumbled outside the building in a fittingly ominous manner. The storm had started an hour ago and had only increased in its intensity since then. Magrat stared at her reflection in the mirror. She had tried makeup and had not been met with unqualified success. Her hair was beyond all hope. Oh, well. Essentially, Magrat knew, she was like a small furry rodent. If she went out onstage, it would be like staring into the face of a huge, hungry cat. When cornered, some small furry rodents get creative. The storm had given Magrat an idea.
She went to the fuse box and, during a particularly loud roll of thunder, disconnected the lights. The sudden darkness was met by a cry of, "Hey! Power's out!" somewhere in the distance. Magrat smiled. Then she was knocked sprawling onto the floor as a shadowy figure bumped into her.
"Ow," it said. Magrat squinted into the darkness.
"Magrat? Gosh. Sorry. I didn't see you." Even in the darkness, Magrat blushed and looked at her shoes. Or, at least, where her shoes probably were. Verence was a classically trained Shakespearian actor who was typically assigned to play the Fool. Magrat was probably the only one who knew he hated this, and how happy he was that there were no Fools in the Scottish Play. He was, instead, the Second Apparition. It was still Shakespeare, but it was an improvement. For some reason she'd never quite figured out, Verence also seemed to be very fond of Magrat. Now he said, "Are you all right?"
"Yes," she answered.
"I guess we're not going on tonight," he said. There was a pause. "Look, do you want to go somewhere, maybe? With me? Tonight?"
"I... I think I should be washing my hair."
"Oh." Verence sounded downcast.
"Verence?" Magrat groped for something to say. "Do you think that, when the Second Witch says the hedgepig whined, she sounds like she's leering?"
"Maybe. That line's always bothered me," he answered. "I feel like somebody's saying, 'Hey, you know what they say about the hedgepig...' But I don't."
"Yes! Exactly!" Magrat looked back at her shoes. She could see them now that her eyes were getting adjusted to the dark.
"Magrat..." Verence said, "you know, I think you'd make a really good Third Witch."
"Not that you're, you know, a hag or anything, but just because..." his voice trailed off. Magrat froze. Of course, she knew that she would be afraid onstage, she knew it would not go well, but... Oh, bugger.
"Verence? Do you believe there are some roles that we're meant to play?"
"Probably," Verence responded morosely.
"Do you think that we can control our own destinies?"
"Why?" he asked.
"Because," Magrat answered, "I hope we do." It might have been a romantic view, it might not have made much practical sense, but Magrat felt like she belonged as the Third Witch. People accepted her as the Third Witch. And if she could control her own destiny, then she could certainly control her capacity to remember lines. Sometimes, small furry rodents in corners decide to fight. Magrat Garlick was seized by a determination to go out there and give them... heck. She leaned over and kissed Verence. Then she said, "I hope you get to play the king someday." Under the circumstances, it was the best she could do.
A few moments later, the lights came back on. The house opened. Magrat Garlick, Third Witch, took control of her destiny. She decided to forget to wear the pointy black hat.