The Speech

Disclaimer: I do not own The Worst Witch or any of the associated characters. This story is entirely no fun and no money is being made.

Chapter 2. Settling In

Well I don't think much of this, the DOBS Den was a lot more cosy."

Jadhu's comment was met by murmurs of agreement from the other four. Looking round, Mildred had to admit the Fourth Year Common Room was not much to write home about. It was a rather small room and the only furniture was a medium sized table and some uncomfortable looking chairs that had probably been used in the classrooms several decades ago.

"Well maybe Millie and Jadu can persuade Miss Cackle to reinstate it," Enid suggested.

Mildred shrugged, not feeling all that hopeful. She feared that after what she had to say at tomorrow's assembly, Miss Cackle would not be too amenable to any suggestions from her. But that was something she preferred not to trouble her friends with.

"I'll do my best, Enid," was all she said. "It would be good to have DOBS again."

"You and your stupid DOBS." The five friends turned round at the sound of this new voice. "Didn't you cause enough trouble with that last year?"

Mildred sighed, recognising the newcomer immediately. "Hello Ethel!"

It was indeed Ethel Hallow, her archenemy. She was glaring at Mildred with undisguised hatred, obviously still angry at losing to Mildred in the election last year. Drucilla Paddock, Ethel's friend and sometime co-conspirator, hovered nervously at her side, looking as though she expected an explosion at any minute.

Mildred sensed Ethel was itching for an fight and really didn't want a confrontation with her right now. As the remaining Fourth Year girls filed into the common room behind Ethel, Mildred decided it was time to take charge.

"Okay you guys," she addressed the assembled Fourth Years. "Now we're all here I need to assign Fourth Year Monitor duties."

"Oh here we go!" Ether sneered. "Hubble Bubble's throwing her weight around already!"

"Just shut up, Ethel!" Jadu told her forcefully.

"And now the underling comes to her mistresses defence!" Ethel's tone was, if possible, even more sarcastic. "Tell me Jadu, how does it feel playing second fiddle to Mildred?"

"It's an honour, actually!" Jadu told her.

Ethel sneered at this again but before she could comment further Mildred had started assigning duties, deciding it was best just to ignore Ethel.

"Enid and Maud, you'll be candle monitors for the third and fourth year dorms," she told them. "Ruby and Gloria Newt the same for the first and second years."

Mildred continued assigning duties until there were only two left and only two pairs of Fourth Years; herself and Jadu, along with Ethel and Drucilla.

"I know what's coming next." Ethel said sourly. "We'll be bin monitors while you and Jadu get the plum job of looking after the library!"

Mildred smiled at this. The task of emptying and cleaning the school bins was, understandably, the most hated job the Fourth Years were asked to do, and the position of Library Monitor the most sought after. But she had a surprise for them up her sleeve.

"Actually no." she contradicted. "You and Drucilla will be Library Monitors while Jadu and I look after the bins." She grinned at Jadu who smiled back. "Jadu and I have agreed we should set an example by taking the most unpleasant duty ourselves."

"Thanks Millie!" Drucilla sounded grateful and relieved, but Ethel looked angrier than ever. She seemed to resent the fact she was now in Mildred's debt.

"I'll see you guys later," Mildred told them. "I have to help Miss Drill sort out the First Year dorm for the new girls."

She walked from the room heading towards the Staff Room to find Miss Drill, her mind preoccupied with what awaited her the following morning. Despite her assurances to Maud, Mildred was actually quite nervous about the speech, especially given the inflammatory nature of some of her comments. She and Jadu had agreed these things needed to be said, but Mildred knew quite well they would not endear her to the staff. Caught up in her troubled thoughts, Mildred did not hear the footsteps behind her, and was startled to feel a sharp tug on her arm. She whirled round to face a furious looking Ethel Hallow.

.

"What to you want. Ethel?" Mildred asked with barely concealed irritation. "I've got a lot to do!"

"Yes of course you have, the Great Head Girl, so conscientious and noble and self sacrificing." The scorn in Ethel's tone was palpable. "You may think you're on top of the world now Mildred, but it won't last, it'll all come crashing down. You'll mess things up, just like you always do, then everyone will see you're just as useless now as you always have been."

The words cut deep, striking at Mildred's barely suppressed fears and insecurities and the gnawing anxiety about what awaited her the following morning. But she forced herself to remain calm and not react. She would not allow herself to show weakness in front of Ethel Hallow, no matter what.

"Maybe so." Mildred was careful to keep her tone neutral. "But for now I am Head Girl, with the power to give punishments, so you'd better watch your step, Ethel!"

Ethel just laughed at that. "You wouldn't dare try to punish me!"

"I wouldn't bet on it!"

"You wouldn't!" There was the barest flicker of uncertainty in Ethel's eyes but her anger and resentment drove her on. "You can't! I'm a Hallow, the daughter of the Chair of Governors and you're nothing, a nobody! You're not a proper Head Girl, you're not even a proper witch, just a jumped up scholarship freak!"

"That does it!" Mildred's self control had finally snapped. "Five hundred lines of 'I must show respect for the Head Girl' to be handed in to me by suppertime tomorrow.!"

Ethel remained defiant. "You can't make me do that!"

"Oh but I can!" Mildred told her. "If you don't do it I'll put you in detention!"

"You can't…"

"That's enough, Ethel!" Mildred interrupted. "No more arguments or I'll make it five thousand lines!"

The glare Ethel directed at her was murderous. For a moment she seemed on the point of physically assaulting the Head Girl, but then evidently thought better of it.

"I'm going to Miss Hardbroom about this." The words came out in almost a whisper.

"Go right ahead." Mildred folded her arms, affecting an air of complete indifference. "It won't do you any good."

"We'll just see about that!"

With these words Ethel marched away. Mildred watched her, arms still folded, a slight smile on her lips. She was remembering what Miss Cackle had told her about the privileges and responsibilities of the Head Girl. Ethel was in for a rude awakening!

For the next few hours, Mildred was kept very busy indeed, helping to get the First Years settled in. It was about half an hour before supper when she saw Ethel again, this time accompanied by Miss Hardbroom.

"Mildred," Miss Hardbroom called out to her. "Ethel here has made a complaint against you."

"Has she Miss Hardbroom?" Mildred looked at her inquiringly. "A complaint about what?"

"She says you gave her five hundred lines without cause."

"I did give her the lines." Mildred admitted. "But it was for disrespect. She called me 'a jumped up scholarship freak'"

Really?" Miss Hardbroom turned to look at Ethel.

"It's not true Miss Hardbroom, I would never say such a thing!" The prim and proper expression Ethel adopted would have put any cat to shame.

"I see!" Miss Hardbroom looked form one girl to another, considering.

"The punishment stands, Ethel," she said at last. "Five hundred lines by suppertime tomorrow."

"You're taking her word over mine?" Ethel was horrified.

From her expression you might have thought the entire natural order of the universe had been suddenly turned upside down. Mildred tried (and failed miserably) to suppress a triumphant smile at Ethel's dismay.

"Mildred is the Head Girl, Ethel," Miss Hardbroom reminded her. "Without direct evidence to the contrary, I am obliged to accept her account of the incident."

"Then why are you allowed to appeal to a teacher if you feel the Head Girl has been unfair?" Ethel sounded petulant and that was a mistake. Petulance was not a quality appreciated by Constance Hardbroom.

"The right of appeal exists for cases where the Head Girl has exceeded her authority, or given an inappropriate punishment." Miss Hardbroom's tone was sharp, her patience with the girl who was usually her favourite pupil clearly exhausted. "It is not al let out clause to enable a pupil to escape discipline by calling the Head Girl's word into question; otherwise there would be no point in giving her disciplinary powers at all." She looked at Ether sternly. "The punishment stands. Five hundred lines of 'I must show respect for the Head Girl' by suppertime tomorrow. Only you will not deliver them to Mildred, you will deliver them to me. And I will expect every letter to be perfect! Do I make myself clear Ethel Hallow?"

"Yes, Miss Hardbroom." Ethel sounded resigned. She seemed to be realising now just how different this year would be and just how drastically the balance of power had swung in Mildred's favour.

Miss Harbroom turned back to Mildred, her expression and tone becoming much more benevolent.

"if you could spare me a few moment before supper Mildred, we need to discuss the choice of class monitors for the lower years."

"Of course, Miss Hardbroom."

For once Mildred had no qualms about following her dreaded Potions teacher. HB seemed to be feeling well disposed to her at the moment and Mildred wanted to make the best of it, because she was sure it would not last long. In the morning she would deliver the speech she had planned with Jadu, and then all hell would break loose!