Disclaimer: The Worst Witch, Weirdsister College and all associated characters do not belong to me. This fanfiction is entirely for fun and no money is being made.
Amelia Cackle mopped her brow with a pocket-handkerchief. It was a scorching hot day and she was starting to wish she'd stayed in the relatively cool cloisters of Weirdsister College instead of exploring the town.
It was a long time since she last visited Cambridge and it was interesting to see the modern shops and offices that now stood incongruously alongside the grandeur of the old University buildings. Things had certainly changed a great deal since she was a student here.
She was feeling quite thirsty now and the thought of a cup of tea was really appealing. She noticed a café nearby with chairs and tables outside and headed towards it.
"Misery's," she thought, reading the sign above the window. "Not exactly the most encouraging name but it will have to do."
Entering the café she discovered it to be littered with New Age paraphernalia. There were candleholders in the shape of skulls on each table and the walls were decorated with astrological symbols. Miss Cackle smiled rather disdainfully. It always amazed her how many absurd preconceptions ordinary people had about magic.
She sat down at a table and the waitress, who had been talking to the young man at the counter, came towards her. There was something familiar about the girl but she couldn't place it.
"Miss Cackle?" The girl spoke her name in astonishment and at the sound of her voice Amelia recognised her.
"Mildred?" She was equally astonished. "Mildred Hubble!"
Mildred sat down in the chair facing her. "Miss Cackle, it's lovely to see you. What on earth are you doing in Cambridge?"
"I needed to speak to Professor Thunderblast about the entrance requirements for one of my Fourth Years. Unfortunately she's occupied for the next hour so I decided to take a look round the city."
Miss Cackle paused to study the girl in front of her. It was hardly surprising she had not recognised her at first. Her hair was now cut short and had a coppery reddish tinge that she doubted was natural, although she remembered Mildred's dark hair had started to lighten during her final year at Cackle's. Beneath her apron she wore smart but casual clothing and she was even wearing make up; not a great deal of it but enough to give her features a noticeably more adult look. It was hard to believe this well-groomed, sophisticated young woman had once been the messy, accident prone, endearing yet utterly exasperating girl who had repeatedly thrown her Academy into chaos.
"And what are you doing here, Mildred?" she enquired. "I would have expected you to be at the college."
"I work as a waitress here in my free time," Mildred told her. "The allowance from my parents isn't enough to cover expenses so I needed a job to make ends meet.
"Ah, so your work experience in Third Year was useful after all?"
"I suppose so, " Mildred agreed, smiling ruefully as she recalled the calamitous events of that day. "This place is rather different from Mrs Cosie's Tearooms though!"
"Indeed!" Miss Cackle agreed, looking round again at all the New Age decorations. "And how are your studies going Mildred?"
Mildred shrugged. "Pretty well actually. I was fourth overall at the end of last year. Ethel was first of course, but I came first in the practical exam. I still can't believe I actually beat Ethel Hallow in an exam!"
"That doesn't really surprise me, Mildred." Miss Cackle smiled at her former pupil's surprise. "Ethel is a talented young witch but much of what she has achieved is the result of sheer hard work. You however, no matter how you might have struggled with exams in the past, have a raw power and an instinctive grasp of magic Ethel will never match, no matter how hard she studies."
Mildred looked rather embarrassed at receiving such praise from her old Headmistress, and took the opportunity to ask for her order.
"Oh just a cup of tea please, and a small slice of…"
"Cheesecake?" Mildred finished her sentence with a mischievous grin and both of them laughed as Miss Cackle nodded.
"I'll be right back," Mildred promised and headed towards the counter. A minute later she returned with the order.
"It's been lovely to see you again Miss Cackle, but I've really got to make a start on the washing up now," Mildred apologised.
"That's quite all right, Mildred," Miss Cackle told her. "It's been good to see you too."
With a final smile at Miss Cackle Mildred turned back to the counter, pausing to speak to the young man. To Amelia's surprise he put his arm round her, caressing the small of her back. Mildred smiled affectionately at him then giggled and pushed him away as his hand began to move lower.
"Not here, Ben!" She spoke in a whisper that was plainly intended for his ears alone, but you tend to develop sharp hearing as Headmistress of a Witch Academy and Miss Cackle caught the words clearly. "Tonight, I promise!"
With that Mildred turned away and went through the door behind the counter that presumably led to the kitchens.
Miss Cackle frowned, not really approving of the intimate relationship her erstwhile pupil obviously enjoyed with this young man. However grown up and sophisticated Mildred now seemed she was still very young in Amelia's eyes and it worried her the girl might be rushing into experiences for which she was not ready.
Miss Cackle had no children, but she cared for all her past and present pupils almost as though they were her own family and worried how they might fare in the world beyond her Academy. Some like Ethel never concerned her; the Ethel Hallows of this world would always land on their feet, but Mildred had always seemed more vulnerable. Not in a physical sense- she could see Mildred was well on her way to becoming the powerful witch she always sensed she could be, and events at Cackle's had left no doubts about the girl's courage and resourcefulness – but emotionally. Mildred was so open hearted, so trusting and ready to believe the best of others and these were qualities that might one-day result in her being badly hurt.
Then with a sigh she reminded herself it was really none of her concern anymore. Mildred was an adult now in the eyes of the world, and responsible for her own life. She just hoped the greater maturity shown in Mildred's appearance and academic achievements carried over into other areas of her life.
As she sipped her tea, Miss Cackle reflected again on the changes in the former Worst Witch of the school. She had often seen it before, and would no doubt see it many times again in the future, but it would never cease to amaze her how miraculously a young girl could change in a few short years.
Her musings were interrupted by a deafening crash, and the sound of shattering crockery.
"Oh no!" Mildred's voice came clearly through the open door beyond the counter. "Where's that dustpan?"
Miss Cackle leaned back in her chair and began to laugh; she just couldn't help it. Perhaps things had not changed that much after all!