Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Hocus Pocus or The Blair Witch Project.
A/N: This is my first Hocus Pocus fanfic, so I will try to keep it as faithful to the original cannon as possible. Anyway this story is about Thackery and Elizabeth, another soul who was cursed by Winifred Sanderson the night she and her sisters were hanged, her story has been long forgotten in the pages of history.
This is the true story of Hocus Pocus...
A/N (31/10/2016): I've been re-editing this story over the last year or so, and I'll be uploading the changes as and when I get the chance. Keep an eye out on the A/N sections to see what chapters I've changed & let me know what you think!
Salem Village, Massachusetts.
When Elizabeth Taylor was ten years old she moved to Salem Village with her widowed mother, who was heavy with child, to live with her uncle the Reverend Parris after her father went down with his ship near Cape Cod. George Taylor had been a good, kind man and he had been overjoyed to discover he would be a father once again. They had lived in a large house on the sea front of Salem Town, a busy port that thrived from the trade coming in from England and far away Europe. It was on a return voyage from such places that Elizabeth's father lost his life in a sudden sea storm, leaving behind his grieving wife Rebecca and their daughter with no means to support themselves financially. George had left the business to his brother in England, but Uncle William had no intentions of coming to the New World to take it over nor provide any support to his newly widowed sister-in-law.
The Reverend Parris of Salem Village was her mother's brother, and he was their only male relative living in the colonies. So it was decided that they would move in with him and the two young girls under his care, Betty Parris his daughter and Abigail Williams his late wife's niece who were cared for by her Uncle's slave Tituba. It took some time for their possessions to be packed or sold to neighbours, whom were all sad to see them go, and their departure was further delayed by a sudden Indian attack on a small township to the South. No one would let them leave while it was so dangerous, and all the while her mother's due came closer and closer. But by harvest time the Indians had been routed, and the roads were somewhat safe again for them to travel on. Uncle Parris had sent a wagon to them to carry all their goods, along with Tituba's husband to drive them to the village. With heavy hearts they bid farewell to their friends and neighbours, promising to write to them as often as they could, before leaving Salem Town for good.
Her mother was in tears for the whole journey, but neither she nor Tituba's husband made any comment as the wagon travelled along the bumpy road to Salem Village.
They were welcomed to the small farming community with open arms and respectful sympathy for their loss. Uncle Parris was somewhat at a loss on how to comfort them, but he did his best and gave them time to greave, while Betty and Abigail quietly helped their Aunt and cousin to settle into the house. After a month or so, the pair quietly inserted themselves into the rhythm of life in the village, and were introduced to their neighbours after church by a slightly reluctant Parris.
It was during the introductions that Elizabeth first heard the name Sanderson, but it would take some time before she realised why the name caused the adults around her to get nervous whenever it was mentioned.
Not long after this, Elizabeth's cousins were instructed to show her how to be a respectable Puritan child, since the religion was followed more closely in Salem Village then it had been in Salem Town. Elizabeth found it hard to conform to such strict rules, especially when her Uncle would yell at her for the slightest deviation from his rules, but for the sake of her mother she tried to follow them in public to spare her Uncle any kind of embarrassment. Not that it would have made much difference she later learned, since it seamed that he was fighting with the Village council over the ownership of the Vicarage.
He explained to her mother one evening that when he came to the village, the previous council had given him the deeds to the Vicarage which stated the building was his and did not belong to the church of Salem Village. The current council claimed that the old council had no right to give him the deeds and demanded that he return them, since the building belonged to the village in general and not to the Reverend who lived in it. It was a bitter argument that had lasted for many months, with each side stubbornly refusing to back down until the other yielded. The village itself had been split down the middle, with those who supported her Uncle living in the West and those who opposed him residing in the East. It made going to church a very intense experience, since both sides were forced to sit together for hours while he Uncle preached and tempers were barely held under control.
Sometimes, Elizabeth wondered if her Uncle deliberately made his sermons long just to anger his opponents and keep them all together so he could stir up his supporters. She would never ask him if this was true, as she quickly learned that her Uncle had a sturdy horse whip and he was not afraid to use it if he was angered. Poor Betty had been his victim on that occasion, for supposedly smiling in church when her father had spoken about the Devil, and he sought to correct her the second they crossed the threshold of their home.
Betty had been unable to sit down properly for days once he was finished with her, leaving the women in his house to pick her up and take her away to be tended to. It was an unnecessary reminder that Elizabeth was no longer in her father's house, since he had never raised his hand to either her or her mother when other men would have.
A few tears found their way onto her pillow that night as she thought about her father.
Three months after their arrival, Elizabeth's little sister Ruth came into the world on a cold winter morning. The birth had been long and difficult but both mother and babe were strong and healthy, and Elizabeth actually began to smile again as she tended to the tiny girl bound in her swaddling bands. Ruth grew stronger every day, growing into a loveable toddler who was doted upon by her elder sister. Her cousins also loved her dearly, playing with her and singing songs to her while Tituba did the household work.
Then one day, Ruth disappeared.
Ruth had gone to bed with both her mother and her sister, sleeping between the two of them as she usually did. The next morning she was gone, the door to the house was ajar and little footprints in the mud lead towards the woods. The men immediately went out to search while Elizabeth and her cousins tried to comfort her mother, praying that the men would find her safe and sound.
The men returned that night with a small bundle in their arms.
Her mother flew to them crying her thanks to the Lord for delivering her baby, but she stopped dead when they showed her what lay inside the blanket. Her mother looked for a few moments before screaming, snatching the bundle away and cradling it to her chest as she fell to the ground. Elizabeth tried to go to her, but her Uncle Parris held her back as the townsfolk looked on with horror and fear.
Ruth was dead, murdered by the Sanderson sisters for her young life force.
Elizabeth went down that night to where her sister was laid out, ready for her burial the next day. A shroud lay over her tiny form, and Elizabeth pulled it back gently as if she was afraid to wake her from her eternal sleep. The sight that greeted her was horrific, and caused her to cry out in heartache and pain.
Ruth was a withered husk, her skin shrivelled and pale with the veins sticking out like rods travelling up her arms. Her hair was a stark while, no longer the rich golden brown that she had brushed daily for her. If it were not for her nightdress and her little wooden cross around her neck, Elizabeth would never had known it was her sister. Her mother came upon her the next day, her arms propped up on the rim of the coffin holding Ruth's withered hand within her own.
They buried Ruth that morning, a simple service that was alive with whispers of the Sanderson Sisters.
It was then that Elizabeth learned about the three old crones that lived in the woods outside the village boundary, the women that had literally sold their souls to the Devil in exchange for the ability to live forever. The Devil it was said had given the eldest sister Winifred a spell book bound in human skin, and within this book was a potion to steal the live force of children which would make the thief young again. The child would then end up like her beloved sister, a withered husk that was sometimes never recovered as the sisters buried them in the grounds in front of their house. The only reason Ruth had been recovered was that she had been found floating down a stream in the woods, and one of the men had spotted her nightgown in the gloom which led to their grim discovery.
Elizabeth had never felt such hated before, but these three faceless women had earned her utter loathing and she prayed daily for their undoing by the Lord's hand while she tended her sister's grave.
It was not long after the funeral that she met Thackery Binx.
Elizabeth was consumed with guilt and self loathing over Ruth's death, blaming herself for not protecting her baby sister from the witches. Nightmares plagued her at night, visions of Ruth screaming for her while three dark figures turned her into the withered husk she became. Life seemed to pass by without her noticing, they days blurring into one another as she went through the motions of life. Sometimes it was hard to stay inside the Vicarage without being reminded of Ruth in some way, so Elizabeth would flee the house and sit in the meadow that was next to the Binx's house to try and escape her memories.
A withered old tree stood in the far corner facing the woods, Elizabeth would sit amongst its roots and weep for her sister in private. It was on one such occasion that he found her crying among the roots, his voice making her nearly jump out of her skin with fright.
"Are thou alright, Elizabeth?"
She looked up to see young Thackery Binx, standing over her and holding out a handkerchief. She stared at him for a few moments, before her wounded pride and embarrassment reared its ugly head.
"Do I look alright to thee, Master Binx?"
She had not meant to snap at him, but she was scared and humiliated that someone had found her like that. She was supposed to be strong for her mother, not crying like a weakling at the drop of a hat when her emotions got the best of her. Elizabeth was tired of crying, but the tears would not stop falling no matter how furiously she swiped at her eyes and willed for them to stop. Thackery had crouched down to her level and held out the handkerchief once more.
"No, thou do not. And my name is Thackery, I can not stand it when folk call me 'Master Binx'."
His scowl made Elizabeth smile through her tears despite herself, and she gratefully took the handkerchief from him with a nod of thanks. He sat down next to her as she dried her eyes, his eyes holding a far away gaze. Elizabeth was grateful her was not looking at her, for she knew she must have looked pathetic and she forced herself to stop crying and calm down. She folded the tear stained cloth and held it out to him.
He shook his head.
"Nay, thou should keep it. Just in case."
She slipped it into her sleeve, her eyes focusing on the woods so that she would not foolishly burst into tears over a simple handkerchief. Elizabeth had in her anger desired to go into the woods and find the old crones and had marched from the Vicarage and across the very meadow she now sat in, but at the edge of the woods she realised that all she would do was cause her mother more sorrow if she was killed as well. So she had remained in the town, with anger and self-hatred festering within her soul. Thackery must have noticed the emotions flickering across her face, for he spoke up just as she took in a deep breath to calm herself once again.
"I am sorry for thy loss."
His voice was soft, as if he were afraid of breaking her if he spoke any louder. His sympathy was genuine and it caused tears to form at her eyelids, but she blinked them away. She had cried enough for one day.
"It was not thy fault."
Elizabeth knew it was true, she could have done nothing against the sisters and their dark spells. But she wished she could have done something, anything at all instead of rolling over and letting her baby sister die all alone in those woods.
"Yes it was. I should have protected her better."
Thackery turned his head sharply towards her, his expression causing her to jump at its fierceness. It reminded her of her father's expression when a sailor had tried to touch her mother, and it had not ended well for the other man. Elizabeth had never known all the details, since it was not exactly a topic of conversation she could casually introduce around the dinner table, but she knew enough that she never wished to end up on the wrong side of her father.
But it was strange to see such a passionate fire in the usually reserved young man beside her, as she had never seen Thackery act like this in the few times she had seen him around the village or in the church.
Thus he had her full attention.
"Elizabeth, it is not thy fault your sister has returned to the Lord. If any one should be blamed, it is the Sanderson hags!"
He grabbed her hand, the comforting gesture causing tears to build once more. She knew he was not angry with her, but with the ones who had caused her grief and guilt. Those feeling were burning her alive, and her mother was so grief stricken that she refused to leave their bed. Her Uncle was kind, but he had no experience in dealing with children who were greaving. Thackery was the only one to see what she was really feeling, and she was so grateful that he had and was trying to help her. She nodded her head, and he squeezed her hand once more in comfort.
"Come. My mother was asking after thee and thy mother, she would welcome the company."
She allowed him to pull her up, and to take her by the hand to his house where his mother was washing clothes in the sunshine. Goodwife Binx paused her work as the pair approached, rising with some difficulty since she was now quick with child. The woman approached Elizabeth and hugged her, which caused her tears to come forth once more to her mortification.
"Poor child. Your mother and thee have my heartfelt sympathy, if thou ever need help we are at thy service."
It took Elizabeth a moment to find her voice.
"T-Thank thee Goodwife Binx."
The woman released her, a sympathetic smile on her face. Thackery cleared his throat.
"Should thou be doing that mother? The doctor said…"
"Oh bother the doctor, he is no woman and neither is thee. Who else is going to clean thy shirts while ye are in the field with thy father? I will not have my son running around looking like some filthy ragamuffin!"
Elizabeth watched Thackery's ears turn red with embarrassment as his mother scolded him, and she could not stop the laugh that burst from her lips. Thackery's mother chuckled as well when his face went as red as a strawberry, and shooed him back to the field to help his father with the harvest. Elizabeth watched him go, unsure of what to do next when his mother called her over to the wash tub.
"As much as I love my son, he does worry so. But he was right, I am tired and should not be doing this work. Not that he will ever hear that from me."
"Would thou like some help, Goodwife Binx?"
The woman looked at her like she had just uttered an oath.
"Oh no child! I can not ask thee to do that, not when ye are still grieving for thy sister…"
"Nay, I do not mind. It helps me to stay busy…"
Elizabeth's mother had said the same when her father died, and she proved it by throwing herself into the task of moving them both to Salem Village. But now she had no move to bury herself in, just her pain and misery. Goodwife Binx gave her a look of understanding, putting her hand on Elizabeth's shoulder in a comforting gesture.
"Aye, that it does. Well if thou has no objections, I shall not refuse thee."
So Elizabeth spent the rest of the day with Goodwife Binx, keeping her back to the woods while she focused on beating the clothes almost to oblivion. It became something of a regular arrangement to help the woman around the house while her husband and son were in the fields, and it kept her mind off her grief for most of the day. But at night when she lay beside her mother in their large bed, she would immediately notice the lack of a tiny body pressed against her side and her grief would rear its ugly head once more.
Emily Binx came into the world in the summer after Ruth's passing, and holding her tiny form not long after her birth had brought all her memories of Ruth to the forefront of her mind. Goodwife Binx had calmly helped her to sit on the bed beside her as her vision flooded with tears, and the woman had let her hold the baby as she cried her heart out for her lost sister. Thackery had hovered in the doorway for a time, before he came in at his mother's insistence and sat a respectful distance away from her.
The pair of them quietly became her emotional pillars of support as she fought to get herself back into her old routines, and Emily's tiny smiles became a soothing balm on the wound that would never fully heal in her heart. Ruth's grave was one of the best tended ones in the church yard, as Elizabeth was a constant visitor to the tiny patch of earth that held her sister's remains.
For no matter how much time would go by, Elizabeth would never forget her nor the manner in which she was taken from them.
I will never forget, my Ruth...I promise thee, I will find a way to avenge thy death.