Disclaimer: I don't own 'The Worst Witch' or anything associated with it.
A/N: *waves* Hello Folks. I know I've been a bit quiet of late with the posting, but I've been trying to clear my 'to-read list'; it's going down slowly but surely. Anyway this is just a one-shot I came up with - I have no idea what the stars have to do with anything, but my brain just ran with the idea, so I hope it reads okay and not just as utter twaddle *fingers crossed*.
I don't have any cookies so you can have some of my sister's 'Magic Stars' (she won't miss them plus she's getting on my last nerve!) instead and NCD (and anyone else that wants them) can have carrot sticks :)
Slowing down her pace she stopped suddenly as the realisation of what she was doing finally hit her like a tidal wave. On some level, deep down, she knew she was probably already aware of it but she was too far gone in the midst of panic; her usual rational and logical mind clouded by unbridled terror, which is how she'd found herself standing in the middle of the forest clearing at just gone midnight with no real recollection of how she had got there.
The last thing she remembered was pacing her bedroom frantically, her mind going into overdrive as she tried to calm her racing heart. She needed something...anything to distract herself from the inspection and more specifically from the inspector. She paced back and forth and back and forth, over and over again, but it wasn't enough to drown out the sound of the voice in her mind, going round on a constant loop as it counted down the hours until she came face to face with her very worst nightmare. Aside from the constant ticking from the clock the room was silent; the silence was suffocating her, the bare walls becoming smaller and smaller as they threatened to close in on her. She couldn't breathe; her chest tightening as she fought for air. She had to get out, go somewhere...anywhere. She had to escape from her own mind. She opened the door...and ran.
The forest was completely still, devoid of any night life, even the nocturnal animals of the world seemed to be in hiding. She was alone...and she was lost, not in a literal sense for she knew the layout of the forest like the back of her hand, but in life.
She didn't know what to do.
Her eyes flickered around her surroundings as they desperately searched for answers she knew she would not find, but it didn't stop her from trying; clinging to a false hope?, looking for a miracle?, a sign?, someone to tell her that everything would be alright?, she didn't know.
Turning her attention to the stars in the sky she sighed before sitting down on a log. There was once a time when she could spend hour after hour watching them, when other children would draw day; the yellow sun in the corner of the page, she would draw night; the stars in the sky high above. She had enjoyed occasionally sitting out in the back garden with her parents after the sun had gone down, as the day faded and the night began. The night was bigger than the day and life seemed to have more possibilities; everything seemed to sparkle that bit more and she felt so safe.
Yes, she had once loved the stars and whilst being a witch was all she had ever wanted - the chance to brew potions, the chance to cast spells and the chance to fly a broomstick through the sky on a dark night- the light from the stars had always offered her that little bit of comfort; reassuring her that she wasn't on her own, and it was all down to the words her mother had told her back when she was seven years old...
"No Mummy. I want my curtains open!"
"Connie, sweetie, you won't be able to sleep with the curtains open." Her mother, Vivienne, tried to reason with her as she went to pull the curtains over. In response Constance pouted before pulling the covers over her head and hiding from her mother, the head of Brambles the teddy bear soon disappearing from sight as he joined in with the hiding.
Vivienne rolled her eyes, she couldn't do with another tantrum from the fussy seven year old who was already well on her way to ruling the roost. Yes, her daughter certainly liked to get her own way- a trait she had no doubt inherited from her mother: like mother, like daughter. "Alright," she sighed in mock defeat "You win. You can have them open."
Though she didn't retreat from under the covers, peering out from under them, in the darkness, Constance grinned, pleased that she had won.
'Connie 1; Mummy 0'
Lifting the covers off Constance crawled out and into her mother's arms, who then pulled her onto her lap.
"Why do you want them open anyway?" Vivienne enquired, curious of the answer and preparing herself for one of her daughter's long and very detailed explanations.
Constance pointed to the window as she whispered "pretty stars." Nestling into her mother's chest and breathing in her familiar scent- the distinct aroma of Chanel No5- she looked up and saw that her mother was looking out the window at the stars outside; the sky was an inky black, a total blackout, with the exception of hundreds of tiny stars that were dotted throughout, twinkling in all their beauty like precious jewels.
"Aren't they pretty mummy?"
For a moment there was silence before her mother spoke "Yes. Yes they are." She couldn't be sure but she was sure she could see faint tears glistening in her eyes.
"And you know Connie that the stars are magical and as long as they shine, they'll keep you safe."
They sat like that for a while as they read through Sleeping Beauty, the favourite of all the fairy tales. Vivienne had lost count of the amount of times she must have read the story to her daughter now but every time she did she would see her face light up, almost as if she was just hearing the story for the first time. After they had finished the last page her mother lifted her from her lap and into bed, tucking her in so she was nice and cosy and of course making sure that Brambles too was nice and snug under her arms.
"Night Princess," she whispered as she placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "I'll get Daddy to come and give you a kiss when he comes in from work." With that she left the room, closing the door gently behind her.
After the door closed Constance turned so she was on her side and facing the window, then continued to watch the stars sparkle until she fell asleep.
She had naively clung to that belief for a good few years, when everything else would go wrong she would turn to the stars and feel better for it. After her father's death she would spend hours watching them, talking to them and wishing that she was talking to him. Her mother had told her that 'Daddy was a star in the sky' so she knew he would watch over her and protect her since that's what the stars did and even after her mother's death that belief still never wavered. She wondered years later if deep down she had known all along but had chosen to try and keep the past alive just for a little bit longer.
That belief stood strong up until the age of 11, when she went to witch training college and encountered the woman who would change her beyond recognition and continue to haunt her until her dying day. It was there that her belief became tainted and the connection to her childhood became severed as she learned just how much of a lie the words had truly been...
The energy around her crackled and fizzed, hissing like a dangerous cobra as it wrapped itself tight around its victim, creating a mesmerising spiral-like effect that encircled her whole body. It was almost hypnotic to watch; the red strands dancing by command, twisting this way and that. All her magical senses were heightened as raw magic filled the air: She could see it. She could hear it.
And she could feel it...
She could barely breathe as those strands of magic suddenly tightened their grip, getting tighter and tighter, to the point of near suffocation, before they began to choke her; slowly crushing her fragile young body, with the ease of a fist crushing a flower in full bloom, as she sprawled helplessly across the flagstone.
The energy suddenly dispersed and she dared to breathe a sigh of relief, hoping that the worst was over, only to find her hopes were short-lived. It started off so gentle at first, barely more than a slight tingle of the skin but it quickly changed; her arm gripped by an invisible force as raw energy snaked its way up her arm and through her veins. It coursed through her body, piercing her skin over and over; thousands of tiny pricks stabbing her again and again.
It burned so much.
It was like lava from an erupting volcano pouring through her insides. Her ability to do anything, except focus on the excruciating pain, was clouded as her mind drifted; lost in the agony.
"S-s-stop... pl-plea-s-s-e." She choked out pitifully.
Tears leaked from her eyes, she had tried her hardest to hold them in, a strong feeling telling her that it would only serve to make matters worse, but one by one they began to fall; like a river bursting its banks and flooding the entire grounds.
She couldn't help it.
The pain was so strong and so unbearable, it was like nothing she'd experienced before and everything she never wanted to experience again. The heat was so intense it forced her to back away, but she couldn't... she couldn't move. Her body ached: every muscle, every bone and every nerve-ending was shot to pieces.
She no longer had the energy left to scream; just the fight to stay conscious was a near impossible feat. Instead she remained silent through the hours of torture. Her eyes never leaving the stars in the sky, shining so brightly they blurred her vision. Fresh tears trailed down her face as she recalled her mother's words from only a few years previously.
"You know Connie that the stars are magical and as long as they shine, they'll keep you safe."
And realised they had been a lie...
As her tutor loomed over her, like a wolf about to attack its captured prey, she knew.
The stars couldn't keep her safe.
She was all alone.
A small tear trailed down her cheek as she recalled the painful memory but she wiped it away as quick as it had come, scared to be caught in a moment of weakness even though she knew there was no one there to see her. It was by no means the worst torture she had been subjected to under Heckitty Broomhead's so called 'care', but it was the one that stuck out in her mind the most; her once happy childhood memory tainted by truth, brutality and misery.
After that she could barely bring herself to look at the stars, there was a part of her that hated them, she hated everything in fact. She hated witch training college. She hated the smell of damp. She hated the cold, dark, windowless cell of a room she was forced to spend so much of her time in. She hated everything about it but there was one aspect she hated even more than anything else: her tutor.
She hated Heckitty Broomhead so much yet she also completely feared her. The two emotions had blended together leaving her unable to distinguish between them but she knew that, in the end, fear had won by far. Heckitty Broomhead had instilled so much fear in her that she was afraid to do anything, to put even one toe over the line, so afraid was she of getting it wrong and paying the heavy price for her mistake.
The woman was like poison; she was deadly and toxic, spreading her venom everywhere she went, choking the roots of a plant so it would no longer grow and flourish, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake, but nothing ever sticking to her.
They were just some of the words used to describe her. She was infamous in the magical community, her high status excusing her behaviour, mainly because most were too afraid to challenge her.
She didn't know what she could possibly have done to have made the universe so mad at her, to inflict the treacherous woman on her. Once had been bad enough- she had barely escaped and survived with her life back then, but twice?! It just wasn't fair!, but then again neither was life. It seemed anytime she tried to move on she would take one step forward and three back; there was just no escaping from the past. Heckitty was always inside her mind: criticising every move she made, every choice, questioning everything she did and it would take all the strength she could muster to silence that voice, even just for a few hours, so she could do her job, but now... after all these years, she was going to have to face her demon again.
Heckitty Broomhead was coming to Cackles...
The very thought sent a chill down her spine, it made her head spin and it made her feel sick to the stomach.
And the sky...was mocking her.
The Mistress of pure evil was arriving in just a few short hours; the minutes slowly ticking away like sand trickling down a sand timer and it was no use wishing upon a star. The stars could offer her no protection and provide her no shield.
Much as she wanted to carry on running she knew she couldn't - partly because she knew that you can't out run your fears, god knows she had tried, but mainly because there were people that depended on her... that needed her.
To run would be selfish.
To leave the rest of the Academy to deal with Heckitty Broomhead would be selfish.
At least she knew what they were dealing with but on their own they wouldn't stand a chance. All Heckitty would need to do was find a weak link and she could bring the school to its knees...
She couldn't let that happen.
Cackle's Academy was the place she had found when she had nothing else, the place that had offered her a chance for a new start and the people: the headmistress whose kind nature reminded her so much of her own mother, her fellow colleagues and the girls.
It was her home.
It was her family.
Cackle's had saved her and she owed her life to it.
No, the stars couldn't save them but maybe she could?